Apr 102022
 


Inge Morath Window washers 1958

 

The Military Situation In Ukraine (Jacques Baud)
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Ousted By Parliament (PD)
The Total War to Cancel Russia (Escobar)
“Europe Has Chosen Its Fate” (Escobar)
BRICS Ministers of Finance Hold a Meeting
Russia Urges BRICS Nations To Create Own ‘SWIFT’ System (ZH)
Support Grows Among Republicans For Hunter Biden Special Counsel (JTN)
$54M in Chinese Gifts Donated To UPenn, Home of Biden Center (NYP)
Hunter Biden Sought Oligarchs’ Cash In 1st Russian War On Ukraine (JTN)
Durham Evidence: Relentless Democrat Effort To Sell Russia Collusion Hoax (JTN)
Bill Maher Cheers On Elon Musk Joining Twitter (Fox)

 

 

Probably nothing…

 

 

You were told to
https://twitter.com/i/status/1512323263011119105

 

 

It’s not about health, it’s about a treaty we signed…

 

 

Michael Burry was censored over this Tweet.

 

 

Google Translate. Not to be missed.
Jacques Baud is a Former Colonel of the General Staff, former member of Swiss strategic intelligence, specialist in Eastern European countries.

The Military Situation In Ukraine (Jacques Baud)

We have to go back to March 24, 2021. On that day, Volodymyr Zelensky issued a decree for the reconquest of Crimea and began to deploy his forces towards the south of the country. Simultaneously, several NATO exercises were conductedbetween the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, accompanied by a significant increase in reconnaissance flights along the Russian border. Russia then conducts a few exercises to test the operational readiness of its troops and show that it is following the evolution of the situation. Things calm down until October-November with the end of the ZAPAD 21 exercises, whose troop movements are interpreted as a reinforcement for an offensive against Ukraine. However, even the Ukrainian authorities refute the idea of Russian preparations for a war and Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukrainian Minister of Defense declares that there has been no change on its border since the spring.

In violation of the Minsk Accords, Ukraine is conducting aerial operations in Donbass using drones, including at least one strike against a fuel depot in Donetsk in October 2021 . The American press points this out, but not the Europeans and no one condemns these violations. In February 2022, events rush. On February 7, during his visit to Moscow, Emmanuel Macron reaffirms to Vladimir Putin his attachment to the Minsk Accords , a commitment he will repeat after his interview with Volodymyr Zelensky the next day. But on February 11, in Berlin, after 9 hours of work, the meeting of the political advisers of the leaders of the ” Normandy format ” ends, without concrete result: the Ukrainians still and always refuse to apply the Accordsof Minsk, apparently under pressure from the United States. Vladimir Putin then notes that Macron has made empty promises to him and that the West is not ready to enforce the Accords, as they have been doing for eight years.

Ukrainian preparations in the contact zone continue. The Russian Parliament is alarmed and on February 15 asks Vladimir Putin to recognize the independence of the Republics, which he refuses. On February 17, President Joe Biden announces that Russia will attack Ukraine in the coming days. How does he know? Mystery& But since the 16th, the artillery shelling of the populations of Donbass has increased dramatically, as shown by the daily reports of OSCE observers. Naturally, neither the media, nor the European Union, nor NATO, nor any Western government reacts and intervenes. We will say later that this is Russian disinformation. In fact, it seems that the European Union and some countries purposely glossed over the massacre of the people of Donbass, knowing that it would provoke Russian intervention.

At the same time, there are reports of acts of sabotage in the Donbass. On January 18, Donbass fighters intercept saboteurs equipped with Western equipment and speaking Polish seeking to create chemical incidents in Gorlivka . They could be CIA mercenaries , led or “advised” by Americans and made up of Ukrainian or European fighters, to carry out sabotage actions in the Donbass Republics.

[..] The Russian offensive proceeds in a very “classic” manner. At first – as the Israelis had done in 1967 – with the destruction on the ground of the air forces in the very first hours. Then, we witness a simultaneous progression on several axes according to the principle of “flowing water”: we advance wherever resistance is weak and we leave the cities (very voracious in troops) for later. To the north, the Chernobyl plant is occupied immediately to prevent acts of sabotage. The images of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers jointly guarding the plant are naturally not shown… The idea that Russia is trying to take over Kiev, the capital, to eliminate Zelensky, typically comes from the West: this is what they did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and what they wanted to do in Syria with the help of the Islamic State .

But Vladimir Putin never intended to take down or overthrow Zelensky. On the contrary, Russia seeks to keep him in power by pushing him to negotiate by encircling kyiv. He had refused to do so far to apply the Minsk Accords, but now the Russians want to obtain Ukraine’s neutrality. Many Western commentators marveled that the Russians continued to seek a negotiated solution while conducting military operations. The explanation is in the Russian strategic conception, since Soviet times. For Westerners, war begins when politics ceases. However, the Russian approach follows a Clausewitzian inspiration: war is the continuity of politics and one can pass fluidly from one to the other, even during combat. This creates pressure on the opponent and pushes him to negotiate.

From an operational point of view, the Russian offensive was an example of its kind: in six days, the Russians seized a territory as vast as the United Kingdom, with a speed of advance greater than what the Wehrmacht made in 1940. The bulk of the Ukrainian army was deployed in the south of the country for a major operation against Donbass. This is why the Russian forces were able to encircle it from the beginning of March in the “cauldron” between Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk, by a thrust coming from the east via Kharkov and another coming from the south from the Crimea. The troops of the Republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (RPL) complete the action of the Russian forces with a push from the East.

At this stage, the Russian forces are slowly tightening the noose, but are no longer under time pressure. Their objective of demilitarization is practically achieved and the residual Ukrainian forces no longer have an operational and strategic command structure. The “slowdown” that our “experts” attribute to poor logistics is only the consequence of having achieved the objectives set. Russia does not seem to want to engage in an occupation of the whole Ukrainian territory. In fact, it seems rather that Russia is trying to limit its advance to the country’s linguistic border.

Jacques Baud is a former Colonel of the General Staff, former member of Swiss strategic intelligence, specialist in Eastern European countries. He was trained in the American and British intelligence services. He was the head of doctrine for United Nations peace operations. A United Nations expert for the rule of law and security institutions, he designed and led the first multidimensional United Nations intelligence service in Sudan. He worked for the African Union and was responsible for the fight against the proliferation of small arms at NATO for 5 years. He was engaged in talks with top Russian military and intelligence officials right after the fall of the USSR. Within NATO, he followed the Ukrainian crisis of 2014, then participated in programs of assistance to Ukraine. He is the author of several books on intelligence, war and terrorism, and in particular Le Détournement published by SIGEST, Govern by fake news, The Navalny affair, and Poutine, master of the game? published by Max Milo.

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Pushing regime change in a country of 220 million people. Which is a nuclear power.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Ousted By Parliament (PD)

Pakistan’s parliament passed a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan in the early hours of Sunday April 10. Sunday’s vote took place one week after Khan had dissolved parliament in order to avoid the no-confidence motion, citing foreign interference. The Supreme on Thursday April 7 ruled that the move was illegal and that the parliament must be restored. The vote against Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party on April 10 was promoted by legislators from the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and other parties) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and received 174 votes in favor, two more than the necessary 172 to be passed. The session was chaired by Ayaz Sadiq of PML-N after the National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser resigned from his post.

Qaiser stated that he could not take part in a foreign conspiracy to oust the prime minister, “In line with our laws and the need to stand for our country, I have decided that I can’t remain on the position of speaker and thereby resign.” When the no-confidence measure was first raised Khan had warned that it was product of an international conspiracy and alleged US involvement. While US officials denied any involvement, many have raised suspicion that the move gained strength just as Pakistan began to distance itself from Washington’s diktats. Since the Taliban take over the government of Afghanistan in August and the complete isolation of the country by the US and its allies, Pakistan has been one of the only countries engaging in economic and political relations with the government as the country faces a humanitarian crisis.

Further, it has not fallen into line with the US regarding Russia and has continued to conduct lifesaving trade and has refused to economically and politically marginalize the superpower. Khan denounced a joint letter issued by 22 European countries urging Pakistan to support a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. He declared at a public rally: “Are we slaves and do whatever you tell us… We are neutral in this conflict and will support those who want to end the war in Ukraine.” With the success of the no-confidence measure, Khan will be forced to step down. No democratically elected government has completed a full term since the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Khan’s removal comes amid a growing economic crisis due to global inflation. Prices of essential items such as cooking oil, grains, wheat, and sugar have all increased. Khan’s government turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for support and had entered a stalemate with the institution which was demanding strict conditions and austerity policies.

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Two parts from one article by Pepe Escobar.

The Total War to Cancel Russia (Escobar)

By now it’s abundantly clear that the neo-Orwellian “Two Minute Hate” Russophobic campaign launched by the Empire of Lies after the start of Operation Z is actually “24/7 Hate”. Vast swathes of NATOstan have been corralled into behaving like a Russophobic lynch mob. No dissent is tolerated. The full psyops has de facto upgraded the Empire of Lies to the status of Empire of Hate in a Total War – hybrid and otherwise – to cancel Russia. Hate, after all, packs way more punch than mere lies, which are now veering into abject ridiculousness, as in U.S. “intelligence” resorting to – what else – lies to fight the info war against Russia. If the propaganda overdrive has been lethally effective amidst the zombified Western masses – call it a “win” in the P.R. war – in the front where it really matters, inside Russia, it’s a major fail.

Public opinion support for both Operation Z and President Putin is unprecedented. After videos of torture of Russian POWs that caused widespread revulsion, Russian civil society is even bracing for a “Long War” lasting months, not weeks, as long as the targets of the Russian High Command – actually a military secret – are met. The stated aims are “demilitarization” and “denazification” of a future neutral Ukraine – but geopolitically reach way beyond: the aim is to turn the post-1945 European collective security arrangement upside down, forcing NATO to understand and come to terms with the concept of “indivisible security”. This is an extremely complex process that will reach the next decade.

The NATOstan sphere simply cannot admit in public a series of facts that a military analyst of the caliber of Andrei Martyanov has been explaining for years. And that adds to their collective pain. Russia can take on NATO and smash it to bits in 48 hours. It may employ advanced strategic deterrence systems unmatched across the West. Its southern axis – from the Caucasus and West Asia to Central Asia – is fully stabilized. And if the going gets really tough, Mr. Zircon can deliver his hypersonic nuclear business card with the other side not even knowing what hit it. It may be enlightening to see how these complex processes are interpreted by Russians – whose points of view are now completely blocked across NATOstan.

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“What you are seeing now is the death of Europe. Even if it does not come to nuclear strikes on industrial centers, Europe is doomed..”

“Europe Has Chosen Its Fate” (Escobar)

It may be enlightening to see how these complex processes are interpreted by Russians – whose points of view are now completely blocked across NATOstan. Let’s take two examples. The first is Lieutenant General L.P. Reshetnikov, in an analytical note examining facts of the ground war. Some key takeaways: – “Over Romania and Poland there are airborne early warning aircraft of NATO with experienced crews, there are U.S. intelligence satellites in the sky all the time. I remind you that just in terms of budgets for our Roscosmos we allocated $2.5 billion a year, the civil budget of NASA is $25 billion, the civil budget of SpaceX alone is equal to Roscosmos – and that is not counting the tens of billions of dollars annually for the entire U.S. feverishly unfolding the control system of the entire planet.” – The war is unfolding according to “NATO’s eyes and brains. The Ukronazis are nothing but free controlled zombies. And the Ukrainian army is a remotely controlled zombie organism.”

– “The tactics and strategy of this war will be the subject of textbooks for military academies around the world. Once again: the Russian army is smashing a Nazi zombie organism, fully integrated with the eyes and brain of NATO.” Now let’s switch to Oleg Makarenko, who focuses on the Big Picture. – “The West considers itself ‘the whole world’ only because it has not yet received a sufficiently sensitive punch on the nose. It just so happened that Russia is now giving him this click: with the rear support of Asia, Africa and Latin America. And the West can do absolutely nothing with us, since it also lags behind us in terms of the number of nuclear warheads.” – “Europe has chosen its fate. And chose fate for Russia. What you are seeing now is the death of Europe. Even if it does not come to nuclear strikes on industrial centers, Europe is doomed.

In a situation where European industry is left without cheap Russian energy sources and raw materials – and China will begin to receive these same energy carriers and raw materials at a discount, there can be no talk of any real competition with China from Europe. As a result, literally everything will collapse there – after industry, agriculture will collapse, welfare and social security will collapse, hunger, banditry and chaos will begin.” It’s fair to consider Reshetnikov and Makarenko as faithfully representing the overall Russian sentiment, which interprets the crude Bucha false flag as a cover to obscure the Ukrainian army torture of Russian POWs.

And, deeper still, Bucha allowed the disappearance of Pentagon bioweapon labs from the Western mediasphere, complete with its ramifications: evidence of a concerted American drive to ultimately deploy real weapons of mass destruction against Russia. The multi-level Bucha hoax had to include the Brit presidency of the UN Security Council actually blocking a serious discussion, a day before the Russian Ministry of Defense struggled to present to the UN – predictably minus the U.S. and the UK – all the bioweapon facts they have unearthed in Ukraine. The Chinese were horrified by the findings.

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That’s most of the world. And its resources.

BRICS Ministers of Finance Hold a Meeting (CTH)

This is not some grand conspiracy, ‘out there‘ deep geopolitical possibility, or foreboding likelihood as an outcome of short-sighted western emotion. No, this is just a predictable outcome from western created events that pushed specific countries to a natural conclusion based on their best interests. You can debate the motives of the western leaders who structured the sanctions against Russia, and whether they knew the outcome would happen as a consequence of their effort, but the outcome was never really in doubt. Personally, I believe this outcome is what the west intended. The people inside the World Economic Forum are not stupid – ideological, yes, but not stupid. They knew this would happen.

The finance ministers of the BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have decided to create their own financial mechanisms to continue trade between nations of similar disposition. Once the internal issues inside the BRICS alliance are resolved, and once the mechanisms are created, then other nations will be able to decide to join or not. The great global cleaving will commence. [..] The bottom line is – the 2022 punitive economic and financial sanctions by the western nations’ alliance against Russia was exactly the reason why BRICS assembled in the first place. The multinational corporate control of government is exactly what the BRICS assembly foresaw when they first assembled during the Obama administration. When multinational corporations run the policy of western government, there is going to be a problem.

In the bigger picture, the BRICS assembly are essentially leaders who do not want corporations and multinational banks running their government. BRICS leaders want their government running their government; and yes, that means whatever form of government that exists in their nation, even if it is communist. BRICS leaders are aligned as anti-corporatist. That doesn’t necessarily make those government leaders better stewards, it simply means they want to make the decisions, and they do not want corporations to become more powerful than they are. As a result, if you really boil it down to the common denominator, what you find is the BRICS group are the opposing element to the World Economic Forum assembly. The countries run by multinational corporations are in Yellow, the countries who have not yet chosen a side are in GREY:

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“It will be clear to everyone that the supposed effectiveness of sanctions is an absolute lie.”

Russia Urges BRICS Nations To Create Own ‘SWIFT’ System (ZH)

The dollar reserve system is facing its greatest threat yet. Russian Finance Minister Anatoly Siluanov said on Saturday that the five BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – could mitigate the backlash of Western sanctions against Russia on their economies by pooling their efforts and using a range of financial instruments at their disposal. “The current crisis is man-made and BRICS countries have all the instruments necessary to mitigate its consequences for the national and global economies,” Siluanov was cited as saying by the Russian Finance Ministry. The minister blamed economic sanctions on Russia for “destroying the foundation of the existing international monetary and financial system based on the US dollar” and urged BRICS to rely more on their national currencies in foreign trade, integrate payment systems and create an alternative to the SWIFT payment messaging platform.

Siluanov on Friday told a ministerial meeting with BRICS that the global economic situation had worsened substantially due to the sanctions, a statement from his ministry said on Friday. “This pushes us to the need to speed up work in the following areas: the use of national currencies for export-import operations, the integration of payment systems and cards, our own financial messaging system and the creation of an independent BRICS rating agency,” Siluanov said. As The Statesman reports, central banks of the BRICS countries have already agreed to conduct the fifth test of a banking mechanism that will allow them to jointly pool “alternative currency” reserves to shield their economies from outside shocks, the ministry said.

Siluanov’s comments echoed Dmitry Medvedev’s comments on Telegram. The Deputy Head of Russia’s Security Council warned of the geopolitical consequences of Western sanctions and the weaponization of the US dollar reserve system: “Their result will be a destroyed international order and extremely difficult consequences for the world economy and the life of individual countries,” adding that: “It will be clear to everyone that the supposed effectiveness of sanctions is an absolute lie.”

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“I won’t have any faith in him,” [Ron] Johnson said of a special counsel.”

Support Grows Among Republicans For Hunter Biden Special Counsel (JTN)

Nearly 100 House Republicans are urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals, saying they had the hallmarks of an influence peddling scandal. The letter led by Reps. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the chair of the House GOP Study Committee, comes as the U.S. attorney in Delaware enters his third year investigating Hunter Biden’s taxes, foreign lobbying and money movements. In all, 95 House GOP members signed the letter. “It is increasingly clear that Hunter Biden took advantage of his father’s position as Vice President to develop business relationships with clients in Ukraine, China, and Kazakhstan,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Hunter Biden likely facilitated lobbying for foreign entities through third-party channels without registering for the Foreign Agents Registration Act. “It appears that Hunter Biden used his position as son of then-Vice President Biden to gain wealth and influence in foreign countries, using questionably sourced money to pay tax liabilities, and lobbying on behalf of foreign entities without proceeding through the proper channels.” The House Republicans said they were concerned DOJ “has an actual conflict of interest and certainly has the appearance of a conflict of interest that could prevent a fair and impartial investigation of his activities.” “We believe that in the case of Hunter Biden a special counsel must be appointed to preserve the integrity of this investigation and any subsequent prosecution.

A special counsel would also ensure there is no bias in the investigation or undue influence from the White House,” the lawmakers added. [..] While support for a special counsel has been growing, some Republicans like Sen. Ron Johnson argue it isn’t necessary and would only further delay an already slow moving investigation. “I won’t have any faith in him,” Johnson said of a special counsel.

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No investigation of Hunter can be complete without investigating Joe.

$54M in Chinese Gifts Donated To UPenn, Home of Biden Center (NYP)

A government watchdog is demanding the US Attorney probing Hunter Biden in Delaware investigate tens of millions in anonymous donations from China to the University of Pennsylvania, where an academic center is named for his father, President Biden. The Ivy League college raked in a total of $54.6 million from 2014 through June 2019 in donations from China, including $23.1 million in anonymous gifts starting in 2016, according to public records. Most of the anonymous donations came after the university announced in February 2017 that it would create the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Joe Biden, whose term as vice president had just ended, was to lead the center and was also named a professor at the university. The center, which is located in Washington, DC., opened its doors in February 2018.

Antony Blinken, whom Biden named as Secretary of State, briefly served as its managing director. The Ivy League university received $15.8 million in anonymous Chinese gifts that year, including one eye-popping $14.5 million donation in May 2018, records show. The flurry of donations may be related to Hunter Biden’s business interests in China, the National Legal and Policy Center, a Virginia-based watchdog, alleged in complaints sent in May and October 2020 to the Departments of Education and Justice. Last week, the group asked US Attorney David Weiss to step in and investigate the Chinese largesse to the school as part of his federal tax probe of Hunter Biden. “We’ve asked … Weiss to pursue the larger network of individuals and institutions who benefited from millions doled out by foreign interests connected to Hunter Biden’s work in China and Ukraine,” said Tom Anderson, director of the NLPC’s Government Integrity Project.

In its 12-page complaint, the watchdog cited a 2017 text found on Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop that CEFC China Energy Co, one of the firms that Hunter Biden had a financial stake in, wanted to lobby politicians in the US but did not want to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), required for all foreign lobbyists. “We don’t want to have to register as foreign agents under the FCPA [sic] which … is much more expansive than people who should know choose not to know,” reads the May 1, 2017, text sent from Hunter Biden to his former business partner Tony Bobulinski.

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“..Moscow’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean region in 2014 was a wild card that could scuttle the success of their business pursuits..”

Oh, and definition counts: There was a 1st war on Ukraine? Was that when Ukraine invaded the Donbass?

Hunter Biden Sought Oligarchs’ Cash In 1st Russian War On Ukraine (JTN)

In the shadows of Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Hunter Biden and his business partners embarked on an aggressive campaign to score millions of dollars in “life changing” business with oligarchs in both countries who had an interest in his father’s policymaking business, according to emails and court records obtained by Just the News. President Joe Biden’s son and his associates targeted Russian oligarch Yelena Baturina — who eventually was sanctioned by the U.S. a few years later in 2018 — for as much as $200 million after helping her get a bank account set up in America, the emails show. Hunter Biden and his associates even arranged for Baturina and her husband, an ex-Moscow mayor, to meet with then-Vice President Joe Biden at an intimate dinner in Washington in 2015.

At the same time he and his team courted Baturina, Hunter Biden was securing lucrative board positions and consulting deals with Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, a man whose company, Burisma Holdings, the United States and Great Britain wanted investigated for corruption. The delicate balancing act of cashing in on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides of the conflict left the younger Biden and his partners acutely aware that Moscow’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean region in 2014 was a wild card that could scuttle the success of their business pursuits, the memos show.

