Aug 052020
 


Workmen next to the screws of the RMS Titanic at Belfast shipyard, 1911

 

Victoria Records Australia’s Worst Day Of COVID19- 15 Deaths, 725 New Cases (G.)
Failing the Coronavirus-Testing Test (Harvard)
Big Pharma Giants GSK, Sanofi Get $2.1 Billion to Develop COVID Vaccine (MPN)
An Effective COVID Treatment the Media Continues to Besmirch (RCP)
Authors of Pro-HCQ Study Defend Their Work From Fauci Attack(BLP)
US Jobless Claims Rise To 1.43 Million, Crisis Total Tops 54 Million (NYP)
US Plans to Relocate Factories from Asia to Latin America (PPost)
New Guidelines Call For Fundamental Shift In Obesity Treatment (CTV)
Understanding The Gravity Of The Russia Hoax (Widburg)
Trump: DOJ Found ‘Breathtaking’ Evidence Of Wrongdoing In Russia Probe (JTN)
86% Of Americans Say Media Is Biased, To Blame For Political Division (Fed.)
Bias And Commercialism Is Killing MSM, Journalists Have Had Enough (RT)

 

 

Just the other day, I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown series he did for CNN, in which he visited Beirut and called it his favorite city in the world, one which he kept coming back to whenever he could. Maybe it’s good that he can’t see anymore what happened yesterday.

 

 

Numbers look somewhat mixed. New cases are not too bad, but deaths up are sharply, let’s hope that’s because they weren’t reported over the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yaneer

 

 

Australia was doing fine. It no longer is.

Victoria Records Australia’s Worst Day Of COVID19- 15 Deaths, 725 New Cases (G.)

Wednesday marked Victoria’s most devastating day of Covid-19 cases and deaths, with a man in his 30s among 15 people who died overnight including many from aged care, and 725 new cases of the virus identified. Three men and a woman in their 70s, three women and a man in their 80s, and a woman in her 90s were among the deaths. Twelve deaths were linked to outbreaks in aged care. There are 538 Victorians in hospital, 42 of them in intensive care. The premier, Daniel Andrews, confirmed the man in his 30s – who is the youngest person to die from Covid-19 in Australia – was not a healthcare worker. There are currently more than 700 health workers with active cases of the virus. He said he could not provide further details about those who died without permission from families.


“Can I send my heartfelt condolences and sympathies to each of those families,” Andrews said on Wednesday. “This will be a terrible time and any and all support we can provide to you we will, and we are with you in this very difficult time.” The deputy chief health officer, Prof Allen Cheng, said when there was an outbreak in aged care, an assessment was made as to whether residents would be better off in hospital or aged care. But sending many patients to hospital could not continue indefinitely because “everything has a limit”. “The number of people in hospital has increased primarily but not only because of transfers from aged care and a lot of those transfers are not for clinical [reasons], not because they’re sick but because of infection control reasons,” Cheng said.

Read more …

Everyone tested everyday with a non-invasive less-sensitive testing method.

Failing the Coronavirus-Testing Test (Harvard)

At the moment, the United States has no semblance of public-health testing” for the coronavirus, says Michael Mina, an assistant professor of epidemiology at both Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. What does Mina—an expert in viral testing protocols—mean by that? Current tests for active infection with SARS-CoV-2 are highly sensitive—but most are given to suspected COVID-19 patients long after the infected person has stopped transmitting the virus to others. That means the results are virtually useless for public-health efforts to contain the raging pandemic. These PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, which amplify viral RNA to detectable levels, are used by physicians, often in hospital settings, to help guide clinical care for individual patients. In general, members of the public have not had access to such tests outside clinical settings, but even if they did, would find them too expensive for frequent use.

Furthermore, such tests detect tiny fragments of viral RNA even after the patient has recovered. Mina says that means “the vast majority of PCR positive tests we currently collect in this country are actually finding people long after they have ceased to be infectious.” In that sense, a positive result can be misleading, because the results can’t be relied on to guide the epidemiological efforts of public-health officials, which are focused on preventing transmission and controlling outbreaks: “The astounding realization is that all we’re doing with all of this testing is clogging up the testing infrastructure,” with results arriving a week or more after tests are administered, “and essentially finding people for whom we can’t even act because they are done transmitting.” In fact the testing backlog is so dire, and so “absolutely horrendously useless as system for public-health surveillance” that Mina believes the United States should at the very least throw away the millions and millions of samples that are waiting to be tested—and perhaps even halt the current testing regime and just start over.

“We need to change the whole script of what it means to test people,” he says. “In our country, we have always assumed that testing belongs in the clinical sphere, in the diagnostic sphere, and has to be run by laboratories or diagnosticians. The result is that we have a system for coronavirus testing…which is flailing, with raging outbreaks occurring.” What the country needs instead are rapid tests, widely deployed, so that infectious individuals can be readily self-identified and isolated, breaking the chain of transmission. To do that, Mina says, everyone must be tested, every couple of days, with $1, paper-based, at-home tests that are as easy to distribute and use as a pregnancy test: wake up in the morning, add saliva or nasal mucous to a tube of chemicals, wait 15 minutes, then dip a paper strip in the tube, and read the results.

Such tests are feasible—a tiny company called E25Bio, and another called Sherlock Biosciences (a startup spun out of Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Broad Institute in 2019) can deliver such tests—but the they have not made it to the marketplace because their sensitivity is being compared to that of PCR. But Mina says that is beside the point. “Imagine you are a fire department,” he says, “and you want to make sure that you catch all the fires that are burning so you can put them out. You don’t want a test that’s going to detect every time somebody lights a match in their house—that would be crazy: you’d be driving everywhere and having absolutely no effect. You want a test that can detect every time somebody is walking the streets with a flame thrower.”

FOR PUBLIC-HEALTH PURPOSES, speed and frequency of testing are vastly more important than sensitivity: the best test would actually be less sensitive than a PCR test. As Mina explains, when a person first becomes infected, there will be an incubation period when no test will reveal the infection, because the viral loads are so low. About “three to five days later, the PCR test will turn positive, and once that happens the virus is reproducing exponentially in a very predictable fashion.” At that point, critically, “even if a rapid test is 1,000 times less sensitive than a PCR test,” Mina says, the virus is increasing so rapidly that the test “will probably turn positive within eight to 15 or 24 hours.

Read more …

First, you pay for the research; then you play for the product.

Big Pharma Giants GSK, Sanofi Get $2.1 Billion to Develop COVID Vaccine (MPN)

The Trump administration’s “Manhattan project” for a COVID-19 vaccine has topped its biggest award given only two weeks ago to Novavax, Inc with its latest grant of $2.1 billion to pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline, and partner Sanofi Pasteur to “speed up clinical development and manufacturing” of its recombinant vaccine candidate for the novel coronavirus. The deal clocks in at over $400 million more than the program’s previous investment of $1.6 billion earlier this month. Most of the GSK/Sanofi grant will be used for clinical trials and the rest to “scale-up and delivery” of 100 million vaccine doses destined for the U.S. population. The deal also offers the USG an option to buy a “supply of 500 million doses over the long term.”

This latest infusion of tax-payer money into Big Pharma’s hands by the Trump administration comes on the heels of the rumored failure of an early vaccine candidate. Moderna’s SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 vaccine has received nearly a billion in federal funds, but recent reports of the company’s CMO, Tal Zaks, selling almost all of his shares as the vaccine is set to begin late-stage trials have sparked speculation that the “pre-fusion stabilized Spike protein” vaccine is dead in the water. Neither Novavax or Moderna, however, have ever had a single product go to market despite years in the business. GSK and Sanofi, in contrast, have plenty. Sanofi produces an FDA-approved flu shot and GSK, producer of some of the most recognizable pharmaceutical brand names like Binaca and Paxil, also produced a flu vaccine for the H1N1 “bird flu” called Pandermix.

Nevertheless, the fact that these large pharmaceutical firms have had some market success doesn’t necessarily mean anything in terms of the safety of their vaccines. GSK’s Pandermix turned out to induce narcolepsy and after studies confirmed the association between the drug and the chronic sleeping disorder, it has not been used since.

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Sometimes I feel like an HCQ advocate. But I really only thought it was crazy to label it lethal after 200 million people had been given chloroquine over 65 years without even a hint of mortality risks.

An Effective COVID Treatment the Media Continues to Besmirch (RCP)

On Friday, July 31, in a column ostensibly dealing with health care “misinformation,” Washington Post media critic Margaret Sullivan opened by lambasting “fringe doctors spouting dangerous falsehoods about hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 wonder cure.” Actually, it was Sullivan who was spouting dangerous falsehoods about this drug, something the Washington Post and much of the rest of the media have been doing for months. On May 15, the Post offered a stark warning to any Americans who may have taken hope in a possible therapy for COVID-19. In the newspaper’s telling, there was nothing unambiguous about the science — or the politics — of hydroxychloroquine: “Drug promoted by Trump as coronavirus game-changer increasingly linked to deaths,” blared the headline.

Written by three Post staff writers, the story asserted that the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19 is scant and that the drug is inherently unsafe. This claim is nonsense. Biased against the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 — and the Washington Post is hardly alone — the paper described an April 21, 2020, drug study on U.S. Veterans Affairs patients hospitalized with the illness. It found a high death rate in patients taking the drug hydroxychloroquine. But this was a flawed study with a small sample, the main flaw being that the drug was given to the sickest patients who were already dying because of their age and severe pre-existing conditions. This study was quickly debunked. It had been posted on a non-peer-reviewed medical archive that specifically warns that studies posted on its website should not be reported in the media as established information.

Yet, the Post and countless other news outlets did just the opposite, making repeated claims that hydroxychloroquine was ineffective and caused serious cardiac problems. Nowhere was there any mention of the fact that COVID-19 damages the heart during infection, sometimes causing irregular and sometimes fatal heart rhythms in patients not taking the drug. To a media unrelentingly hostile to Donald Trump, this meant that the president could be portrayed as recklessly promoting the use of a “dangerous” drug. Ignoring the refutation of the VA study in its May 15 article, the Washington Post cited a Brazil study published on April 24 in which a COVID trial using chloroquine (a related but different drug than hydroxychloroquine) was stopped because 11 patients treated with it died. The reporters never mentioned another problem with that study: The Brazilian doctors were giving their patients lethal cumulative doses of the drug.

Read more …

Time to lose Fauci. But he’ll stay.

Authors of Pro-HCQ Study Defend Their Work From Fauci Attack(BLP)

The doctors responsible for a controversial pro-hydroxychloroquine study are defending their work after it was attacked by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Dr. Anthony Fauci at a recent Congressional hearing. Drs. Adnan Munkarah and Steven Kalkanis wrote in an open letter that “a whole scientific field exists in which scientists examine how a drug is working in the real world to get as best an answer as they can as soon as possible,” which Dr. Fauci did not acknowledge in his complete dismissal of their work. Munkarah works as the chief clinical officer of the Henry Ford Health System while Kalkanis works as the chief academic officer for the system. They are standing by their findings and refusing to buckle under the political pressure.

“Our promising Henry Ford treatment study should be considered as another important contribution to the other studies of hydroxychloroquine that describes what the authors found in our patient population,” Munkarah and Kalkanis wrote. “We — along with all doctors and scientists — eagerly support the need for randomized clinical trials.” “Unfortunately, the political climate that has persisted has made any objective discussion about this drug impossible, and we are deeply saddened by this turn of events,” they wrote, noting they they believe that the science should “speak for itself.” “To that end, we have made the heartfelt decision to have no further comment about this outside the medical community,” the doctors said.

Munkarah and Kalkanis call for more research to take place but believe that their findings could save lives and should not be discounted. “As an early hot spot for the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen and lived its devastating effects alongside our patients and families,” Munkarah and Kalkanis wrote. “Furthermore, it is not unusual that results from such studies vary in different populations and at different times, and no one study can ever be considered all by itself,” they added. Big League Politics reported on how Dr. Fauci disregarded the Henry Ford Health System study, which appeared in a scholarly journal, because it wasn’t approved by the federal Big Pharma cartel. “We know from another study (corticosteroids) gives benefit in reducing deaths with advanced disease,” Fauci said during a House subcommittee hearing on Friday.

Read more …

It’s going to take a long time. Meanwhile, the economy must keep going. Nobody has a plan for that other than return to a time we can’t go back to.

US Jobless Claims Rise To 1.43 Million, Crisis Total Tops 54 Million (NYP)

Some 1.43 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, pushing the number of initial jobless claims filed during the coronavirus pandemic above 54 million, new data show. Last week marked the second consecutive week with an increase in new jobless filings, a further indication that the economic recovery from the pandemic is faltering. “Jobs are a key part to this recovery and this shows yet again how bumpy the recovery is going to be,” said Ryan Detrick, chief investment strategist at LPL Financial. The uptick came as surging coronavirus infections forced some states to renew lockdowns that led to massive layoffs in March and April, raising questions about how quickly the labor market can rebound from its worst collapse in a century.

New jobless claims have now remained above 1 million for 19 consecutive weeks, a level that would have been unprecedented before the pandemic caused a record spike in unemployment as government lockdown orders shuttered restaurants, theaters, hotels, and even some offices. At 54 million, the number of people who have filed for unemployment claims during the course of the pandemic is now greater than the population of South Korea, which boasts 51 million people — and has long since surpassed the 37 million jobs lost over 18 months during the Great Recession.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that Wal-Mart has laid off hundreds of workers in store planning, logistics, merchandising and real estate as part of a larger consolidation effort, while Reuters said Exxon Mobil Corp is gearing up for job cuts to preserve an 8-percent shareholder dividend in the face of a multi-billion-dollar quarterly loss to be reported Friday. Continuing claims, which measure sustained joblessness on a one-week lag, also climbed to about 17 million in the week ending July 18 after falling by more than 1 million the prior week, the US Department of Labor said.

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American jobs?!

US Plans to Relocate Factories from Asia to Latin America (PPost)

The campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” could soon go beyond the borders of the United States. The Trump administration has announced that it is preparing a financial incentive plan to encourage U.S. companies with factories in Asia to return to the Americas, including Latin America and the Caribbean. “We are essentially creating a ‘Back to the Americas’ initiative,” said Mauricio Claver-Carone, the White House national security advisor for Latin America and an aspiring president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).


This project could generate investments ranging from 30 to 50 billion USD across the continent. Although Claver-Carone did not name any particular company, he said that talks had already begun, but the pandemic helped convince them that it was time to get on board. Infrastructure, energy, and transport could be the first potential focus areas for this initiative. In this way, the United States seeks to gain ground in Latin America, where China has been positioning itself since 2015 with large investments and loans of over 40 billion USD, according to the Inter-American Dialogue.

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Oh c’mon, weight loss pills… Start by banning high fructose corn syrup from your country. Then we can talk.

New Guidelines Call For Fundamental Shift In Obesity Treatment (CTV)

A new guideline to treat obesity in Canada recommends a fundamental shift in how doctors and physicians address people living with the condition. The new guideline, published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and in partnership with Obesity Canada, suggests doctors begin focusing on goals that patients consider to be important, rather than focusing on weight loss alone, while also shifting away from the “diet and exercise” weight loss model to instead address the root causes of someone’s excessive weight. “We’re no longer going to be focusing on speaking about calories when we talk about decreasing weight,” Dr. Sean Wharton, co-lead author of the guideline and adjunct professor at McMaster University, said in an phone interview with CTVNews.ca.

“We’re going to more so focus on healthy eating, something we call medical nutrition therapy.” Wharton said simply cutting calories and increasing exercise is not a sustainable way to lose weight and can ultimately lead to the patient regaining the weight. “We know that willpower and motivation will allow for a dietary plan that lasts for a short period of time and then our body compensates and regains the weight,” he said. “Any time we look at lowering calories, we always activate a very strong biological compensatory mechanism, which is why we are doing our best to deemphasize diet.” In the past 30 years, the rate of obesity in Canada has tripled, while the rate of severe obesity has increased tothe point that it includes more than 1.9 million Canadians today.

When it comes to treating obesity, the new guidelines suggest expanding the options to include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), weight loss medication and bariatric surgery, depending on the each patient’s individual needs. Wharton calls these the “three pillars” of effective long-term weight loss. “Most people understand diet and exercise,” he said. “They don’t understand that the pillars that are necessary to keep the diet and the exercise going.” Cognitive therapy, Wharton said, is essentially teaching the patient to be more cognisant of what they’re eating, especially when it comes to snacking on impulse. One strategy is to wait five minutes before eating a desired snack, to make sure you still want it. “Some people can do that skill without even being taught that skill, but the majority of people have to be taught those skills and that’s where CBT treatment and psychological intervention is coming from,” Wharton said.

Read more …

How can people understand when their media completely ignores the story?

Understanding The Gravity Of The Russia Hoax (Widburg)

One of the claims Democrats love to tout about the Obama administration is that it was “scandal free.” For those who paid attention to the IRS targeting, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, and the cash smuggled to Iran, to name just a few illegal and/or immoral activities, that was always a peculiar boast. The Obama administration was up to its eyeballs in scandals. It was Obama who finally said what had really happened, which was that “We didn’t have a scandal that embarrassed us.” In other words, the issue wasn’t that the administration was scandal-free. The issue was that the media protected the administration from voters’ wrath should they learn about those scandals.

The Russia Hoax has benefitted from the media’s continued unwillingness to report on Obama-era scandals. When it looked as if the Russia Hoax could achieve a coup against the Trump presidency, members of the press developed a form of Tourette syndrome that saw them obsessively mouth “Russia, Russia, Russia” all day, every day. However, when Robert Mueller’s handpicked Democrat-friendly team, despite two years and 35 million dollars, was unable to find a smidgen of proof that Trump or his administration had colluded with the Russians, leftists inside and outside of the media fell silent. Sure, they’ll still raise the fact that Trump, at a press conference, said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] emails that are missing,” but their hearts aren’t in it.

They know that normal people understand that Trump was making a pointed joke about the fact that the Russians, the Chinese, and every other hacker on earth had read through Hillary’s emails for years. Aside from leftists being utterly humorless, the media learned that raising this statement periodically was chum to the true believers but not very interesting to anyone else. When it came to burying the whole Russia Hoax, the Democrats and their media lackeys were helped by the fact that the story is so gosh-darned complicated. It involved dozens of people (some genuinely bad actors and some useful idiots), several countries, thousands of pages of cryptic papers, and a dizzying timeline. It’s hard to get people who aren’t political junkies excited about something like that, and even harder to arouse them to a sense of outrage over what the Obama administration did.

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It’ll be discarded by the media, if they even mention it, as politically driven.

Trump: DOJ Found ‘Breathtaking’ Evidence Of Wrongdoing In Russia Probe (JTN)

President Trump said Tuesday night that he believes the Justice Department has uncovered “breathtaking” evidence of misconduct during its investigation of the bungled Russia collusion probe, and he expect results to be released soon. “I caught them, we caught them spying, using the intelligence apparatus of our country to spy on an opponent or an opposing party’s campaign both before and after the election,” Trump said when asked during an interview with Fox Business host Lou Dobbs what he expects U.S. Attorney John Durham to have found during his investigation. Attorney General William Barr named Durham, a prosecutor from Connecticut, to be special prosecutor for reviewing the FBI and DOJ’s conduct in the Russia collusion fiasco.


Trump said he didn’t want to “get overly involved” in the Durham review but expects a dramatic conclusion to the investigation of the investigators. “I do hear it is breathtaking what they found. That’s all I can say, breathtaking. And hopefully it will come out soon. But it is beyond what anybody ever thought even possible,” the president said. Trump also addressed the state of relations with China since the coronavirus pandemic struck, saying Beijing’s failure to stop the virus before it reached U.S. shores has had “a negative impact.” “Well, it’s been very badly hurt by what happened because I really believed they could have stopped it in Wuhan,” the president said. “…It’s been such a horrible thing.”

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They understand. But then where do they get their news?

86% Of Americans Say Media Is Biased, To Blame For Political Division (Fed.)

Eighty-six percent of Americans believe there is “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of political bias in the way the media covers news, according to a Knight Foundation/Gallup poll released on Tuesday. The number of Americans that see bias in the media is up almost 25 percentage points from 62 percent in 2007. Almost half of Americans — 49 percent — now say there’s a great deal of political bias in news coverage. While Republicans are more likely to say there’s a “great deal” of bias and Democrats more often said there was a “fair amount,” large majorities of both political parties believed that some bias existed: 78 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Republicans.


These numbers were collected from polling of more than 20,000 Americans between November and February, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the death of George Floyd, and the resulting media coverage of both events. Not only do most Americans recognize media bias, they also believe it’s intentional. When asked about their views of news organizations they distrust, 79 percent of poll respondents said those outlets were “trying to persuade people to adopt a certain viewpoint.” When news is inaccurate, 54 percent of Americans think it’s because reporters are “misrepresenting the facts,” while 28 percent assume they’re “making them up entirely.” And more than 8 in 10 Americans — 84 percent — assign the media either a great deal (48 percent) or a moderate amount (36 percent) of blame for political division.

Read more …

Everything has turned into clickbait.

Bias And Commercialism Is Killing MSM, Journalists Have Had Enough (RT)

An MSNBC producer has quit the network, lamenting an editorial process that chases approval and ratings rather than presenting facts. When even employees label the MSM as a “cancer with no cure”, we should all be concerned. If you were to ask your mother who Ariana Pekary is, more than likely she’s not going to know unless she’s already met her. That’s because Ariana was a producer at MSNBC. Although she wasn’t someone who’d be in front of the camera, she is definitely someone who’s an expert on what goes on behind it. But now she’s left the TV network and, on her exit, wrote an extremely scathing letter about the nature of its programming. Although she described her colleagues as intelligent people with good intentions, she lamented the way the news has gone, blaming an overemphasis on the chase for ratings as opposed to straight reporting.

Specifically, she stated that it “forces skilled journalists to make bad decisions on a daily basis.” And she went so far as to reference an unnamed colleague who described what they were doing as “a cancer with no cure”. Pekary also admitted that fringe voices are constantly given airtime because it boosts those ratings, even if those guests’ views are divisive and offer little in the way of solutions. And we’ve recently seen two other major figures cite similar problems within the news industry. On leaving the New York Times, Bari Weiss described a hostile work environment in which her colleagues would much rather ‘cancel’ her than allow her to express a different opinion. She even made the extraordinary claim that Twitter has become “the ultimate editor” of the New York Times. This would explain why so much of the Times’ content seems to cater for Twitter’s woke extremists.

Andrew Sullivan, formerly of New York Magazine, had a similar lament. He spoke of his endless frustration at the lack of diversity of thought: “If the mainstream media will not host a diversity of opinion, or puts the ‘moral clarity’ of some self-appointed saints before the goal of objectivity in reporting, if it treats writers as mere avatars for their race and gender or gender identity, rather than as unique individuals whose identity is largely irrelevant, then the non-mainstream needs to pick up the slack.”

Read more …

 

 

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Beirut

 

 

Sarah Abdallah – Beirut

 

 

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Aug 012020
 


Inge Morath Street Corner at World’s End London 1954

 

100s Of Georgia Campers Infected With Corona At YMCA Camp In Days – CDC (WSB)
College Students Who Get Tested Every Two Days Can Return To Campus Safely (F.)
Visiting People At Home Banned In Parts Of Northern England (BBC)
Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Pandemic (Sav)
Trump Says Will Ban TikTok Through Executive Action As Soon As Saturday (CNBC)
US Dollar Net Shorts Soar To Highest In Nine Years (R.)
Eurozone Economy Records Its Deepest Contraction On Record In Q2 (R.)
The End of Housing as We Know It (TNR)
Judge Rips Into Ghislaine Maxwell As Sealed Documents Begin To Emerge (McC)
US Appeals Court Delays Release Of Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition (R.)
UK Government Refuses To Release Information About Assange Judge (DecUK)
When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Get Punked (Kunstler)
The Triumph Of Small People In An Era Of Great Events (Turley)
Susan Rice’s Testimony on Being Out of Russiagate Loop Doesn’t Add Up (RCI)

 

 

WHO posted a new record, Worldometer is 195 cases short. Numbers remain stubbornly high. US deaths at 1462 vs two consecutive days of 1465. No progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taleb WHO 1

Taleb 2

 

 

“We’ve confirmed YMCA Camp High Harbor is the un-named camp in new @CDCgov camp outbreak investigation. 51% of campers ages 6-10 contracted COVID19.”

100s Of Georgia Campers Infected With Corona At YMCA Camp In Days – CDC (WSB)

A CDC report released Friday reveals that hundreds of campers at a north Georgia YMCA camp were infected with coronavirus in just days before the camp was shut down. Channel 2 Action News has confirmed that the report documents COVID-19 cases at the YMCA’s Camp High Harbor on Lake Burton in Rabun County. According to the report, of the 597 residents who attended the camp, 344 were tested and 260 tested positive for the virus. The camp was only open for four days before being shut down because of the virus, and officials followed all recommended safety protocols. In total, the virus attacked 44% of the children, staff members and trainees who attended the camp.

The CDC said that what happened at High Harbor shows that earlier thinking that children might not be as susceptible to COVID-19 is wrong. According to the report, the age group with the most positive coronavirus tests was 6 – 10 years old. Under Gov. Kemp’s executive orders, overnight summer camps in Georgia were allowed to open on May 31. All campers and staff members had to test negative for the coronavirus before attending. Channel 2 Action News first reported on June 24 that a teenage counselor at the camp tested positive for the virus. Camp officials started sending campers home on June 24 and shut the camp down on June 27. Camp Harbour’s second location at Lake Allatoona in Bartow County was also closed.

“The counselor… passed the mandated safety protocols and screening, inclusive of providing a negative COVID-19 test, before arriving at camp and did not exhibit any symptoms upon arrival,” officials said. “In fact, all counselors and campers attending passed all mandatory screenings.” The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) was notified and initiated an investigation. DPH recommended that all attendees be tested and self-quarantine, and isolate if they had a positive test result. By July 10, 85 campers and staff members had tested positive. “These findings demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 spread efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups, despite efforts by camp officials to implement most recommended strategies to prevent transmission,” the report said.

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Until the first one comes in infected.

College Students Who Get Tested Every Two Days Can Return To Campus Safely (F.)

A study published today says that college students living on campus can be kept safe from contracting the coronavirus if they are tested every two days for Covid-19. The study pegs the cost at $470 per student per semester. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Open Network, the study was authored by researchers from the Yale School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. One interesting finding: Even when tests aren’t 100% accurate, if they are given with the study’s recommended frequency, they ensure a safe environment for students. The researchers used a computer simulation where they took a hypothetical pool of 4,990 healthy students and exposed them to 10 students infected with the virus.

They assumed that students would be on campus for an abbreviated 80-day semester, which is the plan at many schools that have said they are reopening campuses. The study also said students who test positive should quarantine in an isolated setting. The model assumed that students would strictly follow safety precautions like frequent handwashing, wearing masks indoors, “limited bathroom sharing with frequent cleaning, dedensifying campuses and classrooms and other best practices.” But the study’s lead author, A. David Paltiel, a professor at Yale’s school of public health, says he and his team also took into account the fact that students would occasionally deviate from safety protocols. “Colleges aren’t going to be able to create a hermetically sealed, walled garden,” he says.

