Jun 212022
 


Caravaggio Conversion on the way to Damascus 1600-01

 

All This and World War Too (Kunstler)
‘Nothing Will Be As Before’ (Batiushka)
The Triumph of Death (Chris Hedges)
Zelenskyy Officially Bans Ukraine’s Largest Opposition Political Party (CTH)
Russia Demands Lithuania Lift “Openly Hostile” Blockade (ZH)
A Permanent Shortage of Everything (Greenfield)
Orbán Vows To Dismiss Policies That Threaten To Impoverish Hungarians (RMX)
Adverse Effects Of Covid Vaccines & Measures To Prevent Them (Virology Journal)
Children Are Really, Really Unlikely To Die From Covid-19 (Munro)
The Federal Republic of New Normal Germany (CJ Hopkins)
Yellen Is Wrong AGAIN (Denninger)
Odds of US Economy Going Into Recession Next Year Jumps To 40% (NYP)
Biden Administration About to Render a Verdict on the Border Agents (Turley)
Dutch Join Germany, Austria, In Reverting To Coal (F24)
Open Letter to NATO Secretary-General (Molyviatis)

 

 

 

 

Tucker going green

 

 

 

 

 

 

“..the Flying Reptile of Chappaqua..”

All This and World War Too (Kunstler)

For three decades, since the old Soviet Union ended in a whimper, reincarnated Russia asked “the West” for very little, almost nothing, really, certainly not the kind of “aid” that the USA used like a fungo-bat to beat lesser states around the world into hegemonic submission. All Russia asked, after seventy-five years of mass formation communist insanity, was to be treated once again like a normal European nation. Early on, Russia even floated a possible application to NATO, which NATO laughed off — among many other insults to follow. But slowly after 1991, and then all at once, Europe and the USA fell under their own mass formation spell, apparently at the instigation of a certain Schwabenklaus and his WEF factotums implanted throughout Western Civ, like poison raisins in a fruitcake, rendering the EU members and the USA insane, which is to say no longer normal nations able to entertain normal relations with others.

And so, by February of 2022, you get this coalition of lunatic countries — preoccupied at home with the rankest political degeneracy disguised as virtue — provoking a proxy war in Ukraine with the aim of impoverishing, humiliating, and weakening Russia. And despite the massive funding and training of a 200,000-man Ukrainian military poised against the Donbas, the whole thing collapsed in misadventure as a strategic Russian meat-grinder chews through the West’s proxy army like so much lunchmeat… bringing us up-to-date. As the psychologist Mattias Desmet points out in his just-published book, The Psychology of Totalitarianism, the people tragically locked into a mass formation develop, among many other delusions and psychopathologies, the grandiose idea that they have an ethical duty to destroy other nations.

Hence, perhaps, you can see how the dangerous mischief of RussiaGate, Hillary Clinton’s spoofish punkery that Russia “interfered” in the 2016 election, mutated into an American foreign policy psychosis. By “Hillary Clinton” you must understand I refer not just to the Flying Reptile of Chappaqua herself, but the Party of Chaos she helped create out of the diverse-and-inclusive body parts stitched together from the graveyard of Leftist politics — socialists, communists, feminists, anarchists, Maoists, and Gawd-knows whatever other diverse ists this increasingly crazed coalition of Jacobin maniacs could enlist for beating a path straight into World War Three.

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“And also it leaves two captured US mercenaries. There is speculation that the British might plea for their release in exchange for Julian Assange..”

‘Nothing Will Be As Before’ (Batiushka)

Western arms, usually third-rate from stocks anyway, are making hardly any difference in the Ukraine. Most, together with munitions, get destroyed before they can be used. Much that has been promised cannot be used because it will take months to instruct Ukrainians on how to use them. The rate of attrition of the Kiev Army, up to 1,000 a day according to Kuleba, the Kiev Interior Minister, is simply unsustainable. Once the fortifications in the Donbass, built by Kiev and NATO over the last eight years, have been overwhelmed, there will be a clear run to Odessa, Transdnestria, Kharkov and Kiev or indeed anywhere that Russia wants. This could happen soon. Yesterday, the Russian Ministry of Defence released figures on mercenaries. = The picture is dismal for the Ukraine.

Of some 6,000 mercenaries in the Ukraine from 64 different countries, some 2,000 have been killed and some 2,000 have fled. Perhaps they thought that they were going to fight in a Third World country, where the enemy just had Kalashnikovs and not world-beating hypersonic missiles? How long the remaining 2,000 or so will remain alive remains to be seen. Poland supplied the greatest number of mercenaries, with 1,831. Presumably as with other countries like Canada (601 mercenaries), USA (530), Romania (504), Germany and France, the majority of these were actually Ukrainians who have lived outside the Ukraine for some years, rather than native people. In third place for mercenaries from Europe comes the UK with 422, of whom 102 have been killed and 98 have fled.

According to General Konashenkov who released the figures, the number of mercenaries coming has stopped and indeed been reversed. It is too dangerous to stay and get killed in the Ukraine. This leaves the two foolish British mercenaries, not killed in action with the 102 others, but taken prisoner. And also it leaves two captured US mercenaries. There is speculation that the British might plea for their release in exchange for Julian Assange. That would upset the Americans. On the other hand, the British mercenaries, Eslin and Pinner, have already been sentenced to death. If that sentenced is carried out, it is going to make Johnson even more unpopular than he already is. Perhaps that is why Johnson went to Kiev to plead.

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“Reality, increasingly unpalatable, will cease to exist in public discourse.”

The Triumph of Death (Chris Hedges)

The Biden administration is defined by failed expectations, from its stymied Build Back Better Plan to its refusal to raise the minimum wage. It is running on fumes, using gimmicks, empty rhetoric, spectacle and fear to intimidate the electorate. The descent is pathetic to watch, reminiscent of the moment Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu tried desperately to placate an unruly crowd from the balcony of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Romania building by offering to raise pension and family allowance by $2 a month. He and his wife were executed four days later. The discredited East German Communist Party, which like the Romanian revolution I also covered as a reporter, made similar empty gestures, promising to open its closed party headquarters to the public long after anyone cared.

The billionaire class, or at least many of them, would prefer to loot and pillage under the cover of the old political decorum and rhetoric. They like the fiction of paying homage to an emasculated democracy. It gives them the veneer of respectability. But this is not to be. The rage of the betrayed is articulated by imbecilic demagogues vomited up from the social and political swamp. Corporations and the billionaire class will continue to exploit, but under a cruder and crueler authoritarianism. The social, political, economic and environmental breakdown will accelerate.

Reality, increasingly unpalatable, will cease to exist in public discourse. It will be replaced by Millenarian cults, such as the Christian fascists, and bizarre conspiracy theories, a retreat into magical thinking where evil is embodied in demonized individuals and groups that must be eradicated. Truth and lies will be indistinguishable. The vulnerable will be cast aside, blamed for their own misery, as well as ours. Those who resist will be criminals. Mass death will sweep across the planet. This is the world our children will inherit unless those who control us are wrenched from power.

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And we pay for this?!

Zelenskyy Officially Bans Ukraine’s Largest Opposition Political Party (CTH)

The definition of the modern “western democracy” in Ukraine is increasingly showcased as the goal for modern totalitarian government. The inflection point away from representative democracy was first evident in the way COVID-19 was leveraged by “western” governments in the U.S, Canada, Australia and the European Union. Totalitarian minded leaders within those democracies, including governors in the United States, began operating without any elected representative feedback. Everything shifted from legislative representation to a system of dictatorial fiats with no opposition allowed in the arbitrary rules and regulations. From forced lockdowns and arbitrary determinations of “essential workers,” various western government leaders were drunk on their new power.

Those who were already predisposed to the benefits of communism (aka Justin Trudeau) and various shades therein, dropped all pretense of believing there were limits to their power and began dispatching opposition views. It did not take long before we saw things escalate into lockdowns, travel bans, forced business closures, quarantine camps and ultimately forced vaccinations and checkpoints for transit. Collectively, none of these efforts ever went before a representative body for debate and consent; they were done through brute force and power of a top-down centralized authoritarian government. It did not seem as if most people realized how ‘western democracy’ changed overnight through the use of the pandemic.

What we see taking place in Ukraine is an outcropping of this newly defined ‘western democracy.’ Using a declaration of emergency power, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has now banned all opposition voices, taken control of broadcast media and now today banned the second largest political party in Ukraine. Ukraine’s Opposition Platform For Life (OPPL) was the second largest political force in the Ukraine Parliament. As of today, the party is officially banned by a Ukrainian court at the request of the Zelenskyy Ministry of Justice. All assets, funds and property belonging to OPPL have been seized and transferred to the state.

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“He expressed hope, however, that the West “will have enough brains to opt against this”.

Russia Demands Lithuania Lift “Openly Hostile” Blockade (ZH)

Anton Alikhanov, the governor of the Russian oblast which has a total population of some one million people (with Kaliningrad city including almost 450,000 – and 800,000 total if outlying suburbs are counted) is urging calm: Urging citizens not to resort to panic buying, Alikhanov said two vessels were already ferrying goods between Kaliningrad and Saint Petersburg, and seven more would be in service by the end of the year. “Our ferries will handle all the cargo”, he said on Saturday. Russian officials and media have long warned against what they dubbed Western aims to “blockade” Kaliningrad. Crucially, the EU enforcement measure being implemented from Vilnius marks a complete break in a three decade long treaty that’s been in effect…

Ahead of the new Lithuanian transit ban taking effect, the state railways service was reportedly awaiting final word from the European Commission on enforcing it: The cargo unit of Lithuania’s state railways service set out details of the ban in a letter to clients following “clarification” from the European Commission on the mechanism for applying the sanctions. Previously, Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomenas said the ministry was waiting for “clarification from the European Commission on applying European sanctions to Kaliningrad cargo transit.” Brussels then ruled that “sanctioned goods and cargo should still be prohibited even if they travel from one part of Russia to another but through EU territory,” according to Rueters/Rferl.

In Moscow’s eyes, this is tantamount to laying economic siege to part of Russia’s sovereign territory and one million of its citizens. When the EU first proposed the blockage of goods as part of the last major sanctions package in early April, Kremlin officials warned of war given Moscow would have to “break the blockade” for the sake if its citizens. According to an April 6th statement in Russia’s TASS by a state Duma official: Statements from the West about a possible blockade of Kaliningrad is testing the waters, but Russia can ‘break the blockade’ in case these threats become a reality, it has an experience, Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy head of the Federation Council upper house’s Committee for International affairs, said on Wednesday.

“I think that for now, this is a game, testing the waters <…>. In case of a blockade, as they are saying, the Soviet Union knows how to break the blockades, we (Russia as the successor of the Soviet Union – TASS) have vast experience,” the senator said. “If they want to go to the length of making us break this blockade to save the lives of our people, who live there, we can do this,” Dzhabarov said in a video interview at the press center of Parlamentskaya Gazeta (Parliamentary Newspaper). He expressed hope, however, that the West “will have enough brains to opt against this”.

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“..a handful of massive enterprises interconnected with the state lazily crank out low-quality products from vast supply chains that they no longer control..”

A Permanent Shortage of Everything (Greenfield)

The world isn’t flat, it’s all too round…. That’s why Islam is once again at war with Europe, Russia is invading Ukraine, China is relaunching its empire, and the ‘flatland’ is experiencing a dimensional shift. Globalization advocates had just recreated Marxist central planning with a somewhat more flexible global model in which massive corporations bridged global barriers to create the most efficient possible means of moving goods and services around the planet. Borders would come down and cultural exchanges would make us all one ushering in the great union of humanity. Market consolidation due to government regulations has left a handful of companies sitting atop the market. When one of them, like Abbott for baby formula, has a hiccup, the results are catastrophic

[..] others like Procter & Gamble, which controls about half the menstrual products market, don’t have to worry about losing market share to competition. Similar consolidation in food, paper products and supermarkets have replaced a dynamic economy with cartels. Behind all the brands on the product shelves is a creaky Soviet system in which a handful of massive enterprises interconnected with the state lazily crank out low-quality products from vast supply chains that they no longer control and feel little competitive pressure to perform better. The only thing that is still American about the supermarket experience is the advertising. Interdependence hasn’t even led to the world government that globalists wanted, but global chaos in which impotent western powers try to talk the rest of the world out of fighting to avoid being swamped by refugees, high energy bills and empty shelves in supermarkets.

After selling off American economic sovereignty, globalists proved unable to maintain global stability. Lacking the will to actually stand up to China, Iran or Russia, all they can do is hold more international conferences and build up a useless multinational bureaucracy. Say what you will about the League of Nations, but it only had 700 employees in Geneva. The UN’s 44,000 employees are just the tip of the iceberg in the huge ranks of multinational organizations who all claim to be upholding the international order while running up the tab.

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“Tens of thousands of Hungarians have received refugees into their homes, collected donations, and volunteered. In the meantime, we have sent and continue to send humanitarian aid, donations, food, fuel, and medicine to Ukraine.”

“..the sanctions imposed should not do us more harm than Russia.”

Orbán Vows To Dismiss Policies That Threaten To Impoverish Hungarians (RMX)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has hit back at a letter addressed to him by 44 MEPs, which directly accused his government of backing Russia in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. In the letter, dated June 14, MEPs expressed their dismay at the Hungarian government for securing an exemption on the latest energy sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union, claiming that “the exemption for Russian oil pipelines will continue to finance Russia’s war crimes against Ukraine.” The European lawmakers further lament what they describe to be “the unfortunate prioritization of national economic gain and personal political interests to the detriment of the lives of the Ukrainian people.” The MEPs included members of the Renew Europe, EPP and S&D groups in the European Parliament.

Orbán responded in a letter on Thursday, dismissing the notion that his government is supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine and vowing to continue rejecting proposals that “run counter to common sense and threaten to impoverish Hungarian and European families.” “We condemn the Russian attack on the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine and the violation of the Budapest Convention. We want peace. The armed conflict must end, and the disputes must be settled through negotiation. We also need to help Ukraine and take care of the refugees. So far, almost 800,000 refugees have arrived in Hungary from Ukraine, who have been provided with food, accommodation, and medicine. We are providing education for children and work for adults. Tens of thousands of Hungarians have received refugees into their homes, collected donations, and volunteered. In the meantime, we have sent and continue to send humanitarian aid, donations, food, fuel, and medicine to Ukraine.”

The Hungarian prime minister insisted his government had acted consistently with the “consensual principle that the sanctions imposed should not do us more harm than Russia.” Orbán vowed to continue to speak with “sincere words and calm arguments” against proposals that would disproportionately affect the Hungarian economy and its people. “I am sure that I will find more and more partners among you in this endeavor,” Orbán predicted as the war continues, arguing that ensuring the sustainability of his country’s economy “is not only in the interest of Hungary, but also all of Europe.”

