Sep 242020
 


Ramón Casas A young decadent 1899

 

Senate Report Slams Bidens For Conflicts Of Interest, Possible Criminal Activity (JTN)
Ron Johnson Requests Documents From Biden, Archer’s Attorneys (JTN)
Hunter Biden Received $3.5m Wire Transfer From Russian Billionaire (NYP)
Judge Orders Eric Trump To Testify Before Election In New York AG Probe (CNBC)
Swamp Thang (Kunstler)
Trump Says Supreme Court Will Decide The Election, Needs A Ninth Justice (ZH)
Fed Prepares To Deposit “Digital Dollars” Directly To “Each American” (ZH)
46% of Americans Struggle To Pay Rent, Bills (NPR)
UK New Covid Restrictions Unscientific Mumbo Jumbo, Exercise In Futility (RT)
Feared Coronavirus Outbreaks In Schools Yet To Arrive (WaPo)
DARPA-Funded Biochip Implant to Detect COVID-19 Could Hit Market by 2021 (MPN)
Assange Could Crochet And Play Bingo In Supermax Prison, US Prosecutor (SMH)
‘Clear’ Julian Assange Is On Autistic Spectrum, Doctor Tells Court (PG)
Doctor Diagnosed Julian Assange With Asperger’s Syndrome (Gosztola)

 

 

How bad are the riots and shootings in the US going to get?

 

 

The biggest problems right now are undoubtedly in Europe. The Netherlands is just one example. Mismanagement at its finest. They’ll just blame the people. None of these people have quit over their own failings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Netherlands

 

 

Rand Paul and Fauci Long version

 

Rand Paul and Fauci Short version

 

 

 

 

NYT headline: “Republican Inquiry Finds No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Biden” -The report delivered on Wednesday appeared to be little more than a rehashing of unproven allegations that echoed a Russian disinformation campaign.

Sorry, that not what I read.

Senate Report Slams Bidens For Conflicts Of Interest, Possible Criminal Activity (JTN)

A year-long Senate investigation concluded Wednesday that Hunter Biden’s efforts to cash in on foreign business deals during his father’s vice presidency raised alarm among U.S. government officials, who perceived an ethical conflict of interest and flagged concerns about possible criminal activity ranging from bribery to sex trafficking. The long-awaited joint report by the GOP-led Senate Homeland and Government Affairs and Senate Finance Committees delivered several blockbuster revelations less than two months before Election Day, suggesting Obama administration officials ignored clear warning signs about ethical conflicts and possible extortion risks involving Joe Biden’s family. Perhaps the most explosive revelation was that the U.S. Treasury Department flagged payments collected overseas by Hunter Biden and business partner Devon Archer for possible illicit activities.

The so-called Suspicious Activity Reports flagged millions of dollars in transactions from the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings, a Russian oligarch named Yelena Baturina, and Chinese businessmen with ties to Beijing’s communist government, the report said. Senate investigators have yet to determine if the FBI or others investigated the concerns. “The Treasury records acquired by the Chairmen show potential criminal activity relating to transactions among and between Hunter Biden, his family, and his associates with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals,” the 87-page report disclosed, confirming an earlier report in Just the News. The report, citing U.S. government records, also raised concerns about possible ties to sex and human trafficking rings.


“Hunter Biden paid nonresident women who were nationals of Russia or other Eastern European countries and who appear to be linked to an Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring,” the report said. [..] Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson told Just the News Wednesday morning that the sheer volume of suspicious activity in Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings left the Vice President vulnerable to illicit influence or extortion. “The report raises serious questions that former Vice President Biden needs to answer. There are simply too many potential conflict of interest, counterintelligence and extortion threats to ignore,” he said.

Biden Ukraine

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Of course you want the info. How can you not?

Ron Johnson Requests Documents From Biden, Archer’s Attorneys (JTN)

Senator Ron Johnson has requested information from the attorneys of Hunter Biden and Devon Archer after a bombshell Congressional report on Wednesday revealed that the duo had received millions in cash transfers from foreign nationals. A years-long investigation by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs and Senate Finance Committees revealed on Wednesday that, among other arrangements that raised red flags among government officials, Biden had received a $3.5 million wire transfer from a Moscow politician’s wife and Archer had received over $140,000 from a Kazakhstan businessman.


Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, told Just the News Editor-in-Chief John Solomon on Wednesday that Senate officials had reached out to attorneys representing the pair for further information regarding the revelations in the Senate report. “We have sent an email to both Devon Archer and Hunter Biden’s attorneys requesting information,” Johnson said on the podcast John Solomon Reports. The senator said that officials have also extended the two men “an opportunity to come in for a transcribed interview.” “From my standpoint, I think it’s important for us to gather this information, you know, validate it, publish it,” Johnson continued.

Sidney Powell

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Call him in, let him explain. Or do you want to give the Trump campaign free ammo? Or as Kunstler says: “If Mr. Biden actually shows up at next week’s debate, do you suppose that Mr. Trump will fail to bring up the subject?”

Hunter Biden Received $3.5m Wire Transfer From Russian Billionaire (NYP)

Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the richest woman in Russia and the widow of Yury Luzhkov, the former mayor of Moscow, Senate Republicans revealed in their report on the younger Biden’s work in Ukraine. Baturina is referenced in the 87-page report, which was released Wednesday, addressing her payment to Biden’s investment firm in early 2014. “Baturina became Russia’s only female billionaire when her plastics company, Inteko, received a series of Moscow municipal contracts while her husband was mayor,” it said in providing background on the businesswoman.

The report described her involvement with Biden as “a financial relationship,” but declined to delve deeper into why the wire transfer was made. The probe also found that Baturina sent 11 wires transfers between May and December 2015 to a bank account belonging to BAK USA, a tech startup that filed for bankruptcy in March 2019. Nine of those 11 wire transfers were first sent to Rosemont Seneca Partners, the investment firm founded by Biden and Chris Heinz, stepson of former Secretary of State John Kerry, before being transferred to BAK USA. All 11 transactions described the payments as “Loan Agreement” in the details section.

The report reads, “[B]etween May 6, 2015 and Dec. 8, 2015, Baturina sent 11 wires in the amount of $391,968.21 to a bank account belonging to BAK USA LLC (BAK USA). Nine of the 11 transactions, totaling $241,797.14 were sent from Baturina’s accounts to a Rosemont Seneca Thornton bank account, which then transferred to the money to BAK USA. The 11 transactions all listed ‘Loan Agreement’ in the payment details section. “BAK USA was a startup technology company headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y., that produced tablet computers in cooperation with unnamed Chinese business partners. BAK USA filed for bankruptcy on March 29, 2019, with a reported loss of $39 million. These transactions were identified because of Baturina’s reported criminal activity,” it continues.

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Paving the way for Hunter?!

Judge Orders Eric Trump To Testify Before Election In New York AG Probe (CNBC)

Eric Trump must testify in response to a subpoena from the New York Attorney General’s office before the presidential election as part of an investigation into whether President Donald Trump’s company improperly valued real estate assets in official statements, a judge ordered Wednesday. Eric Trump, who is the president’s middle son and a top executive in the Trump Organization, must testify no later than Oct. 7, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled after a hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court, where Trump’s lawyers had asked to delay his deposition until after the election. Engoron noted that, “Mr. Trump cites no authority in support of his request, and at any event, neither petitioner nor this court is bound by timelines of the national election.”


Attorney General Letitia James’s office called the ruling a “major victory.” “The court’s order today makes clear that no one is above the law, not even an organization or an individual with the name Trump,” James said in a prepared statement. The attorney general is investigating whether the New York-based Trump Organization improperly inflated the values of several real estate assets on annual financial statements that were used to obtain loans, as well as to get economic and tax benefits related to those properties. James last month had filed an action with the court seeking Eric Trump’s compliance with the subpoena after she said that he had reneged on an agreement to testify this summer.

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“If Mr. Biden actually shows up at next week’s debate, do you suppose that Mr. Trump will fail to bring up the subject?”

Swamp Thang (Kunstler)

The climate is changing, all right, but not in the way that some think it is. The political climate is changing, and what has been a pestilential subtropical sink on the Potomac is overdue for that cleansing we’ve heard about. Weeks from now, as the fetid water subsides, the protective miasma above will dissipate and the people from sea to shining sea will finally get a good look at the landscape revealed and the pitiful, wriggling, dying life-forms of the order Democratica stranded on it.

Case in point: Joe Biden. Many will wonder in the days to come whether the sole and otherwise inexplicable reason for his elevation to candidate-for-president was a ruse to avoid prosecution — his own and others. The matter was neatly laid out a year ago during the impeachment ploy: After the color revolution in Ukraine, 2014, Mr. Biden was designated not just “point man” overseeing American interests in that sad-sack country, but specifically as a watchdog against the notorious deep corruption of Ukraine’s entire political ecosystem — as if, you understand, the internal workings of Ukraine’s politics was any of our business in the first place.

The evidence aired publicly last year suggests that Mr. Biden jumped head-first and whole-heartedly into the hog-trough of loose money there, netting his son Hunter and cohorts millions of dollars for no-show jobs on the board of natgas company, Burisma. And then, of course, Mr. Biden stupidly bragged on a recorded panel session at the Council on Foreign Relations about threatening to withhold US aid money as a lever to induce Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko to fire a prosecutor looking into Burisma’s sketchy affairs. Naturally, the Democratic Party impeachment crew accused Mr. Trump of doing exactly what Mr. Biden accomplished a few years earlier.

The impeachment fizzled, but the charges and the odor of the Biden-Burisma scandal lingered without resolution — all the while that Mr. Biden posed as a presidential candidate in the primaries. This week, two Senate committees (Finance and Homeland) are expected to release a joint report detailing findings of their investigation into the Biden family’s exploits abroad. It is expected to not look good. Also implicated are the State Department officers in the Kiev embassy who pretended not to notice any of this, pointing also to their engagement in further shenanigans around the Trump-Clinton election of 2016 — a lot of that entwined in the Clinton-sponsored RussiaGate scheme. Will the committees be so bold as to issue criminal referrals to the Justice Department? If Mr. Biden actually shows up at next week’s debate, do you suppose that Mr. Trump will fail to bring up the subject? Does this finally force Mr. Biden’s withdrawal from what has been the most hollow, illusory, and dispirited campaign ever seen at this level in US political history?

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4-4 really is dangerous.

Trump Says Supreme Court Will Decide The Election, Needs A Ninth Justice (ZH)

Over the weekend, in the aftermath of Ruth Bader GInsburg’s death, we said that the “worst case scenario” for markets – a contested election – had become even more complicated as it now appeared that the US was heading into the most controversial election since Gore vs Bush with a SCOTUS that could end up deadlocked with a 4-4 vote should the election outcome escalate to the Supreme Court. It appears that the president agrees, because moments ago President Trump also predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide the outcome of the November election and argued the Senate should confirm his nominee – who we already know will be a conservative woman – to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to break any tie. Trump said that “I think this will end up in the Supreme Court and I think it’s very important to have nine justices.”


Speaking before reporters at the White House, he continued, claiming that “this scam that the Democrats are pulling, it’s a scam, this scam will be before the United States Supreme Court,” Trump plans on Saturday to announce a nominee to replace Ginsburg, a liberal icon who died Friday at 87. Lawyers representing Trump’s campaign are challenging mail-in voting rules in a host of states, as a result of Trump’s claims that mail-in voting is more susceptible to fraud than in-person voting on Election Day. As reported yesterday, there is a growing probability that the first major test of the new post-RBG iteration of the Supreme Court, which will soon have a 6-3 conservative majority, the GOP is planning to ask SCOTUS to review a major PA state court decision that extended the due date for mail-in ballots in a critical battleground state.

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They must have found a way to let bankers profit even from this.

Fed Prepares To Deposit “Digital Dollars” Directly To “Each American” (ZH)

Over the past decade, the one common theme despite the political upheaval and growing social and geopolitical instability, was that the market would keep marching higher and the Fed would continue injecting liquidity into the system. The second common theme is that despite sparking unprecedented asset price inflation, prices as measured across the broader economy – using the flawed CPI metric and certainly stagnant worker wages – would remain subdued (as a reminder, the Fed is desperate to ignite broad inflation as that is the only way the countless trillions of excess debt can be eliminated and has so far failed to do so).

The Fed’s failure to reach its inflation target – which prompted the US central bank to radically overhaul its monetary dogma last month and unveil Flexible Average Inflation Targeting (or FAIT) whereby the Fed will allow inflation to run hot without hiking rates – has sparked broad criticism from the economic establishment, even though as we showed in June, deflation is now a direct function of the Fed’s unconventional monetary policies as the lower yields slide, the lower the propensity to spend. In other words, the harder the Fed fights to stimulate inflation, the more deflation and more saving it spurs as a result.

In short, ever since the Fed launched QE and NIRP, it has been making the situation it has been trying to “fix” even worse while blowing the biggest asset price bubble in history. And having recently accepted that its preferred stimulus pathway has failed to boost the broader economy, the blame has fallen on how monetary policy is intermediated, specifically the way the Fed creates excess reserves which end up at commercial banks instead of “tricking down” all the way to the consumer level.

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The Fed will have you covered.

46% of Americans Struggle To Pay Rent, Bills (NPR)

Jean was one of more than 3,000 people who took part in a new poll released Wednesday from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her story is an especially stark example of how pandemic financial stress is playing out. But the poll found many people reported problems with housing, health care and unsafe workplaces, and a high percentage of Americans — 46% — said they’re having “serious financial problems.” Nearly one out of three respondents had used up all or most of their savings. “Our surprise is how large the numbers are,” says Robert Blendon, a Harvard University public health professor who worked on the poll.


He notes that the poll was conducted during July, months after Congress approved an extra $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits that were still supposed to be flowing to people. Stimulus checks had gone out, too. And yet so many said they’re struggling. One in six households even reported missing or delaying paying major bills just so they could buy food. Blendon says it’s like the government sent 100 Federal Emergency Management Agency trucks into a disaster zone, but a lot of people never saw them or got help. “It’s just like interviewing people in a hurricane area and the people are telling you there’s no relief,” he says, when “it should be there.”

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EU governments all committed the same mistakes. And brute force is not the answer.

UK New Covid Restrictions Unscientific Mumbo Jumbo, Exercise In Futility (RT)

I accept my dissenting voice may not be heeded by the UK government, but when a former Supreme Court judge delivers a damning verdict that the rules are ‘pointless, arbitrary and unnecessary’, shouldn’t they be listening? The UK has announced a fresh suite of draconian Covid restrictions, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning they could be in place for six months. But, like all previous attempts, the new rules are worse than useless. You’ve all heard the new rules by now, so I won’t analyse the details of what the individual implications will be. Just as poring over a government white paper based on astrology would be pointless, tepid nit-picking within the nascent pseudoscience of ‘Covidology’ is an exercise in futility. It’s also an immediate acceptance of the quacks’ terms of the argument.

‘The rule of six’ could be ‘the rule of seven’, the pubs could close at midnight or 10pm, level 4, 5 or 75 could be enforced – none of this would make any difference. Nor is it acceptable. The fiddled numbers, the fake compromises, the newspeak – all of it is misdirection. In a nutshell, this doubling down means nothing less than the acceleration of an end to the free, decent life to which all human beings are born entitled. Only a total return to normality should be demanded, and it’s non-negotiable. Just ask former Supreme Court justice Lord Jonathan Sumption, who has been making waves this week with his scathing analysis of the government’s madcap plot. He’s dubbed Johnson’s ‘rule of six’ “pointless, arbitrary and unnecessary”.

It’s pointless, he says, because, without a Stasi-like secret army of citizen spies, it cannot be enforced. He is correct, of course (although I don’t consider the likelihood of an army of snitchers quite as unlikely as he seems to). It’s arbitrary because it’s far from universal – people mix in much larger numbers in schools and workplaces, on public transport and in the streets, all of which is essential. And it’s unnecessary because the increase in positive tests is being driven – as Health Secretary Matt Hancock is so fond of reminding us – by the young, to whom the disease poses relatively little threat.

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Rapid test them 2x a week. What are you waiting for?

Feared Coronavirus Outbreaks In Schools Yet To Arrive (WaPo)

Thousands of students and teachers have become sick with the coronavirus since schools began opening last month, but public health experts have found little evidence that the virus is spreading inside buildings, and the rates of infection are far below what is found in the surrounding communities. This early evidence, experts say, suggests that opening schools may not be as risky as many have feared and could guide administrators as they chart the rest of what is already an unprecedented school year. “Everyone had a fear there would be explosive outbreaks of transmission in the schools. In colleges, there have been. We have to say that, to date, we have not seen those in the younger kids, and that is a really important observation,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

This does not mean the risk of contracting the coronavirus is zero. Poor and inconsistent reporting in many parts of the country means that experts do not yet have a full view of the situation, and most schools have been open for only a few weeks. It’s also unclear how closely the incidence of the coronavirus in schools is tied to policies in schools such as mandatory mask-wearing. Most of the nation’s largest districts opened with fully remote teaching, so the data are largely from smaller communities. And the pandemic may grow worse as flu season and winter approaches. But the fact that large swaths of the country opened for in-person school while others did not offers the more cautious districts a chance to observe how things have gone elsewhere in charting their next steps.

On Wednesday, researchers at Brown University, working with school administrators, released their first set of data from a new National COVID-19 School Response Data Dashboard, created to track coronavirus cases. It found low levels of infection among students and teachers. Tracking infections over a two-week period beginning Aug. 31, it found that 0.23 percent of students had a confirmed or suspected case of the coronavirus. Among teachers, it was 0.49 percent. Looking only at confirmed cases, the rates were even lower: 0.078 percent for students and 0.15 percent for teachers.

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I know a few people who will refuse any such implant.

DARPA-Funded Biochip Implant to Detect COVID-19 Could Hit Market by 2021 (MPN)

The most significant scientific discovery since gravity has been hiding in plain sight for nearly a decade and its destructive potential to humanity is so enormous that the biggest war machine on the planet immediately deployed its vast resources to possess and control it, financing its research and development through agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and HHS’ BARDA. The revolutionary breakthrough came to a Canadian scientist named Derek Rossi in 2010 purely by accident. The now-retired Harvard professor claimed in an interview with the National Post that he found a way to “reprogram” the molecules that carry the genetic instructions for cell development in the human body, not to mention all biological lifeforms.

These molecules are called ‘messenger ribonucleic acid’ or mRNA and the newfound ability to rewrite those instructions to produce any kind of cell within a biological organism has radically changed the course of Western medicine and science, even if no one has really noticed yet. As Rossi, himself, puts it: “The real important discovery here was you could now use mRNA, and if you got it into the cells, then you could get the mRNA to express any protein in the cells, and this was the big thing.” [..] As early as 2006, DARPA was already researching how to identify viral, upper respiratory pathogens through its Predicting Health and Disease (PHD) program, which led to the creation of the agency’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO) [..]. In 2014, DARPA’s BTO launched its “In Vivo Nanoplatforms” (IVN) program, which researches implantable nanotechnologies, leading to the development of ‘hydrogel’.

Hydrogel is a nanotechnology whose inventor early on boasted that “If [it] pans out, with approval from FDA, then consumers could get the sensors implanted in their core to measure their levels of glucose, oxygen, and lactate.” This contact lens-like material requires a special injector to be introduced under the skin where it can transmit light-based digital signals through a wireless network like 5G. Once firmly implanted inside the body, human cells are at the mercy of any mRNA program delivered via this substrate, unleashing a nightmare of possibilities. It is, perhaps, the first true step towards full-on transhumanism; a “philosophy” that is in vogue with many powerful and influential people, such as Google’s Ray Kurzweil and Eric Schmidt and whose proponents see the fusion of technology and biology as an inevitable consequence of human progress.

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It’s getting beyond depravity.

Assange Could Crochet And Play Bingo In Supermax Prison, US Prosecutor (SMH)

The US government has suggested that Julian Assange would not be held in solitary confinement and would be able to crochet and play bingo if he is extradited and jailed on spying charges. The revelation emerged at Assange’s extradition hearing underway at London’s Old Bailey which has this week been focussed on Assange’s mental health. His defence team has called witnesses to testify that he has Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s, anxiety, hears voices, is depressed and would take his own life if he loses his legal battle. The court has heard that Assange has withheld telling doctors his true mental state while detained in Belmarsh Prison because he fears being placed in solitary confinement.

Assange remains in custody while he fights his extradition arguing that his human rights would be violated. Psychiatrist, Michael Kopelman, emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, has previously told the court that if Assange is extradited there is a “very high” risk the father of four would take his own life rather than serve out any sentence in a US supermax prison. But Seena Fazel, a professor in forensic psychiatry at Oxford University, who interviewed Assange earlier this year said that he found the prisoner to be “moderately depressed,” an improvement on the severely depressed state he accepted Assange was in as recently as December last year.

Fazel appeared for the prosecution. He disagreed with a psychiatrist called by the defence on Tuesday about the likelihood of Assange committing suicide. He said the 49-year old had shown himself capable of managing his own suicide risk, by taking medication, undergoing counselling and accessing support from the Samaritans – a British mental health charity. On Tuesday the court was told that Assange has made preparations for death, including writing farewell letters, receiving absolution from a Catholic priest and preparing a will.

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Imagine having your medical record laid out like this in public, for reasons that have nothing to do with what you are -falsely- accused of. That, too, is a form of torture.

‘Clear’ Julian Assange Is On Autistic Spectrum, Doctor Tells Court (PG)

A psychiatrist has told the extradition hearing of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange it is “clear” he is on the autistic spectrum. Dr Quinton Deeley, a consultant neuropsychiatrist, diagnosed Assange with Asperger’s syndrome after witnessing a two-hour autism assessment and conducting six hours of phone calls with the 49-year-old in Belmarsh prison. Assange is fighting extradition to the US, where he is facing an 18-count indictment alleging a plot to hack computers and conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information. Giving evidence on Wednesday, Dr Deeley, who also spoke to Assange’s parents during his assessment, said: “To my mind, it’s clear Mr Assange presents as a person with an autistic spectrum condition. “He’s an intelligent person, he’s learnt to adapt to some of those characteristics.”

The Old Bailey heard Assange refused to complete two components of the autism test, including a task to act out brushing his teeth and answering questions about his daily “self-management” or “self-care” routine because he found them “demeaning”. James Lewis QC, for the US government, suggested: “It’s highly unusual for people to refuse these tests?” Dr Deeley, who said he has assessed hundreds of people to determine if they are autistic, replied: “Correct.” He described Assange as “an intelligent person” who shares the characteristics of “many high-functioning people on the autistic spectrum”, including engineers and computer scientists.

Dr Deeley said he has “difficulty discussing his own emotions”, with a “primary focus on his own thoughts and interests” and noted a “failure to initiate or sustain” conversations. Assange’s mother, Christine, told the doctor her son as a child “had a preference for solitary play” but made a small number of friendships in his teens with “geeky” boys who shared his interest in computers, the court heard. The court also heard Assange’s close friend Suelette Dreyfus referred to his “Edwardian style of speaking”, such as talking about Coca-Cola as mead, “like he’s been reading Jane Austen novels”.

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There are two precedents that did not get extradited for this reason.

Doctor Diagnosed Julian Assange With Asperger’s Syndrome (Gosztola)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, while detained in the Belmarsh high-security prison in London. This likely increases Assange’s risk of suicide if confined in restrictive prison conditions in the United States, according to a psychiatrist who testified at his extradition trial. Dr. Quinton Deeley, who works for the National Health Service (NHS), conducted an Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) test on Assange and produced a report. He interviewed Assange for six hours in July. Assange told Deeley he feared he would be held in isolation in a U.S. prison. He was afraid of the fresh indictment. He was also concerned about the fate of Joshua Schulte, who was held in harsh confinement conditions prior to his trial for allegedly disclosing the “Vault 7” materials to WikiLeaks. (Schulte’s case resulted in a mistrial in March.)

The U.S. Justice Department charged Assange with 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime that, as alleged in the indictment, is written like an Espionage Act offense. The charges criminalize the act of merely receiving classified information, as well as the publication of state secrets from the U.S. government. It targets common practices in newsgathering, which is why the case is widely opposed by press freedom organizations throughout the world. In the cases of Lauri Love and Gary McKinnon, the U.S. government was blocked from extraditing them because the United Kingdom High Court of Justice (Love) and the British Home Secretary (McKinnon) recognized their Asperger’s syndrome would result in degrading or inhuman treatment that violated human rights.

