Sergio Larraín Valparaiso Passage Bavestrello 1952
Just in time delivery.
Facebook has reversed its election-season policy of prioritizing mainstream media stories in News Feed after a similar move from Twitter. This is as Mark Zuckerberg is sued for allegedly helping tip the vote in favor of Joe Biden. An algorithm tweak that saw Facebook users deluged with mainstream media stories following last month’s elections has been reversed, the social media behemoth told the New York Times on Wednesday, insisting that the change – which significantly boosted traffic for establishment outlets like CNN, NPR, and the Times itself while suppressing alt-media and right-wing sites – was never meant to be permanent.
Boosting the importance of “news ecosystem quality,” essentially a reputational score applied to news outlets, was “a temporary change we made to help limit the spread of inaccurate claims about the election,” Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne told the outlet. He explained that the platform was still prioritizing so-called “authoritative and informative news” on “important global topics like elections, Covid-19 and climate change.” The tech giant opted to return to pre-election policies despite the protests of some employees who preferred the “nicer news feed,” sources present at one post-vote Facebook meeting claimed, describing the prioritization of establishment sources as one of several “break glass measures” designed for the care and feeding of a desirable post-election narrative.
Twitter also admitted that adding ‘context’ to its Trending section – which essentially turned the feature into a yawn-inducing list of mainstream media headlines accompanied by the ‘correct’ opinion users should have about them – made it “less relevant for many people’s interests.” Both platforms liberally applied “misinformation” warnings to content questioning the integrity of last month’s election results, despite allowing – even encouraging – users to question the legitimacy of 2016’s presidential election for years after the fact. Supporters of President Donald Trump cried foul, especially after dozens of the commander-in-chief’s own posts regarding alleged election fraud were censored, hidden, and otherwise suppressed.
Twitter and Facebook will now deliver this sort of insanity.
Lawmakers are raising questions about whether the attack on the federal government widely attributed to Russia constitutes an act of war. The hacking may represent the biggest cyberattack in U.S history, and officials are scrambling to respond. The response is further complicated by the presidential transition — President Trump has yet to comment publicly on the attack — and the fact that the U.S. has no clear cyber warfare strategy. “We can’t be buddies with Vladimir Putin and have him at the same time making this kind of cyberattack on America,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said of the attack during an interview Wednesday on CNN. “This is virtually a declaration of war by Russia on the United States and we should take that seriously.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday compared the incident to Russian bombers “flying undetected over the entire country,” and harshly criticized Trump for not doing enough to counter the attack. “Our national security is extraordinarily vulnerable,” Romney said on SiriusXM’s “The Big Picture with Olivier Knox.” “In this setting, not to have the White House aggressively speaking out and protesting and taking punitive action is really, really quite extraordinary.” Hackers believed to be part of a nation state have had access to federal networks since March after exploiting a vulnerability in updates to IT group SolarWinds’s Orion software. The hack has compromised the Treasury, State and Homeland Security departments and branches of the Pentagon, though it is expected to get worse. SolarWinds counts many more federal agencies as customers, along with the majority of U.S. Fortune 500 companies.
On Thursday, Politico reported that the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, was also compromised, further raising the stakes. Lawmakers say the scope of the attack, widely presumed to be by Russia, which has denied responsibility, demands some kind of response. “No response is not appropriate, and that’s been our national policy by and large for the past 10 or 15 years,” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), the co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), said during an event hosted by Defense One on Thursday. “I want somebody in the Kremlin, sitting around that table to say, ‘wait a minute boss, if we do this we are liable to get whacked in some way,’ and right now they are not making that calculus.”
Time for questions. High time.
Newsom’s decision to reimpose lockdowns in light of the evidence we have today has left some California public officials puzzled. “During the first Shelter in Place order, which I wholeheartedly endorsed, the virus was brand new and had the capability of spreading exponentially due to zero immunity and people’s complete lack of awareness,” San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow recently observed on the county’s website. “[That order] was very much consistent with my long-held views about the judicious use of power.…However, I very quickly rescinded my initial orders shuttering society and focused my new orders on the personal behaviors that are driving the pandemic… .” Morrow implied that many of the actions being taken suggest California officials have learned little since the spring.