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“..immune function among vaccinated individuals 8 months after the administration of two doses of COVID-19 vaccine was lower than that among the unvaccinated individuals..”

Adverse Effects Of Covid Vaccines & Measures To Prevent Them (Virology Journal)

Recently, The Lancet published a study on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and the waning of immunity with time. The study showed that immune function among vaccinated individuals 8 months after the administration of two doses of COVID-19 vaccine was lower than that among the unvaccinated individuals. According to European Medicines Agency recommendations, frequent COVID-19 booster shots could adversely affect the immune response and may not be feasible. The decrease in immunity can be caused by several factors such as N1-methylpseudouridine, the spike protein, lipid nanoparticles, antibody-dependent enhancement, and the original antigenic stimulus.


These clinical alterations may explain the association reported between COVID-19 vaccination and shingles. As a safety measure, further booster vaccinations should be discontinued. In addition, the date of vaccination should be recorded in the medical record of patients. Several practical measures to prevent a decrease in immunity have been reported. These include limiting the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including acetaminophen to maintain deep body temperature, appropriate use of antibiotics, smoking cessation, stress control, and limiting the use of lipid emulsions, including propofol, which may cause perioperative immunosuppression. In conclusion, COVID-19 vaccination is a major risk factor for infections in critically ill patients.

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You can never get to zero.

Children Are Really, Really Unlikely To Die From Covid-19 (Munro)

Thanks to the nationalised provision of healthcare in the UK, the author group from the UK Health Security Agency were able to link up data from children with a positive Covid-19 test between March 2020 and December 2021 with healthcare data from the NHS. They looked for anyone aged <20 years who died within 100 days of a positive test for Covid-19. The family doctors of the patients were surveyed for clinical details, and hospital discharge paperwork, death certificates and post-mortem reports reviewed. The medical teams who cared directly for the children were contacted where more information was needed. Decisions on whether Covid-19 contributed to the death was made by 2 independent study team members and conflicts were resolved by author group discussion. Where it was unclear, Covid-19 was assumed to have contributed.

The headline result was that during this period there were 185 deaths within 100 days of a positive Covid-19 test, of which 81 were due to Covid-19. Using estimated Covid-19 infections in each age group during this time period, the highest infection fatality rate (IFR) was in children <1 year (1.7 deaths per 100,000 infections), followed by 16 – 19 years (1.5/100,000), then 12 – 15 years (0.9/100,000) and lowest in 1 – 11 years (0.3/100,000). Every death of a child is tragic, but these numbers are reassuringly small. Looking at each variant, the risk of death declined quite significantly for each subsequent wave. The IFR for the original virus was 1/100,000, for Alpha was 0.8/100,000 and for Delta was 0.6/100,000 (no data yet for Omicron, but given we know it is significantly less virulent than Delta we can expect this to fall further still).

The overall risk of death for people aged <20 years from Covid-19 during this time period was 0.7 deaths per 100,000 infections (7 per million, or 0.0007%). This is the same as the average risk of death to someone runnjng a marathon, going skiing for 10 days, or going on a return flight from London to New York City. More than half of all deaths due to Covid-19 occurred within a week of the positive test, and >90% within 30 days. Covid-19 was responsible for 1.2% of all deaths in children during this time period. One of the most important part of the analysis is regarding the comorbidity status of the children who sadly passed away due to Covid-19. Of the 81 deaths, 61 (75%) occurred in children with significant comorbidities, including severe neuro-disability, immunocompromise, congenital syndromes or chronic heart disease.

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“The roll-out of the New Normal is a global project … a multi-phase, multi-faceted project. Germany is just the current “tip of the spear.”

The Federal Republic of New Normal Germany (CJ Hopkins)

So, the government of New Normal Germany is contemplating forcing everyone to wear medical-looking masks in public from October to Easter on a permanent basis. Seriously, the fanatical New Normal fascists currently in charge of Germany’s government — mostly the SPD and the Greens — are discussing revising the “Infection Protection Act” in order to grant themselves the authority to continue to rule the country by decree, as they have been doing since the Autumn of 2020, thus instituting a “permanent state of emergency” that overrides the German constitution, indefinitely.

Go ahead, read that paragraph again. Take a break from the carnage in non-Nazi Ukraine, the show trials in the US congress, monkeypoxmania, Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, Sudden Bovine Death Syndrome, family-oriented drag queens, non-“vaccine”-related facial paralysis, and Biden falling off his bike, and reflect on what this possibly portends, the dominant country of the European Union dispensing with any semblance of democracy and transforming into a fascist biosecurity police state.

OK, let me try to be more precise, as I don’t want to be arrested for “spreading disinformation” or “delegitimizing the state.” Germany is not dispensing with the semblance of democracy. No, the German constitution will remain in effect. It’s just that the revised Infection Protection Act — like the “Enabling Act of 1933,” which granted the Nazi government the authority to issue any edicts it wanted under the guise of “remedying the distress of the people” — will grant the New Normal German government the authority to continue to supersede the constitution and issue whatever edicts it wants under the guise of “protecting the public health” … for example, forcing the German masses to display their conformity to the new official ideology by wearing medical-looking masks on their faces for six or seven months of every year.

In addition to a ritualized mass-demonstration of mindlessly fascist ideological conformity (a standard feature of all totalitarian systems), this annual October-to-Easter mask-mandate, by simulating the new paranoid “reality” in which humanity is under constant attack by deadly viruses and other “public health threats,” will cement the New Normal ideology into place. If not opposed and stopped here in Germany, it will spread to other European countries, and to Canada, and Australia, and the New Normal US states. If you think what happens in Germany doesn’t matter because you live in Florida, or in Sweden, or the UK, you haven’t been paying attention recently. The roll-out of the New Normal is a global project … a multi-phase, multi-faceted project. Germany is just the current “tip of the spear.”

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Yellen does not understand energy, and should be silent about it.

Yellen Is Wrong AGAIN (Denninger)

I’m getting tired of political feelz being paraded around as alleged “facts”. “Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday that the Biden administration’s policies are not responsible for record-high gas prices, and the only way to fix the energy crisis in the “medium-term” is to move towards “renewables to address climate change.”… “Actually, consumption of gas and fuels are currently at lower levels than pre-pandemic, and what’s happened is the production has gone down. Refinery capacity is declined in the United States and oil production has declined. ….” Refinery capacity and production declined because Biden said he would ban both and, within days of being inaugurated, took concrete steps to do both.

Refineries and pipelines have a 30, 40, 50 or more year service life. Nobody in their right mind is going to put forward capital investment with a 30 year payback when you’re told that investment will be destroyed and that threat is credible because the people making it then act in accordance with same, thus confirming that its not mere election-year rhetoric (which we all know happens and usually means nothing.) “Yellen argued that the best way to address the energy crisis in the “medium-term” is to transition the country off of fossil fuels.” That’s a thermodynamic impossibility within the current realm of knowledge. In short: You can’t. To make an EV battery you must dig up 500,000 lbs. of earth. For one battery. Which has a service life, after which it must be replaced.

Which has no current means of economically recycling the components either, so unless you’d like the price of the pack to wildly exceed the crazy levels it is at now you will throw the old away and buy another one with another half-million pounds of earth dug up. All of which are dug up, transported and processed using fossil fuels because there is no other rational way to do so. Renewables in the form of wind and solar require these fossil fuel inputs, as do storage batteries. Because the energy they produce is uncertain, that is the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow, you can never guarantee how much output you will have from them even if you could somehow resolve the fossil fuel requirement for creating the panels, concrete and blades for the windmills, and rare earth materials you must dig out of the ground and refine to make them. For this reason the energy they produce will always fluctuate wildly in price simply due to fluctuations in supply.

If you build “enough” that you’re comfortable you will not be short there will be times there is so much supply the price is zero and the economic incentive to build them will likewise be zero. At any build-out less than this there will be times when you demand it but can’t have it. Of course the time when you demand it and can’t have it will be at the most inconvenient time of all, typically when its freezing-butt cold or broiling hot. Look at the price of these things and the fossil alternatives over long periods of time. Natural gas has seen wild spikes in both directions in price. So has wind power, solar and similar. There are only two that do not over our history of use: Coal and fission-based nuclear.

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“We look for GDP growth to slow to almost zero, inflation to settle at around 3% and the Fed to hike rates above 4%.”

Odds of US Economy Going Into Recession Next Year Jumps To 40% (NYP)

Wall Street bets are growing that the U.S. economy tumbles into a recession next year as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates at the fastest pace in two decades in order to cool scorching-hot inflation. Bank of America Global Research strategists have ratcheted up the odds of an economic downturn to 40% in 2023, with gross domestic product – the broadest measure of goods and services produced in a nation – slowing to almost zero by the second half of next year. “Our worst fears around the Fed have been confirmed: They fell way behind the curve and are now playing a dangerous game of catch up,” analysts led by Ethan Harris wrote. “We look for GDP growth to slow to almost zero, inflation to settle at around 3% and the Fed to hike rates above 4%.”

Fed policymakers last week approved a 75-basis point interest rate hike – the first since 1994 – as they race to catch up with runaway inflation, pushing the federal funds target range to 1.5% to 1.75%. Another hike of that magnitude could be on the table in July amid signs of stubbornly high inflation, Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters after the meeting, prompting investors to reassess the economic outlook. Officials also laid out an aggressive path of rate increases for the remainder of the year. New economic projections released after the two-day meeting showed policymakers expect interest rates to hit 3.4% by the end of 2022, which would be the highest level since 2008.

Hiking interest rates tends to create higher rates on consumer and business loans, which slows the economy by forcing employers to cut back on spending. Mortgage rates are already approaching 6%, the highest since 2008, while some credit card issuers have ratcheted up their rates to 20%. Harris slammed the Fed for waiting too long to begin tightening monetary policy and said the delay has raised the chances of a so-called “boom-bust” scenario.

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Another made up story.

Biden Administration About to Render a Verdict on the Border Agents (Turley)

At the height of the Stalinist purges, Soviet internal affairs minister Lavrentiy Beria famously boasted: “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.” U.S. Border Patrol agents may be wondering if the Beria standard is back in vogue with the Biden administration. The reason: Fox News has reported that the Department of Homeland Security is moving to charge several agents with administrative violations after they were falsely accused of whipping Haitian migrants last September in Texas. The agents likely felt their fates were sealed the minute that President Biden promised to punish them, before an official investigation had even started. Either the president was wrong, or the agents must be guilty … of something. The controversy began when the Border Patrol responded to a large influx of undocumented migrants in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 19.

Officials ordered a mounted unit to an under-defended part of the border. Mounted units are commonly used by federal, state and local police agencies for crowd control. The agents found themselves facing a large group of Haitian migrants crossing the border, and they positioned themselves on the river’s edge to block entry. A photographer captured the scene, which included agents using bridle reins to guide their skittish horses. While the entire videotape clearly shows the agents using the reins on their mounts, not on the migrants, some clearly misleading still shots appeared to make it look like the opposite was happening. Condemnations immediately erupted from politicians and pundits; some media reports presented the abuse allegations as fact — as the “whipping (of) Haitian asylum seekers.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) declared that the alleged whipping was “worse than what we witnessed in slavery” and condemned “the cowboys who were running down Haitians and using their reins to whip them.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) decried “images of inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants by Border Patrol — including the use of whips,” and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) described the incident as “white supremacist behavior.” For his part, President Biden rode the wave of media outrage, declaring: “It was horrible what — to see, as you saw — to see people treated like they did: horses nearly running them over and people being strapped. It’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay.” Of course, the Soviet Union’s Beria was a model of efficiency compared to Biden’s Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, who promised last September that the investigation would be “completed in a matter of days, not weeks.” Then months dragged on, and Mayorkas and his department went into virtual radio-silence.

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“The 2030 coal exit date is not in doubt at all..”

Famous last words.

Dutch Join Germany, Austria, In Reverting To Coal (F24)

The Dutch joined Germany and Austria in reverting to coal power on Monday following an energy crisis provoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Netherlands said it would lift all restrictions on power stations fired by the fossil fuel, which were previously limited to just over a third of output. Berlin and Vienna made similar announcements on Sunday as Moscow, facing biting sanctions over Ukraine, cuts gas supplies to energy-starved Europe. “The cabinet has decided to immediately withdraw the restriction on production for coal-fired power stations from 2002 to 2024,” Dutch climate and energy minister Rob Jetten told journalists in The Hague.


The Dutch minister said his country had “prepared this decision with our European colleagues over the past few days”. Germany however said it still aimed to close its coal power plants by 2030, in light of the greater emissions of climate-changing CO2 from the fossil fuel. “The 2030 coal exit date is not in doubt at all,” economy ministry spokesman Stephan Gabriel Haufe said at a regular news conference. The target was “more important than ever”, he added.

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Petros G. Molyviatis, a retired career diplomat, was, successively, diplomatic adviser and director of the cabinet of Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis (1974-80), Secretary-General of the Greek Presidency (1980-85 and 1990-95), Member of Parliament (1996-2004) and Foreign Minister from 2004-6 and in two caretaker governments in 2012 and 2015.

Open Letter to NATO Secretary-General (Molyviatis)

Honorable Secretary General of NATO,

Recently, you have been making statements about the crisis in Greek-Turkish relations. These statements appear to keep an equal distance between the two countries. In reality, however, they are formally unacceptable, essentially favoring the aggressor to the detriment of the victim, and are ultimately detrimental to the Alliance. The NATO Secretary-General is an employee of the governments that appoint him and pay his salary from the money of their taxpayers. He does not formulate policy – this is the work of the member governments – and does not express positions without their approval. And obviously the Greek government has not approved these statements. The obvious reason for the existence of any alliance is solidarity among its members. But here we have a NATO member, Turkey:

• Formally and publicly claiming territories of another member, Greece. Namely, 152 islands, islets and rock outcroppings in the Eastern Aegean sea. • Performing daily overflights of warplanes over these territories. • Having deployed against these islands the largest amphibious fleet in the Mediterranean and at the same time demanding their disarmament. When you, Mr. Secretary-General, call on Greece to engage in dialogue with Turkey to resolve their differences, you are essentially asking Greece to make its territorial integrity the subject of negotiations with Turkey. And you ask this while representing an Alliance that was set up and still exists for this very reason, namely the protection of the territorial integrity of its members.

This is not equidistancing. This is encouraging the aggressor against the victim. And this, in the end, does not lead to the strengthening of the Alliance’s cohesion but, rather, to its dissolution. If, Mr. Secretary-General, you do not possess the authority to intervene to remedy this unprecedented and unacceptable situation within the Alliance, I think the best thing to do is to remain silent until your term ends.

