Feb 122021
 


Ansel Adams The Tetons and the Snake River 1942

 

Cuomo Aide Admits They Hid Nursing Home Data From Feds (NYP)
Kent Covid Variant Mutation Must Be Taken Seriously, Warns UK Scientist (G.)
‘Denier’ Is The Dirty Word Of The Pandemic (Furedi)
Biden Administration Says No Domestic Travel Restrictions Planned (F.)
Twitter Permanently Suspends ‘Project Veritas’ Group (Hill)
Instagram Removes Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Account With 800,000+ Subscribers (RT)
Reckless Rhetoric Is A Reckless Standard For An Impeachment Trial (Turley)
G7 Seen Backing Issuance Of New IMF SDRs (R.)
Markets Are Giddy About Reopening – And That’s The Problem (Pol.)
The Only Way Out of the Death Trap (Rickards)
Why Victoria Nuland Is Dangerous and Should Not Be Confirmed (Antiwar)
Database Of All Ivermectin COVID-19 Studies (C19I)

 

 

A new insight:

 

 

Myopia.

 

 

Remember the hospital ships Trump set to New York? Cuomo didn’t use them. Because it was Trump.

“Cuomo sent 9000 infected patients into nursing homes instead of the USNS Comfort.”

While he be indicted, along with his helpers? I wouldn’t count on it.

Cuomo Aide Admits They Hid Nursing Home Data From Feds (NYP)

Governor Cuomo’s top aide privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the state’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19 — telling them “we froze” out of fear the true numbers would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors, The Post has learned. The stunning admission of a cover-up was made by Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa during a video conference call with state Democratic leaders in which she said the Cuomo administration had rebuffed a legislative request for the tally in August because “right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football,” according to an audio recording of the two-hour-plus meeting.

“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa said. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.” In addition to attacking Cuomo’s fellow Democratic governors, DeRosa said, Trump “directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.” “And basically, we froze,” she told the lawmakers on the call. “Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.” DeRosa added: “That played a very large role into this.”

After dropping the bombshell, DeRosa asked for “a little bit of appreciation of the context” and offered what appears to be the Cuomo administration’s first apology for its handling of nursing homes amid the pandemic. But instead of a mea culpa to the grieving family members of more than 13,000 dead seniors or the critics who say the Health Department spread COVID-19 in the care facilities with a March 25 state Health Department directive that nursing homes admit infected patients, DeRosa tried to make amends with the fellow Democrats for the political inconvenience it caused them. “So we do apologize,” she said. “I do understand the position that you were put in. I know that it is not fair. It was not our intention to put you in that political position with the Republicans.”

Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) immediately rejected DeRosa’s expression of remorse, according to the recording. “I don’t have enough time today to explain all the reasons why I don’t give that any credit at all,” said Gottfried, one of the lawmakers who demanded the death-toll data in August. State Senate Aging Committee Chairwoman Rachel May (D-Syracuse) — who was battered during her re-election bid last year over the issue of nursing-home deaths — also ripped into DeRosa, saying her former opponent had launched another broadside earlier in the day. “And the issue for me, the biggest issue of all is feeling like I needed to defend — or at least not attack — an administration that was appearing to be covering something up,” she said.

Read more …

So start sending out the vitamin D. And boost your ivermectin supplies.

Kent Covid Variant Mutation Must Be Taken Seriously, Warns UK Scientist (G.)

The Kent variant of the coronavirus with a key mutation that enables the South African variant to escape some of the vaccines used against it must be taken very seriously in the UK, according to a leading microbiologist. Prof Ravi Gupta of the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases, who is a member of the government’s scientific advisory body Nervtag, warned that the mutated variant, at the moment causing just 21 known cases, should be treated with as much concern as the South African variant. The Kent variant B117, which spreads twice as fast as the original coronavirus, is now dominant in the UK and is present in many countries around the world.

But Public Health England has identified 21 cases of B117 that also have the E484K mutation: 14 in the Bristol region, four in Greater Manchester and three elsewhere. E484K is the change to the spike protein in South Africa that scientists believe is chiefly responsible for vaccines triggering a lower antibody response to infection. Nervtag (new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group), which is part of the UK Sage committee of scientists, has designated this a “variant of concern”. This key mutation that had now arisen in the UK has been shown to reduce the efficacy of antibodies in many lab studies, said Gupta. So treating it as we would the South African variant itself is sensible, he said.

“Given that we think this one is responsible for a large knock-off of the effects of vaccine efficacy or even immunity, then, I think it’s wise,” he said. E484K is also found in the Brazilian variant, which it is thought may be infecting people who should be immune because they had previously become ill with the original coronavirus – although the evidence is still anecdotal. “Given all these factors, I think it should be taken very seriously,” he said.

Read more …

“The targeting of denial has little to do with the distinct features of any specific issues. It is driven by a mood of intolerance towards those who are sceptical of the received wisdom.”

‘Denier’ Is The Dirty Word Of The Pandemic (Furedi)

Legitimate views about the effectiveness of lockdown are being silenced with accusations of Covid ‘denial’. The misuse of this powerful and emotive word, often associated with the Holocaust, is morally wrong and needs to stop. These days, if you want to shut down critical or dissident views, all you need to do is shout ‘denier’. This morally charged scare word is often hurled at anyone who questions the efficacy of the current lockdown or any of the policies associated with it. Consequently, the term denial is used to delegitimise the view of someone who is sceptical about the lockdown. For some time now, scepticism – an attitude associated with a questioning mind – has been targeted by would-be censors and treated as a marker for insidious behaviour. ‘How climate scepticism turned into something more dangerous’ warns an academic in the Guardian.

The rhetorical strategy of attributing malevolent intent to scepticism is demonstrated by the decision of the Guardian to update its style guide by changing the usage of the term ‘climate sceptic’ to that of ‘climate denier’. With its long-established religious connotation as an expression of heresy, denial communicates an act of mortal sin. This quasi-religious meaning is still conveyed by 21st century moral entrepreneurs. “I have seen Covid denial up close – it was a chilling experience,” writes a commentator. In recent times, the term denial has mutated from its religious connotations to become an all-purpose secular sin. It has emerged as a turbo-charged moral crime because of its association with the Holocaust. [..] This self-conscious exploitation of the Holocaust was illustrated by a journalist for the online magazine Grist, who wanted to see global warming deniers prosecuted like Nazi war criminals.

With the tone of vitriol characteristic of dogmatic inquisitors, he noted that “we should have war crimes trials for these bastards,” adding “some sort of climate Nuremberg.” During the pandemic, the rhetoric of denial has been frequently used to associate people who are sceptical of government policy with the sins of other types of denials. As one commentator explained: “Denial is pernicious and can have dire impacts. Climate change denial leads to lack of action that would preserve a healthy planet. Mask denial leads to increased spread of and mortality from the Covid virus. Denial of sexual abuse leads to horrific instances where an abuser is allowed to persist in their malfeasance for years because those responsible for the institutions in which they operated – schools, churches, companies, scouts, etc) refused to face the terrible reality that existed under their own roofs.”

From this perspective, denial itself, without regard to any specific object is pernicious. The targeting of denial has little to do with the distinct features of any specific issues. It is driven by a mood of intolerance towards those who are sceptical of the received wisdom. The alarmist tone used to rebrand anyone sceptical of a lockdown policy as a denier makes it difficult for many people to openly voice their reservations on the predicament they face. A lockdown sceptic is not simply treated as someone with a different point of view but as a threat to the community. They are also condemned for having blood on their hands. They have “deadly beliefs” which constitute a threat to the survival of a community.

Read more …

Florida just made the whole thing up?!

Biden Administration Says No Domestic Travel Restrictions Planned (F.)

The Biden administration has denied reports that it’s actively considering domestic travel restrictions to slow the spread of new coronavirus variants, telling Reuters Thursday that “no specific decisions are under consideration” after Florida Republicans slammed the suggestion that the White House could restrict travel to the state. An anonymous Biden source told the Miami Herald Wednesday the administration was actively discussing “potential travel restrictions within the United States” as a way to curb emerging coronavirus variants, as the more transmissible variant first detected in the United Kingdom is expected to become the U.S.’s primary strain by March.

Though the official said no particular states were so far being targeted by the potential restrictions and no final decisions had yet been made, the variants are especially prevalent in Florida and California, and the official said “all options are on the table.” Republicans heavily opposed the travel restrictions: in a letter to President Joe Biden quoted by the Herald, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the move would be “an outrageous, authoritarian move that has no basis in law or science.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed the possibility of restrictions at a press conference Thursday, saying it “would purely be a political attack against the people of Florida” and “it’s unclear why they would even try talking about that.”

A White House spokesperson denied the report to Reuters Thursday, saying that while the administration is “continuing to discuss” potential travel recommendations, “To be clear, there have been no decisions made around additional public health measures for domestic travel safety.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing Thursday that while the administration is “always considering what steps are necessary” for public health, “no decisions have been made” regarding any measures that could affect domestic travel considerations.

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Twitter will go.

Twitter Permanently Suspends ‘Project Veritas’ Group (Hill)

Twitter permanently suspended an account belonging to Project Veritas on Thursday, citing repeat violations of the site’s policies against publishing private information. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to The Hill that the main Project Veritas account was permanently suspended, while founder James O’Keefe had his account temporarily locked. Several recent tweets on O’Keefe’s timeline appeared to have been deleted by Thursday afternoon. [..] Founded in 2010, Project Veritas is a right-wing group that routinely published undercover sting videos, some of which have been accused of deceptive editing. Last October the group was criticized after claiming to have uncovered a witness to voter fraud in Minnesota only for the witness to backtrack on his claims days later and accuse Project Veritas operatives of trying to bribe him, according to multiple reports.

The group, which frequently targets Democratic politicians and media organizations, scored a victory last year when an ABC News correspondent was suspended after a Veritas video showed him claiming that the network does not care about newsworthy issues. They have also published videos of a “Good Morning America” anchor complaining about the network ignoring her story on disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. O’Keefe, in an emailed statement, told The Hill that the content in question was a video of Project Veritas members questioning a Facebook executive, Guy Rosen.

“Late last night, Twitter locked Project Veritas’s and my Twitter accounts, claiming we violated Twitter Guidelines by posting a video of our journalists asking questions of Facebook’s Vice President Guy Rosen which Rosen refused to answer. Twitter claimed the video published private information, which is false. Twitter invited Project Veritas to, and we did, appeal that decision with Twitter. In an apparent act of retaliation for daring to question their authority, Twitter responded to our appeal by suspending our account, continuing to tell us that Project Veritas could delete the tweet and have our account reinstated,” said O’Keefe. “This is nothing new from Twitter – just last fall Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted in Congress his company’s decision to block the New York Post was erroneous while still demanding the Post kneel before them by deleting the tweet,” he continued, adding: “Here we go again – Twitter opting to delete news and demand fealty when their decision is dared to be questioned.”

Read more …

This is worse than thought police. Cut them down to size.

Instagram Removes Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Account With 800,000+ Subscribers (RT)

Facebook has taken down the Instagram page of former president John F. Kennedy’s nephew – a prominent vaccine critic with 800,000 subscribers. The tech giant has recently stepped up its offensive on what it deems Covid-19 disinfo Kennedy’s Instagram account with its massive following was erased on Wednesday. “We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” Facebook said, confirming the deletion of his hugely popular page. The account was yanked shortly after the Washington Post reported that it had alerted the Facebook-owned social network to Kennedy’s post with the viral clip from “Planet Lockdown.” The video is an interview starring Kennedy’s ally, Catherine Austin Fitts, who served as assistant secretary of housing in the George H.W. Bush administration.


In the clip, which has since been scrapped from YouTube, Facebook, and other established social media, Fitts reportedly argues that the vaccination drive against Covid-19 is a sinister plot masterminded by a global cabal, and that vaccines can change people’s DNA or render them infertile. Kennedy, who was known to be a vocal vaccine skeptic long before the pandemic, reposted the video on December 29. It had reportedly racked up some 900,000 views before it was taken down. He also boasts a sizable 214,000-strong following on Twitter, however his handle there appears to be intact. Kennedy Jr. has drawn stark criticism for his anti-vaccine stance from the mainstream media, with CNN’s Jake Tapper labeling him a “menace” for calling Dr. Anthony Fauci a “very sinister guy who has turned” America over to “Big Pharma.”

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Reckless rhetoric reflects our age of rage.

Reckless Rhetoric Is A Reckless Standard For An Impeachment Trial (Turley)

The Trump team is likely to play back similar language used by Democrats in both houses to “fight” for the country and to “retake” Congress. During Trump’s 2017 inauguration, Democrats denounced his legitimacy as riots broke out in Washington involving violent groups. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) later called on people to confront Republicans in public; Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) insisted during 2020’s violent protests that “there needs to be unrest in the streets.” Then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said “protesters should not let up” even as many protests turned violent or deadly. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has condemned fellow members as effectively traitors and the “enemy within.” She was criticized last year for stating, in the midst of violent protests, that “I just don’t know why there aren’t uprisings all over the country. Maybe there will be.”

All of these Democrats insist they meant peaceful acts — and I believe them. But that is the point: Rioters sought to burn federal buildings or occupy state capitals and, in some cases, seized police stations, sections of cities, even a city hall. Democrats’ words did not cause that violence on the left. Yet, this impeachment trial invites the same or similar words to be interpreted subjectively, based on whether you believe or approve of the speaker. Reckless rhetoric reflects our age of rage. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stood in front of the Supreme Court and, citing two justices by name, declared menacingly: “Hey, Gorsuch. Hey, Kavanaugh — you’ve unleashed a whirlwind. And you’re going to pay the price.” Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) seemed to defend the recent violent takeover of a St. Louis prison by tweeting the words of Martin Luther King that “a riot is the language of the unheard.”

Nor is this limited to Washington: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) defended state Rep. Cynthia Johnson (D) who called for “soldiers” to “make [Trump supporters] pay” for criticizing and harassing her. Fired FBI director James Comey has been given to reckless rhetoric, too. He recently said: “The Republican Party needs to be burned down … It’s just not a healthy political organization.” Likewise, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin declared that “We have to collectively, in essence, burn down the Republican Party. We have to level them because if there are survivors, if there are people who weather this storm, they will do it again.” Since the Republican National Committee was targeted with a pipe bomb on Jan. 6, would that constitute incitement to arson or violence?

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The final step towards oblivion.

G7 Seen Backing Issuance Of New IMF SDRs (R.)

Group of Seven finance ministers are likely to back a new allocation of the International Monetary Fund’s own currency, or special drawing rights, at an online meeting on Friday to help low-income countries, sources said. A new issuance is similar to when a central bank prints money as the new SDRs give each IMF member more reserves to draw on in proportion to their shareholding in the Fund. Officials from the United States, the IMF’s biggest shareholder, have signalled they are open to a new issuance of $500 billion, sources said – a clear shift in position under the administration of new U.S. President Joe Biden. “We expect Friday’s G7 meeting to take decisions on important initiatives, and for France that is the question of a new allocation of IMF special drawing rights,” a French finance ministry source said.


A consensus among the G7 rich nations would pave the way for a broader agreement among G20 countries next month, which could in turn set the stage for a formal decision at the IMF’s annual spring meeting in April. Two sources familiar with the matter said U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had not clearly stated her views on the matter. A third source said Republicans in the U.S. Congress would “have a field day” with the potential boost in funding for China, Iran and Venezuela. Proponents said it would be difficult for countries facing U.S. sanctions to access the cash, however, as they would have to use banks wary of running afoul of Washington. Senior Democratic U.S. senators who back an even larger allocation of 2 trillion SDRs are lobbying U.S. Treasury officials personally to move forward, including through direct calls, a Senate aide said.

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Until the Fed withdraws, there are no markets.

Markets Are Giddy About Reopening – And That’s The Problem (Pol.)

Gas prices are climbing. Home prices are surging. Stock markets keep hitting fresh records as chatroom-driven mania draws in giddy investors. The economy and financial markets appear to be pricing themselves for perfection, betting on rapid vaccinations and a surge of consumer spending later this year that will pull the nation out of its pandemic funk. Serious risks are still lurking just below the surface: Vaccinations could take far longer than expected. New Covid strains could evade vaccines and spur new lockdowns. All of this could trigger falls in stock prices and other assets and stomp on job creation.

But if the dream scenario does arrive, another risk is lurking: A burst of new spending and economic growth coupled with the massive amount of fiscal stimulus in the system — possibly including nearly $2 trillion more under the White House’s latest plan — could lead to a sharp spike in inflation. That would send stocks tumbling and could force the U.S. Federal Reserve to contemplate raising interest rates to cool the economy. The Goldilocks scenario Wall Street and the White House are hoping for includes a successful vaccination effort and enough federal support to keep millions of suffering Americans afloat until then, followed by an economy that runs neither too hot nor too cold. But there is no guarantee Goldilocks will arrive.

“The Biden plan coming on top of last year’s stimulus, the budding increase in union power, the rising risk of import inflation coupled with a ballooning trade deficit, and other data suggest to me that inflation will jump,” said Richard Bernstein of financial firm RBAdvisors. And it could be that all the easy money from the Fed has created dangerous bubbles that could pop, Bernstein warned. “The Fed is providing tons of liquidity, but because banks have been hesitant to lend, the liquidity is trapped in the financial economy and bubbles are forming. Whether it’s Bitcoin, SPACs, Robinhood day traders, or anything similar, it’s clearly not healthy capital formation.”

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“The Fed can call a board meeting, vote on a new policy, walk outside and announce to the world that effective immediately, the price of gold is $5,000 per ounce.”

The Only Way Out of the Death Trap (Rickards)

Economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart carried out a long historical survey going back 800 years, looking at individual countries, or empires in some cases, that have gone broke or defaulted on their debt. They put the danger zone at a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90%. Once it reaches 90%, debt becomes a drag on growth. Meanwhile, we’re looking at deficits of $1 trillion or more, long after the pandemic subsides. In basic terms, the United States is going broke. We’re heading for a sovereign debt crisis. I don’t say that for effect. I’m not looking to scare people or to make a splash. That’s just an honest assessment based on the numbers. Tax cuts won’t bring us out of it, neither can structural changes to the economy. Both would help if done properly, but the problem is simply far too large.

So, an economic time bomb is ticking. Velocity is dropping. Debt is growing while growth is slowing. The explosion will come in the form of asset bubbles bursting and stocks crashing. There’s no way out of the debt death trap. Or is there? There is actually a way out. It’s the only solution left, really. And that’s inflation. Deflation increases the real value of debt. With deflation, the value of money increases, making it more burdensome to pay off debt. This is why debtors hate deflation. And guess who is the world’s largest debtor nation? That’s right, the U.S. On the other hand, inflation decreases the real value of debt. It’s easier to pay down debt because you’re paying back debt with dollars that are less valuable than when you originally borrowed them. But the Fed has failed to produce inflation for over a decade now, despite all the trillions of dollars it’s fabricated.

Then how can the government and the Fed produce inflation now? The solution is to increase the price of gold in order to change inflationary expectations. That will increase money velocity and get the growth engine running again. The Fed could actually cause inflation in about 15 minutes if it used this method. FDR did this to perfection in 1933, and his actions began to dig us out of the Great Depression. Jerome Powell, Biden and his Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen could do it again if they wanted to (assuming they know how, which is probably too much to assume). But how could they increase the gold price to increase money velocity and change inflation expectations? I’ve written about it before, but it bears revisiting, especially since there are newer readers who may be unfamiliar with it. Here’s how they can do it:

The Fed can call a board meeting, vote on a new policy, walk outside and announce to the world that effective immediately, the price of gold is $5,000 per ounce. They could make that new price stick by using the Treasury’s gold in Fort Knox and the major U.S. bank gold dealers to conduct “open market operations” in gold. The Fed will be a buyer if the price hits $4,950 per ounce or less and a seller if the price hits $5,050 per ounce or higher. They will print money when they buy and reduce the money supply when they sell via the banks. The Fed would target the gold price rather than interest rates. The point is to cause a generalized increase in the price level. A rise in the price of gold from $1,900 per ounce to $5,000 per ounce is a massive devaluation of the dollar when measured in the quantity of gold that one dollar can buy.

Read more …

She was involved in everything from 2000 on. So much suffering.

Why Victoria Nuland Is Dangerous and Should Not Be Confirmed (Antiwar)

Victoria Nuland exemplifies the neocons who have led US foreign policy from one disaster to another for the past 30 years while evading accountability. It is a bad sign that President Joe Biden has nominated Victoria Nuland for the third highest position at the State Department, Under Secretary for Political Affairs. As a top-level appointee, Victoria Nuland must be confirmed by the US Senate. There is a campaign to Stop her confirmation. The following review of her work shows why Victoria Nuland is incompetent, highly dangerous and should not be confirmed.

Afghanistan and Iraq: From 2000 to 2003, Nuland was US permanent representative to NATO as the Bush administration attacked then invaded Afghanistan. The Afghan government offered to work with the US remove Al Qaeda, but this was rejected. After Al Qaeda was defeated, the US could have left Afghanistan but instead stayed, established semi-permanent bases, split the country, and is still fighting there two decades later. From 2003 to 2005 Nuland was principal foreign policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney who “helped plan and manage the war that toppled Saddam Hussein, including making Bush administration’s case for preemptive military actions based on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.” The foreign policy establishment, with Nuland on the far right, believed that removing Saddam Hussein and installing a US “ally” would be simple. The invasion and continuing occupation have resulted in over a million dead Iraqis, many thousands of dead Americans, hundreds of thousands with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at a cost of 2 to 6 TRILLION dollars.

[..] Victoria Nuland has promoted a foreign policy of intervention through coups, proxy wars, aggression, and ongoing occupations. The policy has been implemented with bloody and disastrous results in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. With consummate hypocrisy she accuses Russia of spreading misinformation in the US, while she openly seeks to put “stress on Putin where he is vulnerable, including among his own citizens.” She wants to “establish permanent bases along NATO’s eastern border and increase the pace and visibility of joint training exercises.”

Victoria Nuland is the queen of chicken hawks, the Lady Macbeth of perpetual war. There are hundreds of thousands of victims from the policies she has promoted. Yet she has not received a scratch. On the contrary, Victoria Nuland probably has profited from a stock portfolio filled with military contractors.Now Victoria Nuland wants to provoke, threaten and “rollback” Russia. A quick look at a map of US military bases shows who is threatening whom. Victoria Nuland is highly dangerous and should not be confirmed.

Read more …

Dig in!

Database Of All Ivermectin COVID-19 Studies (C19I)

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 152021
 
 January 15, 2021  Posted by at 10:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


Salvador Dalí Living still life 1956

 

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)
Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)
After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)
Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)
Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)
Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)
Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)
Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)
Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)
Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)
Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)
ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)
Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

 

 

I can’t unsee this picture. This is not the only one that has the same angle. The photographer knew what he was doing, and moved till he had it just right.

 

 

 

 

Special Russiagate Counsel needed.

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)

Delivering in his final days on one of his last unfulfilled promises, President Trump is declassifying a massive trove of FBI documents showing the Russia collusion story was leaked in the final weeks of the 2016 election in an effort to counteract Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. The memos to be released as early as Friday include FBI interviews and human source evaluation reports for two of the main informants in the Russia case, former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and academic Stefan Halper. The president authorized the release of a foot-high stack of internal FBI and DOJ documents that detail significant flaws in the investigation and provide a detailed timeline of when the FBI first realized the Steele dossier was problematic, multiple government officials told Just the News.

Among the bombshell revelations is an admission by Steele that he violated his confidential human source agreement with the FBI and leaked information from his dossier to the news media in the final weeks of the election because he wanted to counteract new revelations in the Hillary Clinton email scandal that were hurting her election efforts. The former foreign intelligence officer made the confession in a fall 2017 interview with agents. Steele, who was hired by Clinton’s campaign law firm to compile anti-Trump dossiers attempting to link Trump to Russian influence, told agents he had two clients at the time — Clinton and the FBI — and chose the interests of the Democratic candidate over the bureau in leaking.

Steele told the bureau that then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the Clinton email probe in fall 2016 triggered him to leak his dossier details in what he described as a taking-the-gloves-off moment. The FBI interview summary makes clear that Steele, a British citizen, was allegiant to Clinton, did not like Trump and believed a Trump presidency would be negative for his homeland and thus made a decision to meddle in the U.S. election by leaking information to the news media. The leaks, which led to Steele’s termination as an FBI informant, have been known for more than a year, but his motivation for leaking was hidden in the classified documents. His admission that the Russia collusion narrative, later debunked by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was injected into the public as a means of counteracting Clinton’s email scandal corroborates other information obtained by the CIA.

