Dorothea Lange White Angel Breadline San Francisco 1933
New daily numbers are almost quiet. But now the weekend’s mostly over.
— Kristina Jovanovski (@kjovano) July 5, 2020
I had this yesterday via the Brussels Times, but now the NYT has picked it up. Much bigger news.
Hundreds of scientists say there is evidence that the novel coronavirus in smaller particles in the air can infect people and are calling for the World Health Organization to revise recommendations, the New York Times reported on Saturday. The WHO has said the coronavirus disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks. In an open letter to the agency, which the researchers plan to publish in a scientific journal next week, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined the evidence showing smaller particles can infect people, the NYT said. “We are aware of the article and are reviewing its contents with our technical experts,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in an email reply to a Reuters request for comment.
Whether carried by large droplets that zoom through the air after a sneeze, or by much smaller exhaled droplets that may glide the length of a room, the coronavirus is borne through air and can infect people when inhaled, the scientists said, according to the NYT. However, the health agency said the evidence for the virus being airborne was not convincing, according to the NYT. “Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence,” Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead of infection prevention and control, was quoted as saying by the NYT.
Drones to track down people trying to swim across.
The border between Australia’s two most populous states will close from Tuesday for an indefinite period as authorities scramble to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus in the city of Melbourne. The decision announced on Monday marks the first time the border between Victoria and New South Wales has been shut in 100 years. Officials last blocked movement between the two states in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic. “It is the smart call, the right call at this time, given the significant challenges we face in containing this virus,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne. The move will, however, likely be a blow to Australia’s economic recovery as it heads into its first recession in nearly three decades.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the Victorian capital of Melbourne has surged in recent days, prompting authorities to enforce strict social-distancing orders in 30 suburbs and put nine public housing towers into complete lockdown. The state reported 127 new COVID-19 infections overnight, its biggest one-day spike since the pandemic began. It also reported two deaths, the first nationally in more than two weeks, taking the national tally to 106. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there was no timetable for reopening the border, which will be patrolled by the military to prevent illegal crossings from 11.59 p.m. local time on Tuesday. The state line is highly porous, with 55 roads, wilderness parks and rivers. Some businesses straddle both sides and several workers, and school children, commute daily.
The Defence Force are expected to assist NSW Police when the border closes with Victoria says NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller. Police will use drones to monitor the Murray River in case people try to swim into New South Wales. https://t.co/JOSU3rhwVb #coronavirus #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/8IZRMpPJCz
— 7NEWS Sydney (@7NewsSydney) July 6, 2020
We keep on returning to the same mega problem for China: nobody wants the yuan. Can they force-feed it to enough parties?
China must brace for a full-blown escalation of the struggle with the United States and prepare to gradually decouple the Chinese yuan from the US dollar, a former senior Chinese diplomat warned amid the continued downward spiral in relations between the world’s two largest economies. Zhou Li, a former deputy director of the Communist Party’s International Liaison Department – which manages relations with foreign political parties, organisations and elites – is the latest in a series of voices in China calling for the country to be ready for a currency split with the US amid growing signs of financial war in recent weeks.
“By taking advantage of the dollar’s global monopoly position in the financial sector, the US will pose an increasingly severe threat to China’s further development,” Zhou wrote in the full version of an article published on Saturday by the Beijing-based think tank Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University. China should now make preparations to insulate itself from “dollar hegemony and gradually achieve the decoupling of the renminbi from the US currency”, Zhou said. “The US dollar could become a major risk issue that ‘has us by the throat’.” Zhou’s comments come as Washington is set to impose new sanctions on Chinese officials and financial firms for their part in the new national security law for Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Autonomy Act, passed by Congress last week, requires the administration to punish foreign banks if they continue to do business with sanctioned officials, including possibly denying them access to the global US dollar payment system. His remarks also mirrored a growing consensus in Beijing that China should “give up the illusion” of friendship but instead prepare for a full-fledged conflict with the US. [..] China holds more than US$2 trillion in overseas investments, the vast majority in developed countries and denominated in US dollars. China also holds US$1.07 trillion in US Treasury securities as part of its US$3 trillion foreign exchange reserves.
