Claude Monet The Wooden Bridge 1872
What do you think about the post office narrative? Which side is trying to use it to influence the election?
How about the CNN poll that says all of a sudden Trump has closed the double digit gap to Biden? Is that the Kamala effect, or did CNN wake up to the realization that those huge gaps make people less likely to vote?
How about CNN’s -implied- claim that Biden voters are mpre enthusiastic than Trump voters? Does that ring true?
Can we move new global cases under 200,000? US new cases at the lowest since June 23. US deaths at “just” 522, but that complies with a weekend pattern.
Can anyone at all explain why these tests are not used all over the world? There are many rapid tests with comparable success rates. What are we waiting for? Does anyone understand why these tests are much more useful than the standard CPR ones? This is presented as a breakthrough, but it isn’t, really.
An initial clinical trial of a coronavirus-testing technology that is believed to detect viruses in a fluid sample in less than a second has achieved a 95% success rate, according to data released last week from the trial performed at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. The test was designed by Newsight Imaging, a Ness Ziona-based start-up firm, and centers on a device that is about the size of a computer mouse, which can identify and classify evidence of a virus in the body in less than a second, using a sample of fluid – blood serum or saliva – inserted into a disposable test cuvette. In spectroscopy, a sample is tested with a broadband light source, Newsight CEO Eli Assoolin told The Jerusalem Post last month when it first received Sheba Medical Center’s IRB Ethics (“Helsinki”) Committee approval to conduct a pilot program for rapid COVID-19 detection tests.
The light that returns from the sample is analyzed to determine its wavelength content. “We collect the spectral signature after the light is absorbed in the sample, and then we can analyze the content of it,” he said, noting that spectral-analysis technology has already been used to identify certain human diseases and abnormalities. “Basically, on one side, you have the source of light, and on the other side, you have the sensor chip – a sensitive and fast camera that can see different wavelengths. In the middle, you put the sample,” Assoolin said. Prof. Eli Schwartz of the Center for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba said that under laboratory conditions, the research team was clearly able to differentiate between COVID-19 samples that were positive and those that were negative, with a 95% accuracy rate. “For a new AI-based technology such as this, the results are quite encouraging,” Schwartz said.
As the virtual Dem convention starts, CNN is in a bit of a bind. They’ve been reporting on various polls that all show Biden leading Trump by double-digit margins, but even their viewers haven’t forgotten how they predicted Hillary had a 95% chance of winning in 2016. And of course the problem with those wide margins is they make people wonder why they should vote, if the outcome is so clear.
So now there’s a poll that shows Trump is fast catching up (the Kamala effect?) , but not without adding the rather curious notion that “Among the 72% of voters who say they are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall, Biden’s advantage over Trump widens to 53% to 46%.”
Is there anyone who believes that Biden voters are more enthusiastic than Trump voters? Doesn’t that contradict everything we’ve seen?
Joe Biden’s lead over Donald Trump among registered voters has significantly narrowed since June, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, even as the former vice president maintains an advantage over the President on several top issues and his choice of California Sen. Kamala Harris as a running mate earns largely positive reviews. And on the eve of the party conventions, a majority of voters (53%) are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in this year’s election, a new high in CNN polling in presidential election cycles back to 2003. Overall, 50% of registered voters back the Biden-Harris ticket, while 46% say they support Trump and Pence, right at the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Among the 72% of voters who say they are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall, Biden’s advantage over Trump widens to 53% to 46%. It is narrower, however, among those voters who live in the states that will have the most impact on the electoral college this fall. Across 15 battleground states, the survey finds Biden has the backing of 49% of registered voters, while Trump lands at 48%. The pool of battleground states in this poll includes more that Trump carried in 2016 (10) than were won by Hillary Clinton (5), reflecting the reality that the President’s campaign is more on defense than offense across the states. Taken together, though, they represent a more Republican-leaning playing field than the nation as a whole.
