Aug 112020
 


Joan Miró Caballo, pipa y flor roja (Horse Pipe and Red Flower) 1920

 

FBI Director Wray Subpoenad For All Records Related to Crossfire Hurricane (GP)
Sen. Johnson Subpoenas FBI Director Wray, Puts Bidens On Notice (ZH)
House Will Be Out Of Session For Additional Week In September (Hill)
Schumer Says Democrats Ready For Coronavirus Aid Talks, If Republicans Move (R.)
MSNBC Public Editor Pekary: A Strained Symbiosis With Obama (CJR)
US Demands Hong Kong Exports To US Be Relabelled ‘Made in China’ (SCMP)
No, Americans Aren’t Suddenly Flying Again, Despite What the Media Says (WS)
Let The Dogs Out (Jim Kunstler)
Seattle City Council Approves Millions In Police Budget Cuts (JTN)
Lebanon PM, President Were Warned About 2,750 Tonnes Of Ammonium Nitrate (R.)
US Special Forces Active in 22 African Countries (MPN)
Libya Begins Negotiations With Greece To Demarcate Maritime Borders (LibyaR.)
Greece Armed Forces Placed On High Alert (K.)

 

 

You keep going with these numbers like this, and you might just turn me into an optimist!

The discovery of “SARS-CoV-2 S-reactive antibodies in uninfected individuals, particularly prevalent in children and adolescents”, could well do the rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mostly for the doctors amongst us (let’s hear you!), but a bit of good news for everyone:

“SARS-CoV-2 S-reactive antibodies were readily detectable [..] in SARS-CoV-2-uninfected individuals and were particularly prevalent in children and adolescents.”

Pre-Existing And De Novo Humoral Immunity To SARS-CoV-2 In Humans (Biorxiv)

Several related human coronaviruses (HCoVs) are endemic in the human population, causing mild respiratory infections1. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the etiologic agent of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is a recent zoonotic infection that has quickly reached pandemic proportions2,3. Zoonotic introduction of novel coronaviruses is thought to occur in the absence of pre-existing immunity in the target human population. Using diverse assays for detection of antibodies reactive with the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein, we demonstrate the presence of pre-existing humoral immunity in uninfected and unexposed humans to the new coronavirus.

SARS-CoV-2 S-reactive antibodies were readily detectable by a sensitive flow cytometry-based method in SARS-CoV-2-uninfected individuals and were particularly prevalent in children and adolescents. These were predominantly of the IgG class and targeted the S2 subunit. In contrast, SARS-CoV-2 infection induced higher titres of SARS-CoV-2 S-reactive IgG antibodies, targeting both the S1 and S2 subunits, as well as concomitant IgM and IgA antibodies, lasting throughout the observation period of 6 weeks since symptoms onset.

SARS-CoV-2-uninfected donor sera also variably reacted with SARS-CoV-2 S and nucleoprotein (N), but not with the S1 subunit or the receptor binding domain (RBD) of S on standard enzyme immunoassays. Notably, SARS-CoV-2-uninfected donor sera exhibited specific neutralising activity against SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-2 S pseudotypes, according to levels of SARS-CoV-2 S-binding IgG and with efficiencies comparable to those of COVID-19 patient sera. Distinguishing pre-existing and de novo antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 will be critical for our understanding of susceptibility to and the natural course of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Read more …

“..Crossfire Hurricane was a scam, based on absurd gossip and innuendo. This document is Exhibit A to Obamagate, the worst corruption scandal in American history.”

FBI Director Wray Subpoenad For All Records Related to Crossfire Hurricane (GP)

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) FINALLY subpoenaed FBI Director Christopher Wray for all records related to the bureau’s CI investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane.” The subpoena, which was issued on August 6, demands Wray appear before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee by August 20 with all documents related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. In July of 2016, Peter Strzok opened a counterintel investigation into Trump’s camp dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane” on suspicions (based on no evidence) that the Russians had infiltrated Trump’s circle. The “electronic communication” that launched Crossfire Hurricane was written by Peter Strzok and obtained by Judicial Watch in May of this year as the result of a FOIA lawsuit.

The EC reveals Peter Strzok opened Crossfire Hurricane based on third-hand information that the Russian government “had been seeking prominent members of the Donald Trump campaign in which to engage to prepare for potential post-election relations should Trump be elected U.S. President.” Peter Strzok also alleged Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos claimed to an unnamed individual that “they (the Russians) could assist the Trump campaign with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.” Republican lawmakers have asked why documents related to Crossfire Hurricane have been kept secret for so many years.

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said its because the Obama Admin had no basis for opening the investigation. “No wonder the DOJ and FBI resisted the public release of this infamous ‘electronic communication’ that ‘opened’ Crossfire Hurricane – it shows there was no serious basis for the Obama administration to launch an unprecedented spy operation on the Trump campaign,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton previously stated. “We now have more proof that Crossfire Hurricane was a scam, based on absurd gossip and innuendo. This document is Exhibit A to Obamagate, the worst corruption scandal in American history.”

Read more …

Maybe that basement is soundproof, and he can’t hear you.

Sen. Johnson Subpoenas FBI Director Wray, Puts Bidens On Notice (ZH)

FBI Director Christopher Wray has been subpoenaed by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to produce “all documents related to the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation,” which includes “all records provided or made available to the Inspector General” regarding the FISA probe, as well as documents regarding the 2016-2017 presidential transition, according to Politico. The subpoena was issued by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) as part of his investigation into the origins of Russiagate. It gives Wray until 5 p.m. on Aug. 20 to produce the documents. Johnson also released a lengthy letter on Monday in which he defended his Committee’s investigation and accused Democrats of initiating “a coordinated disinformation campaign and effort to personally attack” himself and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in order to distract from evidence his committee has gathered on Joe and Hunter Biden’s Ukraine dealings.

“We didn’t target Joe and Hunter Biden for investigation; their previous actions had put them in the middle of it,” reads the Monday letter, which outlines the timeline and connections between Joe Biden’s policy actions in Ukraine and his son Hunter’s relationship with Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company, according to Just The News. “Many in the media, in an ongoing attempt to provide cover for former Vice President Biden, continue to repeat the mantra that there is ‘no evidence of wrongdoing or illegal activity’ related to Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board,” wrote Johnson. “I could not disagree more.”

Johnson noted evidence gathered by his committee showed Joe Biden met with his son’s business partner, Devon Archer, in April 2014 and within a month the vice president then visited Ukraine and both his son Hunter and the business partner were put on the Burisma board as the firm faced multiple corruption investigations. “Isn’t it obvious what message Hunter’s position on Burisma’s board sent to Ukrainian officials?” Johnson asked. “The answer: If you want U.S. support, don’t touch Burisma. It also raised a host of questions, including: 1) How could former Vice President Biden look any Ukrainian official (or any other world leader) in the face and demand action to fight corruption? 2) Did this glaring conflict of interest affect the work and efforts of other U.S. officials who worked on anti-corruption measures?” -Just The News

Johnson also denied that he had been on contact with, or received documents from, Russian-tied Ukrainians. “The only problem with their overblown handwringing is that they all knew full well that we have been briefed repeatedly, and we had already told them that we had NOT received the alleged Russian disinformation,” wrote Johnson. “The very transparent goal of their own disinformation campaign and feigned concern is to attack our character in order to marginalize the eventual findings of our investigation.”

Read more …

What? They’re going campaigning in COVID time? And what’s even better, they are, but Biden is not?

There are 19 weeks left in the year. House members will only be in Washington for 6 of them.

House Will Be Out Of Session For Additional Week In September (Hill)

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Monday that the chamber won’t be called back into session until the week of Sept. 14, giving members an additional week in their districts next month. Lawmakers have been advised that they could be called back before then if there’s a deal on coronavirus-relief legislation. He said they would given 24 hours notice in the event of a vote. The House was previously scheduled to be back in session Sept. 8. Monday’s announcement gives incumbents more time to campaign in their districts ahead of November’s election. If lawmakers don’t return until mid-September, they’ll face a tight deadline to pass government funding legislation by Sept. 30 to avert a shutdown. Under the new schedule, House lawmakers will only be in Washington for six weeks through the end of the calendar year.

Read more …

Everyone’s ready as long as the other side moves first so they themselves don’t lose face. It’s a game, and not a very uplifting one.

Schumer Says Democrats Ready For Coronavirus Aid Talks, If Republicans Move (R.)

U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday that Democrats are ready to return to the negotiating table over coronavirus relief, if Republicans would agree to a larger bill than they have been willing to accept up to now. “Democrats remain ready to return to the table. We need our Republicans to join us there and meet us half way and work together to deliver immediate relief to the American people,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. Last week, Schumer used similar language to urge White House negotiators to agree to a legislative package at least $1 trillion larger than the $1 trillion bill that Senate Republicans have already proposed. The White House rejected the offer, ending nearly two weeks of almost daily negotiations.

Read more …

“A less corrupt, less wealth-enslaved, less warmongering Democratic Party—a party that had paid more than lip service to the needs of working people over the previous eight years—would have walked away with the 2016 election.”

