Sep 062020
 


Vincenzo Camuccini La Morte Di Cesare 1804

 

Trump and Biden Could Face Dramatic Post-Election Battle (Yoo)
Russia COVID19 Vaccine Effective Against Any Dose Of Virus (RT)
Total COVID19 Deaths Projected To Double In US, Triple in World By Jan. 1 (R.)
PCR Tests ‘Could Be Picking Up Dead Coronavirus’ (BBC)
Italian Mayor Wants Penalties For Wearing A Face Mask When Unnecessary (RT)
New Media Propaganda Tool: Use “Confirmed” to Mean its Opposite (Greenwald)
The Stunning Synergy of The Atlantic’s Anonymous Attack on Trump (Pollak)
Strzok Joins Weissmann, Doubts NYT story on FBI’s Trump-Russia Inquiry (WE)
The Fed’s New Policy Won’t Get Inflation (Roberts)
Majority Of US Young Adults Live With Parents For The 1st Time In 80 Years (Pew)

 

 

We’re full speed ahead into absolute election mayhem, and nobody’s even thinking of pulling the brakes. Throw in a second and third corona wave, more lockdowns, more riots.

 

 

Today’s numbers gain in importance because of a model (see below) that predicts that before January 1, US total deaths will more than double to 410,000, and the world’s will triple to 2.8 million. A bold prediction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suggest you read this well. You’ll understand how this really works, and come away thinking you don’t understand a thing.

Trump and Biden Could Face Dramatic Post-Election Battle (Yoo)

The Constitution requires the winner of the presidential election to garner a majority of the 538 votes in the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton won about 3 million more popular votes than Trump four years ago, but Trump won a clear Electoral College majority of 306-232. But if the election is close this year — as many prognosticators predict — and a few battleground states fail to report their votes on time, then neither President Trump nor former Vice President Biden might be able to assemble the required 270 electoral votes needed to become president. If such a stalemate occurs, a constitutional fail-safe would throw the election into the House of Representatives. Our nation barely avoided that outcome 20 years ago and has only used it twice in our history.

But even though the House will likely remain under Democratic control after the election, the Constitution’s process for resolving disputed elections should still bode well for Trump’s reelection. How could control of the White House end up in the domain of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.? It depends on the decisions made 230 years ago. America’s founders rejected the idea that Congress should pick the president, which they believed would rob the chief executive of independence, responsibility and energy. They wanted the American people to have the primary hand in choosing the president. But the founders wanted the choice mediated through the states, because they also feared direct democracy.

In a compromise that binds us still, the founders allowed state legislatures to pick electors for the president, based on their number of senators and members of the House combined. The state-based organization of the Electoral College and its slight advantage for states with small populations (which receive two extra Electoral College votes no matter their population, since every state has two senators) underscore the founders’ desire to give federalism a say in the choice of the president. The founders went further in designing their constitutional backup. They realized that the Electoral College might yield no majority winner. They expected that regions might support their favorite sons instead.

In Article II of the Constitution, as modified by the 12th Amendment, the framers established that if no one won a majority of Electoral College votes, the House would pick the president from the top three vote-getters. But Pelosi and the Democrats — assuming that they hold onto their majority in the House — still won’t pick the president. Rather than allowing a simple majority vote in the House to select the president, the Constitution requires that the House choose the president by voting as state delegations. That means that California (represented by 53 House members) and Delaware (represented by 1 House member) would each get a single vote to pick the president. Once again, the founders decided to amplify the voice of the states in the presidential selection process, rather than defaulting to pure democracy.

And that is how Trump could win the presidency again. If the Electoral College votes yield no majority winner Dec. 14, the Constitution sends the vote to the House. Thanks to Republican advantages among the states, rather than the cities, the current balance of state delegations in the House favors Republicans, with 26 delegations controlled by Republicans and 23 controlled by Democrats (Pennsylvania is tied). If today’s House chose the president by voting by state delegations, Trump would win. But there is one more twist. The 20th Amendment to the Constitution seats a new Congress on Jan. 3, but does not begin the term of a new president until noon on Jan. 20. That means the new House chosen in the November election, rather than the current House, would choose the president if neither Trump nor Biden wins an Electoral College majority.

Even though Republicans currently have a majority of House delegations, Democrats have narrowed the gap. After the 2016 elections, Republicans had held a 32-17 advantage in House delegations. If Democrats can win one more congressional seat in Pennsylvania and then flip one more delegation, they could achieve a 25-25 tie in the House in January. Under this scenario, the election would require political bargaining of the most extreme kind for the House to resolve a disputed presidential election. But suppose the House can’t agree, which could well be likely given the polarization of our politics. The Constitution even provides for this. If the House splits 25-25 between Trump and Biden, then the 20th Amendment elevates the vice president-elect to the presidency. Under the 20th Amendment, when the Electoral College fails, the Senate chooses the vice president.

But unlike the House procedure, the senators each have an individual vote, meaning that under the current balance in the upper chamber, 53 Republicans would choose Mike Pence to effectively become the next president. But one-third of the seats in the Senate will be filled in the November election, meaning control of the chamber could flip to the Democrats. Under this scenario, Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., could wind up as our next president and make history as the first woman to hold the office in American history. All of this is as complicated as it sounds. Election Day could be just the start of a new phase in a prolonged fight for control of the White House, rather than the conclusion of a long campaign.

Read more …

Vaccination to start as early as October. What if it is a huge success, what will the west do?

Russia COVID19 Vaccine Effective Against Any Dose Of Virus (RT)

The leader of the team behind Sputnik V said on Friday that the immune response documented among volunteers taking the world’s first registered coronavirus vaccine is sufficient to fight any level of Covid-19 infection. Alexander Gintsburg, head of Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, was speaking on the same day that The Lancet reported on trials confirming that every patient who received the vaccine had developed antibodies without any significant side-effects. The British publication, one of the oldest and best-respected medical journals in the world, confirmed that the Sputnik V vaccine had successfully produced antibodies in all 76 participants in early-stage trials.


“The vaccine’s immune response documented currently among volunteers is enough to counter any dose of Covid-19 that you could imagine,” Gintsburg said. Meanwhile, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has revealed that post-registration clinical trials of Sputnik V in the capital could last from two to six months. He also confirmed that mass vaccination is likely to start in late 2020 or early 2021. “Some batches will arrive as early as this year,” he told Russia’s Channel One TV in an interview shown on Saturday. “There’s every likelihood that they will be used to vaccinate risk groups. These are healthcare, education, trade, the housing and utilities sectors, law enforcement agencies and some others – perhaps journalists.”

Read more …

We need more models than just this one. But scary it is.

Total COVID19 Deaths Projected To Double In US, Triple in World By Jan. 1 (R.)

U.S. deaths from the coronavirus will reach 410,000 by the end of the year, more than double the current death toll, and deaths could soar to 3,000 per day in December, the University of Washington’s health institute forecast on Friday. Deaths could be reduced by 30% if more Americans wore face masks as epidemiologists have advised, but mask-wearing is declining, the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said. The U.S. death rate projected by the IHME model, which has been cited by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, would more than triple the current death rate of some 850 per day.


“We expect the daily death rate in the United States, because of seasonality and declining vigilance of the public, to reach nearly 3,000 a day in December,” the institute, which bills itself as an independent research center, said in an update of its periodic forecasts. “Cumulative deaths expected by January 1 are 410,000; this is 225,000 deaths from now until the end of the year,” the institute said. It previously projected 317,697 deaths by Dec. 1. The model’s outlook for the world was even more dire, with deaths projected to triple to 2.8 million by Jan. 1, 2021.

