Oct 102022
 


Paul Gauguin Clovis Gauguin asleep 1884

 

Massive Wave Of Missile Attacks Reported Across Ukraine (RT)
Europe To Feel Impact Of Energy Crisis For Decades – Kremlin (RT)
Trump Calls For ‘Immediate’ Ukraine Peace Talks (RT)
Global Margin Call Hits European Debt Markets (AT)
Nord Stream 2 Offers Germany a Date with Destiny (Escobar)
‘Unthinkable’ Number Of Mercenaries Gathered In Zaporozhye (RT)
German Army Has Ammo For Only Two Days Of War – Media (RT)
The Last Vestiges Of Press Freedom Disappear In Kiev (Sukharevskaya)
OPEC Move Balances ‘Chaos That The Americans Create’ – Kremlin (RT)
UK National Grid Warns Of 3-Hour Rolling Blackouts This Winter (ZH)
The EU is Forcing Twitter to Censor -and Musk Can’t Stop It- (Kogon)
White House Spending $265k On Staff To Deflect Hunter Biden Probe (NYP)
The Chilling Numbers That Reveal The Scale Of Joe Biden’s Border Disaster (NYP)
Is the US Blood Supply Tainted? (CHD)
Ex-Partner Of Ukrainian ‘Heiress’ Who Infiltrated Mar-a-Lago Shot In Canada (G.)

 

 

 

 

Tik Tok Kerch
https://twitter.com/i/status/1578864755334295552

 

 

 

 

Soros Ukraine

 

 

Are the kids OK? (Got McCullough banned from Twitter).

 

 

 

 

Peace talks. Now!

Massive Wave Of Missile Attacks Reported Across Ukraine (RT)

Multiple missile strikes targeted Ukrainian cities all across the country on Monday morning, according to local officials and media, which attributed the attacks to Russia. This comes two days after a bomb damaged the strategic Crimean Bridge – which Moscow called a Ukrainian terrorist attack. President Vladimir Zelensky highlighted the attacks on the capital, Kiev and the cities of Dnepr and Zaporozhye, before urging people to take shelter. Local officials in Lviv, Kharkov, and Odessa also reported that their cities came under fire. The office of Valery Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, reported they had detected at least 75 missiles and claimed they had intercepted 41.

ZELENSKY’S OFFICE WAS DESTROYED BY A MISSILE STRIKE: UKRAINIAN MEDIA

In Kiev, damage from the strikes was reported near the headquarters of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which is located in the government area of the capital. City officials halted operations of the metro system, and the stations are now being used as shelters for civilians. The head of Lviv Region, Maksim Kozitsky, reported that elements of the western province’s energy infrastructure came under attack. Boris Filatov, the mayor of Dnepr, a major city in central Ukraine, confirmed the strikes and said he could only feel “hatred and the wish to fight,” while urging residents to take shelter.

Vitaly Kim, who heads the southern Nikolaev Region which borders Russia’s Kherson Region, reported dozens of projectiles and a number of kamikaze drones coming from Russian troops. He claimed that Moscow was targeting “critical infrastructure” throughout the country. With similar accounts coming in from many parts of the country, senior Ukrainian officials have expressed determination to fight Russia. “Our courage will never be destroyed by terrorists’ missiles, even when they hit the heart of our capital,” Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov tweeted, also claiming that Russia’s future is that of “a globally despised rogue terrorist state.”

Gerashchenko later said that five civilians were killed and 12 injured in the capital. Strikes were also reported in the eastern city of Dnepr, and explosions in Lviv, western Ukraine. In a post on his Telegram channel, President Vladimir Zelensky confirmed that there had been missile strikes across Ukraine. “Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded,” he wrote.

Kiev explosions 10-10-22

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It’s not easy to rebuild what you lose.

Europe To Feel Impact Of Energy Crisis For Decades – Kremlin (RT)

Turning away from Russian energy will lead to “very deplorable consequences” for Europe, with up to 20 years of deindustrialization ahead, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has claimed. In an interview with the TV channel Rossiya, fragments of which were released on Sunday, Peskov claimed that the Americans are now making “crazy money” by selling gas to Europe at exorbitant prices. “And Europeans pay them, thereby depriving their economy of competitiveness. Production is collapsing. Deindustrialization is coming. All this will have very, very deplorable consequences for the European continent over probably, at least, the next 10-20 years,” Peskov said.

He emphasized that in the past, there was “a mutual balance,” as Russia was interested in buyers of its energy resources as much as they were interested in Russia. However, Peskov argued, Europe started to repeat “like a mantra” that it had to rid itself of its dependency on Russian energy, and this eventually resulted in the current situation. The Americans are selling gas at prices that are “three or even four” times higher than Russian gas, Peskov said, adding that “the Europeans are making their economy less competitive as they pay” such money to US suppliers. Gas prices in Europe surged earlier this year in the wake of Russia launching its military operation in Ukraine in late February.

After the EU and other Western countries imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow and began a campaign of cutting themselves off from Russian energy supplies, gas prices hit record highs, leading to a rise in overall inflation on the continent. Earlier this week, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo warned that the continent might soon face a significant reduction in industrial activity and social unrest if nothing is done to lower energy prices. Reuters, meanwhile, reported that the US is now delivering more natural gas to the EU than Russia for the first time in history, but that American gas was some ten times more expensive than Russian supplies.

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“We must demand the immediate negotiation of a peaceful end to the war in Ukraine, or we will end up in World War III and there will be nothing left of our planet..”

Trump Calls For ‘Immediate’ Ukraine Peace Talks (RT)

Former US President Donald Trump has warned that World War III could break out unless the conflict between Russia and Ukraine quickly ends with a peace settlement. He made the remarks while criticizing President Joe Biden’s foreign policy during a ‘Save America’ rally in Minden, Nevada on Saturday. “And now we have a war between Russia and Ukraine with potentially hundreds of thousands of people dying,” Trump said. “We must demand the immediate negotiation of a peaceful end to the war in Ukraine, or we will end up in World War III and there will be nothing left of our planet,” he stated, blasting the “stupid people” in Biden administration.

Trump has said on several occasions that the Ukraine conflict would not have happened had he been re-elected in 2020. Declaring a partial mobilization of reservists last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of risking a nuclear disaster by “encouraging” Ukrainian troops to shell the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant. He also accused Kiev’s backers of “nuclear blackmail” by making statements about “the possibility and admissibility” of using weapons of mass destruction against Russia. The country will defend itself by all means at its disposal, Putin added.


Some Western officials have interpreted Putin’s speech as a threat to use tactical nuclear weapons. CIA chief William Burns said on Sunday, however, that there is “no practical evidence” that Russia is planning to conduct nuclear strikes. Biden, nevertheless, told a crowd of supporters on Thursday that the US has not faced “the prospect of Armageddon” since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Also on Thursday, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who has ruled out negotiating with Putin, called for “preemptive strikes” to deter Russia from using nuclear weapons. His office later said the president’s comments were misrepresented.

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“It’s a global margin call. I hope we survive.”

Global Margin Call Hits European Debt Markets (AT)

Risk gauges in Germany’s government debt market rose last week to levels higher than recorded in the 2008 world financial crash, as margin calls forced the liquidation of derivatives positions held by banks, insurers and pension funds. Big institutional investors that spent the past ten years insuring their portfolios against falling interest rates now face massive losses as hedges blow up. A key measure of market risk, the spread between German government bonds (Bunds) and interest rate swap agreements jumped above the previous record set in 2008. The cost of hedging German government debt with interest-rate options, or option-implied volatility, meanwhile rose to the highest level on record. The blowout in the euro derivatives market follows a near-collapse of the British government debt, or gilts, market, averted at the last minute by a 50 billion pound bond-buying spree by the Bank of England.

The world’s central banks responded to the 2008 world financial crash and the European financial crisis of 2011 by pushing bond yields down.

“Real” yields, namely the yield on inflation-indexed government bonds, went deeply into negative numbers in Germany and the UK, followed by the US market. That pulled the rug from under insurance companies and pension funds, which invest pension payments and insurance premiums to provide for future income. To compensate, European and UK institutions locked in long interest rates with derivative contracts, or interest-rate swaps, that receive a long-term interest rate while paying a short-term interest rate. Swaps are a leveraged position that requires collateral worth a fraction of the notional amount of the contract. When the Fed jacked up interest rates in late 2021, the value of interest rate swaps that pay fixed and receive floating imploded.


Pension funds and insurers were stuck with the equivalent of a ten-to-one margin position in long government bonds. The price of long government bonds fell by nearly 20% across the Group of Seven countries, and the value of derivatives contracts evaporated. That left the institutions with margin calls that they could meet only by liquidating assets. That in turn led to a run on the UK government bond market, followed closely by the rest of European bond markets. The Bank of England’s emergency bond-buying delayed a market crash, but the UK gilts market remains on a knife edge, with option hedging costs at an all-time high.

A portfolio manager at one of Germany’s largest insurance companies said, “It’s a global margin call. I hope we survive.” Weaker European banks may have trouble finding short-term funding. The cost of credit default swaps that insure 5-year bonds of Credit Suisse is now higher than it was in 2008, at nearly 400 basis points (4 percentage points) above the cost of interbank funding. The venerable Swiss institution is a special case, with a series of losses due to poor risk controls. Credit Suisse probably will survive – bank regulators will force it to sell assets and shrink – but it will also call in collateral from customers.

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Step 1: cripple the largest nation of the group.

Nord Stream 2 Offers Germany a Date with Destiny (Escobar)

It started with Gazprom revealing that the Line B string of NS2 is intact; not only it escaped Pipeline Terror but may “potentially” be used to pump gas to Germany. That confirms once again that NS2 is an engineering marvel. In fact the whole system: the pipes are so strong they were not broken, but merely punctured. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak followed up, with a caveat: restoration of the whole system, including NS, is possible, and “requires time and appropriate funds”. But first, in Russia’s order of priorities, the perpetrators must be conclusively identified. Sources in Moscow confirmed Gazprom’s assessment of NS2. Even Bloomberg had to report it.

Subsequently in Vienna, attending the Opec+ meeting, Novak remarked the Russian Federation is “ready to supply gas through the second line of Nord Stream 2. This is possible if necessary”. So we know it’s possible. “Necessary” will depend on a political decision by Germany. Novak also sharply noted that neither Russia nor the Nord Stream operators are allowed to investigate Pipeline Terror. Russia insists that without its participation the investigation is flawed. Whatever the modus operandi of Pipeline Terror, incompetence was part of the package. No explosive charges were placed or detonated on Line B of NS2. That means, as Novak said, it’s virtually ready for business. Line B is capable of pumping 27.5 billion cubic meters of gas a year, which happens to be half of the total capacity of NS.

NS’s capacity had been reduced to 20%, due to the interminable turbine saga, before it was completely shut down. Crucially, Line B of NS2 would still pump 2.75 times the capacity of the recently inaugurated Baltic Pipe from Norway to Poland via Denmark. Which basically profits Poland, unlike NS2 servicing several EU customers. In a rational world, Berlin would scrap the Russian sanctions pile up and immediately order the start of forever-delayed NS2, guaranteed to at least attenuate the ongoing process of de-energization, de-industrialization and deep socio-economic crisis imposed by the usual suspects on Germany. But the collective West remains enslaved by geopolitical psychopaths guided by irrationality. So that’s not likely to happen.

The operators of NS and NS2 – Nord Stream AG and Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 AG – cannot reach the scene of the crime because of absurd restrictions imposed by the Danes and the Swedes. The operators need no less than 20 working days to obtain the “permits” to carry out their own inspections. Copenhagen police is handling the crime scene near the Danish exclusive economic zone (EEZ), in parallel to the Swedish Coast Guard around the Swedish EEZ. If this looks like one of those Scandinavian noir series popular on Netflix, that’s because it is. With a crucial twist: it’s NATO investigating itself – Sweden is about to enter NATO – with no Russians allowed. All top working hypotheses on Pipeline Terror point to an intra-NATO dirty op against NATO member Germany.

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“..We know about representatives from more than 30 different countries..”

‘Unthinkable’ Number Of Mercenaries Gathered In Zaporozhye (RT)

Ukraine has amassed a sizeable number of foreign fighters on the frontline in Zaporozhye Region, which recently voted to join Russia, Vladimir Rogov, a member of the local administration’s chief council, told RIA Novosti on Sunday. “The Kiev regime has accumulated an unthinkable number of mercenaries on the line of contact. We know about representatives from more than 30 different countries,” Rogov said. He went on to say that Ukraine has been deploying to the area both mercenaries and troops from the western part of the country in order to instill terror in local residents who voted in the recent referendums. In late September, Zaporozhye, along with Kherson Region and the two Donbass republics, voted overwhelmingly in referendums to join Russia.


On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin signed into law unification treaties with the former Ukrainian territories, officially making them part of Russia. Zaporozhye Region is also home to a nuclear power plant, which has been under Russian control since March. It has been repeatedly shelled throughout the conflict. Moscow has accused Ukraine of attacking the facility, while Kiev blames the Russian forces. Russia has on numerous occasions conducted strikes on foreign fighters in Ukraine, including with high-precision weapons. Moscow has also warned that the best thing mercenaries from other countries can expect in Ukraine is a “long term in prison.” On September 21, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed that Russian forces and the militias of the Donbass republics had eliminated more than 2,000 mercenaries, with 1,000 foreign fighters remaining in the ranks of the Ukrainian military.

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“.. It was said that the problem “has been known for years..”

German Army Has Ammo For Only Two Days Of War – Media (RT)

The German Army (Bundeswehr) has enough ammunition for only one or two days of warfare, the German edition of news website Business Insider (BI) reported on Saturday, citing defense industry and parliamentary sources. According to BI, Berlin is significantly lagging behind the NATO requirement of maintaining stocks for at least 30 days of fighting. It was said that the problem “has been known for years,” as military drills have suffered from insufficient stores. Stockpiles were further depleted after Germany, together with many other Western countries, began sending weapons and ammunition to Ukraine after Russia launched its military operation in the neighboring state in February.

The deliveries included 53,000 rounds for self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, 21.8 million rounds for firearms, and 50 bunker-buster missiles, according to the German government. The situation with the shortage “will not improve if ammunition is removed from the Bundeswehr stocks, while corresponding orders are not placed on the defense industry at the same time,”Hans Christoph Atzpodien, CEO of the German Security and Defense Industry Association (BDSV), told BI. The outlet’s sources, meanwhile, were quoted as saying that there have been “no significant orders” for defense companies to produce more armaments.

Eva Hoegl, the German parliament’s defense commissioner, told BI that an additional €20 billion ($19.5bn) is needed to replenish the stocks. Germany announced the establishment of a €100 billion ($97.4 billion) fund in February to strengthen the Bundeswehr in light of the Ukraine conflict. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht traveled to Ukraine’s southern port city of Odessa earlier this month. After the trip, she announced that Berlin would continue to support Kiev for as long as necessary.

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Olga Sukharevskaya, ex-Ukrainian diplomat.

The Last Vestiges Of Press Freedom Disappear In Kiev (Sukharevskaya)

On August 30, Ukraine’s rubber-stamp parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, passed a bill on the media at the first reading. Despite the numerous changes that the 300-page document has undergone since President Vladimir Zelensky’s team developed and submitted it a few years ago, its essence remains unchanged. If it becomes law, the authorities’ power over virtually all outlets will be essentially limitless. The main danger this bill presents is that it grants government agencies the authority to block internet resources without any court proceedings, and revoke licenses from broadcast and print media solely on the basis of complaints. This huge power would be vested in the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting.

Ukrainian journalists have been criticizing this bill since the first version appeared in 2018, asserting that it abolishes both freedom of speech and freedom of the press. OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir called that version of the law “a blatant violation of freedom of speech,” stating that its adoption “could jeopardize pluralism in the media market, impose additional costs on the media, and negatively affect the reflection of a diversity of ideas and opinions.” Criticism of the bill from both the OSCE and Ukrainian journalists had an effect. In 2020, it was sent for revision, but the changes only include some clarifications concerning gender equality and coverage of sexual orientations.

At the same time, it still contains a ban on publishing any messages contradicting the official government line on military issues. It is likewise forbidden to cover speeches made by officials of the ‘aggressor country’ [meaning Russia] or cast former USSR party functionaries in a positive light. For example, including Ukraine’s own Leonid Brezhnev. The law would also hold foreign media responsible for any of its audiovisual content available in Ukraine. Moreover, social networks, including foreign ones, will be obliged to remove any material the National Council deems undesirable. The deadlines for removing ‘incorrect’ content or replacing it with ‘correct’ material have also been tightened. Among the ‘offenses’ that can get a media outlet banned is distributing programs in which any participant is on the ‘list of persons who pose a threat to the national media space of Ukraine.’

This is compiled by the National Council itself and does not require anyone’s consent. Otherwise, the essence and spirit of the bill is preserved, including severe censorship of “objectionable” media. The American Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) didn’t call on the Verkhovna Rada to reject Bill No. 2693-D ‘On Media’ for nothing. Maya Sever, president of the European Federation of Journalists, has bluntly stated that it means compulsory media regulation “fully controlled by the government worthy of the worst authoritarian regimes.” She is convinced that “a state that would apply such provisions simply has no place in the European Union.”

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“..a “victory for common sense..”

OPEC Move Balances ‘Chaos That The Americans Create’ – Kremlin (RT)

The decision to cut oil production made earlier this week by OPEC and allies is a “victory for common sense,” said Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I’m not inclined to say that this is some kind of a victory for us. No. This is a victory for common sense,” he said on the TV channel Russia-1 on Sunday. Peskov noted that Washington seeks to push through its decisions about the oil market and manipulate prices, even at the cost of destabilizing the global energy market. It has already partially succeeded, he added, having tapped its own reserves and influenced the EU to introduce an oil price cap in its latest package of sanctions. However, according to the spokesman, OPEC+ can counterbalance such measures.


“And the fact that [these actions] are countered by the balanced, thoughtful and planned work of the countries that take a responsible position within OPEC+, including our country, is very good. This at least somewhat balances the chaos that the Americans are creating,” Peskov stressed. OPEC+ announced earlier this week that the countries comprising the group will cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day starting in November. The cuts will be distributed based on the quotas under the OPEC+ deal as of August 2022. The curtailing of output was aimed at stabilizing the global oil market ahead of a seasonal drop in demand and amid fears of a global recession. Meanwhile, according to reports, Russia may cut its production by more than the amount prescribed by OPEC+ due to the new sanctions. US President Joe Biden expressed disappointment with the OPEC+ decision, while the head of the US Treasury, Janet Yellen, called the move “unhelpful and unwise.”

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The government denies it.

UK National Grid Warns Of 3-Hour Rolling Blackouts This Winter (ZH)

People in England, Scotland and Wales could be in for three hour power cuts this winter if it can’t import enough gas and electric imports from other parts of Europe, the British National Grid has warned. The utility said that the scenario was “unlikely,” but that a perfect storm of Russian gas cuts and a cold snap akin to 2018’s “beast from the east” could result in the rolling blackouts – reminiscent of power outages experienced in the 1970s. According to The Guardian, the pre-planned outages would be announced one day in advance, and would aim to reduce total power consumption by 5%. It would require the approval of King Charles on the recommendation of the business secretary.

The National Grid included the scenario as one of several that could occur this winter, as it prepares for a highly uncertain period for power supplies due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “We’re heading into winter in an unprecedented situation. Even during the cold war, the Soviet Union kept the gas flowing so it’s very unpredictable,” said one senior industry source. National Grid has worked on a series of initiatives to attempt to manage supply and demand this winter. It is ready to call into action five coal-fired power plants, which can generate up to 2 gigawatts of power – after signing deals with Drax, EDF and Uniper at a cost of £340m to £395m. It will also launch a “demand flexibility service” on 1 November that will encourage businesses and consumers to use power outside peak demand periods, including early evenings on weekdays.

Consumers with smart meters will be notified the day before and will be paid for using power outside these time periods. The initiative was trialled by Octopus Energy earlier this year. -The Guardian If enough households participate in the load-shifting scheme, it could free up an extra 2GW – enough to power approximately 600,000 homes. The utility says it’s “cautiously confident” that there will be enough juice to get through the winter. The Grid’s “base case” scenario is that there will be a surplus of around 3.7GW energy, and forecast a “sufficient operational surplus throughout winter,” notwithstanding tight margins from early December to mid-January.

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One more reason to abolish the EU.

The EU is Forcing Twitter to Censor -and Musk Can’t Stop It- (Kogon)

There has been much talk recently of the Biden administration exerting informal pressure on Twitter and other social media to censor unwelcome content and voices, and lawsuits have even been launched against the government for infringing the alleged victims’ 1st Amendment rights. But all that such pressure appears thus far to have consisted of are some chummy nudges in emails. There has surely not been any threat of fines. How could there be without a law authorizing the executive branch to impose them? And such a law would be blatantly unconstitutional, since precisely what the 1st Amendment states concerning freedom of speech is that “Congress shall make no law…abridging” it.

But there’s the rub. Congress, needless to say, has not made any such law. But what if a foreign power made such a law and it de facto abridged the freedom of speech also of Americans? Unbeknownst to most Americans, this has in fact occurred and their 1st Amendment rights are being vitiated, namely, by the European Union. There is a financial gun pointed at Twitter. But it is not the Biden administration, but rather the European Commission, under the leadership of Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, that has its finger on the trigger. The law in question is the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), which was passed by the European Parliament last July 5 amidst almost total indifference – in Europe as much as in the United States – despite its momentous and disastrous implications for freedom of speech worldwide.

The DSA gives the European Commission the power to impose fines of up to 6% of global turnover on “very large online platforms or very large online search engines” that it finds to be non-compliant with its censorship requirements. “Very large” is defined as any platform or search engine that has over 45 million users in the EU. Note that while the size criterion is limited to users in the EU, the sanction is based precisely on the company’s global turnover. The DSA has been designed to function in combination with the EU’s so-called Code of Practice on Disinformation: an ostensibly voluntary code for “combatting disinformation” – aka censoring – that was originally launched in 2018 and of which Twitter, Facebook/Meta and Google/YouTube are all signatories.

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To be fair, it’s not all Hunter. A lot more needs to fit under that carpet.

White House Spending $265k On Staff To Deflect Hunter Biden Probe (NYP)

The White House is gearing up for a growing army of staff to fend off potential Republican-led probes on everything from Hunter Biden to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan — and taxpayers are footing the bill. Battening down the hatches should the GOP regain control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, the White House is shelling out $265,000 a year in salary for staff whose primary portfolio will be to run comms and defense for the administration from an approaching blizzard of subpoenas. In May, the White House poached Richard A. Sauber, the top attorney for the Department of Veterans Affairs, to serve as a “deputy counsel to the president” tasked with handling House oversight probes.

Ian Sams, a veteran of Vice President Harris’ failed 2020 presidential campaign, was hired to run official comms for the team. White House records show the two men will take home $155,000 and $110,000 respectively. And the team is only expected to grow, the Washington Post reported — indicating that its staffing and operational expenditures will balloon further. “Americans deserve transparency from President Biden about his family’s suspicious business dealings. But instead of providing transparency, the White House is hiring staff at the American taxpayers’ expense to stonewall congressional oversight and accountability.” said Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who is on track to chair the House Oversight Committee next year if Republicans retake the House.

“Let’s be clear: no amount of Biden White House staff or stonewalling will stop Republicans’ quest for transparency and accountability on behalf of the American people,” he added. House Republicans have vowed to investigate everything from the origins of coronavirus, to the botched withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. The party’s marquee probe will focus on Hunter Biden and what connections his father, President Biden, had to his shady overseas business dealings.

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“In FY 2022 (all Biden’s watch), gotaways hit 599,000 — up 54% versus FY 2021 and 768% compared to FY 2020.”

The Chilling Numbers That Reveal The Scale Of Joe Biden’s Border Disaster (NYP)

Democrats are napping peacefully through the US-Mexico “border” crisis they engineered. Perhaps these data will snap them from their slumber: US Department of Homeland Security reports that the Mexican cartels’ income from smuggling illegal migrants into America has soared from $500 million in 2018 to $13 billion this year — up 2,500%. If these criminals merged into a corporation, their 2022 gross revenues would rival that of — are you sitting down? — Fox Corporation. Fox News Channel’s parent company earned $12.91 billion in the year ended June 30, 2021, and $13.97 billion 12 months later. This fact might awaken Sleepy Joe Biden and the lazy Left: Mexico’s human-trafficking cartels are now as big as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.

If Democrats still are dozing through the havoc of their no-border strategy, these figures might rouse them: Border Patrol agents apprehended 951,568 illegal immigrants during President Donald Trump’s final 19 months in office. In President Biden’s first 19 months, Border Patrol encountered a staggering 3,588,877 illegals — up a sickening 377%. In Fiscal Year 2020, the last fully under Trump’s control, 69,000 illegal migrants were detected on the “border” but got away into America’s interior. FY 2021 (four months of Trump, eight of Biden) witnessed 389,155 gotaways — up 464%. In FY 2022 (all Biden’s watch), gotaways hit 599,000 — up 54% versus FY 2021 and 768% compared to FY 2020.

At least 266,000 unaccompanied migrant children/minors have been encountered at the southern border since President Biden took office, per CBP data,” Fox News Channel’s priceless southern-frontier correspondent Bill Melugin explained via Twitter on September 26. “That’s enough to fill up approximately three Rose Bowls.” Fourteen House Republicans wrote Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sept. 23 to complain that “between October 2021 and July 2022, more than 130,000 Venezuelan nationals were encountered after entering the United States illegally.” The Marxist Nicolás Maduro regime, they added, “is deliberately releasing violent prisoners early, including inmates convicted of ‘murder, rape and extortion,’ and pushing them to join caravans heading to the United States.”

Twelve US senators contacted the US Marshals Service about crooks cascading across the “border.” According to their August 30 letter, “So far in FY22, CBP has apprehended over 9,000 criminal immigrants, including 53 for homicide or manslaughter, 283 for sex crimes and almost 900 for assault, battery and domestic violence.” During Trump’s FYs 2017 through 2020, 11 terrorists on the watch list were captured at the border — two, six, zero and three, in those respective years.

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“The sudden transition … from a state of perfect normalcy to a pathological one … is unprecedented. … “

Is the US Blood Supply Tainted? (CHD)

Funeral directors and embalmers in the U.S. and U.K. have gone public with shocking descriptions of highly unusual blood clots in up to 85% of the bodies coming under their care — a “massive increase” compared to pre-COVID-19 vaccine times when ordinary-looking clots might be found in 5% to 10% of the deceased. “In all my years of embalming, we would run across clots from time to time,” said Richard Hirschman, an experienced funeral director in Alabama, “but since May last year [2021], something about the blood has changed. It’s not normal. It’s drastic.” The rampant clotting and the clots’ disturbing sci-fi appearance — “long fibrous entities that can completely block a vein or artery,” which Hirschman likens to calamari, rubber bands, spaghetti, worms or parasites — are just some of the concerns prompting questions about blood supply safety.

About 55% of blood is plasma — which, among other functions, supplies proteins “for blood clotting and immunity” — with the remaining 45% consisting of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets suspended in the plasma. Depending on their blood type, individuals who give blood can choose to donate whole blood, plasma or platelets, or they can make a “Power Red” donation (a “concentrated dose” of red blood cells). The American Red Cross says it will not accept blood from someone whose blood “does not clot normally,” but — following guidance from the same branch of the FDA that oversees vaccines — welcomes immediate donations from anyone who received one of the mRNA or other COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S., as long as the person says he is “symptom-free and feeling well.”

[..] In one of the most alarming studies, published in August in the International Journal of Vaccine Theory, Practice, and Research, Italian surgeons described atypical clumping of red blood cells and the presence of “extraordinarily anomalous structures and substances” of “various shapes and sizes of unclear origin” in over 94% of symptomatic, COVID-19-vaccinated individuals whose blood they examined. The 1,006 study participants, ranging in age from 15 to 85, received a first (14%), second (45%) or third (41%) dose of a Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine about a month before the analysis of their blood. Pointing to other studies that found foreign materials in the blood of COVID-19 vaccine recipients and in COVID-19 vaccine vials — materials “that the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the many promoters of the experimental injections claimed were not in them at all” — the Italian authors concluded the vaccine-induced blood alterations were “likely … to be involved in producing the coagulation disorders commonly reported after anti-COVID injections.”

Putting the matter even more plainly, they stated: “[S]uch abrupt changes as we have documented in the peripheral blood profile of 948 patients have never been observed after inoculation by any vaccines in the past according to our clinical experience. The sudden transition … from a state of perfect normalcy to a pathological one … is unprecedented. … “In our collective experience, and in our shared professional opinion, the large quantity of particles in the blood of mRNA injection recipients is incompatible with normal blood flow especially at the level of the capillaries.”

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I dare you to find a crazier story than this today.

Ex-Partner Of Ukrainian ‘Heiress’ Who Infiltrated Mar-a-Lago Shot In Canada (G.)

