Jun 282021
 


John French Sloan East Entrance, City Hall, Philadelphia 1901

 

Coronavirus Appears Uniquely Designed To Attack Humans (DT.au)
Thousands Of Flights Cancelled As Vaccinated Pilots Fall Ill Or Die (CH)
Why Most People Who Now Die With Covid In England Have Been Vaccinated (G.)
FDA Adds Warning About Heart Inflammation To COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines (ET)
White House Struggles To Increase Vaccinations As Delta Variant Surges (Pol.)
Greek Experts Urge Public To Get A Move On With Vaccines (K.)
Greek PM To Present Benefits For Fully Vaccinated Citizens (K.)
New York Prosecutors Set Deadline For Trump On Legal Action (R.)
Key Witness in US Case Against Assange Changes His Story (Lauria)
They’re Wrong About Inflation (Jim Rickards)

 

 

The best vaccine in the market RIGHT NOW is the Delta. Mild side effects and natural immunity, with 200 thousand years of satisfied customers.

 

 

Mike “Mish” Shedlock @MishGEA: “It seems like fearmongers have forgotten (or simply don’t care) that daily deaths in the USA have gone from 4,464 on January 12 to 92 today. The continuing message is to spread fear.”

 

 

Morgan Stanley estimates a $100 billion profit for Pfizer over the next five years from the Covid vaccine.

 

 

 

 

Takeaway: whatever it was, it sure wasn’t bats.

Coronavirus Appears Uniquely Designed To Attack Humans (DT.au)

A team of Australian researchers have published a scientific paper proving that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus appears to be best adapted to attack human cells, raising even more questions about the pandemic’s origins. The scientists from Flinders University and La Trobe used powerful computers to model the protein receptors in a number of animal species to see how the coronavirus’s spike protein attached itself to them. The theory was that if the coronavirus attached itself readily to an animal like a bat or a pangolin, it would have likely been the species that the bug used to make its leap into the human population. However, the modelling found that the coronavirus’s spike protein was best suited to attacking protein receptors in humans.


“The computer modelling found the virus’s ability to bind to the bat ACE2 protein was poor relative to its ability to bind human cells,” said Flinders University epidemiologist and vaccine researcher Professor Nikolai Petrovsky. “This argues against the virus being transmitted directly from bats to humans. “Hence, if the virus has a natural source, it could only have come to humans via an intermediary species which has yet to be found,” he said. While the researchers also found that the coronavirus could attach relatively easily to pangolins, as well as domestic animals like cats and dogs, the findings will add weight to the increasingly repeated charge that the coronavirus escaped the controversial Wuhan Institute of Virology in an accident involving “gain of function” research. “Overall, putting aside the intriguing pangolin ACE2 results, our study showed that the COVID-19 virus was very well adapted to infect humans,” Prof Petrovsky said.

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“..a 580% increase in cancellations globally in the past 2 days.”

Thousands Of Flights Cancelled As Vaccinated Pilots Fall Ill Or Die (CH)

According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, pilots suffer an increased risk of clotting issues due to frequent and prolonged air travel. Pilots are encouraged to be aware of the signs of deep venous thrombosis and clotting issues and take preventative measures such as compression stockings and stretching of their legs during long flights. Medical News Today published a study on June 15th, 2021 that showed an increased risk of blood clotting and low platelets in AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine recipients. Some scientists hypothesize that since the ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) in the shot causes a full body reaction, once the vaccine comes into contact with platelets inside the human body, the vaccine activates those platelets, causing them to change shape and transmit chemical signals to the immune system. Those platelets send out platelet factor 4 (PF4), which regulates blood clotting.

However, in some people, after some undetermined amount of time, at random, PF4 latches onto the vaccine, and large “complexes” form. Since those complexes are “unknown,” the human body interprets those clusters as threats. Thus, immune cells in the body mistakenly attack PF4’s, prohibiting them from preventing the problematic clots seen in some COVID-19 vaccine recipients. Pilots have an increased risk of blood clots. COVID-19 vaccine recipients have an increased risk of blood clots. Reuter’s and Fact Checkers cannot hide the fact that an increased risk on top of an increased risk is potentially a disaster, but neither has any regard for human life or the truth, as evidenced by the propaganda they’re currently creating by the minute.

Delta Airlines now requires the COVID-19 vaccine for all new employees, potentially putting Delta employees at risk of blood clots and death. American Airlines doesn’t require the vaccine but gives its employees one day off of work and $50 for getting the vaccine. No mention of the inherent risk for non air employees, let alone those who spend ample time in the clouds, is ever made by Delta or American. [..] ccording to flightaware.com, 120,000 cancellations per year is the average for global flights. An average day would see 329 cancellations. A 2 day average would see 658 cancellations. But between Friday and Saturday, 3,533 cancellations occurred. That’s a 580% increase in cancellations globally in the past 2 days.

Only 1% of adverse reactions are reported to VAERS.

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Pretzel logic. Cute try.

Why Most People Who Now Die With Covid In England Have Been Vaccinated (G.)

A MailOnline headline on 13 June read: “Study shows 29% of the 42 people who have died after catching the new strain had BOTH vaccinations.” In Public Health England’s technical briefing on 25 June, that figure had risen to 43% (50 of 117), with the majority (60%) having received at least one dose. It could sound worrying that the majority of people dying in England with the now-dominant Delta (B.1.617.2) variant have been vaccinated. Does this mean the vaccines are ineffective? Far from it, it’s what we would expect from an effective but imperfect vaccine, a risk profile that varies hugely by age and the way the vaccines have been rolled out.

Consider the hypothetical world where absolutely everyone had received a less than perfect vaccine. Although the death rate would be low, everyone who died would have been fully vaccinated. The vaccines are not perfect. PHE estimates two-dose effectiveness against hospital admission with the Delta infections at around 94%. We can perhaps assume there is at least 95% protection against Covid-19 death, which means the lethal risk is reduced to less than a twentieth of its usual value.

But the risk of dying from Covid-19 is extraordinarily dependent on age: it halves for each six to seven year age gap. This means that someone aged 80 who is fully vaccinated essentially takes on the risk of an unvaccinated person of around 50 – much lower, but still not nothing, and so we can expect some deaths. The PHE report also reveals that nearly a third of deaths from the Delta variant are of unvaccinated people over 50, which may be surprising given high vaccine coverage; for example, OpenSAFELY estimates more than 93% among the 65-69s. But there are lower rates in deprived areas and for some ethnicities and communities with limited coverage will continue to experience more than their fair share of loss.

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The Autralian hearing is interesting.

FDA Adds Warning About Heart Inflammation To COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines (ET)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added a warning about the risk of developing heart inflammation to information about the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. The FDA announced earlier this month that it would add the warning after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had reported that more cases of heart inflammation—either myocarditis or pericarditis—were found in young adults and children after they received the vaccines, which use mRNA technology. On June 25, the agency said that it would add revisions to its patient and provider fact sheets about the “increased risks of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart) following vaccination” using the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 shots.

The Pfizer or Moderna vaccines use mRNA technology and require two doses, whereas the vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson uses an adenovirus and requires a single dose. Still, health officials have said that the risks of developing heart inflammation are outweighed by the vaccine’s benefits. “The risk of myocarditis and pericarditis appears to be very low given the number of vaccine doses that have been administered,” Janet Woodcock, the acting FDA commissioner, said in a statement last week. “The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination continue to outweigh the risks, given the risk of COVID-19 diseases and related, potentially severe, complications.”

The warning issued by the FDA says that there may be increased risks “particularly following the second dose and with [the] onset of symptoms within a few days after vaccination.” “Additionally, the Fact Sheets for Recipients and Caregivers for these vaccines note that vaccine recipients should seek medical attention right away if they have chest pain, shortness of breath, or feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart after vaccination,” the agency said. “The FDA and CDC are monitoring the reports, collecting more information, and will follow-up to assess longer-term outcomes over several months.”

Australia vaccines hearing
https://twitter.com/husserl79/status/1409405260427411457

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Curious:

“New Covid-19 infections have increased by more than 50 percent over the last two weeks in under-vaccinated states ..”

“Many of the cases are tied to the Delta variant, which the CDC says now accounts for one-fifth of new infections..”

Delta=20%, new infections=50%. What?

White House Struggles To Increase Vaccinations As Delta Variant Surges (Pol.)