Read more …

Why have we been focusing on PCR as much as we have? It is so far from perfect it’s not funny anymore.

PCR Tests ‘Could Be Picking Up Dead Coronavirus’ (BBC)

The main test used to diagnose coronavirus is so sensitive it could be picking up fragments of dead virus from old infections, scientists say. Most people are infectious only for about a week, but could test positive weeks afterwards. Researchers say this could be leading to an over-estimate of the current scale of the pandemic. But some experts say it is uncertain how a reliable test can be produced that doesn’t risk missing cases. Prof Carl Heneghan, one of the study’s authors, said instead of giving a “yes/no” result based on whether any virus is detected, tests should have a cut-off point so that very small amounts of virus do not trigger a positive result. He believes the detection of traces of old virus could partly explain why the number of cases is rising while hospital admissions remain stable.

[..] The PCR swab test – the standard diagnostic method – uses chemicals to amplify the virus’s genetic material so that it can be studied. Your test sample has to go through a number of “cycles” in the lab before enough virus is recovered. Just how many can indicate how much of the virus is there – whether it’s tiny fragments or lots of whole virus. This in turn appears to be linked to how likely the virus is to be infectious – tests that have to go through more cycles are less likely to reproduce when cultured in the lab. But when you take a coronavirus test, you get a “yes” or “no” answer. There is no indication of how much virus was in the sample, or how likely it is to be an active infection.

A person shedding a large amount of active virus, and a person with leftover fragments from an infection that’s already been cleared, would receive the same – positive – test result. But Prof Heneghan, the academic who spotted a quirk in how deaths were being recorded, which led Public Health England to reform its system, says evidence suggests coronavirus “infectivity appears to decline after about a week”. He added that while it would not be possible to check every test to see whether there was active virus, the likelihood of false positive results could be reduced if scientists could work out where the cut-off point should be. This could prevent people being given a positive result based on an old infection.

And Prof Heneghan said that would stop people quarantining or being contact-traced unnecessarily, and give a better understanding of the current scale of the pandemic. Public Health England agreed viral cultures were a useful way of assessing the results of coronavirus tests and said it had recently undertaken analysis along these lines. It said it was working with labs to reduce the risk of false positives, including looking at where the “cycle threshold”, or cut-off point, should be set. But it said there were many different test kits in use, with different thresholds and ways of being read, which made providing a range of cut-off points difficult.

Read more …

Hear hear. It’s important to avoid unneeded pressure. Already, renewed lockdowns lead to a lot of protest. As predicted: you need to get the first one right, or trouble’s on the way.

Italian Mayor Wants Penalties For Wearing A Face Mask When Unnecessary (RT)

These days, going out without wearing a face mask is considered poor form – and, in some places, an offense. But the mayor of an Italian town says fines should be slapped on those wearing a mask in an “inappropriate” situation. In the same way global health authorities insist masks contain the spread of coronavirus, Vittorio Sgarbi, the mayor of Sutri, is confident his unorthodox initiative will help stem the spread of “pandemic-related hysteria,” as he put it, according to the TASS news agency. The lingering Covid-19 pandemic has so far infected close to 275,000 people in Italy and killed more than 35,500 – almost seven times the entire population of Sutri. Yet, for Sgarbi, mandatory mask-wearing should have its limits, particularly when public safety is at stake.


Sgarbi, who is also a renowned art historian, cultural commentator, and television personality, told TASS he had issued a decree – yet to be approved by the Italian government – calling for imposition of a fine for wearing a mask in a situation when it’s not needed. “My decree has been issued under the current terrorism prevention laws,” he told the Russian media outlet. The legislation in question says people shouldn’t have their faces covered in a public place. Breaching this law can result in a one or two-year prison sentence or a fine of up to €2,000 (around $2,365). Sgarbi made it clear that anyone breaking his ban wouldn’t incur such a harsh penalty, but that people should wear a mask only when the occasion requires. “Wearing a mask at dinner is absurd,” he clarified. The mayor is no stranger to going against the mainstream. Ahead of the pandemic, he reportedly dismissed coronavirus as “a flu” and ridiculed those raising concerns about the looming crisis. He later made a formal apology when the death toll surged.

Read more …

The story stinks.

New Media Propaganda Tool: Use “Confirmed” to Mean its Opposite (Greenwald)

It seems the same misleading tactic is now driving the supremely dumb but all-consuming news cycle centered on whether President Trump, as first reported by the Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, made disparaging comments about The Troops. Goldberg claims that “four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day” — whom the magazine refuses to name because they fear “angry tweets” — told him that Trump made these comments. Trump, as well as former aides who were present that day (including Sarah Huckabee Sanders and John Bolton), deny that the report is accurate. So we have anonymous sources making claims on one side, and Trump and former aides (including Bolton, now a harsh Trump critic) insisting that the story is inaccurate.

Beyond deciding whether or not to believe Goldberg’s story based on what best advances one’s political interests, how can one resolve the factual dispute? If other media outlets could confirm the original claims from Goldberg, that would obviously be a significant advancement of the story. Other media outlets — including Associated Press and Fox News — now claim that they did exactly that: “confirmed” the Atlantic story. But if one looks at what they actually did, at what this “confirmation” consists of, it is the opposite of what that word would mean, or should mean, in any minimally responsible sense. AP, for instance, merely claims that “a senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events and a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump’s comments confirmed some of the remarks to The Associated Press,” while Fox merely said “a former senior Trump administration official who was in France traveling with the president in November 2018 did confirm other details surrounding that trip.”

In other words, all that likely happened is that the same sources who claimed to Jeffrey Goldberg, with no evidence, that Trump said this went to other outlets and repeated the same claims — the same tactic that enabled MSNBC and CBS to claim they had “confirmed” the fundamentally false CNN story about Trump Jr. receiving advanced access to the WikiLeaks archive. Or perhaps it was different sources aligned with those original sources and sharing their agenda who repeated these claims. Given that none of the sources making these claims have the courage to identify themselves, due to their fear of mean tweets, it is impossible to know. But whatever happened, neither AP nor Fox obtained anything resembling “confirmation.”

They just heard the same assertions that Goldberg heard, likely from the same circles if not the same people, and are now abusing the term “confirmation” to mean “unproven assertions” or “unverifiable claims” (indeed, Fox now says that “two sources who were on the trip in question with Trump refuted the main thesis of The Atlantic’s reporting”). It should go without saying that none of this means that Trump did not utter these remarks or ones similar to them. He has made public statements in the past that are at least in the same universe as the ones reported by the Atlantic, and it is quite believable that he would have said something like this (though the absolute last person who should be trusted with anything, particularly interpreting claims from anonymous sources, is Jeffrey Goldberg, who has risen to one of the most important perches in journalism despite (or, more accurately because of) one of the most disgraceful and damaging records of spreading disinformation in service of the Pentagon and intelligence community’s agenda).

Read more …

An across the board set-up. And yes, there will be more.

The Stunning Synergy of The Atlantic’s Anonymous Attack on Trump (Pollak)

The Atlantic published a story Thursday evening that claimed President Donald Trump called the fallen American soldiers in a World War I cemetery “suckers” and “losers” in 2018. The author, Jeffrey Goldberg, cited four anonymous sources. Nearly a dozen current and former Trump administration officials disputed the story. One, notably, was John Bolton, the former national security adviser who says he will not vote for Trump. “I was there,” he said, and “I didn’t hear that.” Other claims in The Atlantic story are refuted by documentary evidence. The article claims, for instance, that Trump refused to visit the cemetery because the rain would ruin his hair. Bolton’s tell-all book said otherwise; so do official documents.

