Jun 132020
 


Gustave Doré Dream of the Eagle (Dante’s Purgatory) 1868

 

32 Yemen Doctors Die Of Coronavirus (MEM)
Italian Prosecutors Question PM Conte For 3 Hours Over Virus Response (R.)
June 12 COVID-19 Test Results (McBride)
CDC Warns Restrictions May Be Needed Again If US COVID-19 Cases Spike (R.)
Seattle Coronavirus Survivor Gets A $1.1 Million, 181-Page Hospital Bill (ST)
No Country for Old Men (Ben Hunt)
Churchill Statue Boarded Up Ahead Of Expected UK Protests On Saturday (R.)
Films Aiming To Win Oscars Will Need To Meet Diversity Criteria – Academy (R.)
The American Press Is Destroying Itself (Taibbi)
The Party of Chaos and Falsehood (Jim Kunstler)
Lawyer For Flynn Judge Says Court Will Eventually Dismiss The Case (JTN)
Judges Appear Skeptical Of DOJ Move To Dismiss Flynn Case (Fox)
Graham Granted Significant Subpoena Power For Russia Probe Investigation (JTN)
Some Claim Mayan Calendar Was Wrong, ‘World Will End On June 21’ (Mirror)

 

 

Worldometer reports new cases for June 9 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 140,917. New record.

My count from about 6 am EDT to 6 am EDT is + 141,854 cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 27,221
• Brazil + 25,982
• Russia + 8,706
• India + 11,320
• Pakistan + 6.472
• Chile + 6,754
• Mexico + 5,222

 

 

US coronavirus deaths

90 days ago: 58 deaths
80 days ago: 704 deaths
70 days ago: 7,152 deaths
60 days ago: 23,649 deaths
50 days ago: 49,887 deaths
40 days ago: 67,682 deaths
30 days ago: 84,118 deaths
20 days ago: 97,087 deaths
10 days ago: 106,180 deaths
Today: 116,831 deaths

 

 

Cases 7,763,875 (+ 141,854 from yesterday’s 7,622,021)

Deaths 428,734 (+ 4,409 from yesterday’s 424,325)

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

The number only becomes significant when you read that only 560 patients have been reported.

32 Yemen Doctors Die Of Coronavirus (MEM)

Some 32 doctors in Yemen have died as a result of the coronavirus, the Yemeni Physicians and Pharmacists Syndicate announced yesterday. Doctor Mohammed Ahmed Seif was the latest fatality, he died in the southern province of Taiz. “Seif is the 32nd martyr from coronavirus,” the syndicate said in a statement. By Wednesday, a total of 560 people were reported to have been infected by the virus, 129 of whom have died and 23 have recovered, according to official data. The data does not include the Houthi-controlled areas, which were reported to have registered a total of four infections and one fatality, though many fear the actual number is far higher.


On Monday, the United Nations (UN) said that the mortality rate from the virus in Yemen was “alarmingly increasing”, warning of what it described as a “deteriorating health system”. Since 2014, Yemen has been suffering from an ongoing war between pro-government forces and the Houthis, who have captured most of the north, including the capital, Sanaa.

Read more …

What’s the use of this? Is it not a case for Parliament instead?

Italian Prosecutors Question PM Conte For 3 Hours Over Virus Response (R.)

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was questioned by prosecutors on Friday about the country’s response to its coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 34,000 people. The prosecutors from Bergamo, one of the northern cities hit hardest by the pandemic, are looking into why badly affected small towns around the city were not locked down earlier in the outbreak, when infections were rising fast. Conte, who was questioned as a witness for three hours in his office in Rome and is not under criminal investigation, later told reporters via his spokesman: “I wanted to explain every stage to the smallest detail.” Prosecutors also questioned Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Health Minister Roberto Speranza.

In interviews with several Italian newspapers on Friday, Conte said he would tell prosecutors everything he knew and was not worried by the possibility he could be personally investigated. If that did happen, it would be likely to weaken an already fractious coalition government and add fuel to already frequent speculation that Conte may be pushed out despite his high personal approval ratings in opinion polls. Prosecutor Maria Cristina Rota said the meeting had taken place “in an atmosphere of great calm and institutional collaboration”. The region of Lombardy, which includes Bergamo, was the original epicentre of Italy’s virus outbreak and has remained by far the worst hit of its 20 regions, accounting for about half of its total deaths and most new infections.

The decision not to isolate Bergamo and the surrounding towns has been one of the most contentious episodes, with the central government and Lombardy’s regional authorities each saying the other was responsible. In Lombardy, which is led by the right-wing opposition League party, the Bergamo prosecutors have already interrogated the regional president and health chief. League leader Matteo Salvini was quick to seek political capital from Conte’s interrogation, tweeting that it was Rome’s decision not to set up a so-called “red zone” to seal off Bergamo and enforce it with the army and police. “Now we expect that Conte will at least apologise to the relatives and the friends of too many Bergamo citizens who have died,” he tweeted.

Read more …

US still not testing nearly enough. Like so many other countries. Without testing there’s no crushing the curve.

June 12 COVID-19 Test Results (McBride)

Note: I started posting this graph when the US was doing a few thousand tests per day. Clearly the US was way under testing early in the pandemic. I’ll continue posting this graph daily at least until the percent positive is continuously under 3% and the daily positive is significantly lower than today.


The US is now usually conducting over 400,000 tests per day, and that might be enough to allow test-and-trace in some areas. Based on the experience of other countries, the percent positive needs to be well under 5% to really push down new infections, so the US still needs to increase the number of tests per day significantly. According to Dr. Jha of Harvard’s Global Health Institute, the US might need more than 900,000 tests per day . There were 583,961 test results reported over the last 24 hours. This was a new high for the number of test results reported (some states might have had a data dump). The percent positive over the last 24 hours was 4.1% (red line).

