Jun 092022
 


Pablo Picasso Rest 1932

 

Zelensky Vows “Full De-Occupation Of Entire Territory” (ZH)
For Europe, From Russia, With Love (Vilches)
Kyiv Keeps US in the Dark on War Realities: NYT (Celente)
Is US/NATO (with WEF help) Pushing For A Global South Famine? (Hudson)
Ukraine to Ban ‘War and Peace’ From Being Taught in Schools (SN)
Is Lasting Peace Possible? (Hathaway)
Healthy Young People Are Dying Unexpectedly From A Mysterious Syndrome (DM)
Fifth Jab Being Considered In Israel (JPost)
Moderna Says Omicron-containing Booster Outperforms Current Vaccine (Stat)
How Fake Is Twitter’s User Data? (ET)
Twitter Will Reportedly Give Its Full Data Stream To Elon Musk (Eng.)
168,000 Deleted Files Recovered From Hunter Biden’s Laptop (WE)
What is a Woman? (Laura Dodsworth)
This Is What Erdogan Promised (IS.fi)

 

 

 

 

Gervais

 

 

 

 

 

 

6G

 

 

Apart from Zelensky’s nonsensical claim (no. 1001), there’s “For eight years they have been killing us” and “Emmanuel Macron has warned that the West must not humiliate Russia”. And I haven’t seen one person point out that the West CANNOT humiliate Russia.

Zelensky Vows “Full De-Occupation Of Entire Territory” (ZH)

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that the West must not humiliate Russia if it wants to avoid an unnecessarily prolonged conflict that could spread beyond Ukraine. Since making the remarks days ago, he’s stirred anger among different allies – both in Europe and the US and UK. And he’s again come under fresh criticism and condemnation for the statement. He said last Friday, “We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means.” As part of the comments he offered France’s role as a “mediating power” in the conflict. This after having reportedly held calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin on pretty much a weekly basis since the invasion began in late February.

Macron has come under criticism from some corners of the EU for even holding the calls where he’s attempted to gain diplomatic concessions, and jump start talks again between Moscow and Kiev. But he hasn’t exactly been alone in his push for a diplomatic solution, given two other populous European nations and their leaders – namely German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi – have done the same. Entirely to be expected, Macron immediately received pushback from the Ukrainians, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba writing on Twitter that “Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it.” But the Macron comments have stirred anger in the US as well, with Republican hawk Rep. Adam Kinzinger saying “Emmanuel Macron is humiliating himself,” in weekend statements.

“Russia has already been humiliated, and true to their reputation the French are trying to raise the white flag.” Kinzinger, it should be remembered, has gone so far as to push the Biden administration toward erecting a no-fly zone, which would assuredly push the two nuclear armed superpowers into a WW3 scenario confrontation. Meanwhile, at a moment that direct Russia-Ukraine negotiations are essentially dead, but with Turkey still attempting to intervene diplomatically toward the erection of a UN-backed ‘grain corridor’ on the Black Sea, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in media statements Tuesday that even with the latest Russian gains in Donbas his country will not cede any territory for sake of a negotiated settlement.

“We have already lost too many people to simply cede our territory,” Zelensky said in a virtual address to an event hosted by Britain’s Financial Times newspaper. He said neither is stalemate “an option” and that ultimately “We have to achieve a full deoccupation of our entire territory.” Asked specifically about Macron’s ‘don’t humiliate Russia comments’ from days prior, Zelensky reponded: “We are not going to humiliate anyone, we are going to respond in kind.” The Ukrainian leader’s comments came as the last major holdout city of Sievierodonetsk in Luhansk province could soon fall to Russian forces. Zelensky further commented: “I don’t really understand … humiliating Russia. For eight years they have been killing us. What are we talking about here?”

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“..the European success we all know was always based on superb and cheap Russian energy.”

For Europe, From Russia, With Love (Vilches)

The real ultimate EU problem is ´negotiating´ from a position of extreme weakness it has dug itself into and should have always avoided. But at the same time, Europe cannot be anywhere independent from Russia. So the above will affect current and future European production of fuels to fertilizers and everything in between, from kerosene to diesel to gasoline affecting cars, trucks, buses, plastics, pesticides, agricultural, mining and industrial machinery, foodstuffs, water quality and availability, pharmaceuticals, ships, inks, airplanes, polymers, medical and industrial gases, sealing rings & membranes, power transmission, transformer and lube oils, etc., etc., etc.,. Attempting to execute the above under the described terms – and others not mentioned but technically even far more demanding – would be outright engineering and economics madness.

But simultaneously attempting many impossible projects as now required throughout Europe within an ultra-narrow 6-month time-frame and everybody at the same time is sheer nonsensical stupidity, doomed to fail. Why do it then ? Because it´s mandated by the prevailing post-Brexit-US-Anglo-Saxon Russophobia that now hypnotized European leadership foolishly and irreversibly endorses. Henry Kissinger knows it, but do they?. Naturally, the EU leadership has made mistakes all along the 21st century, both technical and political, as fallible humans cannot avoid it. But the captains of the European ship this time around are going a long step further by unbelievably forcing its sailors to run around the deck like a bunch of beheaded chickens with no sense of purpose in rapidly approaching shallow waters in what seems to be a deliberate suicidal attempt.

This has never happened before in recent history as the European success we all know was always based on superb and cheap Russian energy. The plan and policies were led by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder who thought it out bottom-up, top-down, sideways, from left to right, from right to left, crossways, you name it. Until finally in the late 1990s reached the conclusion and convinced the European family of nations that Franz should marry Natasha. And so they remained happily married with many healthy and ambitious children until 2022 whereby the post-Brexit US Anglo-Saxon axis achieved the unthinkable by turning Europe against Russia yet again for the third time in a century as Prof. Michael Hudson has correctly observed. Meanwhile, absurdly enough, Poland is now proposing yet additional sanctions against Russia as if they did any good

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Zelensky has claimed 30,000-40,000 Russian casualties. Nuff said.

Kyiv Keeps US in the Dark on War Realities: NYT (Celente)

The New York Times, citing current and former U.S. officials, published a report Wednesday that American intelligence agencies have “less information than they would like about Ukraine’s operations and possess a far better picture of Russia’s military.” Beth Sanner, a former senior intelligence official, told the paper: “How much do we really know about how Ukraine is doing?” “Can you find a person who will tell you with confidence how many troops has Ukraine lost, how many pieces of equipment has Ukraine lost?” she asked. The Trends Journal has pointed out since the beginning of the conflict that it was nearly impossible to find the number of casualties suffered by Ukrainian troops in Google searches.

But if you were interested in finding out Russia’s war dead, there were dozens of article links. Zelensky vowed to fight for every inch of his country, but how he plans on doing that — without NATO joining the war — is anybody’s guess. The Times reported that the U.S. has a better understanding about Russia’s military’s condition than Ukraine’s. Even Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate in May: “We have, in fact, more insight, probably, on the Russian side than we do on the Ukrainian side.” Why did the U.S. agree to send Kyiv advanced rocket systems when it did not have a clear picture about the war’s development, and why has the Biden administration been so positive about Ukraine’s chances against Russia?

Stephen Biddle, a professor of international affairs at Columbia University, told the paper, “I’m not sure it’s in the interest of the American public or Ukrainian public to have Ukrainians be upfront about their losses if the result is it strengthens the Russian war effort. But that means we don’t really know both sides of the story.”

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“To put it simply: we are facing a crisis on top of a crisis.”

Is US/NATO (with WEF help) Pushing For A Global South Famine? (Hudson)

U.S. Cold War strategy is not alone in thinking how to benefit from provoking a famine, oil and balance-of-payments crisis. Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum worries that the world is overpopulated – at least with the “wrong kind” of people. As Microsoft philanthropist (the customary euphemism for rentier monopolist) Bill Gates has explained: “Population growth in Africa is a challenge.” His lobbying foundation’s 2018 “Goalkeepers” report warned: “According to U.N. data, Africa is expected to account for more than half of the world’s population growth between 2015 and 2050. Its population is projected to double by 2050,” with “more than 40 percent of world’s extremely poor people … in just two countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.”

Gates advocates cutting this projected population increase by 30 percent by improving access to birth control and expanding education to “enable more girls and women to stay in school longer, have children later.” But how can that be afforded with this summer’s looming food and oil squeeze on government budgets? South Americans and some Asian countries are subject to the same jump in import prices resulting from NATO’s demands to isolate Russia. JPMorgan Chase head Jamie Dimon recently warned attendees at a Wall Street investor conference that the sanctions will cause a global “economic hurricane.” He echoed the warning by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in April that, “To put it simply: we are facing a crisis on top of a crisis.”

Pointing out that the Covid pandemic has been capped by inflation as the war in Ukraine has made matters “much worse, and threatens to further increase inequality” she concluded that: “The economic consequences from the war spread fast and far, to neighbors and beyond, hitting hardest the world’s most vulnerable people. Hundreds of millions of families were already struggling with lower incomes and higher energy and food prices.” The Biden administration blames Russia for “unprovoked aggression.” But it is his administration’s pressure on NATO and other Dollar Area satellites that has blocked Russian exports of grain, oil and gas. But many oil- and food-deficit countries see themselves as the primary victims of “collateral damage” caused by US/NATO pressure.

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I notice Russian players shine in the NHL playoffs, and haven’t seen one word about banning them.

Ukraine to Ban ‘War and Peace’ From Being Taught in Schools (SN)

Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ and other classic historical novels that portray the Russian military in anything other than a negative light will be banned from being taught in Ukrainian schools, it has been announced. “All these will be completely excluded from foreign literature,” first deputy Minister of Education Andrey Vitrenko said in an interview with the TV channel Ukraine 24. “So, for example, ‘War and Peace,’ this will not be studied in Ukraine anymore,” he added. Vitrenko said that his ministry was working on compiling a list of books that will be banned in line with an announcement last month by Kiev’s Ministry of Culture and Information Policy that works of literature “promoting Russian propaganda” would be removed from Ukrainian libraries and replaced by Ukrainian books.


Quite how banning a book that is revered the world over and was first published in 1869 will stop Putin’s war machine is anyone’s guess. We have previously documented the increasing intolerance and censorship of all things Russian, even if they have absolutely nothing to do with Vladimir Putin or the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Wimbledon tennis tournament has banned Russian players from competing this year even if they denounce the actions of their own country. There have also been calls for Russian athletes to be subjected to ideological purity tests before they are allowed to compete in international tournaments. In perhaps the most ludicrous example of Russophobia, Siberian cats were banned from competing in international cat competitions.

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“Since capitalism is a predatory social and economic system, predatory personalities rise to power.”

Is Lasting Peace Possible? (Hathaway)

Militarists point to history and say it’s just one war after another. But that’s the history only of our patriarchal civilization. The early matriarchal civilization of south-eastern Europe enjoyed centuries of peace. UCLA anthropologist Marija Gimbutas described the archaeological research in The Living Goddesses. No trace of warfare has been found in excavations of the Minoan, Harappa, and Caral cultures. Many of the Pacific islands were pacifistic. The ancient Vedic civilization of India had meditation techniques that preserved the peace, and those are being revived today to reduce stress in society.

Our society, though, has a deeply entrenched assumption that stress is essential to life. Many of our social and economic structures are based on conflict. Capitalism’s need for continually expanding profits generates stress in all of us. We’ve been indoctrinated to think this is normal and natural, but it’s really pathological. It damages life in ways we can barely perceive because they’re so built into us. We don’t have to live this way. We can reduce the stress humanity suffers under. We can create a society that meets human needs and distributes the world’s resources more evenly. We can live at peace with one another. But that’s going to take basic changes.

These changes threaten the power holders of our society. Since capitalism is a predatory social and economic system, predatory personalities rise to power. They view the world through a lens of aggression. But it’s not merely a view. They really are surrounded by enemy competitors. So they believe this false axiom they are propagating that wars are inevitable. In the past their predecessors defended their power by propagating other nonsense: kings had a divine right to rule us, Blacks were inferior to Whites, women should obey men. We’ve outgrown those humbugs, and we can outgrow this one.

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Aaron Kheriaty, MD: “New levels of systematic mendacity. Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS) is not a thing. These are cardiac deaths. Stop pretending we don’t know why they are elevated. Just f***ing stop. Enough of this. It’s only a mystery if you are blind.”

Healthy Young People Are Dying Unexpectedly From A Mysterious Syndrome (DM)

People aged under 40 are being urged to have their hearts checked because they may potentially be at risk of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. The syndrome, known as SADS, has been fatal for all kinds of people regardless of whether they maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle. SADS is an ‘umbrella term to describe unexpected deaths in young people’, said The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, most commonly occurring in people under 40 years of age.The term is used when a post-mortem cannot find an obvious cause of death. The US-based SADS Foundation has said that over half of the 4,000 annual SADS deaths of children, teens or young adults have one of the top two warning signs present.Those signs include a family history of a SADS diagnosis or sudden unexplained death of a family member, and fainting or seizure during exercise, or when excited or startled, reported news.com.au.


Last year a 31-year-old woman, Catherine Keane, died in her sleep while living with two friends in Dublin. Her mother Margherita Cummins told the Irish Mirror, ‘They were all working from home so no one really paid attention when Catherine didn’t come down for breakfast.’ ‘They sent her a text at 11.20am and when she didn’t reply, they checked her room and found she had passed. ‘Her friend heard a noise in her room at 3.56am and believes now that is when she died.’ Ms Cummins stated that her daughter ‘went to the gym and walked 10,000 steps every day’. ‘I take some comfort in that she went in her sleep and knew no pain and I’m grateful for that. I always worried about the kids driving in the car but never saw this coming. I never thought I’d ever lose a child in my life,’

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Oh f**king stop already.

Fifth Jab Being Considered In Israel (JPost)

Due to the increase in morbidity, the epidemic treatment team will convene on Wednesday to discuss the provision of a fifth coronavirus vaccine to at-risk populations, KAN reported. According to KAN, a third vaccine for Israelis ages 5 to 12 is also being considered for those who want it. Medical staff would be obligated to receive a second or third dose. Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who himself had tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, is currently in quarantine and is working from home, Maariv reported. He had already discussed with senior officials in his ministry about the recent spark in COVID-19 cases.


After the meeting was over, Horowitz urged the general public to “use discretion and wear a mask when necessary, including on public transportation.” He recommended that those elderly or at-risk should wear a mask in closed spaces, “even if it’s not mandatory.” The amount of COVID cases reported yesterday was the highest in Israel in over a month and a half, with approximately 3,731 testing positive, the Health Ministry reported. The Health Ministry is also considering bringing back requirements to self-isolate for those who test positive for the virus. The ministry also intends to examine in the coming days whether the level of immunity in the population has decreased following the morbidity increase, Ynet reported.

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And again: Oh f**king stop already.

Moderna Says Omicron-containing Booster Outperforms Current Vaccine (Stat)

Moderna said Wednesday that using a new version of its Covid-19 vaccine as a booster led to a superior antibody response against the Omicron variant compared to its current shot. The company said it plans to submit its data to the Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks and that it hopes that the new booster will be available in the late summer. Moderna’s booster, called mRNA1273.214, is a bivalent vaccine, meaning it contains mRNA coding for the spike protein for both the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the newer Omicron strain. The company had previously released data showing that a bivalent vaccine containing mRNA coding for the spike protein for the original virus and the protein from the Beta variant of SARS-CoV-2 provided better antibody protection than the original vaccine.


Moderna said giving vaccinated volunteers a boost with mRNA1273.214 increased geometric mean titers, a measure of antibody levels, eight-fold. The FDA has been holding public hearings on how to choose which strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus should be included in booster shots in the fall and who should receive those shots. Another meeting on whether and how the SARS-CoV-2 strain composition of Covid-19 vaccines should be modified is being held on June 28. However, companies have warned that choices will need to be made soon in order for vaccines to be available in the fall. In a statement, Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO, said that the data mean this bivalent vaccine is “our lead candidate for a Fall 2022 booster.”

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Twitter likes the fakes and the bots, it’s all about the numbers.

How Fake Is Twitter’s User Data? (ET)

Over the last several weeks, the perception has grown that Elon Musk will not be the emancipator of Twitter, freeing it finally from its mysterious algorithms that throttle, block, and ban perfectly wonderful accounts solely based on the political vendetta of employees and management. It’s said that he has cold feet, as if Elon’s demand for better data is purely a cover for emotional doubt. That’s simply not true. What he has intuited—that Twitter underreports the sheer fake accounts and bot armies that use its platform—could in fact become another scandal for our age. Twitter says it’s only 5 percent. Elon has crowd-sourced the question and suspects it is closer to 20 percent. The truth is out there, but Twitter is not forthcoming. Why might this be?

Here is where we get to the core of the issue: the reach data provided by these companies—this pertains not only to Twitter but to hundreds of thousands of sites—form the basis of its pricing structure for advertisers and therefore drive the fundamentals of the business model. The business model is that these companies sell your content—which you provide because you want your views known—to advertisers so that they can sell to you. Advertisers are charged for access to your brain based on an overall estimate of how many users are on the platform and how broad is the reach. Accuracy is of huge importance here. But accuracy has not exactly defined the way these companies have long operated. The data are subject to manipulation in the extreme.

For example, Twitter has proven to be absolutely awful at policing the number of fake accounts that pretend to be some famous person with large followers. One might suspect that getting rid of such accounts should be part of Twitter’s main focus. I’ve dealt with it for years and spent far too much time getting rid of them. Who has such time? It’s ridiculous. But have a look at this problem which has been going on for many weeks now. Brownstone’s Martin Kulldorff has a famous Twitter account but I can easily search his name which turns up many fake accounts. Notice the slightly different spellings. This isn’t rocket science! Does Twitter do anything about it? Not in many weeks.

If this is any indication of the underlying realities, Twitter has a very big problem. Instead of focusing its energies on censoring good accounts, it might have applied its energies to solving a problem that affects all users.And yet there is more at stake. Consider that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has initiated an investigation into Twitter. If the company has falsely reported its real user base, that stands in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Paxton has given the company until June 27, 2022, to produce evidence for how it calculates the numbers it has routinely touted to advertisers. We’ll see. It will probably end up in court.

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The full firehose. But Musk should first check how much of the data has been manipulated.

Twitter Will Reportedly Give Its Full Data Stream To Elon Musk (Eng.)

Twitter could comply with Elon Musk’s demand for more data about its users as soon as this week. According to The Washington Post, the company plans to give the billionaire full access to its full “firehose,” an internal database that includes details on the more than 500 million tweets posted to the service every day. In addition to representing a real-time record of what’s happening on Twitter at any moment, the trove includes device data and information about the accounts that access the platform. After Twitter accepted Musk’s $44 billion buyout offer in April, the billionaire announced in May the deal was “temporarily on hold” over concerns he had about fake accounts.

Twitter has consistently claimed that bots represent less than five percent of its daily users, a number Musk says he wants to confirm before moving forward with the acquisition. On Monday, Musk accused the company of committing a “material breach” of the merger agreement by allegedly refusing to disclose enough information about fake accounts. At the time, Twitter said it would “continue to cooperatively share information” with Musk as it worked toward completing the transaction. “We believe this agreement is in the best interest of all shareholders,” the company told The Post, reiterating its statement from Monday. “We intend to close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement at the agreed price and terms.”

How many bots and fake accounts there are on Twitter is important to Musk because that number would have a significant impact on his ability to monetize the platform through ads. Musk has committed about $33 billion of his personal wealth to buy the company, and he’s required to go through with the deal unless he can show Twitter misled him or that its value has changed.

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“..100% certainty that Hunter Biden “was the only person responsible for the activity on this hard drive and all of its stored data.”

168,000 Deleted Files Recovered From Hunter Biden’s Laptop (WE)

A cyber forensics expert commissioned by the Washington Examiner recovered over 168,000 deleted files from a copy of Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop. Many of the deleted files were system files, application files, or duplicates of user files stored elsewhere on the laptop. Some of the recovered data, however, shed light on his financial dealings in 2018 and early 2019, as well as his personal dealings during that time frame. Also recovered from the drive were deleted pictures of government ID cards for two individuals linked to President Joe Biden’s son. Konstantinos “Gus” Dimitrelos, a former Secret Service agent who has testified in over 100 classified, criminal, and civil matters, retrieved the deleted files from unallocated space on the hard drive using a technique called data carving.

The existence of recoverable deleted user files adds another layer of authenticity to the hard drive, Dimitrelos said. “In order for user-created data — including personal photographs, bank records, invoices, business records, third-party data such as the driver’s licenses of other persons, chat conversations, and medical records, as examples — to exist within the unallocated hard drive space, the computer user would have had to manually delete the files,” Dimitrelos said. “Any Robert Hunter Biden recovered files in unallocated space was there as a result of deletions by the user ‘roberthunter.’” Dimitrelos has examined the Washington Examiner’s copy of the hard drive and determined with 100% certainty that Hunter Biden “was the only person responsible for the activity on this hard drive and all of its stored data.”

Many of the recovered user files were attachments to text messages that Hunter Biden sent to or received from his associates. The text messages contain markers indicating that an attachment was deleted. One of the recovered text attachments was a selfie he took in which he can be seen holding a vape pen. He attached the photo to a message sent to an unknown person Jan. 30, 2019. “That’s the weed vape pen that a Russian Escort left in my room before I came here this time,” Hunter Biden texted them.

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“..the doctor who prescribes hormones to children asked Walsh whether chickens cry..”

What is a Woman? (Laura Dodsworth)

It turns out that the best way to disrupt transgender ideology is to ask one simple question: what is a woman? Creator Matt Walsh asked each contributor the same question with purist focus in this brilliant and horrifying new film. The obstructions, circular reasoning and threats to walk off the set revealed that gender is like “a jenga tower”, as Walsh says. I spoke to Walsh about the film just a few days after its release. It has gone down a storm and Walsh was busy fielding interviews. He was also cautious; a publicist was off camera in our video call, and they recorded the interview. I don’t blame them for wanting to keep the record straight. What is a woman? is wildly controversial and successful, and that attracts peevish and disingenuous reviewers.

Transgender ideology is defeatingly complex and ever-shifting. The film’s success lies in its determined pursuit of the answer to one question. I asked Walsh why he focussed on this truth, whereas other activists have honed in on particular aspects, such as feminists arguing for women’s sex-based spaces and rights. “Philosophically it’s the best way to approach this issue,” he replied. “There are practical reasons why rights matter. I want to protect the rights of women and children, all those things matter and I care about them too. But the first thing is that it’s not true. That’s the important thing, first and foremost. Then we can establish all those other things. The loss of rights can be tackled after truth. Trans activists will ask why you care so much about what a woman is, but that’s sleight of hand.”

There was a palpable difference between the interviewees who were prepared to offer honest answers and those who would not. The first set seemed at ease. The trans man, in particular, was brutally raw, hiding nothing. In contrast, those who couldn’t answer the question seemed different – their body language was off, their answers evasive. They seemed to be thinking ahead, denial and defence almost visible on the surface, while cogs whirred just below. The social sciences professor replied with fallacious logic. In one of the more bizarre moments, the doctor who prescribes hormones to children asked Walsh whether chickens cry. A trans woman and a congressman flounced off camera. They didn’t just deny the simple biological truth (that a woman is an adult human female), they denied the concept of truth itself. The professor asserted that “invoking the word truth was condescending”.

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Google translate from Finnish.

This Is What Erdogan Promised (IS.fi)

The NATO process in Finland and Sweden has been at a standstill for three weeks due to opposition from Turkey. Not even NATO accession talks have been allowed to begin. There have been charges against Turkey, especially in Sweden. Turkey launched its publicity campaign on 13 May, five days before Finland and Sweden applied for membership in Brussels. “The Nordic countries are like guest houses for terrorist organizations,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan . Turkey’s violent drumming has raised the question of whether something went wrong in Finland’s diplomatic efforts in the spring. How did Turkey surprise Finland?

