May 182021
 
 May 18, 2021  Posted by at 9:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  57 Responses »


Gustav Klimt The Park 1909

 

Texas Reports Zero COVID Deaths 2 Months After Biden Said ‘Neanderthals’ (NW)
42% Of Russians Do Not Want To Be Vaccinated Against Covid-19 (Tickle)
Learn From History – Or Repeat It (Denninger)
The False God (Jim Kunstler)
Dutch Municipalities Spy On Citizens On Social Media (VK)
Q&A With Antonio Garcia-Martinez (Taibbi)
US Blocks New Draft UN Statement On Mideast Violence (MSN)
You Are Writing History With Your Bloody Hands -Erdogan to Biden (ZH)
Earth and Humanity: Myth and Reality (Nate Hagens)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riddle me this, Batman.

Texas Reports Zero COVID Deaths 2 Months After Biden Said ‘Neanderthals’ (NW)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott caught heat from Democratic lawmakers when he announced on March 2 this year he would fully reopen the state by the next week. Mississippi lawmakers declared a similar reopening plan about the same time. The idea was to get more people acclimated back to normal life, including businesses at full capacity and sports arenas full of fans again. For Texas, the governor wanted businesses back at 100 percent and placed filled up again, from school halls to dance halls. President Joe Biden called such reopening plans as “Neanderthals thinking.” “I hope everybody has realized by now these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way we are able to get vaccine in people’s arms,” Biden said in the White House on March 3.

“The last thing we need is the Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters. … It’s critical, critical, critical, critical that they follow the science.” Texas blazed its own path and reopened for business, and the Texas Rangers had a ballpark full of cheering fans for its home opener last month. On Sunday, just a couple of hours after a major PGA event in Dallas and the NCAA FCS college football national championship in Frisco, Abbott reported that the state had no COVID-related deaths the previous 24 hours, and that the seven-day positivity rate was the lowest it’s been since records have been taken—which was March 2020.

Biden expressed disappointment in those states that had plans to fully reopen, saying the goal was for every American adult to receive vaccinations before starting big gatherings, with a target date of July 4 for families to get together and celebrate. “We’ve been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough for every American, to get every adult American to get a shot,” Biden said in March. Biden was 0-for-2 against Texas when, after the Rangers baseball organization said it planned to open at full capacity following Abbott’s executive order, the president called that decision a “mistake.” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels shrugged off that comment and said he still hoped for a full venue on opening day, which he got.

Read more …

Herd immunity.

42% Of Russians Do Not Want To Be Vaccinated Against Covid-19 (Tickle)

A Russian survey has revealed that more than two-fifths (42%) of citizens do not intend to be vaccinated against Covid-19 “under any circumstances,” a result that may explain the country’s poorly performing inoculation program. Conducted by recruitment company Superjob’s research center, the survey also revealed that one-in-five (20%) unvaccinated Russians would get jabbed if it meant they could travel abroad. The poll came after Greece’s announcement that they would be willing to accept tourists vaccinated with Sputnik V. The results found that 18% of Russians yet to be inoculated plan to get the shot even without any other incentive. Some 42% said they absolutely do not want to get vaccinated, even if it is the only option for a trip to another country, and 20% found it difficult to decide.


The results from this survey may go some way to explaining why the Russian vaccination campaign has gotten off to a slow start. In late April, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said more than 11.1 million people have received the first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, with 6.8 million fully inoculated. The country’s authorities do not regularly release data, but the latest aggregated figures on the unofficial website gogov suggests that the current figure of people to have received both jabs is now around 9.8 million. Russia has approved three domestic Covid-19 vaccines, with Sputnik V being the most well-known. The vaccine has now been registered in 66 countries, having most recently passed tests in Ecuador.

Read more …

“That sort of cult game is how you wind up turning a nation into Jonestown.”

Learn From History – Or Repeat It (Denninger)

Adults live in reality where facts are collected, hypotheses are formed, tests are made against said hypothesis and then the results are published. Then, reasoned adults make their own decisions for themselves and their families, weighing personal risk and benefit based on those published results. Children and psychotics live in a fantasy world where they believe you snap your fingers and get what you want. When you allow either of the latter two to ascend to positions of power and influence within government your entire nation is standing on a ledge believing you can fly. There are myriad examples of this, such as believing you can replace combustion fuels with batteries and solar cells or wind turbines; this is crazy-land nonsense as nobody has figured out how to violate the laws of physics, and you just saw a small version of it with the Colonial pipeline.

There’s a virus going around, I hear, that has a near-zero death rate in children but in fantasy-land we must stab them with a dangerous drug lest they get infected with something that they may have already had and won’t hurt them anyway. We refuse to adult and admit that roughly a third of the people who died were within six months to a year of their “use by” date, living in rest homes where half of those admitted die within six months and at least three quarters of the rest who succumbed had destroyed their bodies on purpose, making themselves vulnerable to what, in almost everyone else, is a case of the flu. Rather than deal with these facts, which were known almost immediately in 2020, we instead engaged in a mass-delusional episode akin to putting magic mushrooms in the nation’s water supply, and led the public to believe they’d all die unless they walked around with diapers on their face scared of non-existent snakes coming out of the roadway that were going to spit venom in their mouth.

Worse, when people got said flu we told them there were no treatments which was a knowing lie and let a bunch of ghouls chortle at the $30,000 they were going to get for a toe-tag in a few days while your grandmother choked to death on her own spit. We’re still doing the same damn thing not just here but in fact worldwide so we can scare people into being stabbed on a subscription basis for immense profit with an unknown risk of pulling the black ball and killing a huge percentage of the public. LSD is a hell of a drug and I don’t give a crap what you do with or to yourself but the effects of same, no matter how the crazy got in one’s head, have no place near or on the levers of power. That sort of cult game is how you wind up turning a nation into Jonestown.

For half a million Americans or so over the last year Jonestown has already arrived and now we’re playing the same game without about half the population while attempting to enlist children in drinking the KoolAid. It’s grape-flavored; go ahead and take a big slug. I promise it won’t hurt. Much.

CDC admits at least 94% of Deaths from Corona Virus were wrong.
https://twitter.com/i/status/1394417021333524484

Read more …

“..insufficiently tested exotic experiments desperately employed against something that looks more and more like a bio-weapon that the government itself was complicit in creating.”

The False God (Jim Kunstler)

[..] as the time-frame for inflation compresses, the people notice that their money won’t buy what they need, and they get restless, perhaps dangerously so. In the process, the government begins to look incompetent, on top of the usual perception that it is corrupt, and before you know it, legitimacy slips through the widening cracks of the floor. Until now, the authorities have been successful in pitting citizens against each other, and the ill-will unleashed has been spectacular. But the memes of “white supremacy” are so obviously dishonest that they’ve only succeeded in hugely pissing off the substantial demographic of white people who struggle desperately to remain employed, housed, mobile, and capable of raising children who are not being driven crazy.

The coronavirus situation is not so reassuring. We are one more serious up-wave of illness from tanking whatever remains of this vaporific economy. An emerging pattern suggests that higher vaccination rates might generate new-and-improved iterations of the disease more efficiently — just as the government tries more aggressively to sell vaccination to the public. The public is also noticing the alarming statistics, and many remain unconvinced that the vaccines are even vaccines in the usual sense, but rather insufficiently tested exotic experiments desperately employed against something that looks more and more like a bio-weapon that the government itself was complicit in creating.

My state of New York is supposedly “reopening” today. Who’s not longing to get back to “normal?” But who’s not a little anxious that mixing normally with other people won’t start the whole cycle all over again? And, anyway, who doesn’t wonder whether normal is really a thing of the past now, disappearing in the rear-view mirror? Just as the hopeful meme floats over the Internet that the storm is over, we fail to see that there’s a larger storm of history whirling around us that we’re only in the eye of.

Read more …

Google translate. Spied on by nincompoops.