“Just spent two hours on the phone with Kiev. I am confident at this point that this is a good if not life changing deal if the Uk [Ukraine] doesn’t collapse in the meantime,” now-convicted Biden business partner Devon Archer wrote Hunter Biden in one particularly candid assessment of their strategy in mid-April 2014. Eventually, another of Hunter Biden’s convicted business associates, John Galanis, would declare in a sworn affidavit to a federal court that he and his son Jason became aware of a strategy by Hunter Biden-related companies of promising oligarchs “quid pro quo” access to Washington in return for their dollars. “Jason Galanis gave his interest in Burnham/Wealth Assurance to Archer on the prospect that Archer and Hunter Biden would continue to attract foreign oligarchs on the promise of high level political contacts,” John Galanis swore in a January 2020 affidavit that unequivocally referred to the scheme as “political influence peddling.”

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Sussmann will be fun.

Durham Evidence: Relentless Democrat Effort To Sell Russia Collusion Hoax (JTN)

As the trial for former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann draws closer, Special Counsel John Durham is painting a picture of a relentless effort by Democrat operatives to sell the Russia collusion narrative across the U.S. government from the FBI to the State Department. Essentially, Hillary Clinton operatives flooded the zone in the summer and fall of 2016, hoping multiple Trump collusion allegations circulating inside the government agencies might prompt an investigation and media interest. For the first time this week, Durham called it a “joint venture” and a conspiracy to shop unproven Trump dirt.

In the case of Sussmann, Durham alleges that effort involved deceit by lying to the FBI that he did not have a client when he presented (since-discredited) evidence to the FBI that Donald Trump had a secret computer back channel at the Alfa Bank in Moscow to talk with the Kremlin. In fact, Sussmann was working on behalf of the Clinton campaign and a tech executive named Rodney Jaffe who was aligned with the campaign when he approached the FBI in September 2016 and made the anti-Trump allegations, Durham’s team alleges. A few months later, prosecutors say, Sussmann was still representing the tech executive when he approached the CIA in February 2017 to get the spy agency involved and again claimed he wasn’t representing a client’s interest.

On Monday, Durham showed the strength of his evidence of Sussmann’s alleged lie: He offered the handwritten notes of two senior FBI officials who recorded that the Clinton lawyer had said he was not acting on behalf of a client when he reported the Trump dirt. “Said not doing this for any client,” then-Assistant FBI Director for Counterintelligence Bill Priestap wrote in his notes, recording what Sussmann had told him. A deputy general counsel wrote a similar notation.

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“..it’s living in a space that’s not exactly a publication, but it’s not exactly a private company either… That’s why it’s so tricky.”

Bill Maher Cheers On Elon Musk Joining Twitter (Fox)

“Real Time” host Bill Maher offered enthusiastic support for Tesla CEO Elon Musk as he joins Twitter. Musk shocked the world this week when it was revealed he purchased 9.2% stake in Twitter, Inc., making him the largest shareholder in the social media giant. He made even more headlines when it was announced that he was joining Twitter’s board of directors, suggesting he could have influence over Twitter’s policies in favor of free speech principles. During Friday’s “Overtime” segment on YouTube, a viewer submitted a question asking, “What’s the panel’s thoughts on Elon Musk becoming Twitter’s single-largest shareholder. “I’m for it!” Maher exclaimed while pounding the table. New York Times writer David Leonhardt said his reaction to the Elon Musk news was, “Are we gonna have to read Donald Trump’s tweets again soon.”


“Which is a tough one,” Maher reacted. “Because once they took Trump off Twitter, things did get better but it’s… bad for free speech. And then they’re gonna go somewhere. And then the resentment and then the idea, ‘Well, you know, the people who are ganging up against us- the media and Big Tech and Big Government. I mean, that’s the convoy. You know, those convoys in Canada and all over the world.” Liberal author Nancy MacLean pushed back against Maher, arguing that Twitter’s censorship of Trump is not in violation of the Constitution since the First Amendment only applies to the government suppressing free speech, not private companies. “We live in a different age where Twitter is the public square now. If you deny someone’s right to speak on Twitter, you’re basically saying you don’t have free speech rights,” Maher said. “We’re not living in 1980 anymore. This is a different world we live in where social media controls this. So social media is sort of a… it’s living in a space that’s not exactly a publication, but it’s not exactly a private company either… That’s why it’s so tricky.”

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Zelenko

 

 

 

 

Makary

 

 

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Apr 012022
 


Rembrandt van Rijn The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp 1632

 

Ukraine: Transfer of Power Balance from West to East (Leckie)
The New, Resource-Based Global Reserve Currency (Escobar)
Putin Says Russia to Keep Supplying Gas Amid Shift to Rubles (BBG)
German Chemical Giant Warns Of “Total Collapse” If Russian Gas Supply Cut (ZH)
31 Years After End of Warsaw Pact, NATO Continues As Regional Disrupter (GT)
Ukraine Journalist Finds Charred Remains Where War Crime Was Filmed (IC)
Fight With Clinton Campaign And DNC Looms In Sussmann Case (Pol.)
White House Stands By Biden’s Claim That Hunter Didn’t Profit Off China (WE)
Pakistan Warns Of Foreign-backed Regime-change Attempt (M/P)
WSJ Misleads Public on Ivermectin, Ignores Revelations About ‘Hidden Author’ (CHD)

 

 

 

 

 

 

It really is this simple.

Ukraine: Transfer of Power Balance from West to East (Leckie)

The Russian military is running an “economy of effort” operation. It has effectively fixed in place the garrisons defending Ukraine’s major cities leaving them incapable of supporting the troops in the Donbass. Meanwhile Russia is progressively destroying the military infrastructure of the Ukraine (resupply, maintenance and command and control facilities and weapon systems such as air defense, artillery and armored vehicles) through a combination of air strikes, cruise missiles, rockets and traditional artillery across the breadth and depth of Ukraine. Approximately 60,000 of Ukraine’s best trained and equipped troops are located in the Donbass.

It would appear unlikely that this force is capable of anything other than localized tactical level manoeuvre at this point due to a combination of ever dwindling supplies of ammunition, fuel and rations, Russia’s dominance in the air and ground based combat power, and the effects of combat to date. Despite the alleged incompetence of the handling of the initial stages of the war, the Pentagon assesses that the Russian forces still retain nearly 90 percent of the initial combat power assigned to the invasion. With Russian forces on the verge of completing the capture of Mariupol, it will only be a matter of time before the Ukrainian forces in the Donbass are fully encircled and subsequently destroyed or forced to surrender.

Whilst there may be many weeks, or even months of fighting ahead, the writing is on the wall that Russia, barring outside intervention (i.e. NATO — which has repeatedly ruled out direct military intervention), will achieve its military objectives. The direct Russo-Ukraine conflict is however just one level of this conflict. Ukraine is actually an unfortunate pawn in the much bigger conflict. As long time Russia analyst Gilbert Doctorow notes this is a “full-blown proxy war between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, and it is about ending or perpetuating American global hegemony.” Whilst the war in Ukraine will end sooner or later, the implications at a global scale of this proxy war will be of much greater consequence for a much greater period of time.

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“..trifecta (imminent blitzkrieg on Donbass; US bioweapon labs; Ukraine working on nuclear weapons) as the casus belli..”

The New, Resource-Based Global Reserve Currency (Escobar)

The Russian Central Bank nationalized foreign exchange earnings of all major exporters. There was no default. The ruble keeps rising – and is now back to roughly the same level before Operation Z. Russia remains self-sufficient, food-wise. American hysteria over “isolated” Russia is laughable. Every actor that matters across Eurasia – not to mention the other 4 BRICS and virtually the whole Global South – did not demonize and/or sanction Russia. As an extra bonus, arguably the last oligarch capable of influence in Moscow, Anatoly Chubais, is gone. Call it another momentous historical trickery: Western sanction hysteria de facto dismembered Russian oligarchy – Putin’s pet project since 2000. What that implies is the strengthening of the Russian state and the consolidation of Russian society.

We still don’t have all the facts, but a case can be made that after years of careful evaluation Putin opted to really go for broke and break the West’s back – using that trifecta (imminent blitzkrieg on Donbass; US bioweapon labs; Ukraine working on nuclear weapons) as the casus belli. The freezing of foreign reserves had to have been forecasted, especially because the Russian Central Bank had been increasing its reserves of US Treasuries since November last year. Then there’s the serious possibility of Moscow being able to access “secret” offshore foreign reserves – a complex matrix built with Chinese insider help.

The sudden switch from dollars/euros to rubles was hardcore, Olympic-level geoeconomic judo. Putin enticed the collective West to unleash its demented hysteria sanction attack – and turned it against the opponent with a single, swift move. And here we all are now trying to absorb so many in-synch game-changing developments following the weaponization of dollar assets: rupee-ruble with India, the Saudi petroyuan, co-badged Mir-UnionPay cards issued by Russian banks, the Russia-Iran SWIFT alternative, the EAEU-China project of an independent monetary/financial system.

Not to mention the master coup by the Russian Central Bank, pegging 1 gram of gold to 5,000 rubles – which is already around $60, and climbing. Coupled with No Rubles No Gas, what we have here is energy de facto pegged to gold. The EU Chihuahuas and the Japanese colony will need to buy a lot of rubles in gold or buy a lot of gold to have their gas. And it gets better. Russia may re-peg the ruble to gold in the near future. Could go to 2,000 rubles, 1,000 rubles, even 500 rubles for a gram of gold.

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No disruptions, but a lot of support for the ruble. Also from much higher prices. Who’s winning?

Putin Says Russia to Keep Supplying Gas Amid Shift to Rubles (BBG)

Russia aims to keep supplying gas to European customers even as it demands they shift to payment in rubles, President Vladimir Putin said, easing fears that the shift could lead to disruptions from the continent’s biggest supplier. “Russia values its business reputation, we have complied and will comply in the future with obligations under all contracts, including gas contracts,” he told officials in televised comments laying out the new mechanism for ruble payments. “We will continue to supply gas in the volumes and at prices set down in the current long-term agreements,” he added, warning that shipments would be stopped for customers who don’t accept the new terms starting Friday.

European officials said the change isn’t likely to affect supplies. “For us, with regard to Putin’s threat or announcement or plan — one doesn’t really know what to call it anymore — to get paid in rubles, the main point is that the contracts are being kept,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said. When Putin first announced the ruble-payment demand last week, European officials rejected it, saying the move would violate contract terms. But the Kremlin Thursday published a presidential decree outlining the mechanism to allow foreign buyers to convert their dollars and euros into the Russian currency through a state-controlled bank. European benchmark gas jumped after the order was published but pared gains later. Fear of a possible cutoff of Russian gas — worsened by the threats on ruble payments — had driven prices higher in recent days.

An official at the French presidency, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the new mechanism doesn’t change the payments as mandated in the contracts, which will continue as before. But the official said France is preparing a contingency plan for gas, given all the uncertainties. Putin initially portrayed the move against “unfriendly countries” as retaliation for sweeping Western sanctions imposed over his invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin, seeking to use its leverage as Europe’s largest gas supplier, hinted it might cut off countries that refused. But the Group of Seven leading industrial nations flatly rejected the demand, saying it violated contractual terms. Authorities in Germany and Austria warned that the dispute could lead to an interruption in vital supplies.

Gas buyers were still seeking clarity on the change Thursday. Germany’s E.ON SE said it’s not clear which contracts are covered, while Denmark’s Orsted AS said it hasn’t been approached by Russian gas giant Gazprom and until that happens, assumes the contract conditions are unchanged. Payments for gas shipped in April are due late in the month or in May, depending on the contract, according to a person familiar with Russia’s supply deals. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who discussed the issue in a call with Putin, said Thursday, “in any case, it remains the case that companies want to, can and will continue to pay in euros.”

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I just said: NO disruptions.

German Chemical Giant Warns Of “Total Collapse” If Russian Gas Supply Cut (ZH)

CEO of Germany’s multinational BASF SE, the world’s largest chemical producer, has warned that curbing or cutting off energy imports from Russia would bring into doubt the continued existence of small and medium-sized energy companies, and further would likely spiral Germany into its most “catastrophic” economic crisis going back to the end of World War 2. Company CEO Martin Brudermuller issued the words in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper just ahead of German officials by midweek giving an “early warning” to industries and the population of possible natural gas shortages, as Russia appears ready to firmly hold to Putin’s recent declaration that “unfriendly countries” must settle energy payments in rubles, related to the Ukraine crisis and resultant Western sanctions.

According to Bloomberg he mused that while “Germany could be independent from Russia gas in four to five years” it remains that “LNG imports cannot be increased quickly enough to replace all Russian gas flows in the short term.” But in the meantime, Brudermuller described that “It’s not enough that we all turn down the heating by 2 degrees now” given that “Russia covers 55 percent of German natural gas consumption.” He emphasized that if Russian gas disappeared overnight, “many things would collapse here” – given that “we would have high levels of unemployment, and many companies would go bankrupt. This would lead to irreversible damage.” He continued:

“To put it bluntly: This could bring the German economy into its worst crisis since the end of the Second World War and destroy our prosperity. For many small and medium-sized companies in particular, it could mean the end. We can’t risk that!” The dire warning of coming disaster in the event Russian gas is shut off came in response being questioned over whether it’s at all possible to abandon Russian energy. Asserting that this issue is not “black and white” – and that the German economy stands on the brink of catastrophe, the BASF CEO said that if this standoff continues to escalate it will “open the eyes of many on both sides”…

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View from China.

31 Years After End of Warsaw Pact, NATO Continues As Regional Disrupter (GT)

It has been 31 years since the formal dissolution of the military structures of the Warsaw Pact on March 31, 1991. NATO, another product of the Cold War era, however, has not dissolved with the end of the Cold War and the disbandment of the Warsaw Pact. NATO’s activities have aroused regional and global insecurities. And the ongoing Ukraine crisis was largely triggered by the bloc’s eastward expansion. The continued existence of NATO is mainly to serve the global military hegemony system of the US. Even in the era of the Cold War, the US-led NATO was not only meant to counter the Warsaw Pact, but also served as a tool to dominate the world militarily. This was reinforced after the end of the Cold War. Through military cooperation, Washington can put a grip on many Western countries, especially those in Europe.

As a member of the military group, Europe has been heavily impacted by the US in terms of defense policy and strategic decisions. As Washington has regarded Moscow as its foe and rival, it has exploited many European countries to contain and deter it. Today, NATO has become an instrument to maintain US’ military hegemony. NATO has set a target of 2 percent of a member state’s GDP to spend on defense. But many countries have failed to meet the target in the past several years, to the annoyance of the US. As a response to the Ukraine crisis, more countries vowed to raise spending to 2 percent. Furthermore, the US took advantage of the Ukraine crisis to sell more weaponry to Europe and ramp up its military deployment against Russia. It can be said that the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis has intensified Washington’s control over NATO members in Europe.

After the end of the Cold War, in a bid to prove the value and legitimacy of its existence, NATO has created various imaginary enemies and provoked regional conflicts many times, including the Ukraine crisis. Some experts said that the absolute security of NATO is the absolute insecurity of the rest of the world. With NATO’s eastward expansion, the bloc has intensified conflict with Russia and greatly suppressed its strategic space. This has worsened Russia-Europe relations and threatened the peace and stability of Eastern Europe. The pursuit of absolute security has indeed led to regional and global instability. French President Emmanuel Macron said in 2019 that NATO was experiencing “brain death.” On March 17, he told a press conference that he took “full responsibility” for what he said in 2019, but added that “Russia has just provided an electroshock … the awakening” with its military operations in Ukraine.

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Even the alt media in the west feel obligated to start a report like this with: “Amid overwhelming evidence that Russian forces have committed war crimes during an unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine.. “

Ukraine Journalist Finds Charred Remains Where War Crime Was Filmed (IC)

Amid overwhelming evidence that Russian forces have committed war crimes during an unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine, Ukrainian officials were confronted this week with video that appeared to show Ukrainian soldiers shooting captive Russian soldiers in the legs. Although Ukraine’s senior military leader and its domestic intelligence agency both insisted that the video posted on social networks on Sunday was “a fake” produced by Russia, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised that the government would investigate and punish those responsible if the incident did take place. On Monday, a well-known Ukrainian journalist, Yuri Butusov, published graphic video showing the charred remains of three men he identified as Russian soldiers, as Ukrainian forces recaptured the town of Malaya Rohan, outside Kharkiv, over the weekend.

Although Butusov made no mention of the video of the alleged war crime, a visual analysis of his footage shows that it was clearly filmed in the same location as the video of the prisoners being shot, some time after that incident. Reporting by open-source investigators and BBC News had already established that the video of the alleged war crime was recorded at a dairy processing plant in Malaya Rohan, which is about 3 miles east of Kharkiv. Multiple visual clues in Butusov’s video show that he discovered the burned bodies in precisely the same part of the dairy plant’s courtyard where, in the prior video, at least eight captives were filmed bleeding on the pavement, several with their hands bound behind their backs and bags over their heads.

According to Butusov, the editor of the Ukrainian news site Censor.net, he arrived in Malaya Rohan “a few hours after the battle” there. By that time, his footage shows, several of the buildings at the dairy factory had been partially destroyed by explosions or fire. Those same structures had not yet been damaged when the video showing the prisoners being shot was recorded.

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Durham won’t let go.

Fight With Clinton Campaign And DNC Looms In Sussmann Case (Pol.)

A looming legal battle could reveal new details about the decision by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign to commission a research project that produced a controversial dossier on Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. Prosecutors on special counsel John Durham’s team handling a criminal false-statement case against a top lawyer for Democratic causes, Michael Sussmann, indicated on Thursday that they planned to challenge claims of attorney-client privilege raised by the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign. The issue has lingered for years, with the Democratic groups claiming that the investigative firm that produced the dossier, Fusion GPS, did so as part of attorney-requested research related to potential litigation.

However, Durham’s prosecution of Sussmann, a former Perkins Coie partner, may bring the question to a head as prosecutors seek to call witnesses from the law firm and Fusion GPS. “It’s obviously a bit of a hornet’s nest,” defense attorney Sean Berkowitz said on Thursday during a pretrial hearing for Sussmann, who’s accused of lying to the FBI by denying he was working for any client when in September 2016 he brought FBI general counsel James Baker computer data that hinted at links between Trump entities and Russia. Berkowitz said that on Wednesday night, Durham’s team indicated that it planned to contest the privilege claims in the lead-up to Sussmann’s trial, set to open May 16 in Washington. The defense attorney denounced the prosecution’s move as “wildly untimely” and “an ambush that could change the entire parameter and focus of the case.”

“We’re very concerned about it,” Berkowitz told U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper. During a House Intelligence Committee investigation in 2017, Clinton campaign general counsel Mark Elias, a Perkins Coie attorney, testified — with permission from the DNC and the campaign — that he selected Fusion GPS to do research on Trump and individuals in his orbit. He said Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook approved the work, but wasn’t involved in picking the firm. But details of who in Clinton’s orbit knew about the sensitive project, handled primarily by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, remain murky. “We have had conversations and have been unable to get comfort as to the grounding and basis of various privilege theories,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew DeFilippis told the judge.

“These issues are unavoidable and we’ve been working for quite some time to get to the bottom of them.” DeFlippis didn’t delve into the details of the dispute during the hearing held by videoconference on Thursday, but he gave one example: He said the Clinton campaign was asserting privilege over communications of Rodney Joffe, a tech executive who compiled the data Sussmann shared with the FBI. The campaign has asserted the privilege even over messages it was not copied on, DeFelippis said. Durham’s team is, to some extent, shooting in the dark. DeFilippis signaled on Thursday that prosecutors didn’t know the details of much of the information they might want to bring up at Sussmann’s trial because those statements are redacted in documents the prosecution team has access to. “We don’t have insight into what’s under the redactions,” DeFilippis said.

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What use is denying at this point?

White House Stands By Biden’s Claim That Hunter Didn’t Profit Off China (WE)

The White House is standing by then-candidate Joe Biden’s October 2020 assertion that his son had not made money in China despite clear evidence that his son had received millions from Chinese businessmen.
When Kristen Welker of NBC News, who moderated the presidential debate in which Biden made the claim, asked White House communications director Kate Bedingfield on Thursday whether the White House stood by Biden’s debate comments that there was nothing unethical about Hunter Biden’s business dealings and that his son had not made any money in China, Bedingfield confirmed the White House would “stand by“ the statement. “We absolutely stand by the president’s comment, and I would point you to the reporting on this, which referenced statements that we made at the time that we gave to the Washington Post who worked on this story,” Bedingfield said.

“But as you know, I don’t speak for Hunter Biden, so there’s not more I can say on that.” But executives from the Chinese Communist Party-linked CEFC energy company “paid $4.8 million to entities controlled by Hunter Biden and his uncle,” James Biden, the Washington Post confirmed earlier this week following reporting by the Washington Examiner and others. New documents, which include “a signed copy of a $1 million legal retainer, emails related to the wire transfers, and $3.8 million in consulting fees that are confirmed in new bank records and agreements signed by Hunter Biden — illustrate the ways in which his family profited from relationships built over Joe Biden’s decades in public service,” the outlet said. Bedingfield was asked whether there had been discussions inside the White House about possible pardons for James or Hunter Biden, a possibility she dismissed as a “hypothetical” she wouldn’t address from the podium.