The soon-to-be-released records also expose a tantalizing connection between Steele, his primary source and one of the Democrats’ key impeachment witnesses in the Ukraine scandal, former Trump National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill. Steele divulged to the FBI that he was introduced by Hill to his primary sub-source of information for his anti-Trump dossier and that he later told Hill that the source had provided information for his now infamous memos. [..] The documents also will settle a long-debated question in Washington about whether the FBI’s tactics amounted to spying on the Trump campaign. Tasking instructions the FBI gave to Halper, an academic who long worked as an FBI informant, make clear he was instructed to infiltrate the Trump campaign by posing as someone who wanted to work for the GOP nominee and then targeting campaign advisers to find out what they knew about Trump or his campaign’s ties to Russia.

Solomon

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“These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years.”

Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)

President Trump has declassified and authorized the release of “more than a foot-high stack of documents” related to the Obama administration’s surveillance and espionage committed against the 2016 Trump campaign, as part of a larger campaign to discredit and undermine the incoming US president. According to journalist and Trump insider John Solomon, the documents would be released as soon as Friday, but no later than Monday. “He has delivered in a big way. More than a foot-high stack of documents he has authorized to be released by the FBI and the DOJ. These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years. They have amazing, big picture revelations,” Solomon told Fox News’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” According to Solomon’s website, Just The News, the release will support claims that the entire Russia narrative was created and leaked to the news media to upstage concerns over Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

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Dorsey and Zuckerberg have hugely overestimated their powers. Their investors will be very unhappy.

After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)

Facebook and Twitter have lost a combined $51 billion in market cap following their bans of President Donald Trump last week as investors balked at the tech giants’ surprise censorship of Trump roughly two weeks before his term was set to end. Facebook bore the overwhelming brunt of the market plunge, according to Business Insider, seeing gargantuan losses of $47.6 billion following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Trump would remain suspended from the social media platform “indefinitely,” until at least after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.


Twitter, meanwhile, saw its market cap plunge by $3.5 billion after it permanently suspended Trump from its servers due to claims that the president was inciting violence among his supporters with his posts. In the week since the bans were announced, users have reportedly been flocking to alternative social media sites, ones that have touted a commitment to censorship-free services in contrast to the heavier hands of the mainstream social media platforms.

@jack Veritas

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People will contend this is just the Mexican president, and AP even tries to paint him off as a Trump sympathizer. But this is a global issue. Twitter and Facebook will soon be subject to strong regulations, or they will be banned from many countries.

“..the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law.”

Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)

Mexico’s president vowed Thursday to lead an international effort to combat what he considers censorship by social media companies that have blocked or suspended the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration is reaching out to other government to form a common front on the issue. “I can tell you that at the first G20 meeting we have, I am going to make a proposal on this issue,” López Obrador said. “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.” “How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” he asked. Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico is starting to build an international campaign around the issue.


“Given that Mexico, through our president, has spoken out, we immediately made contact with others who think the same,” Ebrard said, noting they had heard from officials in France, Germany, the European Union, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. “The president’s orders are to make contact with all of them, share this concern and work on coming up with a joint proposal,” Ebrard said. “We will see what is proposed.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among those who have publicly criticized the action against Trump. Her spokesman said Monday the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law. Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, later called for new regulations that would govern the use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the European Union.

Tucker @jack

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“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland..”

Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)

Polish government officials have denounced the deactivation of Donald Trump’s social media accounts, and said a draft law being readied in Poland will make it illegal for tech companies to take similar actions there. “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not,” wrote the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, on Facebook earlier this week, without directly mentioning Trump. “There can be no consent to censorship.” Morawiecki indirectly compared social media companies taking decisions to remove accounts with Poland’s experience during the communist era. “Censorship of free speech, which is the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now returning in the form of a new, commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently,” he wrote.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which is ideologically aligned with Trump on many issues, has itself been accused of trying to limit freedom of speech in recent years. Some of its members have made a habit of posting anti-LGBT or anti-refugee rhetoric. However, government officials have long claimed that people with rightwing views in Poland and abroad have been the victims of biased decisions by international tech companies. Sebastian Kaleta, secretary of state at Poland’s Ministry of Justice, said Facebook’s decision to remove Trump’s account was hypocritical, politically motivated and “amounts to censorship”. He said the draft law prepared by the justice ministry would make it illegal for social media companies to remove posts that did not break Polish law.

“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland,” Kaleta told Rzeczpospolita newspaper. In recent years, Facebook has moved to block content from far-right Polish organisations and politicians on numerous occasions. The MP Janusz Korwin-Mikke, aligned with the Konfederacja party, was in November shut out of his account, which had 780,000 followers, for what Facebook called repeated violations of community standards. Korwin-Mikke accused Facebook of being run by “fascists and Bolsheviks”.

Under the provisions of the Polish draft law, users would be able to file a court petition to force social media companies to restore removed content if they believed it did not violate Polish law. The court would rule within seven days and the process would be fully electronic. Morawiecki called on the EU to introduce similar regulations. Other European politicians, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, have also expressed unease at the ban on Trump by various social media outlets, and a new EU proposal, the Digital Services Act, envisions tougher regulations on tech companies, including tough fines for failure to block illegal content.

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Just an experiment…

Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)

Google has refused to answer questions on its secret trial of removing news sites from search results in Australia, with the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, saying the company should focus on paying for news, not blocking it. Google blindsided news consumers and media outlets this week with a trial that removed Australian media outlets such as the ABC, Nine, the Guardian and others from its search results. Users were not informed of the change, or advised how to find news articles when searching, with some reporting they initially believed it was an issue only affecting them.


People affected by the trial can get around the block by searching in a private browser window, such as in incognito mode in Google Chrome. The move by Google came as a Senate committee is reviewing legislation that would force Google and Facebook to negotiate with Australian news media companies for a fair price for displaying local news content. Google has argued strongly against the code since it was first announced last year, by alerting users to the proposed changes in search and in Google Chrome.

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Joe Lauria goes through the law chapter by chapter. Excellent read.

Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)

The Congressional Republicans who challenged the electoral college results last Wednesday are guilty of one transgression: wasting Congress’ time. There was no way the electoral college votes would be overturned. However those Republicans were completely within their rights to challenge the results and spur debate and a vote in both chambers. To suggest that that Constitutional right constituted incitement or support for the riot is extraordinary overreach. There have been Democratic calls for these Republicans to be unseated and even investigated for possible prosecution. During the impeachment debate on Wednesday, Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler said the rioters’ “accomplices in this House will be held to account.” Numerous corporate donors have said they will no longer contribute to these Republicans’ campaigns.

There is even wild speculation by some Democrats that some Republican members gave Capitol “reconnaissance” tours to the rioters the night before. The New York Times posted photos of all Republican members who challenged the electoral college votes as if they were on a wanted poster. Republican Congressman Jim Jordan in the impeachment debate pointed out that more Democrats in Congress objected to more states’ electoral college results in 2017’s certification than had Republicans last Wednesday. A Republican member responded that Hillary Clinton had conceded, unlike Trump, and that the objections were based on “Russian interference” in that election. He accused the Republicans, with a straight face, of engaging in “conspiracy theories” about a stolen 2020 election.

Such Democratic hypocrisy was underscored on 60 Minutes Sunday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous.” But is he any more “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous” than Democrats who joined Republicans to vote in 2003 to invade and occupy a nation that posed no threat to the United States? How would one describe Pelosi’s response in 2019 when asked why she opposed impeaching George W. Bush for that invasion, a crime of “aggression,” the worst war crime according to the Nuremberg Tribunal? Because of that invasion Bush was still a far worse and more dangerous president than even Trump.

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“..the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.”

Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)

The most apt parallel for the second impeachment of Donald Trump may not be any other of the three previous presidential impeachments, including his own just over a year ago. It may instead be the PATRIOT Act, which was passed in the heated emotional aftermath of the September 11 attacks, with negligible debate afforded to the long-term implications of what Congress was enacting. Reason and deliberation had given way to a collective desire for security and revenge, and thus the most sweeping curtailment of civil liberties in the modern historical record was approved. Those who departed from the swiftly assembled consensus could expect to be denounced as sympathisers to terrorists.

Likewise, if you deign to raise concerns about the implications of this sudden impeachment sequel — or any of the other extraordinary actions taken in the past week, such as an ongoing corporate censorship purge of unprecedented proportions — you can expect to be accused of defending or supporting the “domestic terrorists” who carried out the mob attack on the Capitol. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, rationalised rushing through Wednesday’s impeachment resolution at spell-binding speed — by far the fastest impeachment process ever — on the grounds that Trump posed a “clear and present danger” to the country, and needed to be removed immediately. “Imminent threats” of various stripes also have a long history of being cited to justify sweeping emergency action, such as the invasion of Iraq. Often upon further inspection, the purported “threat” turns out to have been not so “imminent”, or in fact to have never existed at all.

But as rushed as the impeachment was, if the purported emergency conditions were truly so dire as Pelosi maintained, she could have theoretically summoned the House to convene the day after the mob attack and impeach Trump right away. Congress convened the very next day after the attack on Pearl Harbor to declare war on Japan, for example. Instead, Pelosi waited a full week, and gave everyone the weekend off in the interim. Trump, alleged to be in the process of orchestrating a violent “coup”, was allowed to remain in office unimpeded with access to the nuclear codes for seven days. Nonetheless, with a total of two hours of perfunctory debate — and no hearings, fact-finding or meditation on the relevant Constitutional Law considerations — Trump was impeached for the second time. As such, the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.

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Both sides say Jake Sullivan belongs to the other side.

Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)

A progressive activist has been arrested and charged with participating in last week’s U.S. Capitol riot a week after he uploaded footage of the event to YouTube. Utah resident and anti-Trump activist John Sullivan told Just the News last week that he had been present at the riot, including inside the Capitol, “specifically [as] a journalist, just to record the events that were going down.” Yet FBI agent Matthew Foulger alleged in an affidavit on Wednesday that, rather than merely act as a journalist during the riots, Sullivan “knowingly and willfully joined a crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol and impeded, disrupted, and disturbed the orderly conduct of business by the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.”


Foulger in the affidavit said that footage taken by Sullivan at the riot shows the activist accompanying and cheering on the rioting crowd by saying things such as “Let’s go. This shit is ours!” and “Let’s burn this shit down.” Sullivan has been arrested and charged pursuant to the incident, Salt Lake City station Fox 13 reported on Thursday evening. The station said the activist has been charged with “rioting and criminal mischief.”

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The details are terrible, the language is terribly polite.

“Corporate nominees are insulting against the backdrop of complete economic destruction that Americans are grappling with in the pandemic.”

Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)

As the 2020 Democratic primaries were heating up last year, then-candidate Joe Biden assured his wealthy campaign donors in Manhattan that “nothing would fundamentally change” for their luxurious standard of living under his presidency. Based on the majority of his Cabinet picks, he wasn’t kidding. Biden will maintain a cozy relationship with corporate America by lubricating the hinges of the ever revolving door of politics. Take Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of State, as an example. In 2017, Blinken transitioned out of the Obama administration and founded a consulting firm called WestExec Advisors. The majority of its staffers — 21 out of 38 — personally donated to Biden’s campaign. WestExec co-founder Michele Flournoy alone raised more than $100,000 for the former vice president.

Was Blinken chosen for the job because he’s best suited, or is Biden trading favors based on campaign fundraisers and donations? Sure, Blinken and Biden have worked together in the past, and that could have factored into his decision. But aside from the transparent “favor for a favor” deal-making taking place in plain sight, Blinken’s opaque work at WestExec Advisors could be rife with conflicts of interest. The firm’s website boasts about selling influence to the White House by stating that its name “is derived from ‘West Executive Avenue,’ the closed street that runs between the West Wing of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It is, quite literally, the road to the Situation Room, and it is the road everyone associated with WestExec Advisors has crossed many times en route to meetings of the highest national security consequences.”

While it’s clear that this consulting firm’s services mostly revolve around helping corporate clients and defense contractors win favorable government treatment, little is known about its client list because its staffers aren’t considered lobbyists. They’re labeled strategic advisers, which means they don’t have to disclose whom they’re working for. As The Intercept noted, the Biden team is squandering an opportunity for reform by sticking to conventional nominees like Avril Haines for director of national intelligence. While serving in the CIA under the Obama administration, Haines was an architect of the disastrous drone program that killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Later, Haines worked as a consultant for WestExec Advisors and Palantir — a controversial data mining firm that has provided the Trump administration intel to perform mass deportations.

Janet Yellen, who has been tapped to serve as Treasury secretary, is another example. When Politico reported that Yellen made $7.2 million in the past two years for giving closed-door speeches to Wall Street firms, Biden supporters brushed it off as nothing more than a misogynistic attack. However, there should be an overwhelming consensus that Americans deserve to know about any lucrative ties politicians and government officials have to bankers and hedge funds.

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By now I think she may be out.

Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)

Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her because the U.S. corporate media’s foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden’s pick for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia. Nor do they know that from 2003-2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland. Many have even heard the leaked four-minute audio of her saying “Fuck the EU” during a 2014 phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.

During the infamous call on which Nuland and Pyatt plotted to replace the elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, Nuland expressed her not-so-diplomatic disgust with the European Union for grooming former heavyweight boxer and austerity champ Vitali Klitschko instead of U.S. puppet and NATO booklicker Artseniy Yatseniuk to replace Russia-friendly Yanukovych. The “Fuck the EU” call went viral, as an embarrassed State Department, never denying the call’s authenticity, blamed the Russians for tapping the phone, much as the NSA has tapped the phones of European allies. Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Markel, no one fired Nuland, but her potty mouth upstaged the more serious story: the U.S. plot to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government and America’s responsibility for a civil war that has killed at least 13,000 people and left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe.

In the process, Nuland, her husband Robert Kagan, the co-founder of The Project for a New American Century, and their neocon cronies succeeded in sending U.S.-Russian relations into a dangerous downward spiral from which they have yet to recover. Nuland accomplished this from a relatively junior position as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. How much more trouble could she stir up as the #3 official at Biden’s State Department? We’ll find out soon enough, if the Senate confirms her nomination.

Joe Biden should have learned from Obama’s mistakes that appointments like this matter. In his first term, Obama allowed his hawkish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and military and CIA leaders held over from the Bush administration to ensure that endless war trumped his message of hope and change. Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, ended up presiding over indefinite detentions without charges or trials at Guantanamo Bay; an escalation of drone strikes that killed innocent civilians; a deepening of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan; a self-reinforcing cycle of terrorism and counterterrorism; and disastrous new wars in Libya and Syria.

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Central banks will demand control.

ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde called on Wednesday for global regulation of Bitcoin, saying the digital currency had been used for money laundering activities in some instances and that any loopholes needed to be closed. Bitcoin has come out of its niche in recent years and is now bought by ordinary people, investment funds and even large corporations. Some have even taken out loans to buy more of the cryptocurrency, whose value has increased almost tenfold since last March. But its largely anonymous nature has raised concerns that it could be used for money laundering and other illegal activities.


“(Bitcoin) is a highly speculative asset, which has conducted some funny business and some interesting and totally reprehensible money laundering activity,” Lagarde said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference. Lagarde did not provide specific examples of money laundering cases but said she understood there had been criminal investigations into illegal activity. She did not elaborate. The cryptocurrency sector is still mostly lightly overseen or unregulated, although global standards on areas such as anti-money laundering (AML) have emerged. She joined a number of regulators from across the world in calling for implementing global rules for cryptocurrencies.

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The WaPo tries more smear, but the story is 100% bogus, and they are forced to correct within hours. Meanwhile, it’s been gleefully quoted by a million outlets all over the globe.

This has been the MO for over 4 years now. Question: what can they do next? Turn on Biden? Where’s my clickbait?

Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

The dying days of the Trump administration have been plagued by yet more scandal in the form of riots, Twitter bans and impeachment. Now the Washington Post has added another: water closet gate. In a multi-bylined article one of America’s top investigative news outlets has chronicled in leg-crossing detail the apparently extreme difficulty that the Secret Service detail assigned to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have had in finding a place to go to the bathroom. According to the Washington Post the president’s daughter and her top White House adviser spouse have apparently exiled the squad of men and women assigned to keep them from harm’s way from using the toilets in their sprawling Washington DC mansion.

“Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job,” the paper reported, citing neighbors and law enforcement official. It quoted one law enforcement official as saying: “It’s the first time I ever heard of a Secret Service detail having to go to these extremes to find a bathroom.” It added that Secret Service members in the couple’s detail who were desperate to relieve themselves had resorted to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the homes of Barack Obama and Vice-President Mike Pence.

The solution to the problem was not a cheap one. Since September 2017, the paper reported, the federal government rented the stricken Secret Service members a basement studio with a bathroom for the purposes of them going to the loo. The cost to taxpayers? Some $3,000 a month. A White House spokesperson denied the couple restricted agents from their home. But the Post stuck by its investigative guns, saying: “That account is disputed by a law enforcement official familiar with the situation, who said the agents were kept out at the family’s request.” The Post’s story is unlikely to endear Washington citizens – or indeed many other Americans – to Ivanka Trump and her husband as they leave office after four high-profile years in Donald Trump’s administration.

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Jan 112021
 


René Magritte Youth 1924

 

A Fond Farewell To Donald Trump’s Twitter Feed (Stone)
A Masterclass In Media Control For Dictators Around The World (Dockery)
The “Crisis” is Corporate Liberal Authoritarianism (Tracey)
PGA Strips Major Golf Championship From Donald Trump’s Bedminster Course (G.)
Payment Processor Stripe Cuts Ties With Trump Campaign (Hill)
Whispers In The Wind (Robinson)
Trump Said ‘Cheer On Congress… Peacefully’ At Morning White House Rally (NP)
House Democrat’s Resolution To Expel Republicans Who Challenged Election (JTN)
War Of The -Financial- Worlds (Nomi Prins)
25 Organizations Say Victoria Nuland Should Be Rejected (CN)
Britain Set To Outlaw Chinese Imports With Links To Human Rights Abuse (Sun)
Vietnam And China Buy Indian Rice For First Time In Decades (ZH)
Does Vitamin D Combat Covid? (G.)

 

 

We’ll have to live through the mudslinging for a while longer. Will it stop on the 20th? Not very likely. The crowds smell blood.

 

 

Arnold

 

 

Hotep

 

 

“..his first ever tweet on May 4, 2009 was “Be sure to tune in and watch Donald Trump on Late Night with David Letterman as he presents the Top Ten List tonight!”

A Fond Farewell To Donald Trump’s Twitter Feed (Stone)

The president has lost both the Oval Office and his beloved Twitter account. His posts were hilarious, mad, and occasionally dangerous – but, God, it’s been a helluva ride. @realDonaldTrump, we’ll miss you. Donald Trump governed by social media. Tweeting from bed in his teddy bear pyjamas or on his sofa in front of a huge TV screen, sometimes from a buggy on his golf course. It was never gonna end well, and now it’s all over. Twitter permanently suspended his account yesterday, and he has been indefinitely hoofed off Facebook and Instagram. There are only so many teenage temper tantrums you can have until an adult takes away your smartphone.

Plenty of people say the dumbest things on social media, but they’re not usually the 74-year-old president of the most powerful country in the world, with more than 6,000 nuclear warheads and 1.3 million active duty troops ready to go. Their words don’t rock stock markets. Trump’s Twitter journey all started in pretty limp fashion; his first ever tweet on May 4, 2009 was “Be sure to tune in and watch Donald Trump on Late Night with David Letterman as he presents the Top Ten List tonight!” Just some bland, promotional pap selling the Trump brand. Seven years later, and he was about to be elected president – who’d have thought? That chubby orange-faced dude off ‘The Apprentice’, that serial bankrupt who erected gaudy apartment blocks and casinos and had a steady stream of pneumatic looking wives?

Nah. Don’t be ridiculous. That’s never gonna happen. His first tweet as president was: “I am honered to serve you, the great American people, as your 45th President of the United States!” The typo proved it was really him, and not some public relations drone. He later explained: “My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL.” Righto. He has sent thousands of tweets – and retweets such as “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?” Which, uncharacteristically, he deleted. In early June 2020, during the police brutality protests, he sent exactly 200 tweets and retweets in a single day. This being Donald Trump, he didn’t get the irony that this tweet storm came shortly after he’d signed an executive order to regulate the platform after it fact checked one of his tweets. His previous record had been 142, during his impeachment trial in January 2020.

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The risks of censorship.

A Masterclass In Media Control For Dictators Around The World (Dockery)

Cutting off an opponent’s access to the media is step one in the regime change playbook, and the US government would know, having written several of them. When US-sponsored protesters deposed Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, the first building they seized after parliament was a TV station. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan avoided a communications blackout by using FaceTime to address the public during an attempted coup against him in 2016. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak cut off internet access as protesters organized against him in 2011. Every coup or counter-coup hinges on media control, and the only difference between the deplatforming of Trump and the examples above are that for the first time, foreign regime-change strategies are being openly deployed by Americans, against Americans, in America.

As the country’s most despicable journalists and pundits cheer for the unaccountable tech tyrants, budding dictators abroad are surely taking notes. Building relationships with the tech titans is the modern equivalent of seizing a television studio, and popular movements can be easily suppressed with their cooperation. If the world’s loudest and proudest democracy is doing it, why can’t they? And who’s to say Silicon Valley’s giants themselves would stop at the US border? What is to stop them taking a dislike to some politician overseas and snuffing them out like Donald Trump? After all if the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth can be deleted, what chance do the rest of them have?

Back in the US, Trump has far more supporters than the mob who broke into the Capitol on Wednesday. He has 75 million of them, more than the population of the UK. Denied the opportunity to speak freely online and with their views branded as “extremist,” would anyone be surprised if they decided to take more drastic action? After all, the regime change manual closes with a warning: an attempted coup only ever addresses “immediate issues and short-term, rather than longer-term, interests.” For the US, these long-term consequences could have the political class pining for a return to Wednesday’s hooliganism.

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I’m not in favor of big words like that.

The “Crisis” is Corporate Liberal Authoritarianism (Tracey)

The mob that barged into the Capitol Building on Wednesday accomplished a few things. First, it cemented the electoral demise of Donald Trump, whose termination from the presidency was merely delayed for a few hours by the chaos. Second, it put forward a public perception of Trump’s most ardent supporters as a collection of conspiracy-addled violent loons. Third, it humiliated and discredited Trump, who meekly conceded defeat the following day. There was no real “coup attempt,” despite incessant politician and media histrionics to that effect. Just a pitiful outburst that was quickly dispersed. It was clear within about ten minutes of the intrusion that the most severe consequences would stem not from the incident itself, but the deliberately-stoked over-reaction.

The bipartisan political and media class, whether cynically or sincerely, is broadcasting their steadfast conviction that this was something like a “MAGA Terrorist Insurrection” — which is literally how it’s being described on CNN. Under such allegedly extreme circumstances, of course extreme remedial action is going to be demanded. Few entities capitulate to upswells of political hysteria more reliably than the tech companies. Knowing that there will soon be a Democratic presidential administration and Congress to appease, they launched this week what is the most drastic corporate censorship offensive in modern history. Not only was Trump banished from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter — the latter being his primary communications platform (for better or worse) — multiple high-profile Trump allies were likewise purged.

Steve Bannon was nuked from YouTube. Trump and his supporters are being neutralized online not because he currently poses any kind of bonafide “threat” to the Republic, but because his enemies are desperate for revenge. And they have been gifted with a perfect “crisis” that will justify their getting it. The expulsion of Trump from Twitter was celebrated rapturously by journalists whose conception of the job has markedly shifted away from anything to do with the preservation of protected speech. Instead, they are far more interested in asserting their political and cultural dominance, punishing those perceived to be undesirables, and functioning almost like a collective Human Resources social pressure department. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter — collectively more powerful than most nation states — have become willing partners in this endeavor.

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The rats and the ship.

PGA Strips Major Golf Championship From Donald Trump’s Bedminster Course (G.)

The PGA of America has announced that it has moved the 2022 PGA Championship from Donald Trump’s Bedminster course in the wake of the invasion of the US Capitol. “The PGA of America Board of Directors voted tonight to exercise the right to terminate the agreement to play the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster,’’ said Jim Richerson, president of the PGA of America. Bedminster, located in New Jersey, had been awarded the tournament in 2012, before Trump’s run for the presidency. It was the first time one of his courses had been chosen to host a men’s major although Bedminster hosted the women’s PGA in 2017. The tournament is due to be played in May 2022, and alternative venues include Bethpage Black, Southern Hills and Valhalla.


