Jul 232020
 


Berenice Abbott Triple Bridge New York 1950

 

Biden Labels Trump First Racist US President (R.)
Biden Just Made A Big Promise To His Wall Street Donors (Sirota)
US House Votes To Banish From Capitol Statues Of Who Championed Slavery (R.)
America’s Problem With Policing Doesn’t Stop at the US Border (IC)
COVID19 Vaccines With ‘Minor Side Effects’ Could Still Be Pretty Bad (Wired)
Sweden Hoped Herd Immunity Would Curb COVID19 (25 Swedish Doctors, Scientists)
Richard Wolff: Capitalism May Not Survive 2020 Global Crisis (RT)
Volatility Is More Than A Number. It’s Everything (RIA)
Fake-Shaped Russophobia (RT)
She Clicked A Button On The Wells Fargo Website. Here’s What Happened (NBC)
Work-from-Home A Nightmare for Office Landlords & Surrounding Businesses (WS)
Tesla’s 1st Four-Quarter Profit Streak: Fat Payout For Musk, S&P 500 Entry (F.)
Canada Court Rules ‘Safe Third Country’ Pact With US Invalid (R.)
Twitter Says 36 Accounts Were Hacked, Including Dutch Elected Official (R.)
CIA ‘Obsessed’ With Former UK Envoy Craig Murray (CN)
Cancel Culture Takes The Fun Out Of Life – John Cleese (ZH)
Russian Zoologist Warns Polar Bears Could Be Extinct Within A Generation (RT)

 

 

Joe Biden calls Trump the first racist US president. Now people will really think he’s nuts. Did his handlers make him say that, teleprompter, or did he have a ‘lucid’ moment? Might as well put all those statues back up again then. But not the confederate ones. Focus has shifted from slaveowners to southerners now for Pelosi et al.

Convenient. All the bad people are in the south, and all the good people are in the north. Even Americans can understand things that way. And Washington and Jefferson are safe for now. And so is Biden’s very racist friend Strom Thurmond. Oh wait, wasn’t he a southerner? I hope I’m not the only one who thinks this has fast become a really stupid conversation. Worthy of a US presidential election.

 

 

Anothe new world record.

US passes 4 million cases.

New US deaths are back to the levels of late May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topol

Ben Hunt

 

 

Did his puppeteers lose sight of him for a moment? Or was this planned?

Biden Labels Trump First Racist US President (R.)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden labeled Donald Trump on Wednesday the first racist to become U.S. president in remarks his opponent’s re-election campaign quickly rebuked. Biden, who was vice president under Barack Obama, the first Black U.S. president, fielded a question at a Service Employees International Union roundtable from a healthcare worker concerned about the Republican president calling the coronavirus pandemic the “China virus.” He responded by saying it was “absolutely sickening” how Trump “deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from.”


He added: “No sitting president’s ever done this. Never, never, never. No Republican president has done this. No Democratic president. We’ve had racists, and they’ve existed, and they’ve tried to get elected president. He’s the first one that has.” Trump campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson fired back, calling Biden’s comments “an insult to the intelligence of Black voters” given the onetime senator’s past work with segregationist lawmakers. She said Trump “loves all people” and “works hard to empower all Americans.” A number of U.S. presidents owned slaves or supported policies including the repression of Native Americans and segregation of Black Americans. Princeton University said last month it was dropping former President Woodrow Wilson’s name from the school, citing his racist thinking and policies.

Read more …

Here’s Sirota from the Bernie camp again. Where’s Bernie though?

Biden Just Made A Big Promise To His Wall Street Donors (Sirota)

Two weeks ago, Joe Biden rightly received praise for creating policy task forces that released a package of progressive legislative initiatives. The proposals augmented Biden’s previous legislative initiatives to change corporate behavior. The task forces were meant to unify the Democratic Party after the primary and their recommendations were blared all over the world in glowing headlines promising an era of progressive change under a Biden administration. Then this past Monday, Biden told his Wall Street donors that actually, he will propose no new legislation to rein in corporate power or change corporate behavior — and this was reported exactly nowhere, even as his campaign blasted it out to the national press corps.

You don’t have to believe me, you can click here to read the full pool report that the Biden campaign distributed to the press after his teleconference fundraiser. That event was headlined by Jon Gray, a top executive at the Blackstone Group, which is a private equity behemoth at the center of the climate, health care, housing and pension crises. Blackstone executives had already donated $130,000 to the Biden campaign and $350,000 to a super PAC supporting him. Here’s the relevant section, reviewing what Biden said: “Second question, again from Mr. Gray, who noted that there are “a bunch of business leaders” on the line. “What do you think is essential to get this economy rolling again?” “I come from the corporate state of American, many of you incorporated here,” said Mr. Biden.


“It used to be that corporate America had a sense of responsibility beyond just CEO salaries and shareholders.” “Corporate America has to change its ways. It’s not going to require legislation. I’m not proposing any. We’ve got to think about how we deal people back in.” There’s an obvious contradiction here. Before making these comments, Biden had previously promised to pass legislative initiatives to change corporate behavior on everything from climate change to tax policy. He has an entire section of his website outlining promises to pass corporate accountability legislation. He has received praise for these kind of promises. But now he’s telling his donors they can rest assured that legislation to change corporate behavior is not forthcoming. Indeed, read Biden’s comment again: “It’s not going to require legislation. I’m not proposing any.”

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So now it’s about Confederates, but no longer about slaveholders? It’s hard to follow at times.

US House Votes To Banish From Capitol Statues Of Who Championed Slavery (R.)

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to remove statues honoring those who upheld slavery or joined the Confederacy from the Capitol building, which houses statues selected by all 50 states. The statues and busts include one honoring former U.S. Chief Justice Roger Taney, who authored a key decision supporting slavery. Democrats have also pointed to a statue of John C. Breckinridge, a former vice president and senator who was expelled from the body after joining the Confederate army. Democratic Representative Barbara Lee called the statues “painful symbols of bigotry and racism.” She said they did “nothing more than keep white supremacy front-and-center in one of the most influential buildings in the world.”

The bill passed by a vote of 305-113, with Republicans deeply divided. The bill must also be approved by the Republican-controlled Senate and signed by President Donald Trump. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has not indicated whether he would bring the bill to a vote. Trump has lashed out at the idea of removing statues, accusing Democrats of wanting to erase the nation’s history. He has threatened to veto a House-passed $740 billion bill setting policy for the Pentagon because it contains language that would require the military to remove the names of former Confederate leaders from its bases.


Taney wrote the majority opinion in the 1857 “Dred Scott” case, ruling that Black Americans could not be considered citizens and that Congress could not prohibit slavery. It later was overturned by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which was adopted in 1868. Representative James Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, told reporters his party was not advocating the destruction of statues, adding they could be placed in museums “until the states that sent them up here … can come and get them.”

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It is beyond me how on earth you can write a piece like this without mentioning Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Reality Winner even once. It makes your piece worse than worthless.

America’s Problem With Policing Doesn’t Stop at the US Border (IC)

George Floyd wasn’t the first victim of state violence in the United States; law enforcement officers have killed countless people who were never properly memorialized and for whom justice was never sought. Part of what made Floyd’s murder especially cruel — setting off what may be the largest protest movement in U.S. history — is that it was a public execution that lasted for 8 minutes and 46 seconds and was broadcast online. Floyd gave a face, a story, and a video to the issue of state violence situated in white supremacy. As civil rights attorney David Lane has written, “Police brutality hasn’t increased. Videoing brutal cops has increased and white America is finally seeing it.”