An associate of the Ukrainian woman who posed as a member of the Rothschild banking family at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club was reportedly shot outside a lakeside resort north-west of Montreal, Canadian newspaper LaPresse has reported. The shooting left Valeriy Tarasenko, 44, with “significant injuries”, but he was expected to survive, said the Sûreté du Québec, the Quebec provincial police. The police said it had launched a search for the shooter and any accomplices behind the attack. Tarasenko is known as a former business partner of Inna Yashchyshyn, a Russian-speaking Ukrainian immigrant who was identified by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project over the summer for posing as “Anna de Rothschild” at Mar-a-Lago.


Quebec police told LaPresse that they were trying to “shed some light on the circumstances that led to the injuries of the victim”. But for now, “to protect the investigation, no other detail can be shared”, the police added. Tarasenko, who was born in Ukraine and raised in Moscow, told the Post-Gazette and OCCRP that he had hired Yashchyshyn in 2014 to live in his Miami condo and watch his two daughters while he traveled on business. The FBI, according to the report, has been looking into a Miami charity, United Hearts of Mercy, Yashchyshyn launched in 2015 and carries the same name as a nonprofit founded by Tarasenko in Canada in 2010. According to a statement by the charity’s accountant that was turned over to the FBI, the charity, established to collect money for impoverished children, was in fact a front for organized crime.

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Hudson

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assange BTC

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 082022
 
 October 8, 2022  Posted by at 8:32 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  67 Responses »


Marc Chagall The watering trough 1925

 

Putin and Zelensky To Attend G20 – Indonesia (RT)
Merkel: Lasting Peace In Europe Only Possible With Russia’s Input (RT)
Russia Abandons The Dream Of A Greater Europe (RT)
US Media’s Intellectual No-Fly-Zone on Nord Stream (FAIR)
Lavrov Explains Why Russia Sees Ukraine As A Threat (RT)
EU Again Urged To Open Wallet For Kiev (RT)
Belgium Fails To Support New Round Of Sanctions Against Russia (RT)
Orban Urges Changes To EU Sanctions Policy (RT)
Joe Biden Is Not A Real President (Scarry)
OPEC Humiliates President Biden On A Global Stage (QTR)
Luxembourg Raises Red Flag Over Energy Price Caps (RT)
Citi: Financial Crisis May Surprise EU (RT)
November Surprise? (Jim Kunstler)
Washington Post Lying About Kremlin ‘Turmoil’ – Moscow (RT)
When Anti-Government Speech Becomes Sedition (Whitehead)
CDC: Record Number Of Children Hospitalized With Weakened Immune Systems (ZH)

 

 

This morning: Explosions on the Kerch bridge (Crimean bridge), which connects Crimea with Russia.

 

 

 

 

Macgregor

 

 

 

 

Ed Dowd

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We are deciding which hotels to put them up in – one for Mr. Putin and one for Mr. Zelensky..”

“..his press secretary, Sergey Nikiforov, in a comment to Ukrainian media, denied the information that Zelensky had decided to visit the G20 summit..”

Putin and Zelensky To Attend G20 – Indonesia (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky, will both travel to Bali in November for the G20 summit, an Indonesian diplomat has told UAE’s The National newspaper. If true, the summit will be the first event attended by both leaders since Russia’s military operation in Ukraine began. “Both have agreed [to attend],”Indonesia’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Husain Bagis, told The National on Friday. He conceded that “the situation isn’t easy because of the Ukraine-Russia war,” and said that his government is already planning how to manage the arrival of the two leaders. “We are deciding which hotels to put them up in – one for Mr. Putin and one for Mr. Zelensky,” he said.

The Kremlin confirmed in June that Putin would attend the summit, although spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that the format of Putin’s participation “is still not defined.” Kiev stated in August that Zelensky “believes that he should be on the territory of Ukraine,” but would “think about”making the trip if Putin were to attend in person. Today his press secretary, Sergey Nikiforov, in a comment to Ukrainian media, denied the information that Zelensky had decided to visit the G20 summit. US President Joe Biden and a number of other Western leaders urged Indonesian President Joko Widodo not to invite Putin to the summit in Bali.

However, Widodo resisted the pressure campaign and invited the Russian leader as planned. With Widodo having met both Zelensky and Putin earlier this summer in a bid to “invite the two leaders to open dialogue and stop the war,” Bagis told The National that Indonesia aims “to make the G20 a platform for peace, not conflict.” Biden also appears to have softened his exclusionary stance toward Putin, telling reporters on Thursday that it “remains to be seen” whether he would meet the Russian president on the sidelines of the summit. The State Department quickly stepped in to say that in the view of the entire government, “it cannot be business as usual when it comes to Russia.” Although Ukraine is not one of the world’s 20 largest economies, Zelensky was invited to Bali as a guest.

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Sustainable peace = Green peace?!

Wonder if Merkel is involved in secret talks with Russia.

Merkel: Lasting Peace In Europe Only Possible With Russia’s Input (RT)

Sustainable peace in Europe may only be achieved if Russia is part of it, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday. Speaking during the 77th anniversary of the German newspaper ‘Suddeutsche Zeitung,’ Merkel explained that while the West has been adamant in its support for Ukraine as the nation remains locked in conflict with Russia, it should also keep its mind open about what might seem as “unthinkable” now – Moscow’s future role in Europe’s affairs. She stressed that “a future European security architecture within international law will meet the requirements” only if it involves Russia. “As long as we haven’t achieved that, the Cold War is not really over either,” she added.

Merkel described February 24 – the day Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine – as a “turning point,” adding that statements made by various parties to the conflict should be taken “seriously and not to be classified as a bluff from the start.” She was apparently referring to recent comments made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who signaled that Moscow would use “all means to defend Russia and our people” if its territorial integrity was threatened. He also warned the West that those who use nuclear blackmail against Russia “should know that the wind rose can turn around.”

Merkel earlier urged the Western world to take Putin and his words seriously, arguing that such an approach is “by no means a sign of weakness,” but rather “a sign of political wisdom.” She also noted that former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, who before his death, was widely regarded as her political mentor, would have kept an open mind about “how relations to and with Russia could one day be redeveloped” after hostilities in Ukraine end. Such a stance, however, did not sit well with Ukrainian officials. Last week, Andrey Melnik, Kiev’s outgoing ambassador to Berlin, called Merkel’s attitude towards Russia and its role in European security “almost perverse.”

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“A Greater Europe didn’t happen; a Greater Asia that includes Russia is de facto emerging.”

Russia Abandons The Dream Of A Greater Europe (RT)

Re-uniting the divided people of Russia and gathering the lands where they live is essentially the core element of the new Russian idea that Putin is offering to his compatriots. The immediate task of course is to integrate the new territories that have just joined Russia following the referendums. This requires a major effort in many areas and at various levels. It is anything but easy. Russian forces, which for months have been advancing on Ukrainian territory, suddenly find themselves in a situation where they have to abandon some areas which are now legally Russian land, populated by Russian citizens who just voted in the referendums and now face severe reprisals at the hands of the counter-attacking Ukrainians.

Next comes the need to rebuild the cities and villages ravaged in the war, repair damaged infrastructure, restart the economy, provide communal services, and re-organize public administration, health services, and education. Of paramount importance is socializing the millions of residents of the four regions who were automatically granted Russian citizenship, in the Russian national environment. Moscow has some experience of that from 2014 when Crimea and Sevastopol joined Russia, but doing this in a wartime situation is more challenging. A lot will depend, of course, on how the Russian forces cope on the frontline that passes very close to Donetsk and Kherson, and which still leaves the city of Zaporozhiye in Ukraine’s rear.

Even if the Ukrainian counter-offensive runs out of steam and the Russians resume their advance, none of these tasks can be accomplished quickly. This part of the new Russian national idea will keep the nation busy for a long time. Putin’s concept, however, doesn’t stop there. It is not so much about restoring the Soviet Union: in Putin’s words, such a restoration is not Moscow’s objective. The Baltics, the South Caucasus and Central Asia are probably not envisaged as part of the new construct. However, as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hinted on the State Duma floor, in future other Ukrainian regions might be given the chance to follow Kherson and Zaporozhiye. To Putin, Greater Russia is a distinct civilization which opposes not only America’s hegemonic policies, but also the West’s projection of its values as universal.

This is an about-face not only from Gorbachev’s musings about a common European home, but also from Putin’s own travails in trying to forge a Greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok, and his efforts to find a way for Russia to join NATO. A Greater Europe didn’t happen; a Greater Asia that includes Russia is de facto emerging. As to a Greater Russia, this requires more than a leader’s imagination. The Soviet Union, as the living generations remember it, was very much the product of the Great Patriotic War. The hybrid war with the West, of which Ukraine is only a small part, will doubtless reshape Russia. The question is, will it also transform it to fit the vision of a powerful economy and a vibrant society, faithful to its declared values – the substance, rather than the form of a Greater Russia.

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“A 2019 Pentagon-funded study from the RAND Corporation on how best to exploit “Russia’s economic, political and military vulnerabilities and anxieties” included a recommendation to “Reduce [Russian] Natural Gas Exports and Hinder Pipeline Expansions.”

US Media’s Intellectual No-Fly-Zone on Nord Stream (FAIR)

Any serious coverage of the Nord Stream attack should acknowledge that opposition to the pipeline has been a centerpiece of the US grand strategy in Europe. The long-term goal has been to keep Russia isolated and disjointed from Europe, and to keep the countries of Europe tied to US markets. Ever since German and Russian energy companies signed a deal to begin development on Nord Stream 2, the entire machinery of Washington has been working overtime to scuttle it. A 2019 Pentagon-funded study from the RAND Corporation on how best to exploit “Russia’s economic, political and military vulnerabilities and anxieties” included a recommendation to “Reduce [Russian] Natural Gas Exports and Hinder Pipeline Expansions.”

The study noted that a “first step would involve stopping Nord Stream 2,” and that natural gas “from the United States and Australia could provide a substitute.” This RAND study also prophetically recommended “providing more US military equipment and advice” to Ukraine in order to “lead Russia to increase its direct involvement in the conflict and the price it pays for it,” even though it acknowledged that “Russia might respond by mounting a new offensive and seizing more Ukrainian territory.” The Obama administration opposed the pipeline. As part of the major sanctions package against Russia in 2017, the Trump administration began sanctioning any company doing work on the pipeline. The move generated outrage in Germany, where many saw it as an attempt to meddle with European markets. In 2019, the US implemented more sanctions on the project.

Upon coming into office, President Joe Biden made opposition to the pipeline one of his administration’s top priorities. During his confirmation hearings in 2021, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told Congress he was “determined to do whatever I can to prevent” Nord Stream 2 from being completed. Months later, the State Department reiterated that “any entity involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline risks US sanctions and should immediately abandon work on the pipeline.” In July 2021, the sanctions were relaxed only after contentious negotiations with the German government. The New York Times (7/21/21) reported that the administration and Germany still had “profound disagreements” about the project.

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“We all remember how [Zelensky] declared in January Ukraine’s intention to acquire nuclear weapons. Apparently, this idea has long been stuck in his mind..”

Lavrov Explains Why Russia Sees Ukraine As A Threat (RT)

A call by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky for NATO members to deploy nuclear weapons against Russia is a reminder of why Moscow launched military action against his country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. “Yesterday, Zelensky called on his Western masters to deliver a preemptive nuclear strike on Russia,” Moscow’s top diplomat stated during a media conference on Wednesday. In doing so, the Ukrainian leader “showed to the entire world the latest proof of the threats that come from the Kiev regime.” Lavrov said Russia’s special military operation had been launched to neutralize those threats. He dismissed as “laughable” an attempt to downplay Zelensky’s words made by his press secretary, Sergey Nikoforov. “We all remember how [Zelensky] declared in January Ukraine’s intention to acquire nuclear weapons. Apparently, this idea has long been stuck in his mind,” the Russian minister said.


On Thursday, Zelensky told the Australian Lowy Institute that NATO must carry out preemptive strikes against Russia so that it “knows what to expect” if it uses its nuclear arsenal. He claimed that such action would “eliminate the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons,” before recalling how he urged other nations to preemptively punish Russia before it launched its military action against his country. “I once again appeal to the international community, as it was before February 24: Preemptive strikes so that [the Russians] know what will happen to them if they use it, and not the other way around,” he said. His spokesman then claimed that people interpreting Zelensky’s words as a call for a preemptive nuclear strike were wrong, and that Ukraine would never use such rhetoric.

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Cold and hunger and billions for Azov. A winning model.

EU Again Urged To Open Wallet For Kiev (RT)

Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, will urge member states to set aside more funds to cover enhanced military assistance for Ukraine. The top diplomat shared his plan with reporters at an informal EU summit in Prague on Friday. “I will ask the leaders to support the proposal for a new tranche for European Peace Facility to continue providing military support to Ukraine, also to the training mission,” Borrell said, as quoted by Reuters. Earlier this week Borrell expressed hope that at the next Foreign Affairs Council gathering on October 17, the EU will be able to “formally launch” its training mission for Ukrainian armed forces. Writing in his blog, the diplomat also claimed that the EU would “reinforce” its strategy of supporting Ukraine – “militarily, financially and politically.”

The European Peace Facility (EPF) that Borell referred to, is a mechanism created last year to enhance the EU’s ability to act as a global security provider. The EPF reimburses governments for military equipment supplied to Kiev, “including items designed to deliver lethal force for defensive purposes.” The latest round of funding for Ukraine under the EPF, worth €500 million, was agreed by the European Council in July. With this package, the total EU contribution for the country within this framework amounts to €2.5 billion. The EPF has a ceiling of about €6 billion and is supposed to support not only Ukraine but also other countries. As EU nations face an energy and cost-of-living crisis, exacerbated by anti-Russia sanctions and a reduction in Russian energy supplies, Borrell earlier urged people in the bloc to combat “the temptation to abandon Ukraine.”

Responding earlier this week to the EU’s plan of creating a training mission for Kiev’s armed forces, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that such a move would only “fix the EU in the status of a participant in the conflict.” In April, she accused the bloc of turning into “NATO’s economic relations department.” This followed Borrell’s tweet that “This war (in Ukraine) must be won on the battlefield.” Moscow has consistently warned Western countries against providing military support to Kiev. It argues that such assistance would only prolong the conflict and will lead to unnecessary casualties. Ukraine, in turn, has repeatedly claimed that the EU is too slow in its weapons supplies and that it doesn’t always provide what Kiev had requested.

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I found this strange. Macron wanted a new club, the European Political Community (EPC), which is EU plus some others?! Why? Betcha it’s so Ukraine can be part of some club too.

Belgium Fails To Support New Round Of Sanctions Against Russia (RT)

The Belgian government decided against endorsing a new round of EU anti-Russia trade restrictions, the local press reported on Thursday, citing remarks made by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Speaking on the sidelines of the European Political Community (EPC) summit in Prague, Czech Republic, the head of the Belgian government explained that “as the economic cost of sanctions becomes higher, it becomes difficult to show solidarity” with Ukraine. “The sanctions have worked very well so far,” the prime minister said, “but the further we go, the more we talk about sanctions that hurt our own economy more than Russia’s.” His country therefore declined to support the eighth package of sanctions when EU member states voted on it this week.

Belgium didn’t vote against it either, because “we do not want to break European solidarity,” De Croo was quoted as saying. A vote against the proposal any EU member state would have blocked the package from being approved. Belgium was reportedly the only nation to abstain. Earlier this week, Belgian MP Andre Flahaut, who represents the province of Walloon Brabant, expressed concerns about the impact of the upcoming sanctions on his constituents. Two factories owned by the Russian metals giant NLMK, which are located in the Belgian province, may have to shut down, the lawmaker warned. The EU ultimately allowed a transition period of two years to switch from semi-finished steel products originating in Russia to alternative supplies.

There were also concerns in Belgium that the EU would try to restrict trade in Russian diamonds, potentially impacting the jewelry businesses of Antwerp. Some news outlets reported that the country blocked the proposed inclusion of such sanctions in the package. When asked about Russian gemstones, Prime Minister De Croo said his government would not have opposed a ban, if it were necessary, but the European Commission decided against it because imports from Russia had fallen significantly without any formal restrictions. The EPC is a new political club proposed earlier this year by French President Emmanuel Macron. The forum is supposed to bring together EU member states and nations that aspire to become part of the economic bloc, plus its traditional allies like the UK and Norway. The meeting of EPC leaders in Prague is the first of its kind.

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Orban could soon walk out. They refuse to give him his money anyway. Why stay?

Orban Urges Changes To EU Sanctions Policy (RT)

Sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine have failed, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday, urging Brussels to change its policy. “The sanctions didn’t fulfill the hopes that were pinned on them, the war hasn’t ended,” Orban wrote on Facebook. “Europe is slowly bleeding and Russia is making money in the meantime,” he pointed out. The Hungarian leader said that it was obvious to him that “the failed policy of Brussels must be changed.” The statement was made on the same day that the EU announced an eighth round of sanctions on Russia. The new curbs include an oil price cap, trade restrictions amounting to 7 billion euros and individual sanctions against 30 people and seven entities. The move comes after the official inclusion of Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions into Russia [..]


Orban has frequently criticized the EU’s sanctions on Russia, calling them counterproductive. Hungary, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy, has maintained a relatively neutral stance during the conflict in Ukraine, condemning the use of force by Moscow, but refusing to supply weapons to Kiev. Brussels expected that the unprecedented restrictions would cripple Russia’s economy and prevent it from funding its military operation. But Moscow was able to redirect its oil and gas to Asian markets, while also profiting from growing energy prices. The policy has also largely backfired for the EU, causing a spike in inflation, and putting Europe into an energy crisis. The situation deteriorated even further in late September when the Nord Stream pipelines were sabotaged.

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“Biden Threatening Nuclear Armageddon After Six Years of Media Freakout Over Trump Tweets”

Joe Biden Is Not A Real President (Scarry)

Did anyone else burst into a bout of uncontrollable, psychotic laughter upon reading the report that President Biden just told a room full of Democrat donors that the risk of nuclear “armageddon” has arrived? I can’t be the only one. Here are some headlines from the not-too-distant past that immediately came to mind: • We must Trump-proof the nuclear codes before 20243 NBC News, March 12, 2022 • Gen. Milley feared Trump might launch nuclear attack, made secret calls to China, new book says USA Today, Sept. 14, 2021 • Trump is leading us into nuclear war, says Daniel Ellsberg (and he should know, he used to plan them) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Feb. 1, 2018 • Donald Trump s Nuclear-War Threat The New Yorker, Aug. 9, 2017 • Clinton Says Trump Could Lead US Into Nuclear War Roll Call, June 2, 2016.

So, wait a second. You mean we just spent the last six years with all of Washington and the national media swearing to voters that Trump had us on the brink of nuclear annihilation, only for it to be Biden, their choice for president, to get us right up on the cliff’s edge? If that doesn’t have you pulling tufts of hair out of your scalp until it bleeds, check your pulse. This can’t be real. Biden has to be fake. This must be a computer simulation. For four years under Trump, gas was cheap, the stock market was booming, and a trip to the grocery store didn’t require customers to take out a second mortgage.

Now under Biden, OPEC is gratuitously choking the energy supply, basic necessities are scarce, and a major war has American taxpayers spending more than $67 billion (and counting) to a country that’s 5,000 miles away. Oh, and now we have to worry about a nuclear confrontation with a global superpower! sIf it were a movie script, not a single producer would find it believable. The writer would never work again. But this is real? We elected a president, in earnest, who is this incompetent and terrible? It’s nuclear war he’s warning of! This is the absolute worst-case scenario. The severity can’t be overstated. There aren’t enough mean Trump tweets in the world to excuse the state of things under this “president.” I refuse to believe it. Biden isn’t a real president.

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“..they 1) are not our friends, 2) do not care what we want, 3) do not take us seriously and 4) are not here to help us and/or Biden get re-elected by lowering prices..”

OPEC Humiliates President Biden On A Global Stage (QTR)

[..] yesterday OPEC humiliated President Biden on a global stage by cutting oil production after he specifically lobbied them not to. There’s no “nice” way of putting it – they straight-up snubbed the U.S. and have now, in my opinion, made it officially clear that they 1) are not our friends, 2) do not care what we want, 3) do not take us seriously and 4) are not here to help us and/or Biden get re-elected by lowering prices. To use Biden’s parlance, “Let me tell you something, Jack – we’re not in bed with the Saudis anymore. They are more allied with China and Russia than they have ever been, at arguably the most crucial moment in recent history for our global economy.”

As I pointed out last night on my podcast, there was nothing quite like the “fist bump heard round the world” a couple months ago when President Biden – who spends his time here domestically fighting for “equality” and human rights – decided to embrace the Saudis, and their track record of disapproving of gay rights, murdering journalists and multiple other human rights violations – instead of simply ramping up domestic oil production here in the U.S. Biden probably went into the meeting he had with MBS months ago thinking we had some type of leverage, like we have had decades ago. The sad reality is that we simply don’t anymore: the Saudis have the oil, they have gold, and now they have allies just as big and powerful as the U.S. when combined. And those allies provide financial and military support at a crucial juncture for geopolitics.

Meanwhile, our President remains tone deaf and while his supporters remain immune to what can only be described as blatantly obvious double standards. With the left hand, Biden was vilifying Exxon and Chevron here in the U.S., basically encouraging them to not bring more supply online, whilst blaming “gas station owners” and other people who don’t set the price of refined fuels. With the right hand, he was fist bumping a man who publicly disapproves of gay rights and ordered the murder of a critical journalist, in order to try and get him to unleash more oil on the global stage. And instead of him taking us seriously, he did the exact opposite of what Biden wanted yesterday – cut oil production, raising prices – and humiliated Biden on the global stage.

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“Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin has described the eighth package of anti-Russia penalties as the “first EU sanctions package” against Serbia.”

Luxembourg Raises Red Flag Over Energy Price Caps (RT)

The European Union may be left with no energy supplies after introducing gas price caps, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said as he arrived at the bloc’s summit in Prague on Friday. “Implementing a price cap is not the only thing,” Bettel said. “Because, after, maybe we can’t get energy. So then, maybe we have a price cap but no energy.” EU leaders are expected to discuss how to deal with gas prices to curb soaring energy bills during their informal summit in the Czech capital. The talks will include a proposal on a gas price cap. “We have to know we’re not the only customers in the world,” he added. “So, we have to be very careful about decisions that we take that sound good on paper but where consequences can be problematic.”


The issue has been hotly contested for weeks, with Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands in opposition to any form of cap due to concerns regarding security of supply. On Thursday, Brussels announced the eighth package of restrictions on Russia, which includes a price cap and “further restrictions” on the maritime transportation of Russian crude oil and petroleum products to third countries. The latest batch of penalties has been blasted by several EU nations, including Hungary and Serbia. Earlier, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that anti-Russia sanctions had failed, adding that the bloc was “slowly bleeding” due to the drastic steps. Meanwhile, Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin has described the eighth package of anti-Russia penalties as the “first EU sanctions package” against Serbia.

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“The euro area is at risk of a financial meltdown on the same scale as the crisis it suffered a decade ago..”

They should be so lucky.

Citi: Financial Crisis May Surprise EU (RT)

The euro area is at risk of a financial meltdown on the same scale as the crisis it suffered a decade ago, Citi analysts have told CNBC. They cited Germany’s massive energy relief plan as the major threat to the bloc’s stability, the media outlet reports on Friday. According to the report, Wall Street bank analysts have raised concerns about the violent bond market moves and the European governments’ plans to borrow vast sums of money. They said that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s relief package, worth €200 billion ($195 billion) and aimed at tackling soaring energy prices, “may soften the coming recession but also poses risks.” Those risks relate to the question of how the package will be financed and what that could do to inflation, to Germany’s sovereign bond yields, to the ECB’s benchmark rate, and to the borrowing plans of other euro nations that may do the same.

“The risk is that others may follow that example,” Christian Schulz, deputy chief European economist at Citi, told CNBC, citing the UK’s recent bond market meltdown after unfunded tax cuts by the government. Schulz explained that Germany could “afford” any debt financing thanks to its low debt-to-GDP ratio and lower external funding needs, but the package could open the door for less fiscally prudent countries to want to borrow large amounts and issue new debt. That could potentially lead to trouble like that seen in Britain.

Citi analysts forecast that German debt financing could force tighter ECB policy, which could then also send yields surging in the euro area. “The risk is that this same dynamic [as seen in Britain] evolves on the continent as well now,”Schulz warned. Meanwhile, data by Saxo Bank show that an ECB stress indicator for the Eurozone’s financial system – which looks at tensions in bond, equity and money markets – has risen from below 0.1 at the start of the year to almost 0.5 so far. During the Eurozone debt crisis in 2009-2010, the index exceeded 0.6.


German producer prices. Past 2 years: up 60%. Past 40 years before that: up 60%.

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“His staff must be marinated in evidence of the RussiaGate misdeeds — reams of which have been independently documented in the public record..”

November Surprise? (Jim Kunstler)

Adults understand that politics is a crooked business, but through the whole of US history until now filters existed in the public arena that allowed for enough sorting out of truth from untruth to enable the formation of a reality-based consensus — which, in turn, allowed daily life to operate coherently. The Party of Chaos has thrown the kill-switch on that crucial function by corrupting the news business and subverting the new social media. The result is a public culture of pervasive and immersive lying, and a stupendous institutional failure of the courts to correct any of that behavior. Case-in-point: the John Durham Special Counsel Investigation on the origin of the RussiaGate fraud. It now apparently terminates in the prosecution of the tiniest minnow (Igor Danchenko) in that vast inland sea of corruption.

Some of the figures who carried out the perfidious seditions of RussiaGate are still employed in the Department of Justice and the FBI, and to this day are active in the continued cover-up of the crimes committed to overthrow President Trump, notably: Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and others. Mr. Durham is supposedly among the highest officers of the federal courts charged with enforcing a very particular region of criminality.

His staff must be marinated in evidence of the RussiaGate misdeeds — reams of which have been independently documented in the public record, ranging from (just for example) the nefarious activities of figures like Nellie Ohr, wife of DOJ higher-up Bruce Ohr, working as go-between with Christopher Steele and the FBI, to the spectacular failures of Judge James Boasberg and his FISA court, not to mention the well-known machinations of Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Andrew McCabe, Rod Rosenstein, Dana Boente, James Baker, Andrew Weissmann, Jeannie Rhee, Aaron Zebley, Brandon Van Grack, Robert Mueller, and other top officials who worked sedulously against the public interest. All these remain apparently off-the-hook for their sketchy activities.

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“Peskov told the Post that disagreement between Putin and his aides is “part of the usual working process.”

Washington Post Lying About Kremlin ‘Turmoil’ – Moscow (RT)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that a Washington Post report alleging “turmoil” and confrontation in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle is “absolutely not true.” The report in question was attributed to anonymous US spies. “A member of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle has voiced disagreement directly to the Russian president” over the conflict in Ukraine, the report stated, alleging that “the criticism marks the clearest indication yet of turmoil within Russia’s leadership.” No source was given for this report, which was attributed to “information obtained by US intelligence.” Peskov told the Post that disagreement between Putin and his aides is “part of the usual working process.”

“There are working arguments: about the economy, about the conduct of the military operation. There are arguments about the education system. This is part of the normal working process, and it is not a sign of any split,” he said, adding that the information supposedly obtained by American intelligence is “absolutely not true.” American officials have previously boasted about waging an “info war”against Russia by leaking false intelligence reports to the media, NBC News reported in April. Intelligence officials, for example, admitted to fabricating a warning that Russia was preparing to use chemical weapons in Ukraine in March, leaking the story to the Washington Post despite it being based on “low confidence” intelligence.

A report claiming that Putin was “being misled by his own advisers” was also reportedly made up or exaggerated by US spies. “There’s no way you can prove or disprove that stuff,” a retired intelligence operative told NBC. The Post’s latest report was also received with doubt by the US’ European allies. According to the newspaper, “senior security officials in Europe said they were not aware that anyone had dared to challenge Putin directly over the course of events in Ukraine,” and said that they hadn’t seen the supposed US intelligence report that the article was based on.

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Terrorists.

When Anti-Government Speech Becomes Sedition (Whitehead)

Anti-government speech has become a four-letter word. In more and more cases, the government is declaring war on what should be protected political speech whenever it challenges the government’s power, reveals the government’s corruption, exposes the government’s lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices. Indeed, there is a long and growing list of the kinds of speech that the government considers dangerous enough to red flag and subject to censorship, surveillance, investigation and prosecution: hate speech, conspiratorial speech, treasonous speech, threatening speech, inflammatory speech, radical speech, anti-government speech, extremist speech, etc.

Things are about to get even dicier for those who believe in fully exercising their right to political expression. Indeed, the government’s seditious conspiracy charges against Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, and several of his associates for their alleged involvement in the January 6 Capitol riots puts the entire concept of anti-government political expression on trial. [..] In recent years, the government has used the phrase “domestic terrorist” interchangeably with “anti-government,” “extremist” and “terrorist” to describe anyone who might fall somewhere on a very broad spectrum of viewpoints that could be considered “dangerous.” The ramifications are so far-reaching as to render almost every American with an opinion about the government or who knows someone with an opinion about the government an extremist in word, deed, thought or by association.

