Feb 052022
 


Lawrence Alma-Tadema Women of Amphissa 1887

 

 

Omicron is the best vaccine available. You can pick between BA.1 and BA.2. That allows us to do a little overview, also because “new“ findings have come out recently. New only in the sense that the media now report on them for the first time, not because we didn’t already know.

Then again, how would YOU know, if not through Joe Rogan, and his recent guests Dr. Malone and Dr. Mc Cullough, and websites like Peak Prosperity and the Automatic Earth? Media capture has been pretty total for 2 years, because 1/ bad news sells better than good news, and 2/ Big Pharma owns the discussion, through its ownership of media and medical “experts”.

That’s all about to change. Omicron can -and will- still be sold as a potentially devastating disease, but if the numbers don’t add up, people will stop listening and reading. So the media’s hands will be forced. The treatment of Joe Rogan is only the culmination of that, of so many voices since early 2020, and it’s good it led to him.

Because Joe doesn’t care, he’s bigger than all of the media assembling against him, and he did nothing but give some people a voice and a space that were being ostracized -and still are, maybe even more-, and Spotify is a Sweden-based company, which not many will be able to touch.

Yeah, yeah, Neil Young, Joni, Streisand, they’re all in Biden and Pelosi’s age-range, but do you think many people will care who are not over 70, if and when Omicron keeps on lowering death numbers? Or are they more likely to side with Canadian truckers and their ideas of freedom?

Will Justin send the army to “take care” of the protests? You would almost hope so. I don’t think he’s stupid enough, not even him, but he’s in an ugly spot. All he would have had to do is go talk to them, but then that’s the overriding theme here, isn’t it, to not talk, let alone discuss?

The idea has been all along to NOT talk to Dr. Malone and Dr. Mc Cullough, or Joe Rogan, or anyone else who doesn’t toe the Pfizer line. And at some point, like when people realize Omicron is the best vaccine available, all that’s left is to enforce mandates with police or armed forces. As I said, you’d almost hope they do it. The “let them eat cake” moment.

I saw this pic yesterday of a headline from German TV channel NTV, which says Pfizer will sue Denmark for loosening its vaccine mandate, because fewer people will get jabbed, and that means less profit. How much of this will we see?

 

 

Back to reality: We have found (or rather, seen confirmed) in the last 2 weeks or so that:

1/ Masks don’t work. The CDC admitted that the cloth masks they recommended for 2 years have no effect whatsoever. But along their own lines of “evidence”, neither do surgical masks, which have holes 1000x bigger than a virus particle. N95 masks could work to some extent, but only if they’re fitted perfectly, by a professional, every time they’re worn.

Maybe the fact that the US government, and CDC and FDA, waited 2 years in promoting them tells you the whole story. And yes, P100 masks might work to some extent, but at that point we might as well go for full-blown gas-masks. In short, face masks “for Covid” have been as entirely useless as they have been completely destructive, in the lives of all of us, but in particular our children.

But the masks still haven’t been as big a disaster as:

2/ Lockdowns don’t work. For 2 years running, all the media and their loyal followers have been citing the CDC, FDA and Johns Hopkins University. But now that Johns Hopkins releases a report that says lockdowns prevented only 0.2% of potential deaths, crickets are a very popular life form all of a sudden. What’s not to love? But yeah, we get it, good news doesn’t sell. In the same vein, an “imminent” Russian invasion of Ukraine, tanks in the streets of Kyiv, gets a lot more clickbait than “nah, all quiet on the eastern front”.

But the lockdowns haven’t been as big a disaster as (we’re working up to a climax here):

3/ The vaccines don’t work.

3.1/ The vaccines were never needed.

The way to create demand for them was to prohibit all other substances that could have saved millions of lives in prophylaxis or early treatment. As I’ve said repeatedly, I think vitamin D could have prevented 50% of all infections and deaths, zinc could have taken care of the next 25%, and for the remaining quarter an entire scala of repurposed drugs, ivermectin, HCQ, fluvoxamine, melatonin, aspirin etc. would have been enough.

You don’t have to aim for zero. Bring the numbers down by 50-75-90%, and any reason to lock down or wear masks is gone. Pfizer needed to ban all these substances, and ban the possible news coverage of their potential, to get an EUA for its vaccine. And that’s why they were all swept under the carpet. Thing is, there are millions of dead bodies under that carpet, too.

But not only were they never needed:

3.2/ The vaccines don’t work.

To be honest: what we know in early February 2022 is that yes, they do seem to “work” for a few months, we’re not exactly sure how or how long. That should never be a question about a vaccine, however, and if it is, call it something else. Moreover, as far as they “work”, they do that by -trying to- take over control from your immune system, which you cannot survive without. Your best option today is to have an immune system strong enough to fight off the vaccine, which is as insane as it sounds. A booster 3rd or 4th or 12th shot will work for even less time, and in the meantime you run the risk of spike proteins lingering and gathering in all of your organs, including your heart and brain. For the rest of your life.

Because:

3.3/ The vaccines cause enormous damage.

The main issue about mRNA vaccines is not even the scores of vaxxed young athletes dropping dead, or the elevated numbers of 10-15 year olds who have myocarditis, devastating as they are; it’s the long-term consequences, never tested for. I’ve been reading a lot about mRNA and cancer recently. Because I see it pop up all over.

 

 

This will not affect everyone. Some of us have robust immune systems. But those that do not, due to age, obesity, you name it, will see the negative effects of spike proteins and other vaccine “by-products”. Not all in the same way, and not all to the same degree. And not all at the same time either. But you’re still all unleashing (cyto-) toxic elements into your body, your bloodstream, your organs.

You’re unleashing more of them with each next shot, or booster, into a body whose immune system has ever less defense against the invading toxic elements. Because your immune system may have “learned” to defend itself against these elements, but then the jabs add ever more of them, and the original antigenic sin kicks in for real. Until the immune system is overwhelmed and gives up.

So why the shots, and the boosters? It doesn’t appear to have much to do with logic. In Britain, Covid is already less threatening than the flu. You may argue that this is due to the vaccines, but how realistic is that given we know their efficacy drops so fast you need a booster every few months?

 

 

Whereas, if you catch Omicron, and many “Experts” now state that we will all catch it at some point (or more than once), the amount of toxic elements entering your body is manageable. Sure, you may need to boost your immune system, lose weight, change your diet, but how could that ever be a bad thing?

Still, if you combine vitamin D with zinc and perhaps IVM, your chances look much better than with 3-4-5-6 boosters. But, you know, if that’s what you want, go for it. Ditto for face masks, and lockdowns, etc. But with what we know today, there is no reason why anyone should dictate any of these things to you. You’re not any safer because of them.

The main difference appears to be that you, the vaxxed/boosted, have a lot more to be wary about for the rest of your life, 30-40-50 years, from “vaccines” that were poorly tested, and not at all tested for that sort of timespan.

Omicron is a one-off that appears to protect you from all -or most- previous and future Covid variants. The vaccines are geared towards one older variant only, which hardly exists anymore. I won’t advice anyone to get Omicron, but if given the choice between Omicron and Comirnaty, is the choice really that clear?

 

 

 

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Feb 042022
 


James McNeill Whistler Nocturne in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket 1875

 

12 Countries Roll Back COVID Restrictions, Israel Scraps ‘Green Pass’ (CHD)
Israel Will Abolish The Vaxx Passport And Most Testing Requirements (Haa.)
Italy’s Covid Despotism Just Got Worse (Salonia)
What The Omicron Wave Is Revealing About Human Immunity (Nature)
Lethal Mutagenesis As An Antiviral Strategy (Science)
British Children Up To 52 Times More Likely To Die Following A Covid Shot (LSN)
Rejoice! An End To The Dreaded Covid Count… (Hoenderkamp)
Study Offers Strongest Proof Yet Of Vitamin D’s Power To Fight Covid (ToI)
Calls for Help From Families of Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19 (ET)
Justin Trudeau is a Bungler and Menace to His Nation (Kohlmayer)
We Were Warned About the Ports (Sammon)
Spotify Spat Shows Why Joe Rogan And His Podcast Matter (FT)
Can Joe Rogan Save Free Speech? (Turley)
North Korea Hacked Him. So He Took Down Its Internet (Wired)
Reporter Shreds Admin Spox Over ‘Russian False Flag’ Claims (ZH)

 

 

 

 

Lab Leak Conspirancy

 

 

 

 

“..no longer a “socially critical disease.”

12 Countries Roll Back COVID Restrictions, Israel Scraps ‘Green Pass’ (CHD)

Europe is accelerating steps to roll back COVID restrictions as efforts to control the spread of the virus have failed and countries downgrade the threat posed by SARS-CoV-2. Sweden and Switzerland joined Denmark, Norway, Finland, Ireland, The Netherlands, Italy, Lithuania, France and the UK in announcing they will lift COVID restrictions and open up their countries. Top Israeli officials also announced this week they are abolishing the country’s “Green Pass” COVID vaccine passport for restaurants, hotels, gyms and theaters. The policy update will take effect Feb. 6, Prime Minister Naftali Bennet’s government said, pending approval by a parliamentary committee. Israel’s proof-of-vaccination policy will remain in effect for events such as parties or weddings.

“To continue the green pass in the same way can create false assurances,” said Nadav Davidovitch, an epidemiologist and public health physician advising Prime Minister Naftali Bennet’s government. “It’s not reducing infections in closed spaces like theatres. It needs to be used mainly for high-risk places like hospitals, elderly care homes, or events when you are eating and singing and dancing.” Sweden will lift all COVID restrictions by Feb. 9, the Swedish government said today. According to Politico, the Swedish Public Health Agency said it reassessed COVID as “not being socially critical” due to a better understanding of the Omicron variant, which is milder and associated with fewer hospitalizations.

“It’s time to open up Sweden,” said Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. “The pandemic isn’t over, but it is moving into a new phase.” The decision to open Sweden came a day after Switzerland, citing high immunity levels and the milder Omicron variant, announced it will abolish mandatory work-from-home and the quarantine rules beginning today. The government also will lift health measures at the borders and tourists will no longer need to receive Swiss COVID certificates. The Swiss government said it planned to phase out other restrictions after consulting with 26 cantons, employers, trade unions and parliamentary committees.

[..] Just days before Sweden and Switzerland’s announcements, Denmark became the first country in the European Union to lift all COVID restrictions, reclassifying COVID as an endemic disease. Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke on Feb. 1 wrote a letter to the parliament’s epidemiology committee stating COVID was no longer a “socially critical disease.” Based on the recommendations of the committee, the government decided to scrap COVID restrictions. [..] Italy, France, Norway, Lithuania, England and Finland also relaxed restrictions, Bloomberg reported. “We should discuss whether it’s time for us to take a different viewpoint and start unwinding restrictions even with a high number of infections,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told reporters. “I hope that we can be rid of restrictions during February.”

Read more …

“..effectively removing barriers to entry for the unvaccinated..”

Israel Will Abolish The Vaxx Passport And Most Testing Requirements (Haa.)

Israel’s coronavirus cabinet decided to abolish its so-called green passport program for most places of entertainment, including hotels, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters, effectively removing barriers to entry for the unvaccinated. The new policy will come into effect on Sunday, and will leave the proof of vaccination in place for events “with significantly greater risk of infection,” such as weddings and parties. The cabinet also decided to scrap the requirement to present a PCR test upon exiting the country. Following recommendations of the Health Ministry, the cabinet further scrapped the expiration date on green passports for anyone who has received a third or fourth dose of the vaccine, meaning those passes would be valid indefinitely.


But for people who have only had two doses, or who recovered from the virus but aren’t vaccinated, the pass will be valid for only four months from the date of the second dose or the recovery. Those who are not fully vaccinated and employed in the education, health and welfare sectors will still be required to undergo biweekly tests. The decisions come in the midst of Israel’s omicron wave, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett saying that he predicts “one-and-a-half to two hard weeks ahead of us.” [..] Meanwhile, the Health Ministry reported that the R number – the average number of people each coronavirus carrier infects – further declined on Tuesday to 0.92. Any number under 1 indicates that the pandemic is shrinking. The figure is calculated according to data from the previous 10 days.

Read more …

“..they are to be allowed access to supermarkets only to buy “goods of primary necessity.”

Italy’s Covid Despotism Just Got Worse (Salonia)

A couple of weeks ago, a new decree of the Draghi government established yet more rules restricting the lives of people who have not been injected with the latest vaccine booster and who therefore cannot show the latest version of the Green Pass. These second-class citizens, who have already been stripped of their right to move, work, and participate in a great number of social activities, are now forbidden from entering post offices to withdraw their pension, and they are to be allowed access to supermarkets only to buy “goods of primary necessity.” In other words, the Italian government decides what kind of food and what other goods (if any) these people will be able to purchase.

Among Western countries, Italy has been one of those experiencing the most systematic denial of basic civil rights over the past two years. Coalition governments led first by Giuseppe Conte and then by Mario Draghi have empowered an unelected committee of “experts” called the Comitato Tecnico Scientifico, which has in turn empowered the governments by assigning a scientific aura to every decree, every action, and every word coming from the executive. This has resulted in an endless series of lockdown measures that for long periods have erased freedom of movement, the right to work, property rights over businesses and shops, freedom to assemble, freedom to worship, and even the distinction of jurisdictional spheres between church and political authority (with state bureaucrats closing churches and then handing out petty instructions on what rites could be carried out, how liturgies should be curtailed, and how many people if any could be present at masses and funerals).

In the meantime, the legislative branch has been humbled, and government by urgent decrees from the executive has become the norm. The very constitutional structure of the country has been bent, and a new concept called “stato di emergenza” (state of emergency) has been invented out of thin air, even though it is nowhere to be found in Italy’s republican constitution. If we were not living in the age of CNN, fake news, and outrageous subsidies handed out by politicians to newspapers and the media, one could legitimately wonder where the journalists were while all this was going on? In fact, journalists in Italy are among the main culprits of the current dystopian reality, since they have given platforms to “experts” who agreed with lockdowns and other measures that expanded government control over all aspects of life, while at the same time they ferociously mocked and ostracized doctors and scientists who dared to question the logic of outdoor mask mandates and curfews for restaurants.

Anybody who dared to point out the disastrous consequences of a prolonged lockdown on mental health and on people suffering from other pathologies, or the link between the economy and public health, was accused of being a “covid denier.” This is a pattern that surely readers recognize, as they have seen it in the US and many other countries over the past two years. The fact that virtually every opinion labelled by the media as “conspiracy theory” has turned out to be true just three or four months later has done nothing to shake the arrogance of the corrupt mass media, who are entrenched in their monopoly over the news cycle, thanks to their access to state funding and political favors. And this is true in Italy as virtually everywhere else.

Read more …

Nature Magazine tries hard to find a role for the vaccines. It’s not there.

The vaccines don’t want to help or boost our immune system, they want to take over its role. And that is every bit as bad as it sounds.

What The Omicron Wave Is Revealing About Human Immunity (Nature)

Immune memory depends on more than just antibodies. Even when antibody levels drop, memory B cells can recognize a return invader, divide, and quickly start churning out antibodies to fight it. And the memory B-cell response improves over time, at least in the short term. Six months after vaccination, the individuals in Wherry’s study6 had elevated numbers of memory B cells that responded not only to the original SARS-CoV-2, but also to three other variants of concern. And then there are T cells, the third pillar of immune memory. On coming into contact with an antigen, these multiply into a pool of effector cells that act to wipe out the infection. Killer T cells quickly divide to assassinate infected cells, and various types of helper T cell secrete chemical signals that stimulate other parts of the immune system, including B cells. After the threat has passed, some of these cells persist as memory T cells.


Some people might carry memory T cells from past coronavirus infections — such as those that cause common colds — that can recognize SARS-CoV-2. These cells could help to fight the infection, or even stop it completely. One study7 found that health-care workers who were exposed to SARS-CoV-2 but never tested positive had subtle signs of a response to infection. The researchers hypothesize that cross-reactive T cells shut the infection down before it could take hold. “These people did have an infection in a sort of loosest sense of the word,” says Mala Maini, an immunologist at University College London who led the study. But “there’s probably not much virus around because it’s being shut down very quickly”. This idea is still controversial, and the phenomenon might be rare. Memory cells typically can’t block infection in the way that neutralizing antibodies can, but they don’t necessarily need to.

With COVID-19, infection happens quickly, but it takes a little while to cause serious illness. That gives memory T cells some time to do their jobs. When re-exposed to a virus or booster, these cells will kick into overdrive, “proliferating like crazy”, Crotty says. “In a 24-hour period, you can get a tenfold increase in the number of your memory T cells.” That’s probably not fast enough to have much of an effect on getting sick, he adds. But it could be fast enough to prevent hospitalization. And it’s much harder for the virus to find a way around the T-cell response. That’s because T cells in one individual recognize different parts of the virus than do T cells in another individual. So a virus could mutate to escape one person’s T-cell response, but not another’s. “Escape is meaningless at the population level,” Crotty says. Also, T cells can see parts of the virus (or the spike protein) that antibodies can’t, including pieces that are less likely to mutate.

Read more …

More on RNA potential to change DNA, via reverse transcriptase. Don’t be a guinea pig.

Lethal Mutagenesis As An Antiviral Strategy (Science)

There is a gap in our knowledge in scaling short-term lab-based assays (using bacteria, animal cells, and animal models) for mutagenic activity with long-term risk to human health. Mutagens that are incorporated during cellular DNA synthesis are problematic for a developing fetus (where cells are undergoing rapid division), male germline cells (which continue to divide throughout life), and cancer risk (where the small fraction of human cells that are dividing have the potential to incorporate a mutation that could contribute to cancer development). Humans are exposed to mutagens throughout life—for example, DNA mutations are induced by x-ray imaging or during air travel—so there are levels of DNA damage that are considered to be largely inconsequential.


If the molnupiravir metabolite NHC really is a mutagen in dividing animal cells, how should negative data in an animal model be interpreted? Are such negative data sufficient to ensure long-term safety in humans, or does the lack of knowledge about the link between negative results in animal assays and long-term outcomes in human health need to be acknowledged? Molnupiravir use will come with some restrictions around short-term risks associated with reproductive health, but it may take years before potential long-term risks are understood. The best outcome, which is the assumption from the negative results in animals, is that molnupiravir treatment falls within the background level of exposure to mutagens that humans already experience and tolerate. The half-life of molnupiravir metabolites in human tissue is unknown.

[..] Molnupiravir has the potential to lower the disease burden of SARS-CoV-2 infections and help contain future emerging RNA viruses. However, how can its potential long-term effects as a mutagen be assessed? The following steps are suggested: Treatment should be restricted to those who will benefit the most, such as those who cannot tolerate other available treatments, those who have a preexisting condition that enhances the risk of COVID-19, and those who are more than 50 years of age and would be less affected by a potential long-term risk of cancer or reproductive risks. A registry of a cohort of people who received molnupiravir should be kept to longitudinally monitor the frequency of cancer and other potential outcomes so that the opportunity to understand the risk (or lack thereof) associated with the use of a mutagenic ribonucleoside as an antiviral is not missed.


Strategies to limit metabolism of mutagenic analogs from the ribonucleotide pool into the 2′ -deoxyribonucleotide pool should be explored to limit the potential DNA mutation load in the host. In addition, the viral population diversity should be evaluated after treatment with molnupiravir in those who fail to clear the virus to see whether the treatment accelerates viral evolution. Lethal mutagenesis has the potential to be an important antiviral strategy for RNA viruses, especially in emerging infections when there is an absence of virus-specific antivirals. The potential of this strategy should be exploited, but the possible risks should be acknowledged and addressed.

Read more …

Hmmm. A bit skeptical. The ONS provides stats in 100,000 person-years instead of 100,000 population, and for good reason, but what do they mean when numbers are very low?

British Children Up To 52 Times More Likely To Die Following A Covid Shot (LSN)

In December, the ONS published age-standardized data on the mortality rates of individuals in 5-year age sets in Britain, grouped by their “vaccination” status for the COVID-19 shots. The data accounts for the period from January 1 to October 31, 2021. The ONS tabulated “Monthly age-standardised mortality rates by age-group and vaccination status for deaths involving COVID-19, per 100,000 person-years” but presented the data only for ages 18 and over. However, the jabs are available to children as young as 12, and those children are allowed to receive the shot against their parents’ wishes. In limited cases, children as young as 5 have been given a reduced dosage of the shots.


Nevertheless, as noted by The Exposé, a separate table outlining “deaths and person-years by vaccination status” includes 5-year age groups from 10-years-old and up. From the data provided, a calculation of the mortality rate per 100,000 person-years can be made. The rate per 100,000 person-years delineation is used in preference over the simpler 100,000 population calculation to better represent the mortality rates over a specific period of time, as people in one “vaccination” group – such as un-jabbed, single-jabbed, and double-jabbed – soon move into the next group.

[..] the 100,000 person-years calculation can be made, with the younger group coming out at 20.9 un-jabbed per 100,000 person-years and the older group at 15.9. Following this, the mortality rate per 100,000 person-years is worked out by dividing the number of deaths within each group by the 100,000 person-years calculation. The result is that for the 10-14 year group, the un-jabbed mortality per 100,000 person-years is 4.6 while the un-jabbed mortality rate per 100,000 person-years for the 15 19 group is 10.1. Using the same data set and calculation, the mortality rate for 10-14-year-olds who received one dose of the jabs suffered a 45.1 per 100,000 person-years death rate, while 15 19-year-olds with one jab suffered 18.3 deaths per 100,00 person-years.

Read more …

[..] the 15 per cent recorded when the death rate was at its peak in May 2020.. [..] by Tuesday the CFR had fallen to 0.19 per cent…

Rejoice! An End To The Dreaded Covid Count… (Hoenderkamp)

The Government last month signalled its intention to scrap the legal requirement for infected people to self-isolate on March 24, and yesterday it was claimed that it will stop releasing daily Covid updates in April. To which I say ‘Rejoice!’ – but why can’t we end both practices today? And, while we’re about it, stop testing too. If you think such a course sounds alarmingly precipitate, allow me to explain why there is no need to delay a moment longer. The truth is that the advent of the highly infectious (although markedly milder) Omicron variant has changed everything. Last week the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) – the proportion of infected people who died of Covid – was hovering at around 0.95 per cent.


That is way below the 15 per cent recorded when the death rate was at its peak in May 2020 when testing was minimal. And since Monday, when the Office For National Statistics included ‘reinfections’ – people who have contracted the virus more than once – on its daily Covid dashboard for the first time, the CFR has plummeted still further. With the addition of hundreds of thousands of cases to the weekly total, by Tuesday the CFR had fallen to 0.19 per cent, a percentage akin to that of flu, an illness which currently has a fatality rate of between 0.1 and 0.2 per cent. The average age of death from Covid, meanwhile, remains at the pre-pandemic 82, with data from the US showing that 75 per cent of people who die with Covid have no fewer than four underlying serious conditions.

Read more …

Oh c’mon, we need to study that? “We found it remarkable, and striking..” says a doctor. How many lives were lost?

Study Offers Strongest Proof Yet Of Vitamin D’s Power To Fight Covid (ToI)

Israel scientists say they have gathered the most convincing evidence to date that increased vitamin D levels can help COVID-19 patients reduce the risk of serious illness or death. Researchers from Bar Ilan University and the Galilee Medical Center say that the vitamin has such a strong impact on disease severity that they can predict how people would fare if infected based on nothing more than their ages and vitamin D levels. Lacking vitamin D significantly increases danger levels, they concluded in newly peer-reviewed research published Thursday in the journal PLOS One. The study is based on research conducted during Israel’s first two waves of the virus, before vaccines were widely available, and doctors emphasized that vitamin supplements were not a substitute for vaccines, but rather a way to keep immunity levels from falling.

Vitamin D deficiency is endemic across the Middle East, including in Israel, where nearly four in five people are low on the vitamin, according to one study from 2011. By taking supplements before infection, though, the researchers in the new Israeli study found that patients could avoid the worst effects of the disease. “We found it remarkable, and striking, to see the difference in the chances of becoming a severe patient when you are lacking in vitamin D compared to when you’re not,” said Dr. Amiel Dror, a Galilee Medical Center physician and Bar Ilan researcher who was part of the team behind the study. He noted that his study was conducted pre-Omicron, but said that the coronavirus doesn’t change fundamentally enough between variants to negate vitamin D effectiveness.

“What we’re seeing when vitamin D helps people with COVID infections is a result of its effectiveness in bolstering the immune systems to deal with viral pathogens that attack the respiratory system,” he told The Times of Israel. “This is equally relevant for Omicron as it was for previous variants.” [..] In June, researchers published preliminary findings showing that 26 percent of coronavirus patients died if they were vitamin D deficient soon before hospitalization, compared to 3% who had normal levels of vitamin D. They also determined that hospitalized patients who were vitamin D deficient were 14 times more likely, on average, to end up in severe or critical condition than others.

Read more …

Attorney’s advice: “Stay out of the hospital, no matter what.”

Calls for Help From Families of Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19 (ET)

Attorney Esther Bodek in Aurora, Colorado, also knows of a patient’s family members who were arrested when communications with a hospital went sour. She says requests from families of COVID-19 patients have flooded in since November. “It’s traumatizing,” Bodek said, “because it is a level of civil rights abuses that I have never encountered in my entire life.” In case after case, she’s seen a pattern of separating COVID-19 patients from their families and restricting visitation. “And during that period of time is usually when the remdesivir is administered.” Some families coming to her for help often strenuously object to treatment with remdesivir. When other treatments have failed, they desperately want to try things the hospital won’t allow, such as ivermectin and vitamins.

Those are part of a popular protocol used by independent doctors around the country and by people treating themselves at home. Bodek has fought many times to obtain those medications as a last-ditch effort to save a patient. She said the resistance she faces when dealing with the hospitals is maddening. “Any question about treatment starts immediate combativeness [by hospital staff], from what I’ve seen in the pattern of our cases,” she said. She’s had clients denied fluids and nutrition to the point of near-starvation. Since taking those cases she works night and day seven days a week. On the weekend, “I’ll be on the phone and talking to somebody in tears,” she said. “The hospital’s telling them they want to pull the plug and they’re trying to make a decision.

The doctor says, ‘We’re going to take him off life support now.’ And I’ve had to say ‘No! That’s not their choice!’” One of her clients works in billing in a hospital and told her that hospitals receive a bonus payment of $17,000 from the federal government for every patient confirmed to have COVID-19, Bodek said. A bonus payment of $37,000 is paid for any patient going on a ventilator, according to that client, Bodek said. [..] Bodek’s advice: “Stay out of the hospital, no matter what. And if it happens that you’re admitted, have a medical power of attorney immediately written up to say no to remdesivir.” She’s looking into filing civil rights violations lawsuits if claims of medical malpractice won’t work. “I’m determined to find a way to stop this abuse,” Bodek said. “This is definitely a fight we’re not giving up.”

Read more …

Vaccine Insanity Syndrome (VIS).

Justin Trudeau is a Bungler and Menace to His Nation (Kohlmayer)

At the beginning of January, Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, posted a message on Twitter in which he announced that he had just received his Covid vaccine booster and urged others to do likewise. At the end of January, Justin Trudeau posted a message on Twitter in which he announced that he had tested positive for Covid-19. Astoundingly, at the conclusion of his message Trudeau urged everyone to get the shots even though they failed to protect him from the disease. “Everyone, please get vaccinated and get boosted,” he insisted. Trudeau’s message shows the depth of irrationality – bordering on insanity – to which many have fallen victim. We propose to call this phenomenon the Vaccine Insanity Syndrome (VIS).

Those who suffer from VIS have largely lost touch with reality and things like common sense, evidence and logic no longer gain any traction in their thinking. Just to summarize the absurdity of the whole situation: Having been previously vaccinated, Trudeau gets additionally boostered and three weeks later contracts Covid-19. To put it in a different way, shortly after getting his third shot, Canada’s Prime Minister falls ill with the very disease against which these “effective” injections were supposed to protect him. But rather than repenting of his mistake, he goes on Twitter and advises the Canadian people to do the same. Where is any logic in this? Has Covid affected Trudeau’s brain? Or was it the injections that somehow diminished his capacity for thought and reflection?

If anything, Trudeau should be “Exhibit One” for why people should not get vaccinated and boostered, since he is now Canada’s poster boy for vaccine failure. Why, then, is he telling Canadians to do what he did? It cannot be because the vaccines and boosters will protect them against infection. The opposite is, in fact, the case. The data coming from all over the world is showing that the vaccinated are more likely to become infected than the unvaccinated. According to Steve Kirsch, “The numbers in the Denmark study described below are now confirmed by government data from Germany showing that vaccinated people are 8X more likely to develop Omicron than unvaccinated people. This is not surprising since a paper from Germany showed the same thing: the more you vaccinate, the worse it gets.”