Read more …

Except for protests.

What on earth will happen if a new lockdown is declared? Should have done the first one right.

CDC Warns Restrictions May Be Needed Again If US COVID-19 Cases Spike (R.)

U.S. health officials on Friday urged Americans to continue adhering to social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures, and warned that states may need to reimpose strict restrictions if COVID-19 cases spike. In recent weeks, experts have raised concerns that the reopening of the U.S. economy could lead to a fresh wave of infections. About half a dozen states, including Texas and Arizona, are grappling with a rising number of coronavirus patients filling hospital beds. Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the public should continue to maintain 6 feet of social distance, wash hands regularly and wear facial coverings to reduce the risk of infection.


“If cases begin to go up again, particularly if they go up dramatically, it is important to recognize that more mitigation efforts such as what were implemented back in March may be needed again,” said Jay Butler, the deputy director of infectious diseases at the CDC, who spoke to reporters along with CDC Director Robert Redfield. As the United States reopens its economy, a number of U.S. states, including Texas, Arizona and Florida, have relaxed social distancing guidelines in recent weeks. Many U.S. states also do not require residents to wear protective masks. Most Americans support stay-at-home orders and said they always or often wear face coverings in public , according to an online survey conducted early May of over 2,000 adults in New York City and Los Angeles. Most also said they would feel unsafe if restrictions were lifted.

Read more …

In the history books this will be known as: “How Medicare for All Got Started.”

Seattle Coronavirus Survivor Gets A $1.1 Million, 181-Page Hospital Bill (ST)

Remember Michael Flor, the longest-hospitalized COVID-19 patient who, when he unexpectedly did not die, was jokingly dubbed “the miracle child?” Now they can also call him the million-dollar baby. Flor, 70, who came so close to death in the spring that a night-shift nurse held a phone to his ear while his wife and kids said their final goodbyes, is recovering nicely these days at his home in West Seattle. But he says his heart almost failed a second time when he got the bill from his health care odyssey the other day. “I opened it and said ‘holy [bleep]!’ “ Flor says. The total tab for his bout with the coronavirus: $1.1 million. $1,122,501.04, to be exact. All in one bill that’s more like a book because it runs to 181 pages.

The bill is technically an explanation of charges, and because Flor has insurance including Medicare, he won’t have to pay the vast majority of it. In fact because he had COVID-19, and not a different disease, he might not have to pay anything — a quirk of this situation I’ll get to in a minute. But for now it’s got him and his family and friends marveling at the extreme expense, and bizarre economics, of American health care. Flor was in Swedish Medical Center in Issaquah with COVID-19 for 62 days, so he knew the bill would be a doozy. He was unconscious for much of his stay, but once near the beginning his wife Elisa Del Rosario remembers him waking up and saying: “You gotta get me out of here, we can’t afford this.”

Just the charge for his room in the intensive care unit was billed at $9,736 per day. Due to the contagious nature of the virus, the room was sealed and could only be entered by medical workers wearing plastic suits and headgear. For 42 days he was in this isolation chamber, for a total charged cost of $408,912. He also was on a mechanical ventilator for 29 days, with the use of the machine billed at $2,835 per day, for a total of $82,215. About a quarter of the bill is drug costs.

Read more …

For now, I’ll stick to the pandemic having become embedded, but not yet endemic.

Ben’s point is salient: if -when- COVID19 becomes endemic, other health care options must vanish, while premiums rise.

No Country for Old Men (Ben Hunt)

Connecticut is opening up a bit, so I’ve got an outpatient surgery scheduled at the big local hospital (specialty clinics are still closed) next Friday. I feel lucky to get on the calendar so soon. I also feel nervous. My dad was an ER doc. My brother is a healthcare lawyer. Again, these are things that have certainly made an impression on me. To be clear, my lack of healthcare options today and over the past 3 months isn’t because of the lockdown. That’s how a child would see this. My lack of healthcare options is because of the virus. In its acute phase, Covid-19 shuts down non-emergency healthcare provision entirely. In its endemic phase, Covid-19 forces enormous and costly changes in healthcare provision. There is no “v-shaped recovery” for medicine. Covid-19 is now in its endemic phase. The enormous and costly changes in healthcare provision that Covid-19 requires and the resulting impact on healthcare consumption lead me to three conclusions about the healthcare industry and national politics.

Conclusion #1: Endemic Covid-19 permanently dents healthcare provision (and consumption). The days of “efficient” (i.e., insanely lucrative) specialty medical clinics where docs go through 3 knee replacements or 10 lasik procedures in an afternoon are GONE.

Conclusion #2: Although both acute and endemic Covid-19 sharply reduce my healthcare options and healthcare consumption, my healthcare insurance costs have not gone down. They’ve gone up. Healthcare payers (insurance cos) are a public utility. They should be regulated as such. #BITFD

Conclusion #3: For the past 30 years, US fiscal policy has been largely driven by Boomers’ insatiable demand for more and more healthcare, to the advantage of both the Dems AND the GOP. Covid-19 destroys that cozy political dynamic, but neither party realizes this yet.

Read more …

I’m sure we can find a few very wrong things that the Queen is, or has been, invested in. Why stop here?

Churchill Statue Boarded Up Ahead Of Expected UK Protests On Saturday (R.)

Statues of historical figures including Winston Churchill have been boarded up ahead of more expected protests on Saturday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “shameful” that the monument to Britain’s wartime leader was at risk of attack. Anti-racism protesters, who have taken to the streets following the death of African American George Floyd, have put statues at the forefront of their challenge to Britain’s imperialist past. A statue of Edward Colston, who made a fortune in the 17th century from the slave trade, was torn down in the city of Bristol last Sunday, and authorities have acted to protect monuments they believe could be next.

