Rene Magritte Memory 1948
We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.
– Louise Glück (2020 Nobel Prize for Literature)
Abolish the CIA
International Day to Abolish the @CIA. Share. pic.twitter.com/XzKTJMAebE
— Vijay Prashad (@vijayprashad) October 8, 2020
The debate is now about having the debate.
• Trump Campaign Demands In-Person Debate Against Biden Oct. 15 (F.)
After refusing earlier in the day to participate in the October 15 presidential debate against former Vice President Joe Biden because it had been changed to a virtual format, President Trump’s campaign is now demanding an in-person event, citing his physician’s note that he has completed treatment for Covid-19. Thursday evening, Dr. Sean Conley said in a press release, “I fully anticipate the President’s safe return to public engagements” by Saturday. This prompted Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager and one of the many who contracted Covid-19 from the White House, to release a statement claiming there is “no medical reason why the Commission on Presidential Debates should shift the debate to a virtual setting, postpone it or otherwise alter it in any way.”
Following Trump’s refusal to participate in the debate earlier in the day, Biden announced plans to hold a town hall with ABC News on October 15, with both sides agreeing to October 22 as the date for the second presidential debate. The Trump camp earlier said it would hold a rally in place of the debate. Conley’s note drew criticism from experts like Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Research Institute, who questioned on Twitter the soundness of his assertion that Trump will be safe to engage with the public in two days given that he provided no evidence “that he is not infectious, without viral load data, without providing when/timeline he became infected.”
Much about the White House outbreak is still unknown, but the Biden campaign confirmed that the Trump campaign did not reach out to them about the president’s positive test, despite the two sharing a stage around the time of infection. Stepien claimed that the commission made the decision to move virtually to “shield Biden from another shellacking like he got two weeks ago in Cleveland.” Polls conducted after what was considered one of the worst presidential debates in recent memory due to Trump’s erratic behavior crowned Biden as the victor.
I spent a lot of time this morning with this. First, the New Yorker story, then lawyer “sundance”‘s complete evisceration of it. Worth your time.
• The Contested Afterlife of the Trump-Alfa Bank Story (New Yorker)
Alfa Bank’s principals—Aven, Khan, and a man named Mikhail Fridman—are personally suing Fusion GPS, a research firm in Washington that had hired Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, to investigate Donald Trump’s relationships in Russia before the 2016 election. The dossier that Steele assembled claimed that Aven and Fridman had been close confidants of Vladimir Putin since he was the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, in the nineteen-nineties, when they sent him “large amounts of illicit cash.” Steele has been criticized for sloppy tradecraft, but much of the information he recorded has been neither proved nor disproved. Aven, Khan, and Fridman say that information in the dossier about the bank and its principals is false and defamatory.
They have sued Steele, as well as Buzzfeed, which first published the dossier. They also served a subpoena on Jones, the investigator, asking for all his correspondence with Fusion. (Alfa Bank has also sought to subpoena Fusion’s executives, in connection with the John Doe lawsuits.) For those defending themselves against the lawsuits, their attorneys’ power of discovery would give them extraordinary access to Alfa Bank’s records. But Aven, Khan, and Fridman claim that they do not control their own documents at the bank and cannot produce them. (Public records show that together they control more than sixty per cent of the bank.) The three men also say that they are not public figures, and are therefore entitled to stronger protections against defamation.
They made a similar argument in a U.S. court two decades ago, and it was thrown out. But the federal judge presiding over their Fusion libel case, Richard Leon, has allowed it so far, and so the suit is likely to drag on—a situation that Aven, Khan, and Fridman can afford more easily than the founders of Fusion can. According to Forbes, the three bankers are believed to have a combined net worth of about thirty billion dollars. “They could spend a million dollars a day on this and not even notice,” the lawyer involved in one of the cases said. The Alfa Bank case has also become an object of interest for federal agents working for John Durham, the prosecutor appointed by Barr. Durham’s agents have summoned some of the same computer scientists to testify before a grand jury, and are asking for the same material that Alfa Bank is seeking. (They’ve asked Jones, the investigator, to testify as well.)
