Jan 032021
 


Camille Pissarro Rue Saint-Lazare, Paris 1897

 

Assange Extradition Would Be End Of Free Speech In UK (Stella Moris)
Legal Teams Likely Informed Already of Assange Decision (Mercouris)
Pence Embraces Election Challenge By Members Of Congress (JTN)
11 Senators To Reject Congressional Election Certification On Wednesday (JTN)
October Legal Analysis Finds Today’s Scenario Favors Trump Victory (Attkisson)
‘Growing Body Of Evidence’ COVID-19 Leaked From Chinese Lab: US Official (NYP)
Leeds Forms Specialist Team As 100s In City Face ‘Long Covid’ Impact (YEP)
Bill de Blasio Dancing In New York Embodies The Difficult Road Ahead (Turley)
Boris Johnson Would Lose Majority And Seat In Election Tomorrow – Poll (G.)

 

 

Everything today should be about Julian Assange, really, and the ongoing perversity perpetrated against him.

 

 

Assange

 

 

“In effect, foreign countries could simply issue an extradition request saying that UK journalists, or Facebook users for that matter, have violated their censorship laws.”

Assange Extradition Would Be End Of Free Speech In UK (Stella Moris)

A month ago, I would wake up in the middle of the night seized by a recurring nightmare: my little boys, Max, 22 months, and Gabriel, who is three, had been orphaned. I was still here but their father was not. Their father is Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks. Today, that terrible nightmare is all too close to becoming a reality. Julian has been on remand in Belmarsh prison in South-East London for almost two years. He is fighting a political extradition to the United States, where he risks being buried in the deepest, darkest corner of the US prison system for the rest of his life. Julian embarrassed Washington and this is their revenge. The nightmares came to a sudden stop the week before Christmas, when a groundswell of support from all sides of the political spectrum called for President Trump to pardon him.

A leaked audio recording of Julian talking to the US State Department unmasked the trumped-up nature of the charges against him. Leading figures, from former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to Nobel Prize winners, such as human-rights campaigner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, have been calling for Julian’s freedom. So far, there has been no pardon. But tomorrow, a British magistrate will decide whether to order Julian’s extradition or throw out the US government’s request. If Julian loses, I believe that it would not only be an unthinkable travesty but that the ruling would also be politically and legally disastrous for the UK. That is because Julian’s case is not about what some people would have you think it is about.

His role in founding the WikiLeaks website is well known and it is fair to say Julian has angered many government and establishment figures around the world. WikiLeaks has published thousands of sensitive classified documents, many from the US military. Yet Julian has been acting in the same way as any other journalist would in attempting to hold the powerful to account. President Obama’s administration realised this, and understood that charging Julian would require them to prosecute international media outlets. After all, newspapers, websites and TV stations had published substantially the same revelations as WikiLeaks. That is why, at the end of his term in office, Obama freed WikiLeaks’s US Army Intelligence source, whistleblower Chelsea Manning, from jail.

With Trump, however, the mood has changed dramatically and under his administration, journalistic practices have been pursued as crimes. WikiLeaks and Julian have been accused of ‘endangering national security’, but US prosecutors admit they have no evidence to support claims that WikiLeaks publications caused physical harm to anyone. Perhaps that explains why their tactics have become increasingly desperate. During Julian’s extradition hearing at the Old Bailey in September, the court heard evidence that CIA contractors were plotting to kill him with poison while he was in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Agents-turned-whistleblowers, who were granted anonymity by the court due to their fear of reprisals, also admitted targeting our then six-month-old baby to steal his DNA.

They told the court that they had installed hidden microphones to spy on Julian’s solicitors’ meetings. The offices of his lawyers were also broken into. It might seem unthinkable that a British court would give its stamp of approval to such rampant, illegal actions by the US. It might seem equally unthinkable that a man who was practising journalism in this country, perfectly legally according to UK law, could be tried in a foreign land and potentially jailed for life. But that is what would happen if the UK decides to extradite Julian. It would rewrite the rules of what it is permissible to publish here. Overnight, it would chill free and open debate about abuses by our own government and by many foreign ones, too.