Top Biden administration health officials trying to slow the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant have largely given up on the possibility of reinstating mask and social-distancing rules in favor of a grassroots vaccine education campaign. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Covid-19 Task Force have discussed whether to press mayors and governors in the Midwest and South, where the highly transmissible Delta variant is spreading quickly, to once again require mask mandates, according to three senior Biden health officials. But the administration ultimately concluded that many people who are not vaccinated are also those who have resisted wearing masks.

Instead, the federal government will try to convince hesitant Americans to get vaccinated by working with state officials and trusted community members to communicate the benefits of the shots, the three senior officials said. The president’s team is not confident that the new campaign will change hearts and minds, the two officials said, but it is falling back on old messaging in part because top administration officials are unsure what other tactics will work. Only about 46 percent of the U.S. population is vaccinated, and the number of doses administered has fallen by almost 300,000 per day since June 7, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The plateauing vaccination rate underscores the extent to which the White House is struggling to find new and better ways to convince Americans to get Covid-19 shots — while much of the rest of the world struggles to secure a steady supply of vaccines. And it raises questions about how the federal government will manage increasing Covid-19 cases associated with the Delta variant in the months ahead, with businesses and schools returning to normal operations.

“This is the door-to-door campaign, this is the church-to-church, this is going into the community and meeting people where they are. We’re not going to convince everybody,” said Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. “The Delta variant and its explosive growth — I wish there was a better way to articulate the damage that it is doing and will do in those communities, but it is going to be a tough slog.” New Covid-19 infections have increased by more than 50 percent over the last two weeks in under-vaccinated states such as Missouri and Oklahoma. Many of the cases are tied to the Delta variant, which the CDC says now accounts for one-fifth of new infections nationwide.

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Greece appears to be like Russia, and I’m sure most of Eastern Europe, countries that have had recent periods of authoritarianism, leading to mistrust of authorities and experts.

Greek Experts Urge Public To Get A Move On With Vaccines (K.)

With the first cases of the Delta coronavirus variant appearing in Greece coinciding with the easing of restrictive measures, the country’s scientific community has called on the public to take advantage of the summer lull in infection rates to “hurry up” with their vaccinations. “We must take advantage of this gap to vaccinate those who have not yet done so,” said Athanasios Exadaktylos, president of the Panhellenic Medical Association, echoing the general consensus of the scientific community. “Right now only a third of over-55s have been vaccinated. This percentage should go up sharply, as this is the age group most at risk from the new coronavirus,” he said. Bearing in mind that the summer holidays may affect the fast pace of vaccinations (100,000 vaccinations per day), Exadaktylos noted that “perhaps the system needs to be made more flexible” so not a day is lost in the process.

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Only a third of over-55s have been vaccinated, and fewer among the younger. So businesses are supposed to volutarily ban over two thirds of potential customers? Yeah, sure.

Greek PM To Present Benefits For Fully Vaccinated Citizens (K.)

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsorakis will present on Monday the government’s proposals for the benefits that will be offered to those who complete their vaccinations against Covid-19, in a drive to encourage inoculation in the country. Among the measures being considered are allowing the owners of cinemas, theaters, concerts, festivals and sporting events to restrict entry to their premises only for those who have a vaccination certificate. Another is allowing business owners to increase the number of people allowed indoors if they only accept fully inoculated people. Any measures will exclude access to public sector services and vanues, hospitals, supermarkets, shops, banks and transport, where there will be no distinction between vaccinated and non-vaccinated people, but where the current health restrictions for indoor spaces will continue to be observed.

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Smells like politics.

New York Prosecutors Set Deadline For Trump On Legal Action (R.)

New York prosecutors have given lawyers for Donald Trump 24 hours to respond with any last arguments as to why criminal charges should not be filed against his family business, according to a report on Sunday. The deadline set for Monday was another strong signal that the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, and the New York attorney general, Letitia James, are considering criminal charges against the former president’s company as an entity, according to sources quoted by the Washington Post. On Friday, it was reported that Vance could announce charges against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, within seven days. Any criminal charges would be the first in Vance’s probe into Trump and his business dealings.


Legal experts have said an indictment against the Trump Organization could bankrupt the company by undermining its relationships with banks and other business partners. Vance’s office has said it was investigating “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct” at the Trump Organization, including tax and insurance fraud and falsification of business records. Even if no charges were brought, Vance’s investigation could complicate any return to politics by Trump, who has lost some of his ability to communicate publicly after being permanently banned from Twitter and suspended for two years by Facebook. James’ office has been investigating whether the Trump Organization inflated the values of some properties to obtain better terms on loans, and lowered their values to obtain property tax breaks.

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“If he conspired to get these classified documents with a member of the U.S. military, that’s fundamentally different than if somebody drops on your lap … to a press person, here is classified material,” Biden said in December 2010. The Obama administration never indicted Assange.”

Key Witness in US Case Against Assange Changes His Story (Lauria)

Given the First Amendment questions being raised about the Espionage Act case against a publisher, Stundin points out that the computer charges against Assange have taken on new significance. In weighing an indictment against Assange in 2010, the Obama administration, in the person of then Vice President Joe Biden, said it sought to prove that Assange did not merely receive stolen defense information but had participated in obtaining it. “If he conspired to get these classified documents with a member of the U.S. military, that’s fundamentally different than if somebody drops on your lap … to a press person, here is classified material,” Biden said in December 2010. The Obama administration never indicted Assange.

The central allegation in the Trump administration’s computer intrusion charge is that Assange was a “hacker” and worked with his source, U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, to crack a password to steal the U.S. government documents. Thordarson played a key role in supporting the Trump administration case that Assange engaged in hacking when he was interviewed in both Iceland, and then after being flown to Washington in 2019 at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. Stundin also reports that he was given an immunity deal by U.S. authorities. The DOJ statement at the release of the superseding indictment in June 2020 said:

“The new indictment does not add additional counts to the prior 18-count superseding indictment returned against Assange in May 2019. It does, however, broaden the scope of the conspiracy surrounding alleged computer intrusions with which Assange was previously charged. According to the charging document, Assange and others at WikiLeaks recruited and agreed with hackers to commit computer intrusions to benefit WikiLeaks. … In addition, the broadened hacking conspiracy continues to allege that Assange conspired with Army Intelligence Analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password hash to a classified U.S. Department of Defense computer.”

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A theme I’ve commented on 1000 times. No inflation without increasing velocity of money. Some prices may rise for different reasons, but not inflation.

They’re Wrong About Inflation (Jim Rickards)

Since late last summer, the main driver of rates has been an inflation narrative. The narrative is straightforward: The economy is recovering. Unemployment is declining. Employers can’t find enough workers. Wages are going up to attract help. Stimulus spending is coming by the trillions of dollars. The Fed is printing money. The economy is pushing up against capacity constraints. Add it all up, and inflation is right around the corner. Therefore, rates must go up. And when rates go up, the price of gold goes down. Markets have adopted this narrative. The yield-to-maturity on the 10-year Treasury note went from 0.508% on August 4, 2020 (about when gold peaked) to 1.745% on March 31, 2021. Gold prices went from over $2,021 per ounce to $1,686 per ounce over the same period. That’s a 16.5% drop in gold prices.

What if every part of the economic narrative is wrong? The economy was bound to recover from the pandemic recession of 2020, the worst since 1946. But, it appears the recovery is now running out of steam. For the record, the economy was weak before the pandemic hit. What if that weak growth trendline is now returning to form? The unemployment rate is declining, but real unemployment is not. We still have 7.6 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic, not counting the 10 million or more prime-age workers out of the labor force as described above. It’s true that wages are going up in some service industries such as restaurants and that workers are hard for some businesses to find. (McDonald’s is now offering $35,000 per year plus benefits and training for entry-level hires).

Still, overall wage levels are not rising significantly, and slack in the labor market is producing a powerful disinflationary overhang. Money printing is practically irrelevant because the velocity (or turnover) of money is still declining. What good is new money if the banks just give it back to the Fed as excess reserves, so the money is never spent or lent? Fiscal policy and handouts are not producing stimulus because debt levels are so high (the U.S. debt-to-GDP level is now 130%, the highest ever). Americans respond with precautionary savings and deleveraging. Data shows that 75% of the government handouts have either been saved or used to pay down debt (economically the same as saving). Only 25% have been used for consumption. That’s a pathetic amount of bang-for-the-buck.