China must accelerate the internationalisation of the yuan, speed up the increase in cross-border payments and clearing arrangements for the yuan, establish local currency settlement mechanisms with more countries, and create conditions to maximise the use of the Chinese currency in global industrial supply chains, Zhou said. His views echoed a call by Fang Xinghai, a vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, who warned in a recent speech that China must make urgent preparations for being cut off from the US dollar payment system. “Yuan internationalisation is a must to offset external financial pressure,” Fang said.
How to keep some focus on Biden while he’s hiding? Daily tidbits about VP candidates.
Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are getting most of the buzz, but former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is also getting a lot of attention in Joe Biden’s campaign as he considers who to pick as his running mate, sources say. Rice, who also served as former President Obama’s national security adviser, has seen her stock rise amid a series of crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic. “I know she’s very much in the mix,” a source close to the Biden campaign said. One factor to watch is Biden’s relationship with Rice. The two worked closely in the Obama administration, and personal chemistry is an underrated factor in vice presidential decisions.
“I know they have a good relationship — perhaps the best relationship of anyone on the list,” the source close to the Biden campaign said. “They’ve known each other for years, they’ve worked alongside each other and she’s been tested in a way that a lot of folks on the list just haven’t been.” Biden, who has committed to selecting a woman as his running mate, has said repeatedly that he is looking for someone who is “ready to be president on day one.” He is also under pressure by some Democrats to pick a woman of color after the death of George Floyd and the demonstrations that followed urging an end to systemic racism. Harris has widely been seen as the favorite, but sources said Rice should not be counted out.
“Everyone automatically thinks of Kamala when they think he needs to pick a woman of color. It’s become conventional wisdom,” said a source who worked in the Obama administration alongside Biden and Rice. “But if you look at Susan’s credentials, she makes perfect sense. She’s a rock star who has the confidence, stature and gravitas to be vice president.”
And then put people like Rice out on TV shows, to test how people respond to her, and to create the illusion that there’s activity going on. If she can throw some outrageous claims out there, all the better.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Sunday that President Trump picks Russian President Vladimir Putin over U.S. troops “even when it comes to the blood of American service members.” Rice, who also served as former President Obama’s national security adviser, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she believes Trump was briefed on the intelligence that Russia was offering bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition service members in Afghanistan. “The message to Vladimir Putin is you can kill American servicemen and women with absolute impunity,” she said. “This is an extraordinary revelation. The president of the United States has demonstrated absolutely callous disregard for the safety and security of American forces in a war zone and there’s no explanation for this.”
“Now we learn that even when it comes to the blood of American service members, this president picks Putin over our troops,” she added. The former national security adviser said intelligence is “very, very rarely” proven with “100 percent certainty” after administration officials have claimed the intelligence was contradictory. She said if advisers did not inform Trump of the intelligence last year, she thinks it would be “because they’re scared of him.” Rice, a possible contender for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick, also cited that “everything [Trump] has done since” his denial of the intelligence community’s findings of Russian interference in the 2016 election, has benefited Russia.
But can Rice really accuse Trump of risking US troops’ lives, while that angle has been largely discredited and Adam Schiff’s role has not?
Top committee staff for Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, were briefed in February on intelligence about Russia offering the Taliban bounties in Afghanistan, but he took no action in response to the briefing, multiple intelligence sources familiar with the briefing told The Federalist. The intelligence was briefed to Schiff’s staff during a congressional delegation, or CODEL, trip to Afghanistan in February. Schiff, who has acknowledged President Donald Trump was never briefed on the so-called intelligence, has thus far refused to disclose that his staff was personally briefed. The revelation raises serious questions that Schiff is once again politicizing, and perhaps even deliberately misrepresenting, key data for partisan gain.
