Aug 172020
 


Claude Monet The Wooden Bridge 1872

 

One-Second Coronavirus Test Achieves 95% Success Rate (JP)
Biden and Trump Matchup Tightens As Enthusiasm Hits New High (CNN)
Mueller Aide Weissmann Tells DOJ Attorneys Not To Help Investigators (Turley)
The Manufactured Hysteria Over Mail Delivery (PJM)
A Reality-Based Look At Trump And The Post Office (York)
Washington’s Successful Vote-by-Mail System Wasn’t Built Overnight (CC)
Adam Schiff’s Inaccurate Russia Tweets Raise Double-Standard Question (JTN)
Japan’s Economy Shrinks At Record -27.8% Annual Rate (AP)
UK Housing Market Has Busiest Month In More Than 10 Years (G.)
New Zealand Delays General Election By A Month Amid COVID19 Outbreak (G.)
The Roots Of Wokeness (Sullivan)

 

 

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.

One-Second Coronavirus Test Achieves 95% Success Rate (JP)

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.

Read more …

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?

Biden and Trump Matchup Tightens As Enthusiasm Hits New High (CNN)

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%.

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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.

Mueller Aide Weissmann Tells DOJ Attorneys Not To Help Investigators (Turley)

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.

Read more …

What a crazy story.

The Manufactured Hysteria Over Mail Delivery (PJM)

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.

Read more …

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.

A Reality-Based Look At Trump And The Post Office (York)

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

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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.

Washington’s Successful Vote-by-Mail System Wasn’t Built Overnight (CC)

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.

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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.

Adam Schiff’s Inaccurate Russia Tweets Raise Double-Standard Question (JTN)

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.

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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 Shrinks At Record -27.8% Annual Rate (AP)

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 [..]

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In a bit of a dip? No panic, let’s blow another housing bubble. The instrument this time is a stamp duty holiday.

UK Housing Market Has Busiest Month In More Than 10 Years (G.)

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%.

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She didn’t want to do it.

New Zealand Delays General Election By A Month Amid COVID19 Outbreak (G.)

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.

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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.

The Roots Of Wokeness (Sullivan)

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.

Read more …

 

 

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Aug 142020
 


Marlon Brando screentest 1951

 

US Obesity Epidemic Threatens Effectiveness of Any COVID Vaccine (KHN)
Israeli Hospital Trials Fast Saliva Test for COVID-19 (R.)
The Pandemic and Medicare for All (TMI)
NYC Is Dead Forever. Here’s Why (Altucher)
What Kamala Harris Really Thinks of WikiLeaks (Lauria)
Some Questions About Kamala Harris’ Eligibility (NW)
China’s Banks At Risk As $500 Billion In Non-Performing Loans Revealed (SCMP)
China’s Debt Collectors Flourish As Consumers Flounder (R.)
US Seizes $2 Million From Terror-Linked Cryptocurrency Accounts (CNBC)
United Arab Emirates Sells Out Palestine For Israel (EI)
Experts Debunk Claims of GMO Crops Success (OffG)
Ford Is Slashing 10,000 Jobs, 6 Factories In Europe (ZH)
7 Million Jobs At Risk, European Airlines Could See “Further Declines” (ZH)
Volume of Greek Air Traffic Plunged 74.3% in 2020 (GR)

 

 

I was reading a piece by law professor John Eastman yesterday, before the entire left stumbled over each other to condemn it. I was thinking in my innocence that it’s interesting to know if questions over who’s a “natural born citizen” in America have ever truly been settled by politics or courts.

But I’m naive, and it’s attack time. They will defend Kamala Harris with all they got, with the entire MSM serving as their bullhorns. Which means Trump and his people have no choice but to go after her with all they got. Still, remembering the Obama birther fiasco, do they really want to die on this hill? Can’t we just leave it to the court system and legal experts? Or simply answer Eastman’s questions?

It’s all among signs of things to come between here and Nov. 3. Bill Barr yesterday promised that a first news flash from the Durham investigation into Russiagate origins will come out today, and that all of it will before Nov. 3. US elections are really just entertainment. Opium for the masses. Clickbaits, drama, anger, scandal. And I always thought it should be about people.

 

 

Not much movement in the numbers. We’re stuck in a broken record, with no progress anywhere. Not good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are 328 million Americans. 74 million of them are children. That leaves 254 million adults, of which 107 million are obese, or 42%. 42.4% have a BMI over 30. 9% are morbidly obese.

From this point of view, COVID is hardly the worst threat to either the people or the health care system. Or, to put it another way, it’s the people themselves that are the threat to the health care system.

Again, take high fructose corn syrup out of the diet, and you solve a huge chunk of that problem. Ban stuff that kills people, or make it much harder to get.

US Obesity Epidemic Threatens Effectiveness of Any COVID Vaccine (KHN)

For a world crippled by the coronavirus, salvation hinges on a vaccine. But in the United States, where at least 4.6 million people have been infected and nearly 155,000 have died, the promise of that vaccine is hampered by a vexing epidemic that long preceded COVID-19: obesity. Scientists know that vaccines engineered to protect the public from influenza, hepatitis B, tetanus and rabies can be less effective in obese adults than in the general population, leaving them more vulnerable to infection and illness. There is little reason to believe, obesity researchers say, that COVID-19 vaccines will be any different. “Will we have a COVID vaccine next year tailored to the obese? No way,” said Raz Shaikh, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“Will it still work in the obese? Our prediction is no.” More than 107 million American adults are obese, and their ability to return safely to work, care for their families and resume daily life could be curtailed if the coronavirus vaccine delivers weak immunity for them. In March, still early in the global pandemic, a little-noticed study from China found that heavier Chinese patients afflicted with COVID-19 were more likely to die than leaner ones, suggesting a perilous future awaited the U.S., whose population is among the heaviest in the world. And then that future arrived.

As intensive care units in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere filled with patients, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that obese people with a body mass index of 40 or more — known as morbid obesity or about 100 pounds overweight — were among the groups at highest risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19. About 9% of American adults are in that category. As weeks passed and a clearer picture of who was being hospitalized came into focus, federal health officials expanded their warning to include people with a body mass index of 30 or more. That vastly expanded the ranks of those considered vulnerable to the most severe cases of infection, to 42.4% of American adults.

