Sep 162020
 
 September 16, 2020  Posted by at 9:54 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Dorothea Lange A Family Of Mexican Migrants, On The Road In California 1936

 

UK Testing Shortage Could Lead To ‘Lockdown By Default’ – Teaching Union (G.)
Silenced Chinese Virologist Says COVID-19 Intentionally Released (ZH)
Democrats Shoot Down $1.5 Trillion Pandemic Stimulus Compromise (ZH)
Reconsidering the Presidential Election (Saker)
The US Will Not Recover Pre-Crisis Jobs Copying Eurozone Policies (Lacalle)
Down-to-Earth Aspects of the US Economy in Near-Real Time (WS)
NY Lawmakers Launch Bill to Allow Criminal Investigations for Presidents (GR)
Witnesses At Trial: Assange Could Spend Rest Of His Life In Prison (Gosztola)
Joe Rogan Experience #1536 – Edward Snowden (YT)
How Blowing Up A Transit Van Wiped Out £1 Million Of Debt (G.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Rickards

 

 

I said the other day in Lockdown 2.0: 2nd lockdowns are going to be hell to pay, for governments, for their citizens, for their economies. And here we go.

When people understand that they are told to lock down only because their government hasn’t build enough testing capacity after 9 months(!!), many will disobey. And what then? You’re going to mass arrest them? I’d pay to see that!

UK Testing Shortage Could Lead To ‘Lockdown By Default’ – Teaching Union (G.)

It is often assumed that Johnson promised a “world-beating” system in an off-the-cuff response at PMQs, but in fact he first used the phrase in his Sunday night TV address to the nation on 10 May. He said: If we are to control this virus, then we must have a world-beating system for testing potential victims, and for tracing their contacts. So that – all told – we are testing literally hundreds of thousands of people every day. Ten days later at PMQs, when Sir Keir Starmer said he would settle for one that was just “effective”, Johnson repeated the promised with an added timescale, telling MPs: “We will have a test, track and trace operation that will be world-beating, and yes, it will be in place by 1 June.”

That hasn’t quite materialised, and this morning the consequence were vividly highlighted when a teaching union said the unavailability of tests could lead to a “lockdown by default”. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), told the Today programme that headteachers were being forced to decide that the “bubble has to stay at home” if a pupil or teacher in a year group had shown Covid-19 symptoms and could not get a test to prove they were negative. He went on: “This will feel I think like lockdown by default – it will be more frustrating for parents because you can’t predict whether it is going to happen. And similarly from the headteacher’s point of view, if my year 4 teacher today shows symptoms, will he or she be in school tomorrow, will they be here for the next 14 days?

“As soon as you start to get that with six, seven, eight teachers, it becomes unsustainable to be able to run things.” Barton also quoted from a head teacher who had emailed him overnight to say they felt “hoodwinked” by the government. Barton summarised the message from the head in the email as this: “I feel that everything we put in place – the one-way systems, the bubbles and all of that, we have done – but now we are being tripped up by the fact that, whether it’s a child or a member of staff, they simply can’t get a test and it’s leaving us in a position of me not know whether I can staff some of those lessons tomorrow, or indeed for the next two weeks. It’s infuriating.”

Read more …

Frankenstein.

Silenced Chinese Virologist Says COVID-19 Intentionally Released (ZH)

Hours after her unceremonious Twitter ban for, we assume, presenting evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Wuhan lab, Chinese virologist Dr. Li-Meng Yan appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” where she told the Fox News host that the virus is a “Frankenstein” which was designed to target humans which was intentionally released. “It could never come from nature,” she Yan – an MD/PhD who worked with coronavirus at the University of Hong Kong “There is evidence left in the genome” – which Yan detailed in a 26-page scientific paper co-written with three other Chinese scientists. “They don’t want people to know this truth. Also, that’s why I get suspended [from Twitter], I get suppression. I am the target that the Chinese Communist Party wants disappeared.”


When Carlson asked her why she believes the virus made it’s way out of the Wuhan lab, Dr. Yan said “I worked in the WHO reference lab, which is the top coronavirus lab in the world at the university of Hong Kong. And the things I got deeply into such investigation in secret from the early beginning of this outbreak – I had my intelligence through my network in China, involved in the hospitals, institutes and also government.” “Together with my experience, I can tell you – this is created in a lab.” Dr. Yan fled Hong Kong on April 28 on a Cathay Pacific flight to the United States. She believes her life is in danger, and that she can never go back home.

Read more …

How popular is Pelosi in her own party?

Democrats Shoot Down $1.5 Trillion Pandemic Stimulus Compromise (ZH)

Update (1425ET): In what should be a surprise to nobody, House Democrats have completely shot down the $1.5 trillion bipartisan compromise for pandemic relief, arguing “When it comes to bolstering the public health system, supporting state and local governments, and assisting struggling families, the Problem Solvers’ proposal leaves too many needs unmet.” “… The health and economic crisis demands action. That will require President Trump and Republican leaders to come back to the table and work with Democrats to save lives and livelihoods,” the Democrats continue.

A bipartisan group of 50 House lawmakers will release a $1.52 trillion pandemic stimulus proposal, in the hopes of breaking a months-long deadlock over the next round of relief, according to Bloomberg. The Problem Solvers Caucus, which has negotiated for weeks with the knowledge of the White House and party leadership will announce detail their plan in an 11 a.m. news conference. Notably, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hinted at the discussions last month – noting that the White House could accept a $1.5 trillion deal. “The caucus proposal offers key compromises on the two thorniest issues in the stalled talks between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration. On aid to state and local governments, the group is backing about $500 billion, splitting the difference between the $915 billion sought by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and the $150 billion put forward by the White House”. -Bloomberg

The group is proposing a $450 per week unemployment insurance extension for eight weeks, which would then convert to a formula to cap payments at 100% of wages or $600 per week, whichever is lower. Democrats have lobbied for $600 per week, while the White House has sought $300 per week – arguing that more money would discourage people from seeking work. What’s more, a $1,200 direct stimulus payment is included in the new proposal – along with a $500 per child benefit. “The “March to Common Ground” framework, led by Caucus co-chairs Tom Reed, a New York Republican and Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, also contains money for Covid-19 testing, schools and childcare, small business relief. It would also link relief to economic metrics, reducing aid if the pandemic abates or extending it if it worsens.” -Bloomberg

Read more …

“..we roughly have, on one hand, what I would call the “Trump Party” (which is not the same as the GOP) and the “deplorables” objectively standing for law and order. On the other hand, we have the Dems, some Republicans, big corporations and the BLM/Antifa mobs who now all objectively stand for anarchy, chaos and random violence.”

Reconsidering the Presidential Election (Saker)

In early July I wrote a piece entitled “Does the next Presidential election even matter?” in which I made the case that voting in the next election to choose who will be the next puppet in the White House will be tantamount to voting for a new captain while the Titanic is sinking. I gave three specific reasons why I thought that the next election would be pretty much irrelevant: • The US system is rigged to give all the power to minorities and to completely ignore the will of the people. • The choice between the Demolicans and the Republicrats is not a choice at all. • The systemic crisis of the USA is too deep to be affected by who is in power in the White House. I have now reconsidered my position and I now see that I was wrong because I missed something important:

A lot has happened in the past couple of months and I now have come to conclude that while choosing a captain won’t make any difference to a sinking Titanic, it might make a huge difference to those passengers who are threatened by a group of passengers run amok. In other words, while I still do not think that the next election will change much for the rest of the planet (the decay of the Empire will continue), it is gradually becoming obvious that for the United States the difference between the two sides is becoming very real. Why? This is probably the first presidential election in US history where the choice will be not between two political programs or two political personalities, but the stark and binary choice between law and order and total chaos.

It is now clear that the Dems are supporting the rioting mobs and that they see these mobs as the way to beat Trump. It is also becoming obvious that this is not a white vs. black issue: almost all the footage from the rioting mobs shows a large percentage of whites, sometimes even a majority of whites, especially amongst the most aggressive and violent rioters (the fact that these whites regularly get beat up by rampaging blacks hunting for “whitey” does not seem to deter these folks).

True, both sides blame each other for “dividing the country” and “creating the conditions for a civil war”, but any halfway objective and fact based appraisal of what is taking place shows that the Dems have comprehensively caved into the BLM/Antifa ideology (which is hardly surprising, since that ideology is a pure product of the Dems (pseudo-)liberal worldview in the first place). Yes, the Demolicans and the Republicrats are but two factions of the same “Party of Money”, but the election of Trump in 2016 and the subsequent 4 years of intense seditious efforts to delegitimize Trump have resulted in a political climate in which we roughly have, on one hand, what I would call the “Trump Party” (which is not the same as the GOP) and the “deplorables” objectively standing for law and order. On the other hand, we have the Dems, some Republicans, big corporations and the BLM/Antifa mobs who now all objectively stand for anarchy, chaos and random violence.

Read more …

But the euro is still very strong.

The US Will Not Recover Pre-Crisis Jobs Copying Eurozone Policies (Lacalle)

In April I wrote a column stating that “The U.S. Labor Market Can Heal Quickly” and the improvement has been positive. Very few would have expected the unemployment rate at 8.4% in August after soaring to almost 15% in the middle of the pandemic. This means that the unemployment rate is in August 2020 lower than what analysts projected for the end of 2020. Even the measure of underemployment (U-6) has fallen from 22.8% to 14.2%. In August, the number of persons who usually work full time rose by 2.8 million to 122.4 million, or ten million below the level of August 2019, and the number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job declined by 747,000 to 7 million, which is still two million higher than in February. This means both incredibly positive news and that there is a lot left to do.

Few would have expected full-time employment to be as close as last year’s level by now. Since the reopening, the US has recovered almost eleven million jobs, continuing jobless claims have fallen rapidly from 25 million to 13.25 million and full-time employment is rising strongly, while the Atlanta Fed median wage growth tracker remains at 3.9% for 2020. It is true that the good jobs data of August includes part-time workers hired for census activity, but the truth is that those accounted for less than one out of every six new jobs created. Even acknowledging that there is a lot of work to do to recover the record levels of employment in February 2020, at this rate the United States would be able to return to all-time high levels of employment by the first quarter of 2021, instead of 2023 as the Federal Reserve estimates.

We must remember that the track record of the Federal Reserve in estimating unemployment has been to err on the side of pessimism, particularly in the past three years. What the United States needs to do to recover jobs and return to real wage growth and the path to full employment is both easy and challenging. The United States needs to cut red tape and bureaucratic burdens to new business creation, lift regulatory and fiscal burdens that prevent small and medium enterprises from growing into large companies, maintain an attractive tax system that incentivizes investment, capital repatriation, and supports job creation.

Anyone can understand this. Why is it challenging, then? In the middle of election year, there are too many misguided proposals from the left demanding higher taxes, more government interventionism, and more regulatory burdens. It seems that many politicians cannot learn from the mistakes of the eurozone. Higher taxes and more interventionism will not deliver better public services and stronger finances. The eurozone is proof that higher taxes still drove most countries to historic high levels of debt and unemployment while public services did not improve. Deficit spending is not solved by raising taxes, but by cutting unnecessary spending. With a rising tax wedge, growth is weaker, job creation is poorer, and the deficit remains stubbornly high because expenditures rise in growth and crisis periods significantly above receipts.

Read more …

Wolf Richter thinks things remain pretty bad.

Down-to-Earth Aspects of the US Economy in Near-Real Time (WS)

The US economy is completing the sixth month of the Pandemic. So how is the recovery going, as seen by the near-real-time indicators that have sprung up as a result of the Pandemic? The raw unadjusted data of these indicators compare daily or weekly data this year to how it was just before the Pandemic, or how it was at the same time last year. There is some roughness in this data. For example, this year, Labor Day fell on September 7; last year, it fell on September 2 (prior week). So there are some wild fluctuations as Labor Day data gets compared to non-Labor Day data. Independence Day was similar. But that’s raw data.


Restaurants, “seated diners”: -49% Online reservation service OpenTable provides daily data on “seated diners” – how many people actually sit down in restaurants to eat and drink compared to the same weekday in the same week last year – including walk-ins and those who made reservations online or by calling. This data is based on thousands of restaurants in the US that share that information with OpenTable. I used a 7-day moving average to smoothen out the day-to-day fluctuation. The date-mismatch of Labor Day caused the spike in the chart below. Currently, after six months of Pandemic, “seated diners” are still down 49% through September 14, from where they’d been last year at this time:

Airlines, Airports, & Related Businesses: -68%.
The air passenger count entering the security zones of US airports is still down over 68% (-69.7% on September 14), according to TSA airport screenings. Airport operations, restaurants and shops at airports, airport rental cars, and the rest of the airport ecosystem are on a similar trajectory. Beyond the date-mismatch around Labor Day, demand has improved only slightly since early July:

Going to the Office. This is a measure of the shift to work-from-home mixed with employment reductions of office workers, and sheds light on what all the businesses face that cater to office workers, such as cafes, restaurants, shops, barbershops, hair saloon, and the like. And it sheds light on what the office segment of commercial real estate is facing. The data from Kastle Systems, provider of access systems for 3,600 buildings and 41,000 businesses in 47 states, represents a large sample of how many people are entering offices each day. Its “10 City Average” of office occupancy is currently at 24.6% of the pre-Pandemic level in early March, and has not significantly improved in over the past few months, meaning it’s still down by 75.4% (the available average data only goes back to June):

Read more …

Why do I have to read this from a Greek source?

NY Lawmakers Launch Bill to Allow Criminal Investigations for Presidents (GR)

New York legislators introduced on Monday a bill that would thwart all efforts by any sitting US President to impede on-going criminal investigations. The New York No Citizen is Above the Law Act, (S.8973/A.10905) was introduced by Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member Nick Perry. Last week a federal court granted President Trump yet another delay in his on-going legal maneuverings and stall tactics to keep hidden his subpoenaed tax returns from the Manhattan District Attorney. This bill ensures laws are equally applied to all citizens, even the President of the United States, the lawmakers said in a press release. “This President and any who follow should be held accountable for their illegal acts,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.


“We must close the loophole that allows Presidents to exploit statutes of limitations coupled with Presidential immunity to forever escape culpability for malfeasance.” “Clearly the privileges of the office of President were not intended to make the holder of the office above the law, and was not intended to empower a President with the ability to thwart and sabotage an active, legitimate investigation as New York prosecutors have accused the president of doing,” said Assemblyman Nick Perry. “Enactment of the New York No Citizen is Above the Law Act, will ensure that this tenet holds true in New York as it should in the entire United States. Tolling the statute of limitations for the full period a president’s tenure will ensure that if the president did participate in any of the numerous criminal activities alleged by his former counsel to have occurred, he like every other New York citizen will be held to account for all crimes against the people and state of New York.”

Read more …

Pretty scary.

Witnesses At Trial: Assange Could Spend Rest Of His Life In Prison (Gosztola)

During an extradition trial, witnesses for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal team said he could spend the rest of his life in a federal prison in the United States if convicted of all the offenses he faces. Judge Vanessa Baraitser, the presiding British judge, also heard testimony related to how authorities in the U.S. government would likely pressure Assange to plead guilty instead of going to trial. Assange, who is 49 years-old, is accused of 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime that, as alleged in the indictment, is written like an Espionage Act offense. The charges criminalize the act of merely receiving classified information, as well as the publication of state secrets from the United States government.

It targets common practices in news gathering, which is why the case is widely opposed by press freedom organizations throughout the world. Eric Lewis, a U.S. defense attorney, said the “base level” for a sentence if Assange was convicted of all the above offenses would be about eight to 10 years. However, Assange pled guilty to 24 charges in a case brought against in Australia for allegedly hacking into Nortel, a Canadian telecommunications company. That criminal history could potentially increase his sentence. Often the U.S. government requests “adjustments,” or that a judge applies factors to the sentence, which can alter the length of the sentence. “If the defendant was the organizer or leader of criminal activity that involved 5 or more participants that was otherwise expensive,” Lewis said, an adjustment could be imposed.

He faces conspiracy charges, where this could be applied, making the sentence at least 12 to 15 years in prison. The most recent indictment involves Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson, who worked as an FBI informant and was convicted of multiple crimes in Iceland. But he was a minor when he became involved in acts Assange allegedly committed so that could increase the sentence to 15 years and eight months on the low end and 19 years and seven months on the high end. According to Lewis, there is an adjustment “commonly added to people who seem to have special abilities that help them commit the crime.” “I would think that Mr. Assange’s technical proficiency,” would qualify, Lewis said. So, prosecutors could increase his sentence to 19 years and five months on the low end or 24 years and five months on the high end.

Two other enhancements might be applied. They relate to obstruction and the naming of U.S. “human intelligence sources,” as well as U.S. officials who worked in State Department embassies who may consider themselves “victims.” If an enhancement was added for attempting to elude the investigation of a crime, the sentence would increase to 24 years and four months on the low end and 30 years and five months on the high end. An enhancement for exposing the identities of intelligence sources or embassy officials would lead to a life sentence. However, Lewis indicated this would exceed what the statutory maximum allows so it would likely be reduced to a 175-year sentence.

[..] The federal court system, as Durkin testified, imposes a “trial tax.” A defendant, especially one accused of jeopardizing US national security, is penalized if they go to trial. Someone who pleads guilty before trial can benefit from an adjustment that reduces a sentence considerably. Assange could quickly go from a 24-year sentence to a 17-year sentence. This could be the difference between seeing his partner Stella Morris and his children outside of prison before he dies and never having a private moment with them again. Former CIA Director Leon Panetta, who was part of President Barack Obama’s administration, appeared in a documentary from the German public broadcaster ARD called, “The USA against Assange.”

Panetta revealed the game that government officials in President Donald Trump’s administration are playing. “All you can do is hope that you can ultimately take action against those that were involved in revealing that information so you can send a message to others not to do the same thing,” Panetta declared. As with the war on whistleblowers waged by the Obama administration, the Trump administration, and those who support this prosecution, encourage the expansion of a front in a war on journalism.

Read more …

Transcript by Suzie Dawson.

Joe Rogan Experience #1536 – Edward Snowden (YT)

“Julian Assange, right now, today is in court in the UK fighting an extradition trial…” “…to the United States. For those who don’t remember, this is the guy who is the head of @wikileaks. And he really fell out of favour in 2016 because he published the Hillary emails and everything like that, the Podesta emails, but he’s not being charged with that…” “…the extradition trial has nothing to do with that. Actually the US Governement under William Barr, the current Attorney General, is trying to extradite this guy & put him in prison for the rest of his life for the best work that @wikileaks ever did that has won awards in every country basically around the planet, including the United States, which is the Iraq & Afghanistan War Logs.

Detainee records in Guantanamo Bay.. things that are about explicit war crimes & abuses of power, torture & people who were killed who shouldn’t have been killed, violations of use-of-force protocols and all of these things. And this could all be made to go away if the Attorney General William Barr would drop the charges. Why isn’t he?” 1:02:38: Rogan says Assange has been tortured; calls the torture of Julian “disturbing”, says “he exposed horrific crimes!”; talks about the threat to freedom of the press; calls the trial a “kangaroo court”, decries attack on 1st Amendment & MSM silence

Snowden: “I think a lot of this comes down to the fact that they see Julian Assange – by this I mean a lot of the mainstream media, the broadcast outlets – as a partisan figure and it’s really sad. Because the most dangerous thing about the charges against Julian Assange…is if they extradite Assange and if he is convicted, he’s charged under the Espionage Act. The same thing I’m charged under, that all these whistleblowers are charged under. But he is not a source. As abusive as these Espionage Act charges have run in the last 50 yrs…” “…is the government had sort of a quiet agreement, they never charge the press outlets. They never charged the New York Times, they never charged the Washington Post, they don’t charge the journalists they charge their sources…”

“..They charge the Chelsea Mannings right? They charge the Edward Snowdens, they charge the Thomas Drakes, the Daniel Ellsbergs. But the press, they’re left alone. They are breaking that agreement with the Julian Assange case. Assange is not a source. Merely a publisher..”

Snowden Rogan

Read more …

Nice story about the making of a film: “The irony is that we only needed to raise £20,000 to buy out £1m of debt.

How Blowing Up A Transit Van Wiped Out £1 Million Of Debt (G.)

Edelstyn was also inspired by anthropologist David Graeber who, as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, devised the “We are the 99%” slogan. Graeber died earlier this month but his work will doubtless live on. “His writings are mindblowing,” says Edelstyn. “Think about how many lives are dedicated to working in meaningless jobs to pay off endless debts.” Graeber’s 2011 book The First 5,000 Years urged a revival of the Biblical notion of a society-wide cancelling of debts. His Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, published in 2018, argued that society was harmed by meaningless jobs. While Edelstyn imagined himself as the Debtonator, righting economic wrongs, Powell had other ideas. A performance artist who has collaborated with the Royal Opera House choir, she imagined Bank Job as Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk, or a total work of art.


“We also wanted to become involved in our local community and to involve them in our art,” she says. “We wanted to get to know our neighbours a bit too,” adds her husband. The couple took over an old Co-op bank out in Walthamstow, east London. They renamed it Hoe Street Central Bank, whose initials teased the branch of HSBC opposite. Inside, they decided to print money, just like the Bank of England, although their quantitative easing was aimed at reducing debt burdens rather than filling bank coffers. Instead of the Queen, Charles Darwin or Jane Austen on their notes, HSCB’s currency celebrated local heroes.

Their fiver was known as a Gary, after Gary Nash of the Eat or Heat food bank. The tenner was a Saira, honouring Saira Mir of soup kitchen PL84U Al-Suffa. The 20 was a Steve, celebrating Stephen Barnabis of the Soul Project youth service. The 50 was a Tracey, named after primary school headteacher Tracey Griffiths. The money was issued by Powell, Guv’nor of the Bank. It was made from old £10 notes that had been recalled by the Bank of England, shredded, then turned into briquettes, ready for incinerating. The team took them instead and turned the blocks into pulp, from which paper was made. This was then printed on site by volunteers and students, before being dried on washing lines suspended from the ceiling. They were sold to collectors around the world, and the proceeds funded cash-strapped local causes – and bought up more than £1m of payday loans in E17, the 35th most indebted postcode in Britain.
.
“The irony is that we only needed to raise £20,000 to buy out £1m of debt, because bad loans are often written down to a fraction of their value in the secondary market. So we wrote to people telling them the debt had been paid off.” In the film, we see Edelsytn dropping the letters into a pillar box. “It was a very emotional moment,” he says. “I’d been reading a book arguing that loading debt on to ordinary people is the biggest constraint on a free citizenry in modern times. And here we were cancelling some of that.”

Read more …

 

 

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

Thank you for your support.

 

 

Biden has one thing to say

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Sep 132020
 
 September 13, 2020  Posted by at 6:17 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »


Rembrandt van RIjn A Woman Standing with a Candle c.1631

 

 

To be honest, I didn’t think it would ever happen, even though it’s been so obvious for so long. But all of a sudden, the conservative voices questioning the Russia collusion narrative and all the investigations that followed from it, are finally figuring out that those behind that narrative and all that resulted from it, are the same people who have been chasing down Julian Assange for many years.

And that to get to the bottom of the hunt for Trump by the DNC, Clinton campaign, US intelligence and last but not least the media in their pockets, the NYT, WaPo, MSNBC, CNN et al, they will have to take a much closer look at what happened to Assange. If they don’t they will never understand. How do we know it’s starting to dawn on them? Look at this illustration at the Last Refuge site yesterday. More on them later.

Note: the mostly left wing Assange supporters would do good to consider the same thing: they in turn must look into the RussiaRussia Trump collusion stories, much as they may not like the president. Because those stories are why Assange has been chased down like so much roadkill. And because the right win of America is their best chance at getting him pardoned/released. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, to put it bluntly. Sometimes you need blunt.

 

 

As I’ve pointed out countless times, the Mueller investigation of the Trump campaign -and presidency- may have come up glaringly empty, but the report they issued maintained that “13 Russians” and Julian Assange were responsible for hacking DNC emails. There is no proof of this, but since none of the “accused” can speak out, the report make the claim, and did.

Actually, a source connected to the “13 Russians” that was also named, the firm Concord Management, linked to Internet Research Agency, both owned by “Putin’s cook” Yevgeniy Prigozhin, one of the 13 Russians, did speak out and hired lawyers in the US. The case was quietly dropped when it became clear Mueller had nothing on them. The rest didn’t speak, and hired no defense, so that part of the report, nonsense as it may be, still stands.

