Nov 272020
 


Max Ernst Santa Conversazione 1921

 

Total COVID19 Cases In US May Be Eight Times Higher Than Reported (F.)
New Study Highlights Alleged Accounting Error Regarding COVID Deaths (AIER)
Want To Make Your Vax More Effective? Add A Shot Of Sputnik V (RT)
5 More Ways Joe Biden Magically Outperformed Election Norms (Fed.)
The Most Predictable Election Fraud Backlash Ever (Tracey)
Sidney Powell: Poll Workers Altered Large Numbers Of Michigan Ballots (JTN)
DC’s Corrupted Legislative Process (sundance)
Yanis Varoufakis Calls For Black Friday Boycott Of Amazon (G.)
Poland, Hungary Moving Deeper Into Isolation In EU – Senior EU Diplomat (R.)
Trump Must Pardon Snowden & Assange – Tulsi Gabbard (RT)
Assange Partner In Twitter Appeal For Trump To Issue Pardon (ES)

 

 

Close the schools?

 

 

Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch on Cuomo closing churches

 

 

“..nearly 53 million people in the U.S. had been infected with Covid-19 by the end of September.”

Total COVID19 Cases In US May Be Eight Times Higher Than Reported (F.)

The actual number of Covid-19 infections in the U.S. could be about eight times as much as the total reported cases, a model created by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated. The model published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests that nearly 53 million people in the U.S. had been infected with Covid-19 by the end of September. The estimate is around eight times higher than the 7.1 million confirmed cases that had been reported back then. The model tries to account for the fact that most cases of Covid-19 are mild and therefore go unreported. The scientists, however, warned that by the end of September, 84% of the U.S. population had not been infected and was still at risk of catching the disease.


If the trend of unreported cases still holds true as of Thursday, the U.S. — which has 12.5 million confirmed cases — could be approaching 100 million total infections across the country. In October, the World Health Organisation had said that nearly 10% of the world population or nearly 760 million people may have already been infected with Covid-19, despite the fact that only 35 million confirmed cases had been recorded as of that time. “When you count anything, you can’t count it perfectly,” Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, had said back then adding, “But I can assure you that the current numbers are likely an underestimate of the true toll of Covid.” Scientists have also suggested that deaths due to the pandemic have also been severely undercounted, with the CDC stating that the U.S. had recorded nearly 300,000 excess deaths during the pandemic as of October 3. This number was nearly 100,000 deaths more than what had been officially recorded by the states.

Read more …

“These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.”

New Study Highlights Alleged Accounting Error Regarding Covid Deaths (AIER)

It is already well established that Covid-19 is a disease that is most dangerous to those over the age of 65 and who have preexisting conditions. In the United States, there has been an observed 2.1% mortality rate, with elderly individuals making up over half that number. Young and healthy people are not by any significant capacity threatened by Covid-19. One of the most important factors when it comes to Covid-19 is preventing excess death. According to the CDC, “Estimates of excess deaths can provide information about the burden of mortality potentially related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including deaths that are directly or indirectly attributed to COVID-19. Excess deaths are typically defined as the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths in the same time periods.”

Essentially, there is an average number of deaths every year due to a variety of causes that for the most part have remained constant through the years. This includes morbidities such as heart disease, which has long been the leading cause of death, and cancer, which has long plagued our existence. For Covid-19 to be a serious cause of alarm, it would need to significantly increase the number of average deaths. However, according to the study, “These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.” Total deaths in the United States show no significant change and even mirror past trends of seasonal illness.

[..] What is even more interesting if not more alarming is that the spike in recorded Covid-19 deaths seen in 2020 has coincided with a proportional decrease in death from other diseases. Yanni Gu writes “This suggests, according to Briand, that the COVID-19 death toll is misleading. Briand believes that deaths due to heart diseases, respiratory diseases, influenza and pneumonia may instead be recategorized as being due to COVID-19.” Deaths have remained relatively constant, yet reported deaths due to deadly conditions such as heart disease have fallen while reported Covid deaths have risen. This suggests that the current Covid death count is in some capacity relabeled deaths due to other ailments. According to the graph, reported Covid deaths even overtook heart disease as the main cause of death at one point, which should raise suspicion.

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And why not?

Want To Make Your Vax More Effective? Add A Shot Of Sputnik V (RT)

Responding to the news of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab facing a new set of trials, the developers of the pioneering Russian Sputnik V vaccine have suggested combining the two vaccines to drastically improve AstraZeneca’s efficacy. The idea appeared on the official Twitter page of the Sputnik V vaccine, which is financed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), on Thursday. “We suggest trying a regimen of combining the AZ shot with the #SputnikV human adenoviral vector shot to boost efficacy,” said the message, referring to AstraZeneca’s published trial results.

The offer follows comments from AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot to Bloomberg on Thursday, who admitted the company will have to “do an additional study” before its vaccine is ready, given that its trials have resulted in varying efficacy, depending on the dose. Despite a number of unexplained inconsistencies during the trials, on Monday AstraZeneca said it would seek emergency authorization for its coronavirus vaccine. With the British-Swedish developer rushing to roll out an inoculation, RT on Wednesday compiled a list of seven questions for AstraZeneca, asking the company to dispel doubts about the safety and efficacy of its jab.

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“Joe Biden achieved the impossible. It’s interesting that many more journalists aren’t pointing that out.”

5 More Ways Joe Biden Magically Outperformed Election Norms (Fed.)

In all the excitement among objective journalists for Joe Biden’s declared victory, reporters are missing how extraordinary the Democrat’s performance was in the 2020 election. It’s not just that the former vice president is on track to become the oldest president in American history, it’s what he managed to accomplish at the polls this year. Candidate Joe Biden was so effective at animating voters in 2020 that he received a record number of votes, more than 15 million more than Barack Obama received in his re-election of 2012. Amazingly, he managed to secure victory while also losing in almost every bellwether county across the country. No presidential candidate has been capable of such electoral jujitsu until now. While Biden underperformed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 totals in every urban county in the United States, he outperformed her in the metropolitan areas of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

Even more surprising, the former VP put up a record haul of votes, despite Democrats’ general failures in local House and state legislative seats across the nation. He accomplished all this after receiving a record low share of the primary vote compared to his Republican opponent heading into the general election. Clearly, these are tremendous and unexpected achievements that would normally receive sophisticated analysis from the journalist class but have somehow gone mostly unmentioned during the celebrations at news studios in New York City and Washington, D.C. The massive national political realignment now taking place may be one source of these surprising upsets. Yet still, to have pulled so many rabbits out of his hat like this, nobody can deny that Biden is a first-rate campaigner and politician, the likes of which America has never before seen.

[..] 5. Biden Overcame Trump’s Commanding Primary Vote
In the past, primary vote totals have been remarkably accurate in predicting general election winners. Political analyst David Chapman highlighted three historical facts before the election. First, no incumbent who has received 75 percent of the total primary vote has lost re-election. Second, President Trump received 94 percent of the primary vote, which is the fourth highest of all time (higher than Dwight Eisenhower, Nixon, Clinton, or Obama). In fact, Trump is only one of five incumbents since 1912 to receive more than 90 percent of the primary vote. Third, Trump set a record for most primary votes received by an incumbent when more than 18 million people turned out for him in 2020 (the previous record, held by Bill Clinton, was half that number). For Biden to prevail in the general election, despite Trump’s historic support in the primaries, turns a century’s worth of prior election data on its head. Joe Biden achieved the impossible. It’s interesting that many more journalists aren’t pointing that out.

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“..a desperate woman screaming from a balcony at the top of her lungs, “You just gave us Hitler,” before being escorted out by police.”

The Most Predictable Election Fraud Backlash Ever (Tracey)

Anyone who was remotely sentient during the aftermath of the 2016 election should be the furthest thing from surprised that the frenzy of that period has now been replicated in the aftermath of the 2020 election, albeit with a different partisan and temperamental hue. I attended the official meeting of the Electoral College in Harrisburg, PA — December 2016 — and it was quite a mind-melting experience. Once an uneventful formality that hardly anyone except hardcore obsessives even knew was happening, the actual convening of the Electoral College had become an object of national fascination.

Protesters, egged on by Democratic-affiliated advocacy groups and frenetic social media campaigns, had shown up at the State Capitol to berate Pennsylvania’s Republican electors and demand that they not vote to certify the state’s popular vote outcome for Donald Trump — on the ground that Trump had committed “treason,” and therefore posed such a dire national security threat that centuries of precedent should be summarily thrown out the window in order to block his assumption of office. The precise nature of this alleged “treason” was seldom clarified. It sufficed that they’d been given the impression of some nebulously treasonous activity through a series of Intelligence Community leaks, dutifully laundered as always through the corporate media, which by then was in a hair-on-fire tailspin over Trump’s victory.

The bid to interfere in the Electoral College process that year, and deprive Trump of the presidency through extra-legal means, obviously failed. But it gained enough elite support along the way to be highly notable, especially given how extreme the proposed remedy was (simply ignore popular vote outcomes in various states and block Trump on the basis of CIA rumors.) Top media figures, academics, and activists like Peter Beinart, Larry Lessig, Michael Moore, Paul Krugman, and DeRay McKesson joined the haphazard putsch effort. TV stars like Martin Sheen and Bob Odenkirk recorded impassioned video pleas arguing for electors to subvert the expressed will of voters.

John Podesta, the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman whose Gmail account was reputed to have been successfully “phished” by fearsome Russian “hackers,” issued a statement demanding that electors be granted an unheard-of “intelligence briefing” — with the implication for what should be done with that “briefing” information too obvious to need stating outright. The meeting in Harrisburg concluded with the expected affirmation of Trump’s win — followed by a desperate woman screaming from a balcony at the top of her lungs, “You just gave us Hitler,” before being escorted out by police.

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Wonder what the courts are going to say. The spelling errors don’t make the cases more compelling. But this is not a spelling bee.

Sidney Powell: Poll Workers Altered Large Numbers Of Michigan Ballots (JTN)

Prominent defense attorney Sidney Powell is asking a federal court to block the certification of Michigan’s election results or void the entire election, alleging there was widespread efforts by poll workers in Detroit and elsewhere to falsify, double-count or discard ballots. “Election workers illegally forged, added, removed or otherwise altered information on ballots, the Qualified Voter File and Other Voting Records,” Powell’s lawsuit filed late Wednesday and made public on Thanksgiving Day alleged. The suit named Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the state board of canvassers as defendants, alleging they created an election system on Nov. 3 that enabled widespread fraud and violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

“Defendants’ egregious misconduct has included ignoring legislative mandates concerning mail-in ballots– including the mandate that mail-in ballots be post-marked on or before Election Day — and critically, preventing Plaintiff’s poll watchers from observing the receipt, review, opening, and tabulation of mail-in ballots,” the suit said. “It is necessary to order appropriate relief, including, but not limited to, enjoining the certification of the election results pending a full investigation and court hearing, ordering a recount of the election results, or voiding the election and ordering a new election, to remedy the fraud,” Powell wrote in a lawsuit filed late Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit and made public on Thanksgiving.

Powell’s lawsuit in Michigan carried some similar claims as one she filed at the same time in Atlanta to challenge Georgia’s results. But in the Michigan case, she offered evidence from a large number of witnesses who alleged in Wayne County and the city of Detroit tens of thousands of voting irregularities were witnessed. She charged that Detroit and Wayne County officials took actions “permitting illegal double voting by persons that had voted by absentee ballot and in person; counting ineligible ballots – and in many cases – multiple times; counting ballots without signatures, or without attempting to match signatures, and ballots without postmarks, pursuant to direct instructions from Defendants.”

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Hardly anybody knows.

DC’s Corrupted Legislative Process (sundance)

CTH often describes the background DC motives with the phrase: “There are Trillions at Stake.” Here we take a look at what that really means, and how DC politics is not quite based on the ideas that frame many reference points. With people taking notice of DC politics for the first time; and with people not as familiar with the purpose of DC politics; we end up within two different references. Perhaps it is valuable to reset the larger frames of reference and provide clarity. Most people think when they vote for a federal politician -a House or Senate representative- they are voting for a person who will go to Washington DC and write or enact legislation. This is the old-fashioned “schoolhouse rock” perspective based on decades past. There is not a single person in congress writing legislation or laws.


In modern politics not a single member of the House of Representatives or Senator writes a law, or puts pen to paper to write out a legislative construct. This simply doesn’t happen. Over the past several decades a system of constructing legislation has taken over Washington DC that more resembles a business operation than a legislative body. Understand this dynamic and you understand how politicians become multi-millionaires on much lesser salaries; and why ‘We The People’ are insignificant and annoying gnats to their business model. Here’s how it works right now. Outside groups, often called “special interest groups”, are entities that represent their interests in legislative constructs.

These groups are often representing foreign governments, Wall Street multinational corporations, banks, financial groups or businesses; or smaller groups of people with a similar connection who come together and form a larger group under an umbrella of interest specific to their affiliation. Sometimes the groups are social interest groups; activists, climate groups, environmental interests etc. The social interest groups are usually non-profit constructs who depend on the expenditures of government to sustain their cause or need. The for-profit groups (mostly business) have a purpose in Washington DC to shape policy, legislation and laws favorable to their interests. They have fully staffed offices just like any business would – only their ‘business‘ is getting legislation for their unique interests. These groups are filled with highly-paid lawyers who represent the interests of the entity and actually write laws and legislation briefs.

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Bezos just grins.

Yanis Varoufakis Calls For Black Friday Boycott Of Amazon (G.)

The economist Yanis Varoufakis has called for a one-day boycott of Amazon on Black Friday as trade unionists, environmental activists, privacy campaigners and tax justice advocates plan coordinated actions against the company’s sites and supply chain. Amazon’s success during the coronavirus pandemic – at one point the company was reported to be making sales of $11,000 (£8,200) a second – has vastly inflated its share price, increasing the personal wealth of its chief executive, Jeff Bezos, already the world’s richest man, by $70bn. Bloomberg estimates his current wealth to be $187bn. In an online video, Varoufakis asks viewers “not even to visit” Amazon’s website on Black Friday – the retail industry’s most profitable day of the year – which falls on 27 November this year.


“By boycotting Amazon you will be adding your strength to an international coalition of workers and activists,” he said. “Amazon is not a mere company. It is not merely a monopolistic mega-firm. It is far more, and far worse, than that. It is the pillar of a new techno-feudalism.” Under a banner of “make Amazon pay”, Friday’s actions are intended as the start of a campaign against the retailer’s record on workers’ rights, environmental impact, tax avoidance, work with police and immigration authorities, and what activists say are invasions of privacy via its growing range of internet-connected devices. The campaign is co-convened by Progressive International, a global initiative bringing together progressive leftwing groups, politicians and intellectuals, including Varoufakis, Prof Noam Chomsky and Bernie Sanders, and UNI Global, a trade union federation representing 20 million workers including the UK’s GMB union.

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Their voices don’t count.

Poland, Hungary Moving Deeper Into Isolation In EU – Senior EU Diplomat (R.)

Poland and Hungary are moving deeper into isolation in the 27-nation European Union by blocking the EU’s 2021-2027 budget and recovery fund needed to pull the EU out of a recession caused by the COVIOD-19 pandemic, a senior EU diplomat said on Thursday. Warsaw and Budapest have vetoed the bloc’s 1.8 trillion euro financial package for 2021-2027 because it links access to the money with an obligation to respect the rule of law. Both capitals are under EU investigation for not respecting it. Earlier on Thursday, Polish and Hungarian prime ministers jointly repeated their objection to the rule of law condition, digging in their heels as the bloc seeks to unwind the deadlock. “It is clear that there is absolutely no support for reopening the conditionality mechanism in the European Parliament or in the Council,” the senior diplomat said. “With their statement Poland and Hungary are moving deeper and deeper into isolation,” the diplomat said.

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“..please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state..”

Trump Must Pardon Snowden & Assange – Tulsi Gabbard (RT)

Outgoing Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has urged President Donald Trump to issue pardons for Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, echoing growing calls to absolve whistleblowers who helped to “expose” the US “deep state.” “Since you’re giving pardons to people, please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state,” Gabbard said in a tweet addressed to the president on Thursday, referring to Snowden and Assange. The request comes less than a day after Trump granted a pardon for former national security adviser Michael Flynn. His case became a central plank in the Trump-Russia “collusion” narrative after he was accused of misleading investigators about contacts with a Russian diplomat following Trump’s election win in 2016.

While the Justice Department moved to have the case thrown out, citing misconduct in the FBI’s probe, a federal judge resisted that effort, prompting the president to intervene on Wednesday. Gabbard, who’s set to leave office at the end of her congressional term, previously introduced a resolution alongside GOP lawmaker Matt Gaetz (Florida) urging the government to drop its charges against Snowden – who was indicted under the World War I-era Espionage Act for his role in leaking classified material revealing illegal mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). Though the antiquated law was originally intended to prosecute foreign spies, it has been repeatedly wielded against journalists and whistleblowers.

