Sep 282020
 


Dorothea Lange Abandoned cafe in Carey, Texas “Carey is fast becoming a ghost town of the Texas plains.” 1937

 

New York Times Mysteriously Obtains Trump Financial Records (RS)
New York Times Fails at Outlining President Trump’s Taxes Again (CT)
Project Veritas Uncovers ‘Ballot Harvesting Fraud’ In Minnesota (NYP)
Appellate Court Halts Wisconsin Ballot-Counting Extension (AP)
As Mueller Probe Fizzles, Anti-Trump Cabal Hatches New Collusion Tale (Smith)
COVID-19 Patients Who Get Enough Vitamin D Are 52% Less Likely To Die (DM)
New Covid Fines Of Up To £10,000 Come Into Force In England (G.)
Amy Coney Barrett: A New Feminist Icon (Pol.)
Federal Judge Gives Temporary Reprieve To TikTok (NBC)
Azerbaijan & Armenia Carry On Fighting Over Contested Nagorno-Karabakh (RT)

 

 

Will we ever find out who leaked Trump’s tax returns from Cyrus Vance’s offices? And does anyone still care that this is highly illegal?

 

 

 

 

 

 

ZeroHedge Nothing Illegal

Balding tax returns

 

 

The New York Times once upon a time had intelligent journalists with a lot of integrity working -hard- for it. Now they go an yet another fishing trip looking to catch something illegal, but they fail, and still try to dress it all up as something terrible. No pride, no integrity.

New York Times Mysteriously Obtains Trump Financial Records (RS)

The New York Times reports that it has obtained President Trump’s ‘tax information” going back “over two decades.” The leak is from New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., or one of his underlings. We know Vance has obtained all of the financial records Trump had on file with Deutsche Bank, his primary lender. We know Deutsche Bank complied with the subpoena. And, via the New York Times, we know that these records go back into the 1990s or, in the parlance of the day, “over two decades.” If the New York Times is correct, Trump’s finances being something of a hot mess is not a shocker. Trump has been on the edge of bankruptcy before and has employed mighty financial kung fu to stay solvent.

[..] From the tenor of the article, they think the revelation that Trump was getting a $72.9 million tax refund and only paying $750 in federal income taxes will be damaging. I really doubt that will be the case. There are things in this story that lead me to believe that either the people writing it are stupid or they think you are stupid. For instance: “In fact, those public filings offer a distorted picture of his financial state, since they simply report revenue, not profit. In 2018, for example, Mr. Trump announced in his disclosure that he had made at least $434.9 million. The tax records deliver a very different portrait of his bottom line: $47.4 million in losses.” These two things are not incompatible, and the fact that you declare earnings on a report that asks for earnings and not profit is not deceptive. The technical term is “compliance.”

By far, the most notable thing about this story is the willingness of the New York Times to engage in election interference by timing their release within 60 days of the election (that’s the standard, right? 60 days?). That and the role that seems to have been played by the Manhattan DA’s office in leaking records ostensibly demanded from Deutsche Bank as part of a criminal investigation to facilitate a political hit. The fact that a district attorney’s office is using such records as part of a political attack on the President within 60 days of an election is unprecedented (that’s the word, right? unprecedented?). The actions by Vance or his office virtually guarantee that any tax returns released to that office will find similar use as political ammunition.

There is a good chance that this story was intended to launch much closer to the election had the scope and extent of Hunter Biden’s financial shenanigans and the degree to which the ChiComs have their tentacles sunk into Sundown Joe not come to light…and will get even more light, I suspect, on Tuesday night. When the dust settles on this, I think the story is going to be “very rich guy with a fascination for high-risk business ventures pays lots of brilliant tax lawyers and accountants a crap-load of money to minimize and avoid (but not evade) income taxes and says he makes more money than he really does to golf partners.”

Read more …

Excellent question from sundance: “Now let’s figure out how DC politicians making $200k/yr are able to become multi-millionaires while holding office..”

New York Times Fails at Outlining President Trump’s Taxes Again (CT)

Once again the New York Times attempts to make an issue out of President Trump’s real estate holdings working as a tax shelter and reducing income taxes. In the article the Times completely obfuscates the way income taxes are strategically offset by depreciation, mortgage interest and the entire reason why real estate ownership is viewed as a business. John Carney writing for Breitbart gets it: […] So imagine our guy took out an $8 million mortgage at five percent, paying $2 million cash. Now he’s got to pay $400,000 in mortgage payments. He wants to make at least that much so he charges tenants an aggregate of $425,000, which after upkeep comes out to $410,000 of net income. (Remember, if the bank didn’t think he could make more in rent than the mortgage payment, it probably wouldn’t have lent him the money.)

“The interest payment on the loan–let’s call it $390,000–is deductible from his income, leaving him with $20,000 in net income. He gets to keep that and pay no taxes on it, however, because he still gets to apply the $370,000 depreciation charge. He tells the IRS he lost $350,000. Under our tax code, ordinary business expenses can be deducted in the year they are incurred. But when a business pays for a long-lasting item expected to produce income–like machinery, vehicles, or an apartment building–it is considered a capital investment. Instead of getting to write-off the cost all at once, the business is required to write it off over the course of decades. After the 1986 tax code, this was set at 27.5 years for residential real estate.” d

Anyone who has ever operated a business knows that offsetting income is one of the primary reasons to be self-employed. Additionally, the Times completely skips over the tens-of-millions in payroll taxes paid by the Trump organization and tens-of-millions in property and sales taxes paid by all of the various Trump properties. In the commercial real estate market it is common sense to offset income tax liabilities with a host of valid annual expenses, long-term capital depreciation and mortgage interest payments. With over 500 individual business entities within the Trump organization the ability to offset income in one asset with expenses in another is simply good accounting.

Additionally, President Trump donates his $400,000 government salary back to the U.S. government. So to accuse President Trump of only paying $750 in income taxes totally ignores all of the other donations and tax payments he makes. In practical terms no President before Trump has ever had his actual business portfolio so deeply connected to the success of the American economy. It doesn’t cost the American taxpayer a dime to have President Trump in office…. Now let’s figure out how DC politicians making $200k/yr are able to become multi-millionaires while holding office. Anyone?

Read more …

It’s getting serious. O’Keefe says they have been filming this for months.

Project Veritas Uncovers ‘Ballot Harvesting Fraud’ In Minnesota (NYP)

A ballot-harvesting racket in Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Minneapolis district — where paid workers illegally gather absentee ballots from elderly Somali immigrants — appears to have been busted by undercover news organization Project Veritas. One alleged ballot harvester, Liban Mohamed, the brother of Minneapolis city council member Jamal Osman, is shown in a bombshell Snapchat video rifling through piles of ballots strewn across his dashboard. “Just today we got 300 for Jamal Osman,” says Mohamed, aka KingLiban1, in the video. “I have 300 ballots in my car right now . . . “Numbers don’t lie. You can see my car is full. All these here are absentee ballots. . . . Look, all these are for Jamal Osman,” he says, displaying the white envelopes.

“Money is the king in this world . . . and a campaign is driven by money.” The video, posted on July 1, was obtained by Project Veritas and included in a 17-minute video expose released Sunday night. Under Minnesota law no individual can be the “designated agent” for more than three absentee voters. The allegations come just five weeks before a presidential election plagued with predictions of voter fraud. Both President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have warned that the increased use of mail-in ballots, due to COVID-19 concerns about in-person voting, are vulnerable to fraud, especially when unsolicited ballots are mailed to all voters in certain states.

Project Veritas’ investigation in Minneapolis will pour gasoline on the fire, only 48 hours before Trump debates Joe Biden in the first presidential debate Tuesday, addressing topics including election security. “Our investigation into this ballot harvesting ring demonstrates clearly how these unscrupulous operators exploit the elderly and immigrant communities” said James O’Keefe, founder and CEO of Project Veritas. The alleged involvement of Ilhan Omar, a controversial member of the Squad, and frequent Trump target, is claimed on camera by two people in Veritas’ investigation, including whistleblower Omar Jamal, a Minneapolis community leader and chair of the city’s Somali Watchdog Group.

Read more …

First of how many?

Appellate Court Halts Wisconsin Ballot-Counting Extension (AP)

A federal appeals court on Sunday temporarily halted a six-day extension for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin’s presidential election, a momentary victory for Republicans and President Donald Trump in the key presidential battleground state. As it stands, ballots will now be due by 8 p.m. on Election Day. A lower court judge had sided with Democrats and their allies to extend the deadline until Nov. 9. Democrats sought more time as a way to help deal with an expected historic high number of absentee ballots. The Democratic National Committee, the state Democratic Party and allied groups including the League of Women Voters sued to extend the deadline for counting absentee ballots after the April presidential primary saw long lines, fewer polling places, a shortage of workers and thousands of ballots mailed days after the election.


U.S. District Judge William Conley ruled Sept. 21 that ballots that arrive up to six days after Election Day will count as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day. Sunday’s action puts Conley’s order on hold until the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals or U.S. Supreme Court issues any further action. [..] State election officials anticipate as many as 2 million people will cast absentee ballots to avoid catching the coronavirus at the polls. That would be three times more absentee ballots than any other previous election and could overwhelm both election officials and the postal service, Conley wrote. If the decision had stood it could have delayed knowing the winner of Wisconsin for days. The Republican National Committee, the state GOP and Wisconsin’s Republican legislators argued that current absentee voting rules be left in place, saying people have plenty of time to obtain and return their ballots.

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Second installment of a two-part excerpt from Lee Smith’s book “The Permanent Coup: How Enemies Foreign and Domestic Targeted the American President”.

“According to the story the CIA officer and his colleagues would tell, Trump was again in league with a foreign power to defeat a rival candidate. They rotated Ukraine in for Russia and Biden for Clinton.”

As Mueller Probe Fizzles, Anti-Trump Cabal Hatches New Collusion Tale (Smith)

Just two days after the curtain dropped on the Mueller investigation, Ciaramella was rebooting the collusion narrative. According to the story the CIA officer and his colleagues would tell, Trump was again in league with a foreign power to defeat a rival candidate. They rotated Ukraine in for Russia and Biden for Clinton. The operation’s personnel drew from the same sources as the Russia collusion operation — serving officials from powerful government bureaucracies, the CIA, Pentagon, and State Department, as well as elected officials, political operatives, and the press. Therefore, the process was also the same: The actors would work the operation through the intelligence bureaucracy and the media to start an official proceeding, in this case an impeachment process. The play was set to begin.

Ciaramella first expressed his concern to a CIA lawyer. Frustrated that his action wasn’t moving quickly enough, he turned to the intelligence community inspector general responsible for oversight of all 17 of the nation’s agencies. On August 12, he filed a whistleblower’s report with ICIG Michael Atkinson. It was a version of the dossier, allegations based on second- and thirdhand sources. Steele said that his information came from anonymous Russians; Ciaramella claimed his came from unnamed Americans. “In the course of my official duties,” wrote Ciaramella, “I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. elections.”

He even replicated a key feature from Steele’s memos that helped the FBI obtain the FISA warrant. The dossier alleged that the Trump campaign had agreed to two Ukraine-related quid pro quos. One, in exchange for the hack and release of DNC emails, the Trump team would sideline Ukraine as campaign issue. Two, in exchange for dropping Ukraine-related sanctions on Russia, a Putin ally promised Trump advisers energy deals. Ciaramella also alleged a Ukraine-related quid pro quo. His August 12 report added a detail missing from the July 26 memo. He claimed in his document he’d learned earlier in July that Trump had “issued instructions to suspend all security assistance to Ukraine.” With this, the CIA official had planted the seed that would grow into the basis of the impeachment charges brought against Trump:

The president had withheld foreign aid in exchange for something that would benefit him personally — an investigation of his political rival. Ciaramella and his confederates had simply taken the boastful blunder Biden made in front of the Manhattan audience and hung it on Trump. Now he was the one using U.S. aid to secure a favor from a Ukrainian president. It was an audacious move, but the Ciaramella dossier was also a defensive maneuver. “It was born out of desperation,” says one of his former colleagues. “He wasn’t just trying to protect Biden,” says the source, a former senior Obama administration intelligence official. [..] When he finds out Trump may get the Burisma investigation restarted, he’s worried for himself, too.”

Read more …

And 54 percent less likely to catch coronavirus in the first place. And if you do anyway, zinc hinders virus (RNA) replication in your cells. Two simple and cheap ways to protect yourselves and your loved ones.

COVID-19 Patients Who Get Enough Vitamin D Are 52% Less Likely To Die (DM)

People who get enough vitamin D are at a 52 percent lower risk of dying of COVID-19 than people who are deficient for the ‘sunshine vitamin,’ new research reveals. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the immune system and may combat inflammation. These features may make it a key player in the body’s fight against coronavirus. Rates of vitamin D deficiency are also higher in some of the same groups who have been hardest hit by coronavirus: people of color and elderly people. It’s by no means a causal link, but suggests that vitamin D could play a role in who gets COVI-19, who gets sickest from it, and who is spared altogether.

Boston University’s Dr Michael Holick found in his previous research that people who have enough vitamin D are 54 percent less likely to catch coronavirus in the first place. Following on that work, he and his team have found that people who don’t get enough of the vitamin are far more likely to become severely ill, develop sepsis or even die after contracting coronavirus. Because vitamin D deficiency is common in people with other disease that raise coronavirus risks, it’s impossible to say exactly how many lives would be spared if we all got our daily dose of the sunshine vitamin. But we know that about 42 percent of the US population is vitamin D deficient. If that rate held true for the more 203,000 Americans who died of coronavirus, perhaps some 85,000 would have fared better with improved vitamin D levels.

In Britain 20 per cent of the population suffer from the deficiency, according to the British Nutrition Foundation. When the rate is applied to the UK’s 41,936 deaths from coronavirus, it suggests 8,387 of them could have been helped with improved levels of Vitamin D. ‘This study provides direct evidence that vitamin D sufficiency can reduce the complications, including the cytokine storm (release of too many proteins into the blood too quickly) and ultimately death from COVID-19,’ Dr Holick said. Dr Holick and his colleagues took blood samples from 235 patients admitted to hospitals in Tehran for COVID-19. Overall, 67 percent of the patients had vitamin D levels below 30 ng/mL.

There isn’t a clear marker for the ideal level of vitamin D, but 30 ng/mL is considered a sufficient. Anything below that is ‘insufficient,’ but won’t necessarily have broad-ranging health consequences, while levels below 20 ng/mL are considered ‘deficient.’ About 60 percent of elderly people living in nursing homes, for example, are thought to be vitamin D deficient. The most likely explanation is that they simply spend too much time indoors. Sunlight is our primary source of vitamin D. When we are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in rays of sunshine, it reacts with cholesterol in our skin, triggering the production of vitamin D. In an increasingly indoor world, rates of vitamin D deficiency have climbed.

Read more …

Behind a paywall, the Times reports pub curfew does not apply to bars in Parliament. Way to go.

New Covid Fines Of Up To £10,000 Come Into Force In England (G.)

A new, more robust chapter in English coronavirus regulations begins on Monday, with fines of up to £10,000 for people who refuse to self-isolate when asked, and enforcement including tip-offs from people who believe that others are breaching the rules. The changes come with the duty to self-isolate moving into law. It becomes a legal obligation if someone is told to do so by test-and-trace staff, but not for those simply using the Covid-19 phone app, which is anonymous. At the same time, the government is introducing a new system of payments of £500 for people on lower incomes who are unable to work because of the mandatory 14-day self-isolation, a system being implemented by councils.

The two-pronged approach, intended to create better compliance with self-isolation rules, was described by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, as “imperative” in helping keep down coronavirus infection rates. According to a health department statement setting out the new system, local authorities are expected to have their test-and-trace support schemes up and running within two weeks, with those self-isolating before then given backdated payments as needed. However, the Local Government Association, which represents councils, has warned it will be “challenging” for these to be set up at speed, adding that “urgent clarity is needed about how councils will be reimbursed for costs of setting up these schemes and the payments themselves”.

To be eligible for the payment, people must have been told to self-isolate by test and trace – having tested positive for coronavirus or being in close contact with someone who has – as well as having lost income as a result, and be recipients of one or more of a series of benefits, including universal credit, income support and housing benefit. Those who do not self-isolate when told to could face fines, which start at £1,000 and rise to £10,000 for repeat offences, or those who instigate breaches of the law, such as an employer who orders or permits people to come to work when they should not. Test-and-trace call handlers will check on those told to self-isolate, with police taking a role in areas or groups seen as high risk, as well as acting on tip-offs from neighbours or others who spot suspected breaches, the government announcement said.

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We need tolerance of people who do not think exactly like we do.

Amy Coney Barrett: A New Feminist Icon (Pol.)

Amy Coney Barrett has been praised for her topflight legal mind, even by those who disagree with her. At 48 years old, she is poised to help shape the court for a generation or more. But that’s not all her elevation to the high court has the potential to accomplish. Barrett’s expected confirmation should serve as a catalyst for rethinking the most powerful social movement in the last half century: feminism. Over the last week, as Justice Ginsburg’s body laid in repose outside the Supreme Court, the nation has rightly celebrated Ginsburg’s trailblazing 1970s legal advocacy, one which pushed both law and culture to reexamine the ways in which women had been pigeonholed as caregivers and men as providers. The late justice’s antidiscrimination wins opened up a new era in which both men and women could respectably and responsibly engage in both avenues of fulfillment, according to their personal talents and circumstances.

But Ginsburg also viewed abortion rights as central to sexual equality, and her leadership helped give rise to a movement that remains laser focused on abortion to this day. Yet rather than make women more equal to men, constitutionalizing the right to abortion as the court did in Roe has relieved men of the mutual responsibilities that accompany sex, and so has upended the duties of care for dependent children that fathers ought equally to share. Barrett embodies a new kind of feminism, a feminism that builds upon the praiseworthy antidiscrimination work of Ginsburg but then goes further. It insists not just on the equal rights of men and women, but also on their common responsibilities, particularly in the realm of family life. In this new feminism, sexual equality is found not in imitating men’s capacity to walk away from an unexpected pregnancy through abortion, but rather in asking men to meet women at a high standard of mutual responsibility, reciprocity and care.

At Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearing in 2017, Sen. Dianne Feinstein tellingly remarked, “You are controversial because many of us that have lived lives as women really recognize the value of finally being able to control our reproductive systems, and Roe entered into that, obviously.” Barrett’s life story puzzles older feminists like Feinstein because bearing and raising a bevy of children has long implied retaining a traditional life script — like staying home with the children — that Barrett has obviously not heeded. To be sure, few mothers of seven could become federal judges, never mind Supreme Court justices. Barrett – “generationally brilliant,” according to her Notre Dame colleague, O. Carter Snead — is likely alone in this set.

It all seems so unlikely: She has risen to the pinnacle of her profession while at once being “radically hospitable” to children, as Snead has described her. An enigma to many, she doesn’t easily fit into any ideological box. If we’re really intent as a country on seeing women flourish in their professions and serve in greater numbers of leadership positions too, it would be worthwhile to interrupt the abortion rights sloganeering for a beat and ask just how this mother of many has achieved so much.

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Much ado about an app. China’s worried about the source code.

Federal Judge Gives Temporary Reprieve To TikTok (NBC)

A federal judge granted a temporary reprieve Sunday to TikTok, the short-form video app that was facing a Trump administration-imposed midnight deadline that would have prevented users from downloading it. The order from U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols of Washington, D.C., allows U.S. app stores to continue offering downloads. Nichols did not rule on a second, more comprehensive ban that would halt U.S. companies from working with TikTok. In a statement, TikTok said that it was pleased with the ruling and that it “will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees.”


“At the same time, we will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the president gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement,” it said. TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, struck a deal with Oracle this month to move the company’s headquarters to the United States. The software giant would oversee its operations. Walmart is also involved in the deal. TikTok has been under scrutiny from the Trump administration for nearly a year over concerns that the Chinese government could gain access to American users’ data. President Donald Trump said in July that he would ban the app. Trump said this month that he had given his “blessing” to the deal and that he had approved it in concept.

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This is real war. Stop it.

Azerbaijan & Armenia Carry On Fighting Over Contested Nagorno-Karabakh (RT)

Intense hostilities between Armenian and Azeri forces continued overnight along the border of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Both sides claimed local victories and reported inflicting heavy casualties on one another. Azerbaijan and Armenia, two historical rivals, kept on fighting throughout Sunday night and Monday morning despite mounting calls from international leaders to hold fire and disengage troops. There have been skirmishes “of different intensity” overnight on the Nagorno-Karabakh border, a spokesperson for the Armenian Defense Ministry reported earlier on Monday. “The adversary resumed offensive using artillery and armor, including the heavy flamethrower system TOS,” the official revealed.

The Armenian military are deterring the attack, “inflicting significant losses on the enemy in manpower and equipment.” Baku, meanwhile, blamed its arch-nemesis for targeting civilian-populated areas. On Monday morning, Armenian forces have been shelling Terter, a border town of roughly 19,000 people, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry told the media. “Proper measures” will be taken if the bombardment doesn’t stop, the ministry warned. Previously, Baku suggested at least 550 Armenian soldiers were killed or injured in the Azeri “counteroffensive,” along with dozens of tanks, howitzers, and air defense systems lost in action. Yerevan promptly rebuked the claim as “unfounded.” Nagorno-Karabakh itself reported a loss of 31 Armenian soldiers in the fighting.

The lingering hostilities broke out previously on Sunday morning. Yerevan accused Baku of using combat aircraft and heavy artillery to bomb targets within Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed region administered and populated by ethnic Armenians but claimed by Azerbaijan as part of its territory. Baku, in turn, said it had counter-attacked in response to Armenian “provocations.” Both sides – which have fought on numerous occasions since the Soviet Union’s demise – sent reinforcements to the frontline and blamed one another for targeting civilians.

Read more …

 

 

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“We are victims of the post-Enlightenment view that the world functions like a sophisticated machine, to be understood like a textbook engineering problem and run by wonks. In other words, like a home appliance, not like the human body.”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Sep 142020
 


Edvard Munch Love and pain 1895

 

“A Harris Administration Together With Joe Biden” (AZC)
America’s Color Revolution (Paul Craig Roberts)
Biden Says Stay in Mideast, Increase Military Spending (Antiwar)
Wiped Phones Obstruction Of Justice, Worst Sort Destruction Of Evidence (RCP)
Trump Signs New, Expanded Executive Order To Lower US Drug Prices (R.)
State Dept Reported Burisma Paid Bribe While Hunter Biden Served On Board (JTN)
The Fed’s New Framework: This Time Is Different (Zentner)
Oracle Emerges As Likely US Partner For TikTok (JTN)
Beijing’s Mass Surveillance Of Australia And The World (ABC.au)
The Rise of Ultra-Processed Foods (Conv.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taleb: Retrospective bigotteering

 

 

What a most curious thing to say. Where does that come from? Is it equal to “A Pence Administration Together With Donald Trump”?

“A Harris Administration Together With Joe Biden” (AZC)

Pointing to Arizona’s high coronavirus losses, Kamala Harris urged the state’s residents to register and vote for an administration committed to its health and business needs. In a five-minute virtual speech Saturday cast as a conversation with Latina small business owners, the senator from California said she and her running mate, Joe Biden, will create manufacturing incentives, roll back tax cuts that went to the wealthy and preserve health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. “For everyone on this call, Joe and I understand that your business is the heartbeat of your community,” Harris said. “As part of our Build Back Better agenda, we will need to make sure you have a president in the White House who actually sees you, who understands your needs, who understands the dignity of your work and who has your back.”


Harris’ speech is a reminder of the key role Hispanic voters are expected to play in helping win Arizona, a battleground for the White House. The Biden-Harris ticket is expected to win most Hispanic votes, but polling suggests they are doing so in numbers smaller than Democrat Hillary Clinton did in her losing 2016 campaign. Harris said a Democratic administration, which she called “a Harris administration together with Joe Biden,” would provide $100 billion in low-interest loans and investments for minority-owned businesses, a $15,000 tax credit for first-time home-buyers and allow government-run health insurance to compete with private insurers.

Read more …

“Trump, isolated in his own government, will be cut off from Twitter, Facebook and from the print and TV media.”

America’s Color Revolution (Paul Craig Roberts)

Russiagate was a coup that failed, followed by the failed Impeachgate coup. Faced with Trump’s reelection and the realization that upon reelection Trump will be able to deal with the treason against him, the Deep State has decided to take him out with a color revolution. The evidence of a color revolution in the works is abundantly supplied by CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, NPR, Washington Post and numerous Internet sites funded by the CIA and the foundations and corporations through which it operates, all of which are committed to Trump’s ejection from the Oval Office. The American public does not realize the extent to which the institutions of a free society have been penetrated and turned against freedom. All of these media organizations are establishing the story in the mind of Americans that Trump will not leave office when he loses or steals the election and must be driven out.

Emails are arriving from readers in the UK and Europe reporting that the British and European media are at work preparing the acceptability of the CIA’s color revolution against President Trump. It is taken for granted by both media and politicians in Europe and the UK that Trump cannot win reelection because he (1) is a Putin agent, (2) abuses the power of his office, (3) represents racist “Trump Deplorables,” (4) is a womanizer—“grab them by the pussy,” (5) is responsible for America leading the world in Covid-19 cases and deaths, (6) doesn’t support NATO (a sinecure for many Europeans), (7) is an outsider and not a member of The Establishment and “is not like us,” (8) “has orange hair” (orange is considered a low class color). You can add your own to the list.

The scenarios for what the American, British, and European media assume to be a necessary color revolution to drive Trump from office are: • Trump loses the election, refuses to leave office and must be dislodged or democracy is lost. • Trump wins the election by fraud and must be dislodged or democracy is lost. The scenarios do not accommodate Trump actually winning the election by the vote of the people. That outcome is outside the possibilities. According to the media, Trump can only lose or steal the election. With Antifa and Black Lives Matter now experienced in violent protests, they will be unleashed anew on American cities when there is news of a Trump election victory. The media will explain the violence as necessary to free us from a tyrant and egg on the violence, as will the Democrat Party. The CIA will be certain that the violence is well funded.

Trump, isolated in his own government, which has failed to bring charges against the Obama regime officials who tried to frame the President of the United States and drive him from office—Barr and Durham represent The Establishment, not the President or law—will be cut off from Twitter, Facebook and from the print and TV media. All Americans and the world will hear is that Trump lost and must go or Trump won by vote fraud and must go. It will be impossible for Trump or anyone to refute the charges.

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“The priorities, as are so often the case for the US, are fighting Russia, who Biden identified as a “near-peer” power. The US spends more than ten times the amount on its military annually that Russia does, and it is unclear in what way they are a “near-peer.”

Biden Says Stay in Mideast, Increase Military Spending (Antiwar)

Former Vice President Joe Biden gave some of his first foreign policy-related positions in an interview with Stars and Stripes on Thursday, saying the “forever wars have to end” while seemingly ruling out any full-fledged withdrawals, arguing the US still has to worry about terrorism and ISIS. Biden said the ongoing US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria are so complicated he can’t promise a withdrawal. He also suggested he may increase military spending even beyond its current record levels as he shifts focus to what he believes should be the military’s priorities. The priorities, as are so often the case for the US, are fighting Russia, who Biden identified as a “near-peer” power.


The US spends more than ten times the amount on its military annually that Russia does, and it is unclear in what way they are a “near-peer.” Either way, Biden intends to shift the focus toward unmanned drones and cyber-warfare, and suggests that is likely to boil down to not just a shift in where money is spent, but likely an increase in spending as well. “First thing I’m going to have to do, and I’m not joking: if elected I’m going to have to get on the phone with the heads of state and say America’s back,” Biden said, saying NATO has been “worried as hell about our failure to confront Russia.”