Welker had asked Joe Biden during the 2020 debate, “There have been questions about the work your son has done in China and for a Ukrainian energy company when you were vice president. In retrospect, was anything about those relationships inappropriate or unethical?” Joe Biden would then falsely deny his son had made money from China. “Nothing was unethical,” Joe Biden replied, arguing at length he had done no wrong during his son’s lucrative time on the board of Ukrainian energy giant Burisma, before adding, “My son has not made money in terms of this thing about — what are you talking about — China. I have not had it. The only guy that made money from China is this guy. He’s the only one. Nobody else has made money from China.”

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A nuclear power.

Pakistan Warns Of Foreign-backed Regime-change Attempt (M/P)

While the world’s attention is understandably focused on the crisis in Ukraine, equally grave developments are taking place elsewhere. Perhaps the most consequential – and underreported – is a regime-change operation underway in Pakistan. This March, opposition lawmakers in Pakistan’s parliament launched a “no-confidence” motion aimed at overthrowing Prime Minister Imran Khan. Khan, who was democratically elected in 2018, has warned that an “effort is being made to topple the government with the help of foreign funds in our country.” “Our people are being used. Mostly unknowingly, but some knowingly are using this money against us,” Khan said at a rally on March 27. He added that the government had proof of these payments. Khan argued that these external interests seek to reverse his independent foreign policy.

He recalled his predecessor Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani prime minister who was overthrown in a US-backed coup in 1977, then executed following a show trial. Bhutto was punished “when he tried to bring in a free foreign policy to the country,” Khan declared. Khan specifically singled out the United States for meddling to try to remove him from power. He said he received a letter from Washington that threatened him for refusing to allow it to establish US military bases in Pakistan. He cautioned that the opposition is collaborating with the United States and other foreign countries in its no-confidence motion against him. These warnings came just over a month after Khan publicly criticized the US government for cynically using Pakistan to advance Washington’s interests. He also simultaneously praised China for always acting as a “friend” of Islamabad.

“Whenever the US needed us, they established relations, and Pakistan became a frontline state [against the Soviet Union], and then abandoned it and slapped sanctions on us,” Khan complained. On the other hand, “China is a friend which has always stood by Pakistan,” he contrasted. The idea that a regime-change plot could even be conceived of, let alone attempted, in a nuclear-armed country of more than 220 million may seem shocking and preposterous. On the surface, it strikes as incredulous considering that Islamabad is a major world capital, arguably the most powerful within the Muslim-majority world. Nevertheless, it is precisely these characteristics that make Pakistan so geopolitically important. The following is an analysis of the principal reasons for why hostile foreign elites have decided that Prime Minister Imran Khan must go

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“..81 separate studies — involving a combined 128,000 participants — that demonstrated an average efficacy of 65% for several different outcomes..”

WSJ Misleads Public on Ivermectin, Ignores Revelations About ‘Hidden Author’ (CHD)

The Wall Street Journal on March 18 published an article with this headline: “Ivermectin Didn’t Reduce Covid-19 Hospitalizations in Largest Trial to Date.” Headline readers will easily reach the seemingly obvious conclusion: Drs. Anthony Fauci and Rochelle Walensky, along with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were right all along. However, for those who read beyond the headline and first few paragraphs, the story begins to morph. The headline clearly states the trial in question was the largest to date. However, this is not the case — as the article’s author, Sarah Toy, explains early in the piece:


“The latest trial, of nearly 1,400 Covid-19 patients at risk of severe disease, is the largest to show that those who received ivermectin as a treatment didn’t fare better than those who received a placebo.” This wasn’t the largest trial to date — it was only the largest trial to date among the subset of trials that have shown no benefit of ivermectin. Was this an oversight? Or was it a deliberate attempt to confuse the 42 million readers of The Wall Street Journal’s digital content? [..] Toy chose not to mention the 81 separate studies — involving a combined 128,000 participants — that demonstrated an average efficacy of 65% for several different outcomes. She also did not mention the 22 studies — involving nearly 40,000 people — around the outcome in question, hospitalization. Those studies showed an average efficacy of 39%.

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Apr 272021
 
 April 27, 2021  Posted by at 9:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  46 Responses »


Hieronymous Bosch The Haywain Triptych c.1516

 

India’s “Covid Crisis” Has Been Hijacked (DE)
China To Mobilise Its Private Companies To Help India Fight Covid-19 (SCMP)
US To Export AZ Vaccine As India Battles ‘Heartbreaking’ Covid Surge (Y!)
Bill Gates Says No To Sharing Vaccine Formulas With Global Poor (Salon)
Isreali Health Body Report On COVID Vax ‘Deadly’ Impacts (PSI)
Pakistan Deploys Troops To Help Authorities Cope With Covid-19 Infections (RT)
Germany’s New Lockdown Law Sparks Constitutional Court Complaints (RT)
The United States: Hardly A Recovery (Lacalle)
Biden Sees Majority Approval After 100 Days, But The Numbers Don’t Add Up (RT)
Biden’s Stimulus Checks “Wreck Labor Pool” As People Get Paid To Stay Home (ZH)
Joe Biden Declares War on Tax Havens – in Europe, Too (Spiegel)
US Pledges $300mn To Fund Massive Global Anti-China Media Machine (Fowdy)
US Deploying 650 Additional Troops to Afghanistan (Antiwar)
Chinese Experts To Join Fukushima Wastewater Working Group (RT)

 

 

Gun sales rise 35% in Q1 to a record 12,452,319

 

 

Yes, the media inevitably makes a spectacle out of it, fear sells. But even if “on the record breaking day for new infections in India just 0.02% of the population tested positive for Covid-19”, that’s still a lot of people. Who in many places live more closely together than westerners would be comfortable with, an ideal breeding ground for a virus. They wouldn’t be comfortable with a health-care system like India’s either. There are many sides to this story.

India’s “Covid Crisis” Has Been Hijacked (DE)

The Sun newspaper even released a video back at the end of January 2020 which was a compilation of people collapsing on the streets of Wuhan. The headline was ‘DISASTER ZONE – Coronavirus leaves Wuhan a ‘zombieland”. It is only with the benefit of hindsight that we can now be 100% certain this was done to deceive the public and whip up fear. The Guardian newspaper also released an article at the end of January 2020 of which the headline was ‘A man lies dead in the street: the image that captures the Wuhan coronavirus crisis’. How many people have you seen drop dead in your street due to having the alleged Covid-19 disease? We bet the answer is zero. So isn’t it curious to find that after over a year of nobody dropping dead in the street throughout the world, suddenly the public are being told it is happening again in India.

Curious because according to official figures the pandemic is no longer raging throughout the United Kingdom. Curious because according to official figures excess deaths in the UK have now dropped below the five-year average. Curious because authorities will still not grant the British people their former rights and freedoms even though it is no longer justified. So what better way to justify the continuation of medical tyranny than ramping up the fear of a new variant hitting the shores of the United Kingdom. Because make no mistake that is exactly what the authorities and mainstream media are doing right now with the constant propaganda on the “dire” situation in India and the potential threat of the new Indian variant. ‘Why India’s worsening Covid crisis is a dire problem for the world’ – this is another headline to an article released by ‘The Guardian’ newspaper.

Here’s the opening paragraph of the article – “The catastrophe unfolding in India appears to be the worst-case scenario that many feared from the Covid-19 pandemic: unable to find sufficient hospital beds, access to tests, medicines or oxygen, the country of 1.4 billion is sinking beneath the weight of infections.” That very paragraph alone is enough for us to uncover the barefaced lies within the current narrative that is being portrayed in the mainstream media. Let’s start with the fact that India has a population of 1.4 billion people. If we look at the number of daily positive tests for SARS-CoV-2 we can see that on the 24th April 2021, India recorded 349,691 positive tests. This equates to just 0.02% of the entire population of India testing positive for Covid on the 24th April 2021.

The 24th April has also been the highest day on record in India for the number of positive test results for SARS-CoV-2. Yet the mainstream media have said that “the country of 1.4 billion is sinking beneath the weight of infections”. They’re lying. The second thing to take into account is that India, for some strange reason has decided to ramp up its testing, and not just of people with symptoms either. They’re carrying out asymptomatic testing. Which test are they using? The PCR test of course. PCR tests look for genetic matter from the new coronavirus using amplification cycles. However, the number of amplification cycles that was needed to detect genetic matter from the virus, which is referred to as the cycle threshold, typically isn’t included in test results sent to doctors and patients.

Many coronavirus tests have fairly high cycle thresholds, with most set at 40 and some set at 37. That means a number of people who aren’t carrying much of the new coronavirus are still testing positive, even though they may not be contagious. You can read our full breakdown on the PCR test here. This means that there will be a huge number of false positives across India, even despite the fact more tests equals more cases. But we’ll say it again, on the record breaking day for new infections in India just 0.02% of the population tested positive for Covid-19.

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“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced on Saturday that it was waiving import duties on vaccines, oxygen and related equipment.”

Say what?

China To Mobilise Its Private Companies To Help India Fight Covid-19 (SCMP)

China has vowed to encourage its private companies to help India in its battle against a drastic surge in Covid-19 cases which has seen repeated daily global records of new infections and local media reports that patients are dying because of a lack of oxygen supplies. Wang Xiaojian, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in India, said the country had the firm support of China’s government and its people in the fight against the pandemic. “We will encourage and guide Chinese companies to actively cooperate with India to facilitate acquiring medical supplies, and provide support and help according to India’s need,” he said, in an embassy statement on Monday night.

In separate remarks, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China and India were in communication over the pandemic response, and that Beijing would provide materials, if requested by New Delhi. He also called on India’s fellow members of the Quad security alliance – Australia, the US and Japan – to provide assistance to the stricken country. “I hope these nations can jointly provide India and related countries with support and assistance within their capacity to fight the epidemic, and fulfil their due international responsibilities and obligations,” he said. Zhu Yongbiao, a professor of international relations at Lanzhou University, said China’s assistance was likely to include medical equipment, vaccine, prevention and treatment plans, depending on the Indian government’s request and the pandemic situation.

“China may also encourage and support Chinese-funded companies in India to provide assistance through non-governmental ways.” Chinese diplomatic missions to Sri Lanka and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific announced on Twitter that some 800 oxygen concentrators were delivered from Hong Kong to Delhi, with 10,000 more to be delivered in a week, following a statement from the Indian cargo airline SpiceXpress which airlifted the consignment. In a bid to boost supplies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced on Saturday that it was waiving import duties on vaccines, oxygen and related equipment.

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Did the FDA approve authorize it yet?

US To Export AZ Vaccine As India Battles ‘Heartbreaking’ Covid Surge (Y!)

The United States committed Monday to releasing up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, as India grapples with a catastrophic new surge in infections and severe medical shortages, with hospitals overwhelmed and crematoriums at capacity. The South Asian giant of 1.3 billion people recorded 352,991 new infections and 2,812 deaths on Monday – its highest levels since the pandemic began – as its Hindu-nationalist government comes under fire for allowing mass gatherings such as religious festivals and political rallies in recent weeks. But with its health system completely overwhelmed, Western countries are rushing to India’s aid – including the United States, which has come under fire for hoarding supplies including of the AstraZeneca vaccine, as other countries battle sprawling outbreaks.


“U.S. to release 60 million Astra Zeneca doses to other countries as they become available,” tweeted Andy Slavitt, senior advisor to the White House on Covid response. It was not immediately clear how many doses are ready to be shipped or where they will go, with Slavitt adding “at this time there are still very few available.” But President Joe Biden held a telephone call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, pledging his country’s “steadfast support for the people of India who have been impacted by the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.” The United States “is providing a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials and therapeutics,” Biden told Modi, according to a statement.

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“It’s not like there’s some idle vaccine factory, with regulatory approval, that makes magically safe vaccines.”

Uh, yes, there are many such facilities. The WHO has entire lists of them.

Bill Gates Says No To Sharing Vaccine Formulas With Global Poor (Salon)

Bill Gates, one of the world’s richest men and most powerful philanthropists, was the target of criticism from social justice campaigners on Sunday after arguing that lifting patent protections on COVID-19 vaccine technology and sharing recipes with the world to foster a massive ramp up in manufacturing and distribution — despite a growing international call to do exactly that — is a bad idea. Directly asked during an interview with Sky News if he thought it “would be helpful” to have vaccine recipes be shared, Gates quickly answered: “No.” Asked to explain why not, Gates — whose massive fortune as founder of Microsoft relies largely on intellectual property laws that turned his software innovations into tens of billions of dollars in personal wealth — said: “Well, there’s only so many vaccine factories in the world and people are very serious about the safety of vaccines.

“And so moving something that had never been done — moving a vaccine, say, from a [Johnson & Johnson] factory into a factory in India — it’s novel — it’s only because of our grants and expertise that that can happen at all.” The reference is to the Serum factory in India, the largest such institute in the country, which has contracts with AstraZeneca to manufacture their COVID-19 vaccine, known internationally as Covishield. The thing that’s holding “things back” in terms of the global vaccine rollout, continued Gates, “is not intellectual property. It’s not like there’s some idle vaccine factory, with regulatory approval, that makes magically safe vaccines. You know, you’ve got to do the trial on these things. Every manufacturing process needs to be looked at in a very careful way.”

Critical advocates for robust and immediate change to intellectual property protections at the World Trade Organization when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines, however, issued scathing indictments of Gates’ defense of the status quo. Nick Dearden, executive director of Global Justice Now, one of the lead partner groups in an international coalition calling for WTO patent waivers at a crucial meeting of the world body next month, characterized Gates’ remarks — and the ideological framework behind them — as “disgusting.” “Who appointed this billionaire head of global health?” asked Dearden. “Oh yeah, he did.”

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“..a high rate of massive vaginal bleeding, neurological damage, and damage to the skeletal and skin systems [..] Hypercoagulability (infarction), Myocardial infarction, stroke, miscarriages, impaired blood flow to the limbs, pulmonary embolism.”

Isreali Health Body Report On COVID Vax ‘Deadly’ Impacts (PSI)

The Israeli People Committee (IPC), a civilian body made of leading Israeli health experts, has published its April report into the Pfizer vaccine’s side effects.* The findings are catastrophic on every possible level. Their verdict is that “there has never been a vaccine that has harmed as many people.” The report is long and detailed. I will outline just some of the most devastating findings presented in the report. “We received 288 death reports in proximity to vaccination (90% up to 10 days after the vaccination), 64% of those were men.” Yet the report states, “according to data provided by the Ministry of Health, only 45 deaths in Israel were vaccine related.” If the numbers above are sincere then Israel, which claimed to conduct a world experiment, failed to genuinely report on its experiment’s results.

We often hear about blood clots caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine. For instance, we learned this morning about 300 cases of blood clots in of Europe. However, if the IPC’s findings are genuine, then in Israel alone the Pfizer vaccine may be associated with more deaths than AstraZeneca’s in the whole of Europe. “According to Central Bureau of Statistics data during January-February 2021, at the peak of the Israeli mass vaccination campaign, there was a 22% increase in overall mortality in Israel compared with the previous year. In fact, January-February 2021 have been the deadliest months in the last decade, with the highest overall mortality rates compared to corresponding months in the last 10 years.”

The IPC finds that “amongst the 20-29 age group the increase in overall mortality has been most dramatic. In this age group, we detect an increase of 32% in overall mortality in comparison with previous year.” “Statistical analysis of information from the Central Bureau of Statistics, combined with information from the Ministry of Health, leads to the conclusion that the mortality rate amongst the vaccinated is estimated at about 1: 5000 (1: 13000 at ages 20-49, 1: 6000 at ages 50-69, 1: 1600 at ages 70+). According to this estimate, it is possible to estimate the number of deaths in Israel in proximity of the vaccine, as of today, at about 1000-1100 people.” Again, if this statistical analysis is correct then the numbers reported by the Israeli health authorities are misleading by more than 22-fold.

[..] “There is a high correlation between the number of people vaccinated per day and the number of deaths per day, in the range of up to 10 days, in all age groups. Ages 20-49 – a range of 9 days from the date of vaccination to mortality, ages 50-69 – 5 days from the date of vaccination to mortality, ages 70 and up – 3 days from the date of vaccination to mortality.” The IPC also reveals that the “the risk of mortality after the second vaccine is higher than the risk of mortality after the first vaccine.” But death isn’t the only risk to do with vaccination. The IPC reveals that “as of the date of publication of the report, 2066 reports of side effects have accumulated in the Civil Investigation Committee and the data continue to come in.

These reports indicate damage to almost every system in the human body.…Our analysis found a relatively high rate of heart-related injuries, 26% of all cardiac events occurred in young people up to the age of 40, with the most common diagnosis in these cases being Myositis or Pericarditis.” “Also, a high rate of massive vaginal bleeding, neurological damage, and damage to the skeletal and skin systems has been observed. It should be noted that a significant number of reports of side effects are related, directly or indirectly, to Hypercoagulability (infarction), Myocardial infarction, stroke, miscarriages, impaired blood flow to the limbs, pulmonary embolism.”

Read more …

Pakistan is like India in many ways.

Pakistan Deploys Troops To Help Authorities Cope With Covid-19 Infections (RT)

As rising Covid-19 infections threaten to collapse Pakistan’s healthcare system, Islamabad has deployed troops across the country, with particular attention to 16 major cities, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. Soldiers “will go to every corner of Pakistan to ensure the protection of citizens,” military spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar told reporters on Monday, adding that the primary purpose of the deployment “is to help civil institutions and law enforcement agencies.” “In this testing time, the Pakistan Army will use all its capabilities to take every possible step for the protection of citizens and their lives.”

According to General Iftikhar, there are presently around 90,000 cases of Covid-19 in the country, with 4,300 people in critical condition, including 570 people on ventilators. Pakistan has been registering around 5,500 cases and 130 deaths per day, similar to the figures during the peak of the first wave in June 2020. Pakistan has around 220 million residents. The rate of positive tests has risen to “dangerous levels” of more than 5% in 51 cities, and even higher in 16 cities that will receive “enhanced deployment” of troops. Among these is the capital Islamabad, as well as Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur and Gujranwala in Punjab; Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh; Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera, Charsadda and Swabi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Quetta in Balochistan; and Muzaffarabad in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Doctors across the country hailed the move, with some even going so far as demanding arrests for those who fail to follow the prescribed measures. “Presently, we need strict enforcement of the precautionary measures as the hospitals, it seems, would soon be overwhelmed by patients,” said Dr. Javid Ali of the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, who called the army deployment the “right step at the right time.”

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Hard to understand why not much more of this is happening globally.

Germany’s New Lockdown Law Sparks Constitutional Court Complaints (RT)

Germany’s new law granting Berlin sweeping powers when it comes to imposing harsh Covid-19 restrictions has sparked a wave of indignation and prompted dozens of complaints filed with the Constitutional Court. A total of 65 complaints have been filed against the so-called Infection Protection Act to date, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe confirmed to the German media. A court spokesman also admitted that the real number of lawsuits could be higher since new ones are filed “all the time” and the court is not always able to process them in time. Some complainants also filed urgent motions asking the court to suspend the law, which came into force just two days ago, until a final decision is made.

Some suits were directed against the entire package of measures envisaged by the new law, while others focused on specific restrictions like the nighttime curfew that many Germans apparently see as unconstitutional. Most claims were reportedly filed by individual complainants, including several German MPs. One of them is Florian Post, a member of the Social Democratic Party – a junior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government coalition. Others include a Green MP, Canan Bayram, and a member of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, whose identity was not revealed. The Liberal Free Democrats also lodged a complaint against the law with the Constitutional Court on Monday afternoon.

The usually business-friendly party argued that the measures imposed by the law, such as the curfew and “other encroachments on fundamental rights,” are disproportionate and sometimes ineffective. It is not known when the court will pass its judgement on the issue. It is also unclear whether the claimants should first reach out to some lower-ranking courts before filing the lawsuits directly in Karlsruhe. The controversial law imposes binding restrictions on all German states and even individual communities as soon as they exceed a seven-day average infection rate of 100 cases per 100,000 people. The rules once again put severe limitations on private and public gatherings, as well as demanding that Germans stay home between 10pm and 5am [..]

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“It seems that governments want to convince us that they have saved the world when the reality is that the misguided lockdowns were the cause of the economic debacle and lifting them is the main cause of the recovery.”

The United States: Hardly A Recovery (Lacalle)

There is an overly optimistic consensus view about the speed and strength of the United States’ recovery that is contradicted by facts. It is true that the United States recovery is stronger than the European or Japanese one, but the macrodata shows that the euphoric messages about aggregate GDP growth are wildly exaggerated. Of course GDP is going to rise fast, with estimates of 6 percent for 2021. It would be alarming if it did not after a massive chain of stimuli of more than 12 percent of GDP in fiscal spending and $7 trillion in Federal Reserve balance sheet expansion. This is a combined stimulus that is almost three times larger than the 2008 crisis one, according to McKinsey. The question is, What is the quality of this recovery?

