Mar 112022
 


Pablo Picasso Three women at the edge of the beach 1924

 

The Sanction Backlash Will Push The ‘West’ To Accept Russia’s Demands (MoA)
Who Will Denazify The Ukraine? (Dmitry Orlov)
The Opinion Of A Professional About The Special Operation In Ukraine (Dubrovsky)
Ukraine Biolab Watchtower (Malone)
WHO Told Ukraine To Destroy ‘High-Threat Pathogens’ In Labs (ZH)
Moscow Retaliates Against Western Sanctions With Export Bans (R.)
Russia To Ban Fertilizer Exports To ‘Not Friendly’ Countries (ZH)
Russia Denies Bombing Maternity Hospital in Mariupol: ‘Fake News’ (ET)
Ukraine Worked With Democrats Against Trump in 2016 to Stop Putin (Sperry)
How Poland Avoided Hot Potato Of Being Dragged By US Into War With Russia (PM)
Germany Reactivates Coal Power Plants Amid Russian Gas Supply Threats (EuA)
Congress Inserts over 4,000 Pork Earmarks in Spending Bill (Turley)
Who Changed the Conclusions of a Paper that Could Have Saved Millions? (FLCCC)
US Dollar Being Used as “Instrument of War,” It’s the Endgame – Jim Rogers (SR)

 

 

 

 

WHO
https://twitter.com/i/status/1501879258079244289

 

 

Tulsi on Nuland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hubris.

The Sanction Backlash Will Push The ‘West’ To Accept Russia’s Demands (MoA)

President Biden has blamed Russia for the price increase that will inevitably follow. I don’t believe that mid-term voters will accept that reasoning. European countries can not follow that step as their economies depend of imports of oil and gas from Russia and will continue to do so for years to come. In a move that must have been quite humiliating for the White House the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE declined to take calls from the U.S. president. They want the U.S. to designate the Houthi movement in Yemen, which they have been unsuccessful to suppress, a terrorist group: One hopes that the Biden administration does not fall for these disgusting bribery schemes but he has backed himself into a corner, cutting off Russian oil to punish Putin for a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, with no alternative but to horsetrade with autocrats over the fate of Yemenis a half a world away.

If this is geopolitics, heaven forgive us. I don’t think that the above is the only request the Saudis and UAE leaders will have. They are now in a situation in which they can demand ever more. Likewise humiliating is the administration’s opening of talks with Venezuela which it had sanctioned all around in its attempt to regime change the country. Caracas has released two U.S. nationals from prison. It is willing to talk. But before providing oil to the U.S. market it will demand the lifting of all sanctions and the return of all its assets the U.S. and UK have confiscated. Biden will have difficulties to find a Congress majority in support of such steps. The return of the nuclear deal with Iran, which would enable more oil output, hangs in balance as Russia demands sanction exemptions for its trade with Iran.

The U.S. had attempted to press Poland to deliver its old Mig-29 fighter jets to the Ukraine. In Russia’s eyes that would have been a direct Polish aggression against it. Warsaw found a smart way to avoid that. It offered to deliver the jets to a U.S. airbase in Germany. The tar baby would thereby stick to the U.S. itself. The Pentagon declined to accept that. The jet transfer is now most likely dead. The U.S. and Europe are only starting to feel the secondary consequences of the all out economic war they hastily initiated against Russia. The war will cause recessions not only in Russia but also all over the ‘west’. This while Russia has yet to announce its counter sanctions. There are many steps Russia could take to hurt the ‘west’ by withholding this or that resource. It is likely to start slowly to then increase the pressure step by step.


Cable from 2008 written by #CIA director William J. Burns, then US ambassador to Moscow

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“..the Ukrainian regime blithely trod across a very well established Russian red line that was guaranteed to trigger a military response.”

Who Will Denazify The Ukraine? (Dmitry Orlov)

Short answer: the Ukrainians will. Long answer: let me walk you down a very short memory lane, merely 16 days long, starting from February 22, 2022. On that day, the majority of Ukrainian forces were massed deep inside the territories of Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics—the two statelets populated by Russians, many of them Russian passport-holders. The Ukrainian forces were within striking range of their capital cities and (as recently obtained official documents prove) were planning an all-out attack on them. That would have been an act of genocide which Russia would have had no choice but to try to stop.

Since the Ukrainian regime does not dare to do anything major without first receiving an “all clear” signal from Washington, this attack would have been on strategy with Washington’s goals, which, perfectly clearly, were to mire Russia in a Ukrainian civil war. This war would in turn provide the rationale for international isolation which would crush Russia’s economy and force it to once again provide its natural resources to the West for almost nothing. Were this plan to fail, the West would collapse. The way it looks now, this plan is failing. I will return to this subject in a little while; by then the situation will have become clearer to a few more people. As people go through the inevitable denial-anger-bargaining sequence, it is best to hang back until the bargaining part is reached; only then does reasoned discussion become possible.

While the Ukrainian regime was frustrated in its efforts to join NATO by the fact that it does not control its own territory, it in fact surrendered the Ukraine to NATO forces, allowing NATO to order its military around and turning itself over to NATO’s use, thus bringing NATO within striking range of Moscow and driving NATO’s expansion east along the same route used by previous Western invaders—Napoleon and Hitler. Thus, the Ukrainian regime blithely trod across a very well established Russian red line that was guaranteed to trigger a military response. Given the vast disproportion in military strength, this was a delusional, suicidal move. To top all of this off, at the Munich security conference held this February the (former?) Ukrainian president Zelensky professed his desire to develop nuclear weapons with which to attack Russia.

Note that the Ukraine had sufficient nuclear materials, technologies and knowhow, inherited from the USSR, to rush through such a development program, especially if with US help. Although this would directly violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (“non-nuclear-weapon states agree never to acquire nuclear weapons”), he did not get any pushback from the assorted Western luminaries assembled there. Thus the Ukrainian regime thus did everything necessary to fashion itself into an immediate existential threat to Russia, sealing its fate.

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Via the Saker.

.. the honorable duty to drown Donbass in blood at the beginning of March. We beat them to it by a week or two

The Opinion Of A Professional About The Special Operation In Ukraine (Dubrovsky)

This is a war unfamiliar to us veterans. Especially when the sky is under your full control, airfields are packed with attack aircraft and bombers, operational and tactical missile systems are in service, there is a lot of heavy artillery. Now it has become clear even to civilians: the correct name for what is happening truly is “a special military operation for denazification.” And the demilitarization of Nezalezhnaya was completed by the end of the third day. The APU, as a single, manageable and effective structure, has ceased to exist. Today, there are dozens of groups of different numbers isolated from each other, hiding in cities and towns. No centralized supply, no air support, no approach of reinforcements. They are not able to act within the framework of any plans of the Ukrainian General Staff. Just crowds of armed men with orders to stand to the death.

The main groups “North” and “East” were beheaded and deprived of command — these are 22 brigades, which had been entrusted with the honorable duty to drown Donbass in blood at the beginning of March. We beat them to it by a week or two, starting our own special operation. Now 150 thousand people (together with national soldiers) are marinated in “cauldrons”, cut off from each other. For a second — this was done by smaller Russian forces… and in five days. There is no organized resistance in other operational areas. Separate parts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), national battalions, sabotage groups. Everyone acts at their discretion, with varying degrees of activity. There is no way to move in columns, regroup, replenish ammunition, fuel, equipment even in local warehouses, everything is systematically destroyed by high-precision weapons and aircraft.

In a week or two, 80% of the AFU will turn into detachments completely devoid of ammunition, fuel, medicines, and food. Mentally and physically exhausted, without a unified command, goals and objectives. For the army, this is a terrible thing – despondency and decay. Especially for the Ukrainian, which is held by fear, propped up by Bandera detachments. Servicemen fear for the fate of their families in the rear.

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“I believe that there is a significant risk that the Russian government has obtained documents or other evidence that (at a minimum) one or more of these laboratories have had biological materials the existence of which is likely to prove embarrassing to the United States. ”

Ukraine Biolab Watchtower (Malone)

Here’s my “assuming best intention” current “working hypothesis”: USA DoD/DTRA partnered with the government of Ukraine to (at a minimum) support collection, storage and monitoring of infectious biological agents and toxins by researchers in Ukraine, and there seems to have been some component of personnel training and facilities engineering involved with this. US State Department via the Embassy in Ukraine announced this DoD/DTRA effort in a transparent manner via a readily available web page. If I were working as an analyst for the Russian government, paid to perform and enable risk assessment, I would be skeptical that the US DoD/DTRA effort was limited to just collecting and archiving biological samples, and I would have to conclude that there is significant risk that these facilities were involved in (at a minimum) “dual purpose” research.

“Dual purpose” is a euphemism for “could be used to develop defensive capabilities or could be used to develop offensive capabilities”. Clearly, whether in sincerity or for propaganda purposes (time will tell if they provide the documentation and receipts), the Russian government is stating that the activities of these laboratories included bioweapon research which was coordinated with US DoD/DTRA. Prior to invasion of Ukraine, the government of Russia signaled that the presence of these DTRA-sponsored “biolabs” in this region was perceived as a threat to Russian national security and biosecurity. Again, if I were a Russian analyst, I would likely conclude that these laboratories represent a threat to national security. Based on information available to me, the US Government does not seem to have made any attempt to assure the government of Russia that these laboratories were performing benign activities.

One action which might have mitigated Russian concerns would have been to allow unannounced inspections, much as US and NATO have insisted on in the case of foreign nuclear enrichment or reactor programs. In my professional opinion, based on the language employed by Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, I believe that there is a significant risk that the Russian government has obtained documents or other evidence that (at a minimum) one or more of these laboratories have had biological materials the existence of which is likely to prove embarrassing to the United States. The language used appears to my ear to imply that there are biological materials the existence of which could damage US strategic and tactical geopolitical interests.

It is likely that the “chain of custody” or veracity of any evidence which the Russian government may present to support their case will not be clean, and that there will be a strong effort by western media and information sources (social media, tech) to delegitimize any communication by Russia (as a government) and by any persons (Russian or otherwise) who present or attempt to discuss such communication. Including myself. It is highly likely that management of any information concerning this topic is already being globally handled by the Trusted News Initiative organization, and that obtaining or discussing unfiltered and unprocessed “raw” information will soon not be possible. In other words, in my opinion, this is another topic that we will never be able to get to the bottom of, and we will never be able to discern something akin to objective “truth”. Best we can hope for is some sort of approximation of truth that is sort of like a kalidescope image viewed in a hall of mirrors.

Soviet bioweapons

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Why are there ‘High-Threat Pathogens’ inn one of the world’s most corrupt and instable nations, and how did they get them?

WHO Told Ukraine To Destroy ‘High-Threat Pathogens’ In Labs (ZH)

The World Health Organization advised Ukraine to destroy ‘high-threat pathogens’ in the country’s public health laboratories in order to prevent “any potential spills” that might infect the population during the Russian invasion, Reuters reports. “As part of this work, WHO has strongly recommended to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine and other responsible bodies to destroy high-threat pathogens to prevent any potential spills,” said the UN agency. The report comes after a tense back-and-forth between US and Russian officials over “dangerous” biolabs in the country – with Russia, and then China, accusing the US military of involvement in Ukraine’s biolabs.

On Wednesday, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova repeated a longstanding claim that the United States operates a biowarfare lab in Ukraine, an accusation that has been repeatedly denied by Washington and Kyiv. Zakharova said that documents unearthed by Russian forces in Ukraine showed “an emergency attempt to erase evidence of military biological programmes” by destroying lab samples. -Reuters The US has denied the allegations – issuing (among other things) a Thursday statement that “The United States does not have chemical or biological weapons labs in Ukraine,” adding that America “does not develop or possess chemical and biological weapons anywhere.”

On Tuesday, US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland acknowledged that Ukraine “has biological research facilities, which, in fact, we are now quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces may be seeking to gain control of. So we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach.” Nuland’s answer made clear that whatever is inside Ukraine’s biolabs is a serious concern, however it should be noted that there’s no public evidence of bioweapons, nor did the WHO statement make reference to biowarfare – which is a separate issue from whether the laboratories contained, or contain, dangerous pathogens which could be used in a bioweapon.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1502094871217287169

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“..telecom, medical, auto, agricultural, electrical and tech equipment, as well as some forestry products..”

Moscow Retaliates Against Western Sanctions With Export Bans (R.)

Russia sought on Thursday to retaliate against Western sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine by banning exports of certain goods and agricultural commodities. Exporting telecom, medical, auto, agricultural, electrical and tech equipment, as well as some forestry products, will be banned until the end of 2022. “These measures are a logical response to those imposed against Russia and are aimed at ensuring uninterrupted functioning of key sectors of the economy,” the economy ministry said. Further measures could include restricting foreign ships from entering Russian ports and allowing Russian airlines to register jets leased from Western firms as their own property, the government said.

Interfax news agency cited a source familiar with legislation being prepared as saying Russia may temporarily ban grain exports to a group of ex-Soviet countries forming part of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) from March 15 to August 31, as well as sugar exports outside the EEU area. The measures come after Western sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that threaten to cripple Russia’s energy-dependent economy. Western companies have pulled out of Russia en masse as the United States, European Union and Britain imposed sanctions aimed at curbing Moscow’s access to funding. In response, a government commission on Wednesday approved the first step towards nationalising assets of foreign firms that leave the country.

The proposal to restrict foreign ships’ entry into Russian ports comes after Britain last week banned from its ports all Russian-operated ships. The European Union has yet to provide clarity on the prospect of a similar ban by the bloc.

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There are no replacements. Not for the combined wheat exports of Russia and Ukraine, and not for fertilizer.

Russia To Ban Fertilizer Exports To ‘Not Friendly’ Countries (ZH)

Russia’s war on Ukraine is continuing to boost food prices. While the US and European countries are engaged in economic warfare against Moscow, it appears Russia’s turn to strike back has emerged. On Thursday, Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov said Russia decided to suspend fertilizer exports. This comes when global food prices are at record highs, and European fertilizer makers are struggling to produce nutrients ahead of the spring growing season, increasing global food inflation risks. President Vladimir Putin said the fertilizer export ban was a move to ensure stable domestic food prices. This is another sign of growing protectionism worldwide as countries grapple with soaring food prices. Putin said fertilizer markets are deteriorating, making food a lot more expensive.

Making matters worse, Interfax, an independent Russian news agency, reported earlier that Moscow is considering retaliatory economic measures to ban exports of certain agricultural products to countries outside the Eurasian Economic Union. Interfax said Moscow could temporarily ban grain exports to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and ban sugar exports beyond the EEU. This may result in declining food supplies for those countries and soaring food costs. Add this to the fertilizer ban and Europe and maybe the West is headed for a major food crisis. Possible Russian retaliatory measures follow a series of Western sanctions on Russia, which have collapsed the ruble, locked the central bank out of a large chunk of its foreign-currency savings, and crushed its ability to trade with the outside world by removing certain Russian banks from SWIFT.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been quoted well before the invasion of Ukraine of the need to strengthen an emerging multipolar world order. “It is important to maintain and boost mutually respectful, constructive and effective cooperation globally, as well as to strengthen the emerging multipolar world order that consists of independent centers of economic growth and political influence, which certainly includes BRICS,” Putin emphasized.

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The combo of “War” and “children” (let alone babies) is only fake news 99.9% of the time.

Russia Denies Bombing Maternity Hospital in Mariupol: ‘Fake News’ (ET)

Russia asserted Thursday that the claim from Ukraine that Moscow forces were responsible for the bombing of a maternity hospital in the port city of Mariupol was “fake news.” “That’s how fake news is born,” Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said on Twitter. He said that Russia had said in a statement on March 7 that the hospital in Mariupol “has been turned into a military object” from which Ukrainian radicals were firing. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia shared Polyanskiy’s statement on its Twitter page. The March 7 statement was delivered by Russian Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the U.N. Security Council.

“Ukrainian radicals show their true face more distinctly by the day,” Nebenzia said. “Locals reports [sic] that Ukraine’s Armed Forces kicked out personnel of natal hospital #1 of the city of Mariupol and set up a firing site within the facility.” Russia has also previously denied targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure as part of its campaign in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials claimed that Russian aircraft bombed the children’s hospital on Wednesday, after which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of carrying out genocide. “Mariupol. Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter. “Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror?”

After the strike, the Mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boichenko, called for a no-fly zone to be imposed over Ukraine. “Today I am asking the global community for help. Close the sky over Ukraine. Our will has not been broken, we will fight to the end,” Boichenko said in a video message posted to Telegram. “We have motivated soldiers and officers who defend our homeland. But today we need support.”

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Good deep digging.

Ukraine Worked With Democrats Against Trump in 2016 to Stop Putin (Sperry)

Six years ago, before Russia’s full-scale invasion of their country, the Ukrainians bet that a Hillary Clinton presidency would offer better protection from Russian President Vladimir Putin, even though he had invaded Crimea during the Obama-Biden administration, whose Russian policies Clinton vowed to continue. Working with both the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign, Ukrainian government officials intervened in the 2016 race to help Clinton and hurt Donald Trump in a sweeping and systematic foreign influence operation that’s been largely ignored by the press. The improper, if not illegal, operation was run chiefly out of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, where officials worked hand-in-glove with a Ukrainian-American activist and Clinton campaign operative to attack the Trump campaign.

The Obama White House was also deeply involved in an effort to groom their own favored leader in Ukraine and then work with his government to dig up dirt on – and even investigate — their political rival. Ukrainian and Democratic operatives also huddled with American journalists to spread damaging information on Trump and his advisers – including allegations of illicit Russian-tied payments that, though later proved false, forced the resignation of his campaign manager Paul Manafort. The embassy actually weighed a plan to get Congress to investigate Manafort and Trump and stage hearings in the run-up to the election. As it worked behind the scenes to undermine Trump, Ukraine also tried to kneecap him publicly. Ukraine’s ambassador took the extraordinary step of attacking Trump in an Op-Ed article published in The Hill, an influential U.S. Capitol newspaper, while other top Ukrainian officials slammed the GOP candidate on social media.

At first glance, it was a bad bet as Trump upset Clinton. But by the end of his first year in office, Trump had supplied Ukrainians what the Obama administration refused to give them: tank-busting Javelin missiles and other lethal weapons to defend themselves against Russian incursions. Putin never invaded on Trump’s watch. Instead, he launched an all-out invasion during another Democratic administration – one now led by President Biden, Barack Obama’s former Vice President, whose Secretary of State last year alarmed Putin by testifying, “We support Ukraine’s membership in NATO.” Biden boasted he’d go “toe to toe” with Putin, but that didn’t happen as the autocrat amassed tanks along Ukraine’s border in response to the NATO overtures.

The Ukrainian mischief is part of Special Counsel John Durham’s broader inquiry – now a full-blown criminal investigation with grand jury indictments – into efforts to falsely target Trump as a Kremlin conspirator in 2016 and beyond. Sources say Durham has interviewed several Ukrainians, but it’s not likely the public will find out exactly what he’s learned about the extent of Ukraine’s meddling in the election until he releases his final report, which sources say could be several months away.

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Well played Poland. Now Kamala’s there. WIll they change their stance?

How Poland Avoided Hot Potato Of Being Dragged By US Into War With Russia (PM)

The US’ attempt to get Poland to enter into war against Russia on their behalf has stalled, as Poland played, and won, a game of hot potato with Russian MiG fighter planes. On Human Events Daily, Jack Posobiec discussed how Poland managed to avoid being used as a pawn of war between the US and Russia. “We talk about the NATO hot potato when it comes to the Russian MiG, the Russian made MiGs from Poland. Poland said oh, we’re going to give them to the US,” Posobiec said. The US asked Poland to send fighter jets to Ukraine per Ukraine’s request for MiG fighters, which their pilots are trained to use. Poland said they would turn over the jets to the US at the Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, the US could do whatever they want with them. The US then would have to take those jets from Ramstein to Germany, piloted by US military personnel.


“The US said ‘no, no, no. Just give them to Ukraine.’ And [Poland] said ‘no we’ll give them to you, you can paint the US flag on them.’ And [the US] said ‘no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, that’s too risky. We can’t do that.’ “And Poland said, ‘Well, if you can’t do that, if it’s too risky for you. Why isn’t it too risky for us to do it?'” This would have been a distinct escalation to the war in Ukraine, as it would mean that the US was flying fighter jets into Ukraine. The US wanted Poland to bear that burden of escalation. The US rejected the offer of the planes, though on Sunday Biden’s Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had said that yes, the planes transfer from Poland to Ukraine was given the “green light” by the US. But Blinken would not “green light” those same planes being given by the US to Ukraine. [..] “The United States government is trying to frame Poland for starting World War Three and we cannot overlook this,” Posobiec said.

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Cui bono?

Germany Reactivates Coal Power Plants Amid Russian Gas Supply Threats (EuA)

As Germany closes its last nuclear reactors, it is also reactivating old coal power plants to ensure electricity supply security amid Russian threats to turn off the gas tap. Germany’s attempt to simultaneously phase out nuclear and coal power just got significantly more complicated. Once envisaged as a transition fuel on the way to renewables, fossil gas is being reconsidered in Germany after Russia invaded Ukraine. “Coal will play a crucial role,” said Olaf Lies, the energy minister of Lower Saxony. “That we choose this phrase once again is certainly not entirely self-evident given the country’s plan to phase out coal by 2030,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday (8 March).

As Russia wages war in Ukraine and threatens to stop pumping gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, Germany is experiencing a rude awakening. “We know, and we have to admit it, that in the last 20 years, we have manoeuvred ourselves into ever greater dependence on fossil energy imports from Russia,” said Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, who was speaking alongside Lies. “This is not a good state of affairs. All the efforts of the federal government, indeed of the country, are aimed at reducing this dependency as quickly as possible,” he added. In effect, that will imply firing Germany’s coal power plants back up. “If we want to be more independent, we will have to operate with coal,” Lies said, putting in clear terms what Habeck was reluctant to say outright.

Lies was speaking at a conference bringing together the energy ministers of Germany’s 17 states, who were meeting with federal minister Robert Habeck during an extraordinary consultation session. Germany currently has around 45 GW of coal power capacity in place. While some has been turned off, part of it is being held in reserve to ensure the country’s security of supply.

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“It is a familiar tactic on pork spending. You can hide an entire drove of pigs behind a single redeeming budget item.”

Congress Inserts over 4,000 Pork Earmarks in Spending Bill (Turley)

For years, Congress has dispensed with the pretense of informed legislative process when it comes to major bills and appropriations. The new $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill, however, took the notion of blind legislating to a disgraceful degree. Democratic leadership dumped the almost 3,000 page bill on the members (and the public) on Wednesday with only a couple days to review the massive spending. That includes over 4,000 pork projects in earmarks. According to the Hill, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) alone has a long list of earmarks for his state ahead of his reelection bid. That includes 59 earmarks totaling nearly $80 million in the transportation and housing and urban development (HUD) section alone.

While Congress disavowed earmarks, the pork-ridden bill shows that both parties have abandoned the pledge. Spending trillions in the last couple years appears to have removed any sense of fiscal responsibility or accountability. We are now over $30 trillion in debt so what are a few pork items — or in Schumer’s case 142 such items. (Some argue that debt is really only $22 trillion and that debt does not matter). It was a clever move at a perfect time. With Ukraine raging and people traumatized over the war, leadership like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Cal.) kept bringing questions back to $14 billion in aid for Ukraine. Members stressed that there was no time to waste — or in this case to read — before voting. It is a familiar tactic on pork spending. You can hide an entire drove of pigs behind a single redeeming budget item.

What is most alarming is the level of duplicity. The bill was withheld by leadership to guarantee little time for the members, let alone the public, from seriously considering the specific expenditures. It shows utter contempt for the concept of public deliberation and debate in the legislation. One must accept the word of the leadership and vote in the blind. In the meantime, even before this package, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget predicted that the debt-to-GDP ratio is at 101% and the total federal debt, including intragovernmental debt, may exceed 120%. Even if debt does not matter (as some have claimed) most citizens oppose pork barrel spending.

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Now we know who.

Who Changed the Conclusions of a Paper that Could Have Saved Millions? (FLCCC)

First, let’s set the stage: — Over one year ago, there were ample peer-reviewed, randomized controlled trials that provided strong evidence on ivermectin’s efficacy as a treatment for COVID in every disease phase. — A paper considering these many studies was written by lead author Dr. Andrew Hill at the University of Liverpool for the World Health Organization’s COVID Guideline Development Group. Hill was an early and vigorous proponent for ivermectin. His paper showed that ivermectin could reduce deaths by 75% if used throughout the world. — Inexplicably, just days before its publication, the paper appeared on a pre-print server, with its conclusions changed. Instead of concluding that ivermectin—one of the world’s safest and most inexpensive drugs— should be rolled out globally, it now concluded that more studies on ivermectin were needed before it could be recommended worldwide.


Given the totality of scientific evidence for ivermectin, it was a stunning—actually shocking—reversal by Dr. Hill. —In an urgent Zoom call to Dr. Hill initiated by Dr. Tess Lawrie, Director of the Evidence-based Medicine Consultancy, Dr. Hill admitted to her that one of his study’s sponsors, Unitaid, had a say in the conclusions of his paper. But he would not divulge the name(s) of those who altered the paper’s conclusions. But now, “The Digger” on Substack (aka producer/director Phil Harper) has revealed the name of the person who could have edited the paper’s conclusions—which led to the WHO’s non-recommendation of the use of ivermectin. That decision could have led to the unnecessary deaths of millions across the world.

Mr. Harper studied the PDF of the paper, wanting to learn the identity of its “ghost” author. “The hope was that some artifact on the PDF would reveal something, maybe a font was different, maybe there was a hidden comment, maybe some tracked changes had been saved to the document,” said Harper. “None of those lines of inquiry came to anything.” Then it came to him. Was it in the PDF’s metadata? “Sometimes it’s the most obvious of things,” Harper writes. “The ‘v1_stamped’ version of the paper did indeed have metadata. It even had author information inside the metadata. Expecting to see Andrew Hill listed as the author, instead, I saw a name I recognized. Andrew Owen. “Unless someone used his computer, Andrew Owen has his digital fingerprint on the Andrew Hill paper.”


As it turns out, Andrew Owen is a Professor of Pharmacology & Therapeutics and co-Director of the Centre of Excellence in Long-acting Therapeutics (CELT) at the University of Liverpool. He is also scientific advisor to the WHO’s COVID-19 Guideline Development Group. Just days before Dr. Hill’s paper was to be published, a $40M grant from Unitaid, the paper’s sponsor, was given to CELT —of which Owen is the project lead. “The $40 million contract was actually a commercial agreement between Unitaid, the University of Liverpool and Tandem Nano Ltd (a start-up company that commercializes ‘Solid Lipid Nanoparticle’ delivery mechanisms)— for which Andrew Owen is a top shareholder,” says Harper.

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He blames it all on Victoria Nuland.

US Dollar Being Used as “Instrument of War,” It’s the Endgame – Jim Rogers (SR)

“The U.S. dollar will die,” and it will fall from its position as the world’s reserve currency sooner than expected, says Jim Rogers, best-selling author of “Hot Commodities.” In his first video appearance since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Rogers tells our Daniela Cambone that Ukraine being inducted into NATO is the underlying cause of Russia’s actions. “Now we’re paying a gigantic price,” for the actions taken by U.S. elected officials, he says, and when the war is over, Russian stocks will be an undervalued opportunity. Other sovereign nations are frantically “coming up with something to compete with the U.S. dollar” due to economic sanctions being ramped up in recent years, Rogers asserts. “I cannot see the world having 100% computer money,” he concludes, saying governments will use it to control the masses.

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Psaki oil

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kharkiv

 

 

Rockefeller

 

 

 

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Mar 102022
 


Johannes Vermeer The art of painting 1666-8

 

Doug Casey: U.S. Empire Collapsing, Greatest Danger in World Today (G&E)
A Recession Unlike Any Other (Pento)
Deutsche Bank Has Lost 38% of Its Market Value in a Month (Martens)
Revenge of the Putin-Nazis! (CJ Hopkins)
Victoria Nuland: Ukraine Has “Biological Research Facilities” (Greenwald)
US: Russia Could Launch Biological or Chemical Attack in Ukraine (Antiwar)
The Documents the US Embassy in Ukraine Scrubbed on Biolabs (BN)
US Won’t Give Poland’s Jets to Ukraine (ET)
Ukraine Bans Exports Of Wheat, Oats And Other Food Staples (AP)
Iraqis Protest Rise In Food Prices, Officials Blame Ukraine War (AlJ)
Dems Drop Covid-19 Funds, Clear Way For OK Of $13.6b Ukraine Aid (AP)
Bad News from Hong Kong (Chudov)
Austria Scraps Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate (RTE)
Bolshoi Conductor Resigns Over Free Speech Controversy (Turley)
Wales Bans Tchaikovsky (SD)

 

 

 

 

Plenary
https://twitter.com/i/status/1501673748151390214

 

 

 

 

Assange

 

 

“We could be looking at real chaos over the next decade or two.”

