Aug 142020
 
 August 14, 2020  Posted by at 12:35 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Egon Schiele Self-Portrait with Lowered Head 1912

 

 

Regular Automatic Earth guest writer Alexander Aston this time comes not from Zimbabwe, Cambridge or Greece, but from South Carolina, where he is on family business. And that’s where he’s venting his anger about. I’m pretty sure we would all benefit from doing more of that, get it all off our chests. I think maybe the main issue with it in the present day circumstances is you have to make sure it’s your anger, and not somebody else’s that you’re merely parroting.

I personally like Alexander’s notion of: “America, a Country For Old Men”.

 

 

 

Alexander Aston: Is there any more perfect metaphor for a society in terminal decline than the senescent Joe Biden? The U.S. election has boiled down to a choice between the authoritarian versions of Mr. Magoo and P.T. Barnum. Truly, “there’s a sucker born every minute” is a far more apropos motto for the country than E. Pluribus Unum. The Republicans have adopted a Christian Nationalism that identifies with a New York shyster that says all the shitty things they’ve been feeling for decades while blaming the least powerful. It’s always easier to kick down than punch up and moral courage is not a common trait.

Likewise, the Democrats smug self-satisfied conviction of ethical superiority and sense of entitlement to the votes of every women, brown person and leftist makes them not only insufferable but delusional. The DNC managed to crush the momentum and energy of one of the most significant left- wing grassroots movements in US history. They have demoralised a huge swath of the under-45 crowd and subverted an actual political vision (regardless of whether you agree with it or not) in favour of a man with an abysmal record and signs of growing cognitive impairment. The DNC platform offers zero substantive policy other than “not Trump” (a policy that’s going to have a very short honeymoon in the face of cascading systems failure).

The Democrats have made no concessions on even one important progressive/left issue. Now they have picked a morally bankrupt prosecutor who’s deeply entangled with the prison industrial complex at a time in which “defund the police” has coalesced into a key feature of American discourse. Yet, liberals seem completely shocked and aghast by the fact that there are large numbers of young folks, minorities and women that are unwilling to shut up and put up. The level of enthusiasm beyond the party faithful, for those still willing to vote Democrat, amounts to the ever inspiring “I’ll grit my teeth.”

 

Meanwhile, I know middle aged folks that have never voted in their lives who have signed up just to support Trump. In other words, they are motivated. Like it or lump it, that’s some of the real political complexity behind the vacuous narrative management of the MSM. On a national level, the American sense of reality is becoming more unhinged than a schizophrenic dropping acid after a weeklong meth binge. George Soros funded Antifa and Putin’s army of trolls are all monsters of the same fevered social imagination. On its current trajectory, the American Right will soon believe anyone to the left of Attila the Hun is a “far-left radical.”

Likewise, U.S. liberals will be left haunted and terrified by the spectre of Russian agents stealing their precious bodily fluids. Meanwhile, the virus will continue to rage, and corporate feudalism will further entrench itself as the benefits of imperial citizenship rapidly fade. The only thing that’s certain is that huge swaths of Americans still won’t actually understand what is happening to them and continue to blame the opposing factions of management, figments of their propaganda, the dispossessed and the marginalised. I don’t believe the specific outcome of the American election is all that relevant anymore.

The sad truth is that the United States is collapsing under the weight of a microscopic entity and its own systemic contradictions. The various narratives of what is happening and what it means to be an American have become so wildly divergent that there are multiple parallel realities operating in the United States. What’s frightening is how few realise the diversity and complexity of these various perspectives, fears and aspirations. Regardless of who wins the election, trust in the political legitimacy of the American system is being fatally undermined. If the margin of the election is close, it is guaranteed that one side will not accept the results.

 

If the election is swept, then the winning party will be saddled with a crisis of unparalleled proportions in the history of the country. Furthermore, neither party has the political vision nor competence to actually address the challenges that beset them. The U.S. would need leadership on par with a Lincoln or Aurelius to rescue the political system. Whoever is in power will rapidly face multiple and intersecting forms of systemic breakdown, resistance and noncompliance as the extent of the economic devastation becomes truly apparent.

The first part of the 2020’s will consist of material deprivation, civil unrest and increasingly robust challenges to the United States’ geostrategic position. The more that authoritarians try to exert control in a high entropy environment (robbing Peter to pay Paul), the faster the system will fall apart. Ultimately, I believe that the break-up of the United States is all but inevitable at present. What I hope is that it will be a relatively peaceful dissolution and reorganisation. What should terrify us all is the prospect of real violence as the various factions and coalitions jockey for power in the new reality. A few truly smooth brained idiots think that they just need to tool up and go mow down a few “liberal snowflakes” so that they can return to the 1950’s by Christmas.

 

A conflict in North America would be a clusterfuck that would make Syria’s civil war look like a game of checkers. Forget electoralism and eschew romantic notions of purification through violence. Build solidarity networks, figure out how to make your communities economically, socially and psychologically resilient. My suggestion would be that Mutualism, Libertarian Municipalism and Democratic Confederalism offer some good starting points for thinking about these things. I would recommend setting up a micro- factory in your community so that you can start manufacturing necessary tools and goods on a local level. Here are some freely available schematics: Civilization Starter Kit.

Try to appreciate the limitations of your own understanding so that you might be more compassionate towards others. Don’t blame people for having problems they don’t know how to fix, try helping them instead. Some things, once broken, cannot be mended. This is very true for societies. I sincerely wish you all the best of luck. Please be good to one another and defend those less powerful and fortunate than yourself.

P.S. If you are in a swing state you should follow your conscience, but it should be beneath any person’s dignity to vote for either party in their safe states. If you don’t understand how the American electoral system works at this point then shame on you, stop berating people for voting Green in Montana or Libertarian in California, they’re actually displaying some political acumen.

 

 

 

 

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Aug 142020
 


Marlon Brando screentest 1951

 

US Obesity Epidemic Threatens Effectiveness of Any COVID Vaccine (KHN)
Israeli Hospital Trials Fast Saliva Test for COVID-19 (R.)
The Pandemic and Medicare for All (TMI)
NYC Is Dead Forever. Here’s Why (Altucher)
What Kamala Harris Really Thinks of WikiLeaks (Lauria)
Some Questions About Kamala Harris’ Eligibility (NW)
China’s Banks At Risk As $500 Billion In Non-Performing Loans Revealed (SCMP)
China’s Debt Collectors Flourish As Consumers Flounder (R.)
US Seizes $2 Million From Terror-Linked Cryptocurrency Accounts (CNBC)
United Arab Emirates Sells Out Palestine For Israel (EI)
Experts Debunk Claims of GMO Crops Success (OffG)
Ford Is Slashing 10,000 Jobs, 6 Factories In Europe (ZH)
7 Million Jobs At Risk, European Airlines Could See “Further Declines” (ZH)
Volume of Greek Air Traffic Plunged 74.3% in 2020 (GR)

 

 

I was reading a piece by law professor John Eastman yesterday, before the entire left stumbled over each other to condemn it. I was thinking in my innocence that it’s interesting to know if questions over who’s a “natural born citizen” in America have ever truly been settled by politics or courts.

But I’m naive, and it’s attack time. They will defend Kamala Harris with all they got, with the entire MSM serving as their bullhorns. Which means Trump and his people have no choice but to go after her with all they got. Still, remembering the Obama birther fiasco, do they really want to die on this hill? Can’t we just leave it to the court system and legal experts? Or simply answer Eastman’s questions?

It’s all among signs of things to come between here and Nov. 3. Bill Barr yesterday promised that a first news flash from the Durham investigation into Russiagate origins will come out today, and that all of it will before Nov. 3. US elections are really just entertainment. Opium for the masses. Clickbaits, drama, anger, scandal. And I always thought it should be about people.

 

 

Not much movement in the numbers. We’re stuck in a broken record, with no progress anywhere. Not good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are 328 million Americans. 74 million of them are children. That leaves 254 million adults, of which 107 million are obese, or 42%. 42.4% have a BMI over 30. 9% are morbidly obese.

From this point of view, COVID is hardly the worst threat to either the people or the health care system. Or, to put it another way, it’s the people themselves that are the threat to the health care system.

Again, take high fructose corn syrup out of the diet, and you solve a huge chunk of that problem. Ban stuff that kills people, or make it much harder to get.

US Obesity Epidemic Threatens Effectiveness of Any COVID Vaccine (KHN)

For a world crippled by the coronavirus, salvation hinges on a vaccine. But in the United States, where at least 4.6 million people have been infected and nearly 155,000 have died, the promise of that vaccine is hampered by a vexing epidemic that long preceded COVID-19: obesity. Scientists know that vaccines engineered to protect the public from influenza, hepatitis B, tetanus and rabies can be less effective in obese adults than in the general population, leaving them more vulnerable to infection and illness. There is little reason to believe, obesity researchers say, that COVID-19 vaccines will be any different. “Will we have a COVID vaccine next year tailored to the obese? No way,” said Raz Shaikh, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“Will it still work in the obese? Our prediction is no.” More than 107 million American adults are obese, and their ability to return safely to work, care for their families and resume daily life could be curtailed if the coronavirus vaccine delivers weak immunity for them. In March, still early in the global pandemic, a little-noticed study from China found that heavier Chinese patients afflicted with COVID-19 were more likely to die than leaner ones, suggesting a perilous future awaited the U.S., whose population is among the heaviest in the world. And then that future arrived.

As intensive care units in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere filled with patients, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that obese people with a body mass index of 40 or more — known as morbid obesity or about 100 pounds overweight — were among the groups at highest risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19. About 9% of American adults are in that category. As weeks passed and a clearer picture of who was being hospitalized came into focus, federal health officials expanded their warning to include people with a body mass index of 30 or more. That vastly expanded the ranks of those considered vulnerable to the most severe cases of infection, to 42.4% of American adults.

Read more …

More rapid testing. Good. Bring it. Test yourself everyday at breakfast.

Israeli Hospital Trials Fast Saliva Test for COVID-19 (R.)

A newly developed saliva test aims to determine in less than a second whether or not you are infected with the novel coronavirus, Israel’s largest medical center said Thursday. Patients rinse their mouth with a saline wash and spit into a vial. This is then examined by a small spectral device that, in simple terms, shines light on the specimen and analyzes the reaction to see if it is consistent with COVID-19. With machine learning it gets more accurate over time. Eli Schwartz of the Center for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Center, who is leading the trial, said it was easier to use than PCR swabs commonly used to detect COVID-19.


“So far we have very promising results in this new method which will be much more convenient and much cheaper,” he said. The center said in an initial clinical trial involving hundreds of patients, the new artificial intelligence-based device identified evidence of the virus in the body at a 95% success rate. Amos Panet, an expert in molecular virology at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, said he would like to see more data and comparisons with existing tests before making a final judgment. The amount of virus present in saliva increases as patients get sicker, he said, and a big challenge is to detect in “people who are borderline.” “It will be a game changer only if we see validation of this technology against the current technology,” he said.

Read more …

Would M4A benefit the obese and hence diabetic? A long time ago, someone said: we’re raising a generation of blind amputees. How would a health care system deal with that?

The Pandemic and Medicare for All (TMI)

When the novel coronavirus first arrived in the United States, it spurred on remarkable message discipline among America’s political class. The consensus that emerged on both sides of the aisle dictated that no matter what happened, Americans ought to be glad they do not live in a country with socialized medicine. At the final Democratic presidential debate on March 15, former Vice President Biden pointed to COVID numbers in Italy as evidence that not only was Medicare for all not a solution to the crisis, but it would put the country at greater risk. “With all due respect for Medicare for all, you have a single-payer system in Italy,” the former vice president said. “It doesn’t work there. It has nothing to do with Medicare for all. That would not solve the problem at all.”

Weeks later, in early April, Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden echoed the sentiment in a Twitter spat with a Medicare for All supporter. “You might want to check out the death rate in France before you think the form of health system is the answer here,” she tweeted. Not long after, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen declaring the COVID-19 pandemic was “an indictment of socialized medicine.” “If you think today’s pandemic bolsters the case for socialized medicine, then ask yourself a simple question: If you came down with a serious case of COVID-19, would you rather be in an Italian hospital or an American one?” the piece opens, before lauding Biden’s debate answer.

Such arguments were never fair — the pandemic was only just starting in the United States, while COVID-19 had indeed rampaged across Europe, there were contributing factors like years of austerity and a lack of supply chain redundancy in the modern globalized economy. But now, just a few months later, these arguments completely and utterly fail. New infections are still surging in the U.S. while countries with national health care programs have long since gotten a handle on the virus. On Tuesday, the U.S. reported more new COVID cases in a single day than Italy, France, and the U.K. reported last month combined, and roughly 45 percent of their total deaths.

Read more …

Nice account from James Altucher. is he just getting old, or is New York really beyond salvation?

NYC Is Dead Forever. Here’s Why (Altucher)

People say, “NYC has been through worse” or “NYC has always come back.” No and no. First, when has NYC been through worse? Even in the 1970s, and through the 80s, when NYC was going bankrupt, and even when it was the crime capital of the US or close to it, it was still the capital of the business world (meaning: it was the primary place young people would go to build wealth and find opportunity), it was culturally on top of its game – home to artists, theater, media, advertising, publishing, and it was probably the food capital of the US. NYC has never been locked down for five months. Not in any pandemic, war, financial crisis, never. In the middle of the polio epidemic, when little kids (including my mother) were going paralyzed or dying (my mother ended up with a bad leg), NYC didn’t go through this.

This is not to say what should have been done or should not have been done. That part is over. Now we have to deal with what IS. In early March, many people (not me), left NYC when they felt it would provide safety from the virus and they no longer needed to go to work and all the restaurants were closed. People figured, “I’ll get out for a month or two and then come back.” They are all still gone. And then in June, during rioting and looting a second wave of NYC-ers (this time me) left. I have kids. Nothing was wrong with the protests but I was a little nervous when I saw videos of rioters after curfew trying to break into my building. Many people left temporarily but there were also people leaving permanently. Friends of mine moved to Nashville, Miami, Austin, Denver, Salt Lake City, Austin, Dallas, etc.

Now a third wave of people are leaving. But they might be too late. Prices are down 30-50% on both rentals and sales no matter what real estate people tell you. And rentals soaring in the second and third-tier cities. I’m temporarily, although maybe permanently, in South Florida now. I also got my place sight unseen. Robyn was looking at listings around Miami and then she saw an area we had never been to before. We found three houses we liked. She called the real estate agent. Place #1. Just rented that morning 50% higher than the asking price. Place #2. Also rented (New Yorkers – “they came from New York for three hours, saw the place, got it, went back to pack.”). Place #3. “Available.” “We’ll take it!” The first time we physically saw it was when we flew down and moved in. “This is temporary, right?” I confirmed with Robyn. But…I don’t know. I’m starting to like the sun a little bit. I mean, when it’s behind the shades. And when I am in air conditioning.

Read more …

All US politics is united against Julian Assange.

What Kamala Harris Really Thinks of WikiLeaks (Lauria)

During a September 2017 U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee debate on an intelligence bill a line was inserted that said WikiLeaks “resembles a non-state hostile intelligence service” and that the U.S. “should treat it as such.” “This language would help investigators secure the authorization needed to surveil those U.S. citizens thought to be associated with WikiLeaks,” a McClatchy report quoted a government lawyer as saying. “You need to show that someone is an agent of a foreign power,” said the lawyer, Robert Deitz, who held senior legal positions at the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Agency. “It’s possible that Assange has colleagues in this country that they need to focus on,” McClatchy quoted Deitz as saying, “noting that such action can only be done under court order.”

The non-state hostile agency phrase was directly lifted from a scurrilous speech by Mike Pompeo in his first address as CIA director. The language survived the committee and made it into the bill voted on by the full Senate. But before it did two senators raised objections to it. One was Ron Wyden of Oregon. The other was Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential candidate in November’s election. According to the McClatchy report, “Harris declared that she is ‘no supporter of WikiLeaks,’ which she said had done ‘considerable harm’ to the United States. But the clause on the group is ‘dangerous’ because it ‘fails to draw a bright line between WikiLeaks and legitimate news organizations that play a vital role in our democracy,’ according to her remarks for the record.”

Harris left no doubt that she is an enemy of WikiLeaks, as is her running mate, Joe Biden, who agreed it was more like a high-tech terrorist organization that Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers. Harris made clear she cared only about establishment media (which almost universally undergirds aggressive U.S. foreign policy) and was worried about it getting caught up in a WikiLeaks dragnet. She said she wants a “bright line” between publications such as The New York Times and WikiLeaks. Except, there can be no such legal line drawn as both establishment papers, like the Times, and WikiLeaks have done the exact same thing: possessed and published classified material.

Because there is no legal distinction, the Obama administration, which desperately wanted to indict WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, backed away citing its “New York Times problem.” The Trump administration had no such qualms and had Assange arrested in April 2019 and indicted on conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and 17 counts of the Espionage Act. The only bright line that can be drawn is political: a decision by the Department of Justice to not prosecute big media but to prosecute WikiLeaks for the same “crime”, which conflicts with First Amendment press freedoms. This is what Harris was calling for: Protect the state-managed corporate media but go after a serious publication that dares to reveal crimes of the U.S. government, which Harris wants to protect. In other words, for the same activity, the Times is afforded First Amendment protections, but WikiLeaks is not.

Read more …

There are questions one can’t ask.

Some Questions About Kamala Harris’ Eligibility (NW)

The fact that Senator Kamala Harris has just been named the vice presidential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has some questioning her eligibility for the position. The 12th Amendment provides that “no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.” And Article II of the Constitution specifies that “[n]o person except a natural born citizen…shall be eligible to the office of President.” Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time of Harris’ birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a “natural born citizen”—and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president.