“We find ourselves in a political situation note of our making,’’ said Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America, in an interview with the Associated Press. “We’re fiduciaries for our members, for the game, for our mission and for our brand. And how do we best protect that? Our feeling was given the tragic events of Wednesday that we could no longer hold it at Bedminster. The damage could have been irreparable. The only real course of action was to leave.” The Trump Organization said they were disappointed with the decision. “This is a breach of a binding contract and they have no right to terminate the agreement,” a spokesperson told ABC on Sunday. “As an organization we have invested many, many millions of dollars in the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster. We will continue to promote the game of golf on every level and remain focused on operating the finest golf courses anywhere in the world.”

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Can’t catch a break.

Payment Processor Stripe Cuts Ties With Trump Campaign (Hill)

Payment processing company Stripe cut ties with President Trump’s campaign after his supporters rioted at the Capitol last week, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to The Hill on Sunday. Stripe, a San Francisco-based company that manages online card payments for several businesses, will stop processing payments to the campaign, saying the campaign violated its policies against encouraging violence after a pro-Trump mob stormed and vandalized the Capitol. The company requests that users not collect payments for “high risk” activities, including for any business or organization that “engages in, encourages, promotes or celebrates unlawful violence or physical harm to persons or property,” according to its website.

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“Neither Trump of Biden would save that baby and the many others like it. The Saudi kingdom, is a profitable friend.”

Whispers In The Wind (Robinson)

Millions of humans lead their lives despite the petty and often pathetic self importance of US partisan politics and yet somehow, the American empire finds them. Whether it is a drone hovering high above, visiting with random murder or a blockade of warships enforcing an almost ancient embargo, it is the American prevalence in all of our lives that seems to be destroying not only the US itself, but the wider world. And when a victor emerges, the world still gets war. Mostly American wars. These are not civil riots protests that waved a fist against state led bigotry, nor are they anti conscription riots over government forcing individuals to fight overseas in another war. Such past riots, have had limited impact in quelling the growth of government or in tempering its destructive might.

Journalist Julian Assange is held captive in legal purgatory, punished for revealing the crimes of war mongers and lifting the up the skirt of many governments. Ross Ulbricht a prisoner because he created a website, the details of his conviction would make for an unbelievable fiction and yet it was all too real. Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are pariah patriots, believers in the religious texts that most Americans claim to uphold and yet most of the voting public and voted for rulers disregard the details of such a constitution and Bill of Rights. And millions of poor and desperate foreigners live and die in the frontiers of foreign policy, their homes and day to day ruined so that macho sounding politicians can profit by propping up tyrannies of maniacal madness. Inside the prisons of the US itself are thousands of convicts punished for victimless crimes, the prohibitions and regulations of a cancerous government that claims to be for freedom, when in fact it dissolves it at every chance. The protests are not for any of them.

A small child, perhaps now dead, coiled in infant agony, starved as its innocent eyes bulged in anguish fronted recent articles covering the desperate situation in Yemen. A situation that would be impossible if not for the aid and assistance of the US and it’s imperial allies. Neither Trump of Biden would save that baby and the many others like it. The Saudi kingdom, is a profitable friend. The protesters that support the two coins of US partisan politics do not care about the children of Yemen either. One needs not look too far to find the victims of foreign policy, recent and distant to see the true outcome of such actions, but it seems few actually care to. And should they be presented with such facts and terrible images, a religious fog washes across their eyes, allowing them to either dismiss or contextualize the murder and suffering. But a slob tweeting from the toilet or a hair sniffing buffoon are both credible enough to lead, and be despised because they are not the other.

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Not a popular POV these days.

Trump Said ‘Cheer On Congress… Peacefully’ At Morning White House Rally (NP)

Despite insistence from the mainstream media, Democratic Party, and establishment Republicans that President Trump incited violence at the U.S. Capitol, his morning speech at the White House did precisely the opposite.
As the final speaker of the Save America March in Washington, D.C., President Trump insisted his supporters would “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard” at the Capitol following his speech. “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women,” he outlined – never calling for protestors to breach the building or use physical force. In full his remarks read:

“And after this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down. We’re going to walk down anyone you want, but I think right here. We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. Today we will see whether Republicans stand strong for integrity.”

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Even if it’s true that the challenges contributed to the riots, don’t they have the right to challenge?

House Democrat’s Resolution To Expel Republicans Who Challenged Election (JTN)

A freshman House Democrat is preparing a resolution to introduce Monday to expel Republican lawmakers who supported challenges to the 2020 election results. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), said Sunday in a tweet she believes the election challenges contributed to the deadly riot inside the Capitol on Wednesday. “Tomorrow, I’m introducing my resolution to expel the members of Congress who tried to overturn the election and incited a white supremacist coup attempt that has left people dead,” Bush tweeted. “They have violated the 14th Amendment. We can’t have unity without accountability,” she wrote.

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Robber barons.

War Of The -Financial- Worlds (Nomi Prins)

In The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells evokes a species — humanity — rendered helpless in the face of a force greater than itself and beyond its control. His depiction of the grim relationship between the Martians and the humans they were suppressing (meant to remind readers of the relationship between British imperialists and those they suppressed in distant lands) cast an eerie light on the power and wealth gap in Great Britain and around the world at the turn of the twentieth century. The book was written in the Gilded Age, when rapid economic growth, particularly in the United States, bred a new class of “robber barons.” Like the twenty-first-century version of such beings, they, too, made money from their money, while the economic status of workers slipped ever lower.

It was an early version of a zero-sum game in which the spoils of the system were increasingly beyond the reach of so many. Those at the top ferociously accumulated wealth, while the majority of the rest of the population barely got by or drowned. A crisis of inequality had been sparked by the Industrial Revolution itself, which started in England and then crossed the Atlantic. By the late nineteenth century, America’s “robber barons” were insanely wealthy. As economist Thomas Piketty wrote, there was a steeper increase in wealth inequality during the Gilded Age than ever before in American history. In 1810, the top 1% of Americans held 25% of the country’s total wealth; between 1870 and 1910 that share leapt to 45%. Today, the top 1% of Americans possess more wealth than the whole of the middle class, a phenomenon first true in 2010 and still the reality of our moment.

By 2018, about 75% of the $113 trillion in aggregate U.S. household assets were financial ones; that is, tied up in stocks, ETF’s, 401Ks, IRAs, mutual funds, and similar investments. The majority of nonfinancial assets in that mix was in real estate. Even before the pandemic, only the richest 20% of American households had recovered fully (or, in the case of the truly wealthy, more than fully) from the financial crisis. That’s mostly because since that crisis, fewer households had participated in the stock market or owned real estate and so had no chance to capitalize on increases in the values of either. Much of the appreciation in stock market and real-estate values has been directly or indirectly related to the Fed’s actions. By the end of December 2020, its balance sheet had increased by $3.164 trillion, reaching a total of $7.35 trillion, 63% more than its book at the height of the decade following the 2008 disaster.

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Shill.

25 Organizations Say Victoria Nuland Should Be Rejected (CN)

Victoria Nuland, former foreign policy adviser to vice president Dick Cheney, should not be nominated for undersecretary of state [for political affairs], and if nominated should be rejected by the Senate. Nuland played a key role in facilitating a coup in Ukraine that created a civil war costing 10,000 lives and displacing over a million people. She played a key role in arming Ukraine as well. She advocates radically increased military spending, NATO expansion, hostility toward Russia, and efforts to overthrow the Russian government. The United States invested $5 billion in shaping Ukrainian politics, including overthrowing a democratically elected president who had refused to join NATO. Then-Assistant Secretary of State Nuland is on video talking about the U.S. investment and on audiotape planning to install Ukraine’s next leader, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who was subsequently installed.

The Maidan protests, at which Nuland handed out cookies to protesters, were violently escalated by neo-Nazis and by snipers who opened fire on police. When Poland, Germany, and France negotiated a deal for the Maidan demands and an early election, neo-Nazis instead attacked the government and took over. The U.S. State Department immediately recognized the coup government, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk was installed as Prime Minister. Nuland has worked with the openly pro-Nazi Svoboda Party in Ukraine. She was long a leading proponent of arming Ukraine. She was also an advocate for removing from office the prosecutor general of Ukraine, whom then-Vice President Joe Biden pushed the president to remove.

Nuland wrote this past year that “The challenge for the United States in 2021 will be to lead the democracies of the world in crafting a more effective approach to Russia—one that builds on their strengths and puts stress on Putin where he is vulnerable, including among his own citizens.” She added: “…Moscow should also see that Washington and its allies are taking concrete steps to shore up their security and raise the cost of Russian confrontation and militarization. That includes maintaining robust defense budgets, continuing to modernize U.S. and allied nuclear weapons systems, and deploying new conventional missiles and missile defenses, . . . establish permanent bases along NATO’s eastern border, and increase the pace and visibility of joint training exercises.”

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Oh, yes, our moral standards.

Britain Set To Outlaw Chinese Imports With Links To Human Rights Abuse (Sun)

Britain is to square up to China — by outlawing imports with any links to human rights abuse. Dominic Raab will use the Modern Slavery Act to make firms root out items which are made using forced labour. The Foreign Secretary will also toughen up laws around exporting British goods or technology to China that could be used for repression. The plans will be outlined to MPs tomorrow. Britain’s diplomatic ties with Beijing have been strained since claims China tried to cover up the Covid outbreak and following attacks on democracy campaigners in Hong Kong. The Foreign Office has spoken of “deeply troubling” evidence of Uyghur Muslims forced to produce cotton.


There are fears the textile industry is doing too little due diligence on goods from Xinjiang Province where the Uyghurs are forced to live in “re-education camps”. But to the dismay of some MPs and campaigners, it is understood Britain will not sanction Communist officials linked to camps and forced sterilization programmes. Officials from Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea have been banned from entering Britain or using UK banks. But Whitehall insiders said the so-called Magnitsky powers are not expected to be deployed in China — although it is believed ministers have them in their sights.

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What comes after central banks go nuts.

Vietnam And China Buy Indian Rice For First Time In Decades (ZH)

One month ago, we reported that SocGen’s bearish analyst Albert Edwards, who is traditionally well ahead of the curve, looked at charts of soaring food prices and was starting to “panic.” Edwards’ research report concluded by urging his readers to “keep a very close eye as to whether we see a repeat of the 2010/11 surge in food prices” because “on the 10th anniversary of the start of the Arab Spring, and with poverty having already been made much worse by the pandemic, another food price bubble could well be the straw to break the very angry camel’s back.” And while it’s not quite the spring of 2011 just yet (give it a few months) it’s getting dangerously close.

As Rithesh Jain from the World out of Whack blog writes, citing an article in the Reuters, “Vietnam, the world’s third biggest exporter of rice, has started buying the grain from rival India for the first time in decades after local prices jumped to their highest in nine years amid limited domestic supplies.” “For the first time we are exporting to Vietnam,” B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association, told Reuters on Monday. “Indian prices are very attractive. The huge price difference is making exports possible.” Dwindling supplies and continued Philippine buying have lifted Vietnamese rice export prices to a fresh nine-year high.


Vietnam’s 5% broken rice is offered around $500-$505 per tonne, significantly higher compared to Indian prices of $381-$387. This means that, as we have been warning for the past few months, food inflation is indeed back with a vengeance: The purchases underscore tightening supplies in Asia, which could lift rice prices in 2021 and even force traditional buyers of rice from Thailand and Vietnam to switch to India – the world’s biggest exporter of the grain.

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Study after study being required. But not for the vaccines.

Does Vitamin D Combat Covid? (G.)

In March, the government’s scientific advisers examined existing evidence and decided there wasn’t enough to act upon. But in April, dozens of doctors wrote to the British Medical Journal describing the correction of vitamin D deficiencies as “a safe, simple step” that “convincingly holds out a potential, significant, feasible Covid-19 mitigation remedy”. In the Newcastle hospitals, patients found to be vitamin D-deficient were given extremely high oral doses of the nutrient, often up to 750 times the daily measure recommended by Public Health England. In July, clinicians wrote to the journal Clinical Endocrinology to share their initial outcomes. Of the first 134 coronavirus patients given vitamin D, 94 had been discharged, 24 were still receiving inpatient care, and 16 had died. The clinicians hadn’t clearly associated vitamin D levels with overall death rates, but only three patients with high levels of the nutrient died, and all of them were frail and in their 90s.

Increasingly, others followed the lead of the Newcastle doctors and began taking the vitamin themselves. During the first months of the pandemic, up to 1,000 NHS staff received free wellness packs – including vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc – from a voluntary initiative called the Frontline Immune Support Team, after informal demand from clinicians. And as sales of vitamin D supplements significantly increased, some doctors informally recommended it to patients. In a letter, the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin advised its members to take the nutrient, though it was not made official policy. “We believe that vitamin D3 deficiency is a major risk factor for severe coronavirus infection, for which there is accumulating evidence,” the letter said.

[..] In 1940, when Churchill’s government feared people were particularly at risk of the musculoskeletal condition rickets, margarine companies were ordered to fortify their products with vitamin D “to safeguard the nutritional status of the nation”. (Back then, the nutrient was universally thought only to impact bone and muscle health, rather than having any effect on immune or metabolic health.) Margarine was fortified with vitamin D until 2013, when the government decided that fortification was unnecessary “gold-plating”. It became industry standard to include the nutrient within other fat spreads, but for six years there has been no legal obligation to do so.

To the former Brexit secretary David Davis, the failure to fortify a wider group of foods seems unacceptable. Like clinicians at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, he couldn’t understand why vitamin D wasn’t being pursued as a viable coronavirus treatment. Davis is a Conservative MP with a molecular science degree. In May, he urged the health secretary, Matt Hancock, to review the evidence and consider a free supplement scheme to reverse vitamin D deficiencies, citing the letter sent to the BMJ. Up to 40% of the population is estimated to be vitamin D-deficient this winter.

[..] it is only a Spanish study, conducted in early September, that came close to incontrovertibly proving low vitamin D levels have a pivotal role in causing increased death rates. There, 50 patients with Covid-19 were given a high dose of vitamin D, while another 26 patients did not receive the nutrient. Half of patients who weren’t given vitamin D had to be placed in intensive care, and two later died. Only one patient who received vitamin D required ICU admission, and they were later released with no further complications.

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 092021
 
 January 9, 2021  Posted by at 10:20 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Rembrandt Old man with a beard 1630

 

Big Tech Has Proven It’s More Powerful Than Any Government (Buyniski)
Friday Night Massacre: Twitter Purges Trump, Parler Faces Bans (JTN)
Twitter Bans Trump, Citing Risk Of Violent Incitement (AP)
Trump Campaign Banned From Emailing Supporters (GP)
Wednesday’s Other Story (Taibbi)
Railing Against Trump Coup, Biden Appoints Ukraine Coup-Plotter Nuland (MPN)
Rasmussen: Trump’s Approval Rating Rises After DC Protests (NM)
The Capitol Riot Wasn’t A Coup. It Wasn’t Even Close (McMaken)
How Media Flipped Script On Violent Protests After Capitol Riot (JTN)
Trump Sneaks Back On Twitter By Disguising Self As China PR Rep (BBee)

 

 

That was fast. And furious. What a little coordination can do.

 

 

 

 


William Copley Model for American Flag 1961

 

 

“No explanations have been forthcoming as to why the Capitol was largely unguarded during the protests, even though Trump had for weeks been calling on his followers to stage “wild” demonstrations on that day. Nor was it clear why Mayor Muriel Bowser waited so long before sending in police and the military to rein in the chaos. The stage seemed to have been deliberately set for disaster..”

Big Tech Has Proven It’s More Powerful Than Any Government (Buyniski)

Big Tech’s moves to muscle President Donald Trump off social media have been heralded by some as victory. But a corporate-run state with politicians serving as mere figureheads amounts to the very fascism they claim to oppose. The smug, palpable air of ‘mission accomplished’ emanating from Facebook, Twitter and Google in the weeks after the media called November’s election for Democrat Joe Biden has been hard to ignore. Thanks to an iron grip on the political narrative and the heavy-handed suppression of any influential dissenting voices, these insanely wealthy companies and their partners in the media establishment have managed to successfully upend what was left of the US’ democratic process.

In short, they have reason to celebrate, having pulled off the first successful national-level coup-by-media in US history. And better yet — for them at least — having helped the ‘right’ guy win, they won’t have to answer to any bogus charges of Russian collusion this time around. Indeed, no less than the Department of Homeland Security came forward to declare the vote the most secure in US history — a baffling claim at best, given the same officials have spent months insisting foreign infiltration supposedly had democracy hanging by a thread. The epic pearl-clutching that followed Wednesday’s march on the Capitol is almost guaranteed to result in further restrictions on online speech — and as many observers noted, that’s just how Big Tech and Big Brother want it.

No explanations have been forthcoming as to why the Capitol was largely unguarded during the protests, even though Trump had for weeks been calling on his followers to stage “wild” demonstrations on that day. Nor was it clear why Mayor Muriel Bowser waited so long before sending in police and the military to rein in the chaos. The stage seemed to have been deliberately set for disaster, just the sort of spectacle a clever Big Business-Big Tech axis needs to terrify the masses into believing a full-on insurrection is afoot. The only real surprise in Wednesday’s events is that more people weren’t killed — but that’s where the media came in, wielding luridly detailed descriptions and photographing the most bizarrely-attired figures in the group.

Ultimately, the narrative diverges from reality just enough to make its point, fingering social media as the culprit, and duping the average American into supporting further incursions on their First Amendment freedoms. The moral of the story becomes “Stop thinking, before someone gets hurt.”

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They’re pretty thorough, and they’re doing it together.

Friday Night Massacre: Twitter Purges Trump, Parler Faces Bans (JTN)

Tech companies on Friday night made significant moves against conservative presences on their respective servers, with Twitter purging major high-profile conservative accounts including President Donald Trump, who received a permanent ban.. Apple, meanwhile, threatened to blacklist Parler in its app store over the company’s content moderation policies, while Google outright banned the app from its own software-sharing system. Twitter on Friday officially banned Trump from its platform, citing his two recent tweets stating his intent to skip Joe Biden’s inauguration and offering praise to his his millions of supporters, which the company said constituted violations of its “glorification of violence” policy.


“[O]ur determination,” the company wrote, “is that the two Tweets … are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.” Twitter on Friday also banned the accounts of Trump attorney Sidney Powell and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, arguing that the two had spread false information related to the QAnon conspiracy theory and had thus violated the company’s content rules. The alternative social media app Parler, meanwhile — which has billed itself as a free-speech alternative to Twitter’s content moderation policies and which has attracted a growing number of conservative users in recent months — faced major pressure from tech giants Apple and Google to rewrite its content rules.

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Arbitrary rules. No matter what side you’re on, that’s what they are.

Twitter Bans Trump, Citing Risk Of Violent Incitement (AP)

Twitter banned President Donald Trump’s account Friday, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence” following the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Twitter has long given Trump and other world leaders broad exemptions from its rules against personal attacks, hate speech and other behaviors. But in a detailed explanation posted on its blog Friday, the company said recent Trump tweets amounted to glorification of violence when read in the context of the Capitol riot and plans circulating online for future armed protests around the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The social platform has been under growing pressure to take further action against Trump following the Wednesday violence.

On Thursday, Facebook suspended Trump’s account through Jan. 20 and possibly indefinitely. Twitter merely suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours after he posted a video that repeated false claims about election fraud and praised the rioters who stormed the Capitol. Trump’s Twitter persona has long functioned as a mix of policy announcements, often out of the blue; complaints about the media; disparagement of women, minorities and his perceived enemies; and praise for his supporters, replete with exclamation marks, all-caps, and one-word declarations such as “Sad!” He has fired numerous officials on Twitter and his posts, like his speeches at rallies, are a torrent of misinformation. [..]

The official account for the President of the United States, @POTUS, remains live. In fact, Trump, who issued a statement Friday evening that denounced Twitter as an enemy of free speech and floated the idea that he might build his own “platform,” also posted it on the @POTUS account, where it was quickly deleted. Twitter says using another account to evade a suspension is against its rules, and that while it won’t ban government accounts like @POTUS or @WhiteHouse, it will “take action to limit their use.”

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Yes, thorough.

Trump Campaign Banned From Emailing Supporters (GP)

The Trump campaign is now blocked from emailing their millions of supporters after being suspended by their email service provider. The suspension comes shortly after President Donald Trump and his campaign were permanently banned from Twitter. The email service, Campaign Monitor, confirmed the suspension of the account to Financial Times’ Dave Lee. The Nationalist Review reports “the move effectively cuts off communication between his team and his core supporters. What is not clear however, is what other services have banned his team. The Trump campaign sends out a massive amount of emails—33 in January so far. But, it has been 48 hours since the campaign has reached out to its supporters via email, prompting most journalists to speculate that other providers have shut off access as well.”


In a statement, Campaign Monitor claimed that the campaign probably has other methods of sending emails to supporters. “The self-service account associated with the Donald Trump Campaign has been suspended as of today, January 7th, 2021. Typically, political campaigns use multiple email service providers to send campaign, fundraising and other emails,” Campaign Monitor said in a statement about the ban. “Based on the low volume of emails that had been sent from the Campaign Monitor account, this is likely a very small portion of total email activity from the campaign.”

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Julian Assange saw today’s developments coming years ago.

Wednesday’s Other Story (Taibbi)

The rise of Wikileaks introduced an uncontrollable variable into our drift toward authoritarianism. The WMD episode had shown again that our press, the supposed first line of defense against abuses, could not be relied upon. For every expose like Abu Ghraib, there were a hundred stories that either went uncovered or advanced official deceptions. Wikileaks anticipated a future in which the press would not only be pliant accomplices to power in this way, but where information itself would be tightly controlled by governments using far-reaching and probably extralegal new technological concepts, deploying misleading excuses for clampdowns.

One of the first Wikileaks document dumps involved the Thai government’s blacklist of Internet sites, which was billed as a way to stop child pornography but had in fact been used to remove as many as 1200 sites critical of the Thai royal family, among other things. “The Thai system was used to censor Australia reportage about the imprisoned Australian writer Harry Nicolaides,” Assange noted, in 2009. Wikileaks also released the Camp Manual for Guantanamo Bay, which among other things revealed that children as young as 15 were being held, along with 900+ other files about a place essentially closed off to even theoretical press review. Another early dump involved the Minton report, about toxic dumping in the Ivory Coast by the firm Trafigura, which in yet another preview of a future of information control had obtained a court order to prevent The Guardian from printing.

In the 2010 Collateral Murder video, an Apache helicopter crew falsely claims to have encountered a firefight and lights up a Baghdad street, killing a dozen people, including two Reuters employees. Somehow even more disturbing than the killing is the dialogue captured between pilots and base. They’re laughing in parts, saying things like, “Just fuckin’ once you get on ‘em, just open ‘em up,” “All right, hahaha, I hit em,” and “Hey, you shoot, I’ll talk.” For all the talk about the madness of Donald Trump — and I wrote one of those pieces — this was something more dangerous, i.e. institutional insanity.

We were factory-producing sociopathic murder, by air, in a process that would become more depersonalized. As early as 2011 we learned the Pentagon was working on a software-based system for identifying and eliminating targets by drone, in an effort to remove the potentially complicating variable of human conscience. The implications of this are the stuff of sci-fi movies: outsourcing feeling, judgment, and responsibility to machines, which incidentally would eventually use similar software to determine how much about these questions could be disclosed to human audiences.

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Cookies.

Railing Against Trump Coup, Biden Appoints Ukraine Coup-Plotter Nuland (MPN)

Describing it as “one of the darkest days in American history,” President-elect Joe Biden denounced Wednesday’s spectacular assault on the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. as a coup attempt fomented by Donald Trump. “I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming, but that isn’t true. We could see it coming,” the 78-year-old Delawarean said. The last four years we’ve had a president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law, clear in everything he has done. He unleashed an all-out assault on the institutions of our democracy from the outset, and yesterday was but a culmination … of that attack.” “This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It’s chaos,” he added, calling the events an “unprecedented assault” on the very fabric of U.S. democracy.

Yet, almost at the same time as the future president was denouncing Trump’s coup attempt, he was appointing Victoria Nuland — the driving force behind the 2014 insurrection that overthrew the Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych — as his new Under Secretary for Political Affairs. The United States and NATO had been making overtures to Ukraine for some time before the coup, hoping that the country would become the latest post-Soviet state to fall into their fold as they continued to expand eastwards. Yanukovych, however, was in favor of steering Ukraine in a more Russia-friendly direction. The decision spurred demonstrations across the country from pro-E.U. forces. The Obama administration immediately sensed an opportunity, sending Nuland across the world to lead and support the movement, the senior diplomat rallying protestors, and was even photographed handing out cookies in the streets.