Now that Floyd’s murder has forced a national conversation about policing within our country’s borders, it’s time the American public begins to reckon with the victims of our foreign policy abroad. Since waging the war on Iraq, how many Americans can name a single one of the approximately 200,000 civilian casualties of that war? Even when exposed to the gross images of torture at Abu Ghraib at the hands of members of the U.S. military, the victims’ faces remained blurred and their names unknown.

What if we knew the names, faces, and stories of the victims of Eddie Gallagher, the war criminal pardoned by President Donald Trump who, according to his colleagues, would be OK with “killing anybody that was moving” during his time in Iraq? Or the 30 pine nut farm workers in Afghanistan caught off guard by a U.S. drone in 2019? When the U.S. military chooses to publicize its actions abroad, the videos we get of drone strikes usually include little more than a sudden green haze demonstrating the might of American weaponry. We don’t hear the last cries of the unsuspecting victims. We don’t see them hold each other tight, hoping they’ll somehow be missed. We see our machinery, but never their humanity. They don’t even become hashtags: just hidden casualties.

For years, researchers have logged the details of America’s opaque drone war, a fulcrum of the war on terror that is a signature part of President Barack Obama’s legacy, now continued by Trump. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that up to 17,000 people have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia, while Airwars has tracked reports of nearly 30,000 civilians being killed by the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The Intercept in 2015 published a secret cache of U.S. government documents detailing the inner workings of the drone program, and a New York Times investigation in 2017 found that civilians were killed at a rate 31 times higher than that acknowledged by the anti-ISIS coalition.

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Because of this people will refuse to take the vaccines if they are ever released.

COVID19 Vaccines With ‘Minor Side Effects’ Could Still Be Pretty Bad (Wired)

More good news on progress toward an escape route from this pandemic: On Monday, vaccine researchers from Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced results from a “Phase I/II trial,” suggesting their product might be able to generate immunity without causing serious harm. Similar, but smaller-scale results, were posted just last week for another candidate vaccine produced by the biotech firm Moderna, in collaboration with the US National Institutes of Health. As both these groups and others push ahead into the final phase of testing, it’s vital that the public has a clear and balanced understanding of this work—one that cuts through all the marketing and hype. But we’re not off to a good start.

The evidence so far suggests that we’re getting blinkered by these groups’ PR, and so seduced by stories of their amazing speed that we’re losing track of everything else. In particular, neither the mainstream media nor the medical press has given much attention to the two vaccines’ potential downsides—in particular, their risk of nasty adverse effects, even if they’re not life-threatening. This sort of puffery doesn’t only help to build a false impression; it may also dry the tinder for the future spread of vaccine fearmongering. If journalists don’t start asking tougher questions, this will become the perfect setup for anti-vaccine messaging: Here’s what they forgot to tell you about the risks … Back in May, a CNN report described the Oxford group as being “the most aggressive in painting the rosiest picture” of its product, so let’s start with them.

Just how rosy is the Oxford picture really? It’s certainly true that this week’s news shows the vaccine has the potential to provide protection from Covid-19. But there are flies in the ointment. After the first clinical trial for this vaccine began in April, for example, the researchers added new study arms in which people got acetaminophen every six hours for 24 hours after the injection. That’s not featured in their marketing, of course, and I saw no discussion of this unusual step in media coverage in early summer. Newspapers only said the vaccine had been proven “safe with rhesus monkeys,” and did not cause any adverse effects in those animal tests. It was a worrying signal though: How rough a ride were people having with this vaccine? Was the acetaminophen meant to keep down fever, headaches, malaise—or all of the above?

The Oxford group is also giving acetaminophen to participants in an advanced, phase III trial now underway in Brazil too. In another major study of the vaccine, involving 10,000 people in the UK, you can’t participate if you have an allergy or condition that could be made worse with acetaminophen. No mention of the extra drug, though, in the same group’s trial in South Africa. Journalists could have pressed them on this issue months ago. The first people to get vaccines are carefully picked to be the least likely to have a negative reaction. If the Oxford vaccine is knocking them around badly, it might not bode well for the rest of us. Don’t get me wrong: A day or two of pain or illness wouldn’t deter me from getting an effective Covid-19 vaccine. But I think we need to be prepared if that’s going to be the case.

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Quite the put-down.

Sweden Hoped Herd Immunity Would Curb COVID19 (25 Swedish Doctors, Scientists)

The motives for the Swedish Public Health Agency’s light-touch approach are somewhat of a mystery. Some other countries that initially used this strategy swiftly abandoned it as the death toll began to increase, opting instead for delayed lockdowns. But Sweden has been faithful to its approach. Why? Gaining herd immunity, where large numbers of the population (preferably younger) are infected and thereby develop immunity, has not been an official goal of the Swedish Public Health Agency. But it has said immunity in the population could help suppress the spread of the disease, and some agency statements suggest it is the secret goal.

Further evidence of this is that the agency insists on mandatory schooling for young children, the importance of testing has been played down for a long time, the agency refused to acknowledge the importance of asymptomatic spread of the virus (concerningly, it has encouraged those in households with COVID-19 infected individuals to go to work and school) and still refuses to recommend masks in public, despite the overwhelming evidence of their effectiveness. In addition, the stated goal of the Swedish authorities was always not to minimize the epidemic, but rather slow it down, so that the health care system wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

Several authorities, including the World Health Organization, have condemned herd immunity as a strategy. “It can lead to a very brutal arithmetic that does not put people and life and suffering at the center of that equation,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a press conference in May. Regardless of whether herd immunity is a goal or a side effect of the Swedish strategy, how has it worked out? Not so well, according to the agency’s own test results. The proportion of Swedes carrying antibodies is estimated to be under 10%, thus nowhere near herd immunity. And yet, the Swedish death rate is unnerving. Sweden has a death toll greater than the United States: 556 deaths per million inhabitants, compared with 425, as of July 20.

Sweden also has a death toll more than four and a half times greater than that of the other four Nordic countries combined — more than seven times greater per million inhabitants. For a number of weeks, Sweden has been among the top in the world when it comes to current reported deaths per capita. And despite this, the strategy in essence remains the same.

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Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Richard Wolff: Capitalism May Not Survive 2020 Global Crisis (RT)

The current global crisis triggered by Covid-19 is the third capitalist crash in this century. And governments’ incapacity to consider non-capitalist solutions threatens to keep deepening this crisis into capitalism’s worst. [..] Because capitalism’s periodic downturns (crashes, recessions, depressions, crises, business cycles, busts, etc.) occur on average every four to seven years, attributing each one to its different trigger has the effect of distracting attention from the system’s inherent instability. It also distracts from other basic problems that global capitalism has never solved. Those have now exploded together, converging on this capitalist downturn to make it extreme. Here are the five converging crises. Each country will exhibit its own mixture of some or all of them. The United States suffers them all, and this partly is why its economic crash and coronavirus pandemic are so extreme.

The first is climate change (rising air and water temperatures, floods, droughts, fires, etc.) that disrupts the world economy in multiple ways. The second is inequality. As French economist Thomas Piketty and countless others have shown, capitalism worsens inequality of wealth and income continuously unless and until the mass of impoverished revolt or threaten to. The third is racism. Many capitalist societies divide their people into portions kept relatively safe from capitalism’s recurring crashes and portions obliged to absorb them and their terrible consequences of poverty, unemployment, slum dwelling, poor education, inadequate medical care, and so on. It is simply too dangerous for capitalism’s reproduction over time to threaten its entire working class with random, periodic unemployment, poverty, etc. In the US, African-Americans have played the role of crisis shock-absorber throughout the nation’s history. In other countries, religious or ethnic minorities or immigrants play that role.

