Dec 222020
 
 December 22, 2020  Posted by at 10:10 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Banks of the Seine with Pont de Clichy in the Spring 1887

 

Lockdowns Do Not Control the Coronavirus (AIER)
Yuletide Visitations (Kunstler)
Chris Krebs Takes Blame For Massive Hack: ‘It Happened On My Watch’ (NYP)
Krebs’ CISA Was Flagged Repeatedly For Poor Performance (JTN)
Dominion Voting Website Scrubbed Of Reference To SolarWinds (JTN)
House Passes 5593 Page Stimulus Bill Without Anyone Having Read It (ZH)
Pelosi Calls $600 COVID19 Payments To Americans ‘Significant’ (JTN)
A Slap in the Face: Anger at Pelosi, Democrats Over $600 Stimulus Check (MPN)
COVID19 Relief Bill Doubles Health Care Budget – For Congress (IC)
Barack Obama Has Nothing to Say About Central America (Goodfriend)
A Pandemic of ‘Russian Hacking’ (McGovern/Lauria)
If Assange’s Fate Were Up To a Jury, He, Too, Might Have Walked Free (Glass)

 

 

 

 

Tulsi
https://twitter.com/i/status/1341027010353750016

 

 

A very long list of research. We can’t afford not to ask questions.

Lockdowns Do Not Control the Coronavirus (AIER)

The use of universal lockdowns in the event of the appearance of a new pathogen has no precedent. It has been a science experiment in real time, with most of the human population used as lab rats. The costs are legion. The question is whether lockdowns worked to control the virus in a way that is scientifically verifiable. Based on the following studies, the answer is no and for a variety of reasons: bad data, no correlations, no causal demonstration, anomalous exceptions, and so on. There is no relationship between lockdowns (or whatever else people want to call them to mask their true nature) and virus control.

Perhaps this is a shocking revelation, given that universal social and economic controls are becoming the new orthodoxy. In a saner world, the burden of proof really should belong to the lockdowners, since it is they who overthrew 100 years of public-health wisdom and replaced it with an untested, top-down imposition on freedom and human rights. They never accepted that burden. They took it as axiomatic that a virus could be intimidated and frightened by credentials, edicts, speeches, and masked gendarmes. The pro-lockdown evidence is shockingly thin, and based largely on comparing real-world outcomes against dire computer-generated forecasts derived from empirically untested models, and then merely positing that stringencies and “nonpharmaceutical interventions” account for the difference between the fictionalized vs. the real outcome.

The anti-lockdown studies, on the other hand, are evidence-based, robust, and thorough, grappling with the data we have (with all its flaws) and looking at the results in light of controls on the population. Much of the following list has been put together by data engineer Ivor Cummins, who has waged a year-long educational effort to upend intellectual support for lockdowns. AIER has added its own and the summaries. The upshot is that the virus is going to do as viruses do, same as always in the history of infectious disease. We have extremely limited control over them, and that which we do have is bound up with time and place. Fear, panic, and coercion are not ideal strategies for managing viruses. Intelligence and medical therapeutics fare much better.

Read more …

“She acts like someone who knows something, and knows that the something she knows is not altogether a good something. Notice the giggling has ceased.”

Yuletide Visitations (Kunstler)

It says something, does it not, that the corporeal Joe Biden is missing-in-action? You’d think he’d be bustling around like crazy out there, trying to, at least, give some impression of being at-large-and-in-charge, preparing to launch a score of battles against the enemies of peace and prosperity lately afflicting this sore-beset nation, yo-yo-ing back and forth between Jake Tapper and Rachel Maddow to reassure their cringing viewers of Wokedom come, wolfing down plates of field peas, ham hocks, and cornbread to display his allyship with the downtrodden masses of this-and-that color, gender, flavor, and texture, comforting the homeless on the pitiless streets of the ailing cities, volunteering to get stuck with vaccine needles of every pharma company on the S & P, with side orders of hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin, and famotidine, huddling with the nabobs of Wall Street to halt the sinking dollar, visiting the troops with plane-loads of turkey dinners — you know… rallying the worried people of this anxious land in their time of trouble….

And what of Kamala Harris? Did she steal off to some Caribbean beach to mull over her options? It appears that she’s still holds that seat in the US Senate, let’s face it, a very cushy sinecure that “fixes” its exalted members for life, and in more ways than one, if you know what I mean. Of all the thoughts racing through Ms. Harris’s skull these dark days, I suspect the dimmest of them concerns the actual possibility she may actually end up as president. She acts like someone who knows something, and knows that the something she knows is not altogether a good something. Notice the giggling has ceased.

And so, we pass through a weekend of predictable news that Congress has authorized another gazillion dollars to bail out stock markets and banks, under the guise of helping ordinary Americans hopelessly crushed by lockdowns and government-induced small business failures, and we hurtle toward what’s likely to be the bluest Christmas in memory with the republic in the balance. The president… that would be Mr. Trump… is portrayed in the nervous mainstream news media as flailing wildly around the West Wing, confabbing with Krakens, battling with his “closest advisors,” all importuning him to concede the election. D’ya think so? Maybe, but I’m not so sure.

Read more …

Not long ago, Krebs said the 2020 elections were the safest and most secure in history. Where are the questions to him?

Chris Krebs Takes Blame For Massive Hack: ‘It Happened On My Watch’ (NYP)

The former head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security accepted the blame for the hack that infiltrated the computer systems of a number of federal agencies, including the Pentagon, and scores of companies in the private sector. In a Sunday interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Chris Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, was asked by host Jake Tapper who was at fault for the breach. “So, the way I look at it is, yes, it happened on my watch at CISA. And we missed it. A bunch of other folks missed it,” he responded. Krebs, who was fired by President Trump last month for contradicting him over whether there was fraud during the 2020 election, said he didn’t become aware of the hack that was launched in March until it became public last week.


“This came out in the public after I was terminated,” he said. But Trump has not blamed Krebs for the attack. During the interview, Krebs said he trusts the “intelligence community” that Russia was behind the hack, a stand contrary to the president, who has claimed it was China. “Everything I have heard, whether it’s from private-sector cybersecurity threat intelligence experts, things I have heard out of Congress and the intelligence community, it’s Russia,” Krebs said. “I mean, they’re exceptionally good at this, particularly the foreign intelligence service, the SVR. They’re good. They’re quiet. They’re deliberate. They’re patient and they’re careful,” he continued.

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If anything, Trump fired him far too late.

Krebs’ CISA Was Flagged Repeatedly For Poor Performance (JTN)

In the weeks just before President Trump fired its leader, the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was repeatedly flagged by the Homeland Security Department’s watchdog for poor performance, including inadequate physical security planning for election sites, poor intelligence sharing with its private and public partners and weak information security for its own systems, internal reports show. The repeated Inspector General’s warnings in September and October about CISA — under then-Director Chris Krebs’ leadership — provide a stark contrast to Democrats’ and the news media’s portrayal of Krebs as a skilled leader whose firing jeopardized national security.


The internal memos, reviewed by Just the News, also provide some fodder to understand how the U.S. government could have failed to detect for nine months one of the largest cyberattacks in history, which was finally revealed earlier this month. CISA is primarily responsible for quarterbacking cybersecurity at civilian federal agencies. “Risks to the Nation’s systems and networks continue to increase as security threats evolve and become more sophisticated. As such, the cyber threat information DHS provides to Federal agencies and private sector entities must be actionable to help better manage this growing threat,” the inspector general warned in one report earlier this fall. “Until CISA improves the quality of its information sharing, AIS participants remain restricted in their ability to safeguard their systems and the data they process from attack, loss, or compromise.”

Read more …

A special counsel seems called for. Sidney Powell has reportedly visited the White House almost every day lately.

Dominion Voting Website Scrubbed Of Reference To SolarWinds (JTN)

Dominion Voting Systems recently scrubbed a reference on its web site to a company at the center of a major cybersecurity breach allegedly carried out by Russian hackers. The Austin, Texas-based software company SolarWinds has been the subject of explosive controversy, due to revelations that a hacker or group of hackers, possibly originating from Russia, used vulnerabilities in its software to breach “U.S. government agencies, critical infrastructure entities, and private sector organizations” starting in at least March 2020, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said Thursday.

The breach occurred in part via SolarWinds’s Orion platform, which CISA described as “an enterprise network management software suite that includes performance and application monitoring and network configuration management along with several different types of analyzing tools.” SolarWinds said on its website that the hack “could potentially allow an attacker to compromise the server on which the Orion products run.” The company “currently believes the actual number of customers that may have had an installation of the Orion products that contained this vulnerability to be fewer than 18,000,” SolarWinds said in SEC filings on Monday.

Multiple government agencies including the Treasury, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security may have been affected by the breach, according to reports. Dominion Voting Systems, the company that for the last six weeks has been at the center of controversy and allegations surrounding the 2020 election, had a reference on its Web site until sometime last week indicating it used SolarWinds to manage its DVS file share system, according to archival web captures. Dominion’s Web site suggested it utilized SolarWinds’s Serv-U FTP file transfer platform to manage that system. Yet some time between Dec. 14 and Dec. 18, the company scrubbed the reference to SolarWinds from the current FTP login page.

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When will we all realize that this is all Washington is capable of anymore? That it has nothing to do with which party you vote for?

House Passes 5593 Page Stimulus Bill Without Anyone Having Read It (ZH)

In the immortal words of Nancy Pelosi: “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.” Because, as Utah Senator Mike Lee so rambunctiously pointed out tonight, the bill is so huge that Lee said it will take three hours just to print out. And they’ll still have to vote on the bill tonight. It’s unreal. Lee noted that “this is by far the longest bill I’ve ever seen,” and added that members won’t be allowed to amend the bill in any way: “Here’s the really sad thing: we’re being told that there will be no opportunity to amend or improve it. As a result, nearly every member of Congress – House and Senate, Democrat or Republican – will have been excluded from the process of developing this bill, which will cost American taxpayers trillions of dollars.


“This process, by which members of Congress are asked to defer blindly to legislation negotiated entirely in secret by four of their colleagues, must come to an end. It won’t come to an end until no longer works for those empowered by it. That can happen, but only when most members of both houses and both political parties stop voting for bills they haven’t read—and, by design, cannot read until after it’s too late.”

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They come up with these things together, and then blame each other for the failures.

“Pelosi, it’s worth noting, is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with a net worth estimated at more than $100 million (she makes $223,000 a year in salary)”

Pelosi Calls $600 COVID19 Payments To Americans ‘Significant’ (JTN)

A $900 billion compromise bill heading toward passage on Capitol Hill includes a $600 check for Americans struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic, an amount that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls “significant.” Under the last stimulus bill passed by Congress in March, more than 150 million Americans received $1,200 payments as the government returned nearly $270 billion to Americans. In a short statement on the House floor on Monday, Pelosi took the opportunity to bash President Trump as she discussed the new relief checks. “I would like them bigger, but they are significant, and they will be going out soon,” Pelosi said.


“The president may insist on having his name on the check. But make no mistake, those checks are from the American people. The American people’s name should be on that check, no individual.” Pelosi, it’s worth noting, is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with a net worth estimated at more than $100 million (she makes $223,000 a year in salary). And for the record, when Trump signed into law tax cuts that prompted numerous businesses to give $1,000-$2,5000 bonuses to millions of workers, Pelosi called that amount “crumbs.”

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“Congress just decided you get $600. Add that to the $1,200 from March, and it totals $6.69 a day since the country shut down in March. Both parties don’t care if we live or die or sleep in a box on a sidewalk in January..”

A Slap in the Face: Anger at Pelosi, Democrats Over $600 Stimulus Check (MPN)

Lawmakers in Washington agreed to a new $900 billion coronavirus stimulus package yesterday. The bill, like the previous CARES Act, appears to include huge new tax breaks for corporations and the very wealthy. However, of most note to average Americans is the means-tested check of up to $600 plus $600 per child that Republicans and Democrats decided on. Although far less than the $1,200 checks mailed out to Americans in the spring, Democratic lawmakers are presenting the deal as a triumph. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York described it as “a strong, strong shot in the arm to get things going.” Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi agreed, although she blamed the GOP for holding the agreement up. “What took so long is because we could not get our Republican colleagues to crush the virus…Why would they not want to invest in the science?” she said at a press conference on Sunday.

The bill also includes a $300 boost to federal unemployment benefits (half of what it was six months ago) and a pause on evictions for an unspecified length of time. Despite senior Democrats’ spin, it appeared that the primary public reaction to the deal was one of anger, judging by comments on social media. “Congress just decided you get $600. Add that to the $1,200 from March, and it totals $6.69 a day since the country shut down in March. Both parties don’t care if we live or die or sleep in a box on a sidewalk in January,” said Professor Anthony Zenkus of the Columbia School of Social Work. “This country sucks,” and “Congress is laughing at the $600. They don’t give a shit about you,” were also popular refrains. Others described the $600 as “a slap in the face” rather than a shot in the arm.

David Sirota, a former speechwriter and senior advisor to Senator Bernie Sanders, described the bill as a “victory for an austerity ideology that somehow still reigns supreme in Washington,” and “not even the bare minimum that should be considered acceptable during an economic meltdown that has been punctuated by mass starvation and intensifying poverty.” There was also considerable anger aimed at Speaker Pelosi herself. “You are corrupt and despicable,” wrote Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah, “You denied people relief before the election as a political ploy and you still lost seats. Now you give people who are losing jobs and homes $600. The ice cream in your freezer is worth more than that!”

Read more …

Pork for Christmas.

COVID19 Relief Bill Doubles Health Care Budget – For Congress (IC)

In a flurry of last-minute legislating over coronavirus relief, congressional leaders abandoned hazard pay for essential workers and emergency funding for local governments that may be on the brink of municipal bankruptcy. But lawmakers did find funding to dramatically increase the budget for the exclusive government-run health clinic that serves Congress. The Office of Attending Physician, which provides medical services to lawmakers, received a special boost of $5 million, more than doubling its annual budget, which is currently around $4.27 million. The increase in funding to the OAP, if passed, is the third budget hike Congress has provided to its own health clinic over the last year. The 2019 omnibus provided an increase in funding to the OAP, along with the CARES Act, which passed this past March.

The OAP, described as “some of the country’s best and most efficient government-run health care,” employs several physicians and nurses to provide on-call treatment to legislators on Capitol Hill. The new funding is justified by new services required for confronting the pandemic, though the office also provides lawmakers with the services of a chiropractor, on-site physical therapy, radiology, routine examinations, and a pharmacist. The office, led by Dr. Brian Monahan, has been in the news in recent days for administering the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer to congressional leaders. The office has treated lawmakers who have been infected by the virus and provided guidance for reopening Congress after the initial surge of infections earlier this year.

The significant increase in funding for congressional health services comes as some provisions for working-class Americans were sharply curtailed or eliminated entirely. Earlier versions of the second round of stimulus legislation included $200 billion to pay front-line essential workers an additional $13 per hour. The special funding would have provided a special boost to nurses and other front-line medical workers. That provision did not make it to the final bill released on Monday. The proposed $1,200 stimulus checks were also reduced to $600. The coronavirus relief legislation also contains dozens of provisions that benefit business owners and investors, including tax benefits for owners of racehorses, the full expansion of the “three-martini lunch” tax deduction for business meals, and the so-called double dip tax deduction for recipients of Paycheck Protection Program stimulus money to use tax-free grants from the federal government to reduce taxable income.

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“..an extraordinarily self-indulgent exercise that oscillates between false modesty, petty recrimination, sputtering justification, and auto-hagiography.”

Barack Obama Has Nothing to Say About Central America (Goodfriend)

Barack Obama’s seven-hundred-page memoir — nine hundred including photos and notes — is an extraordinarily self-indulgent exercise that oscillates between false modesty, petty recrimination, sputtering justification, and auto-hagiography. Many have noted how Obama takes the opportunity to rewrite history, asserting new explanations for controversial actions. But the book is also notable for its omissions. Despite the painful absence of an editor’s hand to curb the president’s excesses, significant events, even entire regions, have been deleted from Obama’s account of his rise to power and first term in office.

In 1981, Reagan’s UN Ambassador called Central America “the most important place in the world for the United States.” The site of US bloody counterrevolutionary interventions during the Cold War, a laboratory of neoliberal restructuring in the 1990s and 2000s, and the source of increasingly criminalized and stigmatized mass migration to the United States, Central America and Central Americans have occupied an outsized role in US policy and political discourse over the last fifty years. Yet Central America is among the casualties of Obama’s book, assigned to oblivion together with other unsavory notables like Hugo Chávez or Bernie Sanders.

On June 1, 2009, Obama’s secretary of state Hillary Clinton traveled to El Salvador to attend the inauguration of President Mauricio Funes, a progressive journalist who made history as the first leftist president ever to govern the country, elected on the ticket of the party of the former Marxist-Leninist insurgency that fought the US-backed military dictatorship to a draw in 1992. Just weeks later, Clinton’s State Department rushed to legitimize a military coup against Manuel Zelaya, the democratically-elected, increasingly left-leaning president of Honduras next door. The coup shocked the hemisphere and was the first brazen attack in a cascade of reaction against the progressive and left governments that had been elected throughout Latin America over the course of the previous decade.

In her 2014 memoir, Clinton dedicated two pages to the affair, writing that in the coup’s aftermath, “We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot and give the Honduran people a chance to choose their own future.” That line, together with the entire account of the coup, was quietly eliminated from the paperback edition. Obama learned Clinton’s lesson and then some. Honduras receives no mention in his book, save a single reference with respect to Tim Kaine’s mission work. Indeed, Central America as a whole is mentioned precisely once, in a passing comment on migration. Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Belize do not appear at all.

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Bipartisan: failed stimulus and Russiagate.

A Pandemic of ‘Russian Hacking’ (McGovern/Lauria)

The hyperbolic, evidence-free media reports on the “fresh outbreak” of the Russian-hacking disease seems an obvious attempt by intelligence to handcuff President-elect Joe Biden into a strong anti-Russian posture as he prepares to enter the White House. Biden might well need to be inoculated against the Russophobe fever. There are obvious Biden intentions worrying the intelligence agencies, such as renewing the Iran nuclear deal and restarting talks on strategic arms limitation with Russia. Both carry the inherent “risk” of thawing the new Cold War. Instead, New Cold Warriors are bent on preventing any such rapprochement with strong support from the intelligence community’s mouthpiece media. U.S. hardliners are clearly still on the rise.

Interestingly, this latest hack story came out a day before the Electoral College formally elected Biden, and after the intelligence community, despite numerous previous warnings, said nothing about Russia interfering in the election. One wonders whether that would have been the assessment had Trump won. Instead Russia decided to hack the U.S. government. Except there is (typically) no hard evidence pinning it on Moscow. The official story is Russia hacked into U.S. “government networks, including in the Treasury and Commerce Departments,” as David Sanger of The New York Times reported. But plenty of things are uncertain. First, Sanger wrote last Sunday that “hackers have had free rein for much of the year, though it is not clear how many email and other systems they chose to enter.”

The motive of the hack is uncertain, as well what damage may have been done. “The motive for the attack on the agency and the Treasury Department remains elusive, two people familiar with the matter said,” Sanger reported. “One government official said it was too soon to tell how damaging the attacks were and how much material was lost.” On Friday, five days after the story first broke, in an article misleadingly headlined, “Suspected Russian hack is much worse than first feared,” NBC News admitted: “At this stage, it’s not clear what the hackers have done beyond accessing top-secret government networks and monitoring data.” Who conducted the hack is also not certain.

NBC reported that the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency “has not said who it thinks is the ‘advanced persistent threat actor’ behind the ‘significant and ongoing’ campaign, but many experts are pointing to Russia.” At first Sanger was certain in his piece that Russia was behind the attack. He refers to FireEye, “a computer security firm that first raised the alarm about the Russian campaign after its own systems were pierced.” But later in the same piece, Sanger loses his certainty: “If the Russia connection is confirmed,” he writes. In the absence of firm evidence that damage has been done, this may well be an intrusion into other governments’ networks routinely carried out by intelligence agencies around the world, including, if not chiefly, by the United States. It is what spies do.

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A delightful angle.

If Assange’s Fate Were Up To a Jury, He, Too, Might Have Walked Free (Glass)

When the magistrate presiding last September at Julian Assange’s extradition hearing, Vanessa Baraitser, confined the defendant to a bullet-proof glass cage at the back of the court, she had precedent on her side. All who entered her courtroom at London’s Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, had to pass a plaque memorializing a case against another defender of free speech and thought. The finely wrought marble plaque reads:

Near this Site
William Penn and William Mead
were tried in 1670
for preaching to an unlawful assembly
in Grace Church Street
This tablet Commemorates
The courage and endurance of the Jury, Thos. Vere, Edward Bushell
and ten others who refused to give a verdict
against them and were fined for their final
Verdict of Not Guilty…

William Penn, then a 26-year old Quaker firebrand, stood accused of preaching doctrines anathema to the established Church of England during an unlawful assembly. When the judges asked how he pleaded, Penn demanded to know which law he had broken. Sir John Howell, the recorder of London, told him he was charged under common law. Penn asked, “Where is that common law?” The exchange continued:

HOWELl: You must not think that I am able to run up so many years, and over so many adjudged cases, which we call common law, to answer your curiosity.

PENN: This answer, I am sure, is very short of my question, for if it is common, it should not be so very hard to produce.

HOWELL: The question is, whether you are guilty of the indictment.

PENN: The question is not, whether I am guilty of this indictment, but whether this Indictment is legal.

The recorder called him “an impertinent fellow” and banished him to the bale-dock for the rest of the trial. Like Assange’s glass box, the bale-dock was a locked cubicle separated from the rest of the court. Its underfloor location prevented Penn from witnessing the proceedings—and the jurors from seeing him.

Just as Assange admitted publishing American government documents that exposed war crimes, Penn did not deny preaching to his fellow Quakers. If ever a jury deserved the accolade “12 good men and true,” Penn’s did. Foreman Edward Bushell and the other 11 jurors retired to consider their verdict. When they returned, they declared Penn not guilty. The furious Recorder ordered that “you shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco…. We will have a verdict by the help of God or you will starve for it.” For two days, they starved. When they still refused to recant, the court fined them 40 marks, a large sum for the time, and sent them to prison. The jurors appealed, the chief justice ordered their release, and the principle of jury independence was enshrined in English law. Penn went free and 12 years later established the colony of Pennsylvania on the principles of religious tolerance and free thought.

Cut to New York, 1735. Another free thinker, printer John Peter Zenger, was tried for seditious libel over allegations leveled in the New York Weekly Journal at Royal Governor William Cosby. Cosby, in common with the US Justice Department’s vendetta against Assange, sought to prosecute Zenger at any cost. He had copies of the Journal burned. Although two grand juries refused to indict Zenger, Cosby threw him into prison anyway and brought him to trial. Zenger was fortunate in his choice of lawyer, Pennsylvanian Andrew Hamilton. Hamilton’s strategy was to present evidence of Cosby’s corruption—proving that Zenger had published the truth. The prosecutor answered that “being true is an aggravation of the crime.” As in the Assange case, truth appeared not to be a defense so much as evidence of guilt. Hamilton appealed to the jurors rather than the bench. As former US senator Charles Goodell wrote in his 1973 Political Prisoners in America, “Hamilton asked the twelve to do what the judges refused to do, and what they ruled the jury had no right to do, to consider Cosby’s record as a justification for Zenger’s crime.” The Bushell-Penn precedent gave the jury the right to overrule the judges, and they did. Zenger’s newspaper resumed its vilification of Cosby, who died in disgrace two years later.

Read more …

 

 

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– G.K. Chesterton

 

 

Xylophone plays Bach in a forest.

 

 

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Nov 232020
 


Egon Schiele Port of Trieste 1907

 

 

Don’t miss the update on our support for the Monastiraki social kitchen in Athens.. And please consider donating to our efforts for this Christmas season.

