Oct 202020
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1965

 

Hunter Biden Story Is Russian Disinfo: Over 50 Former Intel Officials (Pol.)
The Damage Russiagate Has Done (Patrick Lawrence)
DNI: Hunter Biden Laptop Not Part Of Russian Disinformation Campaign (Turley)
MIT: Twitter Ban ‘Nearly Doubled’ Visibility Of Hunter Biden Laptop Story (DW)
Wikipedia Says Hunter Biden Scandal ‘Debunked’ (RT)
American Gothic Horror (Jim Kunstler)
The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead (NR)
Presidential Debate Commission Will Mute Mics During Final Debate (sundance)
The Politics of Restraint (RCW)
DC Lobbyists See Dollar Signs Under Potential Biden Win (ZH)
“Health Is About More Than Controlling The Virus” (Sky)
Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition About Sex Life Will Be Made Public (NYP)

 

 

Scott Adams

 

 

The damage these people are doing to their country is no longer measurable.

If it was the Russians, Biden could simply deny this is true. He hasn’t.

“Former intel officials sharing their “belief” that factual, embarrassing info about a Democrat candidate — which that candidate does not even deny — is all Russia’s fault has all the classic earmarks of a Russiagate disinformation operation.”


“They say they “want to emphasize…that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement” but that are “just…deeply suspicious” that Russia played a “significant role in this case.”

Hunter Biden Story Is Russian Disinfo: Over 50 Former Intel Officials (Pol.)

More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” The letter, signed on Monday, centers around a batch of documents released by the New York Post last week that purport to tie the Democratic nominee to his son Hunter’s business dealings. Under the banner headline “Biden Secret E-mails,” the Post reported it was given a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who said he got it from a Mac shop owner in Delaware who also alerted the FBI.

While the letter’s signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case” and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin’s hand at work. “If we are right,” they added, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.” Nick Shapiro, a former top aide under CIA director John Brennan, provided POLITICO with the letter on Monday. He noted that “the IC leaders who have signed this letter worked for the past four presidents, including Trump. The real power here however is the number of former, working-level IC officers who want the American people to know that once again the Russians are interfering.”

The former Trump administration officials who signed the letter include Russ Travers, who served as National Counterterrorism Center acting director; Glenn Gerstell, the former NSA general counsel; Rick Ledgett, the former deputy NSA director; Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired CIA senior operations officer; and Cynthia Strand, who served as the CIA’s deputy assistant director for global issues. Former CIA directors or acting directors Brennan, Leon Panetta, Gen. Michael Hayden, John McLaughlin and Michael Morell also signed the letter, along with more than three dozen other intelligence veterans. Several of the former officials on the list have endorsed Biden. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said on Monday that the information on Biden’s laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign,” though the FBI is reportedly conducting an ongoing investigation into whether Russia was involved.

[..] “We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement,” the letter reads. But, it continues, “there are a number of factors that make us suspicious of Russian involvement.” “Such an operation would be consistent with Russian objectives, as outlined publicly and recently by the Intelligence Community, to create political chaos in the United States and to deepen political divisions here but also to undermine the candidacy of former Vice President Biden and thereby help the candidacy of President Trump,” the letter reads.

Trump calls media criminal for not reporting on Joe Biden

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Excellent takedown.

The Damage Russiagate Has Done (Patrick Lawrence)

An inhabitant of Twitterland named “Willow Inski” took to the keyboard on Oct. 11, asking why anyone still accepts official accounts of the crucial theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta in the spring of 2016.

Excellently observed, Willow. And at just the right moment. At this point we are amid a frenzy of what Hannah Arendt called “defactualization” in a 1971 essay she titled “Lying in Politics.” Facts are fragile, Arendt astutely observed, because they can so easily be manipulated to produce a desired image. “It is this fragility,” she wrote, “that makes deception so very easy up to a point, and so tempting.”The latest example of this phenom concerns the emails of Hunter Biden, candidate Joe’s errant son, which persuasively incriminate both in very profitable influence-peddling schemes when Papa was Barack Obama’s veep. Nobody denies the facts as published last week in The New York Post, not even Biden père et fils, but the facts are once again mutilated with assertions that it is another case of the Rrrrrrussians spreading disinformation.

This is what we get after four years of the Russia collusion b.s., otherwise known as Russiagate. Anything goes if implicating Russia solves a political problem for the Democrats and keeps the war machine going for the Pentagon and the national security state. It defers the moment — at some point it will come — when the press is exposed for its radically stupid overinvestment in the Russiagate nonsense. The price America has already begun to pay is very high. Willow’s expression of perplexity comes after an especially lively season of revelations as regards what must count as the largest disinformation op in U.S. history. It is now six months since the Russiagate hoax — and I am fine with President Donald Trump’s term for it — began its final crash into a pile of piffle.

While it remains to be seen whether more evidence of political chicanery is coming, what evidence we already have is more than sufficient to identify Russiagate as the probable criminal fraud it was from the start. I am refreshed that Willow Inski, who describes herself as an “attorney, wife, mother, proud American,” sees through this extravagant ruse. And yet, as she notes, a lot of people don’t. A lot of people are “still taking at face value” all the misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies our newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters have purveyed incessantly for the past four years.

Why is a very large question. All possible answers are disturbing. But here is another big one we get to before that: When we consider together all its many consequences, has Russiagate destroyed what remained of American democracy before illiberal liberals, spooks, law enforcement, and the press colluded to erect the dreadful edifice? Your columnist’s answer rests on the most scrupulously precise definition of Russiagate one can manage: What we have witnessed these past four years is an attempted palace coup against a sitting president. Cold comfort it is that the gang that couldn’t shoot straight bungled the job. It has also created a Democratic default position: When wrongdoing by Democrats is credibly exposed, automatically blame Russia. Among much else, that has led to unnecessary tension with a nuclear power. This damage will long stay with us.

[..] In 1787, when he was our new nation’s minister in Paris, Jefferson wrote home to a friend that “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” We are stuck with a government without newspapers now, given the ties our press has consolidated its ties with political and bureaucratic power in the course of imposing the Russiagate ruse upon us. They only look like newspapers now.


Joe Biden, foreground, and son Hunter during inauguration of President Barack Obama, Jan. 20, 2009. (acaben, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

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Ratcliffe calls Schiff a liar.

DNI: Hunter Biden Laptop Not Part Of Russian Disinformation Campaign (Turley)

Recently, we discussed how House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff stated publicly that the recently disclosed laptop information from Hunter Biden was clearly part of a Russian intelligence operation. This morning, John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence, stated categorically that Hunter Biden’s laptop was not part of a Russian disinformation campaign. What is most notable is that Ratcliffe has stated that Schiff and his Committee were given that conclusion by the intelligence community. The incident has raised lingering criticism of Schiff who previously told the public that he had clear evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia after that allegation was rejected in repeated investigations, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Schiff never produced the incriminating evidence and later it was shown that the widely cited Steele dossier was based on a source who was considered to be a Russian agent. There is ample reason to suspicious about the timing of this disclosure. However, I have written that this serious concern is separate from the question of whether the emails are fabricated. The Biden campaign has not given the most obvious responses to such a scandal. It is important to keep in mind that Hillary Clinton and the DNC were actually hacked by Russian intelligence but the underlying emails were true. Schiff now finds himself, again, in the position of supporting a claim of evidence of Russian collusion. He will have to show that this laptop discovery was engineered by Russian intelligence. If the owner is speaking the truth, the computer was dropped off in April 2019 with the intent to be used in the 2020 campaign.

Ratcliffe stated in an interview that “it’s funny that some of the people that complained the most about intelligence being politicized are the ones politicizing intelligence and unfortunately in this case, it is Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who as you pointed out on Friday said that the intelligence community believes that Hunter Biden’s laptop and e-mails on it are part of some Russian disinformation campaign. Let me be clear, the intelligence community doesn’t believe that because there is no intelligence that supports and we shared no intelligence with chairman Schiff or any other member of Congress that Hunter Biden’s laptop is part of some Russian disinformation campaign. It’s simply not true.”