Sincerely,

Petros G. Molyviatis

Greek citizen

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Apr 042022
 


Leonardo da Vinci Vitruvian man c1510 (see comments at link)

 

Bucha (Klarenberg)
New Witness Testimony About Mariupol Maternity Hospital ‘Airstrike’ (GZ)
German Retailers To Increase Food Prices By 20-50% On Monday (ZH)
‘Rublegas:’ The World’s New Resource-based Reserve Currency (Escobar)
Russian Ruble Relaunched, Linked To Gold & Commodities (Manly)
2 Pro-Putin Parties Win Avalanche Victories In European Elections (ZH)
Russia And Serbia Are Projected To Become The Empire’s White Colonies (Antonic)
Fauci’s United Front Is Collapsing (Tucker)
NIH Admits it ‘Suppressed’ Wuhan Lab Data, Disputes ‘Deleted’ Label (ET)
Joe Biden Should Be Removed Before Putin, US Poll Says (Exp.)
Biden’s ‘Absolute’ Defense Of Hunter (Turley)
Biden Wants Attorney General Garland to Prosecute Trump (Turley)
From Maria’s Office … the Fashion Nazi (Zakharova)

 

 

 

 

Zelensky Grammys
https://twitter.com/i/status/1510799460372262917

 

 

 

 

This is an excerpt from the article right below, by Kit Klarenberg (MUST READ). I picked this part because the story of 100s of bodies on the streets of Bucha is everywhere today. Only, the photos used are straight from the Ukraine goverment, and nobody fact checked them. What we do know is that the day before, the bodies were nowhere to be seen.

The role of the “embedded” Associated Press is also interesting.

Bucha (Klarenberg)

Hours before the publication of this article, on April 2nd, claims of Russia’s most hideous alleged war crime to date erupted across social media. Footage and photos of scores of dead bodies – some with their hands tied – littering the streets of Bucha, a small city near Kiev, testified to an apparent massacre of military-aged men by Russian troops, as they retreated from the battered city two days earlier. The gruesome visuals have triggered intensified calls for direct Western military confrontation with Russia. But as with the incident at the maternity ward in Mariupol and numerous other high profile events initially portrayed by Ukrainian authorities as Russian massacres, a series of details cast doubt on the official story out of Bucha.

Within hours of Russia’s withdrawal from the Bucha on March 31st, its mayor announced that his city had been liberated from “Russian orcs,” employing a dehumanizing term widely used by Azov Battalion. An accompanying article noted the Russians had “mined civilian buildings and infrastructure,” but no mention was made of any mass killing of local citizens, let alone scores of corpses left in the street, which one might reasonably expect would be top of any news outlet’s agenda when reporting on the event. On April 2, within hours of the publication of photos and videos purporting to show victims of an alleged Russian massacre, Ukrainian media reported that specialist units had begun “clearing the area of saboteurs and accomplices of Russian troops.” Nothing was said about dead bodies in the streets.

The National Police of Ukraine announced that day that they were “cleaning the territory…from the assistants of Russian troops,” publishing video that showed no corpses in the streets of Bucha and Ukrainian forces in full control of the city.

Brennan

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Staged. An attempt to start WWII. Bucha is the next stage in that attempt. False flags everywhere.

New Witness Testimony About Mariupol Maternity Hospital ‘Airstrike’ (GZ)

A key witness to the widely publicized incident at the Mariupol maternity hospital has punctured the official narrative of a Russian airstrike on the facility, and raised serious questions about Western media ethics. Meanwhile, news of a massacre in the city of Bucha contains suspicious elements. On March 9th, shocking news of a deliberate Russian airstrike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, began spreading widely via social media and news outlets. Fiery condemnation from Western officials, pundits, and journalists was immediate. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, for his part, claimed the act was proof of the “genocide” Russia was perpetrating against the civilian population, and urged European leaders to condemn the “war crime” and “strengthen sanctions” to stop the Kremlin’s “evil” deeds in the country.

NPR suggested the attack was part of Russia’s “terrible wartime tradition” of purposefully targeting health facilities and medics during conflicts, dating back to Chechnya. But newly released testimony from one of the incident’s main witnesses punctures the official narrative about a targeted Russian airstrike on the hospital. The witness account indicates the hospital had been turned into a base of operations by Ukrainian military forces and was not targeted in an airstrike, as Western media claimed. Her testimony also raised serious questions about whether at least some elements of the event were staged for propaganda purposes – and with the cooperation of the Associated Press.

The new testimony (watch below) comes on the heels of evidence strongly suggesting that the destruction of a dramatic theater in Mariupol on March 16 was staged by the Azov Battalion, and that nearly all civilians had evacuated a day before. And as we will see below, new reports of a Russian massacre of scores of civilians in the town of Bucha also contain suspicious details suggesting a pattern of information manipulation aimed at triggering Western military intervention. Mariana Vishegirskaya, a pregnant resident of Donetsk who was present at the maternity hospital during the widely reported incident, has evacuated from Mariupol and is now speaking out. Photos showing a bloodied Vishnevskaya fleeing the building with her personal belongings became a centerpiece of coverage of the attack, along with a photo of another woman being carried away pale and unconscious on a stretcher.

In the wake of the incident, Russian officials falsely claimed the pair were the same person, citing Vishegirskaya’s background as a blogger and Instagram personality as evidence she was a crisis actor and the incident a false flag. Though that assertion was not true, as we shall see, the hospital had been almost completely taken over by the Ukrainian military.

Zelensky Azov

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Only part of this is due to Ukraine.

German Retailers To Increase Food Prices By 20-50% On Monday (ZH)

Just days after Germany reported the highest inflation in generation (with February headline CPI soaring at a 7.6% annual pace and blowing away all expectations), giving locals a distinctly unpleasant deja vu feeling even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine broke what few supply chains remained and sent prices even higher into the stratosphere… … on Monday, Germany will take one step toward a return of the dreaded Weimar hyperinflation, when according to the German Retail Association (HDE), consumers should prepare for another wave of price hikes for everyday goods and groceries with Reuters reporting that prices at German retail chains will explode between 20 and 50%:

Even before the outbreak of war in Ukraine, prices had risen by about five per cent “across the product range” as a result of increased energy prices, HDE President Josef Sanktjohanser told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Friday. With Russia’s invasion hitting economies and the supply chain harder, yet another series of price increases is on the horizon. “The second wave of price increases is coming, and it will certainly be in double figures,” Sanktjohanser warned, cited by The Local. According to the president of the trade association, the first retail chains have already started to raise their prices in Germany – and the rest are likely to follow. “We will soon be able to see the impact of the war reflected in price labels across all the supermarkets,” said Sanktjohanser.

Recently, popular retail chains such as Aldi, Edeka and Globus announced that they would be forced to raise their prices. At Aldi, meat and butter will be “significantly more expensive” from Monday due to price hikes from its suppliers. “Since the start of the Ukraine war, there have been jumps in purchase prices that we have not experienced before,” a spokesperson for Aldi Nord announced on Friday. A fortnight ago, Aldi raised the prices of about 160 items, and a week later 20 more items became more expensive. Other supermarket brands quickly followed suit. In February, Germany’s cost of living rose at the highest level since reunification, with everyday goods increasing by an average of 7.3%. The federal statistics agency Destatis said the jump from January’s figure of 5.1 percent to February’s 7.3 percent reflected the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has sent the price of oil and gas soaring.

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“..the Americans want the war to go on indefinitely, to “bog down” Moscow as if this was Afghanistan in the 1980s, and have strictly forbidden the Ukrainian Comedian in front of a green screen somewhere – certainly not Kiev – to accept any ceasefire or peace deal.”

‘Rublegas:’ The World’s New Resource-based Reserve Currency (Escobar)

Saddam, Gaddafi, Iran, Venezuela – they all tried but couldn’t do it. But Russia is on a different level altogether. The beauty of the game-changing, gas-for-rubles, geoeconomic jujitsu applied by Moscow is its stark simplicity. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presidential decree on new payment terms for energy products, predictably, was misunderstood by the collective west. The Russian government is not exactly demanding straightforward payment for gas in rubles. What Moscow wants is to be paid at Gazprombank in Russia, in its currency of choice, and not at a Gazprom account in any banking institution in western capitals. That’s the essence of less-is-more sophistication. Gazprombank will sell the foreign currency – dollars or euros – deposited by their customers on the Moscow Stock Exchange and credit it to different accounts in rubles within Gazprombank.

What this means in practice is that foreign currency should be sent directly to Russia, and not accumulated in a foreign bank – where it can easily be held hostage, or frozen, for that matter. All these transactions from now on should be transferred to a Russian jurisdiction – thus eliminating the risk of payments being interrupted or outright blocked. It’s no wonder the subservient European Union (EU) apparatus – actively engaged in destroying their own national economies on behalf of Washington’s interests – is intellectually unequipped to understand the complex matter of exchanging euros into rubles. Gazprom made things easier this Friday, sending official notifications to its counterparts in the west and Japan. Putin himself was forced to explain in writing to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz how it all works.

Once again, very simple: Customers open an account with Gazprombank in Russia. Payments are made in foreign currency – dollars or euros – converted into rubles according to the current exchange rate, and transferred to different Gazprom accounts. Thus it is 100 percent guaranteed that Gazprom will be paid. That’s in stark contrast to what the United States was forcing the Europeans to do: pay for Russian gas in Gazprom accounts in Europe, which would then be instantly frozen. These accounts would only be unblocked with the end of Operation Z, Russia’s military ops in Ukraine. Yet the Americans want the war to go on indefinitely, to “bog down” Moscow as if this was Afghanistan in the 1980s, and have strictly forbidden the Ukrainian Comedian in front of a green screen somewhere – certainly not Kiev – to accept any ceasefire or peace deal.

So Gazprom accounts in Europe would continue to be frozen. As Scholz was still trying to understand the obvious, his economic minions went berserk, floating the idea of nationalizing Gazprom’s subsidiaries – Gazprom Germania and Wingas – in case Russia decides to halt the gas flow. This is ridiculous. It’s as if Berlin functionaries believe that Gazprom subsidiaries produce natural gas in centrally heated offices across Germany. The new rubles-for-gas mechanism does not in any way violate existing contracts. Yet, as Putin warned, existing contracts may indeed be stopped: “If such [ruble] payments are not made, we will consider this to be the buyers’ failure to perform commitments with all ensuing implications.”

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Energy-ruble-gold.

“..if Russia begins to accept gold directly as a payment for oil, then this would be a new paradigm shift for the gold price as it would link the oil price directly to the gold price.”

Russian Ruble Relaunched, Linked To Gold & Commodities (Manly)

By offering to buy gold from Russian banks at a fixed price of 5000 rubles per gram, the Bank of Russia has both linked the ruble to gold and, since gold trades in US dollars, set a floor price for the ruble in terms of the US dollar. We can see this linkage in action since Friday 25 March when the Bank of Russia made the fixed price announcement. The ruble was trading at around 100 to the US dollar at that time, but has since strengthened and is nearing 80 to the US dollar. Why? Because gold has been trading on international markets at about US$ 62 per gram which is equivalent to (5000 / 62) = about 80.5, and markets and arbitrage traders have now taken note, driving the RUB / USD exchange rate higher.

So the ruble now has a floor to the US dollars, in terms of gold. But gold also has a floor, so to speak, because 5000 rubles per gram is 155,500 rubles per troy ounce of gold, and with a RUB / USD floor of about 80, that’s a gold price of around $1940. And if the Western paper gold markets of LBMA / COMEX try to drive the US dollar gold price lower, they will have to try to weaken the ruble as well or else the paper manipulations will be out in the open. Additionally, with the new gold to ruble linkage, if the ruble continues to strengthen (for example due to demand created by obligatory energy payments in rubles), this will also be reflected in a stronger gold price.

What does this mean for Oil? Russia is the world’s largest natural gas exporter and the world’s third largest oil exporter. We are seeing right now that Putin is demanding that foreign buyers (importers of Russian gas) must pay for this natural gas using rubles. This immediately links the price of natural gas to rubles and (because of the fixed link to gold) to the gold price. So Russian natural gas is now linked via the ruble to gold. The same can now be done with Russian oil. If Russia begins to demand payment for oil exports with rubles, there will be an immediate indirect peg to gold (via the fixed price ruble – gold connection). Then Russia could begin accepting gold directly in payment for its oil exports. In fact, this can be applied to any commodities, not just oil and natural gas.

What does this mean for the Price of Gold? By playing both sides of the equation, i.e. linking the ruble to gold and then linking energy payments to the ruble, the Bank of Russia and the Kremlin are fundamentally altering the entire working assumptions of the global trade system while accelerating change in the global monetary system. This wall of buyers in search of physical gold to pay for real commodities could certainly torpedo and blow up the paper gold markets of the LBMA and COMEX. The fixed peg between the ruble and gold puts a floor on the RUB / USD rate but also a quasi-floor on the US dollar gold price. But beyond this, the linking of gold to energy payments is the main event. While increased demand for rubles should continue to strengthen the RUB / USD rate and show up as a higher gold price, due to the fixed ruble – gold linkage, if Russia begins to accept gold directly as a payment for oil, then this would be a new paradigm shift for the gold price as it would link the oil price directly to the gold price.

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“We have such a victory it can be seen from the moon, but it’s sure that it can be seen from Brussels..”

I’d be careful about labeling them Pro-Putin. They’re just not pro-Brussels.

2 Pro-Putin Parties Win Avalanche Victories In European Elections (ZH)

In a one-two knockout punch for pro-Russia governments in Europe, on Sunday the government of Serbia’s pro-Russia president Aleksandar Vucic was headed for an avalanche victory in the country’s presidential election with nearly 60% of the vote, a big improvement to this 2017 election result… while Hungary’s Pro-Russia prime minister, Viktor Orban, was on track to clinch a fourth consecutive term, leveraging a message against being dragged into the war in neighboring Ukraine, to reassert himself as the European Union’s longest-serving premier. With roughly half of the vote counted, Orban’s Fidesz party led United for Hungary, a six-member opposition alliance, 57% to 32% in the party list contest, according to the National Election Office, with 63% of the votes counted. That would be sufficient for Fidesz to keep its two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Despite opinion polls forecasting a tighter race, Orban’s Fidesz party won comfortably across much of the country. Opposition leader Peter Marki-Zay even failed to win in his own district, where he had served as mayor. The far-right extremist Mi Hazank party won 6.3%, and was set to enter parliament, further diluting the power of the anti-Orban alliance. “We have such a victory it can be seen from the moon, but it’s sure that it can be seen from Brussels,” Orban said in his speech on Sunday night, making light of his government’s long-running tensions with EU leaders. “We will remember this victory until the end of our lives because we had to fight against a huge amount of opponents,” Orban said, citing a number of his political enemies including the Hungarian left, “bureaucrats” in Brussels, the international media, “and the Ukrainian president too — we never had so many opponents at the same time.”