What is more interesting than the details of the story is how it was produced, and how it was rolled out. It has the appearance of a well-coordinated, well-executed campaign of disinformation, utilizing the full toolbox available to the Democratic Party. The article was published Thursday evening. By Friday morning, a left-wing group called Vote Vets had not only produced an ad based on the article, but had aired it on Morning Joe — MSNBC’s early-morning flagship news and opinion show. Meanwhile, the article spread across social media like a brush fire in a derecho. It trended at the top of Twitter; it was shared widely on Facebook, all without any of the “fact checks” that typically accompany disputed news reports on such platforms.

The Biden campaign issued a statement Thursday night — “If the revelations in today’s Atlantic article are true” — and held a press call Friday morning. The call featured, among others, Khizr Khan — the Gold Star father who attacked Trump in 2016. A short time later, Biden himself held a press briefing on the U.S. economy. Though he was expected to discuss the August jobs report — which came in better than expected, at 1.4 million jobs added — he led with an angry tirade about the article. At the end of his presentation, Biden turned to his campaign staff, who chose which reporters would be allowed to ask questions, and in what order. The first question went to Edward-Isaac Dovere, who writes for — surprise! — The Atlantic.

Dovere asked, “When you hear these remarks — ‘suckers,’ ‘losers,’ recoiling from amputees — what does it tell you about President Trump’s soul, and the life he leads?” It was a setup for Biden to attack Trump over The Atlantic allegations again. None of the other questions asked were challenging in any way; all appeared to be setup questions for Biden to attack Trump or to clarify some lingering problem — whether he had been tested for coronavirus (yes), where his running mate was (busy). No one asked Biden whether it was appropriate to attack Trump based on an unconfirmed report. No one even asked Biden about his economic policies.

What we witnessed Thursday night into Friday morning was the deployment of the Death Star — the full Democrat-media complex on display, coordinating journalists, outside political organizations, tech platforms, and unnamed military sources. It may be no coincidence that retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal — who was fired, ironically, because he had disparaged President Barack Obama and Biden — now advises a firm using military technology to help Democrats produce propaganda. It took weapons-grade skill to produce a story that, while unprovable, had the ring of truth to those eager to believe it (it “resonates,” said NBC’s Peter Alexander, whether it was true or not) and to make it the dominant story of the news cycle — on a day when the jobs market rebounded and Trump brokered a historic deal between Israel and Muslim-majority Kosovo.

Goldberg — the unofficial stenographer of the Obama White House — was just a vehicle. The real story is much bigger. The same machine that created and promoted The Atlantic piece will be sure to produce others.

Read more …

He doubts Rosenstein frustrated the inquiry. Strzok has a book out, you’ll hear a lot about it soon. It argues there were tons of reasons for the inquiry.

Strzok Joins Weissmann, Doubts NYT story on FBI’s Trump-Russia Inquiry (WE)

Controversial FBI agent Peter Strzok cast further doubt on a New York Times story that claimed the Justice Department secretly blocked special counsel Robert Mueller’s team from conducting a Trump-Russia counterintelligence investigation without informing the FBI. Strzok, who was a key member in the FBI’s investigation into both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s improper private email server and Crossfire Hurricane’s Trump-Russia inquiry, said he “didn’t feel such a limitation” during his time on Mueller’s team when asked about a piece by New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt, whose article was adapted from his new book, Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President.

Mueller’s “pitbull,” Andrew Weissmann, also cast doubt on the story a few days ago, and Mueller’s report and testimony also seem to contradict some claims made by the New York Times. “The Justice Department secretly took steps in 2017 to narrow the investigation into Russian election interference and any links to the Trump campaign, according to former law enforcement officials, keeping investigators from completing an examination of President Trump’s decades-long personal and business ties to Russia,” the New York Times reported on Sunday, adding the FBI opened the counterintelligence investigation in May 2017, but “within days,” former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “curtailed the investigation without telling the bureau, all but ensuring it would go nowhere.”

Anne Applebaum of the Atlantic asked Strzok during an interview published Friday about the report, which she said, “suggests that the Justice Department secretly took steps in 2017 to narrow the investigation, precisely so that it would not touch on the president’s long-standing relationship with Russia.” Strzok cast doubt on that. “During the time I worked at the Special Counsel’s Office, I didn’t feel such a limitation,” Strzok replied. “When I discussed this with Mueller and others, it was agreed that FBI personnel attached to the Special Counsel’s Office would do the counterintelligence work, which necessarily included the president. But that’s an extraordinarily complex task, one of the most difficult counterintelligence investigations in the FBI’s history.”

Strzok added that “perhaps the FBI is somehow carrying out a comprehensive survey, with the full involvement of the CIA and NSA and the entire U.S. intelligence community” but said he worried that the inquiry “largely died on the vine.” Strzok was removed from Mueller’s team when numerous anti-Trump texts he’d exchanged with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, were unearthed, and he was fired in 2018. Strzok is currently suing the Justice Department. Weissmann also said the New York Times was wrong about its FBI counterintelligence story, tweeting, “NYT story today is wrong re: alleged secret DOJ order prohibiting a counterintelligence investigation by Mueller, ‘without telling the bureau.’ Dozens of FBI agents/analysts were embedded in Special Counsel’s Office and we were never told to keep anything from them.”

Read more …

Lance Roberts lists 5 reasons why, I picked my per peeve: monetary velocity. That alone does the trick.

5 Reasons The Fed’s New Policy Won’t Get Inflation (Roberts)

What the Federal Reserve has failed to grasp is that monetary policy is “deflationary” when “debt” is required to fund it. How do we know this? Monetary velocity tells the story. What is “monetary velocity?” “The velocity of money is important for measuring the rate at which money in circulation is used for purchasing goods and services. Velocity is useful in gauging the health and vitality of the economy. High money velocity is usually associated with a healthy, expanding economy. Low money velocity is usually associated with recessions and contractions.” – Investopedia. With each monetary policy intervention, the velocity of money has slowed along with the breadth and strength of economic activity.

However, it isn’t just the expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet which is undermining the strength of the economy. It is also the ongoing suppression of interest rates to try and stimulate economic activity. In 2000, the Fed “crossed the Rubicon,” whereby lowering interest rates did not stimulate economic activity. Instead, the “debt burden” detracted from it.

To illustrate the last point, we can compare monetary velocity to the deficit. To no surprise, monetary velocity increases when the deficit reverses to a surplus. Such allows revenues to move into productive investments rather than debt service. The problem for the Fed is the misunderstanding of the derivation of organic economic inflation.

[..] in order to generate “real inflation,” economic growth must be strong enough to support employment that exceeds the rate of population growth. That employment must ALSO be productive (manufacturing based) employment which leads to higher wages. (Service jobs are deflationary as they go to the lower cost of labor.) Higher wages lead to increased consumption which allows producers to increase prices (inflation) over time. This has not been the case for nearly 40-years as technology continues to reduce the demand for labor by increasing productivity. This is the “dark side” of technology that no one wants to talk about. However, this cannot be achieved in an economy saddled by $75 Trillion in debt which diverts income from consumption to debt service. This is why “monetary velocity” began to decline as total debt passed the point of being “productive” to become “destructive.”

Read more …

Virus, income and a few shut dorms.

Majority Of US Young Adults Live With Parents For The 1st Time In 80 Years (Pew)

In July, 52% of young adults resided with one or both of their parents, up from 47% in February, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of monthly Census Bureau data. The number living with parents grew to 26.6 million, an increase of 2.6 million from February. The number and share of young adults living with their parents grew across the board for all major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and metropolitan and rural residents, as well as in all four main census regions. Growth was sharpest for the youngest adults (ages 18 to 24) and for White young adults. The share of young adults living with their parents is higher than in any previous measurement (based on current surveys and decennial censuses).