Snowden himself weighed in later on Thursday, saying he had “seen more calls for pardon this year than in all others combined.” No other issue in our time unites left, right, and center like the struggle to end governments’ abuse of mass surveillance and secrecy. The Libertarian Party echoed the message, noting that Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie has publicly backed the pardons as well, while journalist Glenn Greenwald argued that nothing would “shape Trump’s legacy” better than a reprieve for the two whistleblowers. Snowden approached Greenwald after making off with a massive trove of classified documents in 2013 while working as an NSA subcontractor under Booz Allen Hamilton. Fearing prosecution, he fled the US, hoping to secure asylum in Latin America, but was stranded in Russia after his passport was revoked by US authorities. He has remained there since, where he has been granted permanent residency status after seven years in legal limbo.

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A cousin of Assange was just freed in Iran. What Australia did for her, they should also do for Juliann.

Assange Partner In Twitter Appeal For Trump To Issue Pardon (ES)

Julian Assange’s partner has appealed to US President Donald Trump to pardon him. Stella Moris used Thanksgiving Day to issue a plea to the president after he pardoned ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn. Ms Moris made a personal plea to Mr Trump through Twitter, saying it was the only channel he seems to value. Including a picture of her and Mr Assange’s two children, she tweeted: “These are Julian’s sons Max and Gabriel. They need their father. Our family needs to be whole again. I beg you, please bring him home for Christmas.” She also said that Mr Assange was a cousin of Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer at Melbourne University who was reportedly released from an Iranian jail yesterday following two years in detention.


On Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release, she said: “Like Julian, Kylie was charged in a bogus espionage case. She was tried in secret and convicted to 10 years. She spent two years in Iran’s most notorious prisons. There has barely been news about her case, other than letters smuggled from prison. “Julian has petitioned Iran’s leaders to release her earlier this year. I told Julian the news over the phone. He wants to express his gratitude to Australian and UK diplomats for securing her freedom.” She that said that 49 inmates and 15 staff on his wing at Belmarsh prison in London had now tested positive for coronavirus, while he has tested negative. Mr Assange is reportedly been let out of quarantine since the outbreak, along with others who have tested negative. A Prison Service spokesman said: “We’ve introduced further safety measures following a number of positive cases.”

Read more …

 

 

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JFK

 

 

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Oct 242020
 


Henri Matisse Le Bonheur de Vivre 1906

 

Russian Data Reveals Diabetics Ten Times More Likely To Catch COVID19 (RT)
Kremlin Says US Elections Have Become “Competition In Russophobia” (ZH)
MSM Beat The Bidens To Declare Laptop Leak ‘Russian Disinformation’ (RT)
Millions Of Insurance Plans Were Cancelled Due To Obamacare (JTN)
FBI, GSA Undermined 2016 Transition By Sharing Private Trump Team Records (JTN)
Differences in How Democrats and Republicans Behave on Twitter (Pew)
If Trump Wins, My Profession Is Done: Pollster (RT)
Bleeding Out (Jim Kunstler)
AOC Blasts Republicans For Calling Her AOC (JTN)
YouTube Is Selling So Many Political Ads It Has Run Out Of Videos For Them (ZH)
European Data Considers Coronavirus Risk in Greece Mainly Low to Medium (GR)
Tesla, Ordered To Recall 30,000 Cars In China, Blames ‘Driver Abuse’ (LAT)

 

 

 

 

Tulsi Gabbard Daniel Ellsberg
“A whistleblower cannot get a fair trial”

 

 

What’s worse: ..coronavirus could be causing “an entirely new form of diabetes.”

Russian Data Reveals Diabetics Ten Times More Likely To Catch COVID19 (RT)

Diabetics are 10.3 times more likely to develop Covid-19, and their symptoms are more severe and life-threatening, with over a quarter of all infected patients already suffering from the illness as a pre-existing condition. That’s according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, who told officials that coronavirus is especially dangerous for those suffering with the common metabolic disorder. “In patients with diabetes, Covid-19 infection is 10.3 times more common,” Golikova explained. “Patients with diabetes experience the disease more severely, and more frequently develop acute respiratory distress syndrome, as well as respiratory failure, [requiring] artificial ventilation and, unfortunately, [experiencing] higher mortality.”


According to Golikova, 27 percent of all infected patients have diabetes among their comorbidities, and this is often complicated by increased glycemia. As of the start of 2020, 5.1 million people in Russia had a diabetes diagnosis. She noted that the risk is even higher in patients with high blood pressure. Curiously, earlier this week, American Covid-19 patient Mario Buelna experienced exactly the opposite situation – he developed diabetes for the first time, having contracted coronavirus. According to his doctors in Mesa, Arizona, Buelna’s diabetes was triggered by Covid-19. Speaking to London-based news agency Reuters, Dr. Robert Eckel, president of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association, thinks that coronavirus could be causing “an entirely new form of diabetes.”

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“..competition in Russophobia has become a constant in all US electoral processes, regrettably.”

Kremlin Says US Elections Have Become “Competition In Russophobia” (ZH)

This week’s perhaps overly dramatic announcement Wednesday night by the heads of multiple federal agencies – foremost among them Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe – alleging new major efforts by Russia and Iran to interfere in the US presidential election formed a key question and talking point by debate moderator Kristen Welker Thursday night. Welker even referenced as somehow undisputed and settled “truth” the now debunked “Russian bounties” story. Over a month ago the Pentagon and other intelligence heads concluded after an exhaustive investigation that there’s simply no evidence to suggest Russian military intelligence paid Afghan fighters to target Americans.


Russia was certainly paying attention to the debate and was not amused. The Kremlin on Friday blasted what it said was “Russophobia” at the center of the debate. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Friday that “competition in Russophobia has become a constant in all US electoral processes, regrettably.” “We are fully aware of this and can only express regret,” he added as quoted in TASS. “After all, probably, it is the American electorate who is the target audience of these debates, that is, common Americans. It is up to them to decide who won the debate, not us,” the spokesman said. Indeed the American public is by and large likely growing tired of the endless Russia scapegoating too.

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“Joe Biden is supposed to deny and deflect attention from damaging information. He’s a politician, after all – it’s his job. The press is supposed to do the exact opposite.”

MSM Beat The Bidens To Declare Laptop Leak ‘Russian Disinformation’ (RT)

It’s not the media’s job to cover for Joe Biden. Yet the New York Times and its ilk have fallen over themselves to call the damaging leaks “Russian disinformation,” while also awkwardly publishing the FBI’s denial of the claim. As President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden geared up to debate on Thursday night, the cable TV commentariat wondered how Trump would bring up the “laptop from hell.” Recovered from a Delaware repair shop last year and handed to Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, the laptop – which allegedly belonged to Joe’s son, Hunter – contained a tranche of emails that implicated the Biden family in numerous foreign graft schemes, all while Joe was in the White House.

Before the debate kicked off, the New York Times quoted the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) as saying: “No concrete evidence has emerged that the laptop contains Russian disinformation,” and the FBI as seconding this claim. For the Times, it was a dramatic turnaround. Just days earlier, before the FBI and DNI could weigh in, a headline in the nation’s paper of record read, “Is the Trump campaign colluding with Russia again?” Quoting only a Senate Democrat, the Times alleged that Giuliani had been cultivated as an “asset” by the Kremlin, and “any information proffered by Rudy Giuliani is likely compromised.” The Washington Post sang from the same hymn sheet, using the usual anonymous “former officials” to tie Giuliani to Russia.

Even before the media settled on Russia as the culprit, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough called the scandal “made up” and a “hokey story,” while NBC’s Hallie Jackson described it as “dubious” and “questionably sourced.” As the Times and Post rang the Russia alarm last week, neither the FBI nor DNI had commented on the laptop. DNI John Ratcliffe would do so on Monday, and the FBI followed suit a day later. In fact, as these articles hit the presses, the only people who had fingered Russia for the stunt were a collection of Biden’s aides and advisors, who gave no evidence to support their claims. The Biden campaign itself didn’t embrace the Russia excuse until several days later. It’s one thing to cover a candidate sympathetically. It’s another to work as his preemptive press corps. Joe Biden is supposed to deny and deflect attention from damaging information. He’s a politician, after all – it’s his job. The press is supposed to do the exact opposite.

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But Biden can make the claim uncontested that number is zero.

Millions Of Insurance Plans Were Cancelled Due To Obamacare (JTN)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said during Thursday night’s debate that nobody lost their health insurance plans when Obamacare was fully implemented, but millions of individuals had their insurance policies cancelled at the time. A RAND Corporation study estimated that 5.9 million people lost their insurance plans due to Obamacare’s rules and regulations. Obamacare is the 2010 health care law crafted by former President Obama, for whom Biden served as vice president for both of his terms. Obama was heavily criticized at the time for telling Americans that if “you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” which turned out not to be the case. Politifact rated Obama’s promise the “lie of the year” in 2013.

Trump and Biden each were asked Thursday night how they would handle health care policy if the Supreme Court invalidates Obamacare’s individual mandate in the upcoming California v. Texas case. “What I’m going to do is pass Obamacare with a public option. It will become Bidencare. The public option says in fact if you do not have the wherewithal, if you qualify for Medicaid and you do not have the wherewithal in your state to get Medicaid, you’re automatically enrolled, providing competition for insurance companies,” Biden said. Biden rejected the idea that he wants to eliminate private insurance. “Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare. They did not lose their insurance unless they chose they wanted to go to something else,” he said.

In response, Trump said Biden’s health care plan would amount to socialized medicine, given that the federal government would run the public option.

Bernie Biden

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This is the most severe of all. This is also why they complain in advance about Trump not doing a peaceful transition. Because they themselves did not.

FBI, GSA Undermined 2016 Transition By Sharing Private Trump Team Records (JTN)

A Senate report released today claims that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the General Services Administration undermined the Trump transition team in 2016 by sharing private Trump team records in violation of an agreement between that team and the GSA. The majority staff report from both the Senate Committee on Finance and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs claims that officials from both the FBI and Mueller’s office “secretly sought and received access to the private records of Donald J. Trump’s presidential transition team, Trump for America, Inc.”

“They did so,” the report continues, “despite the terms of a memorandum of understanding between the Trump transition team and the General Services Administration…—the executive agency responsible for providing services to both candidates’ transition teams—that those records were the transition team’s private property that would not be retained at the conclusion of the transition.” The report states that officials at the GSA proactively called the FBI and offered to retain Trump transition team records following the controversy surrounding Michael Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser in early 2017. The agency informed neither the White House nor Trump for America of that decision. Those records would eventually make their way to Mueller’s office, the report says.

“At bottom,” the report continues, “the GSA and the FBI undermined the transition process by preserving Trump transition team records contrary to the terms of the memorandum of understanding, hiding that fact from the Trump transition team, and refusing to provide the team with copies of its own records.” “These actions have called into question the GSA’s role as a neutral service provider, and those doubts have consequences,” the report adds. “Future presidential transition teams must have confidence that their use of government resources and facilities for internal communications and deliberations—including key decisions such as nominations, staffing, and significant policy changes—will not expose them to exploitation by third parties, including political opponents.”

Amanda Milius The Plot Against the President

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And guess who gets censored?

Differences in How Democrats and Republicans Behave on Twitter (Pew)

Most U.S. adults on Twitter post only rarely. But a small share of highly active users, most of whom are Democrats, produce the vast majority of tweets. The Center’s analysis finds that just 10% of users produced 92% of all tweets from U.S. adults since last November, and that 69% of these highly prolific users identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents. A number of factors contribute to this phenomenon. Previous Twitter analyses by the Center have found that the platform contains a larger share of Democrats than Republicans. And in addition to being more prevalent on the site in general, the 10% most active Democrats typically produce roughly twice as many tweets in a month (157) as the 10% most active Republicans (79).

Across both parties, those who use Twitter differ in several ways compared with non-users. For instance, Twitter-using Democrats and Republicans alike tend to be younger and have higher levels of educational attainment compared with members of each party who do not use the platform. Although nearly identical shares of Republican Twitter users (60%) and non-users (62%) describe themselves as very or somewhat conservative, Democrats who use Twitter tend to be more liberal than non-users. Some 60% of Democrats on Twitter describe their political leanings as liberal (with 24% saying they are “very” liberal), compared with 43% among those who are not Twitter users (only 12% of whom say they are very liberal).

Beyond posting volume, Democrats and Republicans also differ from each other in their actual behaviors on the platform. For instance, the two accounts followed by the largest share of U.S. adults are much more likely to be followed by users from one party than the other. Former President Barack Obama (@BarackObama) is followed by 42% of Democrats but just 12% of Republicans, while President Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump) is followed by 35% of Republicans and just 13% of Democrats. Many other popular accounts are followed primarily by those who identify as either Democrat or Republican. However, a small number of the most-followed accounts on Twitter (mostly popular celebrities or entertainers) are followed by similar shares of U.S. adults belonging to each party.

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I don’t think so. If it didn’t happen in 2016, why would it now?

If Trump Wins, My Profession Is Done: Pollster (RT)

Polling guru Frank Luntz has admitted that if Donald Trump wins re-election, his “profession is done.” Though polls show Joe Biden in the lead, Luntz and his colleagues are hedging their bets and preparing to be shocked… again Democratic candidate Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump by up to 10 points nationwide. Yet polls can be wrong, and for all the talk of a Biden “landslide” in the media, Trump’s supporters likely remember 2016, when their candidate pulled off a shock victory against Hillary Clinton, despite being given only a seven percent chance of winning by the New York Times two weeks before election day. Should Trump once again dispatch his Democratic challenger, the polling industry is finished, Republican pollster Frank Luntz told Fox News on Thursday.

“Well, I hate to acknowledge it, because that’s my industry,” he told Fox anchor Bret Baier. “But the public will have no faith. No confidence. If Donald Trump surprises people… my profession is done.” Luntz insists that his polling is accurate this time, and that Biden will win. However, undecided voters may be leaning toward Trump. As the two men faced off in the final presidential debate in Tennessee on Thursday night, Luntz organized a focus group of undecided voters. After the showdown, a majority of these voters were leaning toward backing Trump. They described him as “controlled,” “poised,” and “surprisingly presidential,” while Biden was thought of as “vague,” “elusive,” and “defensive.”

Luntz is a longtime critic of Trump, and a recently released email – found on Hunter Biden’s now-infamous laptop – apparently showed him massaging his predictions in favor of Biden back in 2012, when the then-VP was debating Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan. Luntz appeared to confirm the email’s authenticity in a tweet, but denied it was any kind of bombshell, saying he’s known the Biden family since the 1990s. However, if a Biden-friendly pollster, backed by his latest focus group, is publicly opening the door to a potential Trump victory, the election gurus may not be as confident in their figures as they let on.

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“Is Hillary ironing her purple pantsuit up in Chappaqua, awaiting the emergency call from her DNC?”

Bleeding Out (Jim Kunstler)

“The difference between you and me,” Mr. Trump said to the ever more ghostly Joe Biden, fading mentally late in the action on the debate stage, “is that I’m not a politician and you are, and you’re a crooked politician.” Millions watching this spectacle might not have noticed, due to the media’s near-complete blackout of news detailing the Biden family’s adventures in systematic global moneygrubbing, but the Democratic candidate for president has political Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever of credibility, now gushing out of every pore and orifice.

Twitter and Facebook may try to squelch the story, but the evidence is all over the Internet now, like blood on a crime scene, in verifiable emails, texts, Snapchats, memoranda, and bank records that Ol’ White Joe Biden is at the center of a decades-long influence-peddling spree, selling his personal services to China, Russia, Ukraine, and any other country seeking favors in US government policy, and that this slime-trail of grift disqualifies him from holding high office as much as the irreversible rot of his cognitive abilities.

The “Laptop from Hell” affair has twelve more days to play out before the November 3 vote and the Democratic Party is in a terrible jam. Do they ask Mr. Biden to step aside, or do they keep running with him while the barrage of allegations and hard evidence pours down on them like so many mortar rounds on a besieged bunker? It’s obvious now that one way or another, voters are actually being asked to elect Kamala Harris president — but who asked for her? Only the disgraced and disabled head of the ticket, Joe Biden, desperate for a non-white running mate. Elsewise, she was so disliked by voters that she skulked out of the Iowa caucuses, ending her own run. Is Hillary ironing her purple pantsuit up in Chappaqua, awaiting the emergency call from her DNC?

The early 2020 impeachment gambit has finally blown up in the Democrats’ faces, too, as it’s now obvious the phony furor over Mr. Trump’s phone call to Ukraine President Zelensky was ginned up to smother any inquiry into Hunter Biden’s $83,000-a-month services to the Burisma gas company and its crooked chief, Mykola Zlochevsky, with help from then US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and several of her staff, as well as then Secretary of State John Kerry.

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On to more important matters.

AOC Blasts Republicans For Calling Her AOC (JTN)

Her name is a mouthful, so Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became AOC. In fact, she calls herself AOC. “Team AOC is hiring!” she wrote on Twitter in August, for instance. But the first-term Democratic Socialist from New York bristles when Republicans call her AOC, as President Trump did during Thursday night’s debate with Joe Biden. “I wonder if Republicans understand how much they advertise their disrespect of women in debates when they consistently call women members of Congress by nicknames or first names while using titles & last names when referring to men of = stature. Women notice. It conveys a lot,” she wrote on Twitter.