We are seeing some supply-chain disruption and capacity constraints, especially in semiconductors, which affects automobile manufacturing. Still, manufacturers have not been able to pass through those constraints in the form of higher consumer prices. Inflation remains low once base effects from last year’s deflation are stripped out. Those base effects will disappear in the third quarter when the year-over-year comparison looks at the 2020 recovery rather than the recession. Inflation is dead in the water. I know that analysis puts me in the minority, but that’s OK; I’m used to that. I was also in the minority when I predicted Brexit and that Trump would win the 2016 election. The bottom line is, the consensus is often wrong.

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Jun 182021
 


Roy Lichtenstein Crying girl 1964

 

Kids, Adults Have Similar Seroprevalence (HT)
Avalanche of Numbers (D’Eramo)
VAERS ID: 1026783 (OpenVaers)
Hong Kong Pays Off 3 Patients Who Suffered “Adverse” Reaction To Vaccines (ZH)
Vaccine Passports: Business Rights vs Personal Freedom (Smith)
Scientist Backing Probe Into Wuhan Lab: We Waited Because Of Trump (DW)
The Real B3W-NATO Agenda (Escobar)
Swexit (Streeck)
The Role Of Public Debt And Private Debt In The Next Crisis (Steve Keen)
Lifting The Mask (Edward Snowden)

 

 

 

 

Biden + Kamala vaccines
https://twitter.com/i/status/1405804353240420353

 

 

Dr. Byram Bridle

 

 

Has India reached herd immunity?

Kids, Adults Have Similar Seroprevalence (HT)

The exposure of children to Covid-19 has been similar to adults’, a serological surveillance study spearheaded by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has found, addressing fears that a third wave of Covid-19 could disproportionately affect children. The seroprevalence, presence of virus-fighting antibodies against Sars-CoV-2, among children was 55.7% across five study sites, in comparison to 63.5% among adults — the difference was judged to be statistically insignificant. In Delhi, which was one of the five sites for the study, the researchers found that 74.7% of the population – both children and adults – had been exposed to the infection. This is much higher seroprevalence than the state government’s survey from January where 56.1% were found to have antibodies against the virus.

The samples for the AIIMS study were collected between April and May, and would not have detected antibodies of those who got the infection during the second wave. There was also an urban-rural divide in prevalence in Delhi-NCR. As compared to the 74.7% in urban settlements of South Delhi, the prevalence was 59.3% in villages of Delhi and Ballabhgarh. “Results show that a large majority of the population had already been infected by the time we conducted the study at Delhi urban site which belongs to lower and middle socioeconomic strata population and very congested neighbourhood,” the study said. With all locations other than Delhi being rural, the average seroprevalence in rural areas stood at 58.8% as per the study. The highest seroprevalence was found in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh where 87.9% of the people had been exposed to the infection.

More importantly, the seroprevalence among children and adults in the same regions were similar. “Wherever the prevalence of antibodies was high among the adults, it was high among the children, busting the myth that so far children have been less affected. The thing is, the binding of the virus to the human cell receptors is not very good in children and hence they mostly develop either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infection,” said Dr Sanjay Rai, one of the authors of the study and the head of the department of community medicine at the AIIMS. He added, “People have been saying that after the young, the third wave will impact children more. The fact is most of them have been already exposed to the infection along with their families. And, numerous studies have now shown that natural infection can provide better and longer protection against a second infection.”

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More India.

Avalanche of Numbers (D’Eramo)

In the last few weeks, a report has been circulating in the online fora of the ultranationalist Indian diaspora. Its author, Shantanu Gupta, an ideologue closely associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatya Janata Party, ‘tracked the coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in India of 6 global publications – BBC, the Economist, the Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times and CNN – via web search results over a 14-month period’. His argument is that these outlets have distorted and exaggerated the effects of coronavirus in India. On what does Gupta base this thesis? On the fact that all these sources have used absolute numbers rather than cases per million. By the latter metric, we are told, ‘India is one of the better performing countries on the global map’. Here he is undoubtedly correct.

Countless times this spring we’ve seen the dramatic, record-shattering daily death counts from India, as it reportedly became the country with the third highest Covid deaths in the world. A quick look at these records: deaths in India reached their highest level on May 18th, with 4,525 per day. The USA topped this morbid leaderboard on January 12th with slightly lower numbers: 4,466. The UK reached its peak on January 20th, with 1,823 daily deaths; Italy on December 3rd with 993.

The problem is, India’s population stands at 1.392 billion. The USA’s is just 332 million, while the UK and Italy have 68 and 60 million respectively. If, then, we were to count the number of deaths per million inhabitants, ranking the highest daily death count yields quite different results: the UK holds a strong lead, with 28 deaths a day per million inhabitant; Italy is in second place with 17; the USA follows with 14; and India comes last, with just 3 per million inhabitants. Regarding the total number of deaths per million since the beginning of the pandemic, each country is almost identical, the only change coming at the very top: Italy clinches gold with 2,091 deaths per million, the UK 1,873, the USA 1,836, and India just 243.

One might argue that Indian statistics are unreliable (a fair objection, no doubt), due to the impossibility of accurately recording deaths in slums and other deprived areas. We now know that the true Covid death count in Peru was around triple the official figure. But multiply the Indian death count by four and it would still be inferior to that of more developed countries with far higher per capita incomes such as the USA, UK and Italy.

So has the pandemic in India been a bed of roses, as Modi has repeated for around a year, and as Gupta still maintains? Not at all. Try selling this to the families brought to ruin buying oxygen tanks on the black market or rooms in facilities with ventilators, or to the millions of precarious workers sent back home on foot, without a penny or subsidy to speak of. Even if, epidemiologically, Covid has not hit India more violently than other countries, it nonetheless spelled catastrophe for the health service and the wider economy. The numbers presented to underscore India’s Covid ‘tragedy’ in reality told an entirely different story. They were a testament to the brutal inequality of Indian society and the awful state of its health service: underfunded, staffed with underpaid workers, and lacking all kinds of vital equipment.

Malone

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Can vaccinated pilots be trusted to fly a plane?

VAERS ID: 1026783 (OpenVaers)

AGE: 33| SEX: M|State: MS. i noticed a headache in the very top of my head within an hour of getting the vaccine. i thought it was normal because everyone i know said they got a headache from it. over the next few hours, the pain moved down the back of my neck and became a burning sensation at the bottom of my skull. the pain was not excruciating but was constant. i thought it would eventually go away. i’m a pilot and fly for a living. two days after receiving the vaccine i flew my plane and immediately noticed something was wrong with me. i was having a very hard time focusing. approximately 2 hours into my flying i felt sudden and extreme pressure in my head and nearly blacked out.

i immediately landed and stopped flying. two days later i tried flying again and the exact same thing happened again after 20 minutes. the burning in my neck intensified and was now accompanied by dizziness, nausea, disorientation, confusion, uncontrollable shaking, and tinkling in my toes and fingers. i immediately went to my hometown doctor and he diagnosed me with vertigo. he prescribed me meclizine on friday 02/05/2021. i took the medicine as prescribed all weekend with no relief. monday 02/08/2021 i made an appointment for that wednesday at the institute.

during wednesday 02/10/2021-02/11/2021 i had roughly 10-15 test performed on me including balance, eye and hearing test, ct scan, mri, and measured my spinal fluid pressure. the physician determined on 02/11/2021 that i had an allergic reaction to the pfizer covid vaccine the severely increased the pressure in my spinal cord and brain stem. that pressure causes my vision problems and ultimately ruptured my left inner ear breaking off several crystals in the process. i cannot fly with this condition. i’m currently taking diamox to reduce the pressure in my spinal cord and brain stem.

BA pilots

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Vaccination Indemnity Fund.

Hong Kong Pays Off 3 Patients Who Suffered “Adverse” Reaction To Vaccines (ZH)

For the first time since its mass-vaccination campaign kicked off three months ago, Hong Kong’s vaccination indemnity fund has paid out a total of HK$450,000 ($58,000) as compensation for patients who suffered particularly severe reactions to inoculation against COVID. Out of more than 3MM doses of vaccines that have been administered in the city-state since February, HK’s Food and Health Bureau said it had received 74 applications for compensation as of June 10, 58 of which were still being processed. As of Sunday, 3,605 people had reported an adverse reaction to their jabs, roughly 0.12% of all vaccination recipients. Only 1.2MM, or 16.3% of the city’s population, has been fully vaccinated.


Awards were given to patients whose reactions were deemed especially severe. “The principles of severity assessment include fairness to applicants, prudent use of public funding, transparency to the public, and based on medical science,” the bureau said in a statement. “Severity of individual cases is subject to case-by-case assessment according to their circumstances.” The compensation figures were revealed while authorities also confirmed a new imported case from Sri Lanka, which brought the city’s official tally to 11,881, with 210 related deaths. So far 21 deaths have been recorded involving people who received a jab two weeks before dying, although no connection has been made between he vaccination and the deaths, according to the state authorities.

