Sep 012020
 
 September 1, 2020  Posted by at 9:14 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  18 Responses »


Rembrandt van Rijn Head of a Bearded Man c1630

 

Trump’s America (Newsweek)
Chris Cillizza Blasts President Trump For Using The Word “Riots” (Turley)
The Puppet Candidate in Two Pictures (CT)
Appeals Court Denies Flynn Request To Dismiss Case (ZH)
Russiagate Won’t End: US Appeals Court Reverses Decision To End Flynn Case (RT)
Lucifer’s Hammer (Ben Hunt)
No One Wants to Solve Real Problems (Geraghty)
Coronavirus May Survive On Outdoor Surfaces For Longer In Autumn (SCMP)
Inhaled Nitric Oxide Therapy Benefits Pregnant COVID19 Patients (Harvard)
Bill of Particulars (Jim Kunstler)
Just Put Your Brain on Tesla Autopilot and Believe in It (WS)
Norwegian Researchers Call Against Cleansing Seas Of Plastic Waste (RT)
Waiting for the Old Bailey: Julian Assange (OffG)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biden 100 years

 

 

 

 

Trump Rittenhouse

 

 

The polls indicated Biden had to be dragged out of his basement to start blaming Trump for the riots and violence. Looks like a hard sell. Certainly when you won’t even allow for Trump to say “riot”.

Trump’s America (Newsweek)

For months, the national media has largely ignored the sustained violent activism plaguing Democrat-run cities. When they do cover these events, it’s portrayed the same way Democratic lawmakers—and the Biden campaign—have chosen to describe them: as “peaceful protests.” But after four effective days of coverage from the Republican National Convention (RNC), shining a spotlight on what’s actually happening, suddenly Democrats are striking a different tone. Now, the Biden-Harris ticket, along with their surrogates, claim the violence in Portland, Kenosha, Seattle, Chicago and the nation’s capital are President Donald Trump’s fault. This is happening, they argue, in “Trump’s America.” The leftists in national media, of course, happily forward the very same dishonest talking point. It will gloriously backfire.

On NBC’s Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd finally tackled the rioting after a deadly night in Portland that left dead someone who appears to be a Trump supporter. He asked Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, if Trump should bear responsibility: “This in Donald Trump’s America. How much responsibility should voters be giving the president for his inability to…keep the streets safe?” Over at CNN, they do much the same. Struggling to make his point, perhaps because he knows how dishonest it is, host Anderson Cooper stumbled his way through the same “this is Trump’s America” talking point. He then used the same talking point the following morning to set up a softball question to Biden, who responded that the “video [of violence] being played is video being played in Donald Trump’s America.”

This talking point is transparently dishonest and offensively dumb. Literally all of the sustained rioting and other violence has occured in Democrat-run cities. The federal government does not have jurisdiction to always send in the feds to wander rioting streets and quell the civil unrest. If Trump did always have such authority and if he acted upon it, he’d be called a fascist. Indeed, Democrats already call him just that. Trump has offered help many times to cities and states that are dealing with these issues. In Portland, feckless Mayor Ted Wheeler bragged about smugly rejecting Trump’s assistance in an August 28 letter that he posted to Twitter. He told the president, “We don’t need your politics of division and demagoguery.”

That night, activists gained entry into Wheeler’s condo, where they occupied the lobby. The next night, after trying to forcibly stop Trump supporters from protesting, a man in a conservative Patriot Front hat was shot to death. This is Trump’s fault? After the president’s RNC speech, mobs of far-left activists harassed and assaulted cops and conservatives leaving the White House. Other mobs spent Saturday night harassing D.C. diners who are supporting restaurants struggling to stay open amidst a pandemic. This is Trump’s doing? Trump has not just been rebuffed by progressive mayors. His offers of help have been met with insidious claims that Trump is really just practicing a dry-run for martial law, in the event he were to lose the election. And the media has been there to dutifully forward that dangerous claim.

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“.. the majority of citizens believe that the media actively misrepresents facts. Roughly half view the media as biased. This is why. Of course, this is looting and rioting.”

Chris Cillizza Blasts President Trump For Using The Word “Riots” (Turley)

We have previously discussed how some media organizations told their journalists not to call violence after the death of George Floyd “riots,” including the recently much mocked headline of CNN calling the looting and violence in Kenosha “fiery but mostly peaceful.” Now, Chris Cillizza, an editor-at-large for CNN, is under fire for criticized President Donald Trump for labeling the violence in places like Kenoska “riots.” Critics have noted that the picture posted by Cillizza with this tweet shows a building engulfed in flames. Lawyers notoriously parse terms in ways that often deny their obvious meaning but this effort by some in the media would make a Philadelphia lawyer blush. Cillizza tweeted “Trump’s efforts to label what is happening in major cities as ‘riots’ speaks at least somewhat to his desperation, politically speaking, at the moment.”

I do not deny that both sides are using these riots for political purposes. Trump is using the violence to reinforce a law-and-order theme while Democratic politicians are blaming him for the violence and calling for the 2020 election to be a referendum on racial justice. It is the parsing of the term that intrigues me. In Portland, the Portland police have reportedly declared 13 riots in 80 days. Newspapers in these cities have referred to rioting from Portland to Minneapolis to Kenosa. David Brown, the Chicago Police superintendent, said, “This was not an organized protest, rather, this was an incident of pure criminality.” The coverage of recent looting and rioting has been uneven with networks like CNN spending comparatively limited time reporting on the violence while Fox is covering it exhaustively.

Other outlets like NPR have run segments on how the word “rioting” has racist roots. Whether there are riots depends on what news outlet you use. It is the new reality of echo-journalism. Of course, this dispute turns on a noun that is clearly defined as “public violence, tumult, or disorder.” [..] We have been discussing the concern by many that networks like CNN shape the news to fit a narrative. Fox and MSNBC have been accused of the same practice. Many in the public do not know where to turn for unbiased reporting on the left or the right, according to various polls. Even in acknowledging the importance of the media to our system, the majority of citizens believe that the media actively misrepresents facts. Roughly half view the media as biased. This is why. Of course, this is looting and rioting.

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This was advertized as a “campaign rally”. He was flown out to Pennsylvania for the event, first time he left Delaware in a long time.

The Puppet Candidate in Two Pictures (CT)

This is the image the mainstream media portray:

This is the image that actually reflects the event:

Any questions?…

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In the US today, an Appeals Court can reverse a decision by the DOJ, which all the judges in the court in the end work for. DOJ, prosecution, and defense all agreed the case should be dropped. Months ago.

Appeals Court Denies Flynn Request To Dismiss Case (ZH)

Michael Flynn’s request to force a judge to immediately dismiss his case was shot down by a federal appeals court on Monday. In an 8-2 ruling, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Flynn’s petition to force Judge Emmett Sullivan to accept the Justice Department’s motion to drop charges without holding a hearing, according to The Hill. Flynn’s request that Sullivan be forced to recuse himself was also struck down, after his legal team argued that the judge acted improperly when he appointed a partisan outside attorney to argue against the DOJ’s decision to drop the case, and that it was inappropriate to ask the full circuit court to revisit an earlier decision by a three-member panel of the DC Circuit to drop the case.


Unless Flynn’s lawyers appeal to the Supreme Court, Sullivan will be able to move forward with a hearing about the DOJ’s unusual reversal in the case, before deciding whether to allow the Trump administration to withdraw its charges against the president’s former close aide. Flynn had pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in 2016 election.” -The Hill. The DOJ filed a motion to drop the case against Flynn in May, after it was revealed that the FBI engaged in a ‘perjury trap’ against the former Trump National Security Adviser.

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“After producing documents revealing that the FBI set out to entrap Flynn, had no valid cause to interview him in the first place, and the prosecutors improperly extorted him into a plea by threatening to charge his son, the Justice Department moved to drop all charges.”

Russiagate Won’t End: US Appeals Court Reverses Decision To End Flynn Case (RT)

A full-bench US federal appeals court has reversed an earlier decision to dismiss the ‘Russiagate’ case against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, returning it to the judge who refused to let the charges be dropped. In a 8-2 ruling on Monday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Judge Emmet Sullivan, and sent the case back to him for review. Sullivan had been ordered by a three-judge panel in June to drop the case against Flynn immediately, but hired an attorney and asked for an en banc hearing instead. [..] The former top lawyer for the Barack Obama administration, Neal Katyal, hailed the decision as “an important step in defending the rule of law” and argued the case should not be dismissed because Flynn had pleaded guilty.

Sidney Powell

Flynn had indeed pleaded guilty to one charge of lying to the FBI, but Powell moved to dismiss the charges due to the failure of his previous attorneys – a law firm with ties to the Democrats – and the government to disclose evidence that could set him free. After producing documents revealing that the FBI set out to entrap Flynn, had no valid cause to interview him in the first place, and the prosecutors improperly extorted him into a plea by threatening to charge his son, the Justice Department moved to drop all charges. Sullivan had other ideas, however. In a highly unusual move, he appointed a retired judge – who had just written a diatribe about the case in the Washington Post – to be amicus curiae and argue the case should not be dropped. It was at this point that Powell took the case to the appeals court, citing Fokker, a recent Supreme Court precedent that Sullivan was violating.

Ignoring the fact that Sullivan had appointed the amicus and sought to prolong the case after the DOJ and the appeals court both told him to drop it, the en banc panel argued the proper procedure means he needs to make the decision before it can be appealed. One of the judges, Thomas Griffith, actually argued in a concurring opinion that it would be “highly unusual” for Sullivan not to dismiss the charges, given the executive branch’s constitutional prerogatives and his “limited discretion” when it came to the relevant federal procedure, but said that an order to drop the case is not “appropriate in this case at this time” because it’s up to Sullivan to make the call first.

[..] With Mueller failing to find any evidence of “collusion” between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, Democrats have latched onto Flynn’s case as proof of their ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory. The latest argument is that the effort to drop the charges against Flynn is politically motivated and proof of Attorney General Bill Barr’s “corruption.” Barr is currently overseeing a probe by US attorney John Durham into the FBI’s handling of the investigation against Trump during and after the 2016 election, with the evidence disclosed during the Flynn proceedings strongly implicating not just the senior FBI leadership but senior Obama administration figures as well.

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“Neither the Democratic party nor the Republican party survives a defeat this November in anything close to their current form. I think several people are starting to think about that. But here’s what’s also true: Neither the Democratic party nor the Republican party survives a victory this November. And no one is thinking about that.”

Lucifer’s Hammer (Ben Hunt)

Four years ago, when I wrote that I thought Trump would defeat Clinton, I said that Trump breaks us by turning every one of our domestic political games from a coordination game – where cooperation in the national interest is at least possible – into a pure competition game where that potential cooperation is impossible. He did. That’s exactly what happened. So today, neither the Trump campaign nor the Biden campaign can see the United States through anything other than the lens of a pure competition game.

Neither campaign or party will take the necessary steps to defuse the growing violence in American cities, like Biden calling for Democratic mayors to request National Guard support or like Trump doing anything to accommodate the voices of nonviolent protesters, because they both think that to do so would place them at a competitive disadvantage in the November election. Neither campaign or party is appropriately afraid of this comet hitting the United States, because they both think that they’ll do just fine in a post-comet world.

They both think that they can handle the aftermath of this comet strike after November 4th. They both are listening to their institutional Ego rather than to the Narrator. They are both sowing the wind. And they will both reap the whirlwind. Neither the Democratic party nor the Republican party survives a defeat this November in anything close to their current form. I think several people are starting to think about that. But here’s what’s also true: Neither the Democratic party nor the Republican party survives a victory this November. And no one is thinking about that.

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That 6% figure from the CDC that so many are touting is not what it seems.

No One Wants to Solve Real Problems (Geraghty)

The president of the United States retweeted a link to a post on Gateway Pundit, asserting that the real death toll from COVID-19 is merely 9,000, and that the other roughly 178,000 deaths were because of other factors. That was a pretty egregious misinterpretation of the CDC’s data; the CDC stated, “For 6 percent of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned [on the death certificate]. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.” The list of conditions is long and varied: diabetes, various heart-related conditions including hypertension, cardiac arrest, ischemic heart disease (hardening of the arteries), cardiac arrhythmia and heart disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic lower respiratory diseases, obesity, an immunocompromised state from an organ transplant, coronary art disease, or sickle cell disease.

None of the conditions listed above are death sentences by themselves. With treatment and medication, most people diagnosed with those conditions can live long and happy lives. No one with the slightest understanding of human health can look at someone with one of those conditions listed above dying from COVID-19 and conclude, “that person was going to die soon anyway.” And if your takeaway from this data is that SARS-CoV-2 is only a risk to those with one of those conditions . . . great, now we just have to worry about the 100 million or so Americans with diabetes or prediabetes, the roughly 100 million Americans with high blood pressure, the one in three American adults at risk for chronic kidney disease, the 16 million to 24 million Americans believed to be at risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the 1 in 500 adults who have cardiomyopathy, the millions of Americans either being treated for cancer or who have recovered from cancer, the roughly 100,000 Americans with sickle cell disease, the nearly 49,000 Americans who had an organ transplant last year, and the slightly smaller number of transplant recipients this year.

There are some overlaps among those groups, but we have plenty of Americans who have one or more comorbidities and who would be at risk if they caught SARS-CoV-2.

6%

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Well, we’re all going to be cleaner anyway.

Coronavirus May Survive On Outdoor Surfaces For Longer In Autumn (SCMP)

As the northern hemisphere heads into autumn, the coronavirus may be able to survive on outdoor surfaces for much longer, according to a new US study. Researchers found that in lower temperatures and humidity, the virus could, for example, remain on a hiker’s jacket if it was outside for a week – and remain infectious for that time – whereas in summer its lifespan was estimated to be one to three days. The prolonged survival of the virus on surfaces in autumn could “potentially contribute to new outbreaks”, the team led by Juergen Richt, professor of veterinary microbiology at Kansas State University, wrote in a non-peer-reviewed paper posted on preprint website bioRxiv.org on Monday. They believed the virus would also survive for longer indoors in colder and less humid conditions.

The study found it had an average half-life – or rate of decay – of nearly eight hours on a stainless steel doorknob, or nearly 10 hours on a window, which was about to twice the duration in summer. The coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19, has adapted well to humans. But to survive outside its human hosts – it spreads through respiratory droplets and contaminated surfaces – the pathogen is believed to prefer lower temperatures and humidity. For the study, Richt’s team used climate data from America’s Midwest to recreate artificial seasons in biosafety chambers. Temperature was controlled at 13 degrees Celsius and 66 per cent relative humidity for spring and autumn, while for summer it was kept at 25 degrees and 70 per cent. The virus was then applied to the surface of 12 materials people come into contact with every day, such as cardboard, concrete, rubber, gloves and N95 masks.

The aim was to find out if the viability of the virus changed with the season. Earlier in the pandemic, the research community had hoped the spread of the virus would slow in summer, believing it would be less likely to stay in the air in warmer weather. But the resurgence of infections in many areas – especially the United States, the worst-hit country where more than 80,000 cases per day were recorded at the peak of summer – raised the question of whether there was any seasonal impact at all. The result of the Midwest study “clearly demonstrates that the virus survives longer under spring/fall not summer conditions”, the researchers said in the paper. That trend was observed on all materials tested, to varying degrees. Out of all of them, the virus survived longest on Tyvek, a synthetic material used in everything from home insulation to personal protective equipment and outdoor wear, with a half-life of up to 45 hours.

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So try it on all patients?

Inhaled Nitric Oxide Therapy Benefits Pregnant COVID19 Patients (Harvard)

Inhaled nitric oxide (NO) can be a valuable adjunct respiratory therapy for pregnant women with severe and critical COVID-19, a team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has found. The delivery of the therapeutic gas to six COVID-19 pregnant patients admitted to MGH, as described in a paper in Obstetrics & Gynecology, resulted in a rapid and sustained improvement in cardiopulmonary function and decreased inflammation. The resolution of viral infection within 22 days was observed in five of the six patients, findings that could have important implications for treating viruses like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The study is the first to investigate the role of inhaled NO in pregnant people with COVID-19.

The patients experienced rapid relief from breathlessness, a lower respiratory rate, and better oxygenation after mask administration of high concentration NO, according to Lorenzo Berra in the Department of Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at MGH. Berra also reported no negative side effects. “In addition, inflammatory markers showed a rapid decrease after breathing NO and five of the six patients in our study showed viral clearance from nasopharyngeal swabs by 22 days after COVID-19 diagnosis,” Berra, corresponding author of the study, added. “All patients were discharged in stable condition from the hospital. We found these results to be very encouraging.”

Inhaled NO increases oxygenation by dilating or opening constricted blood vessels, especially in more well-ventilated areas of the lung, thereby improving intrapulmonary shunt fraction, or the percentage of blood put out by the heart that is not completely oxygenated. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized, are at increased risk of being admitted to the intensive care unit, and more often require mechanical ventilation compared to nonpregnant women.

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“I’m against them heart and soul, and I no longer care what my old friends think about it.”

Bill of Particulars (Jim Kunstler)

RussiaGate was, in the strict sense of the word, a conspiracy to overthrow a president carried out by a coordinated effort of high-ranking government employees across many agencies, who knew exactly what they were doing. It was an exercise in perfidy, bad faith, and lawlessness run by the very Department of Justice entrusted with enforcing federal law, including attorney Andrew Weissmann’s clean-up crew fronted by the dishonorable figurehead Robert Mueller. It remains unresolved due to the tensions in that department and the obdurate resistance of the federal courts — for example in the three-year persecution of General Flynn. The eventual day that the hammer comes down on the perps of RussiaGate, if ever it does come, will be a moment of historic moral and ethical clarification in this sore-beset country.

The 2019 impeachment fiasco was a parallel ruse run by Representative Adam Schiff, former Department of Justice lawyer Mary McCord, and Lawfare warrior Daniel S. Goldman, with help from Resistance intriguers in the National Security Council, Eric Ciaramella and Alexander Vindman, and Hillary Clinton’s holdover confederates in the State Department. Mr. Ciaramella’s pretense to be acting as a “whistleblower” was a nakedly false act, illegally abetted by Intel Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, himself a former DOJ RussiaGate player. It is amazing that neither of these two has been indicted for sedition.

Add to these matters the associated misdeeds in the FISA courts, the ridiculous, scurrilous charges against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh by the mendacious Christine Blasey Ford, the ongoing schemes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer to rig the vote with unverifiable mail-in ballots, and the wholesale acts against the public interest by Democratic mayors and governors such as Ted Wheeler, Kate Brown, Bill de Blasio, Andrew Cuomo, Lori Lightfoot, J.B. Pritzker, Ralph Northam, Jacob Frey, Tim Walz, Muriel Bowser, Eric Garcetti, Gavin Newsom, Tony Evers and a wider rogues’ gallery of other Democratic Party subalterns such as Minnesota AG Keith Ellison and NYC education Chancellor Richard Carranza and you have a nearly complete picture of this odious faction.

Finally, add the cherry-on-top: Democratic candidate for president, Joe Biden. Does anybody still believe he is a plausible chief executive — even in his own degenerate party? I doubt it. Why they engineered his nomination may remain one of the great mysteries of human existence. Except perhaps to speculate that their sadism has turned inward and become a suicidal death-wish. They are finally so miserably contemptible that they just want to end it all. Personally, I don’t want to see any of these people anywhere near the levers of power in this country. Quite a few of them deserve to be in jail, and I believe before Mr. Trump’s second term is up, they will be — if they don’t try to wreck the United States altogether with new treasons in the November election. I’m against them heart and soul, and I no longer care what my old friends think about it.

Read more …

As someone tweeted earlier: all we have to do now is wait for Tesla to buy Berkshire Hathaway.

Just Put Your Brain on Tesla Autopilot and Believe in It (WS)

Let’s get this straight: Tesla is led by a CEO who is regularly seen walking on water, and its shares are a supernatural phenomenon. Today, those shares, trading for the first time after the 5-for-1 split, surged from $442.61 at the open to $498.32 at the close and then on to $514.74 after-hours at the moment. That’s a 16.3% ride in one day, following weeks of supernatural moves into the heavens. Below is my Triple-WTF Chart of the Year because it just blew away and annihilated my WTF-Chart of the Year of February 4 and my Double-WTF Chart of the Year of July 1 (stock prices via YCharts):

The stock split did the job, based on the logic that a five-dollar bill broken into five ones makes each of those ones suddenly worth $1.16 — or $1.87 if you start counting since the announcement of the split on August 11. I mean, it’s just pure supernatural, and if you don’t get it, too bad, it’s a sign that you just don’t have the right stuff. Back on July 1, Tesla surpassed Toyota as the most valuable automaker in the world. At the time, Tesla traded at $226 a share ($1,130 pre-split). Since that propitious date two months ago, Tesla has skyrocketed another 127%.


At the time when it blew past Toyota, the value that the market put on Tesla (outstanding shares times share price) was $210 billion, which was – and I mean was – a huge number. Now, after-hours, Tesla’s market capitalization, according to YCharts, is $476 billion. Today alone, Tesla’s market cap soared by $64 billion in eight hours, including after hours. That’s $8 billion in “value created” per hour. If you have to ask, “value created by doing what,” then you don’t have the right stuff. Simple as that.

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I can see how trawling is a problem, but how does that mean there is no point in cleaning it up? How about a different method?

Norwegian Researchers Call Against Cleansing Seas Of Plastic Waste (RT)

Cleaning floating plastic from the sea is a “lost cause” and trying to remove it can actually do more harm than good, new research suggests. Instead, clean-up efforts should focus on rubbish washed ashore. Trying to clean up plastic pollution from the open seas is a “waste of time and resources,” researchers with the Norwegian-based SALT company have concluded. “The rubbish in the sea is a lost cause, there is no point in cleaning it up,” the team said in a newly released research paper. Assorted plastic, that is floating around the seas is way too scattered to be easily removed, the researchers argued. Attempting to trawl it out is not only disproportionately costly and time-consuming, but it can also do more harm than good.

Trawling large areas will catch “too much fish and wildlife compared with the amount of rubbish,” the research team noted. “In addition, rubbish is often found in marine life and organic material that is important for the ecosystems and animals that live there. In the worst case, we risk doing more harm than good by trawling over the areas,” lead author of the research paper Jannike Falk-Andersson told broadcaster NRK. Instead of wasting time and recourses on the high seas clean-ups, people should focus on hand-picking trash washed ashore, which is a far more gentle and effective method. “There, you pick one thing at a time. You do not drag large objects across the beach that kills everything it comes across, in an attempt to clean up,” Falk-Andersson explained.

The research has been praised by Norway’s Climate and Environment Minister Sveinung Rotevatn, who, at the same time, described the plastic pollution as a rapidly escalating problem that must be tackled with a broad international effort. “It is very good that a critical spotlight is placed on clearing plastic in the sea. We have long pointed out that cleaning in the sea areas starts at the wrong end and that there is a risk of damage to life in the sea when trawling for plastic,” Rotevatn told NRK. Over the past years, plastic pollution has become one of the main environmental problems with the amount of waste floating around the oceans growing at alarming rates. According to various estimates, some 15 tons of plastic gets into the planet’s seas every minute.

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How many British people realize they have no justice system left? Doesn’t that worry you?

Waiting for the Old Bailey: Julian Assange (OffG)

On September 7, Julian Assange will be facing another round of gruelling extradition proceedings, in the Old Bailey, part of a process that has become a form of gradual state-sanctioned torture. The US Department of Justice hungers for their man. The UK prison authorities are doing little to protect his health. The end result, should it result in his death, will be justifiably described as state-sanctioned murder. This picture was not improved upon by a prison visit from his partner, Stella Morris, accompanied by their two children. Almost six months had passed since the last meeting. Physical distancing was practised during the twenty-minute meeting in Belmarsh Prison.

Morris and Assange wore face masks and visors, a state of affairs curious given the conspicuous lack of protective wear that has been given to Assange during the pandemic. A prohibition on touching was observed. “We had to keep social distancing and Julian was told he would have to self-isolate for two weeks if he touched the children.” Were officials being careful and considerate? Not according to Assange, who claimed it was the first time he had received a mask “because things are very different behind the doors.” Morris noted a prevailing thinness, a yellow armband to indicate prisoner status, and the fact that he was “in a lot of pain.”

What awaits Assange next month promises to be resoundingly ugly. He will have to ready himself for more pain, applied by Judge Vanessa Baraitser. Throughout her steering of proceedings, Baraitser has remained chillingly indifferent to Assange’s needs, a model of considered cruelty. Keen followers of justicia will be crestfallen: limiting access to legal counsel by keeping him caged behind a glass screen; ignoring his health considerations in refusing emergency bail during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her behaviour has been in keeping with that of Chief Magistrate Lady Emma Arbuthnot, who has done her precious bit to soil the citadel of British justice in previous rulings on Assange. With a family well and truly embedded in the British intelligence and military establishment, it was alarming to even see her name allocated to the Assange case.

Read more …

 

 

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Three miles north of purgatory – one step from the great beyond
I prayed to the cross, and I kissed the girls, and I crossed the Rubicon

– Bob Dylan

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 232020
 


Berenice Abbott Triple Bridge New York 1950

 

Biden Labels Trump First Racist US President (R.)
Biden Just Made A Big Promise To His Wall Street Donors (Sirota)
US House Votes To Banish From Capitol Statues Of Who Championed Slavery (R.)
America’s Problem With Policing Doesn’t Stop at the US Border (IC)
COVID19 Vaccines With ‘Minor Side Effects’ Could Still Be Pretty Bad (Wired)
Sweden Hoped Herd Immunity Would Curb COVID19 (25 Swedish Doctors, Scientists)
Richard Wolff: Capitalism May Not Survive 2020 Global Crisis (RT)
Volatility Is More Than A Number. It’s Everything (RIA)
Fake-Shaped Russophobia (RT)
She Clicked A Button On The Wells Fargo Website. Here’s What Happened (NBC)
Work-from-Home A Nightmare for Office Landlords & Surrounding Businesses (WS)
Tesla’s 1st Four-Quarter Profit Streak: Fat Payout For Musk, S&P 500 Entry (F.)
Canada Court Rules ‘Safe Third Country’ Pact With US Invalid (R.)
Twitter Says 36 Accounts Were Hacked, Including Dutch Elected Official (R.)
CIA ‘Obsessed’ With Former UK Envoy Craig Murray (CN)
Cancel Culture Takes The Fun Out Of Life – John Cleese (ZH)
Russian Zoologist Warns Polar Bears Could Be Extinct Within A Generation (RT)

 

 

Joe Biden calls Trump the first racist US president. Now people will really think he’s nuts. Did his handlers make him say that, teleprompter, or did he have a ‘lucid’ moment? Might as well put all those statues back up again then. But not the confederate ones. Focus has shifted from slaveowners to southerners now for Pelosi et al.

Convenient. All the bad people are in the south, and all the good people are in the north. Even Americans can understand things that way. And Washington and Jefferson are safe for now. And so is Biden’s very racist friend Strom Thurmond. Oh wait, wasn’t he a southerner? I hope I’m not the only one who thinks this has fast become a really stupid conversation. Worthy of a US presidential election.

 

 

Anothe new world record.

US passes 4 million cases.

New US deaths are back to the levels of late May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topol

Ben Hunt

 

 

Did his puppeteers lose sight of him for a moment? Or was this planned?

Biden Labels Trump First Racist US President (R.)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden labeled Donald Trump on Wednesday the first racist to become U.S. president in remarks his opponent’s re-election campaign quickly rebuked. Biden, who was vice president under Barack Obama, the first Black U.S. president, fielded a question at a Service Employees International Union roundtable from a healthcare worker concerned about the Republican president calling the coronavirus pandemic the “China virus.” He responded by saying it was “absolutely sickening” how Trump “deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from.”


He added: “No sitting president’s ever done this. Never, never, never. No Republican president has done this. No Democratic president. We’ve had racists, and they’ve existed, and they’ve tried to get elected president. He’s the first one that has.” Trump campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson fired back, calling Biden’s comments “an insult to the intelligence of Black voters” given the onetime senator’s past work with segregationist lawmakers. She said Trump “loves all people” and “works hard to empower all Americans.” A number of U.S. presidents owned slaves or supported policies including the repression of Native Americans and segregation of Black Americans. Princeton University said last month it was dropping former President Woodrow Wilson’s name from the school, citing his racist thinking and policies.

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Here’s Sirota from the Bernie camp again. Where’s Bernie though?

Biden Just Made A Big Promise To His Wall Street Donors (Sirota)

Two weeks ago, Joe Biden rightly received praise for creating policy task forces that released a package of progressive legislative initiatives. The proposals augmented Biden’s previous legislative initiatives to change corporate behavior. The task forces were meant to unify the Democratic Party after the primary and their recommendations were blared all over the world in glowing headlines promising an era of progressive change under a Biden administration. Then this past Monday, Biden told his Wall Street donors that actually, he will propose no new legislation to rein in corporate power or change corporate behavior — and this was reported exactly nowhere, even as his campaign blasted it out to the national press corps.

You don’t have to believe me, you can click here to read the full pool report that the Biden campaign distributed to the press after his teleconference fundraiser. That event was headlined by Jon Gray, a top executive at the Blackstone Group, which is a private equity behemoth at the center of the climate, health care, housing and pension crises. Blackstone executives had already donated $130,000 to the Biden campaign and $350,000 to a super PAC supporting him. Here’s the relevant section, reviewing what Biden said: “Second question, again from Mr. Gray, who noted that there are “a bunch of business leaders” on the line. “What do you think is essential to get this economy rolling again?” “I come from the corporate state of American, many of you incorporated here,” said Mr. Biden.


“It used to be that corporate America had a sense of responsibility beyond just CEO salaries and shareholders.” “Corporate America has to change its ways. It’s not going to require legislation. I’m not proposing any. We’ve got to think about how we deal people back in.” There’s an obvious contradiction here. Before making these comments, Biden had previously promised to pass legislative initiatives to change corporate behavior on everything from climate change to tax policy. He has an entire section of his website outlining promises to pass corporate accountability legislation. He has received praise for these kind of promises. But now he’s telling his donors they can rest assured that legislation to change corporate behavior is not forthcoming. Indeed, read Biden’s comment again: “It’s not going to require legislation. I’m not proposing any.”