While in the West, the revolt was presented as being led by tech-savvy, forward-thinking students. In reality, most of the muscle was supplied by neo-Nazi militias who helped force through Yanukovych’s downfall and continue to hold an oversized role in Ukrainian politics and society. In December, the United States and Ukraine were the only two nations to vote against a United Nations measure (passed 130-2), “combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.” This was done as they felt the resolution could be used to target the Ukrainian government and the U.S.’ continued funding of it. Leaked phone calls show that Nuland and American Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt had long conversations about who should make up the post-coup government.

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Not for long.

Rasmussen: Trump’s Approval Rating Rises After DC Protests (NM)

The Rasmussen poll, one of the most accurate polls of the 2020 election, finds President Trump’s approval is actually rising after Wednesday‘s protests. As Democrats move to impeachment and some establishment Republicans call for the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, the poll finds 48% approve of the President’s job performance. A source close to the polling firm tells Newsmax that the rolling survey saw Trump’s approval soar to 51% on Thursday night. Trump’s approval has been up overall, jumping from 45% just before Christmas. “Americans are disgusted that cities burned for months and Washington and the media did nothing,” our source says, “But they still like Trump.”

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How many coups have there been in the past decades that did not involve the CIA?

The Capitol Riot Wasn’t A Coup. It Wasn’t Even Close (McMaken)

On Wednesday, a mob apparently composed of Trump supporters forced its way past US Capitol security guards and briefly moved unrestrained through much of the capitol building. They displayed virtually no organization and no clear goals. Five people reportedly died during the events – one apparently unarmed female protester died of a gunshot wound, three other protesters “suffered medical emergencies” that resulted in their deaths (one crushed, one heart attack, and one stroke); and a police officer died from a blood clot on his brain reportedly triggered while physically engaging with protesters. Yet, the media response has been to act as if the event constituted a coup d’etat. This was “A Very American Coup” according to a headline at The New Republic.

“This is a Coup” insists a writer at Foreign Policy. The Atlantic presented photos purported to be “Scenes From an American Coup.” But this wasn’t a coup, and what happened on Wednesday is conceptually very different from a coup. Coups nearly always are acts committed by elites against the sitting executive power using the tools of the elites. This isn’t at all what happened on Wednesday. A gang of disorganized, powerless mechanics, janitors, and insurance agents running through the capitol isn’t a coup. And if it was a coup attempt, it was so far from anything that might hope to succeed as a coup that it should not be taken seriously as such. So how do we know a coup when we see one?

In their article “Global instances of coups from 1950 to 2010: A new dataset,” authors Jonathan M. Powell and Clayton L. Thyne provide a definition: “A coup attempt includes illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive.” There are two key components of this definition. The first is that it is illegal. Powell and Thyne note this “illegal” qualifier is important to include “because it differentiates coups from political pressure, which is common whenever people have freedom to organize.” In other words, protests, or threats of protest don’t count as coups. Neither do legal efforts such as a vote of no confidence or an impeachment. But an even more critical aspect of Powell’s and Thyne’s definition is that it requires the involvement of elites.

This can be seen in any stereotypical example of a coup d’etat. This generally involves a renegade military detachment, military officers, and others from within the state apparatus who can employ knowledge, skills, influence, coercive tools gained through membership in the regime’s elite circles. The attempted coup in Japan in 1937, for example, was carried out by more than 1,500 officers and men of the Japanese imperial army. They nonetheless failed, likely because they miscalculated the amount of support they enjoyed among other officers. More recently, in the 2009 Honduran coup, the bulk of the Honduran Army turned on the president Manuel Zelaya and sent him into exile. That was a successful coup. More famously, Chile’s 1973 coup was successfully led by Agusto Pinochet, the commander-in-chief of the Army, and this enabled him to shell the Chilean executive palace with military hardware.

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Semantics rule.

How Media Flipped Script On Violent Protests After Capitol Riot (JTN)

The Associated Press, meanwhile, appeared in its coverage of the riot to depart from a new stylistic approach it adopted last year. Informing readers that it would be “us[ing] care” in describing civil unrest, the news organization in September wrote on Twitter: “A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium.” The AP argued that “focusing on rioting and property destruction rather than underlying grievance has been used in the past to stigmatize broad swaths of people protesting against lynching, police brutality or for racial justice, going back to the urban uprisings of the 1960s.”


Suggesting an alternative, the AP wrote: “Unrest is a vaguer, milder and less emotional term for a condition of angry discontent and protest verging on revolt.” The news wire appeared to utilize that standard in its coverage of last summer’s violent demonstrations, when in the late spring it described violent looting, arson, flag-burning and clashes with police as “unrest.” It similarly described as “unrest” sustained chaos in Minneapolis that involved the burning of a police station and multiple other buildings, some of which firefighters were unable to access due to ongoing violence. Yet the Associated Press in multiple stories this week described the Capitol crisis as a “riot,” making it unclear just how the news service applies the standards it appears to have developed in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests last year.

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“Should his ploy fail, Trump says he will next try disguising himself as an Antifa leader.”

Trump Sneaks Back On Twitter By Disguising Self As China PR Rep (BBee)

Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter today, being a crazy fringe extremist who also happens to be the president of the United States. But the ever-clever Trump, always known as the smartest man in the room, has managed to get back on the social network by disguising himself as one Chongald Xrump, PR specialist for the Chinese Communist Party. Trump is reportedly attempting to build a following by tweeting about how good Uighur concentration camps are and how nice the Chinese government is, since those things are not banned under Twitter’s terms of service.

Once he has enough followers, he’ll remove his Asian rice hat and false Fu Manchu mustache and begin tweeting about the rigged election once again. “Hello good sirs, I am here today to tell you how great our concentration camps are! Very clean and humane!” he wrote. The tweet was not flagged for inciting violence or being, you know, the tweet of a communist country that has killed tens of millions of its own citizens. In fact, people who replied and questioned the legitimacy of his tweet were suspended for hate speech. Should his ploy fail, Trump says he will next try disguising himself as an Antifa leader.

Read more …

 

 

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Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Jan 062021
 


Georgia O’Keeffe Street of New York II 1926

 

The Assange Verdict: What Happens Now (Craig Murray)
Will Biden DOJ Pursue Assange Extradition? Outgoing Prosecutor Isn’t Sure (NRP)
2 People Die In Norway Nursing Home Days After Receiving Pfizer Vaccine (RT)
Rate Of Adverse Reactions To COVID Vaccines 50x Higher Than Flu Shot (ZH)
Peru Clashes With Pfizer Over Legal Immunity For Vaccine Side Effects (RT)
Wuhan Coronavirus Infections 10 Times Higher Than Reported (NI)
Australia Says China Should Allow In WHO Covid Investigators (G.)
China Arrests US Lawyer During “Massive Crackdown” In Hong Kong (ZH)
The US Has Lost More Than 110,000 Restaurants (Snyder)
Biden To Tap More Obama Vets To Fill Key National Security Roles
Biden Taps Architect of 2014 Ukraine Coup for State Department (Antiwar)
Catastrophe Is All Around Us (AIER)
More Than 1.5 Billion Face Masks Will Pollute Oceans This Year (NYP)
US Doctor Forgives $650,000 In Medical Bills For Cancer Patients (BBC)

 

 

If Julian Assange’s bail is denied today, that will be a huge disappointment for many people. Craig Murray doesn’t think it will be denied, because the US appeal risks opening can of worms for them.

 

 

Big day for Assange, big day also for Trump?!

 

 

Tulsi Kamala

 

 

Murray remains very optimistic.

The Assange Verdict: What Happens Now (Craig Murray)

I am not sure that at this stage the High Court would accept a new guarantee from the USA that Assange would not be kept in isolation or in a Supermax prison; that would be contrary to the affidavit from Assistant Secretary of State Kromberg and thus would probably be ruled to amount to new evidence. Not to mention that Baraitser heard other evidence that such assurances had been received in the case of Abu Hamza, but had been broken. Hamza is not only kept in total isolation, but as a man with no hands he is deprived of prosthetics that would enable him to brush his teeth, and he has no means of cutting his nails nor assistance to do so, and cannot effectively wipe himself in the toilet. Not only is it hard to see the point of law on which the USA could launch an appeal, it is far from plain that they have a motive to do so.

Baraitser agreed with all the substantive points of argument put forward by the US government. She stated that there was no bar on extradition from the UK for political offences; she agreed that publication of national security material did constitute an offence in the USA under the Espionage Act and would do so in the UK under the Official Secrets Act, with no public interest defence in either jurisdiction; she agreed that encouraging a source to leak classified information is a crime; she agreed Wikileaks’ publications had put lives at risk. On all of these points she dismissed virtually without comment all the defence arguments and evidence. As a US Justice Department spokesman said yesterday: “While we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ultimate decision, we are gratified that the United States prevailed on every point of law raised.

In particular, the court rejected all of Mr Assange’s arguments regarding political motivation, political offence, fair trial, and freedom of speech. We will continue to seek Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States.” That is a fair categorisation of what happened. Appealing a verdict that is such a good result for the United States does not necessarily make sense for the Justice Department. Edward Fitzgerald explained to me yesterday that, if the USA appeals the decision on the health and prison condition grounds, it becomes open to the defence to counter-appeal on all the other grounds, which would be very desirable indeed given the stark implications of Baraitser’s ruling for media freedom. I have always believed that Baraitser would rule as she did on the substantial points, but I have always also believed that those extreme security state arguments would never survive the scrutiny of better judges in a higher court.

Unlike the health ruling, the dispute over Baraitser’s judgement on all the other points does come down to classic errors in law which can successfully be argued on appeal. If the USA does appeal the judgement, it is far more likely that not only will the health grounds be upheld, but also that Baraitser’s positions on extradition for political offences and freedom of the media will be overturned, than it is likely that the US will achieve extradition. They have fourteen days in which to lodge the appeal – now thirteen. An appeal result is in short likely to be humiliating for the USA. It would be much wiser for the US to let sleeping dogs lie. But pride and the wound to the US sense of omnipotence and exceptionalism may drive them to an appeal which, for the reasons given above, I would actually welcome provided Julian is out on bail. Which I expect he shall be shortly.

Read more …

Not sure the DOJ has much say in this.

Will Biden DOJ Pursue Assange Extradition? Outgoing Prosecutor Isn’t Sure (NRP)

The federal prosecutor seeking to try WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Espionage Act charges said he’s uncertain about whether the administration of President-elect Joe Biden would continue the extradition effort. Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, pointed out that the Assange case had already consumed years of work by line prosecutors and other officials. A judge in the United Kingdom dealt American prosecutors a blow Monday by rejecting their efforts to transfer Assange to the United States, citing his mental health troubles. The Justice Department pledged that it would appeal — a process that could drag on for months, if not longer. That means the issue of how to handle Assange, accused in one of the largest compromises of classified information in history, will be one of many questions for the new leadership team at the Justice Department.


“It will be very interesting to see what happens with this case,” Terwilliger said. “There’ll be some decisions to be made. Some of this does come down to resources and where you’re going to focus your energies.” For its part, the Biden transition didn’t comment directly on what position it would take in the Assange matter. But a spokesperson pointed out that Biden has called for an independent Justice Department in his administration. Terwilliger spoke to NPR on one of his final days in government service. Later this month, he’s set to join the law firm Vinson & Elkins. Terwilliger, 39, will beef up the firm’s white collar crime practice, after spending his entire career –a dozen years — on the other side of the courtroom as a career prosecutor and political appointee at the Justice Department.

Read more …

These reports keep coming in.

2 People Die In Norway Nursing Home Days After Receiving Pfizer Vaccine (RT)

The Norwegian Medicines Agency has announced that two nursing home residents passed away days after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and that an investigation has been launched into the deaths. “We have to assess whether the vaccine is the cause of death, or if it is a coincidence that it happened soon after vaccination,” Medical Director Steiner Madsen said in a statement about the deaths. He also noted that, because people of advanced age are receiving the vaccine first, it is entirely possible the deaths could be coincidental. Around 400 people die every week in Norwegian nursing homes.


The agency, along with the National Institute of Public Health, are looking into the deaths. Reported side effects from the vaccine have been minor and temporary, although there have been reports of allergic reactions in the US and UK among people who had a history of such. Numerous government officials have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, including US Vice President Mike Pence. Vaccinations with the drug began in Norway on December 27.

Read more …

That’s a lot.

Rate Of Adverse Reactions To COVID Vaccines 50x Higher Than Flu Shot (ZH)

With reports this morning of another otherwise-healthy patient dying suddenly after receiving her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, many skeptics in both Europe and the US still have serious reservations about the jabs, even as big pharma and their allies in the US and British governments insist that they are 100% safe. Everyone claiming otherwise is not only wrongheaded, but acting in a deliberately malicious manner. This is why commentary like a video posted by DoubleLine’s Jeffrey Gundlach where he questions the sky-high efficacy numbers published after the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech trials has elicited such vehement repudiation.

However, as new questions about efficacy and timing arise, independent journalist Alex Berenson, one of the most prominent skeptics of lockdowns and masks in the US, noted in a twitter thread earlier on Tuesday that the percentage of patients experiencing severe or potentially life-threatening reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines could be much higher than the data collected by the CDC are letting on. The CDC’s VAERS reporting system was set up to track vaccine-related injury, Most patients can expect to experience some kind of adverse reaction, but for the vast majority of patients, symptoms will be relatively mild and clear up within a couple of days.

But amid a rush of reports about patient deaths, Berenson points out that the number of patients seeing serious complications per the number of doses distributed is roughly 50x higher than the rate of ‘adverse’ reactions caused by the flu vaccine. Berenson also speculated that this number might be even higher due to possible delays in updating the CDC’s data sets. This would seemingly confirm rates of adverse reactions seen during clinical trials. What’s more, clinical trials, generally speaking, tend to “UNDERSTATE” unpleasant or unwanted side effects, while they “OVERSTATE” the drug’s efficacy.

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“it is quite clear that they are not responsible for any side effects. If you become an alligator, it’s your problem.”

Peru Clashes With Pfizer Over Legal Immunity For Vaccine Side Effects (RT)

Peru has reached an impasse with Pfizer as it negotiates a deal for a Covid-19 vaccine, the country’s health minister said, citing a conflict over legal immunity for the pharma firm that could undermine Peru’s sovereignty. While officials have remained in “constant contact” with Pfizer since the summer, the talks ran into trouble last month amid “controversy” over some clauses of the agreement, including those linked to pricing and delivery, as well as legal immunities for the pharmaceutical giant in the case its inoculation leads to death or injury, health minister Pilar Mazzetti told lawmakers on Tuesday. “With Pfizer there are some details where there is no agreement,” Mazzetti said, adding “This has to do with prices and the delivery schedule” as well as “the waiving of important elements such as … jurisdictional immunity.”

“It is true that one needs the vaccine but it is also true that there are aspects related to aspects of our sovereignty that the country has to protect … it has to do with risk for future generations.” The health chief noted that since most aspects of the negotiations are protected under a confidentiality agreement, she could not offer further detail on the ongoing row, but assured that the talks continue. “We hope that the controversy will be resolved so we will be able to determine when the vaccine will arrive,” she went on. Though the country announced a final deal with Pfizer for nearly 10 million vaccine doses in late November, Mazzetti said the process stalled after some clauses in the agreement required “more in-depth analysis” to determine whether they are compatible with Peruvian law.

The Latin American nation is not the first to voice concerns about legal liability waivers in their talks with the pharma firm, with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro observing last month that “it is quite clear that they are not responsible for any side effects. If you become an alligator, it’s your problem.” Officials in Argentina have raised similar worries. As the liability concerns become a major obstacle for some nations, the World Bank said on Tuesday that it is working with over 100 countries to address the issue, whether through local legislative efforts or other processes. The World Bank Group’s president, David Malpass, also noted that the agency aims to distribute $160 billion in resources by June to help developing countries obtain immunizations and fight the pandemic.

Read more …

Surprised?

Wuhan Coronavirus Infections 10 Times Higher Than Reported (NI)

Roughly half a million residents of Wuhan—the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated—may have been infected with the virus, a figure that is about ten times higher than what was initially reported. The study by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed more than thirty-four thousand people in April, and it eventually discovered that 4.4 percent of those tested were found to be carrying the antibodies for the coronavirus. The presence of antibodies means that individuals, at one point in time, had been carriers of the virus. As of Sunday, Wuhan, which has a population of 11 million, had reported a total of 50,354 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.


The Chinese CDC noted that the study was conducted a month after China “contained the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic.” The study also indicated that the infection rate in Wuhan was significantly higher than in other major cities and provinces. For example, it revealed that only 0.44 percent of Hubei residents were found to be carrying the antibodies. “Exactly how much we have missed we don’t exactly know, but this gives us an idea that we have missed quite a bit,” Ian Mackay, an associated professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, told the South China Morning Post. Song Fujian, of Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in Britain, told the paper that “given the chaotic situation and limited testing capability during the early phase of the epidemic in Wuhan,” the serological survey results might be “more accurate than the reported number of confirmed cases.”

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It’s only been a year.

Australia Says China Should Allow In WHO Covid Investigators (G.)

The Australian government has called on China to allow a visit by World Health Organization experts investigating how the coronavirus pandemic started, insisting the country should grant them visas “without delay”. Canberra raised its concerns on Wednesday over reports that Chinese authorities had blocked the arrival of a WHO team investigating the early cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan. With China arguing the team’s visas had not yet been approved, even as some members of the group were on their way to the country, the development has heightened fears among Australian politicians about whether the WHO mission will be able to uncover answers needed to better prepare the world for the next pandemic.


The Australian foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, said she hoped “that the necessary permissions for the WHO team’s travel to China can be issued without delay”. Speaking after months of rocky relations between the two countries, partly triggered by Australia’s calls for such an investigation, Payne said Australia had “consistently sought transparency in relation to the origins of, and responses to the coronavirus, as have other countries”. “The WHO-convened scientific study is an important part of this work and we look forward to the findings from the international field mission to China,” she said. “During this global pandemic that has affected all countries, international cooperation and partnerships will maximise our ability to respond, and to equip us for the next pandemic.”

Read more …

53 arrests reported. Including activists’ lawyers.

China Arrests US Lawyer During “Massive Crackdown” In Hong Kong (ZH)

Update 11:00pm ET: In what would be a shocking development, Bloomberg reports that during its “massive crackdown” purging countless local activists and politicians, the Hong Kong police – i.e. China – has arrested American Lawyer, John Clancey, using as a pretext the National Security Law, which everyone warned China would use as strawman to crack down on Hong Kong citizens and activists. Well, it now appears that the emboldened Beijing – which is delighted by the ascent of pro-China pushover Joe Biden to the White House – is also using that law to arrest American citizens.

H.K. ARRESTS AMERICAN LAWYER JOHN CLANCEY, COLLEAGUE SAYS
CLANCEY ARRESTED UNDER NATIONAL SECURITY LAW: COLLEAGUE

In response, Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sent out a harshly worded tweet, warning China that the “Biden-Harris administration will stand with the people of Hong Kong and against Beijing’s crackdown on democracy.” We eagerly await to see just what the Blinken Biden administration will do, besides tweeting angrily in China’s general direction, to secure release of an American citizen unjustly arrested by Chinese proxies in Hong Kong.

Earlier: “Massive Crackdown”: Hong Kong Police Arrest Dozens Of Politicians & Activists 2021 is less than a week old and already Beijing is ramping up its efforts to suppress what’s left of the pro-democracy opposition in Hong Kong. Right now, China hawks are preoccupied right now by a number of issues: the disappearance of Jack Ma (note: CNBC claims the Alibaba founder is just “laying low”), Beijing’s refusal to allow international investigators inside the Wuhan Institue of Virology and, finally, the CCP’s abusive treatment of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority. Now, less than two months after the last 19 members of the HK LegCo’s pro-democracy opposition quit en masse over Beijing’s demands that they swear a loyalty oath to uphold the new national security law and the supremacy of the CCP, Hong Kong police have rounded up dozens of pro-democracy activists.

Read more …

“..more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type — franchise, chain and independent — are in an economic free fall.”

The US Has Lost More Than 110,000 Restaurants (Snyder)

The restaurant industry is in the midst of a complete and total meltdown that is unlike anything that we have ever seen before. If you ask Google how many restaurants there are in the United States, it will tell you that there are 660,755, although that number is a few years old. But for the purposes of this article, that is a good enough estimate. Americans love to eat out, and restaurant workers are some of the hardest working people in the entire country. So it is incredibly sad to see more restaurants constantly going under. In some cases, restaurants that have served their communities for decades are deciding to permanently close their doors. For example, over the weekend Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse in New York City announced that it had finally reached the end of the road…

[..] Unfortunately, Sammy’s is far from alone. In fact, in a recent article that he penned for Fox Business, Adam Piper lamented the fact that more than 100,000 U.S. restaurants have gone out of business during this pandemic… “State and local governments have wielded the coronavirus pandemic as license to steal freedom and opportunity in pursuit of unprecedented omnipotence. Unreasonable, unnecessary and hypocritical actions have forced over 100,000 restaurants to close and endanger countless others.” And according to Bloomberg, the true number of dead restaurants is now over 110,000… “More than 110,000 restaurants have closed permanently or long-term across the country as the industry grapples with the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Just think about that. More than one out of every six restaurants in the U.S. is already gone, and the National Restaurant Association is warning that there will be more carnage in the months ahead because the industry is in “an economic free fall”… “The restaurant industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer,” Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs at the association, said in a letter to Congress. “What these findings make clear is that more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type — franchise, chain and independent — are in an economic free fall.” This is what an economic depression looks like. With tens of thousands of restaurants sitting empty, and with tens of thousands of others not paying rent, the stage has been set for a commercial real estate disaster of unprecedented scope and size.

Of course there are millions of square feet of office space and retail space that are not being productive right now as well. In a recent article, Lee Adler referred to this looming commercial real estate nightmare as “a monster in the room”… “I think that if there’s anything that illustrates the head in the sand problem of the banks, it’s this. Commercial real estate (CRE) finance. There’s a monster in the room. All that empty space. No longer income producing.” For now, big financial institutions are doing their best to hide their coming losses, but according to Adler for certain sectors the losses will simply be unavoidable… “Multifamily will take a haircut but will survive. My guess is that industrial, while overpriced and overvalued, will produce enough income to get by. Office and retail? Kiss it goodbye. It’s done. Over. Kaput.”

Read more …

Victoria Nuland is the worst America has to offer.

Biden To Tap More Obama Vets To Fill Key National Security Roles

President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team have begun to fill out top positions on the incoming National Security Council and at the State Department, with key roles like deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of State going to veterans of the Obama administration. At the State Department, longtime diplomat Wendy Sherman will be nominated to serve as Secretary of State-designee Tony Blinken’s deputy, according to two people close to the transition. Sherman previously served as under secretary of State for political affairs in the Obama administration and was a lead negotiator for the Iran deal. Sherman is currently a senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group, the same firm where Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden’s pick to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also worked as a senior counselor.

Another veteran diplomat, Victoria Nuland, will be nominated for the role of under secretary of State for political affairs, one of the people said. Nuland also previously served in the Obama administration, as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. Nuland and Sherman, who entered academia and the think tank world after leaving the Obama administration, have been outspoken critics of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy — particularly his appeasement of Russian President Vladimir Putin. On the National Security Council, former State Department official Jon Finer will be named deputy national security adviser, the people said, reporting up to incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Finer, a former journalist, joined the Obama White House as a fellow in 2009 and served in various roles throughout Obama’s tenure, including as a foreign policy speechwriter for Biden and a senior adviser to then-deputy national security adviser Blinken. Finer had been working in political risk and public policy at the private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which was co-founded by Blinken’s father, since leaving government in 2017. The key NSC role of senior director for European Affairs will go to Amanda Sloat, a Brookings Institution fellow who served as deputy assistant secretary for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean affairs at the State Department in the Obama administration.

Read more …

And Nuland’s co-conspirator Geoffrey Pyatt is now US ambassador here in Greece.

Biden Taps Architect of 2014 Ukraine Coup for State Department (Antiwar)

According to a report from Politico, Joe Biden’s transition team is expected to nominate Victoria Nuland to be the under secretary of state for political affairs for the incoming administration’s State Department. Nuland, who is married to neoconservative Robert Kagan, is known for her role in orchestrating the 2014 coup in Ukraine while she was the assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian affairs in the Obama administration. A recording of a phone call between Nuland and then-US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt was leaked and released on YouTube on February 4th, 2014. In the call, Nuland and Pyatt discussed who should replace the government of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was forced to step down on February 22nd, 2014.

The US-backed coup sparked the war in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and led to the Russian annexation of Crimea. Both regions have a majority ethnic-Russian population who rejected the nationalist, anti-Russian post-coup government that even had neo-Nazis in its midst. In a 2020 column for Foreign Affairs titled, “Pinning Down Putin,” Nuland said Russian President Vladimir Putin “seized” on the 2014 coup and other “democratic struggles” to “fuel the perception at home of Russian interests under siege by external enemies.” She also cited the war in the Donbas and annexation of Crimea as examples of Russian aggression, as most in Washington do.