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More rapid testing. Good. Bring it. Test yourself everyday at breakfast.

Israeli Hospital Trials Fast Saliva Test for COVID-19 (R.)

A newly developed saliva test aims to determine in less than a second whether or not you are infected with the novel coronavirus, Israel’s largest medical center said Thursday. Patients rinse their mouth with a saline wash and spit into a vial. This is then examined by a small spectral device that, in simple terms, shines light on the specimen and analyzes the reaction to see if it is consistent with COVID-19. With machine learning it gets more accurate over time. Eli Schwartz of the Center for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Center, who is leading the trial, said it was easier to use than PCR swabs commonly used to detect COVID-19.


“So far we have very promising results in this new method which will be much more convenient and much cheaper,” he said. The center said in an initial clinical trial involving hundreds of patients, the new artificial intelligence-based device identified evidence of the virus in the body at a 95% success rate. Amos Panet, an expert in molecular virology at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, said he would like to see more data and comparisons with existing tests before making a final judgment. The amount of virus present in saliva increases as patients get sicker, he said, and a big challenge is to detect in “people who are borderline.” “It will be a game changer only if we see validation of this technology against the current technology,” he said.

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Would M4A benefit the obese and hence diabetic? A long time ago, someone said: we’re raising a generation of blind amputees. How would a health care system deal with that?

The Pandemic and Medicare for All (TMI)

When the novel coronavirus first arrived in the United States, it spurred on remarkable message discipline among America’s political class. The consensus that emerged on both sides of the aisle dictated that no matter what happened, Americans ought to be glad they do not live in a country with socialized medicine. At the final Democratic presidential debate on March 15, former Vice President Biden pointed to COVID numbers in Italy as evidence that not only was Medicare for all not a solution to the crisis, but it would put the country at greater risk. “With all due respect for Medicare for all, you have a single-payer system in Italy,” the former vice president said. “It doesn’t work there. It has nothing to do with Medicare for all. That would not solve the problem at all.”

Weeks later, in early April, Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden echoed the sentiment in a Twitter spat with a Medicare for All supporter. “You might want to check out the death rate in France before you think the form of health system is the answer here,” she tweeted. Not long after, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen declaring the COVID-19 pandemic was “an indictment of socialized medicine.” “If you think today’s pandemic bolsters the case for socialized medicine, then ask yourself a simple question: If you came down with a serious case of COVID-19, would you rather be in an Italian hospital or an American one?” the piece opens, before lauding Biden’s debate answer.

Such arguments were never fair — the pandemic was only just starting in the United States, while COVID-19 had indeed rampaged across Europe, there were contributing factors like years of austerity and a lack of supply chain redundancy in the modern globalized economy. But now, just a few months later, these arguments completely and utterly fail. New infections are still surging in the U.S. while countries with national health care programs have long since gotten a handle on the virus. On Tuesday, the U.S. reported more new COVID cases in a single day than Italy, France, and the U.K. reported last month combined, and roughly 45 percent of their total deaths.

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Nice account from James Altucher. is he just getting old, or is New York really beyond salvation?

NYC Is Dead Forever. Here’s Why (Altucher)

People say, “NYC has been through worse” or “NYC has always come back.” No and no. First, when has NYC been through worse? Even in the 1970s, and through the 80s, when NYC was going bankrupt, and even when it was the crime capital of the US or close to it, it was still the capital of the business world (meaning: it was the primary place young people would go to build wealth and find opportunity), it was culturally on top of its game – home to artists, theater, media, advertising, publishing, and it was probably the food capital of the US. NYC has never been locked down for five months. Not in any pandemic, war, financial crisis, never. In the middle of the polio epidemic, when little kids (including my mother) were going paralyzed or dying (my mother ended up with a bad leg), NYC didn’t go through this.

This is not to say what should have been done or should not have been done. That part is over. Now we have to deal with what IS. In early March, many people (not me), left NYC when they felt it would provide safety from the virus and they no longer needed to go to work and all the restaurants were closed. People figured, “I’ll get out for a month or two and then come back.” They are all still gone. And then in June, during rioting and looting a second wave of NYC-ers (this time me) left. I have kids. Nothing was wrong with the protests but I was a little nervous when I saw videos of rioters after curfew trying to break into my building. Many people left temporarily but there were also people leaving permanently. Friends of mine moved to Nashville, Miami, Austin, Denver, Salt Lake City, Austin, Dallas, etc.

Now a third wave of people are leaving. But they might be too late. Prices are down 30-50% on both rentals and sales no matter what real estate people tell you. And rentals soaring in the second and third-tier cities. I’m temporarily, although maybe permanently, in South Florida now. I also got my place sight unseen. Robyn was looking at listings around Miami and then she saw an area we had never been to before. We found three houses we liked. She called the real estate agent. Place #1. Just rented that morning 50% higher than the asking price. Place #2. Also rented (New Yorkers – “they came from New York for three hours, saw the place, got it, went back to pack.”). Place #3. “Available.” “We’ll take it!” The first time we physically saw it was when we flew down and moved in. “This is temporary, right?” I confirmed with Robyn. But…I don’t know. I’m starting to like the sun a little bit. I mean, when it’s behind the shades. And when I am in air conditioning.

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All US politics is united against Julian Assange.

What Kamala Harris Really Thinks of WikiLeaks (Lauria)

During a September 2017 U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee debate on an intelligence bill a line was inserted that said WikiLeaks “resembles a non-state hostile intelligence service” and that the U.S. “should treat it as such.” “This language would help investigators secure the authorization needed to surveil those U.S. citizens thought to be associated with WikiLeaks,” a McClatchy report quoted a government lawyer as saying. “You need to show that someone is an agent of a foreign power,” said the lawyer, Robert Deitz, who held senior legal positions at the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Agency. “It’s possible that Assange has colleagues in this country that they need to focus on,” McClatchy quoted Deitz as saying, “noting that such action can only be done under court order.”

The non-state hostile agency phrase was directly lifted from a scurrilous speech by Mike Pompeo in his first address as CIA director. The language survived the committee and made it into the bill voted on by the full Senate. But before it did two senators raised objections to it. One was Ron Wyden of Oregon. The other was Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential candidate in November’s election. According to the McClatchy report, “Harris declared that she is ‘no supporter of WikiLeaks,’ which she said had done ‘considerable harm’ to the United States. But the clause on the group is ‘dangerous’ because it ‘fails to draw a bright line between WikiLeaks and legitimate news organizations that play a vital role in our democracy,’ according to her remarks for the record.”

