Dec 122023
 
 December 12, 2023  Posted by at 9:20 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  59 Responses »


Edward Hopper Night windows 1928

 

SCOTUS Agrees To Expedite Decision On Trump 2020 Election Case (ZH)
Biden Is The Real Threat To Democracy – Trump (RT)
US House To Vote On Biden Impeachment Inquiry On December 13 (TASS)
Hillary Clinton Seeking To Open Hearts And Pockets For Biden – NBC (RT)
Italy, France, Germany Call For Ad Hoc EU Sanctions On Hamas (R.)
“One War, One Election At A Time” (Helmer)
High Time For Peace Talks – Arestovich (RT)
Western Masters To Kick Kiev Puppets To Curb – Russian Intel Chief (TASS)
Strategic Reflections From Moscow (Alastair Crooke)
West’s ‘500-Year Dominance’ Ending – Lavrov (RT)
Elon Musk Says Would Rather “Go To Prison” Than Restrict Free Speech On X (MN)
What Were Romans Thinking As They Watched Rome Collapse? (PCR)
Global Economy May Lose Up to 7% of GDP Due to Ukraine Conflict – IMF (Sp.)
Many Americans Are Unable to Afford Food, Even as Unemployment Remains Low (Sp.)
Millions Of Brits Will Choose Between Eating, Staying Warm This Christmas (RT)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“..”this is *not* the Court agreeing to take up the case now. It is just the Court agreeing to move *very* quickly in deciding *whether* to take up the case..”

SCOTUS Agrees To Expedite Decision On Trump 2020 Election Case (ZH)

Update: That didn’t take long… After petitioning the US Supreme Court to weigh in on former President Trump’s federal 2020 election case – specifically Trump’s presidential immunity defense, Special Counsel Jack Smith had his answer by end-of-day, after the Supreme Court granted his request to “expedite consideration of the petition.” Attorney Steve Vladeck called the response “lightning-fast by the Supreme Court’s standards.” Vladeck further clarified that “this is *not* the Court agreeing to take up the case now. It is just the Court agreeing to move *very* quickly in deciding *whether* to take up the case at this juncture (i.e., before the court of appeals).” The Court gave Trump’s team until Dec. 20th to respond.

[..] Special Counsel Jack Smith has asked the Supreme Court to immediately weigh in on former President Trump’s federal 2020 election case. In a Monday filing, Smith asked the justices to weigh in on Trump’s immunity defense, by which Trump has cited presidential immunity to try and have the case tossed. The former president is accused of entering multiple criminal conspiracies to change the results of the 2020 US election. The move comes after Trump appealed an appeals court judge’s rejection of that argument. In the Monday filing, Smith cited Trump’s fast-approaching March 4 trial date. “It is of imperative public importance that respondent’s claims of immunity be resolved by this Court and that respondent’s trial proceed as promptly as possible if his claim of immunity is rejected,” reads the filing.

Smith has also requested that the Supreme Court expedite its decision on whether it will take up the issue, period. If they do, he wants them to prioritize it over all other cases. “This case presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy: whether a former President is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office or is constitutionally protected from federal prosecution when he has been impeached but not convicted before the criminal proceedings begin,” reads the filing. “In his Supreme Court brief, Mr. Smith conceded that the trial would most likely have to be paused because of the appeal of the immunity issue. That position reversed the one his prosecutors took over the weekend in court papers, in which they argued that Judge Chutkan should not have to stay the case pending appeal. Winning the appeal of the immunity decision was only one of Mr. Trump’s goals in challenging the decision. All along, he and his lawyers have had an alterative strategy: to delay the election interference trial for as long as possible.” -NY Times

The filing comes after Judge Tanya S. Chutkan – who worked at the law firm which repped Fusion GPS, the company that helped orchestrate the Russia collusion hoax – rejected Trump’s sweeping claims of “absolute immunity” from an election interference indictment because it was based on actions taken while in office. In her ruling, Chukan condemned attempts to “usurp the reins of government,” and said that nothing in the Constitution or US history supports the notion that a former president is immune. As the Times further suggests, “If the trial were to be put off until after the 2024 election and Mr. Trump were to win, he could have his attorney general simply dismiss the charges. Holding a trial after the presidential race would also mean that voters would never hear any of the evidence that prosecutors have collected about Mr. Trump’s expansive efforts to reverse the results of the last election before weighing in on whether to re-elect him.”

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“But no, I’m not a threat. I will save democracy..”

Biden Is The Real Threat To Democracy – Trump (RT)

Former US president Donald Trump has brushed aside warnings by Democrats over his potential return to the White House and claimed that it’s actually his successor Joe Biden who poses a danger to the country’s democracy. Trump made the comments ahead of a possible rematch between the two at the polls next year. Trump, who remains entangled in a series of federal and state charges related to allegations that he attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, has nudged ahead of Biden in polling for a potential presidential race in 2024, according to the Wall Street Journal. Despite the fact that his campaign is likely to be conducted in the shadow of mounting legal issues, the presumptive GOP candidate has dismissed Democratic Party warnings, that a Trump win represents a threat to the US, as a “hoax” and “misinformation.”

“Can you believe it? This is their new line, you know,” Trump said on Saturday at an event hosted by the New York Young Republican Club. “Here we go again – ‘Russia, Russia, Russia,’ ‘Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine.’ One hoax after another.” Trump added: “But no, I’m not a threat. I will save democracy. The threat is Crooked Joe Biden.” The former president has claimed that the myriad legal cases he faces are politically motivated, and has vowed to prosecute Biden if he returns to office. His comments come soon after he was criticized by Democratic rivals for saying that he intended to briefly be a dictator if he is reelected, in order to install more border fortifications and introduce domestic oil-production policies. “I said I want to be a dictator for one day,” Trump added on Saturday in New York, in reference to his comments days before. “And you know why I want to be a dictator? Because I want a wall … and I want to drill, drill, drill.”

Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, said during the party’s fourth primary debate last week that Trump’s comments reveal him to be “an angry, bitter man who now wants to be back as president because he wants to exact retribution on anyone who has disagreed with him.” Biden, meanwhile, recently cast a dire warning about the potential outcome of a second Trump presidency. Speaking at a fundraising event in Los Angeles on Saturday, Biden said that “the greatest threat Trump poses is to the democracy.” The president also said at an earlier campaign event last month in San Francisco that some of Trump’s rhetoric has its roots in authoritarianism, in particular his vowing to be his supporters’ “retribution” and his describing of political opponents as “vermin.”

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You’d think they have the votes..

US House To Vote On Biden Impeachment Inquiry On December 13 (TASS)

The US House of Representatives will vote on a resolution to formalize an impeachment inquiry of US President Joe Biden on Wednesday, December 13, a Republican lawmaker told Reuters. Thus, he refuted a previous statement by Representative Lisa McClain who said that the vote would take place on Thursday, December 14. The resolution introduced by Republican Representative Kelly Armstrong would instruct three House committees to authorize a probe into the incumbent US leader’s business dealings. On December 2, House Speaker Mike Johnson said they were being stalled by the White House which was preventing at least two to three witnesses from coming forward. Republicans have repeatedly claimed that the Bidens received funds from companies, including foreign businesses, for using political influence for business gain.

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“..you know you are in deep, deep trouble if you are picking up the bat phone and calling Hillary Clinton to come help you out..”

Hillary Clinton Seeking To Open Hearts And Pockets For Biden – NBC (RT)

The US Democratic Party establishment believes that figures like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama could help President Joe Biden secure reelection next November, NBC News reported on Sunday. The former secretary of state and failed 2016 candidate has recently emerged as a key Biden surrogate, the outlet noted. NBC News cited several instances in recent months, when Clinton has advocated on behalf of Biden. On November 27, for instance, she hosted a fundraiser at Whitehaven, her family mansion in Washington DC, at which the group Women’s Leadership Forum added almost a million dollars to the campaign coffers. The same month, she penned an op-ed in The Atlantic defending Biden’s refusal to support a ceasefire in Gaza, a position on which she later doubled down, speaking on The View program.

In October, she touted the “formal deprogramming” of supporters of Donald Trump, her opponent in the 2016 election and Biden’s most likely challenger from the Republican side next year. Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, are loyal to the party and will “do whatever is asked of them,” a person close to her told NBC News. She is expected to lend Biden her popularity with women and ensure that his campaign does not run out of money, the thinking behind her involvement goes. But ultimately she is “filling a space that at a later point in the campaign season former President Barack Obama will join,” the report said. Obama’s intervention helped Biden get the Democratic nomination in 2020, as centrist candidates coalesced around him to defeat progressive firebrand Bernie Sanders in the primaries.

Fox News, the pro-Republican news network, took the report as highlighting the weakness of the Biden bid. Its contributor Charles Hurt mused that “you know you are in deep, deep trouble if you are picking up the bat phone and calling Hillary Clinton to come help you out”. Biden’s approval ratings are at a low point at the moment, with several recent polls making him the least favored president since Harry Truman, when measured at the same point in their respective terms, according to the political analysis resource FiveThirtyEight. A Wall Street Journal poll released on Saturday showed the incumbent losing to Trump 47% to 43% in a hypothetical race between two candidates. If Trump were convicted on one of the four prosecutions against him, Biden would only have a 1% point advantage over him.

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A bit of Gaza relief today. It is certain to return. But this is so crazy, it must be included.

Italy, France, Germany Call For Ad Hoc EU Sanctions On Hamas (R.)

Italy, France and Germany called on the European Union to impose ad hoc sanctions against Hamas and its supporters, the foreign ministers of the three nations wrote in a joint letter to the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. “We express our full support for the … proposal to create an ad hoc sanctions regime against Hamas and its supporters,” said the letter seen by Reuters. “The swift adoption of this sanctions regime will enable us to send a strong political message about the European Union’s commitment against Hamas and our solidarity with Israel,” the letter said.

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Putin refuses to let Russia become overstretched..

“One War, One Election At A Time” (Helmer)

Not even in revolutionary times have Russian elections been waged on the issue President Vladimir Putin proposed a few days ago of what it means, what it costs, what it risks for Russia to lead the national liberation of the world. Nor has Putin revealed after two days of intensive talks with Emirati, Saudi, and Iranian leaders, and then a telephone call with the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, what plan of action for the Gaza war they discussed. “Russia is thinking about an initiative on Gaza,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian has announced after the talks concluded. El-Sisi was so negative about this, the Kremlin record of his Saturday morning telephone call reveals no more than that he and Putin talked over “a number of issues related to Russian-Egyptian cooperation, which has been developing very successfully.

Both parties expressed their interest in further expanding cooperation in various areas in a traditionally friendly manner based on the principles of strategic partnership.” The two presidents then wished each other good luck for their re-elections. The Egyptian presidential vote is running for three days from Sunday with the result to be declared on December 18; the Russian poll will be held on March 15-17. The outcome is certain for both. Two hours after Putin put down the phone with el-Sisi, he picked it up again to call Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Kremlin communiqué has omitted to report what Netanyahu said. Instead, Putin gave the Israeli his personal assurance there will be no Russian participation in a Gaza blockade-busting plan to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinians by sea, or across the Egyptian land border. Nor will the Russian military intervene to threaten Israeli aircraft if they commence bombing Beirut and southern Lebanese targets in the war against Hezbollah.

A Russian source on military strategy believes the Russian objective is to protract the Palestine war on all fronts simultaneously, and exhaust the US and Israel by threatening Israeli ports and shipping, Israel’s offshore gas supplies, and the economy’s principal sources of income. Exhausting the US in the Middle East helps exhaust the US and NATO in the Ukraine, the source adds.Tactically, the source said, this should mean an international humanitarian operation to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza in order to deliver as much aid as the besieged Palestinians need; action at the international level to deter the Israelis using uranium radiation warheads, poison gas, and other weapons to attack the Hamas tunnel network; and a no-fly zone to cover Lebanon and Syria from Israeli bombing and missile attacks. Military action, the source cautions, should be indirect and confined to proxy forces like Hezbollah on the northern front; Iraqi groups in the east; the Houthis in the south; and support for the Palestinians fighting in the West Bank.

The Israeli reaction – “what we can do in Gaza we can do in Beirut” — is to deter Russia, Iran, and the Arab states from allowing their “initiative” to adopt any of these tactics; and to deter an expanded operation by Hezbollah. “If Hezbollah chooses to start an all-out war,” Netanyahu declared publicly just before he spoke to Putin, “then it will, by its own hand, turn Beirut and southern Lebanon, not far from here, into Gaza and Khan Younis.” Russian sources acknowledge the blackout on debate of these options in the Russian media, including the military bloggers who have become the most outspoken journalists in the country. “One war at a time, one election at a time”, according to one source. “That’s how Putin is thinking right now. How can the General Staff argue with that?”

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“Arestovich recently announced that he would stand against Zelensky for the presidency, and would campaign on a platform of peace..”

High Time For Peace Talks – Arestovich (RT)

Now is the time to start thinking about negotiating peace with Russia, with the situation looking more hopeless on the front line, a former adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has said. Aleksey Arestovich told Inews that Zelensky has become a hostage to his own propaganda due to his propensity to “play the hero in parliaments around the world.” The former presidential adviser and spokesman, who has fallen out of favor with Kiev, said Zelensky currently “thinks not about the national interest but about his own position.” Arestovich recently announced that he would stand against Zelensky for the presidency, and would campaign on a platform of peace. With the cost of the war mounting and Kiev’s death toll rising to around 300,000, the former adviser said it was past time to start discussing terms for peace.

“For Russia, it’s for Ukraine not to join NATO, and for us it is to stop this war. These are great conditions to start a real discussion – not only between Ukraine and Russia – about a new system of collective security in Europe,” he said. Arestovich said that Ukraine was in a far stronger position to negotiate in spring 2022, after Russia’s troops were closer to Kiev, and suggested that then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have undermined the peace talks. At that time, Russia was seeking protection for the Russian language, the reduction of Kiev’s army, and a turn away from NATO, Arestovich revealed to the news outlet, claiming to have detailed knowledge of the negotiations that took place in Istanbul. After Johnson’s visit to Kiev in April, he said talks were swiftly terminated.

David Arakhamia, a Ukrainian MP who headed Kiev’s delegation in the spring 2022 negotiations with Russia, said back in November that Moscow had been ready to end the war if Ukraine promised not to join NATO. “When we returned from Istanbul, Boris Johnson came to Kiev and said that we wouldn’t sign anything with them at all, and that we should just fight,” he told Ukrainian media. A spokesperson for Johnson has dismissed this, saying the decision to fight was made because of the “iron resolve of President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine,” wrote Inews. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has reaffirmed that Russia would prefer to reach its goals in Ukraine via “political and diplomatic means.” Commenting on Tuesday, he said “we are still ready for negotiations.” President Zelensky signed a formal decree early in October stating that any negotiations with Russia under President Vladimir Putin are “impossible.”

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“..the only historical purpose of Ukrainian nationalism is to turn Ukraine into a weapon against Russia..”

Western Masters To Kick Kiev Puppets To Curb – Russian Intel Chief (TASS)

The puppet regime in Kiev will inevitably be abandoned by its overseas masters in the end, Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergey Naryshkin said. “The puppet regime in Kiev, which is alien to the majority of Ukrainians, and which has perpetrated bloody massacres in Donbass, in Odessa and in many other towns and villages of Ukraine, will eventually and inevitably be abandoned by its overseas masters,” he said at a roundtable discussion devoted to the study of Ukrainian propaganda and efforts to fight against it. The intelligence chief also emphasized that Russians and Ukrainians are two parts of a single nation composed of three peoples, which also include Belarusians. “Despite the seriously changed circumstances, I mean the aggression of the Western bloc against Russia, in which Ukraine is involved, I hold to the same positions on this issue, namely that Russians and Ukrainians are two parts of a triune nation, the history of which goes back centuries,” Naryshkin emphasized.

Looking back into the past, he said, it can be said that, “the only historical purpose of Ukrainian nationalism is to turn Ukraine into a weapon against” Russia. Naryshkin also noted that historians are well aware that “many former Nazi criminals found safe haven in the United States and Canada” after the war. “The Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists established there became a direct successor of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN, banned in Russia – TASS) of the followers of [Stepan] Bandera and the founder of the notorious extremist organizations ‘Stepan Bandera Trident’ and ‘Right Sector’ (both banned in Russia – TASS),” he added. “Systematic work for shaping the ideological basis for a future neo-Nazi revenge has been going on for decades.

For example, the first attempt to label the famine in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s as a deliberate genocide of the Ukrainian people was made in 1985 by a specially created commission of the US Congress,” he pointed out. Naryshkin, who also serves as chairman of the Russian Historical Society, stressed that today Russia has gained significant experience in countering this pernicious lie. “A lot of work is being done by the Russian Culture Ministry’s museum group, created at the initiative of the Russian Historical Society. And in the first months of the special military operation, employees of museums and higher educational institutions collected trophy materials, on the basis of which they organized exhibitions throughout the country,” he added.

Naryshkin noted that work for the formal study of the history of the special military operation was commenced on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prior to the roundtable event, Naryshkin toured an exhibition of Ukrainian propaganda publications, school textbooks and children’s encyclopedias, which was opened in the Russian Historical Society House as part of the event. According to the Russian Historical Society, the publications were collected in the zone of the special military operation. The exhibition included books glorifying infamous Nazi collaborators Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevich, as well as the crimes of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army (organizations banned in Russia).

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“The hostility shown by Europeans towards the Russian people (and not just to its governance) has pushed Russia to ‘be itself’ again, which has been to its great benefit..”

Strategic Reflections From Moscow (Alastair Crooke)

U.S.-Russia relations have touched rock-bottom; it is worse even than imagined. In discourse with senior Russian officials, it is evident that the U.S. treats the former as clear enemies. To gain a flavour, it is as if a senior Russian official were to ask: “What is it you want from me?”. The answer might come: “I wish you’d die”. The inherent tension and lack of genuine exchange is worse than during the Cold War when channels of communication did stay open. This lacuna is compounded by the absence of political nous amongst European political leaders, with whom grounded discussion has not proved possible. Russian officials recognise the risks to this situation. They are at a loss however on how to correct it.

The tenor of discourse too, has slid from outright hostility toward pettiness: The U.S., for example, might block workers from entering the Russian mission at the UN to repair broken windows. Moscow then — reluctantly — finds itself with little alternative but to respond in a similarly petty vein — and so the relationship spirals down. There is an acknowledgement that the deliberately vituperative ‘information war’ is wholly dominated by the western MSM — further souring the atmospherics. And though the scattered western alternative media exists and is gaining in scale and significance, it is not easily engaged (being both diverse, and individualist). The tag of ‘Putin Apologist’ too, remains toxic to any autonomous news providers, and can destroy credibility at a stroke.

It is understood in Russia that the West presently exists in ‘phony normality’ — an interlude within its own cultural war (in the run-up to 2024). Russians, however, do perceive some obvious parallels with their own experience of radical civil polarisation — when the Soviet Nomenklatura demanded conformity to the Party ‘line’, or suffer sanction. Moscow is open to dialogue with the West, but interlocutors so far have represented only themselves and have no mandate. This experience points to a conclusion that there is little point to ‘banging one’s head’ against a brick wall of an ideologically driven western leadership — Russian values being as a red rag to the western ideological ‘bull’. Yet, it is not clear when the time comes, if an empowered interlocutor (able to commit) will be present in Washington to pick up the phone.

Nevertheless, the enmity projected in the West towards Russia is perceived as having positive aspects as well as grave risks (the absence of treaties on the use and deployment of weapons). Interlocutors underline how western disdain towards Russians — plus its explicit enmity — finally has allowed Russia to move beyond Peter the Great’s Europeanisation. That latter episode is seen now as a diversion from Russia’s true destiny (albeit one that must be seen in the context of the rise and rise of the post-Westphalian European nation-state). The hostility shown by Europeans towards the Russian people (and not just to its governance) has pushed Russia to ‘be itself’ again, which has been to its great benefit. Nonetheless, the shift gives rise to a certain tension: It is evident that western ‘hawks’ are always scanning the Russian scene in order to locate a host within the body politic in which to insert the spores of their weaponised New Moral Order — their purpose being to wedge into, and fragment, Russian society.

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“..the objective course of history… is the evolution of a multipolar world..”

West’s ‘500-Year Dominance’ Ending – Lavrov (RT)

The 500-year-long dominance of the West is coming to an end, being replaced by “a new polycentric world,” Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said Sunday in a video address to the Doha Forum. The minister expressed regret that certain “circumstances” prevented him from coming to the Qatari capital in person and hearing the discussions at the annual high-profile event. “But I assume that you were discussing the multipolar world, which is emerging after 500 years of domination of what we call the ‘collective West,’” Lavrov said. This hegemony of the US and its allies had been “based on a diverse history, including ruthless exploitation of peoples and territories of other countries,” he said. According to the minister, the West suggested that it could use the model of globalization, which it had been building for centuries, to maintain its dominance.

“However, other countries, using exactly the principles and instruments of the Western globalization, managed to beat the West on its own turf, building the economies on the basis of national sovereignty, on the basis of balance of interests with other countries.” New centers of economic growth and political influence have been emerging, “changing the balance of power in the world, and not to the West’s liking,” he said. “In order to suppress this kind of development,” the US and its allies have in recent years “sacrificed” globalization in favor of the so-called ‘rules-based world order,’ Lavrov continued. “The rules were never published, were never even announced by anyone to anyone, and they are being applied depending on what exactly the West needs at a particular moment of modern history,” he added.

The FM said that such an approach is most seen “in various conflicts, which the West ignites all over the world,” including the one in Ukraine. “Everything goes to keep the hegemony. Intervention in domestic affairs, sanctions against all the principles of competition, regime change, and of course direct military interventions, like we have seen in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere.” “Is there a single place where the US intervened with military force, where life has become better? I think you know the answer,” Lavrov told the forum participants. According to the diplomat, new formats like BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN, African Union, and others will become “the bricks of the new polycentric world.” It should be recognized, including by those in the West, that “the objective course of history… is the evolution of a multipolar world,” Lavrov insisted.

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“Basically we will see everything that is happening on the system and nothing will be hidden, that is the goal.”

Elon Musk Says Would Rather “Go To Prison” Than Restrict Free Speech On X (MN)

X owner Elon Musk declared during a Spaces discussion that he will never restrict free speech on the platform, no matter what entities pressure him to do so, and asserted that he would rather “go to prison” than allow it to happen. Musk’s comments came during a Spaces discussion, also featuring Alex Jones who Musk reinstated on the platform Sunday. Human Events editor Jack Posobiec asked Musk what would happen if the FBI or DHS “come to X and say ‘these posts need to be censored , this information needs to be censored.”

Musk responded that the platform will remain “as transparent as possible,” adding “Basically we will see everything that is happening on the system and nothing will be hidden, that is the goal.” Musk added that “frankly if I think a government agency is breaking the law in their demands in the platform I would be prepared to go to prison personally if I think they are the ones breaking the law.” Elsewhere during the discussion, Musk explained that he reinstated Alex Jones because as a free speech absolutist he will not censor anyone on X if they have not broken the law. Here it is in its entirety:

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“When truth is punished, a country dies.”

What Were Romans Thinking As They Watched Rome Collapse? (PCR)

I have often wondered what Roman citizens thought as they watched the Roman Empire fall apart culturally, politically, morally, and militarily. Cicero, quaestor, praetor and Counsel of Rome, tried to save the Roman Republic. For his efforts he was chased down and murdered. As Cicero was, perhaps, the most famous Roman, his murder stopped efforts to prevent Rome’s descent into tyranny. The same thing is happening today to those who attempt to arouse us to our danger. Julian Assange, for example, has been imprisoned contrary to every known US and UK law for a decade without conviction for simply doing his duty as a journalist and reporting the crimes of our rulers, the crimes of the corrupt vermin we continue to return to office and power over us. No one has done anything about it, not even his fellow journalists. When truth is punished, a country dies.

Rome survived for centuries after its essence had departed, because her enemies were weak in comparison. Rome destroyed itself. As many or more Romans died in civil wars fighting one another than died repelling barbarian invasions, Roman military might ended in self-destruction. The enemies Washington has created for America are not weak. Russia alone, China alone, perhaps even Iran alone, is a match or more for America. The three together constitute a vast over-match of US military capability. Yet Washington continues to increase hostilities with these countries. The mindlessness of my government is unbearable. Such utter stupidity. Once the moronic Biden regime’s economic sanctions and the US loss of the reserve currency role finish off the US dollar, America is finished. We will be a third world country, and the rest of the world will punish us for the sins of our government. Try to tell this to an American.

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A world split in half…

Global Economy May Lose Up to 7% of GDP Due to Ukraine Conflict – IMF (Sp.)

The losses in the global economy as a result of the fragmentation into two blocs from the conflict in Ukraine are estimated to be up to 7% of GDP, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Monday. “If the global economy were to fragment into two blocs based on UN voting on the 2022 Ukraine Resolution and trade between the two blocs were eliminated, global losses are estimated to be about 2.5 percent of GDP. But depending on economies’ ability to adjust, the losses could reach as high as 7 percent of GDP,” IMF First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath said.

Gopinath pointed out that the losses may be extremely pronounced in lower-income countries and emerging markets. “Foreign direct investment (FDI) fragmentation in a world divided into two blocs centered around the United States and China – with some countries remaining non-aligned – could result in long-term global losses of around 2% of GDP,” she said. Gopinath noted that there are “clear signs” global FDI is segmenting along geopolitical lines. “Announced FDI projects between blocs declined more than those within blocs after the onset of the war in Ukraine, while FDI to non-aligned countries sharply increased,” Gopinath added.

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“Hunger is an issue in America across every demographic group, and now, growingly, across more and more levels of income.”

Many Americans Are Unable to Afford Food, Even as Unemployment Remains Low (Sp.)