Read more …

Sidney Powell.

Wiped Phones Obstruction Of Justice, Worst Sort Destruction Of Evidence (RCP)

Sidney Powell, the attorney for Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, appeared on FOX Business and denounced the Mueller team for having their phones wiped before the DOJ inspector general could view their contents. “I wrote about it in an article in 2018 complaining that Rosenstein and Mueller allowed the Strzok/Page cell phones from the special counsel operation to be destroyed, and I demanded that the IG seize the other phones then and collect all the evidence off of them,” Powell said Thursday. “And then the IG lets this happen. All of those phones should have been seized while at the end of the special counsel operation while they were still doing it, and they should have nailed every one of them.”


Powell on Strzok: “Peter Strzok is a liar. Peter Strzok is the one who altered the 302 multiple times in conjunction with Lisa Page until he added statements that were not reflected in the notes of the two agents that interviewed General Flynn.” “And both agent Strzok and agent Pientka who interviewed him knew at the time he was telling them the truth. That’s why Flynn was never re-interviewed. They didn’t even warn him about a 1001 statement, and they didn’t let him look at the transcript like they do with every other witness.” “They treated him differently than anyone else they ever interviewed for anything. They schemed and planned to interview him in such a way he did not even know he was the subject of the interview or investigation and they did that deliberately, violating all the rules in the process.”

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Got to love this from Big Pharma:

“a reckless attack on the very companies working around the clock to beat COVID19.”

Trump Signs New, Expanded Executive Order To Lower US Drug Prices (R.)

President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on Sunday aimed at lowering drug prices in the United States by linking them to those of other nations and expanding the scope of a July action. “My Most Favored Nation order will ensure that our Country gets the same low price Big Pharma gives to other countries. The days of global freeriding at America’s expense are over,” Trump said in a Twitter post. The latest step, coming less than two months before the Nov. 3 presidential election, would replace a July 24 Trump executive order. It extends the mandate to prescription drugs available at a pharmacy, which are covered under Medicare Part D. The July version focused on drugs typically administered in doctors’ offices and health clinics, covered by Medicare Part B.


Specifically, it would pay a price for a drug that matches the lowest price paid among wealthy foreign governments. Medicare, the government healthcare program for seniors, is currently prohibited from negotiating prices it pays to drugmakers. It also requires issuing new federal rules, a complex process that might not be done by Election Day. Determining prices paid by other countries could be challenging as negotiations between governments and drugmakers often are kept confidential. The industry’s largest trade group – the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA – denounced Trump’s move as “a reckless attack on the very companies working around the clock to beat COVID-19.”

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Will this go away?

State Dept Reported Burisma Paid Bribe While Hunter Biden Served On Board (JTN)

Just eight months after Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter joined the board of Burisma Holdings, U.S. officials in Kiev developed evidence that the Ukrainian gas company may have paid a $7 million bribe to the local prosecutors investigating the firm for corruption, according to interviews and State Department memos. State officials believed the alleged bribe was paid between May and December 2014 and got confirmation from one prosecutor. They argued the bribe amounted to a “gross miscarriage of justice that undermined months of US assistance” to fight corruption in Ukraine, contemporaneous memos show. The concerns were eventually reported to the FBI, although it is not clear whether the allegations were ever investigated more fully, according to current and former U.S. and Ukrainian government officials.

The anecdote, buried in five-year-old diplomatic files, provides a fresh illustration of the awkward, uncomfortable conflict of interest State officials perceived as they tried to fight pervasive corruption in Ukraine under Joe Biden’s leadership while the vice president’s son collected large payments as a board member for an energy firm widely viewed as corrupt. The concerns first came to a head in January 2015, the memos show, about eight months after Hunter Biden was named to Burisma’s board and after two major corruption investigations — one in Ukraine and the other in Britain — were opened against the gas firm.

George Kent, then a State Department official newly sent to the U.S. embassy in Kiev to lead anti-corruption efforts, was concerned the bribery allegations surrounding Prosecutor General Vitaly Yarema were credible enough that he sought a meeting with one of Yarema’s deputies to demand action, according to State Department memos. His concern was triggered when Yarema took action over the Christmas 2014 holidays to undercut both the British and Ukraine investigations of Burisma and its founder Mykola Zlochevsky, and the U.S. embassy received word a $7 million bribe had changed hands, State memos show. The Feb. 3, 2015 meeting involved Kent, one of Yarema’s top deputies, Anatoliy Danylenko, as well as the DOJ’s liaison in Ukraine, Jeffrey Cole, memos show. It was arranged by Andrii Telizhenko, an English-speaking mid-level Ukrainian government official long trusted by the Obama administration in Kiev and Washington to facilitate contacts between the two countries.

“No problem, works for us. I’ll get you the names soonest. Likely George and Jeff Cole. Will confirm later,” U.S. embassy official Gregory W. Pfleger wrote Telizhenko in a lengthy Jan. 31, 2015 email chain that arranged the location, date and attendees for the meeting for three days later. Pfleger had forwarded Kent’s resume to the Ukrainians since he was new to the embassy, and Telizhenko reciprocated by forwarding a biography for Danylenko, the memos show. U.S. officials familiar with the meeting, as well as one eyewitness, told Just the News that Kent strongly confronted Danylenko, insisting the U.S. had strong reason to believe that Burisma officials made a multimillion dollar bribe to Yarema’s office between May 2014 when Hunter Biden joined the board and December 2014.

[..] A few days after the meeting, Yarema abruptly stepped down Feb. 10, 2015 as the chief prosecutor of Ukraine after just a few months in the job.

Strzok believes

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From Morgan Stanley’s chief economist Ellen Zentner. I must assume these people believe in their own gibberish, as well as the Fed’s.

The Fed’s New Framework: This Time Is Different (Zentner)

On August 27, Chair Powell and the Federal Open Market Committee made history, rolling out a new inflation-targeting framework. I believe that the central bank is now more likely to achieve its desired inflation target in the current cycle. If it does, this new framework may well be Chair Powell’s legacy. The Fed replaced its old symmetric 2% inflation target with a flexible average inflation-targeting framework. It emphasizes that the Fed will target an inflation overshoot in recoveries following inflation shortfalls during downturns. This has important implications for economic and policy outcomes over the medium term. Most specifically, under Powell’s leadership the Fed has now solidified a more dovish path than in previous recoveries.

Under the new outcome-based approach, the Fed needs evidence of inflation before raising rates, rather than simply forecasting that it will rise. Had this policy framework been in place in the last cycle, with inflation and unemployment evolving exactly as they did, the Fed might have delayed lift-off to as late as 2018, with its overall policy stance more accommodative for longer. It’s not just policy outcomes that are likely to differ. A change in monetary policy dynamics is likely to feed through to inflation expectations, which are relevant to price- and wage-setting. This would make it more likely that the Fed can achieve its inflation targets over the current cycle and that average 2% inflation outcomes are attainable over time.

To be sure, the change in the Fed’s framework makes us even more confident that inflation will be structurally higher over this cycle and beyond. How quickly the output and employment gaps close in this cycle will play a major role in determining when the first rate hike comes. Moreover, we believe that to demonstrate their commitment to the new strategy, policy-makers won’t rush to raise rates at the first sign of success. The longer-term simulations we laid out in Life After Covid suggest that the kind of labor market and inflation conditions the Fed would want to see sustained could be in place for the Fed to consider raising rates by the first half of 2024, sooner should the V-shaped recovery continue to run ahead of expectations.

Long before the first rate hike, the Fed should see the necessary conditions to start taking its foot off the gas. Working backwards, we think the Fed will want to end its asset purchases around a year before the first rate hike. This suggests that asset purchases would stop in early 2023, but tapering is likely to come in mid-2022. Chair Powell has time and again displayed an affinity for long-dated forewarning of Fed action to market participants, so starting to slow the pace of asset purchases around mid-2022 means we should get guidance that tapering is on the horizon by the December 2021 FOMC meeting.

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I thought they weren’t going to sell at all?!

Oracle Emerges As Likely US Partner For TikTok (JTN)

Oracle emerged Sunday evening as the likely U.S. partner for the popular social video app TikTok after Microsoft Corp. announced its bid had been rejected by the Chinese app’s owner. “ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft,” the U.S. software maker announced in a blog post. “We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests. To do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combatting disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement. Microsoft’s rejection left Oracle as the lone remaining U.S. suitor. The Washington Post, quoting an anonymous source, reported Sunday night that ByteDance had chosen Oracle as TikTok’s U.S. technology partner.

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China emulates the CIA?!

Beijing’s Mass Surveillance Of Australia And The World (ABC.au)

A Chinese company with links to Beijing’s military and intelligence networks has been amassing a vast database of detailed personal information on thousands of Australians, including prominent and influential figures. A database of 2.4 million people, including more than 35,000 Australians, has been leaked from the Shenzhen company Zhenhua Data which is believed to be used by China’s intelligence service, the Ministry of State Security. Zhenhua has the People’s Liberation Army and the Chinese Communist Party among its main clients. Information collected includes dates of birth, addresses, marital status, along with photographs, political associations, relatives and social media IDs.

It collates Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and even TikTok accounts, as well as news stories, criminal records and corporate misdemeanours. While much of the information has been “scraped” from open-source material, some profiles have information which appears to have been sourced from confidential bank records, job applications and psychological profiles. The company is believed to have sourced some of its information from the so-called “dark web”. One intelligence analyst said the database was “Cambridge Analytica on steroids”, referring to the trove of personal information sourced from Facebook profiles in the lead up to the 2016 US election campaign.

[..] The database was leaked to a US academic based in Vietnam, Professor Chris Balding, who until 2018 had worked at the elite Peking University before leaving China citing fears for his physical safety. “China is absolutely building out a massive surveillance state both domestically and internationally,” Professor Balding told the ABC. “They’re using a wide variety of tools — this one is taken primarily from public sources, there is non-public data in here, but it is taken primarily from public sources. “I think it speaks to the broader threat of what China is doing and how they are surveilling, monitoring and seeking to influence… not just their own citizens, but citizens around the world.” Professor Balding has returned to the United States, leaving Vietnam after being advised it was no longer safe for him to be there.

It was also a grave risk taken by the person who leaked the database to him, who contacted him as he started publishing articles about Chinese tech giant Huawei. “We’ve worked very hard to make sure that there are no links between me and that person, once I realised what had been given to me,” he said. “They are still in China. But hopefully I think they will be safe.” Professor Balding gave the database to Canberra cyber security company Internet 2.0 which was able to restore 10 per cent of the 2.4 million records for individuals. Internet 2.0’s chief executive Robert Potter said Zhenhua had built the capacity to track naval vessels and defence assets, to assess the careers of military officers and catalogue the intellectual property of China’s competitors. “This mass collection of data is taking place in China’s private sector, in the same way Beijing outsources its cyber attack capability to private subcontractors,” Mr Potter told the ABC.

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Awfully simplistic, but a good reminder that this stuff makes your body, and your immune system, much weaker. The last thing you want with a virus like this going around is chronic inflammation.

The Rise of Ultra-Processed Foods (Conv.)

Humans (and our ancestors) have been processing food for at least 1.8 million years. Roasting, drying, grinding and other techniques made food more nutritious, durable and tasty. This helped our ancestors to colonise diverse habitats, and then develop settlements and civilisations. Many traditional foods used in cooking today are processed in some way, such as grains, cheeses, dried fish and fermented vegetables. Processing itself is not the problem. Only much more recently has a different type of food processing emerged: one that is more extensive, and uses new chemical and physical techniques. This is called ultra-processing, and the resulting products ultra-processed foods.

To make these foods, cheap ingredients such as starches, vegetable oils and sugars, are combined with cosmetic additives like colours, flavours and emulsifiers. Think sugary drinks, confectionery, mass-produced breads, snack foods, sweetened dairy products and frozen desserts. Unfortunately, these foods are terrible for our health. And we’re eating more of them than ever before, partially because of aggressive marketing and lobbying by “Big Food”. [..] We found that more ultra-processed foods in the diet associates with higher risks of obesity, heart disease and stroke, type-2 diabetes, cancer, frailty, depression and death. These harms can be caused by the foods’ poor nutritional profile, as many are high in added sugars, salt and trans-fats.


Also, if you tend to eat more ultra-processed foods, it means you probably eat fewer fresh and less-processed foods. Industrial processing itself can also be harmful. For example, certain food additives can disrupt our gut bacteria and trigger inflammation, while plasticisers in packaging can interfere with our hormonal system. Certain features of ultra-processed foods also promote over-consumption. Product flavours, aromas and mouthfeel are designed to make these foods ultra-tasty, and perhaps even addictive.

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

Thank you for your support.

 

 

That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest

– Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 092020
 


Albert Kahn Paris, Autochrome Lumière color photo 1914

 

COVID19 Pandemic To ‘Bring Socialism To US’, Transform The World – Taleb (RT)
What’s In Trump’s Coronavirus Executive Orders (R.)
Russia COVID19 Vaccine Registration Expected August 12 (RT)
SARS-CoV-2 Fatality Risk In A Nationwide Seroepidemiological Study (Medrxiv)
Chuck Schumer Says Schools Must Reopen Or Economy Suffers (RT)
Trump Aides Exploring Executive Actions To Curb Voting By Mail (Pol.)
No Payment, No Problem: Bizarre New World of Consumer Debt (WS)
Social Media Imposing Modern-Day ‘Hays Code’ On Political Speech (RCP)
Twitter Reportedly Joins Growing List Of Potential TikTok Suitors (ZH)
US To Cut Troop Levels In Afghanistan To ‘Less Than 5,000’ – Esper (R.)
Oil Giants Cut Production By 1 Million bpd Amid Massive Writedowns (R.)
Zelensky Says Ukraine Staying Out Of US Internal Politics, Elections (R.)
George W. Bush Laid the Groundwork for Today’s Immigration Nightmare (MPN)
West’s Favorite Hong Kong ‘Freedom Writer’ Is American In Yellowface (GZ)
Solidarity with the Germans (Varoufakis)

 

 

Weekend, so lower numbers. US new deaths were below 1,000 (976), so I lost that grpah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hedge funds dollar

 

 

Who would have thought that the first socialist president of the United States would be Donald Trump?

COVID19 Pandemic To ‘Bring Socialism To US’, Transform The World – Taleb (RT)

In a remarkable twist, the raging coronavirus pandemic has forced even countries like the US to adopt “socialist” welfare programs, acclaimed author and risk analyst Nassim Taleb has told RT. While people spend days worrying about global wars, our biggest threats have always been the pandemics, the author of ‘The Black Swan’ and ‘Skin in the Game’ told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze on her show SophieCo. Visionaries. The advent of the novel coronavirus will tremendously change societies in many ways, making them better ready for future crises, he said. “So the world will be different, wiser. But, hopefully, it will be good for peace, because people will understand tomorrow that the enemy is not some person with weapons. The enemy is that thing you don’t see: a tiny little germ you can have on top of a pencil,” the writer added.

What I think is going to happen is a transformation of economic structures to accommodate potential pandemics. Even if they never happen again, people will be prepared for them. He cited the boom of teleworking, Zoom conference calls, and online shopping as examples of people adapting to the new reality. According to Taleb, globalization would become more “guarded,” rather than disappear entirely. “The physical movement of population… would be reduced, and business travel will not be as active as we saw in the past,” he said. One of the most remarkable changes the pandemic has brought, the writer noted, was how some governments have been “extremely helpful” to citizens trapped in quarantines and lockdowns.

This touched the US as well, where a $2 trillion stimulus package was adopted in May, the largest in the nation’s history. Who would have thought that the first socialist president of the United States would be Donald Trump? He gave people universal basic income for a few months, and they took possession of companies. If that’s not socialism, I don’t know what is. So, the individuals got a protective net that they didn’t have before. “Mark my words, if you want a headline done – ‘Who would have expected the Covid to run both domestic and foreign policy?’, ‘Covid to bring socialism to countries like the United States,’” Taleb said.

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Yeah. No. Everyone may get this wrong or confused, but from what I can see he signed just one executive order (on payroll tax), the other three are memoranda. Details on that:

The hierarchy is: Proclamations, executive orders, presidential memoranda, presidential notices, and presidential determinations. Notices and determinations are usually required by Congress on specific issues. Authority: Under an executive order signed by President John F. Kennedy, an executive order must cite the authority the president has to issue it. That could be the constitution, or a specific statute. Presidential memoranda have no such requirement.

What’s In Trump’s Coronavirus Executive Orders (R.)

After failing to reach a deal with the U.S. Congress for a fresh round of coronavirus pandemic relief, President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders aimed at pumping up America’s pandemic-hit economy. The orders are likely to face some legal challenges. Trump’s order cuts enhanced federal unemployment benefits – a lifeline for the tens of millions of Americans thrown out of work during the pandemic – from $600 to $400 per week. Democrats had been lobbying to extend the original $600 a week enhanced benefits, which expired on July 31. Trump proposes taking most of the money from the coffers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency – $44 billion, according to the order – with 25% of the money coming from states.

It’s not clear how Trump will convince state governments, whose revenues have been hard hit by the crisis, to pony up their proposed share. Trump called the reduced payments “generous.” Trump’s first order waives the payroll tax that funds Social Security in a bid to inject extra money directly into salaried employees’ pockets. Trump has been pushing the idea for a while but it has found little support in Congress from Democrats or his fellow Republicans. The executive order says the cut comes into effect on Sept. 1, but Trump said it “most likely” would be retroactive to Aug. 1 and translate into “bigger paychecks for working families.”

Trump’s order protecting homeowners and renters from evictions is unlikely to face a challenge from Democrats; indeed, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week encouraged the move. But it isn’t clear how it will be executed. The order directs authorities to provide “temporary financial assistance” to renters and homeowners “struggling to meet their monthly rental or mortgage obligations.” Even Trump seemed a little hazy on the order’s ultimate effects, saying “we don’t want people being evicted and the act that I am signing will solve that problem – largely, hopefully, completely.” Trump said that interest on student loan payments – frozen since March – would be suspended until the end of the year.

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“Americans were surprised when they heard Sputnik’s beeping, it’s the same with this vaccine. Russia will have got there first..”

Russia COVID19 Vaccine Registration Expected August 12 (RT)

Moscow’s Gamelei Center could register the world’s first coronavirus vaccine on August 12, Russia’s deputy health minister has revealed. Oleg Gridnev says medical workers and the elderly will be given priority for immunization. The senior minister at the department, Mikhail Murashko, announced last week that a nationwide mass vaccination program is planned to begin in October. Murashko added that all expenses will be covered by the government. “The registration of the vaccine developed at the Gamelei Center will take place on August 12,” Gridnev told journalists in Ufa on Friday morning, as cited by RIA Novosti. “Now the last stage, the third, is underway. This is the testing part and is extremely important. We have to understand that the vaccine itself must be safe.”

The Health Ministry, in an official statement, clarified that “the documents required for registration of the vaccine developed by the Gamelei Center, including data from clinical trials, are under examination. The issue of its registration will be decided upon the results of the examination.” Clinical trials of the formula began at Moscow’s Sechenov University on June 18. In a study involving 38 volunteers, it passed safety protocols. It was observed that all those who took part developed immunity to the infection. The speed with which Russia has managed to research and approve a formula has raised some eyebrows in the West, but Vadim Tarasov, a top scientist at Sechenov, said the country had a head start as it has spent the last 20 years developing skills in this field and trying to understand how viruses transmit.

The haste is fairly easy to grasp when you consider the effect Covid-19 has had on the world’s largest country. With more than 870,000 cases, it is among the four countries worst affected by the epidemic, along with the US, Brazil, and India. Russia’s 14,725 fatalities is the 11th highest in the world, although when measured per capita, the death rate ranks 47th, below Germany, but above Austria. The technology behind the Russian vaccine is based on adenovirus, the common cold. Created artificially, the vaccine proteins replicate those of Covid-19, triggering “an immune response similar to that caused by the coronavirus itself,” Tarasov said. In other words, immunization is similar to having survived the virus, but without its life-threatening risks.

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which has bankrolled the research, last week compared the vaccine discovery process to the Space Race. “Americans were surprised when they heard Sputnik’s beeping, it’s the same with this vaccine. Russia will have got there first,” he told US TV.

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Much deadlier in men. Much deadlier than the seasonal flu.

SARS-CoV-2 Fatality Risk In A Nationwide Seroepidemiological Study (Medrxiv)

The magnitude of the infection fatality risk (IFR) of SARS-CoV-2 remains under debate. Because the IFR is the number of deaths divided by the number of infected, serological studies are needed to identify asymptomatic and mild cases. Also, because ascertainment of deaths attributable to COVID-19 is often incomplete, the calculation of the IFR needs to be complemented with data on excess mortality. We used data from a nation-wide seroepidemiological study and two sources of mortality information -deaths among laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases and excess deaths- to estimate the range of IFR, both overall and by age and sex, in Spain.


The overall IFR ranged between 1.1% and 1.4% in men and 0.58% to 0.77% in women. The IFR increased sharply after age 50, ranging between 11.6% and 16.4% in men ≥80 years and between 4.6% and 6.5% in women ≥80 years. Our IFR estimates for SARS-CoV-2 are substantially greater than IFR estimators for seasonal influenza, justifying the implementation of special public health measures.

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Not the first time that the Dems cry murder over something Trump says, only to make it look like they invented it mere weeks later.

Chuck Schumer Says Schools Must Reopen Or Economy Suffers (RT)

Republicans and Democrats failed to reach a compromise on a Covid-19 economic relief bill, but one comment from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) about schools needing to reopen has some seeing hypocrisy on the left. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Schumer addressed the press after failed negotiations with Republicans on a potential relief bill. While many of their complaints about Republicans refusing to continue robust unemployment and other government programs was to be expected, one comment from Schumer went viral as it didn’t seem to match the outrage shown to President Donald Trump when he mentioned the same thing. “If you don’t open up the schools, you’re going to hurt the economy significantly,” Schumer said, “because lots of people can’t go to work.”

The president has floated the idea of fully reopening most schools in the fall despite the coronavirus pandemic, but he has found pushback with liberal critics each and every time. Schumer’s admission that not reopening schools will hurt the economy, which the president has argued, was seen as a surprising “moment of clarity” by critics on social media who latched onto the comment. The disagreement on reopening schools comes down to federal funding. Schumer and Pelosi have argued the only way to safely let kids back into the in-person education system is through major federal funding. Trump has argued that schools in hotspots for the coronavirus should be taking precautions when reopening, but the failure to add federal funding into a Covid-19 economic package has the left and right at a standstill on the issue.

Already a heated debate, it is only bound to get more heated as the country draws nearer to the dates schools would normally open their doors again. Experts have argued since schooling is a childcare issue, keeping them closed affects not only children and employees of the education system, but also parents who cannot return to work. “Because children and parents are dying from that trauma, too. They’re dying because they can’t do what they’re doing. Mothers can’t go to work because all of a sudden they have to stay home and watch their child, and fathers,” the president told CBS News last month when asked why he considered not reopening schools a “terrible decision.”

Pelosi has argued the president is “messing” with childrens’ health and risking another outbreak of the virus with his support for reopening schools. “Going back to school presents the biggest risk for the spread of the coronavirus,” she told CNN. “If there are CDC guidelines, they should be requirements.”

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Oh, we’re going to have so much fun over the nest three months. And then there may be another three months needed to count the votes. Solid entertainment into Spring 2021. And Pelosi as President.

Trump Aides Exploring Executive Actions To Curb Voting By Mail (Pol.)

Just because Trump’s claims of rampant mail-in voting fraud aren’t supported by evidence doesn’t mean election experts aren’t concerned about problems holding a presidential election during a pandemic. It’s unknown whether the United States Postal Service can handle a surge of mail-in ballots in a timely fashion, and other officials have cautioned about long lines and a shortage of workers at in-person polling stations, which have been limited during the coronavirus outbreak. Some have predicted the crush of remote voting could mean a final winner in the presidential race between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden won’t be known for days or even weeks.

Democrats are pushing for $25 billion for USPS in the next coronavirus recovery bill to help address those concerns, but it remains a source of disagreement with Republicans. There have already been some some notable delays in down-ballot elections during the pandemic, including one New York race this summer. Six weeks after a Democratic primary for a U.S. House seat, all of the ballots have yet to be counted. “This is a rare case where the president is not overstating the case,” argued Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative group that has sued in North Carolina and Pennsylvania over the accuracy of voting rolls. “Frankly he’s understating the problem that I think we are going to face on Election Day. The system is going to break.”

The Trump campaign is holding events touting its legal actions on voting rules. And privately, the White House is debating possible further action, according to two people familiar with the situation. The White House declined to comment on whether Trump would be signing an executive order on the issue. “All Americans deserve an election system that is secure and President Trump is highlighting that Democrats’ plan for universal mail-in voting would lead to fraud,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews. “While Democrats continue to call for a radical overhaul of our nation’s voting system, President Trump will continue to work to ensure the security and integrity of our elections.”

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It’s just like a biblical jubilee.

No Payment, No Problem: Bizarre New World of Consumer Debt (WS)

The New York Fed released a doozie of a household credit report. It summarized what individual lenders have been reporting about their own practices: If you can’t make the payments on your mortgage, auto loan, credit card debt, or student loan, just ask for a deferral or forbearance, and you won’t have to make the payments, and the loan won’t count as delinquent if it wasn’t delinquent before. And even if it was delinquent before, you can “cure” a delinquency by getting the loan deferred and modified. No payment, no problem. Student loan borrowers were automatically rolled into forbearance under the CARES Act, and even though many students had stopped making payments, delinquency rates plunged because the Department of Education had decided to report as “current” all those loans that are in forbearance, even if they were delinquent. Yup, according to New York Fed data, the delinquency rate of student loan borrowers, though many had stopped making payments, plunged from 10.75% in Q1, to 6.97% in Q2, the lowest since 2007:

Student loan forbearance is available until September 30, and interest is waived until then, instead of being added to the loan. In a blog post, the New York Fed said that 88% of the student-loan borrowers, including private-loan borrowers and Federal Family Education Loan borrowers, had a “scheduled payment of $0,” meaning that at least 88% of the student loans were in some form of forbearance. Until September 30. And then what? And because delinquencies in student loans, auto loans, credit card debt, and mortgages are being “cured” by putting the loans in deferral programs and modifying the delinquent loans, they become “current” loans even though no catch-up payments have been made.


Still, about 32 million people are claiming unemployment insurance. A much smaller employment shock during the Financial Crisis caused the percentage of delinquent loan balances to soar, and the percentage of “current” loan balances to plunge, to bottom out at 88% in Q4 2009. Not this time. As the percentage of delinquent loan balances fell, the percentage of “current” loan balances jumped to 96.4%, a record high in the New York Fed’s data going back to 2003. Yup, crazy world. Ally Financial reported in its 10-Q filing with the SEC for the second quarter that about 21% of its auto-loan customers were enrolled in its deferral program where they don’t have to make payments for 120 days. “The vast majority of our loan deferrals for customers in the program are scheduled to expire by the end of August 2020,” it said. And then what?

Lenders like these types of programs because they can kick the can of delinquencies down the road, and instead they have “performing loans” for which they can accrue interest which makes their investors happy, even though the customers don’t make any interest or principal payments. Bank regulators normally get nervous about deferral programs. But it appears that bank regulators have been told the shelter at home until further notice. Across all lenders, about 5.9% of the $1.34 trillion in auto loans – so close to $80 billion – are in forbearance, according to the New York Fed. And as a result, borrowers who cannot make the payment, don’t have to make it, and their loans are still deemed “current,” and the percentage of auto loans that are newly delinquent dropped to 6.29%, a record low in the data – while during the last crisis, the delinquent balances were above 10% for nearly two years:

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Yes, they’re censoring TV networks now. Scary. So is this: when Elon Musk tweeted in March that “kids are essentially immune,” Twitter clarified that his tweet did not violate its COVID-19 rules.