Harris left no doubt that she is an enemy of WikiLeaks, as is her running mate, Joe Biden, who agreed it was more like a high-tech terrorist organization that Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers. Harris made clear she cared only about establishment media (which almost universally undergirds aggressive U.S. foreign policy) and was worried about it getting caught up in a WikiLeaks dragnet. She said she wants a “bright line” between publications such as The New York Times and WikiLeaks. Except, there can be no such legal line drawn as both establishment papers, like the Times, and WikiLeaks have done the exact same thing: possessed and published classified material.

Because there is no legal distinction, the Obama administration, which desperately wanted to indict WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, backed away citing its “New York Times problem.” The Trump administration had no such qualms and had Assange arrested in April 2019 and indicted on conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and 17 counts of the Espionage Act. The only bright line that can be drawn is political: a decision by the Department of Justice to not prosecute big media but to prosecute WikiLeaks for the same “crime”, which conflicts with First Amendment press freedoms. This is what Harris was calling for: Protect the state-managed corporate media but go after a serious publication that dares to reveal crimes of the U.S. government, which Harris wants to protect. In other words, for the same activity, the Times is afforded First Amendment protections, but WikiLeaks is not.

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There are questions one can’t ask.

Some Questions About Kamala Harris’ Eligibility (NW)

The fact that Senator Kamala Harris has just been named the vice presidential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has some questioning her eligibility for the position. The 12th Amendment provides that “no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.” And Article II of the Constitution specifies that “[n]o person except a natural born citizen…shall be eligible to the office of President.” Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time of Harris’ birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a “natural born citizen”—and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president.

“Nonsense,” runs the counter-commentary. Indeed, PolitiFact rated the claim of ineligibility as “Pants on Fire” false, Snopes rated it simply “False,” and from the other side of the political spectrum, Conservative Daily News likewise rated it “False.” All three (and numerous others) simply assert that Harris is eligible because she was born in Oakland—and is therefore a natural-born citizen from location of birth. The 14th Amendment says so, they all claim, and the Supreme Court so held in the 1898 case of U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark. But those claims are erroneous, at least as the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment was originally understood—an error to which even my good friend, renowned UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh, has fallen prey.

The language of Article II is that one must be a natural-born citizen. The original Constitution did not define citizenship, but the 14th Amendment does—and it provides that “all persons born…in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.” Those who claim that birth alone is sufficient overlook the second phrase. The person must also be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, and that meant subject to the complete jurisdiction, not merely a partial jurisdiction such as that which applies to anyone temporarily sojourning in the United States (whether lawfully or unlawfully). Such was the view of those who authored the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause; of the Supreme Court of the United States in the 1872 Slaughter-House Cases and the 1884 case of Elk v. Wilkins; of Thomas Cooley, the leading constitutional treatise writer of the day; and of the State Department, which, in the 1880s, issued directives to U.S. embassies to that effect.

The Supreme Court’s subsequent decision in Wong Kim Ark is not to the contrary. At issue there was a child born to Chinese immigrants who had become lawful, permanent residents in the United States—”domiciled” was the legally significant word used by the Court. But that was the extent of the Court’s holding (as opposed to broader language that was dicta, and therefore not binding). Indeed, the Supreme Court has never held that anyone born on U.S. soil, no matter the circumstances of the parents, is automatically a U.S. citizen.

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I’ve said it often before: none of this means much without also tallying shadow banks’ numbers.

China’s Banks At Risk As $500 Billion In Non-Performing Loans Revealed (SCMP)

China’s top banking regulatory official said on Thursday that the country’s banks have to deal with 3.4 trillion yuan (US$489.5 billion) worth of non-performing loans in 2020 – flagging a big risk for the banking system in the world’s second-largest economy. The total marks a hefty increase from 2.3 trillion yuan in 2019, and the value of bad loans could be even higher in 2021. Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said in an interview with the official Xinhua News Agency that the increase in non-performing loans (NPLs) – loans in default or close to default – will put huge pressure on the country’s banks, especially small and regional ones.

“As many loans are rolled over [in 2020], some problems will only emerge next year,” Guo was quoted by Xinhua as saying, adding that a rebound in bad loans is “inevitable” since the coronavirus shock has adversely affected so many companies. The warning by Guo, who is also the Communist Party secretary at the People’s Bank of China, came at a time when many of the country’s small banks are facing a moment of reckoning after years of undisciplined balance sheet expansion, as well as instances of fraud and corruption. Meanwhile, Guo said, Chinese banks have improved their loan structure – with more lending going toward manufacturing, infrastructure, technology and small businesses.

Guo added that Chinese banks are now being told to enhance their support of small businesses. In addition, he said he will encourage banks to invest more in corporate bonds. According to official statistics from Guo’s agency, the NPL ratio in China was among the lowest in the world. The ratio for Chinese commercial banks rose 0.03 percentage points in the second quarter to 1.94 per cent at the end of June. But hidden bad loans, if exposed, could easily wipe out bank profits and erode capital bases. In the first half of this year, the combined profits of Chinese banks dropped for the first time in more than a decade – falling 9.4 per cent to 1 trillion yuan in the first half of the year, government data shows.

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So, question is: who are the shadow banks’ debt collectors? Vinnie the Kneecapper and his friends?

China’s Debt Collectors Flourish As Consumers Flounder (R.)

It’s not a good sign for any economy when debt collectors are booming and in China right now, the industry is on a hiring spree. Whole Scene Asset Management, a debt recovery firm based in the southern province of Hunan, plans to double staff numbers to 400 people this year as it expands into new cities. “Debt collection companies have been mushrooming,” said company founder Zhang Haiyan. “And with bad loans growing this year, everyone is adding new hands.” Rival Bricsman is also hiring – hoping to boost headcount of around 1,000 by 400-500 this year after landing a deal to collect delinquent consumer loans for China Minsheng Bank (600016.SS), people with knowledge of the matter said, declining to identified as they were not authorised to talk to media.