The answer is: extremely poor. The United States real growth excluding the increase in debt will continue to be exceedingly small. No one can talk about a strong recovery when industry capacity utilization is at 74 percent, massively below the level of 80 percent at which it was before the pandemic. Furthermore, labor force participation rate stands at 61.5 percent, significantly below the precovid level and stalling after bouncing to 62 percent in September. Unemployment may be at 6 percent, but it is still almost twice as large as it was before the pandemic. Continuing jobless claims remain above 3.7 million in April. Weekly jobless claims remain above 500,000 and the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs—state and federal combined—for the week ending March 27 decreased by 1.2 million to 16.9 million.

These figures must be put in the context of the unprecedented spending spree and the monetary stimulus. Yes, the recovery is better than the eurozone’s thanks to a fast and efficient vaccination rollout and the dynamism of the United States business fabric, but the figures show that a relevant amount of the subsequent stimulus plans have simply perpetuated overcapacity, kept zombie firms that had financial issues before covid-19 alive, and bloated the government structural deficit and mandatory spending.

Would the United States economy have recovered as fast as it has without the deficit-spending stimulus plans? Maybe. I believe so because the entire recovery, both in markets and the economy, has been driven by the vaccine news and the process of inoculation. Most of the programs that have been implemented have had a small impact compared to the reopening of the hospitality sector and the vaccinations. The entire economic crisis came from the lockdowns and the virus and the entire recovery is the reopening and the vaccinations.

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“Only Trump, with 42% approval, and Gerald Ford, with 48%, scored lower.”

Biden Sees Majority Approval After 100 Days, But The Numbers Don’t Add Up (RT)

A majority of Americans approve of Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, and the president has been treated to glowing media coverage. But behind the poll numbers might be a different story. Biden’s first 100 days in office have been busy. A slew of executive orders did away with nearly all of Donald Trump’s policies as the Democratic president opened up the country’s Mexican border, launched a bid for gun control and banned key fossil fuel projects. The coronavirus vaccine rollout continues at home, while internationally, Biden has hit Russia with economic sanctions and strained relations with Turkey by recognizing the Armenian genocide.

A majority of Americans agree with his progress thus far, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll published on Sunday, which found that 52% of adults say they approve of the job Biden is doing, while 42% disapprove, a near reversal of Trump’s ratings after his first 100 days. Biden scored highly – 63% – on his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and averagely – 52% – on his management of the US economy. However, 53% of respondents disapproved of his performance on immigration, as unprecedented numbers of illegal immigrants pour across the Mexican border. With the public apparently onside, some mainstream media outlets have taken to celebration. AP, for example, cheered on his efforts to “wrestle the country away from the legacy and agitations of President Donald Trump,” and praised his “unabashedly liberal” agenda.

Biden’s personality was celebrated too. “The temperature is lower. The drama is less. And the persona is fundamentally different,” AP wrote. Behind the media’s praise and the apparently positive poll figures, however, is a different story. Biden’s approval rating may be 10 points above Trump’s at this time in 2017, but it’s the third-lowest since Gallup began tracking approvals during the Harry S. Truman administration. Only Trump, with 42% approval, and Gerald Ford, with 48%, scored lower. [..] the poll oversampled Democrats by nine points. Some 33% of respondents identified as Democrats, 24% as Republicans, and 35% as independents. The remainder were either unsure or identified with minor parties. Previous research has found that political independents generally favor Democrats by four points, so with all of this taken into account, Biden’s true approval rating could be several points lower.

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Maybe the problem is that “entry-level pay” continues for many years in many fields.

Biden’s Stimulus Checks “Wreck Labor Pool” As People Get Paid To Stay Home (ZH)

There are new concerns that President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package is already harming the labor market recovery. While job openings and postings are increasing, there is an issue with the number of applications as labor participation currently stands at 61.4%, with an unemployment rate of 6.2%. People are not applying for jobs as they should be as they collect stimulus checks and enjoy a work-free lifestyle, all on the backs of taxpayers. There are many jobs available in manufacturing, trade and transportation, logistics, and the professional sector. But employers have difficulty sourcing workers. The latest comments from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City provide a chilling insight this month into the labor shortage developing at manufacturing firms across Denver, Oklahoma City, and Omaha:

“Stimulus and increased unemployment money are wrecking the labor pool. Lower-level employees are quitting to make just as much not working.” So, lower-level employees are making more money collecting stimulus checks and other handouts under the Biden administration. This was very similar when former President Trump dished out helicopter money during the early days of the pandemic. What this creates are more bottlenecks for the supply chain as labor becomes scarce. “It is very difficult to handle the increased business with supply chain issues across all materials and finding anyone who wants to work. The federal government has incentivized people to stay home and not be productive.”

Other employers report: “Unemployed workers have no incentive to return to work given the COVID bonus payments.” What this means is that entry-level pay will have to increase to get low-level workers off the couch. This will create more cost pressures for companies that will either be absorbed or pass onto the consumer. The Biden administration effectively destroys the labor market, resulting in significant repercussions for the real economy, such as a labor shortage that could stall the recovery.

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How can Joe avoid hurting his sposors?

Joe Biden Declares War on Tax Havens – in Europe, Too (Spiegel)

If you want to know why a company should have its headquarters in Ireland these days, the best place to ask is IDA Ireland, the government’s foreign direct investment agency based in Dublin. The Emerald Isle, their lobbyists rave, has a “great density of data centers.” It advertises the country’s large pool of young talent with above-average qualifications as well as international and innovative companies, ranging from Microsoft and Facebook to German corporations such as Allianz, Zalando and SAP. But when asked if perhaps the real attraction for investors is the extremely low corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent, the IDA declines to answer. For that, the agency says, it is best to contact Paschal Donohoe, the Irish finance minister and chair of the Eurogroup.

The man currently finds himself facing a problem that has become a concern for all of Europe. Since U.S. President Joe Biden presented his groundbreaking proposal for a global minimum tax on corporate profits, old rifts have ripped open again on the Continent. Whereas large member states such as Germany approve of the move, it would hit smaller EU members like Ireland, the Netherlands and Slovakia hard. For years, they have lured international corporations into their countries with the promise that they will be largely spared from the grasp of the domestic tax authorities. If the U.S. gets its way, that could be the end of it. Numerous EU countries would not only have to reckon with revenue losses in the billions, but also with the loss of corporate headquarters and thousands of jobs.

Countries like France or Italy, on the other hand, would feel vindicated. Out of anger with corporations like Amazon that have barely paid any taxes at all in Europe in recent years, they enacted their own digital taxes – and drew the ire of Donald Trump by doing so. The former U.S. president even threatened retaliatory tariffs on German cars, Italian cheese and French handbags. Now, the U.S. has performed a spectacular about-face – and raised difficult questions for the Europeans: How seriously must pledges from Brussels to fight tax evasion be taken? Would it just be the tax havens that have to reckon with losses or would they also be painful for large exporting countries like Germany? And, more importantly: Will the Europeans manage to find a common line with the U.S. in the tax negotiations that have been going on for years in the OECD club of industrialized nations?

Read more …

United States of Propaganda.

US Pledges $300mn To Fund Massive Global Anti-China Media Machine (Fowdy)

Chinese- and Russian-funded journalism is ‘disinformation,’ but when Washington spends millions on ‘independent’ news outlets and buying journalists to get favourable coverage of its policies, it’s called ‘spreading information.’ The US Senate last week passed a bumper anti-China bill titled the “Strategic Competition Act”. Backed by Chuck Schumer (Dem – New York) as one of his biggest priorities since becoming the Majority leader, the 270+ page document contains scores of recommendations and provisions on formalizing America’s “geopolitical competition” against Beijing, including in the fields of military, diplomacy, technology, trade and more. There’s little question it will be passed into law, having already cleared the Senate and with the anti-Chinese sentiment in Washington being routinely bipartisan.

The bill also notably pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in various capacities for media focused initiatives against China. This includes up to $300 million in an openly described effort to spread information on the “negative impact” of China’s $1 trillion-plus Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in participating countries, “anti-Chinese influence” programs, a scheme to “train journalists” with the goal of countering Beijing, and millions more in funding for Radio Free Asia to expand its coverage in the specified languages of Mandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan and Uighur. In short, it’s a mammoth propaganda push.

All the time, we hear so much about “Chinese/Russian propaganda,” “disinformation,” etc, and often its impact is depicted in highly threatening or sensational ways, yet rarely, if ever, is it reported how the west actively and openly engages in psychological warfare with the goal of changing politics and governments in targeted countries, all the while playing the perpetual victim. Here it is in the new US bill in black and white, as clear as crystal, yet few will balk or take notice at the explicitly ambitious effort to attempt to destabilize various regions of China, to promote unrest and, ideally, to “balkanize” the country. This, of course, is not new; it’s what America has always done.

[..] The US has a long history of such psychological warfare, both explicit and implicit. One of the most famous instances is what was revealed as Operation Mockingbird, where the CIA secretly infiltrated the mainstream media at home and abroad, collaborating with journalists to push US foreign-policy interests. Many journalists – including Pulitzer Prize winners – joined the CIA’s payroll, writing fake stories to disseminate the agency’s agitprop, and many were given falsified or fabricated information in support of the CIA’s mission. This was during the Cold War, but the program has never been officially discontinued, and why would it stop today in the wake of a new Cold War with China? The Strategic Competition bill clearly illustrates that Washington places primary importance on dominating the “global discourse” in accordance with its interests, and it is arguably very good at doing this through a multitude of methods.

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“US military leaders also want to maintain the ability to bomb Afghanistan and are eyeing repositioning forces in neighboring countries.”

US Deploying 650 Additional Troops to Afghanistan (Antiwar)

The US is deploying additional forces to Afghanistan over fears of Taliban attacks during the withdrawal process. Pentagon officials told CNN that the US is preparing to send about 650 troops to Afghanistan as part of the extra forces. The officials said the ground troops will mainly come from the US Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment and will be deployed with transport planes and aircraft that can provide air support such as AC-130 gunships. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved sending the Rangers last week along with the deployment of long-range B-52 bombers, two of which have already arrived in Afghanistan. He also ordered the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to stay in the Gulf region.

President Biden put US troops at risk of getting attacked by extending the May 1st deadline that was set by the US-Taliban peace deal. February 8th marked the first full year that no US troops died in combat in Afghanistan since the war started. Last week, the Taliban said it was “too early” to know if they will start attacking US and NATO forces after May 1st. Biden said he will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11th. On Sunday, Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said “local action” to prepare for the withdrawal has started and said the US will gradually hand over military bases to the Afghan government.

While Biden says he plans to leave, the US seems keen to maintain some sort of military presence in Afghanistan. It’s still not clear if contractors working for the Pentagon will leave with US combat troops. The US plans to continue supporting the Afghan military, which is almost entirely reliant on Pentagon contractors to maintain their equipment. US military leaders also want to maintain the ability to bomb Afghanistan and are eyeing repositioning forces in neighboring countries.

Read more …

“..the supposedly treated water still contains “dangerous levels of carbon-14,” a radioactive substance that has the “potential to damage human DNA.” The water is also known to contain radioactive tritium.”

Chinese Experts To Join Fukushima Wastewater Working Group (RT)

The Chinese foreign ministry has said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed to Beijing that it will be inviting its experts to join a working group on Japan’s disposal of nuclear waste into the ocean.
Speaking on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Beijing would continue to urge Japan to engage with the international community before dumping more than a million tons of nuclear wastewater from the defunct Fukushima power plant. “China will fully support the organization’s follow-up work, and Japan should earnestly meet the concerns of China and other stakeholders and the international community before launching the discharge of nuclear contaminated water,” Wang stated.


The spokesman said that the IAEA had confirmed to Beijing that it would be inviting Chinese experts to take part in a technical working group on the disposal of the supposedly treated wastewater. “China maintains close communication and coordination with the IAEA in this regard, and the agency is actively preparing for the establishment of related technical working groups,” he added. China and its neighbors have been highly critical of Tokyo after it was announced that wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant would be dumped into the ocean within a couple of years. The safety of the water has been questioned on many occasions despite years of treatment. Last year, Greenpeace reported that the wastewater from the plant was more dangerous than the Japanese government had suggested. The organization’s publication claims the supposedly treated water still contains “dangerous levels of carbon-14,” a radioactive substance that has the “potential to damage human DNA.” The water is also known to contain radioactive tritium.

Read more …

 

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Jun 102020
 


Banksy June 2020

 

WHO Walks Back Claim On Asymptomatic Transmission Of Coronavirus (RT)
Coronavirus Patients Most Infectious When They First Feel Unwell: WHO (R.)
WHO Urges Pakistan To Return To Lockdown As Hospitals Struggle (GH.)
California, Southwest Face New Coronavirus Woes As US Economy Reopens (R.)
Mexico’s Coronavirus Peak Still Weeks Off, 600 New Deaths In One Day (R.)
Widespread Mask-Wearing Could Prevent COVID19 Second Waves (R.)
DC National Guard Members Test Positive After Protests Response (McC)
Chicago Professor Removes Post That Appeared To Call For A Military Coup (Turley)
Tory Minister Says Eating Chlorinated Chicken Should Be Up To Consumer (Ind.)
World Faces Worst Food Crisis For At Least 50 Years – UN (G.)
ECB Prepares ‘Bad Bank’ Plan For Wave Of Coronavirus Toxic Debt (R.)
The Illusion of a Rapid US Recovery (Galbraith)
Misfortune vs. Carelessness (Ben Hunt)
Banksy Reveals Plan For Bristol’s Toppled Colston Statue (CB)

 

 

Worldometer has global new cases for June 8 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 121,751.

My count from about 6 am EDT to 6 am EDT is about + 125,033 cases.

The decrease we saw for a few days did not last. New deaths also rose from 2,599 yesterday back up to 5,032.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 19,056
• Brazil + 30,197
• Russia + 8,595
• India + 9,548
• Pakistan + 5,385

 

 

Cases 7,344,220 (+ 125,033 from yesterday’s 7,219,187)

Deaths 414,140 (+ 5,032 from yesterday’s 409,108)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The WHO keeps on piling on “mistakes”. If it isn’t China, it’s HCQ, and if not that, it’s asymptomatic patients.

WHO Walks Back Claim On Asymptomatic Transmission Of Coronavirus (RT)

The World Health Organization has qualified its bombshell claim that asymptomatic people rarely infect others with Covid-19, scrambling to explain how its earlier statement was misinterpreted and based on a “misunderstanding.” WHO coronavirus lead Maria Van Kerkhove attempted on Tuesday to clear up controversy around her previous claim that asymptomatic transmission was “very rare,” insisting she had been speaking based on the results of just “two or three” studies. To claim asymptomatic transmission is rare globally would be a “misunderstanding,” she explained.

“I was just responding to a question, I wasn’t stating a policy of WHO or anything like that,” she backpedaled, explaining that asymptomatic transmission estimates come from dubiously-accurate models. “That’s a big open question, and that remains an open question.” Some 16 percent of infected people may be asymptomatic, she said, citing studies – while some scientific models claim as much as 40 percent of global transmission may come from asymptomatic individuals. Given that sloppy disease modeling has been responsible for some of the most disastrous overreactions to the pandemic, Van Kerkhove’s reluctance to include these supposedly scientific speculations in the previous day’s briefing could be forgiven, but WHO emergency director Mike Ryan acknowledged his colleague’s words were likely “misinterpreted.”

[..] Harvard Global Health Institute had flat-out refused to accept Van Kerkhove’s claim, declaring “all of the best evidence suggests that people without symptoms can and do readily spread SARS-CoV-2” in a statement on Tuesday. The institute warned that “communicating preliminary data…without much context can have tremendous negative impact” on public and government responses to the pandemic, and indeed, Van Kerkhove’s comments had touched off a chain-reaction of second-guessing, pearl-clutching, and general existential crises among lockdown proponents as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases continues to climb.

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A.k.a. the exact moment they should start taking hydroxychloroquine.

Coronavirus Patients Most Infectious When They First Feel Unwell: WHO (R.)

Studies show people with the coronavirus are most infectious just at the point when they first begin to feel unwell, World Health Organization (WHO) experts said on Tuesday. This feature has made it so hard to control spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, but it can be done through rigorous testing and social distancing, they said. “It appears from very limited information we have right now that people have more virus in their body at or around the time that they develop symptoms, so very early on,” Maria van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist and technical lead on the pandemic, told a live session on social media. Preliminary studies from Germany and the United States suggest that people with mild symptoms can be infectious for up to 8-9 days, and “it can be a lot longer for people who are more severely ill”, she said.

Earlier, some disease experts questioned her statement on Monday that transmission of COVID-19 by people with no symptoms is “very rare”, saying this guidance could pose problems for governments as they seek to lift lockdowns. Van Kerkhove, citing disease-modelling studies, clarified on Tuesday that some people do not develop symptoms, but can still infect others. “Some estimates of around 40 percent of transmission may be due to asymptomatic (cases), but those are from models. So I didn’t include that in my answer yesterday but wanted to make sure that I made that clear,” she said.

Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies expert, said that the novel coronavirus lodges in the upper respiratory tract, making it easier to transmit by droplets than related viruses such as SARS or MERS, which are in the lower tract. “Now as we look at COVID-19, we have an infectious pathogen that is present in the upper airway for which the viral loads are peaking at the time you are just beginning to get sick,” he said. “That means you could be in the restaurant feeling perfectly well and start to get a fever, you are feeling ok, you didn’t think to stay home, but that’s the moment at which your viral load could be actually quite high,” he said.

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You try getting 212 million people on a second lockdown.

WHO Urges Pakistan To Return To Lockdown As Hospitals Struggle (GH.)

The World Health Organization has taken the unusual step of urging Pakistan to return to lockdown, suggesting the country implement restrictions in a cycle of two weeks on, two weeks off. While Pakistan has relatively low testing rates, one in four people who are tested return a positive result, the WHO said in a letter to Punjab’s provincial health minister, Yasmin Rashid. Prime Minister Imran Khan has resisted a national lockdown, arguing the country cannot afford it, and provinces have instead introduced patchwork lockdowns. Last week Khan said these would be lifted. But, with 108,317 known cases and 2,172 confirmed deaths, hospitals across the south Asian country say they are at or near capacity, with some turning Covid-19 patients away. Globally, the WHO confirmed the biggest ever one-day rise in confirmed cases this week, with 136,000 cases in 24 hours, according to director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Most were from south Asia and the Americas.


[..] Dr Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases expert in the US, warned on Tuesday the pandemic was “far from over,” and that he was surprised at how “rapidly it just took over the planet”. Speaking in a videotaped discussion at a Biotechnology Innovation Organization conference, Fauci said: “I mean, Ebola was scary. But Ebola would never be easily transmitted in a global way.” He added: “HIV, as important as it is, was drawn out over an extended period of time.” He warned that the world was still at the start of seeing the coronavirus pandemic’s effects. “Oh my goodness,” Fauci said. “Where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of it.” On Tuesday, 21 US states reported weekly increases in new cases. Arizona, Utah and New Mexico all posted rises of 40% or higher for the week ending Sunday, compared with the prior seven days, according to a Reuters analysis.

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“21 U.S. states reported weekly increases [..] Arizona, Utah and New Mexico all posted rises of 40% or higher for the week..”

California, Southwest Face New Coronavirus Woes As US Economy Reopens (R.)

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are spiking in parts of California and the U.S. Southwest, prompting Arizona to reactivate its emergency plan for medical facilities and California to place counties where half its population lives on a watch list. The uptick in cases, which could lead authorities to reimpose or tighten public health restrictions aimed at slowing the virus’ spread, complicates efforts to reopen the U.S. economy, which has been devastated by shelter-at-home rules. New Jersey, one of the states hit hardest by the pandemic, with over 12,000 deaths, lifted its stay-at-home order on Tuesday. More than 18 million of California’s 39 million residents live in counties now on the watch list, which includes Los Angeles, Santa Clara and Fresno, a Reuters analysis showed.


“Many of the cases that are showing up in hospitals are linked to gatherings that are taking place in homes – birthday parties and funerals,” said Olivia Kasirye, public health director of Sacramento County, one of the nine counties on the state watch list that may eventually require them to roll back reopening efforts. Arizona was among the first states to reopen in mid-May and its cases have increased 115% since then, leading a former state health chief to warn that a new stay-at-home order or field hospitals may be needed. According to a Reuters tally, there were 1,983,825 coronavirus cases in the United States and 111,747 deaths as of Tuesday. On Tuesday, 21 U.S. states reported weekly increases in new cases of COVID-19.

[..] Arizona, Utah and New Mexico all posted rises of 40% or higher for the week ended Sunday, compared with the prior seven days, according to a Reuters analysis. Some of the new cases are linked to better testing. But many stem from loosened public health restrictions that have allowed people to gather in groups and go inside stores to shop, said public health officers in two California counties. Health officials believe other cases have been passed along by people not following social-distancing recommendations. It is too soon to see whether cases will also spike after protests swept the country [..]

Read more …

“The government previously predicted the pandemic would peak in early May, and under U.S. pressure, has begun reopening its carmaking industry..”

Mexico’s Coronavirus Peak Still Weeks Off, 600 New Deaths In One Day (R.)

New coronavirus cases in Mexico are expected to keep rising, a top health official said on Tuesday, even as the government pushes a gradual reopening of the economy launched at the beginning of this month. “We still haven’t reached the maximum point,” Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell told a morning news conference. “For several more weeks, we will keep announcing there are more cases today than yesterday.” His assessment was largely echoed by officials from the World Health Organization and its Pan American Health Organization during a webcast news conference later in the day. While Mexico has yet to reach peak infections, they said, officials should boost testing before any wide-scale economic reopening and stick to safety measures, including social distancing.