Despite being the wealthiest country in the world by net worth (according to 2022 data), the United States continues to struggle with hunger. A report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) found more than 44 million Americans facing hunger last year, including 1 in 5 children. Programs which provide food to those in need are crippling under demand, as prices at the grocery store don’t appear to be dropping anytime soon. Today, it appears as though more Americans are saying their standard of living is worse than their parents’ was, a majority of which include millennials and Gen-Xers who are people in their prime working years. According to a poll released on Sunday, 51% of those aged 30 to 64 believe their standard of living is worse than their parents’ was, as well as 39% of those aged 18 to 29 and 40% of those ages 65 and older. “Hunger is an issue in America across every demographic group, and now, growingly, across more and more levels of income,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, the head of Feeding America.

And when asked to answer when the “most difficult economic time” for the US was, many Americans pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns. At least 51% of those aged 65 and older said the pandemic shutdowns created the worst economic hardship, with 39% of all ages saying the same. Both groups believe the pandemic was vastly worse than the “Great Recession” of 2008 to 2009, as well as a period of major gas shortages and inflation in the 1970s. But at the same time, figures show job growth, rising wages, and a healthy economy of consumers who are purchasing record amounts of summer travel, concert tickets and holiday shopping. As he runs for reelection, President Joe Biden has even touted this economic recovery as the result of “Bidenomics”, and has been desperately urging Americans to adopt this notion. But Americans, many of whom are struggling to pay for basic necessities, don’t care to hear these figures.

According to the poll, 85% of Americans pay more attention to their own experiences than those who pay attention to national data (66%). At least 72% are paying attention to people they know personally, and 70% are watching businesses in their community to gauge the economy’s “strength”. A separate poll from November also found 81% of registered voters viewed the economy as either “fair” or “poor”. And a staggering 76% of Americans said their income is not keeping up with inflation. As a result, the “American Dream” has stumbled: 64% of Americans now believe that only the upper class has a chance to “get ahead”. And many Americans are uninterested in hearing about positive news as it relates to the job market. In October, a US broadcaster found that positive news about the job market in the US made “many Americans feel worse”.

And those on the frontline of food hunger in America are seeing staggering numbers reach out to them. In June, the nonprofit group Feeding America found that they had given out 5.3 billion meals in the past year, while an additional 1 million people applied for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) over the past year. Other programs are seeing a record increase in their levels of enrollments as well, with some administrators concerned that they won’t have adequate funding to keep up with demand “The demand is higher now than it ever was during the pandemic,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, head of Feeding America. “This is not just one group’s issue, it’s an American issue. Hunger is an issue in America across every demographic group, and now, growingly, across more and more levels of income.”

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“Household debt in the UK is projected to balloon from the current level of £73 billion ($92 billion) to £151 billion ($190 billion) in 2026..”

Millions Of Brits Will Choose Between Eating, Staying Warm This Christmas (RT)

The worsening cost-of-living crisis will force UK families to tighten their belts this Christmas, cutting back on presents or food, The Guardian reported last week, citing new research by National Debtline. Data shows that around 6.5 million people will struggle to heat their homes sufficiently during the holiday season, while 2.7 million will have to choose between buying food or presents. According to the report, over 14 million consumers are planning to limit the number of presents they intend to buy this year, while 6 million have said they can only afford to buy gifts for children. “This Christmas, the cost-of-living crisis is set to be felt more than ever with millions of people struggling to heat their homes and many experiencing money worries,” said David Cheadle, the acting chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, which runs National Debtline.

The study showed that more than 24 million UK adults plan to use credit to pay for Christmas presents this year. Of those, 12 million intend to use credit cards, while 4.7 million will use a ‘buy now, pay later’ loan to pay for purchases over time. “We remain deeply concerned about the long-term impact that rising arrears will have on household finances going into 2024 and beyond,” Cheadle said, as quoted by The Guardian. “After missing the opportunity to help people in debt in the autumn statement, we are continuing to press the government to introduce a ‘help to repay’ scheme for energy arrears, and extend the household support fund which is providing crucial local support,” he added.

Household debt in the UK is projected to balloon from the current level of £73 billion ($92 billion) to £151 billion ($190 billion) in 2026. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), British households are suffering the biggest five-year drop in living standards to have hit the country since it started compiling records in the 1950s. Real household disposable income per head is estimated to be 3.5% lower than its pre-pandemic level.

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Boxfish
https://twitter.com/i/status/1734484946654281769

 

 

 

 

Agility
https://twitter.com/i/status/1734258869256298936

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 032022
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Belshazzar’s feast 1635-38

 

Unicorns Are Real (Batiushka)
Soul Man (Jim Kunstler)
Physical Integrity Of Nuclear Plant ‘Violated Several Times’ – IAEA Chief (RT)
IAEA Nuclear Watchdog Should Be Mistrusted ‘By Default’ – Zelensky Aide (RT)
The Moment of Greatest Danger (Schryver)
Russia To Halt All Oil Exports To Countries That Impose “Absurd” Price Cap (ZH)
Gazprom “Completely Halts” Nord Stream Gas Supplies Due To “Unexpected” Leak (ZH)
EU Country Bulgaria Wants To Negotiate Gas With Russians Again (NOS)
Hungary Reveals What Weakened EU (RT)
Biden’s Hateful Rhetoric Presents The GOP With A Sterling Opportunity (AT)
US Economic Decline And Global Instability Part 2: Rise of BRICS (PG)
College-Loan Forgiveness Plan Reveals Biden’s Constitutional Cynicism (Turley)
The Pandemic Did This? New York Times Fails Fact Check (Lerman)
Only Nine Percent of Law Professors Identify as Conservatives (Turley)
Biden-Big Tech Collusion Suit Reveals ‘Massive, Sprawling’ Censorship (JTN)
Hunter’s Techies Funded China Bat Virus Researcher (McCormick)

 

 

 

 

I thought he was in jail.

 

 

UDUMBASS
https://twitter.com/i/status/1565441789871415297

 

 

The NIH sneaked back in ivermectin.

 

 

DeSantis War Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Quite simply, if you are very ill and you don’t have the money, this year you will die.”

Unicorns Are Real (Batiushka)

An autumn chill is descending on every European country, though in each country in different ways. Gas-dependent Germany and Italy are desperate for Russian gas. It is not just homes, but whole factories which face imminent closure in energy-intensive industries. The result of that will be mass unemployment. By ‘mass’, I mean 20% and more. In France there is popular rejection of President Macron who has told his people that they (i.e. not him) must suffer so that the Ukraine can ‘win’. September is the first month of the annual strike-season in France. French people do not like being cold. Expect some headlines. In Latvia the Russian minority are fearful for their future, but so is everyone else. Heating will not be an option this winter. With a pension of just over 100 euros a month, many pensioners are simply going to die of the cold.

From Slovakia we have received the following: ‘Thanks for your email. Just to give you some idea of the current manufacturing costs here in Slovakia and to be brutally honest throughout the upside down world, We paid last year 85,000 euros for electricity, this year it’s going to be around 500,000 euros. As of 1 Jan 2023 it’s going to be 1.2 million euros at best. So that’s just the electricity, never mind the gas, the increase in raw materials, salaries and all other manufacturing costs, This is a hard way of saying it’s impossible to reduce and every customer of ours has to accept it or not. Surprisingly we have never ever been as busy! You cutting margins down low is of course difficult, but at least you have margins. We simply do not have anything to reduce’.

In Moldova the crisis is profound. As in Latvia and Lithuania up to half the population have fled their countries after they were pillaged by the EU (even though officially Moldova does not even belong to the EU!). Previously medicine came from the Ukraine. Now that is unobtainable, they have to use medicine from Germany. Only that costs ten times more. Quite simply, if you are very ill and you don’t have the money, this year you will die. In Romania, which has lost a quarter of its population to emigration after the great EU pillage, and where a salary of 600 euros per month is considered very good, food prices are the same as in Western Europe, where average salaries are four to five times more, and diesel costs even more than elsewhere. In Ireland restaurants are closing because they cannot afford their energy bills, which have increased by 1,000% (yes, one thousand per cent).

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“The country is verging on an economic catastrophe more consequential than the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the harbinger of it, a financial market crash, is sure to occur before November 8th.”

Soul Man (Jim Kunstler)

“Joe Biden’s” guardian of the rule of law, the DOJ under Merrick Garland, is on a rampage, not just seeking long prison sentences on J-6 misdemeanor defendants, but now going after their very attorneys, officers of the court, for daring to represent them. There is the recent Mar-a-Lago caper, of course, in which the FBI snatched a bale of documentary evidence Donald Trump had collected detailing these agencies’ four-year campaign to overthrow him. And, having gotten their mitts on it, the AG declared all the material part of a bogus “ongoing investigation” in order to prevent the docs being introduced in Mr. Trump’s just-opened defamation and racketeering lawsuit against HRC, her posse of Lawfare ninjas, and most of the people who worked in leadership of the FBI and DOJ circa 2016-2021.

In short, the FBI stole evidence of their own prior crimes to evade prosecution. Something tells me that’s not going to work out so well for AG Mr. Garland and Chris Wray of the FBI. You realize, don’t you, that all of “Joe Biden’s” scripted maundering about “democracy” and “justice” and “the rule of law” is a smokescreen sent up to hide the many crimes committed by his shadowy managers just now breaking into disclosure, and they are running out of dodges and distractions to divert the pliable center of the voting public from seeing it all.

Following Mark Zuckerberg’s epic mistake telling Joe Rogan that the government used his company, Facebook, and Jack Dorsey’s Twitter, to squash the first amendment, the wheels came off any pretense that this was not direct interference in the 2020 election by activists in government. For a whole year, the FBI sat on evidence that candidate “Joe Biden’s” family was running an international grifting operation fronted by his son Hunter, and when news reports about the notorious laptop began to leak out, the agency used its considerable powers of intimidation to make the news disappear.

[..] Thursday night, “Joe Biden” heralded a US economy firing on a gazillion cylinders. “American manufacturing has come alive across the heartland, and the future will be made in America, no matter what the white supremacists and the extremists say,” he declared. Is that so? Of course not. The country is verging on an economic catastrophe more consequential than the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the harbinger of it, a financial market crash, is sure to occur before November 8th. Everybody and his uncle on Wall Street knows that. The shadow regime behind “JB” knows that. He didn’t dare mention the word inflation, as if no one has noticed it. (Anyway, white supremacists did that.)

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“We are glad that the Russian Federation did what it did to keep our inspectors safe”

Physical Integrity Of Nuclear Plant ‘Violated Several Times’ – IAEA Chief (RT)

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi has confirmed that damage had been done to the Russian-held Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in Ukraine, but refrained from naming the guilty party. “It’s obvious that… the physical integrity of the plant has been violated several times. By chance or by deliberation, we don’t have the elements to assess that, but this is the reality that we have to recognize,” Grossi told reporters after returning to Ukrainian-controlled territory on Friday. “I worried, I worry and I will continue to worry about the plant until we have a situation that’s more stable, that’s more predictable,” he added.

Grossi, who headed the team of IAEA experts that arrived at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant on Thursday, said that he “saw a lot”during the visit, personally inspecting some of the “key areas” at the facility, including emergency systems, diesel generators and control rooms. The atomic agency was “not going anywhere”from the plant now, he assured reporters, reiterating that the UN nuclear watchdog plans to establish a permanent presence at the facility. The official also said that some experts from his team will remain at the station until Sunday or Monday to “dig deeper” and collect more data for the report.

Russia said that Ukraine has shelled the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant and sent commandos to storm it on Thursday in a failed attempt to use the UN inspectors as “human shields.” Grossi acknowledged that the security situation at the plant was “difficult” during his visit.“There were moments where fire was obvious – heavy machine gun, artillery, mortars,” he said, adding that on two or three occasions things got “very concerning” for the UN team. Zaporozhye nuclear power plant has been under Russian control since March, but has continued to be operated by the Ukrainian staff. The IAEA chief has praised the “incredible degree of professionalism” of those employees, saying that he saw them “calm and moving.”

Ukrainian attempt to hold IAEA team hostage

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Translate: If they say anything not positive about Ukraine, remember: they cannot be trusted. And translate that in turn: Ukraine is worried about what IAEA will find.

IAEA Nuclear Watchdog Should Be Mistrusted ‘By Default’ – Zelensky Aide (RT)

International organizations including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are “cowardly” and cannot be trusted, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has said. “I don’t like international institutions and mediation missions in general. They look extremely ineffective, extremely cowardly and extremely unprofessional,” Mikhail Podolyak said in an interview on Thursday evening. This applies “not only to the IAEA”, but also to the UN, Amnesty International, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Ukrainian official claimed, adding: “By default, you should not trust them.” Podolyak’s remarks came as he criticized the IAEA mission to the Russia-controlled Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which arrived earlier in the day.

He expressed his low expectations from the mission, based on the positive remarks that Director General Rafael Grossi made after touring the facility in Ukraine. The Ukrainian official said he was willing to give the IAEA inspectors the benefit of the doubt and wait for them make an official report that would “show the depth of their inner destruction”. He explained his concerns, citing several aspects of Grossi’s visit. They include its relatively short duration, which Podolyak assessed was too short for a proper fact-finding mission. He also criticized the willingness of the IAEA chief to talk to a representative of the Russian atomic energy body Rosatom, who, Podolyak said, “delivered a strange long speech” to the UN official.

The IAEA experts arrived at the station from Kiev despite continued military action in its vicinity. Kiev and Moscow have accused each other of being behind the shelling and of trying to derail the inspection. Some members of the mission stayed behind to monitor the situation, while Grossi and others left. Podolyak said the IAEA should blame Russia for attacks on the plant, and if their report fails to do so, only stating that inspectors witnessed evidence of strikes, his opinion about the organization will be vindicated.

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“..in 2007, at the Munich Security Conference, Putin delivered a landmark speech wherein he put the Empire on notice that Russia was drawing a line in the sand beyond which it would not permit further NATO expansion.”

The Moment of Greatest Danger (Schryver)

[..] this war has reached the stage equivalent to Nazi Germany in mid-January 1945: the war is lost; everyone knows it is lost, and all that remains is the positioning in advance of the inevitable surrender, the unrestrained looting, and the occasional harassment of the never-say-die snipers who will fight to their last round of ammo and last drop of blood. In other words, we’ve finally arrived at the most dangerous juncture of this conflict. You see, as I have frequently observed, this war, at its deepest root, has always been an existential struggle between Russia and the rapidly declining fortunes and dominion of the long-since irredeemably corrupted American Empire. Beginning with the fall of the Soviet Union, and continuing throughout the 1990s, the western vulture capitalists raced to divide, conquer, and despoil the unfathomable natural resource wealth of the former USSR.

And indeed, in ten short years, they managed to extract a massive pile of treasure at Russia’s expense, only to be prematurely thwarted by the unforeseen rise of the previously obscure Vladimir Putin. At first, the finely accoutered locusts believed they could manipulate Putin as easily as they had his immediate predecessors. But they were soon disabused of that fallacy. So then they began to pressure Putin and Russia by methodically assimilating into their “defensive alliance” all the previously unaligned nations that stood between NATO’s 1997 borders and the Russian frontier. This, of course, awakened in Russia a sober sense of their increasingly precarious position, and in 2007, at the Munich Security Conference, Putin delivered a landmark speech wherein he put the Empire on notice that Russia was drawing a line in the sand beyond which it would not permit further NATO expansion.

That line extended from eastern Poland to northern Armenia. Predictably, Putin’s declarations were first mocked and then summarily dismissed. I suspect this was the point at which Russia came to see that war was very likely inevitable in order to retain its sovereignty and security. Nevertheless, Putin exhibited extraordinary patience. While initiating an aggressive military upgrade and expansion program, he bided his time for the next several years. But with the threat to Russia’s strategic naval base in Syria and the US-orchestrated coup d’etat in Ukraine, he was compelled to act, albeit with considerable restraint, to alter the trajectory of events. He dispatched an expeditionary force to Syria to prevent the fall of the Assad regime at the hands of US-supported “moderate rebels”; he moved to reclaim historically Russian Crimea, and to much more aggressively support the ethnic Russian separatists in the Donbass region of Ukraine who were waging a tenuously balanced civil war against the US-installed regime in Kiev.

American designs in Syria were foiled. But the ongoing de facto NATO assimilation of Ukraine continued, as the US and its NATO allies set out to methodically construct what would eventually become the most formidable proxy army in history, with ambitions to lure Putin into a Slavic civil war that would sap Russian strength, mortally wound its still-fragile economy, and induce social unrest within Russia and discontent among its various loci of domestic power, and ultimately effect “regime change” in the Kremlin. But, at every juncture, Putin out-maneuvered them.

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“..companies that impose a price cap will not be among the recipients of Russian oil.”

Janet Yellen sounds especially thick.

Russia To Halt All Oil Exports To Countries That Impose “Absurd” Price-Cap (ZH)

It did not take long for the Kremlin to respond to the G-7 plan to impose price-caps on Russian oil, with Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak warning that Moscow will ban exports of oil and other petroleum products to countries that impose a cap on the price of Russian crude. Novak made the remarks to reporters in Moscow on Sept. 1, according to Russian state media Tass, which came as Western powers were preparing to meet on Sept. 2 to agree on a Russian oil price cap. “We will simply not supply oil and petroleum products to such companies or states that impose restrictions, as we will not work non-competitively,” Novak said, while denouncing the price cap as “completely absurd.”

“It will completely destroy the market,” Novak continued, arguing that interference in market mechanisms in a key commodity like oil would have a destabilizing impact on energy security in countries across the world. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen took the opportunity of G-7 agreement to a nothingburger plan to take a victory lap: “The price cap will advance our two key objectives; The first, of course, is reducing revenues that Putin needs to continue waging his war of aggression. And the second is maintaining a reliable supply of oil to the global market and putting downward pressure on the price of energy for people in the U.S., in the UK, and around the world.”

But, echoing Novak’s remarks about a Russian oil export ban targeting countries that sign onto the cap, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a conference call on Sept. 2 that “companies that impose a price cap will not be among the recipients of Russian oil.”

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This will continue as long as the sanctions do. Remember, only one of six turbines were/are working.

Gazprom Completely Halts Nord Stream Gas Supplies Due To “Unexpected” Leak (ZH)

After a 3-day halt, Russian energy giant Gazprom was expected to resume critical supplies of nat gas to Europe via Nord Stream 1 tomorrow, but it appears that Putin is enjoying the game of cat and mouse a little too much, and gas flows won’t be getting restored any time soon, because moments ago Gazprom announced that it had “completely halted” transport of gas to Nord Stream until a previously undetected oil leakage is rectified. That could take hours, days… or months.
• GAZPROM ISSUES STATEMENT ON NORD STREAM 1 MAINTENANCE
• GAZPROM: TRANSPORT OF GAS TO THE NORD STREAM PIPELINE HAS BEEN COMPLETELY HALTED UNTIL FAULTS ARE RECTIFIED
• GAZPROM: DURING ROUTINE MAINTENANCE WORKS OIL LEAKAGE WAS DETECTED GAS SUPPLIES TO NORD STREAM FULLY STOPPED


That means that Europe will now be forced to rely even more on… well… Russian gas, in the form of much more expensive LNG resold by China. And after tumbling by more than 50% in the past few days, we fully expect European gas prices are about to go super parabolic and take out all time highs as soon as trading returns on Monday.

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Google translate from Dutch.

That makes Hungary, Serbia, Turkey, Bulgaria and some in Austria think of joining.

EU Country Bulgaria Wants To Negotiate Gas With Russians Again (NOS)

Balkan country Bulgaria has made a 180-degree turn towards Russia. The government supported Ukraine and subsequent European sanctions and was subsequently cut off from Russian gas. Meanwhile, there is an interim government in power that cares little about European solidarity. The government is even reaching out to the Russians again, it was announced in a television interview this week: “Talks are being held at the highest level,” Prime Minister Galab Donev said. That announcement – that negotiations are underway with Russia – is causing great concern in the capital Sofia. Hundreds of protesters blocked the main entrance to the government building in recent days. They demand the resignation of the interim government, which has been in power for less than a month.

[..] In the capital Sofia, gas is used for communal district heating. The winters are quite cold and residents in the working-class neighborhoods already have high bills. At the district heating office, Bulgarians walk in and out worrying about their payment. They have no problem with their country renegotiating with Gazprom. Pro-European Prime Minister Kiril Petkov came to power in December. He promised to end corruption and wanted independence from Russia. His government condemned Russian aggression in Ukraine and supported European sanctions. At the end of April, Gazprom turned the tap off for Bulgaria and Poland because of the refusal to pay in rubles. The two countries were thus the first European member states to be cut off from Russian gas. A difficult situation for Bulgaria, the country was 90 percent dependent on gas from Russia.

Prime Minister Petkov then signed an agreement with the United States to supply seven liquefied gas (LNG) tankers to “improve Bulgaria’s energy security”. An agreement mediated by the European Commission. But the Petkov government was overthrown after a vote of no confidence. President Radev appointed an interim government with an energy minister who was quick to announce that “it is practically inevitable that Bulgaria will enter into negotiations with Gazprom Export on the recovery of gas resources under the current contract”.

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“..EU leaders’ failure to “protect people in Europe” has resulted in citizens paying the price for a “war they are not even responsible for.”

Hungary Reveals What Weakened EU (RT)

The armed conflict in Ukraine has “catastrophically” weakened the European Union, Hungary’s Foreign Minister, Peter Szijjarto, has claimed. Speaking at the ‘Open Balkan’ summit in Belgrade on Friday, Szijjarto argued that the Ukraine conflict along with its “economic influence and a ruinous energy crisis… has led to a catastrophic weakening of Europe and the EU.” The diplomat went on to claim that EU leaders’ failure to “protect people in Europe” has resulted in citizens paying the price for a “war they are not even responsible for.” The Hungarian minister stressed that talks are needed within the bloc to ensure that the consequences of the conflict are not “fatal to the continent.” Szijjarto added that food shortages in developing countries caused by the fighting in Ukraine have left “hundreds of thousands of people under the threat of famine,” leading to a “new level of migrants’ aggression” at Hungary’s borders.


The official also stressed the importance of the EU’s expansion in the Western Balkans. Unlike most other EU member states, Hungary has remained relatively neutral since the start of the conflict in February, refusing to provide weapons to either Ukraine or Russia. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has argued that such shipments could see Hungary getting dragged into direct military confrontation – which is not in the country’s interest. Moreover, officials in Budapest have repeatedly criticized EU sanctions against Moscow, insisting that the punitive measures hurt the bloc itself more than they do Russia. Hungary has also called for dialogue with Russia to put an end to the Ukraine conflict.

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But this writer fails to use that opportunity.

Biden’s Hateful Rhetoric Presents The GOP With A Sterling Opportunity (AT)

Never before have government institutions been hijacked and misused to target political opponents. Never before has a virus been misused to impose lockdowns that infringe on the right to freedom of movement and the right to earn a living. Never before have vaccines been mandated causing people to be fired from their jobs or suffer from health issues. Never before has the U.S. government demonized its own citizens, calling them domestic terrorists. Never before has the U.S. government set up a ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ that sits in judgment of the utterances of citizens. Never before has the U.S. been subjected to prolonged disinformation campaigns, the Russian collusion hoax, the Ukraine call hoax, and now the insurrection hoax.

Never before has the U.S. had a president whose cognitive abilities are so impaired that he struggles to read off a teleprompter and causes citizens to wonder who is in charge. Biden continues by claiming that the Republican party is “dominated, driven, intimidated by Donald Trump” and his supporters, calling it “a threat to this country” because “they refuse to accept the results of a free election.” Perhaps Biden forgot the Russian collusion hoax concocted by the Democrats that baselessly attempted to delegitimize the results of the 2016 presidential election. It was the Democrats who refused to accept the results of a free election. Perhaps Biden forgot that big media and big tech suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop scandal prior to the 2020 elections.

A recent poll shows that nearly four of five Americans believe that “truthful” coverage would have changed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Perhaps Biden forgot about Mark Zuckerberg spending $419 million to infiltrate sacrosanct electoral infrastructure of the 2020 elections and push for mail-in voting. Perhaps Biden forgot that 69% of voters nationwide cast their ballot nontraditionally i.e., by mail and/or before Election Day for the 2020 elections. Mail votes are highly vulnerable to fraud. Biden also alleged that the “MAGA forces” are aligned with white supremacists, violent extremists, and other undesirables. Perhaps Biden forgot violent Democrat extremists threatening Supreme Court Justices, vandalizing Catholic churches, pregnancy centers, and the offices of pro-life groups.

McCabe

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“..Western media is in ‘lockstep’ with government on foreign policy to a degree that would make real dictators blush”.

US Economic Decline And Global Instability Part 2: Rise of BRICS (PG)

First Amendment of the US constitution- ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’ It is commonly stated that the press (aka the proverbial ‘4th estate’) in the US is ‘free’ and ‘independent’ and ‘essential for the functioning of a free society’, serving as a ‘watchdog’ on government actions and policies and vital to protect the ‘liberty’ of American citizens. As is often the case, things are not always as they seem. In a recent interview with Brian Berletic, Mark Sleboda commented that “Western media is in ‘lockstep’ with government on foreign policy to a degree that would make real dictators blush”.

While there is no doubt that Western (read corporate) media is indeed promoting US foreign policy, it is not the US government that formulates these polices, rather they are formulated and developed by the ruling elite, using corporate-funded foundations and ‘think tanks’, academic institutions and prominent politicians. These include the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Rand Corporation, Rockefeller Foundation, American Heritage Foundation, Atlantic Council, Brookings, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Academic institutions such as The Kennedy School (Harvard), Hoover Institution (Stanford), Walsh School of Foreign Service (Georgetown) and School of Advanced International Studies (Johns Hopkins) not only provide ‘experts’ and government officials, such as Wendy Sherman (Kennedy School) current US Deputy Secretary of State in the Biden Administration, they serve as training grounds for government officials and corporate management, some of whom are employed by above listed universities and foundations.

Once formulated, these policies are ‘sold’ to the American public by a compliant and well-disciplined media. Approximately 90% of US media is controlled by six large corporations- Comcast, Walt Disney, AT&T, Paramount Global, Sony, and Fox, with a combined market cap of circa $500 billions. Like other large corporations, media conglomerates have the same class interests as the financial elite, i.e., promoting policies which increase corporate power and profits and maintain US global hegemony. So called ‘public’ media, such as National Public Radio (NPR) and the BBC, in the UK, function in a similar manner. Corporate media is closely integrated with large financial interests and serves as a ‘cheerleader’ for the Pentagon and US foreign policy.