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So now it’s about Confederates, but no longer about slaveholders? It’s hard to follow at times.

US House Votes To Banish From Capitol Statues Of Who Championed Slavery (R.)

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to remove statues honoring those who upheld slavery or joined the Confederacy from the Capitol building, which houses statues selected by all 50 states. The statues and busts include one honoring former U.S. Chief Justice Roger Taney, who authored a key decision supporting slavery. Democrats have also pointed to a statue of John C. Breckinridge, a former vice president and senator who was expelled from the body after joining the Confederate army. Democratic Representative Barbara Lee called the statues “painful symbols of bigotry and racism.” She said they did “nothing more than keep white supremacy front-and-center in one of the most influential buildings in the world.”

The bill passed by a vote of 305-113, with Republicans deeply divided. The bill must also be approved by the Republican-controlled Senate and signed by President Donald Trump. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has not indicated whether he would bring the bill to a vote. Trump has lashed out at the idea of removing statues, accusing Democrats of wanting to erase the nation’s history. He has threatened to veto a House-passed $740 billion bill setting policy for the Pentagon because it contains language that would require the military to remove the names of former Confederate leaders from its bases.


Taney wrote the majority opinion in the 1857 “Dred Scott” case, ruling that Black Americans could not be considered citizens and that Congress could not prohibit slavery. It later was overturned by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which was adopted in 1868. Representative James Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, told reporters his party was not advocating the destruction of statues, adding they could be placed in museums “until the states that sent them up here … can come and get them.”

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It is beyond me how on earth you can write a piece like this without mentioning Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Reality Winner even once. It makes your piece worse than worthless.

America’s Problem With Policing Doesn’t Stop at the US Border (IC)

George Floyd wasn’t the first victim of state violence in the United States; law enforcement officers have killed countless people who were never properly memorialized and for whom justice was never sought. Part of what made Floyd’s murder especially cruel — setting off what may be the largest protest movement in U.S. history — is that it was a public execution that lasted for 8 minutes and 46 seconds and was broadcast online. Floyd gave a face, a story, and a video to the issue of state violence situated in white supremacy. As civil rights attorney David Lane has written, “Police brutality hasn’t increased. Videoing brutal cops has increased and white America is finally seeing it.”

Now that Floyd’s murder has forced a national conversation about policing within our country’s borders, it’s time the American public begins to reckon with the victims of our foreign policy abroad. Since waging the war on Iraq, how many Americans can name a single one of the approximately 200,000 civilian casualties of that war? Even when exposed to the gross images of torture at Abu Ghraib at the hands of members of the U.S. military, the victims’ faces remained blurred and their names unknown.

What if we knew the names, faces, and stories of the victims of Eddie Gallagher, the war criminal pardoned by President Donald Trump who, according to his colleagues, would be OK with “killing anybody that was moving” during his time in Iraq? Or the 30 pine nut farm workers in Afghanistan caught off guard by a U.S. drone in 2019? When the U.S. military chooses to publicize its actions abroad, the videos we get of drone strikes usually include little more than a sudden green haze demonstrating the might of American weaponry. We don’t hear the last cries of the unsuspecting victims. We don’t see them hold each other tight, hoping they’ll somehow be missed. We see our machinery, but never their humanity. They don’t even become hashtags: just hidden casualties.

For years, researchers have logged the details of America’s opaque drone war, a fulcrum of the war on terror that is a signature part of President Barack Obama’s legacy, now continued by Trump. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that up to 17,000 people have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia, while Airwars has tracked reports of nearly 30,000 civilians being killed by the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The Intercept in 2015 published a secret cache of U.S. government documents detailing the inner workings of the drone program, and a New York Times investigation in 2017 found that civilians were killed at a rate 31 times higher than that acknowledged by the anti-ISIS coalition.

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Because of this people will refuse to take the vaccines if they are ever released.

COVID19 Vaccines With ‘Minor Side Effects’ Could Still Be Pretty Bad (Wired)

More good news on progress toward an escape route from this pandemic: On Monday, vaccine researchers from Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced results from a “Phase I/II trial,” suggesting their product might be able to generate immunity without causing serious harm. Similar, but smaller-scale results, were posted just last week for another candidate vaccine produced by the biotech firm Moderna, in collaboration with the US National Institutes of Health. As both these groups and others push ahead into the final phase of testing, it’s vital that the public has a clear and balanced understanding of this work—one that cuts through all the marketing and hype. But we’re not off to a good start.

The evidence so far suggests that we’re getting blinkered by these groups’ PR, and so seduced by stories of their amazing speed that we’re losing track of everything else. In particular, neither the mainstream media nor the medical press has given much attention to the two vaccines’ potential downsides—in particular, their risk of nasty adverse effects, even if they’re not life-threatening. This sort of puffery doesn’t only help to build a false impression; it may also dry the tinder for the future spread of vaccine fearmongering. If journalists don’t start asking tougher questions, this will become the perfect setup for anti-vaccine messaging: Here’s what they forgot to tell you about the risks … Back in May, a CNN report described the Oxford group as being “the most aggressive in painting the rosiest picture” of its product, so let’s start with them.

Just how rosy is the Oxford picture really? It’s certainly true that this week’s news shows the vaccine has the potential to provide protection from Covid-19. But there are flies in the ointment. After the first clinical trial for this vaccine began in April, for example, the researchers added new study arms in which people got acetaminophen every six hours for 24 hours after the injection. That’s not featured in their marketing, of course, and I saw no discussion of this unusual step in media coverage in early summer. Newspapers only said the vaccine had been proven “safe with rhesus monkeys,” and did not cause any adverse effects in those animal tests. It was a worrying signal though: How rough a ride were people having with this vaccine? Was the acetaminophen meant to keep down fever, headaches, malaise—or all of the above?

The Oxford group is also giving acetaminophen to participants in an advanced, phase III trial now underway in Brazil too. In another major study of the vaccine, involving 10,000 people in the UK, you can’t participate if you have an allergy or condition that could be made worse with acetaminophen. No mention of the extra drug, though, in the same group’s trial in South Africa. Journalists could have pressed them on this issue months ago. The first people to get vaccines are carefully picked to be the least likely to have a negative reaction. If the Oxford vaccine is knocking them around badly, it might not bode well for the rest of us. Don’t get me wrong: A day or two of pain or illness wouldn’t deter me from getting an effective Covid-19 vaccine. But I think we need to be prepared if that’s going to be the case.

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Quite the put-down.

Sweden Hoped Herd Immunity Would Curb COVID19 (25 Swedish Doctors, Scientists)

The motives for the Swedish Public Health Agency’s light-touch approach are somewhat of a mystery. Some other countries that initially used this strategy swiftly abandoned it as the death toll began to increase, opting instead for delayed lockdowns. But Sweden has been faithful to its approach. Why? Gaining herd immunity, where large numbers of the population (preferably younger) are infected and thereby develop immunity, has not been an official goal of the Swedish Public Health Agency. But it has said immunity in the population could help suppress the spread of the disease, and some agency statements suggest it is the secret goal.

Further evidence of this is that the agency insists on mandatory schooling for young children, the importance of testing has been played down for a long time, the agency refused to acknowledge the importance of asymptomatic spread of the virus (concerningly, it has encouraged those in households with COVID-19 infected individuals to go to work and school) and still refuses to recommend masks in public, despite the overwhelming evidence of their effectiveness. In addition, the stated goal of the Swedish authorities was always not to minimize the epidemic, but rather slow it down, so that the health care system wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

Several authorities, including the World Health Organization, have condemned herd immunity as a strategy. “It can lead to a very brutal arithmetic that does not put people and life and suffering at the center of that equation,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a press conference in May. Regardless of whether herd immunity is a goal or a side effect of the Swedish strategy, how has it worked out? Not so well, according to the agency’s own test results. The proportion of Swedes carrying antibodies is estimated to be under 10%, thus nowhere near herd immunity. And yet, the Swedish death rate is unnerving. Sweden has a death toll greater than the United States: 556 deaths per million inhabitants, compared with 425, as of July 20.

Sweden also has a death toll more than four and a half times greater than that of the other four Nordic countries combined — more than seven times greater per million inhabitants. For a number of weeks, Sweden has been among the top in the world when it comes to current reported deaths per capita. And despite this, the strategy in essence remains the same.

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Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Richard Wolff: Capitalism May Not Survive 2020 Global Crisis (RT)

The current global crisis triggered by Covid-19 is the third capitalist crash in this century. And governments’ incapacity to consider non-capitalist solutions threatens to keep deepening this crisis into capitalism’s worst. [..] Because capitalism’s periodic downturns (crashes, recessions, depressions, crises, business cycles, busts, etc.) occur on average every four to seven years, attributing each one to its different trigger has the effect of distracting attention from the system’s inherent instability. It also distracts from other basic problems that global capitalism has never solved. Those have now exploded together, converging on this capitalist downturn to make it extreme. Here are the five converging crises. Each country will exhibit its own mixture of some or all of them. The United States suffers them all, and this partly is why its economic crash and coronavirus pandemic are so extreme.

The first is climate change (rising air and water temperatures, floods, droughts, fires, etc.) that disrupts the world economy in multiple ways. The second is inequality. As French economist Thomas Piketty and countless others have shown, capitalism worsens inequality of wealth and income continuously unless and until the mass of impoverished revolt or threaten to. The third is racism. Many capitalist societies divide their people into portions kept relatively safe from capitalism’s recurring crashes and portions obliged to absorb them and their terrible consequences of poverty, unemployment, slum dwelling, poor education, inadequate medical care, and so on. It is simply too dangerous for capitalism’s reproduction over time to threaten its entire working class with random, periodic unemployment, poverty, etc. In the US, African-Americans have played the role of crisis shock-absorber throughout the nation’s history. In other countries, religious or ethnic minorities or immigrants play that role.

The fourth is instability, the periodic crashes that accelerate inequality and reinforce racism. And the fifth is the viral pandemic. Private profit calculations lead private corporations almost everywhere to NOT produce and stockpile the means to contain viral pandemics. Because governments pander to the idea that private, profit-maximizing capitalists are paragons of “efficiency,” they mostly failed to compensate for the private capitalists’ failure. So the pandemic was inadequately prepared-for and inadequately contained. The more each government was committed to laissez-faire capitalism, the less it offset private capitalism’s lack of preparedness for dangerous viruses, and the worst is the coronavirus pandemic. The US and Brazil are today’s glaring examples.

The five converging crises persuade me that today’s global crisis will cut deeper and last longer than most are currently predicting. The logical response to the 2020 crisis would have been to keep all workers employed doing all that was necessary to contain the pandemic. This means, for example, government rehiring those fired by private employers, massively training them to test entire populations, to take care of the sick, and to otherwise build what the society needs (infrastructure, education, housing, etc) under pandemic conditions of social distancing, masks, gloves, etc.

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I like the people at RIA. But look, if we can agree that the Fed sets prices in what were once markets, which they no longer are precisely because of that, can we perhaps agree that terms like “volatility” are then also rendered entirely meaningless?

Volatility Is More Than A Number. It’s Everything (RIA)

The assumption of a normally distributed bell curve is at the heart of finance. Embedded in that assumption is the idea that market participants are rational and markets efficient. It drives risk management, option pricing, and many economic and market theories. The problem with such analysis is that the assumption is flat out wrong. In a normal shaped curve, the S&P 500 should never move by more than five standard deviations up or down. By “never,” we mean once every 3.5 million trading days (approximately 14,000 years). Since 1970 there have been 34 such days. In March of 2020 alone, there were 7! Quite often, investors use volatility to define risk. For instance, with S&P 500 data from 1970, an investor can assume, with 95% certainty, that they will not lose more than 2.16% on any given day.

By annualizing volatility, we can create measures of longer-term risks. Investors often take the relationship between volatility and risk as gospel. That mistake often leads investors to underappreciate risk. Astute investors must understand the flaws in volatility assumptions and prepare for the statistically impossible. Now forget the bell curves and complicated statistics. Let’s redefine volatility to something simpler and more practical. “Volatility is the opposite of liquidity, by definition.” – Per Todd Harrison @toddharrison. Here is what Todd means. Market A has buyers and sellers willing to execute many shares in tight price increments around the current price. Market B has few buyers and sellers willing to execute. Their bids and offers are smaller in size and in a less uniform range of increments around the current price.


A will trade up and down, penny by penny, in a somewhat orderly fashion. B will trade up and down in much larger increments as buyers and sellers must relent more on price if they want to execute at the moment. A is more liquid than market B. As a result, A will also be less volatile than B. Liquidity dynamics are fluid. If, for instance, confidence were to erode and uncertainty increases, liquidity conditions underlying Market A will deteriorate rapidly and look more like Market B. Such a situation leads to an imbalance in bids and offers, and it becomes less clear where the market-clearing price is. As a result, prices “gap” or lurch down as potential buyers step away. Desperate seller then panic to find a price to transact. In other words, volatility soars when markets are less liquid. Conversely, volatility is low and stable when markets have an equilibrium of bids and offers concentrated around a common price.

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We should force these wankers to stop blaming Russia for eveything. This has gotten dangerously out of hand. Never any proof.

Fake-Shaped Russophobia (RT)

Russian officials have dismissed a new British parliamentary report on Moscow’s alleged clandestine interference in UK politics, saying it lacks proof and is laced with Russophobia. The report by London’s Intelligence and Security Committee, released on Tuesday, has shown “nothing sensational” and is just “fake shaped Russophobia,” said Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry. The deputy chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Russian Parliament, Aleksey Chepa, said the document attempted to blame Russia for the failures of the British government and “was not worth a penny”. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said ahead of the report’s official publication that he would bet that the document would be “just a new round of evidence-free allegations.”

Peskov noted that numerous attempts to place Russia at the centre of the outcome of elections in other countries had merely “produced negative results and failed to prove anything.” He added that Moscow never interfered in the domestic political affairs of other nations and worked hard to prevent foreign players from interfering in Russia’s own politics. The long-awaited 55-page report claimed that Moscow has been waging “influence campaigns” targeting British politics, using digital media, wealthy individuals, and other means. The MPs said national intelligence needed more legislative powers and tools to counter the “unique challenge” of Russia.


British state media also operates in Russia and covers the Russian political scene, strongly favoring opposition movements. Among other things, the report claimed that Russia had secretly had a hand in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, but said public allegations that it had influenced the 2016 Brexit referendum could not be confirmed by British intelligence. Some have pointed out that this suits the present British government which supports Brexit, but opposes Scottish independence.

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The real cancel culture?!

She Clicked A Button On The Wells Fargo Website. Here’s What Happened (NBC)

In March, Tammi Wilson was checking on her family’s mortgage online at Wells Fargo when she saw a link to information about COVID-19 on the bank’s website. After clicking through, she provided contact information so she could receive materials on programs at the bank. Days later, she said, she returned to the payment page to transmit what she and her husband, David, owed on their loan. A message popped up saying she had no active accounts and couldn’t make the payment. Wilson later learned what had happened. Without her knowledge, the bank had put her into a program that suspended payments on her federally backed loan. Known as forbearance, it is a CARES Act program that aims to help borrowers who are having trouble making their payments because they’ve been hurt by COVID-19.

Because she hadn’t asked for forbearance, Wilson continued to make all her family’s mortgage payments. She has also spent hours on the phone with Wells Fargo to get out of the program. Finally, on July 1, the bank sent her a letter confirming her request to “opt out” of the program she said she never opted into. Still, Wilson’s credit report, dated July 18 and reviewed by NBC News, shows that the family mortgage is “in forbearance” and that the April and May payments weren’t credited to the account, even though the Wilsons submitted them. While in forbearance, Wilson and her husband almost certainly can’t refinance their mortgage, because most banks won’t underwrite new loans for borrowers whose mortgage payments are suspended.

As long as the forbearance notation remains in their credit report, the Wilsons can’t take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates and are stuck at Wells Fargo. “I click this button and next thing I know, I’m getting a thing that says I’m deferred and I can’t reverse something I didn’t even want,” Wilson said in an interview. “If you’re going to help people, there is a super simple first step — just ask, ‘Do you need our help?'” Under the CARES Act, which provides help on loans backed by the government-sponsored companies Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae and others, borrowers harmed by COVID-19 can ask to suspend their mortgage payments for up to a year. The amounts they owe during the period are either tacked onto the ends of the loans or paid off before. No additional fees, interest or penalties can accrue on the loans while they are in forbearance.

Last week, NBC News reported on borrowers in Chapter 13 bankruptcy whom Wells Fargo had placed, without their permission, in forbearance programs. But the bank’s practice extends beyond such specialized borrowers, some of whom contacted NBC News. Wells Fargo is one of the largest U.S. banks that underwrites and services home loans. Borrowers in at least 14 states have told courts, lawyers or NBC News that they have been forced into forbearance plans by Wells Fargo: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

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And the entire car industry.

Work-from-Home A Nightmare for Office Landlords & Surrounding Businesses (WS)

This appears to be an increasingly global phenomenon. Roughly 60% of bank executives in the US said they don’t expect all of their employees to return to the office. And over 40% said they plan to reduce their real estate footprint in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey of US bank executives by Accenture Plc. Some banks are already making long-term changes. In Midtown Manhattan, French megabank BNP Paribas renewed its lease at the 787 Seventh Avenue tower. But it shrank its footprint by 38%: According to the Commercial Observer, instead of renewing the lease for the 454,200 it currently occupies at the building, it signed a lease for only 280,000 square feet.

In London, large financial institutions are the biggest tenants of the toniest commercial real estate. And they are now seriously reevaluating not only how much workspace they require but what sort of form it should take. Even allowing for physical distancing measures, such as the separation of desks, most companies now have a lot more office space than they think they’ll need, especially if they end up laying off large numbers of workers when the government’s job retention scheme comes to an end, which is scheduled to happen in September. Goldman Sachs and Nomura said over the weekend that they plan to send only 10% of their UK workforce back to their City of London offices.


Last week, the 30 biggest employers in the City of London said they only intend to bring 20-40% of their workforce back in the coming months. One of the UK’s “Big Four” banks, RBS (which was renamed “Natwest” today in yet another re-branding exercise for the scandal-tarnished lender) announced that close to 50,000 of its 63,000 workers will continue working from home, at least for the rest of this year. [..] That the British government can’t even persuade RBS — which is still 63% owned by the British State following the bailout during the Financial Crisis — to get its workers back into the office does not augur well for its efforts to halt or reverse the trend toward home working. By now, 49% of all UK workers are working from home, up from 5% just before the lockdown.

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The Fed blows bubbles.

Tesla’s 1st Four-Quarter Profit Streak: Fat Payout For Musk, S&P 500 Entry (F.)

Tesla has finally racked up four consecutive profitable quarters, a decade after the iconic electric-car maker’s IPO, ensuring that controversial CEO Elon Musk will receive a massive stock payout worth more than $2 billion and likely paving the way for it to join the S&P 500. Musk also said Tesla’s next auto-assembly plant will be built in Austin, Texas. The company reported second-quarter net income of $104 million and earnings per share of 50 cents, topping consensus expectations of an adjusted loss per share of 11 cents. Revenue was $6.04 billion, down from a year ago but beating a consensus estimate of $5.4 billion. As usual, sales of regulatory credits to other automakers were a lucrative revenue source, bringing in $428 million of free money in the quarter (and a record $732 million in the first half).

The results come after a turbulent first half in which Musk’s aggressive growth plans were thrown off track by the coronavirus pandemic that disrupted vehicle production at the company’s main plant in California. Although frustration with health officials in Tesla’s home state triggered a series of erratic tweets and threats to relocate to other parts of the U.S., production operations seemed to return to normal in the quarter’s second half. “We consider the quarter a low-quality beat,” CFRA equity analyst Garret Nelson said in a research note, as “results were boosted by an unusually high level of auto regulatory credit revenue.” The surprisingly large $428 million credit figure compares to an average of $183 million over the last four quarters, according to Nelson, who rates the shares a Sell.


“While TSLA once again managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat for earnings, we believe its share price has become decoupled from underlying fundamentals and see growing risks surrounding the story as shares increasingly appear priced to perfection.” Nevertheless, the results make it likely that Tesla’s board will certify requirements for the second tranche of Musk’s massive multiyear pay package have been met, including market capitalization averaging $150 billion over trailing 60- and 30-day periods and Tesla achieving either EBITDA of $3 billion or revenue of $35 billion over four consecutive quarters.

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Canada’s Charter of Rights.

Canada Court Rules ‘Safe Third Country’ Pact With US Invalid (R.)

A Canadian court on Wednesday ruled invalid a bilateral pact that compels asylum seekers trying to enter Canada via the American border to first seek sanctuary in the United States, saying U.S. immigration detention violates their human rights. Under the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), asylum seekers who arrive at a formal Canada-U.S. border crossing going in either direction are turned back and told to apply for asylum in the first country they arrived in. Lawyers for refugees who had been turned away at the Canadian border challenged the pact, saying the United States does not qualify as a “safe” country under President Donald Trump.


Federal Court Judge Ann Marie McDonald ruled that the agreement was in violation of a section of Canada’s Charter of Rights that says laws or state actions that interfere with life, liberty and security must conform to the principles of fundamental justice. McDonald suspended her decision for six months to give Parliament a chance to respond. The agreement remains in place during that time.

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Word in Holland is the official is Geert Wilders. Meanwhile, Kim Dotcom says the hackers got in through a backdoor built for US intelligence, which gives them access to everything.

Twitter Says 36 Accounts Were Hacked, Including Dutch Elected Official (R.)

Twitter said on Wednesday that the hackers who breached its systems last week likely read the direct messages of 36 accounts, including one belonging to an elected official in the Netherlands. In tweets from its support account and an updated blog post, Twitter said it had no indication that the private messages of any other elected officials were obtained. Twitter previously said the attackers tweeted from 45 “verified” accounts, including those belonging to such well-known names as CEOs Elon Musk and Bill Gates and former Vice President Joe Biden.


Asked by Reuters if the 36 accounts where messages might have been read included any verified accounts, Twitter said it would not answer. In general, someone with the ability to tweet from an account would also be able to read previously sent or received messages that had not been deleted. That would make it likely that some of the most famous people in the world had private messages read by hackers still at large. The FBI is investigating the case from its San Francisco office.

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Offered info on Assange. Mueller ignored him too. Knew it wasn’t the info he wanted to hear. Coward.

CIA ‘Obsessed’ With Former UK Envoy Craig Murray (CN)

The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange says he was the “top target” of the 24/7 surveillance of Assange at Ecuador’s embassy in London by the Spanish security company UC Global, which, according to press reports and court documents, shared the surveillance with the CIA. Craig Murray said he has been contacted by an attorney in the spying case on Assange and that he will be going to Madrid to testify. The founder of UC Global, David Morales, was arrested over the surveillance (including privileged Assange-lawyer conversations) and is on trial. Murray told former CIA analyst Ray McGovern in an email, shared with Consortium News with Murray’s permission, that the CIA was “obsessed” with him.

Murray told McGovern that he had offered to give evidence to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who spent $32 million and more than two years investigating an alleged conspiracy between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, including how WikiLeaks obtained emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Mueller concluded there was no evidence of a conspiracy between Moscow and Trump, but maintained Russian agents “hacked” the emails and delivered them to WikiLeaks for publication. Murray has said that different persons with legal access to the DNC and Podesta emails were WikiLeaks’ sources.


“I wrote to Mueller offering to give evidence, never received any reply,” Murray wrote to McGovern on Wednesday. “Never had any request for an interview by any US authorities.” Murray then wrote, “BUT I received a message from the lawyer in the case in Madrid about the spying on Assange in the Embassy, contracted by the CIA, which said that I was the ‘top target’ for the contractors and the evidence shows they were ‘obsessed with’ me. I shall be going to Madrid to give evidence.” Murray added: “Just why the US security services declined my offer of free evidence yet were obsessed with spying on me is an interesting question…”

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empleomania

Cancel Culture Takes The Fun Out Of Life – John Cleese (ZH)

Former Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star John Cleese has had enough of political correctness and the cancel culture, and as for the state of the “dysfunctional world we live in,” warning that “it’s completely hopeless…” As for the sense of hopelessness he feels, Cleese blames the “power seekers.” “I believe there’s something wrong with these people. The reason they want to be powerful is that they want to control people, so that they don’t get lathered into situations that they can’t control emotionally. The one thing they fear is losing power, so they’ll do almost anything to hold on to it. If they don’t know what they’re doing or what they’re talking about, there’s no way (the world) will ever get well.”

The 80 year old comedian is as politically savvy as he is humorous as he brings his one-man-show “Why There Is No Hope” to live-stream after blasting the BBC last month as “cowardly and gutless” for temporarily taking down an episode of Fawlty Towers that made fun of Germans and World War II and also featured a character using a racial slur. Cancel culture “misunderstands the main purposes of life which is to have fun”, Cleese told Reuters, referring to the trend in which people are ostracised because of behaviour or remarks seen as objectionable. “Everything humorous is critical. If you have someone who is perfectly kind and intelligent and flexible and who always behaves appropriately, they’re not funny. Funniness is about people who don’t do that, like Trump.”


Summing the current state of the world up perfectly, Cleese says, the problem with political correctness, he added, is that comedians “have to set the bar according to what we are told by the most touchy, most emotionally unstable and fragile and least stoic people in the country”.

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Females can’t keep their babies alive anymore.

Russian Zoologist Warns Polar Bears Could Be Extinct Within A Generation (RT)

A shocking new study has found that polar bears could be made extinct by the end of the century unless decisive steps are taken to combat climate change. But a Russian zoologist believes it could happen before 2040. In an interview with news agency NCN, Russian TV presenter and prominent zoologist Nikolai Drozdov predicted that polar bears will be extinct in the Arctic within a generation. “According to my most moderate forecasts, the extinction of the species may occur even earlier than 2100. I think that it will happen in 20 years,” he said. The initial report, published in the British journal Nature Climate Change, has revealed that some polar bear populations are already on the brink of survival, due to shrinking ice cover in the Arctic Ocean. Less ice means that the bears are forced to travel a greater distance, or move inland, to find food.


The scientists behind the study calculated that if the world maintains the present high levels of greenhouse gas emissions all but a few will disappear from the wild by 2100. According to Dr. Stephen Amstrup, chief scientist at Polar Bears International, the survival rate of newborn polar bears will decrease as “the females won’t have enough body fat to produce milk to bring them along through the ice-free season.” The reason for Drozdov’s much more pessimistic prediction is also nutrition. According to him, male polar bears can’t find food and don’t go into hibernation, while females have offspring which need to be fed – but there’s not enough. In 2019, Russian polar bears made headlines across the planet when dozens were seen trying to enter homes on the Arctic island of Novaya Zemlya. According to Russia’s World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the animals were being forced into villages to search for food.

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Jul 142020
 


DPC The Wizard Tree, Cathedral Woods, North Conway, White Mountains, New Hampshire 1900

 

Pandemic May Get ‘Worse And Worse And Worse’ – WHO (RT)
US Kids At Higher Risk From Coronavirus Than Kids In Other Countries (CNBC)
Hong Kong To Impose Most Severe Social Distancing Restrictions (R.)
Italian Doctors: Effects of COVID-19 Worse Than First Thought (Sky)
Japan Has Long Accepted COVID’s Airborne Spread (CBS)
California’s New Lockdown Dims Outlook For US Growth In Pandemic (R.)
Federal Reserve’s $3 Trillion Virus Rescue Inflates Market Bubbles (R.)
Goya “Boycott” Becomes “Buycott” (ZH)
FBI Believed Michael Flynn Was ‘Forthcoming’ And ‘Telling Truth’ (Solomon)
Trump Doesn’t Rule Out Pardoning Michael Flynn (CNBC)
Roger Stone Judge Demands To See Trump Clemency Order (ZH)
Weissmann To Publish Insider Account Of Trump-Russia Investigation (G.)
Top Mueller Aide Weissmann Calls For Roger Stone To Face Grand Jury (Turley)

 

 

Well, I did warn about those second lockdowns, and said they would be much harder than the first ones. Never let a lockdown go to waste, they’re against human -social- nature, no matter how needed they may be. It’s also stunning to see how unprepared everybody is for entering one. There’s no organization anywhere. There should be playbooks for these things, it’s not improv theater. You need to be able to identify the weakest people in society, and look after them.

And in the present day US, where everyone is hellbent on not listening to one another anymore, this can only lead to big trouble. Increasingly, the virus is becoming a political attribute, even if that is about the worst idea imaginable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But who still listens to the WHO?

Pandemic May Get ‘Worse And Worse And Worse’ – WHO (RT)

The Covid-19 pandemic is set to get “worse and worse” if countries do not stick to strict healthcare guidelines, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. The disease has already killed more than half-a-million globally. Speaking on Monday during a press briefing from the agency’s headquarters in Geneva via videolink, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gave an alarming prognosis on the pandemic’s course. “Let me be blunt. Too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one,” Tedros said. “If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go: it is going to get worse and worse and worse.”


The grim prognosis comes after the WHO registered a record daily increase in active coronavirus cases worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic. On Sunday, the global health watchdog registered some 230,370 new cases of the virus. The Covid-19 death rate remains steady, claiming around 5,000 lives on a daily basis. The global coronavirus tally for confirmed infections has risen above the 13-million mark, according to Reuters’ figures for the pandemic. Over 560,000 people have succumbed to the disease. The US, Brazil and India remain the worst-hit nations, accounting for nearly a half of all cases.

Read more …

“.. young people in the U.S. are generally sicker than young people in Sweden, for example. ”

US Kids At Higher Risk From Coronavirus Than Kids In Other Countries (CNBC)

Children in the U.S. are more likely than kids in other countries to have underlying conditions that place them at an increased risk of becoming severely sick with Covid-19, complicating the U.S. debate over how and whether to reopen schools this fall, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Monday. President Donald Trump has been pressuring U.S. schools to reopen this fall, tweeting last week that schools in “Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, along with many other countries” were “open with no problems.” But Gottlieb said Monday it’s difficult to compare the U.S. to most of those countries because they were able to bring the level of daily infection down to a manageable degree before reopening schools.