Government figures released on Tuesday night showed nearly 600 deaths added to the official count as total infections rose to 124,301. Overall, reported deaths stood at 14,649. In recent weeks, Latin America has emerged as the epicenter of the pandemic, with a spike in cases even as the tide of infection recedes elsewhere. Mexican officials have gradually raised the projections of total fatalities and now forecast up to 35,000 deaths through October. A study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington last week forecast up to 75,516 deaths by August. The government previously predicted the pandemic would peak in early May, and under U.S. pressure, has begun reopening its carmaking industry, which has since been deemed essential. But plans to further relax social-distancing measures were put on hold as infection rates continued to rise.

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That this is studied at all tells you how insane the west is. Asians don’t waste money on that, they just wear them.

Widespread Mask-Wearing Could Prevent COVID19 Second Waves (R.)

Population-wide facemask use could push COVID-19 transmission down to controllable levels for national epidemics and could prevent further waves of the pandemic disease when combined with lockdowns, according to a UK study published Wednesday. The research, led by scientists at the Britain’s Cambridge and Greenwich Universities, suggests lockdowns alone will not stop the resurgence of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, but that even homemade masks can dramatically reduce transmission rates if enough people wear them in public. “Our analyses support the immediate and universal adoption of facemasks by the public,” said Richard Stutt, who co-led the study at Cambridge.

He said the findings showed that if widespread mask use were combined with social distancing and some lockdown measures, this could be “an acceptable way of managing the pandemic and re-opening economic activity” long before the development and public availability of an effective vaccine against COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. The study’s findings were published in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society A” scientific journal. The World Health Organization updated its guidance on Friday to recommend that governments ask everyone to wear fabric face masks in public areas where there is a risk to reduce the spread of the disease.

In this study, researchers linked the dynamics of spread between people with population-level models to assess the effect on the disease’s reproduction rate, or R value, of different scenarios of mask adoption combined with periods of lockdown. The R value measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass the disease on to. An R value above 1 can lead to exponential growth. The study found that if people wear masks whenever they are in public it is twice as effective at reducing the R value than if masks are only worn after symptoms appear. In all scenarios the study looked at, routine facemask use by 50% or more of the population reduced COVID-19 spread to an R of less than 1.0, flattening future disease waves and allowing for less stringent lockdowns.

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But the Dems like the protests! Stopping them would be interfering with the election!

DC National Guard Members Test Positive After Protests Response (McC)

Members of the D.C. National Guard who were responding to protests in the nation’s capital over the death of George Floyd have tested positive for COVID-19, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday. The service members were part of the 1,300 D.C. National Guard members called up to help law enforcement respond initially to rioting on May 31, that was followed by days of peaceful protests. A Guard spokeswoman did not identify how many positive tests the unit has recorded. “We can confirm that we have had COVID-19 positive tests with the DCNG,” said D.C. National Guard spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Brooke Davis. “The safety and security of our personnel is always a concern, especially in light of the COVID-19 era.”


The news follows reports that two members of the Nebraska National Guard who were activated in response to protests in Lincoln, Neb., have also tested positive. The D.C. National Guard was supported by approximately 3,900 additional Guardsmen from Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah to protect national monuments and ensure peaceful demonstrations as tens of thousands of protesters took to district streets last week. In the largest protest Saturday, participants squeezed past each other, some with masks, some not, as they chanted and sang near the White House.

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“Trump is Hitler” died about 3 years ago. The MSM have brought it back.

Chicago Professor Removes Post That Appeared To Call For A Military Coup (Turley)

Figures from Glenn Greenwald to Tucker Carlson have raised the recent posting by University of Chicago Professor Brian Leiter saying that military leaders should “depose” President Donald Trump and jail him. The posting was either a poor attempt at a coup or comedy. The real problem is that in today’s environment it was unclear and, worse yet, unremarkable. On Reddit, readers were directed to “Brian Leiter (UoC professor) calls for a military coup: “Trump should be deposed and jailed” Leiter removed the statement and blamed the lack of a sense of humor on those who objected. He was not calling for a coup d’état, just musing about the possibility of a coup d’état.

On his site, Leiter discussed the criticism of Trump by General Mattis and stated that Mattis now “needs to encourage his military colleagues who share his respect for American democracy and the rule of law to do what he should have done while in office: Trump should be deposed and jailed.” Leiter later removed the statement with an addendum reading: “I’ve removed my little joke about a military coup in favor of VP Pence. I have, it appears, more faith in the U.S. military, and its commitment to the rule of law, than most readers.” The incident however raises a more concerning problem. Many could not tell. It is now routine for academics to make sweeping and irresponsible statements about how to deal with Trump and his Administration.

This is not a reference to the distortion of the criminal code to declare a host of criminal acts that are unsupportable under controlling case law. It is superheated rhetoric of professors denouncing the Trump Administration as a fascist regime and even endorsing violent protests as a form of speech. Harvard Professor Lawrence Tribe retweeted a comparison of Trump to Hitler engaging in similar gestures and calling it “horrifying,” He later took done the tweet and said “I’m not saying Trump is becoming Hitler, so don’t bother tweeting the distinctions.” Many are still making the comparison. Indeed, I have had other professors make the same comparison in conversations.

A professor who said that he teaches a course on fascism insisted that the comparison to fascism is apt and that violence is warranted, including the attack on journalist Andy Ngo: “I don’t have a problem with it. There are children dying of lack of medication in concentration camps in the U.S. If one fascist gets a milkshake thrown at him… And beaten up. I don’t have a problem with it.” This is why people do not get the joke because many academics are not joking. Indeed, we have discussed cases where faculty have been physically attacked and intimidated.

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Let them eat shit.

Tory Minister Says Eating Chlorinated Chicken Should Be Up To Consumer (Ind.)

A minister has stoked fears that low-welfare American meat could soon be on its way to British supermarkets and cafeterias after suggesting that the government would “trust the consumer” on whether to buy it or not. In the latest exchange in parliament on the issue, Cabinet Office minister Penny Mordaunt refused to say a ban would remain on chlorinated chicken, hormone-fed beef and other US imports after an upcoming trade deal with Donald Trump. The minister said she believed “we should be trusting the consumer” on the issue and suggested some people did not want to “put their faith in government” regulations. Despite the talk of consumer choice, in reality many meat products, such as in restaurants, hospitals, and school cafeterias, do not have a country of origin label, making it impossible for consumers to differentiate.

Where such labelling does currently exist, the US also regards it as an illegitimate barrier to its exports and pushes to have the practice banned as part of trade agreements it signs with other countries. US negotiators have made clear that opening the door to American agricultural exports, which are produced to much lower welfare standards than their European counterparts, is their primary demand in talks with the UK. While the government’s own best-case scenario shows an agreement with the US would lead to a tiny boost to the UK economy of just 0.16 per cent of GDP, failing to sign such a deal would be highly politically embarrassing for Boris Johnson, who has presented such an arrangement as part of the alternative to EU membership.

[..] As recently as January, Theresa Villiers, then environment secretary, reiterated that “we will not be importing chlorinated chicken” – but since then US trade chiefs have put pressure on the UK to change its position, leading the government to change tack. American meat factories use chlorine to wash chickens so that they can operate a less sanitary production environment otherwise, an approach which saves money and allows them to undercut other producers. [..] If US food exports do make it to the UK, British consumers may be denied information about which products are American to help them get a foothold in the market. The US government’s “Foreign Trade Barriers” document for 2019 catalogues policies in countries around the world the US wants ended.

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We now blame the virus for everything. Next up: corona causes climate change.

World Faces Worst Food Crisis For At Least 50 Years – UN (G.)

The world stands on the brink of a food crisis worse than any seen for at least 50 years, the UN has warned as it urged governments to act swiftly to avoid disaster. Better social protections for poor people are urgently needed as the looming recession following the coronavirus pandemic may put basic nutrition beyond their reach, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said on Tuesday. “Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults,” he said. “We need to act now to avoid the worst impacts of our efforts to control the pandemic.”

Although harvests of staple crops are holding up, and the export bans and protectionism that experts feared have so far been largely avoided, the worst of the impacts of the pandemic and ensuing recession are yet to be felt. Guterres warned: “Even in countries with abundant food, we see risks of disruption in the food supply chain.” About 50 million people risk falling into extreme poverty this year owing to the pandemic, but the long-term effects will be even worse, as poor nutrition in childhood causes lifelong suffering. Already, one in five children around the world are stunted in their growth by the age of five, and millions more are likely to suffer the same fate if poverty rates soar.

Guterres laid out a three-point plan to repair the world’s ailing food systems and prevent further harm. These are: to focus aid on the worst-stricken regions to stave off immediate disaster, and for governments to prioritise food supply chains; to strengthen social protections so that young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and other at-risk groups – including children who are not receiving school meals in lockdown – receive adequate nutrition; and to invest in the future, by building a global recovery from the pandemic that prioritises healthy and environmentally sustainable food systems.

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The ECB is there ONLY for the banks, not at all for anyone else. The bad bank issues bonds with bad loans as collateral, banks buy those, and hand them to the ECB as … collateral. Circle jerk.

“The bad bank would then issue bonds which commercial banks would buy in exchange for portfolios of unpaid loans, neutralising the virus shock for Europe’s lenders. The banks could then lodge those bonds with the ECB as collateral for central bank funding.. “

ECB Prepares ‘Bad Bank’ Plan For Wave Of Coronavirus Toxic Debt (R.)

European Central Bank officials are drawing up a scheme to cope with potentially hundreds of billions of euros of unpaid loans in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The project, which comes as Europe mobilises trillions of euros to bolster the region’s economy, is aimed at shielding commercial banks from any second fallout from the crisis, if rising unemployment chokes off the income needed to repay loans. One of the people familiar with the plan said the ECB had set up a task force to look at the idea of a “bad bank” to warehouse unpaid euro debt and that work on the scheme had accelerated in recent weeks. The amount of debt in the euro zone that is considered unlikely to ever be fully repaid already stands at more than half a trillion euros, including credit cards, car loans and mortgages, according to official statistics.

That is set to rise as the COVID-19 outbreak squeezes borrowers and could even double to one trillion euros, weighing on already fragile banks and hindering new lending, the people familiar with the ECB plans said. While the idea for a euro zone bad bank was discussed and shelved over two years ago, the ECB, under its new President Christine Lagarde, has consulted banks and EU officials about a scheme in recent weeks, one of the people said. As the euro zone’s most powerful institution, ECB backing for the project is critical but it would also require the blessing of Germany, the bloc’s biggest economy. Berlin has long opposed schemes that accept shared responsibility for debts in other countries although it recently had an unexpected change of heart, agreeing to pool EU borrowing for a coronavirus recovery fund.

One blueprint under discussion would involve the European Stability Mechanism, an EU institution which can provide financial assistance to euro zone countries or lenders, standing in as guarantor for the bad bank, the people said. The bad bank would then issue bonds which commercial banks would buy in exchange for portfolios of unpaid loans, neutralising the virus shock for Europe’s lenders. The banks could then lodge those bonds with the ECB as collateral for central bank funding, one of the people said. Major European commercial banks could be called on to join forces to underpin the scheme, the second person said.

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There are calls for Jay Powell to stop supporting the stock markets, because he’s helping Trump.

The Illusion of a Rapid US Recovery (Galbraith)

Furman, Krugman, and the CBO share a mental model. They regard the pandemic as an economic shock, like an earthquake or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It is a disruption to a solid structure, a deviation from normal growth. To get America moving again, what is mainly needed is confidence, perhaps aided by stimulus. If consumers channel their pent-up demand into new spending, this “shock-stimulus” model dictates, then businesses will revive investment, and soon enough, all will be well once again.This is how mainstream center-left economists and policymakers have thought about recessions and recoveries since at least the 1960s, when President John F. Kennedy and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, pushed through tax cuts. But it ignores three major changes in the US economy since then: globalization, the rise of services in consumption and employment, and the impact of personal and corporate debts.

In the 1960s, the US had a balanced economy that produced goods for both businesses and households, at all levels of technology, with a fairly small (and tightly regulated) financial sector. It produced largely for itself, importing mainly commodities. Today, the US produces for the world, mainly advanced investment goods and services, in sectors such as aerospace, information technology, arms, oilfield services, and finance. And it imports far more consumer goods, such as clothing, electronics, cars, and car parts, than it did a half-century ago. And whereas cars, televisions, and household appliances drove US consumer demand in the 1960s, a much larger share of domestic spending today goes (or went) to restaurants, bars, hotels, resorts, gyms, salons, coffee shops, and tattoo parlors, as well as college tuition and doctor’s visits.

Tens of millions of Americans work in these sectors.Finally, American household spending in the 1960s was powered by rising wages and growing home equity. But wages have been largely stagnant since at least 2000, and spending increases since 2010 were powered by rising personal and corporate debts. House values are now stagnant at best, and will likely fall in the months ahead. Mainstream economics pays little attention to such structural questions. Instead, it assumes that business investment responds mostly to the consumer, whose spending is dictated equally by income and desire. The distinction between “essential” and “superfluous” does not exist. Debt burdens are largely ignored.

But demand for many US-made capital goods now depends on global conditions. Orders for new aircraft will not recover while half of all existing planes are grounded. At current prices, the global oil industry is not drilling new wells. Even at home, though existing construction projects may be completed, plans for new office towers or retail outlets won’t be launched soon. And as people commute less, cars will last longer, so demand for them (and gasoline) will suffer.Faced with radical uncertainty, US consumers will save more and spend less. Even if the government replaces their lost incomes for a time, people know that stimulus is short term. What they do not know is when the next job offer – or layoff – will come along.

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“To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”
-Oscar Wilde, “The Importance of Being Earnest”

Misfortune vs. Carelessness (Ben Hunt)

Back in 2013 – in some of my very first Epsilon Theory notes – I wrote about how unemployment data was chronically misreported during Barack Obama’s first term, with an outrageous bias towards making the employment news flow in the United States look much better in narrative than it was in fact. [..] the skinny is this: for a period of some years in the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis, initial unemployment claims were systematically undercounted. Amazingly enough, this systematic misreporting in unemployment data stopped after Obama was re-elected for a second term.

Was this an intentional act of malfeasance and corruption by the Obama-era Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), who at the time weren’t even responsible for collecting the weekly initial unemployment claims data? Nope. Did the Obama-era BLS recognize the systematic error and direction of bias in the initial unemployment claims data? Absolutely. Could the Obama-era BLS have fixed the systematic error and direction of bias in the initial unemployment claims data if they had wanted to? In a heartbeat.

It’s exactly the same thing with the Trump-era Bureau of Labor Statistics and the reporting of weekly and monthly employment data. The measurement error we’ve seen in the monthly jobs report – and keep in mind that it is exactly the SAME ERROR being made for the past THREE MONTHS – is not an intentional mistake. But the failure to correct these errors – the conscious effort required to allow known and obvious errors to persist and create a market-moving and election-moving cartoon – well, I think that IS intentional.

Accidents happen. Misfortune occurs. Mistakes are made. But when the same accident happens over and over again, in exactly the same way and with exactly the same bias … What’s happening with the Bureau of Labor Statistics – and of course it’s not only the Bureau of Labor Statistics – is an intentional carelessness. It is an intentional, political carelessness that supports status quo cartoons of control, regardless of which political party happens to be championing the status quo today. It’s not a Democrat thing and it’s not a Republican thing. It’s a power thing.

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I see a global industry emerging.

Banksy Reveals Plan For Bristol’s Toppled Colston Statue (CB)

Protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been taking place across the world over the last few weeks, after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. In one of the most symbolic images from this weekend’s protests, the statue of 18th century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol, and pushed into the harbour. As debate rages over whether the statue should be reinstated, left in the harbour, or pulled out and put in the city’s museum, the mysterious Bristol-based street artist Banksy has proposed a solution (below) to keep “everyone happy”. He suggests putting the statue back on its plinth, but with the addition of other life-size statues of the protestors pulling it down.

“What should we do with the empty plinth in the middle of Bristol? Here’s an idea that caters for both those who miss the Colston statue and those who don’t. We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protestors in the act of pulling him down. Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated.”

Read more …

 

 

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Jun 052020
 


DPC On the beach, Coney Island 1907

 

After Pakistan’s Lockdown Gamble, COVID19 Cases Surge (R.)
Most COVID-19 Cases In BC Have Strains From Europe And Eastern Canada (CBC)
Authors Retract Influential Lancet Article That Found HCQ Risks (R.)
ECB Gives Another Shot Of Stimulus As Economy Reels (R.)
Japan’s Household Spending Falls At Record Pace As Virus Stalls Economy (R.)
China Can’t Take Over US Security Presence in SE Asia: Singapore PM (SCMP)
US Schools Lay Off Hundreds Of Thousands, Setting Up Lasting Harm To Kids (R.)
Medical Martial Law: Liberalism’s Final Capitulation (Pear)
Trump Fires Back At Critics Murkowski, Mattis And Kelly (JTN)
Rosenstein Slams McCabe, Obstruction Theories, 1000 Former Prosecutors (Turley)
The Hunt For The Origins Of The Russia Collusion Narrative (JTN)

 

 

Seen a whole new bunch of utterly sickening videos again. As I said a few days ago, nothing has changed with policing in the US other than that now everyone has a camera.

But i don’t think it’s much use to post all that mindless violence here.

 

 

Worldometer puts global new cases for June 4 at + 129,990. A new record. The increase in cases warrants much more attention than it gets.

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 22,406
• Brazil + 31,890
• Russia + 8,831
• India + 9,908
• Chile + 4,664
• Pakistan + 3,895
• Mexico + 4,442

 

 

New daily highs in Covid-19 cases and deaths for India, Brazil, South Africa, and Mexico.

Another 20,000+ cases and another 1,000+ dead in the United States.

 

 

Worldometer puts global new deaths for June 4 at + 5,499.

 

 

 

 

 

Cases 6,724,096 (+ 127,595 from yesterday’s 6,596,501)

Deaths 393,553 (+ 5,132 from yesterday’s 388,421)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

A curious initiative.

 

 

Taleb principles

 

 

Pakistan may be more inclined towards lifting a lockdown due to its poverty, but the cost will in the end almost certainly be much higher because of it, both in economic terms and in lives.

After Pakistan’s Lockdown Gamble, COVID19 Cases Surge (R.)

Four weeks ago, with its most important festival coming up and millions of people facing starvation as economic activity dwindled, Pakistan lifted a two-month-long coronavirus lockdown. Prime Minister Imran Khan has said despite rising infections and deaths, the country would need to learn to “live with” the virus to avert pushing tens of millions living on daily wages into destitution. Now, a Reuters review of government data shows over 20,000 cases of the virus were identified in the three weeks before the lockdown was lifted, and more than double that figure were identified in the three weeks since. To be sure, testing rates have also increased. But of those tested, the daily average of positive results climbed from on average 11.5% in the three weeks before the lockdown was lifted, to 15.4% on average in the subsequent three weeks.

The ratio is around 23% this week, according to the data. Pakistan has officially identified over 80,000 cases of COVID-19, with 1,770 confirmed deaths. “Those numbers are concerning, since they do suggest there may still be widespread transmission in certain parts of the country,” said Claire Standley, assistant research professor at the Department of International Health at Georgetown University. [..] According to a letter seen by Reuters, a committee of experts backed by the local health department in Pakistan’s most populous province, Punjab, told the provincial government the lockdown needed to continue. The letter said random testing suggested more than 670,000 people in the provincial capital Lahore had likely contracted the virus, many of them asymptomatic.


Pakistan lifted its lockdown on May 9, about two weeks before the Eid al-Fitr festival that marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and is celebrated with family gatherings and feasting. Transport and most businesses have re-opened but cinemas, theatres and schools remain closed. There has been growing debate among experts globally on whether populous developing nations can afford comprehensive social distancing measures to contain the coronavirus while avoiding economic ruin.

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Very useful research, albeit a bit too localized.

Most COVID-19 Cases In BC Have Strains From Europe And Eastern Canada (CBC)

Strains traced to Europe and Eastern Canada are by far the largest source of COVID-19 infections in B.C., according to new modelling presented by the provincial government Thursday. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry revealed the results of genomic tracing of different strains of the virus, showing that of those samples that have been sequenced, early cases linked to travel from China and Iran appear to have been well contained, leading to relatively few other infections. But beginning in March, with an outbreak that began with the Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver, infections with strains from Eastern Canada and Europe spiked dramatically.

“One of the people that we knew was positive and had attended that conference had previously been in Germany during his incubation period before he became ill,” Henry said. Strains traced to Washington state have also been linked to a large number of cases, particularly in long-term care homes in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. Henry explained that this kind of tracing is possible because the genome of the virus changes relatively quickly, but not as fast as diseases like influenza. She also announced nine new confirmed cases of the virus on Thursday, for a total of 2,632 to date. No new deaths have been recorded, leaving B.C.’s total at 166.


The new cases announced Thursday include four people who have already recovered, people that Henry described as epidemiologically linked to previous patients who have tested positive. This means these four people were close contacts of known cases and developed symptoms of COVID-19, but may not have had access to testing at the time.