Some agents told scientists that they were exploring a potential criminal charge—presumably against Max and Tea Leaves—for giving false information to the government. A number of those called to testify are seeking to quash the subpoenas, and it’s not apparent that anyone has testified so far. There is no clear evidence that the Justice Department and Alfa Bank are working together, but some people involved in the case noted a striking alignment of purpose. “There’s a heck of a lot of mutual interest,” William Taylor, an attorney for Jones, told me. More troubling is that the cases could aid the Kremlin. Although Aven has disputed reports that he is close to Putin, he told investigators for the Mueller report that he meets with the Russian President quarterly and receives what the report describes as “implicit directives.”
“That’s where Durham/Aldenberg will ultimately be; and for transparency I have spoken with William Aldenberg about their destination..”
• John Durham Grand Jury Team Following Deep State Rabbit Hole (sundance)
A very important article was written yesterday in the New Yorker. While the topic of the article spotlights the ridiculous conspiracy theory surrounding Alfa bank, and the insufferable nonsense about Trump Tower servers having contact -electronic touch signals- with servers from the Russian banking organization, there are aspects to the story that show where the Durham probe has been forced to travel. Within the article –which everyone should read– some names are very important. The article is framed around defending the New Yorker’s previous reporting on the Alfa Bank conspiracy theory, so the intent of the article is defensive. However, the events being described in the article, and more importantly the people being outlined in the article, are accurate. Especially Daniel Jones and his lawyer William Taylor; and the connection of both to Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson.
According to the article there are two parallel efforts underway to untangle the background of how the false Alfa Bank story was originated. One effort is a set of civil lawsuits by the owners of Alfa bank against those who created the fraudulent story that flowed through Fusion GPS, into Chris Steele’s dossier, into the FBI, and ultimately into the Buzzfeed reporting therein. The owners of the bank are taking all of these entities into court and demanding discovery of sources who framed/created the false impression. The second outlined effort is a set of subpoenas for some of the same names to appear before a grand jury being run by the John Durham probe. The witnesses are lawyered-up and attempting to avoid the grand jury subpoenas.
Part of the New Yorker story is constructed around wondering if the Alfa Bank team is working with the Durham team. That is a false narrative created for political deflection only. However, the article outlines factual evidence of the Durham grand jury; and by knowing what issues are being explored we can see -in advance- where this trail is going. Good News Pause: John Durham has a grand jury impaneled and is issuing subpoenas. Instead of me going through the Alfa Bank story, let me just take you though a process of where the Alfa Bank story ends up. That’s where Durham/Aldenberg will ultimately be; and for transparency I have spoken with William Aldenberg about their destination. Note in the New Yorker piece the subjects of the subpoenas and lawsuits are worried about being forced to identify the anonymous sources known as “Max” and “Tea Leaves”.
Additionally the group describes their worry about identifying how the electronic signals between the servers were originally discovered. Let me say up front that is where this story connects to the scandal of intelligence community “contractor” access to the NSA database. The SIGINT or signals intelligence, used to frame the false Alfa Bank story, appears to have come from entities with access to the NSA database who were doing work to assist the overall Trump-Russia narrative construction. Those unlawfully obtained findings were manipulated and unlawfully extracted; then passed along to computer scientists who had the role to provide technical support for the media to use in selling a false story. If this sounds to you like the subject matter expertise and skill of Crowdstrike and Fusion-GPS you would not be missing the target.
No space for them here, but a pretty complete list from John Solomon. But with just 25 days left, and Wray and Haspel actively frustrating the efforts… What are the odds?
• The 40 Key Russia Documents President Trump Must Still Declassify (JTN)
President Trump earlier this week vowed complete and final transparency in the Russia probe, ordering the declassification (without redaction) of all relevant documents that show how the false Russian collusion narrative was created by Hillary Clinton operatives and then investigated for three years by the FBI. With less than four weeks to Election Day 2020, there is little time to complete the mission so that voters can understand the foreign influence, dirty tricks and misconduct that began in the last presidential election and continued for years. So Just the News put together a list of the 40 most important documents yet to be released that would help America understand what really happened and who is most culpable. Most of the documents have been sought by Congress dating all the way back to 2017 and have been withheld from public release, mostly by bureaucrats at the State Department under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the FBI under Director Christopher Wray.
The Obama/Biden Administration knew it was hoax.
They knew the Trump Campaign didn’t collude with Russia.
They knew they were wasting taxpayer money.
But they didn’t care. pic.twitter.com/eUtZNk2MJc
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) October 7, 2020
“George Washington in 1789 had six,” Shu said, noting that “since 1869 we’ve had nine.”