Love was accused of hacking into systems controlled by the Federal Reserve, U.S. Army, and a number of other government agencies. McKinnon was accused by the U.S. government of the “biggest military computer hack of all time.” Edward Fitzgerald represented Love, and he is part of Assange’s legal team, and the arguments against extradition that Fitizgerald put forward in Love’s case are nearly identical to the arguments in this case. Particularly: (1) The mere fact of extradition and detention in the United States would be likely to lead to a serious deterioration in the mental health of Mr. Love (2) To the extent that suicide was prevented by Mr. Love being placed on suicide watch, the conditions in which he would be held on suicide watch, or in segregation, would lead to a serious and permanent deterioration in his mental health, which was also related to his physical health.

James Lewis, the lead prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Authority, which represents the U.S. government in this case, went after Deeley and attempted to discredit his diagnosis. He said Assange has written books, given speeches, and hosted a “chat show” for RT. Plus, no other psychiatrist who saw Assange diagnosed him with Asperger’s syndrome. “It’s possible to both have a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and to demonstrate expertise and be authoritative and knowledgeable when talking about certain topics,” Deeley replied.

Read more …

 

 

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Sep 012020
 
 September 1, 2020  Posted by at 9:14 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  18 Responses »


Rembrandt van Rijn Head of a Bearded Man c1630

 

Trump’s America (Newsweek)
Chris Cillizza Blasts President Trump For Using The Word “Riots” (Turley)
The Puppet Candidate in Two Pictures (CT)
Appeals Court Denies Flynn Request To Dismiss Case (ZH)
Russiagate Won’t End: US Appeals Court Reverses Decision To End Flynn Case (RT)
Lucifer’s Hammer (Ben Hunt)
No One Wants to Solve Real Problems (Geraghty)
Coronavirus May Survive On Outdoor Surfaces For Longer In Autumn (SCMP)
Inhaled Nitric Oxide Therapy Benefits Pregnant COVID19 Patients (Harvard)
Bill of Particulars (Jim Kunstler)
Just Put Your Brain on Tesla Autopilot and Believe in It (WS)
Norwegian Researchers Call Against Cleansing Seas Of Plastic Waste (RT)
Waiting for the Old Bailey: Julian Assange (OffG)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biden 100 years

 

 

 

 

Trump Rittenhouse

 

 

The polls indicated Biden had to be dragged out of his basement to start blaming Trump for the riots and violence. Looks like a hard sell. Certainly when you won’t even allow for Trump to say “riot”.

Trump’s America (Newsweek)

For months, the national media has largely ignored the sustained violent activism plaguing Democrat-run cities. When they do cover these events, it’s portrayed the same way Democratic lawmakers—and the Biden campaign—have chosen to describe them: as “peaceful protests.” But after four effective days of coverage from the Republican National Convention (RNC), shining a spotlight on what’s actually happening, suddenly Democrats are striking a different tone. Now, the Biden-Harris ticket, along with their surrogates, claim the violence in Portland, Kenosha, Seattle, Chicago and the nation’s capital are President Donald Trump’s fault. This is happening, they argue, in “Trump’s America.” The leftists in national media, of course, happily forward the very same dishonest talking point. It will gloriously backfire.

On NBC’s Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd finally tackled the rioting after a deadly night in Portland that left dead someone who appears to be a Trump supporter. He asked Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, if Trump should bear responsibility: “This in Donald Trump’s America. How much responsibility should voters be giving the president for his inability to…keep the streets safe?” Over at CNN, they do much the same. Struggling to make his point, perhaps because he knows how dishonest it is, host Anderson Cooper stumbled his way through the same “this is Trump’s America” talking point. He then used the same talking point the following morning to set up a softball question to Biden, who responded that the “video [of violence] being played is video being played in Donald Trump’s America.”

This talking point is transparently dishonest and offensively dumb. Literally all of the sustained rioting and other violence has occured in Democrat-run cities. The federal government does not have jurisdiction to always send in the feds to wander rioting streets and quell the civil unrest. If Trump did always have such authority and if he acted upon it, he’d be called a fascist. Indeed, Democrats already call him just that. Trump has offered help many times to cities and states that are dealing with these issues. In Portland, feckless Mayor Ted Wheeler bragged about smugly rejecting Trump’s assistance in an August 28 letter that he posted to Twitter. He told the president, “We don’t need your politics of division and demagoguery.”

That night, activists gained entry into Wheeler’s condo, where they occupied the lobby. The next night, after trying to forcibly stop Trump supporters from protesting, a man in a conservative Patriot Front hat was shot to death. This is Trump’s fault? After the president’s RNC speech, mobs of far-left activists harassed and assaulted cops and conservatives leaving the White House. Other mobs spent Saturday night harassing D.C. diners who are supporting restaurants struggling to stay open amidst a pandemic. This is Trump’s doing? Trump has not just been rebuffed by progressive mayors. His offers of help have been met with insidious claims that Trump is really just practicing a dry-run for martial law, in the event he were to lose the election. And the media has been there to dutifully forward that dangerous claim.

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“.. the majority of citizens believe that the media actively misrepresents facts. Roughly half view the media as biased. This is why. Of course, this is looting and rioting.”

Chris Cillizza Blasts President Trump For Using The Word “Riots” (Turley)

We have previously discussed how some media organizations told their journalists not to call violence after the death of George Floyd “riots,” including the recently much mocked headline of CNN calling the looting and violence in Kenosha “fiery but mostly peaceful.” Now, Chris Cillizza, an editor-at-large for CNN, is under fire for criticized President Donald Trump for labeling the violence in places like Kenoska “riots.” Critics have noted that the picture posted by Cillizza with this tweet shows a building engulfed in flames. Lawyers notoriously parse terms in ways that often deny their obvious meaning but this effort by some in the media would make a Philadelphia lawyer blush. Cillizza tweeted “Trump’s efforts to label what is happening in major cities as ‘riots’ speaks at least somewhat to his desperation, politically speaking, at the moment.”

I do not deny that both sides are using these riots for political purposes. Trump is using the violence to reinforce a law-and-order theme while Democratic politicians are blaming him for the violence and calling for the 2020 election to be a referendum on racial justice. It is the parsing of the term that intrigues me. In Portland, the Portland police have reportedly declared 13 riots in 80 days. Newspapers in these cities have referred to rioting from Portland to Minneapolis to Kenosa. David Brown, the Chicago Police superintendent, said, “This was not an organized protest, rather, this was an incident of pure criminality.” The coverage of recent looting and rioting has been uneven with networks like CNN spending comparatively limited time reporting on the violence while Fox is covering it exhaustively.

Other outlets like NPR have run segments on how the word “rioting” has racist roots. Whether there are riots depends on what news outlet you use. It is the new reality of echo-journalism. Of course, this dispute turns on a noun that is clearly defined as “public violence, tumult, or disorder.” [..] We have been discussing the concern by many that networks like CNN shape the news to fit a narrative. Fox and MSNBC have been accused of the same practice. Many in the public do not know where to turn for unbiased reporting on the left or the right, according to various polls. Even in acknowledging the importance of the media to our system, the majority of citizens believe that the media actively misrepresents facts. Roughly half view the media as biased. This is why. Of course, this is looting and rioting.

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This was advertized as a “campaign rally”. He was flown out to Pennsylvania for the event, first time he left Delaware in a long time.

The Puppet Candidate in Two Pictures (CT)

This is the image the mainstream media portray:

This is the image that actually reflects the event:

Any questions?…

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In the US today, an Appeals Court can reverse a decision by the DOJ, which all the judges in the court in the end work for. DOJ, prosecution, and defense all agreed the case should be dropped. Months ago.

Appeals Court Denies Flynn Request To Dismiss Case (ZH)

Michael Flynn’s request to force a judge to immediately dismiss his case was shot down by a federal appeals court on Monday. In an 8-2 ruling, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Flynn’s petition to force Judge Emmett Sullivan to accept the Justice Department’s motion to drop charges without holding a hearing, according to The Hill. Flynn’s request that Sullivan be forced to recuse himself was also struck down, after his legal team argued that the judge acted improperly when he appointed a partisan outside attorney to argue against the DOJ’s decision to drop the case, and that it was inappropriate to ask the full circuit court to revisit an earlier decision by a three-member panel of the DC Circuit to drop the case.


Unless Flynn’s lawyers appeal to the Supreme Court, Sullivan will be able to move forward with a hearing about the DOJ’s unusual reversal in the case, before deciding whether to allow the Trump administration to withdraw its charges against the president’s former close aide. Flynn had pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in 2016 election.” -The Hill. The DOJ filed a motion to drop the case against Flynn in May, after it was revealed that the FBI engaged in a ‘perjury trap’ against the former Trump National Security Adviser.

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“After producing documents revealing that the FBI set out to entrap Flynn, had no valid cause to interview him in the first place, and the prosecutors improperly extorted him into a plea by threatening to charge his son, the Justice Department moved to drop all charges.”

Russiagate Won’t End: US Appeals Court Reverses Decision To End Flynn Case (RT)

A full-bench US federal appeals court has reversed an earlier decision to dismiss the ‘Russiagate’ case against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, returning it to the judge who refused to let the charges be dropped. In a 8-2 ruling on Monday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Judge Emmet Sullivan, and sent the case back to him for review. Sullivan had been ordered by a three-judge panel in June to drop the case against Flynn immediately, but hired an attorney and asked for an en banc hearing instead. [..] The former top lawyer for the Barack Obama administration, Neal Katyal, hailed the decision as “an important step in defending the rule of law” and argued the case should not be dismissed because Flynn had pleaded guilty.

Sidney Powell

Flynn had indeed pleaded guilty to one charge of lying to the FBI, but Powell moved to dismiss the charges due to the failure of his previous attorneys – a law firm with ties to the Democrats – and the government to disclose evidence that could set him free. After producing documents revealing that the FBI set out to entrap Flynn, had no valid cause to interview him in the first place, and the prosecutors improperly extorted him into a plea by threatening to charge his son, the Justice Department moved to drop all charges. Sullivan had other ideas, however. In a highly unusual move, he appointed a retired judge – who had just written a diatribe about the case in the Washington Post – to be amicus curiae and argue the case should not be dropped. It was at this point that Powell took the case to the appeals court, citing Fokker, a recent Supreme Court precedent that Sullivan was violating.

Ignoring the fact that Sullivan had appointed the amicus and sought to prolong the case after the DOJ and the appeals court both told him to drop it, the en banc panel argued the proper procedure means he needs to make the decision before it can be appealed. One of the judges, Thomas Griffith, actually argued in a concurring opinion that it would be “highly unusual” for Sullivan not to dismiss the charges, given the executive branch’s constitutional prerogatives and his “limited discretion” when it came to the relevant federal procedure, but said that an order to drop the case is not “appropriate in this case at this time” because it’s up to Sullivan to make the call first.

[..] With Mueller failing to find any evidence of “collusion” between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, Democrats have latched onto Flynn’s case as proof of their ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory. The latest argument is that the effort to drop the charges against Flynn is politically motivated and proof of Attorney General Bill Barr’s “corruption.” Barr is currently overseeing a probe by US attorney John Durham into the FBI’s handling of the investigation against Trump during and after the 2016 election, with the evidence disclosed during the Flynn proceedings strongly implicating not just the senior FBI leadership but senior Obama administration figures as well.

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“Neither the Democratic party nor the Republican party survives a defeat this November in anything close to their current form. I think several people are starting to think about that. But here’s what’s also true: Neither the Democratic party nor the Republican party survives a victory this November. And no one is thinking about that.”

Lucifer’s Hammer (Ben Hunt)

Four years ago, when I wrote that I thought Trump would defeat Clinton, I said that Trump breaks us by turning every one of our domestic political games from a coordination game – where cooperation in the national interest is at least possible – into a pure competition game where that potential cooperation is impossible. He did. That’s exactly what happened. So today, neither the Trump campaign nor the Biden campaign can see the United States through anything other than the lens of a pure competition game.

Neither campaign or party will take the necessary steps to defuse the growing violence in American cities, like Biden calling for Democratic mayors to request National Guard support or like Trump doing anything to accommodate the voices of nonviolent protesters, because they both think that to do so would place them at a competitive disadvantage in the November election. Neither campaign or party is appropriately afraid of this comet hitting the United States, because they both think that they’ll do just fine in a post-comet world.

They both think that they can handle the aftermath of this comet strike after November 4th. They both are listening to their institutional Ego rather than to the Narrator. They are both sowing the wind. And they will both reap the whirlwind. Neither the Democratic party nor the Republican party survives a defeat this November in anything close to their current form. I think several people are starting to think about that. But here’s what’s also true: Neither the Democratic party nor the Republican party survives a victory this November. And no one is thinking about that.

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That 6% figure from the CDC that so many are touting is not what it seems.

No One Wants to Solve Real Problems (Geraghty)

The president of the United States retweeted a link to a post on Gateway Pundit, asserting that the real death toll from COVID-19 is merely 9,000, and that the other roughly 178,000 deaths were because of other factors. That was a pretty egregious misinterpretation of the CDC’s data; the CDC stated, “For 6 percent of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned [on the death certificate]. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.” The list of conditions is long and varied: diabetes, various heart-related conditions including hypertension, cardiac arrest, ischemic heart disease (hardening of the arteries), cardiac arrhythmia and heart disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic lower respiratory diseases, obesity, an immunocompromised state from an organ transplant, coronary art disease, or sickle cell disease.

None of the conditions listed above are death sentences by themselves. With treatment and medication, most people diagnosed with those conditions can live long and happy lives. No one with the slightest understanding of human health can look at someone with one of those conditions listed above dying from COVID-19 and conclude, “that person was going to die soon anyway.” And if your takeaway from this data is that SARS-CoV-2 is only a risk to those with one of those conditions . . . great, now we just have to worry about the 100 million or so Americans with diabetes or prediabetes, the roughly 100 million Americans with high blood pressure, the one in three American adults at risk for chronic kidney disease, the 16 million to 24 million Americans believed to be at risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the 1 in 500 adults who have cardiomyopathy, the millions of Americans either being treated for cancer or who have recovered from cancer, the roughly 100,000 Americans with sickle cell disease, the nearly 49,000 Americans who had an organ transplant last year, and the slightly smaller number of transplant recipients this year.

There are some overlaps among those groups, but we have plenty of Americans who have one or more comorbidities and who would be at risk if they caught SARS-CoV-2.

6%

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Well, we’re all going to be cleaner anyway.

Coronavirus May Survive On Outdoor Surfaces For Longer In Autumn (SCMP)

As the northern hemisphere heads into autumn, the coronavirus may be able to survive on outdoor surfaces for much longer, according to a new US study. Researchers found that in lower temperatures and humidity, the virus could, for example, remain on a hiker’s jacket if it was outside for a week – and remain infectious for that time – whereas in summer its lifespan was estimated to be one to three days. The prolonged survival of the virus on surfaces in autumn could “potentially contribute to new outbreaks”, the team led by Juergen Richt, professor of veterinary microbiology at Kansas State University, wrote in a non-peer-reviewed paper posted on preprint website bioRxiv.org on Monday. They believed the virus would also survive for longer indoors in colder and less humid conditions.

The study found it had an average half-life – or rate of decay – of nearly eight hours on a stainless steel doorknob, or nearly 10 hours on a window, which was about to twice the duration in summer. The coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19, has adapted well to humans. But to survive outside its human hosts – it spreads through respiratory droplets and contaminated surfaces – the pathogen is believed to prefer lower temperatures and humidity. For the study, Richt’s team used climate data from America’s Midwest to recreate artificial seasons in biosafety chambers. Temperature was controlled at 13 degrees Celsius and 66 per cent relative humidity for spring and autumn, while for summer it was kept at 25 degrees and 70 per cent. The virus was then applied to the surface of 12 materials people come into contact with every day, such as cardboard, concrete, rubber, gloves and N95 masks.

The aim was to find out if the viability of the virus changed with the season. Earlier in the pandemic, the research community had hoped the spread of the virus would slow in summer, believing it would be less likely to stay in the air in warmer weather. But the resurgence of infections in many areas – especially the United States, the worst-hit country where more than 80,000 cases per day were recorded at the peak of summer – raised the question of whether there was any seasonal impact at all. The result of the Midwest study “clearly demonstrates that the virus survives longer under spring/fall not summer conditions”, the researchers said in the paper. That trend was observed on all materials tested, to varying degrees. Out of all of them, the virus survived longest on Tyvek, a synthetic material used in everything from home insulation to personal protective equipment and outdoor wear, with a half-life of up to 45 hours.

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So try it on all patients?

Inhaled Nitric Oxide Therapy Benefits Pregnant COVID19 Patients (Harvard)

Inhaled nitric oxide (NO) can be a valuable adjunct respiratory therapy for pregnant women with severe and critical COVID-19, a team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has found. The delivery of the therapeutic gas to six COVID-19 pregnant patients admitted to MGH, as described in a paper in Obstetrics & Gynecology, resulted in a rapid and sustained improvement in cardiopulmonary function and decreased inflammation. The resolution of viral infection within 22 days was observed in five of the six patients, findings that could have important implications for treating viruses like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The study is the first to investigate the role of inhaled NO in pregnant people with COVID-19.

The patients experienced rapid relief from breathlessness, a lower respiratory rate, and better oxygenation after mask administration of high concentration NO, according to Lorenzo Berra in the Department of Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at MGH. Berra also reported no negative side effects. “In addition, inflammatory markers showed a rapid decrease after breathing NO and five of the six patients in our study showed viral clearance from nasopharyngeal swabs by 22 days after COVID-19 diagnosis,” Berra, corresponding author of the study, added. “All patients were discharged in stable condition from the hospital. We found these results to be very encouraging.”

Inhaled NO increases oxygenation by dilating or opening constricted blood vessels, especially in more well-ventilated areas of the lung, thereby improving intrapulmonary shunt fraction, or the percentage of blood put out by the heart that is not completely oxygenated. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized, are at increased risk of being admitted to the intensive care unit, and more often require mechanical ventilation compared to nonpregnant women.

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“I’m against them heart and soul, and I no longer care what my old friends think about it.”

Bill of Particulars (Jim Kunstler)

RussiaGate was, in the strict sense of the word, a conspiracy to overthrow a president carried out by a coordinated effort of high-ranking government employees across many agencies, who knew exactly what they were doing. It was an exercise in perfidy, bad faith, and lawlessness run by the very Department of Justice entrusted with enforcing federal law, including attorney Andrew Weissmann’s clean-up crew fronted by the dishonorable figurehead Robert Mueller. It remains unresolved due to the tensions in that department and the obdurate resistance of the federal courts — for example in the three-year persecution of General Flynn. The eventual day that the hammer comes down on the perps of RussiaGate, if ever it does come, will be a moment of historic moral and ethical clarification in this sore-beset country.

The 2019 impeachment fiasco was a parallel ruse run by Representative Adam Schiff, former Department of Justice lawyer Mary McCord, and Lawfare warrior Daniel S. Goldman, with help from Resistance intriguers in the National Security Council, Eric Ciaramella and Alexander Vindman, and Hillary Clinton’s holdover confederates in the State Department. Mr. Ciaramella’s pretense to be acting as a “whistleblower” was a nakedly false act, illegally abetted by Intel Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, himself a former DOJ RussiaGate player. It is amazing that neither of these two has been indicted for sedition.

Add to these matters the associated misdeeds in the FISA courts, the ridiculous, scurrilous charges against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh by the mendacious Christine Blasey Ford, the ongoing schemes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer to rig the vote with unverifiable mail-in ballots, and the wholesale acts against the public interest by Democratic mayors and governors such as Ted Wheeler, Kate Brown, Bill de Blasio, Andrew Cuomo, Lori Lightfoot, J.B. Pritzker, Ralph Northam, Jacob Frey, Tim Walz, Muriel Bowser, Eric Garcetti, Gavin Newsom, Tony Evers and a wider rogues’ gallery of other Democratic Party subalterns such as Minnesota AG Keith Ellison and NYC education Chancellor Richard Carranza and you have a nearly complete picture of this odious faction.

Finally, add the cherry-on-top: Democratic candidate for president, Joe Biden. Does anybody still believe he is a plausible chief executive — even in his own degenerate party? I doubt it. Why they engineered his nomination may remain one of the great mysteries of human existence. Except perhaps to speculate that their sadism has turned inward and become a suicidal death-wish. They are finally so miserably contemptible that they just want to end it all. Personally, I don’t want to see any of these people anywhere near the levers of power in this country. Quite a few of them deserve to be in jail, and I believe before Mr. Trump’s second term is up, they will be — if they don’t try to wreck the United States altogether with new treasons in the November election. I’m against them heart and soul, and I no longer care what my old friends think about it.

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As someone tweeted earlier: all we have to do now is wait for Tesla to buy Berkshire Hathaway.

Just Put Your Brain on Tesla Autopilot and Believe in It (WS)

Let’s get this straight: Tesla is led by a CEO who is regularly seen walking on water, and its shares are a supernatural phenomenon. Today, those shares, trading for the first time after the 5-for-1 split, surged from $442.61 at the open to $498.32 at the close and then on to $514.74 after-hours at the moment. That’s a 16.3% ride in one day, following weeks of supernatural moves into the heavens. Below is my Triple-WTF Chart of the Year because it just blew away and annihilated my WTF-Chart of the Year of February 4 and my Double-WTF Chart of the Year of July 1 (stock prices via YCharts):

The stock split did the job, based on the logic that a five-dollar bill broken into five ones makes each of those ones suddenly worth $1.16 — or $1.87 if you start counting since the announcement of the split on August 11. I mean, it’s just pure supernatural, and if you don’t get it, too bad, it’s a sign that you just don’t have the right stuff. Back on July 1, Tesla surpassed Toyota as the most valuable automaker in the world. At the time, Tesla traded at $226 a share ($1,130 pre-split). Since that propitious date two months ago, Tesla has skyrocketed another 127%.


At the time when it blew past Toyota, the value that the market put on Tesla (outstanding shares times share price) was $210 billion, which was – and I mean was – a huge number. Now, after-hours, Tesla’s market capitalization, according to YCharts, is $476 billion. Today alone, Tesla’s market cap soared by $64 billion in eight hours, including after hours. That’s $8 billion in “value created” per hour. If you have to ask, “value created by doing what,” then you don’t have the right stuff. Simple as that.

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I can see how trawling is a problem, but how does that mean there is no point in cleaning it up? How about a different method?

Norwegian Researchers Call Against Cleansing Seas Of Plastic Waste (RT)

Cleaning floating plastic from the sea is a “lost cause” and trying to remove it can actually do more harm than good, new research suggests. Instead, clean-up efforts should focus on rubbish washed ashore. Trying to clean up plastic pollution from the open seas is a “waste of time and resources,” researchers with the Norwegian-based SALT company have concluded. “The rubbish in the sea is a lost cause, there is no point in cleaning it up,” the team said in a newly released research paper. Assorted plastic, that is floating around the seas is way too scattered to be easily removed, the researchers argued. Attempting to trawl it out is not only disproportionately costly and time-consuming, but it can also do more harm than good.

Trawling large areas will catch “too much fish and wildlife compared with the amount of rubbish,” the research team noted. “In addition, rubbish is often found in marine life and organic material that is important for the ecosystems and animals that live there. In the worst case, we risk doing more harm than good by trawling over the areas,” lead author of the research paper Jannike Falk-Andersson told broadcaster NRK. Instead of wasting time and recourses on the high seas clean-ups, people should focus on hand-picking trash washed ashore, which is a far more gentle and effective method. “There, you pick one thing at a time. You do not drag large objects across the beach that kills everything it comes across, in an attempt to clean up,” Falk-Andersson explained.

The research has been praised by Norway’s Climate and Environment Minister Sveinung Rotevatn, who, at the same time, described the plastic pollution as a rapidly escalating problem that must be tackled with a broad international effort. “It is very good that a critical spotlight is placed on clearing plastic in the sea. We have long pointed out that cleaning in the sea areas starts at the wrong end and that there is a risk of damage to life in the sea when trawling for plastic,” Rotevatn told NRK. Over the past years, plastic pollution has become one of the main environmental problems with the amount of waste floating around the oceans growing at alarming rates. According to various estimates, some 15 tons of plastic gets into the planet’s seas every minute.

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How many British people realize they have no justice system left? Doesn’t that worry you?

Waiting for the Old Bailey: Julian Assange (OffG)

On September 7, Julian Assange will be facing another round of gruelling extradition proceedings, in the Old Bailey, part of a process that has become a form of gradual state-sanctioned torture. The US Department of Justice hungers for their man. The UK prison authorities are doing little to protect his health. The end result, should it result in his death, will be justifiably described as state-sanctioned murder. This picture was not improved upon by a prison visit from his partner, Stella Morris, accompanied by their two children. Almost six months had passed since the last meeting. Physical distancing was practised during the twenty-minute meeting in Belmarsh Prison.