Ratcliffe accused Schiff of politicizing intelligence and stated “Don’t drag the intelligence community into this. Hunter Biden’s laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign and I think it’s clear the American people know that.” Schiff should explain the basis for his conclusion that this is part of a Russian disinformation campaign. Someone is clearly misrepresenting the intelligence and the public should know the basis for these irreconcilable statements.

Trump dumb bastards

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Streisand.

MIT: Twitter Ban ‘Nearly Doubled’ Visibility Of Hunter Biden Laptop Story (DW)

Twitter’s crackdown on a controversial New York Post story that “purported to show new emails from Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, about his business dealings while Joe Biden was the vice president in the Obama administration,” “nearly doubled” the story’s visibility and triggered the so-called “Streisand Effect,” amplifying the Post’s claims, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a high-profile media intelligence firm. “When Twitter banned, and then unbanned, links to a questionably sourced New York Post article about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, its stated intention was to prevent people from spreading harmful false material as America heads into the final stretch of the election campaign,” MIT’s Technology Review reported Monday.

“But thanks to the cycle of misinformation—and claims from conservatives that social-media platforms are deliberately censoring their views—Twitter managed to do the opposite of what it intended.” In fact, Twitter’s efforts triggered a massive spike in interest in the story. “According to Zignal Labs, a media intelligence firm, shares of the Post article ‘nearly doubled’ after Twitter started suppressing it,” MIT noted. The incident was a real-time example of what Zignal Lab’s calls the “Streisand Effect” — a “social phenomenon that occurs when an attempt to hide, remove or censor information has the unintended consequence of further publicizing that information, often via the Internet,” according to Wikipedia. The name comes from singer Barbra Streisand’s efforts, in 2003, to suppress a photo of her Malibu, California, residence over security concerns.

According to Zignal Labs, the effect was immediate and significant. “Zignal found a surge of shares immediately after Twitter instituted the block, jumping from about 5.5 thousand shares every 15 minutes to about 10 thousand. This doesn’t necessarily mean the block caused the explosion in interest, but the surge corresponds with a series of widely shared tweets from Trump supporters and conservatives accusing the platform of political censorship,” MIT noted Monday. “The New York Post story, which was blocked on Twitter for about a day, was shared 352,200 times on the platform,” they added.

Dobbs, Powell, Fitton, Solomon

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How you get your information.

Wikipedia Says Hunter Biden Scandal ‘Debunked’ (RT)

Allegations of corruption against ex-Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter have apparently been “debunked” and are merely a “conspiracy theory” according to Wikipedia, where editors are battling over the terms.
Hunter Biden was the subject of an explosive report last week as the New York Post published emails alleging that he involved his father in dodgy business dealings in Ukraine and China. While the story is still unfolding, the Wikipedia page for Hunter Biden simply states that “he and his father have been the subjects of debunked right-wing conspiracy theories pushed by [President] Donald Trump and his allies.” The curious framing was highlighted by conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong on Twitter on Tuesday.

Eight sources are listed for this one sentence, intending to support the view that any accusations of corruption against the Democratic presidential candidate and his son have already been proven false. In recent days, Wikipedia editors have been engaged in regular spats about the inclusion of the word “debunked.” The eighth source was added on Sunday by a frequent contributor to Biden’s son’s page, whose username is ‘Soibangla’. A regular editor of American political topics on Wikipedia, Soibangla was previously found tweaking pedophile sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s page, specifically to note that there is “no evidence” that he and former President Bill Clinton were “friends” – despite the ex-commander-in-chief traveling on the disgraced financier’s plane 26 times, according to flight logs.

Curiously, the same Soibangla is one of the top authors on a new Wikipedia page titled, ‘Biden–Ukraine conspiracy theory’. The page was created on October 15, the day after the Post published Hunter’s alleged email history. The article calls the controversy “a series of false allegations” and references an almost identical list of eight sources to back it up. A war over Hunter Biden’s page has been raging since December 2019, when the word ‘debunked’ was initially added in reference to the scandal involving the former VP’s role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who said he was investigating the Burisma gas company where Hunter sat on the board.

It kicked off again on September 30, when user ‘Php2000’ removed ‘debunked’, noting that “Sources state [Hunter Biden] was making 50,000 USD a month as a board member in Ukraine gas company. Hardly ‘debunked.’” Just two minutes later, according to the website’s timeline, editor ‘Billmckern’ reverted the change, adding, “it’s been debunked and we have consensus language here.” Php2000 once again deleted the word, explaining that Hunter Biden making a lot of money in Ukraine was a well-documented fact. “What exactly has been debunked?” they asked. “Read the references,” wrote Billmckern a mere four minutes later, once again restoring the controversial phrasing.

Veritas Big Tech

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“..trailing rather pathetically in the primary elections after being dubbed an old racist by his opponents, and drubbed in Iowa and New Hampshire, Joe somehow managed to sweep the table on Super Tuesday..”

American Gothic Horror (Jim Kunstler)

Now we know why Nancy Pelosi has been running around in a fright mask with her hair on fire, and it’s not just a ghoulish anticipation of Halloween. Her Democratic Party is in extremis. It is shot through with the cancer of falsehood and the wormholes of crime, acquired through decades of playing fast and loose with the machinery of government. Nancy has been informed and she remains stuck in the rage stage of the grief cycle. Somebody sent her a copy of that hard-drive. The thing she feared would not end well is actually turning out worse than she thought. I have a theory about Joe Biden: He didn’t want to run for president. Not one eensy-weensy bit.

He wanted a nice, quiet retirement with his fat government pension plus sundry millions that had somehow found its way into his bank account over the years. He had a fabulous $16-million gentleman’s estate to gambol upon with his beloved grandchildren. The developing brain-fog was actually a comfort, allowing him to forget the rigors of public service and all the tedious gathering of… honoraria, shall we say. But then they came for him…! The Party called. Rather specifically, his old Kemosabe, Barack Obama, called him in for that ominous sit-down and gave him the bad news: Joe, you’ve gotta run. Bernie, Liz, and the rest of those bozos, they won’t keep a lid on it. You’re in this thing as deep as we are and it’s getting a little hairy. You’ve got to do it for the sake of the party, and all our… friends….

And so, Joe Biden was shanghaied into running for president. He was given a bodyguard of news media, including those crucial new additions, the social media, Twitter and Facebook, where, increasingly, information was hubbed for transmission among the voters. They would protect him infallibly from any damaging narratives. In fact, they would generate powerful counter-narratives to keep their adversaries off-balance. If Joe could just roll with it until November 3rd, they could lay all their… problems… to rest, bury all that annoying insinuendo about the hobgoblin Deep State (ha!), and finally breathe easy.

And so, trailing rather pathetically in the primary elections after being dubbed an old racist by his opponents, and drubbed in Iowa and New Hampshire, Joe somehow managed to sweep the table on Super Tuesday — apparently due to the single, magical endorsement of one congressman James Clyburn (SC, 6th District), a narrative that was swallowed like a May River oyster by the credulous all over the land. And thus anointed, Joe retreated to his fabled basement for the whole election season, venturing intermittently into empty parking lots and airplane hangars to offer proof-of-life while a polling disinfo campaign by his media bodyguard vouchsafed his inevitable victory. Looked like a sure thing in September… pack up all my cares and woe… and so forth….

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The pic is on Wisconsin only.

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead (NR)

Much of Trafalgar’s approach focuses on accounting for the so-called social-desirability bias. As Cahaly puts it, that’s when a respondent gives you “an answer that is designed to make the person asking the question be less judgmental of the person who answers it.” Cahaly notes that this phenomenon showed up as long ago as the 1980s, in the so-called Bradley effect, when the African-American mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, underperformed his polling in a gubernatorial race. It has been a hallmark of the Trump era and is one reason other pollsters missed the impending victory of Ron DeSantis over Andrew Gillum in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race. “I’ve got to get past what you want to say in public and get to what you really feel,” Cahaly says. “Because what’s in your heart is going to be what’s on that ballot.”