Doug Casey: U.S. Empire Collapsing, Greatest Danger in World Today (G&E)

Doug Casey talks Great Reset, says we’re in for a tough time, that trends in motion tend to stay in motion, and fears the stage is being set for some authoritarian leader to rise to power. He feels the people who love liberty (e.g. libertarians) are an anomaly or rounding error compared to the rest of society. He gives his thoughts on being an international man in the brave new world where air travel has collapsed and authority has become more digital and centralized. We discuss Ukraine…he believes the Russians are on the right side of all this. The U.S. Government is a collapsing empire and has become the greatest danger in the world today. We could be looking at real chaos over the next decade or two. He gives us some tips on surviving the apocalypse.

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“..the government’s debt to GDP ratio soaring to 125 percent. For perspective, that ratio was just 53 percent back in 1960, and only 58 percent as recently as 2000..”

A Recession Unlike Any Other (Pento)

The U.S. economy is already deteriorating due to the humongous fiscal and monetary cliffs. These cliffs are now being compounded by the war in Eastern Europe and near record-high inflation. And, the Fed’s “PUT” is much lower and smaller in size than Wall Street believes. The war in Ukraine will exacerbate the negative supply shocks that are already in place due to COVID-19. Worsening bottlenecks will combine with rising inflation to produce a contraction in global growth. Russia produces 12 percent of the world’s oil supply and exports 18 percent of the world’s wheat consumption. Ukraine accounts for 25 percent of global wheat production. Sanctions and war will serve to slow the economy further and send prices for these vital commodities even higher.

But the upcoming recession will be extraordinarily unique. Not only will it occur while inflation is at a multi-decade high, it will be the first U.S. economic contraction to take place while the Federal Reserve had its target interest rate at or near zero percent. For comparison, look at how much room the Fed had to reduce borrowing costs during previous economic contractions. The following historical data indicates the level of the Fed Funds Rate just prior to the outset of all 10 U.S. recessions since WWII: 1957 3.5 percent, 1960 4.0 percent, 1969 10.5 percent, 1973 13.0 percent, 1979 16.01 percent, 1981 20.61 percent, 1989 10.71 percent, 2000 6.86 percent, 2007 5.31 percent, and 2019 2.45 percent.

In addition, the swoon in GDP will occur after the Fed has just finished printing $4.5 trillion over the past two years and with the national debt vaulting over $30 trillion due to the massive increase in government deficits in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such borrowing helped send the government’s debt to GDP ratio soaring to 125 percent. For perspective, that ratio was just 53 percent back in 1960, and only 58 percent as recently as 2000. Inflation is destroying real wages, and rising borrowing costs are destroying consumers’ ability to consume. Consumption is 70 percent of GDP, and that means the rate of economic growth is set to plunge. This would normally spur the government into remediative action. But the fact remains that the ability of the Treasury and Federal Reserve to turn around a recession expeditiously by borrowing trillions of dollars and having that debt monetized by the Fed has become greatly fettered this time around.

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$35.4 trillion in notional derivatives..

“derivative weapons of mass destruction”

Deutsche Bank Has Lost 38% of Its Market Value in a Month (Martens)

Deutsche Bank closed at $16.50 on the New York Stock Exchange on February 10 of this year. It closed at $10.23 yesterday – a decline of 38 percent in a month’s time. That’s a big problem because Deutsche Bank is heavily interconnected to Wall Street banks via derivatives. According to Deutsche Bank’s most recent annual report, as of December 31, 2020, it held $35.4 trillion in notional derivatives. (Notional means face amount.) Deutsche Bank, a large German bank, was among the global banks bailed out by the Fed during the financial crash of 2008 as well as during the (still unexplained) liquidity crash that saw the Fed pump trillions of dollars in cumulative loans into global banks from September 17, 2019 through July 2, 2020.


In June 2016, The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a report with a finding that Deutsche Bank posed the greatest threat to global financial stability than any other bank because of its interconnections to Wall Street mega banks and large banks in Europe. The largest bank in the United States, JPMorgan Chase, was shown as one of the banks with the largest amount of exposure. Despite that finding by the IMF in 2016, Deutsche Bank has been allowed by regulators in Europe and the U.S. to continue engaging in high-risk Over-the-Counter derivatives. It also has an uncomfortable history of suicides and rogue behavior. See a sampling of its history since 2014 below. Yes, President Joe Biden’s administration has a lot on its plate. But if it doesn’t get serious about reforming Wall Street and its derivative weapons of mass destruction, it will have a lot more to deal with eventually.

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“Return of the Putin-Nazis! Revenge of the Putin-Nazis! Return of the Revenge of the Bride of the Putin-Nazis!”

Revenge of the Putin-Nazis! (CJ Hopkins)

And they’re back! It’s like one of those 1960s Hammer Film Productions horror-movie series with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee … Return of the Putin-Nazis! Revenge of the Putin-Nazis! Return of the Revenge of the Bride of the Putin-Nazis! And this time they are not horsing around with stealing elections from Hillary Clinton with anti-masturbation Facebook ads. They are going straight for “Democracy’s” jugular! Yes, that’s right, folks, Vladimir Putin, leader of the Putin-Nazis and official “Evil Dictator of the Day,” has launched a Kamikazi attack on the United Forces of Goodness (and Freedom) to provoke us into losing our temper and waging a global thermonuclear war that will wipe out the entire human species and most other forms of life on earth!

I’m referring, of course, to Putin’s inexplicable and totally unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, a totally peaceful, Nazi-free country which was just sitting there minding its non-Nazi business, singing Kumbaya, and so on, and not in any way collaborating with or being cynically used by GloboCap to menace and eventually destabilize Russia so that the GloboCap boys can get back in there and resume the Caligulan orgy of “privatization” they enjoyed throughout the 1990’s. No, clearly, Putin has just lost his mind, and has no strategic objective whatsoever (other than the total extermination of humanity), and is just running around the Kremlin shouting “DROP THE BOMBS! EXTERMINATE THE BRUTES!” all crazy-eyed and with his face painted green like Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now … because what other explanation is there?

Or … OK, sure, there are other explanations, but they’re all just “Russian disinformation” and “Putin-Nazi propaganda” disseminated by “Putin-apologizing, Trump-loving, discord-sowing racists,” “transphobic, anti-vax conspiracy theorists,” “Covid-denying domestic extremists,” and other traitorous blasphemers and heretics, who are being paid by Putin to infect us with doubt, historical knowledge, and critical thinking, because they hate us for our freedom … or whatever. Let’s take a quick look at some of that “Russian disinformation” and “propaganda,” purely to inoculate ourselves against it. We need to be familiar with it, so we can switch off our minds and shout thought-terminating clichés and official platitudes at it whenever we encounter it on the Internet. It might be a little uncomfortable to do this, but just think of it as a Russian-propaganda “vaccine,” like an ideological mRNA fact-check booster (guaranteed to be “safe and effective”)!

OK, the first thing we need to look at, and dismiss, and deny, and pretend we never learned about, is this nonsense about “Ukrainian Nazis.” Just because Ukraine is full of neo-Nazis, and recent members of its government were neo-Nazis, and its military has neo-Nazi units (e.g., the notorious Azov Battalion), and it has a national holiday celebrating a Nazi, and government officials hang his portrait in their offices, and the military and neo-Nazi militias have been terrorizing and murdering ethnic Russians since the USA and the Forces of Goodness supported and stage-managed a “revolution” (i.e., a coup) back in 2014 with the assistance of a lot of neo-Nazis … that doesn’t mean Ukraine has a “Nazi problem.” After all, its current president is Jewish!

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Sort of new for us, but the Russians have known this all along.

“..if a biological attack were to occur, everyone should be “100% sure” that it was Russia who did it..”

Victoria Nuland: Ukraine Has “Biological Research Facilities” (Greenwald)

Self-anointed “fact-checkers” in the U.S. corporate press have spent two weeks mocking as disinformation and a false conspiracy theory the claim that Ukraine has biological weapons labs, either alone or with U.S. support. They never presented any evidence for their ruling — how could they possibly know? and how could they prove the negative? — but nonetheless they invoked their characteristically authoritative, above-it-all tone of self-assurance and self-arrogated right to decree the truth and label such claims false. Claims that Ukraine currently maintains dangerous biological weapons labs came from Russia as well as China. The Chinese Foreign Ministry this month claimed: “The US has 336 labs in 30 countries under its control, including 26 in Ukraine alone.”

Nuland

The Russian Foreign Ministry asserted that “Russia obtained documents proving that Ukrainian biological laboratories located near Russian borders worked on development of components of biological weapons.” Such assertions deserve the same level of skepticism as U.S. denials: namely, none of it should be believed to be true or false absent evidence. Yet U.S. fact-checkers dutifully and reflexively sided with the U.S. Government to declare such claims “disinformation” and to mock them as QAnon conspiracy theories. Unfortunately for this propaganda racket masquerading as neutral and high-minded fact-checking, the neocon official long in charge of U.S. policy in Ukraine testified on Monday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and strongly suggested that such claims are, at least in part, true.


Yesterday afternoon, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), hoping to debunk growing claims that there are chemical weapons labs in Ukraine, smugly asked Nuland: “Does Ukraine have chemical or biological weapons?” Rubio undoubtedly expected a flat denial by Nuland, thus providing further “proof” that such speculation is dastardly Fake News emanating from the Kremlin, the CCP and QAnon. Instead, Nuland did something completely uncharacteristic for her, for neocons, and for senior U.S. foreign policy officials: for some reason, she told a version of the truth. Her answer visibly stunned Rubio, who — as soon as he realized the damage she was doing to the U.S. messaging campaign by telling the truth — interrupted her and demanded that she instead affirm that if a biological attack were to occur, everyone should be “100% sure” that it was Russia who did it. Grateful for the life raft, Nuland told Rubio he was right.

Tucker Carlson – Bio-Weapons Labs in Ukraine

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Yeah, right.

US: Russia Could Launch Biological or Chemical Attack in Ukraine (Antiwar)

On Wednesday, the White House claimed without evidence that Russia might use chemical or biological weapons to create a false flag operation in Ukraine. The White House also dismissed Moscow’s accusations that the US is involved in biological weapons research in Ukraine even though there are Pentagon-linked labs in the country. On Twitter, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said to be on the lookout “for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false flag operation using them.” She said Russia’s claim of the US having biological weapons labs in Ukraine is “preposterous.” Psaki’s denial comes a day after Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland said there are “biological research facilities” in Ukraine the US is concerned Russian forces might seize.

Nuland made the comments after being asked if there are bioweapons in Ukraine and said the US is working with the Ukrainians to keep “research materials” out of Russia’s hands. The Russian military has claimed that it uncovered 30 biological laboratories in Ukraine linked to the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia has documents that show Ukraine ordered the destruction of samples of plague, cholera, anthrax, and other pathogens before Russia launched its attack on February 24. According to a February 25 article from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the US government has worked with 26 biological research facilities in Ukraine. The article quoted Robert Pope of the DTRA’s Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, who warned some of the labs could have Pathogens leftover from the Soviet Union’s bioweapons program.

Lavrov biological weapons

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The US is insane.

The Documents the US Embassy in Ukraine Scrubbed on Biolabs (BN)

Russian accusations of a U.S.-funded and administered ‘biowarfares’ laboratory research program in Ukraine has led to rampant speculation about the nature of these Pentagon-funded laboratories. The Russians’ insistence that it has evidence of such a bioweapons program has become a major hurdle at the diplomatic negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Belarus. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov charged at a press conference last week that “the Pentagon built two biowarfare labs and they have been developing pathogens there in Kyiv and in Odessa.” Lavrov also compared the presence of the laboratories to the United States’ Weapons of Mass Destruction program allegations that led it to invade Iraq in 2003 and topple dictator Saddam Hussein.


Leonid Slutsky, head of the Duma Committee on International Affairs and a member of the Russian delegation at the talks with Ukraine, argued that the purported development of biological weapons components “confirm that the Russian Federation had good reasons for conducting a special military operation to demilitarize Ukraine.” Major General Igor Konashenkov, an official representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense, charged on Sunday that “components of biological weapons were being developed in Ukraine, in close proximity to Russian territory.” Amid the Russians’ accusations, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine has scrubbed a number of documents related to the Ukrainian “Biological Threat Reduction” program. Those documents have been retrieved and can be read below. The documents show both the locations of the Ukrainian laboratories and the Department of Defense’s listing as a “donor” to the program.

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They were fine with Poland handing them over directly. That way nobody could point at the US. It would still have been WWIII. And Poland didn’t fall for that trap.

US Won’t Give Poland’s Jets to Ukraine (ET)

The United States won’t act on a proposal from Poland to take fighter jets from the ally and transfer them to Ukraine because of concerns Russian officials would view the move as “escalatory,” a U.S. official said March 9. “The intelligence community has assessed the transfer of MiG-29s to Ukraine may be mistaken as escalatory, and could result in significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with NATO,” John Kirby, the U.S. Department of Defense’s spokesman, told reporters in Washington. Based on the assessment, with which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin concurs, the military assesses the transfer as “high-risk” and will not carry it out, at least for now.

The proposal from Poland was Polish officials would transfer jets to the United States, which could then send the jets to Ukraine. Poland’s government also called on NATO allies to send jets to U.S. bases. But U.S. officials quickly rejected the proposal, though they had not detailed the intelligence assessment until Wednesday. Kirby also framed the decision as in Ukraine’s best interests, arguing that Ukraine would benefit more in the conflict with Russia by receiving anti-armor and air defense weapons. While Russia’s air force has significant capabilities, air assaults have been met with resistance in the air and on the ground, according to U.S. officials. Additionally, the Ukrainian Air Force was also said to have several squadrons of fully capable aircraft already, and a U.S. assessment concluded “giving them more is not likely” to make a big impact, according to Kirby.

Austin conveyed the position to Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak in a call and also spoke with a top Ukraine official about similar matters. U.S. officials had previously said Poland was welcome to transfer planes to Ukraine directly and Kirby said each nation “can decide for themselves what they want to do.” Ukraine’s public position is that getting fighter jets would help tremendously against Russia, which invaded its neighbor on Feb. 24. “That’s absolutely the way we see it,” Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, said on Sky News on Wednesday when asked if jets would give Ukraine the advantage it needs.

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“..stabilize the market..”

Ukraine Bans Exports Of Wheat, Oats And Other Food Staples (AP)

Ukraine’s government has banned the export of wheat, oats and other staples that are crucial for global food supplies as authorities try to ensure they can feed people during Russia’s intensifying war. New rules on agricultural exports introduced this week also prohibit the export of millet, buckwheat, sugar, live cattle, and meat and other “byproducts” from cattle, according to a government announcement. The export ban is needed to prevent a “humanitarian crisis in Ukraine,” stabilize the market and “meet the needs of the population in critical food products,” Roman Leshchenko, Ukraine’s minister of agrarian and food policy, said in a statement posted on the government website and his Facebook page.


It’s the latest sign that the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens the food supply and livelihoods of people in Europe, Africa and Asia who rely on the farmlands of the Black Sea region — known as the “breadbasket of the world.” Russia and Ukraine together supply nearly a third of the world’s wheat and barley exports, which have soared in price since the invasion. The products they send are made into bread, noodles and animal feed around the world, and any shortages could create food insecurity in places like Egypt and Lebanon. The export ban will likely reduce global food supplies just when prices are at their highest level since 2011.

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The start.

Iraqis Protest Rise In Food Prices, Officials Blame Ukraine War (AlJ)

Protests have erupted in Iraq’s impoverished south over a rise in food prices that officials attributed to the conflict in Ukraine. For about a week, the price of cooking oils and flour have skyrocketed in local markets as government officials have sought to address growing anger with various statements and measures. More than 500 protesters gathered on Wednesday in a central square in the southern city of Nasiriya – a flashpoint of anti-corruption protests that gripped the country in 2019. “The rise in prices is strangling us, whether it is bread or other food products,” retired teacher Hassan Kazem told AFP news agency. “We can barely make ends meet.” On Tuesday, the Iraqi government announced measures to confront the increase in international prices.


These included a monthly allowance of about $70 for pensioners whose incomes do not exceed one million dinars (almost $700), as well as civil servants earning less than 500,000 dinars ($343). The authorities also announced the suspension of customs duties on food products, basic consumer goods and construction materials for two months. Trade ministry spokesman Mohamed Hanoun attributed the rise in cooking-oil prices to the conflict in Ukraine. “There’s a major global crisis because Ukraine has a large share of [the world market in cooking] oils,” he said. On Tuesday, a protester was seriously injured in a demonstration in the central province of Babil that was marred by violence, a security source said. The interior ministry announced it had arrested 31 people accused of “raising the prices of food commodities and abusing citizens”. A protester in Nasiriya on Wednesday denounced the “greed of traders who manipulate prices”.

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“This is the beast that Putin is,” Pelosi said.

Dems Drop Covid-19 Funds, Clear Way For OK Of $13.6b Ukraine Aid (AP)

The House approved a massive spending bill Wednesday night that would rush $13.6 billion in U.S. aid to battered Ukraine and its European allies, after top Democrats were forced to abruptly drop their plan to include fresh funds to battle COVID-19. Passage of the Ukraine aid and the $1.5 trillion government-wide legislation carrying it let both parties lay claim to election-year victories for their priorities. Democrats won treasured domestic initiatives, Republicans achieved defense boosts, and both got their imprint on funds to counter Russia’s brutal invasion of its western neighbor. Senate approval was assured by week’s end or perhaps slightly longer.

Hours earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had to abandon the bill’s $15.6 billion for combating the pandemic, a decision she called “heartbreaking” and that spelled defeat for a top priority of President Joe Biden and party leaders. The money was mostly to bolster U.S. supplies of vaccines, treatments and tests and battle the disease around the world, but a Democratic revolt over Republican-demanded state aid cuts to cover the new initiatives’ costs forced her to scrap that spending. “We’ve got a war going on in Ukraine,” Pelosi told reporters, explaining the urgency Democrats felt in making concessions in bargaining with Republicans. “We have important work that we’re doing here.” She said with her party in the 50-50 Senate needing at least 10 GOP votes to pass legislation, Democrats “are going to have to know there has to be compromise.”

The House approved the overall bill in two separate votes. The measure’s security programs were overwhelmingly approved by 361-69, the rest by 260-171, with most Republicans opposed. The Ukraine aid included $6.5 billion for the U.S. costs of sending troops and weapons to Eastern Europe and equipping allied forces there in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion and bellicose threats. There was another $6.8 billion to care for refugees and provide economic aid to allies, and more to help federal agencies enforce economic sanctions against Russia and protect against cyber threats at home. Biden had requested $10 billion for Ukraine.

Pelosi said she talked to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for 45 minutes Wednesday. She said they discussed the weapons and other assistance his country needs and “the crimes against humanity that Putin is committing,” including a Russian airstrike that destroyed a maternity hospital. “This is the beast that Putin is,” Pelosi said. While enmity toward Putin and a desire to send assistance to the region is virtually universal in Congress, lawmakers have had a harder time finding unity on other steps. In one area where both parties were eager to demonstrate action, the House voted 414-17 to banning Russian oil imports, a prohibition that Biden imposed this week.

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“..the case fatality rate in Hong Kong is 16 times HIGHER than in the US..”

Bad News from Hong Kong (Chudov)

Something very strange is happening in Hong Kong. I am not the first to write about it, but I wanted to do a good job compiling the information and informing my readers so this post is somewhat complete. I will include additional reading below. Hong Kong’s stringent “Zero Covid” policy, stopped to work in mid-February and a “wall of cases” curve exploded in the territory. Now, we have seen such “walls of cases” before, but nothing close ever happened to deaths. You can see that deaths per million in Hong Kong are basically three TIMES the highest death rate in the US or Israel. Cases between Feb 13-Feb 17: 18,493 Deaths between Feb 28-March 4: 895 Calculated Case Fatality Rate: 4.83%

The relevant case fatality rate in the US for our recent Omicron peak is roughly 0.3%, or 16 TIMES lower. Slow down and let it sink in: the case fatality rate in Hong Kong is 16 times HIGHER than in the US. That should make you curious. Hong Kong is vaccinated just as much as the United States or Israel, sitting closely between them. Clearly, something else is in play and not the vaccine. Just as cases and deaths in HK skyrocketed, a new sub-variant called “BA.2 + S:I1221T” has taken over. Not much is known about that variant, other than it is minimal elsewhere. Every Hong Konger who is diagnosed with Covid must be taken away and isolated for 21 days in a very bleak and sad place called “Penny Bay”, where they do not even have working wi-fi.

This, naturally, creates an incentive to NOT report a case of Covid and hide out at home with working wi-fi, for those lucky enough to be able to do it. This creates a bias of healthy people with mild cases not being reported, and may explain a part of high mortality. Here in the West, most people already had exposure to Covid. It is a mystery who gets infected first and why some people do not get Covid until later in the pandemic. It is possible that here in the US or UK, the least healthy people already caught Covid and some, sadly, died. Thus, subsequent waves seem to be less deadly, partly because several waves of Covid already went through the population, and some immunity already exists. Not so in HK, where everyone is now vulnerable.

While, so far, I have not seen any evidence of ADE affecting anyone, it is possible that such incredibly high mortality rates are due to ADE from this new variant. The S:i1221T mutation does change a spike amino acid and it is possible that vaccine spike antibodies are assisting infection instead of suppressing it. While it is still speculation, such a possibility need not be dismissed. Overall, Hong Kong is a story worth watching.

Remdesivir kills 26.9% of patients

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Hmmm .. what changed so dramatically? The polls?

Austria Scraps Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate (RTE)

Austria said it is suspending mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for all adults saying the pandemic no longer poses the same danger, just weeks after the law took effect in an EU first. The Alpine nation of nine million people was among few countries in the world to make jabs against the coronavirus compulsory for all adults. The law took effect in February and called for fines up to €3,600 from mid-March for those who do not comply. But minister Karoline Edtstadler said the law’s “encroachment of fundamental rights” could no longer be justified by the danger posed by the pandemic. “After consultations with the health minister, we have decided that we will of course follow what the (expert) commission has said,” Ms Edtstadler told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.


“We see no need to actually implement this compulsory vaccination due to the (Omicron) variant that we are predominantly experiencing here.” The highly-contagious variant is widely believed to be less severe than previous strains of the virus, and so far Austrian hospitals have been able to cope with a surge in cases. This has led to the government to drop most coronavirus restrictions in recent weeks. The government has stressed it needs to act flexibly in line with the epidemiological situation. “Just like the virus keeps on changing, we need to be flexible and adaptable,” Ms Edtstadler said. The decision to suspend the law will be reviewed in three months, said Johannes Rauch, who took over as health minister this week as the third since the start of the pandemic.

Synthetic RNA

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“..in both cities he regularly invited Ukrainian singers and conductors because “we never even thought about our nationalities. We were enjoying making music together.”

Bolshoi Conductor Resigns Over Free Speech Controversy (Turley)

Now that assault on free speech has reached the highest levels of ballet after Tugan Sokhiev, the chief conductor at Bolshoi Theatre and the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, resigned rather than be coerced into such public statements. The Munich Philharmonic also dismissed chief conductor Valery Gergiev after he failed to condemn the invasion. Sokhiev is one of the most celebrated and respected conductors in the world. He also happens to be Russian. For many, his musical contributions became secondary when he failed to publicly condemn Putin. They demanded that he speak or resign. He resigned. Sokhiev wrote on Facebook “during last few days I witnessed something I thought I would never see in my life. In Europe, today I am forced to make a choice and choose one of my musical family over the other.”

As we previously discussed, it is during wartime and periods of social discord that the greatest abuses can occur for those with dissenting or unpopular views. Despite my strong support for Ukraine and condemnation of Putin, it is important for advocates of civil liberties and free speech to stand against such blacklisting and compelled speech. For many, this is hardly a new movement. For years, powerful politicians, academics, and even some in the media have demanded more censorship. This move against Russian performers and athletes may draw the unwitting into this anti-free speech movement. The response to those of us who are raising concerns is the same and predictable. You are called an apologist for Putin or a traitor to the cause. It is an effort to create a glacial chilling effect on dissenting voices.

Once again, it is important to address the rationalization on the left for attacks on free speech in recent years: the First Amendment only protects speech from government crackdowns. The First Amendment is not the full or exclusive embodiment of free speech. It addresses just one of the dangers to free speech posed by government regulation. Many of us view free speech as a human right. Corporate censorship of social media clearly impacts free speech, and replacing Big Brother with a cadre of Little Brothers actually allows for far greater control of free expression. As I have noted earlier, while liberal writers and artists were blacklisted and investigated in the 1950s, liberal activists have succeeded in censoring opposing views to an unprecedented degree in recent years. Rather than burn books, they have simply gotten stores to ban them or blacklist the authors, athletes, and artists.

Figures like the great singer Paul Robeson found themselves barred from performances due to their refusal to condemn others or Russia. Some, however, are not intimidated but rather incensed by the attack on free speech. In the meantime, at least one opera lover is boycotting the Met after it cancelled another great Russian artist for not publicly reciting the official line against Putin. I recently received the attached letter from a donor at the Met who stated that he was changing his will over the controversy involving soprano Anna Netrebko. He would no longer leave his estate to the Met and pledged to stop his regular contributions to the institution. As for Sokhiev, he noted that in both cities he regularly invited Ukrainian singers and conductors because “we never even thought about our nationalities. We were enjoying making music together.”

The response from the mayor of Toulouse, Jean-Luc Moudenc, was particularly telling. While denying that they demanded that Sokhiev “make a choice between his native country and his beloved city of Toulouse,” the mayor added: “However, it was unthinkable to imagine that he would remain silent in the face of the war situation, both vis-à-vis the musicians and the public and the community.” It is not “unthinkable.” He may support the invasion or fear for himself or his family in opposing this tyrant. It does not matter his reasons. He should have a right to hold opposing views or to remain silent. What is unthinkable is that artists are being blacklisted for refusing to recite political statements like some reeducation camp in the Cultural Revolution. It is a curious way to fight tyranny by denying free speech.

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It’s like a cartoon now.

Wales Bans Tchaikovsky (SD)

The Cardiff Philharmonic has cancelled an all-Tchaikovsky programme as ‘inappropriate at this time’. The concert included his decidedly apolitical second symphony, known as the Little Russian. The orchestra says: ‘: In light of the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra, with the agreement of St David’s Hall, feel the previously advertised programme including the 1812 Overture to be inappropriate at this time. The orchestra hope you will continue to support them and enjoy the revised programme.’


This is unutterably stupid. At the start of the First World War, the Proms conductor Sir Henry Wood informed the British government that he would continue performing Wagner and other Germans. The same rule prevailed in the Hitler war. Only the Nazis ever banned Tchaikovsky. Welcome to Cardiff 2022.

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Elon Musk tweet

 

 

Nate Hagens Human superorganism

 

 

 

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Oct 282021
 
 October 28, 2021  Posted by at 7:19 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  74 Responses »


M. C. Escher Drawing hands1948

 

Fauci’s NIH Also Funded Medical Experiments on AIDS Orphans in NYC (GP)
Congress Didn’t Give OSHA Authority to Impose Vaccine Mandates (HF)
Japan Drops Vax Rollout, Goes To Ivermectin, Ends Covid Almost Overnight (HTRS)
Two Indian Drugmakers to End Trials of Generic Merck Pill (R.)
Minnesota Surgeon Fired After Saying Parents Should Decide On Kids’ Masks (JTN)
Instagram Censors Popular Animal Rescuer for Slamming Fauci (GP)
Revolt of the Essential Workers (Tab)
Biden’s Nominee Omarova Wants to Move All Bank Deposits to the Fed (Martens)
China Cannot Offset Its Property Bubble Easily (Lacalle)
EU Fines Poland €1 Million Per Day Over Judicial Reforms (DW)
Pfizer Vaccine To Lower Child Deaths From Almost Zero To Almost Zero (BBee)

 

 

 

 

Wait, so we can’t use Ivermectin because “We don’t have enough data,” But..
“Let’s vaccinate children to see how safe the vaccine is because we don’t have enough data.”

 

 

Tucker FDA

 

 

 

 

Such a fine man.

Fauci’s NIH Also Funded Medical Experiments on AIDS Orphans in NYC (GP)

In August Gateway Pundit contributor Cassandra Fairbanks broke the story on Dr. Fauci’s use of taxpayer money to torture beagles in barbaric animal testing. Dr. Fauci funded a study in Tunisia where beagle dogs were eaten alive by parasite-infected flies. Dr. Fauci also spent over $16 million in taxpayer funds on disturbing “toxic brain injection” experiments on monkeys in 2018. And Dr. Fauci was more recently caught funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China laboratory blamed for the production and leak of the coronavirus. Fauci lied about his funding of the lab under oath numerous times. Now this… Dr. Fauci’s NIH was also caught funding experiments on AIDS orphans at a New York City hospital in 2004.