“Just because one has the legal authority to do something, doesn’t mean one has to use it, or that using it is the best course of action,” he wrote. “What I believed back in May, and what I believe now, is the power and authority to control this pandemic lies primarily in your hands, not mine.” Morrow was blunt in his appraisal of the restrictions being imposed across the Golden State. “I’m not sure we know what we’re doing,” he wrote. “I look at surrounding counties who have been much more restrictive than I have been, and wonder what it’s bought them.” Morrow appears to have gleaned an insight once observed by the economist Milton Friedman. “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results,” Friedman famously observed.
With every passing week the results of government lockdowns become more clear. They cause tremendous and widespread harms—no one disagrees on this point—but the supposed benefits of the policies remain tenuous. Despite the bevy of evidence they possess, lawmakers continue to embrace restrictions because of bad incentives. The great economist Ludwig von Mises noted long ago that a great deal of modern social conflict is a struggle over who gets to design the world, individuals or authorities. Mises believed that individuals, if left to their own devices, would generally make rational decisions based on their own self interest. This is why he saw few things as dangerous as central planners who seek to supplant individual planning with their own (despite their knowledge limitations) in an effort to create a more perfect society.
“The planner is a potential dictator who wants to deprive all other people of the power to plan and act according to their own plans,” Mises wrote in Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis. “He aims at one thing only: the exclusive absolute pre-eminence of his own plan.” The Washington Post reported yesterday that nearly 8 million Americans have slipped into poverty since summer. When one considers the damage government lockdowns have wrought compared to the positive results they’ve achieved, one begins to see why Mises saw the unchecked power of authorities as such a threat.
A new study by Yale University has found that critical Covid-19 patients disproportionately possess so-called ‘autoantibodies’ that weaponize their immune systems against them, making their condition far worse. Researchers used an advanced screening technique on 170 hospitalized patients to detect “autoantibodies” that inflict collateral damage on the patient by attacking their own organs and immune system as opposed to targeting the virus. They compared the antibodies to those who had milder or asymptomatic infections, as well as those who had not been infected. In the hospitalized Covid-19 patients, they found autoantibodies – such as interferons, natural killer cells, and T cells – that could disrupt the work of the body’s frontline immune system troops, which had essentially been made to defect to the enemy, on the viral side.
The presence of autoantibodies was repeatedly detected in the most critical Covid-19 patients, and tests on mice indicated that the autoantibodies likely exacerbated the disease. Unfortunately, the researchers did not find any Covid-19 specific autoantibodies that might alert medical staff to an impending, developing severe case of Covid-19 in patients. The mystery surrounding the varying severity of the disease remains, but the research suggests that people with pre-existing autoantibodies in their systems are likely at higher risk of a severe bout of Covid-19. The research, which has yet to be peer reviewed, supports the idea that, for some unfortunate patients at least, Covid-19 could well be considered an autoimmune disease triggered by the coronavirus.
Several previous studies revealed that patients without a history of autoimmune disease had been found to have developed these autoantibodies after contracting Covid-19. Elsewhere, other research found that patients with severe Covid-19 infections can also develop autoantibodies to interferons – another key component of humans’ ability to fight viral infections.
Yes, sure, Durham is investigating, but…
President Donald Trump has vented his fury at late Senator John McCain, following the release of newly declassified text messages from former FBI agent Peter Strzok indicating that McCain leaked the infamous ‘dirty dossier’ to legendary journalist Carl Bernstein.’Check out last in his class John McCain, one of the most overrated people in D.C.’ Trump tweeted late on Wednesday of the Arizona Republican who died of brain cancer in 2018, linking to a report on the new messages. The text messages, released by Republican Senators Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley on Wednesday, include a January 9, 2017 exchange between Strzok and Lisa Page, then the FBI lawyer with whom he was having an affair.