“AOC is a name given to me by community & the people. Y’all can call me AOC. Government colleagues referring to each other in a public or professional context (aka who don’t know me like that) should refer to their peers as ‘Congresswoman,’ ‘Representative,’ etc. Basic respect 101,” she added. Twitterers pointed out that President Trump calls nearly all of his opponents, regardless of gender, by nicknames — some not so nice. Trump calls Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) “Pocahontas” for her false claims that’s she’s Native American. He calls Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Democrat who falsely claimed to have fought in the Vietnam War, “Da Nang Dick.” Jeb Bush was, of course, “Low Energy Jeb.” Then there’s “Crooked Hillary,” “Lyin’ Leakin’James Comey,” “Jeff Flakey,” “Head Clown Chuck Schumer,” and “Mad Maxine Waters.”

So AOC isn’t all that bad, is it? “You do this all the time, referring to ‘Trump’ or ‘Pence,'” Fee Online contributor Brad Polumbo wrote on Twitter. “Just *stop* with the endless self-victimization. It’s pathetic and tiring.” “Yes, names like Crying Chuck Schumer and Crazy Bernie are super sexist,” wrote another. In fact, AOC has another nickname for her and three colleagues — “The Squad,” which includes Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Ilhan Omar, (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). That’s who Trump referred to in Thursday’s debate. “They know nothing about the climate,” Trump said, referring to AOC’s “New Green Deal” environmental plan. “I mean, she’s got a good line of stuff, but she knows nothing about the climate. And they’re all hopping through hoops for AOC plus three. Look, their real plan costs $100 trillion.”

And one Twitterer pointed out that AOC isn’t even a nickname: “AOC is not a nickname, they’re your initials. JFK is also not a nickname. The FBI, again, is not a nickname. You can maybe say that Trump should’ve still used your official title, but Obama was also referenced sans title, and you don’t see him whining about it on Twitter …”

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“..commercial ads have been “anemic”..”

YouTube Is Selling So Many Political Ads It Has Run Out Of Videos For Them (ZH)

While social media makes its best attempt at trying to get Joe Biden elected by censoring stories about his son, YouTube is facing another dilemma: the platform is so inundated with political ads it has nowhere to put them. As advertising campaigns flood the platform, YouTube has “struggled” to place the ads in front of the desired audience for each, according to Bloomberg. Interestingly enough, YouTube is experiencing the shortage most in “critical swing states”, where ad prices have doubled as a result. This, obviously, makes political advertising far more lucrative for Google, who saw ad revenue fall this year and will announcing its earnings next week.

Cat Stern, media director for Lockwood Strategy Lab, a digital campaign agency focused on Democratic candidates and progressive advocacy organizations, told Bloomberg: “There’s a crunch. All political advertisers are buying in the same states, to similar audiences.” YouTube viewers have risen during the pandemic and while commercial ads have been “anemic”, political ads have spiked heading into November 3. In highest demand are the ads that users aren’t allowed to skip through. There are also ad “reservations” for YouTube’s most popular videos that are in high demand. Reid Vineis, vice president of digital at Majority Strategies, a Republican political ad firm, said: “The reserves tend to be gobbled up by well-funded campaigns.”

While this occurs, other less-well-funded campaigns have turned to platforms like Hulu and Roku to run their ads. Some states, like Iowa, are usually entirely sold out on YouTube. Tim Cameron, co-founder of FlexPoint Media, said: “A lot of late money that’s coming on board — it’s difficult to find anywhere to put it.” At some points, YouTube has been unable to place up to 75% of the amounts that people are willing to spend. YouTube didn’t comment for Bloomberg’s article, but the article notes that a “code yellow” was assigned to Google’s staff regarding the inability to place ads, meaning Google was increasing the resources it was deploying to try and solve the issue.

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We have a mask mandate now. And a curfew.

European Data Considers Coronavirus Risk in Greece Mainly Low to Medium (GR)

According to data released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on Friday, much of Greece is at a “low” or “medium” risk level for Covid-19. The ECDC records the epidemiological burden across Europe, and classifies either entire countries or regions, depending on their coronavirus risk level. Unlike much of Europe, excluding areas of Central and Northern Europe, which is considered high-risk, much of Greece is at low or medium risk. The regions of Attica, Central Greece, Macedonia, Epirus, are at medium risk, and areas of Central Macedonia belong to the high-risk category. Southern Greece, Eastern Macedonia, and Thrace are all considered very low risk areas.


All European countries, except for Greece, Cyprus, Finland, Estonia, Liechtenstein and Norway, which are considered “stable” by the ECDC, are in a situation of “great epidemiological concern” in terms of the virus. Although the stable countries may report an increase in cases, like Greece, they are still considered to have a relatively low risk level for young and healthy citizens. Older people and those who belong to vulnerable groups in these stable countries are still considered to be of high risk, however. Despite their stable designations, the situation regarding Covid-19 in the six countries should be carefully monitored, as the virus can spread quickly, increasing the countries’ risk level, according to the authorities.

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Best business model: always blame your customers.

Tesla, Ordered To Recall 30,000 Cars In China, Blames ‘Driver Abuse’ (LAT)

Tesla Model S and Model X owners have complained about potentially dangerous flaws with suspension systems at least since 2015. On Friday, the Chinese government took action — and the company responded by blaming the country’s drivers. China’s State Administration for Market Regulation ordered a recall for about 30,000 Model S and Model X vehicles manufactured at Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., plant and exported to China. The affected cars were built from 2013 to 2017. Model S and Model X vehicles sold in the U.S. and Europe were built at the same factory using the same suspension systems. More than 250,000 were sold worldwide. The traffic safety regulator for the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said Friday afternoon it is “aware of the Tesla recall due to suspension problems in China.


At this time, the agency has not received significant complaints related to these issues in the United States. The agency is in contact with Tesla and monitoring the situation closely, and will not hesitate to take action to protect the public against unreasonable risks to safety.” A spokesman declined to say what marks a complaint as significant. [..] in a letter sent by a Tesla attorney to NHTSA on Sept. 4, the company blamed Chinese drivers for the problem, said there was no safety issue, and said it didn’t plan to issue a recall outside China.Tesla owners at the Tesla Motors Club forum have been complaining about suspension issues since at least 2015, complaints that continue to this day. Many report that a ball joint connected to a control arm comes loose.

Read more …

 

 

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“Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter.”

Richard Feynman

 

 

Emotions Trump

 

 

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Oct 052020
 


Leonardo da Vinci A Copse of Trees 1508

 

President Trump Could Be Discharged From Walter Reed On Monday (JTN)
Largest COVID19 Contact Tracing Study: Children Key To Spread (Princeton)
Why Are Dems Praying for Speedy Recovery of a “Fascist Dictator”? (Greenwald)
Supreme Court To Commence New Term On Monday (JTN)
Amazon Reveals Over 20,000 Employees Likely Contracted COVID (MPN)
The DNC Hired CrowdStrike To Frame Russia For The Hack (Farnan)
Joe Biden Defense Of His Son’s Business Deals Conflicts With Evidence (JTN)
Pompeo’s Visit To Greece, Cyprus Prompted By Turkey’s S-400s (K.)
GOP Reps Join Tulsi Gabbard In Push To Drop US Assange, Snowden Charges (WT)

 

 

I see thirty days of more hysterical clickbaiting in your future. Trump’s trip outside Walter Reed may not have been risk-free, but you need to steamroller over his entire medical team at the hospital, and claim they are irresponsible frauds or something like that, to turn it into the murderous rampage that the MSM make it.

Here’s a bit of humor about it from Twitter. Please lighten up a little.

 

 

Motorcade

 

 

US national security

 

 

Seek Help

 

 

 

 

Oh, no, much too early! Those doctors are crazy!

President Trump Could Be Discharged From Walter Reed On Monday (JTN)

President Trump could be discharged from Walter Reed Medical Center to finish his COVID-19 treatment from the White House, a doctor announced during a press conference on Sunday. “In response to transient low oxygen levels as Dr. Conley has discussed, we did initiate dexamethasone therapy and he received his first dose of that yesterday. And our plan is to continue that for the time being,” that doctor said. President Trump’s physician Dr. Sean Conley expressed that he wished to “reiterate how pleased we all are with the president’s recovery.” Conley explained that on Friday morning when the president’s “oxygen saturation was transiently dipping below 94 percent,” he suggested that the president take oxygen.


“He was fairly adamant that he didn’t need it. He was not short of breath. He was tired, had the fever, and that was about it,” Conley explained, noting that following approximately a minute of oxygen the president’s levels had risen and that the president remained on the oxygen for around one hour. Conley also said that the president’s oxygen level on Saturday dipped but eventually rose. He noted that the president is not experiencing shortness of breath.

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Again, a new viewpoint.

Largest COVID19 Contact Tracing Study: Children Key To Spread (Princeton)

A study of more than a half-million people in India who were exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 suggests that the virus’ continued spread is driven by only a small percentage of those who become infected. Furthermore, children and young adults were found to be potentially much more important to transmitting the virus — especially within households — than previous studies have identified, according to a paper by researchers from the United States and India published Sept. 30 in the journal Science.

Researchers from the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Berkeley, worked with public health officials in the southeast Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to track the infection pathways and mortality rate of 575,071 individuals who were exposed to 84,965 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. It is the largest contact tracing study — which is the process of identifying people who came into contact with an infected person — conducted in the world for any disease.

Lead researcher Ramanan Laxminarayan, a senior research scholar in PEI, said that the paper is the first large study to capture the extraordinary extent to which SARS-CoV-2 hinges on “superspreading,” in which a small percentage of the infected population passes the virus on to more people. The researchers found that 71% of infected individuals did not infect any of their contacts, while a mere 8% of infected individuals accounted for 60% of new infections. “Our study presents the largest empirical demonstration of superspreading that we are aware of in any infectious disease,” Laxminarayan said. “Superspreading events are the rule rather than the exception when one is looking at the spread of COVID-19, both in India and likely in all affected places.”

The findings provide extensive insight into the spread and deadliness of COVID-19 in countries such as India — which has experienced more than 96,000 deaths from the disease — that have a high incidence of resource-limited populations, the researchers reported. They found that coronavirus-related deaths in India occurred, on average, six days after hospitalization compared to an average of 13 days in the United States. Also, deaths from coronavirus in India have been concentrated among people aged 50-64, which is slightly younger than the 60-plus at-risk population in the United States.

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“..their behavior upon hearing that someone they claim to regard as a genocidal racist fascist tyrant has contracted a fatal virus is extremely unusual..”

Why Are Dems Praying for Speedy Recovery of a “Fascist Dictator”? (Greenwald)

The typical reaction to the death of a tyrant — whether by revolutionary violence or natural causes — is not one of grief and sadness but joyous celebration. It is not hard to understand why: when a nation and its oppressed citizenry are finally liberated from the suffocating, savage grip of fascist dictatorship, they feel joy for themselves, their families and the future of their nation. Yet in the U.S., a radically different dynamic is playing out. Over the past several years, but particularly in the months heading into the 2020 election, it has become extremely common for prominent Democrats and their media allies to refer to President Trump as a dictator, a fascist, a tyrant hellbent on destroying U.S. democracy, a genocidal racist, and even a Nazi.

And yet, the overwhelming reaction in those mainstream precincts to the news that the fascist dictator has contracted a potentially lethal virus is to hope and pray that he makes a speedy recovery whereby he can resume his democracy-destroying, genocidal, tyrannical, fascist rule. In March of last year, as CNN put it, “two powerful House Democrats invoked Adolf Hitler’s actions in Germany and the treatment of Jews during World War I and in the 1920s to warn against the direction the US is moving in, with both saying Donald Trump’s presidency presents an unprecedented threat to democracy.” One of the Democratic lawmakers who explicitly invoked Nazism and Hitler as the proper prism to understand Trump’s rule was House Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina.

Just two months ago, Clyburn went back on CNN and warned that Trump was preparing to hold despotic power even if he loses, pronouncing: “I feel very strongly that he is Mussolini, Putin is Hitler.” Yet when Clyburn learned this week that our modern-day Hitler who is on the precipice of ending democracy had contracted a fatal virus, he did not celebrate but instead, for some reason, lamented the news, wishing “the First Family a speedy and complete recovery.” Why would you possibly wish a speedy recovery — rather than a quick demise — to someone you believe is a Hitler-like perpetrator of genocide whose recovery would enable fascism to continue? That seems counter-intuitive and counter-productive.

MSNBC star Rachel Maddow [..] has notoriously spent the last four years manically obsessed with the claim that Trump has such a corrupt relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin that it is the Kremlin, thanks to Trump, which secretly runs the U.S. and is using that power to plot harm to large numbers of Americans by, for instance, seizing the power to cut off their heat in the dead of winter. Maddow was explicitly linking Trump to classic fascism as early as 2015. Yet upon learning that the fascist, Kremlin-controlled, Nazi-like dictator had become ill, Maddow launched a one-woman crusade demanding that her fellow liberals pray earnestly for his recovery. She first posted an extremely effusive tweet: “God bless the president and the first lady. If you pray, please pray for their speedy and complete recovery…”

[..] Whatever else is true, their behavior upon hearing that someone they claim to regard as a genocidal racist fascist tyrant has contracted a fatal virus is extremely unusual when compared to how people throughout history react when learning of similar news. It is worth interrogating what accounts for such a baffling dynamic.

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Fireworks.

Supreme Court To Commence New Term On Monday (JTN)

The Supreme Court on Monday will commence a new term with just eight justices following September death of the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, though the void could soon be filled if Senate Republicans confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the high court. Barrett’s confirmation would mark the third Trump appointee to the nine-member court during the president’s less than four years occupying the Oval Office. The Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 . Though the first vacancy arose during President Barack Obama’s tenure, Senate Republicans declined to consider the Democratic president’s nominee Merrick Garland. Then-candidate Trump made the presidential power to appoint Supreme Court nominees a central argument to voters during the 2016 election.


Barrett’s addition to the court would likely provide a significant conservative advantage, allowing the conservative justices to decide cases 5-4 even if the George W. Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts were to side with the court’s three liberal justices. The new term will get underway remotely as the court continues to conduct business via phone amid the coronavirus pandemic, as it began doing at the conclusion of the last term, according to the Associated Press. The public will be able to to hear arguments live. The wire service reported that the cases during the coming two weeks were slated for last spring but were delayed due to the high court shutting down for a period because of the coronavirus. [..] The Supreme Court could play a key role after the Nov. 3 general election if it decides to hear voting-related cases. A dramatic expansion on short notice of mail-in balloting in this cycle is expected to precipitate a flood of election litigation.

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“Bezos has seen his net wealth grow by over $73 billion since lockdown began on March 18..”

Amazon Reveals Over 20,000 Employees Likely Contracted COVID (MPN)

It announced the figure in the middle of a public relations statement detailing the measures it was taking to try to keep its employees safe from the virus. The company presented itself as a proactive and responsible business. “As part of this commitment, we’ve decided to publicly share the COVID-19 infection rates among Amazon front-line employees—something few if any companies and no other major retailers have done,” noted its blog post. It also claimed to be carrying out thousands of tests a day on its staff and noted that, despite the large figure of 19,816 cases, that represented a smaller percentage of positive tests than the general population.

However, Amazon did not include any of its third-party delivery contractors in the figures, who number in the many tens of thousands, at least. Nor was there any confirmation on the number of deaths. Amazon also called on other big companies to do as it had done. “We hope sharing this data and our learnings will encourage others to follow, and will prove useful as states make decisions about reopening public facilities and employers consider whether and how to bring people back to work,” they said. “Wide availability of data would allow us to benchmark our progress and share best practices across businesses and industries.”

Yet Amazon’s move may not be as bold and forward-thinking as it might first appear. The company had been widely condemned for its secrecy and refusal to release figures. On Wednesday, NBC News reported that half a million of its employees had begun to crowdsource that same information in order to build up a database to keep themselves safer. Employees also condemned the company for keeping them in the dark about co-worker infections and their lack of response to the pandemic, which included crowding hundreds of people into recreation rooms, thereby exposing them to increased risk.

[..] A lack of funds is certainly not an excuse for the online retail giant, whose business has expanded into supermarkets, cloud computing, and streaming services. The company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, became the world’s richest individual late last year, surpassing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Bezos has seen his net wealth grow by over $73 billion since lockdown began on March 18 and now stands at over $186 billion. That means that, on average, he has added $370 million to his wealth every day of the pandemic.

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“The following is an exclusive excerpt from The Russia Lie that tells the amazing story in detail..”

The DNC Hired CrowdStrike To Frame Russia For The Hack (Farnan)

U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe recently declassified information indicating the CIA obtained intelligence in 2016 that the Russians believed the Clinton campaign was trying to falsely associate Russia with the so-called hack of DNC computers. CIA Director John Brennan shared the intelligence with President Obama. They knew, in other words, that the DNC was conducting false Russian flag operation against the Trump campaign. The following is an exclusive excerpt from The Russia Lie that tells the amazing story in detail:

On March 19, 2016, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, surrendered his emails to an unknown entity in a “spear phishing” scam. This has been called a “hack,” but it was not. Instead, it was the sort of flim-flam hustle that happens to gullible dupes on the internet. The content of the emails was beyond embarrassing. They showed election fraud and coordination with the media against the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. The DNC and the Clinton campaign needed a cover story. Blaming Russia would be a handy way to deal with the Podesta emails. There was already an existing Russia operation that could easily be retrofitted to this purpose. The problem was that it was nearly impossible to identify the perpetrator in a phishing scheme using computer forensic tools. The only way to associate Putin with the emails was circumstantially.