The fourth is instability, the periodic crashes that accelerate inequality and reinforce racism. And the fifth is the viral pandemic. Private profit calculations lead private corporations almost everywhere to NOT produce and stockpile the means to contain viral pandemics. Because governments pander to the idea that private, profit-maximizing capitalists are paragons of “efficiency,” they mostly failed to compensate for the private capitalists’ failure. So the pandemic was inadequately prepared-for and inadequately contained. The more each government was committed to laissez-faire capitalism, the less it offset private capitalism’s lack of preparedness for dangerous viruses, and the worst is the coronavirus pandemic. The US and Brazil are today’s glaring examples.

The five converging crises persuade me that today’s global crisis will cut deeper and last longer than most are currently predicting. The logical response to the 2020 crisis would have been to keep all workers employed doing all that was necessary to contain the pandemic. This means, for example, government rehiring those fired by private employers, massively training them to test entire populations, to take care of the sick, and to otherwise build what the society needs (infrastructure, education, housing, etc) under pandemic conditions of social distancing, masks, gloves, etc.

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I like the people at RIA. But look, if we can agree that the Fed sets prices in what were once markets, which they no longer are precisely because of that, can we perhaps agree that terms like “volatility” are then also rendered entirely meaningless?

Volatility Is More Than A Number. It’s Everything (RIA)

The assumption of a normally distributed bell curve is at the heart of finance. Embedded in that assumption is the idea that market participants are rational and markets efficient. It drives risk management, option pricing, and many economic and market theories. The problem with such analysis is that the assumption is flat out wrong. In a normal shaped curve, the S&P 500 should never move by more than five standard deviations up or down. By “never,” we mean once every 3.5 million trading days (approximately 14,000 years). Since 1970 there have been 34 such days. In March of 2020 alone, there were 7! Quite often, investors use volatility to define risk. For instance, with S&P 500 data from 1970, an investor can assume, with 95% certainty, that they will not lose more than 2.16% on any given day.

By annualizing volatility, we can create measures of longer-term risks. Investors often take the relationship between volatility and risk as gospel. That mistake often leads investors to underappreciate risk. Astute investors must understand the flaws in volatility assumptions and prepare for the statistically impossible. Now forget the bell curves and complicated statistics. Let’s redefine volatility to something simpler and more practical. “Volatility is the opposite of liquidity, by definition.” – Per Todd Harrison @toddharrison. Here is what Todd means. Market A has buyers and sellers willing to execute many shares in tight price increments around the current price. Market B has few buyers and sellers willing to execute. Their bids and offers are smaller in size and in a less uniform range of increments around the current price.


A will trade up and down, penny by penny, in a somewhat orderly fashion. B will trade up and down in much larger increments as buyers and sellers must relent more on price if they want to execute at the moment. A is more liquid than market B. As a result, A will also be less volatile than B. Liquidity dynamics are fluid. If, for instance, confidence were to erode and uncertainty increases, liquidity conditions underlying Market A will deteriorate rapidly and look more like Market B. Such a situation leads to an imbalance in bids and offers, and it becomes less clear where the market-clearing price is. As a result, prices “gap” or lurch down as potential buyers step away. Desperate seller then panic to find a price to transact. In other words, volatility soars when markets are less liquid. Conversely, volatility is low and stable when markets have an equilibrium of bids and offers concentrated around a common price.

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We should force these wankers to stop blaming Russia for eveything. This has gotten dangerously out of hand. Never any proof.

Fake-Shaped Russophobia (RT)

Russian officials have dismissed a new British parliamentary report on Moscow’s alleged clandestine interference in UK politics, saying it lacks proof and is laced with Russophobia. The report by London’s Intelligence and Security Committee, released on Tuesday, has shown “nothing sensational” and is just “fake shaped Russophobia,” said Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry. The deputy chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Russian Parliament, Aleksey Chepa, said the document attempted to blame Russia for the failures of the British government and “was not worth a penny”. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said ahead of the report’s official publication that he would bet that the document would be “just a new round of evidence-free allegations.”

Peskov noted that numerous attempts to place Russia at the centre of the outcome of elections in other countries had merely “produced negative results and failed to prove anything.” He added that Moscow never interfered in the domestic political affairs of other nations and worked hard to prevent foreign players from interfering in Russia’s own politics. The long-awaited 55-page report claimed that Moscow has been waging “influence campaigns” targeting British politics, using digital media, wealthy individuals, and other means. The MPs said national intelligence needed more legislative powers and tools to counter the “unique challenge” of Russia.


British state media also operates in Russia and covers the Russian political scene, strongly favoring opposition movements. Among other things, the report claimed that Russia had secretly had a hand in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, but said public allegations that it had influenced the 2016 Brexit referendum could not be confirmed by British intelligence. Some have pointed out that this suits the present British government which supports Brexit, but opposes Scottish independence.

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The real cancel culture?!

She Clicked A Button On The Wells Fargo Website. Here’s What Happened (NBC)

In March, Tammi Wilson was checking on her family’s mortgage online at Wells Fargo when she saw a link to information about COVID-19 on the bank’s website. After clicking through, she provided contact information so she could receive materials on programs at the bank. Days later, she said, she returned to the payment page to transmit what she and her husband, David, owed on their loan. A message popped up saying she had no active accounts and couldn’t make the payment. Wilson later learned what had happened. Without her knowledge, the bank had put her into a program that suspended payments on her federally backed loan. Known as forbearance, it is a CARES Act program that aims to help borrowers who are having trouble making their payments because they’ve been hurt by COVID-19.

Because she hadn’t asked for forbearance, Wilson continued to make all her family’s mortgage payments. She has also spent hours on the phone with Wells Fargo to get out of the program. Finally, on July 1, the bank sent her a letter confirming her request to “opt out” of the program she said she never opted into. Still, Wilson’s credit report, dated July 18 and reviewed by NBC News, shows that the family mortgage is “in forbearance” and that the April and May payments weren’t credited to the account, even though the Wilsons submitted them. While in forbearance, Wilson and her husband almost certainly can’t refinance their mortgage, because most banks won’t underwrite new loans for borrowers whose mortgage payments are suspended.

As long as the forbearance notation remains in their credit report, the Wilsons can’t take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates and are stuck at Wells Fargo. “I click this button and next thing I know, I’m getting a thing that says I’m deferred and I can’t reverse something I didn’t even want,” Wilson said in an interview. “If you’re going to help people, there is a super simple first step — just ask, ‘Do you need our help?'” Under the CARES Act, which provides help on loans backed by the government-sponsored companies Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae and others, borrowers harmed by COVID-19 can ask to suspend their mortgage payments for up to a year. The amounts they owe during the period are either tacked onto the ends of the loans or paid off before. No additional fees, interest or penalties can accrue on the loans while they are in forbearance.

Last week, NBC News reported on borrowers in Chapter 13 bankruptcy whom Wells Fargo had placed, without their permission, in forbearance programs. But the bank’s practice extends beyond such specialized borrowers, some of whom contacted NBC News. Wells Fargo is one of the largest U.S. banks that underwrites and services home loans. Borrowers in at least 14 states have told courts, lawyers or NBC News that they have been forced into forbearance plans by Wells Fargo: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

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And the entire car industry.

Work-from-Home A Nightmare for Office Landlords & Surrounding Businesses (WS)

This appears to be an increasingly global phenomenon. Roughly 60% of bank executives in the US said they don’t expect all of their employees to return to the office. And over 40% said they plan to reduce their real estate footprint in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey of US bank executives by Accenture Plc. Some banks are already making long-term changes. In Midtown Manhattan, French megabank BNP Paribas renewed its lease at the 787 Seventh Avenue tower. But it shrank its footprint by 38%: According to the Commercial Observer, instead of renewing the lease for the 454,200 it currently occupies at the building, it signed a lease for only 280,000 square feet.