Before 2020, the highest measured value was in the 1940 census at the end of the Great Depression, when 48% of young adults lived with their parents. The peak may have been higher during the worst of the Great Depression in the 1930s, but there is no data for that period. The share of young adults living with parents declined in the 1950 and 1960 censuses before rising again. The monthly share in the Current Population Survey has been above 50% since April of this year, reaching and maintaining this level for the first time since CPS data on young adults’ living arrangements became available in 1976.


Young adults have been particularly hard hit by this year’s pandemic and economic downturn, and have been more likely to move than other age groups, according to a Pew Research Center survey. About one-in-ten young adults (9%) say they relocated temporarily or permanently due to the coronavirus outbreak, and about the same share (10%) had somebody move into their household. Among all adults who moved due to the pandemic, 23% said the most important reason was because their college campus had closed, and 18% said it was due to job loss or other financial reasons.

Read more …

 

 

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Gettysburg Address. All of 272 words.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 302020
 


Pablo Picasso Girl Before A Mirror 1932

 

Rapid Home COVID19 Tests Could Help Find People While They Are Contagious (NP)
DNI Ratcliffe: Election Security Briefings Will Now Come In Written Form (JTN)
3/4 of Democratic Voters Still Believe Trump Campaign Colluded With Russia (JTN)
Will Hillary And The Dems Get The Civil War They Are Trying To Provoke? (Saker)
Michael Moore Warns That Donald Trump Is On Course To Repeat 2016 Win (G.)
Steele Associate Offered To ‘Feed’ Michael Flynn Story To WaPo Columnist (DC)
With New Monetary Policy Approach, Fed Lays Phillips Curve To Rest (R.)
Ex-Australia PM Menzies Boasted Of Delivering Large Budget Deficits (ABC.au)
Italy Evacuates Dozens From Overcrowded Banksy-Funded Migrant Rescue Boat (RT)
Airlines Warn Flying Back 100,000 Stranded Australians Will Take 6 Months (G.)

 

 

We passed 25 million global cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japan:
– Population: 126 Million
– COVID deaths: 1,255 (10/M)
– % Obese: 4%

USA:
– Population: 328 Million
– COVID deaths: 183,000 (558/M)
– % Obese: 40%

If the US had the same obesity as Japan, we would have only 3,280 COVID deaths. 179,720 lives would have been saved…

 

 

Anti Face Mask Issue Solved

 

 

There is so much wrong with PCR tests, yet the “experts” refuse to even discuss rapid tests. Time to change that, test people every day in 15 minutes, not let them wait for days or weeks.

Rapid Home COVID19 Tests Could Help Find People While They Are Contagious (NP)

Cheap, rapid COVID-19 tests simple enough to use anywhere — home, school, the office — could help us climb out of the pandemic disaster, says infectious diseases specialist Dr. Andrew Morris. Just spit into a tube or swab your nose, wait a few minutes for the stripes to change colour — results available within minutes. With no vaccines or “fantastic therapies” for COVID, the best we can do is keep infected people out of buildings to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus, says Morris. Which is why he finds it “absurd” that Heath Canada says the risks of home or self-testing kits outweigh the benefits and that it will reject applications for such devices “without compelling new evidence to the contrary.”

The federal health agency worries that, “without the guidance of a health-care professional,” people would use the home test kit improperly or “misinterpret the results” and that it could be impossible to collect test results — information that’s key to “important health decisions involving disease control during an outbreak,” the department said in an emailed statement. “If it’s done in a haphazard way … you might actually create more problems, confusion than the actual benefits because you might get maybe a higher risk of false negative results,” Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Tuesday during a COVID-19 briefing. Morris wants the government to seriously rethink its position on home testing. They’re not the solution to COVID, but they are part of it, he believes.

Cheap, rapid testing is the backbone of infectious disease management, says Morris, of the Sinai Health System and University Health Network in Toronto. “But if Health Canada says ‘we aren’t even interested in these tests,’ they are neither being open-minded nor strategic in understanding the potential of these tests.” It has echoes of earlier federal dismissals of face masks, when officials worried masks would lead to a “false sense of security” and more face-touching. “The current strategy is not to trust the public… and we need to change that,” Morris says. The gold standard of testing today is a workhorse called reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, which amplifies SARS-CoV-2 from nasal swabs, so that minute amounts of RNA can be detected.

Anyone who is sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19, or who thinks he or she may have been exposed, can get PCR testing. But PCR testing isn’t designed around getting our lives back to normal, Morris says. It’s expensive, testing capacity is seriously limited and it can take days to get results. Vancouver has seen traffic gridlock at testing sites as B.C. battles with a surge in cases. Ottawa has had four-hour-long waits at its COVID testing sites. “The only way we can get our society back up and running is by having some better situational awareness than what we have,” Morris says.

[..] Rapid tests aren’t perfect. They aren’t as sensitive as PCR tests. But they don’t need to be perfect, argues Harvard Medical School epidemiologist Michael Mina. Mina says the tests can detect the virus when a person is most infectious, with high viral loads. “The vast majority of PCR positive tests we currently collect in this country are actually finding people long after they have ceased to be infectious,” Mina told Harvard Magazine. Paper-strip test could cost less than one or two U.S. dollars to produce, he says. Millions could take them daily or every other day. Frequent testing, with fast results, would help break chains of transmission, Mina tweeted this week. Morris has heard talk the FDA is expected to authorize several lateral flow assay tests for COVID-19 in the coming weeks. “And nothing by Health Canada. To me, this is a massive, massive blind spot.”

Read more …

I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, because he provokes this gem from Adam Schiff (is this the 1950s?): “..the Trump administration “clearly does not want Congress or the country informed of what Russia is doing.”

DNI Ratcliffe: Election Security Briefings Will Now Come In Written Form (JTN)

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe informed senators and representatives on Friday that election security briefings, previously given to Congress in person, will between now and the November elections be delivered in written form. The letter, which was sent on Friday and declassified on Saturday afternoon, notes that the intelligence community has given Congress dozens of briefings on election security over the past two years. “While many of these engagements and products have been successful and productive, others have been less so,” Ratcliffe wrote in the document.

“In order to ensure clarity and consistency across the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s … engagements with Congress on elections,” Ratcliffe continued, “the ODNI will primary meet its obligation to keep Congress fully and currently informed leading into the Presidential election through written finished intelligence products.”

Ratcliffe said the move will help ensure that intelligence information is neither “misunderstood nor politicized,” and that the new protocol will “protect our sources and methods and most sensitive intelligence from additional unauthorized disclosures or misuse.” Democrats on Saturday evening slammed the decision. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter that the move represented “a shocking abdication of [ODNI’s] responsibility to keep Congress informed.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, meanwhile, claimed that the Trump administration “clearly does not want Congress or the country informed of what Russia is doing.”

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Schiff can also claim a large role in this. Where’s that evidence, Adam? We’re still waiting.

3/4 of Democratic Voters Still Believe Trump Campaign Colluded With Russia (JTN)

Three-quarters of Democratic voters believe that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to steal the 2016 election, according to a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen. Asked whether it was more likely that Trump colluded with Russia in 2016 or that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign that year, 73% of Democrats said the Russia collusion theory was more likely to have occurred. In contrast, 67% of Republicans expressed more belief in the claim that the Obama administration spied on Trump during that election. Overall, 43% of voters put more stock in the Russia story.