‘Carl Bernstein (yes that Carl) called [Office of Public Affairs], said he got a ‘dossier’ from McCain,’ Strzok texted Page, who quickly replied: ‘Awesome, let Carl run it down then.’ McCain aide David Kramer has previously testified that he leaked British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier to journalists including Bernstein. Bernstein, the former Washington Post reporter who broke the Watergate scandal alongside Bob Woodward, had a byline on the January 12, 2017 CNN report that revealed the existence of the so-called ‘dirty dossier’. The dossier, which included salacious allegations, was funded in part by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Some of its allegations have been discredited, and others remain unproven.
The dossier became a key piece of intelligence under-girding Strzok’s ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ FBI probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. Strzok, who also ran the FBI’s ‘Midyear Exam’ probe into Clinton’s private email server, later joined Special Counsel Robert Muller’s team, along with Page. Both Strzok and Page left the FBI in disgrace after their secret love affair was discovered by supervisors. Mueller’s probe failed to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. The legality of the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation is now the subject of a separate probe, led by US Attorney John Durham, who himself was appointed as a special counsel earlier this month.
The new text messages revealed on Wednesday also suggest that the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe was opened earlier that has been officially admitted. A Justice Department Inspector General report in December 2019 claimed that the FBI opened its Trump-Russia investigation on July 31, 2016, after receiving a tip from an Australian diplomat. However, a Stzrok text message to Page on July 28, 2017, the same day the Australian tip was received, says he wants to discuss ‘[o]ur open C[ounter-]I[ntelligence] investigations relating to Trump’s Russian connections’.
“I would definitely say at a minimum Steele’s reports should be viewed as intended to influence as well as to inform.”
A report filled with unverified claims about Donald Trump that prompted a probe into his alleged ties to Russia, was tailored to score points with the press, ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok suggests, in a recently declassified message. Senate Republicans on Thursday released a new batch of text messages from Strzok, who was fired by the FBI in 2018 after internal communications showed that he wanted to use the agency’s investigation into Russian collusion as an “insurance policy” to attack Trump if he won the White House. In one newly revealed message dated September 23, 2016, Strzok appears to acknowledge that the dodgy dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, and later used by the FBI to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump campaign, could at the very least be used to create a media narrative.
Referring to a Yahoo article based on an unnamed source that alleged Trump campaign adviser Carter Page attended a secret summit in Moscow with two Kremlin insiders, Strzok wrote: “I would definitely say at a minimum Steele’s reports should be viewed as intended to influence as well as to inform.” The FBI ended its relationship with Steele after it became clear that he was leaking information to the press. However, the agency failed to inform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that Steele had been a source for the Yahoo article, which was used to corroborate the dossier and obtain a warrant to spy on Page. In January 2020, a court ruled that two of the four warrant applications submitted by the FBI to snoop on Page were “invalid.”
Another newly-released Strzok message, from January 12, 2017, shows that the FBI recorded a phone call between former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and an unnamed executive at Fox News. Notably, the Justice Department never obtained a warrant to spy on Papadopoulos or Fox, and likely used a so-called National Security Letter to carry out the surveillance.
“..America’s own domestic enemies, who must be neutralized first before we’re capable of dealing with outsiders..”
The trouble is, Mr. Trump actually does have the evidence, and he intends to use it after four years of being remorselessly fucked around by his antagonists. So, the nation is at the point in this long, winding drama that has become a fight to the death and there will be no rituals of torch-passing just to keep up appearances that everything is functioning normally. Mr. Trump has the evidence of widespread, yes widespread, ballot fraud. He is the president, after all, and he has all the information. As he’s said more than once, he’s caught them all. And they know it. Of course, the CIA and the FBI, those pillars of the Intel Community, are still trying to withhold what they can, but the president is not having it.
He’s taking away the CIA’s most precious asset: its resources for making mischief on-the ground — its airplane fleet and its armaments, handing them over to the Pentagon — reducing the CIA to the simple task of analyzing signals from the world scene. And so, the CIA has been refusing to cooperate with the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, as a last gasp to preserve its long-running illicit prerogatives. That will eventually trigger the president’s invocation of the 2018 Executive order 13848, allowing, at long last, the arrest and prosecution of many desperate characters who tried to run away with the US Government. But probably not before the last legal avenues have been traveled: Sidney Powell’s case against the Dominion vote system in the Supreme Court, a long-shot like all the other cases that the court is loath to touch..