• Ruth Bader Ginsburg Opposed Packing The Supreme Court (JTN)
Attorney and legal commentator John Shu pointed out during an interview on “The Water Cooler” that the recently deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opposed the idea of packing the Supreme Court. “Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time,” Ginsburg said, according to NPR. “I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.” Roosevelt’s plan would have permitted him to appoint six more judges, enlarging the high court to 15 people, according to the outlet. “If anything would make the court look partisan,” Ginsburg said, according to NPR, “it would be that — one side saying, ‘when we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’ “
Shu said that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris’s refusal to answer whether they would add more justices to the current panel shows that they intend to pursue that course of action. “The fact that she is not answering the question seems to me at least to be somewhat of an answer of what her and Biden would do,” host David Brody said. Shu agreed, and said that he believes the pair’s unwillingness to answer “in and of itself is indicative that they hope to do so.” The attorney explained that the Constitution confers on Congress the authority to determine the number of justices on the nation’s high court. “George Washington in 1789 had six,” Shu said, noting that “since 1869 we’ve had nine.”
He said that “if the Democrats succeed in taking the Senate and taking the presidency—I think it’s likely they’ll keep the House—but if the Democrats succeed, I really am afraid for the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. I’m afraid that the Democrats will make the Supreme Court look like a political body, kind of like an extra, super legislature. And the courts are just not designed to do that.”
First, realize there are no markets. The rest will follow soon after.
• The Destruction Of The World Economy By The Central Banks (GNS)
For years, we have been warning about dire consequences if central banks continue to meddle in the economy and financial markets. In December 2013, we wrote: “There is a serious possibility that the measures taken by the central banks have already created a situation in which their actions increase rather than decrease financial instability. This is due to the fact that, if the actual price of an asset does not meet its market–based value, the true level of risk is not properly revealed.” During the “Coronavirus rescue” by the major central banks from March through June of this year, we essentially ran down the clock. No viable paths remain to escape the vicious feedback loop between central banks and financial markets—at least without serious repercussions.
Over the years, central banks have created conditions where prices in capital markets—and by implication, the resulting capital allocation structure—have become distorted to a previously unimaginable degree. This has resulted in three extremely troublesome fragilities at the heart of the world economy. First, it has led to ‘yield hunting’ among investors, who are forced to seek higher yields from riskier financial products. Secondly, it has led to a permanent central bank intervention in the financial markets, because without it a crash would surely occur. Thirdly—and this is something that has received much too little attention—the massive capital misallocations due to unnaturally low interest rates have ‘hollowed-out’ vast sectors of the global economy.
We have been focusing on the fragility of the financial markets frequently lately, so this time we will concentrate on the capital misallocation issue instead, though the two are inherently linked. In March 2019 we devoted the entirety of the Q-Review to explain why global economic growth has sputtered since 2009. We explored, extensively, the concept of creative destruction, which describes the process by which capitalist economies evolve and grow over time. In essence, creative destruction enables the flow of technical innovations into the economy through the destruction of old and inefficient production methods and enterprises, and the emergence of new, more productive firms. Moreover, we wrote that “The risk-and-reward relationship, that is, the gains and failures of the private sector drive economic progress. The first accumulates income and capital, while the second uncovers sustainable businesses, setting the stage for the creative destruction.”
In essence, this is what a capitalist economy is all about. The accumulation of capital is required to provide the funding for sustainable businesses, which provide employment, personal income and tax revenues. Price discovery in the modern capital markets is essential to accurately evaluate the risk-and-reward relationship of both real economic investments as well as those of financial assets. Price discovery thus guides the efficient allocation of capital to its most profitable employment, based on the information gathered by millions of investors. This idea is part of the bedrock of capitalist theory.
Especially since this is the Daily Mail, please explain how this is not an advertisement.
• Remdesivir Cuts COVID Recovery By 5 Days, Reduces Risk Of Death By 30% (DM)
Remdesivir shortens the amount of recovery time from COVID-19 and decreases the risk of death, final results of a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show. Researchers found that the antiviral drug reduced the recovery time for hospitalized coronavirus patients by at least five days. What’s more, the medication was shown to lower the risk of mortality from the virus by as much as 30 percent. Manufactured by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc, remdesivir is the only drug approved for emergency use in the US to treat severely ill coronavirus patients. The team, from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), says the findings not only show how remdesivir can help improve patients’ conditions but also how it may prevent them from developing severe complications.