The outbreak in the U.S., in contrast, continues to set daily new records as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on local officials to commit to reopening schools. The U.S. is suffering from the worst Covid-19 outbreak in the world with more than 3.3 million confirmed cases so far and at least 135,200 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. “The only country that had schools open against a backdrop of a fair degree of spread was Sweden, and that’s what everyone extrapolates from,” he said on “Squawk Box.” “We didn’t study that systematically. We don’t know how many kids were really infected.” [..] Another concern that ought to be considered when deciding whether and how to reopen U.S. schools, Gottlieb said, is that young people in the U.S. are generally sicker than young people in Sweden, for example.

Regardless of age, other underlying conditions more prevalent in American kids puts them at a greater risk of a severe Covid-19 infection. “We have more co-morbid illness among young people in this country — more asthma, more obesity, more diabetes — so there is going to be higher risk with our school age population,” Gottlieb said. Those so-called co-morbidities have resulted in more severe illnesses and even death in Covid-19 patients across all age groups, scientists have found. The CDC says 18.5% of U.S. children between the ages of 2 and 19 suffer from obesity, or about 13.7 million children. About 6 million children under the age of 18 have asthma, according to the CDC, and the agency notes that Black children suffer from asthma at more than double the rate of White children.

Read more …

A lot of places see fresh outbreaks. People are eager to call them a second wave, but given how strongly that term is linked to the 1918 flu, I’d be careful with that.

Hong Kong To Impose Most Severe Social Distancing Restrictions (R.)

Hong Kong will impose strict new social distancing measures from midnight Tuesday, the most stringent in the Asian financial hub since the coronavirus broke out, as authorities warn the risk of a large-scale outbreak is extremely high. The measures dictate that face masks will be mandatory for people using public transport and restaurants will no longer provide dine in services and only offer takeaway after 6 pm. Both are new rules that were not implemented during the city’s first and second coronavirus waves earlier this year. If a person does not wear a mask on public transport, they face a fine of HK$5,000 ($645). Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Monday the government would limit group gatherings to four people from 50 – a measure last seen during a second wave in March.


Twelve types of establishments including gyms and places of amusement must shut for a week. “The recent emergence of local cases of unknown infection source indicates the existence of sustained silent transmission in the community,” the government said in a statement late on Monday. The Chinese-ruled city recorded 52 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, including 41 that were locally transmitted, health authorities said. Since late January, Hong Kong has reported 1,522 cases and local media reported an eighth death on Monday. The government said it is very concerned about the high number of imported cases and planned to impose further measures on travellers from high-risk places, including securing mandatory negative test results before arrival.

Read more …

“Psychosis, insomnia, kidney disease, spinal infections, strokes, chronic tiredness and mobility issues..”

Italian Doctors: Effects of COVID-19 Worse Than First Thought (Sky)

The long-term effects of COVID-19, even on people who suffered a mild infection, could be far worse than was originally anticipated, according to researchers and doctors in northern Italy. Psychosis, insomnia, kidney disease, spinal infections, strokes, chronic tiredness and mobility issues are being identified in former coronavirus patients in Lombardy, the worst-affected region in the country. The doctors warn that some victims may never recover from the illness and that all age groups are vulnerable. The virus is a systemic infection that affects all the organs of the body, not, as was previously thought, just a respiratory disease, they say. Some people may find that their ability to properly work, to concentrate, and even to take part in physical activities will be severely impaired.

The physicians warn that people who do not consider themselves in a vulnerable group and aren’t concerned at contracting the disease could be putting themselves in danger of life-changing illnesses if they ignore the rules to keep safe. They stress that the need for social distancing, hand washing, and masks is as important now as it ever was. The warnings come amid growing concerns in northern Italy that a second wave of the virus could be imminent. Doctors in two of the main hospitals in the region have reported a handful of new cases of severely ill people with respiratory problems. Dr Roberto Cosentini, head of emergencies at Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, oversaw the response to the virus that swept through this alpine province claiming the lives of at least 6,000 people.

He gave Sky News unprecedented access to the hospital’s emergency rooms in March when the first shocking effects of the virus were broadcast around the world, changing perceptions of the scale of the problem. Now he is leading efforts to again send a warning across the globe that COVID-19 is a lethal killer that affects the whole body, and is not going away. “At first, initially, we thought it was a bad flu, then we thought it was a bad flu with a very bad pneumonia, it was the phase when you came here, but subsequently we discovered that it is a systemic illness with vessel damage in the whole body with renal involvement, cerebral involvement,” he told me in the now silent COVID-19 emergency room that was overwhelmed a few months ago.

“So we are seeing other acute manifestations of renal failure that require dialysis; or stroke, and then acute myocardial infarction, so a lot of complications or other manifestations of the virus. “And also now we see a significant proportion of the population with chronic damage from the virus.”

Read more …

Which the WHO still halfway denies.

Japan Has Long Accepted COVID’s Airborne Spread (CBS)

Under pressure from the scientific community, the World Health Organization acknowledged last week the airborne transmission of “micro-droplets” as a possible third cause of COVID-19 infections. To many researchers in Japan, the admission felt anti-climactic. This densely populated country has operated for months on the assumption that tiny, “aerosolized” particles in crowded settings are turbo-charging the spread of the new coronavirus. Very few diseases — tuberculosis, chicken pox and measles — have been deemed transmissible through aerosols. Most are spread only through direct contact with infected persons or their bodily fluids, or contaminated surfaces. Still the WHO has refused to confirm aerosols as a major source of new coronavirus infections, saying more evidence is needed.

But scientists are keeping the pressure on. “If the WHO recognizes what we did in Japan, then maybe in other parts of the world, they will change (their antiviral procedures),” said Shin-Ichi Tanabe, a professor in the architecture department of Japan’s prestigious Waseda University. He was one of the 239 international scientists who co-wrote an open letter to the WHO urging the United Nations agency to revise its guidelines on how to stop the virus spreading. Large droplets expelled through the nose and mouth tend to fall to the ground quickly, explained Makoto Tsubokura, who runs the Computational Fluid Dynamics lab at Kobe University. For these larger respiratory particles, social distancing and face masks are considered adequate safeguards.

But in rooms with dry, stale air, Tsubokura said his research showed that people coughing, sneezing, and even talking and singing, emit tiny particles that defy gravity — able to hang in the air for many hours or even days, and travel the length of a room. The key defense against aerosols, Tsubokura said, is diluting the amount of virus in the air by opening windows and doors and ensuring HVAC systems circulate fresh air. In open-plan offices, he said partitions must be high enough to prevent direct contact with large droplets, but low enough to avoid creating a cloud of virus-heavy air (55 inches, or head height.) Small desk fans, he said, can also help diffuse airborne viral density. To the Japanese, the latest WHO admission did at least vindicate a strategy that the country adopted in February, when residents were told to avoid “the three Cs” — cramped spaces, crowded areas and close conversation.

Read more …

Maybe you shouldn’t target growth in a pandemic?!

California’s New Lockdown Dims Outlook For US Growth In Pandemic (R.)

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to reimpose restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms and even ordinary office work to tamp down a surge of coronavirus infections is dimming economic growth prospects for the nation as a whole. Darkening the outlook further was the decision by California’s two largest school districts – Los Angeles and San Diego – to conduct only online instruction when classes resume next month, a move that will make it challenging for parents of more than 825,000 students to return to work. The Golden State, with 40 million people, employs more workers than any other state in the nation, and its production of goods and services is about equal to the combined output of Florida and Texas, two others states that have also seen resurgences of the virus.

After the Great Recession, California was the nation’s inarguable job growth engine, creating about one in every seven jobs, more than any other state. By comparison, over the course of the 12-year post-financial crisis expansion Texas created one of every eight U.S. jobs, and Florida, about one of every 11. In March, after becoming the first U.S. state to impose a stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic, California also became the nation’s job-loss leader. Some 2.6 million jobs disappeared in March and April, about equal to the combined job losses in Texas and Florida. Many states began to reopen in May. California allowed businesses to resume activity at a slower pace than many states did.

That shows in the most recent state-by-state jobs data: during the course May, California added just 141,600 jobs, versus 182,000 in Florida and 237,000 in Texas. Since then, the virus has resurged in much of the country, with the biggest increases in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, forcing governors in all of those states to reimpose some restrictions. But none has gone as far as Newsom did on Monday; and none of those states has near the footprint of California when it comes to economic heft on a national scale. Before the coronavirus crisis, the state accounted for about 14% of the whole U.S. economy.

Read more …

Article gives a few examples, I bring my own. There is no better example of a Fed manufactured bubble than Tesla.

Federal Reserve’s $3 Trillion Virus Rescue Inflates Market Bubbles (R.)

The Federal Reserve’s $3 trillion bid to stave off an economic crisis in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak is fuelling excesses across U.S. capital markets. The U.S. central bank has pledged unlimited financial asset purchases to sustain market liquidity, increasing its balance sheet from $4.2 trillion in February to $7 trillion today. While the vast majority of these purchases have been limited to U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, the Fed’s pledge to bolster the corporate bond market has been enough to spur a frenzy among investors for bonds and stocks. “COVID-19 is now inversely related to the markets. The worse that COVID-19 gets, the better the markets do because the Fed will bring in stimulus. That is what has been driving markets,” said Andrew Brenner, head of international fixed income at NatAlliance.

Read more …

Brilliant idea. And no, I don’t think a boycott is in place just for talking to the president.

Goya “Boycott” Becomes “Buycott” (ZH)

In what is turning into a spectacular backfire, Goya products are being cleaned out of grocery store shelves in what is being dubbed the “Chick-Fil-A” effect by The Daily Wire. Namely, leftists have called for a boycott over the brand after its CEO publicly praised President Donald Trump. Instead, conservatives took matters into their own hands and are reportedly buying more Goya products than they normally would to show support for the company, its CEO and the President. It’s being called a “Buy-Cott”. It began when radio host Mike Opelka began encouraging people on Twitter to buy $10 worth of Goya products to turn around and donate to their local food bank.


He Tweeted: “My brother came up with a terrific idea and I am encouraging all to join me in purchasing $10 worth of Goya Foods products and donating them to your local food bank. Let’s push a BUY-cott, not a boycott. Let’s show the #Goyaway people what compassion can do.” And this weekend a GoFundMe effort was launched to feed the hungry using only Goya products. It has raised over $43,000 so far. Casey Harper, who started the GoFundMe, said: “I’m not surprised we have raised so much because people are tired of having to walk on eggshells in political discourse. Also, Americans are fundamentally generous people, so a chance to feed the hungry and stand up to cancel culture was an easy win.” Recall, three days ago, we reported that the Goya CEO “refused to apologize” for his comments praising President Donald Trump. As a result, many liberals announced they were boycotting his company. By last Thursday evening, “Goya,” #BoycottGoya and #Goyaway were trending topics on Twitter.

Read more …

“..the FBI planned on Jan. 4, 2017 to close down its investigation of Flynn but then reversed course.”

FBI Believed Michael Flynn Was ‘Forthcoming’ And ‘Telling Truth’ (Solomon)

Months before Michael Flynn was charged with the lying to agents, the FBI told the Justice Department the Trump national security adviser was “very open and forthcoming” in his interview and believed he was telling the truth about his contacts with Russia, according to long withheld government notes that sharply contrast with the criminal case Robert Mueller eventually filed. FBI agents told senior DOJ officials at a Jan. 25, 2017 meeting that Flynn was “telling truth as he believed it” and that he “believe[d] that what he said was true,” according to handwritten notes taken by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General Tashina Gauhar that were belatedly turned over to Flynn’s defense this month.

The agents also believed Flynn was “being forthright” during his interview and simply didn’t remember some facts from his calls with the Russian ambassador during the post-2016 election transition, Gauhar wrote in the notes. A separate DOJ memo described Flynn as “very open and forthcoming” during the interview. Copies of the notes from Gauhar, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who led the Russia collusion case, and former DOJ and FBI official Dana Boente were made public in a court filing over the weekend, adding to a large body of belatedly released evidence that suggested the FBI did not believe it had grounds to charge Flynn with a crime as news media were reporting at the time. In fact, Boente stated in handwritten notes dated in March 2017 that the FBI had concluded Flynn wasn’t an agent of Russia. “Do not view as source of collusion,” Boente wrote.

Likewise, the notes show DOJ did not believe it could prosecute Flynn under the Logan Act, lone of the laws that was leaked as a possible Flynn liability in the media. “No reasonable pros to Logan Act,” one of the entry in the notes declared. The notes also confirm previously released evidence showing the FBI planned on Jan. 4, 2017 to close down its investigation of Flynn but then reversed course. Remarkably, the FBI claimed to DOJ the reason it kept the Flynn probe open and interview him was because a news media leak of a classified transcript of his call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The “media leaks” about the calls being intercepted brought the “investigation in the open” and “changed the dynamic,” the notes quote FBI officials as saying.

Read more …

He won’t have to. Flynn got Sidney Powell.

Trump Doesn’t Rule Out Pardoning Michael Flynn (CNBC)

President Donald Trump on Monday did not rule out granting a pardon to his first national security advisor Michael Flynn, just days after commuting the 40-month prison term of his longtime ally Roger Stone. But Trump said “I don’t have a decision to make” about a potential pardon for Flynn “until I find out what’s going to happen” with Flynn’s efforts to get a dismissal of his conviction for lying to FBI agents. “I think he’s doing very well with respect to his case,” Trump told reporters. “I hope that he’s going to be able to win it.” The Justice Department has asked that Flynn’s conviction be tossed out, but Judge Emmet Sullivan so far has not ruled on that request. A federal appeals court panel ordered Sullivan to dismiss the case, which relates to Flynn’s discussions with a Russian diplomat in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration.


But Sullivan last week asked the appeals court’s full line-up of judges to reconsider that decision. Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell said in an email, “As I have said from the inception of my representation, the government has long withheld evidence of Mr. Flynn’s innocence.” “The FBI and [special counsel’s office] made up this prosecution and coerced his plea by multiple means. The result for which we have steadfastly and relentlessly worked is his complete exoneration by the Department of Justice and the judicial system,” Powell said. “We believe it is very important for the Rule of Law and the public’s trust in the system for his case to be dismissed according to the Government’s motion and because of all the newly disclosed evidence of government misconduct and his innocence.”

Read more …

Judges questioning their superiors. It’s quite the fashion.

Roger Stone Judge Demands To See Trump Clemency Order (ZH)

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson demanded more information concerning President Trump’s decision to commute the prison sentence of Roger Stone – a longtime ally who avoided a 40-months in prison sentence for making false statements to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team during the Russia investigation. According to AP, Berman Jackson ordered the parties to provide her a copy of Trump’s executive order commuting Stone’s sentence, as well as clarity for the scope of the clemency – including whether Stone’s two-year supervised release is covered by the decision. To answer Berman Jackson’s question, Trump commuted “the entirety of the two-year term of supervised release with all its conditions.”

“The president told reporters on Monday that he was getting “rave reviews” for his action on Stone and restated his position that the Russia investigation “should have never taken place.” Democrats lambasted Trump’s decision as having undermined the rule of law, and Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the only Republican to vote to convict the president during his impeachment trial, called the clemency decision “unprecedented, historic corruption.” Mueller himself defended the Stone prosecution in a Washington Post opinion piece in which he said Stone “remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.” Although presidents have broad authority to commute prison sentences and issue pardons, the brief order from Jackson — who presided over Stone’s trial last year — made clear that the judge still is seeking information and clarity about the clemency, including the actual executive order from the White House. -AP (via WTOP)

The order was entered into the docket several hours later.

Read more …

Oh, and Mery Trump is now free to speak.

Weissmann To Publish Insider Account Of Trump-Russia Investigation (G.)

Andrew Weissmann, an attorney who played a leading role under Robert Mueller in the investigation of Russian election interference, will release a book about the special counsel’s near two-year examination of links between Donald Trump and Moscow. Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation will be published by Random House on 29 September. The publisher promised “a meticulous account of the Mueller team’s probe and its ongoing battles with the Trump administration”. It will be the latest in a lucrative stream of books about Trump, his presidency and the Russia investigation. In court in New York on Monday, the president’s niece, Mary Trump, will find out if a temporary restraining order will be lifted so she can discuss her book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man, which will be published by Simon & Schuster on Tuesday.

In a statement, Weissmann said: “I felt it was necessary to record this episode in our history, as seen and experienced by an insider. “This is the story of our investigation into how our democracy was attacked by Russia and how those who condoned and ignored that assault undermined our ability to uncover the truth. My obligation as a prosecutor was to follow the facts where they led, using all available tools and undeterred by the onslaught of the president’s unique powers to undermine our work.” Weissmann was active on Twitter over the weekend, after Trump announced the commutation of a prison sentence awaiting Roger Stone, an aide and ally, arising from Mueller’s work.

Stone, 67 and suspected of being the link between Russian intelligence, WikiLeaks and the president himself, was convicted on counts of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness intimidation. He had been due to report to prison on Tuesday, to serve a 40-month sentence. [..] Weissmann agreed with the Republican senator Mitt Romney’s description of an instance of “unprecedented, historic corruption” and advocated that Stone be brought in front of a grand jury. There, Weissmann said, Stone would have “three choices: lie and risk prosecution, refuse to testify and be held in civil and criminal contempt, or tell the truth. Let’s do what we can to get at the truth.”

[..] Weissmann said: “I am deeply proud of the work we did, and of the unprecedented number of people we indicted and convicted – and in record speed. “But the hard truth is that we made mistakes. We could have done more. Where Law Ends documents the choices we made, good and bad, for all to see and judge and learn from.”

Read more …

Talking about Weissmann, here’s a video from Jan 2019 of Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell talking about Weissman’s role (he was appointed to it by then FBI director Robert Mueller) in the demise of Arthur Andersen.

 

 

You’d think the Special Counsel never fell flat on his face.

Top Mueller Aide Weissmann Calls For Roger Stone To Face Grand Jury (Turley)

One of the most controversial figures selected by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for his investigative team was Andrew Weissmann. While some criticized Weissmann for perceived bias, many of us focused on his record of prosecutorial excess. Now a law professor at New York University, Weissmann appears eager to fulfill both criticisms. After the commutation of Roger Stone, Weissmann called for Stone to be pulled in front of a grand jury. It did not matter that there was no crime under investigation or likely criminal charge based on the use of a presidential power that is virtually absolute. Weissmann seemed to call for the use of the grand jury for a fishing expedition — precisely the type of alleged excessive use of prosecutorial power that he faced at the Justice Department. Weissmann is reportedly writing a book on the investigation with the reported titled “Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation.”

Weissmann wrote “Time to put Roger Stone in the grand jury to find out what he knows about Trump but would not tell. Commutation can’t stop that.” That is certainly true. A commutation does not bar someone from being called into a grand jury. However, ethical prosecutors generally require more than an interest in finding out stuff. Grand juries usually come after an investigation finds probable cause for a crime. There is supposed to be more than a hope and prayer that a grand jury may find a crime. Indeed, this is precisely the type of untethered pursuit that led some of us to criticize the Flynn investigation. In this case, Mueller did not find evidence showing that President Trump or his campaign conspired with the Russian government to obtain hacked emails from the Clinton campaign or Democratic National Committee.

There was no allegation of a crime by Trump linked to the Stone false statements or threats. Stone was convicted on seven counts including one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering. The government proved that Stone had lied to Congress to hide his efforts to contact WikiLeaks. However, he was not accused of lying about knowledge or actions by President Donald Trump. [..] The grand jury is not a device for prosecutorial whim or curiosity. It is a powerful tool that demands a modicum of restraint. Conversely, Weissmann seems to follow Oscar Wilde’s famous observation as a virtual prosecutorial mandate: “I can resist everything except temptation.”

Read more …

 

 

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

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 132020
 


Berenice Abbott New York City at Night 1932

 

Florida Sets Record For Single-Day Covid19 Cases As Disney World Reopens (DL)
Who When Where: No Word On WHO Experts’ Coronavirus Trip To China (SCMP)
One In Three South Korean COVID19 Patients Improve With Remdesivir (R.)
Looming Evictions May Soon Make 28 Million Homeless In US (CNBC)
“Too Big To Fail” Banks face Their Worst Quarter Since The Financial Crisis (ZH)
Coronavirus Brings Record $1 Trillion Of New Global Corporate Debt In 2020 (R.)
Tesla Slashes Model Y SUV Price Four Months After Launch (R.)
Coronavirus Has Shown us How to Stop a Climate Disaster (BT)
American Collusion: Weaponizing Media, Big-Tech, & Government (ZH)
That Kind Of Memory Hole Is A Nightmare (Higgins)

 

 

The WHO says yesterday set a new world record. They’re two days behind Worldometer. But bad enough anyway. Florida is something else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Hunt

Ben Hunt Fauci

 

 

“This is an American tragedy.”

Florida Sets Record For Single-Day Covid19 Cases As Disney World Reopens (DL)

Even as Disney World reopens and the Florida state government was being pushed to host in-person classes for the fall school semester, the Sunshine State is setting new records for COVID-19 cases. The Florida Department of Health reported 15,299 new coronavirus cases Sunday. That’s the highest total for any state since the pandemic started. Florida holds the dubious record for second-highest as well, coming in with 11, 434 new cases on July 4, per Johns Hopkins University. Florida’s test positivity rate is a whopping 19.60%, Johns Hopkins said.


Florida Rep. Donna Shalala said the virus is “out of control,” and said it’s likely a second economic shutdown looms. “It’s out of control across the state because our governor won’t even tell everybody to wear masks. At least in Miami-Dade county, everyone must wear a mask when they’re outside,” she told CNN Saturday night. “This is an American tragedy.” About 40 hospitals across Florida have no ICU beds available, according to state data.

Read more …

What should we expect from this? Water under the bridge.

Who When Where: No Word On WHO Experts’ Coronavirus Trip To China (SCMP)

A World Health Organisation advance team is in the Chinese capital this weekend but few other details have been released about a mission that could lay the groundwork for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. The WHO said last week that two experts – an animal health specialist and an epidemiologist – would start work on Saturday but by Sunday evening there was still no word on the name of the specialists, the schedule of the trip, and their agenda. Chinese authorities did not make a statement about the visitors on the weekend and the Chinese media did not report their arrival. And no Chinese institution, including the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed that it had or would confer with the WHO experts.


Associated Press reported that the two experts were in Beijing on Saturday and Sunday. Their mission is to work with Chinese health officials and scientists to prepare for a larger WHO-led international task force at an undisclosed date. The mission is widely seen as a way to bring more transparency and cooperation to the search for the animal origins of the virus, first identified in Wuhan in central China late last year. But the origins of the pandemic are mired in politics. Some senior members of the US administration have blamed China for the pandemic, including making unsupported claims that the virus could have emerged in a Wuhan laboratory. Chinese officials have pushed back, defending the country’s handling of the outbreak and saying the identification of the virus in China does not mean it originated there.

Read more …

This is an ad. It’s about the headline. Read the article and there’s nothing there: “More research was needed to determine if the improvement was attributable to the drug or other factors..”

One In Three South Korean COVID19 Patients Improve With Remdesivir (R.)

One in three South Korean patients seriously ill with COVID-19 showed an improvement in their condition after being given Gilead Sciences Inc’s (GILD.O) antiviral remdesivir, health authorities said. More research was needed to determine if the improvement was attributable to the drug or other factors such as patients’ immunity and other therapies, they said. Remdesivir has been at the forefront of the global battle against COVID-19 after the intravenously administered medicine helped shorten hospital recovery times in a U.S. clinical trial. Several countries including South Korea have added the drug to the list of treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. There is no approved vaccine for it.


In its latest update on the drug, Gilead said on Friday an analysis showed remdesivir helped reduce the risk of death in severely ill COVID-19 patients but cautioned that rigorous clinical trials were needed to confirm the benefit. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Saturday results from a first group of 27 patients given remdesivir in different hospitals. Nine of the patients showed an improvement in their condition, 15 showed no change, and three worsened, KCDC deputy director Kwon Jun-wook told a briefing. The result had yet to be compared with a control group and more analysis was needed to conclude remdesivir’s benefit, Kwon said.

Read more …

This is not a fantasy, it’s set to happen. The bottom is falling out.

Looming Evictions May Soon Make 28 Million Homeless In US (CNBC)

Emily Benfer is the chair of the American Bar Association’s Task Force Committee on Eviction and co-creator of the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard with the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. CNBC: How does the eviction crisis brought on by the pandemic compare with the 2008 housing crisis? Emily Benfer: We have never seen this extent of eviction in such a truncated amount of time in our history. We can expect this to increase dramatically in the coming weeks and months, especially as the limited support and intervention measures that are in place start to expire. About 10 million people, over a period of years, were displaced from their homes following the foreclosure crisis in 2008. We’re looking at 20 million to 28 million people in this moment, between now and September, facing eviction.

CNBC: You study the intersection of housing and health. What will all these evictions mean for people’s health during the pandemic?

EB: Eviction negatively impacts the trajectory of an individual’s life, and it can do that in a permanent way. Studies have demonstrated that eviction causes increased mortality and causes respiratory distress, which in the Covid-19 pandemic can put people in even greater peril. It results in depression, suicides and other poor health outcomes. And the primary response to Covid-19 has been to shelter in place. If there’s an increase in homelessness [one economist estimates homelessness could rise by more than 40% this year], that could spread the virus.

CNBC: You’ve been keeping track of what states are doing to protect tenants, mostly through eviction moratoriums. How do you feel the efforts have fallen short?

EB: Some of the moratoriums are limited to different segments of the population, and in their duration. They were also not coupled with financial assistance to ensure that renters don’t accrue this backed-up debt and are stabilized enough to stay in their unit. Another issue is that in some states, landlords were allowed to go forward with a hearing on eviction, and even receive an order of eviction, and it was only forestalled at the execution stage. That means that there are a number of evictions that are just waiting for the sheriffs to execute. The moment the moratoriums lift, all of those families will be immediately put out. And right now, 29 states lack any state level moratorium against evictions.

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As millions of Americans will be evicted, the banks will be bailed out.

“Too Big To Fail” Banks face Their Worst Quarter Since The Financial Crisis (ZH)

U.S. banks could be setting up for their worst quarter in more than a decade as loan loss provisions and the pandemic are set to wreak havoc on bottom lines. Next week, many of the “too big to fail” banks are set to report earnings and are likely going to show that a drop in consumer spending and higher loan losses were not offset by better trading gains. Loan-loss provisions should reach their highest levels since the financial crisis, Barclay’s predicts. Kyle Sanders, an analyst at Edward Jones, told Bloomberg: “We’ve got a full three months of the pandemic coming through the numbers now. The first quarter was rough, but it really only reflected a couple of weeks in March.”

Loan losses are expected to rise as spiking unemployment has left many unable to service, or pay back, their loans. New loans have also dried up as banks tighten their belts. Service charges and credit card fees are also likely going to fall, as large portions of the American economy were shut down for months, suffocating economic activity. And while many banking stocks have recovered somewhat, the S&P 500 Financials index is still down 26% since last December. Wells Fargo alone is down 55% this year and is expected to announce a dividend cut. Bloomberg has predicted that despite increasing provisions in the first quarter of the year, banks are still going to have their worst quarter in a decade when they report this upcoming week.


Wells Fargo Chief Financial Officer John Shrewsberry commented last month that the bank would likely set aside more for bad loans in Q2 than the $4 billion it set aside in Q1. Banks will be looking to trading and underwriting to help try and salvage the quarter. Stock and bond trading was likely up about 31% in Q2 according to estimates. JP Morgan is expected to post the largest increase of about 50%. Citigroup Inc.’s Richard Zogheb, global head of the debt capital-markets division, said he thinks there will be record volumes in trading for the quarter. This stands at odds with previous cyclical downturns, where investment banking and trading revenue would fall as much as 30%.

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Free money. Much of it will also be bailed out, so why worry?

Coronavirus Brings Record $1 Trillion Of New Global Corporate Debt In 2020 (R.)

Companies around the world will take on as much as $1 trillion of new debt in 2020, as they try to shore up their finances against the coronavirus, a new study of 900 top firms has estimated. The unprecedented increase will see total global corporate debt jump by 12% to around $9.3 trillion, adding to years of accumulation that has left the world’s most indebted firms owing as much as many medium-sized countries. Last year also saw a sharp 8% rise, driven by mergers and acquisitions, and by firms borrowing to fund share buybacks and dividends. But this year’s jump will be for an entirely different reason – preservation as the virus saps profits. “COVID has changed everything,” said Seth Meyer, a portfolio manager at Janus Henderson, the firm that compiled the analysis for a new corporate debt index.


“Now it is about conserving capital and building a fortified balance sheet”. Companies tapped bond markets for $384 billion between January and May, and Meyer estimates that recent weeks have set a new record for debt issuance from riskier “high yield” firms with lower credit ratings. Lending markets had slammed shut for all but the most trusted firms in March, but have been opened up wide again by emergency corporate debt buying programmes from central banks like the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan. Companies included in the new debt index already owe almost 40% more than they did in 2014, and growth in debt has comfortably outstripped growth in profits.

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“..the first time in the company’s 17-year history that one of its new vehicles turned a profit in its first quarter..”

Tesla Slashes Model Y SUV Price Four Months After Launch (R.)

Tesla cut the price of its sport utility vehicle Model Y by $3,000, just four months after its launch, as the U.S. electric carmaker seeks to maintain sales momentum in the COVID-19 pandemic. The reduction follows price cuts in May on Tesla’s Model 3, Model X and Model S. The company headed by Elon Musk this month posted a smaller-than-expected fall in car deliveries in the second quarter, resilient results despite the pandemic that hit the global auto industry. The Model Y now starts at $49,990, down nearly 6% from its previous price of $52,990, according to the carmaker’s website.


Tesla did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. The company started deliveries of the Model Y in March, promising a much-awaited crossover that will face competition from European carmakers like Volkswagen rolling out their own electric rivals. In April, Tesla had said the Model Y was already profitable, marking the first time in the company’s 17-year history that one of its new vehicles turned a profit in its first quarter.

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So we’re going to stop the climate disaster through sheer incompetence?

Sorry, but these sort of things bring out the skeptic in me like little else. I get that they mean well, but…

Let’s begin with scrapping terms like zero carbon, zero emissions and green energy. They are misleading nonsense.