Mueller et al could simply have met with Assange, he wasn’t going anywhere as they knew, but they didn’t, because A) the last thing they wanted was confirmation that “the Russians” did not provide any information to WikiLeaks, since that was what little was left of what the entire report was based on, and B) they wanted to make Assange look like an enemy of the US. Meeting with him would have blown both A) and B) out of the water, and he wouldn’t have been any use to them, or the DNC, or the FBI/CIA/DOJ. Assange was useful to them exactly because he could *not* speak.

 

The wake up call for the right must have been Tucker Carlson’s interview with Glenn Greenwald about Assange this week. Of which I said: “Bless Tucker Carlson for providing the platform. Bless Glenn Greenwald for his eloquent statement. Don’t miss this.” But still, as I also said: “Wonder why it took the right wing so long to wake up to how Julian Assange is linked to the whole machine. Did they really need Tucker Carlson for that?”

Greenwald said Trump could pardon Assange, and Snowden too, and there’s “widespread support across the political spectrum for doing both” (something I never heard anyone confirm, btw), and “the only people who would be angry would be Susan Rice, John Brennan, Jim Comey and James Clapper, because they’re the ones who both of them exposed”. Well, there’s your people. Those are the people who’ve been after both Trump and Assange since at least 2015.
Do both sides realize what they have in common now?

 

 

I don’t want to make this too long, and there’s more ground to cover. First, take a look at what Paul Craig Roberts had to say recently. He knows the territory. He worked extensively both as a journalist before that became a tainted term, and served under Ronald Reagan as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. Like his views on economics or not, he knows a thing or two about DC. Here’s what he had to say 3 days ago, which ties right into the Assange/RussiaRussia/Mueller/CIA tall tale :

The United States & Its Constitution Have Two Months Left

To stop Kennedy they assassinated him. To stop Trump they concocted Russiagate, Impeachgate, and a variety of wild and unsubstantiated accusations. The presstitutes repeat the various accusations as if they are absolute proven truth. The presstitutes never investigated a single one of the false accusations. These efforts to remove Trump did not succeed. Having pulled off numerous color revolutions in which the US has overthrown foreign governments, the tactics are now being employed against Trump. The November presidential election will not be an election. It will be a color revolution.

[..] the CIA has controlled the prestige American media since 1950. The American media does not provide news. It provides the Deep State’s explanations of events. This ensures that real news does not interfere with the agenda. The German journalst, Udo Ulfkotte, wrote a book, Bought Journalism, in which he showed that the CIA also controls the European press. To be clear, there are two CIA organizations. One is an agency that monitors world events and endeavors to provide more or less accurate information to policymakers.

The other is a covert operations agency. This agency assassinates people, including an American president, and overthrows uncooperative governments. President Truman publicly stated after he was out of office that he made a serious mistake in permitting the covert operations branch of the CIA. He said that it was an unaccountable government in itself. President Eisenhower agreed and in his last address to the American people warned of the growing unaccountable power of the military/security complex. President Kennedy realized the threat and said he was going “to break the CIA into a thousand pieces,” but they killed him first.

It would be easy for the CIA to kill Trump, but the “lone assassin” has been used too many times to be believable. It is easier to overthrow Trump’s reelection with false accusations as the CIA controls the American and European media and has many Internet sites pretending to be dissident, a claim that fools insouciant Americans.

Indeed, it is the leftwing that the CIA owns. The rightwing goes along because they think it is patriotic to support the military/security complex. After the CIA overthrows Trump, they will use Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and their presstitutes to foment race war. Then the CIA will ride in on the Pale Horse, and the population will submit.

And yes, you are right, Julian Assange got in the way of that. Not because he hated Hillary Clinton, though he detested what she and Obama did to Libya, but because Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning provided him with material that bore witness to the crimes committed by the US intelligence “cabal”. In Snowden’s case, it was the NSA spying on -the- American people, in Manning’s it was war crimes executed overseas.

The way the “cabal” reacted to all that material -there was/is a lot- was to link Assange to a fictitious story about Russia meddling in US elections, a very convenient link because it tied into what they were already constructing to get rid of Trump.

Here is lawyer “sundance” at the Conservative Treehouse (aka The Last Refuge). The -recommended- article has a lot more info, not just on Assange, but also on the set-up of the “cabal”; he’s been digging for a long time. I know, it’s right wing media. But nobody else will cover this. And we want to get Assange released, don’t we?! So take a listen to how similar this is, written yesterday, to what I, and others, have been saying about the case for a long time.

Again, I have no idea why it took so long for people like “sundance” to catch up, but it’s people like him who may well be our best shot at keeping Assange alive. And people like Tucker, of course; you can bet Trump is watching him, and has seen the Greenwald interview by now.

 

What’s Behind The DOJ Aggression Toward Julian Assange

Nancy Pelosi previously labeled all Trump supporters as “enemies of the state.” Similarly we note the apparatus of the administrative state labels Julian Assange the same. There’s a good argument that the reason why Assange is considered such a threat to the U.S. is specifically because he could expose the lies of the administrative state.

As a consequence the U.S. intelligence apparatus has targeted the WikiLeaks founder and the Bill Barr DOJ is being extremely aggressive in their effort to get control of him. Tucker Carlson discussed this dynamic last night; albeit stopping short of the brutally honest part. To understand the risk Julian Assange represents to the administrative state, it is important to understand the extent of CIA, FBI and DOJ operations in 2016.

[..] On April 11th, 2019, the Julian Assange indictment was unsealed in the EDVA. From the indictment we discover it was under seal since March 6th, 2018. On Tuesday April 15th more investigative material was released. Again, note the dates: Grand Jury, *December of 2017* This means FBI investigation prior to…. The FBI investigation took place prior to December 2017, it was coordinated through the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) where Dana Boente was U.S. Attorney at the time.

The grand jury indictment was sealed from March of 2018 until after Mueller completed his investigation, April 2019. Why the delay? What was the DOJ waiting for? Here’s where it gets interesting…. The FBI submission to the Grand Jury in December of 2017 was four months after congressman Dana Rohrabacher talked to Julian Assange in August of 2017: “Assange told a U.S. congressman … he can prove the leaked Democratic Party documents … did not come from Russia.” [..]

Knowing how much effort the CIA and FBI put into the Russia collusion-conspiracy narrative, it would make sense for the FBI to take keen interest after this August 2017 meeting between Rohrabacher and Assange; and why the FBI would quickly gather specific evidence (related to Wikileaks and Bradley Manning) for a grand jury by December 2017. Within three months of the grand jury the DOJ generated an indictment and sealed it in March 2018.

The EDVA sat on the indictment while the Mueller probe was ongoing. As soon as the Mueller probe ended, on April 11th, 2019, a planned and coordinated effort between the U.K. and U.S. was executed; Julian Assange was forcibly arrested and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London<, and the EDVA indictment was unsealed.

As a person who has researched this three year fiasco; including the ridiculously false 2016 Russian hacking/interference narrative: “17 intelligence agencies”, Joint Analysis Report (JAR) needed for Obama’s anti-Russia narrative in December ’16; and then a month later the ridiculously political Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) in January ’17; this timing against Assange is just too coincidental. It doesn’t take a deep researcher to see the aligned Deep State motive to control Julian Assange because the Mueller report was dependent on Russia cybercrimes, and that narrative is contingent on the Russia DNC hack story which Julian Assange disputes.

This is critical. The Weissmann/Mueller report contains claims that Russia hacked the DNC servers as the central element to the Russia interference narrative in the U.S. election. This claim is directly disputed by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, as outlined during the Dana Rohrabacher interview, and by Julian Assange on-the-record statements.

The predicate for Robert Mueller’s investigation was specifically due to Russian interference in the 2016 election. The fulcrum for this Russia interference claim is the intelligence community assessment; and the only factual evidence claimed within the ICA is that Russia hacked the DNC servers; a claim only made possible by relying on forensic computer analysis from Crowdstrike, a DNC contractor.

The CIA holds a massive conflict of self-interest in upholding the Russian hacking claim. The FBI holds a massive interest in maintaining that claim. All of those foreign countries whose intelligence apparatus participated with Brennan and Strzok also have a vested self-interest in maintaining that Russia hacking and interference narrative. Julian Assange is the only person with direct knowledge of how Wikileaks gained custody of the DNC emails; and Assange has claimed he has evidence it was not from a hack.

This Russian “hacking” claim is ultimately so important to the CIA, FBI, DOJ, ODNI and U.K intelligence apparatus…. Well, right there is the obvious motive to shut Assange down as soon intelligence officials knew the Mueller report was going to be public. Now, if we know this, and you know this; and everything is cited and factual… well, then certainly AG Bill Barr knows this.

 

That is a lot of information in one go, and not much of it is new, at least to me or to regular readers of the Automatic Earth. What is new is that the Conservative press are figuring out that if they want to defend Trump against the “cabal”, they need to look much more deeply into the role Julian Assange has played in the whole story, especially over the past few years.

And as I said above, it would be good if the “Free Assange” side would so something similar, reach out, because the Conservative press may well be the best ally there is for their cause. It’s not about how you feel about Trump, it’s about the “cabal” targeting Trump through Assange, and the other way around.

And in the end it’s real simple: Trump has the power to pardon Assange and set him free, him and Snowden. Would you rather *not* appeal to that power, and leave Julian to rot in Belmarsh and g-d knows where next, or do you think you now understand how the game has been played, and will be going forward? Your pick. But remember: it will take Trump overruling Bill Barr and the DOJ, and the right wing can’t do that alone.

 

One last thing, something I’ve also tried to explain umpteen times: Whenever you see someone claim that Assange plays to his personal political choices, or that he has something anything to do with the Kremlin, or that he lies about anything at all, please remember this: Julian Assange has always been acutely aware of the one weakness of WikiLeaks which is simultaneously its main strength:

That is, he cannot lie, he cannot align with a political side, he cannot align with any one country or ideology (I would almost write: ”he could not” instead of he cannot, but thank God Julian is alive, so I will not).

The reason for this is that people like Snowden and Manning and many others, who are in possession of highly sensitive evidence of government or intelligence malfeasance, must be sure the material will not be used for -party- political purposes, or to make a country look good, and first and foremost that it is not distorted or lied about in any way, shape or form.

Because if Julian Assange would ever do any such thing, the bond of trust would be broken, for every single potential future source and/or whistleblower, and for all time. He would never be able to repair that. It would be the end of WikiLeaks, right there. Julian would never have allowed that to happen to his brainchild; he would die first. And they all know it, the entire “cabal”; that’s why you read in the press what you do, that’s why the smear campaigns are there. None of which are even remotely true.

A last last thing: Julian Assange is so skilled at the digital side of things that no secret service in the entire world, no matter how many people they put on it, has ever come close to hacking or breaking into WikiLeaks. That should make us all feel safer, and that is why there are all these attempts to make us feel the opposite.

 

 

 

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

Thank you for your support.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 222020
 
 August 22, 2020  Posted by at 10:07 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  19 Responses »


Steve Schapiro Robert Kennedy US Presidential Campaign 1968

 

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Be Over Within Two Years – WHO (BBC)
Dr. Birx: November In-Person Voting As Easy As Going To Starbucks (JTN)
Where’s Tulsi? (RT)
This Year’s DNC Was 2016’s DNC on Steroids (Savage)
The Truth About The Post Office Controversy (Patel)
Catapulting Russian-Meddling Propaganda (Ray McGovern )
Fighting Russia Has Become An Existential Necessity For NATO – Lavrov (RT)
AG Barr Throws Cold Water On Possible Edward Snowden Pardon (ZH)
What A Nation Cut Off From The Rest Of The World Looks Like (Saxo)
Alan Rusbridger: Assange Case Is Worrying For All Journalists (PG)

 

 

Passing 800,000 deaths globally is a sad milestone again, but US new cases had their best week since the end of June, so that’s a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postmaster

 

 

Not sure every single person will see this as a reassuring message.

Amazing how little the man has to say who pretends to aid the entire world. When PPE corruption is one of your main talking points…

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Be Over Within Two Years – WHO (BBC)

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will be over in under two years. Speaking in Geneva on Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Spanish flu of 1918 took two years to overcome. But he added that current advances in technology could enable the world to halt the virus “in a shorter time”. “Of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading,” he said. “But at the same time, we have also the technology to stop it, and the knowledge to stop it,” he noted, stressing the importance of “national unity, global solidarity”.


The deadly flu of 1918 killed at least 50 million people. The coronavirus has so far killed almost 800,000 people and infected 22.7 million more. Dr Tedros also responded to a question about corruption relating to personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic, which he described as “criminal”. “Any type of corruption is unacceptable,” he answered. “However, corruption related to PPE… for me it’s actually murder. Because if health workers work without PPE, we’re risking their lives. And that also risks the lives of the people they serve.”

Read more …

Well she actually said “If you go into Starbucks in the middle of Texas and Alabama and Mississippi that have very high case rates..” But then, in states with lower case rates it should be even safer…

Dr. Birx: November In-Person Voting As Easy As Going To Starbucks (JTN)

The doctor coordinating the White House Coronavirus Task Force says she believes it will be safe for voters to go to the polls in November. “Well, I can tell you it has been safe for me to go to Starbucks and pick up my order,” Dr. Deborah Birx told Just The News in an interview when asked about in-person voting. Birx has been traveling the country by car and one of her practices is to visit as many Starbucks as she can in an attempt to gauge whether people are wearing masks and socially distancing. She said her coffee experiences in states that have higher than normal COVID-19 cases, has led her to a conclusion about voting. “If you go into Starbucks in the middle of Texas and Alabama and Mississippi that have very high case rates, then I can’t say that it would be different waiting in line in the polls,” Birx said.

Of course, she cautions that masks must be worn and social distancing must be adhered to. “I know there’s a way but you really do have to pay attention,” she added. Birx spoke Friday afternoon at the White House on a myriad of topics. While much of the discussion centered on vaccines and a potential timetable for a return to normal, she also revealed something personal: she’s been a victim of harassment and threats via technology. “I do get death threats, and I get text messages that are horrific,” she said. “I get stuff sent to my home where my daughters are that is shocking and their phones get shocking messages. All of that has been happening since March.”

In a way, Birx has a thankless job as she tries to navigate not just the reality of a deadly virus but the political realities as well. Most of the criticism has come from liberal Democrats who have criticized her for not doing enough to set the record straight on some of the president’s medical claims. Birx, who has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations for decades, said she will soldier on. “You just have to stay true to your own personal values,” she said. “I’ve never been asked to cross that line. I believe when people look back that they’ll find out that I personally never crossed that line.”

Read more …

The Tulsi treatment is the state of the DNC in a nutshell. Cancel culture at its finest, advertized as unity. And Bernie, AOC, Tulsi swallow it all.

Where’s Tulsi? (RT)

This week’s Democratic virtual gathering to nominate the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket for the November election was a triumph of party centrism over the progressive wing. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was given a whopping 90 seconds to nominate Bernie Sanders in a technical procedure, and no members of her ‘squad’ were given the stage. Instead, a parade of speakers from both parties told Americans that replacing Donald Trump with Biden was the single most important task at hand. One other party outsider was noticeably absent at the convention. Tulsi Gabbard, the representative for Hawaii, was snubbed despite remaining in the primary race right until Biden’s imminent victory and winning two delegates.

In those metrics, she performed better than VP nominee Harris herself. Yet Gabbard “was not invited to participate in any way”, she confirmed on Twitter. Frankly speaking, she would have been welcomed at the convention about as gladly as evil witch Maleficent at the birthday party of Sleeping Beauty. Once considered a rising political star and given the same duty to nominate Sanders in 2016 as AOC this year, Gabbard has become a pariah in her own party over the past two years. Apparently, the Democratic leadership would rather give a platform to someone who helped lie the country into the 2003 Iraq invasion than to a woman who calls for an end to forever wars, some commenters noted. During the campaign, Gabbard stepped on quite a few toes. Going after Harris’s prosecutorial record was arguably the moment the California senator’s bid for presidency went sideways.

Guest of honor Pete Buttigieg, described by Biden as the future of the party, would probably not appreciate her either. After all, after he brought up her infamous trip to Syria during a debate, Gabbard gave him a lecture on the importance of talking to your adversaries. [..] The redbait smearing of Gabbard began early in her campaign. In February 2019, NBC declared her a “Russian favorite” based on the opinion of New Knowledge, the shady firm best known for fabricating a ‘Russian influence campaign’ during the 2017 Senate special election in Alabama. In October, the same attack was launched from the very top of the party establishment, as Hillary Clinton claimed the Kremlin was “grooming” Gabbard to run as a third-party candidate.

Read more …

“As the country’s social fabric is torn apart by evictions, record unemployment, and mass death, they decided to hold a virtual prayer circle for Republican senator John McCain.”

This Year’s DNC Was 2016’s DNC on Steroids (Savage)

Save a few protests from frustrated Sanders delegates, the convention was a pristine spectacle of celebrity-driven, limousine liberalism at its most cartoonish and out of touch. No one expected a politician like Clinton to remake herself as a populist figure. But the four-day elite love-in — hosted, no less, at a convention center bearing the name of one of the world’s biggest banks — was so dripping with Ivy League pretension and Hollywood glam that it looked more like an awards show than a democratic appeal to the citizens of a republic. November was still three, potentially perilous months away, and — despite a year of unexpected populist insurgencies from both the Left and right — Democrats were already measuring the drapes for an indefinite future residency in the White House.

When November finally did come, their complacency would be punished with the single greatest political upset in modern history. In more ways than one, this year’s DNC evoked an ominous feeling of deja vu. True enough, the context is very different. This time, Donald Trump is the incumbent president and America is in the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Contra Clinton, the party’s nominee was merely the final centrist standing among what was this time a vast field of candidates rallying to neutralize Sanders — and, unlike its last standard-bearer, he was more the establishment’s measure of last resort than its first choice.

Notwithstanding these differences, the parallels between this week’s convention and the gilded spectacular of 2016 are difficult to overlook. Yet again, Democrats are headed into a consequential election with a Wall Street–friendly ticket raking in millions from financial concerns and doing its utmost to signal it has minimal interest in honoring key campaign pledges.

As in 2016, party leaders feel they can openly flaunt their contempt for a progressive left that has nowhere else to go while putting their chips on anti-Trump Republicans and conservative suburbanites (to that end, John Kasich and Colin Powell were featured prominently on the schedule while the Democrats’ brightest star got just over one minute).

With the state of the country inarguably worse than it was in 2016, this formula somehow looks even more out of touch than it did four years ago. During a moment of national reckoning with racism and police violence following the brutal murder of George Floyd, Democrats opted to give the architect of stop-and-frisk a prime-time speaking slot. As the country’s social fabric is torn apart by evictions, record unemployment, and mass death, they decided to hold a virtual prayer circle for Republican senator John McCain. Despite giving a speech that exceeded most expectations, their tribune is a candidate whose ability to win is privately doubted even by the people who proved most critical to his nomination.

Read more …

“With universal mail-in voting, the government would mail ballots to everyone, regardless of whether they request them.”

The Truth About The Post Office Controversy (Patel)

Do we really have to worry about the Postal Service? That’s the latest faux controversy to dominate our political debate. It’s a sign of our times that even the mail system isn’t without controversy. As usual, there’s plenty of blame to go around on how we got into this mess. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s reasonable to presume we need more absentee voting. Packing voters into overcrowded indoor polling places with long lines is not a good idea. Our government and politicians of all stripes have a duty to promote free and fair elections whether in person or absentee. That shouldn’t be a controversial idea. At the same time, there are legitimate concerns about universal mail-in voting.

Absentee voting is different. With absentee voting, a specific voter requests his or her specific ballot to vote by mail. That system has been used for years and — especially in the states doing it best — it works pretty well. Universal mail-in voting is different. With universal mail-in voting, the government would mail ballots to everyone, regardless of whether they request them. Some places even allow for “ballot harvesting,” where a third party can collect ballots for many people and file them in bulk. This system has not traditionally been used widely, and it raises legitimate concerns over voter fraud. A 2018 North Carolina congressional election was in fact overturned after a state probe found that a Republican operative illegally collected ballots with forged signatures and filled in votes.

The Postal Service controversy falls in the midst of the very legitimate debate. We should all be able to agree that to the extent mail-in voting is used — the absentee variety would be my preference — the Postal Service has to be able to handle its role to ensure a fair election in a reasonable time frame. The Postal Service — which is supposed to operate independently based on funding from the postal fees it charges — has been losing money for years. Due to email and other forms of communication, we send about 30% fewer letters each year than we did just a decade ago. To combat this, the Postal Service has been reducing its operating costs. That all makes sense. Now comes the controversy part. There are three drivers contributing to it. Two are self-inflected by the Republicans, and one — likely the biggest — is being driven pretty disingenuously by the Democrats.

First, it would have made sense to pause some Postal Service operating cuts as it became more and more clear after COVID-19 that we were going to rely more on the mail this election cycle than in any other. Taking mail sorting machines out of service and cutting back on mailboxes that are less used may not be the best moves when you know the mail will be crucial for a national election. A pause in operating cuts makes sense in case the equipment is needed for real, substantive reasons — to ensure a fair and timely election — and also to induce confidence among the American people that our sacred right to vote will not be abridged due to the pandemic. This is exactly the justification the Postal Service provided this week when they finally announced such a pause. It was, of course, too late to stem the controversy.

Second, as is the case with so many controversies of this era, President Donald Trump did not do himself any favors with his comments on the matter. Trump said he opposed more money for the Postal Service because without that money, “You can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.” The president is not wrong to question universal mail-in voting, but his statement that he was going to unilaterally in effect stop it through a holdup of postal funds only added fire to Democrats’ claims that he was against taking steps to have a fair election during the pandemic.

Read more …

Read of the day. Excellent. Where it all comes together.

Catapulting Russian-Meddling Propaganda (Ray McGovern )

The Best Defense… is a good offense, and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of its study — call it “Mueller (Enhanced)” — and the propaganda fanfare — come at a key point in the Russiagate/Spygate imbroglio. It also came, curiously, as the Democratic Convention was beginning, as if the Republican-controlled Senate was sending Trump a message. One chief worry, of course, derives from the uncertainty as to whether John Durham, the US Attorney investigating those FBI and other officials who launched the Trump-Russia investigation will let some heavy shoes drop before the election. Barr has said he expects “developments in Durham’s investigation hopefully before the end of the summer.”

FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith already has decided to plead guilty to the felony of falsifying evidence used to support a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveillance to spy on Trump associate Carter Page. It is abundantly clear that Clinesmith was just a small cog in the deep-state machine in action against candidate and then President Trump. And those running the machine are well known. The president has named names, and Barr has made no bones about his disdain for what he calls spying on the president. The cognoscenti and the big fish themselves may be guessing that Trump/Barr/Durham will not throw out heavier lines for former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for example.

But how can they be sure? What has become clear is that the certainty they all shared that Hillary Clinton would be the next president prompted them not only to take serious liberties with the Constitution and the law, but also to do so without taking rudimentary steps to hide their tracks. The incriminating evidence is there. And as Trump becomes more and more vulnerable and defensive about his ineptness — particularly with regard to Covid-19 — he may summon the courage to order Barr and Durham to hook the big fish, not just minnows like Clinesmith. The neuralgic reality is that no one knows at this point how far Trump will go. To say that this kind of uncertainty is unsettling to all concerned is to say the obvious.

So, the stakes are high — for the Democrats, as well — and, not least, the LSM. In these circumstances it would seem imperative not just to circle the wagons but to mount the best offense/defense possible, despite the fact that virtually all the ammunition (as in the Senate report) is familiar and stale (“enhanced” or not). Black eyes might well be in store for the very top former law enforcement and intelligence officials, the Democrats, and the LSM — and in the key pre-election period. So, the calculation: launch “Mueller Report (Enhanced)” and catapult the truth now with propaganda, before it is too late.

Read more …

NATO is not capable of fighting Russia. But it can wage a one-sided domestic disinformation war.

Fighting Russia Has Become An Existential Necessity For NATO – Lavrov (RT)

Confrontation with Russia has become the sole reason for NATO’s existence, and this encourages instability in Europe, creating artificial dividing lines on the continent. That’s according to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. The veteran diplomat told the Moscow daily Trud that everyone knows there are no real threats to security in Europe but that NATO needs to invent them in order to keep itself relevant. Lavrov also drew attention to the fact that Russia has repeatedly proposed measures to reduce tensions and reduce the risk of incidents on the continent. “Now, just like during the Cold War, fighting Russia on all fronts, including information and propaganda, has become the alliance’s reason for existence,” he explained.

