Henri Matisse Nu Blue IV 1952
“The US just had its worst day of COVID cases ever—83k—and we’re somehow still lower than the trailing European average.
Adjusted for population, Belgium and the Czech Republic are averaging 300,000 cases/day for the last week.”
Biden stops campaigning 9 days before election
If Joe Biden thinks the country is better off with less of him for the next nine days, what makes him suddenly useful on day ten?
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) October 26, 2020
Leaflet left on chair of every member of the press boarding Airforce One yesterday.
“This is the biggest political corruption scandal of our lifetime.”
• America’s Class War Disguised As Race War May Cause A Civil War (Feierstein)
In the United States, a class war has been amplified by a biased media and social media. Silicon Valley uses algorithms to move forward politically driven narratives and financial interests designed to polarize and sow seeds of discord that increase tribalism across the nation. US intelligence operatives and the media have joined forces with the Democratic Party to deploy psychological operations, disinformation, and propaganda campaigns, the likes of which have never been used before against the American people, in an attempt to influence the outcome of the November presidential election.
Facebook and Twitter censored a factual New York Post article based on evidence that was legally obtained from the laptop of his son, Hunter Biden, about a decades-long corruption and influence-peddling scandal that then Vice President Joe Biden perpetrated. The Biden family made tens of millions of dollars from Hunter Biden’s corrupt business deals in Ukraine and China. US VP Joe Biden threatened to withhold one billion dollars in aid from Ukraine until they fired a prosecutor named Victor Shokin. Shokin was investigating Burisma holdings. Burisma Holdings is the Ukrainian energy firm that hired Hunter Biden. Hunter had no experience in energy markets or Ukraine, and Burisma paid Hunter $50,000 per month. Joe Biden’s threat worked, Shokin was fired, the Burisma holdings investigation ended, Ukraine received its billion dollars, and Hunter pocketed the cash.
Joe Biden disappears for days at a time, refuses to answer reporters’ questions or discuss if, as President, Biden intends to end the filibuster, pack the Supreme Court with liberal judges, add four US Senators (DC and Puerto Rico), and end the electoral college. The people and the media must demand that Joe Biden immediately: outline his policy intentions and address every issue and allegation found within the emails, photos, and videos found on his son’s computer—well, over a week of silence is unacceptable. Facebook and Twitter’s censorship of this blatant corruption and the media’s journalistic malpractice are crimes against democracy. This is the biggest political corruption scandal of our lifetime.
“The sense of devastation and despair this has created is like nothing I have ever experienced. They have stripped us of everything that gave us joy. Every social outlet, every relief, has been made illegal.”
• Will Anyone From The Left Realize Why Trump Won — Again? (MacKinnon)
Weeks before the 2016 election, I sent an email to several media and political personalities predicting that Donald Trump would win Pennsylvania and get 306 electoral votes. I’m not a professional pollster, but I did work on three winning presidential campaigns, and I simply tried to block out the noise from supporters of both the Trump and Hillary Clinton campaigns. I pulled up the 2012 electoral map to see which states Mitt Romney won and then, factoring in the latest data and political miscalculations, made an educated guess for 2016. Using that same system, I have come up with a prediction for 2020: an absolute floor of 278 electoral votes for Trump, with a real chance that he’ll win more than 310 electoral votes.
That may upset Joe Biden’s supporters and the Trump haters, but hopefully some of those who oppose Trump will ask themselves if this is a possibility and, if so, why it would happen — again. It is not an exaggeration to state that much of the mainstream media, academia, entertainment, medicine and science, Big Tech, the “deep state,” the Never Trumpers, the Democratic Party, and other entrenched establishment elites have joined forces to defeat Trump. Of course, they have a right to oppose the president on any grounds. But they should stop to consider what they themselves might represent to many Americans who struggle to pay bills, feed their children and, in some cases, simply survive.
To those Americans, those who adamantly oppose the president — Democrats or Republicans — look like the power center that has ruled over them for decades and made their lives miserable. These elites typically preach, “Do as I say, not as I do.” They’re rarely subject to the rules and dictates that they hand down. They have an “inside track” because they hold the keys to a club that’s off limits to the average American. For anyone who can do the math, the main answer to why Trump won in 2016 — and why I believe he will win again on Nov. 3 — should be blindingly obvious: Trump went out of his way to expose those elites to the American people as the very problem making their lives exponentially worse. He convinced enough voters that he is not one of those “ivory tower elites” and can’t be bought by their special interests.