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As I commented yesterday: when they say they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources”, that means they never could, because they never had access to the data or the sources. We know this because it’s not as if either has dramatically changed since publication, or they would have mentioned it.

Authors Retract Influential Lancet Article That Found HCQ Risks (R.)

An influential medical journal article that found hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of death in COVID-19 patients was retracted on Thursday, adding to the controversy around a drug championed by U.S. President Donald Trump. Three of the authors of the article retracted it, citing concerns about the quality and veracity of data in the study. The anti-malarial drug has been controversial in part due to support from Trump, as well as implications of the study published in British medical journal the Lancet last month, which led several COVID-19 studies to be halted. The three authors said Surgisphere, the company that provided the data, would not transfer the dataset for an independent review and that they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”


The fourth author of the study, Dr. Sapan Desai, the chief executive of Surgisphere, declined to comment on the retraction. [..] Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that relied on Surgisphere data and shared the same lead author, Harvard Medical School Professor Mandeep Mehra, was also retracted for the same reason. The observational study published in the Lancet on May 22 said it looked at 96,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, some treated with the decades-old malaria drug. It claimed that those treated with hydroxychloroquine or the related chloroquine had higher risk of death and heart rhythm problems than patients who were not given the medicines.

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The idea: save the banks so they can lend money at higher rates than they borrow at from the ECB. Utterly crazy and useless.

ECB Gives Another Shot Of Stimulus As Economy Reels (R.)

Just months after a raft of crisis measures, the ECB again expanded its money-printing scheme to cushion a potential fall in output of up to 12% this year, even as governments spend record amounts to preserve jobs while restrictions keep businesses shuttered. “The euro area economy is experiencing an unprecedented contraction,” ECB President Christine Lagarde said. “There has been an abrupt drop in economic activity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken to contain it.” The ECB’s move, coming just weeks after Germany’s Constitutional Court tried to curb its powers, was also seen as an act of defiance, with one of the European Union’s most powerful institutions making clear it would not take orders from national courts.

Thursday’s decision extended the ECB’s emergency bond purchase scheme to mid-2021 and increased it by 600 billion euros to 1.35 trillion euros. That should allow the bank to buy up most of the new debt euro zone governments are issuing to overcome the pandemic. Three sources told Reuters that figure was a compromise after policymakers discussed an expansion of between 500 billion and 750 billion euros. Markets rallied on the decision, with bond yields on the bloc’s periphery tumbling, suggesting the measures would give a bigger boost to nations such as Italy and Spain, both hit hard by the pandemic and struggling with high debt levels.


Ten-year Italian yields fell by 14 basis points, but perhaps more importantly the gap between Italian and German bonds, a key benchmark, narrowed by 16 basis points. The ECB’s bond purchases come on top of big German spending plans and an ambitious European Union fiscal package, pointing to the biggest coordinated effort in the euro’s 20-year history. ECB staff dramatically revised downward their baseline scenario for euro zone output this year to a contraction of 8.7% from the modest 0.8% rise they forecast only in March.

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After ten years of Abenomics failure, here comes deflation again. Only now Abe can blame a virus.

Japan’s Household Spending Falls At Record Pace As Virus Stalls Economy (R.)

Japan’s household spending fell at the fastest pace on record in April as the coronavirus shut down travel and dining-out in the world’s third-largest economy, and prospects of higher jobs losses chilled consumer sentiment. The dismal number will keep policymakers under pressure to prevent a larger decline in the economy, which is expected to fall deeper into recession this quarter. Household spending tumbled 11.1% in April from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday, marking the fastest pace of decline since comparable data became available in 2001. The decline was slower than a median forecast of a 15.4% fall and followed March’s 6.0% decline.

Many analysts expect consumption to have bottomed out in April or May, as businesses re-open after last month’s lifting of nationwide lockdowns. But any rebound will be slow and fragile, as companies and households remain wary of spending, they say. “Unless effective vaccines are developed, a strong recovery cannot be expected for the foreseeable future,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute. Friday’s data showed some winners and losers. Spending on bars, plane tickets, hotels and amusement parks tanked by around 90% as households were forced to stay home, the data showed.


On the other hand, stay-home policies boosted spending on pasta by 70%, instant noodles by 43% and sanitary goods like face masks by 124%, it showed. Overall, however, an expected rise in job losses and the hit to household sentiment from the pandemic will weigh on consumption, analysts say. “A lot of people are out of work and couldn’t look for jobs during lockdowns in April. Wages are likely to fall too, which will weigh on consumption,” said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. “Japan’s economy will rebound in July-September if there’s no renewed spike in infections. Even so, it may take until 2023 or 2024 for the economy to return to pre-COVID levels.”

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“Any confrontation between these two great powers is unlikely to end as the Cold War did, in one country’s peaceful collapse..”

China Can’t Take Over US Security Presence in SE Asia: Singapore PM (SCMP)

The US security presence “remains vital to the Asia-Pacific region,” and China would be unable to take over that role in Southeast Asia even with its increasing military might, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said. In an article published by Foreign Affairs on Thursday, Lee wrote that China’s competing maritime and territorial claims in the South China Sea meant that countries in the region will “always see China’s naval presence as an attempt to advance those claims”. He also wrote that many Southeast Asian nations are “extremely sensitive” about perceptions that China has influence on their sizeable ethnic Chinese minorities.

“Despite its increasing military strength, China would be unable to take over the United States’ security role,” he wrote, adding that a US withdrawal in North Asia would compel Japan and South Korea to contemplate developing nuclear weapons to counter North Korea’s growing threat. Lee’s article comes as tensions between the US and China continue to escalate, with the world’s biggest economies sparring on everything from 5G networks to the South China Sea to responsibility for the Covid-19 pandemic. Singapore has been one of the most outspoken countries in Asia calling for the US and China to avoid a destructive clash that would force smaller countries to choose sides.


“Asia-Pacific countries do not wish to be forced to choose between the United States and China,” Lee wrote, echoing comments he’s made previously. “They want to cultivate good relations with both.” Lee warned that if the US tried to contain China, or if Beijing sought to build an exclusive sphere of influence in Asia, the two countries “will begin a course of confrontation that will last decades and put the long-heralded Asian century in jeopardy”. “Any confrontation between these two great powers is unlikely to end as the Cold War did, in one country’s peaceful collapse,” he wrote.

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You mean worse damage to kids than the school system itself inflicts? I’d say it’s a toss-up at best.

US Schools Lay Off Hundreds Of Thousands, Setting Up Lasting Harm To Kids (R.)

In April alone, 469,000 public school district personnel nationally lost their jobs, including kindergarten through twelfth-grade teachers and other school employees, a Labor Department economist told Reuters. That is more than the nearly 300,000 total during the entire 2008 Great Recession, according to a 2014 paper by three university economists financed by the Russell Sage Foundation. The number of public school teachers hasn’t recovered from that shakeout, reaching near-2008 levels only in 2019. Multiple school district administrators, public officials and teaching experts have warned that the current school personnel job loss will last for years, hurting the education of a generation of American students. It also could be a drag on economic recovery, for one thing because school districts are big employers.

The Labor Department reported on May 8 that 20.5 million non-farm workers lost jobs in April, including 980,000 government workers. Of those, 801,000 were local government employees. Although the Labor Department report does not break out the number, 469,000 of the 801,000 local government workers were K-12 public school teachers and other school personnel, the department economist told Reuters. School districts in poor areas face the most punishing blows. A Brookings Institution paper in April predicted that education layoffs “would come at the worst possible time for high-poverty schools, as even more students fall into poverty and need more from schools as their parents and guardians lose their own jobs.”


Low-income districts are particularly troubled because of plunging revenue amid the Covid-19 recession. Districts rely for revenue on local property taxes and state subsidies. Poorer districts, where property tax revenue is low, rely on states for most of their income. With states hit hard by falling income and sales taxes, aid to school districts is dwindling in many places. [..] April was an especially cruel month for education. The Labor Department report said that in addition to the 469,000 K-12 personnel, state-run colleges and universities laid off 176,000 professors and other employees. Private schools, including well-known colleges and universities and K-12 private schools, were down by 457,000.

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Don’t choose sides. There is only one.

Medical Martial Law: Liberalism’s Final Capitulation (Pear)

Liberals elected Barack Obama in 2008, laughed, cheered, cried, and then they went to sleep for eight years. They thought that Obama would do the heavy lifting for them. Instead he went from bombing three countries to bombing seven, after winning the Nobel Peace Prize for nothing. Obama looked the other way as the Police Occupied Zuccotti Park, Black Lives Didn’t Matter, and Dakota Pipelined. Obama imprisoned and tortured whistleblowers, and he became the deporter-in-chief. He bailed out the banks, while millions of families lost their homes. Obamacare enriched insurance companies and big-pharma. Gitmo stands as the legacy of Obama’s droning wedding parties and funerals, and for all his broken promises. His answer to climate change was Artic drilling, and fracking the USA.

Obama and the liberal class are the reason we have Trump. The rich do not care about any of the liberal class’s identity politics and correctness. It costs the rich nothing to make those concessions. The liberals are not willing to fight for anything of importance, and the corporatists know it. The corporatists don’t care if Trump or Biden is the next president. Bernie or bust! Fugget about it: Bernie Sanders is just a sheepdog, a foil, a professional wrestler, and Kabuki theater. Bernie is the Senator from Lockheed and Israel. He is a carnival huckster, herding the liberal suckers into the big tent. The DNC will be happy to keep Trump. They get to keep their jobs, their power, their influence, and the gravy train keeps on rolling.


Nancy Pelosi will still get her kicks from gourmet chocolate, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will keep making arm-waving rants to an empty House, Ilhan Omar will kowtow to the Zionist lobby, and the Congressional Black Caucus will vote against blacks. Liberals will grandstand politically correct platitudes, while the banks, corporations, military-industrial complex, Israel, and the well-connected get unlimited hand-outs. Lest I forget, fake liberal Rachel Maddow and her ilk in the media will still get paid $30 thousand a night for “Russia-Russia-Russia!”, and the New York Times will endorse every regime-change war, just as it has done for the past 150 years. And Liberals will commiserate with each other, preach to their dwindling choir, blame everybody except themselves, and waste another four years without organizing any opposition.

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Much ado about nothing at all. Clickbait.

Trump Fires Back At Critics Murkowski, Mattis And Kelly (JTN)

President Trump on Thursday unleashed Twitter attacks against former Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Chief of Staff John Kelly and sitting Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, pledging to see the latter unseated during her next election. Trump said he will campaign against Murkowski and endorse a candidate who challenges her. Earlier on Thursday, Murkowski said that she is “struggling” with whether to support the president in the upcoming election. “Few people know where they’ll be in two years from now, but I do, in the Great State of Alaska (which I love) campaigning against Senator Lisa Murkowski. She voted against HealthCare, Justice Kavanaugh, and much else,” Trump tweeted.


“Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don’t care, I’m endorsing. If you have a pulse, I’m with you!” Trump also tweeted the text of a note in which his former attorney John Dowd excoriated James Mattis, the former Defense Secretary who on Wednesday issued a scathing rebuke of the president. The president urged people to read the note that Dowd wrote lambasting Mattis. “Perhaps, your anger is borne of embarrassment for your own failure as the leader of Central Command,” Dowd said to Mattis in the note.

And Trump’s former Chief of Staff John Kelly did not escape the president’s fiery criticism on Thursday either. The Washington Post quoted Kelly disputing Trump’s claim that he fired Mattis and requested his resignation. “The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation,” Kelly said. “The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened or is confused. The president tweeted a very positive tweet about Jim until he started to see on Fox News their interpretation of his letter. Then he got nasty. Jim Mattis is an honorable man.” Trump lobbed several tweets about Kelly, including one in which he said Kelly “was totally exhausted by the job, and in the end just slinked away into obscurity.”

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Rosenstein has resolved not to go quiet.

Rosenstein Slams McCabe, Obstruction Theories, 1000 Former Prosecutors (Turley)

Yesterday, we did our first live blogging on a hearing with former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. There was a lot of broken china after the hearing was over. Indeed, the most interesting aspect was that some of the greatest damage for the Democratic narrative occurred during ill-considered questions from Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., HI) who elicited a series of answers supporting the Trump Administration and the purpose of further hearings. Rosenstein ultimately supported the need for further investigations into FBI misconduct, supported the Durham investigation, categorically dismissed claims that Trump committed obstruction of justice, and most importantly stated that he would not have signed off on the continued surveillance under the FISA for Carter Page if he knew the truth about claims of Russian collusion.

That was just a few of the highlights. He also dismissed objections from former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and the “1000 prosecutors” who were so widely cited as claiming that there was clear criminal conduct by Trump. The most important moment came at the beginning of Rosenstein’s testimony when he acknowledged that there were serious flaws and misconduct involved in the Russian investigation and that, if he knew then what he knows now, he would have put a stop to it, including refusing to sign off on the continued of the FISA surveillance on Page. He also repeatedly said in contradiction to the Democratic senators that he believed that there was a need for further investigation and that much more needs to be known about what occurred, including the source of “disinformation” in the Steele dossier and whether Steele was used by Russian intelligence and other sources for nefarious purposes.


On the investigation of U.S. Attorney John Durham, Rosenstein repeatedly endorsed the need to look into the entire Russian investigation and added “Attorney General Barr is trusting US attorney Durham to do that. I think that’s a reasonable decision.” Rosenstein also acknowledged that we still need to know more about the disinformation and that an investigation is warranted on the Steele dossier and other related issues.

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And now come the rest. Everyone but Obama and Biden. But that won’t save them.

The Hunt For The Origins Of The Russia Collusion Narrative (JTN)

Hollywood once gave us the Cold War thriller called “The Hunt for Red October.” And now the U.S. Senate and its Republican committee chairmen in Washington have launched a different sort of hunt made for the movies. Armed with subpoenas, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., want to interrogate a slew of Obama-era intelligence and law enforcement officials hoping to identify who invented and sustained the bogus Russia collusion narrative that hampered Donald Trump’s early presidency. And while Graham and Johnson aren’t exactly Sean Connery and Alex Baldwin, they and their GOP cohorts have a theory worthy of a Tom Clancy novel-turned-movie: The Russia collusion investigation was really a plot by an outgoing administration to thwart the new president.

[..] For much of the last two years, the exact theory that congressional Republicans held about the bungled, corrupt Russia probe — where collusion between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin was ultimately disproven and FBI misconduct was confirmed — was always evolving. But after explosive testimony this week from former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who openly accused the FBI of keeping him in the dark about flaws, failures and exculpatory evidence in the case, the GOP believes it may prove the Russia case was a conspiracy to use the most powerful law enforcement and intelligence tools in America to harm Trump.

[..] “There are millions of Americans pretty upset about this,” Graham said this week. “There are people on our side of the aisle who believe this investigation, Crossfire Hurricane, was one of the most corrupt, biased criminal investigations in the history of the FBI. And we’d like to see something done about it.” Graham tried to take action to approve 50-plus subpoenas from the Senate Judiciary Committee to witnesses on Thursday but was forced to delay a week. Johnson, meanwhile, successfully secured about three dozen subpoenas to get documents and interviews with key witnesses from his Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.


Evidence is growing, Johnson said, that there was not a “peaceful and cooperative” transition between the Obama and Trump administrations in 2017. “The conduct we know that occurred during the transition should concern everyone and absolutely warrants further investigation,” he said. With Rosenstein’s testimony now behind them, the senators have some lofty targets for interviews or testimony going forward, including fired FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, ex-CIA Director John Brennan, and the former chiefs of staff for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Read more …

 

 

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Obama, Biden And Democratic Party Desperately Try To Co-Opt Protest. They Think We’re Stupid!

 

 

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Sep 022018
 
 September 2, 2018  Posted by at 9:16 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Salvador Dali Portrait of Picasso 1947

 

Is The US Economic Boom Beginning To Fizzle Out? (Coppola)
Former Eurogroup Head Dijsselbloem Says Demands On Greeks Were Too Heavy (R.)
The IMF Abetted The European Union’s Subversion Of Greek Democracy (Mody)
Ethiopia Debt Woes Curtail China Funding (R.)
May Vows No Compromise With EU On Brexit Plan (BBC)
Pentagon Cancels Aid To Pakistan Over Record On Militants (R.)
Monsanto-Bayer: Eliminating The Name Will Not Erase The Criminal History (CD)
What’s Happening To Our Weather? The Answers Are Hiding In Arctic Air (G.)

 

 

Bit short today. I think because all the focus is one two funerals I don’t care much about. In one, a bishop grabs boobs, in the other the one person not invited gets all the attention.

Is that a surprise?

Is The US Economic Boom Beginning To Fizzle Out? (Coppola)

President Trump is not going to be too happy with the New York Fed’s latest nowcast for Q3 2018. The staff projection, based upon the latest data, shows annualized quarter-on-quarter GDP growth slowing to 2% per annum. At the end of 2017 it was 4%, and even at the end of Q2 it was 3%.

The Atlanta Fed’s nowcast, which calculates GDP growth in the same way as the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, also shows GDP growth slowing in Q3, though from a higher level. The Atlanta Fed’s growth estimate for Q3 is 4.1%. President Trump will no doubt be happy with this, but not so happy with the fact that at the beginning of August the estimate was 5%.

So what has gone wrong? Why are the nowcasts suggesting that U.S. economic growth is beginning to slow? The indicators that go into the NY Fed’s nowcasts have been gradually turning red for some time now. There appears to be something of a downturn going on in the housing market; both new starts and sales have fallen. Exports have fallen and imports have risen, apparently because of worsening terms of trade, most likely due to the strong dollar. Most recently, manufacturers have drawn down inventories, and there is a fall in orders and shipments for durable goods. There are no dramatic drops, but it all adds up to a gradual economic slowdown.

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How long have you realized this, Jeroen, and what have you done to repair it?

Former Eurogroup Head Dijsselbloem Says Demands On Greeks Were Too Heavy (R.)

Euro zone countries have asked for too much from the Greek people in return for international bailout loans, former Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said in an interview on Dutch television on Saturday. “On reforms, we have asked a lot from the Greek people, too much,” Dijsselbloem told current affairs program Nieuwsuur. “Reforms are hard enough to accomplish in a society with a well-functioning government, but this was obviously not the case in Greece.” Greece emerged from the biggest bailout in economic history on Aug. 20, after receiving 288 billion euros in financial aid since 2010, with the European Union as its biggest lender.

During the crisis, the Greek economy shrank by a quarter, pushing a third of the population into poverty and driving thousands to move abroad. “Greece is obviously not a success story,” Dijsselbloem said. “Their crisis has been so deep, that you can’t call it a success.” Dijsselbloem chaired the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers from 2013 until the beginning of 2018, and led dozens of lengthy emergency meetings during which bailouts for Greece, Cyprus and the Spanish banking sector were grudgingly pieced together.

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Sister act.

The IMF Abetted The European Union’s Subversion Of Greek Democracy (Mody)

European authorities never allowed a conversation around the core imperative of reducing Greece’s debt burden. Syriza formed a government on January 25, 2015. On January 31, Erkki Liikanen, governor of Finland’s central bank and, in that capacity, a member of the ECB’s Governing Council, threatened that the ECB would stop funding Greek banks if the Greek government did not agree to the terms of the creditors. And on February 4, the ECB decided Greece’s fate. In an aggressive move that took everyone by surprise, the ECB cut off funding to Greek banks, preemptively immobilizing the Greek government before it could begin negotiations with its creditors.

The ECB withdrew an earlier arrangement under which Greek banks used their government bonds as collateral (security) to obtain funds for running their day-to-day operations. Although Greek government bonds had a junk rating and normally only higher-rated bonds qualified as collateral, the ECB had waived that requirement to help the banks stay afloat. With its February 4 decision, the ECB revoked that waiver. Greek banks could now borrow only from the Greek central bank under an Emergency Liquidity Arrangement (ELA); ELA funds carried a higher interest rate and, moreover, could be turned off at any time, thus choking the Greek financial system.

Stock prices of Greek banks fell sharply, and two days later, the rating agency S&P pushed the government bonds’ rating further into junk territory. With continuing deposit flight from Greek banks and the threat of a financial meltdown, the Syriza government rapidly lost all leverage before it could use its economic argument in a political negotiation.

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More Belt and Road.

Ethiopia Debt Woes Curtail China Funding (R.)

Ethiopia has been lauded by experts from China’s ruling Communist Party as a “model country” in Beijing’s $126 billion Belt and Road initiative to build rail, road and sea links tying China to Eurasia and Africa. But as the Horn of Africa nation of 100 million people faces debt distress, there are signs that China, a major creditor, is slowing financing to Ethiopia as doubts grow over the profitability of some infrastructure projects there. “The intensifying repayment risks from the Ethiopian government’s debt reaching 59 percent of GDP is worrying investors,” China’s mission to the African Union in Addis Ababa said on its website in July.

It said that Chinese investment in the country was cooling and that the China Export and Credit Insurance Corp was reducing the scale of its investment there. Against a backdrop of rising worry over African indebtedness to China, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will visit Beijing for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which starts on Monday. He is due to meet Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and is expected to court investment from Chinese firms into Ethiopia’s agro-industrial and pharmaceutical businesses, China’s Xinhua news agency said. Ethiopia has been a top destination for Chinese loans in Africa, despite its lack of natural resources, with state policy banks extending it more than $12.1 billion since 2000, according to the China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington (SAIS).