Justin Trudeau, however, does not have to go to foreign lands to learn of vaccine failure. Below is a chart from Ontario which gives case numbers according to vaccination status. You will notice that the numbers for the fully vaccinated are more than three times those of the unvaccinated.

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“It took Columbus less time to cross the Atlantic..”

We Were Warned About the Ports (Sammon)

In July 2015, the Federal Maritime Commission, a federal agency with little name recognition and even less influence, released a report sounding the alarm about the state of America’s ports. A congestion crisis had been building for years and was fast becoming untenable; even the country’s relatively tepid economic-growth rate was straining against decades of disinvestment at its most critical trading hubs. Chassis weren’t available, trucks couldn’t get in or out, and terminals stayed perpetually clogged. That crisis had “resulted from events that have developed or emerged over a considerable period of time and from within the system itself, rather than being the result of external shocks, such as unanticipated surges in container volumes or management-labor issues,” the report surmised.

“Many seem to think it is inevitable that embracing ‘business as usual’ will lead to significant further declines in the performance of the U.S. intermodal transportation system.” And then, of course, business went on as usual. Almost five years passed before the coronavirus announced itself on American shores, and another year after that before the disease gave an already fissured supply chain the nudge it needed to fully rupture. And while the circumstances of a global pandemic, its shutdowns and labor shortages, seemed exceptional, it was something as routine as a double-digit import growth, feared specifically by the FMC since at least 2006, that sent shipping container volume skyrocketing and brought the system to a grinding halt. A prophecy that few heard and no one heeded had finally come true.

Before the Biden administration was even sworn in, the ports were already in a state of chaos. It got worse throughout the year, and by the time the administration appointed its ports czar John Porcari and began looking toward emergency intervention, only minor measures were even available to remedy decades of bipartisan mismanagement. Today, congestion at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, collectively the nation’s largest, is “at historic high levels,” as the shipping giant Maersk announced in a customer advisory in late December. Reporting indicated that there were 133 vessels en route to San Pedro Bay, with delays stretching upward of 41 days. One ship in particular had left Busan, South Korea, on November 17 and was not scheduled to dock until January 2, a 47-day duration for a routine voyage that should take, at most, half that time. “It took Columbus less time to cross the Atlantic,” said Sal Mercogliano, an associate professor and maritime historian at Campbell University.

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Jemima Kelly’s FT ed. tries to defend Rogan, but what’s this?:

“..when he is wrong, he admits it, as he did recently when his claim that young people were at greater risk of developing myocarditis after the vaccine than they were after contracting Covid was swiftly corrected by a guest on his show..”

Spotify Spat Shows Why Joe Rogan And His Podcast Matter (FT)

The contrast between the vague virtue-signalling of the Sussexes’ statement and Rogan’s engaged response — which seemed authentic, humble and searching — shows why his show has become Spotify’s most popular podcast. With an estimated 11mn listeners per episode, the 54 year-old comedian and mixed martial arts commentator must be considered one of the most influential media figures in the world. With that power comes moral and intellectual responsibility and Rogan does not always seem totally aware of that. He was perhaps not mindful enough of the potential impact on his mainly young fans when he casually declared that if a fit and healthy 21-year-old asked him whether to get vaccinated, he would tell them not to.

He also gets his facts wrong sometimes, despite asserting them confidently. But when he is wrong, he admits it, as he did recently when his claim that young people were at greater risk of developing myocarditis after the vaccine than they were after contracting Covid was swiftly corrected by a guest on his show. One should not imagine that if Rogan were shut down, we would be rid of anyone wanting to pursue ideas that run against the grain. Nor should we want such a world — as Rogan points out in his video, some things once dismissed as conspiracy theories, such as the lab leak theory of Covid-19’s origins, are now considered plausible. Conspiracy theories did not spring into being with the arrival of podcasts or the internet — Gallup polling suggests that in 1976, 81 per cent of Americans believed there had been a conspiracy to kill John F Kennedy, contrary to the official line.

It is surely healthier, then, to have someone like Rogan willing to discuss controversial opinions with those who hold them than to confine these people to a corner of the internet where they are less visible but also less easy to correct when they are wrong. That’s quite apart from the fact that it would be utterly ineffective for Spotify to oust Rogan. The idea that the company gives him a platform that he would otherwise lack is fanciful. When Spotify reportedly paid more than $100mn for the exclusive rights to Rogan’s podcast in 2020, it was so as to benefit from the platform he already had.

I told a friend that I might write about Rogan in my column this week. The response I got was “Oh, God!” and a grimace, quickly followed by a confession that she had actually never listened to his podcast. The truth is that many of the people castigating Rogan haven’t either. If they had, they would know that the presenter is an open-minded host who seeks out all sorts of opinions rather than blindly following those of a particular tribe, and who seems genuinely keen to pursue the truth. Joe Rogan doesn’t need Spotify, but Spotify needs him; maybe we all do.

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“Trust in the media has fallen to just 46 percent and as low as 40 percent in recent polling. Where are people going for information? It seems many have gone to podcasts — and specifically to Joe Rogan, at least 11 million of them.”

Can Joe Rogan Save Free Speech? (Turley)

[..] social media companies and other corporations now regulate speech in the United States to a degree that an actual state media would struggle to replicate. Faced with a growing cancel culture, companies are scrubbing their platforms of dissenting viewpoints and converting forums into echo chambers. In the use of private companies, the left has achieved an ignoble distinction. While liberal writers and artists were blacklisted and investigated in the 1950s, liberal activists have succeeded in censoring opposing views to a degree that would have made Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) blush. Rather than burn books, they have simply gotten stores to ban them or blacklist the authors.

For these companies, there is no value to protecting the speech rights of dissenting voices with powerful politicians, academics, and even some in the media demanding more censorship. But then they went after Rogan. Rogan’s popularity is precisely due to the fact that he is uncensored in what he says. As many networks and newspapers have become more of an echo chamber, viewers and readers have fled en masse. Trust in the media has fallen to just 46 percent and as low as 40 percent in recent polling. Where are people going for information? It seems many have gone to podcasts — and specifically to Joe Rogan, at least 11 million of them. While Young reportedly relies on Spotify for 60 percent of his royalty income, Spotify does not rely on Young or other rock stars for its primary profits. It is the reverse of market conditions from just a couple years ago.

The problem with controlling speech is that it has to be complete; it doesn’t work if there are alternatives to echo-chambered media. Rogan’s podcast is one of the biggest. With 11 million listeners, he surpassed cable and network audiences as well as the readership of the largest papers. His program allows people across the political spectrum to speak freely, including those who question official positions on vaccines and treatments. While Rogan has promised to be more careful in how information is presented on his show (and Spotify will add “advisories” on podcasts), his podcast survived the celebrity onslaught. As various investors seek to create free speech alternatives to Twitter and YouTube, there may be an emerging market for free speech products.

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North Korea doesn’t have much internet. But still funny.

North Korea Hacked Him. So He Took Down Its Internet (Wired)

For the past two weeks, observers of North Korea’s strange and tightly restricted corner of the internet began to notice that the country seemed to be dealing with some serious connectivity problems. On several different days, practically all of its websites—the notoriously isolated nation only has a few dozen—intermittently dropped offline en masse, from the booking site for its Air Koryo airline to Naenara, a page that serves as the official portal for dictator Kim Jong-un’s government. At least one of the central routers that allow access to the country’s networks appeared at one point to be paralyzed, crippling the Hermit Kingdom’s digital connections to the outside world.

Some North Korea watchers pointed out that the country had just carried out a series of missile tests, implying that a foreign government’s hackers might have launched a cyberattack against the rogue state to tell it to stop saber-rattling. But responsibility for North Korea’s ongoing internet outages doesn’t lie with US Cyber Command or any other state-sponsored hacking agency. In fact, it was the work of one American man in a T-shirt, pajama pants, and slippers, sitting in his living room night after night, watching Alien movies and eating spicy corn snacks—and periodically walking over to his home office to check on the progress of the programs he was running to disrupt the internet of an entire country.

Just over a year ago, an independent hacker who goes by the handle P4x was himself hacked by North Korean spies. P4x was just one victim of a hacking campaign that targeted Western security researchers with the apparent aim of stealing their hacking tools and details about software vulnerabilities. He says he managed to prevent those hackers from swiping anything of value from him. But he nonetheless felt deeply unnerved by state-sponsored hackers targeting him personally—and by the lack of any visible response from the US government. So after a year of letting his resentment simmer, P4x has taken matters into his own hands. “It felt like the right thing to do here. If they don’t see we have teeth, it’s just going to keep coming,” says the hacker. [..] “I want them to understand that if you come at us, it means some of your infrastructure is going down for a while.”

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You’re inclined to say: EPIC! But it’s really just what every reporter should do every single time.

Reporter Shreds Admin Spox Over ‘Russian False Flag’ Claims (ZH)

Earlier on Thursday the Biden administration and US intelligence came out with some explosive and outlandish claims, saying Russia is planning to release a video depicting graphic scenes of a “staged false explosion with corpses, actors depicting mourners, and images of destroyed locations and military equipment,” as CNN described it. This in order to justify a military invasion of Ukraine, given the false flag operation would feature Russian-backed separatists under attack by Ukrainian forces. Given such a narrative has been advanced in public, grabbing global headlines, but without so much as a shred of evidence – even mainstream media pundits are scratching their heads. Watch Associated Press writer Matt Lee demolish the State Department’s Ned Price, who refuses to provide any level of proof backing the bizarre and surprising claims. “This is like Alex Jones territory you’re getting into now!” Lee points out…


Peace?

[..] “Lee challenged Price, saying the State Department had presented “no evidence” that Russia has actually created a “crisis actor” video and insisting that he wouldn’t be satisfied with the administration’s claims alone. “If you doubt the credibility of the U.S. government, of the British government, of other governments and want to, you know, find solace in information that the Russians are putting out, that is for you to do,” Price responded.” Lee then pointed that given the extraordinary claims, some level of evidence is demanded given the mounting numbers of whopping government lies over the past two decades, including ‘Iraq WMDs’.


Price hid behind the “that’s classified” classic line often used whenever government officials want to shut down legitimate skepticism of their claims… “Like, ‘crisis actors’? This is Alex Jones territory you’re getting into,” he said. “Where is the declassified information?,” he repeated multiple times.In pressing for evidence to justify the administration’s claims, the veteran reporter referenced numerous U.S. intelligence failures that led to catastrophe in recent decades, including the “weapons of mass destruction” speculation that served as a pretext for America’s 2003 military intervention in Iraq as well as the U.S. timeline for Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban that was totally upended in August.

@StateDeptSpox
https://twitter.com/i/status/1489374971948376064

“We’re declassifying evidence Government X may try to misinform you”
“What’s the evidence you’re declassifying?”
“I just gave you the evidence”
“Uhhh, you just made a statement, that’s not evidence”
“If you don’t trust my bizarre claims, something is wrong with you”

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steroidbanking

 

 

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Feb 012022
 


Pablo Picasso Woman in an armchair (Olga) 1922

 

The Revolt Begins (Jim Kunstler)
Now Is the Time for Mass Resignations From Within the Ruling Class (Tucker)
Mandatory Covid Rules Morph Into Global Power-grab (Mitch Feierstein)
We Are All Canadian Truckers Now! (Ron Paul)
Trudeau Reappears To Denounce ‘Freedom Convoy’ Truckers (RT)
No 10 Set For U-turn Over Mandatory Covid Jabs For NHS Staff In England (G.)
Why Joe Rogan Remains The World’s Most Popular Podcaster (Cheong)
The Left Tries to Deplatform . . . Critics of Big Pharma? (Geraghty)
Since We’re Taking Shots…. (Denninger)
COVID-19-Infected HIV Patient Developed 21 Mutations (ET)
Documents via FOI from Pfizer (Delaney)
Newly Released State Memos Undercut Democrats’ Ukraine Impeachment Story (JTN)
JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass by Oliver Stone (Curtin)
Checkmate in Ukraine (Ritter)
Trudeau Tests Positive For Fascism (BBee)

 

 

 

 

The needle and the damage done…
https://twitter.com/i/status/1486436415390904321

 

 

(“Let’s Go, Brandon!”) And Let’s go, Canadian truckers!

The Revolt Begins (Jim Kunstler)

For now, the truckers seem determined to stick around and disrupt the Canadian capital. Their estimated 50,000 rigs could surround the city and create siege conditions, where food supplies and other goods won’t get in, starving the government into surrendering on its mandates and restrictions. So far, the local Ottawa police have stood by with a very light hand, and there are rumors that they are on the same page as the truckers against federal overreach. Will Mr. Trudeau resort to using the military to break up the revolt? Good luck with that. Like virtually every other “advanced” nation, Canada depends on trucks and truckers to move everything needed for everyday life. The truckers can just say no… we don’t feel like working this month. No poutine or Cornish pasties for you, Ottawa! Then what? Throw them all in jail? How will that help move stuff from Point A to Point B?

It kind of looks like they have Mr. T over a Molson barrel. For now, it’s a stand-off, but it looks to me like the Prime Minister must resign and whoever takes charge next will have to rapidly rethink the country’s entire Covid-19 policy in a not-insane direction. The Canadian revolt appears to be inspiring similar operations in the US, where a movement has started for a massive trucker convoy from California to Washington, DC — the swampy pivot-point of Covid tyranny under the phantasm known as “Joe Biden” — as a very general way of saying we’ve had enough of being pushed around by political grifters and their bureaucratic subalterns.The Covid-19 saga gets darker every day, while the official alibis, cover-stories, and disinfo ops bend ever deeper toward an arc of criminality. The US government has lied about every plot-line in the two-year horror show. In fact, a conscientious observer would have to conclude the following:

That the government’s highest-paid employee, Dr. Anthony Fauci, led surreptitiously in the creation and release of a bioweapon; that he and his cohorts, along with the pharma companies, and other interested parties such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization, enabled the release of so-called “vaccines” (genetic treatments) that were at least as deadly as the disease itself; that as a result of the shots many people of all ages will die before their natural time; that the process is already underway as documented in the all-causes death data tallied by insurance companies; that the same government officials maliciously suppressed viable, inexpensive, FDA-approved treatments for Covid-19 in order to herd the populace into receiving dangerous “vaccines”; that said officials have worked strenuously to muddle and fake the statistics that would show who is actually dying of what; and that the entire fiasco appears to have been ginned up in order to systematically control the population in ways contrary to our natural rights while killing off a substantial number of us.

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Wishful thinking?

Now Is the Time for Mass Resignations From Within the Ruling Class (Tucker)

We’ve been assured by David Hume (1711–1776) and Etienne de la Boétie (1530–1563) that government rule is untenable when it loses the consent of the governed. “Resolve to serve no more,” wrote Boétie, “and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall off his own weight and break into pieces.” That’s inspiring but what does it mean in practice? What precisely is the mechanism by which the overlords in our time are effectively overthrown? We’ve seen this in totalitarian states, in states with one-man rule, in states with unelected monarchies.

But unless I’m missing something, we’ve not seen this in a developed democracy with an administrative state that holds the real power. We have scheduled elections but those are unhelpful when 1) elected leaders are not the real source of power, and 2) when the elections are too far in the distant future to deal with a present emergency. One very easy and obvious path away from the current crisis is for the ruling class to admit error, repeal the mandates, and simply allow for common freedoms and rights for everyone. As easy as that sounds, this solution hits a hard wall when faced with ruling-class arrogance, trepidation, and the unwillingness to admit past errors for fear of what that will mean for their political legacies. For this reason, absolutely no one expects the likes of Trudeau, Ardern, or Biden to humbly apologize, admit that they were wrong, and beg the people’s forgiveness. On the contrary, everyone expects them to continue the game of pretend so long as they can get away with it.

The people on the streets today, and those willing to tell pollsters that they are fed up, are saying: no more. What does it mean for the ruling class not to get away with this nonsense anymore? Presuming that they do not resign, they do not call off the dogs of mandates and lockdowns, what is the next step? My instincts tell me that we are about to discover the answer. Electoral realignment seems inevitable but what happens before then? The obvious answer to the current instability is mass resignations within the administrative state, among the class of politicians that gives it cover, as well as heads of media organs that have propagandized for them. In the name of peace, human rights, and the renewal of prosperity and trust, this needs to happen today. Bury the pride and do what’s right. Do it now while there is still time for the revolution to be velvet.

Justin French

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“It almost feels like China has taken over the world..”

Mandatory Covid Rules Morph Into Global Power-grab (Mitch Feierstein)

Enter 2020 and the China virus aka COVID-19. Why was no one allowed to focus or ask about treatment protocols? Instead, a financially conflicted, unelected, 80-year-old bureaucrat named Anthony Fauci dictated tyrannical policies with narratives that had more holes in them than a 100 Kilo block Swiss cheese. Lord Fauci ratcheted the level of public fear up to 11 out of ten and issued the first lie, “two weeks to stop the spread”. Next, he bristled, “masks don’t work”, later demanding “mandatory masks”. Fauci’s dictates became more dictatorial and changeable than a kindergartener’s game of “Simon says”. These mandatory Covid rules morphed into several years of the most unprecedented global and tyrannical power-grab ever made by governments.

Let’s be clear; this authoritarian creep is the greatest existential threat to our western system of freedom—free speech, democracy, and liberty—in history. It almost feels like China has taken over the world. The mantra: It is mandatory you take four doses of an experimental biological agent with questionable efficacy, or we will destroy you, for which the side effects seem underreported, and the effectiveness appears overstated. The dishonest media unleashed an army of apparatchik Karen’s anyone daring non-compliance. If this pandemic was so terrible as to allow government tyranny, destruction of SMEs, and the middle class, why have we not seen a massive increase in total year-on-year global morbidity rates? Now, after using coercion: the fear of death and or the denial to earn a living to force unwilling members of society to participate in mass medical experiments, we have unprecedented numbers of deaths of working-age people ages 18-64 occurring.

A massive number of unexplained deaths have been reported by all insurance companies in Q3 and Q4 of 2021 [..] Regarding these deaths, OneAmerica’s CEO stated, “It may not have said COVID on the death certificates, but deaths in this age group are up massively”. Actuarial data is generally the most accurate data available. We know mass participation in the Pfizer, Moderna, and Astra Zeneca medical experiments with unknown long-term consequences; could these deaths be related? Why is the media not all over his story?

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“..now that the Berlin Wall of the tyrants has been breached, it’s just a matter of time before the shockwaves are felt far and wide.”

We Are All Canadian Truckers Now! (Ron Paul)

We all remember where we were when the Berlin Wall came down. While it may have seemed that communist rule would go on forever, when the people decided that they had enough suddenly the wall fell. Just like that. Thus it is after two years of Covid authoritarianism that in Canada the largest truck convoy in history has smashed through the Berlin Wall of tyranny. I have watched as the Canada I once respected as a haven for antiwar Americans in the 1960s turned into one of the most repressive countries on earth. I wondered how a freedom-loving people could allow themselves to be abused by these mini-Stalins without a peep. But then Canada stood up and showed the rest of the world that freedom can triumph over tyranny if the people demand it. As I say, no army can stop an idea whose time has come.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau had been basking in his ability to terrorize the population in the name of fighting a virus. He was so confident in his seemingly unlimited power that he felt he could ridicule any Canadian with different views. The prime minister said in a recent interview that unvaccinated Canadians were “extremists,” “misogynists,” and “racists.” When the Canadian truckers stood up to his tyranny and began their historic convoy to Ottawa, he thought he could continue ridiculing people. The truckers and their supporters were just a “small fringe minority” who hold “unacceptable views,” he confidently claimed. For Trudeau, love of liberty is just an “unacceptable view.”

Less than a week later, as tens of thousands of trucks began entering the capital with millions of supporters behind them, the “brave” Canadian prime minister had fled the city and shuffled off to an undisclosed location. As Elon Musk Tweeted, “It would appear that the so-called ‘fringe minority’ is actually the government.” The Canadian mainstream media is obviously just as obedient to the regime as ours. They ignored the Freedom Convoy for as long as possible. There was almost no reporting. Then, when it became impossible to ignore, they began to attack and ridicule instead of trying to report it accurately. It was disgusting and almost comical to see a “reporter” from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation suggest that the Canadian Freedom Convoy was cooked up by Putin and the Russians!

Thousands of trucks have arrived in Ottawa. They demand an end to covid tyranny. They are backed by millions of citizens, who braved the Canadian winter at night to cheer the truckers on. This protest is so important because it’s not limited to Canada. The truckers are being supported worldwide, and a similar convoy is being planned from California to Washington, DC. In a US where grocery store shelves are increasingly bare, the truckers have more leverage than the powers-that-be would like to admit. If I were prime minister of totalitarian Australia or New Zealand – or most anywhere in Europe – I would be getting pretty nervous right now. Just as the Covid tyranny descended across the globe in a seemingly coordinated fashion, now that the Berlin Wall of the tyrants has been breached, it’s just a matter of time before the shockwaves are felt far and wide.

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“Nazi symbolism, racist imagery and desecration of war memorials”

Trudeau Reappears To Denounce ‘Freedom Convoy’ Truckers (RT)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reappeared in public after several days, criticizing the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers protesting his vaccine mandates in Ottawa as tainted by racist, Nazi extremists desecrating war memorials. After reports that he had been moved to an “undisclosed location” over the weekend due to security concerns, Trudeau emerged from hiding on Monday to announce that he tested positive for Covid-19 – despite having had it before, and being triple-vaccinated. He then held a virtual press conference to denounce the protest. “Canadians were shocked, and frankly disgusted by the behavior of some people protesting in our nation’s capital,” he said. “We are not intimidated by those who hurl insults and abuse at small business workers and steal food from the homeless.”


He also referenced reports in the Canadian media that at least three protesters climbed onto the National War Memorial and danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and that a Nazi flag and a Confederate flag were spotted at the protest. “Nazi symbolism, racist imagery and desecration of war memorials” are not acceptable free speech but “an insult to memory and truth,” Trudeau said. “We won’t give in to those who fly racist flags, we won’t cave to those who engage in vandalism or dishonor the memory of our veterans.” Trudeau also appealed to the “nearly 90% of truckers who’ve gotten vaccinated” who he said were doing the right thing by continuing to work, saying that “the behavior on display this weekend does not represent you.” “You can rely on us to continue to stand with you and allow you to do your jobs safely,” the PM added.

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80,000 is a big number…

No 10 Set For U-turn Over Mandatory Covid Jabs For NHS Staff In England (G.)

Downing Street appears likely to drop its policy of dismissing frontline NHS and care staff in England who refuse Covid vaccinations, a minister has strongly indicated, after nursing and care organisations called for this to happen. A decision would be made “in the course of the next few days”, according to Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury. He said the lower severity of the Omicron variant of Covid did “open a space” for the policy to be reversed. The apparent imminent U-turn came as the Royal College of Nursing argued that both the change in severity from Omicron and the number of NHS vacancies meant the mandatory vaccination policy should be dropped.

The National Care Association said it would also welcome a change of policy, while warning that many unvaccinated care staff had already lost their jobs in the run-up to the 1 April deadline. Speaking in a TV clip on a visit to Essex, Boris Johnson also indicated a likely change, saying Sajid Javid, the health secretary, “is saying a bit more later on about how you might deal with different variants of coronavirus because they have different implications when it comes to transmission”. The Guardian reported this month that an internal document drawn up by the Department of Health and Social Care said the growing evidence on the Omicron variant cast doubts over the new law’s “rationality” and “proportionality”.

Asked about reports of a change to the policy, Clarke told Sky News that ministers had hoped to find “the right balance between having the maximum impact for measures that support public safety in the face of the virus, but also have the minimum impact in terms of our wider freedoms as a society”. He added: “And it’s in that context that a decision was made last autumn to make sure we went ahead with the mandatory vaccination policy, and that was because, obviously, we had the Delta variant, which was extremely dangerous, and was taking a huge toll on our society, and we had to make sure that people going into hospital, very vulnerable people, whether they had Covid or another condition which required treatment, weren’t going to be faced with an increased risk of infection on the wards.

“We continue to monitor that situation very, very closely. What we know about Omicron is that it is much, much more transmissible but less severe – any decision that is taken this week will reflect that reality.

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“..the signatories of the open letter to Spotify declared the episode a “mass-misinformation event” and used it as an example to bill Rogan as a menace to public health.”

Why Joe Rogan Remains The World’s Most Popular Podcaster (Cheong)

While ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ has enough content to drive itself, much of the public curiosity about the show has been fanned by the hatred the corporate media has for its host. Described by CNN in 2020 as “libertarian-leaning,” Rogan has voted for a wide variety of political candidates, including Libertarian Party nominees Ron Paul and Gary Johnson in 2012 and 2016, and even endorsed left-winger Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic primaries. His politics are fairly middle of the road in terms of American politics. He’s fiscally conservative, but somewhat socially progressive, drawing the line when it comes to open borders, transgenderism in children, the participation of biologically male athletes in women’s sports, and high taxes. He’s also a strong supporter of free speech and the right to bear arms, which places him at odds with the majority of Democrats.

His remarks about transgenderism in sport became a bone of contention for Sanders’ progressive supporters, who described his views as “transphobic.” The subsequent outrage in gay, trans, and other communities over the senator’s embrace of Rogan’s endorsement was one of the more intricate and multifaceted political controversies of the election. In 2021, Rogan kicked the hornet’s nest when he was infected with coronavirus. Having been unvaccinated, he opted to use the antiparasitic drug ivermectin, monoclonal antibody therapy, and a host of other controversial treatments to aid his recovery. CNN claimed he had consumed “horse dewormer” – a point he took up with CNN fixture Dr. Sanjay Gupta when the neurosurgeon was a guest on his podcast. While ivermectin is used in veterinary medicine, it’s also approved for humans, and Rogan said it had been prescribed to him by a doctor – although the US Food and Drug Administration has never approved it as a treatment for Covid-19.

Rogan’s refusal to be vaccinated, his opposition to vaccine mandates, and his willingness to give airtime to guests who have been accused of “spreading medical misinformation” have resulted in numerous calls to get him deplatformed. More recently, he became the target of 270 “experts” – not all of whom, it should be noted, are medical professionals – who objected to the podcast having featured Dr. Robert Malone, one of the co-creators of the mRNA vaccine, because of the views he had expressed in it about the pandemic. Dr. Malone has been banned from Twitter for violating the platform’s Covid-19 misinformation policies, and the signatories of the open letter to Spotify declared the episode a “mass-misinformation event” and used it as an example to bill Rogan as a menace to public health.

‘Godfather of Grunge’ Neil Young then issued the platform with an ultimatum: that he would remove his music unless it removed Rogan, and then following through with his warning. Several other musicians, including Joni Mitchell, then followed suit. In an apparent concession, Spotify’s CEO announced new policies on “combating misinformation” about Covid-19, albeit without referencing Rogan by name. The streaming service will now make sure its creators “understand accountability” for posting “dangerous” content that dismisses Covid-19 as “a hoax” and “promotes or suggests” that coronavirus vaccines “are designed to cause death,” and listeners will be directed to “trusted sources” on these issues.

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“Voices on the left are now up in arms because Rogan is showcasing the arguments of critics of Big Pharma.”

The Left Tries to Deplatform . . . Critics of Big Pharma? (Geraghty)

You may love Joe Rogan, you may hate him, or you may not have strong feelings about him. I suspect that many of people who profess to hate Joe Rogan have either never listened to him or have listened to little more than a snippet. Zaid Jilani observed, “It’s interesting seeing so many conservatives rally around Joe Rogan when he’s probably more liberal than 90 percent of Americans. Agnostic dude who loves drug legalization, Bernie Sanders, thinks the CIA is awful, etc.” He later made the accurate point that the “average episode of Rogan is about [mixed-martial arts] or drugs and these folks think it’s like a Satanic cult ritual.”