Bricsman, which is based in the eastern province of Jiangsu and counts other large banks amongst its clients, did not respond to a request for comment. As increasing numbers of consumers struggle with lost income in an economy battered by the coronavirus and U.S-China tensions, a burgeoning wave of non-performing loans is sparking concern among lenders – both at specialist consumer financing firms and traditional banks – and even among debt collectors. China is the midst of “an unfolding debt crisis”, says Joe Zhang, a business consultant and until last month vice chairman at the country’s largest debt collector YX Asset Recovery. The delinquency rate for consumer debt is climbing and collecting on those loans has become much harder, he added, estimating that at some weaker non-bank consumer lenders, soured loans may account for 30% to 50% of their portfolios.

[..] Chinese consumer debt has ballooned over the past five years, fuelled in part as banks scrambled to issue credit cards, with outstanding debt for bank-issued cards doubling to 17.6 trillion yuan ($2.5 trillion). Internet-based consumer financing, which is only lightly regulated, has also grown – by a dizzying 400 times to nearly 8 trillion yuan since 2014, according to the Guanghua School of Management. And Chinese household debt – including mortgages and unsecured consumer loans – has swollen to levels equivalent to nearly 60% of GDP, up from 18% in 2008, the peak of the global financial crisis.

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300 anonymous accounts?!

US Seizes $2 Million From 300 Terror-Linked Cryptocurrency Accounts (CNBC)

The Justice Department said it dismantled an elaborate cyber campaign used by overseas terror organizations to finance their operations and seized $2 million from more than 300 cryptocurrency accounts in what it described as the largest-ever seizure of its kind. The Justice Department said three overseas terrorist groups — al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing; al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS — used cryptocurrencies and social media to raise funds for their terror campaigns. “It should not surprise anyone that our enemies use modern technology, social media platforms and cryptocurrency to facilitate their evil and violent agendas,” Attorney General William Barr said in a release.


“As announced today, we will seize the funds and the instrumentalities that provide a lifeline for their operations whenever possible,” he added. “Terrorist networks have adapted to technology, conducting complex financial transactions in the digital world, including through cryptocurrencies. IRS-CI special agents in the DC cybercrimes unit work diligently to unravel these financial networks,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said in a release. In one of the cases, the U.S. secretly took over websites that were operated by al-Qassam Brigades and monitored those who thought they had opened up their cyber wallets to the terror group but instead donated money to an account controlled by the U.S. government, according to court documents unsealed Thursday in the District of Columbia.

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Successfully dividing the Arab world’s support for Palestinians.

United Arab Emirates Sells Out Palestine For Israel (EI)

The United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to full normalization of relations, bringing their decades-long clandestine dealings proudly into the open. The so-called “Abraham Accords” sealing the deal were brokered by US officials. The deal is named for “the father of all three great faiths,” David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, told reporters at the Oval Office on Thursday. Religious and cultural tolerance is often used by Arab states and Israel to mask their efforts to normalize ties. Painting conflict in the region as stemming from a lack of understanding among religions is also a way to obscure its true origin: Israel’s violent dispossession of Palestinians and ongoing military occupation and steady ethnic cleansing of their land.

In exchange for normalization, Israel agreed to suspend plans to annex large swaths of the occupied West Bank “and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” according to the joint statement. However, this is spin. In reality, it was the United States that put Israel’s annexation plans on ice weeks ago. In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to annexation shortly after the announcement of the agreement. The UAE is merely using the American-imposed freeze as an opportunity to bring its secret ties with Israel dating back to the 1990s into the open. These secret relations have included military and intelligence cooperation and even joint military exercises.

[..] Relations between Israel and Gulf States including Saudi Arabia and the UAE are founded on a mutual enmity towards Iran. Liquidating Palestinian rights and bypassing the Palestinian issue is seen as key to building up this anti-Iran alliance under American oversight. Annexation, moreover, would only be a formal rubber stamp for what Israel has been doing on the ground for decades: stealing land, forcibly displacing Palestinians and building colonies in flagrant breach of international law. This violent colonization has never ceased and will not stop as a result of this agreement.

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India is Monsanto’s wet dream.

Experts Debunk Claims of GMO Crops Success (OffG)

On 6 July 2020, an article extolling the benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops appeared on the BloombergQuint website based on an interview with Dr Ramesh Chand, a member of the key Indian Government think tank Niti Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) . On 17 July, another piece that placed a positive spin on GM crops and gene-editing technology (Feeding 10 Billion People will Require Genetically Modified Food) appeared on the same site. According to Prof Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Dr Hans R Herren and Dr Peter E Kenmore, internationally renowned agricultural researchers, the pieces reported “sweeping unsupported claims” about the benefits of and need for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and related technologies in agriculture in India.

The three academics felt that “a responsible and factual response” was required and have written a letter – containing what could be described as the definitive analysis of Bt cotton in India – to Dr Ramesh Chand, Dr Rajiv Kumar (Niti Aayog Vice Chancellor) and Dr Amitabh Kant (Niti Aayog CEO). Chand is reported as saying that there is no credible study to show any adverse impact of growing Bt cotton in the last 18 years in the country (India’s only officially approved GM crop). This is simply not the case. Moreover, Gutierrez et al argue that all of the credible evidence shows any meagre increases in cotton yield after the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002 were largely due to increases in fertiliser use. Before proceeding, it is pertinent to address the claim that ‘feeding 10 billion people will require genetically modified food’.

If we take the case of India and its 1.3 billion-plus population, it has achieved self-sufficiency in food grains and has ensured that, in theory at least, there is enough food available to feed its entire population. It is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and millets and the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnuts, vegetables and fruit. However, food security for many Indians remains a distant dream. Hunger and malnutrition remain prevalent. But that is not because farmers don’t produce enough food. These problems result from other factors, including inadequate food distribution, social and economic policies, inequality and poverty. It is a case of ‘scarcity’ amid abundance (reflecting the situation globally). India even continues to export food while millions remain hungry. Productivity is not the issue.

And while proponents say GM will boost productivity and help secure cultivators a better income, this too ignores crucial political and economic contexts; with bumper harvests, Indian farmers still find themselves in financial distress. India’s farmers are not experiencing hardship due to low productivity. They are reeling from the effects of neoliberal policies and years of neglect. It’s for good reason that the calorie and essential nutrient intake of the rural poor has drastically fallen. Yet the pro-GMO lobby has wasted no time in wrenching these issues from their political contexts to use the notions of ‘helping farmers’ and ‘feeding the world’ as lynchpins of its promotional strategy.