“NATO has deployed extensive resources on the eastern flank, near our borders, including conducting exercises and improving military infrastructure.” “The alliance continues to expand its area of military and political influence, inviting all new countries under its ‘umbrella’ under the pretext of protecting them from Russia,” he added. Lavrov further explained that the alliance adheres to the line of “containment and dialogue” in relations with Russia, although “as a result, there is practically no place for a real and open dialogue on pressing problems.” In the same interview, the foreign minister accused Ukrainian authorities of not hiding their desire to use the conflict in the Donbass to preserve European Union sanctions pressure on Russia, by not fulfilling their obligations under the Minsk Agreements.

According to him, Kiev takes advantage of the fact that the EU continues to link the issue of improving relations between the bloc and Russia with the implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which Russia is not a party. “Alas, this artificial and short-sighted link persists to this day – to the great satisfaction of the Kiev authorities, which not only do not fulfill their obligations under the Minsk Package of Measures, but also make no secret of their desire to use the unresolved conflict to maintain sanctions pressure against Russia,” Lavrov said.

Read more …

If Barr continues to fiddle on the Durham report, Trump may do it anyway.

AG Barr Throws Cold Water On Possible Edward Snowden Pardon (ZH)

Once again President Trump’s anti-establishment and ‘anti-deep state’ instincts look like they’ll be promptly reigned in by those around him. He shocked leaders in Congress and within his own administration when one week ago he mused openly in a New York Post interview that maybe Edward Snowden should be pardoned. In follow-up he said at a press briefing last Saturday “There are many, many people – it seems to be a split decision that many people think that he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things.” And further that: “I’m going to take a very good look at it.” The president raised eyebrows and anxiety across the D.C. beltway with his unprecedented remarks.

“There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” he had initially told NY Post, before adding: “Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don’t know him, never met him. But many people are on his side.” This immediately raised hopes among those that hail the NSA leaker as a whistleblower who exposed deeply unconstitutional surveillance of the domestic populace that he might one day soon see freedom. But now Attorney General William Barr is throwing cold water on such a bold prospect, saying to the Associated Press on Friday that he’d be “vehemently opposed” to any initiative to pardon Snowden, who remains on the run from US authorities – but given asylum in Russia.

If he were to return to the United States he would face severe charges related to the Espionage Act and spilling of state secrets, which would certainly bring life imprisonment. “He was a traitor and the information he provided our adversaries greatly hurt the safety of the American people,” Barr said in the new comments. Interestingly, Trump’s own view as expressed years ago was that Snowden was a “traitor”. Barr’s latest comments frame Snowden’s actions as motivated by money and fame, and not of out of a sense of patriotism or concern for upholding the Constitution: “He was peddling it around like a commercial merchant. We can’t tolerate that,” Barr added firmly. Recall that last year the DOJ under Barr fought to ensure that Snowden wouldn’t see any money generated from US sales of his tell-all book Permanent Record.

Read more …

Japan has been quiet, it’s true.

What A Nation Cut Off From The Rest Of The World Looks Like (Saxo)

Earlier this morning, there has been a couple of Japanese data releases. Japanese consumer price inflation was unexciting with a rate at 0% YoY. While we see some relative price changes in many countries, the basic story for the moment is that inflation will remain low in most countries. In addition, Japan National Tourism Organization has published its latest data regarding the flow of foreign visitors in July. Basically, it shows what a nation cut off from the rest of the world looks like. The flow of foreign visitors in Japan published by Japan National Tourism Organization is out this morning. The country was supposed to welcome an unprecedented number of Olympic fans from all around the world just about now, but the pandemic has turned everything upside down.

Arrivals of foreign visitors plunge 99% YoY in July, at 3,800 individuals (slightly up compared to the previous month, when it stood at 2,600 individuals). For the sake of comparison, at the beginning of the year, the country recorded more than 2.6 million foreign visitors in a month’s time. Whilst the country expected to draw around 40 million visitors this year, the final number for 2020 might fall to 7-8 million at best, which would represent a drop of 80% compared to the target. Over the past years, the contribution of travel and tourism to GDP has significantly increased, to reach 7% in 2019, on the back of government’s incentives to promote foreign tourism via marketing push overseas and eased visa requirements.


The COVID-19 constitutes a serious setback for the government’s hopes for tourism and it is unlikely that the recent campaign to spur domestic tourism launched on July 22 will offset losses generated by the drop in the flow of foreign visitors. Considering the number of new COVID-19 cases has sharply increased since mid-July and that many countries at global level are facing the acute risk of second wave, the country is not expected to reopen to foreigners anytime soon and will probably postpone initial plans to let foreign students and businessmen return.

Read more …

Well, speak out then. A lot louder than this.

Alan Rusbridger: Assange Case Is Worrying For All Journalists (PG)

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has said the ongoing US extradition case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is “disturbing” and “has worrying implications for all journalists”. And he has said it is “surprising” that more don’t share his concerns. While Assange has garnered support from a range of campaigning groups for his plight, the response from journalists and the news industry in the UK has been relatively muted. Rusbridger was editor of the Guardian for 20 years, leaving in 2015. Under his editorship the paper worked with Wikileaks on the 2010 Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and, a few years later, the Snowden Files. [..] Any charges against Assange relating to journalistic activity, such as the publishing of material in the public interest, “should be dropped”, Rusbridger told Press Gazette.

[..] Rusbridger said that while Assange had done things he can’t defend, and which “stray beyond the conventional definition of journalism”, the Australian is not “all good or all bad”. “When you stand back and say, well, whatever we think of Assange, what he is being targeted for is the same or similar as many journalists have done, then it’s surprising to me that more people can’t see that this case has worrying implications for all journalists” Rusbridger said the precedent set by the UK of allowing someone to be extradited for prosecution under another country’s official secrets laws could ultimately be used by regimes to target British journalists who report on sensitive information about foreign powers. “It’s quite a disturbing thing that we should send somebody to another country for supposedly breaking their laws on secrecy. If journalists are not concerned by that, then I think they should be,” he said.

“The danger here is that if everyone sort of shrugs and leaves Assange to his fate and this sets some kind of judicial precedent, then the next time… a journalist on the Sunday Times writes about a secret Israeli weapons system, as has happened in the past, the Israelis say ‘well actually that breaches our Official Secrets Act, under the Assange precedent we now ask for this person to be returned to our country so we can prosecute them’. “You could see how what seems like a sort of tangential case involving somebody that I know lots of journalists don’t really regard as a proper journalist suddenly becomes something that has set a very alarming precedent.”

On the question of whether Assange is a journalist, Rusbridger said he was “one of these complicated figures that we’ve never had to deal with before the 21st Century” and had “many identities”. He said Assange clearly did “some things that are journalistic”, pointing in particular to the Collateral Murder video that showed a US air attack in Iraq that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters media workers. “Any newspaper would have been thrilled to run that story,” said Rusbridger. “It was a really, truly shocking story in the public interest. “So that was clearly journalism, but [Assange is] also an activist, he’s a publisher, he’s a kind of impresario, he is a whistleblower, he’s a kind of information anarchist, and so that that makes him very difficult to categorise or to work out what our attitude to him is.

Read more …

 

 

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

Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 202020
 


Pierre-Auguste Renoir The Return of the Boating Party 1862

 

Clinesmith Pleads Guilty In First Criminal Case Arising From Durham Probe (Fox)
Clinesmith Gets The Wolfe Plea Deal… (CT)
You Would Never Get The Deal That Clinesmith Got (SAC)
Operation Legend: Over 200 Charged With Federal Crimes, 1,000 Arrested (Fox)
Judge Orders New Election In New Jersey Race Cited For Mail-In Fraud (Hill)
Iraq War Cheerleaders Front & Center At Last Night’s DNC AC)
You Don’t Have To Be Excited (Sirota)
History Is On Edward Snowden’s Side (Hill)
New Zealand Lockdown Unlawful For First Nine Days, High Court Finds (NZH)
Gold Pressures Empire (Brown)
Germany Launches Universal Basic Income Experiment (ZH)
Brilliant Trump Puts Himself On All Postage Stamps (Babylon Bee)
Biden: ‘I Don’t Have Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Or Alzheimer’s’ (Babylon Bee)

 

 

US new cases now remain consistently lower than they’ve been since the last week of June. Surely a positive sign.

But the global trend looks very different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grenell LBGT issues

 

 

There’s a feeling that people in the DOJ conspire with the FBI to single out Clinesmith, paint him as a lone wolf, and leave his superiors, which also include Mueller and Weissmann, alone.

That constitutes an enormous risk for the credibility of the DOJ, the FBI, and the entire US judicial system. For better or for worse, the right will simply not accept it.

Clinesmith Pleads Guilty In First Criminal Case Arising From Durham Probe (Fox)

Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to making a false statement in the first criminal case arising from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s review of the investigation into links between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia James Boasberg accepted the plea. Clinesmith’s sentencing date has been set for Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. ET. Durham’s office on Wednesday said that Clinesmith’s guilty plea was to “one count of making a false statement within both the jurisdiction of the executive branch and judicial branch of the U.S. government, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.”

Clinesmith was referred for potential prosecution by the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office, which conducted its own review of the Russia investigation. The inspector general accused Clinesmith, though not by name, of altering an email about former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to say that he was “not a source” for another government agency. Page has said he was a source for the CIA. The Justice Department relied on Clinesmith’s assertion as it submitted a third and final renewal application in 2017 to eavesdrop on Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

During the plea hearing, Boasberg asked Clinesmith to affirm that he “intentionally altered an email, and added language” that “individual number one” was “not a source…and you knew that statement was in fact not true.” Clinesmith replied, “At the time I thought the information I was providing was accurate, but I am agreeing the information I inserted was not originally there, and I inserted the information.” Boasberg went on to ask: “You intentionally altered the email to insert information that was not originally in the email?” “Yes, your honor,” replied Clinesmith.

Read more …

Looks like he got a sweetheart plea deal without giving up anything for it.

Clinesmith Gets The Wolfe Plea Deal… (CT)

As noted in the DOJ press release: “Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, 38, pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a false statement offense stemming from his altering of an email in connection with the submission of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) application.” Despite the falsification of court documents within a FISA document; and despite the likelihood of an intentional conspiracy to commit fraud upon the court in order to obtain a Title-1 surveillance warrant against the Trump campaign – via Carter Page; the DOJ entered into a plea agreement on a single count of lying to federal officers. The agreement holds a maximum penalty of zero to six months in federal prison and a $250k fine.

This is the same plea agreement the DOJ (DC U.S. Attorney) previously gave to the Senate Intelligence Committee Security Director James Wolfe, who leaked the SAME, earlier, top-secret classified FISA application to the media on March 17, 2017. Judge James Boasberg noted early in the phone hearing that he is “currently the presiding judge for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” but that “this case, however, is a criminal case, it is not a FISC case, and it is a case that was randomly assigned.” As anticipated Boasberg said the FISA court could be seen as a “victim” in the case, but also said he would preside over the case fairly without recusing himself. He stated if either the defense or prosecution wanted him to recuse, then he would. Neither party requested.

Judge Boasberg noted the maximum penalty for a single false statements charge was five years in prison but the sentencing guideline calls for zero to six months. Sentencing is scheduled for December 10, 2020, after the election, at 11am. [..] From the nature of the plea, and the defense arguments in court and public, it is obvious there is no arrangement for Clinesmith’s assistance or cooperation on other investigative matters. This does not bode well for the proper administration of justice….

Read more …

How dumb is Clinesmith?

You Would Never Get The Deal That Clinesmith Got (SAC)

Judge James E. Boasberg of the federal district court in Washington, D.C.who oversees the case reminded Clinesmith that he had the right to a trial by jury, which Clinesmith declined. Boasberg accepted his guilty plea Wednesday and scheduled a Dec. 10, sentencing hearing. Clinesmith’s lawyers reiterated that their client deeply regretted his actions which were not intentional but none-the-less were in violation of the law. What? Let’s talk about what Clinesmith did and think about what would happen to you if you lied on a document like a FISA warrant? Wait, look at what happened to Trump friend and advisor Roger Stone who was accused of lying to Congress (by the way, former CIA director John Brennan, former DNI James Clapper and a litany of others blatantly lied to Congress and are now selling books on Amazon).

Clinesmith didn’t just tell a small lie, he specifically omitted information that allowed the FBI to spy on a presidential campaign for political reasons. He had worked at the FBI for four years and was a subordinate that was made the fall guy by FBI leadership. He altered an email he received from the CIA in 2017 that showed Page was in no way a Russian asset and that he was an asset for the CIA. The Judges at the FISC court approved the application to wiretap Page, according to court records and numerous investigations. He altered an official government email indicating that Page wasn’t “a source” for the CIA, when it originally said he was. WOW! Folks, that is no small crime.

More than 100 participants listened in to the court ‘plea agreement hearing’ Wednesday and listened as Clinesmith waived his right to a trial by jury. He is expected to get only six months or less for altering the FISA application, which is considered one of the most classified documents pertaining to national security and its contents must be validated thoroughly by the FBI before being submitted to the court. “Mr. Clinesmith you understand we’ve already talked about your jury rights,” said Boasberg. He then said do you understand your decision to waive your rights to a jury?” “Yes, your honor,” said Clinesmith.

What about all those above Clinesmith, who absolutely ordered him to operate the way he did and who tacitly approved his omission in the FISA application. Clinesmith is nothing more than the fall guy. He’ll serve a short sentence for a massive crime against our nation and duly elected president.

Obamagate

Read more …

Peaceful protesters one and all.

Operation Legend: Over 200 Charged With Federal Crimes, 1,000 Arrested (Fox)

At least 217 people have been charged with a federal crime, and more than 1,000 arrests have been made in major metropolitan cities since the Department of Justice launched Operation Legend in July, U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced on Wednesday. Nearly 400 firearms have been seized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Barr launched Operation Legend on July 8 as “a sustained, systematic and coordinated law enforcement initiative in which federal law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight violent crime,” the DOJ said in a release.

It was named in honor of 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept in the early morning of June 29 in Kansas City, Mo. Last week, a Jackson County prosecutor announced second-degree murder charges against his suspected killer, 22-year-old Ryson Ellis, who was being held in Tulsa County Jail. “LeGend is a symbol of the many hundreds of innocent lives that have been taken in the recent upsurge of crime in many of our urban areas,” Barr said at a press conference in Kansas City. “His life mattered and the lives of all of those victims matter. His name should be remembered and his senseless death, like those of all the other innocent victims in this recent surge, should be unacceptable to all Americans.”

Barr said the federal government has dispatched to nine U.S. cities more than 1,000 additional agents from the FBI, ATF, Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Marshals Service to work shoulder to shoulder with state and local partners on homicide and assault squads to crack cases. The government has also allocated $78.5 million in grants to support additional police positions, hire more prosecutors and improve technology to solve firearms crimes. “We saw one result of those efforts last week when Kansas City Police arrested the suspected murderer of LeGend,” Barr said. “This arrest will not bring LeGend back but it will make his case an example of how we can come together to take violent criminals off the street and to make our communities safer.”

Read more …

Election result in August 2021?

Judge Orders New Election In New Jersey Race Cited For Mail-In Fraud (Hill)

A New Jersey judge on Wednesday ordered a new election for a Paterson City Council seat whose apparent winner has been charged with voter fraud. State Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela ruled Wednesday that the new election will be held in November, The Associated Press reported. Alex Mendez appeared to have won the May 12 special election, but the U.S. Postal Service’s law enforcement branch said hundreds of mail-in ballots had been found in a Paterson mailbox. The Passaic County Board of Elections ultimately discounted 800 ballots. In June, Mendez and Paterson Council Vice President Michael Jackson were charged with voter fraud.


Officials also charged two other men, Abu Rayzen of Prospect Park and Shelim Khalique of Wayne, according to the AP. Lawyers for Councilman William McKoy, Mendez’s opponent, secured an injunction against Mendez being sworn in. All four defendants have denied the charges. President Trump has seized on the case, saying allowing nationwide mail-in voting in the fall election will lead to a similar scenario. In June, he cited the case, saying that comparatively, “Absentee Ballots are fine,” although many states make no such distinction between absentee and mail-in voting. The president’s reelection campaign on Tuesday sued the state in an attempt to stop plans to conduct the election predominantly by mail.

Read more …

The virtual war party. Why AOC was snubbed: a giant move to the right is how the Dems see themselves win. They feel they have BLM and #MeToo in their pocket, so now they can leave them behind.

Iraq War Cheerleaders Front & Center At Last Night’s DNC AC)

Democrats want to woo disaffected Republican and independent voters. But the degree to which the DNC convention prime time speaking slots favored defecting Republican neocons like Cindy McCain, John Kasich and Colin Powell over upstart fresh-faced Democrats like Julián Castro, Rep. Pramila Jayapal or Rep. Ayanna Pressley, was jarring; unabashed support for the Iraq War seemed to be the main thread that connects these erstwhile Republicans with Democrat speakers like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. On the first night, in a speech recorded at a literal crossroads in Westerville, Ohio, former Ohio governor John Kasich, said, “I’m a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country. That’s why I’ve chosen to appear at this convention. In normal times, something like this would probably never happen. But these are not normal times.”

Kasich was followed by former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R-N.J.), former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.) and former Hewlett-Packard and eBay CEO and failed Republican gubernatorial candidate, Meg Whitman. Ostensibly, the purpose of this procession of former Republicans was to solidify Biden’s ranking with independent voters on the fence, but activists on the left were quick to notice the snub given their own compatriots’ positions. “The party should be focused on energizing Democratic voters rather than using their convention to reassure billionaires, corporate donors and Republican lobbyists that they won’t actually try to challenge the status quo,” said David Sirota, a former speechwriter for Senator Bernie Sanders and editor of Jacobin magazine.

While the left’s rising star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was given just a minute to speak, wherein she endorsed Bernie Sanders, Iraq War supporters and cheerleaders were prominently featured: failed Democratic presidential candidate and Obama’s former Secretary of State John Kerry unabashedly intoned that Joe Biden “knows you can’t spread democracy around the world, if you don’t practice it at home.” Gen. Colin Powell, chiefly remembered for his 2003 speech to the United Nations packed with lies about WMDs to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq, said Biden would “restore… values to the White House.” Sen. John McCain’s widow Cindy McCain also endorsed the long-time Delaware Senator, while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will endorse him Wednesday night.

Read more …

Sirota is sticking out his neck, and it won’t be appreciated that he tears into his own party, but he’s also still stuck in “but Trump is so much worse” mode.

You Don’t Have To Be Excited (Sirota)

I’m wondering because this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. I’m told I should be bouncing up in the morning, uplifted by the Democratic convention and its promise of a new era soon — 75 days. But at least for me, watching the cable TV snippets, the convention speeches and the celebratory Twitter dunks has left me with that feeling you get after eating junk food — full, but not nourished, bloated, tired and vaguely nauseous. I’ve worked on a lot of Democratic campaigns, wins and losses. I’m literally married to a Democratic elected official. Over 20 years, I’ve put in an almost embarrassing amount of time working to support the Democratic Party.

So these feelings are somewhat new for me, and I don’t think I’m having them just because Democratic officials decided to turn this year’s convention into a promotional platform for Republican icons who attacked unions, laid off thousands of workers, promoted climate denial, endangered 9/11 survivors and lied us into a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people. I’m also not glum just because the Democrats’ presidential standard-bearer is often an uninspiring mishmash of incoherent here’s-the-deal colloquialisms that mean nothing. I think the despair is deeper — and has something to do with the now-yawning gap between social expectation and reality.

Right now, if you are following politics at all, you are asked to feel chipper and energized. We are expected — no, required — to conjure 2008-level enthusiasm during this even darker time than the financial crisis, all so that we can move into a new, glorious moment of Hope™. Enthusiasm, though, comes from the assumption that the process is authentic and that what we’re told by our leaders is real. But that feeling has waned, because there is no pretense. For all the high-minded rhetoric, everyone on all sides of this situation — and I mean literally everyone — knows that Democratic politics today is more about brand and pantomime than about power and legislative action. You may not say it out loud, you may not like thinking about it — but I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, because somewhere deep down in there, everyone senses the fraudulence at hand.

Minds are wiped and Iraq War architects become Resistance heroes and Democratic convention speakers. Memories are scrubbed and Wall Street thieves become Democratic economic gurus and treasury secretaries. Amnesia takes hold and the Democratic governor of Mount Covid becomes a pandemic mancrush. Democrats lose a presidential campaign to Donald Trump by defending the Washington establishment — and now four years later they are running the same Washington valor campaign again, telling themselves they’re too legit to quit, baby.

Read more …

If someone can explain the logic to me of pardoning Snowden but not Assange, I’m game.

History Is On Edward Snowden’s Side (Hill)

It is an addictive tendency in politics to feel a sense of history about what it is one is fighting for. Everyone wants to believe that their heroes from ages past are smiling down on them while simultaneously rolling in their graves at the sight of whatever the opposition is doing. But the fact of the matter is that the vast network of scandal-ridden government agencies, clandestine secret courts, and diabolically unconstitutional statutes trying to destroy Snowden hails from a particularly dark, shameful chapter of America’s past. Snowden stands accused of violating the Espionage Act of 1917, championed by then-President Woodrow Wilson. Passed just two months after America’s entrance into World War I, the law sought to silence criticism of the war effort and crush dissent within the ranks of the armed forces.

In his State of the Union address just two years earlier, Wilson begged Congress to pass it, declaring, “Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out… they are infinitely malignant, and the hand of our power should close over them at once.” Now the law has withstood over a century of criticism and legal challenges from civil liberties advocates, and the misery it has inflicted on countless Americans has proven painfully obvious. In 1918, antiwar activist Charles Schenck was arrested for distributing flyers encouraging men to resist the draft. That same year, socialist Eugene V. Debs was sentenced to ten years in prison, deprived of his citizenship, and disenfranchised for life over nothing more than a speech he made criticizing the war. In January 1919, however, the Supreme Court dealt a devastating blow to freedom of speech by concluding that neither’s arrest constituted a violation of the First Amendment.

And these are far from the only people to have been victimized by the very law being used to terrorize Snowden today. A search for just a few of the more well-known cases will yield the stories of journalist Victor L. Berger, activists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, former U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning, and former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) employee Henry Kyle Frese. Discussing recent events in an April 2020 interview with journalist and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald, Snowden warned, “Now, the only thing we have left — our rights, our ideals, our values as people — that’s what they’re coming for now, that’s what they’re asking us to give up, that’s what they’re wanting to change. And remember that, from the perspective of a free society, a virus is a serious problem… but the destruction of our rights is fatal — that’s permanent.”

Read more …

Unlawful but the right thing to do. Yeah, you’re really helping.

New Zealand Lockdown Unlawful For First Nine Days, High Court Finds (NZH)

The first nine days of lockdown were unlawful, a High Court decision says. New Zealanders were not actually required by law to stay at home in their bubbles until April 3, more than a week into lockdown, today’s ruling has found. “Even as this country returns to a state of semi-lockdown, there is one thing on which most commentators are agreed. The decisions taken by the New Zealand Government in March this year to “go hard and go early” were the right ones,” said the High Court decision, released this afternoon. “Even in times of emergency, however, and even when the merits of the Government response are not widely contested, the rule of law matters.” That was why Wellington lawyer Andrew Borrowdale sought a judicial review of the lockdown decision, asking for declarations of illegality in relation to three aspects of the Government’s initial Covid-19 response.

Read more …

People like to blame the rise of gold on the demise of the dollar. But is it really the weakest horse in the glue factory?

Gold Pressures Empire (Brown)

Before COVID and since the repo crisis of 2019 the stability and safety of the US financial system has increasingly come into focus. The US financial system has been forced to lower real interest rates to real negative territory, causing gold to look more attractive than holding increasingly worthless US dollars, since gold has intrinsic value when the US dollar has none. Instead of a classic store for inflationary dollars, the new demand for settlement in real bullion threatens the existence of the US gold exchange (COMEX) and threatens serious financial loss for the largest global players, including HSBC, JP Morgan, and UBS. Even Goldman Sachs has warned of this threat.

So… what has changed? It appears that some new element is at work. As explored in a prior article, the US regime’s new cold war versus China has caused that country to re-assess its relationship to US assets. China began divesting itself of US debt instruments in 2019. And, seldom reported in the west, China has recently escalated its effort to divest itself of US public debt (Treasury) holdings in 2020. In tandem with improved convertibility of the yuan (CNY) intel sources indicate that China may be the second largest holder of gold globally. Likewise, China may be using gold as a medium of exchange to avoid the aforesaid weaponization of the US dollar so favored by the current US regime. Even so, the foregoing does not fully explain the events we are seeing.