In London, large financial institutions are the biggest tenants of the toniest commercial real estate. And they are now seriously reevaluating not only how much workspace they require but what sort of form it should take. Even allowing for physical distancing measures, such as the separation of desks, most companies now have a lot more office space than they think they’ll need, especially if they end up laying off large numbers of workers when the government’s job retention scheme comes to an end, which is scheduled to happen in September. Goldman Sachs and Nomura said over the weekend that they plan to send only 10% of their UK workforce back to their City of London offices.


Last week, the 30 biggest employers in the City of London said they only intend to bring 20-40% of their workforce back in the coming months. One of the UK’s “Big Four” banks, RBS (which was renamed “Natwest” today in yet another re-branding exercise for the scandal-tarnished lender) announced that close to 50,000 of its 63,000 workers will continue working from home, at least for the rest of this year. [..] That the British government can’t even persuade RBS — which is still 63% owned by the British State following the bailout during the Financial Crisis — to get its workers back into the office does not augur well for its efforts to halt or reverse the trend toward home working. By now, 49% of all UK workers are working from home, up from 5% just before the lockdown.

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The Fed blows bubbles.

Tesla’s 1st Four-Quarter Profit Streak: Fat Payout For Musk, S&P 500 Entry (F.)

Tesla has finally racked up four consecutive profitable quarters, a decade after the iconic electric-car maker’s IPO, ensuring that controversial CEO Elon Musk will receive a massive stock payout worth more than $2 billion and likely paving the way for it to join the S&P 500. Musk also said Tesla’s next auto-assembly plant will be built in Austin, Texas. The company reported second-quarter net income of $104 million and earnings per share of 50 cents, topping consensus expectations of an adjusted loss per share of 11 cents. Revenue was $6.04 billion, down from a year ago but beating a consensus estimate of $5.4 billion. As usual, sales of regulatory credits to other automakers were a lucrative revenue source, bringing in $428 million of free money in the quarter (and a record $732 million in the first half).

The results come after a turbulent first half in which Musk’s aggressive growth plans were thrown off track by the coronavirus pandemic that disrupted vehicle production at the company’s main plant in California. Although frustration with health officials in Tesla’s home state triggered a series of erratic tweets and threats to relocate to other parts of the U.S., production operations seemed to return to normal in the quarter’s second half. “We consider the quarter a low-quality beat,” CFRA equity analyst Garret Nelson said in a research note, as “results were boosted by an unusually high level of auto regulatory credit revenue.” The surprisingly large $428 million credit figure compares to an average of $183 million over the last four quarters, according to Nelson, who rates the shares a Sell.


“While TSLA once again managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat for earnings, we believe its share price has become decoupled from underlying fundamentals and see growing risks surrounding the story as shares increasingly appear priced to perfection.” Nevertheless, the results make it likely that Tesla’s board will certify requirements for the second tranche of Musk’s massive multiyear pay package have been met, including market capitalization averaging $150 billion over trailing 60- and 30-day periods and Tesla achieving either EBITDA of $3 billion or revenue of $35 billion over four consecutive quarters.

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Canada’s Charter of Rights.

Canada Court Rules ‘Safe Third Country’ Pact With US Invalid (R.)

A Canadian court on Wednesday ruled invalid a bilateral pact that compels asylum seekers trying to enter Canada via the American border to first seek sanctuary in the United States, saying U.S. immigration detention violates their human rights. Under the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), asylum seekers who arrive at a formal Canada-U.S. border crossing going in either direction are turned back and told to apply for asylum in the first country they arrived in. Lawyers for refugees who had been turned away at the Canadian border challenged the pact, saying the United States does not qualify as a “safe” country under President Donald Trump.


Federal Court Judge Ann Marie McDonald ruled that the agreement was in violation of a section of Canada’s Charter of Rights that says laws or state actions that interfere with life, liberty and security must conform to the principles of fundamental justice. McDonald suspended her decision for six months to give Parliament a chance to respond. The agreement remains in place during that time.

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Word in Holland is the official is Geert Wilders. Meanwhile, Kim Dotcom says the hackers got in through a backdoor built for US intelligence, which gives them access to everything.

Twitter Says 36 Accounts Were Hacked, Including Dutch Elected Official (R.)

Twitter said on Wednesday that the hackers who breached its systems last week likely read the direct messages of 36 accounts, including one belonging to an elected official in the Netherlands. In tweets from its support account and an updated blog post, Twitter said it had no indication that the private messages of any other elected officials were obtained. Twitter previously said the attackers tweeted from 45 “verified” accounts, including those belonging to such well-known names as CEOs Elon Musk and Bill Gates and former Vice President Joe Biden.


Asked by Reuters if the 36 accounts where messages might have been read included any verified accounts, Twitter said it would not answer. In general, someone with the ability to tweet from an account would also be able to read previously sent or received messages that had not been deleted. That would make it likely that some of the most famous people in the world had private messages read by hackers still at large. The FBI is investigating the case from its San Francisco office.

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Offered info on Assange. Mueller ignored him too. Knew it wasn’t the info he wanted to hear. Coward.

CIA ‘Obsessed’ With Former UK Envoy Craig Murray (CN)

The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange says he was the “top target” of the 24/7 surveillance of Assange at Ecuador’s embassy in London by the Spanish security company UC Global, which, according to press reports and court documents, shared the surveillance with the CIA. Craig Murray said he has been contacted by an attorney in the spying case on Assange and that he will be going to Madrid to testify. The founder of UC Global, David Morales, was arrested over the surveillance (including privileged Assange-lawyer conversations) and is on trial. Murray told former CIA analyst Ray McGovern in an email, shared with Consortium News with Murray’s permission, that the CIA was “obsessed” with him.

Murray told McGovern that he had offered to give evidence to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who spent $32 million and more than two years investigating an alleged conspiracy between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, including how WikiLeaks obtained emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Mueller concluded there was no evidence of a conspiracy between Moscow and Trump, but maintained Russian agents “hacked” the emails and delivered them to WikiLeaks for publication. Murray has said that different persons with legal access to the DNC and Podesta emails were WikiLeaks’ sources.


“I wrote to Mueller offering to give evidence, never received any reply,” Murray wrote to McGovern on Wednesday. “Never had any request for an interview by any US authorities.” Murray then wrote, “BUT I received a message from the lawyer in the case in Madrid about the spying on Assange in the Embassy, contracted by the CIA, which said that I was the ‘top target’ for the contractors and the evidence shows they were ‘obsessed with’ me. I shall be going to Madrid to give evidence.” Murray added: “Just why the US security services declined my offer of free evidence yet were obsessed with spying on me is an interesting question…”

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empleomania

Cancel Culture Takes The Fun Out Of Life – John Cleese (ZH)

Former Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star John Cleese has had enough of political correctness and the cancel culture, and as for the state of the “dysfunctional world we live in,” warning that “it’s completely hopeless…” As for the sense of hopelessness he feels, Cleese blames the “power seekers.” “I believe there’s something wrong with these people. The reason they want to be powerful is that they want to control people, so that they don’t get lathered into situations that they can’t control emotionally. The one thing they fear is losing power, so they’ll do almost anything to hold on to it. If they don’t know what they’re doing or what they’re talking about, there’s no way (the world) will ever get well.”

The 80 year old comedian is as politically savvy as he is humorous as he brings his one-man-show “Why There Is No Hope” to live-stream after blasting the BBC last month as “cowardly and gutless” for temporarily taking down an episode of Fawlty Towers that made fun of Germans and World War II and also featured a character using a racial slur. Cancel culture “misunderstands the main purposes of life which is to have fun”, Cleese told Reuters, referring to the trend in which people are ostracised because of behaviour or remarks seen as objectionable. “Everything humorous is critical. If you have someone who is perfectly kind and intelligent and flexible and who always behaves appropriately, they’re not funny. Funniness is about people who don’t do that, like Trump.”