“We assumed that once in a while students would go to a face-to-face party or a dining hall worker who traveled on the subway would come into contact with a student or somebody would cough on a student.” Even with occasional exposure, getting a rapid-response test every two days would make it safe for students to live on campus, he says. In the Boston area, inexpensive, quick-turnaround nasal swab tests are being made available from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The tests will be provided at cost, for $25-$30 each. Schools will administer the tests and the institute will process them within 24 hours.

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But they can meet up in the pub?!

Visiting People At Home Banned In Parts Of Northern England (BBC)

Millions of people in parts of northern England are now facing new restrictions, banning separate households from meeting each other at home after a spike in Covid-19 cases. The rules impact people in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire. The health secretary told the BBC the increase in transmission was due to people visiting friends and relatives. Labour criticised the timing of the announcement – late on Thursday night. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast the government had taken “targeted” action based on information gathered from contact tracing, which he said showed that “most of the transmission is happening between households visiting each other, and people visiting relatives and friends”.


The new lockdown rules, which came into force at midnight, mean people from different households will not be allowed to meet in homes or private gardens. They also ban members of two different households from mixing in pubs and restaurants, although individual households will still be able to visit such hospitality venues. The changes come as Muslim communities prepare to celebrate Eid this weekend, and nearly four weeks after restrictions were eased across England – allowing people to meet indoors for the first time since late March. The same restrictions will apply in Leicester, where a local lockdown has been in place for the last month. However, pubs, restaurants and other facilities will be allowed to reopen in the city from Monday, as some of the stricter measures are lifted.

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Simple is elegant.

Podcast: https://www.econtalk.org/nassim-nicholas-taleb-on-the-pandemic/

Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Pandemic (Sav)

On Societal Risk There’s a big difference between risks that simply lead to different outcomes and risks of ruin, particularly on the systemic level. We should be worrying about multiplicative risks — such as pandemics. On the other hand, car accidents are not a societal risk of ruin, as car accidents don’t lead to other car accidents. If you found out that 1 billion people died in a single year, and didn’t know how, your guess wouldn’t be car accidents. It would be something fat-tailed like nuclear war or pandemics. It’s worthwhile figuring out what the systemic risks that we should be avoiding are — it liberates us and allows us to take lots of risks elsewhere.

On Personal Risk If you don’t behave conservatively, you’ll increase collective risk dramatically because risk due to pandemics doesn’t scale linearly. You wear a mask more for the systemic effect, not to mitigate personal risk. Prudence on the individual level may seem like ‘overreacting’, and it would be ‘rational’ not to overreact. However, it’s important to note that rationality doesn’t scale; what’s rational for the collective may seem irrational for you personally. People doing the right thing will look irrational.

How to Deal With Pandemics Any infectious disease with over 1000 deaths can be considered a pandemic. If the count is below that, you don’t have to worry about it. If above, it means you’re dealing with a fat-tailed event. Treat all pandemics the same way — the moment they kill 1000, take measures. The most effective way to prevent pandemics is to do systemic quarantine. Follow a protocol and don’t take chances — it was foolish to quarantine people only coming from China, as the virus could have came from anywhere (and it did). Reduce connectivity. Close borders. You don’t need cases at 0, just make sure that the cases don’t overwhelm your system. Identify superspreaders. Subways, elevators, big gatherings, things like that. Do this for all pandemics, no matter how impactful, until we figure out the specific properties of the one we’re dealing with.

Absence of Evidence ≠ Evidence of Absence For example, if you have no evidence of cases, it doesn’t mean you have no cases. Or if you have no evidence that masks work, it doesn’t mean that masks don’t work. Err on the side of prudence when dealing with risks of ruin. “If you don’t know if masks work, wear them.”

The central idea of the Incerto is: when you have uncertainty in a system, it makes your decision making much much easier rather than harder. “If I tell you that I’m not certain about the quality of this water, would you drink it?” “If I tell you that we have uncertainty about the pilot’s skills — he could be excellent, but we’re not sure — would you get on the plane?”

The WHO Initially, WHO, CDC, and others said not to wear masks. The WHO made two mistakes. First, they didn’t realize scaling: if the probability of infection is p, if both people wear masks it becomes p squared. For example, if p=0.50, both people wearing a mask would lower p to 0.25. Second mistake: if I reduce the viral load by half, I don’t decrease probability of infection by half — I may decrease it by 99%. That’s because the probability of infection is nonlinear — it’s an S-curve. In addition, they lied because they were worried about a mask shortage. People’s instincts were much better than what the WHO, CDC, etc advised. “All of these people are completely incompetent when it comes to basic things that your grandmother gets.” Have the WHO removed — it’s a bureaucratic organization that has been harmful to mankind by telling people not to wear masks.

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Good thing for him that schoolgirls don’t vote.

Trump Says Will Ban TikTok Through Executive Action As Soon As Saturday (CNBC)

President Donald Trump on Friday told reporters he will act as soon as Saturday to ban Chinese-owned video app TikTok from the United States, NBC News reported. Trump made the comments while chatting with reporters on Air Force One during the flight back to Washington from Florida. “As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said, calling the action a “severance.” Trump did not specify whether he will act through an executive order, or another method. such as a designation, according to NBC News. “Well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that,” Trump said.


Trump’s comments come as it was reported Friday that Microsoft has held talks to buy the TikTok video-sharing mobile app from Chinese owner ByteDance, one person close to the situation told CNBC. This person characterized the talks as having been underway for some time, rather than being brand new. Trump told reporters that he didn’t support the reported spinoff deal involving Microsoft buying TikTok, NBC News reported. A TikTok acquisition could make Microsoft, a major provider of business software, more concentrated on consumer technology, which Microsoft has moved away from somewhat in recent years, by exiting the smartphone hardware, fitness hardware and e-book markets.

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The casino is open and the house always wins.

US Dollar Net Shorts Soar To Highest In Nine Years (R.)

Speculators’ net short U.S. dollar positioning soared to the highest level since August 2011, according to calculations by Reuters and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday. The position hit $24.27 billion in the week ended July 28, up from $18.81 billion the prior period. U.S. net shorts rose for a fourth straight week as bets against the greenback have persisted since mid-March. U.S. dollar positioning was derived from net contracts of International Monetary Market speculators in the Japanese yen, euro, British pound, Swiss franc as well as the Canadian and Australian dollars. In a wider measure of dollar positioning that includes net contracts on the New Zealand dollar, Mexican peso, Brazilian real, and Russian ruble, the U.S. dollar posted a net short position of $24.53 billion, compared with net shorts of $19.37 billion the week before.


This week’s net short position was largest since April 2018, according to Reuters data. In contrast, net euro longs hit a record high, CFTC data showed. Net euro longs were 157,559 contracts this week. The greenback has struggled over the last few months, driven by factors including near-zero interest rates as well as Federal Reserve measures that flooded the international market with dollars via swap lines. The buck was down about 10% from the year’s high hit in March against a basket of currencies. On Friday the dollar fell to its lowest in more than two years. “The combination of falling real rates and rising risk assets has been a dominating force across markets over the past few months, which has likely contributed to the dollar sell-off over the same period,” said Goldman Sachs in a research note on Friday.

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And with the euro surging vs the USD, the EU economy is crashing.

Forget about the inflation talk, velocity of money is in the gutter. Sure some prices may rise for a bit, everyone’s trying to stay alive. But who has the money left to afford the higher prices? Or better yet: who will by Christmas?

Eurozone Economy Records Its Deepest Contraction On Record In Q2 (R.)

The euro zone’s economy recorded its deepest contraction on record in the second quarter, preliminary estimates showed on Friday, while the bloc’s inflation unexpectedly ticked up in July. In the months from April to June, gross domestic product in the 19-country currency bloc shrank by 12.1% from the previous quarter, the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said in its flash estimates. The deepest GDP fall since the time series started in 1995 coincided with coronavirus lockdowns which many euro zone countries began to ease only from May. The contraction was slightly more pronounced than market expectations of a 12.0% fall, and followed the 3.6% GDP drop recorded in the first quarter of the year.

Among the countries for which data were available, Spain posted the worst output slump, with its economy shrinking by 18.5% quarter-on-quarter, worse than expected and wiping out all the post-financial crisis recovery of the last six years. GDP in Italy and France also fell sharply but less than forecast, respectively by 12.4% and 13.8%. Germany, the largest economy in the bloc, saw a 10.1% contraction in the second quarter, worse than expectations of a 9.0% slump. Inflation continued instead its upward trend, defying expectations of a slowdown, supporting the European Central Bank’s expectation that a negative headline reading may be avoided. Eurostat said consumer prices in the bloc rose 0.4% on an annual basis in July from 0.3% in June and 0.1% in May. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a 0.2% increase in July.

Underlying price pressure also accelerated. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, a key measure watched by the ECB, inflation rose by 1.3% from 1.1% in June, Eurostat’s flash estimates showed. An even narrower gauge, which also excludes alcohol and tobacco, jumped to 1.2% from 0.8% in June. The acceleration in headline inflation was driven by higher prices of industrial goods which rose by 1.7% after a 0.2% increase in June. Food, alcohol and tobacco prices went up by 2.0% on the year, but slowed from the 3.2% rise recorded in June. Energy prices fell by 8.3% in July, after plunging 9.3% in June.

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The bottom is falling out.

The End of Housing as We Know It (TNR)

In 2018, 44 percent of New York renter households paid at least 30 percent of their incomes on rent. Half of those were severely rent-burdened, spending more than half of their incomes on housing. Relief is also hard to come by: For a family of three earning less than $30,720 a year—a household that would be classified by the city as “extremely low income”—there are 650 applications for each apartment in the affordable housing lottery. This was before the pandemic. In the months since, an untold number of New York’s working-class immigrants have lost their jobs, with some social service organizations in the city reporting that upward of 90 percent of their immigrant clients are out of work, according to a study by the Center for an Urban Future.

The city comptroller’s office found that 900,000 fewer New Yorkers reported working in May than in February, with job losses mostly concentrated among people of color and young people. Now, with temporary protective measures like rent moratoriums lasting only through the end of the pandemic and enhanced unemployment benefits set to expire (and with millions of undocumented immigrants shut out of many of those protections in the first place), New York City is on the brink of a new phase of its long-festering housing crisis. “They do not have to worry about what we have been through,” Ramirez, who has been on rent strike with other tenants in her building since March, said of the big landlords who own buildings like hers. “They do not worry about what their children are going to eat, what they are going to do, what is going to happen with that.”

[..] A recent report by Americans for Tax Fairness shows that the wealth of New York’s billionaires increased by $77 billion from March to June. Juxtapose that obscene accumulation of wealth to the $9 billion deficit New York City is facing for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Despite this, Governor Andrew Cuomo balked at calls to tax the wealthy to fill the shortfall that might result in cutbacks to vital services and, after public pressure, offered a mere $100 million in relief through the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal. And instead of providing support for renters, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio approved a budget that cuts investment in affordable housing by 40 percent.

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Nice set of names. Let the denials emerge.

Judge Rips Into Ghislaine Maxwell As Sealed Documents Begin To Emerge (McC)

A much-anticipated batch of newly unsealed documents from a settled defamation suit began trickling out Thursday night over the objections of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of sex trafficking and alleged to be the madam of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. In a 2015 e-mail Epstein advised Maxwell to return to the high-society world the two had inhabited without any shame. “You have done nothing wrong and i would urge you to start acting like it,” Epstein wrote. “[G]o outside, head high, not as an escaping convict. go to parties. deal with it.” Maxwell, awaiting trial in a federal prosecution, had delayed the planned release of the documents from a 2015 civil suit by filing objections at the last minute, provoking the ire of U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska. The judge ruled last week that the documents should be unsealed.

“The Court is troubled — but not surprised — that Ms. Maxwell has yet again sought to muddy the water as the clock clicks closer to midnight,” Preska wrote in a filing denying a request from Maxwell’s lawyers for an emergency phone conference. They argued, unsuccessfully, that the documents threaten her defense and complained she had already been convicted by the media. The judge had allowed two key depositions to be exempt from release while Maxwell filed an appeal Thursday with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. But Preska ordered a second large tranche of documents from the case settled in 2017 unsealed and released Thursday night.

[..] That same transcript also names people who traveled with Epstein. While many of the names have been publicly linked to Epstein before, seeing them in the context of the document was jarring. Giuffre tells of celebrities traveling with Epstein like magician David Copperfield, model Naomi Campbell, former Sony Records President Tommy Mottola and Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of the famed undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau. Giuffre also provides a sworn statement about former President Bill Clinton visiting Epstein’s Little St. James Island. “When you say you asked him why is Bill Clinton here, where was he?” Giuffre was asked in her deposition, answering, “On the island.”

In the newly released 24-page transcript of “Document 16,” Giuffre added that two young girls from New York and Maxwell were on the island at the same time as Clinton, who has denied any improper relations. So have the numerous men she identified. The earlier documents also included the names of a number of men whom Giuffre said she and other victims were directed to have sex with, including former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Hyatt hotels magnate Tom Pritzker, the late scientist Marvin Minsky, modeling scout Jean-Luc Brunel, and prominent hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin.

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Well, she has one win. But it’s Pyrrhic.

US Appeals Court Delays Release Of Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition (R.)

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the order after last-ditch scrambles by Maxwell to keep potentially embarrassing information, which her lawyer said could make it “difficult if not impossible” to find an impartial jury, out of the public eye. Maxwell’s appeal will be heard on an expedited basis, with oral argument scheduled for Sept. 22. Her deposition had been taken in April 2016 for a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit against the British socialite by Virginia Giuffre, who had accused Epstein of having kept her as a “sex slave” with Maxwell’s assistance. Dozens of other documents from that case were released late on Thursday, after the presiding judge concluded that the public had a right to see them.= The release of Maxwell’s deposition had been scheduled for Monday, pending the outcome of the appeal.


[..] In seeking to keep Maxwell’s deposition sealed, her lawyers said in court papers on Thursday she had been promised confidentiality by Giuffre’s lawyers and the presiding judge at the time, through an agreed-upon protective order, before answering many personal, sensitive and “allegedly incriminatory” questions about her dealings with Epstein. They said further that Maxwell was blindsided when prosecutors quoted from the deposition in her indictment, and accusing Giuffre of leaking the deposition to the government. In a court filing on Friday, Giuffre’s lawyers called Maxwell’s appeal “frivolous, and a transparent attempt to further delay the release of documents to which the public has a clear and unequivocal right to access.” The lawyers also called the allegation Giuffre leaked the deposition “completely and utterly false.”

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This is not about something being rotten IN the state, this is a rotten state. It’s the core.

UK Government Refuses To Release Information About Assange Judge (DecUK)

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice is blocking the release of basic information about the judge who is to rule on Julian Assange’s extradition to the US in what appears to be an irregular application of the Freedom of Information Act, it can be revealed. Declassified has also discovered that the judge, Vanessa Baraitser, has ordered extradition in 96% of the cases she has presided over for which information is publicly available. Baraitser was appointed a district judge in October 2011 based at the Chief Magistrate’s Office in London, after being admitted as a solicitor in 1994. Next to no other information is available about her in the public domain.

Baraitser has been criticised for a number of her judgments so far concerning Assange, who has been incarcerated in a maximum security prison, HMP Belmarsh in London, since April 2019. These decisions include refusing Assange’s request for emergency bail during the Covid-19 pandemic and making him sit behind a glass screen during the hearing, rather than with his lawyers. Declassified recently revealed that Assange is one of just two of the 797 inmates in Belmarsh being held for violating bail conditions. Over 20% of inmates are held for murder. Declassified has also seen evidence that the UK Home Office is blocking the release of information about home secretary Priti Patel’s role in the Assange extradition case.

A request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was sent by Declassified to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) on 28 February 2020 requesting a list of all the cases on which Baraitser has ruled since she was appointed in 2011. The MOJ noted in response that it was obliged to send a reply within 20 working days. Two months later, on 29 April 2020, an information officer at the HM Courts and Tribunals Service responded that it could “confirm” that it held “some of the information that you have requested”. But the request was rejected since the officer claimed it was not consistent with the Constitutional Reform Act. “The judiciary is not a public body for the purposes of FOIA… and requests asking to disclose all the cases a named judge ruled on are therefore outside the scope of the FOIA,” the officer stated.

A British barrister, who wished to remain anonymous, but who is not involved with the Assange case, told Declassified: “The resistance to disclosure here is curious. A court is a public authority for the purposes of the Human Rights Act and a judge is an officer of the court. It is therefore more than surprising that the first refusal argued that, for the purposes of the FOIA, there is no public body here subject to disclosure.” The barrister added: “The alternative argument on data doesn’t stack up. A court acts in public. There is no default anonymity of the names of cases, unless children are involved or other certain limited circumstances, nor the judges who rule on them. Justice has to be seen to be done.”

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“..selling postcards of the hanging..”

When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Get Punked (Kunstler)

The election itself is another front in this undeclared civil war. How exactly did the Democratic Party come to settle on a candidate with no credible capacity to serve as president? Who is Joe Biden fronting for, and who do they think they’re fooling? How can he possibly deliver an acceptance speech three weeks from now without giving away the game? That will be something to see — but I doubt we will actually see it. If the Dems don’t switch him out, there is no way Mr. Biden can survive the three-month homestretch of an election campaign. He can barely make it through a ten-minute appearance in front of twenty-three hand-picked partisans in a TV studio. Life imitates art, as Oscar Wilde tartly observed. The Manchurian candidate is truly here.


Mr. Barr is quite correct when he avers that an election by mail-in ballots is an invitation to fraud. The parallel campaign by the news media to ramp up extra hysteria over the corona virus is designed to ensure that scam. Keeping kids out of school is another angle on it, to plant a narrative that parents can’t possibly leave the house to go to a polling station. Wait for it. The result would be an election that can’t be resolved even by the Supreme Court. What will happen then? I’ll tell you how it goes: Donald Trump will stand aside and yield to the military, to some general or committee of generals, and the country will be under martial law until the election is sorted out or re-run. And by then, the election may be the least of our problems, with tens of millions out-of-work, out-of-business, penniless, homeless, and hungry. That’s when they’ll truly be selling postcards of the hanging, as the old song goes. Then comes America’s Bonaparte moment. Yes, things can get that weird.

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“..the hearing had as much class as a demolition derby..”

The Triumph Of Small People In An Era Of Great Events (Turley)

Winston Churchill said, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” If he knew members of the House Judiciary Committee, he could have cut that time in half, as they might convince people that democracy is a failed experiment. The hearing with Attorney General William Barr had been long awaited for weeks as a way to get answers on issues ranging from the controversial clearing of Lafayette Park, to the intervention in the case of Roger Stone, to the violence across various cities. Instead, the public watched as both parties engaged in hours of primal scream therapy, with Barr for the most part forced to remain as silent as some life size anatomical doll. The videos shown by the rival parties captured the utter absurdity of the day.

Republicans played what could only be described as eight minutes of virtual “riot porn” for the hard right. By the end, one would think much of the nation is a smoking dystopian hellscape. Democrats then played their alternate reality video showing thousands of protesters chanting together in perfect harmony. Add a soundtrack to the scene and you would have a soda commercial. There was nothing in the middle: either the protests are either our final Armageddon or the Garden of Eden. After testifying recently on the Lafayette Park controversy, I was one of those who had great expectations for answers to significant questions. Instead, Democrats dramatically demanded answers and then stopped Barr from answering by immediately “taking back the time.” It happened over and over during the hearing. Democrats simply did not want to hear any answers that would undermine the popular narratives.

Several Democrats insisted the clearing of Lafayette Park was for the sole purpose of a photo for President Trump in front of Saint John Church. Barr sought to explain that there was no connection between the plan formed the weekend before and the photo, but he was stopped by members like Hank Johnson saying “you clearly will not answer the question” before he could even start to answer. It got more and more bizarre. Barr was repeatedly cut off by Democrats, while Republicans, who have done the same thing to witnesses in other hearings, raged against their colleagues. The result was mayhem. While Barr sarcastically referred to Jerrold Nadler as a “real class act” after Nadler refused a request for a break, the hearing had as much class as a demolition derby.

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Lying under oath?!

Susan Rice’s Testimony on Being Out of Russiagate Loop Doesn’t Add Up (RCI)

Rice insisted she knew nothing about the FBI’s counterintelligence probe regarding Trump and Russia, let alone anything that could be characterized as spying on the incoming administration. She had her lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler, write a letter to Sens. Charles Grassley, Dianne Feinstein, Lindsey Graham, and Sheldon Whitehouse. “While serving as National Security Advisor, Ambassador Rice was not briefed on the existence of any FBI investigation into allegations of collusion between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia,” Ruemmler wrote, “and she later learned of the fact of this investigation from Director Comey’s subsequent public testimony” – testimony that didn’t occur until March 20, 2017 On Wednesday, September 8, 2017, Rice repeated that she knew nothing of the FBI’s investigation while in the White House. This time she made the claim under oath.


Rice was at the Capitol, sitting in a secure room used by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The official reason for the interview was to ask what the Obama administration had done to thwart Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Behind those questions was a different query: Had Barack Obama’s team used the power of the presidency to spy on and smear the Trump campaign? With the expectation of facing unfriendly questions, Rice arrived with two attorneys from the law firm Latham & Watkins. The Republican staffer running the interview emphasized to Rice the importance of telling the truth: “You are reminded that it is unlawful to deliberately provide false information to members of Congress or staff.” She was asked to raise her right hand and take an oath: “Madam Ambassador, do you swear or affirm that the testimony you’re about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” “I do,” Rice said.

[..] Comey told Horowitz that in August 2016 “he did mention to President Obama and others at a meeting in the Situation Room that the FBI was trying to determine whether any U.S. person had worked with the Russians in their efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.”“[A]lthough [Comey] did not recall exactly what he said,” Horowitz writes, “he may have said there were four individuals with ‘some association or connection to the Trump campaign.’” This revelation failed to strike anyone at the meeting as remarkable: “Comey stated that after he provided this information, no one in the Situation Room responded or followed up with any questions.” [..] Comey provided Horowitz with a list of those at the meeting. The inspector general shares that list in footnote 194 to his report: President Obama was there, as well as his chief of staff, Dennis McDonough; also present were James Clapper, John Brennan, Michael Rogers and Susan Rice.

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LOOK Detroit’s 1960 look. Sneak preview of the new models, Dodge Polara 1959

 

Chinese and UK Vaccine Trials Produce Immune Responses (SCMP)
Reality Winner, 500 More Women Test Positive For COVID-19 in Texas Prison (D.)
US Autonomy Act Opens ‘Pandora’s Box’ For Hong Kong Dollar Peg (SCMP)
Jack Ma’s Ant IPO Signals Start Of De-Dollarization (Xe Yie)
EU Leaders Seal Deal On Spending And €750bn COVID19 Recovery Plans (G.)
No One’s Flying, Millions Of Jobs Might Be Lost as Airlines Took Billions (RT)
What Lies Ahead (CP)
NY Dems Created McConnell’s Corporate Immunity Template (SIrota)
The Left is Now the Right (Matt Taibbi)
Is Thinking Cancelled? (Jim Kunstler)
German Weapons Exports Have Flouted EU Rules For Decades (RT)
Alleged Salas Family Assailant Linked To US/Israeli Intelligence (Webb)
Steele ‘Primary Subsource’s’ Guide to Russiagate, as Told to the FBI (RCI)

 

 

I was waiting for the British RussiaRussia report, but the parliamentary committee had basically only this to say: “Committee members said they could not definitively conclude whether the Kremlin had or had not successfully interfered in the Brexit vote because no effort had been made to find out.” Though they do know that “Russia sees the UK as one of its “top targets” in the west”. Sure guys, you’re really important. Yawn.

The EU reached a €750 billion COVID deal (and a long-term new budget deal) by engaging in horse trading: European Commission head Michel offered Dutch PM Rutte an additional €350 million annual discount on the Dutch contribution to the EU from 2021-2027, and then all principles went AWOL.

Meanwhile, rumors about vaccines move entire “markets”, something PR firms for Big Pharma and the CCP are all too eager to encourage.

Oh, and after today there really is nothing at all left of the credibility of the Steele dossier. Which leaves us asking why Robert Mueller was ever hired as Special Counsel. Who was behind that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bianco WA-OR

 

 

 

 

This infomercial was brought to you by Big Pharma and the CCP. Designed to move “markets”. And it worked.

Chinese and UK Vaccine Trials Produce Immune Responses (SCMP)

A coronavirus vaccine under early development by Chinese researchers produced a significant immune response for hundreds of volunteers, in one of two new studies offering hope as scientists race to develop a vaccine to counter the global pandemic. The Chinese scientists have completed phase two of their trial, published in The Lancet medical journal on Monday, which found that one injection of either a low or medium dose of the vaccine “induced significant neutralising antibody responses to live Sars-CoV-2”, the name for the novel coronavirus. An earlier phase-one trial of the vaccine had produced immune responses, but the latest trial was widened to include individuals aged 55 or older, given their higher risk of death from the Covid-19 virus.

“Single-dose immunisation with the vaccine induced rapid onset of immune responses within 14 days, and significant humoral and cellular immune responses within 28 days in the majority of the recipients,” the team of Chinese scientists, led by Zhu Fengcai from the Jiangsu Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Guan Xuhua from the Hubei Provincial CDC, wrote. [..] Most of the participants given the vaccine at a centre in central China’s Wuhan reported mild or moderate reactions, most commonly fatigue, fever and headache. Seventy-four per cent of the 129 individuals who received the lower dose and 72 per cent of those who received the medium dose reported at least one negative reaction but none had serious adverse reactions.

Scientists from Oxford University’s Jenner Institute also published findings from an early vaccine trial on Monday in The Lancet. In that trial 543 participants were injected with an experimental coronavirus vaccine, produced with the Cambridge-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. The vaccine produced both humoral and cellular responses against Sars-CoV-2, with antibodies for the virus peaking 28 days after vaccination and continuing to remain high up to two months later, the scientists said. The most common side effects from the Oxford vaccine included fatigue, which was reported by 70 per cent of participants, and headache, reported by 68 per cent. Other reactions included muscle ache, malaise and feeling feverish but there were no serious adverse events.

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Assange is not the only one.

Reality Winner, 500 More Women Test Positive For COVID-19 in Texas Prison (D.)

More than 500 women imprisoned at Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, have tested positive for COVID-19. The facility has the second-most cases out of all federal prisons in the United States, and one of the prisoners who has tested positive is NSA whistleblower Reality Winner. Last week, The Dissenter reported that COVID-19 cases tripled at Carswell in one week. The article included comments from Winner’s sister Brittany Winner. Staff at Carswell apparently read the story, and according to Brittany Winner, she is experiencing retaliation for our reporting. “Reality is being retaliated against for speaking out about the conditions in the prison, but she won’t stop fighting for better treatment for herself and her fellow inmates,” Brittany Winner declared.

“She will continue to update us, and I want everyone to know that we are watching and won’t stop being her voice.” Brittany Winner continued, “I am terrified that she will develop severe symptoms and require urgent medical care, but with the huge swell of cases in FMC Carswell and the likelihood that the region’s hospitals are already overwhelmed, I have no confidence that she will receive the care she needs.” “She belongs at home where she can be safely quarantined and receive medical care,” Brittany Winner contended. It took at least five days for Reality Winner to receive the results of her COVID-19 test, and fortunately, she has not exhibited symptoms of the virus yet.