[..] With the coronavirus pandemic, this year has been surreal — and painful — in so many ways for most Americans. There’s no question those issues will play a key role in the election. The virus has touched everyone, and its economic effects have been especially devastating to the working class. Trump, now a COVID-19 survivor, has made it clear that, in general, he opposes perpetual lockdowns to deal with the virus. After the government of Ireland issued a truly punishing new lockdown in that country, one person summed up the collective hopelessness in a tweet: “The sense of devastation and despair this has created is like nothing I have ever experienced. They have stripped us of everything that gave us joy. Every social outlet, every relief, has been made illegal.”
“The suppression story is almost certainly a bigger scandal than the Hunter Biden affair itself, but it’s all become part of the same picture.”
• Suppression Is A Bigger Scandal Than The Actual Hunter Biden Story (Taibbi)
As has been hinted at by several prominent journalists, controversies erupted within newsrooms across New York and Washington in the last week. Editors have been telling charges that any effort to determine whether or not the Biden laptop material is true, or to ask the Biden campaign to confirm or deny the story, will either not be allowed or put through heightened fact-checking procedures. On the other hand, if you want to assert without any evidence at all that the New York Post story is Russian interference, you can essentially go straight into print.
Many people on the liberal side of the political aisle don’t have a problem with this, focused as they are on the upcoming Trump-Biden election. But this same press corps might be weeks away from assuming responsibility for challenging a Biden administration. If they’ve already calculated once that a true story may be buried for political reasons because the other “side” is worse, they will surely make that same calculation again. What happens a month from now when an ambitious Republican like Tom Cotton leaks a document damaging to a President-Elect Biden? Or two years from now, if in the weeks before midterm elections, we get bad economic news, or a Biden/Harris administration foreign policy initiative takes a turn for the worse? Are we sure those stories will be run?
The Republican version of Burisma story – essentially, that former General Prosecutor Viktor Shokin was Elliott Ness, and Joe Biden intervened to fire him specifically to aid his son’s company – is also not supported by evidence. What Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his cohorts have done to date is take a few unreported or under-reported facts and leap straight to a maximalist interpretation of corruption on Joe Biden’s part. This isn’t right, but the room to make that argument has been created by the ongoing squelching of information coming from Ukraine. The suppression story is almost certainly a bigger scandal than the Hunter Biden affair itself, but it’s all become part of the same picture.
Bobulinski mail to Jim Biden:
Nice headline, Axios! Execution. Big word.
• Trump’s Post-Election Execution List (Axios)
If President Trump wins re-election, he’ll move to immediately fire FBI Director Christopher Wray and also expects to replace CIA Director Gina Haspel and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, two people who’ve discussed these officials’ fates with the president tell Axios. The list of planned replacements is much longer, but these are Trump’s priorities, starting with Wray. Wray and Haspel are despised and distrusted almost universally in Trump’s inner circle. He would have fired both already, one official said, if not for the political headaches of acting before Nov. 3. A win, no matter the margin, will embolden Trump to ax anyone he sees as constraining him from enacting desired policies or going after perceived enemies.
Trump last week signed an executive order that set off alarm bells as a means to politicize the civil service. An administration official said the order “is a really big deal” that would make it easier for presidents to get rid of career government officials. There could be shake-ups across other departments. The president has never been impressed with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, for example. But that doesn’t carry the urgency of replacing Wray or Haspel. The nature of top intelligence and law enforcement posts has traditionally carried an expectation for a higher degree of independence and separation from politics. While Trump has also privately vented about Attorney General Bill Barr, he hasn’t made any formal plans to replace him, an official said.
Trump is furious that Barr isn’t releasing before the election what Trump hoped would be a bombshell report by U.S. Attorney John Durham on the Obama administration’s handling of the Trump-Russia investigation. Durham’s investigation has yet to produce any high-profile indictments of Obama-era officials as Trump had hoped. “The attorney general wants to finish the work that he’s been involved in since day one,” a senior administration official told Axios. “The view of Haspel in the West Wing is that she still sees her job as manipulating people and outcomes, the way she must have when she was working assets in the field,” one source with direct knowledge of the internal conversations told Axios. “It’s bred a lot of suspicion of her motives.”