Currently, Nuland is a fellow at the Brookings Institution and works for the Albright Stonebridge Group. She is also a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, a US-taxpayer funded nonprofit that funds “pro-democracy” movements across the world.

Read more …

“..the entire litany of brutality to which we’ve been subjected for nearly a year, all summed up in the word lockdown. Dr. Henderson warned against it all…”

Catastrophe Is All Around Us (AIER)

As a naturally optimistic person, it vexes me that the word catastrophe has echoed in my mind since early March 2020. It’s the word the great smallpox eradicator Donald Henderson used in his 2006 prediction of the consequences of lockdown, a word that wasn’t around then. His masterful article addressed the idea of travel restrictions, forced human separation, business and school closings, mask mandates, limits on public gatherings, quarantines, and the entire litany of brutality to which we’ve been subjected for nearly a year, all summed up in the word lockdown. Dr. Henderson warned against it all. This is not how you deal with disease, he said; at a minimum society needs to function so that medical professionals can do their work.

Diseases are managed one person at a time, not with grand central plans. That was the old wisdom in any case. Under the influence of vainglorious modelers, ideological resetters, and politicians hoping to make names for themselves, most of the world tried the lockdown experiment anyway. Here we are nearly a year since I wrote my first article warning that governments presumed themselves to possess the quarantine power. They could use it if they wanted to. I didn’t expect they would. I wrote this piece as a “for your information” public service just to let people know how terrible governments could be.

I had no idea that quarantines would be only the beginning. At this point we know what we did not know then. They are capable – by they I mean even governments in presumably civilized countries with functioning democracies – of the unthinkable, and they are capable of persisting in the unthinkable for an appalling amount of time. Now the lockdowns are our life in the US, unless you are lucky enough to live in Florida, Georgia, South Dakota, South Carolina, and perhaps a few other places. Here in these outposts of what we used to call civilization, life seems normal. Our readers in these states don’t even think about the virus much, and they read my articles and find them overwrought, like I’m describing life on another planet.

Read more …

Externalities.

More Than 1.5 Billion Face Masks Will Pollute Oceans This Year (NYP)

More than 1.5 billion disposable face masks will wind up in the world’s oceans this year — polluting the water with tons of plastic and endangering marine wildlife, according to a Hong Kong-based environmental group. A report by OceansAsia cites a global market research report that estimates 52 billion masks were made this year to meet the demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It also says that a “conservative” calculation means at least 3 percent of them will be washed out to sea. “Single-use face masks are made from a variety of meltblown plastics and are difficult to recycle due to both composition and risk of contamination and infection,” the report says.


“These masks enter our oceans when they are littered or otherwise improperly discarded, when waste management systems are inadequate or non-existent, or when these systems become overwhelmed due to increased volumes of waste.” With each mask weighing three to four grams, the situation could lead to 6,800-plus tons of plastic pollution that “will take as long as 450 years to break down,” according to the report. In addition to the harmful effects of micro-plastic and nano-plastic particles, elastic ear loops pose a “possible entanglement risk for wildlife,” the report says. The report cites several examples of marine animals killed by masks, including a “dead bloated pufferfish” found tangled in the loops of a disposable blue mask by volunteers cleaning a Miami beach in August.

Read more …

And sometimes you look up from whatever it is you’re doing and suddenly you see life.

US Doctor Forgives $650,000 In Medical Bills For Cancer Patients (BBC)

A US oncologist has wiped out nearly $650,000 worth of debts for 200 cancer patients after realising that many of them were struggling to pay. Dr Omar Atiq closed his cancer treatment centre in Arkansas last year after nearly 30 years in business. He worked with a debt collection firm to gather outstanding payments, but then realised many families had been hit hard financially by the pandemic. Over Christmas, he wrote to patients telling them any debts would be erased. “Over time I realised that there are people who just are unable to pay,” Dr Atiq told ABC’s Good Morning America. “So my wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt. We saw that we could do it and then just went ahead and did it.” Dr Atiq, who is originally from Pakistan, founded the Arkansas Cancer Clinic in Pine Bluff in 1991, providing treatments including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and CAT scans.


He is now a professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock. “We thought there was not a better time to do this than during a pandemic that has decimated homes, people’s lives and businesses and all sorts of stuff,” Dr Atiq said, quoted by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He said the outstanding bills from about 200 patients totalled nearly $650,000 (£480,000). In his Christmas greeting card to patients, he wrote: “The Arkansas Cancer Clinic was proud to serve you as a patient. Although various health insurances pay most of the bills for majority of patients, even the deductibles and co-pays can be burdensome. Unfortunately, that is the way our health care system currently works. The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients. Happy Holidays.”

Read more …

 

 

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Sep 102020
 


Edgar Degas Dancers in Blue 1895

 

Fauci Foils Latest ‘Bombshell’ – “Trump Didn’t Distort Anything” (ZH)
Bob Woodward Aided Trump’s Crime Against Humanity (Sirota/Perez)
Woodward: General James Mattis Plotted Overthrow of US Government (CT)
Julian Assange ‘Targeted As Political Opponent Of Trump Administration’ (ES)
How The US Makes You Focus On Assange’s Personality (Chomsky, Walker)
Steele Acted Crazy, His FBI Handler Says: People’s Ears Were Bleeding (RCI)
The Mysterious Destruction Of Evidence Related To Steele Dossier (Solomon)
Ex-NSA Chief Involved In Mass Spying Snowden Revealed Joins Amazon Board (RT)
NIH Funded Human Coronavirus Experiments In 2019 In China (JTN)
Stop Crying Foul Over Fascism (Tracey)
Wildlife In ‘Catastrophic Decline’ That Shows No Sign Of Slowing (BBC)
Nobel Prize Economics Of Climate Change Is Misleading, Dangerous (Steve Keen)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nomi Prins

 

 

Are you ready for two more months of this? It’s the Atlantic, then Woodward, and it’s not going to stop. The Atlantic piece was found to be empty drivel, and Woodward was given full cooperation by Trump, whose biggest fault seems to be that he actually knew things, but as I said yesterday, who cares what is true. It’s getting the stuff out there and let it do its damage.

All the time they all say: he must listen to the science. And now apparently he shouldn’t have. He didn’t want to create a panic, but that apparently now is what a US president should do. It’s circular logic at its best.

And why isn’t anyone talking about Fauci downplaying the threat, about Fauci’s “crimes against humanity”?

But Trump knew and he didn’t do anything! Yes, he did, he went and talked to the scientists. Guess what they told him. Trump told Woodward about what he had heard during a security briefing, not what Fauci had told him. And he’s supposed to listen to the scientists, remember?!

Tyler has it down:

 

 

Scott Adams Effective attack

 

 

Fauci Foils Latest ‘Bombshell’ – “Trump Didn’t Distort Anything” (ZH)

Well that didn’t take long. Woodward’s apparent ‘gotcha’ moment which is now spreading in an interestingly coordinated fashion across the MSM has been out-bombshell’d by none other than Dr.Fauci (he who speaks science truth and is above reproach). Fauci just went on Fox News and said that President Trump “did not distort anything and acted immediately when he was presented the data.” Birx and Redfield also testified the same thing under oath. Fauci also disputed alleged quotes from him in Bob Woodward’s story that President Trump is “unfocused in meetings” and that “his sole purpose is to get re-elected.” “I don’t recall that at all.”


On February 7, two days after President Trump was acquitted by the Senate of impeachment charges, he gave a lengthy interview to veteran journalist Bob Woodward which he allowed to be taped. Instead of talking about the impeachment, however, Woodward was ‘surprised’ that Trump was focused on COVID-19, the deadly virus gripping Wuhan, China while Dr. Anthony Fauci and the World Health Organization downplayed the risks. “This is deadly stuff,” Trump told Woodward, adding that the virus was possibly five times “more deadly” than the flu. Trump also told Woodward that the virus was airborne (while the World Health Organization explicitly said it was not, and maintained in January there was no human-to-human transmission).

Fauci Woodward

Fauci, on the other hand, told Newsmax TV on January 21 it was no big deal: “Obviously, you need to take it seriously and do the kind of things the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the Department of Homeland Security is doing. But this is not a major threat to the people of the United States and this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.” -Dr Anthony Fauci, January 21. On February 17, Fauci continued to downplay the virus – saying that the risk to the US is “minuscule,” and that people shouldn’t wear masks. In other words, Trump was doing what Biden claims he’ll do; listen to the scientists.


Yet, days before Trump’s February 7 interview with Woodward, he restricted travel from China on the advice of his National Security team – for which he was called a ‘xenophobe’ by Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi. Three weeks later, Pelosi invited people to come to Chinatown, without masks, to “say everything is fine here.” Now, Pelosi is on MSNBC claiming that Trump’s “delay, distortion and denial is responsible for many of the deaths we have today.” Meanwhile, the WHO waited until March 11 to declare a pandemic. And so, CNN’s ‘gotcha’ is this: Trump also admitted to Woodward in a follow-up interview on March 19 that he purposefully downplayed the virus in order to avoid panic. “I wanted to always play it down,” he said, adding “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

CNN somehow overlooks Fauci, Pelosi and Biden downplaying the virus themselves – with the latter two calling Trump a xenophobe for his China travel restrictions. Three days later, Trump announced restrictions on travel from China, a move suggested by his national security team — despite Trump’s later claims that he alone backed the travel limitations. Nevertheless, Trump continued to publicly downplay the danger of the virus. February was a lost month. Woodward views this as a damning missed opportunity for Trump to reset “the leadership clock” after he was told this was a “once-in-a-lifetime health emergency.” -CNN. In other words – Trump took the virus seriously, restricted travel, was called a ‘xenophobe’ for it, and is now under attack for downplaying it in the same way his advisers, Pelosi, the WHO and others were in order to avoid public panic. Let’s see if the left’s latest ‘bombshell’ gains traction.

Biden fear-mongering
https://twitter.com/i/status/1303775675887820800

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Well, so much for Bernie campaigner Sirota. A shame, just started to like him for his Biden comments.

It’s like: nothing Trump says is credible, unless and until you can use it against him.

Still, “crime against humanity”, it’s quite the take. So it’s Trump and Woodward, but not Fauci, whose ultimate responsibility it is to advise the president? Why, because Fauci won’t play the “crime against humanity” game?

Bob Woodward Aided Trump’s Crime Against Humanity (Sirota/Perez)

Back in February, there were plenty of questions about just how deadly the coronavirus was, and how it could be transmitted. Was it really all that lethal? Could you catch it through the air? Some experts said it probably wasn’t airborne. Few seemed to have definitive answers. But the nation’s most famous celebrity journalist knew – and knew the president did too – but decided not to tell anyone, and nearly 200,000 people have died since. This is the story of Bob Woodward — the man who earned fame and fortune uncovering the Watergate scandal, and now the man who decades later was informed by the President of the United States that a pandemic was deadly and airborne, and decided to hold that information for seven months so he could juice book sales at a more opportune time closer to the election.

“It goes through air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch,” Trump told Woodward in early February, months before scientists publicly pressed the World Health Organization to acknowledge the airborne nature of the disease. “You know, the touch, you don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so, that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than your — you know, your, even your strenuous flus.” Trump openly admitted to Woodward that he wanted to downplay the severity of the virus. “I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told him in March. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

It is important to remember two things: 1) the first set of comments came in FEBRUARY, well before there was widespread public awareness of the lethality of the virus and 2) as much of a buffoon as he is, Trump is not some rando just speculating. He is quite literally the president, with access to the world’s top scientists. So he was divulging crucial, newsworthy and time-sensitive information. Clearly, he knew more about the lethality and transmission of the virus than he was publicly letting on, and yet he was still downplaying the severity of the disease and insinuating that it is like the common flu. That’s a horrific crime against humanity — but it was aided and abetted by the popular face of investigative journalism: Mr. All The President’s Men himself.

Now they’re blaming Trump

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What, wait? Woodward sat on this info too?

Woodward: General James Mattis Plotted Overthrow of US Government (CT)

According to a pre-release excerpt from the Washington Post Bob Woodward writes about a discussion between General James Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats about a plot to overthrow the elected government of the United States. […] “Mattis quietly went to Washington National Cathedral to pray about his concern for the nation’s fate under Trump’s command and, according to Woodward, told Coats, “There may come a time when we have to take collective action” since Trump is “dangerous. He’s unfit.” What do you call a conversation between the Defense Secretary and the head of the U.S. intelligence apparatus where they are talking about taking “collective action” to remove an elected President? That’s called sedition…. A seditious conspiracy.

As alarming as that sounds on its face, this actually aligns with our own previous research into key military leadership, the joint chiefs, and their corrupt intent to overthrow the elected government. Readers will remember when we noted this very issue after Lt. Col Alexander Vindman compromised his position yet was not removed by his command structure within the Pentagon.

NOVEMBER 2019 – […] For emphasis let me repeat a current fact that is being entirely overlooked. Despite his admitted usurpation of President Trump policy, Vindman was sent back to his post in the NSC with the full support of the United States Department of Defense. The onus of action to remove Vindman from the NSC does not just lay simply at the feet of the White House and National Security advisor Robert O’Brien; and upon whose action the removal of Vindman could be positioned as political; the necessary, albeit difficult or perhaps challenging, obligation to remove Lt. Col Vindman also resides purposefully with the Dept. of Defense. The Pentagon could easily withdraw Vindman from his position at the National Security Council; yet, it does not…. and it has not. WHY?

There is a code within the military whereby you never put your leadership into a position of compromise; ie. “never compromise your leadership”. In this example, President Trump cannot remove Vindman from the White House NSC advisory group due to political ramifications and appearances… The Joint Chiefs certainly recognize this issue; it is the very type of compromise they are trained to remove. Yet they do nothing to remove the compromise. They do nothing to assist. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was the majority (#1) source for the material CIA operative Eric Ciaramella used in a collaborative effort to remove President Trump from office. Let me make this implication crystal clear:

The United States Military is collaborating with the CIA to remove a U.S. President from office. Do you see the issue now? The Pentagon has done nothing, absolutely nothing, to countermand this implication/reality. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have done nothing, absolutely nothing, to diminish the appearance of, nor deconstruct the agenda toward, the removal of President Trump. Mr. President, do I have your attention?

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You want to go after Trump? This is a much better and worthier topic.

Julian Assange ‘Targeted As Political Opponent Of Trump Administration’ (ES)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been targeted as a “political opponent” of President Trump’s administration and threatened with the death penalty, the Old Bailey heard today. Professor Paul Rogers, a lecturer in peace studies at Bradford University and specialist on the ‘War on Terror’, said Assange’s opinions put him “in the crosshairs” of Trump’s top team. Giving evidence to Assange’s extradition hearing this morning, he said he believes the prosecution case is part of a drive in the United States to target “dissenters”. “In my opinion Mr Assange’s expressed views, opinions and activities demonstrate very clearly ‘political opinions’”, he told the court.

“The clash of those opinions with those of successive US administrations, but in particular the present administration which has moved to prosecute him for publications made almost a decade ago, suggest that he is regarded primarily as a political opponent who must experience the full wrath of government, even with suggestions of punishment by death made by senior officials including the current President.” [..] Professor Rogers, in his witness statement, said Assange’s work involved exposing secrets that the US government wanted to keep hidden, he had been in conflict with the Obama administration, but there was “no question” that Assange had been targeted as a political opponent by Trump’s officials.

“The opinions and views of Mr Assange, demonstrated in his words and actions with the organisation WikiLeaks over many years, can be seen as very clearly placing him in the crosshairs of dispute with the philosophy of the Trump administration”, he said. Assange’s legal team argue that a decision was taken under President Obama not to prosecute the Wikileaks activist, but that move was overturned under Trump. During the Obama presidency there was a greater recognition of the problems and less pressure on those presenting conflicting evidence”, said Professor Rogers. “But since the election of President Trump there has been a vigorous denigration of the Obama era, a return to the outlook of the Bush administration and even more bitter opposition to those perceived as dissenters, especially those involved in communicating unwelcome information such as Mr Assange.”

Craig Murray Assange

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From Julian’s mother, Christine:

“Its a stategic mistake as a #FreeAssange supporter to say:

“Even if you dont like #JulianAssange as a person defend him on free press principles”

1) Its giving credibility to the personal smear campaign!

2) People DONT support people they dont like!”

How The US Makes You Focus On Assange’s Personality (Chomsky, Walker)

Assange is not on trial for skateboarding in the Ecuadorian embassy, for tweeting, for calling Hillary Clinton a war hawk, or for having an unkempt beard as he was dragged into detention by British police. Assange faces extradition to the United States because he published incontrovertible proof of war crimes and abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, embarrassing the most powerful nation on Earth. Assange published hard evidence of “the ways in which the first world exploits the third”, according to whistleblower Chelsea Manning, the source of that evidence. Assange is on trial for his journalism, for his principles, not his personality. You’ve probably heard the refrain from well-meaning pundits: “You don’t have to like him, but you should oppose threats to silence him.”

But that refrain misses the point by reinforcing the manipulative tropes deployed against Assange. When setting a gravely dangerous precedent, governments don’t typically persecute the most beloved individuals in the world. They target those who can be portrayed as subversive, unpatriotic – or simply weird. Then they actively distort public debate by emphasizing those traits. These techniques are not new. After Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to journalists to expose the US government’s lies about Vietnam, the Nixon administration’s “White House Plumbers” broke into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office in search of material that could be used to discredit him.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was falsely portrayed as collaborating with the Chinese, then the Russians. Obsession with military intelligence analyst Manning’s mental health and gender identity was ubiquitous. By demonizing the messenger, governments seek to poison the message. The prosecution will be all too happy when coverage of Assange’s extradition hearing devolves into irrelevant tangents and smears. It matters little that Assange’s beard was the result of his shaving kit having been confiscated, or that reports of Paul Manafort visiting him in the embassy were proven to be fabricated. By the time these petty claims are refuted, the damage will be done. At best, public debate over the real issues will be derailed; at worst, public opinion will be manipulated in favour of the establishment.

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“I’m now understanding that he did this because he was upset that the Director’s reopening of the investigation was going to negatively affect the election for Hillary Clinton.”

Steele Acted Crazy, His FBI Handler Says: People’s Ears Were Bleeding (RCI)

“Crazy” was the term the FBI agent used to describe the behavior of Christopher Steele, author of the now-debunked Trump-Russia dossier. “I’ve seen crazy source-related stuff in 20 years in New York and this was one of the craziest,” the veteran agent testified to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Nevertheless, the FBI continued to rely on Steele’s allegations – that Donald Trump and his team were conspiring with Russians who possessed compromising information – to justify its surveillance of the Trump campaign. Without evidence to verify Steele’s claims, the FBI fell back on its assertion that the former British intelligence agent was reliable. The previously unreported testimony of FBI agent Michael Gaeta is found on page 900 of the fifth and final volume of the Senate committee’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

It raises new questions about the basis of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign, Crossfire Hurricane, and the declarations it made to the FISA court in four separate applications submitted to spy on American citizens. Gaeta had a long history with the London-based Steele, who had started his own firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, after leaving the British spy service MI6 in 2009. Between 2013 and 2016, the bureau had paid Steele $95,000 to pass along tidbits on Eurasian organized crime; Gaeta was his contact at the bureau. It was Gaeta whom Steele approached in July 2016 with wild and depraved stories of collusion and kompromat. Gaeta became the “handling agent” for Steele’s participation in Crossfire Hurricane. Among his tasks was to get Steele paid (a process that came along slowly) and to see to it that Steele didn’t violate the FBI’s rules on confidentiality.

This requirement for discretion created a conflict of interest for Steele, who was also being paid for the same information by the Washington-based firm Fusion GPS. Fusion, in turn was being paid by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign for opposition research on Trump. The Democrats wanted Steele’s information spread far and wide. They also wanted to be able to claim that the FBI was investigating the allegations. Paid FBI informants, however, are not allowed to tell anyone of their work for the FBI or of the bureau’s investigations. Gaeta was astonished, then, when shortly before the 2016 election an article appeared in Mother Jones titled “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.” The sub-headline asked, “Has the bureau investigated this material?” Gaeta was convinced Steele was the source for the article and confronted him about it. Steele readily admitted he was behind the Mother Jones story.

[..] Here’s how Gaeta recounted that conversation to the Senate: “Listen, is it about the money?” Gaeta asked Steele. “Because we have the money now. Is it about the money?” The FBI had promised, but had yet to deliver to Steele, $15,000 for one meeting with Crossfire Hurricane agents. The bureau had further promised Steele he would be paid “significantly” for his Trump-Russia research. Gaeta assumed at first a delay in payment had made Steele go rogue. “Yes, I’m owed the money, but that’s secondary,” Steele told Gaeta. “I’m very upset about – we’re very upset – about the actions of your agency.” By the “we” in “we’re very upset” one can reasonably infer that Steele was speaking about himself and his client, Fusion GPS head Glenn Simpson (whose client, not counting cutouts, was Hillary Clinton’s campaign).

The handling agent was shocked: “I had no idea what he was talking about.” Before Gaeta could inquire further, Steele started railing about ”your Director” and his “reopening of the investigation.” This was an apparent reference to former FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server after 340,000 copies of State Department emails between Clinton and her close personal aide, Huma Abedin, were discovered on a laptop used by Abedin and her husband, Anthony Weiner. He was a disgraced congressman under investigation by the bureau’s New York office for sending sexually explicit messages and photos to an underage girl. At which point it all became clear to the handling agent: “I’m now understanding that he did this because he was upset that the Director’s reopening of the investigation was going to negatively affect the election for Hillary Clinton.”

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Oh, look, there’s Victoria Nuland again. Where’s the investigation into this?

The Mysterious Destruction Of Evidence Related To Steele Dossier (Solomon)

Earlier this year, the infamous dossier author Christopher Steele revealed he had destroyed nearly all the records detailing his dirt-digging on Donald Trump and Russia. “They no longer exist,” Steele told a British court. Now comes word that Steele’s primary and longtime contact inside the Obama State Department, Jonathan Winer, also destroyed records of the former British MI6 agent’s contacts inside that federal agency, including many of the 100-plus unsolicited intelligence reports Steele provided the Obama administration. “I destroyed them, and I basically destroyed all the correspondence I had with him,” Winer is quoted as saying in a little noticed passage of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s final report on the Russia collusion scandal.

Winer apparently destroyed the records at Steele’s request, the report said. “After Steele’s memos were published in the press in January 2017, Steele asked Winer to make note of having them, then either destroy all the earlier reports Steele had sent the Department of State or return them to Steele, out of concern that someone would be able to reconstruct his source network,” the committee’s report released last month stated. The consequence of the document destruction appears to have been real. “Department of State was able to produce for the Committee, from their archives, many Steele memos from 2015 and some from 2016, but most of his reports from 2014 are missing,” the committee noted.

The missing documents create an evidentiary hole in the story of Steele’s extensive contact at the Obama State Department, where he delivered through Winer a total of 120 reports on Russia and Ukraine policy matters that reached as high as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Secretary of State John Kerry. “Starting in 2013, Steele offered Winer, who was then at Department of State, reports he had written for clients on Russian-Ukrainian political leadership, economic issues, and political security,” the Senate report reveals. “Winer showed them to Nuland, who asked Winer to share them with her Principal Deputy, Paul Jones.

“Winer recounted Nuland’s reaction: ‘She said, these are good reports; they’re valuable; keep them coming.’ Winer further said that State officials thought the reports were ‘shockingly real-time.’ Nuland, who said that she never met Steele, told the Committee, ‘I found his stuff to be 70, 75 percent accurate, credible … when he was off base, it generally looked to me, felt to me, like he had been paying human sources who were exaggerating or getting extra money by pumping up what they knew or extrapolating.'”

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“It turns out ‘Hey Alexa’ is short for ‘Hey Keith Alexander.”

Ex-NSA Chief Involved In Mass Spying Snowden Revealed Joins Amazon Board (RT)

General Keith Alexander, ex-director of the National Security Agency, who oversaw illegal mass spying on Americans, has been appointed to Amazon’s board of directors, drawing the ire of privacy advocates, including Edward Snowden. Amazon announced that Alexander, who served as NSA director from 2005 up to his retirement in March 2014, will join the company’s board on Wednesday. “We’re thrilled to elect a new member to our Board of Directors this month. Welcome, General Keith Alexander!” the tech giant said in a statement on Twitter. However, some, including the ex-CIA contractor Edward Snowden, were less than “thrilled” about the appointment.