 

 

 

US, Germany, UK Could Start COVID Vaccinations As Early As December (G.)
AstraZeneca’s COVID19 Vaccine Shows Average Efficiency Of 70% (RT)
Most Coronavirus Cases Are Spread By People Without Symptoms – CDC (CNN)
WHO Envoy Predicts Third Wave Of COVID19 In Europe Next Year (RT)
Portuguese Court: PCR Tests “Unreliable” & Quarantines “Unlawful” (OffG)
Rudy Giuliani: Sidney Powell Not Part Of Trump Legal Team (JTN)
Michael Flynn Jr. on Trump Team’s Sidney Powell Statement (GP)
Nunes Claims Obama Is Joe Biden’s ‘Overlord’, Calls For Special Counsel (DM)
Taxpayers Face $435 Billion in Student-Loan Losses Already Baked In (WS)
China Daily Paid US Newspapers Millions To Publish Propaganda This Year (DC)
The US Has Withdrawn From The Treaty On Open Skies (JTN)

 

 

Save a puppy

 

 

But will it all take a whole year?

US, Germany, UK Could Start COVID Vaccinations As Early As December (G.)

As G20 leaders pledged to ensure the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests so that poorer countries are not left out, the US, UK and Germany each announced plans to begin vaccinations in their countries in December, while Spain said it would start administering the vaccine to its citizens in January. Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine as early as this week, even before the US authorises it, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported on Sunday. Pfizer and BioNTech could secure emergency US and European authorisation for their Covid-19 vaccine next month after final trial results showed a 95% success rate and no serious side effects. Moderna last week released preliminary data for its vaccine showing 94.5% effectiveness.


The better-than-expected results from the two vaccines, both developed with new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, have raised hopes of an easing of a pandemic that has killed more than 1.3 million people. In the US, the head of the US vaccine program, Moncef Slaoui, said the first Americans to receive a vaccine could get it as soon as 11 December, CNN reported on Sunday. “Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I expect maybe on day two after approval on the 11th or the 12th of December,” he said in an interview to CNN. Citing government sources, the Telegraph also said the UK’s National Health Service had been told to be ready to administer it by 1 December. Britain formally asked its medical regulator, the MHRA, last week to assess the suitability of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Read more …

That’s not very high. How about the Russian vaccine?

AstraZeneca’s COVID19 Vaccine Shows Average Efficiency Of 70% (RT)

The coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and drug maker AstraZeneca has shown an average efficiency of 70 percent, depending on dosage, the partners said as they announced clinical trial results. The developers revealed the preliminary results on Monday, following trials conducted in the UK and Brazil. Depending on the dosage, the vaccine showed varying efficiency of up to 90 percent, while the Pfizer vaccine is 95 percent effective and Russia’s Sputnik V is 92 percent effective. “One dosing regimen showed vaccine efficacy of 90 percent when AZD1222 was given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart, and another dosing regimen showed 62 percent efficacy when given as two full doses at least one month apart,” the AstraZeneca developers said in a statement, adding, “analysis from both dosing regimens resulted in an average efficacy of 70 percent.”


AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot said the vaccine’s “efficacy and safety” showed it will be highly effective against the coronavirus and it will have an “immediate impact” on the Covid-19 crisis. The announcement was welcomed by UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock who said the preliminary trial results were “fantastic news.” “These figures … shows that the vaccine in the right dosage can be up to 90 percent effective,” he told Sky News. “We’ve got 100 million doses on order and should all that go well, the bulk of the rollout will be in the new year.”

Read more …

Confusion over droplets vs arerosols.

Most COVID transmission by people without symptoms
– Ppl w/o symptoms don’t cough and sneeze much
– When talking, aerosols dominate over droplets by x100-2000
– Surfaces transmit inefficiently (per CDC)

Most Coronavirus Cases Are Spread By People Without Symptoms – CDC (CNN)

Most coronavirus infections are spread by people who have no symptoms, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in newly updated guidance. It’s one of the main reasons mask use is so important, the CDC said. “Most SARS-CoV-2 infections are spread by people without symptoms,” the agency said in a section of its website devoted to explaining the science of how to use masks to control the spread of the virus. “CDC and others estimate that more than 50% of all infections are transmitted from people who are not exhibiting symptoms,” it added in the guidance posted Friday. “This means at least half of new infections come from people likely unaware they are infectious to others.”


According to the CDC, 24% of people who transmit the virus to others never develop symptoms and another 35% were pre-symptomatic. It also said 41% infected others while experiencing symptoms. Peak infectiousness comes five days after infection, the agency said on the website. “With these assumptions, 59% of infections would be transmitted when no symptoms are present but could range (from) 51%-70% if the fraction of asymptomatic infections were 24%-30% and peak infectiousness ranged 4-6 days.” It cited a study published in July in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and as-yet unpublished CDC data. Previously, the health organization has not characterized what percentage of infections are spread by symptomless people. “Infection is spread primarily through exposure to respiratory droplets exhaled by infected people when they breathe, talk, cough, sneeze, or sing,” the agency added.

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WHO still not in favor of lockdowns. But that falls on deaf ears.

WHO Envoy Predicts Third Wave Of COVID19 In Europe Next Year (RT)

With Europe already suffering a second wave of coronavirus infections, World Health Organization envoy David Nabarro has warned that the region could see another spike in infections next year In an interview on Saturday with Swiss newspaper Solothurner Zeitung, Nabarro said that European governments failed to build up the “necessary infrastructure” to keep the virus under control after the first wave of infections this spring. Now we have the second wave. If they don’t build the necessary infrastructure, we’ll have a third wave early next year. Infections are once again surging throughout Europe, after a lull this summer.


France and Germany recorded some 33,000 new cases combined on Saturday, while the UK reported nearly 20,000 cases on the same day, and Spain announced more than 15,000 on Friday. Deaths remain proportionally lower throughout Europe than during the first wave, however. Despite Nabarro’s stark prediction, the WHO has cautioned against responding too heavy-handedly to the pandemic. In a briefing on Thursday, the organization’s European director, Hans Kluge, called for “systematic and general mask-wearing” and “strict controls on social gatherings,” but described national lockdowns as a “last resort” policy.

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“The reddit Covid19 board actually removed the post, because it was “not a reliable source”, despite relying on the official court documents.”

Portuguese Court: PCR Tests “Unreliable” & Quarantines “Unlawful” (OffG)

An appeals court in Portugal has ruled that the PCR process is not a reliable test for Sars-Cov-2, and therefore any enforced quarantine based on those test results is unlawful. Further, the ruling suggested that any forced quarantine applied to healthy people could be a violation of their fundamental right to liberty. Most importantly, the judges ruled that a single positive PCR test cannot be used as an effective diagnosis of infection. The specifics of the case concern four tourists entering the country from Germany – all of whom are anonymous in the transcript of the case – who were quarantined by the regional health authority. Of the four, only one had tested positive for the virus, whilst the other three were deemed simply of “high infection risk” based on proximity to the positive individual.

All four had, in the previous 72 hours, tested negative for the virus before departing from Germany. In their ruling, judges Margarida Ramos de Almeida and Ana Paramés referred to several scientific studies. Most notably this study by Jaafar et al., which found that – when running PCR tests with 35 cycles or more – the accuracy dropped to 3%, meaning up to 97% of positive results could be false positives. The ruling goes on to conclude that, based on the science they read, any PCR test using over 25 cycles is totally unreliable. Governments and private labs have been very tight-lipped about the exact number of cycles they run when PCR testing, but it is known to sometimes be as high as 45. Even fearmonger-in-chief Anthony Fauci has publicly stated anything over 35 is totally unusable.

[..] The media reaction to this case has been entirely predictable – they have not mentioned it. At all. Anywhere. Ever. The ruling was published on November 11th, and has been referenced by many alt-news sites since…but the mainstream outlets are maintaining a complete blackout on it. The reddit Covid19 board actually removed the post, because it was “not a reliable source”, despite relying on the official court documents.

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Looks a bit sloppy.

Rudy Giuliani: Sidney Powell Not Part Of Trump Legal Team (JTN)

Rudy Giuliani, the lead attorney for President Trump’s election challenges, and Trump Campaign Senior Legal Adviser Jenna Ellis said Sunday that high-profile attorney Sidney Powell does not work for the president personally or for his campaign. “Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own,” the statement from Giuliani and Ellis said. “She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity.” Powell on Thursday spoke during a press conference where Giuliani and Ellis also spoke. “I look forward to Mayor Giuliani spearheading the legal effort to defend OUR RIGHT to FREE and FAIR ELECTIONS!” President Trump tweeted on November 14. “Rudy Giuliani, Joseph diGenova, Victoria Toensing, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis, a truly great team, added to our other wonderful lawyers and representatives!”

Powell, who has alleged that massive corruption occurred during the 2020 election, said during an interview on Newsmax that a “biblical” filing is forthcoming regarding the state of Georgia. “Georgia is extremely bad,” Powell said. “We’ve got ballots being shredded, ballots being thrown out in trash bags…the votes being switched, the algorithms being run: You name the manner of fraud and it occurred in Georgia,” she said. While media outlets have projected Joe Biden to be the winner of the 2020 presidential contest, President Trump has not conceded and has made allegations of election fraud.

The Peach State is “probably gonna be the first state I’m gonna blow up,” Powell said, remarking that “Mr. Kemp and the secretary of state need to go with it because they’re in on the Dominon scam with their last minute purchase or award of a contract to Dominon of $100 million dollars. The state bureau of investigation for Georgia oughta be looking into the financial benefits received by Mr. Kemp and the secretary of state’s family about that time.”

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She was suspended by Twitter too.

Michael Flynn Jr. on Trump Team’s Sidney Powell Statement (GP)

As we suspected, the news this evening about Sidney Powell not being on the Trump team is an act to protect Sidney and the Trump team and not a message of disappointment in her latest interviews and actions at all. The Trump campaign issued a statement Sunday night announcing Sidney Powell is not a member of President Trump’s legal team. The statement was posted online by campaign attorney Jenna Ellis on behalf of lead campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani. Powell had appeared at a campaign legal team press conference earlier this week alongside Giuliani and Ellis. Statement:

Attorney Sidney Powell was not able to respond tonight. Sidney was censored and suspended by Twitter earlier today. Mike Flynn, Jr. released a statement tonight.

Sidney released a statement to CBS News. She signed off — #KrakenOnSteroids

General Michael Flynn’s son, Mike Jr., followed up with a message tonight on Parler noting that the earlier message from the President’s team is not a reflection of any misstatements on Sidney’s part:

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‘President Obama is the only president that I know that only moved about a mile from the White House – set up shop, has all his people there..’

Nunes Claims Obama Is Joe Biden’s ‘Overlord’, Calls For Special Counsel (DM)

Rep. Devin Nunes has claimed former President Barack Obama is President-elect Joe Biden’s ‘overlord’ and called for a special counsel to take over the investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. Nunes, a California Republican and staunch ally of President Donald Trump, appeared on Fox News Channel’s Sunday Morning Futures in an interview with host Maria Bartiromo. ‘President Obama is the only president that I know that only moved about a mile from the White House – set up shop, has all his people there,’ Nunes said, referring to the Obama family’s rented mansion in Washington DC. ‘Most of his people were promoting Kamala Harris to run before she bombed out, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars, and then they propped up Joe Biden,’ Nunes claimed.

Later in the interview, Nunes referred to Obama as Biden’s ‘overlord.’ Nunes also called on Attorney General Bill Barr to appoint a special counsel to take over U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into potential malfeasance in the Russian collusion investigation. ‘Now we’re sitting waiting for Durham to complete this investigation. I think people are getting not only very frustrated but also, there’s a growing concern that Durham is not going to come out with anything and then Biden and Obama are going to be back in, and they’re going to shut this investigation off,’ Nunes said. Durham was appointed by Barr more than a year and a half ago to investigate any misconduct by the FBI and others others related to the inquiry into links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

So far, Durham’s investigation has secured one guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer, who admitted to doctoring a document used to obtain surveillance warrants on a Trump campaign aide. Trump has raged that the Russian collusion probe, which cast a shadow over much of his presidency, was a ‘failed coup,’ and expressed fury that Durham did not issue more indictments prior to the November election. Nunes said that he feared Biden’s administration would shut down the Durham probe before it could be concluded. ‘I’ve been very clear about this,’ the congressman said. ‘Every day that ticks by, it’s going to become an absolute necessity that a special counsel is appointed on the way out.’

‘Now that doesn’t mean that Biden wouldn’t fire the special counsel, but at least you’d have a special counsel office set up, with money, so that this investigation can continue, because I’m not seeing the indictments that I should be seeing when you take into the account that I’ve made 14 criminal referrals involving dozens and dozens of people,’ he continued.

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“Most of the losses would come from the already established income-based repayment programs and the debt forgiveness at the end of their term.”

Taxpayers Face $435 Billion in Student-Loan Losses Already Baked In (WS)

In 2009, the US government entered the business of reckless, no-matter-what lending to students, even to older students with subprime credit ratings and to students at iffy for-profit colleges with dubious degree programs. And then tuition soared, and student housing went upscale and became a global asset class with its own commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) that are now experiencing record delinquency rates. And Apple and textbook publishers and everyone began feeding at the big trough, with students just being the conduit for this money. Student-loan balances on the government’s financial statement skyrocketed from $147 billion in 2009 to $1.37 trillion at the beginning of 2020, despite the 11% decline in student enrollment since 2011.


Taxpayers face a loss of $435 billion on the $1.37 trillion in student loans on the government’s financial statement at the beginning of this year, even if no additional loans are issued going forward, according to an internal study by the Department of Education, reported by the Wall Street Journal which reviewed the documents. Most of the losses would come from the already established income-based repayment programs and the debt forgiveness at the end of their term. The expected loss of $435 billion is far larger than the rosy estimates released previously, including the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate in May 2019 of a loss of $31 billion, including administrative costs. The student loan balances in the chart above do not include student loans carried by private lenders that are guaranteed by the US government and that will produce additional losses for taxpayers.

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Is this legal?

China Daily Paid US Newspapers Millions To Publish Propaganda This Year (DC)

An English-language newspaper controlled by the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda department paid U.S. media companies nearly $2 million for printing and advertising expenses over the past six months, even amid heightened scrutiny over Beijing’s disinformation efforts in the West. China Daily paid The Wall Street Journal more than $85,000 and the Los Angeles Times $340,000 for advertising campaigns between May and October 2020, according to a disclosure that the propaganda mill filed this week with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). China Daily also paid Foreign Policy magazine $100,000, The Financial Times, a U.K.-based newspaper, $223,710, and $132,046 to the Canadian outlet Globe & Mail for advertising campaigns, according to the filing.


The Beijing-based outlet paid several newspaper companies a total of $1,154,666 for printing costs, including $110,000 to the Los Angeles Times, $92,000 to The Houston Chronicle and $76,000 to The Boston Globe. Overall, China Daily spent more than $4.4 million on printing, distribution, advertising and administration expenses over the past six months, according to the FARA filing. China Daily, which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party’s State Council Information Office, its propaganda agency, has for years paid newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and other Western countries to publish advertorials designed to look like legitimate news articles. China Daily paid The Washington Post more than $4.6 million from late 2016 through October 2019, according to a FARA disclosure China Daily filed in June. The Journal received $6 million for advertorials from 2016 through April 2020, according to the disclosure.

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RussiaRussia.

The US Has Withdrawn From The Treaty On Open Skies (JTN)

The U.S. departed the Treaty on Open Skies on Sunday, following an announcement earlier this year that the nation planned to withdraw from the treaty. “On May 22, 2020, the United States exercised its right pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article XV of the Treaty on Open Skies by providing notice to the Treaty Depositaries and to all States Parties of its decision to withdraw from the Treaty, effective six months from the notification date,” a press statement from the State Department’s Cale Brown notes. “Six months having elapsed, the U.S. withdrawal took effect on November 22, 2020, and the United States is no longer a State Party to the Treaty on Open Skies.”


In a statement earlier this year, Secretary of State Mike Pompo accused Russia of violating the treaty. “While the United States along with our Allies and partners that are States Parties to the Treaty have lived up to our commitments and obligations under the Treaty, Russia has flagrantly and continuously violated the Treaty in various ways for years,” Pompeo said. “This is not a story exclusive to just the Treaty on Open Skies, unfortunately, for Russia has been a serial violator of many of its arms control obligations and commitments.”

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Nov 182020
 


Paul Klee Analysis of Various Perversities 1922

 

The Coronavirus Is Killing Westerners. Immigrants Are Saving Them. (Legrain)
PA Gov Announces New COVID rules, Including Wearing A Mask In Your House (Fox)
US Approves First Rapid Home COVID19 Test (Y!)
Chemicals Found In Everyday Products Could Hinder COVID Vaccine (G.)
US Govt Study Highlights COVID-19 Risk From Bars And Restaurants (MedE)
Why Trump Will Likely Win a Second Term (Phoenix)
Trump Fires Agency Head Who Vouched For 2020 Vote Security (AP)
Wayne County Fails To Certify Election Results, Then Reverses Course (JTN)
Biden’s First Climate Appointment Is A Fossil Fuel Industry Ally (DP)
1% Of People Cause Half Of Global Aviation Emissions (G.)
Obama: The Internet Is “The Single Biggest Threat To Our Democracy” (AP)

 

 

With regards to the top issues of COVID and the US elections, there’s definitively a Groundhog Day feeling about the news.

About the elections, let the process play out and land where it may, provided it’s done legally. The haste to declare Biden President-elect, by people who have no voice in the decision, feels eery. When it comes with warnings that “more people may die” if Trump doesn’t concede yesterday, it feels dishonest.

About COVID, as I said somewhere below: After 10 months, we can’t keep treating COVID as the only problem in town. That’s myopic. We need a bigger picture.

 

 

Sidney Powell Outlines Affidavit Showing Purpose of SmartMatic Voting System to Control Elections

 

 

 

 

Katie Porter New Proof On Why I Am CERTAIN Trump Will Win

 

 

And Big Pharma makes all the money.

The Coronavirus Is Killing Westerners. Immigrants Are Saving Them. (Legrain)

Early results suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer is more than 90 percent effective. If it also proves safe and regulators approve it soon, it could save many lives, allow people to resume a normal life, and give struggling economies a shot in the arm. It is hard to think of any other invention that could provide such a huge immediate boost—and the world has Turkish immigrants to Germany to thank for it. Ugur Sahin, the co-founder and chief executive of BioNTech, a German biotech start-up, arrived in Germany as a child. He is the son of an auto worker who came to Germany as part of its postwar guest worker program. BioNTech’s chief medical officer, Ozlem Tureci, who is Sahin’s wife, is the daughter of a Turkish doctor who also moved to Germany. Both went on to become scientists.

Their start-up, which had previously focused on developing innovative cancer treatments, is now set to be the first to use the novel messenger RNA technology to develop a vaccine. Moreover, Moderna, the U.S. biotech company whose vaccine also looks promising, was co-founded by a group that includes two immigrants—Canadian biologist Derrick Rossi and Lebanese-born scientist and investor Noubar Afeyan—and its CEO is French. The achievements of Sahin and Tureci—which were celebrated even by outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump, who rarely has anything good to say about immigrants, let alone Muslim ones—have exposed the fallacy of anti-immigrant discourse in Europe and North America.

While many anti-immigration figures do look more favorably on highly skilled migrants than other foreigners, Sahin could hardly have been selected by the skills-based immigration policies that many governments in rich countries increasingly favor. Indeed, if he hadn’t moved to Germany as a child, the world might never have realized what it had missed out on. For all Sahin’s individual brilliance, he is unlikely to have achieved as much had he not moved to Germany, benefited from an excellent scientific education, and seized the greater research and business opportunities available there.

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Panic. Because “the science” has failed to paint a convincing and consistent picture. The science contradicts itself time and again. Just look at all the different measures various governments are taking. Lockdown is just an easy way out of failure.

After 10 months, we can’t keep treating COVID as the only problem in town.

PA Gov Announces New COVID rules, Including Wearing A Mask In Your House (Fox)

Pennsylvania is planning to take additional steps to address a sharp increase in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations, including requiring masks to be worn indoors with limited exceptions, officials said Tuesday.In addition, starting Friday, anyone who enters Pennsylvania must be tested at least 72 hours before arrival, and if they can or do not get a test, they must quarantine for 14 days. The order does not apply to people who commute to neighboring states for work or health care, officials said, and will be largely self-enforced.Pennsylvania already has a statewide mask mandate, limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and occupancy restrictions at bars and restaurants.

But the new rules go even further. Masks are required outside where it isn’t possible to maintain at least a six-foot distance from others, according to the order, and inside where people from multiple households are gathering, even if they can maintain a social distance. Like the rest of the nation, Pennsylvania has seen coronavirus infections explode in recent weeks. The state is reporting more than 5,000 new infections per day, up more than 115% in just two weeks, and hospitalizations and the percentage of tests coming back positive are up sharply. Deaths are on the rise, as well.Governors and mayors around the country have been tightening restrictions in response to the worsening pandemic.

On Monday, Philadelphia said it would ban indoor gatherings and indoor dining and shutter casinos, gyms, museums and libraries. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf imposed a state-at-home order and shuttered businesses deemed “non-life-sustaining” early in the pandemic. In September though, a judge ruled Wolf’s pandemic restrictions unconstitutional.

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The rapid test takes an awfully long time to be accepted.

US Approves First Rapid Home COVID19 Test (Y!)

The US issued an emergency use authorization for the first self-administered rapid coronavirus test Tuesday, as more parts of the country increase restrictions in an attempt to halt a Covid-19 surge. The Food and Drug Administration approved a testing kit for people age 14 and older whom a doctor suspects to have Covid-19. The test, which is by prescription only, delivers results in 30 minutes. “We continue to demonstrate unprecedented speed in response to #COVID19,” tweeted FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn. “FDA authorized the first #COVID19 test that’s fully self-administered & provides results at home. It’s an important advancement, underscoring our commitment to expanding test access.” The authorization is for an at-home nasal sample kit developed by Lucira Health. Users collect a sample with the included nasal swab, then put the sample in a small vial.


The vial is inserted into a small device that tests the sample. A light-up display on the device shows a user’s result in 30 minutes or less. The test is designed to be affordable and is intended to cost less than $50, according to the Lucira Health website. The FDA had previously approved at-home Covid-19 tests, giving the green light in late April and early May to two nasal sample collection kits and one saliva sample collection kit. But samples from those kits had to be sent to a lab for processing, instead of delivering results at home. While the Lucira test provides results on the spot, it still isn’t the kind of cheap and rapid antigen test that some researchers have called to use for large-scale population screening.

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We are weak and poisoned cretaures.

Chemicals Found In Everyday Products Could Hinder COVID Vaccine (G.)

The successful uptake of any vaccine for Covid-19, a crucial step in returning a sense of normalcy after a year ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, could be hindered by widespread contamination from a range of chemicals used in everyday products. Small amounts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (or PFAS) chemicals are commonly found in the bodies of people in the US, as well as several other countries. These man-made chemicals, used in everything from non-stick pans to waterproof clothes to pizza boxes, have been linked to an elevated risk of liver damage, decreased fertility and even cancer. But scientists warn some of these chemicals can also cause another little-known but potentially significant defect by reducing the effectiveness of certain administered vaccines.

This impediment could cast a shadow over efforts to roll out a Covid-19 vaccine to enough people that restrictions on day-to-day life are eased. “At this stage we don’t know if it will impact a corona vaccination, but it’s a risk,” said Philippe Grandjean, an adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health. “We would have to cross our fingers and hope for the best.” Research led by Grandjean has found that children exposed to PFAS had significantly reduced antibody concentrations after given tetanus and diphtheria vaccinations. A follow-up study of adult healthcare workers found similar results. Meanwhile, a certain type of PFAS, called perfluorobutyrate (or PFBA), accumulates in the lungs and can heighten the severity of illness suffered by people who are infected with Covid-19, separate research by Grandjean, yet to be peer-reviewed, has suggested.

German company BioNTech and the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer provoked a surge of optimism over an impending Covid vaccine after announcing a contender was 90% effective in preventing people from falling ill with the disease. The scientist behind the vaccine has predicted it will “bash the virus over the head” and help lift the pandemic that has crippled much of the world since the beginning of the year. The Pfizer vaccine is based on messenger RNA genetic material and it’s uncertain if PFAS contamination would disrupt its efficacy in patients. But there are several other vaccine contenders that are formulated around the protein spikes of the virus, similar to vaccines for tetanus and diphtheria, and they may well also have poor results in people who have ingested PFAS.