Traditionally the Federal Reserve and their dealers have controlled gold to limit central bank losses and prevent gold from effectively competing with or displacing the US dollar as a primary trusted monetary medium. But someone or some entity somewhere is now battling the US central bank for that control. Bottom line, monetary realists as observers still don’t understand why the historic central bank market manipulation of gold is presently failing. The US Central Bank must suppress the price of gold or face catastrophic losses that will cause an escalating downward spiral in the standing of the US dollar. [..] Regardless, argue, ignore, or deny it… the golden rule, “He who hath the gold rules” is as true now as it has ever been. The problem arises when that being of real value is supplanted by illusion. And it is only the illusion we have seen since August, 15th, 1971.

Read more …

One “experiment” with a group of 120 people, the other with 668. The term “universal” is apparently very hard to understand. But it’s in UBI for a reason.

Germany Launches Universal Basic Income Experiment (ZH)

Germany is about to try their hand at a universal basic income (UBI), after 1,500 people signed up for a three-year study to observe the effects on the economy and the wellbeing of the recipients, according to Business Insider. Of those who signed up, 120 individuals will receive the equivalent of US$1,430 per month for three years – just above Germany’s poverty line. Their lives will be compared to the remaining 1,380 people who will not receive the payments. The participants will be asked to complete questionnaires about their lives – including their emotional state and their work status, to see if UBI has had a meaningful impact.

Of course, as we and others have noted over and over and over, UBI experiments typically end in disaster. That said, it really helps if you’ve got a giant printing press and happen to be the world’s reserve currency during a pandemic (and for how long?). The study will also seek to determine whether UBI is a disincentive to work, or whether people will continue to ‘do fulfilling work, become more creative and charitable, and save democracy,’ according to the study’s lead investigator, Jürgen Schupp. Germany’s experiment has been funded by 140,000 private donations, and is being conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research.

“Universal basic income is the idea that a government should pay a lump sum of money to each of its citizens, usually once a month, regardless of their income and employment status, effectively replacing means-tested benefits. Its proponents argue that it would reduce inequality and also improve public wellbeing by providing people with more financial security. Its opponents say it would be too expensive and discourage people from going to work. The idea has gained traction in recent years amid recent financial crises and growing inequality in some Western countries.” -Business Insider

“A pro-basic income lobby group called Mein Grundeinkommen is funding the experiment. The group has used donations from its supporters to fund monthly €1,000 ($1,194) payments of for 668 people since 2014. Finland experimented its with own form of Universal Basic Income for nearly two years between January 2017 and December 2018 but concluded that while it led to people out of work feeling happier, it did not lead to increased employment, the BBC reported. During the experiment, 2,000 unemployed Finns received €560 ($667) a month.” -Business Insider

Read more …

“..forcing the Democrats to reverse course and abolish the USPS once and for all.”

Brilliant Trump Puts Himself On All Postage Stamps (Babylon Bee)

..Forcing Democrats To Push For Abolishing USPS


Sources are reporting that Trump has dealt a killer blow in his ongoing war against his sworn enemy, the U.S. Post Office. In a move of sheer, mind-blowing brilliance, Trump directed the Post Office to put his face on every single stamp, forcing the Democrats to reverse course and abolish the institution once and for all. The new stamp, dubbed “The Trump-Stamp,” to be used on all pieces of mail features a smiling Donald Trump, with the caption “GREATEST PRESIDENT EVER.” Don Lemon broke the news in a tearful address to the nation last night. “Our democracy is over,” he said. “It doesn’t exist anymore. I will never send another piece of mail ever again, and neither should you or else you’re a racist.” Antifa and BLM responded by marching on local post offices and burning them down. Enthusiastic Trump supporters quickly bought up all the stamps. They are now selling for $3,000 apiece online.

Read more …

“Oh, and he also cleared me of Alzheimer’s.”

Biden: ‘I Don’t Have Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Or Alzheimer’s’ (Babylon Bee)

In a recent live stream, Joe Biden proudly declared that his physician had cleared him of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. “My doc says I don’t have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or Alzheimer’s,” he said confidently. “Oh, and he also cleared me of Alzheimer’s.” Aides could be heard scrambling around to try to cut the video feed. “Yep — completely clear of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s,” he said. “Wait – who are you people? What are all these cameras doing here? Who am I? WHO AM I!?!?!” At the end of the video, after aides finally calmed him down but before they were able to cut the feed, Biden added, “My doc says I don’t have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or Alzheimer’s.” The Press quickly praised the speech as one of Biden’s most coherent.

Read more …

 

 

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

Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

 

Video Carl Jung

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 152020
 


Henri Cartier Bresson Boucher, Les Halles de Paris 1952

 

Former FBI Lawyer To Plead Guilty In Durham’s Trump-Russia Probe (ZH)
In Bringing First Russiagate Charge, Durham Hints At Other Crimes (JTN)
Bill Gates Says Hydroxychloroquine Has ‘Severe Side Effects’ (JTN)
Joe Biden Calls For Nationwide Facemask Mandate (KABC)
The President Was Not Encouraging: What Obama Really Thought About Biden (Pol.)
Appeals Court Spares Hillary Clinton From Deposition In Email Scandal (JTN)
Yes, Kamala Harris Is Eligible For Vice President (Turley)
UPS, FedEx Reject Calls To Handle Mail-In Ballots: Significant Problems (Hill)
California Judge Sides With Church, Allows Indoor Services (WT)
Warren Buffett Sheds Big Stakes In Banks And Goes For The Gold (Fox)
Trump: ‘A Lot Of People’ Think Edward Snowden ‘Not Being Treated Fairly’ (NYP)
Chaos In Assange Case Management Hearing (DEAssange)

 

 

As for US politics, I already wrote the core of it for a few articles below.

The “Russia Investigation Investigation”. Yes, it’s come to this.

Briefing for a descent into complete chaos post-Nov 4.

Doris Lessing’s original book title is “Briefing for a Descent into Hell”. Could use that one too. Take your pick.

 

 

Well, there’s one bright spot, perhaps: US new deaths are getting lower. And now it’s weekend again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Russia Investigation Investigation”. Yes, it’s come to this.

The MSM has also picked it up, trying to claim Clinesmith was some kind of lone cowboy.

Former FBI Lawyer To Plead Guilty In Durham’s Trump-Russia Probe (ZH)

Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith will plead guilty to one count of making a false statement regarding his involvement in the agency’s actions against the Trump campaign during the 2016 US election, according to the Associated Press. In November, the New York Times revealed that Clinesmith was under criminal investigation for allegedly doctoring materials used to obtain renewals of the Carter Page surveillance warrant. Clinesmith -who worked on both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the Russia probe, was part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, and interviewed Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos.

Clinesmith, a 37-year-old graduate of Georgetown Law, “took an email from an official at another federal agency that contained several factual assertions, then added material to the bottom that looked like another assertion from the email’s author, when it was instead his own understanding,” according to the report. “Mr. Clinesmith included this altered email in a package that he compiled for another F.B.I. official to read in preparation for signing an affidavit that would be submitted to the court attesting to the facts and analysis in the wiretap application. The details of the email are apparently classified and may not be made public even when the report is unveiled.” -New York Times

Clinesmith was identified by Inspector General Michael Horowitz as one of several FBI officials who harbored animus towards President Trump, after which he was kicked off the Mueller Russia investigation in February 2018. Two other FBI officials removed for similar reasons were Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, both of whom also worked on the Clinton and Trump investigations, and both of whom have similarly left the bureau. On November 9, 2016 – the day after Trump won the election, Clinesmith texted another FBI employee “My god damned name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff,” adding “So, who knows if that breaks to him what he is going to do.”

A former attorney with the FBI’s National Security and Cyber Law Branch while working under FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker, Clinesmith resigned in September 2019 after he was interviewed by Horrowitz’s office. Horrowitz in turn sent a criminal referral to US Attorney John Durham, who was tasked with investigating the Obama DOJ’s conduct surrounding the 2016 US election. Durham was appointed by Barr last May to examine the FBI’s actions against the Trump campaign during and after the 2016 US election, code named “Crossfire Hurricane.” Specifically, Durham has been probing whether Obama administration officials illegally collected intelligence on the Trump campaign, and whether the agency’s surveillance of campaign aides was free of improper motive.

“They spied on my campaign, which is treason. They spied both before and after I won. Think of that. Using the intelligence apparatus of the United States to take down a president,” Trump said recently during a live phone interview with Fox Business, adding “It’s the single biggest political crime in the history of our country.”

Read more …

They all knew Page was a CIA asset since August 2016 at the latest, but failed to tell the FISA court, because none of the warrants would have been approved. How obvious do we have to make it?

In Bringing First Russiagate Charge, Durham Hints At Other Crimes (JTN)

Spygate, once derided by media and political elites as a fringe conspiracy theory, is now fact thanks to a court filing that confirms an ex-FBI lawyer who disliked President Trump falsified evidence that was used to keep surveillance against Trump associates going. U.S. Attorney John Durham filed the felony charge Friday against Kevin Clinesmith, and the ex-FBI assistant general counsel is expected to plead guilty soon and cooperate with the ongoing investigation of the Russia investigators. That alone is significant, since Clinesmith was witness to other controversial moments in the failed Trump-Russia collusion probe, including an operation to spy on the future president during a counterintelligence briefing in summer 2016.

But within the four-plus page criminal information filed in U.S. District Court, Durham also laid out evidence of an additional crime that could be prosecuted in the coming weeks. The court filing notes that Clinesmith “willfully and knowingly” altered a document in June 2017 to falsely claim that Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — one of the main targets of the Russia collusion probe and identified in the court document as “Individual #1” — was not a source for the CIA, identified in the court documents as “Other Government Agency” or “OGA.” In reality, Page was a CIA asset. The filing says Clinesmith’s misdeed caused the FBI to mislead the Justice Department and the FISA court when filing an application for the last of four surveillance warrants that targeted Page for over a year.

But Durham also reveals in the filing that the FBI Crossfire Hurricane team — led by since-fired Agent Peter Strzok — had already been told of Page’s relationship with the CIA all the way back in August 2016 and failed to tell the FISA court that essential information about Page before the three prior FISA warrants were approved. Such a failure is known as a material omission because the FBI was claiming they believed Page was an agent of Russia when in fact he was an asset of the U.S. government helping to inform on Russian intelligence targets. In other words, had the FBI not omitted the truth, the judges would have known before they approved even the first FISA warrant that Page was a CIA-handled source, not a Russian stooge.

Here’s how Durham worded the account: “On Aug 17, 2016, prior to the approval of FISA #1, the OGA (CIA) provided certain members of the Crossfire Hurricane team a memorandum indicating that Individual #1 (Page) had been approved as an operational contact for the OGA (CIA) from 2008 to 2013 and detailing information that Individual #1 (Page) had provided to the OGA (CIA) concerning Individual #1’s prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers. The first three FISA applications did not include Individual #1’s history or status with the OGA (CIA).” Several experts said Durham’s inclusion of the earlier notification signals he has concerns others may also have been involved in deceiving the court.

“It’s more than an oversight. Whether the omission was purposeful or not, it is a fraud on the court,” said Kevin Brock, the FBI’s former assistant director for intelligence and the man who created many of the procedures the bureau still uses to investigate intelligence threats. “At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, I think it is clear that Durham is positioning a deeper dive into this issue of FISA application abuse,” Brock added. [..] In one instance the day after Trump won, Clinesmith texted this anti-Trump, anti-Mike Pence screed: “The crazies won finally. This is the tea party on steroids. And the GOP is going to be lost, they have to deal with an incumbent in 4 years. We have to fight this again. Also Pence is stupid,” he wrote in a text quoted by the inspector general.

Read more …

Why would anyone care what he thinks?

Bill Gates Says Hydroxychloroquine Has ‘Severe Side Effects’ (JTN)

Bill Gates this week added more flame to the fire in the ongoing debate over the usage of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, claiming that using the drug to treat the coronavirus carries with it the risk of “severe side effects” and arguing that medical officials should instead pursue the numerous “good therapeutic drugs” currently in development. Yet there is at present little evidence that “severe side effects” are common in COVID-19 patients who take hydroxychloroquine, with the majority of reported adverse events being relatively mild and only a small fraction of reported effects so far being dangerous and/or fatal.

The drug, which has been used for years to treat malaria and other conditions like lupus, has been at the center of a medical and political firestorm since March when President Trump touted the medicine as a possible effective treatment for coronavirus. Numerous medical officials have claimed that it offers no benefit to COVID-19 patients, while others have insisted that it is highly effective when used in certain circumstances, specifically on high-risk patients early in the course of the disease. Asked by Bloomberg magazine about the controversy on Thursday, Gates—who has been at the forefront of funding and advocacy efforts to find both a cure and a vaccine for COVID-19—said that though we live “in age of science … sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.”

“In the test tube, hydroxychloroquine looked good,” he said. “On the other hand, there are lots of good therapeutic drugs coming that are proven to work without the severe side effects.” Numerous studies across the world over the past several months have produced mixed results on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19, with some showing marked benefits and others indicating that it does not help patients recover from the disease. Yet regardless of study outcomes, severe adverse health events associated with the drug appear to be comparatively rare. One randomized trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month stated that, while the study’s treatment with hydroxychloroquine “did not prevent illness compatible with Covid-19 or confirmed infection,” there were nevertheless “no serious intervention-related adverse reactions or cardiac arrhythmias” reported by study participants.

Read more …

Biden’s handlers know that many Trump supporters are against masks, so they make him call for masks everywhere in order to create conflict.

Joe Biden Calls For Nationwide Facemask Mandate (KABC)

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is calling for a nationwide mask mandate. After getting a briefing from some healthcare professionals in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said all Americans should be wearing facemasks outside their homes for the next three months. He did not give any details on enforcement, legality or science. The former VP stressed – without citing any evidence–that it will save up to 40-thousand lives. Biden said it’s not an issue of personal rights. He insisted that it’s about personal responsibility and patriotic duty. Biden’s new running mate Kamala Harris said — “That’s what real leadership looks like.” They spoke for a total of about 8 minutes and refused to take questions.

Read more …

Power games amongst so-called friends. Meanwhile, Hillary apparently said she might “serve” in a Biden cabinet.

The President Was Not Encouraging: What Obama Really Thought About Biden (Pol.)

Biden’s own academic career was unimpressive—he repeated the third grade, earned all Cs and Ds in his first three semesters at the University of Delaware except for As in P.E., a B in “Great English Writers” and an F in ROTC, and graduated 76th in his Syracuse Law School class of ’85. He’s the first Democratic nominee since Walter Mondale in 1984 not to have an Ivy League degree. He was not a binder person, Clinton and Obama aides said. Biden admitted as much in his 2007 memoir Promises to Keep, writing “It’s important to read reports and listen to the experts; more important is being able to read people in power.” Biden’s tendency to blurt out whatever was on his mind rankled Obama, who wasn’t afraid to needle him for it.

In his first press conference in 2009, the young president quipped “I don’t remember exactly what Joe was referring to—not surprisingly,” when asked about Biden’s assessment that there was a 30 percent chance they could get the economic stimulus package wrong. The gaffes were only one side of the story, though. Obama warmed both to Biden’s effusive personality and his skill in implementing the administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package, which the president had delegated to him. Aides recall that Obama and Biden took almost polar-opposite approaches to policymaking, Obama always seeking data for the most logical or efficient outcome, while Biden told stories about how a bill would affect the working-class guy in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he was born.

[..] Panetta, who had known Clinton from his days as her husband’s White House chief of staff, recalled that “Both she and her staff worked at that a great deal in trying to build that support.” Among Obama and his aides, Panetta said, “I think there was a certain attraction to someone that would certainly break ceilings and kind of create the same kind of precedent that he created when he became president … as opposed to supporting somebody who’s kind of your more traditional politician and, you know, a white Irish Catholic guy.” There was also dismissiveness of Biden in Clinton’s orbit that echoed Obama aides.

“The good thing about a Biden run,” Neera Tanden, Clinton’s close aide who also advised the Obama administration on health policy, wrote to Podesta in 2015, in an email later exposed by WikiLeaks, “is that he would make Hillary look so much better.” Obama tried to remain above the fray, even as his closest staffers largely rallied around Clinton—which they likely would not have done if there was a chance he would support Biden. “I knew a number of the president’s former staffers, and even a few current ones, were putting a finger on the scale for Clinton,” Biden wrote. Pressed on whether Obama ever expressed a preference between Clinton and Biden, Jarrett demurred, saying, “that’s a conversation you’ll have to have with him.” Obama declined to be interviewed through his spokesperson.

“President Obama has been unequivocal in his respect for Joe’s wisdom, experience, empathy and integrity,” the spokesperson said in a statement. Even if he did express preference for Clinton, some Obama officials characterized it more as an acknowledgment of her strength than an attempt to undercut Biden. “There was a feeling of inevitability about Hillary Clinton in every aspect,” recalled Psaki. “So it never felt to me like it was Obama choosing Hillary Clinton over Joe Biden. It was a feeling like it’s inevitable after Hillary Clinton left the State Department that she will be the Democratic nominee, and she will become the next president. So Obama … was trying to play a part in being helpful.” Reines said Obama “was always very encouraging” of Clinton and that after serving as president, “he believed there was no one better prepared to do it.”

Read more …

The doors shut tight behind Hillary.

Appeals Court Spares Hillary Clinton From Deposition In Email Scandal (JTN)

Four-plus years after the James Comey-led FBI chose not to file charges against Hillary Clinton, despite evidence she transmitted classified information on an insecure email server, a federal appeals court Friday gave the former secretary of state another legal pass in the case. A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a writ of mandamus requested by Clinton’s lawyers overturning a judge’s order that she submit to a sworn deposition in a Freedom of Information Act case brought by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. The court ruled that U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth erred in ordering the deposition in the first place.

“Discovery in FOIA cases is not a punishment, and the district court has no basis to order further inquiry into Secretary Clinton’s state of mind,” the appeals court ruled. Judicial Watch had sought to secure the deposition to explore whether Clinton’s use of the private server to transmit government documents was an effort to evade the legal requirements of the FOIA law. The group said Friday afternoon it is reviewing whether to appeal. “We’re disappointed and considering our options,” Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton told Just the News. The court ruling comes four years and one month after Comey announced on July 5, 2016 that he had unilaterally decided not to seek criminal charges against Clinton for transmitting highly classified information on her private email server.

Comey was later fired from his post and an inspector general ruled the FBI director had wrongly “usurped” the Justice Department’s authority to decide whether charges should have been filed. It was that very same day that former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele — working on behalf of Clinton’s opposition research efforts — walked the first piece of information of his now infamous anti-Trump dossier into the FBI office in London.

Read more …

“..Congress inserted the words “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Those six words have perplexed scholars for 150 years.”

But being perplexed by them today is racist.

Yes, Kamala Harris Is Eligible For Vice President (Turley)

Birthright citizenship has been a subject of debate from the time that the 14th Amendment was adopted. There are arguments on both sides of the currently accepted broad interpretation of the language. Many of our closest allies reject the concept of birthright citizenship. However, the case law strongly supports Harris. In 1898, in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, the court found that the child of Chinese immigrants was still a citizen under the 14th Amendment because he was born on U.S. territory. His parents were here legally as permanent residents. Moreover, the language of the 14th Amendment does not clearly support the exclusions raised by Eastman. It states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

Most reading that language have concluded that it allows for birthright citizenship for anyone “born … in the United States.” The 14th Amendment starts and ends as a model of clarity, stating that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” are “citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” But between those two phrases, Congress inserted the words “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Those six words have perplexed scholars for 150 years. The dominant view of law professors is the line as a whole guarantees that anyone born within the United States becomes an American citizen. But some believe that the caveat means you must be here in a legal status, that if you are not a American citizen, then you are a legal resident.

I do not believe that there is a credible question of Harris’ eligibility. However, I am concerned with the attacks on Newsweek and the author from a free speech standpoint. This issue has been raised for decades and the Supreme Court cases are few and are not dispositive on all aspects of the question. In prior coverage of candidates like McCain, there was not a demand for newspapers to denounce their own publications. Eastman is a professor who raised a commonly discussed constitutional and political issue. There is no reason to denounce him as a racist or Newsweek as an enabler of racism. Media often publish controversial theories.

There were not demands for retractions when a Harvard professor said Trump was not actually impeached when he was impeached, a North Carolina professor saying the entire Trump defense team would face bar charges, or any number of the controversial theories of criminality against Trump. Instead we simply debated the issues, which actually raised interesting historical or ethical questions. LA Times’ Michael McGough called Newsweek’s explanation “feeble” when it insisted that it was merely sharing a constitutional viewpoint and not attempting “to ignite a racist conspiracy theory around Kamala Harris’ candidacy.” Yet, this “feeble” reason has been the basis for past articles on the debate over the 14th Amendment in major publications for decades.

Read more …

Briefing for a descent into complete chaos post-Nov 4.

UPS, FedEx Reject Calls To Handle Mail-In Ballots: Significant Problems (Hill)

As concern mounts that the United States Postal Service (USPS) will not be able to handle an influx of mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, many on social media have called for delivery services FedEx and UPS to step up, which the companies have dismissed. In an exclusive interview with Reuters, UPS and FedEx said they legally can’t do the work and warned there would likely be “significant” delays. “State ballots must be postmarked to be considered valid and only the USPS has lawful postmarking status. Therefore UPS, FedEx and other private parties cannot technically be involved in shipping ballots,” UPS told Reuters in a statement.


Meanwhile, FedEx says it does accept individual ballots, but encouraged customers using FedEx to “closely review their state’s guidelines on absentee voting and deadlines for ballots or related election documents.” According to Reuters, various laws prevent private delivery companies from handling mail-in and absentee ballots, and in some states it would be considered ballot harvesting. On top of legal issues, the USPS is equipped to deliver to every mailbox in the U.S. daily, while private delivery companies only deliver when someone has a package or a pickup, and don’t have blanket coverage of more hard-to-reach places, such as rural communities. Many delivery companies are also already struggling with a surge of deliveries brought on by people staying at home during the pandemic and increasingly relying on online shopping.

Read more …

How can you open Target to huge crowds but keep churches closed? What is the reasoning?

California Judge Sides With Church, Allows Indoor Services (WT)

A California court rejected Friday efforts by Los Angeles County to require a popular megachurch to comply with pandemic orders, allowing the church to hold indoor services with singing and without attendance limits pending a resolution of the case. Superior Court Judge James Chalfant denied the county’s request for a temporary restraining order against Grace Community Church after the church began holding indoor services July 26 in defiance of state and county rules aimed at combating the novel coronavirus, according to a press release from the Thomas More Society.


Attorney Jenna Ellis called it a “historic win,” tweeting that the court was the first in California “to recognize #churchisessential.” The Thomas More Society, which represented the church, said the judge ruled “it is the County’s burden to show why it should be permitted to infringe on the constitutionally protected rights of churches to freely exercise religion, but also expressing safety concerns.” At the same time, the church agreed to comply with mask-wearing and social-distancing rules before the full hearing scheduled for Sept. 4.

Read more …

Is he still getting the $600 checks?

Warren Buffett Sheds Big Stakes In Banks And Goes For The Gold (Fox)

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. unloaded a more than a quarter of its stake in Wells Fargo & Co. and about 61% of its position in JPMorgan Chase, while acquiring a new position in Barrick Gold Corp., according to 13-F filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the period ended Jun 30, that were released Friday afternoon. Berkshire sold 85.6 million shares of Wells Fargo, representing about 26% of its stake and putting its ownership to about 3% from 5.3%. The insurance conglomerate also shed 35.5 million shares of JPMorgan, 61% of its position, which now represents 1% of Berkshire’s overall portfolio from 3% in the prior period.


Meanwhile, the investment firm acquired nearly 21 million shares of Barrick Gold worth $563 million, representing 0.3% of Berkshire’s holding. Berkshire also reduced its holding in PNC Financial Services (PNC), selling 3.85 million shares to cut its position to 0.3% from 0.5%. Berkshire didn’t change its holdings in Apple Inc. where the firm owns 245 million shares. Large investors must disclose long stock positions held at the end of a quarter 45 days later in a 13-F filing with the SEC, which means such filings are merely a snapshot of an investor’s holdings at a given point.

Read more …

Opening doors for Assange?