Summing the current state of the world up perfectly, Cleese says, the problem with political correctness, he added, is that comedians “have to set the bar according to what we are told by the most touchy, most emotionally unstable and fragile and least stoic people in the country”.

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Females can’t keep their babies alive anymore.

Russian Zoologist Warns Polar Bears Could Be Extinct Within A Generation (RT)

A shocking new study has found that polar bears could be made extinct by the end of the century unless decisive steps are taken to combat climate change. But a Russian zoologist believes it could happen before 2040. In an interview with news agency NCN, Russian TV presenter and prominent zoologist Nikolai Drozdov predicted that polar bears will be extinct in the Arctic within a generation. “According to my most moderate forecasts, the extinction of the species may occur even earlier than 2100. I think that it will happen in 20 years,” he said. The initial report, published in the British journal Nature Climate Change, has revealed that some polar bear populations are already on the brink of survival, due to shrinking ice cover in the Arctic Ocean. Less ice means that the bears are forced to travel a greater distance, or move inland, to find food.


The scientists behind the study calculated that if the world maintains the present high levels of greenhouse gas emissions all but a few will disappear from the wild by 2100. According to Dr. Stephen Amstrup, chief scientist at Polar Bears International, the survival rate of newborn polar bears will decrease as “the females won’t have enough body fat to produce milk to bring them along through the ice-free season.” The reason for Drozdov’s much more pessimistic prediction is also nutrition. According to him, male polar bears can’t find food and don’t go into hibernation, while females have offspring which need to be fed – but there’s not enough. In 2019, Russian polar bears made headlines across the planet when dozens were seen trying to enter homes on the Arctic island of Novaya Zemlya. According to Russia’s World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the animals were being forced into villages to search for food.

Read more …

 

 

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Sep 022019
 


Strongest storm ever to threaten Florida east coast

 

 

‘Get Ready for Brexit’: Government Launches Information Blitz (G.)
Johnson’s Brexit Gambit Puts Queen in a Tight Spot (Spiegel)
Leaked No-Deal Report Says Lorries Could Face 48-Hour Delays At Dover (PA)
Irish Border After Brexit – All Ideas Beset By Issues Says Secret Paper (G.)
Many US Firms Already Have Ditched China, More On The Way (CNBC)
Hong Kong Students Boycott Classes As Chinese Media Warns ‘End Is Coming’ (G.)
Why Has The U.S. CEO-To-Worker Pay Ratio Increased So Much? (Colombo)
In The Era Of Neurocapitalism, Your Brain Needs New Rights (Vox)
Hollywood Reboots Russophobia For The New Cold War (Parry)
A Black Hole So Big It Shouldn’t Even Exist Is Baffling Scientists (RT)

 

 

After carefully making sure there were no needy people left in the country, and no children were going hungry, the new UK gov decided to spend £100+ million on an advertising campaign. They’re going to absolutely bombard, if not strangle, you with this stuff. You won’t be able to escape it.

‘Get Ready for Brexit’: Government Launches Information Blitz (G.)

The billboards have been unveiled, the branded mugs have been ordered and the adverts will soon start following you around the internet after the government launched what it claimed to be the largest ever public information campaign in an effort to prepare the British public for leaving the EU. The Get Ready for Brexit campaign went live on Sunday, stating that the UK would be leaving the EU on 31 October and urging the public to visit a new website to check what they needed to do to prepare for a no-deal exit. The slogan appeared for the first time on a giant advertising screen next to a John Lewis store at the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, east London, looming over visitors.

Downing Street has previously briefed that the taxpayer-funded advertising campaign will cost up to £100m, although doubts have been raised over whether the government will realistically be able to spend that much on a campaign lasting just two months. One leading advertising industry source pointed out that this figure was substantially higher than the amount spent on traditional advertising in the UK by major consumer brands such as Amazon, Tesco and Asda in the whole of 2018. This suggests that either the government is overstating the amount it intends to spend in an attempt to draw extra attention or that Downing Street really is launching an advertising campaign that will be unequalled in its ubiquity.


Michael Gove, the cabinet minister in charge of no-deal planning, said: “Ensuring an orderly Brexit is not only a matter of national importance, but a shared responsibility” as he launched the adverts by referring to government polling that showed only 50% of the population thought it was likely the UK would leave the EU on 31 October. The same research found that 42% of small- to medium-sized businesses were still unsure of how they could prepare for Brexit and just a third of the British public have looked for information on what they will need to do, suggesting large-scale ignorance of what Brexit will involve with less than two months to go until the expected departure date.=

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View from Germany: “..the last intact pillar of the United Kingdom: its queen…”

Johnson’s Brexit Gambit Puts Queen in a Tight Spot (Spiegel)

[..] the anger of the masses isn’t being directed solely at the man in Downing Street. One of the last taboos for many Brits has also been broken: blatant criticism of the queen. “The. Queen. Did. Not. Save. Us,” tweeted Labour Party politician Kate Osamor, and hinted at the abolition of the monarchy. Her party leader Jeremy Corbyn asked the queen in writing for a personal meeting to protest against Johnson’s coup. Jo Swinson, the head of the EU-friendly Liberal Democrats, also wrote to the queen asking for an “urgent meeting.” After three years of the country beating itself up in the Brexit debate, Johnson is now leading Britain into the last round of the ordeal – an unprecedented showdown between the executive, the legislative and the judiciary, which, incidentally, threatens to damage the last intact pillar of the United Kingdom: its queen.


It’s impossible to predict what will ensue in the coming weeks – aside from chaos. But there is much to suggest Johnson wants precisely that, and at any cost, in order to deliver the main promise he made to become British prime minister – to lead his country out of the EU on Oct. 31, with or without an agreement. After the G-7 summit in Biarritz, Johnson may have praised the EU’s willingness to compromise, he may have put the chances of no deal at “one in a million,” and the majority of Brits and their elected representatives may be against leaving the EU without a deal, but no one in the betting crazy UK is now likely to bet on there being any agreement between London and Brussels in the end.

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Blame France.

Leaked No-Deal Report Says Lorries Could Face 48-Hour Delays At Dover (PA)

Leaked government documents which reportedly say there could be 48-hour delays at Dover in the event of a no-deal Brexit have moved hauliers to warn of the “clear and present danger” to the UK supply chain. Sky News said it had seen documents which suggest vehicles could face a two-day delay at the Kent port in a no-deal scenario, and the revelation has led to industry insiders saying the government has “failed to deliver”. Rod McKenzie, the managing director of policy at the Road Haulage Association (RHA), said it came as absolutely no surprise to him that such a document existed, adding that there was still no sign of a new customs process with just weeks left before the UK is expected to leave the EU.

He had not seen the Department for Transport documents (DfT), but said he understood they were more recent than the leaked Operation Yellowhammer files which contained predictions of a three-month “meltdown” at ports in the event of no deal. “The Road Haulage Association has been saying this for quite literally years now that if there is a no-deal Brexit, there will be very substantial queues at the border,” McKenzie said. “We have got a very, very serious problem with the UK supply chain if there is a no-deal Brexit on 31 October from where we are now. “This is a clear and present danger to the supply chain on which we all depend, and we are calling on the government in the clearest terms to make it clear what traders have to do to trade with the continent. This they have failed to do so far.”


Sky News said on Sunday night that analysis commissioned by the DfT suggested that on the first day of a no-deal Brexit, the worst-case scenario would be a two-day maximum delay for freight and vehicles at Dover, and an average wait of a day-and-a-half. McKenzie said any delay at the ports would cause a “very, very substantial traffic jam”, adding: “What we are saying is that we urgently need clarity from this government, having not had it from the previous government, we urgently need clarity from this government of what traders have to do to get ready for a no-deal Brexit.”