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“The idea of a president giving away such a fortune with the stroke of a pen should alarm every American.”

College-Loan Forgiveness Plan Reveals Biden’s Constitutional Cynicism (Turley)

In 1987, President Reagan reached a milestone in sending to Congress the first trillion-dollar budget. The size of it caused intense debate in Congress over the debt load, but an eventual “consensus” budget was reached. What is shocking today is not simply the size of the more than $4 trillion federal budget but that President Biden just wiped out what is estimated to be $1 trillion owed to the country — the size of the Reagan budget — without a single vote, let alone approval, by Congress. The idea of a president giving away such a fortune with the stroke of a pen should alarm every American. Not only will the massive payout likely fuel inflation but critics have objected to having working-class people subsidize the debts of college-educated citizens.

Others object that it is unfair to those who sacrificed to pay off their loans or those of their children. When one such father asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) whether he would get a refund after struggling to pay off his daughter’s college education, Warren dismissed him with an “of course not.“ Some Democrats in Congress have joined Republicans in condemning the plan. Biden knew he could never get Congress to agree to such a massive write-off, so he did not try. Instead, he acted unilaterally, and Democrats like Warren expressed euphoria, although Warren wanted five times more debt forgiveness. The former law professor saw little problem with a president giving away hundreds of billions of dollars.

As was the case under President Obama when he circumvented Congress, Warren and others are celebrating their own constitutional obsolescence. This is not supposed to happen in a constitutional system based on shared, limited powers: The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse, but Biden just gave away the store. James Madison described the essence of our system of separation of powers in Federalist 51 as premised on the belief that “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” No branch is supposed to have enough power to govern alone. Biden just did, however.

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“What can a pandemic NOT do?”

The Pandemic Did This? New York Times Fails Fact Check (Lerman)

Yesterday, September 1, 2022, The New York Times had a front page story entitled: “The Pandemic Erased Two Decades of Progress in Math and Reading.”The first paragraph states that “National test results released on Thursday showed in stark terms the pandemic’s devastating effects on American schoolchildren, with the performance of 9-year-olds in math and reading dropping to the levels from two decades ago.” Further down, the article says: “Then came the pandemic, which shuttered schools across the country almost overnight” and “experts say it will take more than the typical school day to make up gaps created by the pandemic.”

The definition of a pandemic, according to the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (ref: Last JM, editor. A dictionary of epidemiology, 4th edition. New York: Oxford University Press; 2001) is “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.” According to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, “an epidemic occurs when an infectious disease spreads rapidly to many people.” Thus, a pandemic is a disease that spreads rapidly to many people all over the world. Based on this pretty much universally accepted definition, a pandemic can do exactly one thing: it can spread disease to many people around the world.

What can a pandemic NOT do? A pandemic cannot impose mandates or lockdowns. A pandemic cannot block borders or force people to stop traveling. A pandemic cannot shutter schools – overnight or otherwise. A pandemic cannot impact math and reading. A pandemic cannot cause learning gaps. What can our response to a pandemic do? If we decide to shut down schools for months and years on end in response to a pandemic, then it is our response that has caused whatever educational deficits and devastation to children ensue. It is not the pandemic. In case there’s any doubt that the effects of a pandemic are separate and distinct from society’s response to the pandemic, we can take a look at Sweden, where schools were never shut down, and where there was no learning loss and much less devastation to schoolchildren than in countries that closed schools during the Covid pandemic.

Blaming the pandemic for anything other than disease and/or death is misinformation. The New York Times headline and article contain clear and uncontestable instances of misinformation. Here is the information from the article, stated in a factually correct way: US public health leaders and politicians mandated prolonged school shutdowns in response to the Covid pandemic, and these school shutdowns had devastating effects on schoolchildren, creating learning gaps and erasing decades of progress in math and reading.

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Disaster around the corner.

Only Nine Percent of Law Professors Identify as Conservatives (Turley)

A new study offers further evidence of the alarming decline of ideological diversity on our law faculties. A study by Georgetown University’s Kevin Tobia and MIT’s Eric Martinez was featured on College Fix that finds that only nine percent of law school professors identify as conservative at the top 50 law schools. Notably, a 2017 study found 15 percent of faculties were conservative. This is the result of years of faculty replicating their own ideological preferences and eradicating the diversity that once existed on faculties. When I began teaching in the 1980s, faculties were undeniably liberal but contained a significant number of conservative and libertarian professors. It made for a healthy and balanced intellectual environment. Today such voices are relatively rare and faculties have become political echo chambers, leaving conservatives and Republican students increasingly afraid to speak openly in class.

The trend is the result of hiring systems where conservative or libertarian scholars are often rejected as simply “insufficiently intellectually rigorous” or “not interesting” in their scholarship. This can clearly be true with individual candidates but the wholesale reduction of such scholars shows a more systemic problem. Faculty insist that there is no bias against conservatives, but the obviously falling number of conservative faculty speaks for itself. In racial and gender discrimination cases, this type of pattern of de facto hiring preferences is routinely the basis for lawsuits. Obviously, intellectual diversity is different from racial discrimination. This is no protected class and there is no statutory mandate to support challenges. Faculties know that it is near impossible to challenge their hiring decisions. However, the de facto result of years of biased hiring practices is reflected in the low number of conservative faculty at these schools.

When confronted, faculty will often shrug and say that they are open to promising conservative faculty but they simply have not found any. They will also question what is a conservative or a liberal — even though professors seem to have little problem in answering such polls with those terms. There is little sympathy for conservative and libertarian students who have few faculty offering opposing views — or liberal students who would like exposure to the full array of legal thought and interpretations. Having taught for over three decades, I have never seen a more intolerant and orthodox environment. Schools have reached an ideological critical mass where faculties are replicating their own preferences. The overwhelming composition of faculties then serves to replicate and promote the views of liberal faculty on journals and in conferences.

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“..a 711-page “joint statement on discovery disputes.”

Biden-Big Tech Collusion Suit Reveals ‘Massive, Sprawling’ Censorship (JTN)

Even as President Biden warns the nation of the “extremist threat to our democracy” from Republicans in this fall’s elections, new evidence suggests a much wider campaign by his administration to sic Big Tech on critics than previously thought, going so far as removing a parody of Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci. The First Amendment lawsuit by Republican attorneys general and a civil liberties group against Biden, Fauci and several other high-level officials has revealed a “massive, sprawling federal ‘Censorship Enterprise'” related to COVID-19 and elections, the plaintiffs said in a 711-page “joint statement on discovery disputes.”

“If there was ever any doubt the federal government was behind censorship of Americans who dared to dissent from official Covid messaging, that doubt has been erased” by what the defendants have already turned over, New Civil Liberties Alliance lawyer Jenin Younes said. The Justice Department cited its 15,000-page document production to oppose the “anything but reasonably tailored” discovery requests by Missouri’s Eric Schmitt, Louisiana’s Jeff Landry and NCLA, which DOJ called “grossly disproportionate” to this stage of litigation. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram parent Meta, Google’s YouTube and LinkedIn provided information separately.

The “defendants’ position” left out the elephant in the room: the likelihood of even greater harm to Democratic prospects if sensitive communications including Fauci and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre are required to be divulged before the midterms. Schmitt is the GOP nominee for retiring Sen. Roy Blunt’s seat. The plaintiffs are keen to compel Fauci to discuss the “nature and content” of his oral conversations with Zuckerberg, who gave the long-serving public health bureaucrat his personal cell phone number in March 2020. They also want all Fauci communication with social media platforms related to the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration and its authors, who are represented by NCLA, as well as Trump coronavirus task force member Scott Atlas, former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak and China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.

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“Mike McCormick was Joe Biden’s stenographer and witnessed Biden in action around the world. In a recent blog post he claims there’s much more to Hunter Biden’s involvement in the Wuhan lab and Biden’s meetings with President Xi in China.”

Hunter’s Techies Funded China Bat Virus Researcher (McCormick)

Mere days after he returned from his infamous Air Force Two trip to China with his dad in December 2013, Hunter Biden, along with his Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners pals, began a long, intimate, and lucrative business relationship with biowarfare contractor Metabiota — at the very same time its scientists were collaborating on research with virologists associated with Wuhan Institute of Virology and EcoHealth Alliance. [..] Also as an eyewitness to Joe’s dealings — I traveled with him to Ukraine and China — I will present further evidence that he and his staffers directed even more USAID and Department of Defense (DOD) funding towards his and Hunter’s investment in Metabiota for its activities in Ukraine and China. Joe Biden enriching himself and his family by lining up government funding Metabiota is malfeasance, an impeachable offense.

But in my opinion, impeachment hardly answers for his criminal affiliation with this pandemic “predictor.” But the question that must be asked, and it’s only me asking: Who had the idea for Hunter and RSTP to back Metabiota — Joe or Xi? And understand, the only people that can answer that question are Joe and Xi. Because given that prominent CCP virologist Shi Zhengli was leading the Chinese side of this research collaboration, it is entirely reasonable that Xi Jinping would have known about her project. It’s also reasonable that he knew a lot about her research partners, meaning it’s quite likely he knew Metabiota and its founder, Wolfe, were tied to the DOD and highly regarded by the WEF. Whether Metabiota was a biowarfare contractor or a biotech software company, there is no doubt the CCP was keeping close tabs on it, and thus so was Xi.

So now what to make of Joe Biden and his four-and-a-half-hour meeting with Xi Jinping as crude, cruel, and callous Hunter waited in the wings. [..] At this point in time, Xi, the deadly serious president of China, the world’s most “ascendant” nation, thinks he is scheduled to talk to Joe Biden, the often ridiculous vice president of the United States, for only about an hour. Boy, was he wrong. So what changed? What was Joe up to? And why did Xi tolerate it? The meeting took place in the Great Hall of the People, adjacent to Tiananmen Square. It was supposed to adhere to the traditional world leader bilateral formula of a one-hour meeting with advisors present, followed by brief innocuous remarks to the press. But that’s not how it went. I know because I was there … sort of.

Chinese security denied me entry to the building. No reason given. So I retreated to a van in the motorcade and waited and waited and waited. So no, I was not in the meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. But then, no one was. No senior staffers. Not a one. From either side. And based on reports from White House staffers who did get in the building, they spent four hours sitting on the hard floor of an empty hallway and were as put out as the Chinese by what transpired.Joe had all the advisors leave — Chinese and American. Not Xi, Joe. It was just him and Xi and interpreters — off script, off schedule, off plan. Most unusual. And Joe knew it. His remarks after the meeting began with an apology to Xi’s advisors for not only kicking them out of the room, but then monopolizing Xi’s time.

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Posobiec Dutch farmers

 

 


You don’t have to put on the red light.

 

 


Kingfisher in action. Photo Jaap La Brijn

 

 

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

 

 

 

Nov 302020
 


Jackson Pollock Greyed Rainbow 1953

 

Nearly One-Third Of NY, NJ Small Businesses Reportedly Closed In 2020 (NYP)
Almost 700,000 Driven Into Poverty By COVID Crisis In UK (G.)
UK Shops To Be Allowed To Open 24 Hours A Day In December And January (G.)
Covid Infections In England Fall By 30% Over Lockdown (BBC)
Over 100,000 US Nursing Home Residents, Staff Killed by Pandemic (CD)
The ‘Smartest Man In The Room’ Has Joined Sidney Powell’s Team (AT)
Republicans Plan to Occupy Georgia State House (GP)
The 2020 Presidential Election Is Deeply Puzzling (Basham)
Biden To Tap Career Russiagater For Top Budgeting Post (RT)
One Of America’s Great Wildernesses Being Destroyed In A Silent Massacre (LAT)
The Next Decade Could Be Even Worse (Wood)

 

 

 

 

 

Nearly One-Third Of NY, NJ Small Businesses Reportedly Closed In 2020 (NYP)

It has been a bad year for ma and pa. Nearly one-third of small businesses in New York and New Jersey remain closed since January amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a watchdog. In the Empire State, 27.8 percent of small businesses have not reopened their doors, while Jersey has lost 31.2 percent as of Nov. 16, according to TrackTheRecovery.org, a Harvard-run database that keeps tabs on the economic impact of the virus. The figures are in line with estimates from the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, which says 28 percent of the Garden State’s small businesses had shut up shop by the end of October, according to the Star Ledger newspaper. And with the region now seeing a resurgence of the virus, business leaders are worried the number could go even higher.


“It’s really bad,” Eileen Kean, New Jersey state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses told the Star-Ledger. “And without federal dollars coming into New Jersey, the Main Street stores and other establishments are not gonna make it through the winter.” More than half of small businesses in both states were forced to shut their doors in the spring at the height of the pandemic, with both hitting highs in mid-April — 52.5 percent of New York businesses and 53.9 percent in the Garden States, the stats show. “It’s devastating how many restaurants have shuttered and jobs have been lost,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of NYC Hospitality Alliances, which represents bars, restaurants, and clubs in the Big Apple.

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And it happens everywhere. So much of this will never come back. Are we prepared for that?

Almost 700,000 Driven Into Poverty By COVID Crisis In UK (G.)

Almost 700,000 people in the UK, including 120,000 children, have been plunged into poverty as a result of the Covid economic crisis, according to a thinktank analysis. The Legatum Institute also said an additional 700,000 people had been prevented from falling below the breadline by the chancellor’s temporary £20-a-week boost to universal credit, introduced in April to help claimants cope with the extra costs of the pandemic. Overall, the pandemic has pushed the total number of people in the UK living in poverty to more than 15 million – 23% of the population – according to the institute, which uses poverty measures developed by the independent Social Metrics Commission. The Conservative peer Philippa Stroud, the institute’s chief executive, said the findings showed a “clear need for a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy to be placed at the heart of the UK’s Covid recovery response”.


Lady Stroud, in common with many other anti-poverty campaigners, has called for the government to retain the 12-month uplift to universal credit after it is due to end in April 2021. Ministers last week said they would decide in January. The new analysis relies on “nowcasting” techniques using employment, earnings data and the impact of government policy to enable up-to-date and robust poverty estimates, because official figures for the first year of Covid are not due until 2022. Those hardest hit by the economic crisis were young workers, those in relatively low-paying employment and those working in sectors such as hospitality and retail. Elderly people were financially least badly hit, the analysis found. Of the 700,000 people newly in poverty, just over half had incomes up to 25% below the poverty line, 160,000 were between 35% and 50% below, and 270,000 had slipped more than 50% below, known as “deep poverty”.

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Oh wait, there’s our comeback. Shop till you drop at 4 am.

UK Shops To Be Allowed To Open 24 Hours A Day In December And January (G.)

Shops will be given permission to trade around the clock as the high street tries to recoup some of the losses it has suffered during the pandemic, a cabinet minister has said. Retailers normally have to go through a lengthy process to apply to local authorities under the Town and Country Planning Act if they wish to extend hours outside the window of 9am to 7pm. But the communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, said he wanted to remove the bureaucracy to encourage greater trade – allowing shops to open for up to 24 hours a day in December and January. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said: “With these changes local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping with less pressure on public transport.


How long will be a matter of choice for the shopkeepers and at the discretion of the council, but I suggest we offer these hard-pressed entrepreneurs and businesses the greatest possible flexibility this festive season. “As local government secretary I am relaxing planning restrictions and issuing an unambiguous request to councils to allow businesses to welcome us into their glowing stores late into the evening and beyond.” It comes after Jenrick suggested some areas could be moved into a lower tier when the first 14-day review of the latest system of tiered local controls takes place in mid-December. A record number of shops closed during the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus lockdown, according to research from the Local Data Company and PwC.

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Sounds nice, but if the virus is endemic, and it sure looks that way, what will happen when those stores open 24/7?

Covid Infections In England Fall By 30% Over Lockdown (BBC)

Coronavirus infections in England have fallen by about a third over lockdown, according to a major study. Some of the worst-hit areas saw the biggest improvements – but, despite this progress, cases remained high across England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the data showed the country could not “take our foot off the pedal just yet”. The findings by Imperial College London were based on swabbing more than 100,000 people between 13-24 November. The React-1 study is highly respected and gives us the most up-to-date picture of Covid-19 in the country. Its researchers estimated the virus’s reproduction (R) rate had fallen to 0.88. That means on average every infection translated to less than one other new infection, so the epidemic is shrinking.


Run alongside pollster Ipsos MORI, the Imperial study involved testing a random sample of people for coronavirus, whether or not they had symptoms. The results of these tests suggested a 30% fall in infections between the last study and the period of 13-24 November. Before that, cases were accelerating – doubling every nine days when the study last reported at the end of October. Now cases are coming down, but more slowly than they shot up – halving roughly every 37 days. In the North West and North East, though – regions with some of the highest numbers of cases – infections fell by more than half. The findings suggest cases are now highest in the East Midlands and West Midlands.

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11 months into the mess, “Testing is a struggle, PPE and staff are daily challenges.” Sweet lord.

Kaiser says 40% of US COVID deaths are in long term care homes. I was corrected recently about a Canada graph I posted which said it 98% in Ontario, but even then it was two-thirds of all deaths there.

With such concentrations, anything you can do to decrease the numbers in these homes can change the entire picture of the disease countrywide. Why is that not happening?

NOTE: the graph may be a little misleading; not oly do the numbers of deaths rise, the numbers of states reporting also do.

Over 100,000 US Nursing Home Residents, Staff Killed by Pandemic (CD)

As of the last week of November, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people who live and work in long-term care facilities in the United States, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest analysis of state-reported data. The following chart depicts the growth in Covid-19 deaths among nursing home residents and staff in the U.S. since April. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 40% of the nation’s Covid-19 deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities. “While early action to prevent the spread of coronavirus in long-term care facilities led to strict protocols related to testing, personal protective equipment, and visitor restrictions,” KFF pointed out that “several of these measures have been reversed in recent months, and some long-term care facilities continue to report shortages of PPE and staff.”

According to physician and public health expert Michael Barnett, 7.7% of the nation’s nursing home residents, or one in 13, have now died as a result of Covid-19. “Things have never really gotten better,” he tweeted. “Testing is a struggle, PPE and staff are daily challenges.” Soon after reaching the “bleak milestone” of 100,000 pandemic deaths in long-term care facilities, which happened on Tuesday, the U.S. on Thursday experienced a new record-high number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations, as Common Dreams reported earlier Friday.


Millions of Americans have passed through airports in the past week, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation against traveling for Thanksgiving. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, does not expect conditions to improve by Christmas and the New Year. As KFF explained, the predicted “surge in cases after holiday gatherings and increased time indoors due to winter weather… will have ripple effects on hospitals and nursing homes, given the close relationship between community spread and cases in congregate care settings.”

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It’s still not done yet.

The ‘Smartest Man In The Room’ Has Joined Sidney Powell’s Team (AT)

In her Georgia complaint, Sidney Powell included the declaration of Navid Keshavarz-Nia, an expert witness who stated under oath that there was massive computer fraud in the 2020 election, all of it intended to secure a victory for Joe Biden. Dr. Kershavarz-Nia’s name may not mean a lot to you, but it’s one of the weightiest names in the world when it comes to sniffing out cyber-security problems. We know how important Dr. Kershavarz-Nia is because, just two and a half months ago, the New York Times ran one of its Sunday long-form articles about a massive, multi-million-dollar fraud that a talented grifter ran against the American intelligence and military communities. Dr. Kershavarz-Nia is one of the few people who comes off looking good:

“Navid Keshavarz-Nia, those who worked with him said, “was always the smartest person in the room.” In doing cybersecurity and technical counterintelligence work for the C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I., he had spent decades connecting top-secret dots. After several months of working with Mr. Courtney, he began connecting those dots too. He did not like where they led.” Not only does Dr. Kershavarz-Nia have an innate intelligence, but he’s also got extraordinary academic and practical skills in cyber-fraud detection and analysis. The reason we know about his qualifications is that it takes seven paragraphs for him to list them in the declaration he signed to support the Georgia complaint.

His qualifications include a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in various areas of electrical and computer engineering. In addition, “I have advanced trained from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), DHS office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A) and Massachusetts Institution of Technology (MIT).” Professionally, Dr. Kershavarz-Nia has spent his career as a cyber-security engineer. “My experience,” he attests,” spans 35 years performing technical assessment, mathematical modeling, cyber-attack pattern analysis, and security intelligence[.]” I will not belabor the point. Take it as given that Dr. Kershavarz-Nia may know more about cyber-security than anyone else in America.

So what does the brilliant Dr. Kershavarz-Nia have to say? This: 1. Hammer and Scorecard is real, not a hoax (as Democrats allege), and both are used to manipulate election outcomes. 2. Dominion, ES&S, Scytl, and Smartmatic are all vulnerable to fraud and vote manipulation — and the mainstream media reported on these vulnerabilities in the past. 3. Dominion has been used in other countries to “forge election results.” 4. Dominion’s corporate structure is deliberately confusing to hide relationships with Venezuela, China, and Cuba. 5. Dominion machines are easily hackable. 6. Dominion memory cards with cryptographic key access to the systems were stolen in 2019.

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The strangest case of all so far?! People protest in court against Dominion machines being wiped clean on order of Sec of State, judge orders wiping stopped (it was already in progress), then reverses order because plaintiffs don’t have the machines, then reverses that order again. Buy why would you wipe election machines to begin with, especially before the election has been decided?

Republicans Plan to Occupy Georgia State House (GP)

A coalition of Republican groups are calling for an occupation of the Georgia State House in response to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger ordering the Dominion voting machines in the state to be wiped. The groups are also calling for a protest at Raffensperger’s home on Monday evening. Raffensperger claims that he was ordering them to be reset ahead of the senate runoff election, but a reset would wipe all votes from the general election — the results of which are still being hotly contested by the Trump campaign. The deletion had been temporarily stopped on Sunday, when Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. issued an order to freeze ALL Dominion voting machines in the state of Georgia, but he reversed course within hours.


Currently, there is a major fight going on and it appears that a short time later, a federal judge ordered officials not to reset the machines. The volatile and unknown situation has lead to Republican activists and organizers to call for a full on occupation of the Georgia State House on Monday — as well as protest at the Secretary of State’s house. “After the Secretary of State ordered the voting machines to be wiped in a blatant destruction of evidence, coalition groups plan to OCCUPY THE STATE CAPITOL in Georgia on Monday November 30 at 12pm. They also plan to protest outside the Sec. of States house at 6pm,” Republican activist, influencer, and entrepreneur Mike Coudrey tweeted.


“Defendants are hereby ENJOINED & RESTRAINED from altering, destroying, or erasing, or allowing the alteration, destruction, or erasure of, any software or data on any DOMINION VOTING MACHINE…”

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When you look at these numbers, yes, it’s strange.

The 2020 Presidential Election Is Deeply Puzzling (Basham)

I am a pollster and I find this election to be deeply puzzling. I also think that the Trump campaign is still well within its rights to contest the tabulations. Something very strange happened in America’s democracy in the early hours of Wednesday November 4 and the days that followed. It’s reasonable for a lot of Americans to want to find out exactly what. First, consider some facts. President Trump received more votes than any previous incumbent seeking reelection. He got 11 million more votes than in 2016, the third largest rise in support ever for an incumbent. By way of comparison, President Obama was comfortably reelected in 2012 with 3.5 million fewer votes than he received in 2008. Trump’s vote increased so much because, according to exit polls, he performed far better with many key demographic groups.

Ninety-five percent of Republicans voted for him. He did extraordinarily well with rural male working-class whites. He earned the highest share of all minority votes for a Republican since 1960. Trump grew his support among black voters by 50 percent over 2016. Nationally, Joe Biden’s black support fell well below 90 percent, the level below which Democratic presidential candidates usually lose. Trump increased his share of the national Hispanic vote to 35 percent. With 60 percent or less of the national Hispanic vote, it is arithmetically impossible for a Democratic presidential candidate to win Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. Bellwether states swung further in Trump’s direction than in 2016. Florida, Ohio and Iowa each defied America’s media polls with huge wins for Trump.

Since 1852, only Richard Nixon has lost the electoral college after winning this trio, and that 1960 defeat to John F. Kennedy is still the subject of great suspicion. Midwestern states Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin always swing in the same direction as Ohio and Iowa, their regional peers. Ohio likewise swings with Florida. Current tallies show that, outside of a few cities, the Rust Belt swung in Trump’s direction. Yet, Biden leads in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin because of an apparent avalanche of black votes in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee. Biden’s ‘winning’ margin was derived almost entirely from such voters in these cities, as coincidentally his black vote spiked only in exactly the locations necessary to secure victory. He did not receive comparable levels of support among comparable demographic groups in comparable states, which is highly unusual for the presidential victor.

We are told that Biden won more votes nationally than any presidential candidate in history. But he won a record low of 17 percent of counties; he only won 524 counties, as opposed to the 873 counties Obama won in 2008. Yet, Biden somehow outdid Obama in total votes. Victorious presidential candidates, especially challengers, usually have down-ballot coattails; Biden did not. The Republicans held the Senate and enjoyed a ‘red wave’ in the House, where they gained a large number of seats while winning all 27 toss-up contests. Trump’s party did not lose a single state legislature and actually made gains at the state level. Another anomaly is found in the comparison between the polls and non-polling metrics.

The latter include: party registrations trends; the candidates’ respective primary votes; candidate enthusiasm; social media followings; broadcast and digital media ratings; online searches; the number of (especially small) donors; and the number of individuals betting on each candidate. Despite poor recent performances, media and academic polls have an impressive 80 percent record predicting the winner during the modern era. But, when the polls err, non-polling metrics do not; the latter have a 100 percent record. Every non-polling metric forecast Trump’s reelection. For Trump to lose this election, the mainstream polls needed to be correct, which they were not. Furthermore, for Trump to lose, not only did one or more of these metrics have to be wrong for the first time ever, but every single one had to be wrong, and at the very same time; not an impossible outcome, but extremely unlikely nonetheless.