The DNC retained a company that called itself “CrowdStrike” to provide assistance. CrowdStrike’s chief technology officer and co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is an anti-Putin, Russian expat and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. With the Atlantic Council in 2016, all roads led to Ukraine. The Atlantic Council’s list of significant contributors includes Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk. The Ukrainian energy company that was paying millions to an entity that was funneling large amounts to Hunter Biden months after he was discharged from the US Navy for drug use, Burisma, also appears prominently on the Atlantic Council’s donor list. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Western puppet installed in Ukraine, visited the Atlantic Council’s Washington offices to make a speech weeks after the coup.

Pinchuk was also a big donor (between $10 million and $20 million) to the Clinton Foundation. Back in ’15, the Wall Street Journal published an investigative piece, “Clinton Charity Tapped Foreign Friends.” The piece was about how Ukraine was attempting to influence Clinton by making huge donations through Pinchuk. Foreign interference, anyone? On June 12, 2016, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced: “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton . . . We have emails pending publication.” Two days later, CrowdStrike fed the Washington Post a story, headlined, “Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump.” The improbable tale was that the Russians had hacked the DNC computer servers and got away with some opposition research on Trump. The article quoted Alperovitch of CrowdStrike and the Atlantic Council.

Read more …

Like late night comedy refusing the accept the gift the Biden is to their work, the press leave him alone too. It’s the same thing. Journalism it is not.

Joe Biden Defense Of His Son’s Business Deals Conflicts With Evidence (JTN)

During one of the many sharp exchanges at last week’s presidential debate, Joe Biden flat out denied his son Hunter had any business relationship with the Russian oligarch Yelena Baturina, the billionaire wife of the late Moscow mayor. “Why is it, just out of curiosity, the mayor of Moscow’s wife gave your son three and a half million dollars?” President Trump asked during one flash point. “That is not true,” Biden answered. “Oh really, he didn’t get three and a half million?” Trump persisted a few second later. “It’s totally discredited,” the former vice president snapped back. “Totally discredited.” In fact, Biden’s answer directly conflicts with evidence that the U.S. Senate, the FBI and the U.S. Treasury Department have all gathered.

In their most recent investigative report on Ukraine corruption, the Senate Finance and Homeland Security committees disclosed that Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) that the Treasury Department turned over to Senate investigators show a direct link between Hunter Biden and Baturina. “Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow,” the Senate report declared, identifying a firm that the younger Biden and his business partner Devon Archer had created in 2013 as the recipient of the 2014 payment. “On Feb. 14, 2014, Baturina wired $3.5 million to a Rosemont Seneca Thornton LLC (Rosemont Seneca Thornton) bank account for a ‘Consultancy Agreement DD12.02.2014.'” the Senate report said. “Rosemont Seneca Thornton is an investment firm co-founded by Hunter Biden that was incorporated on May 28, 2013 in Wilmington, Del.

According to The Financial Times, Rosemont Seneca Thornton is a consortium that consists of Rosemont Seneca Partners and the Thornton Group, a Massachusetts-based firm.” The consulting payment was not only flagged because of its source. Its timing was also suspicious for its proximity to unfolding events in Eastern Europe. The payment was made four days before the Maidan revolution successfully ousted Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s Russian-friendly president, and less than two weeks before Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces to invade Ukraine’s Crimea region and annex it. The Treasury reports showed 11 more transactions flowing from Baturina to entities tied to Hunter Biden in 2015.

“Between May 6, 2015 and Dec. 8, 2015, Baturina sent 11 wires in the amount of $391,968.21 to a bank account belonging to BAK USA LLC. Nine of the 11 transactions, totaling $241,797.14 were sent from Baturina’s accounts to a Rosemont Seneca Thornton bank account, which then transferred the money to BAK USA,” the Senate report noted.

Read more …

Turkey’s main threat today may well be in Nagorno-Karabach.

Pompeo’s Visit To Greece, Cyprus Prompted By Turkey’s S-400s (K.)

The indications that Turkey activated the radars of its Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft systems in order to detect US-made Greek F-16 fighter jets on their return from the Eunomia exercise on August 27 off Cyprus apparently sounded the alarm in Washington about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and reportedly prompted the visits by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Cyprus on September 12 and Greece on September 27-29. The visits highlight how Ankara’s procurement of the S-400s is irking Washington, which has threatened to impose sanctions if the Russian system is activated. According to reports from a section of the Turkish opposition media, a general test of the S-400 systems is planned by Ankara near Sinop on the Black Sea.


Regardless of the decisions that Ankara will take regarding its air defense, last week’s three-day visit by Pompeo, which took him to Thessaloniki and the Souda base on Crete, was seen as very significant. The permanent mooring of the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams at the Souda facility is a strong indication of the US intent to substantially strengthen its presence on the island. The support of a 106,000-ton displacement ship capable of carrying helicopters, UAVs and other systems requires significant changes to the base. The US has been supporting Greece in an ongoing effort since 2016 to further bolster the capabilities of the navy base on Souda.

Read more …

Tulsi has balls.

GOP Reps Join Tulsi Gabbard In Push To Drop US Assange, Snowden Charges (WT)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, has gained support from Republican colleagues in calling for the U.S. government to abandon its criminal cases against Julian Assange and Edward J. Snowden. Along with Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican, she introduced a resolution Friday urging the U.S. to drop all charges and efforts to extradite Mr. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, joined the Democrat days earlier by co-sponsoring a similar resolution asking the U.S. to drop its case against Mr. Snowden, who is also wanted for leaking. Mr. Assange, who launched the WikiLeaks website in 2006, and Mr. Snowden, a former intelligence contractor, each face criminal charges in separate cases related to leaking classified information.


Both men have been charged in federal court in Alexandria, Va., with violating the U.S. Espionage Act, and they face the possibility of hefty prison sentences if put on trial and convicted. Ms. Gabbard, who unsuccessfully sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, argued that Mr. Assange and Mr. Snowden each played a part in exposing government wrongdoing and should be spared. WikiLeaks “published information that exposed lies and abuses of power at the highest levels,” said Ms. Gabbard; Mr. Snowden “bravely expos[ed] massive illegal government surveillance,” she said.

Read more …

 

 

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Failure-proof is achievable; failure-free is not.
– Nassim Taleb

 

 

Assange superpower

 

 

Carl Sagan Are you a socialist?

 

 

 

 

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Oct 032020
 


René Magritte Le Cri du Coeur 1960

 

Trump Checks Into Walter Reed Medical Center As Precaution For COVID19 (JTN)
From Gloating To Tears (LA Times)
CNN Thrills With Airing Of Secret Taping of First Lady (Turley)
Just Before Obama Left Office, US Officials Feared Burisma Paid 2nd Bribe (JTN)
Media Willfully Ignore Hunter Biden Scandal (Hemingway)
Michigan Supreme Court Rules Governor Exceeded Her Lockdown Powers (CT)
40% of Seoul Residents Have Mental Health Issues Due To COVID19 (KT)
Why Is The Assange Case Unloved By The Media? (Crikey)
Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Massie Call For Charges Against Assange To Be Dropped

 

 

Europe is getting out of control.

 

 

This made me laugh so hard. The Trump campaign should turn it into a TV ad and play it 100 times a day.

 

 

Seems a bit more than just precaution.

Trump is taking Regeneron’s experimental polyclonan antibody cocktail, zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin, a daily aspirin, and Remdesivir. But no HCQ.

Trump Checks Into Walter Reed Medical Center As Precaution For COVID19 (JTN)

President Trump is being transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center roughly eighteen hours after he announced that he and the First Lady had tested positive for COVID-19, the White House said in a statement. The president was seen departing the White House late Friday afternoon, wearing a suit and a face covering while walking to an awaiting helicopter on the South Lawn. “Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the President will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement late Friday afternoon.


The president “remains in good spirts, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day,” she added. The president received an experimental antibiotic “cocktail” after his diagnosis with COVID-19, White House physician Sean Conley said earlier in the day. In a memorandum released on Friday afternoon, Conley said Trump had received “a single 8 gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonan antibody cocktail.” He is also taking “zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin,” Conley added. “As of this afternoon the President remains fatigued but in good spirits,” Conley continued, stating that the president is “being evaluated by a team of experts.”

Read more …

So many people on Twitter wished for Trump to die that the company issued a statement saying such Tweets will be removed. In other words, as someone also tweeted, Twitter will have a busy weekend.

From Gloating To Tears (LA Times)

In Atlanta, property appraiser Leslie Sublett cried as she discussed his diagnosis with co-workers, suspicious that it was a lie to minimize the pandemic and to manipulate the battle around the election and the U.S. Supreme Court. Sublett, a 50-year-old Democrat, could not shake the feeling that the United States was collapsing. “I’ve had it up to here,” she said, raising her hand above her head. “If we can’t depend on the basic tenets of our democracy, we’re Rome in the end stages. We will cease to be. Gosh, it sounds so dark and terrible, but that’s what I’m crying over.” In Lake Charles, La., Republican Kevin Lavergne was anxious too — not about the pandemic, which he still believes is exaggerated, but about election security, the U.S. Postal Service and the economy, especially since Hurricane Laura devastated his town in August.

“People are losing their lives, committing suicide because of the stress,” said Lavergne, 48, a construction worker who’s been unemployed since the pandemic effectively shut down the local economy. “If we don’t have it up and running and people making money, how are we going to survive?” The president’s diagnosis came as the coronavirus continued its relentless spread, as did protests over police brutality and complaints of voter suppression and election fraud. Americans across the political spectrum were unnerved and grappling with more upheavals than they have since marches over civil rights and the Vietnam War decades ago.

“We used to call the 1960s tumultuous. The ’20s are looking to be a nation unspooling. We’re losing the threads of our democracy, busting apart,” said professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “It’s been probably the hardest American year since 1968. It’s been one day of bad news after another.” Concern about whether free and fair elections are possible is particularly acute, he said, especially after the first debate between Trump and Joe Biden this week devolved into “a grotesque carnival.” “As a country, we’ve had hard times before,” Brinkley said, but now America feels divided along party lines as they wage a “neo-civil war.” “Everybody is spinning and there’s a kind of depression and our traditional optimism is gone,” he said.

Read more …

How this can be turned into another scandal is beyond me. Melania “bashed” Christmas Decorations! Details at 8! She tried to help the children, but was told she couldn’t. She gets upset that the press question her but not the Obama’s. That’s was she’s addressing when she says “Give me a f****** break.” That Obama separated children too. But by cutting it off there, they can make it look like she doesn’t care about the children.

“OK, and then I do it and I say that I’m working on Christmas and planning for the Christmas and they said, ‘Oh, what about the children that they were separated?’ Give me a f****** break. Where they were saying anything when Obama did that? I can not go, I was trying get the kid reunited with the mom. I didn’t have a chance — needs to go through the process and through the law.””

CNN Thrills With Airing Of Secret Taping of First Lady (Turley)

Years ago, American politics left all notion of decency behind in our age of rage. That was evident when the media and liberals celebrated the disgraceful conduct of Maryanne Trump betraying her aunt’s confidence in secretly recording her talking about her brother. The same people reveled in the unethical conduct of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen who not only secretly recorded his client, President Donald Trump, but has been violating any notion of confidentiality in pushing his own tell all book. Now, CNN’s Anderson Cooper has been reduced to shilling for Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the former assistant and friend of Melania Trump who secretly recorded their confidential chats and is now selling a book by playing embarrassing snip bits.

What is incredible about these people is that, while currying favors as false friends or counsels, they were actively taping people who trusted them in case they wanted to later cash in on their access. In the latest example, CNN ran an entirely valueless significant in primetime to simply show the First Lady swearing and complaining about Christmas obligations. Melania “bashed” Christmas Decorations! Details at 8! This used to be the network of figures like Bernard Shaw. As Melania Trump unburdened herself to her friend, Wolkoff kept recording and hoping for something juicy. What she got was this line “I’m working… my ass off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff and decorations? But I need to do it, right?”

That thrilled Anderson Cooper, who once would have become physically ill at the notion of running such ill-gotten tripe. Instead, he exclaims “Talk about a war on Christmas! It’s funny that she would be leading that.” Talk about a war on journalism! CNN is now trafficking in material that would make the National Inquirer blush. By the way . . . funny? Is that the most descriptive term for this story. What about pursuing the utter betrayal and dishonesty shown by Wolkoff in setting up a friend and boss? There is nothing “funny” about CNN leading with this type of matter, of course. The most newsworthy aspect of this story was the one largely untouched: the despicable level of dishonesty that motivates this type of banking of secret recordings by people like Wolkoff.

It is the very reason that viewers are abandoning the network and media has plummeted in polling in terms of perceived accuracy and honesty. I still view Cooper as an insightful and intelligent journalist but this is an example of how corrupting the current environment has become for many. There is a new sense of an absolute license to engage in any attack or distort any fact for the greater good. Indeed, we now have leading journalism professors denouncing the very concept of objectivity in journalism.

Read more …

The usual suspects: Yovanovich, Victoria Nuland. And both Bidens. Note how the mood and message changed the moment Obama left.

Just Before Obama Left Office, US Officials Feared Burisma Paid 2nd Bribe (JTN)

Twenty-two days before President Obama left office, the U.S. ambassador to Kiev wrote top officials in Washington that she feared Burisma Holdings had made a second bribe to Ukrainian officials — shortly before a corruption probe against Hunter Biden’s natural gas employer was abruptly closed before Donald Trump took office. The concerns are detailed in new memos belatedly released to Just the News under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department. The suit was brought on behalf of the news organization by the public interest law firm the Southeastern Legal Foundation.

Then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s concerns were first raised in a Ukrainian news story about a Russian-backed fugitive lawmaker in Ukraine, who alleged Burisma had dumped low-priced natural gas into the market for officials near Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to buy low and sell high, making a bribe disguised as a profit. The scheme was confirmed by U.S. officials before Yovanovitch alerted the top State official for Ukraine and Russia policy in Washington at the time, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, the memos show. “There are accusations that Burisma allegedly had a subsidiary dump natural gas as a way to pay bribes,” Yovanovitch wrote Nuland on Dec. 29, 2016, noting the story “mentions that Hunter Biden and former Polish President Kwasniewski are on the Burisma Board.”

The alert was the second in two years in which the embassy alleged Burisma had paid a bribe while Vice President Joe Biden’s son served on its board. Back in February 2015, then-embassy official George Kent reported to the U.S. Justice Department evidence that Burisma had made a $7 million cash bribe to Ukrainian prosecutors before those prosecutors killed a separate corruption probe in the United Kingdom by failing to produce required evidence. The second alleged bribe in December 2016 was brought to the attention of Yovanovitch and Kent, then a top aide to the ambassador, shortly after the Christmas holiday when a story appeared in the Ukrainian press. “Lots of accusations/innuendo,” Yovanovitch was told in an email. “Mentions Biden’s son and Kwasniewski are on board of Burisma, which allegedly had a subsidiary dump natural gas recently as a way to pay bribes to P2 inner circle.”

P2 was the shorthand State officials in the U.S. embassy in Kiev used to refer to Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, who was close to Vice President Biden. Because the allegations were first raised by Oleksander Onyschenko, a fugitive in Ukraine who was tied to Russian sources, as well as Radical Party Leader Oleg Lyashko, embassy officials checked them out and confirmed them before telling Nuland. “The dumping part is true,” the embassy’s deputy economic counselor wrote Yovanovitch a few hours after the story surfaced and before Nuland was alerted. The official told the ambassador a major Ukrainian figure close to Poroshenko was “photographed meeting with [Burisma founder Mykola] Zlochevsky in a Vienna restaurant over the weekend, and Zlochevsky may have handed over a suitcase. You can’t make this up.”

Read more …

He shall not be named has also not been seen in ages.

Media Willfully Ignore Hunter Biden Scandal (Hemingway)

Last week, a Senate Intelligence Committee report detailed how the son of a major presidential candidate, who has an extensive history of shady foreign business dealings, received a $3.5-million wire transfer from the wife of a Russian politician. The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and most major media outlets didn’t cover the story at all. Four years ago, not reporting such a story was a possibility too absurd to even contemplate – but then again, no one would have predicted the candidate with the shady Russia ties is not Donald Trump, but Joe Biden. People often talk about how Trump is responsible for destroying political norms, and that’s a valid concern.

However, one of the truly frightening things about the Trump era is how institutions have exploited a perceived crisis in truth-telling to justify abandoning their own standards by blaming it on Trump. Increasingly, we see major stories break where the media establishment decides on a collective omertà because the story undermines its own credibility or might sway voters in directions it doesn’t approve of. When that happens, no news is good news. The problem with hiding the truth is that you can’t suppress it forever, let alone a week, in this news environment. After the initial blackout, we are finally starting to see some coverage of Hunter Biden’s suspect wire transfer – but only after Trump himself raised the issue in the recent presidential debate and forced the media’s hand. The little coverage the issue has received is instructive, and not in a good way.