In an interview with IS, the president of the Republic Sauli Niinistö said that there was no reason to doubt Turkey’s position before Erdogan’s sharp exits. According to Niinistö, in a telephone conversation on 4 April, Erdogan clearly expressed his support for Finland’s efforts. – At the end of a rather long discussion, he said that you are applying for NATO membership, we will look at it favorably, we will assess it favorably , Niinistö says. Should the speeches have been treated with greater caution? – It is quite difficult to get started because it is not true if something is repeatedly reassured not only to me but also to our Foreign Minister and even to the Secretary General of NATO. It would have been difficult to justify a solution that we are not moving forward because Turkey’s positive position is not correct or we suspect it is not. Should this be the way to go? No.

Is it possible that there have been differences of interpretation between Finland and Turkey? – There is no possibility of misunderstanding. Besides, the continuation of the April 4 call is a bit ambitious. On 5 May, Foreign Minister [ Pekka Haavisto ] confirmed that he had a discussion with Turkish Foreign Minister [ Mevlüt ] Cavusoglu and stated that there were no problems. And NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a similar statement on behalf of NATO in early May. – If there was still a clear perception in NATO on May 5 that there are no problems, then we have to believe it. That fact raises this issue more on the NATO table than on our table.

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Gonzalo: Whatever remains

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Apr 222022
 


Hayami Gyoshu Tea bowl and fruits 1921

 

Biden Brags About Sending Weapons at ‘Record Speed’ to Ukraine (Celente)
The Collective West Is Stumbling Towards Nuclear Armageddon (Doctorow)
New World Disorder (Charai)
Why So Many Middle-Aged Deaths in 2021? (Briand)
Poking Holes In The Brain-blood Barrier. Is That Such A Good Idea? (Girardot)
A Moratorium on mRNA ‘Vaccines’ is Needed (Byram Bridle)
Fauci Complains About ‘Dangerous Precedent’ of Mask Mandate Ruling (TH)
Tulsi Gabbard Releases Cease And Desist Letter To Mitt Romney (JTN)
Destroying Democracy To Save It? (Turley)
Barack Obama Outlines Perils Of Unregulated Big Tech (G.)
Big Tech’s ‘Cancel Culture’ Love Affair (Pepe Escobar)
Feds Subpoenaed Hunter Biden Paternity Documents, Including Tax Returns (CBS)
Black Lives Don’t Matter To BLM (Blaze)
Elon Musk To Collect $23bn Bonus As Tesla Beats Targets (G.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Webb

 

 

 

 

Medvedev

 

 

Am I the only one who thinks they’re too eager to get all these people into the US?

President Biden: “I’m announcing a program, Unite for Ukraine, a new program to enable Ukrainians seeking refuge to come directly from Europe to the United States.”

 

 

And not a word about peace.

Biden Brags About Sending Weapons at ‘Record Speed’ to Ukraine (Celente)

President Joe Biden on Thursday took to Twitter to inform Americans that his administration will send another $800 million in military aid to Ukraine to “further augment” Kyiv’s ability to counter the Russian offensive in the eastern region of the country. No mention of peace. Just more war. Biden, who called Putin a killer and war criminal, bragged that the new package will include heavy artillery weapons, dozens of howitzers, 144,000 rounds of ammunition, and tactical drones. “In the past two months, we have moved weapons and equipment to Ukraine at record speed. The United States alone has provided 10 anti-armor systems for every one Russian tank that is in Ukraine,” he posted.

Biden has sent $3.4 billion in less than two months to Ukraine. He also announced that he will send a supplemental budget request to Congress to get the funding for the weapons. He also plans to send $500 million more in direct economic aid to Ukraine and accept more refugees. Biden said the war is at a critical point and about to enter its “next phase” (which only means more weapons). The weapons will go “directly to the front lines of defending freedom,” he said. [..] John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said the new weapons batch will include 72 tactical vehicles to tow the howitzers, 121 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones—a new weapon rapidly developed by the Air Force for the Ukrainians, according to Defense One. Biden also announced that $500 million more is being provided to Ukraine.

Biden, who earlier held a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, said Americans should take pride in providing the weapons and intelligence that “beat back Putin’s savagery.” “Putin has failed to achieve his grand ambitions on the battlefield. After weeks of shelling Kyiv. Kyiv still stands,” he said.

Scott Ritter

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“..overcome with pure hatred for the West brought on by the sanctions, by the rampant Russophobia that is now public policy in Europe and the USA..”

The Collective West Is Stumbling Towards Nuclear Armageddon (Doctorow)

[Mosfilm general director Karen] Shakhnazarov expressed amazement and deep worry that Western leaders have literally ‘lost their minds’ by pursuing measures to destabilize Russia in the hope of precipitating the overthrow of Vladimir Putin and maybe even the disintegration of Russia in a way similar to the dissolution of the USSR in late 1991. Shakhnazarov remarked that total absence of common or any other sense in Joe Biden is to be expected because of his health (read: senility). But his jaw dropped when he heard that the Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, declared a couple of days ago that “Russia must not be allowed to win this war!” Where are his brains? Shakhnazarov asked rhetorically.

The point of Shakhnazarov’s reasoning is as follows: Russia is the world’s leading power in terms of nuclear arms. An overthrow of Putin would lead to chaos, and very likely to genuine radicals assuming power. Their aggressive inclinations for policy to the West would be underpinned by the vast majority of the Russian population, which, in Shakhnazarov’s view, is now overcome with pure hatred for the West brought on by the sanctions, by the rampant Russophobia that is now public policy in Europe and the USA. If the conflict should escalate to use of tactical nuclear missiles and beyond, then Russia would no longer limit its strikes to military installations but will happily target all capitals and population centers in Europe and, we may assume, in North America. In a word, Shakhnazarov equates destabilization of Russia with nuclear Armageddon.

I repeat, these are the fears of a highly responsible and publicly visible Russian general manager in the arts. Is anybody in the West with comparable standing even beginning to imagine the coming catastrophe let alone speak out about it? Before closing, I redirect attention to a major newsworthy development in Russia yesterday afternoon which even our Western media have reported on this morning: the test launch of Russia’s new Sarmat ICBM, which sets new records for speed, distance, destructive force of its MIRV warheads and, surely most important, imperviousness to all known and projected anti-missile systems in the West. Part of the invulnerability of the Sarmat is a function of its range, which extends to every point on planet Earth. Sarmat’s trajectory can be set as best suits its undetectability.

For example, it can hit the USA by approach via the South Pole, thereby evading American tracking systems, which look to attack from the Northwest. The Sarmat’s 7 or 15 nuclear warheads can each also evade ABM systems and head for target at hypersonic speeds. Starting in September, the Sarmat will be installed in silos till now housing the world’s most powerful ICBM, the Voevoda, which will be gradually retired and redeployed as launchers for commercial satellites.

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“The view from the rubble of Kyiv’s suburbs isn’t hopeful.”

New World Disorder (Charai)

The latest battle zone in the Russia-Ukraine war was in the quiet, mostly mannerly halls of the United Nations. There, in the UN’s iconic New York headquarters, the world voted on Russia’s largest invasion since World War II — revealing fractures and fissures in global support for democracy. Suspending Russia from the UN Human Rights Council was technically the issue put before the delegates. But every diplomat knew it was really a vote on Russia’s assault on Ukraine. The consensus for democracy and self-determination was fragile: only 93 states (out of 193) voted for removing Russia from the UNHRC, and therefore condemning its actions against its smaller, weaker neighbor. Another 24 nations (including China) voted with Russia.

Most worrisome, 58 countries abstained, refusing to take sides in what many see as a duel between the great powers. Others feared that energy, food, and fertilizer prices might continue to climb if the conflict escalates. (Both Russia and Ukraine are major producers of oil, gas, wheat, and fertilizing petrochemicals — all of which are a matter of life and death for developing nations.) Fear and food are more important to many developing nations than democratic ideals. American and European policy makers will have to face a hard truth: while Russia is diplomatically isolated, it is not entirely alone, and many countries do not side with Ukraine and its democratic hopes. The view from the rubble of Kyiv’s suburbs isn’t hopeful.

Ukraine’s democratically elected leaders know that they could be captured, wounded, or killed. And they also know that the history of sanctions, the weapon of choice of the Western coalition, shows that they almost always fail to tame invaders. All of these facts were known to the UN delegates. Indeed, they would have heard them directly from Ukrainian diplomats. But high ideals and real desperation didn’t move them.

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“..a 45-54 years old death peak in September is unheard of.”

Why So Many Middle-Aged Deaths in 2021? (Briand)

Martin Kulldorff recently wrote: “For the mRNA vaccines, the big question that needs an urgent answer is whether they cause an increased risk of heart attack and/or other serious heart problems. There are many anecdotal reports, especially among young male athletes, and many VAERS reports. [..] Public health officials face a temptation to summarily dismiss anecdotal vaccine injury stories and people concerned about the publicly available VAERS reports, but in public health, we cannot do that. We must take people’s concerns seriously. What’s an economist’s reaction to anecdotal evidence? A friend recently asked me about the statistical relevance of anecdotal evidence. My answer to him was the following. The sum of life experiences by the many leads to a picture of the whole, while a picture of the whole hides unique and varied life experiences.

No “anecdotal evidence” should be dismissed a priori, just because it has been observed over a small and/or unique sample. The questions are the same, whether about “anecdotal evidence” or “evidence over a larger sample or population”: Have we really observed a change in the pattern in our data? What kind of inferences, if any, can we make from our observations? I have never paid much attention to athletes (no offense to the athletes), but I have recently paid attention to U.S. deaths. Using publicly available CDC data, I simply plotted monthly U.S. deaths, from 1999 to 2021. To my surprise, deaths due to suicides do not show an increase in 2020-21. But we thought they did, didn’t we? Does this mean we were not paying attention to suicides before, but recent events made us more attune to the suffering of others?

Or does it mean deaths of despair are found in other cause of death categories? Deaths due to accidental poisoning and exposure to noxious substances (which include accidental drug and alcohol overdose) have increased. Deaths due to homicide, and deaths due to liver diseases, have too. Some thought April 2020 deaths were too high and justified putting our lives on hold, but January 2021 numbers were worse—the percentage death rate in 2021 is the same as it was in 2020. Why the increase in January 2021 deaths? Continued upward trend in deaths due to the increase and aging of the US population? Deaths of despair? Increased deaths due to untreated conditions in 2020? Deaths due to COVID or one of its variants? Vaccine deaths?

In 2021, death numbers have peaked at unprecedented levels, in September, for the 45-54, 35-44 and 25-34 years old. September 2021 deaths for the 65-74 and 55-64 years old were also higher than their April 2020 numbers. Ok, so why is that significant? Let’s take the 45-54 years old group for example. Seasonal variations in deaths for this group has always been less pronounced than for the 85 years and older group, but whatever peaks they had, they still occurred mostly in January for both groups—so a 45-54 years old death peak in September is unheard of.

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“As long as the brain-blood barrier is leak-proof, very limited quantities of lipid nanoparticles – or pseudo-virus vectors – will penetrate the brain.”

Poking Holes In The Brain-blood Barrier. Is That Such A Good Idea? (Girardot)

Utilising 20% of the body’s energy, the humain brain contains ~650 kilometers of blood vessels, roughly 6 times the lungs’ own vascular system. As such it would be natural that the brain would face the most endothelial risk in the human body. When the data about the LNP distribution came out last year, most of us naturally focused on the organs where most of the nanoparticles seemed to be principally localised: liver, spleen, ovaries, heart, lungs … Strangely, the brain seemed relatively untouched with a peak estimate at 2 million nanoparticles in the brain, whereas the lungs seem to retain 6 times more vaccine particles… an inverted proportion.


Chart 1 – Lipid Nanoparticle Estimate for Pfizer Vaccine based on Mouse Model

There’s an acute difference between the brain and other organs: As a vascular system, the brain-blood-barrier (BBB) is a much tighter assembly of specialised endothelial cells than the rest of the circulatory system. The BBB controls what penetrates the brain much more tightly and rigourously. In other words, vaccine particles can come in and out freely in most organs, not in the brain. As long as the brain-blood barrier is leak-proof, very limited quantities of lipid nanoparticles – or pseudo-virus vectors – will penetrate the brain.

As we have witnessed with the escape from the injection point, it doesn’t mean necessarily that tissues are favourable to transfection…so a significant proportion of cytotoxic LNPs accounted for in Chart 1 aren’t necessarily synonymous with severity. Indeed, they might leak back into the lymphatic system and the blood stream later on. What I am trying to say is that it might seem from Chart 1 that the brain is not so much at risk, but effectively it probably is. Simply the brain isn’t storing LNPs in the tissue the way muscles or the heart might…and therefore the 2 million LNPs accounted for in the brain are likely transfected BBB endothelial cells !

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Too late already?

A Moratorium on mRNA ‘Vaccines’ is Needed (Byram Bridle)

Do you remember when public health and government officials assured everyone that the mRNA ‘vaccines’ function like traditional vaccine technologies? …meaning that they largely remain in the shoulder muscle where they are injected, with some portion going to the draining lymph nodes where an immune response is initiated. Well, back in May 2021, I, along with some international colleagues, looked at a document that Pfizer had submitted to the Japanese health regulatory agency. It was a pre-clinical biodistribution study. This means it was an experiment done with an animal model to predict where the vaccine formulation might go when injected into people. What I saw was startling. Most of Pfizer’s vaccine spread throughout the body instead of staying at the injection site.

This also meant there was the potential for toxicities that would never occur with traditional vaccines that largely remain at or close to the injection site. To ensure people could make a fully informed decision about whether to take the jab I went public with this information in a radio interview. I wasn’t surprised by the systemic distribution of the vaccine per se. Being a vaccinologist, I knew that lipid nanoparticle delivery systems were originally designed to spread far and wide throughout the body with the hopes they could be a vehicle for gene therapy and/or drug delivery. Instead, my surprise came from the fact that the data confirmed my historical understanding and contradicted public health messaging that the mRNA jabs behaved like traditional vaccines.

Public statements by health officials made me assume the lipid nanoparticles had somehow been modified to stay at the injection site, which was news to me. This highlights one of the first rules of thumb when practicing science. Transparently presented raw and/or peer-reviewed data are the cornerstones of objective science; not personal proclamations or data disseminated via media releases. In May 2021 I realized two things: 1. There was a lack of transparency about data supporting COVID-19 inoculations. 2. Incorrect messaging was being relayed to the public. As an academic public servant with relevant expertise, I spoke up when enquiries came from the public. I spoke the truth then and continue to do so.

Ryan Cole Cancer and T cells

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Fauci declares himself above the law. And the courts should stay out of it.

Fauci Complains About ‘Dangerous Precedent’ of Mask Mandate Ruling (TH)

After Fauci himself acknowledged that the rise in cases of this new variant may not lead to increased hospitalizations, he claimed that “it was perfectly logical for the CDC to say ‘wait a minute, we were planning on ending this mandate on a certain date, let’s wait a period of time until May 3” and also tried to convince that that “was a very sound public health decision.” He continued to complain about Judge Mizelle’s ruling, saying that “for a court to come in, and interfere in that, is really unfortunate. It’s unfortunate because it’s against public health principles, number one, and number two is because that’s no place for the courts to do that, this is a CDC decision, and that’s very bad precedent when you have courts making a decision and looking at what the basis of the decision, it was not sound.”

What? Is the CDC accountable to no one? Also, when it comes to waiting until “a certain date,” plenty of us remember the powers that be at the time telling us, over two years ago now, that we just needed two weeks to stop the spread. Such exchanges certainly highlight an entitlement that Dr. Fauci, the CDC, and the Biden administration all have when it comes to their authority in handling the Wuhan coronavirus. It’s all on these members of the mainstream media for throwing Biden such softball questions. These remarks came after Dr. Fauci just recently, during an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week” acknowledged that “this is not going to be eradicated … Each individual is going to have to make their [risk] calculation.”


Fauci has hardly been the only one to denigrate Judge Mizelle though, with other liberals going after her, including to do with her age and her qualifications, as Spencer and our friends at Twitchy highlighted. When it comes to Fauci’s sense of entitlement, he may need to be reminded that the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have found that the CDC overstepped its authority before when it comes to the pandemic. Last August, in a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled against the CDC’s eviction moratorium, which even President Joe Biden had acknowledged was likely unconstitutional, though he issued it regardless.

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And Keith Olberman. But nobody takes him serious anymore.

Tulsi Gabbard Releases Cease And Desist Letter To Mitt Romney (JTN)

Former Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has sent Sen. Mitt Romney a cease-and-desist letter over the Utah Republican’s recent accusation that she has told “treasonous lies.” The letter, which Gabbard posted to her social media, accuses Romney of making “false and defamatory statements” and encourages him to enter into a settlement with her before the process reaches the litigation stages. “Tulsi Gabbard is parroting false Russian propaganda,” Romney tweeted March 13 about the ex-Hawaii congresswoman, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was roughly two weeks old. “Her treasonous lies may well cost lives.” The senator and former Massachusetts governor and 2016 GOP presidential nominee did not offer specifics.

But he purportedly was referring to comments Gabbard – a major in the Army National Guard who served two tours of duty in the Middle East – made about biolabs in Ukraine. Last month, Gabbard, also a 2020 presidential candidate, told Fox News show host Tucker Carlson that she was “deeply concerned” about the biolab issue and posted a video to her social media accounts in which she said that there are more than 25 “U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine, which if breached would release and spread deadly pathogens.” “While your tweet lacked any context, we surmise that your tweet was made in reference to a video Representative Gabbard published on Twitter that same day,” Gabbard’s attorney said about the Romney tweet.

“In her video, Representative Gabbard called for a ceasefire in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine so that any biological laboratories in Ukraine could be secured,” states the cease-and-desist document, which also argues everything Gabbard said in her video was “factually accurate.” Treason can be punishable by death, according to U.S. House code. Gabbard’s lawyer also writes: “Representative Gabbard’s loyalty to the United States is beyond reproach. You knew your claims of treason were false, or, at a minimum, you made your claims of treason with reckless disregard for the truth.” Biolabs in Ukraine are the focus of a conspiracy theory that alleges the Biden administration was funding biological weapon labs in the country now under attack from Russia.

Tucker Tulsi

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“Whether Jan. 6 was a riot or an actual insurrection remains a matter of deep and largely partisan disagreement — but the disqualification clause was written in reference to a real Civil War in which more than 750,000 people died in combat.”

Destroying Democracy To Save It? (Turley)

As the country braces for the midterm elections, the left seems to be rallying behind three D’s: Democracy, Disinformation and Disqualification. The latter effort just received a huge boost from a judge in Georgia who has allowed a challenge to knock Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) off the ballot as an insurrectionist. Nothing says “democracy” like preventing others from voting. Many of us have criticized Greene for her inflammatory rhetoric and her extreme views. No less dangerous, though, is the means being used by some of Greene’s critics to get rid of her. It is all part of a new movement to defend democracy by denying it. To paraphrase the Vietnam strategy, democracy can only be saved by destroying it through the denial of speech or the right to vote.

[..] Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was written after the 39th Congress convened in December 1865, following the end of the Civil War. At the time, many members were not pleased to see former Confederates like Alexander Stephens (D-Ga.), the Confederacy’s vice president, appear in Congress to retake the very oath they previously violated by waging war against the country. Whether Jan. 6 was a riot or an actual insurrection remains a matter of deep and largely partisan disagreement — but the disqualification clause was written in reference to a real Civil War in which more than 750,000 people died in combat. The Confederacy was a separate government with its own army, currency and foreign policy.

There is another problem: To the extent that a person can be disqualified under the 14th Amendment, it requires action from Congress, not a local board of election. Despite an otherwise long, careful opinion, Totenberg blithely set aside such details, including an 1869 decision by then-Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. The case in question challenged the right of Hugh W. Sheffey to hold a Virginia state court office, given his support for the Confederacy. Chase ruled that Section 3 did not disqualify Sheffey because “legislation by Congress is necessary to give effect to” Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, and disqualification from office “can only be provided for by Congress.” Congress later passed the Amnesty Act of 1872, which overrode the Disqualification Clause except for “Senators and Representatives of the thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh Congresses.”

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that states cannot impose their own qualifications for Congress because it would “erode the structure envisioned by the Framers.” Under such an approach, partisan state election boards could simply conclude that a member is an insurrectionist and prevent voters from being able to make such choices for themselves.

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Cancel Culture. As per the Guardian.

Barack Obama Outlines Perils Of Unregulated Big Tech (G.)

Technology companies must be reined in to address the “weakening of democratic institutions around the world”, Barack Obama said Thursday, in a sweeping keynote speech on the perils of disinformation. Speaking at Stanford University in Silicon Valley, the former president made his most extensive remarks yet about the technology landscape, which he said is “turbo-charging some of humanity’s worst impulses”. “One of the biggest reasons for the weakening of democracy is the profound change that’s taken place in how we communicate and consume information,” he said. The address came as Obama has increasingly focused his post-presidential messaging on misinformation and what should be done about the largely unchecked power wielded by big tech. On Thursday, he solidified those calls, endorsing specific legislation.

“Do we allow our democracy to wither, or do we make it better?” Obama asked. “That is the choice.” Obama’s speech called attention to the grave impacts of disinformation and misinformation – including manipulation of the 2016 and 2020 elections and the rise of anti-vaccination sentiments. He was candid about regrets he had surrounding Donald Trump’s election, saying his administration had long known that Russia had incentive to manipulate US democracy but he underestimated the effectiveness of the efforts. “What still nags at me is my failure to appreciate at the time just how susceptible we had become to lies and conspiracy theories,” Obama said.

A Senate panel report in 2020 found conclusively that Russia had interfered in the 2016 elections to sway votes in favor of Trump, echoing findings from a prior report published by the Department of Justice. In addition to impacting the results of those elections, disinformation and misinformation has also caused many Americans to reject the results of democratically sound elections, Obama said – noting that the majority of Republicans doubt the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 win. Much of these issues can be attributed to a decline in media literacy, the erosion of local news sources, and an “information overload” as we come into contact with limitless content each day. “The sheer proliferation of conflict and the splintering of information and audiences has made democracy more complicated,” Obama said.

Obama

“Despite the fact that we have now essentially clinically tested the vaccine on billions of people worldwide. Around 1 in 5 Americans is still going to put themselves at risk… rather than get vaccinated.”

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And this is where Obama’s views lead:

Big Tech’s ‘Cancel Culture’ Love Affair (Pepe Escobar)

This month, several of us – Scott Ritter, myself, ASB Military News, among others – were canceled from Twitter. The – unstated – reason: we were debunking the officially approved narrative of the Russia/NATO/Ukraine war. As with all things Big Tech, that was predictable. I lasted only seven months on Twitter. And that was long enough. Contacts in California had told me I was on their radar because the account grew too fast, and had enormous reach, especially after the start of Operation Z. I celebrated the cancelation by experiencing an aesthetic illumination in front of the Aegean Sea, at the home of Herodotus, the Father of History. Additionally, it was heart-warming to be recognized by the great George Galloway in his moving tribute to targets of the new McCarthyism.

In parallel, comic relief of the “Mars Attacks” variety was provided by expectations of free speech on Twitter being saved by the benign intervention of Elon Musk. Techno-feudalism is one of the overarching themes of my latest book, Raging Twenties – published in early 2021 and reviewed here in a very thoughtful and meticulous manner. Cancel culture is inbuilt in the techno-feudalist project: conform to the hegemonic narrative, or else. In my own case regarding Twitter and Facebook – two of the guardians of the internet, alongside Google — I knew a day of reckoning was inevitable, because like other countless users I had previously been dispatched to those notorious “jails”.