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@KateAronoff: “Historic times, ladies: a woman is going to collect surveillance data leading to a targeted drone strikes. Another woman will tell the press that 14 dead civilians is the price of freedom, and yet another woman will say there’s no money left for healthcare”

Biden To Tap Career Russiagater For Top Budgeting Post (RT)

An Obamacare architect, former Hillary Clinton adviser and career Russiagater, Neera Tanden, has been tapped as potential budget office director under Biden, setting Twitter on fire with recollections of her toxic track record. Tanden was a healthcare adviser under the Barack Obama administration and helped draft his brainchild the Affordable Care Act. A close ally of Hillary Clinton during her unsuccessful 2016 presidential run, she currently heads the pro-Clinton think tank Center for American Progress. Although born and raised in the United States, Tanden’s parents are immigrants from India. The mainstream media have praised her potentially becoming “the first woman of color and the first South Asian American to lead the Office of Management and Budget.”

Known for her combative tweeting, Tanden seems to have a habit of clashing with anyone who questions the wisdom of the Democratic Party’s political machine. Journalist Vincent Bevins joked that her potential nomination should be seen as an inspiration which “shows that a lifetime of posting cringe is not a barrier to higher office.” Grayzone writer and assistant editor Ben Norton labelled Tanden a “neoliberal troll” who “hates the left with a burning passion and spends all her time on here attacking leftists.” In fact, Tanden was openly hostile towards supporters of Vermont senator and two-time presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. The left-leaning lawmaker accused Tanden last year of “maligning my staff & supporters and belittling progressive ideas.”

Her hostility towards those critical of Clinton reportedly even led to physical scuffles. In 2008, Tanden is said to have assaulted a staffer after he asked Clinton a critical question about the Iraq war. Conservative pundit Mike Cernovich described Tanden as a “garden variety resistance troll,” although this description arguably doesn’t do justice to her impressive output of Russiagate-related outbursts. She was a militant disciple of the debunked theory that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was in cahoots with Moscow, floating countless bizarre allegations, including, but certainly not limited to, the proposition that Russian hackers had infiltrated Florida’s voting system with Trump’s full knowledge during the 2016 election.

Tanden provocatively alleged that WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange engaged in “fascist behavior” by publishing leaked State Department emails and other US documents. Her foreign policy views have also raised eyebrows. She (in)famously suggested Libya should provide compensation, in the form of oil, to the US as a means of repayment for its “liberation.” A US-led NATO intervention in 2011 turned the North African nation into a safe haven for warlords, terrorists and human traffickers. “Given tonight’s news, I hope oil-rich countries around the world are increasing the security on their rigs and drilling sites,” journalist Glenn Greenwald quipped, citing an email of Tanden’s that was leaked to the Intercept.

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A decades-long development.

One Of America’s Great Wildernesses Being Destroyed In A Silent Massacre (LAT)

Hidden away in the heart of the Deep South, one of the nation’s greatest wildernesses is being destroyed, bit by bit, in a silent massacre. You won’t find people chaining themselves to trees to protect this place, or national environmental groups using pictures of it to sign up new members, because few know it exists. And yet, here it is — the Mobile River Basin, one of the richest in the world in terms of the sheer number of species and types of habitat. The major rivers and thousands of creeks feeding into this basin together form the largest inland delta system in the United States, second only to the Mississippi in how much water it dumps into the Gulf of Mexico.

The river system, the fourth-largest in the country in terms of water flow, stretches from the northern edge of Alabama to the Gulf, draining parts of four states, and encompassing hundreds of thousands of acres of forest, from Appalachian hardwood stands to haunted cypress swamps. A dedicated band of locals know it for the incredible hunting and fishing it affords. But few know it for its greatest distinction. That’s a shame, for this is America’s Amazon, far and away the most biodiverse river network in North America. There are more species of oaks on a single hillside on the banks of the Alabama River than you can find anywhere else in the world. The Mobile River Basin makes Alabama home to more species of freshwater fish, mussels, snails, turtles and crawfish than any other state. The contest isn’t even close.

For instance, Alabama is home to 97 crawfish species, while California, three times the size of Alabama, has but nine. There are 450 species of freshwater fish in the state, or about one-third of all species known in the entire nation. The system’s turtle population is even more singular. The Mobile-Tensaw Delta estuary system has 18 turtle species, more than any other river delta system in the world — more than the Amazon and more than the Mekong, both extraordinarily biodiverse ecosystems. Unlike most of the nation’s great river systems, the Mobile Basin — along with its wetlands, floodplain forests and estuary — has survived with its biological community mostly intact. That is due in large measure to an odd combination of benign neglect and the mixed blessing of being located in the heart of Alabama.

Tragically, it now sits on the cusp of decline, facing death by a thousand cuts, just as the scientific community has begun to appreciate its riches. Habitat destruction, development and lax enforcement of environmental regulations conspire to take an increasing toll, making the area a global hot spot for extinctions, particularly of aquatic creatures. In fact, nearly half of all extinctions in the continental United States since the 1800s have occurred among creatures that lived in the Mobile River Basin, according to records maintained by Endangered Species International and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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“The problems are deep and structural – not the type that the tedious process of democratic change can fix in time to forestall mayhem.”

The Next Decade Could Be Even Worse (Wood)

Peter Turchin, one of the world’s experts on pine beetles and possibly also on human beings, met me reluctantly this summer on the campus of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where he teaches. Like many people during the pandemic, he preferred to limit his human contact. He also doubted whether human contact would have much value anyway, when his mathematical models could already tell me everything I needed to know. [..] The year 2020 has been kind to Turchin, for many of the same reasons it has been hell for the rest of us. Cities on fire, elected leaders endorsing violence, homicides surging – to a normal American, these are apocalyptic signs. To Turchin, they indicate that his models, which incorporate thousands of years of data about human history, are working. (“Not all of human history,” he corrected me once. “Just the last 10,000 years.”)

He has been warning for a decade that a few key social and political trends portend an “age of discord,” civil unrest and carnage worse than most Americans have experienced. In 2010, he predicted that the unrest would get serious around 2020, and that it wouldn’t let up until those social and political trends reversed. Havoc at the level of the late 1960s and early ’70s is the best-case scenario; all-out civil war is the worst. The fundamental problems, he says, are a dark triad of social maladies: a bloated elite class, with too few elite jobs to go around; declining living standards among the general population; and a government that can’t cover its financial positions. His models, which track these factors in other societies across history, are too complicated to explain in a nontechnical publication.

But they’ve succeeded in impressing writers for nontechnical publications, and have won him comparisons to other authors of “megahistories,” such as Jared Diamond and Yuval Noah Harari. [..] The fate of our own society, he says, is not going to be pretty, at least in the near term. “It’s too late,” he told me as we passed Mirror Lake, which UConn’s website describes as a favorite place for students to “read, relax, or ride on the wooden swing.” The problems are deep and structural – not the type that the tedious process of democratic change can fix in time to forestall mayhem. Turchin likens America to a huge ship headed directly for an iceberg: “If you have a discussion among the crew about which way to turn, you will not turn in time, and you hit the iceberg directly.”

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 102020
 
 January 10, 2020  Posted by at 10:23 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  15 Responses »


Jack Delano Main street intersection, Norwich, Connecticut 1940

 

Iran Invites US To Join Probe Of Ukrainian Jet Disaster (R.)
Missile System Suspected Of Bringing Down Airliner – Short Range, Fast And Deadly (R.)
Trump’s Iran De-Escalation Succeeds (Flores)
Tulsi Gabbard: ‘Iran Is Closer Now To A Nuclear Weapon Than Ever Before’ (NW)
Iran Could Have Nuclear Weapon Within One To Two Years: French Minister (R.)
Matt Gaetz Voted With Democrats On War Powers Resolution (SAC)
Democrats To Press For Impeachment Witnesses Throughout Trial (R.)
The Justice Department Is Devoid of Justice (PCR)
Internal Boeing Messages Raise Serious Questions About 737 MAX (R.)
Boeing Emails Show Workers Mocking FAA, Ridiculing 737 MAX Safety (MW)
White House Unveils Plan To Speed Big Projects Permits (R.)
China To Become First To Realize UN Goal Of ‘No Poverty’ (CD)

 

 

There are still far too many people out there with opinions derived from confirmation bias. Please stop it, open your minds. Whether it’s Soleimani or this downed jet, it’s fine if you need some time to figure things out. WWIII? Attacking Iran? These things would cost Trump the presidency. And he knows it.

Meanwhile, why are the US and Canada falling over themselves to declare the shooting down of the 737-800NG (if that’s even what happened) “unintentional” and “accidental”? That brings back memories of MH17. Where the opposite happened.

And why did Iran go from refusing to hand over black boxes, to inviting the US and others in, within 24 hours? Detente?

 

Iran Invites US To Join Probe Of Ukrainian Jet Disaster (R.)

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has accepted an invitation from Iran to take part in its investigation into the crash of a Ukrainian airplane in Tehran, the agency confirmed late on Thursday. The NTSB said in a statement its Response Operations Center had received formal notification from Iran of Wednesday’s crash of the Boeing 737-800 that killed all 176 on board. “The NTSB has designated an accredited representative to the investigation of the crash,” the agency said. The NTSB confirmed it would take part in the probe after an Iranian official told Reuters of the agreement. “The NTSB has replied to our chief investigator and has announced an accredited representative,” Farhad Parvaresh, Iran’s representative at the International Civil Aviation Organization, part of the United Nations, told Reuters.

A person briefed on the matter said it was unclear what if anything its representative would be able to do under U.S. sanctions. NTSB said in its statement it “continues to monitor the situation surrounding the crash and evaluate its level of participation in the investigation.” The United States is allowed to take part under global rules since the Boeing 737-800NG jet was designed and built there. Canada, which had dozens of passengers onboard, has also assigned an expert, while a team from Ukraine held discussions in Tehran on Thursday, Parvaresh said in a telephone interview. Iran is ready to provide consular facilities and visas for accredited investigators, he added.

Sweden and Afghanistan, which had some passengers on board, have also been notified. France may also be involved as it was one of the countries where the engines were made, Parvaresh said. He denied U.S. and Canadian claims that the jet had been shot down accidentally and said Iran was committed to a full and transparent investigation for the accident, adding it was too early to speculate on the cause. “As Iranians we feel this tragedy and disaster for us and for the families,” Parvaresh said, expressing condolences to the relatives of the people who died. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier the jet was probably brought down by an accidental Iranian missile strike, citing intelligence from Canadian and other sources.

The U.S. government believes Iran shot down the plane by mistake, three U.S. officials told Reuters. The Ukraine International Airlines flight to Kiev from Tehran crashed hours after Iran fired ballistic missiles at two U.S. military bases in Iraq. Parvaresh said expert testimony indicated that the aircraft could not have been hit by a missile and that it was important to keep the crash investigation non-political. “I think we should keep this purely technical and not confuse it with political tensions in the region. We should leave it to experts to investigate and make their report.”

Read more …

And Russian.

Missile System Suspected Of Bringing Down Airliner – Short Range, Fast And Deadly (R.)

Canada said on Thursday that a surface-to-air missile brought down a Ukrainian airliner in Tehran, while the Ukrainian government said it was investigating reports of debris from a Russian-made Tor-M1 missile. The Tor, also called the SA-15 Gauntlet by NATO, is a short-range “point defense” system that integrates the missile launcher and radar into a single tracked vehicle. It is designed to be mobile and lethal against targets at altitudes up to 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) and at ranges of 12 km (7.5 miles), according to the Federation of American Scientists, which researches and analyses “catastrophic threats to national and international security”.

Military aircraft and cruise missiles – which the Tor system is designed to destroy – typically plot their courses to avoid being spotted on radar. They are equipped with systems such as chaff, which confuses radar, and flares, which act as decoys for heat-seeking missiles. The jet that crashed on Wednesday, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, a Boeing 737-800, would have filed a flight plan and had no defensive features. It was unlikely the flight crew had time to react to any missile, said Michael Duitsman, a research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. “They probably wouldn’t have even seen it coming,” Duitsman said. “Right after takeoff, the pilots were probably preoccupied with other things.”

To attack a target, the Tor operator must identify it on the radar screen and direct the missile to launch. There were several other civilian aircraft nearby when Flight 752 crashed just a few kilometers from the airport. All of those aircraft would have been visible on the radar screen of the Tor battery as well as civilian radar at the airport. [..] Tor missiles are guided by radar and fly at almost three times the speed of sound. That means that if launched at a target 5 km (3 miles) away, they will arrive within about five seconds. They have a small warhead – about 15 kg (33 lb) of high explosive – but are designed to spray fragments of shredded metal, like bullets, into a target upon detonation.

Read more …

Most intriguing piece of the day. Do read it from A to Z. Was Trump tricked into killing Soleimani? Just so anti-war voters would move away from him?

Trump’s Iran De-Escalation Succeeds (Flores)

Impeachment against Trump has now been used several times to push him to act aggressively in the middle-east, contrary to his policy and self-interest. On all the ‘impeachment threat – then strike’ occasions, Trump ordered strikes on predictable targets – targets so predictable and oddly executed, that Syrian and Iranian forces barely felt them. There appears to be at the very least an ‘unspoken communication’ at play, where strikes are made to assuage political needs but not to inflict serious damage. If Trump really wanted an excuse to strike Iran, he’s had it before.

There was precisely such an opportunity when subversives in government hatched a plan to push Trump into a war with Iran, when two planes were sent to violate Iranian airspace – one manned, the other unmanned – flying in close proximity. This created the chance that Iran’s downing of either plane could be used as a pretext for a major war-creating strike on Iran.

Despite Trump’s acting reasonably, government actors and media attempted to create a sensation where Trump was ridiculed for ‘calling off’ a planned retaliation in the aftermath of the downed drone. The same liberal media and Democratic Party establishment that attacked Trump’s de-escalation then from a hawkish perspective, today manifest as doves who suddenly oppose Trump’s reckless hawkishness. Here, in the aftermath of the drone incident, a Trump policy was formulated – and it’s a policy that figures prominently in de-escalation in the aftermath of the assassination of Soleimani and Iran’s measured response. The policy is this – if Iran kills Americans, then the U.S escalates. If the U.S does something provocative, then Iran is actually allowed to respond militarily, so long as American personnel are not killed.

[..] A war with Iran would push the anti-war sentiments of independent voters away from Trump, and towards a more revitalized and mobilized Democrat Party anti-war base. Trump needs an anti-war base to be re-elected, and war with Iran pushes that base towards nearly any Democrat candidate. At the same time, Trump also needs the continued support from America’s Christian Zionist evangelical ‘Israel Firsters’, as well as the infamous AIPAC, not only to be re-elected, but to maintain the support in the senate against impeachment. That conflict between Trump’s two greatest populist strengths – between Trump’s anti-war base and his Christian Zionist base – largely defines his weakest political spot. That’s why it’s the best place to attack him.

Read more …

Easy, Tulsi!

Scott Ritter on Twitter: “I’m a huge @TulsiGabbard fan, but she is treading on dangerous ground. The implication here is that Iran has nuclear weapons ambition. If you buy into this fallacy, you empower those who will use this as a justification for war.”

Tulsi Gabbard: ‘Iran Is Closer Now To A Nuclear Weapon Than Ever Before’ (NW)

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard blasted President Donald Trump’s actions toward Iran, claiming that his decisions has brought the Persian Gulf nation closer “than ever before” to obtaining a nuclear weapon. “Trump’s war with Iran is undermining our national security and putting all Americans in greater danger,” Gabbard, a Hawaii congresswoman and Iraq War veteran, warned in a Thursday tweet, sharing a clip of herself discussing recent tensions with Iran on CNN. “Iran is closer now to a nuclear weapon than ever before. And it’s opening the door to resurgence of ISIS/Al-Qaeda,” she claimed.

Iran is believed to be closer today to possessing a nuclear weapon than it has been under the restrictions of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew from in May 2018. Still, it appears to be an exaggeration to say the country is closer than “ever before” to obtaining such a weapon. The JCPOA successfully reduced Iran’s uranium enrichment program, with U.S. intelligence leaders saying last year it would take the Islamic Republic at “about one year” to create a nuclear weapon. Before that agreement, Iran was believed to be within two to three months of creating highly enriched uranium that could be used in a weapon, according to a July 2018 report by the Congressional Research Service.

[..] Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based security think tank, told CBS News that Iran could now develop a nuclear weapon within six months. She noted, however, that Iran has still expressed support for the JCPOA but plans to no longer abide by its obligations under the deal. Iran “is still allowing the verification by [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors,” she told CBS.

Read more …

Sometimes you might just get the idea that NATO wants nothing more than for Iran to develop nukes.

Iran Could Have Nuclear Weapon Within One To Two Years: French Minister (R.)

Iran could have nuclear weapons in one to two years if the country carries on violating the 2015 nuclear accord, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday. “If they continue with unravelling the Vienna agreement, then yes, within a fairly short period of time, between one and two years, they could have access to a nuclear weapon, which is not an option”, Le Drian said on RTL radio. EU foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to seek ways to guide the United States and Iran away from confrontation, knowing that a miscalculation on either side could leave the bloc facing a war and a serious nuclear proliferation crisis on its doorstep.

Read more …

It’s toothless anyway.

Matt Gaetz Voted With Democrats On War Powers Resolution (SAC)

“I spoke to the president today,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, (R-FL) said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “The president told me he is more antiwar than I am, and I love the president for that. The thing is, I think a few of the advisers of the president are trying to slow-walk the administration into war. When the president relies on his instincts and we have the Trump doctrine, we kill the terrorist and we come home.” “I think this War Powers Resolution was worthy of support because it did not criticize the president,” Gaetz said. “It did not say he was wrong in killing [Quds Force Gen.] Soleimani. But…it did say that if any president wants to drag our nation into another forever Middle East war that they require the approval of the United States Congress.”


“That’s something I deeply believe. And I think it’s something the president deeply believes,” Gaetz explained. Tucker Carlson questioned Gaetz’s claim that his vote had Trump’s support. “Just to be totally clear,” Tucker Carlson asked, “you are one of three Republicans who voted, in effect, against the president’s stated position but you just talked to the president and he said that he is on your side?” “Well, the president probably would have preferred that I vote with the other Republicans,” Gaetz responded. “He [Trump] certainly said that. I think on these broader questions of war and peace, Donald Trump understands that the pro-war candidate loses presidential elections … it’s typically the anti-war candidates that win.”

Read more …

Inviting Biden and Schiff onto the stage.

Democrats To Press For Impeachment Witnesses Throughout Trial (R.)

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he will press Republicans to accept four witnesses, including John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, even if the Senate rejects testimony at the start of the trial to determine whether Trump should be convicted of abusing his power and obstructing Congress over Ukraine. “Those votes at the beginning of the trial will not be the last votes on witnesses and documents. Make no mistake, we will continue to revisit the issue,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. Schumer, who needs only four of the 100-seat Senate’s 53 Republicans to join Democrats on the witness question, could succeed by pressuring vulnerable Republicans such as Senator Susan Collins and Senator Cory Gardner, who face re-election challenges in swing states in November.


Without witnesses, Democrats fear Senate Republicans could move quickly to dismiss the charges against Trump. But securing witnesses could also open a Pandora’s box for Democrats. Trump has said he would like to hear from former Vice President Joe Biden, his businessman son Hunter Biden, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint launched the impeachment inquiry. Trump also has said he might try to block Bolton from testifying. “When we start allowing national security advisers to just go up and say whatever they want to say… We can’t do that,” he told reporters at the White House.

Read more …

“This is how corrupt American law has become. A man is being put in prison for 6 months for not cooperating with an investigation of an event that did not happen!”

The Justice Department Is Devoid of Justice (PCR)

In the United States the criminal justice (sic) system is itself not subject to law. We see immunity to law continually as police commit felonies against citizens and even murder children and walk away free. We see it all the time when prosecutors conduct political prosecutions and when they prosecute the innocent in order to build their conviction record. We see it when judges fail to prevent prosecutors from withholding exculpatory evidence and bribing witnesses and when judges accept coerced plea deals that deprive the defendant of a jury trial.

We just saw it again when federal prosecutors recommended a six month prison sentence for Lt. Gen. Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency accused of lying to the FBI about nothing of any importance, for being uncooperative in the Justice (sic) Department’s effort to frame President Trump with false “Russiagate” charges. The Justice (sic) Department prosecutor said: “The sentence should adequately deter the defendant from violating the law, and to promote respect for the law. It is clear that the defendant has not learned his lesson. He has behaved as though the law does not apply to him, and as if there are no consequences for his actions.”

That is precisely what the Justice (sic) Department itself did for years in their orchestration of the fake Russiagate charges against Trump. The prosecutor’s hypocrisy is overwhelming. The Justice (sic) Department is a criminal organization. It has no sense of justice. Convicting the innocent builds the conviction rate of the prosecutor as effectively as convicting the guilty. The Horowitz report of the Justice (sic) Department’s lies to the FISA court did not recommend a six-month prision sentence for those Justice (sic) Deplartment officials who lied to the government. Horowitz covered up the crimes by converting them into “mistakes.” Yes, they are embarrassing “mistakes,” but mistakes don’t bring prison sentences.

Now that we know the only Russiagate scandal was its orchestration by the CIA, Justice (sic) Department, and Democrats, failing to cooperate with the special counsel investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election is nonsensical as we know for a definite fact that there was no such interference. [..] This is how corrupt American law has become. A man is being put in prison for 6 months for not cooperating with an investigation of an event that did not happen! If Trump doesn’t pardon Flynn (and Manafort and Stone), and fire the corrupt prosecutors who falsely prosecuted Flynn, Trump deserves no one’s support. A president who will not defend his own people from unwarranted prosecution is not worthy of support.

Read more …

Clowns and monkeys. Are these people still working at Boeing?

Internal Boeing Messages Raise Serious Questions About 737 MAX (R.)

Boeing on Thursday released hundreds of internal messages that raise serious questions about its development of simulators and the 737 Max that was grounded in March after two fatal crashes, prompting outrage from US lawmakers. In an April 2017 exchange of instant messages, two employees expressed complaints about the Max following references to issues with the plane’s flight management computer. “This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” one unnamed employee wrote. In one message, dated November 2015, which appears to shed light on lobbying methods used when facing demands from regulators, a Boeing employee notes regulators were likely to want simulator training for a particular type of cockpit alert.

“We are going to push back very hard on this and will likely need support at the highest levels when it comes time for the final negotiation,” the employee writes. The planemaker said some communications “raise questions” about Boeing’s interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in connection with the simulator qualification process. In releasing redacted versions of what it called “completely unacceptable” communications, Boeing said it was committed to transparency with the regulator. Unredacted versions of the messages were turned over to the FAA and Congress in December.

Peter DeFazio, the House transportation committee chairman, who has been investigating the Max, said the messages “paint a deeply disturbing picture of the lengths Boeing was apparently willing to go to in order to evade scrutiny from regulators, flight crews, and the flying public, even as its own employees were sounding alarms internally”. He added: “they show a coordinated effort dating back to the earliest days of the 737 Max program to conceal critical information from regulators and the public”.

Read more …

“Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t.”

Boeing Emails Show Workers Mocking FAA, Ridiculing 737 MAX Safety (MW)

Newly released internal emails from Boeing Co. paint a disturbing picture of its 737 Max program, with employees bragging about fooling FAA regulators and ridiculing its safety. The emails were part of more than 100 pages of documents sent Thursday by Boeing to House and Senate committees that have been investigating the aircraft maker in the wake of two crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed a combined 346 people. The 737 Max family has been grounded for nearly a year, with no return date yet. “This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” read one email.


Some messages detail problems with the development of Boeing’s 737 Max simulator and suggest the planes got FAA approval under false pretences. “I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” one of the employees says in a 2018 email, apparently referring to interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration. “Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” one employee emailed a colleague. “No,” the co-worker responded. “These newly-released emails are incredibly damning,” Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said in a statement Thursday night. “They paint a deeply disturbing picture of the lengths Boeing was apparently willing to go to in order to evade scrutiny from regulators, flight crews, and the flying public.”

Read more …

They’ll be buried in ever more lawsuits, and many courts will choose the other side. It’s simply too late, and opinion on fossil fuels etc. is against deregulation.

White House Unveils Plan To Speed Big Projects Permits (R.)

The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a plan to speed permitting for major infrastructure projects like oil pipelines, road expansions and bridges, one of the biggest deregulatory actions of the president’s tenure. The plan, released by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), would help the administration advance big energy and infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL oil pipeline or roads, bridges and federal buildings that President Donald Trump and industry groups complained have been hampered by red tape. “For the first time in over 40 years today we are issuing a new rule under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to completely overhaul the dysfunctional bureaucratic system that has created these massive obstructions,” Trump said at the White House on Thursday.

The proposal to update the how NEPA, the 50-year bedrock federal environmental law, is implemented is part of Trump’s broader effort to cut regulations and oversight to boost industry. “This proposal affects virtually every significant decision made by the federal government that affects the environment,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said, adding that the NEPA reform would be the “most significant deregulatory proposal” of the Trump administration. The proposed rule says federal agencies would not need to factor in the “cumulative impacts” of a project, which could include its impact on climate change, making it easier for major fossil fuel projects to sail through the approval process and avoid legal challenges.

[..] Trump’s efforts to cut regulatory red tape have been praised by industry. But they have so far largely backfired by triggering waves of lawsuits that the administration has lost in court, according to a running tally here by the New York University School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity. Over the last few years, federal courts have ruled that NEPA requires the federal government to consider a project’s carbon footprint in decisions related to leasing public lands for drilling or building pipelines.

Read more …

The author is a senior fellow at the think tank Center for China and Globalization. That explains a lot. But yes, China achieved a lot re: poverty. Question is: at what price?

China To Become First To Realize UN Goal Of ‘No Poverty’ (CD)

China is poised to realize a dream that a few decades ago most experts would have dismissed as wishful thinking. For centuries, China dreamed of building a “moderately prosperous society” in all respects. And this year, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, China will realize that dream despite having a population of more than 1.3 billion. Late leader Deng Xiaoping resurrected this ancient but never-realized goal when reform and opening-up were launched. Chinese leaders who followed adopted it, adding additional details. President Xi Jinping included it in his seminal “four-pronged comprehensive strategy” in 2014. Xi explained the notion in great detail at the 19th National Congress of the CPC in October 2017 in a speech titled, “Secure a Decisive Victory in Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects”, mentioning the concept 18 times.