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“Do private property rights and free markets extend to them as well, even if their goal is the destruction of the very principles of freedom we hold dear?”

Vaccine Passports: Business Rights vs Personal Freedom (Smith)

The formation of totalitarianism is often insidious in that it is almost always sold to the public as “humanitarian”; a solution for the greater good of the greater number. But beyond that, tyrants will also exploit the ideals of the target population and use these principles against them. Like weaknesses in the armor of a free society, our ideals of freedom are not necessarily universally applicable at all times and in all circumstances; we have to place some limits in order to prevent oligarchy from using liberalism as a tool to gain a foothold. This battle for balance is the defining drama of all societies that endeavor to be free. It might sound hypocritical, and your typical anarchist and some libertarians will completely dismiss the notion that there should be any limits to what people (or companies) can do, especially when it comes to their private property.

But at what point do private property rights encroach on the rights of others? Is it simply black and white? Does anything go? The bottom line is, in the wake of covid controls and mass online censorship, it is time for those of us in the liberty movement to have a frank discussion about where the line is for the rights of businesses. The problem went mainstream initially a few years back when Big Tech companies that control the majority of social media sites decided that they were going to start actively targeting conservative users with shadow bans and outright censorship. Here’s the thing: If we are talking about smaller websites run by private individuals, then yes, I would argue in defense of their right to remove anyone from their site for almost any reason.

Their website is their property, and much like their home they can do whatever they want within it. Denial of access to an average website is not going to damage the ability of a person to live their normal lives, nor will it fundamentally restrict their ability to share information with others. There are always other websites. But what if we are talking about massive international conglomerates? Should these corporations be given the same free rein to do as they wilt? Do private property rights and free markets extend to them as well, even if their goal is the destruction of the very principles of freedom we hold dear? And, what if a host of small businesses in a given place decide they are going to implement freedom crushing mandates along with major corporations? What if they are all manipulated by government incentives or pressure? What if governments do not need to implement totalitarianism directly at first because businesses are doing it for them? Do the dynamics of private property change in this case?

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“..a xenophobic cousin to climate change denialism and anti-vaxxism..”

Scientist Backing Probe Into Wuhan Lab: We Waited Because Of Trump (DW)

A scientist that signed onto a letter recently backing a probe in the possibility that the coronavirus pandemic originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology admitted in an interview this week that she and other scientists did not come forward sooner to back the possibility that the pandemic originated in a lab because they did not want “to be associated with Trump.” NBC News reports: Chan was one of 18 scientists who published a letter in the journal Science last month calling for a more in-depth investigation into the virus’s origin that takes into account theories about both natural occurrence and laboratory spillovers. The letter helped kick-start a new round of calls to investigate the “lab leak hypothesis,” including demands from President Joe Biden and several leading scientists.

The report noted that numerous experts in the field have said that little-to-no evidence has emerged over the last year or so and that the only thing that has changed is the “context and circumstances” around the debate of the pandemic’s origins. The report continued: “Chan said there had been trepidation among some scientists about publicly discussing the lab leak hypothesis for fear that their words could be misconstrued or used to support racist rhetoric about how the coronavirus emerged. Trump fueled accusations that the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a research lab in the city where the first Covid-19 cases were reported, was connected to the outbreak…” “At the time, it was scarier to be associated with Trump and to become a tool for racists, so people didn’t want to publicly call for an investigation into lab origins,” Chan claimed in the interview.

Scientists rushed to downplay the possibility that the pandemic could have originated in the lab by publishing a letter in The Lancet that cast it “as a xenophobic cousin to climate change denialism and anti-vaxxism,” Vanity Fair reported. “The Lancet statement effectively ended the debate over COVID-19’s origins before it began.” “To Gilles Demaneuf, following along from the sidelines, it was as if it had been ‘nailed to the church doors,’ establishing the natural origin theory as orthodoxy,” the report added. “‘Everyone had to follow it. Everyone was intimidated. That set the tone.’” Former CDC Director Robert Redfield said this week that he believes that the pandemic originated in the lab and that those who moved to shut down the lab leak theory were “very anti-science.”

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It’s all one big movement.

The Real B3W-NATO Agenda (Escobar)

For those spared the ordeal of sifting through the NATO summit communique, here’s the concise low down: Russia is an “acute threat” and China is a “systemic challenge”. NATO, of course, are just a bunch of innocent kids building castles in a sandbox. Those were the days when Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, NATO’s first secretary-general, coined the trans-Atlantic purpose: to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” The Raging Twenties remix reads like “keep the Americans in, the EU down and Russia-China contained”. So the North Atlantic (italics mine) organization has now relocated all across Eurasia, fighting what it describes as “threats from the East”. Well, that’s a step beyond Afghanistan – the intersection of Central and South Asia – where NATO was unceremoniously humiliated by a bunch of Pashtuns with Kalashnikovs.

Russia remains the top threat – mentioned 63 times in the communiqué. Current top NATO chihuahua Jens Stoltenberg says NATO won’t simply “mirror” Russia: it will de facto outspend it and surround it with multiple battle formations, as “we now have implemented the biggest reinforcements of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War”. The communiqué is adamant: the only way for military spending is up. Context: the total “defense” budget of the 30 NATO members will grow by 4.1% in 2021, reaching a staggering $1.049 trillion ($726 billion from the US, $323 billion from assorted allies). After all, “threats from the East” abound. From Russia, there are all those hypersonic weapons that baffle NATO generals; those large-scale exercises near the borders of NATO members; constant airspace violations; military integration with that “dictator” in Belarus.

As for the threats from China – South China Sea, Taiwan, the Indo-Pacific overall – it was up to the G7 to come up with a plan. Enter “green”, “inclusive” Build Back Better World (B3W), billed as the Western “alternative” to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). B3W respects “our values” – which clownish British PM Boris Johnson could not help describing as building infrastructure in a more “gender neutral” or “feminine” way – and, further on down the road, will remove goods produced with forced labor (code for Xinjiang) from supply chains. The White House has its own B3W spin: that’s a “values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership” which will be “mobilizing private-sector capital in four areas of focus – climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equality – with catalytic investments from our respective development institutions”

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“..that a foreign court with foreign judges should be allowed to overrule a majority of the Swiss people proved incompatible with the Swiss idea of democracy..”

Swexit (Streeck)

On May 26, the Swiss government declared an end to year-long negotiations with the European Union on a so-called Institutional Framework Agreement that was to consolidate and extend the roughly one hundred bilateral treaties now regulating relations between the two sides. Negotiations began in 2014 and were concluded four years later, but Swiss domestic opposition got in the way of ratification. In subsequent years Switzerland sought reassurance essentially on four issues: permission to continue state assistance to its large and flourishing small business sector; immigration and the right to limit it to workers rather than having to admit all citizens of EU member states; protection of the (high) wages in the globally very successful Swiss export industries; and the jurisdiction, claimed by the EU, of the Court of Justice of the European Union over legal disagreements on the interpretation of joint treaties.

As no progress was made, the prevailing impression in Switzerland became that the framework agreement was in fact to be a domination agreement, and as such too close to EU membership, which the Swiss had rejected in a national referendum in 1992 when they voted against joining the European Economic Area. There are interesting parallels with the UK and Brexit. Both countries, in their different ways, have developed varieties of democracy distinguished by a deep commitment to a sort of majoritarian popular sovereignty that requires national sovereignty. This makes it difficult for them to enter into external relations that constrain the collective will-formation of their citizenry. Britain of course partly solved this problem by becoming the centre of an empire, as opposed to being included in one, defending its national sovereignty by appropriating the national sovereignty of others; while Switzerland became forever neutral and ready to defend itself, as de Gaulle had put it for France, tous azimuts.

Constitutionally, British popular sovereignty resides in a parliament that is not bound by a written constitution and can therefore decide everything with a simple majority, no two-thirds or other supermajority ever required. Also, there is no constitutional court that could get in Parliament’s way, nor can the second chamber, the House of Lords. That a supreme court like the EU Court of Justice should be entitled to overrule the British parliament was always fundamentally incompatible with the British idea of democracy-cum-sovereignty, and became a major source of British popular discontent with the EU, leading to Brexit and undoing Brentry. Similarly, that a foreign court with foreign judges should be allowed to overrule a majority of the Swiss people proved incompatible with the Swiss idea of democracy, standing in the way of Swentry and thereby making a future Swexit dispensable.