“Nonsense,” runs the counter-commentary. Indeed, PolitiFact rated the claim of ineligibility as “Pants on Fire” false, Snopes rated it simply “False,” and from the other side of the political spectrum, Conservative Daily News likewise rated it “False.” All three (and numerous others) simply assert that Harris is eligible because she was born in Oakland—and is therefore a natural-born citizen from location of birth. The 14th Amendment says so, they all claim, and the Supreme Court so held in the 1898 case of U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark. But those claims are erroneous, at least as the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment was originally understood—an error to which even my good friend, renowned UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh, has fallen prey.

The language of Article II is that one must be a natural-born citizen. The original Constitution did not define citizenship, but the 14th Amendment does—and it provides that “all persons born…in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.” Those who claim that birth alone is sufficient overlook the second phrase. The person must also be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, and that meant subject to the complete jurisdiction, not merely a partial jurisdiction such as that which applies to anyone temporarily sojourning in the United States (whether lawfully or unlawfully). Such was the view of those who authored the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause; of the Supreme Court of the United States in the 1872 Slaughter-House Cases and the 1884 case of Elk v. Wilkins; of Thomas Cooley, the leading constitutional treatise writer of the day; and of the State Department, which, in the 1880s, issued directives to U.S. embassies to that effect.

The Supreme Court’s subsequent decision in Wong Kim Ark is not to the contrary. At issue there was a child born to Chinese immigrants who had become lawful, permanent residents in the United States—”domiciled” was the legally significant word used by the Court. But that was the extent of the Court’s holding (as opposed to broader language that was dicta, and therefore not binding). Indeed, the Supreme Court has never held that anyone born on U.S. soil, no matter the circumstances of the parents, is automatically a U.S. citizen.

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I’ve said it often before: none of this means much without also tallying shadow banks’ numbers.

China’s Banks At Risk As $500 Billion In Non-Performing Loans Revealed (SCMP)

China’s top banking regulatory official said on Thursday that the country’s banks have to deal with 3.4 trillion yuan (US$489.5 billion) worth of non-performing loans in 2020 – flagging a big risk for the banking system in the world’s second-largest economy. The total marks a hefty increase from 2.3 trillion yuan in 2019, and the value of bad loans could be even higher in 2021. Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said in an interview with the official Xinhua News Agency that the increase in non-performing loans (NPLs) – loans in default or close to default – will put huge pressure on the country’s banks, especially small and regional ones.

“As many loans are rolled over [in 2020], some problems will only emerge next year,” Guo was quoted by Xinhua as saying, adding that a rebound in bad loans is “inevitable” since the coronavirus shock has adversely affected so many companies. The warning by Guo, who is also the Communist Party secretary at the People’s Bank of China, came at a time when many of the country’s small banks are facing a moment of reckoning after years of undisciplined balance sheet expansion, as well as instances of fraud and corruption. Meanwhile, Guo said, Chinese banks have improved their loan structure – with more lending going toward manufacturing, infrastructure, technology and small businesses.

Guo added that Chinese banks are now being told to enhance their support of small businesses. In addition, he said he will encourage banks to invest more in corporate bonds. According to official statistics from Guo’s agency, the NPL ratio in China was among the lowest in the world. The ratio for Chinese commercial banks rose 0.03 percentage points in the second quarter to 1.94 per cent at the end of June. But hidden bad loans, if exposed, could easily wipe out bank profits and erode capital bases. In the first half of this year, the combined profits of Chinese banks dropped for the first time in more than a decade – falling 9.4 per cent to 1 trillion yuan in the first half of the year, government data shows.

Read more …

So, question is: who are the shadow banks’ debt collectors? Vinnie the Kneecapper and his friends?

China’s Debt Collectors Flourish As Consumers Flounder (R.)

It’s not a good sign for any economy when debt collectors are booming and in China right now, the industry is on a hiring spree. Whole Scene Asset Management, a debt recovery firm based in the southern province of Hunan, plans to double staff numbers to 400 people this year as it expands into new cities. “Debt collection companies have been mushrooming,” said company founder Zhang Haiyan. “And with bad loans growing this year, everyone is adding new hands.” Rival Bricsman is also hiring – hoping to boost headcount of around 1,000 by 400-500 this year after landing a deal to collect delinquent consumer loans for China Minsheng Bank (600016.SS), people with knowledge of the matter said, declining to identified as they were not authorised to talk to media.

Bricsman, which is based in the eastern province of Jiangsu and counts other large banks amongst its clients, did not respond to a request for comment. As increasing numbers of consumers struggle with lost income in an economy battered by the coronavirus and U.S-China tensions, a burgeoning wave of non-performing loans is sparking concern among lenders – both at specialist consumer financing firms and traditional banks – and even among debt collectors. China is the midst of “an unfolding debt crisis”, says Joe Zhang, a business consultant and until last month vice chairman at the country’s largest debt collector YX Asset Recovery. The delinquency rate for consumer debt is climbing and collecting on those loans has become much harder, he added, estimating that at some weaker non-bank consumer lenders, soured loans may account for 30% to 50% of their portfolios.

[..] Chinese consumer debt has ballooned over the past five years, fuelled in part as banks scrambled to issue credit cards, with outstanding debt for bank-issued cards doubling to 17.6 trillion yuan ($2.5 trillion). Internet-based consumer financing, which is only lightly regulated, has also grown – by a dizzying 400 times to nearly 8 trillion yuan since 2014, according to the Guanghua School of Management. And Chinese household debt – including mortgages and unsecured consumer loans – has swollen to levels equivalent to nearly 60% of GDP, up from 18% in 2008, the peak of the global financial crisis.

Read more …

300 anonymous accounts?!

US Seizes $2 Million From 300 Terror-Linked Cryptocurrency Accounts (CNBC)

The Justice Department said it dismantled an elaborate cyber campaign used by overseas terror organizations to finance their operations and seized $2 million from more than 300 cryptocurrency accounts in what it described as the largest-ever seizure of its kind. The Justice Department said three overseas terrorist groups — al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing; al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS — used cryptocurrencies and social media to raise funds for their terror campaigns. “It should not surprise anyone that our enemies use modern technology, social media platforms and cryptocurrency to facilitate their evil and violent agendas,” Attorney General William Barr said in a release.


“As announced today, we will seize the funds and the instrumentalities that provide a lifeline for their operations whenever possible,” he added. “Terrorist networks have adapted to technology, conducting complex financial transactions in the digital world, including through cryptocurrencies. IRS-CI special agents in the DC cybercrimes unit work diligently to unravel these financial networks,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said in a release. In one of the cases, the U.S. secretly took over websites that were operated by al-Qassam Brigades and monitored those who thought they had opened up their cyber wallets to the terror group but instead donated money to an account controlled by the U.S. government, according to court documents unsealed Thursday in the District of Columbia.

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Successfully dividing the Arab world’s support for Palestinians.

United Arab Emirates Sells Out Palestine For Israel (EI)

The United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to full normalization of relations, bringing their decades-long clandestine dealings proudly into the open. The so-called “Abraham Accords” sealing the deal were brokered by US officials. The deal is named for “the father of all three great faiths,” David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, told reporters at the Oval Office on Thursday. Religious and cultural tolerance is often used by Arab states and Israel to mask their efforts to normalize ties. Painting conflict in the region as stemming from a lack of understanding among religions is also a way to obscure its true origin: Israel’s violent dispossession of Palestinians and ongoing military occupation and steady ethnic cleansing of their land.

In exchange for normalization, Israel agreed to suspend plans to annex large swaths of the occupied West Bank “and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” according to the joint statement. However, this is spin. In reality, it was the United States that put Israel’s annexation plans on ice weeks ago. In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to annexation shortly after the announcement of the agreement. The UAE is merely using the American-imposed freeze as an opportunity to bring its secret ties with Israel dating back to the 1990s into the open. These secret relations have included military and intelligence cooperation and even joint military exercises.

[..] Relations between Israel and Gulf States including Saudi Arabia and the UAE are founded on a mutual enmity towards Iran. Liquidating Palestinian rights and bypassing the Palestinian issue is seen as key to building up this anti-Iran alliance under American oversight. Annexation, moreover, would only be a formal rubber stamp for what Israel has been doing on the ground for decades: stealing land, forcibly displacing Palestinians and building colonies in flagrant breach of international law. This violent colonization has never ceased and will not stop as a result of this agreement.

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India is Monsanto’s wet dream.

Experts Debunk Claims of GMO Crops Success (OffG)

On 6 July 2020, an article extolling the benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops appeared on the BloombergQuint website based on an interview with Dr Ramesh Chand, a member of the key Indian Government think tank Niti Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) . On 17 July, another piece that placed a positive spin on GM crops and gene-editing technology (Feeding 10 Billion People will Require Genetically Modified Food) appeared on the same site. According to Prof Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Dr Hans R Herren and Dr Peter E Kenmore, internationally renowned agricultural researchers, the pieces reported “sweeping unsupported claims” about the benefits of and need for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and related technologies in agriculture in India.

The three academics felt that “a responsible and factual response” was required and have written a letter – containing what could be described as the definitive analysis of Bt cotton in India – to Dr Ramesh Chand, Dr Rajiv Kumar (Niti Aayog Vice Chancellor) and Dr Amitabh Kant (Niti Aayog CEO). Chand is reported as saying that there is no credible study to show any adverse impact of growing Bt cotton in the last 18 years in the country (India’s only officially approved GM crop). This is simply not the case. Moreover, Gutierrez et al argue that all of the credible evidence shows any meagre increases in cotton yield after the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002 were largely due to increases in fertiliser use. Before proceeding, it is pertinent to address the claim that ‘feeding 10 billion people will require genetically modified food’.

If we take the case of India and its 1.3 billion-plus population, it has achieved self-sufficiency in food grains and has ensured that, in theory at least, there is enough food available to feed its entire population. It is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and millets and the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnuts, vegetables and fruit. However, food security for many Indians remains a distant dream. Hunger and malnutrition remain prevalent. But that is not because farmers don’t produce enough food. These problems result from other factors, including inadequate food distribution, social and economic policies, inequality and poverty. It is a case of ‘scarcity’ amid abundance (reflecting the situation globally). India even continues to export food while millions remain hungry. Productivity is not the issue.

And while proponents say GM will boost productivity and help secure cultivators a better income, this too ignores crucial political and economic contexts; with bumper harvests, Indian farmers still find themselves in financial distress. India’s farmers are not experiencing hardship due to low productivity. They are reeling from the effects of neoliberal policies and years of neglect. It’s for good reason that the calorie and essential nutrient intake of the rural poor has drastically fallen. Yet the pro-GMO lobby has wasted no time in wrenching these issues from their political contexts to use the notions of ‘helping farmers’ and ‘feeding the world’ as lynchpins of its promotional strategy.

Read more …

Everything travel related is getting hammered. There is no telling when it all will be back, or if it ever will. Bailing out the firms involved seems an awful waste of money. You do that for firms that have a future, not those that have a past.

Ford Is Slashing 10,000 Jobs, 6 Factories In Europe (ZH)

The auto industry continues to grapple with one of the worst recessions ever for the notoriously capital intensive sector. Ford, which feels like it has been in the midst of a yearslong “restructuring” that has never fully panned out or ended (and has involved numerous CEOs), continues to make major changes to its global personnel to try and find the right mix for its business going forward. This means that 10,000 positions are now being cut across Europe, the automaker disclosed yesterday. Ford is also going to be reducing the number of its plants in Europe to 17 from 23, the company revealed in a JP Morgan conference presentation on Wednesday.

In a slide called “Ford Euope: Road to Sustainable Profitability”, the company also disclosed it would be discontinuing underperforming vehicles, like its C-MAX and Grand C-Max. The company also plans on “leveraging” its relationship with VW. The company says it is on track to deliver on its 2020-2021 CO2 targets without credits or penalties and 13 new electic vehicles will be on sale by the end of 2020, up from just 5. This news comes days after it was announced that Ford would be replacing its CEO on relatively short notice. Ford said days ago it had tapped Jim Farley to replace a relatively still-newly appointed Jim Hackett as CEO. Hackett replaced former CEO Mark Fields and, for the most part, has failed to inspire confidence during his tenure at Ford.

Ford is currently in the middle of an $11 billion restructuring that is supposed to help to accelerate its development of new vehicles, including hybrids and EVs. Hackett had only just started with Ford back in 2017 and has said he will retire effective October. General Motors is following with a C-suite shakeup of its own, as its CFO leaves after just two years to work at a fintech startup. The company announced earlier this week that John Stapleton, GM North America chief financial officer, has been named its acting global chief financial officer, effective Aug. 15, after the resignation of the company’s current CFO, Dhivya Suryadevara.

Read more …

Isn’t that what we wanted? Less flying, less pollution?

7 Million Jobs At Risk, European Airlines Could See “Further Declines” (ZH)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) published a new report Thursday that warns the virus-induced downturn will continue to pressure air passenger numbers, employment and economies across Europe. IATA said passenger flights are expected to decline by 60% in 2020, resulting in millions of job losses in the aviation and tourism industries. IATA issued a similar warning of what has been announced by airlines, of which, complete recovery in passenger demand might not be seen until 2024. “The near-term outlook for recovery in Europe remains highly uncertain with respect to the second wave of the pandemic and the broader global economic impact it could have. Passenger demand in Europe is expected to recover gradually and will not reach 2019 levels until 2024. -IATA

IATA’s job loss estimate was increased by 17% from its June report, from 6 million to 7 million, mostly because the highly anticipated V-shaped recovery has failed to materialize. “It is desperately worrying to see a further decline in prospects for air travel this year, and the knock-on impact for employment and prosperity. said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe. Schvartzman said, “It shows once again the terrible effect that is being felt by families across Europe as border restrictions and quarantine continue. It is vital that governments and industry work together to create a harmonized plan for reopening borders.”

If another wave of the virus were to hit Europe, justifying nationwide lockdowns, it could intensify the recession. Though the German tabloid newspaper Bild has said: “There will be no second hard lockdown in Europe because that would lead to a monster recession that would not be accepted by the population.”

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20% of Greek GDP is tourism. So are at least 20% of jobs.

Volume of Greek Air Traffic Plunged 74.3% in 2020 (GR)

A report came out on Thursday confirming the worst fears of Greek economic experts, stating that the country had seen a drop of 74.3% in the number of passengers who had traveled through their airports so far this year. This amounts to only 9 million air travelers who had used airports in the country so far in 2020, a staggering drop of almost three-quarters of its business. The number of international visitors coming into Greek airports this year so far amounts to 1,126,429, a stunning decrease from last year’s banner tourism season, which saw a total of 4,096,657 international arrivals. Although very disappointing, the numbers did not come as a shock to any in the sector, due to the punishing effects of travel bans imposed on many nations because of the coronavirus pandemic.


According to Greek media reports, the Civil Aviation Authority, or CAA, reported the precipitous drop in business in the first seven months of this year relative to the numbers seen in 2019. For the month of July 2020 alone, the high season for summertime travel to the country, passenger traffic at Greek airports had decreased 72.6%. During the month of July, a total of only 2,722,854 million passengers came through Greece’s airports; in that same period, there was a precipitous drop of 72.5% in the number of foreign arrivals. This means that there were fewer passengers overall in the first seven months of 2020 than there had been in the month of July only in 2019.

Read more …

 

 

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Aug 132020
 


Joel Meyerowitz Florida 1967

 

COVID-19 Rapid Tests Demo (MedCram)
Puzzling New Zealand Virus Outbreak Grows To 17 Cases (AP)
Russian Vaccine CEO: US Waging “Major Information Warfare” (ZH)
When COVID Closed The Library, Staff Called Every Member Over 70 (G.)
Smart Money On Trump To Win In November, Stocks Could Crash – Gundlach (MW)
AOC Only Gets 60 Seconds At DNC To Deliver Pre-Recorded Message (F.)
Romney Blocks Sen. Ron Johnson From Subpoenaing Comey, Brennan (GP)
China State-Run Banks Quietly Complying With Trump’s Hong Kong Sanctions (ZH)
Uber May Shut Down In California If Forced To Call Drivers Employees (V.)
Pentagon Gives Up Huge Slice Of Spectrum For 5G (BD)
We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough (CP)

 

 

I get quite a few of my entries in the Debt Rattles from my Twitter feed; I follow 193 accounts, let, right, and everything in between.

Now I clearly see the attention in there shifting away from COVID to US politics. Not surprisingly, of course. But what happens in that shift sometimes is. Joe Biden tweeted yesterday that Trump three years ago called neonazis in Charlottesville “very fine people”.

Now, we know that Trump did not do that, it’s a blatant lie, and one which has been well documented, because we know what he did say, word for word. How and why then can Biden make that claim?

Easy: he knows -and his handlers do- that his supporters don’t read or view anything in which this is explained to them. They simply believe Trump said that, because CNN and the NYT say so.

That’s how far the US media landscape – and journalism in general- has sunken. Biden’s tweet:

But here’s what Trump actually said:

And a clip of that:

Even CNN’s Jake Tapper said so. Maybe he can tell his colleagues the truth, refresh their memories?!

 

 

C’mon, get a grip on the numbers already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently this has been available for months. Let’s start ASAP.

COVID-19 Rapid Tests Demo (MedCram)

We’ve received your requests for a brief summary video (to share!) of Dr. Mina’s research and how inexpensive (approx. $1), at-home, COVID-19 tests (results in 15 minutes) could be utilized to dramatically slow the spread of this pandemic (and open up schools etc. in a faster and safer way). Dr. Mina is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health and a core member of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Dr. Mina’s research has demonstrated that the sensitivity (accuracy) of these simple saliva or swab paper antigen tests (the technology already exists) is high enough to detect the vast majority of infectious #COVID19 and could be utilized frequently at home.