Trump: ‘A Lot Of People’ Think Edward Snowden ‘Not Being Treated Fairly’ (NYP)

President Trump polled his aides on Thursday about whether he should let anti-surveillance whistleblower and leaker Edward Snowden return to the US from Russia without going to prison, saying he was open to it. “There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” Trump told The Post in an exclusive interview in the Oval Office, before soliciting views from his staff. Trump commented on Snowden for the first time as president after accusing former President Barack Obama of spying on his 2016 campaign. “When you look at [former FBI Director James] Comey and [former FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe, and [former CIA Director John] Brennan — and, excuse me, the man that sat at this desk, President Obama, got caught spying on my campaign with Biden. Biden and Obama, and they got caught spying on the campaign,” Trump said.


Trump’s comments reflect a remarkable softening in his views about the man he once deemed a “traitor” worthy of execution. Republican lawmakers and the Justice Department’s inspector general recently highlighted misuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the secret FISA court to surveil former Trump adviser Carter Page. “Snowden is one of the people they talk about. They talk about numerous people, but he is certainly one of the people that they do talk about,” Trump said on Thursday, before turning to his aides. “I guess the DOJ is looking to extradite him right now? … It’s certainly something I could look at. Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don’t know him, never met him. But many people are on his side.”

Read more …

How does one define “lawful” in the UK these days? Who would do the defining?

Chaos In Assange Case Management Hearing (DEAssange)

Attorney General William Barr issued a replacement extradition request just two days after Julian Assange’s defence team submitted their full and final evidence for the extradition hearing due in September, Westminster Magistrates court heard today (Friday 14th August). The clear attempt to blindside the defence by US Attorney General William Barr emerged as the court heard Julian Assange has not even seen the warmed-over extradition request, which contains no new charges but introduces new narrative content that the defence argued should be excluded from the proceedings. The defence argued the replacement indictment introduced alleged conduct from 2010 and 2011 which the US had investigated almost a decade ago, and could therefore not plausibly be argued to be new information to the US investigation.

The defence considered the move by the prosecution to bring in the replacement extradition request at the eleventh hour “astonishing”, given the case had been prepared over the course of one year and was well into substantive hearings which began in February. The defence was given a week to decide whether to ask for the September hearing to be adjourned, or to proceed as planned on 7 September. And that was only part of the chaotic hearing in which Belmarsh prison did not initially bring Assange to the video room to join proceedings, the US prosecution failed to turn up (having got the time of the hearing wrong), and every journalist and NGO observer that tried to dial-in was directed to another trial entirely and never made it into the Assange hearing.

That left a mere of handful of journalists that could gain access to the court to report proceedings. ‘This was the worst hearing so far’, said Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-chief . ‘The US government seem to want to change the indictment every time the court meet, but without the defence or Julian himself seeing the relevant documents’. Even now Julian Assange has not been re-arrested under the replacement extradition request. Instead the re-arrest will take place on the first day of the hearings. The reissued request appears to serve a PR purpose since it contains no new charges though still threatens Assange with 175 years in jail.

Julian Assange’s legal team have been denied in-person access to their client since March. Today was the first day Julian Assange was able to have a short video link meeting with his lawyers, prior to the hearing. Belmarsh prison denied Assange any facilities to talk to his lawyers after the hearing ended. Julian Assange has not seen his family and young children since March.

Read more …

 

 

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

Thank you for your kind support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Dec 152019
 


Theodor Horydczak U.S. Supreme Court interiors, Washington DC 1931

 

 

China Suspends Planned Tariffs Scheduled For Dec. 15 On Some US Goods (R.)
Unpacking The No Deal Not a Trade War Trade War Deal (Balding)
Giant China SEO Announces Largest Dollar Bond Default In Two Decades (ZH)
IG Report Reveals Scandal of Historic Magnitude for the FBI and US Media (GG)
The Bloated Pentagon Budget Should Be Spent on Human Needs (Nation)
The Art of Doublespeak: Bellingcat and Mind Control (Curtin)
WikiLeaks: 20 OPCW Inspectors Dissent From Syria Chemical Attack Narrative (ZH)
Hunter Biden Drugs Charge Kept Under Wraps As Joe Led Drug War From Senate (WE)
One-Third Of Credit Card Debt Is Caused By Medical Expenses (CNBC)
Edward Snowden Speaks Out for Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning (RPI)
Assange Lawyer Discloses Conditions For British Justice TO RETHINK His Extradition (RT)
A Million Times More Microplastic In The Oceans Than We Thought (Wef)

 

 

There is one issue underlying all the talks at this point: China is running out of dollars.

China Suspends Planned Tariffs Scheduled For Dec. 15 On Some US Goods (R.)

China has suspended additional tariffs on some U.S. goods that were meant to be implemented on Dec. 15, the State Council’s customs tariff commission said on Sunday, after the world’s two largest economies agreed a “phase one” trade deal on Friday. The deal, rumors and leaks over which have gyrated world markets for months, reduces some U.S. tariffs in exchange for what U.S. officials said would be a big jump in Chinese purchases of American farm products and other goods. China’s retaliatory tariffs, which were due to take effect on Dec. 15, were meant to target goods ranging from corn and wheat to U.S. made vehicles and auto parts.


Other Chinese tariffs that had already been implemented on U.S. goods would be left in place, the commission said in a statement issued on the websites of government departments including China’s finance ministry. “China hopes, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, to work with the United States, to properly resolve each other’s core concerns and promote the stable development of U.S.-China economic and trade relations,” it added. Beijing has agreed to import at least $200 billion in additional U.S. goods and services over the next two years on top of the amount it purchased in 2017, the top U.S. trade negotiator said Friday.

Read more …

Christopher Balding taught in China for a long time; he knows the country. This is his lenghty analysis of the trade deal.

Unpacking The No Deal Not a Trade War Trade War Deal (Balding)

Having been subjected to such a barrage of horrendous trade war analysis that seems more like literary therapy for the politically frustrated than actual deal analysis, I have opted to write my own analysis of the deal. I will as studiously as possible try to avoid or limit any political opinionating, and stick strictly to the analyzing the deal points within the USTR Fact Sheet and providing what are the likely trade offs, risks, and perspective about each points. Let’s get started.

This deal is about a lot more than agriculture.I’m leading with this one only because it is arguably the most common myth and repeated like the 10 Ten Commandments and divine truth even though it is clearly false on numerous levels. The USTR specifically lists IP protection, tech transfer, agriculture, financial services, currency, expanding trade, and dispute resolution as the major areas. One report in the news quoted a source as saying there were 9 chapters which would come close to matching these general areas. Even within the broader trade purchase aspect, agriculture is not even the main area. Let us please kill once and for all, this deal is just about agriculture.

Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer The two paragraphs on IP and tech transfer in the USTR statement provide scant detail but use relatively ambitious language with regards to Chinese commitments. In IP, China will “address long standing concerns”. In tech transfer, the language is even more ambitious saying China “agreed to end its long-standing practice of forcing or pressuring foreign companies to transfer their technology to Chinese companies as a condition for obtaining market access, administrative approvals, or receiving advantages from the government” and “commits to provide transparency, fairness, and due process in administrative proceedings and to have technology transfer and licensing take place on market terms” and “commits to refrain from directing or supporting outbound investments aimed at acquiring foreign technology pursuant to industrial plans that create distortion.”

Read more …

Borrowed in dollars, can’t pay back in dollars.

Giant China SEO Announces Largest Dollar Bond Default In Two Decades (ZH)

Two weeks ago we previewed what we said would soon be a D-Day for China’s bond market, as a massive commodities trader and Global 500 state-owned enterprise was set for an “unprecedented” bond default. As of last week, this historic default is now in the history books after Tewoo, the closely watched Chinese commodities trader, became the biggest dollar bond defaulter among the nation’s state-owned companies in two decades, in what Bloomberg called a “moment of reckoning” for Beijing as China struggles to contain credit risk in a weakening economy, as bond defaults hit an all time high and are set to keep rising in the coming years.

Last Wednesday, Tewoo Group announced results of its “unprecedented” debt restructuring, which saw a majority of its investors accepting heavy losses, and which according to rating agencies qualifies as an event of default. As a result of the default, until recently seen as virtually impossible for a state-owned company, investors’ perceptions are undergoing a dramatic U-turn about government-owned borrowers whose state-ownership had for years offered an ironclad sense of security. No more: The fact that a state-owned enterprise such as Tewoo has now defaulted on repaying its dollar bonds in full, confirms that Beijing will no longer bail out troubled SOEs, let alone private firms, perhaps due to the strains imposed by the economy which while growing at just below 6%, is slowing the most in three decades.

It also raises concerns over the Chinese province of Tianjin, where Tewoo is based, following a series of rating downgrades and financing difficulties suffered by some of the city’s state-run firms. The metropolis near Beijing also has the highest ratio of local government financing vehicle bonds to GDP in China. As a reminder, Tewoo ranked 132 in 2018’s Fortune Global 500 list, higher than many other conglomerates including service carrier China Telecommunications Corp. and financial titan Citic Group Corp. It had an annual revenue of $66.6 billion, profits of about $122 million, assets worth $38.3 billion, and more than 17,000 employees as of 2017, according to Fortune’s website.

Read more …

Glenn Greenwald has dug deep.

IG Report Reveals Scandal of Historic Magnitude for the FBI and US Media (GG)

Just as was true when the Mueller investigation closed without a single American being charged with criminally conspiring with Russia over the 2016 election, Wednesday’s issuance of the long-waited report from the Department of Justice’s Inspector General reveals that years of major claims and narratives from the U.S. media were utter frauds. Before evaluating the media component of this scandal, the FBI’s gross abuse of its power – its serial deceit – is so grave and manifest that it requires little effort to demonstrate it. In sum, the IG Report documents multiple instances in which the FBI – in order to convince a FISA court to allow it spy on former Trump campaign operative Carter Page during the 2016 election – manipulated documents, concealed crucial exonerating evidence, and touted what it knew were unreliable if not outright false claims.

If you don’t consider FBI lying, concealment of evidence, and manipulation of documents in order to spy on a U.S. citizen in the middle of a presidential campaign to be a major scandal, what is? [..] They are out-of-control, virtually unlimited police state factions that lie, abuse their spying and law enforcement powers, and subvert democracy and civic and political freedoms as a matter of course. In this case, no rational person should allow standard partisan bickering to distort or hide this severe FBI corruption. The IG Report leaves no doubt about it.

[..] It’s long been the case that CIA, FBI and NSA operatives tried to infiltrate and shape domestic news, but they at least had the decency to do it clandestinely. In 2008, the New York Times’ David Barstow won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing a secret Pentagon program in which retired Generals and other security state agents would get hired as commentators and analysts and then – unbeknownst to their networks – coordinate their messaging to ensure that domestic news was being shaped by the propaganda of the military and intelligence communities.

But now it’s all out in the open. It’s virtually impossible to turn on MSNBC or CNN without being bombarded with former Generals, CIA operatives, FBI agents and NSA officials who now work for those networks as commentators and, increasingly, as reporters. [..] The past three years of “Russiagate” reporting – for which U.S. journalists have lavished themselves with Pulitzers and other prizes despite a multitude of embarrassing and dangerous errors about the Grave Russian Threat – has relied almost exclusively on anonymous, uncorroborated claims from Deep State operatives (and yes, that’s a term that fully applies to the U.S.). The few exceptions are when these networks feature former high-level security state operatives on camera to spread their false propaganda,

Read more …

Tulsi to the rescue.

The Bloated Pentagon Budget Should Be Spent on Human Needs (Nation)

Even as our nation fails to allocate adequate resources to feed the hungry, house the homeless, care for the sick and protect our planet, the coffers of war profiteers continue to grow. This is why we joined with 102 faith leaders and groups to call upon those who are vying to become our next president to embrace significant reallocations away from the bloated Pentagon budget toward major reinvestments in the needs of our communities. The Pentagon is on track to receive $738 billion next year, despite its inability to account for the money it already has. This includes taxpayer dollars that are redirected to corporate war profiteers, such as a staggering $34 billion contract announced in October for Lockheed Martin’s costly and fault-plagued F-35 fighter jet.

Congress has increased the Pentagon’s budget by $20 billion compared to last year. To put this in perspective, that’s double the amount of the Environmental Protection Agency’s entire budget and one-third of all the money spent on international diplomacy and development. It’s a stark and appalling contrast to the lived reality in our communities. As just a few examples, there are 140 million poor and low-income people living in the United States; about 40 million people in this country face food insecurity; salaries for our nation’s teachers plummeted by more than 4.5 percent over the last decade; we are losing veterans to suicide and drug overdose at alarming rates; and our national infrastructure is crumbling beneath our feet.

Why, then, would our elected officials agree to pump more money into weapon systems that don’t work, endless wars that don’t make us safe, and a refurbishment of our nuclear weapons arsenal that, if employed, can only end in apocalyptic destruction? It’s not just bad policy. We find it immoral. President Eisenhower said more than half a century ago: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

Read more …

Note: Bellingcat is a crucial provider of “evidence” in the MH17 trial that starts in February. It has no credibility left.

The Art of Doublespeak: Bellingcat and Mind Control (Curtin)

In the 1920s, the influential American intellectual Walter Lippman argued that the average person was incapable of seeing or understanding the world clearly and needed to be guided by experts behind the social curtain. In a number of books he laid out the theoretical foundations for the practical work of Edward Bernays, who developed “public relations” (aka propaganda) to carry out this task for the ruling elites. Bernays had honed his skills while working as a propagandist for the United States during World War I, and after the war he set himself up as a public relations counselor in New York City. There is a fascinating exchange at the beginning of Adam Curtis’s documentary, The Century of Self (above), where Bernays, then nearly 100 years old but still very sharp, reveals his manipulative mindset and that of so many of those who have followed in his wake.

He says the reason he couldn’t call his new business “propaganda” was because the Germans had given propaganda a “bad name,” and so he came up with the euphemism “public relations.” He then adds that “if you could use it [i.e. propaganda] for war, you certainly could use it for peace.” Of course, he never used PR for peace but just to manipulate public opinion (he helped engineer the CIA coup against the democratically elected Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954 with fake news broadcasts). He says “the Germans gave propaganda a bad name,” not Bernays and the United States with their vast campaign of lies, mainly aimed at the American people to get their support for going to a war they opposed (think weapons of mass destruction).

He sounds proud of his war propaganda work that resounded to his credit since it led to support for the “war to end all wars” and subsequently to a hit movie about WWI, Yankee Doodle Dandy, made in 1942 to promote another war, since the first one somehow didn’t achieve its lofty goal. As Bernays has said, “The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world today.”

 

[..] There is a notorious propaganda outfit called Bellingcat, started by an unemployed Englishman named Eliot Higgins, that is funded by The Atlantic Council (a think-tank with deep ties to the U.S. government, NATO, war manufacturers, and their allies), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) (another infamous U.S. front organization heavily involved in so-called color revolution regime change operations all around the world), that has just won the International Emmy Award for best documentary. The film with the Orwellian title, Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World, received its Emmy at a recent ceremony in New York City.

Bellingcat is an alleged group of amateur on-line researchers who have spent years shilling for the U.S. instigated war against the Syrian government, blaming the Douma chemical attack and others on the Assad government, and for the anti-Russian propaganda connected to, among other things, the Skripal poisoning case in England, and the downing of flight MH17 plane in Ukraine. It has been lauded by the corporate mainstream media in the west. Its support for the equally fraudulent White Helmets (also funded by the US and the UK) in Syria has also been praised by the western corporate media while being dissected as propaganda by many excellent independent journalists such as Eva Bartlett, Vanessa Beeley, Catte Black, among others.

It’s had its work skewered by the likes of Seymour Hersh and MIT professor Theodore Postol, and its US government connections pointed out by many others, including Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal at The Gray Zone. And now we have the mainstream media’s wall of silence on the leaks from the OPCW concerning the Douma chemical attack and the doctoring of their report that led to the illegal US bombing of Syria in the spring of 2018. Bellingcat was at the forefront of providing justification for such bombing, and now the journalists Peter Hitchens, Tareq Harrad (who recently resigned from Newsweek after accusing the publication of suppressing his revelations about the OPCW scandal) and others are fighting an uphill battle to get the truth out.

Yet Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World won the Emmy, fulfilling Bernays’ point about films being the greatest unconscious carriers of propaganda in the world today. Who presented the Emmy Award to the filmmakers, but none other than the rebel journalist Chris Hedges.

Read more …

Dismantling the OPCW is the only possible way forward.

WikiLeaks: 20 OPCW Inspectors Dissent From Syria Chemical Attack Narrative (ZH)

Late Saturday WikiLeaks released more documents which contradict the US narrative on Assad’s use of chemical weapons, specifically related to the April 7, 2018 Douma incident, which resulted in a major US and allied tomahawk missile and air strike campaign on dozens of targets in Damascus.

The leaked documents, including internal emails of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) — which investigated the Douma site — reveal mass dissent within the UN-authorized chemical weapons watchdog organization’s ranks over conclusions previously reached by the international body which pointed to Syrian government culpability. It’s part of a growing avalanche of dissent memos and documents casting the West’s push for war in Syria in doubt (which had resulted in two major US and allied attacks on Syria). This newly released batch, WikiLeaks reports, includes a memo stating 20 inspectors feel that the officially released version of the OPCW’s report on Douma “did not reflect the views of the team members that deployed to [Syria]”.

This comes amid widespread allegations US officials brought immense pressure to bear on the organization. The Daily Mail’s Peter Hitchens, who saw the leaked documents just prior to WikiLeaks going public with them had this to say: Sources stress that the scientists involved are ‘non-political, utterly uninterested in any strategic implications of what they reveal’. They just ‘feel that the OPCW has a duty to be true to its own science, and not to be influenced by political considerations as they fear it has been’. An internal memo seen by The Mail on Sunday suggests that as many 20 OPCW staff have expressed private doubts about the suppression of information or the manipulation of evidence.

Read more …

This is about 1988. 25 years later, in 2013, Hunter was discharged from the U.S. Navy after testing positive for cocaine. One year after, he landed his job with Burisma. Two years after that, a 2016 police report said that Hunter Biden returned a rental car in Arizona that contained a cocaine pipe and “a small ziplock bag with a white powdery substance inside all sitting on the passenger seat.”

Hunter Biden Drugs Charge Kept Under Wraps As Joe Led Drug War From Senate (WE)

Joe Biden’s son Hunter was arrested on Jersey Shore drug charges in 1988 and had his record expunged at a time when his father was pushing for the incarceration of drug offenders drawn disproportionately from minority groups. Congressional records reveal that Hunter Biden, now 49, was arrested in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, where the Biden family has often holidayed over the years, in June 1988. Hunter Biden, then 18, had just graduated from the prestigious Archmere Academy prep school, which his father had also attended. The former vice president and his wife Jill have often been spotted on trips to Stone Harbor.

The arrest has not previously been reported. Republicans have recently highlighted Hunter Biden’s drug abuse, questioning why it was not taken into account when the lobbyist was appointed to a $50,000-a-month post on the board of the Ukraine oil company Burisma in 2014, when his father, as vice president, was the Obama administration’s lead official on Ukraine. A year after the arrest, Joe Biden gave a speech in which he said the federal government needed to “hold every drug user accountable” because, “If there were no drug users, there would be no appetite for drugs, there would be no market for them.” He neglected to mention the drug use in his own family.

[..] Five months after his son escaped a sentence and had his possession charge kept secret, Biden voted for the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which made crack cocaine, often used by poor, black offenders, the only drug with a mandatory minimum penalty for a first offense of simple possession. But while many minorities were imprisoned for minor drug offenses, the wealthy, white Hunter Biden was allowed to participate in a state diversionary program called pretrial intervention. The program allowed first offenders to “avoid a trial and having the stigma accompanying a guilty verdict,” according to the Rubinstein Law Firm in New Jersey.

Read more …

Advice on how to deal with it, not a statement about how ridiculous this is.

One-Third Of Credit Card Debt Is Caused By Medical Expenses (CNBC)

For millions of Americans, unexpected bills can be summed up in two words: medical debt. Surprise health-care costs have affected about 137.1 million adults in the past year, according to recent research. And many Americans are turning to credit cards to help manage those debt burdens, according to CompareCards.com. The website found that 33% of cardholders are in debt because of medical bills. And nearly 60% said they used a card because they had no other way to pay. If you’re saddled with this debt, you need to take action.


First, start by making sure that you’re getting the best interest rates for your balances. If you have debt sitting on a high-interest card, consider transferring the balance to a 0% credit card. You may also use a medical credit card for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by your insurance. These cards, which are offered by companies like CareCredit, have special financing you may not get on other cards. They’re interest-free for a few months as long as you make your monthly payments on time. After that period, though, be sure to pay the balance off in full to avoid deferred interest that will charged from the original date of purchase.

Read more …

Obama revived the Espionage Act. But he didn’t have the guts to use it against journalists.

Edward Snowden Speaks Out for Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning (RPI)

Last week, Edward Snowden, a whistleblower who has since 2013 escaped similar silencing via retaining sanctuary in Russia, spoke up in strong advocacy for Assange and Manning’s freedom. He did so in an interview with Democracy Now host Amy Goodman. Snowden points out in the interview that the US cases against Assange, Manning, and himself all derive from the Espionage Act, the same Espionage Act that he notes was used against Daniel Ellsberg in the 1970s after Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to media. Pointing as an example to Ellsberg being prevented from even telling a jury at trial why he leaked the Pentagon Papers that revealed the hidden truth about US actions in the Vietnam War, Snowden emphasizes that the Espionage Act “is a special law that absolutely rules out any kind of fair trial.”

Continuing, Snowden discusses in the interview Manning’s revelations of “torture and war crimes, indefinite detention on the part of the United States government in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba” and Snowden’s own “involvement in the revelation of global mass surveillance” as being part of activities by a “new generation” of whistleblowers. Like Ellsberg, Snowden relates that he and Manning were confronted with the Espionage Act “that forbids the jury to consider” if the leaking activity at issue “was something that did more good for the public to know than it did harm to the government in terms of inconvenience or theoretical risks of investigative journalism in a free society.” And Snowden makes sure to emphasizes that the victims of this type of persecution over the last few years extend beyond Manning and himself.

Indeed, the charging of Julian Assange under the Espionage Act Snowden sees as particularly threatening. States Snowden: “We moved from an individual and exceptional case that was not repeated for decades and decades in the Ellsberg instance to something that under the Obama administration he charged more sources of journalism using this special law than all other presidents in the history of the United States combined. And now, under the Trump administration, we have taken one more step. We have gone from the United States government’s war on whistleblowers to, now, a war on journalism with the indictment of Julian Assange for what even the government itself admits was work related to journalism. And this I think is a dangerous, dangerous thing — not just for us, not just for Julian Assange, but for the world and the future.”

Read more …

“December 20 is an important day..”

Assange Lawyer Discloses Conditions For British Justice TO RETHINK His Extradition (RT)

A Spanish judge will question Julian Assange on a Spain-based security firm thought to have spied on him in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. His lawyer hopes it may help thwart the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition to the US. Set for next week, the questioning is part of a criminal inquiry the Spanish High Court is carrying out into UC Global, a private security company suspected of gathering surveillance on Assange and passing it further to US intelligence services. “December 20 is an important day,” Aitor Martinez, a lawyer in charge of defending Assange in Spain, told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. The Spanish judge will go to Westminster Magistrates Court “to receive a video conference testimony from Mr Assange as a victim of the alleged spy plot,” he revealed.

The firm’s name surfaced this summer when El Pais newspaper reported that it was eavesdropping on Assange during his exile at the Ecuadorian diplomatic mission in London. Citing recordings it has had access to, the paper alleged that the firm – tasked to guard the embassy – specifically focused on Assange’s legal matters discussions. Now, Assange’s input is invaluable as it can pave the way to shooting down US efforts to try the publisher on their soil, Martinez explained. “Obviously, once Spanish justice receives such testimonies from Mr. Assange … the British justice should rethink the usefulness of his extradition [to the US],” he argued. As the inquiry progressed, the Spanish High Court arrested the company’s owner David Morales, a former member of the Spanish military, believed to have liaised with the US side.

He was released on bail, but his company’s premises were searched and his bank accounts frozen. As the story unfolded, it emerged that UC Global operatives also monitored Russian and American visitors to Assange, handing their profiles to US intelligence. Morales himself didn’t try to hide his ties to the “American friends.” According to Germany’s NDR broadcaster, which filed a complaint against UC Global for having targeted one of its journalists who visited Assange, Morales allegedly told one of his employees: “From now on, we play in the first league… We are now working for the dark side.” He is said to have traveled up to twice a month to the US to deliver intelligence taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Read more …

And in our own bodies too, if not now then soon.