On one Facebook occasion, I sent a sharp message highlighting that I was a columnist/analyst for an established Hong Kong-based media company. Some human, not an algorithm, must have read it, because the account was restored in less than 24 hours. But then the account was simply disabled – with no warning. I requested the proverbial “review”. The response was a demand for proof of ID. Less than 24 hours later, came the verdict: “Your account has been disabled” because it had not followed those notoriously hazy “community standards.” The decision was “reviewed” and “it can’t be reversed”. [..] My hit-by-a-Hellfire missile Facebook page clearly identified for the general public who I was, at the time: “Geopolitical analyst at Asia Times”.

The fact of the matter is Facebook algorithms canceled a top columnist from Asia Times – with a proven record and a global profile. The algos would never have had the – digital – guts to do the same with a top columnist from The New York Times or the Financial Times. Asia Times lawyers in Hong Kong sent a letter to Facebook management. Predictably, there was no response. Of course becoming a target of cancel culture – twice – does not even remotely compare to the fate of Julian Assange, imprisoned for over three years in Belmarsh under the most appalling circumstances, and about to be dispatched for “judgment” in the American gulag for the crime of committing journalism. Yet the same “logic” applies: journalism that does not conform to the hegemonic narrative must be taken down.

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They’re coming for him from all sides. By definition, that means they’re coming for his dad, too, even if they don’t recognize it.

Feds Subpoenaed Hunter Biden Paternity Documents, Including Tax Returns (CBS)

Prosecutors investigating Hunter Biden subpoenaed documents from a paternity lawsuit that included tax records for the president’s son, according to documents and an attorney involved in the matter. “They wanted every record relating to Hunter Biden we had,” Clint Lancaster told CBS News. Lancaster represented Lunden Roberts, a woman who filed suit against Hunter Biden in 2019 alleging he was the father of her child. A December 2020 subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Delaware, obtained by CBS News, requested all documents “regarding [Hunter] Biden’s income, assets, debts, obligations, and financial transactions… and all personal and business expenditures.” The request specified January 2017 to the present. The subpoena also requested a wide range of tax documents pertaining to Hunter Biden.

“All federal, state, local and foreign tax documentation related to Biden,” the subpoena reads, “including but not limited to, IRS Forms 1099, income and payroll tax returns, state tax returns, and amended tax returns.” Hunter Biden’s personal and business conduct have been the subject of scrutiny — and the target of Republican political attacks — since the earliest days of the 2020 presidential campaign. The move by federal authorities to obtain these records offers a new, if narrow, glimpse into the long-running investigation into the president’s son — a probe that began as a tax inquiry several years ago. Lancaster told CBS News that in the fall of 2021, the Assistant U.S. Attorney in Delaware, Lesley Wolf, traveled to his Arkansas law office, joined by at least two federal agents, one from the FBI and the other an IRS enforcement agent.

Lancaster said he and his client spent about half a day answering questions about Hunter Biden and his business practices. Lancaster said that in the meeting, investigators asked for information about several companies affiliated with Hunter Biden, including Rosemont Seneca Partners, a firm where he worked for several years. The line of questioning tracks with a separate 2019 federal subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Delaware. The subpoena, obtained by CBS News, sought “all records, documents and accounts pertaining to all financial/banking transactions” between 15 business entities and Hunter Biden, the president’s brother James, as well as two business partners dating back to 2014, when Joe Biden was vice president.

Lancaster said that during the paternity suit Hunter Biden had supplied an “affidavit of financial means,” which detailed his finances through income statements and a breakdown of monthly expenses. Lancaster said the tax records he and his client supplied overlapped with the time period of Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings. Roberts testified before a Delaware grand jury in February of this year, according to her lawyer. An Arkansas court filing from November 2019 states, “DNA testing has established with scientific certainty” that Hunter Biden is the father of Roberts’ child. The child is believed to be around 3 years old today. The paternity case was settled in 2020. Some of the records in the case are under seal.

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Defund.

Black Lives Don’t Matter To BLM (Blaze)

It had even more corporate and cultural support than the vaccines and Ukraine. It was the greatest juggernaut in politics that even ensnared many Republican politicians. Yet never have we seen a movement that accomplished the opposite of what it was purported to do in such a short time frame. It turns out that as a result of the BLM-induced crime wave, reversing a generation-long trend of reduced crime, there were thousands of excess black homicide victims, a body count that is still climbing. Hannah Meyers, director of the policing and public safety initiative at the Manhattan Institute, told Fox News’ Emma Colton that there were nearly 2,500 excess black murders in 2020 over the previous year and the 10-year average. Here is a breakdown of the data from Fox:

In 2019, at least 7,484 Black Americans were murdered. That number shot up to at least 9,941 murders in 2020, meaning there was an increase of 2,457 Black Americans murdered over the previous year. The number of Black murders was also far higher than White murders in 2020. The FBI data shows there 7,043 White people murdered that year, meaning 2,898 more Black people were killed compared to Whites. Between 2010 and 2019, there was an average of 5,954 White murders, which is roughly 16% lower than the 10-year average of Black murders. During that same time period, an average of 6,927 Black Americans were murdered each year, meaning Black murders shot up by 43% in 2020 compared to the previous 10-year average.

What is evident from this analysis is that there were two periods of abnormal increases in black homicides: one in 2015 after Ferguson and Freddie Gray and then a much sharper increase in 2019 with George Floyd. In other words, every time they promote the anti-police and anti-incarceration message, it backfires, and black people are harmed the most. Preliminary numbers from 2021 show an even greater increase in homicides. And given that major cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia set new records, it’s very likely that black victims accounted for an even greater share of the excess.

Republicans stupidly squandered the Trump years trying to outflank the Democrats on de-incarceration in an effort to pander to the black vote. They wrongly focused on the fact that blacks are disproportionately incarcerated, even though that is an unfortunate reflection of the crime rate. What they should have focused on is that black victims of crime are disproportionately affected by jailbreak policies. Despite composing just 13% of the population, they account for the majority of the homicide victims. Releasing career criminals ensures that the body count goes up.

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“Tesla today has a market value of $1.1tn, following a 1,300% rise in its share price since the target was set in January 2018..”

Elon Musk To Collect $23bn Bonus As Tesla Beats Targets (G.)

Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla and the world’s richest person, is set to collect a $23bn bonus after the Californian electric car company’s first-quarter results exceeded performance targets. Musk, who is already sitting on an estimated $249bn fortune, is in line for the bonus share payout after Tesla hit share price and financial growth milestones in its earnings on Wednesday night. Tesla made an adjusted profit of $5bn on revenue of $18.8bn in the first quarter of the year – an 81% increase on the same period a year earlier. The results, combined with the growth in Tesla’s share price performance, mean Musk has hit targets that should lead to a bonus share payout worth about $23bn.

The company outlined an extraordinary deal for Musk in 2018 that would pay him an unprecedented $55.8bn bonus if he built the business into a $650bn company within a decade. He achieved that milestone early, in January 2020. Tesla today has a market value of $1.1tn, following a 1,300% rise in its share price since the target was set in January 2018. It means Musk, who collects no salary, should now have unlocked the final three parts of the 12-tranche bonus scheme. Each tranche gives Musk the right to buy 8.4m Tesla shares at $70, a huge discount on the current $977 share price. His profit on each tranche could be $7.7bn or a combined value of $23bn. The payments need to be signed off by the board, and he must hold on to the shares for five years before selling.

Musk, who is attempting to buy Twitter for more than $43bn, said he was not in talks with Tesla’s board over a new bonus scheme after completing the 2018 deal early. “There are no discussions underway about incremental compensation for me,” he said on the company’s earning call. “The future is very exciting,” Musk said in the call with investors. “I’ve never been more optimistic or excited about the future of Tesla than I am right now.”

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Clinton campaign ad, October 15, 2016.

 

 

Haney suicide

 

 

Greeks eat lamb for Easter

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

Apr 202022
 
 April 20, 2022  Posted by at 8:47 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  74 Responses »


Andy Warhol Grace Kelly 1984

 

There Has Been No Talk Of Peace, Only War (Celente)
Putin ‘Will Go Nuclear’ Says CIA Boss in Regime Change Set Up (Ransom)
Yet Another Huge Ukraine Arms Package As Total Military Aid Nears $3BN (ZH)
Watch Out, Vlad! Here Comes the British Invasion (Tracey)
Russia Must Prepare For “Possible Aggressive Action” From NATO – Medvedev (ZH)
Two Cheers for Realism (Lee)
Telling the COVID Good Guys from the Bad Guys (Hope)
Wall Street Now Paying Attention to the ‘Trust the Science’ Fraud – Dowd (Wolf)
New CDC Center to Predict Pandemics, Provide ‘Outbreak Analytics’ (CSN)
DOJ To Appeal Court Decision to Overturn Mask Mandate, if CDC Asks (CTH)
CDC Removes All Countries From COVID-19 ‘Do Not Travel’ List (Reason)
Treasury Bond Massacre, Mortgage Rates Hit 5.35%, and it’s Only April (WS)
Clinton Campaign: Fusion GPS Provided Legal Advice (TechnoFog)
Taylor Lorenz Is Simply Following The New Rules Of Journalism (Miller)

 

 

Number of days Julian Assange has been in Belmarsh prison, never charged with anything.

Today, another decision is due in his extradition case.

 

 

 

 

Zelensky’s statements influenced by what he drinks or smokes – Lavrov

 

 

 

 

Musk

 

 

The only thing you need to know, really.

There Has Been No Talk Of Peace, Only War (Celente)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that the Western sanctions that were intended to punish Moscow into submission and end its war with Ukraine have failed and, instead, hurt the very countries who imposed them. Putin used a televised address to tell Russians the sanctions were “expected to quickly upset the financial-economic situation, provoke panic in the markets, the collapse of the banking system and shortages in stores.” But said the West’s “economic blitz” failed and backfired. He said they instead led to a “deterioration of the economy in the West.” Last month, President Joe Biden told reporters that the sanctions imposed on Russia were not intended to prevent the 24 February invasion, but were intended instead to unite Europe and show its resolve.

“That’s the important thing. If you’re Putin and you think that Europe is going to crack in a month or six weeks or two months, [that] they can take anything for another month…We have to stay fully, totally, thoroughly united,” he said. When the White House announced a ban on Russian oil imports, oil prices in the U.S. hit their highest levels since 2008. The Russian central bank on Monday announced that consumer prices were about 16.7 percent higher than the same time period last year. The New York Times, citing international financial organizations, reported that economists believe that the Russian economy will contract up to 15 percent.

Biden, who has called Putin a war criminal, killer, and a brute, has discussed additional sanctions against Russia with European allies on Tuesday, Reuters reported. They also discusses arming Ukrainians with even more weapons. Canada announced Tuesday a new round of sanctions against Russians, including Putin’s two adult daughters, the report said. The repot said: “Among those on the call were Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as the leaders of Poland, Japan and Italy.” There has been no talk of peace, only war.

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The narrative needs a new chapter every day, lest people start questioning yesterday’s tale.

Putin ‘Will Go Nuclear’ Says CIA Boss in Regime Change Set Up (Ransom)

Democrats have invented their own WMD story to support regime change, as the head of the CIA warned about taking Russia’s nuclear capability too “lightly.” Speaking at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, CIA Director William Burns has said that in desperation Russian President Vladimir Putin could use a tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon in Ukraine in order to try to reverse his battlefield mistakes. “Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far, militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,” said Burns, according to Voice of America. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also warned about potential Putin use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.


Nina Khrushcheva, the great granddaughter to former Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev, echoed the comments but said it wasn’t a prediction of the use of nukes, but was just noting the potential is there for Putin to use nuclear weapons, said Newsweek. “Since there are questions about how far Russia can go to create victory, and nuclear weapons have been part of the conversation on both sides, Russian and the West, the tactical atomic option is potentially imaginable,” said Khrushcheva, a professor of International Affairs at The New School in New York City, a progressive hotbed.

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Let’s make it an even $30 billion. $3 billion is hardly enough to pay the bonuses at Raytheon this Christmas

Yet Another Huge Ukraine Arms Package As Total Military Aid Nears $3BN (ZH)

Coming off last week’s approved gargantuan $800 million military package for Ukraine, which the broader public and media seemed to not even bat an eye about (but quite the opposite: positively cheering it), what more is there for Biden to do except sign off on another massive weapons package for Kiev… “The Biden administration is preparing to announce another substantial military aid package for Ukraine this week,” NBC News cited five US officials to report Tuesday evening. “Three officials said the package is expected to be similar in size to the $800 million one the administration announced last week.” Biden previewed the new aid package by answering a simple “yes” when asked by a reporter whether Washington will send more artillery to Ukraine.

The new transfers are expected to include “tens of thousands more artillery rounds” – notes Bloomberg, and likely along with more anti-tank missiles, as has been consistently shipped stretching back even before Russia’s late February invasion kicked off. It appears to be the administration’s response to Moscow launching a ‘new phase’ in the war: a major force buildup and push to take the Donbas region from Ukraine, which the Kremlin reportedly wants to see fully accomplished by May 9, Victory Day, which commemorates the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany. Without doubt these continual major weapons packages pledged to Ukraine will only push Russia and NATO into increasingly direct confrontation, given the Kremlin’s standing warning that it will target any inbound Western arms transfers.

Meanwhile, on Monday a senior Pentagon official told Reuters of plans to begin training Ukrainian forces on how to use American-supplied howitzers. It was described, however, that the training would occur outside Ukraine, likely in a neighboring friendly country like Poland. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed this week that so far the United States has successfully delivered new weapons to the Ukrainians on four flights – this as overall US aid pledged to Ukraine since Feb.24 has totaled about $2.6 billion and counting.

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“..the article was published at 10pm local time on the Friday of Easter weekend..”

Watch Out, Vlad! Here Comes the British Invasion (Tracey)

“You heard it here first”? Within less than 48 hours of publishing my previous article — aptly titled “The UK is Trying to Drag the US into World War III” — the most decisive evidence yet for the thesis conveniently emerged. This was thanks to The Times newspaper, which reported that British “boots on the ground” have been deployed to Ukraine. It’s the first time that the armed forces of any NATO member state were confirmed to be physically present inside Ukraine since the war started on February 24. If the UK Government really does aim to position itself at the “vanguard” of an escalating military intervention, in hopes that it can cajole the US into hotter and hotter warfare — as I reported in the previous article — then this seems like a pretty plausible way of going about it.


Is the US content to just sit around and let itself be one-upped by the British, who have now demonstrated their willingness to boldly send “boots on the ground” in defense of freedom and democracy? While the mighty US dithers impotently on the sidelines? Oddly, the response to the Times revelation has been conspicuously muted. At least from my vantage point here in London. And maybe that’s by design: the article was published at 10pm local time on the Friday of Easter weekend, and as I recently discovered, Easter weekend in England a big four-day Bank Holiday bash. So maybe the article was intentionally “buried” to dampen its effect — or maybe the timing was just an innocent coincidence. Either way, there’s been a curious lack of followup or even significant discussion in the days since the news broke. Maybe some inscrutable code of omertà reigns within the UK press corps? For all the problems with US media, it’s not quite as weirdly incestuous and insular as media in the UK.

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“We are talking primarily about an attempt to expand NATO’s presence near our borders.”

Russia Must Prepare For “Possible Aggressive Action” From NATO – Medvedev (ZH)

Following earlier this month both Finland and Sweden signaling their intent to join NATO, close Putin ally and former president Dmitry Medvedev, who serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, has warned that the Western military alliance is engaged in a military buildup along Russia’s borders. “A senior Russian official said on Tuesday that NATO’s reinforcement of its borders with Russia was no longer a figure of speech and Moscow should be prepared for possible aggressive action, Russia’s TASS news agency reported,” according to Reuters. “NATO’s expansion near Russia’s borders is no longer a figure of speech or a set of threats, we must be prepared for aggressive action,” he said according to a translation. The fresh words follow Medvedev’s prior threats to position nuclear and hypersonic missiles along Russian’s western border in the scenario that Finland and Sweden join NATO.

The prospect of Finland, which is said to be studying the issue, joining the alliance is especially alarming for the Kremlin, given Russian and its Scandinavian neighbor share a 810-mile border. Sweden, though a little less important geographically, has already announced its intent to join the alliance. “There can be no more talk of any nuclear–free status for the Baltic – the balance must be restored,” Medvedev said previously. But now on Tuesday, he’s heightened the rhetoric further by saying, “We are talking primarily about an attempt to expand NATO’s presence near our borders.” Medvedev stated further according to state-run TASS, based on a rush translation: “And this is no longer a figure of speech today, this is not a set of standard threats. We must be prepared for those aggressive actions that may happen.”

The thrust of his words were toward encouraging the rapid technological advance of the country’s defense capabilities amid the new ‘NATO threat’ – given the remarks were delivered before a national conference on science and education. He stressed that “it is important to build up, among other things, a system that allows you to provide the country with the most modern weapons.” “And this requires reliable, high-tech, powerful equipment – both military and dual-use,” the deputy head of the Security Council added, explaining that the situation did “not arise by itself, especially in those conditions when sanctions have been imposed on the country.”

Cement

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Westphalian Treaty, 1648.

“Russia, China have legitimate spheres of influence and this should be respected. This will involve an end to the gross provocations in the South China Sea and in Poland, Romania, and the Baltics, not to mention the ongoing series of colour revolutions.”

Two Cheers for Realism (Lee)

As the US and its vassals therefore prepare for war, its populations must be conditioned to believe and accept such an inevitable outcome. The propaganda machine has been stepped up to unprecedented levels. The message is simple. Our side = good, Their side = bad. Our side does good things, their side does bad things. Thus, the media – now an asset of the deep state – plays an essential role of propagating this political construction among the populations of the Anglo-Zionist heartlands. All of which is very reminiscent of Orwell’s short novel Animal Farm. After the Animal Revolution and the eviction of Jones the Farmer, the sheep were instructed by the ruling group – the pigs – into reciting the goodness of the animals and the badness of humans. The short and endless bleat of the sheep went as follows: ‘’Four legs good, two legs bad,’’ repeated endlessly.

That is about the level of western foreign policy. Good guys, bad guys, white hats, black hats, no compromise, no surrender. Result war. The question we must now ask is has this menacing process gone too far to go into reverse? This of course remains an open question. But the thrust of neo-conservative foreign policy would suggest this war would be a logical outcome. Either that or the whole thing is a bluff. Up to this point the US performance in attacking recalcitrant weak states has not been a roaring success. The same goes for Israel. Bombing countries with no air defence or shooting Palestinian kids with sniper rifles is easy-peasy. Taking on Iran is a different matter entirely. The irresistible force seems to be meeting its immovable object.

From a realist as opposed to a neo-conservative foreign policy the idea of an American world empire is frankly deranged. Pursuit of this pipedream can only result in mutually assured destruction; yes, M.A.D. still applies. The United States and its minions might not like it, but it will have to learn to live with other great powers. Russia, China have legitimate spheres of influence and this should be respected. This will involve an end to the gross provocations in the South China Sea and in Poland, Romania, and the Baltics, not to mention the ongoing series of colour revolutions.

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“These sociopathic characteristics include superficial charm, untruthfulness, absence of neurosis or anxiety, poverty of emotion, and a lack of remorse or shame. ”

Telling the COVID Good Guys from the Bad Guys (Hope)

Most recently, Elon Musk has stepped forward, offering to purchase Twitter and remove the censorship from the platform. This move would turn the tables on the Great Reset and restore the voice of the American public. Some are conflicted and see Musk as a potential bad guy due to his billionaire status and work developing technologies that could be used against the populace. However, upon closer inspection, one notices that Musk has been consistent in his views over the last two years. Musk was among the first to tweet about the potential benefits of using HCQ in early 2020. Musk’s position has not changed, while the opposition lies, waffles, and double talks.

In his first interview with Joe Rogan in May of 2020, Musk questioned the lockdowns’ wisdom and insisted that our freedoms should come first. He noted that our liberty and democracy had come at significant cost, and we should not allow them to be eroded so easily. Looking deeper at Musk, one realizes he is not a sociopath like so many other billionaires. Sixteen factors help identify a sociopath – according to the Cleckley Profile as set forth by Dr. Hervey M. Cleckley, the expert considered to be the Father of Psychopathy. He discussed these in his treatise, The Mask of Sanity. These sociopathic characteristics include superficial charm, untruthfulness, absence of neurosis or anxiety, poverty of emotion, and a lack of remorse or shame.

In short, they have cold, reptilian personalities and no conscience. Sociopaths have no anxiety and can often beat lie detector tests because their heart rates and blood pressure can remain stable under questioning that would phase most of us. While our leading health authorities and top vaccine billionaires easily qualify as sociopaths, Musk’s personality does not fit. He tears up at interviews to the extent the cameraman must stop filming; he exhibits great emotion when speaking about his childhood or challenges with his businesses.

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There goes the CDC.

Wall Street Now Paying Attention to the ‘Trust the Science’ Fraud – Dowd (Wolf)

As Pfizer try to ‘pump their stock’ Hedge Fund guru Dowd, takes us inside what he calls the third great fraud in his lifetime, in this new bombshell interview with Dr Naomi Wolf.

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Except, they’re giving the CDC more powers, no matter how badly it failed.

New CDC Center to Predict Pandemics, Provide ‘Outbreak Analytics’ (CSN)

On Tuesday, the Biden Administration announced the launch of the CDC’s new Center for Forecasting and Analysis (CFA) to predict future pandemics and guide the government’s efforts to address such anticipated infectious disease threats. A center of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CFA will use “infectious disease modeling and analytics and to provide support to leaders at the federal, state, and local levels,” the CDC explains in its announcement. As “the equivalent of the National Weather Service for infectious diseases,” the CFA will “predict trends and guide decision-making,” the CDC says:

“CFA’s work will be focused into three main pillars: to predict, inform, and innovate. CFA has begun to build a world-class outbreak analytics team with experts across several disciplines to develop faster, richer evidence to predict trends and guide decision-making during emergencies.” According to the CFA website, the new center will also predict the future course of ongoing pandemics, in order to help public health officials to take preemptive measures: “The goal of the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics (CFA) is to enable timely, effective decision-making to improve outbreak response using data, modeling, and analytics.

“To do so, CFA will produce models and forecasts to characterize the state of an outbreak and its course, inform public health decision makers on potential consequences of deploying control measures, and support innovation to continuously improve the science of outbreak analytics and modeling.” CFA Science Director Marc Lipsitch, hopes to employ regular population sampling, by means like blood draws and swab tests, in order to collect data, the AP reports: “[T]he United Kingdom uses regular population sampling with swab tests and blood draws to get a clearer picture of who’s been infected, said Marc Lipsitch, the new center’s science director. He said similar sampling should be considered in the U.S.”

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“..a political DOJ has to wait for a political CDC to determine whether they still have any currency of influence..”

DOJ To Appeal Court Decision to Overturn Mask Mandate, if CDC Asks (CTH)

On one hand, Joe Biden needs to appease the base of his Covidians who identify themselves through the prism of COVID. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of Americans are done with the COVID fear mongering. What to do, what to do? Trying to split the baby, Biden’s DOJ announces it will appeal the federal court ruling that overturned the federal Transporation covid mask mandate, but only if the CDC tells them to. “DOJ PRESS RELEASE – […] “The Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) disagree with the district court’s decision and will appeal, subject to CDC’s conclusion that the order remains necessary for public health.” “If CDC concludes that a mandatory order remains necessary for the public’s health after that assessment, the Department of Justice will appeal the district court’s decision.”