At-Home, Rapid Result Testing: 5 Min. Summary with Dr. Mina

Read more …

Frozen food? Isn’t that a bit far out?

Puzzling New Zealand Virus Outbreak Grows To 17 Cases (AP)

A puzzling new outbreak of the coronavirus in New Zealand’s largest city grew to 17 cases on Thursday, with officials saying the number will likely increase further. And a lockdown in Auckland designed to extinguish the outbreak could be extended well beyond an initial three days. It was a turnabout from Sunday, when the South Pacific nation of 5 million marked 100 days without any cases of local transmission. For most people, life had long returned to normal as they sat down in packed sports stadiums and restaurants or went to school without the fear of getting infected. The only cases for months had been a handful of returning travelers who have been quarantined at the border. But then earlier this week, health workers discovered four infections in one Auckland household.

The source of the new infections continues to stump officials. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said genome testing has not yet matched the new cluster with any infections that have been caught at the border, although the testing has indicated the strain of the virus may have come from Australia or Britain. Auckland was moved to Alert Level 3 on Wednesday, meaning that non-essential workers are required to stay home and bars, restaurants and most businesses are shut. The rest of the country has moved to Level 2, requiring social distancing. The government is due to make a decision Friday on whether to extend Auckland’s lockdown, which seems increasingly likely given the new cases. The good news for health officials about the latest 13 cases is that they could all be linked through work and family to the initial four cases, meaning there is no evidence yet of a wider community outbreak. Officials say they tested just over 6,000 people on Wednesday.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the outbreak was a reminder of the trickiness of the virus and how easily it can spread. “As with our first outbreak, we do have an expectation that things will get worse before they get better,” Ardern said. “Modeling suggests that we will still see more positive cases. At this stage, though, it’s heartening to see them in one cluster.” Bloomfield said he expected that sooner or later the new cases would be linked to somebody who had arrived in the country with an infection or a worker at a quarantine facility, airport or maritime port. “At the moment we haven’t established a direct connection,” Bloomfield said. “But as we find each case and do that thorough interview and investigation, that will help.” Some of those infected work at an Auckland refrigerated food facility, leading to speculation the virus could have survived from abroad on chilled or frozen food.

Read more …

In the US, this will always be about money. The government buys billions worth of “maybe vaccines” whose research it has already paid for. Big Pharma sees the pandemic as a major profit opportunity. And both don’t want some Russian vaccine to spoil their schemes.

Russian Vaccine CEO: US Waging “Major Information Warfare” (ZH)

The global race among multiple nations to be the first to produce a coronavirus vaccine – especially the US, China, and Russia – has sparked not just competition to see who’ll be first, but an information war in the wake of Moscow’s announced breakthrough COVID-19 vaccine this week. The announcement of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya research institute with help from the Russian defense ministry and expected to be available to the Russian public by October almost immediately drew widespread scorn and mockery in the West based on allegations Russia is skipping large-scale clinical trials. One Russian official told CNBC this week the US is waging “major information warfare” against the possibility of a successful Russia-produced vaccine.

Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund – which is backing the Sputnik V vaccine – said in comments Wednesday, “It really divided the world into those countries that think it’s great news … and some of the U.S. media and some U.S. people who actually wage major information warfare on the Russian vaccine.” “We were not expecting anything else, we are not trying to convince the U.S. Our point to the world is that we have this technology, it can be available in your country in November/December if that works with your regulator … [while] people who are very skeptical will not have this vaccine and we wish them good luck in developing theirs,” he added.


Dmitriev claimed further that Russia does plan on sharing its data from the vaccine with the rest of the world, also at a moment World Health Organization officals said they wil move to review the COVID-19 vaccine candidate approved by Russian regulators on Tuesday. The WHO said it will require “a rigorous safety data review” before being available for use among citizens.

Read more …

Brilliant. Solves much of the loneliness problem, makes sure peole get books, keeps them in touch. It’s often in the little things that we find most value. Localize. Such approaches simply don’t work nationwide, unless you have a real small nation.

When COVID Closed The Library, Staff Called Every Member Over 70 (G.)

When Melbourne’s Yarra Plenty regional libraries first went into lockdown in March, shut the doors and left the remaining unborrowed books on their shelves, staff were sent home with a phone. “One of the hardest things about lockdown was people being separated from their community,” said Lisa Dempster, Yarra Plenty’s executive manager of public participation. “The library is often a hub for the community, and we identified the most vulnerable cohort of our community would be the elderly.” So the library staff pulled from their database the phone number of every library member over the age of 70 – a total of 8,000 records. Then the librarians started calling those members. All of them.


“We called them to say hi, see how they were doing, and then see if there was anything they needed help with, such as access to services, counselling support, tech help, that kind of thing. We would then refer them to a service that would help them,” said Dempster. “What we’ve found mostly is that people are really up for the chat and love getting that call from the librarian. Some calls go for five minutes and some go for half an hour or more.” Yarra Plenty’s “caring calls” are just one of the ways that libraries around the state have been servicing community needs since the onset of Covid-19 shutdowns. From fine amnesties, to boosting the prominence of digital offerings, to simply putting books in the post, libraries have drastically changed the way they operate to accommodate the massive social changes imposed by governments during the pandemic, often with heartwarming results.

Read more …

Gundlach was right: Biden WAS unelectable in March. But then a miracle happened.

Smart Money On Trump To Win In November, Stocks Could Crash – Gundlach (MW)

Joe Biden/Kamala Harris in 2020? Not so fast, according to DoubleLine Capital’s billionaire boss Jeffrey Gundlach, who predicted Donald Trump’s win the 2016 election. ‘Will Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in November? I don’t think so. I’d bet against that. I think the polls are very, very squishy because of the highly toxic political environment in which we live. That’s the so-called “Bond King,” sharing his thoughts on the upcoming election in a webcast this week for DoubleLine’s closed-end funds cited by Bloomberg News.


Harris, he said, won’t likely change that because she’s “a little too charismatic” and her personality “might be a little bit dominant.” Then again, Gundlach didn’t think Biden would win the Democratic nomination, having called him “unelectable” in March. Regardless, there are still “a lot of twists and turns” to come, he added. Biden is still the favorite, according to a RealClear Politics average showing a 7.3-point margin in the polls. His lead is narrower in key battleground states, where he’s up an average of 4.3 points. As for the market, he said he wouldn’t be surprised if stocks revisited their March lows, and, as Bloomberg reported, he forecast gold to keep moving higher.

Read more …

They want her voters, not her ideas. And people are surprised at that? Wake up! This thing lasts for 4 days, and she gets one minute of that. What will Kasich get, half an hour? Look at who’s in charge at the DNC. Same old same old.

AOC Only Gets 60 Seconds At DNC To Deliver Pre-Recorded Message (F.)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will only have one minute to speak at the Democratic National Convention next week, Business Insider first reported Wednesday, prompting complaints the party was out of touch with young voters. The DNC will air a 60 second pre-recorded message filmed by AOC in her home. The convention is being held virtually because of the coronavirus, and speakers include former first lady Michelle Obama, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who will deliver a live speech on Thursday, according to Business Insider. Other progressive leaders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are also slated to speak.


It’s unclear if any other speakers are subject to the same time limits [..] Some slammed the Democratic Party for being out-of-touch with young voters, especially considering AOC’s national profile. In addition to AOC’s minute, the DNC speaker lineup has been widely panned by left-leaning activists for including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, while not giving enough time to Latino, progressive and LGBT politicians. Former candidate Andrew Yang said he expected to speak and was disappointed he was not chosen.

Read more …

You need to buy just one vote, it must be unanimous.

Romney Blocks Sen. Ron Johnson From Subpoenaing Comey, Brennan (GP)

A Senior Republican Senate source has confirmed to Gateway Pundit that Senator Mitt Romney is leading an effort to block Senator Ron Johnson from subpoenaing James Comey and John Brennan. Johnson, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chair, said during a radio appearance on Wednesday that fellow Republicans were blocking him from subpoenaing the former FBI Director and former CIA Director, among other figures involved in the scandal. “We had a number of my committee members that were highly concerned about how this looks politically,” Johnson told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who pressed the Senator to name the Republicans blocking him. Johnson declined to name names.


Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports that Johnson’s committee said no one is blocking any subpoenas for Comey or Brennan, rather there’s just a desire to exhaust all options to get them to testify voluntarily. However, shortly after Johnson made his claims, a senate source reached out to Gateway Pundit and confirmed that Romney is leading the obstruction. “Romney was for impeachment. He has been against Trump every step of the way. Now he is obstructing going after the leakers and liars who went after Trump,” the senior senate source said. The obstruction claims come despite the fact that the committee gave him the unilateral power to subpoena people earlier this year.

Read more …

China doesn’t have a huge amount of dollars left.

China State-Run Banks Quietly Complying With Trump’s Hong Kong Sanctions (ZH)

On the surface, there is a non-stop tide of daily diplomatic drama and escalating jawboning between the US and China which – quite theatrically – will be at each other’s throat at least until the conclusion of the Nov 3 election. However, behind the scenes, one can discern just who has the upper hand. According to Bloomberg, China’s largest state-run banks operating in Hong Kong have taken “tentative steps” to comply with US sanctions imposed on officials in the city, seeking to safeguard their access to crucial dollar funding and overseas networks, and putting their financial future above their patriotic duty to defend questionable Hong Kongers who have fallen in the crossfire.

As a reminder, last week Trump sanctioned Chinese and Hong Kong officials including Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of China’s State Council, and Chris Tang, commissioner of the city’s police for their role in implementing a security law in Hong Kong. The officials will have property and assets in the U.S. frozen; they also will be increasingly frozen by their own financial institutions. China’s bank giants, most of which have operations in the U.S. including Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and China Merchants Bank have turned cautious on opening new accounts for the 11 recently sanctioned HK officials, including Lam, and at least one bank has suspended such activity. To avoid Trump’s ire, at some banks transactions via the U.S. are banned, while compliance must now review and sign off on others that would previously have been immediately processed, Bloomberg sources said.


At the same time, foreign banks operating in Hong Kong such as Citigroup have already taken aggressive steps to suspend accounts or are increasing scrutiny of Hong Kong clients. The quick capitulation by China’s biggest lenders once again underscores how Trump has weaponized the greenback and the ability of the U.S. to use the dollar’s dominance in international transactions as a critical pressure point in the standoff with China. And since China’s state-owned lenders need to preserve their access to global financial markets – with the Yuan years if not decades from even thinking about thinking about becoming a global reserve currency – they have quietly bent the knee to Trump to preserve dollar access at a time when Beijing has leaned on them to prop up the economy from the fallout of the coronavirus.

Read more …

WHen your business model falls apart as soon as you must pay decent wages.

Uber May Shut Down In California If Forced To Call Drivers Employees (V.)

Uber may shut down its operations in California, one of its largest markets in the US, if it is forced to classify drivers as employees, the company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on MSNBC Wednesday. Earlier this week, Uber and Lyft were ordered by a California superior court judge to classify their drivers as employees. At issue is the classification of ride-hailing drivers as independent contractors, which Uber and Lyft say most drivers prefer because of the flexibility and ability to set their own hours. But labor unions and elected officials contend this deprives them of traditional benefits like health insurance and workers’ compensation. Both companies have said they would appeal the ruling, which was stayed for 10 days.

But if their appeal fails, Uber may have to close up shop in California, Khosrowshahi said. “If the court doesn’t reconsider, then in California, it’s hard to believe we’ll be able to switch our model to full-time employment quickly,” he told MSNBC. In May, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with city attorneys of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, sued Uber and Lyft, arguing that their drivers were misclassified as independent contractors when they should be employees under the state’s AB5 law that went into effect on January 1st. Becerra later filed a motion for a preliminary injunction that could compel the ride-hailing companies to classify drivers as employees immediately. AB5, which was signed into law last September, enshrines the so-called “ABC test” to determine if someone is a contractor or an employee.


In his ruling in favor of Becerra’s preliminary injunction, Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman said Uber and Lyft’s arguments — that drivers’ work is outside the companies’ usual course of business — “flies in the face of economic reality and common sense.”

Read more …

There are valid reasons to investigate 5G, and when the Pentagon surrenders bandwidth at record speed, there are even more such reasons. It’s being treated the same way as glyphosate currently, with people saying there’s no evidence of harm. No, that comes later, which is why you need research now. Precautionary principle.

And no, comments like this don’t help: “Those are precisely the frequencies they used to pull in the ‘virus’ from outer space ! And now they’re selling them off to cover it all up! Or maybe they’ve embedded even worse viruses IN THOSE WAVELENGTHS & will now use apps to infect EVERYONE IN THE WORLD “

Pentagon Gives Up Huge Slice Of Spectrum For 5G (BD)

After a remarkably fast interagency review, the White House today announced a massive transfer of electromagnetic spectrum from military use to commercial 5G. It will be the “fastest transfer of federal spectrum to commercial use in history,” US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios told reporters proudly this afternoon. But, Kratsios and Pentagon CIO Dana Deasy assured reporters ahead of the announcement, the rush won’t compromise military readiness or operations. The 100 megahertz of spectrum runs from 3450 MHz to 3550, so-called mid-band frequencies prized by 5G developers because they allow longer-ranged transmissions than the millimeter-wave spectrum that makes up most of what’s been available in the US so far.

Kratsios and other officials told reporters shortly before this afternoon’s announcement that the move would dramatically expand 5G access for all Americans – fulling a congressional mandate in the 2018 MOBILE NOW Act – and strengthen potential competitors to Chinese giant Huawei in the global market. Currently, Deasy said, “the 3450-3550 mHZ band supports critical DoD radar operations, including high-powered defense radar systems on fixed, mobile, shipboard, and airborne platforms, [including] air defense, missile and gun fire control, counter mortar, bomb scoring [during training exercises], battlefield weapon locations, air traffic control, and range safety.” That’s a wide range of military functions, many with life-or-death significance for either training safety or outright combat. Deasy and other officials didn’t detail how the Defense Department would work this massive transfer.


Their remarks, however, suggested a mix of migrating military radars to other frequencies – a complex and costly process typically funded from a share of the FCC auction – and sharing frequencies with commercial users in specific times and places. The White House formally made the request in April. Roughly 200 technical experts from all four armed services, the Office of Secretary of Defense, and the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy studied the problem for 15 weeks. The FCC, which has already endorsed the plan, will start auctioning the spectrum off in December 2021, Kratsios said, with commercial use beginning “as soon as mid-2022.” That’s as fast as the transfer can possibly go through the FCC’s public rule-making process, officials said. Historically transferring spectrum takes six years or more. ““The timeline that we’re working with is absolutely unprecedented,” one senior administration official told reporters, “and I cannot underscore that enough.”

Read more …

I like the line of thinking. Ideas that once were mainstream start to look crazy.

We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough (CP)

Bloodletting was a common medical treatment for nearly 3,000 years. It developed around an idea, originating with Hippocrates and later wildly popular in Europe of the Middle Ages: that an imbalance of the four humours of the body – blood, phlegm, black bile, yellow bile – caused illness. Around 500 years after Hippocrates, Galen declared blood to be the most important humour. These and other ideas driven by surgical experimentation and, often, superstition, led to bleeding the body, ridding it of bad blood, if you like, to save the patient. Leeches were used for bloodletting, including the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis. We will never know how many people lost their lives across 3,000 years to this treatment, how many humans turned corpses, bled to death by the medico-ideological delusions of their doctors.

We do know that King Charles II of England had some 24 ounces of blood taken from him before he died. George Washington’s three doctors drained him of copious amounts of blood (on his own request) to cure him of a throat infection – he died soon after. Covid-19 has given us a brilliant, thorough autopsy of neoliberalism, indeed of capitalism itself. The corpse is on the table, in glaring light, every vein, artery, organ and bone staring us in the face. You can see all the leeches – privatisation, corporate globalism, extreme concentration of wealth, levels of inequality unseen in living memory. The bloodletting approach to social and economic ills that has seen societies drain working people of the basics of decent and dignified human existence.

The 3,000-year-old medical practice reached its peak in Europe in the 19th century. Its discrediting came only with the late 19th and 20th centuries – but the doctrine and practice are still dominant in the disciplines of economics, philosophy, business and society. Some of the most powerful social and economic doctors around the corpse before us, analyse it much the way doctors in say, medieval Europe, did. As the late Alexander Cockburn, founder editor of CounterPunch, once said, when the Middle Ages medicos lost their patient, they probably shook their heads sadly and said: “We didn’t bleed him enough.” Precisely as the World Bank and the IMF have whined for decades that the horrific damage of their shock and awe treatment, of sometimes near-genocidal structural adjustment – was not because their ‘reforms’ went too far, but because their reforms, alas, did not go far enough, indeed were not allowed to, by the rowdy and great unwashed.


Inequality, the ideologically insane argued, was not such a dreadful thing. It promoted competitiveness and individual initiative. And we needed more of those. Inequality is now central to any debate we have on the future of humanity. The rulers know this. For over 20 years now, they’ve been savaging the suggestion that inequality has anything to do with humanity’s problems. Early this millennium, the Brookings Institute warned against this debilitating discussion on inequality. Less than 90 days before Covid-19 swept the world, The Economist magazine, neoliberalism’s Oracle of Delphi, read the chicken entrails before it and ran a bitter cover story: “Inequality Illusions: Why wealth and income gaps are not what they appear.” Could turn out the most famous last words since Tarzan’s – “who greased the grapevine?”