The election campaign was dominated by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which put Orban’s lengthy association with Russian President Vladimir Putin under scrutiny. In his victory speech, Orban called Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky one of the “opponents” he had to overcome during the campaign. Orban’s unexpectedly strong victory defied polls ahead of the vote that had predicted Orban would face the toughest challenge to re-election in his 12 years in power, according to a report from the anti-Orban Bloomberg News. It almost makes one wonder why anyone – besides liberals of course – still uses polling, which obviously can’t forecast the future and also fails at mere propaganda and influencing election turnouts.

Orban

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History lesson: “..he would frequently refer to the Russians as redskins..”

Russia And Serbia Are Projected To Become The Empire’s White Colonies (Antonic)

In this article I will present the various plans that Germany had with the Serbs and Russians after the expected victory in World War II. Why do I fall back to history? We frequently perceive Hitler and Nazism as an aberration in Western history. But Hitler was, in fact, just openly announcing that in Europe he will do what the West has already done elsewhere. As we’ll see, Hitler took the extermination of the Native Americans as a model for the colonization of Slavic lands, Russia in particular. “It would be best if Serbia just disappeared from the map” —as attested by Hermann Neubacher, that opinion was prevalent within the German leadership in 1941 (see here, p. 89). But we find the same opinion in The Manchester Guardian (as The Guardian was formerly called), in August 1914: “If it were physically possible for Servia to be towed out to sea and sunk there, the air of Europe would at once seem cleaner” (here; here, p. 53).

Actually, the only difference between Hitler and the English was Hitler’s brutally proclaiming to do—and he had done as much as he could—what others in the West were doing slower and more subtly, the things they didn’t yet dare to undertake or weren’t able to accomplish. Unlike the Kaiser, who wanted territorial expansion towards the Middle East and a redistribution of African and Asian colonies, Hitler’s primary goal was to colonize Slavic lands, from the Baltic to the Black Sea for starters and then onward to the Urals. In Mein Kampf he writes that the Kaiser was mistaken in pushing Germany southwards. “When in today’s Europe we speak of new soil and land”, he wrote, “we primarily mean only Russia and the peripheral countries subservient to her. It appears that destiny itself wants to show us the way. […]

The giant Empire in the East is ripe for its downfall.” (here; 44th unabridged German edition, p. 742-3; compare here, p. 118) By the way, Hitler had adopted many concepts from the West. As J. Q. Whitman revealed in Hitlerºs American Model (2017), race laws in the United States were the legal inspiration for the race laws in the Third Reich. In his book Hitler: The Definitive Biography (2014), John Toland showed how impressed Hitler had been with the system of Indian Reservations, the extermination of the indigenous peoples, the epidemics and starvation policies. According to Toland, when speaking to the German leaders, the Fuhrer frequently “extolled the efficacy of the American extermination of the ‘red savages’ by starvation and in unequal combat” (here, p. 802).

“As a passionate reader of Karl May’s novels”, writes John Pool in his book Hitler and His Secret Partners (1997), “he would frequently refer to the Russians as redskins. He saw a parallel between his own efforts to occupy and colonize Russia and the conquest of the American West” (p. 272). He used to say that in the European East the Germans “had one single purpose: Germanization by peopling with Germans and treating the locals as redskins”. He even encouraged military officers to read Karl May and learn about all kinds of combat with the natives.

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“Within days, everything changed.”

Fauci’s United Front Is Collapsing (Tucker)

Last week, medical journalist Katherine Eban posted at Vanity Fair the results of a long and detailed investigation into the lab-leak theory of the origins of SARS-CoV-2. The subject is moving ever more to the front-and-center of efforts to find out exactly what was going on at the highest levels in early 2020 that resulted in the greatest societal, political, and economic upheaval of our lives. How precisely did we move so quickly from the “germ games” of October 2019 – when the virus was already circulating in the US – to full-scale global lockdown by March? Why did Anthony Fauci, who in early February was downplaying the seriousness of the virus, flip to the other side (which we know from emails)?

It was Fauci, according to many reporters, who tapped Deborah Birx to huddle with Trump and convince him that the only way to battle the virus was to “shut down” the economy – as if anything like that was possible much less effective for controlling a respiratory virus. For two years now, and despite endless writing and reflection, this change from the top has puzzled me. Lockdowns contradicted not only a century of public-health practice but even WHO guidelines. Even on March 2, 2020, 850 scientists signed a letter to the White House warning against lockdowns, closures, and travel restrictions. Within days, everything changed. There were hints of extreme measures in the CDC pandemic planning manuals since 2006 but the idea was hardly orthodoxy in the profession.

It’s also true that there were elite scientists who longed for the chance to try out the new theory of virus suppression. But how did Fauci and Birx, to say nothing of Jared Kushner, become converts of the idea to the point that they were able to convince Trump to betray everything he believed in? This is quite probably where the lab-leak theory comes in. It’s not so much about whether the virus was an accidental or even deliberate leak that matters so much as whether Fauci, Francis Collins, and Jeremy Farrrar of the UK’s Wellcome Trust believed it was possible or even likely. In that case, we have our motive. Did they deploy the chaos of lockdowns as a genuine if wildly misguided attempt to suppress the virus as a way of avoiding culpability?

Or perhaps it was deployed as a kind of smokescreen to distract from a closer examination of the Wuhan’s lab’s funding sources? Or possibly there is a third reason. We have a very long way to go before the full truth is out. But Eban’s article adds tremendous detail about the great lengths to which our Fauci-led cabal of officials worked hard to suppress dissent on the question of lab-vs-natural origin. They kept papers from being posted on preprint servers, held Zoom sessions with authors in an attempt to intimidate them, and spent tremendous energy making it clear that there would be a no-leak “united front” no matter what.

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We hide it, but don’t delete.

NIH Admits it ‘Suppressed’ Wuhan Lab Data, Disputes ‘Deleted’ Label (ET)

A National Institutes for Health (NIH) spokesperson is disputing a nonprofit watchdog group’s claim that the agency “deleted” genetic sequencing data on the CCP virus from a Chinese lab, but the same official acknowledged the data was “suppressed.” “The headline says the sequences were deleted which is inaccurate. They were not deleted. This is a really important point, and I’ve highlighted what did happen from what we provided to you earlier this week,” NIH Media Branch Chief Amanda Fine told The Epoch Times in a March 31 email. Fine was referring to a March 29 Epoch Times story headlined “NIH Deleted Info Received From Wuhan Lab on CCP Virus Genetic Sequencing, Watchdog’s FOIA Finds.” The information Fine referenced as having been provided to The Epoch Times by NIH earlier in the week was included in the published story:

“’In June 2020, in response to a request by the same [Wuhan] researcher, National Center for Biotechnology [NCBI] gave the sequence data the status of “withdrawn,” which removes sequencing data from all public means of access but does not delete them. “‘NCBI subsequently reassigned the status of the sequence data to “suppressed,” which means that sequence data are removed from the search process but can be directly found by accession number. This action to reassign the data was identified as part of NLM’s ongoing review into the matter. We are working to make more information available,’ the spokesperson said.” The biotechnology center, which is part of the institute’s National Library of Medicine (NLM), is the U.S. component of the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration.

The Epoch Times story was prompted by a report published on March 29 by Empower Oversight Whistleblowers and Research (EO) that was based on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) responses the group received from the institute. “On June 5, 2020, a Wuhan University researcher requested that NIH retract the researcher’s submission of BioProject ID PRJNA637497 because of error. The Wuhan researcher explained ‘I’m sorry for my wrong submitting,’” Empower Oversight said in a statement (pdf) on March 29. “BioProject ID PRJNA637497 is also referred to as Submission-ID SUB7554642. Three days later, on June 8th, the NIH declined the researcher’s request, advising that it prefers to edit or replace, as opposed to delete, sequences submitted to the SRA,” EO reported. SRA refers to the Sequence Read Archive (SRA) data resource made available by NCBI, and it “stores raw sequencing data.”

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“His counsellors view the Ukraine crisis as a blunt instrument that nonetheless may help the president to dig himself out of his electoral hole.”

Joe Biden Should Be Removed Before Putin, US Poll Says (Exp.)

Just a week after the US president was accused of making a gaffe calling for regime change in Russia, an exclusive poll for the Sunday Express has revealed Americans would rather see his presidency end. Asked which would be better for America, 52 per cent chose “Biden loses power in the US” over 43 per cent for “Putin loses power in Russia”. The findings, in the poll by the Washington-based Democracy Institute, show almost two-thirds of Americans (62 per cent) believe Mr Biden will not be re-elected in 2024. They also appear to confirm an expected bid by Donald Trump in 2024 will see him sweep back to power. While Boris Johnson has seen a rise in public support for his handling of the Ukraine crisis, the error prone US president has not enjoyed a similar bounce.

Of 1,500 polled, who all identify as “likely voters”, 57 per cent disapprove of his presidency, the same as a month ago, while just 39 per cent approve of it. And 70 per cent believe the US is “heading in the wrong direction”. His handling of the war is only approved by 40 per cent while 52 per cent disapprove, and his overall foreign policy has a 55 per cent disapproval rating compared to 42 per cent approval. While a Techne poll for the Sunday Express showed almost a third of UK voters had Ukraine as their top concern, in the US just eight per cent saw it as their main issue, with the key worry being inflation. If Mr Trump does run in 2024, according to the US poll results he would beat Mr Biden by 48 per cent to 43 per cent.

Patrick Basham, Director of the Democracy Institute, said: “Biden’s foreign policy debacles, highlighted by America’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, have turned off voters, who mostly disapprove of his handling of America’s global role. “Biden’s political team knows economic pain will continue to weigh down the president’s ratings. So, it puts great stock in Biden’s handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “His counsellors view the Ukraine crisis as a blunt instrument that nonetheless may help the president to dig himself out of his electoral hole. “Should the Ukraine crisis end on terms perceived to be favourable to the Ukrainians, and should Vladimir Putin’s Russia be put back in her box, it’s possible that Biden will receive considerable credit and his ratings will improve. If that happens, his party’s candidates may also improve their positions vis-à-vis their Republican opponents.

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“While many media figures now willingly admit the legitimacy of Hunter Biden’s abandoned-laptop story, they are avoiding what the emails found on that laptop actually contain.”

Biden’s ‘Absolute’ Defense Of Hunter (Turley)

“We absolutely stand by the president’s comment.” With those words, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield reaffirmed that President Biden maintains his son Hunter Biden did “nothing [that] was unethical” and never “made money” in China. Those claims appear demonstrably false — and they make the positions of both the media and Attorney General Merrick Garland absolutely untenable. For the media, the ongoing investigation of Hunter Biden by U.S. Attorney David Weiss in Delaware has presented a growing danger of self-indictment over its prior coverage (or noncoverage). Weiss has called a long line of witnesses before a grand jury, and there is growing expectation of criminal charges against Hunter Biden. Nothing concentrates the mind as much as a looming indictment.

Thus, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other media faced the embarrassing prospect of an indictment based on a story they previously suggested was either a nonstory or Russian disinformation. Suddenly, in recent days, they all rushed to declare the story legitimate, 18 months after the New York Post reported it in October 2020. What quickly emerged, though, was a new narrative: None of this implicates President Biden. On CNN, White House correspondent John Harwood declared, “There is zero evidence that Vice President Biden, or President Biden, has done anything wrong in connection with what Hunter Biden has done.” Anchor Brianna Keilar then added for emphasis that Harwood was making “an important distinction.”

It was important, but not because it was true. While many media figures now willingly admit the legitimacy of Hunter Biden’s abandoned-laptop story, they are avoiding what the emails found on that laptop actually contain. Hundreds of emails appear to detail a multimillion-dollar influence-peddling enterprise by the Biden family, including Hunter Biden and his uncle James Biden. Influence peddling has long been the way Washington’s elite enriches itself. This common source of political corruption involves the relatives of powerful government figures who shake down corporations or countries for access and influence. The Bidens would seem to be standouts in this common practice, engaging in a virtual family business. James Biden has been accused of marketing his connection to his brother.

And in the emails discovered on his abandoned laptop, Hunter Biden practically sold timeshares of his father by dangling meetings and dinners for investors. The key in any influence peddling scheme is to protect the principal. People apparently were told to avoid directly referring to President Biden. In one email, Tony Bobulinski, then a business partner of Hunter’s, was instructed by Biden associate James Gilliar not to speak of the former veep’s connection to any transactions: “Don’t mention Joe being involved, it’s only when u [sic] are face to face, I know u [sic] know that but they are paranoid.” Instead, the emails apparently refer to President Biden with code names such as “Celtic” or “the big guy.” In one, “the big guy” is discussed as possibly receiving a 10 percent cut on a deal with a Chinese energy firm; other emails reportedly refer to Hunter Biden paying portions of his father’s expenses and taxes.

Bobulinski

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But doesn’t know what for yet.

Biden Wants Attorney General Garland to Prosecute Trump (Turley)

President Joe Biden has declared the guilt of individuals or promised punishment before even the commencement of investigations. The latest such example is the leaking of Biden’s desire to have Attorney General Merrick Garland prosecute Trump. [..] Biden is now being widely reported as wanting Garland to prosecute Trump. His close associates made sure that the media reported that the President wants “Mr. Garland to act less like a ponderous judge and more like a prosecutor who is willing to take decisive action over the events of Jan. 6.” This leak was made after a district court judge declared that Trump likely committed a crime, an opinion that I recently criticized over its sweeping language and spotty analysis. Various Democrats are demanding that Garland prosecute Trump, telling Garland to “step up or step out.”

Two years ago, the media heralded the statements of D.C. Attorney General Racine that he was pursuing possible charges. Yet, neither Racine nor the Biden Administration have charged Trump. Why? The reason is that there is not clear evidence of a crime. The leaking of the President’s demand puts Garland in an even more difficult position. The clear intent of the leak is to let Garland know what the President expects from him. Yet, Garland has already been criticized by some of us for refusing to appoint a special counsel in the Hunter Biden scandal. What is most striking, however, is the absence of any concern from the same legal experts who denounced such statements from Trump. These are statements made to aides that were then leaked to the media to get to Garland.