When Trump raised the issue at the debate, Joe Biden responded by saying the claim was “Totally discredited. Totally discredited.” Given that it’s a direct allegation in a government document and Biden is flatly denying it, you’d think this would be a perfect opportunity for the media to dig in and sort out the truth of the claim. Instead, they have essentially punted on the issue. According to PolitiFact, which refused to rate the claim either true or false, the facts are in dispute because “Biden’s lawyer says he did not co-found the partnership [that received the money] and had no stake in it,” and “Democrats say they reviewed the Republicans’ documentation but did not find a specific link to Hunter Biden.”

[..] So why does the Senate intel committee report that Biden was a “co-founder” of the firm in question? Well, one clue might be that committee members read it in the media. A lengthy New Yorker profile of Hunter Biden from last year, which clearly had extensive cooperation from the Biden team, reported the following: “In June, 2009, five months after Joe Biden became Vice-President, Hunter co-founded a second company, Rosemont Seneca Partners, with Christopher Heinz, Senator John Kerry’s stepson.” That was 15 months ago. For the Biden camp to be disputing this key fact now seems awfully convenient. Further, in that same magazine article, Hunter Biden admits to taking an $80,000 bribe from a Communist Chinese Party-connected tycoon, in the form of a 2.8-carat diamond delivered to his hotel room.

[..] For Joe Biden to tell the American people this accusation is “totally discredited,” when the media hadn’t even touched the story, well, honest fact-checkers would tell it like it is: Joe Biden stood up in front of tens of millions of Americans on Tuesday night and told a self-serving lie – a lie that would have been called a four-alarm trouser conflagration if Trump had said it.

Devin Nunes

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“..the governor is obligated to terminate the state of emergency or state of disaster after 28 days..”

Michigan Supreme Court Rules Governor Exceeded Her Lockdown Powers (CT)

The supreme court in Michigan has ruled that Governor Gretchen Whitmer exceeded her constitutional authority under state law in the arbitrary enforcement of her unilateral decrees to mitigate the COVID-19 virus. [pdf here] As the court wrote in the opinion rebuking the governor: “The people of this state have been denied a voice and a seat at the table in decisions that have impacted every facet of their lives and their futures over the past eight months. They deserve to have their representatives bring their voice and their concerns into this decision-making process.”

At the heart of the governor’s legal argument was a 1945 law allowing the governor to declare a state of disaster or emergency if she finds one to exist and it remains in place for 28 days, unless the Legislature extends it. The legislature did not extend the declaration, yet the governor continued to restrict the citizens without any representative voice. “MICHIGAN – […] In the 4-3 ruling, the court determined the governor did not have the authority under state law to issue any additional emergency declarations pertaining to the pandemic after April 30. That was the last date when the legislature allowed the governor to declare an emergency. “The governor’s declaration of a state of emergency or state of disaster may only endure for 28 days absent legislative approval of an extension. So, if the Legislature does nothing, as it did here, the governor is obligated to terminate the state of emergency or state of disaster after 28 days,” said the majority opinion, written by Judge Stephen Markman.

[…] “Put simply, and our criticism is not of the Governor in this regard but of the statute in dispute — almost certainly, no individual in the history of this state has ever been vested with as much concentrated and standardless power to regulate the lives of our people, free of the inconvenience of having to act in accord with other accountable branches of government and free of any need to subject her decisions to the ordinary interplay of our system of separated powers and checks and balances, with even the ending date of this exercise of power reposing exclusively in her own judgment and discretion,” the majority wrote.

Read more …

People need people. Quelle surprise.

40% of Seoul Residents Have Mental Health Issues Due To COVID19 (KT)

The prolonged coronavirus pandemic has seen the mental health of Seoul citizens deteriorate more than their physical health, according to a recent survey by Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG). According to the survey results released on Monday, 1,489 of 3,983 respondents -almost 40%- said their mental health has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic, whereas 22 percent felt it has worsened their physical health. A total of 3,983 Seoul residents aged between 10 and 90 took part in the survey. The poll, organized in cooperation with IBM, was conducted via chatbots.

The main reasons offered for declining mental health were refraining from outdoor activities under social distancing measures, economic hardship, discomfort from wearing face masks, overall lethargy in daily routine, and the absence of human interaction. The survey also revealed that people feel more stressed about isolation than unemployment or decreased income. One third of the respondents stated that restricted leisure activities including travel bans were the main reason for mental stress. It was followed by lack of social interaction, chosen by 26 percent, followed by job loss or pay cuts, which was selected by 24 percent of respondents. “It is normal for people to easily become depressed when they lack physical activity, as physical and mental health are deeply connected.

Engaging in indoor activities such as home workouts or yoga will help,” said Lee Dong-gui, a professor of psychology at Yonsei University. “As COVID-19 has become a part of our daily lives, it may be better for our brains to view the pandemic as a marathon and prepare for it, rather than hoping it will soon come to an end,” advised Lee. Regarding the government’s social distancing measures, a vast majority -92%- consider the measures necessary and effective in containing the spread of the virus..

Read more …

View from his homeland.

Why Is The Assange Case Unloved By The Media? (Crikey)

A former employee of a Spanish security firm has told Julian Assange’s extradition hearing of a plan to abduct and even poison the Australian as part of a widespread surveillance operation said to have been ordered by an associate of US President Donald Trump. This revelation, concerning an Australian citizen who is facing 175 years in jail on espionage charges, made it to page 23 of The Sydney Morning Herald. In The Australian, it was given a small corner on page nine in the world news section, beneath a page of analysis on the first presidential debate. Yet the story would appear to have everything. Witnesses fearful for their lives alleging a conspiracy, tangentially involving the US president, to poison or kidnap a significant Australian figure.


Reports on the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexander Navalny, allegedly by the Russian government, got higher billing than Assange in the SMH (on top of an opinion piece declaring Navalny a hero). This is typical of the coverage of the Assange case. You can’t accuse the mainstream media of exactly ignoring the case, but it generally comes “mid-paper” (in print and online). It’s just another thing that’s happening in the world. But isn’t the trial of a Walkley award winner a case about press freedom? Compare this to the blanket front page coverage that followed the Right to Know campaign, where mainstream media outlets talked about the impediments they themselves regularly encounter on account of national security laws they otherwise cheer on.

Read more …

Go Tulsi!

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Massie Call For Charges Against Assange To Be Dropped

Today, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Thomas Massie (KY-04) introduced H.Res.1175, a resolution that defends the freedom of the press, noting that newsgathering activities and news organizations ability to acquire and publish information are protected under the First Amendment. The resolution calls for the United States to drop all charges and efforts to extradite Julian Assange.

“Freedom of the press is a vital function of a free democracy in which the government is accountable to the people. Julian Assange published information that exposed lies and abuses of power at the highest levels of our government. His indictment under the Espionage Act sends a chilling message to every member of the media and all Americans,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “U.S. government prosecutors now claim that any journalist or news organization that publishes classified material is liable to prosecution under the Espionage Act — which would have led to the indictment of the Washington Post for the publication of the Pentagon Papers. The Federal government’s prosecution of Julian Assange sets a dangerous precedent. All extradition efforts and charges under the Espionage Act against Julian Assange must be dropped now.”

“At a time when government officials claim the right to perform warrantless surveillance upon all American citizens, there is an urgent need to zealously guard freedom of the press and to demand government transparency and accountability. The ongoing attempts to prosecute Julian Assange threaten our First Amendment rights, and should be opposed by all who wish to safeguard our constitutional rights now and in the years to come. I join my colleague, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, in calling for an immediate end to all charges against Mr. Assange,” said Rep. Thomas Massie.

Read more …

 

 

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Sep 202020
 


Robert Capa Capucine, French model and actress, in her hotel room, Rome 1951

 

Ginsburg Death Opens Complex Partisan Chessboard (JTN)
Picking RBG’s Successor: The Who, The When, & The Hypocrisy (ZH)
Trump Says Supreme Court Pick Will ‘Most Likely’ Be A Woman (JTN)
Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Deter Mail-in Ballot Fraud (RT)
Bringing a Bazooka to a Knife Fight (Kunstler)
COVID May Have Already Peaked In Many African Countries (G.)
Masks Help Bring Down COVID19 Cases: Governors, State Health Officials (NBC)
Governments Will Impose New Lockdowns If They Can Get Away With It (McKaken)
How The Stock Market Got To Be So Out Of Touch With Reality (Stockman)
Glenn Greenwald On Why Mainstream Media Is Ignoring Assange Trial (ZH)
Stephen F. Cohen, Leading American Russia Expert, Dies At 81 (RT)
Trump as New Cold War Heretic (Stephen F. Cohen)

 

 

Holland is the first place I’ve seen that anounces fast testing. Second was France?!. In November… They have their experts look at 5 different options. Better late than never, but I do wonder if they do it only because their PCR testing is so screwed up. And still I doubt they will allow people to fast-test themselves at home. Which they should.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assange Clinton ISIS

 

 

If Trump nominates a black woman, wouldn’t that seal the deal right there and then?

You watch and read through all the statements everyone’s making, and you know they can all easily convince themselves the other side is 100% wrong.

Ginsburg Death Opens Complex Partisan Chessboard (JTN)

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opens a complex partisan chessboard, with competing political calculations affecting the timeline of decision points by President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). A key decision is whether Trump and McConnell should push to get a nominee approved by the Senate prior to the Nov. 3 presidential election, a move that could serve as a polarizing catalyst to motivate both Democratic and Republican party bases. Polls show Trump has long maintained a strong edge over rival candidate Joe Biden in party enthusiasm, with thousands of Trump supporters lining up to attend lively rallies at airports, while Biden gatherings are far smaller and more subdued.

Another compelling possibility is whether balloting delays and disputes due to COVID-19 could result in an unclear presidential victor, kicking the outcome to the Supreme Court, just as in the nail-biter 2000 high court ruling in favor of Republican George W. Bush. “You had to know 2020 was going to end with an election that could be decided by a Supreme Court capable of a split 4-4 decision,” Catholic University professor C.C. Pecknold said on Twitter Friday night. The possibility of the Supreme Court stepping in to decide the election creates an added sense of urgency for Trump and McConnell to seat the nominee as quickly as possible. “She was an amazing woman,” President Trump said Friday night after learning about Ginsburg’s death just moments after stepping off the stage at a campaign event in Minnesota.


“Whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. I’m saddened to hear that.” President Trump on Wednesday announced an updated list of Supreme Court nominees ahead of the 2020 election, adding nearly two dozen more possible justices to his list from 2016. Amy Coney Barrett, a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, is considered a leading candidate to replace Ginsburg. Axios political journalist Jonathan Swan noted that he reported in 2019 that during his deliberations over the Kennedy vacancy, Trump told confidants he was “saving her [Coney Barrett] for Ginsburg.”

Obama SCOTUS

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“A total of 61 SCOTUS justices have been nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court since the turn of the last century (1900) 70% of these (43 Justices) were confirmed in *under 46 days*..”

Picking RBG’s Successor: The Who, The When, & The Hypocrisy (ZH)

The political battles over who will succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Supreme Court Justice have already begun with some demanding delays, some pushing urgency, others urging more radicalism, and all of this being super-amplified by every mainstream and social media feed, happy to use any old piece of fake news to make their point ever louder, and fearmonger the consequences of “the other side” getting to make their choice. First things first is the Hypocrisy – Obama/Biden Can’t Make Up Their Minds. Former president Obama has called for a delay in the decision until after the election (which presumably he believes Harris – and Biden – will win). All of which is very awkward since it’s 100% the opposite of what he himself said in 2016…

“”When there is a vacancy on the SCOTUS, the President is to nominate someone, the Senate is to consider that nomination… There’s no unwritten law that says that it can only be done on off-years. That’s not in the Constitution text.” Obama in 2016: “I’m going to do my job. I’m going to nominate somebody… It’s not as if the Senate calendar is so full that we do not have time to get this done.” JoeBiden in 2016: “I would go forward with a confirmation process as chairman, even a few months before a presidential election, if the nominee were chosen with the advice, and not merely the consent, of the Senate, just as the Constitution requires.” So, Obama calls for a delay (in 2020); Biden says that would be unconstitutional (in 2016)! And President Trump agrees with Biden:

“We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!” [..] Second, there is the When – Rush Job… or Business As Usual? The mainstream media is already claiming that any nomination process would be a rush now… “The Senate would need to move faster than usual to confirm a nominee before the election 45 days from now. The average time from nomination to Senate vote – after vetting and hearings – is 69.6 days, or about 2.3 months, according to a 2018 report from the Congressional Research Service.”

However, there appears to be something wrong with their math as Undercover Huber (@JohnWHuber) detailed in a tweet-thread: “A total of 61 SCOTUS justices have been nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court since the turn of the last century (1900) 70% of these (43 Justices) were confirmed in *under 46 days* (the amount of time remaining until the Nov 3 Presidential election)”

Read more …

But Amy Coney Barrett ain’t black!

Trump Says Supreme Court Pick Will ‘Most Likely’ Be A Woman (JTN)

President Trump indicated Saturday that he likely select a female nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Ginsburg. “I could see most likely it would be a woman,” he told reporters at the White House on Saturday. The president earlier in the day made clear his intention to get a Supreme Court nominee confirmed to the high court to replace Ginsburg, arguing he and fellow Republicans “have this obligation, without delay!” Ginsburg died Friday from complications from cancer. She was 87. Her death immediately created a high-stakes partisan standoff about whether Trump should get to replace Ginsburg, with just 45 days before Election Day, or allow the winner of his presidential race with Democrat Joe Biden to nominate a replacement. Biden himself has pledged to nominate a black woman to the court during his term.


“We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!” Trump tweeted Saturday morning. Republicans now control the Senate, in which a nominee is confirmed. However, the GOP is in jeopardy of losing its Senate majority with several races considered a tossup. The GOP has 53 member in the Senate and Democrats have 47 including including two independents.

AOC Ginsburg

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They’re going to throw her out.

Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Deter Mail-in Ballot Fraud (RT)

Former Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, branded a “Russian asset” by Hillary Clinton for her anti-war views, is again refusing to blindly follow her party’s talking points – this time over fears of election fraud. “Whether in the midst of a pandemic, as we are now, where mail-in voting is likely to drastically increase, or even in a normal election, no one should get in between a voter and the ballot box,” the Hawaii congresswoman said Friday on Twitter. Gabbard joined Thursday with Illinois Republican Congressman Rodney Davis to introduce a bill that would block federal funding to states that allow ballot harvesting – letting paid activists canvass neighborhoods to gather mail-ballots and turn them in on behalf of voters. There have been documented abuses with ballot harvesting, including a North Carolina case that led to an election being nullified and redone.

But Gabbard is running afoul of the Democratic Party’s position on election fraud. The Democrat-controlled House has blocked all efforts to ban ballot harvesting, while party leaders and their mainstream media allies have argued repeatedly that major voter fraud is a myth and that President Donald Trump’s attacks on the susceptibility of mail-in voting to foul play are unfounded. Gabbard directly contradicted that message in her tweet, saying ballot harvesting is “ripe for fraud and poses a serious threat to the integrity of our elections.” She added that abuse “is something we’ve actually seen happen in recent elections.” The stakes are high since a huge increase in absentee and mail-in voting is expected to occur this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Gabbard has a history of offending Democrats with unauthorized positions, such as when she embarrassed a party favorite, Senator Kamala Harris, in a presidential primary debate last year, by reminding voters of her record as prosecutor. Last December, the congresswoman voted ‘present’ on both articles of impeachment against Trump. She was out of step again earlier this month, joining conservatives in blasting Netflix for streaming the controversial movie ‘Cuties’, which she called “child porn.” That indiscretion led to her being smeared as a QAnon conspiracy theorist by activist Melissa Ryan. And as in the case of Gabbard’s attack on Netflix, she’s again winning praise from Republicans, this time for her position on ballot harvesting. Conservative author Helena Morrissey called Gabbard “a talented and nuanced politician stopped in her tracks because she doesn’t follow the narrative.” Commentator Blaire White said Gabbard was “the only Dem candidate that mattered.”

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“..that is, if it is actually racist as its leadership claims it to be…”

Bringing a Bazooka to a Knife Fight (Kunstler)

You heard it here first: Joe Biden will call in “sick” to the presidential candidates’ debate on Tuesday, September 29, and within days the Democratic Party will be obliged to replace him. Enough said for now. Wait for it…. Onto the election issue du jour: putting out ideological fires set by political arsonists: namely, the “systemic racism” hustle cooked up by “progressive” anarcho-terrorists to provoke hatred and division in a nation sore beset by propaganda, psy-ops, and seditious subterfuge — not to mention Covid-19 and economic collapse, as if those were not enough. This week, President Trump released an executive order halting all federal agency in-service training programs purporting to address “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” “unconscious bias,” and other hobgoblins of Wokesterism, a scam that has become a multimillion-dollar consulting racket funded by taxpayers.

Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget, sent a memo to executive branch agency heads directing them to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any “propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.” When the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attempted to defy the order and go forward with training to “examine the mechanisms of “systemic racism, white supremacist ideology, and systems of structured inequality,” Mr. Vought had to remind the agency to cancel it. So it goes with “the Resistance.”