Trump is also increasingly frustrated with Haspel for opposing the declassification of documents that would help the Justice Department’s Durham report. A source familiar with conversations at the CIA says, “Since the beginning of DNI’s push to declassify documents, and how strongly she feels about protecting sources connected to those materials, there have been rumblings around the agency that the director plans to depart the CIA regardless of who wins the election.” As for Wray,[..] Trump is angry his second FBI chief didn’t launch a formal investigation into Hunter Biden’s foreign business connections — and didn’t purge more officials Trump believes abused power to investigate his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia.
Comprehensive National Power (CNP).
• Yes, Virginia, the Trump Administration Does Have a China Strategy (Paskal)
On October 26, a week before the U.S. presidential election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will begin two days of high-level talks in Delhi. In person. That shouldn’t be a surprise. If one puts politics aside, and connects the many and varied dots, one can see that the U.S. administration has a clear China strategy that is well thought out, multifaceted, and based on a deep understanding of China. It even has a name. But before getting to the administration’s strategy, we need to understand what it is designed to counter — China’s concept of Comprehensive National Power (CNP). Comprehensive National Power is a dominant framework in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) view of the world. CCP think tanks and organizations use it to shape policies and gauge success.
The premise is that a nation’s Comprehensive National Power can be given a numerical value based on a specific but exceptionally wide range of factors, from military strength, to soft power, to access to natural resources, to advances in research and development, and much more. Retired U.S. Coast Guard Captain Bernard Moreland — whose last posting was as U.S. Coast Guard liaison to Beijing — explains: “One of the important things to understand about CNP is that it is an objective metric. Beijing constantly calculates and recalculates China’s CNP relative to other nations the same way many of us watch our 401(k) grow. For us in the West, concepts like ‘national power’ are subjective vague concepts. The [Chinese Communist Party is] obsessed with engineering and calculating everything and believe that all issues can be reduced to numbers and algorithms. This is what they mean when they euphemistically refer to ‘scientific approaches.’”
The result is that any possible tactic – legal or otherwise – is considered fair game in serving the CCP’s goal of increasing China’s Comprehensive National Power. That includes using proxies and diversions to make counteractions more difficult. In an October 21 article for Foreign Affairs, U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien detailed some of the many ways Beijing is trying to advance its CNP. They include intellectual property theft, co-opting international organization, using fishing boats for military action, hostage diplomacy, coercive economic policies, use and intimidation of Chinese nationals overseas to advance China’s interests, infiltrating and corrupting foreign education systems, debt traps, bribery, blurring the lines between state, commercial and military activities, and more. Much, much more.
“Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google—four companies—have a combined market cap (over $6 trillion) that is greater than the GDP of every country in the world, minus the US and China.”
• The Mother of All Stock Market Bubbles (Lendman)
Never before in US equity market history was there as great a disconnect between economic reality and equity prices as now. At a time of economic collapse and likely protracted US Depression, market valuations are at or near all-time highs. David Stockman explained some of the extremes in a period he called “outright fiscal insanity.” Count the ways: “Amazon, a company that didn’t exist pre-1994 is “43% of the S&P 500 consumer discretionary index.” “Nearly two-thirds of the market is underperforming so far this year.” “Year-to-date, only one in three stocks is actually in the green.” “One in five stocks is down 50% or more from its all-time high.” “The five largest stocks in the S&P 500 have a combined market cap that equals that of the ‘smallest’ 389 stocks.”
“Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google—four companies—have a combined market cap (over $6 trillion) that is greater than the GDP of every country in the world, minus the US and China.” “Tesla, having surpassed Walmart (with one-twentieth of the revenue!), has become the ninth-largest stock in the US.” All of the above give new meaning to the term surreal. If a Hollywood script writer presented the above scenario to a producer for filming, it would either be accepted as science fiction or rejected outright as too unrealistic. Who’d believe it? Under these conditions, it’s impossible to invest wisely because markets are dominated by speculative excess — riverboat gambling replacing what sound investing used to be.
No matter which right wing of the US one-party state wins control of the White House and/or Congress, nothing will change — things more likely to worsen until an inevitable day of reckoning arrives. Stockman asked: “How could the S&P 500 be trading at its highest multiple in 70 years when the growth rate of corporate earnings has been sinking for more than two decades?” “The recent S&P index value implies a PE multiple of 36.8X—a place the S&P 500 has never been before.” “The forward PE is now above the record high reached during the dot-com madness at the” end of the 1990s. In calendar year 2020, corporate earnings crashed. They’re “23% (below) their 2019 peak.” Yet market valuations are at levels that suggest double-digit earnings growth ahead — despite evidence indicating protracted economic Depression, mass unemployment, along with reduced business and consumer spending.