They have now boarded up a statue opposite parliament of Churchill after demonstrators daubed it with paint last weekend. “It is absurd and shameful that this national monument should today be at risk of attack by violent protesters,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. On Friday, around 500 people gathered in Hyde Park chanting “the UK is not innocent” and “Black Lives Matter”, before marching through central London, with many saying that statues such as Colston’s were legitimate targets. “If we have these big images, and we’re telling people that these people and what they stood for is OK, we’re just allowing everything that they did to pass,” said student Samantha Halsall.

Meanwhile in Britain:

Read more …

Next up: the music scene. Imagine what they can do to country music.

Films Aiming To Win Oscars Will Need To Meet Diversity Criteria – Academy (R.)

The organization that hands out the Academy Awards said Friday it would form a group to develop diversity and inclusion guidelines that filmmakers will have to meet in order for their work to be eligible for Oscars. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has been criticized for honoring few movies and creators of color, said the move and other steps represented a new phase of a 5-year effort to promote diversity. The group said in a statement it would work with the Producers Guild of America to convene a task force of industry leaders to develop “representation and inclusion standards” for Oscars eligibility by July 31 that will “encourage equitable hiring practices on and off screen.”


The rules will not apply to films vying for Oscars at the next ceremony in 2021. Criticism of the movie academy intensified in 2015 with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, a backlash against an all-white field of acting contenders. The academy responded in part by doubling the number of women and people color in its invitation-only ranks. Still, by 2019 just 32% of its roughly 8,000 members were women, and 16% were people of color. New members will be announced next month. “We know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” Academy Chief Executive Dawn Hudson said. “The need to address this issue is urgent.”

Read more …

Good theme, pretty weak execution. The press has been destroying itself for years. Everything they say has become full-blown partisan.

The American Press Is Destroying Itself (Taibbi)

Probably the most disturbing story involved Intercept writer Lee Fang, one of a fast-shrinking number of young reporters actually skilled in investigative journalism. Fang’s work in the area of campaign finance especially has led to concrete impact, including a record fine to a conservative Super PAC: few young reporters have done more to combat corruption. Yet Fang found himself denounced online as a racist, then hauled before H.R. His crime? During protests, he tweeted this interview with an African-American man named Maximum Fr, who described having two cousins murdered in the East Oakland neighborhood where he grew up. Saying his aunt is still not over those killings, Max asked:

“I always question, why does a Black life matter only when a white man takes it?… Like, if a white man takes my life tonight, it’s going to be national news, but if a black man takes my life, it might not even be spoken of… It’s stuff just like that that I just want in the mix.”

Shortly after, a co-worker of Fang’s, Akela Lacy, wrote, “Tired of being made to deal continually with my co-worker @lhfang continuing to push black on black crime narratives after being repeatedly asked not to. This isn’t about me and him, it’s about institutional racism and using free speech to couch anti-blackness. I am so fucking tired.” She followed with, “Stop being racist Lee.” [..] If there’s an edge to Fang at all, it seems geared toward people in our business who grew up in affluent circumstances and might intellectualize topics that have personal meaning for him.

In the tweets that got him in trouble with Lacy and other co-workers, he questioned the logic of protesters attacking immigrant-owned businesses “with no connection to police brutality at all.” He also offered his opinion on Martin Luther King’s attitude toward violent protest (Fang’s take was that King did not support it; Lacy responded, “you know they killed him too right”). These are issues around which there is still considerable disagreement among self-described liberals, even among self-described leftists. Fang also commented, presciently as it turns out, that many reporters were “terrified of openly challenging the lefty conventional wisdom around riots.”

[..] Max himself was stunned to find out that his comments on all this had created a Twitter firestorm. “I couldn’t believe they were coming for the man’s job over something I said,” he recounts. “It was not Lee’s opinion. It was my opinion.” By phone, Max spoke of a responsibility he feels Black people have to speak out against all forms of violence, “precisely because we experience it the most.”

Read more …

Jim reintroduces Hillary as a candidate. But I think she is simply too unpopular.

The Party of Chaos and Falsehood (Jim Kunstler)

The Democratic Party Resistance apparently believes that all this mayhem, and the false sanctimony excusing it, works to their advantage in the coming national election. They may be disappointed about how that works out, as they’ve been disappointed in three years of previous gambits to overthrow the government and seize power by any means necessary. The picture of them is resolving into the party of bad faith, foul play, coercion, and tyranny. Even the corona virus scare carries a taint of Resistance manipulation. One moment the populace is hustled into an economically devastating lockdown; and then suddenly, on a fine spring day, they’re incited to mix in moiling mobs of street protests with the predictable result of a fresh spike in virus contagion and the possibility of a second lockdown.

Like many activities in our national life lately, it’s another hostage racket, and, guess what, you’re the hostage. Their most transparent artifice is the utterly false elevation of Joe Biden as their candidate for president. Everybody knows he’s incapable of performing the job, and probably even of functioning through a campaign. His inchoate utterances on events and policy make Donald Trump sound like Ralph Waldo Emerson. He’s left behind himself an evidence trail of financial crimes running to at least nine digits of grift. And, of course, if you believe all women, he’s a sexual molester. Everything about his public presentation is false, including his hair, teeth, and soul. This past week, his handlers posed him as Grief Counselor-in-Chief (via video from his basement) at the state funeral for George Floyd, accompanied by an inspirational music soundtrack to shore up the sham sentimentality.

Never have so many hollow platitudes been woven into such garment of alternative reality for public consumption. Most pathetically of all, the audience of mourners, mere props, as black America has long been employed by the cynical party, went along with the charade that George Floyd was a model citizen and father, now soaring on golden wings to the place on high where you don’t need methedrine and fentanyl to feel happy. A couple of days later, Democratic Party bigwig and Clinton henchperson, Terry McAuliffe, told a meeting of the faithful that Joe Biden should remain confined to his basement. In a matter of weeks, you may be sure, we’ll learn that the party is compelled to draft Hillary Clinton as poor Joe’s replacement. It can’t be helped. Her turn will not be denied, even if she has to destroy the country to take it.