Read more …

 

 

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Aug 102020
 


Cy Twombly Fifty Days at Iliam: Like a Fire that Consumes All before It 1978

 

 

Might as well call it a social experiment. Any other name, like “coup” or “fishing expedition” or “hookers peeing on a bed” or “justice being done” would just inflame “passions” and lead away from what should be the actual topic.

Whatever you call it, the fact remains that Donald Trump has been the first US president to be under continued investigation for the entire 4 years of his first term, and for about a year before it as well. And that should be a cause for alarm for anyone who cares even a little bit about the American political system, including those who abhor Trump. Because once you do that, it’s no longer about just one president, it’s about all who will follow him, and inevitably about the integrity and validity of the system as a whole.

In principle, there should be no investigations of a sitting president, and not even of a presidential candidate, because this risks endangering 1) the entire electoral process, and 2) the Office of the President (not for once, but for ever). In principle. If there must be an investigation, it must be based on solid evidence available beforehand, it must be short, and the President must be removed. If all of these three things are not guaranteed, no investigation is warranted, and the accusing parties should be “liberated” from the positions they held when they initiated the investigation regardless. Skin in the game.

 

 

It gets increasingly harder to write about American politics, or express an opinion in any other way, without being dumped into one of two camps, never to be heard from again in the other (except for ridicule or slander). There is no such thing as a neutral or objective viewpoint anymore. You’re either with us or you’re against us – or them.

Seeing -and projecting- the world in black and white is a tempting proposal for anyone afraid of being confused; it should, however, never be an excuse for the media to not present its viewers and readers with a full color palette. But we can see every single day how that went. Black and white it is. And in that environment, too claustrophobic to be put in a box, I might as well paint the picture as I see it. Yes, in color.

 

The “social experiment” I see progressing has two parts:

1) can a political party, aided and abetted by the media and intelligence services, unseat an elected president it has just lost an election to?

2) can a presidential candidate be elected while shunning the media, debates, etc., and only appear at times and in forms that have been pre-selected by her/his handlers for maximum effect, while hiding his/her weaknesses?

 

As for no. 1, it has evidently not succeeded, but that is certainly not for lack of trying. One investigation has followed the other non-stop since 2016, in public and behind the scenes, and they have all come up empty. Of course one side would contest that and still say there was lots of evidence, but if so, it obviously wasn’t very strong, or Trump would have been gone.

People may also claim that the mandate of the Mueller investigation was too narrow, but really, go back and watch the man’s pathetic (sorry, but it was) testimony in Congress after the fact, that should be enough. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler and others have promised solid and inconvertible evidence many times, but we never saw any. Rest assured, whatever Trump may have done wrong, you would have heard about it by now.

Or to put it another way: he probably did many things wrong, but not the things he was accused of. In fact, the entire Putin puppet narrative is so idiotic it’s impossible not to ponder from time to time that it was designed from the get-go to support Trump, not hurt him.

As for no. 2, that looks even more experimental. The approach is helped along “wonderfully” by the pandemic, which provides plenty excuses to keep Biden hidden, but it goes against everything presidential campaigns have been built upon throughout American history: contact with voters. That very few people would believe Biden is his own man, and not a sock puppet, can’t help.

But there is more at stake. Presidential campaigns are one element of a much bigger process, and you can’t separate the two. Both parts of the “social experiment” seem to run afoul of the respect that bigger process, and ultimately the entire political system, necessarily demands from all participants, from an individual voter to a President. And that is much more important than either candidate. You can’t temporarily switch off that respect if and when that might suit your purpose, because you risk for it never to be switched on again.

 

You may dislike a presidential candidate, perhaps even intensely so, but that should never make you lose sight of the integrity, if not the sacredness, of the election process, of the political system, of the institutions, of the Constitution, and certainly not of the Office of the President of the United States. Because once you do that, you open the door for everyone to do the same in the future. And no, you can’t blame that on the candidate you don’t like, you do it.

When a candidate is selected through the primaries of his/her party, you must respect that, because if you don’t respect the process, you are lost, the system is lost, and there’s no telling when you’ll see it back, if ever. If that candidate is then elected President, a lot of doors that before allowed you to question and criticize him/her, should be closed. The country at that point has either a new President, or a second-term one. A different phase of the political process starts.

The House and the Senate become the critics, empowered by the system to hold the President accountable. But only the House and the Senate. Not the media, whose role it is, other than in the occasional opinion piece, to report on decisions made; not intelligence services, whose role it is to serve the country, and the new President it just elected; and not the opposition party, whose role it is to prepare for the next election, and to provide a degree of counterbalance, depending on how bad their loss was, on Capitol Hill.

The entire picture is crystal clear. So is everybody’s role in it. But now and then people -try to- refuse to accept their roles, obviously believing that they are more important than the integrity of the political system, and ignoring that in doing so they put the whole system at risk.

 

What was happening first became apparent in late 2015 – early 2016, when the New York Times began running multiple stories every day directed against Donald Trump. Mostly small bits, based on innuendo about his past, with a whiff of truth perhaps, but not more. The word “gratuitous” comes to mind. At a certain point, they did a dozen per day of the stories, it became assembly line work for the writers and editors..

The Washington Post chimed in, and so did CNN, MSNBC and others, including international press. It turned into a feeding frenzy, with all of them completely losing sight, voluntarily or not, of their roles as news providers. They all shape-shifted into opinion-only-makers, confident that their audience would not notice the difference, at least not at first. At that point it became a very Pavlovian thing.

Which is why I was initially going to name this essay “Trump vs Pavlov”. 100+ years ago, Ivan Pavlov “found” that if he rang a bell in front of a dog, and then gave her food, she would start to associate the two. When he increased the time-lapse between first, the bell, and then, the food, the dog would salivate in expectation of food at just the sound of the bell. In the end, all he had to do was ring the bell, with no food around, and the dog would salivate. So he had nothing to offer, no food, no substance, but the reaction was the same.

That is a very accurate description of what a large part of the US media have done -and become-. All they have to do at this point is mention Trump, or just show his picture, and their public will react the same every single time: Orange Man Bad. There doesn’t have to be any substance, any factual journalistic reports of wrongdoing. The “conditioned reflex” as Pavlov described it, has set in.

And their readers and viewers have become addicted to this. How could they not? They’ve been bombarded with 1000s of these bells ringing, and the substance may not be there, but the expectation of it is. If you’re a regular viewer of Rachel Maddow, what are the odds that your opinion is still your own after hearing RussiaRussia a million times? The only way it could be yours is if you switch her off.

I’ve written before that I don’t even think they really set out to do this. Initially, there were probably just some CEOs and owners and editors who didn’t like Trump and/or were affiliated in one way or another with the other party -and later candidate-. Who was counted on to win big anyway, so why not (well, because of the integrity of the political system!).

It was only later that they found out 24/7 anti-Trump “reporting” was a great business model for them. CNN was dying in early 2016, the New York Times was nor far behind, and all of a sudden numbers of viewers and readers and subscribers went through the roof.

Their problem is that if they succeed in making Trump lose in November, they will be back to where they came from before he appeared on the political scene. All of their “reporting” on US politics has devolved into a scheme based on ringing a bell, and on the scandal and anger their non-stop salivating audience have become addicted to, and mistake for substance.

If Joe Biden should win, that scheme is dead. They may hope to last a bit longer on the angry scandal of a possible persecution of Trump if he leaves office, but that would be it, and that’s not a business model. They can’t very well now turn on Biden and his puppeteers.

New York Times writer and editor Bari Weiss said it very well when she left the paper a few weeks ago, she summarized the essence of the MSM problem in just a few words:

“[..] the lessons that ought to have followed the election – lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else”.


Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world?

 

That’s the media. Second in line is US intelligence. Which, there’s no other way to put it, conspired against a presidential candidate and, when he was elected, a sitting president. The Strzok-Page “insurance policy”, the Obama Oval Office conversations where Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Susan Rice were present, plus 1,000 other things, the overall picture doesn’t exactly point to that famous seamless transition, and US Intel played a pivotal, because accommodating, role in that.

The best way to show this is perhaps that US intelligence themselves did not (could not) come up with a report on alleged links between the -prospective- president’s team and Russia, but took a dossier paid for by the president’s opposition and used it to discredit and persecute him and people in his team. The dossier was written by a two-bit MI6 hustler who hadn’t set foot in Russia in at least a decade, and whose main ‘Russian source’ wasn’t there either, but sitting in an office in the US.

That source in turn had contacts with a group of Russians whose very business model it was to make up and embellish whatever stories the highest bidder required, while failing to deal with their own severe drinking problems. That dossier was the entire foundation (or 99% of it) behind Rod Rosenstein appointing Bob Mueller as a Special Counsel. The appointment would never have been made, never have been possible, without the Steele dossier.

 

How was the dossier vetted by US intelligence, if at all? It’s very clear now what was wrong with it, but the all knowing and very clever intelligence people could not have figured that out 4 years ago, and instead cleared it for Mueller, for further FBI use, for FISA applications? How about their treatment of Michael Flynn, who they had already cleared only to resurrect the dead corpse of their investigation into his talks with Russian ambassador Kislyak? How would you, personally, spell “in good faith”?

We will see in the near future what the Durham investigation into all Russiagate players will come to. Apparently, Durham has just another three weeks to present at least something, because there is a two-month “no-go-zone” before the election, during which he would be accused of tampering with the election. And the premise for the Democrats and their sympathizers is that if Biden wins, all slates will be wiped clean.

They won’t, by the way. America still has a justice system, even if it is oftentimes crippled and grinding(ly) slow. Just watch Michael Flynn attorney Sidney Powell and her team. They have vowed to not only have their client be exonerated, but to fully clear his name, which according to their view has been besmirched by everyone up to and including Joe Biden and Barack Obama.

 

The third leg of the “creature” is the Democratic party. Who have stepped so far over their boundaries, nobody recognizes anymore that there were any. Or that the political system they are an integral part of, dictates that there are things they cannot do, lest they corrupt that system to the core.

Once you lose a presidential election, you prepare for the next one. You don’t use the next 4 years to try and frustrate the president you just lost to with all you got. The system should not allow it and can not tolerate it. There should be skin in the game for opposition politicians, who when they come with accusations of gross misconduct serious enough to remove a president, should be forced to step down when the accusations don’t lead to the intended result.

It should never be a free for all, in which you can simply try again the next morning. Because the system cannot work if that is possible. It can’t be that if you win a midterm election and get a majority in the House, you can then use that majority to make it impossible for a president to work on the agenda that made millions vote for him/her. That would cause the system to grind to a halt, and the system must always be more important than its temporary participants (even those who “sit” for 40-50 years).

When you look at the speaker’s list for the Democrat -non- convention next week where Joe Biden will be confirmed as their -virtual- candidate, you see that other than AOC, it’s just a long list of the same old people who were already there when they lost in 2016, and co-losers Hillary and Obama still have a very tight grip on the power and the purse strings.

Why they stick with Joe Biden, g-d only knows, and the same goes for whichever highly unpopular black woman they pick as VP who could soon be president. And sorry, but they all are. Kamala Harris was among the first to step down during the primaries because she didn’t get any votes. Susan Rice is not exactly “loved by the people” either, and the rest are no-names, except for Warren, but she’s both too left and much too white.

So you’re thinking: what’s going on there? That’s really the best you can do? But it does seem to be, likely because Barackillary have a small group of confidantes to choose from who they themselves are confident will be willing to cede all actual power to them once elected. And if Harris and Rice don’t get picked as VP, they’ll still exert a lot of power.

As will Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler, there’s more new blood at Madame Tussaud’s than at the upper echelons of the Democratic party. Yes, AOC can come in to represent the squad in a cynical move (no power but brings in lots of votes), but that’s it. For the rest it’s still just the broken left wing of the war party. But you’re right, they’re none of them, Trump. And that at the same time is the sole identity they possess.

 

Anti-Trumpism has become a political religion. Because Trump is the only topic that attracts clickbait and viewers. The only topic that rings a bell. Joe Biden rings no bells whatsoever. A while back Donald Trump jr tweeted:

Trump is really running against the media, Silicon Valley, the establishment, the swamp, Hollywood and maybe Joe Biden.

While investor GreekFire23 did even better:

Trump is running against himself in this election. The vote will come down to those who love him vs those who hate him. Biden is totally irrelevant and not even campaigning. Biden has no platform, no slogan, no stickers, no signs, no rallies, no followers. It’s Trump vs Trump.

What can still sink Trump is obvious: it’s the economy and the pandemic. America’s problem is that no matter who wins, those will still be its main problems by January 2021. And another problem has been added in the course of 2020: protests and violence in the streets.

 

Update: I thought I could leave it at that for now, step out for a moment, have a glass of wine, let it all sink in, and write a closing paragraph. But then I was sitting outside in gorgeous Athens and this popped up, which I very obviously can’t leave out:

Senate Chairman Subpoenas FBI Director Wray For Russiagate Records; Puts Bidens On Notice

FBI Director Christopher Wray has been subpoenaed by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to produce “all documents related to the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation,” which includes “all records provided or made available to the Inspector General” regarding the FISA probe, as well as documents regarding the 2016-2017 presidential transition..

[..] The subpoena was issued by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) as part of his investigation into the origins of Russiagate. It gives Wray until 5 p.m. on Aug. 20 to produce the documents. Johnson also released a lengthy letter on Monday in which he defended his Committee’s investigation and accused Democrats of initiating “a coordinated disinformation campaign and effort to personally attack” himself and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in order to distract from evidence his committee has gathered on Joe and Hunter Biden’s Ukraine dealings.

[..] Johnson’s committee has secured testimony from at least one State Department official who worked in Ukraine, and says the Bidens’ conduct created the appearance of a conflict of interest. “The appearance of family profiteering off of Vice President Biden’s official responsibilities is not unique to the circumstances involving Ukraine and Burisma,” wrote Johnson. “Public reporting has also shown Hunter Biden following his father into China and coincidentally landing lucrative business deals and investments there.

“Additionally, the former vice president’s brothers and sister-in-law, Frank, James and Sara Biden, also are reported to have benefited financially from his work as well.

I can’t let that go because it addresses exactly what my closing paragraph would have been about. Which is the risk of the giant divide that has developed in US society, getting even wider, and potentially leading to utter mayhem. Actually, it’s not even ‘potentially’ anymore, there already has been a lot of violence.

The Democrats think they will win easily on November 3, and then push through all of their their policies, after dumping on Trump for 4 years with their media and intelligence friends, but the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump, and most of their family and friends with them, don’t think so. That’s not a threat, it’s an observation.

They feel cheated out of their 2016 victory. They realize (or should I say “suspect”) that Russiagate and the Mueller probe and the Zelensky-linked impeachment “hearings” were empty vessels directed against the election outcome that they won fair and square, and I guarantee you they won’t take it sitting down.

Which means that no matter who wins, polarization will reach levels America has never seen, and, frankly, should never wish to. Because all of the people involved, bar just a precious few, will have to live together in the same country, and share the same society, streets, highways, stores and resources.

And sometimes I wonder: how are they going to do that? If Trump should win, how will the entire so-called left react, from the Democrats through the MSM to BLM? Will they just increase the protests and the violence in the streets?

Alternatively, if Joe Biden wins, how will the Conservative side of America react? Will they all go home and wait for what the DNC has in store for them, or will their reaction be pro-active? I know which reaction I would see them lean towards.

You have these two sides in society who appear further apart than even Moses could have hoped to bring back together again, you have the media who thrive on widening that divide even further, it’s a scary picture.

 

And in the meantime, while everyone’s busy blaming each other, who’s going to take care of the country?

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the publishing process. Which seems only fair and just.

Thank you.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Aug 082020
 


Alfred Palmer Annette del Sur in salvage campaign, Douglas Aircraft Co., Long Beach, CA 1942

 

55% Of COVID Patients Still Have Neurological Problems 3 Months Later (MW)
US Intel: China Opposes Trump Reelection; Russia Works Against Biden (NPR)
US Officials Now Worry About Election Logistics More Than Hacking (R.)
Trump Tees Up Executive Orders On Economy But Won’t Sign Yet (Hill)
Can An Airline Put You On A No-Fly List For Refusing To Mask Up? (NPR)
The WeChat Ban (China Collection)
China Allows First Commercial Bank To Go Bankrupt (Xinhua)
Democratic Convention Lineup To Include AOC, Clinton, Warren (Hill)
Dems VP Candidate Susan Rice Made a Lot of Money in Fossil Fuels (Jacobin)
Billionaires That Donated to Gates-Buffet Pledge Now Richer Than Ever (MPN)
Things Going By (Jim Kunstler)
Your Bones Are Made Out of Exploded Stars (Fut.)
Dow Skyrockets After Coronavirus Begins Trading On NYSE (Onion)

 

 

US “intelligence” is at it again. Russia, China, Iran are all spying, but they take care of us. Now fork over more money for your security. Has there ever been a bigger scam in history?

 

 

Can we get those numbers down please?! All of them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At first I thought this was a parody account.

Adam, we’re stil waiting for all the evidence you said you had time and again of collusion. Why not show us that and then after maybe open your mouth again. It’s to do with credibility.

 

 

What happens when a large segment of them have this for life? What are the costs to them, to society, and to the health care system?

55% Of COVID Patients Still Have Neurological Problems 3 Months Later (MW)

Could the coronavirus lead to chronic illness? While lung scarring, heart and kidney damage may result from COVID-19, doctors and researchers are starting to clock the potential long-term impact of the virus on the brain also. Younger COVID-19 patients who were otherwise healthy are suffering blood clots and strokes. And many “long-haulers,” or COVID-19 patients who have continued showing symptoms for months after the initial infection passed, report neurological problems such as confusion and difficulty concentrating (or brain fog), as well as headaches, extreme fatigue, mood changes, insomnia and loss of taste and/or smell.= Indeed, the CDC recently warned that it takes longer to recover from COVID-19 than the 10- to 14-day quarantine window that has been touted throughout the pandemic.