In effect, foreign countries could simply issue an extradition request saying that UK journalists, or Facebook users for that matter, have violated their censorship laws. Reporters Without Borders and the National Union of Journalists have said that as long as Julian remains in prison facing extradition, the UK is not a safe place for journalists and publishers to work. The press freedoms we cherish in Britain are meaningless if they can be criminalised and suppressed by regimes in Russia or Ankara or by prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia.

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It’s just too crazy.

Legal Teams Likely Informed Already of Assange Decision (Mercouris)

In accordance with a British magistrate court’s usual procedure, Julian Assange’s Judgment has almost certainly already been written and sent in draft form to the respective teams of lawyers, probably early on Friday evening. The lawyers therefore already know what the decision is, as well as the British government and at least the Department of Justice in Washington. Under established procedure, Assange’s lawyers are not supposed to tell Assange himself what the decision is so he and his family are probably the only people who are directly involved in his case who don’t yet know its outcome. The purpose in sending the Judgment in draft form to the lawyers in advance of the Court hearing is to give them an opportunity to check it for factual mistakes.

The public will not know the outcome until Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser reads out the Judgment in its finalised form, with any factual mistakes corrected, when Court convenes on Monday at 10 am London time. The Judgment should then be published online by the Court Service directly after she has finished. In addition to the Judgment – and obviously to the decision whether or not to extradite, which will be set out in the Judgment – the public may learn immediately afterward whether either of the two sets of lawyers intend to appeal. Either side has seven days to appeal the judgment. While the intent of allowing both sides to see the Judgment in advance is not to help facilitate an appeal, having the judgement before it is read to the court affords attorneys to a chance to consider whether or not to launch one.

If It’s a Split Decision. One possibility that must be considered is that Baraitser may decide to extradite on one indictment and not on the other, for instance, if she rules against extradition on the Espionage Act charges, but decides in favour of extradition on the conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge (which carries a maximum five year sentence as opposed to 170 on espionage.) I think what would happen in that case is that the British authorities would accept Baraitser’s decision and would try to reach an agreement with the DoJ whereby, in return for Assange’s extradition, the U.S. would commit itself to try Assange only on the computer intrusion charges, and not on the Espionage Act charges. The British over the course of the negotiations would tell the U.S. that if the U.S. were not willing to give that commitment then the British would not be able to extradite Assange to the U.S.

Of course the British (if Assange were extradited to the U.S. on such a basis) would be in no position to compel the U.S. to abide by such a commitment if the U..S were to go back on it once Assange was on U.S. soil. Since that has to be a very likely possibility, one would think it would be a point which Assange’s lawyers would make in the appeal they would be bound to make to the High Court against Baraitser’s decision. In fact in such a scenario it’s not impossible that both sides would appeal to the High Court: (1) the U.S. against Baraitser’s decision to refuse to extradite on the basis of the Espionage Act; (2) Assange’s lawyers against Baraitser’s decision to extradite on the computer intrusion charges. It would be a fascinating battle and it would be fascinating to see how it would play out.

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Let the dice roll.

Pence Embraces Election Challenge By Members Of Congress (JTN)

Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday embraced an effort by Republican lawmakers to object to Joe Biden‘s electors and to present evidence of fraud when Congress meets Wednesday to certify election results. Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, issued a statement ahead of an expected contentious congressional session next week and just hours after 11 senators led by Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley announced they would contest the results of the November election on the floor of Congress. “Vice President Pence shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election,” Short’s statement on behalf of the Vice President said. “The Vice President welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people on January 6th,” the statement added.

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A 10-day audit would not hurt anyone.

11 Senators To Reject Congressional Election Certification On Wednesday (JTN)

A dozen U.S. senators have now pledged to dispute the scheduled congressional election certification set to take place on Wednesday, with a group of senators this weekend calling for an audit of the U.S. election out of concerns over voting integrity. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz posted an announcement on his Senate website stating that he and ten other senators “intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until [an] emergency 10-day audit is completed.”


The senators called upon an Electoral Commission to conduct that audit, after which “individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed.” “These are matters worthy of the Congress, and entrusted to us to defend,” the senators said in the statement. “We do not take this action lightly. We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it.” The senators join Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, who earlier this week also pledged to contest the congressional certification of the 2020 election results.