Morris and Assange wore face masks and visors, a state of affairs curious given the conspicuous lack of protective wear that has been given to Assange during the pandemic. A prohibition on touching was observed. “We had to keep social distancing and Julian was told he would have to self-isolate for two weeks if he touched the children.” Were officials being careful and considerate? Not according to Assange, who claimed it was the first time he had received a mask “because things are very different behind the doors.” Morris noted a prevailing thinness, a yellow armband to indicate prisoner status, and the fact that he was “in a lot of pain.”

What awaits Assange next month promises to be resoundingly ugly. He will have to ready himself for more pain, applied by Judge Vanessa Baraitser. Throughout her steering of proceedings, Baraitser has remained chillingly indifferent to Assange’s needs, a model of considered cruelty. Keen followers of justicia will be crestfallen: limiting access to legal counsel by keeping him caged behind a glass screen; ignoring his health considerations in refusing emergency bail during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her behaviour has been in keeping with that of Chief Magistrate Lady Emma Arbuthnot, who has done her precious bit to soil the citadel of British justice in previous rulings on Assange. With a family well and truly embedded in the British intelligence and military establishment, it was alarming to even see her name allocated to the Assange case.

Read more …

 

 

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Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

Three miles north of purgatory – one step from the great beyond
I prayed to the cross, and I kissed the girls, and I crossed the Rubicon

– Bob Dylan

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jun 032020
 


DPC ‘On the beach, Palm Beach’ 1905

 

New Zealand Could Return To Normal Life As Early As Next Week (R.)
Coronavirus May Be a Blood Vessel Disease, Which Explains Everything (M.)
Charting Sweden’s Disastrous No-Lockdown Strategy (Ind.)
Brazil Sets Another Record For Daily Coronavirus Deaths (R.)
Greece Suspends Qatar Flights After 12 On One Plane Test Positive (K.)
Handheld High-Intensity UV Lamp Could Kill Coronavirus Once And For All (RT)
Lancet Issues Major Disclaimer On Anti-HCQ Study (ZH)
The Great Unequalizer (El-Erian/Spence)
Food Bank Parcels For Scottish Children ‘At Record High’ (BBC)
What The Flynn Transcripts Do Not Contain: A Crime (Turley)
The 10 Most Important Questions For Rod Rosenstein (Solomon)
Jerry Nadler Moves To Cut Bill Barr’s Budget By $50 Million (R.)
Will Italy Be The Next Country To Leave the EU? (Antonopoulos)
Where Did Policing Go Wrong? (Taibbi)
Police Didn’t Spend Millions On Tank Just To Let Protests Stay Peaceful (Onion)

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 21,608
• Brazil + 28,832
• Russia + 8,952
• India + 8,272
• Peru + 4,845
• Pakistan + 4,065

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number of cases seems extremely low at less than 80K vs well over 100K for the past week.

Cases 6,474,289 (+ 79,973 from Saturday’s 6,394,316)

Deaths 382,914 (+ 4,948 from Saturday’s 377,966)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

While 99% of the rest of the world stumbles on with no end in sight.

New Zealand Could Return To Normal Life As Early As Next Week (R.)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday she could lift all social distancing measures to return the country to normal life, bar the international border closure, as early as next week. Ardern will decide on Monday whether the country is ready to shift to alert level 1, more than two months after she imposed a strict level 4 lockdown, shutting most businesses and forcing people to stay home, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Arden said waiting until Monday would allow her to see if recent changes, like the removal of restrictions on the number of people in bars and at social gatherings, had led to a rise in cases. “If it hasn’t, then we will be in a good position to move,” she said during a televised news conference.


Under level 1 there is no requirement for physical distancing or limits on the number of people allowed in places like bars, clubs, churches, and sports venues, she said. However, there would be one major change from pre-pandemic normality, with no immediate plans to reopen New Zealand’s border. New Zealand recorded no new cases of coronavirus for a 12th consecutive day on Wednesday and has just one active case. Ardern’s decision to swiftly impose one of the harshest lockdowns in the world has been credited with constraining the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand, which has reported a total of 1,504 cases and 22 deaths.

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Nothing explains everything, but the angle remains interesting.

Coronavirus May Be a Blood Vessel Disease, Which Explains Everything (M.)

In April, blood clots emerged as one of the many mysterious symptoms attributed to Covid-19, a disease that had initially been thought to largely affect the lungs in the form of pneumonia. Quickly after came reports of young people dying due to coronavirus-related strokes. Next it was Covid toes — painful red or purple digits. What do all of these symptoms have in common? An impairment in blood circulation. Add in the fact that 40% of deaths from Covid-19 are related to cardiovascular complications, and the disease starts to look like a vascular infection instead of a purely respiratory one. Months into the pandemic, there is now a growing body of evidence to support the theory that the novel coronavirus can infect blood vessels, which could explain not only the high prevalence of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks, but also provide an answer for the diverse set of head-to-toe symptoms that have emerged.

“All these Covid-associated complications were a mystery. We see blood clotting, we see kidney damage, we see inflammation of the heart, we see stroke, we see encephalitis [swelling of the brain],” says William Li, MD, president of the Angiogenesis Foundation. “A whole myriad of seemingly unconnected phenomena that you do not normally see with SARS or H1N1 or, frankly, most infectious diseases.” “If you start to put all of the data together that’s emerging, it turns out that this virus is probably a vasculotropic virus, meaning that it affects the [blood vessels],” says Mandeep Mehra, MD, medical director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Center.

In a paper published in April in the scientific journal The Lancet, Mehra and a team of scientists discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can infect the endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels. Endothelial cells protect the cardiovascular system, and they release proteins that influence everything from blood clotting to the immune response. In the paper, the scientists showed damage to endothelial cells in the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and intestines in people with Covid-19. “The concept that’s emerging is that this is not a respiratory illness alone, this is a respiratory illness to start with, but it is actually a vascular illness that kills people through its involvement of the vasculature,” says Mehra.

SARS-CoV-2 is thought to enter the body through ACE2 receptors present on the surface of cells that line the respiratory tract in the nose and throat. Once in the lungs, the virus appears to move from the alveoli, the air sacs in the lung, into the blood vessels, which are also rich in ACE2 receptors. “[The virus] enters the lung, it destroys the lung tissue, and people start coughing. The destruction of the lung tissue breaks open some blood vessels,” Mehra explains. “Then it starts to infect endothelial cell after endothelial cell, creates a local immune response, and inflames the endothelium.”

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“The rolling seven-day average for new confirmed deaths per million people in Sweden is now nearly twice that of the US..”

Charting Sweden’s Disastrous No-Lockdown Strategy (Ind.)

Sweden has taken the ignominious title of the country with the world’s highest death rate from Covid-19. The title, which was was briefly held by the UK late last month, comes after Swedish officials decided to ignore the lockdown advice of countless health experts and kept the country largely open during the pandemic. The number of deaths per capita in Sweden is now more than four-times that of its Nordic neighbours. And while its death toll of around 4,500 is a fraction of other badly affected countries like the US (105,000) and the UK (38,000), it is the death rate that reveals the true impact of Sweden’s no-lockdown approach. The rolling seven-day average for new confirmed deaths per million people in Sweden is now nearly twice that of the US, and more than five-times that of France, which had the highest death rate in the world in April.

France imposed a strict lockdown, similar to those of Italy and Spain, in an attempt to contain severe outbreaks of the deadly virus. These lockdowns have proven to be an extremely effective strategy in the fight against coronavirus, with death rates dropping drastically in all of the countries that imposed them. Countries that pre-empted large-scale outbreaks with early lockdowns, such as New Zealand, appear to have almost entirely eliminated the virus.

Yet while social distancing, PPE advice and other containment measures have helped slow the spread in Sweden, a lack of lockdown means the country’s infection rate shows no sign of falling. When Sweden is compared to other Nordic countries, the scale of the country’s coronavirus crisis seems even more pronounced.

Sweden’s hope has been to achieve herd immunity, whereby enough of the population has been infected that coronavirus can no longer spread widely. Yet studies in May suggest that Sweden is nowhere near the threshold needed to realise this. Experts claim that at least 60 per cent of the population would need to have Covid-19 antibodies before herd immunity is reached. The government had hoped for 20 per cent immunity by the end of May, but instead only 7.3 per cent have it. This is lower than most countries that enforced lockdowns, including the UK and US, yet with still no lockdown in place, the full impact for Sweden may still a long way from being realised.

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Rockin’ on.

Brazil Sets Another Record For Daily Coronavirus Deaths (R.)

Brazil registered another record number of novel coronavirus deaths over the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Tuesday evening, as the pandemic in Latin America’s largest country shows no signs of slowing down. The nation registered 28,936 additional cases of the novel coronavirus, the ministry said, and 1,262 deaths. There are now 555,383 total confirmed coronavirus cases in Brazil and 31,199 coronavirus deaths. The fresh record comes as some Brazilian leaders, including right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, continue to belittle the virus, warning that the economic fallout from quarantine measures will be worse than the virus itself.


“We lament all deaths, but it’s everyone’s destiny,” Bolsonaro said in front of the presidential residence in Brasilia earlier on Tuesday. Even in states and cities where leaders had previously instituted lockdown orders, authorities have been rapidly loosening restrictions in recent days, despite the number of daily new cases continuing to grow in most regions.

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I don’t get why they let them in in the first place. Qatar entered the top 20 of most cases/infections over the past few days, with over 60,000 cases. Thing is, only 2.8 million people live there. For the US, with 117x more people, that would come down to over 7 million cases. Granted, Qatar reports only 43 total deaths. But how credible is that?

Greece Suspends Qatar Flights After 12 On One Plane Test Positive (K.)

Greece on Tuesday announced they were suspending flights to and from Qatar until mid-June, after 12 out of 91 passengers in a Qatar Airways flight that landed in Athens on Monday tested positive for the coronavirus. Nine of the infected passengers are Pakistani nationals, coming from the city of Gujrat, who have a Greek residence permit, two are Greek nationals coming from Australia and one person is a Japanese national and member of a Greek-Japanese family, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection said in a press release.


All passengers in the flight from Doha to Athens’ International Airport were tested and quarantined in hotels until they got their results back, in line with the current health protocols. Those infected will remain in the hotels for two weeks, while those who tested negative will have to stay for seven days as they are considered close high and low risk contacts, the authority said. Health officers will repeat the tests on the passengers who tested negative after a week.


Timeline of Greece measures

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As billions are thrown at everything everywhere, these people have an entire $90,000 in seed funding.

Handheld High-Intensity UV Lamp Could Kill Coronavirus Once And For All (RT)

We may have a powerful new weapon in the war against Covid-19, as a scientific breakthrough has paved the way for personal, handheld devices that emit high-intensity ultraviolet (UV) light capable of killing the coronavirus. Chemical or UV exposure are the most common methods of sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces from bacteria and viruses. In the latter case, there need to be sufficiently high levels of UV radiation – 200 to 300 nanometers – to kill the unwanted bugs. Such devices do exist at present, but are prohibitively expensive, use discharge lamps that contain mercury, are bulky and short-lived, and require a large amount of power to function. Not exactly ideal for scaling up to rid the world of Covid-19.

However, using theoretical modeling of a range of materials, researchers at Penn State, the University of Minnesota and two Japanese universities believe they have found the holy grail of transparent conductors, which could allow for cheap, easy-to-produce LEDs that emit UV light at a high enough intensity to kill coronavirus. Computer, smartphone and lighting manufacturers have often grappled with finding transparent electrode materials that function in the visible light spectrum, let alone the ultraviolet spectrum. But the researchers have settled on a substance called strontium niobate as the potential game-changer material.

“While our first motivation in developing UV transparent conductors was to build an economic solution for water disinfection, we now realize that this breakthrough discovery potentially offers a solution to deactivate Covid-19 in aerosols that might be distributed in the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems of buildings,” one of the researchers, Joseph Roth, a doctoral candidate in materials science and engineering at Penn State, explains. The researchers have secured $90,000 in seed funding to determine the ‘Goldilocks zone’ for UV intensity and exposure time to eradicate airborne viruses.

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The Lancet looks unprofessional.

Lancet Issues Major Disclaimer On Anti-HCQ Study (ZH)

The Lancet has issued a major disclaimer regarding a study which prompted the World Health Organization to halt global trials of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), an anti-Malaria drug currently being used around the world to treat COVID-19. As we noted last week, major data discrepancies have called the entire study into question – though the lead author says it does not change the study’s findings that patients who received HCQ died at higher rates and experienced more cardiac complications than without. Until the data has been audited, The Lancet issued the following “expression of concern” regarding the study.


“Important scientific questions have been raised about data reported in the paper by Mandeep Mehra et al,” reads the “expression of concern” from The Lancet. “Although an independent audit of the provenance and validity of the data has been commissioned by the authors not affiliated with Surgisphere and is ongoing, with results expected very shortly, we are issuing an Expression of Concern to alert readers to the fact that serious scientific questions have been brought to our attention. We will update this notice as soon as we have further information.” -The Lancet

Of course, this is yet more evidence of the manufactured disinformation surrounding HCQ that Richard Moss, MD, (via AmericanThinker.com) exposes below… I took hydroxychloroquine for two years. A long time ago as a visiting cancer surgeon in Asia, in Thailand, Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. From 1987 to 1990. Malaria is rife there. I took it for prophylaxis, 400 milligrams once a week for two years. Never had any trouble. It was inexpensive and effective. [..] Chloroquine, the precursor of HCQ, was invented by Bayer in 1934. Hydroxychloroquine was developed during World War II as a safer, synthetic alternative and approved for medical use in the U.S. in 1955.


The World Health Organization considers it an essential medicine, among the safest and most effective medicines, a staple of any healthcare system. In 2017, US doctors prescribed it 5 million times, the 128th most commonly prescribed drug in the country. There have been hundreds of millions of prescriptions worldwide since its inception. It is one of the cheapest and best drugs in the world and has saved millions of lives. Doctors also prescribe it for Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis patients who may consume it for their lifetimes with few or no ill effects. Then something happened to this wonder drug.

[..] It began when President Trump discussed it as a possible treatment for COVID-19 on March 19, 2020. The gates of hell burst forth on May 18 when Trump casually announced that he was taking it, prescribed by his physician. Attacks on Trump and this otherwise harmless little molecule poured in. The heretofore respected, commonly used, and highly effective medicinal became a major threat to life, a nefarious and wicked chemical that could alter critical heart rhythms, resulting in sudden cataclysmic death for unsuspecting innocents. Trump, more than irresponsible, was evil incarnate for daring to even mention it. While at it, the salivating media trotted out the canard about Trump’s nonrecommendation for injecting Clorox and Lysol or drinking fish-tank cleaner to combat COVID. It was Charlottesville all over again.


[..] the media agonized over, of all things, the prolongation of the now infamous “QT interval,” and the risk of sudden cardiac death. The FDA and NIH piled on, piously demanding randomized, controlled, double-blind studies before physicians prescribed HCQ. No one mentioned that the risk of cardiac arrest was far higher from watching the Superbowl. Nor did the media declare that HCQ and chloroquine have been used throughout the world for half a century, making them among the most widely prescribed drugs in history with not a single reported case of “arrhythmic death” according to the sainted WHO and the American College of Cardiology.

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When the rich warn about society.

The Great Unequalizer (El-Erian/Spence)

As parts of the United States begin to open up after months of coronavirus lockdown, hope is rising that some semblance of economic normalcy could be on the near-term horizon. That hope could still be dashed by lingering health, business, and consumer uncertainties, any of which could slow recovery. But for the least fortunate segments of the population, more economic pain is a virtual certainty. Far from the “great equalizer” that some initially dubbed the pandemic, COVID-19 has walloped the U.S. economy in a way that exacerbated inequalities in income, wealth, and opportunity. Absent a timely policy response, this negative trend could begin to reinforce itself, as one debilitating setback for the disadvantaged increases the odds of another.

The data are stark and alarming, and they will get worse before they get better. GDP is set to contract by 30 percent or more this quarter. More than 40 million workers, or roughly a quarter of the U.S. labor force, have filed jobless claims in the last three months. The unemployment rate is likely to approach—and could even exceed—the 25 percent record set during the Great Depression. And all this despite an enormous fiscal and monetary policy relief effort that cost nearly $6 trillion, or 28 percent of U.S. GDP in 2019. The distributional features of the job and income losses are even more concerning. According to a recent survey by the Federal Reserve, 39 percent of workers in households with annual incomes below $40,000 have been laid off or furloughed.

Women have been hit especially hard, as have minorities: of the 20.5 million jobs that vanished in April, 55 percent belonged to women, pushing the unemployment rate for women to 15 percent and the rate for African American women and Hispanic women to 16.4 percent and 20.2 percent, respectively. There is no question that the pandemic has been an unequal opportunity unemployer. Those whose jobs have withstood the shock of COVID-19 are disproportionately in relatively high-paying professions that can accommodate work-from-home arrangements. According to researchers at the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute, roughly one-third of U.S. jobs can be done remotely, but there are enormous discrepancies by sector—discrepancies that widen further when adjusted for earnings. Whereas 76 percent of (mostly well-paid) finance and insurance jobs can be done from home, for example, the same is true for just three percent of (mostly low-paid) food and service sector jobs.

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The effects of the unequalizer.

Food Bank Parcels For Scottish Children ‘At Record High’ (BBC)

Food banks in Scotland say they have recorded the largest ever increase in emergency food parcels going to children during the pandemic. The Trussell Trust – which runs 83% of the country’s network – reported total deliveries were up 47% in April compared to the same period in 2019. This included a 62% increase in parcels going to children. The trust is now calling for the government to give help to low-income families, including a £250 lump sum. It also wants an extension of cash payments for children eligible for free school meals until schools reopen in August. The Scottish government said it had committed £350m of additional funding “to support those most at risk”.


A spokesman said it was also supporting over 175,000 children with access to free school meals. More than 100 organisations have signed up to a coalition urging the Scottish and UK governments to help “as widespread concern mounts for children’s wellbeing”. The group includes the Trussell Trust, the / Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) in Scotland and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). They want the UK government to introduce a/ temporary/ Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme. The charities say this would “ensure/ everyone has/ enough money in their pocket for essentials during this crisis”.

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There was never a reason for the FBI to investigate Flynn. When they did anyway, they found nothing. And still here we are 40-odd months later, and he’s still not been cleared. People are going to pay for this.

What The Flynn Transcripts Do Not Contain: A Crime (Turley)

“Remember … Ambassador, you’re not talking to a diplomat, you’re talking to a soldier.” When President Trump’s incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn, said those words to then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, he also spoke to American intelligence agents listening in on the call. For three years, congressional Democrats have assured us Flynn’s calls to Kislyak were so disturbing that they set off alarms in the closing days of the Obama administration. They were right. The newly released transcripts of Flynn’s calls are deeply disturbing — not for their evidence of criminality or collusion but for the total absence of such evidence. The transcripts, declassified Friday, strongly support new investigations by both the Justice Department and by Congress, starting with next week’s Senate testimony by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

It turns out Flynn’s calls are not just predictable but even commendable at points. When the Obama administration hit the Russians with sanctions just before leaving office, the incoming Trump administration sought to avoid a major conflict at the very start of its term. Flynn asked the Russian to focus on “common enemies” in order to seek cooperation in the Middle East. The calls covered a variety of issues, including the sanctions. What was not discussed was any quid pro quo or anything untoward or unlawful. Flynn stated what was already known to be Trump policy in seeking a new path with Russia. Flynn did not offer to remove sanctions but, rather, encouraged the Russians to respond in a reciprocal, commensurate manner if they felt they had to respond.

The calls, and Flynn’s identity, were leaked by as many as nine officials as the Obama administration left office — a serious federal crime, given their classified status. The most chilling aspect of the transcripts, however, is the lack of anything chilling in the calls themselves. Flynn is direct with Kislyak in trying to tone down the rhetoric and avoid retaliatory moves. He told Kislyak, “l am a very practical guy, and it’s about solutions. It’s about very practical solutions that we’re — that we need to come up with here.” Flynn said he understood the Russians might wish to retaliate for the Obama sanctions but encouraged them not to escalate the conflict just as the Trump administration took office.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1268006146423623683

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Lindsey Graham has a reputation of scaring away from major questions. But he won’t be able to stop this anymore.

The 10 Most Important Questions For Rod Rosenstein (Solomon)

Two years ago, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein chafed when asked whether congressional Republicans might have legitimate reason to suspect the factual underpinnings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants that targeted Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the Russia probe. Seeming a bit perturbed, Rosenstein launched into a mini-lecture on how much care and work went into FISA applications at the FBI and Justice Department. “There’s a lot of talk about FISA applications. Many people I’ve seen talk about it seem not to recognize that a FISA application is actually a warrant, just like a search warrant. In order to get a FISA warrant, you need an affidavit signed by a career law enforcement officer who swears the information is true … And if it is wrong, that person is going to face consequences,” Rosenstein asserted.

[..] On Wednesday, when he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rosenstein is likely to strike a humbler tone in the face of overwhelming evidence that the FBI-executed FISAs have been chronically flawed, including in the Russia case he supervised. “Even the best law enforcement officers make mistakes, and some engage in willful misconduct,” Rosenstein said in a statement issued ahead of his appearance. “Independent law enforcement investigations, judicial review and congressional oversight are important checks on the discretion of agents and prosecutors.” [..] Here are the 10 most important questions those senators are likely to set out to answer:

  1. Did Rosenstein read the FISA warrant renewal he signed in summer 2017 against Page, review any evidence supporting it, or ask the FBI any questions about the case before affixing his signature?
  2. Does the former No. 2 DOJ official now believe the FISA was so flawed that it should never have been submitted to the court? Does he regret signing it?
  3. Given what he now knows about flaws with the Steele dossier and FBI probe, would Rosenstein have appointed Robert Mueller as the Russia Special Counsel if given a do-over?
  4. Did Rosenstein engage in a conversation with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in 2017 about wearing a wire on President Trump as part of a plot to remove the 45th president from office under the 25th Amendment?
  5. Who drafted and provided the supporting materials that Rosenstein used to create the scope of investigation memos that guided Mueller’s probe?
  6. Does Rosenstein have any concerns about the conduct of fired FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe as he looks back on their tenure and in light of the new evidence that has surfaced?
  7. When did Rosenstein learn that the CIA had identified Page as one of its assets — ruling out he was a Russian spy — and that information in Steele’s dossier used in the FISA warrant had been debunked or linked to Russian disinformation?
  8. Does Rosenstein believe the FISA court was intentionally misled, or can the glaring missteps be explained by bureaucratic bungling?
  9. What culpability does Rosenstein assign to himself for the failures in the Russia case he supervised, and what other people does he blame?
  10. Does the former deputy attorney general believe anyone in the Russia case should face criminal charges?

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Everything Nadler touches turns to failure. This will be no exception.

Jerry Nadler Moves To Cut Bill Barr’s Budget By $50 Million (R.)

The Democrat who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee said on Tuesday he will introduce legislation this week to cut $50 million in funding from Attorney General William Barr’s personal office. New York Representative Jerrold Nadler said he would move to reduce funding for Barr’s personal office as a response to what he called “continued defiance of Congress and improper politicization of the Department of Justice.” Nadler said he was making this move and others in the wake of Barr’s refusal to appear before his committee. Passing such a cut would require approval of both the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate.


“We do not take these actions lightly or with any sense of joy. We have both a duty and a moral obligation to protect the rule of law in our country, and we intend to do just that,” Nadler said. He complained that although Barr “could not find the time to testify” before his committee because of the coronavirus pandemic, the attorney general “took the time to tour the peaceful protests at Lafayette Park just minutes before riot police fired tear gas into the crowd.” A Justice Department spokesman said the Department informed the committee it would consider scheduling a committee appearance by Barr after the expiration at the end of June of current guidance requiring White House approval for such testimony. He added the Department also might be willing to discuss possible testimony by Barr’s deputy at a “a mutually agreeable date.”

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The pic is the cover of a Dutch magazine that says: “Not a nickel extra to Southern Europe”.

Will Italy Be The Next Country To Leave the EU? (Antonopoulos)

On May 27, the political movement Italia Libera submitted a constitutional bill to the Supreme Court of Cassation demanding a referendum for Italy to leave the EU. After years of discussions, the foundation stone was laid for Italians to debate whether they want to remain in the EU or follow the United Kingdom out of the bloc. The draft bill presented by Italia Libera to the Supreme Court of Cassation is entitled “Call for a referendum on the withdrawal of the state from the European Union.” Effectively, Italia Libera has demonstrated that it is possible to follow an institutional path to allow citizens to decide whether they want to remain in the EU or not – and for those who want to leave, now is the best time considering the massive decline in popularity for the bloc after their abandonment of Italy when it was at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are many positive aspects to the EU, most notably the free movement of people and a coordinated effort to fight crime through Europol, but these multilateral agreements can exist without a European Parliament and domineering institutions based in Brussels and Strasbourg. As Toppi explained, Italy imagined the EU to be “a community of peoples and not of bankers.” It is for this reason that they announced the bill on the same day an unprecedented European Union Recovery Fund became official. This fund was only established because of the backlash received due to the bloc’s initial disinterest in assisting already struggling economies of the EU that were being further devastated financially by the pandemic.