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Private debt is the ignored killer.

The Role Of Public Debt And Private Debt In The Next Crisis (Steve Keen)

Their roles are opposite in any crisis, like two sides of a see-saw: private debt causes crises, and public debt, to some extent, ends them. But conventional economic theory gets this completely wrong, by ignoring private debt, while seeing government debt as a problem rather than a solution. The conventional economic argument is firstly, that private debt simply transfers spending power from one private person to another—the debtor has more money to spend when money is borrowed, the creditor has more to spend when debt is repaid. In the aggregate, this cancels out: the borrower’s spending power rises when debt is rising and falls when it is falling, but the lender’s spending power goes in the opposite direction. They claim, therefore, that changes in the level of private debt have very little impact on the economy.

As Ben Bernanke put it in his book Essays on the Great Depression, “pure redistributions should have no significant macroeconomic effects” (Bernanke 2000, p. 24). On the other hand, they see government debt as “crowding out” the private sector, by competing with private borrowers for the available stock of “loanable funds”, and thus driving up the interest rate—the price of borrowed money. Excessive government deficits add to the demand for money, drive up interest rates, and therefore reduce private investment, and hence the rate of economic growth. As Gregory Mankiw puts it in his influential textbook, “government borrowing reduces national saving and crowds out capital accumulation” (Mankiw 2016, pp. 556-57).

This is why the Maastricht Treaty put limits on government debt and deficits, but completely ignored private debt and credit. Spain shows the impact of this conventional attitude to debt: while government debt halved from 72% to 36% GDP from the introduction of the Euro until just after the Global Financial Crisis in 2007, private debt almost trebled, from 88% of GDP to a peak of 227% of GDP in 2010.

The USA shows a similar pattern—unrestrained growth in private debt until the crisis, government debt growing after it in response to the collapse of demand as credit turned negative.

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Snowden wants to make the internet have integrity again.

Lifting The Mask (Edward Snowden)

Since 2013, it feels as though the world has accelerated, when really only the rate of opinion has — through the sheer speed and volume of bite-sized algorithmically “curated” social media. On Facebook, and especially on Twitter, plots and characters appear and vanish in moments, imparting emotions, but never lessons, because who has time for those? The only thing that most of us manage to take away from social media, besides the occasional chuckle, is an updated roster of villains — the daily roll-call of transgressors and transgressions. This is the reality of the fully commercialized mainstream internet: our exposure to an indigestible mass of shortest-form opinions that are purposefully selected by algorithms to agitate us on platforms that are designed to record and memorialize our most agitated, reflexive responses.

These responses are, in turn, elevated in proportion to their controversy to the attention — and prejudice — of the crowd. In the resulting zero-sum blood sport that public reputation requires, combatants are incentivized to occupy the most conventionally defensible positions, which reduces all politics to ideology and splinters the polis into squabbling tribes. The products of the irreconcilable differences this process produces are nothing more than well-divided “audiences,” made available to the influence of advertisers, and all that it cost us was the very foundation of civil society: tolerance. For this reason, I’d like to do my part in encouraging a return to longer forms of thinking and writing, which provide more room for nuance and more opportunity for establishing consensus or, at the very least, respecting a diversity of perspective and, you know, science.

I want to revive the original spirit of the older, pre-commercial internet, with its bulletin boards, newsgroups, and blogs — if not in form, then in function. The utopianism of these blogs might seem as quaint today as the sites’ graphics (and glamorous MIDI audio), but whatever those outlets lacked in sophisticated design, they more than made up for in curiosity and intelligence and in their fostering of originality and experimentation. They were, when it comes down to it, not curated and templated “platforms” so much as direct expressions of the creative primacy of the individual.

Read more …

 

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Apr 042019
 
 April 4, 2019  Posted by at 12:17 pm Primers Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  14 Responses »


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

 

 

We had already been told that in the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crash which killed all 157 people on board, the 4-month old 737 MAX 8’s anti-stall software reengaged itself four times in 6 minutes as the pilots struggled to straighten the plane post-takeoff. In the end, the anti-stall software won and pushed the plane nose-down towards the earth. Now, Ethiopia -finally?!- released its report in the March 10 crash:

Minister of Transport Dagmawit Moges said that the crew of the Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi on 10 March “performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but were not able to control the aircraft.” As result, investigations have concluded that Boeing should be required to review the so-called manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system on its 737 Max aircraft before the jets are permitted to fly again, she said.


The results of the preliminary investigation led by Ethiopia’s Accident Investigation Bureau and supported by European investigators were presented by Ms Moges at a press conference in Addis Ababa on Thursday morning.

Ethiopia is being kind to Boeing. However, though the anti-stall software played a big role in what happened, Boeing’s assertion (hope?!) that a software fix is all that is needed to get the 737MAX’s back in the air around the globe rests on very shaky ground (no pun intended whatsoever).

 


737 MAX 8. The angle-of- attack (AOA) sensor is the lower device below the cockpit windshield on both sides of the fuselage. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

 

The Seattle Times did an article on March 26 that explains a lot more than all other articles on the topic combined. The paper of course resides in Boeing’s backyard, but can that be the reason we haven’t seen the article quoted all over?

If the assertions in the article are correct, it would appear that a software fix is the least of Boeing’s problems. For one thing, it needs to address serious hardware, not software, issues with its planes. For another, the company better hire a thousand of the world’s best lawyers for all the lawsuits that will be filed against it.

Its cost-cutting endeavors may well be responsible for killing a combined 346 people in the October 29 Lion Air crash and the Ethiopian Airlines one. Get a class-action suit filed in the US and Boeing could be fighting for survival.

Here’s what the Seattle Times wrote 9 days ago:

 

Lack Of Redundancies On Boeing 737 MAX System Baffles Some Involved In Developing The Jet

Boeing has long embraced the power of redundancy to protect its jets and their passengers from a range of potential disruptions, from electrical faults to lightning strikes. The company typically uses two or even three separate components as fail-safes for crucial tasks to reduce the possibility of a disastrous failure. Its most advanced planes, for instance, have three flight computers that function independently, with each computer containing three different processors manufactured by different companies. So even some of the people who have worked on Boeing’s new 737 MAX airplane were baffled to learn that the company had designed an automated safety system that abandoned the principles of component redundancy, ultimately entrusting the automated decision-making to just one sensor — a type of sensor that was known to fail.

That one paragraph alone is so potentially damaging it’s hard to fathom why everyone’s still discussing a software glitch.

Boeing’s rival, Airbus, has typically depended on three such sensors. “A single point of failure is an absolute no-no,” said one former Boeing engineer who worked on the MAX, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about the program in an interview with The Seattle Times. “That is just a huge system engineering oversight. To just have missed it, I can’t imagine how.” Boeing’s design made the flight crew the fail-safe backup to the safety system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The Times has interviewed eight people in recent days who were involved in developing the MAX, which remains grounded around the globe in the wake of two crashes that killed a total of 346 people.

The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was already a late addition that Boeing had not planned for initially. They wanted a plane that was so like older ones that no training would be needed, but did put a much heavier engine in it, which was why MCAS was needed. As I wrote earlier today, they cut corners until there was no corner left. On hardware, on software, on pilot training (simulator), everything was done to be cheaper than Airbus.

 


The angle-of-attack (AOA) sensor of the 737 MAX is the bottom piece of equipment below just below the cockpit windshield. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

 

A faulty reading from an angle-of-attack sensor (AOA) — used to assess whether the plane is angled up so much that it is at risk of stalling — is now suspected in the October crash of a 737 MAX in Indonesia, with data suggesting that MCAS pushed the aircraft’s nose toward Earth to avoid a stall that wasn’t happening. Investigators have said another crash in Ethiopia this month has parallels to the first.


Boeing has been working to rejigger its MAX software in recent months, and that includes a plan to have MCAS consider input from both of the plane’s angle-of-attack sensors, according to officials familiar with the new design. “Our proposed software update incorporates additional limits and safeguards to the system and reduces crew workload,” Boeing said in a statement. But one problem with two-point redundancies is that if one sensor goes haywire, the plane may not be able to automatically determine which of the two readings is correct, so Boeing has indicated that the MCAS safety system will not function when the sensors record substantial disagreement.

The underlying idea is so basic and simple it hurts: safety come in groups of three: three flight computers that function independently, with each computer containing three different processors manufactured by different companies, and three sensors. The logic behind this is so overwhelming it’s hard to see how anyone but a sociopathic accountant can even ponder ditching it.