‘The take home message is this is the first step,’ corresponding author Dr John Beigel, associate director for clinical research in the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the NIAID, told DailyMail.com. ‘This is a significant improvement over no treatment..So this is a very important finding, it shows we can treat this, but the work is not done. This is just the first step.’ Remdesivir was developed by Gilead Sciences to treat Ebola, the deadly hemorrhagic fever that emerged in West Africa in 2014. It works by blocking an enzyme that helps the coronavirus make copies of itself and, in turn, spread throughout the body. For the final results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the NIAID recruited 1,062 coronavirus patients across North America, Europe and Asia.
A total of 541 patients were assigned to a 29-day course of remdesivir and the remaining 521 patients were given a placebo. The NIAID found that patients on the drug had a 50 percent shorter time to recovery than those on a placebo. Patients in the remdesivir group recovered with a median of 10 days compared to 15 days for those who were given the placebo. It also reduced the length of the hospital stay with a median of 12 days for those on the drug in comparison with 17 days for the control group.
Main takeaway: the mayor and the Governor keep fighting each other.
• New York City Parents Scramble To Deal With New School Closures (R.)
The 6-year-old son of Jodi Cook, a Brooklyn mother of two, had just resumed in-person classes at his local elementary — only to face the closure of his school again as coronavirus cases spiked nearby. Cook said she was disappointed. Last week, public elementary schools in New York City welcomed back students to the classroom as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s blended learning plan after a months-long hiatus. But this week New York officials began imposing fresh restrictions to curb a worrying rise in infections in several ‘hot spots.’ “I’m disappointed because I don’t think that the location of our school really puts us in jeopardy,” Cook, a real estate broker, said on Thursday. “The neighborhood and parents are scrambling.”
The school, in the Windsor Terrace-Kensington area of Brooklyn, is located in a so-called ‘orange zone.’ Schools in those zones have been ordered shut as part of new rules imposed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to try to stamp out the virus in several parts of the state, including neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. A group of parents and their children gathered outside the school on Thursday morning to protest, flanked by two local politicians. Its postal code was “not a Covid hotspot & the schools do not meet any of the agreed upon metrics for closing,” New York State Assembly Member Robert Carroll, who attended the protest, wrote in a Twitter post.
The mayor’s plan drew scorn from Cuomo, a fellow Democrat with whom he has often feuded. The governor on Tuesday released new color-coded maps delineating closures, sowing confusion among residents. New York is one of about 30 out of 50 U.S. states where cases have risen over the past two weeks, according to a Reuters analysis. Nationally, both cases and the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are rising, hitting record levels in the upper Midwest and West.
is this because so many workers are home either sick or afraid, or is it because they expect record sales?
• US Auto Suppliers Scramble To Fill Factory Jobs (R.)
Millions of U.S. workers have lost their jobs to the pandemic, but in the auto industry, suppliers are scrambling to find enough people to staff production lines, resorting to such approaches as rewards for good attendance and at-work teachers to lure job seekers. At auto parts maker Mobex Global, Chief Executive Joe Perkins said he is boosting pay and offering bonuses to help fill 80 job openings. His engineering and machining company is running more overtime to meet rising demand. “It is the most critical issue in our company,” said Perkins, whose firm has 12 U.S. plants and counts General Motors and Ford among its customers. “We’re using almost 10 staffing companies across the plants,” he told Reuters.
“We’re using multiple jobs boards, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, Monster, local news stations, down to lawn signs, local papers, billboards, public transportation, church bulletins, you name it.” The U.S. auto industry usually is the first in and the last out of an economic slump. The coronavirus crisis is different. Demand for new vehicles has rebounded. But fears of catching COVID-19 and problems caring for school-age children are keeping many workers at home, compelling employers to raise pay despite the high national jobless rate, industry executives said. Many suppliers are dealing with absenteeism rates of 10-15%, said Brian Collie, head of Boston Consulting Group’s global auto practice. That has led the United Auto Workers to give the Detroit automakers more latitude on using temporary workers to cover for absent full-time employees, union President Rory Gamble told Reuters.
An antidote to the auto suppliers story.