MSNBC Public Editor Pekary: A Strained Symbiosis With Obama (CJR)

Barack Obama and MSNBC have a lot in common. They are rich, sleek, and corporate-friendly. They staff their organizations with urbane meritocrats. Both institutions rely on a kind of soft-focus patriotism that stops shy of nationalism—an American-exceptionalist-lite rhetoric that takes refuge in hope and in appeals to “who we are,” among other superficial aspirational slogans. Consequently, it’s no surprise that Obama meets with little criticism on MSNBC. The alignment isn’t merely political; it’s aesthetic, generational, and class-based. Reverence for Obama is by now the network’s stock-in-trade. It has never critically assessed his presidency.

[..] The Obama brand is appealing, especially in comparison with the current president. Obama is everything that Trump is not: handsome, well read, reasonable-seeming, beautifully turned out; even today, the sight of Obama on television is enough to persuade people that things are still halfway okay. Sadly, however, things are really not all that okay. I’d like to believe the highly artificialized vision of the world that television conjures up in order to seduce, titillate, and comfort the maximum number of people. But how well does the glossy, TV-friendly facade serve the needs of the network’s viewers? Not very, according to former MSNBC producer Ariana Pekary, who quit her job some days ago in an apparent crisis of conscience.

Pekary wrote a much-circulated blog post about her decision to quit the network in early August, calling the cable news obsession with ratings “a cancer” that stokes political division by amplifying the most outrageous voices. The ratings obsession risks lives, she said, by focusing on Trump’s failures in the pandemic, in preference to vital scientific and epidemiological news; it risks democracy itself, by allowing Trump’s excesses to dominate coverage, in preference to intelligent and serious discussion of the threats our society and our world are facing. All of this is true, and worth thinking about, but MSNBC’s coverage demonstrates something subtler and farther-reaching still. Though Pekary was held up by right-wing media as a critic of MSNBC particularly, her concerns were economic, not ideological. “The flawed structure of the industry,” she said, “affects everyone.”

Read more …

Even if opinions are divided on this, at least the direction is clear. Endless talks have provided too little result.

US Demands Hong Kong Exports To US Be Relabelled ‘Made in China’ (SCMP)

Goods made in Hong Kong for export to the United States will have to be labelled “Made in China” after September 25, according to a draft US government notice. The move, in accordance with the suspension of the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 and the invoking of US President Donald Trump’s executive order on “Hong Kong Normalisation”, will see Hong Kong companies subjected to the same trade war tariffs levied on mainland Chinese exporters, should they make products subject to these duties. A notice will be published on the US Federal Register on August 11, stipulating that “45 days after the date of publication”, goods “must be marked to indicate that their origin is ‘China’”. The move is “due to the determination that Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous to justify differential treatment in relation to China”.


The confirmation of a move implied by Trump’s previous legislation is another blow to Hong Kong’s struggling economy and to the high-value, if low-volume base of exporters in the city. Goods that fail to comply will face a punitive 10 per cent duty at US ports. Hong Kong has a higher trade deficit with the US than with any other economy, though this dropped by 16 per cent last year to US$26 billion. From January to May this year, Hong Kong’s exports to the US fell by 22.3 per cent in volume from a year earlier. Hong Kong is much more significant as a re-export hub than a direct trading hub in its own right. Its economy is a much different beast than in the 1970s and ’80s, when it was a manufacturing stronghold. Now, only 1 per cent of goods shipped from Hong Kong are made in the city, which instead serves as a logistical gateway to mainland China for both goods made there and going there.

Read more …

Between all the work from home scheduled, and the holidays by car, you have to wonder where airlines will be a year from now.

No, Americans Aren’t Suddenly Flying Again, Despite What the Media Says (WS)

The best day – meaning the least catastrophically worst day – in terms of air passengers entering to security zones at airports to board flights during the Pandemic wasn’t yesterday, as the financial media wanted to have us think, but July 2, when the count of TSA airport security screenings was down by only -63.4% from the same weekday in the same week last year, and on July 3, when the count was down by only -67.1% from a year earlier. That was over the extended Independence Day travel weekend. Now it’s peak summer travel season. Yesterday’s TSA screenings – Sunday being a peak travel day – reached 831,789, the highest during the Pandemic. But it’s peak travel season and Sunday is one of the peak travel days, so last year on that Sunday, the TSA performed 2.65 million screenings, and this Sunday’s was down by -68.6% from Sunday a year ago. And the year-over-year decline has remained roughly in the same range since the beginning of July:

People are traveling to go on vacation. But they’re driving. All kinds of lodgings near or in national parks are booked. People want to get out and do stuff, and they have the stimulus money and the extra $600 a week in federal unemployment insurance. Early indications are that they’re driving more for vacation purposes than they did last year. That’s the big thing. But flying is still an iffy proposition for most people. The seven-day moving average of the daily TSA screenings, which irons out the day-to-day ups and downs, has remained about the same since its best days since the beginning of July – “best” meaning least catastrophically down days. This indicates that the recovery of passenger volume has stalled since the beginning of July and is still terrible, terrible, terrible for the airlines:

Nevertheless, this situation caused the financial media to hyperventilate in an effort to pump up the shares. For example, CNBC reported breathlessly:

No capital-intensive business, such as an airline, can survive for long with roughly three-quarters of its business wiped out overnight, unless it undertakes a large-scale trimming-down, and unless it gets lots of financial help from all corners, including central banks and taxpayers. And that’s happening with airlines. That’s the part in CNBC’s headline that nailed it: Another $25 billion bailout has been tucked into the next stimulus package. It comes on top of the prior $25 billion in bailouts, mostly grants, that were designed to preserve airline jobs until September 30. Airlines have since told over 70,000 employees that they could lose their jobs after the deadline, and have incentivized them to leave voluntarily before the deadline, using a range of incentives, from buyout packages to early retirements.


Today, the WOLF STREET airline index of the seven largest US airlines – Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United – jumped 7.0%. Since word of the second $25 billion bailout package started circulating last Monday, the index has surged 15.7%. But it’s still down 44% from the end of the Good Times in mid-January 2020, and down a whole bunch more since January 2018. That 15.7% gain since last Monday is the little thing sticking up on the right of the chart (market cap data via YCharts):

Read more …

“..America unleashes its dogs of war upon itself…”

Let The Dogs Out (Jim Kunstler)

Attorney General Barr sat through a leisurely chat with Mark Levin on TV last night, a curious hour of understatement and elision, especially concerning the momentous matter of US Attorney John Durham’s way-overdue actions in the Russia Collusion hoax. Mr. Levin dropped the ball so many times in his questioning that it seemed deliberate — for instance failing to ask whether Mr. Barr had detected any prosecutorial misconduct in the pursuit of General Michael Flynn. There’s plenty of reason to suppose that Robert Mueller’s lawyers royally misbehaved in that case, colluding with FBI director Christopher Wray to withhold a ton of exculpatory evidence even to this day.

There are plenty more reasons to suppose that the entire Mueller investigation was a knowing, seditious sham, and that several of his “team” members — e.g. Andrew Weissmann, Jeannie Rhee, Brandon Van Grack, Zainab Ahmad, Aaron Zebley, plus US Attorney Tanisha Guahar, and possibly Mr. Mueller himself — deserve to be indicted for their efforts to overthrow a president. (And, of course, there’s a long list of other now well-known characters in the DOJ, FBI, CIA, and other festering places who played roles in Coup-O-Rama).

Speaking of General Flynn, his mandamus petition comes before an en banc session of the DC Court of Appeals on Tuesday. It’s hard to see how they can get around their earlier three-judge panel’s order under a mandamus petition for DC District Judge Emmet Sullivan to vacate the case, as now demanded by the federal prosecutors who brought it in the first place. We won’t rehearse the tedious legal arguments, except to say that where there is no prosecution, there is no case, and Judge Sullivan has no standing to act as prosecutor himself under the separation of powers in the constitution. But in these dark days of a weaponized judiciary, with its Lawfare henchmen grubbing away in the shadows, there’s no telling what bad faith gears may be turning in that mill.

So, buckle up for what, all of a sudden, looks like an action-packed week. Lay in some tonic water and gin for both Covid-19 relief and some self-prescribed anesthesia as America unleashes its dogs of war upon itself.

Read more …

I don’t know enough about how police are funded across the US. It appears to be a cesspool with many different faces.

Seattle City Council Approves Millions In Police Budget Cuts (JTN)

In the state of Washington the Seattle City Council on Monday approved millions of dollars in police budget cuts. “Total initial cuts to SPD’s budget during the summer session are a down-payment for future potential reductions to the SPD budget. These reductions equate to nearly $4 million in cuts, which actualized over a year will equate to an estimated $11 million,” according to a release. “Cut 32 officers from patrol,” is one of the multiple funding decreases listed. Self-described socialist council member Kshama Sawant, who blasted the city’s budgetary maneuvering, which included other moves in addition to the police funding decreases, said that the police budget cuts were not nearly large enough.


“This budget fails to address the systemic racism of policing, trimming only $3 million from the bloated department’s remaining 2020 budget of $170 million just weeks after 6 of the 8 other Councilmembers publicly declared they would support defunding SPD by 50 percent, as our Peoples Budget and the Justice for George Floyd movement have demanded” Sawant said in the statement.