Social Media Imposing Modern-Day ‘Hays Code’ On Political Speech (RCP)

Social media companies continued to assert their power over the political sphere this week, with Twitter temporarily suspending the Trump campaign’s ability to post until it removed a clip of a Fox News interview with the president regarding COVID-19. When the Democratic National Committee reposted the video to debunk it, Twitter similarly banned the DNC from tweeting until it too deleted the footage. With Twitter seemingly unbothered by the implications of suspending a presidential campaign’s account just 12 weeks before the election, what might the future hold as control of our public squares is increasingly centralized?

Twitch became the first social media platform to formally suspend a presidential candidate’s account this past June when it deleted two of President Trump’s campaign rally videos for violations of its “hateful conduct” rules. In doing so, it emphasized the divide between physical and virtual campaigning. At an in-person rally a candidate can present the policy proposals he or she believes supporters want. Virtual rallies, however, are policed by an army of moderators enforcing ever-changing acceptable speech policies, forcing politicians to self-censor or risk deletion from the online world that increasingly shapes elections.

In the case of this week’s ban, the story is all the more remarkable because the video in question was actually a cable TV interview with the nation’s leader, meaning that social platforms were in effect banning a major news organization’s reporting. As news is increasingly consumed through social media, the upshot is that the online platform’s acceptable speech rules are being applied to traditional news outlets. Additionally, rather than link the video to an outside fact check, Facebook simply deleted it as “a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation” while Twitter forced the campaign to delete the post as a “violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation.” Both companies cited as the offending statement Trump’s claim that children have “much stronger immune systems” than adults and thus “they don’t have a problem” when infected.

While oversimplifying, Trump’s claims are not that far removed from those of CDC Director Robert Redfield and infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who have cited the pathogen’s significantly reduced severity in children in their calls to safely reopen schools this fall. While more measured than the “immunity” claimed by Trump, the gist of his statement — that COVID-19’s impact on children appears to be less severe than its effect on older Americans — aligns with the public statements of his medical advisers. Moreover, when Elon Musk tweeted in March that “kids are essentially immune,” Twitter clarified that his tweet did not violate its COVID-19 rules. To this date, Musk’s tweet carries no warnings or fact-checking statements from Twitter refuting it or adding additional context to his claims.

In many ways, social media platforms have become modern-day incarnations of the Hays Code that governed Hollywood from the 1930s to 1960s, establishing “morality” standards and enforcing them with an army of censors. By shaping popular culture through its control of movies, the Hays Code ensured that generations of Americans were presented an idealized world of benevolent public institutions, including police and politicians whose good works were spotlighted and any wrongdoing was punished. Moreover, as an extrajudicial speech regulation, studios could modify the rules and exempt content at will, much as social platforms do today.

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And the censoring power will only get more centralized, unless politics calls a halt to it. But then there’s always the strong links to intelligence services.

Twitter Reportedly Joins Growing List Of Potential TikTok Suitors (ZH)

The ideological battle over the fate of TikTok is provoking fist fights in the Oval Office, and a scramble among the country’s biggest tech firms to see if they might be able to come up with a workable pitch that would allow them to win approval to buy the US operations (along with New Zealand, Australia and Canada, and possibly more) of the popular Chinese-owned social media platform – the only real obstacle to a deal at a time when corporate credit is essentially free. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the app, which the Trump Administration is threatening to shut down in the US over fears of a “national security threat” (Chinese law forces all Chinese companies to cooperate with state security forces, provoking fears that ByteDance, TikTok’s owner, might be compelled to set up a pipeline of Americans’ private information straight to Beijing), has become perhaps the biggest political football at a time of intense strain in the bilateral relationship.

But amid the chaos and the geopolitical posturing of the leaders of the world’s two largest economies, America’s tech giants apparently see an opportunity, however unlikely, to circumvent opposition to further tech-industry mergers and seal what very well might be the last major merger in the industry for quite some time. And with the world headed into a period of protracted slowdown, companies might as well take advantage of the free money, and lock in that future EPS growth while they can. Since anti-trust scrutiny is such a hot issue in the world of big tech right now, it seems every company that has reportedly engaged in “talks” about the prospects for a deal has a reason for why it might assuage regulators and lawmakers and convince both Congress and the White House to agree to the deal.

Being the smallest of the three major companies rumored to be potential suitors, Twitter obviously has the best case from a purely anti-trust standpoint (although it seems reporters keep coming up with excuses for why Microsoft or Facebook could still make it work). Plus, Twitter’s comparatively tiny $29 billion market cap means it would likely need help from outside investors – a great opportunity for Sequoia and the other big VC firms who backed ByteDance who reportedly were in talks about a deal to bring TikTok into the US under their purview. The deal would have valued TikTok at $50 billion, according to unconfirmed reports.

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How awful! Let’s do something!

US To Cut Troop Levels In Afghanistan To ‘Less Than 5,000’ – Esper (R.)

The United States plans to cut its troop levels in Afghanistan to “a number less than 5,000” by the end of November, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in an interview broadcast on Saturday, adding detail to drawdown plans U.S. President Donald Trump announced earlier this week. The United States currently has about 8,600 troops in Afghanistan. Trump said in an interview released Monday by Axios that the United States planned to lower that number to about 4,000.

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Hey! You’re not driving enough! Want to collapse the economy or something?

Oil Giants Cut Production By 1 Million bpd Amid Massive Writedowns (R.)

The world’s five largest oil companies collectively cut the value of their assets by nearly $50 billion in the second quarter, and slashed production rates as the coronavirus pandemic caused a drastic fall in fuel prices and demand. The dramatic reductions in asset valuations and decline in output show the depth of the pain in the second quarter. Fuel demand at one point was down by more than 30% worldwide, and still remains below pre-pandemic levels. Several executives said they took massive writedowns because they expect demand to remain impaired for several more quarters as people travel less and use less fuel due to the ongoing global pandemic that has killed more than 700,000 people.


Of those five companies, only Exxon Mobil did not book sizeable impairments. But an ongoing re-evaluation of its plans could lead to a “significant portion” of its assets being impaired, it reported, and signal the elimination of 20% or 4.4 billion barrels of its oil and gas reserves. By contrast, BP took a $17 billion hit. It said it plans to re-center its spending in coming years around renewables and less on oil and natural gas. Weak demand means oil producers must revisit business plans, said Lee Maginniss, managing director at consultants Alarez & Marsal. He said the goal should be to pump only what generates cash in excess of overhead costs. “It’s low-cost production mode through the end of 2021 for sure, and to 2022 to the extent there are new development plans being contemplated,” Maginniss said.

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Isn’t he also interfering by NOT investigating Burisma, Hunter and the clip where Joe Biden brags about blackmailing Poroshenko into firing a prosecutor?

Zelensky Says Ukraine Staying Out Of US Internal Politics, Elections (R.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that it was a matter of Ukraine’s national security to stay out of U.S. internal politics, particularly its election. “#Ukraine did not and will not allow itself to interfere in the elections and thus harm our trusting and sincere partnership with the #USA,” he wrote on Twitter late on Saturday. Zelenskiy, 42, was a comic actor when he won a landslide election last year. But the first year of his presidency was overshadowed by Ukraine’s unwitting involvement in events that led to the impeachment of Republican U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump had unsuccessfully pressed Ukraine to launch an investigation into his Democratic rival in the 2020 presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden.


“Never, under any circumstances, it’s acceptable to meddle in another country’s sovereign elections,” Zelenskiy wrote. Zelenskiy appealed to Ukrainian politicians to avoid any actions that could be linked to U.S. elections, nor allow themselves to try to solve any of their personal, political or business problems that way. “Ukraine’s reputation is worth much more than the reputation of any of our politicians,” the president said.

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“It is perhaps the most American of issues, and it should be one that unites us..”

Hard to read that with a straight face, let alone for him to say it.

George W. Bush Laid the Groundwork for Today’s Immigration Nightmare (MPN)

George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, has announced he is releasing a new book called “Out of Many, One” which will celebrate America’s diversity and immigrant populations. “Our immigrant heritage has enriched America’s history. It continues to shape our society. Each generation of Americans — of immigrants — brings a renewal to our national character and adds vitality to our culture. Newcomers have a special way of appreciating the opportunities of America, and when they seize those opportunities, our whole nation benefits,” the former president said. The book, scheduled for release in March 2021 will feature 43 images of immigrants, painted by Bush himself [..]

“While I recognize that immigration can be an emotional issue, I reject the premise that it is a partisan issue. It is perhaps the most American of issues, and it should be one that unites us,” he said in a press release. “My hope is that this book will help focus our collective attention on the positive impacts that immigrants are making on our country.” With immigration becoming an increasingly hot partisan issue, the move celebrating the practice is the latest in a series of actions that Bush has taken to distance himself from the current Republican president. Both Bush and his father claimed they did not vote for Trump in 2016, leading to delight from many Democrats. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, for example, yearned for a by-gone age, admitting to wishing Bush were still president, even though at the time she described him as a “total failure” in every aspect of governing.

[..] Bush bragged about greatly increasing the U.S.’ detention capacity for immigrants, using drones to patrol the area, and building 700 hundred miles of fencing and wall, which served as a stepping stone to Trump’s border plans. The increasingly militarized border mirrored the increasingly hostile rhetoric towards immigrants that dominated the Republican Party today. Bush is no stranger to covering controversial topics in his art. In 2017, he released a similar bestselling book called “Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.” In it, he painted dozens of fallen American servicemen, all of whom died fighting in wars he started under false pretenses and has expressed no remorse for doing so. Neither Bush nor the great number of outlets who praised the book appeared at all interested in Middle Eastern victims of his policy.

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A Trojan horse in the 2020’s.

West’s Favorite Hong Kong ‘Freedom Writer’ Is American In Yellowface (GZ)

An American man with ties to Amnesty International and key Hong Kong separatist figures has been posing online as a Hong Kong native named Kong Tsung-gan. Routinely cited as a grassroots activist and writer by major media organizations and published in English-language media, the fictitious character Kong appears to have been concocted to disseminate anti-China propaganda behind the cover of yellowface. Through Kong Tsung-gan’s prolific digital presence and uninterrogated reputation in mainstream Western media, he disseminates a constant stream of content hyping up the Hong Kong “freedom struggle” while clamoring for the US to turn up the heat on China.


Whispers about Kong’s true identity have been circulating on social media among Hong Kong residents, and was even mentioned in a brief account last December by The Standard. The Grayzone spoke to several locals outraged by a deceptive stunt they considered not only unethical, but racist. They said they have kept their views to themselves due to the atmosphere of intimidation looming over the city, where self-styled “freedom fighters” harass and target seemingly anyone who speaks out publicly against them.

The Twitter user Kong Tsung-gan (@KongTsungGan) first appeared in March 2015. Kong Tsung-gan’s earliest tweets featured commentary about Tibet and the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement. At some point, Kong changed his Twitter avatar to a black-and-white headshot of an unknown Asian person. A search of the Wayback Machine internet archive shows that this photo remained up until sometime in late 2019. Later, Kong changed his Twitter avatar to an image depicting Liu Xia, the wife of the late Nobel Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo. Liu Xiaobo was a right-wing ideologue who celebrated the US wars on Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and was rewarded with the 2014 Democracy Award by the National Endowment for Democracy – the favorite meddling machine of the US government.


[..] At around the time he created his Twitter account, Kong Tsung-gan published his first Medium post. He has since filled his Medium feed with protest timelines, lists of recommended human rights books and journalism (including a link to the questionable China “expert” Adrian Zenz), and “first-hand accounts” of his protest experiences on the ground. In one account, Kong Tsung-gan claimed he attended a Band 1 government school, implying he was a native Hong Kong resident. Kong’s work has been amplified by Joshua Wong, the Hong Kong protest poster-boy who has enjoyed photo-ops with neoconservative Republican senators like Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton.

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Rich eat poor everywhere.

Solidarity with the Germans (Varoufakis)

A recent study has confirmed that half of Germany’s population owns just 1.5% of the country’s wealth, while the top 0.1% own 20%. And inequality is getting worse. During the last two decades, the real disposable income of the poorest 50% has been falling while that of the top 1% has been rising fast, along with house and share prices. It is against this background of high and rising inequality that the mood of the German public must be understood, in particular popular resistance to the idea of a eurozone fiscal union. German workers, who are increasingly struggling to make ends meet, understandably refuse to endorse the idea of huge amounts of money being constantly channeled to citizens of other countries. The fact that Germany is getting richer overall is irrelevant to them.

From experience, they know that any money sent to Italy or Greece will probably come from them, not the top 0.1% – not to mention that it will probably end up in the pockets of vile Greek oligarchs, or of private German companies that have purchased Greek assets for next to nothing. As a result, the European Union’s recently agreed €750 billion ($880 billion) pandemic recovery fund, dubbed Next Generation EU, threatens to deepen divisions across Europe, rather than being the unifying balm of many commentators’ dreams. Setting aside the scheme’s macroeconomic insignificance, it is important to take a fresh look at it from the perspective of a typical German worker languishing among the bottom 50% of the country’s wealth distribution.

Her government, a typical German worker is told, will be liable for €100 billion of new debt that the EU will use to help foreigners recover from the pandemic’s economic fallout. “Italians will receive €80 billion from Europe’s Recovery Fund,” she hears. “Spaniards will collect €78 billion, and even the Greeks will pocket €23 billion.” And what will she get? Less than nothing. Because her government is already in fiscal consolidation mode, trying to return its budget to a small surplus by 2021, she can expect only stagnant wages and more austerity for her local hospitals, schools, roads, and other infrastructure.1 While she may well feel compassion to the Italians and Spaniards, who lost so many people to COVID-19, she will never accept repeating this exercise in debt mutualization on behalf of southern or East Europeans. The solidarity of German workers, toward whom no one shows any solidarity, has its limits – as it should.

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Aug 072020
 


W.H. Bartlett and J. Appleton The port of Beirut 1838

 

Minimizing Economic Costs For COVID19 (NECSI)
UK Shoppers Steer Clear Of High Streets Despite Lockdown Lifting (G.)
US State Dept: Russia Pushing Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Online (JTN)
Trump Issues Executive Orders Against Chinese Owners Of TikTok And WeChat (F.)
Tencent Stock Plummets After Trump Announces Plan To Ban WeChat (CNN)
TikTok Sparks National Security Concerns (Japan Times)
Think ‘Sanctions’ Will Trouble China? You’re Stuck In The Past (Ai Weiwei)
NRA Files Countersuit Against New York AG Letitia James
Judge Calls For Assange Testimony In Fox News Civil Suit Over Seth Rich (JTN)
Almost Half Of UK Charities For World’s Poorest Set To Close In A Year (G.)
Canada’s Last Fully Intact Arctic Ice Shelf Collapses (R.)

 

 

Johns Hopkins reports over 2,000 US deaths in 24 hrs for the first time in 3 months. Worldometer says 1,203.

The US passed 5 million cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nomiki DNC funds

 

 

New England Complex Systems Institute means Yaneer Bar-Yam.

Making trying to save your economy more important than fighting COVID is set to backfire. Don’t flatten the curve, crush it. That so many countries have failed in that regard doesn’t just mean they will get second and third waves, more importantly it means their economies will be hurt more than they already are.

Minimizing Economic Costs For COVID19 (NECSI)

It is often claimed that there is a trade-off between containing COVID-19 and minimizing disruption to the economy, and that eliminating COVID-19 (by which we mean getting to no community transmission—i.e. no cases from unknown sources) is too costly to be worthwhile. Here, we examine the validity of these claims.


We consider a space of policy action in which a country (or state) decreases its number of cases per day by reducing the reproductive number R below 1 for a duration of its choosing and then maintains thereafter a constant number of cases per day. The question is what is the right level at which to maintain this constant number of cases per day. The essential idea is that there are two strategies: 1) an elimination strategy in which R<1 is maintained until there is no more community transmission and after which the country reopens (save for targeted responses in specific locations to combat cases that are imported), and 2) a steady-state strategy, in which R<1 is maintained for some period of time but not long enough to eliminate community transmission and after which R=1 is maintained nationwide.

The elimination strategy requires a greater upfront cost, since R<1 is maintained for a longer duration, but requires lower costs thereafter since economic activity in the country can largely return to normal, with the exception of targeted measures in specific locations in the event of a second outbreak caused by an imported case. The steady-state strategy, on the other hand, requires the costly maintenance of R=1 nationwide in order for cases not to rise; if community transmission is not eliminated and R=1 is not maintained, a second wave will occur sooner or later, as has already occurred in many countries that have not yet chosen the elimination strategy. Because of the long time during which a country must maintain R=1 under the steady-state strategy, it is worthwhile even from a purely economic perspective for a country in almost all cases to instead choose the elimination strategy, despite its greater short-term costs.

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As reported numerous times, it’s not the lockdowns that hurt economies most, it’s people being afraid to get infected. Look at the Swedish GDP graph: no lockdown, but a huge fall.

UK Shoppers Steer Clear Of High Streets Despite Lockdown Lifting (G.)

Shoppers continued to stay away from UK high streets last month despite the reopening of non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants following the lifting of lockdown measures. The number of visitors to UK retail destinations dropped by 39.4% in July compared with the same month a year ago, according to figures from Springboard, a data company that tracks footfall at consumer hotspots. Despite an improvement of almost a fifth from June, in the best month for visitor numbers since February, the figures suggest intense pressure remains for the high street as people continued to stay away from town and city centres amid the ongoing health risks from Covid-19.

Non-essential shops began reopening in England and Northern Ireland in mid-June, and in Wales and Scotland later that month. Hotels, pub and restaurants in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland followed suit in July, though customers were only allowed back inside Welsh pubs and cafes this week. With social distancing measures in place, consumers are now gradually returning to towns and city centres. However, Springboard said that during the first full month without tough lockdown measures, bricks and mortar destinations only managed to attract six out of every 10 people who visited last year.

The latest snapshot comes after growing numbers of big high street names announce a raft of shop closures and job losses, as retailers, pubs, hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions face a sharp decline in income caused by the pandemic. Consumers are increasingly spending online, while a lack of tourists from overseas and office workers venturing into town and city centres has had an impact on visitor numbers. The figures precede the launch of the government’s eat out to help out restaurant discount scheme, which has led to a sharp rise in visitor numbers since the start of August. However, coronavirus infections are starting to increase in some parts of Britain, leading to local lockdowns and fuelling concern among consumers.

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Of course they do. And they’re stupid and ugly too, all 150 million of them.

But look on the bright side: at least they give both sides of America, who are ready to start shooting each other, that one elusive thing they can agree on.

US State Dept: Russia Pushing Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Online (JTN)

U.S. officials contend that Russia is employing an online operation – including the disseminating of conspiracy theories and disinformation – to create confusion about the coronavirus, according to a new State Department report. The report described a Russian-based misinformation cycle that peddles sensationalist information via U.S. social media conversations and proxy websites. The department found that the Kremlin has focused its most recent efforts on conspiracy theories about the pandemic. The sites appear as standard-seeming news outlets, but in reality are tied to the Kremlin and Russian state-funded media. State-funded media outlets in Russia often publish similar stories to the ones seen on these deceptive sites.


Furthermore, officials in China and Iran, in addition to Russia, often share the claims found on these sites on their social media feeds, the report found. The head of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, Lea Gabrielle, told AP that what makes the Russian disinformation strategy effective is that “it’s difficult for the average person online to look at these sites and know the Russian affiliation.” Most of the sites examined by the State Department were directly connected to the Kremlin in one way or another. One site, Canadian-based Global Research, frequently publishes articles written by fabricated authors created by the GRU – Russia’s military intelligence service. A different site, NewsFront, is registered to the Russian government.

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Remember that Facebook, Google et al are banned in China.

Trump Issues Executive Orders Against Chinese Owners Of TikTok And WeChat (F.)

President Trump signed a pair of executive orders on Thursday prohibiting Americans from doing business with Beijing-based ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, as well as transactions related to the app WeChat with its owner, the Chinese tech giant Tencent, beginning September 20, in an effort to bar the social media platforms from the U.S. due to national security concerns. Both orders are set to take effect in 45 days, though they will likely be challenged in court. Microsoft is in talks to purchase the operations of TikTok in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, a deal that Trump says he would support after initially expressing disapproval, and the two sides are hoping to complete a deal by September 15, which is before the 45-day deadline (at least three other companies are also vying to purchase TikTok).


The Trump administration had been threatening such a move for weeks over national security concerns, and on Friday the president told reporters on Air Force One he would “ban” the video-sharing platform from the U.S. In the orders, the president accused the companies of providing the Chinese government with access to Americans’ data and personal information, “allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.” The White House also alleged that the Chinese government is monitoring WeChat messages to keep tabs on Chinese nationals in the U.S. WeChat, a messaging and payments app that has over a billion users, is one of the crown jewels for Tencent, which also has investments in American companies such as Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, and Reddit.

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Tencent is huge, it passed the $500 billion valuation back in 2018. WeChat has a billion users, all outside of China.

Tencent Stock Plummets After Trump Announces Plan To Ban WeChat (CNN)

Tencent stock plunged on Friday after US President Donald Trump moved to ban WeChat, a social media app owned by the Chinese tech giant. Shares in Tencent plummeted as much as 10% in Hong Kong, before paring back some of those losses — though the stock was still down nearly 6% in afternoon trade. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index (HSI) fell 1.8%. The fall came after Trump issued executive orders that would ban WeChat and TikTok, the short-form video app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, from operating in the United States in 45 days if they are not sold by their parent companies.

Trump had already said that he would ban TikTok if a deal for the app is not reached with an American company, but the inclusion of WeChat indicates that Washington is broadening its efforts to restrict some Chinese apps from operating in the United States. The moves to ban the apps represent an “unprecedented intervention by the US government in the consumer technology sector,” according to Paul Triolo, head of geotechnology at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.It also marks the first time the government “has attempted to ban a software application running on millions of mobile phones” in the United States, Triolo wrote in a note on Friday.

A WeChat ban would be a blow to the Chinese diaspora, students and others in the United States who rely on the app to communicate with family, friends and business partners in China. WeChat is the overseas version of Tencent’s widely popular Chinese messaging app Weixin. The app provides a range of services, including instant messaging and the ability to send money to other users. According to the order, a ban would apply to “any transaction that is related to WeChat” made by any person or “any property” subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

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View from Japan.

TikTok Sparks National Security Concerns (Japan Times)

Maybe it is a generational thing, but I don’t get TikTok. The social media app allows users to share brief (15-second) videos — as if I need more opportunities to shorten my attention span. I must be an outlier, though: It is one of the most popular apps of the last two years, with a reported 2 billion downloads, and has 10 million users in Japan, 110 million in the United States and 200 million in India (before it was banned in that country). That extraordinary growth has turned its parent, ByteDance, which acquired the app in 2017, into one of the world’s most valuable startup companies, with a value approximating $150 billion.

Its popularity reflects the creativity it nurtures — and a user’s ability to monetize his or her audience. Followers can send money to video creators they like: Tens of millions of dollars have been “gifted” in the U.S. alone in the last two years. [..] In theory, TikTok poses three distinct risks. The first is that the app is a Trojan horse that can surveil users. That theoretical concern became real a few months ago when researchers discovered that the app accessed users’ clipboards, which could expose sensitive data, including passwords. The company blamed anti-spam features in the software and quickly disabled them. Strike 1.

The second concern is one now raised with every piece of Chinese information technology, whether it’s hardware or software: Because the company is subject to Chinese law, Beijing can and will gain access to all user information it has. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that people should download the app only if they want their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” Again, researchers examined the app and concluded that TikTok’s data collection is consistent with that of similar applications. Will Strafach, an iOS security researcher, was cited in Wired magazine saying that “in context, TikTok appears to be pretty tame compared to other apps.”

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Ai Weiwei is a unique voice on China. “In the 1960s Mao said: “Cut us off? Go ahead – eight years, 10 years, China has everything.“

Think ‘Sanctions’ Will Trouble China? You’re Stuck In The Past (Ai Weiwei)

The Trump administration has floated the idea of sanctioning Chinese officials and members of the Communist party of China. Before we ask whether this is a good idea, let’s ask how Sino-US relations got to this stage. The US cold war with the Soviet Union was over ideology, but today’s standoff with China is different. The Chinese state has no ideology, no religion, no moral agenda. It continues wearing socialist garb but only as a face-saving pretence. It has, in fact, become a state-capitalist dictatorship. What the world sees today is a contest between the US system of free-market capitalism and Chinese state capitalism. How should we read this chessboard?

The post-Mao dictatorship in China has lived by the principle of “repress at home and be open to the world”. It has imported knowhow from abroad. There are an estimated 360,000 Chinese students currently enrolled who have come through America’s open door. Over 40 years, at least a million have returned to China and fed their new technical knowledge into the existing authoritarian structures that have built the dictatorship. It might be the most momentous personnel transfer in history. [..] But did capitalist competition, that ravenous machine that can chew up anything, change China? The regime’s politics did not change a whit. What did change was the US, whose business leaders now approached the Chinese dictatorship with obsequious smiles.

Here, after all, was an exciting new business partner: master of a realm in which there were virtually no labour rights or health and safety regulations, no frustrating delays because of squabbles between political parties, no criticism from free media, and no danger of judgment by independent courts. For European and US companies doing manufacture for export, it was a dream come true. Money rained down on parts of China, it is true. But the price was to mortgage the country’s future. Society fell into a moral swamp, devoid of humanity and difficult to escape. Meanwhile, the west made their adjustments. They stopped talking about liberal values and gave a pass to the dictatorship, in which Deng Xiaoping’s advice of “don’t confront” and Jiang Zemin’s of “lie low and make big bucks” made fast economic growth possible.

[..] Are sanctions the way to go? A foreign ministry spokesperson in Beijing recently remarked words to the effect that the US and China are so economically interlocked that they would amount to self-sanctions. The US, moreover, would be no match for China in its ability to endure suffering. And there he was correct: in dictatorships, sacrifices are not borne by the rulers. In the 1960s Mao said: “Cut us off? Go ahead – eight years, 10 years, China has everything.” A few years later Mao had nuclear weapons and was not afraid of anyone.

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No love lost for the NRA here, but c’mon, less than three months before the elction, the Democrat DA for New York squeezes Deutsche to fork over Trump’s tax records and the Democrat AG of New York all of a sudden goes after the NRA?! Both cases couldn’t have waited a few months? And nobody mentions election tampering?

NRA Files Countersuit Against New York AG Letitia James

The National Rifle Association sued New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday — the same day she brought a case to break up the pro-gun group — claiming she has misused her office to go after the organization for political reasons. “There can be no doubt that the James’s actions against the NRA are motivated and substantially caused by her hostility toward the NRA’s political advocacy,” the Albany Federal court lawsuit alleges. James made a campaign promise to investigate the NRA’s legitimacy as a non-profit organization and carried that torch after she was elected for the AG post because she disagrees with its politics, the suit charges. James “maligned” the group “without a single shred of evidence, nor any sincere belief, that the NRA was violating the New York Not-For-Profit Corporation Law, or any other law,” the court documents allege.

Once in office, James began “to deliver on her campaign promises to retaliate against the NRA for constitutionally protected speech on issues that James opposes,” the court documents allege. The NRA alleges it was forewarned by former AG Eric Schneiderman about a possible investigation into the group, prompting the organization to undertake “a top-to-bottom compliance review of its operations and governance.” And now its “finances are more robust than ever, and it operates to a high standard of compliance” with the law, the court papers claim. This ruffled feathers with some connected to the NRA, who were “discontented with the principled path it had chosen” and it even prompted litigation against the NRA’s former advertising agency Ackerman McQueen, the court papers charge.