A Million Times More Microplastic In The Oceans Than We Thought (Wef)

There could be a million times more microplastics floating around our oceans than previously thought, according to new research suggesting existing studies could have seriously underestimated the problem. Some microplastics – defined as fragments measuring less than 5 mm – are too small to be caught in the nets traditionally used to collect samples, making them go unnoticed. But researchers say a new technique has enabled more accurate measurements, capturing pieces smaller than the width of a human hair. The study, led by biological oceanographer Jennifer Brandon of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, published in the science journal Limnology and Oceanography Letters, found the concentration of tiny plastic pieces could be five to seven orders of magnitude greater than previously thought.

These fragments make their way into the world’s waterways and end up in our oceans. More than one-third of microplastics in the ocean come from synthetic fabrics, such as polyester or nylon. Car tyres are the second-leading source, releasing plastic particles as they erode. To more accurately record the level of microplastic pollution in ocean waters, the researchers analysed seawater salps, which are tiny, barrel-shaped filter feeders. These invertebrates inhabit ocean waters to depths of around 2 kilometres. Salps pump salt water through their bodies as they perform a pulsing movement both to feed and to move through the ocean. Filter-feeding in the ocean depths makes them a likely place to find microplastics, the researchers say.

All of the salp samples taken from three different ocean zones had mini-microplastic particles in their stomachs. Since food passes through the creature’s digestive system in two to seven hours, it was an alarming find. “The thing that truly surprised me the most was that every salp, regardless of year collected, species, life stage, or part of the ocean collected, had plastic in its stomach,” Brandon explained to Earther. “A species having 100% ingestion rates is quite extraordinary, and devastating for the food web that eats salps.”

Read more …

 

 

 

Please put the Automatic Earth on your Christmas charity list. Support us on Paypal and Patreon.

Top of the page, left and right sidebars. Thank you.

 

 

 

Sep 292019
 
 September 29, 2019  Posted by at 9:56 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Portrait of Ingeborg Thaulow 1877

 

Pelosi Says Public Opinion Shifting In Support Of Impeachment Inquiry (R.)
Pelosi’s House Rule Changes are Key Part of “Articles of Impeachment” (CTH)
Scott Adams Makes the Case for ‘President for Life’ Trump (Ricochet)
The Problem With Impeachment (Chris Hedges)
On The Motives Behind Whistleblower-gate (MoA)
The Latest Plot To Topple Trump: Politics According To -Groucho- Marx (SCF)
State Dept. Ramps Up Probe Into Clinton Email Server (Hill)
Has Australia Really Had a 28-Year Expansion? (St.Louis Fed)
U.S. Income Inequality Worsens, Widening To A New Gap (NPR)
Edward Snowden’s Julian Assange is an Unfamiliar Julian Assange (MPN)

 

 

She made that up.

Pelosi Says Public Opinion Shifting In Support Of Impeachment Inquiry (R.)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Saturday that public opinion is now on the side of an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump following the release of new information about his conversations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Pelosi this week announced her support for an investigation after the surfacing of a whistleblower complaint that said Trump appeared to solicit a political favor from Ukraine’s president aimed at helping him be re-elected next year. Pelosi for months took a cautious approach in weighing the calls of other Democratic House members to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump, which grew louder after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified on July 24 about his probe of Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“In the public, the tide has completely changed; it could change now – who knows – but right now after seeing the complaint and the IG (Inspector General) report and the cavalier attitude the administration had towards it, the American people are coming to a different decision,” Pelosi said at a journalism event hosted by the Texas Tribune news website. She added that her resistance to holding an impeachment inquiry quickly evolved from urging that fellow Democrats remain cautious of the political fallout ahead of next year’s elections to full steam ahead as details emerged of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine’s leader. “A president of the United States would withhold military assistance paid for by taxpayers to shake down the leader of another country unless he did him a political favor – that is so, so clear,” Pelosi said.

[..] Several Democratic presidential candidates attended the three-day event in Austin, including Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Representative Beto O’Rourke, Senator Amy Klobuchar and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, all of whom agreed with Pelosi that the campaign to push Trump from office must focus on policies and not impeachment. While some polls have shown Americans are split on supporting impeachment, Castro, who served under former President Barack Obama, said he thinks the public will increasingly back the inquiry. “Like in Watergate, after more evidence gets out there … you’ll see more people of different political stripes start to support it,” Castro said at the event, referring to moves in 1974 to impeach former President Richard Nixon.

Read more …

Pelosi called for impeachment without having seen the transcript or the complaint. That will forever be weird.

Pelosi’s House Rule Changes are Key Part of “Articles of Impeachment” (CTH)

Back in December 2018 CTH noted the significant House rule changes constructed by Nancy Pelosi for the 116th congress seemed specifically geared toward impeachment. {Go Deep} With the House going into a scheduled calendar recess, those rules are now being used to subvert historic processes and construct the articles of impeachment. A formal vote to initiate an “impeachment inquiry” is not technically required; however, there has always been a full house vote until now. The reason not to have a House vote is simple: if the formal process was followed the minority (republicans) would have enforceable rights within it. Without a vote to initiate, the articles of impeachment can be drawn up without any participation by the minority; and without any input from the executive. This was always the plan that was visible in Pelosi’s changed House rules.

Keep in mind Speaker Pelosi selected former insider DOJ official Douglas Letter to be the Chief Legal Counsel for the House. That becomes important when we get to the part about the official full house impeachment vote. The Lawfare group and DNC far-left activists were ecstatic at the selection. Doug Letter was a deep political operative within the institution of the DOJ who worked diligently to promote the weaponized political values of former democrat administrations. Speaker Pelosi has authorized the House committees to work together under the umbrella of an “official impeachment inquiry.” The House Intelligence (Schiff) and Judiciary Committees (Nadler) are currently working together leading this process.

From recent events we can see the framework of Schiff compiling Trump-Ukraine articles and Nadler compiling Trump-Russia articles. Trump-Ukraine via Schiff will likely focus on a corruption angle; Trump-Russia via Nadler will likely focus on an obstruction angle. How many articles of impeachment are finally assembled is unknown, but it is possible to see the background construct as described above. Unlike historic examples of committee impeachment assembly, and in combination with the lack of an initiation vote, Pelosi’s earlier House Rule changes now appear intentionally designed to block republicans during the article assembly process. The minority will have no voice. This is quite a design.

Read more …

Not really, but his arguments are interesting, and shared by many: how to put the CIA offside.

Scott Adams Makes the Case for ‘President for Life’ Trump (Ricochet)

No, Scott Adams is not suggesting that Trump be president for life. But Scott is making the case for Trump being the last legitimate president. Hence (my conclusion), if we want our president to be legitimate then we should want Trump to be president for life. And given his age that would not be an oppressively long time. So what is Scott talking about?! He referenced the other day a tweet from the person Scott thinks is the “smartest man he has ever met” — Naval Ravikant: Does it bother anyone else that our elected officials live in a panopticon run by our intelligence agencies? A panopticon is like a one-way mirror where a person can see everything without being seen.

In other words, if you assume that our intelligence service has technological access to conversations, emails, texts by accessing both public networks and “things” owned by elected officials that are connected to the internet, then our intelligence apparatus is in an enormously powerful position vis a vis elected officials. That is, bureaucrats have something on officials that can be used as leverage to override the desires and preferences of constituencies. This delegitimizes the elected politician as acting in the constituents’ interest rather than that of the intelligence community. Earlier Senator Schumer said much the same thing: “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

Now, according to Scott, Trump is the only elected politician who can resist the threats of the intelligence agencies because his flaws are well-known and flagrant, thus he has the least risk of losing political power from anything the intelligence officials could leak and would be believed. (At this point most voters don’t think or will ever be made to think that Trump is a traitor, intentionally working against the interests of the United States. Nor do they think that he is engaged in any “abuse of power” that is over the line for a president.) This makes him more legitimate as a political leader — from a constituency standpoint — than anyone who could be elected. So why wouldn’t you want Trump to be president for life?

Read more …

Chris Hedges has the same reasoning as Scott Adams.

The Problem With Impeachment (Chris Hedges)

Impeaching Donald Trump would do nothing to halt the deep decay that has beset the American republic. It would not magically restore democratic institutions. It would not return us to the rule of law. It would not curb the predatory appetites of the big banks, the war industry and corporations. It would not get corporate money out of politics or end our system of legalized bribery. It would not halt the wholesale surveillance and monitoring of the public by the security services. It would not end the reigns of terror practiced by paramilitary police in impoverished neighborhoods or the mass incarceration of 2.3 million citizens. It would not impede ICE from hunting down the undocumented and ripping children from their arms to pen them in cages. It would not halt the extraction of fossil fuels and the looming ecocide. It would not give us a press freed from the corporate mandate to turn news into burlesque for profit. It would not end our endless and futile wars. It would not ameliorate the hatred between the nation’s warring tribes—indeed would only exacerbate these hatreds.


Impeachment is about cosmetics. It is about replacing the public face of empire with a political mandarin such as Joe Biden, himself steeped in corruption and obsequious service to the rich and corporate power, who will carry out the same suicidal policies with appropriate regal decorum. The ruling elites have had enough of Trump’s vulgarity, stupidity and staggering ineptitude. They turned on him not over an egregious impeachable offense—there have been numerous impeachable offenses including the use of the presidency for personal enrichment, inciting violence and racism, passing on classified intelligence to foreign officials, obstruction of justice and a pathological inability to tell the truth—but because he made the fatal mistake of trying to take down a fellow member of the ruling elite.

Read more …

Decent overview of what’s going on.

On The Motives Behind Whistleblower-gate (MoA)

The whistleblower statute says that the matter in question must be an “urgent concern” that is defined as: “… a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operations of an intelligence activity involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinions concerning public policy matters”. At the core of the complaint in question is a claim that Trump used a phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of the Ukraine to press Zelensky to investigate two issues. The call memorandum was declassified and published. During the phone call Zelensky had two requests. He wanted U.S. anti-tank weapons and he wanted an invitation to the White House. (He got both.)

Trump also had a request. He asked that Ukrainian authorities investigate two issues of U.S. public interest. The first is the reported interferences by Ukrainian government officials in favor of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election campaign. This also involved the notorious security company CrowdStrike which made some false claims about Russian hacking in the Ukraine. The second one is the also well-know intervention by then Vice-President Joe Biden against a Ukrainian Attorney General who had an open investigation against a company that was sponsoring his son Hunter Biden. The U.S. and the Ukraine have a treaty that requires them to cooperate on law enforcement matters. That Trump wanted the Ukrainian authorities to investigated these issues was well known.

His personal lawyer Rudi Giuliani had said for several months that he was looking into these questions. The issues pointed out in the complaint are clearly beyond the scope of the whistleblower statute. Trump’s actions with regard to the Ukraine, especially the phone call, were neither outside of any law nor do they involve any intelligence activity. What Trump did during the call was not nefarious. The issue is clearly a question of “differences in opinion concerning public policy matters”. A whistleblower complaint must be send to the relevant agency’s inspector general. If he finds it credible it goes to the head of the agency who decides if it is within the statute and, if it is, sends the complaint to Congress.

The agency’s inspector general Michael Atkinson found the complaint ‘credible’ but, after seeking legal advice, the acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire did not forward it to Congress. It was the right thing to do as the content of the complaint is neither ‘whistleblowing’ nor within the relevant statute. What happened next is curious: “The agency’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, notified Congress that the complaint existed but says he and Maguire have reached an “impasse” over whether to turn it over.” I have found no legal analysis if this was a required move or outside of the usual process. After that step was taken details of the complaint leaked to the press as they were supposed to do.

Read more …

I increasingly suspect Hillary will emerge.

The Latest Plot To Topple Trump: Politics According To -Groucho- Marx (SCF)

Right after being falsely accused of conspiring with Russia for the past two and a half years, Trump is suddenly accused of the opposite – of conspiring with Ukraine instead! This Reversal of Fortune – and of accusations – demands that the American public be as stupid and brainwashed as the oppressed population of Oceania in George Orwell’s dark and prophetic classic dystopia “1984.” “We are at War with Eurasia! We have always been at War with Eurasia!” “No! We LOVE Eurasia! We are at War with EASTAsia! We have always been at war with Eastasia!” Clearly, the readers and viewers of the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN and all the rest of America’s media “Powers That Be” have already been well trained in Orwellian Doublethink and witless stupidity.

Suddenly, President Vladimir Putin of Russia is no longer the Evil Bad Guy plotting with Trump. Now it is new President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, himself a former professional comic actor on television. The Marx Brothers would have loved to co-star with him. Perhaps after being forced out of the presidency Trump, himself a former hit TV star across America, could hire Zelenskyy as his sidekick in a revival of his famous reality television show “The Apprentice.” As the late great British satirist Michael Wharton, who wrote under the nom de plume Peter Simple liked to say – the wilder the fantasy, the more rapidly it was bound to ‘collapse” into the realm which we naively and inaccurately describe as “reality.”

And what is the latest terrible crime that the President of the United States is now –suddenly and without warning – accused of? He dared to investigate whether Hunter Biden, the son of another eminent politician, former vice president Joe Biden was guilty of corruption. Just think of the consequences if Trump and his officials were allowed to continue their investigation unhindered: They might – shockingly! – put some other corrupt former US politicians out of business. Obviously, that would be the most terrible threat imaginable to the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free.

No wonder the US Deep State hates Donald Trump! But there is another goal for this concocted scandal. It’s a twofer – a two for one scandal – intended to topple Trump and remove Biden from serious consideration at the same time, clearing the way for the Deep State’s True Candidate – Senator Elizabeth Warren. The shamelessness of this latest concocted scandal would leave Josef Goebbels green with envy and laughing uncontrollably. Unfortunately, it isn’t a joke.

Read more …

Hilarious: “It is such an obscene abuse of power and time involving so many people for so many years,” they said. “This has just sucked up people’s lives for years and years.”

I could have sworn they were talking about the Mueller investigation.

State Dept. Ramps Up Probe Into Clinton Email Server (Hill)

The State Department reportedly intensified a probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, contacting dozens of former aides involved in email exchanges that passed through Clinton’s server. The Washington Post reported Saturday that as many as 130 former Clinton aides have been contacted by State Department investigators in recent weeks, with many being informed that they have been found “culpable” for transmitting information that should have been classified at a higher level than it was originally sent. Former Obama administration officials describe the probe to the Post as an extraordinary investigation fueled by political animosity.

But current officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told the newspaper that the probe was structured to avoid the appearance of political bias. The probe, which reportedly reached the stage where former officials began being contacted shortly after Trump’s inauguration, was described by one senior agency official to the Post as having nothing to do with President Trump’s vows to investigate Clinton if elected during the 2016 election. “This has nothing to do with who is in the White House,” the official said. “This is about the time it took to go through millions of emails, which is about three and a half years.” “The process is set up in a manner to completely avoid any appearance of political bias,” another official told the Post.

Former officials involved in the probe described it as a political vendetta, with one telling the Post it was an “abuse of power” by the Trump administration. “It is such an obscene abuse of power and time involving so many people for so many years,” they said. “This has just sucked up people’s lives for years and years.”

Read more …

No.

Has Australia Really Had a 28-Year Expansion? (St.Louis Fed)

In July, the U.S. officially entered its longest expansion on record. Naturally, many are wondering if the expansion is sustainable. When asking this question, many turn to the Australian case, as it has been argued that Australia hasn’t had a recession in 28 years. But is this really the case? The figure below shows the growth rate of Australia’s GDP, with recessions shaded gray. (Recessions are defined here as two or more consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.)

According to this, Australia has not had a recession since 1991 and has been growing since. However, when we look at real per capita GDP growth, the story changes. The figure below shows Australia’s per capita GDP growth rate. Again, recessions are shaded gray and defined as two or more consecutive quarters of negative growth.

As shown in the figure, Australia has had three recessions since 1991 when looking at GDP per capita, the most recent one being from the second quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019. This discrepancy between the growth rate of per capita GDP and the growth rate of GDP implies that population growth has been a key factor for Australia’s economic expansion. A rising population increases the size of the economy, and therefore total output increases, which is reflected in the level of GDP. However, the fact that we do see economic downturns in per capita terms means that population is growing faster than GDP. For nearly 40 years, Australia has had a higher population growth rate than other industrialized economies, as seen in the figure below.

In particular, it had a surge in population around 2008—during the height of the global financial crisis—due to migration. This population growth translated to overall positive GDP growth, but its effect on GDP growth hasn’t been enough to prevent recessions in per capita terms. Per capita recessions are not unique to Australia. In the table below, we compare the number of observed recessions when using GDP growth versus per capita GDP growth for several OECD countries. Again, a recession is defined as two or more consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Read more …

On a societal level (in)equality is strongly linked to prosperity.

U.S. Income Inequality Worsens, Widening To A New Gap (NPR)

The gap between the richest and the poorest U.S. households is now the largest it’s been in the past 50 years — despite the median U.S. income hitting a new record in 2018, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. income inequality was “significantly higher” in 2018 than in 2017, the federal agency says in its latest American Community Survey report. The last time a change in the metric was deemed statistically significant was when it grew from 2012-2013. While many states didn’t see a change in income inequality last year, the income gap grew wider in nine states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia.

The disparity grew despite a surging national economy that has seen low unemployment and more than 10 years of consecutive GDP growth. The most troubling thing about the new report, says William M. Rodgers III, a professor of public policy and chief economist at the Heldrich Center at Rutgers University, is that it “clearly illustrates the inability of the current economic expansion, the longest on record, to lessen inequality.” When asked why the rising economic tide has raised some boats more than others, Rodgers lists several factors, including the decline of organized labor and competition for jobs from abroad. He also cites tax policies that favor businesses and higher-income families.

Income inequality is measured through the Gini index, which measures how far apart incomes are from each other. To do that, the index assigns a hypothetical score of 0.0 to a population in which incomes are distributed perfectly evenly and a score of 1.0 to a population where only one household gets all of the income. In the U.S., the Gini index figure had been holding steady for the past several years. But it moved from 0.482 in 2017 to 0.485 in 2018. While that change may seem small, it’s statistically significant, the Census Bureau says. The agency notes that back in 2006, the figure stood at 0.464.

Read more …

I haven’t read the book, but this is a little alarming.

Edward Snowden’s Julian Assange is an Unfamiliar Julian Assange (MPN)

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks’ former editor Julian Assange have a complicated relationship. On the one hand, they share important similarities: both are perceived as dangerous enemies by the United States government, and both have been documentary subjects of filmmaker Laura Poitras. On the other hand, they clearly disagree when it comes to the means of achieving government transparency and accountability. After all, if Snowden had agreed with Assange about publishing practices, it is likely that he would have followed Chelsea Manning’s example and sent the NSA documents he collected and disclosed in 2013 to WikiLeaks.

The recent publication of Permanent Record, Snowden’s 336-page memoir, takes the Snowden-Assange dynamic to new—and problematic—heights. When Assange was forcibly dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in early 2019, Snowden was among the leading voices condemning the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder, calling it a dangerous assault on journalism. But in his memoir, Snowden uses rhetorical tricks to present Assange and WikiLeaks as his deceitful and irresponsible foils in a blatant and seemingly self-serving effort to highlight his own trustworthiness and accountability. Indeed, reviewers at the Washington Post and New Yorker have already seized upon Snowden’s anti-Assange rhetoric to serve their own anti-Assange agendas.

Proponents of press freedom have become accustomed to Pentagon and national security state attacks on Assange, but Snowden’s puzzling claims about the white-haired Australian and his transparency organization are exceptionally dangerous because they come from an otherwise highly respectable and trustworthy source, and at a time when there is otherwise a virtual media blackout on WikiLeaks. To be sure, Snowden deserves recognition as a courageous whistleblower and as a global champion of privacy rights, but in Permanent Record, Snowden appears willing to use a political prisoner for personal gain, deliberately distorting the truth and perpetuating the imperialistic propaganda that threatens not only Assange’s health but also his very life—just like the corporate media and national security state he exposed in 2013.

Read more …

 

Trans I Re by Fredrik Raddum

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 212019
 
 September 21, 2019  Posted by at 9:03 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Paul Gauguin The Seine in Paris 1875

 

United States Sending Troops To Bolster Saudi Defenses After Attack (R.)
Trump Says He’s Sanctioning Iran’s National Bank (Hill)
Trump Derides MSM Over Biden-Ukraine Story: You’re Gonna Look Really Bad (ZH)
In Call, Trump Urged Ukraine President 8x To Investigate Biden’s Son (CNBC)
WaPo Reports No “Quid Pro Quo” Offered During Phone Call (ZH)
Missing Piece to the Ukraine Puzzle (Solomon)
Is WeWork a Fraud? (Hawksberry)
‘The Men Who Plundered Europe’: Bankers On Trial For Siphoning €60bn (G.)
Desperate Central Bankers Grab for More Power (Brown)
Hopes For Trade Breakthrough Fade As China Cancels US Farm Visits (R.)
President of the Selfies (Kunstler)
France Rejects Edward Snowden’s Asylum Request, Fears Major Fallout With US (ZH)
Julian Assange: Justice Denied (Sagir)

 

 

This Reuters journalist unexpectedly gets it just right: “The Pentagon’s late Friday announcement appeared to close the door to any imminent decision to wage retaliatory strikes against Iran following the attack..”

United States Sending Troops To Bolster Saudi Defenses After Attack (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday approved sending American troops to bolster Saudi Arabia’s air and missile defenses after the largest-ever attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities, which Washington has squarely blamed on Iran. The Pentagon said the deployment would involve a moderate number of troops – not numbering thousands – and would be primarily defensive in nature. It also detailed plans to expedite delivery of military equipment to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Reuters has previously reported that the Pentagon was considering sending anti-missile batteries, drones and more fighter jets. The United States is also considering keeping an aircraft carrier in the region indefinitely.

“In response to the kingdom’s request, the president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces, which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a news briefing. “We will also work to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enhance their ability to defend themselves.” The Pentagon’s late Friday announcement appeared to close the door to any imminent decision to wage retaliatory strikes against Iran following the attack, which rattled global markets and exposed major gaps in Saudi Arabia’s air defenses.

Trump said earlier on Friday that he believed his military restraint so far showed “strength,” as he instead imposed another round of economic sanctions on Tehran. “Because the easiest thing I could do, ‘Okay, go ahead. Knock out 15 different major things in Iran.’ … But I’m not looking to do that if I can,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Read more …

Jim Rickards’s comment on Twitter: “Trump just sanctioned the central bank of Iran (Bank Markazi). If you’re not a banking expert and want to understand the impact, it’s like turning off the oxygen of a patient in intensive care. The result is predictable.”

Trump Says He’s Sanctioning Iran’s National Bank (Hill)

President Trump announced Friday that he had sanctioned Iran’s national bank, calling them the “highest sanctions ever imposed on a country.” Trump made the comments to reporters during an Oval Office meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The announcement comes two days after Trump said he had instructed the Treasury Department to increase sanctions on Iran following attacks on two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. The Trump administration has blamed Iran in the attacks, which took out roughly 5 percent of the global oil supply on Saturday. “These are the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country, we’ve never done it to this level. It’s too bad what’s happening with Iran, it’s going to hell,” Trump told reporters, saying Tehran is “practically broke.”


The Treasury Department said in a statement that it was sanctioning Iran’s central bank, Iran’s national development fund and Etemad Tejarate Pars Co., an Iran-based firm that U.S. officials said is used to conceal financial transfers for purchases by Iran’s defense ministry. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin joined Trump briefly in the Oval Office to announce the new sanctions on Friday. “We are continuing the maximum pressure campaign,” Mnuchin said. “This will mean no more funds going to the [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps] or to fund terror, and this is on top of our oil sanctions and our financial institution sanctions.” “The easiest thing I can do, OK go ahead, knock down 15 major things in Iran,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “I could do that and it’s all set to go. But I’m not looking at doing that if I can.”

Read more …

“So keep playing it out because you’re gonna look really bad when it falls, and I guess I’m about 22 and 0 and I’ll keep it that way… ”

Trump Derides MSM Over Biden-Ukraine Story: You’re Gonna Look Really Bad (ZH)

A very smug President Trump brushed aside questions over a whistleblower complaint which reportedly involves promises made to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. Calling the story “ridiculous” and describing the whistleblower as partisan, Trump said that it “doesn’t matter what I discussed,” adding “but I’ll tell you this, somebody ought to look into Joe Biden’s statement where He talked about billions of dollars that he’s not giving to a certain country unless a certain prosecutor is taken off the case. So, somebody ought to look into that and you wouldn’t because he’s a Democrat. And the fake news doesn’t look into things like that, it’s a disgrace.”