Read more …

Everyone agrees and knows the case will be dismissed. But the “lead” judge says: “There’s nothing wrong with him holding a hearing; there’s no authority I know of that says he can’t hold a hearing,”

No wonder people think thiis all just to get this past the election. But I’m convinced Flynn and Sidney Powell have long seen this coming.

Lawyer For Flynn Judge Says Court Will Eventually Dismiss The Case (JTN)

A lawyer representing the judge overseeing the Michael Flynn trial suggested Friday that the court will eventually dismiss the case against the former Trump national security adviser, arguing that the judge’s decision to call in outside opinions on the matter was merely an issue of seeking advice before the probable dismissal. The lawyer, Beth Wilkinson, made the acknowledgement during a roughly two-hour federal appeals court hearing on whether the court should order a lower court to immediately dismiss the case, as was requested last month by the Justice Department, or allow the case to proceed through at least July.

“There’s no reason at this point to fear that the District Court is going to deny the government’s motion to dismiss,” she told the three-judge panel Friday morning, stating that the lower court is simply “getting advice” from third parties before likely doing so. It was unclear at the end of hearing, at about noon, when the panel of judges—Neomi Rao, Robert Wilkins and Karen Henderson—would make a decision. A ruling could come before the weekend but is expected to likely happen no sooner than Monday. Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States Jeff Wall argued Friday in the virtual hearing that the federal government has gone “beyond what we thought we were obligated to do” in explaining its reasoning behind its dismissal request, and that Sullivan should honor that decision and drop the case rather than draw it out.

“There’s no reason not to take that final step. This has already become, and I think is only becoming more of, a public spectacle,” he said, arguing that the appeals court should force the lower court to end the trial. Sidney Powell, one of Flynn’s attorneys, made similar arguments, saying the Justice Department provided an “extensive and thoroughly documented” argument in favor of dropping the case and that Sullivan should obey the request and bring the prosecution to an immediate end. The trial “cannot go on any longer,” Powell argued, claiming that the judge overseeing the case “has no authority” to continue it after the executive branch requested it be dropped.

Failing to bring the trial to an end immediately, Powell said, would simply be “delaying the inevitable,” arguing that Sullivan will eventually be found to have exceeded his authority in this case. Yet the court at times appeared reluctant to quickly dismiss the case. Henderson pointed out that Sullivan has scheduled a hearing for July on the matter instead of electing to keep the trial “waiting and languishing.” “There’s nothing wrong with him holding a hearing; there’s no authority I know of that says he can’t hold a hearing,” she said.

Read more …

TEXT

Judges Appear Skeptical Of DOJ Move To Dismiss Flynn Case (Fox)

Judges on a D.C. appeals court Friday seemed skeptical of arguments that they should force a federal judge to dismiss a case against President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as sought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) – after Flynn’s lawyer said the case was “concocted” and slammed previous “government misconduct” against him. The unusual move from Judge Emmet Sullivan to keep the case alive despite prosecutors’ wishes was preceded by an unusual move from the DOJ itself to drop the charges against Flynn even after he had pleaded guilty – saying the FBI interview that led to his charge of lying to investigators had no “legitimate investigative basis.”

But the long-running case continues to drag on. The latest twist involved the higher D.C. appeals court panel agreeing to review the handling of the matter. After Sullivan moved to accept input from outside parties, he was called to defend his own decisionmaking before the panel in response to a petition from Flynn to force the judge to let the case die. At issue is the discretion of the judiciary to delay, deny or question the prosecution’s decision to continue pursuing a criminal case. “This record contains enormous evidence now of government misconduct,” Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell said. She added that she believes Sullivan doesn’t have the authority to do anything but approve the DOJ motion, and that continuing the case would be an unnecessary burden on Flynn.

“We would simply be delaying the inevitable,” Powell said. “He just got dumped on a 72-page brief that we have to answer by Wednesday … the toll it takes on a defendant to go through this is absolutely enormous.” “The government’s just wasting resources out the wazoo,” she said. Powell also complimented the government’s claim that the case against Flynn was flawed: “This is the most impressive motion to dismiss I have ever seen in decades of practice.” [..] For his part, government lawyer Jeff Wall told the judges that it is the government’s position that it does not need to tell the court all of the reasons why it wants to dismiss a case — just those it chooses to disclose.

Read more …

“..the president’s attack on the Russia investigation..”?

The 3-year $40 million investigation ended in utter and complete disgrace for Robert Mueller and the people who appointed him, and now you’re saying none of this should be looked into?

Graham Granted Significant Subpoena Power For Russia Probe Investigation (JTN)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham on Thursday was granted broad subpoena power in his probe into the federal government’s 2016 Russia-Trump campaign probe, allowing him call more than 50 people for interviews, including high-profile Obama administration officials. Graham received the authorization in a party-line vote in the GOP-controlled committee. “I find myself in a position where I think we need to look long and hard about how the Mueller investigation got off the rails. This committee is not going to sit on the sidelines and move on,” said Graham, a South Carolina Republican.

The committee is currently conducting a broad investigation into the 2016 Russia probe, including “Crossfire Hurricane,” which was the FBI’s name for their investigation into Russian election interference by way of the Trump campaign. The FBI’s actions during that operation gave way to what is broadly referred to as the (now mostly debunked) Russia-collusion narrative. With Thursday’s vote, Graham now has the authority to subpoena former intelligence officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, former national security adviser Susan Rice, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

The committee chairman has also been granted the authority to subpoena documents and records reference in Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report assessing the use of FISA warrants against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Tensions ran high during the committee meeting in which member voted on the subpoenas. To issue a subpoena, the committee chairman needs to either strike a deal with the top Democrat – now California Sen. Dianne Feinstein – or secure a majority vote by the committee. Republicans hold a 12-10 majority, so they were able to grant Graham unilateral subpoena power, rejecting several amendments by the Democrats.