Kanekoa
https://twitter.com/i/status/1344730835115675653

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Read the whole thing.

October Legal Analysis Finds Today’s Scenario Favors Trump Victory (Attkisson)

As thousands of Trump supporters prepare to descend upon the Capitol this coming week amid a presidential election they are contesting, there is a mass of confusion and conflicting information about what happens next. You may have heard that a growing list of Republican members of the House and Senate have pledged to object to the electoral count of some states during Wednesday’s joint session of Congress. Most analysts have said such objections, in practical terms, amount to nothing because while they can trigger debates lasting up to two hours, it would take a majority in both the House and Senate to reject the state results naming Joe Biden the next president of the United States. There are other less discussed and, some insist, less likely scenarios. Some of them are examined in a legal analysis by John Yoo and Robert Delahunty.

Published in October, about two weeks before the presidential election, it plays out multiple scenarios including under circumstances like the ones we face today. It is titled “What Happens if No One Wins? The Constitution provides for election crises—and its provisions favor Trump.” Here are some applicable excerpts from the analysis. “Suppose states send electoral votes that—even if certified by the governor—remain under question, whether because of fraud in the vote, inability to count the ballots accurately under neutral rules, or a dispute between branches of a state government… …Vice President Pence would decide between competing slates of electors…

…If the electoral count remains uncertain enough to deprive either Trump or Biden of a majority in the Electoral College, then the 12th Amendment orders that “the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President… …If today’s House chose the president, voting by state delegations, Trump would win handily.” John Yoo and Robert Delahunty, Oct. 19, 2020. An extended excerpt from the analysis follows: …Suppose states send electoral votes that—even if certified by the governor—remain under question, whether because of fraud in the vote, inability to count the ballots accurately under neutral rules, or a dispute between branches of a state government.

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How’s that WHO team doing in China? Haven’t seen any news on that.

‘Growing Body Of Evidence’ COVID-19 Leaked From Chinese Lab: US Official (NYP)

U.S. National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger is doubling down on the theory that COVID-19 leaked from a Chinese government-run lab in Wuhan. Pottinger, a staunch critic of Beijing, allegedly made the claim in a recent Zoom meeting with British officials. “There is a growing body of evidence that the lab is likely the most credible source of the virus,” Pottinger reportedly said, according to the Daily Mail. The Trump appointee pushed the theory as the European Union made a new investment deal with China last week over protests from Pottinger and hesitance from the incoming Biden administration. Pottinger, one of the first U.S. officials to raise alarms inside White House walls about the origins of the virus back in January 2020, has reportedly suspected since the early days of the outbreak that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab.

He ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to search for evidence that it had, the New York Times reported in April. A Chinese virologist who said she did some of the earliest research on COVID-19 has publicly claimed COVID-19 was man-made, and that the Chinese government covered up its dangers. Western medical experts have discredited the theory. The World Health Organization has been investigating the source of the virus since the first case was made public in January 2020. Patient Zero has not been found. Pottinger suggested in the recent call with British officials that the WHO probe is a ruse.

“MPs around the world have a moral role to play in exposing the WHO investigation as a Potemkin exercise,” Pottinger told the parliamentarians, referring to fake villages created in Crimea in the 18th Century to convince the visiting Russian Empress Catherine the Great that the region was in good health. “Even establishment figures in Beijing have openly dismissed the wet market story,” Pottinger allegedly said, referring to another theory that the virus was transmitted from animals to humans inside a wildlife market in Wuhan where the first cluster of cases emerged.

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Got the pics via Dave Collum.

Leeds Forms Specialist Team As 100s In City Face ‘Long Covid’ Impact (YEP)

A team of experts has been assembled in Leeds – thought to be among the first of its kind in the country – to tackle what many fear will be a major aspect of the pandemic. National data suggests between two to five per cent of Covid-19 patients will go on to develop ‘long Covid’ – suffering symptoms beyond 12 weeks – leading to an estimated 980 people in Leeds from the first wave alone. The city’s specialist ‘Covid After-Care team’ began work in September, just days after being set up, in a fast-moving bid to reach those in need in Leeds – and what they have uncovered so far has been startling. From the first 188 patients referred in, they have found the average age was 48, with more women than men, none had originally been hospitalised and many were previously extremely fit including personal trainers and athletes now struggling for breath at rest.