Dutch Municipalities Spy On Citizens On Social Media (VK)

Dutch municipalities monitor citizens on social media on a large scale. They use fake accounts for this, a method that municipalities are not allowed to use. This has emerged from research by the NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences and the University of Groningen on behalf of the Police and Science research program. Municipalities keep an eye on Facebook groups, Twitter profiles and other social media to gain insight into possible disturbances such as riots and demonstrations. Municipal officials are often unaware that they are breaking the law, the investigation shows. More than half do not know which rules and protocols apply. The results are based on answers to a questionnaire of 156 of the 352 Dutch municipalities.

Almost one in six of the municipalities surveyed uses fake accounts, a method that only police and intelligence services are allowed to use under strict conditions. In some cases, city officials enter private Facebook groups under false names. For example, at the time of the refugee crisis, an official writes to have secretly joined private Facebook groups to see “what’s going on”. Municipalities search online for social assistance fraud by searching for extra earnings on Marktplaats. Social media is also used to check flight stories of asylum seekers. Searching online under fake names, storing personal data and entering private groups are a serious infringement of citizens’ rights, says Bart Custers, professor of Law and Data Science at Leiden University. “It is simply prohibited. Municipalities are not allowed to play for the police or intelligence service. ”

Arbitration and serious privacy violations lurk. Custers: “If the government goes online with a fake account, it is working under cover, for example, the police must ask the judge for permission. This is not the work of municipalities. “Moreover, there is a risk that personal data will leak. “There seems to be hardly any discussion within municipalities about what is and is not allowed,” says Willem Bantema, responsible researcher and sociologist of law at NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences. The research shows that in about one third of the municipalities no data protection officer is involved in online monitoring, although this is required by law. According to the researchers, small and medium-sized municipalities in particular do not comply with the rules. Large cities generally have better policy in order.

Read more …

“Do you realize if an artist went into producing their art, whatever it is, literary or nonfiction or whatever, and thought about the consequences, the art would be total shit?”

Q&A With Antonio Garcia-Martinez (Taibbi)

After training generations of Americans to forego personal lives and work their brains to mush in service of bigger profits, corporate leaders are waking up to find their companies staffed by people so psychologically dependent upon validation from work that they’re a net minus from a production standpoint, forcing bosses to beg them to shut up, go home, and get lives. Not many modern Americans know how to do any of those things, however, as can be seen in cases like that of Garcia-Martinez, where 2,000 employees claimed to be literally incapable of sharing a vast corporate structure with someone who once wrote a book containing passages they might have disagreed with, if they’d actually read it.

“The thought of conflating your entire political, moral, social, family, and religious being with your professional persona,” Garcia-Martinez says, “I think is extraordinarily fraught and difficult.” Another irony: despite the progressive sheen of these campaigns, Slack agitation doesn’t represent a resurgence of labor. Unions used the strength of the whole workforce to protect the rights of the individual employee, among other things insisting that management not act without due process, evidence, etc. Slack, as has been seen in cases like Antonio’s, or the oustings at the New York Times of editor James Bennet and reporter Donald McNeil, often urges companies to bypass process and act in the heat of the moment. In any case, it’s a weird kind of liberalism that tries to override management to get employees fired, but that’s where we are in the modern American workplace.

I asked Antonio about these and other issues, from his perspective: TK: You’ve had multiple careers, and clearly took writing seriously. How will episodes like this affect people who might try to write or take creative detours in their careers? Antonio Garcia-Martinez: Kat Rosenfield was tweeting about this and I love her and it’s great that she’s defending me. Do you want art? People are saying, “Well, you should have realized the consequences… I feel like saying: “Do you realize if an artist went into producing their art, whatever it is, literary or nonfiction or whatever, and thought about the consequences, the art would be total shit?”

Looking at it bigger, there’s a lot of political ideologies like Nazism and communism that thought that art should be subservient to politics, and that art can only serve a political end. Those movements did not end well. I don’t think we want that in our liberal democratic society. I think that’s a bizarre ideological way of looking at the world, from the wokesters who treat this as a quasi-religion.

Read more …

3 times now.

US Blocks New Draft UN Statement On Mideast Violence (MSN)

The United States on Monday blocked — for the third time in a week — the adoption of a joint UN Security Council statement calling for a halt to Israeli-Palestinian violence, triggering a new emergency closed-door session set for Tuesday. The text drafted by China, Tunisia and Norway was submitted late Sunday for approval Monday by the council’s 15 members, as Israeli jets continued to pound the Gaza Strip and the death toll from a week of violence passed 200. The United States indicated that they “could not currently support an expression” by the Security Council, one diplomat told AFP. The Norwegian diplomatic mission to the UN announced that the Security Council would hold a new emergency closed-door meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Tuesday — its fourth since May 10.


“The situation on the ground continues to deteriorate. Innocent civilians continue being killed and injured. We repeat: stop the fire. End hostilities now,” the delegation said on Twitter. The Security Council has held three emergency meetings on the escalating violence in the past week, the latest on Sunday, without reaching a common position — with Israel’s main ally the United States accused of obstructionism. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric underlined the importance of taking a consolidated position on the conflict. “I would really restate the need for a very strong and unified voice from the Security Council, which we think will carry weight,” he told a press conference.

Read more …

Yeah, get Erdogan some support. Well played.

You Are Writing History With Your Bloody Hands -Erdogan to Biden (ZH)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday blasted the Joe Biden administration for standing idly by while the civilian body count piles up in Gaza after one week of unrelenting Israeli airstrikes. And even more than this Turkey is outraged over new reports that Biden approved a $735 million dollar weapons sale from the United States to Israel. “You are writing history with your bloody hands,” Erdogan said in remarks addressed to President Biden. The stinging rebuke came after a meeting with this cabinet over the continuing Gaza crisis. Turkey has long been a staunch supporter of Palestinian rights, though Erdogan’s rule has in recent years seen relations with Israel reach a low-point given the hardline Islamist leanings of his Justice and Development Party.

The Hill reports of the massive US weapons sale to Israel that “A majority of the possible sale is of Boeing-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions, equipment that can make unguided bombs dropped from aircraft into guided missiles, the aide confirmed.” “The window for Congress to block this sale is for all intents and purposes closed,” The Hill wrote, also noting outrage among a handful of Democrat progressives. Following a meeting with his Cabinet, Erdogan issued a rebuke to the U.S. president, saying: “Now, unfortunately, you (Biden) are writing history with your bloody hands with this event (in which) Gaza is being attacked with seriously disproportionate force causing the martyrdom of thousands of people. You have forced us to say this.”

And specifically on the new reports of Biden-approved weapons sales to the Jewish state, Erdogan scolded further: “Today we saw Biden’s signature on weapons sales to Israel,” Erdogan said in reference to US media reports of a new arms shipment approved by the Biden administration. “Palestinian territories are awash with persecution, suffering and blood, like many other territories that lost the peace with the end of the Ottomans. And you are supporting that,” Erdogan said. This apparently marks the end of previously reported attempts of Erdogan to reach out to the administration, following warmer (despite at times tense) personal relations with Trump, given that Monday’s comments mark the harshest words Erdogan has unleashed on Biden since his January arrival in the White House.

Read more …

Good friend Nate sent this. Really, Nate, 3 hours?

Earth and Humanity: Myth and Reality (Nate Hagens)

This video is a condensation of 15+ years work exploring the human predicament. This talk outlines some core myths and stories in modern culture and contrasts them to our underlying biophysical (biological and physical) realities. There will be a web portal in near future going a bit deeper on these topics for use in education and outreach on societal interventions. Here is the chronological myth order and time stamp. They can be watched in any order, but this order makes the most sense (so we decided).

Read more …

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

“Close up of a wolf spider.”

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

May 152021
 


Wassily Kandinsky Contrasting Sounds 1924

 

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Reprograms Innate Immune Responses
Long Covid-19 Linked To Early Aging Of Immune System (CGTN)
Pandemic To Be ‘Far More Deadly’ This Year – WHO (Y!)
Delay Child Vaccinations And Share Jabs With Covax – WHO (BBC)
India Variant Could Seriously Disrupt Lifting Of UK Lockdown (G.)
Failed Biden Nominee Neera Tanden Hired As White House Senior Adviser (F.)
The Age of Fear (Whitehead)
On the Hypocrites at Apple Who Fired Antonio Garcia-Martinez (Taibbi)
Remember It’s a Sin to Kill a Mockingbird (Turley)
Carbon Pricing Isn’t Effective at Reducing CO2 Emissions (INET)
Escalation In Palestine – Hizbullah Is Ready To Join The Fight (MoA)
Israel, the Big Lie (Chris Hedges)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burr

 

 

This is the scary part. This is why we should not use untested substances on hundreds of millions of poorly educated people.