And when James then launched her investigation of the NRA in April 2019, three months after taking office, the NRA says it cooperated, providing documents and testimony from employees. “Despite hopes that playing by the rules would procure a just outcome, the NRA has not been treated fairly by James’ office,” the suit says. “James’s threatened, and actual, regulatory reprisals are a blatant and malicious retaliation campaign against the NRA and its constituents based on her disagreement with the content of their speech,” the lawsuit alleges. “This wrongful conduct threatens to destabilize the NRA and chill the speech of the NRA, its members, and other constituents.”

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What’s in it for #julianAssange?

Judge Calls For Assange Testimony In Fox News Civil Suit Over Seth Rich (JTN)

A U.S. federal judge has asked the U.K. to assist in facilitating the testimony of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in a civil suit against Fox News brought by the parents of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn said in a filing on Wednesday that Assange’s evidence “cannot be secured except by the intervention of the English courts,” and that such intervention “would serve to further the international interests of justice and judicial cooperation.” At issue is a civil lawsuit brought by the parents of Rich, who worked in the DNC’s voter expansion division. Rich was shot and killed in July 2016 in Washington, D.C., in what police suspect was a botched robbery.

Conspiracy theories following Rich’s murder alleged that he had been involved in the hacking and subsequent leaking of DNC emails prior to death. The emails were published in part by WikiLeaks. After Rich’s death, Fox News reported that he had had contact with Assange prior to his death. The cable news network subsequently retracted the article, claiming it had not been properly vetteed prior to publication. The following year, Rich’s parents brought suit against Fox over the article, claiming the network had perpetrated intentional infliction of emotional distress against them. Fox in turn has argued that, retraction notwithstanding, the article was not a “sham” as alleged by the plaintiffs.

In her request Wednesday, Netburn said that “evidence regarding the source of the leaked DNC emails and the communications (if any) between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks will be highly material to Fox’s contentions.” “Mr. Assange, as founder of WikiLeaks, is exceptionally suited to provide testimony that will be highly relevant to these issues,” Netburn wrote.

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The only charisties that will be left are the ones run like global corporations. With a CEO who makes $1 million a year and volunteers who do all the work. That’s bad news for the people who rely on them.

Almost Half Of UK Charities For World’s Poorest Set To Close In A Year (G.)

Nearly half of the UK’s small charities working with the world’s poorest people expect to close within the next 12 months due to lack of financial support, a survey has found. Despite most of them seeing a spike in demand for their services during Covid-19, 15% of the charities will be forced to shut their doors within the next six months, and 45% within a year, according to data from the Small International Development Charities Network (SIDCN). The pandemic – predicted to force one in 10 UK charities into bankruptcy by the end of 2020 – has delivered a triple whammy to smaller overseas charities, according to SIDCN. British charities working abroad have not been eligible to apply for the UK government coronavirus community support fund, and many British funders have amended their giving criteria to donate to projects based solely in the UK.

The Department for International Development (DfID)’s merger with the Foreign Office and the subsequent £2.9bn cut to the 2020 overseas aid programme have left little room for small charities to function, said CEO Rita Chadha of the Small Charities Coalition, which supports more than 100 small NGOs. “There are over 10,000 small international charities with an income of under £1m in the UK,” said Chadha. “Their work rarely gets noticed beyond those that they directly work with, but their impact is huge. Helping young girls get an education, providing micro grants for businesses, and investing in clean drinking water is what makes us collectively safer and better. Covid-19 has proven we can no longer afford to think just local.”

[..] SIDCN, which surveyed 53 small charities/nonprofits working overseas with a maximum annual income of £1m, found that 72% had seen an increased demand for their services during the pandemic, with 57% having had to postpone programmes or projects. “The lack of any support for international charities has been debilitating,” one charity head told researchers. “We have had to close the office and cut staff and staff hours but the demands on our now-reduced team have only increased. The amount of funding for immediate partner Covid needs is paltry,”

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While you weren’t looking.

Canada’s Last Fully Intact Arctic Ice Shelf Collapses (R.)

The last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed, losing more than 40% of its area in just two days at the end of July, researchers said on Thursday. The Milne Ice Shelf is at the fringe of Ellesmere Island, in the sparsely populated northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. “Above normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up,” the Canadian Ice Service said on Twitter when it announced the loss on Sunday. “Entire cities are that size. These are big pieces of ice,” said Luke Copland, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa who was part of the research team studying the Milne Ice Shelf.

The shelf’s area shrank by about 80 square kilometers. By comparison, the island of Manhattan in New York covers roughly 60 square kilometers. “This was the largest remaining intact ice shelf, and it’s disintegrated, basically,” Copland said. The Arctic has been warming at twice the global rate for the last 30 years, due to a process known as Arctic amplification. But this year, temperatures in the polar region have been intense. The polar sea ice hit its lowest extent for July in 40 years. Record heat and wildfires have scorched Siberian Russia.

Summer in the Canadian Arctic this year in particular has been 5 degrees Celsius above the 30-year average, Copland said. That has threatened smaller ice caps, which can melt quickly because they do not have the bulk that larger glaciers have to stay cold. As a glacier disappears, more bedrock is exposed, which then heats up and accelerates the melting process. “The very small ones, we’re losing them dramatically,” he said, citing researchers’ reviews of satellite imagery. “You feel like you’re on a sinking island chasing these features, and these are large features. It’s not as if it’s a little tiny patch of ice you find in your garden.”

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Beirut August 2020.

 

 

Carl Sagan 1995

 

 

Let all souls here rest in peace; for we shall not repeat the evil.

 

 

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Aug 062020
 


Laurits Andersen Ring At Breakfast 1898

 

Study Finds 98 “Long-Term” COVID-19 Symptoms Including Baldness (ZH)
Yates Throws “Rogue” Comey Under The Bus Over Flynn Investigation (ZH)
Yates Says Comey Went ‘Rogue’ On Flynn (SAC)
The D.C. Circuit Did Not ‘Bungle’ The General Flynn Case (F.)
This Is My Letter to America (Michael Flynn)
Twitter’s Comms Director Is Kamala Harris’ Former Press Secretary (DH)
Biden Leads Trump By 3 Points In National Poll (Hill)
Russian Bankers Seek Christopher Steele’s Testimony About His Dossier Source
Deutsche Bank Gave Donald Trump Financial Records To New York Prosecutors (G.)
Facebook Launches TikTok-Like Product Inside Instagram (R.)
China’s Leaders Face Global Resistance (Asia Times)

 

 

When former ADA Sally Yates testifies in the Senate, you would expect coverage everywhere. But the MSM entirely ignores it. Compare that to Bill Barr in the House last week. So it’s not in the interest of the public to know that Yates blamed James Comey for many things that went wrong? In whose interest is it to ignore the story?

That will be the story for the next three months, and the NYT, WaPo and CNN will not tell you, unless they perceive of an angle that looks bad for Trump. Your news is pre-cooked and bland.

I’ve accepted that I need to go to the right-wing press to get some of the stories I find relevant, but I don’t want only the right wing view. Alas, there is no balanced news anymore.

 

 

We’re at almost 2 million new cases per week.

 

 

 

 

If US deaths fall under 1,000 daily, I can lose this graph. Not too relevant anyway. But over 1,000 is just too high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No surprise for a disease that primarily affects your blood. It goes everywhere.

Study Finds 98 “Long-Term” COVID-19 Symptoms Including Baldness (ZH)

[..] in a study published recently by the University of Indiana School of Medicine happened on a surprising finding: those who suffer from long-term symptoms of the coronavirus – a group that the researchers nicknamed “long haulers” after a Facebook group where many go for help – can experience all kinds of surprising symptoms, including baldness (for both men and women). The study was conducted by a doctor at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the grassroots COVID-19 survivor group Survivor Corps using a Facebook poll that was shared with a group of “long haulers”, whom the researchers thanked for sharing their time and experience.


The CDC has identified only 17 persistent COVID-19 symptoms, but the survey of more than 1,500 patients found 98 possible symptoms, according to Dr. Natalie Lambert, an associate research professor who worked on the study. “The new symptoms our study identified include severe nerve pain, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, blurry vision and even hair loss,” Lambert said in a written statement. While the CDC guidelines are helpful for the vast majority of COVID-19 sufferers, for those who are severely affected by the virus, a much broader world of potential symptoms opens up. Many of these symptoms aren’t included on the CDC’s list of common COVID-19 symptoms. And until now, the medical community hadn’t really recognized these symptoms as potentially tied to SARS-CoV-2.

In the report, the authors wrote that “the mismatch between the health problems people are experiencing and the information that they can find from official health sources is noticeable and a potential cause for concern,” outlining the motivation for their study. To be sure, media reports have documented a degree of versatility in virus symptoms. Some seriously ill patients experienced damage to their hearts along with the lungs and the vascular system – these symptoms, and the puzzle they presented for epidemiologists, were widely reported. [..] other symptoms, including “brain, whole body, joints, eye, and skin symptoms are also frequent-occurring health problems for people recovering from COVID-19”, [the team] wrote in the study. Another finding of the survey is that many “long haulers” who suffer from these extended symptoms report high levels of pain – 26.5% reported painful symptoms.

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Plenty headlines suggesting she told lie after lie. Let’s see if she gets called on them.

Yates Throws “Rogue” Comey Under The Bus Over Flynn Investigation (ZH)

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates threw former FBI Director James ‘higher loyalty’ Comey under the bus on Wednesday, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI’s January, 2017 interview of former national security adviser Michael Flynn was done without her authorization – and she was upset when she found out about it. “I was upset that Director Comey didn’t coordinate that with us and acted unilaterally,” Yates said. We would note that Yates wasn’t too upset to warn the incoming Trump administration about Flynn just 48 hours after the FBI launched a perjury trap against him. Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Yates: “Did Comey go rogue?” – to which Yates replied “You could use that term, yes.”

“Yates said she also took issue with Comey for not telling her that Flynn’s communications with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were being investigated and that she first learned about this from President Barack Obama during an Oval Office meeting. Yates said she was “irritated” with Comey for not telling her about this earlier. That meeting, which took place on Jan. 5, 2017, was of great interest to Graham, who wanted to know why Obama knew about Flynn’s conversations before she did. Graham and other Republicans have speculated that Obama wanted Flynn investigated for nefarious purposes. Yates claimed that this was not the case, and explained why Obama was aware of the calls at the time.” -Fox News

Yates testified that Obama wanted to find out why the Kremlin suddenly backed down from threats to retaliate against sanctions over 2016 election meddling, leading to the DOJ’s discovery of the communications between Flynn and the ambassador, Sergei Kislyak. “The purpose of this meeting was for the president to find out whether – based on the calls between Ambassador Kislyak and Gen. Flynn – the transition team needed to be careful about what it was sharing with Gen. Flynn,” said Yates – who suggested that the meeting was not about influencing an investigation, which she added would have “set off alarms for me.”

Yates was also asked whether former VP Joe Biden brought up the 1799 Logal Act at a January 5 Oval Office meeting about the Flynn investigation, which prohibits American citizens from communicating with foreign governments or officials without authorization “in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.” Yates said she couldn’t recall if Biden mentioned it – but had a vague recollection of Comey bringing it up either at the Oval Office meeting or later. Later during testimony, Yates said that she had no idea that the FISA applications to spy on the Trump campaign were riddled with false evidence – and also denied knowledge that her own deputy, Bruce Ohr, had facilitated meetings between the FBI and UK operative Christopher Steele, who assembled the infamous Clinton-funded dossier which was used to support the FISA warrant against former campaign aide Carter Page. Yates claimed that if she knew this was the case, she wouldn’t have signed off on the warrant.

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“..the FBI by January, 2017 had issued an internal classified memorandum that revealed that the bureau had no derogatory information on Flynn, nor anyone associated with him.”

Yates Says Comey Went ‘Rogue’ On Flynn (SAC)

Graham wanted to know why Obama knew about Flynn’s conversations before Yates did. Graham’s concerns, then and now, are based on the long tumultuous history between Obama and Flynn during the last years of his tenure. That, coupled with mounting evidence that the FBI continued to pursue Flynn and members of Trump’s team based on no evidence or falsified evidence. Flynn, who was the director of the Defense Intelligence agency during the Obama administration, had confronted Obama on his failure to adequately inform the American people about the growing threat of terrorist organizations. Moreover, Flynn had vehemently disagreed with Obama’s Iran policy and was eventually fired by Obama from his position at the DIA.

Yates, however, said that Obama was aware of the Flynn calls at the time because “the purpose of this meeting was for the president to find out whether – based on the calls between Ambassador Kislyak and Gen. Flynn – the transition team needed to be careful about what it was sharing with Gen. Flynn.” [..] Yates was also angry that the agents sent by Comey – Special Agent Peter Strzok and Special Agent Joe Pientka – did not inform Flynn that they were in possession of the conversations he had with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during December, 2016.


Testimony and information obtained during numerous congressional and DOJ Inspector General investigations reveals that the agents appeared to attempt to entrap Flynn. Ironically, Flynn was so open about his conversation and many other topics that the agents returned to FBI headquarters believing the three-star general did not lie to them. However, that didn’t stop Strzok, the lead agent, from continuing to pursue an unsubstantiated case against Flynn that was not predicated on any real tangible evidence. In fact, the FBI by January, 2017 had issued an internal classified memorandum that revealed that the bureau had no derogatory information on Flynn, nor anyone associated with him.

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Rare coverage from someone outside the right, in this case Forbes.

The D.C. Circuit Did Not ‘Bungle’ The General Flynn Case (F.)

A week ago Monday former federal appellate judge Michael Luttig took to The New York Times to attack the D.C. Circuit’s handling of the General Michael Flynn case. In an at times misleading and oddly vituperative op-ed, Mr. Luttig accuses the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit of not having “understood its own case” and of “bungl[ing] perhaps the most consequential political constitutional case in recent memory.” Serious charges from a respected sometime jurist would raise concerns if they were true; fortunately, a closer examination reveals that they are not. Judge Neomi Rao’s well-crafted and carefully reasoned opinion for the court, which veteran Judge Karen Henderson joined in full, covers the legal ground quite capably.

But it is worth debunking some of the external criticism targeting the Flynn panel majority’s mandamus ruling, if only to counteract any misimpression that something untoward happened in this important—albeit unduly politicized—appeal. Mr. Luttig’s piece gives a breezy description of how federal district court judge Emmet Sullivan responded to the government’s Rule 48(a) motion to dismiss the charges against General Flynn. He writes: “Judge Sullivan scheduled a hearing to determine whether to give that approval. Mr. Flynn, in turn, asked the higher court, the Court of Appeals, to dismiss his prosecution now, before Judge Sullivan decides whether to dismiss it.” Reading that abbreviated account, which skips much controversial context, could leave an observer wondering what all the hubbub is about.


Luttig does not just bury the lede, he practically buries the whole story. He omits how far out in the future the hearing was scheduled. He never mentions Judge Sullivan’s appointment of an amicus to “present arguments in opposition to the government’s Motion to Dismiss.” Nor that this amicus, retired federal district judge John Gleeson, had just published a Washington Post op-ed calling for harsher treatment of Flynn. Nor does Luttig note Sullivan’s highly unusual invitation for other amici to weigh in on charges in a criminal case. Nor that Sullivan had turned away some two dozen requests earlier in the proceedings for amicus briefs in Flynn’s favor. He also neglects to point out that Sullivan asked his appointed amicus to assess whether Gen. Flynn perjured himself (either in pleading guilty or in seeking to withdraw his guilty plea). Finally, he fails to describe Mr. Gleeson’s apparent intention to investigate conduct by the Department of Justice (DOJ) outside the record.

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The man’s been treated really badly, but what kind of letter is this?

This Is My Letter to America (Michael Flynn)

We are witnessing a vicious assault by enemies of all that is good, and our president is having to act in ways unprecedented in decades, maybe centuries. The biblical nature of good versus evil cannot be discounted as we examine what is happening on the streets of America. It’s Marxism in the form of antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement versus our very capable and very underappreciated law enforcement professionals, the vast majority of whom are fighting to provide us safe and secure homes, streets and communities. When the destiny of the United States is at stake, and it is, the very future of the entire world is threatened. As Christians, shouldn’t we act? We recognize that divine Providence is the ultimate judge of our destiny.

Achieving our destiny as a freedom-loving nation, Providence compels us to do our part in our communities. It encourages us in this battle against the forces of evil to face our fears head-on. No enemy on earth is stronger than the united forces of God-fearing, freedom-loving people. We can no longer pretend that these dark forces are going to go away by mere prayer alone. Prayers matter, but action is required. This action is needed at the local, state and federal levels. Action is also required in the economic, media, clerical and ecclesiastical realms. Decide how you can act within your abilities. Stand up and state your beliefs. Be proud of who you are and what you stand for.


And face, head-on, those community “leaders” who are willing to allow dark forces to go beyond peaceful protests and destroy and violate your safety and security. Churches and houses of worship must return to normal. We invite everyone of goodwill to not shirk their responsibilities and instead act in a fraternal fashion. If for no other reason or with no other ability, act in a spirit of charity. We cannot disrespect or disregard natural law along with our own religious liberties and freedoms. I am witnessing elderly people lose their connection to all that is good in their lives: connections to their faith, their families and their individual freedoms, especially the simple act of attending church, something they’ve been doing for decades.

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Harris not long ago wanted Trump thrown off Twitter altogether.She got halfway there.

Twitter’s Comms Director Is Kamala Harris’ Former Press Secretary (DH)

The communications director for Twitter, who happens to be Kamala Harris’ former press secretary, tweeted on Wednesday that the platform has required President Donald Trump’s campaign delete a tweet containing an interview with the president from their official account. Communications Director Nick Pacilio wrote that “the original Tweet from @TeamTrump is in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation, and we’ve required removal.” The removal order comes after President Donald Trump quote tweeted their post, which was a video that they say contained “coronavirus misinformation.” During the interview, President Trump stated that kids are “almost immune” to Covid-19.


“The Tweet you referenced is in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation. The account owner will be required to remove the tweet before they can tweet again,” Twitter said in a statement to USA TODAY. Facebook has also removed the video, citing a similar reason. “This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” Facebook said in a statement. The interview in question was with Fox & Friends and aired Wednesday morning. When asked during the White House briefing later that day about his assertion, Trump said: “If you look at children, they are able to throw it off very easily and it’s an amazing thing, because some flus they don’t, they get very sick. … They seem to be able to handle it very well, and that’s according to every statistic.”

Huber

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That’s a whole lot less than all the double digit polls I’ve seen.

Biden Leads Trump By 3 Points In National Poll (Hill)

If the 2020 Presidential election were held today, 43 percent of voters would vote for former Vice President Joe Biden while 40 percent would chose President Trump, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s lead fell from a 7 percentage points in a July 17-20 survey to 3 percentage points in this August 2-5 poll. Five percent of voters said they would cast their ballots for someone else if the election were held today, while 3 percent said they do not plan to vote. Nine percent of registered voters in the poll are still unsure. The survey found Trump made gains among voters in two key demographics.


Support among Midwestern voters rose from 38 percent two weeks ago to 42 percent in this most recent poll. Support for Biden among the same group fell from 45 percent to 39 percent. The president also edges out Biden among independents in the latest poll, with 35 percent support, a 4 percentage point increase from last survey. By contrast, 33 percent of independents prefer Joe Biden as their candidate for president. The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted online among 2,850 registered voters between August 2 and 5. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.84 percentage points.

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And how is this not a story? It’s like Concord Management all over again. But if only the Daily Caller reports it, I’m supposed to ignore it too?

Russian Bankers Seek Christopher Steele’s Testimony About His Dossier Source (DC)

Lawyers for a trio of Russian bankers are seeking testimony in the U.S. from Christopher Steele regarding his contacts with Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst said to be the primary source for the former British spy’s infamous dossier on President Donald Trump. The bankers, who own Alfa Bank, asked a federal judge in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to submit a formal request to the British court system to compel Steele’s testimony in a defamation lawsuit against opposition research firm Fusion GPS and its co-founder, Glenn Simpson. Lawyers for the bankers said in the court filing that information from Steele regarding Danchenko is “relevant to the reliability” of the dossier. It could also show whether Fusion GPS knew that Danchenko was Steele’s source, and whether information in the dossier regarding Alfa Bank was inaccurate before they shared it with journalists in 2016.

The Alfa Bank owners, Mikhail Fridman, Peter Aven and German Khan, are suing Fusion GPS and Simpson, over a Sept. 14, 2016 memo from the dossier that alleged the bankers had an “illicit” relationship with Vladimir Putin, and had bribed him for decades. Lawyers for the bankers are required to submit a request for international judicial assistance because the targets are all British citizens and are not required to comply with subpoenas filed in the U.S. Danchenko, a Russian national who lives in Washington, D.C., was identified last month as Steele’s primary source of information for the dossier. Lawyers for the Alfa trio said that Steele’s interactions with Danchenko are relevant to the lawsuit because the information would show whether the ex-spy distributed the dossier “negligently or recklessly.” “It is expected that Mr. Steele will be able to provide crucial and relevant testimony on a number of topics,” the lawyers said in the court filing.


They are seeking Steele’s testimony and documents regarding communications with Danchenko from April 1, 2016 to Oct. 3, 2017. They are also seeking information from Steele’s business partner, Christopher Burrows, a Fusion GPS contractor named Edward Baumgartner and Sir Andrew Wood, a former British diplomat who served as a conduit between Steele and Sen. John McCain. Fusion GPS hired Steele on behalf of the law firm for the Clinton campaign in April 2016 to investigate Donald Trump’s possible ties to Russia. Steele, a former MI6 officer, asked Danchenko to collect any information he could on Trump. Danchenko worked as an independent contractor for Steele’s London-based consulting firm, Orbis Business Intelligence. Many of the dossier’s most salacious allegations have either been debunked outright or come under intense scrutiny in the three-plus years since the document was published.

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He made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Deutsche Bank Gave Donald Trump Financial Records To New York Prosecutors (G.)

New York prosecutors investigating Donald Trump’s finances previously issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank, one of the foremost lenders to the president’s business, as part of their inquiry – and the bank complied, according to the New York Times. The office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, is seeking eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax records, but has disclosed little about what prompted the prosecutor and his team to request the records beyond payoffs to women to silence them about alleged affairs with Trump in the past. Lawyers for Vance told a judge in New York on Monday that he was justified in demanding the records from Trump, citing public reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization”.


A report emerged Wednesday that Vance’s office subpoenaed the German lender last year in what the New York Times said was a sign that their criminal investigation into Trump’s business practices is more wide-ranging than previously known. The report noted that this appeared to be the first instance of a criminal inquiry involving Trump and his dealings with Deutsche Bank. The German bank, which has been a longstanding source of financing to Trump’s real estate empire, obeyed the subpoena and handed over records supplied by Trump to the bank during the course of applying for loans, the report said, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the investigation. Trump’s lawyers last month said the grand jury subpoena for the president’s tax returns was issued in bad faith and amounted to harassment.

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TikTok RipOff.

Facebook Launches TikTok-Like Product Inside Instagram (R.)

Facebook rolled out its own version of social media rival TikTok in the United States and more than 50 other countries on Wednesday, embedding a new short-form video service called Reels as a feature within its popular Instagram app. The product immediately got uptake with several celebrities, following a push by Facebook to attract creative talent before launch: actress Jessica Alba posted a video with her family promoting her Honest Company’s masks, while comedian Mindy Kaling showed off an intentionally underwhelming quarantine “workout” routine. Reels’ debut comes days after Microsoft said it was in talks to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations from China’s ByteDance.


ByteDance has agreed to divest parts of TikTok, sources have said, under pressure from the White House, which has threatened to ban it and other Chinese-owned apps over data security concerns. The launch escalates a bruising fight between Facebook and TikTok, with each casting the other as a threat. Both have been eager to attract American teenagers, many of whom have flocked to TikTok in the last two years. Reels was first tested in Brazil in 2018 and then later in France, Germany and India, which was TikTok’s biggest market until the Indian government banned it last month following a border clash with China. Facebook also tried out a standalone app called Lasso which did not gain much traction.

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“So long as the Chinese public, out of nationalism or national loyalty, do not challenge the government narrative, they are safe.”

China’s Leaders Face Global Resistance (Asia Times)

For years, many countries, directly or indirectly, submitted to Beijing’s power to preserve their lucrative trade with China. This bolstered the ego of not only the Communist Party of China but also Chinese netizens, making them believe in China’s power and its rise. By using the country’s economic muscle, the CPC propagated the credibility of its so-called socialism with Chinese characteristics both at home and abroad. Now, however, we have begun to see something different: the world gradually rejecting Chinese economic power. Of course, there are still several developing, relatively small, countries in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere committed to their relations with China. But does that make a big difference if China has lost its grip on powerful partners in the West?

India and the US have tightened their strategic friendship to undermine China. The British government has reversed its policy and banned Huawei from its 5G (fifth generation) telecom network. Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, has strongly condemned the new security law Beijing has imposed on Hong Kong. Sharp differences between China and the European Union have been exposed over many issues such as Hong Kong, cybersecurity and human rights. The EU has thus given a signal that it will hold a “new defensive approach toward China.” Germany was China’s most important stronghold in the EU, but it has suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong and closed Confucius Institutes in many of its universities.


Surprisingly, Australia has emerged as the leading voice pushing an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 and has announced a nearly US$1 billion investment in cybersecurity to challenge the CPC. In response to a Chinese incursion, Japan sent fighter jets to patrol the Senkaku Islands and joined other countries expressing concern over China’s new security law for Hong Kong. After banning 59 Chinese apps recently, India has announced a ban of 47 clones related to China-owned mobile applications. India is the biggest market for Chinese information-technology companies. Do the leaders in Beijing think that they are losing the diplomatic fight? “If you [look] from the perspective of China, it is not losing,” Dibyesh Anand, China-India geopolitical expert at the University of Westminster, said at the Oxford Tibetan Summer School Conference. “So long as the Chinese public, out of nationalism or national loyalty, do not challenge the government narrative, they are safe.”

Read more …

 

 

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75 years ago today.

 

 

Obamagate

 

 

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Aug 032020
 


W. Eugene Smith Orson Welles 1941

 

Supporters Urge Joe Biden Not to Debate Trump (NW)
Kansas Should Go F— Itself (Matt Taibbi)
How Congress Maintains Endless War (Zuesse)
White House Says Not Optimistic On Near-Term Deal For COVID Relief Bill (R.)
The Fed Is Planning To Send Money Directly To Americans In Next Crisis (ZH)
Fed’s Kashkari Suggests 4-6 Week Shutdown (R.)
Tech Stock Buybacks Are Surging (ZH)
America’s Monopoly Problem Goes Way Beyond the Tech Giants (Dayen)
White House Puts Chinese Apps On Notice (SCMP)
Humanity Likely Faces Rapid ‘Catastrophic Collapse’ – Study (NYP)
How The Guardian and New York Times ‘Set Up’ Julian Assange (M.)

 

 

Every single thing about the US will from now on in evolve around party politics. But not in any way that you’ve ever seen.

 

 

Sunday numbers were quite low. But not every state and country reports anymore in the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Hunt Sweden

 

 

They would like that, but debates are a solid tradition. So they’ll try for just the one debate, they’ll try for a format that includes a teleprompter, they’ll try for factcheckers that can interrupt Trump all the time in the same way the House did with Bill Barr.

This piece even implies that Trump beat Hillary only because he was telling lies all the time.