Snowden – who in 2013 blew the whistle on a secret NSA surveillance program, leaking a massive trove of documents proving the bulk and warrantless collection of Americans’ telephone records by the government – was one of the first to call out Amazon for hiring Alexander. “It turns out ‘Hey Alexa’ is short for ‘Hey Keith Alexander.’ Yes, the Keith Alexander personally responsible for the unlawful mass surveillance programs that caused a global scandal,” tweeted the whistleblower, who remains in exile in Russia.

Snowden noted that while Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosts nearly 6 percent of all websites, the figure looks even more damning “if you measure it by traffic instead of number of sites.” Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a Snowden ally who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the US intelligence machine’s global mass surveillance program, tweeted that Alexander’s appointment only revealed Amazon’s true colors. “Gen. Keith Alexander was head of NSA when it secretly built a massive domestic surveillance system aimed at Americans – the one an appellate court just ruled likely illegal. Amazon just appointed him to its Board of Directors, again showing who they are,” Greenwald said.

Last week, a federal appeals court ruled that the “bulk collection” of data used by the NSA was illegal, with Snowden hailing the decision as a milestone in the fight against government-sanctioned snooping. Even without an ex-spy chief with a less-than-stellar reputation in terms of privacy protection on its board, Amazon has faced growing pushback over its intrusive high-tech devices. Its virtual assistant Alexa was caught red-handed passively recording intimate conversations of unsuspecting family members, while its new fitness tracker ‘Halo’ promises to scan users’ bodies and track emotions in their voice.

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Now we know why nobody is investigating the Wuhan lab, and why the WHO team was not allowed anywhere near it.

NIH Funded Human Coronavirus Experiments In 2019 In China (JTN)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) was funding experiments in China in 2019 that sought to assess the risk of dangerous coronaviruses jumping from bat populations into human beings — research conducted in a laboratory near the site of — and possibly around the time of — the initial outbreak of the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic in that country, records show. The State Department, meanwhile, noted in 2018 that NIH has been a “major funder” of coronavirus research at that laboratory, one which —according to a recently released State memo — possessed a “shortage of trained staff EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based organization dedicated to infectious disease research, received $3.4 million over 6 years from NIH, according to an NIH spokeswoman. Among the sub-awardees of that grant was the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the infectious disease institute that sits within a few miles of where the Chinese government claimed the COVID-19 outbreak began.

[..] Due to the proximity of the outbreak to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, concerns have arisen in recent months that the lab was carrying out what is known as “gain-of-function” research that may have led to the pandemic. Gain-of-function experiments, as defined by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Arizona, involve “studies that enhance the pathogenicity, transmissibility, or host range of a pathogen” in order to assess the possible threat it poses to human beings, including its potential to become a pandemic virus. Citing biosafety concerns, the U.S. government in 2014 imposed a moratorium on gain-of-function studies into several types of viruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (or SARS) coronaviruses.

A spokeswoman for the NIH denied that the EcoHealth Alliance projects constituted gain-of-function experiments. “The research supported under grant characterized the function of newly discovered bat spike proteins and naturally occurring pathogens and did not involve the enhancement of the pathogenicity or transmissibility of the viruses studied,” she said. [..] A recently declassified State Department memo from 2018 indicates that the U.S. believed the WIV — the first P4-level lab in China — may have posed an outbreak risk due to what it said was the lab’s “shortage of trained staff” in that year at least. The P4 lab “became fully operational and began working with live viruses” only within the first four months of 2018, the memo said. The memo notes that the NIH had been a “major funder … of SARS research” at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, including helping to determine the origin of the SARS virus.

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“Trump would have to be quite a feckless fascist to allow himself to be constantly maligned in the country’s major media, plotted against by his own administration underlings, and impeached.”

Stop Crying Foul Over Fascism (Tracey)

It might not seem immediately apparent that Joe Biden would have anything in common with insurrectionary anarchists. After all, Biden has been deeply entrenched in the uppermost echelons of American political power for nearly five decades straight — whereas insurrectionary anarchists generally seek to overthrow those systems, by violent force if necessary. The former Vice-President is not exactly the type you would imagine clad in all-black combat-style street apparel, hurling commercial-grade fireworks at police officers. Rather, he drafted the infamous 1994 omnibus crime bill in concert with the National Association of Police Organizations. He is even known to venerate the arcane institutionalist ethos of the US Senate — whereas to insurrectionary anarchists, such institutions could only be tools of oppression.

But the Trump Era has an odd way of bringing about unexpected ideological convergences. In the announcement video that formally kicked off his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden paid homage to what he called the “courageous group of Americans” who descended upon Charlottesville, VA in August 2017 to confront an assembly of Right-wing rally-goers. Among that “courageous group” were Left-wing activist factions broadly classified under the banner of “antifa”. For Biden, what transpired in Charlottesville was a “defining moment,” and formed the basis for his decision to launch a third campaign for the presidency at age 76. While Biden did herald generic American idealism in that announcement video — which would be anathema to most insurrectionary anarchists — in the gravity he assigned to the Charlottesville episode, he also affirmed a core tenet of the “antifa” worldview: the notion that a uniquely pressing fascistic threat has gripped the country, and crushing this threat is a matter of unparalleled world-historic urgency.

Certainly, if you picked any “antifa” member at random, there’d be an almost 0% chance that they would express any kind of personal enthusiasm for Joe Biden. But there’d be a virtually 100% chance that they’d express a great deal of enthusiasm for the theory that “fascism” is an accurate characterisation of America’s current state of governance. Biden would be similarly enthused to present a variation of this analysis, albeit from a slightly different ideological angle. He typically intones things like, “This is not who we are”, rather than “All Cops Are Bastards”. Still, where Biden is united with “antifa” is in assigning such outsized importance to the role of small-time “fascist” agitators like the ones who gathered that weekend three years ago in Charlottesville (despite ultimately being outnumbered by Left-wing activists) on account of the validation they are purported to have received from Donald Trump. For both Biden and “antifa,” this dynamic constitutes the chief prism through which contemporary American political affairs must be viewed.

And for both Biden and “antifa,” this mode of analysis has been hugely successful. “Antifa” has succeeded in stoking nationwide insurrectionary fervour on a scale unseen in decades. Given their opposition to Trump as the alleged fascist-in-chief, as well as their appropriation of the “Black Lives Matter” protest mantle, they’ve received an extraordinary amount of mainstream liberal legitimation. Democratic Party operatives have even gone so far as to exalt “antifa” activists as the modern-day equivalents of US soldiers fighting in World War II — while apparently exhibiting no embarrassment for invoking this comparison.

[..] if your main sources of information tell you for years on end that the reins of state have been seized by an out-and-out fascist, who is fuelling a siege of “Nazi” street agitators, whatever deficiencies the Democratic Party might have at the moment are of little or no concern. Now even Sanders himself has called for a “united front” against Trump ahead of the election, seeming to suggest that the precedent of Francisco Franco is historically apt. Wasn’t the whole problem with Franco that he couldn’t be voted out? Never mind that Trump would have to be quite a feckless fascist to allow himself to be constantly maligned in the country’s major media, plotted against by his own administration underlings, and impeached.

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The story that never ends, until it does.

Wildlife In ‘Catastrophic Decline’ That Shows No Sign Of Slowing (BBC)

Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years, according to a major report by the conservation group WWF. The report says this “catastrophic decline” shows no sign of slowing. And it warns that nature is being destroyed by humans at a rate never seen before. Wildlife is “in freefall” as we burn forests, over-fish our seas and destroy wild areas, says Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF. “We are wrecking our world – the one place we call home – risking our health, security and survival here on Earth. Now nature is sending us a desperate SOS and time is running out.” The report looked at thousands of different wildlife species monitored by conservation scientists in habitats across the world.

They recorded an average 68% fall in more than 20,000 populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish since 1970. The decline was clear evidence of the damage human activity is doing to the natural world, said Dr Andrew Terry, director of conservation at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which provides the data. “If nothing changes, populations will undoubtedly continue to fall, driving wildlife to extinction and threatening the integrity of the ecosystems on which we depend,” he added. The report says the Covid-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of how nature and humans are intertwined. Factors believed to lead to the emergence of pandemics – including habitat loss and the use and trade of wildlife – are also some of the drivers behind the decline in wildlife.


New modelling evidence suggests we can halt and even reverse habitat loss and deforestation if we take urgent conservation action and change the way we produce and consume food. The British TV presenter and naturalist Sir David Attenborough said the Anthropocene, the geological age during which human activity has come to the fore, could be the moment we achieve a balance with the natural world and become stewards of our planet. “Doing so will require systemic shifts in how we produce food, create energy, manage our oceans and use materials,” he said. “But above all it will require a change in perspective. A change from viewing nature as something that’s optional or ‘nice to have’ to the single greatest ally we have in restoring balance to our world.”

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Nordhaus claimed that nothing that happened indoors would be affected by climate change. And both the IPPC and the Nobel committee bought that. Oh boy!

Nobel Prize Economics Of Climate Change Is Misleading, Dangerous (Steve Keen)

While climate scientists warn that climate change could be catastrophic, economists such as 2018 Nobel prize winner William Nordhaus assert that it will be nowhere near as damaging. In a 2018 paper published after he was awarded the prize, Nordhaus claimed that 3°C of warming would reduce global GDP by just 2.1%, compared to what it would be in the total absence of climate change. Even a 6°C increase in global temperature, he claimed, would reduce GDP by just 8.5%. If you find reassurance in those mild estimates of damage, be warned. In a newly published paper, I have demonstrated that the data on which these estimates are based relies upon seriously flawed assumptions.

Nordhaus’s celebrated work, which, according to the Nobel committee, has “brought us considerably closer to answering the question of how we can achieve sustained and sustainable global economic growth”, gives governments a reason to give climate change a low priority. His estimates imply that the costs of addressing climate change exceed the benefits until global warming reaches 4°C, and that a mild carbon tax will be sufficient to stabilise temperatures at this level at an overall cost of less than 4% of GDP in 120 year’s time. Unfortunately, these numbers are based on empirical estimates that are not merely wrong, but irrelevant.

Nordhaus (and about 20 like-minded economists) used two main methods to derive sanguine estimates of the economic consequences of climate change: the “enumerative method” and the “statistical method”. But my research shows neither stand up to scrutiny. In the enumerative method, to quote neoclassical climate change economist Richard Tol, “estimates of the ‘physical effects’ of climate change are obtained one by one from natural science papers … and added up”. This sounds reasonable, until you realise that the way this method has been deployed ignores industries that account for 87% of GDP, on the assumption that they “are undertaken in carefully controlled environments that will not be directly affected by climate change”.

Nordhaus’s list of industries that he assumed would be unaffected includes all manufacturing, underground mining, transportation, communication, finance, insurance and non-coastal real estate, retail and wholesale trade, and government services. It is everything that is not directly exposed to the elements: effectively, everything that happens indoors or underground. Two decades after Nordhaus first made this assumption in 1991, the economics section of the IPCC Report repeated it: “Economic activities such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and mining are exposed to the weather and thus vulnerable to climate change. Other economic activities, such as manufacturing and services, largely take place in controlled environments and are not really exposed to climate change.”

Read more …

 

 

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Jul 162020
 
 July 16, 2020  Posted by at 7:46 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »


Utagawa Yoshitoshi Ariko weeps as her boat drifts in the moonlight 1886

 

 

Sometimes I think I can only do this work properly if I’m angry all the time 24/7. But I don’t want to be angry all the time; what kind of life is that? Still, there are days when I just can’t help it. The British intelligence services (please let find another word for that, so as to not insult actually smart people) came out with a couple anti-Putin press releases today, and there we go again.

We can only guess at what they want this time, whether it to keep the UK’s own “RussiaRussia Putin is Hitler” flame alive, or are they seeking to help their US counterparts to rise from the ashes of their fully discredited years-long Orange Man Bad narratives, but boy, is this nauseating. What’s even worse is that people eat it up like candy.

Guys, this is your own highly paid snoops lying to you -along with your government(s)- like there’s no tomorrow, and you’re just sitting there worrying about wearing a face mask next time you go to a store. Know what that makes you? Sheep. I know y’all still know what those look like, and how they behave. So what’s the attraction?

Here’s BIGLY revelation no. 1 per the BBC. Do note the “almost certain” in both pieces, they need an easy way out if the story doesn’t stick. It also means that obviously they’re not at all certain, they’re just making it up.

Russian Hackers Target COVID19 Vaccine Research

Russian hackers are targeting organisations trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine, a group of national security services has warned. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the hackers “almost certainly” operated as “part of Russian intelligence services”. It said the group used malware to try and steal information relating to Covid-19 vaccine development. NCSC director of operations Paul Chichester said it was “despicable”. The hackers are part of a group called APT29, also known as “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear”.

Some people will remember the name Cozy Bear from Robert Mueller’s failed $40 million “investigation”. Is that why the NCSC put it in? But to the point: Why would Russia hack the UK for vaccine info if and when the UK has no vaccine? Put it another way: what are the odds that UK “intelligence” is not at the same time trying to hack Russia for its own info? Think British scientists are smarter than Russian ones? How much money would you want to put on that?

Everyone is spying on everyone, always have, and today that may require some hacking skills. Big surprise. You leave your backdoor open, someone may try to have a look inside. Same for everyone. Not even the beginning of a newsworthy story; it happens all the time and everywhere. Next.

Next one is even flimsier. This one implies that since Jeremy Corbyn had some papers on the NHS in the last election, RussiaRussia gave them to him. And he’s an anti-semite too. So there. Can anyone explain why Russia would want to interfere in a UK election?

This seems to allege that Putin wanted to help Corbyn win. But is that for the same reason that he wanted to help Corbyn’s ideological twin Donald Trump win? Which we now know he didn’t? Or is it just that Putin the evil mastermind wants to confuse all parties? Given what I see and hear, he needn’t bother; they’re all already confused as can be.

 

UK Says Russia Sought To Interfere In 2019 Election

Dominic Raab’s statement is the first time ministers have admitted that the Kremlin has tried to distort the workings of British democracy – a practice the foreign secretary said was “completely unacceptable”. “On the basis of extensive analysis, the government has concluded that it is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general election through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked government documents,” Raab said in a written statement.

Next. Only days ago, there was this from Britain about a court case concerning the infamous novichok “attack” in Salisbury, in which first former Russian GRU agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, and months later two other Brits, ostensibly came in contact with what was called the deadliest nerve agent in the world.

Neither Sergei Skripal nor his daughter Yulia have ever been seen again. There was a vague message from a niece, but that was it. But the story is alive and kicking. And can thus continue to be used. By the media-intelligence cartel.

 

Russian Agents May Have Deliberately Left Bottle Of Novichok In Salisbury

Russian agents may have deliberately discarded a bottle of the deadly nerve agent novichok, used in the assassination attempt of former spy Sergei Skripal, in Salisbury in a bid to undermine UK security, the High Court today heard. The claim was made during a legal challenge by the family of Dawn Sturgess, 44, who died in 2018 after coming into contact with novichok in a fake perfume bottle which her partner had found in a park. The family are embroiled in a High Court action in a bid to get ‘key questions’ asked at Ms Sturgess’ inquest.

[..] According to the Guardian, he also referenced then UK prime minister, Theresa May, in September 2018 in which she said: ‘This chemical weapons attack on our soil was part of a wider pattern of Russian behaviour that persistently seeks to undermine our security and that of our allies around the world.’

[..] ‘The use of novichok in Salisbury was the first aggressive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War,’ said Mr Mansfield in a written case summary. ‘It put hundreds of members of the British public at risk and killed Ms Sturgess. ‘The issue of who was responsible for it is a matter of almost unparalleled public concern. ‘There is no realistic prospect that the two suspects will face a criminal trial in the UK or that the Russian state will carry out a comprehensive investigation, and no public inquiry into these events has been established.

This is the pattern: it’s nothing to do with UK security. The pattern is that both the US and UK use their lack of control over Russia as an excuse and reason to blame Russia for anything they feel like. As five-year old kids would. Robert Mueller, the liar and coward, having failed to produce one shred of evidence against Trump, left two things alive in his final report: empty accusations against Assange, who was muzzled, and against “13 Russians”, who he knew would never contest whatever he said.

And when he was challenged because Concord Management decided to show up with a lawyer, he lost that too. The official line was: “It is no longer in the best interests of justice or the country’s national security” to continue. What a bunch of losers.

And we’re not done. Assange smearer no. 1 and hidden intelligence agent Luke Harding, who invented more smear stories about Julian than anyone on the planet, had this three weeks ago. I kid you not, his point was that Russian intelligence is really really stupid. To prove it, he paints a shining portrait of … US/UK intelligence operation Bellingcat.

This is mainly about the Skripal case again, but of course we also remember their role in the never ever existing chemical attack in Syria by Assad on his own people. Yes, the one where they, the OPCW was involved too, planted the canisters and shot some grueling staged photographs.

 

A Chain Of Stupidity’: The Skripal Case And The Decline Of Russia’s Spy Agencies

Bellingcat revealed the identity of poisoner No 1 in a message on its website. Having unmasked one assassin, it seemed likely that Bellingcat would succeed in identifying Petrov, too. Sure enough, in late September I received an invitation to a press conference. It was to be held in an illustrious location: the Houses of Parliament, in an upstairs committee room, number nine. Its subject was Petrov’s real identity. By the time I arrived, the room was full. I spotted a reporter from the New York Times, Ellen Barry, together with leading representatives from the British and US media. It was hard to escape the conclusion that power in journalism was shifting.


It was moving away from established print titles and towards open-source innovators. The new hero of journalism was no longer a grizzled investigator burning shoe leather, à la All the President’s Men, but a pasty-looking kid in front of a MacBook Air. Higgins and Grozev were there, as well as a Conservative MP, Bob Seely. I found a spot on a bench and sat down. The mood was expectant. Seely set the scene. He described Bellingcat as a “truly remarkable group of digital detectives”. Their success was due to an explosion of digital technology and a rise in digital activism, he said.

Here’s Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett about Bellingcat:

Bellingcat & Atlantic Council Join To Award Exploited Syrian Child & American Mass Murderer

Is the Atlantic Council some benevolent organization handing out awards to do-gooding people? No. It’s a Washington DC-based think tank, which promulgates lies and propaganda to further imperialist wars and weapons sales, among other things. One of its Syria “experts” is none other than Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins, who recently took to social media to tell people to suck his “big balls,” making him more of a laughing stock than this backgrounder on the man with no qualifications to his title.


Some of the Atlantic Council’s funders include: the US State Department, oil and weapons manufacturing companies, banks, NATO, various nations’ ministries of defence, and the US Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy. Even just based on funding alone, and ignoring their pro-NATO policy papers, the Atlantic Council clearly exists to further the interests of those involved in weapons manufacturing, wars, and oil.

Of course the entire lying fanfare is a direct result of the west failing to capture Crimea from Russia. They lost that one too; they sure lose a lot when engaging with Russia, don’t they? All they end up with is stories. John McCain and Victoria Nuland thought they had it all in their hands, and then it slipped right through.

And from Maidan and Crimea it’s just a skip and a hop to MH17, plus more -and heavy- Bellingcat involvement. This made the news again a week ago.

 

MH17 Disaster: Dutch Take Russia To European Rights Court

Citizens of 10 different countries died on board the Boeing 777 airliner that was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. More than two-thirds of the victims were Dutch nationals. In March, a trial opened in the Netherlands of three Russian and one Ukrainian citizens – still at large – for the murder of 298 people on board the plane. They are all linked to the pro-Moscow separatists. The trial, in a court near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, is expected to last for months.


In a statement, the Dutch foreign ministry said the government “decided to bring Russia before the European Court of Human Rights for its role in the downing of Flight MH17”. It said that “by taking this course of action the government is offering maximum support” to individual cases already brought against Russia by victims’ families. “Achieving justice for 298 victims of the downing of Flight MH17 is and will remain the government’s highest priority,” said Mr Blok. “By taking this step today… we are moving closer to this goal,” he added.

Now, I have some interest in this, because I was born in Holland and still have the passport. But from what I can see, this is just yet another western intelligence story. I don’t know what happened with MH17, but I’m pretty sure the Dutch government doesn’t know either, or if they do they’re not telling. And my skepticism isn’t even based on pieces like this from Eric Zuesse two weeks ago (but do read it!).

 

Netherlands ‘Justice’ Is Totally Corrupt: MH17 Case as Example

[..] when Ukraine’s Government authorized Holland’s Government to investigate and rule on what caused the MH17 to be shot down, Holland’s Government signed onto a secret agreement with Ukraine’s Government that included a provision allowing Ukraine’s Government to block and prevent any finding from being issued that would implicate Ukraine’s Government in having shot it down. Holland’s Government violates its own Freedom of Information law by refusing to make public what that secret agreement says.


However, at the time when the existence of the agreement slipped through into mention by a Ukrainian news-site on 8 August 2014, that news-report said “As part of the four-party agreement signed on August 8 between Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia [all of which nations are allies of the United States and are cooperating with its new Cold War against Russia], information on the investigation into the disaster Malaysian ‘Boeing-777’ will not be disclosed.”

My skepticism is kind of linked to this, but it’s much older. When the plane was brought down, I noted that then-US VP Joe Biden, as well as the Ukrainian government of newly (US-)installed president Poroshenko, and also Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans, who got a plush job in Brussels out of it, all three declared within hours that Russia “was what did it”.

None could know at the time they made the statement. But it was a few months after the west lost Crimea, and thereby the chance to rid Russia of its only warm water port. And some people didn’t like that one bit. Some people were very unhappy about being outsmarted by Putin. Nuland must have been livid. And Hillary Clinton, and McCain.

Then when the investigation started, something odd happened. 2/3 of all victims -298 in total- were from the Netherlands. Yet the Dutch got to lead the inquest. As I wrote at the time: have you ever seen a crime series, or a murder one, or a movie, where the main victim (afflicted party) gets to lead the investigation into what happened? No, what we always see is someone taking the aggrieved detective aside saying: sorry, you’re too close to this.

And then on top of that, Ukraine, certainly one of the main suspects, since it happened in their territory, got to be part of the investigation. And not just part, as you can see in Zuesse’s piece, they could veto both what would be investigated and what could be communicated about the results. While they could well be the perpetrator!

If you go back to the murder series metaphor, a producer or writer would say: no can do, it lacks all credibility. But they did it. And it was then that I knew no matter what the report would say, it would be literally incredible. It’s 6 years later, and it’s going to take many more years, of posturing, name-calling, threats, accusations, you name it. And nothing will be proven, there will be only claims of proof. Just like in all the other cases I mentioned above. It’s how these things are done.

MH17 has become just another tool in the hands of “intelligence”.

 

 

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Oct 042019
 


Paul Gauguin Breton woman 1886

 

Ignore The Hype — This Is Not An Impeachment Inquiry (McCarthy)
Trump Dares Pelosi To Hold Impeachment Inquiry Vote (ZH)
Joe Biden Sprang Into Action When Ukraine Prosecutor Came After His Son (MoA)
Trump Approval Climbs To Highest Level Of 2019 Amid Impeachment Inquiry (Hill)
Weakening The Dollar Is The Last Hope For The Global Economy – Saxo (CNBC)
Fed Policymakers ‘Open’ To Rate Cut As Risks To Outlook Rise (R.)
America’s Manufacturing Industry Is In Contraction (CNN)
Boris Has Destroyed What Is Left Of UK’s Credibility (Fintan O’Toole)
Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam Invokes Emergency Powers, Bans Face Masks (CNBC)
UK Wildlife Species Dying Out, Many Will Soon Vanish (Ind.)

 

 

“What is portrayed as an “impeachment inquiry” is actually just a made-for-cable-TV political soap opera.”

Pelosi claims she can call a House impeachment inquiry without a House vote, and totally ignore Republican House members while she’s at it. That smells of prorogation.

The courts will have to decide this one. And that may take all the way to the 2020 election. Which the Dems think suits them just fine.

Ignore The Hype — This Is Not An Impeachment Inquiry (McCarthy)

There is no impeachment inquiry. There are no subpoenas. You are not to be faulted if you think a formal inquest is under way and that legal process has been issued. The misimpression is completely understandable if you have been taking in media coverage — in particular, reporting on a haughty Sept. 27 letter from House Democrats, presuming to direct Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on pain of citation for obstruction, to cooperate in their demands to depose State Department officials and review various records. The letter is signed by not one but three committee chairmen. Remember your elementary math, though: Zero is still zero even when multiplied by three. What is portrayed as an “impeachment inquiry” is actually just a made-for-cable-TV political soap opera.