He said that building a moderately prosperous society in all respects meant promoting social fairness and justice, as well as ensuring steady access to childcare, education, employment, medical service, elderly care, housing and social assistance. He pledged to “intensify poverty alleviation, see that all our people have a greater sense of fulfillment as they contribute to and gain from development, and continue to promote well-rounded human development and common prosperity for everyone.” Now, a little more than two years later, the results are in, and China is about to eradicate absolute poverty. In 1979, China’s per capita GDP was $200. It is now estimated to be $10,000, a 50-fold increase – with GDP growth averaging just shy of 10 percent a year.

Over the past four decades, China has lifted about 800 million people out of poverty, which is 70 percent of the global total. Little wonder China is set to become the first developing country to achieve the first of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals: No poverty. China’s rural population living under the currently defined poverty line of $1.90 per person per day fell from 770 million in 1978 to 16.6 million in 2018, and the rural poverty level declined from 97.5 percent to 1.7 percent, a decrease of 95.8 percent. In 2019 alone, about 340 impoverished counties and 10 million people were lifted out of poverty. And Xi has pledged that after the eradication of absolutely poverty in 2020, China will launch a campaign to eliminate relative poverty.

Read more …

 

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Oct 152019
 
 October 15, 2019  Posted by at 9:43 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  11 Responses »


Paul Gauguin A seashore 1887

 

Trump Tells Turkey To Stop Its Syria Invasion (R.)
‘You’ve Been Duped By Spooks & Terrorists’ (RT)
Bernie Wants You to Own More of the Means of Production (Jac.)
No Choice But To Invest In Oil, Shell CEO Says (R.)
New German Rules Leave 5G Telecoms Door Open To Huawei (R.)
James Comey Is Swimming In Cash (BI)
Ghislaine Maxwell’s Open Secret (Webb)
Behind Hong Kong’s Black Terror (Escobar)
Trio Wins Economics Nobel For Science-Based Poverty Fight (R.)

 

 

Did they plan this in advance?

Trump Tells Turkey To Stop Its Syria Invasion (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday demanded Turkey stop its military incursion in Syria and imposed new sanctions on the NATO ally as Trump scrambled to limit the damage from his much-criticized decision to clear U.S. troops from Turkey’s path. Vice President Mike Pence said Trump had told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call on Monday to agree to an immediate ceasefire. He also said he would travel to the region soon to try to mediate the crisis. Pence said Trump had been firm with Erdogan on the phone. “The United States of America simply is not going to tolerate Turkey’s invasion in Syria any further. We are calling on Turkey to stand down, end the violence and come to the negotiating table,” Pence told reporters.

Turkey launched a cross-border operation into northern Syria on Wednesday just days after Erdogan told Trump in a phone call that he planned to move ahead with a long-planned move against America’s Kurdish allies in the region. Trump abruptly announced a redeployment of 50 American troops from the conflict zone to get them out of harm’s way, dismissing criticism that this would leave the Kurds open to attack. This was widely seen as giving Erdogan a green light for his operation. With lawmakers in the U.S. Congress moving to impose sanctions of their own, Trump issued an executive order authorizing sanctions against current and former officials of the Turkish government for contributing to Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria.


In a statement, Trump said he had increased tariffs on imports of Turkish steel back up to 50 percent, six months after they were reduced, and would immediately stop negotiations on what he called a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey. “Unfortunately, Turkey does not appear to be mitigating the humanitarian effects of its invasion,” said Trump.

Read more …

The New York Times had no credibility left anyway.

‘You’ve Been Duped By Spooks & Terrorists’ (RT)

A damning report by the New York Times, which accused Russia of bombing four UN-protected hospitals in Syria, is a product of misinformation by Western intelligence services and jihadists, the Russian military said. On Sunday, the leading US newspaper said it had irrefutable proof that Russian warplanes had bombed four sites in Syria, which it knew to be locations of civilian hospitals. The accusation stems from analysis of social media, interviews with witnesses, data provided by local plane spotters and records of communications of the Russian military deployed in Syria. The bombings, which happened on May 5 and 6, are just a faction of attacks on civilian infrastructure, for which Moscow carries responsibility, the newspaper alleged.

Responding to the accusation on Monday, the Russian military said Times report was flawed for several reasons, including failure to explain that Idlib Governorate, where the four alleged bombings took place, lives under rule of brutal jihadists. That detail affects the entire narrative, indicating its flawed sourcing. “Gadgets, modern radio scanners, protected notebooks, internet connection are all things that the local civilian population simply cannot afford. They are more interested in daily surviving under the yoke of the terrorists,” said Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov. He was referring to the equipment used by “plane spotters”, who provided their data to Times.


The newspaper said those observers “insisted on anonymity for their safety”, but the Russian military says they shouldn’t have bothered and identified them as the people behind a “combat intelligence system” based on equipment developed by a US company called Hala Systems. The system known as Sentry is a collection of suitcase-sized sensors connected into a network plus an AI-based algorithm, which uses signals from those sensors as well as social media data to analyze and predict airstrikes in Idlib. Hala Systems says it’s a for-profit company that develops and operates the system on grants from governments of Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark the United States, and Germany.

Read more …

Electable?

Bernie Wants You to Own More of the Means of Production (Jac.)

Bernie Sanders released a proposal today that would gradually shift 20 percent of corporate equity into funds owned and controlled by the workers in each company. The plan, which would apply to all publicly-traded companies and large closely-held companies, would move 2 percent of corporate stock into worker funds each year for a decade. Once the shares are transferred into the funds, workers would begin receiving dividends and have the ability to exercise the voting rights of the shares, including the right to vote on corporate board elections and on shareholder resolutions. Sanders’s plan is by far the most radical worker ownership proposal put forward by a presidential candidate in recent memory.

By last count, the market value of publicly-traded domestic companies stood at $35.6 trillion. This means that the Sanders plan would shift at least $7.1 trillion of corporate equity into worker funds by gradually diluting the value of previously-issued corporate stock. Those who stand to “lose” from the proposal are the incumbent owners of corporate equity, which are overwhelmingly affluent people. At present, the top 10 percent of families own around 86.4 percent of corporate equities and mutual fund shares, with the top one percent owning 52 percent by themselves.


Closely-held businesses, which will also be affected by the scheme if they are large enough, have similarly concentrated ownership, with the top 10 percent of families owning 87.5 percent of private business equity and the top one percent of families owning 57.5 percent of it. Of course, these incumbent owners will not actually lose anything in an absolute sense. The average historical return of the US stock market has been 9.8 percent per year, while the average return of the last 10 years has been just over 13 percent. The effect of the two percent share issuances is to knock the total rate of return down by two percentage points, meaning that incumbent owners still get richer year-over-year, just less so than they would absent the Sanders plan.

Read more …

Well, they’re on oil company. What did you expect?

No Choice But To Invest In Oil, Shell CEO Says (R.)

Royal Dutch Shell still sees abundant opportunity to make money from oil and gas in coming decades even as investors and governments increase pressure on energy companies over climate change, its chief executive said. But in an interview with Reuters, Ben van Beurden expressed concern that some shareholders could abandon the world’s second-largest listed energy company due partly to what he called the “demonisation” of oil and gas and “unjustified” worries that its business model was unsustainable. The 61-year-old Dutch executive in recent years became one of the sector’s most prominent voices advocating action over global warming in the wake of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Shell, which supplies around 3% of the world’s energy, set out in 2017 a plan to halve the intensity of its greenhouse emissions by the middle of the century, based in large part on building one of the world’s biggest power businesses. Still, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from Shell’s operations and the products it sells rose by 2.5% between 2017 and 2018. A defiant van Beurden rejected a rising chorus from climate activists and parts of the investor community to transform radically the 112-year-old Anglo-Dutch company’s traditional business model. “Despite what a lot of activists say, it is entirely legitimate to invest in oil and gas because the world demands it,” van Beurden said. “We have no choice” but to invest in long-life projects, he added.

[..][ “We can sustain an upstream portfolio all the way into the 2030s if there is an economic rationale for doing that and a societal rationale for doing that,” van Beurden said. “Fortunately enough, we have more of those than we have money to spend on them.” Van Beurden rejected as a “red herring” arguments that Shell’s oil and gas reserves, which can sustain its current production for around eight years, would be economically unviable, or stranded, in the future. A lack of investment in oil and gas projects could lead to a supply shortage and result in price spikes, he said. “One of the bigger risks is not so much that we will become dinosaurs because we are still investing in oil and gas when there is no need for it anymore. A bigger risk is prematurely turning your back on oil and gas.”


Shell plans to increase its annual spending to around $32 billion by 2025 from the current $25 billion, with up to one tenth allocated to renewables and the power business. The company, the world’s largest dividend payer, plans to return $125 billion to shareholders in the five years to 2025.

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“..banning the Chinese vendor would add years of delays and billions of dollars in costs to launching 5G networks.”

New German Rules Leave 5G Telecoms Door Open To Huawei (R.)

Germany has finalised rules for the build-out of 5G mobile networks that, in a snub to the United States, will not exclude China’s Huawei Technologies. Government officials confirmed that Germany’s so-called security catalogue foresaw an evaluation of technical and other criteria, but that no single vendor would be barred in order to create a level playing field for equipment vendors. “We are not taking a pre-emptive decision to ban any actor, or any company,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference in Berlin on Monday. The United States has piled pressure on its allies to shut out Huawei, the leading telecoms equipment vendor with a global market share of 28%, saying its gear contained ‘back doors’ that would enable China to spy on other countries.


German operators are all customers of Huawei and have warned that banning the Chinese vendor would add years of delays and billions of dollars in costs to launching 5G networks. The Shenzhen-based company has denied the allegations by Washington, which imposed export controls on Huawei in May, hobbling its smartphone business and raising questions over whether the Chinese company can maintain its market lead. U.S. officials have also argued that, under China’s national intelligence law, all citizens and companies are required to collaborate in espionage efforts.

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No kidding: “It’s a lot!” Comey told the Times. “Seriously, it’s crazy.”

James Comey Is Swimming In Cash (BI)

Losing a job and having your career go up in flames can be scarring. But the smoldering embers sometimes give forth to fertile new soil from which to start anew. Few have had a more public and dramatic firing than former-FBI director James Comey, who President Donald Trump infamously and suddenly ousted in 2017 amid inquiries into Russian meddling and suspicions that he did not have Comey’s loyalty. That fateful decision sent Comey’s law-enforcement career up in smoke — and precipitated the special-counsel investigation by Robert Mueller — but also laid the groundwork to launch a lucrative second-act in media, including six-figure speaking fees, prestigious writing contracts, a TV series, and a multimillion dollar book deal.

In a profile of his post-FBI life by Matt Flegenheimer in The New York Times, Comey asserts his primary preoccupation now, as a self-described “unemployed celebrity,” is stopping Trump. This vocation, while lacking the official powers of his former post in the FBI, appears well-suited for raking in piles of cash. Comey may have lost a roughly $170,000 annual salary as FBI director, but now he earns as much in a single speaking engagement. He’s been traveling the country giving six-figure paid speeches on leadership, as well as gratis appearances at universities, according to the NYT. “It’s a lot!” Comey told the Times. “Seriously, it’s crazy.”


Comey recently gave talks at Yale, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and the Sacramento Speaker Series, and he’s due to speak at “Politicon” in Nashville later this month. He also has a contract to write opinion columns for The Washington Post, according to the NYT. And then there’s the forthcoming CBS Studios miniseries, in which he’ll be portrayed by actor Jeff Daniels. The series is based on Comey’s bestselling 2018 book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” which reportedly netted him millions as well. Of course, Comey was already a multimillionaire before accepting the job in 2013 as FBI director under President Barack Obama. In financial filings, he reported a net worth of $11 million, not including an anticipated $3 million payout from hedge-fund giant Bridgewater Associates, where Comey spent a couple years as general counsel.

Read more …

Whitney Webb continues her series.

Ghislaine Maxwell’s Open Secret (Webb)

Media reports cite Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell as having developed a close relationship at least by February 2000, when Andrew had spent a week at Epstein’s controversial New York penthouse at 9 East 71st Street. One report published in 2000 by London’s Sunday Times claimed that the two were introduced by Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, often referred to as “Fergie” in the press, and further claims that this introduction had taken place several years prior. Epstein is alleged to have first been introduced to Andrew via Maxwell in 1999. Years after this introduction was made, Jeffrey Epstein would provide financial assistance to Ferguson at Prince Andrew’s behest by paying Ferguson’s former personal assistant £15,000, allegedly in order to allow for “a wider restructuring of Sarah’s £5 million debts to take place,” according to The Telegraph.

Oddly, by April of that year, Maxwell and Prince Andrew were spotted by their fellow diners at a posh New York restaurant holding hands, prompting both the Prince and Maxwell to claim that their relationship was merely “platonic.” However, a separate report from 2007 in the Evening Standard refers to Maxwell as one of Prince Andrew’s former girlfriends. Within a year of their close relationship having become public, Andrew and Ghislaine were reported to have gone on eight different vacations together, of which Epstein accompanied them for five. Andrew also brought Maxwell and Epstein to celebrate the Queen’s birthday in 2000 as his personal guests.


Several reports from this period also provide interesting insight into Maxwell’s business activities and private life. One article from 2000, published in London’s Sunday Times, states that “for all her high-profile appearances on Manhattan’s A-List merry-go-round, she [Maxwell] is secretive to the point of paranoia and her business affairs are deeply mysterious.” It goes on to say that Maxwell “has been building a business empire as opaque as father’s” — referencing Robert Maxwell’s business empire, which included multiple front companies for Israeli intelligence — and adds that “her office in Manhattan refuses to confirm even the nature or the name of her business.”

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A slightly different take.

Behind Hong Kong’s Black Terror (Escobar)

The new slogans of Hong Kong’s black bloc – a mob on a rampage connected to the black shirt protestors – made their first appearance on a rainy Sunday afternoon, scrawled on walls in Kowloon. Decoding the slogans is essential to understand the mindless street violence that was unleashed even before the anti-mask law passed by the government of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) went into effect at midnight on Friday, October 4. By the way, the anti-mask law is the sort of measure that was authorized by the 1922 British colonial Emergency Regulations Ordnance, which granted the city government the authority to “make any regulations whatsoever which he [or she] may consider desirable in the public interest” in case of “emergency or public danger”.

Perhaps the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, was unaware of this fine lineage when she commented that the law “only intensifies concern over freedom of expression.” And it is probably safe to assume that neither she nor other virulent opponents of the law know that a very similar anti-mask law was enacted in Canada on June 19, 2013. More likely to be informed is Hong Kong garment and media tycoon Jimmy Lai, billionaire publisher of the pro-democracy Apple Daily, the city’s Chinese Communist Party critic-in-chief and highly visible interlocutor of official Washington, DC, notables such as US Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and ex-National Security Council head John Bolton.


On September 6, before the onset of the deranged vandalism and violence that have defined Hong Kong “pro-democracy protests” over the past several weeks, Lai spoke with Bloomberg TV’s Stephen Engle from his Kowloon home. He pronounced himself convinced that – if protests turned violent China would have no choice but to send People’s Armed Police units from Shenzen into Hong Kong to put down unrest. “That,” he said on Bloomberg TV, “will be a repeat of the Tiananmen Square massacre and that will bring in the whole world against China….. Hong Kong will be done, and … China will be done, too.”

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Science fights poverty?! Sounds like absolute BS to me. I asked Steve Keen if he knows the winners. He replied:

“No. Experimental economics is the latest fad, though it’s not supposed to encompass real world experiments like the IMF’s program for Argentina.”

Trio Wins Economics Nobel For Science-Based Poverty Fight (R.)

U.S.-based economists Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer won the 2019 Nobel Economics Prize on Monday for work fighting poverty that has helped millions of children by favoring practical steps over theory. French-American Duflo becomes only the second woman to win the economics prize in its 50-year history, as well as the youngest at 46. She shared the award equally with Indian-born American Banerjee and Kremer, also of the United States. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their work had shown how poverty could be addressed by breaking it down into smaller and more precise questions in areas such as education and healthcare, and then testing solutions in the field.

It said the results of their studies and field experiments had ranged from helping millions of Indian schoolchildren with remedial tutoring to encouraging governments around the world to increase funding for preventative medicine. “It starts from the idea that the poor are often reduced to caricatures and even the people that try to help them do not actually understand what are the deep roots of (their) problems,” Duflo told reporters in Stockholm by telephone. “What we try to do in our approach is to say, ‘Look, let’s try to unpack the problems one-by-one and address them as rigorously and scientifically as possible’,” she added.


The team pioneered “randomized controlled trials”, or RCTs, in economics. Long used in fields such as medicine, an RCT could for example take two groups of people and study what difference a treatment makes on one group while the other group is only given a placebo. Applied to development economics, such field experiments found for example that providing more textbooks and free school meals had only small effects, while targeting help for weak students made a big difference to overall educational levels. “It’s a prize not just for us but for the whole movement,” Banerjee later told a joint news conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where they both work. Kremer is a researcher at Harvard University.

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When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set


Lin Yutang

 

 

 

Jul 292019
 


Odilon Redon Fallen angel 1872

 

A New US Oil Production Peak Looks Imminent (Robert Rapier)
China’s Wobbly Giants (Fortune)
Business Lobby Group CBI Says UK, EU Not Ready For No-Deal Brexit (BBC)
Johnson Told No-Deal Brexit Will Crush Domestic Policy Plans (G.)
More Than 4 Million In UK Are Trapped In Deep Poverty (G.)
Ratcliffe Tapped To Replace Coats As US Spy Chief (R.)
Work On Production Line Of Boeing 737 MAX ‘Not Adequately Funded’ (BBC)
Insulin Is Our Oxygen: Bernie Sanders Rides Another Campaign Bus To Canada (G.)
Papadopoulos To Head To Greece To Retrieve $10,000 Payment (Fox)
US Wants To ‘Make An Example’ Of Assange In Jail, UN Expert Claims (SMH)

 

 

Cheap money blows bubbles, but…

A New US Oil Production Peak Looks Imminent (Robert Rapier)

The resurgence of U.S. oil production over the past decade diminished OPEC’s control of the global oil markets. In less than eight years, U.S. oil production climbed from under 6 million barrels per day (BPD) to more than 12 million BPD. This surge is arguably the only reason oil prices today aren’t above $100/barrel (bbl). OPEC’s current strategy seems to be to wait for U.S. production to begin declining so they can begin to regain control of the oil markets. They may not have to wait all that long.

In last week’s article, I covered the slowdown in oil production growth in the Permian Basin. This is the most important oil-producing region in the U.S., but of course it isn’t the only one. And while most of the coverage of the resurgence of U.S. oil production has been primarily focused on shale oil and tight oil, U.S. offshore oil production has also made a big jump. Over the past decade, Gulf Coast oil production in the U.S. rose from about 1.2 million BPD to about 2.0 million BPD.


Thus, I thought today it might be instructive to look at the trends in total U.S. oil production. Note that in the previous graphic, it looks like production may be starting to turn down right at the end of the time frame. In fact, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has reported a slight downward trend in U.S. oil production since May. The key question is whether this is an anomaly, or the beginning of a sustained trend. Applying the same analysis that I did last week to Permian Basin production – which looked at year-over-year production changes – it becomes clear that overall U.S. production growth is declining even faster than Permian Basin production growth.

Read more …

“.. state-owned enterprises account for 80% of the revenue generated by Chinese companies..”

China’s Wobbly Giants (Fortune)

In China, publication of the Fortune Global 500 has become a major media event. Companies advancing even a place or two rush out press releases. Those making the list for first time bask in the achievement; this year’s most notable Chinese debutant, smartphone maker Xiaomi, celebrated by doling out $24 million in stock to its 20,000 employees. The 2019 list gives Chinese firms something special to crow about: the number of Chinese firms rose to a record 129, including 10 from Taiwan, overtaking the 121 firms from the United States.

[..] the most striking characteristic of China’s presence on the Global 500 remains the overwhelming—and growing—dominance of state-owned firms. A calculation by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post found that, if firms from Hong Kong and Taiwan are excluded, state-owned enterprises account for 80% of the revenue generated by Chinese companies on the 2019 list, up from 76% last year. Derek Scissors, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, argues the prevalence of state-owned behemoths among Chinese firms “reveals more weakness than strength.”

He questions whether firms like Ping An Insurance Group (No. 29) and Huawei Technologies (No. 61) are truly private; doubts the veracity of financial results reported by China’s state-owned firms; and notes that Chinese SOEs are mostly sleepy monopolies. The vast revenue of state-owned Chinese companies on the Fortune 500, he concludes, “primarily represents waste.” Former Financial Times China correspondent Richard McGregor offers a more nuanced explanation for the ascendance of China’s state-owned giants in his new book Xi Jinping: The Backlash. For China watchers, the entire book is a must-read, but this excerpt published recently in The Guardian, summarizes Richard’s account of how and why Xi sought to bolster state-owned enterprises at the expense of private enterprise.

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What is it, 100 days until Halloween?!

Business Lobby Group CBI Says UK, EU Not Ready For No-Deal Brexit (BBC)

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned the government that neither the UK nor the EU is ready for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. “While the UK’s preparations to date are welcome, the unprecedented nature of Brexit means some aspects cannot be mitigated,” said the CBI. It has published practical steps it says the UK, EU and firms can take. A government spokesman said the UK has increased the pace of planning for no-deal. The CBI had previously said leaving the EU with a deal was essential to protect the economy and jobs. New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made Michael Gove responsible for planning a no-deal Brexit. Mr Gove has said the UK government is currently “working on the assumption” of a no-deal Brexit.


He said his team still aimed to come to an agreement with Brussels but, writing in the Sunday Times, he added: “No deal is now a very real prospect.” The CBI’s report What Comes Next? The Business Analysis Of No Deal Preparations advises what measures businesses can take to reduce the worst effects. The advice is based on a study of existing plans laid out by the UK government, European Commission, member states and firms. “And although businesses have already spent billions on contingency planning for no deal, they remain hampered by unclear advice, timelines, cost and complexity,” the CBI says. “Larger companies, particularly those in regulated areas such as financial services, have well-thought-through contingency plans in place, though smaller firms are less well prepared.”

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They’re stuck on the backstop: “Johnson may well find that having left one political union, he spends an increasing proportion of his time trying to keep another together..”

Johnson Told No-Deal Brexit Will Crush Domestic Policy Plans (G.)

Boris Johnson’s ambitious domestic agenda would be crushed by the pressing needs of the emergency that would follow a no-deal Brexit, a new report by a Whitehall thinktank has concluded. The Institute for Government (IfG) warned there is “no such thing as a managed no deal” and the hard Brexiters predictions of a “clean break” from the EU will not materialise. Johnson will begin his first full week in Downing Street by ramping up planning for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, with more than £1bn to be announced within days for preparations by Sajid Javid, the chancellor. He sent out a raft of cabinet ministers over the weekend to talk about “turbo-charging” preparations as part of a publicity blitz, making clear that the UK will be heading for no deal unless EU leaders agree to replace the Irish backstop.

The new prime minister is also heading to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the coming days to promise to “strengthen the union”, but he faces a difficult meeting with Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, on Monday as she warned over the weekend that she cannot sign up to his no-deal Brexit strategy. In its report on no deal, the IfG predicted that the union of the United Kingdom would come under “unprecedented pressure” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, with Northern Ireland “most acutely affected”. It said that legislation to introduce direct rule in Northern Ireland with immediate effect would be needed to get through a no-deal Brexit if the devolved government is not restored by the end of October. “Johnson may well find that having left one political union, he spends an increasing proportion of his time trying to keep another together,” it said.

[..] In another sign of the uncertainty Johnson faces, the owner of Vauxhall warned on Sunday that it will close its Ellesmere Port plant with the loss of 1,000 jobs if Brexit renders it unprofitable. “No deal is a step into the unknown: the prime minister’s second 100 days will be even more unpredictable than his first,” the report says, adding that the EU is unlikely to agree to negotiate any “side deals” to soften the impact. “Rather than ‘turbo-charging’ the economy, as Johnson has suggested, the government is more likely to be occupied with providing money and support to businesses and industries that have not prepared or are worst affected by a no-deal Brexit – as well as dealing with UK citizens in the EU, and EU citizens here, who have been similarly caught out,” it says.

[..] Dominic Cummings, the mastermind behind Vote Leave, who has been hired as Johnson’s special adviser, has been tasked with delivering Brexit “by any means necessary”. In a meeting with fellow special advisers, he made it clear that he believes No 10 can outmanoeuvre parliamentary critics of no deal and force Brexit to happen by 31 October. However, leading former cabinet ministers – Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Rory Stewart – are all preparing to join the cross-party battle to make sure parliament has a say on the form of the UK’s departure. One source close to the group said Cummings’s confidence of being able to proceed with a no deal if necessary was “misplaced”, while another former cabinet minister described the senior No 10 adviser as a “master of disinformation and spin”.

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While all attention and funding goes towards Brexit…

More Than 4 Million In UK Are Trapped In Deep Poverty (G.)

More than 4 million people in the UK are trapped in deep poverty, meaning their income is at least 50% below the official breadline, locking them into a weekly struggle to afford the most basic living essentials, an independent study has shown. The Social Metrics Commission also said 7 million people, including 2.3 million children, were affected by what it termed persistent poverty, meaning that they were not only in poverty but had been for at least two of the previous three years. Highlighting evidence of rising levels of hardship in recent years among children, larger families, lone parent households and pensioners, the commission urged the new prime minister, Boris Johnson, to take urgent action to tackle growing poverty.


The commission’s chair, Philippa Stroud, a Conservative peer, said there was a pressing need for a concerted approach to the problem. “It is time to look again at our approach to children, and to invest in our children as the future of our nation,” she said. Campaigners said the commission showed austerity had undermined two decades of anti-poverty policy. “By cutting £40bn a year from our work and pensions budget through cuts and freezes to tax credits and benefits, the government has put progress into reverse,” said Alison Garnham, the chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group.