The findings have overturned initial expectations that those most affected would be those who had suffered more severely initially – such as the ‘at-risk’ older age groups – and that symptoms would be mainly respiratory. Dr Bryan Power, a GP and clinical lead for long term conditions at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, who helped set up the team, said: “It’s not the cohort we expected to see. “They are of a younger age than we expected – including a 17-year-old – and also presenting with a complex range of symptoms. Some patients haven’t been able to work for six months.”

[..] “There is a huge host of symptoms but the main ones we’re seeing are fatigue, shortness of breath – that can be at rest as well as exercise; cognitive problems – people suffering short-term memory problems, concentration, many call it ‘brain fog’. “Pain is another big thing – it can be all-body pain, quite often chest pain or lung pain, headaches. “And tachycardia – the heart can be racing when they’re sat on the sofa or on a walk; autonomic dysfunction, random hot sweats, temperature, dizzy when standing. “And as a consequence of these symptoms we’re finding a lot of anxiety.”

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“New York has had a 50% increase in homicides and almost a 100 percent increase in shootings.”

Bill de Blasio Dancing In New York Embodies The Difficult Road Ahead (Turley)

At midnight at the start of the new year, if you listened hard, you could almost hear the teeth of an entire nation grinding, or at least of those watching coverage from New York as Mayor Bill de Blasio danced in a nearly empty Times Square. Millions watched as he dipped his wife in a romantic flourish to Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York.” At least Nero made his own music. The scene drew angry rebukes. Andy Cohen said it made him feel sick. “I did not need to see that at the start of 2021. Do something with this city! Honestly, get it together!” In fairness to de Blasio, it probably seemed harmless. Who would object to a guy dancing with his wife? But sometimes a predictable photo turns into a cursed image. Just ask 1988 presidential candidate Michael Dukakis after he took a spin in an army tank.

The image captured what many considered as his faux commitment to a strong defense. He and his campaign failed to think of how driving around looking like Mickey Mouse on a battle tank would only drive home the criticism of his defense policies. For de Blasio, dancing in a nearly empty Times Square came across not as amorous but as delirious in a city in lockdown with a collapsing economy and soaring crime rates. For many, it reinforced the crisis both parties now face. We have become a nation that seems untethered from all reality. In one of the most liberal cities on earth, de Blasio cannot break 40 percent in popularity. But he, like many others, plays to the extreme wings of his party. As crime raged, he pushed to reduce the police budget by $1 billion and eliminated the plain clothes division. New York has had a 50% increase in homicides and almost a 100 percent increase in shootings.

He also closed public schools despite overwhelming scientific evidence of little risk for coronavirus exposure, notably for elementary students. He finally caved to the pressure from parents and experts, admitting there was little risk in having the schools reopen. He supported the closing of restaurants, sending many to insolvency, despite the fact that they contribute to less than 2 percent of confirmed infections. With New York losing money, de Blasio said the federal government could bail out City Hall and local businesses by simply printing more money, a statement both fiscally and politically delusional. As many highly taxed residents continue to move out of New York, de Blasio voices his “tax the hell out of the wealthy” policy. He recently declared that the purpose of public schools is the redistribution of income.

The eerie image of de Blasio dancing in a dead Times Square captures what could await us in 2021. Even if the pandemic is curtailed with the vaccines, cities like New York have been devastated by the lockdowns. There is no way that the federal government can bail out every business and landlord in one city, let alone the entire country.

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Not much choice. It’s either BoJo or Blair.

Boris Johnson Would Lose Majority And Seat In Election Tomorrow – Poll (G.)

The public are deeply unhappy with the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the Brexit negotiations, a damning new poll suggests. The poll predicts that if a general election were held tomorrow neither the Conservatives nor Labour would win an outright majority. Disturbingly for Boris Johnson, the survey says the Conservatives would lose 81 seats, wiping out the 80-seat majority they won in December 2019. It gives the first detailed insight into the public’s perception of Johnson’s handling of the Brexit talks and the pandemic, amid fears that Britain is heading into a third national lockdown. The prime minister is on course to lose his own seat of Uxbridge and Ruislip South, if the insight is accurate.