Read more …

No wonder they resign en masse.

Lebanon PM, President Were Warned About 2,750 Tonnes Of Ammonium Nitrate (R.)

Lebanese security officials warned the prime minister and president last month that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut’s port posed a security risk and could destroy the capital if it exploded, according to documents seen by Reuters and senior security sources. Just over two weeks later, the industrial chemicals exploded in a massive blast that obliterated most of the port, killed at least 163 people, injured 6,000 more and destroyed some 6,000 buildings, according to municipal authorities. A report by the General Directorate of State Security about events leading up to the explosion included a reference to a private letter sent to President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab on July 20.


While the content of the letter was not in the report seen by Reuters, a senior security official said it summed up the findings of a judicial investigation launched in January, which concluded the chemicals needed to be secured immediately. The state security report, which confirmed the correspondence to the president and the prime minister, has not previously been reported. “There was a danger that this material if stolen, could be used in a terrorist attack,” the official told Reuters. “At the end of the investigation, Prosecutor General (Ghassan) Oweidat prepared a final report which was sent to the authorities,” he said, referring to the letter sent to the prime minister and president by the General Directorate of State Security, which oversees port security. “I warned them that this could destroy Beirut if it exploded,” said the official, who was involved in writing the letter and declined to be named.

Read more …

So does China. And France is going back in.

US Special Forces Active in 22 African Countries (MPN)

A new report published in South African newspaper The Mail and Guardian has shed light on the opaque world of the American military presence in Africa. Last year, elite U.S. Special Operations forces were active in 22 African countries. This accounts for 14 percent of all American commandos deployed overseas, the largest number for any region besides the Middle East. American troops had also seen combat in 13 African nations. The U.S. is not formally at war with an African nation, and the continent is barely discussed in reference to American exploits around the globe. Therefore, when U.S. operatives die in Africa, as happened in Niger, Mali, and Somalia in 2018, the response from the public, and even from the media is often “why are American soldiers there in the first place?”

The presence of the U.S. military, especially commandos, is rarely publicly acknowledged, either by Washington or by African governments. What they are doing remains even more opaque. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) generally claims that special forces go no further than so-called “AAA” (advise, assist and accompany) missions. Yet in combat, the role between observer and participant can become distinctly blurry. The United States has roughly 6,000 military personnel scattered throughout the continent, with military attachés outnumbering diplomats in many embassies across Africa. Earlier this year, The Intercept reported that the military operates 29 bases on the continent. One of these is a huge drone hub in Niger, something The Hill called “the largest U.S. Air Force-led construction project of all time.”

[..][ Washington claims that the military’s primary role in the region is to combat the rise of extremist forces. In recent years, a number of Jihadist groups have arisen, including Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, and other al-Qaeda affiliated groups. However, much of the reason for their rise can be traced back to previous American actions, including the destabilization of Yemen, Somalia, and the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. It is also clear that the United States plays a key role in training many nations’ soldiers and security forces. For example, the U.S. pays Bancroft International, a private military contractor, to train elite Somali units who are at the forefront of the fighting in the country’s internal conflicts. According to The Mail and Guardian, these Somali fighters are likely also funded by the U.S. taxpayer.

Read more …

This is all about Turkey. Greece already has a new deal with Egypt on maritime borders. Turkey is seeking to claim a lot of area in the region.

Libya Begins Negotiations With Greece To Demarcate Maritime Borders (LibyaR.)

Libya’s Interim Government’s Foreign Minister, Abdul-Hadi Al-Hawaij, revealed that his ministry has held talks with its Greek counterpart. Both Libya and Greece agreed to begin negotiations to demarcate their maritime borders, as well as discuss a number of issues between the two countries. Al-Hawaij noted that Libya welcomes a solution through Article 74 of the Law of the Sea, relating to solutions based on agreements and good-neighbourliness. The Libyan FM welcomed the agreement demarcating the maritime borders between Egypt and Greece. He stressed that Libya welcomes any agreement that is in line with the UN’s Law of the Sea and which preserves the rights of Libyans.


He pointed out that the visits of the Libyan Speaker of Parliament, Ageela Saleh, to a number of countries was meant to clarify the Libyan-Egyptian political initiative. The Speaker claimed that the Libyan people were exhausted from the presence of the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. “One of the most significant conditions for consensus among Libyans is to push the Turkish intervention in the country away, and leave the matter for Libyans to address the crisis”, he added. Al-Hawaij called on Libyans to end the use of force, and to diminish the power of militias. He stressed that the international community was managing the crisis, and not trying to solve it. He pointed out that Libyans were able to establish a leadership in 1922, in similar circumstances in the city of Sirte, and could be able to do so again.

Read more …

This is serious. The Turkish lira is under severe stress; the central bank tried to support it by buying lira with its dollar reserves two weeks ago, but that failed, and now it has no dollars left. This could be very bad for Erdogan, who will go for support among patriots, muslims (re: Hagia Sophia). Prediction: Greece will not give in.

Greece Armed Forces Placed On High Alert (K.)

Greece was placed on high alert Monday after Turkey sent its Oruc Reis survey ship into an area within the Greek continental shelf, a move which Athens described as a threat to peace and stability in the region. According to a navigational telex it issued, Ankara reserved an area south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo to conduct research over the next two weeks. In response, Greece’s armed forces were placed in a state of absolute readiness, with units of the Hellenic Navy and Air Force deployed in the wider sea area where the Turkish research was expected. When the Oruc Reis accompanied by ships of the Turkish Navy entered the Greek continental shelf, Greek warships sent messages at a frequency of about 15 minutes requesting the vessel’s removal from the area.

The messages went unanswered by the vessel which, however, moving at a low speed – similar to that appropriate for a search process – had prepared cables to lower to the seabed in order to proceed with research activities in the area. However, according to sources, exploratory activities were rendered impossible due to the noise caused by the many naval units sailing in the area. This is because exploration of this sort entails the transmission of data from the seabed and the noise of the ships made this transmission impossible. In Athens, an emergency meeting of the country’s top decision-making body on foreign affairs and defense matters, KYSEA, was convened. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias issued a stern statement calling on Turkey to “immediately end its illegal actions that undermine peace and security in the region.”

He added that the Turkish navtex “is a new serious escalation and exposes in the most obvious way the destabilizing and threatening role of Turkey.” “Greece will not accept any blackmail. It will defend its sovereignty and sovereign rights,” he said.

Read more …

 

 

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Full Moon Aug 3, Astypalea Island, Greece. Photo George Tsitouras.

 

 

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Jun 112020
 


Banksy Bataclan emergency door 2018 (was stolen in 2019, recovered yesterday)

 

Pelosi Urges Confederate Statues Be Removed From Capitol (AP)
Statues of Christopher Columbus Toppled Across The US (CNN)
Walmart To Stop Keeping ‘Multicutural’ Beauty Products In Locked Displays (R.)
Latin America Hits 70,000 Pandemic Deaths, Daily Record In Mexico (R.)
BHP To Destroy At Least 40 Aboriginal Sites, Up To 15,000 Years Old (G.)
Rio Tinto Destroys 46,000-Year-Old Aboriginal Site: ‘Misunderstanding’ (G.)
Arrival Of Million By Sea Adds To UK Quarantine Doubts (Times)
UK Economy Likely To Suffer Worst COVID19 Damage – OECD (G.)
Fed Vows To Support US Economy’s ‘Long Road’ To Recovery After Dire 2020 (R.)
US Housing ‘Apocalypse’ Coming As Coronavirus Protections Expire (CNBC)
Amazon Bans Police Use Of Facial Recognition Tech – For A Year (BBC)
The Elevator Arises As The Latest Logjam In Getting Back To Work (KHN)
Lilly COVID19 Treatment Could Be Authorized For Use As Soon As September (R.)
Germany Takes In Another 249 Refugee Children From Greece (K.)
FBI Knew Steele Dossier Linked To Clinton, Dems From The Start (JTN)

 

 

Worldometer reports new cases for June 9 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 134,705. A new record.

My count from about 6 am EDT to 6 am EDT is about + 138,341 cases.

New deaths also rose from + 5,032 to + 5,165 (my count + 5,348)

US passed 2,000,000 cases.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 20,852
• Brazil + 33,100
• Russia + 8,779
• India + 12,375
• Pakistan + 5,834
• Chile + 5,737

 

 

Cases 7,482,561 (+ 138,341 from yesterday’s 7,344,220)

Deaths 419,488 (+ 5,348 from yesterday’s 414,140)

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Pelosi’s Box. She has no idea. She’s only focused on beating Trump.

Pelosi Urges Confederate Statues Be Removed From Capitol (AP)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is demanding that [11] statues of Confederate figures such as Jefferson Davis be removed from the U.S. Capitol. In a letter, Pelosi told a House-Senate committee with jurisdiction over the controversial topic that Confederate statues “pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed.” The California Democrat made the announcement on the very day President Donald Trump vowed on Twitter that he would not rename military bases honoring Confederate generals. Only a short time before Pelosi’s statement, NASCAR announced it would ban displays of the Confederate flag at its races. Confederate monuments have reemerged as a national flash point since the death of George Floyd [..]