With widespread southern European dissatisfaction with how the EU abandoned its supposed liberal ideals, particularly Germany, in favour of serving inward self-interests, bloc leaders are now playing catch up. President of the European Commission and Angela Merkel’s right-hand man in previous German governments, Ursula Von Der Leyen, and the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, who was also a former member of the Troika of bankers, announced the unprecedented measures to assist Europe through its financial woes. This time they promised real aid that would not completely decimate state structures and entire economies like what happened to Greece, Spain, Portugal, and to a lesser extent Italy, for the entirety of the 2010’s.

The Governor of the Bank of Italy expects a 13% drop in GDP in 2020, and for this reason Toppi emphasized that Italy does not need any further indebtedness which will increasingly put Italy in the hands of international speculators. However, Italians remember that Lagarde announced on March 13, just as coronavirus was truly beginning to overwhelm hospitals, that the pandemic was an Italian problem only. This was the catalyst that saw ordinary Italians begin to remove EU flags from public display and replace them with Russian and Chinese flags in gratitude to the significant assistance that these two countries gave to Italy when it was abandoned by Brussels and Berlin.

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Cultures that have existed for centuries.

Where Did Policing Go Wrong? (Taibbi)

Watching all the terrible news in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, it’s been hard not to think about Eric Garner. The cases have so many similarities. Once again, an unarmed African-American man in his forties has been asphyxiated in broad daylight by a police officer with a history of abuse complaints. He and his fellow officers ignore cries of “I can’t breathe,” and keep subduing their target even after he stops moving, unconcerned that he’s being filmed. Five years ago, while sketching the outline for a book about the Garner case called I Can’t Breathe, my editor suggested I take on a larger question.

Why, he asked, do we even have police? After all, the history of policing in our country, especially as it pertains to minority neighborhoods, has always rested upon dubious justifications. The early American police forces evolved out of slave patrols in the South, and “progressed” to enforce the Black Codes from the Civil War period and beyond, on to Jim Crow through the late sixties if not longer. In an explicit way, American policing has almost always been concerned on some level with enforcing racial separatism. Because Jim Crow police were upholding a way of life, the actual laws they were given to enforce were deliberately vague, designed to be easily used as pretexts for controlling the movements of black people.

They were charged with punishing “idleness” or “impudence,” and encouraged to enforce a range of vagrancy laws, including such offenses as “rambling without a job” and “leading an idle, profligate, or immoral course of life.” I ended up not taking on that question, focusing on the hard-enough question of what had led two young, amped-up policemen to choke the life out of a harmless father and street character like Garner. I was more interested in those police than all police, and part of me – the white part, probably – thought the answer to the question of why we need police at all was at least somewhat self-evident.

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“I mean, the city wouldn’t buy a teacher a pencil and then tell them not to use it, right?

Police Didn’t Spend Millions On Tank Just To Let Protests Stay Peaceful (Onion)

In response to concerns that law enforcement officers were escalating violence in the nationwide George Floyd uprisings, Los Angeles Police Department officials announced Tuesday that they didn’t spend millions on an awesome tank just to let protests stay peaceful. “We got the city to drop, like, $10 million on this sick tank and you expect we’ll just let people stand there chanting?” said LAPD chief Michael Moore, adding there was “no way in hell” that the department would let something like peaceful demonstrations stop them from making use of the vehicle’s “totally tricked-out” weapons system, armor, and ability to ram through virtually everything in its path.


“I mean, the city wouldn’t buy a teacher a pencil and then tell them not to use it, right? This is the kind of hardware you just can’t let sit gathering dust—same with the grenade launchers, drones, and tear gas. We have whole storage bays full of projectiles and we’re supposed to just not use them? Get real. They wouldn’t give us all this killer stuff if we weren’t supposed to have a little fun.” LAPD officials added that the city’s residents deserved to witness the full scope of all the badass shit their tax dollars could do.

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 June 2, 2020  Posted by at 11:19 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Harris&Ewing F.W. Grand store, Washington, DC 1925

 

China Delayed Releasing Coronavirus Info, Frustrating WHO (AP)
Distancing And Masks Cut COVID19 Risk – Review (R.)
Why Europe is Irrelevant to Challenging China (Balding)
The Forgotten Coup Against ‘The Most Loyal Ally’ (John Pilger)
That Change You Requested…? (Jim Kunstler)
State, Independent Autopsies Agree On George Floyd Homicide, Not On Cause (R.)
Bellingcat: Russians Didn’t Kill George Floyd, But Are Still Bad (RT)
In Appellate Brief, DOJ Unloads On Behavior Of Judge In Flynn Case (Davis)
Julian Assange Too Unwell To Attend Court Hearing (CW)

 

 

Hardware problems this morning, my Chrome on MacBook started crashing and kept on doing it. Figured out it was due to Zerohedge’s ad settings conflicting with that set-up. Will look at the site in Forefox now. Cost a lot of time though.

Thanks for your support for our homeless project in Athens. Some of you are so generous it’s absolutely humbling.

 

 

Brazil overtakes the US for largest COVID-19 growth in the past week.

1 week of NEW cases:
Brazil: 151,600+
US: 144,000+
Russia: 61,400+
India: 51,600+
Peru: 44,500+
Chile: 31,100+

 

 

 

Cases 6,394,316 (+ 106,140 from Saturday’s 6,288,176)

Deaths 377,966 (+ 3,372 from Saturday’s 374,327)

 

 

 

Note: I dropped the SCMP graph, it doesn’t appear very relevant anymore.

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

On January 14, China’s no. 1 health official ordered the country to prepare for a pandemic. Only 8 weeks later did teh WHO declare a pandemic. Explanation?!

“On Jan. 13, WHO announced that Thailand had a confirmed case of the virus, jolting Chinese officials. The next day, in a confidential teleconference, China’s top health official ordered the country to prepare for a pandemic, calling the outbreak the “most severe challenge since SARS in 2003”..”

[..] “On Jan. 22, WHO convened an independent committee to determine whether to declare a global health emergency. After two inconclusive meetings where experts were split, they decided against it — even as Chinese officials ordered Wuhan sealed in the biggest quarantine in history. The next day, WHO chief Tedros publicly described the spread of the new coronavirus in China as “limited.“

China Delayed Releasing Coronavirus Info, Frustrating WHO (AP)

Throughout January, the World Health Organization publicly praised China for what it called a speedy response to the new coronavirus. It repeatedly thanked the Chinese government for sharing the genetic map of the virus “immediately,” and said its work and commitment to transparency were “very impressive, and beyond words.” But behind the scenes, it was a much different story, one of significant delays by China and considerable frustration among WHO officials over not getting the information they needed to fight the spread of the deadly virus, The Associated Press has found. Despite the plaudits, China in fact sat on releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information.

Tight controls on information and competition within the Chinese public health system were to blame, according to dozens of interviews and internal documents. Chinese government labs only released the genome after another lab published it ahead of authorities on a virologist website on Jan. 11. Even then, China stalled for at least two weeks more on providing WHO with detailed data on patients and cases, according to recordings of internal meetings held by the U.N. health agency through January — all at a time when the outbreak arguably might have been dramatically slowed. WHO officials were lauding China in public because they wanted to coax more information out of the government, the recordings obtained by the AP suggest.

Privately, they complained in meetings the week of Jan. 6 that China was not sharing enough data to assess how effectively the virus spread between people or what risk it posed to the rest of the world, costing valuable time. “We’re going on very minimal information,” said American epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, now WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, in one internal meeting. “It’s clearly not enough for you to do proper planning.” “We’re currently at the stage where yes, they’re giving it to us 15 minutes before it appears on CCTV,” said WHO’s top official in China, Dr. Gauden Galea, referring to the state-owned China Central Television, in another meeting. [..] Although international law obliges countries to report information to WHO that could have an impact on public health, the U.N. agency has no enforcement powers and cannot independently investigate epidemics within countries. Instead, it must rely on the cooperation of member states.

[..] “It’s obvious that we could have saved more lives and avoided many, many deaths if China and the WHO had acted faster,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. However, Mokdad and other experts also noted that if WHO had been more confrontational with China, it could have triggered a far worse situation of not getting any information at all. If WHO had pushed too hard, it could even have been kicked out of China, said Adam Kamradt-Scott, a global health professor at the University of Sydney. But he added that a delay of just a few days in releasing genetic sequences can be critical in an outbreak. And he noted that as Beijing’s lack of transparency becomes even clearer, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s continued defense of China is problematic.

“It’s definitely damaged WHO’s credibility,” said Kamradt-Scott. “Did he go too far? I think the evidence on that is clear….it has led to so many questions about the relationship between China and WHO. It is perhaps a cautionary tale.”

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Because there are idiots who’d want to contest it. The sky is not blue.

Distancing And Masks Cut COVID19 Risk – Review (R.)

Keeping at least one metre apart and wearing face masks and eye protection are the best ways to cut the risk of COVID-19 infection, according to the largest review to date of studies on coronavirus disease transmission. In a review that pooled evidence from 172 studies in 16 countries, researchers found frequent handwashing and good hygiene are also critical – though even all those measures combined can not give full protection. The findings, published in The Lancet journal on Monday, will help guide governments and health agencies, some of whom have given conflicting advice on measures, largely because of limited information about COVID-19.


“Our findings are the first to synthesise all direct information on COVID-19, SARS, and MERS, and provide the currently best available evidence on the optimum use of these common and simple interventions to help ‘flatten the curve’”, said Holger Schünemann from McMaster University in Canada, who co-led the research. Current evidence suggests COVID-19 is most commonly spread by droplets, especially when people cough, and infects by entering through the eyes, nose and mouth, either directly or via contaminated surfaces. For this analysis, an international research team conducted a systematic review of 172 studies assessing distance measures, face masks and eye protection to prevent transmission of three diseases caused by coronaviruses – COVID-19, SARS and MERS.

Read more …

“..other than rubber rafts and unused vacation time, Europe can and will contribute nothing to Indo Pacific focused institutions, policies, and security strategies. The US should not be bound by historical alliances to fight different security threats and economic objectives.”

Why Europe is Irrelevant to Challenging China (Balding)

One of the most widely watched geopolitical events is how will Europe respond to Chinese aggression from the national security law in Hong Kong to the invasion of India as well as a range of other events. Given that many have built a counter Trump foreign policy contingent upon attracting European allies to confront China, the importance of Europe in the unfolding geopolitical tragedy becomes even more important. The only problem with the Old World obsession? Europe is almost entirely irrelevant to the China problem. America has a European obsession. Coming out of a post World War II geopolitical environment there is good reason why that was the focus of resource allocation.

This resulted in significant work that focused on the trans Atlantic relationship from bilateral and multilateral alliances and institutions to economic and security relationships that built the post war world. In a post war world, rebuilding Europe rapidly and building alliances to confront the Soviet Union was tantamount. This formed the foundation for the post war institutional and alliance order. However, even beyond the broader institutional and alliance focus many in America looked to Europe as a natural ally that shared the same values but also behaved differently acting as a type of moderating influence on US foreign policy. They preferred to highlight different policy domains like the environment and human rights. They focused on institution building whether it was the European Union or whether it was NATO and post 1989 institutions.

This endeared them to many foreign policy wonks in the United States who admired European sensibilities. However, these threads of foreign policy and institutional alliances also overlooked key problems. First, much of this European cooperation flowed from the need to solve uniquely European centric problems. Whether the NATO security alliance facing the USSR to the United Nations Security Council with the two major victorious European powers as members or receiving financial benefits to rebuild Europe, enormous amounts of the cooperation involved European centric or adjacent needs, alliances, and institutions. In a post WWII world this is not a major problem. In a 2020 Asia focused threat theater, this is a problem.

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Australia went from being a loyal vassal in one empire to the same in the next. A country without an identity or an opinion.

The Forgotten Coup Against ‘The Most Loyal Ally’ (John Pilger)

The Australian High Court has ruled that correspondence between the Queen and the Governor-General of Australia, her viceroy in the former British colony, is no longer “personal” and the property of Buckingham Palace. Why does this matter? Secret letters written in 1975 by the Queen and her man in Canberra, Sir John Kerr, can now be released by the National Archives. Kerr infamously sacked the reformist government of the prime minister, Gough Whitlam, and delivered Australia into the hands of the United States. Today, Australia is a vassal state bar none: its politics, intelligence agencies, military and much of its media are integrated into Washington’s “sphere of dominance” and war plans. In Donald Trump’s current provocations of China, the U.S. bases in Australia are described as the “tip of the spear”.

There is an historical amnesia among Australia’s polite society about the catastrophic events of 1975. An Anglo-American coup overthrew a democratically elected ally in a demeaning scandal in which sections of the Australian elite colluded. This is largely unmentionable. The stamina and achievement of the Australian historian Jenny Hocking in forcing the High Court’s decision are exceptional. Gough Whitlam was driven from government on Nov. 11, 1975. When he died six years ago, his achievements were recognised, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. The truth of the coup against him, it was hoped, would be buried with him. During the Whitlam years, 1972-75, Australia briefly achieved independence and became intolerably progressive.

The last Australian troops were ordered home from their mercenary service to the American assault on Vietnam. Whitlam’s ministers publicly condemned U.S. barbarities as “mass murder” and the crimes of “maniacs”. The Nixon administration was corrupt, said the Deputy Prime Minister, Jim Cairns, and called for a boycott of American trade. In response, Australian dockers refused to unload American ships. Whitlam moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement and called for a Zone of Peace in the Indian ocean, which the U.S. and Britain opposed. He demanded France cease its nuclear testing in the Pacific. In the UN, Australia spoke up for the Palestinians. Refugees fleeing the CIA-engineered coup in Chile were welcomed into Australia.

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“..it’s not just black people who struggle to thrive in the USA, but everybody else of any ethnic group who is not a hedge fund veep, an employee of BlackRock Financial, or a K-Street lobbyist..”

That Change You Requested…? (Jim Kunstler)

The nation was already reeling from the weird twelve-week Covid-19 lockdown of everyday life and the economic havoc it brought to careers, businesses, and incomes. In Minnesota, the stay-at-home order was just lifted on May 17, but bars and restaurants were still closed until June. Memorial Day, May 25, was one of the first really balmy days of mid-spring, 78 degrees. People were out-and-about, perhaps even feeling frisky after weeks of dreary seclusion. So, once the video of George Floyd’s death got out, the script was set: take it to the streets!

Few Americans were unsympathetic to the protest marches that followed. Remorse, censure, and tears flowed from every official portal, from the mouth and eyes of every political figure in the land. The tableau of Officer Chauvin’s knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck was readymade for statuary. Indeed, there are probably dozens of statues extant in the world of just such a scene expressing one people’s oppression over another. And yet the public sentiments early-on after the George Floyd killing had a stale, ceremonial flavor: The people demand change! End systemic racism! No justice, no peace! How many times have we seen this movie?

What is changing — and suddenly — is that now it’s not just black people who struggle to thrive in the USA, but everybody else of any ethnic group who is not a hedge fund veep, an employee of BlackRock Financial, or a K-Street lobbyist — and even those privileged characters may find themselves in reduced circumstances before long. The prospects of young adults look grimmest of all. They face an economy so disordered that hardly anyone can find something to do that pays enough to support the basics of life, on top of being swindled by the false promises of higher education and the money-lending racket that animates it. So, it’s not surprising that, when night falls, the demons come out.

Things get smashed up and burned down. And all that after being cooped up for weeks on end in the name of an illness that mostly kills people in nursing homes. Ugly as the ANTIFA movement is, it’s exactly what you get when young people realize their future has been stolen from them. Or, more literally, when they are idle and broke and see fabulous wealth all around them in the banks’ glass skyscrapers, and the car showrooms, and the pageants of celebrity fame and fortune on the boob tube. They are extras in a new movie called The Fourth Turning Meets the Long Emergency but they may not know it.

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The Hennepin County Medical Examiner tried to get away with “no strangulation”, didn’t expect to be corrected.

State, Independent Autopsies Agree On George Floyd Homicide, Not On Cause (R.)

The medical examiner’s finding that the death was a homicide confirms the same conclusion of the independent autopsy that was also released on Monday, but there are key differences over the cause. A press release from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner said that Floyd, who struggled to breathe as an officer pinned him down by kneeling on his neck, had “recent methamphetamine use” and “fentanyl intoxication” – along with hypertension and coronary artery disease – all of which were possible contributing factors to his death. But two doctors who carried out that independent autopsy of Floyd, 46, and two attorneys for the family said that he had no underlying health conditions that may have contributed to his death.

They argued that not only the officer who was kneeing Floyd’s neck killed him, but also two officers who were pressing their weight onto Floyd’s back while he was on the ground. They added that they did not have information on toxicology and any drug or alcohol use by Floyd. Dr. Allecia Wilson of the University of Michigan, one of the two forensic doctors who performed the independent autopsy, said the evidence pointed to homicide by “mechanical asphyxia” meaning from some physical force that interfered with oxygen supply. While the county’s full autopsy report has not yet been released – Monday’s press release appeared to show authorities walked back their conclusions on what killed Floyd.

The original criminal complaint against the police officer who pinned Floyd with his knee cited the medical examiner’s office when it said it found no findings of strangulation. Carolyn Marinan, a spokeswoman for Hennepin County, did not confirm any reversal, saying only that Monday’s press release were the “final findings.”

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“Your ‘expose’ is multiplying the stupidity in the world.”

Bellingcat: Russians Didn’t Kill George Floyd, But Are Still Bad (RT)

Bellingcat, the UK-based enablers of Western narratives in Syria and Ukraine now fueling US race riots, selectively translated a satirical post from Russian social media shared by RT’s editor-in-chief to get her “canceled.”
On Sunday, Margarita Simonyan shared a Telegram post by Dmitry Steshin, a war correspondent for the newspaper KP, which purported to give “advice” to rioters in the US on how to make their uprising more “successful” along the lines of the 2014 US-backed coup in Ukraine. Given that the post was entirely in Russian, it was obvious that the real objective of Steshin – and Simonyan – was to comment on the Maidan uprising in Kiev and the ensuing war in Ukraine. Not so, declared the self-proclaimed experts on “open-source” intelligence.

Bellingcat selectively translated a handful of sentences from Steshin’s post and accused Simonyan of – what else? – racism. “Bellingcat accusing me of racism for a repost that used the Russian word for a black person is as baseless as me accusing Bellingcat of racism for calling me Russian, and not Armenian (I am both),” Simonyan said in response to the accusations. RT also responded to Bellingcat on Twitter, pointing out that they “missed the point” of the Telegram post, which was not aimed at black protesters in 2020, but satirized the 2014 Ukrainian unrest. Indeed, Simonyan’s post starts with “good advice to black people of Minnesota from a journalist who covered seven Maidans and color revolutions” – referring to US-backed astroturfed protests that often escalated into riots for the purpose of regime change.

Being in Russian, though, the advice was clearly not meant for Minnesotans. While Steshin’s post might have used rough language, “humor norms vary by country. More so in countries not dealing with [the] burden of once being such enthusiastic African slave traders,” RT noted in a retort to Bellingcat. [..] It needs to be said that the declaration by Bellingcat’s founder Eliot Higgins that “Russia is behind the killing of George Floyd to provoke protests and riots” is a stupid take. It’s also a straw man, because even the media outlets stoking the riots only talk of some “Russian playbook” and sowing discord, and other such vague and unprovable insinuations, just as they’ve done for years with ‘Russiagate.’

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The court’s deadline for Sullivan to explain his ruling was yesterday. Did he comply?

In Appellate Brief, DOJ Unloads On Behavior Of Judge In Flynn Case (Davis)

The Department of Justice on Monday unloaded on the antics of the rogue federal judge overseeing the Michael Flynn trial, accusing him of usurping the constitutional authority of the executive branch to make prosecutorial decisions and ignoring both statutory law and federal court precedent requiring him to dismiss the case against Flynn. After Judge Emmet G. Sullivan refused to grant the unopposed DOJ motion to dismiss the charges against Flynn after the government unearthed and relevant reams of evidence that the government had abused its power and unlawfully targeted Flynn, Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell filed a writ of mandamus with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asking it to order the trial court to dismiss the charges against Flynn.

The appellate court ordered Sullivan to respond by close of business on June 1 and invited DOJ to file its own response as well. [..] Sullivan, who at one point accused Flynn, a decorated military combat veteran, of being a traitor to his country, refused to dismiss the charges and instead appointed John Gleeson, a former federal judge, to make arguments to the court about why the unopposed motion to dismiss charges should be denied. Days before Gleeson was appointed by Sullivan, Gleeson co-authored a Washington Post column calling on Sullivan to deny DOJ’s motion to dismiss the Flynn charges. Sullivan also asked Gleeson to provide the trial court with arguments to support new charges of perjury against Flynn.

“The failure to dismiss the indictment was error,” DOJ wrote in its brief. “And the court’s efforts to pursue additional charges of contempt compounded its error.” “When, like many other defendants, petitioner pleaded guilty but later asserted his innocence, he did not expose himself to prosecution for criminal contempt of court,” Francisco and the other DOJ attorneys noted. “The court lacks authority to bring its own prosecution of petitioner, for two independent reasons.”

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But the judge simply claims Julian refused to attend. She needs to be excused.

Julian Assange Too Unwell To Attend Court Hearing (CW)

Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was too unwell to attend a court hearing by video link today at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald QC, told the court that his client had had respiratory problems for some time. The WikiLeaks founder faces 17 charges under the 1917 Espionage Act after WikiLeaks published a series of leaks from Chelsea Manning, a former US Army soldier turned whistleblower, in 2010-11. The 48-year-old faces a further charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. The charges, filed in an indictment by the Easter District of Virginia, carry a maximum sentence of 175 years. Observers and journalists dialled in to a short court hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, but frequently had difficulty hearing what the lawyers and judge were saying over noises on the line.

According to one journalist present at the court, district judge Vanessa Baraitser said the court had received an email from Belmarsh Prison, saying Assange was “refusing to attend the hearing and refusing to sign a refusal form”. Fitzgerald told the judge that Assange’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, had sent the court an email on Friday explaining that Assange was unwell with respiratory problems, 7 News reported. The judge said she had hoped to provide the name of the crown court that could hear Assange’s extradition case today, but said she was still waiting for confirmation of the venue. The court heard that the prosecution had been unable to complete a psychiatric report on Assange because a medical expert had been unable to gain access to Belmarsh Prison during the lockdown.

The judge gave the prosecution a deadline of 31 July to produce the psychiatric report on Assange. James Lewis for the prosecution said the defence had served new evidence that would need to be examined to determine admissibility. The judge ordered the prosecution to present a new skeleton argument to the court on 25 August, with the defence skeleton argument due on 1 September, 7 News reported. The next scheduled hearing will take place on 29 June, and a full three-week hearing is due to start on 7 September. In a separate development, 36 members of the European Parliament have called for Assange to be released from Belmarsh on press freedom and humanitarian grounds.

Read more …

 

 

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https://twitter.com/_youhadonejob1/status/1267696839073116162

 

 

“Only A Pawn In Their Game”
March on Washington
August 28, 1963


 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jun 012020
 


Christo & Jeanne Claude The Gates, Central Park NYC 2005 (Christo died yesterday at 84)

 

 

New Coronavirus Losing Potency, Top Italian Doctor Says (R.)
Russia To Roll Out ‘Game Changer’ COVID19 Drug Next Week (R.)
UK Has One Of Highest COVID19-Related Excess Deaths Levels In Europe (G.)
Health Officials Make Last-Minute Plea To Stop Lockdown Easing In England (G.)
It’s The Virus, Stupid! (AHEB)
Australia’s Stalled Migrant Boom Derails Golden Economic Run (R.)
Asia Stocks Hit 3-Month Peaks, Resilient To US Rioting (R.)
Asia’s Factory Pain Worsens As China’s Recovery Fails To Lift Demand (R.)
The Stunning Chart That Blows Up All Of Modern Central Banking (ZH)
FBI’s Top Lawyer Resigns As Agency Faces Pressure From Trump (R.)