“People with high exposure to PFAS have a non-protective and very low antibody levels after four vaccinations for diphtheria and tetanus,” Grandjean said. “So if a vaccine for Covid is similar, the PFAS will likely inhibit the response from a vaccine. But it is an unknown at this stage.”

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Reminds me of something I quoted recently. But something definitively does not add up.

Howard Beckett tweeted on Sunday about the UK: “Governments own stats have 4% of cases arising from hospitality, 20% from the workplace and a whopping 36% from education. So we shut bars & restaurants and keep schools & universities open.”

US Govt Study Highlights COVID-19 Risk From Bars And Restaurants (MedE)

A new study by US health authorities published Thursday provided more data showing that, when it comes to catching COVID-19, visiting bars and restaurants is far more dangerous than going shopping, working from an office or using public transport. It was already suspected that this was the case, but few studies have sought to rigorously establish a hierarchy of risk in public activities. The new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) isn’t perfect: it can’t confirm definitively where people in the cases it studied were infected. CDC officials approached people who had gone for a test at 11 American hospitals in July and asked them to fill out a detailed questionnaire. Overall, about 300 participated, half of whom tested positive and the other half negative.


Participants were asked questions about possible community exposure over the previous 14 days, in settings including public transport, at private gatherings, offices, churches, salons, bars and restaurants. They realized that the participants who tested positive and those who tested negative reported similar mask-wearing behavior and similar levels of exposure in all the settings except bars and restaurants. “Adults with positive SARS-CoV-2 test results were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative SARS-CoV-2 test results,” it found. The risk was even higher for bars when the analysis was restricted to participants who hadn’t reported exposure to a person with a known case of COVID-19. The analysis will need further validation, particularly since it did not distinguish between indoor and outdoor drinking and dining settings.

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The courts.

Why Trump Will Likely Win a Second Term (Phoenix)

The media wants you to believe the election is over. By law, it isn’t. Unless a candidate concedes, the election remains in play until December 14th when states cast their electoral college votes. So, unless President Trump concedes between now and then, Joe Biden hasn’t won anything, no matter what the media tells you. Indeed, the media has no say in this, anymore than they can decide what color the sky is; they’re simply trying to get you angry so you’ll continue to watch their awful shows so they can sell your eyeballs to advertisers. With that in mind, we need to take a step back and assess how this election is likely to play out based on the LAW, not public opinion or media propaganda. Based on the law, it is highly possible and in fact probable that Donald Trump will end up winning the 2020 Presidential election.

Why? Because the election is now in the courts. And the courts have a clear precedent for how contested elections play out. When the courts get involved in an election, it becomes an issue of evidence. Specifically, what a given court decides is compelling versus non-compelling evidence, and how the court chooses to address the issue of voter fraud if indeed there is compelling evidence. For instance, if President Trump’s legal team goes to court and says, “we want to have a vote audit in Michigan because there was voter fraud” the first thing the court will ask them is, “what evidence do you have to support this claim?” If the President Trump’s legal team’s answer is “we saw some numbers that looked suspicious,” the court controls its urge to laugh, throws out the case, and that’s that.

However, if the President’s legal team responds, “we have sworn affidavits from 50 witnesses, video evidence, as well as three whistleblowers” then it’s a completely different story. Once evidence of fraud is introduced to the courts via a lawsuit, the court, NOT the voters and certainly NOT the media, is in charge of the election. The courts can demand a vote audit of every single vote counted in an election. If, during the vote audit, actual fraud is discovered, the court can rule that those votes are no longer valid, the formal vote counts can change, and it is possible that a given state ends up declaring a different winner. Even if fraud is not discovered by the audits, but there is a particular problem with vote cards (the wrong type of ink was used, the hole punch didn’t go all the way through the ballot as was the case in Florida in 2000, etc.), the courts can deem those problematic votes as illegitimate.

This again can mean the formal vote counts can change, and it is possible that a given state ends up declaring a different winner. This process is now underway in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona. Any one of those states could see Biden end up losing (remember, he only won these states by 0.5% for most of them). That means that if Biden loses even 10,000 votes due to fraud or some technicality (the ballots arrived after the deadline), Trump could be declared the winner. Again, I am NOT saying I want this to happen. I am simply outlining how this process works. If a court says “jump” you jump, no matter who you are.

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However this may be, it’s a weirdstatement to say these were the most secure elections ever.

Routing votes through Spain

Trump Fires Agency Head Who Vouched For 2020 Vote Security (AP)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired the nation’s top election security official, a widely respected member of his administration who had dared to refute the president’s unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud and vouch for the integrity of the vote. While abrupt, the dismissal of Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, was not a surprise. Since his loss, Trump has been ridding his administration of officials seen as insufficiently loyal and has been denouncing the conduct of an election that led to an embarrassing defeat to Democrat Joe Biden. That made Krebs a prime target.

He had used the imprimatur of Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security, where his agency was based, to issue a stream of statements and tweets over the past week attesting to the proper conduct of the election and denouncing the falsehoods spread by the president and his supporters — without mentioning Trump by name. Krebs stood by those assertions after his ouster. “Honored to serve. We did it right,” he said in a brief statement on Twitter. “Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow.” He closed with the phrase “Protect 2020,” which had been his agency’s slogan ahead of the election.

The firing of Krebs, a Trump appointee, came the week after the dismissal of Defense Secretary Mark Esper, part of a broader shakeup that put Trump loyalists in senior Pentagon positions. A former Microsoft executive, Krebs ran the agency, known as CISA, from its creation in the wake of Russian interference with the 2016 election through the November election. He won bipartisan praise as CISA coordinated federal state and local efforts to defend electoral systems from foreign or domestic interference. Hours before being dismissed, Krebs tweeted out a report citing 59 election security experts saying there is no credible evidence of computer fraud in the 2020 election outcome.

Jim Jordan

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Tweet: “The total number of ballots cast in Wayne County was about 863,000. Without Wayne County, Biden’s lead in Michigan would flip to a 177,000 Trump lead. So yes, certifying Wayne County is a big deal. The State of Michigan will now be tasked with attempting certification.”

Wayne County Fails To Certify Election Results, Then Reverses Course (JTN)

The elections board in Wayne County, Michigan’s largest metropolis and home to the city of Detroit, initially refused Tuesday night to certify the results of its Nov. 3 election before an angry outcry led two Republican members to compromise and approve results showing Joe Biden won. The initial vote and then sudden reversal injected new drama into the legal fight waged by President Trump’s campaign in several battleground states. The Wayne County Board of Canvassers originally deadlocked 2-2, with both Republican members refusing to certify the results after discrepancies were discovered in absentee ballot poll books in a majority of Detroit’s precincts. Similar problems were discovered in the county’s summer primary and the November 2016 election but did not impact the board’s vote then.

But during a tense public comment meeting that followed, angry residents raised issues of race, suggesting majority black voters in Detroit were being disenfranchised. From the sidelines, Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib joined the protest, suggesting the GOP opposition to certification amounted to racism. “The Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers put politics above their duty to our residents,” Tlaib tweeted. “Suggesting that all of Wayne County can be certified, EXCEPT for Detroit, is horrifying racist and a subversion of our democracy. The two GOP board members then agreed to a compromise of certifying the results provided the count send a demand that Michigan’s Secretary of State conduct a “comprehensive audit” of “unexplained precincts.”

Under Michigan law, a county that fails to canvass within 14 days after the election must yield its documentation to the Secretary of State’s office and Board of State Canvassers to determine if the results should be accepted. The dramatic deadlock came just a week after a city of Detroit elections worker named Jessy Jacob submitted an affidavit saying she personally witnessed and was instructed by supervisors herself to back date absentee ballots the day after the election to make votes look like they had arrived on or before Nov. 3. Jacob testified she believed thousands of ballots had been altered.

Dooxed and threatened

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You made your bed.

Biden’s First Climate Appointment Is A Fossil Fuel Industry Ally (DP)

Following a campaign promising bold climate action, president-elect Joe Biden’s transition team named one of the Democratic Party’s top recipients of fossil fuel industry money to a high-profile White House position focusing in part on climate issues. On Tuesday, Politico reported that Biden is appointing U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., to lead the White House Office of Public Engagement, where he is “expected to serve as a liaison with the business community and climate change activists.” During his 10 years in Congress, Richmond has received roughly $341,000 from donors in the oil and gas industry — the 5th highest total among House Democrats, according to previous reporting by Sludge.


That includes corporate political action committee donations of $50,000 from Entergy, an electric and natural gas utility; $40,000 from ExxonMobil; and $10,000 apiece from oil companies Chevron, Phillips 66 and Valero Energy. Richmond has raked in that money while representing a congressional district that is home to 7 of the 10 most air-polluted census tracts in the country. Richmond has repeatedly broken with his party on major climate and environmental votes. During the climate crisis that has battered his home state of Louisiana, Richmond has joined with Republicans to vote to increase fossil fuel exports and promote pipeline development. He also voted against Democratic legislation to place pollution limits on fracking — and he voted for GOP legislation to limit the Obama administration’s authority to more stringently regulate the practice.

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“US air passengers have by far the biggest carbon footprint among rich countries. Its aviation emissions are bigger than the next 10 countries combined..”

1% Of People Cause Half Of Global Aviation Emissions (G.)

Frequent-flying “‘super emitters” who represent just 1% of the world’s population caused half of aviation’s carbon emissions in 2018, according to a study. Airlines produced a billion tonnes of CO2 and benefited from a $100bn (£75bn) subsidy by not paying for the climate damage they caused, the researchers estimated. The analysis draws together data to give the clearest global picture of the impact of frequent fliers. Only 11% of the world’s population took a flight in 2018 and 4% flew abroad. US air passengers have by far the biggest carbon footprint among rich countries. Its aviation emissions are bigger than the next 10 countries combined, including the UK, Japan, Germany and Australia, the study reports.


The researchers said the study showed that an elite group enjoying frequent flights had a big impact on the climate crisis that affected everyone. They said the 50% drop in passenger numbers in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic should be an opportunity to make the aviation industry fairer and more sustainable. This could be done by putting green conditions on the huge bailouts governments were giving the industry, as had happened in France. Global aviation’s contribution to the climate crisis was growing fast before the Covid-19 pandemic, with emissions jumping by 32% from 2013-18. Flight numbers in 2020 have fallen by half but the industry expects to return to previous levels by 2024.

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They want the internet to have the same bias the MSM have.

Obama: The Internet Is “The Single Biggest Threat To Our Democracy” (AP)

Back in 2008, Barack Obama famously harnessed the internet and social media to help win the White House. He kept up the embrace once he got there. Now he worries that the internet and social media have helped create “the single biggest threat to our democracy.”Obama has been saying a version of this for four years — since he left the White House — but his words are getting steadily more pointed. He’s clearly sounding an alarm, but it’s not exactly clear what he thinks we should do about it. His latest critique comes in a new interview between Obama and Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, and before we go any further we should put it in full context: Obama was discussing a media landscape dominated not just by Facebook but by Fox News that allows Americans to choose their own distorted reality.

Which means, he says, we no longer have a shared set of facts. That assessment is now conventional wisdom among many critics of the TV and internet ecosystem. There’s almost no practical, constructive argument about how we should respond to that problem. Obama doesn’t offer one in his interview, either. And again, it’s incorrect to say that Obama is laying the problems of our broken information landscape solely at the feet of Facebook or any other particular tech company. But he is certainly lacing into them now in a way he didn’t do prior to leaving the White House.

Obama: “Now you have a situation in which large swaths of the country genuinely believe that the Democratic Party is a front for a pedophile ring…I was talking to a volunteer who was going door-to-door in Philadelphia in low-income African American communities, and was getting questions about QAnon conspiracy theories.” Goldberg: Is this new malevolent information architecture bending the moral arc away from justice? Obama: I think it is the single biggest threat to our democracy.

Read more …

 

 

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Nov 132020
 


Pablo Picasso Les femmes d’Alger 1955

 

PA Court: Secretary Of State Lacked Authority To Change Voting Deadline (Fox)
Michigan State Senators Request Full Election Audit (ET)
Trump’s New Pentagon Sets Up Clash Over Afghanistan Pullout (Pol.)
Trump Could Be Banned From Twitter After He Leaves Office (Ind.)
Obama: ‘Americans Spooked By Black Man In White House’ (JTN)
This Is What Happens To Us When The Great Global Reset Comes (Kitco)
Three-Quarters Of England’s Care Workers Earn Below ‘Real’ Living Wage (G.)
Unemployment Fiasco in Europe Is Kept out of Official Rates (WS)
Introduction to The New Economics: A Manifesto (Steve Keen)
Watch This! (Dmitry Orlov)

 

 

Prof Appel Dominion

 

 

 

 

Limited impact.

PA Court: Secretary Of State Lacked Authority To Change Voting Deadline (Fox)

A Pennsylvania judge ruled in favor of the Trump campaign Thursday, ordering that the state may not count ballots where the voters needed to provide proof of identification and failed to do so by Nov. 9. State law said that voters have until six days after the election — this year that was Nov. 9 — to cure problems regarding a lack of proof of identification. After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that mail-in ballots could be accepted three days after Election Day, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar submitted guidance that said proof of identification could be provided up until Nov. 12, which is six days from the ballot acceptance deadline. That guidance was issued two days before Election Day.


“[T]he Court concludes that Respondent Kathy Boockvar, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Commonwealth, lacked statutory authority to issue the November 1, 2020, guidance to Respondents County Boards of Elections insofar as that guidance purported to change the deadline … for certain electors to verify proof of identification,” Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt said in a court order. This was in line with the Trump campaign’s argument, which was that there was no basis in the state’s law to extend the identification deadline, and that Boockvar did not have the power to unilaterally change it. The court had previously ordered that all ballots where voters provided proof of identification between Nov. 10 and 12 should be segregated until a ruling was issued determining what should be done with them.

Matt Gaetz: Dead people don’t always vote. But when they do, they prefer to vote by mail.

Read more …

“Every citizen deserves to have faith in the integrity of the election process and its outcome..”

Michigan State Senators Request Full Election Audit (ET)

At least two Michigan Republican state senators have requested a full election audit, asking the Michigan secretary of state’s office for a full recount before the election results are certified, according to a letter they sent to her office on Thursday. State senators Lana Theis and Tom Barrett wrote that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and canvassers that are reviewing allegations of irregularities and voter fraud made in lawsuits filed by President Donald Trump’s campaign. They are requesting a “full audit” of the election, saying it needs to be done before the state certifies the election results. “Every citizen deserves to have faith in the integrity of the election process and its outcome,” they said in letters.

“It is our responsibility, as elected public servants, to assure the people of Michigan of the process’s integrity through complete transparency and the faithful investigation of any allegations of wrongdoing, fraud, or abuse.” Their letters made reference to allegations made by Trump’s legal team, claims of witnesses about irregularities at polls, and a glitch that switched 6,000 votes from a Republican official to a Democratic official in Antrim County that was later corrected and acknowledged by the secretary of state’s office, although the Michigan GOP said the same software – Dominion Voting Systems – was used in dozens of other counties.

“The erroneous reporting of unofficial results from Antrim county was a result of accidental error on the part of the Antrim County Clerk. The equipment and software did not malfunction and all ballots were properly tabulated. However, the clerk accidentally did not update the software used to collect voting machine data and report unofficial results,” Benson said in a statement last week about Antrim County’s election results. Other allegations from the two lawmakers include ineligible ballots being counted, poll workers being told to backdate ballots, counting the same ballots several times, and other claims.

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The shameless backlash against bringing the troops home is stunning.

Trump’s New Pentagon Sets Up Clash Over Afghanistan Pullout (Pol.)

President Donald Trump’s decapitation strike on the Pentagon this week is raising fears that the U.S. will accelerate the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, putting newly installed leaders on a collision course with top generals and others who are urging a more deliberate drawdown. Current and former administration officials say Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper Monday in part over his opposition to accelerating troop drawdowns worldwide, and especially in Afghanistan. The upheaval accelerated on Tuesday with the resignation of three high-level civilians and the installation of loyalists who are expected to ram through Trump’s agenda, and continued on Wednesday when retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, an outspoken critic of the war in Afghanistan, was brought on as senior adviser to new acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller.

Any move to accelerate withdrawals would set up a clash with the nation’s top generals and other civilians, who have argued publicly against leaving Afghanistan too quickly while the security situation remains volatile. It would also complicate President-elect Joe Biden’s pledge to leave a small number of troops in the country to guard against terror attacks.

“A precipitous and what appears to be near total withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan — not on a conditions-based approach advocated by our military, political and intelligence leadership but rather on an old campaign promise by President Trump now carried out by hyperpartisan Trump loyalists installed in a last-minute purge of DoD — is both reckless and will not make America safer,” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired CIA senior operations officer. Concerns are also growing within the national security community that the personnel churn portends other major policy shifts, such as military actions abroad and in the U.S. Yet current and former administration officials believe the moves were more about rewarding allies and punishing those who resisted the president’s agenda than they were about major changes in direction.

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And the New York Times will stop writing about him?

Trump Could Be Banned From Twitter After He Leaves Office (Ind.)

Donald Trump will no longer be protected by Twitter’s public interest guidelines when he leaves office in January, meaning he will be suspended or banned if he continues to break the platform’s rules. Twitter’s policy regarding public figures, which was formalised last year, means only “current or potential member of a local, state, national, or supra-national governmental or legislative body” receive special treatment . The US President’s Twitter account was flagged more than a dozen times in the days following the election for posting misinformation and misleading claims about the election. Several prominent Democrats called for Twitter to suspend Mr Trump’s account until all states finish counting the votes, however the platform’s public interest guidelines prevent it from being suspended or removed.


After his lead in several key states began to dwindle to challenger Joe Biden, Mr Trump attempted to undermine the electoral process by calling for a halt to the counting of mail-in ballots. “They are trying to STEAL the Election,” he tweeted. Democratic Congressman David Cicilline described Mr Trump’s tweets as a “threat to democracy”, while fellow congressman Gerry Connolly tweeted, “This is pure disinformation.” Warnings placed on Mr Trump’s tweets meant they were not immediately visible on his timeline and engagement with the tweets was restricted. One warning explained: “Some or all of the content shared in this tweet is disputed and might be misleading about how to participate in an election or another civic process.” The rate of violations would typically lead to an account suspension, either temporarily or permanently. However, public figures are protected by a “public-interest exception” policy.

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Not by his politics?

Oh well, Barry has a new book out.

Obama: ‘Americans Spooked By Black Man In White House’ (JTN)

Just before President George W. Bush left the White House after two terms, he declared he wouldn’t be weighing in with thoughts on his successor, following the model of his father, George H.W. Bush. But Barack Obama made no such pledge. And now, just days after the 2020 election, the 44th president is hawking a new book so get ready to hear a lot more from him. Obama, the first biracial man to be elected president, makes an incendiary charge in his book, “A Promise Land,” which comes out Tuesday. President Trump, he claims, “promised an elixir for the racial anxiety” of “millions of Americans spooked by a black man in the White House.”

Those Americans – whom Obama implies appear racist – were prey to “the dark spirits that had long been lurking on the edges of the modern Republican party – xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, paranoid conspiracy theories, an antipathy toward black and brown folks.” Obama continues: “It was as if my very presence in the White House had triggered a deep-seated panic, a sense that the natural order had been disrupted. Which is exactly what Donald Trump understood when he started peddling assertions that I had not been born in the United States and was thus an illegitimate president.” Obama writes that “he came to regard Trump’s media ubiquity and characteristic shamelessness as merely an exaggerated version of the Republican Party’s attempts to appeal to White Americans’ anxieties about the first Black president – a sentiment he said ‘had migrated from the fringe of GOP politics to the center – an emotional, almost visceral, reaction to my presidency, distinct from any differences in policy or ideology,'” CNN reported.

The 768-page memoir is reportedly just volume one of his latest memoirs. Obama also writes about his shortcomings, like his failure to pass immigration reform, which he called “a bitter pill to swallow.” But he said his agenda was always correct, though voters swept out a slew of Democrats in the 2010 midterm election, two years into his presidency. “As far as I was concerned, the election didn’t prove our agenda had been wrong,” Obama writes of 2010. “It just proved that … I’d failed to rally the nation, as FDR had once done, behind what I knew to be right. Which to me was just as damning.”

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“..we have created so much debt and this is a worldwide phenomenon, so we can’t have normal interest rates anymore”

This Is What Happens To Us When The Great Global Reset Comes (Kitco)

We’re in the end game of a dollar-based system, and a new monetary system will emerge with gold as the anchor, said Willem Middelkoop, founder of the the Commodity Discovery Fund. “We’re in a rough period. It doesn’t matter which president will be next, he can only avoid a deep depression by printing trillions and trillions. As an investor, we concentrate on that part of the story,” he said. Fixing the fundamental problems in our economy, including excessive debt, will require more than just a continuation of past policies. “I think we have created so much debt and this is a worldwide phenomenon, so we can’t have normal interest rates anymore. We have seen the IMF coming out with a statement last week saying that we need a new Bretton Woods moment,” he said.


“We had a cover on Time magazine calling for the Great Reset. We had the World Economic Forum calling for a Great Reset. I wrote a book on the topic, published in 2014, it was called The Big Reset.” A new global system will require an overhaul of many monetary pillars that we currently have, Middelkoop noted. “We need a debt restructuring. IMF and the United Nations have been quite clear about that; we need debt restructuring first for the poor countries but later for the rich countries, we all have too much debt on our books. We need to find a new anchor for the world monetary system,” he said. Until then, trillions more in stimulus will be issued by governments around the world to avoid a global depression like that of the 1930’s, Middelkoop said.

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Without COVID, this would have gotten zero attention.

Three-Quarters Of England’s Care Workers Earn Below ‘Real’ Living Wage (G.)

Almost three-quarters of frontline care workers in England are earning below the “real” living wage, which experts say is the bare minimum to allow families basics such as a secondhand car and a week’s annual UK self-catering holiday, research has revealed. The proportion of care workers below the threshold is even higher in northern areas, where care homes have been hit hardest by Covid-19. In the north-east, 82% of care staff earned less than the England-wide real living wage of £9.50 per hour, while the proportion was 78% in the north-west. One care worker in Lancashire earning £8.72 per hour who recently had her pay cut told the Guardian some colleagues have been using food banks.

The figures apply to more than 832,000 frontline care workers, more than 600,000 of whom are earning below the minimum thresholds. In Hillingdon, the borough that contains Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip parliamentary constituency, more than 3,000 care workers earn so little that if they are the main breadwinner in a family of four with their partner on similar wages, they could not afford the £112 a week they require for food, according to analysis by Loughborough University that underpins real living wage calculation. When Johnson was London mayor he supported the London living wage campaign as “making economic sense”.

The figures were calculated by the Living Wage Foundation and come amid growing calls for reform of the social care sector to create parity with the NHS, where all nurses earn above the threshold. On Thursday, Jeremy Hunt, the chairman of the Commons health and social care committee, called for a 10-year funding plan for social care akin to the national consensus that established the NHS in 1948. New polling revealed 82% of the public now back government investment in social care to fund a pay rise for care workers according to new polling by Survation for Citizens UK.

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But what are the true rates?

Unemployment Fiasco in Europe Is Kept out of Official Rates (WS)

In Europe, people who are furloughed are paid under government programs via their employers. Many of these programs have been created during the Pandemic. In theory, these people still have jobs. In practice, they’re not working, or are working heavily reduced hours. But they do not count as “unemployed” and are not reflected in the “unemployment” numbers. So throughout the Pandemic, the official unemployment rates barely ticked up, compared to the last crisis, and remain low for the EU era, despite tens of millions of people who’d stopped working due to the lockdowns (chart via Eurostat):

The UK adopted a sweeping job retention program at the beginning of its last lockdown. Each government pays companies, who in turn pay employees between 60% and 84% of their monthly wage. In some cases, the workers work fewer hours for less pay; in others, they don’t work at all. The workers take a hit to their income but their jobs remain intact, at least for the duration of the program. Under the UK program, businesses can claim 80% of a staff member’s regular monthly salary, up to a maximum of £2,500. The money must be passed on to the employee and can also be topped up by the employer.