Perhaps conservatives are rallying around Joe Rogan because they don’t need a figure to agree with 100 percent of their worldview in order to conclude that he is worth defending from an angry mob that desires censorship of differing views. It’s very clear that the people who are the most determined to “deplatform” Rogan — to force Spotify to cancel his show, and likely with that, get his videos off of YouTube as well — are battling a cartoon-like caricature that they’ve drawn in their heads. If you listen to Rogan defend his choices in a recently taped video, you’ll see that he’s not a lunkhead, and seems the opposite of a wide-eyed extremist ideologue, hungry to hammer a twisted narrative into brainwashed followers:

“There’s a lot of people who have a distorted perception of what I do — maybe based on soundbites or based on headlines of articles that are disparaging. The podcast has been accused of spreading dangerous misinformation. Specifically, about two episodes — a little about some other ones, but specifically about two. One with Dr. Peter McCullough and one with Dr. Robert Malone. Dr. Peter McCullough is a cardiologist, and he is the most published physician in his field in history. Dr. Robert Malone owns nine patents on the creation of MRNA-vaccine technology and is at least partially responsible for the creation of the technology that led to MRNA vaccines. Both these people are very highly credentialed, very intelligent, very accomplished people and they have an opinion that is different from the mainstream narrative. I wanted to hear what their opinion is. I had them on, and because of that, those episodes in particular, were labeled as being dangerous, had dangerous misinformation in them.

The problem I have with the term disinformation, especially today, is that many of the things we thought of as misinformation a short while ago are now accepted as fact. For instance, eight months ago, if you said, “If you get vaccinated, you can still catch Covid, and you can still spread Covid” — you would be removed from social media. They would ban you from certain platforms. Now, that’s accepted as fact. If you said, “I don’t think cloth masks work,” you would be banned from social media. Now, that’s openly and repeatedly stated on CNN. If you said I think it’s possible that Covid-19 came from a lab, you would be banned from many social-media platforms. Now that’s on the cover of Newsweek.* All of those theories, that at one point in time were banned, were openly discussed by those two men that I had on my podcast, that have been accused of “dangerous misinformation.” I do not know if they’re right. I don’t know, because I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist. I’m just a person who sits down, and talks to people, and has conversations with them. Do I get things wrong? Absolutely. I get things wrong. But I try to correct them. Whenever I get things wrong, I try to correct them. Because I’m interested in telling the truth.”

For a guy who’s supposed to be a dangerous megalomaniac who’s indoctrinating people into a hardline, deceitful ideology, Rogan seems awfully humble about what he knows and doesn’t know. De-platform Joe Rogan? We should give him a medal and hold him up as a role model for conducting probing, open-minded, respectful interviews. Want to know something spectacularly ironic? Drs. McCullough and Malone are opponents of Covid-19 vaccines in large part because of their skepticism and suspicion of the profit motive of big pharmaceutical companies. Voices on the left are now up in arms because Rogan is showcasing the arguments of critics of Big Pharma.

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“..an impossibility unless the vaccine was interfering with building that titer or destroyed existing antibody titers if jabbed after being infected and recovered.”

Since We’re Taking Shots…. (Denninger)

It is impossible to inject something without some of it ending up in the circulation — that is, in and around the endothelium. That begs the obvious question as to which is more-dangerous: A definite exposure of your endothelium to the spike from an injection or a possible one from infection if, and only if, you get severely hammered? Nobody knows and nobody has done the work to find out. Despite the signal in December of 2020 we went ahead anyway without first disproving that the balance of harms went the wrong way especially in healthy, low-risk individuals.

On top of this we knew very early on that there was no reduction in transmission from the jabs; a person who had a “breakthrough” was just as infectious (per Fauci and the CDC itself) and thus might be more-dangerous because by hiding symptoms you make the problem worse. If I do not know I’m sick I will not self-isolate in my home since I have no reason to suspect I’m infected. An inoculation that does not prevent infection, replication or transmission but prevents symptom expression is thus not only bad from a public health perspective its disastrous. Indeed one can reasonably make the argument that intentional blinding of symptoms is involuntary manslaughter. We have historical precedent for this, incidentally, in the fiasco surrounding the DTP vaccine in the 1970s and the twenty-fold higher case rate for pertussis today after the formula for that jab was changed to DTaP, a non-sterilizing inoculation that prevents neither infection or transmission. Do you think I can’t read history and the CDC’s own data on pertussis cases?

What’s worse is that we now know the jabs don’t work with any degree or durability at all. How do we know this? Because the CDC has proved it with their own contemporary data, that’s how. The >65 cohort is the most vaccinated in the United States. Indeed, the CDC says that 88.3% of those >65 have been fully vaccinated, and 64.3% have received boosters, that is, the third shot.

The proof they don’t work is that the CDC also reports that hospitalization among those >65 for Covid is roughly as high or higher this winter as it was last winter when there were no shots. With nearly 90% of that age cohort fully vaccinated across the entire United States if the jabs worked to prevent severe disease we would see a ratable decrease in hospitalization among that cohort. Indeed, since we know natural immunity is protective against severe disease for much longer than the jabs, at least one year, again by the CDC’s own data, if the jabs did nothing we’d expect to see a lower rate among that segment of the population simply because many of them already had the virus and survived. There are simply not enough unvaccinated and uninfected seniors remaining if the jabs work and yet there is in fact no decrease at all compared with last winter’s surge among the most-vaccinated population subgroup.

This strongly implies that what the jabs are doing is producing VEI (vaccine-enhanced infection); that is, causing actual harm and either wildly potentiating first infections or, far worse, destroying immunity from infection whether prior to or subsequent to vaccination such that people are getting the virus a second or subsequent time and not mildly either; they’re getting hammered since this is not relying on “infections”, it’s hospitalizations. We knew the latter was likely this summer, incidentally, because “N” protein seroprevalence in Britain flatlined during Delta — an impossibility unless the vaccine was interfering with building that titer or destroyed existing antibody titers if jabbed after being infected and recovered.

Never mind that there’s evidence these jabs may be back-boosting other common coronaviruses. That was known to be a risk in May of 2021. We see that in the data too; people showing up in the ER and Urgent Care with “covid-like illness” but they don’t have Covid, and a huge percentage of them are vaccinated. Are these jabs turning the common OC43 and HKU1 coronaviruses, that usually produce mild colds, into severe disease events? Maybe — and we knew they might in May of last year but didn’t bother to follow up on that either. Since OC43 is believed to have been the cause of a Covid-like pandemic in the 1890s if this proves up we will have screwed millions of Americans — or even perhaps tens of millions — instead of helping them.

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“Once again our experience reinforces previous reports that effective [anti-retroviral drugs are] the key to controlling such events.”

COVID-19-Infected HIV Patient Developed 21 Mutations (ET)

A South African woman suffering from “poorly controlled” HIV who also had COVID-19 for nine months saw the CCP virus develop at least 21 mutations while in her body, a recent preprint study found. The woman, 22, was able to overcome the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus which causes COVID-19, within six to nine weeks after she started taking anti-retroviral medication that is used to treat HIV, according to researchers at Stellenbosch and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. They concluded that “increased vigilance is warranted” among HIV patients who contract COVID-19 to “prevent the emergence” of COVID-19 variants. Notably, the Omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa in November 2021, and U.S. health officials say it’s now the dominant strain across the United States.

“This case, like others before, describes a potential pathway for the emergence of novel variants,” the scientists said in the pre-print study, adding that it is still a hypothesis and much more data is needed. “Our experience reinforces previous reports that effective anti-retroviral treatment is the key to controlling such events.” South Africa has the world’s largest HIV epidemic. About 8.2 million of out its 60 million population is infected with the virus. According to the researchers, the patient observed in the study had developed around 10 mutations on the CCP virus spike protein, which allows it to bind to cells, along with 11 other mutations. Some of the mutations were similar to those seen in the Omicron and Lambda variants, whereas others were consistent with mutations that allow the virus to bypass antibodies.

“Once again our experience reinforces previous reports that effective [anti-retroviral drugs are] the key to controlling such events. Once HIV replication is brought under control and immune reconstitution commences, rapid clearance of [the CCP virus] is achieved, probably even before full immune reconstitution occurs,” they said. “This underscores the broader point that gaps in the HIV care cascade need to be closed which will benefit other conditions and public health problems, too, including COVID-19.”

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Twitter thread with 11 clips. I lifted out nrs 7 and 8, where Dr. Nagase describes the process that -potentially- allows mRNA to enter and transform your DNA.

Documents via FOI from Pfizer (Delaney)

Documents via FOI from Pfizer… from over 40000 test subjects 31% suffered death & life long complications. Information was SENT to government health authorities in APRIL 2021

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I can’t read the name Nuland without getting shivers.

Newly Released State Memos Undercut Democrats’ Ukraine Impeachment Story (JTN)

Just months before Joe Biden forced his firing, Ukraine’s chief prosecutor was told by U.S. State Department officials that they were “impressed” with his anti-corruption plan and fully supportive of his work, according to newly released memos that cast doubt on a key Democrat impeachment narrative. During former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial two years ago, House Democrats alleged that Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was fired in March 2016 because State officials were widely displeased with his anti-corruption efforts and not because Shokin’s office was investigating the Ukrainian gas firm that had given then-Vice President Biden’s son Hunter a lucrative job.

But the memos obtained by Just the News and the Southeastern Legal Foundation under a Freedom of Information Act request show senior State Department officials — including then-Secretary of State John Kerry — were sending the opposite message to Shokin the summer before his firing. “We have been impressed with the ambitious reform and anti-corruption agenda of your government,” then-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland personally wrote Shokin in an official letter dated June 9, 2015 that was delivered to the prosecutor two days later by then-U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.

Nuland, now President Biden’s undersecretary of state, wrote that “Secretary Kerry asked me to reply on his behalf” to let Shokin know he enjoyed the full support of the United States as he set out to fight endemic corruption in the former Soviet republic. “The ongoing reform of your office, law enforcement, and the judiciary will enable you to investigate and prosecute corruption and other crimes in an effective, fair, and transparent manner,” Nuland added. “The United States fully supports your government’s efforts to fight corruption and other crimes in an effective, fair and transparent manner.”

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“..this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.”

JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass by Oliver Stone (Curtin)

Two of the greatest speeches ever delivered by an American president bookend this extraordinary documentary film. It opens with President John F. Kennedy giving the commencement speech at American University on June 10, 1963 and it closes with his civil rights speech to the American people the following day. It is a deft artistic touch that suggests the brevity of JFK’s heroic efforts for world peace and domestic racial equality and justice before he was assassinated in a public execution in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. In the former anti-war speech, he called for the end to the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the halt to the arms race, and the abolishment of war and its weapons, especially nuclear. He said:

“What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children – not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women – not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.” In the latter address to the American people, having just sent National Guard troops to the University of Alabama to make sure two black students were admitted despite the racist objections of Governor George Wallace, his words transcended the immediate issue at the university and called for the end to the immoral and illegal discrimination against African Americans in every area of the nation’s life. He said:

“One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.” Having framed the documentary thus, Oliver Stone and the screenwriter James DiEugenio do a masterful job of explaining what really happened in the years of Kennedy’s short presidency, why he was such a great threat to the CIA and the military-industrial complex, what really happened when they killed him, and how the Warren Commission, the CIA, and the corporate media have worked hand-in-hand to this day to cover up the truth.

The current two-hour version of JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass will be followed in a month or so by a more detailed four-hour version. The importance of this film is twofold: It establishes an updated historical record since the Assassination Records Review Board (AARB) was established as a result of Stone’s 1991 breakthrough film, JFK, which forced the release of previously hidden documents, and, more importantly, it emphatically shows why JFK’s assassination is crucial for understanding the United States today. For without a clear and unambiguous accounting of why he was killed and by whom (I do not mean the actual shooters), and who in the government and media has covered it up, we are doomed to repeat the past as this country has been doing ever since.

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“Russia has already declared that banning it from the Swift system for international monetary transactions will result in the immediate halt of Russian energy supplies to Europe.”

Checkmate in Ukraine (Ritter)

Despite the repeated Western warnings, Russia is highly unlikely to invade Ukraine — at least not yet. Instead, Russia appears to be entering a new phase of crisis management that seeks to exploit the weaknesses in the U.S./NATO alliance highlighted by their written responses to its demands. First, Russia will keep the diplomatic option open, but on its terms. Moscow has already engaged in so-called Normandy Format talks involving Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine over the ongoing crisis in Donbas. In the initial meeting, all parties agreed to respect the cease-fire in effect and to meet again in 10 days — the exact opposite of any imminent invasion by Russia. Note the absence of the U.S. and NATO from these talks.

Next, Russia will turn the threat of sanctions against the U.S. and Europe. Russia has already declared that banning it from the Swift system for international monetary transactions will result in the immediate halt of Russian energy supplies to Europe. Russia is expected to sign major economic agreements with China soon that will further insulate it from economic sanctions. China has made it clear it supports Russia in the current crisis, recognizing that if the West prevails against Russia, it will soon face a similar attack. Finally, Russia will exploit U.S. hypocrisy on spheres of influence and military alliances by entering military relationships with Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua and deploying a naval squadron to the Caribbean, with the potential for additional force deployments in the future.

With these three measures, Russia seeks to further isolate the U.S. from NATO and Europe. In the end, the U.S. will be confronted with one of two options, either agree to trade NATO’s open-door policy for Russian agreement not to deploy into the Western Hemisphere, or force a confrontation that will result in a Russian invasion of Ukraine that is seen by Europe as being the fault of the U.S.. The chess pieces are already being moved. While the U.S. may not see it, a Russian checkmate can be predicted sooner, rather than later.

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“..his replacement glue-on vanity eyebrows are still stuck on a delivery truck somewhere..”

Trudeau Tests Positive For Fascism (BBee)

From an undisclosed hiding place outside Canada’s capital city, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed for the world that he has tragically tested positive for fascism. “I took the fascism test this morning,” said Trudeau, beginning to sob. “And the test came back positive. I understand this may come as devastating news to freedom-loving Canadians, and I am here to assure you that everything will be ok… after I crush you underneath the jackboot of government tyranny until you learn to start obeying me.” “Together, we will achieve strength through unity, and unity through faith. In SCIENCE.”

According to sources, Trudeau will remain in his hiding place under quarantine until all the scary protesting truckers go away, after which he will emerge to grind his people into the very dust until they accept his vision for a glorious fascist future for Canada. Fortunately, his plans have been delayed as his replacement glue-on vanity eyebrows are still stuck on a delivery truck somewhere, and the fascist dictator refuses to be seen without them.

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• Merck’s COVID-19 pill encourages sexually actively men “to use a reliable method of contraception correctly and consistently during treatment and for at least 3 months after the last dose of molnupiravir. The risk beyond 3 months after the last dose of molnupiravir is unknown..“

• Paxlovid interacts with 32 classes of drugs. Not 32 drugs….32 classes.

• Both are apparently less toxic than ivermectin per the FDA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

Jan 282022
 


Pablo Picasso Bust of woman with arms raised 1922

 

White House Calls CNN Report On Russian Invasion ‘Completely False’ (RT)
The Covid Evidence Dismissed By The BBC As ‘Conspiracy-laden’ (Beck)
The High Cost of Disparaging Natural Immunity to Covid (Makary)
4 Out of 5 Americans Have Covid ‘Natural Immunity’ (KB)
Denmark Declares Covid-19 No Longer ‘Socially Critical Disease’ (TH)
Sweden Opts Against Covid Jabs For Children (RT)
Vaccine Failure In Two Charts And Two Graphs From Four Countries (Berenson)
Most Covid Patients In Wales In Hospital For Other Conditions (BBC)
Biden Admin Used Billions In Hospital Covid-19 Funds To Pay Drugmakers (STAT)
The Folly of Pandemic Censorship (Taibbi)
Joe Rogan, Elon Musk React To Canadian Trucker Convoy (RT)
Truckers Inspired By Canada Begin ‘Freedom’ Convoys Around The World (JTN)
Musk Unloads On ‘Puppet’ Biden In Twitter Rant (RT)
China Warns US Over Ukraine & Blasts “Interference” In Beijing Olympics (ZH)
Why Do American Elites Want War in Ukraine? (Kassam)
What Did Clinton Know and When Did She Know It? (Sperry)

 

 

 

 

US military: average per year 1.7 million reports of all diseases combined. First 10 months 2021: 22 million.

 

 

Scary indeed.

Ryan Cole

 

 

Natasha Bertrand posted a story about a Biden-Zelensky call that didn’t go well, but deleted it soon afterward. Still, people from the White House, Ukraine and CNN itself reacted to it. Was it all for clickbait?

White House Calls CNN Report On Russian Invasion ‘Completely False’ (RT)

The White House has pushed back on a CNN report about Thursday’s phone call between US President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, calling it “completely false.” “President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February. He has previously said this publicly and we have been warning about this for months. Reports of anything more or different than that are completely false,” Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, tweeted on Thursday evening. She was responding to a tweet by CNN’s senior national security correspondent Alexander Marquardt, who was quoting his colleague in Kiev, Matthew Chance.

“A Russian invasion is now virtually certain once the ground freezes, Biden said to Zelensky, a senior Ukrainian official told [Chance]. Kyiv could be ‘sacked,’ Russian forces may attempt to occupy it, ‘prepare for impact’, Biden said, according to this official,” Marquardt tweeted. CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper had Chance cite “the Ukrainian official” live on air. “The capital, Kiev, this city here, could be “sacked.” That’s the word he [Biden] apparently used, according to this Ukrainian official. [It could be] sacked by Russian forces,” Chance told Tapper. Chance went on to quote what he called a “quite impactful line” from the Biden-Zelensky call as narrated to him by the anonymous Ukrainian official. “President Biden [was] telling his Ukrainian counterpart that Ukraine should prepare for impact. Quite a stark warning there from the US leader.”

The quote was quickly picked up by other outlets, such as the Independent, the Express and the Daily Mail. Meanwhile, CNN anchor Jim Sciutto quoted Horne as saying that “anonymous sources are ‘leaking’ falsehoods” about the call. Zelensky’s spokesman Sergii Nykyforov likewise dismissed reports citing the alleged “senior Ukranian official” as “completely false.” “Correct information can only be found in official releases from the Ukrainian and American sides,” he stated.

Phone call

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The UK Yellow Card system fails as badly as VAERS. And that is not a coincidence. It takes 40 minutes to fill out a form.

The Covid Evidence Dismissed By The BBC As ‘Conspiracy-laden’ (Beck)

Ms Bayliss has been gathering witness statements from those who allege they are vaccine-injured, and from potential expert witnesses in the US and the UK. She said: ‘We have subsequently uploaded 103 statements regarding vaccine associated deaths and injury, and 13 from identifiable whistleblowers, medical experts and scientists.’ To build his case, Mr Hyland investigated our medicines regulatory authority, specifically the alleged negligence of June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA. He said: ‘The charge against the MHRA is that they negligently conducted themselves and have caused British citizens real harm and suffering. ‘They have failed to act on any of the Yellow Card reports they have received. There are currently 2,000 deaths reported and 500,000 adverse events. They should have stopped the programme before the deaths reached 100 and launched a thorough investigation.’

The Yellow Card data show that 1 in 120 people have reported an event they considered serious enough to spend 40 minutes filling out a Yellow Card form. ‘This may be just the tip of the iceberg,’ said Ms Bayliss, ‘as the MHRA admit they receive information from around 10 per cent of those damaged.’ The figure is low because some doctors find they cannot access the Yellow Card scheme from their hospital computers, while others do not know about it. Members of the public are generally not informed about Yellow Card and most who complain to their GP that they think they have suffered a serious adverse event are told that the vaccine is an unlikely cause and their symptoms are put down to ‘coincidence’, as the Royal College of General Practitioners has not issued them with any advice.

If the coincidence theory held water, you would expect an even spread of reports across the three vaccinations used in Britain. We have Pfizer-BioNTech’s experimental mRNA jab introduced in December 2020, and Oxford/AstraZeneca’s more traditional one which has been available since January 2021. Plus the new kid on the block, Moderna’s mRNA jab introduced in April 2021. Although we began using it four months after Pfizer and three months after AstraZeneca, Moderna is clocking up 50 per cent more Yellow Cards than AZ, who have 60 per cent more reported injuries than Pfizer. Oxford/AstraZeneca has been received by 24.9million people and the Yellow Card scheme shows that 1 in 103 have been impacted, while Pfizer-BioNTech’s has been received by 25.3million people and Yellow Card shows that 1 in 162 people have been impacted.

Moderna has been given to 1.6million people and its Yellow Card reporting rate shows that 1 in 50 people have been impacted. On average, 1 in 120 people have suffered an adverse reaction. ‘In our view, we have enough evidence to show gross negligence,’ said Mr Hyland. ‘It is clear that the MHRA have failed to follow up concerns about vaccine injury and they failed to withdraw harmful batches when they knew about the issues. ‘They also exaggerated the risk of Covid by failing to distinguish the difference between dying with Covid, which is when someone has other illnesses, or of Covid, which is when the patient has no other illnesses.’ Covid-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has a low fatality rate: less than one per cent of those who contract it. The Office of National Statistics has revealed under a Freedom of Information request that only 13,597 deaths in England and Wales out of 140,000 attributed to Covid were caused by Covid alone. The bulk of deaths were of people with comorbidities.

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The immune system works.

The High Cost of Disparaging Natural Immunity to Covid (Makary)

For most of last year, many of us called for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to release its data on reinfection rates, but the agency refused. Finally last week, the CDC released data from New York and California, which demonstrated natural immunity was 2.8 times as effective in preventing hospitalization and 3.3 to 4.7 times as effective in preventing Covid infection compared with vaccination. Yet the CDC spun the report to fit its narrative, bannering the conclusion “vaccination remains the safest strategy.” It based this conclusion on the finding that hybrid immunity—the combination of prior infection and vaccination—was associated with a slightly lower risk of testing positive for Covid. But those with hybrid immunity had a similar low rate of hospitalization (3 per 10,000) to those with natural immunity alone. In other words, vaccinating people who had already had Covid didn’t significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization.

Similarly, the National Institutes of Health repeatedly has dismissed natural immunity by arguing that its duration is unknown—then failing to conduct studies to answer the question. Because of the NIH’s inaction, my Johns Hopkins colleagues and I conducted the study. We found that among 295 unvaccinated people who previously had Covid, antibodies were present in 99% of them up to nearly two years after infection. We also found that natural immunity developed from prior variants reduced the risk of infection with the Omicron variant. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of the two-dose Moderna vaccine against infection (not severe disease) declines to 61% against Delta and 16% against Omicron at six months, according to a recent Kaiser Southern California study. In general, Pfizer’s Covid vaccines have been less effective than Moderna’s.

The CDC study and ours confirm what more than 100 other studies on natural immunity have found: The immune system works. The largest of these studies, from Israel, found that natural immunity was 27 times as effective as vaccinated immunity in preventing symptomatic illness. None of this should surprise us. For years, studies have shown that infection with the other coronaviruses that cause severe illness, SARS and MERS, confers lasting immunity. In a study published in May 2020, Covid-recovered monkeys that were rechallenged with the virus didn’t get sick. Public-health officials have a lot of explaining to do. They used the wrong starting hypothesis, ignored contrary preliminary data, and dug in as more evidence emerged that called their position into question.

Many, including Rochelle Walensky, now the CDC’s director, signed the John Snow memorandum in October 2020, which declared that “there is no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection.” Many clinicians who talk to other physicians nationwide had have long observed that we don’t see reinfected patients end up on a ventilator or die from Covid, with rare exceptions who almost always have immune disorders. Meanwhile, public-health officials recklessly destroyed the careers of everyday Americans, rallying to fire pilots, truck drivers and others in the supply-chain workforce who didn’t get vaccinated. And in the early months of the vaccine rollout, when supplies were limited, we could have saved many more lives by giving priority to those who didn’t have recorded natural immunity.

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The Great Barrington guys also come from Yale, Harvard, and Stanford. And look what Collins and Fauci did to them.

4 Out of 5 Americans Have Covid ‘Natural Immunity’ (KB)

In the United States, the media barely mention Covid prior infections or the existence of natural immunity. But a CDC-sponsored database in partnership with Yale, Harvard, and Stanford universities shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans have natural immunity from prior infections, Wildfire can exclusively report. The CDC released a study last week called “COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations by COVID-19 Vaccination Status and Previous COVID-19 Diagnosis — California and New York, May–November 2021.” The findings were reported by Agence France-Presse. “During America’s last surge of the coronavirus driven by the Delta variant, people who were unvaccinated but survived Covid were better protected than those who were vaccinated and not previously infected,” AFP noted about the new study.


“The finding is the latest to weigh in on a debate on the relative strengths of natural versus vaccine-acquired immunity against SARS-CoV-2, but comes this time with the imprimatur of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” AFP added. The U.K.’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA), issued a report that echoes much of the CDC’s findings on natural immunity. It showed that those with prior infections to Covid were much less likely to test positive for Covid infections than those in the vaccinated groups. Those with prior infections even in the pre-Alpha period were tested to have natural immunity roughly equivalent to those with vaccinated immunity acquired from three shots. The UKHSA report also showed that nearly the entire population of Great Britain has some form of antibodies to Covid-19.

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Poof!

Denmark Declares Covid-19 No Longer ‘Socially Critical Disease’ (TH)

As some countries double down on punishing the unvaccinated and continue with draconian Covid-19 restrictions, Denmark has taken the opposite approach, announcing Wednesday that all safety measures will be lifted next week. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the Nordic country is reclassifying Covid-19; it will no longer be considered a “socially critical disease.” “Tonight we can shrug our shoulders and find the smile again. We have incredibly good news, we can now remove the last coronavirus restrictions in Denmark,” Frederiksen said at a press conference. Frederiksen acknowledged that the decision may seem unusual as Omicron infections are spiking in the country, with 46,000 new Covid cases reported on Wednesday.


“Recent weeks have seen very high infection rates, in fact the highest in the entire pandemic,” she noted. “Therefore, it may seem strange and paradoxical that we are now ready to let go of the restrictions.” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke pointed to high rates of vaccination and fewer hospitalizations as the reasons officials have taken this approach. “The situation in Denmark is that we have this decoupling between infections and intensive care patients, and it is mainly due to the large attachment among Danes to revaccination. That is the reason why it is safe and the right thing to do now,” Heunicke said. The UK, Ireland and the Netherlands have all taken a similar approach.

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For children 5-11 years old. Fauci wants 3 jabs each for every kid over 6 months.

Sweden Opts Against Covid Jabs For Children (RT)

The Sweden Public Health Agency on Thursday announced that it had opted against following some western countries in endorsing vaccination against Covid-19 for children 5-11 years old. Administering shots in that age group wouldn’t have a major effect on the spread of Covid-19 and would offer little medical benefit to the individual children receiving them, the agency said in its guidance for the upcoming spring term. “With the knowledge we have today, with a low risk for serious disease for kids, we don’t see any clear benefit with vaccinating them,” agency official Britta Bjorkholm told reporters. The decision may be revisited if new information becomes available or a new variant of the virus changes the risk-reward analysis for vaccinating children.


Sweden’s decision is contrary to a trend toward countries approving vaccination of younger and younger children, especially with Covid-19’s Omicron variant spreading rapidly. Such counties as Germany, France, Italy and Spain have approved jabs for children as young as 5. In the US, chief White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters on Wednesday that he expects three-dose regimens to eventually be approved for children as young as 6 months old. Proponents of vaccinating children have argued that even though risks of serious illness or death from Covid-19 are relatively low in young people, they can spread the virus to more vulnerable segments of the population. Swedish health officials, however, argue that vaccinating small kids would entails no great benefit – either to them or to the people around them. “A general vaccination from the age of 5 is also not expected to have any major effect on the spread of infection at present, neither in the group of children aged 5–11 nor among other groups in the population,” the Public Health Agency said.

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Here’s two of them. It’s repeated everywhere. The vaccinated are dying.

Vaccine Failure In Two Charts And Two Graphs From Four Countries (Berenson)

I could make the long case about original antigenic sin, falling antibodies, the issues around cellular immunity, myocarditis, and all the rest. But I’m just going to offer these four images because they speak more clearly than anything I could say. Scotland, Britain, Israel, and Denmark are four of the world’s most highly vaccinated countries. They all have 90 percent adult Covid vaccination rates and 60 percent adult boosters. Yet the vast majority of deaths are occurring in vaccinated people; serious cases are soaring; and infections are almost literally off the charts. This is Covid vaccine failure at the most profound and basic level.


SCOTLAND: Covid death rates (RATES, not raw numbers) by vaccination status for the last four weeks. Death rates in vaccinated but unboosted people have been higher than rates in the unvaccinated each week. Also, 87 percent of total deaths occurred in vaccinated people in the most recent week:

BRITAIN: (the data in the British chart below is United Kingdom-wide and thus includes Scotland – some British readers asked me to make that clear.) Covid deaths by vaccination status in the most recent four weeks (2,845 out of the 3,860 people for whom vaccine status could be determined were vaccinated – 74 percent):

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But you still label them Covid patients?