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Not your call, Theresa.

May Vows No Compromise With EU On Brexit Plan (BBC)

Theresa May has insisted she will not be forced into watering down her Brexit plan during negotiations with the EU. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the prime minister says she will “not be pushed” into compromises on her Chequers agreement that are not in the “national interest”. But Mrs May also warns she will not “give in” to those calling for a second referendum on the withdrawal agreement. She says it would be a “gross betrayal of our democracy and… trust”. The People’s Vote, a cross-party group including some MPs, is calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal. The UK is on course to leave the EU on 29 March and the government had previously ruled out another referendum.

The prime minister writes that the coming months are “critical in shaping the future of our country”, but that she is “clear” about her mission in fulfilling “the democratic decision of the British people”. She adds that following the Chequers agreement in July – which led to the resignation of two cabinet ministers – “real progress” has been made in Brexit negotiations. While there is more negotiating to be done, Mrs May writes: “We want to leave with a good deal and we are confident we can reach one.” The government has been preparing for a no-deal scenario, even though this would create “real challenges for both the UK and the EU” in some sectors, she says. But the PM adds: “We would get through it and go on to thrive.”

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Just as they’ve voted in Imran Khan, who once suggested he might order the shooting down of U.S. drones if they entered Pakistani airspace, [and] has opposed the United States’ open-ended presence in Afghanistan.

Pentagon Cancels Aid To Pakistan Over Record On Militants (R.)

The U.S. military said it has made a final decision to cancel $300 million in aid to Pakistan that had been suspended over Islamabad’s perceived failure to take decisive action against militants, in a new blow to deteriorating ties. The so-called Coalition Support Funds were part of a broader suspension in aid to Pakistan announced by President Donald Trump at the start of the year, when he accused Pakistan of rewarding past assistance with “nothing but lies & deceit.” The Trump administration says Islamabad is granting safe haven to insurgents who are waging a 17-year-old war in neighboring Afghanistan, a charge Pakistan denies. But U.S. officials had held out the possibility that Pakistan could win back that support if it changed its behavior.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in particular, had an opportunity to authorize $300 million in CSF funds through this summer – if he saw concrete Pakistani actions to go after insurgents. Mattis chose not to, a U.S. official told Reuters. “Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy the remaining $300 (million) was reprogrammed,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said. Faulkner said the Pentagon aimed to spend the $300 million on “other urgent priorities” if approved by Congress. He said another $500 million in CSF was stripped by Congress from Pakistan earlier this year, to bring the total withheld to $800 million. The disclosure came ahead of an expected visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the top U.S. military officer, General Joseph Dunford, to Islamabad. Mattis told reporters on Tuesday that combating militants would be a “primary part of the discussion.”

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8,000 lawsuits. And Bayer is not a US company, big difference.

Monsanto-Bayer: Eliminating The Name Will Not Erase The Criminal History (CD)

Cancelling out Monsanto’s name and keeping only that of Bayer, does not mean forgetting the wrongdoings of a company which, according to the verdict of the Monsanto Tribunal of The Hague, is stained with crimes of ecocide. With Bayer’s official takeover of Monsanto, the giant multinational also inherits its liabilities. On the eve of the start of the integration process, Monsanto has been held liable for causing cancer through the use of its glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup and ordered to pay $289 million of damages to the plaintiff Dewayne Lee Johnson in the first landmark case, settled in California in mid August 2018. The jury also found that Monsanto “acted with malice or oppression.”

According to Reuters, the number of lawsuits brought against Bayer’s newly acquired Monsanto is approximately 8000 in the US alone. UN experts Ms Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food and Mr. Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health, defined the ruling “a significant recognition of the human rights of victims, and the responsibilities of chemical companies.” Revelations in reports published last year, most notably the “Monsanto Papers” and the “Poison Papers“, have shed light on strategies of big agrochemical groups to expand their empires: from lobbying, interference in government agencies’ proceedings, attacks in collusion with institutions on independent science, to mega mergers and acquisitions.

For the first time part of these documents were shown to a jury, which were able, among other things to also see that, “at least starting 20 years ago, Monsanto has known that their product can cause cancer, and has gone out of its way to ignore it and/or fight any science that suggests a link”, as declared to Democracy Now by Brent Wisner, the lead trial counsel for Dewayne Lee Johnson in his lawsuit against Monsanto. Added to this, in the same week, California’s Supreme Court rejected a challenge by Monsanto to the state’s decision to include glyphosate in its Proposition 65 list of carcinogens.

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How clean is the air?

What’s Happening To Our Weather? The Answers Are Hiding In Arctic Air (G.)

I am standing on the ocean. Ahead of me, the world is split into two perfect halves: blue sky above, white sea ice below. The view is clean and simple, but a continuous waltz of swirling and shunting is hidden inside those two colours: the inner workings of the Arctic engine. This place is special for many reasons, and to appreciate one of the most unusual all I need to do is to live; to breathe. The air is -2C, but the air coming from my lungs is invisible. The familiar wisps of cold breath that I associate with crisp winter air in Britain are absent. They cannot form here. And that anomaly is connected in a fundamental way to our presence here, on a scientific expedition to study this environment. For two months, the Swedish icebreaker Oden is home to 74 of us, living and working at the top of the world to tap into the stories that the blue and the white have to tell.

The Arctic has held on to its mystique for centuries. Many western explorers have pitted their wits, strength, and endurance against this environment, while traditional Arctic communities have learned to work with the complexities of the ice rather than against them. Those of us who live well south of the Arctic circle hear a lot about how the white in the north is changing, but less about how it is. It’s hard to construct a secondhand mental image of what it’s like here. There are no landmarks and you cannot step in the footprints of the past. This is an ocean with an icy shell that cracks and shifts as it’s pushed by the wind, breaking apart into separate floes or piling up to form ridges.

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Aug 102018
 
 August 10, 2018  Posted by at 8:05 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  15 Responses »


John French Sloan Sunset, West Twenty-Third Street 1905-6

 

The Myth Of Market Cap (Berversdorf)
The Looming Threat of a Yuan Depreciation (Magnus)
Russia Blasts New US Sanctions As ‘Theatre Of The Absurd’ (G.)
US Curbs On Russian Banks Would Be Act Of Economic War – Medvedev (R.)
US Must Turn to Russia to Contain China (Rickards)
Pakistan Is On The Brink Of Economic Disaster (CNBC)
Tesla Board Plans To Tell Elon Musk To Recuse Himself (CNBC)
US, EU Laying Groundwork For New Trade Deal (CNBC)
US Judge Orders Deportation Plane Turnaround (BBC)
Germany Inks Deal With Spain To Return Registered Migrants (AFP)
New Zealand To Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags (AFP)

 

 

Apple does record buybacks. Amazon invests in becoming a better company.

Hadn’t heard from Thad Beversdorf for quite a while. Good to see you, my friend!

The Myth Of Market Cap (Berversdorf)

Why do CEO’s distribute cash to secondary market speculators? These speculators haven’t provided any capital to the balance sheet and haven’t added to the income statement or cash flow statement of the companies they are speculating on. So why do CEO’s spend so much effort and capital appeasing them? Market cap is the benchmark by which a company distributes cash (i.e. div yield). But market cap, as determined in the secondary markets, is a theoretical asset that doesn’t generate revenue, profit or cash flow for the firm. Meaning cash payments are tied to an ‘asset’ that has no relevance to a firm’s operations. Paying dividends against an non-producing asset i.e. market cap that generates no return for the company is incredibly destructive.

There becomes a dangerous disconnect between the return on capital the company raised/invested and the cash distribution. In this sense, market cap is a massive hindrance to the firm’s capacity for productive investment as capital is eaten up paying out against an asset that hasn’t generated any return. The destructive force of this connect is exacerbated by the stock buy backs whose sole purpose is to drive market cap higher. And for what benefit? What does a higher market cap or a higher valuation do to improve the operation and long term success of the business? Historically market cap was a represenation of operational performance and expected future growth but it has now become the objective. Apple’s numbers are mediocre. But they are distributing $110 billion in cash this year so it doesn’t matter.

They hit a trillion dollar market cap. That puts its price-to-sales in line with Amazon, which has a 3 year revenue growth rate 7x higher than Apple’s (32% vs. 4.5%). Amazon’s growth rate continues to accelerate while Apple actually lost overall marketshare dropping from second largest to the third largest seller of smartphones, something that hasn’t ever happened. And so why would a firm that is losing marketshare not be putting its capital to work? The proof is in the pudding. Amazon doesn’t distribute cash to speculators. It attracts speculators by driving expected future growth. The rest of the market is attracting speculators by paying them cash. In effect, CEO’s are investing in market cap today rather than growth tomorrow. The result is that Amazon is in a league of its own, trouncing incumbants in any sector it enters because it invests in being better.

The moral of the story is that when market cap becomes the objective of capital rather than a representation of productive capital allocation, productive investment is replaced with financial investment. When market cap is being driven by something other than expected future growth derived from productive investment it is coming at the cost of expected future growth due to lack of productive investment. Read that again.

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The netire region depends on China to a huge degree.

The Looming Threat of a Yuan Depreciation (Magnus)

When the Asian financial crisis occurred 20 years ago, many nations in East and Southeast Asia succumbed because they were following inconsistent domestic and international economic and financial policies. But one trigger was the 50% fall in the Japanese yen against the dollar between the end of 1995 and the summer of 1998 amid the American stock market’s bull run that lasted until 2002. Fast forward to today, and the dollar is on a roll again, thanks to a strong economy and tensions between its fiscal and monetary policies. Higher U.S. interest rates and a stronger dollar are already raising debt interest costs for Asian borrowers, but this time the falling Chinese yuan looms as a proximate cause of trouble.

Asia’s vulnerability to developments in U.S. financial markets has been widely noted. It is true that unlike the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998, most countries in the region have stronger foreign exchange reserves. They are better positioned when measured against important indicators such as months of import cover, short-term debt and foreign debt ratios. Most Asian countries have current account surpluses, and even those with deficits, such as India, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines do not look overly challenged. But while the sensitivity to shocks is lower than it was 20 years ago, there is no cause for complacency. And there is still a potential spoiler, the yuan, which is now under downward pressure, but which was an agent of calm in the last Asian crisis.

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The US wants access to Russian facilities. Sure. They’re going to see OK, if we get access to yours.

Russia Blasts New US Sanctions As ‘Theatre Of The Absurd’ (G.)

Russian officials reacted with outrage and markets slumped on Thursday morning following the announcement of tough new US sanctions over Russia’s alleged use of a nerve agent in the Salisbury attack. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the sanctions were “absolutely unlawful and don’t conform to international law”, as politicians vowed to respond with countermeasures, which could include bans on the exports of rockets or resources for manufacturing. “The theatre of the absurd continues,” tweeted Dmitry Polyanskiy, first deputy permanent representative of Russia to the UN. “No proofs, no clues, no logic, no presumption of innocence, just highly-likelies. Only one rule: blame everything on Russia, no matter how absurd and fake it is. Let us welcome the United Sanctions of America!”

A member of the Duma’s foreign affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, said Russia could block exports of RD-180 rocket engines to the US as a potential countermeasure, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. The United States announced on Wednesday that it would impose restrictions on the export of sensitive technology to Russia because of its use of a nerve agent in the attempted murder of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain. The State Department said the new sanctions would come into effect on 22 August and would be followed by much more sweeping measures, such as suspending diplomatic relations and revoking Aeroflot landing rights, if Russia did not take “remedial” action within 90 days.

Moscow is not expected to agree to the response required by US legislation, which includes opening up Russian scientific and security facilities to international inspections to assess whether it is producing chemical and biological weapons in violation of international law.

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Russia is losing patience.

US Curbs On Russian Banks Would Be Act Of Economic War – Medvedev (R.)

Russia would consider any U.S. move to curb the operations of Russian banks or their foreign currency dealings a declaration of economic war, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday. The United States announced a new round of sanctions on Wednesday targeting Russia that pushed the rouble to two-year lows and sparked a wider sell-off over fears Russia was locked in a spiral of never-ending sanctions. Separate legislation introduced last week in draft form by Republican and Democratic senators proposes curbs on the operations of several state-owned Russian banks in the United States and restrictions on their use of the dollar.

Medvedev said Moscow would take economic, political or other retaliatory measures against the United States if Washington targeted Russian banks. “I would not like to comment on talks about future sanctions, but I can say one thing: If some ban on banks’ operations or on their use of one or another currency follows, it would be possible to clearly call it a declaration of economic war,” said Medvedev. “And it would be necessary, it would be needed to react to this war economically, politically, or, if needed, by other means. And our American friends need to understand this,” he said, speaking on a trip to the Russian Far East.

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Someday people will recognize how well Russia is coping with all the nonsense.

US Must Turn to Russia to Contain China (Rickards)

Vladimir Putin stands accused in the media and global public opinion of rigging his recent reelection, imprisoning his political enemies, murdering Russian spies turned double-agent, meddling in Western elections, seizing Crimea, destabilizing Ukraine, supporting a murderous dictator in Syria and exporting arms to terrorist nations like Iran. At the same time, the country of Russia is more than Mr. Putin, despite his authoritarian and heavy-handed methods. Russia is the world’s 12th-largest economy, with a GDP in excess of $1.5 trillion, larger than many developed economies such as Australia (No. 13), Spain (No. 14) and the Netherlands (No. 18). Its export sector produces a positive balance of trade for Russia, currently running at over $16 billion per month.

Russia has not had a trade deficit in over 20 years. Russia is also the world’s largest oil producer, with output of 10.6 million barrels per day, larger than both Saudi Arabia and the United States. Russia has the largest landmass of any country in the world and a population of 144 million people, the ninth largest of any country. Russia is also the third-largest gold-producing nation in the world, with total production of 250 tons per year, about 8% of total global output and solidly ahead of the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Russia is highly competitive in the export of nuclear power plants, advanced weaponry, space technology, agricultural products and it has an educated workforce.

Russia’s government debt-to-GDP ratio is 12.6%, which is trivial compared with 253% for Japan, 105% for the United States and 68% for Germany. Russia’s external dollar-denominated debt is also quite low compared with the huge dollar-debt burdens of other emerging-market economies such as Turkey, Indonesia and China. Under the steady leadership of central bank head Elvira Nabiullina, the Central Bank of Russia has rebuilt its hard currency reserves after those reserves were severely depleted in 2015 following the collapse in oil prices that began in 2014. Total gold reserves rose from 1,275 tons in July 2015 to about 2,000 tons today. Russia’s gold-to-GDP ratio is the highest in the world and more than double those of the U.S. and China.

In short, Russia is a country to be reckoned with despite the intense dislike for its leader from Western powers. It can be disliked but it cannot be ignored. Russia is even more important geopolitically than these favorable metrics suggest. Russia and the U.S. are likely to improve relations and move closer together despite the current animosity over election meddling and the attempted murders of ex-Russian spies. The reason for this coming thaw has to do with the dynamics of global geopolitics. There are only three countries in the world that are rightly regarded as primary powers — the U.S., Russia and China. These three are the only superpowers. Some analysts may be surprised to see Russia on the superpower list, but the facts are indisputable.

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China exports the Silk Road. And creates dependencies that way.

Pakistan Is On The Brink Of Economic Disaster (CNBC)

Pakistan is on the brink of economic disaster, experts say. Foreign exchange reserves are at four-year lows, pressuring the local rupee and triggering worries that Islamabad may soon be unable to finance monthly import bills. The developing country is also awash in external debt, having taken on loans from China for the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. To avoid a full-blown balance of payments crisis, Islamabad needs outside help. It has two options: the IMF or Beijing. Neither, however, may solve its economic woes in the long run. The South Asian nation is no stranger to IMF bailouts — it has gone through 21 programs in total, with the most recent one ending two years ago.

If the administration of incoming Prime Minister Imran Khan seeks out another loan, estimated at $10 billion, the country will be subject to the IMF’s strict austerity measures that’re likely to hurt growth. It also wouldn’t bode well politically for Khan, who called on the campaign trail for Pakistan to become self-sufficient. The U.S., meanwhile, has taken issue with the idea of IMF funds going toward Pakistan’s Chinese debt obligations. “There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars — and associated with that, American dollars that are part of the IMF funding — for those to go to bail out Chinese bondholders or China itself,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNBC last week.

In response, Pakistan’s finance ministry has refuted Pompeo’s linkage of IMF assistance with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Alternatively, Khan’s government could turn to China for fresh loans. But that would mean Islamabad wading even deeper into the so-called “Chinese debt trap” — a frequent criticism of Beijing’s infrastructure spending spree that’s known as the Belt and Road Initiative, of which the CPEC is a part. Last month, the Asian giant loaned Pakistan $1 billion to boost its shrinking foreign currency reserves. For the current fiscal year thus far, China’s lending to Pakistan is set to exceed $5 billion, according to Reuters.

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They’ve never seen an actual plan.

Tesla Board Plans To Tell Elon Musk To Recuse Himself (CNBC)

The Tesla board of directors plans to meet with financial advisors next week to formalize a process to explore Elon Musk’s take-private proposal, according to people familiar with the matter. Musk announced via Twitter this week that he hopes to take the automaker private, in what would be one of the biggest such deals in history. The board is likely to tell Musk, the Tesla chairman and CEO, to recuse himself as the company prepares to review his take-private proposal, according to these people, who asked not to be named because the conversations are private. The board has told Musk that he needs his own separate set of advisors, one of the people said. Tesla’s board will likely develop a special committee of a smaller number of independent directors to review the buyout details, the people added.

Musk previously talked with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund about a take-private deal, said one of the people. Saudi’s Public Investment Fund bought a 3% to 5% stake in the electric car maker, The Financial Times reported earlier this week. It isn’t yet known whether Saudi’s Public Investment Fund has agreed to commit money to the transaction. It also still isn’t clear if Tesla has committed financing. Musk tweeted he had “funding secured” on Tuesday when he said he was considering taking the company private at $420 per share. Tesla has declined to comment on funding for the transaction, leading to speculation Musk doesn’t have committed financing and drawing a request for more information from the SEC.

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US involvement in Nordstream 2?

US, EU Laying Groundwork For New Trade Deal (CNBC)

Two weeks after reaching a handshake agreement to calm trade talks and back off new tariffs, the United States and European Union are beginning to lay the formal groundwork underpinning any deal. On Tuesday, the State Department sent a cable to U.S. embassies across Europe, directing them to identify business areas ripe for lowering of tariffs or cutting of red tape, according to a readout of the cable provided to CNBC. The communication placed particular emphasis on deals that would increase U.S. energy and soybean exports, two areas highlighted in a joint statement the U.S. and the EU put out following the July 25 meeting.

One of the ideas that had been discussed is potential American involvement in a Russian natural gas pipeline into Germany that President Donald Trump had criticized. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Trump at the White House last month that “most” EU countries disagreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to broker the deal with Russia, according to a senior administration official. The State Department declined to comment, citing a policy not to confirm or deny internal communications. But the move represents an effort to source deliverables for talks set to take place when a delegation from the European Union visits Washington later this month.

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It’s a good idea to hold Sessions in contempt. But he’s the AG!.

US Judge Orders Deportation Plane Turnaround (BBC)

A federal judge has ordered a mother and her daughter be flown back to the United States, after learning they had been deported mid-appeal. The two were being represented in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who said they had fled “extreme sexual and gang violence”. The judge said it was unacceptable they had been removed during their appeal. He reportedly also said Attorney General Jeff Sessions could be held in contempt of court for the deportation. The mother and daughter were part of a case filed by the ACLU and the Centre for Gender and Refugee Studies on behalf of 12 mothers and children who said they had fled violence, but were at risk of deportation.

A tightening of rules in June by Mr Sessions means victims of domestic abuse and gang violence no longer generally qualify for US asylum. The government had pledged not to deport anyone in the case before Friday at the earliest, ACLU said. But ACLU said they learned during Thursday’s emergency hearing that the mother and daughter had already been put on a flight back to El Salvador by US authorities. Washington DC District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan said that it was unacceptable that people claiming asylum had been removed while lawyers argued their case. He branded the situation “outrageous” and ordered the pair be returned immediately, according to reports. An official from the Department of Homeland Security told the Reuters agency that the agency worked to comply with the court’s order.

“Upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs did not disembark and are currently en route back to the United States,” the department said in an emailed statement. The mother and daughter are said to have arrived back in Texas, where they were being held, by Thursday night.

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It’s a market place. Supply and demand.

Germany Inks Deal With Spain To Return Registered Migrants (AFP)

Berlin has concluded a deal with Madrid for Spain to take back migrants who had been registered by Spanish authorities, a German interior ministry spokeswoman said Wednesday, as Germany seeks to curb new arrivals. Under the accord, which will enter in to force on Saturday August 11, the migrants “could be sent back to Spain within 48 hours,” said interior ministry spokeswoman Eleonore Petermann, adding that Madrid did not lay down any condition in exchange. The deal is part of a series of bilateral agreements that Germany is seeking with EU partners, after a broader accord for the bloc proved elusive.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has been under pressure to reduce the number of new arrivals after a record influx of a million asylum seekers between 2015 and 2016 unsettled Germany. Besides Spain, Greece – another key arrival country for migrants who had undertaken the perilous sea journey crossing the Mediterranean – has also in principle agreed to such a deal, Berlin said in June. Italy’s new right-wing government has been more reluctant, as it is putting its focus on boosting controls at the EU’s external borders. Discussions with both Athens and Rome are “not over,” said Petermann. But Interior Minister Horst Seehofer had said in an interview published Sunday that talks with his Italian and Greek colleagues were ongoing “in a good atmosphere”.