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Everything travel related is getting hammered. There is no telling when it all will be back, or if it ever will. Bailing out the firms involved seems an awful waste of money. You do that for firms that have a future, not those that have a past.

Ford Is Slashing 10,000 Jobs, 6 Factories In Europe (ZH)

The auto industry continues to grapple with one of the worst recessions ever for the notoriously capital intensive sector. Ford, which feels like it has been in the midst of a yearslong “restructuring” that has never fully panned out or ended (and has involved numerous CEOs), continues to make major changes to its global personnel to try and find the right mix for its business going forward. This means that 10,000 positions are now being cut across Europe, the automaker disclosed yesterday. Ford is also going to be reducing the number of its plants in Europe to 17 from 23, the company revealed in a JP Morgan conference presentation on Wednesday.

In a slide called “Ford Euope: Road to Sustainable Profitability”, the company also disclosed it would be discontinuing underperforming vehicles, like its C-MAX and Grand C-Max. The company also plans on “leveraging” its relationship with VW. The company says it is on track to deliver on its 2020-2021 CO2 targets without credits or penalties and 13 new electic vehicles will be on sale by the end of 2020, up from just 5. This news comes days after it was announced that Ford would be replacing its CEO on relatively short notice. Ford said days ago it had tapped Jim Farley to replace a relatively still-newly appointed Jim Hackett as CEO. Hackett replaced former CEO Mark Fields and, for the most part, has failed to inspire confidence during his tenure at Ford.

Ford is currently in the middle of an $11 billion restructuring that is supposed to help to accelerate its development of new vehicles, including hybrids and EVs. Hackett had only just started with Ford back in 2017 and has said he will retire effective October. General Motors is following with a C-suite shakeup of its own, as its CFO leaves after just two years to work at a fintech startup. The company announced earlier this week that John Stapleton, GM North America chief financial officer, has been named its acting global chief financial officer, effective Aug. 15, after the resignation of the company’s current CFO, Dhivya Suryadevara.

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Isn’t that what we wanted? Less flying, less pollution?

7 Million Jobs At Risk, European Airlines Could See “Further Declines” (ZH)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) published a new report Thursday that warns the virus-induced downturn will continue to pressure air passenger numbers, employment and economies across Europe. IATA said passenger flights are expected to decline by 60% in 2020, resulting in millions of job losses in the aviation and tourism industries. IATA issued a similar warning of what has been announced by airlines, of which, complete recovery in passenger demand might not be seen until 2024. “The near-term outlook for recovery in Europe remains highly uncertain with respect to the second wave of the pandemic and the broader global economic impact it could have. Passenger demand in Europe is expected to recover gradually and will not reach 2019 levels until 2024. -IATA

IATA’s job loss estimate was increased by 17% from its June report, from 6 million to 7 million, mostly because the highly anticipated V-shaped recovery has failed to materialize. “It is desperately worrying to see a further decline in prospects for air travel this year, and the knock-on impact for employment and prosperity. said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe. Schvartzman said, “It shows once again the terrible effect that is being felt by families across Europe as border restrictions and quarantine continue. It is vital that governments and industry work together to create a harmonized plan for reopening borders.”

If another wave of the virus were to hit Europe, justifying nationwide lockdowns, it could intensify the recession. Though the German tabloid newspaper Bild has said: “There will be no second hard lockdown in Europe because that would lead to a monster recession that would not be accepted by the population.”

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20% of Greek GDP is tourism. So are at least 20% of jobs.

Volume of Greek Air Traffic Plunged 74.3% in 2020 (GR)

A report came out on Thursday confirming the worst fears of Greek economic experts, stating that the country had seen a drop of 74.3% in the number of passengers who had traveled through their airports so far this year. This amounts to only 9 million air travelers who had used airports in the country so far in 2020, a staggering drop of almost three-quarters of its business. The number of international visitors coming into Greek airports this year so far amounts to 1,126,429, a stunning decrease from last year’s banner tourism season, which saw a total of 4,096,657 international arrivals. Although very disappointing, the numbers did not come as a shock to any in the sector, due to the punishing effects of travel bans imposed on many nations because of the coronavirus pandemic.


According to Greek media reports, the Civil Aviation Authority, or CAA, reported the precipitous drop in business in the first seven months of this year relative to the numbers seen in 2019. For the month of July 2020 alone, the high season for summertime travel to the country, passenger traffic at Greek airports had decreased 72.6%. During the month of July, a total of only 2,722,854 million passengers came through Greece’s airports; in that same period, there was a precipitous drop of 72.5% in the number of foreign arrivals. This means that there were fewer passengers overall in the first seven months of 2020 than there had been in the month of July only in 2019.

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Aug 132020
 


Joel Meyerowitz Florida 1967

 

COVID-19 Rapid Tests Demo (MedCram)
Puzzling New Zealand Virus Outbreak Grows To 17 Cases (AP)
Russian Vaccine CEO: US Waging “Major Information Warfare” (ZH)
When COVID Closed The Library, Staff Called Every Member Over 70 (G.)
Smart Money On Trump To Win In November, Stocks Could Crash – Gundlach (MW)
AOC Only Gets 60 Seconds At DNC To Deliver Pre-Recorded Message (F.)
Romney Blocks Sen. Ron Johnson From Subpoenaing Comey, Brennan (GP)
China State-Run Banks Quietly Complying With Trump’s Hong Kong Sanctions (ZH)
Uber May Shut Down In California If Forced To Call Drivers Employees (V.)
Pentagon Gives Up Huge Slice Of Spectrum For 5G (BD)
We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough (CP)

 

 

I get quite a few of my entries in the Debt Rattles from my Twitter feed; I follow 193 accounts, let, right, and everything in between.

Now I clearly see the attention in there shifting away from COVID to US politics. Not surprisingly, of course. But what happens in that shift sometimes is. Joe Biden tweeted yesterday that Trump three years ago called neonazis in Charlottesville “very fine people”.

Now, we know that Trump did not do that, it’s a blatant lie, and one which has been well documented, because we know what he did say, word for word. How and why then can Biden make that claim?