“..for the first time ever, a group of intellectuals associated with Extinction Rebellion (XR) lay out a post-COVID-19 vision for the policies that could deal with the multiple crises we now face — and how a renewal of democracy is essential to save us from future health and ecological disasters. This statement is published exclusively in Byline Times by the XR ‘Brains Trust’, a group of thinkers including David Graeber, Illona Otto, Rupert Read, Jason Hickel, Steve Keen, Steve Melia, Henry Muss, George Barda and Rebecca Bowers.

Coronavirus Has Shown us How to Stop a Climate Disaster (BT)

According to economic textbooks, the role of finance is to allocate economic resources towards best meeting future needs. In the process, we are always told, this guarantees freedom, happiness, and well-being. Global financial markets are, therefore, a kind of superior, planetary substitute for state systems of central planning. But if so, it’s hard to imagine how they could do a more disastrous job, careering from crisis to crisis, requiring endless bailouts, while concentrating most of the world’s wealth in a tiny number of hands, wiping out species after species, and, immanently, rendering large swathes of the planet uninhabitable.

The only plausible explanation is that the economic textbooks are wrong. Global financial markets aren’t really ways of directing resources towards future benefit. They aren’t even really markets. They are power arrangements, which mainly operate by colluding with Governments to extract rents, largely, by creating public and private debt. In these areas, the public and private sector become so closely entwined that it’s difficult to even distinguish them. For instance, the crisis has made clear that Governments with their own currencies are perfectly capable of creating money at will, simply by getting the Central Bank to buy bonds from the Treasury. This can either be done directly, or via the contrivance of selling them first to the finance sector and then buying them back.

So, it follows, the same resources now devoted to keeping destructive industries afloat could simply be redirected to do the opposite. There is no reason not to allow fossil fuel, air travel, and much of current construction to simply collapse for lack of subsidy; redirecting the money instead to green projects, retraining, and a basic citizen’s income. The only way to guarantee humans are protected from future catastrophe then is to ensure a dramatic shift of power relations. Do we expect Governments to just go right ahead and implement this? Obviously not.

Governments are ultimately answerable to their citizens, and one thing citizens clearly don’t want, is to go back to how things were before. A recent survey found only 9% of British citizens want to return to life as it was pre-COVID-19. We can be certain there will never again be such reliance on air travel or commuting. And it’s unlikely citizens will ever again blindly accept ‘there’s just no money’ as an argument for failing to invest or to help the poor. The magic money tree was found, after all, this April.

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“..de facto gatekeepers of information..”

American Collusion: Weaponizing Media, Big-Tech, & Government (ZH)

In late October 2016, Jason Sullivan – then chief Twitter strategist for Roger Stone, used a data-mining tool he created, Power10, to peer into the public sentiment of the election. Outgunning the antiquated polling surveys that got it so wrong, Sullivan witnessed candidate Hilary Clinton catch up to Trump two weeks before the election in real time. He then saw, a few days later, how FBI Director James Comey gave Clinton a temporary boost that helped her overtake Trump when he announced the bureau would reopen the investigation into her email scandal. Since that time, Jason Sullivan hasn’t told his story about what happened behind the scenes leading to the biggest presidential upset election in more than a century. He wasn’t able to.

That’s because the FBI swept Sullivan up in a dawn raid in early 2018, after intimidating other members of his family. The FBI hauled him off to testify under oath of perjury before the Mueller team. Surviving the FBI interrogation, Jason Sullivan retreated from the social media spotlight. That was until this June when he saw the establishment’s coordinated effort to tilt the 2020 election against President Trump, again. The COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns gave blue states cover for an all mail-in paper election. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa protests, looting and riots further shut down cities across the United States. Some posed the theory that funds donated to BLM flow through ActBlue, another political front company, and into the DNC.

The biggest lever in tilting the election this year, however, emerges with the collusion between the mainstream media and the tech giants as de facto gatekeepers of information. They wield tremendous power to determine what can and cannot be said, seen, shared and posted. They include Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube, among others. All this boils down to one objective: Censorship. Surviving the Mueller interrogation, Sullivan developed a strong opinion on both censorship and what transpired during the last presidential election. “On November 8th, 2016, all the laws of gravity were completely defied, and the legitimacy of every last one of the traditional political polls were utterly destroyed and proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be completely inaccurate in what went down as the single biggest political upset in modern-day history,” Sullivan said.

“The DNC, Hilary Clinton, the Obama administration, all the Democrats, all the leading newspapers and publications, the establishment Republicans and the RINOs were ALL completely caught flat-footed! If any one of the traditional polls were remotely accurate, candidate Trump did not stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the presidential election.” Sullivan concluded his first salvo, stating, “There is no one today who will argue that Donald Trump won the presidency because of social media … not even President Trump. But social media is what allowed candidate Donald Trump to completely circumvent the mainstream media and get his message out directly to the people.”

On Twitter shadow-banning, Sullivan observed the “systemized censorship that if Twitter staff members didn’t like a user’s tweet, they would zap the user’s account, for a period of time. Meaning, everything the user would post would not show up on any of his followers news feeds. It’s like getting hit with a digital stun gun.”

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Orange Man Bad is a profit machine for left and right.

That Kind Of Memory Hole Is A Nightmare (Higgins)

Liberals are losing their minds over the Lincoln Project, a political action committee made up of a coalition of Republican strategists and admen who raised $16.8 million this past quarter to continue their mission of making commercials and posts aimed at upsetting Donald Trump. The group has been regularly praised for its “fearlessness” and the “powerful” content of its ads, liberals say, deeming the anti-Trump commercials “MUST WATCH” because “they are driving him crazy.”

A recent example used the coronavirus pandemic to make the case that Trump is an existential threat to the country. “If we have another four years of this, will there even be (big dramatic pause) an America?” asks a passably Ronald Reagan-imitating voice actor as somber music plays in the background in the punny “Mourning in America”-titled ad that came out this week. It was celebrated by Politico’s Joanna Weiss as a “masterful nugget of compact filmmaking.” Unsurprisingly for a group of former aides to Republican campaigns and party attachés who have run in the same circles for decades, the Lincoln Project is made up of exactly the kind of people who liberals profess to loathe: a collection of right-wing ghouls dominated by angry white men with bigoted, racist views that they’ve seldom been shy about sharing.

The group is reportedly little more than a slush fund for its members. A study on the Lincoln Project from the Center for Responsive Politics in May found the group’s finances suspect, at best, and that the organization was acting as a funnel for what The Atlantic called the coalition’s “motley crew” of leadership by directing the PAC’s cash to the interests and businesses of its directors and staff. “The Lincoln Project reported spending nearly $1.4 million through March,” the Center explained. “Almost all of that money went to the group’s board members and firms run by them.”

The Lincoln Project’s Team is led by eight founders and ten senior advisors, but the group’s core four is made up of George Conway, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, and Rick Wilson. The quartet self-importantly announced the formation of their PAC in a tedious opinion piece for the New York Times last December, claiming that Trump represents some great departure from American conservatism (beyond saying the quiet part loud) and concluded the piece by likening their consultancy-trough-feeding and make-work organization to the Union forces in the Civil War.

Read more …

 

 

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

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

The man’s making a very good point.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 122020
 


Berenice Abbott Broome Street, Nos. 504-506, Manhattan 1935

 

Hong Kong Expert Leung: New Virus Strain 30% More Infectious (SCMP)
Chinese Virologist Flees Hong Kong, Accuses Beijing Of COVID-19 Cover-Up (ZH)
How Talking About The Coronavirus As An Enemy Combatant Can Backfire (Conv.)
£5 Billion Of UK Coronavirus Bailouts Go To Firms Based In Tax Havens (LE)
EU Leaders Are Split Over Coronavirus Recovery (O.)
32% Of US Households Missed Their July Housing Payments (CNBC)
Huawei To Request UK To Delay 5G Network Removal (R.)
Tesla Appears Poised To Electrify S&P 500 (R.)
Elon Musk About To Get Another $1.8 Billion Payday From Tesla (CNN)
Roger Stone Commutation Is Not As Controversial As Some Think (Turley)
Flynn Lawyer Says New DOJ Docs Contain ‘Shocking Exculpatory Evidence’ (Fox)

 

 

Two things happened over the past day other than the advancing virus numbers. Trump wore a mask to a hospital and Robert Mueller wrote in the WaPo that Roger Stone is still a convicted felon.

As for the mask: nobody saw it as a positive thing, it’s used only to dump on him. The MSM really wouldn’t have any copy if Trump was not there. What are they going to cover when he’s not re-elected? His pending trial, you say? Beware of Pavlov. Beware of conditioning.

As for Mueller’s WaPo piece, Aaron Maté said this:

“Mueller: Stone “lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks.”


False: Stone had no “intermediary to WikiLeaks,” as both of his suspected but fictional intermediaries, Credico & Corsi, told Mueller’s probe.

That really is the whole Mueller story right there, and the commutation one. Lying about a crime that never happened.

If they had nothing on Stone, and neither on Flynn, something Comey admitted in the Oval Office on Jan 4/5 2017, why was there a Special Counsel? Serious question. Oh, and Stone didn’t want a pardon, because that would have stopped him from fighting his case in court. It would have declared him guilty.

Meanwhile, the MSM/Dems/Intel are busy aiming at Bill Barr, but he’s on the record saying Trump shouldn’t have commuted the sentence. Misfire.

The real story lies elsewhere.

But it’s interesting to see it all unfold. Increasingly, I see this developing as a kind of Pavlovian effect, “conditioned reflex”. It’s too easy to predict when the dogs will start salivating. You don’t need to give them food, you just need to blow a whistle. Soon as they hear the name Trump, they can’t stop their watery mouths anymore.

 

 

Never new records in the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yaneer Bar-Yam

 

 

Mississippi

 

 

“The [outbreak] situation has gone back to almost the same level when we had not placed any surveillance measures on the disease at all”
– Professor Gabriel Leung

Hong Kong Expert Leung: New Virus Strain 30% More Infectious (SCMP)

A top medical expert advising the Hong Kong government on Covid-19 has warned that each infected person could transmit the coronavirus to four others, as the virus has turned more infectious, while the city has now entered the most serious phase of the public health crisis. Professor Gabriel Leung, dean of the University of Hong Kong’s medical school, said he believed there were at least 50 to 60 hidden cases in the community as an international study indicated a strain of the virus had increased its infection rate by 30 per cent due to a DNA mutation. He highlighted Kowloon East and Sha Tin as two areas most at risk of an outbreak and urged the government to prioritise testing resources for the elderly.

“This is the start of a sustained massive local outbreak the likes of which we have never seen before,” Leung said on a radio programme on Sunday. On Saturday, health authorities warned that Hong Kong’s third wave of Covid-19 was by far the most serious of the public health crisis to date, as at least 61 people in the city were either confirmed as infected or had tested preliminary positive. The city reported 16 local infections among 28 cases officially confirmed on Saturday, while another 33 people were awaiting confirmation they had caught the deadly virus. The continued surge takes Hong Kong’s Covid-19 total to 1,431 with seven deaths.

On Sunday, Leung cited an international study which suggested there was a DNA mutation in the most widely circulating strain of the virus, which has changed from 614G from the previous 614D, making it more infectious by about 31 per cent.
He said another local study confirmed such a trend, as the number of people expected to be infected by each case increased in March from 2 1/2 to three, and had now risen to four. But there was no evidence to show that the virus had become more deadly. “Hong Kong is currently facing a real and continuous local outbreak. The situation has gone back to almost the same level when we had not placed any surveillance measures on the disease at all,” Leung said.

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I wrote The Party and the Virus all the way back on February 2. It still tells this story 5+ months later.

Chinese Virologist Flees Hong Kong, Accuses Beijing Of COVID-19 Cover-Up (ZH)

A highly respected Chinese virologist has fled Hong Kong and says that the Chinese government knew about COVID-19 long before they claim they did, and that her supervisors – some of the top experts in the field – ignored research she was conducting at the onset of the pandemic which she says could have saved lives, according to an exclusive interview with Fox News. Dr. Li-Meng Yan, who specialized in virology and immunology at the Hong Kong School of Public Health, fled Hong Kong on April 28 on a Cathay Pacific flight to the United States, knowing that if she were caught she could be jailed or “disappeared.”

“She adds that they likely had an obligation to tell the world, given their status as a World Health Organization reference laboratory specializing in influenza viruses and pandemics, especially as the virus began spreading in the early days of 2020. Yan, now in hiding, claims the government in the country where she was born is trying to shred her reputation and accuses government goons of choreographing a cyber-attack against her in hopes of keeping her quiet. Yan believes her life is in danger. She fears she can never go back to her home and lives with the hard truth that she’ll likely never see her friends or family there again. Still, she says, the risk is worth it. -Fox News

“The reason I came to the U.S. is because I deliver the message of the truth of COVID,” Yan told Fox from an undisclosed location. Yan says she was one of the first scientists in the world to study COVID-19 (aside from Wuhan researchers, perhaps) after he supervisor, Dr. Leo Poon, asked her to look into “the odd cluster of SARS-like cases coming out of mainland China at the end of December 2019,” according to the report. “The China government refused to let overseas experts, including ones in Hong Kong, do research in China,” she said. “So I turned to my friends to get more information.”

Yan’s mainland colleagues – one of whom worked at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, allegedly told Yan on December 31 that the virus was transmissible between humans long before the CCP or the WHO reversed course and admitted this was possible. After she told her boss of this, “he just nodded,” she says. Days after her CCP contacts told her about human-to-human transmission, the WHO put out a statement on January 9 saying: “According to Chinese authorities, the virus in question can cause severe illness in some patients and does not transmit readily between people… There is limited information to determine the overall risk of this reported cluster.”

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Something I’ve been saying all along. And I don’t need the flowery language to know why.

The vast majority of westerners has never experienced a war anywhere near them. But it’s still the only language they understand. What does that tell us?

How Talking About The Coronavirus As An Enemy Combatant Can Backfire (Conv.)

Sometimes war involves battling other countries; other times, it’s the metaphorical kind, like our current “war” against the coronavirus. We see this war reflected in the language that gets used by politicians, policymakers, journalists and healthcare workers. As the “invisible enemy” rolled in, entire economies halted as populations “sheltered in place.” We were told to “hunker down” for the long battle ahead and to “support our troops,” the health care workers, fighting on the “front lines.” These military-inspired metaphors serve a purpose. Unlike the dense linguistic landscape of science and medicine, their messages are clear: Danger. Buckle Down. Cooperate. In fact, studies have shown that sometimes military metaphors can help unite people against a common enemy.

They can convey a sense of urgency so that people drop what they’re doing and start paying attention. However, as someone who has studied the way language influences behavior, I know that this kind of rhetoric can have long-term effects that are less positive, particularly within health and medicine. In fact, research has shown that these metaphors can cause people to make decisions that go against sound medical advice. Militarized rhetoric was popularized with the “War on Drugs,” a term coined by President Richard Nixon in an effort to reduce illicit drug use in the U.S. Since then, the language of war has seeped into our collective lexicon. We’re currently engaged in a war against climate change. Some argue there’s a war on Christmas, while others say there’s a war against truth.

So it’s only natural that when a new, deadly virus emerges, the warspeak persists. Military metaphors aren’t new to medicine; they’ve long played a role in shaping patients’ relationships with illness. Cancer is a key example of this. The cancer is an enemy, invading the patient’s body. Patients are told they must fight, that they are at war, and they must be strong while they receive treatments that target those enemy cells for destruction. The fact they are used so often indicates that these metaphors serve a purpose. They’re simple and straightforward, helping us comprehend and categorize something that’s complex and unpredictable. But this framing contains a potentially dangerous undercurrent.

Language affects cognition, and cognition affects our behaviors. Wartime language has been shown to alter our behavior – and not always for the better. In war, opposing sides are engaged in a struggle. Whoever survives longest and fights hardest wins. Strength and confidence are commended, while fearful behaviors are viewed with contempt. The World War II poster “Keep calm and carry on” exemplifies this mindset. The underlying message of the so-called “War on Terror” was to not allow fear to disrupt our lives. There was a major focus on returning to “life as normal,” and the return to national pastimes, like baseball, was thought to play a huge role in helping the country heal.

These approaches can appear helpful, but in the case of the coronavirus medical advice suggests physical distancing and mask wearing. Unfortunately, this guidance requires disruption. To stay home is to change your routine, to wear a mask is to appear weak and afraid and to avoid everything that makes up our daily routine is to let the enemy win.

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Color me surprised.

£5 Billion Of UK Coronavirus Bailouts Go To Firms Based In Tax Havens (LE)

Almost a third of companies receiving coronavirus bailouts from the Bank of England are based in a tax haven or owned by someone living there, shocking research has revealed. Analysis by TaxWatch UK, a thinktank, found that £4.79 billion in bailout cash has been handed to companies with links to tax havens, or that have been embroiled in financial controversy – close to 30 per cent of the money loaned out under the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility. One company – Baker Hughes, a subsidiary of American giant General Electric – was granted a £600 million loan, despite the fact that its parent company has been sued by HMRC over unpaid taxes dating back 16 years.

Luxury fashion brand Chanel – whose ultimate parent company is based in the Cayman Islands – also received £600 million, as did EasyJet – which is part-owned by a trust based in the Caribbean territory. A further £25 million went to cruise operator Carnival, whose ships were registered in Panama. Dozens of people have died and over 1,500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 have so far been recorded in connection with the company’s cruises, after major outbreaks on ships like the Diamond Princess earlier this year. Machine manufacturer JCB – whose parent company is located in the Netherlands – received a £600 million bailout. The company donated more than £50,000 to Boris Johnson in 2019 and its chairman, Lord Bamford, contributed a further £20,000 to the prime minister’s leadership campaign.

[..] France was one of the first countries to block offshore firms from claiming state aid, banning companies domiciled in tax havens from accessing its 110 billion euro rescue package. Announcing the ban Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, said that “it goes without saying” that “if your head office is located in a tax haven, you cannot benefit from public support.”

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When presented with a chance to make the EU relevant, all they exhibited was incompetence. They should have issued coronabonds, sold on the same solidarity basis that US warbonds were. Solidarity with your neighbor and your neighbor states. But solidarity with fellow EU citizens is a bridge too far. Why then have an EU?

EU Leaders Are Split Over Coronavirus Recovery (O.)

With the continent heading into a recession not seen since the 1930s, the EU’s institutional heads, the presidents of the European commission and council, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, have struggled to find consensus between sparring member states over both a long-term budget and a huge one-off economic stimulus. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and French president, Emmanuel Macron, have given their backing to a €750bn (£675bn) pandemic recovery fund. But “frugal” northern states have raised issues. Efforts to placate them have angered Hungary’s nationalist prime minister and the European parliament.

“It became obvious deals weren’t going to be made online,” said one EU official. “You need the work in the margins, bilaterals and discussions between advisers to find the common ground. It needed a physical meeting.” But the set-up will be far from normal this weekend. The usual back-slapping and cheek-kissing will be replaced by social distancing in the presence of mask-wearing aides. The army of reporters that flock to the summits has also been banned from taking the usual seats in the expansive foyer of the Justus Lipsius building next door to the Europa.

The European commission forecasts an 8.3% drop in economic activity across the EU this year followed by a 5.8% rebound in 2021 but countries are expected to emerge from the crisis at starkly different speeds, risking a breakdown in the bloc’s single market as the disparity between Europe’s haves and have-nots is exacerbated In Brussels’ latest proposal, Michel, a former Belgian prime minister said to have had a lacklustre first year in his role chairing leaders’ debates, only appeared to stir up new problems. In response to the unapologetically “frugal” positions taken by Mark Rutte, the Netherlands’ prime minister, Michel tabled a €25bn smaller seven-year budget than last proposed, through which day-to-day programmes including the common agricultural policy are funded.

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Let the mass evictions begin.

32% Of US Households Missed Their July Housing Payments (CNBC)

As the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues, almost one-third of U.S. households, 32%, have not made their full housing payments for July yet, according to a survey by Apartment List, an online rental platform. About 19% of Americans made no housing payment at all during the first week of the month, and 13% paid only a portion of their rent or mortgage. That’s the fourth month in a row that a “historically high” number of households were unable to pay their housing bill on time and in full, up from 30% in June and 31% in May. Renters, low-income and younger households were most likely to miss their payments, Apartment List found.

In April, May and June, the majority of missed housing payments were made by the end of month, Apartment List reports. Almost 90% of households had paid some or all of their rent or mortgage payment by the end of June. But with late fees tacked on, those households may be more likely to miss their next housing bill, perpetuating a vicious cycle. “Delayed payments in one month are a strong predictor for missed payments in the next,” Apartment List says. While 83% of households who paid their May housing in full and on-time also did so in June, only 30% of households who were late in May did so in June.

[..] Renters are especially vulnerable. About 36% of renters, who are more likely to work in industries devastated by the coronavirus, missed their July housing bill, compared to 30% of homeowners. The federal eviction moratorium, which covers around one-fourth of renters in the U.S., put in place at the beginning of the pandemic has been extended to the end of August. But many people are still worried about an imminent wave of evictions across the country, as tenant protections vary greatly depending on the state and even city. Many — though not all — states and cities have instituted their own eviction bans; some have already expired, leaving tenants vulnerable at a time when coronavirus cases are increasing in many spots in the U.S.

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Pretty sudden 180 by Boris.

Huawei To Request UK To Delay 5G Network Removal (R.)

China’s Huawei Technologies has requested a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to work out a deal to delay its potential removal from the country’s 5G phone network, the Sunday Times newspaper reported on Sunday (July 12). The Chinese telecoms equipment maker is seeking to delay its removal from the country’s 5G telecoms networks until after elections in June 2025, in the expectation that the new government may reverse the decision, the newspaper reported. Huawei will in return pledge to maintain its equipment in Britain, which is also used in the 2G, 3G and 4G networks, the report added.


Britain granted Huawei a limited role in its future 5G networks in January, but ministers have since said the introduction of US sanctions on the company means it may no longer be a reliable supplier. Mr Johnson has faced intense pressure from the United States and some British lawmakers to ban the telecommunications equipment maker on security grounds. China’s ambassador to London, Mr Liu Xiaoming, warned last week that getting rid of Huawei would send a “very bad message” to Chinese business. A government update on the Chinese company is expected to be published before July 22, according to a government minister and official.

Read more …

Taking price discovery out of the equation means you have no markets anymore. You have a casino.

Tesla Appears Poised To Electrify S&P 500 (R.)

Wall Street’s most controversial stock may be about to go mainstream. Tesla Inc appears on the verge of joining the S&P 500, a major accomplishment for Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk that would unleash a flood of new demand for the electric car maker’s shares, which have already surged 500% over the past year. Higher-than-expected second-quarter vehicle deliveries, announced last week, have analysts increasingly confident the company will show a profit in its quarterly report on July 22. That would mark Tesla’s first cumulative four-quarter profit, a key hurdle to be added to the S&P 500.


With a market capitalization of about $250 billion, Tesla would be among the most valuable companies ever added to the S&P 500, larger than 95% of the index’s existing components. It would have a major impact on investment funds that track the index. [..] Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones, had to look back to the dot-com era to recall a comparable situation. In 1999, Yahoo surged 64% in five trading days between the announcement that it would be added to the index on Nov. 30 and its inclusion after the close of trading on Dec. 7. Yahoo’s market capitalization at the time was about $56 billion.

Read more …

Tesla makes 500,000 cars a year. Yet Musk is set to surpass Buffett in the Fortune 500.

Elon Musk About To Get Another $1.8 Billion Payday From Tesla (CNN)

At the end of May Tesla granted CEO Elon Musk stock options worth $1.8 billion today. Now, it’s about to do that again — for a second time in just over two months. Musk’s pay package, approved by Tesla shareholders in 2018, doesn’t pay him any salary or cash bonuses. Instead, it laid out a plan that could eventually give him 20.3 million stock options over the course of 10 years, in 12 equal blocks of 1.7 million options, as long as the company hits a series of operational and market value goals. The package could eventually make him the world’s richest man. With its stock rising more than 500% over the past 12 months, Musk qualified for the first block of options on May 28, when the company achieved an average $100 billion market cap over the previous six months.

Those options were worth an estimated $770 million at that time, after factoring in Tesla’s share price and the $350.02 cost of exercising each option. Musk would qualify for the next block of stock once Tesla had a six-month average of value of $150 billion. The company’s share price has continued to climb steadily, rising more than 70% since Musk received the previous options grant. That gives the company a current market value of $258.6 billion, and a six-month average of $138.6 billion. That new market value is closer to the next target than it might appear. Tesla shares need only to stay at this level for the next two weeks to hit the six-month average of $150 billion.

The current market value has made the company the most valuable automaker in the world, topping No. 2 Toyota, which is worth about $200 billion. In fact, Tesla is now worth more than the third most valuable automaker – Volkswagen – as well as General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Honda – combined.

Read more …

Jonnathan Turley has a long list of worse commutations.

Roger Stone Commutation Is Not As Controversial As Some Think (Turley)

Washington was sent into vapors of shock and disgust with news of the commutation of Roger Stone. Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin declared it to be “the most corrupt and cronyistic act in all of recent history.” Despite my disagreement with the commutation, that claim is almost quaint. The sordid history of pardons makes it look positively chaste in comparison. Many presidents have found the power of pardons to be an irresistible temptation when it involves family, friends, and political allies. I have maintained that Stone deserved another trial but not a pardon. As Attorney General William Barr has said, this was a “righteous prosecution” and Stone was correctly convicted and correctly sentenced to 40 months in prison.

President Trump did not give his confidant a pardon but rather a commutation, so Stone is still a convicted felon. However, Trump should have left this decision to his attorney general. In addition to Stone being a friend and political ally, Trump was implicated in those allegations against Stone. While there was never any evidence linking Trump to the leaking of hacked emails, he has an obvious conflict of interest in the case. The White House issued a statement that Stone is “a victim of the Russia hoax.” The fact is that Stone is a victim of himself. Years of what he called his “performance art” finally caught up with him when he realized federal prosecutors who were not amused by his antics. Stone defines himself as an “agent provocateur.” He crossed the line when he called witnesses to influence their testimony and gave false answers to investigators.

But criticism of this commutation immediately seemed to be decoupled from any foundation in history or in the Constitution. Indeed, Toobin also declared, “This is simply not done by American presidents. They do not pardon or commute sentences of people who are close to them or about to go to prison. It just does not happen until this president.” In reality, the commutation of Stone barely stands out in the old gallery of White House pardons, which are the most consistently and openly abused power in the Constitution. This authority under Article Two is stated in absolute terms, and some presidents have wielded it with absolute abandon.

Read more …

If they had nothing on Flynn, something Comey admitted in the Oval Office on Jan 4/5 2017, why was there a Special Counsel? Serious question.

Flynn Lawyer Says New DOJ Docs Contain ‘Shocking Exculpatory Evidence’ (Fox)

Newly released documents about the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn show additional “exculpatory evidence” linked to a Justice Department review of the case investigators built against him shortly after President Trump’s election, his lawyers argued in a court filing Friday. “These documents establish that on January 25, 2017 – the day after the agents ambushed him at the White House – the agents and DOJ officials knew General Flynn’s statements were not material to any investigation, that he was ‘open and forthcoming’ with the agents, that he had no intent to deceive them, and that he believed he was fully truthful with them,” Flynn’s attorneys wrote. “In short, there was no crime for many reasons.”

Flynn’s lawyers said that top Justice Department officials and the special counsel’s office knew about the documents for three years before they were able to obtain them, following U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri Jeffrey Jensen’s review of the case. That review was ordered by Attorney General Bill Barr and eventually led the DOJ to drop the charges that former special counsel Robert Mueller had filed against Flynn. And the documents echo statements that former FBI Director James Comey made to lawmakers about Flynn’s FBI interview as early as 2017, Politico reported. Portions of the documents are redacted, but one paragraph, pertaining to an early FBI interview of Flynn, states that “FBI advised that based on this interview, they did not believe General Flynn was acting as an agent of Russia.”

The report acknowledged that some of what Flynn said during the interview was “inconsistent” with surveillance records of his calls – but that investigators “believed that Flynn believed what he was telling them.” Another section of handwritten notes draws similar conclusions. “These disclosures evince … even more reasons requiring dismissal of the case against General Flynn,” his legal team wrote. Just two weeks ago, Flynn’s team received former FBI agent Peter Strzok’s notes as part of the review, which the defense lawyers also said provided evidence to “further exonerate” him. [..] the federal judge who has the authority to make the final decision over whether to dismiss the case refused to do so this week even after being ordered to by an appeals court. Instead, he filed a petition for the entire D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the case – a move that could drag the proceedings on beyond Election Day.

Read more …

 

 

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 July 2, 2020  Posted by at 10:44 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  39 Responses »


Marion Post Wolcott Unemployed coal miner’s mother in law and child. Marine, West Virginia 1938

 

Crisis at Houston Hospitals as Coronavirus Cases Surge (PP)
Coronavirus Immunity May Be More Widespread Than Tests Suggest (BBC)
Doctors Say Half Of ‘Cured’ COVID Patients Still Suffer (ToI)
House Votes To Block Trump’s Ability To Withdraw Forces From Afghanistan (Hill)
House Dems Introduce Resolution To Impeach AG Barr (SAC)
Freedom Rider: Russia, Afghanistan, and the Big Lie (BAR)
WaPo Admits ‘Russian Bounties’ Info “Deemed Sketchy” (ZH)
Afghan Bounty Scandal Comes at Suspiciously Important Time (MPN)
Biden Pulls Together 100s Of Lawyers As Bulwark Against Election Trickery (R.)
Storm Warning (Kunstler)
Top of the World (R.)

 

 

As the virus rages on into ever larger record numbers, today we are treated to the hilarious sight of two presidential candidates each accusing the other of being a Marxist. #ComradeTrump goes viral. One gets the feeling that maybe both parties hired the same PR firm. Or at least ones that use the same playbook. Which fails to mention that the Soviet Union dissolved some 30 years ago.

Or maybe those PR guys are all 80 years old, you know, same age as the candidates themselves? See, I’m thinking you must have been at least 15 years old when the wall came down, and therefore now be 45 years or older, to be scared by a portrait of Lenin or Stalin. And that would mean the PR fails to reach anyone younger than that.