Protesters decrying racism have targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities, and some state officials are considering taking them down. Pelosi lacks the authority to order the removal of the 11 Capitol statues honoring Confederates but is urging the little-noticed Joint Committee on the Library to vote to remove them. Senate Republicans share jurisdiction. “The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation,” Pelosi wrote. “Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals.” The presence of statues of generals and other figures of the Confederacy in Capitol locations such as Statuary Hall — the original House chamber — has been offensive to African American lawmakers for many years.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1270150850380521475

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., was known to give tours pointing out the numerous statues. But it’s up to the states to determine which of their historical figures to display. Jefferson Davis, a former U.S. senator from Mississippi who was president of the Confederate States of America, is represented by one of two statues from that state. Pelosi noted that Davis and Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, whose statue comes from Georgia, “were charged with treason against the United States.” “Several states have moved toward replacing statues and others appear headed in the same direction. This process is ongoing and encouraging,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chairman of the Library Committee. “As Speaker Pelosi is undoubtedly aware, the law does not permit the Architect of the Capitol or the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library to remove a statue from the Capitol once it has been received.”

Read more …

Well, let’s see…who’s uncomfortably like Columbus?

Statues of Christopher Columbus Toppled Across The US (CNN)

As racial reckoning occurs across the country following the death of George Floyd, many Confederate statues — which some consider racist symbols of America’s dark legacy of slavery — have been removed. Now, statues of Christopher Columbus, another controversial figure in US history, are also being taken down. There have been three reports of Christopher Columbus statues being tampered with — one thrown into a lake, one beheaded, and another pulled to the ground. Columbus has long been a contentious figure in history for his treatment of the Indigenous communities he encountered and for his role in the violent colonization at their expense. In recent years, many cities and states have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in recognition of the pain and terror caused by Columbus and other European explorers.

[..] Elsewhere in the US, about 1,000 people gathered at Byrd Park in Richmond, Virginia on Tuesday, according to CNN affiliate WTVR. The Richmond Indigenous Society said in a tweet ahead of the rally that “we are gathering at Byrd Park to protest yet another racist monument. Christopher Columbus was a murderer of Indigenous people, mainstreaming the genocidal culture against Indigenous people that we still see today. Bring your sage, drum, jingle dress, and mask!”

[..] in Boston, officials removed the Columbus statue located in the city’s North End after it was beheaded Tuesday evening. The statue, which was erected in 1979, had been previously vandalized in 2015, when it was doused in red paint and the words “Black Lives Matter” were spray-painted on the back, CNN affiliate WBZ reported “This particular statue has been subject to repeated vandalism here in Boston, and given the conversations that we’re certainly having right now in our city of Boston and throughout the country, we’re also going to take time to assess the historic meaning of this action,” Mayor Marty Walsh said, according to WBZ.

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Oh, the webs we weave: “Many companies have issued statements in support of the black community..”

Walmart To Stop Keeping ‘Multicutural’ Beauty Products In Locked Displays (R.)

Walmart Inc will stop keeping personal care products designed for people of color in locked display cases, the retailer said, after the practice drew flak online with many saying it suggested customers for these products cannot be trusted. “We have made the decision to discontinue placing multicultural hair care and beauty products in locked cases,” the company said in an email statement on Wednesday. Walmart said the practice was in place in about a dozen of its 4,700 stores in the United States and the cases were in place to deter shoplifters from products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics and other personal care products.


[..] The change in Walmart’s policy was prompted by a June 8 CBS News report cbsloc.al/37iJZxv that a Walmart customer had complained of the practice being discriminatory against people of color, while visiting a store in the city of Denver. “The multi-cultural hair care is all locked behind the glass. That’s so ridiculous,” Lauren Epps, a black woman was quoted as saying in the report. Many companies have issued statements in support of the black community, in addition to setting up funds to fight systematic racism. Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon has said the company, along with Walmart Foundation, will commit $100 million to create a new center on racial equity.

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Columbus opened the doors for the conquistadores. 500+ years later, the population still lives that.

Latin America Hits 70,000 Pandemic Deaths, Daily Record In Mexico (R.)

Latin America’s coronavirus crisis reached a grim new milestone on Wednesday with total deaths exceeding 70,000, according to a Reuters count, as Mexico hit a daily record for confirmed infections. Brazil, with the largest economy in the region, remains Latin America’s most affected country as total fatalities are just shy of 40,000, the world’s third highest death toll after the United States and Britain. In the region’s second biggest country Mexico, a new daily record of 4,883 confirmed cases was reported by the health ministry, along with 708 additional fatalities.


The daily totals bring Mexico’s overall official count to 129,184 infections and 15,357 deaths. The World Health Organization has determined that Latin America is the new hotspot for the pandemic, which began around the beginning of the year in China and quickly spread to Europe and beyond. Governments across the globe acknowledge that the real number of infected people is significantly higher than the official counts. Latin American fatalities attributed to the highly-contagious Covid-19 respiratory illness caused by the virus stand at 70,972, while total infections are at 1.45 million.

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And talking about slavery and the mistreatment of indigenous people…

BHP To Destroy At Least 40 Aboriginal Sites, Up To 15,000 Years Old (G.)

Mining giant BHP Billiton is poised to destroy at least 40 – and possibly as many as 86 – significant Aboriginal sites in the central Pilbara to expand its $4.5bn South Flank iron ore mining operation, even though its own reports show it is aware that the traditional owners are deeply opposed to the move. In documents seen by Guardian Australia, a BHP archaeological survey identified rock shelters that were occupied between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago and noted that evidence in the broader area showed “occupation of the surrounding landscape has been ongoing for approximately 40,000 years”. BHP’s report in September 2019 identified 22 sites of artefacts scatters, culturally modified trees, rock shelters with painted rock art, stone arrangements, and 40 “built structures … believed to be potential archaeological sites”.


Under section 18 of the Western Australian Aboriginal Heritage Act, the traditional owners – in this case the Banjima people – are unable to lodge objections or to prevent their sacred sites from being damaged. They are also unable to raise concerns publicly about the expansion, having signed comprehensive agreements with BHP as part of a native title settlement. BHP agreed to financial and other benefits for the Banjima people, while the Banjima made commitments to support the South Flank project. But the Banjima native title holders told the WA government in April they did not want any of the 86 archaeological sites within the project area to be damaged, saying the “impending harm” to the area “is a further significant cumulative loss to the cultural values of the Banjima people”.

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Autralia is built on its own unique legacy of destruction.

Rio Tinto Destroys 46,000-Year-Old Aboriginal Site: ‘Misunderstanding’ (G.)

The head of Rio Tinto’s iron ore division said he has “taken accountability” for the destruction of a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site but refused to give a direct answer when asked if the company knew traditional owners did not want the rock shelter destroyed, saying: “clearly, there was a misunderstanding”. In an interview on Radio National on Friday, the chief executive of Rio Tinto iron ore, Chris Salisbury, said it it had “taken accountability” for the destruction of the site, which was one of two destroyed in a blast to expand the Brockman 4 iron ore mine last month. The two sites were located in Juukan Gorge in the Hamersley Ranges, about 300km inland from Karratha in Western Australia’s iron ore rich Pilbara region.


Traditional owners the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people only learned of the planned detonation on 15 May, nine days before it took place. They said the loss was “soul destroying”. Salisbury said the company “regrettably … thought we had a shared understanding with the PKKP about the future of the sites” and would conduct a review to learn “how did this go wrong from our point of view”. He also refused to provide a direct answer when asked if a statement released by the company last week, which suggested the PKKP had only “recently expressed concerns” about the site, was incorrect. It released another statement apologising “for the distress we caused” but not the destruction, on Sunday.

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No testing, no quarantines. More people than this arrived by air. No testing. Now that they’ve all landed and had the chance to infect Britons, there’s a quarentine.

Arrival Of Million By Sea Adds To UK Quarantine Doubts (Times)

More than 1.1 million people have arrived in the UK by sea since the start of the year without being forced to self-isolate as concerns mount over the government’s quarantine policy. Official figures show that there were 346,000 arrivals in the UK in March and April alone despite concerns over the transmission of coronavirus, casting further doubt over the government’s quarantine policy which was introduced for arrivals this week. The figures include HGV drivers, who are exempt from the quarantine measures, although it is not known how many fell into the category. Since Monday, anyone arriving in the UK by air, sea and through the Channel Tunnel rail link has been forced to spend two weeks in isolation. This includes Britons returning from abroad. The scheme does not apply to people from Ireland.


The quarantine is part of measures aimed at avoiding a second outbreak of Covid-19 but critics have questioned its value months after such curbs were introduced elsewhere. Giving evidence to MPs yesterday, Sir David Skeggs, 72, emeritus professor of epidemiology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, told the home affairs committee: “These border measures would be most effective if they were done very early.” Scientists also told MPs that summer holidays abroad risked a fresh wave of coronavirus infections across Europe. Gabriel Leung, 47, a dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said it would be safest if mass-market tourism was discouraged. “I can’t imagine anybody going on holiday in any kind of destination where you go to enjoy the sun and actually doing very good hand hygiene and putting on a mask,” he said.