You see, the government doesn’t care if you or someone you know has a legitimate grievance. It doesn’t care if your criticisms are well-founded. And it certainly doesn’t care if you have a First Amendment right to speak truth to power. What the government cares about is whether what you’re thinking or speaking or sharing or consuming as information has the potential to challenge its stranglehold on power. Why else would the FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies be investing in corporate surveillance technologies that can mine constitutionally protected speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? Why else would the Biden Administration be likening those who share “false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information” to terrorists?

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3 weeks after the New England Journal of medicine said the vaccines destroy your immune system, the stupid circus just goes on.

CDC: Record Number Of Children Hospitalized With Weakened Immune Systems (ZH)

Official data suggests that more children and young adults than ever have been hospitalized with colds and respiratory issues, according to the Daily Mail, which notes that “experts have repeatedly warned lockdowns and measures used to contain Covid like face masks also suppressed the spread of germs which are crucial for building a strong immune system in children.” According to a retrospective report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), levels of common cold viruses hit their highest level among non-adults in August 2021 – when levels had been much lower in previous years during the same month. According to the data which sampled nearly 700 children, nearly 55% tested positive for RSV in August 2021. Of that, 450 were moved to emergency departments where nearly 35% had RSV – which is comparable to the winter months when over 30% of patients regularly have the virus, according to the report.


“The CDC samples random pediatric hospitals across the US and makes national estimates to gauge how prevalent viruses are. There were nearly 700 children in hospital sick with a respiratory virus across the seven wards studied in August last year, of which just over half had tested positive for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – which is normally benign. This was the highest levels ever recorded in summer, and came off the back of a year and a half of brutal pandemic restrictions forcing many to stay indoors. The record all-time high is in December, when 60 per cent of children on wards with respiratory illnesses were infected with RSV.” -Daily Mail

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Dance
https://twitter.com/i/status/1578392775367819264

 

 

 

 

Watters

 

 

Anthony Bourdain RIP

 

 

 

 

 

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Jul 052021
 


Paul Gauguin We hail thee Mary 1891

 

“Asymptomatic Covid Spread” Used To Shut Down The Economy Was A Lie (TSN)
New Research Suggests Ivermectin Works (HART)
Indonesia to Produce Ivermectin Starting in July (Tempo)
‘Perverse Incentives’ in the Vaccine Rollout and the Censorship of Science (ET)
Lancet Accused Of Doing China’s Dirty Work Denouncing Lab Leak Theory (DM)
Daszak Refuses House Request For Wuhan Docs, Democrats Fail To Subpoena (JTN) /span>
Fauci Doubles Back To Masks – For the Vaccinated (JTN)
Retraction Of Paper On Vaccine Deaths Spurs Call For More Scrutiny (JTN)
OPEC On Verge Of Collapse After Saudis, UAE Refuse To Budge (ZH)
No, We Weren’t All Born Yesterday (David Stockman)
HSBC in Big Trouble in its Biggest Market, China (WS)

 

 

 

 

FLCCC’s Dr. Marik is asked how he would end the pandemic in a month. “I would do a mass distribution program of ivermectin together with melatonin and aspirin. We should’ve done this months ago.” Simple. Safe.

 

 

Mike Yeadon
https://twitter.com/i/status/1411596825103155201

Mike Yeadon variants

 

 

Paul Elias Alexander, PhD, Former COVID Pandemic consultant/advisor to WHO-PAHO and former COVID pandemic advisor to Health and Human Services (HHS), United States; Parvez Dara, MD, MBA; Howard Tenenbaum, DDS, PhD

“Asymptomatic Covid Spread” Used To Shut Down The Economy Was A Lie (TSN)

There was no credibility to ‘asymptomatic spread’ or transmission in COVID-19 as a key driver of the pandemic nor even as a driver of minimal infection. This is not only our hypothesis, we feel strongly that asymptomatic spread was bogus from the start and was used to underpin the lockdowns and had and has still today, no basis. This was part of pandemic corruption. We have looked at the evidence gathered across the last 16 months and can safely say this was a false narrative along with masking, lockdowns, social distancing, and school closure polices that visited crushing harms on the society and hurt the US and the world immensely. That the US Pandemic Task Force and these illogical, irrational, unscientific medical experts could use this falsehood and shutter the society and cost so much destruction of life, wealth and property is a scandal, shameful, and unforgiveable.

This was all about corruption, this pandemic response, and there certainly were ingredients other than science at play throughout. There are members of the US Task Force that some of us here got the pleasure of working with and some of them are incredibly smart, good people. Decent god-fearing people. But they were and are flat wrong! Have been on everything COVID. Every policy was based on their input and guidance and they created disaster. Many thousands of people died due to them! Their policies! Never has a President been as ill-served as by these Task Force members. They misled and undercut President Trump at each turn and one continues to mislead the current administration.

Who knows, maybe the combination caused a chaotic frenetic collaboration, so maybe the combination doomed them from the start. But on a day-to-day basis, we were watching a clown car in the daily briefings! Their hypothesis cannot be borne out on asymptomatic spread, and we have decided once and for all, to lay out the evidence on asymptomatic spread and give our view. This should have never been about supposition, speculation, assumptions or even whimsy by them. This is not evidence-based research, that is not science. Speculation and assumption is not science. They failed catastrophically and must not be allowed to re-write their history.

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All serious research says the same thing.

New Research Suggests Ivermectin Works (HART)

Another conundrum is whether many more lives could have been saved by the early adoption of ivermectin, a repurposed drug, with a long track record of safety for use in parasitic diseases but also shown to have antiviral properties. In the specific case of COVID-19, the mode of action appears to be two-fold: it acts by docking to the SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domain bound with ACE2 (thus blocking the virus from entering cells), and also acts as an anticoagulant, which protects against the clotting associated with the viral spike protein. Numerous articles summarised by the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance have reported successful use both in treatment and prevention of COVID-19 but have been criticised for lack of peer reviewed RCT data.


Last week Dr Tess Lawrie from the Evidence-Based Medicine Consultancy and colleagues published a peer reviewed systematic review and meta-analysis in the American Journal of Therapeutics that showed moderate-certainty evidence of large reductions in COVID-19 deaths. ‘Moderate-certainty’ may sound like an ‘average’ result, but it in fact represents one of the highest certainties possible and the stringent data filters used in this kind of meta-analysis mean that only the most robust RCT data are included. With mild to moderate disease, ivermectin reaches the threshold for ‘high certainty’ of efficacy meaning it appears to be of immense benefit in both the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. Being out of patent, it is incredibly cheap (cost of production is around 3 cents a tablet) and very safe, particularly in comparison to COVID-19 vaccines:

In relation to the above table, it should be noted that around 4 billion doses of ivermectin have been given to humans since reporting started. Real world experience has been enormous and largely censored — something Dr Lawrie has also been subject to, having been removed from Twitter and had articles deleted from LinkedIn. HART has previously highlighted YouTube’s ‘COVID-19 medical misinformation policy’ which outlaws any claims that ivermectin is an effective treatment for the disease. Unfortunately, the influence of pharmaceutical lobbying in preventing the early adoption of ivermectin is evident and it is the sick and dying who inevitably suffer in a system where profit is a huge driver in dictating what does and does not reach the market. There is a point at which enough evidence of efficacy of a medicine has been provided and anything beyond that is deemed ‘unnecessary’.

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13 million per month. Good start, but 260 million people.

Indonesia to Produce Ivermectin Starting in July (Tempo)

State-owned pharmaceutical firm PT Indofarma on Friday spoke about Ivermectin that has recently claimed popularity after a number of public figures claimed the drug’s effectiveness against COVID-19. Asked by Tempo about the price for one pack, Indofarma management stated in a written release on Friday, July 2, that they “established the price for [Ivermectin] at Rp123 thousand.” The product they sell includes 20 tablets of 12 mg per botol. The highest retail price that includes the added-value tax (PPN) is set at Rp157,700 (US$10 in current exchange). Based on Tempo’s observation across online and physical stores the drug is sold at an average price of Rp200,000 (US$13.7) with the highest retail price at Rp256,000 (US$ 17). Ivermectin, as of June 20, has obtained marketing authorization from the Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency (BPOM). Indofarma stated the production of the drug would kickstart in early July, and that it aimed at producing 13.8 million tablets until August 2021.

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Interview with Bret Weinstein.

‘Perverse Incentives’ in the Vaccine Rollout and the Censorship of Science (ET)

You mentioned two areas. One is repurposed drugs therapeutics for COVID, another one is of course, vaccine safety. So what are you seeing? Well, let’s pick one. Let’s go into the vaccine safety first. Dr. Weinstein: Well, I’m not sure that there is even a way to do one without the other. The two appear to be the same story viewed from two different sides. And I think what people need to track is the fact that in order for the vaccines to be administered, they had to get an Emergency Use Authorization. And one of the requirements for the Emergency Use Authorization is that there’d be no safe and effective treatments available. So if the repurposed drugs are as good as some people believe they are, then the vaccines would not be available at all. They would still be in testing.

Add to that the fact that the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these vaccines have been granted immunity from liability. And these two things in combination, I believe, have created a headlong rush to administering the vaccines to everyone irrespective of medical or epidemiological need. [..] I’ve seen a piece of the censorship on YouTube. YouTube has in their community guidelines, a provision that actually forbids the discussion of ivermectin if the discussion involves the claim that it works. And the problem is that there is substantial evidence that it works. And works doesn’t mean one thing, it actually means two distinct things.

There is strong evidence that ivermectin works for the treatment of COVID, especially if it is given early in the course of disease. It is also apparently highly effective as a prophylactic. And these things are clearly visible in the recent meta-analysis that have been released that show a clear pattern. So somehow on YouTube, the discussion of evidence that has been peer-reviewed and delivered within the scientific literature is forbidden because it contradicts the CDC’s view, which is that ivermectin does not work or that there is no evidence that it works. [..] I learned this from Robert Malone, who is the inventor of mRNA vaccine technology, and he is also somebody who has been involved in a professional capacity inside the regulatory apparatus.

And what he said is that at the point that the Emergency Use Authorizations for the vaccines were granted, there was the opportunity to require extra data to be collected to find out what the impact of these vaccines was on the people who received them. And a choice was made not to collect the data, which I find quite alarming in light of the fact that the process of establishing the safety of these vaccines was necessarily truncated in order to bring them to the public so quickly. [..] the ramifications of it are that we are exposing a huge fraction of the population to what is in effect, a scientific experiment, except that it isn’t a scientific experiment because we are deliberately avoiding collecting data that would allow us to evaluate the impact.

And I find that shocking. It is one thing to argue that we have no choice that COVID-19 is an emergency and we have to make shortcuts that we would not ordinarily consider. I accept that argument. I also accept that these vaccines appear to work at least in the short term. But the right thing to do in order to make proper medically justified decisions and epidemiologically justified decisions is to collect the data on what happens after administration. These are brand new technologies. They have many different ways in which they could fail, and it is our obligation, especially to the people who receive these vaccines, that we collect the data on what happened. And to not do so means that we are very likely to put people in danger in the future with no justification for it.

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Yup, it’s Daszak.

Lancet Accused Of Doing China’s Dirty Work Denouncing Lab Leak Theory (DM)

The Lancet letter, signed by 27 experts, played a key part in silencing scientific, political and media discussion of any idea that this pandemic might have begun with a lab incident rather than spilling over naturally from animals. It was even reportedly used by Facebook to flag articles exploring the lab leak hypothesis as ‘false information’ before the social media giant dramatically changed tack last month. Yet it emerged later that The Lancet statement was covertly drafted by British scientist Peter Daszak – a long-term collaborator with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was carrying out high-risk research on bat coronaviruses and had known safety issues.

Daszak is the £300,000-a-year president of EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based charity that funnelled funds to his friend Shi Zhengli, the Wuhan virologist known as ‘Batwoman’ for her work in collecting samples from bats. Four months later, The Lancet set up a ‘Covid-19 Commission’ to assist governments and scrutinise the origins. It was led by Jeffrey Sachs, the celebrity economist and author who campaigns on aid with rock star Bono. Sachs recently dismissed claims that China is committing genocide on the Uighurs, adopting Beijing’s line that it is confronting Islamic militancy. Incredibly, he backed Daszak to lead his commission’s 12-person taskforce investigating Covid’s origins – joined by five fellow signatories to The Lancet statement.

Daszak’s conflicts of interest were exposed by this newspaper six months ago. Last week The Lancet finally ‘recused’ him from its commission and published an ‘addendum’ to its statement detailing some of his Chinese links. Yet critics say the journal has still failed to admit that six more signatories to that February statement have ties to Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance as directors or partners. ‘It would have been better for The Lancet to have stated that Daszak’s and other signers’ previous declarations were untruthful and to have attached an editorial expression of concern,’ said Richard Ebright, a bio-security expert and professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Now The Mail on Sunday has learned that The Lancet is set to publish a second statement by these signatories that presses the case that Covid probably emerged through natural ‘zoonotic’ transmission from animals to humans. ‘We consider that it seems more likely a transmission through an intermediate mammalian host, although other possibilities can’t be fully excluded,’ said one, adding that they were still ‘missing some signatures’. Four of The Lancet’s original experts seem to have since shifted their position, including Charles Calisher, a Colorado virologist. He admits ‘there is too much coincidence’ to ignore the lab leak hypothesis and that ‘it is more likely that it came out of that lab’.

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And Daszak again.

Daszak Refuses House Request For Wuhan Docs, Democrats Fail To Subpoena (JTN)

Amajor conduit of federal research funding to the Chinese coronavirus lab at the center of ongoing speculation over the origins of the SARS-Cov-2 virus is not complying with a months-old request from House Republicans for documentation related to his work with that lab, while Democrats in the House have failed to issue a subpoena to compel that evidence. Peter Daszak, the president of the U.S. nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, has been the subject of growing scrutiny over the last several months regarding his role in the funding of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. For several years leading up to the pandemic, EcoHealth Alliance funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal research grants to the WIV for the study of potential pandemic coronaviruses at the Wuhan lab.

As government investigators and journalists dig to uncover the full scope of Daszak’s links to the WIV, Daszak is continuing to spurn a congressional request for that information. In April, Republicans on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent Daszak a letter directing him to submit, among many other documents, “all letters, emails, and other communications between [EcoHealth] and [the WIV] related to terms of agreements, bat coronaviruses, genome or genetic sequencing, SARS-CoV-2, and/or laboratory safety practices” pursuant to key NIH research funding through EcoHealth to the Wuhan lab as a grant sub-recipient.

Yet Daszak himself has not cooperated with the request. An aide with the Energy and Commerce Committee confirmed to Just the News this week that the committee has “received no response still from EcoHealth Alliance and Peter Daszak to the April 16th letter from Leaders Rodgers, Guthrie, and Griffith.” Washington GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has also publicly noted Daszak’s refusal to cooperate with the request made roughly two and a half months ago. “We have asked Daszak to provide information we know he has that sheds light on the origins of this pandemic,” Rodgers said during a House subcommittee hearing this week. “But he refuses to cooperate.” “Dr. Daszak, you received American funds you used to conduct research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Rodgers continued. “You owe it to the American people to be transparent.”

[..] The committee itself could subpoena Daszak for the materials; both House and Senate committees enjoy subpoena powers pursuant to investigations within their congressional purviews, something that has been upheld by the Supreme Court several times. Yet subpoena power in both chambers is controlled by whichever party is in the majority. Democrats still hold a slim majority in the House, meaning the ultimate authority to compel Daszak to produce the documentation rests with that party, specifically in this case with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone.

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“DOES ANY SANE PERSON CARE WHAT LITTLE NAPOLEON SAYS?”

Fauci Doubles Back To Masks – For the Vaccinated (JTN)

Less than two months after the government eased its COVID-19 mask requirements, the nation’s chief infectious disease specialist suggested Sunday that vaccinated Americans “go the extra mile” and begin wearing them again in low vaccinated areas. Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recommendation led to howls by many on Twitter, who noted recently released emails from the NIH doctor suggested masks provided little protection. “DOES ANY SANE PERSON CARE WHAT LITTLE NAPOLEON SAYS?,” a woman with the Twitter handle Conservative Gal tweeted Sunday afternoon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on May 13 eased mask restrictions as vaccinations grew quickly.


Fauci made the rounds on the Sunday shows to address the new, contagious COVID-19 delta variant and slowing vaccination rates, offering his changed advice on masks. “If you put yourself in an environment in which you have a high level of viral dynamics and a very low level of vaccine, you might want to go the extra step and say ‘When I’m in that area where there’s a considerable degree of viral circulation, I might want to go the extra mile to be cautious enough to make sure that I get the extra added level of protection, even though the vaccines themselves are highly effective,’” Fauci told NBC’s “Meet The Press.” Some blue cities like Los Angeles and St. Louis have already reinstated a mask advisory for vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens as the delta variant has spread.

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The things that nobody wants to know.

Retraction Of Paper On Vaccine Deaths Spurs Call For More Scrutiny (JTN)

Should public health authorities scrutinize deaths attributed to COVID-19 as closely as they scrutinize deaths attributed to COVID-19 vaccines? Defenders of a controversial study on the risk-benefit ratio of COVID-19 vaccines are calling hypocrisy on a medical journal for retracting the paper a week after publishing it, following the resignations of several journal editors in protest. In a Friday retraction notice in the journal Vaccines, the editor in chief and “several” editorial board members said the paper’s authors were not able to “satisfactorily” answer claims that they conflated correlation with causation. Analyzing data from the Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre, known as LAREB, the paper’s authors estimated COVID-19 vaccines take two lives for every three they save. The country leads Europe in vaccine adverse-reaction reporting.

Authors Harald Walach, Rainer Klement and Wouter Aukema challenged criticism from Eugene van Puijenbroek, who leads LAREB’s scientific department, that they had misused its data. “This starts a long-overdue debate on how to gauge the safety of COVID-19 vaccines,” they wrote in a statement provided to Retraction Watch Thursday. “Currently we only have association, we agree, and we never said anything else. But the same is true with fatalities as consequences of SARS-CoV2-infections [sic],” which are “rarely vetted by autopsy or second opinion” to confirm they were caused by the novel coronavirus, rather than incidental to infection. Brown University epidemiologist Andrew Bostom wasn’t impressed by the journal’s “baloney” explanation for the retraction, either.

“The [vaccine] deaths are as causally related as C19 deaths which allow for any positive test within 30-60 days of a death from any cause to be tallied as a C19 death,” he wrote in a Twitter message to Just the News. Bostom pointed to a June study, not yet peer-reviewed, of a sample of deaths in the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System reported through April. The sample was limited to people who got early vaccinations, primarily elderly or those with “significant health conditions.” Researchers at the University of London and New Zealand’s Massey University found that they could rule out “vaccine reaction” as a contributing factor in just 14% of deaths. “Contrary to claims that most of these reports are made by lay-people and are hence clinically unreliable, we identified health service employees as the reporter in at least 67%,” they wrote.

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They’re always on the verge of collapse?!

OPEC On Verge Of Collapse After Saudis, UAE Refuse To Budge (ZH)

Is the world about to go through another 2014 Thanksgiving massacre when OPEC collapsed sending the price of oil crashing and unleashing a brief if catastrophic wave of destruction across the US shale sector? That’s what commodity traders are wondering this long weekend when just two days after the UAE refused to fall inline with the rest of OPEC+, late on Sunday, in a Bloomberg TV interview, Saudi Prince Abdulaziz said that “we have to extend,” referring to the deal agreed upon by all but the UAE on Friday, according to which oil production would be increased by 400kbd over the next few months, while also extending the broader production quota agreement until the end of 2022 for the sake of stability: “the extension puts lots people in their comfort zone” said the Saudi, adding that Abu Dhabi was isolated within the OPEC+ alliance.

“It’s the whole group versus one country, which is sad to me but this is the reality”, the Saudi summarized the potentially explosive situation, which has seen Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates crank up the tension in their OPEC standoff which as Bloomberg summarizes, has left the global economy guessing how much oil it will get next month. The bitter clash between the Saudis and UAE has forced OPEC+ to halt talks twice already, with the next meeting scheduled for Monday, putting markets in limbo as oil continues its inflationary surge above $75 a barrel. With the cartel discussing its production policy not only for the rest of the year, but also into 2022, the solution to the standoff will shape the market and industry into next year.

While traditionally the oil cartel has been shy of publicity, keeping its spats behind close doors, on Sunday the fight between the two key producers broke into public view with both countries, which typically keep their grievances within the walls of the royal palaces, airing their differences on television, with Riyadh insisting on its plan, backed by other OPEC+ members including Russia, that the group should both increase production over the next few months, while also extending the broader agreement reached in the aftermath of the oil price collapse of 2020 until the end of 2022 to avoid a production glut. Just hours earlier, the Emirati energy minister, Suhail al-Mazrouei, again rejected the Saudi-proposed deal extension, supporting only a short-term increase and demanding better terms for itself for 2022. “The UAE is for an unconditional increase of production, which the market requires,” Al-Mazrouei told Bloomberg Television earlier on Sunday. Yet the decision to extend the deal until the end of 2022 is “unnecessary to take now.”

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“..only 73% of the state-imposed shrinkage of hours worked has been recovered as of June 2021.”

No, We Weren’t All Born Yesterday (David Stockman)

According to the mainstream narrative, we were all born yesterday. There is no such thing as context, history or critical analysis – just cherry-picked short-term data-deltas, which are held to be either awesome or at least much improved from last time. That’s why we predictably got this headline from the Wall Street Journal with reference to today’s June employment release, which allegedly showed “employers added 850,000 jobs last month”: Stocks Tick Higher With Strong Jobs Report Well, no, it wasn’t and they (employers) didn’t. In fact, total hours worked in June actually declined from the May level, and, far more importantly, were still down 4.4% from the pre-Covid peak in February 2020.

When expressed in total hours, there is absolutely nothing “strong” at all about the numbers. To wit, at the end of Q2 2021 total hours employed in the nonfarm economy were still down 8 billion hours from the Q4 2019 level. That’s right. Eight billion worker hours are MIA, yet the lazy shills at the WSJ, Bloomberg, Reuters et. al. keep pumping out bilge about an awesome economic rebound! Actually, what has never been noted notwithstanding the fact that it sits there in plain sight on the BLS website is that Dr. Fauci and his economy wreckers dug a far deeper hole in the main street labor market last spring than the narrative led you to believe. At the pre-Covid peak in Q4 2019, the nonfarm economy utilized 257.2 billion labor hours at an annualized rate, but that plunged by nearly -12% to just 227.6 billion hours in Q2 2020.

So doing, Fauci & Co wiped out all of the aggregate nonfarm labor hours gain since Q4 2011. That is to say, it obliterated the awesome gains that had been contained in 102 monthly Jobs Friday reports in the interim. And now, after $4 trillion of freshly printed fiat cash and $6 trillion of stimmies and other bailouts and free stuff only 73% of the state-imposed shrinkage of hours worked has been recovered as of June 2021.

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By some measures, still the world’s biggest bank.

HSBC in Big Trouble in its Biggest Market, China (WS)

HSBC, headquartered in the UK, is first and foremost an Asian bank. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited cut its teeth in the 19th century in Greater China. In 2020, its Mainland and Hong Kong operations accounted for 39% of its annual $50 billion in revenue, while the United Kingdom, its second largest market, brought in 28%. The bank is now selling off its retail banking units in France and the United States and scaling back its presence in some emerging markets in order to accelerate its eastward pivot. But there’s a problem with this plan: Its success rests largely on the bank’s ability to maintain good relations with the Chinese government. And that is proving to be a tough proposition.

Relations have soured significantly over the past two years after it was revealed in 2019 that HSBC had ratted out Chinese telecom giant Huawei to the U.S. Department of Justice for breaching U.S. sanctions on Iran. The information provided by HSBC led to the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of the company’s founder, in Vancouver in 2018. As geopolitical tensions have escalated between the US and China, HSBC has had to walk a tightrope in its relations with China on the one hand and Washington and London on the other. The lenders’ travails reveal a core challenge for multinational firms operating in China: the market is vital to their growth prospects, but Western firms doing business there increasingly risk being mired in the ratcheting tensions between Beijing and the West.

But given the size and growth of the market, many big global banks have decided to continue expanding in China, whether organically or through acquisitions. HSBC Holdings PLC, Standard Chartered PLC and Citigroup Inc. have all unveiled plans to beef up their wealth management operations in China, targeting the growing middle class. But with net profits for foreign lenders falling precipitously and Beijing demanding that foreign companies toe the line as the US ramps up sanctions on China, it’s getting more and more complicated.

Read more …

 

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Luciferase

 

 

 

 

No jab no dinner

 

 

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Jul 292020
 


Fresco from the Minoan Palace in Knossos, Crete, Greece. 16th century B C.

 

Coronavirus To Spread In One Big Wave and Won’t Go Away – WHO (RT)
WHO Says Keeping Borders Shut To Thwart COVID-19 Not “Sustainable” (CBS)
Six US States See Record COVID19 Deaths, Latinos Hit Hard In California (R.)
Hong Kong Warns City On Verge Of Large Coronavirus Outbreak (R.)
China’s Surging Crude Imports Mask Weakness In The Rest Of Asia (R.)
OPEC Prepares For An Age Of Dwindling Demand (R.)
Big Tech CEOs To Defend Their Companies By Listing Competitors (R.)
“People Have Too Much Money To Play With” (BBG)
It Is Time to Abandon Dollar Hegemony (Foriegn Affairs)
DOJ Could Pursue Treason Charges Over Russia Probe Misconduct – Steube (JTN)
Ghislaine Maxwell Fights To Keep Nude Photos And Sexualised Videos Secret (RT)
Assange Spied On Like ‘In A Film,’ Lawyer Says (Rap)
It’s Not Assange Who Should Be Facing Prosecution (Can.)

 

 

I was watching some of the Bill Barr hearing yesterday, bewildered by the lack of manners exhibited. Not because I’m a Trump or Bill Barr fan, but come on, this is Congress, and if you can’t show respect for the US Attorney General, no matter how much you may dislike him, you’re not showing respect for the House you’re sitting in, or its history, or its meaning for the country.

Several of the Representatives didn’t start with a question, but began by telling Barr what a despicable human being he is, something that only makes sense if you aim it at the camera’s, then at last asked questions and refused to let him answer them.

 

 

 

New cases for the world and US remain somewhat subdued, but the US new daily deaths number is the highest since May 27. Let’s hope that is an anomaly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have the same problem as Ben Hunt. Very much so.

 

 

Byron York

 

 

Not seasonal. That took only 7 months.

Coronavirus To Spread In One Big Wave and Won’t Go Away – WHO (RT)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has quashed hopes that the coronavirus might simply disappear over the summer. It urged the world to instead brace itself for “one big wave” of infections. WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris told reporters via conference call that, contrary to some expectations, the coronavirus will not wane during warmer seasons like the flu would. People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and… this one is behaving differently. Harris warned that there will be “one big wave” of coronavirus infections that will “go up and down a bit,” instead of several distinct waves one after another. “The best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something lapping at your feet,” she said.


Many European countries have been gradually lifting or relaxing their quarantine restrictions since May. Because there is still no vaccine, the governments are calibrating their Covid-19 response while bracing for a potential second wave of the infection. Asian countries, like China and South Korea, as well as several US states were forced to re-impose some of the lockdown measures after infection rates went up again and new coronavirus hotspots were discovered. Harris reiterated the call to slow the spread of the virus by avoiding mass gatherings. This has proven to be challenging in recent months due to recurring large-scale anti-racism and police brutality protests in a number of Western countries.

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Here’s looking at you, Jacinda Ardern?!

WHO Says Keeping Borders Shut To Thwart COVID-19 Not “Sustainable” (CBS)

Keeping borders closed to halt the spread of COVID-19 is unsustainable, the World Health Organization said Monday, urging countries to adopt comprehensive strategies based on local knowledge of where the virus is spreading. Border closures and travel restrictions remain an important part of many countries’ strategy to combat the novel coronavirus. At the same time, rising cases in a range of countries in Europe and elsewhere that had loosened measures after appearing to get their outbreaks under control have spurred discussions of possible fresh border closures. But the UN health body warned that such measures cannot be kept up indefinitely, and are also only useful when combined with a wide range of other measures to detect and break chains of transmission.

“Continuing to keep international borders sealed is not necessarily a sustainable strategy for the world’s economy, for the world’s poor, or for anybody else,” Michael Ryan, WHO emergencies director, told journalists in a virtual briefing. “It is going to be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders shut for the foreseeable future,” he said, pointing out that “economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume.” He acknowledged that when it comes to COVID-19, it is impossible to have a “global one size fits all policy” because outbreaks are developing differently in different countries. While countries with rampant community transmission may need to use the blunt instrument of lockdowns to gain control of the situation, others should be burrowing down to get a clear overview of where and how the virus is spreading at a local level.

They should be prepared to tighten or loosen measures accordingly, he said, warning against “releasing pressure” on the virus, which has killed some 650,000 people and infected 16.3 million worldwide.”Release pressure on the virus and the numbers can creep back up.” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said that instead of expecting drastic measures to keep the virus in check, people need to adapt their behaviours for the long haul. “What we’re going to have to figure out… is what our new normal looks like?” she told reporters. “Our new normal includes physical distancing from others, (and) wearing masks where appropriate,” she said. “Our new normal includes us knowing where this virus is each and every day, where we live, where we work, where we want to travel.”