The Fauci NIH approved experiments on hundreds of New York City orphans. Government agencies and pharmaceutical companies used the orphans in deadly AIDS drug trials. In 2005, the city of New York hired the VERA Institute to form a final report on the drug trials. VERA was given no access to medical records for any of the children used in trials. Their report was published in 2008. They reported that twenty-five children died during the drug studies, that an additional fifty-five children died following the studies (in foster care), and, according to Tim Ross, Director of the Child Welfare program at VERA (as of 2009), 29% of the remaining 417 children who were used in drug studies had died (out of a total 532 children that are admitted to have been used). [LINK]

The WIKIPEDIA writers cover up all details, as is expected. No payment or compensation has been paid to any of the children used in the trials, or to their families. A hospital nurse later spoke out to reporters about the testing. She reported that children would immediately get sick, break out or throw up during the testing. They were orphans at the Incarnation Children’s Center in New York City. The ICC Investigation website offers several documents and interviews with children and childcare workers at the hospital who participated in the research.

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“OSHA will issue the order. And then get sued.”

Congress Didn’t Give OSHA Authority to Impose Vaccine Mandates (HF)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is about to require 80 million working Americans to get vaccinated. You may be among them. There’s just one catch: OSHA lacks the legal authority to impose a vaccine mandate. Declaring that his patience was “wearing thin” with unvaccinated Americans, President Joe Biden on Sept. 9 announced that OSHA would require companies with at least 100 employees to mandate that workers either get vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 tests. OSHA sent a draft mandate to the White House on Oct. 8. Once the White House completes its review, OSHA will issue the order. And then get sued. As we detail in our legal analysis, the courts will almost certainly strike down the OSHA vaccine mandate. Here are a few reasons why:

Congress did not place vaccines within OSHA’s purview. OSHA is establishing the vaccine mandate through an “emergency temporary standard.” This highly unusual process allows OSHA to bypass public notice and comment. Federal agencies, including OSHA, typically must submit major rules to public scrutiny before finalizing them. To take the “emergency temporary standard” shortcut, the agency must persuade a court that workers are in “grave danger” and that it is “necessary” to protect them against that danger. The “grave danger” that an emergency temporary standard must address must come from “exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or new hazards.” A toxic substance or agent is a poisonous element or compound. A substance or agent can be “physically harmful” because it is flammable, explosive, or carcinogenic.

The danger a virus causes, by contrast, derives from its ability to replicate within a living organism. Congress created OSHA to promote workplace safety. OSHA inspectors look for hazards that can potentially harm employees, such as improperly stored chemicals, inadequately lighted or ventilated workstations, or lack of protective equipment (e.g., gloves and hard hats). Vaccines against viruses are an entirely different form of protection and are beyond the scope of OSHA’s mandate. Congress tasked the Department of Health and Human Services with determining the safety, efficacy, and appropriate use of vaccines. Congress authorized the Food and Drug Administration to determine whether vaccines should be allowed in interstate commerce. It empowered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend who should receive such vaccines. Both agencies are within HHS. OSHA resides in the Department of Labor. Congress has given neither OSHA nor the Labor Department authority over vaccines.

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Are US, EU even studying this?

Japan Drops Vax Rollout, Goes To Ivermectin, Ends Covid Almost Overnight (HTRS)

The European Medicines Agency said Thursday that new preliminary data from the Nordic countries supports a warning the agency adopted in July that inflammatory heart conditions called myocarditis and pericarditis can occur in very rare cases following vaccination with Covid-19 shots made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. By far, however, the absolute superstar among foreign nations dealing with COVID is Japan. Japan has PULLED the vaccines and substituted Ivermectin – and in one month, wiped COVID out in that country! [..] By September deaths from the COVID-19 Vaccine jabs were being investigated. At roughly that time, the vials were under scrutiny and metal “magnetic” material was found in them.


Very shortly thereafter, the Japanese minister of health announced doctors could prescribe Ivermectin. A month later, the Western press is shocked that COVID has all but disappeared from the island. [..] This is what it looks like in a country that still has rule of law. The governemnt responds to reports of death and contaminated vaxes, moves to real treatment, people get better, and the virus disappears. Now compare that to what is happening in the United States and in Australia and New Zealand. All three countries are in dismal failure in their handling of COVID-19, and that failure has resulted in staggering loss of freedom and destruction of commerce. This is the biggest news story right now Japan has ended COVID. It did it after it stopped the vax rollout and went to Ivermectin.

Rogan IVM

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Why do they call it generic?

Two Indian Drugmakers to End Trials of Generic Merck Pill (R.)

Two Indian drugmakers have requested permission to end late-stage trials of their generic versions of Merck & Co’s promising experimental oral antiviral drug molnupiravir to treat moderate COVID-19, a week after Merck said its own trial had succeeded for mild-to-moderate patients. Merck earlier this year suspended its own development of molnupiravir as a treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients since many of them have reached a phase of the disease that is too late for an antiviral drug to provide much help. The Indian companies – Aurobindo Pharma Ltd and MSN Laboratories – did not exclude hospitalized patients in designing their moderate COVID-19 trials, according to study documents, although it was not known if the trials ultimately included people in the hospital.

Merck spokesperson Melissa Moody said Merck and the Indian companies had defined “moderate” disease differently. Merck’s trials are based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration definitions, which for moderate COVID-19 describe blood oxygen levels as no lower than 93%. It defines blood oxygen levels for severe COVID-19 as 93% or lower. The trials in India define moderate COVID-19 blood oxygen levels as 90% to 93%, according to the trial documents for the two companies.Aurobindo and MSN are continuing to conduct studies of molnupiravir in patients with mild COVID-19 who have not been hospitalized, according to trial documents and the website of the Indian drug regulator’s internal expert committee.

Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics last week said molnupiravir had nearly halved the risk of hospitalization or death in at-risk non-hospitalized patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, results hailed by experts as potentially a major advance in fight against the illness. The Indian drug regulator’s committee also disclosed on its website that Aurobindo and MSN had presented interim clinical trial data for moderate COVID-19 patients and asked to end the trials.

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“.. it’s still their responsibility. It’s not yours. God gave it to them. Honor their wishes, either side of the fence.”

Minnesota Surgeon Fired After Saying Parents Should Decide On Kids’ Masks (JTN)

A Minnesota surgeon was fired from his job earlier this month for giving a speech to school officials in which he advocated for parents to decide whether their children should wear masks. According to Fox News, Dr. Jeffrey Horak spoke before the Fergus Falls School Board on Oct. 11, arguing that parents should have the final decision concerning the health of their children. Dr. Horak’s comments were in response to a district-wide mask mandate that went into effect the day prior. “Who does God put in charge of these kids? Their parents,” Horak said during the meeting. “God gave each one of these kids… to their parents and they speak for them. They may be wrong, they may be dumb, they may be perfect in their decisions. But it’s still their responsibility. It’s not yours. God gave it to them. Honor their wishes, either side of the fence.”


Horak reportedly said that more than a week later, he was dismissed from his position at Lake Region Healthcare because his “views were no longer congruent” with that of the hospital. A spokesperson for Lake Region confirmed that Horak no longer works there as of Wednesday. The spokesperson went on to say that Lake Region’s didn’t make the decision concerning Horak’s employment, rather it was the “Medical Group Board who made the decision about discontinuing Dr. Horak’s practice.”

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Fauci is a protected species.

Instagram Censors Popular Animal Rescuer for Slamming Fauci (GP)

Instagram has censored the founder of SPARTN Monkey Rescue for blasting Dr. Anthony Fauci over experimental COVID vaccines being injected into sanctuary primates. Michael Robison, a primate expert and rescuer, had stated that Fauci “just helped fund a $37M experimental vaccine trial on 77 chimps via a partnership with Zoetis/Pfizer at a Georgia sanctuary!” “Chimps that were rescued from this mess and other abuse… are now part of the largest animal testing trial in history at his guidance,” Robison continued. Robison added that the use of the experimental vaccines in these rescued primates is a violation of the Endangered Species Act and the CHIMPS Act, both of which are federal laws, “for a version of the vaccine meant for kids!”

The comments were flagged by Instagram for possibly “containing racist language or other content that goes against our community guidelines.” Robison is a well-respected rescuer who has developed quite a following on social media for his charming videos of monkeys and other animals that he has saved. Robison was also recently censored on Twitter for speaking out about his own regrets about getting the vaccine after suffering severe side effects — making his desire to defend the chimps even more urgent. As Gateway Pundit previously reported, one of the largest vaccine testing trials in history will be taking place at Project Chimps — a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals allied “sanctuary” for great apes. Project Chimps was founded in 2014 following the end of National Institutes of Health funding for biomedical research on these animals.

“About 70% of the chimpanzees at Project Chimps have been trained to receive voluntary injections, and the staff is working on preparing the rest,” Science Magazine reports. The nonhuman COVID-19 vaccine was created by Zoetis, a U.S. company that was originally the animal division of Pfizer. It has only been authorized for experimental use in animals. Testing experimental vaccines on these chimps, many of whom were already used for animal research in the past, does appear to be a direct violation of the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Management and Protection (CHIMP) Act and the Endangered Species Act. Under the CHIMP Act, which passed in 2007, chimpanzees that are retired from biomedical research are prohibited from being returned to laboratories or used for experimentation.

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Wishful thinking. They don’t even protest a jab for their kids.

Revolt of the Essential Workers (Tab)

Back before the COVID-19 pandemic started, the year 2019 saw anti-government demonstrations in Paris, Manila, La Paz, Port-au-Prince, Bogotá, Prague, Quito , Beirut, Hong Kong, London, Baghdad, Barcelona, Budapest, Santiago, New Delhi, Jakarta, Buenos Aires and more, earning the title “the year of the protest.” It was also a year of resurgent labor activity in the United States. After decades of declining union participation, the country saw 25 major work stoppages involving 425,500 workers, the highest number since 2001.

The economic discontent that propelled both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to popularity had been building for many years. As a recent article in the journal American Affairs noted, $34 trillion of real equity wealth, in 2017 dollars, was created between 1989 and 2017. Nearly half that sum (44%) consisted of a reallocation of corporate equity to shareholders at the expense of worker compensation, while economic growth accounted for just 25% of that increase in wealth. In other words, despite the advent of seemingly near-miraculous, time- and space-saving digital technologies, the post-Cold War “economic boom” consisted mainly of America’s wealthy shareholders taking money from its increasingly insecure workforce.

America, and other Western societies, had moved from a model of real growth and expanding benefits for all to a model where the rich got richer by impoverishing the less wealthy orders of society—and the lower orders were fighting back. However, after lockdowns were imposed in March 2020, the balance of power abruptly shifted back toward billionaire oligarchs and large corporations. Tech-based U.S. monopolies widened their profit margins as workers and their children were confined to their homes and the Fed pumped money into Wall Street. As the Fed provided unlimited purchases of corporate debt and securities, millions of people filed for unemployment, nearly 1 in 4 households experienced food insecurity, and 200,000 small businesses closed. The result was an estimated loss of $1.3 trillion in household wealth for American workers. Meanwhile, U.S. billionaires gained $1 trillion.

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Have nothing and be happy.

Biden’s Nominee Omarova Wants to Move All Bank Deposits to the Fed (Martens)

This month, the Vanderbilt Law Review published a 69-page paper by Saule Omarova, President Biden’s nominee to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal regulator of the largest banks in the country that operate across state lines. The paper is titled “The People’s Ledger: How to Democratize Money and Finance the Economy.” The paper, in all seriousness, proposes the following: (1) Moving all commercial bank deposits from commercial banks to so-called FedAccounts at the Federal Reserve; (2) Allowing the Fed, in “extreme and rare circumstances, when the Fed is unable to control inflation by raising interest rates,” to confiscate deposits from these FedAccounts in order to tighten monetary policy;

(3) Allowing the most Wall Street-conflicted regional Fed bank in the country, the New York Fed, when there are “rises in market value at rates suggestive of a bubble trend,” such as with technology stocks today, to “short these securities, thereby putting downward pressure on their prices”; (4) Eliminate the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) that insures bank deposits; (5) Consolidate all bank regulatory functions at the OCC – which Omarova has been nominated to head. Republican Senator Pat Toomey has been running a Red Scare campaign against Omarova, who was born in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (now Kazakhstan) and attended Moscow State University on a Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship.

The real threat that Omarova poses to U.S. financial stability, that Democrats should be calling out, is that she wants to further concentrate all major aspects of the U.S. banking system in the hands of the Federal Reserve, a captured regulator whose 12 regional bank tentacles are, literally, owned by the banks. Omarova offers not one scintilla of a suggestion about restructuring the Fed so that it is not owned by or controlled by the banks. In her paper, Omarova characterizes the current relationship between the Fed and the banks as the Fed running a “franchisor ledger” to assist its franchisee-banks.

But as the Fed’s secret $29 trillion bailout of the mega banks on Wall Street and their foreign derivative counterparties proved following the financial crash in 2008, it’s actually the banks that are cracking the whip and the Fed amicably doing their bidding. That means that the mega banks are the franchisor and they’ve shifted their faux bank examinations and faux stress tests to the Fed, for appearances sake. This point is further demonstrated by the fact that during the Fed’s 2007-2010 bailouts, most of the Fed’s emergency lending programs were farmed out in no-bid contracts to the very banks being bailed out. JPMorgan Chase, a five-count felon, continues to have a contract with the Fed to serve as custodian of more than $2 trillion of the Fed’s agency Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS).

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“..four times larger than China’s GDP.”

China Cannot Offset Its Property Bubble Easily (Lacalle)

No economy has been able to ignore a property bubble and, even less so, offset it and continue to grow, replacing the bust of the real estate sector with other parts of the economy. Heavily regulated economies from Iceland to Spain have failed to contain the negative impact of a real estate sector collapse. It will not be different in China. China has three real estate problems: the massive size of the sector, its excessive leverage, and the amount of developer debt in the hands of average households and retail investors. According to China researcher George Magnus, writing in The Guardian, “China’s real estate market has been called the most important sector in the world economy. Valued at about $55tn, it is now twice the size of its U.S. equivalent, and four times larger than China’s GDP.”

Considering construction and other real estate services, the sector accounts for more than 25 percent of China’s GDP. Just to consider other previous examples of property bubbles, the average size of the sector was somewhere between 15 and 20 percent of a country’s GDP. And none of those economies managed the excess of the property sector. Of course, the problem of a real estate bubble is always excessive leverage. Developers take on too much debt, and the smallest decrease in housing prices makes their equity vanish and their solvency ratios collapse. In the case of China, the level of debt is simply staggering. According to the Financial Times, the ratio of net debt of 19 of the largest Chinese developers stands at over 60 percent to equity. Evergrande is not even the most indebted.

Two developers stand at more than 120 percent net gearing. The top 10 most indebted Chinese developers amply surpass the level of debt-to-assets that made Spain’s Martinsa-Fadesa collapse. Chinese and foreign retail investors are also heavily exposed to the real estate and construction market. Evergrande was the biggest issuer of commercial paper, and developers’ debt was sold to small investors in different packages. Furthermore, Chinese families have around 78 percent of their wealth tied up in property, more than double the United States, according to a 2018 report by Chengdu’s Southwestern University of Finance and Economics and China Guangfa Bank.

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Bully. All your base are belong to us.

EU Fines Poland €1 Million Per Day Over Judicial Reforms (DW)

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ordered Poland to pay a fine of €1 million ($1.2 million) per day on Wednesday over its decision to ignore an EU ruling on Warsaw’s judicial reforms. The top EU court imposed the penalty as Poland has not suspended the disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court. The ECJ had ruled in July that the chamber did not guarantee impartiality. The ECJ said in a press release the fine was “necessary in order to avoid serious and irreparable harm to the legal order of the European Union and to the values on which that Union is founded, in particular that of the rule of law.” The European Commission had requested “financial penalties” be levied on September 9 after Poland failed to comply with the July ruling. On Twitter, Poland’s Deputy Justice Minister Sebastian Kaleta called the fine “usurpation and blackmail.”


The disciplinary chamber was set up in 2018 and is able to dismiss judges and prosecutors. The ECJ fears this could be abused to inflict punitive sanctions on those who show independence in not bowing to political will. Earlier this month, Poland’s constitutional court ruled Polish law supersedes EU law when there is a conflict between the two. Last week, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told the European Parliament the disciplinary chamber will be abolished, but he gave no timeline for when that would occur and no draft law has been introduced. Poland has been accused of backsliding when it comes to the independence of the judiciary and press freedom by other EU member states. The EU asserts Poland has politicized the judiciary with the placement of judges loyal to the ruling Law and Justice Party.

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“We’re excited to start giving it to them so we can find out.”

Pfizer Vaccine To Lower Child Deaths From Almost Zero To Almost Zero (BBee)

In a moment celebrated by all hard-working lobbyists, Pfizer announced that the COVID-19 vaccine will reduce average daily child COVID deaths from almost zero all the way down to almost zero. “These are phenomenal results. Our internal studies have proven a microscopic benefit to an even more microscopic risk to children,” stated Dee Pimbly, head of Pfizer’s Department of Propaganda to a crowd of journalists who have not allowed their own children to bask in the warm glow of sunlight, or interact with other children for almost no reason whatsoever.


FDA officials praised Pfizer for fighting a virus that is the leading killer of children after cancer, vehicular accidents, suicide, heart disease, drowning, suffocation, the flu, meteors from space, and slipping on a banana peel. Experts say the vaccine will probably kill more kids than it saves, but it’s ok because science. When asked about any safety concerns, an FDA official replied, “We’re excited to start giving it to them so we can find out.”

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Oct 082021
 
 October 8, 2021  Posted by at 8:58 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  56 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Swimming 1908

 

Why Is Pfizer Pushing An Untested Vaccine On Children? (TF)
Judge Orders Gov’t To Provide Evidence To Justify Vaccinating Children (TE)
Moderna: A Company “In Need Of A Hail Mary” (Whitney Webb)
Molnupiravir Was Made Possible By Government-funded Innovation (STAT)
Myocarditis Adverse Events in VAERS (SD)
Stop This NOW (Denninger)
The Cult of the Vaccine Neurotic (Taibbi)
The Problems With Censoring Doctors Over Their COVID-19 Stances (RCS)
Biden Keeps Pushing Nonexistent Worker Vaccine Mandate (CTH)
Poland’s Top Court Rules Polish Law Takes Presedence Over The EU (ZH)
Prosecution Of Alleged WikiLeaks Vault 7 Source Hits Multiple Roadblocks (Y!)

 

 

 

 

Biden speech

 

 

“Boys between 16 and 19 years of age had the highest incidence of myocarditis after the second dose . . . The risk of heart problems in boys of that age was about nine times higher than in unvaccinated boys of the same age.”

Why Is Pfizer Pushing An Untested Vaccine On Children? (TF)

The face of Pfizer – Pfizer board member (and former FDA commissioner) Scott Gottlieb, MD – was on CBS Face the Nation today estimating the upcoming availability of the Pfizer vaccine for kids aged 5-11. His key quote: “The FDA has said the review is going to be a matter of weeks, not months. . . that could give you a vaccine by Halloween.” Perhaps more concerning is the fact that Gottlieb is confident Pfizer will get FDA approval. This concern is based on the questionable safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine for kids aged 5-11, as well as questions over whether there is a need for an emergency use authorization for that segment of the American population.

Pfizer tested the vaccine on a small sample of “2,268 participants 5 to <12 years of age.” Pfizer concluded that the results demonstrated “strong immune response in this cohort of children one month after the second dose.” Pay attention to that last part: “one month after the second dose.” Is that it – is Pfizer pushing this vaccine on children after just one month of efficacy data? (The benefit of the emergency use authorization – studies can be limited.) By now it’s clear this is Pfizer’s pattern: they say the vaccine’s “duration of protection” is “unknown” while data demonstrates its effectiveness wanes over time. Compare the Comirnaty Fact Sheet to the latest reporting on the Pfizer vaccine: One would rightfully assume that the effectiveness of the vaccine will wane in children as it has done in other populations.

One would also be correct to assume this is the rationale for Pfizer to submit its current (one month) data to the FDA, hoping for approval from its friends in government before its study group shows the vaccine has diminishing returns. All that has to do with effectiveness. Now we get to the question of safety. This has always been a pandemic of the oldest among us. According to CDC data, children aged 5-14 years-old have accounted for only 161 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic. In comparison, this same group has experienced 194 pneumonia deaths. To put these numbers into perspective, the CDC cites over 530,000 COVID-19 deaths for the ages 65 years and up. As New York Magazine observed, “The Kids Were Safe from COVID the Whole Time.”

Those numbers are important when we start to look at the necessity of a vaccine for kids. As with all vaccines, there is a cost-benefit analysis that must be made: do the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the cost? (This is something the FDA and CDC have drilled to the American public – that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the costs.) Looking at the data, a 17 year-old teenager might properly disregard the vaccine while a 75 year-old might seriously consider it. This is expected. Considerations of costs and benefits get us to the safety of the vaccine for kids aged 5-12. Pfizer proudly announces the vaccine’s side effects for 5-12 year olds is “generally comparable to those observed in participants 16 to 25 years of age.” That’s not good. If you’ve been paying attention, you know why those numbers (ages 16-25) matter. It’s because young people – especially young men – in that age range have an increased risk of developing heart problems after the second Pfizer dose. The younger they are, the greater the risk: “Boys between 16 and 19 years of age had the highest incidence of myocarditis after the second dose . . . The risk of heart problems in boys of that age was about nine times higher than in unvaccinated boys of the same age.”

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“..since teens over the age of 15 had been given the Covid-19 vaccine deaths among the age group had increased by 47%..”

Judge Orders Gov’t To Provide Evidence To Justify Vaccinating Children (TE)

A Judge has ordered the UK Goverment to submit evidence that justifies Covid-19 vaccination of children, giving them a deadline of Monday 11th October. The order from The Hon. Mr Justice Jay is most welcome after we exclusively revealed Thursday 30th September that since teens over the age of 15 had been given the Covid-19 vaccine deaths among the age group had increased by 47% compared to the same period in 2020. We also then delved back into the Office for National Statistics data due to a suspicion we would find the majority of those deaths had been among teenage boys due to the risk of myocardtis, inflammation of the heart muscle, associated with the Pfizer vaccine and mainly occurring in younger males, as well as a correlation with a rise in emergency calls requesting an ambulance due to cardiac arrest, found in Public Health England data.

Unfortunately our fears were confirmed, as we exclusively revealed on Monday 4th October that deaths among teenage boys have increased by 63% in the UK since they started getting the Covid-19 vaccine. To add to that we then exclusively revealed on Tuesday 5th October that Chris Whitty’s decision to overrule the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and advise the Government to offer the Covid-19 vaccine to all healthy secondary school children, has so far led to a 400% increase in deaths among male children compared to the same period in 2020. (See here) However, people have been fighting in court to overturn the decision of the Chief Medical Officer for England that children should be given an experimental Covid-19 injection, but unfortunately to no avail so far.


The ‘Covid-19 Assembly’ and lawyer Francis Hoar had an application for an urgent hearing to pause the Covid-19 roll-out to under 18’s denied for a second time on September 2nd. The Claimants had asked for just half a day for the Court to listen to oral argument to consider whether to pause the roll out of injections of experimental mRNA vaccine technology, producing increasing reports of clotting and other adverse effects including death, still under emergency authorisation and never before given to humans, to the whole of the healthy population of children aged 12-17. The Court’s view was that to delay consideration of the Claimants’ application for 14 days to allow the government to prepare its response was not in fact a refusal. However, that delay had the practical effect of denying the urgent relief sought and left the full resources and machinery of the state to be put into gear.

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“..without the approval of its booster, which has caused great controversy even among the country’s top vaccine officials, Moderna faces a massive financial reckoning.”

Moderna: A Company “In Need Of A Hail Mary” (Whitney Webb)

Not only did the COVID-19 crisis obliterate hurdles that had previously prevented Moderna from taking a single product to market, it also dramatically reversed the company’s fortunes. Indeed, from 2016 right up until the emergence of COVID-19, Moderna could barely hold it together, as it was shedding key executives, top talent, and major investors at an alarming rate. Essentially, Moderna’s promise of “revolutionizing” medicine and the remarkable salesmanship and fund-raising capabilities of the company’s top executive, Stéphane Bancel, were the main forces keeping it afloat. In the years leading up to the COVID-19 crisis, Moderna’s promises—despite Bancel’s efforts—rang increasingly hollow, as the company’s long-standing penchant for extreme secrecy meant that—despite nearly a decade in business—it had never been able to definitively prove that it could deliver the “revolution” it had continually assured investors was right around the corner.

This was compounded by major issues with patents held by a hostile competitor that threatened Moderna’s ability to turn a profit on anything it might manage to take to market, as well as major issues with its mRNA delivery system that led them to abandon any treatment that would require more than one dose because of toxicity concerns. The latter issue, though largely forgotten and/or ignored by media today, should be a major topic in the COVID-19 booster debate, given that there is still no evidence that Moderna ever resolved the toxicity issue that arose in multi-dose products.

In this first installment of a two-part series, the dire situation in which Moderna found itself immediately prior to the emergence of COVID-19 is discussed in detail, revealing that Moderna—very much like the now disgraced company Theranos—had long been a house of cards with sky-high valuations completely disconnected from reality. Part 2 will explore how that reality would have come crashing down sometime in 2020 or 2021 were it not for the advent of the COVID-19 crisis and Moderna’s subsequent partnership with the US government and the highly unusual processes involving its vaccine’s development and approval. Despite the emergence of real-world data challenging the claims that Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, Moderna’s booster is being rushed through by some governments, while others have recently banned the vaccine’s use in young adults and teens due to safety concerns.

As this two-part series will show, safety concerns about Moderna were known well before the COVID crisis, yet they have been ignored by health authorities and the media during the crisis itself. In addition, in order to stave off collapse, Moderna must keep selling its COVID-19 vaccine for years to come. In other words, without the approval of its booster, which has caused great controversy even among the country’s top vaccine officials, Moderna faces a massive financial reckoning. While the COVID-19 crisis threw the company a lifeboat, the administration of its COVID-19 vaccine, in which the US government has now invested nearly $6 billion, must continue into the foreseeable future for the bailout to be truly successful.

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Yup, it’s a horse drug. Priceless.

Barron’s behind paywall:
Beware of the new Merck drug: Wall Street Cheered Merck’s Covid Pill. Some Scientists Are Highlighting Its Potential Dangers. Researchers say the drug could integrate itself into patients’ DNA, theoretically leading to cancer. Merck says its tests show that isn’t an issue.

Molnupiravir Was Made Possible By Government-funded Innovation (STAT)

The story behind molnupiravir is intriguing and a testament to government-funded innovation. Molnupiravir, also known as EIDD-2801 or MK-4482, came out of Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE), a not-for-profit LLC owned by Emory University. It had previously demonstrated broad-spectrum activity against other viruses such as influenza, Ebola, and the Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus. The work goes back to 2004, when Emory researchers were studying a related compound known as EIDD-1931/NHC. Before it was tested for Covid-19, EIDD-2801 had accrued millions of dollars of federal funding. In 2019, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) gave the Emory Institute for Drug Development a $16 million contract to test the drug for influenza.

It had previously garnered funding from several other NIAID grants, as well as funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), as disclosed by Emory. When attention turned to Covid-19, Emory received pledges of more than $30 million from NIAID and the Department of Defense to cover development of the drug. Jumping on an opportunity to develop a promising drug therapy for Covid-19, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics licensed the drug from DRIVE in March 2020. Ridgeback was founded by Wayne and Wendy Holman, both former investment managers. Within just three months, Ridgeback licensed worldwide rights for EIDD-2801 for Covid-19 to Merck, for which Ridgeback received an undisclosed upfront payment plus milestone payments and shared profits.

But before signing on with Merck, Ridgeback had tried to negotiate a deal with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), one that was specifically mentioned in the explosive whistleblower complaint by Rick Bright, the former director of BARDA. In his complaint, Bright wrote that George Painter, the CEO of the Emory Institute for Drug Development, and Ridgeback cofounder Wendy Holman sought a contract first from ASPR Next and then from BARDA to develop EIDD-2801 for $100 million, and they personally lobbied the authority to get more financial aid. BARDA denied the request due to a lack of adequate documentation for the request. Even before 2020, Bright had been reluctant to give BARDA funding to EIDD-2801, saying they already had $30 million of support from NIAID and the Department of Defense.

Merck eventually backed Ridgeback and took on development of the drug. Molnupiravir then received even more federal funding: In September 2021, BARDA procured 1.7 million courses of the five-day regimen for $1.2 billion, or $700 per treatment course.

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Exhaustive study by Jessica Rose and Peter McCullough.

Myocarditis Adverse Events in VAERS (SD)

The fact that the VAERS reporting of myocarditis is 6X higher in 15-year-olds following dose 2 may be indicative of a cause-effect relationship. If we assume that following dose 1, a certain percentage of healthy young males who lack co-morbidities or co-factors experience cardiac-related AEs mild enough so as not to dissuade them from receiving dose 2 (ie: pallor, chest pain and shortness of breath, for example), then it is not difficult to imagine that they may have been experiencing symptoms of myocarditis. If a percentage of young males had experienced primary damage to the heart as a result of inflammation following dose 1, then dose 2 may have induced a much more noticeable clinical impact, or cardiac ‘insult’.