Keep in mind, the federal court ruling specifically centered around the arbitrary nature of the original mandate, which exceeded the scope of CDC legal authority, compounded by the CDC breaking its own rules for public feedback in the implementation.The mandate created by Joe Biden did not have legal structure. It was a dictatorial fiat that exceeded the capacity of the executive branch to create. Congress could easily write a law authorizing mechanisms for the CDC and TSA to use in enforcement of a federal Transportation mask mandate; but they won’t – because the public would never support it. So now, a political DOJ has to wait for a political CDC to determine whether they still have any currency of influence amid the politics of COVID.

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Just demolish it.

CDC Removes All Countries From COVID-19 ‘Do Not Travel’ List (Reason)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its international travel recommendations on Monday, relaxing previous COVID-19 risk assessments.Previously, the CDC’s “Level 4” risk designation applied to destinations with “very high” levels of COVID-19 transmission. On Sunday, 89 countries and territories were listed in this category, with the CDC advising, “Avoid travel to these destinations. If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.” The agency has since named its highest risk category “Level 4: Special Circumstances/Do Not Travel” and removed all countries from it. In a statement last week, the CDC indicated it would reserve this designation for “special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse.”

The CDC’s next highest designation, “Level 3: COVID-19 High,” now includes 122 destinations and advises that travelers are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations, but does not advise the fully vaccinated to avoid travel wholesale. Given that there are few places in the world where COVID-19 has not spread widely, it is becoming necessary for the individual traveler to determine his own risk tolerance. Safety does not simply depend on picking the country with no active COVID-19 cases, but rather on taking stock of your vaccination status, your preexisting conditions, and the medical infrastructure at your destination.

The CDC’s new advisory structure makes the point that not all areas with high COVID-19 transmission are irreconcilably dangerous to visit. As recently as Sunday, the CDC advised travelers to exercise the same level of COVID-related caution when visiting Norway and the Central African Republic; South Korea and Papua New Guinea; and Australia and Vietnam. It makes little sense to advise the same level of extreme medical caution across each of these nations, considering how vastly each country’s health capacities may differ. Denmark, Switzerland, and Sweden are said to have some of the best health care in the world, but in terms of COVID contagion, the CDC considered them as risky to visit as Somalia, a country with only one surgeon for every 1 million people and a full COVID vaccination rate of just 8.5 percent.

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You will own nothing and you will be happy.

Treasury Bond Massacre, Mortgage Rates Hit 5.35%, and it’s Only April (WS)

The interesting thing is that no one at the Fed is trying to talk down those spikes in Treasury yields and mortgage rates. It shows that those yields are going where the Fed wants them to go, and that the Treasury market is coming around to the Fed’s rate-hike plan, and that those yields have a long ways to go, given that CPI inflation is 8.5%, a gigantic mess that has unfolded over the past 15 months, finally, after 12 years of money-printing. The two-year Treasury yield spiked by 15 basis points today to 2.61%, the highest since January 2019. This has been a huge move in just seven months. When the two-year yield goes over 2.83%, it will be in territory not seen since 2007, as the Treasury market begins to price in the Fed’s coming policy action to crack down on inflation:

Even the biggest doves at the Fed are now fully on board the rate-hike train, and it’s only a question of how fast and how long. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, one of the biggest doves, is “comfortable” with 25-basis-point hikes at every meeting this year (there are seven more), and even he is “open” to 50-basis-point hikes: “we want to be humble and nimble, and get to neutral before too long – maybe 50 helps, I’m open to that,” he said. The 10-year Treasury yield rose by 8 basis points to 2.93% at the close today, the highest since December 2018. The magic number there is 3.24%, beyond which yields are back in 2011 territory:

When yields rise, it means prices of those bonds fall, and prices fall the hardest of bonds with the longest remaining maturities. And it’s a massacre for people who invested in what they thought was a very conservative and prudent instrument, namely a bond fund tracking long-term Treasury securities, when in fact it turned out to be a highly risky wager on long-term Treasury yields always going lower forevermore. The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF [TLT], which tracks an index of Treasury securities with at least 20 years of remaining maturities, dropped another 0.75% today, is down 19.5% year-to-date, and has plunged by 30.6% from the peak in August 2020, which was when long-term Treasury yields had hit historic lows, and which was – with hindsight – the moment the greatest bond-market bubble in US history began to implode:

Holy moly Mortgage rates. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate spiked to 5.35% today, the highest since 2009! This daily measure of mortgage rates by Mortgage News Daily had briefly hit 5.05% in November 2018, with inflation at or below the Fed’s target, and with markets tanking left and right, before the Fed made its infamous U-Turn, and mortgage rates dove. Now the Fed is just getting started, with inflation at 8.5%. There is no one that can persuade me that this jump in mortgage rates isn’t going to have a serious impact on the housing market. It’s the Fed’s way of getting the housing bubble under control before it tears up the financial system again:

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They’re getting lost in their own narratives.

Clinton Campaign: Fusion GPS Provided Legal Advice (Techno Fog)

The battle over documents and e-mails in the Michael Sussmann case just got hotter. Back in August 2017, Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee, explaining how his firm was retained to gather “lots of facts about Donald Trump.” He admitted that Fusion GPS met with reporters leading up to the 2016 election to spread opposition research against then-candidate Trump. The context of Perkins Coie’s retention of Fusion GPS was further explained in a book co-authored by Simpson and Fusion GPS co-founder Peter Fritsch. They documented an April 20, 2016 meeting with Mark Elias (Perkins Coie partner and counsel for the DNC/Clinton Campaign), where Elias requested their services for opposition research.

Now the stories have changed. Fusion GPS is no longer an opposition research firm, and they weren’t hired to dig-up dirt against Trump. Instead, they would have you believe, after the phony dossier and the Alfa Bank hoax, that Fusion GPS was retained to provide legal advice to the Hillary Clinton Campaign. Remarkable. On April 6, Durham filed [a] motion to compel in the Michael Sussmann case, requesting the court require the production of “emails and attachments between and among” Perkins Coie, Rodney Joffe, and Fusion GPS. These emails and documents, according to Durham, “appear or involve or relate to” Fusion GPS’s provision of research and media services to Hillary for America, the DNC, and Perkins Coie. (Some documents had been produced pursuant to grand jury subpoenas dating back to the 2021.)

Faced with this pressure, today there was a flurry of filings from interested entities in the Sussmann case, seeking to intervene to petition the court to keep these emails and documents secret. The DNC, Rodney Joffe, Perkins Coie, and Hillary for America all filed motions to intervene and memorandums in opposition to Durham’s motion to compel. Notably, we saw arguments to the court that Fusion GPS wasn’t retained for opposition research. Hillary for America, for example, asserted “attorney-client privilege and work product protection over communications and work product of its attorneys (at Perkins Coie) and their consultant (Fusion GPS).” In support of that motion, Hillary for America included declarations from John Podesta, Robby Mook, and their attorney, Marc Elias. Declarations which contradict the public record.

To prove my point, John Podesta declared that to his knowledge, Perkins Coie has “consistently maintained” confidentiality, despite the fact that Perkins Coie (Sussmann in particular) assisted in distributing to the press the materials and allegations prepared by Fusion GPS and other researchers. Not to be outdone, Robby Mook (Hillary’s campaign manager) told the court that he believed that contractors for Perkins Coie – which would include Fusion GPS – were providing “legal services and legal advice” to the Clinton campaign. Unfortunately for Hillary for America, Mook’s belief is insufficient for the purposes of privilege. Clinton lawyer Mark Elias also submitted a declaration, stating the role of Fusion GPS was to “provide consulting services in support of the legal advice” Perkins Coie and Elias were providing their clients. This contradicts the Elias’s own statements cited above.

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“Taylor Lorenz is not the ultimate problem. The problem is news outlets and infotainment companies using their outsize power and vast budgets to harass and doxx private citizens they disagree with. ”

Taylor Lorenz Is Simply Following The New Rules Of Journalism (Miller)

Much has been said about Taylor Lorenz, the 30-something-year-old journalist for the Washington Post and former New York Times Slack channel gossipmonger. Still, her lack of media ethics is now unambiguous. On Tuesday, we learned about Lorenz’s doxxing of those behind a viral social media account she personally dislikes. Lorenz published a story on the popular “LibsofTikTok” Twitter account. This account curates and highlights content from the extreme fringes of the cultural and political Left on TikTok and other platforms. The account isn’t much different from the “Right Wing Watch” account on Twitter, which does mostly the same thing from a politically left perspective. The difference is simply who is protected by most of the media and who isn’t. That’s what much of the discourse around the public revealing of the person behind the LibsofTikTok account is missing.

Taylor Lorenz is what the media are now. In 2017, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski tracked down an anonymous Reddit user who had created a gif of President Donald Trump clotheslining a wrestler at a WWE event, with the CNN logo replacing the opposing wrestler’s head. CNN found this to be doxx-worthy simply because it was retweeted by Trump. In 2019, when a joke video of a “drunk” Nancy Pelosi (the creator simply reduced the speed of the video) spread around, Kevin Poulsen of the Daily Beast tracked down and doxxed the person who did it, revealing he is an ex-con living in the Bronx who was working as a forklift operator. These details were not newsworthy. The video itself was not newsworthy. But the Daily Beast published his name and employment anyway.

In 2018, HuffPost writer Luke O’Brien doxxed and revealed the identity of a pro-Trump Twitter user, including information regarding a popular Brooklyn deli that her siblings owned and was not related to her social media posts. The deli was soon threatened with boycotts and negative Yelp reviews. These are just three examples of what has become an industry standard. It’s a standard that now has some reporters comparing LibsofTikTok to Harvey Weinstein and the Watergate scandal. However, in singling out Taylor Lorenz, what the political Right doesn’t understand is this is about politics and shutting down opposing speech. That is to say, speech that Lorenz or Kaczynski or the Daily Beast are ideologically opposed to. Of course, this is also about media power.

CNN is a multibillion-dollar media conglomerate that used the full weight of its corporate power to threaten a private individual with a Reddit account. In a newspaper owned by Jeff Bezos, Lorenz publishes a story with an individual’s name, professional license, and address information. It’s a struggle between one of the richest, most powerful men on the Earth and someone behind a Twitter account with less than a million followers (although that follower count is almost certainly about to increase). Taylor Lorenz is not the ultimate problem. The problem is news outlets and infotainment companies using their outsize power and vast budgets to harass and doxx private citizens they disagree with. It’s a new journalistic model for an industry that sees its grip loosening on what news it can control and create (see the media freak-out over Elon Musk buying their favorite toy). Taylor Lorenz, for all her theatrics, is simply leading the charge.

Tucker Libs of TikTok

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Gates Nov 2019
https://twitter.com/CovidMemo/status/1516444224622927882

 

 

 

 

Ships waiting to dock in Shanghai.

 

 

NATO ad

 

 

 

 

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Mar 162022
 
 March 16, 2022  Posted by at 5:45 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


John Atkinson Grimshaw A moonlit lane 1874

 

 

It’s almost slapstick that people call for Putin to be hauled before some international court for war crimes, but it’s true; they do. It tells you what you need to know about your media, and then some. Because, whether you know it or not, the last 4-5 America presidents have been responsible for the deaths of millions of people in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan etc etc. Just not in Ukraine. Wait, that’s probably not true either. The estimated 15,000 deaths in the Donbass over the past 8 years would likely never have happened without some US help.

And we just see it all as par for the course. The “peace” negotiations between Ukraine and Russia look hopeful, but are they? Russia has always been very clear in what it wants from Ukraine, and that goes back way longer than the start of the “special military operation” 3 weeks ago, or Maidan in 2014. It goes back at least to the fall of the Berlin wall, but it’s really much earlier than that. How about 1945, and then throw in Brzezinski, and Wolfowitz, and Kissinger, and why not Mackinder as well?

But don’t let’s make it a book. To simplify, stop at 1991, when Yeltsin became president of Russia, with an alleged 1000 CIA operatives in his Kremlin tow. The Americans thought they had it made. That the deal with Gorbachev, in which he OK’d German reunification on the condition that NATO boundaries would stop right there, no longer mattered. But in 2000 Yeltsin made Putin his successor. I like the notion that the west promoted Putin because they thought he would do exactly what they wanted. But I also like the more romantic version that Yeltsin installed Putin because he felt remorse over selling out his country, and thought Putin might correct that. Fast forward to the “peace” negotiations. What Russia wants is crystal clear. As Robert Barnes put it:

What we see today is they are discussing “neutrality”. But that can still mean different things. Apparently, Russia has suggested a Sweden or Austria status, but Ukraine doesn’t find that safe enough. The idea becomes that if you are truly neutral, why would you need an army? The world’s most neutral country ever, Switzerland still has “something”, as Swissinfo says: “The Swiss Army largely is a non-career militia. Switzerland has compulsory military service for male citizens, though this and indeed the role of the army altogether have recently been called into question.”

That seems close to what Russia would seek for Ukraine. But why can’t Ukraine decide its status for itself? Well, 1/ it was part of Russia for a very long time, 2/ a lot of Russians live in the country, 3/ Russia doesn’t want NATO on its welcoming mat, 4/ it has allowed US/NATO to use its territory for activities that Russia sees as threatening to itself. Like 30 biolabs. That sort of thing. Oh, and 5/ they share a border.

Both sides said today that the talks appear to go well, there’s room for compromise, and Zelensky said yesterday that Ukraine won’t join NATO. And then today he asks the US Congress (both chambers) for more guns and bombs and planes and also a no-fly-zone, though he knows, and everybody knows, that it would be an all-out war declaration, reaching far beyond the borders of Ukraine. And gets cheered for it. But how does he -and they- think that went down in Russia? How is that supposed to solve the problem, and to end the military operation? “We need your help to start WWII!”. This is Pearl Harbor and 9/11 combined! Applause, applause!

In that speech, he was also addressing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of whom we had a clip earlier today, that really should also make you wonder: how do the Russians see this, or the Chinese? We have tons of clips from Joe Biden exhibiting very strange behavior, for everyone to see, and now this from the 2nd most powerful person in Washington?! At a moment in time when one -even mistaken- push of a button could unleash hell on earth, are you sure a couple of feeble octogenarians are the best people for the job?

 

 

Seriously, I know that Americans see this as normal behavior, but you should really ask yourself how the rest of the world sees it. How is Nancy Pelosi’s performance in that clip not something that would scare the heebees out of you, if you’re in Beijing or Moscow, or any capital city for that matter? To put a dark view on it: why would she care about the future? It’s not hers…

Zelensky is hailed as a hero, because he’s an easy on the eye person that’s ideal for the part, But that is the problem: Zelensky is an actor who plays a hero. What the situation needs is not Zelensky or Pelosi or god forbid Joe Biden (he’s flying to Europe next week). Or, you know, Jake Sullivan or Victoria Nuland.

What it needs is people like Lavrov, maybe Jimmy Carter, statesmen, there must be some sane people left in the US. We need people who genuinely seek peace, not trigger happy neocons and warmongers, on either side, on whatever side.

I think neutrality is possible, even if the Americans won’t like it and Zelensky is their puppet, simply because it’s by far the best, and quite likely the only solution. No Nukes is easy; that was never an option. So is No NATO, as Zelensky himself has already conceded. The crux may be No Nazis. Because Russia will want to make sure of that, before they even think of leaving. Theoretically, Ukraine can maintain an army (of sorts), but that would still be likely to have Azov et al elements.

The only acceptable way -to Moscow- would then be to install a court and drag all the “nazis” in front of it. But that would take a very long time, and the Russians would have to stay in the country for the duration. I wonder how they think that Gordian knot can be cut.

As for the news about Russian soldiers firing at people waiting in line for bread, or shooting at a convoy of people fleeing a city, or bombing a theater where 100s of people were sheltering, look we only get western news. And Russians are doing propaganda too, no doubt, but we can’t see that anymore after their news channels were banned over here. Don’t believe a word you hear or see, without solid proof. Indiscriminate targeting of civilians and children does not appear to be their MO. They could have flattened the entire country in just 3 days if it was.

 

 

 

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Mar 222019
 


New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leaves after the Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

 

 

Dani Lebo is the wife of Nelson Lebo III, a regular contributor at the Automatic Earth. They are two Americans who have settled in Whanganui on the North Island of New Zealand. Whanganui is over 600 km (400 miles) from Christchurch on the South Island, but that is where Dani found herself last Friday, in the park next to the mosque where most of the victims fell. This is what she wrote about that.

Dani and Nelson named their son after a Neil Diamond song.

 


Dani Lebo with son Suleiman

 

Dani Lebo: A week after my son was born, I come across his name in an article in the New York Times. I catch my breath. He is a young man. He is describing the scene after a bomb tore through his village in Afghanistan. He is terrified, he says. He doesn’t know where to sleep. I don’t sleep that night either.

A year and a half later I see my son’s name in our local paper. He arrived six weeks ago from Syria. His brother and sister were killed by a bomb that woke him in the night. He is 5 years old and has already witnessed more tragedy than I will ever see in my lifetime.

Today I say my son’s full name as he giggles and throws himself into my arms. I sing the song that he was named for. He laughs. His shaggy golden hair covers his blue eyes.

“His name means ‘peace’,” I once justified to a Plunket nurse who didn’t even attempt to pronounce it. For some reason I felt the need to explain away her unwillingness to engage in something she saw as “different” or “too hard”. It is uncommon here, but common in the Muslim world. My son shares his name with millions of boys – millions of Muslim boys. Their mothers also named them “peace”.

 


People gathered to mourn at Hagley Park, Christchurch, last weekend. Photo Michael Craig

 

And then there I was sitting on the floor of a potting shed in Hagley Park on Friday, March 15, thinking about how relieved I was that my Suleiman, my laughing, smiling, joy of a boy was nowhere near me. Relieved that my Suleiman was safe at home – protected from this scene by 627km and the colour of his skin. And while I was sitting there feeling that relief I was so acutely aware that just a few hundred metres away sat a mother who was, in that very moment, watching her own son die.

In my head I know I was safe that day, but I’m having trouble telling my mind that.

Although I was very close to the shooting, I was never a target. I have run through a few hundred scenarios in my head where the day ends differently – the gunman’s car doesn’t start and he escapes on foot through the park – or he returns to the police cordon after the initial shooting – or his hatred is just slightly less predictable and he decides to spread his terror in a more random direction.

In each of these scenarios he comes to the shed where we were waiting. I try to dismiss these thoughts as quickly as they come, but they are wearing me down. They are wearing me down and I wasn’t even in any real danger. I heard no shots. I saw no blood. My Suleiman was far far away.

I almost didn’t write this column because people are feeling fatigued by this story, by this grief. I am feeling fatigued by my story, by my grief. But I want to let you know how I am feeling. Because you might be feeling this way too one day.

On Friday I spent four hours sitting in a shed in Hagley Park surrounded by uncertainty and fear. Like hundreds of others I waited tensely within blocks of the shooting not knowing exactly where and what was happening.

The fear and sadness and rage I am experiencing this week has given me a glimpse, the smallest tiniest of understanding, of what it would be like to exist in a world of uncertainty and fear.

The world where a man sits near the window when he prays because he is certain that one day he will need to use it as an escape route. And then he does. The world where children are trained in lockdown procedures. The world that our Muslim friends, our black friends, our Chinese friends walk in every day.

My experience that day wasn’t exceptional, and to me that’s an exceptional comment on the state of the world.

 

 

• Dani Lebo has a background in international relations and education. She runs The ECO School, an organisation dedicated to accessible sustainability education.

 

 

 

 

Nov 272017
 
 November 27, 2017  Posted by at 10:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  14 Responses »


Guatave Courbet The cliffs of Étretat after the storm 1870

 

Why Are We Addicted To Debt? (Forbes)
China Debt Grows At Faster Pace Despite Years Of Efforts To Contain It (R.)
Maybe China Shouldn’t Open Up (Pettis)
OECD Warns on Rising Debt Risk as Canadians Most in the Red (BBG)
Bitcoin – Too Far Too Fast? (Peter Tchir)
Italy’s 5-Star, Stung By Fake News Claims, Wants OSCE Election Monitors (R.)
The Problem Isn’t Populism: the Problem Is the Status Quo Has Failed (CHS)
Britain Must Accept High Immigration Or Forget Trade Deal With India (BI)
Why There Is No Peace On Earth (Stockman)
Australia’s Final Solution (Connelly)
Fears For World’s Rarest Penguin As Population Plummets (G.)

 

 

Asia, that is. Check the marginal productivity of debt graph. And remember, once you’re at zero, you’re done. I’d venture you’re done way before even.

Why Are We Addicted To Debt? (Forbes)

Almost everyone is familiar with Asia’s rags to riches story. The recent economic miracle led to huge increases in living standards across the region. Average incomes rose by factors of 100% to even 400% in some areas. Not to mention the number of people surviving on less than $2 USD a day was cut in half. A major turning point for this economic wonder was when China joined of the World Trade Organization in 2002. Shortly after, Asia’s contribution to the global GDP jumped from 11% to 21%. However, debt distorts these figures in a variety of ways. So, that begs the question; was it a miracle or just an illusion? What tricks does Asia have up its sleeve? Many are becoming increasingly anxious over Asia’s debt-fueled economy. Their fears may soon become a reality.

[..] Asia’s ability to consume credit seems never ending. Even during the recent financial crisis, Asia witnessed governments working hard to maintain cheap money flowing into their financial systems. The Chinese government implemented a stimulus package with record low interest rates. They wanted to mimic the methods used by other global central banks during the 2007 and 2008 financial crisis. Despite the large amount of media attention China’s borrowing levels received, they’re not special. As you can see in the chart below, credit levels have soared throughout Asia. Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Malaysia all have increased their debt to GDP ratios since 2001.

An increased dependency on cheap, available credit produced household debt to shoot up in South Korea and Taiwan. What are the possible outcomes? In many of these economies, high debt levels could lead to tragedy. The main culprit would be GDP growth rate’s inability to balance out spiraling debt levels. This situation is called the marginal productivity of debt. Or put more simply, new debt is not as efficient at creating new growth. Look at the chart below to see how the marginal productivity of debt plays out in Asian economies. Even major, regional growth contributors like South Korea, Japan and China, have experienced this downward trend. Indonesia is the only exception.

Since 2001 China’s marginal productivity has declined by a factor just short of 50%. Since investment has been one of China’s main growth drivers (almost entirely financed by debt), this is concerning. To add fuel to the fire, much of that debt has been funneled into China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs). For instance, while corporate debt was at 165% of the GDP in 2015, SOEs made up 71% of it. Meanwhile, those SOEs only contributed around 20% to China’s total GDP.

Read more …

Unstoppable?

China Debt Grows At Faster Pace Despite Years Of Efforts To Contain It (R.)

For years China’s top officials have touted their ambitious policy priority to wean the world’s second-largest economy off high levels of debt, but there is not much to show for it. On the contrary, a Reuters analysis shows the debt pile at Chinese firms has been climbing in that time, with levels at the end of September growing at the fastest pace in four years. The build-up has continued even as policymakers roll out a series of measures to end the explosive growth of debt, including persuading state firms and local governments to prune borrowing and tighter rules and monitoring of banks’ short-term borrowing. By some estimates, China’s overall debt is now as much as three times the size of its economy.