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Forget these predictions. Nobody has a single clue.

UK Economy Likely To Suffer Worst COVID19 Damage – OECD (G.)

Britain’s economy is likely to suffer the worst damage from the Covid-19 crisis of any country in the developed world, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. A slump in the UK’s national income of 11.5% during 2020 will outstrip the falls in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the US, the Paris-based thinktank said. Germany’s decline in GDP is forecast to be 6.6% this year while Spain’s GDP will fall by 11.1%, Italy’s by 11.3 and France’s by 11.4%. The US, the world’s largest economy, is expected to take a hit of 7.3%. Highlighting the task awaiting the UK government as it seeks to ease the lockdown, the OECD warned that countries forced to impose the most draconian restrictions faced a long haul back to previous levels of activity.

Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s shadow chancellor, blamed the “deeply worrying” OECD forecast on the government’s “failure to get on top of the health crisis, delay going into lockdown and chaotic mismanagement of the exit from lockdown”, which she argued made the economic impact of the crisis worse. Responding to the report, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said the UK was suffering “in common with many other economies around the world” and the priority was to “support people, jobs and businesses through this crisis – and this is what we’ve done”.


Britain, which is forecast to post an increase in unemployment to around 9%, could make its situation more difficult if it failed to secure a lasting agreement with the EU on trade and access to the single market, the OECD said. “The failure to conclude a trade deal with the European Union by the end of 2020 or put in place alternative arrangements would have a strongly negative effect on trade and jobs,” it said. Adding to pressure on No 10 to agree concessions with Brussels to secure a Brexit deal amid the economic damage caused by the pandemic, the credit ratings agency Moody’s warned that a no-deal Brexit would “significantly damage the UK’s potentially fragile recovery from its deepest recession in almost a century”.

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The Fed supports only banks. But Powell can still spout this insulting nonsense. No journalist ever openly disagrees.

Fed Vows To Support US Economy’s ‘Long Road’ To Recovery After Dire 2020 (R.)

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday signaled it plans years of extraordinary support for an economy facing a torturous slog back from the coronavirus pandemic, with policymakers projecting the economy to shrink 6.5% in 2020 and the unemployment rate to be 9.3% at year’s end. In the first economic projections of the pandemic era, U.S. central bank policymakers put into numbers what has been an emerging narrative: that the shutdowns, restrictions and other measures used to battle a health crisis will echo through the economy for years to come rather than be quickly reversed as commerce reopens.

Some 20 million or more people have been thrown out of work since February, and Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged it could take years for them to all reacquire jobs – an economic blow that is falling heaviest on minority communities at a time when mass protests over police brutality have thrown a new spotlight on racial inequality in the United States. Powell, acknowledging the nationwide demonstrations in his opening remarks at a news briefing, said it was now the Fed’s single-minded mission to bring the job market back to where it was at the end of last year, with the unemployment rate at a record low 3.5% and wage gains accumulating for some of the very same lower-paid workers in the service sector that have suffered most during the recent collapse.


[..] At the median, officials see the unemployment rate falling to 6.5% at the end of 2021 and 5.5% at the end of 2022 – still a full 2 percentage points above where it was at the end of last year, representing millions of lost years of work and wages. “The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment and inflation in the near term and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term,” the Fed said in its policy statement. The response has been an unparalleled level of unanimity in the outlook for monetary policy. All 17 current Fed policymakers see the key overnight interest rate, or federal funds rate, remaining near zero through next year, and 15 of 17 see no change through 2022.

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2 million evictions in the pipeline even before COVID19.

US Housing ‘Apocalypse’ Coming As Coronavirus Protections Expire (CNBC)

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. was experiencing what housing experts and advocates deemed an eviction crisis. More than 2 million people face eviction each year, far more than the number of people who faced foreclosure at the height of the 2008 mortgage crisis. Experts expect the eviction crisis to get far worse in the coming months. The Covid-19 economic recession has hit renters especially hard. They make up a disproportionate share of service sector jobs, an industry that has been decimated as a result of the coronavirus shutdowns. In fact, between March 25 and April 10 of this year, nearly half of renters aged 18 to 64 reported that they were having trouble paying their rent or utilities, were food insecure or couldn’t afford needed medical care, according to the Urban Institute.

Thousands of tenants have been missing rent payments over the past few months. People of color have fared worse than white renters due to the disproportionate job loss in their communities, the Urban Institute reports. About 25% of black and Latino renters reported not paying or deferring rent in May, compared to 14% of white renters. To keep people in their homes, the federal government banned evictions in federally assisted properties through July 25, and some cities and states, including Massachusetts, New York and Michigan, put their own temporary eviction moratoriums in place. But many of those bans begin expiring this month depending on the state, according to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, which tracks evictions across the country.

Plus, the extra $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits is set to expire at the end of July. That extra money is “what has been allowing many people who have lost their jobs to continue paying rent,” Solomon Greene, a senior fellow in housing policy at the Urban Institute, tells CNBC Make It. Coupled with the end of eviction moratoriums, the U.S. is likely to experience an uptick in evictions nationwide in the coming weeks. Evicting people in the middle of a global health crisis puts them at greater risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19, turning “a catastrophe into an apocalypse,” Aaron Carr, founder and executive director of the Housing Rights Initiative, tells CNBC Make It. “A lot of people could be on the streets,” says Carr. “Especially in places like New York City that already have a homeless problem, it could turn into a homeless nightmare.”

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For a year. That’s all you need to know. About a company that has rich contracts with US intelligence,

Amazon Bans Police Use Of Facial Recognition Tech – For A Year (BBC)

Technology giant Amazon has banned the police from using its controversial facial recognition software for a year. It comes after civil rights advocates raised concerns about potential racial bias in surveillance technology. This week IBM also said it would stop offering its facial recognition software for “mass surveillance or racial profiling”. The decisions follow growing pressure on firms to respond to the death in police custody of George Floyd. Amazon said the suspension of law enforcement use of its Rekognition software was to give US lawmakers the opportunity to enact legislation to regulate how the technology is employed.


“We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge,” Amazon said in a statement. “We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested.” However, the company said that it would still allow organisations that deal with human trafficking to use the technology. Like other facial recognition products, Amazon’s Rekognition can use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to very quickly compare a picture from, for example, an officer’s phone camera and try to match it with mugshots held on police databases that can hold hundreds of thousands of photos.

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You mean, that wasn’t obvious yet? Sometimes you guys surprise me.

The Elevator Arises As The Latest Logjam In Getting Back To Work (KHN)

When the American Medical Association moved its headquarters to a famous Chicago skyscraper in 2013, the floor-to-ceiling views from the 47th-floor conference space were a spectacular selling point. But now, those glimpses of the Chicago River at the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed landmark, now known as AMA Plaza, come with a trade-off: navigating the elevator in the time of COVID-19. Once the epitome of efficiency for moving masses of people quickly to where they needed to go, the elevator is the antithesis of social distancing and a risk-multiplying bottleneck. As America begins to open up, the newest conundrum for employers in cities is how to safely transport people in elevators and manage the crowd of people waiting for them.

If office tower workers want to stay safe, elevator experts think they have advice, some practical, some not: Stay in your corner, face the walls and carry toothpicks (for pushing the buttons). Not only have those experts gone back to studying mathematical models for moving people, but they are also creating technology like ultraviolet-light disinfection tools and voice-activated panels. “When there is risk of disease spreading from human to human, continuing to maintain a clean and safe vertical transportation system is critical to help people return to work and safe living,” said Jon Clarine, head of digital services at Thyssenkrupp Elevator, in an email.

After all, most elevators are inherently cramped, enclosed spaces that can barely fit two people safely spaced 6 feet apart, much less the dozen or more that elevators in commercial and residential buildings were designed to hold. They’re a minefield of buttons and surfaces tempting to touch. Air circulation is limited to what a few vents and the opening doors can manage. Plus, they’re usually mobbed during the morning, lunchtime and evening rushes.

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If news agencies write this sort of thing, while there are hundreds such products being touted, how is that not stealth advertizing and promotion?

Lilly COVID19 Treatment Could Be Authorized For Use As Soon As September (R.)

Eli Lilly and Co could have a drug specifically designed to treat COVID-19 authorized for use as early as September if all goes well with either of two antibody therapies it is testing, its chief scientist told Reuters on Wednesday. Lilly is also doing preclinical studies of a third antibody treatment for the illness caused by the new coronavirus that could enter human clinical trials in the coming weeks, Chief Scientific Officer Daniel Skovronsky said in an interview. Lilly has already launched human trials with two of the experimental therapies. The drugs belong to a class of biotech medicines called monoclonal antibodies widely used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and many other conditions. A monoclonal antibody drug developed against COVID-19 is likely to be more effective than repurposed medicines currently being tested against the virus.