In other words, these young males may receive a definitive diagnosis of myocarditis only following dose 2. What this implies, based on these assumptions, is that if there is a causal relationship then it might manifest with overlooked/unreported AEs following dose 1 and a diagnosis of myocarditis following dose 2. It is noteworthy that ‘Vaccine-induced myocarditis’ was in fact used as the descriptor by medical professionals as the reason for the myocarditis in the VAERS database. During phase III clinical trials for the mRNA COVID-19 products, safety was assessed based on a maximum observation period of 6 months. This is not adequate to assess long-term safety outcomes as it is a requirement, even in an accelerated timeline setting, to spend up to 9 months in Phase III trials.

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Karl’s take on that study.

Stop This NOW (Denninger)

VAERS is known to materially under-report adverse events. We do not know what the multiplication factor for these findings is as a consequence of that. Note that in the context of all prior years this basically never happens statistically. The average over the three previous years associated with any vaccination is four. Further, an extraordinary level of cardiac adverse events are associated with these jabs. This is not uncommon or “rare” as claimed; there are in fact, as of July 9th, nearly 130,000 such reports for Covid-19 jabs. If we accept the CDC’s numbers for the number of Americans jabbed this puts the rate of cardiac adverse events are right around one in a hundred! What’s nasty is that while the myocarditis incidence is skewed heavily toward males under 30 the cardiac incidence is not; it is centered in the 20-70 range, or roughly “right up the middle” for the people in the nation as a whole.

Indeed, given the known under-reporting in VAERS a 1-in-100 incidence for a category of serious adverse events is extraordinarily significant. There is every reason to believe we may be causing cardiac injury to as many as one in 25 people who get these shots! Whether those injuries spontaneously resolve without permanent compromise or worse, degenerate progression is completely unknown as nobody is following up these individual cases to measure blood levels (e.g. troponins, EKGs, etc.) in an attempt to determine whether these events are transient or result in permanent impairment or worse. “The only way to understand how common myocarditis is after COVID-19 vaccination, is to perform a prospective cohort study where all vaccinated individuals undergo clinical assessment, ECG, and troponin measurement at regular intervals post-administration.”

Which is not being done, on purpose. Incidentally the markers indicating potential trouble were present in the original studies. They were not followed up and the reason for not doing is obvious: It would have prevented issuance of the EUAs on the original desired schedule. As a result the firms involved and the FDA deliberately ignored that signal in the original studies and we have now jabbed somewhere around 200 million Americans — and may have screwed as many as several million of them with irreversible, or even worse degenerate cardiac damage. We do not know because we intentionally did not look. “COVID-19 injectable products are novel and have a genetic, pathogenic mechanism of action causing uncontrolled expression of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein within human cells. When you combine this fact with the temporal relationship of AE occurrence and reporting, biological plausibility of cause and effect, and the fact that these data are internally and externally consistent with emerging sources of clinical data, it supports a conclusion that the COVID-19 biological products are deterministic for the myocarditis cases observed after injection.”

Again, as we knew and as I have documented before these jabs were first released for widespread use — and again, deliberately ignored. While this paper describes a specific risk with regard to myocarditis in young people the larger issue of cardiac events must not be ignored. While it is certainly true that it in healthy young people the risk from Covid-19 infection itself is minuscule and thus appears on the data to be outweighed by the risks of the jab even without accounting for incomplete reporting in my opinion the 900lb Gorilla in the china shop does not simply lie there.

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It’s a sales job. Always has been.

The Cult of the Vaccine Neurotic (Taibbi)

Yesterday, I ran a story that had nothing to do with vaccines, about the seeming delay of the development of a drug called molnupiravir (see the above segment with the gracious hosts of The Hill: Rising for more). In the time it took to report and write that piece, conventional wisdom turned against the drug, which is now suspected of ivermectinism and other deviationist, anti-vax tendencies, in the latest iteration of our most recent collective national mania — the Cult of the Vaccine Neurotic. The speed of the change was incredible. Just a week ago, on October 1st, the pharmaceutical giant Merck issued a terse announcement that quickly became big news. Molnupiravir, an experimental antiviral drug, “reduced the risk of hospitalization or death” of Covid-19 patients by as much as 50%, according to a study.

The “first draft of history” stories that rushed out in the ensuing minutes and hours were almost uniformly positive. AP called the news a “potentially major advance in efforts to fight the pandemic,” while National Geographic quoted a Yale specialist saying, “Having a pill that would be easy for people to take at home would be terrific.” Another interesting early reaction came from Time: Vaccines will be the way out of the pandemic, but not everyone around the world is immunized yet, and the shots aren’t 100% effective in protecting people from getting infected with the COVID-19 virus. So antiviral drug treatments will be key to making sure that people who do get infected don’t get severely ill. This is what news looks like before propagandists get their hands on it. Time writer Alice Park’s lede was sensible and clear. If molnupiravir works — a big if, incidentally — it’s good news for everyone, since not everyone is immunized, and the vaccines aren’t 100% effective anyway. As even Vox put it initially, molnupiravir could “help compensate for persistent gaps in Covid-19 vaccination coverage.”

Within a day, though, the tone of coverage turned. Writers began stressing a Yeah, but approach, as in, “Any new treatment is of course good, but get your fucking shot.” A CNN lede read, “A pill that could potentially treat Covid-19 is a ‘game-changer,’ but experts are emphasizing that it’s not an alternative to vaccinations.” The New York Times went with, “Health officials said the drug could provide an effective way to treat Covid-19, but stressed that vaccines remained the best tool.” If you’re thinking it was only a matter of time before the mere fact of molnupiravir’s existence would be pitched in headlines as actual bad news, you’re not wrong: Marketwatch came out with “‘It’s not a magic pill’: What Merck’s antiviral pill could mean for vaccine hesitancy” the same day Merck issued its release. The piece came out before we knew much of anything concrete about the drug’s effectiveness, let alone whether it was “magic.”

Bloomberg’s morose “No, the Merck pill won’t end the pandemic” was released on October 2nd, i.e. one whole day after the first encouraging news of a possible auxiliary treatment whose most ardent supporters never claimed would end the pandemic. This article said the pill might be cause to celebrate, but warned its emergence “shouldn’t be cause for complacency when it comes to the most effective tool to end this pandemic: vaccines.” Bloomberg randomly went on to remind readers that the unrelated drug ivermectin is a “horse de-worming agent,” before adding that if molnupiravir ends up “being viewed as a solution for those who refuse to vaccinate,” the “Covid virus will continue to persist.”

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“Your hospital is reluctant to change their well-established protocols. Most of your intubated patients are dying. What do you do?”

The Problems With Censoring Doctors Over Their COVID-19 Stances (RCS)

Everyone has a right to their opinion. The question is: does everyone have a right to voice their opinion? Increasingly, in these strange times, it seems that we physicians have the right to voice only certain opinions, when it comes to discussing Covid-19. Wanting to hit the mute button on physicians who choose to challenge the public health narrative, especially in regard to vaccination for Covid-19, is understandably tempting. We carry a bit more authority than lawyers or statisticians when we share our thoughts about medical matters; and quite a few physicians seem to have little interest in toeing the party line. However, appealing as it might be to silence these voices, succumbing to the temptation of censorship might end up costing our society more than it gains.

Imagine this: you’re a physician in charge of opening an intensive care unit in New York City for Covid-19 patients in March 2020 as the disease is tearing through the city. You notice that the standard protocols your hospital follows for intubated patients seem to be failing, perhaps injuring, your patients with Covid-19. Rumblings from Chinese intensivists, and publications from Italian physician Luciano Gattitoni, imply that intubation and ventilator management should be reconsidered in this new disease. Your hospital is reluctant to change their well-established protocols. Most of your intubated patients are dying. What do you do? Dr Cameron Kyle-Sidell experienced this dilemma — and then posted a video on YouTube on March 31, 2020, watched nearly a million times, in which he described his experiences caring for Covid-19 patients in respiratory failure.

In the video, Kyle-Sidell shared that existing treatment protocols for patients with severe pneumonia did not seem to apply to Covid-19 patients with dangerously low oxygen levels — they could be intubated later, and their lungs were less stiff and required lower ventilation pressures, than typical severe pneumonia patients. His warning was part of an alarm that was raised by others, as well, which did indeed lead to a rapid shift in management of severely ill Covid-19 patients. He also ended up stepping down from his leadership of the ICU due to disagreement with hospital management; and some of those hundreds of thousands of viewers of his YouTube video concluded that his perhaps poorly-worded comparison of Covid-19 lung disease to high altitude sickness was cause to consider the pandemic a hoax.

Was Dr Kyle-Sidell a hero for sticking his neck out and challenging the prevailing dogma, in a sincere attempt to improve outcomes for severely ill Covid-19 patients? Or should his video have been censored, and perhaps his medical license threatened, for questioning the conventional narrative in ways that could be co-opted by conspiracy theorists?

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“..without an actual policy or regulation visibly in place, state attorneys general cannot file a lawsuit or request an injunction..”

Biden Keeps Pushing Nonexistent Worker Vaccine Mandate (CTH)

Joe Biden did it again today. A month after the first announcement, the White House occupant claimed again a Dept of Labor rule (via OSHA) is forthcoming, yet no such process appears to be taking place. This ploy now seems very purposeful, because without an actual policy or regulation visibly in place, state attorneys general cannot file a lawsuit or request an injunction. As long as Biden keeps threatening a DOL worker vaccination rule sometime in the future, many employers will take action to require worker vaccination. This seems to be the actual strategy; bolstered by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki caught off-guard last week when asked about it. Psaki had no idea how to answer the question about any OSHA activity not taking place.

Obviously Psaki didn’t expect the question, but it was also obvious that no background conversation had ever taken place amid the White House communication team. Perhaps responding to an awakening on that issue, Joe Biden gave a speech today begging people to get vaccinated and again warning that a federal vaccine mandate for all workers was coming: TRANSCRIPT – […] The Labor Department is going to shortly issue an emergency rule — which I asked for several weeks ago, and they’re going through the process — to require all employees [employers] with more than 100 people, whether they work for the federal government or not — this is within a — in the purview of the Labor Department — to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or face testing at least once a week. In total, this Labor Department vaccination requirement will cover 100 million Americans, about two thirds of all the people who work in America. These requirements work. […] And as the Business Roundtable and others told me when I announced the first requirement, that encouraged businesses to feel they could come in and demand the same thing of their employees.”

Biden then went on to praise companies who are doing it on their own. Others are starting to notice as this article in the Federalist notes: […] According to several sources, so far it appears no such mandate has been sent to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs yet for approval. The White House, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Department of Labor haven’t released any official guidance for the alleged mandate. There is no executive order. There’s nothing but press statements. Despite what you may have been falsely led to believe by the media fantasy projection machine, press statements have exactly zero legal authority.

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“The primacy of constitutional law over other sources of law results directly from the Constitution of the Republic of Poland..”

Poland’s Top Court Rules Polish Law Takes Presedence Over The EU (ZH)

In a stinging rebuke to Europe’s unelected bureaucrats, and a major escalation in the rule of law crisis between Warsaw and Brussels, Poland’s constitutional court ruled on Thursday that Polish law can take precedence over EU law amid an ongoing dispute between the European bloc and the eastern European member state. The decision by the Constitutional Tribunal came after Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki requested a review of a decision by the EU’s Court of Justice (ECJ) that gave the bloc’s law primacy. Two out of 14 judges on the panel dissented from the majority opinion. “The attempt by the European Court of Justice to involve itself with Polish legal mechanisms violates … the rules that give priority to the constitution and rules that respect sovereignty amid the process of European integration,” the ruling said, in an outcome that could have wide-reaching consequences for Europe when the next crisis hits.

Meanwhile, Brussels considers the Constitutional Tribunal illegitimate due to the political influence imposed upon Poland’s judiciary by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS). As the FT’s Henry Foy notes, it is “Hard to overstate the importance of this ruling.” He goes on to note that “Poland is *the* EU success story of eastern enlargement, and the biggest recipient – by a long long way – of EU taxpayer money since 2004. And now it is saying that it refuses to recognize a fundamental part of the whole project.” As DW reports, the court had looked specifically at the compatibility of provisions from EU treaties, which are used by the European Commission to justify having a say in the rule of law in member states, with Poland’s constitution.

A ruling by the ECJ in March said that the EU can force member states to disregard certain provisions in national law, including constitutional law. The ECJ says that Poland’s recently implemented procedure for appointing members of its Supreme Court amounts to a violation of EU law. The ruling from the ECJ could potentially force Poland to repeal parts of the controversial judicial reform. Meanwhile, the EU is withholding billions of euros of aid for post-pandemic rebuilding in Poland over concerns that the rule of law is being degraded in the country. “The primacy of constitutional law over other sources of law results directly from the Constitution of the Republic of Poland,” PiS government spokesman Piotr Muller wrote on Twitter after the court’s decision. “Today (once again) this has been clearly confirmed by the Constitutional Tribunal.”

However, the EPP group, the center-right bloc in the European Parliament to which PiS belongs, come out strongly against the court’s ruling: “It’s hard to believe the Polish authorities and the PiS Party when they claim that they don’t want to put an end to Poland’s membership of the EU. Their actions go in the opposite direction. Enough is enough,” Jeroen Lenaers, MEP and spokesperson for the group, said. “The Polish Government has lost its credibility. This is an attack on the EU as a whole,” he added. Previously, the European Parliament called on Morawiecki to cancel the court case in a resolution passed last month. It stressed the “fundamental nature of primacy of EU law as a cornerstone principle of EU law”, which however now is put in doubt.

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Scapegoat?

“Schulte, who had worked at an elite CIA hacking unit, said that whoever leaked the Vault 7 documents “deserved to be executed” and that “no traitors ever came from Texas”..”

Prosecution Of Alleged WikiLeaks Vault 7 Source Hits Multiple Roadblocks (Y!)

The prosecution of the former CIA operative accused of providing WikiLeaks with the biggest theft of agency documents in U.S. history continues to be mired in delays and legal issues, drawing out a painful chapter for the agency. WikiLeaks’ publication in 2017 of documents that included CIA hacking tools, which it called Vault 7, so enraged some senior officials, including then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, that it sparked discussions within the agency and the Trump White House about kidnapping or even killing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to a Yahoo News investigation. The first trial of Joshua Schulte, the former CIA programmer accused of transmitting the documents to WikiLeaks, ended in a hung jury in March 2020. (Schulte was, however, convicted of related minor charges and remains jailed.)

It was a stinging defeat for federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District, who vowed to retry the former agency operative. The retrial, which has already been repeatedly postponed, was last scheduled for late October. In September, Schulte, who is now representing himself in court, asked for another delay. The parties are now supposed to confer on a new trial date by Nov. 1, as Inner City Press first reported, but it is unclear precisely when the alleged WikiLeaks source will face another jury. WikiLeaks began publishing Vault 7 documents in March 2017. The leak was “instantly devastating,” said the prosecutor in the case, causing “critical intelligence gathering operations all over the world” to come to “a crashing halt.” Agency investigators later called the leak “the largest data loss in CIA history.”

Before WikiLeaks began publishing the Vault 7 materials, the CIA had no idea they had even been taken. The leak set off a furious search for the culprit. The CIA would soon determine that the files had been stolen in the spring of 2016 by Schulte, a disgruntled agency employee who quit his job within the CIA four months before WikiLeaks began releasing Vault 7 materials. FBI officials, who code-named Schulte “Kinetic Piranha” or “Kinetic Panda,” confronted him in March 2017 in the New York City office lobby of his new employer, Bloomberg LP. In subsequent interviews with bureau officials, Schulte, who had worked at an elite CIA hacking unit, said that whoever leaked the Vault 7 documents “deserved to be executed” and that “no traitors ever came from Texas” (he is a native of Lubbock, Texas).

Schulte has continued to deny any wrongdoing. Interviewing him at a restaurant across from Grand Central Terminal, FBI agents presented Schulte with a grand jury subpoena and a separate subpoena to seize his phone. Bureau personnel then also executed a search warrant of his apartment. Schulte was first arrested in August 2017 after investigators said they had found “approximately ten thousand images and videos of child pornography” while searching his electronic devices. In June 2018, prosecutors charged him with providing the materials to WikiLeaks.

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Veritas Pfizer fetal tissue

 

 

 

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Dec 062020
 
 December 6, 2020  Posted by at 10:31 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Absinthe Drinker 1901

 

Large-Scale Covid19 Vaccination Campaign Kicks Off In Moscow (RT)
The Vaccine Race is a Race Against Capital Flight (Luongo)
US COVID Deaths Projected To More Than Double To 410,000 By January (R.)
Florida Requires Labs To Report ‘Cycle Threshold’ Of COVID-19 Tests (JTN)
COVID Will Drive Global Debt To $200 Trillion By End Of 2020 – S&P (RT)
Bernie Sanders Mocks Those Who Believe The Deep State Exists (Greenwald)
The President Can Pardon Himself, But That Does Not Mean He Should (Turley)
Rep. Mo Brooks’ Challenge To Electoral College Certification (JTN)
Budgets, Vetoes, Values, Defence … Division And Dithering Shame The EU (O.)
UK Urged To Follow Denmark In Ending North Sea Oil And Gas Exploration (O.)

 

 

Vaccines and autoimmune

 

 

 

 

 

 

First (though admittedly, China is a mystery).

Large-Scale Covid19 Vaccination Campaign Kicks Off In Moscow (RT)

A wide-ranging anti-coronavirus vaccination campaign began in Moscow on Saturday, with thousands signing up for shots online, in the Russian capital. Frontline workers were given first priority, as previous indicated. Those wishing to participate have to sign up online before receiving their initial dose of Sputnik V at one of the city’s 70 specialist clinics. The vaccine consists of two separate injections, the second jab must be administered 21 days after the first one. The whole procedure, which includes the time needed to cool down the formula after it’s removed from the freezer, takes less than an hour, officials said. Injections are administered to people aged between 18 and 60 that present no chronic health conditions. Those who have had respiratory infections, like flu or common cold, less than two weeks ago, are not eligible. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are also barred, for now.


On Friday, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin wrote on his blog that 5,000 people had signed up for the vaccine in five hours after online registration was launched. He said they were doctors, care workers, and teachers, who were “risking their health and lives the most.” Vaccination is free for Russian citizens. Senior health official Alexey Kuznetsov announced that Sputnik V’s maximum commercial price will be 1,942 rubles ($26) for both injections. President Vladimir Putin authorized the start of a large-scale vaccination campaign on Wednesday. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said all of Russia’s regions would roll out their campaigns next week. Meanwhile, select groups of doctors and nurses had already been getting the vaccine, with the priority given to those on the frontline against Covid-19. The vaccination began in some army units as well.

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Expect horror stories about Russian vaccines.

The Vaccine Race is a Race Against Capital Flight (Luongo)

The ruble rose sharply versus the dollar this week, collapsing below the critical 76 level to close this week below 74. More evidence that with Putin’s announcement of Sputnik V vaccine distribution starting Russia the markets are looking for a home where capital can have a prayer in hell of being treated well. Because that will most certainly not be the case in Europe. The only reasons the euro is rising in on political instability in the U.S. and the lack of forward budget thanks to the veto by Hungary and Poland. Because while the euro may be breaking out versus the dollar the bellwether bond markets in Europe, namely German bunds, are rising in yield.

While this isn’t a bear market in any sense since the selling hasn’t overwhelmed ECB buying, it’s also hard to determine if that would ever happen given just how much of the European sovereign debt market the ECB actually owns now. Investors in the West are trying to beat the COVID-19 narrative, pinning their hope of economic recovery on the vaccine restoring normality. But if there is one thing I’ve noted over and over again over the past ten months, it is that the goal posts for normality keep getting moved. Remember 15 days to flatten the curve? Now it’s a 100-day mask mandates with state-by-state full lockdowns. Anyone thinking that we’ll ever return to anything resembling the old world is terminally naïve.

The race for global capital begins now with Russia’s roll out of Sputnik V by the millions of doses. It doesn’t matter if the vaccine works or it doesn’t. Pfizer’s doesn’t. What matters is what excuses politicians can make to fit their agenda. Putin wants to make Russia a destination for global capital, keeping Russia open for business. Russia pushing Sputnik V out the door this quickly is forcing the West’s hand. They wanted bigger lockdowns for longer. Asia will stay open while the West plays games resetting its system. They are really angry at the Russians for being good at math and science.

That is why the race for the vaccine is actually the race for global capital in the end. Because the rollout of the vaccine asymmetrically around the world will be followed by where watching where the capital will flow to. Russia will be one of those places along with everyone they sell it to and everyone they do business with. COVID-19 is a litmus test of governments. Investors are looking around now looking for where the political risk really lies over the next decade. Sanctions, threats and capital controls can only slow the outflow but it can’t stop it.

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Winter is a bigger factor than most acknowledged.

US COVID Deaths Projected To More Than Double To 410,000 By January (R.)

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

“We expect the daily death rate in the United States, because of seasonality and declining vigilance of the public, to reach nearly 3,000 a day in December,” the institute, which bills itself as an independent research center, said in an update of its periodic forecasts. “Cumulative deaths expected by January 1 are 410,000; this is 225,000 deaths from now until the end of the year,” the institute said. It previously projected 317,697 deaths by Dec. 1. The model’s outlook for the world was even more dire, with deaths projected to triple to 2.8 million by Jan. 1, 2021. The United States, which has the world’s third largest population, leads the planet with more than 186,000 COVID-19 deaths and 6.1 million coronavirus infections.

[..] The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues forecasts only four weeks in advance, and its latest estimate is for 200,000 to 211,000 dead by Sept. 26. But the institute said with so many Americans still refusing to wear masks, there remains “an extraordinary opportunity” to save lives. “Increasing mask use to the levels seen in Singapore would decrease the cumulative death toll to 288,000, or 122,000 lives saved compared to the reference scenario,” it said. “Mask use continues to decline from a peak in early August. Declines are notable throughout the Midwest, including in some states such as Illinois and Iowa with increasing case numbers,” the report said.

Although U.S. infections have declined to around 45,000 per day from a peak of around 70,000 per day in July, COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death, the institute said. That would place it behind only heart disease, having surpassed cancer as a cause of death in the United States.

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How much sense can you make?

Florida Requires Labs To Report ‘Cycle Threshold’ Of COVID-19 Tests (JTN)

The Florida Department of Health is requiring that all labs in the state report the critical “cycle threshold” level of every COVID-19 test they perform. In a press release this week, the department said that, regarding COVID-19 tests, “cycle threshold (CT) values and their reference ranges, as applicable, must be reported by laboratories to FDOH via electronic laboratory reporting or by fax immediately.” “Cycle thresholds” are the level at which widely used polymerase chain reaction test can detect a sample of the COVID-19 virus.


The higher the number of cycles, the lower the amount of viral load in the sample; the lower the cycles, the more prevalent the virus was in the original sample. Numerous epidemiological experts have argued that cycle thresholds are an important metric by which patients and the public can make an informed decision about how infectious and/or sick an individual with a positive COVID-19 test might be. However, health departments across the country are failing to collect that data.

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Keep rates low or else!

COVID Will Drive Global Debt To $200 Trillion By End Of 2020 – S&P (RT)

The world’s appetite for borrowing is growing with global debt expected to reach the next milestone of $200 trillion as early as this year, according to ratings agency S&P Global. That will reportedly account for 265 percent of the world’s annual economic output, amounting to a 14-point rise as a percentage of world GDP. The dramatic surge was triggered by both the economic plunge due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the extra borrowing that governments, firms and households have had to fall back upon, the New York-based agency said. “Global debt-to-GDP has been trending up for many years; the pandemic simply exacerbated the rise,” the report reads.


Despite mounting debt and a series of defaults over the coming year, the S&P doesn’t expect a major crisis any time soon. “The projected 14-percent surge in global debt-to-GDP in 2020 is unlikely to cause a near-term debt crisis, provided economies recover, vaccines are widely distributed, interest rates remain very low, and borrowing behavior moderates,” the agency said. The global debt-to-GDP ratio will reportedly ease back to 256 percent within two years, as soon as the world economy gets back on its feet after the pandemic. “We expect the debt growth of corporates, governments, and household to ease as they tend to after recessions,” the report reads.

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Bernie never recovered from the smears.

Bernie Sanders Mocks Those Who Believe The Deep State Exists (Greenwald)

That Putin wanted Tump to win was one of the leading themes used by Democratic-Party-allied media outlets to attack Trump, rendering it crippling for Sanders to be similarly tied to Moscow, particularly given the perception that Putin would help Sanders because the Kremlin judged him to be the weakest candidate against the GOP president. Indeed, The Post article explicitly drew the Sanders/Trump comparison (emphasis added): The disclosure of Russian assistance to Sanders follows a briefing to lawmakers last week in which a senior intelligence official said that Russia wants to see Trump reelected, viewing his administration as more favorable to the Kremlin’s interests, according to people who were briefed on the comments. . . .

The prospect of two rival campaigns both receiving help from Moscow appears to reflect what intelligence officials have previously described as Russia’s broader interest in sowing division in the United States and uncertainty about the validity of American elections. Reflecting his 2020 strategy of trying to appease the Democratic establishment in lieu of his more successful 2016 strategy of proudly positioning himself as its adversary, Sanders by this point had repeatedly echoed the maximalist conspiracy theories about Trump and Russia, leaving him with little room to maneuver once this Cold War tactic was predictably deployed against him. After suggesting the leak to The Post was intended to harm his campaign, he had no other options beyond sputtering with faux-toughness about how he would show Putin who was boss.

In other words — both prior to the leak and after — Sanders repeatedly validated rather than scorned the CIA’s Russia narrative (just as he did with the equally cynical Bernie Bro attacks). So it put him in a defensive crouch for the rest of the campaign, unable to explain why Putin — Public Enemy Number One among the Democratic Party base — was trying to help him win.

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“..it would be as constitutional as it would be wrong.”

The President Can Pardon Himself, But That Does Not Mean He Should (Turley)

It seems the subject of Donald Trump, like necessity, is the mother of invention, at least when it comes to legal analysis. From bribery statutes to constitutional provisions, legal experts routinely and unfailingly conclude that Trump or his family can be prosecuted or impeached for an endless array of misdeeds. Even theories denied by the Supreme Court are seen as valid when used against Trump. Now the same certainty has been declared on whether Trump can grant himself a pardon. One of the longest standing debates in constitutional law is dismissed as ill-informed by some of the same experts. His role as a catalyst for clarity was apparent in an interview by Harvard professor Laurence Tribe.

After host Lawrence O’Donnell said he believed a president could give himself a pardon, Tribe proclaimed such a view is “incoherent and incompatible” as a constitutional matter. The declaration likely surprised few on MSNBC. Tribe has been an outspoken critic of Trump, whom he has denounced as a “terrorist,” and he has supported a wide array of criminal and constitutional claims against him. These views are popular as are Tribe’s increasingly personal diatribes, including vulgar attacks on Republican leaders and even a false attack on Attorney William Barr for his Catholic faith. For the record, I have maintained that a president can grant himself a pardon. I held that position before Trump took office. I also believe a president can be indicted in office.

The reason is the same: The Constitution prohibits neither a self-pardon nor a presidential indictment. This is not the first time that Tribe and I have disagreed. Two decades ago, we testified together at the impeachment hearing of President Clinton. At that time, Tribe was far more restrictive in his legal and constitutional interpretations, declaring that lying under oath in the Clinton case would not be an impeachable offense. While a federal court and Democrats agreed that Clinton knowingly committed perjury, Tribe insisted that a president could commit perjury in certain circumstances and not be impeached. Thus, a president can commit a felony for which thousands have been incarcerated, including those prosecuted by his own administration, but he should not be removed from office for the same act.

[..] The stronger argument against a presidential self-pardon is not the textual one raised by Tribe but, simply, that the Constitution should be read to include a principle against self-dealing. Yet presidents regularly engage in all forms of self-dealing, from nepotism to favoritism to cronyism, without a hint of constitutional difficulty. Bill Clinton not only appointed his wife to head a major federal commission on health care but pardoned his own half-brother. The Framers did not bar such forms of self-dealing any more than they barred self-pardons. This is why Trump can pardon himself, and why he should not do so. Just as I denounced Clinton for abusing the pardon powers, I believe such a step by Trump would be an even greater abuse. In other words, it would be as constitutional as it would be wrong.

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Dec 8 and Dec14 are arbitrary dates. Only Jan 20 is cast in stone.

Rep. Mo Brooks’ Challenge To Electoral College Certification (JTN)

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) faces an uphill battle if he challenges the Electoral College and backs President Trump on Jan. 6, when Congress is scheduled to certify Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. Brooks said this week he has been sharing his plan with fellow House members in hopes of invoking the 12th Amendment and helping Trump win. At least one senator must partner with Brooks to trigger a vote on an electoral challenge, and Brooks told Fox News Radio on Thursday, “We have some leads for United States Senators who may do it.” Under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, in a contingent election no candidate wins a majority of Electoral College votes, and the election is thrown to the U.S. House of Representatives.

There, each state’s delegation has one vote, and a candidate must receive the votes of a majority of state delegations to win. Because of the calendar, the new Congress is the one that decides, not the outgoing one. In the new Congress, there are more states with Republican delegations than Democratic ones, so in that scenario, Trump would win. “Thank you to Representative Mo Brooks,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning after news of Brooks’ intention broke. “Ask your senators and congressman if they will object to any Electoral College certification of Joe Biden on January 6,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch tweeted Nov. 23. It’s unlikely, however, that Brooks would be able to successfully invoke the 12th Amendment if he can’t get a majority of both the House and the Senate to support his efforts.