The movement in the poll among voters nationwide since June is concentrated among men (they split about evenly in June, but now 56% back Trump, 40% Biden), those between the ages of 35 and 64 (they tilt toward Trump now, but were Biden-leaning in June) and independents (in June, Biden held a 52% to 41% lead, but now it’s a near even 46% Biden to 45% Trump divide). Trump has also solidified his partisans since June. While 8% of Republicans or Republican-leaning independents in June said they would back Biden, that figure now stands at just 4%. And the President has boosted his backing among conservatives from 76% to 85%.
Weissmann likely doesn’t know what Clinesmith agreed to tell Durham in his guilty plea.
Weissmann’s your typical dirty cop/dirty lawyer. Rumor has it he was in charge of the Mueller probe, not Mueller himself. And yes, he has strong links to the Dems and Hillary.
I recently wrote a column discussing how Democratic leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden, have argued against continuing the investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham despite growing evidence of misconduct by Justice Department officials and now the first guilty plea by former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith. Now, Andrew Weissmann, one of the top prosecutors with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, has derided the Clinesmith plea while actually calling on Justice Department attorneys to refuse to help on ongoing investigations that could implicate aspects of his own prior work. I was among those who expressed concern when Mueller selected Weissmann due to his history of controversial prosecutorial decisions, including a pattern of prosecutorial overreach in the Enron litigation.
Weissmann’s recent statements (made before the release of his new book on the Russian investigation) have only served to reaffirm those concerns. Recently, Weissmann wrote an extraordinary and disturbing New York Times op-ed (with former Defense Department special counsel Ryan Goodman). In the column, he appeared to call on Justice Department lawyers to undermine the Durham investigation as well as the investigation by U.S. Attorney John Bash’s investigation into the “unmasking” requests by Obama administration officials. They wrote “Justice Department employees in meeting their ethical and legal obligations, should be well advised not to participate in any such effort.”
Consider that line for a moment. Weissmann is openly calling on attorneys to refuse to help on investigations that could raise questions about his own decisions. Durham is looking at a pattern of errors, false statements, bias, and now criminal conduct in the Russian investigation. There is obviously overlap with the Mueller investigation which discussed many of the same underlying documents and relied on work by some of the same individuals. The failure to address misconduct, bias, or criminal conduct by such individuals would be embarrassing to both Weissmann and Mueller. Despite that obvious conflict of interest, Weissmann is calling on attorneys to stand down. It is the same troubling position that was once taken by Sally Yates, who told an entire federal agency not to assist the President in his travel ban.
[..] I believe that the public needs to have a full and transparent account of what happened in the Russian investigation on both sides. Like many, Weissmann would like transparency on only one side and to shutdown the Durham investigation despite Horowitz referring matters for criminal investigation and finding a host of false statements, errs, and professional misconduct. Even the addition of a criminal plea has not stopped Weissmann from denouncing this investigation. For years, I have criticized Weissmann’s record of dubious prosecutorial judgment, bias, and overreach. However, that case against Weissmann is not nearly as powerful as the case he is making against himself.
What a crazy story.
That dastardly Donald Trump is at it again. He is either the evilest man ever to hold the office of president or the dumbest. He is either a Machiavellian genius manipulating the media and his hypnotized followers or a bumbling know-nothing idiot. Trump is being accused of sabotaging the November elections because he won’t give the postal unions and incompetent managers in the postal service $25 billion to play with. The money will stave off catastrophe for about a year at the rate the USPS is burning through cash. Without that money, we’re informed by those in the know, thousands — no, tens of thousands — no, millions of voters who wait until the last minute to mail in an absentee ballot might not have their votes counted because, well, Trump.
The procrastinators in America are up in arms and plan a demonstration to show their outrage. But it probably won’t happen until after the election since that’s when they’ll eventually get around to it. The “crisis” in postal delivery presupposes that, prior to Trump’s shenanigans, the USPS was doing fine — nothing that a few tens of billions of taxpayer dollars couldn’t fix. In fact, that’s what the postal unions are saying. In a statement released on Saturday, the letter carriers and postal workers’ unions assure the public that even without the money, they can do the job. [..] So what’s all the hubbub about? The letter carriers say they can deliver the ballots on time. The postal employees claim they don’t need the extra cash. Where, pray tell, is there a “crisis”?