Without a comprehensive strategy to tackle the overhang, there is a growing risk China will have a banking crisis or sharply slower growth or both, the IMF said last year. China’s central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, made global headlines with a warning last month of the risks of a “Minsky moment”, referring to a sudden collapse in asset prices after long periods of growth, sparked by debt or currency pressures. On the sidelines of a key, twice-a-decade Communist Party Congress in October, Zhou referred to relatively high corporate debt and the fast pace of growth in household lending. While also pledging to fend off such risks, Zhou has acknowledged it will take some time to bring debt down to more manageable levels.

Reuters analysis of 2,146 China listed firms showed their total debt at the end of September jumped 23% from a year ago, the highest pace of growth since 2013. The analysis covered three-fifths of the country’s listed firms, but excluded financials, which have seen the brunt of government de-risking and deleveraging efforts so far.

Read more …

Michael Pettis still sees isolationism as an answer. But isn’t China too open for that already?

Maybe China Shouldn’t Open Up (Pettis)

China needs reform. This has long been the consensus advice from economists and multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, whose recent “China 2030” report argues that Chinese leaders should strengthen the role of markets and liberalize legal, financial and other institutions governing the economy. Their to-do list is virtually gospel by now: free up trade and investment, unshackle the exchange rate and ease capital controls. Such reforms are held not only to be worthy in themselves, but critical to solving China’s biggest problem: its debt, which has skyrocketed to well over 260% of GDP from 162% in 2008. The speed and scale of credit expansion has raised fears of a financial crisis, even from such normally staid figures as central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan. The hope is that reforms will boost productivity enough to allow China to outgrow its debt burden before that crisis hits.

This logic is flawed for two reasons. First, China is unlikely to suffer a financial crisis, and this is precisely because of the government’s ability to restructure banking-sector liabilities at will. The real threat is different. Once a country’s debt burden is high enough to create uncertainty about allocating future debt-servicing costs, the debt itself becomes an obstacle to growth. This process – known as “financial distress” – is well-understood in finance theory but is still unfamiliar to many economists. So, unfortunately, is the corroborating history. In the past two centuries, there have been dozens of cases of overly-indebted countries whose policymakers have promised to implement liberalizing reforms meant to allow the country to outgrow its debt. None has succeeded. No excessively indebted country has ever outgrown its debt until a meaningful portion has been forcibly assigned to one economic sector or another.

There are many ways this can occur. Mexico restructured its debt at a discount in 1990, thereby forcing the cost onto creditors. Germany inflated the debt away after 1919, forcing the cost onto pensioners and others with fixed incomes. A decade ago, China forced the cost onto household savers through negative real interest rates. If it is going to regain sustainable growth, China, too, must deleverage. The only healthy way to do so is first, to force local governments to liquidate assets and assign part of the proceeds to debt reduction, and second, to wean China off its dependence on excessive investment by transferring wealth from local governments to households, so they can consume more.

Read more …

I wanted to include this article because it raises a serious question. The countries with arguably the highest household debt levels (or close) are New Zealand, Australia, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway. They are all missing from the OECD numbers. How can that be a coincidence?

OECD Warns on Rising Debt Risk as Canadians Most in the Red (BBG)

The OECD warned that rising private debt loads in both advanced and developing economies pose a risk to growth as Canada, South Korea and the U.K. lead the world in household borrowing. “Household and corporate debt in many advanced and emerging market economies is high,” the OECD said Thursday in a pre-released section of a report to be presented next week. “While higher indebtedness does not necessarily imply that problems are just around the corner, it does increase vulnerability to shocks”. With the global economy showing its most even expansion since the financial crisis, debt levels and credit quality are among the risks that could trigger a downturn. Consumer debt tops 100% of GDP in Canada, with South Korea and Britain both above 80%. On corporate borrowing, the OECD warned about a shift in risk from banks to the bond market and a “substantial” decrease in credit quality.

Read more …

As bitcoin nears $10K, Tchir reflects.

Bit from Twitter: @JorgeStolfi: “Bitcoin’s market cap just passed 150 billion USD. For those who do not know, that is how much money NEW bitcoin “investors” will have to spend, in order for the current bitcoin holders to get the money that they THINK they have.”

Bitcoin – Too Far Too Fast? (Peter Tchir)

As Bitcoin surges above $9,250 on the open this Sunday, I have to admit to having some real trepidation at these levels. I have been a proponent of the view that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies would benefit from the launch of ETFs and futures. My view is that allowing for easier ‘adoption’ of Bitcoin will help fuel its growth as it lets new investors participate indirectly. I should not limit that theory to just more traditional ways to invest, like ETFs and futures, but should also include easier ways to establish wallets and to own Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) the ‘traditional’ way. There are a growing number of ‘easy’ to use guides to getting Bitcoin (I have glanced at many but haven’t followed through to verify how well they work of don’t work).

I am convinced that ease of access and the potential for more mainstream products linked to Bitcoin has helped fuel its surge. But now, I am concerned it has gone too far, too fast. I have three major concerns that could slow the price rise or even cause it to have a significant correction (yes, I am converting from bullish Bitcoin to at best neutral). Here are the three concerns:

1) Are all the ETF and Futures launches a ‘sell the news’ event? Basically the question is, while I believe that easier adoption will lead to inflows, how much of that is priced in? Have speculators loaded their electronic wallets with Bitcoin hoping to capitalize on the expected gains to the point, there won’t be more expected gains? Understanding when something is ‘already’ priced in is difficult at the best of times, let alone with something as complex and growing exponentially like Bitcoin, but, I can’t help but wonder. I have felt a switch in discussions I’m having over the last few weeks. A subtle switch, but one where the Bitcoin bulls seem more eager to name ever higher price targets, while the agnostics seem more willing to do work and think about it more, rather than in a rush to get some money into Bitcoin. The sort of behavior that may be indicating a ‘sell the news’ type of environment.

2) There are becoming too many competing investments which are causing some investors to question how ‘real’ the existing ones are. Yes, I understand that ICO’s aren’t necessarily dilutive, if you can purchase them with Bitcoin, but it does start to appear odd when it seems like virtually every day, someone or some entity is announcing some new variation on the theme.

3) Fedcoin, the potential for the Fed could be classified within concern number 2, but is really only part of a larger, separate concern – that governments or central banks will push back. I read this week, along with a lot of other people, an article describing that Bitcoin was now worth more than McDonald’s. While that sort of article is designed to ‘shock’ investors, especially more conservative investors, I think it represents a larger, growing concern that the ‘establishment’ has surrounding cryptocurrencies. Whether the concerns are more focused on the potential for illegal funds to enter the system, taxation, controlling ‘pump and dump’ schemes or making your own job more difficult to manage, I’m sensing they are rising to the surface again. I think we have hit another tipping point where to expect a response to attempt to slow down the growth and valuation of crytpocurrencies should be expected.

Something that has risen almost a ‘ten-bagger’ in less than a year is bound to attract attention. Bitcoin rebounded strongly after the China crackdown, so this fear might be over-rated, but a more organized government or central bank crackdown shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The bigger question, in my mind, is whether Bitcoin can withstand that – but that is a question for another day. I am torn, because my thesis of ‘ease of adoption’ seems to be playing out and in general it is a long way from being fully played out, which by itself is supportive of greater price appreciation. But, at the moment, my concerns are winning out and I’d be taking some chips, or bits, as the case may be, off the table.

Read more …

Russigate spreads its wings. But what if Russiagate is the real fake news?

Italy’s 5-Star, Stung By Fake News Claims, Wants OSCE Election Monitors (R.)

Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement wants international observers to monitor next year’s national election campaign to help ward off “fake news”, party leader Luigi Di Maio said on Sunday. His comments came after the ruling Democratic Party (PD) accused 5-Star supporters of using interlinked internet accounts to spread misinformation and smear the center-left government. Di Maio, who was elected 5-Star leader in September, said his party was often misrepresented by the traditional media and said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should oversee the forthcoming election. “The problem of fake news exists and we think it is necessary to have the OSCE monitor news and political debate during the election campaign,” Di Maio said on Facebook.

Such a request is unlikely to gain traction with 5-Star’s opponents, who allege that the maverick group is to blame for some of the most egregious smear campaigns. Last week unofficial Facebook accounts that back 5-Star published a photograph purportedly showing a close ally of PD leader Matteo Renzi attending the funeral of Mafia boss Salvatore Riina. In fact it was a photo taken in 2016 at the funeral of a murdered migrant. “Di Maio says he wants to call up OSCE monitors. Why doesn’t he call up U.N. peacekeepers and the Red Cross, and while he is at it, why not telephone (his associates) who are continuing to post this filth,” Renzi told a conference on Sunday. The sharing of false or misleading headlines and mass postings by automated social media “bots” has become a global issue, with accusations that Russia tried to influence votes in the United States and France. Moscow has denied this.

Some PD leaders called this weekend for legislation ahead of the elections, which are due by May, to crack down on the spread of false news. Renzi ruled that out on Sunday, but said his party would release twice-monthly reports on web abuses. “We do not want to shut down any website, but we want accountability,” Renzi said. The 5-Star party complains that it is unfairly treated by mainstream media, saying state broadcaster RAI is under the sway of the government, while the largest private media group is controlled by the family of former center-right prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Italy’s leading newspapers, which are owned by large industrial concerns, have also been highly critical of 5-Star, which has promised a campaign against corruption and is seen as unfriendly to big business.

Latest polls show 5-Star has built a stable lead over other parties, with support of around 28% against 24% for the PD and 15% for Forza Italia. A new electoral law which encourages coalition building ahead of the vote, means Berlusconi’s center-right bloc should emerge as the single largest political force, albeit without a clear parliamentary majority.

Read more …

Or the problem is that nobody wants to understand this.

The Problem Isn’t Populism: the Problem Is the Status Quo Has Failed (CHS)

The corporate/billionaires’ media would have us believe that the crisis we face is populism, a code word for every ugly manifestation of fascism known to humanity. By invoking populism as the cause of our distemper, the mainstream media is implicitly suggesting that the problem is “bad people” -those whose own failings manifest in an attraction to fascism. If we can successfully marginalize these troubled troglodytes, then our problem, populism, would go away and the wonderfulness, equality and widespread prosperity of pre-populist America will be restored. The problem isn’t populism -the problem is the status quo has failed 95% of the populace.

Life isn’t wonderful, prosperous and filled with expansive equality except in the Protected Elite of the top 5% of technocrats, corporate executives, tenured academics, bureaucrats, financiers, bankers, lobbyists and wealthy (or soon to be wealthy) politicos. The bottom 95% need a time machine to recover any semblance of prosperity. They need a time machine that goes back 20 years so they can buy a little bungalow on a postage-stamp lot for $150,000 on the Left and Right Coasts, because now the little bungalows cost $1 million and up. Housing valuations have become so detached from what people earn that even the top 5% has trouble qualifying for a jumbo mortgage without the help of the Bank of Mom and Dad or the family trust fund. The bottom 95% need a time machine to return to the days when college tuition and fees were semi-affordable–say, 30 years ago.

The bottom 95% also need a time machine to return to a time when they could afford healthcare insurance without government subsidies–a generation ago, or better yet, two generations ago. In an age where phantom wealth sprouts like poisoned mushrooms from speculative bubbles, the bottom 95% need a time machine that goes back 8 years so they buy the S&P 500 at 670, or better yet, buy bitcoin for $1 or $10, just to make up the loss in the purchasing power of their wages. Populism is the dismissive propaganda term that the media uses to distract us from the real cause of our problems: the total failure of the status quo, the corrupt, predatory, exploitive, inefficient, rentier pay-to-play-“democracy” cartel-state hierarchy that has failed the bottom 95%.

Read more …

Boomerang. Right back at you.

Britain Must Accept High Immigration Or Forget Trade Deal With India (BI)

Britain will struggle to sign new free trade deals with economic powerhouses like India after Brexit unless it is willing to accept high levels of immigration from these countries into Britain. That’s according to Lord Bilimoria, co-founder of Cobra beer, and one of Britain’s most well-known entrepreneurs. Bilimoria spoke to Business Insider on Friday following International Trade Secretary Liam Fox’s claim that his efforts to make Britain a great trading nation are being undermined by the unwillingness of British businesses to export. The Indian-born British businessman described Fox as “utterly unfit” to serve as International Trade Secretary and claimed that nobody “across the board” in British business “has any respect” for the Conservative minister. “Nobody takes him seriously. That’s a fact,” Bilimoria told BI.

Bilimoria then described what he felt was a contradiction at the heart of the case for Brexit, in that Britain will not be able to significantly reduce inward migration — as many have Brexiteers promised — if it wants any hope of ambitious and wide-ranging free trade deals with countries like India. “What trade deals has he [Fox] actually done?” the life peer said. “The Indian high commissioner has warned that an agreement [between Britain and India] might not be in place until 2030 — and said talks haven’t even begun. “He said India will want the movement of professionals; the movement of doctors, the movement of engineers. He said both sides will benefit from this exchange. It won’t be a one-way street.”

Read more …

Excellent expansive overview of the past 100 years.

Why There Is No Peace On Earth (Stockman)

After the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and the death of the Soviet Union was confirmed two years later when Boris Yeltsin courageously stood down the red army tanks in front of Moscow’s White House, a dark era in human history came to an end. The world had descended into what had been a 77-year global war, incepting with the mobilization of the armies of old Europe in August 1914. If you want to count bodies, 150 million were killed by all the depredations which germinated in the Great War, its foolish aftermath at Versailles, and the march of history into the world war and cold war which followed inexorably thereupon. To wit, upwards of 8% of the human race was wiped-out during that span.

The toll encompassed the madness of trench warfare during 1914-1918; the murderous regimes of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism that rose from the ashes of the Great War and Versailles; and then the carnage of WWII and all the lesser (unnecessary) wars and invasions of the Cold War including Korea and Vietnam. [..] The end of the cold war meant world peace was finally at hand, yet 26 years later there is still no peace because Imperial Washington confounds it. In fact, the War Party entrenched in the nation’s capital is dedicated to economic interests and ideological perversions that guarantee perpetual war; they ensure endless waste on armaments and the inestimable death and human suffering that stems from 21st century high tech warfare and the terrorist blowback it inherently generates among those upon which the War Party inflicts its violent hegemony.

In short, there was a virulent threat to peace still lurking on the Potomac after the 77-year war ended. The great general and president, Dwight Eisenhower, had called it the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address, but that memorable phrase had been abbreviated by his speechwriters, who deleted the word “congressional” in a gesture of comity to the legislative branch. So restore Ike’s deleted reference to the pork barrels and Sunday afternoon warriors of Capitol Hill and toss in the legions of beltway busybodies that constituted the civilian branches of the cold war armada (CIA, State, AID etc.) and the circle would have been complete. It constituted the most awesome machine of warfare and imperial hegemony since the Roman legions bestrode most of the civilized world. In a word, the real threat to peace circa 1991 was that Pax Americana would not go away quietly in the night.

Read more …

What’s happening to us? Manus, Greece, let alone Yemen, Myanmar, Syria, where are we heading?

Australia’s Final Solution (Connelly)

Over the weekend, 620 refugees were forcibly removed from the now decommissioned prison on Manus Island, following a ruling in October that their incarceration was unconstitutional. Under instruction from Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, prisoners were beaten with steel bars by Papua New Guinea’s paramilitary guards, starved of food, water, and electricity. They are forbidden access to doctors, nurses, social workers, urgently needed medication, and legal representation. Water supplies were deliberately destroyed. Makeshift wells were poisoned. The Australian government claims the prisoners were relocated to new facilities in nearby town, Lorengau, however those at the site say the facilities are both still under construction and at excess capacity. Prisoners forced onto buses were turned away at the gates, left sitting out in the heat for hours with no word on when they would be allowed to enter their new makeshift prisons.

[..] Australia, the ‘innovation nation’, the country of the fair go, could not possibly entertain a system of incarceration whose cruelty wasn’t entirely by design. So anchored are they to the lie that they ‘stopped the boats’, they will let more than 620 refugees fleeing civil war and religious persecution die from starvation, malnutrition, heart-problems and disease than find them a permanent home, lest they appear soft on national security. (FYI, they haven’t stopped the boats. The government has simply stopped reporting on their arrival. I have been told by members of the defence force who work on refugee ‘intercept vessels’ of mothers whose children had died in their arms, being sent back out to sea to drift aimlessly towards… anywhere but here. The boats haven’t stopped).

New Zealand’s Labour government has already volunteered to resettle the prisoners on both Manus and Nauru but their offers have been met with vitriol, scorn and diplomatic threats. Taking responsibility for a mess of its own making is a response too compassionate for this government. It needs to be barbaric. That’s the point of deterrence. If the barbarism isn’t obviously, outrageously cruel, then the system has failed. This is Australia’s final solution: ‘Deterrence’. Robbed of even the right to their own name, the refugees languishing in detention on Manus Island were literally issued numbers that would become their formal identity and how they are referred to by the prison guards (who incidentally have a long and “well-documented history of rapes, sexual assaults, physical abuse, murders and other serious human rights abuses”, according to a report from The Age).

Read more …

We’re picking off species one by one. We no longer respect life itself. Who are the gods we’re praying to, and why would they listen?

Fears For World’s Rarest Penguin As Population Plummets (G.)

Almost half the breeding population of the world’s most endangered penguin species, the yellow-eyed penguin, has disappeared in one part of New Zealand and conservation groups believe commercial fishing is to blame. The yellow-eyed penguin is endemic to New Zealand’s South Island and sub-Antarctic islands, where there are just 1,600 to 1,800 left in the wild, down from nearly 7,000 in 2000. During a recent survey of the island sanctuary of Whenua Hou (Codfish Island), department of conservation staff made the alarming discovery that close to half the island’s breeding population of penguins had vanished. Elsewhere in New Zealand the bird’s population is at its lowest level in 27 years. Forest & Bird’s chief executive Kevin Hague said because the island was predator-free the evidence pointed to the animals being caught and drowned in the nets of commercial fishing trawlers.

Only 3% of commercial trawlers have independent observers on them to report bycatch deaths. “Unlike previous years where disease and high temperatures caused deaths on land, this year birds have disappeared at sea,” said Hague. “There is an active set net fishery within the penguins’ Whenua Hou foraging ground, and the indications are that nearly half the Whenua Hou hoiho population has been drowned in one or more of these nets.” Last year 24 nests were recorded on Whenua Hou, but this year rangers only found 14. Penguin numbers are declining in other parts of the South Island as well, and researchers fear the beloved bird, which appears on the New Zealand $5 note, is heading ever closer to extinction. University of Otago’s Thomas Mattern, a penguin expert, told the Otago Daily Times he believed time was running out for the birds. “Quite frankly, the yellow-eyed penguins, in my professional opinion, are on their way out,” Mattern said.

Read more …

Sep 212017
 
 September 21, 2017  Posted by at 8:57 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Jacqueline in Turkish costume 1955

 

Yellen Brushes Aside Inflation ‘Mystery’ While Fed Eyes Rate Hike (BBG)
Federal Reserve Will Continue Cutting Economic Life Support (Smith)
What Shiller Says Is Preventing A 1929-Like Stock Market Crash (CNBC)
Stock Market Bubbles in Perspective (Ma)
We’re Officially In The 2nd-Largest Bull Market Since World War II (BI)
Who’s Pulling The Strings? (Ren.)
144 Years Ago A Panic Shut Down The Stock Market For The First Time (Cashin)
China’s Dangerous House Price Boom Is Spreading (BBG)
Japan’s “Deflationary Mindset” Grows (ZH)
Greece Considers Bond Swap As It Looks To Bailout Exit (R.)
Abbas Says Trump May Have Mideast ‘On the Verge’ of Peace Deal
4-6 Months To Restore Puerto Rico Electricity After Hurricane Maria (NBC)
Global Mass Extinction Set To Begin By 2100 (Ind.)

 

 

Inflation is arguably the Fed’s no. 1 concern left. Yellen admits they don’t know what it is or does, though. Still, decisions concerning billions and trillions are taken. No direction home.

Yellen Brushes Aside Inflation ‘Mystery’ While Fed Eyes Rate Hike (BBG)

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen acknowledged that the fall in inflation this year was a bit of a “mystery” but suggested that the central bank was on course to raise interest rates again in 2017 nonetheless. She told reporters on Wednesday that the economy was robust enough to withstand further rate increases and an imminent reduction in the Fed’s $4.5 trillion balance sheet, as it exits from a crisis-era policy a decade after the onset of the Great Recession.“We continue to expect that the ongoing strength of the economy will warrant gradual increases” in rates, she told a press conference after the Federal Open Market Committee announced that it will slowly begin to pare its bond holdings next month. As expected, the target range for the federal funds rate was held at 1% to 1.25%. The central bank’s intention to press ahead with another rate hike this year and three more in 2018 caught investors by surprise, sending bond yields and the dollar higher.

The strategy represents a bit of a gamble because it risks cementing inflation permanently below the Fed’s 2% target. As measured by the personal consumption expenditures price index, inflation has ebbed this year even as the economy and the labor market have continued to improve. After briefly poking above 2% earlier this year, it fell to 1.4% in June and July. “I will not say that the committee clearly understands what the causes are of that,” Yellen, 71, said. While transitory forces such as a one-time cut in mobile-phone service charges were part of the story, they did not fully explain the shortfall, she said. The Fed chief though argued that the ongoing strength of the economy and the labor market would ultimately help lift inflation, while she kept open the possibility the central bank would alter course if that proved not to be the case.

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The Fed doesn’t serve the people. Never forget.

Federal Reserve Will Continue Cutting Economic Life Support (Smith)

First, let’s be clear, historically the Fed’s predictable behavior has been to skip major policy actions in September and then startle markets with renewed and aggressive actions in December. People placing bets on a Fed rate hike in September would look at this pattern and say “no way.” However, the narrative I see building in Fed rhetoric and in the mainstream media is that stock markets have become “unruly children” and that the Fed must become a “stern parent,” reigning them in before they are crushed under the weight of their own naive enthusiasm. In my view, the Fed will continue to do what it says it is going to do — raise interest rates and reduce and remove stimulus, and that the mainstream narrative will soon be adjusted to suggest that this is “necessary;” that stock markets need a bit of tough love.

If the Fed means to follow through with its stated plans for “financial stability” in markets, then the only measure that would be effective in shell-shocking stocks back to reality would be a surprise hike, a surprise announcement of balance sheet reduction or both at the same time If the Fed intends to continue cutting off life support to equities and bonds in preparation for a controlled demolition of the U.S. economy, then there is a high probability at the very least of a balance sheet reduction announcement this week with strong language indicating another rate hike in December. I also would not completely rule out a surprise rate hike even though September is usually a no-action month for central banks. This would fit the trend of central banks around the globe strategically distancing themselves from artificial support for the financial structure.

Last week, the Bank of England surprised investors with an open indication that they may begin raising interest rates “in the coming months.” The Bank Of Canada surprised some economists with yet another rate hike this month and mentions of “more to come.” The European Central Bank has paved the way for a tapering of stimulus measures according to comments made during its latest meeting early this month. And, the Bank of Japan initiated taper measures in July. Even Forbes is admitting that there appears to be a “coordinated tightening of monetary policy” coming far sooner than the mainstream expects. If you understand how the Bank for International Settlements controls policy initiatives of national central bank members, then you should not be surprised that central banks all over the world are pursuing the same actions and the same rhetoric. The only difference between any of them is the pace they have chosen in taking the punch bowl away from the party.

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Psychology and obesity. Gee, thanks Bob! Feel much more confident now.