Brooks said he doesn’t think he needs a majority. Legal experts disagree, arguing that while a single member of the House and Senate can raise an objection, majorities in both the House and the Senate would have to approve it for any electoral votes to be tossed out. This would not happen under a Democratic-controlled House. “They are misunderstanding the law,” says election law expert Hans von Spakovsky. The procedures for the counting of Electoral College votes in Congress are set forth in 3 U.S.C. 15, according to von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission and manager of the Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative.

“What it says is that an objection can be filed to the certification of votes from the states when they are being counted in the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, if it is signed by one member of the House and one member of the Senate,” he told Just the News. “However, the Senate and the House then each have to stage a vote on the objection, which obviously will not go forward unless a majority of senators and a majority of representatives approve of the objection.”

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Poland and Hungary are becoming a very big problem for Europe.

Budgets, Vetoes, Values, Defence … Division And Dithering Shame The EU (O.)

It’s all happening at once for the EU. Fundamental problems and disputes, long fudged, postponed or ignored, are simultaneously coming to a head. Is this a union of shared values or of economic interests? Who pays the bills? How is Europe best defended when the US cannot be trusted? What about Turkey? And then there’s “bloody Brexit”. Little wonder some are predicting a nervous collapse. These fraught issues and more will converge at this week’s “doomsday” EU summit, presaging greater-than-usual fractiousness. But if it is as inconclusive as many previous gatherings, the European project faces serious trouble. Implementation of the €1.1tn, seven-year EU budget and €750bn Covid recovery fund cannot sensibly be delayed much longer. Yet two states – Poland and Hungary – are blocking the way.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s rightwing populist leader, and Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, jointly declared last week they would veto the budget if it retained “rule of law” criteria requiring adherence to EU-defined standards of judicial independence. Both governments are in long-running disputes over what Brussels views as their illiberal, “un-European” policies on judges, media freedom and women’s and gender rights. They reject what they call “politically motivated” meddling. The fact that the row is blocking timely pandemic relief shames the EU. If it cannot unite to fight this unprecedented human emergency, voters will ask, then what can it do? Even the experienced German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who holds the EU presidency, is flailing as the French and others insist they will not bow to authoritarian diktats.

This dispute, plus ongoing tensions over the cost of an expanded budget now UK contributions are ending, prompted an intriguing intervention last week from António Costa, the Portuguese prime minister. Portugal assumes the EU presidency next month, and is staring aghast at the can of worms it’s inheriting. Costa’s proposal was suitably radical: effectively split the EU in two, and thus save it, by recognising irreconcilable internal differences. This variation on the old idea of a two-speed or two-tier Europe would be based not on geography but on values, Costa suggested. It would separate the so-called “frugal” states – the Netherlands, Austria and Nordic countries concerned about high spending and fiscal transfers – plus east European states opposed to rule of law mechanisms and migrant quotas – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – from the remainder.

“Basically, it is whether the EU is a union of values or whether, on the contrary, it is primarily an economic instrument,” Costa argued. Countries opposing further integration would benefit from “variable geometries” while others like France, and southern states such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, could pursue their version of ever closer union. It’s a brave idea that Costa, reportedly with French backing, will pursue at a special spring summit in Lisbon. Yet it has a major flaw. Germany, the EU’s chief paymaster with a current net budget contribution of €12.8bn, gives lip service to EU integration and solidarity. But it has a deeply ingrained horror of underwriting the profligacy and pipe-dreams of indebted fellow eurozone members.

This same German reluctance hinders Emmanuel Macron’s ambitions for a unified “global Europe” to match the US and China: Berlin fears it will end up footing the bill, financially and politically. When France’s president called again last month for a sovereign European defence strategy, Germany’s defence minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, slapped him down. “The idea of strategic autonomy for Europe goes too far if it nurtures the illusion that we could ensure Europe’s security, stability and prosperity without Nato and the US … Germany and Europe cannot protect themselves without America’s nuclear and conventional power. This is simply a fact,” she said. Macron was furious.

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Not going to happen.

UK Urged To Follow Denmark In Ending North Sea Oil And Gas Exploration (O.)

Britain must end all oil and gas extraction in the North Sea as a matter of urgency if it is to maintain its position as a credible climate champion. That was the stark warning issued by green campaigners yesterday in the wake of last week’s decision by Denmark to halt its exploration for new North Sea reserves as part of its commitment to cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change. The Danish decision is an embarrassment for Boris Johnson who announced last week that Britain would take a lead in the battle against global heating by cutting national carbon emissions by 68% by 2030, a rate faster than any other major economy. However, the UK has not announced plans to end exploration in the North Sea for new gas and oil fields or to halt extraction there – despite the established link between global warming and fossil fuel extraction and burning.

By announcing its North Sea ban last week, say campaigners, Denmark has undermined Johnson’s attempt to portray himself as a world climate leader next Saturday when he is scheduled to co-host a virtual Climate Ambition summit of world leaders. “If the UK is to be a real global climate leader, it must follow Denmark’s lead by stopping issuing new oil and gas exploration licences and delivering a managed phase-out of oil and gas extraction,” said Ken Penton, UK climate campaigner for the international NGO, Global Witness. “This must include funding a just transition for oil and gas workers and their communities to ensure they can benefit from the new green economy and do not suffer the fate of UK coal miners and their communities.”

The Danish government voted on Thursday to cancel the country’s next North Sea oil and gas licensing round, 80 years after it first began exploiting its hydrocarbon reserves. Denmark’s 55 existing platforms, spread across 20 oil and gas fields, will be allowed to continue extracting fossil fuels but the decision to end the hunt for new reserves will guarantee an end to Denmark’s fossil fuel production.

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Stephanie Kelton Deficits

 

 

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Jan 192020
 
 January 19, 2020  Posted by at 10:36 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  11 Responses »


John Collier “Grandfather Romero, a member of the family of Juan Lopez, the majordomo, is ninety-nine years old.” Trampas, New Mexico 1943

 

Biden Charges Sanders Camp Issued ‘Doctored Video’ To Attack Him (Pol.)
Rod Rosenstein Admits To Leaking Texts Between Peter Strzok, Lisa Page (NYP)
DOJ Court Filing Reveals Rosenstein Behind Strzok-Page Text Dumps (ZH)
House Files “Framers’ Worst Nightmare” Legal Brief (ZH)
Gowdy: God Help Us If The Trial Lasts Six Weeks (ZH)
Rudy Giuliani Once Had A Real Chance Of Becoming President (G.)
Boris Johnson Plans To Move House Of Lords To York (R.)
A Hidden Parliamentary Session Revealed Trump’s True Motives In Iraq (Webb)
The Petrodollar and the Phantom of the Petroyuan (Webb)
Putin Rejects Idea Of Soviet-Style Leaders For Life (R.)
Russia To Combat Rewriting Of WWII History With New Open-Archive Center (RT)

 

 

Does Biden know how a video is doctored? He’s handing the Sanders camp a big freebee.

Biden Charges Sanders Camp Issued ‘Doctored Video’ To Attack Him (Pol.)

Joe Biden accused Bernie Sanders’ campaign Saturday of issuing a “doctored video” to attack him over Social Security, a false claim that ratcheted up the tension between the two campaigns in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses. “Let’s get the record straight,” Biden said at Simpson College here. “There’s a little, doctored video going around … saying I agreed with Paul Ryan, the former vice presidential candidate, about wanting to privatize Social Security.” But the video in question — of Biden’s 2018 remarks to the Brookings Institution think tank — was not doctored by Sanders, whose campaign this month stepped up criticisms of Biden’s record on Social Security.

Sanders’ campaign did say in a recent campaign email that “Biden lauded Paul Ryan for proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare” — which PolitiFact said Sanders’ campaign got wrong. But there is no evidence that the campaign altered any video. Biden, however, referenced the fact-checking website in making a muddled claim: “PolitiFact looked at it and they doctored the photo, they doctored the piece and it’s acknowledged that it’s a fake.”


Sanders’ campaign bristled at the criticism from Biden — a serious charge that Democrats recently have begun to level at Republicans, including Donald Trump, for manipulating images and videos on social media. An aide said Sanders might address the criticism head on. “Joe Biden should be honest with voters and stop trying to doctor his own public record of consistently and repeatedly trying to cut Social Security,” said Sanders Campaign Manager Faiz Shakir in a statement Saturday. “The facts are very clear: Biden not only pushed to cut Social Security — he is on tape proudly bragging about it on multiple occasions.”

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Things are moving too fast for me to keep up. Rosenstein was in the Trump camp’s crosshairs forever, but now all of a sudden he’s the other camp’s worst enemy?

Rod Rosenstein Admits To Leaking Texts Between Peter Strzok, Lisa Page (NYP)

Mystery solved. Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has ‘fessed up to giving explosive text messages of FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page to the press in 2017. The messages between the two, exchanged in 2016 while both were involved in sensitive political probes, revealed their antipathy to then-candidate Donald Trump and loyalty to Hillary Clinton. Rosenstein’s admission came in a Friday-night court filing by the Department of Justice, which is seeking to dismiss Strzok’s lawsuit challenging his June 2016 firing, Politico reported. The former agent’s case seeks damages for invasion of privacy, arguing that the texts were disclosed due to political pressure from the White House.

But Rosenstein, who left the DOJ last year, says he made the texts public to protect Page and Strzok — because Congress was about to hear about the embarrassing messages anyway. “Providing the most egregious messages in one package would avoid the additional harm of prolonged selective disclosures” from leaky congressional staffers, wrote Rosenstein, who now has a corporate law gig. The texts showed that Page and Strzok had feared Trump might win the election. Both had worked on the probe into whether Clinton jeopardized classified information by using a private email server while she was secretary of state as well as Crossfire Hurricane, the feds’ investigation into the Trump campaign.

Later, they worked briefly on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. “This man cannot be president,” Page wrote in March 2016. “She just has to win now,” she said in a July 2016 message, referring to Clinton. In his texts to Page, Strzok referred to Trump as an “idiot” and a “douche.” Shortly before the 2016 election, he wrote that the prospect of a Trump presidency made him “scared for our organization.”

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Strzok and Page sent 100s, 1000s of messages to each other, often during work hours, but they still get to claim invasion of their privacy?

DOJ Court Filing Reveals Rosenstein Behind Strzok-Page Text Dumps (ZH)

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authorized the release to the media of text messages between ‘FBI lovebirds’ Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, many of which revealed deep animus towards then-candidate Donald Trump while they were investigating him during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Politico. In a Friday night court filing submitted shortly before midnight, Rosenstein says he made the decision to protect Strzok and Page from the damaging effects of lawmakers and others releasing the texts for use as political ammunition.


“In the messages, Strzok and Page regularly disparaged Trump and appeared to seek to reassure each other he could not be elected. Both called Trump an “idiot” and said Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton deserved to win. The texts also included murky discussions of an “insurance policy” to guard against Trump’s election. Trump backers have interpreted the reference as a plan to use the then-ongoing investigation into ties between Trump advisers and Russia as way to prevent him from taking office or undermine his presidency, but Strzok and Page have denied any such intent.” -Politico. Lisa Page – who sued the DOJ and FBI in December over the release, appears to be pissed.

Strzok has separately sued the agencies as well – for which Rosenstein’s admission was submitted as part of the government’s defense. The former DAG says that public disclosure of the texts was inevitable in connection with testimony he was set to give the next day in front of the House Judiciary Committee. “With the express understanding that it would not violate the Privacy Act and that the text messages would become public by the next day in any event, I authorized [Justice’s Office of Public Affairs] to disclose to the news media the text messages that were being disclosed to Congressional committees,” wrote Rosenstein.


“In November, the Justice Department asked U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson to throw out Strzok’s suit, which challenges both his firing from the FBI and the release of the texts. However, Strzok’s attorneys countered in a court filing last month that one reason to allow the suit to proceed was that Justice Department was being vague about just who made the final call to give the messages. Arguing that an air of mystery continued to surround the disclosure, Strzok lawyer Aitan Goelman called “revealing” Justice’s decision to seek dismissal of the suit without identifying the responsible official. “An agency cannot avoid Privacy Act liability for a disclosure actually made for an improper purpose by eliciting a sanitized after-the-fact rationale from an official who does not have all of the facts,” Goelman wrote. -Politico

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Always wonder why people claim to know exactly what the Framers meant, and to the exclusion of their political rivals.

House Files “Framers’ Worst Nightmare” Legal Brief (ZH)

Ahead of Tuesday’s opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial, House Democrats – seven impeachment managers led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff – filed their legal brief today. The 111-page summons urges the Senate to “eliminate the threat that the President poses to America’s national security” as it lays out the case against President Trump. The House legal filing (due by 5pmET) reiterates the findings of the House Intelligence and Judiciary panels, which, after hearing from witnesses and experts, settled on charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Additionally, the case that House prosecutors sent to the Senate references new evidence that wasn’t part of the impeachment inquiry, including material from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, according to Democratic officials familiar with the argument. “The evidence overwhelmingly establishes that he is guilty of both. The only remaining question is whether the members of the Senate will accept and carry out the responsibility placed on them by the Framers of our Constitution and their constitutional Oaths,” the brief reads. “History will judge each Senator’s willingness to rise above partisan differences, view the facts honestly, and defend the Constitution.”

Compiled by the seven Democrats serving as impeachment managers, the brief describes the president’s conduct as “the Framer’s worst nightmare” in arguing that he should be impeached and removed from office. “President Trump’s ongoing pattern of misconduct demonstrates that he is an immediate threat to the Nation and the rule of law. It is imperative that the Senate convict and remove him from office now, and permanently bar him from holding federal office,” they write. President Trump’s legal team outlined the fiery response to its impeachment summons, calling the two articles of impeachment passed by the House last month “a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president.”

The six-page document – which they stressed is different from the brief that is not due until Monday – offers a taste of the rhetoric expected to be deployed by the president’s defenders in the Senate. “This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away,” the filing states. Trump’s legal team, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, is challenging the impeachment on both procedural and constitutional grounds, claiming Trump has been mistreated by House Democrats and that he did nothing wrong. Notably, at least four of the impeachment managers, including Schiff, are scheduled to appear Sunday on political talk shows.

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Only six weeks? But that only takes us to early March, 8 whole months before the election.

Gowdy: God Help Us If The Trial Lasts Six Weeks (ZH)

Former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) told Fox News this week that he predicts President Donald Trump’s Senate trial will be short and that the president’s best defense is a review of the transcript. “The transcript is the single best piece of evidence that the president has,” Gowdy said. “Who brought up Rudy Giuliani’s name? It wasn’t Donald Trump. It was Zelensky. This was the second call, not the first call. If President Trump were really hell-bent on ensuring that Ukraine investigate the Bidens, would he not have brought that up in the first telephone call he had with Zelensky? Why wait till the second?” “As far as the timing of this trial is concerned, Trey, they are estimates that it could be quick, it could last as long as six weeks,” Fox News co-host Sandra Smith said. “Where do you fall on that, and what is the length of time mean?”

“I mean God help us if it lasts six weeks,” Gowdy responded. “The investigation is over, so it’s Schiff’s job to present the case. If he’s going to present the case on the paper with the depositions, it shouldn’t take that long. I don’t need Adam to read the depositions to me; the jury can go read it themselves.” “If they open it up to witnesses, and they want Bolton, and then there’s some Republicans that want four or five other witnesses, it could last six weeks,” Gowdy continued. “Sandra, I just have not met anyone whose opinion has changed during the pendency of this investigation. I can’t identify – maybe three open-minded jurors in the U.S. Senate. I just don’t, no matter how long it lasts, I don’t think it’s gonna change anyone’s mind in the Senate or among my fellow citizens. The shorter the better.”

Fox News co-host Bill Hemmer asked, “Did you want to give us a time frame for that?” “I’m saying two weeks,” Gowdy said. “If it goes six weeks, then they’re going to have to make some hard decisions on which witnesses are important enough to hear from and which ones, while they may have relevant evidence, we just don’t – I think in terms of a real trial.” “Why would you ever not call a witness if that witness has relevant information?” Gowdy continued. “How do you pick which ones to call and which ones not to? You can never do that in a real trial. So, if we’re going to open this thing up anew to a brand new investigation, then call everybody, and God knows how long that’ll take.”

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Nobody feels bad he didn’t get the job, himself least of all.

Rudy Giuliani Once Had A Real Chance Of Becoming President (G.)

If things had gone a little differently, Rudy Giuliani might have been elected president in 2008. The former New York City mayor turned Donald Trump stooge led polling in the Republican primaries for almost a year, and was seen as someone who could defeat Hillary Clinton – then the presumptive Democratic nominee – in key metropolitan areas. Giuliani, still riding a wave of good feeling from his handling of the 9/11 attacks, was raising serious amounts of cash, and was the best-known of the Republican candidates. He had a very real chance of succeeding George W Bush. But Giuliani’s campaign collapsed in chaotic fashion, and he became a political irrelevance – until re-emerging a decade later as Donald Trump’s lawyer, mouthpiece, bungling envoy to Ukraine and a central character in the third impeachment of an American president.

It’s hard to imagine now, but at the end of 2006, Giuliani was the most popular politician in the country. In March 2007, after Giuliani formally announced his White House campaign, he was the early favorite to win the Republican primary contest, with 44% support nationwide. (John McCain, the eventual nominee, was second with 20%.) Giuliani maintained that lead throughout the year, and raised the most money. Armed with a campaign slogan that read like the responses to a word-association examination – “Tested. Ready. Now” – Giuliani seemed destined to represent the Republican party in the November 2008 election.

“When Rudy Giuliani entered the race he was seen as the frontrunner,” said Capri Cafaro, a former minority leader of the Ohio senate and an adjunct professor at the American University school of public affairs. Oprah Winfrey had dubbed Giuliani “America’s mayor” following the 9/11 attacks – a moniker that stuck – while Time magazine went further, naming Giuliani its person of the year for 2001 and branding him “mayor of the world”. Cafaro said: “His strength predominantly came from being seen as America’s mayor – in light of this being just a few years after 9/11. [He was] playing to his strengths: his strengths in national security and essentially being able to rise to the occasion as a leader.”

[..] Giuliani was still leading the polls in the summer of 2007, six months out from the first Republican vote in Iowa. But he hit an unexpected problem, in the form of a man dressed in a chicken suit – the “Iowa Chicken” – who tirelessly followed Giuliani around in protest at him skipping the Ames straw poll, a traditional barometer of the Republican primary race.

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Can we move the Senate to the Appalachians?? Alabama?

Boris Johnson Plans To Move House Of Lords To York (R.)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to relocate parliament’s upper house, the House of Lords, to the northern English city of York, the Sunday Times reported. In last month’s national election for the lower house, Johnson’s Conservatives won a swathe of seats in the traditional Northern English heartland of the opposition Labour Party as he secured a large majority in parliament. With a view to securing these gains, Johnson has promised to ramp up investment in the north of England, which suffered under the decline of heavy industries and austerity policies since the financial crisis, the Sunday Times said, without citing sources.


York, founded by the Romans and famed for its large minster, is first choice for the move, ahead of Birmingham, Britain’s second-largest city. The unelected House of Lords, which dates back to the 14th Century, is principally seen as a revising and refining mechanism but it technically has the power to block laws.

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Whitney’s laying it on a little thickish.

A Hidden Parliamentary Session Revealed Trump’s True Motives In Iraq (Webb)

Since the U.S. killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis earlier this month, the official narrative has held that their deaths were necessary to prevent a vague, yet allegedly imminent, threat of violence towards Americans, though President Trump has since claimed whether or not Soleimani or his Iraqi allies posed an imminent threat “doesn’t really matter.” While the situation between Iran, Iraq and the U.S. appears to have de-escalated substantially, at least for now, it is worth revisiting the lead-up to the recent U.S.-Iraq/Iran tensions up to the Trump-mandated killing of Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in order to understand one of the most overlooked yet relevant drivers behind Trump’s current policy with respect to Iraq: preventing China from expanding its foothold in the Middle East.

Indeed, it has been alleged that even the timing of Soleimani’s assassination was directly related to his diplomatic role in Iraq and his push to help Iraq secure its oil independence, beginning with the implementation of a new massive oil deal with China. While recent rhetoric in the media has dwelled on the extent of Iran’s influence in Iraq, China’s recent dealings with Iraq — particularly in its oil sector — are to blame for much of what has transpired in Iraq in recent months, at least according to Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who is currently serving in a caretaker role.

Much of the U.S. pressure exerted on Iraq’s government with respect to China has reportedly taken place covertly and behind closed doors, keeping the Trump administration’s concerns over China’s growing ties to Iraq largely out of public view, perhaps over concerns that a public scuffle could exacerbate the U.S.-China “trade war” and endanger efforts to resolve it. Yet, whatever the reasons may be, evidence strongly suggests that the U.S. is equally concerned about China’s presence in Iraq as it is with Iran’s. This is because China has the means and the ability to dramatically undermine not only the U.S.’ control over Iraq’s oil sector but the entire petrodollar system on which the U.S.’ status as both a financial and military superpower directly depends.

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Part 2 from the article above. Of course the US is worried about China’s growing influence, in the Middle East and elsewhere. But how much oil can you trade for services before you run out of those? That only seems a concern if Iraq would become a Chinese satellite. Not going to happen.

China is a threat to the petrodollar only when the yuan becomes freely tradable. But that would be a direct threat to the CCP and Xi.

The Petrodollar and the Phantom of the Petroyuan (Webb)

In his televised statements last week following Iran’s military response to the U.S. assassination of General Soleimani, Trump insisted that the U.S.’ Middle East policy is no longer being directed by America’s vast oil requirements. He stated specifically that: “Over the last three years, under my leadership, our economy is stronger than ever before and America has achieved energy independence. These historic accomplishments changed our strategic priorities. These are accomplishments that nobody thought were possible. And options in the Middle East became available. We are now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil. (emphasis added)”

Yet, given the centrality of the recent Iraq-China oil deal in guiding some of the Trump administration’s recent Middle East policy moves, this appears not to be the case. The distinction may lie in the fact that, while the U.S. may now be less dependent on oil imports from the Middle East, it still very much needs to continue to dominate how oil is traded and sold on international markets in order to maintain its status as both a global military and financial superpower.

Indeed, even if the U.S. is importing less Middle Eastern oil, the petrodollar system — first forged in the 1970s — requires that the U.S. maintains enough control over the global oil trade so that the world’s largest oil exporters, Iraq among them, continue to sell their oil in dollars. Were Iraq to sell oil in another currency, or trade oil for services, as it plans to do with China per the recently inked deal, a significant portion of Iraqi oil would cease to generate a demand for dollars, violating the key tenet of the petrodollar system.

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Putin is being practical.

Putin Rejects Idea Of Soviet-Style Leaders For Life (R.)

President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday he did not want Russia to return to the late Soviet-era practice of having lifelong rulers who died in office without a proper succession strategy. His comments, made to World War Two veterans in St Petersburg, came days after he unveiled a sweeping shake-up of the political system which led to the resignation of Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister along with his government. Putin, in a surprise move, picked Mikhail Mishustin, the low-profile head of the country’s tax service, as the country’s next prime minister. Russians are now waiting to hear which ministers will keep their jobs in a new government.


Putin’s changes, which would amend the constitution to create new centers of power outside the presidency, were widely seen as giving the 67-year-old scope to extend his grip on power once he leaves the presidency in 2024. He has dominated Russian politics, as president or as prime minister, for two decades. Critics accuse Putin, a former KGB officer, of plotting to stay on in some capacity after his term ends. They suspect he wants to continue to wield power over the world’s largest nation, which is also one of its two leading nuclear powers. In his comments on Saturday, Putin, who has already said he wants to limit future presidents to two terms in power despite currently serving out his fourth term himself, rejected the idea of Russian presidents for life.

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I don’t get why RT has to repeat the “shut your filthy mouth” phrase multiple times. Obviously lost in translation. But the narrative changes are real. Poland was very wrong in WWII (see Shoah). And now they try and rewrite that.

Russia To Combat Rewriting Of WWII History With New Open-Archive Center (RT)

Moscow is to create the most extensive collection of WWII documents, open to all persons anywhere, to once and for all “shut the filthy mouth” of those seeking to rewrite history for short-term gains, the Russian president said. Any person, Russian or non-national, will be able to access the archive, including through a website resource, and the ultimate goal is to debunk any disinformation about the most devastating conflict in human history, President Vladimir Putin pledged, during a meeting with veterans of the Great Patriotic War, held in St. Petersburg on Saturday. The creation of the center would leave no chance to those willing to distort the truth about the war for their own political needs, he argued. “We will shut the filthy mouth of some public figures abroad, who open theirs only to achieve short-term political goals. We will shut them up with reliable and fundamental facts.”

The center is expected to incorporate the biggest and most extensive collection of documents, as well as photos and video footage dating back to the World War II era. The president first floated this idea during his annual state-of-the-nation address earlier this week, arguing that Russia should combat “brazen lies and attempts to distort history.” In St. Petersburg, Putin also said that Moscow should follow the example of Tel Aviv, which virtually allows no one on Earth to forget about the true horrors of the Holocaust. “Among the Holocaust victims, a large number were Soviet Jews,” he said, adding that “we should also not forget about the sacrifices of other Soviet peoples, the Russian people” who defended “their homeland and the whole world from the brown plague [of Nazism].”

Putin’s words come amid a row between Moscow and Warsaw over the events that led to the Second World War. Poland has been revising that devastating conflict’s history for quite some time, seeking to shun any responsibility relating to events during that period, while presenting itself as a victim of both Nazi and Soviet aggression and occupation. Warsaw has been removing monuments to Soviet soldiers who died while liberating the city from Nazi Germany occupation, and also initiated an EU Parliament resolution in September, which claims that the 1939 non-aggression pact between Moscow and Berlin had “paved the way for the outbreak of the Second World War.”

This last move did not sit well with Moscow, which labeled it a falsification of history. Putin himself eventually joined the heated debate between the two nations, when he called Jozef Lipski, the Polish ambassador to Berlin from 1934 to 1939, “a bastard and an anti-Semitic pig.” The Russian president referred to the fact that the envoy had promised Adolf Hitler that Poles would “erect for him a beautiful monument in Warsaw” if he expelled all European Jews to Africa. Warsaw took offense to Putin’s remarks, though no one disputed Lipski’s words, which have long been known to the public.

Read more …

 

 

 

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Dec 212017
 
 December 21, 2017  Posted by at 8:32 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Claude Monet Houses of Parliament (Sun Breaking through the Fog) 1904

 

Trump Plans Tax Bill Signing on January 3 Due to Technical Issue (BBG)
Why Wall Street Is Furious At The Trump Tax Plan (ZH)
Peak Valuations and Market Corrections (Rosso)
Silicon Valley Homes Going For Nearly $2 Million Over Asking Price (ZH)
Bitcoin Is Biggest Bubble Of Them All, And It’s The Fed’s Fault – Ron Paul (CNBC)
Uber Loses EU Court Fight as Judges Take Aim at Gig Economy (BBG)
Gloomy Brexit Forecasts For UK Are Coming True, Says IMF (G.)
Bank of England To Allow EU Banks To Operate Unchanged After Brexit (G.)
UK PM May Heads to Poland to Seek Brexit Ally After Firing Her Deputy (BBG)
Poland Protests EU ‘Nuclear Option’ Over Judicial Independence (G.)
Catalonia Poised For Hung Parliament In Bitterly Contested Election (G.)
How The US Swindled Russia in The Early 1990s (Zuesse)
Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Now Has A $1 Billion Price Tag (G.)
Russians, Chinese Seek Out Greek Properties for Bargains, Visas (BBG)
Lesvos Mayor Files Suit Over Conditions At Moria Migrant Camp (K.)

 

 

Don’t have the impression it’s a great piece of work. But the entire MSM has only one goal: bash anything Trump. A neutral assessment might be appropriate, but where does one get one?

Trump Plans Tax Bill Signing on January 3 Due to Technical Issue (BBG)

President Donald Trump plans to sign the tax bill on Jan. 3 to ensure automatic spending cuts to Medicare and other programs don’t take effect, according to a House Republican aide familiar with the plans. The White House informed House GOP members of the timetable, following the likely decision by House Republicans to leave the so-called PAYGO provision out of a year-end spending deal to avoid a government shut down before Friday, the person said who asked not to be named because the plan hasn’t been publicly announced. Trump and GOP leaders have repeatedly said the president would sign the legislation before Christmas. White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn signaled Wednesday morning that the signing date could be pushed back because of the potential for triggering the cuts.

Under the PAYGO law, automatic cuts to Medicare and other spending categories would be triggered by the tax bill in January because the bill is scored as increasing the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Waiting until January means that those cuts would be delayed until 2019, according to budget expert Ed Lorenzen of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. White House officials insisted that no firm timetable had been set. Trump could sign the tax legislation earlier if Congress passed a waiver to the PAYGO rules, but that is unlikely to happen before lawmakers leave Washington for a holiday recess. “I think we’re just working out some of the logistics on that,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday on Fox News. “He’ll sign it as quickly as he can.”