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He was strong in the Mueller hearing.

Ratcliffe Tapped To Replace Coats As US Spy Chief (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would nominate Representative John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican who strongly defended him at a recent congressional hearing, to replace Dan Coats as the U.S. spy chief. Coats, the current U.S. director of national intelligence who has clashed with Trump over assessments involving Russia, Iran and North Korea, will step down on Aug. 15, the president said as he announced his decision on Twitter. “John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves,” Trump said, thanking Coats “for his great service to our Country” and saying an acting director will be named shortly. The post of director of national intelligence, created after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, oversees the 17 U.S. civilian and military intelligence agencies, including the CIA.


Ratcliffe, a member of the House of Representatives intelligence and judiciary committees, defended Trump during former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on Wednesday about his two-year investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice. Ratcliffe also accused Mueller of exceeding his authority in the report’s extensive discussion of potential obstruction of justice by Trump after the special counsel decided not to draw a conclusion on whether Trump committed a crime. The congressman agreed that Trump was not above the law, but said the president should not be “below the law” either.

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“My family won’t fly on a 737 Max.”

Work On Production Line Of Boeing 737 MAX ‘Not Adequately Funded’ (BBC)

A former Boeing engineer has told the BBC’s Panorama programme that work on the production line of the 737 Max plane was not adequately funded. The aircraft is currently grounded after two crashes which killed 346 people. The 737 Max is the company’s fastest selling plane and has earned the company billions of dollars in sales. Boeing denies the claims and says it’s committed to making the 737 Max one of the safest aircraft ever to fly. Adam Dickson worked at Boeing for 30 years and led a team of engineers who worked on the 737 Max. He said they were under constant pressure to keep costs down. “Certainly what I saw was a lack of sufficient resources to do the job in its entirety,” he says. “The culture was very cost centred, incredibly pressurised. Engineers were given targets to get certain amount of cost out of the aeroplane.”


Mr Dickson said engineers were under pressure to downplay new features on the 737 Max. He said by classifying them as minor rather than major changes, Boeing would face less scrutiny from the US regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration. “The goal was to show that those differences were so similar to the previous design that it would not require a major design classification in the certification process. There was a lot of interest and pressure on the certification and analysis engineers in particular, to look at any changes to the Max as minor changes.” He said that downplaying the changes reduced scrutiny in a way that could impact safety. Now even his own family have fears about the plane’s safety. “My family won’t fly on a 737 Max. It’s frightening to see such a major incident because of a system that didn’t function properly or accurately.”

Read more …

“How does it happen 10 minutes away from the American border in Michigan, people here are paying one-10th of the price for the vitally important drug they need to stay alive?”

Insulin Is Our Oxygen: Bernie Sanders Rides Another Campaign Bus To Canada (G.)

When Hunter Sego realized the insulin he needed to manage his Type 1 diabetes cost more than $1,400, he called his mother in a panic. His family had insurance. He did not believe it was possible a one-month supply of “life saving” medication could cost so much. The price tag was correct. Then a student and football player at DePauw University, he began to ration his insulin, using a quarter of what had been prescribed. He lost weight. His grades dropped. He struggled on the field. Fortunately, his mother found out and stopped him from rationing his insulin – a practice that is increasingly common and potentially deadly.

On Sunday, Sego and his mother, Kathy, drove seven hours from Indiana to join a caravan of roughly a dozen patients with Type 1 diabetes on a bus to Canada with Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The Americans – wearing glucose monitors on their arms and shirts that said “diabetic” – set out to buy insulin for a fraction of its cost at home. Sanders’ northern sojourn, a trip his campaign sponsored, was designed to highlight the rising cost of prescription drugs in the US, which the senator said was the result of “incredible corruption and greed” on the part of the US pharmaceutical industry.

“How does it happen 10 minutes away from the American border in Michigan, people here are paying one-10th of the price for the vitally important drug they need to stay alive?” Sanders asked, calling the disparity a “national embarrassment”. In his remarks outside of the Olde Walkerville Pharmacy in Windsor, Sanders vowed that as president he would appoint an attorney general to investigate the pharmaceutical industry for what he described as “collusion” between the major drug companies. “Prices go up and up and up at the same level for the same companies,” he said. “So what you do is you throw these people in jail if they engage in price-fixing.”

Read more …

How many agents are going to be on his tail?

Papadopoulos To Head To Greece To Retrieve $10,000 Payment (Fox)

Former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo in an exclusive interview that he is heading back to Greece to retrieve $10,000 that he suspects was dropped in his lap as part of an entrapment scheme by the CIA or FBI — and federal investigators want to see the marked bills, which he said are now stored in a safe. Papadopoulos said on “Sunday Morning Futures” he was “very happy” to see Devin Nunes, R-Calif., grill former Special Counsel Robert Mueller about the summer 2017 payment during last week’s hearings — even though Mueller maintained, without explanation, that the matter was outside the scope of his investigation.

“I was very happy to see that Devin Nunes brought that up,” Papadopoulos said. “A man named Charles Tawil gave me this money [in Israel] under very suspicious circumstances. A simple Google search about this individual will reveal he was a CIA or State Department asset in South Africa during the ’90s and 2000s. I think around the time when Bob Mueller was the director of the FBI. “So, I have my theory of what that was all about,” Papadopoulos added. “The money, I gave it to my attorney in Greece because I felt it was given to me under very suspicious circumstances. And upon coming back to the United States I had about seven or eight FBI agents rummaging through my luggage looking for money.”

According to Papadopoulos, “the whole setup” by the “FBI likely, or even the special counsel’s office,” was intended to “bring a FARA [Foreign Agents Registration Act] violation against me.” The FARA statute played a key role in the prosecutions of former Trump aides, including Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort. Papadopoulos previously told Bartiromo in May that he wanted authorities to take a look at the money trail. “I actually want Congress, [Bill] Barr, [DOJ Inspector General Michael] Horowitz, and [U.S. Attorney John] Huber to review the bills because I still have the bills and I think they are marked,” Papadopoulos said. “These bills that are still in Athens right now must be examined by the investigators because I think they are marked and they’re going to go all the way back to DOJ, under the previous FBI under [James] Comey, and even the Mueller team.”

Read more …

But the torture just continues…

US Wants To ‘Make An Example’ Of Assange In Jail, UN Expert Claims (SMH)

The United States government has promised that Julian Assange will get a fair trial on espionage charges, rejecting the accusation of a United Nations expert that the administration “intends to make an example of him” with excessive charges and jail time. It has challenged the assessment of the expert, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, that Assange would “be exposed to a real risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” if he ended up in a US jail. But Melzer has warned that extradition to the US would severely and dangerously worsen Assange’s already fragile psychological state.

The WikiLeaks founder is in a London jail awaiting a legal fight against extradition to the US, where he has been charged with conspiracy to receive and disclose top secret documents allegedly obtained from army whistleblower Chelsea Manning in 2010. Assange’s team are expected to argue he will not receive a fair trial if the extradition takes place, and that extradition would be dangerous to his health – arguments bolstered by the damning independent report from Melzer. In May, after visiting Assange in Belmarsh Prison for an interview and psychological examination, Melzer concluded that the US, Britain, Sweden and Ecuador shared responsibility for the “psychological torture” of Assange.

On Sunday new details emerged of Melzer’s conclusions, after the publication of letters that Melzer sent to the respective governments of those countries. The UN Human Rights Commissioner also published two responses received from the US and Sweden which strongly rejected Melzer’s claims and arguments. In his letters, Melzer gave new details of Assange’s prison regimen. At the time of his visit Assange was shut in his cell for about 20 hours a day, eating all his meals in the 2 metre by 3 metre space with “a bed, a cupboard, a note-board, basic sanitary installations, a plastic chair and a medium sized window”. Melzer called for Assange to be given access to the prison library and gym, and expressed concern that his situation “severely hampers his ability to adequately prepare” for his legal fight.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 182019
 


Albert Gleizes The football players 1912-13

 

How Boeing, FAA Certified The Suspect 737 MAX Flight Control System (ST)
Boeing’s Doomed 737 Max’s (Margolis)
The EU Has Never Had More Power Over Britain (G.)
Dutch PM Compares Theresa May To Monty Python Limbless Knight (G.)
100,000 Children in UK ‘Could Become Undocumented’ Overnight After Brexit (G.)
‘Pupil Poverty’ Pressure On School Cash (BBC)
With Brexit Approaching UK’s Voice In Brussels Grows Quiet (G.)
Smartphone Shipments In China Collapse To Six Year Low (ZH)
Apartment Values Tipped To Plunge As Much As 50% In Some Sydney Areas (DM)
Ultra Low Wage Growth The Intended Outcome Of Government Policies (Quiggin)
Deutsche Bank And Commerzbank Go Public On Merger Talks (R.)
Saudi Crown Prince Allegedly Stripped Of Some Authority (G.)
Dead Whale Washed Up In Philippines Had 40kg Of Plastic Bags In Stomach (G.)

 

 

As I said on March 15: “If I were New Zealand’s government, and Australia’s, I’d say this is not the time for the countries’ white populations to speak. Let the Maori do the talking instead. It’s their land.”

 

 

Maybe not the kind of thing we should want to be swept under the carpet. But don’t underestimate Boeing’s political power. A series of tweets from a pilot and software engineer sheds a lot of light on what happened with the 737-MAX: one corner cut led automatically to the next one being cut. Until there were no more corners left. Dominoes. Zero Hedge has that series here.

Mike -Mish- Shedlock adds this: “If the above analysis by Trevor Sumner is correct, the planes were too complicated to fly because Boeing cut corners to save money, then did not even have the decency to deliver them with needed warning lights and operation instructions. There may be grounds for a criminal investigation here, not just civil. Regardless, Boeing’s decision to appeal to Trump to not ground the planes is morally reprehensible at best. Trump made the right call on this one, grounding the planes, albeit under international pressure. [..] By the way, if the timelines presented are correct, the FAA got in bed with Boeing, under Obama.”

How Boeing, FAA Certified The Suspect 737 MAX Flight Control System (ST)

As Boeing hustled in 2015 to catch up to Airbus and certify its new 737 MAX, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers pushed the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis. But the original safety analysis that Boeing delivered to the FAA for a new flight control system on the MAX — a report used to certify the plane as safe to fly — had several crucial flaws. That flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), is now under scrutiny after two crashes of the jet in less than five months resulted in Wednesday’s FAA order to ground the plane.

Current and former engineers directly involved with the evaluations or familiar with the document shared details of Boeing’s “System Safety Analysis” of MCAS, which The Seattle Times confirmed. The safety analysis: • Understated the power of the new flight control system, which was designed to swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the plane down to avert a stall. When the planes later entered service, MCAS was capable of moving the tail more than four times farther than was stated in the initial safety analysis document. • Failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded, thereby missing the potential impact of the system repeatedly pushing the airplane’s nose downward. •Assessed a failure of the system as one level below “catastrophic.” But even that “hazardous” danger level should have precluded activation of the system based on input from a single sensor — and yet that’s how it was designed.

The people who spoke to The Seattle Times and shared details of the safety analysis all spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their jobs at the FAA and other aviation organizations. Both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago, before the second crash of a 737 MAX last Sunday. Late Friday, the FAA said it followed its standard certification process on the MAX. Citing a busy week, a spokesman said the agency was “unable to delve into any detailed inquiries.” Boeing responded Saturday with a statement that “the FAA considered the final configuration and operating parameters of MCAS during MAX certification, and concluded that it met all certification and regulatory requirements.”

Read more …

Nice story, but he seeks to blame Trump instead of the FAA, and that doesn’t go anywhere.

Boeing’s Doomed 737 Max’s (Margolis)

I don’t like flying. I consider it unnatural, unhealthy and fraught with peril. But I do it all the time. For me, it’s either fly or take an ox cart. In fact, I’ve been flying since I was six years old – from New York to Paris on a lumbering Boeing Stratocruiser, a converted, double-decker WWII B-29 heavy bomber. I even had a sleeping berth. So much for progress. Lots can go wrong in the air. Modern aircraft have thousands of obscure parts. If any one of them malfunctions, the aircraft can be crippled or crash. Add pilot error, dangerous weather, air traffic control mistakes, mountains where they are not supposed to be, air to air collisions, sabotage and hijacking.

I vividly recall flying over the snow-capped Alps in the late 1940’s aboard an old Italian three-motor airliner with its port engine burning, and the Italian crew panicking and crossing themselves. Some years ago, I was on my way to Egypt when we were hijacked by a demented Ethiopian. A three day ordeal ensued that included a return flight to New York City from Germany, with the gunman threatening to crash the A-310 jumbo jet into Wall Street – a grim precursor of 9/11. My father, Henry Margolis, got off a British Comet airliner just before it blew up due to faulty windows.

Which brings me to the current Boeing crisis. After a brand new Boeing 737 Max crashed in Indonesia it seemed highly likely that there was a major problem in its new, invisible autopilot system, known as MCAS. All 737 Max’s flying around the world should have been grounded as a precaution. But America’s aviation authority, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), allowed the Max to keep flying. The FAA is half regulator and half aviation business promoter, a clear conflict of interest. The crash of a new Ethiopian 737 Max outside Addis Ababa under very similar circumstances to the Lion Air accident set off alarm bells around the globe.

Scores of airlines rightly grounded their new Max’s. But the US and Canada did not. The FAA continued to insist the aircraft was sound. The problem, it was hinted between the lines, was incompetent third world pilots. It now appears that America’s would-be emperor, Pilot-in–Chief Donald Trump, may have pressed the FAA to keep the 737 Max’s in the air. Canada, always shy when it comes to disagreeing with Washington, kept the 737 Max’s flying until there was a lot of evidence linking the Indonesia and Ethiopian crashes. Trump finally ordered the suspect aircraft grounded. But doing so was not his business. That’s the job of the FAA. But Trump, as usual, wanted to hog the limelight. By now, the 737 Max ban is just about universal.

Read more …

Mess. 11 days left.

The EU Has Never Had More Power Over Britain (G.)

It is easy to assign all the blame to Mrs May, the control freak who lost control. The charge list against her is certainly a lengthy one. She triggered article 50 before her government had an agreed strategy for withdrawal and her senior team then wasted months squabbling with itself rather than advancing the negotiations with the EU. Ignoring advice to the contrary and without advance discussion with her cabinet, she made a prison for herself by laying down red lines that made the negotiations more difficult and set her up for a string of ignominious subsequent reversals. When she threw away her majority at an election she didn’t have to call, she carried on as if nothing had changed rather than trying to reach out to other parties to forge a broad consensus about a way forward.

That made her the hostage of the Democratic Unionist party and the Brexit ultras on the right of her party. Mrs May has one quality that is of value in a political crisis. She has resilience. She lacks all the other ones, such as imagination, advocacy and agility. True, all true, and yet not the whole truth. Any account of this nightmare that holds Mrs May solely culpable is not a complete explanation for how we got here. In a dark corner of what remains of its political brain, the Tory party knows that it is collectively guilty of driving the country it professes to love into this shaming mess. With a few prescient exceptions, the Conservatives all backed David Cameron when he promised a referendum on the cynical basis that he might not have to deliver it and with the arrogant assumption that, if he did have to, he would easily win it.

Read more …

“She reminds me occasionally of that character from Monty Python where all the arms and legs are cut off but he then tells the opponent: ‘Let’s call it a draw.’

Dutch PM Compares Theresa May To Monty Python Limbless Knight (G.)

Theresa May is like the knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who loses his arms and legs in a duel and calls it a draw, the Dutch prime minister has said. Mark Rutte, who appeared visibly irritated last week at the failure of MPs to pass the Brexit deal, admitted feeling “angry” at the impasse in Westminster. He said his frustration was focused on the posturing of those seeking to make party political points during a major national crisis but praised May’s “incredible” resilience in the face of repeated knock-backs in the House of Commons. “Look, I have every respect for Theresa May,” Rutte said in an interview with the Dutch broadcaster WNL on Sunday.

“She reminds me occasionally of that character from Monty Python where all the arms and legs are cut off but he then tells the opponent: ‘Let’s call it a draw.’ She’s incredible. She goes on and on. At the same time, I do not blame her, but British politics.” The black knight sketch in the 1975 Monty Python film had John Cleese playing the role of the deluded swordsman who could not admit defeat, even as Graham Chapman’s King Arthur cut off all his limbs. Rutte said of the prime minister’s predicament: “You can see what happens when a country puts everything on the roulette wheel and takes a risk, and the whole thing collapses. That is what is happening. Economic, financial, politically, England is in a very bad position right now.”

Read more …

After 40 years of EU membership, the UK stands to plunge into chaos when 1000s of laws and regulations evaporate. Very predictable, but mostly ignored.

100,000 Children in UK ‘Could Become Undocumented’ Overnight After Brexit (G.)

Thousands of children of EU nationals risk becoming a new “Windrush generation”, a children’s legal charity has said. They are concerned that vulnerable children could become undocumented in the same way as the Caribbean children who came to the UK decades ago only to suffer at the hands of the Home Office’s hostile environment decades later. An estimated 900,000 EU national children are in the UK with about 285,000 born in the country. Coram Children’s Legal Centre fears that children in foster care, in care homes, and others from vulnerable families could slip through the net of the new Home Office registration scheme for EU nationals after Brexit.

The Home Office estimates that between 10% and 20% of all applicants will be vulnerable, unable to provide documentary evidence of their time in the UK. “If just 15% of the current population of EU national children fail to ‘regularise’ their status before the cut-off point, 100,000 children would be added to the UK’s undocumented child population overnight, nearly doubling it [the numbers of existing undocumented children],” said Kamena Dorling, group head of policy and public affairs at Coram. About 5,000 children of EU nationals are separated from their parents and are in care and Coram is calling on the government to force local authorities to identify them now in order to get their settled status before the cut-off point in 2020 or 2021.

Read more …

Dumb headline from BBC for a very real issue: schools care for poor pupils, and then see their funding cut.

‘Pupil Poverty’ Pressure On School Cash (BBC)

Schools in England are having to “pick up the pieces” for families in poverty, including giving food and clothes to children, head teachers warn. But, they say, that is unsustainable when schools are facing “funding cuts”. Heads will raise their concerns at the Association of School and College Leaders’ (ASCL) annual conference. Education Secretary Damian Hinds will tell the conference he is setting up an expert advisory group to help teachers with “the pressures of the job”. The advisory group, including the mental health charity Mind and teachers’ representatives, will look at ways to improve wellbeing among teachers and to tackle stress. [..]

Edward Conway, head of St Michael’s Catholic High School in Watford, says: “Pupil poverty has increased significantly over the past eight years, with us providing food, clothing, equipment and securing funds from charitable organisations to provide essential items such as beds and fridges.” The head teachers’ union has canvassed the views of school leaders, whose comments include: “When schools have to buy shoes for children to wear to school on a regular basis, we must have a problem.” Another head said: “In 24 years of education, I have not seen the extent of poverty like this. “Children are coming to school hungry, dirty and without the basics to set them up for life. “The gap between those that have and those that do not is rising and is stark.”

Read more …

Where Britain is: “sitting in the EU departure lounge.”

With Brexit Approaching UK’s Voice In Brussels Grows Quiet (G.)

For years a British foreign minister has shuttled once a month to Brussels or Luxembourg to meet their European counterparts. The crises of the world have crowded the agenda: from the Arab spring to the annexation of Crimea, coups, stolen elections and intractable wars. Monday, in theory, could be the last time the United Kingdom name plate is on the table. While a Brexit extension is a near-certainty, the official departure date is still 29 March. Uncertainty over exit day requires careful diplomacy. On Monday the British minister will have the chance to weigh in on the EU’s China strategy, ahead of a summit with Beijing on 9 April.

While British officials remain involved in discussions, the UK will hang back on strategic questions about how the EU should approach China. Nobody wants to be seen as lecturing European allies, while sitting in the EU departure lounge. A government spokesperson said: “The UK will continue to take a full part in discussions at the [Foreign Affairs Council], focusing on those issues that matter most to the UK and EU.” Other day-to-day EU business provides a jarring contrast with the government’s Brexit strategy: one of Theresa May’s last acts as an EU leader will be to sign a routine communique on strengthening the single market – the one she insists Britain must leave.

Meanwhile, the UK’s 73 MEPs do not know if they will be out of a job in a fortnight, or in three months. “It is really unsettling, but we are the least people to worry about,” said the Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, speaking just outside the chamber in Strasbourg under the strident ring of a voting bell. The uncertainty facing MEPs is nothing, she adds, compared with the unknowns confronting business. “A politician’s life is always uncertain, you never know if you are going to come back for the next mandate.”

Read more …

Radiation.

Smartphone Shipments In China Collapse To Six Year Low (ZH)

Months after Apple stunned the market by announcing it would no longer be reporting quarterly iPhone unit sales, we have some insight as to the reason. February saw smartphone shipments in China collapse to their lowest levels in six years, indicating that the super-saturated industry has failed to turn around amidst a global economy that is grinding slower. Shipments to China came in at 14.5 million units for February, down 19.9% from last year, according to Reuters, who cited the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. It’s the lowest total since February 2013.

February is traditionally a tough month for Chinese consumer purchases, as the Chinese spend a majority of the month celebrating the new year. However, this year’s drop was more concentrated than past years, as a result of both a slowing economy and the ongoing U.S./China trade war. When Apple recently cut sales forecasts this year, it blamed China for weighing on its results. To try and stimulate demand, the company paired with China-based Ant Financial to offer interest-free iPhone financing. Other retailers in China have tried similar promos to try and spur demand. This has some manufacturers, like Huawei, looking to corner the higher margin end of the market instead. Huawei saw its market share of China’s $500 to $800 device segment rise to 26.6% from 8.8% in 2018, according to data from Counterpoint Research. Apple, on the other hand, saw its share fall to 54.6% from 81.2%.

As an added bonus, we recently reported on Chinese smartphones also emitting the most radiation of any smartphones worldwide. The current smartphone creating the highest level of radiation is the Mi A1 from Chinese vendor Xiaomi. Another Chinese phone is in second place – the OnePlus 5T. In fact, the two companies are represented heavily in a list of “Phones Emitting the Most Radiation” that was recently released by Statista. 8 of the top 16 handsets being made by one of these two companies. Premium Apple phones, such as the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8 are also here to be seen, as are the latest Pixel handsets from Google.

Read more …

But there’s no bubble.

Apartment Values Tipped To Plunge As Much As 50% In Some Sydney Areas (DM)

Apartment values in Australia’s big cities are set to plunge, with prices in one suburb to plummet as much as 50 per cent according to one industry observer, as Chinese buyers abandon off-the-plan residential tower projects. Ryde, in Sydney’s north, is Australia’s second-worst performing property market with dwelling values diving by 14.8 per cent during the past year, CoreLogic data showed. Digital Finance Analytics founder Martin North, an economist, feared apartment values there could be sliced in half during the next three years before stagnating for a decade. ‘We’ve got massive oversupply in those areas but you’ve just got no demand,’ he told Daily Mail Australia on Friday.

‘Some of the central high-rise apartments in the inner urban areas, like Ryde, 40 per cent now is certainly feasible. ‘In the worst case, you could see unit prices nearly halve.’ Starr Partners chief executive Doug Driscoll, who specialises in the Sydney real estate market, said Mr North’s forecasts were far fetched. He did, however, blame councils for approving too many developments. ‘We had an influx of foreign investment. We had an environment of record low interest rates, money was easily available – these things don’t last forever,’ he told Daily Mail Australia. ‘In some suburbs, in some pockets, we have seen an oversupply.’

Read more …

From Australia, but applicable worldwide.

Ultra Low Wage Growth The Intended Outcome Of Government Policies (Quiggin)

The long debate over the causes of wage stagnation took an unexpected turn last week, when Finance Minister Matthias Cormann described (downward) flexibility in the rate of wage growth as “a deliberate design feature of our economic architecture”. It was a position that was endorsed in a flurry of confusion 16 seconds after it had been rejected by Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds. Cormann had said policies aimed at pushing wages up could cause “massive spikes in unemployment”. The ease with which Reynolds was trapped into at first rejecting and then accepting what her ministerial colleague had said flowed from the fact that Cormann had broken one of the standing conventions of politics in Australia, and for that matter, the English-speaking world.

For more than forty years, both the architecture of labour market regulation and the discretionary choices of governments have been designed with the precise objective of holding wages down. These policies have been quite successful, as can be seen from the graph. However, at least until recently, there has been bipartisan agreement on at least one aspect of them – that no one should mention their role in holding back wages. Instead, the decline in the wage share of national income has been variously blamed on • technology • immigration • imports from China and, more recently, • the end of the mining boom. None of these explanations stand up to scrutiny.

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The lame and the blind. Reports should look at the size of Deutsche relative to the German economy, and the nerves that touches in Berlin.

Deutsche Bank And Commerzbank Go Public On Merger Talks (R.)

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank confirmed on Sunday they were in talks about a merger, prompting labor union concerns about possible job losses and questions from analysts about the merits of a combination. Germany’s two largest banks issued short statements following separate meetings of their management boards, a person with knowledge of the matter said, indicating a quickening of pace in the merger process, although both also warned that a deal was far from certain. “In light of arising opportunities, the management board of Deutsche Bank has decided to review strategic options,” Deutsche said in its statement.

Christian Sewing, Deutsche Bank’s chief executive, told employees that Deutsche still aimed “to remain a global bank with a strong capital markets business… with a global network.”A merged bank would likely be the third largest in Europe after HSBC and BNP Paribas, with roughly 1.8 trillion euros ($2.04 trillion) in assets, such as loans and investments, and a market value of about 25 billion euros. [..] However, skeptics questioned the wisdom of a merger. “We do not see a national champion here, but a shaky zombie bank that could lead to another billion-euro grave for the German state. Why should we take this risk?” said Gerhard Schick, finance activist and ex-member of the German parliament.