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Wonder what the situation will be in one week, two weeks.

Six US States See Record COVID19 Deaths, Latinos Hit Hard In California (R.)

A half-dozen U.S. states in the South and West reported one-day records for coronavirus deaths on Tuesday and cases in Texas passed the 400,000 mark as California health officials said Latinos made up more than half its cases. Arkansas, California, Florida, Montana, Oregon and Texas each reported record spikes in fatalities. In the United States more than 1,300 lives were lost nation wide on Tuesday, the biggest one-day increase since May, according to a Reuters tally. California health officials said Latinos, who make up just over a third of the most populous U.S. state, account for 56% of COVID-19 infections and 46% of deaths. Cases are soaring in the Central Valley agricultural region, with its heavily Latino population, overwhelming hospitals. The state on Tuesday reported 171 deaths.


Florida saw 191 coronavirus deaths in the prior 24 hours, the state health department said. Texas added more than 6,000 new cases on Monday, pushing its total to 401,477, according to a Reuters tally. Only three other states – California, Florida and New York – have more than 400,000 total cases. The four are the most populous U.S. states. California and Texas both reported decreases in overall hospitalizations as Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top U.S. infectious diseases expert, saw signs the surge could be peaking in the South and West while other areas were on the cusp of new outbreaks. Fauci said early indications showed the percentage of positive coronavirus tests rising in Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky.

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Panic over low numbers.

Hong Kong Warns City On Verge Of Large Coronavirus Outbreak (R.)

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has warned the city is on the brink of a large-scale outbreak of the coronavirus and urged people to stay indoors as much as possible as strict new measures to curb the disease’s spread take effect on Wednesday. The new regulations ban gatherings of more than two people, close dining in restaurants and make the wearing of face masks mandatory in public places, including outdoors. These are the toughest measures introduced in the city since the outbreak. The government has also tightened testing and quarantine arrangements for sea and air crew members, effective on Wednesday.


“We are on the verge of a large-scale community outbreak, which may lead to a collapse of our hospital system and cost lives, especially of the elderly,” Lam said in a statement late on Tuesday. “In order to protect our loved ones, our healthcare staff and Hong Kong, I appeal to you to follow strictly the social distancing measures and stay at home as far as possible.” The new measures, which will be in place for at least seven days, were announced on Monday after the global financial hub saw a spike in locally transmitted cases over the past three weeks. On Tuesday, Hong Kong reported 106 new coronavirus cases, including 98 that were locally transmitted. Since late January, more than 2,880 people have been infected in the former British colony, 23 of whom have died.

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Imports of vast quantities of oil that was bought in April means China’s buying a whole lot less now. And their storage is rapidly filling up.

China’s Surging Crude Imports Mask Weakness In The Rest Of Asia (R.)

The ongoing flood of crude oil into China is obscuring the fact that demand in the rest of Asia remains weak, and that countries in the world’s top-consuming region didn’t join China is stocking up when prices slumped. China’s crude imports set consecutive records in May and June, and will remain at high levels in July and likely August too, as the massive volumes of oil bought during a brief price war in April enter the country. China imported 12.9 million barrels per day (bpd) in June, eclipsing the prior all-time high of 11.3 million bpd in May, according to official data. Imports for July may set a new record high, with Refinitiv Oil Research estimating 13.04 million bpd will be offloaded in the month.

Tracking China’s imports has been made more tricky by the sheer volume of tankers heading to, or waiting at, ports. Delays in discharging cargoes mean that August’s figures may get a bit of a boost from the earlier buying spree. Crude prices plunged to the lowest in 17 years in late April after Saudi Arabia and Russia, the leading producers in the group known as OPEC+, disagreed on whether to extend and deepen output cuts in a bid to support prices. The Saudis said they would sell as much oil as they could, and the sheer volume of oil being made available, coupled with the economic hit from the spreading novel coronavirus pandemic, saw benchmark Brent futures drop as low as $15.98 a barrel on April 22, some 78% down from this year’s peak of $71.75 in early January.

While the price war didn’t persist, with OPEC+ agreeing to extend and deepen output cuts, it did last long enough to give refiners an opportunity to stock up with bargain-basement crude. However, it appears that only Chinese refiners took up the offer, and perhaps trading houses with access to storage tanks, with many Asian buyers apparently more worried about the demand hit from the coronavirus than they were tempted by the low crude prices.

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OPEC, the whole structure of it, is not made for downsizing. It won’t survive it.

OPEC Prepares For An Age Of Dwindling Demand (R.)

The coronavirus crisis may have triggered the long-anticipated tipping point in oil demand and it is focusing minds in OPEC. The pandemic drove down daily crude consumption by as much as a third earlier this year, at a time when the rise of electric vehicles and a shift to renewable energy sources were already prompting downward revisions in forecasts for long-term oil demand. It has prompted some officials in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, oil’s most powerful proponent since it was founded 60 years ago, to ask whether this year’s dramatic demand destruction heralds a permanent shift and how best to manage supplies if the age of oil is drawing to a close.

“People are waking up to a new reality and trying to work their heads around it all,” an industry source close to OPEC told Reuters, adding the “possibility exists in the minds of all the key players” that consumption might never fully recover. Reuters interviewed seven current and former officials or other sources involved in OPEC, most of whom asked not to be named. They said this year’s crisis that sent oil below $16 a barrel had prompted OPEC and its 13 members to question long-held views on the demand growth outlook. Just 12 years ago, OPEC states were flush with cash when oil peaked above $145 a barrel as demand surged. Now it faces a dramatic adjustment if consumption starts a permanent decline. The group will need to manage even more closely its cooperation with other producers, such as Russia, to maximise falling revenues and will have to work to ensure relations inside the group are not frayed by any fratricidal dash to defend market share in a shrinking businesses.

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Their only real line is they compete with each other.

Nothing will happen, though, because they all work with and for US intelligence.

Big Tech CEOs To Defend Their Companies By Listing Competitors (R.)

The chief executives of four of the world’s largest tech companies, Amazon.com, Facebook, Apple and Alphabet’s Google , plan to argue in a congressional hearing on antitrust on Wednesday that they face intense competition from each other and from other rivals. The testimony from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Tim Cook, which was released Tuesday, portrays four chief executives who are looking over their shoulders at competitors who could render them obsolete. Pichai argued that search – which Google dominates by most metrics – was broader than just typing a query into Google, and said he remained concerned about being relevant as people turn to Twitter, Pinterest or other websites for information.

“We know Google’s continued success is not guaranteed. Google operates in highly competitive and dynamic global markets, in which prices are free or falling, and products are constantly improving,” Pichai said in the prepared remarks. The four will testify reut.rs/2DhrEFT to a panel of lawmakers investigating how their business practices and data gathering have hurt smaller rivals as they seek to retain their dominance, or expand. In his remarks, Bezos said Amazon occupies a small share of the overall retail market and competes with retailers like Walmart (WMT.N), which is twice its size. He also said the coronavirus pandemic boosted e-commerce businesses across the spectrum and not just Amazon.

Bezos also lays out how small sellers have succeeded on Amazon’s third-party marketplace, a practice that has come under scrutiny from lawmakers. In his prepared testimony, Zuckerberg argued that Facebook competes against other companies appearing at the hearing and against others globally. Zuckerberg will also defend Facebook’s acquisitions by saying the social media platform helped companies like WhatsApp and Instagram grow. Both are owned by Facebook. He will also remind lawmakers of the competitive threat U.S. tech companies face from China, saying that China is building its “own version of the internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries.”

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Investing in bankrupt companies. Thanks, Jay Powell.

“People Have Too Much Money To Play With” (BBG)

The warning to shareholders of newly bankrupt Ascena Retail Group Inc. could hardly have been more direct. There it is, in black-and-white, on page 5 of the court declaration filed by Ascena’s most senior official just hours into the case: “Existing common equity in Ascena will be canceled.” Full stop. Creditors will take ownership of the retail chain, which Ascena also made plain. So how did stock investors respond? By bidding up the shares just shy of 120%, on off-the-charts volume. It was a similar story for bankrupt Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. The airborne Wi-Fi service jumped more than 50% on July 24 after its court filing, despite warning shareholders earlier in July that they stood to lose everything to creditors in a Chapter 11 case.


And it hearkens back to Hertz Global Holdings Inc., whose stock became Example A of post-bankruptcy rallies. The persistent mania for busted companies baffles financial advisers. “What’s going on here? I really couldn’t tell you; it’s not something I would ever recommend to anyone,” said George Gagliardi at Coromandel Wealth Management in Lexington, Massachusetts. “People have too much money to play with,” said Dennis Nolte, an adviser at Florida’s Seacoast Investment Services. “Most of these traders won’t be around when the bankruptcy proceedings are complete. Just turn the light off when you leave the room, if the lights aren’t turned off by the utility company because there’s no money to pay the bill.”

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Bet you didn’t think the Council on Foreign Relations would come with this.

It Is Time to Abandon Dollar Hegemony (Foriegn Affairs)

In the 1960s, French Finance Minister Valéry Giscard d’Estaing complained that the dominance of the U.S. dollar gave the United States an “exorbitant privilege” to borrow cheaply from the rest of the world and live beyond its means. U.S. allies and adversaries alike have often echoed the gripe since. But the exorbitant privilege also entails exorbitant burdens that weigh on U.S. trade competitiveness and employment and that are likely to grow heavier and more destabilizing as the United States’ share of the global economy shrinks. The benefits of dollar primacy accrue mainly to financial institutions and big businesses, but the costs are generally borne by workers.

For this reason, continued dollar hegemony threatens to deepen inequality as well as political polarization in the United States. Dollar hegemony isn’t foreordained. For years, analysts have warned that China and other powers might decide to abandon the dollar and diversify their currency reserves for economic or strategic reasons. To date, there is little reason to think that global demand for dollars is drying up. But there is another way the United States could lose its status as issuer of the world’s dominant reserve currency: it could voluntarily abandon dollar hegemony because the domestic economic and political costs have grown too high.

The United States has already abandoned multilateral and security commitments during the administration of President Donald Trump—prompting international relations scholars to debate whether the country is abandoning hegemony in a broader strategic sense. The United States could abandon its commitment to dollar hegemony in a similar way: even if much of the rest of the world wants the United States to maintain the dollar’s role as a reserve currency—just as much of the world wants the United States to continue to provide security—Washington could decide that it can no longer afford to do so. It is an idea that has received surprisingly little discussion in policy circles, but it could benefit the United States and ultimately, the rest of the world.

The dollar’s dominance stems from the demand for it around the world. Foreign capital flows into the United States because it is a safe place to put money and because there are few other alternatives. These capital inflows dwarf those needed to finance trade many times over, and they cause the United States to run a large current account deficit. In other words, the United States is not so much living beyond its means as accommodating the world’s excess capital. Dollar hegemony also has domestic distributional consequences—that is, it creates winners and losers within the United States. The main winners are the banks that act as the intermediaries and recipients of the capital inflows and that exercise excessive influence over U.S economic policy. The losers are the manufacturers and the workers they employ. Demand for the dollar pushes up its value, which makes U.S. exports more expensive and curtails demand for them abroad, thus leading to earnings and job losses in manufacturing.

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Treason sounds big, any charge in that direction would suffice. Problem is, they have only 3 months left.

DOJ Could Pursue Treason Charges Over Russia Probe Misconduct – Steube (JTN)

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., sharply rebuked the FBI and suggested that the Department of Justice could potentially pursue charges of treason in connection with conduct related to the Trump-Russia investigation. “If it’s not clear to you now, it should be abundantly clear when these indictments start coming out for individuals involved in this through the Durham probe, that … this was a politicized, weaponized FBI at the highest level that was solely trying to take down a presidential campaign and then an incumbent president once he got sworn in—and that should scare every American,” Steube said during an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast.


The Florida Republican, an Army veteran who has worked as an Airborne Infantry Officer and JAG Corps Officer, said that he believes “the level to which this agency and these individuals were trying to thwart an incoming president, to me, is treasonous.” The congressman believes the DOJ should be able to pursue charges of lying to Congress—he also said that there should be consequences for “misrepresentations” before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Steube said that the FBI’s reputation has been severely damaged. “We’re not talking about individual agents operating in field offices across the country. We’re talking about the leadership of the FBI operating the FBI in a way that they’re deceiving the FISA Court, that they’re surveilling on American citizens for political purposes. And it completely discredited an agency that was once esteemed throughout law enforcement,” the congressman noted.

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First reaction: yes, sure, gag the victims.

Ironically, though, if the material IS widely distributed it may help Maxwell in trying to have the case thrown out.

Ghislaine Maxwell Fights To Keep Nude Photos And Sexualised Videos Secret (RT)

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, accused of grooming underage girls for pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, has requested a gag order against prosecutors to keep evidence including naked photos and ‘sexualised’ videos private. Maxwell, 58, was arrested earlier in July and is scheduled to be tried for sex-trafficking offenses in a Manhattan federal court in July next year. She has pleaded not guilty to charges that she’d groomed and aided the abuse by Epstein of at least three girls throughout the 1990s. Court documents show that Maxwell’s lawyers want to keep the evidence, which they describe as “highly confidential information” and including “nude, partially-nude, or otherwise sexualised images, videos or depictions of individuals” private, to prevent it appearing online and potentially impacting a series of civil lawsuits leveled against her by survivors of Epstein’s abuse.


“There is a substantial concern that these individuals will seek to use discovery materials to support their civil cases and future public statements,” Maxwell’s attorney Christian Everdell, the prosecutor who brought Mexican drug cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to justice, explained. The proposed order, submitted Monday, is somewhat routine in sex-abuse cases but prosecutors have refused the request that witnesses and lawyers in the trial would be subject to any gag orders, and are expected to reply officially later on Tuesday. “The defense believes that potential government witnesses and their counsel should be subject to the same restrictions as the defense concerning appropriate use of the discovery materials – namely, if these individuals are given access to discovery materials during trial preparation, they may not use those materials for any purpose other than preparing for trial in the criminal case, and may not post those materials on the Internet,” the affidavit said.

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Two cases came before a court on the 27th. One on London, and one in Madrid. Spying on clients and their attorneys, spying on a president, it should be enough to have the entire case vs Assange thrown out.

Assange Spied On Like ‘In A Film,’ Lawyer Says (Rap)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was spied on while holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London like “in a film,” his lawyer Baltasar Garzon said Monday, July 27, after testifying at a top Spanish court probing the allegations. Assange, who is in a British prison after being removed from the embassy last year, filed a lawsuit against private Spanish security firm Undercover Global, accusing it of spying on him and passing the information to the United States. The company was in charge of providing security at the embassy during the bulk of the seven years which the 49-year-old Australian spent inside the building.

Garzon, a prominent former Spanish judge, said he had seen images taken inside of the embassy of Assange talking to his lawyers which were allegedly recorded by the company. “This is scandalous, we think this only happens in spy movies but this is not a spy movie because someone’s life is at stake,” he told reporters after testifying at Spain’s National Court in Madrid. Assange has accused the firm of gathering information on him through video cameras and hidden microphones, copying identity documents and monitoring visitors’ mobile phones, and then passing the information to the US intelligence services. The lawsuit is key to Assange’s efforts to fight an extradition request by the US Justice Department which wants to put him on trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

Garzon said Assange’s legal team has provided British courts with information about the alleged spying because it has “a direct impact on the extradition and shows, in our view, that Julian Assange was the target of political persecution.” Assange’s extradition hearing will take place on September 7. Spain’s National Court in June opened an investigation into a complaint by Ecuador’s ex-president Rafael Correa that Undercover Global also spied on him. Correa accuses the firm, which provided him with security services until 2019, of “monitoring and taking photos” of his meetings with Garzon, who made global headlines in 1998 when former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London.

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The law has been rendered meaningless. Therefore, so have the courts that are tasked with upholding it. That is not a trifle matter.

It’s Not Assange Who Should Be Facing Prosecution (Can.)

On 27 July two court hearings took place – one in the UK, the other in Spain. Both concerned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. From their proceedings, it became clear that it’s not Assange who should be facing prosecution, but the current office holder of the US presidency and his associates. At the 27 July ‘administrative hearing’ at Westminster magistrates court, Judge Vanessa Baraitser stated that the prosecution had failed to present its latest ‘superseding indictment‘. That superseding indictment was first made public on 24 June, just prior to the last court hearing, though the prosecution failed to submit the document to that hearing too. Defence lawyer Edward Fitzgerald made it clear to the court that he was concerned the prosecution might still try to present the superseding indictment later, so as to delay the extradition hearings. He argued:

“We are concerned about a fresh request being made at this stage with the potential consequence of derailing proceedings and that the US attorney-general is doing this for political reasons.” Indeed, prosecution barrister Joel Smith refused to comply with any timeline to serve the superseding indictment. However, Baraitser told Smith that the deadline to submit the superseding indictment had passed. Controversially, the superseding indictment provided testimony from known (but unnamed) FBI informants, both of whom have criminal convictions and were engaged in entrapment operations. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the prosecution did not formally present a copy of the superseding indictment to the court. What the judge did not address, however, is that by publishing the superseding indictment on the internet, the US department of justice may have prejudiced the case against Assange – and that could be grounds for dismissal of all charges.

Meanwhile in Spain, the prosecution of David Morales, who is charged with organising the surveillance of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, proceeds, with testimony from former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who is representing Assange. Morales, via his company UC Global, is also accused of providing that surveillance to US intelligence services. Assange lawyer Geoffrey Robertson commented that the surveillance constituted a “serious crime in European law”. Also monitored were meetings between Assange and some of his other lawyers, including Melinda Taylor, Jennifer Robinson, and Garzón. Surveillance also included logging of visitors, such as Gareth Peirce, another of Assange’s lawyers, as well as a seven-hour session between Assange and his legal team on 19 June 2016.

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Apr 102020
 


Edward Hopper Burly Cobb’s House, South Truro 1930-33

 

Doctors Alarmed After Some COVID19 Patients Test Positive After Recovering (RT)
Doctors Say Ventilators Are Overused For COVID19 (Stat)
Pay Cuts, Furloughs, Layoffs For Doctors, Nurses, Healthcare Workers (BI)
New York Has More Cases Than Any Country (BBC)
Trump: Widespread Testing ‘Would Never Happen’, Not Needed To Reopen US (NW)
UK Gov’t: Keep Economy Running, We Will All Get COVID-19 Anyway (Nafeez Ahmed)
Ex-IMF Head Economist: Western Economies Slow To React (BBC)
Americans In Lebanon Decline Repatriation Offer: ‘It’s Safer In Beirut’ (CNN)
US Shouldn’t Bail Out Hedge Funds, Billionaires – Chamath Palihapitiya (CNBC)
WHO Chief And Taiwan In Row Over ‘Racist’ Comments (BBC)
Japan Will Pay Its Firms to Leave China, Relocate Production (N18)
China Factory Gate Deflation Deepens (R.)
How Greece Flattened The Coronavirus Curve (AlJ)
Saudi Energy Minister Says OPEC+ Oil Pact Hinges On Mexico Joining (R.)
US Banks Prepare To Seize Energy Assets As Shale Boom Goes Bust (R.)
Chicago Jail Reports 450 Coronavirus Cases Among Staff, Inmates (R.)
Assange Not Infected But Says Many in Belmarsh Are (CN)

 

 

US records 1,783 virus deaths in past 24 hours: Johns Hopkins
April 7: 1,939, April 8: 1.973

 

 

Cases 1,615,049 (+ 85,971 from yesterday’s 1,529,078)

Deaths 96,791 (+ 7,380 from yesterday’s 89,411)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer – NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 21% ! NOTE 2: the number of active cases that are critical or severe is going down. 4% now.

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Info.live:

 

 

 

 

We keep seeing articles that depict how poor our understanding of the virus is. Sometimes I even wonder how many people died from that, instead of the virus itself.

Doctors Alarmed After Some COVID19 Patients Test Positive After Recovering (RT)

Troublesome results from South Korea and China, showing some of the patients who recovered from the coronavirus test positive again, could throw off widely accepted strategies for battling the virus, from shutdowns to vaccines. After about 50 recovered patients in the city of Daegu tested positive for Covid-19 again, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) launched an investigation into whether they were somehow reinfected, or if the virus had made a comeback. “While we are putting more weight on reactivation as the possible cause, we are conducting a comprehensive study on this,” said KCDC Director-General Jeong Eun-kyeong, as quoted by Bloomberg.

While reinfection would be problematic, reactivation is a more troubling prospect. In addition to raising questions about post-recovery immunity to the virus, it would pose a major challenge to mitigation strategies adopted around the world. If there is a high risk of Covid-19 reactivating among the people considered cured, that would mean longer quarantines and delays in reopening businesses and public spaces. Other possibilities include false positives, if the tests pick up residue from the initial infection, or prolonged “shedding” of the virus load missed by the tests at discharge because the levels were just under the limit.

South Korea has often been cited as one of the success stories of the pandemic, keeping the total number of infections to 10,400 and the death toll to 204, through strict quarantine, widespread testing and contact tracing measures. Further troubling news comes from China, where the novel coronavirus was first detected in December last year. A team of scientists at Fudan University analyzed blood samples from 175 patients discharged from a hospital in Shanghai and found that almost a third had “unexpectedly low” levels of antibodies, and in at least ten cases, no antibodies at all.

“Whether these patients were at high risk of rebound or reinfection should be explored in further studies,” the team said in a preliminary research paper released on Monday. While it has not been peer-reviewed or evaluated, the authors say they did the world’s first systematic examination of antibody levels in recovered Covid-19 patients. All of the people examined had recovered from mild symptoms, and most of those with low antibody levels were young, in the 15-39 age group. By contrast, the 60-85 age group had three times the amount of antibodies, the scientists said. If some patients do not develop antibodies, this could have serious implications for both vaccinations and “herd immunity.”

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More poor understanding.

Doctors Say Ventilators Are Overused For COVID19 (Stat)

Even as hospitals and governors raise the alarm about a shortage of ventilators, some critical care physicians are questioning the widespread use of the breathing machines for Covid-19 patients, saying that large numbers of patients could instead be treated with less intensive respiratory support. If the iconoclasts are right, putting coronavirus patients on ventilators could be of little benefit to many and even harmful to some. What’s driving this reassessment is a baffling observation about Covid-19: Many patients have blood oxygen levels so low they should be dead. But they’re not gasping for air, their hearts aren’t racing, and their brains show no signs of blinking off from lack of oxygen.

That is making critical care physicians suspect that blood levels of oxygen, which for decades have driven decisions about breathing support for patients with pneumonia and acute respiratory distress, might be misleading them about how to care for those with Covid-19. In particular, more and more are concerned about the use of intubation and mechanical ventilators. They argue that more patients could receive simpler, noninvasive respiratory support, such as the breathing masks used in sleep apnea, at least to start with and maybe for the duration of the illness. “I think we may indeed be able to support a subset of these patients” with less invasive breathing support, said Sohan Japa, an internal medicine physician at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “I think we have to be more nuanced about who we intubate.”

That would help relieve a shortage of ventilators so critical that states are scrambling to procure them and some hospitals are taking the unprecedented (and largely untested) step of using a single ventilator for more than one patient. And it would mean fewer Covid-19 patients, particularly elderly ones, would be at risk of suffering the long-term cognitive and physical effects of sedation and intubation while being on a ventilator. None of this means that ventilators are not necessary in the Covid-19 crisis, or that hospitals are wrong to fear running out. But as doctors learn more about treating Covid-19, and question old dogma about blood oxygen and the need for ventilators, they might be able to substitute simpler and more widely available devices.

An oxygen saturation rate below 93% (normal is 95% to 100%) has long been taken as a sign of potential hypoxia and impending organ damage. Before Covid-19, when the oxygen level dropped below this threshold, physicians supported their patients’ breathing with noninvasive devices such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP, the sleep apnea device) and bilevel positive airway pressure ventilators (BiPAP). Both work via a tube into a face mask. [..] because in some patients with Covid-19, blood-oxygen levels fall to hardly-ever-seen levels, into the 70s and even lower, physicians are intubating them sooner. “Data from China suggested that early intubation would keep Covid-19 patients’ heart, liver, and kidneys from failing due to hypoxia,” said a veteran emergency medicine physician. “This has been the whole thing driving decisions about breathing support: Knock them out and put them on a ventilator.”

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Obvious no. 1 for the government to prevent.

Pay Cuts, Furloughs, Layoffs For Doctors, Nurses, Healthcare Workers (BI)

Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston started temporarily laying off 900 workers this week, a move it expects will last through June. Salaried employees are facing a 15% cut, and hourly workers who don’t care for patients will be working fewer hours. The hospital confirmed that workers won’t face cuts if they are treating patients with COVID-19,. Though some hourly workers already had reduced hours due to lower volume, they won’t see more cuts if they’re moved onto the COVID-19 response team, said hospital spokeswoman Heather Woolwine. The cuts at MUSC came as the hospital saw a 75% drop in surgeries, 30% fewer patients arriving at the hospital, and 70% fewer patients arriving there by ambulance. Without staffing changes, it projected a $100 million loss through June 30.

In Oklahoma, Hillcrest HealthCare System announced it is putting about 600 employees on an estimated 90-day furlough, which is a temporary layoff without pay, though some might be called back sooner if they’re needed. The furloughs affect workers in administration, surgery, and outpatient care, where patient visits have gone down, said Rachel Weaver Smith, spokeswoman for Hillcrest. About 20% of staff are facing furloughs, reassignments, or reduced hours or pay, but the changes don’t extend to staff treating people with COVID-19, Weaver Smith said.

[..] There’s no central place where hospitals are reporting all of their layoffs or how much money they’re losing. The American Hospital Association, which represents more than 5,000 hospitals, has sounded the alarm about the industry’s financial difficulties and said that quickly distributing funding from the CARES Act would help facilities keep their doors open. About $30 billion will go out in the coming days, according to Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but it’s not clear when or how the rest will be distributed.

Read more …

There are some 20 million people in NY State. Much less than in Spain, Italy etc.

New York Has More Cases Than Any Country (BBC)

New York state now has more coronavirus cases than any other country outside the US, according to latest figures. The state’s confirmed caseload of Covid-19 jumped by 10,000 on Thursday to 159,937, placing it ahead of Spain (153,000 cases) and Italy (143,000). China, where the virus emerged last year, has reported 82,000 cases. The US as a whole has recorded 462,000 cases and nearly 16,500 deaths. Globally there are 1.6 million cases and 95,000 deaths. While New York state leads the world in coronavirus cases, its death toll (7,000) lags behind Spain (15,500) and Italy (18,000), though it is more than double the official figure from China (3,300).


Photo: Reuters- Lucas Jackson

Photos have emerged of workers in hazmat outfits burying coffins in a mass grave in New York City. Drone footage showed workers using a ladder to descend into the huge pit where the caskets were stacked. The images were taken at Hart Island, off the Bronx, which has been used for more than 150 years by city officials as a mass burial site for those with no next-of-kin, or families who cannot afford funerals. Burial operations at the site have ramped up amid the pandemic from one day a week to five days a week, according to the Department of Corrections. Prisoners from Rikers Island usually do the job, but the rising workload has recently been taken over by contractors.

Read more …

Imagine you’re a country that has imposed a 2-3 month lockdown on its people, and you’re slowly getting out. Would you then invite mass numbers of untested Americans?

Trump: Widespread Testing ‘Would Never Happen’, Not Needed To Reopen US (NW)

President Donald Trump on Thursday said a widespread COVID-19 testing program to assess whether workers can safely return to their workplaces is “never going to happen” in the United States. As he addressed reporters during the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Trump touted the fact that 2 million Americans had been tested for the virus as a “milestone” in the U.S. fight against the global pandemic caused by SARS-Cov-2. The 2 million tests that have been administered so far represents a high water mark after weeks of problems in obtaining and administering tests caused by the Trump administration’s rejection of a test developed by the World Health Organization. However, that number means only .61 percent of the 330 million U.S. population has been tested for COVID-19.

That’s a paltry number compared to many other countries which have implemented testing programs. Italy, for example, has administered tests to approximately 1.4 percent of its population, and South Korea, which flattened its infection curve with widespread testing, has reached .9 percent of its population. Most public health experts have stressed the need for the U.S. to significantly expand its testing program, both with currently available tests to determine whether a given person is infected with SARS-Cov-2, and with so-called “antibody tests” to determine whether a person has successfully fought off the virus and is therefore immune to it.

Both varieties of test, experts say, must be administered in far greater quantities than currently being done in order to allow Americans to return to work without fear of infection, though Trump has repeatedly suggested that the U.S. could begin to emerge from social distancing measures within a few weeks. But when asked how his administration could discuss “reopening” the U.S. economy without an adequate testing program in place, Trump claimed that such a program was not just unnecessary, but was something that was simply not in the cards. “Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes,” Trump said.

Read more …

Long piece by Nafeez. I don’t know, when people spell Government with a capital G, I scratch my head.