But the unemployment rate has begun to rise as people come off furlough, and those whose jobs disappeared entered official unemployment. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.8% in the three months to September, from 4.5% in Q2 and from 3.9% a year earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In London, the unemployment rate surged by 1.2 percentage points from the previous quarter, to 6%. It was the largest quarterly increase in unemployment since the ONS started tracking the data in 1992.

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“I’m writing a book for Polity Press entitled The New Economics: A Manifesto. It has a long way to go, but this is the reasonably complete first chapter.”

Introduction to The New Economics: A Manifesto (Steve Keen)

Even before the Covid-19 crisis began, the global economy was not in good shape, and nor was economic theory. The biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression began late in first decade of the 21st century. Called the “Global Financial Crisis” (GFC) in most of the world and the “Great Recession” in the USA, it saw unemployment explode from 4.6% of the US workforce in early 2007 to 10% in late 2009. Inflation turn into deflation— inflation of 5.6% in mid-2008 fell to minus 2% per year in mid-2009—and the stock market collapsed, with the S&P500 Index falling from 1500 in mid-2007 to under 750 in early 2009. The economy recovered very slowly after then, under the influence of an unprecedented range of government interventions, from the “cash for clunkers” scheme that encouraged consumers to dump old cars and buy new ones, to “Quantitative Easing”, where the Federal Reserve purchased a trillion-dollars-worth of bonds from the financial sector every year, in an attempt to stimulate the economy by making the wealthy wealthier.

This crisis surprised both the policy economists who advise governments on economic policy, and the academic who develop the theories and write the textbooks that train the vast majority of new economists. They had expected a continuation of the boom conditions that had preceded the crisis, and they in fact believed that crises could not occur. In his Presidential Address to the American Economic Association in January 2003, Nobel Prize winner Robert Lucas declared that crises like the Great Depression could never occur again because “Macroeconomics … has succeeded: Its central problem of depression prevention has been solved, for all practical purposes, and has in fact been solved for many decades. (Lucas 2003 , p. 1 ; emphasis added). Just two months before the crisis began, the Chief Economist of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the world’s premier economic policy body, declared that “the current economic situation is in many ways better than what we have experienced in years”, and predicted that “sustained growth in OECD economies would be underpinned by strong job creation and falling unemployment.” (Cotis 2007 , p. 7; emphases added)

How could they be so wrong? Economists could be excused for this failure to see the Great Recession coming if the crisis were something like Covid-19, when a new pathogen suddenly emerged out of China. That such a plague would occur was predicted as long ago as 1995 (Garrett 1995). But predicting when the pathogen would emerge, let alone what its characteristics would be, was clearly impossible. However, the epicentre of the Great Recession was the US financial system itself: the crisis came from inside the economy, rather than from outside. Surely there were warning signs? As Queen Elizabeth herself put it when she attended a briefing at the London School of Economics in 2008, “If these things were so large, how come everyone missed them?”

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Good to see Dmitry!

Watch This! (Dmitry Orlov)

I first realized that the USA was going to follow the general trajectory of the USSR back in 1995. I also immediately realized that the USSR was rather well prepared for collapse whereas the USA was about to be blindsided by it, and so, as a public service, I thought I should warn people. “And a fat lot of good that did!” some of you might immediately exclaim. [..] And so I had my “Eureka!” moment in 1995, and a decade later, in 2005, I went public with my observations. I got a surprisingly sympathetic response from some particularly enlightened people (even if they said so themselves). And now, a quarter of a century after my initial insight, as the US enters national bankruptcy and institutional collapse, the whole world is being treated to an end-of-empire spectacular election extravaganza starring none other than the consummate showman and impresario extraordinaire Donald Trump.

He used to run beauty pageants, while this one is more of an ugliness pageant, but then beauty is rare and always fades while ugliness is commonplace and usually just gets uglier, making it a much safer bet. And so let’s accept it as a parting present to the world from a vanishing nation that gave us horror flicks, reality television and three-ring circuses with sideshow freaks. Within the sweeping panoramic tableau of the 2020 election, Trump (our hero) appears bathed in a golden sunset glow of nostalgia for lost American greatness which he forever promises to rekindle. Rest assured, Trump or no Trump, America will never be great again. But Trump’s magic halo extends out from his resplendent orange cranial plumage and enfolds all those who pine for the lost Pax Americana and fear and loathe what America is fast becoming—which is, to put it bluntly, a holding tank for degenerates of every stripe presided over by a freak show.

They pine for a time when men were manly and women womanly, when secretaries were flattered when their bosses took time away from their busy schedules to rub up against them, and when everyone was either a WASP, or worked hard on trying to look and act like one, or kept to their assigned station in life and knew better than to get too uppity. Arrayed against our fearless orange-hued leader, who at 74 is no spring chicken himself, is a ghoulish gaggle of geriatric gerontocrats. There is Joe Biden, 77, whose brain ran away and joined a circus some years ago but who imagines himself to be president-elect, or senator, or vice-president, or something. Having spent eight years lurking in the shadows as Obama’s VP, Biden is as fit to lead as a pig is kosher after rubbing its side against a corner of a synagogue. To assist Biden in his dodderings there is his party-appointed nanny, Kamala Harris, a mere slip of a girl at 56.

Also haunting the balcony of the American mausoleum is Nancy Pelosi, 80, who still runs the House of Representatives even though proper employment for her at this point would be up on a pole keeping the birds off the corn. There is also Bernie Sanders, 79, a sad pagliaccio whose permanent role in the political Commedia dell’Arte that the Democratic Party stages every four years is to simulate democracy by cheerleading crowds of young imbeciles in Act I, to feign death after falling off his pogo stick in Act II, and to stagger to his feet, wave and smile for the curtain call. Last but not least, there is the horrid harpy Hillary Clinton, who is relatively young at 73 but whose putrid smell and cadaverous, ghastly visage are not longer fit for public display except in most delicately contrived circumstances. Hidden even further backstage is the suppurating cadaver of George Soros who, at 90, is still pulling the strings and wreaking havoc in the US and around the world.

Read more …

 

 

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What makes us fragile is that institutions cannot have the same virtues (honor, truthfulness, courage, loyalty, tenacity) as individuals.
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb in The Bed of Procrustes

 

 

COVID Tracking Project

 

 

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Aug 192020
 


Joel Meyerowitz New York City 1963

 

 

No, no matter how much I read and watch, I can’t shake the idea (less so as I go along, actually) that the Democrats don’t really, honestly, want to win the 2020 presidential election. Obviously, there are many in the party who do, and voters too, but not the ones pushing the levers and pulling the strings. Those, whoever they may be, that are picking candidates, setting policy, maintaining media contacts, doctoring spins.

Because is there anyone among you who has ever seen a worse candidate than Joe Biden? I’m not just talking about his dementia and gaffes, but you’d be very hard-pressed to find anyone who can use Biden and enthusiasm -let alone inspiration, or even better: exhilaration- in one sentence that doesn’t include the word “no”. And isn’t that the #1 requirement for a candidate?

They ostensibly went with Kamala Harris to provide some of that, if we may believe the press. She’ll whip up the voters into wild bouts of inspiring enthusiasm! Only, Kamala bowed out of the primaries even before 2020 started, after spending $40 million -part of which is still not paid off- because she was stuck at 2% support and couldn’t generate … any enthusiasm.

What you got is a really old man who couldn’t get a toddler excited about ice cream, and a token black woman who nobody even in her own party likes. Mix those ingredients into a convention that attracts just half the viewers of the 2016 one and generates the excitement level of an infomercial for kitchen appliances, and is it any wonder I doubt that the “behind the curtain party” is in this to win?

As for the political program, the agenda, there is really only one item on it: Donald Trump. And no matter how many millions of times it may be repeated in speeches and news articles, NOT being something is in the end NOT a positive message. You’re supposed to win on your own merit, not someone else’s perceived lack of merit. Newsflash: “MOST BIDEN SUPPORTERS SAY THEIR VOTE IS AGAINST TRUMP RATHER THAN FOR BIDEN – WSJ/NBC News poll”.

This bit from the Guardian on Monday sums it up nicely, and it veers into late night comedy territory while doing it (what more can one ask for?):

Virtual Democratic Convention Kicks Off With Emphasis On Unity

The Democratic national convention begins on Monday with a star-studded lineup and heavy emphasis on unity aimed at presenting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the US’s best hope for healing a deeply divided nation[..]

The Dems have a hard enough time uniting their own party, let alone the nation. And there’s not a Trump supporter who would move into their camp – other than the odd washed up GOP politician.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on the eve of the convention found Biden with a nine-point lead over Trump nationally [..] According to the survey, Biden holds a wide advantage over Trump on nearly every issue except the economy, which voters say is a priority this election.


[..] Biden’s selection of Harris has exhilarated supporters, who showered the campaign with a stunning $48m in the 48 hours after she was announced as his running mate.[..]

What, so now they’re only $50 million or so behind?

Democrats anticipate the excitement around Harris’s historic candidacy as the first Black woman nominated for national office by a major party, will build momentum around the convention [..] Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPac, a super Pac focused on Black Democrats: “I think there is also real relief that there is a ticket people can believe in, and get behind and push over the finish line.”

Excitement, exhilaration are words that don’t seem to mean anymore what they used to.

[..] the people who were in the Bernie campaign, the people in the Biden campaign, and people outside of both of those campaigns – have really worked hard to create an effective and genuine popular front against Donald Trump,” Weaver said, adding: “Trump is a very unifying factor.”


[..] Howard Dean, a former chair of the DNC who has attended every party convention since 1980, said the new format could work in Biden’s favor. Unlike Trump, who feeds off the energy of crowds at rallies but can look wooden and uncomfortable when reading from a teleprompter, Biden, Dean said, “does better on television than he does at a podium”. “This helps him because he will be on TV projecting calmness, reasonableness and thoughtfulness,” he said. “And that’s what people are desperate for right now.”

Isn’t it great that not feeling comfortable reading from a teleprompter 24/7 in your basement has now become a negative quality? I know, it’s hard to keep up.

But then there was the reality check from CNN on Sunday. Double digit leads vanished (coincidence?) just as Kamala caused all that exhilarating excitement:

Biden and Trump Matchup Tightens As Enthusiasm Hits New High

[..] on the eve of the party conventions, a majority of voters (53%) are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in this year’s election [..] 50% of registered voters back the Biden-Harris ticket, while 46% say they support Trump and Pence, right at the poll’s margin of error [..]

Among the 72% of voters who say they are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall, Biden’s advantage over Trump widens to 53% to 46%.

It is narrower, however, among those voters who live in the states that will have the most impact on the electoral college this fall. Across 15 battleground states, the survey finds Biden has the backing of 49% of registered voters, while Trump lands at 48%.

The movement in the poll among voters nationwide since June is concentrated among men (they split about evenly in June, but now 56% back Trump, 40% Biden), those between the ages of 35 and 64 (they tilt toward Trump now, but were Biden-leaning in June) and independents (in June, Biden held a 52% to 41% lead, but now it’s a near even 46% Biden to 45% Trump divide).

 

The picture painted, especially amongst the most dedicated anti-Trumpers, is of course that Biden can’t lose; that’s what they all want, right? Well, think about it: CNN lives off of Trump, and so does a large part of the MSM. But then again, they made their beds and they’ll have to lie in them. The Democratic Party, however, does not. They are free to sabotage their own campaign.

And as I said above, there are many signs that MAY indicate that they are doing just that. The selection of Joe Biden, the basement strategy, the subsequent “appointment” of Kamala Harris, the near-dead convention. Do appreciate, please, that we have no idea how Biden and Kamala were “selected”. How did Biden all of a sudden rise to the top of the crop from seemingly nowhere? Where did Kamala come from post-primary mayhem? Did Joe personally pick her? Do you believe that?

But okay, if you don’t think that they would sabotage their own campaign, flip things around: if they WOULD have wanted to make sure they’d lose the election, what would they have done, you know, the donors behind the veil, plus maybe the Obamas and Clintons? Wouldn’t they perhaps have picked Biden and Kamala, whom very few people appeared to actually like, find sympathetic, prior to them being selected for their respective roles? Why not select people that DO resonate with voters without you having to forcefully shove them down their throats?

Why would a bunch of power-hungry folk (as all politicians and their sponsors are) want to screw up their own chance at obtaining power? Well, the lack of good candidates may well be a factor, but there’s something much bigger: the US economy, like most if not all western economies, is wobbling precariously on a precipice, and about to fall off. As I labeled it recently: The Bottom Is Falling Out.

Our entire present reality is still somewhat new, the COVID pandemic, its fallout, the bailouts, the government checks, the sick and the dead, but at some point it will all start to become a “normal” part of life. That doesn’t mean, however, that the economy will return to “normal” (whatever anybody ever thought that meant).

An enormous number of businesses will never reopen, entire fields will be obliterated, re: tourism, airlines, a large swath of retail stores. The unemployment that generates will be with us for many years. The Great Depression will become a mere footnote in most history books.

And the parties in charge in various countries, including the GOP in America, will be the ones blamed for most of the ensuing problems. If you’re a Democrat behind-the-curtain wizard, wouldn’t you at least consider saying: I think I’ll pass for this round, and let Trump take the heat?

Just so, you know, you can continue your cooperation with CNN, NYT, WaPo, FBI, and blame Trump every single day and 1000 times on Sunday for everything that falls apart, while continuing to generate clickbait profits ? If all you got to show for your grand ambitions is Joe Biden, it must seem a really appealing course of action.

Besides, you don’t appear to have any better candidates than Biden -at least not centrist ones-, but don’t forget that neither do the Republicans once Trump is gone. Da Donald is set to leave a huge hole behind where he once pontificated. And just about any Democrat except for Joe Biden could step right into that hole (pun intended).

 

 

 

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Aug 182020
 


Bettmann/Getty Minimum Wage 1963

 

Coronavirus Clusters Erupt At US Universities As Semester Begins (AP)
Sixty Seconds to Self-Sabotage (Cut)
They’re Angry, Not Stupid: Why Trump is Likely to Win Again (Greene)
Sanders: ‘The Future Of Our Planet Is At Stake’ In 2020 Election (JTN)
Democrats Seem All Too Willing to Surrender on Health Care Reform (Jac.)
Michelle Obama Speech Recorded Before Joe Biden Selected Kamala Harris (NYP)
Trump vs. Dems On Mail-in Voting (Chaffetz)
Trump Teases Upcoming Pardon For ‘Very Important’ Person (RT)
China’s Anti-Trump Election Meddling Raises New Alarm (Fox)
Kamala Harris Reportedly Owes $1M In Bills From Failed Presidential Run (NYP)
Twelve US Billionaires Have a Combined $1 Trillion (Ineq.org)
US States Seek $2.2 Trillion From OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma (R.)
The Need for Debt-for-Climate Swaps (PS)
The Mathematical Model of Modern Monetary Theory (Steve Keen)
And in the End (Rolling Stone)

 

 

No, I didn’t watch the Dem convention. Never perform invasive surgery on myself either, for pretty much the same reason. But I did pick up a few tidbits. It all leaves a very elitist impression. Deplorables.

 

 

New global cases below 200,000, new deaths at 4,297. Not bad. Or is that just because it was Monday?

Several European countries are spiking in what is perhaps a second wave. Pretty lousy controls, which will lead to all kinds of renewed lockdowns. Unnecessary.

 

 

New cases only just above 40,000 in the US, it was 70,000 not long ago, with new deaths at “only” 589.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sounds just plain dumb.

Coronavirus Clusters Erupt At US Universities As Semester Begins (AP)

From the dorms at North Carolina to the halls of Notre Dame, officials at universities around the US scrambled on Monday to deal with new Covid-19 clusters at the start of the fall semester, some of them linked to off-campus parties and packed clubs. North Carolina’s flagship university cancelled in-person classes for undergraduates just a week into the fall semester Monday. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said it will switch to remote learning on Wednesday and make arrangements for students who want to leave campus housing. “We have emphasised that if we were faced with the need to change plans – take an off-ramp – we would not hesitate to do so, but we have not taken this decision lightly,” it said in a statement after reporting 130 confirmed infections among students and five among employees over the past week.


UNC said the clusters were discovered in dorms, a fraternity house and other student housing. Before the decision came down, the student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, ran an editorial headlined “UNC has a clusterf*** on its hands”. The paper said that the parties that took place over the weekend were no surprise and that administrators should have begun the semester with online-only instruction at the university, which has 19,000 undergraduates. “We all saw this coming,” the editorial said. Outbreaks earlier this summer at fraternities in Washington state, California and Mississippi provided a glimpse of the challenges school officials face in keeping the virus from spreading on campuses where young people eat, live, study – and party – in close quarters.

Read more …

The DNC pushed Bernie aside until he complied with the Biden “plan”. They do the same with AOC et al, without whom they may never have had control of the House. Instead, they have Republicans and billionaires speaking, along with has-beens like the Obamas and Clintons….

Sixty Seconds to Self-Sabotage (Cut)

When the Democratic National Committee released its schedule for its big socially distanced convention this week, we learned that New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, inarguably among the party’s most dynamic figures, would have just sixty seconds to address the nation. [..] the relegation of Ocasio-Cortez, who electrifies multiple parts of a Democratic base, to one meager minute, a segment that—unlike speeches by some other presenters—will be pre-recorded, isn’t just a snub. The failure of a major political party to showcase one of its most talented politicians, a young person whose communicative reach and facility positions her to be among its leaders deep into our future, is self-sabotage.

[..] Why will this convention not show off more of the historic number of women who enabled their party to retake the House in 2018? Most of them won’t be prominently featured, but former Ohio Republican governor John Kasich, who ran for governor as a Tea Partier and signed eleven laws (comprising 21 restrictions) on abortion, including a 20 week ban and the prohibition of rape crisis centers advising survivors about the option of abortion, will be. He also worked to rob Ohio’s public workers of the right to bargain collectively (voters later overturned this measure). Not only is Kasich getting a plum spot on Monday, he’s used his time in the Democratic sun to diss Ocasio-Cortez, telling Buzzfeed that just because she “gets outsized publicity doesn’t mean she represents the Democratic Party. She’s just a part, just some member of it.”

So John Kasich, Republican, feels that Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat, gets outsized attention, even as he–along with his fellow Republicans Susan Molinari (Remember her? No? Weird) and former Hewlett-Packard and eBay CEO Meg Whitman–will get more featured airtime than she at her party’s convention. But this convention seems driven to thumb its nose not only at individual politicians, but at the social movements that have transformed civic participation and changed public opinion across the nation during the course of the Trump administration. Remember those women who retook the House in 2018? A bunch of them were first time candidates who were open about how their entrance into politics was grounded in their fury about the ubiquity and pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault in the wake of Donald Trump’s election and the #metoo movement.

But the party that profited from their electoral success has offered prime speaking spots to two multiply-accused harassers: former president Bill Clinton and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. That Bloomberg’s presidential campaign met its lethal end at the hands of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, who in a February primary debate detailed his history of workplace harassment, red lining, and support of stop-and-frisk policing, all in her allotted sixty seconds (she only had a minute; an eternity was in it) makes his featured presence an insult to Warren, and the many Democrats who were far more inspired by her campaign than by his. And listen, I get it, and assume everyone else does too: Bloomberg is speaking to the Democratic convention because the Democrats need his money (he shifted $18 million from his campaign to the Democratic National Committee in March).

But if organizers had been paying attention these past two years, they might have learned that that’s actually part of the structural thing about harassment and those who get away with it: too often, you need their money.


Matt Taibbi’s drinking game bingo card for the DNC

Read more …

…and that attitude of trampling over the left leads to this… If you think BLM, Antifa, #MeToo are the only angry ones, you are mistaken.

They’re Angry, Not Stupid: Why Trump is Likely to Win Again (Greene)

The candidate Barack Obama spoke to blue-collar America. He campaigned on change that would rejuvenate careers and restore dignity. Working Americans in the swing states doubted that Hillary Clinton even knew they existed. They saw Obama as a last hope and supported him enthusiastically in the 2008 primaries and later in the general election, but he soon proved to be a disappointment. He, too, fell in love with Silicon Valley and Wall Street and neglected the people who needed him most. And they punished him: he won fewer states in 2012 than he had in 2008. People like the alternate me felt cheated by a guy who rocked a Brooks Brothers suit and talked a great game, then gave the Tech and Finance sectors everything they wanted and more.

Educated people from the best schools trusted Big Tech outfits because educated people from the best schools ran them. Elites imagine each other to be virtuous because they imagine themselves that way. Technology giants were understood not as hardy sprouts but would be treated instead with princess-and-the-pea levels of delicacy, thanks to a superstitious fear that it might all be brought to grief by, say, forcing companies with hundreds of billions in share value to tolerate an employees’ union, offer a minimum wage adequate for a decent life, or pay tax proportional to their reliance on public goods.

No one bears greater responsibility for the lack of empathy toward Old-Economy workers that led to Donald Trump’s victory than big-name Tech darlings and the New Democrats who coddled them, then openly ridiculed their own voter base: the people Hillary foolishly nicknamed “Deplorables;” that is, the millions of disappointed Obama voters who would happily have voted blue if they’d had confidence that the party would respect them, welcome them, and acknowledge their needs. But the New Economy is a gated community, shut firmly to them, whose most strenuous boosters have been the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations. Old-school, working-class Democrats are unwelcome in the party they built. No one wants them tracking mud through the salon.

Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the swing states the same way Barack Obama had: by characterizing her as disdainful toward blue-collar Americans. It was a potent message among those who once had seen decent wages in return for honest work, lately reduced to Walmart greeters and Uber drivers. Humiliated by a labor market in which they had nothing to trade, the former working class understood that they also had nothing to lose. Liberal democracy and its supporting institutions shed their veneer of sanctity when dead-end employees can aspire only to dead-end management gigs. Call them “associates” and “technicians” all you want; they know who they’ve become and what others think of them. They are why Trump won in the swing states; he was propelled to victory by disillusioned Obama voters.

Read more …

I would have expected so much more from Bernie. Folds for the DNC twice in a row, and doesn’t volunteer to return any donations.

Can someone check how many times he said the same in 2016?! “Sanders called the 2020 election the most important in the modern history of the U.S.”

Sanders: ‘The Future Of Our Planet Is At Stake’ In 2020 Election (JTN)

Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders urged his supporters Monday to vote for nominee Joe Biden, imploring that the “future of our planet is at stake” and that the “price of failure” for not electing Biden would be “just too great to imagine.” “The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders said on opening night of the Democratic National Convention. “We must come together, defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president. My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine.” Sanders called the 2020 election the most important in the modern history of the U.S.

“We need an unprecedented response, a movement, like never before of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency,” said Sanders, a democratic-socialist who finished second in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential primaries. “Our campaign ended several months ago but our movement continues and is getting stronger every day. Many of the ideas we fought for, that just a few years ago were considered radical are now mainstream but let us be clear, if Donald Trump is re-elected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy,” he also [said].

Sanders named areas where Biden has moved the progressive agenda forward, such as raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making it easier for workers to join unions,” creating 12 weeks of paid family leave and funding universal pre-K for 3 and 4-year olds. “Joe will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and fight the threat of climate change by transitioning us to 100 percent clean electricity over the next 15 years. These initiatives will create millions of good paying jobs all across the country,” Sanders said. “We are the only industrialized nation not to guarantee health care for all people. While Joe and I disagree on the best path to get to universal coverage, he has a plan that will greatly expand health care and cut the cost of prescription drugs. Further, he will lower the eligibility age of Medicare from 65 to 60,” added Sanders, who worked with Biden on his final campaign platform.

Read more …

Bernie campaigner David Sirota has at least a little backbone.

Democrats Seem All Too Willing to Surrender on Health Care Reform (Jac.)

On the eve of a Democratic National Convention taking place as millions lose health care coverage, the health care industry is launching a new ad campaign pressing Democrats to back off from the party’s already compromised health care promises. That pressure seems to be having its intended effect on Capitol Hill, as congressional aides say the party will not push the initiative if Joe Biden wins the presidency. The signs of retreat come as health care industry profits are skyrocketing and the industry’s campaign cash has flooded into Democratic coffers. The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF) — a front group created by health insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital lobbying groups to oppose “Medicare for All” — announced on Friday that it is launching a new national ad campaign to persuade Democrats to abandon their plans to create a public health insurance plan.