And then here come the clinchers:

Some observers, including the former Boeing engineer, think the safest option would be for Boeing to have a third sensor to help ferret out an erroneous reading, much like the three-sensor systems on the airplanes at rival Airbus. Adding that option, however, could require a physical retrofit of the MAX.

See? It’s not a software issue. It’s hardware, and in all likelihood not just computer hardware either.

Clincher no. 2:

Andrew Kornecki, a former professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University who has studied redundancy systems in Airbus and Boeing planes, said operating the automated system with one or two sensors would be fine if all the pilots were sufficiently trained in how to assess and handle the plane in the event of a problem. But, he said, if he were designing the system from scratch, he would emphasize the training while also building the plane with three sensors.

The professor is not 100% honest, I would think. There is zero reason to opt for a two-sensor system, and 1001 reasons not to. It’s all just about cost being more important than people. That last bit explains why Boeing went there against better judgment:

[..] Boeing had been exploring the construction of an all-new airplane earlier this decade. But after American Airlines began discussing orders for a new plane from Airbus in 2011, Boeing abruptly changed course, settling on the faster alternative of modifying its popular 737 into a new MAX model. Rick Ludtke, a former Boeing engineer who worked on designing the interfaces on the MAX’s flight deck, said managers mandated that any differences from the previous 737 had to be small enough that they wouldn’t trigger the need for pilots to undergo new simulator training.


That left the team working on an old architecture and layers of different design philosophies that had piled on over the years, all to serve an international pilot community that was increasingly expecting automation. “It’s become such a kludge, that we started to speculate and wonder whether it was safe to do the MAX,” Ludtke said. Ludtke didn’t work directly on the MCAS, but he worked with those who did. He said that if the group had built the MCAS in a way that would depend on two sensors, and would shut the system off if one fails, he thinks the company would have needed to install an alert in the cockpit to make the pilots aware that the safety system was off.

There you go: A two-sensor system is fundamentally unsound, and it’s therefore bonkers to even discuss, let alone contemplate it.

And if that happens, Ludtke said, the pilots would potentially need training on the new alert and the underlying system. That could mean simulator time, which was off the table. “The decision path they made with MCAS is probably the wrong one,” Ludtke said. “It shows how the airplane is a bridge too far.”

Kudos to the Seattle Times for their research. And yeah, we get it, at over 5000 orders for the plane, which costs $121 million each, there’s big money involved. Here’s hoping that Boeing will find out in the courts just how much.

 

 

Aug 182016
 
 August 18, 2016  Posted by at 8:51 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


NPC George W. Cochran & Co., 709 14th Street NW, Washington DC 1920

Japanese Imports Drop -24.7%, Exports Crash -14.1% (ZH)
A Physics Lesson for Central Bankers (BBG)
The Idea Of The Fed Raising The Inflation Target Is Outrageous (Boockvar)
On The Impossibility Of Helicopter Money And Why The Casino Will Crash (DS)
US Buyback Announcements Tumble to a 2012 Low (BBG)
Oil Drillers Have Slashed Spending For 2015-2020 By $1 Trillion
Only 37% Of Borrowers Are Paying Down Their Student Loans (WSJ)
Chinese Airlines Need To Hire 100 Pilots A Week For The Next 20 Years (BBG)
Hillary Clinton Picks TPP and Fracking Advocate To Set Up Her White House (IC)
Is US Moving Nuclear Weapons From Turkey to Romania? (EurA)
America Is Complicit in the Carnage in Yemen (NYT Editorial Board)
California Slaughter: The State-Sanctioned Genocide of Native Americans (NW)
Uncovering The Brutal Truth About The British Empire (G.)
Greek Villagers Rescued Refugees. Now They Are the Ones Suffering. (NYT)

 

 

Apparently Kuroda doesn’t buy enough yet.

Japanese Imports Drop -24.7%, Exports Crash -14.1% (ZH)

For the 19th month in a row, Japanese Imports plunged – dropping 24.7% YoY (worse than expected), the biggest drop since Oct 2009. Exports were just as dismal, also missing expectations, plunging 14.1% YoY – worst since Oct 2009. The biggest driver of the collapse of Japanese trade was a 44% crash in the Chinese trade balance. There’s no lipstick to put on this pig… it’s a disaster.. and worse still Yen is strengthening back below 100 against the USD.

Read more …

Why not simply admit that central bankers and economists alike have no idea what they’re doing?! Even if they ever had a clue, we’re now 8 years into ‘uncharted territory’, and it’s all anyone‘s guess. That’s what ‘uncharted territory’ means.

Moreover, central bankers and economists come in with dogmatic school book theories that don’t apply in ‘uncharted territory’, and those school book educations make sure they’re the very last candidates for finding creative solutions. Comparing economics to actual science does not help one bit.

A Physics Lesson for Central Bankers (BBG)

The world is braced for the discovery of a fifth fundamental forces of nature – the four known ones being electromagnetism, gravity, and strong and weak nuclear forces – that subverts the so-called standard model of particle physics. Given the lackluster outlook for global growth, maybe economics needs a similar revolution. Quantitative easing’s failure to quash the threat of deflation is finance’s equivalent of the bump in the data that alerted physicists to the possibility of a new boson. The mismatch between economic theory and the real-world outcome of zero interest rates poses a direct challenge to the current orthodoxy that puts a 2% inflation target at the heart of monetary policy in most of the developed world.

Figures earlier this week showed inflation running at an annual pace of just 0.8% in the U.S. and 0.6% in the U.K. Consumer prices in the euro zone are rising by about 0.2% a year; in Japan, prices dropped by 0.4% in June. The consensus forecast among economists surveyed by Bloomberg News is for none of the four central banks in those regions to meet their targets in 2016, and for the ECB and the BOJ to continue falling short for at least the next year:

Years of pumping trillions of dollars, euros, yen and pounds into the economy by buying government debt and other securities hasn’t produced the rebound in inflation that economics textbooks predicted. Record low borrowing costs haven’t led to a surge in investment and spending that would lead to higher prices. That’s the kind of empirical evidence that should produce a reconsideration of what Rothschild Investment Trust Chairman Jacob Rothschild this week called “the greatest experiment in monetary policy in the history of the world.” Neil Grossman, director of Florida-based bank C1 Financial and former chief investment officer at TKNG Capital Partners, likens the need to abandon the current economic orthodoxy with the impact of quantum physics on science in the last century.

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“There is no science to this 2% number, it is all art.”

The Idea Of The Fed Raising The Inflation Target Is Outrageous (Boockvar)

I can’t let an opportunity go by without criticizing a Fed official. I believe their feet should be held to the fire after creating a huge asset price bubble and culture of debt that is dragging down economic growth. Fed President John Williams comments yesterday really got me angry. First, he suggested possibly raising the Fed’s 2% inflation target. This reflects an amazing cluelessness of the damage this would do if realized. We are in an epic bond bubble globally where higher inflation would be kryptonite. With the bond monster central bankers have created, the last thing they should want is higher inflation. Also, many U.S. citizens are literally living paycheck to paycheck and a higher cost of living without a corresponding increase in wages or any interest income would damage the largest component of the U.S. economy and the lives of millions.

Second, he said, “Conventional monetary policy has less room to stimulate the economy during an economic downturn.” This we know is true. But he then added, “This will necessitate a greater reliance on unconventional tools like central bank balance sheets, forward guidance, and potentially even negative policy rates.” This last sentence proves he’s blind to the negative consequences of what unconventional tools have wrought and he believes in negative rates even in the face of all the evidence of how damaging the idea is. Let me expand on the first issue of inflation. Central banks in the U.S., Eurozone, UK and in Japan have tethered their monetary policy decisions on growth certainly but also the desire for 2% annual inflation. There is no science to this 2% number, it is all art.

The reason for this target and desire for this level of inflation is a matter of control. While they like to keep interest rates artificially low, they also understand the need to have them higher than they are in order to respond to any economic challenges. The fallacy with this theory that higher inflation is good and deflation is bad, is inflation is just a symptom of underlying supply and demand and technological improvements, and thus shouldn’t be manipulated.

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Stockman: “..earnings had fallen by 19% since then, even as the stock market moved from 1950 to nearly 2200 or 13% higher..”