The Russia collusion theory dominated headlines and politics for roughly the first three years of the Trump administration. A 22-month, special counsel probe led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller concluded without finding evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election. The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Rasmussen using a mixed-mode approach from August 20-22.

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“The Dems won’t get their civil war – but they will suffer the blowback for their attempts to destroy the United States.”

Will Hillary And The Dems Get The Civil War They Are Trying To Provoke? (Saker)

I don’t see a civil war happening in the US. But I do think that this country can, and probably will, break-up into different zones so to speak. In some regions, law and order will be maintained, by force is needed, while in others something new will appear: what the French call “des zones de non-droit“, meaning “areas of lawlessness” in which law enforcement will be absent (either because the political leaders will refuse to engage them, or because they will simply have to withdraw under fire). Typically, such zones have a parallel “black” economy which can make the gangs which control such zones very wealthy (think of Russia in the 1990s). Eventually, a lot of people will flee from such zones and seek refuge in the safer areas of the country (this process has already begun in New York).


Right now, there are a little over two months before the election, and I think that it is safe to say that the situation will deteriorate even faster and much worse. By November 2nd the country will be “ready” (so to speak) for a massive explosion of violence followed by months of chaos. Many will probably vote Trump just because they will (mistakenly) believe that he is the only politician who will stand against what the Dems promise to unleash against the majority of “deplorables” who want to keep their country and traditions. At the core, the conflict we are now witnessing is a conflict about identity, something which most people deeply care about. Sooner or later, there will be push-back against the Dems attempt to turn the USA into some kind of obese transgender liberal Wakanda run by crooks, freaks and thugs. The Dems won’t get their civil war – but they will suffer the blowback for their attempts to destroy the United States.

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Michael Moore’s winning slogan and strategy: the Democrats are terrible, but you DO have to vote for them.

Michael Moore Warns That Donald Trump Is On Course To Repeat 2016 Win (G.)

The documentary film-maker Michael Moore has warned that Donald Trump appears to have such momentum in some battleground states that liberals risk a repeat of 2016 when so many wrote off Trump only to see him grab the White House. “Sorry to have to provide the reality check again,” he said. Moore, who was one of few political observers to predict Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, said that “enthusiasm for Trump is off the charts” in key areas compared with the Democratic party nominee, Joe Biden. “Are you ready for a Trump victory? Are you mentally prepared to be outsmarted by Trump again? Do you find comfort in your certainty that there is no way Trump can win? Are you content with the trust you’ve placed in the DNC [Democratic National Committee] to pull this off?” Moore posted on Facebook late on Friday.

Moore identified opinion polling in battleground states such as Minnesota and Michigan to make a case that the sitting president is running alongside or ahead of his rival. “The Biden campaign just announced he’ll be visiting a number of states – but not Michigan. Sound familiar?” Moore wrote, presumably indicating Hillary Clinton’s 2016 race when she made the error of avoiding some states that then swung to Trump. “I’m warning you almost 10 weeks in advance. The enthusiasm level for the 60 million in Trump’s base is OFF THE CHARTS! For Joe, not so much,” he later added. He continued to voters: “Don’t leave it to the Democrats to get rid of Trump. YOU have to get rid of Trump. WE have to wake up every day for the next 67 days and make sure each of us are going to get a hundred people out to vote. ACT NOW!”

Moore, a vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders’s leftwing candidacy, warned in October 2016 that “Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘f*** you’ ever recorded in human history – and it will feel good,” even as Clinton appeared to be sailing to victory. “Whether Trump means it or not is kind of irrelevant because he’s saying the things to people who are hurting, and that’s why every beaten-down, nameless, forgotten working stiff who used to be part of what was called the middle class loves Trump,” Moore warned at that time.

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A lot of people in that camp were actively working on this. There are new names just about every day.

Steele Associate Offered To ‘Feed’ Michael Flynn Story To WaPo Columnist (DC)

A former associate of Sen. John McCain served as a key conduit between journalists and dossier author Christopher Steele in early 2017, going so far as offering to “feed” stories about Trump associates to a Washington Post columnist, according to documents from a British court proceeding. David Kramer, a former State Department official who worked at the McCain Institute, kept Steele apprised of his contacts in January 2017 with journalists from BuzzFeed News, CNN, ABC News, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post regarding aspects of the dossier. Kramer relayed information he learned from reporters at ABC News and the Journal regarding the dossier’s allegation that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague, according to text messages read at a defamation trial against Steele in London last month.

The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained a transcript of the closed-door court proceedings, which were held in London from July 20-24. Steele, a former MI6 officer, is being sued by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian businessman who Steele’s dossier accuses of hacking Democrats’ computer systems in 2016. Kramer was already known to have met with reporters to discuss the dossier. He has acknowledged providing the dossier to a reporter for BuzzFeed News, which published the salacious document on Jan. 10, 2017. But the Steele messages suggest Kramer played a more proactive role in trying to put negative stories in the media about Trump associates. Kramer’s most eye-catching references are to David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist who writes about national security issues.

“The Flynn calls story is picking up legs,” Kramer wrote to Steele, seemingly referring to a Jan. 12, 2017, column by Ignatius that revealed that Flynn spoke by phone weeks earlier with Sergey Kislyak. According to text messages read at the trial, Kramer suggested to Steele that he would provide dirt on Trump associates to Ignatius. “I think it’s time to get that other [Manafort] story out there,” Kramer wrote in a message to Steele, referring to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. “And Ignatius is the one I’ll feed it to,” he also wrote. Steele insisted during his testimony that Kramer was suggesting feeding a story to Ignatius about Flynn rather than Manafort. “It’s a Michael Flynn story, isn’t it?” Steele asked during the cross-examination.

He went on to say that the information regarding Flynn he discussed with Kramer was not found in the dossier. “Any story here about Michael Flynn is completely independent of anything in the dossier,” said Steele. The former spy did not describe the Flynn story, but Kramer told the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 that Steele told him that he believed that Flynn had an affair with a Russian-British researcher in the United Kingdom. The unverified allegation matches closely with stories that appeared in the media in March 2017 that alleged that Flynn had improper contacts with former Cambridge researcher Svetlana Lokhova in 2014, when Flynn visited the historic university as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

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“Decades of thought at the Fed are now being pushed aside.”

In most other jobs, if you’ve been wrong for decades, you get fired or resign. But when you’re handling trillions of dollars, there are different standards.

With New Monetary Policy Approach, Fed Lays Phillips Curve To Rest (R.)

One of the fundamental theories of modern economics may have finally been put to rest. In the several years before the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the global economy, Federal Reserve policymakers watched as the U.S. unemployment rate fell lower and lower and waited for the jump in inflation typically associated with such a tight labor market. The expectations were based on a rule that has shaped decades of monetary policy decisions: the Phillips curve, or the concept that inflation tends to rise when the unemployment rate falls, and vice versa. But the inflation that Fed officials anticipated never arrived, and in a monumental speech delivered on Thursday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced that the U.S. central bank’s policymakers are done waiting.

The Fed chief, speaking during the Kansas City Fed’s annual conference, unveiled the central bank’s new approach to monetary policy, which puts more emphasis on shortfalls in employment, and less weight on the fear that low unemployment could spark higher inflation. “The conditions in the economy have changed to such an extent that this upwardly sloped relationship between inflation and employment has now changed,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist for RSM. “Decades of thought at the Fed are now being pushed aside.” With its landmark policy shift, the Fed is putting new weight on bolstering the labor market and less on inflation, promising to aim for 2% inflation on average over a period of time rather than using that figure as a hard annual target, as it had done since 2012.