UK Gov’t: Keep Economy Running, We Will All Get COVID-19 Anyway (Nafeez Ahmed)

Leaked recordings of a Home Office conference call on Tuesday, exclusively obtained by Byline Times, reveal that the Government has all but given up in its fight against the Coronavirus and is intent on simply finding “a method of managing it within the population”. The recordings show Home Office Deputy Science Advisor Rupert Shute stating repeatedly that the Government believes “we will all get” COVID-19 eventually. The call further implied that the Government now considers hundreds of thousands of deaths unavoidable over a long-term period consisting of multiple peaks of the disease. While urging the importance of reducing the burden on the NHS by staying at home, Shute downplayed the risk of people contracting the virus at work.

He said: “It’s perfectly okay to carry on around your business. And it’s vitally important that you do as there’s a whole bunch of supply chains and the economy that needs to continue running… So carrying on with your normal work is not putting you in harms way anymore so than staying at home or going out shopping. So I keep coming back to this point that we are all going to get this at some point. And it’s about making sure that we have a really strong NHS there to support us when we do get sick.” The policy being communicated by the Home Office privately among Government staffers is at odds with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement at a press conference three weeks ago that the next 12 weeks could “turn the tide of this disease”.


[..] A fuller analysis of leaked recordings obtained by Byline Times reveals that the Government remains committed to the idea that the vast majority of the UK population will contract COVID-19, making a minimum number of deaths inevitable, albeit over a longer period of time. Using the Government’s own lowest estimate of a fatality rate at around 0.5%, this confirms that it has resigned itself to the expectation that some 264,000 Britons will inevitably die in ensuing months and years from the disease. The recordings provide a sobering insight into how the scientific advice feeding into Government policy is evolving – without, however, being meaningfully communicated to the British public or being subjected to external scientific scrutiny.

Read more …

Western politicians focus on the economy, and only miles after that see anything else.

Ex-IMF Head Economist: Western Economies Slow To React (BBC)

The coronavirus was “taken a little more lightly” by western economies compared to those in Asia, says a former IMF chief economist. Raghuram Rajan said western economies are facing a drop in economic growth by as much as 6% this year. The widespread closure of businesses is having a huge financial impact as governments prevent the virus spread. His comments come as the IMF warns the global economy faces its worst crisis since the 1930s depression. “I think in the west, partly because there hadn’t been a direct experience of a serious epidemic, it was taken a little more lightly,” Mr Rajan told the BBC’s Asia Business Report on Friday. “This is something happening in faraway lands, it’s not going to be serious here.

“It’s all too easy to point fingers after the fact but what I’m saying is that the countries in East Asia that had the experience of previous pandemics, which didn’t quite rise to the level of pandemics I should say… but previous epidemics, they took this seriously right from the get-go.” Mr Rajan, a former governor of India’s central bank, praised South Korea and Singapore as two Asian economies that have handled the virus outbreak well. For his native India, he warned that it had “limited tools” given how densely populated the country is. “It’s hard to do social distancing anywhere in the normal course. Your markets are chock-full of people. Your dwellings are chock-full of people. And so I think the government is trying to attempt to reduce the pace of increase with this lockdown.”

His said it was necessary to send the message to people to take this pandemic seriously. “This is not fun and games, this is really about life and death, and if it really explodes in India, we really don’t have the resources to deal with that.” The economist, who is a finance professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, gave a bleak forecast for western economies as he expects them to shift from expansion to contraction. “At this point, we’re probably thinking of western countries seeing a shift in GDP growth from about 2 percentage to 3 percentage points, to negative 4 or 5 percentage points. “Each country is going to lose 5 to 6 percentage points of GDP at the very least over this year. So cumulate that, that’s significantly more than $2 trillion”.

Read more …

When Iran became a major case, there were fears for Lebanon as well. But so far it’s done well.

Americans In Lebanon Decline Repatriation Offer: ‘It’s Safer In Beirut’ (CNN)

Carly Fuglei was with a group of Danish friends in Beirut last month when she first considered moving back to the United States. They were preparing to leave Lebanon amid fears of a major coronavirus outbreak there, and tried to convince her to do the same. But the 28-year-old humanitarian consultant from Montana decided to stay. After Lebanon closed its borders on March 19 to stem the spread of the global pandemic, she began furnishing her rooftop terrace. Her time in Beirut, she realized, would be indefinite. “I made that decision for a combination of personal reasons and calculations about the virus that we’re all making,” says Fuglei. “I think that I am probably safer here.”

It’s a decision that several US citizens in Beirut who CNN spoke to have echoed, citing skyrocketing cases in the US. When the US government last week said it would fly its citizens and permanent residents to the US on a chartered flight for $2,500 per person, some Americans took to Twitter to publicly decline the offer. “And no, Mom, I’m not going,” Beirut-based freelance journalist Abby Sewell wrote in a tweet about the US embassy announcement. Responding to her tweet, a Lebanese journalist said: “For once I’m like no America is not safer than here.” Sewell’s mother, Meg Sewell, replied: “Actually, for the moment I might have to agree.” Sewell tells CNN she never considered taking the US embassy’s offer.

“From everything I’m reading, the situation is worse in the US, in terms of the number of cases, prevention measures or lack thereof, and how overburdened the health system is,” she says. “Also, since I’ve been living overseas for years, I don’t have health insurance in the US now, so if I did go back and then got sick, I would be looking at paying thousands of dollars out of pocket.” [..] Just under 12,000 tests for coronavirus have been carried out so far in Lebanon. That equates to around 0.1% of the population (by contrast, roughly 0.3% of the population in Britain, and 1.1% of the population of Germany have been tested). As a result, the ministry of public health believes it is underestimating the scale of its outbreak. It has urged more people to get tested. Lebanon’s ministry of public health has vowed to boost the number of screenings to as many as 2,000 a day. It says anyone with mild to severe symptoms is entitled to be tested.

Read more …

It will take pitchforks to change this.

US Shouldn’t Bail Out Hedge Funds, Billionaires – Chamath Palihapitiya (CNBC)

Chamath Palihapitiya, founder and CEO of investment firm Social Capital, told CNBC on Thursday that the U.S. shouldn’t be bailing out billionaires and hedge funds during the coronavirus pandemic. “On Main Street today, people are getting wiped out. Right now, rich CEOs are not, boards that have horrible governance are not. People are,” Palihapitiya, an early Facebook executive, said on CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report.” “What we’ve done is disproportionately prop up poor-performing CEOs and boards, and you have to wash these people out.” “Just to be clear on who we are talking about. We’re talking about a hedge fund that serves a bunch of billionaire family offices, who cares? They don’t get the summer in the Hamptons?” he said.

“These are the people that purport to be the most sophisticated investors in the world.” Palihapitiya also said he was concerned that the Federal Reserve’s plans to support to economy during the COVID-19 crisis are going to have consequences. The Fed earlier in the day announced a slew of new moves aimed at getting another $2.3 trillion of financing into businesses and governments, including its Main Street business lending program and market interventions. The central bank said its loans will be geared toward businesses with up to 10,000 employees and less than $2.5 billion in revenues for 2019. Programs would total up to $2.3 trillion and include the Payroll Protection Program and other measures aimed at getting money to small businesses and bolstering municipal finances with a $500 billion lending program, it added.

But Palihapitiya said it would have been better to just give more money to Americans. “I’m not disagreeing with what the Fed has to do. What I’m saying is it’s creating a land mine, and it’s creating a bill that will have to come due,” he said. “It would be better for the Fed to have given half a million to every man, woman and child in the United States,” he added.

Read more …

“For years, we have been excluded from international organisations, and we know better than anyone else what it feels like to be discriminated against and isolated..”

WHO Chief And Taiwan In Row Over ‘Racist’ Comments (BBC)

A row has erupted after the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) accused Taiwan’s leaders of spearheading personal attacks on him. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he had been subjected to racist comments and death threats for months. But President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan opposed any form of discrimination, and invited Dr Tedros to visit the island. Taiwan said it had been denied access to vital information as the coronavirus spread. The WHO rejects this. Taiwan is excluded from the WHO, the United Nations health agency, because of China’s objections to its membership. The Chinese Communist Party regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and claims the right to take it by force if necessary. The WHO has also been criticised by US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to withdraw US funding to the agency.


Dr Tedros said he had been at the receiving end of racist comments for the past two to three months. “Giving me names, black or negro,” he said. “I’m proud of being black, or proud of being negro.” He then said he had received death threats, adding: “I don’t give a damn.” The WHO chief said the abuse had originated from Taiwan, “and the foreign ministry didn’t disassociate” itself from it. But Ms Tsai said Taiwan was opposed to discrimination. “For years, we have been excluded from international organisations, and we know better than anyone else what it feels like to be discriminated against and isolated,” Reuters news agency quoted her as saying. “If Director-General Tedros could withstand pressure from China and come to Taiwan to see Taiwan’s efforts to fight Covid-19 for himself, he would be able to see that the Taiwanese people are the true victims of unfair treatment.”

Read more …

Many countries will follow. Big shift.

Japan Will Pay Its Firms to Leave China, Relocate Production (N18)

Japan is willing to fund its companies to shift manufacturing operations out of China, Bloomberg has reported as the disruptions caused to production by the coronavirus pandemic has forced a rethink of supply chains between the major trading partners. As part of its economic stimulus package, Japan has earmarked $2.2 billion to help its manufacturers shift production out of China. Of this amount, 220 billion yen ($2 billion)is for companies shifting production back to Japan and 23.5 billion yen for those seeking to move production to other countries. China is Japan’s biggest trading partner under normal circumstances, but imports from China have slumped by almost half in February due to lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus hitting manufacturing and the supply chain.


Shinichi Seki, an economist at the Japan Research Institute, predicted that there would be a shift in the coming days as there already was renewed talk of Japanese firms reducing their reliance on China as a manufacturing base. “Having this in the budget will definitely provide an impetus,” he told Bloomberg. Companies, such as car makers, which are manufacturing for the Chinese domestic market, will likely stay put, he said. The Japanese government’s panel on future investment had last month discussed the need for manufacturing of high-added value products to be shifted back to Japan, and for production of other goods to be diversified across Southeast Asia. More than 37 per cent of the 2,600 companies surveyed by Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd. in February had also said they were diversifying procurement to places other than China amid the coronavirus crisis.

Read more …

Someone mentions the D word!.

China Factory Gate Deflation Deepens (R.)

China’s factory gate prices fell the most in five months in March, with deflation deepening and set to worsen in coming months as the economic damage wrought by the coroanvirus outbreak at home and worldwide shuts down many countries. The world’s second-largest economy is trying to restart its engines after weeks of near paralysis to contain the pandemic that had severely restricted business activity, flow of goods and the daily life of people. Friday’s data from the National Bureau of Statistics suggested a durable recovery was some way off, with China’s producer price index (PPI) falling 1.5% from a year earlier, the biggest decline since October last year. It compared with a median forecast of a 1.1% fall tipped by a Reuters poll of analysts and a 0.4% drop in February.


Headline consumer inflation also eased somewhat last month, partly led by government control measures, while core prices remained benign, leaving more room for monetary easing, some analysts said. The overall decline in the factory gate gauge was exacerbated by a slump in global oil and commodities prices, which filtered through to crude oil, steel and non-ferrous metal industries, the statistics bureau said in a statement accompanying the data. “The issue of having more supply than demand, and persistently low oil prices, will intensify deflationary pressures,” said Yang Yewei, a Beijing-based analyst with Southwest Securities.

Read more …

3 different articles on “How Greece Did It” today, This one from Al Jazeera, others are the Independent and an op-ed at Bloomberg.

How Greece Flattened The Coronavirus Curve (AlJ)

When Greece cancelled carnival celebrations in late February, many people thought the measure excessive. In the western city of Patra, which hosts Greece’s most flamboyant carnival parade, thousands defied the ban and took to the streets. “The government has ordered an end to all municipal activities … but this is a private enterprise. No one can shut it down,” said a jubilant reporter for the local Ionian TV in front of a crew dressed up as 17th-century French courtiers. “They’re gathering here on St George’s Square, where the [Greek] revolution began in 1821, and that’s symbolic,” he said. Greeks quickly put their revolutionary spirit aside, however, and largely heeded government advice to remain indoors. The result has been a remarkably low number of deaths – 81 by Tuesday, compared to more than 17,000 in neighbouring Italy.

Even adjusted for population sizes, Italy’s fatality rate is almost 40 times greater. Compared with other European Union members, too, Greece has fared better. Its fatalities are far lower than in Belgium (2,035) or the Netherlands (1,867), which have similar populations, but a much higher GDP. “State sensitivity, co-ordination, resolve, swiftness, seem not to be matters of economic magnitude,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently told a pared-down session of parliament. “Our schools closed before we had the first fatality. Most countries followed a week or two later, after they had mourned the loss of dozens,” he said.

George Pagoulatos, a political economist who heads the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), a think-tank, agrees that the government displayed “a very professional, managerial approach early on”, albeit largely dictated by inherent national weaknesses. Greece had very shallow resources with which to tackle a large outbreak. A decade of austerity saw its national healthcare expenses cut by three-quarters. Its intensive care beds numbered just 560 last month, though the government has now raised that to 910, and hired more than 4,000 extra doctors and nurses. Another weakness is that at least a quarter of Greece’s population is over 60, and elderly patients have been deemed particularly at risk from coronavirus.

All this has meant that a forward line of defence was Greece’s only real defence – but it has paid off. Greece is using only a tenth of its ICU beds, and has plenty of capacity left over.

Read more …

Put pressure on Mexico but not the US. BAU.

Saudi Energy Minister Says OPEC+ Oil Pact Hinges On Mexico Joining (R.)

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Friday that a final OPEC+ oil supply pact to reduce 10 million barrels per day (bpd), which was agreed on Thursday, hinges on Mexico joining in the cuts. OPEC, Russia and other allies, a group known as OPEC+, outlined plans on Thursday to cut their oil output by more than a fifth, but said a final agreement was dependent on Mexico signing up to the pact after it balked at the production cuts it was asked to make. Discussions among top global energy ministers will resume on Friday. “I hope (Mexico) comes to see the benefit of this agreement not only for Mexico but for the whole world. This whole agreement is hinging on Mexico agreeing to it,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told Reuters by telephone.


Global fuel demand has plunged by around 30 million bpd, or 30% of global supplies, as steps to fight the coronavirus have grounded planes, cut vehicle usage and curbed economic activity. The kingdom will host an extraordinary meeting by video conference at 12.00 GMT on Friday for energy ministers from the Group of 20 major economies. Asked about other countries such as the United States, Canada and Brazil joining the OPEC+ cut pact, Prince Abdulaziz said: “They will do it in their own way, using their own approaches, and it is not our job to dictate to others what they could do based on their national circumstances.” [..] The planned output curbs by OPEC+ amount to 10 million bpd, or 10% of global supplies, with another 5 million bpd expected to come from other nations, according to sources, to help deal with the deepest oil crisis in decades.

Read more …

Shale outdid subprime in sheer craziness.

US Banks Prepare To Seize Energy Assets As Shale Boom Goes Bust (R.)

Major U.S. lenders are preparing to become operators of oil and gas fields across the country for the first time in a generation to avoid losses on loans to energy companies that may go bankrupt, sources aware of the plans told Reuters. JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup are each in the process of setting up independent companies to own oil and gas assets, said three people who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The banks are also looking to hire executives with relevant expertise to manage them, the sources said. The banks did not provide comment in time for publication. Energy companies are suffering through a plunge in oil prices caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a supply glut, with crude prices down more than 60% this year.

Although oil prices may gain support from a potential agreement Thursday between Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut production, few believe the curtailment can offset a 30% drop in global fuel demand, as the coronavirus has grounded aircraft, reduced vehicle use and curbed economic activity more broadly. Oil and gas companies working in shale basins from Texas to Wyoming are saddled with debt. The industry is estimated to owe more than $200 billion to lenders through loans backed by oil and gas reserves. As revenue has plummeted and assets have declined in value, some companies are saying they may be unable to repay.

Whiting Petroleum Corp became the first producer to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 1. Others, including Chesapeake Energy Corp, Denbury Resources Inc and Callon Petroleum Co, have also hired debt advisers. If banks do not retain bankrupt assets, they might be forced to sell them for pennies on the dollar at current prices. The companies they are setting up could manage oil and gas assets until conditions improve enough to sell at a meaningful value.

Read more …

A whole bunch of scared people together in not very much space.

Chicago Jail Reports 450 Coronavirus Cases Among Staff, Inmates (R.)

Some 450 inmates and staff have tested positive for coronavirus at Chicago’s largest jail, county corrections officials said on Thursday, representing one of the nation’s largest outbreaks of the respiratory illness at a single site so far in the pandemic. The surge of cases at Cook County Jail marks the latest flare-up of COVID-19 at jails and prisons in major cities across the United States, where detainees often live in close quarters. The situation gained national attention earlier this week when inmates posted handmade signs pleading for help in the windows of their cells overlooking a public street. “Sheriff’s officers and county medical professionals are aggressively working round-the-clock to combat the unprecedented global coronavirus pandemic,” the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said in a written statement on Thursday.


Those measures include opening an off-site 500-bed “quarantine and care facility” for prisoners, an effort to move as many inmates as possible from double to single cells, and the opening of a testing site at the jail. “Front line” staff members were being checked for fever at the start of each shift and issued protective equipment if they interact with inmates, according to the sheriff’s department.[..] In Monroe, Washington, inmates at a minimum-security prison vandalized the facility in a protest on Wednesday evening after officials announced that six prisoners had tested positive for COVID-19, according to Washington state’s Department of Corrections. State and local police and corrections officers quelled the disturbance at the prison 24 miles northeast of Seattle using pepper spray, sting balls and rubber pellets, the corrections department said.


Signs made by prisoners pleading for help in a window of Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., April 9, 2020 REUTERS/Jim Vondruska

Read more …

“More than 150 Belmarsh guards are in self-isolation and the prison is barely functioning..”

Assange Not Infected But Says Many in Belmarsh Are (CN)

Julian Assange has told a friend in a telephone conversation on Wednesday that he is living in a prison in which the coronavirus is “ripping through” the population. He told photojournalist Vaughan Smith, founder of London’s Frontline Club, that he is isolated 23 1/2 hours a day and spends 30 minutes in a prison yard packed with other inmates. More than 150 Belmarsh guards are in self-isolation and the prison is barely functioning, Smith said. Assange did not show up for a video link to his case management hearing at Westminster Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. A court official was overheard by three people present in the courtroom saying that Assange was “unwell.” He is not infected with Covid-19, but Vaughan says his life is threatened by it in prison.

Read more …

 

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Thanks everyone for your generous donations.

 

 

Sound on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mar 092020
 


 

‘Fake Wealth’ Set To Pop (ABR)
Global Markets Plunge 7-8%, Oil Falls 30% To $30 (G.)
Goldman Cuts Brent Forecasts To $30 On Price War, Virus (R.)
Gig Economy Workers Can’t Afford To Be Ill (G.)
Plummeting Oil Prices And Mortgage Rates Could Boost Consumers (CNBC)
More Countries Will Adopt Italy’s Measures – Austria PM (G.)
Leaked Italy Quarantine Plans Create Chaos, Threaten To Spread Virus (ZH)
Charities Preparing To Feed Children If Schools Shut Over Coronavirus (G.)
NYC Asks Commuters to Stay Off Public Transit ‘If You Can’ (NBC)
A Perfect Storm Of Nationalism And Financial Speculation (Varoufakis)
Tyre Wear Produces 1,000 Times More Harmful Pollution Than Car Exhausts (BW)
Putin Saves Erdogan From Himself (Escobar)
Fiona Hill Says Putin Has America ‘Exactly Where He Wants Us’ (CNN)

 

 

As I wrote yesterday in The Virus is a Time Machine, it’s not about the number of deaths or cases, it’s about the disruption. Today, stock markets are down 7-8%, and oil plummeted 30% to $30. At your service. “Fake Wealth” is popping, say some.

Italy has an oversized role today so far, but there are a number of countries that could take off at any time now. As I said in that article, US, Germany, France, Spain appear to be in a phase where for instance Italy was about a week ago.

Something odd about the numbers today is that COVID2019.app puts South Korea at 8,100 cases, while the other two have it at around 7,400. It must be hard getting the numbers right, and on time.

 

Cases 110,607 (+ 4,120 from yesterday’s 106,487)

Deaths 3,831 (+ 231 from yesterday’s 3,600)

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening (before their day’s close)

 

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID2019.app:

 

 

 

 

Smart cookie.

‘Fake Wealth’ Set To Pop (ABR)

Sharemarket and property investors are about to experience a reckoning that sweeps away the pretence of “fake wealth and artificial economy”, Lucerne Investment Partners portfolio manager Jerome Lander says. In a note to clients issued on Monday, Mr Lander said investors were “reacting in horror to the reality of the coronavirus as it begins its exponential growth around the world”. His note came as the Australian sharemarket was experiencing its biggest one-day fall since the global financial crisis, with the S&P/ASX 200 plunging 6 per cent to a 14-month low of 5840.90 amid a collapse in oil prices. “This is a truly frightening pandemic with significant ramifications which much of the developed world is unlikely to cope with well,” Mr Lander said.

“The reality is ICUs [intensive care units] are likely to be overrun around the world and people will increasingly seek to avoid social contact and hide at home in order to avoid contracting the deadly virus.” Mr Lander said a 10 per cent ICU admission rate for Italy’s 1492 cases of coronavirus was a “truly horrifying statistic”. Underlying economic weaknesses was being expose, he said. “One bubble after another is at risk of popping, as the fake wealth and artificial economy of the last few years explodes in the face of a devastating global recession.” With sharemarkets now “crashing, with delusional housing prices likely to follow”, he predicted central banks would shortly attempt to restore order to financial markets through so-called quantitative easing.

“Unlimited QE is likely but won’t help alter the destruction from the pandemic,” Mr Lander said. “These are truly dangerous times for all investors, but particularly for those holding large amounts of overvalued equity and property assets at fake economy prices.”

Read more …

Trillions upon trillions in fake wealth are going POOF. And the central banks that created the fake wealth will throw more fake money at the walls.

Global Markets Plunge 7-8%, Oil Falls 30% To $30 (G.)

Global stock markets have suffered their biggest falls since the 2008 financial crisis while the oil price crashed amid panic selling because of the double threat of a coronavirus-driven global recession and an oil price war. The FTSE 100 index in London plunged 8.5% to 5,911 points, losing 550 points, when trading began on Monday morning. Germany’s Dax tumbled 7.5% and Spain’s Ibex lost 7%. Asian markets also recorded huge losses as fears over the world economy were exacerbated by the shock decision by Saudi Arabia over the weekend to ramp up oil production in an attempt to drive rivals such as Russia and the US out of the market.

The price of Brent crude oil fell almost 30% to $31.14 on Monday, its biggest decline since the start of the Gulf war in 1991. Some experts expect it to fall further unless the Saudis and Russians return to the bargaining table. Turmoil spread on international markets as the coronavirus epidemic deepened around the world. Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe, was plunged into chaos as government plans to quarantine more than 16m people – more than a quarter of its population – were leaked to the media. Italian bond yields jumped on Monday. The number of people infected by coronavirus worldwide has passed 110,000.

Stock markets in Asia Pacific experienced the worst wave of selling since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 heralded the onset of the global financial crisis. With fears growing of a recession in Australia because of the virus, the Australian share market closed down 7.4%. The Nikkei in Japan fell more than 5%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Sen lost 3.9% and the Shanghai stock exchange dropped just over 3%. US 10-year government bond yields fell to fresh record lows and the Japanese yen and gold soared as investors rushed into safe haven investments.

Read more …

Putin stopped supporting MbS. Isn’t that a good thing? How much do we like MbS?

Goldman Cuts Brent Forecasts To $30 On Price War, Virus (R.)

Goldman Sachs cut its second- and third-quarter Brent price forecasts to $30 per barrel, citing the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia and a significant collapse in oil demand due to the coronavirus that has killed more than 3,500 globally. Oil fell by the most since 1991 on Monday after Saudi Arabia started a price war with Russia by slashing its selling prices and pledging to unleash its pent-up supply onto a market reeling from falling demand because of the virus outbreak. “The aggressive cut to Saudi’s Official Selling Prices and Russia’s reluctance to be pushed into a deal on Friday point to a low probability of an immediate (OPEC+) agreement,” Goldman said in a note dated March 8.

A three-year pact between OPEC and Russia ended in acrimony on Friday after Moscow refused to support deeper oil cuts and OPEC responded by removing all limits on its own production. “While we can’t rule out an OPEC+ deal in coming months, we also believe that this agreement was inherently imbalanced and its production cuts economically unfounded,” the bank said. Goldman’s base case is now for no such deal, it said. Goldman’s base case is now for no such deal, it said. Lower oil prices will start creating acute financial stress and declining production from shale as well as other high cost producer, the bank said.

There will be a negligible response from U.S. shale producers in the second quarter, but output will fall in the third quarter by 75,000 barrels per day (bpd) and a further 250,000 bpd in the fourth quarter of 2020, the bank said. This will not prevent, however, a third-quarter supply surplus of 1.2 million bpd. “At that point, the fundamental rebalancing could require oil prices falling to operational stress levels for high-cost producers with well-head cash costs near $20/bbl,” it said.

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Home deliveries are set to double, but the people working the field don’t get paid anything. The future’s so bright…

Gig Economy Workers Can’t Afford To Be Ill (G.)

Shane Stephen, a Deliveroo rider, pulls a snood over his mouth and nose as he manoeuvres his mountain bike down a narrow side-street in central London. It is his makeshift defence against coronavirus. “If I catch something I’m screwed,” explains the 23-year-old. “Gig economy workers can’t afford to be ill. My bank balance is literally £4 something right now.” Stephen – like tens of thousands of other couriers and drivers in the UK – is classed as self-employed and therefore not entitled to any sick pay. He stands to gain nothing from Boris Johnson’s pledge last Wednesday to give coronavirus-hit workers statutory sick pay from the first day off work rather than the fourth. Yet Stephen and other gig economy couriers could be called on to deliver food and other essentials to self-isolating households when the virus reaches its peak.

Some industry analysts foresee the number of home deliveries doubling if people are told to work from home and avoid large gatherings under the government’s so-called social-distancing strategy, which will kick in if the virus continues to spread across the country. Unions representing gig economy workers, such as the GMB and Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), fear couriers with coronavirus symptoms may keep working. “Many will carry on because they need to put food on the table and pay the rent. They will then come into contact with other people and spread the virus,” says Mick Rix from the GMB, which represents thousands of couriers. “This would be going against everything the government is trying to achieve at the moment.”

[..] Josh Lane (not his real name) jumps into his DPD Local van after making a delivery in Tottenham. He cleans his hands with hand sanitiser. “I’m in a rush, but I’m doing my bit,” he says through the rolled-down window. However, the 30-year-old cannot afford to stop work if he contracts the virus. “It’s like a flu and I’ve worked through flu before. If you’re self-employed you have to continue working,” he says. “It’s not about me. I’ve got three children. I’m not about to make them starve because of coronavirus. If I’m physically able to work, then isolation is not happening for me.”

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The kind of stuff that stumps me: “This resiliency of the consumer will once again support equities and most likely show that this current market reaction is a ‘blip’..

These people have zero connection to reality.

Plummeting Oil Prices And Mortgage Rates Could Boost Consumers (CNBC)

As the deadly coronavirus spreads across the globe, oil prices are down 30% for the year and the average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen to an eight-year low. It’s positive news for consumers in the short term, even as some economists warn that the virus could tip the U.S economy into recession as the outbreak escalates. The drop in mortgage rates and oil prices could boost consumer confidence, which rose less than expected in February just one day after the stock market had one of its worst days amid virus concerns. A boost in consumer confidence, in turn, could ease those recession fears. “The U.S. economy is 70% consumer driven,” said John Kilduff, founding partner of Again Capital.

“A drop in gasoline prices acts like a tax cut, freeing up money to spend in other sectors of the economy, especially discretionary sectors, such as travel and leisure and dining.” The relentless pace of headlines related to the coronavirus, however, could ultimately act as a psychological break on any boost in confidence that low oil prices and mortgage rates might deliver to the consumer. “The question is whether the fear factor attributable to the virus will overwhelm any positive impact from lower gasoline prices and lower mortgage rates,” said Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research. “That’s hard to answer, but it seems to me that fear is winning the tug of war currently as evidenced by the drop in stock prices and the panicky responses of governments, the media … and the public,” he added.

[..] Jeff Kilburg, founder and CEO of KKM Financial, said that the short-term reaction to lower oil prices will translate into lower prices at the pump for Americans, and that in combination with historically low mortgage rates will provide substantial strength for consumers in the second quarter. “This resiliency of the consumer will once again support equities and most likely show that this current market reaction is a ‘blip,’ not the end of this bull market … and certainly not the beginning of a recession,” Kilburg said.

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Absolutely right. Will I be able to get to Greece in time?

More Countries Will Adopt Italy’s Measures – Austria PM (G.)

Austria’s chancellor has said other European countries will be forced to adopt containment measures as drastic as Italy’s, after Rome placed a quarter of the population in lockdown in an effort to halt the rapid spread of the coronavirus. As the head of the World Health Organization praised Italy’s “genuine sacrifices”, Sebastian Kurz said the situation in Austria, which has reported 99 Covid-19 cases, was under control and the measures it had adopted were appropriate for the time being. He said EU leaders and health ministers were in close contact over their countries’ handling of the epidemic [..] “It will be important to decide which steps to take when,” Kurz said. “You can close schools for one or two weeks and this is urgently necessary in Italy. It will happen in other European countries. The decisive question is when to do it.”