“Unfortunately, it appears that Senate Republicans now plan to spend the next several months bolstering the president’s attack on the Russia investigation and his Democratic nominee, Democrat Joe Biden. Congress should not conduct politically motivated investigations designed to attack or help any presidential candidate,” Feinstein said.

Read more …

Compared to actual news these days, even this is light reading.

Some Claim Mayan Calendar Was Wrong, ‘World Will End On June 21’ (Mirror)

From the coronavirus pandemic to an influx of terrifying murder hornets, 2020 has thrown a number of tricky obstacles in humanity’s way. But the worst is yet to come, according to conspiracy theorists, who claim that the world will end next week. The bizarre theory is based on the fact that when the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582, 11 days were lost from the year, to better reflect the time it takes Earth to orbit the sun. While 11 days might not sound a lot, over 286 years it adds up, with some conspiracy theorists claiming we ‘should be in 2012.’ In a now-deleted Twitter post, scientist Paolo Tagaloguin said: “Following the Julian Calendar, we are technically in 2012.


“The number of days lost in a year due to the shift into Gregorian Calendar is 11 days. For 268 years using the Gregorian Calendar (1752-2020) times 11 days = 2,948 days. 2,948 days / 365 days (per year) = 8 years”. According to this theory, June 21 2020 should actually be December 21, 2012. If you cast your mind back to 2012, you may remember various theories, indicating the world would end on December 21. NASA said: “The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 – hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.”

Read more …

 

 

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

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/i/status/1271121354226642948

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Mar 042018
 


James McNeill Whistler Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Chelsea 1871

 

Global Bond Markets Have Become Grotesquely Distorted – Jim Grant (ZH)
From Currency War To Trade War To Shooting War (Rickards)
Central Banks Are The Agents Of Baby Boomers (G.)
Osborne’s Austerity Has Left UK Social Fabric In Tatters (Pettifor)
How America’s Clean Coal Dream Unravelled (G.)
Putin’s Megyn Kelly Interview (ZH)
Germany’s SPD Votes For Coalition Handing Merkel Fourth Term (G.)
Europe’s Band-Aid Ensures Greece’s Debt Bondage (Varoufakis)
Modern Food Farming Puts UK Wildlife Species At Risk Of Extinction (Ind.)
Three Billboards In Hollywood, California (TAM)

 

 

It’s all just one giant distortion.

Global Bond Markets Have Become Grotesquely Distorted – Jim Grant (ZH)

Jim Grant, the world’s most famous interest rate observer, ventured on CNBC this week to expose and explain the utterly farcical world of financial markets (and in particular, risk assets) and how grotesquely distorted global bond markets have become. He began with an example… “As an example of where the world is mispricing interest rates… look to Italy, which is having a big [potentially disruptive] election on Sunday… …there is a speculative grade Italian security, Telecom Italia, the 5 1/4’s of 2022 are trading at 0.61 percent, that is a junk bond with a zero handle.” This bond traded with almost a 6 handle just 5 years ago… Thank you Mr Draghi. But it doesn’t stop there, Grant warns…

“…and since interest rates are critical in the pricing of financial instruments, these distortions preceded the uplift in all asset values.. and the manifestation of this manipulation is in many ways responsible for what we are now seeing in the markets.” These distortions and the chaotic aftermath of their withdrawal are exactly what current Fed Chair Powell warned of in 2013… “[W]hen it is time for us to sell, or even to stop buying, the response could be quite strong; there is every reason to expect a strong response. So there are a couple of ways to look at it. It is about $1.2 trillion in sales; you take 60 months, you get about $20 billion a month. That is a very doable thing, it sounds like, in a market where the norm by the middle of next year is $80 billion a month. Another way to look at it, though, is that it’s not so much the sale, the duration; it’s also unloading our short volatility position.

“I think we are actually at a point of encouraging risk-taking, and that should give us pause. Investors really do understand now that we will be there to prevent serious losses. It is not that it is easy for them to make money but that they have every incentive to take more risk, and they are doing so. Meanwhile, we look like we are blowing a fixed-income duration bubble right across the credit spectrum that will result in big losses when rates come up down the road. You can almost say that that is our strategy.”

Read more …

But history merely rhymes.

From Currency War To Trade War To Shooting War (Rickards)

Currency wars do not exist all the time; they arise under certain conditions and persist until there is either systemic reform or systemic collapse. The conditions that give rise to currency wars are too much debt and too little growth. In those circumstances, countries try to steal growth from trading partners by cheapening their currencies to promote exports and create export-related jobs. The problem with currency wars is that they are zero-sum or negative-sum games. It is true that countries can obtain short-term relief by cheapening their currencies, but sooner than later, their trading partners also cheapen their currencies to regain the export advantage. This process of tit-for-tat devaluations feeds on itself with the pendulum of short-term trade advantage swinging back and forth and no one getting any further ahead.

After a few years, the futility of currency wars becomes apparent, and countries resort to trade wars. This consists of punitive tariffs, export subsidies and nontariff barriers to trade. The dynamic is the same as in a currency war. The first country to impose tariffs gets a short-term advantage, but retaliation is not long in coming and the initial advantage is eliminated as trading partners impose tariffs in response. Despite the illusion of short-term advantage, in the long-run everyone is worse off. The original condition of too much debt and too little growth never goes away. Finally, tensions rise, rival blocs are formed and a shooting war begins. The shooting wars often have a not-so-hidden economic grievance or rationale behind them.