Skovronsky said the therapies – which may also be used to prevent the disease – could beat a vaccine to widespread use as a COVID-19 treatment, if they prove effective. “For the treatment indication, particularly, this could go pretty fast,” he said in an interview. “If in August or September we’re seeing the people who got treated are not progressing to hospitalization, that would be powerful data and could lead to emergency use authorization.” “So that puts you in the fall time: September, October, November is not unreasonable,” he said. Coronavirus vaccines being developed and tested at unprecedented speed are not likely to be ready before the end of the year at the earliest.

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Out of over 5,000, most of whom have been in Greece for much of their entire lives.

Germany Takes In Another 249 Refugee Children From Greece (K.)

Germany has taken in an additional 249 refugee children from Greece, the country’s interior minister Horst Seehofer said Wednesday, noting that most of the minors are sick or the siblings of migrants that are already in Germany. “As the rates of coronavirus are currently at this low level, we decided as the Interior Ministry… to take in more children from Greece,” Seehofer said, noting that Germany had already received 47 refugee children in April. Seehofer said that some of his associates visited Greece last week to arrange the transfer of the children.


Six of the youngsters who were too sick to travel last week will be transferred on a subsequent trip, he said. “I always said that my migration policy includes order but also humanity,” the German minister said. Luxembourg, Switzerland, Portugal and France are among the countries that have also taken in child refugees from Greece. Many of the children being relocated belong to the ranks of unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece, who number over 5,000.

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Tomorrow’s the DC Appeals Court Michael Flynn hearing. Fireworks.

FBI Knew Steele Dossier Linked To Clinton, Dems From The Start (JTN)

Notes and emails that have been kept so far from Senate investigators show the FBI knew from its earliest interactions with Christopher Steele in July 2016 that his Russia research project on Donald Trump was connected to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. The information, so far mentioned only glancingly and in footnotes of a Justice Department report, could provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with the most powerful evidence yet to confront witnesses about why the bureau concealed the political origins of Steele’s work from the FISA court. “So far the bureau is slow-walking this stuff,” a source familiar with senators’ frustrations told Just the News. “We need to see these sort of documents before we question key witnesses.”

Chairman Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) is seeking a vote later this week to authorize subpoenas that would compel the Christopher Wray-led FBI to produce witnesses and outstanding documents for the committee’s investigation of the Russia investigators. The effort to acquire the original source materials began last December after DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his explosive report blaming the FBI for 17 mistakes, omissions and acts of misconduct in seeking a FISA warrant against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. While the headlines since that report have mostly focused on FISA abuses, Senate investigators have also zeroed in on a handful of little-noticed passages in Horowitz’s narrative that reference original FBI source documents showing what agents and supervisors knew about Steele, the former MI6 agent, and the firm that hired him, Fusion GPS.

It wasn’t until late October 2017 that the public and Congress first learned that the law firm Perkins Coie, on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, hired Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS research firm to have Steele delve into Trump’s Russia connections. And FBI officials have been vague in their explanations about when they knew Steele’s research was tied to Clinton and the DNC and why they did not explicitly inform the FISA court that the Steele dossier used to secure the warrant was funded by Trump’s election opponent. But one passage and two footnotes in Horowitz’s report that have largely escaped public attention suggest the FBI agent who first interviewed Steele about his anti-Trump research in London on July 5, 2016 was aware immediately of a connection to Clinton and that a separate office of the FBI passed along information from an informant by Aug. 2, 2016 that Simpson’s Fusion GPS was connected to the DNC.

[..] The FBI notes and emails from summer 2016 are consistent with recent testimony that Steele gave in a civil case in London, where he testified he told the bureau his research and the Fusion GPS project was connected to Clinton. “I presumed it was the Clinton campaign, and Glenn Simpson had indicated that. But I was not aware of the technicality of it being the DNC that was actually the client of Perkins Coie,” Steele testified in March under questioning from lawyers for Russian bankers suing over his research. Steele confirmed during that testimony that his notes of a 2016 FBI meeting showed he told agents about the Clinton connection.

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May 082020
 


NPC Shad fishing on the Potomac 1920

 

US Death Toll Would Have Been Halved Had It Acted 4 Days Sooner (SCMP)
US Doctors Want Details On Federal Distribution Of Remdesivir (R.)
China Backs WHO Investigating COVID19 Origin (SCMP)
Blood Thinners May Help Sickest COVID19 Patients Survive
COVID19 Wreaks Economic Havoc Across Europe (ZH)
Japan On Course For Deep Recession As Spending, Services Plunge (R.)
Black Britons Face ‘Twice The Risk’ Of Death – ONS (BBC)
Black African Deaths Three Times Higher Than White Britons (BBC)
Black People Four Times More Likely To Die From COVID19 – ONS (G.)
No One Can Be Evicted In New York Until August 20 (JTN)
The Great Potato Giveaway: US Farmers Hand Out Spuds To Avoid Food Waste (R.)
Seattle Permanently Closes 20 Miles Of Residential Streets To Most Traffic (ST)
This Year’s Pulitzer Prize Award Has An Anti-Russian Infowar Agenda (OffG)
Schiff Releases Transcripts Undercutting Dem Claims Of Russia Collusion (JTN)
Former FBI intel Chief Slams Comey’s Pursuit Of Flynn (JTN)

 

 

 

 

• US records 2,448 #coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total toll to 75,543, according to Johns Hopkins University.

• The US has now confirmed a total of 1,254,750 case

• Russia has 6th consecutive day of over 10,000 new cases

• Peru, India keep rising fast, Saudi Arabia is the next “crown prince”

 

 

 

Deaths are not increasing, but cases are in an upward trend. Today close to 100,000. Give it another half hour.

 

Cases 3,934,711 (+ 97,885 from yesterday’s 3,836,826)

Deaths 271,095 (+ 5,729 from yesterday’s 265,366)

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer Deaths among Closed cases is down to 17%. That still needs to come down much more.

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

True for every country, we must assume. There was a report a while ago that said China could have avoided 95% of cases had it acted earlier, I think that was a week.

US Death Toll Would Have Been Halved Had It Acted 4 Days Sooner (SCMP)

The daily death toll from Covid-19 in the United States could have been more than halved if authorities had acted more swiftly in recommending self-isolation and the wearing of face masks, according to a new study. Several US states began issuing stay-at-home orders in late March, while federal health authorities began recommending the use of face masks for all in early April. However, had such measures been implemented just four days earlier, the roughly 2,000 Covid-19 deaths currently being recorded each day would have been cut to less than 1,000, the study said. Furthermore, lifting the measures in a bid to kick-start the economy would almost instantly increase the daily death toll to more than 3,000, it said.

“These findings may inform policymaking,” said the researchers from Princeton Medical Centre and other research institutes in a yet-to-be-peer reviewed paper posted on Medrxiv.org on Wednesday. The findings echoed comments made last month by Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US. “Obviously, if we had right from the very beginning shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different,” he said in a television interview on April 12. “But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then”. Both Fauci and other senior health officials were banned from speaking freely to the media or testifying at congressional hearings by the Trump administration, according to media reports. Swifter action “could have saved lives”, he said, without giving an exact number.

But the figures could be found in publicly available data, according to the research team led by Lanjing Zhang, director of gastrointestinal and liver pathology at Princeton Medical Centre. By tracking the changes in the numbers of infections and deaths after the implementation of the containment measures in the US, Zhang’s team was able to build a mathematical model to simulate the impact of the policies, and then used it to estimate what might have happened had they been introduced at different times. California was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order to its 4 million residents on March 19, and by April 7 similar restrictions had been implemented across the country, affecting almost 90 per cent of the population.

On April 3, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention changed its long-standing policy on the wearing of face masks, and urged everyone to cover their nose and mouth when in public. The effect of the policies was almost instant, the study said. The growth rate for both infections and deaths began slowing on March 23 and by April 4 had plateaued and begun a gentle decline. But according to the model, had the same measures been introduced just four days earlier, the number of new daily infections in April would have fallen by about two-thirds to 10,000. And had the move been made a week sooner, that figure would have dropped to just 3,000, with about 300 daily deaths, it said.

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We know since last week’s report that remdesivir has no impact on cure, it only -at best- helps patients spend a few less days in hospital. So you would expect doctors to have questions about that. But no, they only worry about how fast they can get the drug. If Reuters is to be believed, that is. But why worry about a drug that has zero chance of avoiding death? Nothing better to do?

US Doctors Want Details On Federal Distribution Of Remdesivir (R.)

The Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) is asking for more information on the federal government’s plan for deciding how and where to supply the only drug so far shown to help patients infected with the novel coronavirus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave emergency use authorization to Gilead Sciences Inc’s remdesivir for patients with severe COVID-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus – clearing the way for broader use in more hospitals around the United States. The federal government began distributing the drug this week.


But doctors across the country, particularly in COVID-19 hotspots like New York and Boston, became concerned after being denied their request to obtain the new therapy, IDSA president Dr. Thomas File told Reuters on Thursday. “Some are seeing other hospitals approved, but say ‘we have more cases than they do, so why were we turned down?’” he said. The IDSA on Wednesday called on the Trump Administration to explain how it will ensure equitable distribution of remdesivir to states and hospitals based on COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates. The physician group also stressed the importance of fair allocation to health facilities in communities disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, including African American and Hispanic populations.