With their new approach, Fed officials are essentially saying they are no longer worried about the unemployment rate falling too low. Now that inflation expectations are anchored at low levels, the economy has room to keep adding jobs. Policymakers can also wait a little longer for the gains to reach the workers on the margins – including Black, Hispanic and low-income workers – who are often the last to reap the benefits of a tight labor market, Powell said. “It is hard to overstate the benefits of sustaining a strong labor market, a key national goal that will require a range of policies in addition to supportive monetary policy,” Powell said on Thursday, reflecting on the strong U.S. labor market that existed before the pandemic.

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h/t Steve Keen.

Ex-Australia PM Menzies Boasted Of Delivering Large Budget Deficits (ABC.au)

There’s a lot we’ve forgotten about Robert Menzies. Take his name, for example. Younger Australians may not know it, but our country’s longest-serving prime minister, one of the founders of the Liberal Party, was nicknamed “Ming”. He was our first prime minister to have two Australian-born parents, but his paternal grandfather was Scottish and he was proud of that heritage. He preferred his surname to be pronounced the way the Scots pronounce it — Ming-iss — but his attempts to convince his countrymen to do so were in vain. He received the nickname “Ming” instead. Then there was his time as prime minister, when he boasted about delivering a bigger budget deficit than Labor would have, for the good of the country. That’s right.

The father of Australia’s Liberal Party was proud of spending whatever was necessary to ensure full employment, even when the economy wasn’t in recession. A speech Mr Menzies gave in August 1962 about his budget that year is worth reading. He’d won the federal election eight months earlier, defeating the Labor opposition led by Arthur Calwell. During the campaign, Mr Calwell promised to deliver a deficit large enough to eradicate unemployment, and he figured that meant a deficit of 100 million pounds. Here’s Mr Menzies explaining why he was spending more than Labor pledged. “Too few people realise that a cash deficit of 120 million [pounds] … will of itself have a most expansionary effect,” he said.

“We shall pay out to the citizens 120 million [pounds] more than will be collected from them. “So, far from being timorous — I think that was another of the words used by the deputy leader of the opposition — this is adventurous finance. “Add to the deficit the tax refunds now being made, and it is clear that purchasing power in Australia this financial year will be uncommonly high. “The real task of any government today, as well as of the business community and all sensible citizens, is to get that purchasing power exercised.” It was uncomplicated Keynesian logic. As John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1933: “Look after the unemployment, and the budget will look after itself.”

[..] Mr Menzies’ second stint as prime minister lasted from 1949 to 1966. For his last nine budgets he delivered deficits, and the size of his last deficit, at 3.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), was 0.3 per cent larger than the deficit in Wayne Swan’s last budget in 2013. So why wasn’t the public angry? Because Australia’s economy, like economies in other western nations, grew strongly in the post-war period. In the 1940s, its average growth rate was 3.8 per cent. In the 1950s, it was 4.2 per cent. In the 1960s, it was 5.3 per cent. And that constant growth meant the size of Australia’s government debt relative to the size of the economy (the ratio of debt-to-GDP) shrank dramatically, too. All while the government was handing down budget deficits.

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How much extra attention because of Banksy’s involvement?

Italy Evacuates Dozens From Overcrowded Banksy-Funded Migrant Rescue Boat (RT)

Some 50 people were evacuated from the migrant rescue boat Louise Michel that got stranded off Malta’s coast after taking more than 200 people aboard. After one person died, the crew accused Europe of ignoring its pleas for help. The vessel, which reported rescuing a total of 219 people from the sea over the past few days, including “many women and children,” had become so “overcrowded” that a life raft was attached to its side, and it lost its ability to maneuver. The crew’s Twitter feed suggests they have been desperately sending distress signals and making calls to various European maritime authorities to no avail. To make the matters worse, one of the migrants died on the ship as conditions deteriorated.

“Louise Michel is unable to move … above all due to Europe ignoring our emergency calls for immediate assistance,” a tweet from the crew read. Following about a day of pleas for help, Italy’s coast guard arrived at the scene and took 49 of “the most vulnerable” migrants in. While describing the development as “great,” the Louise Michel crew said it leaves the majority “still waiting.” It added that another NGO migrant rescue ship, Sea Watch 4, arrived to “do what Europe falters to do.” Photos and videos apparently taken on board the vessel – a 31-meter motor yacht once owned by French customs authorities, now named after a French anarchist – show it is extremely crowded with people who are cooped up literally everywhere, from the foredeck to the aft and even on top of the captain’s bridge.

[..] Painted in white and bright pink and featuring a Banksy artwork of a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped flotation device, Louise Michel is said to have set sail in secrecy from a Spanish port of Burriana, near Valencia. The first post in its Twitter account appeared about a week after what was called its first successful mission. The ship, flying a German flag, is captained by Pia Klemp, a controversial German boat captain credited with rescuing more than 1,000 North African migrants between 2011 and 2017. The woman was charged with colluding with human smugglers by the Italian authorities in 2019 and defiantly snubbed Paris’ highest civilian award months later.

[..] Reports claim that Klemp was personally contacted by the artist as early as in September 2019 and was offered assistance with buying a new boat. She told the Guardian that she sees the effort as “part of anti-fascist fight,” while adding that Banksy’s involvement in the project is limited to financial support. “Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won’t pretend to be artists,” she said.

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And you thought your “leaders” were incompetent.

Airlines Warn Flying Back 100,000 Stranded Australians Will Take 6 Months (G.)

Frustrated airlines continuing to fly into Australia are warning it will take six months to repatriate more than 100,000 Australians stuck overseas if the country’s strict arrival caps are not eased. Pressure is also mounting within government ranks to address the growing number of Australians stranded by the caps, with Coalition MPs complaining the limits are “probably the biggest area of concern” raised with them by constituents currently, who claim airlines are repeatedly bumping them off flights to prioritise more expensive tickets and remain profitable under the caps. Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, on Friday criticised the government’s position of recommending those affected by the caps rely on early super withdrawals to fund what could be an indefinite period away from their jobs, families and secure accommodation.

“The government should be offering financial support to stranded Australians who need it. People shouldn’t be forced to raid their super or launch a GoFundMe fundraiser in order to return home,” she said, noting earlier reports that consular staff had told Australians to start crowdfunding sites to sustain living costs and business class flights. Wong said she had been contacted by a pensioner forced to sleep in a car in France because his flight had been cancelled and he couldn’t get a refund. Wong also criticised the government for recent travel exit exemptions – including allowing Tony Abbott to fly to the UK, and an entrepreneur to collect a yacht in Italy – calling it “special treatment for the privileged few” with “everyone else being left behind”.

Qatar Airways on Friday announced it had suspended sales of tickets into Australia until the caps are lifted, and said it will have to cancel the tickets of “thousands” more Australian citizens who are currently scheduled to fly home with the carrier in the coming months. The airline has acknowledged it has been forced to prioritise customers who pay more for tickets after reports its aircraft were landing in Sydney with as few as four economy passengers. The Guardian has been inundated by stories of Australians who have been forced to live in caravans for months, exhaust all their paid leave, and forgo seeing dying parents in Australia while they wait for airlines to honour their economy flights home.