In fact, one in five young adults under 34 was not back to their usual health up to three weeks after testing positive. And 35% of surveyed U.S. adults overall had not returned to their normal state of health when interviewed two to three weeks after testing. Now a study of 60 COVID-19 patients published in Lancet this week finds that 55% of them were still displaying such neurological symptoms during follow-up visits three months later. And when doctors compared brain scans of these 60 COVID patients with those of a control group who had not been infected, they found that the brains of the COVID patients showed structural changes that correlated with memory loss and smell loss.

And that’s not exclusive to adults. A case study published in JAMA Neurology in June highlighted four U.K. children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a severe and potentially fatal condition that appears to be linked to COVID-19. These children developed neurological manifestations such as headaches, muscle weakness, confusion and disorientation. While two of the kids recovered, the other two continued to show symptoms, including muscle weakness so severe that they needed a wheelchair.

Read more …

The US pays huge salaries to its various intelligence agencies so they can make up stories from whole cloth that can then be used to argue that we must spend more money on intelligence.

This is so incredibly vapid it’s hard to see why people don’t tell them to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

“2020 will be the most protected and most secure election in modern history…” Yeah, just not from you…

US Intel: China Opposes Trump Reelection; Russia Works Against Biden (NPR)

The top counterintelligence official in the U.S. government warned Friday of ongoing interference and influence efforts by China, Russia and Iran. William Evanina, who leads the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said that the U.S. government has assessed that China prefers President Trump losing the election, because Beijing considers him “unpredictable,” while Russia is working to undermine Democrat Joe Biden. “Ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections, foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process,” Evanina said.

In discussing tactics, Evanina noted that the countries could try to compromise election equipment either to affect results or give the illusion of tampered results, but he did not say that such activities have been observed. China has grown more aggressive in recent months, criticizing the U.S. response to the coronavirus, although Evanina noted that Beijing continues to weigh the “risks and benefits of aggressive action” when it comes to influencing the election. Russia, however, has been observed using a number of tactics, including spreading propaganda on social media and Russian television, to denigrate Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee.

Iran also seeks to spread disinformation online, with the intent to undermine U.S. institutions and Trump, and to divide the country ahead of the election, according to Evanina. The statement did not refer to any specific cyberattack attempts on the part of any of the three countries in the style of Russia in 2016. And Evanina noted that it would be difficult, due to the disparate nature of America’s election infrastructure, to affect vote tallying at scale. Similarly, Chris Krebs, the Department of Homeland Security’s top cybersecurity official, said in a speech this week that his team had seen “nothing at the directed, focused level of 2016.” The year “2020 will be the most protected and most secure election in modern history,” Krebs said.

In a joint statement, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who leads the House Intelligence Committee, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said the disclosure was a good step toward more transparency, but they expressed frustration at how Evanina lumped the countries’ actions together. Instead, the lawmakers said, intelligence officials should share more specific information to “allow voters to appraise for themselves the respective threats posed by these foreign actors, and distinguish these actors’ different and unequal aims, current actions, and capabilities.” “Unfortunately, today’s statement still treats three actors of differing intent and capability as equal threats to our democratic elections,” the lawmakers said.

In a statement, Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the president’s reelection campaign, said: “We don’t need or want foreign interference, and President Trump will beat Joe Biden fair and square.” In a separate statement, Tony Blinken, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, said: “Joe Biden … has led the fight against foreign interference for years, and has refused to accept any foreign materials intended to help him in this election — something that Donald Trump and his campaign have repeatedly failed to do.”

Read more …

More pushing for mail-in ballots.

US Officials Now Worry About Election Logistics More Than Hacking (R.)

In a reversal from a few years ago, many officials who oversee U.S. election technology and outside security experts now worry less about hacking in the November elections than about misinformation and logistics such as a shortage of poll workers and slowdowns at the U.S. postal service. Though most computerized voting systems can be hacked, some undetectably, more states have moved away from paperless balloting and more vendors are listening to warnings about software flaws, longtime specialists told the annual Black Hat and Def Con security conferences this week. “We finally know how to do this well,” Georgetown University professor Matt Blaze said in a keynote at Black Hat, held online this year because of the pandemic.

In addition, the sheer number of jurisdictions and varied versions of software would make fraud with a national impact impractical, officials said. On Friday, the U.S. head of counterintelligence, William Evanina, said publicly that while Russia, China and Iran might all act to interfere in the election, substantial vote changes were a low risk. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the intelligence committee, said at Def Con he remained concerned about electronic pollbooks that could malfunction and internet voting by armed forces overseas. But Blaze and others said they were mainly worried that many localities do not have enough funding for election-day workers to handle in-person votes under pandemic conditions, with possible protests and disruptions, at the same time as they plan for a record number of mailed ballots.

Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said people should vote as early as possible and prepare for delayed election results. Any delay is likely to be fertile ground for misinformation both foreign and domestic, others warned. A Def Con panel including Kimber Dowsett, director of security engineering at Truss, said instead of flagging new voting machine flaws to an already cynical public, researchers should talk to Krebs’ agency and the vendors and hope for the best.

Read more …

There will be no agreement.

Trump Tees Up Executive Orders On Economy But Won’t Sign Yet (Hill)

President Trump said Friday that he is prepared to act unilaterally to reinstate expanded unemployment benefits and suspend the payroll tax due to the coronavirus, but signaled he wouldn’t do so immediately. Trump told reporters that his administration is working “in good faith” to reach an agreement on the next stimulus package with Democratic leaders, before lambasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for seeking funding for states and cities that he said have been mismanaged by Democratic politicians. “If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need,” Trump said during a hastily scheduled news conference at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on Friday evening.


Trump said he is prepared to take four actions without Congress: defer the payroll tax until the end of the year; enhance unemployment benefits until the end of the year; defer student loan payments and forgive interest indefinitely; and reinstate a federal moratorium on evictions. Asked for a timeline, Trump said he could act as soon as the end of the week. The president also insisted he has the legal authority to take the actions unilaterally, despite doubts about his ability to do so. Trump also acknowledged that the moves were likely to invite legal challenges. “You always get sued,” Trump said. “We’ll probably get sued.”

Read more …

Yes, they’re private companies. You buy a ticket under their conditions.

Can An Airline Put You On A No-Fly List For Refusing To Mask Up? (NPR)

Early this week, Delta Air Lines made news after a plane headed to Atlanta circled back to its gate in Detroit, delaying takeoff. The crew was returning to expel two passengers who had been unwilling to follow a new but quintessential coronavirus rule. They had refused to don masks. That transgression is the latest addition to a bevy of infractions that can get you booted from an aircraft — even before contagion racked our world. Those no-nos vary wildly in severity and how often they’re enforced, but the theoretical gamut is wide: from a joke about, say, hijacking, to smoking a cigarette … all the way to more serious acts like transporting illegal contraband like guns or drugs.

[..] When it comes to the new rules for the novel coronavirus, airlines like Delta are taking them very seriously. So far, the carrier has banned 100 anti-maskers from taking their flights and gone a step further by adding them to a “no fly” list. Delta says its strict policies about masking are part of an effort to promote best public health practices and safety amid the pandemic. In a statement provided to NPR, Delta wrote: “Medical research tells us that wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate.” The airline “remains committed to requiring customers and employees to wear a mask or face covering as a consistent layer of protection across all Delta touchpoints.”

And it’s not just Delta. All major U.S. airlines now require passengers to wear face coverings — a dramatic change to plane etiquette. Children under age 2 and slightly older children who cannot maintain a face covering are exempt from the requirement on Delta and other airlines. Adults are generally permitted to remove a mask only when eating or drinking, though policy varies. Though the scientific consensus is clear and strong that masks are critical in stemming the spread of the virus, some consumers feel aggrieved by what they consider an attack on personal freedom. But according to aviation, health and legal experts, such outrage ignores a few fundamentals: In entering into agreements (read: contracts) with airline carriers (by purchasing a ticket), you’re required to adhere to their policies. And that pretty much ends the matter.

In other words, Delta’s no-fly list is perfectly within its scope of rights, experts stress. The legal reasoning is pretty straightforward, says Sharona Hoffman, co-director of Case Western Reserve University’s Law-Medicine Center. She puts it simply: “They’re a private business, and private businesses can have rules.”

Read more …

What I said yesterday, but in more words.

The WeChat Ban (China Collection)

The ban on WeChat will not cut people in the US off from their friends and family in China. They communicated before WeChat existed and will continue to do so if it’s banned. There are many quite serviceable alternatives. And who exactly is bigger in the banning business, anyway? I’m seeing a lot of what seem to me to be overwrought reactions to the WeChat ban on my Twitter feed. For example, when the ban was first mooted by Pompeo, Stuart Lau of the South China Morning Post tweeted that if it went through, “countless Chinese people who live in the US could be cut off from their friends and families in China, where WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger is banned.” Two points:

First, can we please remember that before WeChat existed, people somehow managed to communicate between the US and China, and it wasn’t difficult? At this very moment, there are a number of ways that it can be done: telephone calls, text messages, email, WhatsApp, Signal, and let’s not forget QQ, another TenCent app that does basically everything WeChat does in terms of communication, and used to be widely used in China before it was supplanted by WeChat. So before you tell me that people won’t be able to communicate with friends and family in China any more, you need to explain (a) why what they did before WeChat won’t work any more, and (b) why none of the communications methods I’ve mentioned above won’t work any more. I get that WeChat has many convenient functions and a great interface that people like. That’s why it’s been so successful. But come on, people: the idea that banning it cuts off communication between people in the US and China is silly.

Second, let’s suppose for the sake of argument (but only for the sake of argument) that banning WeChat did indeed seriously impinge on the ability of people to communicate between the US and China. Where does the fault lie, causally speaking? To figure that out we need to ask why alternatives are not available, and who is responsible for that. Two alternatives are (as the Stuart Lau post notes) Whats App and Facebook Messenger. There is also Line, a communications app that is widely used in Japan and Taiwan, with over 700 million users worldwide by 2017, according to the Wikipedia entry. But they are all banned in China. So it is a bit hard to say that it is the ban on WeChat that is making communications difficult. The Chinese government is the one that is actively in the banning business, and they’ve got a big head start on the Trump administration.

Read more …

Amidst the first (re-appearing) rumors of dollar shortages in the country.

China Allows First Commercial Bank To Go Bankrupt (Xinhua)

China’s central bank has announced that the disposal of risks concerning the troubled Baoshang Bank will be completed soon, and the bank will file for bankruptcy. Equity and unsecured claims from its original shareholders will be liquidated by law, according to a report released by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Thursday. The PBOC and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission took over the Inner Mongolia-based commercial bank in May last year due to its “serious credit risks.”


With capital from deposit insurance funds and the PBOC, principal and interest on personal savings deposits, and those of most institutional creditors, are guaranteed the full amount, while large corporate deposits are guaranteed an average level of 90 percent, the report said. After the takeover, the PBOC arranged for 23.5 billion yuan (about 3.39 billion U.S. dollars) in a standing lending facility (SLF) quota for Baoshang Bank on the premise of enough high-quality collateral.

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Apart from AOC, it’s the same old same old crowd that lost bigly in 2016. Most of them are way past retirement age in any other job. But the lust for power is eternal.

And who do you think they’re going to talk about most?

Democratic Convention Lineup To Include AOC, Clinton, Warren (Hill)

The speaking lineup for this month’s Democratic National Convention is beginning to take form, with several high-profile Democrats securing spots. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a progressive superstar, is expected to have some sort of speaking slot, a House member told Politico, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will also speak, according to Axios. Warren and Clinton are reportedly slated to speak on Aug. 19, the day before former Vice President Joe Biden will formally accept the 2020 Democratic nomination. Other Democrats expected to have speaking slots are Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Barack and Michelle Obama.


Both Warren and Harris are known to be on Biden’s shortlist to be his running mate. Neither the Democratic National Committee nor the convention immediately responded to requests for comment from The Hill. The convention has largely been relegated to digital events so participants can observe social distancing and other health guidance during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Biden was originally slated to deliver his acceptance speech from Milwaukee, but will now do so virtually from Delaware, his home state.

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Just another multi-millionaire who raked in fortunes while providing “public service”.

Dems VP Candidate Susan Rice Made a Lot of Money in Fossil Fuels (Jacobin)

Former national security adviser Susan Rice, reportedly one of two finalists in Joe Biden’s vice presidential search, had millions invested in fossil fuels and energy companies as recently as 2015. The revelations come as Biden has faced renewed questions about his commitment to environmental policies that would combat climate change. A financial disclosure form obtained by Too Much Information reveals that Rice had investments in at least five such companies, including as much as $100,000 in TransCanada, which is behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Rice also had over $1 million invested in pipeline firm Enbridge as well as more than $2 million split between fossil fuel companies Cenovus, Encana, and Imperial Oil — all companies with significant involvement in developing the tar sands of Alberta.

The investments netted as much as $237,000 in dividends that year. In addition, Rice reported significant holdings in Canadian banks which fund pipeline projects, according to the disclosure. A veteran of multiple Democratic administrations, Rice has a traditionally impressive resume on paper. She worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Co. before serving as assistant secretary of state for African affairs under Bill Clinton, UN ambassador under Barack Obama, and national security adviser. But her record has made her a controversial candidate for VP. Pledged delegates for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have urged Biden to avoid naming her to the ticket, and have also urged him to remove a number of other foreign policy hawks from his team. Among other things, the delegates cited her past support for military intervention in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

On Friday, environmental advocates criticized Rice’s past fossil fuel investments in a Politico report. In 2012, when Rice was a candidate to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, environmentalists took aim at her for the holdings, even circulating a petition urging Obama not to select her. Even then, Rice, whose net worth with her husband was estimated to be between $23.5 million and $43.5 million, had significant investments in Canadian energy interests, including as much as $600,000 in TransCanada. She also owned stock in Enbridge, Encana, Cenovus, and Suncor, along with other fossil fuel companies like Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy, Royal Dutch Shell, Iberdrola, ATP Oil & Gas Corp., and energy utility TransAlta. Rice would hardly be the first person with fossil fuel ties that Biden has brought onboard this cycle. Biden’s climate adviser, Heather Zichal, previously served on the board of a natural gas company, Cheniere Energy.

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Have you ever trusted a billionaire? They only get so rich by wanting ever more money. That doesn’t stop all of a sudden.

Billionaires That Donated to Gates-Buffet Pledge Now Richer Than Ever (MPN)

A study released by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) through its Program on Inequality and the Common Good, titled “Gilded Giving 2020: How Wealth Inequality Distorts Philanthropy and Imperils Democracy” examines the reality behind the ostensible charitableness of the billionaire donor class and the disturbing trend of charitable organizations and foundations relying more and more on fewer and fewer wealthy donors; funds which “end up in family foundations and donor-advised funds that could legally exist in perpetuity,” while donations from lower and middle-income sources are disappearing. In particular, the paper looks at The Giving Pledge initiative started in 2010 by a few dozen U.S. billionaires and led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.


The professed goal of the initiative was to have the wealthiest people in the world pledge to give at least half of their fortunes away to charitable causes before their death. The study found that contrary to the stated purpose of the philanthropic commitment of the organization, a full 75 percent of participants have actually increased their net worth in the ten years since they made their charitable vow. More concerning is the finding that a growing share of “high-end” donations never ends up in organizations that do any kind of altruistic work. Rather, they go to tax-privileged private foundations designed to serve as tax shelters for the very wealthy, which then only disburse a small percentage of their assets to charitable non-profits; a particularly galling fact considering how much more wealthy the one-percenters have gotten over the course of the pandemic in contrast to the 54 million Americans who’ve filed for unemployment in that same span of time.

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“[..] who needs an online class in Contemporary Sexual Transgression ($2000-a-credit) when you can just click on Porn-hub for free?

Localize!

Things Going By (Jim Kunstler)

Higher education committed suicide with its dual racketeering model. First was the college loan racket, in which schools colluded with the federal government to jam too many “customers” through the pipeline who didn’t belong there, and who buried themselves under a lifetime debt obligation they could never escape. The second was the intellectual racket of creating sham fields of study that contaminated all the other “humanities” with poisonous bullshit theory, and eventually even invaded the STEM disciplines. Covid-19 screwed the pooch on all that, scotching the four-year party-hearty in-residence part of the deal. For now, who needs an online class in Contemporary Sexual Transgression ($2000-a-credit) when you can just click on Porn-hub for free? Hundreds of colleges and universities will be going out of business in the years ahead.

The outlook for the big centralized high schools is also pretty dark. The teachers’ unions’ insatiable needs are only part of the picture. Consolidating many smaller schools to save on administrative costs seemed like a good idea at the time. But we ended up with thousands of gigantic schools that looked like insecticide factories and felt like minimum security prisons. They all depend on the costly yellow bus fleets to collect the kids from far and wide. The whole scheme ended up as an elaborate day-care operation that actually retarded the development of young people into functional, autonomous adults.

Covid-19 and the economic collapse it triggered will put an end to all that. How will the school districts cope with an epic loss of tax revenue from all the homeowners defaulting on their mortgages? They won’t. Schooling will have to reorganize, and probably at a very grassroots level, with home-schools evolving into neighbor-pods of tiny schools, and only among parents who have the literacy and numeracy to pull it off. We’ll be lucky if, years from now, we’ll see something like local academies spring up that can handle a few hundred students. I’d also warn you about assuming that the Internet is a permanent installation of the human condition. It depends utterly on a pretty fragile electric grid. We do, after all, have libraries, and maybe they can be persuaded to stop trying to get rid of all their books.