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This becomes interesting only if and when a WHO team can investigate in China, not bothered by anyone.

China Backs WHO Investigating COVID19 Origin (SCMP)

China says it supports World Health Organisation efforts to investigate the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic, but rejects any “presumption of guilt”, after the global body said it was talking to Beijing about sending another delegation to the country. The remarks came as Beijing is under mounting international pressure – particularly from the United States – to allow an inquiry into how the pandemic started, and if it was linked to a laboratory in Wuhan, the city where the new virus strain was first reported. Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist with the WHO, on Wednesday said the agency was in discussion with China about examining potential animal origins of the coronavirus.

“There is discussion with our counterparts in China for a further mission, which would be more academic in focus and really focus on looking at what happened at the beginning in terms of the exposures with different animals, so that we can look to have an approach to find the zoonotic source,” she said. “The public health importance of this is critical because without knowing where the animal origin is, it’s difficult for us to attempt to prevent this from happening again,” she added. US President Donald Trump has suggested the virus may be the result of an accident at a Chinese lab, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the US had evidence of this. Trump has also been critical of the WHO, calling it “China-centric” and halting funding to the body. He described the pandemic as an “attack” worse than Pearl Harbour and September 11 that “could have been stopped in China”.

In Beijing on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying accused the US of “untruthful and insincere remarks”, but said China would support a review of the outbreak “at an appropriate time”. “China has supported the work of the WHO for a long time, and worked with the WHO in an open, responsible and transparent manner. China agrees to make a conclusion on the origin of the virus at an appropriate time,” Hua said. “China opposes nations such as the US politicising the issue regarding the origin of the virus, and pushing for an international investigation with a presumption of guilt.”

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And they can kill them too.

Blood Thinners May Help Sickest COVID19 Patients Survive

Blood thinners could improve the survival rate among the most severely ill Covid-19 patients, according to a hospital study in New York City. The finding comes as doctors have been observing blood clot disorders among coronavirus patients that can damage vital organs. The researchers found that intubated patients treated with anticoagulants – medicines that help prevent blood clots – had a mortality rate of 29 per cent. Of those who were not treated with blood thinners, 63 per cent died. And among the ventilated patients who did not survive, those on anticoagulants died after 21 days, while those not given the medicine died after nine days, the researchers said.


“Our findings suggest that systemic anticoagulation may be associated with improved outcomes among patients hospitalised with Covid-19,” they wrote in a peer-reviewed paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on May 6. The study analysed 786 cases where patients had been given blood thinners – about 30 per cent of all Covid-19 patients admitted to five hospitals in the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City between mid-March and April. They were given the medicine orally and via injection under the skin or into a vein, the study said. The researchers also noted that “patients who received anticoagulation were more likely to require invasive mechanical ventilation”.

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No. The economic system is eating itself. The virus is merely a catalyst.

COVID19 Wreaks Economic Havoc Across Europe (ZH)

The European Commission has released its Spring 2020 Economic Forecast which shows that COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on Europe’s economy. The collective GDP of the EU-27 was expected to grow 1.2 percent this year but it is now forecast contract 7.4 percent due to the pandemic. By contrast, Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes that the Financial Crisis “only” led to a contraction of 4.5 percent for the EU-28 back in 2009. The current crisis has now pushed the EU into the deepest recession since its foundation with unemployment rates set to rise drastically. Last year, unemployment across the bloc was 6.7 percent and it is now forecast to grow to 9 percent this year.

The data shows that no EU member state is going to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis unscathed with countries in southern Europe set to be worst impacted. Even though Greece has made progress since the Financial Crisis and has earned plaudits for limiting the spread of the coronavirus, it is expected to suffer the worst decline in GDP our of all EU member states at 9.7 percent. Italy and Spain who have both been badly impacted by the pandemic are also expected to suffer GDP contractions greater than 9 percent this year. Even though Germany has suffered a far lower death toll than many of its neighbors and is slowly easing its lockdown, Europe’s economic powerhouse is still predicted to see its GDP shrink by 6.5 percent this year.

While the situation remains serious in some parts of Europe, particularly the UK, there is light at the end of the tunnel. After 7 weeks of strict confinement, Italians finally emerged from their homes at the start of the week while Germany’s schools and restaurants are set to open over the next couple of days. Even though the situation is improving, most EU leaders are remaining cautious due to the possibility of a second wave of infections. The European Commission has stated that fundamental uncertainty surrounds the forecast and that the danger of a deeper and more protracted recession is very real.

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The entire rich(er) world has economic systems that cannot withstand a few weeks of less activity.

Japan On Course For Deep Recession As Spending, Services Plunge (R.)

Japan’s household spending plunged in March and service-sector activity shrank at a record pace in April, reinforcing expectations that the coronavirus pandemic is tipping the world’s third-largest economy into deep recession. Overtime pay – a barometer of strength in corporate activity – also plunged at a record pace in March, data showed, a sign companies were hit by shrinking business even before the government announced a state of emergency in early April. The weak readings make it a near certainty the economy suffered a second straight quarter of contraction in January-March, the technical definition of a recession, and was on track for a deeper decline in the current quarter as the health crisis kept shoppers home and businesses closed.


“Even without the virus, Japan’s economy was very weak due to the hit from last year’s sales tax hike. The pandemic has completely destroyed any chance of a recovery,” said Taro Saito, executive research fellow at NLI Research Institute. “The economy may rebound somewhat in July-September but won’t return to pre-coronavirus levels for the rest of this year,” said Saito, who expects the economy to contract an annualised 30% in the current quarter. Household spending slumped 6.0% in March from a year earlier following a 0.3% fall in February, marking the biggest drop in five years, government data showed on Friday.

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I noted yesterday that in their coverage of a report, the BBC and Guardian came to very different conclusions. One said blacks in the UK were twice as likely as whites to die from COVID19, the other said it was 4 times. Then when I read the BBC piece this morning, a link had appeared to an article that claimed it was 3 times.

Black Britons Face ‘Twice The Risk’ Of Death – ONS (BBC)

Black men and women are nearly twice as likely to die with coronavirus as white people in England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics. The analysis shows the inequality persists after taking into account age, where people live and some measures of deprivation and prior health. People from Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities also had a significantly higher risk of dying. The government has launched a review into the issue. The analysis by the ONS combined data on deaths involving Covid-19 with information on ethnicity from the 2011 census.


Taking into account age, location and some measures of deprivation, disadvantage and prior health, it found black people were 90% more likely to die with Covid-19 than white people. Men and women from Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities had an increased risk of between 30% and 80%, the analysis found. The ONS suggested some of the risk might be caused by other social and economic factors that are not included in the data. And it said that some ethnic groups may be “over-represented in public-facing occupations” and so more at risk of being infected while at work.

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And yeah, there are a bunch of different data, age, sex etc., but it looks weird.

Black African Deaths Three Times Higher Than White Britons (BBC)

Coronavirus patients from black African backgrounds in England and Wales are dying at more than triple the rate of white Britons, a study suggests. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said a higher proportion of people from ethnic minority backgrounds live in areas hit harder by Covid-19. However, they tend to be younger on average, so should be less vulnerable. But the report found various black, Asian and minority ethnic groups were experiencing higher per capita deaths. And after accounting for differences in age, sex and geography, the study estimated that the death rate for people of black African heritage was 3.5 times higher than for white Britons. It added that for people of black Caribbean heritage, per capita deaths were 1.7 times higher, rising to 2.7 times higher for those with Pakistani heritage. The IFS study said given demographic and geographic profiles, most minority ethnic groups are dying in “excess” numbers in hospitals.

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In the end it’s simply a class society.

Black People Four Times More Likely To Die From COVID19 – ONS (G.)

Black people are more than four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white people, according to stark official figures exposing a dramatic divergence in the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in England and Wales. The Office of National Statistics found that the difference in the virus’s impact was caused not only by pre-existing differences in communities’ wealth, health, education and living arrangements. It discovered that after taking into account age, measures of self-reported health and disability and other socio-demographic characteristics, black people were still almost twice as likely as white people to die a Covid-19-related death.


Bangladeshi and Pakistani males were 1.8 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white males, after other pre-existing factors had been accounted for, and females from those ethnic groups were 1.6 times more likely to die from the virus than their white counterparts. The risk of Covid-19 death for people from Chinese and mixed ethnic groups was found to be similar to that for white people. “These results show that the difference between ethnic groups in Covid-19 mortality is partly a result of socio-economic disadvantage and other circumstances, but a remaining part of the difference has not yet been explained,” the ONS said.

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And some of the things he does are actually good. Nobody screws up all the time.

No One Can Be Evicted In New York Until August 20 (JTN)

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday New York renters cannot be kicked out of their homes for failing to pay rent until Aug. 20. “The No. 1 issue that people talk to me about probably is rent, and fear about being able to pay their rent, and this just takes that issue off the table until August 20,” he said at his daily coronavirus briefing. Cuomo extended for another two months his 90-day suspension of evictions in the state — issued in March and set to expire in June. Cuomo said that landlords who face utility bills and mortgages can turn to banks and federal programming for help. He also said that officials will ban any late-payment fees and allow renters to use their security deposits as payment. “Everyone is just making do, and everyone has hardships,” he said during his daily briefing Thursday. “We just want to make sure the people who are most vulnerable are protected.”