The sequence in the early 20th century began with a currency war that started in Weimar Germany with a hyperinflation (1921–23) and then extended through a French devaluation (1925), a U.K. devaluation (1931), a U.S. devaluation (1933) and another French/U.K. devaluation (1936). Meanwhile, a global trade war emerged after the Smoot-Hawley tariffs (1930) and comparable tariffs of trading partners of the U.S. Finally, a shooting war progressed with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria (1931), the Japanese invasion of Beijing and China (1937), the German invasion of Poland (1939) and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (1941). Eventually, the world was engulfed in the flames of World War II, and the international monetary system came to a complete collapse until the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944.

Read more …

We’re going to be watching this unfold until it’s too late.

Central Banks Are The Agents Of Baby Boomers (G.)

The greatest threat to our economy comes from its ageing population. With the baby-boomer generation making up a large proportion of society, we find ourselves in a situation where public policy is mostly geared towards shoring up the gains made by boomers over the past 40 years, and industrial disputes are driven by an ageing union membership most worried about its pension entitlements. It is a problem that Britain shares with its continental cousins, the US and Japan, now that all are struggling with a situation where a fifth of their populations is aged over 65 and the proportion is rising fast. Ageing populations have many effects on an economy, not least the desire among those nearing retirement age to save excessively.

Each country’s baby boomers pursue the holy grail of wealth slightly differently, but in the main, property and pensions are the twin pillars supporting decades of retirement. When wealth is your goal, there is one evil monster that needs slaying, and that is inflation. This is one of the main reasons that since the 1990s the Bank of England is under instruction to keep inflation anchored around 2%. A recent blog by economists at the Bank has caused a stir by arguing that far from the baby-boomer savings glut being a passing phase – or at least a situation that will fade as the boomers die off – it will be with us for decades to come.

They argue that boomers have shown that they want to keep saving even as they move into their 80s and 90s, to fund possible extra health and care costs, and to pass on the maximum amount of wealth they can to their heirs. Some academics have argued that boomers will be forced to spend more than they save in later life to pay for health and long-term care, but that doesn’t appear to be happening. The $100 trillion of savings sloshing round the global financial system just keeps growing. This is not just because people in young nations such as Indonesia and India are starting to build up savings, but because older Brits, Germans and Swedes are doing the same when there had been an expectation that they would switch to spending.

[..] The Bank of England blog argues that the persistent glut of savings in stocks, bonds and property will maintain the trend of the past 30 years – of an excess of money chasing too few investment opportunities. And if older savers resist spending some of their pension, demand for goods is lower than expected, and inflation stays low. Central banks, in seeking to maintain a 2% inflation target, are the agents of baby boomers. It is their savings and wealth that are protected, not those of the young, who have much less, if any.

Read more …

This is not typical for Osborne or the UK. ‘Saving’ the economy by making the poor, poorer, is widely accepted.

Osborne’s Austerity Has Left UK Social Fabric In Tatters (Pettifor)

There is growing consensus among economists that Osborne’s post-crisis austerity programme deepened and lengthened Britain’s post-crisis recession, causing public and private investment to fall further and real wages to decline. Making large reductions to government spending is itself a major reason why the economy has been so slow in recovering. (Consider the multiplier effect where an injection of public money helps generate income and tax revenues.) In his first budget (June 2010) Osborne told parliament: “We are on track to have debt falling and a balanced structural current budget by the end of this parliament” (ie March 2015).

He slashed welfare as promised, but the economy slowed further. While employment revived, jobs have been recast as part-time, temporary and insecure. As a result, productivity stalled. These declines will cause permanent damage to the British economy. Convinced that a chancellor should “never let a crisis go to waste”, Osborne used the opportunity to shrink the state, as cuts to government spending tore into welfare provision and public services. Real spend per head of population fell, and the real spend per head was particularly felt by the vulnerable citizen, as the population grew older and more fragile. Under his watch, total managed expenditure was cut in real terms by £14bn (2016-17 prices).

These cuts were made worse by a 3-4% rise in population, and by the increasing needs of an ageing population. Public sector net investment was allowed to fall from £60bn in 2010 to £35bn in 2016. It caused intense suffering to small and large firms and suppliers, many of which went and are going bust, laying off staff. The insistence on balancing the current budget also hurt millions of individuals innocent of the causes of the crisis.

Read more …

Oxymoron self-immolation.

How America’s Clean Coal Dream Unravelled (G.)

High above the red dirt and evergreen trees of Kemper County, Mississippi, gleams a 15-story monolith of pipes surrounded by a town-sized array of steel towers and white buildings. The hi-tech industrial site juts out of the surrounding forest, its sharp silhouette out of place amid the gray crumbling roads, catfish stands and trailer homes of nearby De Kalb, population: 1,164. The $7.5bn Kemper power plant once drew officials from as far as Saudi Arabia, Japan and Norway to marvel at a 21st-century power project so technologically complex its builder compared it to the moonshot of the 1960s. It’s promise? Energy from “clean coal”. “I’m impressed,” said Jukka Uosukainen, UN director for the Climate Technology Centre and Network, after a 2014 tour: “maybe using coal in the future is possible”.

Kemper, its managers claimed, would harness dirt-cheap lignite coal – the world’s least efficient and most abundant form of coal – to power homes and businesses in America’s lowest-income state while causing the least climate-changing pollution of any fossil fuel. It was a promise they wouldn’t keep. Last summer the plant’s owner, Southern Company, America’s second-largest utility company, announced it was abandoning construction after years of blown-out budgets and missed construction deadlines. “It hit us hard,” said Craig Hitt, executive director of the Kemper County Economic Development Authority. Some 75 miners, roughly half living inside Kemper County, have already been affected in a region where unemployment is 7.1% compared to a national average of just 4.1%. “It was going to be the biggest project in the history of the county, possibly in the state of Mississippi,” Hitt said.