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Didn’t we already know we’re stardust? That some of it is calcium makes a lot of sense.

Your Bones Are Made Out of Exploded Stars (Fut.)

According to new research, half the calcium in our universe came from “calcium-rich supernova.” That means the stuff our teeth and bones is made from is, essentially, the remains of dead stars that blew up a long, long time ago. “These events are so few in number that we have never known what produced calcium-rich supernova,” said Wynn Jacobson-Galan, Northwestern graduate student and lead author of the new study published in The Astrophysical Journal this week, in a statement. “By observing what this star did in its final month before it reached its critical, tumultuous end, we peered into a place previously unexplored, opening new avenues of study within transient science,” Jacobson-Galan added.

An extremely bright event some 55 million light years from Earth grabbed the attention of the international astronomy community in April 2019. “Every single country with a prominent telescope turned to look at this object,” Jacobson-Galan recalled. Astronomers were so quick that many observed the supernova just ten hours after the explosion. “The explosion is trying to cool down,” Raffaella Margutti from Northwestern University and a senior author of the study, explained in the statement. “It wants to give away its energy, and calcium emission is an efficient way to do that.” As it turns out the explosion spewed out an immense amount of calcium. “It wasn’t just calcium rich,” Margutti said. “It was the richest of the rich.”

They caught the event just in time to conclude that it was the most calcium to have ever been observed to be emitted from just a single event. “The luminosity tells us how much material the star shed and how close that material was to the star,” Jacobson-Galan explained. “In this case, the star lost a very small amount of material right before it exploded. That material was still nearby.”

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“This is an unusually strong stock, and we are predicting it will see at least six months of straight gains, probably more.”

Dow Skyrockets After Coronavirus Begins Trading On NY Stock Exchange (Onion)

With investors highly bullish about the long-term prospects of the respiratory virus, market reports confirmed Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average skyrocketed nearly 400 points after the novel coronavirus began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. “Following its initial public offering, this coronavirus has become the hot new thing on Wall Street, and you can bet everyone will be getting a piece of it soon if they haven’t already,” said Darya Abbas, an analyst at Zacks Investment Research, observing that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is listed under the ticker symbol COV, traded at incredibly high volumes throughout the day. “This is an unusually strong stock, and we are predicting it will see at least six months of straight gains, probably more. Not since the original SARS in 2003 have we seen an airborne pathogen with such massive growth potential.” At press time, the coronavirus was reportedly in talks to take part in a major merger with Johnson & Johnson.

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Aug 072020
 


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

 

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

 

 

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

The US passed 5 million cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nomiki DNC funds

 

 

New England Complex Systems Institute means Yaneer Bar-Yam.

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

Minimizing Economic Costs For COVID19 (NECSI)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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View from Japan.

TikTok Sparks National Security Concerns (Japan Times)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NRA Files Countersuit Against New York AG Letitia James

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

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

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

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What’s in it for #julianAssange?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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While you weren’t looking.

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

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

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

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

Read more …

 

 

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Beirut August 2020.

 

 

Carl Sagan 1995

 

 

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Aug 042020
 


Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, Brussels 1873

 

Yale Doctor Battles CNN Anchor Over Effectiveness Of HCQ (Fox)
COVID19 Survivors Show Increased Rate Of Psychiatric Disorders (G.)
New Heart Problems Seen In Recovered COVID-19 Patients (R.)
Italy Survey Suggests Coronavirus 6x More Prevalent Than Official Data (R.)
Mutation May Have Made Virus More Vulnerable To Vaccines (R.)
Less Than Third Of Canadians Willing To Travel Without COVID19 Vaccine (CBC)
Manhattan DA Probing Trump Over More Than ‘Hush-Money’ Payments (R.)
Trump Considering Executive Action To Suspend Evictions, Payroll Tax (Hill)
Trump Calls To ‘Re-Run’ New York House Race Over Discarded Mail-In Ballots (F.)
How White Radicals Hijacked Portland’s Protests (Tracey)
Debunking The Coup d’Trump (Turley)
‘The Money Story’ Told By A Father Of MMT (Kohler)
Papers Leaked Before UK Election In Suspected Russian Operation Were Hacked (R.)
A Glimpse Towards November (Kunstler)
Biden Says He Can’t Wait To Find Out Who He Picked For VP (Babylon Bee)

 

 

Some encouraging looking numbers. Cases and deaths decrease both globally and in the US. Europe doesn’t look so good, though, and neither does Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taleb – How to Handle a Pandemic

Yaneer COVID growth rates Europe Africa

 

 

1) I’ve noted before that the first HCQ criticism was all about you could die from it. That’s gone, now it’s merely ineffective. Why? What happened?

2) Dr. Risch says the studies look at the wrong people (low risk). Do we know, however, how HCQ is administered? Is it given to early onset patients, and combined with zinq?

3) Zelenko explains in great detail how he works, and why. But he’s completely ignored and shunned by corporate media. Doesn’t look like truth finding to me.

Yale Doctor Battles CNN Anchor Over Effectiveness Of Hydroxychloroquine (Fox)

Yale epidemiology professor Dr. Harvey Risch and CNN host John Berman bickered over hydroxychloroquine on Monday during a heated discussion about the polarizing drug, which the president has hailed as a possible treatment for COVID-19. Risch recently wrote an op-ed in support of hydroxychloroquine, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx and other experts have dismissed the anti-malarial drug being used to combat coronavirus. Risch cited various studies that backed up his pro-hydroxychloroquine stance, but the host of CNN’s “New Day” disagreed. “None of those studies that you just cited are random placebo-controlled trials, what Dr. Fauci refers to as the gold standard,” Berman said, as the CNN on-screen chyron stated “Growing body of evidence shows hydroxychloroquine is ineffective.”

Risch responded: “That’s not actually correct. The problem with those randomized controlled trials, is they were trials done on the wrong people. They were trials done on low-risk people with low risks of hospitalization and mortality. You don’t do a study of prostate cancer with women… because nobody is gonna get the outcome.” Risch said the studies were conducted on “very low-risk people who are not going to get hospitalized or die” from coronavirus. “We don’t treat those people. We treat high-risk people,” Risch said. Berman then accused Risch of being inconsistent compared to the op-ed, but the Yale epidemiologist disagreed and the interview grew contentious.


“You’re misstating what I said, I said it had to be in high-risk people,” Risch said. “As I’ve said, you have to treat the right people. You have to study the right people. Those studies did not study the right people, period. That’s the bottom line.”

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55% of them.

COVID19 Survivors Show Increased Rate Of Psychiatric Disorders (G.)

More than half of people who received hospital treatment for Covid-19 were found to be suffering from a psychiatric disorder a month later, a study has found. Out of 402 patients monitored after being treated for the virus, 55% were found to have at least one psychiatric disorder, experts from San Raffaele hospital in Milan found. The results, based on clinical interviews and self-assessment questionnaires, showed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 28% of cases, depression in 31% and anxiety in 42%. Additionally, 40% of patients had insomnia and 20% had obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms. The findings will increase concerns about the psychological effects of the virus.

The paper, published on Monday in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, says: “PTSD, major depression, and anxiety are all high-burden non-communicable conditions associated with years of life lived with disability. “Considering the alarming impact of Covid-19 infection on mental health, the current insights on inflammation in psychiatry, and the present observation of worse inflammation leading to worse depression, we recommend to assess psychopathology of Covid-19 survivors and to deepen research on inflammatory biomarkers, in order to diagnose and treat emergent psychiatric conditions.” The study of 265 men and 137 women found that women – who are less likely to die from Covid than men – suffered more than men psychologically.

Patients with positive previous psychiatric diagnoses suffered more than those without a history of psychiatric disorder. The researchers, led by Dr Mario Gennaro Mazza, said these results were consistent with previous epidemiological studies. They said psychiatric effects could be caused “by the immune response to the virus itself, or by psychological stressors such as social isolation, psychological impact of a novel severe and potentially fatal illness, concerns about infecting others, and stigma.” Outpatients showed increased anxiety and sleep disturbances, while – perhaps surprisingly – the duration of hospitalisation inversely correlated with symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety and OC.

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“Among 100 patients ages 45 to 53, “a considerable majority” – 78 – had inflammation in the heart muscle and lining…”

New Heart Problems Seen In Recovered COVID-19 Patients (R.)

More than three-quarters of recently recovered COVID-19 patients had heart muscle problems show up during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, German doctors reported on Monday in JAMA Cardiology. In some patients, the heart may be “in serious trouble as a part of COVID-19 disease,” Dr. Valentina Puntmann of University Hospital Frankfurt told Reuters. Among 100 patients ages 45 to 53, “a considerable majority” – 78 – had inflammation in the heart muscle and lining. Sixty-seven had recovered at home while 33 had required hospitalization. Half of the former patients were more than two months out since their diagnosis at the time of the MRI.


Thirty-six patients reported ongoing shortness of breath and general exhaustion, and 71 had blood markers of heart muscle damage. Compared with similar people who had not had COVID-19, the recently recovered patients’ hearts pumped more weakly and displayed other risk factors for heart failure. Puntmann suspects the abnormalities are signs of permanent problems. “While we do not have direct evidence for late consequences yet, such as the development of heart failure … it is quite possible that in a few years, this burden will be enormous based on what we have learned from other viral conditions that similarly affect the heart,” she said.

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It’s still just 2.5% that have antibodies. Not 60%. Even in Lombardy no more than 7.5%.

Italy Survey Suggests Coronavirus 6x More Prevalent Than Official Data (R.)

Almost 1.5 million people in Italy or 2.5% of the population have developed coronavirus antibodies, a figure six times more than official numbers reported, according to a survey from statistics agency Istat on Monday. The survey by Istat and the health ministry, was based on antibody tests conducted on 64,660 people. Official figures show 248,229 confirmed cases of COVID-19 patients in Italy, with 35,166 deaths. The survey found marked local differences with the northern region of Lombardy, where the epidemic first broke out in February, showing 7.5% of the population had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies compared to just 0.3% in the southern region of Sicily. The survey found almost 30% of people with antibodies were asymptomatic, pointing to the risk of the illness being spread by people unaware they were carriers.

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Easy to say when there is no vaccine.

Mutation May Have Made Virus More Vulnerable To Vaccines (R.)

A genetic mutation that made the new coronavirus more infectious may also make it more vulnerable to vaccines, researchers believe. The mutation, designated D614G, increases the number of “spikes” on the surface of the virus and makes them more stable, allowing the virus to more efficiently break into and infect cells. The mutation will not pose problems for vaccines now in clinical trials, however, because the extra spikes retain the targets for the “neutralizing antibodies” the vaccines are designed to induce.


Those targets, called receptor-binding domains, or RBDs, are the places where the spike attaches itself to the cells it infects. With more spikes, there are more RBDs for the antibodies to bind to in order to neutralize the virus. “The gain in infectivity provided by D614G came at the cost of making the virus more vulnerable to neutralizing antibodies,” the researchers wrote in a paper posted on medRxiv on Friday ahead of peer review.

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Tourism in Greece is at a very low level still. People stay home this year.

Less Than Third Of Canadians Willing To Travel Without COVID19 Vaccine (CBC)

Most Canadians and Americans aren’t rushing to travel anywhere, even within their own countries, before a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, according to a new online survey. Fewer than a third of Canadians are willing to take a flight anywhere right now whether it’s to another continent, to another province, or within their own province, according to the poll by Research Co., a Vancouver-based polling firm. Only 17 per cent of Canadian respondents were willing to take a plane to the United States. Thirty-five per cent of Americans say they are willing to take a flight within the U.S., but only 28 per cent would fly to Canada.


“The appetite for travel before a COVID-19 vaccine is readily available is low in Canada and the United States,” said Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., in a written release. “North American residents aged 55 and over, who are usually ready to explore and spend, are particularly reticent about all journeys unless inoculation is a reality.” The online poll, conducted July 1-5, surveyed representative samples of 1,000 Canadians and 1,200 Americans. It asked them their willingness to travel by five different modes of transportation: by train, by plane, by bus, by cruise ship and by ferry.

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We couldn’t have too long a period without some public investigation against Trump, could we? Got to cover the entire 4+ years. Election tampering?

Manhattan DA Probing Trump Over More Than ‘Hush-Money’ Payments (R.)

Manhattan’s district attorney on Monday suggested a grand jury subpoena for U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax returns was part of an investigation of “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” including alleged insurance and bank fraud. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance raised the scope of the probe in court papers filed in federal court in Manhattan on Monday. He is seeking to dismiss Trump’s latest challenge to the subpoena for eight years of personal and corporate tax records. Asked about the investigation at a coronavirus press briefing on Monday, Trump repeated that he believed he is the victim of a political “witch hunt,” which he said was “Democrats’ stuff” and started “even before I got in” to office.

“There is nothing that I know even about it,” he added. Trump is scheduled to respond to Vance’s motion to dismiss by Aug. 10. In a court filing last week, Trump’s lawyers argued the subpoena was “wildly overbroad” and issued in “bad faith.” Vance noted in the court papers that when the subpoena was issued last August, there were “public allegations of possible criminal activity” at the Trump Organization dating back a decade. He said public reports show a basis for each category and timeframe of documents sought from Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA. Trump’s argument that the subpoena is overbroad “rests on the false premise that the grand jury’s investigation is limited to so-called ‘hush-money’ payments made by Michael Cohen” on Trump’s behalf in 2016, Vance said.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign violations tied to the payments to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels and former model Karen McDougal, who claimed they had affairs with Trump, which he denies. In a footnote to Monday’s filing, Vance cited media reports on Trump’s alleged role in the hush-money scheme and on the “unorthodox strategies” he used to expand his real estate empire.

Read more …

Do unemployment benefits too.

Trump Considering Executive Action To Suspend Evictions, Payroll Tax (Hill)

President Trump said Monday that he is considering taking executive action to halt evictions and suspend payroll tax collection as coronavirus relief talks see slow progress on Capitol Hill. “I could do that if I want, and I want to do that. I don’t want people to be evicted,” Trump told reporters at a press conference Monday evening when asked about his suggestion earlier in the day that he could act unilaterally to suspend evictions. Trump noted that individuals who are evicted often go to shelters, where the coronavirus can spread easily because of crowding. “They’re thrown out viciously. It’s not their fault. It’s not their fault. It’s China’s fault,” Trump said, continuing to blame China, where the virus originated, for the pain inflicted on Americans.

Trump also asserted that he had unilateral authority to suspend the payroll tax. “I can do that also through executive order, so we’ll be talking about that,” Trump said. Trump’s admission came after conservatives Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging Trump to declare a national economic emergency and to direct the IRS to suspend collection of payroll taxes. They argued that Trump could defer payroll tax payments using the same section of the tax code used by Treasury earlier this year to postpone the 2019 tax filing deadline until mid-July. The move would amount to a deferral, though the two argued that Trump could pledge to sign a bill in the future to forgive the repayments.

[..] Trump’s remarks make clear the White House is considering unilateral actions as the administration and Congress struggle to reach a consensus on the next coronavirus relief bill. Congress in March enacted a federal moratorium on evictions through the CARES Act, though that expired roughly a week ago. Expanded unemployment insurance benefits enacted under the same bill officially expired last week. The White House has pushed for both measures to be extended quickly in a short-term deal as negotiators hammer out the details of the relief package, but Democrats have resisted a short-term measure.

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Mail-in may run reasonably well in Colorado, but here’s your first mess.

Trump Calls To ‘Re-Run’ New York House Race Over Discarded Mail-In Ballots (F.)

At a White House press conference on Monday, President Trump called to “re-run” the Democratic primary in New York’s 12th Congressional District, a race in which one candidate has refused to concede citing a large number of discarded and unreceived mail-in ballots. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) led progressive challenger Suraj Patel by just 648 votes– or 1.6%–in the Manhattan and Queens district on election night, but expanded her lead to 4 points after mail-in ballots were finished being counted in late July. Patel has refused to concede, citing reports that 9,000 of the more than 47,000 mail-in ballots sent in were invalidated for a variety of reasons and that many voters didn’t receive their mail-in ballots in time for the election.


Trump has pointed to the district, which contains Trump Tower, as a prime example of the flaws of mail-in voting, against which he has waged a fierce campaign in recent months, telling reporters on Friday, “They’re never going to have the result of that election, never the correct result.” Trump doubled-down on his criticism of the 12th District’s primary on Monday, calling it a “total disaster” and saying “nobody knows what’s happening with the ballots and the lost ballots and the fraudulent ballots I guess.” “I think I can say right here and now you have to re-run that race, because it’s a mess,” Trump added. Ultimately it would be up to New York State, not the federal government, to decide whether to re-run a race–as was the case in North Carolina’s 9th district in 2019.

Read more …

Michael Tracey spent a lot of time on the ground.

How White Radicals Hijacked Portland’s Protests (Tracey)

The overwhelmingly white, anarchist activists who populate the ongoing protests in Portland, Oregon should not be underestimated for their strategic savvy. In seizing the mantle of “Black Lives Matter”, they’ve discovered a work-around to arrogate moral cover for whatever insurrectionary upheaval they would have been ideologically committed to fomenting anyway. The Left/liberal political and media class is deeply invested in preserving the untouchable sanctity of “BLM”. So by fusing themselves in the public mind with this ambiguously-defined protest movement, or even putting themselves at the vanguard, the anarchist whites insulate themselves from the type of scrutiny that might ordinarily be prompted by activists whose ultimate goal is the overthrow of the state — and who are happy to engage in what they call “a diversity of tactics” (up to and including violence) to achieve this.