 

 

The riots have completely taken over the -US- news cycle from COVID19, to such an extent that I don’t really know what to add to it. Only perhaps to say there is an enormous amount of brutal videos circling around, more than on any topic ever before, and there’s no way that doesn’t influence people on all sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Counted from Saturday, since there was no Debt Rattle yesterday:

Cases 6,288,176 (+ 233,399 from Saturday’s 6,054,777)

Deaths 374,327(+ 7,039 from Saturday’s 367,288)

 

 

 

Note: I dropped the SCMP graph, it doesn’t appear very useful anymore.

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Would be good news, but this sounds a little goal-seeked.

New Coronavirus Losing Potency, Top Italian Doctor Says (R.)

The new coronavirus is losing its potency and has become much less lethal, a senior Italian doctor said on Sunday. “In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy,” said Alberto Zangrillo, the head of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan in the northern region of Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of Italy’s coronavirus contagion. “The swabs that were performed over the last 10 days showed a viral load in quantitative terms that was absolutely infinitesimal compared to the ones carried out a month or two months ago,” he told RAI television. Italy has the third highest death toll in the world from COVID-19, with 33,415 people dying since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21. It has the sixth highest global tally of cases at 233,019.

However new infections and fatalities have fallen steadily in May and the country is unwinding some of the most rigid lockdown restrictions introduced anywhere on the continent. Zangrillo said some experts were too alarmist about the prospect of a second wave of infections and politicians needed to take into account the new reality. “We’ve got to get back to being a normal country,” he said. “Someone has to take responsibility for terrorizing the country.” The government urged caution, saying it was far too soon to claim victory. “Pending scientific evidence to support the thesis that the virus has disappeared … I would invite those who say they are sure of it not to confuse Italians,” Sandra Zampa, an undersecretary at the health ministry, said in a statement.


“We should instead invite Italians to maintain the maximum caution, maintain physical distancing, avoid large groups, to frequently wash their hands and to wear masks.” A second doctor from northern Italy told the national ANSA news agency that he was also seeing the coronavirus weaken. “The strength the virus had two months ago is not the same strength it has today,” said Matteo Bassetti, head of the infectious diseases clinic at the San Martino hospital in the city of Genoa. “It is clear that today the COVID-19 disease is different.”

Read more …

A bit better than remdesivir (which is not hard), and worse than HCQ?! What game is it that will be changed?

Russia To Roll Out ‘Game Changer’ COVID19 Drug Next Week (R.)

Russia will start administering its first approved antiviral drug to treat coronavirus patients next week, its state financial backer told Reuters, a move it described as “a game changer” that should speed a return to normal economic life. Russian hospitals can begin giving the drug to patients from June 11, with enough to treat around 60,000 people per month, the head of Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund told Reuters in an interview. There is currently no approved vaccine for the highly contagious and sometimes fatal illness and no consensus within the global scientific community about the efficacy of medication such as the Russian modified antiviral drug.

Registered under the name Avifavir, it is the first potential coronavirus treatment to be approved by Russia’s health ministry, however. It appeared on a government list of approved drugs on Saturday after clinical trials. RDIF head Kirill Dmitriev said clinical trials involved 330 people and showed that the drug successfully treated the virus in most cases within four days. Trials were due to be concluded in around a week, he said, and more would be conducted. The health ministry had given its approval for the drug’s use under a special accelerated process and manufacturing had begun in March, he added. “We believe this is a game changer. It will reduce strain on the healthcare system, we’ll have fewer people getting into a critical condition, and for 90% of people it eliminates the virus within 10 days,” he said.

“We believe that the drug is key to resuming full economic activity in Russia. People need to follow social distancing rules, and of course we need to have a vaccine, but it’s a combination of those three levers.” With 405,843 cases, Russia has the third highest number of infections in the world after Brazil and the United States, though with 4,693 official deaths, a much lower fatality rate, something that has been the focus of debate. Dmitriev said the new drug, which comes in tablet form, would allow people to spend less time in hospital and reduce the time they are contagious, saying the drug had few side-effects but was not suitable for pregnant women. It was particularly effective, he said, for patients suffering from mild or mid-level symptoms.

[..] Avifavir, known generically as favipiravir, was first developed in the late 1990s by a Japanese company later bought by Fujifilm as it moved into healthcare. The drug works by short-circuiting the reproduction mechanism of certain RNA viruses such as influenza. Russian specialists modified the generic drug to enhance its efficacy for treating COVID-19 [..]

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Excess deaths may be the best, if not only, way to get an accurate fatality number for COVID19.

UK Has One Of Highest COVID19-Related Excess Deaths Levels In Europe (G.)

Britain’s excess death toll at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic was the highest among 11 countries analysed by the Guardian. The UK had the biggest spike among countries including Sweden, France, Germany and Spain. At its peak the UK death toll was more than double that of an average week, at 109%, compared with Spain’s peak in week 14 where the death toll was double the average at 100%. By week 20 of 2020 the UK death toll – inclusive of both Covid-related and non-Covid deaths – was 21% higher than the average of recent years meaning, for every five deaths that occur in the UK in a normal year, six people have died this year to date.

Excess deaths are those above what we might expect to see in normal circumstances. The figure is the difference in the number of people who have died in a given week compared with the average number of deaths that occurred in the same period in the previous five years. Italy and the Netherlands also have excess deaths of 10% or more so far this year according to the latest data, although the data for those countries is not as up to date as that for the UK. Patterns in the data show countries that locked down earlier tended to have fewer deaths. Austria, which imposed strict containment measures on 16 March, when there was just one death attributed to Covid-19 in the country, recorded a peak in excess deaths of 14%.


By contrast, the Netherlands waited until its excess deaths were already 17% higher than usual before locking down, and at its peak the death toll was 74% above average. The data also shows that in Sweden, which has adopted a different approach with no lockdown in place, excess deaths peaked at 46%. The figures come from mortality statistics gathered by the Guardian. Not all of the deaths are directly attributable to Covid-19 but the figures indicate how many people have died directly and indirectly as a result of the virus in different countries.

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That cat’s out of the bag. Too late.

Health Officials Make Last-Minute Plea To Stop Lockdown Easing In England (G.)

Senior public health officials have made a last-minute plea for ministers to scrap Monday’s easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England, warning the country is unprepared to deal with any surge in infection and that public resolve to take steps to limit transmisson has been eroded. The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) said new rules, including allowing groups of up to six people to meet outdoors and in private gardens, were “not supported by the science” and that pictures of crowded beaches and beauty spots over the weekend showed “the public is not keeping to social distancing as it was”.

On Saturday and Sunday, parks and seafronts were packed as people anticipated the lifting of restrictions on what has been dubbed “happy Monday”. Car showrooms and outdoor markets will also be reopened, millions of children will return to primary schools and the most vulnerable “shielded” people will be allowed out for the first time since lockdown began in March, all as long as physical distancing is maintained. But Jeanelle de Gruchy, president of the ADPH, said her colleagues across England were “increasingly concerned that the government is misjudging the balance of risk between more social interaction and the risk of a resurgence of the virus, and is easing too many restrictions too quickly”.


They have called on ministers to postpone the easing of restrictions until more is known about the infection rate, the test-and-trace system is better established and public resolve to maintain physical distancing and hygiene can be reinforced. “We have not spoken out in this way before,” De Gruchy said, “but we are concerned that if there is a spike it will be in our communities. We need to be confident we can get on top of it, and we are not confident yet.”

Read more …

Awful headline for a reasonable piece.

It’s The Virus, Stupid! (AHEB)

Many economists expressed disbelief after glancing at recent economic statistics. Since the arrival of the virus and the subsequent lockdowns we have observed a never-before-seen decline in production and consumption. In the UK alone, millions of jobs are at risk immediately. The IMF estimated that, for the UK, the expected economic growth this year will turn into a contraction of 6.5%. It was only the day after the presentation of this forecast when Kristalina Georgieva, the director of the IMF, said that the predictions had been overly positive. Globally, it is predicted that many hundreds of millions of people will fall back below the poverty line. The bad news just doesn’t seem to stop. And what for? To keep a virus in check.

A virus that will cause more death than a serious flu, but that does much less damage to health compared to other diseases like cancer or cardiovascular disease. Assuming an infection mortality risk of 1%, group immunity at 70% and 10 years of life lost per death, we arrive at an average loss of life expectancy of one month for the average UK person. This is in sharp contrast to, for example, the 2 to 3 years with which cancer shortens the life of the average UK person. Some economists read these numbers and conclude that the lockdown has to end immediately. That is understandable at first. The costs per year of life saved are higher than we are willing to spend on regular care. The difference is at least a factor 2, and probably much more. If we weren’t prepared to make such sacrifices for an extra year of life before, why now?


The comparison is flawed. While we can lift the lockdown, we cannot return to normality. If we assume 25% of the UK population is at risk, then 17 million people belong to one of the risk groups. For them, the virus is usually not fatal, but not safe either. Many of these people are likely to adopt a risk-averse position. The risks for the rest of the population are limited. However, they too will likely be cautious, as almost all of them are in direct contact with people from the risk groups. This raises the question to what extent the economic damage is caused by the lockdown or by the virus itself. The way to find out is to lift the lockdown in some regions and continue in others. Obviously, such an experiment will not be allowed because of the ethical aspects.

Read more …

We import oil and rich people.

Australia’s Stalled Migrant Boom Derails Golden Economic Run (R.)

Australia’s three decades of uninterrupted prosperity are coming to an abrupt end as the global coronavirus pandemic crashes one of its most lucrative sources of income – immigration. The country has been successful in managing the outbreak and reopening its A$2 trillion ($1.33 trillion) economy, thanks in part to an early closure of its borders. But the policy has led to a halt in mass immigration – a key source of consumer demand, labour and growth – in an economy which is facing its first recession since the early 1990s. Net immigration, including international students and those on skilled worker visas, is expected to fall 85% in the fiscal year to June 2021, curbing demand for everything from cars and property to education and wedding rings.


Gurmeet Tuli, who owns a jewellery store in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta, said his business is already hurting in a neighbourhood which is home to tens of thousands of migrants. “My main clientele is young people who come here to study, they find work here and settle down, fall in love and want to get married,” Tuli said. “I have not sold a single diamond ring in the past two months,” he added, noting business is down about 40% so far this year. So critical is migration to Australia that analysts reckon the economy would have slipped into a recession last year without new arrivals to boost population growth.

Read more …

That’s not terribly interesting…

Asia Stocks Hit 3-Month Peaks, Resilient To US Rioting (R.)

Asian shares pushed to three-month highs on Monday as progress on opening up economies helped offset jitters over riots in U.S. cities and unease over Washington’s power struggle with Beijing. There was also relief that while President Donald Trump began the process of ending special U.S. treatment for Hong Kong to punish China, he left their trade deal intact. “With specific and verifiable measures against China appearing to be weak, markets may draw hollow consolation that the U.S. is treading carefully,” said analysts at Mizuho in a note.

After a cautious start Asian markets were led higher by China on signs parts of the domestic economy were picking up. Hong Kong .HSI managed to rally 3.6%, while Chinese blue chips put on 2.4%. An official business survey from China showed its factory activity grew at a slower pace in May but momentum in the services and construction sectors quickened. A private survey showed a return to growth in May, though exports remained depressed. That helped lift MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan 2.1% to its highest since early March. Japan’s Nikkei added 0.7% to also reach a three-month peak.


[..] The resilience was notable given major U.S. cities were cleaning up streets strewn with broken glass and burned out cars as curfews failed to stop confrontations between activists and law enforcement. The turmoil was a fresh setback for the economy which was only just emerging from a downturn akin to the Great Depression. Following poor data on spending and trade out on Friday, the Atlanta Federal Reserve estimated economic output could drop a staggering 51% annualised in the second quarter. The May jobs report due out on Friday is forecast to show the unemployment rate surged to 19.8%, smashing April’s record 14.7%. Payrolls are expected to drop by 7.4 million, on top of the 20.5 million jobs lost the previous month.

Read more …

… this is far more interesting. Why are stocks “resilient” and hitting peaks as economies plunge?

Asia’s Factory Pain Worsens As China’s Recovery Fails To Lift Demand (R.)

Asia’s factory pain deepened in May as the slump in global trade caused by the coronavirus pandemic worsened, with export powerhouses Japan and South Korea suffering the sharpest declines in business activity in more than a decade. A series of manufacturing surveys released on Monday suggest any rebound in businesses will be some time off, even though China’s factory activity unexpectedly returned to growth in May. China’s Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) hit 50.7 last month, marking the highest reading since January as easing of lockdowns allowed companies to get back to work and clear outstanding orders.


But with many of China’s trading partners still restricted, its new export orders remained in contraction, the private business survey showed on Monday. China’s official PMI survey on Sunday showed the recovery in the world’s second-largest economy intact but fragile. Japan’s factory activity shrank at the fastest pace since 2009 in May, a separate private sector survey showed while South Korea also saw manufacturing slump at the sharpest pace in more than a decade. [..] Taiwan’s manufacturing activity also fell in May. Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines saw PMIs rebound from April, though the indices all remained below the 50-mark threshold that separates contraction from expansion. Official data on Monday showed South Korea extending its exports plunge for a third straight month.

Read more …

Japan’s policy for years now hs been to force people to spend. The more -and longer- you do that, the more afraid they get and the less they spend.

Also, as mentioned 1000 times, talking about inflation means zilch unless velocity of money is included. The Deutsche bank graph down below gives that point a lot more perspective.

The Stunning Chart That Blows Up All Of Modern Central Banking (ZH)

[..] amusingly it was all the way back in 2015 that we predicted – correctly in retrospect – just what the monetary endgame is: “fear not: when even “moar” QE and NIRP do not work, and the economists of the ECB admit the “monetary twilight zone” was a disaster, there is one last “tool” they can and will use – helicopters. Because when it comes to printing money, whether in digital reserve format, or physical paper format, there is literally no limit how much can and will be created to achieve what is the endgame of the current monetary dead end: the total destruction of fiat as a store of wealth in order to preserve the global equity tranche while wiping away a few hundred trillion in debt.”


Thanks to covid-19, we have now moved beyond merely the “twilight” and are now in the “helicopter” zone. But what about the relationship between rates and savings, and by extension inflation? After all that is the topic of this post. Well, we can now confirm that our intuition from 2015 that negative rates are not only not inflationary but outright deflationary, and encourage consumers to save even more, was correct all along. Below we post a chart from the latest Research Investment Committee report by BofA titled “Stagnation, stagflation or elevation”, which with just one image blows up everything that is flawed with monetary policy. It shows that while lower rates indeed stimulate spending and lead to lower savings, this effect peaks at around 4% and then goes negative. In fact, the lower yields – and rates – drop below 4% – not to mention to 0% or below – the lower the propensity to spend and the higher the savings rate!

There is another reason why this chart of such epic importance: it confirms what so many have known but were afraid to voice as it ran against decades of flawed economic theory: it demonstrates without a shadow of doubt, that hyper-easy monetary policy is not inflationary but is deflationary. Which is catastrophic for central banks, who publicly state that the only reason they are pursuing ultra easy monetary policy which includes QE and negative rates, is not to goose the market higher (even though by now we all know that’s the real reason) but to stimulate inflation. This is how Bank of America summarizes this stunning observation: As low growth & inflation make low-risk-asset income scarce (e.g. from government bonds), households are forced to reduce consumption and increase savings in order to meet retirement goals. Forced saving further depresses demand in a vicious cycle.


This means that the lower (and more negative) central banks push rates, the lower (not higher) the spending, the higher (not lower) the savings rate, the lower the inflation, the higher the disinflation (or outright deflation), which in turn forces central banks to cut rates even more, to add QE, yield curve control, buy junk bonds, buy ETFs, or pursue any of a host of other monetary policies that are even more devastating to consumer psychology, forcing even more savings, resulting in even more disinflation, causing even more intervention by central banks in what is without doubt the most diabolical feedback loop of modern monetary policy and economics. Said otherwise, monetary easing is deflationary. Let that sink in.

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Not entirely sure what this is. The DOJ supposedly tells the FBI’s top lawyer to leave. And there’s no protest, he just does.

Impossible to see this as something wholly separate from the entire developing issue, for which Susan Rice is an appropriate symbol.

FBI’s Top Lawyer Resigns As Agency Faces Pressure From Trump (R.)

The FBI said on Saturday that its top lawyer, Dana Boente, had announced his resignation as the agency faces scrutiny over its investigations of former staffers and supporters of President Donald Trump. As a senior Justice Department official, Boente was involved in the investigation of Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The Justice Department has since asked a judge to drop those charges, arguing that prosecutors should not have brought them in the first place. Trump has repeatedly criticized the FBI for investigating Flynn and other allies.


NBC News, citing two sources, said Boente was asked to resign. Boente held several senior roles at the Justice Department and the FBI over the course of a 38-year career. He briefly served as acting Attorney General in 2017 after Trump fired Sally Yates, who held the job during the first weeks of his presidency. “Few people have served so well in so many critical, high-level roles at the Department,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a prepared statement.

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May 302020
 


Edward Hopper Folly Beach, Charleston, South Carolina 1929

 

Protests Spread Nationwide: Minnesota Curfew, White House Locks Down (JTN)
Unsanitized: Social Unrest When There’s Nothing to Lose (Dayen)
Trump Orders His Administration To Begin Eliminating Hong Kong Privileges (R.)
Trump Says US To Withdraw From WHO. Does He Have The Authority To Do It? (NPR)
Twitter Targets Trump Again, Flagging Tweet After Executive Order (SAC)
Coronavirus Sinks US Consumer Spending As Savings Hit Record High (R.)
Investors Eye Consumer Discretionary Stocks As US Reopens (R.)
A Chronicle of a Lost Decade Foretold (Varoufakis )
Malaria Drug And Zinc, The Missing Link (Berry)
Australian Anti-Vaxxers Label COVID19 a ‘Scam’ At Anti-5G Protests (AAP)
States Are Copying & Pasting Immunity Laws For Nursing Home Execs (Sirota)
De Blasio Ramps Up Destruction Of Homeless Encampments (Gothamist)
No One Knows Where Ghislaine Maxwell Is (Esq.)

 

 

The conversation has shifted away from corona for now. Is that a good thing?

Total global cases pass 6 million as daily new cases set another record at 125,511.

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 25,069
• Brazil + 30,739
• Russia + 8,952
• UK 4,938
• India + 8,105
• Peru + 6,506
• Chile + 4,654

 

 

 

Cases 6,054,777 (+ 122,597 from yesterday’s 5,932,180)

Deaths 367,288 (+ 4,674 from yesterday’s 362,614)

 

 

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two sides prone to violence.

Protests Spread Nationwide: Minnesota Curfew, White House Locks Down (JTN)

The anger over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody fueled intense protests coast to coast Friday night, as activists ignored a Minnesota curfew to set new fires while the White House temporarily locked down over security concerns just outside its gates. The arrest and murder charges filed earlier in the day against the police officer who allegedly knelt on Floyd’s neck did little to quell a swelling rage that drove protests in cities as diverse as New York and San Jose. In Atlanta, protesters spray-painted sayings and broke windows at CNN’s headquarters while tense officers in Brooklyn borough lined up to keep angry, chanting protesters from straying from street protests toward business.


The Secret Service on Friday evening put the White House on brief lockdown, sheltering reporters inside the press room, as several videos on social media showed unruly protesters outside of the Treasury Department, adjacent to the heavily fortified White House, and large groups of protesters walking from the city’s historically black U Street neighborhood chanting, “No peace, no justice.” The protests started Tuesday in Minneapolis, where weary residents and officers faced a fourth night of violence, rioting and fire setting. The Minnesota governor activated the national guard and a strict curfew for 8 p.m. was imposed in the Twin Cities, but it failed to keep large numbers of protesters from taking to the streets anew.

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“..that’s the same brutality..”

Unsanitized: Social Unrest When There’s Nothing to Lose (Dayen)

There’s a reason that Spike Lee set Do the Right Thing on the hottest day of the year in Brooklyn. The pressure from the heat simmered through the community and created sparks that ignited existing tensions. There was a triggering event, which led to a police chokehold and the death of Radio Raheem, and the destruction of Sal’s Pizzeria. The weather was the backdrop as events played out. That was 1989 and it couldn’t be more relevant right now. The death of George Floyd is obviously unforgivable on its own terms. There doesn’t need to be any context. Unreformed police murder in communities of color has been part of America since well before I was born. I have nothing to comment on about looters—at least eight people sent me this Onion headline, “Protestors Criticized For Looting Businesses Without Forming Private Equity Firm First.” (I guess my reputation precedes me.)

I can’t say anything about the burning of the 3rd police precinct. And I have a lot to say about the great misfortune of having Donald J. Trump in a leadership position during this moment, but most of it would be curse words. Decades of disinvestment and routinized brutality and structural racism created these conditions. The officer who killed George Floyd had enough history of violence alone to contribute mightily to this rage. (And yes, Amy Klobuchar declined to prosecute him and many others for these crimes.) But you cannot separate this outpouring of anger from two months of death, economic collapse, and the disproportionate pain raining down right now on communities of color.

Decades of environmental racism have created toxic vectors for spreading the virus; that’s the same brutality. Minority small business owners have had a harder time securing federal aid, owing to more distant relationships with local banks; that’s the same brutality. African Americans are more likely to be in “essential” jobs and unable to work from home and protect themselves; that’s the same brutality. They’re more likely to be in prisons under perhaps the worst conditions of this crisis; that’s definitely the same brutality. “Black Americans are 80 percent more likely than white people to have diabetes,” which puts them at higher risk from COVID-19; that’s the same brutality. Lack of decent food in communities of color, and access to healthcare, and the ability to rent enough space in shelter to physically distance—this is all brutality against a people, manifested today but going back 400 years.

When you are either out of work or on a hair trigger because you know you’re risking your life by going to work; when your business can’t get a bridge loan and you know everything you worked for is about to be extinguished; when you’re cut off from your friends and neighbors; when your source of sustenance is the food bank; when you have nothing to lose, and then on television you see a black man with his neck wedged between a police officer’s knee and the pavement until he chokes, and you hear he died in police custody after pleading “I can’t breathe,” and you remember how those words were spoken by Eric Garner, and you hear that the man was in custody for using counterfeit money and you don’t think that’s a sufficient reason to kill somebody, and you recall that the Minneapolis Police Department has had a really ugly history with the black community for a long time, and when you exhale a little because the cops involved were fired but then the local prosecutor says this murder of a black man doesn’t merit prosecution… what results from this injustice should meet your expectations.

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It boils down to: how big of a threat is China? Opinionsvary.

Trump Orders His Administration To Begin Eliminating Hong Kong Privileges (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating special treatment for Hong Kong, in response to China’s plans to impose new security legislation in the territory. Trump made the announcement at a White House news conference, saying China had broken its word over Hong Kong’s autonomy. He said its move against Hong Kong was a tragedy for the people of Hong Kong, China and the world. “We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment,” he said, adding that the United States would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for smothering Hong Kong’s autonomy.


Trump’s move follows Chinese plans to impose new national security legislation on the former British colony. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the territory no longer warrants special treatment under U.S. law that has enabled it to remain a global financial center. Trump said he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating policy agreements on Hong Kong, ranging from extradition treatment to export controls. He said he would also issue a proclamation on Friday to better safeguard vital university research by suspending the entry of foreign nationals from China identified as potential security risks.

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The WHO has failed/refused to reform the way Trump asked them to.

Trump Says US To Withdraw From WHO. Does He Have The Authority To Do It? (NPR)

President Trump has announced that he is immediately halting the decades-long U.S. membership in the World Health Organization over its response to China’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic. In a press briefing Friday at the White House, Trump said, “We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.” Trump said the decision came because WHO has “failed to make” reforms the U.S. requested. Last week, Trump sent a letter to WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, outlining his views on how the agency favors China and asking the organization to “commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days.”

It’s not clear what specific reforms the U.S. has requested, because those discussions have not been made public. Nor did Trump say why he acted on the threat after one week rather than waiting a month. The U.S. was a major force in founding WHO in 1948 and is the organization’s top funder, providing around $450 million a year, according to Trump. The level of funding the U.S. provides to WHO has been a sore spot for Trump, who complained at the briefing that the U.S. pays significantly more than China but does not wield more power in the agency. Global health experts said the president’s choice to leave the global health governing body during a pandemic is a dangerous call.

“This decision is really so short-sighted and ill-advised, and all it does is put American lives at risk,” said Dr. Howard Koh, former assistant secretary for health in the Obama administration and now a professor at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “I disagree with the president’s decision,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, in a statement after the announcement. “Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need. And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States.”