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But wait, wasn’t Trump making Wall Street that much richer?

Why Wall Street Is Furious At The Trump Tax Plan (ZH)

Back in October 2016, the “millionaire, billionaire, private jet owners” of America’s elitist, liberal mega-cities (A.K.A. New York and San Francisco) celebrated the tax hikes that a Hillary Clinton presidency would have undoubtedly jammed down their throats proclaiming them to be a ‘patriotic duty’. Unfortunately, now that Trump has given them exactly what they apparently wanted…an amazing opportunity to ‘spread their wealth around”…they’re suddenly feeling a lot less patriotic. Of course, as we’ve noted numerous times, while most people across the country and across the income spectrum will benefit from the Republican tax reform package, the folks who stand to lose are those living in high-tax states with expensive real estate as their SALT, mortgage interest and property tax deductions will suddenly be capped. And, as Bloomberg points out today, that has a lot of Wall Street Traders in New York drowning their sorrows in expensive vodka and considering a move to Florida.

“One trader, sipping a Bloody Mary on a morning flight to somewhere more tropical, said he’s going to stop registering as a Republican. En route, he sent more than a dozen text messages ripping the tax bill. A pair of hedge fund managers said the tax bill is too tilted toward corporations, rather than individuals who should get more relief. “My clients are hard-working young professionals on Wall Street. I don’t have a lot of good news for them,” said Douglas Boneparth, a financial adviser in lower Manhattan who counsels people throughout the industry. Most are coming to terms with it. “I don’t think anyone is going to be surprised by the economic reality.” “This provides a clear incentive for financial advisers to go independent,” said Louis Diamond of Diamond Consultants. “We’re hearing from a lot of clients on this; it’s just another reason why it makes a ton of sense, economically, to become self-employed.”

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All bubbles have limited lifespans.

Peak Valuations and Market Corrections (Rosso)

[..] global diversification has enhanced portfolio returns this year. Spreading wealth among different markets and sectors has allowed investors to capture strong equity performance. You see, on the trend higher, investors may seek to employ a series of risk horses to fully participate in the race. Fixed income or bonds, and cash equivalents do a good job of helping investors manage risk through bear markets as they are negatively correlated to stocks. On the way down, stocks across markets connect and head south in sync; some fall faster than others. Unfortunately, when stock diversification is needed the most, it fails. With current valuations and stock prices extended well beyond their long-term trends, investors must be aware of reversions that have the probability of wiping out a decade or longer in gains.

Stock diversification will not protect you if or when this occurs (let me know if you’ve heard this from your broker’s research hub as of late; I bet you haven’t). Strategists for big-box financial retailers are consistently wishy-washy when it comes to the current unsustainable altitude of stock prices. It’s not in their best interest to take a stand. It would be a death knell for their careers. Recently, one of the paunchiest of the brethren shared on CNBC: Stocks are “slightly overvalued;” followed by – “that doesn’t mean you should do anything here.” Perfect. Well done. That’s how seven-figure compensation packages are earned, folks. When it comes to retail investors, time is as or more precious a commodity as money; we at RIA consistently write and research the math of investment losses to make sure you remain emotionally grounded and don’t allow greed to blind your judgment. We are not afraid to outline the risks inherent in extended markets.

Personally, I’m not willing to give up a decade or two to break even. Are you? Don’t worry about your friendly neighborhood talking heads. They’ll continue to collect big paychecks and hefty year-end bonuses as long as they play senior managements’ game. A broker’s research department superstar spokesperson is paid handsomely to point out when markets reach new highs but rarely expound on how long it takes to achieve or in most cases, reclaim them. A big-box financial retail investment strategist’s primary role is to forge and fortify a firm’s presence or brand and help front-line brokers keep investors fully invested through rough market cycles, nothing more.

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It’s different this time, though….

Silicon Valley Homes Going For Nearly $2 Million Over Asking Price (ZH)

If you’re still holding out hope that the following chart is anything but another massive housing bubble in the making then you should probably ignore the disturbing evidence to the contrary that we’re about to present below… Back in 2005/2006, one of the key signs that housing markets across the country were overheating was the number of houses that, thanks to soaring demand from speculators, were suddenly selling at prices well in excess of their asking price. That said, as a local CBS affiliate in San Francisco points out, the premiums of 2005/2006 pale in comparison to homes in Silicon Valley today that are selling for as much as $1-$2 million over their original asking prices.

But if you thought they area housing market couldn’t get any more outrageous, consider a home on Colorado Avenue in Palo Alto. It listed for $2.9 million, but sold for $3.9 million, $1 million over asking price. Another home on Anacapa Drive in the Los Altos hills listed for $2.8 million, but sold for $4.5 million. That is $1.67 million over asking. Finally, there is this home on University Avenue in Los Altos that listed at $7.9 million, but sold for $1.8 million over asking. In 2017, 10 homes in the mid-Peninsula area sold for $1 million over asking. Six of those listings belonged to Deleon Realty.

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Where does the money come from that’s used to buy bitcoin?

Bitcoin Is Biggest Bubble Of Them All, And It’s The Fed’s Fault – Ron Paul (CNBC)

He’s taken on President Donald Trump and the Federal Reserve. Now, libertarian former congressman Ron Paul is taking on bitcoin. According to Paul, cryptocurrencies have become an asset that rivals the bubble he sees in stocks. “I think it’s going to continue to do exactly what it’s doing. It’s going higher and it’s going lower,” he said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Futures Now.” “We can look at what’s happening now, which to me is a climactic end of QEs.” Paul, who has done commercials touting currency competition for a company that benefits from bitcoin’s rise, views the crypto craze as a side effect of central banks doing several rounds of quantitative easing to cope with the last financial crisis. “I look at the problems we face. I think they’re gigantic and people are desperate and looking everywhere. Why would they buy bonds that pay negative interest rates? Why would they buy stocks, and say well this time it’s different? ” asked Paul.

“Cryptocurrency is a reflection of the disaster of the monetary dollar system.” Paul, who’s also a medical doctor and former Republican presidential candidate, argues that cryptocurrencies are in an “exponential bubble” where trying to calculate its real value is extremely difficult. Bitcoin, the largest of the cryptocurrencies, has been trading above $17,000. He hasn’t been able to pinpoint when a plunge could happen in cryptocurrencies or the stock market. But Paul says the danger is real. “They’re both big bubbles in the sense that it occurred because there was excessive credit. But if you look at the curves, I think that the cryptocurrency curve looks more threatening,” Paul said.

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Looks like ‘we are tech’ was always a losing argument.

Uber Loses EU Court Fight as Judges Take Aim at Gig Economy (BBG)

Uber Technologies Inc. will be regulated in European Union countries as a transport company after the bloc’s top court rejected its claim to be a digital service provider, a decision that could increase legal risks for other gig-economy companies including Airbnb. While the EU Court of Justice’s ruling covered UberPop – which used drivers without taxi licenses and has already been shuttered in many countries due to the legal issues – it’s a real blow as the first definitive finding that Uber must be regulated by transport authorities. The decision clarifies for the first time that connecting people via an app to non-professional drivers forms an integral part of a transport service. It rejects Uber’s view that such services are purely digital and could fuel further scrutiny of other gig-economy firms.

Paris regulators are already clamping down on Airbnb, treating the home-rental service more like a hotel, and British food-delivery start-up Deliveroo is in the spotlight for its treatment of workers. In the EU judges’ view, “the most important part of Uber’s business is the supply of transport – connecting passengers to drivers by their smartphones is secondary,” said Rachel Farr at law firm Taylor Wessing. “Without transport services, the business wouldn’t exist.” Uber has argued that it’s a technology platform connecting passengers with independent drivers, not a transportation company subject to the same rules as taxi services. The case has been closely watched by the technology industry because of its precedent for regulating the gig economy, where freelancers make money by plying everything from spare rooms to fast-food deliveries via apps on smartphones and PCs.

“After today’s judgment innovators will increasingly be subject to divergent national and sectoral rules,” said Jakob Kucharczyk, of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which speaks for companies like Uber, Amazon.com, Google and Facebook. “This is a blow to the EU’s ambition of building an integrated digital single market.” While the ruling is valid EU-wide, it remains limited to Uber’s services and won’t directly affect other disputes Uber is facing over how its drivers are treated. One such case is pending at the U.K. court of appeal.

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You don’t really need to be a genius to see this.

Gloomy Brexit Forecasts For UK Are Coming True, Says IMF (G.)

The IMF has strongly defended its gloomy forecasts for the UK after Brexit, saying pre-referendum warnings of slower growth were coming true. Christine Lagarde, the fund’s managing director, said the vote to leave the EU in June 2016 was already having an impact and Britain’s weaker growth this year was in contrast to accelerating activity in the rest of the world. Speaking at the Treasury as the IMF announced the results of its annual health check of the UK economy, Lagarde hit back at those who lambasted the fund when predictions of an immediate post-referendum recession failed to come to pass. “We feared that if Britain decided to leave, it would most likely entail a depreciation of sterling, higher inflation leading to a squeeze on disposable income and a reduction in investment,” she said.

“People said ‘Oh those experts’, but we are seeing the narrative we identified as a potential risk being rolled out as we speak. This is not the experts speaking, it’s what the economy is demonstrating.” The IMF trimmed its forecast for UK growth this year from 1.7% in October to 1.6%, and said it expected the economy to grow by 1.5% in 2018. It was one of several economic forecasters to say the UK would suffer a downturn should voters back leaving the EU. Last year, the fund had said growth for 2017 would be 1.1%, before raising the forecast to 2%. Since the turn of the year, Lagarde said activity had slowed notably and the UK’s recent performance was a disappointment in the light of the best showing by the global economy since the financial crash.

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A deliberate mess?

Bank of England To Allow EU Banks To Operate Unchanged After Brexit (G.)

The Bank of England plans to allow European banks to maintain their UK operations under current rules following Brexit, in a direct challenge to European Union regulators to adopt the same policy towards UK-based banks. The Bank said it wanted to press ahead with assessing the risks posed by the 177 banks and insurance companies based in the European Economic Area that have branches in London, following the agreement between Theresa May and EU officials to move to the second stage of Brexit talks. In a move that pre-empts trade talks between the UK and EU, the Bank said it would assess each foreign bank’s branch operation to decide whether it needed to be converted into a subsidiary, which effectively separates it from its overseas parent with its own capital.

Banks domiciled in the EEA will be keen to maintain UK branches, which are cheaper to run and come under more direct head office control. They also maintain their chief regulator in their home country. Most branches are expected to retain their current status despite needing to satisfy stringent rules. The BoE said it would carry out a broad assessment of the risks posed by branches, though it would rely heavily on cooperation with regulators across the EU. Branches that are considered to pose a systemic risk to London’s financial centre could be forced to convert to being subsidiaries. The Treasury is expected to give the Bank additional powers to supervise foreign bank branches in the UK, a job largely done by regulators based inside the EU.

Some pro-Brexit campaigners are expected to view the move as throwing away a major bargaining chip in trade talks. The UK might have threatened to block EU access to facilities in the City as the price of concessions in other areas, such as manufacturing and fishing rights. However, Mark Carney, the Bank’s governor, told MPs on the Treasury select committee on Wednesday that the decision to allow EU banks to continue operating under existing UK rules had been taken on the assumption that a “high degree of supervisory cooperation with the EU” would continue after Brexit.

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Desperate?!

UK PM May Heads to Poland to Seek Brexit Ally After Firing Her Deputy (BBG)

Fresh from sacking her trusted deputy, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May heads to Poland on Thursday to attempt to get close – but not too close – to its new government. May was forced to tell First Secretary of State Damian Green to resign Wednesday afternoon after an inquiry into his behavior found he’d made misleading statements over pornography found on his parliamentary computer by police nearly a decade ago. Green is the third Cabinet minister to quit in two months. A couple of recent Brexit-related successes mean the prime minister is better equipped to handle Green’s departure than she might have been a month ago: The European Union has agreed to move negotiations on to the next phase, and late Wednesday, May’s flagship Brexit Bill completed the detailed scrutiny stage of its journey through the House of Commons.

Still, his departure leaves her without her closest ally in Cabinet. The flight to Warsaw will give May a chance to consider how she manages without him. She’ll be accompanied by her most senior ministers for a summit where she’ll promise cooperation on defense and security as part of a charm offensive to win friends in Europe before negotiations on post-Brexit trade start in March. But Poland’s rift with the EU over judicial reforms – and its government’s fears of a shortfall in EU funding after Britain leaves the bloc – threaten to overshadow the meeting with new Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. “The prime minister will raise her concerns with the prime minister when they meet,” May’s spokesman James Slack told reporters in London.

“We place importance on respect for the rule of law and we expect all our partners to abide by international norms and standards.” Britain’s rush to forge links with Morawiecki’s populist administration reflects a desire both to win friends for the talks ahead and to reassure former eastern European countries that it will continue to support them against Russian expansionism after Brexit. British troops are already stationed in Poland, and May will announce increased cooperation on cyber security.

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You are not sovereign. All your base are belong to us.

Poland Protests EU ‘Nuclear Option’ Over Judicial Independence (G.)

The Polish government has accused the European commission of a politically motivated attack after the EU’s executive body triggered a process that could see the country stripped of voting rights in Brussels, over legal changes that the bloc claims threaten the independence of the judiciary. In a highly symbolic moment, Poland’s fellow 27 EU member states were advised by the commission on Wednesday that the legislative programme of Poland’s government was putting at risk fundamental values expected of a democratic state by allowing political interference in its courts. The row represents the greatest crisis in the EU since Britain’s decision to leave the EU last year, with the Polish government showing little inclination to back down.

Frans Timmermans, the vice-president of the commission, told reporters in Brussels that in two years 13 laws had been adopted that put at serious risk the independence of Poland’s judiciary and the separation of powers. “Judicial reforms in Poland mean that the country’s judiciary is now under the political control of the ruling majority. In the absence of judicial independence, serious questions are raised about the effective application of EU law,” Timmermans, a former Dutch diplomat, said. “We are doing this for Poland, for Polish citizens.” Poland’s new prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, responded on Twitter: “Poland is as devoted to the rule of law as the rest of the EU.” The Polish foreign ministry said in a statement: “Poland deplores the European commission’s launch of the procedure […] which is essentially political, not legal.”

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‘Election’ today. Can’t even really call this an election. The goal seems to be to divide the independence vote among multiple parties.

Catalonia Poised For Hung Parliament In Bitterly Contested Election (G.)

Catalans head to the polls on Thursday to vote in an extraordinary and bitterly contested election that will pit secessionists against unionists and determine the next phase of the long-running campaign for independence from Spain. The election was called by the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, at the end of October when the central government took control of Catalonia and sacked the regional government after it staged an illegal independence referendum and made a unilateral declaration of independence. Polls suggest Catalonia is set for a hung parliament, with the pro-independence Catalan Republican Left party (ERC) vying for first place with the unionist, centre-right Citizens party.

With no clear winner in sight, Thursday’s result is likely to lead to coalition negotiations to form a government that will either maintain the drive for independence in some form or defend the constitutional status quo. Tensions remain high in the region following the referendum and the Spanish police’s heavy-handed efforts to stop it. Secessionists believe that Madrid’s imposition of direct rule and the jailing of senior independence leaders could increase support for their cause. Unionists, however, argue that Catalans are sick of the social unrest and economic uncertainty generated by the unilateral actions of the government of deposed regional president Carles Puigdemont.

The exceptional circumstances surrounding the election are compounded by the fact that Puigdemont has been campaigning from Belgium. He fled to Brussels hours before Spain’s attorney general asked for charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds to be brought against his cabinet almost two months ago. Puigdemont’s former number two, Oriol Junqueras, has been fighting the election from prison, where he and two prominent independence leaders are being held as part of a judicial investigation into October’s events. “This is not a normal election,” Puigdemont told supporters via video link on Tuesday evening as the campaign drew to a close.

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A long list of documents. NATO expansion.

How The US Swindled Russia in The Early 1990s (Zuesse)

Due to a historic data-dump on December 10th, the biggest swindle that occurred in the 20th Century (or perhaps ever) is now proven as a historical fact; and this swindle was done by the US Government, against the Government and people of Russia, and it continues today and keeps getting worse under every US President. It was secretly started by US President George Herbert Walker Bush on the night of 24 February 1990; and, unless it becomes publicly recognized and repudiated so that it can stop, a nuclear war between the US and all of NATO on one side, versus Russia on the other, is inevitable unless Russia capitulates before then, which would be vastly less likely than such a world-ending nuclear war now is.

This swindle has finally been displayed beyond question, by this, the first-ever complete release of the evidence. It demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt (as you’ll verify yourself from the evidence here), that US President G.H.W. Bush (and his team) lied through their teeth to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (and his team) to end the Cold War on Russia’s side, when the US team were secretly determined never to end it on the US-and-NATO side until Russia itself is conquered. And this swindle continues today, and keeps getting worse and worse for Russians.

Until now, apologists for the US-Government side have been able to get away with various lies about these lies, such as that there weren’t any, and that Gorbachev didn’t really think that the NATO issue was terribly important for Russia’s future national security anyway, and that the only limitation upon NATO’s future expansion that was discussed during the negotiations to end the Cold War concerned NATO not expanding itself eastward (i.e., closer to Russia) within Germany, not going beyond the then-existing dividing-line between West and East Germany — that no restriction against other east-bloc (Soviet-allied) nations ever being admitted into NATO was discussed, at all. The now-standard US excuse that the deal concerned only Germany and not all of Europe is now conclusively disproven by the biggest single data-dump ever released about those negotiations.

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When everything is measured in monetary value, nothing will be left in the end.

Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Now Has A $1 Billion Price Tag (G.)

Years ago, camping in Alaska’s Arctic national wildlife refuge, I watched a herd of caribou – 100,000 bulls, cows and their three-week-old calves – braid over the tundra, moving to a rhythm as old as the wind. “Not many places like this left today,” said my friend Jeff, sitting next to me above an ice-fringed river. And so Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski believes this refuge – 80 miles east of Prudhoe Bay – could generate $1bn over 10 years once it’s opened to oil leasing. She and her Republican colleagues slipped this drilling provision into the Senate Republican tax bill. Murkowski repeatedly says this development would cover just 2,000 acres, “about one ten-thousandth of ANWR”.

The acronym ANWR conveniently deletes the words “wildlife” and “refuge”, with no regard for the polar bears, Arctic fox, musk oxen and migratory ground-nesting birds that come there every summer, some species from as far away as Patagonia. Alaska’s lieutenant governor, Byron Mallott, has said that drilling in ANWR is necessary to deal with climate change. His caddywhompus logic: we need to drill for more oil to raise money to address a problem that’s caused by humanity’s addiction to oil. Why not just say the truth? We want the money. Murkowski adds: “We have waited nearly 40 years for the right technology to come along for a footprint small enough for the environment to be respected.” They have not. Alaskans have been trying to drill here for decades, using one crazy rationale after another.

At one hearing the state’s lone congressman, Don Young, put a blue pen mark on his nose to show how small the industry footprint would be. Clever man. The development would in fact be a spider web of roads, pipelines, well pads and landing strips smack in the middle of the biological heart of the refuge. It would look less like a refuge and more like Prudhoe Bay, where thousands of spills have been reported. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington says the whole idea is “ludicrous”, noting that the Republican tax plan would add roughly $1.5tn to the national deficit in five years [with the richest 1% of Americans reaping half of the tax cuts]. “I am disturbed,” she says. She should be. Christopher Lewis, a retired BP manager of exploration, has said: “I do not believe that there are any adequate, commercially viable reservoirs in the Arctic refuge.” The reality is “there are other less sensitive and less costly places to explore”.

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Brutal.

Russians, Chinese Seek Out Greek Properties for Bargains, Visas (BBG)

George Kachmazov, a Russian realtor, is buying up property in Athens. The Moscow-based chief executive officer of real-estate platform Tranio.com has bought a building in the Greek capital and is in the process of acquiring five others with a view to selling apartments to international investors. For Kachmazov, the sales pitch is clear: buying property in Greece can give an investor a so-called golden visa to the country – and with it an entree into much of Europe. What’s more, the country’s real estate market may be poised for a rebound, helping buyers make some money on their purchase. “Greece’s real estate market is one of the remaining few in Europe that hasn’t recovered since the 2008 economic crisis,” Kachmazov said in an interview in Athens.

Prices in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Poland and Hungary are heading toward pre-crisis levels because of high liquidity in Europe, he said. Kachmazov is among agents making a beeline for Greece to help property hunters from Russia, China, Turkey and elsewhere bet on a market that may be on the cusp of a revival as the country exits its bailout program in August 2018. Property prices in Greece have fallen more than the 25% contraction in the economy since Europe’s sovereign debt crisis began in 2008. Prices of apartments in Athens more than five years old shrank by 45% between 2008 and June 2017, according to Bank of Greece data.

“The belief is that the worst is over and that this is a good time to take advantage of the low prices and to benefit from future capital gains as the market recovers,” said Carrie Law, CEO of Juwai.com, a Chinese international property website. Juwai this year signed an agreement with Warren Buffett’s real estate brokerage firm to advertise homes in the U.S. The average price per square meter in Greece is 2,846 euros ($3,369), according to Germany-based statistics company Statista. That’s almost 1,000 euros cheaper than Portugal, which has a similar golden visa program for property buyers, one and a half times cheaper than in Spain and Germany, and almost three times cheaper than in Italy and Austria. Greece is more expensive than Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Estonia.

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There are reportedly highly superior facilities lying idle on the mainland. But the EU doesn’t want the refugees there.

Lesbos Mayor Files Suit Over Conditions At Moria Migrant Camp (K.)

The mayor of the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos has filed suit against all responsible parties over the conditions at the Moria refugee and migrant processing center. Spyros Galinos filed his suit in Lesvos’s Court of Misdemeanors, claiming that the law is being broken at the government-run facility, which is supervised by the military. His action comes two days after foreign media published videos shot covertly inside the camp and showing the squalor and cramped conditions to which thousands of refugees and migrants are being subjected. The mayor stressed that the facility, a former military base, should not be accommodating more than 1,800 people at a time if decent living standards are to be ensured.

“Unfortunately, though, for the past two years and this year especially there is an extremely large number of third-country citizens and vulnerable groups (men, women – among which pregnant women – and children) indiscriminately trapped and cramped together, coming to more than 6,000 individuals,” Galinos said in his lawsuit. He also stressed poor safety and sanitation standards, saying that an inadequate water and sewerage network is putting the lives of the camp’s residents and workers at risk. People living at the camp “every day experience serious psychological problems and have been led to suicide attempts and self-harm, while others are compelled to serious acts of lawlessness in order to survive,” Galinos said.

His suit came just hours after about a dozen people were injured in a brawl that went on for hours between rival groups at the camp and resulted in extensive destruction. The mayor further stressed the impact of conditions at Moria on the lives of the island’s residents, saying that authorities are failing in their duty to control and monitor such a large number of refugees and migrants. Galinos added that overcrowding at the camp has forced hundreds of migrants to move into the main town of Mytilene in search of some kind of shelter, “taking over public spaces, the city’s parks, sidewalks and courtyards of public and municipal buildings.” In the suit, Galinos asks that “all responsible parties” are taken to task over the situation, as “their actions and omissions are malicious and deliberate, and put at risk the desperate and poor people trapped in [Moria’s] illegal facilities.”

“The disruption of social cohesion and the risk of criminal offenses in defense of life and property by a part of the island’s native population is evident and very likely,” Galinos warned. Since the onset of the refugee crisis at the start of 2015, the residents of Lesvos and its mayor have been distinguished for the support they have given to tens of thousands of migrants that have landed on the island’s shores.

Read more …

Dec 182017
 
 December 18, 2017  Posted by at 10:44 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  11 Responses »


Russell Lee Sign Along the Road Near Capulin New Mexico 1939

 

Bitcoin Futures Crash Over $2000 From Open (ZH)
Bitcoin’s Illiquidity Is Going To Be A Huge Problem (BI)
Japan Exports Boom, But Inflation Not Following Script (R.)
China Should Let Its Migrant Workers Roam Free (Pettis)
Desperate UK Homeowners Are Cutting Prices – Zoopla (G.)
UK Banks Tell May: A Canada-Style Brexit Deal Is Not Good Enough (G.)
Why Business Could Prosper Under A Corbyn Government (Pettifor)
Heretics Welcome! Economics Needs A New Reformation (G.)
Merkel’s Last Stand – Article 7 For Poland (Luongo)
Cash Still King For The Majority Of Greek Consumers, Employers (K.)
Greece Drafts Law to Accelerate Migrant Asylum Applications And Returns (K.)
If Money Rewarded Hard Work, Moms Would Be The Billionaires (CJ)

 

 

Shaky, but give it time before deciding.

Bitcoin Futures Crash Over $2000 From Open (ZH)

Update: Bitcoin and Bitcoin Futures have collapsed since the futures opened…

Dropping over $2200 to converge with spot…

Both CME and CBOE Bitcoin Futures contracts opened above $20,000 this evening (with Bitcoin spot hovering around $19,000). However, as soon as trading started, Bitcoin futures got hammered lower.

Those expecting a surge in futs volumes on the CME vs the CBOE will be disappointed: In fact, spoting actual trades in the first few minutes of trading is not heavy to say the least. Obviously Jan is seeing all the volume… And March not so much… (let alone the $1200 bid-offer spread).

The lack of trading will likely be a surprise to those who were expecting a more “vigorous” futures launch on the CME, such as Brooks Dudley, vice president of risk in New York at ED&F Man Capital Markets who told Bloomberg that “CME’s bitcoin contract may not be first, but they are a larger futures clearinghouse and we are looking forward to our clients trading their product on Sunday evening. Not all market participants have been able to short the Cboe bitcoin futures. We have allowed our clients to go long or short to take advantage of dislocations between the futures and the underlying spot market.” For now, nobody appears to be taking advantage of anything.

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This seems to be a reasonable fear.

Bitcoin’s Illiquidity Is Going To Be A Huge Problem (BI)

This chart shows a seven-day average of the total number of minutes it takes to confirm a bitcoin transaction, since May 2016. Like the price of bitcoin itself, transaction time has been rising as the months go by. At the time of writing, it took four-and-a-half hours to confirm a bitcoin trade, on average:

If you are holding bitcoin, and you’re worried that the price is a bubble – it cleared $17,000 last week – then bitcoin transaction times should really start to scare you. The price of bitcoin is shifting up and down by hundreds or thousands of dollars each day. No one knows what the price will be one hour from now, except that we know it will be very, very different. The schedule for the world’s largest ICO, the $500 million Dragon casino offering, has been pushed back two weeks, the company says, “due to the extreme congestion on both the Bitcoin and Ethereum Networks, [in which] ICO investors or contributors have faced significant challenges when transferring their Bitcoin and Ethereum to participate in the Dragon Pre-ICO.”

The transaction time is built into the system. Each transaction must be confirmed by six bitcoin miners, and that takes time. There is a finite number of miners, and the more transactions they have to confirm, the longer it takes as their network bandwidth gets filled. Worse, they charge for transactions and prioritise transactions based on price. Those who pay more get processed first. Imagine how bad this is going to get on the day some negative news hits the wires and the really significant holders of bitcoin decide, “I’ve had enough of this. I’ve made my money. I am bailing.” The majority of bitcoins are held by a tiny percentage of the market. 40% are held by 1,000 people. Those few major holders can crash the market whenever they want.

As anyone who remembers the market crashes of 2000 and 2008 knows, these things happen fast. Billions get wiped off the market in minutes. People who need to cash out now, but who are an hour or so behind the news, can lose their shirts. It is brutal. And blockchain just isn’t equipped to deal with it. Part of the increase in transaction time has, no doubt, been caused by the recent arrival of new, less knowledgeable investors who are coming into the market only because they have seen the headlines about the price of bitcoin going up, up, up. That gives us an idea of just how congested it will be on the way down. It will also be expensive. By some counts, transaction fees are doubling every three months. Ars Technica reported that fees reached $26 per trade recently.

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Abe’s going to have to force his people to spend at gunpoint. And then find out they can’t.

Japan Exports Boom, But Inflation Not Following Script (R.)

Japanese exports accelerated sharply in November, yet again pointing to growing momentum in the world’s third-biggest economy. There was just one catch: inflation remained stubbornly low and well off the central bank’s 2% target. The combination of steady growth and benign consumer prices mean the Bank of Japan will lag other major central banks in exiting crisis-era monetary stimulus, with analysts widely expecting BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda to keep the liquidity tap wide open at a meeting later this week. “Inflation expectation is in a gradual recovery trend, but a gap between firm economic indicators and weak price indexes remains wide open,” said Yuichiro Nagai, economist at Barclays Securities.

Indeed, a BOJ survey on Monday showed companies’ inflation expectations heightened only a touch in December from three months ago, despite a tight labor market and business confidence at over a decade high. The persistently low inflation – with core prices running at an annual pace of 0.8% – was also hard to square off with the robust performance of Japan Inc., which has benefited from booming exports thanks to upbeat global demand. Separate data from the Ministry of Finance showed exports grew 16.2% in the year to November, beating a 14.6% gain expected by economists in a Reuters poll and accelerating from the prior month’s 14.0% increase, led by a stellar sales to China and Asia.