The group said it will run ads during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week. PAHCF is led by a former Hillary Clinton aide and run out of the offices of a DC lobbying firm led by former top Democratic congressional aides. A substantial “public option” plan — which polls show is wildly popular — was the centerpiece of recent policy negotiations between supporters of former vice president Joe Biden and progressive Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who had been pushing for a more expansive Medicare for All program. A draft of the party platform, approved by DNC members late last month, includes a pledge to pass a public option, or a government-run health insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.

Within twenty-four hours of the launch of the industry’s new ads, however, anonymous Democratic congressional sources were telling the Hill that Democrats likely won’t bother with the public option fight next year if Biden wins the election. Instead, they said, the party will work to tweak its 2010 health care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has done little to limit insurance or hospital costs and has failed to ensure universal coverage. To justify the preemptive retreat, Democratic congressional aides told the newspaper that the party’s moderate crop of 2020 Senate challenger candidates could make it harder to pass a public option. That assertion comes even though every single one of those candidates is currently campaigning in support of a public option, according to a TMI review of campaign statements.

The situation echoes the Democratic promises and subsequent surrender on a public option that marked the debate over health care more than a decade ago — only this time around, the health care crisis is an even more acute emergency. While most developed countries have managed to contain COVID-19, the pandemic is spiraling out of control in the United States, and an estimated 27 million people have lost their employer-based health insurance plans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Read more …

And also recorded before Trump lost his brother?! Or wouldn’t she have cared? She did remember last night that she said it, right? Class? Grace? Where? We go low?

.. by contrast, “Joe knows the anguish of sitting at a table with an empty chair …

Michelle Obama Speech Recorded Before Joe Biden Selected Kamala Harris (NYP)

There was one glaring omission from Michelle Obama’s 20-minute Democratic National Convention speech Monday night — Kamala Harris. That’s because the former first lady recorded her rousing speech before Joe Biden selected Sen. Harris of California as his running mate. The speech was delivered remotely like all others at the DNC because of the coronavirus pandemic, and The Associated Press reports it was filmed before Harris was named last week as Biden’s VP candidate, indicating the choice was so close to the vest and down to the wire that even the Obamas were not in the loop. In her speech, Michelle Obama eloquently praised Biden and emotionally denounced Trump’s policies.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us,” she said. “It is what it is,” Obama added, quoting Trump’s recent remark on coronavirus deaths. “Right now, kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another,” Obama said. “They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages, and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protesters for a photo-op.”

She said that by contrast, “Joe knows the anguish of sitting at a table with an empty chair, which is why he gives his time so freely to grieving parents. Joe knows what it’s like to struggle, which is why he gives his personal phone number to kids overcoming a stutter of their own. His life is a testament to getting back up, and he is going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up, to help us heal and guide us forward.”

Read more …

The issue is not nearly as simple as some people would let you believe.

Trump vs. Dems On Mail-in Voting (Chaffetz)

With less than three months until the 2020 election and no end in sight for the coronavirus pandemic, a new debate over mail-in voting has begun. Swirling and sudden concerns about the United States Postal Service (USPS) have arisen from Democrats who are wildly accusing President Trump of cheating and manipulating the Postal Service in his favor. Conveniently they forget to mention the president is more than an arms-length away from how we vote, and the Postal Service is not under the thumb of his control. Senate Democrats joined Republicans to unanimously install postal leadership — of which, one is an Obama appointee.

No doubt President Trump has expressed deep concerns about the validity of the ballots, and rightfully so. Sending out millions of ballots without authenticating the inbound ballots is ripe for massive fraud. Democrats have desperately been seeking to legalize “ballot harvesting” (the collection and submission of ballots by someone other than the voter and without authentication) and other nefarious activities. It must be noted elections in the United States are administered by counties and certified by states. In other words, per the United States Constitution, elections are run locally and not by the executive branch of the federal government. The president has simply sought fair elections.

Ironically, it is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 1 that seeks to federalize elections and give the president power he doesn’t currently have now. Her solution would create the problem she inaccurately blames Trump for today. [..] The president of the United States does not control the operations of the Postal Service nor does he select or appoint the Postmaster General. The Board of Governors does both of these things. The Postal Regulatory Commission sets rates, service levels and decides on postal closings, not the president. The governors are appointed by a president and confirmed by the United States Senate. No more than five of the nine governors may be from the same political party.

Read more …

Clickbait fodder.

Trump Teases Upcoming Pardon For ‘Very Important’ Person (RT)

US President Donald Trump said he would soon hand out a pardon to a “very important” person. While the details were left shrouded in mystery, he ruled out both his former advisor Michael Flynn and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. “Doing a pardon tomorrow on someone who is very, very important,” Trump told reporters on board Air Force One on Monday, offering little elaboration other than to say it would not be Flynn – his first National Security Advisor – nor the famed whistleblower. Despite repeatedly calling Snowden a “traitor” over the years, Trump has hinted at giving the whistleblower a reprieve on more than one occasion in the last week, saying he may have been treated “unfairly” and that he would “look at” allowing him to return home.


With the president explicitly ruling him out for Tuesday’s pardon, however, it appears Snowden will have to remain in Moscow for some time longer, where he was given asylum after leaking a massive cache of purloined documents from the National Security Agency in 2013, revealing Washington’s sweeping domestic and global spying apparatus.

Read more …

They’re starting a new competition.

China’s Anti-Trump Election Meddling Raises New Alarm (Fox)

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told Fox News that China poses “a greater national security threat” to the United States “than any other nation,” detailing a web of threats that includes “election influence and interference.” Intelligence officials say they are increasingly concerned about interference in the U.S. election by China, adding to existing concerns about meddling by Russia that have been around since 2016, as well as the threat of meddling from Iran. “China poses a greater national security threat to the U.S. than any other nation – economically, militarily and technologically. That includes threats of election influence and interference,” Ratcliffe told Fox News in a statement.

While Russia was widely seen as favoring now-President Trump and generally seeking to sow chaos in America during the 2016 election, the difference with China is it is seen to be seeking a Trump loss in November. Yet congressional Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who ever since 2016 have issued dire warnings about Russian meddling, have not been quite so vocal about China’s potential to interfere in the 2020 election. Pelosi, D-Calif., last week said the threats of interference from Russia and China are “not equivalent,” while urging the intelligence community to put out more information about Russian efforts, saying Moscow is “actively 24/7 interfering in our election.”

Ratcliffe said the threat from China is actually significant, and he is “committing the IC resources needed to fully understand the threat posed by China and provide U.S. policymakers with the best intelligence to counter China’s broad and deep malign activities.” “China is concerned that President Trump’s reelection would lead to a continuation of policies that they perceive to be ‘anti-China,’” Ratcliffe explained, noting that the intelligence community has briefed “hundreds of members of Congress” to raise their concerns about China “and its increased efforts to impact the U.S. policy climate in its favor.” “Fair and free elections are a bedrock of American democracy, and the IC remains vigilant against the various activities by China, as well as other threat countries and actors, which seek to affect our electoral process,” Ratcliffe said.

Read more …

Great fundraiser, they said.

Kamala Harris Reportedly Owes $1M In Bills From Failed Presidential Run (NYP)

Kamala Harris, named Tuesday to be Joe Biden’s running mate, still has more than $1 million in unpaid bills left over from her failed 2020 presidential bid, according to a report. The California senator raised about $39 million for her White House bid in 2019 and spent about $40 million, leaving her campaign with just $116,380 in the bank at the end of June, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing Federal Election Commission filings. Harris ended her campaign last December amid falling poll numbers and a lack of fundraising.


International law firm Perkins Coie LLP was still owed $523,883 at the end of June, while TorchStone Global LLC, a corporate and private security company, was owed $160,702, the report said. California political consulting firm SCRB Strategies had $92,4087 in outstanding invoices. Donors have contributed slightly more than $48,000 to her campaign this year. The report noted that the campaign can’t be shuttered until all debts are paid under federal law. And while Biden raised $26 million in a day after announcing her selection, his campaign can do little to retire Harris’ campaign debt. It can donate $2,000 and the Democratic National Committee can contribute $5,000. But Biden can ask his donors to send funds to Harris’ campaign.

Read more …

Feel free to call this a failed society.

Twelve US Billionaires Have a Combined $1 Trillion (Ineq.org)

For the first time in US history, the top twelve U.S. billionaires surpassed a combined wealth of $1 trillion. On Thursday August 13th, these 12 had a combined $1.015 trillion. This is a disturbing milestone in the US history of concentrated wealth and power. This is simply too much economic and political power in the hands of twelve people. From the point of view of a democratic self-governing society, this represents an Oligarchic Twelve or a Despotic Dozen. The Oligarchic Dozen are Jeff Bezos ($189.4b), Bill Gates ($114b), Mark Zuckerberg ($95.5b), Warren Buffett ($80b), Elon Musk ($73b), Steve Ballmer ($71b), Larry Ellison ($70.9b), Larry Page ($67.4b), Sergey Brin ($65.6b), Alice Walton ($62.5b), Jim Walton ($62.3b) and Rob Walton ($62b).

Since March 18th, the beginning of the pandemic, this Oligarchic Dozen have seen their combined wealth increase $283 billion, an increase of almost 40 percent. Elon Musk has been the biggest pandemic profiteer, seeing his wealth triple from $24.6 billion on March 18th to $73 billion on August 13, an increase of $48.5 billion or 197 percent. Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos was worth $189.4 billion on August 13, up $76 billion or 68 percent since March 18th. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was worth $95.5 billion on August 13, up $40.8 billion or 75 percent since March 18th.

Read more …

The Sacklers took out many billions, then declared bankruptcy. Now they’re “willing” to contribute more to a settlement than the entire company is worth. Sick.

US States Seek $2.2 Trillion From OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma (R.)

U.S. states claimed they are owed $2.2 trillion to address harm from OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP’s alleged role in America’s opioid epidemic, accusing the drugmaker in new filings of pushing prescription painkillers on doctors and patients while playing down the risks of abuse and overdose. In filings made as part of Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings that were disclosed on Monday, the states said Purdue, backed by the wealthy Sackler family, contributed to a public health crisis that has claimed the lives of roughly 450,000 people since 1999 and caused strains on healthcare and criminal justice systems. The filings cited more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S. tied directly to prescription opioids between 1999 and 2016.

In large states such as California and New York, claims alone totaled more than $192 billion and $165 billion, respectively. Forty-nine U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and various territories are making the claims. Oklahoma settled litigation with Purdue last year. Purdue filed for bankruptcy in 2019 under pressure from more than 2,600 lawsuits brought by cities, counties, states, Native American tribes, hospitals and others. The lawsuits said the company, and in some cases the Sacklers, used deceptive marketing and took other improper steps to flood communities with prescription opioids. The company and family have denied the allegations and pledged to help combat the opioid epidemic, including by providing addiction treatment drugs and overdose reversal medications under development.

[..] Purdue is only worth a bit more than $2 billion if liquidated. The company values a proposal to settle litigation, which includes providing addiction treatment and overdose-reversing drugs, at more than $10 billion. The Sacklers would contribute $3 billion and cede control of Purdue, with the company becoming a trust run on behalf of plaintiffs.

Read more …

These well-meaning people are mightily confused about growth:

“In the absence of new forms of liquidity support and major debt relief, the world economy cannot possibly return to pre-pandemic levels of growth..”

I think that means to want to return there.

“..the dramatic decline in the cost of renewable energy represents an opportunity for a big investment push in zero-carbon energy infrastructure, which itself would help to redress energy poverty and unsustainable growth.”

More growth? Isn’t growth itself the problem then? Never mind, anyone who talks about sustainable growth is not a serious person in my book.

The Need for Debt-for-Climate Swaps (PS)

In the absence of new forms of liquidity support and major debt relief, the world economy cannot possibly return to pre-pandemic levels of growth without risking severe climate distress and social unrest.Climate scientists tell us that in order to meet the targets outlined in the Paris climate accord, global net carbon-dioxide emissions must fall by about 45% by 2030, and by 100% by 2050. Given that the effects of climate change are already being felt around the world, countries urgently need to scale up their investments in climate adaptation and mitigation. But that will not be possible if governments are bogged down in a debt crisis. If anything, debt-service requirements will push countries to pursue export revenues at any cost, including by cutting corners on climate-resilient infrastructure and stepping up their own fossil-fuel use and extraction of resources.

This course of events would further depress commodity prices, creating a doom loop for producer countries. In light of these concerns, the G20 has called on the IMF “to explore additional tools that could serve its members’ needs as the crisis evolves, drawing on relevant experiences from previous crises.” One such tool that should be considered is a “debt-for-climate swap” facility. In the 1980s and 1990s, developing countries and their creditors engaged in “debt-for-nature swaps,” whereby debt relief was linked to investments in reforestation, biodiversity, and protections for indigenous people. This concept should now be expanded to include people-centered investments that address both climate change and inequality.

Developing countries will need additional resources if they are to have any chance of leaving fossil fuels in the ground, investing sufficiently in climate adaptation, and creating opportunities for twenty-first-century jobs. One source for such resources is debt relief conditioned on such investments. A policy tool of this type would not only put us on the path to recovery, but also could help to prevent future debt-sustainability problems that might emerge as more fossil-fuel holdings and non-resilient infrastructure become “stranded assets.” Moreover, the dramatic decline in the cost of renewable energy represents an opportunity for a big investment push in zero-carbon energy infrastructure, which itself would help to redress energy poverty and unsustainable growth.

Read more …

I should read Stephanie Kelton’s book, right?!

The Mathematical Model of Modern Monetary Theory (Steve Keen)

One Mathematical Model of Modern Monetary Operations

I confess immediately that I chose the title and subtitle for this post because their acronyms are palindromes. The subtitle is more accurate than the title, because this model considers only the monetary aspects of MMT: the Job Guarantee and inflation management components are not yet incorporated. But the monetary assertions of MMT remain in dispute in economic and political circles, so it is worth putting these into a mathematical model where their veracity can be tested. The primary stimulus for developing the model was the publication of Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth. Stephanie has written the book for non-technical readers, and she’s done a very good job: it’s a very easy read that explains why many conventional wisdoms about government spending are wrong.

But MMT is facing heavy resistance in political and economic circles, with my favourite to date being a motion before the US Congress, posted by Representative Kevin Hern, to resolve: “That the House of Representatives (1) realizes that deficits are unsustainable, irresponsible, and dangerous; and (2) recognizes— (A) that the implementation of Modern Monetary Theory would lead to higher deficits and higher inflation; and (B) the duty of the House of Representatives to condemn Modern Monetary Theory.”

The objective of this series of posts is to allow the assessment of the first part of this motion—the assertion that “deficits are unsustainable, irresponsible, and dangerous”. The models in this post are built in the Open Source system dynamics program Minsky, whose unique feature is the capacity to build models of financial flows using what are called Godley Tables (in honour of Wynne Godley, the pioneer of stock-flow-consistent-modelling). These tables enforce the “law of accounting” that (see Figure 1, A blank Godley Table).

Once an account is flagged as an “Asset” for one entity, Minsky knows that it has to also be shown as a “Liability” for another entity. This makes it possible to take an integrated look at the financial system, which allows us to assess Hern’s motion from the perspective of the entire monetary system, and not just the Government’s view of it.

Read more …

50 years later: ‘They broke up because Yoko sat on an amp!’

And in the End (Rolling Stone)

It’s a miserable Monday morning in January 1969, and the Beatles are trying to get back to where they once belonged. The Get Back project sounded like a perfect idea: just the four lads and their instruments, ready to hit the studio, return to their roots, conjure up some great songs out of thin air. Just like they used to. John, Paul, George, and Ringo have booked a TV concert special for January 18th — their first live show in years. They’ll rehearse for a couple of weeks, eyeball to eyeball, summon up genius on the spur of the moment. They’ve done it many times before. They’ve never not done it. The good news: Paul showed up today, and so did Ringo. So did the camera crew — these sessions are being filmed, so the Beatles can show a half-hour clip of rehearsal footage before their TV performance.

So here they are on Monday morning, ready to dazzle the world with a blast of spontaneous Beatles brilliance. Or at least Paul and Ringo are. Hey, has anyone heard from John and Yoko? Or George? With George, there’s a slight complication: He quit the band. On Friday, with the cameras rolling, he was trying to teach them a new song, “All Things Must Pass.” John, strung out on his new heroin habit, sneered at George with open contempt. George finally stormed out, muttering, “See you around the clubs.” John doesn’t take this seriously. “I think if George doesn’t come back by Monday or Tuesday, we ask Eric Clapton to play in it,” he says. “The point is, if George leaves, do we want to carry on the Beatles? I do. We should just get other members and carry on.” But now it’s Monday and still no George. No John and Yoko. (No Clapton, for that matter.) Paul and Ringo kill time jamming on a current radio hit, “Build Me Up Buttercup.”

But everyone gathers to discuss the crisis, complaining bitterly about Yoko’s constant presence. Surprisingly, the one who sticks up for her is Paul. He’s a sucker for a love story — he’s Paul McCartney, for God’s sake. But he also knows how much this romance means to his oldest, closest mate, his most troubled and cruel and impossible friend. “It’s not that bad,” he insists. “They want to stay together, those two. So it’s all right. Let the young lovers be together.” Paul has to chuckle, thinking about how future generations will look back at this — the Beatles, the greatest of all rock & roll bands, the world’s most legendary creative team, falling apart over such a trivial spat. Even on a winter morning as gloomy as this one, Paul breaks into a laugh. “It’s gonna be such an incredible sort of comical thing, like in 50 years’ time, you know. ‘They broke up because Yoko sat on an amp!'”

Read more …

 

 

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Dobbs/Nunes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 152020
 


Henri Cartier Bresson Boucher, Les Halles de Paris 1952

 

Former FBI Lawyer To Plead Guilty In Durham’s Trump-Russia Probe (ZH)
In Bringing First Russiagate Charge, Durham Hints At Other Crimes (JTN)
Bill Gates Says Hydroxychloroquine Has ‘Severe Side Effects’ (JTN)
Joe Biden Calls For Nationwide Facemask Mandate (KABC)
The President Was Not Encouraging: What Obama Really Thought About Biden (Pol.)
Appeals Court Spares Hillary Clinton From Deposition In Email Scandal (JTN)
Yes, Kamala Harris Is Eligible For Vice President (Turley)
UPS, FedEx Reject Calls To Handle Mail-In Ballots: Significant Problems (Hill)
California Judge Sides With Church, Allows Indoor Services (WT)
Warren Buffett Sheds Big Stakes In Banks And Goes For The Gold (Fox)
Trump: ‘A Lot Of People’ Think Edward Snowden ‘Not Being Treated Fairly’ (NYP)
Chaos In Assange Case Management Hearing (DEAssange)

 

 

As for US politics, I already wrote the core of it for a few articles below.

The “Russia Investigation Investigation”. Yes, it’s come to this.

Briefing for a descent into complete chaos post-Nov 4.

Doris Lessing’s original book title is “Briefing for a Descent into Hell”. Could use that one too. Take your pick.

 

 

Well, there’s one bright spot, perhaps: US new deaths are getting lower. And now it’s weekend again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Russia Investigation Investigation”. Yes, it’s come to this.

The MSM has also picked it up, trying to claim Clinesmith was some kind of lone cowboy.

Former FBI Lawyer To Plead Guilty In Durham’s Trump-Russia Probe (ZH)

Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith will plead guilty to one count of making a false statement regarding his involvement in the agency’s actions against the Trump campaign during the 2016 US election, according to the Associated Press. In November, the New York Times revealed that Clinesmith was under criminal investigation for allegedly doctoring materials used to obtain renewals of the Carter Page surveillance warrant. Clinesmith -who worked on both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the Russia probe, was part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, and interviewed Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos.

Clinesmith, a 37-year-old graduate of Georgetown Law, “took an email from an official at another federal agency that contained several factual assertions, then added material to the bottom that looked like another assertion from the email’s author, when it was instead his own understanding,” according to the report. “Mr. Clinesmith included this altered email in a package that he compiled for another F.B.I. official to read in preparation for signing an affidavit that would be submitted to the court attesting to the facts and analysis in the wiretap application. The details of the email are apparently classified and may not be made public even when the report is unveiled.” -New York Times

Clinesmith was identified by Inspector General Michael Horowitz as one of several FBI officials who harbored animus towards President Trump, after which he was kicked off the Mueller Russia investigation in February 2018. Two other FBI officials removed for similar reasons were Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, both of whom also worked on the Clinton and Trump investigations, and both of whom have similarly left the bureau. On November 9, 2016 – the day after Trump won the election, Clinesmith texted another FBI employee “My god damned name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff,” adding “So, who knows if that breaks to him what he is going to do.”

A former attorney with the FBI’s National Security and Cyber Law Branch while working under FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker, Clinesmith resigned in September 2019 after he was interviewed by Horrowitz’s office. Horrowitz in turn sent a criminal referral to US Attorney John Durham, who was tasked with investigating the Obama DOJ’s conduct surrounding the 2016 US election. Durham was appointed by Barr last May to examine the FBI’s actions against the Trump campaign during and after the 2016 US election, code named “Crossfire Hurricane.” Specifically, Durham has been probing whether Obama administration officials illegally collected intelligence on the Trump campaign, and whether the agency’s surveillance of campaign aides was free of improper motive.

“They spied on my campaign, which is treason. They spied both before and after I won. Think of that. Using the intelligence apparatus of the United States to take down a president,” Trump said recently during a live phone interview with Fox Business, adding “It’s the single biggest political crime in the history of our country.”

Read more …

They all knew Page was a CIA asset since August 2016 at the latest, but failed to tell the FISA court, because none of the warrants would have been approved. How obvious do we have to make it?

In Bringing First Russiagate Charge, Durham Hints At Other Crimes (JTN)

Spygate, once derided by media and political elites as a fringe conspiracy theory, is now fact thanks to a court filing that confirms an ex-FBI lawyer who disliked President Trump falsified evidence that was used to keep surveillance against Trump associates going. U.S. Attorney John Durham filed the felony charge Friday against Kevin Clinesmith, and the ex-FBI assistant general counsel is expected to plead guilty soon and cooperate with the ongoing investigation of the Russia investigators. That alone is significant, since Clinesmith was witness to other controversial moments in the failed Trump-Russia collusion probe, including an operation to spy on the future president during a counterintelligence briefing in summer 2016.

But within the four-plus page criminal information filed in U.S. District Court, Durham also laid out evidence of an additional crime that could be prosecuted in the coming weeks. The court filing notes that Clinesmith “willfully and knowingly” altered a document in June 2017 to falsely claim that Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — one of the main targets of the Russia collusion probe and identified in the court document as “Individual #1” — was not a source for the CIA, identified in the court documents as “Other Government Agency” or “OGA.” In reality, Page was a CIA asset. The filing says Clinesmith’s misdeed caused the FBI to mislead the Justice Department and the FISA court when filing an application for the last of four surveillance warrants that targeted Page for over a year.

But Durham also reveals in the filing that the FBI Crossfire Hurricane team — led by since-fired Agent Peter Strzok — had already been told of Page’s relationship with the CIA all the way back in August 2016 and failed to tell the FISA court that essential information about Page before the three prior FISA warrants were approved. Such a failure is known as a material omission because the FBI was claiming they believed Page was an agent of Russia when in fact he was an asset of the U.S. government helping to inform on Russian intelligence targets. In other words, had the FBI not omitted the truth, the judges would have known before they approved even the first FISA warrant that Page was a CIA-handled source, not a Russian stooge.

Here’s how Durham worded the account: “On Aug 17, 2016, prior to the approval of FISA #1, the OGA (CIA) provided certain members of the Crossfire Hurricane team a memorandum indicating that Individual #1 (Page) had been approved as an operational contact for the OGA (CIA) from 2008 to 2013 and detailing information that Individual #1 (Page) had provided to the OGA (CIA) concerning Individual #1’s prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers. The first three FISA applications did not include Individual #1’s history or status with the OGA (CIA).” Several experts said Durham’s inclusion of the earlier notification signals he has concerns others may also have been involved in deceiving the court.