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“10 million plastic bags per minute.”

New Zealand To Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags (AFP)

New Zealand became the latest country Friday to outlaw single-use plastic shopping bags, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying they will be phased out over the next year as a “meaningful step” towards reducing pollution. New Zealand uses “hundreds of millions” of single-use plastic bags each year, many of which end up harming marine life, Ardern said. “We need to be far smarter in the way we manage waste and this is a good start,” she said. “We’re phasing-out single-use plastic bags so we can better look after our environment and safeguard New Zealand’s clean, green reputation.”

Ardern said her coalition government, which includes the Green Party, was facing up to environmental challenges and “just like climate change, we’re taking meaningful steps to reduce plastics pollution so we don’t pass this problem to future generations.” Single-use plastic bags are among the most common items found in coastal litter in New Zealand and the environmental group Greenpeace welcomed the decision to outlaw them. “This could be a major leap forward in turning the tide on ocean plastic pollution and an important first step in protecting marine life such as sea turtles and whales, from the growing plastic waste epidemic,” Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Emily Hunter said. A United Nations report in June said up to five trillion grocery bags are used globally each year, which is nearly 10 million plastic bags per minute.

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Jul 292017
 
 July 29, 2017  Posted by at 9:09 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Grocery store in Widtsoe, Utah 1936

 

Trump’s Mistake In Taking Ownership Of The Stock Market Bubble (LR)
Congress Checkmates Trump (And The American People) (LR)
Russia Hits Back Over Sanctions, Orders US Diplomats To Leave (R.)
EU Explores Account Freezes To Prevent Runs At Failing Banks (R.)
The Great Transatlantic Bond Divergence Unwind (WSJ)
Top German Automakers Sued in US Over Two-Decade ‘Cartel’ (BBG)
Wells Fargo Faces Angry Questions After New Sales Abuses Uncovered (R.)
Wells Fargo Cuts 70 Senior Managers in Retail Bank After Accounts Scandal (BBG)
What Explains amazon.com’s Share Price? (PCR)
Panama Leaks and the Fall of Pakistan’s Prime Minister (Niaz)
Plastic Microparticles Found In Flesh Of Fish Eaten By Humans (Ind.)

 

 

More incentives for the Fed to trigger a crisis.

Trump’s Mistake In Taking Ownership Of The Stock Market Bubble (LR)

Let’s start at the beginning. Bubbles and Busts are both created by The Federal Reserve. Presidents are merely along for the ride. They like to credit themselves for the bubbles, and then look for scapegoats, usually the (non-existent) free market during the busts. But it is The Fed that creates them both. President Trump has made a big (yet understandable) mistake. He’s tried to portray himself as the cause of the current bubble in the stock market. He wants credit where credit is due. In this case, credit is not due. As we already mentioned, the Fed created the current bubble, and did so a long time ago. One look at a chart of the S&P 500 says it all:

Chances are, Trump realizes that most people won’t look at a chart of the stock market and he just wants some good PR. The president wants people to think that he is the reason for the stock market bubble. This is a big mistake. The Fed is the premier member of the so-called “Deep State”. In fact, without The Fed, there would hardly be a “Deep State” to speak of. The Fed sits at the top of the Deep State. They have the ultimate power (that no human beings should ever have) to create new money out-of-thin-air. In case Trump hasn’t figured it out yet, the Deep State does not like him. Should a major decline in the stock market occur during Trump’s Administration, guess who will take the blame? President Trump. After all, he took ownership of the bubble!

Should the market tumble, the mainstream media (that also despises Trump) will have plenty of his quotes, YouTubes, and Tweets to use against him. The economic woes will be pinned on Trump. Will Trump deserve the blame? No, but it’ll be too late. This is not to say that a major decline will occur during Trump’s tenure. Bubbles can take on a life of their own, and this one may last during Trump’s full term. But that’s a risky gamble to make. This bubble is going on almost 10 years now without a serious decline. Should we see a major selloff, Trump has very few friends in the major power centers that will come to his aid. As Peter Schiff points out in this fantastic clip below: The Fed now has their fall guy:

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A curious move. An ultimate power game.

Congress Checkmates Trump (And The American People) (LR)

Yesterday, the US Senate passed HR 3364, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act by a massive 98 yeas to two nays. Opposing the bill were Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rand Paul (R-KY). The bill passed in the House by 419-3 on Tuesday, with Reps Massie (R-KY), Amash (R-MI), and Duncan (R-TN) opposing. The new sanctions bill ties President Trump’s hands on foreign policy, as he will be forced to ask Congress for permission to ease the measures. Speaking in favor of the legislation, Sen. Bob Menendez (R-NJ) cited the need to send Russia a message that it cannot meddle in US elections, that it cannot annex Crimea, that it cannot invade Ukraine, and that it cannot indiscriminately kill women and children in Syria.

Those of us living in the actual real world recognize that the first count remains unproven and the remaining counts are simply fatuous, fact-free bluster by Washington’s uninformed, group-thinking, foreign policy elites. Fueled by the millions coming in to the military-industrial complex. The House and Senate passed “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” now goes to President Trump’s desk, where he faces a damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t scenario. A veto would certainly be over-ridden, handing the president a bitter bi-partisan blow that would likely end whatever aspirations he may retain to keep his campaign promises to get along better with Russia.

Similarly, signing the bill signs a death warrant for any foreign policy different than the one served up by the neocons for decades: create enemies; push war propaganda; collect massive checks from military industrial complex; demonize any American refusing to go along; repeat, adding bombs as necessary. Checkmate, President Trump.

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Over 600 would have to leave. Question: why does the US have over 6000 more staff in Russia than vice versa?

Russia Hits Back Over Sanctions, Orders US Diplomats To Leave (R.)

Russia told the United States on Friday that some of its diplomats had to leave the country in just over a month and said it was seizing some U.S. diplomatic property as retaliation for what it said were proposed illegal U.S. sanctions. Russia’s response, announced by the Foreign Ministry, came a day after the U.S. Senate voted to slap new sanctions on Russia, putting President Donald Trump in a tough position by forcing him to take a hard line on Moscow or veto the legislation and anger his own Republican Party. President Vladimir Putin had warned on Thursday that Russia had so far exercised restraint, but would have to retaliate against what he described as boorish and unreasonable U.S. behaviour. Relations between the two countries, already at a post-Cold War low, have deteriorated even further after U.S. intelligence agencies accused Russia of trying to meddle in last year’s U.S. presidential election, something Moscow flatly denies.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the United States had until Sept. 1 to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, the same number of Russian diplomats it said were left in the United States after Washington expelled 35 Russians in December. It said in a statement that the decision by Congress to impose new sanctions confirmed “the extreme aggression of the United States in international affairs.” “Hiding behind its ‘exceptionalism’ the United States arrogantly ignores the positions and interests of other countries,” said the ministry. “Under the absolutely invented pretext of Russian interference in their “Under the absolutely invented pretext of Russian interference in their domestic affairs the United States is aggressively pushing forward, one after another, crude anti-Russian actions. This all runs counter to the principles of international law.”

[..] An official at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, who declined to be named because they were not allowed to speak to the media, said there were around 1,100 U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia. That included Russian citizens and U.S. citizens. Most staff, including around 300 U.S. citizens, work in the main embassy in Moscow with others based in outlying consulates. The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was also seizing a Moscow dacha compound used by U.S. diplomats to relax from Aug. 1 as well as a U.S. diplomatic warehouse in Moscow.

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Confidence spelled backwards. How to cause a bank run in 3 easy lessons.

EU Explores Account Freezes To Prevent Runs At Failing Banks (R.)

European Union states are considering measures which would allow them to temporarily stop people withdrawing money from their accounts to prevent bank runs, an EU document reviewed by Reuters revealed. The move is aimed at helping rescue lenders that are deemed failing or likely to fail, but critics say it could hit confidence and might even hasten withdrawals at the first rumors of a bank being in trouble. The proposal, which has been in the works since the beginning of this year, comes less than two months after a run on deposits at Banco Popular contributed to the collapse of the Spanish lender. It also come amid a bitter wrangle among European countries over how to deal with troubled banks, roughly a decade after a financial crash that required the ECB to print billions of euros to prevent a prolonged economic slump.

Giving supervisors the power to temporarily block bank accounts at ailing lenders is “a feasible option,” a paper prepared by the Estonian presidency of the EU said, acknowledging that member states were divided on the issue. EU countries which already allow a moratorium on bank payouts in insolvency procedures at national level, like Germany, support the measure, officials said. “The desire is to prevent a bank run, so that when a bank is in a critical situation it is not pushed over the edge,” a person familiar with German government’s thinking said. To cover for savers’ immediate financial needs, the Estonian paper, dated July 10, recommended the introduction of a mechanism that could allow depositors to withdraw “at least a limited amount of funds.”

Banks, though, say it would discourage saving. “We strongly believe that this would incentivize depositors to run from a bank at an early stage,” Charlie Bannister of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), a banking lobby group, said. The Estonian proposal was discussed by EU envoys on July 13 but no decision was made, an EU official said. Discussions were due to continue in September. The plan, if agreed, would contrast with legislative proposals made by the European Commission in November that aimed to strengthen supervisors’ powers to suspend withdrawals, but excluded from the moratorium insured depositors, which under EU rules are those below 100,000 euros ($117,000).

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Price discovery.

The Great Transatlantic Bond Divergence Unwind (WSJ)

Many of the trades embraced by markets after President Donald Trump’s election have been slowly unwinding in 2017. Here’s an important one that could have further to go: the gap between U.S. and German government bond yields. The spread between 10-year Treasurys and bunds ballooned after Mr. Trump’s November victory to a level not seen since before the fall of the Berlin Wall, around 2.3 percentage points by the end of 2016. U.S. yields rose sharply on the idea of reflation and stimulus, while Europe appeared stuck in a rut. At 1.75%age points, the gap is close to its pre-election level. But even that is unusual by historical standards. Between 1990 and 2014, the spread was only rarely wider than one percentage point, and over that period averaged just 0.2 point, according to data from FactSet.

Such a tight relationship between German and U.S. bonds reflected the long global bull market for bonds in the glory years of globalization. Relatively synchronized monetary policy meant yields fell on both sides of the Atlantic together. The Fed’s 2013 taper, followed by signals of coming European Central Bank bond buying helped set the bond markets apart. That both helped weaken the euro and encouraged a rush of bond issuance by U.S. companies in European markets as borrowing costs fell. Where policy goes now is key. Markets doubt how far the Fed might get with its tightening, and seem unflustered by the prospect of the central bank shrinking its balance sheet. Investors may be too relaxed, but in the absence of fiscal stimulus and inflation, much higher yields for Treasurys might be hard to achieve in the near term.

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But they rule Germany. So yeah, some fines etc., but the culture just goes on.

Top German Automakers Sued in US Over Two-Decade ‘Cartel’ (BBG)

German’s major automakers were accused in a U.S. lawsuit of acting as a cartel, colluding for nearly two decades to limit the pace of technological advances in their vehicles and stifle competition – allegations that widen the scope of the latest scandal to hit the nation’s auto industry. BMW AG, Daimler AG, Volkswagen AG and its Audi and Porsche brands shared competitive information about vehicle technologies with one another from 1996 through at least 2015 in violation of antitrust laws, according to a complaint filed Friday in San Francisco federal court. “These coordinated actions enabled the manufacturer defendants — the self-named ‘Fünfer-Kreise,’ or Circle of Five — to impose a German automobile premium on consumers premised on superior German engineering, while secretly stunting incentives to innovate,” the suit alleges.

The suit, which seeks class-action status on behalf of U.S. drivers, says the companies agreed to limit the development of vehicle systems, including emissions control. The arrangement allegedly led to the development of so-called “defeat devices” used by Volkswagen to cheat on pollution tests. Plaintiffs claim the operation of convertible roofs, body design, brakes and electronic systems were also part of the “technological innovations inhibited” by the pacts. The supplier of VW’s cheat software, Robert Bosch Gmbh, was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

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“The added cost of insurance pushed 274,000 customers into delinquency..”

Elizabeth Warren has called on the Fed to remove Wells Fargo board members. I think if your legal system does not allow you to put these people behind bars, maybe you should look there first. Many of these people should be put before a judge and Wells Fargo should be forced to close. Institutions like that are diseases in a society.

Wells Fargo Faces Angry Questions After New Sales Abuses Uncovered (R.)

New revelations that Wells Fargo spent years enrolling unknowing borrowers in costly auto insurance has put the bank under new pressure to answer for a months-long scandal over sales practices that have harmed millions of Americans. The latest news that 800,000 Wells Fargo auto borrowers were improperly charged for insurance rattled investors yet again, and sent its stock down 2.6% on Friday. Shareholders, analysts, lawmakers and consumer advocates demanded answers about how the situation manifested, and why Wells Fargo did not disclose the problems sooner, given existing turmoil over phony deposit and credit card accounts opened in customers’ names without their permission.

“This is a full-blown scandal — again,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who oversees public pension funds that hold roughly 11.6 million Wells Fargo shares. “It’s unbelievable, outrageous, sad, and yet quintessential Wells Fargo. This isn’t just a corporate debacle. It’s caused real human harm.” Stringer called on the bank to install a new independent chair and “immediately” disclose more information. Wells Fargo first became aware of potential problems a year ago, when the auto lending business began receiving an unusually high number of complaints, Franklin Codel, head of consumer lending, said in an interview. The auto insurance program was quickly suspended, and the problem escalated to senior management, the board and regulators, he said.

Wells Fargo planned to delay public disclosure until it could notify affected customers and reimburse them. “The problem with disclosing to the marketplace today or several months ago is customers start calling and asking when they’re going to get their money,” he said. “It’s not a great customer experience to say, ‘Yeah, we’ll get back to you.'” [..] Wall Street analysts expect the financial damage to go beyond the $80 million in reimbursements. In a note on Friday, Piper Jaffray’s Kevin Barker predicted the true cost would be “multiples” of that figure, with lawsuits and further customer remediation. The added cost of insurance pushed 274,000 customers into delinquency, and led to at least 20,000 wrongful repossessions, according to the Times.

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“Community bank” and Wells Fargo in one sentence. Take out the ones that are most guilty and go on as you were.

Wells Fargo Cuts 70 Senior Managers in Retail Bank After Accounts Scandal (BBG)

Wells Fargo, the lender struggling to overcome a fake-accounts scandal in its community bank, said the division’s new leader is cutting about 70 senior executive jobs. The lender will reduce the number of regional and area presidents to 91, Mary Mack, head of the retail bank, said Friday in a memo to staff, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg. Bank spokeswoman Bridget Braxton confirmed the contents of the memo and said employees whose positions are eliminated will remain staff members for 60 days until further steps are decided. Most of the remaining managers will be re-titled as region bank presidents with direct responsibility for more employees than before, in a move aimed at reducing management levels across the branch network, Mack wrote.

Across its 10 geographical divisions, Wells Fargo previously employed 160 regional and area presidents. “Change is hard, yet change is necessary to make sure we are well positioned for the future,” Mack wrote. “In order to truly be better, we must put the right structure in place,” she added. The community-banking division, which houses the retail bank, has generated weaker profit since September when Wells Fargo was fined $185 million because employees had been opening accounts for more than a half decade without customers’ permission. This week, the firm’s consumer operations revealed another scandal, announcing that the bank had charged as many as 500,000 customers for auto insurance they didn’t need.

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“..Bill Gates who heads the largest digital technology company is on occasion second fiddle to Bezos who heads an online Sears or Macy’s.”

What Explains amazon.com’s Share Price? (PCR)

“Here are today’s top stories on Bloomberg” “Jeff Bezos briefly overtook Bill Gates as the world’s richest person. A surge in Amazon shares Thursday morning in advance of its earnings report gave Bezos a net worth of $92.3 billion, surpassing the Microsoft founder’s $90.8 billion fortune. In afternoon trading, Bezos remains ranked second on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Gates has held the top spot since May 2013.” Amazon’s stock closed yesterday at $1,046 per share. Amazon’s profits do not support this extraordinary price. Apple, a very profitable company, has a share price of $150.56, an overprice itself. What or who is making Bezos so rich from an online sales company? Note, amazon.com is just sales. It is not some new manufacturing technology that produces valuable output at low cost.

amazon.com is what Walmart, Sears, and Macy’s do, the difference being that amazon.com is online and Walmart, Sears, and Macy’s are in physical locations where real merchandise can be experienced hands on and tried on for fit. In other words, online purchases are convenient, but you don’t know what you are getting. Does it fit? What is the quality? And so forth. How many times do you send it back before you get what you want? There are two answers to the question about who is making Bezos rich. One is that Wall Street is betting that the collapse of US anti-trust law and regulatory authority—it is still on the books but not enforced, just look at the Big Banks—and the ability of Bezos to use his ownership of the Washington Post, the newspaper of the country’s capital, to support those who support him, ensure that amazon.com will be an online monopoly.

Once this is put in place, amazon’s prices and profits will rise, and the extraordinary amazon.com P/E ratio will come into line with reality. Another is that Bezos’ cooperation with Washington’s spy network over all Americans is paid for by the CIA’s many front companies driving up the price of amazon.com’s stock. As the price of amazon.com rises, so does Bezos’ wealth. I don’t know that either of these answers is correct. What I notice is that Bill Gates who heads the largest digital technology company is on occasion second fiddle to Bezos who heads an online Sears or Macy’s.

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Just in case you’re thinking things are a mess where you are. His brother is rumored to succeed him.

Panama Leaks and the Fall of Pakistan’s Prime Minister (Niaz)

On July 28, 2017, the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) rendered a unanimous verdict by a five-member bench that disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding public office. This outcome was the result of the Panama Leaks, which revealed that the premier and his family owned assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. The opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), led by Imran Khan, seized on this issue and managed to compel Pakistan’s normally apathetic state institutions to take notice. For over a year, the premier and his family failed to explain how they acquired upscale properties in London. The ruling family dug themselves even deeper into the hole in their effort to establish some kind of cover for their acquisitions by being deliberately inaccurate before the SCP and even forging documents.

Surrounded by sycophants, the premier was evidently badly advised at each step and he and his family have paid a very high political price and could well face jail time. Pakistan has a long tradition of dragging its civilian chief executives over the coals. No prime minister has completed a regular term in office, their tenures cut short by assassination, civilian or military coups, judicial intervention, and intra-party machinations. Many premiers have been overthrown or dismissed for alleged abuse of power, mal-administration, and corruption. Nawaz Sharif and his family, in being unable to account for their wealth, and in their crude attempts at a cover up, have demonstrated that they are evidently crooks.

This said, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has done a better job of delivering on its campaign promises than any political party in Pakistan’s democratic experience. Pakistan’s energy crisis has eased, the economy is headed towards 6% annual growth, FDI is the highest in a decade, per capita income has risen perceptively, major cities have seen considerable investment in their infrastructure, and the gross level of terrorist violence has declined. Given that the ruling party won in 2013 with as many votes as the next two largest parties combined, its victory in 2018 seemed all but assured.

[..] Since 1947, Pakistan state elites have presided over a massive privatization of public wealth. Entitlements in the form of plots, perks, benefits, are part of an elaborate system of bureaucratically induced shortages that breed systemic corruption and undermines governance. Pakistani private and public sector corporations and entrepreneurs guzzle subsidies and thrive only in a cartelized environment. Any attempt by a government to rationalize the economy or improve productivity is met with howls of protest and demands for more subsidies. Pakistani professionals, be they lawyers, doctors, engineers, educators, behave like mafias, seeking to avoid ethical checks while relentlessly pursuing self-aggrandizement.

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We’ll eat our own crap yet. Garbage in, garbage out.

Plastic Microparticles Found In Flesh Of Fish Eaten By Humans (Ind.)

Plastic microparticles are getting into the flesh of fish eaten by humans, according to a new study. A team of scientists from Malaysia and France discovered a total of 36 tiny pieces of plastic in the bodies of 120 mackerel, anchovies, mullets and croakers. They warned that as plastic attracts toxins in the environment, these poisons could be released into people’s bodies after they ate the fish. The plastics found included nylon, polystyrene and polyethylene. Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers said: “The widespread distribution of microplastics in aquatic bodies has subsequently contaminated a diverse range of aquatic biota, including those sold for human consumption such as shellfish and mussels.

“Therefore, seafood products could be a major route of human exposure to microplastics. “Microplastics were suggested to exert their harmful effects by providing a medium to facilitate the transport of other toxic compounds such as heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants to the body of organisms. Upon ingestion, these chemicals may be released and cause toxicity.” They suggested people eating the fish examined in this study, which are often dried and sold across Malaysia and neighbouring countries, could consume up to 246 pieces of microplastic a year. However, they added: “The majority of the tested fish in this study did not contain microplastics. Therefore, it is less likely that an individual would ingest the suggested maximum number of microplastics per annum.”

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