What Shiller Says Is Preventing A 1929-Like Stock Market Crash (CNBC)

It’s a comparison no one wants to hear — that this stock market bears striking similarities to that of 1929. The observation is coming from Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller, who’s been arguing valuations are extremely expensive. But instead of predicting an epic stock market crash, he’s finding reasons to be optimistic. “The market is about as highly priced as it was in 1929,” said Shiller on Tuesday’s “Trading Nation.” “In 1929 from the peak to the bottom, it was 80% down. And the market really wasn’t much higher than it is now in terms of my CAPE [cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings] ratio. So, you give pause when you notice that.” In his first interview since penning an op-ed on Sept. 15 in The New York Times, the Yale University economics professor reiterated to CNBC that there’s one vital characteristic protecting investors from losing their nest eggs: Market psychology.

“It’s not just a matter of low interest rates, it’s something about the American atmosphere. It’s partly the Trump atmosphere. Investors love this. I can’t exactly explain – maybe it has something to do with prospective tax cuts. But I don’t think it’s just that. It’s something deeper, and it’s pushing the American market up,” he added. Unlike 1929, Shiller points out there’s not much talk about people borrowing exorbitant amounts of money to buy stocks. Plus, he notes there’s now more regulation. But don’t mistake the Yale University economics professor for a bull. “I don’t want to encourage people too much to put a lot into the most expensive market in the world,” said Shiller. “The U.S. has the highest CAPE ratio of 26 countries. We are number one.”

[..] Shiller may see red flags, but he isn’t ruling out a market that continues to churn out fresh records for months, if not years. “I wouldn’t call it healthy, I’d call it obese. But you know, some of these obese people live to be 100 years, so you never know,” said Shiller.

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Still feeling good, Shiller?

Stock Market Bubbles in Perspective (Ma)

A better type of average would be the median. It literally represents the middle of a sequence of ranked numbers. In most cases, it is not influenced by outliers. By using median (instead of mean) earnings, I refer to this valuation approach as the CAPME ratio. It currently shows the S&P Composite is not the second or third most expensive stock market cycle. This finding supports those who criticize the traditional CAPE ratio of overstating the valuation of the S&P Composite Index. The problem for critics though is using the CAPME ratio still shows the U.S. stock market is very expensive right now. In fact, it is the fourth most expensive, behind the stock market cycle that occurred during the Subprime Mortgage Bubble. Based on the data Professor Shiller uses, you can see this in the graph below that looks back 135 years.

You will notice in the graph above that the past 5 stock market bubbles were all valued at one point at more than 20-times median, annual, inflation-adjusted earnings. The valuation range of those peaks is wide though given the Tech Bubble was valued at more than 40-times at its peak. This makes the Tech Bubble potentially an outlier. Furthermore, all 5 stock market bubbles did not last long. They were fleeting. To put this all into perspective, consider these valuations by their percentile ranks. You can see this from the orange lines in the graph below. [It] shows the aforementioned 5 stock market cycles turned into bubbles when their CAPME valuation ratios reached a very high level of roughly the 90th percentile (red dotted line). In other words, these bubbles formed when their valuations were near or at the most expensive decile.

Investors beware: the valuation of the S&P Composite Index is currently ranked at the 94th percentile. This puts the U.S. stock market smack-dab at the heart of bubble territory. It has been argued lots that the high stock market valuation is justified by low interest rates. This argument does not work for me. Let me tell you why. Yields on 10-year U.S. treasury bonds in early-1941 were lower than they are now. Despite lower interest rates in early-1941, the stock market CAPME valuation ratio was quite low at that time ranking at around the 30th percentile. Furthermore, the amount of debt provided by stock brokers used to fuel the current stock market cycle is at a record level. This could prove problematic given bubbles driven by financial leverage are particularly dangerous.

The aforementioned 5 stock market cycles turned into bubbles when their CAPME valuation ratios reached the 90th percentile. The U.S. stock market is back there again. Its valuation is squarely in the middle of that very expensive decile looking back 135 years. The 5 previous instances of stock market bubbles suggest this will not end well. Bubbles never do, particularly ones driven by financial leverage.

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Whcih goes to show how easily markets are manipulated.

We’re Officially In The 2nd-Largest Bull Market Since World War II (BI)

We’re officially in the second-largest bull market since World War II. A week ago Monday, the S&P 500 index’s bull market became the second-best performing in the modern economic era. Stocks have climbed by about 270% from their March 2009 low over the past eight years, according to data from LPL Financial. Today’s bull market has eclipsed the 267% gain seen from June 1949 to August 1956. But the bull market from October 1990 to March 2000 remains in the top spot. “The logical question we continue to receive is: how much further can it go? We have an old bull market and an old expansion. When will the music stop?” Ryan Detrick, the senior market strategist for LPL Financial, wrote in commentary. “The current bull market is officially 101 months old, which might sound old (and it is), but remember that bull markets don’t die of old age, they die of excesses.”

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“The central bankers of the world have dumped $30 trillion into the global economy over the last eight years and we’ve got 2% growth and change..”

Who’s Pulling The Strings? (Ren.)

Feierstein cited the Resolution Trust debacle as an example of what should have happened. The Trust was declared insolvent as a consequence of the 1980s Savings and Loans Crisis and up to 300 bankers were jailed. “This is what should have happened this time around, instead of taking hundreds of trillions of dollars taxpayer’s money and placing the taxpayer at incredible peril and just added liquidity to the markets,” he said. “Giving more money to an insolvent institution is not the solution. You cannot pay your way out of debt with borrowed money. It’s not going to cure the underlying problem of insolvency.” This is why Feierstein refers to the entire global economy as a Ponzi scheme. “The amount of debt in the global financial system is a Ponzi scheme because the United States government has over $240 trillion in debt which is more than three times global GDP.

That’s the sum of all goods and services produced with zero consumption for three years. We’ll never pay out the debt that’s owed.” Feierstein says the government has tried to replace consumer demand with debt and printed money and consumers haven’t come back into the market. “That’s why we’ve got a huge government that thinks they can control everything and price action manipulating volatility to unrealistically low levels,” he said. “They think the consumer will eventually come back but they won’t because the jobs have disappeared and the unemployment rate which we’ve spoken about before is a lie. It’s not 4.3%, it’s closer to 20% because you’ve got people who aren’t participating in the workforce. And that’s probably over 100 million people in America.” Financial times journalist, Rana Foroohar says consumers are all tapped out.

“Credit is what we do to sort of keep middle class voters happy,” she said. “We’re tapped out.” The good news and the bad news is that when the next financial crisis comes the US government will not have as much firepower to throw at it. “The central bankers of the world have dumped $30 trillion into the global economy over the last eight years and we’ve got 2% growth and change,” she said. “It’s pathetic.” Feierstein said it is important to highlight how derivative products have contributed massively to this problem. “When I say there is too much leverage, basically derivative products allows financial institutions and investors to create 100 to 1 leverage. You put up $1 to control $100, or $500 dollars in assets. Think about that on a big scale. If you take $1 million you can control something worth $100 million, or even $500 million depending upon how you gear the leverage ratio.

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Art Cashin tells a story.

144 Years Ago A Panic Shut Down The Stock Market For The First Time (Cashin)

“[O]n Saturday, September 20, 1873, for the first time in its history, the NYSE closed in response to a panic. (The word circuit breaker had not been invented yet….er…..neither had circuits.) A week or more before, one of the most renowned firms in American finance and especially U.S. Treasury auctions came under a cloud of suspicion. The firm was Jay Cooke & Company. And, on most continents, it was seen as a key player. After all, its aggressive style had made it the key underwriter for the billions of Treasury bonds issued during and after the Civil War. (Contemporary competitors had shied back fearing that deficit spending had gotten out of control.) Anyway, the concern about in this key brokerage firm only confused the market at first. But as this day approached, there were hints that the problems would spread to other brokers. On the 18th, liquidation of equities showed up at the ‘first call.’

For most of its first century of existence, the NYSE was a ‘call market.’ The chairman, or other senior officer, would call out the name of one of the listed issues. Brokers who had an interest in that ‘issue’ would arise from their ‘seats’ and begin to bargain with any other brokers arisen from their ‘seats’. When transactions ended in that issue (assuming they were not all buyers), brokers returned to their ‘seats’ and the chairman called the next issue on the roll. When the last issue was called, the session officially ended. There were two sessions each day. […] So, here they were. Rumors surfaced that, perhaps some other brokers were involved and the first call on the 18th turned soft. The second call turned soggy. Prices were down and with no on-going after market; all you could do (as the banks did) is await the next call.

The morning call on the 19th was messy and the afternoon call was just a disaster. Outside, in a heavy rain, crowds gathered on Wall Street to withdraw securities and money from brokers. By the morning of the 20th anyone who was in the phone book (if there had been one at the time) was rumored to have been impacted by the problem. So, naturally the morning call on Saturday the 20th was a disaster. So much so that the Exchange opted to close until the crisis calmed (skipping the P.M. call). Close they did and for a lot more than one ‘call.’ But, but perhaps because banks and investors naturally needed some means of evaluating holdings, they reopened about ten days later. However, the rumors would not go away and liquidations and defaults continued. The history books call it the Panic of 1873. And, it put the American economy in a tailspin for years. (Nearly 10,000 businesses failed.)”

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Until recently, Chinese hardly borrowed at all. Now, debt is the only way to keep up.

China’s Dangerous House Price Boom Is Spreading (BBG)

Hefty mortgages have pushed up Chinese household debt, reducing their room for maneuver should income growth stall, according to recent research by Gene Ma, chief China economist at the Institute of International Finance in Washington. In general, it’s debt that’s the warning sign. As developers and households become more leveraged, the risk is that a price downturn doesn’t remain contained within the property market. “The high leverage will amplify the damage to the economy if a property bust happens,” said Bloomberg Intelligence economist Fielding Chen. “The shock wave will be passed onto the entire financial system, and losses will be greater,” he said. Once home prices tumble, about 40% of Chinese banks will be hit hard, according to a recent research note from Ping An Securities.

Analysts have argued that the debt load in the Chinese property market is far from a carbon copy of the situation in Japan’s bubble era before its bust in the 1990s, nor is it similar to the sub-prime crisis in the U.S. a decade ago. With down payment requirements of at least 20% for first purchases and as much as 70% for second homes, China’s household mortgages still stand at relatively safe levels, said Wang Qiufeng, an analyst at China Chengxin International in Beijing. Ping An Securities also argues that the odds of a property crash happening in the near term are very small. But as household debt-to-income ratios have risen almost to levels seen in advanced economies, the potential impact on the economy of a popping bubble would be considerable.

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Abenomics is (was) an attempt to force people into spending. That scares them into not spending. It doesn’t come any simpler.

Japan’s “Deflationary Mindset” Grows (ZH)

After being force-fed more stimulus than John Belushi, and endless rounds of buying any and every asset that dares to expose any cracks in the potemkin village of fiat folly, Japan remains stuck firmly in what Abe feared so many years ago – a “deflationary mindset.” As Bloomberg reports, cash and deposits held by Japanese households rose for 42nd straight quarter at the end of June as the nation’s consumers continued to favor saving over spending. The “deflationary mindset” that the Bank of Japan is battling to overcome was also evident in the money laying idle in corporate coffers, which stayed near an all-time high, according to quarterly flow of funds data released by the BOJ on Wednesday. Still, as Bloomberg optimistically notes, with the economy expanding much faster than its potential growth rate, greater inflationary pressures could be on the way, which may prompt a shift in behavior by consumers and companies… or not!

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Musical chairs.

Greece Considers Bond Swap As It Looks To Bailout Exit (R.)

Greece is considering swapping 20 small bond issues for four or five new ones, government sources said, as it prepares to exit its international bailout and resume normal financing operations. The country has been surviving on rescue funds since 2010 and is anxious to draw a line under its bailout phase next year. The government is considering a swap that would consolidate the secondary market into a few benchmark issues, replacing 20 separate bonds with a face value of around 32 billion euros, said officials familiar with the proposal. “We are planning to proceed with some debt management actions … to improve liquidity and tradeability,” one senior government official said. Officials said the move was still under discussion and did not say when it might happen, adding that bondholders had yet to be sounded out.

The 20 bonds were issued in 2012 in a voluntary scheme whereby private bondholders took a 53.5% haircut on their investments. It was the world’s biggest debt restructuring involving bonds with a total face value of 206 billion euros. Major holders included banks and pensions funds in Greece and abroad. Two years later in 2014, Greece made two forays as part of a plan to regain full bond market access. This time the plan is more modest but would represent a major step toward for bigger debt issues. Greece issued a five-year bond in July, and investors that bought the new bond are already making a profit of about 1.5% since the beginning of the year. Greece’s borrowing costs have fallen sharply this year back to pre-crisis levels, as investors see the prospect further bailouts diminishing as well as signs of economic improvement.

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Wouldn’t that be something.

Abbas Says Trump May Have Mideast ‘On the Verge’ of Peace Deal

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s diplomatic efforts in the Mideast give him confidence that the region is “on the verge” of peace. Abbas said his government has met with U.S. diplomats more than 20 times since Trump took office in January. “If this is an indication of anything, it indicates how serious you are about peace in the Middle East,” Abbas said through a translator at a meeting with the U.S. president during the United Nations General Assembly in New York. “I think we have a pretty good shot, maybe the best shot ever,” Trump said. “I certainly will devote everything within my heart and within my soul to get that deal made.” “Who knows, stranger things have happened,” he added. “No promises, obviously.”

Trump met with Abbas two days after a similar meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where the U.S. president said he was hopeful Israelis and Palestinians would be able to come to a peace agreement during his presidency. The president recently dispatched his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, to the region in a bid to restart peace talks. Kushner was joined by Jason Greenblatt, the president’s envoy for Israeli-Palestinian peace, and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell. The White House is trying to take advantage of a period of relative calm following violent clashes earlier this summer over Israeli security arrangements at the Jerusalem shrine known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, said a senior administration official who requested anonymity to discuss the negotiations.

Trump has said he’s hopeful Kushner can help restart a peace process that has made little headway over the past 25 years. He made addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict an early priority, hosting both Abbas and Netanyahu at the White House during the opening months of his presidency and visiting Israel during his first international trip as president. The last round of U.S.-led talks, a pet project of former Secretary of State John Kerry, broke down three years ago amid mutual recriminations.

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How does a country, state, territory survive without power for half a year?

4-6 Months To Restore Puerto Rico Electricity After Hurricane Maria (NBC)

Hurricane Maria is likely to have “destroyed” Puerto Rico, the island’s emergency director said Wednesday after the monster storm smashed ripped roofs off buildings and flooded homes across the economically strained U.S. territory. Intense flooding was reported across the territory, particularly in San Juan, the capital, where many residential streets looked like rivers. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the entire island shortly after 12:30 a.m. ET. Yennifer Álvarez Jaimes, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s press secretary, told NBC News that all power across the island was knocked out. “Once we’re able to go outside, we’re going to find our island destroyed,” Emergency Management Director Abner Gómez Cortés said at a news briefing. [..] Maria, the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico since 1928, had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph when it made landfall as a Category 4 storm near the town of Yabucoa just after 6 a.m. ET.

But it “appears to have taken quite a hit from the high mountains of the island,” and at 11 p.m. ET, it had weakened significantly to a Category 2 storm, moving away from Puerto Rico with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, the agency said. [..] “Extreme rainfall flooding may prompt numerous evacuations and rescues,” the agency said. “Rivers and tributaries may overwhelmingly overflow their banks in many places with deep moving water.” San Juan San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told MSNBC that the devastation in the capital was unlike any she had ever seen. “The San Juan that we knew yesterday is no longer there,” Yulín said, adding: “We’re looking at four to six months without electricity” in Puerto Rico, home to nearly 3.5 million people. “I’m just concerned that we may not get to everybody in time, and that is a great weight on my shoulders,” she said.

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Nice math, but many questions.

Global Mass Extinction Set To Begin By 2100 (Ind.)

Planet Earth appears to be on course for the start of a sixth mass extinction of life by about 2100 because of the amount of carbon being pumped into the atmosphere, according to a mathematical study of the five previous events in the last 540 million years. Professor Daniel Rothman, co-director of MIT’s Lorenz Centre, theorised that disturbances in the natural cycle of carbon through the atmosphere, oceans, plant and animal life played a role in mass die-offs of animals and plants. So he studied 31 times when there had been such changes and found four out of the five previous mass extinctions took place when the disruption crossed a “threshold of catastrophic change”. The worst mass extinction of all – the so-called Great Dying some 248 million years ago when 96 per cent of species died out – breached one of these thresholds by the greatest margin.

Based on his analysis of these mass extinctions, Professor Rothman developed a mathematical formula to help predict how much extra carbon could be added to the oceans – which absorb vast amounts from the atmosphere – before triggering a sixth one. The answer was alarming. For the figure of 310 gigatons is just 10 gigatons above the figure expected to be emitted by 2100 under the best-case scenario forecast by the IPCC. The worst-case scenario would result in more than 500 gigatons. Some scientists argue that the sixth mass extinction has already effectively begun. While the total number of species that have disappeared from the planet comes nowhere near the most apocalyptic events of the past, the rate of species loss is comparable. Professor Rothman stressed that mass extinctions did not necessarily involve dramatic changes to the carbon cycle – as shown by the absence of this during the Late Devonian extinction more than 360 million years ago.

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Jan 072017
 
 January 7, 2017  Posted by at 10:28 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Arthur Rothstein Highway marker in Polk County, Florida 1937

Here Is The US Intel Report Accusing Putin Of Helping Trump Win (ZH)
A Case Study in the Creation of False News (Paul Craig Roberts)
Obama Set For Pardon Frenzy As He Leaves Office (AFP)
Worst. Recovery. Ever. (ZH)
How Many Bombs Did the United States Drop in 2016? (CFR)
Le Pen Says Brexit Isn’t a Disaster and France Should Be Next (BBG)
Economics Is Driven By Ideology, Not Science (Pettifor)
The Labor Market: The End Of The Innocence? (DiMartino Booth)
Canadian Woman Arrested In Turkey For Saying Erdogan Jails Journalists (CBC)
Giant Iceberg Poised To Break Off From Larsen C Antarctic Shelf (G.)

 

 

I’m so tired of this. No, ‘trust us’ is not good enough anymore. That is why Trump won, because it’s no longer enough to say ‘because we say so’. People don’t trust CIA et al. And you can’t turn that back on its head and demand trust now. You lost! I get so frustrated they even locked up my Facebook account again. There’s always people who want to complain about those who don’t toe lines.

Here Is The US Intel Report Accusing Putin Of Helping Trump Win (ZH)

The farce is complete. One week after a joint FBI/DHS report was released, supposedly meant to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia intervened in the US presidential election, and thus served as a diplomatic basis for Obama’s expulsion of 35 diplomats, yet which merely confirmed that a Ukrainian piece of malware which could be purchased by anyone, was responsible for spoofing various email accounts including that of the DNC and John Podesta, moments ago US intelligence agencies released a more “authoritative”, 25-page report, titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”, and which not surprisingly only serves to validate the media narrative, by concluding that Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘ordered’ an effort to influence U.S. presidential election.

Specifically, the report concludes the following: “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.” What proof is there? Sadly, again, none. However, as the intelligence agencies state, “We have high confidence in these judgments”… just like they had high confidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And while the report is severely lacking in any evidence, it is rich in judgments, such as the following:

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments. “We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment.”

At this point a quick detour, because the intel agencies responsible for drafting the report then explain how “confident” they are: “CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.” What do these distinctions mean? High confidence generally indicates judgments based on high-quality information, and/or the nature of the issue makes it possible to render a solid judgment. However, high confidence judgments still carry a risk of being wrong. Moderate confidence generally means credibly sourced and plausible information, but not of sufficient quality or corroboration to warrant a higher level of confidence. In other words, while not carrying the infamous DHS disclaimer according to which last week’s entire joint FBI/DHS report is likely garbage, the US intel agencies admit they may well be “wrong.”

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“Trump is supposed to side with the CIA which is trying to destroy him.”

A Case Study in the Creation of False News (Paul Craig Roberts)

For many weeks we have witnessed the extraordinary attack by the CIA and its assets in Congress and the media on Donald Trump’s election. In an unprecedented effort to delegitimize Trump’s election as the product of Russian interference in the election, the CIA, media, senators and representatives have consistently made wild accusations for which they have no evidence. The CIA’s message to Trump is clear: Get in line with our agenda, or we are going to mess you over. It is clear that the CIA is warring against Trump. But the CIA’s media assets have turned the facts on their head and are blaming Trump for having a negative view of the CIA. Consider the January 4 Wall Street Journal article by Damian Paletta and Julian E. Barnes, which begins: “President-elect Donald Trump, a harsh critic of U.S. intelligence agencies . . .”

The two presstitutes set up their false news story by putting the shoe on the other foot. It is Trump who is the harsh critic rather than the victim of the CIA’s harsh accusations. Set up this way, the story continues: “White House officials have been increasingly frustrated by Mr. Trump’s confrontations with intelligence officials. ‘It’s appalling,” the official said. “No president has ever taken on the CIA and come out looking good.’” Now that the story is Trump taking on the CIA and not the CIA taking on Trump, the case can be built against Trump: Analysts accustomed to more cohesion with the White House are “jarred” by Trump’s skepticism of the CIA’s assessment that Putin got him elected. Trump is supposed to respond to the allegation by saying: I am not legitimate. Here take back the presidency.

WikiLeaks’ Assange has stated unequivocally that there was no hack. The information came to WikiLeaks as a leak, which suggests that it came from inside the Democratic National Committee. That Trump sees it this way means, according to one unidentified official that “It’s pretty horrifying to me that he’s siding with Assange over the intelligence agencies.” You see, Trump is supposed to side with the CIA which is trying to destroy him. Has the CIA shot itself in both feet? How can the agency control policy by manipulating the information fed to the President when the President does not trust the agency?

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Leonard Peltier has been in jail for 40 years for a set-up. Forget about Snowden and Chelsea. Not going to happen.

Obama Set For Pardon Frenzy As He Leaves Office (AFP)

A Rastafarian prophet, a former Taliban captive and thousands of minor drug traffickers have one thing in common: Their names have been submitted to President Barack Obama for clemency before he leaves office in two weeks. Some US presidents have used this regal power of leniency in a pointed way near the end of their term in office. On the last day of his term in 2001, Democratic president Bill Clinton granted pardon in a highly controversial move to late fugitive trader Marc Rich, whose ex-wife had been a major donor to Democrats. Sixteen years later, Obama is fielding pressure from all sides to grant unlikely pardons or commutations of sentences to people whose supporters say have been unjustly sentenced or sought out by the justice system.

Among them is Bowe Bergdahl, a US Army sergeant held captive for five years by the Taliban before his release in a prisoner swap, who is due to be court-martialed for desertion. Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist convicted for the 1975 deaths of two FBI agents in what his supporters say was a setup, is also hoping to enjoy Obama’s good graces. Then there’s Edward Snowden, who made the shattering revelation in 2013 of a global communications and internet surveillance system set up by the United States. The 33-year-old, a refugee in Russia, is backed by numerous celebrities like actress Susan Sarandon and singer Peter Gabriel, as well as Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union. If Obama fails to pardon Snowden, his supporters say he may face the death penalty under the incoming administration of Republican Donald Trump, who has called him a “terrible traitor.”

In another leak case, Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year sentence in solitary confinement for handing 700,000 sensitive military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, some of them classified. Activists say her sentence is excessive and point to the psychological frailty of the transgender soldier who has already made two suicide attempts. Even though the White House has dismissed a possible pardon for Snowden and Manning, their supporters are still hoping for a final magnanimous gesture from a president about to leave the constraints of his high office on January 20.

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We know.