Reality Winner is waiting on the 11th Circuit to rule on an appeal that she filed after a lower court denied her request for compassionate release. As her attorneys warned in May, “The entire basis for Reality’s motion—and so many like hers—is that she cannot afford to wait until she is removed from FMC Carswell in a stretcher, or worse, before she is afforded relief.”

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I think perhaps it’s more of a Schrödinger’s box.

US Autonomy Act Opens ‘Pandora’s Box’ For Hong Kong Dollar Peg (SCMP)

US President Donald Trump’s decision to take action against Beijing over its imposition of a new security law on Hong Kong is unlikely to undermine the city’s dollar peg system or its role as a financial hub in the short term, but escalating conflict between the US and China raises questions about the long-term outlook, according to analysts. Trump last week issued an executive order ending the city’s special economic treatment and enacted the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which paves the way for punishment of Chinese and Hong Kong officials accused of curbing the autonomy of the ex-British colony, as well as the financial institutions that do business with them. The US State Department has 90 days to designate individuals or entities in contravention of the law, after which banks will have one year to cease business relations.

Only a few banks are expected to be targeted, and they would be allowed to appeal for removal from the US government’s sanctions list, analysts said. This has eased worries over a full-blown US-China financial war, as well as other extreme scenarios in the short-run, said Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief economist for Asia-Pacific at French investment bank Natixis. Carie Li Ruofan, an economist at OCBC Wing Hang Bank, said the biggest worry had been the threat of financial sanctions on banks. “But since the president has given leeway for a lot of time to identify these banks and to impose the actual sanctions, there isn’t a real market impact and there aren’t excessive concerns for the time being,” she said.

Trump’s executive order did not mention limiting Hong Kong banks’ access to the US dollar payment system as a way of punishing China, which would undermine the currency peg system that has allowed the city to remain a global financial hub. The Hong Kong dollar has been pegged to the US dollar since October 1983, but has been allowed to trade between 7.75 and 7.85 since 2005. Due to China’s draconian capital controls that restrict the use of the yuan globally, the freely convertible and stable Hong Kong dollar is especially important to China for attracting foreign investment and in turn allowing Chinese companies to easily raise hard currency in the city. Economists estimate that investment flows through the city account for more than 70% of China’s international funding.

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There we go again. Let’s see the HK dollar peg gone.

Jack Ma’s Ant IPO Signals Start Of De-Dollarization (Xe Yie)

Back in China, the biggest news overnight was that Jack Ma’s Ant Group is seeking a valuation of more than $200 billion as it goes public in Hong Kong and Shanghai. It could seek to raise more in its IPO than Saudi Aramco’s record $29 billion haul, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The significance of this deal is multifold:
• It would be the biggest IPO ever on mainland exchanges, smashing the record $10 billion debut by Agriculture Bank of China in 2010.
• It signifies the rise of New China in the form of private high-tech companies, as opposed to the Old China dominated by state-owned banks and energy giants.
• And it lends much needed credibility to the Shanghai stock exchange’s STAR board, which is designed to harbor tech startups.

More importantly, the choice of Shanghai and Hong Kong for listing signals China’s deliberate efforts to reduce its reliance on the U.S. capital market for fund-raising amid the tension between the two countries. Already, Chinese and Hong Kong exchanges accommodated the world’s biggest four public listings this year, including Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. and JD.com. In the debt market, China’s borrowing in foreign currencies seems to have also peaked. The external debt was little changed at $1.3 trillion last year, after rising 16% in 2018 and 22% in 2017. Dollar-denominated debt accounted for 83% of the total foreing debt outstanding, according to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. Considering everything from the U.S.’s threat to delist Chinese companies, to moves to strip Hong Kong of its special status, it’s more than clear that China is starting its process of de-dollarization and furthering the internationalization of its own currency.

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Yes, there is some common borrowing. Yay! But in reality it’s just more raw horse trading. EC head Michel gave Rutte 100s of millions in incentives to sign up. Nothing to do with principles. You don’t find that in the Anglo press. But the Dutch report it, and with pride.

EU Leaders Seal Deal On Spending And €750bn COVID19 Recovery Plans (G.)

EU leaders have reached a historic agreement on a €750bn coronavirus pandemic recovery fund and their long-term spending plans following days of acrimonious debate at the bloc’s longest summit in nearly two decades. As the meeting reached its fifth day, the 27 exhausted heads of state and government finally gave their seal of approval to a plan for the EU to jointly borrow debt to be disbursed through grants on an unprecedented scale, in the face of an economic downturn not seen since the Great Depression. The end of the tortuous process was announced by the European council president, Charles Michel, who had been chairing the leaders’ long debates, with a single word on Twitter: “Deal!”

The euro rose against the dollar on the news to stand at $1.145. France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, described it as a “historic day for Europe”. Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president, said that the more than 90 hours of negotiations had been “worth it” and that the EU could not be accused this time of doing “too little, too late”. Negotiations for the hard-won deal pitted north against south and east against west as governments haggled over the terms of both the bloc’s seven-year budget and a one-off economic stimulus. The summit, stretching from Friday morning into the early hours of Tuesday, was so prolonged that two leaders, Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg and Ireland’s Micheál Martin, briefly returned home before coming back to Brussels.

Despite initial opposition from the so-called frugal states of the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark, agreement was finally found, following a final 5.15am session of the 27 on Tuesday morning, to disburse vast sums in the form of non-repayable grants to countries most stricken by the coronavirus pandemic. The breakthrough followed a new proposal from Michel for the EU to pay out €390bn in grants and €360bn in loans from the new economic reconstruction fund. The “frugal” states had been pushing for the original proposal by the European commission for €500bn in grants to be reduced to €350bn, to the evident frustration of Macron and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, had at one stage warned his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte, who led the way on reducing the level of grants, that he might become a hero at home but that he faced being blamed by the rest of Europe for his lack of solidarity. But Michel’s new formulation, emerging out of hours of bilateral talks with the leaders on both sides of the debate outside of the full plenary sessions of the leaders, finally received the unanimous support it required.

Italy vs Facebook

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Mitch Feierstein states the obvious.

No One’s Flying, Millions Of Jobs Might Be Lost as Airlines Took Billions (RT)

The airlines frittered away billions in stock buybacks – American Airlines alone spent $13 billion on share buybacks. Airlines received at least $50 billion in government bailouts that taxpayers will be on the hook for when they go bankrupt. As I explained (here), American Airlines’ CEO Robert Parker was paid 150 million dollars to crash the airline that will cost tens of thousands of jobs – jobs that will be gone forever. The mainstream media is reporting on the 25,000 jobs AA is preparing to furlough, but is failing – or refusing – to see the macroeconomic big picture and the reality that MILLIONS of jobs could be on the line. [..] It is clear that the business and the ancillary supply-chain businesses (leases and purchases from Boeing, airplane parts, airline maintenance, jet fuel, food services, employees to clean planes and airports) are not returning anytime soon.

We are talking MILLIONS of jobs across the airline supply chain that will never return. Will airlines go bankrupt? YES! Why wasn’t Parker fired and the board sacked? Why did the government fund $10 billion in bailouts when 25,000 people are about to be sacked? What caused the current global economic depression and are the governments being honest about it? The credit crisis that began in earnest back in 2008 was caused by too much debt, credit and leverage. Then it hit high gear with Boris Johnson’s top adviser shrieking “2.2 million Americans and over half a million Brits will die from coronavirus.” This statement was the shot that ended democracy around the world, and it came from Dr Neil Ferguson and his Imperial College “models” funded by Microsoft’s Bill Gates.

New York City’s economy is in the tank. It is estimated that over fifty percent of the small businesses that closed due to Covid-19 will never reopen. This means millions of jobs are gone forever, and it will cause more vacant commercial real estate to come onto an already over-supplied property market. Property prices in cities will collapse and, as job losses continue, we will see a catastrophic increase of defaults on residential mortgages that will cause a broader collapse in all property prices. The global economy is in an economic depression, illustrated and compounded by massive unemployment, contracting gross domestic product, staggering amounts of private and public debt and a wealth inequality gap that has rocketed to stratospheric new highs. Central Banks, aka rogue hedge funds, have printed trillions of dollars. These funds have re-inflated asset bubbles to wildly grotesque levels of valuation that have never been seen.

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“A second wave of job layoffs is going to strike at the same time that rent forbearance expires.”

What Lies Ahead (CP)

As of mid-July no fewer than 33 million are receiving unemployment benefits, with another 6 million having dropped out of the labor force altogether and no longer even being counted as unemployed. Unemployment therefore remains at what will likely be a chronically high number, at around 40 million—with about 25% of the US labor force unemployed—as renewed service-retail sector layoffs, plus new permanent layoffs, both loom on the horizon. Added to the growing problem of renewed service layoffs and the 2nd wave of permanent layoffs in the private sector is the growing likelihood of significant layoffs in the public sector, as states and cities facing massive budget deficits are forced to lay off several millions of the roughly 22 million public sector workers in the US.

[..] There is an imminent crisis in rents affecting tens of millions. At the peak in April, it is estimated that roughly one-third of the 110 million renters in the US economy had stopped making rent payments due to the COVID-related shutdowns of the economy. The CARES ACT, passed in March, provided forbearance on rental payments, although perhaps as many as 20 states failed to enforce it. That forbearance directive expires at the end of July, with as many as 23 million rent evictions projected in coming months. A major housing crisis is thus brewing, as well as the second wave of job layoffs.

A combined education-child care crisis is about to occur almost simultaneously. The K-12 public education system is approaching chaos, as school districts plan to introduce remote learning on a major scale in order to deal with the renewed COVID-19 infection and hospitalization wave. The heart of the crisis is that tens of millions of US working class families dependent on two paychecks to survive economically cannot afford to accommodate school district practices for remote learning—especially for young children in the K-6 grade levels. Even if such families could afford to pay for expensive child care, the current US child care system is far from being able to accommodate them. Many minority and working class households, moreover, lack the computers and networking equipment, or even the requisite skills to set it up, to enable their children participate in remote learning.

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David Sirota worked in Bernie’s campaign until the latter was thrown out again. Tulsi Gabbard was muzzled by the DNC and removed. Why do people like them still hang around this hornet’s nest?

NY Dems Created McConnell’s Corporate Immunity Template (SIrota)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial legislation granting nursing home CEOs legal immunity during the COVID-19 pandemic became a template this week for Washington Republicans, who are reportedly finalizing a national version of the liability shield for corporate executives. Now, new campaign finance records show that the landmark provision in New York was inserted into the state’s budget by Democratic legislators as they were benefiting from a boost in campaign cash from the health care industry lobbying group that sculpted the provision. Those same New York legislators may now face a vote on legislation to repeal the immunity language, or water down that repeal.

Meanwhile, the same health care industry lobbying group has been funneling millions to Democratic lawmakers in Washington, who could soon face votes on the federal version of the New York initiative. In the first half of 2020, the Greater New York Hospital Association — which said it “drafted and aggressively advocated for” the immunity provision — funneled $260,000 to Democratic state lawmakers’ that control the New York legislature, according to newly released campaign finance records. That represents more than double the amount the group gave those committees in the same reporting period during the 2018 election cycle.

In all, GNYHA delivered more than $450,000 to Democratic and Republican party committees in New York since the beginning of the year. The Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) — another lobbying group whose members benefit from the immunity law — delivered an additional $69,000 to New York legislators in the same time period. In an investigative report co-published in Jacobin and The Guardian, TMI previously broke open the news that when Cuomo first proposed the immunity legislation, state party committees that he controls had already raked in more than $1 million from GNYHA. This new data from the first half of 2020 show that the largesse extended to the state legislators whose support Cuomo and GNYHA needed in order to pass the provision into law.

New York’s immunity provision, which passed in April, is one of the farthest-reaching in the nation. It not only shields frontline health care workers from lawsuits during the coronavirus outbreak — it extends such legal immunity to the executives, board members and other corporate officials who operate health care facilities, and whose staffing and medical policy decisions govern entire nursing homes and hospitals.

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Matt’s stream of consciousness.

The Left is Now the Right (Matt Taibbi)

The old Republican right’s idea of “humor” was its usual diatribes against Bad People, only with puns thrown in (are you ready for “OxyClinton”?). As a result the Fox effort at countering the Daily Show, the 1/2 Hour News Hour — a string of agonizing “burns” on Bush-haters and Hillary — remains the worst-rated show in the history of television, according to Metacritic. The irony gap eventually spelled doom for that group of Republicans, as Trump drove a truck through it in 2016. However, it’s possible they just weren’t as committed to the concept as current counterparts. Take the Smithsonian story. The museum became the latest institution to attempt to combat racism by pledging itself to “antiracism,” a quack sub-theology that in a self-clowning trick straight out of Catch-22 seeks to raise awareness about ignorant race stereotypes by reviving and amplifying them.


The National Museum of African American History and Culture created a graphic on “Aspects and Assumptions of White Culture” that declared the following white values: “the scientific method,” “rational, linear thinking,” “the nuclear family,” “children should have their own rooms,” “hard work is the key to success,” “be polite,” “written tradition,” and “self-reliance.” White food is “steak and potatoes; bland is best,” and in white justice, “intent counts.” The astute observer will notice this graphic could equally have been written by white supremacist Richard Spencer or History of White People parodist Martin Mull. It seems impossible that no one at one of the country’s leading educational institutions noticed this messaging is ludicrously racist, not just to white people but to everyone (what is any person of color supposed to think when he or she reads that self-reliance, politeness, and “linear thinking” are white values?).

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How did the country ever end up in this mess?

Is Thinking Cancelled? (Jim Kunstler)

General Flynn, the American Dreyfus, remains twisting slowly in the wind despite the DOJ dropping charges against him. Judge Emmet Sullivan is busy destroying the credibility and authority of the federal bench with bad faith procedural shenanigans underwritten by Ben Wittes’s Lawfare claque of Beltway shysters maneuvering in the background to protect Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Is it not past time for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to force Judge Sullivan to end the case, or admonish and remove him? Beyond all the legalese bullshit, an innocent man’s life is stuck unfairly and unjustly in limbo after three years of a malicious prosecution.

Why has the attorney general not preferred charges against Gen. Flynn’s chief prosecutor, Brandon Van Crack — or, for that matter, against Robert Mueller, Andrew Weissmann and the whole Special Counsel staff — for withholding evidence and plenty of other obvious prosecutorial mischief? Mr. Barr has stated plainly more than once that the agency he took charge over in 2019 “us[ed] the criminal justice process as a political weapon.” Is that against the law or not? Does it injure this society to leave that question unanswered, month after month?

In a better society, the newspapers would have rushed to Gen. Flynn’s defense. Except our leading newspapers are so vested in years of their own untruth that they don’t dare to cover the story. Where is the consequence for Dean Baquet, editor of The New York Times, since Times staffer Bari Weiss disclosed his failure to control the ideological bullying, coercion, and hostility to fair play in his newsroom? Mr. Baquet has not just wrecked an institution; he’s made the whole business of covering reality look like a hustle. Does The New York Times’s board of directors not care about its reputation? Maybe the message is: why should anyone care about his or her reputation? And what kind of culture grows out of that code?

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Arms sales are the best: profits are huge, and the press dare not touch them.

German Weapons Exports Have Flouted EU Rules For Decades (RT)

Berlin has systematically broken EU guidelines by selling weapons to bad actors across the globe, a new study says. It alleges that German-made arms and military hardware have led to more violence on the ground. Over the years, Germany has been selling both weapons and munitions to “countries affected by war and crisis, to countries with human rights violations and to regions of tension,” a new study by the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) says. According to the EU criteria, the recipient of arms must respect human rights and international law, as well as maintain peace and stability in the region. However, since 1990, Germany has repeatedly struck deals with nations with a poor human rights record, such as Algeria, Egypt, and Indonesia, oftentimes selling off old Bundeswehr hardware, PRIF notes.


In many instances, the equipment ended up in war zones, as happened in Indonesia, where German-made ships were spotted transporting soldiers during an insurgency in Indonesia’s Aceh region. The research raises particular alarm over Berlin’s long history of supplying military technology to Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In 2019, German-made Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks were used in Ankara’s invasion of Syria, and Riyadh has been waging a bloody air war in Yemen since 2015. Despite mounting reports of mass civilian casualties on the ground, the German government has approved arms sales worth €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) to Saudi Arabia since its bombing campaign began, the study said. It noted that even the UK-supplied Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon that carry out air strikes on Yemeni cities “contain parts produced in Germany.”

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And thereby Epstein.

Alleged Salas Family Assailant Linked To US/Israeli Intelligence (Webb)

The news of the shooting of the husband and son of Esther Salas, the judge recently assigned to oversee the Jeffrey Epstein – Deutsche Bank case, caused shock and confusion while also bringing renewed scrutiny to the Epstein scandal just a week after Epstein’s main co-conspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell, was denied bail in a separate case. The case Salas is set to oversee is a class action lawsuit brought by Deutsche Bank investors who allege that Deutsche Bank “failed to properly monitor customers that the Bank itself deemed to be high risk, including, among others, the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.” The case came after the New York state Department of Financial Services had settled with Deutsche Bank over the bank’s failure to cut ties with Epstein-linked accounts, resulting in Deutsche Bank paying a $150 million fine.

Deutsche Bank, unlike other financial institutions, failed to close all of its accounts linked to Epstein until less than a month prior to his arrest last year, even though the bank had identified him as “high risk” yearsbefore. Beyond the tragedy of Sunday’s shooting, which claimed the life of Salas’ only child, the quick discovery of the death of the main suspect, Roy Den Hollander, of a “self-inflicted” gunshot to the head before he could be arrested or questioned by authorities has led to speculation that there is more to the official narrative of the crime than meets the eye. With law enforcement sources now claiming that Esther Salas was not the intended target of the attack and some media reports now suggesting that Den Hollander’s motive was related to his dislike of feminism, it appears there are efforts underway to distance Sunday’s tragic shooting from Salas’ recent assignment to the Epstein case, which occurred just four days before the tragic shooting.

The most likely reason for any such “damage control” effort lies in the fact that both U.S. law enforcement investigations and mainstream media reports have consistently downplayed the connections of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual trafficking and financial crimes to intelligence agencies in the U.S. and Israel. Similarly, Roy Den Hollander previously worked for a New York firm has been described as a “private CIA” with ties to those countries’ intelligence agencies and, also, ties to Deutsche Bank.

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Without the Steele dossier, paid for by the DNC and FusionGPS, there would never have been a Mueller investigation. Both have now been more than fully discredited. Question remains: who drove this?

Steele ‘Primary Subsource’s’ Guide to Russiagate, as Told to the FBI (RCI)

Much of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation into Donald Trump was built on the premise that Christopher Steele and his dossier were to be believed. This even though, early on, Steele’s claims failed to bear scrutiny. Just how far off the claims were became clear when the FBI interviewed Steele’s “Primary Subsource” over three days beginning on Feb. 9, 2017. Notes taken by FBI agents of those interviews were released by the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday afternoon. The Primary Subsource was in reality Steele’s sole source, a long-time Russian-speaking contractor for the former British spy’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence. In turn, the Primary Subsource had a group of friends in Russia. All of their names remain redacted.

From the FBI interviews it becomes clear that the Primary Subsource and his friends peddled warmed-over rumors and laughable gossip that Steele dressed up as formal intelligence memos. Steele’s operation didn’t rely on great expertise, to judge from the Primary Subsource’s account. He described to the FBI the instructions Steele had given him sometime in the spring of 2016 regarding Paul Manafort: “Do you know [about] Manafort? Find out about Manafort’s dealings with Ukraine, his dealings with other countries, and any corrupt schemes.” The Primary Subsource admitted to the FBI “that he was ‘clueless’ about who Manafort was, and that this was a ‘strange task’ to have been given.” The Primary Subsource said at first that maybe he had asked some of his friends in Russia – he didn’t have a network of sources, according to his lawyer, but instead just a “social circle.”

And a boozy one at that: When the Primary Subsource would get together with his old friend Source 4, the two would drink heavily. But his social circle was no help with the Manafort question and so the Primary Subsource scrounged up a few old news clippings about Manafort and fed them back to Steele. Also in his “social circle” was Primary Subsource’s friend “Source 2,” a character who was always on the make. “He often tries to monetize his relationship with [the Primary Subsource], suggesting that the two of them should try and do projects together for money,” the Primary Subsource told the FBI (a caution that the Primary Subsource would repeat again and again). It was Source 2 who “told [the Primary Subsource] that there was compromising material on Trump.”

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We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you.

 

 

The New York Times threatens to publish Tucker Carlson’s home address, after he was forced to move with his wife and four kids two years ago following severe threats.

 

 

The best way to teach your kids about taxes is to eat 30% of their ice cream
– Bill Murray

 

 

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Simple.
To even out the good things that happen to bad people.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 142020
 


DPC The Wizard Tree, Cathedral Woods, North Conway, White Mountains, New Hampshire 1900

 

Pandemic May Get ‘Worse And Worse And Worse’ – WHO (RT)
US Kids At Higher Risk From Coronavirus Than Kids In Other Countries (CNBC)
Hong Kong To Impose Most Severe Social Distancing Restrictions (R.)
Italian Doctors: Effects of COVID-19 Worse Than First Thought (Sky)
Japan Has Long Accepted COVID’s Airborne Spread (CBS)
California’s New Lockdown Dims Outlook For US Growth In Pandemic (R.)
Federal Reserve’s $3 Trillion Virus Rescue Inflates Market Bubbles (R.)
Goya “Boycott” Becomes “Buycott” (ZH)
FBI Believed Michael Flynn Was ‘Forthcoming’ And ‘Telling Truth’ (Solomon)
Trump Doesn’t Rule Out Pardoning Michael Flynn (CNBC)
Roger Stone Judge Demands To See Trump Clemency Order (ZH)
Weissmann To Publish Insider Account Of Trump-Russia Investigation (G.)
Top Mueller Aide Weissmann Calls For Roger Stone To Face Grand Jury (Turley)

 

 

Well, I did warn about those second lockdowns, and said they would be much harder than the first ones. Never let a lockdown go to waste, they’re against human -social- nature, no matter how needed they may be. It’s also stunning to see how unprepared everybody is for entering one. There’s no organization anywhere. There should be playbooks for these things, it’s not improv theater. You need to be able to identify the weakest people in society, and look after them.

And in the present day US, where everyone is hellbent on not listening to one another anymore, this can only lead to big trouble. Increasingly, the virus is becoming a political attribute, even if that is about the worst idea imaginable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But who still listens to the WHO?

Pandemic May Get ‘Worse And Worse And Worse’ – WHO (RT)

The Covid-19 pandemic is set to get “worse and worse” if countries do not stick to strict healthcare guidelines, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. The disease has already killed more than half-a-million globally. Speaking on Monday during a press briefing from the agency’s headquarters in Geneva via videolink, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gave an alarming prognosis on the pandemic’s course. “Let me be blunt. Too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one,” Tedros said. “If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go: it is going to get worse and worse and worse.”


The grim prognosis comes after the WHO registered a record daily increase in active coronavirus cases worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic. On Sunday, the global health watchdog registered some 230,370 new cases of the virus. The Covid-19 death rate remains steady, claiming around 5,000 lives on a daily basis. The global coronavirus tally for confirmed infections has risen above the 13-million mark, according to Reuters’ figures for the pandemic. Over 560,000 people have succumbed to the disease. The US, Brazil and India remain the worst-hit nations, accounting for nearly a half of all cases.

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“.. young people in the U.S. are generally sicker than young people in Sweden, for example. ”

US Kids At Higher Risk From Coronavirus Than Kids In Other Countries (CNBC)

Children in the U.S. are more likely than kids in other countries to have underlying conditions that place them at an increased risk of becoming severely sick with Covid-19, complicating the U.S. debate over how and whether to reopen schools this fall, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Monday. President Donald Trump has been pressuring U.S. schools to reopen this fall, tweeting last week that schools in “Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, along with many other countries” were “open with no problems.” But Gottlieb said Monday it’s difficult to compare the U.S. to most of those countries because they were able to bring the level of daily infection down to a manageable degree before reopening schools.

The outbreak in the U.S., in contrast, continues to set daily new records as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on local officials to commit to reopening schools. The U.S. is suffering from the worst Covid-19 outbreak in the world with more than 3.3 million confirmed cases so far and at least 135,200 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. “The only country that had schools open against a backdrop of a fair degree of spread was Sweden, and that’s what everyone extrapolates from,” he said on “Squawk Box.” “We didn’t study that systematically. We don’t know how many kids were really infected.” [..] Another concern that ought to be considered when deciding whether and how to reopen U.S. schools, Gottlieb said, is that young people in the U.S. are generally sicker than young people in Sweden, for example.

Regardless of age, other underlying conditions more prevalent in American kids puts them at a greater risk of a severe Covid-19 infection. “We have more co-morbid illness among young people in this country — more asthma, more obesity, more diabetes — so there is going to be higher risk with our school age population,” Gottlieb said. Those so-called co-morbidities have resulted in more severe illnesses and even death in Covid-19 patients across all age groups, scientists have found. The CDC says 18.5% of U.S. children between the ages of 2 and 19 suffer from obesity, or about 13.7 million children. About 6 million children under the age of 18 have asthma, according to the CDC, and the agency notes that Black children suffer from asthma at more than double the rate of White children.

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A lot of places see fresh outbreaks. People are eager to call them a second wave, but given how strongly that term is linked to the 1918 flu, I’d be careful with that.

Hong Kong To Impose Most Severe Social Distancing Restrictions (R.)

Hong Kong will impose strict new social distancing measures from midnight Tuesday, the most stringent in the Asian financial hub since the coronavirus broke out, as authorities warn the risk of a large-scale outbreak is extremely high. The measures dictate that face masks will be mandatory for people using public transport and restaurants will no longer provide dine in services and only offer takeaway after 6 pm. Both are new rules that were not implemented during the city’s first and second coronavirus waves earlier this year. If a person does not wear a mask on public transport, they face a fine of HK$5,000 ($645). Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Monday the government would limit group gatherings to four people from 50 – a measure last seen during a second wave in March.


Twelve types of establishments including gyms and places of amusement must shut for a week. “The recent emergence of local cases of unknown infection source indicates the existence of sustained silent transmission in the community,” the government said in a statement late on Monday. The Chinese-ruled city recorded 52 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, including 41 that were locally transmitted, health authorities said. Since late January, Hong Kong has reported 1,522 cases and local media reported an eighth death on Monday. The government said it is very concerned about the high number of imported cases and planned to impose further measures on travellers from high-risk places, including securing mandatory negative test results before arrival.

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“Psychosis, insomnia, kidney disease, spinal infections, strokes, chronic tiredness and mobility issues..”

Italian Doctors: Effects of COVID-19 Worse Than First Thought (Sky)

The long-term effects of COVID-19, even on people who suffered a mild infection, could be far worse than was originally anticipated, according to researchers and doctors in northern Italy. Psychosis, insomnia, kidney disease, spinal infections, strokes, chronic tiredness and mobility issues are being identified in former coronavirus patients in Lombardy, the worst-affected region in the country. The doctors warn that some victims may never recover from the illness and that all age groups are vulnerable. The virus is a systemic infection that affects all the organs of the body, not, as was previously thought, just a respiratory disease, they say. Some people may find that their ability to properly work, to concentrate, and even to take part in physical activities will be severely impaired.