Instead, this year, Kemper County was home to one of the first large coalmining layoffs of the Trump era. It’s failure is also likely to have a profound impact on the future of “clean coal”. “This was the flagship project that was going to lead the way for a whole new generation of coal power plants,” said Richard Heinberg, senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. “If the initial project doesn’t work then who’s going to invest in any more like it?” [..] a review by the Guardian of more than 5,000 pages of confidential company documents, internal emails, white papers, and other materials provided anonymously by several former Southern Co insiders, plus on- and off-record interviews with other former Kemper engineers and managers, found evidence that top executives covered up construction problems and fundamental design flaws at the plant and knew, years before they admitted it publicly, that their plans had gone awry.

Read more …

“If you were to speak about an arms race, then an arms race began exactly at the time and moment the U.S. opted out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty..”

Putin’s Megyn Kelly Interview (ZH)

NBC’s Megyn Kelly has tried to establish herself as the US media’s preeminent “Putin whisperer” since confronting the Russian president last year over allegations he sanctioned interference by hacking groups in the 2016 US presidential election. In a formal interview with the Russian president, Kelly asked the Russian leader about the latest development in the ongoing controversy, Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians and 3 Russian entities for election meddling. Ignoring that the indictment stated that the alleged activities of the trolls at the Internet Research Agency had no impact on the outcome of the election, Kelly insisted on pressing the Russian president about why Russia hadn’t acted to prosecute the men – including Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a wealthy Russian businessman.

Putin pointed out that no formal requests had been made by the US government, and no effort to share the incriminating information had been made. “I have to see first what they’ve done. Give us a document, give us an official request” Putin said in the NBC interview adding that “We can not respond to that if they do not violate Russian laws.” Kelly responded by listing some of the allegations, before Putin insisted that they shouldn’t be presented to him personally – but to Russia’s general prosecutor. “This has to go through official channels, not through the press, or yelling and hollering in the United States Congress,” Putin said. The broadcast aired a day after Putin grabbed headlines in Western media by revealing that Russia had recently finished testing a range of nuclear weapons that were capable of evading US anti-ballistic missile batteries, showing animated footage and digital representations of the missiles’ capabilities striking Florida which prompted an uproar at the US State Department.

Meanwhile, even though Russia has repeatedly criticized the US and NATO for installing anti-ballistic missile shields in Eastern Europe that Russia says more closely resemble offensive missile batteries, Putin pushed back against questions about whether the US and Russia were entering a new Cold War. The Russian leader said anybody spreading these accusations are more concerned with propaganda than accurate representations of the relationships between the two countries. “My point of view is that the individuals that have said that a new Cold War has started are not analysts. They do propaganda.” Repeating a claim that has been made by many Russian officials, Putin said the arms race between the US and Russia began when George W Bush withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile treaty in 2002. “If you were to speak about an arms race, then an arms race began exactly at the time and moment the U.S. opted out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,” he said.

Read more …

Never a good idea for a party that losses big in elections to be in government; what are elections for? The SPD is so divided now it could turn its back on Merkel at literally any moment over the nexy 4-5 years.

Germany’s SPD Votes For Coalition Handing Merkel Fourth Term (G.)

Germany’s Social Democratic party has agreed to form another “grand coalition” government with the conservative CDU, ending months of political uncertainty in Europe and guaranteeing Chancellor Angela Merkel a fourth term in office. Sunday’s announcement by the party’s leadership ends almost six months of uncertainty in German politics, the longest the country has been without a government in its postwar history. A majority of 66.02% members of 463,723 eligible SPD members voted in favour of renewing the constellation that has governed Germany for the last four years, its treasurer, Dietmar Nietan, confirmed at the party’s headquarters in Berlin.

“We now have some clarity”, said the Social Democrats’ caretaker leader, Olaf Scholz, a contender for the role of finance minister, speaking at the Willy Brandt House. “The SPD will enter into government”. The leadership of the SPD had initially ruled out joining Merkel in government in the wake of historically disappointing results at federal elections in September last year. But the collapse of talks to form an unorthodox “Jamaica” coalition between Merkel’s conservatives, the pro-business Free Democrats and the Green party forced the German centre-left back to the negotiating table, where it managed to secure a surprising victory in getting the chancellor to cede control of the influential finance ministry.

Read more …

“..to borrow that €3 billion on behalf of its creditors, the Greek state added €816 million in interest payments to its debt repayments for 2025. Germany’s cost for rolling over the same sum, on the same day, was a mere €63 million…”

Europe’s Band-Aid Ensures Greece’s Debt Bondage (Varoufakis)

The big moment, it is said, will come in August, when Greece will be pronounced a “normal” European country again. Recently, in preparation for the government’s return to the money markets – from which it has been effectively excluded since 2010 – Greece’s public-debt authority has been testing the waters with a long-term bond issue. Unfortunately, all the happy talk about impending “debt relief” and a “clean exit” from Greece’s third “bailout” obscures an uglier truth: the country’s debt bondage is being extended to 2060. And, by ossifying Greece’s insolvency, while pretending to have overcome it, Europe’s establishment is demonstrating its dogged refusal to address the eurozone’s underlying fault lines. This augurs ill for ALL Europeans.

For an EU country to be considered “normal,” it should be subject to the scrutiny facing countries that were never bailed out. That means the standard twice-yearly checks of compliance with the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact, as performed by the European Commission under the so-called European Semester procedure. Nevertheless, for countries like Ireland or Portugal, a tougher “post-program surveillance” procedure was designed following their bailouts: quarterly checks conducted not only by the European Commission but also by the European Central Bank.