Most Covid Patients In Wales In Hospital For Other Conditions (BBC)

Well over half of patients with confirmed cases of Covid in hospital in Wales are being treated for other conditions, official figures show for the first time. A total of 42.2% of confirmed Covid patients were being “actively” treated for it on Tuesday. This means nearly six out of 10 are “incidental” Covid patients being treated for other conditions. Meanwhile, Covid hospital figures continue to fall. The number of patients being treated primarily for Covid is far higher for those in critical care – nearly 90%, according to Digital Health and Care Wales. The average for the last week for Covid patients is just over 40% being treated primarily for the virus.


Even though patients might “incidentally” have Covid, it does not mean that it cannot add complications to their health or treatment, and it still presents challenges for patient management for hospitals. Meanwhile, there were another 220 patients who “probably” or “definitely” caught Covid while in hospital, according to Public Health Wales figures for the last week. The daily average number of Covid patients in hospital beds dropped for the 12th day in a row to 560 on Wednesday, according to Digital Health and Care Wales. The daily average for those patients in critical care or on invasive ventilation with Covid has also fallen to 22 – the lowest figure since 11 August. Daily Covid admissions are also still falling, down to 27 a day.

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The big hospitals are fine. The smaller ones, not so much.

Biden Admin Used Billions In Hospital Covid-19 Funds To Pay Drugmakers (STAT)

The Biden administration quietly took nearly $7 billion from a fund meant to help hospitals and clinics affected by the pandemic and used it to buy Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics, according to a document obtained by STAT. The move is similar to the Trump administration’s decision to divert $10 billion from the same fund to Operation Warp Speed, which STAT reported exclusively in March. Now, the hospital money, known as the Provider Relief Fund, has run dry, and has no new money left to allocate, according to the agency that administers it. Providers have only been able to submit requests for expenses incurred through March 2021 — before both the Delta and Omicron surges battered the health care system.

With the new $7 billion shift, which has not been previously reported, the diversion to drugmakers totals nearly $17 billion, or roughly 10% of the overall money Congress allotted for the fund for hospitals and physician practices. Congress set aside that money to help health care providers pay for pandemic-related expenses including staffing, personal protective equipment, care for uninsured patients, and vaccine distribution. The new details about the Biden administration’s spending decision come as hospitals across the country are struggling with a crushing surge of Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths due to the Omicron variant. And their representatives in Washington are furious.

[..] A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said using the money to pay drugmakers for contracts was a reasonable use of the hospital and clinic funds because the vaccines and therapeutics purchased were given to providers at no cost. “All Provider Relief Fund dollars have been used for Provider Relief Fund purposes,” the spokesperson said. However, there is no transparency into which contracts the money was used for, and where those products were distributed. Government watchdog reports offer clues to the timeline of the spending. As of March 1, 2021, $10 billion had been used to pay drugmakers. By Aug. 31, that number jumped to $14.8 billion. And per the document obtained by STAT, the total is $16.7 billion through Dec. 23.

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“People know authorities lie, which is why the more they clamp down, the bigger their trust problem usually becomes. ”

The Folly of Pandemic Censorship (Taibbi)

NIAID director Anthony Fauci has told three different stories about masks, including an episode in which he essentially claimed to have lied to us for our own good, in order to preserve masks for frontline workers — what Slate called one of the “Noble lies about Covid-19.” Officials turned out to be wrong about cloth masks anyway. Here is Fauci again on the issue of what to tell the public about how many people would need to be vaccinated to achieve “herd immunity,” casually explaining the logic of lying to the public for its sake: “When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent. Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, “I can nudge this up a bit,” so I went to 80, 85.”

We’ve seen sudden changes in official positions on the efficacy of ventilators and lockdowns, on the dangers (or lack thereof) of opening schools, and on the risks, however small, of vaccine side effects like myocarditis. The CDC also just released data showing natural immunity to be more effective in preventing hospitalization and in preventing infection than vaccination. The government had previously said, over and over, that vaccination is preferable to natural immunity (here’s NIH director Francis Collins telling that to Bret Baier unequivocally in August). This was apparently another “noble lie,” designed to inspire people to get vaccinated, that mostly just convinced people to wonder if any official statements can be trusted.

To me, the story most illustrative of the problem inherent in policing “Covid misinformation” involves a town hall by Joe Biden from July 21 of last year. In it, the president said bluntly, “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations,” pretty much the definition of Covid misinformation: It was bad enough when, a month later, the CDC released figures showing 25% of a sample of 43,000 Covid cases involved fully vaccinated people. Far worse was a fact-check by Politifact, which judged Biden’s clearly wrong statement “half true.” “It is rare for people who are fully vaccinated to contract COVID-19, but it does happen,” the site wrote. They then cited CDC data as backup.

“The data that the CDC collected before May 1 show that, of 101 million people vaccinated in the U.S., 10,262 (0.01%) experienced breakthrough cases.” Politifact’s “bottom line”: Biden “exaggerated,” but “cases are rare.” Anyone paying attention to that story will now distrust the president, the CDC, and “reputable” mainstream fact-checkers like the Pew Center’s Politifact. These are the exact sort of authorities whose guidance sites like the Center for Countering Digital Hate will rely upon when trying to pressure companies like Substack to remove certain voices.

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Big campaign to vilify the truckers. Trudeau, had Covid and is well jabbed, happens to get infected and goes in hiding for 5 days, to avoid the PR mess.

Joe Rogan, Elon Musk React To Canadian Trucker Convoy (RT)

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk and podcaster Joe Rogan have spoken about the Canadian truckers driving across the country to protest the government’s Covid-19 mandates, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced them as a “fringe minority” with “unacceptable views.” “Canadian truckers rule,” Musk tweeted on Thursday afternoon. The ‘Freedom Convoy’ that set out from British Columbia and is expected to reach the Canadian capital of Ottawa sometime this weekend was ignored by the major media outlets at first. As it approached Ontario, however, the convoy became a political football. Trudeau denounced the truckers and said they “do not represent the views of Canadians” in a televised speech on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, he announced he had been “exposed” to Covid-19 and would quarantine for five days – thereby missing the convoy’s arrival in Ottawa – even though he has already had the virus and been vaccinated and boosted. Jagmeet Singh, whose New Democrats are propping up Trudeau’s minority government, also condemned the truckers and accused them of spreading “false information” via “inflammatory, divisive and hateful comments.” He also criticized his brother-in-law for donating to the protest. Canadian media reported that Jodhveer Singh Dhaliwal had asked for his donation back after being told of “the true nature” of the convoy.


[..] Benjamin Dichter, one of the organizers of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ and the group’s official spokesman, said they are peaceful and law-abiding. He told the Toronto Sun that the convoy is a protest over Trudeau’s government forcing drivers to wear masks even when alone inside their trucks, a vaccine mandate, and a requirement to get the jab before crossing the US-Canada border. Dichter also denied reports that GoFundMe has frozen some Can$5 million in donations for the convoy, calling them “fake news.” Joe Rogan, who hosts the immensely popular podcast on Spotify, also shone a spotlight on the convoy during his show on Wednesday. Speaking to a guest from Montreal, he showed footage of the truckers and described it as Canada being “in revolt” over the government’s mandates. “It’s a giant convoy of trucks,” Rogan said. “That’s apparently some insane amount of people. Fifty thousand trucks are headed to Ottawa to protest the vaccine mandates by Trudeau.”

Canada: We’re Not Gonna Take it!

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My guess would be Canada won’t be repeated. The truckers also want to block US-Canada border crossings.

Truckers Inspired By Canada Begin ‘Freedom’ Convoys Around The World (JTN)

Truckers around the world are creating their own convoys to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates after being inspired by the Canadian Freedom Convoy, which reportedly has thousands of trucks. Freedom Convoy 2022, the group that organized the Canadian trucker protest, reported initially having 1,600 trucks. The convoy, which now has nearly 50,000 trucks, will be in Ottowa by Saturday with the goal of getting “the government of Canada to repeal its cross border Covid tracking passport / phone app and ALL Covid-19 vaccine mandates,” according to a press release. The Canadian convoy has reportedly been joined by some American truckers and in Ontario, farmers came in tractors to show support. Both the United States and Canada mandate cross-border truckers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Americans are invited to also protest the mandate this Saturday at three border locations: Houlton, Maine; Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan; and Sweet Grass, Montana. In Australia, the “2022 Official Convoy to Canberra” has more than 44,000 members on Facebook and more than 10,000 followers on Telegram as of Thursday. The group is planning to meet in the capital by Jan. 31 to protest vaccine mandates. European truckers are organizing to protest vaccine mandates as well. The European Convoy Telegram channel has more than 7,300 members. Truckers are organizing across Europe, including the Netherlands, France, Hungary and more, to converge on Brussels by Feb. 7. The truckers have received an outpouring of support from celebrities as well.

Entrepreneur Elon Musk, one of the wealthiest men in the world tweeted his support for the convoy. “Canadian truckers rule,” he said, later adding: “If you scare people enough, they will demand removal of freedom. This is the path to tyranny.”

Trudeau hiding
https://twitter.com/i/status/1486870820177649666

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“Last year, the United Auto Workers union said Ford “put corporate greed and more potential profits over American jobs”..”

Musk Unloads On ‘Puppet’ Biden In Twitter Rant (RT)

Tesla tycoon Elon Musk referred to Joe Biden as a “damp sock puppet in human form” on Thursday, in response to the US president’s photo-op with General Motors chair Mary Barra. In the video, which was posted on Biden’s official Twitter account on Wednesday evening, the president praised GM’s investment in electric vehicle manufacturing as a blow to climate change. Responding to the message, Musk argued that electric vehicle manufacturing in the US “Starts with a T / Ends with an A / ESL in the middle.” He then took a dig at the president, completing his tweet with a “sock” emoji.

Musk also claimed that Biden was “treating the American public like fools” while responding to another Twitter user, who argued that Biden was “trying to cancel a great American company and rewrite EV history” by endorsing GM and Ford. Amateur fact-checkers pounced on the thread to back up Musk, posting data that shows Tesla’s Model Y and Model 3 were by far the top-selling electric vehicles in the US – and both made domestically. GM’s Bolt came in at a distant fourth place in 2021, with Ford’s Mustang Mach-E beating it out for third place, according to Car & Driver. In a video with Barra, Biden wrote that “companies like GM and Ford are building more electric vehicles here at home than ever before,” while Barra announced a $7 billion investment in Michigan along with a battery cell plant to be opened in the US.


At least some of Ford’s electric vehicles are manufactured in Mexico, not the US. Last year, the United Auto Workers union said Ford “put corporate greed and more potential profits over American jobs” with a plan to build a new electric model in Mexico, rather than in Ohio.

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1 week till Olympics. Xi is nervous.

China Warns US Over Ukraine & Blasts “Interference” In Beijing Olympics (ZH)

China on Thursday blasted the US for continuing to interfere in its affairs, further saying nothing has fundamentally changed, but instead charging there’s been “new shocks” since the Biden-Xi virtual summit of two months ago. The scathing rebuke came on Thursday as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a phone call with his counterpart Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Importantly, Wang took the opportunity to for the first time side with Russia in the direct communication with the US top diplomat, saying Moscow has “reasonable security concerns” over Ukraine that must be “taken seriously”. Chinese state media and Beijing-linked pundits have also become increasingly vocal on the issue, charging NATO with overstepping…

He urged calm on the part of all sides but specifically called on the West to “abandon its Cold War mentality”. It’s been no secret that Washington sanctions and punitive actions against officials in both countries have served to make Russia and China unlikely allies against a common enemy. “All parties should completely abandon the Cold War mentality and form a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism through negotiation,” Wang spelled out in the call with Blinken, according to AFP. The tough rhetoric echoed the words of Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian during a Wednesday press briefing. In response to US claims that Russia is likely to invade Ukraine during the Beijing Winter Olympics, Zhao said,

“As the world’s largest military alliance, NATO should abandon the outdated Cold War mentality and ideological bias, and do things that are conducive to upholding peace and stability.” He suggested that NATO is outdated and contributes to instability: “China firmly opposes all kinds of small cliques,” he added, and urged “fully consider each other’s legitimate security concerns, avoid antagonism and confrontation, and properly address differences and disputes through equal consultation on the basis of mutual respect.”

Wang focused much of his Thursday call with Blinken on the “urgent priority” that the “US should stop interfering in the Beijing Winter Olympics.” The swipe appeared not just aimed at Washington’s continued emphasis on China’s human rights abuses, including allegations of detention centers and “genocide” targeting Uighur Muslims, but in response to the words the day prior from Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Sherman had unexpectedly linked the Ukraine crisis with the Olympic games hosted by China: “We all are aware that the Beijing Olympics begin on Feb. 4, the opening ceremony, and President Putin expects to be there. I think that, probably, [Chinese] President Xi Jinping would not be ecstatic if Putin chose that moment to invade Ukraine, so that may affect his timing and his thinking,” Sherman said in a virtual conference.

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“Putin is the devil and Russia subverted American democracy” has become a moralistic mantra for every Biden booster and Foggy Bottom staffer.”

Why Do American Elites Want War in Ukraine? (Kassam)

George Orwell’s The Lion and the Unicorn (1941) contains the following description of the English elite: “One thing that has always shown that the English ruling class are morally fairly sound, is that in time of war they are ready enough to get themselves killed…. What is to be expected of them is not treachery or physical cowardice, but stupidity, unconscious sabotage, an infallible instinct for doing the wrong thing. They are not wicked, or not altogether wicked; they are merely unteachable. Only when their money and power are gone will the younger among them begin to grasp what century they are living in.”

America’s own ruling class has more than its share of the unteachable types, as well as the cynical scoundrelism of Orwell’s description of the U.S. ruling elite as “mere bandits…consciously clinging to unjust privileges and beating down opposition by bribery and tear-gas bombs.” And when it’s not bombs at home, it’s bombs away. Or perhaps in Joe Biden’s case, both. The current president is perhaps the leading exemplar of American banditry, coupling treachery with an infallible instinct for doing the wrong thing. His own former boss, President Barack Obama, is said to have remarked upon his Vice President’s “ability to f*** things up.” And that ability has not diminished with time.

So, of course, to war. Whether in lock-step or goose-step, the rest of the ruling class amplifies Biden’s thirst for something, anything that provides respite from domestic catastrophe. We are just days away from front-page headlines dubbing the tent cities across America “Bidenvilles.” Something must be done. And that thing, to paraphrase Vice President Kamala Harris, is the thing they have been doing, every day: point at Russia. “Putin is the devil and Russia subverted American democracy” has become a moralistic mantra for every Biden booster and Foggy Bottom staffer. But flaccid, obfuscatory jaw-jawing over the moral turpitude of Russia’s dealings with Ukraine has also whet the appetites of the long-benched war lobby. That lobby wants its turn back at the helm. Sanctions ain’t good enough, cry its advocates on Capitol Hill and in the media. Stiffen the sinews. Summon up someone else’s blood. Cry Ukraine for democracy, Joey and Uncle Sam! No one’s buying it.

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I get the feeling that if Durham doesn’t do it, someone else will. And what did Obama know?

What Did Clinton Know and When Did She Know It? (Sperry)

As indictments and new court filings indicate that Special Counsel John Durham is investigating Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for feeding false reports to the FBI to incriminate Donald Trump and his advisers as Kremlin agents, Clinton’s role in the burgeoning scandal remains elusive. What did she know and when did she know it? Top officials involved in her campaign have repeatedly claimed, some under oath, that they and the candidate were unaware of the foundation of their disinformation campaign: the 35-page collection of now debunked claims of Trump/Russia collusion known as the Steele dossier. Even though her campaign helped pay for the dossier, they claim she only read it after BuzzFeed News published it in 2017.

But court documents, behind-the-scenes video footage and recently surfaced evidence reveal that Clinton and her top campaign advisers were much more involved in the more than $1 million operation to dredge up dirt on Trump and Russia than they have let on. [..] Dossier author Christopher Steele himself has suggested Clinton was briefed on his reports. On July 5, 2016 — the same day the FBI publicly exonerated Clinton in her email scandal — Steele handed off the first installments of the dossier to an FBI agent overseas who had handled him previously as an informant. In their London meeting, Steele noted that Clinton was aware of his reporting, according to contemporaneous notes Steele took of their conversation.

“The notes reflect that Steele told [his FBI handler Michael Gaeta] that Steele was aware that ‘Democratic Party associates’ were paying for [his] research; the ‘ultimate client’ was the leadership of the Clinton presidential campaign; and ‘the candidate’ was aware of Steele’s reporting,” Justice Department watchdog Michael Horowitz wrote in his 2019 report examining the FBI’s use of the dossier to justify spying on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Later that same month, during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the CIA picked up Russian chatter about a Clinton foreign policy adviser who was trying to develop allegations to “vilify” Trump. The intercepts said Clinton herself had approved a “plan” to “stir up a scandal” against Trump by tying him to Putin. According to handwritten notes, then-CIA chief John Brennan warned President Obama that Moscow had intercepted information about the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016, of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump.”

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Kolakusic
https://twitter.com/i/status/1486641636784357381

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

Dec 312021
 
 December 31, 2021  Posted by at 9:48 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  42 Responses »


Arnold Böcklin The Isle of the Dead III 1883

 

South Africa Says Death Toll ‘Extremely Low’ After Omicron Wave (JTN)
Omicron-Fuelled Fourth Covid Wave Has Passed, Says South Africa (G.)
Fauci Takes Professional Gaslighting to New Levels (CTH)
COVID-19 Genetic Vaccine Safety in Children (Malone)
Officials Ponder What It Means To Be ‘Fully Vaccinated’ (NYT)
Covid and Corrupt Federal Statistics (Bovard)
Justin Trudeau Calls Unvaccinated ‘Racist and Misogynistic Extremists’ (RAIR)
Healthcare Worker Vaccine Mandate Reinstated In Half Of US (JTN)
FDA: PCR Tests For Covid Are ‘Gold Standard’ (JTN)
Has The $230 Trillion LIBOR Derivative Time-Bomb Really Been Defused? (ZH)
NGO Memorial Closed By Russian Court Over ‘Foreign Agent’ Breaches (RT)
Epstein’s Guards Accused Of Sleeping On Job, Falsifying Records Go Free (JTN)
Maxwell Conviction Leaves Glaring Questions Over Lack of Prosecutions (Turley)

 

 

 

 

McCullough

 

 

 

 

“Peak in four weeks and precipitous decline in another two. This Omicron wave is over in the city of Tshwane. It was a flash flood more than a wave..”

South Africa Says Death Toll ‘Extremely Low’ After Omicron Wave (JTN)

South Africa is nearing the end of its fourth COVID-19 wave without seeing as many deaths as previous waves, according to a government statement Wednesday. “Hospitalisations and deaths are lower than the second and third wave,” Premier of Western Cape Alan Winde said. The COVID variant omicron was discovered in South Africa last month, greatly contributing to the fourth wave. While cases are now declining, Winde said, “the gap between cases, admissions and deaths continues to widen during the fourth wave.” Fareed Abdullah of the South African Medical Research Council told The New York Times: “The speed with which the Omicron-driven fourth wave rose, peaked and then declined has been staggering.” “Peak in four weeks and precipitous decline in another two. This Omicron wave is over in the city of Tshwane. It was a flash flood more than a wave,” he said.


The high of South Africa’s most recent wave appears to have occurred the week of Dec. 13. with nearly 163,000 cases, while the wave’s peak death toll seems to have occurred the week of Dec. 20 with 428 deaths, according to World Health Organization data. This sharply contrasts with previous South African waves. For example, during the third wave there, nearly 133,000 people were diagnosed with COVID the week of July 5, and more than 2,800 people died the week of July 19. “While the case numbers and test positivity rate during the fourth wave have exceeded previous waves, admissions are below the peak of both the second and the third wave and deaths remain extremely low, in line with previous interwave periods. There is therefore a widening gap between these metrics, pointing to less severe disease during the fourth wave,” Winde said.

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More much ado.

Omicron-Fuelled Fourth Covid Wave Has Passed, Says South Africa (G.)

South Africa has lifted a nightime curfew on people’s movement with immediate effect, believing the country has passed the peak of its fourth coronavirus wave driven by the Omicron variant. As the head of the World Health Organization sounded an optimistic note about beating the pandemic in 2022, the government in Pretoria removed the midnight-to-4am curfew based on the trajectory of the pandemic, vaccination levels and available capacity in the health sector, the government said on Thursday. “All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level,” a statement from a special cabinet meeting held earlier on Thursday said. “While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalisation than in previous waves,” the cabinet statement said.


Data from South Africa’s health department showed a 29.7% weekly decrease in new cases detected in the week ending 25 December, the government said. Hospital admissions have declined in eight of South Africa’s nine provinces. South Africa, with close to 3.5 million infections and 91,000 deaths, has been the worst-hit country in Africa during the pandemic on both counts, and was where the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was first detected last month. The country is at the lowest of its five-stage Covid-19 alert levels. Besides lifting the restrictions on public movement, the government also ruled that alcohol shops with licences to operate beyond 11pm may revert back to full licence conditions, a welcome boon for traders and businesses hard hit by the pandemic and looking to recover during the festive season.

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Why don’t I see anyone saying if this is true for kids, it’s true for all hospitalizations? Because that is the inevitable conclusion.

Fauci Takes Professional Gaslighting to New Levels (CTH)

This admission is exactly what people have been arguing for two years. This exact point, and the “with COVID -vs- from COVID” argument within the false narrative, is what justified Big Tech to ban COVID critics from their speech platforms. I’m not going to comment further; at a certain point these reversals just get silly. Suddenly, as the magic politics of COVID infection rates turns into a liability, the accuracy of hospitalized COVID tests is something to clarify. These officials are just throwing magic beans into the audience at this point. In the past ten days, the CDC, NIH and FDA have jumped so far over the justification shark, the light from where justification shark jumping starts could not catch them for years.

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More kids, but also:

“..people in the 65+ demographic are five times as likely to die from the inoculation as from COVID-19 under the most favorable assumptions!”

COVID-19 Genetic Vaccine Safety in Children (Malone)

“Even as experts expressed concern about a marked jump in hospitalizations — an increase more than double that among adults — doctors and researchers said they were not seeing evidence that Omicron was more threatening to children. In fact, preliminary data suggests that compared with the Delta variant, Omicron appears to be causing milder illness in children, similar to early findings for adults.” NY Times, “Omicron Is Not More Severe for Children, Despite Rising Hospitalizations” By Andrew Jacobs Dec. 28, 2021

The risk of death associated with COVID-19 in healthy children is virtually non-existent, as children have significant immunologic advantages relative to the older adult population (> 65 years) which comprises the high risk cohort for COVID-19. The risk of death and disease in children has become even more rare with Omicron. Yet even prior to the advent of Omicron, a peer reviewed study clearly demonstrated (using safety data accumulated during past variant circulation) that the genetic COVID-19 vaccines carry a risk/benefit ratio of five deaths in the older, high risk cohort for every one life saved from COVID-19 (and those data did not account for the reporting bias inherent in US deaths due to COVID consequent to inappropriate use of PCR tests).

“Thus, our extremely conservative estimate for risk-benefit ratio is about 5/1. In plain English, people in the 65+ demographic are five times as likely to die from the inoculation as from COVID-19 under the most favorable assumptions! This demographic is the most vulnerable to adverse effects from COVID-19. As the age demographics go below about 35 years old, the chances of death from COVID-19 become very small, and when they go below 18, become negligible.” The new variant of COVID-19, Omicron, has exploded onto the scene. What was already an inverted risk benefit ratio for genetic vaccination in children and adults (greater risk of death from vaccine than from COVID-19) will become even more inverted since the risks of COVID-19 are further reduced with Omicron.

The Omicron variant is different in five essential ways:
• More infectious and will soon be the dominant variant in the USA
• Less pathogenic
• Poorly matched to currently available vaccines
• Natural immunity is providing good protection against Omicron
• Disease symptoms are more similar to the common cold

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Anyone seen those goalposts?

Officials Ponder What It Means To Be ‘Fully Vaccinated’ (NYT)

Goldman Sachs and Jeffries, the investment banks, are demanding that employees get booster shots. The University of Oregon and other institutions are requiring that students and staff members get boosters. New York state has said it plans to stop considering residents fully vaccinated unless they have gotten the shots. As the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads from coast to coast, corporations, schools, governments and even sports leagues are reconsidering what it means to be “fully vaccinated.” Now federal health officials, too, have taken on the question. Although top policymakers want to encourage Americans to get three doses, some would like to avoid changing the definition of a phrase that has become pivotal to daily life in much of the country, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday that she and other health officials were “working through that question” now. “There really isn’t debate here in what people should do,” she added. “CDC is crystal clear on what people should do: If they’re eligible for a boost, they should get boosted.” With Omicron’s sharp rise — more than 488,000 new cases were reported Wednesday alone — some experts think the moment for change has arrived. “I think the time is now,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. From a medical perspective, he said, receiving that additional booster dose “is really what we should be thinking of as fully vaccinated.”

Redefining “fully vaccinated” could lead to enormous logistical challenges, as even supporters of the idea concede, and it is likely to incite political backlash. Tens of millions of Americans who thought of themselves as vaccinated might discover that without boosters, they could lose access to restaurants, offices, concerts, events, gatherings — any place where proof of vaccination is required to enter. Moreover, the change risks undermining trust in public health officials after two years of shifting recommendations, experts said. Some Americans may feel that the goal posts have been moved again, and too suddenly. “While a determination of what constitutes full vaccination may be grounded in science, it does have significant political and economic ripple effects,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president of KFF, a nonprofit organization that focuses on health issues.

The CDC currently defines “fully vaccinated” as those who have received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot. Although experts continue to believe that these regimens protect against hospitalization and death, the vaccines’ effectiveness against infection with the virus wanes over time. What had been considered full vaccination is substantially less effective against infection with Omicron, which is able to partially evade the body’s antibodies.

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“According to the Vermont Department of Health, “Half of the [Covid] deaths in August were breakthrough cases. Almost three-quarters of them in September were..”

Covid and Corrupt Federal Statistics (Bovard)

During his update on his Winter Covid Campaign on Tuesday, President Biden declared, “Almost everyone who has died from COVID-19 in the past many months has been unvaccinated.” This was true from the start of the pandemic in early 2020, until the vaccines’ efficacy began failing badly in recent months. Oregon officially classifies roughly a quarter of its Covid fatalities since August as “vaccine breakthrough deaths.” In Illinois, roughly 30 percent of Covid fatalities have occurred among fully vaccinated individuals. According to the Vermont Department of Health, “Half of the [Covid] deaths in August were breakthrough cases. Almost three-quarters of them in September were,” as well, according to Burlington, Vermont TV station WCAX.

The Biden administration guaranteed that the vast majority of “breakthrough” infections would not be counted when the Centers for Disease Control in May ceased keeping track of “breakthrough” infections unless they resulted in hospitalization or death. Ignoring that data permitted Biden to go on CNN in July and make the ludicrously false assertion: “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.” But federal data on fully vaxxed Covid fatalities is far flimsier and less reliable than the numbers compiled by some states. Honestly recognizing the limits of vaccines could be fatal to Biden’s push for compulsory vaccinations.

The same policymakers who claim to be guided by data have little or no idea how many Americans have been hit by Covid. According to the CDC, there have been 51,115,304 Covid cases in America. But a different CDC web page estimates that there had been 146.6 million Covid infections in the US as of October 2, 2021. That CDC analysis estimated that only one in four Covid infections have been reported, which would mean that based on the latest official case numbers, more than 200 million Americans have contracted Covid. For Biden and his fellow policymakers, a potential error of 150 million Covid infections is “close enough for government work.” Relying on the lower number is convenient for policymakers who want to continue ignoring the natural immunity acquired by 199 million Americans who survived Covid infections.

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“..psychopathe fasciste..”

Justin Trudeau Calls Unvaccinated ‘Racist and Misogynistic Extremists’ (RAIR)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stunned viewers during a television appearance in Quebec when he announced people who do not receive the experimental Covid “vaccine” are “often racist and misogynistic extremists.” The left-wing Canadian leader questioned whether the country needed to “tolerate these people.” He further bashed anyone unvaccinated, smearing them as “science deniers.” Although those refusing to be injected are a “small group of the population,” states Trudeau, they are still “taking up space.” The leader stressed that the only way to end this pandemic is by getting jabbed. “We will emerge from this pandemic through vaccination,” said Trudeau. The radical leaders praised the “80% of Quebecers” who received the injection and “did the right thing.”


Canadians “want to get back to the things we like doing,” stressed Trudeau. “These people who are not [vaccinated] are going to block us now,” warned the leader. In Quebec, 77.6% of residents have received two injections vaccination. A total of 15,245,140 doses have been administered. After his shocking comments, the conservative leader of the People’s Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier, took to Twitter to call Trudeau a “fascist psychopath.”