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Reprograms Innate Immune Responses (MN)

Researchers in The Netherlands and Germany have warned that Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine induces complex reprogramming of innate immune responses that should be considered in the development and use of mRNA-based vaccines. Jorge Domínguez-Andrés and colleagues say that while the vaccine has been shown to be up to 95% effective in preventing infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and subsequent COVID-19, little is known about the broad effects the vaccine may have on the innate and adaptive immune responses.

In the current study (not peer-reviewed*), the research team from Radboud University Medical Center and Erasmus MC in the Netherlands, and the Helmholtz-Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Hannover Medical School (MHH), and the University of Bonn, in Germany, confirmed the efficacy of BNT162b2 vaccination at inducing effective humoral and cellular immunity against several SARS-CoV-2 variants. However, they also showed that the vaccine altered the production of inflammatory cytokines by innate immune cells following stimulation with both specific (SARS-CoV-2) and non-specific (viral, fungal and bacterial) stimuli.

Following vaccination, innate immune cells had a reduced response to toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), TLR7 and TLR8 – all ligands that play an important role in the immune response to viral infection. Neta and colleagues also found that cytokine responses to fungi were increased following vaccination. The mRNA BNT162b2 vaccine induces complex functional reprogramming of innate immune responses, which should be considered in the development and use of this new class of vaccines,” writes the team.

Read more …

More immune system perils.

Long Covid-19 Linked To Early Aging Of Immune System (CGTN)

New studies show the effect of severe cases of the virus on the immune system and the premature aging of T-cells suggest a possible explanation for Long COVID-19. According to one publication, three months after patients have been discharged from hospital many showed signs of “premature immunosenescence” – the age-related decline in the body’s ability to form a defence against viruses and other illnesses. Researcher Niharika Duggal of the University of Birmingham said this included the loss of “naive” immune system cells (which have yet to be used in the body’s response), with an accumulation of “memory” B and T-cells, which circulate in the body holding the information to fight against a pathogen.


These symptoms are usually seen in people over 60 years old, but they were spotted in several COVID-19 survivors. It has been previously proved that traumatic injury and chronic disease can cause premature immune system aging, but this research is the first to argue a viral infection does the same. However, the research is still at an early stage and one researcher suggested it could be cause, rather than effect. Janet Lord of the University of Birmingham, explained: “Analysis of people in the UK … who developed COVID-19, showed they were biologically 10 to 14 years older.” She said it’s possible that patients who show prematurely aged immune systems may have caught the virus due to a weaker system – rather than the virus severely damaging the body’s immune response over a long period.

Read more …

Fear campaign?

Pandemic To Be ‘Far More Deadly’ This Year – WHO (Y!)

The World Health Organization issued a grim warning on Friday that the second year of Covid-19 was set to be “far more deadly”, as Japan extended a state of emergency amid growing calls for the Olympics to be scrapped. “We’re on track for the second year of this pandemic to be far more deadly than the first,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The mood also darkened in Japan where the coronavirus state of emergency took in another three regions just 10 weeks before the Olympics, while campaigners submitted a petition with more than 350,000 signatures calling for the Games to be cancelled. With Tokyo and other areas already under emergency orders until the end of May, Hiroshima, Okayama and northern Hokkaido, which will host the Olympic marathon, will now join them.

Japanese public opinion is firmly opposed to holding the Games this summer. Swiss tennis great Roger Federer said Friday that “what the athletes need is a decision: is it happening or isn’t it?” “I would love to play in the Olympics… But if that doesn’t happen due to the situation, I would be the first to understand,” he added. The pandemic has killed at least 3,346,813 people worldwide since the virus first emerged in late 2019, according to an AFP tally of official data. India meanwhile started deploying Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the first foreign-made shot to be used in the country that has been reeling from an explosion in cases and deaths.

The first token batch of Sputnik vaccines — reportedly 150,000 doses — arrived on May 1 and a second delivery is expected in the next few days. A number of leading India-based drugmakers have agreements for local production of Sputnik V with the aim to produce over 850 million doses of the jab per year. India has been adding roughly as many new Covid cases daily as the rest of the world put together.

Read more …

Forget about herd immunity through vaccines. Not going to happen. Your immune system will have to do the job.

Delay Child Vaccinations And Share Jabs With Covax – WHO (BBC)

Wealthier nations should postpone plans to give children and teenagers Covid vaccines and instead donate supplies to low-income countries, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday urged countries to supply more vaccines to the global fair-access scheme Covax. The international distribution of Covid vaccines remains vastly uneven. Since the first vaccines were approved in December, wealthier countries have bought up most of the supply. Many are racing to vaccinate as much of their population as possible. Speaking at a virtual conference in Geneva on Friday, the WHO’s Dr Tedros said he understood why some countries wanted to vaccinate children and adolescents, but said “right now, I urge them to reconsider”.


“In low and lower-middle income countries, Covid-19 vaccine supply has not been enough to even immunise healthcare workers, and hospitals are being inundated with people that need lifesaving care urgently,” he said. Last week, US President Joe Biden laid out plans to begin coronavirus vaccine shots for 12- to 15-year-olds as soon as possible. He also said he hoped that 70% of US adults would receive at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by 4 July, when American families are expected to come together to mark Independence Day. Meanwhile, Canada has authorised the use of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for children aged between 12 and 15. The province of Alberta, which has the highest rate of the virus in the country, has already started offering the jabs to citizens over the age of 12. In Switzerland, some places began offering Covid vaccination appointments to 16-year-olds last week.

Read more …

Still makes me cringe: “..allowing people to meet in groups of six indoors ..”

India Variant Could Seriously Disrupt Lifting Of UK Lockdown (G.)

The final stage of the lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions across England could face “serious disruption” due to the India variant, the prime minister has warned, as he announced plans to accelerate the vaccine programme to curb its spread. Boris Johnson said the gap between the first and second Covid jab would be cut from 12 weeks to eight for all over-50s and the clinically vulnerable, admitting: “The race between our vaccine programme and the virus may be about to become a great deal tighter.” He announced that the army would be deployed to two variant hotspots – Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen – to help with vaccinations, and urged residents in those areas to “think twice” before taking advantages of the freedoms allowed again from Monday.


Johnson said plans to ease restrictions on 17 May – allowing people to meet in groups of six indoors – would go ahead, but that the variant “could make it more difficult” for the final stage of unlocking to proceed on 21 June. He said the India variant appeared to be “more transmissible” than the dominant strain in the UK, which originated in Kent, but that it was not yet clear by how much. If it is significantly more, then, he warned, “we’re likely to face some hard choices”. “I have to level with you that this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more difficult to move to step four in June,” Johnson said. Asked whether the lockdown easing would have to be paused during a press conference, he added: “The truth is, we cannot say for certain … The situation is very different from last year, we are in the throes of an incredible vaccine rollout … We just have to wait and see … We rule nothing out.”

Read more …

“Tanden’s new post will not require Senate confirmation.”

Failed Biden Nominee Neera Tanden Hired As White House Senior Adviser (F.)

Neera Tanden will have a place in the White House after all following the withdrawal of her nomination to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, with President Joe Biden on Friday hiring her as a senior adviser on Friday, according to a White House official. Tanden, the former president of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, will be charged with handling the White House’s response to Republican lawsuits before the Supreme Court seeking to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.


Tanden has also been tasked with reviewing the United States Digital Service, an Obama-era White House office that oversees federal websites and consults with federal agencies on technology. Tanden’s nomination was derailed when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a crucial vote for any Biden nominee in an evenly divided Senate, announced his opposition over her social media posts disparaging Republicans. Tanden failed to make up the votes on the Republican side, having previously slammed critical swing votes like Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in tweets. Tanden’s new post will not require Senate confirmation.

Read more …

“We allowed them to languish in schools which not only look like prisons but function like prisons..”