The physicians warn that people who do not consider themselves in a vulnerable group and aren’t concerned at contracting the disease could be putting themselves in danger of life-changing illnesses if they ignore the rules to keep safe. They stress that the need for social distancing, hand washing, and masks is as important now as it ever was. The warnings come amid growing concerns in northern Italy that a second wave of the virus could be imminent. Doctors in two of the main hospitals in the region have reported a handful of new cases of severely ill people with respiratory problems. Dr Roberto Cosentini, head of emergencies at Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, oversaw the response to the virus that swept through this alpine province claiming the lives of at least 6,000 people.

He gave Sky News unprecedented access to the hospital’s emergency rooms in March when the first shocking effects of the virus were broadcast around the world, changing perceptions of the scale of the problem. Now he is leading efforts to again send a warning across the globe that COVID-19 is a lethal killer that affects the whole body, and is not going away. “At first, initially, we thought it was a bad flu, then we thought it was a bad flu with a very bad pneumonia, it was the phase when you came here, but subsequently we discovered that it is a systemic illness with vessel damage in the whole body with renal involvement, cerebral involvement,” he told me in the now silent COVID-19 emergency room that was overwhelmed a few months ago.

“So we are seeing other acute manifestations of renal failure that require dialysis; or stroke, and then acute myocardial infarction, so a lot of complications or other manifestations of the virus. “And also now we see a significant proportion of the population with chronic damage from the virus.”

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Which the WHO still halfway denies.

Japan Has Long Accepted COVID’s Airborne Spread (CBS)

Under pressure from the scientific community, the World Health Organization acknowledged last week the airborne transmission of “micro-droplets” as a possible third cause of COVID-19 infections. To many researchers in Japan, the admission felt anti-climactic. This densely populated country has operated for months on the assumption that tiny, “aerosolized” particles in crowded settings are turbo-charging the spread of the new coronavirus. Very few diseases — tuberculosis, chicken pox and measles — have been deemed transmissible through aerosols. Most are spread only through direct contact with infected persons or their bodily fluids, or contaminated surfaces. Still the WHO has refused to confirm aerosols as a major source of new coronavirus infections, saying more evidence is needed.

But scientists are keeping the pressure on. “If the WHO recognizes what we did in Japan, then maybe in other parts of the world, they will change (their antiviral procedures),” said Shin-Ichi Tanabe, a professor in the architecture department of Japan’s prestigious Waseda University. He was one of the 239 international scientists who co-wrote an open letter to the WHO urging the United Nations agency to revise its guidelines on how to stop the virus spreading. Large droplets expelled through the nose and mouth tend to fall to the ground quickly, explained Makoto Tsubokura, who runs the Computational Fluid Dynamics lab at Kobe University. For these larger respiratory particles, social distancing and face masks are considered adequate safeguards.

But in rooms with dry, stale air, Tsubokura said his research showed that people coughing, sneezing, and even talking and singing, emit tiny particles that defy gravity — able to hang in the air for many hours or even days, and travel the length of a room. The key defense against aerosols, Tsubokura said, is diluting the amount of virus in the air by opening windows and doors and ensuring HVAC systems circulate fresh air. In open-plan offices, he said partitions must be high enough to prevent direct contact with large droplets, but low enough to avoid creating a cloud of virus-heavy air (55 inches, or head height.) Small desk fans, he said, can also help diffuse airborne viral density. To the Japanese, the latest WHO admission did at least vindicate a strategy that the country adopted in February, when residents were told to avoid “the three Cs” — cramped spaces, crowded areas and close conversation.

Read more …

Maybe you shouldn’t target growth in a pandemic?!

California’s New Lockdown Dims Outlook For US Growth In Pandemic (R.)

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to reimpose restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms and even ordinary office work to tamp down a surge of coronavirus infections is dimming economic growth prospects for the nation as a whole. Darkening the outlook further was the decision by California’s two largest school districts – Los Angeles and San Diego – to conduct only online instruction when classes resume next month, a move that will make it challenging for parents of more than 825,000 students to return to work. The Golden State, with 40 million people, employs more workers than any other state in the nation, and its production of goods and services is about equal to the combined output of Florida and Texas, two others states that have also seen resurgences of the virus.

After the Great Recession, California was the nation’s inarguable job growth engine, creating about one in every seven jobs, more than any other state. By comparison, over the course of the 12-year post-financial crisis expansion Texas created one of every eight U.S. jobs, and Florida, about one of every 11. In March, after becoming the first U.S. state to impose a stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic, California also became the nation’s job-loss leader. Some 2.6 million jobs disappeared in March and April, about equal to the combined job losses in Texas and Florida. Many states began to reopen in May. California allowed businesses to resume activity at a slower pace than many states did.

That shows in the most recent state-by-state jobs data: during the course May, California added just 141,600 jobs, versus 182,000 in Florida and 237,000 in Texas. Since then, the virus has resurged in much of the country, with the biggest increases in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, forcing governors in all of those states to reimpose some restrictions. But none has gone as far as Newsom did on Monday; and none of those states has near the footprint of California when it comes to economic heft on a national scale. Before the coronavirus crisis, the state accounted for about 14% of the whole U.S. economy.

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Article gives a few examples, I bring my own. There is no better example of a Fed manufactured bubble than Tesla.

Federal Reserve’s $3 Trillion Virus Rescue Inflates Market Bubbles (R.)

The Federal Reserve’s $3 trillion bid to stave off an economic crisis in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak is fuelling excesses across U.S. capital markets. The U.S. central bank has pledged unlimited financial asset purchases to sustain market liquidity, increasing its balance sheet from $4.2 trillion in February to $7 trillion today. While the vast majority of these purchases have been limited to U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, the Fed’s pledge to bolster the corporate bond market has been enough to spur a frenzy among investors for bonds and stocks. “COVID-19 is now inversely related to the markets. The worse that COVID-19 gets, the better the markets do because the Fed will bring in stimulus. That is what has been driving markets,” said Andrew Brenner, head of international fixed income at NatAlliance.

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Brilliant idea. And no, I don’t think a boycott is in place just for talking to the president.

Goya “Boycott” Becomes “Buycott” (ZH)

In what is turning into a spectacular backfire, Goya products are being cleaned out of grocery store shelves in what is being dubbed the “Chick-Fil-A” effect by The Daily Wire. Namely, leftists have called for a boycott over the brand after its CEO publicly praised President Donald Trump. Instead, conservatives took matters into their own hands and are reportedly buying more Goya products than they normally would to show support for the company, its CEO and the President. It’s being called a “Buy-Cott”. It began when radio host Mike Opelka began encouraging people on Twitter to buy $10 worth of Goya products to turn around and donate to their local food bank.


He Tweeted: “My brother came up with a terrific idea and I am encouraging all to join me in purchasing $10 worth of Goya Foods products and donating them to your local food bank. Let’s push a BUY-cott, not a boycott. Let’s show the #Goyaway people what compassion can do.” And this weekend a GoFundMe effort was launched to feed the hungry using only Goya products. It has raised over $43,000 so far. Casey Harper, who started the GoFundMe, said: “I’m not surprised we have raised so much because people are tired of having to walk on eggshells in political discourse. Also, Americans are fundamentally generous people, so a chance to feed the hungry and stand up to cancel culture was an easy win.” Recall, three days ago, we reported that the Goya CEO “refused to apologize” for his comments praising President Donald Trump. As a result, many liberals announced they were boycotting his company. By last Thursday evening, “Goya,” #BoycottGoya and #Goyaway were trending topics on Twitter.

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“..the FBI planned on Jan. 4, 2017 to close down its investigation of Flynn but then reversed course.”

FBI Believed Michael Flynn Was ‘Forthcoming’ And ‘Telling Truth’ (Solomon)

Months before Michael Flynn was charged with the lying to agents, the FBI told the Justice Department the Trump national security adviser was “very open and forthcoming” in his interview and believed he was telling the truth about his contacts with Russia, according to long withheld government notes that sharply contrast with the criminal case Robert Mueller eventually filed. FBI agents told senior DOJ officials at a Jan. 25, 2017 meeting that Flynn was “telling truth as he believed it” and that he “believe[d] that what he said was true,” according to handwritten notes taken by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General Tashina Gauhar that were belatedly turned over to Flynn’s defense this month.

The agents also believed Flynn was “being forthright” during his interview and simply didn’t remember some facts from his calls with the Russian ambassador during the post-2016 election transition, Gauhar wrote in the notes. A separate DOJ memo described Flynn as “very open and forthcoming” during the interview. Copies of the notes from Gauhar, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who led the Russia collusion case, and former DOJ and FBI official Dana Boente were made public in a court filing over the weekend, adding to a large body of belatedly released evidence that suggested the FBI did not believe it had grounds to charge Flynn with a crime as news media were reporting at the time. In fact, Boente stated in handwritten notes dated in March 2017 that the FBI had concluded Flynn wasn’t an agent of Russia. “Do not view as source of collusion,” Boente wrote.

Likewise, the notes show DOJ did not believe it could prosecute Flynn under the Logan Act, lone of the laws that was leaked as a possible Flynn liability in the media. “No reasonable pros to Logan Act,” one of the entry in the notes declared. The notes also confirm previously released evidence showing the FBI planned on Jan. 4, 2017 to close down its investigation of Flynn but then reversed course. Remarkably, the FBI claimed to DOJ the reason it kept the Flynn probe open and interview him was because a news media leak of a classified transcript of his call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The “media leaks” about the calls being intercepted brought the “investigation in the open” and “changed the dynamic,” the notes quote FBI officials as saying.

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He won’t have to. Flynn got Sidney Powell.

Trump Doesn’t Rule Out Pardoning Michael Flynn (CNBC)

President Donald Trump on Monday did not rule out granting a pardon to his first national security advisor Michael Flynn, just days after commuting the 40-month prison term of his longtime ally Roger Stone. But Trump said “I don’t have a decision to make” about a potential pardon for Flynn “until I find out what’s going to happen” with Flynn’s efforts to get a dismissal of his conviction for lying to FBI agents. “I think he’s doing very well with respect to his case,” Trump told reporters. “I hope that he’s going to be able to win it.” The Justice Department has asked that Flynn’s conviction be tossed out, but Judge Emmet Sullivan so far has not ruled on that request. A federal appeals court panel ordered Sullivan to dismiss the case, which relates to Flynn’s discussions with a Russian diplomat in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration.


But Sullivan last week asked the appeals court’s full line-up of judges to reconsider that decision. Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell said in an email, “As I have said from the inception of my representation, the government has long withheld evidence of Mr. Flynn’s innocence.” “The FBI and [special counsel’s office] made up this prosecution and coerced his plea by multiple means. The result for which we have steadfastly and relentlessly worked is his complete exoneration by the Department of Justice and the judicial system,” Powell said. “We believe it is very important for the Rule of Law and the public’s trust in the system for his case to be dismissed according to the Government’s motion and because of all the newly disclosed evidence of government misconduct and his innocence.”

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Judges questioning their superiors. It’s quite the fashion.

Roger Stone Judge Demands To See Trump Clemency Order (ZH)

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson demanded more information concerning President Trump’s decision to commute the prison sentence of Roger Stone – a longtime ally who avoided a 40-months in prison sentence for making false statements to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team during the Russia investigation. According to AP, Berman Jackson ordered the parties to provide her a copy of Trump’s executive order commuting Stone’s sentence, as well as clarity for the scope of the clemency – including whether Stone’s two-year supervised release is covered by the decision. To answer Berman Jackson’s question, Trump commuted “the entirety of the two-year term of supervised release with all its conditions.”

“The president told reporters on Monday that he was getting “rave reviews” for his action on Stone and restated his position that the Russia investigation “should have never taken place.” Democrats lambasted Trump’s decision as having undermined the rule of law, and Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the only Republican to vote to convict the president during his impeachment trial, called the clemency decision “unprecedented, historic corruption.” Mueller himself defended the Stone prosecution in a Washington Post opinion piece in which he said Stone “remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.” Although presidents have broad authority to commute prison sentences and issue pardons, the brief order from Jackson — who presided over Stone’s trial last year — made clear that the judge still is seeking information and clarity about the clemency, including the actual executive order from the White House. -AP (via WTOP)

The order was entered into the docket several hours later.

Read more …

Oh, and Mery Trump is now free to speak.

Weissmann To Publish Insider Account Of Trump-Russia Investigation (G.)

Andrew Weissmann, an attorney who played a leading role under Robert Mueller in the investigation of Russian election interference, will release a book about the special counsel’s near two-year examination of links between Donald Trump and Moscow. Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation will be published by Random House on 29 September. The publisher promised “a meticulous account of the Mueller team’s probe and its ongoing battles with the Trump administration”. It will be the latest in a lucrative stream of books about Trump, his presidency and the Russia investigation. In court in New York on Monday, the president’s niece, Mary Trump, will find out if a temporary restraining order will be lifted so she can discuss her book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man, which will be published by Simon & Schuster on Tuesday.

In a statement, Weissmann said: “I felt it was necessary to record this episode in our history, as seen and experienced by an insider. “This is the story of our investigation into how our democracy was attacked by Russia and how those who condoned and ignored that assault undermined our ability to uncover the truth. My obligation as a prosecutor was to follow the facts where they led, using all available tools and undeterred by the onslaught of the president’s unique powers to undermine our work.” Weissmann was active on Twitter over the weekend, after Trump announced the commutation of a prison sentence awaiting Roger Stone, an aide and ally, arising from Mueller’s work.

Stone, 67 and suspected of being the link between Russian intelligence, WikiLeaks and the president himself, was convicted on counts of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness intimidation. He had been due to report to prison on Tuesday, to serve a 40-month sentence. [..] Weissmann agreed with the Republican senator Mitt Romney’s description of an instance of “unprecedented, historic corruption” and advocated that Stone be brought in front of a grand jury. There, Weissmann said, Stone would have “three choices: lie and risk prosecution, refuse to testify and be held in civil and criminal contempt, or tell the truth. Let’s do what we can to get at the truth.”

[..] Weissmann said: “I am deeply proud of the work we did, and of the unprecedented number of people we indicted and convicted – and in record speed. “But the hard truth is that we made mistakes. We could have done more. Where Law Ends documents the choices we made, good and bad, for all to see and judge and learn from.”

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Talking about Weissmann, here’s a video from Jan 2019 of Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell talking about Weissman’s role (he was appointed to it by then FBI director Robert Mueller) in the demise of Arthur Andersen.

 

 

You’d think the Special Counsel never fell flat on his face.

Top Mueller Aide Weissmann Calls For Roger Stone To Face Grand Jury (Turley)

One of the most controversial figures selected by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for his investigative team was Andrew Weissmann. While some criticized Weissmann for perceived bias, many of us focused on his record of prosecutorial excess. Now a law professor at New York University, Weissmann appears eager to fulfill both criticisms. After the commutation of Roger Stone, Weissmann called for Stone to be pulled in front of a grand jury. It did not matter that there was no crime under investigation or likely criminal charge based on the use of a presidential power that is virtually absolute. Weissmann seemed to call for the use of the grand jury for a fishing expedition — precisely the type of alleged excessive use of prosecutorial power that he faced at the Justice Department. Weissmann is reportedly writing a book on the investigation with the reported titled “Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation.”

Weissmann wrote “Time to put Roger Stone in the grand jury to find out what he knows about Trump but would not tell. Commutation can’t stop that.” That is certainly true. A commutation does not bar someone from being called into a grand jury. However, ethical prosecutors generally require more than an interest in finding out stuff. Grand juries usually come after an investigation finds probable cause for a crime. There is supposed to be more than a hope and prayer that a grand jury may find a crime. Indeed, this is precisely the type of untethered pursuit that led some of us to criticize the Flynn investigation. In this case, Mueller did not find evidence showing that President Trump or his campaign conspired with the Russian government to obtain hacked emails from the Clinton campaign or Democratic National Committee.

There was no allegation of a crime by Trump linked to the Stone false statements or threats. Stone was convicted on seven counts including one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering. The government proved that Stone had lied to Congress to hide his efforts to contact WikiLeaks. However, he was not accused of lying about knowledge or actions by President Donald Trump. [..] The grand jury is not a device for prosecutorial whim or curiosity. It is a powerful tool that demands a modicum of restraint. Conversely, Weissmann seems to follow Oscar Wilde’s famous observation as a virtual prosecutorial mandate: “I can resist everything except temptation.”

Read more …

 

 

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 092020
 


Berenice Abbott Columbus Circle, Manhattan 1936

 

US COVID19 Cases Rise By Over 60,000, Setting Single-Day Record (R.)
The US Surrendered To The Pandemic. Protect Yourself (MoA)
53% Of Restaurants Closed Amid Coronavirus Have Shuttered Permanently (RD)
United Airlines Sends Furlough Warnings To 36,000 Workers (R.)
US Retail Apocalypse: Over 25,000 Stores Could Close By Year End (ZH)
US Coronavirus Stimulus Reignites China’s Criticism Of Dollar Hegemony (SCMP)
China’s Market Euphoria Trumps Political Risk In Hong Kong (R.)
Some US Government Officials Want To Depeg Hong Kong Dollar (IBT)
Surging Demand for Hong Kong Dollars Underscores Beijing Support (BBG)
UK Judge Orders Christopher Steele To Pay Damages To Russian Bankers (RT)
John Solomon: Indictments Coming In Russia Investigation (WND)
Top US Commander Unconvinced By ‘Russian Bounty To Taliban’ Intel (RT)
Most Americans Believe Russia Targeted US Soldiers (R.)

 

 

COVID, Hong Kong, Russiagate, they’re all familiar subjects. Now come ICU shortages and what can only be called a collapse in US -and international- retail, hospitality and travel industries.

We’re just getting started but everyone wants to think we’re almost done.

The US set a record for new cases, and the world missed it by a hair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tennessee, West Virginia and Utah?!

US COVID19 Cases Rise By Over 60,000, Setting Single-Day Record (R.)

The United States reported more than 60,000 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the biggest increase ever reported by a country in a single day, according to a Reuters tally. The United States faces a bleak summer with record-breaking infections and many states forced to close parts of the economy again, leaving some workers without a paycheck. In addition to nearly 10,000 new cases in Florida, Texas reported over 9,500 cases and California reported more than 8,500 new infections. California and Texas also each reported a record one-day increase in deaths. It was the second day in a row that U.S. deaths climbed by more than 900 in a day, the highest levels seen since early June, according to the tally.


Tennessee, West Virginia and Utah all had record daily increases in new cases, and infections are rising in 42 out of 50 states, according to a Reuters analysis of cases for the past two weeks compared with the prior two weeks. The U.S. tally stood at 60,020 late on Wednesday, with a few local governments not yet reporting. The previous U.S. record for new cases in a day was 56,818 last Friday. The United States has reported over 3 million cases and 132,000 deaths from the virus, putting President Donald Trump’s pandemic strategy under scrutiny.

Read more …

ICU shortages coming up in multiple locations.

The US Surrendered To The Pandemic. Protect Yourself (MoA)

Yesterday the United States registered more than 60,000 new Covid-19 cases. As the number of new cases continues to increase unabated about two weeks from now it is likely to reach hundred thousand new cases per day. The increase of testing is not the cause of higher new case numbers. The rate of people among those who were tested and were found positive has also increased. In Florida, which yesterday had nearly 10,000 new cases, the positive test rate has reached nearly 20%. That means that the epidemic is still accelerating. This did not need to happen. Yesterday Germany, at a quarter the size of the U.S., had 279 new cases. It does 1 million tests per week and the positive rate is decreasing.

China has defeated a new local outbreak in Beijing by testing more than 10 million people. The last two days it reported zero new cases. Many of those who test positive, especially the younger ones, will not fall ill with severe symptoms. But some 10-15% are estimated to need medical support. How many of them will die depends on the quality of care that can be given to them. Some thirty hospitals in Florida have already run out of space in their intensive care units. That is the point where the real emergency begins. Six months after the disease was discovered more is known of how to care for Covid-19 cases. The death rate per cases has therefore decreased. But this only holds when there are sufficient beds, doctors and staff available.


At the current U.S. rate that will soon no longer be the case. We do know that the hospitalization curve follows the testing/symptoms curve by some 10-14 days while ICU admittance follows the above curve with some 15 to 20 days delay. The eventual recovery in an ICU bed takes up to four weeks. A bed once occupied will not be available for quite some time.

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The changes will be gigantic. So will the misery. We just don’t want to know.

53% Of Restaurants Closed Amid Coronavirus Have Shuttered Permanently (RD)

New research from Yelp shows that as of June 15, there were nearly 140,000 total business closures on the website since March 1. When compared to similar research released in April, which showed more than 175,000 business closures, these latest numbers indicate that more than 20% of businesses closed in April have reopened. In March, restaurants had the highest numbers of business closures listed on the app compared to other industries, and the rate of closure has remained high. Of the businesses that closed, 17% are restaurants, and 53% of those restaurant closures are indicated as permanent on Yelp. Retail, however, is the hardest hit overall.

During the peak of the pandemic, the number of diners seated across Yelp Reservations and Waitlist dropped essentially to zero. In early June, numbers of diners seated are down 57% of pre-pandemic levels. Predictions about the restaurant industry’s fate in a post-pandemic world have been abundant throughout the crisis. The National Restaurant Association estimated that 15% of restaurants could close, while Barclay’s estimate is more optimistic, predicting approximately 10% of restaurants will shutter permanently. Though it’s hard to find a silver lining in Yelp’s data, some predictions have been more dire still.


In May, OpenTable said one in four restaurants were at risk for closure, for example, though those numbers focus on restaurants that use the reservations platform. Casual or fine dining sit-down restaurants and mom-and-pop concepts that are not well capitalized are expected to experience the brunt of this crisis. The Independent Restaurant Coalition, for example, forecast that as many as 85% of independent restaurants could permanently close by the end of the year. Yelp’s data does illustrate how some restaurants have been able to weather the storm, however, reporting a 10-fold increase in searches for takeout since March 10, for example. Takeout and delivery searches are up 148%, with Yelp predicting this off-premise trend could be here to stay.

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Retail, travel, hospitality. Much of it will never be back.

United Airlines Sends Furlough Warnings To 36,000 Workers (R.)

United Airlines said on Wednesday it was preparing to send notices of potential furloughs to 36,000 U.S.-based frontline employees, or about 45% of staff, as travel demand hit by the coronavirus pandemic struggles to recover. United shares lost 3.3% in midday trading. Not everyone who receives a notification will be furloughed, United said, with the final number depending on how demand evolves and how many employees accept early exit packages and temporary leaves. The furloughs would begin on Oct. 1, when a government-imposed ban on forced job cuts by airlines that accepted billions of dollars in federal payroll aid expires.


“The United Airlines projected furlough numbers are a gut punch, but they are also the most honest assessment we’ve seen on the state of the industry,” Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) President Sara Nelson said in a statement. The Chicago-based airline continues to burn through about $40 million of cash every day, with a number of efforts to cut costs and raise liquidity failing to compensate for the drastic drop-off in travel demand as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the United States. The furlough warnings vary by work group. Flight attendants are among the hardest hit, with about 15,000 of roughly 25,000 set to receive notifications. United is working with the different unions on options to mitigate the final furlough number.

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Said it a few days ago: A state holding company modeled after Roosevelt’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

US Retail Apocalypse: Over 25,000 Stores Could Close By Year End (ZH)

The unprecedented implosion of U.S. commercial real estate during the coronavirus pandemic is likely to get worse as newly delinquent CMBS loans are surging as the list of retail store closures continues to rise. Trepp’s June CMBS remittance report showed CMBS delinquencies hit a high of 10.32%, not seen since 2012. It was noted that that retail CRE loans were in rough shape. Many retail shops are heavily indebted, some have already declared bankruptcy, while others are quickly shrinking their operating size, by reducing store footprint to rein in cost as the virus-induced recession, blended with a plunge in consumption, along with a shift to online, is resulting in a rapid acceleration of the retail apocalypse. Coresight Research’s latest forecast has upwards of 25,000 retail stores could close by year end.


Forbes has released an updated list of confirmed store closures. So far, it looks like 8,708 store units have or will shutter operations this year, and could quickly surpass 2019 totals of 9,302, in a matter of months. With thousands of retail stores closing and the economy contracting, the next conversation Wall Street will have is about deep economic scarring and permanent job loss. Already, 3 million jobs have been eliminated from the economy, some of which have come from the closure of retail stores. The bad news about permanent job loss is that it’s a consumption killer, resulting in less spending at retailers, suggesting an even greater amount of store closures beyond anyone’s wild guess could be seen over the next 12-24 months.

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They can’t do a thing. They don’t even have the guts to let the yuan float.

US Coronavirus Stimulus Reignites China’s Criticism Of Dollar Hegemony (SCMP)

The US economic policy response to the coronavirus crisis and the threat of financial sanctions on China have reinvigorated criticism in Beijing over the US dollar hegemony, but few analysts see a viable alternative currency emerging any time soon. Chinese officials have recently taken aim at the unprecedented coronavirus stimulus in the United States, which has seen American debt levels balloon and stoked concern in Beijing about the devaluation of the US dollar assets held by Chinese financial institutions. Threats by the US to sanction China over its imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong have also ratcheted up anxiety about being cut off from the US dollar-dominated SWIFT international payments system.

[..] Though the attitude in Beijing may be increasingly wary, few Western economists believe Washington is abusing the power of the US dollar with its coronavirus response. Others point out the impact on exchange rates has so far been relatively mild. “The Federal Reserve, like every other central bank, makes its monetary policy decisions mostly on the basis of domestic considerations,” said Eswar Prasad, the former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division and now a trade professor at Cornell University. The fact its actions “reverberate around the world” are simply a consequence of its policy mandates, which are purely domestic in nature, Prasad added. Continued expansion of US monetary policy amid a protracted global recession is also likely to be positive for the real world economy, and particularly for economies with current account deficits and significant amounts of US dollar-denominated debt, according to analysts.

“Given the US dollar shortage that emerged with Covid, a weaker dollar is still good for the world, relieving funding pressures in both developed markets and emerging markets,” said Steve Englander, global head of North America macro strategy at Standard Chartered Bank. Reform of international monetary policy is likely to take a back seat to efforts to stabilise the global economy from the coronavirus pandemic. But even in the long-term, it is not clear what shape that would take. “In fact, the Fed’s apparent magnanimity in allowing other countries to have access to dollar financing collateralised by their holdings of US Treasuries will pull countries even deeper into the clutches of the dollar,” Prasad said.


A major obstacle is still the absence of an alternative reserve currency, Prasad said. China’s own push to internationalise the yuan has faltered over the past decade, despite its growing economic clout. The most recent figures from the SWIFT system showed that the Chinese currency accounted for just 1.66 per cent of international payment transactions in April versus 43 per cent for the US dollar. Fang Xinghai, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said last month that China’s ability to reduce its reliance on the US dollar would be greatly enhanced if it can boost the international usage of the yuan. A debate about the merits of the US dollar as the major reserve currency is likely to re-emerge after the coronavirus, according to Englander, especially when the liquidity was no longer needed. “[But] the question is which currency do you trust to replace it and what improvement would that make.”

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PBOC is still buying. A lot. Question: with what? Their dollar reserves? They don’t have a lot of those that they can use freely

China’s Market Euphoria Trumps Political Risk In Hong Kong (R.)