Nancy Pelosi knows. In fact, she’s about to call the members of the House of Representatives off the campaign trail and back to Washington to deal with the “crisis.” Politico: “Pelosi and other top Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Democrats are looking to address organizational issues at the Postal Service in the coming weeks, not to provide additional funding at this time, according to sources familiar with the discussion.” Nothing says “crisis” in Washington quite like pulling politicians away from their campaigns for a political stunt like holding an “emergency” session of Congress.
The USPS has been a mess for decades. Nothing to do with Trump. But yes, he does think the issue risks being used against him.
The idea that the Postal Service will not be able to handle the volume of mail in the election, or not be able to handle it within normal Postal Service time guidelines, does not make much sense. According to its most recent annual report, last year, in fiscal year 2019, the Postal Service handled 142.5 billion pieces of mail. “On a typical day, our 633,000 employees physically process and deliver 471 million mailpieces to nearly 160 delivery points,” the report says. This year, that number is higher, given the Postal Service’s delivery of census forms and stimulus checks. Those alone added about 450 million additional pieces of mail.
In 2016, about 136 million Americans voted in the presidential election. The number will probably be a bit higher this year. If officials sent ballots to every single American registered to vote — about 158 million people — and then 140 million people returned ballots, the roughly 298 million pieces of mail handled over the course of several weeks would be well within the Postal Service’s ability to handle. Of course, officials will not send a ballot to every American registered to vote, and not every voter will vote by mail. Whatever the final number is, the ballots that are cast by mail will not cripple a system that delivers 471 million pieces of mail every day.
There are, of course, compelling examples of election dysfunction, most notably the mess New York made of some of its congressional primaries this summer. But rather than representing a Postal Service problem, that was because some states are unprepared for a dramatic increase of voting by mail. The states have to prepare the ballots, address them, and process and count them when the Postal Service delivers them. That is the focus of the entirely legitimate fears of a possible vote-counting disaster this year. But it’s not the Postal Service.
[..] The Postal Service is not funded by a regular appropriation. It is, instead, an “independent agency” and is expected to support itself, beyond a yearly appropriation of about $55 million to cover the costs of mail for the blind and overseas balloting in elections. The Postal Service has lost money for a very long time. In fiscal year 2019, it had operating revenues of $71.1 billion and operating expenses of $79.9 billion, leaving it with a deficit of $8.8 billion. At the moment, Postal Service officials have told Congress, it has about $14 billion in cash on hand, putting it on the road to fiscal insolvency (without further aid) in late 2021. In the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, the $2 trillion relief measure passed in March, Congress gave the Postal Service a $10 billion borrowing authority. After the bill became law, there were negotiations between the Postal Service and the Treasury Department on the terms of the borrowing; a deal was announced in July.
The ability to borrow $10 billion, the postmaster general said, would “delay the approaching liquidity crisis.” [..] The House HEROES Act would give $25 billion to the Postal Service in what is essentially a bailout. The bill mentions nothing about helping the Postal Service handle the upcoming election or any other election. Indeed, the only stipulation at all placed on the $25 billion is that the Postal Service, “during the coronavirus emergency, shall prioritize the purchase of, and make available to all Postal Service employees and facilities, personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks, and sanitizers, and shall conduct additional cleaning and sanitizing of Postal Service facilities and delivery vehicles.” If the House Democrats who wrote and passed the bill intended the money to be spent specifically for elections, they did not say so in the text of the legislation.
— Jie Boden (@JieBoden) August 16, 2020
From April, but highly appropriate. We’ve discussed this in the Comments, and I keep thinking that one, or a few, states having a working model doesn’t mean it’s endlessly scalable.
State officials across the nation are turning to Washington state for advice on how to set up a vote-by-mail system before the November presidential election, but officials say that question is just the first of many they should be asking. Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who is in charge of Washington’s election system, and King County Elections Director Julie Wise, who runs elections in the county where more than a third of Washington voters fill out a ballot, said the list of questions other states need to answer in order to effectively implement vote-by-mail is long and complicated. And mid-April may be too late to start making the switch from a mostly in-person system to a vote-at-home configuration, said Wise, who worked on in-person voting for a decade before moving, along with the state of Washington, to vote-by-mail elections in 2011.