The Age of Fear (Whitehead)

Young people will find themselves overtaxed, burdened with excessive college debt, and struggling to find worthwhile employment in a debt-ridden economy on the brink of implosion. Their privacy will be eviscerated by the surveillance state. They will be threatened, intimidated and beaten by militarized police. They will be the subjects of a military empire constantly waging war against shadowy enemies and government agents armed to the teeth ready and able to lock down the country at a moment’s notice. As such, they will find themselves forced to march in lockstep with a government that no longer exists to serve the people but which demands that “we the people” be obedient slaves or suffer the consequences. It’s a dismal prospect, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, we failed to guard against such a future. Worse, we who should have known better neglected to maintain our freedoms or provide our young people with the tools necessary to resist oppression and survive, let alone succeed, in the impersonal jungle that is modern America. We brought them into homes fractured by divorce, distracted by mindless entertainment, and obsessed with the pursuit of materialism. We institutionalized them in daycares and afterschool programs, substituting time with teachers and childcare workers for parental involvement. We turned them into test-takers instead of thinkers and automatons instead of activists.

We allowed them to languish in schools which not only look like prisons but function like prisons, as well—where conformity is the rule and freedom is the exception. We made them easy prey for our corporate overlords, while instilling in them the values of a celebrity-obsessed, technology-driven culture devoid of any true spirituality. And we taught them to believe that the pursuit of their own personal happiness trumped all other virtues, including any empathy whatsoever for their fellow human beings. We have allowed them to be manipulated by a corporate culture that simply wants money and control. However, as Aldous Huxley warned: “The victim of mind-manipulation does not know he is a victim. To him, the walls of his prison are invisible and he believes himself to be free.”

Read more …

I know little about the situation, but I love Taibbi’s love of the man.

On the Hypocrites at Apple Who Fired Antonio Garcia-Martinez (Taibbi)

I’m biased, because I know Antonio Garcia-Martinez and something like the same thing once happened to me, but the decision by Apple to bend to a posse of internal complainers and fire him over a passage in a five-year-old book is ridiculous hypocrisy. Hypocrisy by the complainers, and defamatory cowardice by the bosses — about right for the Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style era of timorous conformity and duncecap monoculture the woke mobs at these places are trying to build as their new Jerusalem. Garcia-Martinez is a brilliant, funny, multi-talented Cuban-American whose confessional memoir Chaos Monkeys is to big tech what Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker was to finance.

A onetime high-level Facebook executive — he ran Facebook Ads — Antonio’s book shows the House of Zuckerberg to be a cult full of on-the-spectrum zealots who talked like justice activists while possessing the business ethics of Vlad the Impaler: Facebook is full of true believers who really, really, really are not doing it for the money, and really, really will not stop until every man, woman, and child on earth is staring into a blue-framed window with a Facebook logo. When I read Chaos Monkeys the first time I was annoyed, because this was Antonio’s third career at least — he’d also worked at Goldman, Sachs — and he tossed off a memorable bestseller like it was nothing. Nearly all autobiographies fail because the genre requires total honesty, and not only do few writers have the stomach for turning the razor on themselves, most still have one eye on future job offers or circles of friends, and so keep the bulk of their interesting thoughts sidelined — you’re usually reading a résumé, not a book.

Chaos Monkeys is not that. Garcia-Martinez is an immediately relatable narrator because in one breath he tells you exactly what he thinks of former colleagues (“A week before my last day, I had lunch with the only senior person at Goldman Sachs who was not an inveterate asshole”) and in the next explains, but does not excuse, the psychic quirks that have him chasing rings in some of the world’s most rapacious corporations. “Whenever membership in some exclusive club is up for grabs, I viciously fight to win it, even if only to reject membership when offered,” he wrote. “After all, echoing the eminent philosopher G. Marx: How good can a club be if it’s willing to have lowly me as a member?”

The irony is that if Garcia-Martinez has a failing as a writer, it’s that he’s too nice. Universally, the best writers are insane egomaniacs obsessed with staring at the great mirror that is the page. Garcia-Martinez, on the whole, would rather be sailing. I believe the reason he decided to go back to tech is that he preferred a quiet life of flying a desk to make mortgage payments to the never-ending regimen of self-salesmanship that the literary life requires (and which, again, is the easy part for most egocentric writers).

Read more …

And these people never happen to think of book burning?

Remember It’s a Sin to Kill a Mockingbird (Turley)

We have previously discussed efforts to ban classic books, including To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Lee’s book has been banned in states from Mississippi to California. The work, which exposed the deep-seated racism in our society, has been denounced as “violent and oppressive for black students.” I have opposed such efforts. Now, Loudoun County teacher Andrea Weiskopf has publicly called for the book to be banned in my neighboring county of Loudon. The reason? The character Attitus Finch is white and therefore the book is nothing but a “white savior” tale that traumatizes black students. The remarks reflects a harmful but growing movement to ban such books in public schools. The attack on this book in particular has left many of us dismayed. As Atticus himself said “remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”


Weiskopf told the board that not only is this classic work harming students but that, if any member does not accept that premise, they should not be making any decisions on book selections. ANDREA WEISKOPF: “It’s funny how they are so afraid of having their children seeing another view of sexuality, gender or religion…If you want to talk about books that are assigned, let’s read To Kill a Mockingbird together. If you aren’t able to consider the racial trauma this assigned book causes black children with its white saviorism, then you have no business discussing any books.” Her diatribe reminds me of the observation in the book that “It’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.”

Read more …

Use less energy, only solution.

Carbon Pricing Isn’t Effective at Reducing CO2 Emissions (INET)

How does carbon pricing affect macroeconomic balance and ultimately CO2 emission? What about electric vehicles that are now being promoted by the Biden administration? Economists’ standard advice for controlling global warming is to impose a high price on emitting CO2, which is said to discourage carbon-intensive activities and induce carbon-saving technical change. In a recent review of the New Deal, William Janeway (2021) draws a distinction between efficient and effective policies. He comes close to economist-speak by describing efficiency as a low-cost means for moving toward a desired goal. Whether an efficient intervention will be effective in reaching the goal is another question altogether. In the short- to medium-run, raising carbon prices within a politically acceptable range may be efficient at inducing macroeconomically small changes in the structure of the economy and level of emission.

But the move will not be effective, because the changes will remain small for at least three reasons. Energy constitutes a relatively small proportion of economic activity. It is crucial for the functioning of the macro system, but usually is not the tail that wags the dog. Carbon pricing brings in the “little triangles” of economic welfare analysis applied by Arnold Harberger (1954, 1971), which are not significant in terms of GDP (James Tobin, 1977). The reason, as illustrated below, is that the percentage change in, say, gasoline demand in response to a higher tax is the product of a negative price elasticity of demand which is a fraction of the percentage change in price, typically less than 100%. The product of two fractions is smaller than both, meaning that the demand response is weak. Even if the magnitude of the long-run elasticity is bigger than the short-run value (say -0.4 < -0.2 or 0.4 > 0.2), the conclusion remains.

Finally, following Harberger and lurching into jargon, economists usually assume that the proceeds of a tax are passed in “lump sum” fashion back to consumers. This transfer produces an “income effect” stimulating demand for all goods including gasoline. The increase can partially offset the price-induced demand reduction due to “substitution” of other goods for lower purchases of gasoline. Substitution effects almost always dominate income effects, so that most of the transferred income gets spent on non-energy goods and services. Total gasoline consumption still declines.

Somewhat similar reasoning applies to electric vehicles (EVs). They have a great advantage in delivering around 70% of the energy they use for moving the vehicle as opposed to 25% for internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts. But the electricity has to come from some source. As of now 60% of the energy going toward electricity generation in the USA comes from fossil fuels. Unless that share is substantially reduced, EVs will not shift energy accounting by very much. They are efficient in reducing end-use of petroleum in the transport sector, but not effective in controlling CO2. Details appear below.

Read more …

Moon of Alabama with an original take.