[..] “The BOJ will likely be forced into cutting its price projections once again in its quarterly outlook report in January. That will highlight a distance to an exit from the BOJ’s monetary stimulus,” said Barclays’ Nagai. The BOJ quarterly “tankan” survey on corporate inflation expectations survey showed companies expect consumer prices to rise 0.8% a year from now, slightly ahead of their projection for a 0.7% increase three months ago. The marginal nudge up in expectations underscored why inflation is still well off the BOJ’s target, with firms expecting consumer prices to rise an annual 1.1% three years from now and 1.1% five years ahead, unchanged from three months ago, the survey showed.

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They’ll all go to the same places though.

China Should Let Its Migrant Workers Roam Free (Pettis)

Over the past few weeks, people here in Beijing have been riveted by the so-called migrant “clean-out” – the government’s attempt to evict tens of thousands of migrant workers from their homes in the poorer parts of the city. What’s not being discussed, however, is how the crackdown could threaten one of the government’s other main priorities: managing debt. In China, mobility is legally restricted according to a household registration system, called the hukou. Chinese citizens receive an urban or rural hukou which officially identifies them as residents of a specific area and which allows them to live and work only in that area. Few if any of the migrant workers affected by the current sweep possess a Beijing hukou. Previously, this didn’t really matter.

For the past three decades, during the period of China’s furious economic growth, the country’s fastest-growing regions were desperate for cheap labor to fill factories and build infrastructure. With local government officials graded in large part on their ability to generate rapid growth, they largely ignored hukou restrictions and made migration into their cities easy. Hundreds of millions of workers traveled from their hukou areas to wherever there were jobs, in particular big cities such as Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai. The attitudes of local authorities may be changing now as the economy slows and officials become more concerned about unemployment and tensions over access to schools and other social services. One of the easiest tools the authorities have to manage both problems is to enforce the hukou rules that are already on the books.

In Beijing, the campaign is broadly popular among legal residents, who complain about overcrowding and rising rents. If it spreads, however, the crackdown could carry a significant macroeconomic cost. Enforcing the residency system nationally could severely limit labor mobility in China. This would in turn constrain monetary policy, which is critical to minimizing the cost to China of what’s likely to be a very difficult adjustment after decades of deeply unbalanced growth. How exactly would this happen? It’s important to remember that while China is a huge economy with a great deal of variety across different regions, it can nonetheless operate effectively with a single currency because it has most of the characteristics of an optimum currency area. In the 1960s, Columbia University’s Robert Mundell argued that four conditions were required to establish such an area.

They include high levels of labor mobility, high levels of capital mobility, a system of transfers that shares risks across the region, and coordinated business cycles. If labor mobility in China slows dramatically, growth rates in different parts of the country would diverge even more than they have already, rather than converge. As a result, monetary policies aimed at restraining credit growth overall might end up being too tight for some regions, leading to accelerating bankruptcies, and too loose for others, fueling out-of-control credit growth.

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Inevitable.

Desperate UK Homeowners Are Cutting Prices – Zoopla (G.)

Price cutting by homeowners desperate to shift their property in a slowing market has reached the highest levels in six years, according to an analysis by website Zoopla. Just over 35% of the homes marketed on the site have marked down their price in the hope of achieving a sale, with the biggest discounts in the London property market. The 35% figure compares with 29% just before the EU referendum in 2016, although it is below the levels recorded in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Sellers in Richmond and Kingston upon Thames in south-west London, both relatively prosperous areas, are among those to have made the deepest reductions in sale prices. Zoopla put the average mark-down by sellers in Kingston at £84,244.

It added that around half of all the properties for sale in Kingston and other nearby locations such as Mitcham and Camberley in Surrey have been reduced since their first listing, indicating that sellers are having to significantly readjust their hopes in the light of the Brexit vote. Lawrence Hall, at Zoopla, said it was good news for first-time buyers trying to get on the property ladder. “A slight rise in levels of discounting is to be expected at this time of year when house-hunters are likely to be delaying their property search until activity picks up in January,” Hall said. “Those on the look-out for a bargain should consider looking in Camberley or Kingston upon Thames in the south, or areas of the north-east – home to some of Britain’s biggest discounts.”

The average asking price reduction across the country currently stands at £25,562, according to Zoopla. The property website said towns in Scotland and northern England have proved more resilient to discounts. About 16% of homes in Edinburgh have been reduced in price, followed by 19% in Salford, 22% in Glasgow, and 25% in Manchester – all below the national average. In London, 39% of property listings have recorded a price reduction, up from 37% in July.

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Banks want to be no. 1 consideration.

UK Banks Tell May: A Canada-Style Brexit Deal Is Not Good Enough (G.)

Britain’s banks have written to Theresa May and Philip Hammond warning that a Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU post-Brexit is not ambitious enough and that alignment with EU rules on finance is crucial. The open letter from UK Finance, which represents major banks and other financial institutions, said the government must place the City at the centre of Brexit trade talks or risk dealing a major blow to the economy. “Ceta [the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada] is an interesting template, but given the UK and the EU 27 start from a position of regulatory convergence that the UK and Canada didn’t have, we should seek to be far more ambitious,” said the letter.

The banks congratulated May on successfully negotiating a move to the second phase of withdrawal negotiations with the EU, which it called the first substantive evidence that a final deal could be agreed. But the trade body called on the government to avoid a cliff-edge Brexit and broker a smooth transition by focusing on alignment with Europe. “Pragmatic decisions to align the two regimes from a regulatory perspective … should be seen not as concessions, but as mechanisms to maximise benefits and choice within a deep regional capital market for the benefit of citizens and our economies,” it said. The alternative is “an unnecessary loss” of GDP, it added.

“A high degree of mutual cross-border market access is fundamental to the continued success of our financial services sector – and to the success of the economies and citizens which our sector serves in the UK and the EU 27,” UK Finance wrote.

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Stimulus instead of austerity.

Why Business Could Prosper Under A Corbyn Government (Pettifor)

[..] polling shows that the British people are disillusioned with the privatisation of key sectors, and favour nationalisation. They seek protection from the impact of deregulated market forces on their lives and livelihoods and on their children’s prospects. Business leaders have been made aware – by the IMF, the OECD and the Bank for International Settlements – that the Conservatives’ dependence on what David Cameron called his government’s “monetary radicalism and fiscal conservatism” has gone too far. There is now real concern about the long-term impact of quantitative easing which, coupled with austerity, has led to rocketing asset prices, falling wages and rising inequality. Those with access to central bank largesse have been enriched as the prices of assets have risen; while those without assets and dependent on earnings have suffered as incomes have fallen in real terms.

Falling incomes and spare capacity have not been good for business. While the Treasury, the Office for Budget Responsibility, an independent watchdog, and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, a thinktank, have obsessed over supply-side issues, politicians have been persuaded by economists to sit on their hands, as Britain’s economy falters under huge, unused capacity. Howard Bogod, who runs a business with a turnover of under £20m, wrote recently: “Economic models have failed to explain why wages have not increased as unemployment has fallen so low. These same models are incorrect in their conclusions about productivity growth – indeed these two failures are linked. My conclusion based on observing actual businesses is that if nominal demand were to continue to grow then both productivity and real wages would start to grow more quickly, and economists would again be left scratching their heads.”

There is, nevertheless, anxiety over the scale of Labour’s public investment plans and their impact on the UK’s credit rating. But Labour has a record, in key respects, of being more fiscally conservative than Conservatives. For example, a review by economists at Policy Research in Macroeconomics of current budget deficits or surpluses (that is, excluding public investment) for the whole period before the global financial crisis, from 1956 to 2008, reveals that Conservative governments had an average annual surplus of 0.3% of GDP, while Labour governments had an average annual surplus of 1.1%.

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“Steve Keen, dressed in a monk’s habit and wielding a blow up hammer, could be found outside the London School of Economics last week. ..”

Heretics Welcome! Economics Needs A New Reformation (G.)

In October 1517, an unknown Augustinian monk by the name of Martin Luther changed the world when he grabbed a hammer and nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The Reformation started there. The tale of how the 95 theses were posted is almost certainly false. Luther never mentioned the incident and the first account of it didn’t surface until after his death. But it makes a better story than Luther writing a letter (which is what probably happened), and that’s why the economist Steve Keen, dressed in a monk’s habit and wielding a blow up hammer, could be found outside the London School of Economics last week.

Keen and those supporting him (full disclosure: I was one of them) were making a simple point as he used Blu Tack to stick their 33 theses to one of the world’s leading universities: economics needs its own Reformation just as the Catholic church did 500 years ago. Like the mediaeval church, orthodox economics thinks it has all the answers. Complex mathematics is used to mystify economics, just as congregations in Luther’s time were deliberately left in the dark by services conducted in Latin. Neo-classical economics has become an unquestioned belief system and treats anybody who challenges the creed of self-righting markets and rational consumers as dangerous heretics. Keen was one of those heretics. He was one of the economists who knew there was big trouble brewing in the years leading up to the financial crisis of a decade ago but whose warnings were ignored.

The reason Keen was proved right was that he paid no heed to the equilibrium models favoured by mainstream economics. He looked at what was actually happening rather than having a preconceived view of what ought to be happening. Somewhat depressingly, nothing much has happened, even though it was a crisis neo-classical economics said could not happen. There was a brief dalliance with unorthodox remedies when things were really bleak in the winter of 2008-09, but by late 2009 and early 2010, there was a return to business as normal.

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“.. invoking Article 7 will eventually allow the European Parliament to rescind all economic aid to Poland and its voting rights within the body.”

Merkel’s Last Stand – Article 7 For Poland (Luongo)

As she fights for her political life Soon-to-be-ex-Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel will go down swinging against her stiffest political opponents in the European Union, the Poles. Merkel and French President Emmanual Macron publicly agreed to back Article 7 proceedings against Poland for refusing to comply with EU immigration quotas and changes to its judicial system. Immigration quotas, I might add, that are becoming harder to defend as the war in Syria is mostly over and the flow of refugees from there has slowed to a trickle. But, those brought in and stranded in camps in Italy and Greece apparently need to go somewhere else. But, no one wants them. And the rest of the EU is trying to bully Poland and the rest of the Visigrad countries – Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia – into taking on their ‘fair share.’

The problem with this is that Merkel made this decision unilaterally and foisted it on the rest of the EU. And she is determined not to lose this fight to Poland, not because this is any kind of humanitarian issue at this point. No, this is about the primacy of EU diktats being enforced at the expense of logic and political cohesion. And, as I’ve been warning about all year, Merkel will put the EU before any practical consideration and bring Article 7 proceedings against Poland. Because she has to. Immigration and the destruction of individual European cultures is the guiding principle behind the EU’s biggest benefactors. This policy is part of the long-term strategic goals of the EU. It has created an army which will be used to quell secessionist movements in the name of ‘continental security.’ Because despite the fevered dreams of a few hundred Latvians, the Russians are not invading Europe anytime soon.

And I have to wonder who will staff this Grand Army of the Oligarchy? After impoverishing an entire generation of people thanks to a decade-long banking system bailout, you shouldn’t be expecting the crème de la crème of the vanishing European middle class. You can expect a number of these newly-integrated immigrants that Merkel invited at everyone else’s expense will be in their ranks. And only the most politically-acceptable members of the current armies of each country will be invited to positions of authority in this new EU army. Their loyalty will be to the EU first and their homes second. The very definition of a Vichy gendarme for the 21st century. Poland and the rest of the Visigrad Four – Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia – are headed for a collision course with the rest of Western Europe over this issue and many others.

And invoking Article 7 will eventually allow the European Parliament to rescind all economic aid to Poland and its voting rights within the body. While at that same time not allowing Poland free access to international trade because it will not be an independent nation at that point. Any move to extricate itself from the EU politically or practically will be met with the most strident opposition. Look no further than Brexit talks and the brutal put-down of Catalonia’s independence movement to see Poland’s future.

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They have that in common with Germans.

Cash Still King For The Majority Of Greek Consumers, Employers (K.)

Greeks love cash: Not only do they make most of their payments in cash – more than in any other eurozone country – but they also use it to pay their regular monthly obligations, such as utility bills, rent and even their taxes. The main reason for this proclivity for paper money is not an inherent aversion towards electronic payments, but that the vast majority of Greeks, far more than in other eurozone member states, still get paid in cash. This is evident in the recent European Central Bank survey on cash use in eurozone households, which showed that 57% of Greeks are paid in paper. Cyprus and Slovenia come a distant second, with a rate of 28%, while in the other eurozone countries the share of people getting paid “cash in hand” ranges between 5 and 20%.

Behind this particularly high rate of people paid in cash in Greece lies the large number of small or family owned enterprises and freelancers who work for cash. This also serves to illustrate the extensive tax evasion in this country, which tends to be focused on a series of professional categories, mainly among freelancers. The above figures concern 2016, while banks estimate that this picture has started changing considerably after the compulsory payment of salaried workers via a bank account from early 2017. The ECB figures show that the cash culture is not a strictly Greek phenomenon, as 79% of transactions in the eurozone – with great variations from country to country – are conducted with coins and banknotes.

Yet contrary to European habits, Greeks use cash for a series of transactions that are regular every month: 40% of Greeks pay their taxes in cash against just 9% in the eurozone, 50% use paper to pay for their insurance against 10% in the eurozone, and 70% pay for their medicines in cash against 31% in the eurozone. Similarly, electricity and phone bills are paid by 60% of Greeks in cash, compared to 16% in the eurozone, and 30% of rents are covered by cash against just 6% in the eurozone. ECB data also revealed that Greeks hold an average of 80 euros in cash on them, against the Spaniards’ 50 euros and the Italians’ 69 euros, while the Portuguese like to keep just 29 euros at hand.

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In a system as overwhelmed as it is, this does not spell a lot of good.

Greece Drafts Law to Accelerate Migrant Asylum Applications And Returns (K.)

In a bid to ease growing pressure on overcrowded refugee camps on Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, the government is drafting a law to accelerate the process of granting asylum to refugees with a bill expected to go to Parliament as early as this week. Arrivals of migrants from Turkey radically dropped after Ankara signed an agreement with the European Union to crack down on human smuggling over the Aegean. But the influx has picked up in recent months. Also the process of returning migrants to Turkey, as foreseen by the pact, is very slow, partly due to the influence of critics of the deal within leftist SYRIZA. “The only way to deal with the problem on the Greek islands is for the EU-Turkey agreement to be effectively enforced and for there to be a significant number of returns to Turkey,” an official at the Citizens’ Protection Ministry told Kathimerini.

Since the deal was signed in March 2016, around 48,600 migrants have arrived on the Greek islands, according to the United Nations refugee agency. During that time only some 1, 500 people have been returned to Turkey. Thousands of asylum applications are pending, chiefly because migrants generally appeal rejected claims. At a summit of EU leaders last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pledged to bolster Greek efforts to accelerate the asylum process and to help increase the presence of Frontex, the EU’s border monitoring agency, at the country’s frontiers with Turkey and Bulgaria, Greek officials said. Meanwhile, there are concerns that a decision by the government to move migrants from cramped island camps to the mainland could encourage smugglers to bring more migrants to Greece.

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“There’s something wrong with a valuing system that doesn’t recognize healthy humans, or the redistribution of goods, or the disappearing of problems forever.”

If Money Rewarded Hard Work, Moms Would Be The Billionaires (CJ)

Ask a woman right now how her Christmas is going and she will almost certainly unfurl her to-do list before your eyes, from the turkey to the costumes for the kids’ concerts. They should call it the Season of To-dos. For women, anyway. Christmas is the one time of the year when the gender pay gap is an open festering wound. Most of women’s work goes unvalued, unpaid, unseen by the patriarchal valuing system we call money. It’s invisible to money but it’s also pretty invisible even to ourselves. For a woman, it’s just what you do. For men, it’s stuff that just… happens. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to give up being Santa. I love it, I’m good at it, and I still do it for my kids even though they’re way past believing. That doesn’t mean it’s not work and it’s not worth something. People love their work and still get money for it.

(A little aside: isn’t it interesting that the man behind Santa is almost never a man? It’s almost like the patriarchy wants to take the credit for all of women’s work at Christmas time.) But whoever coined the term “holiday season” was clearly a bloke. It ain’t no holiday. For women, it’s the busiest time of the year. There’s something really broken about a valuing system that doesn’t recognize how much important work goes into bringing up children, socially integrating the tribe, bonding with each other and appreciating the beauty of each individual in the family and all the gifts they bring. A valuing system that doesn’t recognize the gains of having good-natured humans brought up in solid, loving environments that are closely networked in the goodwill economy. A family that will look after each other.

There’s something wrong with a valuing system that doesn’t recognize healthy humans, or the redistribution of goods, or the disappearing of problems forever. There’s something deeply sick about a valuing system that only knows how to pay people to make more problems, more sickness, more work for themselves. Invent a problem, and then sell your “solution” to it. That’s pretty much every business model ever. Libertarians will tell you earnestly that all our valuing decisions should be left up to “the markets.” If left to its own devices, the intelligence of money is meant to somehow create a handsome retirement savings package for a hardworking single mom of six. It’s somehow going to pay people to reuse and redistribute goods that they don’t need and fill all the unused houses with house-less people. It’s going to reward leaving minerals in the ground and pay for people to be healthy and live simply and for the environment to flourish and sustain life.

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Dec 112017
 
 December 11, 2017  Posted by at 10:27 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


MC Escher Balcony 1945

 

Bitcoin Futures Top $18,000, Soar 20% From Open – Halted for Second Time (ZH)
Investors Told to Brace for Steepest Rate Hikes Since 2006 (BBG)
The Struggle To Maintain The “Standard Of Living” (Roberts)
China Audit Finds Provinces Faked Data and Borrowed Illegally (BBG)
Markets Tell You What To Do If You Listen (Peters)
UK Seeking ‘Canada Plus Plus Plus’ EU Trade Deal (BBG)
Brexit’s Just A Distraction To The Real Problem: UK’s Clapped-Out Economy (G.)
Poland Risks Being the EU’s Rogue State (BBG)
Pentagon To Undergo First Ever Audit (ZH)
‘A Christmas Carol’, Money, Debt, and Success (MW)
Mass Starvation Is Humanity’s Fate (Monbiot)
Monsanto Offers Cash To US Farmers Who Use Controversial Chemical (R.)

 

 

You don’t have to own bitcoin anymore to bet on it.

Bitcoin Futures Top $18,000, Soar 20% From Open – Halted for Second Time (ZH)

Update: At 10:05pm ET, the CFE halted trading in Cboe Bitcoin Futures (XBT), in accordance with CFE Rule 1302(i)(ii) which defines the threshold for the halt as a 20% surge. XBT will re-open for trading approximately five (5)minutes from the time of the halt. Bitcoin Futures have topped $18,000 for the first time… It was reopened at 10:10pm ET. All of which is odd because Bob Pisani and the rest of the mainstream said that the opening of Bitcoin Futures would bring about the demise of the cryptocurrency due to the ability to short?

Update: At precisely 8:31pm ET, the CBOE instituted the first ever XBT trading halt, which lasted for two minutes according to a notice on Cboe’s website. XBT contracts have since resumed trading. As a reminder, the Cboe can halt trading for 2 minutes after 10% swings, and 5 minutes at 20%, an attempt to prevent wild swings.

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Things are a-changing.

Investors Told to Brace for Steepest Rate Hikes Since 2006 (BBG)

Wall Street economists are telling investors to brace for the biggest tightening of monetary policy in more than a decade. With the world economy heading into its strongest period since 2011, Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. predict average interest rates across advanced economies will climb to at least 1 percent next year in what would be the largest increase since 2006. As for the quantitative easing that marks its 10th anniversary in the U.S. next year, Bloomberg Economics predicts net asset purchases by the main central banks will fall to a monthly $18 billion at the end of 2018, from $126 billion in September, and turn negative during the first half of 2019. That reflects an increasingly synchronized global expansion finally strong enough to spur inflation, albeit modestly.

The test for policy makers, including incoming Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, will be whether they can continue pulling back without derailing demand or rocking asset markets. “2018 is the year when we have true tightening,” said Ebrahim Rahbari, director of global economics at Citigroup in New York. “We will continue on the current path where financial markets can deal quite well with monetary policy but perhaps later in the year, or in 2019, monetary policy will become one of the complicating factors.” A clearer picture should form this week when the Norges Bank, Fed, Bank of England, European Central Bank and Swiss National Bank announce their final policy decisions of 2017. They collectively set borrowing costs for more than a third of the world economy. At least 10 other central banks also deliver decisions this week.

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Again, from an article with much more info and many more graphs.

The Struggle To Maintain The “Standard Of Living” (Roberts)

Economic cycles are only sustainable for as long as excesses are being built. The natural law of reversions, while they can be suspended by artificial interventions, cannot be repealed. More importantly, while there is currently “no sign of recession,” what is going on with the main driver of economic growth – the consumer? The chart below shows the real problem. Since the financial crisis, the average American has not seen much of a recovery. Wages have remained stagnant, real employment has been subdued and the actual cost of living (when accounting for insurance, college, and taxes) has risen rather sharply. The net effect has been a struggle to maintain the current standard of living which can be seen by the surge in credit as a percentage of the economy.

To put this into perspective, we can look back throughout history and see that substantial increases in consumer debt to GDP have occurred coincident with recessionary drags in the economy. No sign of recession? Are you sure about that?

There has been a shift caused by the financial crisis, aging demographics, massive monetary interventions and the structural change in employment which has skewed the seasonal-adjustments in economic data. This makes every report from employment, retail sales, and manufacturing appear more robust than they would be otherwise. This is a problem mainstream analysis continues to overlook but will be used as an excuse when it reverses. Here is my point. While the call of a “recession” may seem far-fetched based on today’s economic data points, no one was calling for a recession in early 2000 or 2007 either. By the time the data is adjusted, and the eventual recession is revealed, it won’t matter as the damage will have already been done. As Howard Marks once quipped: “Being right, but early in the call, is the same as being wrong.”

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You need an audit for that?

China Audit Finds Provinces Faked Data and Borrowed Illegally (BBG)

China found some local governments inflated revenue levels and raised debt illegally in a nationwide audit, a setback for Beijing in its bid to boost the credibility of economic data after a run of scandals. Ten cities, counties or districts in the Yunnan, Hunan and Jilin provinces, as well as the southwestern city of Chongqing, inflated fiscal revenues by 1.55 billion yuan ($234 million), the National Audit Office said in a statement on its website dated Dec. 8. Of that, 1.24 billion yuan was from the Wangcheng district in the provincial capital of Hunan, where officials faked the ownership transfer of local government buildings to boost income. The inspection, which covered the third quarter, also found that five cities or counties in the Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Gansu, Hunan and Hainan provinces raised about 6.43 billion yuan in debts by violating rules, such as offering commitment letters.

The findings are a blow to China’s bid to rein in data fraud, which has been widespread in some of the poorer provinces where officials were incentivized to inflate the numbers as a way of advancing their careers. Concern from investors wanting to be able to trust data out of the world’s second-largest economy led to the government trying to crack down on the practice, with President Xi Jinping saying in March that data fraud “must be throttled,” according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. Rigid stability in provincial data on growth and employment has long sparked questions from economists, with the rust-belt province of Liaoning, in China’s northeast, famously admitting back in January that it had fabricated fiscal data from 2011 to 2014. Some regions and cities in Jilin province and Inner Mongolia also falsified reports, the Communist Party said in June, without providing details.

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“Near the highs, few opportunities exist to earn substantial returns, so you should take little risk..”

Markets Tell You What To Do If You Listen (Peters)

Anecdote” “What are the odds we come across an opportunity in the coming 4yrs to earn 20%?” the investor asked his team. “High,” they answered. “The odds are 100%,” he said, having seen this movie a few times. “So our cost of capital is 5% per year (20% divided by 4yrs), plus the 1% we earn on cash,” he said. His team nodded. “Under no circumstances should we deploy capital unless it earns well more than 6% per year from here on out.” It made sense. “What do we see that earns more than this hurdle?” he asked. His team’s list was as short today as it was long in 2016, 2011, 2009, 2003, 1998, 1997, 1994, 1992, 1990, 1987, etc. Today’s few opportunities have much in common with previous peaks: negative convexity, complexity, illiquidity, leverage, and/or all the above. “Investors confuse a 7.5% average annualized return target with a 7.5% annual return target,” he explained. “They’re entirely different things.”

Targeting average annualized returns allows you to accept what the market gives you, while targeting annual returns forces you to leverage investments near peak valuations to hit your bogey. “Typical pension and endowment boards want incoming investment returns to consistently exceed outgoing flows.” So most investors attempt to produce the highest return every year, no matter what it takes. “But that’s the wrong objective. Never underestimate the value of cash and patience in achieving the real goal; superior returns over the complete cycle,” he explained. “Markets tell you what to do if you listen,” he said. “Near the highs, few opportunities exist to earn substantial returns, so you should take little risk. Near the lows, opportunities to earn attractive returns are abundant.” You should take a lot of risk. “This sounds simple because it is. It’s obvious. But obvious is not easy.”

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But Canada says no.

UK Seeking ‘Canada Plus Plus Plus’ EU Trade Deal (BBG)

Britain wants a trade deal with the European Union that includes the best parts of the bloc’s agreements with Japan, Canada and South Korea, along with financial services, Brexit Secretary David Davis said, showing optimism a pact can be struck within a year. The chances of the U.K. leaving the EU without a deal, defaulting to World Trade Organization rules, have “dropped dramatically,’’ Davis said in a BBC TV interview on Sunday. Still, he signaled the painstaking agreement struck on Friday to end the first phase of Brexit negotiations isn’t binding, and that Britain’s exit payment of as much as 39 billion pounds ($52 billion) is contingent on reaching a free-trade agreement. Doing so, he said, “is not that complicated.”

“We start in full alignment: we start in complete convergence with the EU, so we then work it out from there,” Davis said on the Andrew Marr Show. “What we want is a bespoke outcome: We’ll probably start with the best of Canada, the best of Japan and the best of South Korea and then add to that the bits that are missing, which is services,” he said. “Canada plus plus plus would be one way of putting it.” The Brexit secretary’s bullishness belies the noise coming from his counterparts in the EU. It’s taken eight months of at times bitter haggling to make sufficient progress on what was supposed to be the easiest part of the talks – resolving Britain’s exit payment, its future border with Ireland, and the rights of EU and U.K. citizens living in each other’s territories.

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Don’t think I ever heard clapped-out before.

Brexit’s Just A Distraction To The Real Problem: UK’s Clapped-Out Economy (G.)

As Brexiteers shout “forward” and remainers chant “ back”, the battle over the EU dominates British politics. Yet it obscures a more basic British problem. Our clapped-out economy, brilliant at consumption, poor at production, is becoming unviable. A “nation of shopkeepers” has become a nation of shoppers, dependent on debt. Deindustrialisation and misguided economic policies have reduced the former workshop of the world to a level where Britain can neither pay its way, nor afford the defence and public services an advanced society needs. Everything in which we once were leaders – ships, railways, TV, great bridges, nuclear plants, bicycles, textiles, clothing, even Kit Kats – we now import.

We consume more than we produce, leading to an annual balance of payments deficit rising above 6% of GDP, financed by borrowing and selling companies, property and citizenship to survive. The result is a sluggish economy (a growing proportion of which is owned by foreigners); low productivity (because the manufacturing sector has shrunk to one-tenth of GDP); and static pay, as every sector except finance cuts costs to survive. Being in or out of the EU has little relevance to this basic problem. The EU is a market, not a mutual support system. Instead of redistributing growth to succour laggards it punishes them, as it has Greece. It drains us and proscribes the techniques of nurture by state aid, protectionism and devaluation by which Germany and France grew. Its “aid” is just our own money back, with the EU’s heavy costs taken out.

Even worse, Germany’s huge surpluses mean that deficit countries like the UK, with our £60bn-plus trade deficit, are compounded by the single market. Yet coming out offers no solution either. It generates uncertainty and deters investment. Most of world trade is controlled by multinationals, and Britain would be more vulnerable to their ministrations. Tory Brexiteers aim at turning us, down and dirty, into a low-wage, deregulated, cost-cutting tax haven-on-Thames. Hardly acceptable to an electorate that has already endured decades of that. The only solution is to rebalance an economy excessively dependent on finance and services by widening the manufacturing and production base and making it competitive. Neither free trade nor the single market will do that.

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The EU is going to make this ugly. It’s the only thing they know how to do.

Poland Risks Being the EU’s Rogue State (BBG)

Behind the noise of Brexit negotiations, the talk in the EU this year has been that there’s potentially a bigger problem in the east. And the prospect of another rupture looks to be increasing. Poland’s de facto leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, hand-picked his second prime minister in two years, opting last week for western-educated Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki as he seeks to boost the economy after revamping the judicial system. He is another Kaczynski acolyte who has backed the increasingly authoritarian Law & Justice party’s push to seize more control of the courts, a plan condemned by the European Parliament and European Commission The mood in Brussels is that EU institutions can no longer stand by and watch a country that’s the biggest net recipient of European aid thumb its nose without paying some sort of price. Few people are discussing Poland following Britain out of the bloc, but a protracted conflict is getting more likely.