“We’ve been at it for a decade. It’s not an easy lift to make that transition,” said Wise, between meetings to plan for a November election that could change dramatically — even in one of the nation’s five vote-by-mail states — because of the ongoing threat of the coronavirus. “You’re cutting it very short,” was her response to recent inquiries from other states and counties, in addition to sharing a packet of information about how King County votes by mail, from the technology to the people. Among the questions other states and municipalities should be asking, according to Wyman and Wise:
• Do we need to buy new equipment to count the votes? • Do we have current addresses of our voters? Have we tried to mail them anything recently? • How recent are the signature cards from voters? Do we need to ask millions of people to fill out new ones? • Do we have a place to count votes that can accommodate the people needed to verify ballots and count them, while allowing for social distancing? • What state laws would we need to change in order to allow for most votes to be cast by mail? • Will we provide free postage? • How much will that cost? • Will we provide drop boxes and, if so, how many? • Do we need to set up some in-person sites for people to vote or register and how can you do that while accounting for social distancing? • How much will this transition cost? Where will the money come from? And that’s just the beginning of the list.
It’s not just his tweets. Schiff and the Dems have been getting away for so long with utter falsehoods they themselves may not even recognize them as such anymore. And who’s going to call them on it now? The MSM have been getting away with the exact same thing. But what use is it to go for a soft touch approach like this from John Solomon? Just say Schiff’s a blatant liar. Because he is. And opther people, like a journalist, may claim innocence, but the chair of the House Intelligence Committee can definitely not.
Twitter has on more than one occasion appended or flagged President Trump’s tweets as misleading. But so far, it has not done the same with several posts by House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff that are demonstrably false or misleading, raising questions of a double standard. For instance, Schiff tweeted in July 2018 that “the release of the Carter Page FISA application makes clear, once again, the FBI acted lawfully and appropriately” in reference to the surveillance warrant the bureau used to spy on the Trump adviser during the Russia collusion probe. In fact, the FISA application that Schiff referred to in the tweet contained 51 statements that were inaccurate, misleading or undocumented, and included 17 violations of FBI rules ranging from false and unverified information to omissions of exculpatory evidence of innocence, the Justice Department inspector general reported last December.
Likewise, DOJ officials withdrew two of the four Page FISA applications, and the chief judge of the FISA court ruled in March that the FBI has misled the court. “There is thus little doubt that the government breached its duty of candor to the Court with respect to those applications,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said. And last week, an ex-FBI lawyer agreed to plead guilty to a felony and admitted he falsified a document to deceive the court. In other words, the FBI acted unlawfully and inappropriately in the Page FISA debacle. And to date, Twitter hasn’t flagged or appended Schiff’s tweet even though he has enormous influence on the platform with 2.4 million followers.
Just the News identified more than a dozen tweets that Schiff has posted since 2017 that are inaccurate or misleading based on the declassified information that has been made public over the last year by the Justice Department, FBI, and intelligence community. Earlier this month, for instance, Schiff tweeted out a claim that Trump had not taken action to stop Russia from interfering in elections. “Donald Trump has never deterred Russia from interfering in U.S. elections. Far from it. The sum total of Trump’s words and actions has only encouraged Russian meddling in our elections,” Schiff wrote.
[..] Several times, Schiff has tweeted claims that there is evidence Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to hijack the 2016 election. For instance, the California Democrat posted a tweet in April 2018 accusing Republicans of ignoring “when in plain sight — evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.” Multiple investigations ranging from the Senate Intelligence Committee to Special Counsel Robert Mueller have concluded there is no evidence any Trump campaign official – or any other American – colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. “The investigation did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired to coordinate it with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” Mueller wrote, saying extensive contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians did not amount to a conspiracy.
Then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr last year came to a similar conclusion. “We don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,” he announced.