Easy: he knows -and his handlers do- that his supporters don’t read or view anything in which this is explained to them. They simply believe Trump said that, because CNN and the NYT say so.

That’s how far the US media landscape – and journalism in general- has sunken. Biden’s tweet:

But here’s what Trump actually said:

And a clip of that:

Even CNN’s Jake Tapper said so. Maybe he can tell his colleagues the truth, refresh their memories?!

 

 

C’mon, get a grip on the numbers already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently this has been available for months. Let’s start ASAP.

COVID-19 Rapid Tests Demo (MedCram)

We’ve received your requests for a brief summary video (to share!) of Dr. Mina’s research and how inexpensive (approx. $1), at-home, COVID-19 tests (results in 15 minutes) could be utilized to dramatically slow the spread of this pandemic (and open up schools etc. in a faster and safer way). Dr. Mina is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health and a core member of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Dr. Mina’s research has demonstrated that the sensitivity (accuracy) of these simple saliva or swab paper antigen tests (the technology already exists) is high enough to detect the vast majority of infectious #COVID19 and could be utilized frequently at home.

At-Home, Rapid Result Testing: 5 Min. Summary with Dr. Mina

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Frozen food? Isn’t that a bit far out?

Puzzling New Zealand Virus Outbreak Grows To 17 Cases (AP)

A puzzling new outbreak of the coronavirus in New Zealand’s largest city grew to 17 cases on Thursday, with officials saying the number will likely increase further. And a lockdown in Auckland designed to extinguish the outbreak could be extended well beyond an initial three days. It was a turnabout from Sunday, when the South Pacific nation of 5 million marked 100 days without any cases of local transmission. For most people, life had long returned to normal as they sat down in packed sports stadiums and restaurants or went to school without the fear of getting infected. The only cases for months had been a handful of returning travelers who have been quarantined at the border. But then earlier this week, health workers discovered four infections in one Auckland household.

The source of the new infections continues to stump officials. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said genome testing has not yet matched the new cluster with any infections that have been caught at the border, although the testing has indicated the strain of the virus may have come from Australia or Britain. Auckland was moved to Alert Level 3 on Wednesday, meaning that non-essential workers are required to stay home and bars, restaurants and most businesses are shut. The rest of the country has moved to Level 2, requiring social distancing. The government is due to make a decision Friday on whether to extend Auckland’s lockdown, which seems increasingly likely given the new cases. The good news for health officials about the latest 13 cases is that they could all be linked through work and family to the initial four cases, meaning there is no evidence yet of a wider community outbreak. Officials say they tested just over 6,000 people on Wednesday.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the outbreak was a reminder of the trickiness of the virus and how easily it can spread. “As with our first outbreak, we do have an expectation that things will get worse before they get better,” Ardern said. “Modeling suggests that we will still see more positive cases. At this stage, though, it’s heartening to see them in one cluster.” Bloomfield said he expected that sooner or later the new cases would be linked to somebody who had arrived in the country with an infection or a worker at a quarantine facility, airport or maritime port. “At the moment we haven’t established a direct connection,” Bloomfield said. “But as we find each case and do that thorough interview and investigation, that will help.” Some of those infected work at an Auckland refrigerated food facility, leading to speculation the virus could have survived from abroad on chilled or frozen food.

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In the US, this will always be about money. The government buys billions worth of “maybe vaccines” whose research it has already paid for. Big Pharma sees the pandemic as a major profit opportunity. And both don’t want some Russian vaccine to spoil their schemes.

Russian Vaccine CEO: US Waging “Major Information Warfare” (ZH)

The global race among multiple nations to be the first to produce a coronavirus vaccine – especially the US, China, and Russia – has sparked not just competition to see who’ll be first, but an information war in the wake of Moscow’s announced breakthrough COVID-19 vaccine this week. The announcement of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya research institute with help from the Russian defense ministry and expected to be available to the Russian public by October almost immediately drew widespread scorn and mockery in the West based on allegations Russia is skipping large-scale clinical trials. One Russian official told CNBC this week the US is waging “major information warfare” against the possibility of a successful Russia-produced vaccine.

Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund – which is backing the Sputnik V vaccine – said in comments Wednesday, “It really divided the world into those countries that think it’s great news … and some of the U.S. media and some U.S. people who actually wage major information warfare on the Russian vaccine.” “We were not expecting anything else, we are not trying to convince the U.S. Our point to the world is that we have this technology, it can be available in your country in November/December if that works with your regulator … [while] people who are very skeptical will not have this vaccine and we wish them good luck in developing theirs,” he added.


Dmitriev claimed further that Russia does plan on sharing its data from the vaccine with the rest of the world, also at a moment World Health Organization officals said they wil move to review the COVID-19 vaccine candidate approved by Russian regulators on Tuesday. The WHO said it will require “a rigorous safety data review” before being available for use among citizens.

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Brilliant. Solves much of the loneliness problem, makes sure peole get books, keeps them in touch. It’s often in the little things that we find most value. Localize. Such approaches simply don’t work nationwide, unless you have a real small nation.

When COVID Closed The Library, Staff Called Every Member Over 70 (G.)

When Melbourne’s Yarra Plenty regional libraries first went into lockdown in March, shut the doors and left the remaining unborrowed books on their shelves, staff were sent home with a phone. “One of the hardest things about lockdown was people being separated from their community,” said Lisa Dempster, Yarra Plenty’s executive manager of public participation. “The library is often a hub for the community, and we identified the most vulnerable cohort of our community would be the elderly.” So the library staff pulled from their database the phone number of every library member over the age of 70 – a total of 8,000 records. Then the librarians started calling those members. All of them.


“We called them to say hi, see how they were doing, and then see if there was anything they needed help with, such as access to services, counselling support, tech help, that kind of thing. We would then refer them to a service that would help them,” said Dempster. “What we’ve found mostly is that people are really up for the chat and love getting that call from the librarian. Some calls go for five minutes and some go for half an hour or more.” Yarra Plenty’s “caring calls” are just one of the ways that libraries around the state have been servicing community needs since the onset of Covid-19 shutdowns. From fine amnesties, to boosting the prominence of digital offerings, to simply putting books in the post, libraries have drastically changed the way they operate to accommodate the massive social changes imposed by governments during the pandemic, often with heartwarming results.