According to the survey of more than 22,000 people, conducted by the research data company Focaldata, using the multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) method that is said to be more than accurate than conventional polling, the results would leave the Tories with 284 seats and Labour with 282 – an increase of 82. Results in Scotland would see the Scottish National party achieve a near complete sweep, winning 57 of the 59 Scottish seats. The poll also predicts the Liberal Democrats would be reduced to just two seats – in Bath and in Kingston and Surbiton – down from the current 11. One in four voters who supported the Lib Dems in 2019 said they will switch allegiance to Labour. Many of the seats that Labour would gain are in the north of England, Midlands and Wales, part of the “red wall” collapse that swept the Tories to power at the last election, the Sunday Times reported.

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Sep 232019
 
 September 23, 2019  Posted by at 10:59 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Paul Gauguin The Seine at the Pont d’Iena 1875

 

Half of Americans Expect A Recession To Hit In The Next 12 Months (MW)
Negative Interest Rates Are The Price We Pay For De-Civilization (Deist)
British Travel Firm Thomas Cook Collapses, Stranding 600,000 Tourists (R.)
No-Deal Brexit Will Have ‘Seismic’ Impact – European Car Industry (G.)
Oil Set To Spike As Saudi Repairs At Abqaiq May Take “Up To Eight Months” (ZH)
Trump Doubles Down On Call To Investigate Biden (Hill)
Trump Hit By Election Dirt From Ukraine… Forget? (RT)
Ted Cruz Insists Iran Wants To Nuke American Cities (RT)
Facebook Declares It’s A ‘Publisher’, Walking Into Legal Trap (RT)
World at a Crossroads (Sergei Lavrov)

 

 

“..21% of Republicans said a recession will likely happen within a year, while 74% of Democrats said a recession is coming..”

Half of Americans Expect A Recession To Hit In The Next 12 Months (MW)

There are more Americans expecting an economic downturn now than there were just before the start of the Great Recession. A Gallup poll released Friday painted a gloomy picture: people are becoming increasingly pessimistic about the economy and bracing for a recession. • 49% of poll participants said a recession will likely arrive in the next 12 months. In October 2007 — two months before the Great Recession began — 40% of poll participants felt the same way. • For the third straight month, a growing share of Americans said the economy is deteriorating, going from 37% in July to 48% in September. At the same time, fewer people said it’s improving, slipping from 54% to 46%. • Republicans are rosy and Democrats are downbeat: 21% of Republicans said a recession will likely happen within a year, while 74% of Democrats said a recession is coming in that time. Independents were evenly split.


Gallup noted it conducted the poll from September 3 to 15, as the latest round of Chinese tariffs took effect, but before the latest interest rate cut. Consumer perceptions weren’t totally glum. Though 49% of people told Gallup a recession is either fairly likely or very likely, another 50% said a recession isn’t too likely, or not likely at all. After all, there’s still a record-breaking 10-year bull market and a 3.7% unemployment rate, which is around a 50-year low. Like consumers, market experts are also divided. Some brush off recession talk, but others say a downturn will happen by the end of 2020.

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“If in fact negative interest rates can occur naturally, without central bank or state interventions, then economics textbooks need to be revised on the quick.”

Negative Interest Rates Are The Price We Pay For De-Civilization (Deist)

“Calculation Error,” which Bloomberg terminals sometimes display, is an apt metaphor for the current state of central bank policy. Both Europe and Asia are now awash in $17 trillion worth of negative-yielding sovereign and corporate bonds, and Alan Greenspan suggests negative interest rates soon will arrive in the US. Despite claims by both Mr. Trump and Fed Chair Jerome Powell concerning the health of the American economy, the Fed’s Open Market Committee moved closer to negative territory today — with another quarter-point cut in the Fed Funds rate, below even a measly 2%.

Negative interest rates are just the latest front in the post-2008 era of “extraordinary” monetary policy. They represent a Hail Mary pass from central bankers to stimulate more borrowing and more debt, though there is far more global debt today than in 2007. Stimulus is the assumed goal of all economic policy, both fiscal and monetary. Demand-side stimulus is the mania bequeathed to us by Keynes, or more accurately by his followers. It is the absurd idea, that an economy prospers by consuming and borrowing instead of producing and saving. Negative interest rates turn everything we know about economics upside down.