Trump was of course referring to a 2018 incident where Biden openly bragged about strongarming Ukraine into firing their top prosecutor, who was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into a natural gas firm whose board Hunter Biden sat on. Continuing on, Trump told reporters: “It was a totally appropriate conversation – it was actually a beautiful conversation.” Trump then warned the press they’re barking up the wrong tree after a “very bad week” in which the New York Times was forced to issue a major correction to an article about alleged sexual misconduct by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, after the two journalists who wrote it failed to include evidence from their own anti-Kavanaugh book which significantly undercut their argument.

“You know the press has had a very bad week with Justice Kavanaugh and all those ridiculous charges, and all of the mistakes made at the New York Times and other places,” said Trum, adding: “You’ve had a very bad week, and this will be better than all of ’em, this is another one. So keep playing it out because you’re gonna look really bad when it falls, and I guess I’m about 22 and 0 and I’ll keep it that way. “…keep asking questions and building it up as big as possible so you can have a bigger downfall.”

Read more …

A top Ukrainne offical makes really silly statements: “Clearly, Trump is now looking for kompromat to discredit his opponent Biden, to take revenge for his friend Paul Manafort”..

In Call, Trump Urged Ukraine President 8x To Investigate Biden’s Son (CNBC)

President Donald Trump repeatedly urged Ukraine’s president during a telephone call in July to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his involvement with a Ukraine natural gas company, a new report says. The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump encouraged Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky “about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on a probe, according to people familiar with the matter.” Biden is the current front-runner in the race to win the Democratic presidential nomination and face the Republican nominee, expected to be Trump, in the 2020 election.

Biden on Friday, when asked about Trump’s claims about him and his son, said, “Not one single credible outlet has given any credibility to his assertions. Not one single one. So I have no comment except the president should start to … be president.” [..] The Journal’s new report came as a top Ukraine official reportedly said that Trump “is looking” for Ukraine officials to investigate business dealings of Biden’s son in that country in an effort “to discredit” Biden as he seeks the Democratic presidential nomination.

The official, Anton Geraschenko, told The Daily Beast that Ukraine is ready to investigate Hunter Biden’s relationship with the Ukraine gas company “as soon as there is an official request.” But, he added, “Currently there is no open investigation.” Geraschenko is a senior advisor to Ukraine’s interior minister, who would be in charge of any investigation of Hunter Biden. “Clearly, Trump is now looking for kompromat to discredit his opponent Biden, to take revenge for his friend Paul Manafort, who is serving seven years in prison,” Geraschenko told The Daily Beast.

Read more …

Does this settle the ‘dispute’?

WaPo Reports No “Quid Pro Quo” Offered During Phone Call (ZH)

The latest ‘smoking gun’ Democrats have been clinging to in search of that ever-elusive Trump impeachment may have just imploded – after the Washington Post quietly reported on Friday evening that a July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did not contain an explicit quid pro quo if Ukraine launched an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son as initially reported. While President Trump did reportedly “pressure the recently elected leader to more aggressively pursue” the investigation, “Trump did not raise the issue of American military and intelligence aid that had been pledged to Ukraine, indicating there was not an explicit quid pro quo in that call.”

Of course, it has been reported that there were multiple calls – however one might think that the Washington Post’s super high-level anonymous government source would have access to the others as well, and ostensibly would have leaked the most damaging information available. [..] “The revelation that Trump pushed Zelensky to pursue the Biden probe, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, represents the most detailed account so far of the president’s conduct that prompted a U.S. intelligence official to file a whistleblower action against the president.” -Washington Post

So – the current US president asked Ukraine to conduct a legal investigation into the former US Vice President, who openly bragged about withholding $1 billion in US loan guarantees unless they fired the guy investigating his son and his son’s company – and there was no quid pro quo offered in exchange for that investigation – at least not on that phone call.

Read more …

Giuliani didn’t go looking, the Ukraine did.

Missing Piece to the Ukraine Puzzle (Solomon)

The coverage suggests Giuliani reached out to new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s team this summer solely because he wanted to get dirt on possible Trump 2020 challenger Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings in that country. Politics or law could have been part of Giuliani’s motive, and neither would be illegal. But there is a missing part of the story that the American public needs in order to assess what really happened: Giuliani’s contact with Zelensky adviser and attorney Andrei Yermak this summer was encouraged and facilitated by the U.S. State Department. Giuliani didn’t initiate it. A senior U.S. diplomat contacted him in July and asked for permission to connect Yermak with him.

[..] Why would Ukraine want to talk to Giuliani, and why would the State Department be involved in facilitating it? According to interviews with more than a dozen Ukrainian and U.S. officials, Ukraine’s government under recently departed President Petro Poroshenko and, now, Zelensky has been trying since summer 2018 to hand over evidence about the conduct of Americans they believe might be involved in violations of U.S. law during the Obama years . The Ukrainians say their efforts to get their allegations to U.S. authorities were thwarted first by the U.S. embassy in Kiev, which failed to issue timely visas allowing them to visit America. Then the Ukrainians hired a former U.S. attorney — not Giuliani — to hand-deliver the evidence of wrongdoing to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, but the federal prosecutors never responded.

The U.S. attorney, a respected American, confirmed the Ukrainians’ story to me. The allegations that Ukrainian officials wanted to pass on involved both efforts by the Democratic National Committee to pressure Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election as well as Joe Biden’s son’s effort to make money in Ukraine while the former vice president managed U.S.-Ukraine relations, the retired U.S. attorney told me. Eventually, Giuliani in November 2018 got wind of the Ukrainian allegations and started to investigate. [..] Ukrainian officials also are discussing privately the possibility of creating a parliamentary committee to assemble the evidence and formally send it to the U.S. Congress, after failed attempts to get the Department of Justice’s attention, my sources say.

Read more …

Now, THIS is a take-down. Read the whole thing.

Is WeWork a Fraud? (Hawksberry)

WeWork will never ever, in its short history, generate a profit, let alone the tens of billions in revenues necessary to generate anywhere near the $3 billion in earnings required to (even then generously) value the company at £47 billion. A lot of people could have done what Adam Nuemann & Miguel McKelvey did, they don’t because they’re not prepared to engage in a fraud. They can play dumb all they like but when you fiddle with your financials, invent accounting principles, secretly acquire IP and double deal it for millions of dollars back to your own company, market yourselves misleadingly as a ‘technology’ play, cash out close to $1 billion and use that to acquire buildings to lease back to WeWork, employ half your family etc, etc, etc…please for heavens sake don’t try and convince me that they are unaware of what they are doing.

They know exactly what they’re doing. Adam and Miguel purposefully choose to hide those costs under ‘Community-Adjusted EBITA’s’. Why are they still parading WeWork as a technology company, does anybody believe as cunningly intelligent as they are, that they genuinely think WeWork is a ‘technology’ company? Why have they cashed out, and not just a few million dollars as a deposit on a big mortgage but hundreds of millions to buy buildings that they used to further bleed their own ponzi scheme with?. They have cashed out $1 billion whilst posting losses of $1.9 billion. Since their S1 release, Adam & Miguel have slashed their proposed post-IPO valuation by 86% in 4 re-valuations. The price started at $67 billion, then they quickly dropped it to $30/$40bn before again looking down at their calculator and punching buttons quicker than you can blink and coming back with $15/20bn.

As you’re about to click, it plunges 40% to $10bn. From $67 billion to $10 billion in 7 days. It’s pathetic seeing this kind of desperation. I don’t want to be in the room when he realises it’s not even close to being worth anywhere near $1 billion. Within the last 10 days or so, his wife Rebekah has also removed from her extraordinarily unnecessary position, they’ve hastily elected their first female to their Board, halved Adam’s voting power, lost a Chief Communications Officer, their bonds are crashing, two landlords have begun legal proceedings, their principle investor Masayoshi has publicly called for Adam to delay the IPO, even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez weighed in and warned vulnerable investors Goldman Sachs & JP Morgan are now targeting… ‘you’re getting fleeced!’.

Read more …

“Estimated losses include €31.8bn in Germany, at least €17bn for France, €4.5bn in Italy, €1.7bn in Denmark and €201m for Belgium.”

‘The Men Who Plundered Europe’: Bankers On Trial For Siphoning €60bn (G.)

They have been called “the men who plundered Europe”: a group of cowboy traders, seasoned tax lawyers and mathematical whizz kids who are alleged to have conspired in the heart of the City of London to siphon at least €60bn in taxpayers’ money from the state coffers of several EU countries. In Britain, the so-called “cum-ex” scandal, named after the complex derivatives juggling act employed, gained little attention amid the frenzied debate around the UK’s departure from the European Union when the fraud scheme was discovered in 2017. But in continental Europe what Le Monde has described as the “robbery of the century” has done almost as much to shape the view of Britain as Brexit itself.

Dutch media has called it “organised crime in pinstripe suits” and one of the original German whistleblowers saying he now welcomes Britain’s exit from the EU in the hope it could weaken the influence of London investment banking on European financial institutions. This week, a British former investment banker involved in developing the scheme for the first time gave the public an insight into how the scheme worked and what spurred on its architects. Speaking at a regional court in Bonn, Martin Shields, one of two former bankers on trial for 34 instances of serious tax fraud between 2006 and 2011, painted a picture of a London banking scene which lured in the brightest scientists from the country’s top universities and used them to boost their profit margins – without teaching them about the moral and legal consequences of their actions in return.

“This was the environment at that time: a financial industry that – at least as far as I could see – was geared towards maximum profit optimisation,” the 41-year-old told a packed courtroom on Wednesday. “One tool to achieve this goal was tax optimisation: avoiding taxation as far as possible – and taking advantage of any opportunities that could be found or created. This was not the clandestine approach of a few. Rather, I saw it as the clear and openly communicated expectation of most major banks and their customers.” [..] Estimated losses include €31.8bn in Germany, at least €17bn for France, €4.5bn in Italy, €1.7bn in Denmark and €201m for Belgium.

Read more …

Is it too late to stop them?

Desperate Central Bankers Grab for More Power (Brown)

Central bankers are acknowledging that they are out of ammunition. Mark Carney, the soon-to-be-retiring head of the Bank of England, said in a speech at the annual meeting of central bankers in August in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, “In the longer-term, we need to change the game.” The same point was made by Philipp Hildebrand, former head of the Swiss National Bank, in an August 2019 interview with Bloomberg. “Really there is little if any ammunition left,” he said. “More of the same in terms of monetary policy is unlikely to be an appropriate response if we get into a recession or sharp downturn.” “More of the same” meant further lowering interest rates, the central bankers’ stock tool for maintaining their targeted inflation rate in a downturn.

Bargain-basement interest rates are supposed to stimulate the economy by encouraging borrowers to borrow (since rates are so low) and savers to spend (since they aren’t making any interest on their deposits and may have to pay to store them). But over $15 trillion in bonds are now trading globally at negative interest rates, yet this radical maneuver has not been shown to measurably improve economic performance. In fact new research shows that negative interest rates from central banks, rather than increasing spending, stopping deflation, and stimulating the economy as they were expected to do, may be having the opposite effects. They are being blamed for squeezing banks, punishing savers, keeping dying companies on life support, and fueling a potentially unsustainable surge in asset prices.

So what is a central banker to do? Hildebrand’s proposed solution was presented in a paper he wrote with three of his colleagues at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, where he is now vice chairman. Released in August to coincide with the annual Jackson Hole meeting of central bankers, the paper was co-authored by Stanley Fischer, former governor of the Bank of Israel and former vice chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve; Jean Boivin, former deputy governor of the Bank of Canada; and BlackRock economist Elga Bartsch. Their proposal calls for “more explicit coordination between central banks and governments when economies are in a recession so that monetary and fiscal policy can better work in synergy.” The goal, according to Hildebrand, is to go “direct with money to consumers and companies in order to enliven consumption,” putting spending money directly into consumers’ pockets.

Read more …

“The United States had removed tariffs overnight from over 400 Chinese products in response to requests from U.S. companies.”

Hopes For Trade Breakthrough Fade As China Cancels US Farm Visits (R.)

A U.S.-China trade deal appeared elusive on Friday after Chinese officials unexpectedly canceled a visit to farms in Montana and Nebraska as deputy trade negotiators wrapped up two days of negotiations in Washington. Chinese officials were expected to visit U.S. farmers next week as a goodwill gesture, but canceled to return to China sooner than originally scheduled, agriculture organizations from Montana and Nebraska said. The United States had removed tariffs overnight from over 400 Chinese products in response to requests from U.S. companies. The Chinese Embassy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


The U.S. Trade Representative’s office issued a brief statement characterizing the two days as “productive” and that a principal-level trade meeting in Washington would take place in October as previously planned. China’s Commerce Ministry, in a brief statement, described the talks as “constructive”, and said they had also had a good discussion on “detailed arrangements” for the high-level talks in October. [..] Trade experts, executives and government officials in both countries say that even if the September and October talks produced an interim deal, the U.S.-China trade war has hardened into a political and ideological battle that runs far deeper than tariffs and could take years to resolve.

Read more …

“(Claiming to be a Cherokee was a forgivable way of sharing — sharing useful identities for career advancement.)”

President of the Selfies (Kunstler)

Unlike the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren doesn’t radiate contempt, loathing, and horror at the task of mingling with the hoi polloi. Rather, she has become famous for staging lengthy sessions after campaign speeches to pose for selfies with her fans. The selfie-seekers, you will notice, are all women. It’s heartwarming as all get out. This is at the center of Senator Warren’s strategy for winning the next election: to cadge all of the women’s vote and become the President of all the women of the United States. It’s a shrewd strategy, to turn the election into a gender-bonding contest, but elections have turned on equally fatuous premises, probably more often than not.

Paradoxically, the lumbering President Trump, with his bay window belly, mystifying bouffant, fourth-grade vocabulary, and grab-them-by-the-pussy approach to romance, scored 53 percent of women’s votes last time around. Perhaps that was more a reflection of his opponent’s titanic loathsomeness than of Mr. Trump’s charms. But it only underscores Ms. Warren’s gambit: all she has to do is swing a generous majority of American women over to her side.

She is, in many ways, an exemplar of her sex. She’s made the best of her corn-fed Oklahoma looks. At 69, she capers energetically around the hustings in spanx and Nina McLemore jewel-toned, popped-collar jackets as though she were America’s yoga instructor, an appealing addition to her previous career as a distinguished Harvard law professor. She scores well on the feelings and sharing index, qualities that most men can only caricature. (Claiming to be a Cherokee was a forgivable way of sharing — sharing useful identities for career advancement.) And she has a palpable edge of anger about all the swindles and injustices in American life today, especially those spawned on Wall Street by the financial patriarchy — hey, who can argue with that one? If she has a husband (she has, Harvard law prof Bruce H. Mann) he might as well be hiding under a rock.

Read more …

Cowards. What, they’re French?

France Rejects Edward Snowden’s Asylum Request, Fears Major Fallout With US (ZH)

France’s foreign minister has indicated the country has dismissed former US National Security Agency contractor and leaker Edward Snowden’s asylum request because “it is not the time”. Snowden called on French President and former Rothschild banker Emmanuel Macron to grant him political asylum from the United States, after he’s been living in Russia since the 2013 bombshell leaks were released, having first fled from Hong Kong. “He asked for asylum in France, but also elsewhere, in 2013. At that time, France thought that it was not appropriate, I do not see anything that has changed Thursday, either from a political or a legal point of view,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French TV station CNews on Thursday.

Paris is skittish over the whole issue due to US pressure and what such a move would do to its close relationship with Washington. “An adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron hinted earlier this week that welcoming Snowden to France would lead to a major diplomatic fallout with the U.S.,” Politico Europe reported. The whistleblower, who this week published his memoir, has escaped US prosecution as a guest of Putin’s Russia. He previously said he would “love to see” Macron allow him to live in France. Snowden made a first asylum appeal to France in 2013, which was rejected, and another last week. “I am not asking for a parade. I’m not asking for a pardon,” he said in a recent interview. “What I’m asking for is a fair trial.”

Speaking with France’s Inter radio on Monday as part of a press junket to promote his new memoir, the former NSA contractor said “Protecting whistleblowers is not a hostile act,” adding “Welcoming someone like me is not an attack on the United States.” “I would like to return to the United States. That is the ultimate goal. But if I’m gonna spend the rest of my life in prison, the one bottom line demand that we have to agree to is that at least I get a fair trial. And that is the one thing the government has refused to guarantee because they won’t provide access to what’s called a public interest defense,” Snowden told CBS This Morning.

Read more …

Melzer says here: ““Trying to win any aspect of this case in the judicial arena has been a losing game for almost a decade..”

But that goes both ways. Governments haven’t been able to any more than those who are on Julian’s side. Obama was advised he had no chance in court. It took a highly partial and corrupt UK court to get the job done.

Julian Assange: Justice Denied (Sagir)

Technically, Julian Assange is supposed to be released from his prison cell at HMP Belmarsh on Sunday. Yet a British court ruled last week that he has to remain in prison after the custody period of his current jail term ends due to his “history of absconding.” Assange is no longer a serving prisoner but someone facing extradition. Why is Assange actually being held prisoner? Well, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer tells me that Assange’s case is not about law, but rather politics. He says: “Trying to win any aspect of this case in the judicial arena has been a losing game for almost a decade because, from the outset, this case has been decided politically. His right to a fair trial has been systematically violated by all involved states.

“If this were about applying the law, he would have never been convicted of bail violation simply for seeking — and receiving — diplomatic asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy. “If this were about applying the law, he would not be in extradition detention under a US indictment of espionage simply for doing investigative journalism.” It seems that the only thing Assange is on trial for is the publication of the Chelsea Manning leaks. Melzer says: “The only other charge against him is for allegedly trying to help Manning to decode a password, albeit unsuccessfully and without causing any harm whatsoever. “Clearly, that is not a serious crime by any standards, and certainly not an offence any prosecutor would spend substantial resources on.”

[..] after 100 days and counting, the UK has not even responded to my official letter yet and Assange’s state of health is reportedly deteriorating as we speak,” Melzer says. Melzer says he is “appalled” at how Britain is “simply ignoring” his report. He was mandated by the UN human rights council, which includes Britain, to report to states on their compliance with the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. Once Melzer investigates a case and makes an official finding that an act of torture has been committed, then they have to at least conduct an impartial and transparent investigation into the case, even if they come to different conclusions.

Read more …

 

Front page NY Post today. Brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 182019
 
 September 18, 2019  Posted by at 9:40 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


Henri Matisse Antibes 1908

 

Fed Concludes First Repo In A Decade Amid Liquidity Panic (ZH)
Big Banks Score Win As FDIC Proposes Easing Post-Crisis Derivatives Rules (R.)
Oil Steadies After Saudi Pledges To Restore Output Lost In Attacks (R.)
Without Accountability, There Can Never Be Trust in Our Government (Cates)
House Panel Asks Boeing CEO To Testify October 30 on 737 MAX (R.)
Ethiopian Crash Victims Want 737 MAX Documents From Boeing, FAA (R.)
Editorial Mistake My Ass (Mish)
Democrats Urge New Probe Of Kavanaugh, Impeachment Inquiry (R.)
Trudeau Reassures Allies Amid Alleged Spying Case (BBC)
Catastrophic Effects Of Working As A Facebook Moderator (G.)
US Government Is Suing Edward Snowden For His Book Profits (Verge)

 

 

Oh yeah, let’s save the bankers again….

Fed Concludes First Repo In A Decade Amid Liquidity Panic (ZH)

Update 4: It’s over: after a torrid 30 minutes in which the NY Fed first announced a repo operation, then announced the repo was canceled due to technical difficulties, then mysterious the difficulties went away just minutes later, at precisely 10:10am, the Fed concluded its first repo operation in a decade, which while not topping out at the $75 billion max, was nonetheless a significant $53.15 billion, split as follows: • $40.85BN with TSYs as collateral at a 2.1% stop out rate • $0.6BN with Agencies as collateral at a 3.0% stop out rate • $11.7BN with Mortgage-backed securities as collateral at a 2.1% stop out rate. While the Fed did not disclose how many banks participated in the operation, it is safe to say it was a sizable number.


Worse, the result from today’s unexpected repo operation, we can now conclude that in addition to $1.3 trillion in ‘excess reserves’, a Fed which is now cutting rates and will cut rates by 25bps tomorrow, the US financial system somehow found itself with a liquidity shortfall of $53 billion that almost paralyzed the interbank funding market. Oh, and for those wondering why the Fed did a repo, the answer is simple: it did not want to launch QE just yet. But make no mistake, once repo is insufficient, the Fed will have no choice but to escalate to the next step which is open market purchases. Which brings us to the bigger question of how long such overnight repos will satisfy the market, and how long before the next repo rate spike prompts the Fed to do the inevitable, and restart QE. At least president Trump will be delighted.

Read more …

And while we’re saving their multi-million bonuses, let’s throw them some more bones,..

Big Banks Score Win As FDIC Proposes Easing Post-Crisis Derivatives Rules (R.)

A U.S. banking regulator on Tuesday proposed easing a rule requiring banks to set aside cash to safeguard derivatives trades between affiliates, marking one of the biggest wins for Wall Street lenders under the business-friendly Trump administration. The proposal, by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, could potentially free $40 billion across the nation’s largest banks, according to a 2018 survey by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), the global trade group that has been lobbying for the rule change for years.


The proposal is subject to public comment and will likely face resistance from Democratic lawmakers and consumer groups, who have warned that chipping away at regulations put in place following the 2007-2009 financial crisis could sew the seeds of the next one. Countries across the globe introduced a slew of rules to rein in the global over-the-counter derivatives market after big bets on credit swaps brought firms including Lehman Brothers and AIG to their knees.

Read more …

Was there any damage at all? Didn’t I read that they hit a bunch of empty tanks?

Oil Steadies After Saudi Pledges To Restore Output Lost In Attacks (R.)

Oil prices were little changed on Wednesday, steadying after Saudi Arabia said it will restore by the end of the month production lost in weekend attacks on its facilities. Prices plummeted 6% on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said the country had managed to restore oil supplies to customers to where they stood before the attacks on its facilities that shut 5% of global oil output by drawing from its huge inventories. But tension in the region remained elevated after the United States said it believed the attacks on the world’s top oil exporter originated in southwestern Iran. Iran has denied involvement in the strikes.


Brent crude oil futures were flat at $64.55 a barrel by 0732 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures were down 15 cents, or 0.1%, to $59.19 a barrel, after sinking 5.7% on Tuesday. “Considering limited spare (production) capacity outside Saudi Arabia and risks of renewed attacks on Saudi energy infrastructure, a risk premium is likely to stay on oil prices in the foreseeable future,” UBS analysts said in a note. Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Tuesday that average oil production in September and October would be 9.89 million barrels per day and that the world’s top oil exporter would ensure full oil supply commitments to its customers this month.

Read more …

Not sure Bill Barr is your man.

Without Accountability, There Can Never Be Trust in Our Government (Cates)

The Watergate scandal, at its heart, was about political operatives working on behalf of the Nixon administration (informally known as “The Plumbers”) attempting to plant bugs in the phones of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, so they could spy on key Democratic campaign communications. A little-remembered fact is that bugs had been successfully planted earlier; the burglars were returning to plant a new set in the phones because the first set never worked properly. It was during this second foray into DNC headquarters in the middle of the night that they were caught by an observant security guard.

So the Watergate scandal was based on an attempt to spy on political opponents, but no evidence ever surfaced that any successful spying was actually done. The first set of listening devices never functioned, and the operatives were caught while trying to replace them. That won’t be the case in the Spygate scandal, because this wasn’t an off-the-books dirty tricks group like The Plumbers running an operation against the Trump campaign. This was the federal government itself, making use of the official engines of its intelligence and law enforcement agencies and surveillance courts to spy on a political campaign and, then, a presidency. And it’s because this scandal is so much worse than Watergate that the persons responsible for it must be held accountable for their actions.