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Troubles.

Irish Border After Brexit – All Ideas Beset By Issues Says Secret Paper (G.)

All potential solutions to the post-Brexit Irish border are fraught with difficulty and would leave smaller businesses struggling to cope, experts have said, as leaked government papers outline major concerns just two months before Britain is due to leave the EU. A report summarising the findings of the government’s official “alternative arrangements” working groups concluded that there are issues with all the scenarios put forward to try to replace the backstop arrangement. There are also specific concerns over whether any technological solution could be delivered to monitor cross-border trade. Critics said the paper, seen by the Guardian, should “ring alarm bells” across government over how likely it is that alternative arrangements to the backstop will be found.

The dossier marked “official-sensitive” prepared for the EU Exit Negotiations Board is dated 28 August. It details how the findings of all advisory groups informing the government on the Northern Irish border are being kept deliberately under wraps to try to avoid hampering Britain’s intended renegotiation of the backstop agreed to by Theresa May. Alternative systems to avoid a hard Northern Irish border after Brexit have become the central tenet of Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy. He sees this as a way of unlocking a new deal with Europe and has claimed that there are “abundant solutions”.


However, the damning report shows there is no single deliverable solution at present, despite the fact Johnson is almost a third of the way through the “30 days” target that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, gave him to come up with a fresh border proposal. The report said: “It is evident that every facilitation has concerns and issues related to them. The complexity of combining them into something more systemic and as part of one package is a key missing factor at present.”

Read more …

This will take a long time.

Many US Firms Already Have Ditched China, More On The Way (CNBC)

President Trump rattled Wall Street when he demanded U.S. firms move production out of China. But many have already taken steps to do so, and, in earnings calls just over the past month, dozens of chief executives have signaled plans to further diversify their supply chains amid the intensifying trade war. On Aug. 23, Trump took to Twitter, ordering American companies to “immediately start looking for an alternative to China” and urging them instead to start making their products in the U.S. In doing so, he cited the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) — passed in 1977 to deal with an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.” [..]

Trump doubled down on Friday, attacking General Motors for its significant presence in China and questioning whether the automaker should move the operations to the U.S. “Sometimes you’ve got to take stern measures,” White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said alongside Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the sidelines of the G-7 meeting in France. Kudlow added that American companies should heed the president’s call to leave China. No U.S. president has invoked the law as leverage in a commercial dispute, let alone to sever commercial ties with one of its largest trading partners. Indeed, over the past century, U.S. administrations have mainly deployed the IEEPA to prosecute drug trafficking or financial terrorism through sanctions or other economic penalties.


[..] in an annual survey conducted in June by the U.S.-China Business Council, nearly 30% of the 220 respondents said they have already delayed or cancelled investments in China or the U.S. due to mounting trade uncertainty. Though just 13% said they had plans to specifically move operations out of China, that’s steadily increased from 10% in 2018 and 8% in 2017.

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Peace please.

Hong Kong Students Boycott Classes As Chinese Media Warns ‘End Is Coming’ (G.)

For the last 13 weeks, protesters have come to the streets to demand the formal withdrawal of a bill that would allow extradition to mainland China, which critics fear will be used by Beijing to target those who criticise the ruling Chinese communist party. As the protests have dragged on, they have taken on new forms and other demands including instituting democratic reforms and conducting an independent investigation into police behaviour. On Sunday, demonstrators attempted to lay siege to the airport, prompting a swift response from riot police. On Saturday, riot police stormed a metro station, attacking trapped protesters with batons. Monday’s class boycott was accompanied by a call for a general strike. It followed two days of mass protests where demonstrators paralysed links to airport, and clashed with police outside government buildings and in MTR stations.


Several editorials in Chinese state media on Monday condemned the protesters as “crazy and vicious” for bringing “catastrophe” upon the Hong Kong economy. An editorial on the website of the state-run news agency Xinhua warned “the end is coming for those attempting to disrupt Hong Kong”. The shift of the protests to school campuses is comes after Chinese officials have blamed the protests on the city’s liberal education curriculum. In recent weeks, Beijing has criticised teachers and parents for not instilling patriotic values in students and called for an overhaul of Hong Kong’s education system, which includes topics like the Chinese military’s violent crack down on democracy demonstrators on 4 June, 1989.

Read more …

Is capitalism itself at fault or just the excesses it allows for?

Why Has The U.S. CEO-To-Worker Pay Ratio Increased So Much? (Colombo)

MarketWatch recently published a piece about the soaring U.S. CEO-to-worker pay ratio, which hit 278-to-1 in 2018 (up from just 58-to-1 in 1989 and 20-to-1 in 1965) –

“CEO pay has increased 1,008% between 1978 and 2018, while typical worker pay has edged up 12%. [..] In 2018, CEOs in the country’s top 350 businesses were paid $17.2 million on average. Employees working in those industries — ranging from retail to technology and manufacturing — typically earned $64,500, researchers said. Overall, there’s a 278-to-1 pay ratio between workers and CEOs. In 1989, the compensation ratio was 58-to-1 and in 1965, it was 20-to-1. Stock awards and cashed-in stock options averaged $7.5 million of CEO pay in 2017 and 2018, the study added. Incorporating stock in pay arrangements is one way to incentivize CEO, and rising salaries illustrate the market for talent in the C-suite, some observers say.”


Left-leaning economists, politicians, and other commentators frequently use the soaring CEO-to-worker pay ratio as an example of why capitalism is inherently flawed and always leads to the rich getting richer, but my research has found that it is a byproduct of central banking and fiat (i.e., “paper”) currency rather than capitalism. To make a long story short, the Federal Reserve has excessively inflated the financial markets in its attempt to create an economic recovery from the Great Recession. This excessive asset price inflation has pushed U.S. household wealth far out of line with its historic relationship to the GDP, as the chart below shows. The wealthy have been the greatest beneficiaries of this asset price inflation because they own a disproportionate share of the assets that have been inflated by the Fed, which are stocks, bonds, and high-end real estate.

The Fed’s inflation of the U.S. stock market is the primary reason why the CEO-to-worker pay ratio has increased so much. The CEOs of public corporations usually receive stock options as part of their compensation packages, which means that they can benefit greatly when their stock prices rise. As the chart below shows, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio surges during asset bubbles, but falls back down when the bubbles burst (it correlates with the chart above). The current asset bubble is no different and the excesses will be corrected in the form of a strong bear market, just like they always are.

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Elon Muck can’t even produce a decent electric car. How big a threat is he?

In The Era Of Neurocapitalism, Your Brain Needs New Rights (Vox)

“Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.” That’s from George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, published in 1949. The comment is meant to highlight what a repressive surveillance state the characters live in, but looked at another way, it shows how lucky they are: At least their brains are still private. Over the past few weeks, Facebook and Elon Musk’s Neuralink have announced that they’re building tech to read your mind — literally. Mark Zuckerberg’s company is funding research on brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) that can pick up thoughts directly from your neurons and translate them into words. The researchers say they’ve already built an algorithm that can decode words from brain activity in real time.

And Musk’s company has created flexible “threads” that can be implanted into a brain and could one day allow you to control your smartphone or computer with just your thoughts. Musk wants to start testing in humans by the end of next year. Other companies such as Kernel, Emotiv, and Neurosky are also working on brain tech. They say they’re building it for ethical purposes, like helping people with paralysis control their devices. This might sound like science fiction, but it’s already begun to change people’s lives. Over the past dozen years, a number of paralyzed patients have received brain implants that allow them to move a computer cursor or control robotic arms. Implants that can read thoughts are still years away from commercial availability, but research in the field is moving faster than most people realize.