That allows the media to say that Biden never said it directly to Garland, but the message was delivered by the media. For Garland to yield to such pressure would constitute a troubling departure from his predecessor, Bill Barr, who refused to do so on investigations ranging from the Mueller investigation to the election investigation to the Hunter Biden investigation. Absent new evidence of direct culpability, such a prosecution would likely result in either acquittal or an appellate reversal. That would raise concerns over the Justice Department pursuing a political rather than a legal agenda — the very danger that Garland pledged to avoid when he stressed “I am not the president’s lawyer. I am the United States’ lawyer.”

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Coco Chanel. Another history lesson.

From Maria’s Office … the Fashion Nazi (Zakharova)

A few bloggers have reported today that official Chanel brand stores abroad are refusing to sell their products to Russian nationals. Allegedly, Chanel customers must sign a form saying that they will not take the items sold by the brand to the Russian Federation, as per some internal document of the boutique chain. We are a very patient and forgiving country. We have forgiven everyone for everything, turned the page and cleared the way for the future. But if the way turns out to be a ring road, we will break the vicious circle. Seems like those running the legacy of the “great Coco” have found a way to join the Russophobic “cancel Russia” campaign. Weird, right? What’s the link between Russia’s anti-Nazi operation and the French fashion house? But the link is there. We just opened a closet to find some well-preserved 80-year-old skeletons.

During World War II, Coco Chanel herself was a collaborator and a Third Reich agent. She is widely known to have had connections to the occupation authorities in France. Baron Hans Guenther Freiherr von Dincklage, an attaché of the German government in charge of the Nazi propaganda in Paris, was among her dearest friends. Coco Chanel, also known as informer F-7124 as per Abwehr records, supported the German masters of Paris so much that she took part in the attempts to organise secret negotiations between the Reich and the United Kingdom. One should say that the Germans valued Coco and had her live in a luxurious apartment at the Ritz hotel, while ordinary Parisians struggled to make ends meet under the German occupation, while the country’s economy was under enormous strain.

Moreover, the fashion designer accepted the help of the Nazis to reach her business goals. Before the war, she sold her Chanel No. 5 production facility to Jewish manufacturers. Then, she engaged the Germans to try and reclaim the rights to the perfume sale profits. After France was liberated, she was called to answer for all of that. The fashion house does not advertise it but Coco was arrested at the end of the war. She was later released as a favour to Churchill (and here is London again) and was banned from France after the occupation was over, for years, residing in the “neutral” Switzerland. The brand’s management has always emphasised that the Chanel house traditions are as strong as ever. Well, no doubt about that now. Investigative reporter Hal Vaughan wrote about the founder of the fashion house: “The Nazis were in power, and Chanel gravitated to power.”

The brand was never bothered by such things as concentration camps, mass killings and war crimes perpetrated by the SS and Gestapo divisions. We are a very patient and forgiving country. We have forgiven everyone for everything, turned the page and cleared the way for the future. But if the way turns out to be a ring road, we will break the vicious circle. And the Chanel house can get back to square one and support Nazism, just like its founder did. But now everyone will know.

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Buddy Carter

 

 

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Nov 222021
 
 November 22, 2021  Posted by at 9:46 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  75 Responses »


Marcel Duchamp Nude descending a staircase 1912

 

UK Data Shows The Vaccines Are Not Saving Any Lives At All. Zero. (Kirsch)
Now Germany Is Set Make Covid Vaccinations Compulsory (DM)
Dutch Deaths More Than 20% Higher Than Previous Years’ Average (FWM)
Scientists Mystified, Wary, As Africa Avoids Covid Disaster (AP)
Pfizer Co-developer Says Covid Vaccination Will Be Annual (RT)
Fauci Gives A ‘Perfectly Honest’ Response To Booster Question (RT)
Fauci Comes Up With New ‘Rule’ To Wear Masks (RT)
It’ll Be ‘Jab Or Death’ For Anti-vaxxers, Orban Predicts (RT)
Fighting For Our Lives: Humanity’s Weapons Against Covid-19 (RT)
Fresh Protests, Violence Against Covid Restrictions (RFI)
Like Covid-19, Digital Passports Could Be With Us Forever (Ford)
Russia Set To Launch Winter Invasion Of Ukraine: US Media (RT)

 

 

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“We are mandating a vaccine which basically kills ~ 800 people per M fully vaccinated..”

UK Data Shows The Vaccines Are Not Saving Any Lives At All. Zero. (Kirsch)

My good friend Mathew Crawford is an amazing statistician. He’s one of the smartest people I know. He just published a new analysis on his substack showing that the UK data show that the COVID vaccines aren’t saving any lives at all. It’s all statistical noise as shown in the graph below from his article. Please check it out and if you like his work, please honor him by subscribing to his substack. Mathew’s work really shouldn’t come as a surprise. It certainly wasn’t a surprise to me. Norman Fenton pointed out two months ago that the UK data shows that vaccinated people are dying at a greater rate than the unvaccinated (even after adjusting for age).

More recently, Fenton showed that with a simple time skew of deaths, we can make the vaccines look extremely effective even if they do absolutely nothing (paper and video). Fenton’s conclusion: we currently have no real evidence that the vaccines work. So now we have two statisticians that I have very high respect for claiming the vaccines are, at best, not saving any lives. And for some odd reason, nobody wants to challenge them in a live video debate. I can’t figure that one out.


We are mandating a vaccine which basically kills ~ 800 people per M fully vaccinated. When you couple that with my 8 ways of estimating the number of deaths from the COVID vaccines in America gives a minimum of 150,000 deaths, our government is basically trying to mandate a vaccine that is a killing machine. Nobody wants to debate this with us. I recently offered $1M for any of the members of the CDC or FDA outside committee members to debate us. Apparently, their time is worth more than a million dollars an hour because none of them accepted my more than generous offer. Is there anyone in a decision making capacity on the vaccines/mandates who wants to talk about the science and the statistics? Or are they all chicken?

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Don’t do it. You will not be able to contain the mayhem.

Respect your ancestors. These things were not born in a vacuum:
1) Nuremberg Code
2) UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (art.6).
3) UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (art. 7).
4) UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 3).

Now Germany Is Set Make Covid Vaccinations Compulsory (DM)

The protest came just hours after it emerged Germany is set to follow Austria’s example in making vaccinations compulsory with ministers admitting that the move is ‘unavoidable’ amid a fourth wave of the pandemic which is crippling the country’s hospitals. Last night also saw similar demonstrations against virus restrictions take place in Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, Italy, Northern Ireland, Austria and North Macedonia on Saturday, a day after Dutch police opened fire on protesters and seven people were injured in rioting that erupted in Rotterdam. Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic once again, with the World Health Organisation warning that the Continent was the only region in the world where deaths had increased as Covid-related fatalities spiked by five per cent just this week.


In France, the government has warned that the fifth wave of coronavirus are rising at ‘lightning speed’, with new daily Covid cases close to doubling over the past week. In Belgium, cases have been surging, with infections reaching 13,836 on Sunday. In response, the government has introduced restrictions including a ban on the unvaccinated from venues such as restaurants and bars, and an order to work from home at least four days a week. Police said 35,000 protesters marched from the North Station in Brussels on Sunday afternoon against a fresh round of Covid measures announced by the government on Wednesday.

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A world filled with mysteries.

“Other “experts” sadly had no explanation for vaccine failure either.”

Dutch Deaths More Than 20% Higher Than Previous Years’ Average (FWM)

According to the statistical office, the higher mortality can be seen in all age groups. Statistics Netherlands does not yet have an explanation for the higher mortality. More deaths of Corona patients were registered at RIVM last week. According to the CBS, the excess mortality has clearly increased in recent weeks. But since the beginning of August, the mortality has already been above the usual numbers during this period. It is estimated that 2 100 people aged 80 and older died last week. That is almost 500 more than expected. Mortality in this age group has been remarkably high for four weeks. This also applies to people aged 65 to 80. In this age group, 1 200 people died last week, nearly 300 more than expected. Among people under the age of 65, the death rate last week was an estimated 450, more than 50 more than expected.

In the Netherlands, 85 percent of people over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated, and many had their jabs only recently. Vaccine salespeople maintain that the shots offer protection in the first few months before the “protection” starts to wane. They blame the unvaccinated for the rise in deaths. This is obviously false. The number of people getting infected has never been worse, despite the high vaccination rate. The jabs are evidently not doing what had been promised. In total, 23 680 cases were reported on Thursday, the fourth day in a row of record-setting case numbers following a week that broke the record for the highest number of new infections (110 000) since the pandemic began – a 44 percent rise over the week before, and this week’s figures have not yet been added.

Dutch officials have started injecting those 80 with boosters on Thursday, weeks earlier than planned. Anke Huckriede, professor of vaccinology at the University of Groningen, said the intramuscular jabs do not offer protection in the upper respiratory tract, where the virus enters our bodies. With only some 15 percent of the adult population unvaccinated, the Dutch have a higher vaccine uptake than the majority of the world. But Bas van den Putte, professor of health communication at the University of Amsterdam and a member of the scientific advisory board of the RIVM’s Corona Behavioural Unit admitted that he could not explain the dramatic rise in deaths.

Other “experts” sadly had no explanation for vaccine failure either. Frits Rosendaal, professor of clinical epidemiology at the Leiden University Medical Center, blamed geography and population density while Huckriede said she had no idea why this was happening. “We just don’t know.” Based on weekly data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the UK, vaccinated people under 60 are twice as likely to die as unvaccinated people. And overall deaths in Britain are far above normal. As in Germany, Swedes also appear to die at rates 20 percent or more above normal for weeks after receiving their second Covid jab, according to data from a Swedish study.

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Not one word on IVM. Use is widespread. Mystery sounds better?!

Scientists Mystified, Wary, As Africa Avoids Covid Disaster (AP)

“COVID-19 is gone, when did you last hear of anyone who has died of COVID-19?” Ndou said. “The mask is to protect my pocket,” he said. “The police demand bribes so I lose money if I don’t move around with a mask.” Earlier this week, Zimbabwe recorded just 33 new COVID-19 cases and zero deaths, in line with a recent fall in the disease across the continent, where World Health Organization data show that infections have been dropping since July. When the coronavirus first emerged last year, health officials feared the pandemic would sweep across Africa, killing millions. Although it’s still unclear what COVID-19’s ultimate toll will be, that catastrophic scenario has yet to materialize in Zimbabwe or much of the continent.

Scientists emphasize that obtaining accurate COVID-19 data, particularly in African countries with patchy surveillance, is extremely difficult, and warn that declining coronavirus trends could easily be reversed. But there is something “mysterious” going on in Africa that is puzzling scientists, said Wafaa El-Sadr, chair of global health at Columbia University. “Africa doesn’t have the vaccines and the resources to fight COVID-19 that they have in Europe and the U.S., but somehow they seem to be doing better,” she said. Fewer than 6% of people in Africa are vaccinated. For months, the WHO has described Africa as “one of the least affected regions in the world” in its weekly pandemic reports.

Some researchers say the continent’s younger population — the average age is 20 versus about 43 in Western Europe — in addition to their lower rates of urbanization and tendency to spend time outdoors, may have spared it the more lethal effects of the virus so far. Several studies are probing whether there might be other explanations, including genetic reasons or exposure to other diseases. Christian Happi, director of the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases at Redeemer’s University in Nigeria, said authorities are used to curbing outbreaks even without vaccines and credited the extensive networks of community health workers. “It’s not always about how much money you have or how sophisticated your hospitals are,” he said.

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Jeffrey A Tucker @jeffreyatucker:
“They changed the definition of case. They changed the definition of infection. They changed the definition of herd immunity. They changed the definition of vaccine. And they wonder why so many people are suspicious that something odd is going on..”

A subtle shift towards normalization here: “Subsequent … vaccinations may only be needed every year – just like [with] influenza,” he said.

Pfizer Co-developer Says Covid Vaccination Will Be Annual (RT)

People around the world will need to get a jab against Covid-19 once a year, at least when it comes to the Pfizer vaccine, BioNTech’s CEO Ugur Sahin said in an interview on Sunday, as he praised the quality of its booster shot In an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper on Sunday, Sahin said he considers the vaccine, co-developed by his company, to be “very effective.” When asked whether people should be worried about the “breakthrough infections” – in which those vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine still developed Covid-19 symptoms – he dismissed such concerns, saying that the jab offers a “90 percent protection” against cases that require intensive care in those aged over 60.

A “very high” level of protection against severe illness lasts for up to nine months, the BioNTech CEO maintained. He said this level starts decreasing “from the fourth month,” however. To maintain the protection, Sahin strongly pushed for booster shots, arguing that they would not just restore levels of antibodies but would potentially help “to break … chains of infection.” He also encouraged doctors to be “as pragmatic as possible” when it comes to greenlighting vaccination and “not to send people home unvaccinated even though they could be vaccinated without any problems.” In the future, people might need to get booster shots once a year, the BioNTech CEO believes. He said that he expects protection from a booster shot to “last longer” than the initial immunity one acquires after getting two doses of the vaccine.

“Subsequent … vaccinations may only be needed every year – just like [with] influenza,” he said. Currently, the German Federal Center for Health Education – an agency subordinated to the Health Ministry – recommends a booster shot six months after one gets the second dose of a vaccine. It also says that “booster vaccination makes sense after a minimum interval of about four months.” Sahin’s interview comes days after it was revealed that Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are making a combined profit of $65,000 every minute – all thanks to their Covid-19 jabs. That is according to estimates made by the People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA) – a coalition demanding wider access to vaccines. The PVA estimated that the three companies are to earn a total of $34 billion in combined pre-tax profits this year alone, which roughly translates into more than $1,000 a second and $93.5 million a day.

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“We don’t know right now, we have to be perfectly transparent and honest.”

Fauci Gives A ‘Perfectly Honest’ Response To Booster Question (RT)

White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the “guidelines” for what makes someone ‘fully vaccinated’ against Covid-19 could soon be changing, depending on the “science.” Appearing on CNN on Sunday, Fauci was asked if booster shots would soon be required for someone to be considered fully inoculated, something required for many to work and enter certain businesses. While not giving a direct yes or no answer, the infectious disease expert said the current administration is open to it. “We’re going to be following that very carefully,” Fauci said, adding that the Joe Biden administration “might modify the guidelines” for what constitutes being fully vaccinated, based on the lasting effects of boosters. We don’t know right now, we have to be perfectly transparent and honest.”

Americans “should not be put off by the fact that as time goes by and we learn more and more about the protection,” the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ might change, Fauci stressed. Those given two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson are currently considered fully vaccinated, but according to Fauci, Pfizer and Moderna recipients should already be getting boosters after six months and Johnson & Johnson recipients after two months. In a separate interview with ABC, Fauci said if boosters need to provide “durability,” or more boosters will be required in the future.