[..] The crimes here amount to a deliberate attempt to subvert the federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies and turn them into political engines of partisan policy to shield political friends and destroy political enemies. After covering up serious crimes committed by their political friends, these key government officials used their offices to manufacture crimes to use as a pretext to investigate and punish their political enemies. Unless this behavior is punished with the utmost severity, no one will ever be able to place trust in the federal government. The ball of accountability will soon end up in the court of U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

Read more …

I for one have little faith in Congress in this case. Not that I have much faith in Congress in general.

House Panel Asks Boeing CEO To Testify October 30 on 737 MAX (R.)

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee formally asked Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg on Tuesday to testify on the now grounded 737 MAX that has been involved in two deadly crashes since October 2018 that killed 346 people. The panel’s chair, Representative Peter DeFazio, also asked John Hamilton, the chief engineer of Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes division, to appear. Both executives have been asked to testify on Oct. 30. Last week, DeFazio asked Muilenburg to make several employees available for interviews as part of a congressional probe into the design, development and certification of 737 MAX aircraft. “Boeing has received the Committee’s invitation and is reviewing it now. We will continue to cooperate with Congress and regulatory authorities as we focus on safely returning the MAX to service,” a Boeing representative said in a statement.

Read more …

But will they get them? Boeing will just claim they would reveal company secrets.

Ethiopian Crash Victims Want 737 MAX Documents From Boeing, FAA (R.)

A lawyer for victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 said on Tuesday he wants Boeing Co and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to hand over documents about the decision to keep the Boeing 737 MAX in the air after a deadly Lion Air crash last October. A week after Lion Air Flight 610 nose-dived into the Java Sea, killing all 189 aboard, the FAA warned airlines that erroneous inputs from an automated flight control system’s sensors could lead the jet to automatically pitch its nose down, but the agency allowed the jets to continue flying. Five months later, the same system was blamed for playing a role when ET302 crashed on March 10, killing all 157 passengers and crew and prompting a worldwide grounding of the 737 MAX that remains in place.


“The decisions to keep those planes in service are key,” Robert Clifford of Clifford Law Offices, which represents families of the Ethiopian crash victims, said at a status hearing before U.S. Judge Jorge Alonso in Chicago. Nearly 100 lawsuits have been filed against Boeing by at least a dozen law firms representing families of the Ethiopian Airlines crash victims, who came from 35 different countries, including nine U.S. citizens and 19 Canadians. Families of about 60 victims have yet to file lawsuits but plaintiffs’ lawyers said they anticipate more to come. Most of the lawsuits do not make a specific dollar claim, though Ribbeck Law Chartered has said its clients are seeking more than $1 billion.

Read more …

The entire Kavanaugh thing is empty, just two women trying to sell a book. Trump said he should sue them. But as a Supreme Court judge, perhaps he shouldn’t.

Editorial Mistake My Ass (Mish)

As details emerge in the New York Times Kavanaugh scandal, it’s very clear the NYT repeatedly made serious errors On September 14, the New York Times resurrected unsubstantiated and graphic rumors about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in a purposeful smear article Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not. The article was by disgraced NYT authors Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly to promote their upcoming book “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation.” I do not normally report on sleaze but to understand what the NYT did, I have to. Here is one controversial paragraph: “We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.”


The NYT later added this correction. “The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article.” Making matters worse for itself, the NYT came out and blamed it all on an “editing error”. Reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly said in an interview on MSNBC that they wrote in the draft of their Sunday Review piece that a woman who Kavanaugh was said to have exposed himself to while a student at Yale had told others she had no recollection of the alleged incident. Their editors, they say, removed the reference. “It was just sort of. . . in the haste of the editing process,” said Pogrebin.

Read more …

But this is where the non-story leads to. Kamala seeks a way to reinvent her campaign, the rest just follows.

Democrats Urge New Probe Of Kavanaugh, Impeachment Inquiry (R.)

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris on Tuesday urged a House of Representatives panel to investigate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, while a Democratic lawmaker filed an impeachment resolution in the wake of new allegations of sexual misconduct by the conservative judge when he was in college in the 1980s. The moves by Harris, one of 20 Democratic presidential candidates, and Representative Ayanna Pressley, a progressive on the left of the party, signaled impatience among some Democrats with congressional leaders unenthusiastic about pursuing Kavanaugh’s impeachment, though their efforts appeared unlikely to spur action.

Harris said in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler that the panel should “hold Mr. Kavanaugh accountable for his prior conduct and testimony.” Nadler on Monday faulted the FBI’s probe of prior sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh ahead of his narrow confirmation by the Senate in October 2018, saying in a radio interview it “apparently was a sham.” But Nadler also said his panel had its “hands full” with investigating Republican President Donald Trump. In her letter to Nadler, Harris suggested the House Judiciary Committee could create a task force and retain outside counsel if it did not have the time or resources to pursue an inquiry of Kavanaugh now.

Harris and several other Democratic presidential candidates called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment after the New York Times published an essay over the weekend detailing what it described as a previously unreported incident of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh. Others include former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro; U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker; South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke.

Read more …

Only a Five Eyes spy chief. And whaddaya know, there’s Bill Browder again. See from yesteday: The Magnitskiy Myth Exploded.

Trudeau Reassures Allies Amid Alleged Spying Case (BBC)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has moved to reassure allies in the wake of an alleged spying case with possible international implications. A senior intelligence official was charged last week with violating national security laws. Cameron Ortis had access to information coming from Canada’s global allies, the RCMP national police force said. Canada is in close contact with its intelligence partners over the case, Mr Trudeau says. “We are in direct communications with our allies on security,” the prime minister said while campaigning in Newfoundland on Tuesday. “We are also working with them to reassure them, but we want to ensure that everyone understands that we are taking this situation very seriously.” Canada is a member of the Five Eyes – the intelligence alliance that also includes the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand.


Mr Ortis, who was a director general with the police force’s intelligence unit, is accused of breaching the Security of Information Act and the Criminal Code. The charges filed against him include the “unauthorised communication of special operational information”, possessing a device or software “useful for concealing the content of information or for surreptitiously communicating, obtaining or retaining information”, and breach of trust by a public officer. [..] Mr Ortis was looking into allegations that Russian tax fraudsters had laundered millions of dollars through Canada, a US financier told Reuters. Bill Browder, a high-profile critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he had met Mr Ortis twice in Canada in 2017 after alerting the RCMP to the matter.

Read more …

What exactly would you say is Facebook’s role in our society? How about in your life?

Catastrophic Effects Of Working As A Facebook Moderator (G.)

They describe being ground down by the volume of the work, numbed by the graphic violence, nudity and bullying they have to view for eight hours a day, working nights and weekends, for “practically minimum pay”. A little-discussed aspect of Facebook’s moderation was particularly distressing to the contractors: vetting private conversations between adults and minors that have been flagged by algorithms as likely sexual exploitation. Such private chats, of which “90% are sexual”, were “violating and creepy”, one moderator said. “You understand something more about this sort of dystopic society we are building every day,” he added. “We have rich white men from Europe, from the US, writing to children from the Philippines … they try to get sexual photos in exchange for $10 or $20.”


Gina, a contractor, said: “I think it’s a breach of human rights. You cannot ask someone to work fast, to work well and to see graphic content. The things that we saw are just not right.” The workers, whose names have been changed, were speaking on condition of anonymity because they had signed non-disclosure agreements with Facebook. Daniel, a former moderator, said: “We are a sort of vanguard in this field … It’s a completely new job, and everything about it is basically an experiment.” John, his former colleague, said: “I’m here today because I would like to avoid other people falling into this hole. As a contemporary society, we are running into this new thing – the internet – and we have to find some rules to deal with it.

Read more …

Pay him in Bitcoin.

US Government Is Suing Edward Snowden For His Book Profits (Verge)

The Justice Department has filed a civil lawsuit against Edward Snowden that would recover all proceeds of his recently released memoir, the department announced on Tuesday. The charges coincide with the official publication of the book, which is titled Permanent Record. Snowden’s memoir was allegedly not submitted to the CIA or NSA for pre-publication review, a required practice among former employees of intelligence agencies. As such, the department considers the book a breach of Snowden’s fiduciary obligations, and names the publishers as co-defendants in the suit.


Given the still-classified programs and materials discussed in the memoir, it is unlikely that the book would have been approved for publication by the agencies. Snowden remains a de facto fugitive from the US government, and would likely face charges under the Espionage Act if he returned to the country. But the new civil case could nonetheless cause problems for Snowden, potentially enjoining his publishers from releasing any of the proceeds from the book. Crucially, the suit does not seek to block the release of Snowden’s memoir, as doing so would be illegal under the First Amendment.

Read more …

 

From Notes on the Next War, 1935

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 142019
 
 September 14, 2019  Posted by at 9:51 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Kazimir Malevich Spotrsmeny 1931

 

Saudi Arabia Oil Facilities Ablaze After Drone Strikes (BBC)
Julian Assange To Stay In Prison Over Absconding Fears (BBC)
Hopes Of Clean Break With EU Are Nonsense: Ex-Brexit Official (G.)
Scores Of Councils Say Food Shortages A Risk If UK Crashes Out Of EU (Ind.)
McCabe Lawyer Presses Justice Department To Drop Criminal Case (R.)
Tectonic Rumblings (Kunstler)
Latest Russian Spy Story Looks Like Another Elaborate Media Deception (Taibbi)
Felicity Huffman Shows Rich & Famous Can Get Away With ANYTHING (RT)
Crisis-Hit Boeing Readies Huge Effort To Return 737 MAX To The Skies (R.)
A Person The Most Powerful Government In The World Wanted To Go Away (G.)
‘If I Happen to Fall out of a Window, You Can Be Sure I Was Pushed’ (Spiegel)

 

 

Wonder who’s behind this, and who will get the blame. Not the same thing.

Saudi Arabia Oil Facilities Ablaze After Drone Strikes (BBC)

Drone attacks have set alight two major oil facilities run by the state-owned company Aramco in Saudi Arabia, state media say. Footage showed a huge blaze at Abqaiq, site of Aramco’s largest oil processing plant, while a second drone attack started fires in the Khurais oilfield. The fires are now under control at both facilities, state media said. A spokesman for the Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen said it had deployed 10 drones in the attacks. The military spokesman told al-Masirah TV, owned by the Houthi movement and based in Beirut, that further attacks could be expected in the future. Saudi officials have not yet commented on who could be behind the attacks.


“At 04:00 (01:00 GMT), the industrial security teams of Aramco started dealing with fires at two of its facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais as a result of… drones,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported. “The two fires have been controlled.” Abqaiq is about 60km (37 miles) south-west of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, while Khurais, some 200km further south-west, has the country’s second largest oilfield. The Abqaiq plant turns sour crude into sweet crude, producing up to 7 million barrels a day. Aramco says it is the world’s largest “crude oil stabilisation plant”. Saudi security forces foiled an attempt by al-Qaeda to attack the Abqaiq facility with suicide bombers in 2006. The Khurais oilfield came on line in 2009 and is the nation’s second-largest after Ghawar. Khurais reportedly produces 1.5 million barrels a day with estimated recoverable oil reserves of more than 20 billion barrels.

Read more …

A circus of evil clowns.

Julian Assange To Stay In Prison Over Absconding Fears (BBC)

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange is to remain in prison when his jail term ends because of his “history of absconding”, a judge has ruled. He was due to be released on 22 September after serving his sentence for breaching bail conditions. But Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard there were “substantial grounds” for believing he would abscond again. The Australian, 48, is fighting extradition to the US over allegations of leaking government secrets. He will face a full extradition hearing next year, starting on 25 February, after an extradition request was signed by the then home secretary Sajid Javid in June. Assange received a 50-week sentence in Belmarsh Prison, south-east London, after being found guilty of breaching the Bail Act in April.


He was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he took refuge in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations – which he has denied. District judge Vanessa Baraitser on Friday told Assange, who appeared by video-link: “You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end. “When that happens your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.” She said that his lawyer had declined to make an application for bail on his behalf, adding “perhaps not surprisingly in light of your history of absconding in these proceedings”. “In my view I have substantial ground for believing if I release you, you will abscond again.”

Read more …

“..what it does is it takes us legally out of the EU. But what it can’t do is undo all of the very close economic ties that we have with the EU..”

Hopes Of Clean Break With EU Are Nonsense: Ex-Brexit Official (G.)

Claiming a no-deal Brexit represents a clean break with the European Union is “nonsensical”, according to Philip Rycroft, the former permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU. Boris Johnson has promised to extricate the UK from the EU on 31 October “come what may” – and has hinted that he could try to get around legislation mandating him to request a Brexit delay. The Brexit party leader, Nigel Farage, whose party trounced the Tories in May’s European elections, has been urging the PM to deliver a “clean break Brexit” by leaving without a deal. But Rycroft, who was the most senior civil servant at DexEU until March this year, told the Guardian a no-deal Brexit would mark the beginning of a complex series of negotiations.

“It is not a clean break: what it does is it takes us legally out of the EU. But what it can’t do is undo all of the very close economic ties that we have with the EU, on which so much of our trade as a country depends. And nor would we want to undo all of the close security ties that we have with the EU,” he said. “And because of the importance of those ties both for the EU and the UK, it will remain hugely important to have those expressed through a formal relationship. In other words, we’re going to have to negotiate – and that negotiation on the future relationship starts with citizens, money and the border on the island of Ireland. “So the notion that no deal somehow means that we can turn our backs on the EU and break all our ties is just nonsensical.”


Rycroft spent part of his career at the Scottish Office and in the Scottish Executive before working in Nick Clegg’s office during the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government, and helping to coordinate Whitehall’s approach to devolution from the Cabinet Office. He gave a speech on Monday warning that politicians should be thinking carefully about how to protect the union with Scotland and Northern Ireland after Brexit – deal or no deal. “Clearly at the moment, political time has collapsed: everything has become very short term, everyone’s worrying about what’s happening not even next week but tomorrow,” he said. “In those circumstances it’s very different to be lifting their eyes to a more distant horizon. How do we manage as a country, if and when we come out of the EU?”

Read more …

Councils are powerless.

Scores Of Councils Say Food Shortages A Risk If UK Crashes Out Of EU (Ind.)

Scores of local councils have said a no-deal Brexit could result in food, medicine and fuel shortages in their constituencies – with many stating that crashing out without an agreement could lead to civil unrest and damage to social care. Official documents from 63 councils uncovered by the People’s Vote campaign have revealed local authorities fear that fundamental services could suffer and others could be cut if the UK crashes out of the EU. It follows the release of the government’s Operation Yellowhammer planning paper, which warned lorries could face delays of up to two and a half days at Dover, and that protest and public disorder would take up “significant” police resources.


Of the councils that released their Brexit “risk registers”, more than two-thirds said food shortages could grip their local area. Many also said this could lead to unchecked contaminated food entering the supply chain. More than half warned of medicine supplies being put at risk, while 59 per cent said fuel could also become scarce leading to a breakdown in their ability to deploy services – on top of the damage caused to the general public. And just under two-thirds said civil unrest, increased tensions between communities and public disorder could be sparked, including Dartford council which warned of an “increase in hate crime” as the area had “always been a target” for extreme right wing groups.

Read more …

What do you mean they can’t find evidence?

McCabe Lawyer Presses Justice Department To Drop Criminal Case (R.)

A lawyer for former FBI official Andrew McCabe pressed U.S. prosecutors on Friday to drop their politically sensitive case against him, citing reports that suggest they may be having trouble securing criminal charges. The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating McCabe, the FBI’s former No. 2 official, for more than 1-1/2 years over allegations he misled internal investigators about his decision to share internal communications with a reporter at the height of the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors and senior officials within the Justice Department, including Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, have recommended moving forward with criminal charges, according to sources familiar with the investigation.


But they might have encountered another hurdle. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that a federal grand jury investigating the case had been called back to consider evidence, but had left without returning an indictment. Grand juries are used in the U.S. legal system to assess the validity of possible criminal charges in major cases. To obtain an indictment, U.S. prosecutors typically need to convince the grand jury there is probable cause that a crime has been committed, which is a lower legal standard than that needed to secure a guilty verdict at trial. Proceedings are conducted in secret.

Read more …

How does Flynn pay his legal bills?

Tectonic Rumblings (Kunstler)

After Mr. Trump won the 2016 election, he moved to appoint General Flynn as his National Security Advisor. Within a few days, FBI director James Comey pulled off an entrapment gambit to incriminate General Flynn over a conversation he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — as if incoming high officials for foreign policy are not supposed to associate with foreign ambassadors. You understand now that the government had continued its surveillance of General Flynn for years, including tapping his phone when he moved into his White House office. That enabled Mr. Comey to set up a perjury trap. The General was successfully sandbagged this time, kicked offstage, and conned into a guilty plea. He’s been awaiting sentencing for more than a year.

A few months ago, General Flynn fired his old lawyers and hired Sidney Powell, an attorney who literally wrote the book on discovering prosecutorial misconduct in the case of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, whose prosecution over Mickey Mouse comped hotel bills was thrown out of court by the same Judge, Emmet Sullivan, who presides in the US versus Flynn. Ms. Powell has now declared that she intends to prove “egregious prosecutorial conduct” and suppression of exculpatory evidence against the DOJ lawyers who ran the case against General Flynn. The government never would have had a case if they revealed the FBI’s internal memos on General Flynn.


Attorney Powell is seeking to have the case thrown out of court. The FBI and the DOJ lawyers who conducted the prosecution have stonewalled the court on producing the documents at issue. Judge Sullivan may sense that he’s seen this movie before. The case took on a life of its own long before William Barr was confirmed as attorney general and one wonders if he has any role in ending this damaging farce. Legal protocol may require Judge Sullivan to complete the case one way or another. I wrote in this space a year ago that General Flynn had been subject to prosecutorial misconduct. Now, I’ll venture to assert that if Judge Sullivan does not throw the case out, Mr. Trump will step in and pardon General Flynn, and in doing so will make it clear exactly how and why he was run into court in the first place.

Read more …

Matt Taibbi on the story I covered early this week in Pulp Fiction Media

Latest Russian Spy Story Looks Like Another Elaborate Media Deception (Taibbi)

It’s a characteristic of third world countries to have the intelligence world and the media be intertwined enough that it’s not always clear whether the reporters and the reported-about are the same people. When you turn on the TV in Banana Republics, you’re never sure which group is talking to you. We’re now in that same paradigm in America. CNN has hired nearly a dozen former intelligence or counterintelligence officials as analysts in the last few years. Their big get was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, but they also now have former deputy FBI chief Andrew McCabe, former FBI counsel James Baker, and multiple former CIA, NSA, and NSC officials.


Meanwhile, former CIA director John Brennan has an MSNBC/NBC gig, as does former CIA and DOD chief of staff Jeremy Bash, and several other ex-spooks. The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, who doubles as the CEO of one of America’s largest intelligence contractors. This odious situation is similar to 2003-2004, when cable networks were tossing contributor deals to every ex-general and ex-spook they could find while they were reporting on the Iraq invasion. At one point, FAIR.org found that 52 percent of the sources in network newscasts were current or former government officials. The numbers now aren’t quite that skewed, but CNN and MSNBC both employ former senior intelligence officials who comment upon stories in which they had direct involvement, especially the Russia investigation.

Read more …

Don’t want to turn into a gossip site, but the difference between 2 weeks and 5 years is a tad much.

Felicity Huffman Shows Rich & Famous Can Get Away With ANYTHING (RT)

That actress Felicity Huffman will go to jail for only 14 days over college entrance fraud shows there are really two justice systems in the US: one for the rich, famous and politically correct – and another for everyone else.
The ‘Desperate Housewives’ star pleaded guilty to paying $15,000 to falsify her daughter Sophia’s SAT – a college admissions test – and was sentenced to two weeks in jail, 250 hours of community service, a $30,000 fine and a year of supervised release. Altogether, a slap on the wrist to a Hollywood celebrity. It did not take long for her case to be contrasted with the fate of Tanya McDowell, a Connecticut woman who falsified a residency document in 2011 to enroll her son in a better school. McDowell ended up getting jailed for five years for first-degree larceny, and would have faced an even longer sentence had she not made a deal with prosecutors.


Comparing the two cases is absolutely apples to apples. That McDowell was later charged with selling drugs to undercover police officers and given a concurrent sentence does not change the severity of her initial punishment – 130 times longer than was meted out to Huffman. Could it be that it’s because Huffman is white and McDowell is black, and the US justice system is irreparably racist, as a lot of people have argued? Another possibility could be Huffman’s fame, fortune – and politics. After her arrest in April, Huffman was revealed to have donated over $10,000 to Democrats, including over $1,500 to the Senate campaign of Kamala Harris – the tough-on-crime prosecutor in San Francisco and California, now running for president.

Read more …

What do you guys think, will all regulators comply? How about the public? Do you want to board a 737 MAX?

Crisis-Hit Boeing Readies Huge Effort To Return 737 MAX To The Skies (R.)

As Boeing sets its sights on winning approval to fly its 737 MAX within weeks, following a six-month safety ban, engineers around the world are rolling out plans for one of the biggest logistical operations in civil aviation history. Inside Boeing’s 737 factory at Renton, Washington, south of Seattle, workers have pre-assembled dedicated tool kits for technicians tasked with installing software updates and readying over 500 jets that have sat idle for months, insiders said. Across the globe, Boeing teams are hammering out delivery schedules – and financial terms – with airline customers who have been forced to cancel flights, cut routes and fly aging jetliners while they await the MAX’s return.

Although regulators must still approve the jets for flight, Boeing and airline staff and executives say the world’s largest planemaker is weeks into an elaborate blueprint for production, maintenance and delivery that one source said involves 1,500 engineers – as many as it takes to design a small new jet. Another likened the logistics to a nation “going to war.” Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Engineer John Hamilton called the previously unreported mobilization more like an elaborate “ballet,” which includes synchronizing 680 suppliers of everything from carbon brakes to pilot seatbelts.


[..] Once regulators certify the MAX for flight, Boeing will have to mobilize hundreds of mechanics and pilots to bring the roughly 250 stored aircraft out of hibernation. Airlines estimate the process – which includes installing new software, changing fluids and cycling the engines – will take 100 to 150 hours per jet, and months in total for Boeing. In one example highlighting the minute risks that could upend months of planning, a team of employees is analyzing years of data on December snowfall at an airport in rural Moses Lake, Washington – where Boeing has parked some 100 jets – to predict demand for aircraft anti-freeze and runway performance.

Read more …

I know Snowden needs to sell his book, but the Guardian? Really? The paper runs a smear campaign against Assange, without whom Snowden would be in a very different set-up.

A Person The Most Powerful Government In The World Wanted To Go Away (G.)

The world’s most famous whistleblower, Edward Snowden, says he has detected a softening in public hostility towards him in the US over his disclosure of top-secret documents that revealed the extent of the global surveillance programmes run by American and British spy agencies. In an exclusive two-hour interview in Moscow to mark the publication of his memoirs, Permanent Record, Snowden said dire warnings that his disclosures would cause harm had not come to pass, and even former critics now conceded “we live in a better, freer and safer world” because of his revelations.

In the book, Snowden describes in detail for the first time his background, and what led him to leak details of the secret programmes being run by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s secret communication headquarters, GCHQ. He describes the 18 years since the September 11 attacks as “a litany of American destruction by way of American self-destruction, with the promulgation of secret policies, secret laws, secret courts and secret wars”. Snowden also said: “The greatest danger still lies ahead, with the refinement of artificial intelligence capabilities, such as facial and pattern recognition. “An AI-equipped surveillance camera would be not a mere recording device, but could be made into something closer to an automated police officer.”


Read more …

Moscow is not such a bad place. It beats Belmarsh.

‘If I Happen to Fall out of a Window, You Can Be Sure I Was Pushed’ (Spiegel)

Book a suite in a luxury hotel in Moscow, send the room number encrypted to a pre-determined mobile number and then wait for a return message indicating a precise time: Meeting Edward Snwoden is pretty much exactly how children imagine the grand game of espionage is played. But then, on Monday, there he was, standing in our room on the first floor of the Hotel Metropol, as pale and boyish-looking as the was when the world first saw him in June 2013. For the last six years, he has been living in Russian exile. The U.S. has considered him to be an enemy of the state, right up there with Julian Assange, ever since he revealed, with the help of journalists, the full scope of the surveillance system operated by the National Security Agency (NSA).


For quite some time, though, he remained silent about how he smuggled the secrets out of the country and what his personal motivations were. Now, though, he has written a book about it. It will be published worldwide on September 17 under the title “Permanent Record.” Ahead of publication, Snowden spent over two-and-a-half hours patiently responding to questions from DER SPIEGEL.

Read more …

 

Vintage Australia map from 1773