[..] and the business of the alternate electoral college slates to be hashed out in the Senate on January 6, Vice-President Mike Pence, presiding. Democrats and their coastal elite supporters are not going to like it. If they call out their Antifa troops, those feckless weenies with their hoisted cell phones and stupid umbrellas are going to be crushed this time, not indulged like three-year-olds. The wild-card all of a sudden is what the nation will also do about the foreign actors reportedly messing around with the government’s most critical computer systems. China? Iran? Russia? They’re a match for America’s own domestic enemies, who must be neutralized first before we’re capable of dealing with outsiders. The gyre widens.
“The error was to steal too many votes. This grand theft indicts the whole system, that has always been corrupt.”
China, Russia and Iran are the top three existential “threats” to the U.S., according to the National Security Strategy. Three features distinguish the top three. They are all sovereign powers. They are under varying degrees of sanctions. And they are the top three nodes of the 21st century’s most important, evolving geopolitical process: Eurasia integration. What do the three sovereigns see when they examine the dystopia that took over Exceptionalistan? They see, once again, three – discombobulated – nodes in conflict: 1) the post-historic Pacific and Atlantic coasts; 2) the South – a sort of expanded Dixieland; and 3) the Midwest – what would be the American heartland.
The hyper-modern Pacific-Atlantic nodes congregate high-tech and finance, profit from Pentagon techno-breakthroughs and benefit from the “America rules the waves” ethos that guarantees the global primacy of the U.S. dollar. The rest of America is largely considered by the Pacific-Atlantic as just a collection of flyover states: the South – which regards itself as the real, authentic America; and the Midwest, largely disciplined and quite practical-minded, squeezed ideologically between the littoral powerhouses and the South. Superstructure, though, is key: no matter what happens, whatever the fractures, this remains an Empire, where only a tiny elite, a de facto plutocratic oligarchy, rules.
It would be too schematic, even though essentially correct, to assert that in the presidential election, invisible campaigner Joe Biden represented the Pacific-Atlantic nodes, and Trump represented the whole South. Assuming the election was not fraudulent – and that remains a big “if” – the Midwest eventually swung based on three issues. 1) Trump, as much as he relied on a sanctions juggernaut, could not bring back manufacturing jobs home. 2) He could not reduce the military footprint across the Greater Middle East. 3) And, before Covid-19, he could not bring down immigration. Everything that lies ahead points to the irreconcilable – pitting the absolute majority that voted Dem in the Atlantic-Pacific nodes versus the South and a deeply divided Midwest. As much as Biden-Harris is bound to isolate the South even more, their prospects of “pacifying” the Midwest are less than zero.
Whose ground control? Beyond the raucous altercations on whether the presidential election was fraudulent, these are the key factual points. 1) A series of rules in mostly swing states were changed, through courts, bypassing state legislatures, without transparence, before the election, paving the way to facilitate fraud schemes. 2) Biden was de facto coronated by AP, Google and Twitter even before the final, official result, and weeks before the electoral college vote this past Monday. 3) Every serious, professional audit to determine whether all received and tabulated votes were valid was de facto squashed. In any Global South latitude where the empire did “interfere” in local elections, color revolution-style, this set of facts would be regarded by scores of imperial officials, in a relentless propaganda blitz, as evidence of a coup.
On the recent Supreme Court ruling, a Deep State intel source told me, “the Supreme Court did not like to see half the country rioting against them, and preferred the decision be made by each state in the House of Representatives. That is the only way to handle this without jeopardizing the union. Even prominent Democrats I know realize that the fix took place. The error was to steal too many votes. This grand theft indicts the whole system, that has always been corrupt.”