While the banks had not publicly commented on merger talks until Sunday, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz last Monday confirmed that there were negotiations. On Sunday, the ministry acknowledged the announcement and said it remained in regular contact with all parties. However, there were signs of political opposition. Hans Michelbach, a lawmaker from the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), urged the government to sell its 15 percent stake in Commerzbank before a deal. “There may not be an ownership by the federal government in a merged big bank indirectly through an old stake. We do not need a German State Bank AG,” he told Reuters.

Read more …

Hearsay report.

Saudi Crown Prince Allegedly Stripped Of Some Authority (G.)

The heir to the Saudi throne has not attended a series of high-profile ministerial and diplomatic meetings in Saudi Arabia over the last fortnight and is alleged to have been stripped of some of his financial and economic authority, the Guardian has been told. The move to restrict, if only temporarily, the responsibilities of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is understood to have been revealed to a group of senior ministers earlier last week by his father, King Salman. The king is said to have asked Bin Salman to be at this cabinet meeting, but he failed to attend.

While the move has not been declared publicly, the Guardian has been told that one of the king’s trusted advisers, Musaed al-Aiban, who was educated at Harvard and recently named as national security adviser, will informally oversee investment decisions on the king’s behalf. The Saudi embassy in Washington has declined multiple requests for comment since the Guardian approached it on Tuesday. The relationship between the king and his son has been under scrutiny since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which was alleged to have been ordered by Prince Mohammed and provoked international condemnation of the crown prince. This has been denied by the Saudi government.

Experts on the Middle East are divided over whether the murder, and concern over the kingdom’s role in the conflict in Yemen, have led to tension at the heart of the notoriously secretive royal court. But while most observers expect Prince Mohammed to accede to the thrown, there are some signs that the king is seeking to rein in his controversial son at a time when Saudi Arabia is under the spotlight. The Guardian has been told Prince Mohammed did not attend two of the most recent weekly meetings of cabinet ministers, which are headed by the king. The crown prince has also not attended other high-profile talks with visiting dignitaries, including one last week with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.

Read more …

And this is just what we see, what washes up on beaches. “16 rice sacks. 4 banana plantation style bags and multiple shopping bags” in the whale’s stomach..”

Dead Whale Washed Up In Philippines Had 40kg Of Plastic Bags In Stomach (G.)

A young whale that washed up in the Philippines died from “gastric shock” after ingesting 40kg of plastic bags. Marine biologists and volunteers from the D’Bone Collector Museum in Davao City, in the Philippine island of Mindanao, were shocked to discover the brutal cause of death for the young curvier beaked whale, which washed ashore on Saturday. In a damning statement on their Facebook page, the museum said they uncovered “40 kilos of plastic bags, including 16 rice sacks. 4 banana plantation style bags and multiple shopping bags” in the whale’s stomach after conducting an autopsy. Images from the autopsy showed endless piles of rubbish being extracted from the inside of the animal, which was said to have died from “gastric shock” after ingesting all the plastic.

[..] The use of single-use plastic is rampant in south-east Asia. A 2017 report by Ocean Conservancy stated that China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam have been dumping more plastic into the ocean than the rest of the world combined. Marine biologist Darrell Blatchley, who also owns the D’Bone Collector Museum, said that in the 10 years they have examined dead whales and dolphins, 57 of them were found to have died due to accumulated rubbish and plastic in their stomachs.

Read more …

Feb 262019
 


Leonardo da Vinci Saint John the Baptist 1513-16

 

There are lots of people talking about how they much disagree with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, how silly she is, how dumb and impossible and irresponsible her Green New Deal is, but I think they’re missing a point or two. First of all: what’s the alternative? Who would you trade her for? Hillary? Feinstein? Pelosi? Bernie Sanders? Cory Booker?

Would you rather things stay the same? I can see that from the Hillary Pelosi camp, but not from any other Democrats – nor, obviously, Republicans. Three quarters of America must be dead sick of that cabal, the 50% that are GOP, plus the half of Democrats that would also prefer to vote for someone below 75 years old because 90% are themselves younger than that.

85-year old Dianne Feinstein told a bunch of climate protest kids last week that she’d been in Washington for 30 years and she ‘knows what goes on’. If she can’t see what the problem is with that, then she merely confirms 30 years is far too long in such a spot; Feinstein has been in Washington longer than Ocasio has been alive. Who does she represent that has an actual future left?

Someone wrote the other day that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s way of presenting herself showed she was “savvy beyond her years”, and I thought: you have that upside down. Those older than her couldn’t have presented themselves the way she does, because being 29 years old, born in 1989, she’s the first generation to literally grow up with internet and new media being everywhere. For anyone older, it’s acquired skills.

 

This is simply her time, and she uses it in the same way Donald Trump used the 2016 campaign being his time: they both found a gaping vacuum in power and credibility in their parties, and both jumped in. Even if that would be the only similarity between the two, it would still be an important one.

But of course there’s another one that’s obvious: social media use. Ocasio communicated through ‘new’ media from her days as a toddler, while Trump’s Twitter use is much more instinctive, but both are strong. And if we can agree that such skills are now required for any 2020 candidate, then I got to tell you I don’t see any politician who comes even close to their savvy and effectiveness on social media.

Are these skills one can learn, acquire? Well, anyone can type in a quasi-coherent bunch of characters, but with a billion or two people doing it, you’re going to have to stand out, and do that every single day. I for one am not at all sure that is teachable. You must be provocative up to and beyond the point of being fearless.

There’s a third major similarity between Trump and Ocasio, and that one is connected directly to Ocasio’s Green New Deal: both our protagonists – and antagonists- throw out bold ideas and plans and then wait and see what sticks. In other words, the Wall, and the Green New Deal. And bringing troops home. And creating meaningful employment.

 

 

Now of course you can say Ocasio’s Green New Deal is not realistic and she is clueless and dumb, but that risks taking you right back to what’s behind Door no. 1: Hillary, Pelosi, Bernie. Which is a good choice if you like young Americans invading foreign nations, the one thing Feinstein’s almost 30 years in the Senate can actually guarantee, but a terrible option if you want that kind of thing to stop.

And a terrible option, too, if you are even the slightest bit worried about the climate. The establishment, both Democrat and Republican, are absolutely useless when it comes to that, and they’ve had multiple decades to prove it. And even if that doesn’t rock your boat, you better realize that not only has the time come for Ocasio et al, the time for their, for new, ideas has arrived too.

There will be a version, some version, of the Green New Deal starting in the near future. Those schoolkids ‘confronting’ Feinstein are not smart enough to get it, and they’re being educated in the same school system that has duped all these generations into becoming pawns in a grand chess game, instead of thinking for themselves, but I bet you they are much more likely to vote Ocasio than Feinstein nonetheless.

And yes, those particular kids are too young to vote, and Ocasio’s too young to run, but pray stay with the larger program: Trump is where he is because the GOP had become such an outright failure that Donald could very simply waltz in and take over. The same is true for Ocasio and the Democrats: the incumbents represent the past, and not just because of their ages.

The ideas and policies America has been based on until now have functioned really only to keep the incumbents in their seats. But they have failed the country, whether you talk about climate, species extinction, global politics or the US economy. For all these things they find themselves at or over a dead end. And in comes Ocasio with her version of the Art of the Deal. So what matters (most) for now is that it’s green and it’s new.

Those clueless schoolkids are the vanguard of a new generation of Americans, and they’re going to demand change. Regardless of whether they actually understand the issues (I say they don’t), the climate is set to be a much more prominent election theme. Personally, this doesn’t exactly re-assure me, because the only thing I’ve seen so far is people promising to make money from producing less CO2.

And that’s something I wrote about many times, for instance in December 2016 in Heal the Planet for Profit:

If you ever wondered what the odds are of mankind surviving, let alone ‘defeating’, climate change, look no further than the essay “How To Make A Profit From Defeating Climate Change” the Guardian published this week, written by Michael Bloomberg and Mark Carney. It proves beyond a moonlight shadow of a doubt that the odds are infinitesimally close to absolute zero (Kelvin, no Hobbes).

[..] That these problems originated in the same relentless quest for profit that they now claim will help us get rid of them, is likely a step too far for them; must have been a class they missed. “We destroyed it for profit” apparently does not in their eyes contradict “we’ll fix it for profit too”.

Claiming that we can continue as we were if only we switch energy sources is so in conflict with the most basic of physics, that is: thermodynamics, that those who claim it are either real thick or, perhaps more likely in politicians and business people, lying through their teeth. In either case they’re unfit to build the future, any future. They should be stripped of their jobs and their money and be sent back to school.

 

I’m no fan of Ocasio saying she’s a socialist, since it may be the one step too far in America today that’s also entirely unnecessary. But by the same token I have no patience for those who claim capitalism is so much better than socialism while they’re getting or staying rich off of central bank interference, which for all intents and purposes is the exact opposite of capitalism.

In the same way that Ocasio stands out against her -much- older peers because of her exposure to ‘new media’, she and her actual peers also differ from most because they have grown up surrounded by scary climate stories. That doesn’t mean they understand the issue, and it doesn’t mean the stories are -all- true, but it does mean the issue is much more important to them than to Dianne Feinstein et al.

We cannot see -into- the future. But some things we can see: the next generation of Americans and American politicians will communicate much more than those before them though new media, whatever form these may take.

And since they have grown up with images of a decaying climate situation on top of ever-increasing poverty and an ever-declining American dream, who can blame them for wanting a Green New Deal that can at least alleviate some of the misery they inherit from the generations before them, even if they don’t know exactly from the start what that Green New Deal should look like and be made of?

I would perhaps suppress your first urge a bit to call it a stupid idea and all that. Because it’s not, really, it’s chapter 1 in the Art of the Deal (now available at Amazon at 90% off?!). Think of it as a first step towards something that will come no matter what you think. Or think about how both Trump and Ocasio not only dominate the game from the moment they start playing, they change the very rules of the game.

 

I haven’t read it, but I’m thinking the first principle of the Art of the Deal should be something like this:

You have to present your plans in a way that in and of itself will change the way those same plans are judged.

It’s easy to criticize Ocasio, and it may be justified too. But I don’t think we can gauge that yet, the Green New Deal doesn’t offer sufficient material for it. Still, I think she’s got that first principle down.

One last thing: Tulsi Gabbard is 37, young enough to matter and old enough to run (she is), and a staunch opponent of US regime change projects. Here’s hoping the two girls can find common ground. They would seem just about unbeatable together. And again, look at the alternative: Feinstein, Pelosi, and their appointed heiress, Kamala Harris.

 

“None of you understand. I’m not locked up in here with YOU. You’re locked up in here with ME.”

 

 

 

 

Dec 182018
 


Caravaggio St. John the Baptist in the wilderness 1604

 

S&P 500 Drops More Than 2% To New Low For 2018, Dow Dives 500 Points (CNBC)
The Latest Key Death Cross Is Poised To Engulf The Stock Market (MW)
Stock Market On Pace For Worst December Since Great Depression (CNBC)
How The Federal Reserve Could Spark A ‘Santa Claus’ Stock Rally (Yahoo!)
You Have A “Trading” Problem (Roberts)
China Politics Getting In The Way Of Reforms (G.)
China To Mark Economic Miracle That Pulled 700 Million People Out Of Poverty (RT)
Australia’s Central Bank Sees Risks From High Debt As House Prices Fall (R.)
‘No Existing Countermeasures’ To Russian Hypersonic Weapons – US Gov’t (RT)
The Bigotry Behind NY Times’ ‘Russians Targeted African-Americans’ (GJ)
Racist ‘Russians’ Targeted African-Americans In 2016 Election – Reports (RT)
Russia! The Gift That Keeps Giving For The BBC, Even In France (Bridge)
Fatal Over-Reach (Kunstler)
Coal Demand Will Remain Steady Through 2023 -IEA (CNBC)

 

 

Can’t wait for Christmas amd some days off. Close it down and it can’t fall further. Either that or give Jay Powell a call.

S&P 500 Drops More Than 2% To New Low For 2018, Dow Dives 500 Points (CNBC)

Stocks tanked on Monday, pushing the S&P 500 to a new low for the year amid growing concerns that the Federal Reserve’s plan to raise interest rates could be too much for the economy and stock market to handle. The S&P 500 fell as much as 2.5% to 2,530.54, surpassing its February intraday low of 2,532.69. The broad market index finished the session down 2% at 2,545.94, its lowest close for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 507.53 points to close at 23,592.98, bringing its two-day losses to more than 1,000 points. Shares of Amazon and Goldman Sachs led the declines.

The Dow and S&P 500, which are both in corrections, are on track for their worst December performance since the Great Depression in 1931, down more than 7% so far for the month. The S&P 500 is now in the red for 2018 by 4%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.2% to finish the day at 6,753.73 as Microsoft dropped 2.9%. The Russell 2000 — which tracks the performance of smaller companies — entered a bear market, down 20% from its 52-week high. DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeffrey Gundlach said Monday that he “absolutely” believes the S&P 500 will go below the lows that the index hit early in 2018. “I’m pretty sure this is a bear market,” Gundlach told Scott Wapner on CNBC’s “Halftime Report. The major averages fell to session lows following his comments.

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There are so many death croses lately, the term loses meaning.

The Latest Key Death Cross Is Poised To Engulf The Stock Market (MW)

Ominous-sounding death crosses have been emerging in the stock market like weeds, with the latest — and arguably, the last important such cross — about to take hold in the Dow. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is on the verge of joining other major equity benchmarks in a so-called death cross, where the 50-day — a short-term trend tracker — crosses below the 200-day, used to determine a long-term trend in an asset. Chart watchers believe that such a cross marks the point where a shorter-term decline graduates to a longer-term downtrend.

Currently, the Dow’s 50-day moving average stands at 25,173.14, compared against its 200-day average at 25,083.23, according to FactSet data, as of Friday’s close of trading. That puts the 50-day less than 90 points shy of breaching the long-term average, which could occur by the end of this week or next, based on the current pace of decline. The Dow has suffered a series of punishing drops on nagging fears of slowing global growth, unresolved trade worries and the pace of the Federal Reserve’s rate increases, with Monday’s action placing the Dow at its lowest close since March 23, 2018.

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Thank the Fed.

Stock Market On Pace For Worst December Since Great Depression (CNBC)

Two benchmark U.S. stock indexes are careening toward a historically bad December. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 are on pace for their worst December performance since 1931, when stocks were battered during the Great Depression. The Dow and S&P 500 are down 7.8% and 7.6% this month, respectively. December is typically a very positive month for markets. The Dow has only fallen during 25 Decembers going back to 1931. The S&P 500 averages a 1.6% gain for December, making it typically the best month for the market, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac. While the S&P 500 began dissemination in 1950, the performance data was backtested through 1928. It’s worth noting that historically, the second half of December tends to see gains.

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The Fed has absolute control. I don’t see nearly enough people being afraid of that.

How The Federal Reserve Could Spark A ‘Santa Claus’ Stock Rally (Yahoo!)

After a bruising few months for stocks, investors are banking on a ‘Santa Claus’ rally to close out 2018. Even with just a handful of trading sessions left in 2018, there is still one remaining catalyst that could spark a stock rally: the Federal Reserve. The market is pricing in a 78% chance the Fed announces a rate hike Wednesday, when it wraps up its two-day policy meeting, according to CME futures data. The rate hike itself wouldn’t spark the rally. In fact, rate hikes make stocks less attractive. But this rate hike is so priced in, that not going forward with it could signal that the Fed is worried about the economy. This would be the Fed’s fourth interest rate hike of 2018. It was in June that the Fed telegraphed this fourth rate hike.

Instead, the stock rally could be sparked by the Fed’s guidance about monetary policy in 2019. “For U.S. stocks to drift higher this week, the Fed will have to strike an easier tone about future rate hikes without signaling undue concerns about U.S. economic growth,” wrote Nick Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, in a note to clients Monday. But doing so may force them to downgrade U.S. economic growth forecasts for 2019, Colas said. “Changing course on rates without that air cover will make it look like the Fed is targeting asset price volatility (a.k.a. the “Fed Put”) or – worse – that the central bank is taking orders from the White House,” Colas noted, referring to President Trump’s months-long criticism — which occurred as recently as Monday — of the Fed’s monetary tightening.

[..] the Fed’s statement on Wednesday, roughly 200 words in length, will be scrutinized by investors. “The Fed could delete the words ‘gradual increases’ — meaning a hike every quarter is no longer a working assumption,” said Danielle DiMartino Booth, a former Fed advisor and CEO of Quill Intelligence. “That would take March off the table in theory and could spark a rally, even if based only on technicals, that could run into year-end.” The Fed has started to use the phrase “gradual increases” when referring to interest rate hikes in its statements starting in June. Prior to that, many of the statements included the phrase “gradual adjustments.” “Investors are hungry for even a morsel of dovishness, and what they do not say could be even more powerful than what they do say,” Booth noted.

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I don’t think the problem is where Lance sees it.

You Have A “Trading” Problem (Roberts)

As Sy Harding says in his excellent book “Riding The Bear:” “No such creature as a ‘buy and hold’ investor ever emerged from the other side of the subsequent bear market.” Statistics compiled by Ned Davis Research back up Harding’s assertion. Every time the market declines more than 10%, (and “real” bear markets don’t even officially begin until the decline is 20%), mutual funds experience net outflows of investor money. To wit: “Lipper also found the largest outflows on record from stocks ($46BN), the largest outflows since December 2015 from taxable bond ($13.4BN) and Investment Grade bond ($3.7BN) funds, and the 4th consecutive week of outflows from high yield bonds ($2.1BN), offset by a panic rush into cash as money market funds attracted over $81BN in inflows, the largest inflow on record.”

Most bear markets last for months (the norm), or even years (both the 1929 and 1966 bear markets), and one can see how the torture of losing money week after week, month after month, would wear down even the most determined “buy and hold” investor. But the average investor’s pain threshold is a lot lower than that. The research shows that it doesn’t matter if the bear market lasts less than 3 months (like the 1990 bear) or less than 3 days (like the 1987 bear). People will still sell out, usually at the very bottom, and almost always at a loss. So THAT is how it happens. And the only way to avoid it – is to avoid owning stocks during bear markets. If you try to ride them out, odds are you’ll fail. And if you believe that we are in a “New Era,” and that bear markets are a thing of the past, your next of kin will have our sympathies.

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Xi is not reforming, he’s trying to keep China above water.

China Politics Getting In The Way Of Reforms (G.)

Xi’s speech comes as the Chinese leadership is facing criticism over slowing growth and confrontation with the US. Observers hoped his speech would lay out new directions or reforms needed to help the Chinese economy, weighed down by debt and lagging consumption, and an overly dominant state sector. Instead, Xi stressed that the Party’s leadership and strategy up to now have been “absolutely correct.” He promised to support the state sector while continuing reforms in appropriate areas. His remarks lacked any detail about new policies and failed to inspire confidence in Asian markets. Hong Kong and Shanghai both dropped sharply during the speech. They are now off 1% for the day while losses have deepened to 1.8% in Tokyo and more than 1% in Sydney.

“President Xi was perhaps unsurprisingly long on rhetoric and short on details,” said Tom Rafferty, regional manager for China at the Economist Intelligence Unit. “There will be a sense of disappointment, among both local and international investors, that Xi did not give clearer signals about the direction of future economic reform at a time when the Chinese government’s commitment to market liberalisation is seen to have waned.” Critics say politics are getting in the way of needed reforms – a rare challenge to Xi, who has amassed power more quickly than any of his predecessors.

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Central question is how much of it was borrowed. How much is based on unproductive investments and sheer waste?

China To Mark Economic Miracle That Pulled 700 Million People Out Of Poverty (RT)

China has pledged more economic reforms to push growth higher and help offset any impact from the US trade conflict. It comes as the world’s second-largest economy marks the 40th anniversary of “reform and opening up” this week. Statistics show that more than 700 million Chinese people have shaken off poverty since Beijing started its program of economic reforms four decades ago. The figure accounts for over 70% of global poverty reduction during that period. The first wave of reform, which lasted from 1978 to 1989, was characterized by agricultural reform and revival of the private sector. The second wave of reform (from 1992 to 2012) resulted in the legalization of the market economy, China’s accession to the WTO, and a booming private sector.

China’s record in poverty reduction since reform and opening up is without parallel in human history, according to Wang Yiwei, professor of the School of International Studies at Renmin University. “Between 1978 and 2017, China’s economy expanded at an annual average 9.5% growth rate, increasing in size almost 35 times,” he told Xinhua News. The total expansion of China’s economy over a 39 year period was almost three times as much as Japan’s, Ross noted, adding that “No other economy commencing sustained rapid economic growth even remotely approaches the 22.3% of the world’s population as China had in 1978 at the beginning of reform and opening up.”

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Australia hasn’t gone down in 2 decades. That takes a lot of debt.

Australia’s Central Bank Sees Risks From High Debt As House Prices Fall (R.)

A combination of falling home prices, stratospheric household debt and low wage growth posed downside risks to the Australian economy, the country’s central bank warned on Tuesday, even as it predicted the next move in interest rates would likely be up. Minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) December policy meeting showed members spent a considerable time discussing the recent slowdown in global growth momentum, partly caused by a bitter tariff dispute between the United States and China. Australia is heavily leveraged to global trade with China its No.1 trading partner so any deceleration in momentum overseas will likely be negative for the A$1.8 trillion economy.

Indeed, Australia’s gross domestic product expanded at a weaker-than-expected 2.8% pace last quarter, when policy makers were hoping for “above-trend” 3%-plus growth. Dismal private consumption was a major factor hurting economic activity, even though there were some early signs of a small uptick in wages growth. “The outlook for household consumption continued to be a source of uncertainty because growth in household income remained low, debt levels were high and housing prices had declined. Members noted that this combination of factors posed downside risks,” the RBA said.

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The key to why Russia is seen as a problem. And that in turn leads to all the articles following this one.

‘No Existing Countermeasures’ To Russian Hypersonic Weapons – US Gov’t (RT)

The US is currently unable to repel an attack from the hypersonic weapons that are being developed by Russia and China, as they can pierce most missile defense systems, a recent US government report has revealed.
“China and Russia are pursuing hypersonic weapons because their speed, altitude, and maneuverability may defeat most missile defense systems, and they may be used to improve long-range conventional and nuclear strike capabilities,” the report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reads. The report also highlights the challenges to American security posed by Chinese and Russian anti-satellite weapons and stealth aircraft that “could fly faster, carry advanced weapons, and achieve further distances.”

The rapid development of the cutting-edge technology “could force US aircraft to operate at father distances and put more US targets at risk,” the report notes. Speaking at a Valdai Club session in October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia surpassed its rivals in terms of hypersonic weapons, calling Russia’s prevalence in the field “an obvious fact.” “Nobody has precise hypersonic weapons. Some plan to test theirs in 18 to 24 months. We have them in service already,” Putin said. In March Putin unveiled several advanced weapons systems, including the Avangard hypersonic glider warheads and the Kinzhal –or Dagger– hypersonic cruise missile. The Kinzhal can fly at Mach-10 speed and has a reported range of 2,000 km (1243 miles).

It was reported that Russia’s advanced Sukhoi Su-57 jet might soon be armed with a missile similar to the Kinzhal. While the Avangard is about to enter military service, the Kinzhal has already been deployed with the force. Faced with the unmatched hypersonic capabilities, the Pentagon has launched about a dozen programs to protect the US from hypersonic weapons. A project named ‘Glide Breaker’ to develop an interceptor capable of neutralizing incoming hypersonic gliders has been in the works with The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

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If you were African-American and you’re told all the time that you would have voted Hillary if not for the Russians co-opting you with $5,000 in ads, you would get mad too.

The Bigotry Behind NY Times’ ‘Russians Targeted African-Americans’ (GJ)

This morning, the New York Times decided to stop insulting our intelligence and instead chose to insult decency. In an article written by Scott Shane and Sheera Frenkel, Russians allegedly unleashed an intricate plot to targeted African-Americans in order to foment discontent and dupe “black people” to vote against their self-interest. According to the corporate recorders at the NY Times, the reason that African-Americans did not uniformly vote for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats is because they were too dimwitted to think for themselves and were subsequently manipulated by foreign agents. [..] Let me dispel some myths here about people who refused to vote for Hillary since I happen to be one of them.

I chose to withhold my support not because Russians conditioned me to think that way but because I refused to support a warmongering sociopath otherwise known as John McCain in pantsuits. I’ve followed Hillary’s career long enough to know that she is a corporate courtesan who can’t get enough of destabilizing nations and enriching herself by trading access for cash. Eight years of Obama catering to Wall Street and furthering George Bush’s war first policies was enough for me to tap out. [..] In other words, just because my skin color is “black” does not mean I owe my vote and loyalty to Democrats. True enough, there was a time where I was an unflinching supporter of team blue, but after seeing how Democrats are no different than Republicans, I chose to wake up.

[..] The level of duplicity on display by establishment voices is truly astounding. If leading Democrats and media personalities want to know who is responsible for the rise of Trump, they should look in the mirror. After all, it was Hillary Clinton’s “pied piper” strategy—heeded by her sycophants in the press—that elevated a reality show clown into a serious contender. Hillary Clinton and her cronies rigged the primaries, spent more than $1.2 billion and Trump was given more than a billion dollars in free media by CNN, MSNBC and their ilk, yet we are supposed to believe that $5,000 in Google ads and $50,000 on Facebook was enough to tilt the outcome of the 2016 elections.

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Who exactly here operates a troll factory?

Racist ‘Russians’ Targeted African-Americans In 2016 Election – Reports (RT)

Low voter turnout among African-Americans is usually blamed on purged voter rolls or decades of socioeconomic stasis – but in 2016, ‘evil’ Russia was the main culprit, according to two controversial reports for the US Senate. Though described as “Senate reports” by mainstream US media outlets, the two documents were actually compiled by third parties. The first was produced by a consultancy called New Knowledge, with the help of two other researchers, while the second was done by a group at Oxford University and the UK research firm Graphika. By the social media giants’ own admission, the criteria for labeling posts as “Russian” is so broad as to be practically meaningless.