One consulting outfit, CAST (the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking) has received $16-million from the Department of Education. At its August 2020 conference, attendees (including DOE staff) were told the United States has a “racial contract” that “says it’s okay for white people to kill blacks with immunity [sic]” (Did they mean impunity?). They also advocated abolishing prisons. The DOE press secretary says it’s investigating. God knows what kind of swamp creatures lie embedded in the lower mudbanks of that agency, but at the top, at least, the department is cleaning up its act. DOE Secretary Betsy DeVos took aggressive action days ago after Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber sent out an open letter to “the Princeton community” stating that “racism and the damage it does to people of color persist at Princeton” and that “racist assumptions” are “embedded in structures of the University itself.”

Okay, it being the case that Princeton officially claims to be a “racist” institution, the DOE has opened an investigation into Title VI violations under US Civil Rights law so as to recover the $75-million in federal funding Princeton has received since Mr. Eisgruber became president of the institution in 2013. Seems fair, dontcha think? The DOE has required Princeton to produce electronic records of every conceivable type — memoranda, emails, calendars, text messages, telephone logs, you name it — in order to determine whether Princeton has made false representation of its compliance with civil rights law — that is, if it is actually racist as its leadership claims it to be.

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More mystery.

COVID May Have Already Peaked In Many African Countries (G.)

The coronavirus pandemic has peaked earlier than expected in many African countries, confounding early predictions, experts have told MPs. Scientists do not yet know why, but one hypothesis is the possibility of people having pre-existing immunity to Covid-19, caused by exposure to other infections. Prof Francesco Checchi, a specialist in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told MPs it was “broadly” true that coronavirus had not behaved in expected ways in African countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan and Somalia. “We are certainly observing a pattern that confounds us a little,” he told the UK’s international development committee’s inquiry into the impact of Covid on humanitarian crises. “In a few important case studies – Kenya, for example – what seems to be happening is the epidemic may be peaking earlier than our naive models predicted.”

He said a similar pattern has emerged in Yemen, which is in the middle of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. “Yemen is one of the few countries where to my knowledge there is almost no prevention of Covid transmission,” Checchi said. “The anecdotal reports we’re getting inside Yemen are pretty consistent that the epidemic has, quote unquote, passed. “There was a peak in May, June across Yemen, where hospitalisation facilities were being overwhelmed. That is no longer the case.” It was possible that the population had accrued some sort of “herd immunity” at least temporarily, he said. While that was “very good news”, Checchi said he was unable to say whether it had been less lethal or less severe on a per capita basis. In many developing countries, where testing is poor and deaths are not notified to the authorities, the rate of reported deaths is very low.

A study published on Tuesday from Imperial College London estimated that in Damascus, Syria, reported deaths from coronavirus were as low as 1.25% of the true figure. Checchi and his team are examining satellite images of graveyards in Aden, in the south of Yemen, and early results point to “considerable mortality with a peak in May in that city”. He said there could be up to a million cases in Yemen, based on one data modelling run. He and colleagues are now looking at explanations for the earlier than predicted peak in some low-income countries. “These range from the effect of age, to some sort of role for pre-existing immunity to pre-exposure to other infections, to other hypotheses. It isn’t a simple analysis.”

On Tuesday, a special envoy to the World Health Organization warned that the world was still at the “beginning” of the pandemic. Prof Azra Ghani, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, told MPs: “We know deaths are being underreported. We are starting to look at other sources of data, for instance media reports of funerals, to try to get a better handle on it.” The percentage of reported deaths varies from country to country, she said, and determining how the epidemic behaves was vital to answer questions about how countries can recover. “If infections have swept through and if there is a degree of immunity, then it would be possible for those economies to open up a little, but more safely, than if populations were quite naive to infections.”

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Don’t know if it’s shoddy reporting or shoddy regulations, but “mask orders” or “mask mandates” are not terms anyone should use. After 9 months, it’s all turned into oppression.

Masks Help Bring Down COVID19 Cases: Governors, State Health Officials (NBC)

There are still many Americans who resist, protest against and rant about wearing face masks. But state and county health officials across the country say the stark drop in Covid-19 case counts in their communities before and after mask orders were imposed clearly show how effective they can be in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey announced a statewide mandatory mask order on July 16. Since then, the state saw a significant drop in daily Covid-19 cases, with numbers peaking above 2,000 toward the end of July and hovering over a 1,000 a month later. And now, cases have plummeted to 574 a day.

“The mask absolutely played a very important role and we really have had no other significant limitations or interventions other than the mask,” Dr. Scott Harris, state health officer at the Alabama Department of Public Health, told NBC News this week. Indiana currently has one of the lowest coronavirus transmission rates in the U.S., a significant result of the statewide mask orders, Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday. “I don’t want that lost on anyone that what we’re doing is working,” Holcomb said during a briefing. “Masks work. Physical distancing works. And the number don’t lie.” With no federal mandate, 34 governors have ordered statewide mask mandates. Others have left the decision to county officials.


This week, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds described wearing a mask a “feel-good” act. But Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called them “the most powerful public health tool” against the coronavirus. “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine,” Redfield said at a Senate hearing Wednesday. South Carolina has no statewide mask requirements, leaving 11 jurisdictions with mask mandates and 61 without. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s latest findings, from mid-August, report that communities with mask mandates saw a drop of 34 cases per 100,000 people for the four weeks after the requirements were implemented, compared to before the orders took effect. In the same period, jurisdictions without mask requirements saw a rise of 24 cases per 100,000 people.

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Governments and “Experts” have run out of options. Because rapid testing, HCQ, zinq, vitamin D and N95 masks were all ignored. But they won’t “get away with it”, those days are gone.

Governments Will Impose New Lockdowns If They Can Get Away With It (McKaken)

Although they’re slowly backing off on full lockdowns for now, governments have been very careful to maintain that they retain the power to reimpose them—including full-on strict and ruthless lockdown—at any time. In some areas, this has already been done, such as in southern Australia and in New Zealand. In the state of Victoria in Australia, for instance, residents in recent weeks have been subject to strict curfews and even road closures preventing them from traveling more than a few miles form their homes. Those who dissent—such as a pregnant mother who was arrested for merely discussing an upcoming protest—are brutalized. Meanwhile, military personnel enforce martial law, dragging people from their cars and demanding they show their “papers.”

China continues to impose regional and partial lockdowns. Belgium, meanwhile, insists it may yet still impose “total lockdown.” Back in July, the UK’s Boris Johnson told the nation’s residents to follow the social distancing rules now or face harsher lockdowns in the future. Last week Johnson’s government announced strict new social distancing rules, prohibiting any gatherings of more than six people in most cases. Nor have American politicians abandoned these newfound powers. In Utah, which did not impose a lockdown in March or April, the authorities are still threatening a possible future “complete shutdown.” Governors in states including Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York, and Michigan have all threatened new lockdowns if the residents don’t do as they’re told.

(Only two governors, to my knowledge, have said they will not impose future lockdowns. Earlier this month, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida vowed “we will never do any of these lockdowns again,” and Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota, which has never imposed a lockdown at all, has also said lockdowns are not on the table.) In many cases politicians have substituted face masks and targeted lockdowns (of bars and nightclubs, etc.) in lieu of full stay-at-home orders. This limits public dissent by limiting the number of businesses and industries where people are thrown out of work and business owners are effectively robbed of their property. Fewer destitute or jobless voters likely translates into less active dissent.

This permanent embrace of emergency power is to be expected. Governments have long used crises as an excuse to expand government power, often with the glowing approval of the electorate. After the end of World War II, for example, the party platform of the British Labour Party explicitly sought to extend wartime economic planning indefinitely. The idea was that central planning had won the war and now it would “win the peace.” This meant a host of boards and commissions that would control everything from farming to housing. But that’s just one example. As Robert Higgs has shown in his book Crisis and Leviathan, using wars and other crises to permanently expand state power is just standard operating procedure for countless regimes. It’s what governments do.

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Fed.

How The Stock Market Got To Be So Out Of Touch With Reality (Stockman)

Both ends of the Acela Corridor have lost their marbles. This year, Uncle Sam borrowed $4 trillion in six months, the Fed printed $3 trillion in three months, and Wall Street drove the S&P 500 to 52X reported LTM earnings in the context of a deeper economic plunge than occurred in the worst quarter of the 1930s. Therefore, Washington has become disconnected from any semblance of fidelity to sound money and fiscal rectitude, while Wall Street has turned into an outright casino, valuing stocks based on endless Fed liquidity injections and the delusion that momentum chasing is an investment strategy. With respect to the rampant folly in the Imperial City, Treasury Secretary Stevie Mnuchin has always reminded us of Alfred E. Neuman of “Me Worry?” fame at Mad Magazine.

Recently, he more than earned that moniker when, in the context of the current monetary and fiscal lunacy, he proclaimed that, “Now is not the time to worry about shrinking the deficit or shrinking the Fed balance sheet.” That was the so-called Conservative Party speaking, and it is a shrill reminder that the Trumpified GOP has gone utterly AWOL when it comes to its true job in American democracy, namely, resisting the Government Party (Dems) and its affinity for feeding the Leviathan on the Potomac. That is to say, according to even the Keynesian deficit apologists at the CBO, Uncle Sam will spend $6.6 trillion during the current fiscal year (FY 2020) while collecting only $3.3 trillion in revenue. That’s Banana Republic stuff—borrowing 50% of every dollar spent.


Yet the advisory ranks of the potentially incoming Kamala Harris regency are even worse. They are loaded with “deficits don’t matter” ideologues and MMT crackpots who noisily argue that massive monetization of the public debt is not just a virtue, but utterly imperative. Needless to say, this bipartisan commitment to all-in stimulus is financial catnip to the Wall Street gamblers because they are actually capitalizing into today’s nosebleed stock prices, not the present drastically impaired economy on Main Street but a pro forma simulacrum of future prosperity based on the delusional presumption that massive debt and money-pumping actually create economic growth and wealth.

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Both left and right saw themselves exposed by Assange.

Glenn Greenwald On Why Mainstream Media Is Ignoring Assange Trial (ZH)

Well-known journalist Glenn Greenwald has once again sparked intense debate on the Left by refusing to conform to any level of group-think. On Friday he mused about the ongoing Julian Assange extradition trial in London, offering an explanation as to why mainstream US media has seemingly dropped Assange from its radar, despite during the early years of the most bombshell WikiLeaks revelations working closely with Assange in terms of corroborating coverage.

Greenwald started with a tweet acknowledging that Assange’s plight, which includes the possibility of being extradited to the United States where he faces certain life in prison, has received “little media attention” ultimately because it doesn’t have an easy partisan angle. “But another is that many liberals believe their political adversaries deserve to be in prison,” Greenwald stated, going on the offensive. And that’s where the most famous founding journalist at The Intercept began going off on liberals’ exaggeration of what Trump represents and how he came to power: “If you start from the premise that Trump is a fascist dictator who has brought Nazi tyranny to the US, then it isn’t that irrational to believe that anyone who helped empower Trump (which is how they see Assange) deserves to be imprisoned, hence the lack of concern about it,” Greenwald said.


Earlier this month President Trump shocked many national security state insiders by suggesting be might be open to pardoning Edward Snowden. While the Assange case would no doubt be a much higher hurdle for Trump in terms of the ‘deep state’ fierce pushback that would be sure to follow any similar consideration, it remains a possibility, especially were Trump to take the White House again after November.

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I quoted Cohen too often to remember. It’s a bad thing that America has lost its no. 1 Russia expert. Then again, he was marginalized for it already anyway.

Stephen F. Cohen, Leading American Russia Expert, Dies At 81 (RT)

Stephen F. Cohen, the leading American Russia expert of his generation and a celebrated historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, who became a vocal critic of Washington’s “new Cold War” with Moscow, has died at the age of 81. Cohen succumbed to lung cancer at his home in Manhattan, on Friday, according to his wife Katrina vanden Heuvel, who is also the part-owner and publisher of The Nation magazine, where he worked as a contributing editor. A native of Kentucky, he was a prolific and prominent scholar in his field, serving as a professor emeritus of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University. As a frequent visitor to Russia, Cohen became well-connected among leading Soviet dissidents, politicians and thinkers in the 1980s, even befriending Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev.

Cohen also advised former US President George Bush, senior, in the late 1980s, and assisted Anna Larina, the widow of Nikolai Bukharin, to rehabilitate her husband’s name during the Soviet era. He had earlier written a biography of the journalist and politician, which argued that had Bukharin succeeded Vladimir Lenin as Bolshevik leader, rather than Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union would have enjoyed greater openness, and perhaps even democracy. Breaking with many American academics and political commentators, Cohen was highly critical of Washington’s approach to Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He warned of the dangers of NATO expansion and argued that much of the economic devastation seen in Russia during the 1990s could be traced to bad-faith policies and advice from the United States.

His principled, and patriotic stand, led to smears from members of the think tank racket and both liberal and neoconservative interventionists, keen to stoke tensions with Moscow. Cohen was labelled a Putin apologist. He responded by saying that he saw him as being “in the Russian tradition of leadership, getting Russia back on its feet.” After the election of Donald Trump, Cohen found himself in the crosshairs of the mainstream media for challenging the now-debunked Russiagate narrative, which he said was being used to sabotage bilateral relations and trigger a “new Cold War” with Moscow.

The unsubstantiated claim that Trump’s presidential campaign “colluded” with the Kremlin would likely make a US-Russia detente “impossible” and could even help fuel an actual war between the two nations, Cohen argued. He lamented that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the conspiracy theory, which found no evidence of collusion, would do little to tone down the fiery rhetoric and anonymously sourced media hysteria concerning Russia and its alleged influence over the US political system.

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Stephen Cohen on July 18 2018.

Trump as New Cold War Heretic (Stephen F. Cohen)

As has every American president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1943, President Trump held a summit meeting with the Kremlin’s leader—Russian President Putin, in Helsinki on July 16. As with every president since Eisenhower, the underlying and overriding purpose was to reduce the chances of war between the two nuclear superpowers. With the new US-Russian Cold War fraught with possibilities of hot war on several fronts, from Ukraine and the Baltic and Black Sea regions to Syria, Trump had a vital national-security duty to meet in the most august way with Putin.

As with previous summits, details will come later, but the two leaders reached several important agreements: to revive the necessary US-Russian diplomatic process tattered by recent events; to restore decades-long negotiations intended to reduce and regulate nuclear weapons and thus avert a new nuclear arms race; to jointly try to prevent Iran, Russia’s Middle East partner, from threatening “Israeli security,” as Putin formulated it, on that nation’s borders; to jointly relieve the “humanitarian” crisis in Syria, whose suffering was caused substantially by the aid rendered by Washington and its allies to anti-Assad “freedom fighters” and then, as collateral damage, by Moscow’s intervention in the Syrian war, in September 2015, in order to destroy the murderous Islamic State, which was threatening to take Damascus; and to promote American-Russian “business ties,” a nebulous aspiration, considering US and European economic sanctions on Russia. (This was possibly a signal by Trump that he would not object, as President Obama had, if the European Union diminished or terminated its sanctions, as several of its members wish to do and as would be wise.)

Historically, in what were once “normal” Cold War times, these summit achievements would have been widely supported, even applauded, across the American political spectrum, as they were, for example, even under President Nixon. But not Trump’s, which elicited an unprecedented torrent of denunciation by the US mainstream bipartisan (primarily Democratic but far from only) political-media establishment. Idioms varied, from The Washington Post to MSNBC and CNN, but the once-stately New York Times, as is now its nearly daily practice, set the tone. Its front-page headline on July 17 blared: “Trump, At Putin’s Side, Questions U.S. Intelligence on 2016 Election.” Another headline below explained, “Disdain for U.S. Institutions, and Praise for an Adversary.” The “reporting” itself was fulsomely prosecutorial, scarcely mentioning what Trump and Putin had agreed to.

Times columnists competed to indict the American president. An early entry, on July 16, before anything was actually known about the summit results, came from Charles M. Blow, whose headline thundered: “Trump, Treasonous Traitor.” The title of the entry by Michelle Goldberg, on July 17, was less alliterative: “Trump Shows the World He’s Putin’s Lackey.” Much as I predicted in the weeks prior to the summit, the same toxic message bellowed through the realm of mainstream print and cable “news”: Trump had betrayed and shamed America before the entire world. As has been the case for years regarding “the Russia threat”—created mainly by US policy itself—no dissenting voices were included in the “discussions,” apart perhaps from unqualified Trump spokespeople.

The media coverage, not Trump himself at the summit, was shameful. But media were reporting “news,” of the kind they wanted, amplifying leading political figures, also across the spectrum. As usual on this subject, Senator John McCain led the vigilante posse: “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.” He added for personal emphasis: “One of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” Most unusual, given the traditional non-political public role of intel chiefs, however, was former CIA director John Brennan, who quickly appeared as Trump’s prosecutor and judge, declaring that his behavior in Helsinki “exceeds the threshold” for impeachment and indeed “was nothing short of treasonous.”