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Gundlach was right: Biden WAS unelectable in March. But then a miracle happened.

Smart Money On Trump To Win In November, Stocks Could Crash – Gundlach (MW)

Joe Biden/Kamala Harris in 2020? Not so fast, according to DoubleLine Capital’s billionaire boss Jeffrey Gundlach, who predicted Donald Trump’s win the 2016 election. ‘Will Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in November? I don’t think so. I’d bet against that. I think the polls are very, very squishy because of the highly toxic political environment in which we live. That’s the so-called “Bond King,” sharing his thoughts on the upcoming election in a webcast this week for DoubleLine’s closed-end funds cited by Bloomberg News.


Harris, he said, won’t likely change that because she’s “a little too charismatic” and her personality “might be a little bit dominant.” Then again, Gundlach didn’t think Biden would win the Democratic nomination, having called him “unelectable” in March. Regardless, there are still “a lot of twists and turns” to come, he added. Biden is still the favorite, according to a RealClear Politics average showing a 7.3-point margin in the polls. His lead is narrower in key battleground states, where he’s up an average of 4.3 points. As for the market, he said he wouldn’t be surprised if stocks revisited their March lows, and, as Bloomberg reported, he forecast gold to keep moving higher.

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They want her voters, not her ideas. And people are surprised at that? Wake up! This thing lasts for 4 days, and she gets one minute of that. What will Kasich get, half an hour? Look at who’s in charge at the DNC. Same old same old.

AOC Only Gets 60 Seconds At DNC To Deliver Pre-Recorded Message (F.)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will only have one minute to speak at the Democratic National Convention next week, Business Insider first reported Wednesday, prompting complaints the party was out of touch with young voters. The DNC will air a 60 second pre-recorded message filmed by AOC in her home. The convention is being held virtually because of the coronavirus, and speakers include former first lady Michelle Obama, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who will deliver a live speech on Thursday, according to Business Insider. Other progressive leaders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are also slated to speak.


It’s unclear if any other speakers are subject to the same time limits [..] Some slammed the Democratic Party for being out-of-touch with young voters, especially considering AOC’s national profile. In addition to AOC’s minute, the DNC speaker lineup has been widely panned by left-leaning activists for including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, while not giving enough time to Latino, progressive and LGBT politicians. Former candidate Andrew Yang said he expected to speak and was disappointed he was not chosen.

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You need to buy just one vote, it must be unanimous.

Romney Blocks Sen. Ron Johnson From Subpoenaing Comey, Brennan (GP)

A Senior Republican Senate source has confirmed to Gateway Pundit that Senator Mitt Romney is leading an effort to block Senator Ron Johnson from subpoenaing James Comey and John Brennan. Johnson, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chair, said during a radio appearance on Wednesday that fellow Republicans were blocking him from subpoenaing the former FBI Director and former CIA Director, among other figures involved in the scandal. “We had a number of my committee members that were highly concerned about how this looks politically,” Johnson told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who pressed the Senator to name the Republicans blocking him. Johnson declined to name names.


Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports that Johnson’s committee said no one is blocking any subpoenas for Comey or Brennan, rather there’s just a desire to exhaust all options to get them to testify voluntarily. However, shortly after Johnson made his claims, a senate source reached out to Gateway Pundit and confirmed that Romney is leading the obstruction. “Romney was for impeachment. He has been against Trump every step of the way. Now he is obstructing going after the leakers and liars who went after Trump,” the senior senate source said. The obstruction claims come despite the fact that the committee gave him the unilateral power to subpoena people earlier this year.

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China doesn’t have a huge amount of dollars left.

China State-Run Banks Quietly Complying With Trump’s Hong Kong Sanctions (ZH)

On the surface, there is a non-stop tide of daily diplomatic drama and escalating jawboning between the US and China which – quite theatrically – will be at each other’s throat at least until the conclusion of the Nov 3 election. However, behind the scenes, one can discern just who has the upper hand. According to Bloomberg, China’s largest state-run banks operating in Hong Kong have taken “tentative steps” to comply with US sanctions imposed on officials in the city, seeking to safeguard their access to crucial dollar funding and overseas networks, and putting their financial future above their patriotic duty to defend questionable Hong Kongers who have fallen in the crossfire.

As a reminder, last week Trump sanctioned Chinese and Hong Kong officials including Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of China’s State Council, and Chris Tang, commissioner of the city’s police for their role in implementing a security law in Hong Kong. The officials will have property and assets in the U.S. frozen; they also will be increasingly frozen by their own financial institutions. China’s bank giants, most of which have operations in the U.S. including Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and China Merchants Bank have turned cautious on opening new accounts for the 11 recently sanctioned HK officials, including Lam, and at least one bank has suspended such activity. To avoid Trump’s ire, at some banks transactions via the U.S. are banned, while compliance must now review and sign off on others that would previously have been immediately processed, Bloomberg sources said.


At the same time, foreign banks operating in Hong Kong such as Citigroup have already taken aggressive steps to suspend accounts or are increasing scrutiny of Hong Kong clients. The quick capitulation by China’s biggest lenders once again underscores how Trump has weaponized the greenback and the ability of the U.S. to use the dollar’s dominance in international transactions as a critical pressure point in the standoff with China. And since China’s state-owned lenders need to preserve their access to global financial markets – with the Yuan years if not decades from even thinking about thinking about becoming a global reserve currency – they have quietly bent the knee to Trump to preserve dollar access at a time when Beijing has leaned on them to prop up the economy from the fallout of the coronavirus.

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WHen your business model falls apart as soon as you must pay decent wages.

Uber May Shut Down In California If Forced To Call Drivers Employees (V.)

Uber may shut down its operations in California, one of its largest markets in the US, if it is forced to classify drivers as employees, the company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on MSNBC Wednesday. Earlier this week, Uber and Lyft were ordered by a California superior court judge to classify their drivers as employees. At issue is the classification of ride-hailing drivers as independent contractors, which Uber and Lyft say most drivers prefer because of the flexibility and ability to set their own hours. But labor unions and elected officials contend this deprives them of traditional benefits like health insurance and workers’ compensation. Both companies have said they would appeal the ruling, which was stayed for 10 days.