Escalation In Palestine – Hizbullah Is Ready To Join The Fight (MoA)

The current war the occupiers of Palestine wage on the indigenous population has some unusual features. While the conflict was, without doubt, started by the colonial occupiers the course of the recent escalation seems to be managed by the resistance side. It may well be part of a larger plan. The Israeli army had for some time planned a large scale 30-days long maneuver to rehearse an attack on Hezbullah in Lebanon. Last week Hizbullah reacted to that: “The Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror organization has announced it is on high alert following the IDF’s launching of its largest-ever military exercise. The IDF launched on Sunday its “Chariots of Fire” month-long exercise simulating war on several fronts, and primarily against Hezbollah in the north, including the massive firing of missiles and rockets from all arenas on the home front. This is the largest and most comprehensive IDF maneuver in its history…”

[..] With unrest in Jerusalem, pogroms in Israeli cities, a potential third intifada in the occupied West Bank and a ground invasion of Gaza the Israeli army will be very busy. If it comes to that during the next few days the time could be right for Hizbullah, already on full alarm, to step in and to attack the occupation on the grounds that it is holding. Nasrallah’s speech last week can be understood as an announcement of such a step: “My last message will be for the Israelis themselves. I tell them this: you know well, in your heart of hearts, whether it is based on your religious texts or doctrines, on your books or your prophecies, and also based on what some of your leaders and experts say, and also some of your religious authorities, you know (very well) that this entity (Israel) has no future, that it is on the verge of extinction and that it has little time left to live, very little time. Therefore, in this battle you are wasting your energy, and your young people are wasting their youth and their blood, in vain and to no avail.”

We believe in this near future (where Israel won’t exist anymore), we believe in it very firmly, and this faith is not based only on religious and ideological bases, but is based (above all) on the data, on the events which occur, especially on those of the last decades, the last years and on what will happen (soon) in this region.”

It is possible that Netanyahoo had planned the original escalation in Jerusalem to stay in office: After four elections Israel still has no new government. Prime Minister Netanyahoo is on trial for corruption. A larger war that can be spun into a victory could help him to avoid a judgment and gain votes for the likely soon coming next election. It that was his plan he has achieved a first step towards it: “Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett has taken “off the table” the option of forming a government without Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, due to the ongoing military conflict with Gaza terrorists, a political source says. Bennett has renewed his negotiations with Likud due to the emergency situation, and teams from both parties met today, the source says on condition of anonymity.

But it is not Netanyahoo who can decide when the missiles from Gaza will stop flying. It is not Netanyahoo who can control the Palestinian youth. The escalation dominance is not in his hands but in the hands of the resistance. It is the resistance that decides when the conflict ends.

Read more …

Hedges has been there, done that.

Israel, the Big Lie (Chris Hedges)

I spent seven years in the Middle East as a correspondent, four of them as The New York Times Middle East Bureau Chief. I am an Arabic speaker. I lived for weeks at a time in Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison where over two million Palestinians exist on the edge of starvation, struggle to find clean water and endure constant Israeli terror. I have been in Gaza when it was pounded with Israeli artillery and air strikes. I have watched mothers and fathers, wailing in grief, cradling the bloodied bodies of their sons and daughters. I know the crimes of the occupation—the food shortages caused by the Israeli blockade, the stifling overcrowding, the contaminated water, the lack of health services, the near constant electrical outages due to the Israeli targeting of power plants, the crippling poverty, the endemic unemployment, the fear and the despair. I have witnessed the carnage.

I also have listened from Gaza to the lies emanating from Jerusalem and Washington. Israel’s indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill thousands of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war: It is state-sponsored terror. And, while I oppose the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinians into Israel, as I oppose suicide bombings, seeing them also as war crimes, I am acutely aware of a huge disparity between the industrial violence carried out by Israel against innocent Palestinians and the minimal acts of violence capable of being waged by groups such as Hamas. The false equivalency between Israeli and Palestinian violence was echoed during the war I covered in Bosnia.

Those of us in the besieged city of Sarajevo were pounded daily with hundreds of heavy shells and rockets from the surrounding Serbs. We were targeted by sniper fire. The city suffered a few dozen dead and wounded each day. The government forces inside the city fired back with light mortars and small arms fire. Supporters of the Serbs seized on any casualties caused by Bosnian government forces to play the same dirty game, although well over 90 percent of the killings in Bosnia were the fault of the Serbs, as is also true regarding Israel. The second and perhaps most important parallel is that the Serbs, like the Israelis, were the principal violators of international law. Israel is in breach of more than 30 U.N. Security Council resolutions. It is in breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that defines collective punishment of a civilian population as a war crime.

It is in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention for settling over half a million Jewish Israelis on occupied Palestinian land and for the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians when the Israeli state was founded and another 300,000 after Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank were occupied following the 1967 war. Its annexation of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights violates international law, as does its building of a security barrier in the West Bank that annexes Palestinian land into Israel. It is in violation of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 that states that Palestinian “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” This is the truth. Any other starting point for the discussion of what is taking place between Israel and the Palestinians is a lie.

Read more …

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Aug 142020
 


Marlon Brando screentest 1951

 

US Obesity Epidemic Threatens Effectiveness of Any COVID Vaccine (KHN)
Israeli Hospital Trials Fast Saliva Test for COVID-19 (R.)
The Pandemic and Medicare for All (TMI)
NYC Is Dead Forever. Here’s Why (Altucher)
What Kamala Harris Really Thinks of WikiLeaks (Lauria)
Some Questions About Kamala Harris’ Eligibility (NW)
China’s Banks At Risk As $500 Billion In Non-Performing Loans Revealed (SCMP)
China’s Debt Collectors Flourish As Consumers Flounder (R.)
US Seizes $2 Million From Terror-Linked Cryptocurrency Accounts (CNBC)
United Arab Emirates Sells Out Palestine For Israel (EI)
Experts Debunk Claims of GMO Crops Success (OffG)
Ford Is Slashing 10,000 Jobs, 6 Factories In Europe (ZH)
7 Million Jobs At Risk, European Airlines Could See “Further Declines” (ZH)
Volume of Greek Air Traffic Plunged 74.3% in 2020 (GR)

 

 

I was reading a piece by law professor John Eastman yesterday, before the entire left stumbled over each other to condemn it. I was thinking in my innocence that it’s interesting to know if questions over who’s a “natural born citizen” in America have ever truly been settled by politics or courts.

But I’m naive, and it’s attack time. They will defend Kamala Harris with all they got, with the entire MSM serving as their bullhorns. Which means Trump and his people have no choice but to go after her with all they got. Still, remembering the Obama birther fiasco, do they really want to die on this hill? Can’t we just leave it to the court system and legal experts? Or simply answer Eastman’s questions?

It’s all among signs of things to come between here and Nov. 3. Bill Barr yesterday promised that a first news flash from the Durham investigation into Russiagate origins will come out today, and that all of it will before Nov. 3. US elections are really just entertainment. Opium for the masses. Clickbaits, drama, anger, scandal. And I always thought it should be about people.

 

 

Not much movement in the numbers. We’re stuck in a broken record, with no progress anywhere. Not good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are 328 million Americans. 74 million of them are children. That leaves 254 million adults, of which 107 million are obese, or 42%. 42.4% have a BMI over 30. 9% are morbidly obese.

From this point of view, COVID is hardly the worst threat to either the people or the health care system. Or, to put it another way, it’s the people themselves that are the threat to the health care system.

Again, take high fructose corn syrup out of the diet, and you solve a huge chunk of that problem. Ban stuff that kills people, or make it much harder to get.

US Obesity Epidemic Threatens Effectiveness of Any COVID Vaccine (KHN)

For a world crippled by the coronavirus, salvation hinges on a vaccine. But in the United States, where at least 4.6 million people have been infected and nearly 155,000 have died, the promise of that vaccine is hampered by a vexing epidemic that long preceded COVID-19: obesity. Scientists know that vaccines engineered to protect the public from influenza, hepatitis B, tetanus and rabies can be less effective in obese adults than in the general population, leaving them more vulnerable to infection and illness. There is little reason to believe, obesity researchers say, that COVID-19 vaccines will be any different. “Will we have a COVID vaccine next year tailored to the obese? No way,” said Raz Shaikh, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“Will it still work in the obese? Our prediction is no.” More than 107 million American adults are obese, and their ability to return safely to work, care for their families and resume daily life could be curtailed if the coronavirus vaccine delivers weak immunity for them. In March, still early in the global pandemic, a little-noticed study from China found that heavier Chinese patients afflicted with COVID-19 were more likely to die than leaner ones, suggesting a perilous future awaited the U.S., whose population is among the heaviest in the world. And then that future arrived.