The House of Representatives is not conducting a formal impeachment inquiry. To the contrary, congressional Democrats are conducting the 2020 political campaign. The House has not voted as a body to authorize an impeachment inquiry. What we have are partisan theatrics, proceeding under the ipse dixit of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). It raises the profile, but not the legitimacy, of the same “impeachment inquiry” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) previously tried to abracadabra into being without a committee vote. Moreover, there are no subpoenas. As Secretary Pompeo observed in his fittingly tart response on Tuesday, what the committee chairmen issued was merely a letter.

Its huffing and puffing notwithstanding, the letter is nothing more than an informal request for voluntary cooperation. Legally, it has no compulsive power. If anything, it is rife with legal deficiencies. The Democrats, of course, hope you don’t notice that the House is not conducting a formal impeachment inquiry. They are using the guise of frenetic activity by several standing committees — Intelligence, Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Reform, Financial Services, and Ways and Means — whose normal oversight functions are being gussied up to look like serious impeachment business. But standing committees do have subpoena power, so why not use it? Well, because subpoenas get litigated in court when the people or agencies on the receiving end object. Democrats want to have an impeachment show — um, inquiry — on television; they do not want to defend its bona fides in court.

Read more …

“.. the White House is planning to send Nancy Pelosi a letter as soon as Friday arguing that President Trump and his team can ignore lawmakers’ demands until she holds a full House vote..”

Trump Dares Pelosi To Hold Impeachment Inquiry Vote (ZH)

Why do Republicans want a vote, besides have Democrats – especially those in states won by Trump – be put on the record? Because, as RealClearPolitics explains, holding a formal vote on impeachment would allow Republicans to subpoena documents and witnesses and investigate all the revelations surrounding the whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine, as well the roles of Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukrainian corruption allegations. “Republicans would have the opportunity to get information from all sources and get it on the table,” Cleta Mitchell, a conservative political law attorney, told RealClearPolitics. “The process they are proceeding under through their committee attorney means they are the only ones who have the rights to gather information.”

[..] Which brings us to late on Thursday, when Trump himself figured out that his position would be strengthened by having a formal vote, because according to Axios, the White House is planning to send Nancy Pelosi a letter as soon as Friday arguing that President Trump and his team can ignore lawmakers’ demands until she holds a full House vote formally approving an impeachment inquiry. In addition to the above considerations, Axios notes that by putting in writing the case that Trump and his supporters have been making verbally for days, “the White House is preparing for a court fight and arguing to the public that its resistance to Congress’ requests is justified.”

Trump wants to force House Democrats in vulnerable races to be on the record if they favor pursuing impeachment, these sources tell us. Republicans also say the minority party can exert more influence over hearings and other aspects of an inquiry once it is formalized with a vote. By calling this an inquiry without holding a vote, Pelosi and the Democratic committee chairmen are having it both ways, one official said. “They want to be a little bit pregnant.” A letter could be filed as soon as Friday, because according to Axios sources, several White House lawyers spent a good chunk of their Thursday reviewing the language in the letter, expecting that it could find its way before a judge.

Read more …

The MSM story that Shokin was corrupt seems to be falling apart. Biden’s defense for demanding him gone is that many voices said so. Yeah, the likes of Pyatt and Nuland, the architects of the Maidan coup.

Joe Biden Sprang Into Action When Ukraine Prosecutor Came After His Son (MoA)

After the U.S. sponsored Maidan coup in 2014 then Vice President Joe Biden led the Ukraine policy of the Obama administration. His campaign against prosecutor general Shokin started in September 2015: “[The U.S. ambassador at the time, Geoffrey] Pyatt kicked off the effort with a speech on Sept. 24, 2015 in which he blasted Shokin for “openly and aggressively undermining reform” and having “undermined prosecutors working on legitimate corruption cases.” In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Oct. 8, Nuland declared: “The Prosecutor General’s Office has to be reinvented as an institution that serves the citizens of Ukraine, rather than ripping them off.”


Biden followed up with a visit to Kiev in December. On Dec. 7, he held a news conference with Poroshenko and announced $190 million to “fight corruption in law enforcement and reform the justice sector.” He made no public mention of the loan guarantee, but behind the scenes he had explicitly linked the $1 billion loan guarantee to reform efforts, including removing Shokin, according to Colin Kahl, Biden’s national security adviser at the time. A day after the news conference, he addressed the Ukrainian parliament and decried the “cancer of corruption” in the country. “The Office of the General Prosecutor desperately needs reform,” he noted.

Biden next met on Jan. 20 with Poroshenko on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, when he also pressed “the need to continue to move forward on Ukraine’s anti-corruption agenda,” according to a White House statement.

Read more …

Backdraft.

Trump Approval Climbs To Highest Level Of 2019 Amid Impeachment Inquiry (Hill)

President Trump’s approval ticked up to 49 percent – its highest mark this year, according to a new Hill-HarrisX survey released on Wednesday. The figure marks a 2-point increase from a Sept. 11-12 poll, but a 2-point decrease from its previous peak of 51 percent in August 2018. Trump’s disapproval rating, meanwhile, dropped to 51 percent, which marks his lowest level so far this year. The nationwide survey was conducted on Sept. 28 and 29, less than a week after House Democrats launched a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump over concerns raised in a whistleblower’s complaint about the president’s communications with Ukraine.


House Democrats threatened Wednesday morning to subpoena the White House for documents related to Trump’s dealings with Ukraine as part of their impeachment inquiry. House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a memo that House committees have repeatedly tried to obtain voluntary compliance from Trump officials, but the White House has “refused to engage with – or even respond to – the Committees.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) held a joint news conference later that morning, warning that attempts by the White House to “stonewall” the impeachment inquiry and “conceal facts” would be considered an obstruction of justice.

Read more …

Wait, isn’t that what Trump is after?

Weakening The Dollar Is The Last Hope For The Global Economy – Saxo (CNBC)

Weakening the dollar is the last throw of the dice in rescuing the global economy, according to Saxo Bank’s Steen Jakobsen. In the online trading and investment specialist’s outlook report for the fourth quarter, published Thursday, Jakobsen said 2019 will most likely be remembered as the year that kickstarted a global recession, despite the lowest ever nominal and real interest rates. “Monetary policy has reached the end of a very long road and has proven a failure,” Jakobsen, who is the chief economist and CIO at Saxo Bank, added. The U.S. Federal Reserve in September made a second 25 basis point cut to interest rates, moving to a range of 1.75% to 2%. Its initial 25 basis point reduction in July was the central bank’s first rate cut since the financial crisis.

The European Central Bank (ECB), meanwhile, recently unveiled a package of measures to reinvigorate the euro zone economy, cutting its deposit rate by 10 basis points to -0.5% and launching a massive new quantitative easing (QE) program. A host of other central banks across the world have also embarked on dovish policy shifts. Fears for the global economy have been exacerbated of late by the weakest manufacturing data out of the U.S. for over a decade, which compounded already fragile readings from across the euro zone and beyond. “In a global system of failed monetary policies and a long and difficult path to fiscal policy, there is only one other tool left in the box for the global economy and that is lower the price of global money itself: the U.S. dollar,” Jakobsen said.

The outlook report pointed to an estimated $240 trillion of debt worldwide, roughly 240% of global GDP, and argued that too much of this debt is denominated in dollars, due to the greenback’s role as global reserve currency and the deep liquidity of U.S. capital markets. This means the prospects for all asset classes have become a function of U.S. dollar liquidity and direction, Saxo Bank economists suggested. “If the dollar rises too much, the strain in the system increases: not only for U.S. exports, but also for the emerging market with its high dependence on USD funding and export machines,” Jakobsen said.

Read more …

End the Fed.

Fed Policymakers ‘Open’ To Rate Cut As Risks To Outlook Rise (R.)

Two Fed policymakers on Thursday signaled they are open to delivering another rate cut after a report showed the growth in the vast U.S. services sector is slowing, but the Fed’s No. 2, speaking late in the day, gave little away on his own thinking. The Fed “will act as appropriate to sustain a low unemployment rate and solid growth and stable inflation,” Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida said in New York, repeating a phrase Fed Chair Jerome Powell has used ahead of meetings when the Fed did cut rates, as well as in June, when it didn’t. The U.S. consumer and economy are in a “good place,” and the U.S. labor market is “very healthy,” Clarida said. At the same time, risks include slowing global growth, uncertainty over trade, and persistent low inflation overseas, all of which impact the U.S. economy.


“We have eight meetings a year, we take them one at a time. We are not on a preset course,” he said. Clarida’s circumspect comments came at the end of a day where traders bid up expectations of two more Fed rate cuts this year after the Institute for Supply Management (ISM)’s non-manufacturing activity index dropped to its lowest reading since August 2016. Separate data earlier in the week showed an index of U.S. factory activity contracting to its lowest level in more than a decade. The reports may signal that a slide in exports, business sentiment and business investment is spreading to the consumer, whose spending accounts for the bulk of the $20 trillion U.S. economy.

Read more …

Gee, that’s surprising. Service economy, right?

America’s Manufacturing Industry Is In Contraction (CNN)

America’s manufacturing industry is in contraction. Business spending is soft. And now the biggest chunk of the economy, the US service sector, is growing at its weakest pace in three years. Recession fears were reinforced on Thursday after the Institute for Supply Management said its non-manufacturing index dropped to 52.6 last month, down from 56.4 in August. This barometer of growth among service providers such as banks, restaurants and hotels is now at the lowest level since August 2016. Businesses expressed concern about tariffs, a shortage of workers and the direction of the economy, ISM said.


Although the service sector is still expanding, the gloomy report raises concern that America’s manufacturing troubles are spilling over into the broader economy. Slammed by the trade war, US manufacturing activity dropped deeper into contraction in September, the most sluggish month for factories since June 2009. “The weakness in manufacturing has now infected the services side of the US economy,” Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakely Advisory Group, wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.

Read more …

The EU is talking about unilaterally declaring a Brexit extension.

Boris Has Destroyed What Is Left Of UK’s Credibility (Fintan O’Toole)

When Boris Johnson described his long-awaited proposals for changes to the Brexit withdrawal treaty as a compromise, he was not wrong. Two questions arise, however. What is being compromised? And who is Johnson compromising with? The answer to the second is obvious: the proposals are a compromise, not with the EU, but with the DUP. And what is being compromised is the credibility of the UK as a partner in any international negotiations. Though the EU and the Irish government are too polite to say so directly, Johnson’s plan destroys any remaining sense that the current regime in London is capable of sticking even to its own self-declared principles.

Ever since its victory in the referendum of June 2016, the Brexit project has been dogged by its inability to transcend its own origins. The referendum was always driven by the internal politics of the Conservative Party. Its purpose, from the point of view of the man who called it, David Cameron, was to silence the increasingly turbulent anti-EU faction in his own party and see off the threat of Nigel Farage. And it has never been able to move on from being an internal negotiation to being an external one. The only thing that has really changed is that “internal” Tory politics came, after the 2017 election, to include the DUP.

And so here we are again. Political compromise is about two sides with different agendas meeting each other half way. It is easy to see why Johnson might be sincere in thinking he has achieved this – but only if the two sides are Johnson himself with his need to look like he is coming up with some vaguely credible alternative to the backstop and the DUP with its “blood red line” of Northern Ireland leaving the EU on exactly the same terms as the rest of the UK.

Read more …

A 1922 law, right? Nothing much changed in the territory since then?

Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam Invokes Emergency Powers, Bans Face Masks (CNBC)

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Friday invoked emergency powers and banned face masks, saying the order goes into effect on Saturday, Oct. 5. Consequences for breaking the ban include up to one year in jail and a fine of $25,000 Hong Kong dollars ($3,187). In a press conference, Lam explained that the face mask ban was necessary because “almost all protesters who carry out vandalism and violence covered their face.” “The purpose was to hide their identity and evade the law and they have become more and more daring,” Lam said. She noted, however, that the mask ban contains certain exemptions “to cater for legitimate needs.”


Face masks have become ubiquitous in the city after the 2003 SARS outbreak. The disease killed 298 people in Hong Kong, according to World Health Organization data. Hong Kong’s parliamentary body, the Legislative Council, will discuss the legislation on Oct. 16 when it resumes session, Lam said. The Hong Kong leader said the decision was made after she called a special meeting of the Executive Council, which decided to invoke the Emergency Regulations Ordinance. Lam explained that the government believes the regulation will have a “deterrent effect” against violent behavior and help police officers carry out their duties. Under the 1922 law, the chief executive is allowed to “make any regulations whatsoever which he may consider desirable in the public interest.”

Read more …

Study since 1970. But more of the damage had already been done before that.

UK Wildlife Species Dying Out, Many Will Soon Vanish (Ind.)

The UK’s wildlife is dying out and many species will go extinct if urgent action is not taken, according to the latest State of Nature report, which draws on scientific monitoring since the 1970s. Leading professionals from more than 70 wildlife organisations have joined government agencies to create the comprehensive report, which warns wildlife declines continue “unabated”. Among thousands of mammal and plant species assessed, 15 per cent are threatened with being lost from Britain, including wildcats and greater mouse-eared bats. More than two-fifths of UK species including animals, birds and butterflies have seen significant declines in recent decades, the study found.


Since 1500 around 133 species have already vanished from Britain’s shores, including birds such as the wryneck and serin, which were lost as breeding birds in the 20th century. Dr Daniel Hayhow, lead author on the report and conservation scientist at RSPB, said: “We know more about the UK’s wildlife than any other country on the planet, and what it is telling us should make us sit up and listen. “We need to respond more urgently across the board if we are to put nature back where it belongs.” Data on nearly 700 species of land, freshwater and sea animals, fish, birds, butterflies and moths reveals 41 per cent have seen populations decline since 1970, while 26 per cent have increased.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Jun 202019
 


Caravaggio I musici 1595-96

 

The investigation into the crash of the MH17 Malaysia Airlines plane in East Ukraine was always compromised, right from the start. The crash on July 17 2014 came shortly after the “Euromaidan revolution” in Kiev – which first began in November 2013 and culminated in the ousting of elected president Yanukovich on 23 February 2014, happily helped along by John McCain, Victoria Nuland and then-US ambassador to Ukraine (now ambassador to Greece) Geoffrey Pyatt for the USA, as well as various EU actors.

Russia reacted by “annexing” Crimea – a large majority of whose people had voted for Yanukovich, thereby safeguarding its access to its only warm water port. Not a shot was fired there, but it was very different in East Ukraine (Donbass), where people -of Russian origin- also didn’t want to be subjected to a new regime under Nuland’s puppet Yatsenyuk -and later Poroshenko. They started a civil war which continues to this day.

It was in that heated political climate that the MH17 came down, killing all its 298 passengers, 196 of whom had the Dutch nationality. 3 weeks later, on August 8, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was formed, which was to be led by Holland, and to also include representatives from Australia, Belgium and Ukraine. Which is odd, since at that time, Ukraine certainly was a potential perpetrator of the downing.

Malaysia joined only in December, allegedly because only then did it finally agree to allow Ukraine, a nation that was a suspect, a veto over any conclusions that the team would publish. Malaysia had already been handed the black boxes by pro-Russian rebels in the area, and passed them on to the team in August. Summarized, the way the JIT was formed was highly curious. The countries even signed a secret agreement.

 

Immediately after the crash, people like then-US VP Joe Biden, as well as Frans Timmermans, then-Dutch Foreign Minister and today candidate for the EU top job, pointed the finger at Russia as the party responsible for shooting down the plane. Also curious, since there had been no investigation and the plane crashed in a civil war zone where access was almost impossible. There was talk at the time of the US having satellite images, but none have ever been produced.

In that atmosphere, the JIT yesterday, June 19 2019, held another press conference, in which it accused four men, three from Russia and one from Ukraine, of being “involved” in shooting down the plane. But again, almost 5 years after the incident, the team produced no evidence for its accusations, saying it will only be presented 9 months from now when a trial will start in the Netherlands.

It also again accused Russia of refusing to cooperate, though Russia has offered its help ever since the MH17 came down. It’s just not the help the people want who have accused the Russians since before there was any hint of evidence it was involved. And there still is no evidence. Russia has filed long and detailed reports on the incident despite being ignored, but these reports have been … ignored.

 

The trial will take place starting March 9 2020 without the accused, since Russia doesn’t extradite its citizens, and neither does Ukraine. Moreover, the one Ukrainian who is accused is thought to be in the Donbass, where the government has no access.

So this will be a show trial. And one must wonder why it is staged. What’s the use of a trial where defendants don’t defend themselves? Sure, the official line is they would love to have the men provide a defense, but that smells a bit too much like what has happened to Julian Assange. What are the odds of a fair trial when so many conclusions have been drawn at such early times?

There is not a soul in Europe west of the Russian border who doesn’t believe the Russians did it. The media take care of that. Nor is there in the US. But the Malaysian PM himself yesterday, again, said the team has proven nothing, and only provided hearsay. I kid you not, I read a piece on the BBC today that asked if the 93-year-old who lost 43 of his countrymen only said that because he wanted to sell palm oil to Russia.

And in the meantime, the evidence is not there, and won’t be for another 9 months, if ever, and the EU today added another year to its Russia sanctions over Crimea, and 4 men can deny their involvement all they want, but they can make their case only in March 2020, and only at a show trial, with international search warrants hanging over their heads.

 

The four men in question, by the way, are not accused of firing the BUK missile that supposedly downed the MH17. They are only accused of facilitating the transport of the missile and launcher from Russia to Ukraine -and back. The JIT Ukrainian team bases the entire story of that transport on serial numbers it says it has found.

On September 17 2018, the Russian Ministry of Defense in a YouTube response to a May 24 2018 JIT exhibition, said it had tracked down those serial numbers, 8868720, and 1318869032, and 9M38, and said both the launcher and missile corresponding to the numbers were purchased by Ukraine from Russia as far back as 1986, transferred there, and had never left the country since.

I get that information from a lengthy, deep-digging and highly recommended essay by Eric Zuesse, from December 2018, MH17 Turnabout: Ukraine’s Guilt Now Proven, which I’ve been reading the past few days, in which Eric says: “…if the JIT’s supplied evidence is authentic — which the Ukrainian team asserts it to be — then it outright convicts Ukraine. This is an evidentiary checkmate, against the Ukrainian side.”

Zuesse also details, in that article, contentions from multiple sources that, while the MH17 may have been hit with a BUK missile, it certainly wasn’t the only thing that hit it. There was at least one fighter jet seen close to the plane before it came down, as multiple eye-witness reports claim, and it is alleged that they fired on the cockpit for sure and perhaps other parts of the plane. It is an excellent article that is very well researched and chock-full of links to prove its points.

 

There are many things wrong with the MH17 investigation. Having the PM of one of your member investigative countries complain that after 5 years you produce only hearsay and no evidence may be the least of the worries. The Netherlands, as main victim, leading the investigation, is strange. How neutral could they be? Their Foreign Minister blamed Russia way before any investigating was done. And Holland was a main sponsor in the “Euromaidan revolution”, i.e. the ousting of an elected president.

Still, Ukraine’s position in all this must be the biggest warning sign. They stood a lot to gain from committing atrocities and then blaming Russia for them. Plus, Yatsenyuk and Nuland and the US and the EU were mightily angry that Russia had outsmarted them all over Crimea.

But instead of keeping Ukraine out of the investigation, they became a major contributor, and were even given veto rights on anything that came out of it, as far as we know the only party with such rights. If you present a crime novel or movie with ingredients like that, nobody would believe you. Such things don’t happen in real life.

 

 

 

 

Jan 272017
 
 January 27, 2017  Posted by at 10:11 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Kathimerini Trump and Evolution Jan 25 2017

Theresa May: US and UK Will No Longer Invade Foreign Countries (Ind.)
Donald Trump’s Plan For China Relations Is To Be Unpredictable (G.)
Wave Of US State Department Personnel Resign, Are Fired (ZH)
How America Could Collapse (Nation)
Outrage Dilution (Adams)
How America Lost Its Identity – Megalomania & Small-Mindedness (Spiegel)
Obama Bequeaths A More Dangerous World (Parry)
China’s Shadow Banking Crusade Risks Bond Market Crash (R.)
China’s Army of Global Homebuyers Is Suddenly Short on Cash (BBG)
Lurching Towards the New Paradigm (Art+M)
Greece Creditors Demand Legislation Of Reforms For 2018-19 (Kath.)
Greek Supreme Court Rules Against Extraditing Eight Turkish Soldiers (WSJ)
EU Looks To Camps In Africa To Cut Immigration (R.)
Europe’s Crackdown On African Immigration Is Hitting Vulnerable Refugees (G.)
EU’s Mishandled Millions Not Reaching Refugees (DW)

 

 

If it could only be true. Between this from Theresa May, and the disappearance of Victoria Nuland, not such a bad day. But I find it hard to go through all the ‘serious’ press who report on things like the US spelling Theresa without the ‘h’. Is that worth paying a journalist for? That’s the best you got? Then again, I did like the person on twitter pointing out that Teresa May is the name of a pornstar, and wondering who Trump thought he was going to meet.

Theresa May: US and UK Will No Longer Invade Foreign Countries (Ind.)

Britain and the US will never again invade sovereign foreign countries “in an attempt to make the world in their own image,” Theresa May told Republican policymakers in Philadelphia. The Prime Minister vowed never to repeat the “failed policies of the past” in reference to Western military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, breaking from the “liberal intervention” principle established by Tony Blair. Referencing the “special relationship” between the UK and US, Ms May also stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries to meet their “obligations of leadership” and “stand up for our interests”. “It is in our interests – those of Britain and America together – to stand strong together to defend our values, our interests and the very ideas in which we believe,” she said.

“This cannot mean a return to the failed policies of the past. The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over.” However she called for “strong, smart and hard-headed” actions to stand up for Western principles, adding: “Nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene.” She also pledged support to Mr Trump in the continued fight against the “new enemies of the west and our values”. Ms May said it was a “priority” to push back on “Iran’s aggressive efforts” to increase its “arc of influence from Tehran through to the Mediterranean”. However, she defended the nuclear deal brokered by Barack Obama despite threats from Mr Trump that he would rip up the agreement, saying it had been successful in neutralising a potential threat. [..] “With President Putin, my advice is to engage but beware.”

Read more …

What’s that worth if you announce it, though?

Donald Trump’s Plan For China Relations Is To Be Unpredictable (G.)

Donald Trump’s game plan for relations with China is to use unpredictability as a means of wrong-footing the country’s Communist party leaders and extracting economic concessions, a prominent adviser has said. Since his election, Trump and his team have repeatedly discombobulated the Chinese government with a series of interventions on sensitive issues such as the South China Sea, US relations with Taiwan and China’s alleged manipulation of its currency, the yuan. Those moves have unsettled and angered Beijing, which had expected Trump to tone down his anti-China rhetoric after his victory. In an interview with China’s state-run broadcaster, Michael Pillsbury, a former Pentagon official and longtime China scholar, suggested Trump’s decision to repeatedly tweak Beijing’s nose was part of a calculated strategy.

The US president believed the Chinese were “the best negotiators in the whole world, so to get an advantage he wants to be unpredictable in the eyes of the Chinese government,” Pillsbury told CGTN, an international mouthpiece for the Chinese government that was formerly called CCTV. “I think he has succeeded in this, don’t you?” Pillsbury, a fluent Mandarin speaker who is known for his contacts within China’s People’s Liberation Army and has been advising Trump’s team, said the president had outlined this strategy in his most recent book, Great Again: How To Fix Our Crippled America. In it Trump writes: “The element of surprise wins battles. So I don’t tell the other side what I’m doing, I don’t warn them, and I don’t let them fit me comfortably into a predictable pattern … I like being unpredictable. It keeps them off balance.”

In a chapter on foreign policy, Trump accuses his predecessors of “rolling over” for Beijing and hints it will be one of the main targets of his strategy. “There are people who wish I wouldn’t refer to China as our enemy. But that’s exactly what they are,” Trump writes. China specialists on both sides of the Pacific fear relations between Beijing and Washington could deteriorate rapidly under Trump, increasing the risks of a potentially calamitous great power conflict. However, Pillsbury, who has written a book about a supposed Chinese plot to become the world’s preeminent military, political and economic power by 2049, claimed ties could warm. “I say the road to making America great again runs through Beijing,” he told CGTN, calling for greater Chinese investment in the US.

“It can be win-win. I think it will be win-win,” Pillsbury said, using one of the favourite phrases of Chinese diplomats. Another China scholar who is understood to have offered advice to Trump’s team also said this week that he believed an improved relationship was on the cards. “I don’t quite understand why people seem to be operating under the assumption that the relationship with China was good and now all of a sudden it is going to change to be less good,” Daniel Blumenthal, the director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute told the Guardian.

Read more …

Bit confusing who left of their own accord and who got a pink slip. Been a thorough clean-up. Getting rid of Victoria Nuland is worth just about any price.