The difficulty will be in balancing the need to head off a peak in infections that could paralyse public health systems against excessive economic damage, he said. “You have to consider carefully when to adopt these measures, because a national economy cannot handle this over too long a period.” Speaking to French radio, the EU commissioner for the single market, Thierry Breton, said European countries were “each acting according to the latest available data in their countries. The virus has spread faster in some places than in others, so naturally the measures in each differ”. In the US, Anthony Fauci, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health, said Americans , and particularly those who are vulnerable, may have to stop attending big gatherings. Nor could large-scale quarantines be ruled out, he said.

The WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, tweeted his appreciation for Rome’s efforts after the government published a decree barring people from entering or leaving vast areas of northern Italy without good reason until 3 April. The quarantine zones are home to about 16 million people and include the regions around Venice and the financial capital, Milan. Cinemas, theatres and museums will be closed nationwide and leave has been cancelled for health workers as the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said the country was facing a national emergency.

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You announce an upcoming travel ban, so what do people do? Travel.

Leaked Italy Quarantine Plans Create Chaos, Threaten To Spread Virus (ZH)

Italians have become inured to alarming news over the past month as the outbreak has spiraled out of control in Lombardy. But following a flurry of uncontrolled leaks warning about an imminent lockdown as part of the government’s planned emergency decree, restaurants and bars started emptying out and many fled to the train station, where they hopped trains to get out of the region, especially those who had plans to travel elsewhere that were being interrupted by the lockdown. According to an SCMP reporter in Padua, packed bars and restaurants quickly emptied out as news of a coming lockdown hit, as many people rushed to the railway station. Travellers with suitcases, wearing face masks, gloves and carrying bottles of sanitising gel shoved their way on to the local train.

This appears to have been a phenomenon across the North. The video shows passengers with large bags packed heading toward a cross-country train to take them out of the quarantine zone and into the Italian south, where the virus has penetrated, but infection numbers and deaths remain much lower than in the north. This could be terrible news for the impoverished south: experts have repeatedly warned that southern Italy – best known as an agricultural and fishing center rife with organized crime – doesn’t possess the medical infrastructure to handle a surge in life-threatening cases of pneumonia. While Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly insisted during his seemingly never-ending series of press conferences that the panic is worse than the virus itself, in Italy, the situation is rapidly deteriorating on both fronts.

One epidemiologist described the series of panic-provoking leaks as “pure madness.” Fortunately, Italian markets were closed during the panic, and now people have more or less accepted the new rules. But at this point, the horse is already out of the barn. Panicked Italians are now traveling around the country, potentially bringing the virus with them. “The draft of a very harsh decree is leaked, sparking panic and prompting people to try and flee the [then] theoretical red zone, carrying the virus with them,” wrote Italian virologist Roberto Burioni on Twitter. “In the end, the only effect is to help the virus to spread. I’m lost for words.”

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Even before the virus, Britain’s reality is devastating: ““or so many families now, schools are the first line of defence against hunger..“

Charities Preparing To Feed Children If Schools Shut Over Coronavirus (G.)

A charity led by the archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to help feed children if schools are closed by coronavirus, amid fears the withdrawal of free school dinners could leave up to 3 million children at risk of hunger. Feeding Britain, which runs food poverty schemes in 12 areas of England including Cornwall, Leicester, Barnsley and South Shields, is exploring how to set up emergency programmes similar to those used to feed the poorest children during the summer holidays. The Akshaya Patra Foundation, which serves thousands of hot meals to children every summer in London boroughs, is also “prepared to enter crisis mode”, while food projects in Bristol and Huddersfield said they were exploring how their schemes to feed hundreds of children in school holidays could be adapted to help cope with emergency closures.

“For so many families now, schools are the first line of defence against hunger,” said Andrew Forsey, the national director of Feeding Britain, whose president is the Most Rev Justin Welby. “In many cases it is breakfast as well as lunch, so if the schools close it’s two meals we have to find. There is early-stage planning going on around ensuring supplies of food and the extent of voluntary support that could be drawn upon if some schools do need to close.” Downing Street said on Tuesday that school closures would be among “distancing strategies” used if the virus became established in the UK. On Thursday, Italy closed all of its schools and colleges for a month.

[..] An immediate challenge is likely to be finding a way to deliver meals in a way that maintains the distance between people that school closures are meant to achieve. The Bristol project said it could involve delivering food parcels door-to-door. Forsey also said panic-buying that cleared supermarket shelves could hinder efforts as many free meal programmes relied on retailers’ donations.

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“106 people in New York have confirmed cases of Coronavirus. But- “As of Saturday only about 120 people in New York City had been tested..”

The dumbest advice ever. “Take the next train”.

NYC Asks Commuters to Stay Off Public Transit ‘If You Can’ (NBC)

City and state officials issued new travel suggestions amid growing novel coronavirus cases in the tri-state area. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio asked sick people to stay off public transit, especially subways and buses. Their warnings included a suggestion to avoid dense crowds on buses, subways and trains, or take alternate travel if possible. “If you take the subway and you are able to wait for a less packed train, please do. If you have the option of walking or biking, please do. Buses can be crowded too, but less than subways, so please use these if you can,” de Blasio said. “Move to a train car that is not as dense. If you see a packed train car, let it go by. Wait for the next train. Same if you’re taking a bus,” Cuomo said.


Avoiding public transit is not an option for most New Yorkers and they’re not afraid to let the mayor know. “Happy to ride a bike to work. Can you make it so people don’t die in Queens while biking? Vehicular deaths are a public health crisis too,” one Twitter user said in response to de Blasio’s announcement. In the city’s other effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, transit workers started to disinfect subway turnstiles, station handrails, MetroCard and ticket vending machines daily and other frequently used parts of the system, according to a statement from Transport Workers Union President Tony Utano. The deep clean extends to Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North and Access-A-Ride services as well. In addition to the daily cleaning, the MTA says its full fleet of subway trains and buses will undergo sanitization every 72 hours.

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I think Yanis is getting ahead of himself. What the situation will be once the pandemic is over is so murky right now we must all be very cautious about predicting anythig.

A Perfect Storm Of Nationalism And Financial Speculation (Varoufakis)

Nationalism and speculation have seldom had a better opportunity to combine forces as the one riding today on the coattails of Covid-19, known as the coronavirus. When Covid-19 leapfrogged from China to Italy, even ardent Europeanists normally appreciative of open borders joined the deafening calls to end freedom of movement across Europe’s national borders – a longstanding demand of nationalists. Meanwhile, the money men speculating on government debt are performing a classic flight from Italian to German government bonds, seeking the financial safety that only the continent’s hegemon can offer during any crisis. As if in a bid to remind us of the great contradiction of our times, Covid-19 is illuminating gloriously the freedom of money to transcend a borderless financial universe while humans remain as fenced in as ever.

Meanwhile in the United States, President Trump is combining his standard call for taller walls with a fresh instruction to moneymen to “buy the dip” in Wall Street, rather than to follow their natural instinct to seek refuge in the boring but safe bond markets. A great deal will depend on whether financiers believe Mr Trump or not, and not just because this is an election year. If speculators do believe the American president, Wall Street will recover swiftly even before the epidemic subsides. The forces of xenophobic financialisation will then have triumphed and America’s progressives will face an uphill struggle on every political front. As for the European Union, ruling elites will breathe a sigh of relief that a new depression was avoided and return to managing as best as they can the economic stagnation of recent times, tinged this time with a large dose of additional, coronavirus-reinforced, xenophobia.

Will Wall Street follow Mr Trump’s advice to “buy the dip”? For now, the large players are in two minds. The drop in the stock market does not worry them as such. Their concern is that the recent bull market was running on increasingly suspect debt and that Covid-19 may have pricked a bubble that was going to burst anyway. Similarly in Europe, the worst spectre hovering over investors’ heads is that large corporations, relying for too long on free money from the European Central Bank, may be downgraded from investment to junk-grade – especially so at a time of stagnant domestic demand and a collapsed Chinese import market.

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Maybe electric cars should run on electric tires?

Tyre Wear Produces 1,000 Times More Harmful Pollution Than Car Exhausts (BW)

Car tyres could be doing more damage to our health than the fumes from exhaust pipes, according to the results from a new test. Measurements found that 5.8 grams per kilometre of harmful particles are emitted by tyres as they wear when a car is being driven. That compares to 4.5 milligrams per kilometer produced from exhaust pipes of the latest vehicles on sale today – meaning harmful tyre outputs are higher by a factor of over 1,000. Assessments were conducted by UK-based experts Emissions Analytics, which specialises in calculating the pollution produced by cars in real-world driving.


The type of emissions tyres have been found to produce is harmful particulate matter that is almost impossible to see with the naked eye. It’s made up of microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter – also known as PM2.5 – pose the greatest risk to our health. Exposure can affect both the lungs and heart, with numerous scientific studies linking them to a variety of problems. This includes premature death in people with heart or lung disease, nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function and wider respiratory symptoms.

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But there are videos of Turkish troops destroying Greek fences to let migants pass. Erdogan is in Brussels today.

Putin Saves Erdogan From Himself (Escobar)

At the start of their discussion marathon in Moscow on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with arguably the most extraordinary diplomatic gambit of the young 21st century. Putin said: “At the beginning of our meeting, I would like to once again express my sincere condolences over the death of your servicemen in Syria. Unfortunately, as I have already told you during our phone call, nobody, including Syrian troops, had known their whereabouts.” This is how a true world leader tells a regional leader, to his face, to please refrain from positioning his forces as jihadi supporters – incognito, in the middle of an explosive theater of war. The Putin-Erdogan face-to-face discussion, with only interpreters allowed in the room, lasted three hours, before another hour with the respective delegations.

In the end, it all came down to Putin selling an elegant way for Erdogan to save face – in the form of, what else, yet another ceasefire in Idlib, which started at midnight on Thursday, signed in Turkish, Russian and English – “all texts having equal legal force.” Additionally, on March 15, joint Turkish-Russian patrolling will start along the M4 highway – implying endless mutating strands of al-Qaeda in Syria won’t be allowed to retake it. If this all looks like déjà vu, that’s because it is. Quite a few official photos of the Moscow meeting prominently feature Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu – the other two heavyweights in the room apart from both Presidents. In the wake of Putin, Lavrov and Shoigu must have read the riot act to Erdogan in no uncertain terms.

That’s enough: now behave, please – or else face dire consequences. A predictable feature of the new ceasefire is that both Moscow and Ankara – part of the Astana peace process, alongside Tehran – remain committed to maintaining the “territorial integrity and sovereignty” of Syria. Once again, there’s no guarantee that Erdogan will abide. It’s crucial to recap the basics. Turkey is deep in financial crisis. Ankara needs cash – badly. The lira is collapsing. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is losing elections. Former prime minister and party leader Ahmet Davutoglu – who conceptualized neo-Ottomanism – has left the party and is carving his own political niche. The AKP is mired in an internal crisis.

Erdogan’s response has been to go on the offensive. That’s how he re-establishes his aura. Combine Idlib with his maritime pretensions around Cyprus and blackmail pressure on the EU via the inundation of Lesbos in Greece with refugees, and we have Erdogan’s trademark modus operandi in full swing. In theory, the new ceasefire will force Erdogan to finally abandon all those myriad al Nusra/ISIS metastases – what the West calls “moderate rebels,” duly weaponized by Ankara. This is an absolute red line for Moscow – and also for Damascus. There will be no territory left behind for jihadis. Iraq is another story: ISIS is still lurking around Kirkuk and Mosul.

[..] No NATO fanatic will ever admit it, but once again it was Russia that just prevented the threatened “Muslim invasion” of Europe advertised by Erdogan. Yet there was never any invasion in the first place, only a few thousand economic migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Sahel, not Syrians. There are no “one million” Syrian refugees on the verge of entering the EU. The EU, proverbially, will keep blabbering. Brussels and most capitals still have not understood that Bashar al-Assad has been fighting al Nusra/ISIS all along. They simply don’t understand the correlation of forces on the ground. Their fallback position is always the scratched CD of “European values.” No wonder the EU is a secondary actor in the whole Syrian tragedy.

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To think there were scores of people who said Hill made so much sense. Very simple questions that remain unanswered: what exactly do the Russians do according to her, and how exactly does that divide Americans? Never an answer, other than “US intelligence believes that…”

Fiona Hill Says Putin Has America ‘Exactly Where He Wants Us’ (CNN)

President Donald Trump’s former top Russia adviser is warning that President Vladimir Putin has America “exactly where he wants us.” “Putin, sadly, has got all of our political class, every single one of us, including the media, exactly where he wants us. He’s got us feeling vulnerable…on edge, and he’s got us questioning the legitimacy of our own systems,” Fiona Hill told CBS’ Lesley Stahl in an interview set to air on “60 Minutes” Sunday. The interview marks the former top White House official’s first since testifying in the impeachment inquiry into Trump. During congressional hearings in the inquiry, Hill warned that the Republican defense of the President — by peddling Ukraine conspiracy theories — was in danger of extending Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Hill, who left the Trump administration last summer, has studied Russia for decades and is a critical biographer of Putin, authoring or co-authoring a number of books on Russia, including two editions of a book titled “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin. In the interview, Hill said Russia understands how to exploit American divisions. “The Russians didn’t invent partisan divides. The Russians haven’t invented racism in the United States,” Hill said. “But the Russians understand a lot of those divisions, and they understand how to exploit them.” Russian interference in the last presidential election — which the US intelligence community believes was aimed at boosting Trump’s candidacy and hurting his opponent, Hillary Clinton — led to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Part of the election interference included a Russian government-linked troll operation that sought to help Trump’s candidacy and undercut that of Clinton in part by posting messages in support of Sanders. Concerns over the Kremlin’s role in US politics have continued. The US intelligence community has assessed that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and has separately assessed that Russia views Trump as a leader they can work with. In February, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders also said his campaign was briefed about Russian efforts to help his operation. It was unclear how Russia was attempting to help the Vermont senator.

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Today is International Women’s Day. So of course the DNC changes its rules yet again, this time to bar its only remaining female candidate from participating in the next debate.

 


 

 

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Jun 302019
 


 

Trump Invites Kim Jong-Un to the White House (BI)
China Warns Of Long Road Ahead For Deal With US After Ice-Breaking Talks (R.)
Russia and Saudi Arabia Agree To Extend OPEC Oil Output Cuts Into 2020 (MW)
Johnson And Hunt Don’t Understand What It’s Like When A Wall Falls (G.)
The Extradition Cases of Pinochet & Assange (Vos)
UN Torture Rapporteur About Op-Ed On Assange Rejected By MSM (RT)
Boeing Outsourced Its 737 MAX Software To $9-Per-Hour Engineers (ZH)
Deutsche Bank’s Medieval Medicine (Coppola)
Declaration of Digital Independence (Sanger)
Italian Police Arrest Migrant-Rescue Ship Captain After Docking (R.)
Spike In Autism Linked To Preservative In Processed Foods (F.)

 

 

Big moment no matter what. The situation at the DMZ has changed a lot in the past year. It’s like the DMZ has been dimilitarized. Far fewer weapons, guards don’t even wear helmets anymore.

Trump Invites Kim Jong-Un to the White House (BI)

Donald Trump has invited Kim Jong Un to the White House, after he became the first serving American President to step over the North Korean border and shake hands with a North Korean leader. Trump crossed over from the demilitarized zone to shake hands with Kim Jong Un, after earlier offering the meeting on Twitter. “When I put out the social media notification, if he didn’t show up he would have made me look very bad,” Trump told reporters. Kim Jong Un responded that “I was very surprised to hear about your offer on the tweet and only late in the afternoon I was able to confirm your invitation.”

The US president described his relationship with the North Korean leader as a “great friendship.” “This was a special moment, a historic moment,” Trump told reporters. “Stepping across that line was a great honour. A lot of progress has been made and a lot of friendships have been made and this in particular is a great friendship.” Following their handshake, the two men took part in a press conference during which the US president confirmed that he was extending an invite to Kim Jong Un to the White House. Trump thanked Kim Jong Un for meeting him. “I want to thank the chairman. You’ve got to hear that powerful voice.”

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But at least talks are back on.

China Warns Of Long Road Ahead For Deal With US After Ice-Breaking Talks (R.)

China and the United States will face a long road before they can reach a deal to end their bitter trade war, with more fights ahead likely, Chinese state media said after the two countries’ presidents held ice-breaking talks in Japan. The world’s two largest economies are in the midst of a bitter trade war, which has seen them level increasingly severe tariffs on each other’s imports. In a sign of significant progress in relations on Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, agreed to a ceasefire and a return to talks.


However, the official China Daily, an English-language daily often used by Beijing to put its message out to the rest of the world, warned while there was now a greater likelihood of reaching an agreement, there’s no guarantee there would be one. “Even though Washington agreed to postpone levying additional tariffs on Chinese goods to make way for negotiations, and Trump even hinted at putting off decisions on Huawei until the end of negotiations, things are still very much up in the air,” it said in an editorial late Saturday. “Agreement on 90 percent of the issues has proved not to be enough, and with the remaining 10 percent where their fundamental differences reside, it is not going to be easy to reach a 100-percent consensus, since at this point, they remain widely apart even on the conceptual level.”

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What else could they do?

Russia and Saudi Arabia Agree To Extend OPEC Oil Output Cuts Into 2020 (MW)

Russia and Saudi Arabia have agreed to extend the OPEC oil production cuts deal by another six to nine months, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the G-20 leaders summit in Japan on Saturday. The OPEC+ group — the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, plus Russia and other producers — meet on July 1-2 to renegotiate the pact which expires June 30. In 2016, Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to try to jointly manage global oil output to support prices in what became known as the OPEC+ coalition and the current deal called for production cuts of 1.2 million barrels a day. “We will support the extension, both Russia and Saudi Arabia,” Putin said at a news conference in Osaka, Reuters reported.


“As far as the length of the extension is concerned, we have yet to decide whether it will be six or nine months. Maybe it will be nine months,” said Putin said, who met the crown prince on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. “In any event we will support the continuation of agreements, both Russia and Saudi Arabia, in the volumes previously agreed.” The announcement marks the first time a leader from the OPEC+ group has indicated the curbs could be needed into 2020. That reflects a gloomy outlook for oil demand next year due to a combination of slowing global economic growth and rising U.S. shale oil output.

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“For 34 years I lived behind the Iron Curtain so I know only too well what it means once borders vanish, once walls fall.”

Johnson And Hunt Don’t Understand What It’s Like When A Wall Falls (G.)

Perhaps it is a problem of language. The dictionary lacks a necessary word: UKish. Northern Ireland is not in Britain but it is in the UK. The porous boundary that divides it from the rest of Ireland is not, strictly speaking, a British frontier. So it is called “the Irish border”, making it, for the Brexiters, someone else’s problem. The terrain where a post-Brexit UK meets the remaining 27-member EU bloc is, as the miserable Tory leadership debate shows yet again, somewhere over there. For Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, its troubles are, as Neville Chamberlain might put it, “a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing”. They might have to know more about it if only we could call it what it is: the UKish border.

Hunt and Johnson both agree that a no-deal Brexit must be kept alive as a serious proposition. Both also agree that once in Downing Street they will reopen negotiations with the EU with the primary aim of ditching from the withdrawal agreement the so-called Irish backstop, which is also, of course, the UKish backstop. Hunt puts this in more emollient terms than Johnson, but makes up for this weakness by promising to include on his negotiating team representatives of the famously emollient Democratic Unionist party, which does not represent most voters in Northern Ireland. All of this is so drearily familiar (this hobbyhorse comes round and round on the non-stop Brexit carousel) that it is hard to remember how surreal it is.

It is weird not just because the backstop was designed around British demands; not just because Hunt and Johnson were in the cabinet when it was negotiated; not just because they both voted for it in parliament; and not just because the EU has repeated, over and over, that, in the words of the European council in January: “The backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement and the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation.” That should be enough to be going on with, but there is an even deeper absurdity. On 4 April last, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, flew to Dublin [..] she said: “For 34 years I lived behind the Iron Curtain so I know only too well what it means once borders vanish, once walls fall.”

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Crazy enough that these two people are mentioned in the same sentence.

The Extradition Cases of Pinochet & Assange (Vos)

In October 1998, Pinochet, whose regime became a byword for political killings, “disappearances” and torture, was arrested in London while there for medical treatment. A judge in Madrid, Baltasar Garzón, sought his extradition in connection with the deaths of Spanish citizens in Chile. Citing the aging Pinochet’s inability to stand trial, the United Kingdom in 2000 ultimately prevented him from being extradited to Spain where he would have faced prosecution for human rights abuses. At an early point in the proceedings, Pinochet’s lawyer, Clare Montgomery, made an argument in his defense that had nothing to do with age or poor health.

“States and the organs of state, including heads of state and former heads of state, are entitled to absolute immunity from criminal proceedings in the national courts of other countries,” the Guardian quoted Montgomery as saying. She argued that crimes against humanity should be narrowly defined within the context of international warfare, as the BBC reported. Montgomery’s immunity argument was overturned by the House of Lords. But the extradition court ruled that the poor health of Pinochet, a friend of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, would prevent him from being sent to Spain. Though the cases of Pinochet and Assange are separated by more than two decades, two of the participants are the same, this time playing very different roles.

Montgomery reappeared in the Assange case to argue on behalf of a Swedish prosecutor’s right to seek a European arrest warrant for Assange. Her argument ultimately failed. A Swedish court recently denied the European arrest warrant. But as in the Pinochet case, Montgomery helped buy time, this time allowing Swedish sexual allegations to persist and muddy Assange’s reputation. Garzón, the Spanish judge, who had requested Pinochet’s extradition, also reappears in Assange’s case. He is a well-known defender of human rights, “viewed by many as Spain’s most courageous legal watchdog and the scourge of bent politicians and drug warlords the world over,” as the The Independent described him a few years ago. He now leads Assange’s legal team.

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Melzer is not planning to let go. Now where’s his support?

“When you start exposing an isolated individual who can’t defend himself to a sustained campaign of humiliation, of shame, of ridicule, even death threats, then it can cause severe psychological trauma.”

UN Torture Rapporteur About Op-Ed On Assange Rejected By MSM (RT)

The UN rapporteur on torture told RT about the fanciful excuses Western media used to avoid publishing his damning op-ed on the extreme pressure Julian Assange was exposed to – despite covering every wild allegation against him. A host of reputed Western media outlets turned a deaf ear to Nils Melzer and his op-ed in which he said Julian Assange was exposed to enormous psychological trauma and isolation while in the Ecuadorian Embassy, and afterwards in the UK high-security prison. “Some of them said it wasn’t high enough on their news agenda, some of them said it wasn’t within their core area of interest.”

“The explanations seem awkward given that the same newspapers – the Guardian, the Times, the Washington Post, the Telegraph, and others – have been running news stories about Assange “when it was about his cat and his skateboard and… allegations that he smeared excrement on the walls.” “But when you have a serious piece that actually tries to de-mask this public narrative and to actually show the facts below it, then they’re not interested.”

In his piece, which was eventually published on blogging website Medium, Melzer admitted he “had been blinded by propaganda” and didn’t believe Assange was being dehumanized through isolation, ridicule, and shame. He even asked himself how could “life in an Embassy with a cat and a skateboard ever amount to torture.” “I didn’t know Assange, so I took with me experienced medical experts, a psychiatrist and a forensic expert that have worked for decades in examining torture victims,” he told RT. These experts, he said, found that Assange showed “all the symptoms that are typical for a person who has been exposed to prolonged psychological torture.”

He has been exposed to public mobbing. Now, that’s the slippery slope… When you start exposing an isolated individual who can’t defend himself to a sustained campaign of humiliation, of shame, of ridicule, even death threats, then it can cause severe psychological trauma.

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Criminal investigation next.

Boeing Outsourced Its 737 MAX Software To $9-Per-Hour Engineers (ZH)

The software at the heart of the Boeing 737 MAX crisis was developed at a time when the company was laying off experienced engineers and replacing them with temporary workers making as little as $9 per hour, according to Bloomberg. In an effort to cut costs, Boeing was relying on subcontractors making paltry wages to develop and test its software. Often times, these subcontractors would be from countries lacking a deep background in aerospace, like India. Boeing had recent college graduates working for Indian software developer HCL Technologies Ltd. in a building across from Seattle’s Boeing Field, in flight test groups supporting the MAX. The coders from HCL designed to specifications set by Boeing but, according to Mark Rabin, a former Boeing software engineer, “it was controversial because it was far less efficient than Boeing engineers just writing the code.”


Rabin said: “…it took many rounds going back and forth because the code was not done correctly.” In addition to cutting costs, the hiring of Indian companies may have landed Boeing orders for the Indian military and commercial aircraft, like a $22 billion order received in January 2017. That order included 100 737 MAX 8 jets and was Boeing’s largest order ever from an Indian airline. India traditionally orders from Airbus. HCL engineers helped develop and test the 737 MAX’s flight display software while employees from another Indian company, Cyient Ltd, handled the software for flight test equipment. In 2011, Boeing named Cyient, then known as Infotech, to a list of its “suppliers of the year”. One HCL employee posted online: “Provided quick workaround to resolve production issue which resulted in not delaying flight test of 737-Max (delay in each flight test will cost very big amount for Boeing).”

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Does Merkel really want to risk things getting worse?

Deutsche Bank’s Medieval Medicine (Coppola)

If there is one thing that Deutsche Bank executives agree on, it is the efficacy of medieval medicine. Bloodletting, to be precise. Successive Chief Executives have bled the patient, but it hasn’t recovered: profits remain disappointing, and the share price has continued to decline. So the latest incumbent is going to bleed it again – on a much larger scale. On Friday, June 28, the Wall Street Journal revealed plans to slash up to 20,000 jobs worldwide. This would reduce full-time headcount to just over 70,000, the lowest since the financial crisis. The WSJ says the staff cuts will fall “across all divisions and business lines.” But the largest cuts are expected to fall on the investment bank and the troubled U.S. arm. Deutsche Bank has been trying – and largely failing – to reduce its staff costs for years.

It may surprise people to learn that despite repeated cuts, Deutsche Bank’s headcount is significantly higher than it was in 2008. This is mainly due to the acquisition of PostBank in 2010, which added 18,000 employees. Back in 2016, Deutsche Bank announced plans to cut its headcount to 77,000, largely through disposing of PostBank. But when the PostBank disposal evaporated, so too did the headcount reductions. The bank now intends to integrate PostBank with its own retail bank, and says this will achieve “synergies” (i.e. cost savings). Presumably that will mean headcount reductions, though it is not clear whether these are included in the plans leaked to the WSJ.

But there has also been a gradual increase in headcount in other divisions, notably the investment bank. Frankly, given the bank’s awful performance in recent years, it is hard to see what benefit this has brought. It looks suspiciously like empire-building to me. Or perhaps gambling. “Recruit some star performers, they’ll soon turn this business round….” [..] Deutsche Bank’s high cost-income ratio isn’t caused by clerks in retail branches. No, it is due to the insanely high salaries and bonuses Deutsche Bank pays to traders and analysts in its investment bank. And above all, it is due to executive management’s head-in-the-sand attitude to business lines in terminal decline. In 2016, despite glaringly poor performance in its equities division, Deutsche Bank recruited more equities analysts. Now, it appears to be intending to sack them all.

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Larry Sanger is a co-founder of Wikipedia. This is a very detailed declaration.

Declaration of Digital Independence (Sanger)

Humanity has been contemptuously used by vast digital empires. Thus it is now necessary to replace these empires with decentralized networks of independent individuals, as in the first decades of the Internet. As our participation has been voluntary, no one doubts our right to take this step. But if we are to persuade as many people as possible to join together and make reformed networks possible, we should declare our reasons for wanting to replace the old. We declare that we have unalienable digital rights, rights that define how information that we individually own may or may not be treated by others, and that among these rights are free speech, privacy, and security.


Since the proprietary, centralized architecture of the Internet at present has induced most of us to abandon these rights, however reluctantly or cynically, we ought to demand a new system that respects them properly. The difficulty and divisiveness of wholesale reform means that this task is not to be undertaken lightly. For years we have approved of and even celebrated enterprise as it has profited from our communication and labor without compensation to us. But it has become abundantly clear more recently that a callous, secretive, controlling, and exploitative animus guides the centralized networks of the Internet and the corporations behind them. The long train of abuses we have suffered makes it our right, even our duty, to replace the old networks. To show what train of abuses we have suffered at the hands of these giant corporations, let these facts be submitted to a candid world.

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The international Law of the Sea makes it obligatory to rescue people in peril. Salvini is breaking that law.

Italian Police Arrest Migrant-Rescue Ship Captain After Docking (R.)