As intensive care units in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere filled with patients, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that obese people with a body mass index of 40 or more — known as morbid obesity or about 100 pounds overweight — were among the groups at highest risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19. About 9% of American adults are in that category. As weeks passed and a clearer picture of who was being hospitalized came into focus, federal health officials expanded their warning to include people with a body mass index of 30 or more. That vastly expanded the ranks of those considered vulnerable to the most severe cases of infection, to 42.4% of American adults.

Read more …

More rapid testing. Good. Bring it. Test yourself everyday at breakfast.

Israeli Hospital Trials Fast Saliva Test for COVID-19 (R.)

A newly developed saliva test aims to determine in less than a second whether or not you are infected with the novel coronavirus, Israel’s largest medical center said Thursday. Patients rinse their mouth with a saline wash and spit into a vial. This is then examined by a small spectral device that, in simple terms, shines light on the specimen and analyzes the reaction to see if it is consistent with COVID-19. With machine learning it gets more accurate over time. Eli Schwartz of the Center for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Center, who is leading the trial, said it was easier to use than PCR swabs commonly used to detect COVID-19.


“So far we have very promising results in this new method which will be much more convenient and much cheaper,” he said. The center said in an initial clinical trial involving hundreds of patients, the new artificial intelligence-based device identified evidence of the virus in the body at a 95% success rate. Amos Panet, an expert in molecular virology at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, said he would like to see more data and comparisons with existing tests before making a final judgment. The amount of virus present in saliva increases as patients get sicker, he said, and a big challenge is to detect in “people who are borderline.” “It will be a game changer only if we see validation of this technology against the current technology,” he said.

Read more …

Would M4A benefit the obese and hence diabetic? A long time ago, someone said: we’re raising a generation of blind amputees. How would a health care system deal with that?

The Pandemic and Medicare for All (TMI)

When the novel coronavirus first arrived in the United States, it spurred on remarkable message discipline among America’s political class. The consensus that emerged on both sides of the aisle dictated that no matter what happened, Americans ought to be glad they do not live in a country with socialized medicine. At the final Democratic presidential debate on March 15, former Vice President Biden pointed to COVID numbers in Italy as evidence that not only was Medicare for all not a solution to the crisis, but it would put the country at greater risk. “With all due respect for Medicare for all, you have a single-payer system in Italy,” the former vice president said. “It doesn’t work there. It has nothing to do with Medicare for all. That would not solve the problem at all.”

Weeks later, in early April, Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden echoed the sentiment in a Twitter spat with a Medicare for All supporter. “You might want to check out the death rate in France before you think the form of health system is the answer here,” she tweeted. Not long after, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen declaring the COVID-19 pandemic was “an indictment of socialized medicine.” “If you think today’s pandemic bolsters the case for socialized medicine, then ask yourself a simple question: If you came down with a serious case of COVID-19, would you rather be in an Italian hospital or an American one?” the piece opens, before lauding Biden’s debate answer.

Such arguments were never fair — the pandemic was only just starting in the United States, while COVID-19 had indeed rampaged across Europe, there were contributing factors like years of austerity and a lack of supply chain redundancy in the modern globalized economy. But now, just a few months later, these arguments completely and utterly fail. New infections are still surging in the U.S. while countries with national health care programs have long since gotten a handle on the virus. On Tuesday, the U.S. reported more new COVID cases in a single day than Italy, France, and the U.K. reported last month combined, and roughly 45 percent of their total deaths.

Read more …

Nice account from James Altucher. is he just getting old, or is New York really beyond salvation?

NYC Is Dead Forever. Here’s Why (Altucher)

People say, “NYC has been through worse” or “NYC has always come back.” No and no. First, when has NYC been through worse? Even in the 1970s, and through the 80s, when NYC was going bankrupt, and even when it was the crime capital of the US or close to it, it was still the capital of the business world (meaning: it was the primary place young people would go to build wealth and find opportunity), it was culturally on top of its game – home to artists, theater, media, advertising, publishing, and it was probably the food capital of the US. NYC has never been locked down for five months. Not in any pandemic, war, financial crisis, never. In the middle of the polio epidemic, when little kids (including my mother) were going paralyzed or dying (my mother ended up with a bad leg), NYC didn’t go through this.

This is not to say what should have been done or should not have been done. That part is over. Now we have to deal with what IS. In early March, many people (not me), left NYC when they felt it would provide safety from the virus and they no longer needed to go to work and all the restaurants were closed. People figured, “I’ll get out for a month or two and then come back.” They are all still gone. And then in June, during rioting and looting a second wave of NYC-ers (this time me) left. I have kids. Nothing was wrong with the protests but I was a little nervous when I saw videos of rioters after curfew trying to break into my building. Many people left temporarily but there were also people leaving permanently. Friends of mine moved to Nashville, Miami, Austin, Denver, Salt Lake City, Austin, Dallas, etc.

Now a third wave of people are leaving. But they might be too late. Prices are down 30-50% on both rentals and sales no matter what real estate people tell you. And rentals soaring in the second and third-tier cities. I’m temporarily, although maybe permanently, in South Florida now. I also got my place sight unseen. Robyn was looking at listings around Miami and then she saw an area we had never been to before. We found three houses we liked. She called the real estate agent. Place #1. Just rented that morning 50% higher than the asking price. Place #2. Also rented (New Yorkers – “they came from New York for three hours, saw the place, got it, went back to pack.”). Place #3. “Available.” “We’ll take it!” The first time we physically saw it was when we flew down and moved in. “This is temporary, right?” I confirmed with Robyn. But…I don’t know. I’m starting to like the sun a little bit. I mean, when it’s behind the shades. And when I am in air conditioning.

Read more …

All US politics is united against Julian Assange.

What Kamala Harris Really Thinks of WikiLeaks (Lauria)

During a September 2017 U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee debate on an intelligence bill a line was inserted that said WikiLeaks “resembles a non-state hostile intelligence service” and that the U.S. “should treat it as such.” “This language would help investigators secure the authorization needed to surveil those U.S. citizens thought to be associated with WikiLeaks,” a McClatchy report quoted a government lawyer as saying. “You need to show that someone is an agent of a foreign power,” said the lawyer, Robert Deitz, who held senior legal positions at the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Agency. “It’s possible that Assange has colleagues in this country that they need to focus on,” McClatchy quoted Deitz as saying, “noting that such action can only be done under court order.”

The non-state hostile agency phrase was directly lifted from a scurrilous speech by Mike Pompeo in his first address as CIA director. The language survived the committee and made it into the bill voted on by the full Senate. But before it did two senators raised objections to it. One was Ron Wyden of Oregon. The other was Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential candidate in November’s election. According to the McClatchy report, “Harris declared that she is ‘no supporter of WikiLeaks,’ which she said had done ‘considerable harm’ to the United States. But the clause on the group is ‘dangerous’ because it ‘fails to draw a bright line between WikiLeaks and legitimate news organizations that play a vital role in our democracy,’ according to her remarks for the record.”

Harris left no doubt that she is an enemy of WikiLeaks, as is her running mate, Joe Biden, who agreed it was more like a high-tech terrorist organization that Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers. Harris made clear she cared only about establishment media (which almost universally undergirds aggressive U.S. foreign policy) and was worried about it getting caught up in a WikiLeaks dragnet. She said she wants a “bright line” between publications such as The New York Times and WikiLeaks. Except, there can be no such legal line drawn as both establishment papers, like the Times, and WikiLeaks have done the exact same thing: possessed and published classified material.