The country’s blue-chip CSI300 index hit five-year-highs in recent sessions on a state-endorsed rally and a retail trading frenzy. But Chinese investors and brokerages say they are increasingly drawn by Hong Kong shares, whose gains have been more modest. “Elephants are dancing (in mainland China), but in Hong Kong, many stocks are lying on the floor,” Shen Weizheng, senior advisor at brokerage Direct Access, said during an online pitch to mainland investors on Wednesday. “Buy more Hong Kong stocks. You don’t lose money buying bargains.” Mainland-listed A-shares are on average 35% more expensive than their Hong Kong-listed peers, also called “H-shares” widening from 23% just a month ago.


Share prices of the same company often differ vastly in the two markets. A growing number of U.S-listed Chinese internet companies, including NetEase and JD.com, have chosen to float in Hong Kong through secondary listings amid heightened Sino-U.S. tensions. New York-listed Alibaba, which completed its Hong Kong listing last year, could get the greenlight to enter the benchmark Hang Seng Index .HSI next month. “Capital is flowing into the city. The more intense the rivalry between the U.S. and China, the more unique Hong Kong will be as a centre to welcome back leading Chinese companies listed in the U.S.,” said Hao Hong, managing director at BOCOM International.

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With China seemingly hell-bent on conquering Hong Kong, why would they not?

Some US Government Officials Want To Depeg Hong Kong Dollar (IBT)

Some aides to U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo have suggested that Washington could punish China by compromising the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the U.S. dollar. Tensions between the U.S. and China have been escalating for months, worsened by Beijing’s imposition of new security laws in Hong Kong that some think will eliminate the city-state’s autonomy. Bloomberg reported that one way to undermine the Hong Kong dollar peg would be by restricting the ability of Hong Kong banks to purchase U.S. dollars. The matter has been discussed with Pompeo but not yet with senior members of President Donald Trump’s White House staff.

Hong Kong has linked its currency to the U.S. dollar since 1983 and has generally performed well trading within a narrow band. The proposal would also face obstacles among other U.S. government officials who fear it would just hurt Hong Kong banks and not mainland China itself. Last month, Hong Kong’s financial secretary, Paul Chan said that if the US slapped sanctions on the city-state, then China’s central bank could supply it with American dollars. Eddie Yue, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Hong Kong’s de facto central bank, said that the 36-year old dollar peg predates the 1992 U.S-China Policy Act which features a provision permitting the U.S. dollar “to be freely exchanged” with the Hong Kong dollar.


Yue suggested that the unlikely event of Trump blocking Hong Kong’s access to U.S. dollars would amount to an “apocalyptic” scenario that could backfire on Washington. “With Hong Kong’s financial system closely integrated with the global economic and financial systems, any move that hits our financial system would also send shockwaves across the global financial markets, including the U.S.,” he said. “Confidence of international investors in using the [U.S. dollar] and holding U.S. financial assets could also be undermined.”

Read more …

Again, the PBOC is buying.

Surging Demand for Hong Kong Dollars Underscores Beijing Support (BBG)

Demand for Hong Kong dollars is intensifying in the face of an increasingly politicized environment, with mainland buying helping to buoy both the pegged currency and local stock market. The city’s de facto central bank sold a combined HK$15.8 billion ($2 billion) to purchase the greenback on Wednesday, the biggest intervention since it started defending the peg on the strong end of the trading band in late April. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has now spent almost $12 billion this year to keep the currency from strengthening further. Wednesday’s intervention came shortly after news that some Trump aides are considering plans to undermine the peg mechanism in retribution for Beijing’s crackdown on civil liberties in the former British colony.


Mainland-based investors showed their support for the city through buying more than $1 billion worth of Hong Kong shares on the day. The events show how the city’s financial system is increasingly being caught up in the rivalry between Washington and Beijing. For now, Hong Kong’s markets seem immune to the tensions. Red-hot Chinese equities, a stronger yuan and low valuations have helped push Hong Kong stocks into a bull market. Mainland purchases of local equities since Beijing first announced plans for Hong Kong’s controversial security law are now nearing $9 billion. “Bullish sentiment is pushing short-term funds and liquidity into Hong Kong,” said Banny Lam, managing director at CEB International Capital Corp. “China’s stock market is very hot and you see a lot of people using the stock connect to buy these shares. All these factors are attracting liquidity.”

Read more …

Shouldn’t this be big on CNN?

UK Judge Orders Christopher Steele To Pay Damages To Russian Bankers (RT)

A London judge has ordered former British spy Christopher Steele to pay thousands of pounds in damages for not verifying the claims he included in his scandalous Russian dossier, which alleged Donald Trump’s ties with Moscow. Steele was taken to court by Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, Russian bankers from Alfa Group, who contested one of the key allegations in the paper – that they were responsible for delivering “large amounts of illicit cash” to President Vladimir Putin in the 1990s. Justice Mark Warby of the High Court of England and Wales ruled on Wednesday that Steele’s claim against Fridman and Aven was “inaccurate and misleading.”


Steele’s firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, violated British data privacy law as it “failed to take reasonable steps to verify the allegation,” and will now pay £18,000 pounds (around $22,600) in damages to each of the bankers, Warby said. Fridman said in a statement that he was “delighted” with the outcome of the trial. He has insisted that the dossier’s claims that Alfa Group was somehow a link between the Russian government and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election were absolutely groundless. “Ever since these odious allegations were first made public in January 2017, my partners and I have been resolute and unwavering in our determination to prove that they are untrue, and through this case, we have finally succeeded in doing so,” Fridman said.

Read more …

The MSM will present it as a poltical ploy. All they think they need to do is lift it over the election, and then throw it out.

John Solomon: Indictments Coming In Russia Investigation (WND)

Investigative reporter John Solomon says there’s a “lot of activity” in U.S. Attorney John Durham’s criminal investigation of the Obama administration’s probe of now-debunked claims of Trump-Russia collusion during the 2016 election. “My sources tell me there’s a lot of activity. I’m seeing, personally, activity behind the scenes [showing] the Department of Justice is trying to bring those first indictments,” Solomon said [..] “And I would look for a time around Labor Day to see the first sort of action by the Justice Department.” Solomon said he’s seeing “action consistent with building prosecutions and preparing for criminal plea bargains.”

“Until they bring it before the grand jury you never know if it’s going to happen. I’m seeing activity consistent with that.” Top former officials, including former CIA Director John Brennan, are said to be targets of the Durham investigation. But Attorney General William Barr has said he doesn’t expect Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, to be subjects of a criminal investigation. “There is overwhelming evidence in the public record now that crimes were committed,” Solomon said. He cited “falsification of documents, false testimony, false representations before the FISA court.”


Solomon said he is hearing from defense lawyers and people “on the prosecution side” that complications with the coronavirus pandemic are “slowing down” the grand jury process. WND reported this week Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Durham should launch any prosecutions before the November election. [..] A report from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz found at least 17 “significant” errors or omissions related to the Obama administration’s efforts to use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provisions against Trump.

Read more …

How is this still a topic?

Top US Commander Unconvinced By ‘Russian Bounty To Taliban’ Intel (RT)

Intelligence claiming Russia paid Taliban fighters to target US troops in Afghanistan lacked evidence, the top US general in the region has said. His account crushes yet another sensational media report based on anonymous sources. General Kenneth McKenzie, who oversees military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia as the head of US Central Command, told reporters on Tuesday that unverified reports about Russia having placed “bounties” on American soldiers in Afghanistan have yet to be substantiated. “The intel case wasn’t proved to me – it wasn’t proved enough that I’d take it to a court of law – and you know, that’s often true in battlefield intelligence,” the senior commander said. According to McKenzie, “there wasn’t enough there” to consider the intelligence credible.


He described the reports as “worrisome,” but stressed that there was no “causative link” to support the notion that an alleged bounty program had led to US deaths in Afghanistan. McKenzie’s remarks come a week after an assessment by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) concluded that the intelligence community has reservations about the allegations leveled against Russia. The memo said that the CIA and the National Counterterrorism Center had “medium confidence” in the reports, while the National Security Agency (NSA) and other spy agencies expressed “lower confidence.” [..] Responding to the allegations, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov didn’t mince his words, blasting the unverified US media reports as “100 percent bulls**t.”

Read more …

It doesn’t matter what the top commander thinks, or even what US intelligence admits. The public has been indoctrinated. And that is the goal.

Most Americans Believe Russia Targeted US Soldiers (R.)

A majority of Americans believe that Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan last year amid negotiations to end the war, and more than half want to respond with new economic sanctions against Moscow, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday. The national opinion poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday shows that the American public remains deeply suspicious of Russia four years after it tried to tip the U.S. presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor, and most Americans are unhappy with how the president has handled relations with the country.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll follows a series of reports, including several by Reuters, that Russia had been rewarding Taliban-affiliated militants, possibly by offering them bounties, to attack and kill U.S. troops in the region. Moscow denies the allegations. The New York Times and Washington Post both reported that several American soldiers were believed to have died as a result of the bounties. Trump said last week he was not told about the reported Russian effort, because intelligence officials were uncertain about its veracity. The New York Times reported that the president received written briefings about the program earlier this year, and it was also included in a widely read CIA report in May.


Overall, 60% of Americans said they found reports of Russian bounties on American soldiers to be “very” or “somewhat” believable, while 21% said they were not credible and the rest were unsure. Thirty-nine percent said they thought Trump “did know” about Russia’s targeting of the U.S. military before reports surfaced in the news media last month, while 26% said the president “did not know.” Eighty-one percent of Americans said they viewed Russian President Vladimir Putin as a threat to the United States, including 24% who saw him as an “imminent threat.” Only 35% said they approved of Trump’s handling of Russia, compared with 52% who disapproved.

Read more …

 

 

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May 222020
 


Cave of swimmers, Gilf Kebir plateau, Sahara c6000 BCE

 

Just 7.3% Of Stockholm Had COVID19 Antibodies By End Of April (G.)
Brazil Suffers Record Daily Coronavirus Death Toll, Soon To Be World No. 2 (R.)
Which US States Meet WHO Recommended Testing Criteria? (Johns Hopkins)
US Layoffs Spread Despite Businesses Reopening (R.)
New Zealand Discussing ‘Helicopter Money’ Handouts To Stimulate Economy (R.)
Washington State Loses 100s Of Millions Of Dollars In Unemployment Fraud (ST)
America’s 600+ Billionaires So Far Made $434 Billion During The Pandemic (F.)
US Prepared To Spend Russia, China Into Oblivion To Win Nuclear Arms Race (R.)
Biden Asks Amy Klobuchar To Undergo Vetting As Possible Running Mate (CBS)
Warren Pivots On ‘Medicare For All’ In Bid To Become Biden’s VP (Pol.)
Appeals Court Orders Judge In Flynn Case To Explain Actions (JTN)
The Railroading of Michael Flynn (Lake)
Russiagate Began With Obama’s Iran Deal Domestic Spying Campaign (Tablet)

 

 

Another record in global new cases over past 24 hrs at 109,627:

• US + 28,215
• Brazil + 17,564
• Russia + 8,894
• India + 7,784
• Peru + 4,749
• Chile + 3,964
• Mexico + 2,973
• Pakistan + 2,603
• Saudi Arabia + 2,532

New deaths
• US + 1,503
• Brazil + 1,188
• Mexico +357
• UK +338

 

 

 

Cases 5,218,496 (+ 109,627 from yesterday’s 5,108,869)

Deaths 335,069 (+ 4,987 from yesterday’s 330,082)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Herd immunity is a failed figment of the imagination, and not one to experiment on the entire population of a country with.

Just 7.3% Of Stockholm Had COVID19 Antibodies By End Of April (G.)

Just 7.3% of Stockholm’s inhabitants had developed Covid-19 antibodies by the end of April, according to a study, raising concerns that the country’s light-touch approach to the coronavirus may not be building up broad immunity. The research by Sweden’s public health agency comes as neighbouring Finland warned that it would be risky to welcome tourists from Sweden after figures suggested the country’s death rate per capita was the highest in Europe over the seven days to 19 May. Sweden’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, said the Stockholm antibodies figure was “a bit lower than we’d thought”, but added that it reflected the situation some weeks ago and he believed that by now “a little more than 20%” of the capital’s population had probably contracted the virus.


However, the public health agency had previously said it expected about 25% to have been infected by 1 May and Tom Britton, a maths professor who helped develop its forecasting model, said the figure from the study was surprising. “It means either the calculations made by the agency and myself are quite wrong, which is possible, but if that’s the case it’s surprising they are so wrong,” he told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter. “Or more people have been infected than developed antibodies.” Björn Olsen, a professor of infectious medicine at Uppsala University, said herd immunity was a “dangerous and unrealistic” approach. “I think herd immunity is a long way off, if we ever reach it,” he said after the release of the antibody findings.

Read more …

They’re only just starting.

Brazil Suffers Record Daily Coronavirus Death Toll, Soon To Be World No. 2 (R.)

Brazil suffered a record of 1,188 daily coronavirus deaths on Thursday and is fast approaching Russia to become the world’s No. 2 COVID-19 hot spot behind the United States. Brazil also passed 20,000 deaths on Thursday and has 310,087 confirmed cases, up over 18,500 in a single day, according to Health Ministry data. The true numbers are likely higher but Brazil has not carried out widespread testing, the ministry said. President Jair Bolsonaro is under growing pressure for his handling of the outbreak, which looks set to destroy the Brazilian economy and threatens his re-election hopes.


He strongly opposes social distancing measures and has repeatedly pushed for greater usage of chloroquine as a remedy for the virus, despite health experts’ warnings about risks. Bolsonaro’s relationship with governors and mayors has also grown increasingly bitter. The president is angry over local shutdowns to slow the spread of the virus and argues that keeping the economy running is more important. Bolsonaro said he will approve on Thursday or Friday a 60 billion-real ($10.72 billion) federal aid program for states and cities hit by coronavirus but asked governors for support freezing public sector pay increases.

Read more …

An unfortunate format for the graph. Click the link to the original for a somewhat better version.

Which US States Meet WHO Recommended Testing Criteria? (Johns Hopkins)

On May 12, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) advised governments that before reopening, rates of positivity in testing (ie, out of all tests conducted, how many came back positive for COVID-19) of should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14 days. If a positivity rate is too high, that may indicate that the state is only testing the sickest patients who seek medical attention, and is not casting a wide enough net to know how much of the virus is spreading within its communities. A low rate of positivity in testing data can be seen as a sign that a state has sufficient testing capacity for the size of their outbreak and is testing enough of its population to make informed decisions about reopening.

Which U.S. states are testing enough to meet the WHO’s goal? The graph below compares states’ rate of positivity to the recommended positivity rate of 5% or below. States that meet the WHO’s recommended criteria appear in green, while the states that are not testing enough to meet the positivity benchmark are in orange.

Read more …

Time to assess what jobs will never return. There will be millions.

US Layoffs Spread Despite Businesses Reopening (R.)

Millions more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, more than two months after a shutdown of the country to deal with the coronavirus crisis, pointing to a second wave of layoffs in industries not initially impacted by closures caused by the pandemic. The Labor Department’s weekly jobless claims report on Thursday, the most timely data on the economy’s health, also showed the number of people on unemployment rolls surging to a record high in early May, suggesting that businesses were probably not rushing to rehire workers as they reopen.

This also raises questions about the efficacy of the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. A broad lockdown of the country in mid-March to contain the spread of COVID-19 initially led to layoffs in mostly low-wage consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and retailers. But economists say weak demand was causing layoffs in other industries like utilities, information, finance and insurance, and education. “This raises the possibility that new private and public sector cutbacks may be creating a major barrier to stopping the labor market bleeding,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics in Holland, Pennsylvania.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 2.438 million in the week ended May 16, down from 2.687 million in the prior week, the government said. Last week’s claims reading [..] marked the seventh straight weekly decline. First-time claims have been gradually decreasing since hitting a record 6.867 million in the week ended March 28. Still they remained more than triple their peak during the 2007/09 Great Recession. The elevated claims have also been blamed on backlogs after the unprecedented amount of applications overwhelmed state unemployment offices.

[..] Attention is shifting from new claimants for jobless benefits to the number of people still on aid. These so-called continuing claims numbers are reported with a one-week lag, but are considered a better gauge of the labor market. They offer a glimpse into how soon the economy ramps up and companies’ ability to get people off unemployment or keep workers on payrolls as they access their share of a historic fiscal package worth nearly $3 trillion, which offered loans that could be partially forgiven if they were used for employee salaries. Continuing claims surged 2.525 million to a record 25.073 million in the week ending May 9.

Read more …

Nice size economy to try something like it. But they dare not call it UBI.

New Zealand Discussing ‘Helicopter Money’ Handouts To Stimulate Economy (R.)

New Zealand is considering distributing free cash directly to individuals as a way of policy stimulus to help boost the economy reeling from a COVID-19 pandemic driven contraction, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said on Friday. At a regular news conference Robertson was asked to share details about the government’s plans for launching ‘helicopter money’ – whether it would be the central bank printing money and distributing it or the government increasing its borrowing and then handing it out. Robertson said the concept was being discussed but “it’s not something that has got to that level of discussion at all.” “I am pretty keen on making sure that fiscal policy remains the role of the government,” he added.


The idea of helicopter money, or dumping cash unexpectedly onto a struggling economy, is slowly gaining currency among economists and policymakers as the pandemic looks to inflict the worst blow to global growth since the Great Depression in the 1930s. None of the wealthy countries have embarked on it, though, citing risks such as central bank independence and the risk of flaring long-term inflation. In a helicopter money drop, a central bank would directly increase the money supply and, via the government, distribute the new cash to the population with the aim of boosting demand and inflation.

Read more …

An entire state run by gullible grandmas.

Washington State Loses 100s Of Millions Of Dollars In Unemployment Fraud (ST)

Washington state officials have acknowledged the loss of “hundreds of millions of dollars” to an international fraud scheme that hammered the state’s unemployment insurance system and could mean even longer delays for thousands of jobless workers still waiting for legitimate benefits. Suzi LeVine, commissioner of the state Employment Security Department (ESD), disclosed the staggering losses during a news conference Thursday afternoon. LeVine declined to specify how much money was stolen during the scam, which is believed to be orchestrated from Nigeria. But she conceded that the amount was “orders of magnitude above” the $1.6 million that the ESD reported losing to fraudsters in April.

LeVine said state and law enforcement officials were working to recover as much of the money as possible, though she declined to say how much had been returned so far. She also said the ESD had taken “a number of steps” to prevent new fraudulent claims from being filed or paid but would not specify the steps, to avoid alerting criminals. “We do have definitive proof that the countermeasures we have put in place are working,” LeVine said. “We have successfully prevented hundreds of millions of additional dollars from going out to these criminals and prevented thousands of fraudulent claims from being filed.”

Thursday’s disclosure, which came after state officials had largely refused to discuss the scale of the fraud, helped explain the unusual surge in the number of new jobless claims filed last week in Washington. For the week ending May 16, the ESD received 138,733 initial claims for unemployment insurance, a 26.8% increase over the prior week and one of the biggest weekly surges since the coronavirus crisis began. That sharp increase came as the number of initial jobless claims nationwide fell 9.2%, to 2.4 million, according to data released earlier in the day by the Labor Department.

Read more …

Since they won’t stop it, and it can’t last either, it’s up to you.

America’s 600+ Billionaires So Far Made $434 Billion During The Pandemic (F.)

America’s billionaires saw their wealth increase by $434 billion during the course of the global pandemic, according to a new report, a staggering figure that coincided with upheaval to the global economy and more than 38 million Americans filing for unemployment. Per the report by Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies’ Program for Inequality, between March 18 and May 19, the total net worth of the 600-plus U.S. billionaires jumped by $434 billion or 15%, based on the group’s analysis of Forbes data. The top five U.S. billionaires (Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison) saw their wealth grow by a total of $75.5 billion.


Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has seen his net worth grow 30.6% in the past two months, boosting it to $147.6 billion; the fortunes of Bezos and Zuckerberg combined grew by nearly $60 billion, or 14% of the $434 billion total. Tech stocks have continued to rise, with both Facebook and Amazon hitting new all-time highs on Wednesday. While the technology sector has remained strong, many Americans in other markets haven’t been nearly as fortunate, as evidenced by an additional 2.4 million workers filing for temporary unemployment benefits last week, and with 47% of adults reporting that they or another person in their household has lost income since mid-March. Low-income earners have been hit hardest over the last two months, as almost 40% of people working in February and earning less than $40,000 annually have lost their jobs over the last month.

Read more …

They know the US has already lost the arms race, but A) you can’t explain that to the people, and B) the industry must be kept well-fed.

US Prepared To Spend Russia, China Into Oblivion To Win Nuclear Arms Race (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump’s arms control negotiator on Thursday said the United States is prepared to spend Russia and China “into oblivion” in order to win a new nuclear arms race. “The president has made clear that we have a tried and true practice here. We know how to win these races and we know how to spend the adversary into oblivion. If we have to, we will, but we sure would like to avoid it,” Special Presidential Envoy Marshall Billingslea said in an online presentation to a Washington think tank.

Read more …

Just in case he still doubted he does NOT intend to win.

Biden Asks Amy Klobuchar To Undergo Vetting As Possible Running Mate (CBS)

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, has been asked by Joe Biden to undergo a formal vetting to be considered as his vice presidential running mate, one of several potential contenders now being scrutinized by his aides ahead of a final decision, according to people familiar with the moves. In an interview with Stephen Colbert on Thursday night, Biden said “no one’s been vetted yet by the team” but confirmed the initial preliminary outreach to gauge interest is “coming to an end now.” Biden said the “invasive” vetting process will soon begin. When pressed on Klobuchar’s chances of making his running mate “short list,” Biden responded positively: “Amy’s first rate, don’t get me wrong.”


The request for information from potential running mates like Klobuchar “is underway,” a senior Biden campaign aide tells CBS News. If a potential contender consents, she should be poised to undergo a rigorous multi-week review of her public and private life and work by a hand-picked group of Biden confidantes, who will review tax returns, public speeches, voting records, past personal relationships and potentially scandalous details from her past. While several are expected to consent to a vetting, at least one potential contender has bowed out. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, who is running for reelection this year, declined Biden’s invitation to be considered, according to a person familiar with her decision. But Senator Maggie Hassan, the other New Hampshire senator, has agreed to be vetted, according to local news reports.

Read more …

https://twitter.com/megslay27/status/1263591562476285954

Warren Pivots On ‘Medicare For All’ In Bid To Become Biden’s VP (Pol.)

In the thick of primary season, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden brawled over “Medicare for All”: He called her approach “angry,” “elitist,” “condescending”; she shot back, anyone who defends the health care status quo with industry talking points is “running in the wrong presidential primary.” Six months later, with Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee and Warren in the running for VP, she is striking a more harmonious chord. “I think right now people want to see improvements in our health care system, and that means strengthening the Affordable Care Act,” she told students at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics this week, while adding that she still wants to get to single payer eventually.


The shift is the latest public signal Warren has sent Biden’s way in recent weeks that she wants the job of vice president — and wants Biden to see her as a loyal governing partner despite their past clashes, which go back decades. Warren’s policy-centered, team-player pitch is counting on Biden caring more about Jan. 20 than Nov. 3, when he makes his vice presidential pick. In other words, that the current crisis has elevated governing concerns above political ones — and that the times call for someone with her policy chops and, yes, plans.

Read more …

The power of Sidney Powell.

Appeals Court Orders Judge In Flynn Case To Explain Actions (JTN)

A federal appeals court Thursday has agreed to hear a request from Michael Flynn’s legal team to remove the district judge overseeing his case, and has also ordered the judge to explain his controversial and unorthodox conduct in handling it. Judge Emmett Sullivan has been given a June 1 deadline to respond. The government has also been invited to “respond in its discretion” during that window. Flynn’s legal team had filed a request on Tuesday asking the appeals court to remove Judge Emmett Sullivan from the case, claiming the judge was biased against the defendant. Following the Justice Department’s request earlier this month to dismiss the case against Flynn, Sullivan had appointed retired federal Judge John Gleeson to file an amicus curiae brief arguing in favor of not dropping the case against the general.


Flynn’s lawyers sharply criticized Sullivan’s handling of the case. “The district judge’s latest actions – failing to grant the Government’s Motion to Dismiss, appointing a biased and highly-political amicus who has expressed hostility and disdain towards the Justice Department’s decision to dismiss the prosecution, and the promise to set a briefing schedule for widespread amicus participation in further proceedings – bespeaks a judge who is not only biased against Petitioner, but also revels in the notoriety he has created by failing to take the simple step of granting a motion he has no authority to deny,” the Tuesday petition read.

Read more …

Good long overview.

The Railroading of Michael Flynn (Lake)

As it happens, the FBI case manager for the Flynn investigation, Joe Pientka, had indeed drafted a memo closing the Flynn investigation—but he hadn’t filed it formally. Because of Pientka’s “incompetence” (the word was Peter Strzok’s, in a delighted text exchange on January 4, 2017, with his paramour Page), the probe was not shut down and a new predicate wasn’t required. In his motion to dismiss the prosecution of Flynn, U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea said this “sidestepped a modest but critical protection that constrains the investigative reach of law enforcement: the predication threshold for investigating American citizens.”

Until the end of April 2020, Pientka’s memo was kept from Flynn’s counsel and the public. It has been released only now because career U.S. attorney Jeffrey Jensen completed his review of Flynn’s case and declassified documents relevant to it. The Pientka memo provides far more detail on the status of the Flynn investigation than was previously known—and what it shows isn’t pretty. We learn from the memo that after the FBI ran down a lead provided by a confidential human source about Flynn’s contact with a person with links to the Russian state, the bureau could not confirm that any such relationship ever existed. That source was likely Stefan Halper, a fellow at Cambridge University and an intelligence community insider. Halper was being paid by the U.S. government to inform on Flynn as well as another Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos.

Flynn’s suspected contact, whose name is redacted in the memo, is likely Svetlana Lokhova. She is a Russian-born academic who, the Guardian and other news outlets reported in 2017, had traveled in the same car with Flynn as they left a Cambridge University seminar in 2016. These stories made it seem as if Lokhova was luring Flynn into a honey trap, during which sex is offered for blackmail leverage later on. “The CIA and FBI were discussing this episode, along with many others, as they assessed Flynn’s suitability to serve as national security adviser,” the Guardian reported.

The Lokhova story was a smear. Two months after it was published, the Guardian was forced to append an embarrassing correction. The correction read in part, “Her lawyers have also subsequently informed us that she does not have privileged access to any Russian intelligence archive. We also wish to make clear, for the avoidance of doubt, that there is no suggestion that Lokhova has ever worked with or for any of the Russian intelligence agencies.” Last year, Lokhova sued Halper and several news organizations for the smear against her.

https://twitter.com/SidneyPowell1/status/1263557289950228481

Read more …

Flynn was opposed to it. He had to go.

Russiagate Began With Obama’s Iran Deal Domestic Spying Campaign (Tablet)

Obama and his foreign policy team were hardly the only people in Washington who had their knives out for Michael Flynn. Nearly everyone did, especially the FBI. As former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s spy service, and a career intelligence officer, Flynn knew how and where to find the documentary evidence of the FBI’s illegal spying operation buried in the agency’s classified files—and the FBI had reason to be terrified of the new president’s anger. The United States Intelligence Community (USIC) as a whole was against the former spy chief, who was promising to conduct a Beltway-wide audit that would force each of the agencies to justify their missions.