But if their appeal fails, Uber may have to close up shop in California, Khosrowshahi said. “If the court doesn’t reconsider, then in California, it’s hard to believe we’ll be able to switch our model to full-time employment quickly,” he told MSNBC. In May, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with city attorneys of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, sued Uber and Lyft, arguing that their drivers were misclassified as independent contractors when they should be employees under the state’s AB5 law that went into effect on January 1st. Becerra later filed a motion for a preliminary injunction that could compel the ride-hailing companies to classify drivers as employees immediately. AB5, which was signed into law last September, enshrines the so-called “ABC test” to determine if someone is a contractor or an employee.


In his ruling in favor of Becerra’s preliminary injunction, Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman said Uber and Lyft’s arguments — that drivers’ work is outside the companies’ usual course of business — “flies in the face of economic reality and common sense.”

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There are valid reasons to investigate 5G, and when the Pentagon surrenders bandwidth at record speed, there are even more such reasons. It’s being treated the same way as glyphosate currently, with people saying there’s no evidence of harm. No, that comes later, which is why you need research now. Precautionary principle.

And no, comments like this don’t help: “Those are precisely the frequencies they used to pull in the ‘virus’ from outer space ! And now they’re selling them off to cover it all up! Or maybe they’ve embedded even worse viruses IN THOSE WAVELENGTHS & will now use apps to infect EVERYONE IN THE WORLD “

Pentagon Gives Up Huge Slice Of Spectrum For 5G (BD)

After a remarkably fast interagency review, the White House today announced a massive transfer of electromagnetic spectrum from military use to commercial 5G. It will be the “fastest transfer of federal spectrum to commercial use in history,” US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios told reporters proudly this afternoon. But, Kratsios and Pentagon CIO Dana Deasy assured reporters ahead of the announcement, the rush won’t compromise military readiness or operations. The 100 megahertz of spectrum runs from 3450 MHz to 3550, so-called mid-band frequencies prized by 5G developers because they allow longer-ranged transmissions than the millimeter-wave spectrum that makes up most of what’s been available in the US so far.

Kratsios and other officials told reporters shortly before this afternoon’s announcement that the move would dramatically expand 5G access for all Americans – fulling a congressional mandate in the 2018 MOBILE NOW Act – and strengthen potential competitors to Chinese giant Huawei in the global market. Currently, Deasy said, “the 3450-3550 mHZ band supports critical DoD radar operations, including high-powered defense radar systems on fixed, mobile, shipboard, and airborne platforms, [including] air defense, missile and gun fire control, counter mortar, bomb scoring [during training exercises], battlefield weapon locations, air traffic control, and range safety.” That’s a wide range of military functions, many with life-or-death significance for either training safety or outright combat. Deasy and other officials didn’t detail how the Defense Department would work this massive transfer.


Their remarks, however, suggested a mix of migrating military radars to other frequencies – a complex and costly process typically funded from a share of the FCC auction – and sharing frequencies with commercial users in specific times and places. The White House formally made the request in April. Roughly 200 technical experts from all four armed services, the Office of Secretary of Defense, and the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy studied the problem for 15 weeks. The FCC, which has already endorsed the plan, will start auctioning the spectrum off in December 2021, Kratsios said, with commercial use beginning “as soon as mid-2022.” That’s as fast as the transfer can possibly go through the FCC’s public rule-making process, officials said. Historically transferring spectrum takes six years or more. ““The timeline that we’re working with is absolutely unprecedented,” one senior administration official told reporters, “and I cannot underscore that enough.”

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I like the line of thinking. Ideas that once were mainstream start to look crazy.

We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough (CP)

Bloodletting was a common medical treatment for nearly 3,000 years. It developed around an idea, originating with Hippocrates and later wildly popular in Europe of the Middle Ages: that an imbalance of the four humours of the body – blood, phlegm, black bile, yellow bile – caused illness. Around 500 years after Hippocrates, Galen declared blood to be the most important humour. These and other ideas driven by surgical experimentation and, often, superstition, led to bleeding the body, ridding it of bad blood, if you like, to save the patient. Leeches were used for bloodletting, including the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis. We will never know how many people lost their lives across 3,000 years to this treatment, how many humans turned corpses, bled to death by the medico-ideological delusions of their doctors.

We do know that King Charles II of England had some 24 ounces of blood taken from him before he died. George Washington’s three doctors drained him of copious amounts of blood (on his own request) to cure him of a throat infection – he died soon after. Covid-19 has given us a brilliant, thorough autopsy of neoliberalism, indeed of capitalism itself. The corpse is on the table, in glaring light, every vein, artery, organ and bone staring us in the face. You can see all the leeches – privatisation, corporate globalism, extreme concentration of wealth, levels of inequality unseen in living memory. The bloodletting approach to social and economic ills that has seen societies drain working people of the basics of decent and dignified human existence.

The 3,000-year-old medical practice reached its peak in Europe in the 19th century. Its discrediting came only with the late 19th and 20th centuries – but the doctrine and practice are still dominant in the disciplines of economics, philosophy, business and society. Some of the most powerful social and economic doctors around the corpse before us, analyse it much the way doctors in say, medieval Europe, did. As the late Alexander Cockburn, founder editor of CounterPunch, once said, when the Middle Ages medicos lost their patient, they probably shook their heads sadly and said: “We didn’t bleed him enough.” Precisely as the World Bank and the IMF have whined for decades that the horrific damage of their shock and awe treatment, of sometimes near-genocidal structural adjustment – was not because their ‘reforms’ went too far, but because their reforms, alas, did not go far enough, indeed were not allowed to, by the rowdy and great unwashed.


Inequality, the ideologically insane argued, was not such a dreadful thing. It promoted competitiveness and individual initiative. And we needed more of those. Inequality is now central to any debate we have on the future of humanity. The rulers know this. For over 20 years now, they’ve been savaging the suggestion that inequality has anything to do with humanity’s problems. Early this millennium, the Brookings Institute warned against this debilitating discussion on inequality. Less than 90 days before Covid-19 swept the world, The Economist magazine, neoliberalism’s Oracle of Delphi, read the chicken entrails before it and ran a bitter cover story: “Inequality Illusions: Why wealth and income gaps are not what they appear.” Could turn out the most famous last words since Tarzan’s – “who greased the grapevine?”

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