Under what scenario would anyone lend $1,000 to receive $900 in return at some point in the future? Only when the alternative is to receive $800 back instead, due to the predicted interventions of central banks and governments. Only then would locking in a set rate of capital loss make sense. By “capital loss” I mean just that; when there is no positive interest paid, the principal itself must be consumed. There is no “market” for negative rates. The future is uncertain, and there is always counterparty risk. The borrower might abscond, or default, or declare bankruptcy. Market conditions might change during the course of the loan, driving interest rates higher to the lender’s detriment. Inflation could rise higher and faster than the agreed-upon nominal interest rate. The lender might even die prior to repayment.

Positive interest rates compensate lenders for all of this risk and uncertainty. Interest, like all economics, ultimately can be explained by human nature and human action. If in fact negative interest rates can occur naturally, without central bank or state interventions, then economics textbooks need to be revised on the quick. Every theory of interest contemplates positive interest paid on borrowed capital. Classical economists and their “Real” theory say interest represents a “return” on capital, not a penalty. Capital available for lending, like any other good, is subject to real forces of supply and demand. But nobody would “sell” their capital by giving the buyer interest payments as well, they would simply hold onto it and avoid the risk of lending.

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150,000 Brits stranded, as are 140,000 Germans. 50,000 stranded in Greece alone.

British Travel Firm Thomas Cook Collapses, Stranding 600,000 Tourists (R.)

Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest travel firm, collapsed on Monday, stranding hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers around the globe and sparking the largest peacetime repatriation effort in British history. Chief Executive Peter Fankhauser said it was a matter of profound regret that the company had gone out of business after it failed to secure a rescue package from its lenders. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said Thomas Cook had now ceased trading and the regulator and government would work together to bring the more than 150,000 British customers home over the next two weeks. “I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years,” Fankhauser said in a statement released in the early hours of Monday morning.


“It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful.” The government and aviation regulator said that due to the scale of the situation some disruption was inevitable. “Thomas Cook has ceased trading so all Thomas Cook flights are now cancelled,” the CAA said. The demise of Thomas Cook marks the end of one of Britain’s oldest companies that started life in 1841 running local rail excursions before it survived two world wars to pioneer package holidays first in Europe and then further afield. The firm now runs hotels, resorts and airlines for 19 million people a year in 16 countries. It currently has 600,000 people abroad, forcing governments and insurance companies to coordinate a huge rescue operation.

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Who are UK firms/factories going to sell their cars to?

No-Deal Brexit Will Have ‘Seismic’ Impact – European Car Industry (G.)

The European car industry has warned of catastrophic effects of a no-deal Brexit, saying it would have a “seismic” impact on making cars in Europe. In a rare joint statement, chiefs from 23 automotive business associations across Europe joined forces to caution against a brutal exit from the bloc by Britain, where auto giants BMW, Peugeot PSA and Japan’s Nissan have factories. “Brexit is not just a British problem, we are all concerned in the European automotive industry, and even further,” said Christian Peugeot, head of French automotive industry association CCFA in the statement.

Reaping the benefits of the EU’s single market, carmakers have supply chains that criss-cross the English Channel and Britain is the destination of around 10% of vehicles assembled on the continent, according to industry data. British prime minister, Boris Johnson, has rattled nerves with his vow to leave the European Union on 31 October come what may – with or without a trade deal with Brussels. “The UK’s departure from the EU without a deal would trigger a seismic shift in trading conditions, with billions of euros of tariffs threatening to impact consumer choice and affordability on both sides of the Channel,” the joint statement said.

A chaotic Brexit would land a “severe” blow against the industry’s just-in-time supply chains that stretch across international borders and depend on zero administrative hassle, the associations warned. “The EU and UK automotive industries need frictionless trade and would be harmed significantly by additional duties and administrative burden on automotive parts and vehicles,” said Bernhard Mattes, the head of Germany’s auto lobby VDA.

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Catch 22: tell the world everything will be fine in no time, but without causing prices to plummet.