Read more …

 

 

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If Greece and Turkey go to war, it’s over this:

 

 

Long time favorite. Possibly the ultimate Calvin and Hobbes:

 

 

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Oct 262018
 


Ernst Haas Greece 1952

 

Expect a “Lost Decade”, Stock Market Rout “Only Just a Start” (Mish)
Asian Stocks Hit 20-Month Lows, S&P Futures Slide As Investors Flee Risk (R.)
Friday Hasn’t Even Started Yet, But It’s Already Ugly (WS)
ECB Keeps Rates On Hold But Reaffirms QE Exit Plans (CNBC)
UK Labour Pledges To Reverse Cuts And ‘End Austerity’ (G.)
Grassley Refers Avenatti And Swetnick For DOJ Investigation (G.)
World’s Billionaires Became 20% Richer In 2017 (G.)
Twitter Bans Former Asst. Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts (ZH)
Judge Says Assange Hearing Needs A Translator Fluent In ‘Australian’ (RT)
Canadian Doctors To Start Prescribing Museum Visits (AFP)
Entire Great Barrier Reef At Risk Of Bleaching And Coral Death (G.)

 

 

So what’s the net effect of QE?

Expect a “Lost Decade”, Stock Market Rout “Only Just a Start” (Mish)

October has been a terrible month for equities. Yet, this is only a start of what’s to come.

Despite the rout, the S&P is just barely down for the year.

Expect a “Lost Decade”

Why?

The Shiller PE Ratio also known as “CAPE”, the Cyclically Adjusted Price-Earnings Ratio, is in the stratosphere. It’s not a timing mechanism, rather it’s a warning mechanism. The main idea is that earnings are mean reverting. On that basis, stocks are more overvalued than any time other than the DotCom era. But that is misleading. In 2000 there were many sectors that were extremely cheap. Energy was a standout buy then. So were retail and financials. It’s difficult to find any undervalued sectors now other than gold.

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Another Reuters headline says: “World stocks head for worst losing streak in over half a decade..”

Asian Stocks Hit 20-Month Lows, S&P Futures Slide As Investors Flee Risk (R.)

Asian shares skidded to 20-month lows, S&P futures fell sharply and China’s yuan weakened at the end of a turbulent week for financial markets on Friday, as anxiety over corporate profits added to lingering fears about global trade and economic growth. The gloom enveloping Asia was at odds with a bounce on Wall Street overnight, highlighting fragile investor confidence, as shares of tech titans Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc fell sharply after the closing bell on disappointing earnings. In Friday’s Asian session, S&P E-mini futures slumped 0.88 percent, setting up a potentially rough session for U.S. markets which had crumbled on Wednesday on concerns about earnings and sent global equities into a tailspin.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 1.04 percent, erasing tiny gains made in the opening hour and hitting its lowest level since February 2017. Not helping was a slide in the Chinese yuan past a key level, refocusing market attention on slowing growth in the world’s second-biggest economy. Shares in Europe are seen following Asia down, with London’s FTSE expected to open 0.9 percent lower, Germany’s DAX off 1 percent and France’s CAC 40 down 1.2 percent, according to David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK. “There’s no question that the weight of sentiment has been building,” said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut in Brisbane, highlighting in particular rising geopolitical tensions including Brexit, and “internal financial tension” in China.

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Big tech big losses.

Friday Hasn’t Even Started Yet, But It’s Already Ugly (WS)

So far in October, the S&P 500 has booked 13 losing days, including October 10, when the index dropped 3.3%, and October 24, when it dropped 3.1%. Then came today, with the feel-good moment of a boisterous 1.9% gain. And then came after-hours trading, and nearly everything went to heck, particularly the FANGMAN stocks that weigh so heavily on the index with their $4-trillion market cap. And Friday morning looks already ugly.

All of the FANGMAN stocks were in the red in late trading:
Facebook [FB]: -2.3%
Amazon [AMZN]: -7.4%
Netflix [NFLX]: -2.8%
Google’s parent Alphabet [GOOG]: -3.7%
Microsoft [MSFT]: -1.5%
Apple [AAPL]: -0.4%
NVIDIA [NVDA]: -2.8%

There were some standout reasons: Amazon plunged after it reported record profit but missed on revenues and guided down Q4 expectations for sales and profits, a sign of slowing revenue growth. It was down as much as $150 a share, or almost 9%. Google’s parent Alphabet reported that revenues grew 22%, which missed expectations. Earnings beat, but a considerable slice – $1.38 billion! – of those earnings came from the gains in its portfolio of equity securities. CFO Ruth Porat warned that traffic acquisition costs would increase further as consumers are shifting search activity from desktop computers to mobile devices. Shares plunged up to 5%.

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Can Draghi stop purchasing Italian bonds?

ECB Keeps Rates On Hold But Reaffirms QE Exit Plans (CNBC)

The European Central Bank (ECB) took no action on Thursday, leaving its benchmark interest rates unchanged. However, the ECB confirmed that its plan to end monetary easing by the end of the year remains on track. “Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, the Governing Council will continue to make net purchases under the asset purchase programme (APP) at the new monthly pace of 15 billion euros until the end of December 2018,” the ECB said in a statement. “The Governing Council anticipates that, subject to incoming data confirming the medium-term inflation outlook, net purchases will then end,” the bank added.

The decision takes place as concerns mount over Italy’s fiscal policies and their potential impact over the stability of the euro area. The end of the ECB’s massive crisis-era stimulus program could be a challenging moment for European bonds, given that the ECB will no longer be in the market purchasing sovereign paper and providing some sort of backstop. This could add further pressure, mainly on Italy, given the widespread concerns over its debt pile.

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There’s a taste of Italy here, though political leanings are very different.

UK Labour Pledges To Reverse Cuts And ‘End Austerity’ (G.)

The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has said Labour would reverse cuts made by the government since 2010 as Labour highlighted more than £108bn needed to “end austerity”. Labour’s pre-budget review said it would take £42bn to reverse departmental spending cuts. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) had already highlighted another £19bn needed to stop further cuts to government. Some £33.5bn would be required to reverse cuts to social security and social care, Labour said. McDonnell pledged to increase spending on the National Health Service, adult social care, and schools, at a speech in London to business and trade union representatives.

Earlier this month the prime minister, Theresa May, also said she would end the policy of austerity instituted by her predecessor David Cameron and continued by the current government. May told the Conservative party conference: “After a decade of austerity, people need to know that their hard work has paid off.” However, policy experts have highlighted that the government’s pledge leaves room for manoeuvre. The £19bn bill calculated by the IFS, a non-partisan thinktank, would be needed to prevent further cuts in spending to government departments whose budgets are not protected, under one definition of “ending austerity”.

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Why invite more of the same?

Grassley Refers Avenatti And Swetnick For DOJ Investigation (G.)

Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Senate judiciary committee, has referred the lawyer Michael Avenatti and Julie Swetnick, one of Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers, for criminal investigation. In a statement, Grassley said he was referring the two to the justice department for a “criminal investigation relating to a potential conspiracy to provide materially false statements to Congress and obstruct a congressional committee investigation”. Swetnick, who was represented by Avenatti, came forward in late September to allege that Kavanaugh took part in efforts to gang-rape women at drunken parties. She said she too was gang-raped at one such party, but did not directly accuse Kavanaugh of being involved.

Kavanaugh categorically denied the accusations calling them “a joke” and “a farce” in his testimony before the Senate. Avenatti has become an increasingly high-profile opponent of Donald Trump after coming to prominence as the lawyer of Stormy Daniels, a porn star who claims she had an affair with Trump. Avenatti has been an outspoken critic of Trump on cable TV and social media. He is also mulling a run for the White House in 2020. Swetnick was the third woman to come forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his confirmation process for the supreme court. The Senate approved Kavanaugh’s nomination by a 50-48 vote in early October.