“It’s more than an oversight. Whether the omission was purposeful or not, it is a fraud on the court,” said Kevin Brock, the FBI’s former assistant director for intelligence and the man who created many of the procedures the bureau still uses to investigate intelligence threats. “At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, I think it is clear that Durham is positioning a deeper dive into this issue of FISA application abuse,” Brock added. [..] In one instance the day after Trump won, Clinesmith texted this anti-Trump, anti-Mike Pence screed: “The crazies won finally. This is the tea party on steroids. And the GOP is going to be lost, they have to deal with an incumbent in 4 years. We have to fight this again. Also Pence is stupid,” he wrote in a text quoted by the inspector general.

Read more …

Why would anyone care what he thinks?

Bill Gates Says Hydroxychloroquine Has ‘Severe Side Effects’ (JTN)

Bill Gates this week added more flame to the fire in the ongoing debate over the usage of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, claiming that using the drug to treat the coronavirus carries with it the risk of “severe side effects” and arguing that medical officials should instead pursue the numerous “good therapeutic drugs” currently in development. Yet there is at present little evidence that “severe side effects” are common in COVID-19 patients who take hydroxychloroquine, with the majority of reported adverse events being relatively mild and only a small fraction of reported effects so far being dangerous and/or fatal.

The drug, which has been used for years to treat malaria and other conditions like lupus, has been at the center of a medical and political firestorm since March when President Trump touted the medicine as a possible effective treatment for coronavirus. Numerous medical officials have claimed that it offers no benefit to COVID-19 patients, while others have insisted that it is highly effective when used in certain circumstances, specifically on high-risk patients early in the course of the disease. Asked by Bloomberg magazine about the controversy on Thursday, Gates—who has been at the forefront of funding and advocacy efforts to find both a cure and a vaccine for COVID-19—said that though we live “in age of science … sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.”

“In the test tube, hydroxychloroquine looked good,” he said. “On the other hand, there are lots of good therapeutic drugs coming that are proven to work without the severe side effects.” Numerous studies across the world over the past several months have produced mixed results on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19, with some showing marked benefits and others indicating that it does not help patients recover from the disease. Yet regardless of study outcomes, severe adverse health events associated with the drug appear to be comparatively rare. One randomized trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month stated that, while the study’s treatment with hydroxychloroquine “did not prevent illness compatible with Covid-19 or confirmed infection,” there were nevertheless “no serious intervention-related adverse reactions or cardiac arrhythmias” reported by study participants.

Read more …

Biden’s handlers know that many Trump supporters are against masks, so they make him call for masks everywhere in order to create conflict.

Joe Biden Calls For Nationwide Facemask Mandate (KABC)

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is calling for a nationwide mask mandate. After getting a briefing from some healthcare professionals in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said all Americans should be wearing facemasks outside their homes for the next three months. He did not give any details on enforcement, legality or science. The former VP stressed – without citing any evidence–that it will save up to 40-thousand lives. Biden said it’s not an issue of personal rights. He insisted that it’s about personal responsibility and patriotic duty. Biden’s new running mate Kamala Harris said — “That’s what real leadership looks like.” They spoke for a total of about 8 minutes and refused to take questions.

Read more …

Power games amongst so-called friends. Meanwhile, Hillary apparently said she might “serve” in a Biden cabinet.

The President Was Not Encouraging: What Obama Really Thought About Biden (Pol.)

Biden’s own academic career was unimpressive—he repeated the third grade, earned all Cs and Ds in his first three semesters at the University of Delaware except for As in P.E., a B in “Great English Writers” and an F in ROTC, and graduated 76th in his Syracuse Law School class of ’85. He’s the first Democratic nominee since Walter Mondale in 1984 not to have an Ivy League degree. He was not a binder person, Clinton and Obama aides said. Biden admitted as much in his 2007 memoir Promises to Keep, writing “It’s important to read reports and listen to the experts; more important is being able to read people in power.” Biden’s tendency to blurt out whatever was on his mind rankled Obama, who wasn’t afraid to needle him for it.

In his first press conference in 2009, the young president quipped “I don’t remember exactly what Joe was referring to—not surprisingly,” when asked about Biden’s assessment that there was a 30 percent chance they could get the economic stimulus package wrong. The gaffes were only one side of the story, though. Obama warmed both to Biden’s effusive personality and his skill in implementing the administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package, which the president had delegated to him. Aides recall that Obama and Biden took almost polar-opposite approaches to policymaking, Obama always seeking data for the most logical or efficient outcome, while Biden told stories about how a bill would affect the working-class guy in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he was born.

[..] Panetta, who had known Clinton from his days as her husband’s White House chief of staff, recalled that “Both she and her staff worked at that a great deal in trying to build that support.” Among Obama and his aides, Panetta said, “I think there was a certain attraction to someone that would certainly break ceilings and kind of create the same kind of precedent that he created when he became president … as opposed to supporting somebody who’s kind of your more traditional politician and, you know, a white Irish Catholic guy.” There was also dismissiveness of Biden in Clinton’s orbit that echoed Obama aides.

“The good thing about a Biden run,” Neera Tanden, Clinton’s close aide who also advised the Obama administration on health policy, wrote to Podesta in 2015, in an email later exposed by WikiLeaks, “is that he would make Hillary look so much better.” Obama tried to remain above the fray, even as his closest staffers largely rallied around Clinton—which they likely would not have done if there was a chance he would support Biden. “I knew a number of the president’s former staffers, and even a few current ones, were putting a finger on the scale for Clinton,” Biden wrote. Pressed on whether Obama ever expressed a preference between Clinton and Biden, Jarrett demurred, saying, “that’s a conversation you’ll have to have with him.” Obama declined to be interviewed through his spokesperson.

“President Obama has been unequivocal in his respect for Joe’s wisdom, experience, empathy and integrity,” the spokesperson said in a statement. Even if he did express preference for Clinton, some Obama officials characterized it more as an acknowledgment of her strength than an attempt to undercut Biden. “There was a feeling of inevitability about Hillary Clinton in every aspect,” recalled Psaki. “So it never felt to me like it was Obama choosing Hillary Clinton over Joe Biden. It was a feeling like it’s inevitable after Hillary Clinton left the State Department that she will be the Democratic nominee, and she will become the next president. So Obama … was trying to play a part in being helpful.” Reines said Obama “was always very encouraging” of Clinton and that after serving as president, “he believed there was no one better prepared to do it.”

Read more …

The doors shut tight behind Hillary.

Appeals Court Spares Hillary Clinton From Deposition In Email Scandal (JTN)

Four-plus years after the James Comey-led FBI chose not to file charges against Hillary Clinton, despite evidence she transmitted classified information on an insecure email server, a federal appeals court Friday gave the former secretary of state another legal pass in the case. A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a writ of mandamus requested by Clinton’s lawyers overturning a judge’s order that she submit to a sworn deposition in a Freedom of Information Act case brought by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. The court ruled that U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth erred in ordering the deposition in the first place.

“Discovery in FOIA cases is not a punishment, and the district court has no basis to order further inquiry into Secretary Clinton’s state of mind,” the appeals court ruled. Judicial Watch had sought to secure the deposition to explore whether Clinton’s use of the private server to transmit government documents was an effort to evade the legal requirements of the FOIA law. The group said Friday afternoon it is reviewing whether to appeal. “We’re disappointed and considering our options,” Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton told Just the News. The court ruling comes four years and one month after Comey announced on July 5, 2016 that he had unilaterally decided not to seek criminal charges against Clinton for transmitting highly classified information on her private email server.

Comey was later fired from his post and an inspector general ruled the FBI director had wrongly “usurped” the Justice Department’s authority to decide whether charges should have been filed. It was that very same day that former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele — working on behalf of Clinton’s opposition research efforts — walked the first piece of information of his now infamous anti-Trump dossier into the FBI office in London.

Read more …

“..Congress inserted the words “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Those six words have perplexed scholars for 150 years.”

But being perplexed by them today is racist.

Yes, Kamala Harris Is Eligible For Vice President (Turley)

Birthright citizenship has been a subject of debate from the time that the 14th Amendment was adopted. There are arguments on both sides of the currently accepted broad interpretation of the language. Many of our closest allies reject the concept of birthright citizenship. However, the case law strongly supports Harris. In 1898, in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, the court found that the child of Chinese immigrants was still a citizen under the 14th Amendment because he was born on U.S. territory. His parents were here legally as permanent residents. Moreover, the language of the 14th Amendment does not clearly support the exclusions raised by Eastman. It states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

Most reading that language have concluded that it allows for birthright citizenship for anyone “born … in the United States.” The 14th Amendment starts and ends as a model of clarity, stating that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” are “citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” But between those two phrases, Congress inserted the words “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Those six words have perplexed scholars for 150 years. The dominant view of law professors is the line as a whole guarantees that anyone born within the United States becomes an American citizen. But some believe that the caveat means you must be here in a legal status, that if you are not a American citizen, then you are a legal resident.

I do not believe that there is a credible question of Harris’ eligibility. However, I am concerned with the attacks on Newsweek and the author from a free speech standpoint. This issue has been raised for decades and the Supreme Court cases are few and are not dispositive on all aspects of the question. In prior coverage of candidates like McCain, there was not a demand for newspapers to denounce their own publications. Eastman is a professor who raised a commonly discussed constitutional and political issue. There is no reason to denounce him as a racist or Newsweek as an enabler of racism. Media often publish controversial theories.

There were not demands for retractions when a Harvard professor said Trump was not actually impeached when he was impeached, a North Carolina professor saying the entire Trump defense team would face bar charges, or any number of the controversial theories of criminality against Trump. Instead we simply debated the issues, which actually raised interesting historical or ethical questions. LA Times’ Michael McGough called Newsweek’s explanation “feeble” when it insisted that it was merely sharing a constitutional viewpoint and not attempting “to ignite a racist conspiracy theory around Kamala Harris’ candidacy.” Yet, this “feeble” reason has been the basis for past articles on the debate over the 14th Amendment in major publications for decades.

Read more …

Briefing for a descent into complete chaos post-Nov 4.

UPS, FedEx Reject Calls To Handle Mail-In Ballots: Significant Problems (Hill)

As concern mounts that the United States Postal Service (USPS) will not be able to handle an influx of mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, many on social media have called for delivery services FedEx and UPS to step up, which the companies have dismissed. In an exclusive interview with Reuters, UPS and FedEx said they legally can’t do the work and warned there would likely be “significant” delays. “State ballots must be postmarked to be considered valid and only the USPS has lawful postmarking status. Therefore UPS, FedEx and other private parties cannot technically be involved in shipping ballots,” UPS told Reuters in a statement.


Meanwhile, FedEx says it does accept individual ballots, but encouraged customers using FedEx to “closely review their state’s guidelines on absentee voting and deadlines for ballots or related election documents.” According to Reuters, various laws prevent private delivery companies from handling mail-in and absentee ballots, and in some states it would be considered ballot harvesting. On top of legal issues, the USPS is equipped to deliver to every mailbox in the U.S. daily, while private delivery companies only deliver when someone has a package or a pickup, and don’t have blanket coverage of more hard-to-reach places, such as rural communities. Many delivery companies are also already struggling with a surge of deliveries brought on by people staying at home during the pandemic and increasingly relying on online shopping.

Read more …

How can you open Target to huge crowds but keep churches closed? What is the reasoning?

California Judge Sides With Church, Allows Indoor Services (WT)

A California court rejected Friday efforts by Los Angeles County to require a popular megachurch to comply with pandemic orders, allowing the church to hold indoor services with singing and without attendance limits pending a resolution of the case. Superior Court Judge James Chalfant denied the county’s request for a temporary restraining order against Grace Community Church after the church began holding indoor services July 26 in defiance of state and county rules aimed at combating the novel coronavirus, according to a press release from the Thomas More Society.


Attorney Jenna Ellis called it a “historic win,” tweeting that the court was the first in California “to recognize #churchisessential.” The Thomas More Society, which represented the church, said the judge ruled “it is the County’s burden to show why it should be permitted to infringe on the constitutionally protected rights of churches to freely exercise religion, but also expressing safety concerns.” At the same time, the church agreed to comply with mask-wearing and social-distancing rules before the full hearing scheduled for Sept. 4.

Read more …

Is he still getting the $600 checks?

Warren Buffett Sheds Big Stakes In Banks And Goes For The Gold (Fox)

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. unloaded a more than a quarter of its stake in Wells Fargo & Co. and about 61% of its position in JPMorgan Chase, while acquiring a new position in Barrick Gold Corp., according to 13-F filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the period ended Jun 30, that were released Friday afternoon. Berkshire sold 85.6 million shares of Wells Fargo, representing about 26% of its stake and putting its ownership to about 3% from 5.3%. The insurance conglomerate also shed 35.5 million shares of JPMorgan, 61% of its position, which now represents 1% of Berkshire’s overall portfolio from 3% in the prior period.


Meanwhile, the investment firm acquired nearly 21 million shares of Barrick Gold worth $563 million, representing 0.3% of Berkshire’s holding. Berkshire also reduced its holding in PNC Financial Services (PNC), selling 3.85 million shares to cut its position to 0.3% from 0.5%. Berkshire didn’t change its holdings in Apple Inc. where the firm owns 245 million shares. Large investors must disclose long stock positions held at the end of a quarter 45 days later in a 13-F filing with the SEC, which means such filings are merely a snapshot of an investor’s holdings at a given point.

Read more …

Opening doors for Assange?

Trump: ‘A Lot Of People’ Think Edward Snowden ‘Not Being Treated Fairly’ (NYP)

President Trump polled his aides on Thursday about whether he should let anti-surveillance whistleblower and leaker Edward Snowden return to the US from Russia without going to prison, saying he was open to it. “There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” Trump told The Post in an exclusive interview in the Oval Office, before soliciting views from his staff. Trump commented on Snowden for the first time as president after accusing former President Barack Obama of spying on his 2016 campaign. “When you look at [former FBI Director James] Comey and [former FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe, and [former CIA Director John] Brennan — and, excuse me, the man that sat at this desk, President Obama, got caught spying on my campaign with Biden. Biden and Obama, and they got caught spying on the campaign,” Trump said.


Trump’s comments reflect a remarkable softening in his views about the man he once deemed a “traitor” worthy of execution. Republican lawmakers and the Justice Department’s inspector general recently highlighted misuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the secret FISA court to surveil former Trump adviser Carter Page. “Snowden is one of the people they talk about. They talk about numerous people, but he is certainly one of the people that they do talk about,” Trump said on Thursday, before turning to his aides. “I guess the DOJ is looking to extradite him right now? … It’s certainly something I could look at. Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don’t know him, never met him. But many people are on his side.”

Read more …

How does one define “lawful” in the UK these days? Who would do the defining?

Chaos In Assange Case Management Hearing (DEAssange)

Attorney General William Barr issued a replacement extradition request just two days after Julian Assange’s defence team submitted their full and final evidence for the extradition hearing due in September, Westminster Magistrates court heard today (Friday 14th August). The clear attempt to blindside the defence by US Attorney General William Barr emerged as the court heard Julian Assange has not even seen the warmed-over extradition request, which contains no new charges but introduces new narrative content that the defence argued should be excluded from the proceedings. The defence argued the replacement indictment introduced alleged conduct from 2010 and 2011 which the US had investigated almost a decade ago, and could therefore not plausibly be argued to be new information to the US investigation.

The defence considered the move by the prosecution to bring in the replacement extradition request at the eleventh hour “astonishing”, given the case had been prepared over the course of one year and was well into substantive hearings which began in February. The defence was given a week to decide whether to ask for the September hearing to be adjourned, or to proceed as planned on 7 September. And that was only part of the chaotic hearing in which Belmarsh prison did not initially bring Assange to the video room to join proceedings, the US prosecution failed to turn up (having got the time of the hearing wrong), and every journalist and NGO observer that tried to dial-in was directed to another trial entirely and never made it into the Assange hearing.

That left a mere of handful of journalists that could gain access to the court to report proceedings. ‘This was the worst hearing so far’, said Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-chief . ‘The US government seem to want to change the indictment every time the court meet, but without the defence or Julian himself seeing the relevant documents’. Even now Julian Assange has not been re-arrested under the replacement extradition request. Instead the re-arrest will take place on the first day of the hearings. The reissued request appears to serve a PR purpose since it contains no new charges though still threatens Assange with 175 years in jail.

Julian Assange’s legal team have been denied in-person access to their client since March. Today was the first day Julian Assange was able to have a short video link meeting with his lawyers, prior to the hearing. Belmarsh prison denied Assange any facilities to talk to his lawyers after the hearing ended. Julian Assange has not seen his family and young children since March.

Read more …

 

 

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Aug 102020
 


Cy Twombly Fifty Days at Iliam: Like a Fire that Consumes All before It 1978

 

 

Might as well call it a social experiment. Any other name, like “coup” or “fishing expedition” or “hookers peeing on a bed” or “justice being done” would just inflame “passions” and lead away from what should be the actual topic.

Whatever you call it, the fact remains that Donald Trump has been the first US president to be under continued investigation for the entire 4 years of his first term, and for about a year before it as well. And that should be a cause for alarm for anyone who cares even a little bit about the American political system, including those who abhor Trump. Because once you do that, it’s no longer about just one president, it’s about all who will follow him, and inevitably about the integrity and validity of the system as a whole.

In principle, there should be no investigations of a sitting president, and not even of a presidential candidate, because this risks endangering 1) the entire electoral process, and 2) the Office of the President (not for once, but for ever). In principle. If there must be an investigation, it must be based on solid evidence available beforehand, it must be short, and the President must be removed. If all of these three things are not guaranteed, no investigation is warranted, and the accusing parties should be “liberated” from the positions they held when they initiated the investigation regardless. Skin in the game.

 

 

It gets increasingly harder to write about American politics, or express an opinion in any other way, without being dumped into one of two camps, never to be heard from again in the other (except for ridicule or slander). There is no such thing as a neutral or objective viewpoint anymore. You’re either with us or you’re against us – or them.

Seeing -and projecting- the world in black and white is a tempting proposal for anyone afraid of being confused; it should, however, never be an excuse for the media to not present its viewers and readers with a full color palette. But we can see every single day how that went. Black and white it is. And in that environment, too claustrophobic to be put in a box, I might as well paint the picture as I see it. Yes, in color.

 

The “social experiment” I see progressing has two parts:

1) can a political party, aided and abetted by the media and intelligence services, unseat an elected president it has just lost an election to?

2) can a presidential candidate be elected while shunning the media, debates, etc., and only appear at times and in forms that have been pre-selected by her/his handlers for maximum effect, while hiding his/her weaknesses?

 

As for no. 1, it has evidently not succeeded, but that is certainly not for lack of trying. One investigation has followed the other non-stop since 2016, in public and behind the scenes, and they have all come up empty. Of course one side would contest that and still say there was lots of evidence, but if so, it obviously wasn’t very strong, or Trump would have been gone.

People may also claim that the mandate of the Mueller investigation was too narrow, but really, go back and watch the man’s pathetic (sorry, but it was) testimony in Congress after the fact, that should be enough. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler and others have promised solid and inconvertible evidence many times, but we never saw any. Rest assured, whatever Trump may have done wrong, you would have heard about it by now.

Or to put it another way: he probably did many things wrong, but not the things he was accused of. In fact, the entire Putin puppet narrative is so idiotic it’s impossible not to ponder from time to time that it was designed from the get-go to support Trump, not hurt him.

As for no. 2, that looks even more experimental. The approach is helped along “wonderfully” by the pandemic, which provides plenty excuses to keep Biden hidden, but it goes against everything presidential campaigns have been built upon throughout American history: contact with voters. That very few people would believe Biden is his own man, and not a sock puppet, can’t help.

But there is more at stake. Presidential campaigns are one element of a much bigger process, and you can’t separate the two. Both parts of the “social experiment” seem to run afoul of the respect that bigger process, and ultimately the entire political system, necessarily demands from all participants, from an individual voter to a President. And that is much more important than either candidate. You can’t temporarily switch off that respect if and when that might suit your purpose, because you risk for it never to be switched on again.

 

You may dislike a presidential candidate, perhaps even intensely so, but that should never make you lose sight of the integrity, if not the sacredness, of the election process, of the political system, of the institutions, of the Constitution, and certainly not of the Office of the President of the United States. Because once you do that, you open the door for everyone to do the same in the future. And no, you can’t blame that on the candidate you don’t like, you do it.

When a candidate is selected through the primaries of his/her party, you must respect that, because if you don’t respect the process, you are lost, the system is lost, and there’s no telling when you’ll see it back, if ever. If that candidate is then elected President, a lot of doors that before allowed you to question and criticize him/her, should be closed. The country at that point has either a new President, or a second-term one. A different phase of the political process starts.

The House and the Senate become the critics, empowered by the system to hold the President accountable. But only the House and the Senate. Not the media, whose role it is, other than in the occasional opinion piece, to report on decisions made; not intelligence services, whose role it is to serve the country, and the new President it just elected; and not the opposition party, whose role it is to prepare for the next election, and to provide a degree of counterbalance, depending on how bad their loss was, on Capitol Hill.

The entire picture is crystal clear. So is everybody’s role in it. But now and then people -try to- refuse to accept their roles, obviously believing that they are more important than the integrity of the political system, and ignoring that in doing so they put the whole system at risk.

 

What was happening first became apparent in late 2015 – early 2016, when the New York Times began running multiple stories every day directed against Donald Trump. Mostly small bits, based on innuendo about his past, with a whiff of truth perhaps, but not more. The word “gratuitous” comes to mind. At a certain point, they did a dozen per day of the stories, it became assembly line work for the writers and editors..

The Washington Post chimed in, and so did CNN, MSNBC and others, including international press. It turned into a feeding frenzy, with all of them completely losing sight, voluntarily or not, of their roles as news providers. They all shape-shifted into opinion-only-makers, confident that their audience would not notice the difference, at least not at first. At that point it became a very Pavlovian thing.

Which is why I was initially going to name this essay “Trump vs Pavlov”. 100+ years ago, Ivan Pavlov “found” that if he rang a bell in front of a dog, and then gave her food, she would start to associate the two. When he increased the time-lapse between first, the bell, and then, the food, the dog would salivate in expectation of food at just the sound of the bell. In the end, all he had to do was ring the bell, with no food around, and the dog would salivate. So he had nothing to offer, no food, no substance, but the reaction was the same.

That is a very accurate description of what a large part of the US media have done -and become-. All they have to do at this point is mention Trump, or just show his picture, and their public will react the same every single time: Orange Man Bad. There doesn’t have to be any substance, any factual journalistic reports of wrongdoing. The “conditioned reflex” as Pavlov described it, has set in.

And their readers and viewers have become addicted to this. How could they not? They’ve been bombarded with 1000s of these bells ringing, and the substance may not be there, but the expectation of it is. If you’re a regular viewer of Rachel Maddow, what are the odds that your opinion is still your own after hearing RussiaRussia a million times? The only way it could be yours is if you switch her off.

I’ve written before that I don’t even think they really set out to do this. Initially, there were probably just some CEOs and owners and editors who didn’t like Trump and/or were affiliated in one way or another with the other party -and later candidate-. Who was counted on to win big anyway, so why not (well, because of the integrity of the political system!).

It was only later that they found out 24/7 anti-Trump “reporting” was a great business model for them. CNN was dying in early 2016, the New York Times was nor far behind, and all of a sudden numbers of viewers and readers and subscribers went through the roof.

Their problem is that if they succeed in making Trump lose in November, they will be back to where they came from before he appeared on the political scene. All of their “reporting” on US politics has devolved into a scheme based on ringing a bell, and on the scandal and anger their non-stop salivating audience have become addicted to, and mistake for substance.

If Joe Biden should win, that scheme is dead. They may hope to last a bit longer on the angry scandal of a possible persecution of Trump if he leaves office, but that would be it, and that’s not a business model. They can’t very well now turn on Biden and his puppeteers.

New York Times writer and editor Bari Weiss said it very well when she left the paper a few weeks ago, she summarized the essence of the MSM problem in just a few words:

“[..] the lessons that ought to have followed the election – lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else”.


Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world?

 

That’s the media. Second in line is US intelligence. Which, there’s no other way to put it, conspired against a presidential candidate and, when he was elected, a sitting president. The Strzok-Page “insurance policy”, the Obama Oval Office conversations where Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Susan Rice were present, plus 1,000 other things, the overall picture doesn’t exactly point to that famous seamless transition, and US Intel played a pivotal, because accommodating, role in that.

The best way to show this is perhaps that US intelligence themselves did not (could not) come up with a report on alleged links between the -prospective- president’s team and Russia, but took a dossier paid for by the president’s opposition and used it to discredit and persecute him and people in his team. The dossier was written by a two-bit MI6 hustler who hadn’t set foot in Russia in at least a decade, and whose main ‘Russian source’ wasn’t there either, but sitting in an office in the US.

That source in turn had contacts with a group of Russians whose very business model it was to make up and embellish whatever stories the highest bidder required, while failing to deal with their own severe drinking problems. That dossier was the entire foundation (or 99% of it) behind Rod Rosenstein appointing Bob Mueller as a Special Counsel. The appointment would never have been made, never have been possible, without the Steele dossier.

 

How was the dossier vetted by US intelligence, if at all? It’s very clear now what was wrong with it, but the all knowing and very clever intelligence people could not have figured that out 4 years ago, and instead cleared it for Mueller, for further FBI use, for FISA applications? How about their treatment of Michael Flynn, who they had already cleared only to resurrect the dead corpse of their investigation into his talks with Russian ambassador Kislyak? How would you, personally, spell “in good faith”?

We will see in the near future what the Durham investigation into all Russiagate players will come to. Apparently, Durham has just another three weeks to present at least something, because there is a two-month “no-go-zone” before the election, during which he would be accused of tampering with the election. And the premise for the Democrats and their sympathizers is that if Biden wins, all slates will be wiped clean.

They won’t, by the way. America still has a justice system, even if it is oftentimes crippled and grinding(ly) slow. Just watch Michael Flynn attorney Sidney Powell and her team. They have vowed to not only have their client be exonerated, but to fully clear his name, which according to their view has been besmirched by everyone up to and including Joe Biden and Barack Obama.

 

The third leg of the “creature” is the Democratic party. Who have stepped so far over their boundaries, nobody recognizes anymore that there were any. Or that the political system they are an integral part of, dictates that there are things they cannot do, lest they corrupt that system to the core.

Once you lose a presidential election, you prepare for the next one. You don’t use the next 4 years to try and frustrate the president you just lost to with all you got. The system should not allow it and can not tolerate it. There should be skin in the game for opposition politicians, who when they come with accusations of gross misconduct serious enough to remove a president, should be forced to step down when the accusations don’t lead to the intended result.

It should never be a free for all, in which you can simply try again the next morning. Because the system cannot work if that is possible. It can’t be that if you win a midterm election and get a majority in the House, you can then use that majority to make it impossible for a president to work on the agenda that made millions vote for him/her. That would cause the system to grind to a halt, and the system must always be more important than its temporary participants (even those who “sit” for 40-50 years).

When you look at the speaker’s list for the Democrat -non- convention next week where Joe Biden will be confirmed as their -virtual- candidate, you see that other than AOC, it’s just a long list of the same old people who were already there when they lost in 2016, and co-losers Hillary and Obama still have a very tight grip on the power and the purse strings.

Why they stick with Joe Biden, g-d only knows, and the same goes for whichever highly unpopular black woman they pick as VP who could soon be president. And sorry, but they all are. Kamala Harris was among the first to step down during the primaries because she didn’t get any votes. Susan Rice is not exactly “loved by the people” either, and the rest are no-names, except for Warren, but she’s both too left and much too white.

So you’re thinking: what’s going on there? That’s really the best you can do? But it does seem to be, likely because Barackillary have a small group of confidantes to choose from who they themselves are confident will be willing to cede all actual power to them once elected. And if Harris and Rice don’t get picked as VP, they’ll still exert a lot of power.

As will Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler, there’s more new blood at Madame Tussaud’s than at the upper echelons of the Democratic party. Yes, AOC can come in to represent the squad in a cynical move (no power but brings in lots of votes), but that’s it. For the rest it’s still just the broken left wing of the war party. But you’re right, they’re none of them, Trump. And that at the same time is the sole identity they possess.

 

Anti-Trumpism has become a political religion. Because Trump is the only topic that attracts clickbait and viewers. The only topic that rings a bell. Joe Biden rings no bells whatsoever. A while back Donald Trump jr tweeted:

Trump is really running against the media, Silicon Valley, the establishment, the swamp, Hollywood and maybe Joe Biden.

While investor GreekFire23 did even better:

Trump is running against himself in this election. The vote will come down to those who love him vs those who hate him. Biden is totally irrelevant and not even campaigning. Biden has no platform, no slogan, no stickers, no signs, no rallies, no followers. It’s Trump vs Trump.

What can still sink Trump is obvious: it’s the economy and the pandemic. America’s problem is that no matter who wins, those will still be its main problems by January 2021. And another problem has been added in the course of 2020: protests and violence in the streets.

 

Update: I thought I could leave it at that for now, step out for a moment, have a glass of wine, let it all sink in, and write a closing paragraph. But then I was sitting outside in gorgeous Athens and this popped up, which I very obviously can’t leave out:

Senate Chairman Subpoenas FBI Director Wray For Russiagate Records; Puts Bidens On Notice

FBI Director Christopher Wray has been subpoenaed by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to produce “all documents related to the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation,” which includes “all records provided or made available to the Inspector General” regarding the FISA probe, as well as documents regarding the 2016-2017 presidential transition..

[..] The subpoena was issued by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) as part of his investigation into the origins of Russiagate. It gives Wray until 5 p.m. on Aug. 20 to produce the documents. Johnson also released a lengthy letter on Monday in which he defended his Committee’s investigation and accused Democrats of initiating “a coordinated disinformation campaign and effort to personally attack” himself and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in order to distract from evidence his committee has gathered on Joe and Hunter Biden’s Ukraine dealings.

[..] Johnson’s committee has secured testimony from at least one State Department official who worked in Ukraine, and says the Bidens’ conduct created the appearance of a conflict of interest. “The appearance of family profiteering off of Vice President Biden’s official responsibilities is not unique to the circumstances involving Ukraine and Burisma,” wrote Johnson. “Public reporting has also shown Hunter Biden following his father into China and coincidentally landing lucrative business deals and investments there.

“Additionally, the former vice president’s brothers and sister-in-law, Frank, James and Sara Biden, also are reported to have benefited financially from his work as well.

I can’t let that go because it addresses exactly what my closing paragraph would have been about. Which is the risk of the giant divide that has developed in US society, getting even wider, and potentially leading to utter mayhem. Actually, it’s not even ‘potentially’ anymore, there already has been a lot of violence.

The Democrats think they will win easily on November 3, and then push through all of their their policies, after dumping on Trump for 4 years with their media and intelligence friends, but the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump, and most of their family and friends with them, don’t think so. That’s not a threat, it’s an observation.

They feel cheated out of their 2016 victory. They realize (or should I say “suspect”) that Russiagate and the Mueller probe and the Zelensky-linked impeachment “hearings” were empty vessels directed against the election outcome that they won fair and square, and I guarantee you they won’t take it sitting down.

Which means that no matter who wins, polarization will reach levels America has never seen, and, frankly, should never wish to. Because all of the people involved, bar just a precious few, will have to live together in the same country, and share the same society, streets, highways, stores and resources.

And sometimes I wonder: how are they going to do that? If Trump should win, how will the entire so-called left react, from the Democrats through the MSM to BLM? Will they just increase the protests and the violence in the streets?

Alternatively, if Joe Biden wins, how will the Conservative side of America react? Will they all go home and wait for what the DNC has in store for them, or will their reaction be pro-active? I know which reaction I would see them lean towards.

You have these two sides in society who appear further apart than even Moses could have hoped to bring back together again, you have the media who thrive on widening that divide even further, it’s a scary picture.

 

And in the meantime, while everyone’s busy blaming each other, who’s going to take care of the country?

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the publishing process. Which seems only fair and just.

Thank you.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 022020
 


London 1877

 

It’s The Healthcare System, Stupid (Thomas Frank)
‘Brain Fog’ To Heart Damage, COVID19’s Lingering Problems (AAAS)
The Protein Expression Profile Of ACE2 In Human Tissues (EMBO) span>
Red Sox Ace Rodríguez Out For Season With COVID-Related Heart Ailment (G.)
Obese People Are Twice As Likely To Die From COVID (ZH)
America’s Coin Shortage Is Getting Worse (ZH)
Obama Issues Private Warning About Trump Voters To Top Democratic Donors (LZ)
CIA Fabricated Russiagate ‘Evidence’ – Bill Binney (Zuesse)
Ten Years Since WikiLeaks Published The Afghan War Logs (WSWS)
US Seeks To Re-Arrest Julian Assange With New Extradition Request (Sky.au)
Former UC Global Staff Confirm Embassy Surveillance Against Julian Assange (CW)
‘Apocalyptic’ Sky Sounds During Lockdown Baffle Experts (G.)

 

 

A few medical reports today on the brain and heart damage that’s being diagnosed increasingly. The medical community appears to have seriously dropped the ball when they all focused on lungs and the respiratory system. That’s just part of what’s happening.

 

 

“Moderate” or moderating numbers. We would love to see this trend continue. But it’s the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puppy mask

 

 

In favor of the original populism. From Le Monde Diplomatique.

It’s The Healthcare System, Stupid (Thomas Frank)

Unfortunately, it’s all a mistake. Donald Trump’s prodigious stupidity is not the sole cause of our crushing national failure to beat the coronavirus. Plenty of blame must also go to our screwed-up healthcare system, which scorns the very idea of public health and treats access to medical care as a private luxury that is rightfully available only to some. It is the healthcare system, not Trump, that routinely denies people treatment if they lack insurance; that bankrupts people for ordinary therapies; that strips people of their coverage when they lose their jobs — and millions of people are losing their jobs in this pandemic. It is the healthcare system that, when a Covid treatment finally arrives, will almost certainly charge Americans a hefty price to receive it.

And that system is the way it is because organised medicine has for almost a century used the prestige of expertise to keep it that way. Populism, meanwhile, was the reform impulse that tried (and failed) to change the system so that it served ordinary people. Which is to say that the pundits and the scholars and the thinktankers in their grave solemnity have got it entirely backward. Bowing down before expertise is precisely what has made public health an impossible dream. And the populism that our pundits so hate and fear is, in fact, the cure for what ails us. Who was a populist? Begin with the word. The term ‘Populist’ was coined in Kansas in 1891 to describe members of a brand-new American farmer-labour party who demanded a modern currency, a war on monopoly, and the nationalisation of the railroads.

The movement caught fire, and the people who called themselves Populists seemed poised to succeed at first. Instead, their party fizzled out by the end of that decade. Still, Populism’s influence lived on for decades; its ideas can be traced through the American Socialist Party, the New Deal of the 1930s and 40s, and the Bernie Sanders campaigns of 2016 and 2020. The rise and fall of the American Populists — again, the people who invented the word — has long been a favourite subject of romantically inclined historians. The Populist party’s principles and its leading figures are well known to scholars and are the subject of many books. A curious fact that is repeated often in those books: the Populists were not opponents of science or learning.

On the contrary: Populists produced homages to technology and scholarship and education that were so earnest and ornate that they are embarrassing to read today. They thought their own ideas about regulation and the welfare state were in full alignment with the scientific advances of the late 19th century. At the same time, the Pops fought endlessly with the business and academic elites of their day — experts who regarded the established order as the work of God. Populists regarded all special privilege with suspicion, including the prestige that props up the professional class. [..] The Populist way of looking at things was radically democratic: the people came first. The correct role of experts, the original Populists thought, was to serve and inform the people as they went about their lives as citizens of a democracy.

The original Populist movement didn’t have much to say about healthcare policy. In the 1890s, American medicine had not yet hardened into the supremely costly bureaucratic labyrinth we know today. But as the price of medicine grew out of reach in the decades that followed, farmers and unions and charities proposed all kinds of alternative, more democratic arrangements, and always with the same aim: to make healthcare an affordable part of life for ordinary, working-class people.

Read more …

People who can’t think straight months after being discharged. A baseball starting pitcher whose season is gone because of heart inflammation.

‘Brain Fog’ To Heart Damage, COVID19’s Lingering Problems (AAAS)

By now it’s clear that many people with COVID-19 severe enough to put them in a hospital face a long recovery. The virus ravages the heart, for example, in multiple ways. Direct invasion of heart cells can damage or destroy them. Massive inflammation can affect cardiac function. The virus can blunt the function of ACE2 receptors, which normally help protect heart cells and degrade angiotensin II, a hormone that increases blood pressure. Stress on the body from fighting the virus can prompt release of adrenaline and epinephrine, which can also “have a deleterious effect on the heart,” says Raul Mitrani, a cardiac electrophysiologist at the University of Miami who collaborates with Goldberger.


Many people the pair has seen with heart complications post–COVID-19 had preexisting conditions, most commonly diabetes and hypertension. COVID-19, Goldberger suspects, tips them into more hazardous terrain or accelerates the onset of heart problems that, absent the coronavirus, might have developed later. But other patients are affected without apparent risk factors: A paper this week in JAMA Cardiology found that 78 of 100 people diagnosed with COVID-19 had cardiac abnormalities when their heart was imaged on average 10 weeks later, most often inflammation in heart muscle. Many of the participants in that study were previously healthy, and some even caught the virus while on ski trips, according to the authors.

Severe lung scarring appears less common than feared—Gholamrezanezhad knows of only one recovered patient who still needs oxygen at rest. Scarring seems most likely to accompany underlying lung disease, hypertension, obesity, and other conditions. Lung damage is also seen in people who spend weeks on a ventilator. Gholamrezanezhad suspects that, as with harm to the heart, previously healthy people are not exempt from the virus’ long-term effects on the lungs, though their risk is likely lower.

[..] Then there’s the nervous system, a worrying target. Severe complications seem relatively rare but aren’t limited to those whom the virus renders critically ill. Brown, Zandi, and colleagues described 43 people with neurologic complications this month in Brain; many had been hospitalized during their acute infection, but not always for long—and for some, neurologic problems were their most debilitating symptom and the reason for hospital admission. Several were struggling to recover from encephalitis. Others had inflammation in their brain’s white matter, which helps transmit electrical signals.

Separately, doctors are starting to see a class of patients who, like Akrami, struggle to think clearly—another outcome physicians have come upon in the past. After some severe viral infections, there are “those people who still don’t feel quite right afterward, but have normal brain scans,” Brown says. Some neurologists and patients describe the phenomenon as “brain fog.” It’s largely a mystery, though one theory suggests it’s similar to a “postviral fatigue related to inflammation in the body,” Brown says.

Read more …

“..mainly observed in enterocytes, renal tubules, gallbladder, cardiomyocytes, male reproductive cells, placental trophoblasts, ductal cells, eye, and vasculature..”

The Protein Expression Profile Of ACE2 In Human Tissues (EMBO)

The novel SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS CoV 2) poses a global challenge on healthcare and society. For understanding the susceptibility for SARS CoV 2 infection, the cell type specific expression of the host cell surface receptor is necessary. The key protein suggested to be involved in host cell entry is angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Here, we report the expression pattern of ACE2 across > 150 different cell types corresponding to all major human tissues and organs based on stringent immunohistochemical analysis. The results were compared with several datasets both on the mRNA and protein level.


ACE2 expression was mainly observed in enterocytes, renal tubules, gallbladder, cardiomyocytes, male reproductive cells, placental trophoblasts, ductal cells, eye, and vasculature. In the respiratory system, the expression was limited, with no or only low expression in a subset of cells in a few individuals, observed by one antibody only. Our data constitute an important resource for further studies on SARS CoV 2 host cell entry, in order to understand the biology of the disease and to aid in the development of effective treatments to the viral infection.

Read more …

Eduardo Rodríguez is a prominent example of what the research above warns about. And he’s a young fit top athlete.

Red Sox Ace Rodríguez Out For Season With COVID-Related Heart Ailment (G.)

Boston Red Sox ace Eduardo Rodríguez will miss the rest of the 2020 season as he recovers from a heart issue the team believes is related to the pitcher’s recent battle with the coronavirus. The 27-year-old left-hander, the team’s presumptive No 1 starter who had been expected to start on opening day before he was sidelined, has been diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart that has been found at a high rate in recovered coronavirus patients. Rodríguez tested positive for the virus before flying to Boston for an abbreviated training camp in early July, describing symptoms including headaches, nausea and a high fever. After recovering and joining the club, he was diagnosed with the temporary ailment.


“We are confident that he’s going to make a full recovery and that his longterm prognosis is excellent, but the fact of the matter is there’s just just not enough time left this season to safely ramp him back up to pitching,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said. Rodriguez had said last Sunday that his doctors told him that 10-20% of people who have had Covid-19 also have been diagnosed with myocarditis. “That’s the most important part of your body, so when you hear that, the first time I hear it was kind of scared a little,’’ Rodriguez said. “Now that I know what it is, it’s still scary, but I know exactly what it is. Just talk to my mom, talk to my wife, they know what I have and everything. Now we just gotta take the rest. That’s hard, but you gotta take a rest.”

Read more …

Shed some pounds. Get fit(ter).

Obese People Are Twice As Likely To Die From COVID (ZH)

Just in case Americans – the most obese nation in the world – needed another reason to lose some weight, here it is. In what is emerging as a perfidious Catch 22, at a time when the US population is rapidly gaining weight due to mandatory work from home regulation (hence the Covid 19 pounds) as described here and here, while a surge in domestic alcohol consumption is only making the matters worse… Public Health England has published a paper titled “Excess Weight and COVID-19 Insights from new evidence”, indicating that the risks of hospitalization, intensive care treatment and death increase progressively with increasing body mass index (BMI) above the healthy weight range even after adjustment for potential confounding factors, including demographic and socioeconomic factors. In other words, the fatter one is, the higher the risk that person may die from covid.


Some more details: according to the Public Health England paper, the hazard ratios of ICU admission patients who are overweight (BMI ≥25-29.9), obese (BMI ≥30-34.9) or severely obese (BMI ≥35) are 1.64, 2.59 and 4.35, respectively see figure below) relative to patients with a BMI of ≥20-24.9. The study also showed an increasing risk of death with increasing BMI with hazard ratios of 1.05, 1.40 and 1.92 for people with a BMI of 30-34, 35-39.9 and ≥40, respectively, relative to BMI <30. In a nutshell, people who are severely obese are twice as likely to die from Covid. Which, in a world where facts could be discussed instead of dismissed and slammed as “racist”, would mean that certain races and genders are especially at risk. However, because charts like the one below are racist, it’s best to wallow in ignorance and accuse white people for what is taking place.

Read more …

The Fed can’t do its laundry anymore.

America’s Coin Shortage Is Getting Worse (ZH)

The nation’s coin shortage, prompted by less cash circulating as a result of Covid-19 – is getting worse. And believe it or not, cash is still being used in 49% of payments that are $10 or below, according to a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, reported on by Bloomberg. The irony of the situation lies in the fact that the Fed can print trillions for bonds, but can’t come up with a couple of quarters to do its laundry. Despite the Fed’s best efforts to keep money circulating, there is still a coin shortage in the U.S. The effects are being felt in places like laundromats, where coins are used to do laundry. Brian Wallace, president and CEO of the Coin Laundry Association (we swear this is an actual organization), said: “This is just an unexpected wrench in the works that I don’t think any of us could have anticipated, finding ourselves short on quarters.”

Only about 20% of laundromats offer a card option and 27% accept credit cards. In other words, most laundromats still rely on coins to do business. “The people that show up to the laundromat each weekend are there for a purpose. It’s an essential service. Anything that impedes that progress certainly impacts tens of millions of families that use vended laundry each week,” Wallace continued. Coinstar, which processed $2.7 billion worth of coins last year, collects an 11.9% fee from customers. The company has said its business has decreased during the lockdown, but it is now starting to see a slight bounce back. And despite operating in Japan, Canada, Italy, and several other European countries, it hasn’t seen the same issues outside the U.S. “There’s something unique about the U.S. that we can’t figure out why this has come to this crisis,” says Jim Gaherity, chief executive officer of Coinstar.

“I don’t refer to it as a shortage, I refer to it as ‘We don’t have coin moving.’ It’s there, it’s just not in the right place.” Jerome Powell said in June that the shortage would be temporary, while at the same time U.S. mints spool up more production. The Fed has, in the interim, put together a “coin task force” to liaise with companies like Coinstar to help come up with solutions. Organizations like the Coin Laundry Association have suggested the Fed distributing additional coins and prioritizing to “consumer businesses in the essential critical infrastructure workforce.” Banks and businesses are also offering premiums and deals for turning in your coins. One Wisconsin bank is offering a $5 bonus for every $100 worth of coins that are turned in. Recall, days ago, we wrote that Chick-Fil-A was giving away free food to customers who paid in coins.

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Obama’s own side has this problem. They operate solely in their echo chamber. The people getting their information from the MSM get zero info from anywhere else. So who is the threat to democracy around here? An individual’s answer to that question can be precisely predicted once you know where (s)he gets her “news”.

Obama Issues Private Warning About Trump Voters To Top Democratic Donors (LZ)

Barack Obama has reportedly just warned top Democratic donors that this election is far from a lock for Joe Biden because President Donald Trump’s voters are “glued” to rightwing outlets like Fox News and Breitbart News. Over the past two months, Obama has raised $24 million for Biden by having conversations with people like LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, actor George Clooney, as well as with top party leaders, according to The New York Times. Donors who have paid six-figure sums have been given the opportunity to watch these conversations on Zoom. In these talks, Obama claimed that because the mainstream media doesn’t reach some Trump supporters, they can filter “out any contradictory information” by getting their news from Breitbart News, Fox News, and Rush Limbaugh.


“It’s just glued to Fox News and Breitbart and Limbaugh and just this conservative echo chamber — and so, they’re going to turn out to vote,” Obama reportedly said in a discussion with Illinois Democrat Governor J.B. Pritzker. “What he has unleashed and what he continues to try to tap into is the fears and anger and resentment of people who, in some cases, really are having a tough time and have seen their prospects, or communities where they left, declining. And Trump tries to tap into that and redirect in nativist, racist, sexist ways.” The Times reported that Obama also has said that he sees Trump as a threat to American democracy, “even making an oblique reference to Nazi Germany” during one of the conversations.

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The former US intelligence technical specialists are still being silenced. Very effectively. Binney’s message: nothing was hacked.

CIA Fabricated Russiagate ‘Evidence’ – Bill Binney (Zuesse)

An important public statement was made on July 27th by Bill Binney, the U.S. Government’s top expert on the internet, and on computer hacking. He had been the Technical Director of the NSA when he quit and became a whistleblower against that Agency while George W. Bush was the U.S. President and invaded Iraq on the basis of faked evidence. Binney has now laid out, in this speech, the evidence that he wants to present in court against Barack Obama’s CIA, that it defrauded Americans to believe in “Russiagate” (the allegation that Russia ‘hacked’ the computers of Hillary Clinton and Democratic Party officials and fed that information to Wikileaks and other organizations). Binney cites evidence, which, if true, conclusively proves that Russiagate was actually created fraudulently by the CIA’s extensive evidence-tampering, which subsequently became covered-up by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in his investigations for the Democratic Party’s first (and failed) try at impeaching and removing from office U.S. President Donald J. Trump.


[..] NOTE: This news-report was submitted, in advance, to each of the following 40 mainstream news-media, offering it as an exclusive, to: ABC, BBC, CBS, FNC, NBC, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Guardian, McClatchy, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Nation, The Spectator, The New Republic, Time, The Week, Progressive, Jacobin, New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Economist, National Interest, Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, Salon, Slate, Business Insider, Politico, The Hill, The Gray Zone, The Intercept, The Daily Beast, Vice, Spiked, Bloomberg, Truthdig, Truthout, Vox, Common Dreams. None accepted it. None of them wanted their audience to see it. So, this article is now being submitted for publication, free of charge, to all English language (and a few other) news-media, simply in order to make known to as many of the public as possible, the information that it contains.