Italian police arrested on Saturday the German captain of a migrant-rescue ship at the center of a standoff with the Italian government, after she docked at the island port of Lampedusa. The Dutch-flagged Sea-Watch 3, operated by German charity Sea-Watch, has been at sea for more than two weeks with rescued Africans on board. After waiting in international waters for an invitation from Italy or an EU state to accept the ship, German captain Carola Rackete decided this week to sail for the southern Italian island of Lampedusa but was blocked by Italian government vessels. The ship eventually entered the port in the early hours of Saturday morning amid a heavy police presence.


Live television video showed the 31-year-old Rackete being taken off Sea-Watch 3 by tax police and driven away amid applause and barracking from bystanders gathered at the port. She has been arrested for “resisting a war ship”, a charge which, according to media reports, carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. After Rackete was taken away, 40 Africans on board the ship were allowed to disembark and were taken to a reception center on the island. Italy’s right-wing interior minister, Matteo Salvini, who is taking a tough line against migrant rescue ships, previously said he would only allow Rackete to dock when other European Union states agree to immediately take the migrants. “Outlaw arrested. Pirate ship seized. Big fine on foreign NGO. Migrants all redistributed in other European countries. Mission completed,” Salvini said in a tweet on Saturday.

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Suicide. Or murder, since it’s about babies.

Spike In Autism Linked To Preservative In Processed Foods (F.)

Researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) just announced intriguing findings which describe cellular changes that develop when neuronal stem cells are exposed to elevated levels of a chemical typically found in processed foods. The study serves as an example of the importance of the food pregnant women eat, and how it may potentially affect development of the fetal brain. The study describes how elevated levels of the preservative, propionic acid (PPA)–used to extend shelf life and reduce mold in packaged foods, breads and cheeses—can adversely affect the development and differentiation of neurons in fetal brains in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

From clinical experience, healthcare providers have observed for many decades how children with ASD are often afflicted with gastrointestinal ailments, including chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The mechanism behind this association is unclear, but ongoing research suggests that the gut microbiome plays an important role in brain development. One of the key questions is how the gut microbiome–the bacteria that live in our intestines–may be unique in those with ASD compared to those without the condition. Previous studies have demonstrated increased levels of PPA, a short chain fatty acid (SCFA), in the feces of children with ASD; we also know that the gut microbiome in these children is also quite distinct in terms of the type of bacteria that inhabit their intestines.

Clostridia, Bacteriodetes, and Desulfovibrio bacteria are unique to patients with ASD. What’s interesting is that these bacteria are also known to be fermenters of carbohydrates that produce PPA, and other SCFAs as well. Ironically, while PPA is the most common compound produced by bacteria in ASD patients, it is also widely used in the food industry as a preservative due to its ability to inhibit growth of fungi (mold). In the current study, Saleh Naser, PhD and her team at UCF found that when neural stem cells were exposed to high levels of PPA, the neurons incurred multiple changes resulting in cellular damage and inflammation.

One of the major effects of PPA they noted was the overproduction of glial cells , the protective outer cells making up the sheath covering neurons, with a corresponding reduction in the number of neurons themselves. An excess of glial cells may disrupt the connectivity between the neurons and induce inflammation, a common finding in the brains of children with ASD. While prior studies have suggested the role of genetic factors and environmental influence in ASD, this study, according to the authors, is the first to note a molecular link from elevated levels of PPA, overproduction of glial cells, disruption of neural connections and autism.

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Wednesday is Julian’s birthday.

 

 

 

 

Feb 112019
 
 February 11, 2019  Posted by at 10:04 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Glass, bread and cheesee 1923

 

Plummeting Insect Numbers ‘Threaten Collapse Of Nature’ (G.)
IMF Cuts 2019 Global Growth Forecasts Again: “We Have No Idea” (Mish)
UK Public Services Face Post-Brexit Squeeze (R.)
Theresa May Rejects Corbyn’s Ideas For A Compromise Brexit Plan (G.)
May Rejects Corbyn’s Customs Union Offer, What’s Next? (Mish)
All The Ways Gen X Is Financially Wrecked (MW)
Warren: Trump Might Not Be President Or ‘Even A Free Person’ In 2020 (MW)
Viktor Orbán: No Income Tax For Hungarian Women With Four Or More Children (G.)
Pompeo Trip Marks US Re-Engagement With Long-Overlooked Central Europe (R.)
China Retail Earnings Up 8.5% During New Year Holiday (R.)
Oil Prices Fall On Rising US Rig Count, Pressure On OPEC+ Supply Cuts (R.)
Spain’s Right Wing In Mass Protests Against PM’s Catalan Policy (Pol.eu)
Imitating Escher Is Not Easy (G.)

 

 

This should be the only topic left on all media and political agendas. Instead, everyone’s talking about music awards. Mankind had its promises, but they came with fatal flaws. The ability to lie to ourselves and others -including about the relative importance of various events- is doing us in.

We do have the brain structure to foresee future dangers, but also to discard them. We can see ourselves do things we know are devastatingly stupid, but we cannot stop ourselves from doing them. In the end, no matter how smart we think we are, only stupidity is left.

Even here, when people talk about the collapse of nature, the media present it as something separate from us. While we’re right in the middle of it, and we know it only too well.

Plummeting Insect Numbers ‘Threaten Collapse Of Nature’ (G.)

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review. More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century. The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are “essential” for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients.

Insect population collapses have recently been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, but the review strongly indicates the crisis is global. The researchers set out their conclusions in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: “The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet. “Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.” The analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, says intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides. Urbanisation and climate change are also significant factors.

“If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,” said Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, who wrote the review with Kris Wyckhuys at the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing. The 2.5% rate of annual loss over the last 25-30 years is “shocking”, Sánchez-Bayo told the Guardian: “It is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.” One of the biggest impacts of insect loss is on the many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects. “If this food source is taken away, all these animals starve to death,” he said. Such cascading effects have already been seen in Puerto Rico, where a recent study revealed a 98% fall in ground insects over 35 years.

[..] “The main cause of the decline is agricultural intensification,” Sánchez-Bayo said. “That means the elimination of all trees and shrubs that normally surround the fields, so there are plain, bare fields that are treated with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.” He said the demise of insects appears to have started at the dawn of the 20th century, accelerated during the 1950s and 1960s and reached “alarming proportions” over the last two decades. He thinks new classes of insecticides introduced in the last 20 years, including neonicotinoids and fipronil, have been particularly damaging as they are used routinely and persist in the environment: “They sterilise the soil, killing all the grubs.” This has effects even in nature reserves nearby; the 75% insect losses recorded in Germany were in protected areas.

The world must change the way it produces food, Sánchez-Bayo said, noting that organic farms had more insects and that occasional pesticide use in the past did not cause the level of decline seen in recent decades. “Industrial-scale, intensive agriculture is the one that is killing the ecosystems,” he said. [..] “When you consider 80% of biomass of insects has disappeared in 25-30 years, it is a big concern.”

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“It’s refreshing to hear Lagarde say “we have no idea”. The IMF should say that every month.”

IMF Cuts 2019 Global Growth Forecasts Again: “We Have No Idea” (Mish)

For the fourth time since October, the IMF revised its global growth forecast lower. The Wall Street Journal reports IMF Lowers 2019 Global Growth Forecast. “The global economy is starting the year on weaker footing, according to new quarterly forecasts from the International Monetary Fund.” That report was on January 21. For details, see the IMF’s World Economic Outlook Update, January 2019.

“Last month, the IMF lowered its global economic growth forecast for this year from 3.7% to 3.5%. Lagarde cited what she called “four clouds” as the main factors undermining the global economy and warned that a “storm” might strike. The risks include “trade tensions and tariff escalations, financial tightening, uncertainty related to (the) Brexit outcome and spillover impact and an accelerated slowdown of the Chinese economy”, she said. Lagarde said trade tensions — mainly in the shape of a tariff spat between the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies – are already having a global impact. “We have no idea how it is going to pan out and what we know is that it is already beginning to have an effect on trade, on confidence and on markets,” she said, warning governments to avoid protectionism.”

“Lagarde also pointed to the risks posed by rising borrowing costs within a context of “heavy debt” racked up by governments, firms and households. “When there are too many clouds, it takes one lightning (bolt) to start the storm,” she said.” The IMF is perpetually far behind the curve. It never sees the clouds or the lightening bolts in real time. It’s refreshing to hear Lagarde say “we have no idea”. The IMF should say that every month.

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As if things are not bad enough. Get out while you can.

UK Public Services Face Post-Brexit Squeeze (R.)

Many British public services risk ongoing real-terms cuts for years to come, despite a softer fiscal stance from Chancellor Philip Hammond, a major think tank predicted ahead of a half-yearly budget update next month. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) expects Hammond to give more details of the money available for a multi-year review of public spending when he updates budget plans on March 13, just two weeks before Britain is due to leave the European Union. In his annual budget in November, Hammond loosened the government’s purse-strings, giving support to the economy as it slowed ahead of Brexit. However, rising healthcare spending leaves little spare for other public services, the IFS said.

“This suggests yet more years of austerity for many public services — albeit at a much slower pace than the last nine years,” IFS research economist Ben Zaranko said. Public services outside of health, defence and overseas aid saw budgets fall by an average of 3 percent a year in real terms after 2010, and now look set for declines of 0.4 percent a year in inflation-adjusted terms going forward, the IFS predicts. [..] “In the short run … government might well raise spending to support the economy, mitigate the impacts for the worst-hit sectors or areas and provide funding to departments now required to perform additional functions, notably at the border,” the IFS said. In the long run, higher taxes or further spending cuts would be required to pay for this spending, as well as to compensate for weaker growth caused by trade restrictions, the IFS added.

[..] Brexit uncertainty has damaged the economy already and will slow growth further over the long term, even with a deal. Last week the Bank of England estimated the costs to date at 1.5 percent of GDP — more than the forecast budget deficit for 2018/19. During 2016’s referendum campaign, Brexit supporters including former foreign minister Boris Johnson said leaving the EU would free as much as 350 million pounds a week to spend on public services such as healthcare.

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OK, where are the street fighting men?

Theresa May Rejects Corbyn’s Ideas For A Compromise Brexit Plan (G.)

Theresa May has effectively ruled out Labour’s ideas for a compromise Brexit plan, shutting off another potential route to a deal as business groups warned that with less than 50 days to go the departure process was entering the “emergency zone”. The prime minister’s formal response to Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal, in a letter to the Labour leader, stressed her objections to keeping the UK in some form of customs union, saying this would prevent the UK making its own trade deals. But in an apparent renewed bid to win over wavering Labour MPs, May made a concession on environmental and workers’ rights, discounting Corbyn’s idea of automatic alignment with EU standards but suggesting instead a Commons vote every time these change.

The letter comes amid a growing presumption that while May remains officially committed to putting a revised Brexit plan to MPs as soon as possible, in practice this is unlikely to happen before the end of February, if not later. The communities secretary, James Brokenshire, said on Sunday that if no finalised deal were put to the Commons by 27 February, MPs would again be given an amendable motion to consider, allowing them to block a no-deal departure or make other interventions. “If the meaningful vote has not happened, so in other words things have not concluded, then parliament would have that further opportunity by no later than 27 February,” he told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.

May remains officially committed to getting the EU to agree to significant changes to the Irish border backstop as a way of winning over the DUP and agitated Tory backbenchers who helped bring about the heavy defeat of her plan. But with the PM’s meetings in Brussels last week yielding no real hope of this, there had been speculation she might embrace suggestions from Corbyn, who last week outlined five commitments Labour needed for it to back a deal, including joining a customs union. In her letter May argued that her own Brexit plan “explicitly provides for the benefits of a customs union” in terms of avoiding tariffs, while allowing “development of the UK’s independent trade policy beyond our economic partnership with the EU”. She wrote: “I am not clear why you believe it would be preferable to seek a say in future EU trade deals rather than the ability to strike our own deals?”

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“..she successfully took another four days off the clock.”

May Rejects Corbyn’s Customs Union Offer, What’s Next? (Mish)

On February 6, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn offered UK Prime Minister Theresa May a Customs Union Deal in which the Labour party would back a deal with May. She could have easily rejected Corbyn’s offer on the spot. Instead, she successfully took another four days off the clock. Today we see, May Rejects Corbyn’s Offer as Businesses Warn of Brexit Cliff Edge. She wrote: “I am not clear why you believe it would be preferable to seek a say in future EU trade deals rather than the ability to strike our own deals?” Great Question! Actually, the question itself is not great. May could have just as easily asked anything else. Thus, the question was irrelevant.

The importance is Corbyn now has to respond. How long will that take? Even if it’s a single day, that another day off the March 29 Brexit clock. Theresa May has effectively splintered the Labour party. Some want a new referendum, some want Brexit, and some want a custom’s union. Corbyn is now a clear loser in May’s tactics. The other side of May’s gambit is the Tories are now united. They still do not want her deal. [..] The biggest fear for the Tories was a new election. May’s gambit remains what it has always been, to play on the fears of both sides such that they would support her silly deal. While May succeeded on one front, she categorically failed on another. She now needs to win over DUP and splinter the Tories. If she can do that, then she wins. Meanwhile, the clock is running down.

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There are many more ways than these.

All The Ways Gen X Is Financially Wrecked (MW)

Reality bites. While millennials garner much of the negative press around financial issues — they live with their parents because they can’t get jobs! They spend all their money on avocado toast! — Gen Xers may be the ones who are really in trouble. Just 16% of Gen Xers say that they included financial planning in their 2019 goals, according to a recent survey from Allianz Life. That’s compared with 27% of millennials. And when asked what 2019 resolution they were most likely to make, and to keep, just 38% mentioned managing money better and saving more; meanwhile 50% of millennials said that. That lack of planning and goal-keeping could make a bad situation worse — as Gen X may already be financially worse off than other generations in a number of ways.

They’ve got the most credit card debt of anyone — yet still spend more than anyone on non-essentials. Members of Gen X have higher levels of credit card debt — which tends to carry a higher interest rate than most other debt — than other generations. Indeed, credit card debt levels peak between the ages of 45-54 at $9,096, with the second highest levels of debt being or those who are 35-44 at $8,235. Meanwhile, the under 35 set has just $5,808. “Millennials and individuals over 74 years old held the least credit card debt. These two groups are also among the least likely to have a credit card, which can serve as a potential explanation behind the trend we are seeing here,” ValuePenguin explains of their data.

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Don’t do it, Elizabeth. Dumb move.

Warren: Trump Might Not Be President Or ‘Even A Free Person’ In 2020 (MW)

Back in Iowa as a full-fledged presidential candidate, Democrat Elizabeth Warren took aim at President Donald Trump on Sunday, saying he “may not even be a free person” by next year’s election. The Massachusetts senator’s comments came a day after Trump renewed his criticism of her past claims of Native American heritage. In a tweet, Trump called Warren “Pocahontas” and said he would see her “on the campaign TRAIL.” The White House didn’t explain what the president was referring to in his tweet, though some Democrats accused him of making light of the Trail of Tears — the forced removal of Cherokee and several other Native American tribes from their lands in the 1830s. Warren’s campaign wouldn’t say what the senator believes Trump was referencing.

Warren has largely avoided talking about Trump since she began testing the waters for a campaign more than a month ago. During her first of three events Sunday in eastern Iowa, Warren said the president shouldn’t be allowed to dictate the direction of the campaign with divisive attacks. “Every day there is a racist tweet, a hateful tweet — something really dark and ugly,” she said. “What are we as candidates, as activists, as the press, going to do about it? We’re going to chase after those every day?” She continued: “Here’s what bothers me. By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be president. In fact, he may not even be a free person.”

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Orban’s success: “..a labour shortage means jobs cannot be filled.”

Viktor Orbán: No Income Tax For Hungarian Women With Four Or More Children (G.)

Hungary’s populist prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has promised that women who have four or more children will never pay income tax again, in a move aimed at boosting the country’s population. Orbán, who has emerged as Europe’s loudest rightwing, anti-immigration voice in recent years, said getting Hungarian families to have more children was preferable to allowing immigrants from Muslim countries to enter. “In all of Europe there are fewer and fewer children, and the answer of the west to this is migration,” said Orbán in his annual state of the nation address on Sunday. “They want as many migrants to enter as there are missing kids, so that the numbers will add up. We Hungarians have a different way of thinking. Instead of just numbers, we want Hungarian children. Migration for us is surrender.”

Orbán’s Fidesz party won a third consecutive electoral victory last year on an anti-migration platform, and the Hungarian prime minister rarely gives a speech without presenting the upcoming years as a do-or-die battle for the future of Europe. He has voiced a hope that after elections in May, all European institutions will be controlled by “anti-migration forces”. He has repeatedly claimed that the Hungarian-born American financier and philanthropist George Soros, a favoured target of the far right across the globe, is masterminding a conspiracy to destroy Europe by promoting mass migration. “The people of Europe have come to a historic crossroads,” Orbán said on Sunday, criticising the “mixed population countries” that result from allowing migration.

The process was moving so quickly, he said, that the transformation of previously Christian countries into those where Christians were a minority would happen in his lifetime. “There is no return ticket,” he said. [..] As the prime minister spoke, anti-Orbán protesters gathered in Budapest for the latest in a series of rallies against the government which began in December after parliament passed a “slave law” allowing employers to demand more overtime from workers. The law is seen as another result of the demographic problems in the country, as a labour shortage means jobs cannot be filled.

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And who does Pompeo visit first? Orban of course. Operating in the EU’s own back yard.

Pompeo Trip Marks US Re-Engagement With Long-Overlooked Central Europe (R.)

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Hungary, Slovakia and Poland this week he wants to make up for a lack of U.S. engagement that opened the door to more Chinese and Russian influence in central Europe, administration officials say. On a tour that includes a conference on the Middle East where Washington hopes to build a coalition against Iran, Pompeo begins on Monday in Budapest, the Hungarian capital that last saw a secretary of state in 2011 when Hillary Clinton visited. On Tuesday he will be in Bratislava, Slovakia, for the first such high-level visit in 20 years. “This is overdue and needed,” a senior U.S. administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Our message is we have to show up or expect to lose.

“Our efforts at diplomatic engagement are aimed at competing for positive influence and giving allies in the region an indication of U.S. support and interest in order to have alternatives to China and Russia.” Washington is concerned about China’s growing presence, in particular the expansion of Huawei, the world’s biggest telecom gear maker, in Hungary and Poland. [..] Pompeo will also voice concerns about energy ties with Moscow, and urge Hungary to not support the TurkStream pipeline, part of the Kremlin’s plans to bypass Ukraine, the main transit route for Russian gas to Europe. Hungary gets most of its gas from Russia and its main domestic source of electricity is the Paks nuclear power plant where Russia’s Rosatom is involved in a 12.5 billion-euro ($14 billion) expansion. It is also one of the EU states that benefit most from Chinese investment.

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Xi’s conundrum: does he play up how great this is, how it makes his economy look great, or does he try and cut down on borrowing even more, scared that Chinese are borrowing far too much?

China Retail Earnings Up 8.5% During New Year Holiday (R.)

China’s retailer and catering enterprises earned over 1 trillion yuan ($148.3 billion) during the Lunar New Year holiday, defying an economic slump to rise 8.5 percent from last year, the country’s commerce ministry said late on Sunday. The increase was down to the rapid growth in sales of new-year gifts, traditional foods, electronic products and local speciality products over a six-day holiday period ending on Saturday, the Ministry of Commerce said in a notice on its website. Domestic tourism during the new year break generated total revenues of 513.9 billion yuan, up 8.2 percent on the year, with the number of trips rising 7.6 percent to 415 million, the official Xinhua news agency said on Sunday, citing official data.

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The US is pricing itself out of the market: OPEC+ output cuts are meant to support prices, not to allow the US to fill in the gaps.

Oil Prices Fall On Rising US Rig Count, Pressure On OPEC+ Supply Cuts (R.)

Crude prices fell by around 1 percent on Monday as U.S. drilling activity picked up and as Russia’s biggest oil producer pressured President Vladimir Putin to end the supply cut deal with Middle East-dominated producer club OPEC. [..] In the United States, energy firms last week increased the number of oil rigs operating for the second time in three weeks, a weekly report by Baker Hughes said on Friday. Companies added 7 oil rigs in the week to Feb. 8, bringing the total count to 854, pointing to a further rise in U.S. crude production, which already stands at a record 11.9 million bpd. Elsewhere, the head of Russian oil giant Rosneft, Igor Sechin, has written to the Russian President Vladimir Putin saying Moscow’s deal with the OPEC to withhold output is a strategic threat and plays into the hands of the United States.

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Mea culpa. On the news yesterday that the Catalan court cases begin this week, I said nothing appeared to have changed from Rajoy’s days. Not true.

Spain’s Right Wing In Mass Protests Against PM’s Catalan Policy (Pol.eu)

Tens of thousands gathered in Madrid on Sunday to protest Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s plan to ease tensions with Catalan separatists, in a demonstration uniting the leaders of conservative and far-right parties. The protest of an estimated 45,000 people marked the first time that the leaders of the conservative Popular Party (PP), centrist Ciudadanos and far-right Vox were photographed together, El País reported. Protesters accused Sánchez of “stabbing [Spain] in the back” and called for a snap election because of his government’s decision to accept a long-held demand of Catalan secessionists to appoint a facilitator in talks between pro-independence and pro-unity political parties.

The ruling regional pro-independence parties in Barcelona have rejected the Socialists’ proposed framework for talks and are calling for a new independence vote, which the government opposes. “The time of Pedro Sánchez has ended,” said PP leader Pablo Casado. “There is no more room for surrendering by the Socialists, or further extortion from the separatists. Today, the reconquest begins.” Sánchez said at a separate rally on Sunday that “the government is working for the unity of Spain, and this means uniting Spaniards and not pitting people against one another like the right is doing.” He added: “Democracy is not heads or tails, there are many alternatives. Ours is coexistence, law and dialogue in Catalonia.”

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Off topic. What these works show, after you’ve watched them for 2 seconds, is how good Escher was, and others are not. The first one, cats and dogs, depends on cartoon animals. Escher used only real animals. The second comes closest to Escher’s work, but that makes it a bland imitation. The third is straight-up cartoon, not at all something Escher would have done.

Imitating Escher Is Not Easy (G.)

Alain Nicolas, aged 73, was inspired to create his own tessellations on seeing the work of Escher four decades ago. Escher’s tessellations of interlocking birds, fish and lizards are some of the most recognisable mathematical art of the twentieth century; striking and playful as well as breathtakingly ingenious. Nicolas’ work is also stunning and witty.

Now retired, he spends half his free time designing tessellations and recently finished his 400th. You can see many of them on his extensive website (but don’t peek until you have solved the puzzles!). Drawing tessellations is not easy. It takes a lot of geometrical acuity to make shapes that fit together and are convincing representations.

David Bailey, a British tessellation artist, believes that Nicolas is the best tessellation artist in the world. “His work has everything, recognisable silhouettes, quality, variety, number, level of innovation, next to no padding, and all rendered to a most pleasing standard of finish. Bravo, Alain!” Nicolas has – like Escher – no background in maths, but says all that is required is a sense of wonder and a desire to always do better. Here is a self portrait, sitting in a bar, reading his own book, and calling the waiter with his finger.

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Dec 072018
 


Claude Monet Camille on the Beach at Trouville 1870

 

Russia Seeks To ‘Feed The Whole Planet’ – PM (RT)
Markets Are Going Haywire, Sudden Moves Are Here To Stay (CNBC)
Did The Market Miss Powell’s Real Message? (Roberts)
Fed’s QE Unwind Reaches $374 Billion (WS)
The Fed Finally Broke Something (Muir)
Oil Drops As OPEC Makes Supply Cut Dependent On Russia (CNBC)
Bitcoin Plunges 10% As December Rout Continues (CNBC)
France To Deploy 90,000 Police Over Weekend Riot Fears (Ind.)
Chinese Giant Huawei Faces Catastrophe (G.)
White House, Trudeau Seek To Distance Themselves From Huawei Move (R.)
Lyft Races To Leave Uber Behind In IPO Chase (R.)
Mueller To Give Details On Russia Probe With Filings On Former Trump Aides (R.)
Mueller’s Gift to Obama (Kim Strassel)
Julian Assange Rejects UK-Ecuador Deal For Him To Leave The Embassy (Tel.)

 

 

Medvedev is funny, with a serious twist. Note that this has all happened because of US sanctions. Russian grain exports have surged more than 54% this year. Funny that Ukraine fed much of Europe not that long ago (100 years?!) because of its highly fertile back earth.

Russia Seeks To ‘Feed The Whole Planet’ – PM (RT)

Russia seeks to expand its agricultural exports, ultimately seeking to feed the whole planet, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. The PM’s statement comes as the country enjoys a record surge in grain exports. “Our country is, as they say, destined by the heavens to feed the whole planet. And we’ll try and do that,” Medvedev told journalists of Russian TV channels in a major interview aired on Thursday. Apart from being the country’s “destiny,” the foods plainly make “nice export goods,” the prime minister added. Russia’s agriculture has expanded greatly over the past few years, becoming a solid and profitable industry, unlike the way it was a couple decades ago.

“Back in 1990s, the agriculture was called a ‘black hole’, where one should not invest, we were told we should not feed ourselves since we can purchase everything elsewhere,” Medvedev said. “Now, it feeds our whole country. We’ve reached the main goals regarding food security and we’re exporting grains, other goods to the world market.” This year, Russia has enjoyed vast growth of its agricultural exports, becoming the world’s top exporter of wheat. From January through September of 2018, exports of Russia’s wheat and meslin flour expanded by 54.3% compared to the previous year. The amount of food which the county imports, in its turn, continued to shrink. Imports of grains to Russia dropped by 11.1% during the same period. Imports of barley have suffered an enormous decline, dropping a whopping 94%.

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The logical consequences of central banks strangling price discovery.

Markets Are Going Haywire, Sudden Moves Are Here To Stay (CNBC)

Wherever Mark Connors looks at markets, from stocks to currencies to oil, he sees signs of the unknown. Equity investors got whipsawed this week during two rough and volatile sessions, but Connors, global head of risk advisory at Credit Suisse, had seen worrying signs long before that. A key technical measure he tracks, the correlation between the price of stocks and currencies, had broken down starting in April. That, along with sharp drops in the price of oil, point to one thing, he says: Uncertainty about the future as central banks around the world unwind programs that bought trillions of dollars of assets.

“We’re seeing two of the biggest asset classes, stocks and currencies, exhibit a degree of uncertainty in their relationship in 2018 that we’ve never seen before,” Connors said. “Crude just exhibited something very unusual in the context of the last 40 years.” The unwinding of central banks’ programs a decade after the financial crisis brought economies to the brink is known as quantitative tightening. J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said in July that one of his biggest fears is around how markets would behave as central banks removed their unprecedented stimulus. “If quantitative tightening continues, guess what’s going to happen? More of this,” Connor said, referring to unusually violent moves across markets.

Another factor in the speed of recent declines is the result of several important changes that have happened since the last financial crisis. Automated trading strategies from quant hedge funds and the massive shift to passive investing have helped to remove liquidity from the system in times of panic, according to Marko Kolanovic, J.P. Morgan’s global head of macro quantitative and derivatives research. He said in a September note that index and quant funds made up two-thirds of assets under management globally and the majority of daily trading. So when investors begin to sell, as they did on Tuesday amid concerns over the state of U.S. trade talks with China, the moves were probably amplified by computerized trading strategies.

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You’d have to have a -functioning- market for it to miss anything.

Did The Market Miss Powell’s Real Message? (Roberts)

[..] With the Fed Funds rate running at near 2%, if the Fed now believes such is close to a ‘neutral rate,’ it would suggest that expectations of economic growth will slow in the quarters ahead from nearly 6.0% in Q2 of 2018 to roughly 2.5% in 2019.” [..] the bond market has picked up on that realization as the yield has flattened considerably over the last few days as the 10-year interest rate broke back below the 3% mark. The chart below shows the difference between the 2-year and the 10-year interest rate.

Now, there are many who continue to suggest “this time is different” and an inverted yield curve is not signaling a recession, and Jerome Powell’s recent comments are “in line” with a “Goldilocks economy.” Maybe. But historically speaking, while an inversion of the yield curve may not “immediately” coincide with a recessionary onset, given its relationship to economic activity it is likely a “foolish bet” to suggest it won’t. A quick trip though the Fed’s rate hiking history and “soft landing” scenarios give you some clue as to their success.

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Useful to remember that this is -mostly- an irreversible process.

Fed’s QE Unwind Reaches $374 Billion (WS)

The Federal Reserve shed $54 billion in assets over the five weekly balance sheet periods that encompass the calendar month of November. This reduced the assets on its balance sheet to $4,086 billion, the lowest since January 15, 2014, according to the Fed’s balance sheet for the week ended December 5, released this afternoon. Since the beginning of the QE unwind — or “balance sheet normalization,” as the Fed calls it — in October 2017, the Fed has now shed $374 billion. The Fed holds a variety of assets, including the Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that it had acquired as part of QE. Between the end of QE in late 2014 and the beginning of the QE unwind in October 2017, the Fed replaced maturing securities with new securities to keep their levels roughly the same. Starting in October 2017, the Fed has been shedding Treasury securities and MBS.