Flynn told friends and colleagues he was going to make the entire senior intelligence service hand in their resignations and then detail why their work was vital to national security. Flynn knew the USIC well enough to know that thousands of higher-level bureaucrats wouldn’t make the cut. Flynn had enemies at the very top of the intelligence bureaucracy. In 2014, he’d been fired as DIA head. Under oath in February of that year, he told the truth to a Senate committee—ISIS was not, as the president had said, a “JV team.” They were a serious threat to American citizens and interests and were getting stronger. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers then summoned Flynn to the Pentagon and told him he was done.

“Flynn’s warnings that extremists were regrouping and on the rise were inconvenient to an administration that didn’t want to hear any bad news,” says former DIA analyst Oubai Shahbandar. “Flynn’s prophetic warnings would play out exactly as he’d warned shortly after he was fired.” Flynn’s firing appeared to be an end to one of the most remarkable careers in recent American intelligence history. He made his name during the Bush administration’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where soldiers in the field desperately needed intelligence, often collected by other combat units. But there was a clog in the pipeline—the Beltway’s intelligence bureaucracy, which had a stranglehold over the distribution of intelligence.

Flynn described the problem in a 2010 article titled “Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan,” co-written with current Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger. “Moving up through levels of hierarchy,” they wrote, “is normally a journey into greater degrees of cluelessness.” Their solution was to cut Washington out of the process: Americans in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan needed that information to accomplish their mission.

Read more …

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May 212020
 


Charles Camoin Village Street in Collioure 1912

 

Don’t Count On Vaccine, US Scientist Warns (G.)
42% Of Recent US Layoffs To Result In Permanent Job Loss – Study (Y!)
Sweden Had Highest Coronavirus Death Rate Per Capita In Last Week (Tel.)
YouTube Censors Video In Which Medical Doctors Said HCQ Might Help (JTN)
Media Matters and its Propaganda About Hydroxycholoroquine (Attkisson)
Apple-Google Contact Tracing Tech Draws Interest In 23 Countries (R.)
Andrew Cuomo’s No Hero. He’s To Blame For New York Coronavirus Catastrophe (G.)
Senate Passes Bill On Oversight Of Chinese Companies (CNBC)
First as Tragedy, Then as Farce: The Collapse of the Sanders Campaign (AA)
Another Bank Bailout Under Cover of a Virus (Ellen Brown)
Turn Out the Lights, Russiagate is Over (Ray McGovern)
US Supreme Court Blocks Disclosure Of Mueller Grand Jury Material (R.)
FBI Offered To Pay Steele ‘Significantly’ To Dig Up Dirt On Michael Flynn (DC)
Susan Rice Email Confirms Flynn Was Targeted In Oval Office Meeting (Fed.)
Judge Orders Attorney Steven Donziger Under House Arrest Until September (IC)

 

 

• US 21,173 new cases in past 24 hrs

• Brazil 21,472 new cases, will overtake Russia for no. 2 spot this week

• Globally, over 100,000 new cases, a new record.

The virus is spreading, and often to vulnerable areas. India, Peru, Pakistan, Chile. Rising deaths numbers to follow, if properly reported

 

 

https://twitter.com/i/status/1263196507169316864

 

 

 

Cases 5,108,869 (+ 102,194 from yesterday’s 5,006,675)

Deaths 330,082 (+ 4,762 from yesterday’s 325,320)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

“Do not listen to the politicians who say we’re going to have one by the time my re-election comes around..”

Don’t Count On Vaccine, US Scientist Warns (G.)

A top US scientist has said that people should not count on a Covid-19 vaccine being developed any time soon, as global infections passed 5 million after surges in Latin America, including Brazil, which has recorded nearly 20,000 new cases. William Haseltine, the groundbreaking cancer, HIV/AIDS and human genome projects researcher, has said the best approach to the pandemic is to manage the disease through careful tracing of infections and strict isolation measures whenever it starts spreading. He said that while a vaccine could be developed, “I wouldn’t count on it”, and urged people to wear masks, wash hands, clean surfaces and keep a distance. “Do not listen to the politicians who say we’re going to have one by the time my re election comes around,” he said.


“Maybe we will (but) I’m just saying it’s not a slam-dunk case by any means … because every time people have tried to make a vaccine – for Sars or Mers – it hasn’t actually protected.” Vaccines developed previously for other types of coronavirus had failed to protect mucous membranes in the nose where the virus typically enters the body, he said. The United States and other countries has not done enough to “forcibly isolate” people exposed to the virus, Haseltine said, but praised China, South Korea and Taiwan’s efforts to curb infections. Haseltine said the US, Russia and Brazil – which rank first, second and third for infections – have done the worst. As global infections passed 5 million, Brazil reported a record 19,951 cases on Wednesday, according to the ministry of health, taking total infections to 291,579.

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Why bailing out businesses is a bad idea.

42% Of Recent US Layoffs To Result In Permanent Job Loss – Study (Y!)

Permanent job losses are likely to be a feature of the eventual U.S. recovery, according to University of Chicago research, which estimates that 42% of recently unemployed workers will not return to their jobs amid the “profound” shock stemming from coronavirus lockdowns. The pandemic has taken a brutal toll on the world’s largest economy, with at least 36 million people thrown out of work over the last two months. With states gradually relaxing restrictions that have shut down businesses and locked workers at home, economists are forecasting at least some of those employers could rehire laid off workers. However, researchers at the U of C’s Becker Institute for Economics have painted a dour picture of the labor market reallocating those lost positions.

Calling the crisis a “major reallocation shock” across all major economic sectors, the authors found that for every 10 coronavirus-induced job losses, only 3 were created. Some employers — primarily Amazon and Walmart — have hired en masse to deal with temporary demand spikes, yet the Chicago study suggests positions created during the COVID-19 crisis are unlikely to offset the labor market’s extreme bloodletting. The lockdowns have cratered activity in an economy that consists of 70% consumer spending, while undoing all of the jobs created since the great recession ended. “Even if medical advances or natural forces bring an early resolution to the crisis, many pandemic-induced shifts in consumer demand and business practices will persist,” wrote [..] the study’s authors.

They cautioned that a litany of reasons — such as generous unemployment benefits that exceed their lost job earnings, policies to encourage companies to keep people on the payroll and other regulatory factors “will impede reallocation responses to the COVID-19 shock.” As a result, “much of the near-term reallocative impact of the pandemic will also persist, as indicated by our forward-looking reallocation measures,” they wrote, adding that “42 percent of recent layoffs will result in permanent job loss.” “If the pandemic and partial economic shutdown linger for many months, or if pandemics with serious health consequences and high mortality rates become a recurring phenomenon, there will be profound, long-term consequences for the reallocation of jobs, workers and capital across firms and locations,” the U of C’s researchers wrote.

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Nobody counts for just a week. But Sweden has major problems. Their numbers are going up, not down.

Sweden Had Highest Coronavirus Death Rate Per Capita In Last Week (Tel.)

Sweden has now overtaken the UK, Italy and Belgium to have the highest coronavirus per capita death rate in the world, throwing its decision to avoid a strict lockdown into further doubt. According to figures collated by the Our World in Data website, Sweden had 6.08 deaths per million inhabitants per day on a rolling seven-day average between May 13 and May 20. This is the highest in the world, above the UK, Belgium and the US, which have 5.57, 4.28 and 4.11 respectively. However, Sweden has only had the highest death rate over the past week, with Belgium, Spain, Italy, the UK and France, still ahead over the entire course of the pandemic. State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the spokesman for Sweden’s outlier coronavirus strategy, dismissed the figures on Tuesday night, arguing that it was misleading to focus on the death toll over a single week….

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We were having a discussion in the Comments at the Automatic Earth the other day, specifically about “hemolytic anemia in people with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency”, a problem linked to Chloroquine (CQ), but not Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). 400 million people worldwide, and 1 in 10 African-American males in the U.S have G6PD deficiency.

It was mentioned that the closely related primaquine (not chloroquine) appears to be the drug of choice to fight malaria worldwide, and that primaquine also is problematic for G6PD-deficient patients. Though the numbers don’t reflect that: “In six decades of primaquine use in approximately 200 million people, 14 deaths have been reported.” Not a big issue. If that is what is meant by the danger imposed by hydroxychloroquine, I’ll take it.

And there was this curious line: “G6PD deficiency provides great protection from malaria infection, especially for falciparum infections. On the other hand, G6PD deficiency has been recently demonstrated to cause serious problems in fighting against malaria.

YouTube Censors Video In Which Medical Doctors Said HCQ Might Help (JTN)

YouTube on Wednesday reinstated a video it has previously censored in which several medical doctors suggested that the drug hydroxychloroquine might be useful in treating coronavirus, with the company reportedly claiming at the time of censorship that the presentation was “dangerous.” The video report, presented by Sharyl Attkisson at Full Measure News, examined the possible benefits of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 and the possible financial interest some parties have in downplaying the drug and promoting a separate treatment called remdesivir. One of the doctors interviewed in the video, William O’Neill, tells Attkisson, also a Just the News contributor, that there is “some value” to hydroxychloroquine and “it has to be tested.”

O’Neill, a cardiologist in Detroit, has prescribed the drug to multiple patients and “saw improvement in all of them,” Attkisson reported. At the Henry Ford Health System, where O’Neill works, officials are working with hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir. The doctor said the media campaign against the drug, which began around the time President Trump first started touting it, has left patients “scared to use the drug without any scientifically valid concern.” “We’ve talked with our colleagues at the University of Minnesota who are doing a similar study, and at the University of Washington,” he said. “We’ve treated 400 patients and haven’t seen a single adverse event. And what’s happening is because of this fake news and fake science, the true scientific efforts are being harmed because people now are so worried that they don’t want to enroll in the trials.”

Another physician, Dr. Jane Orient, the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons as well as a clinical lecturer at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, urged viewers to “look at the money” when it comes to the two drugs. “There’s no big profits made in hydroxychloroquine,” said Orient. “It’s very cheap, easy to manufacture, been around for 70 years. It’s generic. Remdesivir is a new drug that could be very expensive and very lucrative if it’s ever approved. So I think we really do have to consider there’s some financial interest involved here.” Sharyl Attkisson on Wednesday afternoon told Just the News that it wasn’t immediately clear when the video was removed

It was originally uploaded to YouTube two days ago. Attkisson said YouTube had removed the presentation with a note claiming that it was “dangerous,” without offering any explanation as to why. She said Full Measure News appealed the removal, after which YouTube subsequently reinstated it. Attkisson cited a critical report by Media Matters, published the same day as her report, as the likely cause of the removal. “These are organized efforts,” she said, arguing that politically biased parties are behind efforts to remove or censor contrarian information on social media. “They know they can use these systems to limit information. It’s very frightening because I feel like if something’s not done, in five years, we’re going to be telling our kids, ‘There was once a time we could get any information we wanted on the Internet.’ That’s changing. We can’t anymore.”

She noted recent efforts by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to pressure social media companies to censor and downgrade “harmful” coronavirus-related material and push users instead toward information from the World Health Organization. “I don’t know why we’re allowing this,” Attkisson said. “Nobody appointed Adam Schiff to police our content on social media.”

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Sharyl Attkisson also has some personal pain.

Media Matters and its Propaganda About Hydroxycholoroquine (Attkisson)

For most thinking Americans, it is unnecessary to bother to fact check the propaganda group Media Matters. If they have heard of Media Matters at all, they typically understand it’s a smear group funded by donors with political and corporate interests whose names are kept secret. (The last big Media Matters donor whose name was publicly revealed years ago was that of liberal billionaire activist George Soros.) The problem is, too many news organizations and even journalism groups such as Poynter use Media Matters and their affiliates as if they are legitimate news sources. They are either unforgviably ignorant of Media Matters’ slants— or choose to keep readers in the dark because they agree with the slant. One major interest Media Matters and its affiliates have served over the years is that of the pharmaceutical industry. They often smear scientists and journalists who report on prescription drug and vaccine safety issues, falsely labelling them as “anti-vaccine.”


The segment mentioned both positive and negative scientific findings about hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir. It did not attempt to take a comprehensive look at all of the studies underway or completed (there are hundreds); or their methodology, limits and criticism. It was to show that some well regarded, peer-reviewed, independent, published scientists who are actually studying hydroxychloroquine, and have no financial connections to the makers of the drug, have a different opinion than what has been widely presented in the media. It was also to show that the government, academic institutions and hospitals are actively studying hydroxycholorquine as both a preventive agent and treatment for coronavirus. Further, the esteemed scientists consulted do not agree with Media Matters’ spin on the topic, and it is their prerogative to present their scientific opinion. It’s important to hear from scientists who hold differing views on matters of public health importance.

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It can be done safely, but will it?

Apple-Google Contact Tracing Tech Draws Interest In 23 Countries (R.)

Authorities in 23 countries across five continents have sought access to contact tracing technology from Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google, the companies announced on Wednesday as they released the initial version of their system. But authorities would have to stop requiring phone numbers from users under the companies’ rules, one of several restrictions that have left governments fighting the novel coronavirus frustrated that the world’s top two smartphone software makers undercut the technology’s usefulness by prioritizing user privacy. Apple and Google said several U.S. states and 22 countries have sought access to their technology, but it is unclear how many will end up publishing mobile apps that use it.

Using apps to accelerate contact tracing, in which authorities identify and test people who were recently near a virus carrier, has emerged as a tool to stem new outbreaks. It could help authorities test more potentially infected individuals than they would normally be able to based on patients recalling recent interactions from memory. But some governments contend their app-based efforts would be more effective if they could track users’ locations to identify hot spots for virus transmission and notify them about possible exposure through calls or texts, rather than a generic push notification. Apple and Google have barred authorities using their technology from collecting GPS location data or requiring users to enter personal data.

“We have a collision of tech, privacy and health professionals and the Venn diagram doesn’t really have a spot where they all overlap,” said Chester Wisniewski, a principal research scientist at cybersecurity company Sophos. Australia, the United Kingdom and other countries that have sought to develop their own technology are experiencing glitches, draining device batteries and seeing limited adoption. Apple and Google have said their system will more reliably use Bluetooth connections between devices to log users who are in physical proximity for at least five minutes.

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You can say this about almost every “leader”. Incompetence.

Andrew Cuomo’s No Hero. He’s To Blame For New York Coronavirus Catastrophe (G.)

Andrew Cuomo may be the most popular politician in the country. His approval ratings have hit all-time highs thanks to his Covid-19 response. Some Democrats have discussed him as a possible replacement for Joe Biden, due to Biden’s perceived weakness as a nominee. And there have even been some unfortunate tributes to Cuomo’s alleged sex appeal. All of which is bizarre, because Cuomo should be one of the most loathed officials in America right now. ProPublica recently released a report outlining catastrophic missteps by Cuomo and the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, which probably resulted in many thousands of needless coronavirus cases. ProPublica offers some appalling numbers contrasting what happened in New York with the outbreak in California.

By mid-May, New York City alone had almost 20,000 deaths, while in San Francisco there had been only 35, and New York state as a whole suffered 10 times as many deaths as California. Federal failures played a role, of course, but this tragedy was absolutely due, in part, to decisions by the governor. Cuomo initially “reacted to De Blasio’s idea for closing down New York City with derision”, saying it “was dangerous” and “served only to scare people”. He said the “seasonal flu was a graver worry”. A spokesperson for Cuomo “refused to say if the governor had ever read the state’s pandemic plan”. Later, Cuomo would blame the press, including the New York Times for failing to say “Be careful, there’s a virus in China that may be in the United States?” even though the Times wrote nearly 500 stories on the virus before the state acted.

Experts told ProPublica that “had New York imposed its extreme social distancing measures a week or two earlier, the death toll might have been cut by half or more”. But delay was not the only screw-up. Elderly prisoners have died of coronavirus because New York has failed to act on their medical parole requests. As Business Insider documented: “Testing was slow. Nonprofit social-service agencies that serve the most vulnerable couldn’t get answers either. And medical experts like the former CDC director Tom Frieden said ‘so many deaths could have been prevented’ had New York issued its stay-at-home order just ‘days earlier’ than it did. On March 19, when New York’s schools had already been closed, Cuomo said ‘in many ways, the fear is more dangerous than the virus.’”

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Keeping China out of the US.

Senate Passes Bill On Oversight Of Chinese Companies (CNBC)

The Senate passed legislation on Wednesday that could ban many Chinese companies from listing shares on U.S. exchanges or raising money from American investors without adhering to Washington’s regulatory and audit standards. The bill, sponsored by Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy, would require companies to certify that “they are not owned or controlled by a foreign government.” Alibaba, an e-commerce giant based in China, saw its U.S.-listed shares fall more than 2% on the news. Though the law could be applied to any foreign company that seeks access to U.S. capital, lawmakers say the move to strengthen disclosure requirements is aimed principally at Beijing.


“The Chinese Communist Party cheats, and the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act would stop them from cheating on U.S. stock exchanges,” Kennedy, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, wrote Tuesday afternoon on Twitter. “We can’t let foreign threats to Americans’ retirement funds take root in our exchanges.” Specifically, the statute would require a foreign company to certify it’s not owned or manipulated by a foreign government if the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is unable to audit specified reports because the company uses a foreign accounting firm not subject to inspection by the board. If the board is unable to inspect the company’s accounting firm for three consecutive years, the issuer’s securities are banned from trade on a national exchange.

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Things are leaking from inside the campaign, in particular accusations that Bernie was taking money from rich people. I stopped being interested when he sold out his small donors a second time.

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce: The Collapse of the Sanders Campaign (AA)

The Warren rationalization also raises the question of why so many pro-Bernie commentators and publications were writing pro-Warren commentary until just a few months ago, with many of them even condemning her left-wing critics as toxic before moving in lockstep against her when it was too late. Notably, these same publications and personalities were ruthlessly hostile toward Tulsi Gabbard – a relatively minor candidate electorally speaking, but one who actually defended Sanders at critical junctures, including when he was under attack by Warren. After Liz ambushed Bernie with a far-fetched story purporting to cast him as a malevolent sexist, it was Tulsi who rose to his defense. (Sanders advisers eventually admitted that the sexism attack “inflicted permanent damage” on his candidacy.)


And when Warren mused that it might, after all, be just fine for superdelegates to thwart Sanders’s nomination even if he entered the convention with the most pledged delegates, Gabbard was the only other candidate to object. And when Sanders permitted himself to be “Russiagated” in the critical period before the South Carolina primary – appearing to accept the nonsensical premise of a Washington Post article alleging that the all-powerful Vladimir Putin was once again “interfering” in U.S. democracy, this time on Sanders’s behalf – it again fell to Gabbard to defend him more vigorously than even Sanders chose to defend himself

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Was there a problem for the banks already when the bailout was given? What will happen when people stop paying their mortgages and car loans? Endless bailouts?

Another Bank Bailout Under Cover of a Virus (Ellen Brown)

In March 2020, under cover of a national crisis, the Fed therefore flung the doors open to its discount window, where only banks could borrow. Previously, banks were reluctant to apply there because the interest was at a penalty rate and carried a stigma, signaling that the bank must be in distress. But that concern was eliminated when the Fed announced in a March 15 press release that the interest rate had been dropped to 0.25% (virtually zero). The reserve requirement was also eliminated, the capital requirement was relaxed, and all banks in good standing were offered loans of up to 90 days, “renewable on a daily basis.” The loans could be continually rolled over, and no strings were attached to this interest-free money – no obligation to lend to small businesses, reduce credit card rates, or write down underwater mortgages. Even J.P. Morgan Chase, the country’s largest bank, has acknowledged borrowing at the Fed’s discount window for super cheap loans.


The Fed’s scheme worked, and demand for repo loans plummeted. But unlike in Canada, where big banks slashed their credit card interest rates to help relieve borrowers during the COVID-19 crisis, US banks did not share this windfall with the public. Canadian interest rates were cut by half, from 21% to 11%; but US credit card rates dropped in April only by half a percentage point, to 20.15%. The giant Wall Street banks continued to favor their largest clients, doling out CARES Act benefits to them first, emptying the trough before many smaller businesses could drink there. In 1969, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi nationalized 14 of India’s largest banks, not because they were bankrupt (the usual justification today) but to ensure that credit would be allocated according to planned priorities, including getting banks into rural areas and making cheap financing available to Indian farmers. Congress could do the same today, but the odds are it won’t. As Sen. Dick Durbin said in 2009, “the banks … are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”

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Somehow I doubt it.

Turn Out the Lights, Russiagate is Over (Ray McGovern)

Given the diffident attitude the Security State plotters adopted regarding hiding their tracks, Durham’s challenge, with subpoena power, is not as formidable as were he, for example, investigating a Mafia family. Plus, former NSA Director Adm. Michael S. Rogers reportedly is cooperating. The handwriting is on the wall. It remains to be seen what kind of role in the scandal Barack Obama may have played. But former directors James Comey, James Clapper, and John Brennan, captains of Obama’s Security State, can take little solace from Barr’s remarks Monday to a reporter who asked about Trump’s recent claims that top officials of the Obama administration, including the former president had committed crimes. Barr replied:

“As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man. Our concerns over potential criminality is focused on others.” In a more ominous vein, Barr gratuitously added that law enforcement and intelligence officials were involved in “a false and utterly baseless Russian collusion narrative against the president. It was a grave injustice, and it was unprecedented in American history.” Meanwhile, the corporate media have all been singing from the same sheet since Trump had the audacity a week ago to coin yet another “-gate” — this time “Obamagate.” Leading the apoplectic reaction in corporate media, Saturday’s Washington Post offered a pot-calling-the-kettle-black pronouncement by its editorial board entitled “The absurd cynicism of ‘Obamagate”?

The outrage voiced by the Post called to mind disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok’s indignant response to criticism of the FBI by candidate Trump, in a Oct. 20, 2016 text exchange with FBI attorney Lisa Page: Strzok: I am riled up. Trump is a f***ing idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer. Strzok – I CAN’T PULL AWAY, WHAT THE F**K HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY … Page– I don’t know. But we’ll get it back. We’re America. We rock. Strzok– Donald just said “bad hombres” Strzok– Trump just said what the FBI did is disgraceful.

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Endless regurgitation.

US Supreme Court Blocks Disclosure Of Mueller Grand Jury Material (R.)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked the disclosure to a Democratic-led House of Representatives committee of grand jury material redacted by President Donald Trump’s administration from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report documenting Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. In a brief order, the justices put on hold a March ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the material must be disclosed to lawmakers. The order gave the administration until June 1 to formally appeal that ruling, meaning that if the justices decide to hear the case a final resolution may not be reached until after the Nov. 3 election in which the Republican president is seeking a second four-year term.


If the justices refuse to hear the appeal, the materials would need to be handed over. Mueller submitted his report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr in March 2019 after a 22-month investigation that detailed Russian hacking and propaganda efforts to boost Trump’s candidacy as well as multiple contacts between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. Barr, a Trump appointee who Democrats have accused of trying to protect the president politically, released the 448-page report in April 2019 with some parts redacted. Some Democrats have expressed concern that Barr used the redaction process to keep potentially damaging information about Trump secret.

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Time for Durham.

FBI Offered To Pay Steele ‘Significantly’ To Dig Up Dirt On Michael Flynn (DC)

An FBI offer to pay former British spy Christopher Steele to collect intelligence on Michael Flynn in the weeks before the 2016 election has been one of the more overlooked revelations in a Justice Department inspector general’s report released in December. The reference to the FBI proposal, which was made in an Oct. 3, 2016, meeting in an unidentified European city, has received virtually no press attention. But it might have new significance following the recent release of government documents that show that Steele peddled an unfounded rumor that Flynn had an extramarital affair with a Russian woman in the United Kingdom. It is not clear how and when Steele came across the rumor, or if it was the result of the FBI asking him to look into Flynn.

The inspector general’s report, released on Dec. 9, 2019, said that FBI agents offered to pay Steele “significantly” to collect intelligence from three separate “buckets” that the bureau was pursuing as part of Crossfire Hurricane, its counterintelligence probe of four Trump campaign associates. One bucket was “Additional intelligence/reporting on specific, named individuals (such as [Carter Page] or [Flynn]) involved in facilitating the Trump campaign-Russian relationship,” the IG report stated. FBI agents also sought contact with “any individuals or sub sources” who Steele could provide to “serve as cooperating witnesses to assist in identifying persons involved in the Trump campaign-Russian relationship.”

Steele at the time had provided the FBI with reports he compiled alleging that members of the Trump campaign had conspired with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election. An FBI agent provided Steele with a “general overview” of the ongoing Crossfire Hurricane probe, according to the IG report. The agent told Steele about the actions of George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign aide, and said the FBI had undertaken a “small analytical effort” that centered on Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Flynn. Some FBI agents who attended the meeting questioned whether the lead agent had disclosed too much to Steele about Crossfire Hurricane, according to the IG report.

[..] In the FBI memo, the Washington Field Office proposed closing a counterintelligence investigation of Flynn because investigators found no evidence that he was acting as an agent of Russia. Peter Strzok, the deputy chief of counterintelligence, intervened at the last minute to keep the investigation open after the FBI obtained a transcript of Flynn’s phone calls in late December 2016 with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Strzok helped set the “primary objectives” for the FBI meeting with Steele in October 2016, the IG report also stated.

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The story that will compete with corona this summer.

Susan Rice Email Confirms Flynn Was Targeted In Oval Office Meeting (Fed.)

Michael Flynn was personally targeted during a crucial Jan. 5, 2017 Oval Office meeting arranged by then-President Barack Obama, a newly declassified document shows. On Jan. 20, 2017, as President Donald Trump was being inaugurated, former White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice sent herself a bizarre email detailing the Jan. 5 meeting between her, Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and fired former Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James Comey. In the email, portions of which were not declassified until recently, Rice recorded that Flynn, who at the time was the incoming national security adviser for Trump, was personally discussed and targeted during the meeting with Obama.

“From a national security perspective, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.” At the time, the Obama administration was actively spying on members of the Trump team as part of its Crossfire Hurricane investigation against Trump. “Comey said he does have some concerns that incoming NSA Flynn is speaking frequently with Russian Ambassador Kislyak,” Rice wrote in a portion of the email that was only recently declassified. “Comey said that could be an issue as it relates to sharing sensitive information.”

“President Obama asked if Comey was saying the NSC should not pass sensitive information related to Russia to Flynn,” Rice continued. “Comey replied ‘potentially.’” “[Comey] added that he has no indication thus far that Flynn has passed classified information to Kislyak, but he noted that ‘the level of communication is unusual.’” The email did not explain how it would be “unusual” for an incoming national security adviser to converse with foreign leaders ahead of a new president’s inauguration.

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Almost as insane as the Assange tale. He got a $9.5 billion verdict against Chevron. Then they went after him.

Judge Orders Attorney Steven Donziger Under House Arrest Until September (IC)

A federal judge ruled this week that environmental attorney Steven Donziger must remain on house arrest until September. The decision means that by the time his trial begins, Donziger, who represented Indigenous people and farmers in a decadeslong legal battle against Chevron and has been confined to his Manhattan apartment and required to wear an electronic ankle monitor since August, will have spent 13 months in home detention awaiting trial on charges that carry a maximum sentence of six months. In a telephone conference on Monday, District Judge Loretta A. Preska said that the trial of Donziger on contempt of court charges stemming from his refusal to give his cellphone and computer to the court will be delayed until September 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

While Donziger’s attorneys requested that he be released from home confinement until then, Preska said that she believed the lawyer was a flight risk and must continue to remain confined to his home. In another significant setback for Donziger, who has been the target of an aggressive legal attack from Chevron after winning a $9.5 billion judgment against the company over environmental devastation in Ecuador, Preska also decided that the attorney was not entitled to a jury trial. While the judge had already denied Donziger’s motion requesting a jury trial in a May 7 hearing, in the phone conference this week, one of his attorneys, Andrew Frisch, said that he believed her earlier ruling had left open the possibility that Donziger could face a penalty of more than six months in prison, which would have entitled him to have his case heard by a jury. But during the phone conference, Preska made it clear that that was not the case.