Oil Set To Spike As Saudi Repairs At Abqaiq May Take “Up To Eight Months” (ZH)

[..] the WSJ reported that it may take “up to eight month”, rather than 10 weeks company executives had previously promised, to fully restore operations at Aramco damaged Abqaiq facility, suggesting the crude oil shortfall will last far longer than originally expected. The official reason for the delay: the supply-chain is unable to respond to the Saudi needs. Specifically, Aramco is” in emergency talks with equipment makers and service providers, offering to pay premium rates for parts and repair work as it attempts a speedy recovery from missile attacks on its largest oil-processing facilities.” Following a devastating attack on its largest oil-processing facility more than a week ago, Aramco is asking contractors to name their price for patch-ups and restorations.

In recent days, company executives have bombarded contractors, including General Electric , with phone calls, faxes and emails seeking emergency assistance, according to Saudi officials and oil-services suppliers in the kingdom. “One Saudi official said costs could run in the hundreds of millions of dollars”, the WSJ reported. The unofficial, and more likely, version: Aramco is unhappy with how quickly oil prices dropped after the “Iranian attack”, and since its objective from the very beginning – especially with its IPO looming – was to get oil prices higher, and with its reputation to prevent “outside shocks” in tatters, it is now creating its own bottlenecks in restoring output.

Hinting at the second explanation is the fact that until now, Saudi officials and Aramco executives had been consistent in communicating statements aimed at reassuring oil markets that the state-owned company will recover quickly while continuing to supply customers as usual. Just yesterday, Aramco’s CEO Amin Nasser reiterated production would be back to its precrisis level by the end of the month. “Not a single shipment to our international customers has been missed or canceled as a result of the attacks,” he said.

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Rightly so. Same goes for Trump, of course.

Trump Doubles Down On Call To Investigate Biden (Hill)

President Trump on Sunday doubled down on his call for former Vice President Joe Biden’s dealings with Ukraine to be investigated amid reports of a whistleblower who is said to have raised concerns about the president’s interaction with a foreign leader who may have been Ukraine’s president. “Now the Fake News Media says I ‘pressured the Ukrainian President at least 8 times during my telephone call with him.’ This supposedly comes from a so-called ‘whistleblower’ who they say doesn’t even have a first hand account of what was said,” the president tweeted Sunday evening.

“Breaking News: The Ukrainian Government just said they weren’t pressured at all during the ‘nice’ call. Sleepy Joe Biden, on the other hand, forced a tough prosecutor out from investigating his son’s company by threat of not giving big dollars to Ukraine. That’s the real story!” he added. On Friday, multiple outlets reported that Trump had pressured Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son Hunter Biden during a July call. Trump has not denied that he urged Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. Earlier Sunday, speaking to reporters outside the White House, Trump insisted there was no quid pro quo involved in the talks with the Ukrainian president, calling it a “perfect conversation.”

Instead, Trump has questioned why the media is not paying more attention to the Democratic front-runner’s actions. He also criticized the whistleblower, saying the official had caused a “false alarm.”

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No, I do remember.

Trump Hit By Election Dirt From Ukraine… Forget? (RT)

Scroll back to August 2016. The Trump versus Clinton campaigns are in full swing, polls give the Democrat a win, but the Republican is not far behind. So, a pair of Ukrainian officials – a US-linked MP and the head of a freshly created anti-corruption bureau – conspire to illegally leak to the US media material about an ongoing probe into ousted President Viktor Yanukovich and his party. At least that’s how a Ukrainian court in October 2018 described what they had done. In particular, the two leaked photos of a handwritten ledger allegedly showing cash payouts by Yanukovich’s party with the name of Paul Manafort on it.


The same Manafort who was Trump’s campaign manager at the time and was later tried and sentenced for tax evasion and bank fraud as part of the Robert Mueller investigation. There are serious questions about how reliable this leaked ledger was in the first place and how extensive the conspiracy was. The two Ukrainian officials may have acted alone, or on behalf of senior figures in their government wishing to score some points with the perceived future leader in Washington. There are claims of some coordination with people in DC, or rather, the DNC. Whichever the case, one thing is clear: what the Kiev court described was a case of foreign interference in the American election.