Or, yeah, you can say he’s the second coming of Maduro, the man whose life his administration has been trying to turn into a living hell. But then you would fail to reach anyone with one single working neuron left. Or maybe I would just not be a good PR guy.

 

 

But at least we now know what that NYT and WaPo Afghan bounty story was planted for: the Democrat House gets to block Trump from bringing American troops home. While accusing each other of being extreme left, which will at some point force entire dictionaries to revise the meaning of such terms, they all move steadily towards the far right and the bidding of the war machine.

It’s theater, nothing in it is real, and you’re -literally- buying into it. Or wait, no, there is one thing that is real: people are going to get killed.

 

 

Both the world and the US set new highs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“..an abrupt turn from three days earlier, when the hospital system sent a note to thousands of patients, inviting them to keep their surgical appointments.”

Note to staff at a Houston safety net hospital:
-50% of new COVID tests coming back positive
-No more ICU beds
-No more remdesivir
-No more convalescent plasma
-12 COVID patients in need of ICU care — stuck in the ER
-Tomorrow will be worse…

Crisis at Houston Hospitals as Coronavirus Cases Surge (PP)

At Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital on Sunday, the medical staff ran out of both space for new coronavirus patients and a key drug needed to treat them. With no open beds at the public hospital, a dozen COVID-19 patients who were in need of intensive care were stuck in the emergency room, awaiting transfers to other Houston area hospitals, according to a note sent to the staff and shared with reporters. A day later, the top physician executive at the Houston Methodist hospital system wrote to staff members warning that its coronavirus caseload was surging: “It has become necessary to consider delaying more surgical services to create further capacity for COVID-19 patients,” Dr. Robert Phillips said in the note, an abrupt turn from three days earlier, when the hospital system sent a note to thousands of patients, inviting them to keep their surgical appointments.

And at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, staff members were alerted recently that the hospital would soon begin taking in cancer patients with COVID-19 from the city’s overburdened public hospital system, a highly unusual move for the specialty hospital. These internal messages highlight the growing strain that the coronavirus crisis is putting on hospital systems in the Houston region, where the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has nearly quadrupled since Memorial Day. As of Tuesday, more than 3,000 people were hospitalized for the coronavirus in the region, including nearly 800 in intensive care.

“To tell you the truth, what worries me is not this week, where we’re still kind of handling it,” said Roberta Schwartz, Houston Methodist’s chief innovation officer, who’s been helping lead the system’s efforts to expand beds for COVID-19 patents. “I’m really worried about next week.”

Read more …

Here’s your daily dose of hope….

Coronavirus Immunity May Be More Widespread Than Tests Suggest (BBC)

People testing negative for coronavirus antibodies may still have some immunity, a study has suggested. For every person testing positive for antibodies, two were found to have specific T-cells which identify and destroy infected cells. This was seen even in people who had mild or symptomless cases of Covid-19. But it’s not yet clear whether this just protects that individual, or if it might also stop them from passing on the infection to others. Researchers at the Karolinksa Institute in Sweden tested 200 people for both antibodies and T-cells. Some were blood donors while others were tracked down from the group of people first infected in Sweden, mainly returning from earlier affected areas like northern Italy.


This could mean a wider group have some level of immunity to Covid-19 than antibody testing figures, like those published as part of the UK Office for National Statistics Infection Survey, suggest. It’s likely those people did mount an antibody response, but either it had faded or was not detectable by the current tests. And these people should be protected if they are exposed to the virus for a second time. Prof Danny Altmann at Imperial College London described the study as “robust, impressive and thorough” and said it added to a growing body of evidence that “antibody testing alone underestimates immunity”.

Read more …

…. immediately followed by something worse..

Doctors Say Half Of ‘Cured’ COVID Patients Still Suffer (ToI)

Recovered COVID patients are baffling doctors with complaints of freak pains, lungs that just won’t get back to normal, and a range of incapacitating psychological issues. “What we are seeing is very frightening,” Prof. Gabriel Izbicki of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center told The Times of Israel. “More than half the patients, weeks after testing negative, are still symptomatic.” Izbicki is working on a study that involves follow-up with patients who were in hospitals or coronavirus hotels, looking at the aftereffects of the virus and trying to understand why patients continue to suffer long after being confirmed negative. “There is very little research about the mid-term affect of coronavirus,” he said, adding that it is much needed to guide doctors.


In Bnei Brak, at Israel’s first community clinic, doctors have been seeing a spike in recent days in the patients with pains that appear to come from nowhere. “It can appear in the arms, legs, or other places where the virus doesn’t have a direct impact, and if you ask about the pain level on a 1 to 10 scale, can be 10, with people saying they can’t get to sleep,” said Eran Schenker, director of the month-old clinic in Bnei Brak run by Maccabi Healthcare Services. “It’s something which we’re starting to see much more in the last week.” A patient from the clinic spoke to The Times of Israel on condition that her name is not published. She was diagnosed in March and tested negative a month ago. But the woman, a Bnei Brak resident in her 40s, still has severe fatigue and anxiety, and can only walk for a few minutes at a time.

Read more …

TEXT gress to limit the powers of the presidency so of course preventing his ability to end a pointless war is the one time they actually decide to do it

House Votes To Block Trump’s Ability To Withdraw Forces From Afghanistan (Hill)

The House Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday to put roadblocks on President Trump’s ability to withdraw from Afghanistan, including requiring an assessment on whether any country has offered incentives for the Taliban to attack U.S. and coalition troops. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment, from Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), would require several certifications before the U.S. military can further draw down in Afghanistan. The amendment was approved 45-11. Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the No. 3 House Republican, argued the amendment “lays out, in a very responsible level of specificity, what is going to be required if we are going to in fact make decisions about troop levels based on conditions on the ground and based on what’s required for our own security, not based on political timelines.”

“And that is crucially important, and I think it is our number one priority,” she added. The amendment comes as Trump’s withdrawal deal with the Taliban remains precarious as high violence levels persist in Afghanistan. The U.S. military has said it is down to 8,600 troops in line with the agreement to get to that level by mid-July. But military officials have insisted any further drawdown will be based on conditions on the ground that are not yet met, even as Trump pushes for a speedy withdrawal. [..] Among the amendment’s requirements is an assessment of whether any “state actors have provided any incentives to the Taliban, their affiliates, or other foreign terrorist organizations for attacks against United States, coalition, or Afghan security forces or civilians in Afghanistan in the last two years, including the details of any attacks believed to have been connected with such incentives.”

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) framed the measure as particularly important in light of the revelations. “There’s been bipartisan criticism of what a weak deal [Trump] got with the Taliban, a deal that is already falling apart,” Moulton said. “Now we learned that he was making this deal at the same time as there were bounties on the heads of American troops, American sons and daughters. We clearly need more oversight over what the president is doing in Afghanistan.”

Read more …

Comedy Capers.

House Dems Introduce Resolution To Impeach AG Barr (SAC)

House Democrats on Tuesday introduced a resolution to ‘investigate and consider’ impeaching Attorney General William Barr. The move comes just a few months after their failed attempt to impeach President Donald Trump. Congressman Steve Cohen, R-TN, brought the measure to the House floor with the support of 35 co-sponsors. The group alleges that “Attorney General Barr has undermined our judicial system and perverted the rule of law.” He added, “In the past few weeks alone, Barr has ordered the attack on peaceful protestors in Lafayette Park, in violation of their constitutional rights, and moved to drop charges against Michael Flynn, the President’s former campaign advisor, despite his guilty pleas. He fired without any explanation the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York who was overseeing investigations into the President’s associates and possibly the President himself.”


“The pattern here is unmistakable. Barr obstructs justice by favoring the President’s friends and political allies. He abuses his power by using the Department of Justice to harass, intimidate and attack disfavored Americans and the President’s political opponents. My oath to support and defend the Constitution compels me to confront this corruption. Congress is a co-equal branch of government and we must get to the bottom of this and hold Bill Barr accountable.” Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jim Jordan criticized his colleagues’ move saying, “Are you kidding me?”, adding “Bill Barr is cleaning up the mess that Obama, Biden, and Comey created!”

Read more …

The black left doesn’t buy it either.

Freedom Rider: Russia, Afghanistan, and the Big Lie (BAR)

There is no end to the Russiagate fraud. All major charges have been disproved. No one was convicted of the dreaded “collusion” that was reported endlessly for the last four years. Damning information is now declassified and casts doubt on the veracity of the whole story. CrowdStrike, the Democratic National Committee cyber security firm, admitted under oath they had no proof of hacking by Russia or anyone else. Robert Mueller ended his two-year long, multi-million dollar investigation with nothing except convictions for process crimes. Why then did the New York Times print a story with an unnamed intelligence agency source claiming that the Russian government paid the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan? The charge is ludicrous on its face but the story is quite useful to people who want to hide their own criminality while simultaneously keeping Trump hamstrung in an election year.

Russia is the nation least likely to do business with jihadists. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, jihadists nearly tore Russia apart. Separatists from the Chechnya region terrorized the entire country which was weakened and divided after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Because of that experience Russia eagerly assisted the United States after the September 11 attacks. Far from impeding the U.S. presence, Russia and other former Soviet republics were steadfast participants in the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). NDN was a supply line carrying materiel from Russia, through central Asian nations and finally to Afghanistan. Russia allowed the use of its air space in troop transit flights. Far from being an enemy, Russia assisted the U.S. and its coalition in their fight against the Taliban.

Russia’s NDN cooperation lasted until 2015, when U.S. meddling in Ukraine poisoned relations between the two countries. Hostility towards jihadists remains a focus of Russian foreign policy decision making. The concern that ISIS might take control of Syria was the primary reason that Russia finally helped president Assad in 2015. Not only does this latest claim make little sense, but there is no source for this information. We are told that an anonymous intelligence official revealed the Russian bounty and that Donald Trump was aware of it but did nothing. Anonymous intelligence sources are the cause of much mischief. They will tell the public that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or that Muammar Gaddafi is planning a massacre. In both instances the rationale for lying was to get public approval for U.S. aggression. In this case keeping the failing Russiagate narrative alive is a motive for more disinformation.

The timing of this dubious reporting is significant. An appeal’s court recently ruled that a federal judge must dismiss Michael Flynn’s conviction for lying to FBI agents. Flynn was set up by James Comey and Barack Obama with some involvement or knowledge on the part of Joe Biden. The timing of this development could not have been worse. When Flynn’s charges are dismissed, the story will truly begin to unravel and the corporate media will lose its monopoly on information.

Read more …

But wait, just now the NYT “reports” they have tracked down an Afghani who paid someone with Russian dollars!

WaPo Admits ‘Russian Bounties’ Info “Deemed Sketchy” (ZH)

Congressional leaders have demanded answers, and those answers have come in the form of multiple US intelligence agencies and chiefs essentially throwing cold water on the NY Times Russian bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan story, as we’ve detailed. We expect this “bombshell” will be very short-lived, perhaps being memory holed by the weekend, akin to the fate of other Russiagate-related ‘anonymous sources say’ type stories. The Pentagon is the latest to say that DOD-wide there is currently “no corroborating evidence at this time to validate the recent allegations regarding malight activity by Russian personnel against US forces in Afghanistan,” according to a late Tuesday evening statement by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

And yet the Times is busy publishing photos of slain Marines to help bolster what’s increasingly looking like a propaganda hit piece ahead of the November election, for which there’s already been considerable backlash from the public. As of Wednesday it’s been revealed that a highly respected career intelligence officer previously made the decision to not brief President Trump on what the Washington Post now belatedly admits was widely “deemed sketchy” information the CIA had obtained in 2019 through either a foreign source or report. This line from the Post is certainly awkward for them and the Times:

“The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that White House officials were first informed in early 2019 of intelligence reports that Russia was offering the bounties to kill U.S. and coalition military personnel, but the information was deemed sketchy and in need of additional confirmation, according to people familiar with the matter.”

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“They are reporting the ‘fact’ that there was a rumor.”

Afghan Bounty Scandal Comes at Suspiciously Important Time (MPN)

Based on anonymous intelligence sources, The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal released bombshell reports alleging that Russia is paying the Taliban bounties for every U.S. soldier they can kill. The story caused an uproar in the United States, dominating the news cycle and leading presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to accuse Trump of “dereliction of duty” and “continuing his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin.” “This is beyond the pale,” the former vice-president concluded. However, there are a number of reasons to be suspicious of the new reports. Firstly, they appear all to be based entirely on the same intelligence officials who insisted on anonymity.

The official could not provide any concrete evidence, nor establish that any Americans had actually died as a result, offering only vague assertions and admitting that the information came from “interrogated” (i.e. tortured) Afghan militants. All three reports stressed the uncertainty of the claims, with the only sources who went on record — the White House, the Kremlin, and the Taliban — all vociferously denying it all. The national security state also has a history of using anonymous officials to plant stories that lead to war. In 2003, the country was awash with stories that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, in 2011 anonymous officials warned of an impending genocide in Libya, while in 2018 officials accused Bashar al-Assad of attacking Douma with chemical weapons, setting the stage for a bombing campaign. All turned out to be untrue.

“After all we’ve been through, we’re supposed to give anonymous ‘intelligence officials’ in The New York Times the benefit of the doubt on something like this? I don’t think so,” Scott Horton, Editorial Director of Antiwar.com and author of “Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan,” told MintPress News. “All three stories were written in language conceding they did not know if the story was true,” he said, “They are reporting the ‘fact’ that there was a rumor.” Horton continued: “There were claims in 2017 that Russia was arming and paying the Taliban, but then the generals admitted to Congress they had no evidence of either. In a humiliating debacle, also in 2017, CNN claimed a big scoop about Putin’s support for the Taliban when furnished with some photos of Taliban fighters with old Russian weapons. The military veteran journalists at Task and Purpose quickly debunked every claim in their piece.”

Read more …

Ha ha ha. Lawyers For Honesty is a great name. Everyone knows how honest they are.

Biden Pulls Together 100s Of Lawyers As Bulwark Against Election Trickery (R.)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said on Wednesday that his party has assembled a group of 600 lawyers and thousands of other people to prepare for possible “chicanery” ahead of November’s election. “We put together 600 lawyers and a group of people throughout the country who are going into every single state to try to figure out whether chicanery is likely to take place,” Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said on a video conference with donors to his campaign. “We have over 10,000 people signed up to volunteer. We’re in the process of getting into the states in question to train them to be in a polling place,” he said, in a time when the coronavirus pandemic requires extra precautions.


Biden’s remarks come as the candidate offers dire warnings about efforts by Republicans to cheat in the Nov. 3 election while also criticizing his election opponent, Republican President Donald Trump, for undermining confidence in the vote. A senior political adviser and top lawyer for Trump’s campaign, Justin Clark, said Biden is lying and stoking fear while Democrats are trying to “fundamentally change” how elections are conducted, an apparent reference to their support for widespread mail-in voting. Republicans have argued that mail-in voting and other changes being suggested by Democrats in the midst of the pandemic could create fraud. “They are inserting chaos and confusion into our voting process because it is the only way they can win,” Clark said in a statement, adding that the president is committed to “fair and free elections.”

Read more …

“Imagine how many mortgage, car payments, and small business loan defaults will crackle across the land, and how that will thunder through the banking system.”

Storm Warning (Kunstler)

While Mr. Trump seems to dimly apprehend the urgent need for economic restructuring, he’s able to express it only in messages that sound like a 1961 Frigidaire commercial, with overtones of Marvel Comics superhero grandiosity. The president may understand that a country can’t consume stuff without producing stuff, but he doesn’t get that it’s too late to bring back all that activity at the scale we used to run it when he was a young man in the 1960s. His answer to the call of restructuring — what the Soviets called perestroika before they fell apart — is to pile on more debt, that is, borrow more from the future to pay for hamburgers today.

That dovetails neatly with the needs of the financial community, led by the hapless “Jay” Powell at the Federal Reserve, who is on a mission to destroy the U.S. dollar in order to save the banking system and its auxiliaries in the stock markets. He literally doesn’t know what to do — except “print” more dollars to support share prices, a symbolic talisman of theoretical economics that has less and less to do with what people actually do on-the-ground in the hours when they’re not sleeping. It looks unlikely that the Fed will rescue either Wall Street or Main Street. The longer he props up the former at the expense of the latter, the more certain it is that it will provoke insurrection that goes well beyond the current hostilities.

The looting and arson of recent days hugely aggravated a central feature of it: the destruction of small business. In Minneapolis alone, the damage stands at $100-million. Things were difficult enough under the strictures of Covid-19, but this guarantees that many cities will not see the return of commerce — and there are only a few other reasons for cities to even exist. Not only did the Democratic Party fail to object to the mayhem, but the city governments they controlled abetted, incited, and applauded the anarchy. Meanwhile, last Saturday in Tulsa, Mr. Trump made the signal error of bragging on the latest highs in the stock markets. Hasn’t he learned by now what a flimsy representation of reality that is?

Evidently not. The air may be coming out of that lifebuoy in the next couple of weeks, and his election prospects will sink with it. This will happen as the nation approaches the dark moment when the postponement of debt repayments ends. Imagine how many mortgage, car payments, and small business loan defaults will crackle across the land, and how that will thunder through the banking system.

Read more …

What happens when you have no markets.

Top of the World (R.)

Tesla’s electrifying rise claimed its biggest victim yet. During morning trading on Wednesday, shares in the Silicon Valley upstart rose some 5% to briefly hit a market value of $210 billion, overtaking Toyota Motor as the world’s largest carmaker by market worth. Undeserved as that may be, it shifts Chief Executive Elon Musk’s performance bonus into overdrive. The maker of the Model 3 has long traded on a far higher multiple of earnings than its traditional, internal combustion engine-focused rivals. But after a 400% share-price turbo boost over the past 12 months – lapping Ford Motor, then General Motors then Volkswagen – Tesla now trades at 69 times estimated 2022 earnings, according to Refinitiv data. Toyota, by contrast, trades just below 10 times earnings for that calendar year.

Tesla’s current price requires the utmost faith in Elon Musk’s ability either to deliver millions more vehicles a year than the 400,000 he managed last year, or to roll out a large fleet of cheap-to-run robo-taxis. Neither looks likely any time soon. But the valuation also starts the clock on another huge payout for Musk. Shareholders two years ago approved a 10-year performance package that allows the boss to be given shares equal to 12% of the amount outstanding, worth in total as much as $60 billion. Getting them requires hitting both a market value target as well as either a revenue or adjusted EBITDA goal.

He was awarded the first of the 12 possible tranches a little over a month ago, based on a $100 billion market value and $20 billion of annual revenue. The shares had already zoomed past the second market-value target – $150 billion – on the way to its current level, though Musk has to wait for that to register on a six-month average basis.

Read more …

 

 

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• CNN headline yesterday: “Russian voters OVERWHELMINGLY back a PLOY by Putin to rule until 2036…”

• CNN headline today: “SOME Russian voters back a PLOY by Putin to rule until 2036..”

Isn’t that a cute change? And I’m thinking: yeah, because we know if they had the choice, they’d all vote for Joe Biden…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Harris&Ewing War Savings Stamps poster, Washington DC 1917

 

Fed Eases Terms Of Main Street Loans (R.)
Nasdaq Ends At Record, Confirms Bull Market On Economic Recovery Hopes (R.)
WHO Warns of COVID19 Rebound Risk, Says Pandemic ‘Worsening’ Globally (RT)
WHO Says Pandemic ‘Far From Over’ As Daily Cases Hit Record High (R.)
Asymptomatic Spread Of Coronavirus Is ‘Very Rare’ – WHO (CNBC)
57% of People Tested In Italy’s Bergamo Have COVID19 Antibodies (R.)
University of Washington Forecasts 145,000 US COVID19 Deaths By August (R.)
Lockdowns Could Have Saved Three Million Lives Across Europe – Study (Ind.)
Arizona State Health Director: Hospitals Must Activate Emergency Plan (ABC15)
EasyJet CEO Says Legal Case Against UK Quarantine Is Strong (R.)
Tesla’s Double-WTF Chart of the Year (WS)
Chinese Investment In 2019 In Australia Down 60% To Lowest Since 2007 (G.)
Barr: Clearing Of Lafayette Park Was Unrelated To Church Photo Op (Turley)
Ex-Warren Surrogate Blasts White Dems For Kneeling In African Cloth (Fox)
The Appallingly Bad Neoclassical Economics of Climate Change (Steve Keen)

 

 

Worldometer has global new cases for June 8 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 107,270.

My count from about 6 am EDT to 6 am EDT is about + 106,175 cases. If the fall from 130,000 continues, that would be good.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 19,006
• Brazil + 18,925
• Russia + 8,985
• India + 8,442
• Pakistan + 4,646
• Chile + 4,696

 

 

Cases 7,219,187 (+ 106,175 from yesterday’s 7,113,012)

Deaths 409,108 (+ 2,559 from yesterday’s 406,549)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 


 

 

Ali at his best. Don’t miss.

 

 

The Fed finds yet another way for banks to make money, that can be disguised as helping those in need. Banks get money for virtually free, lend it to small and medium-sized businesses at an elevated rate, pocket the difference, and let the Fed buy up 95% of the loans afterward.

Fed Eases Terms Of Main Street Loans (R.)

The U.S. Federal Reserve eased the terms of its “Main Street” lending program on Monday, cutting the minimum loan size in half to $250,000 and lengthening the term by a year to encourage more businesses and banks to participate. The central bank also said registration for the program will begin soon and that lenders will be able to start making the loans to small and medium-sized businesses shortly thereafter. The changes, which the Fed said was based on outreach with potential lenders and borrowers, address some of the concerns raised by lenders, lawyers and small business consultants that the previous minimum loan amount of $500,000 was too large to help many businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.


“Supporting small and mid-sized businesses so they are ready to reopen and rehire workers will help foster a broad-based economic recovery,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in a statement. The Fed is further minimizing downside risks for banks and credit unions by purchasing 95% of all loans issued through the program, rather than a range of 85% to 95%. The new borrowing minimum may still not be low enough as some businesses need loans smaller than $250,000, Jill Castilla, president and CEO of Citizens Bank of Edmond in Oklahoma said on Twitter after the Fed announced the changes.

Read more …

All banks and investors who’ve received bailout packages will now have to repay them, right?

Nasdaq Ends At Record, Confirms Bull Market On Economic Recovery Hopes (R.)

The Nasdaq posted a record closing high on Monday, becoming the first of the major indexes to confirm a new bull market, while the S&P 500 ended in positive territory for the year as expectations for a swift recovery from a coronavirus-driven downturn increased. Rising technology and communication stocks have driven gains in the Nasdaq, which confirmed a new bull market just 16 weeks after coronavirus fears crushed stocks and pushed the U.S. economy into recession. The Nasdaq has climbed 44.7% from its March 23 bottom. A bull market is confirmed once the index makes a new high and is considered to have begun at the index’s low, according to a widely accepted definition.


The S&P 500 remains about 4.5% below its record high close, while the Dow is about 6.7% below. A closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday showed an unexpected fall in unemployment rate, bolstering views that the worst of the economic damage from the virus outbreak was over. “It’s optimism surrounding the reopening of the global economy, and the likely confirmation that the U.S. economy will experience a V-shaped recovery in the second half,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.

Read more …

If there is a general second wave, it will hit very hard. Lockdown 2.0 will be difficult to explain, let alone enforce. That’s what you get when you f*ck up 1.0.

WHO Warns of COVID19 Rebound Risk, Says Pandemic ‘Worsening’ Globally (RT)

Now is not the time to become complacent and drop our guard about the coronavirus as the pandemic is still growing globally, World Health Organization officials have warned. Despite some improvements in infection rates in Europe, the global Covid-19 situation is “worsening” yet again, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday during an online press briefing. Sunday, June 7, had most reported cases in a single day so far of the outbreak, he added. According to Tedros, active surveillance and contact tracing are still essential to ensure the virus doesn’t rebound. “More than six months into the pandemic this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal,” he warned.

The alarming comments by Tedros come as many countries are lifting their Covid-19 lockdowns after reporting success in containing the spread of disease. Businesses are reopening and people are starting to return to offices, with timelines for the resumption of international air travel also being announced. But the WHO has been warning that easing restrictions will inevitably lead to a ‘second wave’ of the coronavirus, with the disease making a comeback in a different part of the population after an initial decline in cases. [..] Worldwide, more than 7 million people have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 403,000 have died since the pandemic was first reported in China’s Wuhan in December 2019.

The US remains the worst-hit country with almost 2 million confirmed cases and a death toll of over 110,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. It’s followed by Brazil which has more than 691,000 infections and some 36,400 fatalities. Russia, which has been one of the world leaders in Covid-19 testing, has recorded 476,000 confirmed cases, with almost 6,000 people succumbing to the disease. The WHO has been heavily criticized over its initial response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The UN health agency held off calling the spreading coronavirus a “pandemic,” despite it being found in Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East, until March, 11.

Read more …

More on that WHO briefing.

WHO Says Pandemic ‘Far From Over’ As Daily Cases Hit Record High (R.)

New coronavirus cases had their biggest daily increase ever as the pandemic worsens globally and has yet to peak in central America, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, urging countries to press on with efforts to contains the virus. “More than six months into the pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online briefing. More than 136,000 new cases were reported worldwide on Sunday, the most in a single day so far, he said. Nearly 75% of them were reported from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia. In response to a question on China, WHO’s top emergencies expert, Dr. Mike Ryan, said retrospective studies of how the outbreak has been addressed could wait, adding: “We need to focus now on what we are doing today to prevent second peaks.”


Ryan also said infections in central American countries including Guatemala were still on the rise, and that they were “complex” epidemics. “I think this is a time of great concern,” he said, calling for strong government leadership and international support for the region. Brazil is now one of the hotspots of the pandemic, with the second highest number of confirmed cases, behind only the United States, and a death toll that last week surpassed Italy’s. After removing cumulative numbers for coronavirus deaths in Brazil from a national website, the Health Ministry sowed further confusion and controversy by releasing two contradictory sets of figures for the latest tally of infection cases and fatalities.

Read more …

Very curious statement. And they don’t provide the sources it’s based on.

Asymptomatic Spread Of Coronavirus Is ‘Very Rare’ – WHO (CNBC)

Coronavirus patients without symptoms aren’t driving the spread of the virus, World Health Organization officials said Monday, casting doubt on concerns by some researchers that the disease could be difficult to contain due to asymptomatic infections. Some people, particularly young and otherwise healthy individuals, who are infected by the coronavirus never develop symptoms or only develop mild symptoms. Others might not develop symptoms until days after they were actually infected. Preliminary evidence from the earliest outbreaks indicated that the virus could spread from person-to-person contact, even if the carrier didn’t have symptoms. But WHO officials now say that while asymptomatic spread can occur, it is not the main way it’s being transmitted.


“From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said at a news briefing from the United Nations agency’s Geneva headquarters. “It’s very rare.” [..] To be sure, asymptomatic and presymptomatic spread of the virus appears to still be happening, Van Kerkhove said but remains rare. That finding has important implications for how to screen for the virus and limit its spread. “What we really want to be focused on is following the symptomatic cases,” Van Kerkhove said. “If we actually followed all of the symptomatic cases, isolated those cases, followed the contacts and quarantined those contacts, we would drastically reduce” the outbreak.

https://twitter.com/ganeshran/status/1270082616834826242

Read more …

With Wuhan, the worst hit place on earth. But 57% still doesn’t appear enough for herd immunity.

Testing for antibodies is still shaky, and so is its effect on the disease.

57% of People Tested In Italy’s Bergamo Have COVID19 Antibodies (R.)

More than half the residents tested in Italy’s northern province of Bergamo have COVID-19 antibodies, health authorities said on Monday, citing a sample survey. Of 9,965 residents who had blood tests between April 23 and June 3, 57% had antibodies indicating they had come into contact with the coronavirus, the survey showed. Health authorities in Bergamo said the results were based on a “random” sample which was “sufficiently broad” to be a reliable indicator of how many people had been infected in the province, which became the epicentre of Italy’s outbreak. In a separate statement issued later, the Bergamo health agency said that most of those in the sample were residents of the worst-hit areas.


Many had already been put under quarantine, the statement added. Antibodies were found in just over 30% of the 10,404 health operators tested although they are generally considered more at risk than other people. In a report released in early May, national statistics institute ISTAT said the number of deaths in Bergamo was up 568% in March compared with the 2015-2019 average, making it Italy’s worst-hit city in terms of deaths. Its hospitals were overwhelmed by infected people and, with morgues unable to keep up, convoys of army trucks carrying away the dead became a chilling symbol of the global pandemic.

Read more …

Now we’re just throwing numbers around. They “estimated on Monday that 145,728 people could die of COVID-19 in the United States by August”. Not 145,729.

University of Washington Forecasts 145,000 US Covid-19 Deaths By August (R.)

University of Washington researchers estimated on Monday that 145,728 people could die of COVID-19 in the United States by August, raising their grim forecast by more than 5,000 fatalities in a matter of days. On Friday, the widely cited Institute for Health Metrics and evaluation at the university projected 140,496 deaths by August from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Researchers did not give a reason for the abrupt revision. The new estimate came on the same day that Texas reported its highest number of hospitalizations so far in the pandemic and 22 U.S. states showed at least a small uptick in the number of new confirmed cases, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.


Among the states with the sharpest increases were Michigan and Arizona, according to Johns Hopkins, while Virginia, Rhode Island and Nebraska showed the greatest decreases. Infectious disease experts have said that large street protests held in major U.S. cities after the death of a black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis police custody, could touch off a new outbreak of the disease. A total of more than 1.9 million cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, have been reported in the United States, according to a Reuters tally, which has confirmed 110,000 deaths.

Read more …

Or could not. Could be half, could be twice as much. Who has faith in the Imperial College?

Lockdowns Could Have Saved Three Million Lives Across Europe – Study (Ind.)