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Jul 102020
 


Berenice Abbott Vanderbilt Avenue from East 46th Street, NYC 1935

 

Biden Says His Economic Plan Would Create Five Million New US Jobs (R.)
Kayleigh McEnany Says Trump’s Tax Returns Are Still Under Audit (Axios)
California, Florida, Texas Report Highest Daily COVID19 Death Tolls (CBS)
Mississippi Hospitals Cannot Take Care of Mississippi Patients (MFP)
China Warns Of Unknown Pneumonia Deadlier Than COVID19 In Kazakhstan (SCMP)
IMF Urges ‘Equity-Like’ Government Support For Virus-Hit Firms (R.)
Lack Of COVID Insurance Threatens Hollywood Production (R.)
Harvard Professor Under Fire In Latest Attack On Free Speech (Turley)
Calls To Boycott Goya Foods After CEO Praises President Trump (NPR)
Bank Settlement Could Provide Roadmap To Punishing Epstein Collaborators (JTN)
House Approves Huge Military Budget, More War in Afghanistan (Greenwald)
US Judge Hearing Flynn Case Asks Appeals Court To Reconsider Dismissal (R.)
New Steele Evidence Strengthens Durham Prosecution (Solomon)
Warning (Sven Henrich)

 

 

I’m going to have to come back on the Joe Biden economic plan. Steve Bannon calls Biden’s puppeteers very smart, but I’m not so sure. If all Biden can do is parrot Trump, why not vote for the original? Because the imitation comes with a bit of cancel culture seasoning? Buy America is Trump, has been for four years, Biden can’t steal it. Biden even takes a stab at China for good measure. Very original too. And as for the 5 million jobs Biden “promises”, Trump will simply say 20 million. I just don’t see it.

 

 

New world record, US falls just short of a record:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Former senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon today says that Biden’s Buy America proposal is “very smart” — “the campaign and White House have been caught flat-footed … Biden has very smart people around him, particularly on the economic side.”


Jeff Stein at WaPo: “Peter Navarro crafted a “Buy America” executive order more than 3 months ago but it has been held up over objections from Mnuchin/Kushner. Potentially huge implications for 2020″

Biden Says His Economic Plan Would Create Five Million New US Jobs (R.)

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden promised on Thursday to spend $700 billion on American-made products and industrial research, which he said would give at least 5 million more people a paycheck during a job-killing pandemic. “I’ll be laser-focused on working families: the middle-class families I came from here in Scranton, not the wealthy investor class,” Biden said in a speech outlining the plan near his childhood hometown in northeastern Pennsylvania. “They don’t need me, but working families do.” The proposals come as Biden, leading President Donald Trump in national opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, tries to chip away at an incumbent seen by a larger share of voters as a better steward of the economy.

Biden is adding an even bigger price tag to the trillions in economic recovery policies he has promised as the U.S. economy reels from on-and-off coronavirus shutdowns. A record 32.9 million people collected unemployment checks in the third week of June, Labor Department data showed on Thursday. Republican Vice President Mike Pence also toured Pennsylvania on Thursday, telling a business roundtable in the Philadelphia suburb of Malvern that “even in the midst of outbreaks that we’re seeing in Sunbelt states, we are opening up America again.” The dueling visits underscored Pennsylvania’s status as a key election battleground. Trump carried the state in 2016 by a slim margin, the first Republican to do so since 1988, helping elevate him to the White House.

Biden’s announcement was the first prong of his broader economic plan titled “Build Back Better,” which includes proposals to build a clean-energy economy, support caregivers and advance racial equity. “Biden’s willful attack on our jobs, our families, and the American way of life will reverse all the gains we’ve made together and plunge us into economic catastrophe,” Trump campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement. Both Biden and Pence were visiting areas that have grown less hospitable to their parties in the Trump era.

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Manhattan DA Cy Vance can get them, and then they can be leaked?! Note: Cy Vance is linked to the Epstein case.

Kayleigh McEnany Says Trump’s Tax Returns Are Still Under Audit (Axios)

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Thursday that President Trump’s taxes are still under audit, and that he will not release them until the audit is completed. Trump has claimed for years that his taxes are under “routine audit.” The president’s relentless fight to keep his financial records secret has brought him all the way to the Supreme Court. In a pair of 7-2 rulings, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Manhattan prosecutor Cy Vance has the legal right to subpoena records from Trump’s financial institutions, while rejecting, at least for now, the House’s effort to subpoena similar records, Axios’ Sam Baker reports.

Key exchange: REPORTER: “The president, whatever the court says, can release his taxes whenever he likes. Why shouldn’t Americans believe at this point that the president isn’t trying to hide something?” MCENANY: “The media’s been asking this question for four years, and for four years, the president has said the same thing, his taxes are under audit, and when they’re no longer under audit, he will release them.”

McEnany disputed that Trump’s nominees ruled against him on Thursday, noting that the majority decision gave the president the right to challenge subpoenas “on any grounds permitted by state law.” “The justices did not rule against him, in fact it was a unanimous opinion saying that this needs to go back to the district court, and they even recognized that the president has an ample arsenal of arguments that he can make,” she said.
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s two appointees to the Court, sided with liberal members on the 7-2 vote.

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Unstoppable.

California, Florida, Texas Report Highest Daily COVID19 Death Tolls (CBS)

The coronavirus crisis nationwide is not only deepening, it is growing more deadly. The country’s three biggest states — California, Florida and Texas — are reporting their largest single-day death tolls since the pandemic began. There are now 41 states that are reporting increases in average new cases compared to two weeks ago. In California, 149 deaths were reported on Wednesday, the highest single-day number since the pandemic began. “For those that just think, now people are getting it, no one’s dying, that is very misleading,” Governor Gavin Newsom said at his briefing Thursday. The country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he believes the country’s hardest-hit states should consider pausing plans to reopen.


More than 3 million cases of coronavirus have been infected by the virus across the country, and nearly 133,000 people have died nationwide. In Florida, Walt Disney World reopened Thursday to guests who have season passes as the county where Disney is located has seen a 130% increase in coronavirus infections in the last 14 days. Disney is opening up the park to the general public on Saturday. Loyal annual pass holders got first dibs, but the magic won’t quite be the same. As visitors and employees enter, temperatures will be checked, and guests are required to wear masks and social distance. Dr. Terry Adirim, a physician and dean at Florida Atlantic University, was concerned to see the theme park reopen. “I think it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire,” Adirim told CBS News. “I don’t think it’s going to help us drive down our case rates. I think it’s going to do the opposite.”

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#MaskUpMississippi

Mississippi Hospitals Cannot Take Care of Mississippi Patients (MFP)

Mississippi hospitals are “stretched thin,” and Mississippians “will not be able to get the health care (they) need” as the novel coronavirus outbreak accelerates across the state, top health experts warned during a dire press conference this morning. Already, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said, five of the state’s largest hospitals have already run out of ICU beds for critical patients. “At the (University of Mississippi) Medical Center, we are full. Many days, we have more patients than we have rooms,” UMMC Vice Chancellor LouAnn Woodward said as she stood in front of a podium with a poster and the hashtag, “#MaskUpMississippi” covering the front of it.

The cast of health experts, which included physicians from across the state as well as representatives from the Mississippi State Department of Health and the Mississippi State Medical Association, warned that at the current rate of COVID-19’s spread, the state risks a New York City-level crisis. “Mississippi hospitals cannot take care of Mississippi patients,” Dr. Dobbs told a room of reporters this morning. [..] “We are speaking for the health-care workforce of the state of Mississippi. We are begging, and we are asking for the people of Mississippi to get on board with us,” said Dr. Woodward, who noted that Mississippi “went from shelter-in-place to wide open, whether official or not official.”

[..] The virus’ spread had begun to slow in Mississippi during May, as Gov. Tate Reeves began to reopen some businesses. By the second half of June, as the governor began a broad reopening of state businesses, Mississippi averaged just 11 novel coronavirus deaths per day, down from an average of 15 per day in May. In July so far, the state has averaged 15 deaths per day. Deaths rose sharply in the past two days, though, with MSDH confirming a record 34 new deaths on Tuesday and another 30 on Wednesday. Cases have also risen at record rates, with health officials announcing 705 additional cases per day on average since July 1. In June, the state averaged about 390 cases per day.

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“Unknown Pneumonia”. A familiar term.

China Warns Of Unknown Pneumonia Deadlier Than COVID19 In Kazakhstan (SCMP)

The Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan has warned of a deadly “unknown pneumonia” after the former Soviet republic reported a spike in pneumonia cases since June. “The death rate of this disease is much higher than the novel coronavirus. The country’s health departments are conducting comparative research into the pneumonia virus, but have yet to identify the virus,” the embassy said in a warning to Chinese citizens in the country. While the Chinese embassy described the illness as an “unknown pneumonia”, Kazakhstani officials and media have only said it is pneumonia. It was not clear why the Chinese embassy had described the illness as “unknown” or what information it had about the pneumonia.


The embassy’s website, citing local media reports, said the provinces of Atyrau and Aktobe and the city of Shymkent have reported significant spikes in pneumonia cases since the middle of June. Shymkent and the capital city of Atyrau are 1,500km (930 miles) apart, while the distance between the capital cities of Atyrau and Aktobe is 330km (205 miles). The Chinese embassy said that so far there have been nearly 500 pneumonia cases in the three places, with over 30 people in a critical condition. The country as a whole saw 1,772 pneumonia deaths in the first part of the year, 628 of which happened in June, including some Chinese nationals, the embassy continued.

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What, central banks can’t do enough?

IMF Urges ‘Equity-Like’ Government Support For Virus-Hit Firms (R.)

International Monetary Fund Chief Economist Gita Gopinath urged governments to shift to “equity-like” support from one focused on loans as the coronavirus pandemic inflicts prolonged damage on companies. Gopinath said the massive scale of the shock meant more firms will become insolvent as they suffer lower revenues for many months. Government support in the form of loans would saddle such companies with huge debt, which would serve like a tax that makes it difficult for them to emerge from the crisis, she said. “Because there’s a bigger insolvency issue here, government support would have to shift more towards being equity-like as opposed to debt-like. Otherwise, you would end up with a lot of firms that exit this crisis with a huge amount of debt over-hang,” she said.


“If the lending takes form more like equity … then that’s less onus on the firms. That will make it easier for firms to recover from the crisis,” Gopinath said in a webinar co-hosted by the IMF and the University of Tokyo on Friday. She did not elaborate on how such financing support would work. During its domestic banking crisis in the late 1990s, Japan injected capital into firms via schemes where state-affiliated bodies bought preferred shares issued by these firms. Gopinath said any recovery of the global economy will be “highly uneven and highly uncertain,” urging countries to continue deploying aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus measures to support their economies.

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Re-runs far into the future.

Lack Of COVID Insurance Threatens Hollywood Production (R.)

Insurers have largely stopped covering independent film and television productions against the risk of COVID-19 illness, a shift that threatens the supply of new entertainment in 2021, Hollywood producers, insurers and industry experts said. Thousands of shoots around the world shut down abruptly in March as the novel coronavirus spread and governments imposed lockdowns. Now as filmmakers try to get back to work they are finding insurers have largely stopped providing the COVID-19 coverage they need to secure financing. Some insurers are even adding exclusions for COVID-19 or communicable diseases to existing policies when cast members get medical exams, insurance lawyer Kirk Pasich told Reuters.


Without coverage, many producers cannot get the completion bond, or guarantee, that banks require to lend to productions. Until crews can work safely again and insurance covers COVID-related costs, “there will be less content of the caliber that we’re used to,” independent film producer Robert Salerno told Reuters. Insurers, already reeling from other pandemic claims, say they cannot offer the coverage because it is unclear how the pandemic will play out.

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The list of 593 signatories to the letter Turley is talking about may well be the strongest condemnation of academia I’ve ever seen. You can flush them all down the loo. Useless to society. Useful only to their own careers.

Harvard Professor Under Fire In Latest Attack On Free Speech (Turley)

By any measure, Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, who holds the Johnstone Family Chair of Psychology, is one of the most influential intellectual leaders in the world. He is also someone who believes in robust intellectual discourse and free thought and speech. That propensity for academic freedom has now made him a target of hundreds of academics and graduate students who are seeking his removal from the Linguistic Society of America. The letter is one of the most chilling examples of the new orthodoxy that has taken over our academic institutions. The signatories seek his removal for holding opposing views on issues like underlying causes of police shootings and other research. The cited grievances are at best nuanced and at worst nonsensical.

Yet, hundreds signed their names and academic affiliations to try to punish a professor for holding opposing views to their own. We have been discussing these cases across the country including a similar effort to oust a leading economist from the University of Chicago. It is part of a wave of intolerance sweeping over our colleges and our newsrooms — a campaign that will devour its own in the loss of academic freedoms and free speech. (I should note that I do not know Dr. Pinker and, to the best of my knowledge, I have never met him). The campaign against Pinker is based on a small number of tweets where he dares to challenge the views of his colleagues and others on issues related to police shootings. There was a time when it would have been viewed as a shameful betrayal of our profession to retaliate against a fellow academic in this way.

Now, hundreds (shown below) seek to have their names associated with an effort to punish a professor for his challenging a new orthodoxy in academia. As a blog focused on free speech and academic freedom issues, the merits of these disagreements is less important than the effort to silence or punish opposing views. However, the underlying postings (and Pinker’s apparent viewpoints) are relevant to understanding the growing intolerance for conflicting viewpoints. We will briefly discuss the six objections below. In so doing, I will have spent more written analysis addressing the attacks on Pinker than these academics and students spent in accusing him of the most vile predilections. My complaint is not that his views are beyond criticism. My objection is to the lack of substantial evidence or analysis, and, most importantly, the effort to remove him from a key academic group. Indeed, the letter states many of the signatories want him to be effectively barred from academic discourse.

Pinker has been vocal in his opposition to the level of police shootings in our society and has recognized their devastating impact on the African American community. He has however suggested that the level of police shootings may be the result of poor training and the excessive use of force generally by police in the United States. He is not alone in raising that issue. We have previously discussed how the United States has far greater use of lethal force that virtually any other nation. Pinker, and others, have not denied that racism plays a role or that we have systemic racist problems in society. Rather he has suggested that, if we want to reduce police shootings, we may want to consider whether they are being driven by a police culture and common training that tend to escalate the level of force used in these situations.

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What is this country coming to? All parrots all the time?

Calls To Boycott Goya Foods After CEO Praises President Trump (NPR)

Twitter users are calling for a boycott of Goya Foods, a brand most known for its Hispanic-staple food offerings, after the CEO of the company lavished praise on President Trump during a Thursday visit to the White House. Robert Unanue, chief executive of the family-owned operation since 2004, said that the country was “blessed” to have Trump at the helm, during remarks following a roundtable with Hispanic business and political leaders from across the country. “We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” Unanue said during the Rose Garden speech.

“We have an incredible builder. And we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country — that we will continue to prosper and to grow.” Unanue also announced a plan, along with some partners, to donate 1 million cans of Goya chickpeas and 1 million pounds of food to food banks. A statement issued late Thursday by Goya Foods did not address the negative reaction from some in the Hispanic community to Unanue’s White House appearance and praise of Trump. In the statement, Unanue reiterated his support for the president’s Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, which Trump established by executive order at the White House roundtable.

“Our country faces a time of historic challenge but we will meet that challenge together and continue to work towards greatness, focus on a strong recovery, and hold onto the hope for a healthier future for all,” Unanue said in the statement. [..] Unanue, a third-generation Spanish American, enraged many with his remarks at the White House, including some high-profile Democrats, who also signaled that they would no longer support Goya’s products. [..] By Thursday evening, “Goya,” #BoycottGoya, and #Goyaway were trending topics on Twitter.

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We want names.

Bank Settlement Could Provide Roadmap To Punishing Epstein Collaborators (JTN)

If federal prosecutors are looking to punish more than the socialite Ghislaine Maxwell for the late Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged underage sex ring, New York regulators’ settlement this month with Epstein’s former bank may provide an intriguing roadmap. Buried in documents attached to Deutsche Bank’s $150 million penalty agreement with the New York State Department of Financial Services is a long list of suspect activities, including withdrawals of money by lawyers, payments to Russian models and other women, and financial transactions with people previously identified by federal authorities as co-conspirators in Epstein’s prior plea deal on charges of prostitution with a minor more than a decade ago. The story still being unraveled now by federal and state prosecutors is how Epstein managed to allegedly keep his sex empire going after becoming one of America’s most famous registered sex offenders.

Experts say the extensive documentation made public with the bank case, including a consent order, places a bullseye over transactions and players in Epstein’s orbit now facing new legal exposure. And it could augment a list of names contained in Epstein’s “black book” of contacts that investigators have possessed for years. “It seems as if anyone connected to Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking and abuse activity should be extremely concerned by the New York State Department of Financial Services investigation that was announced on Monday,” said J. Robert Flores, a former federal prosecutor and assistant district attorney in Manhattan who specialized in sex crimes and reviewed the settlement documents at the request of Just the News.

[..] When Epstein opened up his Deutsche Bank accounts in 2013, he was a Tier 3 registered sex offender. That alone should have served as the most important red flag to any bank official. In law enforcement and judicial circles, Tier 3 registered sex offenders translate into serial offenders, who usually repeat their crimes. “Immediately following Epstein’s arrest we contacted law enforcement and offered our full assistance with their investigation,” Deutsche Bank explained in a statement. But that was only after Deutsche Bank terminated its relationship with Epstein a few months earlier.