On The Impossibility Of Helicopter Money And Why The Casino Will Crash (DS)

[..] .. the S&P 500 companies posted Q2 2016 earnings for the latest 12 month period at $86.66 per share. So at the August bubble high the market was being valued at a lunatic 25.1X. Even in a healthy, growing economy that valuation level is on the extreme end of sanity. But actual circumstances are currently more nearly the opposite. That is, earnings have now been falling for six straight quarters in line with GDP growth that has slumped to what amounts to stall speed. In fact, reported earnings for the S&P 500 peaked at $106 per share in the 12 months ended in September 2014. That means that earnings had fallen by 19% since then, even as the stock market moved from 1950 to nearly 2200 or 13% higher.

This is called multiple expansion in the parlance of Wall Street, but it’s hard to find a more bubblicious example. Two years ago the market was trading at just 18.4X, meaning that on the back of sharply falling earnings the PE multiple had risen by 36%! Valuation multiples are supposed to go up only when the economic and profits outlook is improving, not when it’s unmistakably deteriorating as at present. But during the spring-summer melt-up these faltering fundamentals were blithely ignored on the hopes of a second half growth spurt and, failing the latter, that the Fed would again pull the market’s chestnuts out of the fire.

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Time for Yellen to buy those stocks? Buybacks were the no. 1 reason the S&P looked good till now. Better find something to replace them, or else…

US Buyback Announcements Tumble to a 2012 Low (BBG)

Stock buybacks appear to be slowing down, suggesting either corporate America’s outlook has dimmed, stock valuations have become prohibitively high or, most optimistically, that companies are starting to listen to investors and put funds toward other uses. Buybacks announced for the second quarter’s earnings season between July 8 and August 15 totaled an average of $1.8 billion a day, the lowest volume in an earnings season since the summer of 2012, according to TrimTabs Investment Research.
Share repurchases have been a key driver of this year’s stock market rally, despite a notable deceleration relative to to the same period in 2015. In the first seven months of 2016, buybacks totaled $376.5 billion, according to TrimTabs.

That’s down 21% from $478.4 billion in the first seven months of last year. Equity buybacks last week totaled just $2.6 billion, while record highs in U.S. stocks triggered an increase in new equity offerings. “The reluctance to pull the trigger on share repurchases suggests corporate leaders are becoming less enthusiastic about what they see ahead,” David Santschi, chief executive officer of TrimTabs, said in a press release on Tuesday. That means “buybacks aren’t likely to provide as much fuel for the stock market as they have in the recent past.” According to TrimTabs, just five companies have announced buybacks of more-than $3 billion this earnings season: Biogen ($5 billion), Visa ($5 billion), CBS ($5 billion), AIG ($3 billion), and 21st Century Fox ($3 billion).

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Hard to admit to something that will cost you your livelihood. They all keep hoping for rising prices.

Oil Drillers Have Slashed Spending For 2015-2020 By $1 Trillion

Mad Dog, BP’s drilling project deep in the Gulf of Mexico, could be Exhibit A in the oil industry’s war on cost. When the British oil giant announced the project’s second phase in 2011, it put the price at $20 billion. Last month, after simplifying plans and benefiting from a sharp drop in everything from steel to drilling services, Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said he could do the job for $9 billion.

Across the industry, companies have taken a chainsaw to expenses, slashing spending for the 2015-to-2020 period by $1 trillion through cutting staff, delaying projects, changing drilling techniques and squeezing outside contractors, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. That’s cushioned businesses as oil prices plunged 60% since 2014. Now producers seek to show they can make the savings stick, while service providers try to reverse their losses. Industry costs “may be the defining issue of the next six to 12 months,” said J. David Anderson, a Barclays analyst in New York. “As you start ramping up, the fact is you’re going to need more services and they’re going to have to come in at a higher price.”

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Someone will come with an across the board forgiveness plan. But it’ll be contentious.

Only 37% Of Borrowers Are Paying Down Their Student Loans (WSJ)

A largely overlooked report released in February by the Government Accountability Office suggests that the Obama administration’s policies have exacerbated student debt, which equals nearly a quarter of annual federal borrowing. With only 37% of borrowers actually paying down their loans, the federal student-loan program more closely resembles the payday-lending industry than a benevolent source of funds for college. As this newspaper reported in April, “43% of the roughly 22 million Americans with federal student loans weren’t making payments as of Jan. 1,” and a staggering “1 in 6 borrowers, or 3.6 million, were in default on $56 billion in student debt.”

If student debt continues to skyrocket, the federal government may have to deal with as much as a $500 billion write-down when future defaults and loan-forgiveness programs are factored in. In 2010, the Obama administration dispensed with the private intermediaries that had administered federal loans since the 1960s. It put in their place Direct Lending, a program administered by the Education Department. At the time, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that Direct Lending would save $62 billion from 2010 to 2020. That didn’t happen. The program’s advocates failed to anticipate how two other Obama-backed college affordability initiatives—Income-Driven Repayment and loan forgiveness—would create a cataclysmic hit to the federal student-loan program’s finances.

There are more than 20 Income-Driven Repayment programs, but they all work essentially the same way. Students struggling financially can defer their payments. When no or limited payments are made, their balances grow. Today, over 20 million borrowers are watching their loan balances increase thanks to these programs. The average balance ballooned to approximately $25,000 in 2014 from $15,000 in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and has grown still larger since then.

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In their dreams.

Chinese Airlines Need To Hire 100 Pilots A Week For The Next 20 Years (BBG)

Chinese airlines need to hire almost 100 pilots a week for the next 20 years to meet skyrocketing travel demand. Facing a shortage of candidates at home, carriers are dangling lucrative pay packages at foreigners with cockpit experience. Giacomo Palombo, a former United Airlines pilot, said he’s being bombarded every week with offers to fly Airbus A320s in China. Regional carrier Qingdao Airlines promises as much as $318,000 a year. Sichuan Airlines, which flies to Canada and Australia, is pitching $302,000. Both airlines say they’ll also cover his income tax bill in China. “When the time to go back to flying comes, I’ll definitely have the Chinese airlines on my radar,” said Palombo, 32, now an Atlanta-based consultant for McKinsey. “The financials are attractive.”

Air traffic over China is set to almost quadruple in the next two decades, making it the world’s busiest market, according to Airbus Group SE. Startup carriers barely known abroad are paying about 50% more than what some senior captains earn at Delta Air Lines, and they’re giving recruiters from the U.S. to New Zealand free rein to fill their captains’ chairs. With some offers reaching $26,000 a month in net pay, pilots from emerging markets including Brazil and Russia can quadruple their salaries in China, said Dave Ross, Las Vegas-based president of Wasinc International. Wasinc is recruiting for more than a dozen mainland carriers, including Chengdu Airlines, Qingdao Airlines and Ruili Airlines. “When we ask an airline, ‘How many pilots do you need?,’ they say, ‘Oh, we can take as many as you bring,”’ Ross said. “It’s almost unlimited.”

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Incredible, but he really said it: “..there’s not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone..”

Hillary Clinton Picks TPP and Fracking Advocate To Set Up Her White House (IC)

Two big issues dogged Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) and fracking. She had a long history of supporting both. Under fire from Bernie Sanders, she came out against the TPP and took a more critical position on fracking. But critics wondered if this was a sincere conversion or simply campaign rhetoric. Now, in two of the most significant personnel moves she will ever make, she has signaled a lack of sincerity. She chose as her vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine, who voted to authorize fast-track powers for the TPP and praised the agreement just two days before he was chosen.

And now she has named former Colorado Democratic Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to be the chair of her presidential transition team — the group tasked with helping set up the new administration should she win in November. That includes identifying, selecting, and vetting candidates for over 4,000 presidential appointments. As a senator, Salazar was widely considered a reliable friend to the oil, gas, ranching and mining industries. As interior secretary, he opened the Arctic Ocean for oil drilling, and oversaw the botched response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Since returning to the private sector, he has been an ardent supporter of the TPP, while pushing back against curbs on fracking.

The TPP would enhance the ability of corporations to sue to overturn environmental regulations, but Salazar helped a pro-TPP front group, the “Progressive Coalition for American Jobs,” argue the opposite. In a November 2015 USA Today op-ed that Salazar co-wrote with Bruce Babbitt, the two men argued that the TPP would be the “the greenest trade deal ever” by promoting sustainable energy. Both Salazar and Babbitt cited their former positions as interior secretaries to boost their credibility. The following month, Salazar authored a Denver Post op-ed with two former Colorado governors also affiliated with PCAJ, arguing that the agreement would protect the state’s scenic beauty: “And as a state rich with natural wonder and a long history of conservation, Colorado can be proud that the TPP includes the highest environmental standards of any trade agreement in history.”