It’s questionable whether the president can make a unilateral decision to withdraw from WHO. “It is an overreach of his constitutional powers,” said Larry Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. Gostin said he believes that the president may need congressional approval to terminate U.S. membership in the U.N. agency. “The only situation where he can do this is if Congress had agreed beforehand to give these powers to the president,” said Kelley Lee, a professor of public health at Simon Fraser University. “It is the role of legal advisers to inform the president on what authority he can exert. He is either not receiving good advice or not listening to it.”

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Thugs, huh?

Twitter Targets Trump Again, Flagging Tweet After Executive Order (SAC)

Twitter flagged and hid a tweet posted by President Donald Trump’s early Friday morning after the president signed an Executive Order challenging the growing political bias in tech companies, whose platforms are meant to be neutral. Trump’s tweet was in response to the growing unrest and rioting in Minnesota, in response to the horrific death of George Floyd while in police custody. Thursday night the situation in Minneapolis escalated again when rioters overran a police precinct, forcing police officers, who were told not to respond by city officials, to evacuate before it was burned to the ground.

Trump signed the Executive Order Thursday aimed at social media giants he says, have been operating as biased publishers rather than platforms for free speech. Trump tweeted that these “THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

The National Guard was sent to assist local authorities in containing the rioting. Earlier the president criticized the city’s mayor, who ordered the evacuation of the precinct saying, “the very weak radical left mayor Jacob Frey” if he didn’t bring the city under control. In response, Twitter flagged the President’s tweet and attached a notice saying “we have placed a public interest notice on this Tweet from @realDonaldTrump.” The tweet is actually hidden from public view but can be viewed if the reader so chooses to click on it. “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” said Twitter. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

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Consumer spending is way down. Therefore, savings must be way up? is that so?

Coronavirus Sinks US Consumer Spending As Savings Hit Record High (R.)

U.S. consumers cut spending by the most on record for the second straight month in April while boosting savings to an all-time high, and the growing frugality reinforced expectations the economy could take years to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report from the Commerce Department on Friday also showed an economy highly reliant on the government, with financial aid checks from a historic fiscal package worth nearly $3 trillion driving a record surge in personal income. Together with news that monthly exports collapsed, the report left economists anticipating the largest contraction in gross domestic product in the second quarter since the Great Depression. Data has also been dismal this month on the labor market, manufacturing production and homebuilding.

“Right now, the economy is totally dependent upon the largesse of the government,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics in Holland, Pennsylvania. “Will the federal government keep sending out checks or will the household and business welfare payments dry up?” The Commerce Department said consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, plunged 13.6% last month, the biggest drop since the government started tracking the series in 1959. It eclipsed the previous all-time decrease of 6.9% in March.

[..] Personal income surged a record 10.5% last month. Without the government money, income would have declined 6.3% with business closures pushing wages down 8.0%. The unprecedented economic upheaval saw the saving rate hitting a record 33%. “If the economy reopens quickly without consequence, the millions who lost jobs are hired back and have no reason to fear they will lose their jobs again, these savings represent considerable spending power in the second half,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FHN in New York. “If it takes longer to reopen the economy, these savings will be used for sustenance over the next few months. They will limit the decline, but not fuel a sharp rebound.”

[..] In a second report on Friday, the Commerce Department said goods exports tumbled 25.2% to $95.4 billion in April, a 10-year low. The broad decline in exports was led by a 65.9% collapse in shipments of motor vehicles and parts. That outpaced a 14.3% tumble in imports. As a result, the goods trade deficit widened 7.2% to 69.7 billion last month. The larger goods trade deficit is likely a drag on second GDP, which economists expect could drop at as much as a 40% rate, a pace not seen since the 1930s. The economy contracted at a 5.0% annualized rate last quarter, the deepest pace of decline in GDP since the 2007-09 recession. Consumer spending tumbled at a 6.8% rate, the sharpest drop since the second quarter of 1980.

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Everyone buys Amazon, consumers and investors.

Investors Eye Consumer Discretionary Stocks As US Reopens (R.)

Investors are taking a closer look at the market’s consumer discretionary companies as a reopening U.S. economy fuels hopes of a turnaround for some of the sector’s hardest-hit names. Many companies in the sector have been battered by the country-wide coronavirus-fueled lockdowns that have weighed on growth and damaged retail spending over the last several months, though the stocks of a few, like Amazon, have soared. A gradual lifting of lockdowns in some states has stirred hopes for a bounce back for the retailers that make up much of the sector.Some investors, however, say it may be months before consumers return to their previous shopping habits, making it unlikely that the companies will see a pickup in revenues in the near term.

Firms ranging from middle-income retailers such as Gap Iand American Eagle Outfitters to high-end destinations like Tiffany & Co and Vail Resorts Inc are expected to report results in the week ahead. “This particular group is full of landmines,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner for Harris Financial Group. “There is not going to be a lot of investor follow-through until we get some certainty with what future revenue prospects are going to be.” Shares of the Gap, for instance, are down 43% for the year to date. A recession that persists through the fourth quarter of this year would reduce the company’s revenues by 40%, according to a note by research firm Trefis.

Next Friday’s U.S. jobs report is expected to show that the unemployment rate rose to 19.8% in May, smashing April’s record 14.7%, according to a Reuters poll. Non-farm payrolls are expected to drop by 7.4 million, adding to the 20.5 million jobs lost the previous month. Cox is focusing on dominant players such as Amazon.com Inc, Walmart Inc and Target Corp, which have a mix of essential items such as groceries as well as electronics and games that can appeal to customers who may face extended lockdowns during a potential second wave of the virus. Overall, retail companies in the S&P 500 are up 12.9% for the year to date, a gain powered largely by Amazon’s 31% rally. Apparel companies, by comparison, are down 16.2% over the same time.

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Yanis doesn’t want separate countries, though they are likely the best format in a pandemic. No, he wants globalization, just not the one we know. How practical is that?

A Chronicle of a Lost Decade Foretold (Varoufakis )

To exorcise my worst fears about the coming decade, I chose to write a bleak chronicle of it. If, by December 2030, developments have invalidated it, I hope such dreary prognoses will have played a part by spurring us to appropriate action. Before our pandemic-induced lockdowns, politics seemed to be a game. Political parties behaved like sports teams having good or bad days, scoring points that propelled them up a league table that, at season’s end, determined who would form a government and then do next to nothing. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic stripped away the veneer of indifference to reveal the political reality: some people do have the power to tell the rest of us what to do. Lenin’s description of politics as “who does what to whom” seemed more apt than ever.

By June 2020, as lockdowns began to ease, left-wing optimism that the pandemic would revive state power on behalf of the powerless remained, leading friends to fantasize about a renaissance of the commons and a capacious definition of public goods. Margaret Thatcher, I would remind them, left the British state larger, more powerful, and more concentrated than she had found it. An authoritarian state was necessary to support markets controlled by corporations and banks. Those in authority have never hesitated to harness massive government intervention to the preservation of oligarchic power. Why should a pandemic change that? As a result of COVID-19, the grim reaper almost claimed both the British prime minister and the Prince of Wales, and even Hollywood’s nicest star. But it was the poorer and the browner that the reaper actually did claim. They were easy pickings.

[..] Just as cathedrals were the Middle Ages’ architectural legacy, the 2020s left us tall walls, electrified fences, and flocks of surveillance drones. The nation-state’s revival made the world less open, less prosperous, and less free precisely for those who had always found it hard to travel, to make ends meet, and to speak their minds. For the oligarchs and functionaries of Big Tech, Big Pharma, and other megafirms, who got on famously with the strongmen in authority, globalization proceeded apace.

The myth of the global village gave way to an equilibrium between great-power blocs, each sporting burgeoning militaries, separate supply chains, idiosyncratic autocracies, and class divisions reinforced by new forms of nativism. The new socioeconomic cleavages threw the prevailing features of each country’s politics into sharp relief. Like people who become caricatures of themselves in a crisis, whole countries focused on their collective illusions, exaggerating and cementing pre-existing prejudices.

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Your daily dose of anti-remdesivir.

Malaria Drug And Zinc, The Missing Link (Berry)

Mystery surrounds why an anti-malaria drug is not being tested as a Covid-19 treatment in combination with zinc, which doctors say is crucial for efficacy. As we reported recently, President Trump revealed he was taking hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) alongside zinc after reports that many doctors are doing the same to help ward off Covid-19. Criticism of the President rose sharply after a non-randomised study published in the Lancet said that HCQ provided no benefit to hospitalised Covid-19 patients while being linked to increased deaths. What the mainstream media did not point out is that the Lancet study failed to test HCQ with zinc. Other experts have found zinc to be vital for efficacy in this context.

Zinc, available as an over-the-counter supplement, has long been seen as an immune-system booster that helps develop immune cells, or antibodies, and can strengthen the body’s response to a virus. American infectious disease specialist Joseph Rahimian explained that, in relation to Covid-19, zinc ‘does the heavy lifting and is the primary substance attacking the pathogen’. HCQ is said to work as a delivery systemfor zinc in fighting coronavirus. Ironically, the Lancet study came out at the same time as it was reported that India’s premier health body had expanded use of HCQ as a preventive for key workers following three studies showing positive results.

[..] ..a study by the New York University Grossman School of Medicine published this month [..] found that those receiving the triple-drug combination (HCQ, with azithromycin and, crucially, zinc) ‘were 44 per cent less likely to die, compared with the double-drug combination (i.e. without zinc)’. As the study notes:‘This study provides the first in vivo evidence that zinc sulfate in combination with hydroxychloroquine may play a role in therapeutic management for Covid-19.’ The above makes the question of why zinc was not used in the Lancet study more baffling. And why don’t the media note that the combination of zinc and HCQ is crucial?

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This sounds quite confused. “5G = communism”? Where do we start?

Yeah, 5G should be researched much more before it’s lanuched. But how can it turn COVID19 into a scam?

Australian Anti-Vaxxers Label COVID19 a ‘Scam’ At Anti-5G Protests (AAP)

Hundreds of anti-vaccination protesters have defied social distancing measures at rallies in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Protesters claiming the Covid-19 pandemic was a “scam” gathered at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne on Saturday, and carried signs declaring they were against vaccines and 5G technology. Their placards claimed “5G = communism”, “Covid 1984” and “our ignorance is their strength”. They booed police – clad in gloves and face masks – who warned the crowd that they were breaching social distancing rules designed to slow the spread of coronavirus. In a statement, police said those found in breach of Covid-19 directions faced fines of $1,652 each.


In Sydney, up to 500 protesters voiced conspiracy theories regarding not only vaccination but also 5G telecommunication networks, fluoride and large pharmaceutical corporations. The group convened at Hyde Park in the CBD before holding a singalong of anti-vaccination songs and walking to NSW Parliament House. They chanted “freedom of choice” and “my body, my choice” on the march, with some attempting to raise the spectre of a “new world order”. The walk passed without incident or police intervention. When asked about the protest, Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said “there’s no message that can get through to people who have no belief in science”. “There’s probably no reaching them,” he earlier told reporters.

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Hey, you wanted a for-profit medical system.

States Are Copying & Pasting Immunity Laws For Nursing Home Execs (Sirota)

To date, 19 states have enacted some form of immunity for the hospital and nursing home industries during the pandemic. In general, these new policies shield nurses, doctors and other frontline health care workers from liability when they are treating COVID patients. However, New York, Massachusetts and North Carolina go further: unlike other states, the identical language added to their laws explicitly define health care providers as including “a health care facility administrator, executive, supervisor, board member, trustee” or other corporate managers. That exact word-for-word clause appears in emergency legislation in all three states. In practice, it extends immunity to corporate officials who are not on the medical frontlines, but who are making life-and-death decisions across their companies.


“The new measures granting immunity to health care providers and professionals go well beyond protecting front-line workers from lawsuits — many also provide immunity to administrators who make unreasonable and dangerous, even lethal, decisions,” said Syracuse University law professor Nina Kohn. “New York, Massachusetts, and North Carolina take protection for corporate owners and executives to a whole new level by explicitly granting immunity to board members, trustees, and directors.” “This is extraordinary protection which is in no way in the public interest,” Kohn said. “These states are explicitly and unabashedly giving for-profit corporations and corporate executives the green light to make unreasonable decisions that put vulnerable people in imminent danger, and letting them know that they don’t have to worry about being held legally accountable for the avoidable human damage that results.”

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Teaching the poor another lesson will always trump the pandemic.

De Blasio Ramps Up Destruction Of Homeless Encampments (Gothamist)

Trudi and Rickey Reppi live in a tent on a triangular stretch of sidewalk between three lanes of traffic by the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. The tent serves as a headquarters of sorts for a community of homeless people and panhandlers. Dave, Rob, Richard, Russia, and Seven all often sleep outside, some on mattresses or chairs, some on cardboard and bundled-up clothing. Others drop by frequently throughout the day, accepting packaged meals Trudi and Rickey had picked up from an aid organization (“Homeless people help each other way more than anyone in these hundred thousand dollar cars ever help us,” Trudi says) or fanning out, cardboard signs in hand, to ask passing drivers for money for hours on end.

The police arrive at about 9 a.m, flanked by outreach and Sanitation workers forming a team of around a dozen city employees. Trudi and Rickey wearily begin the weekly routine of taking down their tent, bundling up all the possessions they can carry, and leaving everything else on the side of the street for the Sanitation workers to throw away. For years, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has been sending joint teams of NYPD officers, Sanitation workers, and Department of Homeless Services staff to require that homeless people move from locations where they’ve set up shelter. The number of sweeps (also called “clean-ups”) per week has risen dramatically in the last six months, according to homeless people, advocates and case workers.

A DHS employee, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said that the team implementing the sweeps had increased last November from about 3 to about 40. The employee said that the clean-ups would be increasing to twice a week at most encampments; eventually, he suggested, homeless people would give in and accept shelter. Trudi says that she’s been subject to ten to fifteen sweeps in just the last three months. This count doesn’t include the nightly visits the NYPD has paid her in May, sending as many as nine police officers at 3 a.m. to demand that she take down her tent. “In my administration, we made a decision that from our point of view, it was unacceptable to have [a] single encampment anywhere in New York City and they had to be dismantled anytime they’re identified,” Mayor de Blasio said at a press conference earlier this month.

“And we’ve been doing that now for years and it’s really caused the encampments to become a rarity, but whenever we see a new one, we immediately take it down.” But the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has explicitly recommended against clearing encampments or displacing unsheltered homeless people during the pandemic. “If individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are,” the guidelines read. “Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”

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The Netflix series on Epstein brings her to our attention again.

Still No One Knows Where Ghislaine Maxwell Is (Esq.)

Though multiple survivors have alleged that Maxwell participated in Epstein’s alleged crimes, she’s never been criminally charged. One thing that could stymie potential efforts to level charges against Maxwell is the infamous 2008 plea deal that Epstein struck with the US Attorney for Miami, Alexander Acosta, which found him serving just 13 months in prison after initially facing charges that could have garnered him a life sentence. Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich producer Joe Berlinger described the deal to Esquire as “unprecedented, unheard of sweetheart deal” that “included a non-prosecution agreement for named and unnamed co-conspirators.”

In April, an appeals court upheld the 2007 deal, writing in its opinion that the decision was “not a result we like, but it’s the result we think the law requires.” Maxwell is currently suing Epstein’s estate for money for her legal fees, and for the price of private security, alleging that her “prior employment relationship” with Epstein has caused to her be subjected to death threats. Though once a fixture of the global high-society, Maxwell has been spotted rarely in recent years. Last summer, she was photographed at a Los Angeles In-N-Out Burger, though the authenticity of the photo has been disputed. Her New York townhouse was sold in 2016.

This month, it was reported that lawyers for accusers seeking to file a civil suit against Maxwell have been unable to locate her. According to ABC news, one alleged victim’s “legal team dispatched process servers to five addresses previously connected to Maxwell, including a multi-million dollar brownstone on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, an apartment building in Miami Beach and Epstein’s mansion on Palm Beach Island.” Maxwell is also contending with other civil lawsuits filed by alleged survivors. Just this month, she won the right to delay her questioning in a suit filed by Annie Farmer, the sister of fellow Epstein accuser Maria Farmer, on the grounds that her testimony could be used against her in a current criminal investigation. But with the FBI allegedly investigating Maxwell, her story could be far from over.

Read more …

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Dec 052018
 
 December 5, 2018  Posted by at 10:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Wassily Kandinsky Painting with Houses 1909 (click for background)

 

Don’t Blame Trump The Tariff Man, The Fed Crashed The Market Today (F.)
Dow Plunges Nearly 800 Points On Rising Fears Of An Economic Slowdown (CNBC)
FAANG Stocks Shed $140 Billion In Tuesday’s Market Rout (CNBC)
The Art of Defaulting (Jensen)
Anarchists, Butchers And Finance Workers In Court Over Paris Riots (AFP)
French History Has Never Seen A Protest Like The Yellow Vest Movement (Qz)
Theresa May Suffers Worst Day In Her Career … Until Next Week (Ind. )
UK Inches Closer To New Brexit Referendum As MPs Take Back Control (Ind.)
Mueller Says Michael Flynn Gave Details Of Trump Team Russia Contacts (CNBC)
Hey, Mr. Trump! Tear Down That Deep State Wall (Stockman)
The Ghost of Christmas Present (Kunstler)
Australia’s Economy Slows, Debt-Laden Consumers A Deadweight (R.)

 

 

New York Fed chief John Williams said the US economy can handle more rate hikes..

Don’t Blame Trump The Tariff Man, The Fed Crashed The Market Today (F.)

Don’t believe the hype: today’s reversal in equity markets has little, if anything, to do with this weekend’s trade war ceasefire. Tuesday’s drop in U.S. and European stock markets are largely thanks to the Federal Reserve. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin came out immediately on Monday saying that details of the trade truce in terms of products China intended to import more of, and a new timeline for talks, would not be available to the public. The market new that immediately, but everyone still believed, and still believes today, that a trade truce is a market positive. Mnuchin told CNBC yesterday that China made trade commitments worth around $1.2 trillion, but stressed that the details still need to be negotiated and that he was taking Xi Jinping at his word. All positives.

The Hang Seng and every index on the Shanghai Stock Exchange settled higher again today. The Chinese yuan moved through its 50 and 100 day moving average to settle even stronger against the dollar today at 6.83. The blame for Tuesday’s slide in the U.S. can be laid upon New York Fed chief John Williams. He said today that the U.S. economy can handle more rate hikes. This comes just after Jerome Powell spoke at The Economic Club in New York last week saying the Fed funds rate was close to neutral. For once, a Powell speech sent the markets higher. No one really knows precisely what the neutral rate is, though it is perceived to be somewhere between 3% and 3.5%.

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Unhinged?!

Dow Plunges Nearly 800 Points On Rising Fears Of An Economic Slowdown (CNBC)

Stocks fell sharply on Tuesday in the biggest decline since the October rout as investors worried about a bond-market phenomenon signaling a possible economic slowdown. Lingering worries around U.S.-China trade also added to jitters on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 799.36 points, or 3.1%, to close at 25,027.07 and posted its worst day since Oct. 10. At its low of the day, the Dow had fallen more than 800 points. The S&P 500 declined 3.2% to close at 2,700.06. The benchmark fell below its 200-day moving average, which triggered more selling from algorithmic funds. Financials were the worst performers in the S&P 500, plunging 4.4%.

[..] The yield on the three-year Treasury note surpassed its five-year counterpart on Monday. When a so-called yield curve inversion happens — short-term yields trading above longer-term rates — a recession could follow, though it is often years away after the signal triggers. Still, many traders believe the inversion won’t be official until the 2-year yield rises above the 10-year yield, which has not happened yet. Stocks began falling to their lows of the day after Jeffrey Gundlach, CEO of Doubleline Capital, told Reuters this inversion signals that the economy “is poised to weaken.” The flattening yield curve caused investors to bail on bank stocks on concern the phenomenon may hurt their lending margins. [..] Shares of J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America all declined more than 4%. Citigroup and Morgan Stanley both reached 52-week lows ..

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Are there people left who think they will regain these losses?

FAANG Stocks Shed $140 Billion In Tuesday’s Market Rout (CNBC)

Tech stocks are back in correction territory after a painful day for public exchanges. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index fell nearly 4%, with tech stocks like Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook weighing most heavily. In total, the so-called FAANG stocks — Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet-owned Google — shed more than $140 billion in market value by the end of the trading Tuesday. The losses extend pain periods for Apple, which has seen downturn in recent weeks, and Facebook, which is suffering a down year on the heels of several scandals. Amazon and Netflix, though, are each up more than 40% year-to-date despite getting caught in the rout. With Tuesday’s losses, Alphabet is hanging onto modest year-to-date gains, up just 0.8% in 2018.

Here’s how it shook out:
• Facebook fell 2.2%, losing $7.6 billion in implied market value
• Amazon fell 5.9%, losing $50.8 billion in implied market value
• Apple fell 4.4%, losing $38.5 billion in implied market value
• Netflix fell 5.2%, losing $6.5 billion in implied market value
• Alphabet fell 4.8%, losing $37.5 billion in implied market value

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Long term makes sense. h/t Tyler.

The Art of Defaulting (Jensen)

I always distinguish between short-term debt cycles and debt super-cycles. Short-term debt cycles move more or less in parallel with the underlying economic cycles and last on average 7-8 years – in line with the average length of economic cycles. Debt super-cycles are a different kettle of fish. They typically last 50-75 years and have (unbeknown to many) existed for thousands of years. According to Ray [Dalio], they even get a mention in the Old Testament, which described the need to wipe out debt every 50 years or so. It is referred to as the Year of Jubilee in the old book. Debt super-cycles always end with a big bang. The previous debt super-cycle ended with the breakout of World War II, and a new debt super-cycle commenced its life when the canons fell silent in 1945. We are now almost 75 years into the current super-cycle; i.e. it will go down in history as one of the longer ones.

What do debt crises have in common? To begin with, I should point out that the 41 major debt crises that Ray has identified since 1980 are part of an even bigger number of debt crises that he discusses in his new book, starting with the hyperinflationary debt crisis in Germany between 1918 and 1925. I should also point out that every crisis he brings up is a mid to late stage super-cycle crisis. Not one crisis is from the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s. The logic is quite simple. In the early stages of a debt super-cycle, adding debt is actually a good thing and spurs economic growth; i.e. debt crises rarely occur in the earlier stages of debt super-cycles and almost never cause a major slump in GDP. Only later in the super-cycle does more debt actually become a problem.

Back to my question – what do all these crises have in common? All debt cycles start with a period of healthy borrowings, which is good for GDP growth (stage 1 in Exhibit 1 below). It is also worth noticing that, in the early stages of a typical debt super-cycle, a dollar of added debt leads to approx. a dollar of GDP growth. The two grow more or less in line, but that changes dramatically later in the super-cycle – more on that below. Healthy borrowing eventually turns into what Ray calls the bubble stage (stage 2). At this stage, excesses are creeping in; borrowers assume that the good times will continue forever, so they continue to borrow, even if they cannot always afford it. Three conditions are typically prevalent during the bubble stage: 1. Debt grows faster than income. 2. Equity markets rally. 3. The yield curve flattens. All three conditions have been prevalent in recent years.

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They simply don’t like Macron.

Anarchists, Butchers And Finance Workers In Court Over Paris Riots (AFP)

What started out as protests against the introduction of new fuel taxes has spiralled into a broad opposition front to Macron and his pro-business economic reforms since he took power in May 2017. Stephane, a 45-year-old butcher from the Hautes Alpes area of eastern France, said it was the first time he had joined a demonstration like the one on the Champs-Elysees on Saturday. He was accused of charging head-first into a line of riot police, known as CRS. “I would have liked the CRS to come and shake us by the hand, to put themselves on the people’s side,” he told the court. Jeremy Onselaer, a 22-year-old from the Parisian suburbs, defied any stereotyping: the master’s student earns 2,500 euros a month working part-time in the finance department of the national postal service.

He was accused of building barricades in the street, attempting to harm police officers and possessing cannabis. His lawyer urged magistrates not to impose a restraining order that would have banned him from the capital, because he had studies to pursue at the Paris School of Business. The strain on police and the justice system caused by so many cases was also evident at the recently opened new Paris city court complex, designed by star Italian architect Renzo Piano. “The conditions for the defence are completely unacceptable,” one lawyer complained, adding that she had six clients and had spent only a few minutes with each of them. Many suspects opted to have their trials deferred to prepare their defence, with hearings set to resume next year.

In most cases, magistrates ordered the suspects to report to police regularly until their trials, starting on Saturday morning when another day of protests has been announced. There were also numerous cases of instant acquittals due to the flimsiness of evidence provided by police. A 50-year-old nurse from Nice walked free saying he had been randomly arrested while walking in the Bastille area of Paris. “Violence is not part of my thinking,” he said, adding that he was a regular practitioner of yoga and meditation.