There are a number of methodological differences in how Trafalgar goes about its work. One is the number of questions on its surveys. “I don’t believe in long questionnaires,” Cahaly says. “I think when you’re calling up Mom or Dad on a school night, and they’re trying to get the kids dinner and get them to bed, and that phone rings at seven o’clock — and they’re supposed to stop what they’re doing and take a 25- to 30-question poll? No way.” Why does that matter? “You end up disproportionately representing the people who will like to talk about politics, which is going to skew toward the very, very conservative and the very, very liberal and the very, very bored, “Cahaly explains. “And the kind of people that win elections are the people in the middle. So I think they miss people in the middle when they do things that way.”

According to Cahaly, most polls are more than 25 questions. He keeps it between seven and nine, so respondents can answer in a matter of minutes. Then there is how the questions are asked. “We do not like to do all live calls,” Cahaly says. This goes back to the social-desirability bias. People with opinions that are unpopular “don’t want to be judged by somebody on the phone that they don’t know.” If this was always true, it’s particularly so now: “They’ve seen all this stuff of people being shamed for their opinion, people losing their jobs.” So Trafalgar mixes up how it contacts people, and especially wants respondents to feel safe in responding.

“We use collection methods of live calls, auto calls, texts, emails, and a couple that we call our proprietary digital technology that we don’t explain, but it’s also digital,” Cahaly says. The point, he continues, is to “really push the anonymous part — this is your anonymous say-so.” Another factor, is that “conservatives are less likely to participate in polls in general,” he says. “We see a five-to-one refusal rate among conservatives.” That means “you’ve got to work very hard to get a fair representation of conservatives, when you do any kind of a survey.”

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So Joe can read his teleprompter and listen to his wires in peace.

Presidential Debate Commission Will Mute Mics During Final Debate (sundance)

In yet another transparent effort to support Joe Biden, the presidential debate commission has announced they will mute microphones during the two minute answer sessions as part of a strategy to assist the promotion of disinformation. (Via New York Post) “The Commission on Presidential Debates has decided to mute microphones to allow each candidate the opportunity for uninterrupted remarks during this week’s final forum. The mute button will be featured at the start of each 15-minute segment during opening comments, according to the commission. After that time, both mics will be turned on without a mute option to enable debate.” The Trump campaign responds:

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Feels like wishful thinking.

The Politics of Restraint (RCW)

During this election season, there is much discussion around the increasing polarization of the American electorate. While these conversations can seem overwrought, there is clear data showing an increasing divide on issues like race relations and the economy. However, on foreign policy, the American people are more united. There is an increasingly shared belief across party lines that the United States needs to end its endless wars and adventurism abroad. Based on a bevy of recent polls and research, American voters will likely reward candidates who support foreign policy restraint, while punishing those who advocate for the maintenance of a failed status quo.

For most of the post-9/11 era, the conventional wisdom reinforced by the political pundits and the consultant class was that foreign policy hawkishness was a political strength. Even politicians such as President Barack Obama, who owed part of his political success to opposing the Iraq War, still felt the need to show hawkishness regarding other military conflicts. The perceived political incentives contributed to Obama ignoring the lessons of the Iraq War and initiating the disastrous intervention in Libya in 2011, along with the failed surge of American forces in Afghanistan from 2009-2012. A lack of significant political accountability by Republicans — who only seemed to try to “out-hawk” Obama — in the 2012 election for these failures reinforced the notion that support for primacy abroad was the politically safe position.

That conventional wisdom reigned into the early days of the 2016 election, but was shattered by two candidates, one during each major party’s primaries. In the Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders gave the presumptive nominee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an unexpectedly strong challenge. Sanders has been a consistent critic of American foreign policy in the Middle East, while Clinton supported the Iraq War and the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. While Sanders did not make foreign policy the centerpiece of his campaign in 2016, his record on those issues further strengthened his appeal with the progressive left, which is traditionally wary of military intervention.

More so than Sanders, Donald Trump completely upended the conventional wisdom around what a candidate needed to say on foreign policy to win. During the 2016 Republican primary, Trump frequently and aggressively criticized America’s wars in the Middle East. During a primary debate in South Carolina, Trump excoriated former President George W. Bush for invading Iraq, and for his administration’s lies about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Prominent Republican pundits criticized Trump’s remarks and claimed that his comments would hurt his chances in South Carolina, a state heavily populated by military service members and veterans who were thought to be more hawkish.

Yet Trump easily won the South Carolina primary and the Republican nomination. During the general election, while by no means portraying himself as a dove, Trump would continue his criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while tying Clinton to America’s broader failures in the Middle East. This messaging likely played a key role in Trump’s 2016 general election victory. According to research conducted by two political scientists following the 2016 election, Trump’s perception as the less interventionist candidate among voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin likely drove his victory in those critical states.

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They’ll win either way.

DC Lobbyists See Dollar Signs Under Potential Biden Win (ZH)

DC lobbyists are licking their chops at the prospect of a Biden win in November, as a flood of new regulations means they’ll have their work cut out for them. “There is a huge amount of planning going on in our client base for what this could look like,” according to Holland & Knight LLP lobbyist, Rich Gold. “It’s highly likely the first six months of 2021 are some of the biggest legislative months I will have in my career in terms of things moving.” Gold represents the American Chemistry Council, education technology provider Zovio, Inc., agriculture giant Corteva and several local governments. According to Bloomberg, K Street lobbyists began planning for major changes when polling began to show former Vice President Biden leading President Trump, as well as the possibility that Democrats would regain control of the Senate.

“Not since 2008, when President George W. Bush was leaving the White House, have lobbyists planned for the possibility of so sweeping a change in Washington’s corridors of power,” writes Bloomberg’s Jennifer Dlouhy and Ben Brody. “The presidential race remains tight in key states and the firms remain vigilant for another Trump victory like the one that caught many by surprise in 2016. But they are hedging their bets and increasingly planning around Biden’s polling lead. One firm is developing dossiers on potential appointees, selling them to clients under the maxim “people are policy.” Another has created flow charts outlining possible committee leadership changes on Capitol Hill. And at least one group has established a war room to brainstorm strategies for countering policy proposals. -Bloomberg

One oil lobbyist told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity that the election would be a “rack-and-stack” exercise when it comes to the multitude of actions the Biden administration could undertake, while a Democratic sweep of the Senate has caused many lobbyists to begin cultivating relationships with moderate Democrats, including Jon Tester of Montana, Kyrsten Sinema of Zrizona, and Joe Machin of West Virginia.

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Headline was about hospitals running out of beds, but the numbers cast doubt on that. The headline I gave is from the mayor of Manchester.

“It’s not unusual for 80% to 85% of ICU beds to be in use at this time of year..” “.. the NHS usually say they’re “at capacity” when they hit 85%, not 100% of beds filled.”

“Health Is About More Than Controlling The Virus” (Sky)

Stalemate seems to remain in negotiations about tougher restrictions for Greater Manchester, as hospitals in the region run low on beds to treat coronavirus patients. [..] data from the Greater Manchester Critical Care Network (GMCCN) suggested some of the region’s 12 hospitals were running out of space on Friday. It also showed the Royal Bolton Hospital was running at 94% capacity .The figures show hospitals across Greater Manchester are operating at an average of 82% capacity. The NHS said in a statement: “We are monitoring the situation with our hospital admissions, overall beds and ITU beds very, very closely.


The figures showed the Stepping Hill Hospital and the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust were operating at full capacity.”It’s not unusual for 80% to 85% of ICU beds to be in use at this time of year and our hospitals work together if there are particular pressures in any one area, to ensure the best care for patients who need the high level of support ICU provides, both for COVID and for other reasons.” A source at the GMCCN told Sky News the NHS usually say they’re “at capacity” when they hit 85%, not 100% of beds filled.

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Will they still label her a “socialite” after reading this, or will she get a new label?

Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition About Sex Life Will Be Made Public (NYP)

A federal appeals court Monday ordered the unsealing of a deposition related to Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex life — after the defense fought tooth and nail to keep it secret. A three-judge panel from the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals issued the brief, two-page ruling after hearing arguments on the matter last week. “We cannot conclude that the District Court abused its discretion in ordering the unsealing of the deposition materials,” the panel wrote. It’s unclear when the documents will be released. The seven-hour, 418-page deposition is from testimony Maxwell gave in April 2016 in a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit filed against her by Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre. In the interview, Maxwell made statements about “consensual, and intimate conduct with other adults,” according to court papers. US District Judge Loretta Preska, who is overseeing the litigation over the release of the materials, had ordered the documents unsealed in July, but Maxwell’s lawyers had appealed the decision.

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Ted Cruz

 

 

 

 

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Aug 312020
 


Bruce Davidson Iran 1964

 

Japanese Wear Face Masks, But The Main Reason Is Just To Fit In (Asahi)
US Floats Idea Of Early Approval For Eventual COVID19 Vaccine (ST)
Moderna Neglected To Disclose Pentagon’s Financial Support (ZH)
On Election Night, We Might Not Know Who Won (Mish)
Trump Approval Rises Among Black, Hispanic Voters (Hill)
DNI Ratcliffe Declassifying More Russia-Collusion, Media-Leak Documents (ZH)
China’s Mega Banks Lost Billions Of Dollars In Profit As Bad Loans Rise (CNBC)
Erdogan Criticizes Greece As Turkey Marks 1922 Victory (K.)
Assange Travesty Continues (Craig Murray)
Rampant Destruction Of Forests ‘Will Unleash More Pandemics’ (O.)

 

 

US new daily cases look promising, but total cases passed 6 million cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upward mobility

 

 

Seeing all those people walk outside with masks on, makes me wonder why we can’t inform them better. Wouldn’t that benefit everyone? If they get that wrong, what else don’t they understand?

Japanese Wear Face Masks, But The Main Reason Is Just To Fit In (Asahi)

Japanese people have taken to wearing face masks during the pandemic, but the main reason for doing so has more to do with going along with others than preventing the coronavirus from spreading, a new study says. Peer pressure emerged as the dominant factor for wearing face masks amid the health crisis in Japan, according to the results of a survey administered by academics. A research group headed by Kazuya Nakayachi, a professor at Doshisha University’s Faculty of Psychology, published its findings in the Swiss scientific journal Frontiers in Psychology on Aug. 4. “Wearing masks is recommended to stop the virus from spreading to others, but our research suggests wearers rarely use masks for that purpose,” Nakayachi said.


“Most of them simply want to don masks just because others do.” The researchers surveyed 1,000 Japanese citizens online in March about how often and why they wear face coverings. The survey found that most people wear the protective gear, even though masks offer the wearers themselves limited protection. The results show a majority of respondents, or 51.2 percent, said they “usually” wear masks amid the pandemic, followed by 31.4 percent who said they “sometimes” wear them. Only 17.4 percent said they do “not at all” wear masks.

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Promises, promises.

US Floats Idea Of Early Approval For Eventual COVID19 Vaccine (ST)

The head of the US Food and Drug Administration raised the possibility in an interview published on Sunday (Aug 30) that a future vaccine against the coronavirus might be given emergency approval before the end of trials designed to ensure its safety and effectiveness. A request for such extraordinary approval would have to come from the vaccine developer, Stephen Hahn told the Financial Times. “If they do that before the end of Phase Three,” which involves large-scale human testing, “we may find that appropriate. We may find that inappropriate, we will make a determination.” But Hahn insisted he was not acting under pressure from President Donald Trump, who has been pushing hard for a vaccine, saying one might be ready before the Nov 3 elections.


“This is going to be a science, medicine, data decision,” Hahn said. “This is not going to be a political decision.” Three Western drugs makers are well along with their Phase 3 clinical trials, involving tens of thousands of participants. The three are AstraZeneca, which is partnering with Oxford University in England; Moderna, collaborating with the US National Institutes of Health, and the Pfizer/BioNTech alliance. By the nature of the trials it is difficult to predict when reliable results will emerge.

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I think this is what we would call a racket.

Moderna Neglected To Disclose Pentagon’s Financial Support (ZH)

Before the mainstream media transfigures Moderna founder and CEO Stephane Bancel into a corporate savior on par with Bill Gates, we’d like to remind investors (and the public) that Moderna and its insiders have demonstrated an eyebrow-raising affinity for pumping the stock with over-hyped press releases then cashing in shares or warrants (all insider stock sales were pre-scheduled divestitures, the insiders’ lawyers have argued). Despite receiving nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money via “Operation Warp Speed”, the drugmaker is planning to charge as much as $37 for a single dose, or up to $60 for two courses, of its experimental mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. That’s far and away the highest price point disclosed yet.

And while we wait for more detailed data from the vaccine’s Phase 3 clinical trials, patent advocacy group KEI is taking Moderna and its executives to task for neglecting to disclose government funding received by the company during its early stages, before the coronavirus pandemic. Despite receiving $25 million from the Department of Defense’s “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency” – or “Darpa” – Moderna has never disclosed this, or any other, government funding in its applications for 126 patents and 154 patent applications. KEI has lodged a request with the DoD and Darpa to remedy this in patents.

As KEI points out, Moderna’s “failure” to disclose its government funding could have serious consequences for Americans hoping to get their hands on an affordable vaccine. The disclosures could affect everything from the US government’s worldwide royalty free license, to the public’s march-in rights, to obligations to make inventions available to the public on reasonable terms. When approached by the FT, Darpa confirmed that Moderna was required in its contracts to disclose the funding in any patent applications that stemmed from research that the US government helped fund.

Now, Darpa is actively looking into which Moderna patents may have been produced with Darpa support, so the US government can take credit where credit is due. “It appears that all past and present Darpa awards to Moderna include the requirement to report the role of government-funding for related inventions,” Darpa spokesman Jared Adams said in an emailed response to the Financial Times. “Further, Darpa is actively researching agency awards to Moderna to identify which patents and pending patents, if any at all, may be associated with Darpa support,” he said. Mr Adams declined to comment further, saying the investigation was continuing. US federal law required government funding to be disclosed in these circumstances, he noted.

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Because Trump voters vote in person and Dems don’t, on election night itself it may look like a large Trump victory. But then….

I’m not sure why Mish says: “Prepare for Trump to Claim Biden Stole the Election”. Is that more likely than Biden making that claim about Trump?

On Election Night, We Might Not Know Who Won (Mish)

An NBC/WSJ Poll on expected mail-in votes might cause some very misleading if not totally inaccurate reporting on who is in the lead depending on when mail-in votes get counted: “Supporters of Democratic candidate Joe Biden are significantly more likely than Trump backers to say they plan to vote by mail. Nearly half – 47 percent – say they plan to mail in their ballot, with an additional 21 percent saying they will cast a vote before Election Day at an early in-person voting site. Only about a quarter of Biden voters, 26 percent, plan to vote on Election Day at a polling place. In contrast, two-thirds of Trump’s voters — 66 percent — say they will vote in person on Election Day. Just 11 percent say they plan to vote by mail, and 20 percent say they will vote early in person”.

Due to the above, FiveThirtyEight notes the Consequences Might Be Weird: “If this holds, it would mean votes cast on Election Day would skew heavily toward Trump, and votes cast by mail would skew heavily toward Biden. This has serious implications for … well, democracy. First, Trump could argue the mail ballots (which, remember, could account for most of Biden’s votes) were fraudulent and thus should not be counted. Although it’s unlikely they’d actually be thrown out, this would damage the credibility of the election in the eyes of many Trump supporters. Second, it could mean the first votes counted on election night will be disproportionately good for Trump, who might claim victory based on incomplete returns. It might not be until days later, after a good chunk of the Democratic-leaning mail vote is counted, that Biden pulls ahead.