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Does it get any messier than this?

Healthcare Worker Vaccine Mandate Reinstated In Half Of US (JTN)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Tuesday reversed on a previous decision, and will now mandate health care workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine within the next month in half of the nation where the mandate has not been put on hold by the court. The new CMS rule reverses a decision made on Nov. 5 that suspended the mandate, making it dependent on the future of two cases, State of Louisiana et al v. Xavier Becerra, Sec. of HHS, et al and Joseph Biden, President of U.S., et al v. Missouri, et al. Half of all U.S. states joined in these lawsuits to stop the federal vaccine requirement for health care employees. The Supreme Court combined the two and will hear arguments next week.


Facilities in states not part of the pending case will be forced to have 100% of staff vaccinated by Jan. 27, 2022. If a health care center has a compliance rate of more than 80% and plans to reach a 100% rate within 60 days, then the facility will not be “subject to additional enforcement action.” Depending on the rate of vaccination, enforcement mechanisms include “plans of correction, civil monetary penalties, denial of payment, termination, etc.” Workers must receive a second dose by Feb. 28, the memo states. All employees must receive the vaccine “regardless” of their job responsibilities or the amount of time they are in contact with patients. Health care employees affected by the new rule are allowed to opt-out of the vaccine mandate, and receive other “accommodations” if they have a “disability or sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observations.”

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FDA and CDC play good cop/bad cop.

FDA: PCR Tests For Covid Are ‘Gold Standard’ (JTN)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky’s recent admission that common tests for COVID-19 can detect long-gone infections has some calling into question the Food and Drug Administration’s claim that the tests represent the “gold standard” for diagnosing coronavirus. The CDC’s new caution also falls in line with reports going back 16 months about widespread false positives among the so-called PCR tests, particularly when labs run them at high “cycle thresholds,” which pick up viral loads that may be dead or too small to transmit. The CDC’s decision Monday to halve the recommended “isolation” time for asymptomatic COVID-19 infections amid the Omicron wave, regardless of whether individuals test negative, prompted consternation in some medical circles.

The agency justified the new 5-day isolation by claiming “the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.” But Walensky also emphasized that neither rapid antigen tests, which are currently in short supply, nor PCR tests were appropriate for determining if a person can safely leave isolation. She told CBS Mornings that antigen tests may not be sensitive enough to detect infectiousness, while PCR tests are so sensitive that “it can stay positive for up to 12 weeks, for months and months.” People would have to stay isolated “for a very long time if we were relying on PCRs,” she told Good Morning America. The significance of Walensky’s declaration, which has sweeping implications for COVID policy in the workplace, school and travel settings, went largely unnoticed except among skeptics of COVID policy.

“Think of all the lives ruined, jobs lost, education squandered b/c of false positives,” tweeted Justin Hart, chief data analyst for the COVID contrarian website Rational Ground. “We’ve been saying since summer 2020 that the PCR test can be positive at 5 days or 75 days. And ONLY JUST NOW is it being used to adjust policy,” he said. Hart is suing Facebook, Twitter and the feds for viewpoint discrimination by “conspiring … to censor messages with which [the government] disagrees.” The suit was triggered by Facebook suspending him over a graphic questioning the science behind school mask mandates. The New York Times highlighted the sensitivity problem with PCR tests in August 2020. In a review of testing data with cycle thresholds (CTs) from Massachusetts, New York and Nevada, the newspaper found that “up to 90 percent of people testing positive carried barely any virus.” The newspaper said most tests in the U.S. were run at 40 CTs and “a few at 37,” but experts it consulted said the threshold should be 30-35, if that high.

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Slow death.

Has The $230 Trillion LIBOR Derivative Time-Bomb Really Been Defused? (ZH)

Years ago, we predicted that the Fed’s commitment to phase out Libor, the interest rate set by committee (not market forces) that had come to undergird trillions of dollars in loans and securities around the world, would ultimately prove unsuccessful. Now, as the FT points out, it appears we were correct. Libor won’t be phased out completely by the start of next year. While technically speaking no new securities can be bechmarked to Libor, there’s still the matter of the $230 trillion in existing contracts that rely on the benchmark. And the rates that undergird these contracts will continue to be published. Still, plenty of other Libor rates won’t. Only the most popular will survive, according to the FT. So in a way, next month does mark the moment when “four years of arduous preparation to live without it goes into effect.”


“It’s one of the biggest transitions in financial markets in decades,” said Dixit Joshi, group treasurer of Deutsche Bank. “This is a milestone for the regulators since the great financial crisis about lessons learned.” But it’s not a complete break, which is what the world was promised in the wake of the scandals that inspired the decision. Much lower in its story on the impending Libor deadline, the FT concedes that, in order to make the transition “work”, America’s financial regulators had to help build a workaround whereby futures markets based on the US dollar LIbor would need to be allowed to continue on until mid-2023, something we noted a year ago. As a result, the US dollar Libor rates will continue to be published until that point (and potentially beyond mid-2023, once regulators devise some new excuse for keeping it alive for even longer).

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Courtesy of US intel.

NGO Memorial Closed By Russian Court Over ‘Foreign Agent’ Breaches (RT)

A Moscow court has ruled that a prominent organization campaigning on human rights issues should be dissolved after prosecutors insisted that it was breaching the country’s laws regulating ‘foreign agents.’ In a ruling on Wednesday, the Moscow City Court said that the Memorial Human Rights Center would be dissolved. Handing down the verdict, judge Mikhail Kazakov said that he would “rule in favor of the claims of the prosecutor’s office to liquidate the inter-regional public organization [Memorial] in full.” Officials allege that the civil society association repeatedly broke the terms of its ‘foreign agent’ status, imposed over links to overseas funding.

The day before, Russia’s Supreme Court ordered that the group’s sister organization, which is dedicated to the memory of the victims of Communist-era repressions, be dissolved as well. Authorities filed applications to liquidate the two entities in November. During the hearing on Tuesday, the Prosecutor General’s office argued that Memorial had been created in the late 1980s originally “as an organization to perpetuate historical memory, but now it is almost completely focused on distorting historical memory, primarily about the Great Patriotic War,” as WWII is known in Russia. According to officials, the group “creates a false image of the USSR as a terrorist state” and “attempts to whitewash and rehabilitate Nazi war criminals who have the blood of Soviet citizens on their hands… probably because someone is paying for this.”

Memorial had faced a number of fines after authorities found it failed to prominently display its ‘foreign agents’ status on its materials. Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said that the rules “exist simply to protect Russia from external meddling in its politics,” and insisted that organizations that adhere to them can keep working. However, the legislation has come under fire from a number of groups which argue the measures are too restrictive. In August, an open letter signed by 10 separate outlets asked the Kremlin to investigate the use of the ‘foreign agent’ legislation as part of “the persecution of independent journalism in the country.”

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Timing is everything.

Epstein’s Guards Accused Of Sleeping On Job, Falsifying Records Go Free (JTN)

Federal prosecutors moved Thursday to drop criminal charges against two Bureau of Prisons guards who admitted to falsifying records the night convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein died on their watch. Manhattan guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas avoided prison time in May 2021 through deferred prosecution agreements mandating that they cooperate with a federal investigation on Epstein’s death and perform 100 hours of volunteer work each. Both complied with the agreements, and the prosecutors asked a judge Thursday to dismiss the charges, Reuters reported. Epstein was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. He was found in August 2019 hanging in his Manhattan cell, and the New York City medical examiner officially declared his death a suicide.


Noel and Thomas were accused of falling asleep on the job and surfing online despite having orders to check every half hour on Epstein, who had recently been taken off of suicide watch. Both admitted to “willfully and knowingly” falsifying records of monitoring Epstein that evening. The prosecution’s move comes the day after Epstein’s girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted on five of the six sex trafficking-related charges brought against her. She is expected to appeal. While Noel’s lawyers could not be reached, Thomas’s lawyer “his client was happy with the dismissal and looked forward to putting the matter behind him,” Reuters reported.

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Records were sealed for a reason.

Maxwell Conviction Leaves Glaring Questions Over Lack of Prosecutions (Turley)

The conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell for five out of six criminal charges was heralded by many as bringing some justice for the girls abused through her actions. Indeed, the Southern District of New York correctly called the underlying conduct as “one of the worst crimes imaginable – facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children.” However, that statement only begged the question of why none of the men listed on flights of the “Lolita Express” or on the guest lists of these parties have been prosecuted. That list includes former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump as well as Prince Andrew and an assortment of billionaires. It is not clear if these men committed criminal acts but it is also not clear that they have been formally questioned by the FBI.

As I discussed last night, this criminal enterprise was allegedly not only to bring girls and women to Epstein but to his powerful friends. Without pursuing those alleged “johns,” the Maxwell prosecution seems like arresting a getaway driver but letting the bank robbers escape. The pictures of men on these trips are now well-known. They do not in themselves establish criminal conduct. For example, the pictures of Clinton getting a message from a 22-year-old woman is not illegal and she later described him as a “perfect gentleman.” However, Clinton has been accused of misleading the public on his number of flights with Epstein. The media has reported at least 26 flights with Epstein. Being a repeated guest with an infamous child molester raises obvious concerns. It is certainly enough to warrant questioning by the FBI.

Then there is Prince Andrew who has been pursued for questioning. Much of the litigation, however, has come from civil litigation. Prince Andrew recently put forward a novel defense in one such case. Yet, there is a concern that the Justice Department has previously worked to scuttle rather than to pursue the underlying wrongdoing, including a disgraceful plea agreement. I was an early and vocal critic of that deal with Epstein. Despite a strong case for prosecution, Epstein’s lawyers were able to secure a ridiculous deal with prosecutors. He was accused of abusing more than forty minor girls (with many between the ages of 13 and 17). Epstein pleaded guilty to a Florida state charge of felony solicitation of underage girls in 2008 and served a 13-month jail sentence. Epstein was facing a 53-page indictment that could have resulted in life in prison. However, he got the 13 month deal. Moreover, to my lasting surprise, former Miami U.S. attorney Alexander Acosta was inexplicably made labor secretary under Trump. He later resigned.

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Dog

 

 

 

 

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Oct 142018
 


René Magritte The song of love 1948

 

Companies Buying Their Own Shares Could Fuel The Next Market Rally (CNBC)
Market Crash? Another ‘Red Card’ For The Economy (Lacalle)
4 Lessons From Iceland On Dealing With A Financial Crisis (WEF)
‘Crazy’ That Current Account Deficits Are ‘A Sin:’ Singapore Deputy PM (CNBC)
Draghi to Rome: Don’t Expect An ECB Rescue If Budget Talks Fail (CNBC)
Canada ‘Concerned’ About Khashoggi But Will Sell Arms To Saudis – Trudeau (RT)
David Davis Calls For Cabinet Rebellion Over Brexit Plan (BBC)
Brexit Negotiators Poised To Miss Deal Deadline As UK Hardliners Rebel (ZH)
Internet Censorship Just Took An Unprecedented Leap Forward (CJ)
Professor Exposes Rigged Markets One Academic Paper At A Time (ZH)
Hammer Time (Jim Kunstler)
Who The Hell Cares What Old People Think About Climate Change? (Ol.)
What’s Another Way to Say ‘We’re F-cked’? (Goodell)
‘Not Everything Was Looted’: British Museum To Fight Critics (G.)

 

 

“.. in the last 12 months, the companies in the S&P 500 have purchased $646 billion of their own stock, 29 percent more than the previous 12 months..”

“..at least $350 billion of buybacks that have been planned for the year and are just waiting to be put to work.”

Companies Buying Their Own Shares Could Fuel The Next Market Rally (CNBC)

With stocks down significantly, corporate buybacks could help stabilize the market. Buybacks have been one of the big stories supporting the market this year. DataTrek estimates that in the last 12 months, the companies in the S&P 500 have purchased $646 billion of their own stock, 29 percent more than the previous 12 months. And there’s plenty of “dry powder” left. One firm estimates at least $350 billion of buybacks that have been planned for the year and are just waiting to be put to work. And no, it is not just Apple that is buying its own stock. More than 300 large-cap companies have active buyback programs.

Unfortunately, some traders are resurrecting an old chestnut to help explain the current market weakness. They say we are entering a “blackout” period, when corporations cannot buy their stock because they are about to report quarterly earnings. It’s a neat explanation, except there’s not a lot to it. “Buybacks do occur during blackout periods,” Ben Silverman at InsiderScore told me. “Buyback volume does often decline in the first month of the quarter due to some buyback blackouts,” but companies can, and do, continue to buy back stock, he told me. Another trader (who declined to be identified) confirmed Silverman’s point. Corporate buybacks decline in the month before earnings, but only marginally. He estimated the decline is 30 percent or less.

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“..disproportionate valuations…”

$20 trillion worth of them.

Market Crash? Another ‘Red Card’ For The Economy (Lacalle)

The first thing we must understand is that we are not facing a panic created by a black swan, that is, an unexpected event, but by three factors that few could deny were evident: 1) Excessive valuations after $20 trillion of monetary expansion inflated most financial assets. 2) Bond yields rising as the US 10-year reaches 3.2%. 3) The evidence of the Yuan devaluation, which is on its way to surpass 7 Yuan per US dollar. 4) Global growth estimates trimmed for the sixth time in as many months. Therefore, the US rate hikes – announced repeatedly and incessantly for years – are not the cause, nor the alleged trade war. These are just symptoms, excuses to disguise a much more worrying illness.

What we are experiencing is the evidence of the saturation of excesses built around central banks’ loose policies and the famous “bubble of everything”. And therein lies the problem. After twenty trillion dollars of reckless monetary expansion, risk assets, from the safest to the most volatile, from the most liquid to the unquoted, have skyrocketed with disproportionate valuations.

The cracks in the building always appear first with currencies. Countries that have become accustomed to the idea that “this time is different” and that debt does not matter, started to multiply their indebtedness in foreign currency. Debt in dollars from emerging countries soared to 41% of their total debt. In the first three months of 2018, global debt rose 11% to a record of 247 trillion dollars (according to the IIF), and that of emerging markets soared by 2.5 trillion to an all-time high of 58.5 trillion. . When the lowest risk bond, the United States 10-year, went to 3.1%, the synchronized growth and complacent veil lifted, and many assets showed how risky they truly are.

Markets woke up to a reality that we had decided to ignore. That rates do rise. And if the safest bond gives a return of 3.2% … Am I willing to buy bonds from much riskier countries with negligible spreads? Add to that “sobriety” effect, another one. The inevitable devaluation of the yuan , which soared to almost 7 against the dollar. Am I willing to buy emerging markets and commodities when China exports its imbalances sending disinflationary pressure to the rest of the world?

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Iceland took it serious. No-one else did.

4 Lessons From Iceland On Dealing With A Financial Crisis (WEF)

Days after the collapse of 97% of its banking industry, Icelandic authorities designed a comprehensive policy of accountability, based on two overlapping objectives: establishing the truth and punishing those responsible. An independent truth commission was mandated to document the causes of the meltdown, and the newly established Office of the Special Prosecutor was tasked to thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for any crimes committed in the run up to the crisis. Both mechanisms have been remarkably successful.

Published in 2010, the truth commission’s 2,200-page report not only documented the manifold failings of the financial system in Iceland but also offered specific recommendations to protect state institutions from a future crisis. The report instantly became a bestseller, with copies sold in supermarkets. It was a popular gift – parents even gave it to their children to help them avoid making the same mistakes. The Office of the Special Prosecutor successfully prosecuted 40 bank executives. This is remarkable, especially given the small population of the island and the comparative experience of other European countries affected by the recession, such as Ireland, Cyprus, or the UK (table below).

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Not many people see is that way.

‘Crazy’ That Current Account Deficits Are ‘A Sin:’ Singapore Deputy PM (CNBC)

For decades, developing countries have relied on outside investments to boost their growth despite trade imbalances. But running a current account deficit has come to be regarded as “a sin,” according to Singapore’s deputy prime minister. Such a development is just “crazy,” Tharman Shanmugaratnam told CNBC on Friday during the annual meeting of the Institute of International Finance on the Indonesian island of Bali. Shanmugaratnam was referring to the widely held outlook that nations should seek to avoid current account deficits — which indicate they’re operating on borrowed means because the value of incoming goods, services and investments exceeds the amount leaving the country.

“How did the Singapores and Koreas of the world grow?” he said. “We grew by running current account deficits at an early stage of development so we could invest ahead for growth while our savings were being built up.” Singapore was able to rely on financing through foreign direct investments and long-term investors during its early years of growth, as the international financial system at that time had capital flowing to developing economies, Shanmugaratnam said. “Today, it’s a sin to run a current account deficit and that’s crazy,” said the minister, who is also the chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the country’s central bank and financial regulator. “I mean, it’s bad in economics, it’s bad in policy sense, and the whole world is going to suffer.”

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But Draghi’s still an Italian.

Draghi to Rome: Don’t Expect An ECB Rescue If Budget Talks Fail (CNBC)

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is sending a warning to Rome ahead of its formal budget submission: Don’t expect the ECB to save the day. In a Saturday press conference at the IMF and World Bank meetings in Bali, Indonesia, Draghi said he was confident that a budget agreement would be reached and urged all parties to “calm down with the tone.” He also voiced relief that there has not been evidence of a wider spillover effect in European bond markets, even as Italian yields hit multi-year highs. “Everything that happened today is local to Italy.”

When asked whether an eventual realization of contagion or a further rise in Italian yields would force the ECB to scrap tightening plans by year end, Draghi told CNBC: “I don’t want to speculate on this. I just don’t want to conceive such a hypothesis. I’m confident that the authorities — and by the way all parties, not only Italy — all parties will in the end find a compromise solution, an agreement.” He went on to suggest that the situation had been “dramatized,” and that was “not the first time there are deviations from established rules in Europe.” But investors are worried that the Italian government may seize on that precedent and take a gamble that running foul of EU budget rules won’t incur serious penalties, and that, if things do turn worse for Italian financial markets, they”ll be able to lean on the ECB for support. Draghi, for his part, told CNBC that would not be a possibility.

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“..Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian envoy. It then froze trade talks, cut academic ties, and suspended flights to Canada.”

But arms sales trump everything.

Canada ‘Concerned’ About Khashoggi But Will Sell Arms To Saudis – Trudeau (RT)

Ottawa will keep its $15bn arms deal with Riyadh despite concerns over Saudi involvement in the disappearance of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the diplomatic row over human rights, Prime Minister Trudeau said. “We respected that contract,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Friday, adding that his cabinet has put forward measures to make the arms sales more transparent. “We are making sure Canadians’ expectations and laws are always being followed,” he said. The contract was signed in 2014 by the previous conservative government, and has since been upheld by Trudeau. The specifics of the sales were originally not disclosed by the parties.

According to documents obtained by CBC News last month, a Canadian company is to ship 742 LAV-6 light armored vehicles to Riyadh. The same outlet revealed in March that hundreds of the LAV-6s will be outfitted as “heavy assault” and “anti-tank” types. [..] Human rights campaigners and journalists have criticized Canada’s approach to Saudi Arabia as inconsistent. They point out that the government doesn’t mince words when attacking the kingdom’s human rights record, but at the same time never waivers in its willingness to ship military hardware to Riyadh. Media reports have also strongly suggested that the Saudis might be using Canadian-made LAVs against civilians in Yemen.

[..] Canada stuck to the arms deal even after becoming embroiled in a diplomatic spat with Riyadh in August. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called on the kingdom to release two high-profile dissidents. In response, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian envoy. It then froze trade talks, cut academic ties, and suspended flights to Canada.

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She won’t have a cabinet left soon.

David Davis Calls For Cabinet Rebellion Over Brexit Plan (BBC)

Cabinet ministers should “exert their collective authority” and rebel against Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal, ex-Brexit Secretary David Davis has said. The PM has suggested a temporary customs arrangement for the whole UK to remain in the customs union while the Irish border issue is resolved. Brexiteers suspect this could turn into a permanent situation, restricting the freedom to strike trade deals. Writing in the Sunday Times, Mr Davis said the plan was unacceptable. “This is one of the most fundamental decisions that government has taken in modern times,” he added.

The issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic Ireland is one of the last remaining obstacles to achieving a divorce deal with Brussels, with wrangling continuing over the nature of a “backstop” to keep the frontier open if a wider UK-EU trade arrangement cannot resolve it. The EU’s version, which would see just Northern Ireland remain aligned with Brussels’ rules, has been called unacceptable by Mrs May and the DUP. Mr Davis said the government’s negotiating strategy had “fundamental flaws”, arising from the “unwise decision in December to accept the EU’s language on dealing with the Northern Ireland border”.

On Saturday evening, German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reported a deal had already been reached between Mrs May and the EU, and would be announced on Monday. But a No 10 source told the BBC the report was “100%, categorically untrue” and negotiations were ongoing. The paper said it had seen a leaked memo from EU negotiators to EU ambassadors stating: “Deal made.”

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Too many people want too many too different things.

Brexit Negotiators Poised To Miss Deal Deadline As UK Hardliners Rebel (ZH)

[..] early Sunday in London, the Brexiteer hardliners published an open letter signed by 63 Conservative MPs, including David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chairman of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic backbenchers and former Brexit minister Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister. At the same time, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a pro-leave MP, published an editorial in the Sunday Telegraph demanding that any possibility that the UK could remain in a “temporary customs arrangement” after the Brexit transition period ends in December 2020 be stricken from the final agreement – because leaving open the possibility would be tantamount to ignoring the political will of the 17.4 million Britons who voted for Brexit.

Meanwhile, Davis demanded in an editorial in the Sunday Times that Cabinet ministers should “exert their collective authority” and rebel against Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal. All of this is happening amid even more conflicting reports, citing sources from the EU and sources from No. 10 Downing Street, affirming and denying that a deal had been reached. Underscoring the hostility to a deal, the leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party said Sunday that she would prefer a “no deal” Brexit to a “backstop” transition agreement that would require any borders between Northern Ireland and the UK, arguing that this would amount to the “annexation” of Northern Ireland by the EU, per CNBC.

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The Atlantic Council got going. Social media have become too big a threat to the narrative.

Internet Censorship Just Took An Unprecedented Leap Forward (CJ)

While most indie media was focused on debating the way people talk about Kanye West and the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an unprecedented escalation in internet censorship took place which threatens everything we all care about. It received frighteningly little attention. After a massive purge of hundreds of politically oriented pages and personal accounts for “inauthentic behavior”, Facebook rightly received a fair amount of criticism for the nebulous and hotly disputed basis for that action. What received relatively little attention was the far more ominous step which was taken next: within hours of being purged from Facebook, multiple anti-establishment alternative media sites had their accounts completely removed from Twitter as well.

As of this writing I am aware of three large alternative media outlets which were expelled from both platforms at almost the same time: Anti-Media, the Free Thought Project, and Police the Police, all of whom had millions of followers on Facebook. Both the Editor-in-Chief of Anti-Media and its Chief Creative Officer were also banned by Twitter, and are being kept from having any new accounts on that site as well.

“I unfortunately always felt the day would come when alternative media would be scrubbed from major social media sites,” Anti-Media’s Chief Creative Officer S.M. Gibson said in a statement to me. “Because of that I prepared by having backup accounts years ago. The fact that those accounts, as well as 3 accounts from individuals associated with Anti-Media were banned without warning and without any reason offered by either platform makes me believe this purge was certainly orchestrated by someone. Who that is I have no idea, but this attack on information was much more concise and methodical in silencing truth than most realize or is being reported.”

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Interesting man.

Professor Exposes Rigged Markets One Academic Paper At A Time (ZH)

Finance professor John Griffin, along with his doctoral student companion, Amin Shams, were the two academics that drew market-moving conclusions about bitcoin last year, while the digital currency was trading around $20,000. After sifting through 2 terabytes of trading data, they alleged that bitcoin was being manipulated by someone using the cryptocurrency Tether to purchase it. Tether remains a relatively little-known crypto, which is pegged to one US dollar. Part of its appeal is that it can “stand in” for dollars when necessary, according to Bloomberg. Griffin and Shams authored a paper in June, with the results of their findings ultimately catalyzing many digital assets to move lower, despite the fact that the CEO of Tether publicly denied that its currency was used to prop up bitcoin.

Griffin works at the University of Texas at Austin, and has become quite an unpopular figure on Wall Street for similar work he has done in the past on ratings companies, the VIX and investment banks. In most of his findings, he claims that these well-known financial instruments and players are, in one way or another, rigged. And the professor seems to enjoy exposing precisely that: rigged, manipulated markets and shady players. “I not only want to understand the world, but make it better,” he told Bloomberg. Griffin’s work has become popular reading within the DOJ and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, according to Bloomberg.

These regulators – many of them low on resources, time and staff – welcome any additional help they can get (the SEC’s budget has forced it into a hiring freeze and the CFTC budget was cut by Congress in March of this year). John Reed Stark, a former attorney in the SEC’s enforcement division, stated: “It’s incredibly helpful to have an expert of Griffin’s caliber.”

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“..the threat to order might be so great that an unprecedented “emergency” has to be declared, with soldiers in the streets of Washington..”

Hammer Time (Jim Kunstler)

If I were President, I’d declare Oct 12 Greater Fool Day. (Nobody likes Christopher Columbus anymore, that genocidal monster of dead white male privilege.) The futures are zooming as I write, a last roundup for suckers at the OD corral, begging the question: who will show up on Monday. Nobody, I predict. And then what? The great false front of the financial markets resumes falling over into the November election. The rubble from all that buries whatever is left of the automobile business and the housing market. The smoldering aftermath will be described as the start of a long-overdue recession — but it will actually be something a lot worse, with no end in sight.

The Democratic Party might not be nimble enough to capitalize on the sudden disappearance of capital. Their only hope to date has been to capture the vote of every female in America, to otherwise augment their constituency of inflamed and aggrieved victims of unsubstantiated injustices. It’s been fun playing those cards, and the Party might not even know how to play a different game at this point. Democratic politicians may also be among the one-percenters who watch their net worth go up in a vapor in a market collapse, leaving them too numb to act. The last time something like this happened, in the fall of 2008, candidate Barack Obama barely knew what to say about the fall of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing cascade of misery — though unbeknownst to the voters, he was already a hostage of Wall Street.

Complicating matters this time will be the chaos unleashed in politics and governing when the long-running “Russia collusion” melodrama boomerangs into a raft of indictments against the cast of characters in the Intel Community and Department of Justice AND the Democratic National Committee, and perhaps even including the Party’s last standard bearer, HRC, for ginning up the Russia Collusion matter in the first place as an exercise in sedition. The wheels of the law turn slowly, but they’ll turn even while financial markets tumble. And the threat to order might be so great that an unprecedented “emergency” has to be declared, with soldiers in the streets of Washington, as was sadly the case in 1861, the first time the country turned itself upside down.

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Good angle.

Who The Hell Cares What Old People Think About Climate Change? (Ol.)

The loudest and most powerful voices when it comes to the future of the planet — the ones with their hands on the levers of power — have a strong tactical advantage: they will be dead before the shit really hits the fan. This fact curiously goes unspoken, for the most part. Popular arguments tend to be framed around a rosy vision preserving the planet for future generations, which gives our boomer aristocracy the most effective cover story imaginable. They don’t need to care about that, as nice as it sounds. Why would they? It’s all completely hypothetical to them. You may as well be talking about climate patterns in Narnia. Make no mistake: older generations living in the developed world are part of history’s most under-appreciated death cult.

This isn’t abstract psychoanalysis. There is a brutal calculus going on in the minds of everyone from your skeptic uncle to the bankrollers of squillion dollar think tanks whenever they think or talk about climate change. They know that they will never have to really answer for their opinions on this matter, because they’ll be six feet under (and loving it!) when the world’s arable land is rendered infertile and its coastal cities flooded by rising oceans. In some dark and venal corner of their minds, they’re thinking about that fact all the damn time. Despite the frightening predictions of the new IPCC report, they’ve still got plenty of wiggle room to keep denying until they’re dead – which will be sooner rather than later. With any luck they’ll even avoid being held accountable in any concrete way, which for the conservative commentariat is an even worse fate than the Mad Max hellworld towards which we are hurtling.

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One scary dude.

What’s Another Way to Say ‘We’re F-cked’? (Goodell)

[..] a scientist named Richard Alley in a Skype discussion with students at Bard College, as well as with Eban Goodstein, director of the Graduate Programs in Sustainability at Bard. It would be just another nerdy Skype chat except Alley is talking frankly about something that few scientists have the courage to say in public: As bad as you think climate change might be in the coming decades, reality could be far worse. Within the lifetime of the students he’s talking with, Alley says, there’s some risk — small but not as small as you might hope — that the seas could rise as much as 15-to-20 feet.