Supporters Urge Joe Biden Not to Debate Trump (NW)

Democratic strategists and supporters of Vice President Joe Biden are urging him not to debate President Donald Trump in the lead-up to Election Day, citing Trump’s publicity stunts and disregard for the rules in 2016. Meanwhile Biden backers, including some conservatives, applauded the University of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan for cancelling their scheduled debates over COVID-19 concerns. Former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart joined several Democratic Party strategists in bluntly advising Biden, “whatever you do, don’t debate Trump.” Speaking on CNN Saturday, Lockhart said Trump shouldn’t be given another platform which will enable him to “repeat lies,” which he said occurred in the 2016 debates against Hillary Clinton.

The Trump campaign has pushed the other way and urged the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which officially oversees the events, to hold even more debates. “We saw in the debates in 2016 Hillary Clinton showed a mastery of the issues, every point she made was more honest and bested Trump,” Lockhart told CNN. “But Trump came out of the debates doing better I think because he just kept repeating the same old lies: ‘we’re going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it,’ ‘we’re going to keep all those Mexican rapists out of the country,’ and ‘we’re going to make great trade deals’ — none of these things have come to pass.” “Giving him that national forum to continue to spout — get him to 21,000 or 22,000 lies — I think just isn’t worth it for the Democrats or for Biden,” Lockhart continued.

Several opinion columns published in recent months have called for an outright cancellation of the debates, describing them — alongside the party conventions — as outdated political rituals designed purely for TV ratings. Longtime Democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton senior adviser Zac Petkanas agreed with calls for Biden to back out of any and all debates with Trump in the coming months. As it stands currently, there are three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate scheduled between September 29 and October 22. “Biden shouldn’t feel obligated to throw Trump a lifeline by granting him any debates at all. This is not a normal presidential election and Trump is not a legitimate candidate,” Petkanas tweeted last week, expressing his “opinion that no one asked for.”

Mussolini

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“The difference today is that enlightened liberals are the ones mouthing this age-old anti-populist catechism.”

Thomas Frank published What’s the Matter with Kansas? in 2004. His new book is The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism.

Kansas Should Go F— Itself (Matt Taibbi)

The new conception of populism, as popularized by historians like Richard Hofstadter, pitted the common run of voters against a growing class of elite-educated managerial professionals, philosopher-kings who set correct policy for the ignorant masses. The model of enlightened government for this new “technocratic” class of “consensus thinkers” was John Kennedy’s “Camelot” cabinet of Experts in Shirtsleeves, with Robert McNamara’s corporatized Pentagon their Shining Bureaucracy on a Hill. This vision of ideal democracy has dominated mainstream press discourse for almost seventy years.

Since the establishment of this template, Frank notes, “virtually everyone who writes on the subject agrees that populism is ‘anti-pluralist,’ by which they mean that it is racist or sexist or discriminatory in some way… Populism’s hatred for ‘the elite,’ meanwhile, is thought to be merely a fig leaf for this ugly intolerance.” Trump and Bernie Sanders both got hit with every cliché described in Frank’s book. Both were depicted as xenophobic, bigoted, emotion-laden, resistant to modernity, susceptible to foreign influence, and captured by “unrealistic” ideas they lacked the expertise to implement. At the conclusion of The People, No, Frank sums up the book’s obvious subtext, seeming almost to apologize for its implications:

“My point here is not to suggest that Trump is a “very stable genius,” as he likes to say, or that he led a genuine populist insurgency; in my opinion, he isn’t and he didn’t. What I mean to show is that the message of anti-populism is the same as ever: the lower orders, it insists, are driven by irrationality, bigotry, authoritarianism, and hate; democracy is a problem because it gives such people a voice. The difference today is that enlightened liberals are the ones mouthing this age-old anti-populist catechism.”

[..] The book’s concept also reflects the Sovietish reality of post-Trump media, which is now dotted with so many perilous taboos that it sometimes seems there’s no way to get audiences to see certain truths except indirectly, or via metaphor. The average blue-state media consumer by 2020 has ingested so much propaganda about Trump (and Sanders, for that matter) that he or she will be almost immune to the damning narratives in this book. Protesting, “But Trump is a racist,” they won’t see the real point – that these furious propaganda campaigns that have been repeated almost word for word dating back to the 1890s are aimed at voters, not politicians.

In the eighties and nineties, TV producers and newspaper editors established the ironclad rule of never showing audiences pictures of urban poverty, unless it was being chased by cops. In the 2010s the press began to cartoonize the “white working class” in a distantly similar way. This began before Trump. As Bernie Sanders told Rolling Stone after the 2016 election, when the small-town American saw himself or herself on TV, it was always “a caricature. Some idiot. Or maybe some criminal, some white working-class guy who has just stabbed three people.”

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But there’s still only one war party, which sits its fat ass across the aisles.

“Glenn Greenwald gave an hour-long lecture on how America’s billionaires control the U.S. Government..”

How Congress Maintains Endless War (Zuesse)

The Intercept, 9 July 2020 – 2:45: There is “this huge cleavage between how members of Congress present themselves, their imagery and rhetoric and branding, what they present to the voters, on the one hand, and the reality of what they do in the bowels of Congress and the underbelly of Congressional proceedings, on the other. Most of the constituents back in their home districts have no idea what it is that the people they’ve voted for have been doing, and this gap between belief and reality is enormous.” Four crucial military-budget amendments were debated in the House just now, as follows: • to block Trump from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. • to block Trump from withdrawing 10,000 troops from Germany • to limit U.S. assistance to the Sauds’ bombing of Yemen • to require Trump to explain why he wants to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty

On all four issues, the pro-imperialist position prevailed in nearly unanimous votes — overwhelming in both Parties. Dick Cheney’s daughter, Republican Liz Cheney, dominated the debates, though the House of Representatives is now led by Democrats, not Republicans. Greenwald (citing other investigators) documents that the U.S. news-media are in the business of deceiving the voters to believe that there are fundamental differences between the Parties. “The extent to which they clash is wildly exaggerated” by the press (in order to pump up the percentages of Americans who vote, so as to maintain, both domestically and internationally, the lie that America is a democracy — actually represents the interests of the voters).

16:00: The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee — which writes the nearly $750B annual Pentagon budget — is the veteran (23 years) House Democrat Adam Smith of Boeing’s Washington State. “The majority of his district are people of color.” He’s “clearly a pro-war hawk” a consistent neoconservative, voted to invade Iraq and all the rest. “This is whom Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats have chosen to head the House Armed Services Committee — someone with this record.” He is “the single most influential member of Congress when it comes to shaping military spending.” He was primaried by a progressive Democrat, and the “defense industry opened up their coffers” and enabled Adam Smith to defeat the challenger.

That’s the opening. Greenwald went on, after that, to discuss other key appointees by Nancy Pelosi who are almost as important as Adam Smith is, in shaping the Government’s military budget. They’re all corrupt. And then he went, at further length, to describe the methods of deceiving the voters, such as how these very same Democrats who are actually agents of the billionaires who own the ‘defense’ contractors and the ‘news’ media etc., campaign for Democrats’ votes by emphasizing how evil the Republican Party is on the issues that Democratic Party voters care far more about than they do about America’s destructions of Iraq and Syria and Libya and Honduras and Ukraine, and imposing crushing economic blockades (sanctions) against the residents in Iran, Venezuela and many other lands.

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We saw this coming from miles away: no better opportunity for both sides to blame the other. Screw the people, it’s about power.

White House Says Not Optimistic On Near-Term Deal For COVID Relief Bill (R.)

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Sunday he was not optimistic on reaching agreement soon on a deal for the next round of legislation to provide relief to Americans hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. “I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term,” Meadows said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” as staff members from both sides were meeting to try to iron out differences over the bill. Democrats were standing in the way of a separate agreement to extend some federal unemployment benefits in the short-term while negotiations continue on an overall relief package, he said. “We continue to see really a stonewalling of any piecemeal type of legislation that happens on Capitol Hill,” Meadows said. “Hopefully that will change in the coming days.”


Lawmakers and the White House have been unable to reach an accord for a next round of economic relief from a pandemic that has killed more than 150,000 Americans and triggered the sharpest economic collapse since the Great Depression. Both sides said on Saturday they had their most positive talks yet. But there was no sign of movement on the biggest sticking point – $600 per week in extra federal unemployment benefits for Americans that has been a lifeline for millions of jobless Americans and expired on Friday. Asked about efforts to renew the expired emergency federal jobless benefits, Pelosi said, referring to Trump: “He’s the one standing in the way of that.”

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Because we badly need central bakers to interfere in politics. How far away are we from MMT here?

The Fed Is Planning To Send Money Directly To Americans In Next Crisis (ZH)

Over the past decade, the one common theme despite the political upheaval and growing social and geopolitical instability, was that the market would keep marching higher and the Fed would continue injecting liquidity into the system. The second common theme is that despite sparking unprecedented asset price inflation, price as measured across the broader economy (at least using the flawed CPI metric) would remain subdued (as a reminder, the Fed is desperate to ignite broad inflation as that is the only way the countless trillions of excess debt can be eliminated and yet it has so far failed to do so).

The Fed’s failure to reach its inflation target has sparked broad criticism from the economic establishment, even though as we showed in June, deflation is now a direct function of the Fed’s unconventional monetary policies as the lower yields slide, the lower the propensity to spend. In other words, the harder the Fed fights to stimulate inflation, the more deflation and more saving it spurs as a result (incidentally this is not the first time this “discovery” was made, in December we wrote “One Bank Makes A Stunning Discovery – The Fed’s Rate Cuts Are Now Deflationary”). In short, ever since the Fed launched QE and NIRP, it has been making the situation it has been trying to “fix” even worse, all the while blowing a massive asset price bubble.


And having recently accepted that its preferred stimulus pathway has failed to boost the broader economy, the blame has fallen on how monetary policy is intermediated, specifically the way the Fed creates excess reserves which end up at commercial banks instead of “tricking down” all the way to the consumer level. To be in the aftermath of the covid pandemic shutdowns the Fed has tried to short-circuit this process, and in conjunction with the Treasury it has launched “helicopter money” which has resulted in a direct transfer of funds to US corporations via PPP loans, as well as to end consumers via the emergency $600 weekly unemployment benefits which however are set to expire unless renewed by Congress as explained last week, as Democrats and Republicans feud over which fiscal stimulus will be implemented next.

And yet, the lament is that even as the economy was desperately in need of a massive liquidity tsunami, the funds created by the Fed and Treasury (now that the US operates under a quasi-MMT regime) did not make their way to those who need them the most: end consumers. Which is why we read with great interest a Bloomberg interview published on Saturday with two former central bank officials: Simon Potter, who led the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s markets group i.e., he was the head of the Fed’s Plunge Protection Team for years, and Julia Coronado, who spent eight years as an economist for the Fed’s Board of Governors, who are among the innovators brainstorming solutions to what has emerged as the most crucial and difficult problem facing the Fed: get money swiftly to people who need it most in a crisis.


The response was striking: they two propose creating a monetary tool that they call recession insurance bonds, which draw on some of the advances in digital payments, which will be wired instantly to Americans. As Coronado explains the details, Congress would grant the Federal Reserve an additional tool for providing support—say, a percent of GDP [in a lump sum that would be divided equally and distributed] to households in a recession.

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And while we’re at it, let the Fed regulate the lockdowns too. Such monetary wizards must be good at everything.

Fed’s Kashkari Suggests 4-6 Week Shutdown (R.)

The U.S. economy could benefit if the nation were to “lock down really hard” for four to six weeks, a top Federal Reserve official said on Sunday, adding that Congress can well afford large sums for coronavirus relief efforts. The economy, which in the second quarter suffered its biggest blow since the Great Depression, would be able to mount a robust recovery, but only if the virus were brought under control, Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “If we don’t do that and we just have this raging virus spreading throughout the country with flare-ups and local lockdowns for the next year or two, which is entirely possible, we’re going to see many, many more business bankruptcies,” Kashkari said.


“That’s going to be a much slower recovery for all of us.” He said Congress is positioned to spend big on coronavirus relief efforts because the nation’s budget gap can be financed without relying on foreign borrowing, given how much Americans are saving. “Those of us who are fortunate enough to still have our jobs, we’re saving a lot more money because we’re not going to restaurants or movie theaters or vacations,” Kashkari said. “That actually means that we have a lot more resources as a country to support those who have been laid off,” he said.

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When you let this continue, you’re not trying to let the economy recover.

Tech Stock Buybacks Are Surging (ZH)

Two months ago, we showed that contrary to conventional wisdom and corporate reps and warrants that buybacks had effectively been put on hold for the duration of the covid pandemic, not only were companies still repurchasing their shares but it was the tech names – those who have stormed higher since the March lows – that were the biggest culprits. Now, two months after we first revealed Wall Street’s worst kept secret, the Financial Times has also noticed that Corporate America is finding it hard to kick the share buyback habit, even after the US slipped into its worst recession in decades.

While total buybacks are indeed expected to drop this year as the downturn caused by coronavirus saps corporate profits, companies in the S&P 500 that have reported second-quarter earnings so far have reduced the number of their outstanding shares by an average of 0.3 per cent from the previous quarter, according to calculations from Credit Suisse. Furthermore, updates showed that some of the largest US multinationals continued to buy back their own stock or even accelerated stock repurchases and nowhere more so than the tech names we first highlighted at the end of May. Take Google’s parent company Alphabet, which spent $6.9bn on buybacks for the quarter, up 92% from a year prior, the company revealed in its earnings results last Thursday.

Microsoft, the second-largest listed US company, purchased $5.8bn of its own stock in the period, up 25% from a year earlier, and likely among the chief reasons for the stock’s amazing surge. Elsewhere, Biogen spent $2.8bn on buybacks for the period, up 17% from last year, WR Berkley, an insurer, did not buy any of its shares in the second quarter last year, but spent $97m on its stock in the period this year, and Celanese increased its planned buybacks for the year by $500m to $1.5bn in July, after selling its stake in a Japanese joint venture. Of course, the biggest source of buybacks was once again Apple, which repurchased $16BN in the second quarter, down 6% on the period last year, though by far the biggest stock repurchaser among S&P 500 companies in recent years.

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Preventing monopolies was once one of Washington’s main preoccupations.

America’s Monopoly Problem Goes Way Beyond the Tech Giants (Dayen)

The truth is that, even if Congress somehow decreed the breakup of all four tech giants, the U.S. would still have an astounding number of industries controlled by a tiny number of firms. That’s because the structure of modern capitalism favors companies that operate at once-unimaginable scale, in the absence of a government will to prevent monopolies from forming. Lawmakers and the public should be concerned about the surveillance networks by which Facebook and Google—which dominate the digital-advertising market—track users, build data profiles on them, and serve them customized ads. But millions of rural Americans cannot access the internet to begin with, in part because telecom companies harass, fight, and induce state legislatures to pass laws restricting municipal broadband.

Across America, people send their kids to Starbucks parking lots to piggyback on the wifi and complete their homework. Amazon’s rapidly expanding e-commerce empire—and the potential consequences for Main Streets and municipal tax bases across the country—is definitely worth worrying about. But among the other forces squeezing out small retailers are dollar stores, a market segment dominated by two firms that together have about six times more outlets in America than Walmart. Last summer in Marlinton, West Virginia, I saw a Dollar General right next door to a Family Dollar. Despite the pandemic, Dollar General still plans to open 1,000 new stores in 2020. Software developers who want to sell apps to iPhone users must do so through Apple’s App Store, which spells out rules that they must follow and collects up to 30 percent of sales.

This is little different from the situation of small farmers, who must raise livestock to the exacting specifications of the meatpacking giants and can lose their livelihoods on those companies’ whims. And just as Amazon sometimes undercuts the smaller third-party sellers that use its platform, Big Agriculture competes directly with smaller suppliers; the top four hog firms, which control around two-thirds of the market, typically own farms, slaughterhouses, warehouses, and distribution trucks, every step from the pig trough to the dinner table. Whether you are shopping for pacemakers, sanitary napkins, or wholesale office supplies, you will find very few sellers. You think you have choices in grocery aisles or at car-rental counters, but the majority of consumer products come from a handful of companies.

Competition is hardly stiff when even many store brands are just renamed versions of market-leading products; at Costco, the batteries come from Duracell and the coffee from Starbucks. To focus the discussion of monopoly on the tech sector is to minimize the scope of a problem long in the making. Forty years ago, the government essentially stopped policing industry concentration. The conservative legal theorist Robert Bork—later a failed Supreme Court nominee—and his allies in the law-and-economics movement argued that any merger making businesses more efficient must be approved, and that a larger scale generally increases efficiency. Bork’s analysis gained enormous power in the courts and the Reagan administration. The lawyers and the bankers who handled mergers and acquisitions loved it.

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Pelosi and Schumer agree.

White House Puts Chinese Apps On Notice (SCMP)

US President Donald Trump will take action against TikTok, WeChat and “countless” Chinese software companies that pose a national security threat to America, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday, apparently widening the scope of attention the US government is paying to online tech platforms developed in China. “These Chinese software companies doing business with the United States, whether it’s TikTok or WeChat, there are countless more … are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party their national security apparatus,” Pompeo said in a Fox News interview. “It could be their facial recognition pattern, it could be information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends who they’re connected to.”

“Those are the issues President Trump’s made clear we’re going to take care of,” Pompeo said. “He will take action in the coming days with respect to a broad array of national security risks that are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party.” Focusing on TikTok specifically, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whose department is overseeing a national security review of the company, said on Sunday that the company will need to be blocked in the US or sold to another company. Pompeo’s warning to Chinese software companies came as Trump agreed to give the Chinese internet giant ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a sale of the popular short-video app to Microsoft, according three people familiar with matter, Reuters reported.

[..] The mobile platform, which lets users create and share 15 second videos with custom music clips, has built a huge user base in the US, particularly within younger age brackets. Mnuchin added that he had spoken with Chuck Schumer, the most senior Democrat in the Senate, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also a Democrat, about the issue and that they all agree that a sale or a block on the site would be necessary, using the authority of International Emergency Economic Powers Act, if needed. Responding to the drumbeat of comments about TikTok over the past week, the company’s general manager for US operations, Vanessa Pappas, told users on Saturday that the company was working to give them “the safest app” and that “We’re not planning on going anywhere”.

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Too much repetition makes people look away.

Humanity Likely Faces Rapid ‘Catastrophic Collapse’ – Study (NYP)

It’s not the news you want to hear during a global health crisis. In a new theoretical study appearing in Nature Scientific Reports, a pair of statistical researchers have warned that rampant human consumption has sent us on a tailspin towards a rapid “catastrophic collapse” — which could happen in the next two to four decades. Forest density, or the current lack thereof, is considered the cataclysmic canary in the coal mine, according to the report. By comparing the rate of deforestation against humanity’s rate of consumption, study authors Mauro Bologna and Gerardo Aquino have determined there’s a 90% chance our species will collapse within decades — calling this estimate an “optimistic” measure.

“Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low probability, less than 10% in most optimistic estimate, to survive without facing a catastrophic collapse,” they wrote. While much attention has been paid to the ways in which greenhouse gases have contributed to the demise of our species, Aquino focused mathematical models on the “undeniable fact” of human-driven deforestation. “Before the development of human civilizations, our planet was covered by 60 million square kilometers [37 million square miles] of forest,” according to the article. “As a result of deforestation, less than 40 million square kilometers [25 million square miles] currently remain.”

The researchers set out to “evaluate the probability of avoiding the self-destruction of our civilization” based on numerical simulations — charts and graphs that don’t look like much to us laymen, but for two theoretical physicists, they amount to disaster. They also call into play “Fermi’s paradox,” which refers to the theoretical discussion of extraterrestrial life from Enrico Fermi, an Italian physicist who once asked, “Where is everybody?” One aspect of the discourse is the idea that self-destruction caused by unsustainable environmental exploitation may be an inevitability of intelligent life — and thus a potential reason why we have not yet had the opportunity to meet our galactic neighbors.

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From February, but highly relevant today.

How The Guardian and New York Times ‘Set Up’ Julian Assange (M.)

[..] as the War Logs’ mutually-agreed publication deadline loomed, both the Times and Guardian grew increasingly anxious about being associated with the material. His film, shot just prior to the release, documents this transformation in real-time — in one highly illuminating segment, Assange informs Gavin MacFayden, then-director of the University of London’s Centre for Investigative Journalism, the New York Times has requested WikiLeaks ‘scoop’ them by publishing analysis of the Afghan War Logs first. The ‘naivety’ Davis referenced is palpably on display — “they want to report on our reporting, so they can claim they’re not involved!” Assange splutters bemusedly, in evident disbelief a newspaper would be actively resistant to publishing a seismic exclusive.

As Davis attested, the footage makes for thoroughly “chilling” viewing in the present day, given Assange is “now in jail as a result of that subterfuge”. Simultaneously, Assange himself was also growing increasingly anxious, in his case about the identities of informants and other individuals featured in the logs being revealed — no effort had been made by Guardian journalists to remove a single one, and despite repeated requests he wasn’t provided with staff or technical support to redact them. As a result, the WikiLeaks chief took up the “moral responsibility” for the files — his requests for publication to be delayed in order to give him enough time to adequately “cleanse” the documents were ignored, so he was compelled to “literally work all night” to redact around 10,000 names, Davis said.

In a perverse irony, the documentarian also exposed how despite Assange ultimately acquiescing to publishing the Logs Sunday 25th July 2010 in order to allow The Guardian and Times to ‘report’ on the story the next day, the plan was disrupted by technical issues with the WikiLeaks website. As Assange struggled to get the content online, Davis said he was inundated with “panicked, hysterical calls” from The Times and Guardian, which grew more frenzied as the day wore on — the two outlets were literally on the verge of ‘stopping the presses’, as the front-page splashes on the Afghan War Logs were entirely predicated on the notion WikiLeaks had published the documents the day prior.

It would take several days for WikiLeaks to publish the War Logs — The Guardian and Times nevertheless ran their scheduled stories on 26th July 2010, reporting on the release of the logs, despite the fact they hadn’t actually appeared on the WikiLeaks website. “Julian was their fall guy. They printed a lie. These two high priests of journalistic integrity very happily colluded, reporting on something that hadn’t happened. The entire searchable Afghan War Logs interface was the sole creation of The Guardian, they promoted it on their website and in the paper, but then they turned round and said ‘we didn’t publish this, Julian did’. They set him up from the start. They should be in jail too,” Davis concluded.

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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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A 1968 cartoon.

 

 

Easily Tweet of the day. Hands down.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 012020
 


Inge Morath Street Corner at World’s End London 1954

 

100s Of Georgia Campers Infected With Corona At YMCA Camp In Days – CDC (WSB)
College Students Who Get Tested Every Two Days Can Return To Campus Safely (F.)
Visiting People At Home Banned In Parts Of Northern England (BBC)
Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Pandemic (Sav)
Trump Says Will Ban TikTok Through Executive Action As Soon As Saturday (CNBC)
US Dollar Net Shorts Soar To Highest In Nine Years (R.)
Eurozone Economy Records Its Deepest Contraction On Record In Q2 (R.)
The End of Housing as We Know It (TNR)
Judge Rips Into Ghislaine Maxwell As Sealed Documents Begin To Emerge (McC)
US Appeals Court Delays Release Of Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition (R.)
UK Government Refuses To Release Information About Assange Judge (DecUK)
When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Get Punked (Kunstler)
The Triumph Of Small People In An Era Of Great Events (Turley)
Susan Rice’s Testimony on Being Out of Russiagate Loop Doesn’t Add Up (RCI)

 

 

WHO posted a new record, Worldometer is 195 cases short. Numbers remain stubbornly high. US deaths at 1462 vs two consecutive days of 1465. No progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taleb WHO 1

Taleb 2

 

 

“We’ve confirmed YMCA Camp High Harbor is the un-named camp in new @CDCgov camp outbreak investigation. 51% of campers ages 6-10 contracted COVID19.”

100s Of Georgia Campers Infected With Corona At YMCA Camp In Days – CDC (WSB)

A CDC report released Friday reveals that hundreds of campers at a north Georgia YMCA camp were infected with coronavirus in just days before the camp was shut down. Channel 2 Action News has confirmed that the report documents COVID-19 cases at the YMCA’s Camp High Harbor on Lake Burton in Rabun County. According to the report, of the 597 residents who attended the camp, 344 were tested and 260 tested positive for the virus. The camp was only open for four days before being shut down because of the virus, and officials followed all recommended safety protocols. In total, the virus attacked 44% of the children, staff members and trainees who attended the camp.

The CDC said that what happened at High Harbor shows that earlier thinking that children might not be as susceptible to COVID-19 is wrong. According to the report, the age group with the most positive coronavirus tests was 6 – 10 years old. Under Gov. Kemp’s executive orders, overnight summer camps in Georgia were allowed to open on May 31. All campers and staff members had to test negative for the coronavirus before attending. Channel 2 Action News first reported on June 24 that a teenage counselor at the camp tested positive for the virus. Camp officials started sending campers home on June 24 and shut the camp down on June 27. Camp Harbour’s second location at Lake Allatoona in Bartow County was also closed.

“The counselor… passed the mandated safety protocols and screening, inclusive of providing a negative COVID-19 test, before arriving at camp and did not exhibit any symptoms upon arrival,” officials said. “In fact, all counselors and campers attending passed all mandatory screenings.” The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) was notified and initiated an investigation. DPH recommended that all attendees be tested and self-quarantine, and isolate if they had a positive test result. By July 10, 85 campers and staff members had tested positive. “These findings demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 spread efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups, despite efforts by camp officials to implement most recommended strategies to prevent transmission,” the report said.

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Until the first one comes in infected.

College Students Who Get Tested Every Two Days Can Return To Campus Safely (F.)

A study published today says that college students living on campus can be kept safe from contracting the coronavirus if they are tested every two days for Covid-19. The study pegs the cost at $470 per student per semester. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Open Network, the study was authored by researchers from the Yale School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. One interesting finding: Even when tests aren’t 100% accurate, if they are given with the study’s recommended frequency, they ensure a safe environment for students. The researchers used a computer simulation where they took a hypothetical pool of 4,990 healthy students and exposed them to 10 students infected with the virus.

They assumed that students would be on campus for an abbreviated 80-day semester, which is the plan at many schools that have said they are reopening campuses. The study also said students who test positive should quarantine in an isolated setting. The model assumed that students would strictly follow safety precautions like frequent handwashing, wearing masks indoors, “limited bathroom sharing with frequent cleaning, dedensifying campuses and classrooms and other best practices.” But the study’s lead author, A. David Paltiel, a professor at Yale’s school of public health, says he and his team also took into account the fact that students would occasionally deviate from safety protocols. “Colleges aren’t going to be able to create a hermetically sealed, walled garden,” he says.

“We assumed that once in a while students would go to a face-to-face party or a dining hall worker who traveled on the subway would come into contact with a student or somebody would cough on a student.” Even with occasional exposure, getting a rapid-response test every two days would make it safe for students to live on campus, he says. In the Boston area, inexpensive, quick-turnaround nasal swab tests are being made available from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The tests will be provided at cost, for $25-$30 each. Schools will administer the tests and the institute will process them within 24 hours.

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But they can meet up in the pub?!

Visiting People At Home Banned In Parts Of Northern England (BBC)

Millions of people in parts of northern England are now facing new restrictions, banning separate households from meeting each other at home after a spike in Covid-19 cases. The rules impact people in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire. The health secretary told the BBC the increase in transmission was due to people visiting friends and relatives. Labour criticised the timing of the announcement – late on Thursday night. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast the government had taken “targeted” action based on information gathered from contact tracing, which he said showed that “most of the transmission is happening between households visiting each other, and people visiting relatives and friends”.