Because there is no legal distinction, the Obama administration, which desperately wanted to indict WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, backed away citing its “New York Times problem.” The Trump administration had no such qualms and had Assange arrested in April 2019 and indicted on conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and 17 counts of the Espionage Act. The only bright line that can be drawn is political: a decision by the Department of Justice to not prosecute big media but to prosecute WikiLeaks for the same “crime”, which conflicts with First Amendment press freedoms. This is what Harris was calling for: Protect the state-managed corporate media but go after a serious publication that dares to reveal crimes of the U.S. government, which Harris wants to protect. In other words, for the same activity, the Times is afforded First Amendment protections, but WikiLeaks is not.

Read more …

There are questions one can’t ask.

Some Questions About Kamala Harris’ Eligibility (NW)

The fact that Senator Kamala Harris has just been named the vice presidential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has some questioning her eligibility for the position. The 12th Amendment provides that “no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.” And Article II of the Constitution specifies that “[n]o person except a natural born citizen…shall be eligible to the office of President.” Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time of Harris’ birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a “natural born citizen”—and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president.

“Nonsense,” runs the counter-commentary. Indeed, PolitiFact rated the claim of ineligibility as “Pants on Fire” false, Snopes rated it simply “False,” and from the other side of the political spectrum, Conservative Daily News likewise rated it “False.” All three (and numerous others) simply assert that Harris is eligible because she was born in Oakland—and is therefore a natural-born citizen from location of birth. The 14th Amendment says so, they all claim, and the Supreme Court so held in the 1898 case of U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark. But those claims are erroneous, at least as the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment was originally understood—an error to which even my good friend, renowned UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh, has fallen prey.

The language of Article II is that one must be a natural-born citizen. The original Constitution did not define citizenship, but the 14th Amendment does—and it provides that “all persons born…in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.” Those who claim that birth alone is sufficient overlook the second phrase. The person must also be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, and that meant subject to the complete jurisdiction, not merely a partial jurisdiction such as that which applies to anyone temporarily sojourning in the United States (whether lawfully or unlawfully). Such was the view of those who authored the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause; of the Supreme Court of the United States in the 1872 Slaughter-House Cases and the 1884 case of Elk v. Wilkins; of Thomas Cooley, the leading constitutional treatise writer of the day; and of the State Department, which, in the 1880s, issued directives to U.S. embassies to that effect.

The Supreme Court’s subsequent decision in Wong Kim Ark is not to the contrary. At issue there was a child born to Chinese immigrants who had become lawful, permanent residents in the United States—”domiciled” was the legally significant word used by the Court. But that was the extent of the Court’s holding (as opposed to broader language that was dicta, and therefore not binding). Indeed, the Supreme Court has never held that anyone born on U.S. soil, no matter the circumstances of the parents, is automatically a U.S. citizen.

Read more …

I’ve said it often before: none of this means much without also tallying shadow banks’ numbers.

China’s Banks At Risk As $500 Billion In Non-Performing Loans Revealed (SCMP)

China’s top banking regulatory official said on Thursday that the country’s banks have to deal with 3.4 trillion yuan (US$489.5 billion) worth of non-performing loans in 2020 – flagging a big risk for the banking system in the world’s second-largest economy. The total marks a hefty increase from 2.3 trillion yuan in 2019, and the value of bad loans could be even higher in 2021. Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said in an interview with the official Xinhua News Agency that the increase in non-performing loans (NPLs) – loans in default or close to default – will put huge pressure on the country’s banks, especially small and regional ones.

“As many loans are rolled over [in 2020], some problems will only emerge next year,” Guo was quoted by Xinhua as saying, adding that a rebound in bad loans is “inevitable” since the coronavirus shock has adversely affected so many companies. The warning by Guo, who is also the Communist Party secretary at the People’s Bank of China, came at a time when many of the country’s small banks are facing a moment of reckoning after years of undisciplined balance sheet expansion, as well as instances of fraud and corruption. Meanwhile, Guo said, Chinese banks have improved their loan structure – with more lending going toward manufacturing, infrastructure, technology and small businesses.

Guo added that Chinese banks are now being told to enhance their support of small businesses. In addition, he said he will encourage banks to invest more in corporate bonds. According to official statistics from Guo’s agency, the NPL ratio in China was among the lowest in the world. The ratio for Chinese commercial banks rose 0.03 percentage points in the second quarter to 1.94 per cent at the end of June. But hidden bad loans, if exposed, could easily wipe out bank profits and erode capital bases. In the first half of this year, the combined profits of Chinese banks dropped for the first time in more than a decade – falling 9.4 per cent to 1 trillion yuan in the first half of the year, government data shows.

Read more …

So, question is: who are the shadow banks’ debt collectors? Vinnie the Kneecapper and his friends?

China’s Debt Collectors Flourish As Consumers Flounder (R.)

It’s not a good sign for any economy when debt collectors are booming and in China right now, the industry is on a hiring spree. Whole Scene Asset Management, a debt recovery firm based in the southern province of Hunan, plans to double staff numbers to 400 people this year as it expands into new cities. “Debt collection companies have been mushrooming,” said company founder Zhang Haiyan. “And with bad loans growing this year, everyone is adding new hands.” Rival Bricsman is also hiring – hoping to boost headcount of around 1,000 by 400-500 this year after landing a deal to collect delinquent consumer loans for China Minsheng Bank (600016.SS), people with knowledge of the matter said, declining to identified as they were not authorised to talk to media.

Bricsman, which is based in the eastern province of Jiangsu and counts other large banks amongst its clients, did not respond to a request for comment. As increasing numbers of consumers struggle with lost income in an economy battered by the coronavirus and U.S-China tensions, a burgeoning wave of non-performing loans is sparking concern among lenders – both at specialist consumer financing firms and traditional banks – and even among debt collectors. China is the midst of “an unfolding debt crisis”, says Joe Zhang, a business consultant and until last month vice chairman at the country’s largest debt collector YX Asset Recovery. The delinquency rate for consumer debt is climbing and collecting on those loans has become much harder, he added, estimating that at some weaker non-bank consumer lenders, soured loans may account for 30% to 50% of their portfolios.

[..] Chinese consumer debt has ballooned over the past five years, fuelled in part as banks scrambled to issue credit cards, with outstanding debt for bank-issued cards doubling to 17.6 trillion yuan ($2.5 trillion). Internet-based consumer financing, which is only lightly regulated, has also grown – by a dizzying 400 times to nearly 8 trillion yuan since 2014, according to the Guanghua School of Management. And Chinese household debt – including mortgages and unsecured consumer loans – has swollen to levels equivalent to nearly 60% of GDP, up from 18% in 2008, the peak of the global financial crisis.

Read more …

300 anonymous accounts?!

US Seizes $2 Million From 300 Terror-Linked Cryptocurrency Accounts (CNBC)

The Justice Department said it dismantled an elaborate cyber campaign used by overseas terror organizations to finance their operations and seized $2 million from more than 300 cryptocurrency accounts in what it described as the largest-ever seizure of its kind. The Justice Department said three overseas terrorist groups — al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing; al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS — used cryptocurrencies and social media to raise funds for their terror campaigns. “It should not surprise anyone that our enemies use modern technology, social media platforms and cryptocurrency to facilitate their evil and violent agendas,” Attorney General William Barr said in a release.


“As announced today, we will seize the funds and the instrumentalities that provide a lifeline for their operations whenever possible,” he added. “Terrorist networks have adapted to technology, conducting complex financial transactions in the digital world, including through cryptocurrencies. IRS-CI special agents in the DC cybercrimes unit work diligently to unravel these financial networks,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said in a release. In one of the cases, the U.S. secretly took over websites that were operated by al-Qassam Brigades and monitored those who thought they had opened up their cyber wallets to the terror group but instead donated money to an account controlled by the U.S. government, according to court documents unsealed Thursday in the District of Columbia.

Read more …

Successfully dividing the Arab world’s support for Palestinians.

United Arab Emirates Sells Out Palestine For Israel (EI)

The United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to full normalization of relations, bringing their decades-long clandestine dealings proudly into the open. The so-called “Abraham Accords” sealing the deal were brokered by US officials. The deal is named for “the father of all three great faiths,” David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, told reporters at the Oval Office on Thursday. Religious and cultural tolerance is often used by Arab states and Israel to mask their efforts to normalize ties. Painting conflict in the region as stemming from a lack of understanding among religions is also a way to obscure its true origin: Israel’s violent dispossession of Palestinians and ongoing military occupation and steady ethnic cleansing of their land.