Asked by a reporter Tuesday if he had any knowledge of the Russia story prior to the New York Times report, Schiff said “I can’t comment on specifics.” Schiff’s recent complaints that Trump took no action against Russia in response to rumors of Russian bounties are curious given that Schiff himself took no action after his top staff were briefed by intelligence officials. As chairman of the intelligence committee, Schiff had the authority to immediately brief the full committee and convene hearings on the matter. Schiff, however, did nothing. He did not brief his committee on the matter, nor did he brief the gang of 8, which consists of top congressional leadership in both chambers.
Adam Schiff on Bob Mueller.
Attorney General William Barr’s team was in for a shock when it met with special counsel Robert Mueller before his report was released, according to a forthcoming book. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin wrote about Barr’s “first chance” to assess the Russia investigation in early March 2019 in True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump, an excerpt of which was published last week by the New Yorker. He described a “fairly relaxed session” in which Mueller “gave a brief introduction” to Barr and his staff, who later reflected on how the former FBI director didn’t live up to expectations.
“Later, Barr’s team noted that Mueller looked tired and old. Because Mueller had been the focus of so much public attention for nearly two years and said so little in public, he had taken on an almost mythic status, even among people who once knew him well, like Barr. To see him after this exhausting enterprise was startling. He was an old seventy-four,” Toobin wrote in the book that is set for release in August. They weren’t the only ones.
One prominent Democrat, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, said in a recent podcast that he was surprised by Mueller’s shaky testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees in July 2019 after his report was released. The California Democrat agreed when asked whether he was “shocked” during a Daily Beast podcast last month. “I have known Bob Mueller for a long time. I have tremendous respect for him. I think he is just an amazing human being and public servant,” Schiff said. “He was not the man that I knew just in terms of his strength of presence, and so, it was quite surprising.
“We are not going to pay back this debt, and this is global. Nobody is even considering trying to pay back the debt..”
Three time best-selling book author Nomi Prins says long before the Covid 19 crisis, the global economy was faltering big time. The Fed stepped in with the start of massive money printing in late 2019 to save the day. Prins explains, “We were already in crisis mode as I mentioned at the end of my last book going into 2019.” What did we see at the end of 2019? We saw this pivot, and I call it phase two. . . . Central banks had pivoted to easing mode. . . . Come September, October, November and December, the Fed is producing repo operations. Those are short-term lending operations that are supposed to be the purview of the banks . . . . The Fed is not supposed to get involved, but it did. The Fed had all kinds of excuses. It said it was not QE, but it was. . . . The debt at the end of 2019 for the world was three times GDP. For every $3 borrowed, only $1 of economic activity occurred. That’s what we started 2020 with. Throw a pandemic into that . . . and you have a long drawn out financial and economic crisis.”
Now, the money printing has gone into overdrive to save the system from the virus crisis. The social and economic damage, according to Prins, is profound and not going away. Prins points out,
“We are not going to pay back this debt, and this is global. Nobody is even considering trying to pay back the debt that has been created. Let’s think about why that debt has been created. It’s not just because the economy slowed down. That’s one reason and kind of an excuse. The reality is the Fed is on steroids, and other central banks are on steroids . . . throughout the world in a larger number and larger magnitude than in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. This means all this new debt created is even cheaper than the debt created going into the 2008 crisis. So, more debt, created more cheaply, means less incentive to pay it back and more incentive to push it down the road and grow it. You’ve got this snowball of debt rolling down this high mountain, and it’s rolling and growing and getting bigger. The mountain, which is the main street economy, is coming down as the snow ball is coming down, and the main street economy itself, that foundation, is really shaky. . . . How does this end? It ends with us, the foundation, which is the main street economy, by both that snowball of debt and the avalanche of the mountain. That’s going to be a multi-decade problem.”