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Can you even imagine the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel cooperating with Assange today? It’s only been ten years. The narrative has (been) solidified enormously.

Ten Years Since WikiLeaks Published The Afghan War Logs (WSWS)

Last Saturday marked ten years since WikiLeaks published the Afghan war logs, a vast trove of leaked US military documents, which provided an unprecedented insight into the criminality of a war that has become the longest in American history. The documents were released, with commentary, analysis and contextual material, in partnership with the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel, some three months after WikiLeaks published “Collateral Murder,” the infamous video showing a 2007 US army massacre of civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in Iraq. Taken together, the exposures had an immense impact on popular consciousness, fortifying and deepening the mass anti-war sentiment first revealed in the huge international protests against the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Significantly, the 2010 releases by WikiLeaks followed the suppression of that movement by upper middle-class pseudo-left groups. They had increasingly dispensed with opposition to imperialist war as they supported the 2008 election of Barack Obama, and aligned with other militarist parties of the ruling elite, such as the Labor Party in Australia. The Afghan logs particularly exposed the claims of innumerable liberal pundits that the occupation of that country was the “good war,” supposedly waged to defeat terrorism, extend democracy and protect women’s rights. This they contrasted with the “failed” operation in Iraq. This dovetailed with the agenda of the new US administration. Obama’s phony anti-war posturing during the 2008 election had been accompanied by plans for a massive surge in Afghanistan.

The mythmaking was facilitated by the suppression of any information about the real situation on the ground by the US, its allies and a pliant corporate media. WikiLeaks lifted the veil on the lies, revealing a neo-colonial occupation aimed at looting natural resources and securing control of the geo-strategically critical Central Asian region. Mass civilian killings, widespread popular opposition and demoralisation within US army ranks all came to the surface, more fully than they had in the nine years since the US invasion. The publication was based on 91,000 US army logs covering the period of January 2004 to December 2009, provided to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, who had access to the material as a military intelligence analyst.

Indicating the extent of corporate media integration into the military, Manning only turned the material over to WikiLeaks after her attempts to contact the New York Times and the Washington Post were ignored. In releasing the material, WikiLeaks publisher and then editor-in-chief Julian Assange described it as “the most comprehensive history of a war ever to be published, during the course of the war.” Unlike the corporate hacks, who seek to hide their alignment with imperialist war behind a mask of impartiality, Assange was unapologetically partisan. The documents suggested thousands of war crimes, he stated, and their release would serve to shift public opinion. “The most dangerous men are those who are in charge of war. And they need to be stopped,” he said.

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“If Julian is freed and rearrested simultaneously then we will sue for false imprisonment and malicious torture..”

US Seeks To Re-Arrest Julian Assange With New Extradition Request (Sky.au)

Julian Assange’s lawyers have suggested the WikiLeaks founder may soon be re-arrested in London after a new extradition request citing the same 18 offences, according to Sky News host Brent O’Halloran. American authorities are seeking to have Mr Assange, who is currently imprisoned in England, sent to the United States to face trial for charges relating to WikiLeaks publication of troves of confidential information. The WikiLeaks organisation has published a number of classified documents detailing mistreatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees and Democratic national committee emails showing the party was trying to rig the 2016 primaries for Hillary Clinton.


His lawyers, supporters and free press advocates argue Mr Assange is being prosecuted for exposing wrongdoing and the whole case sets a dangerous precedent, Mr O’Halloran said. Mr Assange’s father, John Shipton told Sky News the prison conditions in which his son was being kept were “farcical and dire”. “If Julian is freed and rearrested simultaneously then we will sue for false imprisonment and malicious torture,” he said.

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Wonder what the Spnish judge will conclude, and what will come of it.

Former UC Global Staff Confirm Embassy Surveillance Against Julian Assange (CW)

The Spanish National Court, Audiencia Nacional, this week heard testimony from four former employees of a company that provided security services to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London when it offered sanctuary to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The court in Madrid is investigating whether Undercover Global SL and its owner, David Morales Guillén, secretly recorded meetings between Assange and his visitors during the seven years he spent in the Ecuadorian Embassy. One of the victims of the operation is the former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. Court documents show that UC Global staff secretly photographed Correa at a meeting at Spain’s Adolfo Suárez-Barajas Airport. Correa claims the mobile phones of his family were hacked.

The court is investigating whether UC Global breached the privacy rights of journalists, politicians, diplomats, doctors and celebrities who visited Assange during his stay at the Embassy. Aitor Martínez Jiménez, a member of Assange’s Spanish legal team, said the four UC Global staff had confirmed email evidence already presented to the court that detailed the surveillance operation. “They have confirmed what we had said, that the cameras recorded audios, that they kept the hard drives with the recordings, that when there were sensitive visits, they were asked for the recordings,” said Martínez Jiménez. “And they took the documentation of the people who visited Assange.”

UC Global’s spying operation came to light in April 2019 when the Spanish newspaper El País revealed that the security company that monitored Assange until 2017 had installed surveillance cameras equipped with microphones and compiled reports on hundreds of people who visited Assange during his exile.

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More high class journalism from the Guardian. it’s what we count on from them.

‘Apocalyptic’ Sky Sounds During Lockdown Baffle Experts (G.)

During the months of lockdown, people have heard and recorded strange sounds seemingly emanating from the sky. Some believe these are celestial trumpets heralding the apocalypse; there may be other explanations. The sounds – heard in the US, Mexico, Slovakia, Italy, Brazil and Argentina – do not seem to correspond to angelic heralds. Some resembled aircraft noises when there were no planes flying. A sound in Bratislava was described as “Darth Vader breathing”, while a recording from Colorado was like a shrieking whistle. Another recorded over several evenings at Lake Garda was more of a vibration. No single scientific cause has been suggested, and the wide variety points to multiple causes.


The lack of human noise during lockdown has made people more aware of background meteorological sounds, from wind to distant thunder. Refraction carries sound for long distances over lakes at night, sound previously masked by traffic and other activity. Some cases may be manifestations of the enigmatic “global hum” heard in many places previously but never satisfactorily explained. A snowball effect means that when one person reports a “new” sound, others listen out and notice it too. Many of these may not be new at all. However, any reports of hail mixed with blood and fire, may mean the celestial trumpet theory needs to be revisited.


The seven angels with seven trumpets: detail from the 11th-century Bamberg Apocalypse manuscript. Photograph: The Picture Art Collection/Alamy

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Jul 272020
 


Opening of Golden Gate Bridge May 27 1937

 

$1,200 Stimulus Check, Eviction Moratorium, and Reduced Unemployment Aid (ZH)
Gold Soars To All-Time High As Dollar Dive Boosts Safety Rush (R.)
Lockdown Has Made The Nation Happier – Study (Ind.)
Vietnam Orders Evacuation Of 80,000 People After Three Test Positive (Ind.)
Spain’s COVID19 Death Toll Could Be 60% Higher Than Reported – El Pais (RT)
The $52 Trillion Bubble That Has “Hijacked China’s Economy”
Britain Unveils Plans To Tackle ‘Obesity Time Bomb’ (R.)
Riots Are Driving Portland’s Small Businesses Under (RT)
Biden Campaign Declines ‘Fox News Sunday’ Interview (Fox)
More Willful Blindness By The Media On Spying By Obama Administration (Turley)

 

 

Don’t know why, is it because it’s Monday, or because I worked hard all weekend, but I had a bit of a hard time finding things today that I found interesting. That was mostly made up for when I saw these headlines in Britain’s Independent newspaper: “Lockdown Has Made The Nation Happier” and “Lockdown Took Away My Freedom But Set Me Free Spiritually”. That is genius. Especially when followed by the news that Vietnam is evacuating 80,000 people from Danang because three were infected. That’s 80,000 people about to be happier.

Plus more news that the dollar is diving. Nor sure against what. I still think it’s gold that is rising, not the other way around. One look at gold vs euro confirms it. But that’s just me. Then again, sure, there’s tons of people betting against the dollar right now. That doesn’t mean it’s smart bet, though.

 

And as I write this, there’s another Assange circus “trial” happening. Intensely sad.

 

 

Substantial declines in new cases for both the world and the US. I just wish I could be a bit happier about them, but it was only a Sunday yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power, not people. From both sides. Down to the wire it is.

$1,200 Stimulus Check, Eviction Moratorium, and Reduced Unemployment Aid (ZH)

With the Trump Treasury sitting on $1.8 trillion and three months to spend it, the White House and Senate Republicans are set to introduce a $1 trillion spending bill on Monday which would be released in stages – angering Democrats who are pushing for an immediate, $3 trillion shotgun blast of stimulus. Speaking with ABC’s “This Week,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said “I see us being able to provide unemployment insurance, maybe a retention credit, to keep people from being displaced or brought back into the workplace, helping with our schools,” adding “we can negotiate on the rest of the bill in the weeks to come.” “The Trump administration opposes an extension of a $600-a-week enhanced unemployment payment that expired this month, Mnuchin and Meadows said.

Instead, White House officials favor a plan to reimburse an individual’s lost wages or salary by up to 70%”, said Mnuchin and Meadows.” -Newsday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) popped a fuse at the GOP proposal, blaming Republicans for waiting too long to negotiate for more relief after House Democrats passed a fifth, $3 trillion relief bill which would have included immediate aid to state and local governments, expanded testing and contact tracing for COVID-19. Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Pelosi said that Republicans are “in disarray and that delay is causing suffering for America’s families. So we have been ready for two months and 10 days. I’ve been here all weekend hoping they had something to give us.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, says the White House is “prepared to act quickly.” We bet they are.

Mnuchin added that unemployment benefits would be extended, while schools and universities would receive protection against “frivolous” lawsuits – part of overall GOP support for protections that would also include corporations. “Within the trillion-dollar package, there’s certain things that have time frames that are a bigger priority, so we could look at doing an entire deal, we could also look at doing parts,” said Mnuchin, adding that he would push for a “technical fix” to unemployment insurance after many have criticized the $600 weekly benefit as being too high, and a disincentive to searching for a job.

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Oh wait, I covered this yesterday. This morning, gold rises about as much vs the euro as vs the USD. So what is the dollar “diving” against other than gold and silver?

Gold Soars To All-Time High As Dollar Dive Boosts Safety Rush (R.)

Gold surged to record highs on Monday as an intensifying U.S.-China row and a weaker dollar sent investors scurrying to the safety of bullion to hedge against the risks to a global economy already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. Spot gold rose 1.6% to $1,931.50 per ounce by 0627 GMT after hitting a record high of $1,943.93. U.S. gold futures gained 1.6% to $1,927.50. Silver too joined the rally, jumping more than 6% to $24.36, its highest since September 2013. Gold is in “perfect condition to move higher,” said ANZ commodity strategist Soni Kumari, amid the virus crisis and central banks pushing for liquidity.


“Further support is also coming from falling yields, weaker dollar and geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China. The safe-haven demand (for gold) has been rising while there is none for USD anymore.” The dollar fell to a near two-year low on increased bets the U.S. Federal Reserve could flag another accommodative policy shift when it meets this week, implying lower interest rates for longer. China seized the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, retaliating to the closure of its own consulate in Houston. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases surged to over 16.13 million globally, driving expectations of more stimulus to stem the economic blow. “As long as the (virus) situation gets worse, the market is discounting more stimulus for a longer period of time and in bigger quantities,” said Edward Meir, analyst at ED&F Man Capital Markets.

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Brilliant. Evokes the image of a guy pointing a gun at your forehead saying: I’m here to make you happy.

The Independent today also runs a story entitled “Lockdown Took Away My Freedom But Set Me Free Spiritually”. Just so you know.

Wonder what this pays.

Lockdown Has Made The Nation Happier – Study (Ind.)

Lockdown helped to restore people’s happiness after national levels fell when the pandemic began, new research suggests. According to a study by Cambridge University’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy, the number of Britons self-reporting as “happy” halved in just three weeks at the start of lockdown. Using data taken from YouGov Weekly Mood Tracker surveys and Google searches, the researchers found that the number of people declaring themselves as “happy” went from 51 per cent just before the UK’s first Covid-19 fatality to 25 per cent by the time lockdown began on 23 March. However, once lockdown restrictions started to be lifted, these figures reversed, with happiness levels increasing back to close to what they were pre-pandemic, reaching 47 per cent by the end of May.


The study also identified a distinction between life satisfaction among social groups, with those in wealthy categories experiencing a decline while the most deprived groups reported a relative rise in life satisfaction. Dr Roberto Foa, from Cambridge’s Department of Politics and International Studies and director of the YouGov-Cambridge Centre for Public Opinion Research, commented: “It was the pandemic, not the lockdown, that depressed people’s wellbeing. “Mental health concerns are often cited as a reason to avoid lockdown. “In fact, when combined with employment and income support, lockdown may be the single most effective action a government can take during a pandemic to maintain psychological welfare.”

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And here’s 80,000 more and happier Vietnamese.

Vietnam Orders Evacuation Of 80,000 People After Three Test Positive (Ind.)

Vietnam has ordered the evacuation of 80,000 people from the coastal city of Danang after three residents there tested positive for coronavirus. The government said the evacuation would take four days and involve flights chartered to 11 different Vietnamese cities. Vietnam, which has been praised for its pandemic response after reporting just 400 cases and no deaths, went back on high alert at the weekend as it confirmed its first local infections since April, all in the popular tourism destination of Danang. An aggressive and widespread testing regime plus a strict quarantine had helped the South-East Asian nation almost eradicate Covid-19 within its borders, but the authorities are now grappling with its first internal infections for months. Although foreign tourists are still barred from entering the country, there has been a surge of domestic travel as the Vietnamese take advantage of discounted flights and hotel deals.


Anyone who had recently returned home from a break in Danang would be required to quarantine at home for 14 days, the health ministry has said. In addition, the prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has also ordered police to step up a crackdown on illegal immigration. It is not clear if the new Danang cases are connected to people entering Vietnam secretly but Vietnamese state media said on Sunday police had arrested a Chinese man accused of running a gang which smuggled people into the country from China. On Monday, the government announced more than 1,500 people had been caught illegally crossing the border from China into Ha Giang province in Vietnam since May. Most of those caught were Vietnamese citizens and had been sent into quarantine.

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Probably true in many places.

Spain’s COVID19 Death Toll Could Be 60% Higher Than Reported – El Pais (RT)

Spain’s Covid-19 death toll could be off by 60 percent, according to calculations by the country’s leading newspaper, El Pais, which suggest Spain has the second-highest number of deaths in Europe after the UK. An El Pais investigation published on Sunday found that the official figure of 28,432 deaths is likely far less than the true number of people who have died with the virus. Spain’s official death toll only includes people who had a confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis, and not those who were suspected of having it but were never tested. El Pais looked at regional statistics on all suspected and confirmed deaths from the virus and concluded that 44,868 people died with Covid-19.


This figure is close to the number of excess deaths recorded by the National Epidemiology Centre and National Statistics Centre (INE) in June. It found that there were 43,945 more deaths between January and May 2020 than the previous year. The Spanish Association of Professionals and Funeral Services and the Carlos III Health Institute also calculated similar excess mortality figures during this time. If El Pais’ figures are accurate, it would mean that Spain has seen the second most deadly outbreak in Europe after the UK, which has recorded over 45,000 deaths. There was a lack of widespread testing carried at the beginning of the outbreak, which might explain the discrepancy with the official figures. At the end of May, the country lowered its death toll by 2,000 as a result of duplicate records and some regions reporting suspected cases as confirmed cases.

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All our money on one horse.

The $52 Trillion Bubble That Has “Hijacked China’s Economy”

More than three years ago, we explained why “the fate of the world economy is in the hands of China’s housing bubble.” As we said at the time, “China has always been a serial bubble inflator courtesy of a closed (capital account) economy, and nearly $30 trillion in bank deposits [$40 trillion as of July 2020] which slosh from one asset class to another, be it the stock market, bitcoin, commodities, farm animals or – most often – housing. ” Why is it so important for China to consistently reflate this bubble? The answer is simple: for China’s middle class there is no more important asset than housing: as Deutsche’s Zhiewi Zhang wrote in 2017 when discussing the macro and market consequences of the Chinese bubble, it is nothing more (or less) than “a massive wealth effect.”


Furthermore, unlike the US, which is hyperfinancialized and the bulk of household net worth is in financial assets (less than 30% is in real estate), in China it is the opposite, and roughly three-quarters of all household worth is in real estate. And since a global healthy economy starts with a growing, stable and inflating Chinese economy, unless China’s housing bubble is growing at a steady, measured pace created a “wealth effect” illusion among several hundred million middle-class Chinese, we concluded three years ago that the global economy is just as reliant on China’s housing market as it is on the global – and certainly US – stock market. Fast forward a little over three years, when China’s housing bubble is bigger than ever, and now the WSJ has picked up on what we said three years ago, namely that China’s epic housing market is perhaps the world’s most defining bubble, and more importantly, not even the covid pandemic did anything to threaten the sanctity of this bubble.

First, some context why China’s housing bubble currently eclipses the one in U.S. housing in the 2000s: “At the peak of the U.S. property boom, about $900 billion a year was being invested in residential real estate. In the 12 months ended in June, about $1.4 trillion was invested in Chinese housing. More was invested last month in Chinese real estate than any other month on record.” Some more statistics: “the total value of Chinese homes and developers’ inventory hit $52 trillion in 2019, according to Goldman Sachs, twice the size of the U.S. residential market and outstripping even the entire U.S. bond market.” China’s housing market is certainly bigger than the US stock market, and at its current growth rate will surpass the total value of all global stocks (which is currently about $85 trillion) in just a few years!

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He’ll be forever known as Fat Boris now.

Britain Unveils Plans To Tackle ‘Obesity Time Bomb’ (R.)

Britain unveiled plans to tackle an “obesity time bomb” on Monday, banning TV and online adverts for junk food before 9.00 p.m., ending “buy one get one free” deals on such foods and putting calories on menus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has lost weight since he was in intensive care with COVID-19, wants to tackle obesity after research showed those who are obese or overweight are at increased risk of death or severe illness from the coronavirus. Last month, he said Britain was fatter than most European countries apart from Malta and his government described “tackling the obesity time bomb” as a priority.

Ditching his earlier stance as a non-believer of “nannying” politics, his government is announcing a new drive to help people to “take control of their own future by losing weight, getting active and adopting a healthier lifestyle”. Alongside the ban on adverts before 9.00 p.m. (2000 GMT), on food deals and plans for the calorific content of meals to be displayed on menus, the government will also launch a consultation on displaying calories on alcohol. “Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier,” Johnson said in a statement. “If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus – as well as taking pressure off the NHS (National Health Service).”

With more than 60% of adults in Britain considered overweight or obese, according to Public Health England, the coronavirus crisis has put the obesity issue at the forefront of the government’s thinking, with a “Better Health” campaign being launched alongside the new measures.

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Thought experiment: imagine this happening in a French or German city. How do you think their governments would react?

Riots Are Driving Portland’s Small Businesses Under (RT)

After nearly 60 straight nights of violence, business owners in Portland are sick and tired of riots. But as their stores go under, the coastal media treats the rioters to glowing coverage and city authorities do nothing. Portland is a liberal stronghold, and as ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests fizzle out around the country, anger remains at boiling point in the Oregonian city. The protests there have not been all banner-waving and slogan-chanting affairs though. Instead, droves of ‘Antifa’ types have laid siege to the city’s Justice Center for almost two months, tearing down barricades, lobbing fireworks, setting fires and stabbing each other.

Most of those involved in the riots would probably say they’re fighting police brutality or fascism, or something of the sort, but besides those injured in that fight there are other victims of the unrest – local business owners have repeatedly complained about the riots to the local media. In articles published every few days, these store owners, barmen and restaurateurs describe how the riots have driven them to the brink of bankruptcy. One clothing store manager told Oregon Live on Saturday that within days of coronavirus restrictions being lifted, he reopened his family’s store, only to watch rioters trash the premises in late May, days after the killing of George Floyd kicked off the season of unrest.

[..] While local news tells tales of shuttered stores and bankrupt businesses, national media outlets describe the violence in Portland as a good v evil showdown between protesters and federal “stormtroopers.” As store owners told their stories to local media, the New York Times ran an article last week celebrating the “diverse elements” taking part in the protests. The “mothers in helmets,” and “anti-fascist activists” are “largely peaceful,” the paper wrote, describing how they have been “galvanized” by the “militarized” feds on the streets. The Washington Post was even more effusive in its praise, describing the feds’ use of tear gas as a “chemical weapon,” and honoring the moms, dads, teachers and healthcare workers who refuse to disperse and willingly stride into the choking fumes. The motives of the protesters – beyond vague demands for “racial justice” – are never explained, but the Post painted a truly heroic image of one man using a leaf blower to fire gas back at the agents.

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For now, the basement is winning. So why change?

Biden Campaign Declines ‘Fox News Sunday’ Interview (Fox)

During his interview with Chris Wallace last week, President Trump questioned whether the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, Joe Biden, could handle the barrage of questioning that Wallace posed to Trump. The answer to that question – at least for now – we may never know. Wallace on Sunday informed viewers that the Biden campaign told Fox News he was “not available” for an interview. “In our interview last week with President Trump, he questioned whether his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, could handle a similar encounter,” Wallace said. “This week, we asked the Biden campaign for an interview and they said the former vice president was not available.” He added, “We’ll keep asking every week.”


The Trump campaign has hit Biden for months for abstaining from holding rallies and news conferences while continuing to do interviews amid the coronavirus pandemic. While Biden recently has returned to the stump, Trump and his allies continued to mock the former vice president for “hiding” in his home in Delaware. Biden’s reticence to do public events, however, has done little to hurt his candidacy as the latest polls had Biden comfortably ahead of Trump both nationally and in key battleground states.

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Wondering how the MSM will cover future indictments, subpoenas etc. Those will come.

More Willful Blindness By The Media On Spying By Obama Administration (Turley)

The Washington press corps seems engaged in a collective demonstration of the legal concept of willful blindness, or deliberately ignoring the facts, following the release of yet another declassified document which directly refutes prior statements about the investigation into Russia collusion. The document shows that FBI officials used a national security briefing of then candidate Donald Trump and his top aides to gather possible evidence for Crossfire Hurricane, its code name for the Russia investigation. It is astonishing that the media refuses to see what is one of the biggest stories in decades. The Obama administration targeted the campaign of the opposing party based on false evidence.

The media covered Obama administration officials ridiculing the suggestions of spying on the Trump campaign and of improper conduct with the Russia investigation. When Attorney General William Barr told the Senate last year that he believed spying did occur, he was lambasted in the media, including by James Comey and others involved in that investigation. The mocking “wow” response of the fired FBI director received extensive coverage. The new document shows that, in summer 2016, FBI agent Joe Pientka briefed Trump campaign advisers Michael Flynn and Chris Christie over national security issues, standard practice ahead of the election. It had a discussion of Russian interference. But this was different.

The document detailing the questions asked by Trump and his aides and their reactions was filed several days after that meeting under Crossfire Hurricane and Crossfire Razor, the FBI investigation of Flynn. The two FBI officials listed who approved the report are Kevin Clinesmith and Peter Strzok. Clinesmith is the former FBI lawyer responsible for the FISA surveillance conducted on members of the Trump campaign. He opposed Trump and sent an email after the election declaring “viva the resistance.” He is now under review for possible criminal charges for altering a FISA court filing. The FBI used Trump adviser Carter Page as the basis for the original FISA application, due to his contacts with Russians. After that surveillance was approved, however, federal officials discredited the collusion allegations and noted that Page was a CIA asset. Clinesmith had allegedly changed the information to state that Page was not working for the CIA.

Strzok is the FBI agent whose violation of FBI rules led Justice Department officials to refer him for possible criminal charges. Strzok did not hide his intense loathing of Trump and famously referenced an “insurance policy” if Trump were to win the election. After FBI officials concluded there was no evidence of any crime by Flynn at the end of 2016, Strzok prevented the closing of the investigation as FBI officials searched for any crime that might be used to charge the incoming national security adviser. Documents show Comey briefed President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on the investigation shortly before the inauguration of Trump.

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