That hasn’t stopped the authors of the two reports, though, who saw President Vladimir Putin’s fingerprints on every keyboard and under every bed. In particular, they argued, the “Russians” sought to depress the 2016 turnout by targeting Black Americans. Both groups relied on posts provided to the US government by Twitter, Facebook and Google and identified as coming from the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), also known as the “troll factory.” “These campaigns pushed a message that the best way to advance the cause of the African-American community was to boycott the election and focus on other issues instead,” said the Oxford report.

“The most prolific IRA efforts on Facebook and Instagram specifically targeted black American communities and appear to have been focused on developing black audiences and recruiting black Americans as assets,” says the New Knowledge report. While some African-American activists saw the reports as recognition of their community’s influence in US politics, others pointed out that blaming the “Russians” downplayed very real and long-standing racism in American society.

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African-Americans have no opinions of their own, and neither do Yellow Vests. They’re all like Putin’s zombie armies. Next up is Orban blaming Putin for Hungary’s protests.

Russia! The Gift That Keeps Giving For The BBC, Even In France (Bridge)

Given the rash of conspiracy theories leveled against Russia of late, it is no surprise that the BBC is deep-sea fishing for a Kremlin angle to explain the protests against the government of French President Emmanuel Macron. This new and improved beast of burden to explain every uprising, lost election, accident and wart, popularly known as ‘Russia’ – a strategy rebuked by none other than President Putin as “the new anti-Semitism” – provides craven political leaders with a ready-made alibi when the proverbial poo hits the fan. Yes! It can even rescue Emmanuel Macron, who just experienced his fifth consecutive weekend of protests in the French capital and beyond.

Here is the real beauty of this new media product, which promises to outsell Chanel No.5 this holiday season. Reporting on ‘Russia’ does not require any modicum of journalistic ethics, standards or even proof to peddle it like snake oil to an unsuspecting public. Simply uttering the name ‘Russia’ is usually all it takes for the fairytale to grow wings, spreading its destructive lies around the world. ‘Russia’ is truly the gift that keeps on giving! Allow me to demonstrate how easy it is to apply. Just this weekend, BBC journalist Olga Ivshina was engaged in correspondence with a stringer in France. In an effort to explain what has sparked the French protests, Ivshina gratuitously tossed out some live ‘blame Russia’ bait.

“And maybe some Russian business is making big bucks on it,” the BBC journalist solicited in an effort to conjure up fake news out of thin air. “Maybe they are eating cutlets out there en masse, for example. Or maybe the far-right are the main troublemakers?” When the question only managed to elicit an uncomfortable laugh from the stringer, the nonplussed BBC journalist exposed more trade secrets than was probably advisable. In fact, what followed seems to have been the only nugget of truth to emerge from the discussion. Ivshina confided that she was “looking for various angles” since the broadcaster, like a modern day Dracula flick, was “out for blood.”

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The next scheduled chapter in the story is Gen. Flynn’s sentencing this Tuesday. It would be a surprise if the Judge does not observe that Mr. Mueller has acted in contempt of court. Ditto if the charge against Gen. Flynn is not thrown out.

Fatal Over-Reach (Kunstler)

Last Friday morning, we adjourned the blog in anticipation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller handing over certain FBI documents in the General Flynn matter demanded by DC District Federal Judge Emmett G. Sullivan no later than 3:00 p.m. that day. Guess what. Mr. Mueller’s errand boys did not hand over the required documents — original FBI 302 interrogation reports. Instead, they proffered a half-assed “interview” with one of the two agents who conducted the Flynn interrogation, Peter Strzok, attempting to recollect the 302 half a year after it was written. Of course, Mr. Strzok was notoriously fired from the Bureau in August for bouts of wild political fury on-the-job as FBI counter-intel chief during and after the 2016 election. (This was the second time he was fired; the first was when Robert Mueller discarded him from the SC team in 2017 as a legal liability.)

So, 3:00 p.m. Friday has come and gone. It appears that the FBI 302 docs have come and gone, too. Actually, we have reason to believe that nothing ever created on a computer connected to the internet can actually disappear entirely. Rather, the data gets sucked into the bottomless well of the NSA server-farm out in Utah. Most likely, the original 302s exist and Mr. Mueller is pretending he can’t find them. In effect, it appears that Mr. Mueller has responded by gently whispering “fuck you” to Judge Sullivan.

Interestingly, The New York Times didn’t even report the story (nor The WashPo, nor CNN, nor MSNBC). Since their “Russia Collusion” narrative is foundering, they can’t tolerate any suggestion that their Avenging Angel of Impeachment, Mr. Mueller, is less than the sanctified plain dealer he affects to be. Judge Sullivan kept his own counsel all weekend. The next scheduled chapter in the story is Gen. Flynn’s sentencing this Tuesday. It would be a surprise if the Judge does not observe that Mr. Mueller has acted in contempt of court. Ditto if the charge against Gen. Flynn is not thrown out. After all, the main articles of evidence against him apparently don’t exist.

And if it turns out that Mr. Mueller and his team are disgraced by their apparent bad faith behavior in the Flynn case, what then of all the other cases connected to Mueller one way or another: Manafort, Cohen, Papadopoulos? And the other matters still in question, such as the Trump Tower meeting with the Russian “Magnitsky” lawyer and Golden Golem Junior, the porn star payoffs… really everything he has touched. What if it all falls apart?

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This is it. Given recent claims that emissions must be cut five times more than is now recognized, and there are just 2 years left to do anything meaningful concerning climate change, this is it.

Coal Demand Will Remain Steady Through 2023 -IEA (CNBC)

Coal consumption is expanding after two years of decline, but miners should brace for another period of sluggish growth, according to the International Energy Agency. In its latest annual report, the IEA forecasts global coal demand will remain essentially stable over the next five years, inching up by just over 1% between 2017 and 2023. The reason for coal’s stagnation remains unchanged from recent years: Developed nations are ditching the fossil fuel, while India and other emerging economies are turning to coal to quickly scale up electric power generation.

“In a growing number of countries, the elimination of coal-fired generation is a key climate policy goal. In others, coal remains the preferred source of electricity and is seen as abundant and affordable,” said the IEA, a Paris-based agency that advises developed nations on energy policy. The IEA’s forecast comes on the heels of a series of reports that the world is falling short of commitments to prevent catastrophic impacts from climate change and running out of time to take action. Burning coal for electric power and industrial purposes such as steelmaking is a major contributor to global warming.

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Oct 252018
 
 October 25, 2018  Posted by at 9:22 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Circus 1918

 

Donald Trump Attacks Media ‘Hostility’ After Attempted Pipe Bombings (G.)
CNN President Jeff Zucker Blasts Trump White House After Bomb Threat (THR)
Dow Falls 600 Points And Wipes Out 2018 Gains (MW)
Asia Pacific Shares In Freefall Amid Fears Over Global Economy (G.)
Value of Euro Zone Banks Drops by a Third From 2018 Peak (R.)
Spain’s Mortgage Market Seizes Up, Bank Stocks Sink, Legal Uncertainty Reigns
It’s Not Just Italy – France’s 2019 Budget Also A Concern For Brussels (CNBC)
Tesla Shares Soar On Surprise Third-Quarter Profit (CNBC)
Airbnb Can’t Go On Unregulated – It Does Too Much Damage To Cities (G.)
Brexit Deal ‘Progress Is At 0%’ Until Irish Border Solved – Verhofstadt (Ind.)
May Sets November Date To Trigger No-Deal Brexit Preparations (G.)
Disadvantaged Groups Trapped In Poverty And Excluded From UK Society (Ind.)
Ban Entire Pesticide Class To Protect Children’s Health – Experts (G.)
European Parliament Votes To Ban Single-Use Plastics (Ind.)
Humpback Whales Stop Singing When Ships Are Near (AFP)

 

 

Another crazy story. less than 2 weeks before the midterms some loonie allegedly sent crude explosive devices to Democrats and CNN. Obviously, doesn’t appear to help Trump. Who they all fall over each other to blame, absolving themselves from all responsibility in the process. Some details:

Bombs had ISIS-like logo’s on them
At least some contained shards of glass
They were sent to people who don’t open their own mail
None of the bombs went off
Powder in package to CNN was harmless

Seen a lot more like that on Twitter, many people saying the ‘bombs’ are a joke.

Donald Trump Attacks Media ‘Hostility’ After Attempted Pipe Bombings (G.)

Donald Trump has attacked what he called media “hostility” in a speech to a campaign rally following a wave of pipe bombs sent to senior Democrats, prominent critics and the broadcaster CNN. The US president, who earlier said at the White House he condemned the attempted bombings and that a “major federal investigation” was under way, followed this with a plea for unity during a midterms campaign rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin, later on Wednesday. “Any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy itself,” he told the crowd. “We want all sides to come together in peace and harmony. We can do it … Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as morally defective.” But he soon reverted to a familiar scapegoat. The media, he said, has “a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories”.

[..] Trump, who still assails Clinton at rallies while supporters chant “lock her up” two years after he defeated her, took a softer tone in Wisconsin. “Let’s get along,” he told supporters. “By the way, do you see how nice I’m behaving tonight? Have you ever seen this? We’re all behaving very well and hopefully we can keep it that way, right?” He did not mention the intended recipients of the devices by name but spoke more generally, including in language which could be taken to refer to protests against himself and allies. “No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historical villains, which is done often, it’s done all the time, got to stop. We should not mob people in public places or destroy public property. There is one way to settle our disagreements. It’s called peacefully, at the ballot box.”

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Zucker doesn’t take any responsibility for the political climate. Nor do any of the others. 24/7 blasting Trump for two years has had no influence, apparently. Someone should make a database with all Trump articles at MSM that contain positive things about Trump vs those that are negative.

CNN President Jeff Zucker Blasts Trump White House After Bomb Threat (THR)

CNN president Jeff Zucker, who has long sparred with President Donald Trump throughout their decades of knowing each other, lashed out at him in a statement on Wednesday, hours after his network’s New York office was forced to evacuate due to a bomb threat. “There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media,” Zucker said. “The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”

The president has been criticized for his slow response to the bomb threat on Wednesday, initially responding only by echoing Vice President Mike Pence’s tweet condemning it. On Wednesday afternoon, Trump spoke directly at a White House event, pledging to take action. “The full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct this investigation and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice,” he said. “We will spare no resources or expense in this effort. In these times, we have to unify. We have to come together, and send one clear, strong unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.”

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All over the world.

Dow Falls 600 Points And Wipes Out 2018 Gains (MW)

Stocks ended sharply lower Wednesday, as losses accelerated into the close and put both the Dow and the S&P 500 into the red for the year, and the Nasdaq into correction territory. Upbeat results from Boeing were credited with briefly pushing the Dow higher in early morning trading, before investors took an increasingly defensive stance, fleeing for the relative safety of utilities and consumer nondurable shares. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 606.11 points, or 2.4%, to 24,583.42, while The S&P 500 dropped 84.59 points, or 3.1%, to 2,656.10, it’s sixth straight losing session.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq shed 329.14 points, or 4.4%, to 7108.4, a performance that put the index more than 10% below its Aug. 29 all-time high, meeting the widely used definition of a market correction. The loss also marked the worst day for the Nasdaq since Aug. 18, 2011. October is shaping up to be a brutal month for equities, as expected, with the S&P falling 8.9% month-to-date, the Dow down 7.1%, and the Nasdaq falling 11.7% since the start of the month. Wednesday’s session also sent the Dow into losing territory for the year, with the index down 0.6% in 2018. The blue-chip index is also down for five straight weeks, it’s longest string of weekly losses since July, 11 2008, when the market fell for six straight weeks. The S&P 500 also ended the trading day in the red, down 0.7% year-to-date.

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Broad pessimism.

Asia Pacific Shares In Freefall Amid Fears Over Global Economy (G.)

Shares in Asia Pacific have plunged into bear market territory and wiped billions off the values of companies as one analyst warned that the losses could be a harbinger of a wholesale “capitulation”. After the worst day for tech stocks on Wall Street for seven years, markets were in retreat from Sydney to Shanghai as concerns about the global economy and rising borrowing costs were compounded by local factors. In Australia the benchmark ASX200 closed down 164 points or 2.8% as it suffered its fifth straight day of losses. In Japan the Nikkei was off 3.2% and has now dropped around 13% from a 27-year peak of 24,448.07 touched in early October.

A broad indicator of shares in the region – the MSCI Asia Pacific index – has now fallen 20.3% from the year-to-date high set on 29 January, representing an official bear market. The Vix “fear” index, which measures volatility across the market, has spiked sharply this week and was up 21% overnight. “We haven’t thought that selling would be this steep. This sell-off makes us think the market may be set for capitulation,” said Shoji Hirakawa, chief global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center. The contagion looked set to continue into the European trading session with the FTSE100 expected to fall 0.65% at the open.

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Italians, Deutsche. Draghi doing a speech soon.

Value of Euro Zone Banks Drops by a Third From 2018 Peak (R.)

The value of euro zone banks have collapsed by a third since markets touched their peak at the end of January, data showed on Wednesday, as another quarter of disappointing profits at Deutsche Bank dragged the region’s sector down. European banks shares, which have never reclaimed their pre-financial crisis prices, have been the worst performing sector so far in the monetary block this year, down 26.5 percent as investors shed assets seen as most vulnerable to political upheaval. “The fall is not justified by a similar drop in earnings,” commented Farhad Moshiri, an analyst covering European banks at Alphavalue, arguing that political risk had a stronger negative impact than sector results.

Still, Deutsche’s bleak results and revenue forecast on Wednesday, which sent shares down 5 percent for their worst day since end-May, deepened the sector-wide rout. The Spring political crisis in Italy and the following on-going row with the European Commission about the country’s populist government’s budget took a heavy toll, particularly on Italian banks. The latters are heavily exposed to Italian sovereign debt, which has shed value since the country decided to raise spending and put an end to years of fiscal prudence. Slowing economic growth on the continent and elusive monetary normalization, with a first interest rate hike by the European Central Bank (ECB) still far away, also weighed on stock prices.

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A legal issue about taxes on mortgages only makes things worse.

Spain’s Mortgage Market Seizes Up, Bank Stocks Sink, Legal Uncertainty Reigns

In the last five trading days, the shares of Spain’s five largest listed banks have re-energized their plunge that had started at the end of January and now amounts to 40%. The cause for the recent drop? A shock ruling by Spain’s Supreme Court that lenders, rather than mortgage borrowers, should pay the contractual tax on mortgage loans, on the grounds that the lender is the only party with an interest in getting the loan certified by a notary, since this is what enables the bank to begin foreclosure proceedings if the borrower defaults on payments. Even the Supreme Court’s desperate decision last Friday to suspend its own ruling a day after it had announced the ruling, a historic flip-flop that left everything in limbo and its reputation in tatters, failed to stop the rout (data via YCharts):

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it won’t decide who has to pay the tax on mortgages — the banks or the borrowers — until November 5. In other words, there will be two more weeks of acute legal uncertainty. This has plunged Spain’s mortgage market into chaos. For years Spanish banks and builders have been desperately trying to breath new life into the market — including, in some cases, by resurrecting 100% mortgages, a high-risk instrument that helped fuel Spain’s madcap property boom. But now, thanks to the pervading legal uncertainty, the market has all but seized up. On Tuesday, sources from a number of large banks told the financial daily Cinco Dias that the only mortgages being signed are with clients who had already arranged to sign the contract before last week’s furor and who don’t mind paying the mortgage tax. “We’re not signing any new ones,” the sources said.

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Italy must insist France gets the same treatment.

It’s Not Just Italy – France’s 2019 Budget Also A Concern For Brussels (CNBC)

Markets have been on the edge regarding Italy’s future spending, but there are other countries challenging European fiscal rules. France, the second-largest economy in Europe, received a letter from Brussels last week, warning that its planned debt reduction in 2019 does not respect the proposals that Paris had agreed previously with the EU. Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Slovenia were also effectively told off by the EU. In the case of France, the 2019 budget plan sees its structural deficit (the difference between spending and revenues, excluding one-off items) falling 0.1 percent this year and 0.3 percent in 2019. Paris had agreed in April to an annual reduction of 0.6 percent of GDP for its structural deficit.

Though the tone of the warning from Brussels to Paris was softer than the tone towards Rome, the two countries have perhaps more similarities than differences. The French 2019 budget “shows that the government relies heavily on very optimistic revenues to achieve fiscal consolidation and that spending is out of control again,” Daniel Lacalle, chief economist and investment officer at Tressis Gestion, told CNBC via email. “In the case of France, it is a very difficult budget to accept by the European Commission because France has not had a balanced budget since 1974 and has missed its own deficit targets more than eleven times,” Lacalle added.

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A curious turnaround. To be continued.

Tesla Shares Soar On Surprise Third-Quarter Profit (CNBC)

Tesla shares soared by more than 12 percent after the company reported a surprise profit for the third quarter as CEO Elon Musk made good on his promise to start turning regular profits in the last half of the year. The company’s earnings report, released after the markets closed Wednesday, also showed better-than expected car sales and a faster timeline on its Model 3 production. The electric car maker said its midsize Model 3 sedan, which it hopes to produce on mass scale, was the best-selling car in the U.S. when measured by revenue and the fifth best-selling car in terms of volume. Musk told analysts on a call it was an “incredibly historic quarter” for the young car company. It was welcome news for investors following an otherwise a tumultuous few months.

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It does. Somone better get serious about this.

Airbnb Can’t Go On Unregulated – It Does Too Much Damage To Cities (G.)

Remember the “sharing economy”? That rhetoric looks more comically disingenuous than ever in light of the news that a single Airbnb user in Barcelona is managing a portfolio of properties that brings in an eye-watering £33,000 a day in high season. Old neighbourhoods are being overrun with short-term tourists and shops selling souvenir tat. Rents for residents are being driven up, in Barcelona as well as Berlin, New York and elsewhere. Airbnb is a parasitic monster that squats over cities and hoovers up vast sums of money through its slimy proboscis. So what can be done?

Airbnb, short for “airbed and breakfast”, originally sold itself as a way for travellers to stay in people’s spare rooms and get an authentic feel of a foreign culture. This friendly idea is still present in the company’s vocabulary – “hosts”, not landlords, and “hospitality” in place of “business” – even though the vast majority of its listings are now for self-contained apartments or houses. In Barcelona, it used to cost €250 (£221) for a short-term rental permit. Now that such permits are no longer being issued, they change hands for up to €80,000. It’s “sharing” for the rich, maybe, but not for the rest of us.

During their early rapid growth, sharing economy companies started operations around the world without regard to local laws on the basis that existing regulations had not envisaged the radical and disruptive new ideas they embodied. But the tide slowly turned as the whizzy tech rhetoric wore off and it became clear that Uber was in fact a taxi company and Airbnb was in effect a hotel business.

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Don’t like Verhofstadt, but it’s time for honesty.

Brexit Deal ‘Progress Is At 0%’ Until Irish Border Solved – Verhofstadt (Ind.)

The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator has rejected Theresa May’s suggestion that a deal is “95 per cent done”, as Brussels warned it will not be bounced into an agreement. Guy Verhofstadt said the withdrawal agreement needed to prevent no deal was “0 per cent done” as far as MEPs were concerned, because of the lack of a solution to the Irish border issue. “Progress on the Brexit negotiations can be 90 per cent, 95 per cent or even 99 per cent,” Mr Verhofstadt said. “But as long as there is no solution for the Irish border, as long as the Good Friday agreement is not fully secured, for us in our parliament progress is 0 per cent.”

The European Parliament has a veto on the final Brexit deal and has said it would kill any agreement that does not prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Speaking in a debate at the parliament’s Strasbourg seat on Wednesday morning, the second in command of the European Commission Frans Timmermans also warned that the block would not “rush a deal through at the expense of our principles”. “As was clear after the European Council the bottom line is that we do not have the decisive progress that we need,” Jean-Claude Juncker’s deputy said. “The good will and the determination to find a deal as soon as possible are there. But it is also clear that we will not rush a deal through at the expense of our principles or our agreed commitments, most notably on the Irish border question.

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Watch the pound when she makes it official.

May Sets November Date To Trigger No-Deal Brexit Preparations (G.)

Theresa May has set a date for Whitehall to trigger a series of no-deal Brexit preparations as her government faces up to the possibility that there will be no agreement with the EU about Britain’s departure. With less than six months to go before the UK leaves the bloc, the cabinet has agreed that a flurry of activity will be triggered in the second week of November as the government prepares to crash out of the EU, informed sources said. Civil servants have also accelerated plans to lay down new laws and secondary legislation so that UK businesses and both British and EU citizens can prepare. The move follows concerns across government that preparations for how the UK might cope with crashing out the EU are still uncertain.

The Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, told cabinet colleagues on Tuesday that Whitehall departments needed to step up their efforts next month and move “from warning businesses to telling them to act”. Whitehall has until now concentrated on the publication of more than 100 technical notices detailing the potential impact on particular industries but not on individual businesses and people. A source said that there would be an acceleration of preparations after MPs return from a short break on 12 November. “We have to get on with no-deal legislation. At the moment, we’re looking at the same legislation for a deal as no deal. In the case of no deal it would need royal assent before we leave. “There will be an awful lot to discuss. It will concentrate minds. Obviously we don’t want to upset the negotiations, but the clock is ticking and it will get harder and harder the later we leave it,” the source said.

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This is Theresa May’s country, her accomplishment.

Disadvantaged Groups Trapped In Poverty And Excluded From UK Society (Ind.)

Britain is a divided nation as the poor are increasingly trapped in poverty and excluded from mainstream society because of their social status, the human rights watchdog has warned. A major report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found a continued decline in prospects for disadvantaged groups has cemented a “two-speed society” in the UK which leaves many behind. The watchdog found that in just three years “alarming backward steps” have left disabled people, ethnic minorities and children from poorer backgrounds struggling to make headway in a society where “significant barriers still remain”.

Charities accused Theresa May of breaking the promise she made in her first speech as prime minister to tackle “burning injustices” in British society. It comes just days before Philip Hammond, the chancellor, is to set out a budget with critics waiting for spending commitments that will deliver on the prime minister’s conference promise that austerity is finally coming to an end. In a speech on Thursday, shadow chancellor John McDonnell will say that schools, councils and the UK’s social care system are “crying out for investment” and called on the government to “stump up the cash”. David Isaac, chair of the EHRC, said Britain was facing a “defining moment in the pursuit of equality”.

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Stop using pesticides altogether.

Ban Entire Pesticide Class To Protect Children’s Health – Experts (G.)

Evidence that an entire class of pesticides threatens the health of children and pregnant women is now so arresting that the substances should be banned, an expert panel of toxicologists has said. Exposure to organophosphates (OPs) increases the risk of reduced IQs, memory and attention deficits, and autism for prenatal children, according to the paper, published in Plos Medicine. More than 10,000 tonnes of OP pesticides are sprayed in 24 European countries each year and usage is higher in the US, where the Trump administration is appealing against a federal court ban on chlorpyrifos, one of the most popular agricultural insecticides.

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, the paper’s lead author and director of the UC Davis environmental health sciences centre, said: “We have compelling evidence from dozens of human studies that exposures of pregnant women to very low levels of organophosphate pesticides put children and foetuses at risk for developmental problems that may last a lifetime. By law, the EPA cannot ignore such clear findings: It’s time for a ban not just on chlorpyrifos, but all organophosphate pesticides.” The meta-review of data and literature on OPs analysed and cross-referenced scores of reviews and epidemiological studies with a UN database that covers 71 countries, and other research material.

In the process, the scientists discovered that US regulators had already quietly banned 26 out of 40 OP pesticides considered hazardous to human health. In Europe, the figure was 33 out of 39. However, 200,000 people still die each year from pesticide poisonings, according to UN estimates, about 99% of them in the developing world. A further 110,000 suicides using pesticides take place each year.

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Not bad, but too late.

European Parliament Votes To Ban Single-Use Plastics (Ind.)

Fragments of plastic have been found everywhere from Arctic sea ice to fertilisers being applied to farmland. Animals as small as plankton and as large as whales are known to eat plastic, and as tiny shards enter the human food chain they seem to be ending up inside humans as well. While much still remains unknown about the impact plastic is having on the environment and human health, environmentalists have called for urgent measures from industry and governments to curb the flow of plastic. “We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics. It is up to us now to stay the course in the upcoming negotiations with the council, due to start as early as November,” said Belgian liberal Frederique Ries, who was responsible for the bill.

Under the new rules, member states would have to ensure that tobacco companies cover the cost of cigarette butt collection and processing in a bid to reduce the number entering the environment by 80 per cent in the next 12 years. Similar measures would apply to producers of fishing gear, who would have to help ensure at least 50 per cent of lost or abandoned fishing gear containing plastic is collected per year. Fishing gear accounts for over a quarter of waste found on Europe’s beaches, and “ghost fishing” is thought to be responsible for thousands of whales, seals and birds dying every year. EU states would also be obliged to recycle 90 per cent of plastic bottles by 2025, and producers would have to help cover costs of waste management.

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But they don’t mean sailing ships.

Humpback Whales Stop Singing When Ships Are Near (AFP)

Humpback whales are famous for their eerie, underwater songs. But researchers in Japan said Wednesday these massive marine creatures stop singing, at least temporarily, when human-driven ships are nearby. Researchers focused on the remote Ogasawara Islands in Japan, some 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) south of Tokyo, where a single passenger-cargo liner passed through the area once per day. Male humpback whales sing as a way to communicate and attract mates. But by plunging a pair of hydrophones into the water to listen to the whales’ reaction — about 26 of whom were detected in the study area — researchers found that the approach of a ship silenced them.

“The main reaction of humpback whales was to stop singing either when the ship approached or after it passed by,” said the study in the journal PLOS ONE, led by Koki Tsujii from Ogasawara Whale Watching Association and Hokkaido University. Fewer male humpbacks sang in the area within 500 yards (meters) of the shipping lane than elsewhere. “After the ship passed by, whales within around 1,200 meters tended to temporarily reduce singing or stop singing altogether,” said the study. Many whales did not start to sing again until a half hour after the ship was gone from the area. Since ocean noise has been on the rise in recent decades, some experts said the findings raise new questions about what other whale behaviors might be changing due to mounting human presence on the high seas.

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