Concerns about the shift in Poland triggered calls to limit access to EU funds for countries disrespecting the democratic rule of law. At a ministerial meeting on Nov. 15 in Brussels, the issue was raised during a discussion about the 2021-2028 budget by countries including Germany, France and the Nordic states, according to two EU officials with knowledge of the matter. Poland’s refusal to take in mainly Muslim refugees was referred last week to the European Court of Justice along with Hungary and the Czech Republic. “There is a growing feeling in Brussels that solidarity cannot be a one-way street, and that it becomes difficult to justify the 10 billion-euro per year net transfers for a country that is increasingly at odds with the bloc’s values,” said Bruno Dethomas, a senior policy adviser at GPLUS consultancy in Brussels and a former EU ambassador to Poland. “It is high time the EU reacted, or it risks losing its soul.”

Poles are accustomed to their government stirring up nationalist fervor with blistering attacks on the EU while welcoming the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump. It’s railed against taking in Muslim refugees, claimed the country has been enslaved and snapped at criticism of its power grab this year. But even by Kaczynski’s standards, his speech on Nov. 10 to mark Independence Day pulled no punches. It’s up to Poles to show “the sick Europe of today the path back to health, to fundamental values, to true freedom and to the strengthening of our civilization based on Christianity,” he said.

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How confident are you in this audit?

Pentagon To Undergo First Ever Audit (ZH)

After decades of waste, overpayments, trillions of missing or improperly accounted for dollars, and most recently losing track of 44,000 US soldiers, the Pentagon is about to undergo its first audit in history conducted by 2,400 auditors from independent public accounting firms to conduct reviews across the Army, Navy, Air Force and more – followed by annual audits going forward. The announcement follows a May commitment by Pentagon comptroller David Norquist, who previously served as the CFO at the Department of Homeland Security when the agency performed its audit. “Starting an audit is a matter of driving change inside a bureaucracy that may resist it,” Norquist told members of the Armed Services Committee at the time when pressed over whether or not he could get the job done at the DHS.

According to the DoD release: “The audit is massive. It will examine every aspect of the department from personnel to real property to weapons to supplies to bases. Some 2,400 auditors will fan out across the department to conduct it, Pentagon officials said. “It is important that the Congress and the American people have confidence in DoD’s management of every taxpayer dollar,” Norquist said. -defense.gov”. The Pentagon is no stranger to criticism over serious waste and purposefully sloppy accounting. A DoD Inspector General’s report from 2016 – which appears to be unavailable on the DoD website (but fortunately WAS archived)- found that in 2015 alone a staggering $6.5 trillion in funds was unaccounted for out of the Army’s budget, with $2.8 trillion in “wrongful adjustments” occurring in just one quarter.

In 2015, the Pentagon denied trying to shelve a study detailing $125 billion in waste created by a bloated employee counts for noncombat related work such as human resources, finance, health care management and property management. The report concluded that $125 billion could be saved by making those operations more efficient. On September 10th, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced that “According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions,” after a Pentagon whistleblower set off a probe. A day later, the September 11th attacks happened and the accounting scandal was quickly forgotten.

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Dickens was a big spender how had little.

‘A Christmas Carol’, Money, Debt, and Success (MW)

Karl Marx was so broke in 1859 he couldn’t afford the postage stamps to mail off his new manuscript, leading the philosopher to lament, “I don’t suppose anyone has ever written about ‘money’ when so short the stuff.” He was probably right about that. However, the most famous book about money written by someone strapped for cash wasn’t “Das Kapital” or “The Communist Manifesto.” It was “A Christmas Carol.” Charles Dickens suffered not only a personal-finance crisis but a creative one, as well, in the fall of 1843, when, in a sort of literary Hail Mary pass, he committed to writing a Christmas book in an impossible six weeks. And, in a plot twist as improbable as anything he himself could have come up with, this gambit actually worked: “A Christmas Carol” became one of the best-selling and most widely adapted books of all time, a work that shaped the very meaning of the holiday itself, and singlehandedly wiped out the goose market — more on that later.

This remarkable tale, recounted in Les Standiford’s biography, “The Man Who Invented Christmas,” and just turned into a highly entertaining new movie of the same name starring Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer, holds financial lessons for everyone, especially those of us who’ve been tormented by the ghosts of bills past due and deadlines soon to come. Dickens was in debt: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. Sales of his two most recent novels were so disappointing that his publishers cut his pay. Meanwhile, the 31-year-old author and social-justice warrior had just moved into a larger, and much more expensive, home to accommodate the birth of his fifth child (like Marx, his pecuniary troubles stemmed somewhat from the age-old failure to live within one’s means).

On top of all this, his relatives, including his chronically deadbeat dad, kept hitting him up for money. His father, who later inspired the beloved character Wilkins Micawber in “David Copperfield,” was so hopeless with money that Dickens rented his parents a cottage far out in the country, where he hoped it would be harder for them to overspend. For Dickens this was all kind of galling because he had been working so hard and he didn’t have much to show for it,” said Declan Kiely, curator of a terrific ongoing exhibit on Dickens at the Morgan Library in New York. When Scrooge berates his cheerful nephew Fred, “What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer?” that could just as well have been Dickens ranting.

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How inevitable is this?

Mass Starvation Is Humanity’s Fate (Monbiot)

[..] to keep pace with food demand, farmers in south Asia expect to use between 80 and 200% more water by the year 2050. Where will it come from? The next constraint is temperature. One study suggests that, all else being equal, with each degree celsius of warming the global yield of rice drops by 3%, wheat by 6% and maize by 7%. These predictions could be optimistic. Research published in the journal Agricultural & Environmental Letters finds that 4C of warming in the US corn belt could reduce maize yields by between 84 and 100%. The reason is that high temperatures at night disrupt the pollination process. But this describes just one component of the likely pollination crisis. Insectageddon, caused by the global deployment of scarcely tested pesticides, will account for the rest. Already, in some parts of the world, workers are now pollinating plants by hand. But that’s viable only for the most expensive crops.

[..] Because they tend to use more labour, grow a wider range of crops and work the land more carefully, small farmers, as a rule, grow more food per hectare than large ones. In the poorer regions of the world, people with fewer than five hectares own 30% of the farmland but produce 70% of the food. Since 2000, an area of fertile ground roughly twice the size of the UK has been seized by land grabbers and consolidated into large farms, generally growing crops for export rather than the food needed by the poor. While these multiple disasters unfold on land, the seas are being sieved of everything but plastic. Despite a massive increase in effort (bigger boats, bigger engines, more gear), the worldwide fish catch is declining by roughly 1% a year, as populations collapse. The global land grab is mirrored by a global sea grab: small fishers are displaced by big corporations, exporting fish to those who need it less but pay more.

About 3 billion people depend to a large extent on fish and shellfish protein. Where will it come from? All this would be hard enough. But as people’s incomes increase, their diet tends to shift from plant protein to animal protein. World meat production has quadrupled in 50 years, but global average consumption is still only half that of the UK – where we eat roughly our bodyweight in meat every year – and just over a third of the US level. Because of the way we eat, the UK’s farmland footprint (the land required to meet our demand) is 2.4 times the size of its agricultural area. If everyone aspires to this diet, how exactly do we accommodate it? The profligacy of livestock farming is astonishing. Already, 36% of the calories grown in the form of grain and pulses – and 53% of the protein – are used to feed farm animals. Two-thirds of this food is lost in conversion from plant to animal. A graph produced last week by Our World in Data suggests that, on average, you need 0.01m2 of land to produce a gram of protein from beans or peas, but 1m2 to produce it from beef cattle or sheep: a 100-fold difference.

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Monsanto is the no.1 risk to our food. Presented as our savior.

Monsanto Offers Cash To US Farmers Who Use Controversial Chemical (R.)

Monsanto will give cash back to U.S. farmers who buy a weed killer that has been linked to widespread crop damage, offering an incentive to apply its product even as regulators in several U.S. states weigh restrictions on its use. The incentive to use XtendiMax with VaporGrip, a herbicide based on a chemical known as dicamba, could refund farmers over half the sticker price of the product in 2018 if they spray it on soybeans Monsanto engineered to resist the weed killer, according to company data. The United States faced an agricultural crisis this year caused by new formulations of dicamba-based herbicides, which farmers and weed experts say harmed crops because they evaporated and drifted away from where they were sprayed. Monsanto says XtendiMax is safe when properly applied.

The company is banking on the chemical and soybean seeds engineered to resist it, called Xtend, to dominate soybean production in the United States, the world’s second-largest exporter. BASF SE and DowDuPont also sell versions of dicamba-based herbicides. Monsanto’s cash-back offer comes as federal and state regulators are requiring training for farmers who plan to spray dicamba in 2018 and limiting when it can be used. Weed specialists say the restrictions make the chemical more costly and inconvenient to apply, but Monsanto’s incentive could help convince farmers to use it anyway.

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Nov 122017
 
 November 12, 2017  Posted by at 9:47 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Fifth Avenue at 25th Street. New York City 1905

 

“Bitcoin Cash” Quadruples in 2 Days. Bitcoin Crashes by $35 Billion (WS)
Podesta Group “Will Not Exist At The End Of The Year” (ZH)
Global Banks, City of London Raise “Disorderly Brexit” Alarm (DQ)
Forty UK Conservative Lawmakers Ready To Oust PM May (R.)
Theresa May Faces Defeat By MPs Demanding Vote On Final Brexit Deal (G.)
Sack Boris Johnson For Shaming Our Nation, Jeremy Corbyn Tells PM (G.)
German War Reparations ‘Matter Of Honor’ For Poland (R.)
750,000 Protesters Flood Barcelona Demanding Release Of Catalan Leaders (R.)
EU Has Become A ‘Caricature’ Of Its Founding Values – Puidgemont (RT)
Trafficking Laws ‘Target Refugee Aid Workers In EU’ (G.)
Greece’s Middle Incomes Go Under The Knife (K.)

 

 

Safe to say that Wolf Richter is not a big fan.

“Bitcoin Cash” Quadruples in 2 Days. Bitcoin Crashes by $35 Billion (WS)

I’m writing this Saturday night, Pacific Time, and cryptos never rest. By Sunday morning, “Bitcoin Cash” might have soared another $1,000 or crashed by $1,000; and bitcoin might have soared or crashed by another $1,500. Neither would surprise me, the way these things are going. One thing for sure, you’re not watching grass grow. Bitcoin Cash, which was split from bitcoin in August, began surging from $630 on Thursday mid-day Pacific Time. Within 24 hours, it jumped 50% (or by $320) to $950. It then lost steam. But in the wee hours of Saturday morning, it fired up again and soared another $450 to $1,400 by late morning. It then fell off, but Saturday night, it returned to form and spiked to $2,448 at the moment, nearly quadrupling in two days. Here is what the move looks like in US dollars in a seven-day chart (via WorldCoinIndex):

Its market valuation jumped by $30 billion over the two days, from $10.6 billion to $41 billion. I mean why even bother with the stock market. Bitcoin went the opposite way. It plunged from a peak of $7,771 on November 8 mid-morning to $5,519 at this moment, losing $2,252 or 29% in three days. It’s now back where it first had been in late October. Its market valuation plunged by $35 billion from $127 billion to $92 billion. $35 billion is starting to add up, so to speak (via WorldCoinIndex):

Bitcoin ran into an entanglement on November 8, when developers called off a planned software upgrade, SegWit2x. The upgrade was supposed to have improved transactions speeds. This was blamed for the plunge that started on Wednesday. Then the fun focused on Bitcoin Cash. By Friday, as Bitcoin Cash had soared 50% while bitcoin was crashing, it was blamed on traders that were switching from chasing after bitcoin to chasing after Bitcoin Cash. At the time, Joshua Raymond, a director at the foreign-exchange and CFD broker XTB, told Business Insider: “The delay to Segwit2x has damaged confidence amongst bitcoin investors concerning the much-needed resolution to speed up bitcoin’s slow processing speed.

“Everyone was hoping the Segwit2x would address this but unfortunately, the delay due to a lack of consensus on the mechanics has affected confidence. Confidence on transaction speed in Bitcoin has deteriorated significantly in recent months. As Bitcoin Cash enjoys much faster transaction speeds, we have started to see a recycling of positions out of Bitcoin into Bitcoin Cash as a consequence.” Just don’t call cryptos an investment or asset or asset class or currency. While they could be used as currency, in reality, these kinds of violent moves make their use as currency way too risky and nonsensical. What’s left? The blockchain technology, which underpins these cryptos, is free and open source. Currently a lot of smart brains are trying to figure out how to put the technology to work in all kinds of industries.

Some of them will likely succeed. I’m looking forward to the moment when there is a way of transferring money around the world that is universal, convenient, cheap, fast, not subject to violent fluctuations, and 100% reliable. But that moment isn’t here yet, and neither bitcoin nor Bitcoin Cash will have anything to do with it. Instead of being usable currencies, cryptos – CoinMarketCap lists nearly 1,300 of them, with many of them already worthless – are a form of online betting based on a new technology, and they’re subject to different dynamics than classic online betting, but not regulated or forbidden by governments, unlike classic online betting.

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“..both sides of the swamp should probably control themselves in any premature celebrations as this appears to be far from over..”

Podesta Group “Will Not Exist At The End Of The Year” (ZH)

Just three weeks after we reported that special counsel Mueller was targeting lobbying firm Podesta Group. and just two weeks after Tony Podesta resigned from his position at the firm he founded, The Hill reports that Kimberley Fritts, the Podesta Group’s chief executive, told employees on Thursday that the firm would not exist at the end of the year and that they would likely not be paid through the end of November, sources told CNN. Fritts announced her resignation from the top Washington lobbying group after Podesta left the company amid ties to indictments filed in the Russia investigation. Fritts is beginning work on launching a new firm. Her last day at the company Friday created new uncertainty for the Podesta Group after the departure of Podesta on Oct. 30.

Multiple employees who spoke to The Hill said the mood at the firm was mostly optimistic, though they said many of the firm’s dozens of employees could be in limbo as Fritts sets up the new firm and brings Podesta Group talent and clients with her. As a reminder, Mueller is now investigating whether the Podesta Group properly identified to U.S. authorities its foreign work on behalf of a Ukrainian advocacy group in Europe, CNN reported. An NBC report found that the Podesta Group was one of several firms working on Paul Manafort’s public relations campaign for European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which the Podesta Group claims it thought was a nonpartisan think tank, something which this site reported first last August. And here is one reason why we suspect more than a few on the left are now concerned…

It goes without saying, that Podesta’s brother, John, is arguably one of the top figure in Democratic politics, serving most recently as chief of staff in the Bill Clinton White House and also as the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. What happens next to Tony (and perhaps his brother John) is to be determined, but one thing is clear: both sides of the swamp should probably control themselves in any premature celebrations as this appears to be far from over.

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“..the Brexit vote has presented rival European nations and the ECB with a golden opportunity to undermine the UK’s domination of Europe’s financial industry. They won’t let it go to waste.”

Global Banks, City of London Raise “Disorderly Brexit” Alarm (DQ)

For the City of London Corporation, the prospect of a messy Brexit is even more terrifying than it is for many of the global banks it hosts within its coveted Square Mile. The Bank of England has warned that up to 75,000 jobs could be lost in the financial sector following Britain’s departure from the European Union. But it’s not just jobs that are on the line; so, too, is the Square Mile’s role as the world’s most important financial center, not to mention the backbone of the UK economy. In recent months the European Commission and the European Central Bank have redoubled their efforts to compel financial institutions to move at least some of their operations onto the continent. “I have a very clear message to both smaller and larger banks: the clock is ticking,” said Sabine Lautenschläger, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB and Vice-Chair of the Supervisory Board of the ECB.

“No one knows how Brexit will play out, and that’s why all affected banks should prepare themselves with a hard Brexit in mind.” Some banks are already taking action. Goldman has set aside the top eight floors of a 37-story block under construction in Frankfurt which is expected to be ready for occupation in the third quarter of 2019. Just a few months before that, construction work on the bank’s new £350m European headquarters in central London should be completed. Ten days ago, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, posted a tweet of an aerial shot of the half-finished construction in London, with the words “expecting/hoping to fill it up, but so much outside our control.” As the head of an organization with alumni at the very top of both the Bank of England and the ECB as well as tentacles that reach out to just about every corner of the old continent, Blankfein is clearly selling Goldman short, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Goldman’s not the only major bank hedging its bets. On Tuesday Germany’s struggling behemoth, Deutsche Bank, announced that it had signed an agreement to occupy at least 469,000 square feet at a site under construction in the City of London. The move comes despite a warning in April that thousands of Deutsche Bank’s UK staff may have to relocate after Brexit. To that end, Deutsche has begun work on a Frankfurt booking center that would take up some of the slack if the German lender was forced to turn its London branch into a subsidiary when Britain leaves the EU.

Most banks would prefer the status quo to continue, with the lion’s share of their operations remaining in London, which already has the physical infrastructure, legal apparatus and friendly political and regulatory culture needed to support the full gamut of global financial services. But the Brexit vote has presented rival European nations and the ECB with a golden opportunity to undermine the UK’s domination of Europe’s financial industry. They won’t let it go to waste.

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It truly is Monty Python by now.

Forty UK Conservative Lawmakers Ready To Oust PM May (R.)

Forty members of parliament from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party have agreed to sign a letter of no-confidence in her, the Sunday Times newspaper reported. That is eight short of the number needed to trigger a party leadership contest, the mechanism through which May could be forced from office and replaced by another Conservative. May has been struggling to maintain her authority over her party since a snap election on June 8 which she called thinking she would win by a wide margin but instead resulted in her losing her parliamentary majority. Divided over how to extricate Britain from the European Union and hit by multiple scandals involving ministers, May’s government has failed to assert control over a chaotic political situation that is weakening London’s hand in Brexit talks.

An earlier attempt to unseat May in the wake of her disastrous speech at the annual party conference fizzled out, but many Conservatives remain unhappy with the prime minister’s performance and talk of a leadership contest has not gone away. May has lost two cabinet ministers in as many weeks: Michael Fallon stepped down as defense secretary after becoming implicated in a wider scandal about sexual misconduct in parliament, while Priti Patel resigned as aid minister after she was found to have had secret meetings with top Israeli officials.

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So there’s those who just want her gone, and then there’s the ones who look for a reason.

Theresa May Faces Defeat By MPs Demanding Vote On Final Brexit Deal (G.)

Theresa May faces a devastating Commons defeat over Brexit within weeks if she continues to deny parliament a meaningful vote on the final deal with the EU, Tory and Labour MPs have warned. With the withdrawal bill returning to the Commons on Tuesday, a cross-party group who oppose a hard Brexit and are co-operating on tactics say they believe they have the numbers to defeat the government if they are denied such a vote. While the critical amendments and closest votes are not expected to be taken until next month, Tories who oppose a hard Brexit insist there is no softening of their position and that they are biding their time ready to strike before Christmas. Some Tories say they are even more determined to insist on parliament’s right to veto a bad or no deal because the prime minister appears not to have responded to any of their concerns over recent weeks.

Instead, in what was seen by many as a provocative move, she announced last week that the government had tabled its own amendment that would commit the UK to formally leaving on 29 March 2019, whatever the outcome of negotiations and even if there were no deal. Meanwhile, a secret memo to May written by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove dictating terms for a hard Brexit has emerged. In blunt terms, the pair tell the prime minister to “underline her resolve” to achieve a total break with Brussels, and name 30 June 2021 as the fixed end of Britain’s transition period after leaving the EU in March 2019. The missive will undoubtedly lead critics to say the prime minister is being held hostage by the leading Brexiters. A Commons defeat for May over Brexit, at a time when her government is reeling from the loss of two cabinet ministers in six days – and may lose more – would raise further questions over her ability to survive as prime minister.

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She better be quick then, or she won’t have the job anymore.

Sack Boris Johnson For Shaming Our Nation, Jeremy Corbyn Tells PM (G.)

jeremy Corbyn has fired an extraordinary broadside against Boris Johnson, calling for him to be sacked immediately as foreign secretary for “undermining our country” and “putting our citizens at risk”. The blistering attack – and demand that Theresa May fire him – was delivered exclusively in a statement to the Observer on Saturday night, as pressure mounted on Johnson over his diplomatic blunder in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British mother imprisoned in Iran. The Labour leader cites a litany of undiplomatic and ill-chosen statements from Johnson since his appointment by May as foreign secretary in July last year. Corbyn accuses him of having a “colonial throwback take on the world”, and of repeatedly “letting our country down”.

It is the mishandling of the “heartbreaking” case of Zaghari-Ratcliffe that persuaded Corbyn to call for his dismissal. His statement ends: “We’ve put up with Johnson embarrassing and undermining our country with his incompetence and colonial throwback views and putting our citizens at risk for long enough. It’s time for him to go.” The intervention places both May and Johnson under renewed pressure after 10 days in which the prime minister has been forced to dismiss defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon for inappropriate behaviour towards women, and the international development secretary, Priti Patel, for conducting a freelance aid policy in the Middle East without informing No 10 or the Foreign Office.

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Get in line.

German War Reparations ‘Matter Of Honor’ For Poland (R.)

Demanding reparations from Germany for its actions in Poland during World War Two is a matter of honor for Warsaw, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Polish ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, said on Saturday. The issue of reparations, revived by Poland’s eurosceptic PiS after decades of improving relations with Germany, could escalate tensions between the two European Union members. In September Polish parliamentary legal experts ruled that Warsaw has the right to demand reparations from Germany, although Poland’s foreign minister indicated that no immediate claim would be made. “The French were paid, Jews were paid, many other nations were paid for the losses they suffered during World War Two. Poles were not,” Kaczynski said.

“It is not only about material funds. It is about our status, our honor … And this is not theater. This is our demand, a totally serious demand,” added Kaczynski, Poland’s de facto leader. The PiS government, deeply distrustful of Germany, has raised calls for wartime compensation in recent months but Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has said further analysis was needed before any claims were lodged. Six million Poles, including three million Polish Jews, were killed during the war, and the capital Warsaw was razed to the ground in 1944 after a failed uprising in which 200,000 civilians died.

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They’ll have to do a lot more demonstrating.

750,000 Protesters Flood Barcelona Demanding Release Of Catalan Leaders (R.)

Hundreds of thousands of Catalan independence supporters clogged one of Barcelona’s main avenues on Saturday to demand the release of separatist leaders held in prison for their roles in the region’s banned drive to split from Spain. Wearing yellow ribbons on their lapels to signify support, they filled the length of the Avenue Marina that runs from the beach to Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia church, while the jailed leaders’ families made speeches. Catalonia’s two main grassroots independence groups called the march, under the slogan “Freedom for the political prisoners,” after their leaders were remanded in custody on charges of sedition last month. The protest is seen as a test of how the independence movement’s support has fared since the Catalan government declared independence on Oct. 27, prompting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to fire its members, dissolve the regional parliament and call new elections for December.

An opinion poll this week showed that pro-independence parties would win the largest share of the vote, though a majority was not assured and question marks remain over ousted regional head Carles Puigdemont’s leadership of the separatist cause. “Look at all the people here,” said 63-year-old Pep Morales. “The independence movement is still going strong.” Barcelona police said about 750,000 people had attended, many from across Catalonia. The protesters carried photos with the faces of those in prison, waved the red-and-yellow striped Catalan independence flag and shone lights from their phones. The Spanish High Court has jailed eight former Catalan government members, along with the leaders of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, while investigations continue.

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That’s true in many ways.

EU Has Become A ‘Caricature’ Of Its Founding Values – Puidgemont (RT)

Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has lashed out against the European Union (EU) over its response to the Catalan crisis, in which Brussels sided with Madrid in suppressing the independence drive of the region. Puigdemont criticized the EU as a “caricature of what Europe is and of what we want Europe to be,” claiming, there is “no will to help solve the politics of the conflict.” Catalonia staged a regional independence referendum on October 1, amid a massive crackdown by police on voters in which nearly 900 people were injured. Following the ‘yes’ vote, Barcelona attempted to initiate dialogue with the central government, hoping the EU would step in and act as mediator to help defuse tensions.

Leaders of European nations, as well as the EU’s main institutions, sided with the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy instead, and refused to recognize Catalonia’s self-determination call, referring to the crisis as an internal Spanish matter. The former Catalan leader sees it as a betrayal of the fundamental “values that took us to constitute Europe.” Puigdemont believes the EU leadership, which he said comprises “four or five governments,” are “probably not the most appropriate to lead the EU.” “What will the EU become in hands of this people?” the former Catalan leader asked, pointing out that he does not want the EU’s leadership to “confuse” traditional European values with “their political and economic interests.”

Just this week, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on all member nations to fight against separatist tendencies in Europe, apparently in reference to Scotland, Lombardy, Venice and other regions throughout the continent which have expressed strong self-determination ambitions. “Nationalisms are a poison that prevent Europe from working together,” Juncker said Thursday in the Spanish city of Salamanca. “We cannot stay with our arms crossed because it is time for us to do what needs to be done. I say ‘no’ to any form of separatism that weakens Europe and further widens the existing fissures.” [..] “To be treated like a criminal, like a drug-trafficker, like a paedophile, like a serial killer, I think this is abuse,” the Catalan leader lamented. “This isn’t politics, this is using the courts to do politics.”

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The shame of the EU keeps getting bigger and deeper.

Trafficking Laws ‘Target Refugee Aid Workers In EU’ (G.)

Aid workers are being targeted throughout Europe as countries including the UK use laws aimed at traffickers and smugglers to discourage humanitarian activity, a study claims. A six-month investigation by the London-based Institute of Race Relations documented the prosecutions of 45 individual “humanitarian actors” under anti-smuggling or immigration laws in 26 separate actions over the past two years. Examples include a 25-year-old British volunteer with a refugee support group, who last January sought to bring an Albanian mother and two children to the UK in the boot of her car so they could join their husband and father. She was sentenced in March to 14 months in jail, although the sentence was suspended to take into account her “misguided humanitarianism”.

UK law does not distinguish between humanitarian and commercial motives in such prosecutions, but does take such factors into account in sentencing. In Switzerland, a 43-year-old woman known to refugees as Mother Teresa for her work in providing food for those stranded on the Italian side of the border, was sentenced in September to a fine and a suspended 80-day jail term for helping unaccompanied children into the country. In France, British volunteers helping refugees in Calais have frequently been harassed by the authorities. In October 2015, former British soldier Rob Lawrie was arrested at the border for hiding a four-year-old Afghan child in his van in response to her father’s pleas to take her to relatives in Leeds. Lawrie, from West Yorkshire, avoided jail after a French court found him guilty of the lesser charge of endangerment rather than assisting illegal entry.

And in March this year three French and British volunteers with charity Roya Citoyenne were arrested for distributing food to migrants. The 68-page IRR report chronicles a culture of criminalisation in which volunteers for charities and aid groups, attempting to fill the gaps in state provision, are targeted for providing food, shelter and clean water to migrants in informal encampments or on streets. The EU’s border force, Frontex, has accused aid groups including Médecins Sans Frontières of co-operating with migrant traffickers in the Mediterranean. The report criticises senior Frontex officials for “attempts to bully and delegitimise” NGO search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean by accusing aid groups of working with smugglers and encouraging trafficking. The IRR’s vice-chair, Frances Webber, said: “Across the continent, criminal laws designed to target organised smuggling gangs and profiteers are distorted and stretched to fit an anti-refugee, anti-humanitarian agenda, and in the process criminalise decency itself.”

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Disposable income down by 50%. Taxes and social security up 96.8%. The Troika is taxing Greece to death. On purpose. It’ll be a tourist destination only. And a refugee camp.

Greece’s Middle Incomes Go Under The Knife (K.)

The disposable income of Greece’s average earners has been slashed by more than 50% due to overtaxation in recent years, according to the latest data examined by Kathimerini, which also paints a grim picture for the coming years. What’s more, the reduction of the income tax threshold is expected to further impact the disposable income of households. Brussels expects Greece’s primary surplus to beat its target of 3.5% of GDP again next year, rising to 3.9%, and then to 3.7% in 2019. However, the primary surpluses Greece has posted in the last two years are largely due to exorbitant taxes rather the result of growth. Moreover, while the European Commission’s statistics point to a disproportionate increase in taxation in Greece, at a time when the economy was shrinking, the country’s industrialists and political opposition say overtaxation has led to more tax evasion and the failure of the tax system.

Those hardest hit have been freelance professionals, who since 2009 have been subjected to unprecedented raids by the tax office, and more recently by social insurance contribution hikes, resulting in the gradual exhaustion of their income. And high taxes, including property taxes, are the reason why both freelancers and self-employed professionals submitted incomes last year that were 20% lower than their actual earnings. A telling example of overtaxation concerns freelance professionals who own a car and an apartment and earn 50,000 euros a year: In 2009 they had to pay 16,333 euros of their annual income to the tax office and their social security fund, leaving them with a net income of 33,667 euros. Five years later, their clear income dropped by a further 4,344 euros to 29,323.

The situation today is even more dire as the same self-employed professional making 50,000 euros must pay 32,151 euros in taxes and contributions, leaving them with a disposable income of 17,849. Taxes and social security contributions have rocketed by 96.8% since 2009, while compared to 2014 they have risen by 55.5%.

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