Europe’s lockdowns over coronavirus may have saved around three million lives, according to a new study. Imperial College London scientists found restrictions had a “substantial effect” in reducing transmission levels of the virus in a modelling study involving data from 11 countries from the continent up to early May. European nations began implementing social distancing, school closures and national lockdowns in March, with the UK going into lockdown on 23 March. The Imperial researchers estimate across the countries looked at – including France, Germany, Italy and Spain – between 12 and 15 million people were infected with Covid-19 up to 4 May, representing between 3.2 per cent and 4.0 per cent of the population. Scientists also studied data from the UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

In their paper, published in the Nature journal, they said the results show that major non-pharmaceutical interventions and lockdown in particular have had a “large effect on reducing transmission”. The researchers estimated 3.1 million deaths had been prevented across the 11 countries due to interventions since the beginning of the pandemic. They came up with the figure after comparing the deaths predicted under a model with no interventions to the deaths predicted in an intervention model. The paper says: “Continued intervention should be considered to keep transmission of SARS-CoV-2 under control.”

Meanwhile, a second study from the University of California, looking at China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, and the United States, has estimated interventions in those countries prevented or delayed around 530 million cases. The paper, also published in Nature, said: “In the absence of policy actions, we estimate that early infections of Covid-19 exhibit exponential growth rates of roughly 38% per day.” Researchers said they found that anti-contagion policies “significantly and substantially” slowed this growth, adding: “Some policies have different impacts on different populations, but we obtain consistent evidence that the policy packages now deployed are achieving large, beneficial, and measurable health outcomes.”

Read more …

Several states need to watch out.

Arizona State Health Director: Hospitals Must Activate Emergency Plan (ABC15)

The Arizona Department of Health Services director sent out a letter this weekend, informing hospitals in our state to “fully activate” their facility emergency plans. In doing so, the hospitals are going to be preparing surge beds, cross-training staff, and possibly reducing or suspending elective surgeries to “ensure adequate bed capacity for both COVID and non-COVID admissions.” The Saturday letter states the hospitals need to identify additional ICU and inpatient beds to meet the 50 percent additional bed increase. The state’s hospitals now must determine whether or not to move their facilities from conventional care to contingency care, and also prepare for crisis care.


The letter was dated the same day that ADHS director Dr. Cara Christ told ABC15 that her department’s staff had made errors and reported incorrect hospitalization numbers since April on the Arizona Department of Health Services coronavirus dashboard. ADHS miscalculated the number of hospital beds currently available and in use in Arizona, due to staff members’ confusion about the hospitals’ licensed bed capacity and surge capacity.

Read more …

The quarantine comes at the wrong end of the lockdown. They should have isolated the 100,000 they let in during the lockdown, but instead never even tested them, as a matter of policy.

EasyJet CEO Says Legal Case Against UK Quarantine Is Strong (R.)

Britain’s quarantine plan was rushed into existence, is out of proportion and should be challenged in the courts, according to the head of easyJet which has joined rivals in threatening legal proceedings. Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said he believed easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways had a good chance of winning any legal battle and warned that if the measure stayed in place for a long time he could have to make further job cuts. Britain on Monday introduced a 14-day quarantine for international arrivals despite the threat of legal action. “We think that there’s enough evidence and there’s a strong case here that this should be challenged by the courts. This is something that has been rushed through. It’s not in proportion,” Lundgren told Sky News on Monday.


EasyJet is already planning to cut 4,500 jobs or 30% of its workforce because of the coronavirus crisis, and Lundgren said quarantine would make the situation even worse. He said he hoped the threat of legal action would push the government to replace the measure with “a targeted approach that is based on the solutions of air bridges”, which allow people to travel freely between countries with low infection rates. When asked if the quarantine could lead to more job losses, he said, “I fear so…I think and I fear unless there is a change to this (the quarantine rule), that the aviation industry as we know it here in the UK will not be in tact.”

Read more …

Fun with Musk.

Tesla’s Double-WTF Chart of the Year (WS)

Tesla’s shares closed at a new closing high today of $949.92. This beat the prior closing high of February 19 of $917.42. But it remains a tad below the intraday high of 968.99 of February 4. So let me walk you through this in chronological order because it’s just too juicy to pass up. On February 4, 2020, when Tesla’s shares hit $968.99, I posted the “WTF chart of the year,” calling Tesla a “Supernatural Phenomenon.” The shares had surged 170% from mid-December. And Tesla’s market cap had skyrocketed during the less than two-month period by over $110 billion:

Then it came unglued. On the way down, on February 13, Tesla sold new shares at $767 a share and collected over $2 billion in cash from investors. This was a wise move for Tesla. Perhaps Musk saw that the pandemic might be shutting down the factory in Fremont, after it had already shut down the factory in Shanghai, and perhaps he saw that Tesla would burn through cash a lot faster during the pandemic than before, and it was a lightning-fast drive-by share sale.


And shares swooned. Then on March 18, Tesla shares plunged another 16% to $361.22, amid allegations that it was flouting the lockdown order of Alameda County, by running two full shifts at its Fremont factory. This was a confusing story with allegations and counter-allegations, that then threatened to spiral out of control, and we won’t get into it. Nevertheless, that fateful March 18, I posted the new version of the WTF chart of the year, one of the most majestic double-sided spikes:

And then the whole circus started all over again. Since March 18, the stock has re-skyrocketed 163%, and Tesla’s market capitalization has re-skyrocket by $110 billion, which brings us to the new-and-improved Double-WTF chart of the year.

Read more …

Is it mainly coal?

Chinese Investment In 2019 In Australia Down 60% To Lowest Since 2007 (G.)

Chinese investment in Australia has fallen by almost 60% as Beijing shifts its focus towards developing nations that have signed up for its Belt and Road Initiative. Despite record trade between the two nations, Chinese investment in Australia fell from $8.2bn in 2018 to $3.4bn in 2019, with 43% fewer deals struck. A new report puts the plunge down to tighter Chinese regulations, a negative perception of Australia’s investment rules, and a shift towards Latin America and Belt and Road projects in developing countries. The KPMG and University of Sydney study found new Chinese investment in Australia had plunged to its lowest level since 2007.


Hans Hendrischke, one of the report’s authors, said the decline mirrored similar patterns in other western countries. But he said Chinese investment into Australia had fallen at a faster rate than other nations including the United States. Australian food and agricultural businesses were the biggest recipients of Chinese investment, with 44% of the total funding flowing into the sector. The result was largely driven by the acquisition of the Bellamy’s dairy company. The commercial real estate sector was the second largest recipient despite an annual decline of 51%.

Read more …

Apparently CBS cut out all sorts of things Barr said.

Barr: Clearing Of Lafayette Park Was Unrelated To Church Photo Op (Turley)

Margaret Brennan just completed an interview with Attorney General Bill Barr on CBS Face the Nation. For days, the allegation from politicians, the press, protesters, and pundits has been that the Park was cleared for the purpose of the widely criticized photo op held by Trump in front of St. John’s Church. [..] The photo op allegation continues to be repeated on the Internet despite various media reports debunking it. This morning Barr confirmed the details in those reports and offered some new details. Barr however continues to support the level of force used in the Park and the decision to go forward with the clearing of the Park. Barr confirmed that the plan to clear the park came from the Park Police, which asked for the expansion of the perimeter on Sunday night. He reviewed the plan Monday morning and, with others, approved the plan. The order was transmitted to Park Police at 2 pm.

[..] Brennan does challenge what she said was Barr’s assertion that the Secretary Mark Esper did not rule out the use of the Insurrection Act. This may have been a lost in legal translation moment. It think Barr was making a narrower legal point while Brennan thought it was a more general statement. Here is what Barr said: “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.” Esper was not saying that the Act could not be used but should only be used as a “last resort.”

Neither Barr not Esper supported invoking the Act, i.e., ordering deployments under the Act. Both however agreed it could be used as a legal matter if circumstances warranted. Here is what Barr said: MARGARET BRENNAN: So in this Monday meeting with the president, when the Defense Secretary, who has now publicly said that he opposed using the Insurrection Act, you said what to the president? BARR: I don’t think the Secretary of Defense said he opposed it. I think he said that it was a last resort and he didn’t think it was necessary. I think we all agree that it’s a last resort, but it’s ultimately the president’s decision. The- the reporting is completely false on this. Both Esper and Barr seem to agree that the Act is available but that current circumstances do not warrant their use. Both agree it should be used as a “last resort.”

Read more …

I know this is Fox, and only one black voice (many more have spoken), but this must be one of the most racist things I’ve seen in a long time.

I was wondering at what point in the carefully planned spin doctor meeting, was the suggestion voted down to go in blackface.

Ex-Warren Surrogate Blasts White Dems For Kneeling In African Cloth (Fox)

A former national surrogate for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., ripped into white congressional Democrats on Monday after they wore African-patterned garb and knelt in a demonstration against racism and police brutality. “I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that they draped these white people in kente cloth to ‘honor’ him. This has to be hell,” author Frederick Joseph tweeted, also arguing that black Americans are “being pandered to, and ultimately, disrespected.” In a tweet thread, he argued that Democrats were failing in their attempts to be helpful amid ongoing strife surrounding George Floyd’s death.

He specifically took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who joined other Democrats in kneeling inside of the Capitol Visitor Center on Thursday. Democratic members of both the House and Senate knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to honor Floyd, representing the amount of time he was pinned down by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The kneeling also touched on an ongoing protest trend harkening back to former NFL player Colin Kaepernick and demonstrations during the national anthem. Pelosi said on Monday that members of Congress would be kneeling in a place where they typically recited the Pledge of Allegiance.


“This is a mess,” Joseph said in one tweet. In another, he added: “If anyone can’t understand why Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and them dressed up like they’re trying to sneak into Wakanda is disrespectful and appropriative you have a great deal to learn.” Wakanda is the fictional land in Africa associated with the Marvel superhero Black Panther.

Read more …

Very long from Steve on the nonsense most economists spout about the role of energy in an economy. They basically treat it as if it doesn’t play any role, much in the same way that people like Paul Krigmen deny the role that banks play.

The Appallingly Bad Neoclassical Economics of Climate Change (Steve Keen)

Nordhaus justified the assumption that 87% of GDP will be unaffected by climate change on the basis that: “..for the bulk of the economy—manufacturing, mining, utilities, finance, trade, and most service industries—it is difficult to find major direct impacts of the projected climate changes over the next 50 to 75 years”. (Nordhaus 1991, p. 932) In fact, a direct effect can easily be identified by surmounting the failure of economists in general—not just Neoclassicals—to appreciate the role of energy in production. Almost all economic models use production functions that assume that “Labour” and “Capital” are all that are needed to produce “Output”.

However, neither Labour nor Capital can function without energy inputs: “to coin a phrase, labour without energy is a corpse, while capital without energy is a sculpture” (Keen, Ayres et al. 2019, p. 41). Energy is directly needed to produce GDP, and therefore if energy production has to fall because of global warming, then so will GDP. [..] if climatic changes caused by the increase in global temperature persuade the public and policymakers that we must stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere “now”, whenever “now” may be, then global GDP will fall roughly proportionately to the ratio of fossil-fuel energy production to total energy production at that time.

As of 2020, fossil fuels provided roughly 85% of energy production. So, if 2020 were the year humanity decided that the growth in CO2 had to stop, GDP would fall by of the order of 85%. Even if the very high rate of growth of renewables in 2015 were maintained—when the ratio of renewables to total energy production was growing at about 3% per annum—renewables would still yield less than 40% of total energy production in 2050—see Figure 8. This implies a drop in GDP of about 50% at that time. The decision by Neoclassical climate change economists to exclude “manufacturing, mining, utilities, finance, trade, and most service industries” from any consequences from climate change is thus utterly unjustified.

Read more …

 

 

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May 122020
 


Edward Hopper Night in the park 1921

 

Letter from Hong Kong to Covid Ravaged UK: What On Earth Are You Doing? (HKFP)
14 Million Wuhan Residents To Be Tested For COVID19 In 10 Days (SCMP)
As US Meat Workers Fall Sick And Supplies Dwindle, Exports To China Soar (R.)
Mexican Border Town Uses ‘Sanitizing Tunnels’ To Disinfect US Visitors (G.)
Tesla’s Musk Says Ready For Arrest As He Reopens California Plant (R.)
The Sum of All Broken Promises (Kunstler) ;
Record Unemployment Drives Forbearances Up (NMN)
The Bailout Is Working — for the Rich (Eisinger)
Bitcoin Goes Through Third ‘Halving’ (R.)
BOJ Will Do ‘Whatever It Can’ To Combat Pandemic Fallout: Kuroda (R.)
Trump And Biden Trade Anti-China Ads (IC)
Jan 5 Oval Office Meeting Key To Entire Anti-Trump Operation (Hemingway)
List Of Obama Officials Involved In Unmasking Declassified (SAC)
Another Former Obama Official Contradicts Her Public Statements (Turley)
2,000 Former DOJ, FBI Officials Demand Barr Resign Over Flynn Case (UPI)

 

 

• US registers less than 900 #coronavirus deaths in 24-hours for second day

• US records 830 #coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 80,352, according to Johns Hopkins University. The figure followed Sunday’s toll of 776, the lowest daily tally since March,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cases 4,273,104 (+ 72,174 from yesterday’s 4,200,957)

Deaths 287,621 (+ 3,471 from yesterday’s 284,150)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

“At the moment the number of deaths in Hong Kong [..] is four. Not 4,000, not 400, not 40. Four, as in number of gospel writers.”

Letter from Hong Kong to Covid Ravaged UK: What On Earth Are You Doing? (HKFP)

Five years ago I passed a landmark of no significance to anyone else but me: I had spent more than half of my life in Hong Kong. But I still wish you well. [..] And I need to ask, from one crowded island to another, what the hell have you been getting up to. My Facebook feed is bulging with lockdown stories. And it is horrifying to read the news that total deaths from Covid 19 in your place have passed, at the time of writing, 30,000. It seemed to me entirely irrelevant that, the week before, the total casualty toll had passed the tally of British Army deaths on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. When two highly industrialised nations put hundreds of thousands of young men in a field with instructions to kill each other you expect the blood to flow.

But we are all, give or take a few civil wars a safe distance away, at peace at the moment. And the excuse that this massacre is all inevitable, the result of a medical problem which nobody could have foreseen and for which there was no immediate remedy, doesn’t wash because the consequences have been so variable. I understand it is too early to say whether the UK will achieve the unwanted distinction of the highest death rate in Europe. But why is it even in the running for this title? At the moment the number of deaths in Hong Kong, whose government enjoys neither democratic legitimacy nor a reputation for unusual efficiency, is four. Not 4,000, not 400, not 40. Four, as in number of gospel writers.

This is in a territory with a land border to the mainland, where it all started. So we had less warning and more opportunities for imported infections. Taiwan and Thailand, similarly disadvantaged, have also managed strikingly low numbers, and Viet Nam claims to have no cases at all. [..] There is an interesting irony here, at least for the moment. It seems your government is not getting the blame it has richly earned. Ours, which has had a good epidemic so far, is not getting much credit. Partly, this is because of events in the year before the arrival of the new disease. Our Chief Executive has trodden in too many political cowpats to have a shot at the Hong Kong’s sweetheart title, whatever she does about viruses.

It is also partly because the government was propelled towards some precautions, like closing the border, by public agitation. But I think the main reason is because Hong Kong people, while they do not trust the words of their government, and still less those of the government over the boundary on the mainland, did not need to be persuaded to take the whole matter seriously. This made a big difference. Why so serious? We participated extensively in the SARS epidemic in 2003, still fresh in many memories. Indeed I imagine many households, like mine, still had a box of face masks which were tucked away when that epidemic subsided. Hygiene was already a thing.

In countries that have not seen a real epidemic since the Spanish flu in 1918 this awareness would of course be absent. But this is where, in a democratic society with a literate population and free media, public information should have come in. Instead governments dithered, at best, or denied there was a problem, at worst. I do not allow the defence that they were relying on scientific opinion. This is a contradiction in terms. Science, in its slow, tentative way, produces factual observations. The opinions of scientists about matters on which science has not yet determined the facts are not scientific. They are just opinions. You may think they are expert opinions, but expert opinions about the future (see the works of Philip Tetlock) are lamentably unreliable.

Read more …

I suggest we call this a test drive.

We can only wish the west would be as thorough. China understands Crush the Curve. It just took them a fateful 5-6 weeks too long to figure it out.

14 Million Wuhan Residents To Be Tested For COVID19 In 10 Days (SCMP)

Authorities in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic coronavirus was first detected, have ordered fresh Covid-19 tests for all of its 14 million residents after a cluster of new community cases. The Wuhan Covid-19 Epidemic Prevention Headquarters ordered all districts in the city to come up with plans for a 10-day barrage of nucleic tests and submit the plans by noon on Tuesday. The tests should cover both permanent residents and mobile populations, and target residential estates and densely populated areas, the headquarters said in the orders. The unprecedented move came after reports on the weekend of six new coronavirus cases from the same residential compound, known as Sanmin.

The cases were the first in the city since its last local Covid-19 patient was reported on April 3. One Sanmin resident, an 89-year-old man, showed symptoms as early as March but was not confirmed as a coronavirus patient until Saturday. The confirmation prompted authorities to test around 5,000 people from the complex, uncovering five more cases. Zhang Yuxin, who had been serving as the Communist Party secretary in charge of the Sanmin area, was sacked for poor management, state media reported on Monday. A Chinese professor of epidemiology, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said large-scale testing was needed to prevent a new wave of infections.


“The new cases in Wuhan show there is a real risk of a second wave of potential transmission in the community by the asymptomatic carriers or mild symptoms. Covid-19 started with a few after all,” he said. “Tests on such a broad scale can help find these hidden carriers and eliminate that risk.”

Read more …

If so many people get infected in meat plants, there appears to be a serious hygiene problem right where your food comes from, and maybe the entire industry should be revised.

Q: what are the similarities between meat plants and care homes, other then they’re all virus clusters?

As US Meat Workers Fall Sick And Supplies Dwindle, Exports To China Soar (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump ordered meat processing plants to stay open to protect the nation’s food supply even as workers got sick and died. Yet the plants have increasingly been exporting to China while U.S. consumers face shortages, a Reuters analysis of government data showed. Trump, who is in an acrimonious public dispute with Beijing over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, invoked the 1950 Defense Production Act on April 28 to keep plants open. Now he is facing criticism from some lawmakers, consumers and plant employees for putting workers at risk in part to help ensure China’s meat supply.

Meat buyers in China ramped up imports from around the world as a pig disease decimated its herd, the world’s largest, and pushed Chinese pork prices to record highs. The supply shock drove China to pay more for U.S. meat than other countries, and even U.S. consumers, since late 2019. “We know that over time exports are critically important. I think we need to focus on meeting domestic demand at this point,” said Mike Naig, the agriculture secretary in the top U.S. pork-producing state of Iowa who supported Trump’s order. Processors including Smithfield Foods, owned by China’s WH Group Ltd, Brazilian-owned JBS USA and Tyson Foods Inc temporarily closed about 20 U.S. meat plants as the virus infected thousands of employees, prompting meatpackers and grocers to warn of shortages.


Some plants have resumed limited operations as workers afraid of getting sick stay home. The disruptions mean consumers could see 30% less meat in supermarkets by the end of May, at prices 20% higher than last year, according to Will Sawyer, lead economist at agricultural lender CoBank. While pork supplies tightened as the number of pigs slaughtered each day plunged by about 40% since mid-March, shipments of American pork to China more than quadrupled over the same period, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

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Makes me think of how the Japanese 500 years ago called westerners dirty pigs.

Mexican Border Town Uses ‘Sanitizing Tunnels’ To Disinfect US Visitors (G.)

Fears of foreigners bringing infectious disease into the country. Enhanced border checkpoints. And the use of disinfectant spray to sanitize human beings. These aren’t notes from one of Donald Trump’s freewheeling press conferences. The United States’ troubled response to the coronavirus pandemic is such that the Mexican border city of Nogales, Sonora, has set up “sanitizing tunnels” to disinfect people leaving the US through Nogales, Arizona. On the Mexican side of two major border crossings, drivers coming from Arizona must exit their vehicles and step into an inflatable tunnel that sprays them with a cleansing solution.

Videos posted to social media by the municipal government of Nogales, Sonora, show people rotate under the vapor, stretch their arms and lean over to allow the disinfectant to reach their entire bodies. In a press release, the Nogales government states that the cleansing solution is biodegradable and protects from “any virus or bacteria, including Covid-19” for up to 24 hours. It adds that the tunnels “reduce the chances that a foreign citizen or citizen of this city who presents symptoms of the disease will infect other people on the Mexican side”.


The border city’s mayor has told Mexican news outlets that a majority of the people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Nogales, Sonora, had recently returned from the US. The Mexican border city plans to install five sanitizing tunnels to disinfect people arriving through its two main ports of entry from Nogales, Arizona. A sanitizing tunnel is also stationed outside a hospital in Nogales, Sonora, where visitors must brush open or duck through clear plastic curtains to be washed with the disinfectant mist.

https://twitter.com/Underground_RT/status/1259856428145278976

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Now talk to the shareholders.

Tesla’s Musk Says Ready For Arrest As He Reopens California Plant (R.)

Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk on Monday said production was resuming at the automaker’s sole U.S. vehicle factory, in California, defying an order to stay closed and saying if anyone had to be arrested it should be him. The move comes as states and cities around the United States experiment with ways to safely reopen their economies after the coronavirus outbreak shuttered businesses and forced tens of millions of Americans out of work. Musk over the weekend threatened to leave California for Texas or Nevada over his factory’s closure. His move has highlighted the competition for jobs and ignited a rush to woo the billionaire executive by states that have reopened their economies more quickly in response to encouragement from U.S. President Donald Trump.

In an email on Monday, Tesla referred to an order on Thursday by California’s governor allowing manufacturers to resume operations and said that as of Sunday, previously furloughed employees were back to their regular employment status. “We’re happy to get back to work and have implemented very detailed plans to help you keep safe as you return,” according to the email seen by Reuters and titled “Furlough Has Ended And We Are Back To Work in Production!” Musk in a tweet said production was resuming on Monday, adding that he would join workers on the assembly line. “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me,” he wrote.


[..] Health officials in Alameda County, where the Fremont factory is based, late on Monday said they were aware that Tesla had opened beyond the so-called minimum basic operations allowed during lockdown, and had notified the company it could not operate without a county-approved plan. In a statement, officials said they expected a proposal from Tesla later on Monday and “hope Tesla will likewise comply without further enforcement measures.”

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People have been getting so used to dire stories about the economy, they can no longer tell when things are really going south.

The Sum of All Broken Promises (Kunstler) ;

[..] one reason the markets may not keep chugging is that money is disappearing into the ol’ black hole of extinction even faster than the Fed can enter keystrokes that magically represent new money. The reason: if, in fact, money is loaned into existence, it is defaulted out of existence when the loans are not paid back. After all, that’s what a loan is: money advanced on a promise to be paid back, generally at interest, interest representing the time-value of money, that is, the duration of the loan. Do you have any idea how many loans are not being paid back, and may now never be paid back?

Start with houses. 63 percent of homeowners pay a mortgage (a loan) every month. The national average outstanding mortgage debt is $148,000. Total mortgage debt is $10.3 trillion. Now cars: There are roughly 260 million passenger vehicles registered in America, with upward of 100 million of them bought on loans that are still active, amounting to $1.2 trillion, enough to buy 53 million Ford Fusions at $23,000 each. Now credit card debt: total for the US is $3.9 trillion with an average carried balance of $9,333. Meanwhile, 45 percent of adult Americans have no savings.


[..] Consider that a trillion is a thousand billion (and a billion is a thousand million). In an ordinary reality, a reality-based reality, that is, with reality-based money, that would be a lot of money (and a lot of debt)! It’s hard to project an exact figure, but with over 20 percent of the US work-force idle, with no income, there’s liable to be a lot of debt that’s not being paid back, will never be paid back, and a lot of money headed into extinction. That will translate into a lot of people with no money. Until all that money they owed is finished not being paid back, and the new money that Fed is busy creating, with no relationship to the production of things of value, overcomes the old money that’s finished disappearing. Then Americans will have plenty of money. The catch is that the money will be worthless. Thus, the two ways of going broke: having no money; or having lots of money that’s too worthless to buy anything. So it goes.

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Oh well, houses are way overpriced anyway.

Record Unemployment Drives Forbearances Up (NMN)

The number of mortgages in coronavirus-related forbearance rose by 37 basis points between April 27 and May 3 as the unemployment rate kept growing, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Nearly 4 million mortgages sat in forbearance plans as of May 3. About 7.91% of all outstanding loans went into forbearance, compared to 7.54% the week before. The share of loans in forbearance at independent mortgage bank servicers saw a greater increase than the industry-wide average, growing to 7.54% from 7.13% over that period. At depositories, that share increased to 8.75% from 8.41%.


“With the calendar turning to May, the share of loans in forbearance increased, but the pace of the increase and incoming forbearance requests continued to slow,” Mike Fratantoni, the MBA’s senior vice president and chief economist, said in a press release. “The dreadful April jobs report showed a decline of more than 20 million jobs, and a spike in the unemployment rate to the highest level since the Great Depression. It will not be surprising if the forbearance numbers continue to rise.” In April, the largest spike came in the first full week of the month. Some projections show the same could be in store for May. Forbearance requests as a percentage of servicing portfolio volume declined 12 basis points for the week ended May 3 to 0.51 % from 0.63. But call center volume as a percentage of portfolio volume increased to 8.6% from 7.2% the previous week.

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That’s the whole idea. But the rich still live in the same country. Let the economy fail and they’re no longer rich.

A bit unreal that the Fed uses the language of MMT.

The Bailout Is Working — for the Rich (Eisinger)

Ten weeks into the worst crisis in 90 years, the government’s effort to save the economy has been both a spectacular success and a catastrophic failure. The clearest illustration of that came on Friday, when the government reported that 20.5 million people lost their jobs in April. It marked a period of unfathomable pain across the country not seen since the Great Depression. Also on Friday, the stock market rallied. The S&P 500 is now up 30% from its lows in mid-March and back to where it was last October, when the outlook for 2020 corporate earnings looked sunshiny. Companies have sold record amounts of debt in recent weeks for investment-grade companies. Junk bonds, historically dodgy during an economic swoon, have roared back.

If you’re looking for investors’ verdict on who has won the bailout, consider these returns: Shares of Apollo Group, the giant private equity firm, have soared 80% from their lows. The stock of Blackstone, another private equity behemoth, has risen 50%. The reason: Asset holders like Apollo and Blackstone — disproportionately the wealthiest and most influential — have been insured by the world’s most powerful central bank. This largess is boundless and without conditions. “Even if a second wave of outbreaks were to occur,” JPMorgan economists wrote in a celebratory note on Friday, “the Fed has explicitly indicated that there is no dollar limit and no danger of running out of ammunition.”


Many aspects of the coronavirus bailout that assist individuals or small businesses, meanwhile, are short-term or contingent. Aid to small businesses comes with conditions on what they can do with the money. The sums allocated by the CARES Act for stimulus and expanded unemployment insurance are vast by historical standards. But the relief they provide didn’t prevent tens of millions from losing their jobs. The assistance runs out in weeks, and the jobless live at the mercy of a divided Congress, which will decide whether that help gets extended and, if so, for how long.


The Nasdaq has put in six consecutive daily gains of 0.50% or more. The last time we saw such a streak was 17 years ago on 9/4/2003

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The Fed props up the stock market, not bitcoin.

Bitcoin Goes Through Third ‘Halving’ (R.)

Bitcoin slid on Monday in volatile trading, after it went through a technical adjustment that reduced the rate at which new coins are created, but the outlook remained upbeat as the increase in supply slows down. Monday’s “halving” cuts the rewards given to those who “mine” bitcoin to 6.25 new coins from 12.5. The next halving will be in 2024. Bitcoin relies on so-called “mining” computers that validate blocks of transactions by competing to solve mathematical puzzles every 10 minutes. In return, the first to solve the puzzle and clear the transaction is rewarded new bitcoins. In late afternoon trading, bitcoin was last down 1.3% at $8,620.43 against the dollar on the Bitstamp platform. It briefly turned higher.

“The incentive is less for miners now to mine bitcoin and they will probably switch to more profitable cryptocurrencies. So in the short term, there’s going to be pressure for bitcoin,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York. “But longer term, you’re probably going to see higher prices. With all the fiscal and monetary stimulus that’s being pumped into the global economy, there’s renewed interest from institutional traders looking for alternatives to modern government-backed currencies.” Bitcoin has gained more than 20% since the beginning of the year. It touched $10,000 last week, a roughly three-month high, after Bloomberg reported that hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones has backed bitcoin as a hedge against inflation.


Traders said the prospect of bitcoin’s halving has fueled gains in the asset this year. Bitcoin two earlier “halvings”— one in November 2012 and the other in July 2016 — had signaled the start of bitcoin’s most dramatic bull runs over a period of several years, although not before a brief sell-off. The previous two bitcoin events propelled rallies of about 10,000% from late 2012 to 2014, and roughly 2,500% from mid-2016 to the currency’s all-time high just shy of $20,000 in December 2017, according to traders.

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Kuroda’s been head of the BOJ for over 7 years. The outcome? “Japan’s economy is in an increasingly severe state…”

BOJ Will Do ‘Whatever It Can’ To Combat Pandemic Fallout: Kuroda (R.)

The Bank of Japan will do “whatever it can” to mitigate the growing fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Tuesday, warning that a collapse in global activity has had severe consequences on the the economy. The central bank has various tools at its disposal if it were to ramp up stimulus such as accelerating money printing, increasing market operation tools and cutting interest rates, Kuroda said in a semi-annual testimony to parliament. He signalled that any further steps the BOJ takes will focus on helping cash-strapped firms, rather than stimulating demand. “What’s most important for us is to take steps to smoothen corporate financing and stabilise markets,” Kuroda said.

“We will do whatever we can as a central bank, working closely with the government.” Kuroda ruled out the possibility of adding municipal bonds to the list of assets the BOJ buys, however, saying he saw no need to do so for the time being. The world’s third-largest economy is on the cusp of a deep recession with many analysts projecting a double-digit contraction in the current quarter, as the pandemic forces households to stay home and businesses to shut down. While the government plans to lift the state of emergency for some prefectures that saw infection numbers stabilise, many big cities including Tokyo will likely see current restrictions kept in place at least for the rest of this month.