Let’s do a quick-and-dirty exercise to show what I mean. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll overall, Biden led Trump by 9 percentage points among registered voters. But Biden led Trump by 63 points (!) among voters who planned to vote by mail, and Trump led Biden by 33 points among voters who planned to vote in person on Election Day. If this kind of partisan split occurred in every state, Biden would win the mail vote in all 50 states — from Alabama to Wyoming — and Trump would win the Election Day vote in all 50.”

The above scenario in all 50 states isn’t likely, but it is likely in some states. The election day results could easily swing Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and that could swing the election night apparent winner. Trump will howl and his supporters will believe him. Some of my friends believe Trump will refuse to stand down, but I am sure it would not come to that. A bluff in that direction, however, is another matter. Chaos could last for days or even weeks in such a scenario with severe consequences on the stock market as well as potential riots which Trump would then try to pin on Biden.

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Shift.

Trump Approval Rises Among Black, Hispanic Voters (Hill)

President Trump’s support among black voters rose 9 percentage points amid the Republican National Convention, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds. Twenty-four percent of registered black voters in the Aug. 22-25 survey, which included the first two days of the convention, said they approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 76 percent said they disapprove. That is up 9 points from the previous survey conducted Aug. 8-11, where the President received 15 percent support among this group. The survey found support among Hispanic voters also grew by 2 percentage points, from 30 percent in the last poll to 32 percent in this most recent survey. Forty-four percent of overall registered voters in the Aug. 22-25 survey approved of Trump’s job as president, a 1 percentage point dip from the last poll.


Eighty-two percent of Republican voters approve of Trump, a 1 point increase from the last poll, while 18 percent disapprove. Eighty-seven percent of Democratic voters disapprove of Trump along with 64 percent of independent voters. The survey found the president remains underwater with suburban voters and urban voters, at 42 percent support each. His support remains steady among rural voters, at 53 percent. Thursday, Trump officially accepted the 2020 Republican presidential nomination during the last night of the RNC. The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted online among 2,861 registered voters between Aug. 22-25. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.83 percentage points.

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Leaking secret docs to the press has become far too normal.

DNI Ratcliffe Declassifying More Russia-Collusion, Media-Leak Documents (ZH)

John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, told Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that he has been coordinating with US Attorney John Durham and plans to soon declassify more documents related to the Trump-Russia probe. “I pledged to a bipartisan group of senators that I would look at all of the underlying intelligence surrounding the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s interference and this idea of Trump-Russia collusion, but I’m not going to prejudice John Durham’s work in connection with that, so we’ve had to coordinate with his office about the timing of that. But I’m optimistic that I’ll be declassifying additional documents soon.”

As a reminder, Durham, the US attorney for Connecticut, is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into several aspects of the Obama administration’s surveillance activities against Trump associates. Ratcliffe went on, referring to Durham’s review of the investigation: “He’s looking at the same documents that I am,” “He’s not sharing his findings or the work that he’s doing. But I’m coordinating with him to make sure that he has the intelligence documents that he needs to do his work. And what I don’t want to do is declassify something that might prejudice his work. So we’re going to have to coordinate as we go forward with the completion of his work with my ability to declassify documents.”

Additionally, Ratcliffe, said Sunday he has filed multiple “crimes reports” regarding alleged leaks of classified information to the media. “When I become aware of intelligence community information that is disclosed unlawfully, I do what’s called a crimes report. I’ve done that now on a number of occasions, and so those investigations are moving forward.” He said that the leaks were “for political purposes” to create what he said is a false narrative “that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China.”

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“The brunt of the asset quality pressures might not have come through yet because of the still existing moratorium on the repayment of loans as well as its interest payments..”

China’s Mega Banks Lost Billions Of Dollars In Profit As Bad Loans Rise (CNBC)

China’s five largest banks reported their biggest profit declines in at least a decade as they brace for further increases in bad loans in an economy weakened by the coronavirus pandemic. The five lenders — Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and Bank of Communications — released their latest financial report cards last week. All five posted at least 10% year-on-year declines in profit for the first half of 2020 as they set aside more funds for potential loan losses in the coming months — much like many banks around the world. “The banks have been asked to … perform ‘national service.’

They’ve been asked to support the economy at the expense of their own operational strength,” said Jason Tan, research analyst at CreditSights, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday. Chinese banks, among the world’s largest by assets, have been placed at the front line of the government’s effort to soften the economic blow on households and businesses. Authorities in Beijing reportedly asked financial institutions to sacrifice 1.5 trillion yuan ($219 billion) in profits this year to help companies by lowering lending rates and deferring repayments on loans. The Chinese economy — the world’s second largest — is expected to grow just 1% this year as measures to contain the coronavirus hit global economic activity, according to the IMF.


That would be China’s weakest growth in at least 40 years, according to data by the fund. China, the first country to be hit by the fast-spreading coronavirus, has shown some signs of economic recovery. But the effect of the economic slowdown on banks have not materialized fully, said Tan. “The brunt of the asset quality pressures might not have come through yet because of the still existing moratorium on the repayment of loans as well as its interest payments,” he explained. “So, these will probably come in the second half, if not in the first half of 2021 when the moratorium lifts in March 2021,” he added.

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Are Merkel and the EU just waiting for the shooting to start? Ironic that Erdogan ignored, if not insulted, Kemal Ataturk when he made the Hagia Sophia a mosque, but now lays a wreath at his tomb.

Erdogan Criticizes Greece As Turkey Marks 1922 Victory (K.)

Turkey marked the 98th anniversary of the decisive War of Independence battle against Greek forces Sunday as the threat of a new conflict with Athens looms in the eastern Mediterranean. “Turkey’s struggle for independence and future continues today as well,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a message to commemorate Victory Day. “It is absolutely not a coincidence that those who seek to exclude us from the eastern Mediterranean are the same invaders as the ones who attempted to invade our homeland a century ago.” In recent weeks, Turkish and Greek forces have engaged in a series of cat-and-mouse military exercises in the seas between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete.

The confrontation was sparked when Turkey sent a research vessel accompanied by warships to search for gas and oil reserves. Greece, a member of the European Union, claims the waters are part of its continental shelf and has enlisted the support of the 27-nation bloc, which has condemned Turkey’s “illegal activities” and warned of potential sanctions against Ankara. Turkey says Greece and others are denying its rights to explore for energy resources in the Mediterranean. Greece and Cyprus have recently been joined by France, Italy and the United Arab Emirates in carrying out naval and aerial war games in the region. On Saturday, Turkey began its own military maneuvers until Sept. 11 off its southern coast.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry also released cockpit footage of what it said were Turkish jets in mock dogfights with Greek F-16s between Crete and Cyprus. “No one should have any doubts about our resolve in this matter and our unshakeable belief in victory,” Erdogan said. In an interview with broadcaster AHaber on Saturday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Greece extending its territorial waters from six to 12 nautical miles would be a “cause for war.” Earlier this week, Athens announced plans to extend its maritime border with Italy to 12 nautical miles. Erdogan laid a wreath at the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Ankara later Sunday. Ataturk led the Turkish troops in the independence struggle following World War I and went on to establish modern Turkey.

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Cancel culture wherever you look.

Assange Travesty Continues (Craig Murray)

The travesty that is Julian Assange’s extradition hearing resumes fully on 7 September at the Old Bailey. I shall be abandoning my own legal team and going down to London to cover it again in full, for an expected three weeks. How this is going to work at the Old Bailey, I do not know. Covid restrictions presumably mean that the numbers in the public gallery will be tiny. As of now, there is no arrangement for Julian’s friends and family in place. It looks like 4am queuing is in prospect. By 7 September it will be six months since I applied to resume my membership of the National Union of Journalists. I STILL have not the slightest idea who objected, or what the grounds were for objection. I have not heard from the NUJ for months.

A senior official of an international journalists’ organisation has told us that he inquired, and learnt that the NUJ national executive has considered my application and set up a sub-committee to report. But if so, why is this secret, why have I not been informed, and why am I not allowed to know what the objection is? I find this all very sinister. At this stage it is not paranoid to wonder whose hand is behind this. The practical effect of this is that without NUJ membership I cannot access a Press card, and avail myself of whatever media arrangements are in place for the Assange hearing (just as I was kept out of most of the Salmond trial). I have now reached the stage where I would like to take legal action against the NUJ, but the finances are beyond me.