‘The Immaculate Deception’
Dr. Peter Navarro released a report on Thursday related to the 2020 election titled “The Immaculate Deception: Six Key Dimensions of Election Irregularities.” “From the findings of this report, it is possible to infer what may well have been a coordinated strategy to effectively stack the election deck against the Trump-Pence ticket,” the report states. “Indeed, the observed patterns of election irregularities are so consistent across the six battleground states that they suggest a coordinated strategy to, if not steal the election outright, strategically game the election process in such a way as to ‘stuff the ballot box’ and unfairly tilt the playing field in favor of the Biden-Harris ticket.” The report argues that the election results could shift to a win for President Trump, even if just some of the ballots related to “identified election irregularities” were tossed out as unlawful.
“The ballots in question because of the identified election irregularities are more than sufficient to swing the outcome in favor of President Trump should even a relatively small portion of these ballots be ruled illegal,” the report states. Navarro, who advises President Trump as the Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, hosted a call on Thursday “in his capacity as a private citizen” to speak about his findings, according to a press release. The report warns that without a rigorous investigation, many Americans will consider a Joe Biden presidency to be illegitimate: “Absent a thorough investigation prior to Inauguration Day, a cloud and a stain will hang over what will be perceived by many Americans as an illegitimate Biden administration,” the report says.
“By the close of trading on December 21, index funds, ETFs, and other index-tracking strategies will have purchased Tesla shares valued at nearly $220 billion..”
Tesla is entering the S&P 500 with a stupendously high valuation and will likely be ranked sixth in the index. Traditional cap-weighted indices, such as the S&P 500, are structured to buy high and sell low—and Tesla is a prime example of this maxim. The eightfold increase in Tesla’s share price since its March low meets our two-part definition of a bubble: 1) implausible assumptions are needed to justify its valuation, and 2) buyer interest is based on a great narrative rather than being supported by a conventional valuation model. Our research shows that a continuation of Tesla’s 2020 share-price performance is vulnerable on two additional fronts: 1) as a top-dog stock (top 10 market-cap stocks), the odds are against its remaining a top-dog stock, and 2) as an addition to the S&P 500, history indicates it is likely to underperform the market (S&P 500) in the year after entry.
[..] On November 16, S&P Dow Jones Indices announced that Tesla will (finally) join the prestigious S&P 500 Index on December 21. From the beginning of 2020 to the announcement date, Tesla’s share price rose 400% from $83.67 to $408.09. Most of that run-up occurred after the media began speculating in March about Tesla’s likely addition to the index. From the announcement date through December 7, Tesla’s share price rose another 49% to $608.32. That’s an eightfold increase from its March low. Given Tesla’s very large market-cap, the US Index Committee, which maintains the S&P 500, did consider a gradual transition into the index rather than adding the company’s full weight at one time.
Currently about $11 trillion in assets track the index,1 and a substantial portion will seek to buy Tesla at the exact closing price on December 21. On December 1 the Index Committee announced that Tesla will be added all in one go, which prompted another 10% share-price increase the following week. The result is that founder Elon Musk now has the second-largest fortune in history. For now, only Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is wealthier. Tesla will be the largest stock to enter the S&P 500 in the history of the index, by both rank (likely the sixth largest company in the index2) and absolute market capitalization ($608 billion as of the December 7, 2020, market close). By the close of trading on December 21, index funds, ETFs, and other index-tracking strategies will have purchased Tesla shares valued at nearly $220 billion, most seeking to trade at the opening price.
To make way for this purchase, these funds and strategies will sell a similar dollar amount from the other 505 stocks in the index (corporate actions have pushed the number of S&P 500 holdings to 505 names). At well under 1% of the outstanding market-cap of these companies, the requisite sales are not likely to precipitate major price moves. Because Tesla’s addition to the index is not a secret, we can comfortably surmise that hedge fund managers and other liquidity suppliers have already stockpiled most of the $220 billion and are ready to supply the shares to the indexers for this largest single trade in history. What does it all mean for investors?
“A self-funding national infrastructure bank..”