Prins says this next stage has a brand new name and explains, “I call this a ‘Permanent Distortion.’ I have not used this term in prior books, but I am using it because . . . the disconnect between financial assets, equity markets and the real economy . . . has become massive…
A state holding company modeled after Roosevelt’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
Our economy after Covid-19 could turn out to be merely an uglier, more distorted version of the lopsided system we have today. We may find that we’ve stumbled into an “Amazon recovery”, where big businesses and corporate behemoths hold an even greater share of the market, billionaires get richer (and more numerous) and inequality is supercharged. Like a handful of other corporate giants, Amazon has seen its business expand during this crisis. In the US, the company took on 100,000 new workers between mid-March and mid-April, before looking to create another 75,000 posts. Its stock price has soared by more than 50% since the beginning of April, and Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has seen his wealth increase by $30bn (£24bn) during the pandemic alone. The global billionaire class have never had it so good.
The government must ensure the recovery works for everyone, not just for the richest. A large part of the answer lies in a move to block corporate consolidation and predatory acquisition, preventing the leveraged buyout of the economy. This could take the form of a state holding company, with a mandate to support struggling SMEs directly through the coronavirus era and to prevent the destruction of what remains of the UK’s local small-business sector. It would target businesses that were cash-positive before March and can be once again, when the crisis has passed. Later, where appropriate, this holding company could relaunch many of these rescued businesses under conditions of worker or community ownership, or as mission-driven social enterprises.
In this way, the holding company could become an important instrument in a green transition, building community wealth by supporting local economic activity. A democratic society can’t flourish under conditions of unrestrained inequality, and will be even more imperilled in an economy where wealth and power are further concentrated. The only alternative to an unjust recovery is to use state power to protect smaller firms and create a more democratic economy where ownership and economic rewards are more widely shared. History can be our guide here. A similar move lay at the heart of the US response to the economic crisis of the 1930s. Under Franklin D Roosevelt, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a state holding company, was permitted to acquire failing businesses until they could be relaunched during the recovery from the Great Depression. One of the engines of the New Deal, the RFC became not only the biggest bank in the US, but also the single largest investor in the country.
Bail hearing. If she gets bail, that will be a very large scandal.
Prosecutors have asked a judge to schedule a Friday court appearance in New York for Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend and longtime associate of the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell was arrested on Thursday on U.S. charges of luring underage girls so that Epstein could sexually abuse them. The FBI arrest of the British socialite was the latest twist in the mystery of Epstein, who went from a high school math teacher to a high-flying lifestyle of private Caribbean islands and powerful connections that his victims say allowed him to abuse minors with impunity.
Maxwell, 58, was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire, where she had been laying low since December, the FBI said last week. In a letter on Sunday to Judge Alison Nathan at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, acting United States Attorney Audrey Strauss said Maxwell’s defense lawyer, Christian Everdell, has requested a Friday, July 10, bail hearing. Maxwell is charged with four criminal counts related to procuring and transporting minors for illegal sex acts and two of perjury, according to the indictment by federal prosecutors in New York.
Here is my call with the 24/7 automated inmate line for the jail holding Ghislaine Maxwell… pic.twitter.com/n7SBHYMqNm
— Spiro (@o_rips) July 4, 2020
One man’s misery is another man’s good fortune.
As protesters target statues around the nation, one town is becoming a statue sanctuary city for monuments honoring select figures. Newton Falls, Ohio City Manager David M. Lynch has signed a proclamation that states that the city will accept and display spurned statues of people including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and certain other prominent figures.
“A Proclamation declaring that Newton Falls is a Statuary Sanctuary City and declaring a general amnesty for George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant, Patrick Henry, Francis Scott Key, Theodore Roosevelt and Christopher Columbus as represented by the statues of these great leaders, and volunteering to accept these statues that have been removed throughout the USA and place them in a location of honor in our community,” the proclamation says, according to a copy posted by 21-WFMJ. “They founded our nation, they ended slavery, and established and protected our national parks,” Lynch said, according to Fox 8. “Yes, they had warts but they laid the foundation for what we have today,” he said.
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Assange. Don’t miss.
I wonder if it will allow me to post this one. Fingers crossed! pic.twitter.com/ZLTl9jUtO6
— Justice Seeker (@helena_jennie) July 5, 2020
This is brilliant. Who on earth made this happen?
— Mehdi Omaïs (@MehdiOmais) July 5, 2020
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