[..] Richard Alley is not a fringe character in the world of climate change. In fact, he is widely viewed as one of the greatest climate scientists of our time. If there is anyone who understands the full complexity of the risks we face from climate change, it’s Alley. And far from being alarmist, Alley is known for his careful, rigorous science. He has spent most of his adult life deconstructing past Earth climates from the information in ice cores and rocks and ocean sediments. And what he has learned about the past, he has used to better understand the future. For a scientist of Alley’s stature to say that he can’t rule out 15 or 20 feet of sea-level rise in the coming decades is mind-blowing.

And it is one of the clearest statements I’ve ever heard of just how much trouble we are in on our rapidly warming planet (and I’ve heard a lot — I wrote a book about sea-level rise). To judge how radical this is, compare Alley’s numbers to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was released on Monday. That report basically argued that if we don’t get to zero carbon emissions by 2050, we have very little chance of avoiding 1.5 Celsius of warming, the threshold that would allow us to maintain a stable climate. The report projected that with 2 Celsius of warming, which is the target of the Paris Climate Agreement, the range of sea level rise we might see by the end of the century is between about one and three feet.

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Sure. But start giving back what was. Problem is, so much of it WAS looted that the museum would become a pretty empty place.

‘Not Everything Was Looted’: British Museum To Fight Critics (G.)

The British Museum is launching an initiative intended to counter the perception that its collections derive only from looted treasures. The monthly Collected Histories talks, which begin on Friday, will provide information on how certain artefacts entered the collection, with the museum saying it will offer a more nuanced take on these stories than is available elsewhere. The museum has long faced criticism for displaying – and refusing to return – looted treasures, including the Parthenon Marbles, Rosetta Stone, and the Gweagal shield.

Earlier this year, the art historian Alice Procter’s Uncomfortable Art Tours around London institutions, including the British Museum, made headlines for their attempts to expose the role of colonialism, with those on the tour given “Display It Like You Stole It” badges. Dr Sushma Jansari, the curator of the Asian ethnographic and South Asia collections at the British Museum, said she had devised Collected Histories in response to Procter’s tours. “There are a lot of partial histories and they tend to focus on the colonial aspect of the collecting so you have a bunch of people who tend to be quite angry and upset,” she said. “We’re trying to reset the balance a little bit. A lot of our collections are not from a colonial context; not everything here was acquired by Europeans by looting.”

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Jun 102018
 
 June 10, 2018  Posted by at 7:33 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Edouard Manet A Bar at the Folies-Bergère 1882

 

Something curious happened during the Trump love fest at the G7 over the weekend. And I don’t think many people would have got it. In fact the entire western press, far as I could see, were blaming Trump for the dissolution of the treaties and whatall that the political class had worked so hard on for 50+ years.

But when you look at the whole thing from an energy level, Trump obviously won hands down. Merkel, Macron and Trudeau had no idea what to do with such a disruptive figure -though it could hardly have been a surprise to them- and so they sort of cowered back into a defensive posture as a group, saying Trump shouldn’t rock their boat. But that’s what he came there to do.

Now, these are all people who count as leaders in their own territories. They’ve won elections, they’re presidents and prime ministers. Not the kind of folk who like to see their authority questioned. But at the G7 they feel forced to move as a group. Which is not their thing, they’re very much individuals. That’s how they won their positions.

Still, the only way they see as viable to counter Trump is as a group. Big Mistake. That’s not their natural environment. Now they’re out of their comfort zone, and Trump is still very much in his. Even more so as they’re ganging up on him.

 

At this point, it no longer matters what he says or does. Or what they do. It’s all against one. And he’s already won. But they don’t know that game. They’re used to being the one, not the all. They’re doomed to lose this, because it’s Trump’s game, not theirs.

Trump wants tariffs, they do not, but at this point, it’s hardly relevant anymore. It’s a power game, pure and simply, they’ve all played it to get where they are, but by retreating into their group hug positions -they don’t know where else to go-, they’ve already lost this one.

This is not my endorsement of Trump, I’ve said enough times by now that he is a poor choice for president of the US, but nobody managed to come up with a better one. No, this is about how the mechanics work in -international- politics, and about how anyone who is not Trump seems to come up a mile and a half short when it comes to showing your true colors.

All these dynamics, all of it, were already obvious just from a bunch of headlines in the western press, even if the content of their articles were heavily leaning towards blaming Trump for whatever didn’t work at the G7. The objective news cycle about Trump was replaced long ago with an echo chamber. And those things deafen their own proprietors.

But let’s leave that alone as well for a moment. Though I still despise the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC for making it impossible for me to criticize Trump, because they monopolized that field with fake and made-up so-called news. Jim Kunstler actually thanked me for saying that. He feels the same way, and I’m sure many others do.

 

But then, after I had already contemplated all of this, the German government released a photo that I guess they wanted to present as Angela Merkel looking strong vs Donald Trump. Boy, did they misfire. Germans, I would think, would know some math, and some art history. But look:

 


Jesco Denzel/AFP/Getty Images

 

That, and I saw it in 0.1 seconds, is classic Fibonacci. This is where fractals come from. I don’t know how much of this requires explaining but let’s do a minmum. A Fibonacci sequence is when every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding ones. So 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377 etc. So you get this:

 

 

And then:

 

 

Most people who saw the Merkel/Trump et al photo above as a ‘classic’ picture (and many did), though, didn’t recognize the Fibonacci. They saw Merkel dominating Trump. But who’s the center of attention in that picture? Not Merkel, says Fibonacci. This is what Fibonacci looks like. Lay that over the photo:

 

 

It doesn’t get more classic. Fibonacci was an Italian born in the 12th century. And yet the Berlin government insisted on releasing the photo as some kind of statement that Merkel was giving Donald Trump a hard time. But the photo says the opposite (if you look close, you see he’s not even looking at Merkel, but at Macron).

I’m not saying that’s necessarily or particularly bad or not, but a lot of voters in many countries have expressed their concern with business as usual, in Washington, Brussels, Rome etc.. That’s why we have Trump and Brexit and 5-Stars.

What the G7 showed more than anything is that things can’t go on the way the establishment planned it. Blaming it all on Trump, as the G6 and their media try to do, is not going to work anymore, and besides now there’s Kim-Jong-un coming up, a potentially huge victory for Trump.

But then, there’s always religion to provide comfort:

 

 

 

Feb 132017
 
 February 13, 2017  Posted by at 10:49 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


New York City Under 26 Inches Of Snow, 1947

 

Why Does Economic Growth Keep Slowing Down? (StLouisFed)
The Market Will Be Repricing Dramatically Downward – Stockman (CNBC)
Jim Rogers: “A Lot Of People Will Disappear” (ZH)
US Trade Deficit Last Year Was Widest Since 2012 (WSJ)
Trump Reviews Top White House Staff After Tumultuous Start (Pol.)
Mike Flynn’s Position as National Security Adviser Grows Tenuous (WSJ)
Refugee-Embracing Trudeau Set to Bite His Tongue on Trump Visit (BBG)
Romania Protests Enter Day 13, Call For Government Of ‘Thieves’ To Resign (G.)
Germany Repatriates Gold Faster Than Planned As Faith In Euro Plunges (RT)
Brussels’ Hypocrisy Over The Closing Of Borders (Nikos Devletoglou)
Greece: The Low-Noise Collapse Of An Entire Country (FE)

 

 

Even though the St. Louis Fed people can’t seem to read their own numbers properly, or at least interpret them, here it is. As the Automatic Earth has said for many years: the peak of our wealth was sometime in the 1970’s or even late 1960’s.

Everything after that was borrowed or printed. Here’s the proof. Sent this to Nicole earlier saying ‘We’ve been vindicated by the Fed itself.’ “Real GDP growth fell and leveled off in the mid-1970s, then started falling again in the mid-2000s”

Why Does Economic Growth Keep Slowing Down? (StLouisFed)

The U.S. economy expanded by 1.6% in 2016, as measured by real GDP. Real GDP has averaged 2.1% growth per year since the end of the last recession, which is significantly smaller than the average over the postwar period (about 3% per year). These lower growth rates could in part be explained by a slowdown in productivity growth and a decline in factor utilization. However, demographic factors and attitudes toward the labor market may also have played significant roles. The figure below shows a measure of long-run trends in economic activity. It displays the average annual growth rate over the preceding 40 quarters (10 years) for the period 1955 through 2016. (Hence, the first observation in the graph is the first quarter of 1965, and the last is the fourth quarter of 2016.)

Long-run growth rates were high until the mid-1970s. Then, they quickly declined and leveled off at around 3% per year for the following three decades. In the second half of the 2000s, around the last recession, growth contracted again sharply and has been declining ever since. The 10-year average growth rate as of the fourth quarter of 2016 was only 1.3% per year. Total output grows because the economy is more productive and capital is accumulated, but also because the population increases over time. The next figure compares long-run growth rates of real GDP and real GDP per capita. Both series display similar behavior. Although population growth has been slowing, the effect is not big enough to change the qualitative results described above. The third figure adds long-run growth rates of real GDP divided by the labor force. Dividing by the labor force instead of the total population accounts for the effects of changing demographics and labor market attachment.

From the 1970s until the 2000s, long-run growth rates of real GDP divided by the labor force remained well below those of real GDP per capita. There are two main factors that explain this: 1) Lower fertility and longer lifespans steadily increased the potential labor force relative to the total population. 2) Labor force participation increased significantly from the 1960s until 2000, largely driven by increased female labor force participation. When accounting for both of these factors, economic activity from 1975 to 1985 looks more depressed than in the two decades that followed. This seems consistent with the negative effects that the 1970s oil shocks and efforts to reduce inflation in the early 1980s had on the economy.

The trend in labor force participation reversed in 2000, as participation rates have been steadily decreasing since then. This explains why real GDP divided by labor force growth rates are now higher than real GDP per capita growth rates. Having accounted for the long-term effects of changes in demographics and labor market attitudes, we can now look at the effects of productivity growth and factor utilization. The final figure compares long-run growth rates in real GDP divided by the labor force with long-run growth rates in total factor productivity and long-run averages of capacity utilization (i.e., the actual use of installed capital relative to potential use). Note that data for capacity utilization are only available since 1967.

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“The market is apparently pricing in a huge Trump stimulus. But if you just look at the real world out there, the only thing that’s going to happen is a fiscal bloodbath and a White House train wreck like never before in U.S. history.”

The Market Will Be Repricing Dramatically Downward – Stockman (CNBC)

Stocks are booming under President Donald Trump, but long-time critic David Stockman warns traders are living in a “fantasy land” that can’t last —and Trump’s policies will derail the market for years to come. The former Reagan administration OMB director appeared on CNBC’s “Futures Now”last week to emphasize that Trump has become seemingly distracted by issues other than his proposed economic agenda. That should be a particular point of worry for investors, who Stockman argued have been far more optimistic about Trump’s presidency than might be warranted by the facts. In other words, while all three major market indexes continued to hit record highs last week, the former Reagan aide sees the current market rally as moot and not reflective of the current political climate.

“What’s going on today is complete insanity,” said Stockman. “The market is apparently pricing in a huge Trump stimulus. But if you just look at the real world out there, the only thing that’s going to happen is a fiscal bloodbath and a White House train wreck like never before in U.S. history.” Since the election, the S&P 500 Index has rallied more than 8%, the Nasdaq about 6% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average a whopping 10%. Last week, all three benchmarks rallied to new record highs. Yet if anything, according to Stockman’s predictions, those gains may be lost. Most of Trump’s actions “[have] nothing to do with the economic agenda” he’s proposed, Stockman told CNBC. That, along with a debt ceiling debate that will take place on March 15 in Congress, and a market rally that has gone on for a while, leads Stockman to think that a big downturn is on the way.

“There’s going to be no tax action this year,” said Stockman, echoing the concerns of Goldman Sachs and a few other Wall Street economists who say Trump’s plans for the economy are facing mounting political risks. Last week, the president vowed that tax reform could happen this year, and promised an announcement within the next few weeks. “If there’s any next year it will be deficit neutral, which means it’s not going to add the $15 to earnings like these people expect,” Stockman said, speaking of the rosy expectations of some analysts who think tax reform could boost corporate earnings in the medium-term. “My argument is there is not going to be any economic rebound, there is not going to be any profit surge,” Stockman added. “Therefore the market will be repricing dramatically downward once it’s clear that that’s the case.”

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Rogers adds a new dimension of doom: “..a lot of institutions, people, companies even countries, certainly governments and maybe even countries are going to disappear.”

Jim Rogers: “A Lot Of People Will Disappear” (ZH)

On the Greater Depression… …get prepared because we’re going to have the worst economic problems we’ve had in your lifetime or my lifetime and when that happens a lot of people are going to disappear. In 2008 Bear Stearns disappeared, Bear Stearns had been around over 90 years. Lehman Brothers disappeared. Lehman Brothers had been around over 150 years. A long, long time, a long glorious history they’ve been through wars, depression, civil war they’ve been through everything and yet they disappear. So the next time around it’s going to be worse than anything we’ve seen and a lot of institutions, people, companies even countries, certainly governments and maybe even countries are going to disappear.

I hope you get very worried. When you start having bear markets as you I’m sure well know one bad thing happens and another bad thing happens and these things snowball just like in bull markets good news comes out then more good news comes out the next thing you know you’re five or six or seven years into a bull market. Well bear markets do the same thing and so we have a lot of bad news on the horizon. I haven’t even gotten to war. I haven’t even gotten to trade war or anything like that but you know things do go wrong.

On Trump and the possibility of trade wars…and real wars Mr. Trump has also said he’s going to have trade war with China, Mexico, Japan, Korea a few other people that he has named. He swore that on his first day in office he would impose 45% tariffs against China. He’s been there three weeks, two or three weeks and he hasn’t done it yet but he still got it in his head I’m sure or maybe he’s just another politician like all the rest of them. He says one thing and he doesn’t mean it at all but he does have at least three people in high levels in his group who are very, very keen to have trade wars with China and other people.

If he does that Eric, it’s all over. I mean history is very clear that trade wars always lead to problems, often to disaster, sometimes even to real war, a shooting war. So I don’t know, I’m not sure Mr. Trump knows. He said so many things and many of the things are contradictory. Now if he’s not going to have trade wars with various people then chances are for a while happy days are here… [The dollar is] going to go too high, may turn into a bubble, at which point I hope I’m smart enough to sell it because at some point the market forces are going to cause the dollar to come back down because people are going to realize, oh my gosh, this is causing a lot of turmoil, economic problems in the world and it’s damaging the American economy. At that point the smart guys will get out. I hope I’m one of them.

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Sputtering engines all around.

US Trade Deficit Last Year Was Widest Since 2012 (WSJ)

The U.S. logged a $502.25 billion trade deficit in 2016, the largest in four years and a gap President Donald Trump is setting out to narrow to bolster the U.S. economy. The new president faces obstacles in the coming months and years, including the potential for a stronger dollar, larger federal budget deficits and low national saving rates compared with much of the rest of the world, all of which could force trade deficits to widen. As in past years, the 2016 gap reported Tuesday by the Commerce Department reflected a large deficit for U.S. trade in goods with other countries, offset in part by a trade surplus for services. The gap in terms of goods only was $347 billion with China last year, $69 billion with Japan, $65 billion with Germany and $63 billion with Mexico.

For December, the total trade gap decreased 3.2% from November to a seasonally adjusted $44.26 billion. Exports rose 2.7%, including increased sales of civilian airplanes and aircraft engines. Imports were up 1.5% in December, including a rise in car imports. [..] The interplay between trade, growth and employment is complex and difficult to manage. The U.S. has run trade deficits for decades, during periods of expansion and low unemployment as well as during recessions and high unemployment. The gap widened starting in the late 1990s with China’s emergence as a world trading power and recent research shows a surge of imports from China put downward pressure on U.S. wages and manufacturing employment.

Economists generally say trade has overall if uneven benefits, including lower prices for consumers.In 2016, the total deficit rose modestly from the prior year to its highest dollar level since 2012. But it shrank slightly to 2.7% as a share of U.S. economic output after hovering at 2.8% of GDP in 2013 through 2015. The gap fundamentally reflects the fact that Americans consume more than they produce relative to the rest of the world. To shrink the gap, they would either have to produce more or consume less. If Americans consumed less, the deficit could contract along with the broader economy, as happened during the 2001 and 2007-2009 recessions, leaving workers no better off. To produce more, U.S. firms could export more or take market share from imports. Tariffs could help that happen, but other countries might retaliate.

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This was always going to happen. It’s been clear from the start that not all these people would last very long. It’s Trump-style: throw out some stuff and see what sticks. And this is where the anti-Trump stance of the media bites: WaPo or CNN or NYT or in this case Politico have lost any and all signs of objectiveness. Which colors their reporting on this too, or so one must assume. We could have done with some credible sources.

Trump Reviews Top White House Staff After Tumultuous Start (Pol.)

President Donald Trump, frustrated over his administration’s rocky start, is complaining to friends and allies about some of his most senior aides — leading to questions about whether he is mulling an early staff shakeup. Trump has told several people that he is particularly displeased with national security adviser Michael Flynn over reports that he had top-secret discussions with Russian officials about and lied about it. The president, who spent part of the weekend dealing with the Flynn controversy, has been alarmed by reports from top aides that they don’t trust Flynn. “He thinks he’s a problem,” said one person familiar with the president’s thinking. “I would be worried if I was General Flynn.”

Yet Trump’s concern goes beyond his embattled national security adviser, according to conversations with more than a dozen people who have spoken to Trump or his top aides. He has mused aloud about press secretary Sean Spicer, asking specific questions to confidants about how they think he’s doing behind the podium. During conversations with Spicer, the president has occasionally expressed unhappiness with how his press secretary is talking about some matters — sometimes pointing out even small things he’s doing that he doesn’t like. Others who’ve talked with the president have begun to wonder about the future of Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Several Trump campaign aides have begun to draft lists of possible Priebus replacements, with senior White House aides Kellyanne Conway and Rick Dearborn and lobbyist David Urban among those mentioned.

Gary Cohn, a Trump economic adviser who is close with senior adviser Jared Kushner, has has also been the subject of chatter. For now, Priebus remains in control as chief of staff. He was heavily involved in adviser Stephen Miller’s preparation for appearances on Sunday morning talk shows, which drew praise from the president. If there is a single issue where the president feels his aides have let him down, it was the controversial executive order on immigration. The president has complained to at least one person about “how his people didn’t give him good advice” on rolling out the travel ban and that he should have waited to sign it instead of “rushing it like they wanted me to.” Trump has also wondered why he didn’t have a legal team in place to defend it from challenges.

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A very strange position to be in for a career intelligence man.

Mike Flynn’s Position as National Security Adviser Grows Tenuous (WSJ)

The White House is reviewing whether to retain National Security Adviser Mike Flynn amid a furor over his contacts with Russian officials before President Donald Trump took office, an administration official said Sunday. Mr. Flynn has apologized to White House colleagues over the episode, which has created a rift with Vice President Mike Pence and diverted attention from the administration’s message to his own dealings, the official said. “He’s apologized to everyone,” the official said of Mr. Flynn. Mr. Trump’s views toward the matter aren’t clear. In recent days, he has privately told people the controversy surrounding Mr. Flynn is unwelcome, after he told reporters on Friday he would “look into” the disclosures.

But Mr. Trump also has said he has confidence in Mr. Flynn and wants to “keep moving forward,” a person familiar with his thinking said. Close Trump adviser Steve Bannon had dinner with Mr. Flynn over the weekend, according to another senior administration official, and Mr. Bannon’s view is to keep him in the position but “be ready” to let him go, the first administration official said. Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, as of Sunday evening hadn’t yet weighed in, the official said. Mr. Flynn initially said that in a conversation Dec. 29 with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, he didn’t discuss sanctions imposed that day by the outgoing Obama administration, which were levied in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Flynn now concedes that he did, administration officials said, after transcripts of his phone calls show as much. He also admits he spoke with the ambassador more than once on Dec. 29, despite weeks of the Trump team’s insisting it was just one phone call, officials said. Mr. Pence, in television interviews, vouched for Mr. Flynn, based on a private conversation, and he was angered he repeated information publicly that turned out to be untrue, administration officials said. Messrs. Pence and Flynn spoke twice on Friday, one official said. If Mr. Flynn had promised any easing of sanctions once Mr. Trump took office, he may have violated a law that prohibits private citizens from engaging in foreign policy, legal experts have said.

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Who does the headlines at Bloomberg?

Refugee-Embracing Trudeau Set to Bite His Tongue on Trump Visit (BBG)

More than two decades ago, with Donald Trump already atop a real-estate empire, a young Justin Trudeau set out to explore the world. He toured Europe and Africa with friends, hiding their beer from customs agents before boarding the Trans-Siberian railway to China. On the train, he sketched, read “War and Peace” and gazed at the remnants of the Soviet Union. It was a defining trip, he’d later write, that left him praising both diversity and compromise. Both values will be tested Monday. The now-45-year-old Canadian prime minister – hailed by Joe Biden as one of the last champions of liberalism – heads to Washington for his first meeting with the new U.S. president, 70, whose bellicose statements and immigration restrictions reveal a deep gulf between the two leaders. But U.S. liberals hoping for Trudeau to emerge as Trump’s foil shouldn’t hold their breath.

He’s already bit his tongue and focused almost exclusively on an economic relationship that accounts for three-quarters of Canada’s exports. The White House visit will test just how far Trudeau can go to woo the president and preserve trade without selling out his core values. “We both got elected on commitments to strengthen the middle class, and support those working hard to join it,” Trudeau said last week. “And that’s exactly what we’re going to be focused on.” He has little choice. Nearly two-thirds of all Canadian trade is with the U.S., the highest ratio of Group of 20 nations and quadruple all but Mexico. Almost all of Canada’s oil goes to the U.S. and most of the country’s manufacturing is geared toward meeting U.S. demand. Americans hold C$2.3 trillion ($1.8 trillion) in Canadian assets, almost exactly the same amount held by Canadians in the U.S. A Deutsche Bank report this month that looked at the potential impact of Trump policies on all the U.S.’s major partners found Canada would be among the hardest hit, forcing the country to cede about $70 billion in trade to the U.S. [..]

The threats to Canada from Trump’s agenda go beyond trade. Trump has shown an interest in overhauling the U.S. tax system in a way that would impose financial disincentives against imports. The border-adjusted tax plan would focus levies on domestic income and imports while exempting exports and offshore income. It has met opposition from retailers and oil refiners but is supported by major exporters. It’s unclear whether the president fully favors that approach. All this, however, is unlikely to be detailed Monday. Instead, Trudeau will seek to lay out a joint economic narrative with Trump. The prime minister’s conciliatory spirit traces back to that Trans-Siberian railway trip. On New Year’s Eve 1994, Trudeau drank vodka with the conductor, captivated by stories but abhorred by “his casual racism to our fellow passengers,” he wrote in his autobiography.

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Corruption interrupted.

Romania Protests Enter Day 13, Call For Government Of ‘Thieves’ To Resign (G.)

Tens of thousands of Romanians have braved the cold and returned to the streets in protest, calling on the government to resign as they accused it of attempting to water down anti-corruption laws. “Thieves! Resign!” chanted protesters gathered in front of the seat of government in Bucharest on Sunday night, as they used the lights from their mobile phones to project the blue, yellow and red colours of the Romanian flag. Up to 50,000 protesters took part in the Bucharest march, according to Romanian media reports. The authorities did not give any estimate of their own. Some 20,000 more took to the streets in other major cities, calling on the government to stand down. “We want to give the government a red card,” one of the protesters, 33-year-old businessman Adrian Tofan, said.

Sunday’s demonstrations, the 13th consecutive day of protests against the government, took place despite the administration backing down over a planned controversial decree which would have made abuse of power a crime punishable by jail only if the sums involved exceeded 200,000 lei ($47,500). The demonstrations, the largest since the ousting and summary execution of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, have continued despite the resignation on Thursday of justice minister Florin Iordache. “The justice minister’s resignation isn’t enough after what they tried to do,” said Tofan. Another demonstrator also said he had completely lost faith in the government. “We want this government to stand down. We don’t trust it, they want us to go backwards,” said Bogdan Moldovan, a doctor.

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Highly speculative, but….“..some economists in Germany say the repatriated gold may be needed to back a new deutschmark should the eurozone collapse..”

Germany Repatriates Gold Faster Than Planned As Faith In Euro Plunges (RT)

Berlin is bringing home its gold reserves stored in New York, London and Paris faster than scheduled, Germany’s central bank said Thursday. The move is linked to surging euroskepticism, as new governments in France and Italy may ditch the single currency. The German Bundesbank has already moved 583 tons of gold out of New York and Paris, planning to have a half of its gold back in Germany by the end of 2017, which is ahead of the 2020 plan. The rest will be split between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Bank of England. “We have a lot of discussions about Trump, regarding implications on monetary policy, macroeconomics, etc., but we trust the central bank of the US,” Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele told a news conference. “Trump has not triggered a discussion about the storage facility in New York,” he said.

As French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and Italy’s 5-Star Movement are openly calling to pull out of the euro, some economists in Germany say the repatriated gold may be needed to back a new deutschmark should the eurozone collapse. During the Cold War, 98% of Germany’s bullion was stored abroad, and so far the biggest repatriation was in 2000 when the Bundesbank repatriated 931 tons from the Bank of England. When the relocation is complete, Germany will still have 1,236 tons in New York, 432 tons in London and the rest in Frankfurt. The current repatriation involves moving 300 tons from New York and 374 tons from Paris. The Bundesbank said it is not worried about keeping gold in England despite Brexit, as London remains a key gold trading market and a safe place. Germany has the second-largest gold reserves in the world after the US with 3,381 tons.

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Amen.

Brussels’ Hypocrisy Over The Closing Of Borders (Nikos Devletoglou)

Sir, It seems remarkable that today’s leaders of the EU, encouraged by the overreaction of the global mass media, reserve for themselves the appearance of virtue and goodness and generally resent the refreshing American principle summed up by president Donald Trump as America First. Americans have shed blood, along with vast material expense, defending human rights in Europe — regardless of ethnicity, geography, culture or religion, demonstrably having guaranteed the continent’s survival in freedom and subsequent prosperity, including that of Germany, after the second world war.

The EU’s hypocrisy offends. Indeed, it remains a mystery how Brussels feels justified in its heavy criticism of America’s increasing vigilance over its own borders when the EU itself continues to turn a blind eye to the formidable barbed-wire militarised fortifications erected all along the northern frontiers of Greece by its neighbours, pitilessly blocking the passage of hundreds of thousands refugees desperately fleeing the war in Syria. These refugees still dearly hope to reach Germany first and eventually other parts of Europe, but are instead inhumanely trapped in Greece practically under the authority of the EU — which, further, even condones the closing of borders in Austria and Hungary. These are provocative double standards. The scant remaining resources in Greece are already stretched to their limits.

Previously prosperous islands in the Aegean Sea – Chios, Samos and Lesbos were until recently celebrated high-profile tourist destinations worldwide – are currently overrun by multitudes of refugees, understandably aggressively inclined by now, at the expense of social cohesion elsewhere in Greece as well. Still worse, the country remains undeservedly caught in a deepening economic and financial crisis, a result of blind austerity policies inspired by Germany that the EU rigorously enforces to this day, manifestly ruling out growth and prosperity in Greece any time soon. Both the IMF and the European authorities still fail to appreciate that reducing Greek debt by one-third in the present circumstances would consistently reflect the social, economic and financial damage they themselves have caused by arbitrarily depressing the Greek economy since 2010.

Nicos E Devletoglou, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Athens, Greece

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Bitter, bitter tragedy. “The human and social cost of this austerity policy is not included in the Excel tables of the Eurogroup. But it is paid cash by the population.”

Greece: The Low-Noise Collapse Of An Entire Country (FE)

European officials may argue that their bailout is working, they welcome the recovery of Greece and the budget surpluses, but the situation is quite different: passively we are witnessing the low-noise collapse of a whole country. While forecasts foresee a rebound of the Greek economy in 2016, with growth of at least 2.6%, these risks once again prove to be false. If a slight start was recorded at the beginning of the year, it continued to slacken. In the last few months, the engine seems to have stalled. According to Markit figures published on February 1st, manufacturing activity recorded its largest decline in 15 months. “The decline is related to both the decline in production and new orders. While rising import prices have accelerated to their highest level in 70 months, companies nevertheless lower their selling prices,” explains the economic and financial institute, pointing to the fall in consumption and the lack of outlets.