Worst. Recovery. Ever. (ZH)

As the champagne glasses clink in Washington over a record-breaking streak of job growth on record (as the percent of the population employed slumped), and the fastest wage growth since the start of the recovery (for managers), we just wanted to remind a few blinkered media types that Obama’s “recovery” has officially been the worst recovery in US history (despite adding almost $10 trillion to the national debt)… When ‘fake news’ and ‘peddling fiction’ meet fact… Not quite as rosy an economic handover to Trump as The White House would like everyone to believe.

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Peace, man!

How Many Bombs Did the United States Drop in 2016? (CFR)

As President Obama enters the final weeks of his presidency, there will be ample assessments of his foreign military approach, which has focused on reducing U.S. ground combat troops (with the notable exception of the Afghanistan surge), supporting local security partners, and authorizing the expansive use of air power. Whether this strategy “works”—i.e. reduces the threat posed by extremists operating from those countries and improves overall security and governance on the ground—is highly contested. Yet, for better or worse, these are the central tenets of the Obama doctrine.

In President Obama’s last year in office, the United States dropped 26,171 bombs in seven countries. This estimate is undoubtedly low, considering reliable data is only available for airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and a single “strike,” according to the Pentagon’s definition, can involve multiple bombs or munitions. In 2016, the United States dropped 3,027 more bombs—and in one more country, Libya—than in 2015.

Most (24,287) were dropped in Iraq and Syria. This number is based on the percentage of total coalition airstrikes carried out in 2016 by the United States in Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the counter-Islamic State campaign. The Pentagon publishes a running count of bombs dropped by the United States and its partners, and we found data for 2016 using OIR public strike releases and this handy tool.* Using this data, we found that in 2016, the United States conducted about 79% (5,904) of the coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, which together total 7,473. Of the total 30,743 bombs that the coalition dropped, then, the United States dropped 24,287 (79% of 30,743).

To determine how many U.S. bombs were dropped on each Iraq and Syria, we looked at the percentage of total U.S. OIR airstrikes conducted in each country. They were nearly evenly split, with 49.8% (or 2,941 airstrikes) carried out in Iraq, and 50.2% (or 2,963 airstrikes) in Syria. Therefore, the number of bombs dropped were also nearly the same in the two countries (12,095 in Iraq; 12,192 in Syria). Last year, the United States conducted approximately 67% of airstrikes in Iraq in 2016, and 96% of those in Syria.

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Quick, Carney, cause chaos, or Le Pen will win…

Le Pen Says Brexit Isn’t a Disaster and France Should Be Next (BBG)

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said the U.K. economy is weathering Brexit, giving her confidence to seek an immediate renegotiation of France’s relationship with the European Union if elected. “Brexit has not been a disaster,” Le Pen said at a meeting with English-language reporters in Paris on Friday. “The economic signals are good.” National Front leader Le Pen, who polls suggest will reach the presidential runoff in May, said she would seek talks with France’s EU partners “the day after my election” and put the result to a national referendum. She said the goal is to take back what she called “the four sovereignties”: control of borders, economic policy, money and legislation. France should dump the euro and return to a national currency, though the exchange rate could be linked to some sort of European currency mechanism, Le Pen said.

“I’ll give six months to these talks, and if at the end we have won back our sovereignty, I will tell the French to vote to stay in this Europe of nations and liberty,” she said. “If we don’t, I’ll suggest that they vote to leave.” Polls suggest Le Pen would finish second in the first round of France’s presidential elections on April 23, and lose a May 7 runoff to center-right candidate Francois Fillon. An Elabe poll released Thursday showed independent Emmanuel Macron gaining on Le Pen, taking second place in some hypothetical matchups. Le Pen, whose party received a $8.5 million loan from a Russian bank in 2014, said she doesn’t fear Russian meddling in France’s election. That follows U.S. intelligence findings that Russian officials directed hacking attacks to help elect Trump, whom she said she supports because his anti-globalist views were better for France.

“Every time big corporations, big finance don’t get what they want, they say it’s a conspiracy of the Russians,” she said. “It makes one laugh.” While the U.S. shouldn’t lecture anyone given its history of spying on allies, improved ties between Russia and the U.S. are in France’s interest, especially if they can cooperate on combating Islamic militants, Le Pen said. “I think that Mr. Trump and Putin can repair ties, and I hope so,” she said. “We don’t want to see an increase in tensions between the U.S. and Russia for a very selfish reason: we are in the middle.”

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Should we let economists ‘heal’ their own field, or is it too late for that?

Economics Is Driven By Ideology, Not Science (Pettifor)

As someone who correctly predicted the financial crisis (first in 2003 and later in a 2006 book) I support Andy Haldane’s assertion that the economics profession is “to some degree in crisis”. He is not the first to argue this. The retiring head of the UK Treasury admitted in 2016 that economists failed to spot the build-up of risk before 2007 and were guilty of what he called “a monumental collective intellectual error”. It is a collective intellectual failure that I believe has played a key role in the rise of political populism. The Bank of England’s chief economist was also right to compare the challenges facing economists to the famous “Michael Fish” moment, where everyone was assured that a hurricane wouldn’t hit before it did, bringing with it much devastation, in 1987.

Meteorologists have since transformed their field and improved forecasts. But that is not true of the economics profession. The dominant economic model of financial liberalisation, monetary policy dominance and fiscal austerity remains intact. In their defence, economists can’t be faulted for getting forecasts wrong. Political events such as Brexit are not easy to predict. But unlike economists, meteorologists have a deep understanding of the major forces shaping outcomes in their fields, even when they get precise forecasts wrong. Mainstream economists, by contrast, lack that deep understanding of the economic forces driving outcomes. The reason is not hard to understand. The field of meteorology is not underpinned by policy or by an agenda. Economics, by contrast, is dogged by ideology.

It is ideology, not science, that leads economists to wrongly assert that the market in money is like the market in widgets, and must not be regulated or tampered with by governments. That financial flows across borders must be “free”, regardless of whether they cause instability. That bankers are simply intermediaries between savers and borrowers – and do not create credit out of thin air. That monetary and fiscal policies that serve the finance sector with bailouts are tolerable, while those that serve the poor must be resisted. That the reasoning that informs the micro-economy can be extrapolated to reach conclusions about the macro-economy. In other words, the fallacy that the budgets of households (the micro-economy) can be aggregated and compared to the budgets of governments (the macro-economy).

Unsurprisingly, these flawed theories and models are a great comfort to financial elites – which is why so many economists are hired and funded by big banks, corporations and the wealthy. And it explains why their words and ideas are repeated by the media outlets that faithfully serve the status quo or “the establishment”. Very little has been done to transform the dominant economic model of financial and trade liberalisation or to limit economists’ almost religious belief in the efficiency of markets and hostility to public intervention.

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“Let me take a long last look, before we say goodbye..”

The Labor Market: The End Of The Innocence? (DiMartino Booth)

One of the first of life’s lessons we all learned is that we need not rush life; it will do that for us and in the end against our will. The inspiration for this wisdom could well have sprung from Ecclesiastes wherein we read these peaceful words: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Co-writers Don Henley and Bruce Hornsby embraced the spirit of this message as the 1980’s were coming to a close. You must agree 1989’s The End of the Innocence, that haunting and mournful ballad, was just the coda needed to move on to the last decade of the last century. “Let me take a long last look, before we say goodbye,” the song asks of the listener who can’t help themselves but to listen.

Many veteran investors, those who don’t need to be reminded about the Reagan era because they were there, may be feeling a bit more wistful as they peer over the horizon. They have lived through extraordinary economic times and maybe even recall the early 1970’s, the last time initial jobless claims were at their current historically low levels. They know, in other words, this can’t go on forever, that we are nearing the end of our own innocence. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has been adamant that economic cycles can’t die of old age. At the end of this month, we can proclaim to be living through the third longest expansion in postwar times. The parlor game occupying those on the Street these days entails devising scenarios that can push us into the second, or dare we dream, longest expansion of all.

The Wall Street Journal perfectly captures the infectious optimism, the yearning to keep that dream alive, by asking this in a headline: How Low Can the Unemployment Rate Go? Rather than keep you in suspense, the article’s answer is as follows: “Assuming the economy adds around 200,000 jobs a month in 2017 and the labor-force participation rate stays relatively constant, the unemployment rate would fall to 3.9% by the end of the year, according to a model maintained by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.” If we do get there, a big if, we are sure to be staring down the barrel of appreciably higher interest rates and a flat, if not by then, inverted yield curve. The only precedent is, you guessed it, that which occurred in 2000, when the unemployment rate hit 3.6% as the longest cycle of all time was finally flaming out. Economics 101 teaches one tenet above all – that the unemployment rate is the most lagging within the data universe.

A recent visit with Dr. Gates, that steel-eyed sleuth, corroborated this maxim. “The unemployment rate is the single, most visible economic indicator for households. It’s easy to understand, black and white. Up is bad, down is good,” Gates observed. “If we keep getting downside surprises, it will feed even more consumer optimism. That happens late in the cycle.” What goes hand in hand with these late cycles guideposts? Since you asked, that optimism Gates cites tends to correlate with households overreaching their paychecks, which is exactly what we’re seeing. When adjusted for inflation, credit card borrowing is up 4.5% over last year, a full two percentage points above wage income, which is up 2.5% over the same period. That’s a new high for the current cycle. At 2.9%, inflation-adjusted spending is also running ahead of wage income.

These data are validated by separate data that shows state withholding tax collections are way off last year’s figures. “Vulnerabilities in household demand don’t happen overnight; they take time to rise to the surface,” Gates cautioned. “Households aren’t overstretched yet, but they’re getting there. Just like corporations substitute debt for profits late in the cycle, households also are starting to do just as they ride the wave of Trump optimism. Eventually this will run its course.”

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So is Canada going to stand up to him?

Canadian Woman Arrested In Turkey For Saying Erdogan Jails Journalists (CBC)

A Canadian woman has been arrested in Turkey for allegedly insulting the country’s president in comments posted on Facebook, her Turkish lawyer said Thursday. Ece Heper, 50, was arrested in the city of Kars in northeastern Turkey, and charged on Dec. 30, Sertac Celikkaleli told The Canadian Press. Heper, a dual Canadian-Turkish citizen, had been in the country since mid-November, according to her friends. “She is intense and opinionated, for sure,” Birgitta Pavic said from her Toronto home. “But everything is intense over there right now, especially criticizing the government.” At issue, her friends and lawyer said, are several recent Facebook posts about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In one posted on Dec. 28, Heper accused Erdogan of jailing journalists who suggest there is evidence Turkey is supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIS or ISIL. Global Affairs Canada said they are aware of a Canadian citizen detained in Turkey and are providing consular assistance, but wouldn’t divulge further information, citing privacy laws. Heper has a log home in Norwood, Ont., about 150 kilometres northeast of Toronto, Pavic said, where she lives with five dogs she rescued from Turkey “that are like her children.” Her parents are dead and she is estranged from her brother, Pavic said, so her friends are taking up the cause to help her out.

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We’re just going to watch it happen, ain’t we? That’s all we’re capable of.

Giant Iceberg Poised To Break Off From Larsen C Antarctic Shelf (G.)

A giant iceberg, with an area equivalent to Trinidad and Tobago, is poised to break off from the Antarctic shelf. A thread of just 20km of ice is now preventing the 5,000 sq km mass from floating away, following the sudden expansion last month of a rift that has been steadily growing for more than a decade. The iceberg, which is positioned on the most northern major ice shelf in Antarctica, known as Larsen C, is predicted to be one of the largest 10 break-offs ever recorded. Professor Adrian Luckman, a scientist at Swansea University and leader of the UK’s Midas project, said in a statement: “After a few months of steady, incremental advance since the last event, the rift grew suddenly by a further 18km during the second half of December 2016. Only a final 20km of ice now connects an iceberg one quarter the size of Wales to its parent ice shelf.”

The separation of the iceberg “will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula” and could trigger a wider break-up of the Larsen C ice shelf, he added. “If it doesn’t go in the next few months, I’ll be amazed,” Luckman told BBC News. Ice shelves are vast expanses of ice floating on the sea, several hundred metres thick, at the edge of glaciers. Scientists fear the loss of ice shelves will destabilise the frozen continent’s inland glaciers. And while the splitting off of the iceberg would not contribute to rising sea levels, the loss of glacial ice would. Martin O’Leary, also of Swansea University, said: “It just makes the whole shelf less stable. If it were to collapse there would be nothing holding the glaciers up and they would start to flow quite quickly indeed.”

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Aug 052016
 
 August 5, 2016  Posted by at 9:46 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  1 Response »


G.G. Bain Three-ton electric sign blown into Broadway, New York. 1912

New Tool for Central Banks: Buying Corporate Bonds (WSJ)
UK Interest Rate Cut Is A ‘Hammer Blow’ For Workplace Pensions (G.)
UK Labor Market Enters “Freefall” After Brexit Vote (R.)
China Regulator Tells Banks to Evergreen Loans of Troubled Companies (ET)
For Europe’s Elite the Party Lives On After Brexit (BBG)
Tsipras Eyes Southern EU Alliance To Back Debt Deal (Kath.)
The 60-Year Decay of American Politics (Bacevich)
US Unlikely To Extradite Imam Turkey Blames For Coup (CNBC)
How Europe Is Getting Rich by Fueling Its Own Terror Epidemic (TAM)
War Or Peace: The Essential Question For American Voters On November 8th (RI)

 

 

Maybe we need to remind ourselves from time to time that we do NOT have functioning markets. Central banks buying up corporate bonds is of course about as distorting for markets as it comes.

We will yet take debt to its inevitable conclusion.

New Tool for Central Banks: Buying Corporate Bonds (WSJ)

Central banks have a new favorite tool for boosting lackluster growth: corporate-debt purchases. Two months after the ECB started buying corporate bonds, the Bank of England said Thursday that it would adopt a similar strategy. It will buy as much as £10 billion ($13.33 billion) of U.K. corporate debt starting in September as part of a larger package of stimulus measures, including £60 billion of additional government-bond purchases. The move, investors and analysts say, is likely to drive down borrowing costs even further around the globe for large companies already benefiting from ultralow interest rates.

But the decision again raises concerns about possible side effects of unconventional monetary policies, including excessive risk taking by investors, and faces substantial skepticism from investors who doubt such programs meaningfully address the global economy’s core deficiencies, centering on soft demand for goods and services. Already this year, negative-interest-rate policies and aggressive bond buying by central banks in Japan and Europe have helped create trillions of dollars of negative-yielding government bonds. That in turn has driven down corporate-bond yields, leading to robust debt issuance among companies in the U.S., if not all developed countries.

In the U.S., the average yield of investment-grade corporate bonds was 2.85% Wednesday, compared with 3.67% at the end of 2015, according to Barclays data. The average spread to Treasury yields also has shrunk, to 1.48 percentage points from 1.72. Companies have issued $519.2 billion of investment-grade corporate bonds this year, just below their pace at this time last year when issuance ultimately reached a record $794.6 billion, according to Dealogic.

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Wait till the stock market crashes, that’s when pensions will be hit.

UK Interest Rate Cut Is A ‘Hammer Blow’ For Workplace Pensions (G.)

Pension savers could be big losers from the Bank of England rate cut, as critics warned of a “hammer blow” to workplace schemes and forecast that pension payouts would fall to record lows. Within minutes of the Bank’s decision to cut the base rate to 0.25%, yields on government bonds, otherwise known as gilts, dived to all-time lows. Companies that still offer final salary pension schemes will as a result see the cost of maintaining them soar. Hymans Robertson, a pensions consultancy, said the rate cut meant a £70bn increase in the amount company schemes needed to meet their commitments to scheme members, to a total of £2.4trn. “To put this in context, UK GDP currently stands at £1.8trn. This has pushed the aggregate UK [company scheme] deficit up to £945bn – the worst it has ever been,” it said.

Companies will have to find the money to fill the gap in their pension schemes, or like most already have, close them to new members. In extreme cases, some may attempt to redraw pension contracts to cap their future liabilities. Patrick Bloomfield of Hymans Robertson said: “Pension schemes are being hit hard by recent events, but we need to remember that the impact will not be felt equally by all … There are schemes with robust funding plans that don’t take more risk than they need to, which will be able to weather this. The gap between pension schemes that hedged their risks and those that haven’t is starker than ever before.”

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A forced reset is not necessarily a bad thing.

UK Labor Market Enters “Freefall” After Brexit Vote (R.)

Britain’s labour market entered “freefall” after the vote to leave the European Union, with the number of permanent jobs placed by recruitment firms last month falling at the fastest pace since May 2009, a survey showed on Friday. The monthly report from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) showed starting salaries for permanent jobs rose in July at the slowest pace in more than three years. Overall, the survey added to evidence that business confidence and activity slowed sharply after the June 23 vote to leave the European. “The UK jobs market suffered a dramatic freefall in July, with permanent hiring dropping to levels not seen since the recession of 2009,” said REC chief executive Kevin Green. “Economic turbulence following the vote to leave the EU is undoubtedly the root cause.”

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Different countries have different ways of hiding their debt.

China Regulator Tells Banks to Evergreen Loans of Troubled Companies (ET)

On the surface, China is talking the reform talk. But is it also walking the walk? There are many examples to demonstrate it isn’t. The most recent one is a directive from the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) to not cut off lending to troubled companies and evergreening bad loans. This first reported by The Chinese National Business Daily on Aug. 4. “A Notice About How the Creditor Committees at Banks and Financial Institutes Should Do Their Jobs” tells banks to “act together and not ‘randomly stop giving or pulling loans.’ These institutes should either provide new loans after taking back the old ones or provide a loan extension, to ‘fully help companies to solve their problems,’” the National Business Daily writes.

“It’s big news. A couple of weeks ago they were threatening Liaoning Province to cut off all lending to them if they didn’t tighten loan standards,” said Christopher Balding, a professor of economics at Peking University in Shenzen. “This is a pretty significant turn-around for them to do and it indicates how significant the problem is.” The official reform narrative is espoused in this Xinhua piece which claims China has to reform because there is no Plan B. “Supply-side structural reform is also advancing as the country moves to address issues like industrial overcapacity, a large inventory of unsold homes and unprofitable ‘zombie companies.’” Clearly resolving the bad debt of zombie companies is not high on the priority list.

Goldman Sachs complained in a recent note to clients that companies can default on payments and often nothing happens. The investment bank notes that companies like Sichuan Coal default on payments of interest and principal for weeks or months and then maybe pay creditors later. The company in question defaulted on 1 billion yuan ($150 million) worth of commercial paper in June but made full payments later during the summer, a somewhat arbitrary process. Another case is Dongbei Special Steel, which missed at least five payments on $6 billion of debt since the beginning of the year, but has done nothing to resolve the problem. This is why creditors wrote an angry letter to the local government to help resolve the issue.

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Why the EU can’t be reformed.

For Europe’s Elite the Party Lives On After Brexit (BBG)

Europe’s political elite may have missed the Brexit memo. Six weeks since U.K. voters rebuked the ruling class by choosing to leave the European Union, the region’s establishment has reacted by carrying on as before. The revolving door of former policy makers joining the finance industry has spun again, with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso signing up with Goldman Sachs and former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King joining Citigroup. Meanwhile departed Prime Minister David Cameron is facing criticism for nominating numerous aides for honors, including his wife’s stylist.

The perception of elite coziness risks further disenfranchising those backing Brexit, and peers across the continent who share the feeling of being left behind by the powerful and wealthy in the era of globalization and financial crises. A potential upshot is more support for populist parties that tap into alienation such as the U.K. Independence Party or France’s National Front. “Anything that doesn’t show government or public institutions in a good light merely confirms some of the attitudes that probably contributed to the Brexit vote,” said Chris Roebuck, a visiting professor at London’s Cass Business School. For some voters, “there is a group of people out there who aren’t normal people like you or me, who have benefited since the financial crisis – because they’re an elite.”

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Tsipras already lost the ‘fight’. Beppe Grillo may lead such an alliance, not Tsipras.

Tsipras Eyes Southern EU Alliance To Back Debt Deal (Kath.)

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is planning to forge an alliance with the leaders of other countries in Southeastern Europe in a bid to bolster Greece’s bid for a debt restructuring and lower the primary surplus targets set by creditors. Tsipras is expected to explore the prospects for such an alliance at a meeting of European socialist heads of state scheduled to take place in Paris on August 25, particularly with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and French President Francois Hollande. The meeting had originally been planned for May 20 in Rome but was postponed after an Egyptian passenger plane crashed in the Mediterranean. The Greek premier’s aim, according to sources, is to arrange a subsequent meeting in Athens, probably on September 9, and in any case before a scheduled European Union leaders’ summit on September 16, to further explore the prospect of forming a Southeastern European alliance.

Tsipras and Renzi had agreed at their last meeting on the sidelines of an EU summit on June 28 on the need for southern states to create their own growth-focused agenda, compared to the austerity prescribed by Northern European countries. At the time, Hollande and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa had appeared open to the prospect of such an alliance. In Athens, sources close to Tsipras believe the time is right to pursue the creation of a strong southern “axis” to counter the stance of countries in Northern Europe. The idea of a united front of Southern European countries was first mooted by leftist SYRIZA before the general elections of January 2015 that brought it to power.

At the time, Tsipras thought Athens would attract the solidarity of Southern European countries in SYRIZA’s rhetoric against austerity and that those countries would stand by Greece in its negotiations with international creditors. That solidarity did not transpire then. However, sources close to Tsipras believe the current situation is potentially more beneficial for Athens as the protracted imposition of austerity on Greece and elsewhere has increased the pressure on countries in Southern Europe. Athens is also hopeful about forming a common front on another crucial issue that has divided Southern and Northern European countries: the ongoing refugee crisis. Indications by Turkey that it might not honor a migrant deal with the EU have fueled concerns in Greece that a slowed migrant influx could pick up again.

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Nostalgia. “And don’t kid yourself that things really can’t get much worse. Unless Americans rouse themselves to act, count on it, they will.”

The 60-Year Decay of American Politics (Bacevich)

Presidential campaigns today are themselves, to use Boorstin’s famous term, “pseudo-events” that stretch from months into years. By now, most Americans know better than to take at face value anything candidates say or promise along the way. We’re in on the joke — or at least we think we are. Reinforcing that perception on a daily basis are media outlets that have abandoned mere reporting in favor of enhancing the spectacle of the moment. This is especially true of the cable news networks, where talking heads serve up a snide and cynical complement to the smarmy fakery that is the office-seeker’s stock in trade. And we lap it up. It matters little that we know it’s all staged and contrived, as long as — a preening Megyn Kelly getting under Trump’s skin, Trump himself denouncing “lyin’ Ted” Cruz, etc., etc. — it’s entertaining.

This emphasis on spectacle has drained national politics of whatever substance it still had back when Ike and Adlai commanded the scene. It hardly need be said that Donald Trump has demonstrated an extraordinary knack — a sort of post-modern genius — for turning this phenomenon to his advantage. Yet in her own way Clinton plays the same game. How else to explain a national convention organized around the idea of “reintroducing to the American people” someone who served eight years as First Lady, was elected to the Senate, failed in a previous high-profile run for the presidency, and completed a term as secretary of state? The just-ended conclave in Philadelphia was, like the Republican one that preceded it, a pseudo-event par excellence, the object of the exercise being to fashion a new “image” for the Democratic candidate.

The thicket of unreality that is American politics has now become all-enveloping. The problem is not Trump and Clinton, per se. It’s an identifiable set of arrangements — laws, habits, cultural predispositions — that have evolved over time and promoted the rot that now pervades American politics. As a direct consequence, the very concept of self-government is increasingly a fantasy, even if surprisingly few Americans seem to mind.