I am not going to ask you to donate because we are going to need all our resources for the contempt case against me, which the Crown drags out. I shall be writing next week about my own case and that hearing earlier this week. I would just note now that the “virtual hearing” is entirely unsatisfactory and unfair on defendants. There was at least one occasion when my QC agreed with a suggestion of the judge when I would have instructed them not to had I been, as I should normally have been, seated near them in court and able to instruct.

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Yes, forest destruction is terrible, but you can’t link it to COVID19, because we don’t know where it comes from. You’re just destroying a perfectly viable argument.

Rampant Destruction Of Forests ‘Will Unleash More Pandemics’ (O.)

Scientists are to warn world leaders that increasing numbers of deadly new pandemics will afflict the planet if levels of deforestation and biodiversity loss continue at their current catastrophic rates. A UN summit on biodiversity, scheduled to be held in New York next month, will be told by conservationists and biologists there is now clear evidence of a strong link between environmental destruction and the increased emergence of deadly new diseases such as Covid-19. Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of farming and the building of mines in remote regions – as well as the exploitation of wild animals as sources of food, traditional medicines and exotic pets – are creating a “perfect storm” for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people, delegates will be told.


Almost a third of all emerging diseases have originated through the process of land use change, it is claimed. As a result, five or six new epidemics a year could soon affect Earth’s population. “There are now a whole raft of activities – illegal logging, clearing and mining – with associated international trades in bushmeat and exotic pets that have created this crisis,” said Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation at Duke University. “In the case of Covid-19, it has cost the world trillions of dollars and already killed almost a million people, so clearly urgent action is needed.” It is estimated that tens of millions of hectares of rainforest and other wild environments are being bulldozed every year to cultivate palm trees, farm cattle, extract oil and provide access to mines and mineral deposits. This leads to the widespread destruction of vegetation and wildlife that are hosts to countless species of viruses and bacteria, most unknown to science. Those microbes can then accidentally infect new hosts, such as humans and domestic livestock.

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Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 


All good things are wild and free.

– Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 302020
 


Pablo Picasso Girl Before A Mirror 1932

 

Rapid Home COVID19 Tests Could Help Find People While They Are Contagious (NP)
DNI Ratcliffe: Election Security Briefings Will Now Come In Written Form (JTN)
3/4 of Democratic Voters Still Believe Trump Campaign Colluded With Russia (JTN)
Will Hillary And The Dems Get The Civil War They Are Trying To Provoke? (Saker)
Michael Moore Warns That Donald Trump Is On Course To Repeat 2016 Win (G.)
Steele Associate Offered To ‘Feed’ Michael Flynn Story To WaPo Columnist (DC)
With New Monetary Policy Approach, Fed Lays Phillips Curve To Rest (R.)
Ex-Australia PM Menzies Boasted Of Delivering Large Budget Deficits (ABC.au)
Italy Evacuates Dozens From Overcrowded Banksy-Funded Migrant Rescue Boat (RT)
Airlines Warn Flying Back 100,000 Stranded Australians Will Take 6 Months (G.)

 

 

We passed 25 million global cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japan:
– Population: 126 Million
– COVID deaths: 1,255 (10/M)
– % Obese: 4%

USA:
– Population: 328 Million
– COVID deaths: 183,000 (558/M)
– % Obese: 40%

If the US had the same obesity as Japan, we would have only 3,280 COVID deaths. 179,720 lives would have been saved…

 

 

Anti Face Mask Issue Solved

 

 

There is so much wrong with PCR tests, yet the “experts” refuse to even discuss rapid tests. Time to change that, test people every day in 15 minutes, not let them wait for days or weeks.

Rapid Home COVID19 Tests Could Help Find People While They Are Contagious (NP)

Cheap, rapid COVID-19 tests simple enough to use anywhere — home, school, the office — could help us climb out of the pandemic disaster, says infectious diseases specialist Dr. Andrew Morris. Just spit into a tube or swab your nose, wait a few minutes for the stripes to change colour — results available within minutes. With no vaccines or “fantastic therapies” for COVID, the best we can do is keep infected people out of buildings to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus, says Morris. Which is why he finds it “absurd” that Heath Canada says the risks of home or self-testing kits outweigh the benefits and that it will reject applications for such devices “without compelling new evidence to the contrary.”

The federal health agency worries that, “without the guidance of a health-care professional,” people would use the home test kit improperly or “misinterpret the results” and that it could be impossible to collect test results — information that’s key to “important health decisions involving disease control during an outbreak,” the department said in an emailed statement. “If it’s done in a haphazard way … you might actually create more problems, confusion than the actual benefits because you might get maybe a higher risk of false negative results,” Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Tuesday during a COVID-19 briefing. Morris wants the government to seriously rethink its position on home testing. They’re not the solution to COVID, but they are part of it, he believes.

Cheap, rapid testing is the backbone of infectious disease management, says Morris, of the Sinai Health System and University Health Network in Toronto. “But if Health Canada says ‘we aren’t even interested in these tests,’ they are neither being open-minded nor strategic in understanding the potential of these tests.” It has echoes of earlier federal dismissals of face masks, when officials worried masks would lead to a “false sense of security” and more face-touching. “The current strategy is not to trust the public… and we need to change that,” Morris says. The gold standard of testing today is a workhorse called reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, which amplifies SARS-CoV-2 from nasal swabs, so that minute amounts of RNA can be detected.

Anyone who is sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19, or who thinks he or she may have been exposed, can get PCR testing. But PCR testing isn’t designed around getting our lives back to normal, Morris says. It’s expensive, testing capacity is seriously limited and it can take days to get results. Vancouver has seen traffic gridlock at testing sites as B.C. battles with a surge in cases. Ottawa has had four-hour-long waits at its COVID testing sites. “The only way we can get our society back up and running is by having some better situational awareness than what we have,” Morris says.

[..] Rapid tests aren’t perfect. They aren’t as sensitive as PCR tests. But they don’t need to be perfect, argues Harvard Medical School epidemiologist Michael Mina. Mina says the tests can detect the virus when a person is most infectious, with high viral loads. “The vast majority of PCR positive tests we currently collect in this country are actually finding people long after they have ceased to be infectious,” Mina told Harvard Magazine. Paper-strip test could cost less than one or two U.S. dollars to produce, he says. Millions could take them daily or every other day. Frequent testing, with fast results, would help break chains of transmission, Mina tweeted this week. Morris has heard talk the FDA is expected to authorize several lateral flow assay tests for COVID-19 in the coming weeks. “And nothing by Health Canada. To me, this is a massive, massive blind spot.”

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I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, because he provokes this gem from Adam Schiff (is this the 1950s?): “..the Trump administration “clearly does not want Congress or the country informed of what Russia is doing.”

DNI Ratcliffe: Election Security Briefings Will Now Come In Written Form (JTN)

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe informed senators and representatives on Friday that election security briefings, previously given to Congress in person, will between now and the November elections be delivered in written form. The letter, which was sent on Friday and declassified on Saturday afternoon, notes that the intelligence community has given Congress dozens of briefings on election security over the past two years. “While many of these engagements and products have been successful and productive, others have been less so,” Ratcliffe wrote in the document.

“In order to ensure clarity and consistency across the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s … engagements with Congress on elections,” Ratcliffe continued, “the ODNI will primary meet its obligation to keep Congress fully and currently informed leading into the Presidential election through written finished intelligence products.”

Ratcliffe said the move will help ensure that intelligence information is neither “misunderstood nor politicized,” and that the new protocol will “protect our sources and methods and most sensitive intelligence from additional unauthorized disclosures or misuse.” Democrats on Saturday evening slammed the decision. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter that the move represented “a shocking abdication of [ODNI’s] responsibility to keep Congress informed.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, meanwhile, claimed that the Trump administration “clearly does not want Congress or the country informed of what Russia is doing.”