In seven years Greece’s GDP decreased by a third. Unemployment affects 25% of the population and 40% of young people between 15 and 25 years. One third of companies have disappeared in five years. Successive cuts imposed everywhere in the name of austerity now bite in all regions. There are no more trains, no more buses in whole parts of the country. No more schools, sometimes. Many secondary schools had to close in the most remote corners because of lack of funding. Per capita spending on health has declined by a third since 2009, according to the OECD. More than 25,000 doctors were dismissed. Hospitals lack personnel, medicines, everything. The human and social cost of this austerity policy is not included in the Excel tables of the Eurogroup.

But it is paid cash by the population. One fifth of the population lives without heating or telephone. 15% of the population has now fallen into extreme poverty compared to 2% in 2009. The Bank of Greece, which cannot be suspected of complacency, has drawn up a report on the health of the Greek population, published in June 2016. The figures it gives are overwhelming: 13% of the population are excluded medical care; 11.5% cannot buy prescription drugs; People with chronic health problems are up to 24.2%. Suicides, depression, mental illness show exponential increases. Worse: while the birth rate has fallen by 22% since the beginning of the crisis, the infant mortality rate almost doubled in a few years to reach 3.75% in 2014.

After seven years of crisis, austerity and European plans, the country is exhausted, financially, economically and physically. “The situation is getting worse. What we need most now is food. This shows that the problems relate to the essential and not the quality of life. It’s about subsistence,” says Ekavi Valleras, head of the NGO Desmos. And it is to this country that Europe asks moreover to assume alone or almost the reception of the refugees coming to Europe.

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Nov 272016
 
 November 27, 2016  Posted by at 10:14 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  1 Response »


Unknown Paris 1900

This Is The Greatest Suckers’ Rally Of All Time: David Stockman (CNBC)
More Than Half Of New Yorkers One Paycheck Away From Homelessness (Gothamist)
US Thanksgiving, Black Friday Store Sales Fall 10.4%, Online Rises (R.)
Dollar to Benefit if $2.5 Trillion in Cash Stashed Abroad Is Repatriated (WSJ)
China’s Property Frenzy And Surging Debt Raises Red Flag For Economy (AFP)
India’s Rural Economy Hit Hard As Informal Lending Breaks Down (R.)
UK MPs Launch New Attempt To Interrogate Tony Blair Over Iraq (G.)
First Brexit then Trump. Is Italy Next For The West’s Populist Wave? (G.)
Clinton Camp Splits From White House On Jill Stein Recount Push (G.)
Justin Trudeau Ridiculed Over Praise Of ‘Remarkable’ Fidel Castro (G.)
Military Veterans Seek New Role In South Africa Poaching War (AFP)

 

 

Sell everything!

This Is The Greatest Suckers’ Rally Of All Time: David Stockman (CNBC)

The Trump rally raged on this week with all major U.S. indexes hitting record highs, but despite the historic run, David Stockman is doubling down on his call for investors to sell everything. “This 5% eruption is meaningless. It’s some robo machine trying to tag new highs,” Stockman said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Fast Money,” in a dismissal of the S&P 500 rally. “I see a recession coming down the pike in 2017. The stock market is going to go down and it’s going to stay down long and hard because, for the first time in 25 years, there’s nothing to bail it out.” This echoed the initial call Stockman made Nov. 3, when he urged investors to sell stocks and bonds before the presidential election. However, since the Nov. 8 election, the Dow Jones industrial average has gained 4% en route to surpassing 19,000.

Additionally, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also hit record highs in the same time period, gaining 3% and 4%, respectively. Yet Stockman, who was director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, reaffirmed that markets are heading for disaster. “My call stands. Sell the stocks, sell the bonds, get out of the casino,” Stockman explained to CNBC in an off-camera interview. “Bonds have already cratered by nearly $2 trillion worldwide and have miles to go. This isn’t a rotation into stocks, either. It’s the greatest sucker’s rally ever.” Stockman, author of “Trumped: A Nation on the Brink of Ruin… And How to Bring It Back,” lamented that there will be no Trump stimulus or Reagan-style boom.

He further added that he expects “an unprecedented fiscal bloodbath” resulting from the $20 trillion worth of debt that the U.S. currently has on the books. “This isn’t Ronald Reagan with a clean $1 trillion balance sheet and with a fluke GOP and a Southern Democratic coalition that only materialized because he got shot,” Stockman said in reference to John Hinkley Jr. attempting to assassinate Reagan in Washington, D.C., in 1981. “Nor is it LBJ in 1965 with a thundering electoral mandate and a massive congressional majority for the Great Society.” On the contrary, Stockman, who initially predicted that Trump would win the election, added that Washington will be in chaos by June. This is because he anticipates ongoing disruptions from the tea party, which Stockman doesn’t foresee as allowing additional deficit increases.

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“..landlords are increasingly claiming “chronic rent delinquency” after just a single late payment..”

More Than Half Of New Yorkers One Paycheck Away From Homelessness (Gothamist)

More than half of all New Yorkers don’t have enough money saved to cover them in the event of a lost job, medical emergency, or other disaster, according to a new report by the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development. Nearly 60% of New Yorkers lack the emergency savings necessary to cover at least three months’ worth of household expenses including food, housing, and rent, but that statistic isn’t spread evenly across the five boroughs. The Bronx has the highest rate of families without adequate emergency savings: in Mott Haven, Melrose, Hunts Point, Longwood, Highbridge, South Concourse, University Heights, Fordham, Belmont, and East Tremont, 75% of families have inadequate emergency savings.

The Staten Island neighborhoods of Tottenville and Great Kills have the lowest rate, with just 41% of families lacking the funds necessary to cover three months’ worth of expenses. Without these savings, families who face emergencies could be at risk of eviction, foreclosure, damaged credit, and even homelessness. In Brooklyn, families in Brownsville (70%), Bed-Stuy (67%), Bushwick (68%), East New York (67%), and South Crown Heights/Prospect Heights (67%) are the most at-risk—in Manhattan, an average of 67% of families in Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood lack necessary savings. In Queens, the neighborhoods with the highest%age of these households were Elmhurst/Corona (64%), Rockaway/Broad Channel (60%), Sunnyside/Woodside (59%), and Jackson Heights (59%).

As DNAinfo notes, advocates say that rental assistance is crucial in preventing homelessness citywide, especially in neighborhoods where rents rise faster than incomes—many of which overlap with the neighborhoods where families lack adequate savings. And although an increase in rental assistance services like the one proposed by Queens Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi could cost the cost $450 million in state and federal funding, it would be more cost-effective than allowing more families to enter the chronically underfunded shelter system. Many tenants don’t know where to get emergency rental assistance, which can prevent them from falling behind on their rent. And landlords are increasingly claiming “chronic rent delinquency” after just a single late payment, which allows them to begin eviction proceedings earlier on than they would otherwise.

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“Net sales on Black Friday slid 10.4% for brick-and-mortar chains..”

US Thanksgiving, Black Friday Store Sales Fall 10.4%, Online Rises (R.)

Sales and traffic at U.S. brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday declined from last year, as stores offered discounts well beyond the weekend and more customers shopped online. Internet sales rose in the double digits on both days, surpassing $3 billion for the first time on Black Friday, according to data released on Saturday. Data from analytics firm RetailNext showed net sales at brick-and-mortar stores fell 5.0% over the two days, while the number of transactions fell 7.9%. Preliminary data from retail research firm ShopperTrak showed that shopper visits to such stores fell a combined 1% during Thanksgiving and Black Friday when compared with the same days in 2015.

The data highlights the waning importance of Black Friday, which until a few years ago kicked off the holiday shopping season, as more retailers start discounting earlier in the month and opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day. “We knew it (holiday season) was going to be off to a slow start,” Shelley Kohan, vice president of retail consulting at RetailNext, said. “The first couple of weeks with the election were a complete distracter from the normal course of business and…a warmer climate in November may have made the sales more stubborn,” she said, adding that she saw sales picking up in December.

Net sales on Black Friday slid 10.4% for brick-and-mortar chains, according to RetailNext. “Stores that opened on Thursday were not very busy on Black Friday,… and while the Thanksgiving Day opt-outs were busier on Black Friday, they didn’t see the crowds they saw in previous years,” NPD group’s Chief Industry analyst Marshal Cohen said. Still, total holiday season sales are expected to jump 3.6% to $655.8 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation, due to a tightening job market.

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Only if buybacks are banned.

Dollar to Benefit if $2.5 Trillion in Cash Stashed Abroad Is Repatriated (WSJ)

Part of $2.5 trillion in profits held overseas by companies such as Apple and Microsoft could be heading back to the U.S., a move analysts say could further fuel the U.S. dollar’s powerful rally. U.S. corporations have been holding billions in earnings and cash abroad to avoid paying a 35% tax that would be levied whenever the money is brought home. President-elect Donald Trump has said he would propose a one-time cut of the repatriation tax to 10% to lure money back to the U.S. that can be spent on hiring, business development and funding Mr. Trump’s fiscal stimulus proposals. Market optimism that the stimulus plan can generate U.S. economic growth and push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates has buoyed the dollar against a basket of major trading partners toward 14-year-highs since the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Now, some say the prospect of companies repatriating perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars could offer more impetus to the U.S. currency’s rally. “However small, however big this flow of money will be, it will be positive for the case of dollar strength,” said Daragh Maher at HSBC. “There will most likely be an inflow into dollars.” When a company repatriates earnings from abroad, it may have to exchange the local currency for the U.S. dollar. The $2.5 trillion hoard of overseas earnings is highly concentrated in the technology and pharmaceutical sectors, according to Capital Economics. Microsoft held about $108 billion in earnings overseas as of 2015, while pharmaceutical giant Pfizer had $80 billion. General Electric had $104 billion overseas, according to Capital Economics. Analysts note that many companies already hold their overseas earnings in U.S. dollar assets, which would mute the demand for dollars.

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Famous last words: “The notion that Chinese people do not like to borrow is clearly outdated..”

China’s Property Frenzy And Surging Debt Raises Red Flag For Economy (AFP)

Chinese household debt has risen at an “alarming” pace as property values have soared, analysts have said, raising the risk that a real estate downturn could wreak havoc on the world’s second largest economy. Loose credit and changing habits have rapidly transformed the country’s famously loan-averse consumers into enthusiastic borrowers. Rocketing real estate prices in major Chinese cities in recent years have seen families’ wealth surge. But at the same time they have fuelled a historic boom in mortgage lending, as buyers race to get on the property ladder, or invest to profit from the phenomenon. Now the debt owed by households in the world’s second largest economy has surged from 28% of GDP to more than 40% in the past five years.

“The notion that Chinese people do not like to borrow is clearly outdated,” said Chen Long of Gavekal Dragonomics. The share of household loans to overall lending hit 67.5% in the third quarter of 2016, more than twice the share of the year before. But this surge has raised fears that a sharp drop in property prices would cause many new loans to go bad, causing a domino effect on interest rates, exchange rates and commodity prices that “could turn out to be a global macro event”, ANZ analysts said in a note. While China’s household debt ratio is still lower than advanced countries such as the US (nearly 80% of GDP) and Japan (more than 60%), it has already exceeded that of emerging markets Brazil and India, and if it keeps growing at its current pace will hit 70% of GDP in a few years.

It still has some way to go before it outstrips Australia, however, which has the world’s most indebted households at 125% of GDP. The ruling Communist party has set a target of 6.5-7% economic growth for 2017, and the country is on track to hit it thanks partly to a property frenzy in major cities and a flood of easy credit. But keeping loans flowing at such a pace creates such “substantial risks” that it could be a “self-defeating strategy”, Chen said. China’s total debt – including housing, financial and government sector debt – hit 168.48 trillion yuan ($25 trillion) at the end of last year, equivalent to 249% of national GDP, according to estimates by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think tank.

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“..the informal sector accounts for [..] 80% of employment..”

India’s Rural Economy Hit Hard As Informal Lending Breaks Down (R.)

Life was good for Mitharam Patil, a wealthy money lender from a small village in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Small-time financiers like Patil would typically lend cash to farmers and traders every day, providing a vital source of funding for a rural economy largely shut out of the banking sector, albeit at interest rates of about 24%. All that came crashing down on Nov. 8, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned 500 and 1,000 rupee ($7.30-$14.60) banknotes, which accounted for 86% of currency in circulation. The action was intended to target wealthy tax evaders and end India’s “shadow economy”, but it has also exposed the dependency of poor farmers and small businesses on informal credit systems in a country where half the population has no access to formal banking.

Patil was stuck with 700,000 rupees ($10,144) of worthless cash. He can also only withdraw up to 24,000 rupees from his account every week, barely enough for his own personal needs given he also works as a farmer. That is bad news for farmers and traders who had come to depend on Patil, despite his high interest rates, given that bank branches are located far from the village, while the process to obtain loans is long and cumbersome. It may also hurt India’s economy, as the informal sector accounts for 20% of GDP and 80% of employment. The country is due to report July-September GDP on Wednesday. “Sowing of winter crops has been started and farmers badly need money. But I couldn’t lend (to) them due to restrictions on withdrawal,” Patil said.

Some farmers and small businesses say India’s informal credit system has ground to a virtual halt, despite government measures to steer more funds to them, including 230 billion rupees in crop loans. Not only are money lenders struggling to lend, they are also struggling to get paid. Saumya Roy, CEO of Vandana Foundation, a micro finance firm, said it has encountered difficulties in collecting payments from borrowers, which will have a knock-on effect on how much they can lend to others. “We can’t go on lending and suffer losses,” she said. “How can we force people to pay back when they don’t have money to buy food. How will they pay us?”

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That should be fun.

UK MPs Launch New Attempt To Interrogate Tony Blair Over Iraq (G.)

A cross-party group of MPs will make a fresh effort to hold Tony Blair to account for allegedly misleading parliament and the public over the Iraq war. The move, which could see Blair stripped of membership of the privy council, comes as the former prime minister tries to re-enter the political fray, promising to champion the “politically homeless” who are alienated from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour and the Brexit-promoting government of Theresa May. The group, which includes MPs from six parties, will put down a Commons motion on Monday calling for a parliamentary committee to investigate the difference between what Blair said publicly to the Chilcot inquiry into the war and privately, including assurances to then US president George W Bush.

Backing the motion are Alex Salmond, the SNP MP and former first minister of Scotland; Hywel Williams, Westminster leader of Plaid Cymru; and Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas. Senior Tory and Labour MPs are also backing the move, which reflects widespread frustration that the publication of the Chilcot report in July, after a seven-year inquiry, did not result in any government action or accountability for Blair. Salmond said some MPs believe that senior civil servants were “preoccupied with preventing previous and future prime ministers being held accountable”. He said: “An example should be set, not just of improving government but holding people to account.”

He pointed to last week’s Observer story revealing that, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, the inquiry was designed by senior civil servants to “avoid blame” and reduce the risk that individuals and the government could face legal proceedings. Salmond also noted that documents show many officials involved in planning the inquiry, including current cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, were involved in the events that led to war. The new motion will be debated on Wednesday in Commons time allotted to the SNP.

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What Renzi’s Dec. 4 constitutional referendum tries to achieve: “They’re sealing the system off so it can’t be changed in the future.”

First Brexit then Trump. Is Italy Next For The West’s Populist Wave? (G.)

On a bitterly cold evening, MPs and senators representing the Five Star Movement (M5S), launched by Beppe Grillo, the comedian-turned-political rabble rouser, implored a packed piazza to use a referendum on the constitution on Sunday 4 December to send the prime minister, Matteo Renzi, packing. Renzi, the telegenic, youthful leader of the centre-left Democratic party (PD), has placed his authority behind proposals to limit the powers of the senate, Italy’s second chamber. His plan involves cutting the number of senators from 315 to 100, all of whom would be appointed – rather than elected, as at present – and restricting their power to influence legislation.

Since 1948 the Italian constitution has preserved a perfect balance of powers between the two houses of parliament, frequently leading to legislative gridlock in Rome. Renzi claims that slimming down the role of the senate will, along with other reforms to strengthen executive power, finally free governments to govern. Crucially, he has indicated he will step down if the vote goes against him. In other eras, a dry and technical debate might have preoccupied a few constitutional cognoscenti. But these are not ordinary times in western democracies. In Ferrara’s Piazza Trento e Trieste, Alessandro Di Battista, a rising star of Grillo’s movement, issued a populist call to arms. Renzi’s referendum, he told the crowd, was just the latest gambit by a political class determined to insulate itself from the people it should serve.

“This unelected senate will be constituted by the arselickers of the various parties”, said Di Battista, “and by those who are in trouble with the courts and need parliamentary immunity. They’re sealing the system off so it can’t be changed in the future.” Such a devious manoeuvre should, he said, come as no surprise: “There are two Italys: on the one side the very wealthy few who look after themselves, and on the other the masses who live every day with problems of transport and public health.” As his audience launched into a favourite Five Star chant, “A casa! A casa!” (“Send them home”), Di Battista referenced the political earthquake that was in everyone’s mind. “The election of Donald Trump is the American people’s business,” he said. “But what that election does show is that so many citizens are simply not taking the establishment’s bait any more.”

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Did Stein really raise more money for this than for her entire 2016 campaign?

Clinton Camp Splits From White House On Jill Stein Recount Push (G.)

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign said on Saturday it would help with efforts to secure recounts in several states, even as the White House defended the declared results as “the will of the American people”. The campaign’s general counsel, Marc Elias, said in an online post that while it had found no evidence of sabotage, the campaign felt “an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton”. “We certainly understand the heartbreak felt by so many who worked so hard to elect Hillary Clinton,” Elias wrote, “and it is a fundamental principle of our democracy to ensure that every vote is properly counted.”

In response, President-elect Donald Trump said in a statement: “The people have spoken and the election is over, and as Hillary Clinton herself said on election night, in addition to her conceding by congratulating me, ‘We must accept this result and then look to the future.’” Wisconsin began recount proceedings late on Friday after receiving a petition from Jill Stein, the Green party candidate. Stein claims there are irregularities in results reported by Wisconsin as well as Michigan and Pennsylvania, where she plans to request recounts next week, having raised millions of dollars from supporters. Trump called Stein’s effort a “scam” and said it was “just a way … to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount”. “The results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused,” he added, “which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing.”

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I bet you there’s hardly a single American -or European- who knows Cuba has been one of Canada’s most popular holiday destinations for many years.

Justin Trudeau Ridiculed Over Praise Of ‘Remarkable’ Fidel Castro (G.)

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, has been mocked and criticised over his praise of the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Following the death of Castro, Trudeau, whose father had a close relationship with the revolutionary, released a statement mourning the loss of a “remarkable leader”. Castro, who died on Friday aged 90, won support for bringing schools and hospitals to the poor but also created legions of enemies for his ruthless suppression of dissent. Trudeau’s comments were markedly more positive than most western leaders, who either condemned Castro’s human rights record or tip-toed around the subject. Instead, Trudeau warmly recalled his late father’s friendship with Castro and his own meeting with Castro’s three sons and brother – Raul, Cuba’s current president – during a visit to the island nation earlier this month.

“While a controversial figure, both Mr Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante’,” Trudeau said in the statement. He called Castro “larger than life” and “a legendary revolutionary and orator”. Fidel Castro was an honorary pall bearer at the 2000 funeral of Trudeau’s father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. In 1976, the senior Trudeau became the first Nato leader to visit Cuba under Castro’s rule, at one point exhorting “Viva Castro!”. “I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away,” Trudeau said.

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Better be careful with private armies getting involved.

Military Veterans Seek New Role In South Africa Poaching War (AFP)

In another life, Lynn was a sniper in Afghanistan, Damien trained paramilitary forces in Iraq, and John worked undercover infiltrating drug cartels in central America. Now all three are back in action, this time fighting what they describe as a “war” against poachers in southern Africa as the killing of rhinos escalates into a crisis that threatens the survival of the species. In 2008, less than 100 rhinos were poached in South Africa, but in recent years numbers have rocketed with nearly 1,200 killed in 2015 alone. Faced with such slaughter, conservationists and government authorities have been desperately searching for ways to protect the animals.

Many ideas have been tried, including drones, tracking dogs, satellite imagery, DNA analysis, hidden cameras and even cutting horns off live animals before poachers can get to them. But the killing has continued, and now military veterans from the United States, Australia and elsewhere have been drafted to bring their expertise to the uphill battle to save the rhinos. “You have animals who are targeted by people using automatic weapons,” Damien Mander, a former Australian Navy special forces officer, told AFP. “You can not go to the communities and ask them nicely to stop. This is a war. We are fighting a war out there.”

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Oct 202015
 
 October 20, 2015  Posted by at 9:11 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Hans Behm Windy City tourists at Monroe Street near State 1908

Another Quarter Of Remarkably Precise China GDP Growth Data (Reuters)
China’s Better-Than-Expected GDP Prompts Skepticism From Economists (WSJ)
Chinese Economists Have No Faith In 7% Growth ‘Target’ (Zero Hedge)
China’s Capital Outflows Top $500 Billion (FT)
China Heads For Record Crude Buying Year (Reuters)
Britain’s Love Affair With China Comes At A Price (AEP)
The Perfect Storm That Brought Britain’s Steel Industry To Its Knees (Telegraph)
Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse Set to Scale Back Global Ambitions (Bloomberg)
Wal-Mart Puts The Squeeze On Suppliers To Share Its Pain (Reuters)
Brazil’s Corruption Crackdown Can’t Be Stopped (Bloomberg)
US Supreme Court May Weigh In on a Student Debt Battle (Bloomberg)
New Canada PM Justin Trudeau: Out of Father’s Shadow and Into Power (Bloomberg)
Farewell Fossil Fools – Harper And Abbott Both Dispatched (CS)
Death by Fracking (Chris Hedges)
Is There A War Crime In What The Dutch Safety Board Is Broadcasting? (Helmer)
Stranded in Cold Rain, a Logjam of Refugees in the Balkans (NY Times)
Without Safe Access To Asylum, Refugees Will Keep Risking Their Lives (Crawley)
Merkel In Turkey: Trade-Offs And Refugees (Boukalas)
Greek Coast Guard Rescues 2,561 Migrants Over The Weekend (AP)

Maybe Beijing is just very good at predicting.

Another Quarter Of Remarkably Precise China GDP Growth Data (Reuters)

China GDP releases are starting to look like near-perfect landings each and every time, in all kinds of weather conditions and visibility. Yet another quarter has just gone by – literally less than three weeks ago – and already statisticians have reported that growth slowed a tiny sliver from Beijing’s 2015 target of 7% recorded for the first half of the year. Now it’s 6.9%, slightly above the Reuters consensus forecast from 50 economists of 6.8%. It is difficult to understate just how precise such figures are in the grand scheme of economic data reporting. It is also difficult to ignore just how remarkable this stability is considering the Chinese authorities are trying to rebalance the entire economy away from reliance on exporting manufacturing goods toward domestic consumer spending.

And that worry about a Chinese growth slowdown was one of the main reasons cited by the U.S. Federal Reserve for holding off last month on its first rate rise in nearly a decade. That’s also not to mention that China growth concerns dominated the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s latest meetings in Lima, Peru. In the past three years, Chinese GDP data as reported have only missed the Reuters Polls consensus three times, and on each occasion it was because the reported growth figure beat by just 0.1 percentage point. For the periods of Q4 2013 through to Q1 of this year, the reported figure was exactly on forecast.

Other large and important global economies are nowhere near as accurate. U.S. growth data have taken even the most pessimistic forecaster completely off guard on several occasions since the financial crisis, most recently in the first quarter of last year. The initial report for Q1 GDP this year also matched the lowest forecast. Initial U.S. growth data have only actually been reported exactly in line with expectations three times in the last half decade. It seems implausible that economists, who are often widely panned as a group for failing to predict economic turning points, are uncannily able to nail Chinese GDP within a few tiny slivers of a percentage point each and every time.

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Not much use trying to analyze something so obvious.

China’s Better-Than-Expected GDP Prompts Skepticism From Economists (WSJ)

Within minutes of China’s publishing its rosier-than-expected numbers, a wave of skepticism emanated from economists over the accuracy of the official 6.9% third-quarter growth figure. Economists’ doubts centered in part on the apparent disconnect between the headline figure and the underlying data. Both exports and imports declined during the third quarter, and industrial production was weaker than expected. Factories have seen 43 consecutive months of falling prices and—despite a flood of government infrastructure spending—fixed-asset investment decelerated in September. While retail sales and services have held up, and new lending data in September point to a pickup in demand, these factors haven’t been enough to offset the parade of negative data, economists said.

“When you look at the numbers, it’s not entirely easy to see how GDP growth held up so well,” said Société Générale CIB economist Klaus Baader. The weak reports leading up to Monday’s GDP release had strengthened the impression that China is increasingly under siege to reach its 2015 growth target of about 7%, which already would be its slowest pace in a quarter century. Economists say the world’s second-largest economy is far from collapsing, though a number of them say they believe actual growth is one or two percentage points below the official figure. China’s official growth statistics have long been viewed with skepticism. Although the methodology has improved exponentially since the days of the 1958-61 Great Leap Forward, when cadres were encouraged to inflate production statistics to please Chairman Mao, many say there is still a focus on reaching a predetermined number, even when underlying conditions change.

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Much better index, and Pettis explaining how China is both much worse and not all that bad (I disagree).

Chinese Economists Have No Faith In 7% Growth ‘Target’ (Zero Hedge)

Earlier today in “The Truth Behind China’s GDP Mirage: Economic Growth Slows To 1999 Levels”, we pointed out that Beijing may be habitually understating inflation for domestic output, which has the effect of making “real” GDP less “real” than nominal GDP. This is what we’ve called the “deficient deflator math” problem and it raises questions about whether China is netting out import prices when they calculate the deflator. If they’re not, then the NBS is likely overstating GDP during periods of rapidly declining commodities prices. If Beijing is indeed understating the deflator it’s not entirely clear that it’s their fault, as robust statistical systems take time to implement, especially across an economy the size of China’s.

That said, there are plenty of commentators who believe that the practice of overstating GDP is policy and exists with or without an understated deflator. Put simply: quite a few people think China is simply lying about its economic output. To be sure, there’s ample evidence to suggest that Beijing’s critics are right. After all, the Li Keqiang index doesn’t appear to be consistent with the numbers coming out of the NBS and the degree to which the data tracks the Communist party’s “target” is rather suspicious (and that’s putting it nicely).

In effect, everyone is perpetually in an awkward scenario when it comes to Chinese GDP data. Economists are forced to “predict” a number that they know is gamed and while that’s pretty much always the case across economies (just see “double adjusted” US GDP data for evidence), with China it’s arguably more blatant than it is anywhere else, and one could run up a pretty impressive track record simply by betting with Beijing’s “target.” It’s with all of this in mind that we bring you the following clip from University of Peking economist Michael Pettis, whose outlook is apparently far more dour than his compatriots:

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I can’t see how or why this would stop.

China’s Capital Outflows Top $500 Billion (FT)

Capital outflows from China topped $500bn in the first eight months of this year, according to new calculations by the US Treasury that highlight the shifting fortunes in the global economy. The outflows, which peaked at about $200bn during the market turmoil in August according to the estimates released on Monday, have also contributed to a shift by Washington in its assessment of the valuation of China’s currency, the renminbi. In its latest semi-annual report to Congress on the global economy, the US Treasury dropped its previous assessment that the renminbi was “significantly undervalued”. Instead, the Treasury said the Chinese currency was “below its appropriate medium-term valuation”. “Given economic uncertainties, volatile capital flows and prospects for slower growth in China, the near-term trajectory of the RMB is difficult to assess,” Treasury economists wrote.

“However, our judgment is that the RMB remains below its appropriate medium-term valuation.” The new language reflects the cautious welcome that the Obama administration has given to Beijing’s efforts in recent months to prop up the renminbi since China announced on August 11 that it would allow a greater role for the market in setting the currency’s exchange rate. It is also a sign of the recognition in Washington that even as it believes China’s currency should strengthen in the longer term, in the short term the renminbi is facing downward pressures because of several factors including what amount to historic outflows from China and other emerging economies. “Market factors are exerting downward pressure on the RMB at present, but these are likely to be transitory,” the Treasury said. Among those factors, Treasury economists wrote, was the unwinding of carry trades betting on the appreciation of the renminbi.

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Q: what will happen to prices when Chinese storage has filled up its teapots?