Grassley accused Swetnick and Avenatti of knowingly misleading the committee. “That’s unfair to my colleagues, the nominees and others providing information who are seeking the truth,” said the Iowa Republican. “It stifles our ability to work on legitimate lines of inquiry. It also wastes time and resources for destructive reasons. Thankfully, the law prohibits such false statements to Congress and obstruction of congressional committee investigations. For the law to work, we can’t just brush aside potential violations. I don’t take lightly making a referral of this nature, but ignoring this behavior will just invite more of it in the future,” Grassley said.

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Inequality has become a dangerous game, but greed wins the day every day.

World’s Billionaires Became 20% Richer In 2017 (G.)

Billionaires made more money in 2017 than in any year in recorded history. The richest people on Earth increased their wealth by a fifth to $8.9tn (£6.9tn), according to a report by Swiss bank UBS. The fortunes of today’s super-wealthy have risen at a far greater rate than at the turn of the 20th century, when families such as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts controlled vast wealth. The report by UBS and accountants PwC said there was so much money in the hands of the ultra-rich that a new wave of rich and powerful multi-generational families was being created. “The past 30 years have seen far greater wealth creation than the Gilded Age” the UBS Billionaires 2018 report said.

“That period bred generations of families in the US and Europe who went on to influence business, banking, politics, philanthropy and the arts for more than 100 years. With wealth set to pass from entrepreneurs to their heirs in the coming years, the 21st century multi-generational families are being created.” The world’s 2,158 billionaires grew their combined wealth by $1.4tn last year, more than the GDP of Spain or Australia, as booming stock markets helped the already very wealthy to achieve the “greatest absolute growth ever”. More than 40 of the 179 new billionaires created last year inherited their wealth, and given the number of billionaires over 70 the report’s authors expect a further $3.4tn to be handed down over the next 20 years.

“A major wealth transition has begun,” the report said. “Over the past five years, the sum passed by deceased billionaires to beneficiaries has grown by an average of 17% each year, to reach $117bn in 2017. In that year alone, 44 heirs inherited more than a billion dollars each.

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Completely insane.

Twitter Bans Former Asst. Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts (ZH)

Twitter has suspended noted anti-war commentator, economist and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Paul Craig Roberts. Roberts, 79, served in the Reagan administration from 1981 to 1982. He was formerly a distinguished fellow at the Cato Institute and a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and has written for the Wall Street Journal and Businessweek. Roberts maintains an active blog. He’s also vehemently against interventionary wars around the world, and spoke with Russia’s state-owned Sputnik news in a Tuesday article – in which Roberts said that President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty was a handout to the military-security complex.

The former Reagan administration official clarified that he does not think “that the military-security complex itself wants a war with Russia, but it does want an enemy that can be used to justify more spending.” He explained that the withdrawing from the INF Treaty “gives the military-security complex a justification for a larger budget and new money to spend: manufacturing the formerly banned missiles.” [..] The economist highlighted that “enormous sums spent on ‘defense’ enabled the armaments corporations to control election outcomes with campaign contributions,” adding that in addition, “the military has bases and the armaments corporations have factories in almost every state so that the population, dependent on the jobs, support high amounts of ‘defense’ spending.”

“That was 57 years ago,” he underscored. “You can imagine how much stronger the military-security complex is today.” -Sputnik. Roberts also suggested that “The Zionist Neoconservatives are responsible for Washington’s unilateral abandonment of the INF treaty, just as they were responsible for Washington’s unilateral abandonment of the ABM Treaty [in 2002], the Iran nuclear agreement, and the promise not to move NATO one inch to the East.”

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So Assange still doesn’t have his internet back, but he does talk to an Ecuador court via video link.

Judge Says Assange Hearing Needs A Translator Fluent In ‘Australian’ (RT)

The presiding judge in WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange’s case against the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry has reportedly said that the court made a mistake by appointing an English translator who doesn’t speak Australian. The anecdote was reported by Bloomberg on Thursday and allegedly took place at the first hearing of Assange’s lawsuit against the ministry. Speaking via video link, Australian-born Assange complained to the court that his state-appointed translator from English to Spanish was not cutting it. It’s unclear what exactly the issue was, but Judge Karina Martinez apparently thought Assange’s Australian accent was thick enough to warrant a dedicated expert.

While Australian English is the most spoken dialect Down Under, it is by no means a separate language. The Australian dialect originated in the late 18th and early 19th century from convicts who were the first British settlers to arrive in New South Wales. Admittedly, the Australian vernacular is quite distinct, has rich slang, and peculiar terms. Differences in pronunciation and vocabulary can at times leave an average British or American English speaker perplexed. Assange’s accent, however, is far from the thickest around. Last week, he filed a lawsuit against Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Jose Valencia, accusing the government of violating his “fundamental rights and freedoms” with a set of new rules.

The government files released by an Ecuadorian opposition lawmaker last Tuesday outline the efforts of the Latin American country to prevent Assange from engaging in activities that “could be considered political or interfering with the internal affairs of other states.” They also limit Assange’s visitation rights, force him to pay his own medical bills, and even threaten to take away his cat if he doesn’t look after it properly. Assange’s lawyer, Baltasar Garzon, has accused Valencia of “isolating and muzzling” the fugitive, himself an Ecuadorian citizen since December 2017. Garzon said Assange still has no access to the internet, despite Ecuador’s earlier announcement it would restore communications.

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Worth a try.

Canadian Doctors To Start Prescribing Museum Visits (AFP)

A group of Canadian doctors are to begin prescribing trips to an art gallery to help patients suffering a range of ailments become a picture of health. A partnership between the Francophone Association of Doctors in Canada (MFdC) and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) will allow patients suffering from a number of physical and mental health issues, along with their loved ones, to take in the benefits of art on health with free visits. The pilot project is unprecedented globally, according to its organizer. The project will see participating physicians prescribe up to 50 visits to the MMFA during treatment, each pass valid for up to two adults and two minors.

So far 100 doctors have enrolled to take part over the course of a year, Nicole Parent, head of the MFdC, told AFP Thursday. The numbers offer proof that doctors have “a sensitivity and openness to alternative approaches if you want” Parent said, citing scientifically proven benefits of art on health. The benefits are similar to those patients can get from physical activity, prompting the secretion of a similar level of feel-good hormones, and can help with everything from chronic pain to depression, stress and anxiety. The pilot program will allow organizers to gather data and analyze results, allowing for the development of protocol for identifying patients.

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This summer (which starts Dec 20).

Entire Great Barrier Reef At Risk Of Bleaching And Coral Death (G.)

Mass bleaching and coral death could be likely along the entire Great Barrier Reef this summer, according to a long-range forecast that coral experts say is “a wake-up call” for the Australian government. The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has forecast a 60% chance that the entire Great Barrier Reef will reach alert level one, which signals extreme heat stress and bleaching are likely. The forecast period covers November 2018 to February 2019 and the risk extends to the southern Great Barrier Reef, which escaped the mass mortality seen in the middle and northern parts of the reef in 2016 and 2017.

“This is really the first warning bells going off that we are heading for an extraordinarily warm summer and there’s a very good chance that we’ll lose parts of the reef that we didn’t lose in the past couple of years,” said marine biologist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. “These are not good predictions and this is a wake-up call.” Hoegh-Guldberg said it was particularly worrying that the long-range forecasts were already showing high chances of bleaching and mortality before March, which is the main month of the year for bleaching events.

He said if the models proved accurate it would mean the entire Great Barrier Reef would be damaged by climate change and coral populations would trend towards very low levels, affecting the reef’s tourism and fishing industries and the employment they support. “To really have the full picture we’re going to have to wait for those projections that cover the main part of bleaching season,” he said. “Given sea temperatures usually increase as we get towards March, this is probably conservative.”

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