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Schiff can also claim a large role in this. Where’s that evidence, Adam? We’re still waiting.

3/4 of Democratic Voters Still Believe Trump Campaign Colluded With Russia (JTN)

Three-quarters of Democratic voters believe that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to steal the 2016 election, according to a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen. Asked whether it was more likely that Trump colluded with Russia in 2016 or that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign that year, 73% of Democrats said the Russia collusion theory was more likely to have occurred. In contrast, 67% of Republicans expressed more belief in the claim that the Obama administration spied on Trump during that election. Overall, 43% of voters put more stock in the Russia story.


The Russia collusion theory dominated headlines and politics for roughly the first three years of the Trump administration. A 22-month, special counsel probe led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller concluded without finding evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election. The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Rasmussen using a mixed-mode approach from August 20-22.

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“The Dems won’t get their civil war – but they will suffer the blowback for their attempts to destroy the United States.”

Will Hillary And The Dems Get The Civil War They Are Trying To Provoke? (Saker)

I don’t see a civil war happening in the US. But I do think that this country can, and probably will, break-up into different zones so to speak. In some regions, law and order will be maintained, by force is needed, while in others something new will appear: what the French call “des zones de non-droit“, meaning “areas of lawlessness” in which law enforcement will be absent (either because the political leaders will refuse to engage them, or because they will simply have to withdraw under fire). Typically, such zones have a parallel “black” economy which can make the gangs which control such zones very wealthy (think of Russia in the 1990s). Eventually, a lot of people will flee from such zones and seek refuge in the safer areas of the country (this process has already begun in New York).


Right now, there are a little over two months before the election, and I think that it is safe to say that the situation will deteriorate even faster and much worse. By November 2nd the country will be “ready” (so to speak) for a massive explosion of violence followed by months of chaos. Many will probably vote Trump just because they will (mistakenly) believe that he is the only politician who will stand against what the Dems promise to unleash against the majority of “deplorables” who want to keep their country and traditions. At the core, the conflict we are now witnessing is a conflict about identity, something which most people deeply care about. Sooner or later, there will be push-back against the Dems attempt to turn the USA into some kind of obese transgender liberal Wakanda run by crooks, freaks and thugs. The Dems won’t get their civil war – but they will suffer the blowback for their attempts to destroy the United States.

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Michael Moore’s winning slogan and strategy: the Democrats are terrible, but you DO have to vote for them.

Michael Moore Warns That Donald Trump Is On Course To Repeat 2016 Win (G.)

The documentary film-maker Michael Moore has warned that Donald Trump appears to have such momentum in some battleground states that liberals risk a repeat of 2016 when so many wrote off Trump only to see him grab the White House. “Sorry to have to provide the reality check again,” he said. Moore, who was one of few political observers to predict Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, said that “enthusiasm for Trump is off the charts” in key areas compared with the Democratic party nominee, Joe Biden. “Are you ready for a Trump victory? Are you mentally prepared to be outsmarted by Trump again? Do you find comfort in your certainty that there is no way Trump can win? Are you content with the trust you’ve placed in the DNC [Democratic National Committee] to pull this off?” Moore posted on Facebook late on Friday.

Moore identified opinion polling in battleground states such as Minnesota and Michigan to make a case that the sitting president is running alongside or ahead of his rival. “The Biden campaign just announced he’ll be visiting a number of states – but not Michigan. Sound familiar?” Moore wrote, presumably indicating Hillary Clinton’s 2016 race when she made the error of avoiding some states that then swung to Trump. “I’m warning you almost 10 weeks in advance. The enthusiasm level for the 60 million in Trump’s base is OFF THE CHARTS! For Joe, not so much,” he later added. He continued to voters: “Don’t leave it to the Democrats to get rid of Trump. YOU have to get rid of Trump. WE have to wake up every day for the next 67 days and make sure each of us are going to get a hundred people out to vote. ACT NOW!”

Moore, a vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders’s leftwing candidacy, warned in October 2016 that “Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘f*** you’ ever recorded in human history – and it will feel good,” even as Clinton appeared to be sailing to victory. “Whether Trump means it or not is kind of irrelevant because he’s saying the things to people who are hurting, and that’s why every beaten-down, nameless, forgotten working stiff who used to be part of what was called the middle class loves Trump,” Moore warned at that time.

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A lot of people in that camp were actively working on this. There are new names just about every day.

Steele Associate Offered To ‘Feed’ Michael Flynn Story To WaPo Columnist (DC)

A former associate of Sen. John McCain served as a key conduit between journalists and dossier author Christopher Steele in early 2017, going so far as offering to “feed” stories about Trump associates to a Washington Post columnist, according to documents from a British court proceeding. David Kramer, a former State Department official who worked at the McCain Institute, kept Steele apprised of his contacts in January 2017 with journalists from BuzzFeed News, CNN, ABC News, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post regarding aspects of the dossier. Kramer relayed information he learned from reporters at ABC News and the Journal regarding the dossier’s allegation that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague, according to text messages read at a defamation trial against Steele in London last month.

The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained a transcript of the closed-door court proceedings, which were held in London from July 20-24. Steele, a former MI6 officer, is being sued by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian businessman who Steele’s dossier accuses of hacking Democrats’ computer systems in 2016. Kramer was already known to have met with reporters to discuss the dossier. He has acknowledged providing the dossier to a reporter for BuzzFeed News, which published the salacious document on Jan. 10, 2017. But the Steele messages suggest Kramer played a more proactive role in trying to put negative stories in the media about Trump associates. Kramer’s most eye-catching references are to David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist who writes about national security issues.

“The Flynn calls story is picking up legs,” Kramer wrote to Steele, seemingly referring to a Jan. 12, 2017, column by Ignatius that revealed that Flynn spoke by phone weeks earlier with Sergey Kislyak. According to text messages read at the trial, Kramer suggested to Steele that he would provide dirt on Trump associates to Ignatius. “I think it’s time to get that other [Manafort] story out there,” Kramer wrote in a message to Steele, referring to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. “And Ignatius is the one I’ll feed it to,” he also wrote. Steele insisted during his testimony that Kramer was suggesting feeding a story to Ignatius about Flynn rather than Manafort. “It’s a Michael Flynn story, isn’t it?” Steele asked during the cross-examination.

He went on to say that the information regarding Flynn he discussed with Kramer was not found in the dossier. “Any story here about Michael Flynn is completely independent of anything in the dossier,” said Steele. The former spy did not describe the Flynn story, but Kramer told the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 that Steele told him that he believed that Flynn had an affair with a Russian-British researcher in the United Kingdom. The unverified allegation matches closely with stories that appeared in the media in March 2017 that alleged that Flynn had improper contacts with former Cambridge researcher Svetlana Lokhova in 2014, when Flynn visited the historic university as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

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“Decades of thought at the Fed are now being pushed aside.”

In most other jobs, if you’ve been wrong for decades, you get fired or resign. But when you’re handling trillions of dollars, there are different standards.

With New Monetary Policy Approach, Fed Lays Phillips Curve To Rest (R.)

One of the fundamental theories of modern economics may have finally been put to rest. In the several years before the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the global economy, Federal Reserve policymakers watched as the U.S. unemployment rate fell lower and lower and waited for the jump in inflation typically associated with such a tight labor market. The expectations were based on a rule that has shaped decades of monetary policy decisions: the Phillips curve, or the concept that inflation tends to rise when the unemployment rate falls, and vice versa. But the inflation that Fed officials anticipated never arrived, and in a monumental speech delivered on Thursday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced that the U.S. central bank’s policymakers are done waiting.

The Fed chief, speaking during the Kansas City Fed’s annual conference, unveiled the central bank’s new approach to monetary policy, which puts more emphasis on shortfalls in employment, and less weight on the fear that low unemployment could spark higher inflation. “The conditions in the economy have changed to such an extent that this upwardly sloped relationship between inflation and employment has now changed,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist for RSM. “Decades of thought at the Fed are now being pushed aside.” With its landmark policy shift, the Fed is putting new weight on bolstering the labor market and less on inflation, promising to aim for 2% inflation on average over a period of time rather than using that figure as a hard annual target, as it had done since 2012.