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“Everyone in Washington would have to eat about 500 pounds of potatoes from now until the 4th of July to clear out that pipeline..”

The Great Potato Giveaway: US Farmers Hand Out Spuds To Avoid Food Waste (R.)

Giving away food is just one example of how people around the world are adjusting to the strain the coronavirus pandemic has put on supply chains, as restaurants, schools and hotels close. With unemployment soaring, demand from food banks is rising fast at the same time farmers have fewer outlets to sell their crops. In Washington, the No. 2 U.S. potato growing state after Idaho, a billion pounds of russet potatoes, normally processed into french fries and hash browns, are sitting in warehouses that would typically be emptying ahead of the July harvest, the Washington State Potato Commision said. Instead, the organization is handing out the surplus for free in brown sacks, 100,000 pounds at a time.


“Everyone in Washington would have to eat about 500 pounds of potatoes from now until the 4th of July to clear out that pipeline,” said Brandy Tucker, the commission’s director of marketing. Around 90% of Washington potatoes are processed for food service, nearly half for international markets. Potato producers in Europe have also faced enormous surpluses. The commission is planning more than a dozen donation events by the end of May. But even giving away potatoes comes with the cost of washing, bagging and shipping. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is attempting to chip away at the mountain of produce unable to get to consumers. This week it said it would buy an additional $470 million in food, including $50 million in potatoes to give to food banks.

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Good, give public space back to where it belongs, the public. Not cars. Like the guy’s name, Sam Zimbabwe.

Seattle Permanently Closes 20 Miles Of Residential Streets To Most Traffic (ST)

Nearly 20 miles of Seattle streets will permanently close to most vehicle traffic by the end of May, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday. The streets had been closed temporarily to through traffic to provide more space for people to walk and bike at a safe distance apart during the coronavirus pandemic. Now the closures will continue even after Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order is lifted. Over the next couple of weeks, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will replace the temporary closure signs on the so-called Stay Healthy Streets with permanent markings, guiding drivers to other routes.


[..] Residents, delivery drivers, garbage and recycling workers, and emergency response vehicles can continue to use the streets, but no through traffic is allowed. “Our rapid response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 have been transformative in a number of places across the city,” SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe said. “Some of the responses are going to be long lasting, and we need to continue to build out a transportation system that enables people of all ages and abilities to bike and walk across the city.”

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The Off-Guardian has turned too much into a 24/7 anti-lockdown channel lately, but this is good.

This Year’s Pulitzer Prize Award Has An Anti-Russian Infowar Agenda (OffG)

The Russian Embassy in the US condemned the Pulitzer Prize Board’s awarding of its eponymous prize for “International Reporting” to The New York Times “for a set of enthralling stories, reported at great risk, exposing the predations of Vladimir Putin’s regime”, describing it as: “.. a wonderful collection of undiluted Russophobic fabrications, which can be studied as a guideline on creating false facts.” The six articles and two videos that were responsible for the outlet receiving that “recognition” shared the theme of military-intelligence intrigue, be it accusing the country’s GRU intelligence agency of involvement in several shadowy assassination attempts across Europe or claiming that businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin had a hidden hand in election meddling in Madagascar, for example.

Other assertions that were made by the “journalistic” pieces in question also include the Russian state’s complicity in carrying out war crimes in Syria. As has become the norm in the Western Mainstream Media’s reporting about Russia, an abundance of unnamed sources, fabricated recordings, and disreputable sources were relied upon to push fearmongering narratives about the Eurasian Great Power. The conclusions that were reached – or rather, “reverse-engineered” after first determining the meta-narrative and then subsequently fleshing it out from a variety of geopolitical angles – were predictable enough because they perfectly conformed to the “politically correct” interpretation of President Putin’s global intentions.

It’s for that reason The New York Times’ pieces were “celebrated” by the Pulitzer Prize Board with this supposedly “distinguished” award in an attempt to “legitimize” them for posterity. The Russian Embassy in the US, therefore, did the right thing by condemning this charade as Russophobic and describing The New York Times’ work as “a guideline on creating false facts.” That said, the success of the Pulitzer Prize Board’s efforts to manage global perceptions about Russia as part of the West’s ongoing Hybrid War against it is dependent on whether their targeted audience even cares about what that institution says. In theory, the Pulitzer Prize is supposed to be one of the most distinguished awards that any journalist or outlet can ever receive, but it’s actually more akin to an elite club commending its own members.

To explain, the Pulitzer Prize Board counts among its ranks representatives from The Washington Post and even The New York Times itself. It also includes other professionals as well, such as those from Bloomberg, National Public Radio, and a few folks from academia. Prior to Trump’s rise, these figures might have been almost universally respected, but the American President has since opened the eyes of a broad swath of the country and even the world more broadly to the so-called “Fourth Estate’s” insidious political agendas. Trust in traditional media is dwindling by the day, meaning that the awards ceremonies that they preside over are becoming similarly less prestigious as well.

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One can only imagine what attention this would have gotten were it not for COVID19. The MSM is still trying to defend the FBI, DNC and Obama White House, but that battle has long been lost.

And there is still this kind of thing, as if nothing had changed: “In releasing the transcripts Thursday, the current Democratic House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff claimed they provided proof of nefarious connections between Russians and Trump associates.”

It is almost hard to believe.

Schiff Releases Transcripts Undercutting Dem Claims Of Russia Collusion (JTN)

“Papadopoulos’ comment didn’t particularly indicate that he was the person that had had — that was interacting with the Russians,” McCabe answered when asked by lawmakers why a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant request in October 2016 focused only on Page and not the man the FBI originally predicated the Trump investigation upon. It was one of the few extraordinary admissions from McCabe: The FBI opened up an entire counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign on a figure agents did not believe was having contact with Moscow. The transcripts, otherwise, contain mostly old news, long since surpassed by revelations in Robert Mueller’s final report that concluded there was no collusion between any Americans and Russia to hijack the 2016 election and Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s detailed report of abuses of the FISA process by the FBI.

But perhaps the biggest piece of previously unreported news came from Michael Sussmann, a lawyer for the Perkins Coie law firm that represented the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016. It was that law firm that contracted with Fusion GPS to hire Steele to develop the anti-Trump dossier that was shared with the FBI. Sussmann acknowledged under questioning by Republican staff that in February 2017 he shared dirt he had gotten on the Trump organization’s possible ties to Russia with the CIA. The agency’s name was redacted from the transcript but confirmed to Just the News by multiple U.S. officials. What was your contact [redacted] about?” a lawyer asked Sussmann.

“So the contact was about reporting to them information that was reported to me about possible contacts, covert or at least nonpublic, between Russian entities and various entities in the United States associated with the — or potentially associated with the Trump Organization,” Sussmann answered. The lawyer followed up: “And when did that contact occur, month and year?” “February 2017,” Sussmann answered. “Where did you get that information from to relay to [redacted]?” he was asked. “From a client of mine,” he answered, declining to be more specific. In releasing the transcripts Thursday, the current Democratic House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff claimed they provided proof of nefarious connections between Russians and Trump associates.

“The transcripts released today richly detail evidence of the Trump campaign’s efforts to invite, make use of, and cover up Russia’s help in the 2016 presidential election,” he alleged. In fact, witnesses were repeatedly pressed to offer specific evidence of a conspiracy between Trump and Russia and could offer none, saying it was either too preliminary or they did not have any. “I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting/conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers. “That’s not to say that there weren’t concerns about the evidence we were seeing, anecdotal evidence.

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Former FBI intel Chief Slams Comey’s Pursuit Of Flynn (JTN)

The FBI’s former top intelligence official says the bureau under James Comey’s leadership did not have a legitimate reason to launch an investigation into Michael Flynn and may have engaged in an “historic misuse” of the nation’s premier law enforcement agency. Retired FBI Assistant Director for Intelligence Kevin Brock told Just the News that agents had sought to close the investigation into the incoming national security advisor in January 2017 but the “Comey team” intervened via fired agent Peter Strzok to stop the closure and to pivot to an interview with Flynn. The closing memo communicated that “they had never established any reasonable suspicion that Michael Flynn was acting on behalf of a foreign country at all, ever in the beginning. In other words they had no basis to start the investigation in the first place,” Brock explained.

He described the FBI’s interview of Flynn as “some type of intimidation” and he said they did not have a legal justification to question him. “They wanted to get in front of him and see if they could elicit some type of false statement, that was their goal,” Brock told the John Solomon Reports podcast on Thursday. “They had no right to get in front of him. They had no legal basis to be in the same room with him. That’s the disgrace of all of this.” [..] Brock, the bureau’ first ever intelligence chief under former Director Robert Mueller, described the Flynn episode as very abnormal.

[..] Brock described a 302 interview report related to Flynn’s interview as the most peculiar he had ever encountered out of the thousands he has written or reviewed. He said that if it is shown that the FBI interviewed Flynn for reasons pertaining to “a policy dispute” that would represent a “historic misuse of the FBI.”

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