The new lockdown rules, which came into force at midnight, mean people from different households will not be allowed to meet in homes or private gardens. They also ban members of two different households from mixing in pubs and restaurants, although individual households will still be able to visit such hospitality venues. The changes come as Muslim communities prepare to celebrate Eid this weekend, and nearly four weeks after restrictions were eased across England – allowing people to meet indoors for the first time since late March. The same restrictions will apply in Leicester, where a local lockdown has been in place for the last month. However, pubs, restaurants and other facilities will be allowed to reopen in the city from Monday, as some of the stricter measures are lifted.

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Simple is elegant.

Podcast: https://www.econtalk.org/nassim-nicholas-taleb-on-the-pandemic/

Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Pandemic (Sav)

On Societal Risk There’s a big difference between risks that simply lead to different outcomes and risks of ruin, particularly on the systemic level. We should be worrying about multiplicative risks — such as pandemics. On the other hand, car accidents are not a societal risk of ruin, as car accidents don’t lead to other car accidents. If you found out that 1 billion people died in a single year, and didn’t know how, your guess wouldn’t be car accidents. It would be something fat-tailed like nuclear war or pandemics. It’s worthwhile figuring out what the systemic risks that we should be avoiding are — it liberates us and allows us to take lots of risks elsewhere.

On Personal Risk If you don’t behave conservatively, you’ll increase collective risk dramatically because risk due to pandemics doesn’t scale linearly. You wear a mask more for the systemic effect, not to mitigate personal risk. Prudence on the individual level may seem like ‘overreacting’, and it would be ‘rational’ not to overreact. However, it’s important to note that rationality doesn’t scale; what’s rational for the collective may seem irrational for you personally. People doing the right thing will look irrational.

How to Deal With Pandemics Any infectious disease with over 1000 deaths can be considered a pandemic. If the count is below that, you don’t have to worry about it. If above, it means you’re dealing with a fat-tailed event. Treat all pandemics the same way — the moment they kill 1000, take measures. The most effective way to prevent pandemics is to do systemic quarantine. Follow a protocol and don’t take chances — it was foolish to quarantine people only coming from China, as the virus could have came from anywhere (and it did). Reduce connectivity. Close borders. You don’t need cases at 0, just make sure that the cases don’t overwhelm your system. Identify superspreaders. Subways, elevators, big gatherings, things like that. Do this for all pandemics, no matter how impactful, until we figure out the specific properties of the one we’re dealing with.

Absence of Evidence ≠ Evidence of Absence For example, if you have no evidence of cases, it doesn’t mean you have no cases. Or if you have no evidence that masks work, it doesn’t mean that masks don’t work. Err on the side of prudence when dealing with risks of ruin. “If you don’t know if masks work, wear them.”

The central idea of the Incerto is: when you have uncertainty in a system, it makes your decision making much much easier rather than harder. “If I tell you that I’m not certain about the quality of this water, would you drink it?” “If I tell you that we have uncertainty about the pilot’s skills — he could be excellent, but we’re not sure — would you get on the plane?”

The WHO Initially, WHO, CDC, and others said not to wear masks. The WHO made two mistakes. First, they didn’t realize scaling: if the probability of infection is p, if both people wear masks it becomes p squared. For example, if p=0.50, both people wearing a mask would lower p to 0.25. Second mistake: if I reduce the viral load by half, I don’t decrease probability of infection by half — I may decrease it by 99%. That’s because the probability of infection is nonlinear — it’s an S-curve. In addition, they lied because they were worried about a mask shortage. People’s instincts were much better than what the WHO, CDC, etc advised. “All of these people are completely incompetent when it comes to basic things that your grandmother gets.” Have the WHO removed — it’s a bureaucratic organization that has been harmful to mankind by telling people not to wear masks.

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Good thing for him that schoolgirls don’t vote.

Trump Says Will Ban TikTok Through Executive Action As Soon As Saturday (CNBC)

President Donald Trump on Friday told reporters he will act as soon as Saturday to ban Chinese-owned video app TikTok from the United States, NBC News reported. Trump made the comments while chatting with reporters on Air Force One during the flight back to Washington from Florida. “As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said, calling the action a “severance.” Trump did not specify whether he will act through an executive order, or another method. such as a designation, according to NBC News. “Well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that,” Trump said.


Trump’s comments come as it was reported Friday that Microsoft has held talks to buy the TikTok video-sharing mobile app from Chinese owner ByteDance, one person close to the situation told CNBC. This person characterized the talks as having been underway for some time, rather than being brand new. Trump told reporters that he didn’t support the reported spinoff deal involving Microsoft buying TikTok, NBC News reported. A TikTok acquisition could make Microsoft, a major provider of business software, more concentrated on consumer technology, which Microsoft has moved away from somewhat in recent years, by exiting the smartphone hardware, fitness hardware and e-book markets.

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The casino is open and the house always wins.

US Dollar Net Shorts Soar To Highest In Nine Years (R.)

Speculators’ net short U.S. dollar positioning soared to the highest level since August 2011, according to calculations by Reuters and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday. The position hit $24.27 billion in the week ended July 28, up from $18.81 billion the prior period. U.S. net shorts rose for a fourth straight week as bets against the greenback have persisted since mid-March. U.S. dollar positioning was derived from net contracts of International Monetary Market speculators in the Japanese yen, euro, British pound, Swiss franc as well as the Canadian and Australian dollars. In a wider measure of dollar positioning that includes net contracts on the New Zealand dollar, Mexican peso, Brazilian real, and Russian ruble, the U.S. dollar posted a net short position of $24.53 billion, compared with net shorts of $19.37 billion the week before.


This week’s net short position was largest since April 2018, according to Reuters data. In contrast, net euro longs hit a record high, CFTC data showed. Net euro longs were 157,559 contracts this week. The greenback has struggled over the last few months, driven by factors including near-zero interest rates as well as Federal Reserve measures that flooded the international market with dollars via swap lines. The buck was down about 10% from the year’s high hit in March against a basket of currencies. On Friday the dollar fell to its lowest in more than two years. “The combination of falling real rates and rising risk assets has been a dominating force across markets over the past few months, which has likely contributed to the dollar sell-off over the same period,” said Goldman Sachs in a research note on Friday.

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And with the euro surging vs the USD, the EU economy is crashing.

Forget about the inflation talk, velocity of money is in the gutter. Sure some prices may rise for a bit, everyone’s trying to stay alive. But who has the money left to afford the higher prices? Or better yet: who will by Christmas?

Eurozone Economy Records Its Deepest Contraction On Record In Q2 (R.)

The euro zone’s economy recorded its deepest contraction on record in the second quarter, preliminary estimates showed on Friday, while the bloc’s inflation unexpectedly ticked up in July. In the months from April to June, gross domestic product in the 19-country currency bloc shrank by 12.1% from the previous quarter, the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said in its flash estimates. The deepest GDP fall since the time series started in 1995 coincided with coronavirus lockdowns which many euro zone countries began to ease only from May. The contraction was slightly more pronounced than market expectations of a 12.0% fall, and followed the 3.6% GDP drop recorded in the first quarter of the year.

Among the countries for which data were available, Spain posted the worst output slump, with its economy shrinking by 18.5% quarter-on-quarter, worse than expected and wiping out all the post-financial crisis recovery of the last six years. GDP in Italy and France also fell sharply but less than forecast, respectively by 12.4% and 13.8%. Germany, the largest economy in the bloc, saw a 10.1% contraction in the second quarter, worse than expectations of a 9.0% slump. Inflation continued instead its upward trend, defying expectations of a slowdown, supporting the European Central Bank’s expectation that a negative headline reading may be avoided. Eurostat said consumer prices in the bloc rose 0.4% on an annual basis in July from 0.3% in June and 0.1% in May. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a 0.2% increase in July.

Underlying price pressure also accelerated. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, a key measure watched by the ECB, inflation rose by 1.3% from 1.1% in June, Eurostat’s flash estimates showed. An even narrower gauge, which also excludes alcohol and tobacco, jumped to 1.2% from 0.8% in June. The acceleration in headline inflation was driven by higher prices of industrial goods which rose by 1.7% after a 0.2% increase in June. Food, alcohol and tobacco prices went up by 2.0% on the year, but slowed from the 3.2% rise recorded in June. Energy prices fell by 8.3% in July, after plunging 9.3% in June.

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The bottom is falling out.

The End of Housing as We Know It (TNR)

In 2018, 44 percent of New York renter households paid at least 30 percent of their incomes on rent. Half of those were severely rent-burdened, spending more than half of their incomes on housing. Relief is also hard to come by: For a family of three earning less than $30,720 a year—a household that would be classified by the city as “extremely low income”—there are 650 applications for each apartment in the affordable housing lottery. This was before the pandemic. In the months since, an untold number of New York’s working-class immigrants have lost their jobs, with some social service organizations in the city reporting that upward of 90 percent of their immigrant clients are out of work, according to a study by the Center for an Urban Future.

The city comptroller’s office found that 900,000 fewer New Yorkers reported working in May than in February, with job losses mostly concentrated among people of color and young people. Now, with temporary protective measures like rent moratoriums lasting only through the end of the pandemic and enhanced unemployment benefits set to expire (and with millions of undocumented immigrants shut out of many of those protections in the first place), New York City is on the brink of a new phase of its long-festering housing crisis. “They do not have to worry about what we have been through,” Ramirez, who has been on rent strike with other tenants in her building since March, said of the big landlords who own buildings like hers. “They do not worry about what their children are going to eat, what they are going to do, what is going to happen with that.”

[..] A recent report by Americans for Tax Fairness shows that the wealth of New York’s billionaires increased by $77 billion from March to June. Juxtapose that obscene accumulation of wealth to the $9 billion deficit New York City is facing for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Despite this, Governor Andrew Cuomo balked at calls to tax the wealthy to fill the shortfall that might result in cutbacks to vital services and, after public pressure, offered a mere $100 million in relief through the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal. And instead of providing support for renters, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio approved a budget that cuts investment in affordable housing by 40 percent.

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Nice set of names. Let the denials emerge.

Judge Rips Into Ghislaine Maxwell As Sealed Documents Begin To Emerge (McC)

A much-anticipated batch of newly unsealed documents from a settled defamation suit began trickling out Thursday night over the objections of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of sex trafficking and alleged to be the madam of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. In a 2015 e-mail Epstein advised Maxwell to return to the high-society world the two had inhabited without any shame. “You have done nothing wrong and i would urge you to start acting like it,” Epstein wrote. “[G]o outside, head high, not as an escaping convict. go to parties. deal with it.” Maxwell, awaiting trial in a federal prosecution, had delayed the planned release of the documents from a 2015 civil suit by filing objections at the last minute, provoking the ire of U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska. The judge ruled last week that the documents should be unsealed.

“The Court is troubled — but not surprised — that Ms. Maxwell has yet again sought to muddy the water as the clock clicks closer to midnight,” Preska wrote in a filing denying a request from Maxwell’s lawyers for an emergency phone conference. They argued, unsuccessfully, that the documents threaten her defense and complained she had already been convicted by the media. The judge had allowed two key depositions to be exempt from release while Maxwell filed an appeal Thursday with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. But Preska ordered a second large tranche of documents from the case settled in 2017 unsealed and released Thursday night.

[..] That same transcript also names people who traveled with Epstein. While many of the names have been publicly linked to Epstein before, seeing them in the context of the document was jarring. Giuffre tells of celebrities traveling with Epstein like magician David Copperfield, model Naomi Campbell, former Sony Records President Tommy Mottola and Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of the famed undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau. Giuffre also provides a sworn statement about former President Bill Clinton visiting Epstein’s Little St. James Island. “When you say you asked him why is Bill Clinton here, where was he?” Giuffre was asked in her deposition, answering, “On the island.”

In the newly released 24-page transcript of “Document 16,” Giuffre added that two young girls from New York and Maxwell were on the island at the same time as Clinton, who has denied any improper relations. So have the numerous men she identified. The earlier documents also included the names of a number of men whom Giuffre said she and other victims were directed to have sex with, including former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Hyatt hotels magnate Tom Pritzker, the late scientist Marvin Minsky, modeling scout Jean-Luc Brunel, and prominent hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin.

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Well, she has one win. But it’s Pyrrhic.

US Appeals Court Delays Release Of Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition (R.)

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the order after last-ditch scrambles by Maxwell to keep potentially embarrassing information, which her lawyer said could make it “difficult if not impossible” to find an impartial jury, out of the public eye. Maxwell’s appeal will be heard on an expedited basis, with oral argument scheduled for Sept. 22. Her deposition had been taken in April 2016 for a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit against the British socialite by Virginia Giuffre, who had accused Epstein of having kept her as a “sex slave” with Maxwell’s assistance. Dozens of other documents from that case were released late on Thursday, after the presiding judge concluded that the public had a right to see them.= The release of Maxwell’s deposition had been scheduled for Monday, pending the outcome of the appeal.


[..] In seeking to keep Maxwell’s deposition sealed, her lawyers said in court papers on Thursday she had been promised confidentiality by Giuffre’s lawyers and the presiding judge at the time, through an agreed-upon protective order, before answering many personal, sensitive and “allegedly incriminatory” questions about her dealings with Epstein. They said further that Maxwell was blindsided when prosecutors quoted from the deposition in her indictment, and accusing Giuffre of leaking the deposition to the government. In a court filing on Friday, Giuffre’s lawyers called Maxwell’s appeal “frivolous, and a transparent attempt to further delay the release of documents to which the public has a clear and unequivocal right to access.” The lawyers also called the allegation Giuffre leaked the deposition “completely and utterly false.”

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This is not about something being rotten IN the state, this is a rotten state. It’s the core.

UK Government Refuses To Release Information About Assange Judge (DecUK)

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice is blocking the release of basic information about the judge who is to rule on Julian Assange’s extradition to the US in what appears to be an irregular application of the Freedom of Information Act, it can be revealed. Declassified has also discovered that the judge, Vanessa Baraitser, has ordered extradition in 96% of the cases she has presided over for which information is publicly available. Baraitser was appointed a district judge in October 2011 based at the Chief Magistrate’s Office in London, after being admitted as a solicitor in 1994. Next to no other information is available about her in the public domain.

Baraitser has been criticised for a number of her judgments so far concerning Assange, who has been incarcerated in a maximum security prison, HMP Belmarsh in London, since April 2019. These decisions include refusing Assange’s request for emergency bail during the Covid-19 pandemic and making him sit behind a glass screen during the hearing, rather than with his lawyers. Declassified recently revealed that Assange is one of just two of the 797 inmates in Belmarsh being held for violating bail conditions. Over 20% of inmates are held for murder. Declassified has also seen evidence that the UK Home Office is blocking the release of information about home secretary Priti Patel’s role in the Assange extradition case.

A request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was sent by Declassified to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) on 28 February 2020 requesting a list of all the cases on which Baraitser has ruled since she was appointed in 2011. The MOJ noted in response that it was obliged to send a reply within 20 working days. Two months later, on 29 April 2020, an information officer at the HM Courts and Tribunals Service responded that it could “confirm” that it held “some of the information that you have requested”. But the request was rejected since the officer claimed it was not consistent with the Constitutional Reform Act. “The judiciary is not a public body for the purposes of FOIA… and requests asking to disclose all the cases a named judge ruled on are therefore outside the scope of the FOIA,” the officer stated.

A British barrister, who wished to remain anonymous, but who is not involved with the Assange case, told Declassified: “The resistance to disclosure here is curious. A court is a public authority for the purposes of the Human Rights Act and a judge is an officer of the court. It is therefore more than surprising that the first refusal argued that, for the purposes of the FOIA, there is no public body here subject to disclosure.” The barrister added: “The alternative argument on data doesn’t stack up. A court acts in public. There is no default anonymity of the names of cases, unless children are involved or other certain limited circumstances, nor the judges who rule on them. Justice has to be seen to be done.”

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“..selling postcards of the hanging..”

When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Get Punked (Kunstler)

The election itself is another front in this undeclared civil war. How exactly did the Democratic Party come to settle on a candidate with no credible capacity to serve as president? Who is Joe Biden fronting for, and who do they think they’re fooling? How can he possibly deliver an acceptance speech three weeks from now without giving away the game? That will be something to see — but I doubt we will actually see it. If the Dems don’t switch him out, there is no way Mr. Biden can survive the three-month homestretch of an election campaign. He can barely make it through a ten-minute appearance in front of twenty-three hand-picked partisans in a TV studio. Life imitates art, as Oscar Wilde tartly observed. The Manchurian candidate is truly here.


Mr. Barr is quite correct when he avers that an election by mail-in ballots is an invitation to fraud. The parallel campaign by the news media to ramp up extra hysteria over the corona virus is designed to ensure that scam. Keeping kids out of school is another angle on it, to plant a narrative that parents can’t possibly leave the house to go to a polling station. Wait for it. The result would be an election that can’t be resolved even by the Supreme Court. What will happen then? I’ll tell you how it goes: Donald Trump will stand aside and yield to the military, to some general or committee of generals, and the country will be under martial law until the election is sorted out or re-run. And by then, the election may be the least of our problems, with tens of millions out-of-work, out-of-business, penniless, homeless, and hungry. That’s when they’ll truly be selling postcards of the hanging, as the old song goes. Then comes America’s Bonaparte moment. Yes, things can get that weird.

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“..the hearing had as much class as a demolition derby..”

The Triumph Of Small People In An Era Of Great Events (Turley)

Winston Churchill said, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” If he knew members of the House Judiciary Committee, he could have cut that time in half, as they might convince people that democracy is a failed experiment. The hearing with Attorney General William Barr had been long awaited for weeks as a way to get answers on issues ranging from the controversial clearing of Lafayette Park, to the intervention in the case of Roger Stone, to the violence across various cities. Instead, the public watched as both parties engaged in hours of primal scream therapy, with Barr for the most part forced to remain as silent as some life size anatomical doll. The videos shown by the rival parties captured the utter absurdity of the day.

Republicans played what could only be described as eight minutes of virtual “riot porn” for the hard right. By the end, one would think much of the nation is a smoking dystopian hellscape. Democrats then played their alternate reality video showing thousands of protesters chanting together in perfect harmony. Add a soundtrack to the scene and you would have a soda commercial. There was nothing in the middle: either the protests are either our final Armageddon or the Garden of Eden. After testifying recently on the Lafayette Park controversy, I was one of those who had great expectations for answers to significant questions. Instead, Democrats dramatically demanded answers and then stopped Barr from answering by immediately “taking back the time.” It happened over and over during the hearing. Democrats simply did not want to hear any answers that would undermine the popular narratives.

Several Democrats insisted the clearing of Lafayette Park was for the sole purpose of a photo for President Trump in front of Saint John Church. Barr sought to explain that there was no connection between the plan formed the weekend before and the photo, but he was stopped by members like Hank Johnson saying “you clearly will not answer the question” before he could even start to answer. It got more and more bizarre. Barr was repeatedly cut off by Democrats, while Republicans, who have done the same thing to witnesses in other hearings, raged against their colleagues. The result was mayhem. While Barr sarcastically referred to Jerrold Nadler as a “real class act” after Nadler refused a request for a break, the hearing had as much class as a demolition derby.

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Lying under oath?!

Susan Rice’s Testimony on Being Out of Russiagate Loop Doesn’t Add Up (RCI)

Rice insisted she knew nothing about the FBI’s counterintelligence probe regarding Trump and Russia, let alone anything that could be characterized as spying on the incoming administration. She had her lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler, write a letter to Sens. Charles Grassley, Dianne Feinstein, Lindsey Graham, and Sheldon Whitehouse. “While serving as National Security Advisor, Ambassador Rice was not briefed on the existence of any FBI investigation into allegations of collusion between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia,” Ruemmler wrote, “and she later learned of the fact of this investigation from Director Comey’s subsequent public testimony” – testimony that didn’t occur until March 20, 2017 On Wednesday, September 8, 2017, Rice repeated that she knew nothing of the FBI’s investigation while in the White House. This time she made the claim under oath.


Rice was at the Capitol, sitting in a secure room used by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The official reason for the interview was to ask what the Obama administration had done to thwart Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Behind those questions was a different query: Had Barack Obama’s team used the power of the presidency to spy on and smear the Trump campaign? With the expectation of facing unfriendly questions, Rice arrived with two attorneys from the law firm Latham & Watkins. The Republican staffer running the interview emphasized to Rice the importance of telling the truth: “You are reminded that it is unlawful to deliberately provide false information to members of Congress or staff.” She was asked to raise her right hand and take an oath: “Madam Ambassador, do you swear or affirm that the testimony you’re about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” “I do,” Rice said.

[..] Comey told Horowitz that in August 2016 “he did mention to President Obama and others at a meeting in the Situation Room that the FBI was trying to determine whether any U.S. person had worked with the Russians in their efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.”“[A]lthough [Comey] did not recall exactly what he said,” Horowitz writes, “he may have said there were four individuals with ‘some association or connection to the Trump campaign.’” This revelation failed to strike anyone at the meeting as remarkable: “Comey stated that after he provided this information, no one in the Situation Room responded or followed up with any questions.” [..] Comey provided Horowitz with a list of those at the meeting. The inspector general shares that list in footnote 194 to his report: President Obama was there, as well as his chief of staff, Dennis McDonough; also present were James Clapper, John Brennan, Michael Rogers and Susan Rice.

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Jul 082020
 


Unknown Strictly no elephants 1939

 

Serious Brain Disorders In People With Mild Coronavirus Symptoms (G.)
Scientists Warn Of Potential Wave Of COVID-Linked Brain Damage (R.)
Dozens Of Florida Hospitals Out Of Available ICU Beds (R.)
Majority Testing Positive Have No Symptoms (BBC)
Stanford’ Ioannidis Says Greece Needs More Aggressive COVID Testing (GR)
Is Strzok Memo the Rosetta Stone of Obamagate? (RCP)
US Judge Says “Tentatively Inclined” To Reject Bayer’s Monsanto Settlement (ZH)
Purdue Pharma Made Political Contributions After Going Bankrupt (IC)
Apple Suddenly Catches TikTok Secretly Spying On Millions Of iPhone Users (F.)
Madness of Political Correctness (Pelerin)
Ghislaine Maxwell Arraignment Scheduled For July 14 (R.)
Ghislaine Maxwell ‘Has Secret Stash Of Epstein Sex Tapes’ (DM)

 

 

Not much good news on the COVID front. But the reported severe nerve- and brain damage is a new low. We still know very little about COVID19, though many people claim otherwise. Can’t be careful enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inflammation of nerves and brains. Psychosis, paralysis.

Serious Brain Disorders In People With Mild Coronavirus Symptoms (G.)

Doctors may be missing signs of serious and potentially fatal brain disorders triggered by coronavirus, as they emerge in mildly affected or recovering patients, scientists have warned. Neurologists are on Wednesday publishing details of more than 40 UK Covid-19 patients whose complications ranged from brain inflammation and delirium to nerve damage and stroke. In some cases, the neurological problem was the patient’s first and main symptom. The cases, published in the journal Brain, revealed a rise in a life-threatening condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (Adem), as the first wave of infections swept through Britain. At UCL’s Institute of Neurology, Adem cases rose from one a month before the pandemic to two or three per week in April and May. One woman, who was 59, died of the complication.

A dozen patients had inflammation of the central nervous system, 10 had brain disease with delirium or psychosis, eight had strokes and a further eight had peripheral nerve problems, mostly diagnosed as Guillain-Barré syndrome, an immune reaction that attacks the nerves and causes paralysis. It is fatal in 5% of cases. “We’re seeing things in the way Covid-19 affects the brain that we haven’t seen before with other viruses,” said Michael Zandi, a senior author on the study and a consultant at the institute and University College London Hospitals NHS foundation trust. “What we’ve seen with some of these Adem patients, and in other patients, is you can have severe neurology, you can be quite sick, but actually have trivial lung disease,” he added.

“Biologically, Adem has some similarities with multiple sclerosis, but it is more severe and usually happens as a one-off. Some patients are left with long-term disability, others can make a good recovery.” The cases add to concerns over the long-term health effects of Covid-19, which have left some patients breathless and fatigued long after they have cleared the virus, and others with numbness, weakness and memory problems. One coronavirus patient described in the paper, a 55-year-old woman with no history of psychiatric illness, began to behave oddly the day after she was discharged from hospital. She repeatedly put her coat on and took it off again and began to hallucinate, reporting that she saw monkeys and lions in her house. She was readmitted to hospital and gradually improved on antipsychotic medication.

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Same topic, different take.

Scientists Warn Of Potential Wave Of COVID-Linked Brain Damage (R.)

Scientists warned on Wednesday of a potential wave of coronavirus-related brain damage as new evidence suggested COVID-19 can lead to severe neurological complications, including inflammation, psychosis and delirium. A study by researchers at University College London (UCL) described 43 cases of patients with COVID-19 who suffered either temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage or other serious brain effects. The research adds to recent studies which also found the disease can damage the brain. “Whether we will see an epidemic on a large scale of brain damage linked to the pandemic – perhaps similar to the encephalitis lethargica outbreak in the 1920s and 1930s after the 1918 influenza pandemic – remains to be seen,” said Michael Zandi, from UCL’s Institute of Neurology, who co-led the study.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is largely a respiratory illness that affects the lungs, but neuroscientists and specialist brain doctors say emerging evidence of its impact on the brain is concerning. “My worry is that we have millions of people with COVID-19 now. And if in a year’s time we have 10 million recovered people, and those people have cognitive deficits … then that’s going to affect their ability to work and their ability to go about activities of daily living,” Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist at Western University in Canada, told Reuters in an interview.

In the UCL study, published in the journal Brain, nine patients who had brain inflammation were diagnosed with a rare condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) which is more usually seen in children and can be triggered by viral infections. The team said it would normally see about one adult patient with ADEM per month at their specialist London clinic, but this had risen to at least one a week during the study period, something they described as “a concerning increase”. “Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause,” said Ross Paterson, who co-led the study. “Doctors need to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes.”

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10,000 new cases per day is a lot for one state.

Dozens Of Florida Hospitals Out Of Available ICU Beds (R.)

More than four dozen hospitals in Florida reported that their intensive care units (ICUs) have reached full capacity on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases surge in the state and throughout the country. Hospital ICUs were full at 54 hospitals across 25 of Florida’s 67 counties, according to data published on Tuesday morning by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration. More than 300 hospitals were included in the report, but not all had adult ICUs. Thirty hospitals reported that their ICUs were more than 90% full. Statewide, only 17% of the total 6,010 adult ICU beds were available on Tuesday, down from 20% three days ago, according to the agency’s website.


Florida’s coronavirus cases have soared in the last month, with the state’s daily count topping 10,000 three times in the last week. The death rate from COVID-19 rose nearly 19% in the last week from the week prior, bringing the state’s death toll to more than 3,800. All ICU beds are filled at the three hospitals in Clay County, where the population is around 220,000. Florida Governor Ron Desantis on Monday encouraged state residents to seek care at hospitals if needed, citing concerns that people with life-threatening conditions other than COVID-19 had avoided hospitals earlier in the pandemic to the detriment of their health.

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Different takes on asymptomatic cases emerging.

Majority Testing Positive Have No Symptoms (BBC)

Only 22% of people testing positive for coronavirus reported having symptoms on the day of their test, according to the Office for National Statistics. This hammers home the role of people who aren’t aware they’re carrying the virus in spreading it onwards. Health and social care staff appeared to be more likely to test positive. This comes as deaths from all causes in the UK fell to below the average for the second week in a row. Between the end of March and June, there were 59,000 more deaths than the five-year average. Meanwhile, the UK government’s daily figures released on Tuesday showed another 155 people have died after testing positive for the virus. This takes the total number of deaths to 44,391.


It comes after 16 new deaths were reported on Monday, but there are often reporting lags over the weekend. While the ONS survey includes relatively small numbers of positive swab tests (120 infections in all) making it hard to make any strong conclusions about who is most likely to be infected, there are some patterns coming through in the data: • Those in people-facing health or social care roles, and working outside their homes in general, were more likely to have a positive test. • People from ethnic minority backgrounds were more likely to have a positive antibody test, suggesting a past infection. • White people were the least likely proportionally to test positive for antibodies. • There was also some evidence that people living in larger households were more likely to test positive than those in smaller households.