Your brain, the final privacy frontier, may not be private much longer. Some neuroethicists argue that the potential for misuse of these technologies is so great that we need revamped human rights laws — a new “jurisprudence of the mind” — to protect us. The technologies have the potential to interfere with rights that are so basic that we may not even think of them as rights, like our ability to determine where our selves end and machines begin. Our current laws are not equipped to address this.

Read more …

Russiagate, the sequel.

Hollywood Reboots Russophobia For The New Cold War (Parry)

In the Cold War, Tinseltown played an important role in the cultural battlefield against the USSR and anti-Soviet paranoia was an ever-present theme in American cinema for decades, from the McCarthy era until the Berlin Wall fell. Contemporaneously, a revival of geopolitical tensions between the United States and the Russian Federation — which many have dubbed a second Cold War — has seen the return of such tropes on the silver screen. Most recently, it has resurfaced in popular web television shows such as the third season of Netflix’s retro science fiction/horror series Stranger Things, as well as HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl, which dramatizes the 1986 nuclear accident in Soviet Ukraine.

It was a famous cinematic work that many believe ominously foreshadowed Chernobyl in Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 science fiction film, Stalker, less than a decade prior to the calamity. It is unlikely that HBO would have been as interested in green-lighting a five-part program on the disaster without the current hysteria surrounding the unproven allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and ‘collusion’ between Moscow and the Trump campaign. ‘Russiagate’ has become a national obsession and suddenly the very idea of corruption and intrigue has been made synonymous with the Kremlin. Hollywood liberal figures have been some of the hoax’s biggest proponents, including the show’s writer, Craig Mazin.


It is equally as hard to imagine Americans themselves being as captivated by a re-enactment of the nuclear accident without the current political climate of fear-mongering bombarding them every day in corporate media. From the perspective of the U.S. political establishment, what better way to deflect attention away from its own sins than onto a manufactured adversary?

Read more …

The black hole’s mass is 100 times greater than that of the sun.

M87* is an example of a black hole that is 6.5 billion times as massive as the Sun.

A Black Hole So Big It Shouldn’t Even Exist Is Baffling Scientists (RT)

Scientists may have spotted a black hole that is so enormous, it shouldn’t even exist, although they aren’t quite sure if it even does. The black hole’s mass is 100 times greater than that of the sun. The potential black hole, which is twice as large as what physicists had believed was possible, was detected by the LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave detectors at the European Gravitational Observatory. A black hole is usually formed when a star collapses after it runs out of fuel, but this only happens when the star’s core is less than 50 times the mass of the Sun, Quanta Magazine explains. Stars with larger masses, between 50-130 times the mass of the Sun, either shed matter until they are small enough, or destroy themselves in a powerful explosion, meaning this new potential black hole defies what scientists understand to be possible.


Black holes that are larger than 130 solar masses can also form when their core’s collapse is too strong to stop. M87* is an example of a black hole that is 6.5 billion times as massive as the Sun. Scientists are scratching their heads trying to figure out how this newly spotted potential large black hole came into being. According to Qanta, they suspect that the black hole could be the result of smaller black holes colliding and merging into one gigantic one. They think it is possible that somewhere in a dense area of the universe, a 30 and 50 solar mass black hole could have merged and that the new black hole then combined with another one, which could explain the signals they detected.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 202018
 
 July 20, 2018  Posted by at 9:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Edward Hopper Western Motel 1957

 

Possible Hand-Over Of Julian Assange To The UK May Be Imminent (Vos)
Spanish Court Drops International Warrant For Carles Puigdemont (G.)
Trump Lays Into The Fed, Says ‘Not Thrilled’ About Interest Rate Hikes (CNBC)
Trump Plans To Formally Invite Putin To US Later This Year (G.)
American Cold War Experts: “The Real Threat Is Russophobia” (ZH)
No-Deal Brexit Would Harm EU Countries As Well As UK, Warns IMF (G.)
Theresa May: I Will Never Accept EU’s Ideas On Irish Brexit Border (G.)
Android Antitrust Fine Will Demolish Google Profit (MW)
IMF Raps Greece Over Its Bid To Reintroduce Labor Negotiations (K.)

 

 

Darkness and shame.

Possible Hand-Over Of Julian Assange To The UK May Be Imminent (Vos)

What happens in a world without Julian Assange? It seems we may be in the unthinkable position of facing such a reality, after WikiLeaks Tweeted regarding the recent statement of Margarita Simonyan, RT’s Editor-in-chief. Her message read (In English): “My sources tell me that Julian Assange will be handed over to the UK in the next weeks or days. Like never before I wish that my sources are wrong’.’ An exceptionally brief article published by Russian Insider documented Simonyan’s foreboding Tweet, indicating that her statement seemed especially serious in light of the quality of her sources.

Russian media is hardly the first source of dire warnings regarding Assange’s safety in recent weeks. Just days ago, the World Socialist Website related: “The London Times reported July 15 on secret talks between the British and Ecuadorian governments. They are apparently intending to expel WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has enjoyed political asylum for six years. The article said the talks were “an attempt to remove Assange from the embassy,” and they were being run at the highest levels of government. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Sir Alan Duncan, is personally involved.” These reports also follow a chilling article penned by award-winning journalist Chris Hedges, who wrote:

“The failure on the part of establishment media to defend Julian Assange, who has been trapped in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, has been denied communication with the outside world since March and appears to be facing imminent expulsion and arrest, is astonishing. The extradition of the publisher—the maniacal goal of the U.S. government—would set a legal precedent that would criminalize any journalistic oversight or investigation of the corporate state. It would turn leaks and whistleblowing into treason. It would shroud in total secrecy the actions of the ruling global elites.”

Read more …

What should happen for Julian too.

Spanish Court Drops International Warrant For Carles Puigdemont (G.)

A Spanish judge has dropped the international arrest warrants issued for the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and five other pro-sovereignty politicians over their roles in last year’s illegal referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence. The supreme court judge Pablo Llarena announced the decision a week after a German court said it would extradite Puigdemont only over alleged misuse of public funds rather than the more serious charge of rebellion. The dropping of the international warrant means Puigdemont and his former colleagues – currently in Belgium, Scotland and Switzerland – no longer face extradition proceedings.

But domestic warrants remain in force, meaning the six will be arrested should they return to Spain. In his ruling, published on Thursday, Llarena hit out at the court in Schleswig-Holstein, accusing it of “a lack of commitment” over acts that could have “broken Spain’s constitutional order”. The German court’s refusal to extradite Puigdemont on the rebellion charge – which prosecutors had argued could be equated to “high treason” in the German penal code – meant the deposed president could not be tried for the offence if sent back to Spain.

Read more …

More crazy reactions. Comparing Trump to Erdogan?!

Trump Lays Into The Fed, Says ‘Not Thrilled’ About Interest Rate Hikes (CNBC)

In a stinging and historically rare criticism, President Donald Trump expressed frustration with the Federal Reserve and said the central bank could disrupt the economic recovery. Presidents rarely intercede when it comes to the Fed, which sets the benchmark interest rate that flows through to many types of consumer debt. Fed officials, including Chairman Jerome Powell, have raised interest rates twice this year and have pointed to two more before the end of 2018. Trump, in an interview with CNBC, said he does not approve, even though he said he “put a very good man in” at the Fed in Powell.

“I’m not thrilled,” he told CNBC’s Joe Kernen in an interview to air in full Friday at 6 a.m. ET on “Squawk Box.” “Because we go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again. I don’t really — I am not happy about it. But at the same time I’m letting them do what they feel is best.” “But I don’t like all of this work that goes into doing what we’re doing.” Markets reacted to Trump’s comments, with stocks, the dollar and Treasury yields all falling.