Wave Of US State Department Personnel Resign, Are Fired (ZH)

Update: according to a CNN report – so as always take with lots of salt – the story has shifted materially, because according to two senior administration officials, it wasn’t a resignation by the State Department officials, but more of a termination: “the Trump administration told four top State Department management officials that their services were no longer needed as part of an effort to “clean house” at Foggy Bottom.”

Patrick Kennedy, who served for nine years as the undersecretary for management, Assistant Secretaries for Administration and Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Joyce Anne Barr, and Ambassador Gentry Smith, director of the Office for Foreign Missions, were sent letters by the White House that their service was no longer required, the sources told CNN. All four, career officers serving in positions appointed by the President, submitted letters of resignation per tradition at the beginning of a new administration. The letters from the White House said that their resignations were accepted and they were thanked for their service.

The White House usually asks career officials in such positions to stay on for a few months until their successors are confirmed. “Any implication that that these four people quit is wrong,” one senior State Department official said. “These people are loyal to the secretary, the President and to the State Department. There is just not any attempt here to dis the President. People are not quitting and running away in disgust. This is the White House cleaning house.” Mark Toner, the State Department’s acting spokesman, said in a statement that “These positions are political appointments, and require the President to nominate and the Senate to confirm them in these roles. They are not career appointments but of limited term.”

A second official echoed that the move appeared to be an effort by the new administration to “clean house” among the State Department’s top leadership. “The department will not collapse,” the second official said. “Everyone has good deputies. It’s a huge institutional loss, but the department has excellent subordinates and the career people will step up. They will take up the responsibility.” Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s assistant secretary for Europe, was also not asked to stay on. The following org charts breaks out the unfilled appointee positions, in blue, while the red crosses show the resignations.

Read more …

America has killed its resilience and redundancy, its back-up system. All western nations have. Best argument for protectionism: produce your own essentials.

How America Could Collapse (Nation)

A few months ago, a friend in the entertainment industry told me of a new business model in Hollywood: hoarding videotapes. Apparently, the earthquake in Japan knocked offline a Sony factory that makes certain types of tape. That factory was also in the tsunami zone, so now there’s a serious tape shortage threatening the television industry. The NBA scrambled to get enough tape to broadcast the NBA finals; one executive told the Hollywood Reporter, “It’s like a bank run.” In the last few years, economists have spent a lot of time and energy thinking about bank runs. A bank run happens when depositors think a bank is weak and scramble to get their money out before it collapses. “Tight coupling” of financial institutions, like when banks are overly dependent on each other, can create a cascading series of problems for the system itself.

We saw this with Lehman Brothers when it went bankrupt. Its AAA-rated debt instruments lost value unexpectedly; that caused money market funds that held those presumably safe bonds to suddenly lose value. A shadow bank run was the result, as investors rushed to withdraw from the money market funds. Worryingly, there’s been very little consideration of how systemic collapses can happen in another, perhaps more dangerous realm—the industrial supply system that keeps us in everything from medicine to food to cars to, yes, videotape. In 2004, for instance, England closed one single factory, which caused the United States to lose half of its flu vaccine supply. Barry Lynn of the New America Foundation has been studying industrial supply shocks since 1999, when he noticed that global computer chip production was concentrated in Taiwan.

After a severe earthquake in that country, the global computer industry nearly shut down, crashing the stocks of large computer makers. This level of concentration of the production of key components in a globalized economy is a new phenomenon. Lynn’s work points to the highly dangerous side of globalization, the flip side of a hyper-efficient global supply chain. When one link in that chain is broken, there is no fallback. Lynn has continued to study industrial supply shocks and says, “What I have found most interesting recently is the apparent role supply chain shocks played in triggering a synchronized slowdown of industrial economies in April—production down (in USA, China, Europe, Southeast Asia), jobs down, demand down, GDP numbers down—due almost entirely to the loss of a single factory that makes microcontroller chips for cars.”

[..] There’s a good amount of grumbling about the state of American infrastructure—collapsing bridges, high-speed rail, etc. But American infrastructure is not just about public goods, it’s about how the corporations that enforce, inform and organize economic activity are themselves organized. Are they doing productive research? Are they spreading knowledge and know-how to people who will use it responsibly? Are they creating prosperity or extracting wealth using raw power? And most importantly, are they contributing to the robustness of our society, such that we can survive and thrive in the normal course of emergencies? The answer to all of these questions right now is “no.” And while this may not be hitting the elite segments of the economy right now, there will be no escape from a flu pandemic or significant food shortage. The re-engineering of our global supply chain needs to happen—and it will happen, either through good leadership or through collapse.

Read more …

As much as people may dislike Scott Adams, he has a story to tell that many do not understand but should.

Outrage Dilution (Adams)

I’m having a fun time watching President Trump flood the news cycle with so many stories and outrages that no one can keep up. Here’s how the math of persuasion works in this situation: 1 outrage out of 3 headlines in a week: Bad Persuasion. 25 outrages out of 25 headlines in a week: Excellent Persuasion. At the moment there are so many outrages, executive orders, protests, and controversies that none of them can get enough oxygen in our brains. I can’t obsess about problem X because the rest of the alphabet is coming at me at the same time. When you encounter a situation that is working great except for one identifiable problem, you can focus on the problem and try to fix it. But if you have a dozen complaints at the same time, none of them looks special. The whole situation just looks confusing, and you don’t know where to start. So you wait and see what happens.

Humans need contrast in order to make solid decisions that turn into action. Trump removed all of your contrast by providing multiple outrages of similar energy. You’re probably seeing the best persuasion you will ever see from a new president. Instead of dribbling out one headline at a time, so the vultures and critics can focus their fire, Trump has flooded the playing field. You don’t know where to aim your outrage. He’s creating so many opportunities for disagreement that it’s mentally exhausting. Literally. He’s wearing down the critics, replacing their specific complaints with entire encyclopedias of complaints. And when Trump has created a hundred reasons to complain, do you know what impression will be left with the public? He sure got a lot done. Even if you don’t like it. In only a few days, Trump has made us question what-the-hell every other president was doing during their first weeks in office. Were they even trying?

For a fun party trick, ask your most liberal friends if they think the Federal government should have a say in whether a woman gets an abortion or not. When they say the Federal government should stay out of that decision, inform them that President Trump shares their opinion. He doesn’t want the Federal government to be in the business of making health care choices for women. He prefers leaving that decision to the woman, her doctor, and state laws.

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Not bad at all from Der Spiegel.

How America Lost Its Identity – Megalomania & Small-Mindedness (Spiegel)

On a frigid January evening one year ago, I was standing in a line of around 1,000 people in Burlington, Vermont, to see Donald Trump. I reported my very first story on the United States in 1991 and had been living in the country since 2013. I thought I knew the country well. But on that evening in January, I realized that I had been mistaken. Burlington lay under a blanket of snow and next to me in line stood Mary and Tim Loyer, both wrapped in dark-blue parkas. Mary was unemployed and her son Tim had a job at a bar. Both told me they were Bernie Sanders supporters. Tim said he was particularly bothered by the power held by large companies, that the division of wealth was unfair and that people like him no longer had opportunities to improve their lives. It was the anthem of the working class.

When asked what he found attractive about Trump, Tim said: “Bernie and Trump are the only politicians who say what they’re thinking and do what they say,” as his mother Mary nodded along. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, is corrupt, he said. In an election pitting Trump against Clinton, Tim said he would not vote for Clinton. Again, Mary nodded. At the entrance, security personnel patted us down and asked if we were planning on voting for Trump. Only those who said yes were allowed to proceed. When Trump began speaking, a demonstrator stood up and yelled that Trump was a racist. The candidate paused, shook his fist and demanded that security throw the protester out. “Keep his coat. Confiscate his coat,” Trump said from the stage. It was 21 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius) outside.

Trump snarled as his fans jumped to their feet hooting and jeering. One was reminded of a lynch mob. I learned three things on that evening in Burlington: In the fatherland of capitalism, anger with the elite is so vast that even leftists would rather vote for a narcissist billionaire than a veteran of the political establishment. In a country that values freedom of opinion higher than almost any other country in the world, there were now attitude tests prior to admission to political rallies. And many Americans, who are otherwise so polite, lose all restraint when confronted by those who think differently. Everything that I associated with America seemed no longer to apply on that evening in Burlington. What had happened to this once-proud country?

I found answers to this question on a journey through American society – to places like Vermont, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia. Those are just a few of the places I have visited in the last four years – places where those symptoms could be seen that together add up to the huge crisis that has gripped America. This self-confident country that has spent decades exporting its values with imperialist hubris has lost its identity. Democratic capitalism no longer works well enough to keep together a country of 325 million people and to guarantee domestic peace. The United States is not alone in having been struck by this identity crisis: It has also hit the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other countries. But America, where capitalism flourishes to a greater degree than anywhere else, has been hit the hardest of all.

Read more …

Not Robert Parry’s strongest effort, he seems to want to stick to two contradictory stories at the same time: is Obama a closet neocon or is he a coward?

Obama Bequeaths A More Dangerous World (Parry)

[..] perhaps Obama’s most dangerous legacy is the New Cold War with Russia, which began in earnest when Washington’s neocons struck back against Moscow for its cooperation with Obama in getting Syria to surrender its chemical weapons (which short-circuited neocon hopes to bomb the Syrian military) and in persuading Iran to accept tight limits on its nuclear program (another obstacle to a neocon bombing plan). In both cases, the neocons were bent on “regime change,” or at least a destructive bombing operation in line with Israeli and Saudi hostility toward Syria and Iran. But the biggest challenge to these schemes was the positive relationship that had developed between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. So, that relationship had to be shattered and the wedge that the neocons found handy was Ukraine.

By September 2013, Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, had identified Ukraine as “the biggest prize” and a steppingstone toward the ultimate goal of ousting Putin. By late fall 2013 and winter 2014, neocons inside the U.S. government, including Sen. John McCain and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, were actively agitating for a “regime change” in Ukraine, a putsch against elected President Viktor Yanukovych that was carried out on Feb. 22, 2014. This operation on Russia’s border provoked an immediate reaction from the Kremlin, which then supported ethnic-Russian Ukrainians who had voted heavily for Yanukovych and who objected to the coup regime in Kiev. The neocon-dominated U.S. mainstream media, of course, portrayed the Ukrainian conflict as a simple case of “Russian aggression,” and Obama fell in line with this propaganda narrative.

After his relationship with Putin had deteriorated over the ensuring two-plus years, Obama chose to escalate the New Cold War in his final weeks in office by having U.S. intelligence agencies leak unsubstantiated claims that Putin interfered in the U.S. presidential election by hacking and publicizing Democratic emails that helped Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. The CIA also put in play salacious rumors about the Kremlin blackmailing Trump over a supposed video of him cavorting with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. And, according to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. counterintelligence agents investigated communications between retired Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor, and Russian officials. In the New McCarthyism that now surrounds the New Cold War, any conversation with Russians apparently puts an American under suspicion for treason.

The anti-Russian frenzy also pulled in The New York Times, The Washington Post and virtually the entire mainstream media, which now treat any dissent from the official U.S. narratives condemning Moscow as prima facie evidence that you are part of a Russian propaganda apparatus. Even some “progressive” publications have joined this stampede because they so despise Trump that they will tout any accusation to damage his presidency.

Read more …

Scary insane: “..WMPs jumped 42% year-on-year to 26 trillion yuan ($3.8 trillion) at the end of June, doubling in just two years.”

China’s Shadow Banking Crusade Risks Bond Market Crash (R.)

China’s campaign to cut high debt levels in its economy is aiming this year to shrink the $3 trillion shadow banking sector, which could drain a critical source of income for the country’s banks and of funding for its fragile bond market. Shadow banking, a term for financial agents that perform bank-like activity but are not regulated as banks, has boomed in China, the world’s second-largest economy, as a way of circumventing government’s tight controls on lending. It has been a key driver of the breakneck growth in debt in the economy, which UBS says rose to 277% of GDP from 254% in 2016, and is now a target as Beijing tries to reduce that figure before it destabilizes the economy.

But with banks’ shadow banking business accounting for about a fifth of total outstanding loans, analysts fear that the unintended consequences of government efforts could trigger the fate it seeks to avoid. “We see a policy-induced drastic deleveraging in shadow banking as a policy miscalculation that could trigger unexpected tail risks for the banking sector,” said Liao Qiang, credit analyst at S&P Global Ratings. Investors’ concerns stem from new rules this month that put lenders’ wealth management products (WMPs), the biggest component of shadow banking, under the scrutiny of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) for the first time and into its calculations on prudence, capital adequacy and loan growth guidelines.

According to the latest official data, WMPs jumped 42% year-on-year to 26 trillion yuan ($3.8 trillion) at the end of June, doubling in just two years. WMPs are typically kept off banks’ balance sheets, making it difficult for regulators to assess the stability of a banking sector reliant upon them for growth. And just as in the global financial crisis of 2008, banks’ interconnectedness amplifies the risks. Banks are increasingly buying into each other’s WMPs, such that interbank WMPs hit 4 trillion yuan in June, a doubling from two years ago.

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Wonder how this connects to the shadow banks.

China’s Army of Global Homebuyers Is Suddenly Short on Cash (BBG)

China’s escalating crackdown on capital outflows is sending shudders through property markets around the world. In London, Chinese citizens who clamored to purchase flats at the city’s tallest apartment tower three months ago are now struggling to transfer their down payments. In Silicon Valley, Keller Williams Realty says inquiries from China have slumped since the start of the year. And in Sydney, developers are facing “big problems” as Chinese buyers pull back, according to consultancy firm Basis Point. “Everything changed’’ as it became more difficult to send money offshore, said Coco Tan, a broker associate at Keller Williams in Cupertino, California. Less than a month after China announced fresh curbs on overseas payments, anecdotal reports from realtors, homeowners and developers suggest the restrictions are already weighing on the world’s biggest real estate buying spree.

While no one expects Chinese demand to disappear anytime soon, the clampdown is deterring first-time buyers who lack offshore assets and the expertise to skirt tighter capital controls. “If it’s too difficult, I’m out,’’ said Mr. Zheng, 66, a retired civil servant in Shanghai who declined to give his first name to avoid attracting regulatory scrutiny. He may abandon a 2.4 million yuan ($348,903) home purchase in western Melbourne, even after shelling out a 300,000 yuan deposit last August. He’s due to make another big payment next month. The change spooking Zheng and his compatriots came in a statement from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Dec. 31, hours before the reset of Chinese citizens’ annual foreign currency quotas.

Among other requirements, SAFE said all buyers of foreign exchange must now sign a pledge that they won’t use their $50,000 quotas for offshore property investment. Violators will be added to a government watch list, denied access to foreign currency for three years and subjected to money-laundering investigations, SAFE said. “A lot of clients are worried and have started hesitating,’’ said Wang Ning, vice president of the international department at Fang Holdings, China’s most popular property website.

Read more …

A pity this ends in a political rant, the first part is interesting.

Lurching Towards the New Paradigm (Art+M)

The world heaved under the sudden weight of its own nervous system. Lit up and lashed to the planet in only a few decades, we lost our bearings in the paradox of connectivity: minute detail of every moment yet removed from any tangible presence, our animal bandwidth compressed to sound and vision, crowded and alone. We got connected and it’s terrifying. Direct confrontation with The Other. Massive social relativism. A fractal collage of affinity networks and sub genres and Things That Seem Really Different. Nature red in tooth and claw, in full glorious monstrosity. And now it’s like “oh shit you mean we’re responsible for all of this??” The Web is a planetary architecture that compresses and distributes information. There’s only so much bandwidth and the Web is just one modality of acting in the world.

The network compresses physical experience from 5 senses to mostly one. The lo-fidelity of text invites us to project our fears and insecurities on vagaries stripped of all the social cues we use to interrogate communication. No tone of voice, no body language, no skin flush or eye contact or simple touch. We get complete vision at the expense of physical connection. We casually act like monsters when online, say terrible things, things we would never say to someone’s face. We’d see their hurt, feel their anger. Yet, such is the new asymmetry of power that dateless trolls can destroy lives from the safety of their parents’ basement. It turns out social media is pretty sociopathic. But this couch is pretty comfortable and many of us in the developed world enjoy tremendous security, all things being equal.

Our relentless sapien modeling no longer frets about saber toothed beasts rumbling in the brush to devour us, but abstracts those same spirits, those hopes and fears, into the characters and dramatic occurrences that enchant our fickle minds. So we sat on the couch and projected ourselves into the astral theater of television. The Gods we looked to for hope and guidance, for rules and consequences, those gods became priests, then politicians, and then celebrities. The Stars of the Silver Screen. Then we broke open the screen, tore apart the TV and unbundled its business entanglements and made it so we could all walk onto the soundstage and stand beneath those glowing lights, big smile, ready to share ourselves with the masses. On the way to Godhead we are tempted by Stardom.

Read more …

The longer this takes, and there’s no end in sight, the more I’ll be thinking of the Treaty of Versailles. It won’t lead to a new Hitler, but the risk of destabilizing the entire region is very real. Destroying a country is always a bad idea, destroying a member of your own union is much worse. And entirelu unnecessary too.

Greece Creditors Demand Legislation Of Reforms For 2018-19 (Kath.)

Eurozone finance ministers turned the heat up on Athens on Thursday, demanding that it legislates measures now for the period after 2018, when the country’s bailout ends, dashing the government’s hopes of a swift conclusion to the second review of its third bailout. The Eurogroup in Brussels, which the government hoped would pave the way for the return to Athens of the representatives of the country’s quartet of creditors to continue talks, was held just two days after the emphatic refusal by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to enact any further measures now. Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said the demands by the IMF went “well beyond the European framework of democracy.”

“It’s not correct to ask a country in a program to legislate two to three years beforehand what it will do in 2019,” he said after the Eurogroup. Moreover, what is worrisome for the leftist-led government is that Greece appears to have lost the support of the European Commission, which aligned itself with the demands made by the IMF and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble for Athens to legislate measures now for the period after 2018. However, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that completing the review is “in everybody’s interest,” adding that Greece’s creditors remain committed to continuing talks, and that eurozone finance ministers want to expedite procedures that will allow creditor representatives to return to Athens “as quick as possible.” The good news, he said, was that the Greek economy is recovering fiscally, and that state revenues were higher than expected.

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The only possible decision. Time for the EU to stand up for Greece. Yeah, right.

Greek Supreme Court Rules Against Extraditing Eight Turkish Soldiers (WSJ)

Greece’s Supreme Court rejected an extradition request for eight Turkish military officers who fled to Greece after a failed coup, a decision that Turkey warned would hurt the countries’ relations. The court ruled that the servicemen wouldn’t get a fair trial in Turkey and that their extradition could put their lives at risk while exposing them to torture or degrading treatment. The decision is final and cannot be appealed. “We protest this judgment which prevents these individuals who actively participated in the coup attempt which targeted the democratic order in Turkey, killed 248 members of our security forces and civilians, wounded 2193 of our citizens and attempted against the life of our President, to be brought before the independent Turkish judiciary,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a written statement in English.

The Turkish statement accused Greece of sheltering “putschists” and said it that in light of a decision “taken for political motives,” Turkey will evaluate bilateral ties, including cooperation against terrorism. The eight officers, with ranks up to the level of major, flew by helicopter to the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis the day after the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey. The Turkish government requested the rapid extradition of the men, whom it has described as “traitors,” to face charges of trying to overthrow the democratic constitution. The eight men deny the charges. They say they were unaware of the coup attempt until it was under way and fled to Greece to escape violent reprisals against soldiers after the coup failed. Greek intellectuals and activists, including prominent author Apostolos Doxiadis, campaigned forcefully against the men’s extradition in recent weeks, turning the men’s plight into a high-profile political issue.

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Like Trump’s ‘safe places’. In other words, rebuild what you destroyed. Not going to happen. They’ll just throw billions at it and hope it disappears. It won’t. But then they can say they tried the best they could.

EU Looks To Camps In Africa To Cut Immigration (R.)

EU interior ministers will consider plans on Thursday to finance camps in Africa where the UN refugee agency and aid groups would process migrants to prevent them trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. The sea crossing from Libya to Italy, operated by people smugglers, is now the main route for migrants seeking better lives in wealthy Europe, but the EU wants to shut it down and admit only refugees. More than 4,500 people are known to have drowned last year alone trying to make the crossing. The European Union has deployed a naval mission in the Mediterranean and is training the Libyan coastguard to cut the numbers attempting the journey. Now it also wants to return migrants plucked from the sea to where they came from. “The idea is to send them to a safe place, without bringing them into Europe,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters as he arrived for the talks in the Maltese capital Valletta.

“The people taken up by the smugglers need to be saved and brought to a safe place, but then from this safe place outside Europe we would bring into Europe only those who require protection,” he said. The camps in Libya or its neighbors would be run by the UN refugee agency UNHCR or the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which would screen the migrants and help return those not eligible for asylum to their home countries. Most of those taking the Libya-Italy route are regarded as economic migrants with no chance of winning asylum in the EU. Since the influx of more than a million people in 2015, many of them fleeing the Syrian conflict, the EU has tightened border controls, making it increasingly hard for migrants and asylum seekers alike to enter the 28-nation bloc.

It is also offering money and assistance to countries along the migration routes in the hope that fewer people will seek to leave their homes or will be stopped on the way before they embark for Europe. The idea of financing camps in Africa enjoys wide political backing in the EU, but poses legal and security challenges. Libya sank into chaos following the 2011 overthrow of veteran ruler Muammar Gaddafi, and the new UN-backed government in Tripoli exercises no control over its territory. Such lawlessness means returning people to Libya would likely violate international law, which prohibits sending people back to a place where their lives could be in danger. That is why the EU needs the UNHCR and IOM to create sites there that could be deemed as meeting international humanitarian standards. It is an effort to replicate parts of existing agreements the EU has with Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, which host several million Syrian refugees in camps on their soil.

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“The German magazine Der Spiegel revealed a warning from the European commission that “under no circumstances” should the public learn what was said during talks held in March last year.”

Europe’s Crackdown On African Immigration Is Hitting Vulnerable Refugees (G.)

Documents cited in the Guardian on Monday showing that the UK government downplayed the risk of human rights abuses in Eritrea in an attempt to reduce asylum-seeker numbers are the latest indication of Britain’s determination to reduce African immigration. But this is a Europe-wide initiative, co-ordinated in Brussels. With French, German, Dutch and Italian elections later this year, there is intense pressure across the European Union to cut the flows of refugees and migrants across the Mediterranean. European plans to deal with the question have been veiled in secrecy, since they involve close cooperation with some of Africa’s most notorious dictatorships.

The German magazine Der Spiegel revealed a warning from the European commission that “under no circumstances” should the public learn what was said during talks held in March last year. A member of staff working for Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative for foreign affairs, warned of the risk to Europe’s reputation. Plans are being formulated under arrangements agreed between the EU and African leaders in Malta in November 2015. These called for close cooperation between European security services and those of African states. Among those around the table at Valletta were representatives of repressive regimes in Sudan (whose president, Omar al-Bashir, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes) and Eritrea, which has been accused of crimes against humanity.

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Everybody accuses the other. Meanwhile, it’s going to be very cold again in Greece this weekend.

EU’s Mishandled Millions Not Reaching Refugees (DW)

On January 18, Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos. The reason for his visit was simple, if disheartening: a wave of bitterly cold weather had blanketed much of Greece in snow, and with it the country’s refugee camps. In the world’s richest continent, images emerged of refugees – many of them children, elderly or disabled -battling sub-zero temperatures with little more protection than tents and blankets. A few days earlier Ioannis Mouzalas, the country’s Minister for Migration, had stated, “No refugee or migrant is in the cold.” Avramopoulos called on authorities and NGOs to do more. Pointedly he noted that Greece was the single biggest recipient of EU Home Affairs funding, with €1 billion ($1.1 billion) made available over two years in financial support.

So where has the money gone? And why has the country proven unable to provide rudimentary living conditions for many of the roughly 50,000 refugees? The fact is that the €1 billion figure touted by Avramopoulos conflates a number of funds many of which have not yet been spent. Nevertheless the funds that have already been awarded to the government or NGOs remain substantial. Since the start of 2015, the Greek government, according to data from the European Commission and the Greek Ministry of Development, has absorbed 179 million euros of emergency funds from the Directorate General of Home Affairs (DG HOME). This is in addition to €60 million from the €509 million of long-term funding allocated to Greece for the period 2014-2020.

Meanwhile the UNHCR, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have received €175 million from DG HOME’s emergency funds. An additional €186 million of emergency funding has also been contracted to a number of major NGO’s for humanitarian assistance in Greece from the Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) for projects starting in 2016. An additional €500 million has been earmarked for this fund until 2018.

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