At an earlier juncture back in 1956, out of a population of 168 million, we got Ike and Adlai. Today, with almost double the population, we get — well, we get what we’ve got. This does not represent progress. And don’t kid yourself that things really can’t get much worse. Unless Americans rouse themselves to act, count on it, they will.

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Can’t see US handing Gulen over on a platter, but Turkey is not done demanding his head. And many others.

US Unlikely To Extradite Imam Turkey Blames For Coup (CNBC)

U.S. officials weren’t likely to extradite Fethullah Gulen, an imam Turkey blames for plotting the recent failed coup, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the discussion. Those people said the evidence presented so far by Turkey wasn’t convincing and U.S. officials were also concerned about Turkish officials’ threatening public statements, which made the fairness of his potential treatment questionable, the report said. Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, has denied wrongdoing, the report said.

Separately, Reuters reported that Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan pledged on Thursday to cut off revenues from businesses tied to the 75-year-old Gulen, which include schools, firms and charities. Even before the failed coup, authorities in Turkey had seized Islamic lender Bank Asya, closed media businesses and arrested businessmen on accusations of funding the imam’s movement, Reuters reported. The failed coup, which took place on July 15, left more than 230 dead. Since then, more than 60,000 people across various branches of government have been detained, suspended or put under investigation, Reuters reported. That’s spurred concerns Erdogan was cracking down on all dissent.

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“68 flights that took place within 13 months transported weapons and ammunition to the Middle East, including to NATO member Turkey, which in turn “funnelled arms into brutal civil wars in Syria and Yemen.”

How Europe Is Getting Rich by Fueling Its Own Terror Epidemic (TAM)

Though Europe does not have the rates of gun violence the United States continues to grapple with, European governments have made over a billion euros by fueling gun violence in the Middle East and North Africa. A report conducted by a team of reporters from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) found a group of European nations has been funneling arms into the Middle East region since 2012, making at least 1.2 billion euros in the process. According to the report, 68 flights that took place within 13 months transported weapons and ammunition to the Middle East, including to NATO member Turkey, which in turn “funnelled arms into brutal civil wars in Syria and Yemen.”

The report also notes that these flights make up only a small portion of the 1.2 billion euros in arms deals between Europe and the Middle East since 2012. The report’s conclusions are horrifying, to say the least. The report states: “Arms export licenses, which are supposed to guarantee the final destination of the goods, have been granted despite ample evidence that weapons are being diverted to Syrian and other armed groups accused of widespread human rights abuses and atrocities.” Considering Europe is battling a continually rising terrorist threat, they seem to be going about tackling this issue the wrong way. Surely the best way to counter terrorism is to cease funding it in the first place.

One astounding aspect of the report is that the lucrative war-profiteering business involves nations the world would not usually regard as overly-interested in war. The countries contributing to the rising terror threat, as identified by the report, are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Romania, among others. This report adds to the already glaring problem of European countries making billions of dollars off the death and destruction of Middle Eastern civilian life. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found the United Kingdom was second only to the United States in arms sales, making up 10.4% of the total $401 billion worth of arms sold around the world for the 2014 period.

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Trump for Peace. We have 3 months left to get used to that.

War Or Peace: The Essential Question For American Voters On November 8th (RI)

In matters of substance as opposed to character assassination that both parties’ candidates have engaged in freely, what separates the candidates and makes it worthwhile to register and vote on November 8th is the domain of international relations. This, as a general rule, is the only area where a president has free hands anyway, whatever position his party holds in the Congress. Here the choice facing voters is stark, I would say existential: do we want War or Peace? Do we want to pursue our path of global hegemony, which is bringing us into growing confrontation with Russia, meaning a high probability of war, (the policy of Hillary Clinton), or do we want a harmonious international order in which the U.S. plays its role at the board of governors, just like other major world powers (the policy of Donald Trump).

Let me go one step further and explain what “war” means, since it is not something that gets much attention in our media, whereas it is at the top of the news each day in Russia. “War” does not mean Cold War-II, a kind of scab you can pick to indulge a pleasure in pain that is not life threatening. War means what our military like to call “kinetics” to mask the horror of it all. It means live ammunition, ranging from conventional to thermonuclear devices that can devastate large swathes of the United States if we play our hand badly, as would likely be the case for reasons I explain below should Hillary and her flock of Neocon armchair strategists take the reins of power in January 2017.

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Dec 262015
 
 December 26, 2015  Posted by at 9:58 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


Andreas Feininger Production B-17 heavy bomber at Boeing plant, Seattle Dec 1942

Christmas 2015 – Why There Is No Peace On Earth (Stockman)
China State Firms’ Profits Down 9.5% Year-on-Year In January-November (Reuters)
China Says AIIB Up And Running Early In The New Year
US Oil Bankruptcies Reach Highest Quarterly Level Since Recession (BBG)
Why Not People’s Quantitative Easing? (Steve Keen on Keiser Report)
Commerzbank Sues BNY Mellon, Wells Fargo, HSBC Over Mortgage Losses (Reuters)
Huge Leap In Number Of People Cashing In And Moving Out Of London In 2015 (G.)
The Sneaky Way Austerity Got Sold to the Public Like Snake Oil (Lynn Parramore)
Beijing Raises Smog Alert -Again- as Airport Cancels 227 Departures (BBG)
Pope Condemns ‘Monstrous Evil’ Fuelling Refugee Crisis (Guardian)
Remember That Christmas Is A Story Of Middle Eastern Refugees (Quartz)
Two Dead As Hundreds Of Migrants Storm Spanish Enclave in Morocco (AFP)

Because of Pax Americana. Long expose by Stockman.

Christmas 2015 – Why There Is No Peace On Earth (Stockman)

After the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and the death of the Soviet Union was confirmed two years later when Boris Yeltsin courageously stood down the red army tanks in front of Moscow’s White House, a dark era in human history came to an end. The world had descended into what had been a 77-year global war, incepting with the mobilization of the armies of old Europe in August 1914. If you want to count bodies, 150 million were killed by all the depredations which germinated in the Great War, its foolish aftermath at Versailles, and the march of history into the world war and cold war which followed inexorably thereupon. To wit, upwards of 8% of the human race was wiped-out during that span.

The toll encompassed the madness of trench warfare during 1914-1918; the murderous regimes of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism that rose from the ashes of the Great War and Versailles; and then the carnage of WWII and all the lesser (unnecessary) wars and invasions of the Cold War including Korea and Vietnam. I have elaborated more fully on this proposition in “The Epochal Consequences Of Woodrow Wilson’s War“, but the seminal point cannot be gainsaid. The end of the cold war meant world peace was finally at hand, yet 25 years later there is still no peace because Imperial Washington confounds it.

In fact, the War Party entrenched in the nation’s capital is dedicated to economic interests and ideological perversions that guarantee perpetual war; they ensure endless waste on armaments and the inestimable death and human suffering that stems from 21st century high tech warfare and the terrorist blowback it inherently generates among those upon which the War Party inflicts its violent hegemony. So there was a virulent threat to peace still lurking on the Potomac after the 77-year war ended. The great general and president, Dwight Eisenhower, had called it the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address, but that memorable phrase had been abbreviated by his speechwriters, who deleted the word “congressional” in a gesture of comity to the legislative branch.

So restore Ike’s deleted reference to the pork barrels and Sunday afternoon warriors of Capitol Hill and toss in the legions of beltway busybodies that constituted the civilian branches of the cold war armada (CIA, State, AID etc.) and the circle would have been complete. It constituted the most awesome machine of warfare and imperial hegemony since the Roman legions bestrode most of the civilized world. In a word, the real threat to peace circa 1990 was that Pax Americana would not go away quietly in the night.

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With numbers like those, statements like these are ludicrous: “The government has been struggling to reach its economic growth target of around 7% this year..”

China State Firms’ Profits Down 9.5% Year-on-Year In January-November (Reuters)

Profits at China’s state firms dipped 9.5% in the first 11 months of 2015 from a year earlier, after a 9.8% drop in the first 10 months, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday. Combined profits of state-owned enterprises totaled 2.04 trillion yuan ($315.18 billion) in the January-November period, the ministry said in a statement on its website. “The downward pressure on economic operations remains relatively big, although there are signs of warming up in some indicators,” the ministry said.

Excluding financial firms, combined revenues of state-owned firms fell 6.1% in the first 11 months from a year earlier to 40.66 trillion yuan, the ministry said. Companies in transportation, chemical and power sectors reported a rise in profit in the January-November period, while firms in oil, petrochemicals and building materials saw a drop in earnings. Firms in steel, coal and non-ferrous metal sectors continued to suffer losses. The government has been struggling to reach its economic growth target of around 7% this year, which would be the weakest pace in a quarter of a century.

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A foreign policy success is not the same as a financial success.

China Says AIIB Up And Running Early In The New Year

The China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has been formally established and is expected to be operational early next year, the official Xinhua news agency said on Friday. The bank’s establishment came after 17 funding members of the AIIB, which account for just over 50% of its share capital, ratified an agreement on the bank, state television quoted Finance Minister Lou Jiwei as saying. The bank will hold its opening ceremony in mid-January and formally elect its president, state television said. The bank will initially focus on financing projects in power, transportation, and urban infrastructure in Asia, the television quoted the bank’s president-elect, Jin Liqun, as saying. First proposed by President Xi Jinping less than two years ago, the bank has become one of China’s biggest foreign policy successes. Despite the opposition of Washington, major U.S. allies such as Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Philippines and South Korea have joined.

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You ain’t seen nothing yet. On January 1, all previous bets are off.

US Oil Bankruptcies Reach Highest Quarterly Level Since Recession (BBG)

Bankruptcies among oil and gas companies have reached quarterly levels last seen in the Great Recession, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. At least nine U.S. oil and gas companies that accounted for more than $2 billion in debt have filed for bankruptcy in the fourth quarter, the bank said Wednesday in its energy economic update for the final three months of the year. “Lower oil prices have taken a significant financial toll on U.S. oil and gas producers, in part because many face higher costs of production than their international counterparts do,” according to the note written by Navi Dhaliwal, a research assistant, and Martin Stuermer, a research economist. “If bankruptcies continue at this rate, more may follow in 2016.” Since peaking in October 2014, U.S. oil and gas employment has fallen by 70,000 jobs, the analysts wrote in the report.

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Bit confusing at the start on differences between people’s QE and basic income. And the entire topic already confuses people with all the varying definitions. But it’s good to get the discussion going. And Steve’s Modern Debt Jubilee is still the most sensible thing out there.

Why Not People’s Quantitative Easing? (Steve Keen on Keiser Report)

In this special Winter Why Not? episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert talk to Professor Steve Keen about solutions to our unpayable debts, including: basic income, a People’s Quantitative Easing and a global debt jubilee. Professor Keen explains why a modern debt jubilee could please both debtors and creditors, savers and spenders.

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Deals with deals that are almost a decade old.

Commerzbank Sues BNY Mellon, Wells Fargo, HSBC Over Mortgage Losses (Reuters)

Commerzbank has sued four banks in the United States, claiming that they failed to properly monitor billions of dollars in toxic mortgage-backed securities acquired by the German lender before the 2008 financial crisis. Bank of New York Mellon and units of Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo and HSBC were named in the lawsuits filed on Wednesday and Thursday in Manhattan federal court. BNY Mellon was the trustee for over $1 billion in mortgage-backed securities bought by Commerzbank and $1.3 billion of investments tied to a collateralized debt obligation, Millstone II CDO, court documents showed. BNY Mellon “abandoned its obligations to protect the rights of investors” and did nothing to protect the collateral underlying the CDO, Commerzbank said, noting that it suffered $750 million in losses. Commerzbank made similar claims involving mortgage-backed securities of $640 million in the Deutsche Bank case; $290 million for Wells Fargo; and $204 million for HSBC.

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Ghost town.

Huge Leap In Number Of People Cashing In And Moving Out Of London In 2015 (G.)

The number of people selling up and moving out of London rose by two-thirds in 2015, figures showed on Saturday, as homeowners cashed in on the capital’s high house prices or escaped to more affordable parts of the country. More Londoners bought homes outside the capital than at any point since 2007, according to the property firm Hamptons International, purchasing 63,000 properties during the year. Almost nine out of 10 bought elsewhere in the south of England, but the Midlands saw a 165% increase in the number of Londoners moving into the area. Throughout 2014 house price growth in London outstripped that in other parts of the country, and although it has been less rapid this year, the gap between prices in the capital and outside is wider than ever. Johnny Morris, head of research at Hamptons International, said homeowners were taking advantage of this.

“As the gap between prices in London and the south-east has grown, so has the temptation for Londoners to cash in on record house prices and move out of the capital,” he said. “With expectations of future house price growth in London easing, many have chosen 2015 to make their move out of London.” High costs in London where, according to the Office for National Statistics, the average price of a home is now above half a million pounds, have also forced first-time buyers and those looking for more space to move out. The Hamptons research, based on figures from the UK’s largest estate agency, Countrywide, which it owns, found that the number of people moving out to buy their first home was up by 70%, or 11,000, over 2014’s figure. The most recent data from Nationwide building society on first-time buyer affordability shows that relative to earnings a home in London is at a record 9.6 times average pay.

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“Austerity is so powerful today because it feeds off of itself. It makes people uncertain about their lives, their debts, and their jobs. They become afraid. It’s a strong disciplinary mechanism.”

The Sneaky Way Austerity Got Sold to the Public Like Snake Oil (Lynn Parramore)

Orsola Costantini, Senior Economist at the Institute for New Economic Thinking, is the author of a new paper, “The Cyclically Adjusted Budget: History and Exegesis of a Fateful Estimate,” which exposes the fascinating — and disturbing — history of how a budget approach cloaked in a scientific and technical aura became a tool to manipulate public opinion and serve the interests of the powerful. In the following conversation, she reveals how austerity has been sold to the public through a process that damages the lives of ordinary people, consolidates knowledge and power at the top, and compromises democracy. As economic inequality reaches new heights and austerity programs are debated around the world (most recently, in Spain and Portugal), understanding how a lie becomes political and economic “truth” has never been more critical.

Lynn Parramore: Your recent work deals with something called the “cyclically adjusted budget.” What is it and what does it mean in the lives of ordinary people?

Orsola Costantini: The Cyclically Adjusted Budget (CAB) is a statistical estimate that aids government officials when they decide what to spend money on and how much they’re going to tax you. It is mostly federal governments that use it, but also international institutions like the IMF. Economists will tell you this tool is imprecise. Yet national and international institutions still rely on it to justify important decisions about government spending and taxation. But there’s something the experts aren’t telling you: the cyclically adjusted budget can be easily maneuvered depending on which way the political winds are blowing. And it appears technical and obscure enough so that regular people tend to look at it as objective and undisputable. That’s where the trouble comes in.

Politicians and government officials using the CAB can limit the range of political choices that appear viable to a community. Policymakers can avoid the hassle of taking political responsibility for these choices, too. We had to do it! The budget says so! Look at what happened all over Europe in 2008: It’s one thing to say to students in the streets that their education and economic wellbeing are not a priority for the government while saving banks is. It’s quite another to say that politics has nothing to do with it and the economy requires taking certain actions, sometimes painful.

LP: You indicate that this approach to budgeting was invented as a way of making the New Deal acceptable to the business community. How did that work? Over time, who has benefitted from it? Who has lost?

OC: Back in the 1940s, workers were fighting for their rights, class struggle was heating up, and soldiers would soon be returning from the fronts. At that point, a new business organization, the Committee for Economic Development (CED), came together. Led by Beardsley Ruml and other influential business figures, the CED played a crucial role in developing a conservative approach to Keynesian economics that helped make policies that would help put all Americans to work acceptable to the business community.
The idea was that more consumers would translate into more profits — which is good for business. After all, the economic experts and budget technicians said so, not just the politicians. And the business leaders were told that economic growth and price stability would go along with this, which they liked.

But things changed progressively over the 1970s and early 1980s. Firms went global. They became financialized. The balance of power between workers and owners started to shift more towards the owners, the capitalists. People were told they needed to sacrifice, to accept cuts to social spending and fewer rights and benefits on the job — all in the name of economic science and capitalism. The CAB was turned into a tool for preventing excessive spending — or justifying selected cuts. Middle class folks were afraid that inflation would erode their savings, so they were more keen to approve draconian measures to cut wages and reduce public budgets. People on the lower rungs of the economic ladder felt the pain first. But eventually the middle class fell on the wrong side of the fence, too. Most of them became relatively poorer. I suppose this shows the limits of democracy when information, knowledge, and ultimately power are unequally distributed.

LP: You’re really talking about birth of austerity and the way lies about public spending and budgets have been sold to the public. Why is austerity such a powerful idea and why do politicians still win elections promoting it?

OC: Austerity is so powerful today because it feeds off of itself. It makes people uncertain about their lives, their debts, and their jobs. They become afraid. It’s a strong disciplinary mechanism. People stop joining forces and the political status quo gets locked down. Even the name of this tool, the “cyclically adjusted budget,” carries an aura of respect. It diverts our attention. We don’t question it. It creates a barrier between the individual and the political realm: it undermines democratic participation itself. This obscure theory validates, with its authority, a big economic mistake that sounds like common sense but is actually snake oil — the notion that the federal government budget is like a household budget. Actually, it isn’t. Your household doesn’t collect taxes. It doesn’t print money. It works very differently, yet the nonsense that it should behave exactly like a household budget gets repeated by politicians and policymakers who really just want to squeeze ordinary people.

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Beijing has closed down thousands of companies. But how long can it do that for?

Beijing Raises Smog Alert -Again- as Airport Cancels 227 Departures (BBG)

Beijing issued an alert for severe air pollution Friday, warning children and the elderly to avoid outdoor activities as limited visibility from the thick smog forced the airport to cancel 227 departures. Officials in the capital raised their air pollution alert to orange, the second-highest on the city’s four-grade scale. The concentration of PM2.5 – the particles that pose the greatest health risks – was 503 micrograms per cubic meter near Tiananmen Square at 2 p.m. after reaching 647 in the morning, according to the municipal air-monitoring website. The World Health Organization recommends PM2.5 exposure of no more than 25 over 24-hours.

Beijing Capital International Airport, the world’s second-busiest by passengers, reported the cancellations on its website Friday and said another 12 departures were delayed as of 4 p.m. local time because of poor visibility. The canceled flights accounted for about 12% of scheduled departures Friday, according to the site. The chronic air pollution has renewed calls for the government to make better forecasts and act faster to help clear the skies over the city of 21.5 million. Beijing this year has imposed two red alerts, the highest on the scale, prompting measures including school closures, traffic restrictions and factory operation limits. The latest ended Tuesday. Smog also blanketed China’s eastern and central regions Friday.

PM2.5 levels were as high as 260 micrograms per cubic meter in Zibo and 322 in Jinan of Shandong province, data from the China National Environment Monitoring Center showed. The readings were 277 in Wuhan and 255 in Huanggang of Hubei province. Shanghai issued a yellow alert for air pollution, the third-highest of four levels. Children and the elderly were warned to avoid outdoor activities, with the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center reporting PM2.5 levels of 154 micrograms per cubic meter as of 2 p.m. About 50 cities in northern and eastern China have issued air pollution alerts, the China Daily reported on Friday. Smog across the eastern, northern and central parts of the country will weaken or disperse from north to south from Saturday, the China Meteorological Administration said.

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If “Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil..”, are we off the hook?

Pope Condemns ‘Monstrous Evil’ Fuelling Refugee Crisis (Guardian)

Pope Francis has praised the generosity of countries which have accepted Syrian refugees and condemned the “monstrous evil” which has forced increasing numbers of people to flee their homes in the Middle East. Delivering his Christmas Day homily at St Peter’s in Rome amid heavy security, the pontiff said he was praying for an end to human suffering in a world afflicted by war, poverty and extremist attacks. Francis referred to “brutal acts of terrorism” in Paris in November as well as conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine. “Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst,” he told worshippers gathered in St Peter’s Square.

Thousands of people underwent airport-style security screening as they entered St Peter’s Square. Police armed with machine guns discreetly patrolled the area. Security around the Vatican has stepped up since the terrorist attacks in Paris last month. At the end of a year in which more than a million people have sought sanctuary in Europe, Francis asked God to “repay all those, both individuals and states, who generously work to provide assistance and welcome to the numerous migrants and refugees”. The pope called for “encouragement … to all those fleeing extreme poverty or war, travelling all too often in inhumane conditions and not infrequently at the risk of their lives”. He praised those who are helping migrants “to build a dignified future for themselves and for their dear ones, and to be integrated in the societies which receive them”.

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“..the responsibility to offer refuge is ours until the least of us have shelter.”

Remember That Christmas Is A Story Of Middle Eastern Refugees (Quartz)

As your social media contacts must have reminded you by now, Christmas truly is the story of a Middle Eastern family seeking refuge. Recent forensic research suggests that Jesus looked very much like the men that so many in the predominantly Christian Western world are frightened to let into their countries. Even in photos of the refugees, there are striking echoes of biblical iconography. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel. “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” This is at the very core of Christian values: love your neighbor as yourself—and as your god.

And yet Westerners are, by and large, keeping refugees at bay, bargaining their quotas down, as if the world’s 2.2 billion Christians had never been taught the story of Joseph and Mary being refused accommodation because they were poor strangers. Perhaps instead we can show mercy for mothers breastfeeding their children on a cold beach, for men who nearly drown trying to swim to shore, for children who have no choice but to follow their parents in chasing a future—any future, anywhere. These people are the real-life versions of the icons that Christians have come to associate with the passion of god as a human. Let us recognize them as such. Let us acknowledge, once and for all, that being a refugee—of war, poverty, or discrimination—is a sheer function of luck, and we did nothing to deserve our better fate. Whenever and wherever humanity is suffering, we are involved, and the responsibility to offer refuge is ours until the least of us have shelter.

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Contradictory reports in the media. Some say everyone swam, or that Ceuta is an island.

Two Dead As Hundreds Of Migrants Storm Spanish Enclave in Morocco (AFP)

Two migrants drowned and 12 others were injured Friday when they tried to enter into the tiny Spanish territory of Ceuta in North Africa by swimming from Morocco or scaling a barbed-wire fence, officials in both nations said. Just before 4:00 am (0300 GMT) a group of over 300 migrants tried to get into the Spanish city which borders Morocco and is located across the Strait of Gibraltar from mainland Spain, the Spanish government authority in Ceuta said in a statement. Moroccan forces intercepted over 120 migrants but 182 others managed to get into Ceuta by climbing over the fence or swimming into the territory, it said. “Three of them needed to be reanimated by Spanish police officers who rescued them from the sea.”

Twelve migrants were taken to hospital by the Red Cross to be treated for various injuries, it added. Two people were recovering from near-drowning, one had an open leg fracture and the rest had deep cuts, some requiring stitches, the Red Cross said. Morocco recovered two bodies in the waters near the border post, local officials told Moroccan state news service MAP. The would-be migrants threw stones and used sticks against police, injuring several officers, they added. The Spanish Red Cross said it gave clothes and shoes to the migrants before they were taken to a temporary detention centre in Ceuta. It published photos of Red Cross volunteers helping and feeding migrants, many of them covered in blankets.

Ceuta along with Melilla to the east are two Spanish territories on the northern coast of Morocco that together form the European Union’s only land borders with Africa. Spain fortified fences in the two territories last year in response to a rise in the number of migrants trying to jump over the barriers from neighbouring Morocco. Last year 15 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean after dozens tried to enter Ceuta by swimming from a nearby beach. Human rights groups and migrants said the Spanish police tried to keep them from crossing into Spanish territory by firing rubber bullets and spraying them with tear gas. Madrid has since said that its guards are now banned from using rubber bullets to repel migrants.

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