• An Avalanche Of Bankruptcies Is Coming In The US (Barraud)
U.S. equity markets might be reaching new record highs despite the state of corporates’ health in the U.S. keeps deteriorating. Data compiled by Bloomberg show the Covid-19 pandemic helped fuel the worst third quarter on record for large corporate bankruptcies. In the details, 70 companies with more than $50 million in liabilities sought bankruptcy protection last quarter. That compares to the 76 in the prior quarter. On Monday, Reuters also highlighted “U.S. commercial bankruptcy filings are up 33% so far this year with new cases in September surging by 78% from a year earlier as the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic hits small businesses.” It added that “Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings totaled 747 last month, up from 420 a year earlier and from 525 in August, legal services firm Epiq said in a monthly report.”
In the meantime, S&P Global Market Intelligence’s bankruptcy analysis revealed that “a total of 509 companies have gone bankrupt this year as of Oct. 4, exceeding the number of filings during any comparable period since 2010.” Several proxies, including the number of permanent job losers, confirmed that bankruptcies are on track to spike in the short term. Unfortunately, this trend is likely to continue in the coming months. According to the latest Fitch report, the “three-year 2020–2022 cumulative US default rate forecasts for term loan (LL) and high-yield (HY) bonds are 17%-20% and 15%-18%, respectively. This forecast compares with the three-year cumulative default rate of 15% for LL and 22% for HY bonds from 2008 to 2010 occurring as a result of the Great Recession.”
NATO trumps Trump!
• NATO Chief Says Allies Will Leave Afghanistan Together (Y!)
NATO insisted Thursday that its members would consult and decide together on when to leave Afghanistan, after US President Donald Trump vowed to bring American troops home by Christmas. Trump, trailing in polls ahead of the November 3 presidential election, made his surprise announcement on Twitter on Wednesday, dramatically speeding up the timeline for ending America’s longest war. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg repeated the alliance’s longstanding position that it will end its mission in Afghanistan only when conditions on the ground permit. “We decided to go into Afghanistan together, we will make decisions on future adjustments together, and when the time is right, we will leave together,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference after talks with North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.
NATO went into Afghanistan following the 2001 US-led invasion to topple the Taliban in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. It ended its combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014 and has vastly reduced its presence on the ground, but maintains a 12,000-strong force training and advising local forces. Stoltenberg said NATO would only leave Afghanistan when it could do so without the risk of the country once again becoming a haven for militants. “We will make decisions based on the conditions on the ground, because we think it is extremely important to continue to be committed to the future of Afghanistan, because it is in our interest to preserve the long term security of Afghanistan,” he said. It is not clear whether NATO had any advance warning of Trump’s announcement, though Stoltenberg’s statement that allies would now “consult on the future of the mission” appeared to indicate that it did not.
But we need to think they are all lazy drunks, or we ourselves will become them!
• A BC Research Project Gave Homeless People $7,500 Each (CBC)
The results of a B.C. research project that gave thousands of dollars to homeless people are in and, according to one researcher, could challenge stereotypes about people “living on the margins.” The New Leaf project is a joint study started in 2018 by Foundations for Social Change, a Vancouver-based charitable organization, and the University of British Columbia. After giving homeless Lower Mainland residents cash payments of $7,500, researchers checked on them over a year to see how they were faring. All 115 participants, ranging in age between 19 and 64, had been homeless for at least six months and were not struggling with serious substance use or mental health issues.
Of those, 50 people were chosen at random to be given the cash, while the others formed a control group that did not receive any money. “I had no expectations and really high hopes,” said Claire Williams, CEO of Foundations for Social Change, on CBC’s The Early Edition on Tuesday. What researchers found after 12 months, she said, was “beautifully surprising.” Not only did those who received the money spend fewer days homeless than those in the control group, they had also moved into stable housing after an average of three months, compared to those in the control group, who took an average of five months. Those who received the money also managed it well over the course of a year.
“We saw people retain over $1,000 for 12 months, which is remarkable in the Lower Mainland,” said Williams. On average, cash recipients spent 52 per cent of their money on food and rent, 15 per cent on other items such as medications and bills, and 16 per cent on clothes and transportation. Almost 70 per cent of people who received the payments were food secure after one month. In comparison, spending on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs went down, on average, by 39 per cent. Too often people dismiss the idea of giving homeless people money because they assume it will be mismanaged, Williams said. “It challenges stereotypes we have here in the West about how to help people living on the margins,” she said.
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A cat fell on my head
I didn't go to work because a cat fell on my head and then a dog with shoes tried to do me justice. pic.twitter.com/20oSin7VYt
— I.Share (@IAMNERDIShare) October 7, 2020
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