It is not the first time that Donziger has tried — and failed — to get his case heard by his peers. In 2007, after Donziger and other attorneys sued Chevron over water and soil contamination resulting from oil drilling in the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador, the company successfully moved to have the case heard in the Ecuadorian courts, which don’t hold jury trials. And in 2011, after Donziger’s team won an $18 billion judgment from Chevron (an award that was later reduced to $9.5 billion), Chevron filed a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, suit against Donziger. Although the company initially sought significant financial damages in that case, which would have entitled Donziger to a jury trial, the company dismissed the monetary claims weeks before the trial and Donziger again faced trial without a jury. Instead, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who decided the RICO case, found that the judgment against Chevron had been the result of fraud.

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May 152020
 


Georgia O’Keeffe Sunflower, New Mexico I 1935

 

A Truth That’s Told With Bad Intent (Ben Hunt)
America’s Chilling Experiment in Human Sacrifice (Parramore)
Want A Fast Recovery? Invest In Tests, Fed’s Kaplan Says (R.)
Novartis CEO Says Any New Coronavirus Vaccine Will Take At Least 2 Years (R.)
United States Might Not Open Up To International Travelers Any Time Soon
One In Four US Workers Claiming Jobless Benefits (BBC)
148,000 In England Infected With Coronavirus In Last Two Weeks (G.)
ECB To Scale Up Bond Buying Next Month (R.)
Critics Turn Up Heat On Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel Investigation (Fox)
Docs From Sham Flynn Prosecution Also Show Broad Russiagate Corruption (IC)
Judge Sullivan Invites Flynn’s Former Lawyers To Enter Case (SAC)
Open Memorandum to Barack Obama (Sidney Powell)
The Sickness in Our Food Supply (Pollan)
Court Files Expose Sheldon Adelson’s Role in US Spying On Julian Assange (GZ)

 

 

• New US cases 26,740

• New US deaths 1,704 (previous days 1,896, 1,894, 830, 776). Total deaths surpass 85,000.

• Russia reports 10,598 new cases, returning to its chain of 10 consecutive days of more than 10,000 new cases with it broke yesterday with 9,974. Russia will in the next few days pass Spain as the no. 2 in total cases behind the US. But it reports “just” 2,418 deaths to date, vs Spain’s 27,321.

 

 

Endcoronavirus.org numbers presented by Hayes. Not sure that’s something to cheer about. But while he’s waxing ominously that the US has 1/3 of all deaths, these countries all still have a worse case fatality rate: Spain, UK, Italy, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland

 

 


Ranking of countries by total number of reported deaths from #COVID19, and growth of that in the 24 hours before midnight GMT. Brazil fastest grower in this list. Over half of new deaths reported globally now in US, Brazil, and UK.

 

 

 

Cases 4,546,070 (+ 94,844 from yesterday’s 4,451,226)

Deaths 303,863 (+ 5,343 from yesterday’s 298,520)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

“..if these idiots and fools want to take stupid risks alongside other idiots and fools, if their vision of liberty and the pursuit of happiness is to revel in some death cult, but in a way that largely allows us non-death cultists to opt out … well, I believe it is wrong for a government to stop them.”

“I believe with all my heart that if we are to take individual rights seriously, then we must take individual responsibility and agency just as seriously.”

A Truth That’s Told With Bad Intent (Ben Hunt)

[..] I am a full-hearted believer in acting from the bottom-up, in bypassing and ignoring the high-functioning sociopaths who dominate our top-down hierarchies of markets and politics. I still believe that. But it doesn’t work with COVID-19. The core problem with any rights-based approach to public policy is dealing with questions of competing rights. Under what circumstances could your right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness come into conflict with my right to life? Under most circumstances, neither of us is forced to compromise our rights, because we have the choice to NOT interact with each other. If my laundromat requires you to wear a mask to enter, but you think wearing a mask is an affront to your liberty, then the solution is easy: go wash your clothes somewhere else. And vice versa if I think your restaurant does a poor job of enforcing social distancing and food safety: I’ll take my business elsewhere.

Let me put this a bit more bluntly. I think that COVID-19 deniers and truthers are idiots. I think that people who minimize or otherwise ignore the clear and present danger that the biology of this virus presents to themselves and their families are fools. And there’s no perfect way to insulate their idiocy and foolishness from the rest of us. But if these idiots and fools want to take stupid risks alongside other idiots and fools, if their vision of liberty and the pursuit of happiness is to revel in some death cult, but in a way that largely allows us non-death cultists to opt out … well, I believe it is wrong for a government to stop them. Yes, there are exceptions. No, this isn’t applicable on all issues, all the time. But I believe with all my heart that if we are to take individual rights seriously, then we must take individual responsibility and agency just as seriously. Even self-destructive agency. Even in the age of COVID-19. Especially in the age of COVID-19.

There are three common and important circumstances, however, where this choice to NOT interact doesn’t exist, where the rights of yes, even idiots, to liberty and the pursuit of happiness as they understand it will inexorably come into conflict with the right to life of those who understand all too well the highly contagious and dangerous biology of this virus. Only government can provide the necessary resources and the necessary coordination to resolve these conflicts of rights peacefully and without trampling the rights of one set of citizens or another. You have no idea how much it pains me to say that.

Here’s how a legitimate government would deal with the three inevitable and irreconcilable conflicts of rights in the age of COVID-19:

1) Healthcare workers and first responders have no choice but to risk their right to life in caring for all citizens who are sick, regardless of the agency or lack thereof behind that sickness. How does a legitimate government resolve this conflict? By mobilizing on a war-time basis to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to ALL healthcare workers and social workers and first responders and public safety officers and anyone else who must serve the sick.

2) Workers who believe that their employer does not provide sufficient protection against this virus have no choice but to risk their right to life in their return to work, as unemployment insurance typically is unavailable for people who “voluntarily” quit their job. How does a legitimate government resolve this conflict? By providing a Federal safe harbor to unemployment claims based on COVID-19 safety concerns, AND by maintaining unemployment benefits at the current (higher) CARES Act level throughout the crisis.

3) All citizens who use public transit or use public facilities have no choice but to trust that their fellow citizens share a common respect for the rights of others, even if they may differ in their risk tolerance and private beliefs regarding the biology of the virus. How does a legitimate government resolve this conflict? By mobilizing on a war-time basis to provide ubiquitous rapid testing in and around all public spaces, starting today with symptom testing (temperature checks) and required masking to limit asymptomatic spread, and implementing over time near-instant antigen tests as they are developed.

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Lynn Parramore toches on very valid points here, looking at life vs the economy, and what is valued (more). But the Chilling Experiment in Human Sacrifice is an American tradition, there’s nothing new, other than this time it takes place on American soil. And even then, look at all the people without health insurance all over the US, look at young blacks getting killed by police, or drug epidemics. But mostly, the experiment takes place in far-away lands, and its victims count in the very many millions.

America’s Chilling Experiment in Human Sacrifice (Parramore)

“There is no wealth but life.” — John Ruskin, Unto This Last (1860)

A chilling experiment is underway in America, with plenty of unwilling human guinea pigs. Many parts of the country are reopening for business against the warnings of medical experts, flying in the face of grim predictions of sharply rising body counts. Two-thirds of Americans fear that the restart is happening too quickly, and the President himself acknowledges that by easing restrictions, “there’ll be more death.” Yet he presses on, even as his own White House suffers a viral outbreak. News screens flash with tallies of death and tallies of wealth: New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared that lives must be saved “whatever it costs,” insisting that for Americans the choice “between public health and the economy” is “no contest.”

But he did not ask celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, who some weeks ago expressed his view that reopening schools could give the country its “mojo back,” and perhaps “only cost us 2-3% in terms of total mortality. (2% sounds conveniently small compared to its equivalent in human lives, 6,560,000. Oz later apologized after public outrage). Meanwhile Dan Patrick, lieutenant governor of Texas, offered his own assessment of the trade-off between capitalism and the lives of America’s senior citizens, explaining, “there are more important things than living.” Since the days of Adam Smith, free market capitalists have held that human beings are rational actors who pursue economic gain for self-interested motives. But here is Patrick, a free marketer if there ever was one, talking about a gift-sacrifice economy model in which people – some people, at least – lay down their lives to keep the economic engines revved.

Patrick’s words reveal an unspoken truth about capitalism. For the system to work smoothly, there have always been requirements of human sacrifice — a certain portion of the population was expected to act not as self-serving homo economicus, but self-sacrificing homo communis, focused upon what benefits the collective at their own expense. If these people can’t social distance at the workplace, they are expected to show up anyway. If there isn’t enough safety equipment, they are declared essential workers who must put their lives and that of their families at risk for the greater good. But for whom and for what is this sacrifice intended? How much dying will be figured into state budgets and GDP? When ranked by GDP, the U.S. is the wealthiest economy in the world, but is a country’s wealth something totally separate from, or even contrary to, the health and life the majority of its citizens?

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“Why not spend hundreds of billions of dollars, or tens of billions of dollars, to avoid spending trillions more? It is clearly the highest priority..”

Want A Fast Recovery? Invest In Tests, Fed’s Kaplan Says (R.)

Even with tens of millions of jobs lost and a historic decline in output projected this quarter, the U.S. economy could still pull off a relatively quick recovery, Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan said on Thursday. “If we made a dramatic national initiative for testing – and I mean dramatic …that could help create the V,” he said in an online interview with local public TV station KERA, referring to a recession characterized by a sharp decline in output followed quickly by a steep ramp back up. “The highest return on equity investment we can make in this country is testing.” The U.S. Congress has committed nearly $3 trillion to shoring up an economy gutted by extended shutdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus and buying time for the healthcare systems to build capacity to care for the sick.

“Why not spend hundreds of billions of dollars, or tens of billions of dollars, to avoid spending trillions more? It is clearly the highest priority,” Kaplan said in the interview, conducted jointly with Dallas Mayor Eric Kaplan. The United States has conducted more than 10 million tests for the coronavirus since the beginning of the crisis, according to the Covid Tracking Project. But in many parts of the country people can only get tested if they have symptoms, and there is no capacity for the kind of mass testing that China is using to screen Wuhan’s 11 million citizens this week to stamp out a recurrence of infections there. After weeks of shutdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. economy does need to reopen, Kaplan said.

“We cannot remain shut down indefinitely,” Kaplan said. At the same time, he said, without ubiquitous testing, “people are going to be more hesitant, they are going to be slower to reengage,” and the recovery will be slow and, perhaps, a second wave of infections more likely. [..] “Let’s invest a fraction of what we would have to spend on the second wave in testing, a national approach to it, particularly in dense areas, to prevent that second wave from happening – it will be a fraction of the cost.”

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There is no vaccine. There may never be one. Take that as the starting point for what comes next, for your acts. A vaccine would be an extra, but it cannot be taken as a given.

Novartis CEO Says Any New Coronavirus Vaccine Will Take At Least 2 Years (R.)

Any vaccine to fight the new coronavirus will not be ready for use for at least two years, the chief executive of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, which no longer makes vaccines itself, told a German newspaper. Novartis sold its vaccine business in 2015 to GlaxoSmithKline, one of many companies around the world now racing to make a drug. Some companies are already testing vaccine candidates on humans. “The results of the first clinical studies on the vaccine candidates should be available in autumn,” Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). “If everything goes as we hope, it will take 24 months before we have a vaccine.”


For instance, Moderna Inc has sped up plans for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine and said it expected to start a late-stage trial in early summer. But experts have said no vaccine is expected to be ready for use until at least 2021, as they must be widely tested in humans before being administered to hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people to prevent infection. Narasimhan, who headed development at Novartis’s vaccine business before the Basel-based company concluded it was too small to keep and should be unloaded, said producing enough vaccine for the world would also be a challenge. He said building a new factory usually took three or four years. “That’s way too long,” he told FAZ. “We have to use the existing production network to produce large quantities quickly.”

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“..people from other countries should not be allowed into the United States if Americans still are not allowed to travel to those nations, the senior U.S. official said.

Who’s going to accept American visitors unless they’ve been tested negative?

United States Might Not Open Up To International Travelers Any Time Soon

The U.S. government largely shut down international travel to the United States in March with a series of rapid-fire moves, but restarting it will likely be a longer, more piecemeal process that could be complicated by rising tensions with China. Even as President Donald Trump pushes for U.S states to begin reopening their economies, U.S. borders remain shut to travelers from China and Europe.Any decision on easing travel restrictions will depend in large part on what safety protocols all countries put in place to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus and whether those countries in turn grant entry to Americans, U.S. officials told Reuters. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said last week that Trump and U.S. health officials were examining the issue of international travel but did not provide further details.

Trump implemented a temporary ban on most travelers coming from China, the source of the novel coronavirus outbreak, in January and put similar restrictions on travelers from Europe in March. The United States also halted nonessential travel across its shared borders with Canada and Mexico in March and suspended routine visa services in most U.S. consulates abroad. Some U.S. airlines would like to resume limited service to China – a major market for them – in June, but the possibility of the Trump administration lifting travel restrictions will be complicated by China’s own restrictions on foreign carriers, according to a senior U.S. official who requested anonymity to discuss the matter. China limits foreign airlines to one flight into the country per week, and planes are only allowed to fly with 75% of passenger capacity.

The discussions within the Trump administration on how and when to reopen the United States to international travel have not yet crystallized into a plan, U.S. officials said, as the situation is still fluid and there are still fears of a resurgence of the virus in countries now reporting lower caseloads. But Washington is clear on one thing – people from other countries should not be allowed into the United States if Americans still are not allowed to travel to those nations, the senior U.S. official said. However, with the virus still rampant in the United States, which has the highest number of cases in the world, some countries may be hesitant to accept U.S. travelers any time soon. The European Union on Wednesday pushed to reopen internal borders and restart travel, but recommended Europe’s external borders remain closed for most travel at least until mid-June.

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Time for an honest worst-case scenario.

One In Four US Workers Claiming Jobless Benefits (BBC)

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped by almost 3 million last week as virus shutdowns continue to weigh on the US economy. The filings brought the total number of new jobless claims since the middle of March to more than 36 million. That amounts to nearly a quarter of the American workforce. The weekly figures have been falling since the end of March but remain massive by historic standards, eclipsing the prior record of 700,000.


“Today’s unemployment claims continue their epic ascent on a cumulative weekly basis; not since the Great Depression has the US job market been in such a sorry state,” said Richard Flynn, UK managing director at Charles Schwab. The head of America’s central bank warned this week that the economic recovery is likely to be slower than initially hoped. In April, employers cut more than 20 million jobs, sending the unemployment rate to 14.7% and erasing nearly a decade of job gains. While the losses have fallen hardest on minority and low-income households, they have touched every part of the economy.

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They have 10,000 new infections per day and can’t even get down to 5,000. Like that is some noble goal.

148,000 In England Infected With Coronavirus In Last Two Weeks (G.)

The first national snapshot of Covid-19 rates has revealed that 148,000 people in England were infected with the virus over the past two weeks. The study, by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), tested 10,705 people in more than 5,000 households and estimated 0.27% of the population in England were currently positive for Covid-19. The analysis suggests about 148,000 people across the entire population would have tested positive on any day between 27 April and 10 May 2020. The findings will inform the government’s next steps as it considers whether it is safe enough to further ease restrictions on socialising, businesses and schools in the coming weeks. Experts suggest the current rates of infection remain “some way off” what would be needed to lift the lockdown.

The results are likely to fuel concerns about the potential of opening primary schools on 1 June to fuel transmission in the community, as no evidence was found of differences in the proportions testing positive between the age categories 2 to 19, 20 to 49, 50 to 69 and 70 years and over. The numbers testing positive in this first release were small – 33 in total – and so this picture could change and the figures are expected to be tracked closely over the next two weeks. The study also reveals far higher infection rates among those working with patients in healthcare and those in social care roles, with 1.33% of these participants testing positive. The figures do not include people in hospital or care homes where rates of Covid-19 infection – and possibly transmission – are likely to be higher.

Sources close to Downing Street say the target for new daily infections is 5,000 before the lockdown can ease, but other more cautious voices in government are understood to be pushing for fewer than 4,000 new cases a day. There is scepticism within the government that the UK will have reached that figure before 1 June, the first possible date for easing the lockdown. The latest figures would suggest a “crude estimate” of 10,000 new cases each day, according to Hunter. However, a more accurate calculation would take into account the average number of days over which a person would test positive and other factors. And unlike the target of 5,000 cases each day, the latest ONS figures exclude hospital patients, meaning the ONS infection rate is a slight underestimate. So it is difficult to assess from the ONS data how far we are from the 5,000 target.

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Granted, it would be a unique event, but just this once, the Reuters poll of 80 economists may get it right.

ECB To Scale Up Bond Buying Next Month (R.)

The euro zone economy’s worst recession on record will be even deeper than predicted less than a month ago, according to a Reuters poll of economists. They also said the European Central Bank will ramp up bond buying next month. An economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed nearly 300,000 lives globally, will largely depend on the effectiveness of individual governments in preventing a second wave of infections despite easings of lockdown restrictions. “The biggest uncertainty now is around the pace of the reopening of the economy. There is a series of risks that are still to the downside…we may have a more prolonged period of confinement measures imposed by law or just behaviourally,” Giada Giani, European economist at Citi, said.


The May 11-14 Reuters poll of nearly 80 economists marks the third downgrade to the economic outlook in a little over a month and is despite the ECB’s adding hundreds of billions of euros to its balance sheet and governments announcing stimulus worth trillions of euros. The euro zone economy is expected to contract 7.5% in 2020, more than the 5.4% predicted three weeks ago, with the worst of the blow expected this quarter. After contracting 3.8% in January-March, its sharpest quarter-on-quarter decline since 1995, the latest poll showed the economy shrinking by nearly three times that pace in April-June, by 11.3%, more than the 9.6% predicted last month.

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Mueller is linked to Flynn is linked to Assange is linked to etc. Pandora’s box has opened.

Critics Turn Up Heat On Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel Investigation (Fox)

Critics of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation are turning up the heat amid new revelations in the Justice Department’s handling of the Russian collusion investigation and related cases, like the troubled prosecution of former Trump National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn. “The Mueller probe was launched not to find wrongdoing from the Trump administration, but to cover up wrongdoing by Mueller’s colleagues, by his protege James Comey, by the corrupt Obama administration Department of Justice,” said The Federalist’s Sean Davis on a new episode of Fox Nation’s “Witch Hunt.” Skeptics of Mueller’s investigation have long alleged that the former FBI director knew almost immediately after his appointment in May 2017 that there was no credible evidence of collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and the Russian government.

“Bob Mueller knew the day that he walked in the door there was no evidence of the Trump campaign colluding with Russians,” said Rep. Devin Nunes R-Calif., the ranking Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, in a Fox News interview in May 2019. “We looked at all the intelligence,” continued Nunes in reference to the House Intelligence Committee’s own investigation. “There’s zero evidence of the Trump campaign colluding with Russians — period,” According to Davis, the Mueller probe was never intended to find collusion but had another purpose. “From the beginning, the Mueller investigation existed to not protect the rule of law, but to protect the FBI and DOJ from scrutiny for their crimes,” he argued. Davis said the conduct of the Mueller team suggested that they were hiding something.

“You can actually see it in how it responded to requests for documentation from congressional investigations, both from the Senate Senator Chuck Grassley and from the House from Devin Nunes,” said Davis. In fact, Nunes vowed to send the DOJ a criminal referral on potential obstruction of a congressional investigation. “The House of Representatives… had multiple requests, multiple subpoenas that were out there that effectively were never answered,” said Nunes on Fox Nation, “even though they claim they answered them. Well, now what we learned is that they lied and misled Congress by omission.”

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Glenn Greenwald.

Docs From Sham Flynn Prosecution Also Show Broad Russiagate Corruption (IC)

[..] the prosecution of Flynn — for allegedly lying to the FBI when he denied in a January 24 interrogation that he had discussed with Kislyak on December 29 the new sanctions and expulsions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration — was always odd for a number of reasons. To begin with, the FBI agents who questioned Flynn said afterward that they did not believe he was lying (as CNN reported in February, 2017: “the FBI interviewers believed Flynn was cooperative and provided truthful answers. Although Flynn didn’t remember all of what he talked about, they don’t believe he was intentionally misleading them, the officials say”). For that reason, CNN said, “the FBI is not expected to pursue any charges against” him.

More importantly, there was no valid reason for the FBI to have interrogated Flynn about his conversations with Kislyak in the first place. There is nothing remotely untoward or unusual — let alone criminal — about an incoming senior national security official, three weeks away from taking over, reaching out to a counterpart in a foreign government to try to tamp down tensions. As the Washington Post put it, “it would not be uncommon for incoming administrations to interface with foreign governments with whom they will soon have to work.”

What newly released documents over the last month reveal is what has been generally evident for the last three years: the powers of the security state agencies — particularly the FBI, the CIA, the NSA and the DOJ — were systematically abused as part of the 2016 election and then afterward for political rather than legal ends. While there was obviously deceit and corruption on the part of some Trump officials in lying to Russiagate investigators and otherwise engaging in depressingly common DC lobbyist corruption, there was also massive corruption on the part of the investigators themselves, exploiting and abusing their vast and invasive investigative and prosecutorial powers for ideological goals, political subterfuge, election manipulation and personal vendettas.

[..] the most critical reason to delve deeply into this case is that it reveals one the most dangerous abuses of power a democracy can suffer: the powers of the CIA, FBI and NSA were blatantly and repeatedly abused to manipulate election outcomes and achieve political advantage. In other words, we know now that these agencies did exactly what Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned they would do to Trump when he appeared on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program shortly before Trump’s inauguration:

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Election time already?

Judge Sullivan Invites Flynn’s Former Lawyers To Enter Case (SAC)

In another strange turn of events, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has invited Michael Flynn’s former defense counsel to appear as interested parties in their former clients ongoing case. Sullivan, who did not agree to drop the charges against Flynn as requested by the Department of Justice, did not specify the purpose for inviting the former lawyers to appear in court. John Hall electronically filed the notice on Thursday, as the legal representative for Covington and Burling, Flynn’s former defense counsel. Sidney Powell, Flynn’s defense counsel, didn’t comment on Sullivan’s invitation to Covington and Burling but she noted in previous filings reported on this news site that the previous counsel provided her client ineffectual representation and unrepresented him in his guilty plea, which was in violation of his 6th Amendment rights.


This turn of events has been just one in a series of bizarre decisions unleashed on Flynn and his defense team by Sullivan. Critics of Sullivan’s strange behavior have accused the judge of acting as a prosecutor and crossing the line of his judicial mandate. “Since Sullivan appears to be so invested in trying to force the government to prosecute Flynn, he should step off the bench and apply for a job as an AUSA,” said Jenna Ellis, a constitutional lawyer and Senior legal advisor to the Trump 2020 campaign. “He clearly wants to be a prosecutor, not a judge, so he’s in the wrong branch of government.”

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On May 12, I wrote: “I don’t think the DOJ will go after Obama, only Sidney Powell would.”

On May 13, Powell published this letter.

Open Memorandum to Barack Obama (Sidney Powell)

Re: Your Failure to Find Precedent for Flynn Dismissal

Regarding the decision of the Department of Justice to dismiss charges against General Flynn, in your recent call with your alumni, you expressed great concern: “there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk.” Here is some help—if truth and precedent represent your true concern. Your statement is entirely false. However, it does explain the damage to the Rule of Law throughout your administration.

First, General Flynn was not charged with perjury—which requires a material false statement made under oath with intent to deceive.1 A perjury prosecution would have been appropriate and the Rule of Law applied if the Justice Department prosecuted your former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for his multiple lies under oath in an investigation of a leak only he knew he caused. McCabe lied under oath in fully recorded and transcribed interviews with the Inspector General for the DOJ. He was informed of the purpose of the interview, and he had had the benefit of counsel. He knew he was the leaker. McCabe even lied about lying.

He lied to his own agents—which sent them on a “wild-goose-chase”—thereby making his lies “material” and an obstruction of justice. Yet, remarkably, Attorney General Barr declined to prosecute McCabe for these offenses. Applying the Rule of Law, after declining McCabe’s perjury prosecution, required the Justice Department to dismiss the prosecution of General Flynn who was not warned, not under oath, had no counsel, and whose statements were not only not recorded, but were created as false by FBI agents who falsified the 302.

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America has two food chains, and they’re not talking.

The Sickness in Our Food Supply (Pollan)

A series of shocks has exposed weak links in our food chain that threaten to leave grocery shelves as patchy and unpredictable as those in the former Soviet bloc. The very system that made possible the bounty of the American supermarket—its vaunted efficiency and ability to “pile it high and sell it cheap”—suddenly seems questionable, if not misguided. But the problems the novel coronavirus has revealed are not limited to the way we produce and distribute food. They also show up on our plates, since the diet on offer at the end of the industrial food chain is linked to precisely the types of chronic disease that render us more vulnerable to Covid-19. The juxtaposition of images in the news of farmers destroying crops and dumping milk with empty supermarket shelves or hungry Americans lining up for hours at food banks tells a story of economic efficiency gone mad.

Today the US actually has two separate food chains, each supplying roughly half of the market. The retail food chain links one set of farmers to grocery stores, and a second chain links a different set of farmers to institutional purchasers of food, such as restaurants, schools, and corporate offices. With the shutting down of much of the economy, as Americans stay home, this second food chain has essentially collapsed. But because of the way the industry has developed over the past several decades, it’s virtually impossible to reroute food normally sold in bulk to institutions to the retail outlets now clamoring for it. There’s still plenty of food coming from American farms, but no easy way to get it where it’s needed.

[..] When the number of Covid-19 cases in America’s slaughterhouses exploded in late April—12,608 confirmed, with forty-nine deaths as of May 11—public health officials and governors began ordering plants to close. It was this threat to the industry’s profitability that led to Tyson’s declaration, which President Trump would have been right to see as a shakedown: the president’s political difficulties could only be compounded by a shortage of meat. In order to reopen their production lines, Tyson and his fellow packers wanted the federal government to step in and preempt local public health authorities; they also needed liability protection, in case workers or their unions sued them for failing to observe health and safety regulations.

Within days of Tyson’s ad, President Trump obliged the meatpackers by invoking the Defense Production Act. After having declined to use it to boost the production of badly needed coronavirus test kits, he now declared meat a “scarce and critical material essential to the national defense.” The executive order took the decision to reopen or close meat plants out of local hands, forced employees back to work without any mandatory safety precautions, and offered their employers some protection from liability for their negligence. On May 8, Tyson reopened a meatpacking plant in Waterloo, Iowa, where more than a thousand workers had tested positive.

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Sidney Powell should take Assange’s case.