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Looks like Greece may very soon have to choose between closing its borders or locking down its own people again.

Stanford’ Ioannidis Says Greece Needs More Aggressive COVID Testing (GR)

After Greece’s opening up to travelers from much of the rest of the world on July 1, the nation has seen a troubling trend in the increasing numbers of coronavirus infections. Currently, as of today, 27 new COVID cases were diagnosed in Greece in the past 24 hours — and 14 of these are tourists. Speaking to Greek Reporter, the noted medical professor Dr. John Ioannidis of Stanford University, an expert in the field of epidemiology, questions the somewhat lax attitude Greece has taken, with its use of an algorithm arrived at by answers on a questionnaire and random testing of arrivals.

“I think it would be useful to require more aggressive (perhaps universal) testing for tourists coming from countries that have low testing rates. Most of these countries make small contributions to the Greek tourism budget anyhow, so one is risking the emergence of an epidemic wave without much tangible financial benefit.” The epidemiologist states “I understand that Greece desperately needs tourism funds, since tourism is responsible for about 20% of the GDP. The Greek and the European COVID task forces include capable scientists and I trust they have put a lot of thought on how to reopen the country to tourism. It is not an easy situation.

“Determining which country is eligible for allowing tourists from is difficult and our knowledge base is incomplete. I just want to caution that it is potentially misleading to base this decision on the number of cases that continue being detected in each country. Countries that deal seriously with coronavirus do more testing and come up with more detected cases. Conversely, countries that do little testing will find few cases, but this does not mean that coronavirus does not exist there.”

“Serbia is one example worth discussing, since 20 of the 36 tourist cases today were from there. In that country, the number of cases looked pretty low, but this was simply because relatively little testing was done. With only 11,000 cases detected in Serbia until the end of May, it is likely that the true number exceeded 200,000. Moreover, apparently there were substantial residual foci of epidemic activity. However, I think this is a problem that may be pertinent to Balkan countries in general. Testing in other Balkan countries is even less frequent than Serbia on a population basis.

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Keep your focus on Sidney Powell and Obama.

Is Strzok Memo the Rosetta Stone of Obamagate? (RCP)

It doesn’t seem to matter to the mainstream media that evidence has mounted into the stratosphere that Trump has been right all along about his campaign being illegally surveilled by the Obama administration. It doesn’t matter that Trump survived a two-plus year investigation by a special counsel and was cleared of any kind of collusion with the Russians. The Democrats and their agents in the Deep State know that whatever they do to harass Trump will be treated as noble and patriotic by the corrupt media, and that whenever evidence surfaces of their criminal behavior it will be promptly buried again.

Which brings us to the infamous handwritten notes by disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok about a White House meeting that surfaced in a recent filing in the Flynn case. Strzok had already earned a prominent place in the “Wish I Hadn’t Done That” Hall of Fame for his serial confession via text message of not just marital infidelity but also constitutional perfidy. But the half-page of notes released by Flynn’s defense team rises to the level of a history-altering “Oops!” Indeed, it could well be the Rosetta stone that allows us to penetrate the secrets of the anti-Trump conspiracy that stretched from the FBI to the CIA, the Justice Department and the White House.

What we know about the provenance of the notes comes from Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell, who said they were written by Strzok about a meeting that took place on Jan. 4, 2017. The only problem is that the cast of characters in the memo duplicates those who were in attendance at the White House on Jan. 5, 2017, to discuss how the Obama administration should proceed in its dealings with Flynn, who was accused of playing footsie with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to assuming his official role as national security adviser. Attorney General William Barr has gone on the record (on the “Verdict With Ted Cruz” podcast) that the notes actually describe the Jan. 5 meeting.

If so, the notes strongly contradict Susan Rice’s CYA “memo to self” where the Obama national security adviser recounts the Jan. 5 meeting and stresses three times that President Obama and his team were handling the Flynn investigation “by the book.” Methinks the lady doth protest too much, especially now that we have Strzok’s contemporaneous notes to contradict her memo, which suspiciously was written in the final minutes of the Obama administration as Donald Trump was being sworn in at the Capitol.

From what we can tell, Strzok (unlike Rice) was not writing his memo to protect anyone. He seems to have merely jotted down some notes about what various participants in the meeting said, including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Rice, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and Strzok’s boss — FBI Director James Comey. Chances are, at this point Strzok had no idea his dirty laundry was going to be aired or that his role as a master of the universe was going to be toppled.

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That settlement makes me think of the one Epstein got, one of those “everything included” deals that make you wonder how legal they can be.

US Judge Says “Tentatively Inclined” To Reject Bayer’s Monsanto Settlement (ZH)

As the EU’s antitrust regulator announces another round of sweeping antitrust investigations into the big US tech behemoths. an American judge is apparently making noises about throwing out a major settlement involving German multinational pharma conglomerate Bayer. According to the settlement, which we reported on a few weeks ago when it was first announced, Bayer had agreed to pay $10 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits brought against it over its purchase of Monsanto, the American agrichemical giant that’s best known for producing Roundup weed killer. The lawsuits stemmed from evidence that glyphosate, one of the primary ingredients of Monsanto’s Roundup, is actually carcinogenic.

Which means that by marketing Roundup into ubiquity, even pairing it with genetically modified crop seeds allowing farmers to spray the stuff then simply forget about it since it wouldn’t harm the crops. A landmark California Court ruling handed down in 2017 found Bayer liable for the plaintiffs’ cancers, since it now owned Monsanto. The mountain of litigation has weighed on Bayer’s share price ever since, making the Monsanto acquisition one of the biggest blunders in the history of the storied German firm. The two sides have been in negotiations virtually ever since, until two weeks ago, when a majority of the plaintiffs agreed to a $10 billion settlement.

BBG News: “U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria wrote in a court filing Monday that a proposed system for dealing with future lawsuits over the herbicide is problematic. Shares of Bayer, which inherited the weedkiller through its purchase of Monsanto, fell as much as 6.9% in Frankfurt, the most intraday since March 23. The judge’s misgivings center on a plan to create a class of future claims as part of the nearly $11 billion settlement. Any change to that portion of the proposal wouldn’t necessarily affect the rest of the deal, in which the company agreed to resolve about 125,000 existing lawsuits. About 30,000 claims, contending that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, are not yet subject to deals between plaintiffs and Bayer. Some U.S. plaintiffs’ lawyers are vowing to file another wave of new suits that could add tens of thousands to that total.“

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America at its ugliest.

Purdue Pharma Made Political Contributions After Going Bankrupt (IC)

Last september, Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy after several cities sued the company for its role in creating the opioid crisis. By going bankrupt, it was able to get all litigation stayed; family members of the over 500,000 victims of the opioid crisis are now just creditors in the bankruptcy. The Sackler family — including Jonathan Sackler, a co-owner of Purdue who died Monday — made off with over $10 billion in company funds. Meanwhile, in December, the Democratic Attorneys General Association accepted $25,000 in donations from the company, according to data collected by Political MoneyLine. Several members of the Association are leading the litigation against Purdue.

In January, the Democratic Governors Association, headed by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, accepted $50,000 from Purdue Pharma, as did the Republican Governors Association, headed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Those donations come as states, including New Jersey, California, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Tennessee, and Vermont, are considering excise taxes on prescription opioids — which would be approved and implemented by governors. While Purdue is not publicly traded and as a result does not have to disclose risk factors to investors, close allies of Purdue, including the Healthcare Distribution Alliance and the lobbying group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, have vocally opposed the taxes.

Fellow pharmaceutical companies Mallinckrodt and Endo International have raised concerns that the taxes could materially affect their bottom line in SEC disclosures. To date just five states — New York, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Maine, and Delaware — have implemented an opioid tax or fee. Adam Levitin, a bankruptcy law professor at Georgetown University, called the donations “astonishing.” “Given the politics of the case, there’s something incredibly brazen about this, such that I’m shocked that Purdue didn’t seek court approval,” Levitin said of the DAGA donation. “That they would give to the Dem AGs, but not the GOP AGs is really problematic given that the most aggressive AGs have been Dems.”

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Simple solution: don’t use TikTok.

Apple Suddenly Catches TikTok Secretly Spying On Millions Of iPhone Users (F.)

As I reported on June 23, Apple has fixed a serious problem in iOS 14, due in the fall, where apps can secretly access the clipboard on users’ devices. Once the new OS is released, users will be warned whenever an app reads the last thing copied to the clipboard. As I warned earlier this year, this is more than a theoretical risk for users, with countless apps already caught abusing their privacy in this way. Worryingly, one of the apps caught snooping by security researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk was China’s TikTok. Given other security concerns raised about the app, as well as broader worries given its Chinese origins, this became a headline issue. At the time, TikTok owner Bytedance told me the problem related to the use of an outdated Google advertising SDK that was being replaced.


Well, maybe not. With the release of the new clipboard warning in the beta version of iOS 14, now with developers, TikTok seems to have been caught abusing the clipboard in a quite extraordinary way. So it seems that TikTok didn’t stop this invasive practice back in April as promised after all. According to TikTok, the issue is now “triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behavior,” and has told me that it has “already submitted an updated version of the app to the App Store removing the anti-spam feature to eliminate any potential confusion.” In other words: We’ve been caught doing something we shouldn’t, we’ve rushed out a fix. TikTok also told me that the platform “is committed to protecting users’ privacy and being transparent about how our app works.” No comment on that one. TikTok added that it “looks forward to welcoming outside experts to our Transparency Center later this year.”

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All US sports teams need to be renamed.

Madness of Political Correctness (Pelerin)

The madness of political correctness is mocked in this e-mail sent to Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune after an article he published concerning a name change for the Washington Redskins. The author is unknown but perceptive, clever and sarcastic:. Dear Mr. Page: I agree with our Native American population. I am highly jilted by the racially charged name of the Washington Redskins. One might argue that to name a professional football team after Native Americans would exalt them as fine warriors, but nay, nay. We must be careful not to offend, and in the spirit of political correctness and courtesy, we must move forward. Let’s ditch the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians. If your shorts are in a wad because of the reference the name Redskins makes to skin color, then we need to get rid of the Cleveland Browns. The Carolina Panthers obviously were named to keep the memory of militant Blacks from the 60’s alive. Gone. It’s offensive to us white folk.


The New York Yankees offend the Southern population. Do you see a team named for the Confederacy? No! There is no room for any reference to that tragic war that cost this country so many young men’s lives. I am also offended by the blatant references to the Catholic religion among our sports team names. Totally inappropriate to have the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Angels or the San Diego Padres. Then there are the team names that glorify criminals who raped and pillaged. We are talking about the horrible Oakland Raiders, the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Pirates! Now, let us address those teams that clearly send the wrong message to our children. The San Diego Chargers promote irresponsible fighting or even spending habits. Wrong message to our children.

The New York Giants and the San Francisco Giants promote obesity, a growing childhood epidemic. Wrong message to our children. The Cincinnati Reds promote downers/barbiturates. Wrong message to our children. The Milwaukee Brewers. Well that goes without saying. Wrong message to our children. So, there you go. We need to support any legislation that comes out to rectify this travesty, because the government will likely become involved with this issue, as they should. Just the kind of thing the do-nothing Congress loves. As a die-hard Oregon State fan, my wife and I, with all of this in mind, suggest it might also make some sense to change the name of the Oregon State women’s athletic teams to something other than “the Beavers” (especially when they play Southern California). Do we really want the Trojans sticking it to the Beavers? I always love your articles and I generally agree with them. As for the Redskins name, I would suggest they change the name to the “Foreskins” to better represent their community, paying tribute to the dick heads in Washington DC.

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Apparently the prison in Brooklyn is a horror.

Ghislaine Maxwell Arraignment Scheduled For July 14 (R.)

Ghislaine Maxwell, the former associate of Jeffrey Epstein, will be arraigned on July 14 on charges of luring underage girls so that the financier, now dead, could abuse them, according to a court order issued Tuesday evening. Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan federal court said a bail hearing would be held at 1 pm EST that day via video conference. Maxwell, 58, arrived at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn on Monday. She was arrested on July 2 at a mansion in New Hampshire, where investigators said she had been lying low. Prosecutors said Maxwell groomed girls so Epstein abuse them at lavish homes in Palm Beach, Florida; New Mexico and Manhattan.


Epstein was awaiting trial on federal charges of trafficking minors between 2002 and 2005 when he was found hanged in a federal facility in Manhattan in August. Medical examiners concluded his death was a suicide. Nathan said on Tuesday that to optimize video quality, only the judge, Maxwell, her lawyer and a prosecutor would appear on video at the hearing. The judge said others could access audio of the hearing by telephone. Maxwell faces up to 35 years in prison.

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It was always about blackmail. But how useful is that to her at this point?

Ghislaine Maxwell ‘Has Secret Stash Of Epstein Sex Tapes’ (DM)

Ghislaine Maxwell has a secret stash of Jeffrey Epstein’s twisted sex tapes and will use the footage as an insurance policy to save herself, a former friend exclusively revealed to DailyMail.com. Maxwell, 58, was arrested at her hideout in Bradford, New Hampshire last Thursday. She was charged with six federal crimes, including enticement of minors, sex trafficking and perjury. The British socialite was arguably Epstein’s closest friend and she is alleged to have acted as his madam, accused of securing underage girls for the multi-millionaire, who reportedly kept evidence of his perverted sex acts against the minors. When officials raided Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse after his arrest last July, they found thousands of graphic photos that included images of underage girls and a safe filled with compact discs labeled ‘nude girls’, according to authorities.

Maxwell’s former friend explained: ‘Ghislaine has always been as cunning as they come. She wasn’t going to be with Epstein all those years and not have some insurance. ‘The secret stash of sex tapes I believe Ghislaine has squirreled away could end up being her get out of jail card if the authorities are willing to trade. She has copies of everything Epstein had. They could implicate some twisted movers and shakers.’ They added: ‘If Ghislaine goes down, she’s going to take the whole damn lot of them with her.’ The former friend continued: ‘Not only did Epstein like to capture himself with underage girls on camera – he wanted to make sure he had something to hold over the rich and powerful men who took advantage of his sick largesse.’

‘I’ll bet anything that once it comes out that Ghislaine has those tapes these men will be quaking in their Italian leather boots. ‘Ghislaine made sure that she socked away thumb drives of it all. She knows where all the bodies are buried and she’ll use whatever she had to save her own a**.’ The day after Epstein’s suicide last August, the New York Times published an account by journalist James B. Stewart who had interviewed Epstein in August 2018. In the course of their conversation, Epstein told Stewart he had filed away dirt on his famous house guests, ‘some of it potentially damaging or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual proclivities and recreational drug use’. Maxwell’s next court appearance is on Friday in New York. She is currently being held without bail.

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Jul 072020
 


Unknown No Dog Biscuits Today 1939

 

China’s Yuan Policy Has Made Hong Kong Redundant (Nikkei)
China Shares Rally, Asian Stocks Take A Breather (R.)
New Security Law Starts To Break Down Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Economy (R.)
TikTok Says It Will Exit Hong Kong Market Within Days (R.)
China Slams US As It Joins Global Arms Trade Treaty At UN (R.)
US Restrictions Drove Deutsche Telekom And Huawei Closer Together (Pol.eu)
US To Force Out Foreign Students Taking Classes Fully Online (R.)
South Korean COVID-19 patient Recovering After Double Lung Transplant (R.)
Hospitalizations Jump 50% In California As Coronavirus Infections Soar (R.)
Six Week Lockdown For Melbourne As Record 191 New Cases Reported (Conv.)
Brazil’s Bolsonaro Says Lungs ‘Clean’ After Coronavirus Test (R.)
US Supreme Court Curbs ‘Faithless Electors’ In Presidential Voting (R.)
California Short on Firefighters as Prison “Slaves” Under Lockdown (MPN)
Assange Lawyer Named French Justice Minister (AAP)

 

 

And all of a sudden (well, not that sudden) there’s so much stuff about China. I started off today reading an article in Nikkei entitled “China’s Yuan Policy Has Made Hong Kong Redundant”, and I thought: that is absolute nonsense. The idea seems to be that Shanghai would take Hong Kong’s place, as the renminbi (yuan) turns into a global currency.

That’s just wishful thinking. Or maybe a reaction to America’s new attitude towards China. The main sticking point for Beijing is a conundrum it cannot solve. The CCP wants to have BOTH a global currency AND total control over that currency. It will have to choose between the two, and cannot make up its mind. So it pretends it does’t have to choose.

Sure, there has been some advancement for the yuan, but I bet most of that is on the back of the Belt and Road (BRI), and that will turn out to be one of the main victims of the coronavirus. The BRI is China’s very clever way of exporting its overproduction, but potential buyers have other things on their mind today.

Meanwhile, even with that, the yuan is used in only 1.8% of cross-currency payments. So the claim that the yuan is used in 30% of China’s trade needs to be taken with a huge salt shaker.

And yes, it may be true that the yuan is now the sixth most used currency in international payments, but that’s only because there is no competition for the USD, and what competition does exist come from the euro.

The sudden, and rushed, take-over of Hong Kong with the new security law will not help China’s plans to be accepted internationally. US big tech is withdrawing, and even some Chinese tech is moving away.

The world’s large investors will not put their money into something that Xi Jinping can declare devalued by 50% on a rainy morning when he sees fit. He will have to cede that kind of control.

And reading through all this, why am I getting the feeling that China does not feel well, that its leaders perhaps have fallen victim to bouts of insecurity?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You can tell someone’s case for the mythical global yuan is not serious when they write “the yuan is now the sixth most used currency in international payments” rather than “the yuan accounts for about 1.8% of cross-currency payments..”

China’s Yuan Policy Has Made Hong Kong Redundant (Nikkei)

Many have claimed that the national security law China has imposed on Hong Kong will be the death of the city, stifling free speech and driving away businesses. But 10 years ago, China made Hong Kong part of a plan which, even more certainly than the national security law, is rendering the city redundant. For years, Hong Kong has been the entrepot for China’s trade in the region — it accounts for 6.3% of China’s total trade — and a leading international financial center. It has provided the infrastructure for the West to invest in mainland China: about two-thirds of foreign direct investment into and from there goes through Hong Kong.

In 2010, China made Hong Kong a critical component of its policy aimed at developing the yuan as an international currency that non-Chinese residents could hold as an asset or use to pay for international transactions. Before 2010, the yuan had almost no international use or circulation, with less than 1% of China’s trade settled in it. The Chinese monetary authorities had to balance the need to have an international currency and the risk of allowing capital to flow freely in and out of the domestic market. In principle, international currencies need to be fully convertible, but for China this was not a viable route.

Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” principle provided the solution to China’s conundrum and has been pivotal to the emergence of yuan-led finance, underpinning rising demand and facilitating the yuan business. Hong Kong’s judicial institutions, independent from mainland China, were at the heart of its role as a bridge between the Chinese planned economy and the Western market economy. The move worked, and although the international use of the Chinese currency remains limited, it has undergone significant growth. The yuan is now the sixth most used currency in international payments and is used for settling approximately 30% of China’s trade. Yuan-denominated financial instruments are used more in projects that are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Yuan activities now account for a large chunk of Hong Kong’s trading as an international financial center, according to estimates by market participants. But rather than making Hong Kong stronger, this increases its dependence on Beijing — and hence its vulnerability. By becoming part of the yuan strategy, a policy-led initiative where Chinese policy makers set the pace and guide the market, Hong Kong has been following Beijing’s lead. A bigger, but related, problem for Hong Kong is that by strengthening the yuan trade, it is also strengthening one of its mainland rivals and making itself less important. Around the time it launched its yuan policy, China also put in place a plan to develop Shanghai as its top international financial center by 2020. According to the latest Global Financial Centres Index, Hong Kong at sixth now ranks lower than Shanghai at fourth. Ten years ago Hong Kong was the most important financial center in Asia and in third place globally after London and New York, while Shanghai ranked 11th.

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Just yesterday, Beijing talked about “fostering a healthy bull market”. And what the Fed can do, the PBOC can too. Buy buy buy.

China Shares Rally, Asian Stocks Take A Breather (R.)

The Chinese share market extended its positive run on Tuesday, in line with the mainland government’s push for a stronger market, while the rest of the region turned cautious on equities. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan see-sawed during the local session and was down 0.2%, after it briefly traded in positive territory. The negative performance on Tuesday came after the index rose 7% which took it to a 4-1/2 month high in the past five trading sessions. Japan’s Nikkei gave up 0.7% while U.S. stock futures shed 0.25% in Asia after hefty gains on Monday in the wake of surging Chinese shares.

In China, Shanghai’s blue chip CSI300 index and Shenzhen shares, which had gained more than 13% in the past five sessions, rose a further 1.5%, led by rises in the tech sector. Ample Finance Group director Alex Wong said while Chinese market sentiment was positive, investors remained cautious to the risk of that being short-lived. “The mood is still quite strong…and I think people will be willing to hold on for a while as we absorb some of the positive news in the world,” Wong told Reuters in Hong Kong. Analysts said jawboning by the Chinese government through a state-sponsored journal on the importance of “fostering a healthy bull market” published on Monday had spurred the buying binge in mainland Chinese shares.

The current China rally has echoes of the past, especially during 2007 and in the buying binge that followed the crash in 2015 that was largely driven by Chinese retail investors. “Shades of John F. Kennedy’s ‘Ask not what your country can do for you’ inauguration speech here and as close as you might get to a Chinese government ‘put’ as anything the Fed has done to date vis-à-vis the U.S. stock (and credit) markets,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at NAB, in a research note.

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The rich can leave if they want to. The rest cannot.

New Security Law Starts To Break Down Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Economy (R.)

As soon as Hong Kong’s new national security law came into force last week, Ivan Ng removed all the protest-themed paintings, posters and flags from the list of items for sale at his Onestep Printing shop. Sandra Leung at Wefund.hk, which sells protest-themed artwork and accessories, said she has suspended sales of protective gear worn by protesters, flags with the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong,” and other items carrying popular chants. Jeffrey Cheong, owner of Hair Guys Salon, said he closed his shop down for a few days last week to remove pro-democracy decorations. Ng, Leung and Cheong are three of the 4,500 or so small businesses in Hong Kong’s “yellow economy,” which supports pro-democracy protesters and vice versa. That circle of support is showing signs of weakening in the face of the new law.

“We took down all the protest-related products right after the law was implemented, because the law doesn’t have very clear boundaries of (what constitutes) subversion,” Ng said. In the past week, he said his overall sales are down as much as 80%. Leung said she had withdrawn items for sale she described as “sensitive,” such as gas masks used by protesters and items with anti-police slogans. The new law prohibits what China describes broadly as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with up to life in prison for offenders. It came into force late last Tuesday, about an hour before the 23rd anniversary of China taking back control of the former British colony.

The Hong Kong government went further on Friday, declaring the popular protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times” illegal. Public libraries have started to review books written by pro-democracy activists to see whether they violate the new law. Hong Kong and Beijing authorities insist the city retains a “high degree of autonomy” but critics say the law effectively brings Hong Kong under the control of China’s Communist Party and violates China’s promise to safeguard Hong Kong’s freedom for 50 years after the 1997 handover. Some businesses told local media they had been visited by the police who warned them that pro-democracy decorations were against the new law.

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Which side of The Great Firewall do you want to be on?

TikTok Says It Will Exit Hong Kong Market Within Days (R.)

TikTok will exit the Hong Kong market within days, a spokesman told Reuters late on Monday, as other technology companies including Facebook suspend processing government requests for user data in the region. The short form video app owned by China-based ByteDance has made the decision to exit the region following China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city. “In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong,” a TikTok spokesman said in response to a Reuters question about its commitment to the market. The company, now run by former Walt Disney Co executive Kevin Mayer, has said in the past that the app’s user data is not stored in China.


TikTok has also said previously that it would not comply with any requests made by the Chinese government to censor content or for access to TikTok’s user data, nor has it ever been asked to do so. The Hong Kong region is a small, loss-making market for the company, one source familiar with the matter said. Last August, TikTok reported it had attracted 150,000 users in Hong Kong. Globally, TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times through the Apple and Google app stores after the first quarter this year, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower. The source said the move was made because it was not clear if Hong Kong would now fall entirely under Beijing’s jurisdiction in light of the new law.

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Easy pickings.

China Slams US As It Joins Global Arms Trade Treaty At UN (R.)

China on Monday joined a global arms trade treaty spurned by the United States, taking a swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration by accusing it of bullying, unilateralism and undermining efforts to combat global challenges. China’s U.N. ambassador, Zhang Jun, said he had deposited China’s instrument of accession to the treaty, which regulates a $70 billion global cross-border trade in conventional arms and seeks to keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers. China, which announced its plans in September, becomes the 107th party to the pact, approved by the U.N. General Assembly in 2013. Then-U.S. President Barack Obama signed it, but it was opposed by the National Rifle Association and never ratified by the U.S. Senate.


Trump said in April last year that he intended to revoke the status of the United States as a signatory. In July 2019, the United States told U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Washington did not intend to become a party to the treaty and that it had no legal obligations from its 2013 signature. Without naming the United States, but amid escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington, Zhang said in a statement that a “certain country … walked away from international commitments, and launched acts of unilateralism and bullying.” [..] China was the fifth-largest global arms exporter between 2014 and 2018, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, although China itself does not publish figures for how many arms it exports.

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A comment on Twitter about an article in German in Handelsblatt:

”Deutsche Telekom has doubled down on Huawei even as concerns rose, including discussions w/Chinese firm about how to get around US sanctions & “tactical” announcements to get T-Mobile/Sprint deal in US approved..”

US Restrictions Drove Deutsche Telekom And Huawei Closer Together (Pol.eu)

Global telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom strengthened its strategic partnership with Huawei last year despite growing defiance toward the dominant Chinese 5G vendor, documents reviewed by POLITICO show. The internal company records describe how Deutsche Telekom and Huawei agreed on a deal in mid-2019 that said the Chinese supplier would take measures to avoid supply chain disruption caused by U.S. measures, as well as cover the costs of potential damages and delays. The deal was struck just weeks before the U.S. administration imposed restrictions on businesses dealing with the Chinese firm in May 2019 — a milestone for Washington’s efforts to push back against Huawei’s dominance on 5G equipment.

It laid the groundwork for a partnership between the two companies for the early rollout of 5G networks in Europe, despite national lawmakers’ efforts in key markets like Germany, the Netherlands and Poland to reduce the use of Chinese equipment. In the months after the deal, the companies underlined mutual commitments to treat each other in preferential ways. Deutsche Telekom executives described Huawei repeatedly as a “strategic partner” that is “key for our 5G plans,” according to the internal documents. On Huawei’s end, Deutsche Telekom was described as a “preferred customer” for its 5G equipment. Deutsche Telekom has repeatedly declined in the past to disclose how much of its networks consist of Huawei equipment.

But in its internal communication, it has likened the scenario of not being able to use Huawei in its broader 5G rollout to “armageddon,” a recent report in German paper Handelsblatt showed. [..] At the core of the mutual agreement is a commitment by Huawei to shoulder the burdens and costs of the U.S. restrictions that have bogged down the Chinese vendor in the past year. “This pledge by Huawei to pay for any disruption adds to that incentive to stick with Huawei,” said Thorsten Benner, director of the Berlin-based Global Public Policy Institute, calling it a “care-free package” offered to Deutsche Telekom.

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Targeting China once more?!

US To Force Out Foreign Students Taking Classes Fully Online (R.)