“We’ll continue to follow the data because right now when we’re boosting people, what we’re doing is following them,” he said. “We’re going to see what the durability of that protection is.” If the durability is not up to par, Fauci explained, people could need to get shots every six months to a year. “We would hope, and this is something that we’re looking at very carefully, that that third shot with the mRNA not only boosts you way up, but increases the durability so that you will not necessarily need it every six months or a year,” he said.

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‘I just decided that if anyone came up that I didn’t know, I would put my mask on,..”

“Sally Quinn, an author who used Fauci as the inspiration for a character in an erotic work of fiction ..”

Fauci Comes Up With New ‘Rule’ To Wear Masks (RT)

White House health adviser Anthony Fauci was seen at an elite book party regularly taking his mask on and off, confusing many attendees. An author says Fauci explained to her why he chose to wear it around some and not others. Appearing at a book launch party for journalist Jonathan Karl this week at Cafe Milano in Washington DC, Fauci gained the attention of onlookers, according to Politico, by repeatedly putting on and taking off his mask as he talked to numerous people. This also happened as “gawkers” attempted to get a picture of the unmasked infectious disease expert. Sally Quinn, an author who used Fauci as the inspiration for a character in an erotic work of fiction, eventually approached the doctor and asked about his “ambivalence” towards mask-wearing at the event.


“He said, ‘I just decided that if anyone came up that I didn’t know, I would put my mask on,” the author recalled from her conversation with Fauci. The head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases was apparently on his own with his mask-wearing tactics, as Quinn reported all others at the event were not masked. Quinn described the “paparazzi” as trying to catch Fauci in a “gotcha” moment, but also suggested that the doctor “was being safe.” All those who attended the party had to show proof of vaccinations beforehand. Washington, DC recently dropped its strict mask mandate, though this does not go into effect until Monday, November 22. Masks will no longer be required in numerous indoor spaces, though they are still required in schools, libraries, public transportation, etc. Private businesses have the option to require or not require masks, under the new guidance.

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Firmly in the Fauci camp. Good luck with that.

It’ll Be ‘Jab Or Death’ For Anti-vaxxers, Orban Predicts (RT)

Vaccination of all Hungarian citizens against Covid-19 is inevitable, PM Viktor Orban has said, stating that even the most hardline anti-vaxxers will ultimately face a choice between dying with the virus and getting a jab. Speaking to Kossuth radio on Friday, the Hungarian leader lashed out at those reluctant to get vaccinated against coronavirus, branding them a threat “not only to themselves but to all others.” In the end, everyone will have to be vaccinated; even the anti-vaxxers will realize that they will either get vaccinated or die. So, I urge everyone to take this opportunity. The EU member state is currently experiencing its fourth wave of coronavirus, Orban stated, blaming the situation on those who had not got vaccinated. “If everybody were inoculated, there would be no fourth wave or it would be just a small one,” the PM claimed.


Apart from urging the unvaccinated to go and finally get their jabs, Orban also promoted booster shots, revealing that he had already taken three doses of a coronavirus vaccine. “The only thing that protects us from the virus is vaccination. And we are now also seeing, at least the experts are unanimous in saying, that four to six months after the second vaccination, the protective power of the vaccine weakens. Therefore, a third vaccination is justified,” he said. Hungary has already announced new anti-Covid measures, though somewhat short of the strict measures proposed by the nation’s Medical Chamber on Wednesday. The medical body called for a blanket ban on mass events, and suggested making entry to restaurants, theaters and other indoor venues conditional on bearing a Covid-19 inoculation certificate. Instead, Budapest rolled out compulsory mask wearing for most indoor environments, as well as making booster shots mandatory for all medical workers, starting from Saturday.

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Even RT only talks about new, and yet-to-be invented, drugs. But that’s not what will solve this.

Fighting For Our Lives: Humanity’s Weapons Against Covid-19 (RT)

Vaccines are not a silver bullet, unfortunately, given the not-so-high level of global immunization and the constantly emerging new strains of the virus. “People might get infected despite having had a vaccine, but I still think the vaccine strategy is going to be central to how we manage this kind of virus going forward,” Prof. Dockrell says. “But we will have other strategies that will be very important. We will have other elements. When we put them all together, it gives us the best opportunity that people can live with coronaviruses, and hopefully, the mortality can be limited to much lower extense than what we’ve sadly seen in the last eighteen months.” Monoclonal antibodies will be central to the ongoing vaccine strategy, Prof. Dockrell explains. These are the antibodies similar to those the body uses to fight the virus.

They are produced in labs and given via infusion or injection to boost the patient’s response against certain diseases. Monoclonal antibody treatment is used for people under a high risk of developing severe infection (including older patients 65+ years old or those with chronic medical conditions). It’s already being used in the US, following last year’s FDA approval. Earlier in November, the European Medicines agency recommended authorizing two monoclonal antibody medicines. In October, UK’s AstraZeneca reported positive results of a Phase 3 study of its antibody combination, which, according to developers, is highly effective in both prevention and treatment of coronavirus. Researchers are also working on a possibility to save Covid-infected patients from the so-called ‘cytokine storm’ – a situation when the immune system reacts so intensely that kills not only the virus, but the whole organism itself. A drug to ‘calm the storm’ was registered in Russia this year, and it’s already being used on patients.

Another way to fight Covid-19 is to use antiviral drugs. When the pandemic started, medics had to use something already existing (like anti-influenza Favipiravir) or something being authorized for emergency use (like remdesivir). Now, more than a year on, the work to create a special drug to specifically cure Covid-19 is giving its results. This month, Russia registered its first injectable anti-Covid medicine. A bit earlier, the UK became the first country to approve an antiviral pill produced by the US-based companies Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Another American firm, Pfizer, got positive results from trials of its drug of the same kind. Both firms hope that with a drug in the form of a pill it would be easier to treat people at home. Appreciating all the efforts on the field of developing anti-Covid treatment, Prof. de Noli points out that still, the key issue now is to reduce the spreading of the virus. “The new medicines are developed for people who already got the disease,” he says.

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This will not go away.

Fresh Protests, Violence Against Covid Restrictions (RFI)

A fresh wave of protests broke out in several European cities and in some French overseas territories Sunday, as protesters reacted, sometimes violently, to moves to reintroduce coronavirus restrictions. Police and protesters clashed in the Belgian capital Brussels, in several Dutch cities and overnight into early Sunday in the French Caribbean territory Guadaloupe. There were fresh demonstrations in Austria, where the government is imposing a new lockdown and Covid-19 vaccine mandate. In Brussels, violence broke out at a protest against anti-Covid measures which police said was attended by 35,000 people. The march, in the city’s European Union and government district, largely focused on a ban on the unvaccinated from venues such as restaurants and bars.

It began peacefully but police later fired water cannon and tear gas in response to protesters throwing projectiles, an AFP photographer witnessed. Police told Belga news agency that three officers were injured. Several of the demonstrators caught up in the clash wore hoods and carried Flemish nationalist flags, while others wore Nazi-era yellow stars. Protesters set fire to wood pallets, and social media images showed them attacking police vans with street signs. Protests also erupted in several Dutch cities Sunday, the third night of unrest over the government’s coronavirus restrictions. Demonstrators set off fireworks and vandalised property in the northern cities of Groningen and Leeuwarden, as well as in Enschede to the east and Tilburg to the south, said police. “Riot police are present in the centre to restore order,” a Groningen police spokeswoman told AFP.

Authorities issued an emergency order in Enschede, near the German border, ordering people to stay off the streets, police said on Twitter. A football match in the nearby city of Leeuwarden was briefly disrupted after supporters, who are barred from games because of the Covid restrictions, threw fireworks into the ground, Dutch media reported. On Friday night, there was unrest in Rotterdam and last night in The Hague. So far, more than 100 people have been arrested around the country and at least 12 people have been injured during the demonstrations. From Monday, 8.9 million Austrians will not be allowed to leave home except to go to work, shop for essentials and exercise. And vaccination against Covid-19 in the Alpine nation will be mandatory from February 1 next year.

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“There is no “finishing the fight” against an endemic virus.”

Like Covid-19, Digital Passports Could Be With Us Forever (Ford)

When a government radically alters the way we live and relate to one another, it should be able to explain, at a minimum, why it is doing so. And when their plans involve extraordinary new powers to surveil, coerce, and control the population, we might also hope for an account of how and when those powers will be rescinded, and what limiting principle will constrain their use. Proponents of digital health passports have failed to clear even the most basic of these hurdles. Instead, they have offered conflicting, unrealistic, and sometimes incoherent explanations of what the new digital passport regime is meant to achieve. Are vaccine passports supposed to let us “finish the fight” against SARS-CoV-2, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised? Of course not. There is no “finishing the fight” against an endemic virus.

Will the passports end transmission of the disease? No. The vaccines are not designed to stop transmission, and the virus can be spread by vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike. Is the point to ensure that hospitals and ICUs are not overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients? That is a legitimate goal, but it’s undermined when vaccine mandates result in the firing or suspensions of thousands of front-line healthcare workers, many of whom already have natural immunity. Maybe the passports are just a psychosomatic measure, meant to help vaccinated people feel safer and less anxious as they go about their lives. Or are they a blunt instrument to drive up vaccination rates in hopes of achieving herd immunity? If so, how high does the rate need to be? 80 percent? 90 percent? 100 percent?

What will we do when the vaccine’s efficacy fades, or if new variants emerge with mutated spike proteins that escape vaccine-induced immunity? No one seems to know. Lacking clear or realistic objectives, there is no way to evaluate the success of these new public health measures. And if success or failure cannot be measured, neither can they be declared. This should worry us, because the elected leaders currently enacting vaccine passports have not committed to any limits—either practical or temporal—on these new powers. We should not be overturning our most taken-for-granted social norms without first considering the risks and probable long-term consequences. Because once we go down this road, we may ruefully discover that there is no off-ramp.

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Why does Russia even react to this stuff anymore?

Russia Set To Launch Winter Invasion Of Ukraine: US Media (RT)

Russia is growing more inclined to invade Ukraine now that colder days are approaching, a weekend American media report has claimed. Western officials have accused Russia of staging a military buildup along Kiev’s eastern borders. The likelihood of a potential Russian assault on Ukraine is “increasing as the weather gets colder,” CBS News reported on Saturday, citing the customary unnamed US intelligence “sources.” Quite why Moscow would choose the coldest months of the year, with the shortest days, is left unclear. “An incursion is weather-dependent, but could happen in a matter of weeks, barring intervention from the West,” it continued.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday urged Moscow to “be more transparent on the buildup of the forces around on the border of Ukraine.” Austin added that he was “not sure exactly” about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan of action. Ukraine initially refused to back the reports in US media about the buildup of Russian troops, but later changed its tune. Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s chief military intelligence officer, told the Military Times on Sunday that Russia is preparing to attack Ukraine by the end of January or the beginning of February. The Ukrainian military produced a map showing how Russia in a “short-term perspective” could invade Ukraine from all directions, including an incursion from the territory of Belarus.

Russia has denied amassing troops along the Ukrainian border. When reports of possible preparation for an invasion began appearing in US media this month, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova dismissed them as “fake” news that she said was part of a larger disinformation campaign waged against Russia. In an interview broadcast on Rossiya-1 TV channel on Sunday, Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the Kremlin, said the West was “artificially stoking hysteria.”

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Mar 312020
 


Vincent van Gogh The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884 (stolen yesterday)

 

Fauci Offers More Conservative Death Rate In Academic Article Than In Public Briefings (JTN)
Hospital Equipment Shortages Renew Spotlight On Supply Chain Middlemen (JTN)
US COVID19 Job Losses Could Be 47 Million, Unemployment May Hit 32% (CNBC)
Trump Rips Pelosi For Criticizing His Handling Of Coronavirus Pandemic (NYP)
Pelosi Aims To Move Fast On Next Rescue Package (Pol.)
Rachel Maddow’s Recent Predictions Get Roasted (JTN)
Political Distancing (Turley)
Many Brick & Mortar Stores Will Not Reopen, CMBS will Default (WS)
How Will COVID-19 Impact US Manufacturing? First Indications Are Ugly (WS)
“We Are Temporarily A Company With No Product And No Revenue” (WS)
Airbnb To Pay Out $250 Million To Hosts To Help Ease Cancellation Pain (R.)
China Says Manufacturing Activity Expanded In March (CNBC)
Hungary’s Viktor Orbán Wins Vote To Rule By Decree Indefinitely (Pol.)
Portugal Gives Migrants, Asylum-Seekers Full Citizenship Rights (CNN)
Five Days Of Worship That Set A Virus Time Bomb In France (R.)
People Get Ready! (Kunstler)
Italian Politicians Criticize Netherlands Over Lack Of Solidarity (NLT)

 

 

More countries are demanding people wear face masks, even the CDC in the US talks about making it obligatory, but masks are no more available in many places than tests are. We’re three months into this thing -though I know for most people it’s been just 2 weeks-, and we’re still debating this.

In the US, half the people have it easy, they can just blame everything on Trump, it’s a entire industry, even though his approval numbers rise at the same time. But in all those other countries, who do you blame when you have face the coordinated efforts to praise your government of the day? Life isn’t easy. Maybe you can blame Trump too.

Meanwhile, we’re sadly waiting for US cases and death numbers to explode. 15,000 new cases and close to 1,000 new deaths is devastating, but nowhere near what we expect the trend to become.

 

 

Cases 799,723 (+ 64,792 from yesterday’s 734,931)

Deaths 38,720 (+ 3,940 from yesterday’s 34,780)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-. Note: Turkey’s in the ascendancy (though not in the zodiac)

 

 

From Worldometer -NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 19% –

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Live.info:

 

 

 

 

Sharyl Attkisson noticed something too. Fauci must be more careful.

Fauci Offers More Conservative Death Rate In Academic Article Than In Public Briefings (JTN)

You’ve probably heard that COVID-19 is far deadlier than the flu. But it could turn out to be more akin to a severe flu season. Surprisingly, both of those assessments come from the same authority at the same time: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s chief infectious disease specialist. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has repeatedly cited more jarring figures in public. For instance, Fauci declared in March 11 congressional testimony that the current coronavirus “is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu,” which would be about 1 percent. His testimony generated news headlines that blared across the internet and television news, and it remains frequently cited today. But among his learned colleagues in academia, he has provided the more conservative analysis.


“[T]he case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%,” Fauci wrote in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 26. “This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.” A day after the NEJM article was published, Fauci was back to repeating the higher fatality number in public rather than “considerably less than 1%.” “The mortality of [COVID-19] is about 10 times [flu],” Fauci told Comedy Central host Trevor Noah on March 27.