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“Even its elected representatives disagree with one another about the future of the movement.”

Eh, there are not elected representatives. That’s exactly what they don’t want. There may be a small group who pick some reps, but that’s not the same thing.

French History Has Never Seen A Protest Like The Yellow Vest Movement (Qz)

France is a country that’s no stranger to protest movements—from the massive student demonstrations of 1968 to contemporary union-led strikes. But during the “yellow vest” protests that rocked the streets of Paris this weekend, protesters reached further back in their history, to the era of the French Revolution. Protesters marching along the Champs-Elysées on Saturday (Dec. 1) could be heard chanting slogans like “We are running the revolution” and “Macron to the Bastille.” The Arc de Triomphe bore a message in spray paint: “We have chopped off heads for less than this,” a reference to the death by guillotine of king Louis XVI and his wife, Marie-Antoinette.

Are the yellow vests modern Jacobins fighting contemporary tyranny—or are they something entirely different? Quartz spoke with Danielle Tartakowsky, a history professor at Paris 8 university who recently published a book about the French state, about how to contextualize the yellow vests within France’s history of protest movements. According to Tartakowsky, the current demonstrations are unlike any other, marking an important shift in France’s political landscape. Unlike in previous large-scale protest movements in France, the yellow vests began as an organic, grassroots movement, born of the frustration of a small group of individuals who organized the protests entirely on Facebook. Tartakowsky says that’s one way in which these protests are unique.

Typically, French protests on the left have been organized or supported by major labor unions, and protests on the right (such as the marches against the legalization of gay marriage in 2012) were typically organized by Catholic groups. The lack of institutional framework is one of the things that sets the yellow vests apart from previous political movements and give them independence from any particular party, politician, or political leaning. That is one of their strengths, says Tartakowsky, since it gives the movement broader appeal (link in French). But it is also a major weakness, since the movement suffers from a lack of coherent message and leadership. Even its elected representatives disagree with one another about the future of the movement.

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No Brexit or no Deal. Anything in between is crumbling.

Theresa May Suffers Worst Day In Her Career … Until Next Week (Ind. )

The door of the flat above 10 Downing Street flat clicks shut. In the kitchen, Philip May stops rotating the tin opener around the rim of the baked bean tin and turns his head toward the hallway. “Hello darling. How was your day?” An exhalation is heard, followed by the sound of breaking glass. In the living room, the cat quietly turns to stone. “Well I lost more votes than Gordon Brown managed in three years. My own government became the first in history to be found in contempt of parliament, which means that in the morning I’ve got to publish the legal advice on just how terrible my own Attorney General reckons Brexit will be. Yes, Philip, yes, the same chap who I got to introduce me at party conference.

Yes, yes I know he said Brexit was “an eagle mewing her mighty youth” and yes, now it turns out he’d rather be imprisoned in the Tower of London than admit in public to how bad he has said it will be in private. “The TV debate where I wanted to show the people just how useless Jeremy Corbyn is isn’t happening and everyone is already saying it’s because I’m too useless to do it. My oldest friends voted against me. The EU has decided Article 50 can be revoked unilaterally, which means Brexit could be stopped altogether. No, Philip, that’s not a good thing. What do you mean why? I can’t remember why. Oh, and I’ve just opened a five day debate on my Brexit deal that’s going to end with my last two years work being chucked out, and barring a miracle that isn’t going to happen, me being chucked out after.”

On a less busy day, the Prime Minister might have had time to include the fact that the Governor of the Bank of England is now at open civil war with the previous Governor of the Bank of England. And he had to tell MPs on the Treasury Select Committee who had accused him of ratcheting up Project Fear by publishing his analysis of what might happen if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, that he had only published it because they themselves had asked him to.

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Parliament should decide these things.

UK Inches Closer To New Brexit Referendum As MPs Take Back Control (Ind.)

The push for a final say referendum has taken decisive steps forward in London and Brussels just a week before parliament is expected to reject Theresa May’s Brexit plan. On Tuesday MPs made the significant move of backing a plan to give the Commons more power to dictate what happens if the prime minister’s approach is ditched. A few hours earlier in Brussels the European Court of Justice also signalled it was set to rule that the UK could unilaterally revoke Article 50 – killing off Brexit – if it wanted to. The twin developments deliver both a means for MPs to secure a new referendum and legal clarity that they could halt the Brexit process if the public then decided to remain in the EU.

The government’s weakness was once again underlined as it lost three consecutive votes – including one unprecedented defeat which resulted in Ms May’s administration being held in “contempt of parliament” for refusing to publish legal advice on the proposed Brexit deal. At the start of the week campaigners delivered petitions carrying almost 1.5 million names to Downing Street, which demanded the British public have a Final Say on Brexit through a people’s vote. While Ms May remains adamant there will be no new referendum, MPs are already looking ahead to how parliament can impose its will if her deal is rejected in the commons vote on 11 December – something which now seems inevitable. Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs tabled and won a vote on a motion significantly increasing the ability of parliament to steer the path of government if Ms May’s plan is defeated.

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Flynn said he admitted a lie because he couldn’t afford his own defense. If he did anything truly wrong, it’s his deals with Turkey. But that’s not what this is about.

Mueller Says Michael Flynn Gave Details Of Trump Team Russia Contacts (CNBC)

Former national security advisor Michael Flynn has given special counsel Robert Mueller “first-hand” details of contacts between President Donald Trump’s transition team and Russian government officials, a bombshell court document filed Tuesday says. Mueller in a sentencing memo said Flynn’s “substantial assistance” to his probe warrants a light criminal sentence — which could include no jail time for the retired Army lieutentant general. That assistance, which includes 19 interviews with Mueller’s team and Justice Department attorneys, related to a previsouly unknown “criminal investigation,” as well as to Mueller’s long-running probe of the Trump campaign’s and transition team’s links or coordination with the Russian government.

“The defendant provided firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials,” the memo says. Mueller’s memo almost completely blacks out details of what Flynn might have said. Trump’s ex-national security advisor is due to be sentenced Dec. 18 in U.S. District Court in Washington. He pleaded guilty last December to a single count of lying to federal agents about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition in late 2016. Flynn has cooperated with Mueller’s ongoing probe since pleading guilty. “Given the defendant’s substantial assistance and other considerations set forth below, a sentence at the low end of the guideline range — including a sentence that does not impose a term of incarceration — is appropriate and warranted,” Mueller’s office wrote in the memo filed Tuesday.

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Stockman is no Trump fan.

Hey, Mr. Trump! Tear Down That Deep State Wall (Stockman)

When the Donald promised to “drain the swamp” during the 2016 election campaign, it did sound vaguely like an attack on Big Government, and at least a directional desire to shrink the state and let free market capitalism breathe. After 22 months in office, however, the truth is patently obvious: The only Swamp that Donald Trump wants to drain is one filled with his political enemies and policy adversaries at any given moment in time. Even then, you have to consult his tweetstorm ledger to know exactly who the swamp creatures de jure actually are. Still, the Donald’s daily Twitter assaults on the Deep State are a wondrous thing. They surely do undermine public confidence in rogue institutions like the FBI, CIA and NSA, which profoundly threaten America’s constitutional liberties and fiscal solvency.

Likewise, his frequently unhinged tweets also lather their congressional sponsors and beltway poo-bahs with well-deserved mud and opprobrium. And the Donald’s increasingly acrimonious public feuding with Deep State criminals like James Comey and John Brennan is just what the doctor ordered. The Deep State thrives and milks the public treasury so successfully in large part because the Imperial City’s corps of permanent policy apparatchiks like Comey and Brennan (and thousands more) pretend to be performing god’s work. So doing, they preen sanctimoniously to the adoration of their sycophants in the mainstream media, claiming to be above any governance or sanction from the unwashed electorate.

Attacking this rotten perversion of democracy, therefore, is the Donald’s real calling. While he lacks both the temperament and ideas to solve the nation’s metastasizing economic and social challenges and has no hope whatsoever to make MAGA, he is more than suited for his “Great Disrupter” mission. That is, the existing order needs to be discredited and brought down first, and on that score his primitive economic populism will more than do its part. As we have previously explained, Trump’s deadly combination of Fiscal Debauchery, Protectionism and Easy Money will eventually blow the nation’s debt and bubble-ridden economy sky-high.

Likewise, his crude rendition of America First is not a blueprint for rebooting America’s national security policy, but it is an existential threat to Empire First and the Deep State’s usurpation of constitutional government. And even as the Donald lurches to and fro on Russia, Korea, the Middle East, NATO, globalism and so-called allies, the main job is getting done. That is, the War Party’s self-appointed role as global policeman and the Indispensable Nation is getting thoroughly discredited.

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“For all the deformities of the EU, France still maintains a general quality-of-life so far above what is found in the US these days that we look like some left-behind evolutionary dead end here in this wilderness of strip-malls and muffler shops…”

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Kunstler)

It’s not hard to see why US life expectancy is going down, driven by the two new leading causes of death: opiate drugs and suicide — the former often in the service of the latter. The citizens of this land have exchanged just about everything that makes life worth living for the paltry rewards of “bargain shopping” and happy motoring. But the worst sacrifice is the loss of any sense of community, of face-to-face human transactions with people you know, people who have duties and obligations to one another that can be successfully enacted and fulfilled. Instead, you get to do all your business with robots, even including the robots fronting for companies that seek to ruin you. “Your call is important to us,” says the telephone robot at the hospital billing office dunning you to fork over $7,000 for the three stitches Little Skippy got when his best friend flew the drone into his forehead. “Please hold for the next available representative.” Who wouldn’t want to shoot themselves?

Interestingly, it’s the people of France who are going apeshit at this moment in history and not the much more beaten-down Americans. For all the deformities of the EU, France still maintains a general quality-of-life so far above what is found in the US these days that we look like some left-behind evolutionary dead end here in this wilderness of strip-malls and muffler shops. They live in towns and cities that are designed to bring people together in public. They support small business in spite of the diktats of Brussels. They maintain an interest in doing things well for its own sake. The French are rioting these days not simply over the cost of diesel fuel but because they’ve had enough impingements on their traditional ways of life and seek to arrest the losses.

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The first in a long series of overborrowed nations.

Australia’s Economy Slows, Debt-Laden Consumers A Deadweight (R.)

Australia’s economy slowed more than expected last quarter as consumers reacted to tepid wage growth by shutting their wallets, a disappointing outcome that sent the local dollar sliding as investors pushed out the chance of any rate hike. The news came as fears of a possible slowdown in the U.S. economy and the Sino-U.S. tariff slugged world shares and threatened future business investment. The gloomy report provides another blow to Australia’s center-right government, which is already lagging in polls ahead of a likely election in May. Wednesday’s report on GDP showed the economy expanded 0.3% in the third quarter, half of what economists had expected.

Second-quarter growth was unrevised at 0.9%. Annual GDP rose by a still-respectable 2.8% to A$1.8 trillion ($1.32 trillion), but confounded expectations in a Reuters poll for a 3.3% increase. The figures also imply growth in the year to June was 3%, rather than the originally report 3.4%. The data will not be welcomed by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which predicts growth of around 3-1/2% this year and next. “The RBA forecasts are now looking pretty optimistic,” said Tom Kennedy, senior economist at JPMorgan.

Read more …

Mar 132017
 
 March 13, 2017  Posted by at 5:41 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Vincenzo Camuccini La Morte Di Cesare 1804

 

I don’t think Holland realized they planned their election on the Ides of March, don’t remember the date or event ever being mentioned when I lived there as a child. That Washington knew what it was doing when back in 2013 it set the end of the latest debt ceiling compromise to March 15 is not likely either. Nor is Janet Yellen deliberately setting the Fed’s ‘next’ rate hike on the date. They may all, in hindsight, wish they had possessed a little more historical knowledge.

When Shakespeare (and Plutarch before him) wrote ‘Beware the Ides of March’, he was talking about the murder of Julius Ceasar in 44 BC, by a group of senators, which included Brutus. But the incident can also be more broadly seen as the separation line between the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. And now we’re getting somewhere interesting when looking at present day events. Democracy under threat of absolutism.

Leafing through the Dutch press, opinions differ on which politicians will profit most from the sudden row with Turkey that flared up over the weekend. Is it far right Wilders, who can now claim that he always foresaw things like this? Or is it “just a little less right” PM Rutte, who gets to look like a statesman and a decision maker? None of the other parties, there are 31 in total, look positioned to reap any gains from the bewildering developments.

The Netherlands is the ‘capital of fascism’, said Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu on Sunday in France, where he ended up after being refused landing rights on Saturday. I know I’m biased, but no matter how you twist and turn it, that’s quite a statement about the country of Anne Frank, which lost most of its extensive Jewish population, and it was only a follow-up to Turkish president Erdogan earlier calling the Dutch ‘nazi’s and ‘remnants of fascists’.

Erdogan later managed ‘banana republic’. And declared that no-one can treat ‘his citizens’ the way a photograph taken Saturday night seemed to depict, in which a Turkish protester was attacked by a police dog. Apart from the question whether dogs should ever be used in quelling protests, this raises another issue crucial to the whole story. That is, Turkey insists that people who’ve lived in other countries for decades are nevertheless ‘its citizens’ (and not of their adopted countries).

As an aside, that story and photo of the dog – a German shepherd- reminds me of ‘When We Were Kings’, the movie about the Rumble in the Jungle fight in Kinshasa between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, in which the latter emerges, upon arrival, from his plane with a huge German shepherd and thereby loses the sympthy of the local people, and some say the whole fight, people had very bad memories about such dogs.

 

So what happened in Holland? About 10 days ago, someone announced there would be a meeting (a rally) on Saturday March 11 in a ‘party hall’ in Rotterdam, that would be attended by Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu. This set off an alert inside the Dutch government, because in Germany similar meetings had been cancelled in the preceding days. The reason for the cancellations is that these are political rallies to gain support from Turks living abroad for an April 16 referendum designed to give Erdogan very far-reaching powers.

Turkey claims the right to freedom of speech and political gathering. And they would perhaps have been granted this, if not for the July 15 2016 coup in the country, and especially its aftermath. Both Germany and Holland have been aware of Erdogan and his people putting pressure on their ‘citizens’ living abroad to for instance report ‘hidden’ Gülen supporters to embassies and consulates and mosques. In other words, to create divisions between one group of (Dutch or German) Turks and another.

Needless to say, neither Berlin not The Hague wants anything to do with that. But they want to reach some sort of compromise. No matter how they may feel about the country post-coup, Turkey is a NATO partner and the EU has an all-important deal with Ankara to keep refugees away from Europe. Even though it was obvious from the start that this was the dumbest deal with the devil anyone since Faust has ever signed, elections trump common sense and principles.

Over the next days, the Dutch tell Ankara they consider foreign minister Cavusoglu’s planned rally ‘undesirable’. Rotterdam mayor Aboutaleb, a Dutch-Morrocan muslim, bans the planned meeting. But the Turks respond that Cavusoglu will come no matter what, and for Holland to arrange an alternative venue. The Dutch don’t like this at all, but try to compromise with a meeting with a small group of invitees. On Friday, Turkey suggests the Rotterdam residence of the Turkish consul. Aboutaleb is not amused: the location of the home ‘invites’ the gathering of a large number of people outside.

Saturday morning comes with a lot of discussion. The consulate is suggested as a venue. Then, Turkey sends a message to a large group of Dutch Turks to come to the consulate. And while talks are ongoing, Cavusoglu tells CNNTürk TV that if Holland revokes his plane’s landing rights, something that has been mentioned in negotiations only as a last resort, there will be ‘economic and political sanctions’.

 

Rutte and his crew see no other choice than to do just that: revoke the landing rights. To which the response is to drive the -female- Turkish Minister of Family Affairs, Kaya, who’s in Germany, to Rotterdam. There were allegedly even multiple convoys, with decoys and all, so Holland wouldn’t know what car she was in. Meanwhile, the allegations of nazism and fascism had started to be unloaded on The Hague.

As someone remarked: all Erdogan wanted was a photo-op, a picture with 10,000 Turks waving their flags in the streets of Holland. Things turned out different. Minister Kaya made it to Rotterdam, but was refused entry into the consulate, declared an undesirable alien and told she must return to Germany. It took many hours, but finally she was put into a different car than the one she came in and driven back across the border.

From where she took a private plane to Istanbul. Turkey apparently was not clear on the difference between someone having a diplomatic passport and having diplomatic immunity. These things are regulated in the Vienna Convention, and Turkey wants Holland to be found in violation of it. But it doesn’t look like they are. And there are a few other things as well:

 

 

What I don’t get: where in the world does it say that you are free to hold political campaign events in any country you choose? Can you see Guatemalan rallies in the streets of LA? With the risk of clashes between rival groups? And what would Turkey say if an anti-Erdogan protest were held in Berlin tomorrow? You think political rallies by foreigners are allowed in Turkey?

And then the rioting started late Saturday night in Rotterdam. What struck me in the pictures of the riots, and in other footage, is how many times they contain men making hand-signs of either the Muslim Brotherhood or the Grey Wolves, an ultra right wing Turkish group. I don’t get how that fits in the streets of countries like Germany and Holland, and I don’t get how it fits in with the man who’s seen as a demi-god in Turkey, founder in 1923 of the secular country of Turhey, Kemal Atatürk.

It looks like Erdogan is trying to idolize Atatürk, as any Turkish leader would have to do to get votes, and at the same time make the country an islamic state, something Atatürk definitely did not want, but which could Erdogan hand a majority for the referendum next month. Why else does he accuse western Europe of being Islamophobic?

Oh, and how does Michael Flynn fit into this picture? Trump’s former security adviser worked for Erdogan -indirectly- while sitting in on security meetings, and pushed the US to extradite Erdogan’s no. 1 enemy, Fethullah Gülen. If Washington had had proof that Gülen was behind the coup last year, one would think he’d already have been extradited. Flynn’s role gets curiouser by the day. Is this why he was cast out of the Trump team? For being a foreign agent?

 

Also curious is the fact that Erdogan on Friday, the day before the Holland situation played out, was visiting Russia to meet with Putin. He arrived back home to say something about an anti-missile defense system they could build together, and suggested that Putin agreed with him on the danger of the Kurdish fighters in Syria and beyond. Only, Putin never acknowledged such a thing, and Putin has never forgiven Erdogan for downing a Russian jet in November 2015. He just waits for the right payback time. But Turkey is a NATO country.

The EU should never have kept the Union membership carrot dangling in front of Erdogan’s face, knowing full well Turkey would never be accepted as a member, zero chance. It should not have signed the refugee deal either; that could only ever have blown up into its face. The first and major victim of that will once again be Greece. Another country that Erdogan has been trying to bully.

Turkish jets violating Greek airspace are so common people tend to ignore them. Recently, army ships have been sailing into Greek waters too. The idea seems to be some sort of preparation for contesting the 1923 Lausanne Treaty , which settled ownership disputes post-Ottoman Empire. There are so many islands and islets and rocks, anyone who wants to can always find something to fight over. And then of course there’s still Cyprus; negotiations are ongoing, but so are efforts to frustrate them.

And it’s not that the Turkish economy is doing so well, the lira lost 30% in 2016 and another 10% so far this year. But unlike Greece, Turkey still has its own currency, and therefore the ability to devaluate it and absorb financial shocks. Still, 40% in 15 months is a lot. Imports are getting very expensive. Maybe that’s what Erdogan is trying to drown out with his fighting words.

 

This afternoon, Turkey’s Parliament Speaker compared Dutch PM Rutte to Hitler, Franco AND Mussolini. Pol Pot must have slipped his mind for a moment. Denmark, France, Angela Merkel and Brussels have all told Turkey to tone down. But at the same time, German TV network ZDF reports there are 30 more Erdogan rallies and meetings planned in the country in the next month.

Erdogan is trying to let his people see him as a strongman, not afraid of anyone. He only has to paint this picture for another month, through his state owned TV channels, and he’ll get his near absolute powers. Meanwhile, the US and all of the EU are too busy trying to manage their own election issues. But that may not be such a wise choice. On April 17, they may be faced with a near dictator as member of NATO, and with a pro-Islam and anti-EU agenda.

Erdogan is done winning in Europe, and it was even only ever for his home audience to begin with. His biggest gains in votes -and he looks to be 48%-52% behind right now- will have to come from the war theater, where he pretends to fight ISIS only to send his army to kill the Kurds. It would be a good thing if besides Putin there were a few other powers to tell him that’s a no-go. Donald?! Turkey will never beat the Kurds, it’s just an endless bloody battle. Time to make Kurdistan a nation, one way or the other.

It all sort of fits in with the whole political picture these days, doesn’t it? And with Ceasar and the Ides of March.

 

 

Apr 032016
 
 April 3, 2016  Posted by at 9:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Jack Delano “Untitled” 1940

Trump Predicts A ‘Very Massive Recession’ (WaPo)
IMF Plots New “Credit Event” For Greece (Mason)
Greece Wants IMF Explanations Over Wikileaks Report (AFP)
IMF Weighing Exit From Greek Bailout (FT)
Lenders Eye Start Of Greek Debt Relief Talks At Mid-April IMF Meetings (R.)
As China Turns to Consumers, Australia Confronts End of Iron Age (BBG)
China’s Zeal For Steel Casts Long Shadows At Home And Abroad (G.)
The Dogmas Destroying UK Steel Also Inhibit Future Economic Growth (G.)
Russian Oil Output Rises to Record as Production Freeze in Doubt (BBG)
Cheap Oil ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’ For US Economy: Goldman (CNBC)
Fears Grow Over Refugee Safety With EU Returns Plan Set To Take Effect (Ind.)
EU-Turkey Refugee Plan Could Be Illegal, Says UN Official (G.)
Greece On Brink Of Chaos As Refugees Riot Over Forced Return To Turkey (G.)
129 Unaccompanied Children Missing Since Calais Camp Demolition (Ind.)

“..it’s a terrible time right now” to invest in the stock market..”

Trump Predicts A ‘Very Massive Recession’ (WaPo)

Donald Trump said in an interview that economic conditions are so perilous that the country is headed for a “very massive recession” and that “it’s a terrible time right now” to invest in the stock market, embracing a distinctly gloomy view of the economy that counters mainstream economic forecasts. The New York billionaire dismissed concern that his comments – which are exceedingly unusual, if not unprecedented, for a major party front-runner – could potentially affect financial markets. “I know the Wall Street people probably better than anybody knows them,” said Trump, who has misfired on such predictions in the past. “I don’t need them.”

Trump’s go-it-alone instincts were a consistent refrain – “I’m the Lone Ranger,” he said at one point – during a 96-minute interview Thursday in which he talked candidly about his aggressive style of campaigning and offered new details about what he would do as president. The real estate mogul, top aides and his son Don Jr. gathered over lunch at a makeshift conference table set amid construction debris at Trump’s soon-to-be-finished hotel five blocks from the White House. Just before, he had met there with his foreign-policy advisers and just after he visited officials at the Republican National Committee – signs that, in spite of his Trump-knows-best manner, the political novice is making efforts to build a more well-rounded bid.

Over the course of the discussion, the candidate made clear that he would govern in the same nontraditional way that he has campaigned, tossing aside decades of American policy and custom in favor of a new, Trumpian approach to the world. In his first 100 days, Trump said, he would cut taxes, “renegotiate trade deals and renegotiate military deals,” including altering the U.S. role in NATO. He insisted that he would be able to get rid of the nation’s more than $19 trillion national debt “over a period of eight years.” Most economists would consider this impossible because it could require taking more than $2 trillion a year out of the annual $4 trillion budget to pay off holders of the debt.

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Creating crisis.

IMF Plots New “Credit Event” For Greece (Mason)

The IMF has been caught, red handed, plotting to stage a “credit event” that forces Greece to the edge of bankruptcy, using the pretext of the Brexit referendum. No, this is not the plot of the next Bond movie. It is the transcript of a teleconference between the IMF’s chief negotiator, Poul Thomsen and Delia Velculescu, head of the IMF mission to Greece. Released by Wikileaks, the discussion took place in Athens just before the IMF walked out of talks aimed at giving Greece the green light for the next stage of its bailout. The situation is: the IMF does not believe the numbers being used by both Greece and Europe to do the next stage of the deal.

It does not want to take part in the bailout. Meanwhile the EU cannot do the deal without the IMF because the German parliament won’t allow it. As they bicker about the numbers, Thomsen and Velculescu are heard mulling whether to suppress the IMF’s next report on whether Greek debt is sustainable. That’s important because the IMF will only sign up to a deal that involves debt relief, and the Germans will not.