It makes for a bizarre dynamic, as Democratic Party pundits and politicians routinely describe avowed insurrectionists as nothing more than benign “peaceful protesters”. And since the protests came to be arrayed against the federal forces dispatched to Portland by Donald Trump, more conventional elements of the Left/liberal “Resistance” have made common cause with these revolutionary anarchists who regard the very essence of the US political system — not just Trump — as innately fascist and “white supremacist”. On a recent evening, for instance, an older white couple in a pair of matching “Resistance”-branded T-shirts could be spotted in attendance among the radical activists, as well as a man sporting the slogan “Ridin’ with Biden”.

To characterise what’s gone on in Portland as a traditional “protest” is a misnomer, however. Pay a visit to the area around the Federal Courthouse in Downtown after midnight and you are greeted by brigades of black-clad “Antifa” foot soldiers — geared up in full body armour, complete with industrial-grade gas masks, shields and even customised radio systems. Being overwhelmingly white, they are strategic about public presentation: the speakers appointed to address the nightly “rallies” are almost exclusively black, as “amplifying black voices” to whom whites must dutifully “listen” is a central tenet of the Summer 2020 protest ethos.

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Turley often tries to be overly correct.

Debunking The Coup d’Trump (Turley)

This week, American democracy either died or it didn’t, but you couldn’t tell from the news coverage. Some commentators and members of Congress warned that we are looking at “nothing less than a coup.” Others called for organized protests, proclaiming it is now clear that President Trump’s “anti-democratic intent was blood-chillingly real.” One leading academic called for Trump’s immediate impeachment as a fascist out to destroy our constitutional system. We have not seen such rhetoric since Aaron Burr tried to peel off the entire southwestern territory of the United States. The cause this time was an 11-word Twitter question from President Trump. Returning to his favorite subject of denouncing mail-in voting as a disaster in the making, he ended his July 30 tweet by asking, “Delay the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote?”

As I said at the time, the tweet was reckless and repugnant. However, cries of some Twitter-based coup d’état were equally unconnected to reality. I have written repeatedly about this conspiracy theory that Trump will never allow an election to occur in 2020, which has raged on liberal websites and cable news since soon after his inauguration. Trump does not have the authority to delay the election. Even if he could persuade Congress to change the date, with the implausible assistance of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Constitution still stipulates that his term ends at noon on Jan. 20. In the interim, not only do citizens have to vote, but electors have to cast ballots in the Electoral College, and those votes must be certified and counted by Congress.

It is not much of a coup when you do not extend your time in office. It does not matter what Trump would like; it is what the Constitution will allow. A demand to delay the election has the same impact as Trump declaring he will change his name to “Joe Biden” if needed to claim victory, or that he will adopt Neptune’s calendar to extend his four-year term to 660 years. That is why this conspiracy theory has been so maddening. Indeed, in a column in April, I criticized former Vice President Joe Biden when he took up the theory, triggering another round of panic; Biden added a second theory to this baseless fear, suggesting that Trump’s opposition to funding the U.S. Postal Service was part of a plan to steal the election. (I later wrote an equally caustic criticism of Jared Kushner when he equivocated about Election Day.)

While I portrayed Biden back then as a virtual nut for raising this conspiracy theory, many now have proclaimed him a virtual Nostradamus following Trump’s tweet. Biden was not right — any more than Trump is today. It is no surprise — and no sign of a conspiracy — that Trump might suggest something outrageous, such as a delayed election, on Twitter. Such behavior is an established fact that occupies many of us on a daily basis. The “conspiracy theory” is to suggest that Trump could actually halt or delay the election. In fairness to Trump, he has not stated that he can unilaterally delay the election but rather has asked if we should do so.

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We have to discuss MMT, just like we have to talk about UBI. The bottom is falling out.

‘The Money Story’ Told By A Father Of MMT (Kohler)

Warren Mosler is one of but possibly the originator of modern monetary theory, but he did collaborate with Bill Mitchell of The University of Newcastle, who I interviewed in March, among other people. Warren is talking to us from The Virgin Islands where he lives on the Island of Saint Croix. But the difference with Warren Mosley is he’s not an academic, he is a fund manager, started off with a big bankers trust or a group of other banks, eventually had his own hedge fund trading bonds and essentially, put into practice his ideas that became known as modern monetary theory. I suppose the key insight is here, that what he’s talking about is actual operations of money, not theory. He’s an operational guy and the way he approaches it is in the way the monetary system actually works. He’s really clear, really worth listening to and it’s long but really worthwhile.

Warren, it occurred to me that maybe a good place to start would be the insights you started to have in the 70s, when you were a fairly young bond trader – I can’t remember who with but at some stage, BT, and I think you moved around a bit… I mean, those were the peak times of what we call monetarism and Friedmanism and so on, and I think you started then saying that the Emperor had no clothes. What exactly did you identify as the problem? “I can only remember bits and pieces from back then. I remember being a bankers trust and the Fed had raised reserve requirements and the trading managers, Allan Rogers – and he talked without moving his mouth like this, and he said, “Why I hope the Fed doesn’t just give them the money. The money supply is too high, they need to take the $10 billion or whatever it is out of the economy.”

And I remember saying – I was a fairly new trader there, I was 27 years’ old – I go, “Allan, you can’t do that, you can’t just – you know, it’s just a spreadsheet, you can’t take the money out, they have to add the money. They always add the money because otherwise it’s, in the first instance, the reserve requirements are debit and so then they either have an overdraft which is a reserve-add or you have to buy securities as a reserve-add. Since the overdraft would cause the Fed funds rate to go up 100 basis points, they don’t want that to happen, they have to just do repos or add to reserves.” He goes, “Well, they could bring back those Euro dollars, there’s 300 billion Euro dollars sloshing around.”

I go, “No there aren’t. There’s a spreadsheet over there with assets and liabilities, there’s nothing sloshing around, you can’t bring those back, that’s just empty rhetoric…” He didn’t really want to hear that. One of my clients was Cliff Viner at Phoenix Mutual, who later became my partner, and he directed my attention to an article in the Wall Street Journal by Eric Heineman, “The money supply is too high, I hope the Fed doesn’t just give them the money but takes it out.” I explain it to him and he was a client of Morgan Stanley so he called them with my answer and he calls me back with their double-talk answer and I straightened that up. He calls them back and then he calls me back and he says, “They’ve retracted their statement. They agree that you have to add the reserves.” So, I don’t know, maybe that was part of the pieces of the puzzle.

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Reuters started this. They say “suspected” Russians, which means it might have also been Martians. Their info is MI6- sourced. The UK press turns it into Russians for sure., with one report linking them to state based operations. Now suspected Russians have become Russian intelligence. Who, having gone through the trouble of hacking into a US-UK trade deal, don’t keep it for themselves to use later, but know nothing better to do with it than hand it to antisemite Jeremy Corbyn to wave around.

The British DO NOT like that Russia doesn’t find them interesting anymore. They DO like that they can sweep all their failures unnder the RussiaRussia carpet.

Papers Leaked Before UK Election In Suspected Russian Operation Were Hacked (R.)

Classified U.S.-UK trade documents leaked ahead of Britain’s 2019 election were stolen from the email account of former trade minister Liam Fox by suspected Russian hackers, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a law enforcement investigation is underway, said the hackers accessed the account multiple times between July 12 and Oct. 21 last year. They declined to name which Russian group or organisation they believed was responsible, but said the attack bore the hallmarks of a state-backed operation. Among the stolen information were six tranches of documents detailing British trade negotiations with the United States, which Reuters first reported last year were leaked and disseminated online by a Russian disinformation campaign.


British foreign minister Dominic Raab confirmed that report last month, saying that “Russian actors” had sought to interfere in the election “through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked Government documents”. Reuters was not able to determine which of Fox’s email accounts was hacked and when it was first compromised. It is not clear if Fox, who is still a member of parliament but stood down as trade minister on July 24 last year in a cabinet reshuffle, was a minister at the time. A British government spokeswoman said: “There is an ongoing criminal investigation into how the documents were acquired, and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this point.” She added that the government had “very robust systems in place to protect the IT systems of officials and staff.”

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“..if ever there was a Lady Macbeth moment for wickedness to prevail, this is it.”

A Glimpse Towards November (Kunstler)

The New York Times and its media co-seditionists insist that massive mail-in voting will do just fine despite plenty of evidence that it’s already a demonstrable fiasco — for instance in the recent New York primary where two congressional district contests remain undecided months later due to ballot irregularities. The boards of election “had operational issues,” as Governor Cuomo put it, “and we have to learn from them” — another teachable moment in the Democratic Party’s valiant struggle to morally improve America strictly on its own terms. Over in Nevada, the state legislature passed a mail-in vote scheme that will send ballots out to everybody and his-or-her uncle, with no ID required, and a feature that permits ballots to be filled-out by someone other than the addressed voter.

Nice! A “ballot-harvesting” model for other states. In California, where anybody with a driver’s license is automatically registered to vote via the 2015 “New Motor Voter Act,” ballots will go out to 600,000 un-documented non-citizens who were granted licenses under a separate act (AB-60) the same year. Do you suppose all of them will conscientiously toss their ballots in the trash while California’s mighty Democratic Party machine importunes them to vote early-and-often? There’s your set-up for a 2020 election that can’t possibly be resolved, and a recipe for a Hieronymus Bosch style orgy of Lawfare litigation that would deliberately seek to confound the Federal Election Commission’s best efforts to untangle the mess — just as Lawfare is doing in the mess of a case against General Flynn — and effectively end 232 years of continuous, orderly four-year election cycles. Is that what you want?

The other index of the Democratic Party’s desperation is the ongoing emperor’s-new-clothes charade posing the effigy of Joe Biden as a serious candidate for a rather important position in government. Everybody knows that they know — and we know that they know that we all know — that Mr. Biden is sailing into a fog-bank of senility, and more measurably each day! His every staged performance is an obvious embarrassment of fumbled phrases and things forgotten. They are going to have to find a replacement. It really comes down to two figures: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. What a predicament!

[..] Hillary still owns the DNC — literally. Nobody knows how much of the Clinton Foundation’s ill-gotten moolah still underwrites the party’s national operations. The arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, with new allegations about Bill Clinton’s capers on Epstein’s Pedo Island, is a strange twist with mystifying implications — especially the timing and the motives of those in the DOJ’s Southern District who stage-managed it. With the Clintons, intrigues always abound. But if ever there was a Lady Macbeth moment for wickedness to prevail, this is it. For now, the old warhorse is laying low on her yoga mat somewhere in the Chappaqua woods.

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“What Joe was trying to say is that he’s chosen a well-qualified candidate who will run the country ..”

Biden Says He Can’t Wait To Find Out Who He Picked For VP (Babylon Bee)

According to sources in the Biden campaign, the presidential candidate is on pins and needles waiting to see who it is he picked to run for vice president on his ticket. Campaign aides say it’s been Biden’s most anticipated event since he found out he was running for president a few weeks ago. A reporter asked Biden if he could hint about his VP pick during a brief interlude from his stay in the basement, where he was allowed to come upstairs to get some snacks. “Oh boy — I hope it’s a real classy broad,” he said as he drank straight from the milk jug. “I bet I picked somebody good and smart. A chick with class and style.


You know, in my day, dames were dames and guys were guys. None of this ‘guys becoming dolls’ and ‘dolls becoming guys’ stuff. We would go down to the hop and do the mashed potato. You know, there’s lots of good nnnn– nutrients and stuff in potatoes. Potato is a funny word.” “Po – ta – to.” “OK, Joe, let’s go,” said an aide, shoving him down into the basement. “What Joe was trying to say is that he’s chosen a well-qualified candidate who will run the country — err, I mean, help him run the country — with excellence.”

Read more …

 

 

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Aug 032020
 


W. Eugene Smith Orson Welles 1941

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Hunt Sweden

 

 

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

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

Supporters Urge Joe Biden Not to Debate Trump (NW)

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

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

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

Mussolini

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

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

Kansas Should Go F— Itself (Matt Taibbi)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Congress Maintains Endless War (Zuesse)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Tech Stock Buybacks Are Surging (ZH)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pelosi and Schumer agree.

White House Puts Chinese Apps On Notice (SCMP)

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

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

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

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Too much repetition makes people look away.

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

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

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

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

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From February, but highly relevant today.

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

 

 

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A 1968 cartoon.

 

 

Easily Tweet of the day. Hands down.

 

 

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It’s The Healthcare System, Stupid (Thomas Frank)
‘Brain Fog’ To Heart Damage, COVID19’s Lingering Problems (AAAS)
The Protein Expression Profile Of ACE2 In Human Tissues (EMBO) span>
Red Sox Ace Rodríguez Out For Season With COVID-Related Heart Ailment (G.)
Obese People Are Twice As Likely To Die From COVID (ZH)
America’s Coin Shortage Is Getting Worse (ZH)
Obama Issues Private Warning About Trump Voters To Top Democratic Donors (LZ)
CIA Fabricated Russiagate ‘Evidence’ – Bill Binney (Zuesse)
Ten Years Since WikiLeaks Published The Afghan War Logs (WSWS)
US Seeks To Re-Arrest Julian Assange With New Extradition Request (Sky.au)
Former UC Global Staff Confirm Embassy Surveillance Against Julian Assange (CW)
‘Apocalyptic’ Sky Sounds During Lockdown Baffle Experts (G.)

 

 

A few medical reports today on the brain and heart damage that’s being diagnosed increasingly. The medical community appears to have seriously dropped the ball when they all focused on lungs and the respiratory system. That’s just part of what’s happening.

 

 

“Moderate” or moderating numbers. We would love to see this trend continue. But it’s the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puppy mask

 

 

In favor of the original populism. From Le Monde Diplomatique.

It’s The Healthcare System, Stupid (Thomas Frank)

Unfortunately, it’s all a mistake. Donald Trump’s prodigious stupidity is not the sole cause of our crushing national failure to beat the coronavirus. Plenty of blame must also go to our screwed-up healthcare system, which scorns the very idea of public health and treats access to medical care as a private luxury that is rightfully available only to some. It is the healthcare system, not Trump, that routinely denies people treatment if they lack insurance; that bankrupts people for ordinary therapies; that strips people of their coverage when they lose their jobs — and millions of people are losing their jobs in this pandemic. It is the healthcare system that, when a Covid treatment finally arrives, will almost certainly charge Americans a hefty price to receive it.

And that system is the way it is because organised medicine has for almost a century used the prestige of expertise to keep it that way. Populism, meanwhile, was the reform impulse that tried (and failed) to change the system so that it served ordinary people. Which is to say that the pundits and the scholars and the thinktankers in their grave solemnity have got it entirely backward. Bowing down before expertise is precisely what has made public health an impossible dream. And the populism that our pundits so hate and fear is, in fact, the cure for what ails us. Who was a populist? Begin with the word. The term ‘Populist’ was coined in Kansas in 1891 to describe members of a brand-new American farmer-labour party who demanded a modern currency, a war on monopoly, and the nationalisation of the railroads.

The movement caught fire, and the people who called themselves Populists seemed poised to succeed at first. Instead, their party fizzled out by the end of that decade. Still, Populism’s influence lived on for decades; its ideas can be traced through the American Socialist Party, the New Deal of the 1930s and 40s, and the Bernie Sanders campaigns of 2016 and 2020. The rise and fall of the American Populists — again, the people who invented the word — has long been a favourite subject of romantically inclined historians. The Populist party’s principles and its leading figures are well known to scholars and are the subject of many books. A curious fact that is repeated often in those books: the Populists were not opponents of science or learning.

On the contrary: Populists produced homages to technology and scholarship and education that were so earnest and ornate that they are embarrassing to read today. They thought their own ideas about regulation and the welfare state were in full alignment with the scientific advances of the late 19th century. At the same time, the Pops fought endlessly with the business and academic elites of their day — experts who regarded the established order as the work of God. Populists regarded all special privilege with suspicion, including the prestige that props up the professional class. [..] The Populist way of looking at things was radically democratic: the people came first. The correct role of experts, the original Populists thought, was to serve and inform the people as they went about their lives as citizens of a democracy.

The original Populist movement didn’t have much to say about healthcare policy. In the 1890s, American medicine had not yet hardened into the supremely costly bureaucratic labyrinth we know today. But as the price of medicine grew out of reach in the decades that followed, farmers and unions and charities proposed all kinds of alternative, more democratic arrangements, and always with the same aim: to make healthcare an affordable part of life for ordinary, working-class people.

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People who can’t think straight months after being discharged. A baseball starting pitcher whose season is gone because of heart inflammation.

‘Brain Fog’ To Heart Damage, COVID19’s Lingering Problems (AAAS)

By now it’s clear that many people with COVID-19 severe enough to put them in a hospital face a long recovery. The virus ravages the heart, for example, in multiple ways. Direct invasion of heart cells can damage or destroy them. Massive inflammation can affect cardiac function. The virus can blunt the function of ACE2 receptors, which normally help protect heart cells and degrade angiotensin II, a hormone that increases blood pressure. Stress on the body from fighting the virus can prompt release of adrenaline and epinephrine, which can also “have a deleterious effect on the heart,” says Raul Mitrani, a cardiac electrophysiologist at the University of Miami who collaborates with Goldberger.


Many people the pair has seen with heart complications post–COVID-19 had preexisting conditions, most commonly diabetes and hypertension. COVID-19, Goldberger suspects, tips them into more hazardous terrain or accelerates the onset of heart problems that, absent the coronavirus, might have developed later. But other patients are affected without apparent risk factors: A paper this week in JAMA Cardiology found that 78 of 100 people diagnosed with COVID-19 had cardiac abnormalities when their heart was imaged on average 10 weeks later, most often inflammation in heart muscle. Many of the participants in that study were previously healthy, and some even caught the virus while on ski trips, according to the authors.