Kuroda said Japan did not face an imminent risk of a sharp credit contraction, as many financial institutions have sufficient buffers to weather the pain from the pandemic. But he warned the outlook for Japan’s economy was “highly uncertain” and dependent on when the pandemic is contained, with risks skewed to the downside. “Japan’s economy is in an increasingly severe state. The outlook will remain severe for the time being,” he said.

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When will Biden start up the anti-Putin ads?

Trump And Biden Trade Anti-China Ads (IC)

As coronavirus deaths mount, President Donald Trump’s China-bashing has evolved from a short-term political tactic into a full-fledged election strategy. Take the ad “Travel Ban,” which was unveiled last week by pro-Trump Super PAC America First Action. The spot is one of several anti-China ads released by the group over the past few weeks, and it revisits some standard Trump campaign tropes: There are images of Biden from the Obama years, clips of the former vice president stumbling over his words, and allusions to the decades Biden spent in Washington. But the ad, which is part of a larger attempt to dub the presumptive Democratic nominee “Beijing Biden,” reserves its greatest ire for Biden’s purported ties to China, zooming in on a shot of him shaking hands with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

“China is killing our jobs and now killing our people,” a male voice intones ominously. Instead of taking the high road, the Biden campaign has offered its own version of xenophobic hype. A Biden campaign spot released in mid-April juxtaposes Chinese medical workers in Tyvex suits with lines of Americans waiting to get tested for the virus. “Trump rolled over for the Chinese,” a narrator says. Both ads have angered Asian American activists. The Biden spot in particular has upset people who view him as a potential ally at a time of rising xenophobia.


They worry that even without going to extremes like calling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus” and the “kung-flu” — terms used by Trump and officials in his administration over the past few months — images of Asian faces and offhanded mentions of “the Chinese” are just a slightly subtler form of racist dog-whistling, and harmful at a moment when hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise. “There’s a clear link between the rhetoric that’s being used and the increased harm to our community,” said John Yang, president of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC. “We are equally concerned about both parties. We are concerned that there will be a race to the bottom.”

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I don’t think the DOJ will go after Obama, only Sidney Powell would.

Jan 5 Oval Office Meeting Key To Entire Anti-Trump Operation (Hemingway)

Information released in the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the case it brought against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn confirms the significance of a January 5, 2017, meeting at the Obama White House. It was at this meeting that Obama gave guidance to key officials who would be tasked with protecting his administration’s utilization of secretly funded Clinton campaign research, which alleged Trump was involved in a treasonous plot to collude with Russia, from being discovered or stopped by the incoming administration. “President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia,”

National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote in an unusual email to herself about the meeting that was also attended by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, and Vice President Joe Biden. A clearer picture is emerging of the drastic steps that were taken to accomplish Obama’s goal in the following weeks and months. Shortly thereafter, high-level operatives began intensely leaking selective information supporting a supposed Russia-Trump conspiracy theory, the incoming National Security Advisor was ambushed, and the incoming Attorney General was forced to recuse himself from oversight of investigations of President Trump. At each major point in the operation, explosive media leaks were a key strategy in the operation to take down Trump.

Not only was information on Russia not fully shared with the incoming Trump team, as Obama directs, the leaks and ambushes made the transition chaotic, scared quality individuals away from working in the administration, made effective governance almost impossible, and materially damaged national security. When Comey was finally fired on May 9, in part for his duplicitousness regarding his handling of the Russia collusion theory, he orchestrated the launch of a Special Counsel probe that continued his efforts for another two years. That probe ended with Mueller finding no evidence of any American colluding with Russia to steal the 2016 election, much less Trump or anyone connected to him.

An analysis of the timeline from early 2017 shows a clear pattern of behavior from the federal officials running the collusion operation against the Trump campaign. It also shows how essential media leaks were to their strategy to sideline key law enforcement and intelligence officials and cripple the ability of the incoming Trump administration to run the country. Here’s a timeline of the key moments and news articles of the efforts, per Obama’s direction, to prevent the Trump administration from learning about the FBI’s operation against it.

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Can I get this straight? Susan Rice was Obama’s national security advisor. She unmasked US officials while she was no longer at the job. Even if individuals are unmasked, their identities remain highly classified. But they were leaked in substantial numbers. Which is in turn highly illegal.

Samantha Power was United Nations Ambassador. She also unmasked Trump officials. In fact she made 260 requests for unmasking. Only, she didn’t. Someone else did in her name.

List Of Obama Officials Involved In Unmasking Declassified (SAC)

In 2017, information published by this reporter and John Solomon, then with Circa, a online news organization under Sinclair Media, exposed that former Obama national security advisor Susan Rice had unmasked a number of U.S. officials connected to then President Donald Trump’s campaign. On Monday night, reports surfaced, first with ABC News and then others, that the acting Director Of National Intelligence Richard Grenell had authorized the declassification of the list of senior Obama officials that had unmasked Americans exponentially in the last months of the Obama administration. A U.S. official familiar with the declassification process confirmed to SaraACarter.com that the list of officials has been declassified and should be made public shortly.

In May, 2019 President Donald Trump authorized the Department of Justice to declassify the list, as well as all the other documentation pertaining to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance warrant used to spy on short term campaign volunteer Carter Page. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz revealed in several recent reports that the FBI and DOJ failed to validate the evidence used to obtain the warrants to spy on Page and omitted evidence that would have stopped the secret court from authorizing the warrant to spy on the campaign. The most egregious unmasking was that of Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, whose prosecution has now been overturned by the Justice Department.

In January, 2017 Flynn’s name and the contents of his conversation with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was revealed to a Washington Post reporter by a senior official in the Obama administration. The contents of the conversation were later outed in a column by Washington Post writer David Ignatius. The highly classified information led to the false allegations that Flynn and the Trump campaign were conspiring with Russia. Still, no one has been held accountable for the highly classified leak. However, sources tell this reporter there has been an ongoing DOJ investigation into the matter.

Rice, who hid her role in unmasking Trump officials, eventually admitted that she had requested unmasking of officials in the campaign. However, it was in April, 2017, when Trump White House lawyers were informed that Rice had requested the identities of U.S. persons in the raw intelligence reports. Usually in the raw reports Americans are identified as U.S. Person 1 or U.S. Person 2. Those identities are considered top secret and are limited to only a few persons. Further, there was an abundance of evidence that former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power, unlike any former U.N. Ambassador before her, was also unmasking American’s identities in these highly classified reports at an extraordinary rate.

Then, in October, 2017, House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy revealed that Power had admitted under testimony that not all the “unmaskings” attributed to her were made by her but instead were done by someone else who signed in her name. She allegedly made 260 requests to “unmask” Americans who had been in communication with non-U.S. citizens that were under surveillance. Recent testimony, declassified by Grenell has shown that to be the case and Power’s testimony coincides with Gowdy’s recollection of the events. “I think if she were on your show, she would say those requests to unmask may have been attributed to her, but they greatly exceed by an exponential factor the requests she actually made,” said Gowdy, in October 2017 to Fox News.

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There are now quite a few people known who said completely different things in public from what they said under oath.

Another Former Obama Official Contradicts Her Public Statements (Turley)

The long-delayed release of testimony from the House Intelligence Committee has proved embarrassing for a variety of former Obama officials who have been extensively quoted on the allegedly strong evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign and the Russians. Figures like James Clapper, who is a CNN expert, long indicated hat the evidence from the Obama Administration was strong and alarming. However, in testimony, Clapper denied seeing any such evidence.

One of the most embarrassing is the testimony of Evelyn Farkas, a former Obama Administration official who was widely quoted in her plea to Congress to gather the evidence that she knew was found in by the Obama Administration. In her testimony under oath Farkas repeatedly stated that she knew of no such evidence of collusion. Farkas, who served as the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia, was widely quoted when she said on MSNBC in 2017 that she feared that evidence she knew about would be destroyed by the Trump Administration.

She stated: “..was urging my former colleagues, and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill… Get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration, because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior people that left. So it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy . . . the Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about their, the staff, the Trump staff’s dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So I became very worried, because not enough was coming out into the open, and I knew that there was more.”

MSNBC never seriously questioned the statements despite the fact that Farkas left the Obama Administration in 2015 before any such investigation could have occurred. As we have seen before, the factual and legal basis for such statements are largely immaterial in the age of echo journalism. The statement fit the narrative even if it lacked any plausible basis. Not surprisingly, the House Intelligence Committee was eager to have Farkas share all that she stated she “knew about [“the Trump folks”], their staff, the Trump’s staff’s dealing with Russian” and wanted to get “into the open.” After all, she told MSNBC that “I knew that there was more.”

She was finally put under oath in the closed classified sessions and there was nothing but classified crickets. Farkas was repeatedly asked to share that information that electrified the MSNBC hosts and audience. She repeatedly denied any such knowledge, telling then Rep. Trey Gowdy (R, S.C.), “I didn’t know anything.” Gowdy noted that Farkas left the Obama administration in 2015 and asked “Then how did you know?” She repeated again “I didn’t know anything.”

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“If any of us [..] were to lie to federal investigators in the course of a properly predicated counterintelligence investigation..”

Isn’t that exactly the point? Barr said it was not properly predicated?!

2,000 Former DOJ, FBI Officials Demand Barr Resign Over Flynn Case (UPI)

Almost 2,000 former federal prosecutors and members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation published an open letter Monday calling for the resignation of Attorney General William P. Barr over the dropping of the Michael Flynn case in federal court. Former U.S. Department of Justice and FBI officials, identifying themselves as both Republicans and Democrats, said Barr’s decision to drop prosecution of Flynn, President Donald Trump’s first national security advisor, was a case of using “the Department as a tool to further President Trump’s personal and political interests,” the letter said. “Make no mistake: The Department’s action is extraordinarily rare, if not unprecedented,” the letter added.

“If any of us, or anyone reading this statement who is not a friend of the President, were to lie to federal investigators in the course of a properly predicated counterintelligence investigation, and admit we did so under oath, we would be prosecuted for it.” Last week, Barr’s prosecutors asked a U.S. District judge to dismiss the charge of making false statements to the FBI with prejudice against Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general. Co-signers of the letter said Barr earlier overruled sentencing recommendations to seek favorable treatment for President Trump’s close associate, Roger Stone, showing that Barr was doing the president’s bidding as Attorney General.


[..] “[Barr’s actions flout] the core principle that politics must never enter into the Department’s law enforcement decisions and undermined its mission to ensure equal justice under the law,” the letter said. Co-signers included former federal prosecutors and some former presidential appointees. The highest-ranking signee was Stuart Gerson, who served during the Clinton administration as acting attorney general, NBC News reported. The letter urged District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, who’s in charge of the Flynn case, to examine the DOJ’s rationale for dismissing the charges, and to hold hearings with witnesses if necessary, then to “deny the motion and proceed with sentencing if appropriate.” Along with urging Barr’s resignation, the group urged Congress to reschedule a House Judiciary Committee meeting to censure Barr, “and demand that he answer for his abuses of power.”

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Feb 172020
 


Jack Delano Discarded oil cans at truck service station on U.S. 1, New York Avenue, Washington, DC 1940

 

Japan Braces For Hundreds More Cases Onboard Cruise Ship (G.)
Taiwan Confirms First Coronavirus Death On Island, Cases At 20 (R.)
Pay Attention To Shanghai, Beijing, Japan Infection Rates (F.)
Japan’s Economy Shrinks At Fastest Rate Since 2014 (BBC)
Coronavirus Cases Rise Again In China, Recession Looms In Japan, Singapore (R.)
Americans Disembark From Virus-Hit Cruise; China Says New Cases Slow (R.)
Scramble To Track Cambodia Cruise Ship Passengers After Virus Case Found (R.)
‘Animals Live For Man’: China’s Appetite For Wildlife To Survive Virus (R.)
Armed Robbers Steal Hundreds Of Toilet Rolls In Hong Kong (BBC)
Devin Nunes Says Trump ‘Has To Tweet’ To Combat ‘Hard Left’ Media (Fox)
1,100 Former DOJ Employees Call On Barr To Resign (NPR)
German Court Halts Work On New Tesla ‘Gigafactory’ (BBC)
Australia Broadcaster Loses Newsroom Raid Case (BBC)
Breakdown or Breakthrough? Degrowth and the Great Transition (NC)
US Peach Grower Awarded $265 Million From Bayer, BASF In Weedkiller Suit (R.)

 

 

Well, we do have some numbers:

 

• Cases 71,330, up 2,076 from yesterday

• Deaths 1,775, up 106 from yesterday

• 760 million Chinese under quarantine

 

We also have plenty confusion. For instance, Reuters has two headlines that say Coronavirus Cases Rise Again In China and China Says New Cases Slow. That clears things up.

But the most dramatic event over the weekend must be the repatration of various nationalities to their homelands. About 400 Americans were evacuated from the Diamond Princess, with Australian Canadian, Italian, South Korean and Hong Kong passengers set to follow soon. 44 of these Americans are infected with the virus, and they won’t be going home. The rest will, though.

This is happening while “Japan is bracing for the possibility of hundreds of additional cases of the coronavirus onboard the stricken Princess Diamond”, says the Guardian. So the Americans that are flown home go into quarantine, right? Well… Some Diamond Princess passengers face another two weeks in isolation if they have shared a cabin with someone who tests positive.”

Remember, as of the start of the evacuation, there were 3,711 people on board. 1,219 had been tested of which 355 have been confirmed positive for the virus (among them the 44 Americans). Ergo, 2,492 people were not tested, among them the remaining 356 Americans. Who will only go into isolation if they shared a cabin with a positive case. The rest can do what they want.

We see the issue here, don’t we? How many of those 356 Americans may be infected? How many of the other nationalities which will fly home? There have been suggestions that the onboard air circulation system on the ship may have played a role in spreading the virus. If so, it could be everywhere. And yes, there could be “hundreds of additional cases”.

Then there’s the Werkendam cruise ship, from which hundreds were allowed to spread all over the world, taking off from Cambodia and/or Malaysia, before a positive case was found. Now it’s a “Scramble To Track Cambodia Cruise Ship Passengers”. Sort of like a modern version of the biblical “Go Forth and Multiply”. Where were these decisions made? Anyone ask the WHO, or China?

 

Meanwhile, China keeps trying. In Hubei province, Xiaogan city – with a population of nearly 5 million people, 3,279 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the second highest number in China, and 70 deaths, “all vehicles including motorcycles, electric bikes, bicycles and tricycles are prohibited from driving on the road”. Try that in NYC, LA, Paris, Moscow, name a major city.

And the economic effects get increased attention as well. “Barclays analysts estimate that real [Japan] GDP contracted 3.2% on a quarterly basis, a little better than market consensus of -3.8%. This is all pre-coronavirus…] Take it from there. At this point hearing from economists, bankers, investors is pretty useless, because they have little idea what goes on, and, like politicians, they won’t consider really bad scenarios until it’s too late.

But it’ll come trickling through. Served in a sauce of “we’ll be fine”.

UPDATE: 99 additional people tested positive aboard the Diamond Princess. 14 American evacuees who tested positive made the flight anyway, in a separate compartment

 

 

 

 

“Xiaogan, 70km from the city of Wuhan, has 3,279 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and has recorded 70 deaths.”

Japan Braces For Hundreds More Cases Onboard Cruise Ship (G.)

Japan is bracing for the possibility of hundreds of additional cases of the coronavirus onboard the stricken Princess Diamond, as experts warned the country was still in the “early stages” of the outbreak. The passengers evacuated from the ship face further uncertainty too, with the US and Australian citizens set for a further two weeks of quarantine after arriving homeHundreds of American passengers have flown back to the US and Australia said it would follow suit on Wednesday. Onboard the Diamond Princess, 355 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 out of an original total of about 3,600 passengers and crew, and after testing 1,219. Forty American passengers who were diagnosed with the virus have been transferred to hospitals in Japan.

Some Diamond Princess passengers face another two weeks in isolation if they have shared a cabin with someone who tests positive. The total number of people infected around the world climbed to more than 71,000 on Monday, including a further 2,048 confirmed cases in China, where the total number of deaths stands at 1,770. Five people have died outside China. Of the 105 deaths reported in China on Monday, 100 were in Hubei province, the centre of the outbreak. Cities in Hubei have stepped up measures to stop the virus’s spread.


Xiaogan city – which has a population of nearly 5 million people and the second highest number of confirmed cases in China – ordered residents to stay in their homes or face detention of up to 10 days. State media reported that “all vehicles including motorcycles, electric bikes, bicycles and tricycles are prohibited from driving on the road”. Xiaogan, 70km from the city of Wuhan, has 3,279 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and has recorded 70 deaths.

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Fifth location outside China.

Taiwan Confirms First Coronavirus Death On Island, Cases At 20 (R.)

A taxi driver has died from the coronavirus in Taiwan, marking the first such death on the island and the fifth fatality outside mainland China from an epidemic that has curbed travel and disrupted global supply chains. Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said during a news conference on Sunday that the deceased person was a 61-year-old man who had diabetes and hepatitis B. Taiwan has to date accumulated 20 confirmed cases. The deceased person had not traveled abroad recently and was a taxi driver whose clients were mainly from Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, the minister said. One of his family members was also confirmed to have the virus.

The pair constituted Taiwan’s first local transmission cases, the minister said, adding that authorities were trying to find out as soon as possible the source of contraction. “So far, we are not able to gather his contact history, so we are actively making investigations, hoping to find out the source of the contraction,” Chen said. The island will on Monday start testing all patients who show symptoms associated with coronavirus and had traveled abroad recently, the health ministry said.


The coronavirus, thought to have emerged at a wildlife market in the central Chinese province of Hubei, has killed 1,665 people in China with latest figures showing 68,500 cases of the illness. Taiwan has banned entry to Chinese visitors and foreigners with a recent history of travel to China and suspended most flights to its giant neighbor. Many schools have also extended their Lunar New Year holiday to late February to curb the spread of the virus. In a response to panic buying of masks on the island, the government scrambled to build several mask production lines and Premier Su Tseng-chang has vowed to more than double its daily mask production to 10 million by early March.

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Economic consequences. Japan was doing awful under Abenomics already.

Pay Attention To Shanghai, Beijing, Japan Infection Rates (F.)

Beijing and Shanghai have under 1,000 reported cases and only four deaths, based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Their data is sourced from the World Health Organization, the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the European Center for Disease Control and two China health agencies. China is the main source of the numbers. There are many people outside of China who doubt Beijing and Shanghai’s low case load. Watch for those numbers to rise in the weeks ahead. [..]

Covid-19 remains a mystery pathogen. It can be deadly. It’s like a bad pneumonia. Scientists believe it came from a species of bat. There is also concern that it escaped a virology research lab in Wuhan. There is no vaccine for Covid-19 yet, so those who have it are being treated with a variety of anti-viral medications and have to wait for the virus to work its way out of the body. Markets are repricing everything China related. Barclays Capital analysts released a 20-page report on the coronavirus on Friday where they said they were pushing out the recovery period, and think Japan heads into a technical recession because of it. Japan will release its fourth quarter GDP numbers on Monday.

Barclays analysts led by Tetsufumi Yamakawa in Tokyo estimate that real GDP contracted 3.2% on a quarterly basis, a little better than market consensus of -3.8%. This is all pre-coronavirus and mostly due to domestic tax matters. Yamakawa does see an increasing risk in first quarter weakness due to the Covid-19 impacts, and if that leads to negative growth, and it could, Japan hits a technical recession with back to back contraction. Weaker China tourism and a decrease in trade with China is a huge headwind for Japan. For Barclays, the probability of a recession there has surged to 69%.


Barclays’ China view is basically Wall Street consensus: so long as the virus stays concentrated in Hubei, they are going to trust China keeps it that way. [..] Xi Jinping last week called for even tighter restrictions on Hubei, and put two new Party bosses in charge to make sure the clampdown is enforced. “We think these efforts showed the urgency and determination of the government to stabilize the epicenter as soon as possible,” says Eric Zhu, an economist with Barclays in Hong Kong. “We expect incremental improvements,” he says.

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How is Abe still the PM there?

Japan’s Economy Shrinks At Fastest Rate Since 2014 (BBC)

Japan’s economy shrank at the fastest rate in five years at the end of 2019 as it was hit by a sales tax rise, a major typhoon and weak global demand. Annualised GDP fell by a much steeper than expected 6.3% in October-December. There are also concerns the coronavirus outbreak will mean the slump continues this quarter. That has raised fears that the world’s third-biggest economy may fall into recession. During the period Japanese consumer spending fell 2.9% after the country’s sales tax was raised in October to 10% from 8%. In the same month Typhoon Hagibis hit large parts of the country.


Last quarter, capital spending dropped by 3.7% and exports slipped 0.1% amid the ongoing US-China trade war. Investors are now watching to see whether the economy will rebound after the coronavirus forced China to shut down factories and led to a big drop in Chinese tourists visiting Japan. In response to today’s data economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said the Japanese government was ready to take all necessary steps to deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy and tourism.

Read more …

Recession looms everywhere by now. We just don’t want to know it.

Coronavirus Cases Rise Again In China, Recession Looms In Japan, Singapore (R.)

Japan and Singapore appeared to be on the brink of recession on Monday as the coronavirus epidemic disrupted tourism and supply chains around the world, and as China imposed tougher restrictions to try and stop the virus spreading further. The number of reported new cases of coronavirus in China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the epidemic, rose on Monday by more than 1,933, after two days of falls, and there were 100 deaths reported since Sunday. Across mainland China, officials said the total number of cases rose by 2,048 to 70,548, with 1,770 deaths. Nearly 90% of new cases were in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people where the virus is believed to have originated at a market illegally trading wildlife late last year.

The virus, which is believed to have a 14-day incubation period, has forced thousands of people to be quarantined around the world. In Cambodia, authorities were scrambling to track down hundreds of passengers who disembarked from the Holland America Line cruise ship Westerdam after an American woman left the ship and was tested positive for coronavirus in Malaysia. More than 100 have already left the country, while some 300 are reportedly still in Cambodia. “I believe there’s 300 Americans here at this hotel plus a few hundred from other countries. We will all be tested for the coronavirus today and tomorrow by the Cambodian Ministry of Health,” said passenger Holley Rauen, a public health nurse and midwife from Fort Myers, Florida.


“We have no idea when we get to get home…” American passengers were taken off another cruise liner on Sunday to fly home after being quarantined for two weeks off Japan. Seventy new coronavirus cases were confirmed on board the Carnival Corp. Diamond Princess in Yokohama. The 3,700 passengers and crew have been held since Feb. 3. Some 355 people on board have tested positive for the disease, by far the largest cluster of cases outside China. Those with the disease have been taken to hospital in Japan and no one from the ship has died. Around half of the guests onboard are from Japan.

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It’s just a matter of waiting for new clusters to pop up now.

Americans Disembark From Virus-Hit Cruise; China Says New Cases Slow (R.)

American passengers were taken off a cruise liner on Sunday to fly home after being quarantined for two weeks off Japan, while China said the rate of new coronavirus cases had slowed, calling that proof its steps to fight the outbreak were working. An announcement aboard the Diamond Princess, where 3,700 passengers and crew have been held since Feb. 3, told Americans to get ready to disembark on Sunday evening for charter flights home. Passengers wearing masks could later be seen waving through the windows of buses parked near the ship. Of the roughly 400 Americans on the cruise, more than 40 are infected with the virus and will stay in Japan for treatment, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

“They are not going to go anywhere. They’re going to be in hospitals in Japan,” Fauci told the CBS News program “Face the Nation.” “People who have symptoms will not be able to get on the evacuation plane. Others are going to be evacuated starting imminently to air force bases in the United States.” Kyodo News Agency said the flights carrying U.S. passengers left Haneda Airport at around 1700 ET (2200 GMT). Canadian, Italian, South Korean and Hong Kong passengers were expected to follow soon, after their governments also announced plans to repatriate passengers. “Leaving in a few hours. No details. Might be going to Texas or Nebraska,” U.S. passenger Gay Courter told Reuters.


Seventy new coronavirus cases were confirmed on board, bringing the total on the ship to 355, by far the largest cluster of cases outside China. Fauci told the Washington Post there were 44 infected Americans. Within China, authorities reported 2,009 new cases on Sunday, noting that this was down from more than 2,600 the previous day. They said this showed their efforts to halt the spread of the virus were bearing fruit.

Read more …

Is anyone criminally responsible?

Scramble To Track Cambodia Cruise Ship Passengers After Virus Case Found (R.)

Holland America Line said it is working with governments and health experts to track passengers who disembarked from its Westerdam cruise ship docked in Cambodia after an American woman tested positive for coronavirus in Malaysia. The cruise line, which is owned by cruise giant Carnival Corp, said none of the other 1,454 passengers and 802 crew have reported any symptoms. “Guests who have already returned home will be contacted by their local health department and be provided further information,” a statement from the company said. Passengers had been cleared to travel by Cambodian authorities after health checks when the cruise ship docked on Thursday. It had spent two weeks at sea after being turned away by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand.


But on Saturday, Malaysia said an American woman who arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Friday on a chartered flight had tested positive for the new coronavirus that has killed more than 1,700 people, the vast majority in China. The woman’s husband tested negative for the coronavirus. About 137 of the 145 passengers on the chartered flight had already left for other countries as of Sunday after showing no signs of illness, Malaysian authorities said. Dozens more of the Westerdam passengers had flown through Thailand and onward to other countries, Thai officials said. At least 236 passengers and 747 crew remain aboard the vessel off the Cambodian port city of Sihanoukville, Holland America said. Others were in hotels in Phnom Penh, the capital.

Read more …

Did you know the Chinese see the world the same way Christian religions do? G-d appointed man the master of the world! Must be the dumbest facet of religion: man declares himself G-d.

‘Animals Live For Man’: China’s Appetite For Wildlife To Survive Virus (R.)

For the past two weeks China’s police have been raiding houses, restaurants and makeshift markets across the country, arresting nearly 700 people for breaking the temporary ban on catching, selling or eating wild animals. The scale of the crackdown, which has netted almost 40,000 animals including squirrels, weasels and boars, suggests that China’s taste for eating wildlife and using animal parts for medicinal purposes is not likely to disappear overnight, despite potential links to the new coronavirus. Traders legally selling donkey, dog, deer, crocodile and other meat told Reuters they plan to get back to business as soon as the markets reopen. “I’d like to sell once the ban is lifted,” said Gong Jian, who runs a wildlife store online and operates shops in China’s autonomous Inner Mongolia region.

“People like buying wildlife. They buy for themselves to eat or give as presents because it is very presentable and gives you face.” Gong said he was storing crocodile and deer meat in large freezers but would have to kill all the quails he had been breeding as supermarkets were no longer buying his eggs and they cannot be eaten after freezing. Scientists suspect, but have not proven, that the new coronavirus passed to humans from bats via pangolins, a small ant-eating mammal whose scales are highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine. [..] “In many people’s eyes, animals are living for man, not sharing the earth with man,” said Wang Song, a retired researcher of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


[..] Much of the farming and sale of wildlife takes place in rural or poorer regions under the blessing of local authorities who see trading as a boost for the local economy. State-backed television programs regularly show people farming animals, including rats, for commercial sale and their own consumption. However, activists pushing for a ban describe the licensed farms as a cover for illegal wildlife trafficking, where animals are specifically bred to be consumed as food or medicine rather than released into the wild.

Read more …

Brace for much more of this.

Armed Robbers Steal Hundreds Of Toilet Rolls In Hong Kong (BBC)

Armed robbers in Hong Kong made off with hundreds of toilet rolls worth more than HKD1,000 ($130). Toilet rolls are currently in short supply in Hong Kong due to shortages caused by panic-buying during the coronavirus outbreak. Knife wielding men robbed a delivery man outside a supermarket in the Mong Kok district, police said. Police have arrested two men and recovered some of the stolen loo rolls, local media reports said. The armed robbery took place in Mong Kok, a district of Hong Kong with a history of “triad” crime gangs, early on Monday.


According to local reports, the robbers had threatened a delivery worker who had unloaded rolls of toilet paper outside Wellcome Supermarket. An Apple Daily report said that 600 toilet paper rolls, valued at around HKD1,695 ($218), had been stolen. Stores across the city have seen supplies massively depleted with long queues when new stock arrives. Despite government assurances that supplies remain unaffected by the virus outbreak, residents have been stocking up on toilet paper. Other household products have also seen panic-buying including rice, pasta and cleaning items.

Read more …

“What’s happening here with Barr, I think people need to understand that he’s cleaning up the mess from not only the Obama administration, but also the mess that was left with the whole Russia-gate fiasco…”

Devin Nunes Says Trump ‘Has To Tweet’ To Combat ‘Hard Left’ Media (Fox)

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., fired back at Democrats who criticized Attorney General William Barr for his role in former Trump associate Roger Stone’s sentencing and defended the president’s use of Twitter after he used the platform to comment about the ongoing criminal case. “What’s happening here with Barr, I think people need to understand that he’s cleaning up the mess from not only the Obama administration, but also the mess that was left with the whole Russia-gate fiasco,” Nunes told “Fox & Friends Weekend,” saying taxpayers paid tens of millions of dollars to fund then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team “that went chasing and trying to put us into a status of a permanent coup against the president of the United States.”

Nunes’ comments came days after Barr himself publicly swiped at Trump, declaring Thursday that the president’s tweets about Justice Department prosecutors and open cases “make it impossible for me to do my job.” [..] “I think what the attorney general said was very clear, that the president should be careful making comments about criminal investigations. One should not see that as anything other than but what it is,” Nunez said, adding that Barr “didn’t say to stop tweeting, because the fact of the matter is, with 90 percent of the media being hard left and really just working for the Democratic Party, the president has to be able to tweet.”


Earlier in the week, Trump applauded Barr on Twitter for the decision to reverse the sentencing recommendation, writing: “Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought.” “He’s built a powerful tool reaching millions of Americans, millions of people around the globe,” Nunes added, “so the president has to tweet. At the same time, the attorney general has to be able to do his job.” He also said, “It’s understandable that the president can be frustrated,” and called Stone’s dramatic early-morning arrest by federal agents in January 2019 “ridiculous.”

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It’s ilke the interagency debate in the House testimonies. The civil servants think they have the right to set policy. And don’t you dare question that. But wasn’t it perhaps high time someone did?