Again, it’s not the lockdowns:
“Private consumption dipped at an annual rate of nearly 29% as shoppers stayed home, leaving malls and restaurants nearly empty of customers. That was without any full shutdown of businesses to contain coronavirus outbreaks [..]”
Japan’s economy shrank at annual rate of 27.8% in April-June, the worst contraction on record, as the coronavirus pandemic slammed consumption and trade, according to government data released Monday. The Cabinet Office reported that Japan’s preliminary seasonally adjusted real GDP, the sum of a nation’s goods and services, fell 7.8% quarter on quarter. The annual rate shows what the number would have been if continued for a year. Japanese media reported the latest drop was the worst since World War II. But the Cabinet Office said comparable records began in 1980. The previous worst contraction, a 17.8% drop, was in the first quarter of 2009, during the global financial crisis.
The world’s third largest economy was already limping along when the virus outbreak struck in China late last year. It has weakened as the pandemic gained ground, leading to social distancing restrictions and prompting many people to stay home when they can. “In April, May, a state of emergency was issued, it was a situation where the economy was artificially stopped so to speak, and the impact was severe,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister Economic and Fiscal Policy. “These are tough numbers but they bottomed out in April and May, we would like to put all our efforts into returning to a growth trajectory,” Nishimura told reporters.
[..] The economy shrank 0.6% in the January-March period, and contracted 1.8% in the October-December period last year, meaning that Japan slipped into recession in the first quarter of this year. Recession is generally defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. [..] Japanese economic growth was flat in July-September. Growth was minimal the quarter before that. [..] For the April-June period, Japan’s exports dropped at a whopping annual rate of 56%. Private consumption dipped at an annual rate of nearly 29% as shoppers stayed home, leaving malls and restaurants nearly empty of customers. That was without any full shutdown of businesses to contain coronavirus outbreaks [..]
In a bit of a dip? No panic, let’s blow another housing bubble. The instrument this time is a stamp duty holiday.
The housing market has had its busiest month in more than 10 years in July, with the traditional summer lull replaced by a flurry of activity from buyers and sellers, according to the property website Rightmove. The site, which typically lists about 95% of homes for sale in the UK, said the “rulebook has been rewritten”, with the boom fuelled by pent-up demand during lockdown accelerating as the summer has progressed. It said the number of monthly sales agreed in Britain had been the highest since it started tracking the figure a decade ago, up by 38% on the same period last year and worth a combined total of more than £37bn. Would-be sellers were also active, with more properties coming on to the market than in any month since 2008.
Asking prices have fallen by an average of 0.2% across mainland Britain, but this has been driven by a 2% drop in London, where the number of homes coming on to the market is up by 69% year-on-year. In seven regions, asking prices hit record highs as sellers sought to make the most of the demand. The housing market was closed in lockdown and reopened in mid-May, sparking a flurry of activity. July brought a stamp duty holiday on homes costing up to £500,000 in England and £250,000 in Wales and Scotland, which further fuelled activity.
Last week figures from the UK’s largest estate agency firm, Countrywide, showed that demand for homes costing between £500,000 and £750,000 had soared since the tax break was announced, and Rightmove’s figures suggest a similar effect for other agents. The number of sales agreed for large homes was up by 59% annually, while for first-time properties the rise was 29% and on homes with three or four bedrooms, excluding four-bed detached properties, it was 38%.
She didn’t want to do it.
New Zealand is to delay its general election by a month due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in Auckland, the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has said. Calls had been growing from opposition parties for the election to be moved, with opposition leaders saying it wasn’t “just and fair” to hold an election while an outbreak was underway and level 3 restrictions were in place in the country’s largest city, prohibiting campaigning. Ardern said after consulting with every political party in parliament, as well as the electoral commission, she had decided to move the general election from 19 September to 17 October. She said her first suggestion of moving it by two weeks had been rejected by the Electoral Commission as not enough time to prepare logistics such as venues.