Severe lung scarring appears less common than feared—Gholamrezanezhad knows of only one recovered patient who still needs oxygen at rest. Scarring seems most likely to accompany underlying lung disease, hypertension, obesity, and other conditions. Lung damage is also seen in people who spend weeks on a ventilator. Gholamrezanezhad suspects that, as with harm to the heart, previously healthy people are not exempt from the virus’ long-term effects on the lungs, though their risk is likely lower.

[..] Then there’s the nervous system, a worrying target. Severe complications seem relatively rare but aren’t limited to those whom the virus renders critically ill. Brown, Zandi, and colleagues described 43 people with neurologic complications this month in Brain; many had been hospitalized during their acute infection, but not always for long—and for some, neurologic problems were their most debilitating symptom and the reason for hospital admission. Several were struggling to recover from encephalitis. Others had inflammation in their brain’s white matter, which helps transmit electrical signals.

Separately, doctors are starting to see a class of patients who, like Akrami, struggle to think clearly—another outcome physicians have come upon in the past. After some severe viral infections, there are “those people who still don’t feel quite right afterward, but have normal brain scans,” Brown says. Some neurologists and patients describe the phenomenon as “brain fog.” It’s largely a mystery, though one theory suggests it’s similar to a “postviral fatigue related to inflammation in the body,” Brown says.

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“..mainly observed in enterocytes, renal tubules, gallbladder, cardiomyocytes, male reproductive cells, placental trophoblasts, ductal cells, eye, and vasculature..”

The Protein Expression Profile Of ACE2 In Human Tissues (EMBO)

The novel SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS CoV 2) poses a global challenge on healthcare and society. For understanding the susceptibility for SARS CoV 2 infection, the cell type specific expression of the host cell surface receptor is necessary. The key protein suggested to be involved in host cell entry is angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Here, we report the expression pattern of ACE2 across > 150 different cell types corresponding to all major human tissues and organs based on stringent immunohistochemical analysis. The results were compared with several datasets both on the mRNA and protein level.


ACE2 expression was mainly observed in enterocytes, renal tubules, gallbladder, cardiomyocytes, male reproductive cells, placental trophoblasts, ductal cells, eye, and vasculature. In the respiratory system, the expression was limited, with no or only low expression in a subset of cells in a few individuals, observed by one antibody only. Our data constitute an important resource for further studies on SARS CoV 2 host cell entry, in order to understand the biology of the disease and to aid in the development of effective treatments to the viral infection.

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Eduardo Rodríguez is a prominent example of what the research above warns about. And he’s a young fit top athlete.

Red Sox Ace Rodríguez Out For Season With COVID-Related Heart Ailment (G.)

Boston Red Sox ace Eduardo Rodríguez will miss the rest of the 2020 season as he recovers from a heart issue the team believes is related to the pitcher’s recent battle with the coronavirus. The 27-year-old left-hander, the team’s presumptive No 1 starter who had been expected to start on opening day before he was sidelined, has been diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart that has been found at a high rate in recovered coronavirus patients. Rodríguez tested positive for the virus before flying to Boston for an abbreviated training camp in early July, describing symptoms including headaches, nausea and a high fever. After recovering and joining the club, he was diagnosed with the temporary ailment.


“We are confident that he’s going to make a full recovery and that his longterm prognosis is excellent, but the fact of the matter is there’s just just not enough time left this season to safely ramp him back up to pitching,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said. Rodriguez had said last Sunday that his doctors told him that 10-20% of people who have had Covid-19 also have been diagnosed with myocarditis. “That’s the most important part of your body, so when you hear that, the first time I hear it was kind of scared a little,’’ Rodriguez said. “Now that I know what it is, it’s still scary, but I know exactly what it is. Just talk to my mom, talk to my wife, they know what I have and everything. Now we just gotta take the rest. That’s hard, but you gotta take a rest.”

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Shed some pounds. Get fit(ter).

Obese People Are Twice As Likely To Die From COVID (ZH)

Just in case Americans – the most obese nation in the world – needed another reason to lose some weight, here it is. In what is emerging as a perfidious Catch 22, at a time when the US population is rapidly gaining weight due to mandatory work from home regulation (hence the Covid 19 pounds) as described here and here, while a surge in domestic alcohol consumption is only making the matters worse… Public Health England has published a paper titled “Excess Weight and COVID-19 Insights from new evidence”, indicating that the risks of hospitalization, intensive care treatment and death increase progressively with increasing body mass index (BMI) above the healthy weight range even after adjustment for potential confounding factors, including demographic and socioeconomic factors. In other words, the fatter one is, the higher the risk that person may die from covid.


Some more details: according to the Public Health England paper, the hazard ratios of ICU admission patients who are overweight (BMI ≥25-29.9), obese (BMI ≥30-34.9) or severely obese (BMI ≥35) are 1.64, 2.59 and 4.35, respectively see figure below) relative to patients with a BMI of ≥20-24.9. The study also showed an increasing risk of death with increasing BMI with hazard ratios of 1.05, 1.40 and 1.92 for people with a BMI of 30-34, 35-39.9 and ≥40, respectively, relative to BMI <30. In a nutshell, people who are severely obese are twice as likely to die from Covid. Which, in a world where facts could be discussed instead of dismissed and slammed as “racist”, would mean that certain races and genders are especially at risk. However, because charts like the one below are racist, it’s best to wallow in ignorance and accuse white people for what is taking place.

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The Fed can’t do its laundry anymore.

America’s Coin Shortage Is Getting Worse (ZH)

The nation’s coin shortage, prompted by less cash circulating as a result of Covid-19 – is getting worse. And believe it or not, cash is still being used in 49% of payments that are $10 or below, according to a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, reported on by Bloomberg. The irony of the situation lies in the fact that the Fed can print trillions for bonds, but can’t come up with a couple of quarters to do its laundry. Despite the Fed’s best efforts to keep money circulating, there is still a coin shortage in the U.S. The effects are being felt in places like laundromats, where coins are used to do laundry. Brian Wallace, president and CEO of the Coin Laundry Association (we swear this is an actual organization), said: “This is just an unexpected wrench in the works that I don’t think any of us could have anticipated, finding ourselves short on quarters.”

Only about 20% of laundromats offer a card option and 27% accept credit cards. In other words, most laundromats still rely on coins to do business. “The people that show up to the laundromat each weekend are there for a purpose. It’s an essential service. Anything that impedes that progress certainly impacts tens of millions of families that use vended laundry each week,” Wallace continued. Coinstar, which processed $2.7 billion worth of coins last year, collects an 11.9% fee from customers. The company has said its business has decreased during the lockdown, but it is now starting to see a slight bounce back. And despite operating in Japan, Canada, Italy, and several other European countries, it hasn’t seen the same issues outside the U.S. “There’s something unique about the U.S. that we can’t figure out why this has come to this crisis,” says Jim Gaherity, chief executive officer of Coinstar.

“I don’t refer to it as a shortage, I refer to it as ‘We don’t have coin moving.’ It’s there, it’s just not in the right place.” Jerome Powell said in June that the shortage would be temporary, while at the same time U.S. mints spool up more production. The Fed has, in the interim, put together a “coin task force” to liaise with companies like Coinstar to help come up with solutions. Organizations like the Coin Laundry Association have suggested the Fed distributing additional coins and prioritizing to “consumer businesses in the essential critical infrastructure workforce.” Banks and businesses are also offering premiums and deals for turning in your coins. One Wisconsin bank is offering a $5 bonus for every $100 worth of coins that are turned in. Recall, days ago, we wrote that Chick-Fil-A was giving away free food to customers who paid in coins.

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Obama’s own side has this problem. They operate solely in their echo chamber. The people getting their information from the MSM get zero info from anywhere else. So who is the threat to democracy around here? An individual’s answer to that question can be precisely predicted once you know where (s)he gets her “news”.

Obama Issues Private Warning About Trump Voters To Top Democratic Donors (LZ)

Barack Obama has reportedly just warned top Democratic donors that this election is far from a lock for Joe Biden because President Donald Trump’s voters are “glued” to rightwing outlets like Fox News and Breitbart News. Over the past two months, Obama has raised $24 million for Biden by having conversations with people like LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, actor George Clooney, as well as with top party leaders, according to The New York Times. Donors who have paid six-figure sums have been given the opportunity to watch these conversations on Zoom. In these talks, Obama claimed that because the mainstream media doesn’t reach some Trump supporters, they can filter “out any contradictory information” by getting their news from Breitbart News, Fox News, and Rush Limbaugh.


“It’s just glued to Fox News and Breitbart and Limbaugh and just this conservative echo chamber — and so, they’re going to turn out to vote,” Obama reportedly said in a discussion with Illinois Democrat Governor J.B. Pritzker. “What he has unleashed and what he continues to try to tap into is the fears and anger and resentment of people who, in some cases, really are having a tough time and have seen their prospects, or communities where they left, declining. And Trump tries to tap into that and redirect in nativist, racist, sexist ways.” The Times reported that Obama also has said that he sees Trump as a threat to American democracy, “even making an oblique reference to Nazi Germany” during one of the conversations.

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The former US intelligence technical specialists are still being silenced. Very effectively. Binney’s message: nothing was hacked.

CIA Fabricated Russiagate ‘Evidence’ – Bill Binney (Zuesse)

An important public statement was made on July 27th by Bill Binney, the U.S. Government’s top expert on the internet, and on computer hacking. He had been the Technical Director of the NSA when he quit and became a whistleblower against that Agency while George W. Bush was the U.S. President and invaded Iraq on the basis of faked evidence. Binney has now laid out, in this speech, the evidence that he wants to present in court against Barack Obama’s CIA, that it defrauded Americans to believe in “Russiagate” (the allegation that Russia ‘hacked’ the computers of Hillary Clinton and Democratic Party officials and fed that information to Wikileaks and other organizations). Binney cites evidence, which, if true, conclusively proves that Russiagate was actually created fraudulently by the CIA’s extensive evidence-tampering, which subsequently became covered-up by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in his investigations for the Democratic Party’s first (and failed) try at impeaching and removing from office U.S. President Donald J. Trump.


[..] NOTE: This news-report was submitted, in advance, to each of the following 40 mainstream news-media, offering it as an exclusive, to: ABC, BBC, CBS, FNC, NBC, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Guardian, McClatchy, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Nation, The Spectator, The New Republic, Time, The Week, Progressive, Jacobin, New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Economist, National Interest, Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, Salon, Slate, Business Insider, Politico, The Hill, The Gray Zone, The Intercept, The Daily Beast, Vice, Spiked, Bloomberg, Truthdig, Truthout, Vox, Common Dreams. None accepted it. None of them wanted their audience to see it. So, this article is now being submitted for publication, free of charge, to all English language (and a few other) news-media, simply in order to make known to as many of the public as possible, the information that it contains.

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Can you even imagine the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel cooperating with Assange today? It’s only been ten years. The narrative has (been) solidified enormously.

Ten Years Since WikiLeaks Published The Afghan War Logs (WSWS)

Last Saturday marked ten years since WikiLeaks published the Afghan war logs, a vast trove of leaked US military documents, which provided an unprecedented insight into the criminality of a war that has become the longest in American history. The documents were released, with commentary, analysis and contextual material, in partnership with the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel, some three months after WikiLeaks published “Collateral Murder,” the infamous video showing a 2007 US army massacre of civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in Iraq. Taken together, the exposures had an immense impact on popular consciousness, fortifying and deepening the mass anti-war sentiment first revealed in the huge international protests against the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Significantly, the 2010 releases by WikiLeaks followed the suppression of that movement by upper middle-class pseudo-left groups. They had increasingly dispensed with opposition to imperialist war as they supported the 2008 election of Barack Obama, and aligned with other militarist parties of the ruling elite, such as the Labor Party in Australia. The Afghan logs particularly exposed the claims of innumerable liberal pundits that the occupation of that country was the “good war,” supposedly waged to defeat terrorism, extend democracy and protect women’s rights. This they contrasted with the “failed” operation in Iraq. This dovetailed with the agenda of the new US administration. Obama’s phony anti-war posturing during the 2008 election had been accompanied by plans for a massive surge in Afghanistan.

The mythmaking was facilitated by the suppression of any information about the real situation on the ground by the US, its allies and a pliant corporate media. WikiLeaks lifted the veil on the lies, revealing a neo-colonial occupation aimed at looting natural resources and securing control of the geo-strategically critical Central Asian region. Mass civilian killings, widespread popular opposition and demoralisation within US army ranks all came to the surface, more fully than they had in the nine years since the US invasion. The publication was based on 91,000 US army logs covering the period of January 2004 to December 2009, provided to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, who had access to the material as a military intelligence analyst.

Indicating the extent of corporate media integration into the military, Manning only turned the material over to WikiLeaks after her attempts to contact the New York Times and the Washington Post were ignored. In releasing the material, WikiLeaks publisher and then editor-in-chief Julian Assange described it as “the most comprehensive history of a war ever to be published, during the course of the war.” Unlike the corporate hacks, who seek to hide their alignment with imperialist war behind a mask of impartiality, Assange was unapologetically partisan. The documents suggested thousands of war crimes, he stated, and their release would serve to shift public opinion. “The most dangerous men are those who are in charge of war. And they need to be stopped,” he said.

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“If Julian is freed and rearrested simultaneously then we will sue for false imprisonment and malicious torture..”

US Seeks To Re-Arrest Julian Assange With New Extradition Request (Sky.au)

Julian Assange’s lawyers have suggested the WikiLeaks founder may soon be re-arrested in London after a new extradition request citing the same 18 offences, according to Sky News host Brent O’Halloran. American authorities are seeking to have Mr Assange, who is currently imprisoned in England, sent to the United States to face trial for charges relating to WikiLeaks publication of troves of confidential information. The WikiLeaks organisation has published a number of classified documents detailing mistreatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees and Democratic national committee emails showing the party was trying to rig the 2016 primaries for Hillary Clinton.


His lawyers, supporters and free press advocates argue Mr Assange is being prosecuted for exposing wrongdoing and the whole case sets a dangerous precedent, Mr O’Halloran said. Mr Assange’s father, John Shipton told Sky News the prison conditions in which his son was being kept were “farcical and dire”. “If Julian is freed and rearrested simultaneously then we will sue for false imprisonment and malicious torture,” he said.

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Wonder what the Spnish judge will conclude, and what will come of it.

Former UC Global Staff Confirm Embassy Surveillance Against Julian Assange (CW)

The Spanish National Court, Audiencia Nacional, this week heard testimony from four former employees of a company that provided security services to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London when it offered sanctuary to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The court in Madrid is investigating whether Undercover Global SL and its owner, David Morales Guillén, secretly recorded meetings between Assange and his visitors during the seven years he spent in the Ecuadorian Embassy. One of the victims of the operation is the former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. Court documents show that UC Global staff secretly photographed Correa at a meeting at Spain’s Adolfo Suárez-Barajas Airport. Correa claims the mobile phones of his family were hacked.

The court is investigating whether UC Global breached the privacy rights of journalists, politicians, diplomats, doctors and celebrities who visited Assange during his stay at the Embassy. Aitor Martínez Jiménez, a member of Assange’s Spanish legal team, said the four UC Global staff had confirmed email evidence already presented to the court that detailed the surveillance operation. “They have confirmed what we had said, that the cameras recorded audios, that they kept the hard drives with the recordings, that when there were sensitive visits, they were asked for the recordings,” said Martínez Jiménez. “And they took the documentation of the people who visited Assange.”

UC Global’s spying operation came to light in April 2019 when the Spanish newspaper El País revealed that the security company that monitored Assange until 2017 had installed surveillance cameras equipped with microphones and compiled reports on hundreds of people who visited Assange during his exile.

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More high class journalism from the Guardian. it’s what we count on from them.

‘Apocalyptic’ Sky Sounds During Lockdown Baffle Experts (G.)

During the months of lockdown, people have heard and recorded strange sounds seemingly emanating from the sky. Some believe these are celestial trumpets heralding the apocalypse; there may be other explanations. The sounds – heard in the US, Mexico, Slovakia, Italy, Brazil and Argentina – do not seem to correspond to angelic heralds. Some resembled aircraft noises when there were no planes flying. A sound in Bratislava was described as “Darth Vader breathing”, while a recording from Colorado was like a shrieking whistle. Another recorded over several evenings at Lake Garda was more of a vibration. No single scientific cause has been suggested, and the wide variety points to multiple causes.


The lack of human noise during lockdown has made people more aware of background meteorological sounds, from wind to distant thunder. Refraction carries sound for long distances over lakes at night, sound previously masked by traffic and other activity. Some cases may be manifestations of the enigmatic “global hum” heard in many places previously but never satisfactorily explained. A snowball effect means that when one person reports a “new” sound, others listen out and notice it too. Many of these may not be new at all. However, any reports of hail mixed with blood and fire, may mean the celestial trumpet theory needs to be revisited.


The seven angels with seven trumpets: detail from the 11th-century Bamberg Apocalypse manuscript. Photograph: The Picture Art Collection/Alamy

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Jul 232020
 


Berenice Abbott Triple Bridge New York 1950

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

Anothe new world record.

US passes 4 million cases.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topol

Ben Hunt

 

 

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

Biden Labels Trump First Racist US President (R.)

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Quite the put-down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Fake-Shaped Russophobia (RT)

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

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


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

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The real cancel culture?!

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

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

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

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

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

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And the entire car industry.

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

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

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


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

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The Fed blows bubbles.

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

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

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


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

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Canada’s Charter of Rights.

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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empleomania

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

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

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


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

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Females can’t keep their babies alive anymore.

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

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


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

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