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A lot of things won’t happen without kickbacks. The system is one sick puppy.. and no reform in sight, since both parties are beholden to the industry as a whole.

Hospital Equipment Shortages Renew Spotlight On Supply Chain Middlemen (JTN)

Healthcare providers facing medical equipment shortages and exorbitantly high drug prices during the coronavirus outbreak are captive to kickback-receiving “middlemen” who lock up hospitals in exclusive contracts that enable price gouging and supply bottlenecks, according to a network of physician advocacy groups representing 3,000 physicians. Nearly 90% of U.S. mayors who responded to a national survey released Friday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors said they lack enough protective equipment for their coronavirus medical workers, and 85% said they do not have enough ventilators for their hospitals.


Dr. Marion Mass, a Duke-educated physician who founded Practicing Physicians of America (PPA), told Just the News that so-called “safe harbor” (legal protection) provisions allowing for payments from medical equipment and drug manufacturers to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and group purchasing organizations (GPO) — what Dr. Mass calls the “middlemen” between providers and manufacturers — amount to “kickbacks.” The “safe harbor” payments are overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), monitored by the HHS Inspector General (IG), and are currently protected by law, but Dr. Mass and her physician network argue they should be repealed.

“After significant consolidation, four behemoth GPOs now control 90% of the entire chain of hospital and nursing home supplies, and we are in the grip of an unspeakably corrupt, pay-to-play system of financial kickbacks,” Mass wrote in a white paper co-authored by the Physicians for Reform and Texas Public Policy Foundation. “If the law that established the ‘safe harbor’ for kickbacks to the GPOs (and extended to PBMs in 2003) was repealed, the cost for medical supplies and medications would fall by an estimated 25% to 30%. The cost of prescription medications would fall by 35% to 43%. Additional declines in prices are projected as true competition replaces a rigged marketplace. We estimate this reform would save Medicare and Medicaid an estimated $75 billion each year.”

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DiMartino Booth tweet: “(Bloomberg) 3 days after President Trump signed $2T stimulus, Kohl’s, Macy’s & Gap joined growing number of retailers to halt pay for much of their workforce while preserving some benefits. With these furloughs, total number of employees out a paycheck at major US chains >500,000”

US COVID19 Job Losses Could Be 47 Million, Unemployment May Hit 32% (CNBC)

Millions of Americans already have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis and the worst of the damage is yet to come, according to a Federal Reserve estimate. Economists at the Fed’s St. Louis district project total employment reductions of 47 million, which would translate to a 32.1% unemployment rate, according to a recent analysis of how bad things could get. The projections are even worse than St. Louis Fed President James Bullard’s much-publicized estimate of 30%. They reflect the high nature of at-risk jobs that ultimately could be lost to a government-induced economic freeze aimed at halting the coronavirus spread. “These are very large numbers by historical standards, but this is a rather unique shock that is unlike any other experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 100 years,” St. Louis Fed economist Miguel Faria-e-Castro wrote in a research paper posted last week.


There are a couple of important caveats to what Faria-e-Castro calls “back-of-the-envelope” calculations: They don’t account for workers who may drop out of the labor force, thus bringing down the headline unemployment rate, and they do not estimate the impact of recently passed government stimulus, which will extend unemployment benefits and subsidize companies for not cutting staff. However, the jobless picture already looks bleak. A record 3.3 million Americans filed initial jobless claims for the week ended March 21. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect another 2.65 million to join them this week. Friday’s nonfarm payrolls count for March is expected to show a decline of just 56,000, but that’s largely due to a statistical distortion [..]

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Pelosi falls innto the Chuck Todd “blood on his hands” trap. It’s a cheap political game that should not now be played. Sure, Trump was way off. But so were his advisers (Fauci), all other western and other leaders, and Pelosi herself, who was busy fiddling with impeachment when she could have been focusing on what she now says Trump should have been doing.

Trump Rips Pelosi For Criticizing His Handling Of Coronavirus Pandemic (NYP)

President Trump unleashed on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an early morning phone interview on “Fox & Friends,” slamming her comments about his “deadly” handling of coronavirus. Speaking to the Fox News hosts Monday morning, the commander-in-chief described the California Democrat as “a sick puppy,” who has “a lot of problems,” when asked about Pelosi’s criticism of his response to the virus. Trump added that her remarks were “a horrible thing to say.” “When I stopped some very, very infected, very, very sick people — thousands coming in from China — earlier than anyone thought [was necessary], including the experts.

Nobody thought we should do it, except me,” Trump said, adding that he was praised by government infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci for his decision to close the borders. “If I didn’t do that, you would’ve had deaths like you have never seen before,” he continued before knocking Pelosi for not crediting him for the move. Trump went on to call San Francisco, a city that is part of Pelosi’s district, a “slum,” adding that the federal government may need to address the city’s problems. Speaking about Pelosi’s impeachment crusade against the president — which passed the House but failed in the Senate — Trump said, “Don’t forget, she was playing the impeachment game where she ended up looking like a fool.”

On Sunday, Pelosi slammed Trump’s response to the pandemic, telling CNN, “We should be taking every precaution. What the president, his denial at the beginning was deadly.” “As the president fiddles, people are dying. And we just have to take every precaution,” she continued. CNN host Jake Tapper pressed the speaker on whether she believed Trump’s downplaying of the crisis had cost American lives, to which Pelosi responded, “Yes, I am. I’m saying that.”

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More games. Scheduled to take at least another month. Posing and posturing.

Pelosi Aims To Move Fast On Next Rescue Package (Pol.)

House Democrats are moving rapidly on ambitious plans for a fourth coronavirus relief package, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi eager to put her imprint on legislation that she says could be ready for a vote in the coming weeks. Pelosi told reporters Monday that Democrats are in the early stages of drafting another major bill that will not only shore up health systems and protect frontline health care workers but could include substantial investments in infrastructure. “Our first bills were about addressing the emergency. The third bill was about mitigation. The fourth bill would be about recovery. Emergency, mitigation, recovery,” Pelosi said on a conference call. “I think our country is united in not only wanting to address our immediate needs — emergency, mitigation, and the assault on our lives and livelihoods — but also, how we recover in a very positive way.”


But Democrats’ approach could put them on a collision course with senior Republicans, who say they are very much in wait-and-see mode when it comes to another potential multi-trillion-dollar bill and are warning Pelosi not to try to jam the Senate with a progressive plan. “They’re approaching it — it seems like — as an opportunity to pass their political and ideological agenda. We’re approaching it as, ‘How do we protect the public health and our economy?’ And those are pretty divergent goals,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) [..]

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RussiaRussiaRussia is speeding up those hospital boats just to make here look bad. Actually, I don’t want to talk about Maddow.

Rachel Maddow’s Recent Predictions Get Roasted (JTN)

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on March 20 cast doubt on the notion that two Navy hospital ships would soon reach ports on the East and West coasts to relieve hospitals combatting the coronavirus pandemic as President Trump had promised. The ships have since arrived at their respective destination ports in California and New York where they will serve non-COVID-19 patients in an effort to decrease pressure on the hospitals ashore. “In terms of the happy talk we’ve had on this front from the federal government, there is no sign that the Navy hospital ships that the president made such a big deal of, the Comfort and the Mercy, there’s no sign that they’ll be anywhere on site helping out anywhere in the country for weeks yet,” Maddow said on her television show.


“The president said when he announced that those ships would be put into action against the COVID-19 epidemic, he said one of those ships would be operational in New York harbor by next week. That’s nonsense, it will not be there next week,” Maddow asserted. The USNS Comfort arrived in New York harbor on Monday March 30, while the USNS Mercy arrived in the Port of Los Angeles on Friday March 27 and began accepting patients on Sunday March 29. Republicans on Monday highlighted the Maddow clip.

It isn’t the first time the popular liberal host has faced criticism — both on the left and the right — for her prognostication or promotion. Maddow was criticized in March 2017 when she over-hyped a story about Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns, underwhelming many viewers once she finally divulged the information she had been teasing. “In positioning it as a grand revelation, a vital step in comprehending Trump’s corruption, MSNBC created an exceedingly cynical spectacle,” Willa Paskin wrote on Slate.com.

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Lesson in federalism. There are lots of things the federal government can’t do that are normal in other countries.

Political Distancing (Turley)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called on the federal government to take control of the medical supply market. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker demanded that President Trump take charge and said “precious months” were wasted waiting for federal action. Some critics are even more direct in demanding a federal takeover, including a national quarantine. It is the legal version of panic shopping. Many seem to long for federal takeovers, if not martial law. Yet like all panic shopping, they are buying into far more than they need while not doing as much as they could with what they have. For decades, governors tried to retain principal authority over public emergencies, but they did very little with those powers.

While many are doing impressive work now, some governors seem as eager to contain the blame as the coronavirus. Call it political distancing. Even if Trump nationalized the crisis by deploying troops, imposing price controls, and forcing production of ventilators, the Constitution has left most police authority and public health safety to the states in our system of federalism. The Framers believed liberties and powers were safest when held closest to citizens in local and state governments. Elected officials at the local and state levels are more readily held accountable than unknown Washington bureaucrats. Of course, with authority comes responsibility, and the latter notion is not always as welcomed as the former.

Despite all the hyperbole of the last few days, the federal authority of the president to act is much more limited than many appear to believe. Trump cannot, and should not, simply take over the crisis. While he may want to “open for business” by Easter, he has no clear authority to lift state orders for citizens to stay at home. His greatest authority is supplying assistance in the production and delivery of necessary resources such as ventilators. While he can put conditions on some assistance, he cannot commandeer the authority of governors in their responses to the pandemic.

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The virus will change the entire country. But people find it hard to comprehend. Wolf Richter doing well. “Nothing Goes to Heck in a Straight Line”

Many Brick & Mortar Stores Will Not Reopen, CMBS will Default (WS)

Macy’s announced today that it would lay off “the majority” of its 123,000 employees after it had closed all its Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury stores on March 18. Even before the lockdowns, its headcount was already down 17% from four years ago, in line with the decline of its brick-and-mortar operations. It said these stores would “remain closed until we have clear line of sight on when it is safe to reopen.” Whenever that may be. But “at least through May,” the furloughed employees who were already enrolled in its health benefits program “will continue to receive coverage with the company covering 100% of the premium.” And it said, “We expect to bring colleagues back on a staggered basis as business resumes.” That is, if business at these brick-and-mortar stores resumes.

Department stores have been on a 20-year downward spiral that has ended for many of them in bankruptcy court where they got dismembered and sold off in pieces. The survivors, which have been shuttering their brick-and-mortar stores for years, are now getting hit by the lockdowns. The chart depicts the brick-and-mortar business that Macy’s, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Neiman Marcus, Sears, Bon-Ton Stores, Barney’s and others are in – or were in. Over the past 20 years, department store revenues declined by 43%. And now they’re getting whacked for good by the lockdowns. That declining line of revenues is going to make a 90-degree downward kink in Q1, Q2 and Q3, to violate the WOLF STREET beer-bug dictum that “Nothing Goes to Heck in a Straight Line”:

As many brick-and-mortar stores have shut down, and as people are fearful about going to those stores that are still open (such as grocery stores), ecommerce sales have exploded. Americans have long been reluctant to buy groceries online. But that has changed overnight. Amazon, Walmart and other online retailers have gone on a hiring binge to deal with the onslaught of online buying, including the stuff people normally bought in grocery stores. Online retail is the huge winner of COVID-19. When the Q1 and Q2 ecommerce revenues emerge, we will see a historic spike in online sales even as brick-and-mortar sales went straight to heck.

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More from Wolf. Depression.

How Will COVID-19 Impact US Manufacturing? First Indications Are Ugly (WS)

Most of the economic data is released weeks and months after the fact. But surveys of manufacturing and service companies foreshadow what will happen with the official data when it finally appears. The Texas manufacturing production index, for which data was collected between March 17 to 25 from 110 Texas-based unnamed manufacturers, plunged from +16.4 in February to -35.3 in March, the largest month-to-month drop in the history of the index going back to 2004, the Dallas Fed reported this morning:

Many manufactures in Texas supply the oil and gas industry, where mayhem had broken out long before the coronavirus lockdowns started impacting the economy. Manufacturer’s perceptions of broader business conditions collapsed from an already low 1.2 reading in February to -70.0, the lowest in survey history. The report observed laconically: “Perceptions of broader business conditions turned quite pessimistic in March”:

The price of crude-oil grade West Texas Intermediate (WTI) has now plunged into the range of $20 per barrel, which is catastrophic for the entire oil and gas sector. This is down from a range of $80 to $110 per barrel from 2010 through mid-2014. In an effort to stay alive a little longer, exploration-and-production companies and oil-field services companies are cutting operations, and as they’re running out of funds, they are slashing orders for equipment and supplies. And this ripples through the Texas economy. The comments made by the executives in the survey ranged from: “We are mostly just concerned.” …to something more apocalyptic: “If we see this downward trend continue, we will run out of cash within four months. New orders and inquiries have stopped instantly. Our work in-house will be finished mid to end of April, with no new orders coming in, all due to this real or imagined shutdown. I believe the country will be in a depression by the fall unless the work environment changes dramatically.”

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Cruise companies lining up for bailouts. Support people instead. The companies go, but the people will remain.

“We Are Temporarily A Company With No Product And No Revenue” (WS)

TUI, the global travel and vacation giant that owns six European airlines, 1,600 travel agencies, over 300 hotels and 14 cruise ships, desperately needs help. And it appears to have got it. On Friday, the company announced that the German government had approved a €1.8 billion loan to help keep the group afloat as COVID-19 brings the global travel sector to a literal standstill. The bridge loan, which still needs to be approved by TUI’s creditors, would be one of the biggest ever issued through German state-owned lender KfW. “We are currently facing unprecedented international travel restrictions. As a result, we are temporarily a company with no product and no revenue. This situation must be bridged,” TUI CEO Fritz Joussen said in a statement. The same could be said for millions of companies around the world. But unlike TUI, many of them don’t have the ear of their national government.


Even as giant travel companies like TUI line up with airlines and cruise owners for multi-billion dollar bailouts, huge question marks loom over the global travel industry’s future. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in its updated assessment of the potential impact of COVID-19 — based on the optimistic assumption that the tourism industry will experience a swift recovery over the next 3-4 months — projects that for the whole year 2020, tourist arrivals will have fallen 20-30% from 2019, and international tourism revenues will have plunged by $300 billion to 450 billion, almost one third of the $1.5 trillion generated in 2019. Taking into account past market trends, this would mean that between five and seven years’ worth of accumulated industry growth will have been wiped out in one fell swoop.

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Why on earth does Airbnb need a $250 million war chest?

Airbnb To Pay Out $250 Million To Hosts To Help Ease Cancellation Pain (R.)