“The Electoral Commission, via the Ministry of Justice, has advised me that a safe and accessible election is achievable on this date,” Ardern said. “Moving the date by four weeks also gives all parties a fair shot to campaign and delivers New Zealanders certainty without unnecessarily long delays.” Ardern said Covid-19 would be with the world “for some time to come” and repeatedly pushing the election date would not lessen the risk of disruption to voters and parties. “This is why the Electoral Commission has planned for the possibility of holding an election where the country is at level 2, and with some parts at level 3. I will not change the election date again.” New Zealand is in the midst of its first outbreak since eliminating the disease in June, with dozens of people infected and held in quarantine in Auckland, a city of 1.5 million.
On Monday nine news cases of Covid-19 were reported, bringing the total number of cases related to the south Auckland cluster to 58. Maori and Pasifika people have been disproportionately infected by the latest outbreak. Five people were in hospital being treated for the disease, and the source of the outbreak remained a mystery, the ministry of health said. “We still don’t have any particular clues as to the origin of the outbreak,” director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.
Must read for today. How do new words enter our lexicon? To what extent are they propagated, and by whom, and for which purposes? Ever heard of critical theory?
In my view, this typifies the institutionalization of education and knowledge. Which claims that the only things that you can learn that are of any value are to be found in schools. Say that often enough and nothing of value can be found there anymore. Knowledge as a monopoly doesn’t work.
In the mid-2010s, a curious new vocabulary began to unspool itself in our media. A data site, storywrangling.org, which measures the frequency of words in news stories, revealed some remarkable shifts. Terms that had previously been almost entirely obscure suddenly became ubiquitous—and an analysis of the New York Times, using these tools, is a useful example. Looking at stories from 1970 to 2018, several terms came out of nowhere in the past few years to reach sudden new heights of repetition and frequency. Here’s a list of the most successful neologisms: non-binary, toxic masculinity, white supremacy, traumatizing, queer, transphobia, whiteness, mansplaining. And here are a few that were rising in frequency in the last decade but only took off in the last few years: triggering, hurtful, gender, stereotypes.
Language changes, and we shouldn’t worry about that. Maybe some of these terms will stick around. But the linguistic changes have occurred so rapidly, and touched so many topics, that it has all the appearance of a top-down re-ordering of language, rather than a slow, organic evolution from below. While the New York Times once had a reputation for being a bit stodgy on linguistic matters, pedantic, precise and slow-to-change, as any paper of record might be, in the last few years, its pages have been flushed with so many neologisms that a reader from, say, a decade ago would have a hard time understanding large swathes of it. And for many of us regular readers, we’ve just gotten used to brand new words popping up suddenly to re-describe something we thought we knew already. We notice a new word, make a brief mental check, and move on with our lives.
But we need to do more than that. We need to understand that all these words have one thing in common: they are products of an esoteric, academic discipline called critical theory, which has gained extraordinary popularity in elite education in the past few decades, and appears to have reached a cultural tipping point in the middle of the 2010s. Most normal people have never heard of this theory—or rather an interlocking web of theories—that is nonetheless changing the very words we speak and write and the very rationale of the institutions integral to liberal democracy. What we have long needed is an intelligible, intelligent description of this theory which most people can grasp. And we’ve just gotten one: “Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender and Identity,” by former math prof James Lindsay and British academic, Helen Pluckrose. It’s as deep a dive into this often impenetrable philosophy as anyone would want to attempt. But it’s well worth grappling with.
What the book helps the layperson to understand is the evolution of postmodern thought since the 1960s until it became the doctrine of Social Justice today. Beginning as a critique of all grand theories of meaning—from Christianity to Marxism—postmodernism is a project to subvert the intellectual foundations of western culture. The entire concept of reason—whether the Enlightenment version or even the ancient Socratic understanding—is a myth designed to serve the interests of those in power, and therefore deserves to be undermined and “problematized” whenever possible. Postmodern theory does so mischievously and irreverently—even as it leaves nothing in reason’s place. The idea of objective truth—even if it is viewed as always somewhat beyond our reach—is abandoned. All we have are narratives, stories, whose meaning is entirely provisional, and can in turn be subverted or problematized.
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