1,100 Former DOJ Employees Call On Barr To Resign (NPR)

More than 1,100 former Department of Justice officials are calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign after his department lowered the prison sentence recommendation for Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Trump, in a move that’s led to accusations of political interference. In a letter released Sunday, the former DOJ officials, who have worked across Republican and Democratic administrations, wrote that Barr’s intervention in the Stone case has tarnished the department’s reputation. “Such behavior is a grave threat to the fair administration of justice,” the former officials wrote.

“In this nation, we are all equal before the law. A person should not be given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the President. Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies.” On Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington had recommended a prison sentence of up to nine years for Stone’s 2019 conviction on charges including making false statements to Congress and witness tampering. On Twitter, Trump said the sentencing recommendation amounted to “a horrible and very unfair situation.” But then on Tuesday, the Justice Department intervened, ordering a new sentencing memo and calling for lighter punishment. A senior DOJ official told NPR that officials were “shocked” at the original recommendation.


[..] To Julie Zebrak, who’s among the former DOJ officials who signed the letter, Barr’s behavior shatters a cardinal norm that has been in place for decades: that the Justice Department’s prosecutorial decisions should not be influenced by the White House. Zebrak told NPR that Barr’s move “sent shockwaves through the former DOJ alumni.” She added: “We are all watching in a really rapid and terrifying way the undermining of the department and the diminishment of the rule of law. We have to sort of speak up and speak out when we can.”

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“Clean cars” require cutting forests. This is where the environmental movement meets its Armageddon; there’s just not enough knowledge, they’ll believe anything that sounds good.

German Court Halts Work On New Tesla ‘Gigafactory’ (BBC)

Tesla has been ordered to temporarily halt preparations for a car factory in Germany after environmentalists won a court injunction on Sunday. The electric carmaker had been clearing forest land near the capital, Berlin, ahead of building its first European car and battery plant. The court emphasised the injunction was temporary and subject to further hearings, probably this week. Protesters say the factory is a threat to local wildlife and water supplies. To much fanfare, Tesla’s boss Elon Musk announced plans last November to build a European facility known as a “gigafactory” in Grünheide, in the eastern state of Brandenburg.


But the factory has become a flashpoint between environmentalists and Germany’s pro-business Christian Democrat and Free Democrat parties, who fear the issue could damage the country’s image as a place to do business. The dispute highlights the risks for the US carmaker, which has not been officially granted permission to build the factory. Tesla was, however, granted permission by Germany’s environment ministry to begin site preparations “at its own risk”. This has involved clearing about 91 hectares (225 acres) of forest and the felling of thousands of trees – something that outraged an alliance of environmentalists called the Green League. In a statement on Sunday, the court representing the Berlin and Brandenburg region cautioned: “It should not be assumed that the motion seeking legal protection brought by the Green League lacks any chance of succeeding.”

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If the goverment can let its journalists rot in Belmarsh, this shouldn’t be a surprise. How loud has ABC been in its defense of Assannge?

Australia Broadcaster Loses Newsroom Raid Case (BBC)

Australia’s national broadcaster has lost its legal challenge to controversial police raids on its Sydney newsroom last year. In June, police searched the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the home of a newspaper journalist over articles which relied on leaks from government whistleblowers. The raids sparked public outrage and protests across the nation’s media. However, the Federal Court of Australia has ruled the searches were legal. ABC’s managing director David Anderson said the decision was “disappointing”. He said the raids had been a high-profile “attempt to intimidate journalists for doing their job”. Australian Federal Police alleged the stories and reporters at the centre of its searches had breached national security laws.


In the raid last year, they seized thousands of documents over a 2017 ABC investigation which alleged Australian armed forces had committed war crimes in Afghanistan. Police also raided the home of News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst. In 2018, she had reported an alleged attempt by a government agency to spy on Australian citizens. Australia’s conservative government tightened its security laws in 2018 to make it a criminal offence for journalists to receive classified information from military or intelligence sources. Canberra has previously said it backs press freedom but that “no one was above the law”.

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Never voluntarily.

Breakdown or Breakthrough? Degrowth and the Great Transition (NC)

When mainstream approaches to sustainability fail to challenge economic growth they provide limited, sometimes even false solutions to today’s crises. Technological and political interventions that reduce environmental impacts and enhance overall efficiency – though contributing to sustainability in a narrow sense – end up adding to global inequality and ecological overshoot, insofar as they accelerate growth. Growth is one of the chief drivers of social inequality and environmental degradation; it is also what sustains the global capitalist economy. Sustainability solutions that promote growth under the banner of “green growth” are the easiest to accept and implement, but they are the least able to address the roots of today’s crises.

Proponents of green growth believe that growth can be decoupled from environmental impacts, yet there is no empirical evidence that this is possible. Meanwhile, acting on such an unproven assumption obscures the real harm being done by sustaining extractive and exploitative capitalism. We have already surpassed the known limits to growth, so degrowth is our only option. Sustainability is an outcome of healthy metabolic relationships between an organism and its environment. When consumption depletes resources faster than their rate of regeneration – which is what we are currently doing – it is by definition unsustainable.

Although essential, today’s most progressive reforms, including the Green New Deal and the circular economy, will only be effective when combined with a more equitable distribution of resources and decreasing per capita consumption in advanced economies. For sustainability efforts to be effective, they must be part of a comprehensive degrowth agenda focused on systems change. Contrary to common misunderstandings, degrowth does not mean negative growth or imply sacrifices to one’s quality of life. Rather, it is focused on reducing a society’s material and energy throughput while actually enhancing quality of life. [..]


The next 30 years constitute what systems theorists call a ‘decision window.’ How societies decide to respond to mounting social and ecological pressures will determine whether the system evolves or collapses. Once the decision window ends and the global system passes the chaos point, the system irreversibly changes, and there are only two futures left – breakthrough or breakdown. There is no chance that a wildly optimistic techno-future can sustain growth beyond social and planetary boundaries. Civilization will either collapse or it will follow a path of managed descent and sustainable reorganization. The only breakthroughs remaining follow paths of degrowth.

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They’ll appeal. Check back in a decade.

US Peach Grower Awarded $265 Million From Bayer, BASF In Weedkiller Suit (R.)

A Missouri jury’s $265 million award to peach grower Bill Bader in his lawsuit against herbicide providers Bayer and BASF has raised the stakes for the two companies as at least 140 similar cases head to U.S. courts later this year. A jury in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, handed Bader, the state’s largest peach farmer, $15 million in actual and $250 million in punitive damages. He sued the companies saying his 1,000-acre orchard was irreparably harmed by herbicide that they produce, which drifted onto its trees from nearby farms. The three-week trial was the first case in the United States to rule on the use of dicamba-based herbicides alleged to have damaged tens of thousands of acres of U.S. cropland.

The herbicide can become a vapor and drift for miles when used in certain weather, farmers have claimed. Bayer said it was “disappointed with the jury’s verdict,” and plans to appeal. BASF also said it was “surprised and disappointed” by the decision and plans to appeal. Both companies said their dicamba-based herbicides are safe when used as directed. Bayer faces separate multi-billion-dollar litigation over the Roundup weedkiller made by Monsanto, the U.S. firm it took over for $63 billion in 2018. Monsanto made Roundup and dicamba, and Bayer is being sued over both products.


[..] Bayer and BASF face other dicamba lawsuits that could begin late his year before the same judge in Missouri, said attorney Billy Randles, whose firm represented Bader and also represents dozens of others with similar claims. “These are all the same” allegations, said Randles. “They claim negligent design, failure to warn and all allege a joint venture” between Bayer and BASF. The jury found the two equally liable for the damages.

Read more …

 

 

 

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Feb 092020
 


Dorothea Lange Play street for children. Sixth Street and Avenue C, NYC June 1936

 

Authorities Order Foxconn To Keep Chinese Facilities Closed (AI)
China To Stagger Back To Work As Coronavirus Deaths Surpass SARS (R.)
In-Hospital Infection Blamed In Wuhan Hospital (NHK)
Coronavirus Outbreak Has Affected 4 Different Cruise Ships (H.)
Still No Port For Cruise Ship Westerdam (NHK)
Five Britons Contract Coronavirus In French Ski Resort (R.)
Coronavirus Brings China’s Surveillance State Out Of The Shadows (R.)
Coronavirus Threatens The Chinese Communist Party’s Grip On Power (SCMP)
Yesterday’s Gone: Iowa Was Waterloo for Democrats (Taibbi)
The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President (Atl.)
A Stock Market Boom Is Not The Basis Of Shared Prosperity (Palley)
Argentina Won’t Repay IMF Debt Till Recession Over – VP Kirchner (R.)

 

 

Late last night in my present timezone, CET, initial new coronavirus numbers came out and everyone said they meant the virus has now killed more people (805-806) than SARS. Everyone except for SCMP which cited a WHO number of 813 SARS deaths (they still haven’t figured that out after 17 years). And then, wouldn’t you know, when I got up in the morning, SCMP had revised their new deaths number to … exactly 813. If I weren’t born so wonderfully gullible I would ask myself something.

Global death toll for new coronavirus hits 805, exceeding that of SARS

The global death toll from the new coronavirus is now at 805, higher than that of SARS. Hubei province reported Sunday morning that there were 81 additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in the mainland to 803 so far. The global death toll for the new coronavirus currently stands at 805, including one death in the Philippines and another in Hong Kong. That compares to the SARS outbreak which killed at least 774 people and infected 8,096 people worldwide in 2002 and 2003, according to data from the World Health Organization.

NOTE: SARS deaths took 9 months. This epidemic is just 1-2 months old.

China’s Hubei reports 81 deaths, global total just short of WHO’s SARS figure

China’s Hubei province, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus epidemic, reported 81 new deaths from the disease on Saturday, bringing the province’s total fatalities from the outbreak to 780. Total deaths globally stood at 805, just short of the 813 total fatalities attributed to the deadly Sars epidemic of 2002-2003 by the World Health Organisation. The provincial health authorities also reported 2,147 newly confirmed cases of the disease in the past 24 hours. This brings the total cases in Hubei to 27,100. These figures compared to the reported deaths and newly confirmed cases of 81 and 2,841, respectively, on Friday.

 

 

• 813 deaths, up from 724 yesterday. 89 new deaths is a new record again.

• Confirmed new cases rose to 37,198, an increase of 2,652 overnight

• 3,916 suspected new cases, bringing the total to 28,942 suspected cases.

 

And this little map looks promising, but I do have questions about it:

 

 

Questions like: what are the effects of the ever wider and ever more stringent lockdowns on this? Do fewer people get infected if they’re all locked up in their homes? Or are infected people also harder to find when they’re behind closed doors? Would families volunteer to deliver potentially infected family members to authorities, or would they wait until they’re as good as dead?

I found this interesting as well: “Wuhan has 49 crematoriums, which can each burn 5 bodies every two hours. They’ve been working 24 hours a day for 17 days now. 49 x 17 x 24 x 5/2 = 49,980 bodies.”

 

Still, as I said yesterday, it’s really all about Monday morning, when the economy is supposed to start “working” again. On Friday, Tesla said its Shanghai plant would re-open tomorrow morning. But then today, the government ordered Foxconn’s Shenzhen factories to remain closed. Will Tesla really open?

As I also said somewhere yesterday, “restarting” the economy where 100s of millions are under some form of lockdown now, means shoving all those millions into planes, trains and subways to bring them to plants where they spend 8-10-12 hours in close proximity to potential virus carriers. Thousands more petri dishes.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

 

 

Well, that’s my question: “No-one wants to bear the responsibility for restarting work at this critical moment.”

Authorities Order Foxconn To Keep Chinese Facilities Closed (AI)

As authorities attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus in China, Foxconn did its part to help on Friday by telling staff not to return to work on February 10, following the Lunar New Year. Rather than resuming operations on the originally anticipated return date, the assembly partner told its tens of thousands of employees to stay away from the Shenzhen plant. A report by Nikkei claims the calling off of production has been further halted by the Chinese authorities, who have told Foxconn not to reopen. People familiar with the matter advised the factory was subject to on-site inspections by public health officials, which found there were “high risks of coronavirus infection” if it did reopen.

One internal memo about the inspection and government-ordered closure mentioned “Violation of epidemic prevention and control could potentially face the death penalty.” Part of the problem is the production facilities use central air condition and have a high density of workers, conditions ripe for viral transference. “The local governments do not want to risk the potential virus spreading in such a labor-intensive working environment,” a source told the report. “No-one wants to bear the responsibility for restarting work at this critical moment.” On Friday, Foxconn took the extra step of canceling flight bookings for employees from Taiwan returning from their home country to China between February 7 and February 14.


The measure was allegedly announced by Chairman Young Liu in a video conference that morning, who also confirmed the company’s Zhengzhou complex would need to be evaluated by the local government before it could be reopened. Foxconn has previously confirmed the coronavirus will affect production, and it is allegedly affecting Apple’s AirPods along with other products it makes, such as iPhones.

Read more …

What will stocks do?

China To Stagger Back To Work As Coronavirus Deaths Surpass SARS (R.)

China raised the death toll from the coronavirus epidemic to 811 on Sunday, passing the number killed globally by the SARS epidemic in 2002/2003 and raising anxiety among people preparing to return to work after an extended Lunar New Year break. Struggling to contain the spread of the disease, authorities had told businesses to tack up to 10 extra days onto holidays that had been due to finish at the end of January as the rising numbers of dead and infected cast a pall over the country. Many of China’s usually teeming cities have almost become ghost towns during the past two weeks, as the Communist Party rulers ordered virtual lockdowns, cancelled flights, closed factories and kept schools shut.


The sight of an economy regarded as a workshop to the world laid so low has also taken a toll on international financial markets, as shares slumped and investors switched into safe-havens like gold, bonds and the Japanese yen. Even on Monday, a large number of workplaces will remain closed and many white-collar workers will continue to work from home. The new deaths on Saturday reached another daily record at 89, data from the National Health Commission showed, pushing the total well over the 774 who died from SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

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“..around 40 percent of the patients with the new coronavirus they have treated may have contracted the illness at their hospital.”

In-Hospital Infection Blamed In Wuhan Hospital (NHK)

A team of medical professionals at a hospital in Wuhan says that around 40 percent of the patients with the new coronavirus they have treated may have contracted the illness at their hospital. The team works at a Wuhan University hospital in the Chinese city at the heart of the outbreak. They published their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Friday. The study says 138 cases were confirmed at the hospital between January 1 and 28. Of those, 41 percent, or 57 people, were medical staff or patients who were initially hospitalized for other reasons.


The study found that one patient in the surgical department may have infected more than 10 members of hospital staff. It says that while patients had symptoms such as high fever and sense of fatigue, researchers revealed that 10 percent either had atypical symptoms such as diarrhea, or complained of nausea. It concludes that it was difficult to screen patients with symptoms not previously associated with the virus. The team says that an important feature of the new coronavirus is the rapid human-to-human transmission among people in close contact.

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I think the ship off Hong Kong was freed today. The Yokohama one with 61 infected won’t be so lucky.

Coronavirus Outbreak Has Affected 4 Different Cruise Ships (H.)

Cruises are, for the most part, meant to elicit feelings of relaxation—literally floating away from your landlocked responsibilities for a few days. But, for thousands of passengers aboard at least four different cruise ships, their vacations quickly turned into nightmare scenarios. As of Friday, four major vessels—the Diamond Princess, Westerdam, World Dream, and Royal Caribbean’s The Anthem of the Seas cruise ships—have been impacted by the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), aka the Wuhan coronavirus. Most affected by the outbreak is the Diamond Princess cruise ship, currently quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, near Tokyo.

The ship was docked Tuesday after a former passenger tested positive for the coronavirus. Since then, 61 passengers of the 3,700 people on board have tested positive for the virus, reports CNN. The ship’s quarantine is expected to last until at least February 19. The two other ships—the Westerdam, currently in search of a port in the East China Sea; and the World Dream, docked in Hong Kong—have also come to a halt due to fears of coronavirus, per CNN. No current or former passengers on the Westerdam have been reported as having the coronavirus, nor have any current passengers on the World Dream, though eight former passengers of the cruise ship have been confirmed as having the illness.


And most recently, on Friday, the Royal Caribbean’s The Anthem of the Seas was docked near New York City, at a port in Bayonne, New Jersey, where 27 passengers were screened for the coronavirus, according to CNN. Four of those passengers were sent to the hospital for further investigation, while the other 23 were cleared. In a statement, per CNN, Royal Caribbean confirmed that, like airlines, they too are working to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. “We continue to work in close consultation with the CDC, the WHO, and local health authorities to align with their guidance and ensure the health and wellbeing of our guests and crew.”

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Sailed on Feb 1. Now it’s like the original Flying Dutchman ship.

Still No Port For Cruise Ship Westerdam (NHK)

The operator of the cruise ship Westerdam is searching for a port to call at after being rejected by destinations including Japan amid fears of the spreading coronavirus. The US-based Holland America Line said in a statement on Friday that the ship is “currently sailing on a southwesterly course off the coast of Taiwan.” The firm says it is positioning the ship “for access to potential port locations.” The Westerdam departed Hong Kong on February 1 with more than 2,200 passengers and crew onboard. Taiwan denied it permission to call, citing a suspicion of coronavirus infection among the passengers. Japanese authorities followed suit, preventing it from entering a port in the southwestern prefecture of Okinawa. Holland America Line said in the statement that “The ship is not in quarantine” and there is “no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus on board.” It added the ship has sufficient fuel and food, and passengers are provided with free internet and phone access.

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Is this the first cluster than doesn’t involve Chinese people? Note that the original infection came from Singapore, not China.

Five Britons Contract Coronavirus In French Ski Resort (R.)

Five British nationals including a child have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus at a French mountain village, and health officials said they were checking who else might have been exposed, including at local schools. In total, 11 people, including the five who tested positive, have been hospitalized in southeastern France and were being examined, the French health ministry said on Saturday, adding that none were in serious condition. The group of Britons included holidaymakers and a family currently residing in the Alpine village and ski resort, Les Contamines-Montjoie. They shared neighboring apartments in a chalet and temporarily hosted a British man believed to have contracted the virus at a business congress in Singapore before his short visit to France in late January, the ministry added.


Two schools would be shut next week for checks, regional health official Jean-Yves Grall said, after it emerged that the nine-year-old who tested positive had attended lessons and French classes in different establishments. Two other children were also part of the group of 11 now in hospital in the cities of Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble, and they had been schooled in the area too, according to Etienne Jacquet, mayor of Les Contamines-Montjoie. Some parents in the village, nestled in the mountains close to the Mont Blanc peak and the Swiss city of Geneva, said on Saturday they had received little information so far and were being cautious.

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Thermal cameras, cameras that see through face-masks, a good crisis to step up state control.

Coronavirus Brings China’s Surveillance State Out Of The Shadows (R.)

When the man from Hangzhou returned home from a business trip, the local police got in touch. They had tracked his car by his license plate in nearby Wenzhou, which has had a spate of coronavirus cases despite being far from the epicenter of the outbreak. Stay indoors for two weeks, they requested. After around 12 days, he was bored and went out early. This time, not only did the police contact him, so did his boss. He had been spotted near Hangzhou’s West Lake by a camera with facial recognition technology, and the authorities had alerted his company as a warning.

“I was a bit shocked by the ability and efficiency of the mass surveillance network. They can basically trace our movements with the AI technology and big data at any time and any place,” said the man, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions. Chinese have long been aware that they are tracked by the world’s most sophisticated system of electronic surveillance. The coronavirus emergency has brought some of that technology out of the shadows, providing the authorities with a justification for sweeping methods of high tech social control. Artificial intelligence and security camera companies boast that their systems can scan the streets for people with even low-grade fevers, recognize their faces even if they are wearing masks and report them to the authorities.

If a coronavirus patient boards a train, the railway’s “real name” system can provide a list of people sitting nearby. Mobile phone apps can tell users if they have been on a flight or a train with a known coronavirus carrier, and maps can show them locations of buildings where infected patients live. Although there has been some anonymous grumbling on social media, for now Chinese citizens seem to be accepting the extra intrusion, or even embracing it, as a means to combat the health emergency. “In the circumstances, individuals are likely to consider this to be reasonable even if they are not specifically informed about it,” said Carolyn Bigg, partner at law firm DLA Piper in Hong Kong.

[..] Facial recognition firm Megvii said on Tuesday it had developed a new way to spot and identify people with fevers, with support from the industry and science ministries. Its new “AI temperature measurement system”, which detects temperature with thermal cameras and uses body and facial data to identify individuals, is already being tested in a Beijing district. SenseTime, another leading AI firm, said it has built a similar system to be used at building entrances, which can identify people wearing masks, overcoming a weakness of earlier technology. Surveillance camera firm Zhejiang Dahua says it can detect fevers with infrared cameras to an accuracy within 0.3ºC.

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Wishful thinking?

Coronavirus Threatens The Chinese Communist Party’s Grip On Power (SCMP)

China missed the best opportunity to contain the spread of the virus because officials at first delayed – or possibly covered up – the release of information and were slow in taking precautionary actions. The first patient who experienced symptoms was found on December 1, 2019, suggesting the origin of the disease was even earlier. And there has been some evidence of human-to-human transmissions since late December, with more emerging in early January when several medical workers were infected. These vital bits of information were not released to the public in time. Nor was any decisive action taken between early December and January 23, the day Beijing told the world about the severity of the epidemic and declared war on it just two days before the Lunar New Year on January 25.

Lives continued as normal in Wuhan in the week before then. On January 18, the Wuhan government hosted a banquet attended by more than 40,000 families in a bid to set a Guinness world record. On January 20, the municipal government said it was distributing 200,000 free tickets to residents for festive new year activities. Videos show few people wearing face masks in Wuhan before mid-January. Compare that to Hong Kong, where since early January the government has been updating people on the situation daily and holding frequent news briefings.


In terms of human-to-human transmissions, the alarm wasn’t raised until the prominent epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan spoke out on January 20 – nearly 50 days after the first patient was found and three weeks after it was established that human-to-human infections were taking place. Instead of acting against the virus, the government focused on controlling the information. In an effort to underscore the CCP’s determination to crack down on unsanctioned information, the broadcaster CCTV reported on January 2 that Wuhan police had interrogated and warned eight whistle-blowers, frontline doctors, for “rumourmongering” about the epidemic. It seemed all too familiar to 2003, when military doctor Jiang Yanyong defied government rules and risked his own life to break the news about the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) to the international media.

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“Perhaps all the Democrats need to win the presidency is a Rust Belt millennial who’s gay and speaks Norwegian.”

Yesterday’s Gone: Iowa Was Waterloo for Democrats (Taibbi)

Democratic campaign events have long been more pep rally than discussion, more about the terribleness of Republicans than substance. “They’re so used to events where everyone is rooting for them,” says Redd. “It’s like, ‘No, we’re actually here to challenge you on issues that matter.’” Biden performed surprisingly well all year in polls, but he headed into Iowa like a passenger jet trying to land with one burning engine, hitting trees, cows, cars, sides of mountains, everything. The poking incidents were bad, but then one of his chief surrogates, John Kerry, was overheard by NBC talking about the possibility of jumping in to keep Bernie from “taking down” the party.

“Maybe I’m fucking deluding myself here,” Kerry reportedly said — mainstream Democrats may not have changed their policies or strategies much since Trump, but they sure are swearing more — then noted he would have to raise a “couple of million” from people like venture capitalist Doug Hickey. Kerry later said he was enumerating the reasons he wouldn’t run, though those notably did not include humility about his own reputation as a comical national electoral failure, or because there’s already a candidate in the race (Biden) he’d been crisscrossing Iowa urging people to vote for, but instead because he’d have to step down from the board of Bank of America and give up paid speeches. French aristocrats who shouted “Vive le Roi!” on the way to the razor did a better job advertising themselves.

With days, hours left before the caucuses, there were signs everywhere that the party establishment was scrambling to find someone among the remaining cast members to stop what Kerry called the “reality of Bernie.” But who? Yang said smart things about inequality, so he was out. Tulsi Gabbard was Russian Bernie spawn. Tom Steyer was Dennis Kucinich with money. Voters had already rejected potential Trump WWE opponents like the “progressive prosecutor” (Kamala Harris), the “pragmatic progressive” (John Delaney), “the next Bobby Kennedy” (Beto O’Rourke), “Courageous Empathy” (Cory Booker), Medicare for All can bite me (John Hickenlooper), and over a dozen others.

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg seemed perfect, a man who defended the principle of wine-based fundraisers with military effrontery. New York magazine made his case in a cover story the magazine’s Twitter account summarized as: “Perhaps all the Democrats need to win the presidency is a Rust Belt millennial who’s gay and speaks Norwegian.”

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The Trump people meddle in conspiracy theories. The “others” don’t. This is how and why you will lose the election.

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President (Atl.)

One day last fall, I sat down to create a new Facebook account. I picked a forgettable name, snapped a profile pic with my face obscured, and clicked “Like” on the official pages of Donald Trump and his reelection campaign. Facebook’s algorithm prodded me to follow Ann Coulter, Fox Business, and a variety of fan pages with names like “In Trump We Trust.” I complied. I also gave my cellphone number to the Trump campaign, and joined a handful of private Facebook groups for MAGA diehards, one of which required an application that seemed designed to screen out interlopers. The president’s reelection campaign was then in the midst of a multimillion-dollar ad blitz aimed at shaping Americans’ understanding of the recently launched impeachment proceedings.

Thousands of micro-targeted ads had flooded the internet, portraying Trump as a heroic reformer cracking down on foreign corruption while Democrats plotted a coup. That this narrative bore little resemblance to reality seemed only to accelerate its spread. Right-wing websites amplified every claim. Pro-Trump forums teemed with conspiracy theories. An alternate information ecosystem was taking shape around the biggest news story in the country, and I wanted to see it from the inside. The story that unfurled in my Facebook feed over the next several weeks was, at times, disorienting. There were days when I would watch, live on TV, an impeachment hearing filled with damning testimony about the president’s conduct, only to look at my phone later and find a slickly edited video—served up by the Trump campaign—that used out-of-context clips to recast the same testimony as an exoneration. Wait, I caught myself wondering more than once, is that what happened today?

[..] Every presidential campaign sees its share of spin and misdirection, but this year’s contest promises to be different. In conversations with political strategists and other experts, a dystopian picture of the general election comes into view—one shaped by coordinated bot attacks, Potemkin local-news sites, micro-targeted fearmongering, and anonymous mass texting. Both parties will have these tools at their disposal. But in the hands of a president who lies constantly, who traffics in conspiracy theories, and who readily manipulates the levers of government for his own gain, their potential to wreak havoc is enormous.

The Trump campaign is planning to spend more than $1 billion, and it will be aided by a vast coalition of partisan media, outside political groups, and enterprising freelance operatives. These pro-Trump forces are poised to wage what could be the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history. Whether or not it succeeds in reelecting the president, the wreckage it leaves behind could be irreparable.

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How you tie your impression of Trump as a con-man in with the topic is unclear. Today’s bubbles started with Greenspan and Bill Clinton, not Trump.

A Stock Market Boom Is Not The Basis Of Shared Prosperity (Palley)

The United States is currently enjoying another stock market boom. If history is any guide, it may well end in a bust. In the meantime, the boom is having a politically toxic effect. Donald Trump uses it to make the case for his reelection in the fall. But his argument, at a minimum, requires a big leap of faith. Trump’s assertion — that a stock market boom is the basis for shared prosperity — is just that, an assertion. It certainly hasn’t led to any broad-based prosperity. The beneficiaries are the happy few at the top of the U.S. economic pyramid. Anyone who ever read John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Great Crash 1929, his 1954 classic, has run across Galbraith’s idea of the “bezzle.” In addition to Ponzi schemes, Galbraith’s bezzle also captures the dynamic of speculative bubbles.

Those bubbles are a form of fraud we collectively inflict on ourselves. Investors buy in believing they will be able to sell at a higher price, and their purchases drive up prices and attract new investors who hope to jump on the price appreciation band wagon. The bubble continues until belief in ever higher prices is punctured, whereupon buyers evaporate and the bubble implodes. Once again, all feel richer along the way. Today’s stock market increasingly has the smell and feel of another bezzle. That smell is metaphorically rather perfectly reflected in President Trump who has all the integrity of a con man. Better yet, Trump’s business history, in addition to reliance on funding from suspect sources, is marked by serial bankruptcies.


Trump has also managed to use the presidential bully pulpit to cajole the U.S. Federal Reserve into further inflating asset prices by enjoining it to lower interest rates. In addition to directly impacting asset pricing, the Federal Reserve has given a green flag for speculative buying. In that process, it has strengthened beliefs that it stands ready to guarantee stock prices, via the so-called “Powell put.” That put is an amplification of the prior “Bernanke put,” which was in turn an amplification of the “Greenspan put” which launched the Federal Reserve’s commitment to stock prices. To be honest, it did not take much cajoling from Trump as the Federal Reserve has evidently learned little from the past 35 years of serial asset price bubbles.

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A lesson for Greece.

Argentina Won’t Repay IMF Debt Till Recession Over – VP Kirchner (R.)

Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said on Saturday that the government will not pay “even half a cent” of its debt back to the International Monetary Fund before the country has exited recession. “The first thing we have to do in order to be able to pay is to exit the recession,” Fernandez de Kirchner said at a presentation of her book “Sinceramente” (Sincerely) at Havana’s international book fair. “If there is a recession no-one will pay even half a cent and the way you exit recession is through a lot of state investment.” Argentina needs to restructure $100 billion in sovereign debt with creditors, including part of a $57 billion credit facility that the IMF extended the country in 2018.


Dealings with the IMF are key as Argentina hopes to avoid a default amid a currency crash, steep inflation and a contracting economy. An IMF technical mission is expected in Buenos Aires next week to discuss obligations owed to the fund. Fernandez de Kirchner said Argentina should get a “substantial haircut” on its IMF debt. A leftist and militant Peronist, she has traveled frequently to Communist-run Cuba over the past year to visit her daughter Florencia Kirchner who is undergoing medical treatment there.

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Just one of those timelines where Dean Koontz wrote a book about a Chinese super virus called Wuhan that escaped a secret lab.

 

 

 

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