Then Thomsen drops the bombshell:
THOMSEN: What is going to bring it all to a decision point? In the past there has been only one time when the decision has been made and then that was when they were about to run out of money seriously and to default. Right?
VELCULESCU: Right!
THOMSEN: And possibly this is what is going to happen again. In that case, it drags on until July, and clearly the Europeans are not going to have any discussions for a month before the Brexits and so, at some stage they will want to take a break and then they want to start again after the European referendum.
Velculescu says they should try and do something in April. Thomsen replies:
THOMSEN: But that is not an event. That is not going to cause them to… That discussion can go on for a long time. And they are just leading them down the road… why are they leading them down the road? Because they are not close to the event, whatever it is.
VELCULESCU: I agree that we need an event, but I don’t know what that will be.

So let me decode. An “event” is a financial crisis bringing Greece close to default. Just like last year, when the banks closed, millions of people faced economic and psychological catastrophe. Only this time, the IMF wants to inflict that catastrophe on a nation holding tens of thousands of refugees and tasked with one of the most complex and legally dubious international border policing missions in modern history. The Greek government is furious: “we are not going to let the IMF play with fire,” a source told me. But the issue is out of Greek hands. In the end, as Thomsen hints in the transcript, only the European Commission and above all the German government can decide to honour the terms of the deal it did to bail Greece out last July. The transcript, though received with fury and incredulity in Greece, will drop like a bombshell into the Commission and the ECB. It is they who are holding €300bn+ of Greek debt. It is the whole of Europe, in other words, that the IMF is conspiring to hit with the shock doctrine.

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But won’t get any.

Greece Wants IMF Explanations Over Wikileaks Report (AFP)

Greece on Saturday demanded “explanations” from the IMF after Wikileaks said the lender sought a crisis “event” to push the indebted nation into concluding talks over its reforms. IMF officials, in an internal discussion, allegedly voiced exasperation with Greece on its slow pace of reform, complaining Athens only moved decisively when faced with the peril of default, the website said. An “event” was thus needed to drive the threat of default and get the Greeks to act, one official purportedly says. The “event” is not described in the transcript placed on the Wikileaks website on Saturday. The official, assessing the state of the talks and the political calendar, predicts the EU will stop discussions “for a month” before Britain’s EU referendum on June 23.

The Greek government reacted strongly to the report, saying it wanted the IMF to clarify its position. “The Greek government is demanding explanations from the IMF over whether seeking to create default conditions in Greece, shortly ahead of the referendum in Britain, is the fund’s official position,” spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili said in a statement. The transcript purports to be that of a teleconference that took place on March 19. Those taking part were Iva Petrova and Delia Velculescu, who have been representing the IMF in the negotiations with Greece, and Poul Thomsen, director of the Fund’s European Department.

In it, Thomsen allegedly voices exasperation with the slow pace of talks on Greek reforms between Greece and its international lenders. “In the past there has been only one time when the decision has been made and then that was when (the Greeks) were about to run out of money seriously and to default,” he reportedly says. “I agree that we need an event, but I don’t know what that will be,” Velculescu allegedly replies later in the conversation.

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Hubris.

IMF Weighing Exit From Greek Bailout (FT)

The IMF is considering forcing Germany’s leadership to quickly grant wide-ranging debt relief for Greece or allow the Fund to exit Athens’ bailout programme after six years, according to a transcript of an internal IMF teleconference published by WikiLeaks. The teleconference, between the head of the IMF’s European operations and its top Greek bailout monitor, is the clearest sign to date that the Fund wants to leave Greece’s €86 billion ($97 billion) rescue to the European Union alone and wash its hands of a programme that has led to a torrent of criticism. During the call, which occurred just two weeks ago, Poul Thomsen, head of the IMF’s European bureau, notes that Berlin is under intense political pressure because of the refugee crisis and suggests confronting Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, to either agree to debt relief or allow the IMF to exit.

German officials have repeatedly said they could not participate in Greece’s bailout without the IMF on board, and senior members of the Bundestag have warned Ms Merkel they would reject new eurozone loans to Greece if only EU authorities were monitoring the programme. “Look, you Ms Merkel, you face a question, you have to think about what is more costly: to go ahead without the IMF? Would the Bundestag say, ‘The IMF is not on board’?” the transcript quotes Mr Thomsen as saying to his staff. “Or [does Ms Merkel] pick the debt relief that we think that Greece needs in order to keep us on board? Right? That is really the issue.” The IMF said it would not comment on “supposed reports of internal discussions.” But it noted that it has long pushed for “a credible set of reforms matched by debt relief from [Greece’s] European partners.”

One official involved in the talks said it accurately reflected Mr Thomsen’s private and publicly-stated views, albeit in “more direct and colourful language.” Many of the points raised by Mr Thomsen in the call have been made publicly on his IMF blog. Greek officials, however, reacted angrily to the revelation, arguing it was evidence the IMF was “blackmailing” Germany on the debt relief issue. “We will not allow anyone to play with fire and blackmail Greece or Germany or Europe,” said a senior Greek official. Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, was meeting with his cabinet on Saturday to decide how to respond and was expected to talk to Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, later in the day.The IMF teleconference came just days after Wolfgang Schäuble, the powerful German finance minister, publicly said he was opposed to Greek debt relief — despite the fact eurozone leaders agreed to restructuring last July at a high-drama EU summit that agreed to a third bailout programme.

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Yada yada.

Lenders Eye Start Of Greek Debt Relief Talks At Mid-April IMF Meetings (R.)

Euro zone finance ministers are likely to start discussing debt relief for Greece on the sidelines of the IMF’s spring meetings in mid-April, if there is a deal by then with Athens on a reform package, euro zone officials said. Representatives of Greece’s official lenders are to resume talks with the Greek government from Monday on how to tackle non-performing loans in the banking system and pension and income tax reforms. Negotiations on these reforms have been dragging on for months because they are politically very difficult for the left-wing government of Alexis Tsipras, elected on promises to end austerity. Yet these measures are crucial for Greece to reach a sizeable primary surplus in 2018, when lenders hope it will be able to manage its own finances and borrow from the market at sustainable rates.

Without an agreement on the measures, Athens cannot get the next tranche of loans from the euro zone bailout fund. It needs the money to pay back $4 billion to the IMF and the ECB in July. An agreement is also a crucial condition for any debt relief talks to start and a deal on debt relief is also a condition for the IMF to participate in the bailout program for Greece. “If the Greeks want to …have a disbursement well before July, there needs to be agreement on policies by around mid-April – and on 12 April everybody goes to Washington, so best before that,” one senior euro zone official said.

“Only then can one start discussing debt issues in earnest, and that will take some time. And then at the end everything has to come together simultaneously,” the official said. “For now everybody is working towards this – but the decisive factor is if the Greeks can pull their act together politically, there is no technically difficult issue anywhere,” the official said. Many euro zone finance ministers will participate in the spring meetings of the IMF in Washington on April 15-17, including all the biggest euro zone members, as well as top representatives of all the key euro zone institutions.

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Down for the count.

As China Turns to Consumers, Australia Confronts End of Iron Age (BBG)

Just as China’s industrialization helped reshape Australia’s economy, the Asian giant’s pivot toward consumer-led growth is challenging Down Under anew. Chinese demand for food and energy will only partly offset slowing growth in iron ore exports that funneled cash throughout Australia for more than a decade, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. That means the nation must find new growth drivers at a time a housing boom falters and a resurgent currency compound difficulties posed by the slowdown in Australia’s biggest trading partner. Central bank Governor Glenn Stevens acknowledged last week it’s impossible to know how China’s transition will unfold given nothing on the scale has been tried before, signaling elevated risks ahead for the developed world’s most China-dependent economy.

Minutes from its March 1 board meeting – where interest rates were kept at a record low 2% – showed a bigger chunk of policy makers’ time was spent discussing China. “The Australian economy at the moment is being buoyed by the confidence that comes from extraordinarily low interest rates driving up asset prices,” said Andrew Charlton, director of consultancy AlphaBeta in Sydney and one-time adviser to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The subsequent housing boom and wealth creation “have been temporary policy stimulus holding up what will be a long-term negative impact of the changing Chinese economy on Australia.” The stakes are high for Australia, with China accounting for about a third of its trade and earning the mineral-rich country about 5% of its GDP.

Furthermore, resources will still comprise a larger share of Australia’s commodity exports to China than food in the coming two decades, the RBA’s chief China specialist Ivan Roberts said in a research paper released March 18. The pressures aren’t restricted to Asia. China’s steel production could be materially cut by a European Union move to consider tougher steel-import tariffs amid concern that Chinese producers pose a threat to their continental counterparts, Fitch Ratings warned on March 24. That would inevitably flow onto Australia’s iron ore industry, where prices have already slumped about 75% in the last five years. While iron ore rebounded 23% in the first quarter to as high as $63.74, McKinsey & Co. predicts the steel making ingredient will snap back to between $45 and $50 this year as evidence of any real improvement in demand is scant.

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Trade war is inevitable.

China’s Zeal For Steel Casts Long Shadows At Home And Abroad (G.)

Until recently steel was a Chinese success story. Its steel industry kicked off in 1894 with a small victory against its historic rival, Japan, after the opening of the Hangyang Iron Works in Hubei province. Though it opened two years before Japan’s first steel plant, the factory was privatised in 1908 and was eventually bought by the Japanese. The first world war stimulated demand, and after a postwar decline in production, further Chinese steel plants saw the industry take off. When Mao Zedong took power in 1949 and the People’s Republic of China was established, self-sufficiency rather than global industry domination was the driving force in a diplomatically isolated country. Steel production expanded through the 1950s as Soviet-influenced heavy industrialisation kicked in.

Annual output was 158,000 tonnes when Mao took over; by 1976, the year before his death and the final year of the decade-long Cultural Revolution, it was 20.5 million tonnes. But in the 1980s, China imported more and more steel as it struggled to meet domestic demand. As the country’s economic clout grew, the government set a target of increasing crude steel production to 60 million tonnes by the end of 1990 and 80 million by 1995. Early signs of the recent, disastrous, overproduction were apparent as these targets were surpassed. In 1996, China overtook Japan to become the world’s biggest steel producer, churning out more than 101 million tonnes that year. The 2008 global recession failed to put the brakes on. While much of the developed world was mired in crisis, China boasted a 9% GDP growth rate in 2009.

Steel production was still rocketing, with output of 683 million tonnes in 2011. After 2014, China’s economic growth slowed, and so did domestic demand. China responded by increasing steel exports, which led to accusations of dumping. In 2015 exports increased by 20% to 107 million tonnes. Prices were slashed as Chinese steel companies battled to survive. The dumping cast a shadow over the UK steel industry, and has also meant shutdowns and layoffs at Chinese plants. Last month, before it became clear that 40,000 jobs were at risk in the UK, the Chinese government announced that 500,000 steel workers were to lose their jobs. All this is the result of China’s first annual steel industry contraction in a quarter of a century, announced last January. The government is aiming to cut steel production by 150 million tonnes by 2020.

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Ayn Rand.

The Dogmas Destroying UK Steel Also Inhibit Future Economic Growth (G.)

The elimination of Britain’s steel industry in a matter of weeks – the reality of Tata’s statement that it wants to close its UK operations – is, by any standards, shocking. There will be efforts to save something from the ruins, but the financial and trading truths are brutal. This has not happened, however, in a day, or even over the past few years. Rather the plight of British steel making is the culmination of 40 years of refusal to organise economic, financial and industrial policy to support the generation of value. This is done in the laissez-faire belief – contested even in economic theory – that any such attempt is self-defeating. Business secretary Sajid Javid personifies this view. In fact, he is surely the most ideologically driven and least practical politician to hold this key post since the war. The most generous interpretation is that this is creative destruction at work.

Steel was an integral element of an industrial economy now giving way to a new knowledge-based capitalism where know-how is more important than brawn. It is tragic for those whose livelihoods and skills are now redundant, but it was no less tragic for ostlers, sailmakers and coal miners in their day. The trouble is that Britain is very good at destruction, much less good at the creative part. Nor is it clear that steel’s days are over: its usage in a range of key functions – from transport to construction – remains fundamental and is growing. Rather, the economic behemoth China has monumentally over-invested in steel, for which there is too little domestic demand, and is now flooding world markets. Britain, with a systemically overvalued exchange rate, porous market, high energy costs and ideological refusal to join others in the EU to deter imports dumped below cost with higher tariffs, is uniquely exposed to the threat.

Now up to 40,000 workers directly and indirectly connected to steel production are about to lose their livelihoods. Beneath the specifics of the steel industry lie more deep-seated problems. The day after Tata’s announcement, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) disclosed that the country’s balance of payments deficit in the last quarter of 2015 climbed to a record 7% of GDP. Britain’s international accounts are more in the red than those of any other developed country. Imports of goods and services, which have steadily outstripped exports for decades, are now to be given an extra impetus by the closure of UK steel capacity. What’s more, the same weaknesses that plague the old also inhibit the growth of the new.

After the interventionism of the 1930s – or even the 1950s and 1960s – Britain could boast dozens of substantial companies representing industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, aerospace and electronics. Not so in 2016. Only two high-tech companies are represented in the FTSE 100 – ARM and Sage. Another 20 years of the laissez-faire framework Javid cherishes – he is a devotee of the wild philosopher of hyper-libertarianism Ayn Rand – and the economy will be eviscerated, with a current account deficit so large it cannot be conventionally financed. The consequences – on living standards, employment, inflation, interest rates and house prices – will be severe.

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Not in doubt, but non-existent.

Russian Oil Output Rises to Record as Production Freeze in Doubt (BBG)

Russia’s oil output set a post-Soviet high in March as the success of a proposed crude production freeze between OPEC members and other major producers appeared to be in doubt. Russian production of crude and a light oil called condensate climbed 2.1% in March from a year earlier to 10.912 million barrels a day, according to the Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit. That narrowly beat the previous high of 10.910 million barrels in January. With most OPEC members, Russia and some others outside the group scheduled to meet in Doha this month to discuss an accord on capping output, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman signaled in an interview with Bloomberg that if any country raises output, the kingdom will also boost sales.

Prices on Friday sank more than 4% after the comments. Iran previously said it plans to boost production after the lifting of sanctions following a deal to curb its nuclear program. Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and Qatar in February first proposed an accord to cap oil output to reduce a worldwide surplus and boost prices. Brent prices in London have gained nearly 40% from the 12-year low reached in January. Russian oil exports rose 10% to 5.59 million barrels a day, according to the Energy Ministry data.

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It was always blind to presume otherwise.

Cheap Oil ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’ For US Economy: Goldman (CNBC)

The U.S.’s embarrassment of oil riches may not have been that beneficial after all. Those are the findings of a recent Goldman Sachs report, in which the bank explained that the net effects of cheaper crude on growth have been “negative so far,” given the impact on oil producers who are now finding it hard to churn out more black gold while maintaining needed levels of capital expenditures. Although Goldman acknowledged a lift to consumer spending, the summary constituted an admission that the virtues of the boom that sent U.S. oil production skyrocketing, leaving world markets awash in inexpensive crude, may not have delivered the economic boost many observers had anticipated at its outset.

“While cheap oil has … become ‘too much of a good thing’ for growth, the employment impact of lower oil prices is likely still positive, reflecting the modest effect on employment of the capital-intensive energy sector,” Goldman wrote. Last year, the U.S. produced nearly 10 million barrels per day — the largest amount in decades and second only to Saudi Arabia. As a consequence of the massive buildup of supply that flooded world markets, oil prices slumped by more than half, placing intense pressure on domestic energy producers. In the research note released on Saturday, Goldman estimated that the level at which U.S. producers would need to breakeven is somewhere within a range of $45 to $80. On Friday, crude closed below $40 per barrel. Given current levels of crude, the crumbling of capital expenditures is a net drag on economic growth, Goldman notes.

It added that oil would need to climb back to $70 at least to give energy capital spending a second wind. “Adding up, we conclude that the net effect of cheap oil on growth has probably been negative so far, with the capex collapse outweighing the consumption boost,” analysts wrote. “But going forward, the net effect is likely to be neutral at worst under our $30 scenario, but would be moderately positive if oil prices rebound to $50 or $70, reflecting the outsized impact of price changes in this crucial range on energy capex and production,” it added. With that as a backdrop, energy companies are feeling the pinch of lower crude prices. Last year, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s warned that 50% of energy company bonds were now considered “distressed” and were at risk of default. In total, S&P estimates that $180 billion worth of debt falls in that category. Meanwhile, at least 50 different oil and gas companies have filed for bankruptcy since last year.

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The deal will throw back Europe by decades in the eyes of the world.

Fears Grow Over Refugee Safety With EU Returns Plan Set To Take Effect (Ind.)

Fears are growing that Greece will be unable to manage the task of sending back refugees to Turkey under the European Union’s controversial migrant transfer deal which is due to be enforced from Monday. Humanitarian aid groups have warned that the deal will be impossible for overwhelmed Greek and EU officials to implement. While a top UN official has said that the deal to send Syrian refugees back to Turkey en masse could be illegal, as Ankara is pushing them back over the border into the war zone. “Collective deportations without having regard to the individual rights of those who claim to be refugees are illegal,” Peter Sutherland, the UN Secretary General’s special representative for international migration and development told the BBC.

“Secondly, their rights have to be absolutely protected where they are deported to, in other words Turkey. There has to be adequate assurances they can’t be sent back from Turkey to Syria.” There has also been opposition to the move from within both Greece and Turkey. In the coastal Turkish town of Dikili, hundreds demonstrated on Saturday against the prospect of hosting people expelled from the nearby Greek islands, especially Chios and Lesbos. A plan to build a reception centre for returned migrants and refugees in Dikili is unpopular with locals. “We definitely don’t want a refugee camp in Dikili,” said the town’s mayor, Mustafa Tosun, according to the Associated Press. Demonstrators expressed concern over the impact the EU deal could have on the economy, tourism and security in their town.

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It’s illegal on many fronts.

EU-Turkey Refugee Plan Could Be Illegal, Says UN Official (G.)

The European Union’s plan to send refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war back to Turkey en masse could be illegal, a top UN official has warned, amid concerns that Greece lacks the infrastructure needed for the deal to take effect on Monday. Peter Sutherland, the UN secretary general’s special representative for international migration and development, said that deporting migrants and refugees without first considering their asylum applications would break international law. And, in light of claims by an NGO that Turkey had been pushing Syrians back over the border to their home country, he warned that none could be deported from Europe without guarantees that their rights would be protected. Sutherland spoke as Greece prepares to begin deporting migrants and refugees on Monday. Greek immigration officials have already warned they need more staff to implement the plan.

Asked during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether Europe’s scheme could be illegal, Sutherland replied: “Absolutely, and there are two fundamental reasons for this. “First of all, collective deportations without having regard to the individual rights of those who claim to be refugees are illegal. Now, we don’t know what is going to happen next week, but if there is any question of collective deportations without individuals being given the right to claim asylum that is illegal. “Secondly, their rights have to be absolutely protected where they are deported to, in other words Turkey. There has to be adequate assurances they can’t be sent back from Turkey to Syria, for example if they are Syrian refugees, or Afghanistan or wherever.”

European and Turkish leaders are set to implement a deal on Monday that will result in almost all asylum seekers being deported back to Turkey. In exchange for each person sent back, the EU has agreed to accept a refugee who has not tried to enter Europe illegally. But the success of the deal rests on both Greece’s ability to process thousands of people in a short space of time, and Turkey’s ability to prove itself a safe country for refugees. In theory, only those refugees who fail to claim asylum in Greece – usually because they are seeking to settle elsewhere in the EU – or whose claims are rejected will be deported. However, the most senior Greek asylum official, Maria Stavropoulou, on Friday told the Guardian she would need a 20-fold increase in personnel to handle expected claims.

However, unrest has already erupted among refugees and migrants in Greece who are anticipating the beginning of the deal. On the Greek island of Chios, hundreds of people ripped down a razor wire fence that had kept them imprisoned in a camp and fled. One told the BBC: “Deportation is a big mistake because we have risked a lot to come here especially during our crossing from Turkey to Greece. We were smuggled here from Turkey. We cannot go back. “We will repeat our trip again and again if need be because we are running away in order to save our lives.” Meanwhile, Amnesty International alleged that unaccompanied children were among hundreds of Syrians illegally expelled from Turkey since January. John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s Europe and central Asia director, said: “In their desperation to seal their borders, EU leaders have wilfully ignored the simplest of facts: Turkey is not a safe country for Syrian refugees and is getting less safe by the day.”

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This will not go well.

Greece On Brink Of Chaos As Refugees Riot Over Forced Return To Turkey (G.)

The Greek government is bracing itself for violence ahead of the European Union implementing a landmark deal that, from Monday, will see Syrian refugees and migrants being deported back to Turkey en masse. Rioting and rebellion by thousands of entrapped refugees across Greece has triggered mounting fears in Athens over the practicality of enforcing an agreement already marred by growing concerns over its legality. Islands have become flashpoints, with as many as 800 people breaking out of a detention centre on Chios on Friday. “We are expecting violence. People in despair tend to be violent,” the leftist-led government’s migration spokesman, Giorgos Kyritsis, told the Observer. “The whole philosophy of the deal is to deter human trafficking [into Europe] from the Turkish coast, but it is going to be difficult and we are trying to use a soft approach. These are people have fled war. They are not criminals.”

Barely 24 hours ahead of the pact coming into force, it emerged that Frontex, the EU border agency, had not dispatched the appropriate personnel to oversee the operation. Eight Frontex boats will transport men, women and children, who are detained on Greek islands and have been selected for deportation, back across the Aegean following fast-track asylum hearings. But of the 2,300 officials the EU has promised to send Greece only 200 have so far arrived, Kyritsis admitted. “We are still waiting for the legal experts and translators they said they would send,” he added. “Even Frontex personnel haven’t got here yet.” Humanitarian aid also earmarked for Greece had similarly been held up, with the result that the bankrupt country was managing the crisis – and continued refugee flows – on very limited funds from the state budget.

On Saturday overstretched resources were evident in the chaos on Chios where detainees, fearing imminent deportation, had not only run amok, breaking through razorwire enclosing a holding centre on the island, but in despair had marched on the town’s port. In the stampede three refugees were stabbed as riot police tried to control the crowds with stun guns and teargas. The camp, a former recycling factory, had been ransacked, with cabins and even fingerprint equipment smashed. “This is what happens when you have 30 policemen guarding 1,600 refugees determined to get out,” said Benjamin Julian, an Icelandic volunteer speaking from the island. “I witnessed it all and I know that all the time they were chanting ‘freedom, freedom, freedom’ and ‘no Torkia, no Torkia’. That is what they want and are determined to get.”

In the mayhem that had ensued, panic-stricken local authorities had been forced to divert the daily ferry connecting the island with the mainland for fear it would be stormed. Similar outbreaks of violence had also occurred in Piraeus, Athens’ port city, where eight young men had been taken to hospital after riots erupted between rival ethnic groups on Wednesday. With tensions on the rise in Lesbos, the Aegean island that has borne the brunt of the flows, and in Idomeni on the Greek-Macedonia frontier where around 11,000 have massed since the border’s closure, NGOs warned of a timebomb in the making. Hopes of numbers decreasing following the announcement of the EU-Turkey deal have been dispelled by a renewed surge in arrivals with the onset of spring.

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But who cares?

129 Unaccompanied Children Missing Since Calais Camp Demolition (Ind.)

More than a hundred unaccompanied children have gone missing since the southern section of the Calais “Jungle” was demolished last month. According to a census by Help Refugees UK, 129 unaccompanied minors from the camp have gone unaccounted for. The census found that since the demolition took place in March, 4,946 refugees are still living there, including 1,400 in the shipping containers set up by the French government. The refugee charity said it was “very concerned” at the findings. It wrote in a Facebook post: “This is simply not acceptable. We call on the French authorities to put systems in place immediately to register and safeguard the remaining 294 lone children in the camp.”

“No alternative accommodation was provided for unaccompanied minors during the evictions, no assessment was made by the French authorities of their needs and no systems put in place to monitor them or provide safeguarding. There is no official registration system for children in place In Calais or Dunkirk.” Help Refugees UK added it had shared this information with the UK children’s commissioner Anne Longfield and her French counterpart Genevieve Avenard. According to the EU police agency Europol, more than 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees have disappeared in Europe in the last two years. Aid workers are concerned at the deteriorating safety conditions and told The Independent teenage boys are being raped in the camp.

Libby Freeman, founder of grassroots campaign Calais Action, told The Independent the findings were “shocking”. Ms Freeman said: “Nobody knows where these vulnerable children have ended up. “Since the closure [and relocation] of the Women’s and Children’s centre, they have been uprooted. With so many children missing, it’s difficult not to think the worst. It’s more than irresponsible. “And many of the minors have a legal right to join their family in the UK. The government should stop [delaying] the law.”

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