China Heads For Record Crude Buying Year (Reuters)

As China closes in on the US as the world’s biggest crude oil importer, demand from private refiners and stockpiling of cheap oil is expected to keep imports at record levels after a wobble in the third quarter. Despite slower growth in recent months – crude imports rose just 1.3% in September on a year earlier – buying for October-November delivery has picked up strongly, traders and analysts say. The purchases will ease concerns of a sharp slowdown in Chinese buying and support prices in coming months, analysts said. The increased buying has shown up in tanker movements and freight rates, said Energy Aspects analyst Virendra Chauhan, and analysts are upgrading earlier forecasts for second half growth. “Despite a slowing Chinese economy, crude imports remain robust on the back of accelerated stockpiling activities into operating and commercial storage,” said Wendy Yong, analyst at oil consultancy FGE.

Since July, China has also granted nearly 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude import quotas to small refiners, known as “teapots”, or roughly 10% of China’s current total imports, as part of efforts to boost competition and attract private investment, creating a new source of demand. “The teapots are super-active,” said one oil trader, with many racing to fill their new quotas. And state-owned refiners are restocking after a third-quarter lull. Unipec, the trading arm of Asia’s top refiner Sinopec, bought 6 million barrels of North Sea Forties crude and 2.9 million barrels of Russian ESPO for loading this month, and it has also stepped up Angolan crude purchases for November. To accommodate the oil, new storage tanks on southern Hainan island have either been put to use or are due to be filled with crude from end-2015.

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Something to do with licking certain body parts.

Britain’s Love Affair With China Comes At A Price (AEP)

It is a sobering experience to travel through eastern China with a British passport. Again and again you run into historic sites that were burned, shelled or sacked by British forces in the 19th century. The incidents are described in unflattering detail on Mandarin placards for millions of Chinese national pilgrims, spiced with emotional accounts of the Opium Wars. The crown jewel of this destructive march was the Summer Palace of the Chinese emperors outside Beijing, looted of its Qing Dynasty treasures by Lord Elgin in 1860, and burned to ground. It was a reprisal for the murder of 18 envoys by the Chinese court, but the exact “casus belli” hardly matters anymore. The defilement lives on in the collective Chinese mind as a high crime against the nation, the ultimate symbol of humiliation by the West.

The Communist Party has carefully nurtured the grievance under its “patriotic education” drive. David Marsh, from the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, says Britain’s leaders are implicitly atoning for a colonial past by rolling out the red carpet this week for Chinese President Xi Jinping, and biting their tongue on human rights. They are acknowledging that British officialdom is in no fit position to lecture anybody in Beijing. The exact line between good manners and kowtowing is hard to define, but George Osborne came close to crossing it on his trade mission to China last month, earning plaudits from the state media for his “pragmatism” and deference. But as the Chancellor retorted, you have to take risks in foreign policy. Moral infantilism is for the backbenches. “China is what it is,” he said.

The proper question for David Cameron and Mr Osborne is whether they have accurately judged the diplomatic and commercial trade-off in breaking ranks with other Western allies and throwing open the most sensitive areas of the British economy to Chinese expansion, and whether they will reap much in return. The US Treasury was deeply irritated when the Chancellor defied Washington and signed up to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China’s attempt to create an Asian rival to the Bretton Woods institutions controlled by the West. Mr Osborne was correct on the substance. Congress acted foolishly in trying to smother the AIIB in its infancy and stem the rise of China as a financial superpower. It was tantamount to treating the country as an enemy, an approach that soon becomes self-fulfilling.

The AIIB is exactly what is needed to recycle China’s trade surpluses back into the world economy, just as the US Marshall Plan recycled American surpluses in the 1950s. The problem is that Britain carelessly undercut a close ally, putting immediate mercantilist interests ahead of a core strategic relationship. Anglo-American ties are now at their lowest ebb for years, a risky state of affairs at a time when the UK faces a showdown with the European Union.

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Overinvestment.

The Perfect Storm That Brought Britain’s Steel Industry To Its Knees (Telegraph)

Britain’s steel industry is caught in a “perfect storm”, ravaged by global economics and politics, reducing an industry that once led the world to a mere bit player on the global stage. Just 12m tonnes of the metal that is a basic raw material for the modern world were produced in the UK in 2013, according to the World Steel Association, out of a global total of 1.65bn. In 1983 this figure was 15m tonnes out of a total 663bn. However, the number of people employed making the metal in Britain has dropped from 38,000 in 1994 to less than 18,000 today. While productivity improvements account for some of the decline, with worldwide demand more doubling than in a generation, there are other factors that are inflicting a much heavier toll on the industry. Globalisation is the main one, according to Chris Houlden at commodities analyst CRU.

“The issue facing UK steel has been developing since the financial crisis,” he says. “Demand for steel in Britain and the EU has fallen and not recovered and there’s persistent global overcapacity.” While things weren’t all sunshine and roses ahead of the crash – the sector faced the universal pressures to find efficiencies and savings – Britain’s steel industry could function successfully with the growing global economy gobbling up available output, led by China’s burgeoning growth. Today things are different. Beijing is pencilling in annual growth of about 7pc, half the rate seen in heady pre-crisis times as its economy industrialised, placing huge demand on the country’s steel mills to turn out the beams and sheets needed for machines and construction.

Thanks to heavy investment in its steel industry, China is now responsible for half of the world’s steel output – up from 10pc a decade ago – and is reluctant to let it go to waste. As a result, China’s mills are dumping excess output abroad, and the country’s overcapacity is estimated to be 250m tonnes a year. “China’s production is not abating,” says Peter Brennan, European editor at steel industry data provider Platts. “You might have thought they would cut capacity but in a country where industry is effectively government controlled, it’s not happened. In what’s arguably a more unstable society, the government has no intention of cutting masses of jobs.”

The sentiment is echoed by the International Steel Statistics Bureau. “It would take a major reversal of the slowdown in the Chinese economy to prevent them pushing steel abroad,” says ISSB commercial manager Steve Andrews. “That’s why they are looking externally. There’s not the political will to remove capacity. They have taken some of the old and highly polluting plants out as they look at improving air quality but a lot of their stuff is big and modern.” The result is cheap steel coming on to the market, pushing prices down. But it’s not just China that is dumping output. “China is not unique,” says Houlden. “There’s low to no growth in a lot of other major steel producers such as Brazil and Russia, so they are doing it, too. Japan, the world’s second largest producer, is also looking to export more steel.”

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All banks are in deep shit.

Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse Set to Scale Back Global Ambitions (Bloomberg)

Europe’s last global banks are caving in to pressure from regulators and preparing to tell investors just how much their aspirations will shrink. “The European banks were too long holding onto the past and not realizing that this change is for good – it’s permanent,” said Oswald Gruebel, a former chief executive officer of both UBS and Credit Suisse. “The main reason for reducing global investment banking is that with the capital requirements which the regulators put on these banks, you cannot make any decent return.” Deutsche Bank announced sweeping management changes on Sunday, less than two weeks before co-CEO John Cryan will present his plans to scale back the trading empire built by his predecessor.

On Wednesday, Tidjane Thiam will probably reveal a strategy to prune Credit Suisse’s investment bank in favor of wealth management. Barclays, BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered are also trimming operations. Europe’s global lenders are struggling to adapt to rising capital requirements, record-low interest rates and shrinking opportunities for growth. Their retrenchment risks further squeezing lending to economies in the region and handing more business to U.S. competitors, which were quicker to raise capital levels and are benefiting from growth at home. “Everything that’s being done should have been done years ago,” said Barrington Pitt Miller at Janus Capital in Denver. “The European muddle-through scenario has been proven not to be a terribly good one.”

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Very predictable, and very blind too: “..Wal-Mart believes it can grow sales by 3 to 4% a year over the next three years..”

Wal-Mart Puts The Squeeze On Suppliers To Share Its Pain (Reuters)

Suppliers of everything from groceries to sports equipment are already being squeezed for price cuts and cost sharing by Wal-Mart. Now they are bracing for the pressure to ratchet up even more after a shock earnings warning from the retailer last week. The discount store behemoth has always had a reputation for demanding lower prices from vendors but Reuters has learned from interviews with suppliers and consultants, as well as reviewing some contracts, that even by its standards Wal-Mart has been turning up the heat on them this year. “The ground is shaking here,” said Cameron Smith, head of Cameron Smith & Associates, a major recruiting firm for suppliers located close to Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. “Suppliers are going to have to help Wal-Mart get back on track.”

For the vendors, dealing with Wal-Mart has always been tough because of its size – despite recent troubles it still generates more than $340 billion of annual sales in the U.S. That accounts for more than 10% of the American retail market, excluding auto and restaurant sales, and the company increasingly sells a lot overseas too. To risk having brands kicked off Wal-Mart’s shelves because of a dispute over pricing can badly hurt a supplier. On Wednesday, Wal-Mart stunned Wall Street by forecasting that its earnings would decline by as much as 12% in its next fiscal year to January 2017 as it struggles to offset rising costs from increases in the wages of its hourly-paid staff, improvements in its stores, and investments to grow online sales.

This at a time when it faces relentless price competition from Amazon.com, dollar stores and regional supermarket chains. Keeping the prices it pays suppliers as low as it can is essential if it is to start to claw back some of this cost hit to its margins. Helped by investments to spruce up stores and boost worker pay, Wal-Mart believes it can grow sales by 3 to 4% a year over the next three years, or by as much as $60 billion, offering suppliers new opportunities to boost their own revenues.

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Here’s hoping.

Brazil’s Corruption Crackdown Can’t Be Stopped (Bloomberg)

In a continent of peacocks, Brazilian federal judge Sergio Moro makes an unlikely celebrity. Laconic and poker-faced, he has little time for the spotlight, and yet his name is emblazoned on t-shirts and protest banners, and splashed across social media. Why the fuss? Check out the 13th federal district court, where Moro has presided over the largest corruption investigation in the country’s history, sent muckety-mucks to jail and helped restore civic pride in a land where too often justice has been honored in the breach. So after the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled last month to take a high-profile defendant named by witnesses in the landmark Petrobras case away from the 13th district, worried citizens hit the streets. Is the so-called Operation Carwash investigation into looting at the state oil company in danger of getting derailed, as some claim?

Brazil’s white-collar crooks should be so lucky. True, the scope of the scam at Latin America’s biggest corporation might never have come to light had it not been for the 43-year-old judge, who specializes in money-laundering cases, and a dedicated cadre of prosecutors. From their base in Curitiba, a city in southern Brazil, investigators exposed what Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot called a “complex criminal organization” bent on skimming money from padded supply contracts with Petrobras into political coffers. But getting to Curitiba took the collaboration of the best minds in public service, from the federal police to the Finance Ministry’s financial intelligence unit. That web of sleuths and wonks is the best assurance that the effort to shut down Brazil’s most brazen political crime ring will carry on, no matter who holds the gavel.

The probe began when federal police watching a gas station and one-time car wash (hence the name) in the nation’s capital uncovered a money-changing scheme to spirit gains overseas. The public prosecutor’s office took up the chase and, tapping into finance ministry data, followed the money trail to Petrobras. Janot took the investigation across the Atlantic, where Swiss prosecutors found evidence pointing to the head of Brazil’s lower house, as well as to corporate leaders. Some of Brazil’s biggest oil and construction executives are behind bars, and dozens of politicians are under investigation, including the head of the senate. And despite recently ruling to spin off parts of the investigation, the Supreme Court has consistently buttressed Moro’s authority in the past.

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“One in four borrowers is either delinquent or in default on his or her student loans.”

US Supreme Court May Weigh In on a Student Debt Battle (Bloomberg)

Mark Tetzlaff is a 57-year-old recovering alcoholic who has been convicted of victim intimidation and domestic abuse. He may also be the person with the best shot at upending the way U.S. courts treat student debt for bankrupt borrowers. Tetzlaff has spent three years battling lawyers for the Department of Education over the right to have his student loans canceled in bankruptcy. On Thursday, he appealed his case to the Supreme Court. If the nation’s highest court takes the case on, it will be one of the rare occasions when it has addressed the $1.3 trillion pile of student debt held by 41 million Americans. Tezlaff also got a new attorney after representing himself for most of his case. The lawyer, Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, successfully argued part of the landmark June case that made same-sex marriage a legal right in all 50 states.

Hallward-Driemeier and his team have asked the court to clarify 1970s-era rules that prevent borrowers from getting rid of education debt in bankruptcy, except in cases in which repaying it would constitute an “undue hardship.” Lawmakers never fully defined “undue hardship,” leaving it to the courts to define these special, and rare, circumstances in individual cases. Tetzlaff has said that the standard being applied to his case is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court may be tempted to consider the case partly because it would be able to resolve a split between federal courts in their interpretation of the law, according to court documents. Courts disagree mainly on which of two tests should be used to determine whether someone can erase his or her debt in bankruptcy.

The so-called Brunner test is used in most federal courts and was applied in Tetzlaff’s case. It is the strictest version of the standard because it requires debtors to prove that they have diligently tried to repay their loans, that making any payments would deprive them of a “minimal” standard of living, and that the hardship affecting them today will persist long into the future. Over the past two decades, lawyers arguing on behalf of the government have further pushed courts to take the most stringent view of each one of those components. Tezlaff’s legal team has said the Supreme Court should instead apply a less harsh alternative to the Brunner test, known as the “totality of the circumstances” test, which has been gaining ground in courts across the country.

[..] It would be hard to overstate the significance of this case for people struggling with student debt. Student loans are the largest source of consumer debt aside from mortgages. The total amount of outstanding student debt is expected to double to $2.5 trillion in the next decade. One in four borrowers is either delinquent or in default on his or her student loans.

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Surprisingly nice write-up of Trudeau for Bloomberg. I wish Justin well, but Canada’s in for very hard times.

New Canada PM Justin Trudeau: Out of Father’s Shadow and Into Power (Bloomberg)

As a young man, Justin Trudeau continually sought respite from his father’s long shadow. He debated in university as Jason Tremblay, boxed as Justin St. Clair and eventually settled on Canada’s west coast – as far in Canada as he could get from being Pierre Trudeau’s eldest and still be close to great skiing. Now 43, he has come full circle, reviving a moribund Liberal Party to a solid majority amid a new wave of the Trudeaumania that swept his father to power in 1968. In ousting Stephen Harper Monday, he becomes the country’s first inter-generational prime minister and gets to move back into his childhood home. Trudeau campaigned on a brand of optimism, transparency and youthful energy – while promising government activism to stimulate a weak economy and address middle class anxiety over income inequality and retirement security.

In contrast to the departing Harper, he will run deficits willingly, reduce Canada’s combat role against the Islamic State and get behind the Iran nuclear deal. He’ll also rule out the purchase of F-35 fighters in favor of more spending on the navy and join President Barrack Obama in Paris in pushing for aggressive action on climate change. He is, in many ways, the happy faced anti-Harper. Trudeau’s political role model is not so much his beloved “papa,” whose public persona over 15 years as prime minister mixed charisma and aloofness, but his maternal grandfather, Jimmy Sinclair, a consummate glad-handing, baby-kissing Scottish immigrant to Canada and Rhodes scholar.

It was no accident that Trudeau held his final campaign event Sunday night in the Vancouver constituency his grandfather represented from 1940 to 1958. “I’m not sure if love of campaigning has any kind of genetic component, but if it does, I can trace my passion for it straight back to grandpa,” he told an enthusiastic crowd on what was the birthday of both his father and his eldest son, eight-year-old Xavier James, named for Sinclair. “He loved knocking on doors, getting out, meeting with people, taking the time to really listen to what they had to say. It’s his style that I’ve adopted as my own.”

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“Both of them had a penchant for using precisely the same words to describe the country’s future as an “Energy Superpower”.

Farewell Fossil Fools – Harper And Abbott Both Dispatched (CS)

The prospects for the forthcoming global climate conference to be held in Paris later this year have received a significant diplomatic boost. The two developed world leaders most intent on undermining the conference – Australia’s Tony Abbott and Canada’s Stephen Harper – have been dispatched to the political wilderness. Based on early Canadian election vote counting Monday night, Harper’s Conservative Party look set to lose office, with the centrist Liberals having been declared the winner of 173 seats at the time of writing and projected to win 184 of the 338 lower house seats (according to Canada’s Globe and Mail), giving them the ability to rule in their own right. The Conservatives have suffered big losses, with latest counting giving them 92 seats with a projection of 102 seats.

Back in June 2014 when Abbott visited Harper in Canada, the two put on an act of professing concern for climate change while describing a policy that would actually limit carbon emissions as something that would “clobber the economy” in Abbott’s words while being “job killing” in Harper’s words. As Climate Spectator noted in Harper and Abbott: Two fossils fooling no one, what was plainly obvious was that both Harper and Abbott had confused the interests of the coal mining industry (in Abbott’s case) and tar sands (Harper) with the interests of their respective country as a whole.

A year on it appears the two of them had far too narrowly focussed and deeply flawed economic strategies. [..] Harper and Tony Abbott have followed eerily similar strategies. Both of them had a penchant for using precisely the same words to describe the country’s future as an “Energy Superpower”. Unfortunately for them the plummeting price of a barrel of oil and a tonne of coal left them both floundering without a coherent economic narrative for how to drive their respective nations’ future prosperity. They then both resorted in desperation to the bottom of the barrel trying to using fears of terrorism in an attempt to restore their popularity.

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“Resistance will be local. It will be militant. It will defy the rules imposed by the corporate state. It will turn its back on state and NGO environmental organizations. And it will not stop until corporate power is destroyed or we are destroyed.”

Death by Fracking (Chris Hedges)

The maniacal drive by the human species to extinguish itself includes a variety of lethal pursuits. One of the most efficient is fracking. One day, courtesy of corporations such as Halliburton, BP and ExxonMobil, a gallon of water will cost more than a gallon of gasoline. Fracking, which involves putting chemicals into potable water and then injecting millions of gallons of the solution into the earth at high pressure to extract oil and gas, has become one of the primary engines, along with the animal agriculture industry, for accelerating global warming and climate change. The Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers who are profiting from this cycle of destruction will—once clean water is scarce and crop yields decline, once temperatures soar and cities disappear under the sea, once droughts and famines ripple across the globe, once mass migrations begin—surely profit from the next round of destruction.

Collective suicide is a good business, at least until it is complete. It is a pity most of us will not be around to see the power elite go down. [..] The activists are waging a war against a corporate state that is deaf and blind to the rights of its citizens and the imperative to protect the ecosystem. The corporate state, largely to pacify citizens being frog-marched to their own execution, passes environmental laws and regulations that, at best, slow the ongoing environmental destruction. Corporations, which routinely ignore even these tepid restrictions, largely write the laws and legislation designed to regulate their activity. They rewrite them or overturn them as the focus of their exploitation changes. They turn public hearings on local environmental issues into choreographed charades or shut them down if activists succeed in muscling their way into the room to demand a voice.

They dominate the national message through a pliable and bankrupt corporate media and slick public relations. Elected officials are little more than corporate employees, dependent on industry money to stay in office and, when they retire from “public service,” salivating for jobs in the industry. Environmental reform has become a joke on the public. And the Big Green environmental groups are complicit because they rely on donors, at times from the fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries; they are silent about the reality of corporate power, largely ineffectual, and part of the fiction of the democratic process. Resistance will be local. It will be militant. It will defy the rules imposed by the corporate state. It will turn its back on state and NGO environmental organizations. And it will not stop until corporate power is destroyed or we are destroyed.

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John Helmer has written a deep-digging and extensive series on the Dutch MH17 report (h/t Yves Smith). I’ve left the topic alone, because Holland was never in a position to write a neutral analysis. From the get-go it was made clear that Russia and the rebels were responsible, proof be damned, because that fitted the overall anti-Russia mood whipped up by US and EU. What’s perhaps most galling is that the question of intent has been taken off the table altogether: whoever shot down the plane, did they do it on purpose? In ignoring that question, the answer is implied, and analysis makes way for propaganda. Victims’ families be damned.

Is There A War Crime In What The Dutch Safety Board Is Broadcasting? (Helmer)

Tjibbe Joustra, chairman of the Dutch Safety Board, wants it to be very clear that Russia is criminally responsible for the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014; that a Russian-supplied ground-to-air missile, fired on Russian orders from territory under Russian control, exploded lethally to break up the MH17 aircraft in the air, killing everyone on board; and that Russian objections to these conclusions are no more than cover-up and dissimulation for the guilty. Joustra also wants to make sure that no direct evidence for what he says can be tested, not in the report which his agency issued last week; nor in the three Dutch government organs which prepared and analysed the evidence of the victims’ bodies, the aircraft remains, and the missile parts on contract to the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) – the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), and the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI).

So Joustra began broadcasting his version of what he says happened before the release of the DSB report. He then continued in an anteroom of the Gilze-Rijen airbase, where the DSB report was presented to the press; in a Dutch television studio; and on the pages of the Dutch newspapers. But when he and his spokesman were asked today for the evidence for what Joustra has been broadcasting, they insisted that if the evidence isn’t to be found in the DSB report, Joustra’s evidence cannot be released. So, if the evidence for Joustra’s claims cannot be found in the NLR, TMO and NFI reports either, what exactly is Joustra doing – is he telling the truth? Is he broadcasting propaganda? Is he lying? Is he covering up for a crime?

In the absence of the evidence required to substantiate what the DSB chairman is broadcasting, is the likelihood that Joustra is concealing who perpetrated the crime equal to the probability that he is telling the truth? And if there is such a chance that Joustra is concealing or covering up, is this evidence that Joustra may be committing a crime himself? In English law, that may be the crime of perverting the course of justice. In US law, it might be the crime of obstruction of justice. In German law, it might be the crime of Vortäuschung einer Straftat. By the standard of World War II, Joustra’s crime might be propagandizing for the losing side, that’s to say the enemy of the winning side.

When William Joyce, an Anglo-American broadcaster on German radio during the war and known as Lord Haw-Haw, was prosecuted in London in 1945, he was convicted of treason and hanged. The treason indictment said he “did aid and assist the enemies of the King by broadcasting to the King’s subjects propaganda on behalf of the King’s enemies.” The legality of this indictment and the conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords.

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They’re going to die like flies.

Stranded in Cold Rain, a Logjam of Refugees in the Balkans (NY Times)

After weeks of warnings about the dangers involved in Europe’s migrant influx, and fears about winter’s arrival, the worries of public officials and humanitarian groups were realized on Monday when thousands of asylum seekers, many of them families with small children, began to back up at crossings and were stranded in a chilly rain. The backups came just two days after Hungary closed its border with Croatia, and occurred as countries on the north end of the Balkan route tightened border controls while states to its south quarreled over how to manage the unabated human flow into Europe.

The logjam followed a month of relative stability across the Balkans and Central Europe, as countries unofficially worked together to create a safe and relatively quick route north and west by transporting asylum seekers by bus or train from one border to the next, where they could exit on their way toward Germany, Sweden and other desired destinations. The arrangement filled the void left by the European Union, which has talked, bickered and failed to come up with a common solution to the problem of accommodating hundreds of thousands of new arrivals, many fleeing war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, or repression in places like Eritrea in northern Africa.

A recent effort to stem the flow of migrants by keeping them in Turkey, and preventing them from entering the European Union through Greece, faltered over the weekend, when little progress was reported in talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Turkish leaders. No other plans appear to be on the table, and the safety of the migrants has depended upon the cooperation of the countries along the route, many of them dubious about the migration from the start and resentful that Germany has encouraged it by agreeing to accommodate asylum seekers. That policy by the government of Ms. Merkel has created tensions in Germany, as well, where the weekend stabbing of the politician in charge of refugee affairs in Cologne heightened the polemics surrounding the influx.

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“I could get there and back for just €30. That’s because I’m British. I am not Syrian, Afghan, Palestinian, Iraqi, Somali or Eritrean.”

Without Safe Access To Asylum, Refugees Will Keep Risking Their Lives (Crawley)

I stood in the corner of a dusty cemetery on the Greek island of Lesvos and watched a mother bury her child. As the tiny body of a baby boy wrapped in a white sheet was lifted from the boot of a car, she fell to her knees and howled with pain. The child had slipped from her arms into the cold waters of the Aegean as she made the journey from Turkey to join her husband, who had already travelled to Germany to seek protection from the war that is ravaging their home country, Syria. Her baby should not have died. The journey from Turkey to Lesvos is short and safe. If I wanted to take a ferry trip from the port of Mytiline to Ayvalik on the Turkish coast, the trip would take around an hour. I could get there and back for just €30. That’s because I’m British. I am not Syrian, Afghan, Palestinian, Iraqi, Somali or Eritrean.

I am not required to put my life at risk by paying a smuggler hundreds or even thousands of euros to sit in the bottom of a motorised dingy with 30 or 40 other people to take the exact same journey. I do not need to close my eyes and pray that my children and I will make it to the other side without drowning. After a long summer of protracted negotiations about how to respond to the crisis in the Mediterranean region, this is what European asylum policy still looks like in practice. Although (most) EU member states have reluctantly agreed to redistribute 160,000 of those who have already arrived, there is still no legal route for refugees to enter Europe. And with no hope of a better life at home, thousands of people continue to make the illegal, expensive and potentially dangerous journey across the sea. They know the risks, but the water seems like a better option than the alternatives.

Although Turkey offers temporary protection to Syrian refugees, it is not a signatory to the 1967 Protocol which extends the protection available under the 1951 Refugee Convention to those coming from outside Europe. That means no guaranteed access to employment, education or even basic health care. Conditions for Syrian refugees in Turkey are well documented and known to be deteriorating. There is no prospect that things will improve, no hope for a better future. Those who are not from Syria get nothing. And so they come to Europe. Since the beginning of 2015, more than a quarter of a million people have arrived on Lesvos by sea, and still more are coming. More than 70,000 people arrived in September alone and, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the numbers are set to be even higher for October.

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Cattle trade.

Merkel In Turkey: Trade-Offs And Refugees (Boukalas)

The gilded thrones may have been the perfect expression of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s sultanic ambitions but they appeared to make his guest, Angela Merkel, somewhat uncomfortable judging by the customary photographs. Maybe the German chancellor was thinking that such a lavish setting was not appropriate for discussing the fate of thousands of people whose only surviving assets are their bodies, their children and whatever dollars or euros they have managed to save up to pay their traffickers. Maybe Merkel, as she sat in the kind of showy opulence that usually reveals something deeper, was thinking that she was being used by the Turkish president as a propaganda tool, that her presence in Istanbul just a few days before elections in Turkey was giving Erdogan a powerful boost.

Particularly at a time when the Turkish government is facing so many accusations: of waging war against the Kurds and brushing off every proposal for a peace settlement in a bid to appeal to those who want authoritarian rule; of racism and intolerance; of persecuting its political rivals; and of quashing free speech by cracking down on “unorthodox” journalists who don’t propagate the Erdogan narrative. Merkel cannot be unaware of all this, and even if her own advisers failed to brief her 100 Turkish university professors did in an open letter. Let us accept that on a mission during which she was not just representing Germany but the EU as a whole, Merkel decided to strike a concessionary tone for the sake of the issue at hand: the protection of the refugees, or, rather, the stemming of the flow of refugees.

The idea is that the refugee influx will abate not as a result of peace in Syria but by convincing Turkey to be more vigilant of its borders, to accept the creation of camps on its territory where refugees can be identified and documented and to grant passage to Europe to those who are deemed eligible for refugee status. It is a technical solution to a political problem; ergo, no solution at all. Turkey, naturally, did not just demand financial remuneration for its cooperation. It asked that its own people be given easier to access to Europe. And it got it. It asked that its European accession be speeded up even though it has fulfilled only a handful of the 40 criteria. And it was promised this would happen by the most powerful voice in Europe: the German one.

And what about the refugees? If only they had been the main topic of discussion at that meeting. Instead, they will keep drowning. And if the complex war in Syria continues unabated, even the winter will not prevent them from trying to get across.

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Most shocking: nobody’s shocked by dead babies anymore.

Greek Coast Guard Rescues 2,561 Migrants Over The Weekend (AP)

Greece’s coast guard says it has rescued 2,561 people in dozens of incidents in the eastern Aegean over the weekend as Europe’s refugee crisis continues unabated. The coast guard said Monday the rescues occurred in 69 operations from Friday morning until Monday morning near eight Aegean islands. The number doesn’t include those who make it ashore themselves from the nearby Turkish coast, often in overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels. On Sunday, the bodies of two women, a baby and a teenager were recovered near the remote island of KastelLorizo after their vessel overturned, while 12 others were rescued by a passing sailing boat. The deaths came a day after a 7-year-old boy died after falling into the water from a boat carrying 80 people who reached the island of Farmakonisi.

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