It is plain to see why Greece’s road will be much bumpier than Ireland’s or Portugal’s. The ECB had already begun purchasing Irish and Portuguese debt in the secondary markets well before these countries’ bailout exit, as part of its “quantitative easing” program. This enabled the Irish and Portuguese governments to issue large quantities of new debt at low interest rates. Greece was never included the ECB’s quantitative easing program, for two reasons: its debt burden was too large to service in the long term, even with the help of ECB-sponsored low interest rates, and the ECB was under pressure, mainly from Germany, to wind down the program. Moreover, the post-program surveillance procedure does not give the “troika” of official creditors the leverage over Greece that they desire.

In celebrating Greece’s “clean exit,” while retaining its iron grip on the Greek government and withholding debt restructuring, Europe’s establishment is once again displaying its skill at inventing neologisms. Until 75% of Greece’s public debt is repaid – in 2060, at the earliest – the country, we are told, will be subject to “enhanced surveillance” (a term with unfortunate echoes of “enhanced interrogation”). In practice, this means 42 years of quarterly reviews, during which the European Commission and the ECB “in collaboration with the IMF” may impose new “measures” on Greece (such as austerity, fire sales of public property, and restrictions on organized labor). In short, the next two generations of Greeks will grow up with the troika and its “process” (perhaps under a different name) as a permanent fixture of life.

The celebration of Greece’s return to normality began a few weeks ago with the government’s oversubscribed €3 billion issue of its first seven-year bond in years. What the revelers failed to note, however, was that, to borrow that €3 billion on behalf of its creditors, the Greek state added €816 million in interest payments to its debt repayments for 2025. Germany’s cost for rolling over the same sum, on the same day, was a mere €63 million. Will Greece’s income rise by a similar amount between now and 2025 to make this sustainable?

Read more …

“The agricultural feed companies, the chemical companies, the pharmaceutical companies that provide the antibiotics fed en masse to factory-farmed animals, the equipment manufacturers that sell cages and tractors – they all benefit.”

Modern Food Farming Puts UK Wildlife Species At Risk Of Extinction (Ind.)

Some of Britain’s favourite wildlife is at risk of becoming extinct unless there is a new, 21st-century agricultural revolution, experts are warning. Species from hedgehogs to skylarks and birds of prey are being wiped out – in part by companies with vested interests in “destructive” factory farming, it was claimed on World Wildlife Day, which takes place today. The “alarming” declines in wildlife will threaten not just the richness of the planet but also our ability to grow food, according to the RSPB. After scientists warned last year that the world is facing a sixth mass extinction, turtle doves are on the brink of being wiped out, the latest survey figures show. Numbers of grey partridges, corn buntings and tree sparrows have dropped by at least 90 per cent in 40 years, leaving them all at risk of vanishing from Britain.

Earlier this month, a new report revealed that the number of hedgehogs in the countryside had more than halved since 2000. Nearly two-thirds of Britain’s skylarks and lapwings have disappeared, the European bird census showed, while Birdlife International says 95 per cent of turtle doves have vanished in 20 years. Just days after Environment Secretary Michael Gove unveiled plans to reward farmers who care for the environment, ornithologist Philip Lymbery warned of a culture among government policymakers and scientists of blaming biodiversity declines on climate change – instead of tackling those with “vested interests” in “disastrous” modern farming practices – because it was easier to avoid blaming anyone.

Mr Lymbery, head of charity Compassion in World Farming (CiWF), said changes in farming in the past half-century to drastically and artificially push up quantities of food produced were destroying species from nightingales to butterflies and peregrines. “I’m worried that policymakers and some scientists duck the issue by blaming all the things damaging nature on climate change,” he told The Independent. [..] “The agricultural feed companies, the chemical companies, the pharmaceutical companies that provide the antibiotics fed en masse to factory-farmed animals, the equipment manufacturers that sell cages and tractors – they all benefit. “It’s not the average farmer who benefits from industrial agriculture. And it needs to change.”

Read more …

Hollywood mirrors international charities like Oxfam. Pedophilia rules both.

Three Billboards In Hollywood, California (TAM)

Just days before the first Academy Awards ceremony since Hollywood was hit with allegations of rampant sexual harassment, assault, and pedophilia, a Los Angeles street artist made a bold statement just a few miles from the Dolby Theater where the Oscars will be held. Sabo, a conservative-leaning artist who has previously tagged the city with art referencing former President Obama’s drones, purchased three billboards, echoing the sentiment of a Academy Award-nominated film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which tells the story of a mother who seeks accountability for her daughter’s rape and murder, which police in her small town have failed to solve. In the film, the mother purchases three billboards that read:

“RAPED WHILE DYING”

“AND STILL NO ARRESTS?”

“HOW COME CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?”

In Sabo’s version, the billboards plastered in Hollywood read:

“AND THE OSCAR FOR BIGGEST PEDOPHILE GOES TO…”

“WE ALL KNEW AND STILL NO ARRESTS”

“NAME NAMES ON STAGE OR SHUT THE HELL UP!”

Kevin Spacey’s career went down in flames last year amid the fallout of widespread allegations of abuse by now-scorned producer Harvey Weinstein. Anthony Rapp accused the actor of making advances on him in 1986, when Rapp was only 14. Other accusations against Spacey followed, including some others that alleged Spacey attempted to take advantage of the victims when they were under the age of 18. Further, Corey Feldman, who has long warned of predatory, pedophilic behavior in Hollywood, revealed several of his accused abusers last year, citing John Grissom, former talent manager Marty Weiss, and Alphy Hoffman, who was the son of a high-power producer and ran the trendy Soda Pop Club, where Feldman claims widespread harassment took place in the 1980s.

Feldman claimed there were six abusers total, saying one is an A-list actor who might kill him. He has previously said his fellow child star, Corey Haim, now deceased, received worse abuse than he did. In a 2011 appearance on Nightline, Feldman said: “[T]he No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia…that’s the biggest problem for children in this industry… It’s the big secret.”

Read more …