Shortly after leaving his post at the Obama administration, Salazar appeared at an oil and gas industry conference to argue in favor of fracking. “We know that, from everything we’ve seen, there’s not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone,” Salazar told the attendees, who included the vice president of BP America, another keynote speaker at the conference. “We need to make sure that story is told.”

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Not confirmed. But moving them out of Turkey seems logical. Not exactly a safe third country these days.

Is US Moving Nuclear Weapons From Turkey to Romania? (EurA)

Two independent sources told EurActiv.com that the US has started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, against the background of worsening relations between Washington and Ankara. According to one of the sources, the transfer has been very challenging in technical and political terms. “It’s not easy to move 20+ nukes,” said the source, on conditions of anonymity. According to a recent report by the Simson Center, since the Cold War, some 50 US tactical nuclear weapons have been stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base, approximately 100 kilometres from the Syrian border.

During the failed coup in Turkey in July, Incirlik’s power was cut, and the Turkish government prohibited US aircraft from flying in or out. Eventually, the base commander was arrested and implicated in the coup. Whether the US could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question, the report says. Another source told EurActiv.com that the US-Turkey relations had deteriorated so much following the coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara to host the weapons. The American weapons are being moved to the Deveselu air base in Romania, the source said. Deveselu, near the city of Caracal, is the new home of the US missile shield, which has infuriated Russia.

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It doesn’t sit well with me at all that the NYT editors are saying this. Far too much blood on those hands. It doesn’t feel right one bit.

America Is Complicit in the Carnage in Yemen (NYT Editorial Board)

A hospital associated with Doctors Without Borders. A school. A potato chip factory. Under international law, those facilities in Yemen are not legitimate military targets. Yet all were bombed in recent days by warplanes belonging to a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, killing more than 40 civilians. The United States is complicit in this carnage. It has enabled the coalition in many ways, including selling arms to the Saudis to mollify them after the nuclear deal with Iran. Congress should put the arms sales on hold and President Obama should quietly inform Riyadh that the United States will withdraw crucial assistance if the Saudis do not stop targeting civilians and agree to negotiate peace.

The airstrikes are further evidence that the Saudis have escalated their bombing campaign against Houthi militias, which control the capital, Sana, since peace talks were suspended on Aug. 6, ending a cease-fire that was declared more than four months ago. They also suggest one of two unpleasant possibilities. One is that the Saudis and their coalition of mostly Sunni Arab partners have yet to learn how to identify permissible military targets. The other is that they simply do not care about killing innocent civilians. The bombing of the hospital, which alone killed 15 people, was the fourth attack on a facility supported by Doctors Without Borders in the past year even though all parties to the conflict were told exactly where the hospitals were located.

In all, the war has killed more than 6,500 people, displaced more than 2.5 million others and pushed one of the world’s poorest countries from deprivation to devastation. A recent United Nations report blamed the coalition for 60% of the deaths and injuries to children last year. Human rights groups and the United Nations have suggested that war crimes may have been committed.

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Today Yemen, yesterday California. Maybe if we stop trying to hide the past, we’re less likely to repeat it?!

California Slaughter: The State-Sanctioned Genocide of Native Americans (NW)

The tally is relentlessly grim: a whole settlement wiped out in Trinity County “excepting a few children”; an Indian girl raped and left to die somewhere near Mendocino; as many as 50 killed at Goose Lake; and, two months later, as many as 257 murdered at Grouse Creek, scores of them women and children. There were the four white ranchers who tracked down a band of Yana to a cave, butchering 30. “In the cave with the meat were some Indian children,” reported a chronicle published later. One of the whites “could not bear to kill these children with his 56-calibre Spencer rifle. ‘It tore them up so bad.’ So he did it with his 38-calibre Smith and Wesson revolver.”

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We might as well stop speaking about western ‘civilization’.

Uncovering The Brutal Truth About The British Empire (G.)

Help us sue the British government for torture. That was the request Caroline Elkins, a Harvard historian, received in 2008. The idea was both legally improbable and professionally risky. Improbable because the case, then being assembled by human rights lawyers in London, would attempt to hold Britain accountable for atrocities perpetrated 50 years earlier, in pre-independence Kenya. Risky because investigating those misdeeds had already earned Elkins heaps of abuse. Elkins had come to prominence in 2005 with a book that exhumed one of the nastiest chapters of British imperial history: the suppression of Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion. Her study, Britain’s Gulag, chronicled how the British had battled this anticolonial uprising by confining some 1.5 million Kenyans to a network of detention camps and heavily patrolled villages.

It was a tale of systematic violence and high-level cover-ups. It was also an unconventional first book for a junior scholar. Elkins framed the story as a personal journey of discovery. Her prose seethed with outrage. Britain’s Gulag, titled Imperial Reckoning in the US, earned Elkins a great deal of attention and a Pulitzer prize. But the book polarised scholars. Some praised Elkins for breaking the “code of silence” that had squelched discussion of British imperial violence. Others branded her a self-aggrandising crusader whose overstated findings had relied on sloppy methods and dubious oral testimonies. By 2008, Elkins’s job was on the line. Her case for tenure, once on the fast track, had been delayed in response to criticism of her work.

To secure a permanent position, she needed to make progress on her second book. This would be an ambitious study of violence at the end of the British empire, one that would take her far beyond the controversy that had engulfed her Mau Mau work. That’s when the phone rang, pulling her back in. A London law firm was preparing to file a reparations claim on behalf of elderly Kenyans who had been tortured in detention camps during the Mau Mau revolt. Elkins’s research had made the suit possible. Now the lawyer running the case wanted her to sign on as an expert witness. Elkins was in the top-floor study of her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when the call came. She looked at the file boxes around her. “I was supposed to be working on this next book,” she says. “Keep my head down and be an academic. Don’t go out and be on the front page of the paper.”

She said yes. She wanted to rectify injustice. And she stood behind her work. “I was kind of like a dog with a bone,” she says. “I knew I was right.” What she didn’t know was that the lawsuit would expose a secret: a vast colonial archive that had been hidden for half a century. The files within would be a reminder to historians of just how far a government would go to sanitise its past. And the story Elkins would tell about those papers would once again plunge her into controversy.

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But not everyone has lost it: “If it happens again, everyone will do the exact same thing: We will help.”

Greek Villagers Rescued Refugees. Now They Are the Ones Suffering. (NYT)

Stratis Valamios revved the motor on his small white boat and steered under a thumbnail moon out of the harbor of this fishing village, perched on the northern tip of Lesbos, Greece’s third-largest island. Skies were clear enough to see the purple mountains of Turkey a short distance across the Aegean Sea. It would be easy on this tranquil evening to catch calamari. These days, he needed a good haul to make ends meet. A year ago, he and other fishermen in the tiny village, Skala Sikaminias, were making a more unusual catch: thousands of sea-drenched asylum seekers who streamed across the Aegean to escape conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

As one of the landfalls in Greece that is closest to Turkey, Skala Sikaminias, with its 100 residents, fast became ground zero for the crisis, the first stop in Europe for people trying to reach Germany in a desperate bid to start new lives. “I’d be in the middle of the sea, and I would see 50 boats zigzagging toward me,” Mr. Valamios said, gazing across the narrow channel. “I would speed toward them, and they would throw their children into my boat to be saved.” Today the migrants have mostly stopped coming. The coastline, once littered with orange life vests and wrecked boats, has been cleaned to a near-spotless white. But the human drama has left an imprint here, and across all of Lesbos, in ways that have only begun to play out.

The village is nearly empty of tourists this year as Germans, Swedes and other visitors who had long flocked to the crystalline waters of Lesbos go elsewhere, wary of spending their vacations in a place now associated with human desperation. Business at the island’s hotels and tavernas has slumped around 80%, especially along the 7.5-mile stretch between Skala Sikaminias and the vacation town of Molyvos, where many of the more than 800,000 migrants who survived the crossing last year washed ashore. Mr. Valamios used to supplement his income as a fisherman by working five months of the year at Myrivilis’ Mulberry taverna, facing the bucolic port where fishermen mend yellow nets beneath oleanders and village cats prowl for fish. This year, he was asked to work just one month amid a dearth of customers. Nearly 1,000 Greeks in the area have lost seasonal employment.

[..] The villagers no longer experience the sea in the same way. When they look at the horizon, some say they think for a split second that another refugee boat is coming. “We have to be ready,” Mr. Valamios said. “If it happens again, everyone will do the exact same thing: We will help.”

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