A self-funding national infrastructure bank modeled on the “American System” of Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt would help solve not one but two of the country’s biggest problems. Millions of Americans have joined the ranks of the unemployed, and government relief checks and savings are running out; meanwhile, the country still needs trillions of dollars in infrastructure. Putting the unemployed to work on those infrastructure projects seems an obvious solution, especially given that the $600 or $700 stimulus checks Congress is planning on issuing will do little to address the growing crisis. Various plans for solving the infrastructure crisis involving public-private partnerships have been proposed, but they’ll invariably result in private investors reaping the profits while the public bears the costs and liabilities. We have relied for too long on private, often global, capital, while the Chinese run circles around us building infrastructure with credit simply created on the books of their government-owned banks.
Earlier publicly-owned U.S. national banks and U.S. Treasuries pulled off similar feats, using what Sen. Henry Clay, U.S. statesman from 1806 to 1852, named the “American System” – funding national production simply with “sovereign” money and credit. They included the First (1791-1811) and Second (1816-1836) Banks of the United States, President Lincoln’s federal treasury and banking system, and President Franklin Roosevelt’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) (1932-1957). Chester Morrill, former Secretary of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, wrote of the RFC: [I]t became apparent almost immediately, to many Congressmen and Senators, that here was a device which would enable them to provide for activities that they favored for which government funds would be required, but without any apparent increase in appropriations. . . . [T]here need be no more appropriations and its activities could be enlarged indefinitely, as they were, almost to fantastic proportions.
Even the Federal Reserve with its “quantitative easing” cannot fund infrastructure without driving up federal expenditures or debt, at least without changes to the Federal Reserve Act. The Fed is not allowed to spend money directly into the economy or to lend directly to Congress. It must go through the private banking system and its “primary dealers.” The Fed can create and pay only with “reserves” credited to the reserve accounts of banks. These reserves are a completely separate system from the deposits circulating in the real producer/consumer economy; and those deposits are chiefly created by banks when they make loans. New liquidity gets into the real economy when banks make loans to local businesses and individuals; and in risky environments like that today, banks are not lending adequately even with massive reserves on their books.
A publicly-owned national infrastructure bank, on the other hand, would be mandated to lend into the real economy; and if the loans were of the “self funding” sort characterizing most infrastructure projects (generating fees to pay off the loans), they would be repaid, canceling out the debt by which the money was created. That is how China built 12,000 miles of high-speed rail in a decade: credit created on the books of government-owned banks was advanced to pay for workers and materials, and the loans were repaid with profits from passenger fees. Unlike the QE pumped into financial markets, which creates asset bubbles in stocks and housing, this sort of public credit mechanism is not inflationary. Credit money advanced for productive purposes balances the circulating money supply with new goods and services in the real economy. Supply and demand rise together, keeping prices stable. China increased its money supply by nearly 1800% over 24 years (from 1996 to 2020) without driving up price inflation, by increasing GDP in step with the money supply.
“Colin Kaepernick was also floated but ultimately didn’t get picked.”
The incoming Biden administration has floated LeBron James as its ambassador to China, sources learned today. James says he’s “excited” to be able to once again normalize relations between the two countries and make sure that the United States doesn’t do anything to upset the world power, like call attention to its slave labor camps and poor conditions for workers, or the fact that it unleashed a deadly virus on the globe. “LeBron will do a great job ensuring we do everything China wants us to,” said Joe Biden. “He’s a great football player, one of the best. In my day, the leagues were segregated, but that’s all behind us now. You know, I played a little pigskin in my day. You know why they call it pigskin? Well, we used to cook up a little bacon and some pulled pork, and we’d take the leftover pig and roll it up in a little ball and start hucking it at one another, as was the style in those days.” Colin Kaepernick was also floated but ultimately didn’t get picked.
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“It is a great compliment for an honest person to be mistaken for a crook by a crook.”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb
In the case against @wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the government is claiming that an individual unaffiliated with the government is guilty of a criminal violation for seeking out and publishing classified information. This is exactly what journalists do on a routine basis. pic.twitter.com/nyvBUim9PH
— reason (@reason) December 15, 2020
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