[..] Treasury Securities Until October, the QE unwind had been in ramp-up mode. In October, it reached cruising speed, according to the Fed’s plan. In the cruising-speed phase, the Fed is scheduled to shed “up to” $30 billion in Treasuries and “up to” $20 billion in MBS a month, for a total of “up to” $50 billion a month. So how did it go in November? From November 1 through December 5, the Fed’s holdings of Treasury Securities fell by $30 billion to $2,241 billion, the lowest since January 22, 2014. Since the beginning of the QE-Unwind, the Fed has shed $225 billion in Treasuries:

Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) Under QE, the Fed also acquired residential MBS that were issued and guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. Holders of residential MBS receive principal payments as the underlying mortgages are paid down or are paid off. At maturity, the remaining principal is paid off. To keep the balance of MBS from declining after QE ended, the New York Fed’s Open Market Operations kept buying MBS in the market. The Fed books the trades at settlement, which lags the trade by two to three months. Due to this lag, the amount of MBS on today’s balance sheet reflects trades in August and September when the cap for shedding MBS was $16 billion a month. And this is how it panned out. From November 1 through today’s balance sheet, the balance of MBS fell by $16 billion, to $1,653 billion, the lowest since May 7, 2014.

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There’s a lot of -often contradictory- talk about yield conversion. Kevin Muir picks out a nice detail: “..we will not see the same degree of yield curve inversion that we have in past cycles. There is simply too much debt out there..

The Fed Finally Broke Something (Muir)

[..] an inversion of the yield curve has traditionally been one of the best indicators presaging a recession. There has been tons of studies and even more conclusions drawn from the data, so you probably don’t need me to rehash them all. Yet I think it’s amusing to hear all the yield-curve-apologists (a term coined by my colourful pal, Janney’s Guy LeBas in this article) once again claiming that yield curve inversions don’t matter. Whether it’s the fact that we need to wait for the 3-month / 5-year to invert, or whether it is the long lead time between the 2-10-year spread inverting and the actual recession, there are plenty of excuses being offered up about why the yield curve inversion doesn’t matter.

Yeah, let me get this straight. The largest, most liquid market in the world is sending a signal that has consistently been one of the most reliable indicators that a recession is near and somehow it makes sense to fade it? As a trader who cut his eye-teeth in the equity market, I can tell you unequivocally, bond traders are smarter. They just are. Denying it is like trying to argue that people in Malibu are no better looking than any other big U.S. suburb. So when the yield curve starts inverting, you better believe I am paying attention. However, as usual, there is a catch. Market cycles are similar, but never exactly the same.

In the post-GFC era we will not see the same degree of yield curve inversion that we have in past cycles. There is simply too much debt out there. The global economy cannot handle the same amount of tightening as in past cycles. I know the crowd who believes that “Powell is different than all the other Fed Chairs” will cry out in anguish at this proclamation, but last week’s dovish shift shows his stomach to handle any sort of market disruption is way lower than previously believed. Powell will be no different than all the other Fed Chairs. At the end of the day, he will be loose.

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How about US shale? Won’t they cut production to help MbS?

Oil Drops As OPEC Makes Supply Cut Dependent On Russia (CNBC)

Oil prices fell on Friday, pulled down by OPEC’s decision to delay a final decision on output cuts, awaiting support from non-OPEC heavyweight Russia. International Brent crude oil futures fell below $60 per barrel early in the session, trading at $59.50 per barrel at 0144 GMT, down 56 cents, or 0.9% from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.24 per barrel, down 25 cents, or 0.5%. The declines came after crude slumped by almost 3% the previous day, with OPEC ending a meeting at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday without announcing a decision to cut crude supply, instead preparing to debate the matter on Friday.

“OPEC has decided to meet Friday again…(as) Russia remains the sticking point,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore. Analysts still expect some form of supply reduction to be decided. “We are beginning to witness the outline of the next iteration of production cuts, with OPEC conforming to cut its own production by around 1 million barrels per day, with the cartel lobbying non-OPEC members to contribute more,” Japanese bank MUFG said in a note.

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Relentless.

Bitcoin Plunges 10% As December Rout Continues (CNBC)

As of Asia’s Friday afternoon trade, bitcoin had fallen nearly 10% against the U.S. dollar in 24 hours, marking another recent plunge for the world’s largest cryptocurrency. It’s been a rough December for the digital token: Its price dropped 8% on the first day of the month. Bitcoin traded at $3,337.32 as of 12:28 p.m. HK/SIN (11:28 p.m. ET on Thursday), falling 9.88% over the last 24 hours, according to data from industry site Coindesk. Meanwhile, prices for the second and third largest cryptocurrencies by market value, XRP and Ether, also saw sharp declines in the 24 hour period. XRP fell by 10.62% and Ether dropped 15.90%, according to Coindesk.

This calendar year has generally been unkind to cryptocurrency prices, with the industry seeing its entire market cap falling almost 87.09% from its highs in January, according to data from Coinmarketcap. 24-hour trading volumes have also plunged about 61.65% since then. In recent industry related news, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) posted an update on Thursday regarding the approval process for a rule change proposal for the allowance of a bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF).

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The worst thing Macron could have done: “In a move questioned by both critics and supporters, the president has recently disappeared from public view.” And now his police are going to fire on protesters tomorrow?

France To Deploy 90,000 Police Over Weekend Riot Fears (Ind.)

French authorities are bracing for the possibility of more riots and violence at planned anti-government protests this weekend. The government is deploying tens of thousands of police and security forces across the country, while in Paris, museums, theatres and shops announced they would close on Saturday as a precaution – including the iconic Eiffel Tower. Police unions and city authorities held emergency meetings to decide how to handle the protests, which are being held despite Emmanuel Macron’s surrender to marchers demanding the scrapping of a planned fuel tax hike. Prime minister Edouard Philippe told senators on Thursday the government would deploy “exceptional” security measures for the protests in Paris and elsewhere.

Speaking on TF1 television, Mr Philippe said 89,000 police officers will be deployed on Saturday across France – up from 65,000 last weekend. In Paris alone, 8,000 police officers will be mobilised. They will be equipped with a dozen armoured vehicles – a first in a French urban area since 2005. Some “yellow vest” protesters, French union officials and prominent politicians across the political spectrum called for calm on Thursday after the worst rioting in Paris in decades last weekend. Mr Macron agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike, part of his plans to combat global warming, but protesters’ demands have now expanded to other issues hurting French workers, retirees and students. In a move questioned by both critics and supporters, the president has recently disappeared from public view.

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If this is true, US Big Tech will face the same.

Chinese Giant Huawei Faces Catastrophe (G.)

The arrest in Canada of the chief financial officer of the Chinese mobile network and handset tech firm Huawei marks a new stage in a technological cold war between western spy agencies and Beijing. This development could be catastrophic for Huawei: according to reports, the US suspects it broke sanctions by selling telecoms equipment to Iran. If that is proven, the response could exclude Huawei from many of the world’s most valuable markets. That quiet war of words had already begun to ramp up this week when first the head of the UK’s secret service, Alex Younger, said in a speech that “we need to have a conversation” about Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s telecoms network.

Then on Wednesday, BT revealed it is stripping out Huawei’s networking kit from parts of the EE mobile network. Huawei has been the world’s largest telecoms network equipment company since 2015, ahead of European rivals Ericsson and Nokia, and far above domestic competitor ZTE and South Korea’s Samsung. But the company has for years struggled against suspicions that it has bowed to pressure from the Chinese government to tap or disrupt telecoms systems in foreign countries. That has seen it banned from selling its profitable network equipment to the US, Australia and New Zealand – three of the “Five Eyes” group of intelligence-sharing countries (the other two being the UK and Canada).

But Meng Wanzhou’s arrest on a federal warrant in Canada is a dramatic escalation. As well as being the CFO and deputy chairwoman of one of the world’s largest makers of telecoms networking equipment that is essential to phone, smartphone and internet traffic, she is also the daughter of Huawei’s 74-year-old founder Ren Zhengfei. Ren attracted suspicion from western agencies because of his role working in IT for the Red Army before he set up the firm in 1987.

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Even Bolton has -belatedly- denied involvement.

White House, Trudeau Seek To Distance Themselves From Huawei Move (R.)

President Donald Trump did not know about plans to arrest a top executive at Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in Canada, two U.S. officials said on Thursday, in an apparent attempt to stop the incident from impeding crucial trade talks with Beijing. Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, the 46-year-old daughter of the company’s founder, was detained in Canada on Dec. 1, the same day Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping dined together at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. A White House official told Reuters Trump did not know about a U.S. request for her extradition from Canada before he met Xi and agreed to a 90-day truce in the brewing trade war.

Meng’s arrest during a stopover in Vancouver, announced by the Canadian authorities on Wednesday, pummeled stock markets already nervous about tensions between the world’s two largest economies on fears the move could derail the planned trade talks. [..] Meng’s detention also raised concerns about potential retaliation from Beijing in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to distance himself from the arrest. “The appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case without any political involvement or interference … we were advised by them with a few days’ notice that this was in the works,” Trudeau told reporters in Montreal in televised remarks.

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Top of the Bubble to you!

Lyft Races To Leave Uber Behind In IPO Chase (R.)

Ride-hailing company Lyft Inc beat bigger rival Uber Technologies Inc in filing for an initial public offering (IPO) on Thursday, defying the recent market jitters and taking the lead on a string of billion-dollar-plus tech companies expected to join Wall Street next year. Lyft’s IPO will test investors’ appetite for the most highly valued Silicon Valley companies and for the ride-hailing business, which has become a wildly popular service but remains unprofitable and has an uncertain future with the advance of self-driving cars. San Francisco-based Lyft, last valued at about $15 billion in a private fundraising round, did not specify the number of shares it was selling or the price range in a confidential filing with the SEC.

Lyft could go public as early as the first quarter of 2019, based on how quickly the SEC reviews its filing, people familiar with the matter said. Lyft’s valuation is likely to end up between $20 billion and $30 billion, one source added. The ride service was set up in 2012 by entrepreneurs John Zimmer and Logan Green and has raised close to $5 billion from investors. While it continues to grow faster than its larger competitor, Uber, it is also losing money. Lyft would follow a string of high-profile IPOs of technology companies valued at more than $1 billion this year, such as Dropbox and Spotify.

However, market turmoil fueled by the escalating trade tensions between the United States and China could dampen enthusiasm for the debuts of other 2019 hopefuls like apartment-rental service Airbnb, analytics firm Palantir. and Stripe Inc, a digital payment company. Including Lyft, these round out four of the top-10 most highly valued, venture-backed tech companies. “Market declines mean that the offer price will be lower than otherwise. But there’s a danger of waiting to go public as well. Markets could go even lower, and the companies could raise less money if they waited longer,” said Jay Ritter, an IPO expert and professor at the University of Florida.

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Later today. But forget about collusion. Not going to happen.

Mueller To Give Details On Russia Probe With Filings On Former Trump Aides (R.)

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller will provide new details on Friday on how two of President Donald Trump’s closest former aides have helped or hindered his investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 election campaign. Mueller last month accused Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort of breaching a plea bargain deal by lying to prosecutors, and he will submit information on those alleged lies in a filing to a federal court in Washington. That could include shedding new light on Manafort’s business dealings or his consulting for pro-Kremlin interests in Ukraine.

Manafort, who maintains he has been truthful with Mueller, managed Trump’s campaign for three months in 2016. Also on Friday, Mueller’s office and the Southern District of New York are to file sentencing memos on Michael Cohen, Trump’s former private lawyer. Cohen pleaded guilty to financial crimes in a New York court in August, and last week to lying to Congress in a Mueller case. Sentencing for both of those cases will be handled by one judge. Attention will focus on whether Mueller discloses new information to supplement Cohen’s admission last week that he sought help from the Kremlin for a Trump skyscraper in Moscow late into the 2016 campaign.

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Kimberley Strassel is still a lone(ly) in the US mainstream.

Mueller’s Gift to Obama (Kim Strassel)

[..] what about the potential crimes that put Mr. Flynn in Mr. Mueller’s crosshairs to begin with? On Jan. 2, 2017, the Obama White House learned about Mr. Flynn’s conversations with Mr. Kislyak. The U.S. monitors phone calls of foreign officials, but under law they are supposed to “minimize” the names of any Americans caught up in such eavesdropping. In the Flynn case, someone in the prior administration either failed to minimize or purposely “unmasked” Mr. Flynn. The latter could itself be a felony. Ten days later someone in that administration leaked to the Washington Post that Mr. Flynn had called Mr. Kislyak on Dec. 29, 2016. On Feb. 9, 2017, someone leaked to the Post and the New York Times highly detailed and classified information about the Flynn-Kislyak conversation.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has called this leak the most destructive to national security that he seen in his time in Washington. Disclosing classified information is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison. The Post has bragged that its story was sourced by nine separate officials. The Mueller team has justified its legal wanderings into money laundering (Paul Manafort) and campaign contributions (Michael Cohen) on grounds that it has an obligation to follow up on any evidence of crimes, no matter how disconnected from its Russia mandate. Mr. Flynn’s being caught up in the probe is related to a glaring potential crime of disclosing classified material, yet Mr. Mueller appears to have undertaken no investigation of that. Is this selective justice, or something worse?

Don’t forget Mr. Mueller stacked his team with Democrats, some of whom worked at the highest levels of the Obama administration, including at the time of the possible Flynn unmasking and the first leak. The Flynn sentencing document, meanwhile, contained yet another outrageous gift to Obama alumni. In laying out the “serious” nature of Mr. Flynn’s crimes, the document asserts that one of the questions about the Flynn-Kislyak discussion was whether “the defendant’s actions violated the Logan Act,” a 1799 statute that criminalizes negotiation by unauthorized persons with foreign governments that are in dispute with the U.S. Only two defendants have ever been charged under the Logan Act, the more recent one in 1852, and neither was convicted.

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We have to turn to the Telegraph of all sources, since we -obviously- can’t trust info from the Guardian, which does run a piece on this. That piece was written by Dan Collyns in Quito. Thought for all those who’ve been feeding on the Guardian smear piece for well over a week: investigate instead the link between the paper and the Ecuador government., especially how it changes and intensified around teh time Moreno became president. But don’t forget that the Guardian already had people in the country in at least 2014.

Julian Assange Rejects UK-Ecuador Deal For Him To Leave The Embassy (Tel.)

Julian Assange’s lawyer has rejected an agreement announced by Ecuador’s president to see him leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London, after six years inside. Lenin Moreno, the president of Ecuador, has made no secret of his wish to be rid of the WikiLeaks founder, who sought asylum inside the embassy in June 2012 and has not left since. On Thursday Mr Moreno announced that a deal had been reached between London and Quito to allow Mr Assange, 47, to be released. “The way has been cleared for Mr Assange to take the decision to leave in near-liberty,” said Mr Moreno. He did not specify what “near liberty” meant.

[..] Mr Moreno added that Britain had guaranteed that the Australian would not be extradited to any country where his life is in danger. But Mr Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack, told The Telegraph that the deal was not acceptable. The legal team have long argued that they will not accept any agreement which risks his being extradited to the United States. In November a filing error revealed that Mr Assange faced charges in the US – although it was not clear what those charges were. Many speculate they would be connected to the release of classified information, and Mr Assange fears a long prison sentence in the US for what his supporters say is publishing information in the public interest.

“The suggestion that as long as the death penalty is off the table, Mr Assange need not fear persecution is obviously wrong,” said Mr Pollack. “No one should have to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information. “Since such charges appear to have been brought against Mr Assange in the United States, Ecuador should continue to provide him asylum.”

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Nov 262018
 
 November 26, 2018  Posted by at 10:57 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh On the Outskirts of Paris 1887

 

Russia Seizes Three Ukrainian Naval Ships In The Black Sea (AP)
Not Remotely Possible For May’s Brexit Deal To Pass Parliament – UK MP (CNBC)
UK High Court To Rule If Brexit Vote ‘Void’ As Early As Christmas (Ind.)
Nineteen Months Of Brexit Wrangling – And That’s Just A Taster (BBC)
Business Leaders Rally Behind May’s Brexit Deal Amid Fears Of Crashing Out (G.)
Texas Is About to Create OPEC’s Worst Nightmare (BBG)
Tesla Was Weeks From Dying Earlier This Year – Elon Musk (MW)
Former Greek FinMin Varoufakis To Run In European Election – In Germany (R.)
Give In To The EU, Greek PM Tsipras Counsels Italian Government (K.)
Russia Space Agency To Check If US Moon Landings Really Happened (Ind.)

 

 

I would think Ukraine is trying to provoke things, but western politicians and media all disagree.

Russia Seizes Three Ukrainian Naval Ships In The Black Sea (AP)

Russia seized three Ukrainian naval ships off the coast of Russia-annexed Crimea on Sunday after opening fire on them and wounding several sailors, a move that risks igniting a dangerous new crisis between the two countries. Russia’s FSB security service said early on Monday its border patrol boats had seized the Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea and used weapons to force them to stop, Russian news agencies reported. The FSB said it had been forced to act because the ships — two small Ukrainian armored artillery vessels and a tug boat — had illegally entered its territorial waters, attempted illegal actions, and ignored warnings to stop while maneuvering dangerously.

“Weapons were used with the aim of forcibly stopping the Ukrainian warships,” the FSB said in a statement circulated to Russian state media. “As a result, all three Ukrainian naval vessels were seized in the Russian Federation’s territorial waters in the Black Sea.” The FSB said three Ukrainian sailors had been wounded in the incident and were getting medical care. Their lives were not in danger, it said. Ukraine denied its ships had done anything wrong, accused Russia of military aggression, and for the international community to mobilize to punish Russia. The United Nations Security Council is due to discuss the developments on Monday at the request of Russia, said Deputy Russian U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met with his top military and security chiefs. Poroshenko said he would propose that parliament impose martial law. [..] Earlier on Sunday, Russia’s border guard service had accused Ukraine of not informing it in advance of the three ships’ journey, something Kiev denied. Russia said the Ukrainian ships had been maneuvering dangerously and ignoring its instructions with the aim of stirring up tensions. Russian politicians denounced Kiev, saying the incident looked like a calculated bid by Poroshenko to increase his popularity ahead of an election next year. In another sign of rising tensions, Russia’s state-controlled RIA news agency reported on Sunday night that Ukrainian forces had started heavy shelling of residential areas in eastern Ukraine which is controlled by pro-Moscow separatists.

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She needs 320+ votes, has 260.

Not Remotely Possible For May’s Brexit Deal To Pass Parliament – UK MP (CNBC)

It is not “remotely possible” that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement would pass the House of Commons, which is the lower house of Parliament, in a crucial vote that will likely take place in December, a member of Parliament said on Monday. Lawmakers on both sides of the debate over the United Kingdom’s future as part of the European Union are unhappy with the proposals set by May in a 585-page, legally-binding document that lays out the terms of the former’s exit, Sarah Wollaston, who is also a member of the prime minister’s Conservative party, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“I just don’t think it’s remotely possible that this deal would pass the Commons,” she said, adding that it will likely fall short on the numbers needed to move the agreement forward. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that we would crash out with no deal because, certainly, Parliament, British parliamentarians are very opposed to leaving with no deal at all.” [..] May needs a simple majority of the 650 lawmakers in the House of Commons, but experts have indicated it will be an uphill task for the prime minister. Her Conservative Party holds 315 seats and represents the largest party in the House, but a significant number are against the plan, including some pro-Brexit members. Meanwhile, lawmakers in the opposition have mostly indicated that they will vote against the deal.

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Was the vote fraudulent to begin with?

UK High Court To Rule If Brexit Vote ‘Void’ As Early As Christmas (Ind.)

The High Court will rule as early as Christmas whether Brexit should be declared “void”, in a legal case given a turbo-boost by the criminal investigation into Leave funder Arron Banks. Judges are poised to fast track the potentially explosive challenge, after Theresa May’s refusal to act on the growing evidence of illegality in the 2016 referendum campaign, The Independent can reveal. Lawyers describe that failure as “absolutely extraordinary” – given the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) probe into suspicions of “multiple” criminal offences committed by Mr Banks and the Leave.EU campaign.

Now The Independent understands the case is likely to move to a full hearing and a ruling within weeks of opening on 7 December, with the clock ticking on the UK’s departure from the EU next March. Both its lawyers and a leading academic believe its chances of success have been given a big boost by the unfolding scandal and the government’s refusal to recognise the gravity of what is being exposed. The government is expected to deploy Sir James Eadie QC – the star barrister who led the unsuccessful battle for the government to trigger Article 50 without parliament’s consent – in a sign of the case’s importance.

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We haven’t even started.

Nineteen Months Of Brexit Wrangling – And That’s Just A Taster (BBC)

There was a definite “battle of the tones” at the seal-the-deal Brexit summit with Theresa May. EU leaders were determinedly sombre, while the UK prime minister had to sound upbeat and positive about her country’s Brussels-free future. It shouldn’t be under-estimated. Sunday was a huge day for the EU, signing off on the divorce papers of a departing key member state for the first time in the history of the bloc. In the eyes of many, Brexit counts as an EU failure. At the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron reminded the press of the fragility of European Union. Which is why, time and again, EU leaders in Brussels continue to make so much of the (unusual) show of unity the Brexit process has provoked in EU ranks.

For now, of course, all European eyes turn to the UK to see if the hard-negotiated Brexit deal passes through the House of Commons. If it doesn’t, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, insists there will be no deal. “This is the deal. This is THE deal,” he told me emphatically, ruling out the possibility of renegotiating the Brexit texts. If he’s true to his word, and parliament votes down the divorce deal, then all 19 months of painful EU-UK negotiations were for naught. And both sides could find themselves staring at the cost and potential chaos of what the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier calls a non-orderly Brexit. EU leaders are hell-bent on avoiding that.

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May sure scared the money.

Business Leaders Rally Behind May’s Brexit Deal Amid Fears Of Crashing Out (G.)

Business leaders have rallied to support Theresa May’s Brexit deal, even as an independent study showed that the prime minister’s agreement meant the UK stood to lose £100bn a year by 2030 in reduced trade and income. Executives in the City of London warned MPs to vote for the deal negotiated by the prime minister to avoid a no-deal Brexit that would harm the UK economy. TheCityUK, which represents banks and insurers in the Square Mile, said parliament had “a straight choice” between the agreement hammered out in Brussels and a no-deal Brexit, “which offers only higher risk, costs and disruption”.

Miles Celic, the organisation’s boss, said: “The focus must now be on securing the withdrawal agreement and the transition period it brings – which is critical for our industry and many others. There is much still to be negotiated to define the future relationship. The sooner that can get started, the better.” His warning echoed those of industry bodies and small business groups, which have become nervous in recent weeks that No10 would fail to overcome the hurdles towards securing a withdrawal agreement. The Institute of Directors, which has found in polls of its members that they split 50:50 over proposals for a second referendum, said they all objected to an outcome that leaves Britain with no deal.

“The deal the EU approved today provokes a wide range of reactions across the political spectrum, and indeed among business leaders, but the steer from our members is that avoiding no deal must be the main priority,” said Stephen Martin, the director general.

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Hmmm. Problem with shale is debt.

Texas Is About to Create OPEC’s Worst Nightmare (BBG)

OPEC helped create the monster that haunts its sleep. After it flooded the market in 2014, oil prices crashed, forcing surviving U.S. shale producers to get leaner so they could thrive even with lower oil prices. As prices recovered, so did drilling. Now growth is speeding up. In Houston, the U.S. oil capital, shale executives are trying out different superlatives to describe what’s coming. “Tsunami,’’ they call it. A “flooding of Biblical proportions’’ and “onslaught of supply’’ are phrases that get tossed around. Take the hyperbolic industry talk with a pinch of salt, but certainly the American oil industry, particularly in the Permian, has raised a buzz loud enough to keep OPEC awake. “You’ve got an awful lot of production that can come in very economically,’’ said Patricia Yarrington, Chevron’s CFO.

“If you think back four or five years ago, when we didn’t really understand what shale could do, the marginal barrel was priced much higher than what we think the marginal barrel is priced today.’’ That shift makes shale resilient to a price tumble. After touching a four-year high in October, West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, has fallen by more than 20 percent. [..] August saw the largest annual increase in U.S. oil production in 98 years, according to government data. The American energy industry added, in crude and other oil liquids, nearly 3 million barrels, roughly the equivalent of what Kuwait pumps, than it did in the same month last year. Total output of 15.9 million barrels a day was more than Russia or Saudi Arabia.

[..] By the end of 2019, total U.S. oil production – including so-called natural gas liquids used in the petrochemical industry – is expected to rise to 17.4 million barrels a day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. At that level, American net imports of petroleum will fall in December 2019 to 320,000 barrels a day, the lowest since 1949, when Harry Truman was in the White House. In the oil-trading community, the expectation is that, perhaps for just a single week, the U.S. will become a net oil exporter, something that hasn’t happened for nearly 75 years.

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Now he tells us.

Tesla Was Weeks From Dying Earlier This Year – Elon Musk (MW)

Tesla Inc. was “bleeding money like crazy” during its Model 3 production ramp-up and almost went under earlier this year, Elon Musk said Sunday. In an interview aired Sunday night on “Axios on HBO,” Tesla’s chief executive said the electric-car company was “within single-digit weeks” of dying. “Essentially, the company was bleeding money like crazy, and if we didn’t solve these problems in a very short period of time, we would die. And it was extremely difficult to solve them,” Musk said. Earlier this year, Musk described “production hell” as Tesla ramped up production to build 5,000 Model 3 sedans a week by the end of June, and said he had been sleeping on the factory floor.

Musk admitted in Sunday’s interview that he had been stretched to the limit. “People should not work this hard,” he said of his stretch working 22-hour days, seven days a week. “This is very painful.” “It hurts my brain and my heart,” Musk said. “It hurts. It is not recommended for anyone. I just did it because if I didn’t do it… there was a good chance Tesla would die.” In late October, Tesla posted a surprise quarterly profit, and earlier this month, Musk said Tesla is not “staring death in the face” anymore, and it will likely be cash-flow positive for all quarters going forward.

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Godspeed. Politics? You sure?

Former Greek FinMin Varoufakis To Run In European Election – In Germany (R.)

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who was outspoken in his criticism of the austerity policies championed by Berlin at the height of the euro zone’s debt crisis, is to stand in European elections next year – in Germany. The Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25), which he launched in 2016 to “democratize” the continent, picked him on Sunday as a candidate for the elections to the European Parliament in May 2019. “I accept [the nomination] because it epitomizes the new trans-national politics we need in Europe,” he told a news conference in Berlin where his colleagues unfurled a banner with the slogan “European Spring.” “I call on all of you to join us in this pan-European quest for democracy in Europe, democracy in Germany as a condition for prosperity and authentic democracy,” he said.

The motorbike-riding academic-economist, who rose to celebrity status in the euro crisis, once described the austerity measures forced on Greece by creditors as “fiscal waterboarding”. Varoufakis, who frequently clashed with his hardline German counterpart at the time, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said the political center in Germany was under threat because of austerity. “On paper, Germany is drowning in money…but the German people have been victims of the same austerity as the rest of Europe. The result is low levels of investment,” he said. This, he argued, boosted inequality, share prices and house prices. He said his movement wanted to pour cash, raised if necessary via bond issuance, into green policies to tackle climate change.

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‘You’d better do today what they’ll do tomorrow..’

Give In To The EU, Greek PM Tsipras Counsels Italian Government (K.)

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has counseled the Italian government to give in to EU demands that it lower its budget deficit, according to newspaper Corriere della Sera. In an analysis piece titled “Tsipras’ advice to Italy: Give in now, then it will be worse,” Federico Fubini writes that Tsipras was sort of apologetic to the Italians for not taking their side in their conflict with the EU Commission. “I can not do anything because I would be the first to arouse suspicion,” Tsipras reportedly said. Rubini adds: “(Tsipras) no doubt remembers that Italy did nothing when he tried desperately to soften the conditions – then draconian – placed by the euro area on Greece.”

“But then Tsipras, mindful of the retreat that he improvised in July 2015 after blocking the bank accounts of the voters to avoid the collapse of the system, has offered advice to Italy. ‘You’d better do today what they’ll do tomorrow,’ he said. ‘If instead you have another idea – he added, perhaps alluding to the euro exit option that he refused – well, then, good luck.’”

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Ha!

Russia Space Agency To Check If US Moon Landings Really Happened (Ind.)

The head of Russia‘s national space agency has proposed a mission to the moon to verify whether the American moon landings really took place. Dmitry Rogozin responded to a question about whether Nasa’s Apollo programme actually put men on the moon back in the 1960s and 1970s during a conversation with the president of Moldova, Igor Dodon. He appeared to be joking, as he smirked and shrugged while answering. But conspiracies surrounding Nasa’s moon missions are common in Russia. In a video of their interaction, posted to his 815,000 Twitter followers, Mr Rogozin says: “We have set this objective to fly and verify whether they’ve been there or not”.

Nasa’s six well-documented official manned missions to the surface of the Moon, beginning with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in July 1969 and continuing with Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt in December 1972, have been dogged with conspiracy theories. In 2015, a former spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee called for an investigation into the Nasa moon landings. Vladimir Markin said an enquiry should be launched into the disappearance of original footage from the first moon landing in 1969 and the whereabouts of lunar rock, which was brought back to Earth during several missions.

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