In exchange for normalization, Israel agreed to suspend plans to annex large swaths of the occupied West Bank “and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” according to the joint statement. However, this is spin. In reality, it was the United States that put Israel’s annexation plans on ice weeks ago. In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to annexation shortly after the announcement of the agreement. The UAE is merely using the American-imposed freeze as an opportunity to bring its secret ties with Israel dating back to the 1990s into the open. These secret relations have included military and intelligence cooperation and even joint military exercises.

[..] Relations between Israel and Gulf States including Saudi Arabia and the UAE are founded on a mutual enmity towards Iran. Liquidating Palestinian rights and bypassing the Palestinian issue is seen as key to building up this anti-Iran alliance under American oversight. Annexation, moreover, would only be a formal rubber stamp for what Israel has been doing on the ground for decades: stealing land, forcibly displacing Palestinians and building colonies in flagrant breach of international law. This violent colonization has never ceased and will not stop as a result of this agreement.

Read more …

India is Monsanto’s wet dream.

Experts Debunk Claims of GMO Crops Success (OffG)

On 6 July 2020, an article extolling the benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops appeared on the BloombergQuint website based on an interview with Dr Ramesh Chand, a member of the key Indian Government think tank Niti Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) . On 17 July, another piece that placed a positive spin on GM crops and gene-editing technology (Feeding 10 Billion People will Require Genetically Modified Food) appeared on the same site. According to Prof Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Dr Hans R Herren and Dr Peter E Kenmore, internationally renowned agricultural researchers, the pieces reported “sweeping unsupported claims” about the benefits of and need for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and related technologies in agriculture in India.

The three academics felt that “a responsible and factual response” was required and have written a letter – containing what could be described as the definitive analysis of Bt cotton in India – to Dr Ramesh Chand, Dr Rajiv Kumar (Niti Aayog Vice Chancellor) and Dr Amitabh Kant (Niti Aayog CEO). Chand is reported as saying that there is no credible study to show any adverse impact of growing Bt cotton in the last 18 years in the country (India’s only officially approved GM crop). This is simply not the case. Moreover, Gutierrez et al argue that all of the credible evidence shows any meagre increases in cotton yield after the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002 were largely due to increases in fertiliser use. Before proceeding, it is pertinent to address the claim that ‘feeding 10 billion people will require genetically modified food’.

If we take the case of India and its 1.3 billion-plus population, it has achieved self-sufficiency in food grains and has ensured that, in theory at least, there is enough food available to feed its entire population. It is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and millets and the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnuts, vegetables and fruit. However, food security for many Indians remains a distant dream. Hunger and malnutrition remain prevalent. But that is not because farmers don’t produce enough food. These problems result from other factors, including inadequate food distribution, social and economic policies, inequality and poverty. It is a case of ‘scarcity’ amid abundance (reflecting the situation globally). India even continues to export food while millions remain hungry. Productivity is not the issue.

And while proponents say GM will boost productivity and help secure cultivators a better income, this too ignores crucial political and economic contexts; with bumper harvests, Indian farmers still find themselves in financial distress. India’s farmers are not experiencing hardship due to low productivity. They are reeling from the effects of neoliberal policies and years of neglect. It’s for good reason that the calorie and essential nutrient intake of the rural poor has drastically fallen. Yet the pro-GMO lobby has wasted no time in wrenching these issues from their political contexts to use the notions of ‘helping farmers’ and ‘feeding the world’ as lynchpins of its promotional strategy.

Read more …

Everything travel related is getting hammered. There is no telling when it all will be back, or if it ever will. Bailing out the firms involved seems an awful waste of money. You do that for firms that have a future, not those that have a past.

Ford Is Slashing 10,000 Jobs, 6 Factories In Europe (ZH)

The auto industry continues to grapple with one of the worst recessions ever for the notoriously capital intensive sector. Ford, which feels like it has been in the midst of a yearslong “restructuring” that has never fully panned out or ended (and has involved numerous CEOs), continues to make major changes to its global personnel to try and find the right mix for its business going forward. This means that 10,000 positions are now being cut across Europe, the automaker disclosed yesterday. Ford is also going to be reducing the number of its plants in Europe to 17 from 23, the company revealed in a JP Morgan conference presentation on Wednesday.

In a slide called “Ford Euope: Road to Sustainable Profitability”, the company also disclosed it would be discontinuing underperforming vehicles, like its C-MAX and Grand C-Max. The company also plans on “leveraging” its relationship with VW. The company says it is on track to deliver on its 2020-2021 CO2 targets without credits or penalties and 13 new electic vehicles will be on sale by the end of 2020, up from just 5. This news comes days after it was announced that Ford would be replacing its CEO on relatively short notice. Ford said days ago it had tapped Jim Farley to replace a relatively still-newly appointed Jim Hackett as CEO. Hackett replaced former CEO Mark Fields and, for the most part, has failed to inspire confidence during his tenure at Ford.

Ford is currently in the middle of an $11 billion restructuring that is supposed to help to accelerate its development of new vehicles, including hybrids and EVs. Hackett had only just started with Ford back in 2017 and has said he will retire effective October. General Motors is following with a C-suite shakeup of its own, as its CFO leaves after just two years to work at a fintech startup. The company announced earlier this week that John Stapleton, GM North America chief financial officer, has been named its acting global chief financial officer, effective Aug. 15, after the resignation of the company’s current CFO, Dhivya Suryadevara.

Read more …

Isn’t that what we wanted? Less flying, less pollution?

7 Million Jobs At Risk, European Airlines Could See “Further Declines” (ZH)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) published a new report Thursday that warns the virus-induced downturn will continue to pressure air passenger numbers, employment and economies across Europe. IATA said passenger flights are expected to decline by 60% in 2020, resulting in millions of job losses in the aviation and tourism industries. IATA issued a similar warning of what has been announced by airlines, of which, complete recovery in passenger demand might not be seen until 2024. “The near-term outlook for recovery in Europe remains highly uncertain with respect to the second wave of the pandemic and the broader global economic impact it could have. Passenger demand in Europe is expected to recover gradually and will not reach 2019 levels until 2024. -IATA

IATA’s job loss estimate was increased by 17% from its June report, from 6 million to 7 million, mostly because the highly anticipated V-shaped recovery has failed to materialize. “It is desperately worrying to see a further decline in prospects for air travel this year, and the knock-on impact for employment and prosperity. said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe. Schvartzman said, “It shows once again the terrible effect that is being felt by families across Europe as border restrictions and quarantine continue. It is vital that governments and industry work together to create a harmonized plan for reopening borders.”

If another wave of the virus were to hit Europe, justifying nationwide lockdowns, it could intensify the recession. Though the German tabloid newspaper Bild has said: “There will be no second hard lockdown in Europe because that would lead to a monster recession that would not be accepted by the population.”

Read more …

20% of Greek GDP is tourism. So are at least 20% of jobs.

Volume of Greek Air Traffic Plunged 74.3% in 2020 (GR)

A report came out on Thursday confirming the worst fears of Greek economic experts, stating that the country had seen a drop of 74.3% in the number of passengers who had traveled through their airports so far this year. This amounts to only 9 million air travelers who had used airports in the country so far in 2020, a staggering drop of almost three-quarters of its business. The number of international visitors coming into Greek airports this year so far amounts to 1,126,429, a stunning decrease from last year’s banner tourism season, which saw a total of 4,096,657 international arrivals. Although very disappointing, the numbers did not come as a shock to any in the sector, due to the punishing effects of travel bans imposed on many nations because of the coronavirus pandemic.


According to Greek media reports, the Civil Aviation Authority, or CAA, reported the precipitous drop in business in the first seven months of this year relative to the numbers seen in 2019. For the month of July 2020 alone, the high season for summertime travel to the country, passenger traffic at Greek airports had decreased 72.6%. During the month of July, a total of only 2,722,854 million passengers came through Greece’s airports; in that same period, there was a precipitous drop of 72.5% in the number of foreign arrivals. This means that there were fewer passengers overall in the first seven months of 2020 than there had been in the month of July only in 2019.

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.