Everyone’s still waiting for tourism to rise again.
• NYC Hotel Occupancy Rate Crashes Toward 10% As Permanent Closures Loom (ZH)
Prices at New York City hotels have plunged as the hospitality industry continues to try and grapple with the effects of the global pandemic. Some hotels, like the Midtown Hilton, have remained closed since March. Others, like the Pierre, are operating in limited capacity. Those that are open for business have slashed prices by more than 60%, according to a new writeup by AlJazeera. Despite October usually being a fruitful month for tourism in NYC, coronavirus has forced the cancellation of staple events like the NYC Marathon and Fashion Week. And while the industry has definitely recovered since March, it still has a long way to go. 200 of New York’s roughly 700 hotels remain closed, the article notes.
Lukas Hartwich, an analyst at real estate research firm Green Street, said: “Next year is going to be far worse than any year we’ve ever had except this one. It’s going to be 2022 before we get back to where we were during the worst part of the last recession.” Occupancy rates in NYC stand under 40% right now, with the average daily room price at $135. Those figures, last October, stood at 92% and $336. Industry locals say the 2020 figure may even be inflated, as many hotels stopped reporting data for the time being. Vijay Dandapani, chief executive officer of the Hotel Association of New York City, said: “The true hotel occupancy is less than 10%. Hotels have theoretically been able to be open, but in many cases it’s pointless.”
In addition to risk-adverse travelers, corporate travel has also diminished, acting as a major headwind for the industry. Executives in the industry predict that up to 20% of the city’s hotels could wind up permanently closed. Those that have stayed open, like the Pierre, are offering limited services. For example, at the Pierre, room service stops after breakfast and the concierge clocks out at 5PM now.
Good luck taking on the arms industry.
• Greece Insists On Turkish Arms Embargo (K.)
With Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan making clear his plans to continue exploratory activities within Greece’s continental shelf over the next two months, Athens is pressing its case for an arms embargo against Turkey. Reacting to Ankara’s operational escalation in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, Athens is determined to stress that it is unacceptable for European Union countries to continue exporting arms to Turkey while it threatens a member-state. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has insisted already on the need for an arms embargo on Turkey by Greece’s EU partners, and also raised the issue in person with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. The case was also made by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in a letter to his counterparts in Germany, Italy and Spain.
The most serious aspect of the assistance provided by many of Greece’s European partners to Turkey is not only the equipment but, more importantly, the know-how that has enabled Ankara to rapidly develop and expand its domestic defense industry, including in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles. Mitsotakis has made special reference to the know-how provided by Berlin to Ankara for the German-designed Type 214 submarine and for the anaerobic propulsion (AIP) systems. There is similar cooperation between Berlin and Ankara in the production of the integrated program of Leopard tank (2A4). Berlin also provides significant technological assistance in the production of the Korkut medium-range anti-aircraft system (Rheinmetall type), as well as PorSav missiles.
One day, when it’s too late, we’ll acknowledge that it’s all one system of interconnected and co-dependent entities.
• Soil Fungi Act Like A Support Network For Trees (Folio)
Being highly connected to a strong social network has its benefits. Now a new University of Alberta study is showing the same goes for trees, thanks to their underground neighbours. The study, published in the Journal of Ecology, is the first to show that the growth of adult trees is linked to their participation in fungal networks living in the forest soil.Though past research has focused on seedlings, these findings give new insight into the value of fungal networks to older trees—which are more environmentally beneficial for functions like capturing carbon and stabilizing soil erosion. “Large trees make up the bulk of the forest, so they drive what the forest is doing,” said researcher Joseph Birch, who led the study for his PhD thesis in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences.
When they colonize the roots of a tree, fungal networks act as a sort of highway, allowing water, nutrients and even the compounds that send defence signals against insect attacks to flow back and forth among the trees. The network also helps nutrients flow to resource-limited trees “like family units that support one another in times of stress,” Birch noted. Cores taken from 350 Douglas firs in British Columbia showed that annual tree ring growth was related to the extent of fungal connections a tree had with other trees. “They had much higher growth than trees that had only a few connections.” The research also showed that trees with more connections to many unique fungi had much greater growth than those with only one or two connections.
“We found that the more connected an adult tree is, the more it has significant growth advantages, which means the network could really influence large-scale important interactions in the forest, like carbon storage. If you have this network that is helping trees grow faster, that helps sequester more carbon year after year.”
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