With their new approach, Fed officials are essentially saying they are no longer worried about the unemployment rate falling too low. Now that inflation expectations are anchored at low levels, the economy has room to keep adding jobs. Policymakers can also wait a little longer for the gains to reach the workers on the margins – including Black, Hispanic and low-income workers – who are often the last to reap the benefits of a tight labor market, Powell said. “It is hard to overstate the benefits of sustaining a strong labor market, a key national goal that will require a range of policies in addition to supportive monetary policy,” Powell said on Thursday, reflecting on the strong U.S. labor market that existed before the pandemic.

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h/t Steve Keen.

Ex-Australia PM Menzies Boasted Of Delivering Large Budget Deficits (ABC.au)

There’s a lot we’ve forgotten about Robert Menzies. Take his name, for example. Younger Australians may not know it, but our country’s longest-serving prime minister, one of the founders of the Liberal Party, was nicknamed “Ming”. He was our first prime minister to have two Australian-born parents, but his paternal grandfather was Scottish and he was proud of that heritage. He preferred his surname to be pronounced the way the Scots pronounce it — Ming-iss — but his attempts to convince his countrymen to do so were in vain. He received the nickname “Ming” instead. Then there was his time as prime minister, when he boasted about delivering a bigger budget deficit than Labor would have, for the good of the country. That’s right.

The father of Australia’s Liberal Party was proud of spending whatever was necessary to ensure full employment, even when the economy wasn’t in recession. A speech Mr Menzies gave in August 1962 about his budget that year is worth reading. He’d won the federal election eight months earlier, defeating the Labor opposition led by Arthur Calwell. During the campaign, Mr Calwell promised to deliver a deficit large enough to eradicate unemployment, and he figured that meant a deficit of 100 million pounds. Here’s Mr Menzies explaining why he was spending more than Labor pledged. “Too few people realise that a cash deficit of 120 million [pounds] … will of itself have a most expansionary effect,” he said.

“We shall pay out to the citizens 120 million [pounds] more than will be collected from them. “So, far from being timorous — I think that was another of the words used by the deputy leader of the opposition — this is adventurous finance. “Add to the deficit the tax refunds now being made, and it is clear that purchasing power in Australia this financial year will be uncommonly high. “The real task of any government today, as well as of the business community and all sensible citizens, is to get that purchasing power exercised.” It was uncomplicated Keynesian logic. As John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1933: “Look after the unemployment, and the budget will look after itself.”

[..] Mr Menzies’ second stint as prime minister lasted from 1949 to 1966. For his last nine budgets he delivered deficits, and the size of his last deficit, at 3.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), was 0.3 per cent larger than the deficit in Wayne Swan’s last budget in 2013. So why wasn’t the public angry? Because Australia’s economy, like economies in other western nations, grew strongly in the post-war period. In the 1940s, its average growth rate was 3.8 per cent. In the 1950s, it was 4.2 per cent. In the 1960s, it was 5.3 per cent. And that constant growth meant the size of Australia’s government debt relative to the size of the economy (the ratio of debt-to-GDP) shrank dramatically, too. All while the government was handing down budget deficits.

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How much extra attention because of Banksy’s involvement?

Italy Evacuates Dozens From Overcrowded Banksy-Funded Migrant Rescue Boat (RT)

Some 50 people were evacuated from the migrant rescue boat Louise Michel that got stranded off Malta’s coast after taking more than 200 people aboard. After one person died, the crew accused Europe of ignoring its pleas for help. The vessel, which reported rescuing a total of 219 people from the sea over the past few days, including “many women and children,” had become so “overcrowded” that a life raft was attached to its side, and it lost its ability to maneuver. The crew’s Twitter feed suggests they have been desperately sending distress signals and making calls to various European maritime authorities to no avail. To make the matters worse, one of the migrants died on the ship as conditions deteriorated.

“Louise Michel is unable to move … above all due to Europe ignoring our emergency calls for immediate assistance,” a tweet from the crew read. Following about a day of pleas for help, Italy’s coast guard arrived at the scene and took 49 of “the most vulnerable” migrants in. While describing the development as “great,” the Louise Michel crew said it leaves the majority “still waiting.” It added that another NGO migrant rescue ship, Sea Watch 4, arrived to “do what Europe falters to do.” Photos and videos apparently taken on board the vessel – a 31-meter motor yacht once owned by French customs authorities, now named after a French anarchist – show it is extremely crowded with people who are cooped up literally everywhere, from the foredeck to the aft and even on top of the captain’s bridge.

[..] Painted in white and bright pink and featuring a Banksy artwork of a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped flotation device, Louise Michel is said to have set sail in secrecy from a Spanish port of Burriana, near Valencia. The first post in its Twitter account appeared about a week after what was called its first successful mission. The ship, flying a German flag, is captained by Pia Klemp, a controversial German boat captain credited with rescuing more than 1,000 North African migrants between 2011 and 2017. The woman was charged with colluding with human smugglers by the Italian authorities in 2019 and defiantly snubbed Paris’ highest civilian award months later.

[..] Reports claim that Klemp was personally contacted by the artist as early as in September 2019 and was offered assistance with buying a new boat. She told the Guardian that she sees the effort as “part of anti-fascist fight,” while adding that Banksy’s involvement in the project is limited to financial support. “Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won’t pretend to be artists,” she said.

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And you thought your “leaders” were incompetent.

Airlines Warn Flying Back 100,000 Stranded Australians Will Take 6 Months (G.)

Frustrated airlines continuing to fly into Australia are warning it will take six months to repatriate more than 100,000 Australians stuck overseas if the country’s strict arrival caps are not eased. Pressure is also mounting within government ranks to address the growing number of Australians stranded by the caps, with Coalition MPs complaining the limits are “probably the biggest area of concern” raised with them by constituents currently, who claim airlines are repeatedly bumping them off flights to prioritise more expensive tickets and remain profitable under the caps. Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, on Friday criticised the government’s position of recommending those affected by the caps rely on early super withdrawals to fund what could be an indefinite period away from their jobs, families and secure accommodation.

“The government should be offering financial support to stranded Australians who need it. People shouldn’t be forced to raid their super or launch a GoFundMe fundraiser in order to return home,” she said, noting earlier reports that consular staff had told Australians to start crowdfunding sites to sustain living costs and business class flights. Wong said she had been contacted by a pensioner forced to sleep in a car in France because his flight had been cancelled and he couldn’t get a refund. Wong also criticised the government for recent travel exit exemptions – including allowing Tony Abbott to fly to the UK, and an entrepreneur to collect a yacht in Italy – calling it “special treatment for the privileged few” with “everyone else being left behind”.

Qatar Airways on Friday announced it had suspended sales of tickets into Australia until the caps are lifted, and said it will have to cancel the tickets of “thousands” more Australian citizens who are currently scheduled to fly home with the carrier in the coming months. The airline has acknowledged it has been forced to prioritise customers who pay more for tickets after reports its aircraft were landing in Sydney with as few as four economy passengers. The Guardian has been inundated by stories of Australians who have been forced to live in caravans for months, exhaust all their paid leave, and forgo seeing dying parents in Australia while they wait for airlines to honour their economy flights home.

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If Greece and Turkey go to war, it’s over this:

 

 

Long time favorite. Possibly the ultimate Calvin and Hobbes:

 

 

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Jul 292019
 


Odilon Redon Fallen angel 1872

 

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

 

 

Cheap money blows bubbles, but…

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

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

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


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

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

China’s Wobbly Giants (Fortune)

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

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

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

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What is it, 100 days until Halloween?!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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While all attention and funding goes towards Brexit…

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

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


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

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He was strong in the Mueller hearing.

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

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


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

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“My family won’t fly on a 737 Max.”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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How many agents are going to be on his tail?

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

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

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

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

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But the torture just continues…

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

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

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

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

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