Foreign students must leave the United States if their school’s classes this fall will be taught completely online or transfer to another school with in-person instruction, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced on Monday. It was not immediately clear how many student visa holders would be affected by the move, but foreign students are a key source of revenue for many U.S. universities as they often pay full tuition. ICE said it would not allow holders of student visas to remain in the country if their school was fully online for the fall. Those students must transfer or leave the country, or they potentially face deportation proceedings, according to the announcement.


Colleges and universities have begun to announce plans for the fall 2020 semester amid the continued coronavirus pandemic. Harvard University on Monday announced it would conduct course instruction online for the 2020-2021 academic year. The ICE guidance applies to holders of F-1 and M-1 visas, which are for academic and vocational students. The State Department issued 388,839 F visas and 9,518 M visas in fiscal 2019, according to the agency’s data. The guidance does not affect students taking classes in person. It also does not affect F-1 students taking a partial online course-load, as long as their university certifies the student’s instruction is not completely digital. M-1 vocational program students and F-1 English language training program students will not be allowed to take any classes online.

Read more …

Pretty amazing story. But scary too.

South Korean COVID-19 patient Recovering After Double Lung Transplant (R.)

After a record 112 days on a specialised life-support system, a South Korean COVID-19 patient is recovering from double lung transplant surgery, doctors say, in only the ninth such procedure worldwide since the coronavirus outbreak began. The 50-year-old woman was diagnosed with the disease and hospitalised in late February and then spent 16 weeks on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support, which involves circulating a patient’s blood through a machine that adds oxygen to red blood cells. That’s the longest that any COVID-19 patient in the world has spent on ECMO support, her doctors said.

Various drugs such as the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine, the HIV treatment Kaletra and steroids failed to stop her pulmonary fibrosis – scarring in the lungs – from worsening, said Dr Park Sung-hoon, professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital. That left few options other than a lung transplant. “The probability of success in lung transplants on ECMO patients is 50%, and fortunately, our patient was well prepared before the surgery when we found the donor,” said Dr Kim Hyoung-soo, director of the hospital’s ECMO programme, who was in charge of the surgery.

The patient declined to be identified or interviewed. The doctors who conducted the eight-hour surgery described her destroyed lungs as hard like rock. She had an acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) when she came to hospital, Park said, and could not live without the ECMO machine’s help. ECMO is typically used on patients who need more help than ventilators can provide, and who are considered to have a 90% chance of dying. Half of patients recover in two to three weeks on ECMO, and a lung transplant is considered for those who don’t, Kim said.

Read more …

Stay home.

Hospitalizations Jump 50% In California As Coronavirus Infections Soar (R.)

New coronavirus cases soared in California over the July Fourth weekend, stressing some hospital systems and leading to the temporary closure of the state capitol building in Sacramento for deep cleaning, officials said on Monday. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased by 50% over the past two weeks to about 5,800, Governor Gavin Newsom said at a briefing. About a third of those hospitalized were in Los Angeles County, state and local records showed, with about 630 confirmed and suspected coronavirus patients requiring intensive care. And 25% of the hospitalizations in the county in July were among patients aged 18 to 40, health officials said, as new cases increasingly hit a younger population that may have been lax about safety precautions in recent weeks.


Farther north, nearly 1,400 inmates at San Quentin State Prison have been sickened by the virus, putting pressure on hospitals in Marin County, where the facility is located, Newsom said. All told, 271,684 Californians have tested positive for the virus, including 11,529 in the past 24 hours, state records show. About 6,300 have died. Determined to slow the spread of the disease over the holiday weekend, state alcohol regulators visited nearly 6,000 bars and restaurants to make sure they were complying with new rules banning indoor dining and closing bars that do not serve food, Newsom said.

Read more …

Turns out the 2nd wave concerns lockdowns.

Six Week Lockdown For Melbourne As Record 191 New Cases Reported (Conv.)

The Victorian government will lock down all metropolitan Melbourne for six weeks from Wednesday night, as a new wave of the coronavirus takes hold in the city. The lockdown will also cover the Mitchell Shire, north of Melbourne, which includes the towns of Broadford, Seymour, Kilmore, Tallarook, Pyalong and Wallan. Under the restrictions, people will only be able to leave their home to shop for essential goods and services, for care and compassionate reasons, exercise, and for work and study if it cannot be conducted from home. The dramatic action comes as the Victoria-NSW border closes on Tuesday night, amid some chaos in Albury-Wodonga, and follows the lockdown of suburbs in 12 Melbourne postcode areas, and the “lock in” of 3,000 residents in nine community housing towers.

Read more …

Brazilian media reports he tested positive.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Says Lungs ‘Clean’ After Coronavirus Test (R.)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday he had undergone another test for the novel coronavirus and his lungs were “clean,” after local media reported he had symptoms associated with the COVID-19 respiratory disease. Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even as Brazil has suffered one of the world’s worst outbreaks, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 related deaths, according to official data on Monday. CNN Brasil and newspaper Estado de S.Paulo reported that he had symptoms of the disease, such as a fever. Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace that he had just visited the hospital and been tested.


“I can’t get very close,” he said in comments recorded by Foco do Brasil, a pro-government YouTube channel. “I came from the hospital. I underwent a lung scan. The lung’s clean.” The president’s office said in a statement that the president is at his home and is “in good health.” [..] Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended several events and was in close contact with the U.S. ambassador to Brazil during July 4 celebrations. The U.S. embassy in Brasilia said via Twitter that Todd Chapman, the ambassador, had lunch on July 4 with Bolsonaro, five ministers and Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, who is a federal congressman. The ambassador has no symptoms, but will undergo testing and is “taking precautions,” the embassy said.

Read more …

The Electoral College still exists because some people think it’s in their advantage.

US Supreme Court Curbs ‘Faithless Electors’ In Presidential Voting (R.)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to free “faithless electors” in the complex Electoral College system that decides the outcome of presidential elections from state laws that force them to support the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote. The justices unanimously rejected the idea that electors, who act on behalf of a state in the Electoral College vote that occurs weeks after voters go the polls, can exercise discretion in the candidate they back. The decision erased a potential complicating factor in the Electoral College as President Donald Trump seeks re-election on Nov. 3 against Democratic challenger Joe Biden. The court sided with Washington state and Colorado, which had imposed penalties on several “faithless electors” – so named because they defied pledges in 2016 to vote for the winner of their states’ popular vote, Democrat Hillary Clinton.


Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the ruling “reaffirmed the fundamental principle that the vote of the people should matter in choosing the president.” State officials have said faithless electors threaten the integrity of American democracy by subverting the will of the electorate and opening the door to corruption. The plaintiffs had argued that the Constitution requires them to exercise independent judgment to prevent unfit candidates from taking office. “The Constitution’s text and the nation’s history both support allowing a state to enforce an elector’s pledge to support his party’s nominee – and the state voters’ choice – for President,” liberal Justice Elena Kagan wrote on behalf of the court.

Read more …

Only in America.

California Short on Firefighters as Prison “Slaves” Under Lockdown (MPN)

It is the height of California’s dangerous forest fire season. But despite blazes currently raging, the state’s fire department is dangerously understaffed. That is because many firefighters today are not the burly full time professionals of another era, but underpaid convict laborers risking their lives for pennies. Almost 40 percent of California’s firefighters are prisoners. But the state’s penitentiaries are themselves ablaze with COVID-19 outbreaks, leading to widespread lockdowns in what has become a routine for American’s dealing with competing crises. Jails have been among the deadliest hotspots for transmission of the coronavirus. At the notorious San Quentin State Prison just north of San Francisco, there are nearly 1,400 active cases.

Meanwhile, the state has announced the deaths from COVID-19 of 16 inmates at the California Institute for Men in Chino, San Bernardino County. In response to the crisis, prison authorities have enacted strict lockdowns, including at CCC Susanville, the home of the wildfire training program, where there are 224 confirmed active cases of the virus. This is severely hampering the fight against wildfires. Approximately 3,100 inmates work with the fire department tackling blazes, around 2,200 in the front line, and 900 in support roles. Only those with the least serious convictions are considered. Prisoners are paid between $2.90 and $5.12 per day (less than the average income of a sweatshop laborer in Nicaragua), plus $1 per hour of hazard pay during active emergency situations like the deadly fires that engulfed the state late last year.

They work alongside full-time firefighters making an average of $91,000 per year before overtime pay and bonuses but tend to do the harder, less desirable, or more dangerous tasks, leading to multiple deaths in recent years. This has led to widespread condemnation of the practice as akin to “modern slavery,” especially because inmates are effectively barred from even applying to the fire department once their sentences are over. In order to become a firefighter, an emergency medical technician license is required, something that is all but impossible to achieve with a criminal record. Despite this, prisoners still “volunteer” as the work is far more fulfilling than the alternative: more time locked up.

Read more …

“Eric Dupond-Moretti has been appointed as French Justice Minister. Earlier this year, he launched a campaign to grant the Australian asylum in France.”

Assange Lawyer Named French Justice Minister (AAP)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti has been appointed as France’s new justice minister. Dupond-Moretti, a prominent criminal defence lawyer, was elevated to the ministry by incoming Prime Minister Jean Castex on Monday. The 55-year-old is known for a his record number of acquittals and led a push by European lawyers for French President Emmanuel Macron to grant asylum to Assange in February. “We consider the situation is sufficiently serious that our duty is to talk about it,” Dupond-Moretti said about Assange’s case at the time.


The Frenchman has said the case against the Australian is unfair, citing Assange’s poor health and alleged violations of his rights while in jail in London Dupond-Moretti’s team also warned of “consequences for all journalists” if Assange is extradited and jailed in the US. French members of Assange’s legal team said they had been working on a “concrete demand” for Macron to grant Assange asylum in France, where he has children. It’s unclear whether Dupond-Moretti will now use his position to grant the Australian asylum.

Read more …

 

 

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Jun 212020
 


Lewis Wickes Hine 12-year-old newsie, Hyman Alpert, been selling 3 years, New Haven CT 1909

 

Trump Makes Triumphant Return To Campaign Rallies (JTN)
Trump’s Tulsa Rally Was Just Another Sad Farce (G.)
Over A Third Of Americans Think Civil War Is Likely (ZH)
Judge Says Bolton ‘Gambling With National Security’ But Won’t Block Book (JTN)
Lawyer Says Bolton ‘Utterly Powerless’ To Stop Book’s Circulation (JTN)
Manhattan Prosecutor Steps Down, Ending Stand-Off With AG Barr (R.)
US Travel Industry Revenues To Plummet By Half a Trillion In 2020 (F.)
Nearly Half Of Americans Consider Selling Home As COVID Crushes Finances (ZH)
Greece Urges UK To Return Parthenon Marbles (G.)

 

 

I’m a bit later than usual today, I couldn’t resist taking a walk in the almost deserted city of Athina. It’s terrible for a lot of people I know who work in hospitality, but the quiet is appealing at the same time. Here’s a photo I took just around the corner:

 

 

I brought up a possible civil war in the US yesterday, and just about everything I read appears to rhyme with that idea. Trump held his first meeting last night in Tulsa, and all too predictably the MSM says it was awful and nobody showed up, while the right wing press calls it a “triumphant return”. Nobody cares about news anymore, everything has turned into opinion.

It’s been well over 4 years since I started noticing -and writing about- that the NYT, WaPo et al began to publish 10+ anti-Trump stories every single day, and that got me labeled as a Trump supporter. No use saying that I’m not, and never have been, even Nicole, bless her heart, said: yes you are!

Like I am too stupid to know what I support, or maybe I’m a closet Trumpian. It’s that whole idea of if you don’t comply with the narrative and parrot CNN etc., you must be against them. And it’s true that I dislike CNN very much, for adopting a 24/7 anti-Trump business model, but that is not the same as supporting Trump. A news channel should provide us with news, not a political opinion.

I would almost hope Joe Biden wins (not going to happen) because that would mean the end of CNN. I often think Trump and Jerry Zucker have a secret deal that requires Trump to say 100 crazy things per day and CNN to “report” on all of them and invent 100 more as they go along.

But, you know, only half the country now reads the NYT and WaPo, the so-called liberal half. There once was a time when both halves did, but that is no longer an option. There is more money in one-sided and overblown opinion. The country’s best newspapers have sold their souls to Dr. Faust.

The headlines at Britain’s Guardian this morning pretty much sum up the entire story:

• Donald Trump: President sows division and promises ‘greatness’ at Tulsa rally flop

• US president’s much hyped return turned to humiliation when he failed to fill arena in Republican stronghold of Oklahoma

• Don’t call it a comeback: rally was just another sad farce

• ‘Kung flu’ President uses racist term to describe Covid-19

• ‘Saving our country’: An event for Trump’s true believers

And people who read things like the Guardian, NYT, WaPo, keep on eating it up. They buy these papers, they take out subscriptions, just to get their daily fill of anti-Trump “news”. I personally think that is extremely sad, and dangerous to boot. But if and when I say that, I will be labeled a Trump supporter again.

Because that is the easy way out for the Orange Man Bad crowd. Just as it will be, mind you, for all those out there who are going to take a bite out of Joe Biden’s dementia. We should all be able to do better. We should all be able to see that this is not about two old white guys, and that they have much more in common with each other than they have with you or me.

But in the present environment, try saying you’re not partisan and you’ll be labeled “partisan” for saying it. That’s why I brought up the civil war thing yesterday. The liberal press absolutely loves the fact that some grandma on TikTok made kids in Korea order 1000s of tickets for Tulsa and then not show up. The same press that wouldn’t know TikTok from a hole in the ground.

Meanwhile, has anyone at all pondered what the outcome will be for a Joe Biden rally? Oh my Lord, the excitement! Be still my heart. Bring an extra set of underwear.

If the TikTok fake tickets thing happened to a Joe Biden “event”, you know who would be blamed? Russia.

 

 

Worldometer reports new cases for June 20 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 181,005 .

My count 6AM EDT to 6AM EDT (a bit more today) based on Worldometer numbers is 159,182.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 33,388
• Brazil + 31,571
• Russia + 7,889
• India + 15,545

 

 

Cases 8,945,774 (+ 159,182 from yesterday’s 8,786,592)

Deaths 467,306 (+ 4,150 from yesterday’s 463,156)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just the News is John Solomon’s new outlet.

Trump Makes Triumphant Return To Campaign Rallies (JTN)

After months of coronavirus, racial strife and economic calamity, President Trump returned Saturday night to the campaign trail with a extravagant stadium event in Tulsa, Okla., vowing to win re-election on behalf of a “silent majority” of Americans drowned out by polls, media pundits and protesters. n”You are warriors,” a smiling Trump declared as he waved and gave fist pumps to an audience of thousands who braved fears about contagion, a lawsuit that failed to stop the events and protests outside the arena.


“I stand before you today to declare the silent majority is stronger than ever before,” Trump said to cheers. “Five months from now we’re going to defeat sleepy Joe Biden. … We are going to stop the radical left, and we’re going to build a future of safety and opportunity for Americans of every race color, religion and creed.” Seeking to address the recent rioting and protests caused by police killings, Trump portrayed himself and the GOP as best suited to bring racial healing and quell the violence. “Republicans are the party of liberty, equality and justice for all. We are the party of Abraham Lincoln, and we are the party of law and order,” he told the crowd.

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“You got punked by several hundred thousand TikTok users, organized by a grandmother in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Mary Jo Laupp was apparently so upset by the original date and place of Trump’s rally – the city where one of America’s worst racist massacres took place, in 1921 – that she asked people to sign up for the rally and not show up. Laupp only joined TikTok earlier this year, but her call connected with thousands of K-Pop fans who are what Trump might call a silent majority.”

Trump’s Tulsa Rally Was Just Another Sad Farce (G.)

There have been so many reasons to feel embarrassed about Donald Trump. There was the time he paid off a porn star. There was the time he lied about the size of his inauguration crowd. The time he talked about the big water around Puerto Rico. The time he thought you could kill the coronavirus by injecting yourself with bleach. But nothing truly comes close to the embarrassment of his so-called comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday. It was so toe-curlingly cringeworthy, such a crushing humiliation. There are 80s pop bands who have enjoyed greater comebacks than Donald Trump. To understand how much of his insides will always melt at the thought of that Tulsa rally, it’s worth quoting Trump’s fine words just before he boarded Marine One at the White House.


“The event in Oklahoma is unbelievable,” he boasted. “The crowds are unbelievable. They haven’t seen anything like it. And we will go there now. We’ll give a, hopefully, good speech. We’re going to see a lot of great people, a lot of great friends. And pretty much, that’s it. OK?” We really haven’t seen anything like that. For a man who loves peddling superlatives, this was the worst measure of his oh-so-sad popularity. The lowest point in electoral incompetence. The saddest campaign fiasco. The event in Oklahoma was literally unbelievable if you believe that the Trump campaign is competent, and that Trump himself is actually popular. That’s the weird thing about our populist president: his approval ratings have never cracked 50% and are now stuck firmly in the low 40s. Perhaps that’s why he’s trailing Joe Biden by double-digits in recent polls.

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Think perhaps I shouldn’t have raised the spectre of civil war yesterday?

Over A Third Of Americans Think Civil War Is Likely (ZH)

No one would have ever fathomed, that America – the greatest country in the world – with “the greatest economy ever” – could even be on the cusp of a civil war. Except for Peter Turchin, who predicted a decade ago in the scholarly journal Nature that America would “suffer a period of major social upheaval” starting around the year 2020. As race-driven/anti-police protests flourish nationwide – one-in-three Americans are warming up to the idea the country is on the brink of another civil war, according to Rasmussen Reports. The latest findings found 34% of respondents said the country would experience a second civil war within five years, and that includes 9% of those who said it’s very likely. Rasmussen noted, “This compares to 31 percent and 11 percent respectively two years ago.”

When examining between party lines, 40% of Republicans said civil war was “on the horizon,” while 28% of Democrats concurred. Around 38% of Independent voters said a civil war is possible in the next five years. The survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters was conducted on June 11 and 14 by Rasmussen Reports, also asked respondents about local governments and protesters removing Confederate monuments. Rasmussen said: “39 percent) of all voters believe the removal of Confederate symbols, names, and monuments throughout the country honoring those who fought in the first civil war will help race relations. Twenty-seven percent (27 percent) disagree and think it will hurt race relations instead.”

“These numbers are reversed from August 2017 when 28% said the removal of the symbols would help race relations, while 39% thought it would hurt instead. Little changed is the 28% who think the removal of public traces of the Confederacy will have no impact,” it noted. Rasmussen continued, “Women and those under 40 are more supportive of the current anti-police protests and the anti-Confederacy drive than men and older voters.” “Younger voters worry most about another civil war… Just 29 percent of blacks believe the current protests will lead to long-term, meaningful racial change in America, compared to 35 percent of whites and 48 percent of other minority voters,” it said.

Chaos in America’s inner cities have been brewing for some time – and was due to erupt, according to Turchin. He looked at “declining wages, wealth inequality and exploding national debt” as social pressures that affected national stability. His model showed that the U.S. would reach a “boiling point” in 2020 — none of this should come as a surprise to Zero Hedge readers. So does civil war become a self-fulfilling prophecy with a third of Americans believing severe domestic turmoil is ahead?

Read more …

How about a $1 billion fine for Simon and Schuster? For sending out 10,000 copies while the case was pending?

Judge Says Bolton ‘Gambling With National Security’ But Won’t Block Book (JTN)

A federal judge on Saturday declined to block the publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s tell-all book about the Trump White House, dealing a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to halt what they claimed was a book full of classified information. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in a decision issued Saturday declared that the government “failed to establish that an injunction will prevent irreparable harm,” noting that the book was already in widespread circulation even prior to formal publication. But Lamberth also slammed Bolton for “gambl[ing] with the national security of the United States” and “expos[ing] his country to harm” by ordering the publication of the book “without written authorization and without notice to the government.”


Bolton’s lawyers had argued yesterday that their client was “powerless” to stop the book’s dissemination throughout media and society. Copies of the manuscript have already been delivered to journalists, book reviewers and other media outlets around the country. Lamberth in his ruling agreed, writing that “by the looks of it, the horse is not just out of the barn—it is out of the country.”

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He couldn’t even stop himself from writing, it, I tells ya. It was divine intervention.

Lawyer Says Bolton ‘Utterly Powerless’ To Stop Book’s Circulation (JTN)

A lawyer for former national security adviser John Bolton on Friday argued before a district judge that his client is “utterly powerless” to stop the widespread circulation of his tell-all book, urging the court to dismiss the Trump administration’s attempt to halt publication of the book. The administration has sued to block the release of the book, arguing it contains classified information that necessitates the use of prior restraint, a high bar for governments to clear under First Amendment jurisprudence. In addition to arguing that the book’s material is suitable for publication, attorney Charles Cooper told Judge Royce Lamberth of the D.C. District Court that “the horse is out of the barn” on the matter of the book’s becoming part of the public record. Numerous journalists and media outlets around the country have already received advance copies of the account.


“This isn’t really a judicial proceeding,” Cooper told Lamberth. “It doesn’t actually have as its purpose convincing you to order John Bolton to do something that he is utterly powerless to do, and that you are utterly powerless to force him to do,” namely pull the book from general circulation. Justice Department lawyer David Morrell urged Lamberth to direct Bolton to halt publication “and further dissemination” of the book prior to further review. Morrell said Bolton committed a “flagrant breach” of proper protocol in seeking to publish the alleged classified material. Bolton’s attorneys in an earlier filing had urged Lamberth to toss the suit, claiming that the memoir – which reveals alleged incidents witnessed by Bolton during his tenure at the White House from April 2018 to September 2019 – is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Read more …

Again: the left’s new hero is a Trump campaign contributor.

Manhattan Prosecutor Steps Down, Ending Stand-Off With AG Barr (R.)

A stand-off over the independence of one of the country’s most important prosecutor’s offices ended on Saturday when Geoffrey Berman agreed to step down as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the office that had been investigating President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani. Berman’s confirmation of his departure came after Attorney General William Barr told him he had been fired by Trump at Barr’s request, and that Berman’s hand-picked No. 2, Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, would become Acting U.S. Attorney until a permanent replacement is installed. Under Strauss’ leadership, Berman said the office could continue its “tradition of integrity and independence.”


Berman’s office, which is known for prosecuting the most high profile terrorism cases, Wall Street financial crimes and government corruption, has not shied from taking on figures in Trump’s orbit. It oversaw the prosecution of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, indicted two Giuliani associates and launched a probe into Giuliani in connection with his efforts to dig up dirt on Trump’s political adversaries in Ukraine. Giuliani has not formally been accused of any wrongdoing. The standoff with Berman follows the latest in a series of moves by Barr that critics say are meant to benefit Trump politically and undermine the independence of the Justice Department. It also comes as Trump has sought to purge officials perceived as not fully supporting him. In recent weeks he has fired a series of agency watchdogs, including one who played a key role in Trump’s impeachment earlier this year.

Read more …

Stay at Herm.

US Travel Industry Revenues To Plummet By Half a Trillion In 2020 (F.)

Travel spending in the United States will fall by more than a half-trillion dollars this year and likely won’t recover to 2019 levels until 2024. That’s according to a new economic analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and government steps to constrict personal and business interactions in an effort to fight the disease’s spread. The dire forecast was prepared for the U.S. Travel Association, a Washington lobby group, by Tourism Economics. Both the USTA and the Air Line Pilots Association on Thursday went public with new requests for federal assistance. The analysis projects that companies providing travel related services – airlines, hotels, restaurants, attractions and more – will take in $505 billion less in revenue by the end of this year than they did in 2019.


Last year U.S. travel spending topped $1.1 trillion, an all-time high. This year the same group is forecast to take in 45 percent less revenue, or around $622 billion. Furthermore, the forecast for 2020 shows that while travel spending in the U.S. on travel in 2021 should rise 37.5 percent over this year’s total spending to around $855 billion, that still would leave the U.S. travel industry 24 percent smaller in terms of revenues in 2021 than it was in 2019. The recovery in travel spending is then forecast to continue in 2022 and 2023, but at a slower pace. The forecast 14.2 percent growth in travel spending in 2022 would take total spending to just shy of a trillion dollars: 976 billion.

Read more …

Would it be really stupid if I ask who’s going to buy them?

Nearly Half Of Americans Consider Selling Home As COVID Crushes Finances (ZH)

As the virus pandemic has metastasized into an economic downturn, tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs and are struggling to service mortgage payments. New research offers a glimpse into struggling households, discovers out of the 2,000 American homeowners polled, over half (52%) of respondents say they’re routinely worried about making future mortgage payments and nearly half (47%) considered selling their home because of the inability to service mortgage payments. The study, conducted by OnePoll and the National Association of Realtors, determined 81% of respondents had experienced unexpected financial stress due to the virus-induced recession. Over half (56%) reduced spending so they could service mortgage payments.

Since mid-March, or about the time when the lockdowns began, nearly half (47%) of homeowners have explored alternative ways of making money. About two-thirds of respondents (64%) started side projects, while 53% sold valuables to supplement income. “The swift and unprecedented impact of COVID-19 left many people in a financial emergency, and we want to make sure struggling homeowners know they have relief options, especially during Homeownership Month,” said the National Association of Realtors President Vince Malta. “Realtors and lenders can identify programs and aid designed to help meet loan obligations. Acting quickly may help homeowners stay in their homes and keep the money they have already invested into it,” Malta said.

From clothing (71%) and take-out (66%) to streaming TV services (46%) and groceries (45%), respondents said their spending habits had been significantly reduced so they could service mortgage payments. In a separate report, more than 4 million homeowners are in mortgage forbearance plan – representing 7.54% of all mortgages, delinquencies are set to surpass the great recession, which peaked at 10%.

Read more …

Broken record. Give them back, you twits.

Greece Urges UK To Return Parthenon Marbles (G.)

The New Acropolis Museum was purpose-built to host the one thing every Greek government will always agree on: the Parthenon marbles being returned from London. On Saturday, as the four-storey edifice marked its 11th anniversary, Athens reinvigorated the cultural row calling the British Museum’s retention of the antiquities illegal and “contrary to any moral principle”. “Since September 2003 when construction work for the Acropolis Museum began, Greece has systematically demanded the return of the sculptures on display in the British Museum because they are the product of theft,” the country’s culture minister Lina Mendoni told the Greek newspaper Ta Nea.

“The current Greek government – like any Greek government – is not going to stop claiming the stolen sculptures which the British Museum, contrary to any moral principle, continues to hold illegally.” For years, she said, the museum had argued that Athens had nowhere decent enough to display Phidias’ masterpieces, insisting that its stance was “in stark contrast” to the view of the UK public. In repeated polls, Britons have voiced support for the repatriation of the carvings, controversially removed from the Parthenon in 1802 at the behest of Lord Elgin, London’s ambassador to the Sublime Porte. “It is sad that one of the world’s largest and most important museums is still governed by outdated, colonialist views.” Greece’s centre-right administration has vowed to step up the campaign to win back artworks that adorned the frieze of the Periclean showpiece ahead of the country’s bicentennial independence celebrations next year.

Within weeks of his election, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece’s prime minister, told the Observer Athens was prepared to allow treasures that had never travelled abroad to be exhibited in London in exchange for the marbles being reunited with “a monument of global cultural heritage”. Well-placed government officials have not excluded the EU pressing for the return of the antiquities as part of an overarching Brexit deal. The row was injected with renewed rancour when the British Museum’s director, Hartwig Fischer, described their removal from Greece as “a creative act”. Half of the 160-metre frieze is in London, with 50 metres in Athens and other pieces displayed in a total of eight other museums across Europe.

Read more …

 

 

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https://twitter.com/CarpeDonktum/status/1274537090261430275

 

 

 

My man. My Main man.

Robert Allen Zimmerman is 79 years old.

But his brain has just been born.

 

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

 

 

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