Court Files Expose Sheldon Adelson’s Role in US Spying On Julian Assange (GZ)

As the co-founder of a small security consulting firm called UC Global, David Morales spent years slogging through the minor leagues of the private mercenary world. A former Spanish special forces officer, Morales yearned to be the next Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder who leveraged his army-for-hire into high-level political connections across the globe. But by 2016, he had secured just one significant contract, to guard the children of Ecuador’s then-President Rafael Correa and his country’s embassy in the UK. The London embassy contract proved especially valuable to Morales, however. Inside the diplomatic compound, his men guarded Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, a top target of the US government who had been living in the building since Correa granted him asylum in 2012.

It was not long before Morales realized he had a big league opportunity on his hands. In 2016, Morales rushed off alone to a security fair in Las Vegas, hoping to rustle up lucrative new gigs by touting his role as the guardian of Assange. Days later, he returned to his company’s headquarters in Jerez de Frontera, Spain with exciting news. “From now on, we’re going to be playing in the first division,” Morales announced to his employees. When a co-owner of UC Global asked what Morales meant, he responded that he had turned to the “dark side” – an apparent reference to US intelligence services. “The Americans will find us contracts around the world,” Morales assured his business partner.

Morales had just signed on to guard Queen Miri, the $70 million yacht belonging to one of the most high profile casino tycoons in Vegas: ultra-Zionist billionaire and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. Given that Adelson already had a substantial security team assigned to guard him and his family at all times, the contract between UC Global and Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands was clearly the cover for a devious espionage campaign apparently overseen by the CIA. Unfortunately for Morales, the Spanish security consultant charged with leading the spying operation, what happened in Vegas did not stay there. Following Assange’s imprisonment, several disgruntled former employees eventually approached Assange’s legal team to inform them about the misconduct and arguably illegal activity they participated in at UC Global.

One former business partner said they came forward after realizing that “David Morales decided to sell all the information to the enemy, the US.” A criminal complaint was submitted in a Spanish court and a secret operation that resulted in the arrest of Morales was set into motion by the judge. Morales was charged by a Spanish High Court in October 2019 with violating the privacy of Assange, abusing the publisher’s attorney-client privileges, as well as money laundering and bribery. The documents revealed in court, which were primarily backups from company computers, exposed the disturbing reality of his activities on “the dark side.”

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 December 30, 2019  Posted by at 10:15 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Salvation Army, San Francisco, California. Unemployed young men 1939

 

Firms Must Justify Investment In Fossil Fuels, Warns Mark Carney (G.)
Bank of England Chief Mark Carney Issues Climate Change Warning (BBC)
Security Experts Rip Into OPCW’s ‘Douma Chemical Attack’ Probe (RT)
Pension Funds With $680 Billion Finally Find Their Missing Link (BBG)
Bank of America: Trend For 2020s Will be the “End of Globalization” (PJW)
Britons Paying 40% More For Energy Than In 2015 (G.)
Spain Pulled Into Diplomatic Spat Between Bolivia, Mexico (AP)
Schiff Goes for Total Coup, Now Targeting Pence (WJ)
Russiagate Investigation Now Endangers Obama (Zuesse)
Vladimir Putin Thanks Donald Trump For Tip That Foiled Terror Plot (G.)
After US Strike On Iraqi Forces Its Troops Will -Again- Have To Leave (MoA)

 

 

I must have missed that Carney was named UN special envoy for climate change and finance. Hilarious. Just over 3 years ago, I wrote about his delusional ideas in Heal the Planet for Profit , after Mark Carney and Michael Bloomberg published How To Make A Profit From Defeating Climate Change.

Billionaires and their lackeys will not solve climate change. Which is why Carney should not have a UN role, just like Great Thunberg should never have gone to Davos, or get involved with COP25. It’s simply not where things happen. By falling into these traps, she’s failing her own ideals, and those of her followers.

Firms Must Justify Investment In Fossil Fuels, Warns Mark Carney (G.)

The outgoing governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has said all companies and financial institutions must justify their continued investment in fossil fuels, and warned that assets in the sector could end up “worthless”. In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme being broadcast on Monday, Carney said that although the financial sector was starting to cut back on investment in oil and gas companies, the process was not moving quickly enough. Carney, who will focus on his new role as UN special envoy for climate change and finance after he steps down from the governorship in the new year, agreed to appear on the programme for an edition edited by the climate crisis campaigner Greta Thunberg, one of several guest editors on Today over the holiday period.

Carney has been one of the most vocal central bank governors on the need for the financial sector to do more to transition towards a zero-carbon economy. He told the programme that the climate crisis was a “tragedy on the horizon” and that more extreme weather events were inevitable. “By the time that the extreme events become so prevalent and so obvious, it will be too late to do anything about it,” he said. Political leaders had to “start addressing future problems today” On the issue of whether investors should be divesting from companies in the fossil fuel sector, Carney said fund managers would “have to make the judgment and justify to the people whose money it ultimately is”.

When pressed on whether pension funds should divest from oil and gas companies even if the returns were attractive, he replied: “Well that hasn’t been the case but they could make that argument. They need to make the argument, to be clear about why is that going to be the case if a substantial proportion of those assets are going to be worthless.” He warned: “If we were to burn all those oil and gases, there’s no way we would meet carbon budgets. Up to 80% of coal assets will be stranded, [and] up to half of developed oil reserves. A question for every company, every financial institution, every asset manager, pension fund or insurer: what’s your plan?

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Carney’s next move will be a $50 trillion fund paid for by taxpayers that will buy turbines and solar from trillion-dollar multinationals.

Bank of England Chief Mark Carney Issues Climate Change Warning (BBC)

The world will face irreversible heating unless firms shift their priorities soon, the outgoing head of the Bank of England has told the BBC. Mark Carney said the financial sector had begun to curb investment in fossil fuels – but far too slowly. He said leading pension fund analysis “is that if you add up the policies of all of companies out there, they are consistent with warming of 3.7-3.8C”. Mr Carney made the comments in a pre-recorded BBC Radio 4 Today interview. He added that the rise of almost 4C was “far above the 1.5 degrees that the people say they want and governments are demanding”. Scientists say the risks associated with an increase of 4C include a nine metre rise in sea levels – affecting up to 760 million people – searing heatwaves and droughts, and serious food supply problems.

Mr Carney, who will next year start his new role as United Nations special envoy for climate action and finance, continued: “The concern is whether we will spend another decade doing worthy things but not enough… and we will blow through the 1.5C mark very quickly. As a consequence, the climate will stabilise at the much higher level.” Speaking to the Today programme, he re-iterated his warning that unless firms woke up to what he called the climate crisis, many of their assets would become worthless. “If we were to burn all those oil and gas [reserves], there’s no way we would meet carbon budget,” he said. “Up to 80% of coal assets will be stranded, [and] up to half of developed oil reserves.

[..] Climate campaigners Extinction Rebellion question whether the capitalist system can halt climate change. Mr Carney said capitalism had a vital role in raising funding for clean technologies. But he added that it had to be tempered by government-imposed incentives, rules and prohibitions of the most damaging activities. Climate change was what he called a “tragedy of the horizon”, because the decision-making time horizon of investment managers is between two and 10 years. “In those horizons there will be more extreme weather events, but by the time that the extreme events become so prevalent and so obvious it’s too late to do anything about it,” he said.

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How far we’ve fallen: OPCW, White Helmets and Bellingcat have all been fully discredited by now (Douma, Skripal, MH17), but the former “all the news that’s fit to print” media completely ignore this. And so we’ll keep hearing more from them.

Security Experts Rip Into OPCW’s ‘Douma Chemical Attack’ Probe (RT)

Documents published by WikiLeaks that suggest a cover-up of inconvenient facts about the Douma, Syria chemical attack investigation raise serious questions about the OPCW, security experts, scholars and diplomats tell RT. The US, UK and France launched missile strikes against Syria in April 2018, after ‘White Helmets’ and jihadist rebels accused the government of a chemical attack in the town of Douma. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons eventually published a report saying its investigators may have found traces of chlorine, which was trumpeted as proof of the accusations in mainstream Western media. Emails published by WikiLeaks on Friday, however, show that a senior OPCW official ordered to “remove all traces” of the engineering assessment questioning the report’s conclusions.

Moreover, the observations by toxicologists who ruled out exposure to chlorine or any other chemical weapon could have caused the symptoms shown on White Helmets videos were likewise buried. “It’s difficult to look at that email exchange without thinking at least there’s a whiff of a coverup,” security analyst Charles Shoebridge told RT, adding that the documents show the OPCW has been “subverted and led astray.” While the experts seem to have done their job honorably and properly, it looks like the OPCW officials twisted and manipulated their work to fit the pre-ordained narrative, on behalf of the countries that carried out the strikes, and have been backing the militants in Syria against the government in Damascus.

The OPCW “right now looks awful,” Max Abrahms, a scholar at the Quincy Institute, told RT. “They have a lot of explaining to do.” US officials seem to have pressured the OPCW to find the Syrian military responsible for the alleged chemical attack “regardless of what the actual scientists on the ground discovered,” according to Abrahms. It is notable that the US, UK and France launched their missile strikes before the OPCW investigators even reached Douma. The final report, published in March 2019, provided an after-the-fact rationalization for the attack. The bigger problem, Machon points out, is that the OPCW suppressing evidence means that the chemical weapons watchdog is no longer credible. If they can’t be trusted about Douma, why should they be trusted about, say, the use of “novichok” in Salisbury just weeks before that incident?

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Oh sure, pension funds will be rescued by a 30-year bond. Everybody rich!

Pension Funds With $680 Billion Finally Find Their Missing Link (BBG)

In Denmark, where institutional investors have been living with negative interest rates longer than anyone else, the authorities just took a big step. Danish pension funds, the world’s best managed along with their Dutch peers, will finally get a 30-year government bond. When it starts trading next year, funds managing a total of $680 billion in assets will get the missing link they’ve long needed: a long-term, AAA-rated asset at a positive yield. That’s quite a novelty these days. The new bond will give the industry a “crucial point on the curve,” said Christian Lage, chief executive officer of PFA Asset Management, which is a unit inside Denmark’s biggest commercial pension fund in Copenhagen. “We’re following it closely,” he said in an interview.

“Not only with regards to what extent we want to invest in it, but also how it’s being priced. It has an impact on a lot of different things when we price long-term exposures.” Denmark’s central bank first cut its benchmark rate below zero in mid-2012. Almost eight years later, the county has had negative rates longer than any other place on Earth. The distortions wrought by a policy intended to keep the krone fixed to the euro are particularly pronounced in the pension industry. The art of generating long-term, stable returns so Danes can retire comfortably has become increasingly difficult. Pretty much everything safe generates a negative yield. Assets that generate positive yields tend to come with a good deal more risk.

The Danish debt office, which is a unit inside the central bank, hasn’t issued a 30-year bond since 2008. That’s forced pension funds to extrapolate a key anchor point in the interest rate curve that helps them determine the value of both assets and liabilities. Not having a real number at the 30-year point was problematic. The calculations used could muddy price-setting, particularly given the uncertainty of how and when central banks might extricate themselves from negative rates. Lage says that “what is a bit hard for the industry is that, if the interest rate curve – the govvie curve – ends at a 20-year point, what is the fair price for a 30-year asset?”

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There’s a lot more profit in selling arms to dozens of different countries than there is in selling them to alliances.

Bank of America: Trend For 2020s Will be the “End of Globalization” (PJW)

Bank of America says that one of the dominant trends for the 2020s will be the “end of globalization” as countries increasingly realize that the phenomenon has brought unsustainable “social disruption.” In a report mapping out what to expect over the next decade, BofA analysts said that largely unchecked globalization, which ran roughly from 1981-2016, “is coming to an end.” This change will take place due to “the widespread recognition that while globalization has meant lower consumer prices, it has also meant slower growth, precarious employment and social disruption.” This massive shift will make commodities like precious metals and real estate safer investment because governments will move to impose protectionist economic policies.


“Countries will develop explicit national industrial policies and boost spending on R&D to foster local innovation, protect nascent industries, and shield national champions from hostile foreign takeovers,” the analysts said. The transhumanist pursuit of “immortality” will also come to the fore in the next decade, as will a new tech arms race between the U.S. and China, dubbed the “Splinternet.” China will eventually win the race, allowing Beijing “to reach national superiority in technology over the long term vis-a-vis Quantum Computing, Big Data, 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Electric Vehicles, Robotics, and Cybersecurity.” “Ubiquitous connectivity” will also change the fabric of society, according to the report, with the ‘Internet of things’ embedded into virtually every new physical product, a development that critics argue will create an omnipresent Minority Report-style mass surveillance grid.

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And then voted for the people who made it possible.

Britons Paying 40% More For Energy Than In 2015 (G.)

Energy bills have risen by 40% in five years, taking average UK household costs up to a record of £2,707 a year, research has revealed. Comparethemarket’s study examined the costs of energy, home and motor insurance since 2015, and found that gas and electricity price increases were largely responsible for this year’s changes. The analysis says financial pressures have worsened despite the energy price cap introduced at the beginning of 2019. Dual fuel bills now cost an average of £1,813 a year, a 40% hike from £1,289 in 2015. The cap has led to many providers, particularly the big six – British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, npower, Scottish Power and SSE – raising their prices.


The annual report did not examine the costs of broadband, mobile or TV services, which also involve heavy outlays. Simon McCulloch of comparethemarket.com said: “A lot of attention during the general election was devoted to financial difficulties that many people face around the UK. “These statistics are a stark reminder of not only the high cost of essential services, but of the huge increases that have been seen in the past few years. The average cost of energy, motor and home insurance is now £675 higher than 2015 – far above the rate of inflation.”

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Bolivia shares quite a few similarities with Ukraine.

Spain Pulled Into Diplomatic Spat Between Bolivia, Mexico (AP)

A tense diplomatic feud between Bolivia’s conservative interim government and Mexico expanded to include Spain on Friday when a confrontation broke out as Spanish diplomats visited the Mexican ambassador’s residence in La Paz, where members of the ousted leftist government have taken refuge. Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric complained that Spanish diplomats were accompanied by masked and armed men on a visit to the residence, calling that an abuse of Bolivia’s sovereignty. She said a protest would be lodged with the EU, UN and Organization of American States. Television stations broadcast images of a masked person getting out of a Spanish diplomatic vehicle and exchanging words with local police.

Civilians then approached and began attacking the car, shouting that there could be an attempt to free nine officials sheltered inside. The interim government already has been feuding with Mexico, which not only gave refuge to the nine, but also sheltered ousted leader Evo Morales when he resigned the presidency on Nov. 10 after losing the support of the military and police following days of turbulent protests over alleged fraud in his reelection bid. Bolivian officials accuse several of those inside the embassy of electoral fraud as well as sedition and terrorism for their alleged role in protests that followed Morales’ ouster.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said the incident came as police intercepted Spanish embassy vehicles that were returning to the Mexican mission to pick up the ranking Spanish diplomat, who had made a “courtesy visit” to the Mexican ambassador. It said a Mexican diplomat in the car was also briefly detained but was allowed to pass after showing identification. Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said later it would investigate the incident. Spanish diplomats in their own country are sometime accompanied by bodyguards wearing masks to protect their identities as a security measure, though it wasn’t immediately clear if that was the case here.

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They guy’s a broken record: “..overwhelming and damning evidence..”

Schiff Goes for Total Coup, Now Targeting Pence (WJ)

It’s beginning to look like Rep. Adam Schiff isn’t content with simply ousting the president, instead hinting that he’s going for a total sweep of the White House by involving the vice president as well. The move would seemingly put his ally and fellow California Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in charge of the United States. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee hinted at the bombshell turn in a Dec. 18 talk with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. Maddow asked Schiff about his continuing role in the impeachment of President Donald Trump. “You seem to still be pulling on some threads here, including some potentially provocative and consequential ones,” she said. “I’m thinking specifically about a letter that you sent to the vice president’s office this week in which you raise questions as to what the vice president knew about the president’s behavior, the president’s scheme in Ukraine, and thereby essentially his potential involvement in any coverup of that behavior by the president.


“Are you actively looking at Vice President Mike Pence and his role in this scandal, and should we expect further revelations either related to the vice president or related to the other core parts of these allegations that have resulted in this impeachment tonight?” Schiff, in his usual habit of claiming to have overwhelming and damning evidence against his political enemies, said he now has something on Vice President Mike Pence. “We have acquired a piece of evidence,” he said, “a classified submission by [Pence aide] Jennifer Williams, something that she alluded to in her open testimony that, in going back and looking through her records, she found other information that was pertinent to that phone call that we had asked her about and made that submission. … “That submission does shed light on the vice president’s knowledge.”

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A DNC investigation would seem timely.

Russiagate Investigation Now Endangers Obama (Zuesse)

Comey would be expected to have been highly motivated to oppose Mr. Trump, because Trump publicly questioned whether NATO (the main international selling-arm for America’s ‘defense’-contractors) should continue to exist, and also because Comey’s entire career had been in the service of America’s Military-Industrial Complex, which is the reason why Comey’s main lifetime income has been the tens of millions of dollars he has received via the revolving door between his serving the federal Government and his serving firms such as Lockheed Martin. For these people, restoring, and intensifying, and keeping up, the Cold War, is a very profitable business. It’s called by some “the Military-Industrial Complex,” and by others “the Deep State,” but by any name it is simply agents of the billionaires who own and control US-based international corporations, such as General Dynamics and Chevron.

As a governmental official, making decisions that are in the long-term interests of those investors is the likeliest way to become wealthy. Consequently, Comey would have been benefitting himself, and other high officials of the Obama Administration, by sabotaging Trump’s campaign, and by weakening Trump’s Presidency in the event that he would become elected. Plus, of course, Comey would have been benefitting Obama himself. Not only was Trump constantly condemning Obama, but Obama had appointed to lead the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 Presidential primaries, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who as early as 20 February 2007 had endorsed Hillary Clinton for President in the Democratic Party primaries, so that Shultz was one of the earliest supporters of Clinton against even Obama himself.

In other words, Obama had appointed Shultz in order to increase the odds that Clinton — not Sanders— would become the nominee in 2016 to continue on and protect his own Presidential legacy. Furthermore, on 28 July 2016, Schultz became forced to resign from her leadership of the DNC after WikiLeaks released emails indicating that Schultz and other members of the DNC staff had exercised bias against Bernie Sanders and in favor of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic primaries — which favoritism had been the reason why Obama had appointed Shultz to that post to begin with.

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Five Alarm! He’s talking to his puppet master! Also, what are the odds the CIA has supported these planned terror attacks?

Vladimir Putin Thanks Donald Trump For Tip That Foiled Terror Plot (G.)

Russia said it had thwarted terror attacks reportedly planned in St Petersburg as the result of a tip from Washington, as President Vladimir Putin personally thanked his US counterpart Donald Trump. Russian news agencies cited the Federal Security Service (FSB) as saying that as a result of the information, two Russians had been detained on 27 December on suspicion of plotting attacks during new year festivities in St Petersburg. The Kremlin said Putin passed on his gratitude to Trump for the tip from US special services during a phone call on Sunday. It gave no further details.


Diplomatic ties between Washington and Moscow are fraught over disagreements concerning Ukraine and Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the US presidential election, but Trump and Putin have kept personal lines of communication open. Two years ago, the Russian leader phoned Trump to thank him for a tip that Russia said had helped prevent a bomb attack on a cathedral in St Petersburg. Russia has repeatedly been the target of attacks by militant groups including Isis. The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin and Trump had agreed to continue bilateral cooperation to tackle terrorism.

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How Washington celebrates New Year’s.

After US Strike On Iraqi Forces Its Troops Will -Again- Have To Leave (MoA)

Within Syria @WithinSyriaBlog – 17:43 UTC · Dec 29, 2019: “Trump just made the mistake of his presidency.” That may be true or may be not true. Here is what happened. On Friday a volley of some 30 107mm Katyusha rockets hit the K1 base which houses Iraqi and U.S. troops near Kirkuk, Iraq. One U.S. mercenary/contractor died, two Iraqi and four U.S. soldiers were wounded. Instead of finding the real culprits – ISIS remnants, disgruntled locals, Kurds who want to regain control over Kirkuk – the U.S. decided that Kata’ib Hizbullah was the group guilty of the attack.

Kata’ib Hizbullah is a mostly Shia group with some relations to Iran. It is part of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) which were founded and trained by Iran to stop and defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) when it occupied nearly a third of Iraq and Syria. KH is like all PMU units now under command and control of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. To take revenge for the death of one of its mercenaries the U.S. air force attacked five camps where Kata’ib Hizbullah and other Iraqi forces were stationed:

“In response to repeated Kata’ib Hizbollah (KH) attacks on Iraqi bases that host Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) coalition forces, U.S. forces have conducted precision defensive strikes against five KH facilities in Iraq and Syria that will degrade KH’s ability to conduct future attacks against OIR coalition forces. The five targets include three KH locations in Iraq and two in Syria. These locations included weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks on OIR coalition forces.” All of the KH positions that were hit were in the western Anbar desert on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border where KH is engaged in fighting the still active ISIS. The results of the air strikes were devastating:

Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai – 6:20 UTC · Dec 30, 2019: “32 killed and 45 wounded the count of #US violent aggression on #Iraq security forces brigades 45 and 46 last night on a military position established to counter-attack and raid #ISIS remnant at al-Qaem, the borders between Iraq and Syria.” The al-Qaem border station is the only open one between Iraq and Syria which is not under U.S. control. The U.S. was furious when the Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi allowed it to be established. It was previously attacked by Israel which had launched its assault from a U.S. air force base in east Syria.

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Branch manager and assistant branch manager

 

 

 

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Nov 202019
 
 November 20, 2019  Posted by at 7:35 pm Primers Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  29 Responses »


Rembrandt van Rijn The resurrection of Christ 1639

 

Man, I don’t want to do this but I get drawn back in all the time. I haven’t followed the latest episode of the Schiffwives of DC live today, I wasn’t behind my laptop, but I did make a bunch of notes on my phone and mailed them to myself. And all the time I’m thinking: we do remember how this all started, don’t we?

Ukrainegate got started on the premise that Trump wanted to hurt Joe Biden for the 2020 election. But what we see today from Gordon Sondland, and before from Taylor, Volker, Vindman, et al, goes back to spring/summer 2019, a year and a half before the election. Isn’t that premise at least a little bit flimsy, then?

Yeah, Joe Biden was leading in the Dems polls earlier this year, but there are now 28 candidates if I’m not mistaken, and Biden is not shoe-in for the nomination. So is Trump playing the same kinds of games he’s accused of playing with Biden with a handful of others, Bernie, Warren, Buttigieg? How much of this makes sense to you?

Tyler Durden earlier today said something to the effect that Sondland was supposed to be the BIG ONE, but that Taylor, Volker, Vindman were previously going to be just that as well, and turned out not to be. And that reminded me of Russiagate, in which every week or even day there were announcements of this is the BIG ONE, and we all know where that went: Robert Mueller turned out to be America’s biggest loser in decades.

So isn’t it perhaps a reasonable assumption (just as Trump targeting Biden for 2020 is also merely an assumption for now) that what Trump was looking for is fact finding about what happened in 2016? See, I would think it IS reasonable. We’re talking assumptions, not facts, no matter how much either side wants to believe their view is the BIG ONE.

And sure, I’ll admit that I have trouble believing that Trump wanted to hit Biden because of 2020, and I find it more credible that he wanted to figure out what happened in 2016, if only because that is what -perhaps indirectly, but still- led to the Mueller investigation and him being investigated from even before he took office.

And, this is again me speaking for myself, I don’t find Joe Biden’s line that “nothing has ever been proven” about him, his son Hunter and Burisma, particularly strong, because there’s never been an investigation. Or, rather, if we may believe former Ukraine prosecutors, investigations were shut down more than once.

In that light, how crazy exactly is/was it for Trump to ask Zelensky for such an investigation? Only Ukraine can do that, it’s not like the FBI can, or at least not officially. Biden/Burisma/Ukraine warrants an investigation, and saying no such thing should happen because “nothing has ever been proven” is the -apple- cart before the horse. So why are they trying to sell us the idea that Trump wanting to find this out is close to Judas betraying Jesus?

 

As I said, I was following proceedings on my phone earlier, and this headline from the Guardian stuck out: “Sondland’s Bombshell Testimony Blows Holes In Trump’s Ukraine Defence”. And that was after I read Tyler Durden quoting Michael Every at Rabobank:

“Impeachment rumbles on in the US, and while one’s reading of events depends on one’s political leanings, an objective analysis shows very little damage being done to Trump so far.”

And I thought: yeah, not damage to Trump, but what about to the nation? Here are two quotes form BBC and Guardian “live commentaries” on the Sondland testimony. Because these things change on the fly, it’s not much use adding URL’s. But just read them and tell me what you think. Note that both news outlets are strongly anti-Trump.

Sondland put two and two together and figured out the military aid was conditioned on the investigations, he said: “President Trump never told me directly that the military aid was conditioned on the investigations,” Sondland said, but Giuliani said “the Burisma and 2016 elections were conditioned on the White House meetings.” That contradicts Bill Taylor testimony about the nature of the quid pro quo, that Sondland told Taylor that Trump demanded investigations for aid. But “I never heard from president Trump that aid was conditioned on an announcement of elections [sic],” Sondland says. 


Now Sondland is talking about a phone conversation in which Trump told him there was no quid pro quo. Earlier Sondland had said he took the president at his word. Now Sondland is saying he and everyone else knew there was a clear quid pro quo.  Sondland said after “frantic emails to me and to others about the security assistance” from ambassador Bill Taylor, Sondland called Trump and asked, “what do you want from Ukraine… what do you want?”
It was a very short abrupt conversation, he was not in a good mood. He said I want nothing, I want nothing, there’s no quid pro quo. Tell Zelenskiy to do the right thing.”

 

And then this, I don’t remember if it was BBC or Guardian, but what’s the difference anyway?:

 

Vice president Mike Pence’s office denies that the scene with Sondland in Warsaw happened. From Pence chief of staff Marc Short, per @maggieNYT: “Marc Short responds to Sondland: “The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations…”


1/ “Ambassador Gordon Sondland was never alone with Vice President Pence on the September 1 trip to Poland. This alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador Sondland never happened…” 2/ “Multiple witnesses have testified under oath that Vice President Pence never raised Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden, Crowdstrike, Burisma, or investigations in any conversation with Ukrainians or President Zelensky before, during, or after the September 1 meeting”.

 

Presumption, assumptions, interpretations and “I thought (or I was sure) he meant” are not facts. They are what they are: personal reflections on what someone thought they had observed. They mean zilch in a court of law. or rather, they are not the kind of thing that can get someone convicted: witnesses in a court room may say what they think happened, but no judge or jury can convict based solely on that.

You need evidence. You need the body. You need the weapon. You need the BIG ONE. But Sondland, like all witnesses before him thus far, doesn’t have the BIG ONE. Or it would have been presented by now, either by him or by Adam Schiff. How many more of these supposed witnesses are we going to have to listen to in the Schiff theater?

I fully agree with people who say Schiff himself should be sworn in and conduct his theatrics under oath. Presently, he can say what he wants, accuse Trump of whatever he wants, and he can never be held to account for any of it. As he attempts to hold Trump accountable for a myriad of things that a myriad of civil servants “think” he meant to say or do. The playing field must be leveled. This is not a fair game.

Moreover, do remember that this whole impeachment thing must go to the Senate to get any real meaning; until it does it’s just a circus in which the clowns – or any of the animals- cannot be held to account. And the crows will insist that Jumbo did it. But, you know, that’s still just Disney, it’s entertainment.

 

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