Fed officials did not comment on the president’s remarks. The White House, in a statement after the interview excerpt aired on CNBC, emphasized that Trump did not mean to influence the Fed’s decision-making process. “Of course the President respects the independence of the Fed. As he said he considers the Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell a very good man and that he is not interfering with Fed policy decisions ” the statement said. “The President’s views on interest rates are well known and his comments today are a reiteration of those long held positions, and public comments.”

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Keep talking.

Trump Plans To Formally Invite Putin To US Later This Year (G.)

Donald Trump has asked his administration to formally invite Russian president Vladimir Putin to visit Washington later this year, the White House announced on Thursday. Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Trump asked his national security adviser John Bolton to extend the invitation to Putin for a “working level” dialogue between the two leaders. The invitation comes as the White House has faced a tumultuous week in the aftermath of Trump’s controversial summit with Putin in Helsinki. Trump was roundly criticized from Democrats and Republicans in Washington for siding with the Kremlin over the judgments of US intelligence on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

It took the president several attempts to walk back his comments, amplifying the fallout from his joint appearance with Putin. Trump was nonetheless unfazed by the backlash, deeming the summit a “great success” in a tweet earlier on Thursday while saying he looked forward to a second meeting with Putin. “The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media,” Trump wrote. “I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear … proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more. There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems…but they can ALL be solved!”

Read more …

“Russophobia is running amok in this country.”

American Cold War Experts: “The Real Threat Is Russophobia” (ZH)

And now for expert analysis that runs refreshingly contrary to the week’s Trump-Putin mass hysteria over the Helsinki summit, we find ourselves surprised to feature an unusually honest Vice segment on HBO: These American scholars say the real threat to the U.S. is Russophobia. “If he [President Trump] means what he said he was right. It would be great to cooperate with Russia — I would go farther, it’s imperative… We are eyeball to eyeball in a new Cold War with Russia,” begins Stephen F. Cohen, considered among the world’s foremost Russian academic experts, while sitting beside John Mearsheimer in this latest Vice interview, who nods his head in approval.

Both have long been a thorn in the side of the McCarthyite commentariat which alleges Russian collusion behind every decision of the Trump administration. Mearsheimer, a longtime International Security Policy program director at the University of Chicago, questions the now largely cemented narrative created by those who have least understanding of the history of US-Russia relations: “Why won’t people engage in a legitimate debate with people like Steve and me? And I believe the reason they won’t is they would lose the debate – I’m fully confident of that.”

As the American public has from the time of Trump’s election endured endless obtrusive and cacophonous media noise with no real smoking gun (as Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper famously admitted a year ago) to back the charges of collusion — what CNN’s Van Jones early on admitted was “just a big nothing burger” — the voices of a small cadre of real Russian experts rarely breaks through to a mass audience. “There is an unwillingness to engage in debate on this issue, like I have never seen before,” Mearsheimer tells Vice. And Cohen adds: “We’ve demonized Putin and we’ve Putinized Russia so we demonize Russia. Russophobia is running amok in this country. I’ve seen these things from the inside. I’ve re-thought and re-thought how we got to the edge of war with Russia, where we haven’t been since Cuba in 1962. And I have concluded, and I would be happy to debate my opponents… It is 95 percent our own doing.”

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Getting bored of this yet?

No-Deal Brexit Would Harm EU Countries As Well As UK, Warns IMF (G.)

Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal would inflict significant economic pain across Europe, leaving the region without any winners, the International Monetary Fund has warned. As the new Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab warned Europe to prepare for a no-deal exit, the IMF said such an outcome would hurt the UK most but would also have damaging economic consequences for Ireland and other EU nations. In its annual health check for the euro area, the Washington-based fund said economic growth across the 27 remaining EU states would fall by as much as 1.5% by 2030, if Britain falls back on WTO rules for its trading relationship with the EU after leaving next year.

While economic output for the UK would drop by more than twice that amount – wiping out almost 4% of GDP – Ireland would suffer by almost as much as a result of its strong ties to Britain and shared border. The Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium, with similar close proximity and trading links, would also lose around 1% of GDP. Smaller nations with deep financial links to the City of London, such as Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg, would also be negatively affected by a hard Brexit, the fund warned. The IMF said the long-run impact from a hard Brexit would be spread across the EU as a result of the economic and financial ties spanning the region, which have grown closer by about 40% over the past quarter century. The UK ranks among the EU’s three largest trading partners, accounting for 13% of trade in goods and services. There are also complex supply chain links between companies across the bloc.

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So no Brexit then?

Theresa May: I Will Never Accept EU’s Ideas On Irish Brexit Border (G.)

Theresa May is to tell the European Union it is time to drop what she feels is their inflexible view on an Irish border solution and “evolve” their position to break the impasse in Brexit talks. In a speech in Belfast on Friday she is expected to brand the bloc’s calls for regulatory alignment north and south of the border as a “backstop” solution in the event of no deal as “unworkable”, and repeat her assertion that a border down the Irish Sea is unacceptable to any British prime minister. “The economic and constitutional dislocation of a formal ‘third country’ customs border within our own country is something I will never accept, and I believe no British prime minister could ever accept,” she will say.

May will tell an audience of business leaders and politicians that the EU proposal is in breach of the Belfast Agreement because it would create a barrier between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and leave the people of Northern Ireland “without their own voice” in trade negotiations. “It is not something the House of Commons will accept,” she is due to say. The EU’s other 27 states will have a chance to examine and respond to the white paper when its General Council of ministers meets in Brussels on Friday morning. They will also receive an update on negotiations from the European Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.

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They’ll force people to pay for the software now.

Android Antitrust Fine Will Demolish Google Profit (MW)

When Alphabet Inc. reports earnings Monday, the European Union’s $5.07 billion Android antitrust fine will ruin the company’s profit. Alphabet stock was relatively flat Wednesday, when the fine formally was announced, and Google has said it plans to appeal the fine. However, the company disclosed in an SEC filing that it will account for the fine in its second-quarter report, due Monday after the bell. In terms of what it will cost the company in cash, the fine is not tax-deductible and worth roughly 75% of the company’s expected second-quarter net income of $6.72 billion, which will drastically lower per-share earnings as well.

Since analyst estimates largely do not include the fine as of yet, Alphabet’s earnings are likely to miss published expectations on the bottom line by a significant amount. The question that remains beyond the fine itself is how Google, in the long-term, will respond to the ruling, which prevents the search giant from effectively forcing mobile phone makers and telecom companies to pre-install its search engine and Chrome web browser, among other Google mobile apps, in exchange for use of the Android OS. The ruling is set to go into effect in 90 days, though an appeal would delay implementation.

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How to spell sovereignty. When were countries growing fastest? When they had strong unions.

IMF Raps Greece Over Its Bid To Reintroduce Labor Negotiations (K.)

The International Monetary Fund on Thursday issued a clear warning to the Greek government against its plans to reintroduce collective labor negotiations, saying that such a move would put the competitiveness of the Greek economy at risk. The IMF’s observation, included in its Article IV report that is not only about the Greek economy but concerns eurozone financial policies in general, comes almost a month before the party the government intends to stage for the end of the bailout program. The IMF intervention is particularly important for two additional reasons: first because it concerns a key dimension of the post-bailout government narrative, and second because the IMF is not an independent observer, as its technical experts will be conducting a considerable number of visits to Greece in the context of the post-program surveillance, and will prepare two assessment reports on the Greek economy every year.

There is also a third and possibly more important factor that adds to the significance of the IMF recommendation: It may be just a taste of the attitude the Fund will adopt toward Greece should the government implement its plans to increase the minimum salary. This may actually be an intervention with a preventative character. The government has already legislated the return from August – after the program ends – of two main principles in collective labor negotiations: the provision for the extension of collective contracts and the principle of the more favorable regulation.

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