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Ted smokes the good stuff.

Ted Cruz Insists Iran Wants To Nuke American Cities (RT)

Ted Cruz insists Tehran’s grand dream is to nuke American cities and that Iran nuclear deal is to blame for the attack on Saudi oil facilities. The argument was mocked for making no sense, but the hawkish US senator doubles down. The Texas legislator and one of the most vocal cheerleaders of Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran went to the pages of New York Post on Friday to warn the public of an imminent danger. More international sanctions against Iran may soon be dropped under the 2015 nuclear deal, which means Tehran is drawing closer to obtaining nuclear weapons that “could incinerate American cities with a single flash of light.”


America must act now and invoke the so-called snapback mechanism outlined the nuclear deal to keep the sanctions in place and also cut Iran entirely from the global financial system, Cruz said. If you are somewhat puzzled by this line of argument, you are not alone. After all, how can Trump use the nuclear deal, from which he withdrew in the first place, to cudgel Iran more? And what Tehran may hope to win by killing millions of American civilians even if it had the capability to do it?

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Just became an interesting court case.

Facebook Declares It’s A ‘Publisher’, Walking Into Legal Trap (RT)

Facebook has invoked its free speech right as a publisher, insisting its ability to smear users as extremists is protected, but its legal immunity thus far has rested on a law which protects platforms, not publishers. Which is it? Facebook has declared it has the right, as a publisher, to exercise its own free speech and bar conservative political performance artist Laura Loomer from its platform. Even calling her a dangerous extremist is allowed under the First Amendment, because it’s merely an opinion, Facebook claims in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Loomer. But Facebook has always defined itself as a tech company providing a platform for users’ speech in the past, a definition that has come to appear increasingly ridiculous in the era of widespread politically-motivated censorship.


Now, the not-so-neutral content platform has redefined itself as a publisher equipped with a whole new set of rights, but bereft of the protections that have kept it safe from legal repercussions in the past. “Under well-established law, neither Facebook nor any other publisher can be liable for failing to publish someone else’s message,” Facebook’s motion to dismiss Loomer’s defamation suit reads, justifying its decision to ban her from the platform. It also points out that terms like “dangerous” or “promoting hate” cannot be factually verified and are thus constitutionally protected opinions for a publisher, while also claiming it never applied either term to Loomer, despite banning her from its platform under its “dangerous individuals” policy.

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Lavrov’s long speech at UN this week, via Dmitry Orlov.

“Sergei Lavrov is a world-class diplomatic heavyweight and Russia’s foreign minister. As the saying goes, if you don’t deal with Lavrov, you’ll end up dealing with Sergei Shoigu, defense minister.”

World at a Crossroads (Sergei Lavrov)

The defeat of fascism in 1945 had fundamentally affected the further course of world history and created conditions for establishing a post-war world order. The UN Charter became its bearing frame and a key source of international law to this day. The UN-centric system still preserves its sustainability and has a great degree of resilience. It actually is kind of a safety net that ensures peaceful development of mankind amid largely natural divergence of interests and rivalries among leading powers. The War-time experience of ideology-free cooperation of states with different socioeconomic and political systems is still highly relevant. It is regrettable that these obvious truths are being deliberately silenced or ignored by certain influential forces in the West.

Moreover, some have intensified attempts at privatizing the Victory, expunging from memory the Soviet Union’s role in the defeat of Nazism, condemning to oblivion the Red Army’s feat of sacrifice and liberation, forgetting the many millions of Soviet citizens who perished during the War, wiping out from history the consequences of the ruinous policy of appeasement. From this perspective, it is easy to grasp the essence of the concept of expounding the equality of the totalitarian regimes. Its purpose is not just to belittle the Soviet contribution to the Victory, but also to retrospectively strip our country of its historic role as an architect and guarantor of the post-war world order, and label it a “revisionist power” that is posing a threat to the well-being of the so-called free world.

Interpreting the past in such a manner also means that some of our partners see the establishment of a transatlantic link and the permanent implanting of the US military presence in Europe as a major achievement of the post-war system of international relations. This is definitely not the scenario the Allies had in mind while creating the United Nations.

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Bruce Springsteen turns 70 today.