U.S. home rental firm Airbnb said on Monday it was allocating $250 million to help offset losses by hosts around the world whose guests have canceled bookings in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The aid, which will pay hosts 25% of their normal cancellation fees, is being offered globally except for China, the company said in a letter sent to hosts by Chief Executive Brian Chesky. The payments apply to the cancellation of reservations with check-in dates between March 14 and May 31. Because hosts can choose different cancellation policies – some requiring a penalty payment, with others allowing free cancellation up to a certain date before check-in – not all canceled reservations will qualify.


Airbnb had earlier announced that guests would receive a full refund for the cancellation of reservations made on or before March 14 for check-in between March 14 and April 14, which angered many hosts. Airbnb also said that hosts could cancel reservations without a charge. Airbnb said it is funding the program for hosts itself and will begin to issue the payments in April. Airbnb’s revenue in 2019 exceeded $4.8 billion, up 35% on the year, and it has $3 billion in cash, a source told Reuters last week. [..] Airbnb also said it is creating a $10 million relief fund for its Superhosts – so-named for meeting certain requirements including good ratings – who rent out their own home and need help paying their rent or mortgage, and some Experience hosts who charge for sharing an experience like food tours.

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Not much has changed. China still cares little about credibility.

China Says Manufacturing Activity Expanded In March (CNBC)

China on Tuesday said the official Purchasing Manager’s Index for March was 52.0, beating expectations for an economy hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the official PMI to come in at 45 for the month of March. In February, the official PMI hit a record low of 35.7. PMI readings above 50 indicate expansion, while those below that level signal contraction. China’s National Bureau of Statistics said in its announcement of the PMI reading that there was continued improvement in the prevention and control of the outbreak in March, with a significant acceleration in the resumption of production. Sub-indices for production, new orders and employment expanded, the bureau said.


The bureau attributed the expansionary PMI reading to the low base in February, but cautioned that it does not mean that the country’s economic activities have returned to normal levels. Earlier this year, manufacturing activity slowed dramatically in China as the government instituted large-scale lockdowns and quarantines to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease, formally known as COVID-19. Qian Wang, Asia Pacific chief economist at Vanguard Investment Strategy, said March’s manufacturing PMI reading was “totally expected” as activity improved during the month. “In February, the Chinese economy was at a full stop. It doesn’t take much to rise from such a low base,” she told CNBC’s “Street Signs.”

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The EU will have to throw out Hungary.

– State of emergency w/o time limit
– Rule by decree
– Parliament suspended
– No elections
– Spreading fake news + rumors: up to 5 yrs in prison
– Leaving quarantine: up to 8 yrs in prison

Hungary’s Viktor Orbán Wins Vote To Rule By Decree Indefinitely (Pol.)

The Hungarian parliament on Monday voted by a two-thirds majority to allow the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree without a set time limit. While the new legislation remains in place, no elections can be held and Orbán’s government will be able to suspend the enforcement of certain laws. Plus, individuals who publicize what are viewed as untrue or distorted facts — and which could interfere with the protection of the public, or could alarm or agitate a large number of people — now face several years in jail. In the vote, 137 members of parliament were in favor, 53 against and 9 did not cast a ballot. The new rules can only be lifted with another two-thirds vote of the parliament and a presidential signature.

The legislation has elicited deep concern both among civil rights groups in Hungary and international institutions, with officials from the Council of Europe, United Nations and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe publicly expressing fears about the bill. The legislation also drew criticism from members of the European Parliament. Critics say that emergency measures to address the coronavirus crisis should be temporary and time-limited to allow for checks and balances. Hungary is currently facing Article 7 proceedings under the EU Treaty, used when a country is considered at risk of breaching the bloc’s core values.

“Civil society, journalists and international and European organizations will have to step up their efforts even more in this new situation to ensure that the potential for grave abuses by government overreach are monitored, documented and responded to,” Márta Pardavi, co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights NGO, said following the passage of the bill. “It’s now essential that the idea that executive power cannot be unlimited is reinforced by action,” she said. “The health crisis cannot be allowed to turn into a constitutional crisis.”

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To make sure they have access to health care.

The opposite of Orban.

Portugal Gives Migrants, Asylum-Seekers Full Citizenship Rights (CNN)

Portugal has temporarily given all migrants and asylum seekers full citizenship rights, granting them full access to the country’s healthcare as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus escalates in the country. The move will “unequivocally guarantee the rights of all the foreign citizens” with applications pending with Portuguese immigration, meaning they are “in a situation of regular permanence in National Territory,” until June 30, the Portuguese Council of Ministers said on Friday. The Portuguese Council of Ministers explained that the decision was taken to “reduce the risks for public health” of maintaining the current scheduling of appointments at the immigration office, for both the border agents and the migrants and asylum seekers.


Portugal declared a State of Emergency on March 18 that came into effect at midnight that day and was due to last for 15 days. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said during a news conference that “democracy won’t be suspended.” The country was a dictatorship for decades, with democracy being restored in 1974. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called the Covid-19 pandemic “a true war,” which would bring true challenges to the country’s “way of life and economy.” Rebelo de Sousa also praised the behavior of Portuguese citizens, “who have been exemplary in imposing a self-quarantine,” reflecting “a country that has lived through everything.”

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Mass gatherings. Religious, soccer, carnival. That’s where most infections originate in Europe.

Five Days Of Worship That Set A Virus Time Bomb In France (R.)

From the stage of an evangelical superchurch, the leader of the gospel choir kicked off an evening of prayer and preaching: “We’re going to celebrate the Lord! Are you feeling the joy tonight?” “Yes!” shouted the hundreds gathered at the Christian Open Door church on Feb. 18. Some of them had travelled thousands of miles to take part in the week-long gathering in Mulhouse, a city of 100,000 on France’s borders with Germany and Switzerland. For many members of this globe-spanning flock, the annual celebration is the highpoint of the church calendar. This time, someone in the congregation was carrying the coronavirus. The prayer meeting kicked off the biggest cluster of COVID-19 in France – one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries – to date, local government said.

Around 2,500 confirmed cases have been linked to it. Worshippers at the church have unwittingly taken the disease caused by the virus home to the West African state of Burkina Faso, to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, to Guyana in Latin America, to Switzerland, to a French nuclear power plant, and into the workshops of one of Europe’s biggest automakers. Weeks later, Germany partially closed its border with France, suspending a free-movement pact that has been in place for the past 25 years. The church cluster was a key factor, two people familiar with the German decision told Reuters. Church officials told Reuters that 17 members of the congregation have since died of complications linked to the disease.

[..] As the faithful gathered on a clear Tuesday evening in the church, an old shopping centre converted into a 2,500 seat auditorium, the disease seemed remote. France had 12 confirmed cases, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data. There were none in the Mulhouse area. France, like other governments in northern Europe, had imposed no restrictions on big meetings. There was no alcohol gel for the congregations to clean their hands, no elbow bumps instead of handshakes. “At the time, we viewed COVID as something that was far off,” said Jonathan Peterschmitt, son of the lead pastor and grandson of the church’s founder. His father, Samuel, was unavailable for an interview because he had been sickened by the virus, his son and a church spokeswoman said.

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“The world is still here. We’re just going to have to learn to live in it differently.”

People Get Ready! (Kunstler)

The cable news announced the other day that Covid-19 patients placed in critical care may have to be on ventilators for 21 days. Only a few years ago, I went in for an ordinary hip replacement. A month or so later, I got the hospital billing statement. One of the line-items went like this: Room and board: 36 hours…$23,482.79. I am not jiving you. That was just for the hospital bed and maybe four lousy hospital meals, not the surgery or the meds or anything else. All that was billed extra. Say, what…? Now imagine you have the stupendous good fortune to survive a Covid-19 infection after 21 days on a ventilator and go home. What is that billing statement going to look like? Will the survivors wish they’d never made out of the hospital alive?

Right now, we’re in the heroic phase of the battle against a modern age plague. The doctors, nurses, and their helpers are like the trembling soldiers in an amphibious landing craft churning toward the Normandy beach where the enemy is dug in and waiting for them, with sweaty fingers on their machine guns and a stink in the pillbox. Some of the doctors and nurses will go down in the battle. The fabled fog-of-war will conceal what is happening to the health care system itself, while the battle rages. After that, what? One thing will be pretty clear: That the folks in charge of things gave trillions of dollars to Wall Street while tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 survivors got wiped out financially with gargantuan medical bills.

Do you think the Chargemaster part of the hospital routine will just stop doing its thing during this emergency? The billings will continue – just as the proverbial beatings will continue until morale improves! In the aftermath, I can’t even imagine the ‘splainin’ that will entail. The rage may be too intense to even get to that. For some, it may be time to lubricate the guillotines? Meantime, of course, the global economy has shut down which suggests to me, anyway, that any prior frame of reference you may have had about money and business and social normality goes out the window. The world is still here. We’re just going to have to learn to live in it differently.

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“..the Netherlands will “no longer be a rich country in the North if the South falls.”

Italian Politicians Criticize Netherlands Over Lack Of Solidarity (NLT)

A group of 12 Italian politicians lambasted the Netherlands on Tuesday, angered by Dutch reticence to support European financial assistance to countries most affected by coronavirus. The Netherlands blocked emergency aid to EU member states, despite “using its tax system to withdraw tax revenue from major European countries for years,” they wrote in an open letter published in German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. At issue are “coronabonds”, where the funds raised from selling such bond instruments would be used to help all member states overcome economic hurdles during the ongoing health crisis. The money could then be invested in supporting any EU member state, while repayment obligations would be the responsibility of the entire EU.

Nine nations supported the plan. “However, the Netherlands are currently leading a group of countries that oppose this strategy, and Germany also seems to want to follow this group,” the politicians said, accusing the Dutch tax regime of siphoning money away from other member states which would otherwise have allowed them to assist “the socially week… who are most affected by the crisis today.” The politicians, led by Member of Europea Parliament Carlo Calenda, called for the German public to recall the unified support it had to rebuild after World War II, up through the country’s reunification. “The Dutch attitude is an example of a lack of ethics and solidarity in every respect.”

That sentiment was echoed by the leader of Dutch political party ChristenUnie, one of the parties in the governing coalition led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. “[Italy] is in ruins. The first message, in my opinion, would be: we are going to help you,” said Gert-Jan Segers. He also called for an approach like the U.S. Marshall Plan which promoted the reconstruction of European nations after the War. The large European rescue fund could be structured similarly to the billions of deutschmarks Germany needed even though it “could never have repaid the accumulated debts,” the Italians stated. Former Dutch Central Bank leader Nout Wellink was also critical of the Dutch approach, saying that the crisis and the debt needed to get past it is “a shared responsibility.” He said, “the Netherlands will “no longer be a rich country in the North if the South falls.”

Read more …

 

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Jennifer Baer

 

 

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 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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Sep 052015
 
 September 5, 2015  Posted by at 8:05 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Marion Post Wolcott Works Progress Administration worker’s children, South Charleston, WV 1938

In the end, what should have been avoided all along, was. The refugees who were treated like subhumans for days in Hungary, and who in the end refused to be subjected to that treatment any longer and started walking to the Austrian border, are being taken as we speak to that border, on buses provided by the government in Budapest.

Meanwhile, we have all been subjected to the words and ideas of Victor Orban, the loose cannon who rules Hungary. The media largely portray the sudden change from refugees stuck on trains in Budapest train station and locations just outside of the city, to the buses that will take them to Austria and presumably Germany, as something that sprouted from Orban’s brain.

But that is not true. One can call Orban on his crazy notions, but not on decisions about the movements of the refugees. Both the decision to in effect ‘detain’ the thousands of refugees inside Hungary for days, and the decision late last night to let them leave, came from one person only: Angela Merkel. She’s the only one with sufficient power to make such things happen.

She told Orban earlier this week to stop the trains from coming west. And she told him later all refugees would have to be registered. In fact, that was a EU wide order, which is why the Czechs started putting numbers on refugees’ arms. Another image Merkel couldn’t possibly tolerate, even if she initially managed to deflect the blame for that too.

Once again, Merkel diddled till she couldn’t diddle any longer. The one and only reason why she decided to change course was the damage to her stature as a leader and politician. The images of little Aylan Kurdi dead on a beach, and the images of thousands of refugees walking to the Austrian border, had simply become too damaging to Merkel’s reputation.

So she took the opportunistic and at least somewhat cynical decision to tell Orban he could set them free.

The Syrian refugees have taken to calling her Mama Merkel. They don’t know who she is, or what role she plays.

The situation would have gotten out of hand somewhere, either in Budapest or along the highway to the border. People would have died, and cameras would have recorded the deaths.

Merkel might have had a second Aylan on her hands, and at some point even the thickest among reporters would have made the connection to her, the only voice with decision power in that part of the world. She knew her Teflon coat would at some point wear off.

To a large extent, Merkel’s headaches have only started. She can’t let the Budapest train station scenes, or the miles long stream of walking destitute, or the image of drowned children, repeat. If she had come to her senses earlier, much of the misery would have been avoided. And she knows it. She knew the risk of more and worse tragedy was getting too big. And it still is, this is far from over.

But there’s another side to the story as well. That of private European citizens. And not the goons attacking refugees on Kos and in Hungary. We’ve seen the tireless long-term Greek private efforts to feed and shelter refugees on the islands and the cities, Hungarians handing out hundreds of bottles of water, 2200 Austrians last night volunteering to drive across the Hungarian border to pick up the refugees marching along the highway at night (which was a major factor in the decision to send buses).

There are many examples of European citizens showing what decent behavior actually is. And it comes naturally to them.

There is a huge gap between these Europeans and the people who are supposed to be their leaders. And that gap cannot be bridged, and will not be, just because Angela Merkel acknowledges that she’s been being defeated by numbers and images, everytime she is.

Merkel has shown us once again this week that humanity is an orphan in European decision making. Neither Angela or any other of the leaders, be it in national capitals or in Brussels, put humane treatment of refugees first. They are cool and calculated first.

Their attitude towards Syrian refugees is the same as that towards the poor in Greece. They are more than ready to accept that there will be human casualties because of whatever it is they decide. They want the power but not the responsibility.

The EU meeting on the refugee topic, which you can bet they will label ‘migrant’, is still over a week away, on September 14. And it will be about numbers, not about people.

German financial support on the issue is planned to be more than 3 weeks away. During that time, the horror is sure to repeat somewhere along the line that runs from Syria to Berlin. Yes, it starts in Syria.

Therefore, Europeans -and the international media- need to keep the pressure on Merkel now. And on Hollande and Cameron and Juncker, and all of their minions. But first of all on Merkel. She’s key.