[..] In a statement released on Tuesday, Linda Lacewell, the superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, said Epstein’s accounts paid out “millions of dollars of suspicious transactions” that Deutsche Bank “inexcusably failed to detect or prevent.” The investigation findings included: • payments to individuals publicly alleged to have been Epstein’s co-conspirators connected to his 2007 non-prosecution agreement; • settlement payments to law firms totaling over $7 million, as well as dozens of payments to law firms totaling over $6 million for what appear to have been the legal expenses of Epstein and his co-conspirators; • payments to Russian models, payments for women’s school tuition, hotel and rent expenses, and payments directly to numerous women with Eastern European surnames; • periodic suspicious cash withdrawals by one of his agents, totaling more than $800,000 over approximately four years; • “The Butterfly Trust” account that paid the co-conspirators and other parties; • a Gratitude America account.

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House Democrats side WITH Liz Cheney and AGAINST their own Tulsi Gabbard. Okay! But why would anyone vote anymore?

House Approves Huge Military Budget, More War in Afghanistan (Greenwald)

While the country is subsumed by both public health and an unemployment crisis, and is separately focused on a sustained protest movement against police abuses, a massive $740.5 billion military spending package was approved last week by the Democratic-controlled House Armed Services Committee. The GOP-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee will almost certainly send the package with little to no changes to the White House for signing. As we reported last week, pro-war and militaristic Democrats on the Committee joined with GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney and the pro-war faction she leads to form majorities which approved one hawkish amendment after the next.

Among those amendments was one co-sponsored by Cheney with Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado that impeded attempts by the Trump administration to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and another amendment led by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Cheney which blocked the White House’s plan to remove 10,000 troop stationed in Germany. While those two amendments were designed to block the Trump administration’s efforts to bring troops home, this same bipartisan pro-war faction defeated two other amendments that would have imposed limits on the Trump administration’s aggression and militarism: one sponsored by Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to require the Trump administration to provide a national security rationale before withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) signed with the Soviet Union in 1987, and another to impose limits on the ability of the U.S. to arm and otherwise assist Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen.

Perhaps most remarkable is the amount of the military budget itself. It is three times more than the planet’s second-highest military spender, China; it is ten times more than the third-highest spender, Saudi Arabia; it is 15 times more than the military budget of the country most frequently invoked by Committee members as a threat to justify militarism: Russia; and it is more than the next 15 countries combined spend on their military. They authorized this kind of a budget in the midst of a global pandemic as tens of millions of newly unemployed Americans struggle even to pay their rent.

How does this happen? How do Democrats succeed in presenting an image of themselves based on devotion to progressive causes and the welfare of the ordinary citizen while working with Liz Cheney to ensure that vast resources are funneled to the weapons manufacturers, defense sector and lobbyists who fund their campaigns? Why would a country with no military threats from any sovereign nation to its borders spend almost a trillion dollars a year for buying weapons while its citizens linger without health care, access to quality schools, or jobs? Who are the people in Congress doing this, and why?

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A judge speaking through his lawyers. Oh, why not? Let’s go full Bizarro. It’s all about running out the clock.

US Judge Hearing Flynn Case Asks Appeals Court To Reconsider Dismissal (R.)

The judge hearing the criminal prosecution against U.S. President Donald Trump’s former adviser Michael Flynn on Thursday asked an appeals court to reconsider a recent decision dismissing the case. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan asked the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the June 24 decision that directed him to drop the Flynn case. The Justice Department sought to dismiss the case against Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, following pressure from Trump and his allies, leading to criticism that Attorney General William Barr was using his office to help the president’s friends. Sullivan refused to immediately sign off on the dismissal, instead appointing a retired judge to argue in favor of denying the Justice Department’s request.


Sullivan has said he cannot serve as a “rubber stamp” and must carefully review the dismissal request. In a 2-1 decision issued last month, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit directed Sullivan to grant the department’s motion to clear Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty. “This is plainly not the rare case where further judicial inquiry is warranted,” Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, wrote for the court, adding that Sullivan had intruded on “the executive branch’s exclusive prosecutorial power.” Sullivan’s attorneys told the appeals court the panel decision marked a “dramatic break from precedent” that “threatens to turn ordinary judicial process upside down.”

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Oh wait, there’s Victoria Nuland. Wherever she appears there’s fishy things going on.

New Steele Evidence Strengthens Durham Prosecution (Solomon)

It was in London that the whole Russia collusion caper began four years ago, so it seems only fitting that as the discredited probe enters its final phase that damning new evidence of the FBI’s failures would emerge back in England. This week when a British judge ruled against the former FBI human source Christopher Steele, the decision delivered more than an order for the former spy’s company to pay damages to two Russian businessmen maligned by his dossier. It also introduced new incontrovertible evidence that bolsters Attorney General William Barr’s and U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into whether the FBI engaged in misconduct and criminally deceived the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to win permission to spy on the Trump campaign.

Buried in Justice Mark Warby’s ruling were several new pieces of evidence that answer long lingering questions about just what the FBI knew, and when it knew it. For instance, Congressional Republicans have long questioned when exactly the FBI knew that Steele’s dossier was a product ordered up for the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic Party. After all, the bureau never revealed the connection to the FISA court despite its central relevance to the motives of the dossier. Warby’s lengthy ruling unearthed a gem of new evidence to answer the question: Steele kept his own notes of what he told FBI agents the first time he met them on July 5, 2016 in London to discuss his anti-Trump Russia research.

And, Warby revealed, the notes make clear that Steele told his FBI handlers from the get-go that the dossier’s “ultimate client were (sic) the leadership of the Clinton presidential campaign.” So the FBI knew immediately that the dossier it used to justify a FISA warrant targeting the Trump campaign was a political opposition research product designed to help Clinton defeat her Republican opponent and did not divulge the connection. [..] The ruling discloses that officials at the State Department where Hillary Clinton had served as secretary of state were uniquely involved in Steele’s efforts to bring the dossier to attention, including Mrs. Clinton’s former Russia expert Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland, Clinton’s successor as secretary of state John Kerry and Joe Biden’s former national security adviser Tony Blinken.

Steele “elaborated, by explaining that his understanding in July 2016 was that the FBI officer he met had cleared his lines with the Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland,” the judge disclosed. And after Trump won the election, the judge added, Steele disclosed he gave copies of his dossier to longtime Clinton friend Strobe Talbot in hopes it would get to the top of the State Department. Talbott “said that he was due to meet a group of individuals at the State Department, and asked Mr Steele to share a copy of the Dossier with him, with a view to him being able to discuss the national security issues raised with these individuals,” the court revealed. “Mr Steele agreed. He did so on the understanding that Mr Talbott had been speaking to the US Secretary of State John Kerry, and Ms Nuland, who knew of the Dossier and its broad content; and that the individuals whom Mr Talbott was due to meet included the then US Deputy Secretary of State, Tony Blinken,” the court added.

[..] Steele admitted to the FBI his ultimate client was Clinton. He admitted he was leaking to the news media. He admitted he didn’t do much to verify his raw allegations. And he admitted he was working political figures in the Clinton sphere to get his allegations into circulation. Such actions have already been deemed to be negligent by prior watchdog reviews. But now Durham has fresh evidence that goes to the issue of intent. The FBI had prior knowledge about these problems and didn’t come clean to the court as required by law and duty. If Durham is building a case that FBI officials conspired to defraud the FISA court and Congress, his team just got some new exhibits from across the Atlantic Ocean.

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Stop calling them markets.

Warning (Sven Henrich)

Raising red flags during a bubble is a thankless job. The crowd gleefully cheers the momentum and as tops are processes anyone voicing contrarian reservations looks to be wrong while the bubble proceeds. I’m a big boy I can handle it. I was faced with the same issue late last year into Q1 this year as they kept chasing stocks into the high heavens before the 35% crash. Oh but it was Covid, nobody could’ve seen this coming. Nonsense. Covid was the trigger but the technical and excess were long building and now we’re in such phase again, except this one may be worse. I know, we live in the age where trillions are tossed around candy by centra banks and governments and everybody’s eyes just glaze over as the numbers defy context and comprehension. But let me throw a bit of reality into the mix and it’s absolutely mind boggling. 5 stocks have just added over half a trillion in market cap in just 6 days. Six days. Ponder that:

And they’re even higher on the open today. I ran the numbers:

5 stocks now have a combined market cap over $6.5 trillion. These very same stocks have added over $1.6 trillion in market cap in 2020:

That would be a feat during any bull market during times of great growth, but in a historical recession? So some of these stocks grabbed some market share during the shutdown, but don’t tell me $AAPL sold more phones during this. It gets worse. Since 2019 these stocks have added over $3.2 trillion in market cap:

Now, if you can convince yourself to believe that these stocks have earnings growth stories to support market cap expansions anywhere near these figures I suppose you can convince yourself to believe anything. During bubbles people will convince themselves of anything. And this is nothing new. After all people convinced themselves that tech’s valuations versus the rest of the economy were justified before.

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May 292020
 


Edward Hopper Railroad crossing 1923

 

Half of Britain Is Broke – And The Other Half Is Richer Than Ever (G.)
Trump Signs Order Targeting Social Media Firms’ Legal Protections (Hill)
Police Precinct Torched inThird Night Of Rioting In Minneapolis (R.)
7 Shot During Protests In Louisville (NBC)
Why Do Protestors Loot Shops Without Forming Private Equity Firm? (Onion)
The Hertz Story Isn’t What You Think (Ben Hunt)
EU Not In Mood To Follow Donald Trump Into China Conflict (SCMP)
Europe, China, and Hong Kong: New Red Lines Will Be Worth The Cost (EFCR)
China Says Wants ‘Peaceful Reunification’ With Taiwan (R.)
Attack On Taiwan An Option To Stop Independence, Top China General (R.)
Britain Seeks Alliance Of 10 Democracies To Break China’s 5G Monopoly (Sun)
US Judge Orders 15 Banks To Face Big Investors’ FX Rigging Lawsuit (R.)
Tulsi Gabbard Drops Defamation Suit Against Hillary Clinton (NYP)
Adam Schiff Alarmingly Close to Handing Trump Dangerous Spying Powers (Timm)
Law Professionals Support DOJ Decision To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (Hill)
Why Did So Many Restaurants Stay Open During the 1918 Pandemic? (Spang)

 

 

First Debt Rattle in a very long time without a direct virus article. Unfortunately that’s not going to last. New global cases set a new record at 119,000.

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 22,618
• Brazil + 26,417
• Russia + 8,572
• UK 4,938
• India + 7,466
• Peru + 5,874
• Chile + 4,654

New deaths past 24 hours in:

• US + 1,230
• Brazil + 1,294
• Mexico + 447
• UK + 446
• Peru + 3,984(?!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cases 5,932,180 (+ 118,941 from yesterday’s 5,813,239)

Deaths 362,614 (+ 4,721 from yesterday’s 357,893)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

You start a piece with a headline that says everyone’s broke, and then list all the billions in extra savings. Why?

Half of Britain Is Broke – And The Other Half Is Richer Than Ever (G.)

When was the last time you filled up the car? Bought a train ticket? Paid an air fare? Ordered a new sofa? Or even just bought a latte or booked the cinema? Days now go by when I do not spend one pence. And I know I’m far from alone. Figures emerging across Europe reveal that forced saving is happening on an unprecedented scale. French savers put aside nearly €20bn (£16.2bn) in March, compared with the monthly average before coronavirus of €3.8bn. The Italians were much the same, adding €16.8bn to savings accounts, or five times the monthly average of €3.4bn. In the UK, the Bank of England says bank deposits soared by £13.1bn in March, a record monthly rise.

Unorthodox spending patterns abound. GoCompare reckons UK drivers spent £267m less on petrol during the strictest phase of the lockdown. Retail data company Kantar says we are spending a lot more on online groceries but £1bn less on the likes of those £3 sandwich, crisps and juice lunch deals popular in Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local. Nationwide says four out of 10 of its customers have more disposable income than before the crisis. The better off are almost wallowing in spare cash. Even after assuming we are spending 20% more on food and alcohol, stockbroker Peel Hunt reckons upper-middle-class households in the UK (those in the ninth decile of income distribution) have cut their disposable spending by just over half.

It estimates that across the entire economy, households in 2020 will save £120.8bn, compared with £38.2bn in 2019, a gigantic increase. That’s a cool £82bn extra kicking around in savings and current accounts. [..] The stockbroking firm at least has the good grace to note we’re not all in this together. “The beneficiaries are skewed towards the top end of the income distribution. Lower-income earners are more likely to work in sectors most affected by job losses and reduced working hours. They also spend a greater proportion of their income on essentials,” it says. So what’s going to happen with all this money? These involuntary savings are entirely the product of the pandemic rather than frugality so we might expect them to go back down to normal levels when the crisis is over and pent-up demand is satisfied.

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@Jack is in trouble.

Trump Signs Order Targeting Social Media Firms’ Legal Protections (Hill)

President Trump signed an executive order Thursday aimed at increasing the ability of the government to regulate social media platforms, a marked escalation of his lengthy feud with Silicon Valley over allegations of anti-conservative bias. The brunt of the order is focused on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that gives platforms legal immunity for content posted by third-party users while also giving them cover to make good-faith efforts to moderate their platforms. Trump’s order directs an agency within the Commerce Department to file a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to clarify the scope of Section 230, a proposition that has already drawn rebukes from the two Democratic members of the five-person commission.

Another section of the order would encourage federal agencies to review their spending on social media advertising. Trump, joined by Attorney General William Barr, addressed reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon before signing the executive order. “We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers it has faced in American history, frankly, and you know what’s going on as well as anybody. It’s not good,” Trump told reporters. The president accused social media companies of having “unchecked power to censure, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.” He also said that if he were able to shut Twitter down, he would.

Trump and Barr indicated that legislation on Section 230 could be coming soon in Congress. Barr did not provide further details, while Trump suggested they could just “remove or totally change 230.” When asked about the possibility of a legal challenge to the order, Trump said, “I guess it’s going to be challenged in court, but what isn’t?”

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The victim and the killer had worked together as bouncers in a bar for 17 years.

Police Precinct Torched inThird Night Of Rioting In Minneapolis (R.)

Peaceful rallies gave way to a third night of arson, looting and vandalism in Minneapolis on Thursday as protesters vented their rage over the death of a black man seen on video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck. The latest spasm of unrest in Minnesota’s largest city went largely unchecked, despite Governor Tim Walz ordering the National Guard activated to help restore order following the first two days of disturbances sparked by Monday night’s fatal arrest of George Floyd, 46. In contrast with Wednesday night, when rock-throwing demonstrators clashed repeatedly with police in riot gear, law enforcement kept a low profile around the epicenter of the unrest, outside the city’s Third Precinct police station.

Protesters massing outside the building briefly retreated under volleys of police tear gas and rubber bullets fired at them from the roof, only to reassemble and eventually attack the building head on, setting fire to the structure as police seemed to withdraw. Protesters were later observed on the roof. The city authority warned about ‘unconfirmed’ reports that gas lines to the Third Precinct police station were cut and that there were other explosives in the building. It appealed to people to retreat from the building.A car and at least two other buildings in the vicinity were also set ablaze, and looters returned for a second night to a nearby Target discount store, left boarded up and vacant from the previous night, to make off with whatever remained inside. Fire officials said 16 buildings were torched on Wednesday night.

President Donald Trump on Twitter said that he will send the National Guard troops and “get the job done right” if Mayor Jacob Frey failed to bring the city under control. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he wrote in tweets posted late midnight.

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Louisville, Dallas, New York.

7 Shot During Protests In Louisville (NBC)

Seven people were shot in Louisville, Kentucky, one of whom was in critical condition, during protests that turned violent Thursday night, police said. Circumstances of the shootings were not immediately clear, and a police spokesman called the situation downtown fluid early Friday. Officers were not involved in the shootings, Police Sgt. Lamont Washington said. No other details were immediately available from police. Mayor Greg Fischer said in a video statement early Friday that seven people were shot “from within the crowd” and no police officers fired their weapons. Five were in good condition, two were sent to surgery, he said, adding “my prayers are with all of them.”


The violence happened as hundreds had gathered to protest the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman who was killed by Louisville police this spring. “What we are seeing tonight in this community is the obvious frustration of the tension between police and residents,” police special adviser Jessie Halladay said earlier in a video call. “What started out as a peaceful protest earlier this evening is now escalating into property damage, more aggressive action, and we’ve just heard reports of shots fired in the crowd,” she said at the time. She said that in addition to property damage bottles had been thrown at officers.

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If confused about the logic, see next article.

Why Do Protestors Loot Shops Without Forming Private Equity Firm? (Onion)

Calling for a more measured way to express opposition to police brutality, critics slammed demonstrators Thursday for recklessly looting businesses without forming a private equity firm first. “Look, we all have the right to protest, but that doesn’t mean you can just rush in and destroy any business without gathering a group of clandestine investors to purchase it at a severely reduced price and slowly bleed it to death,” said Facebook commenter Amy Mulrain, echoing the sentiments of detractors nationwide who blasted the demonstrators for not hiring a consultant group to take stock of a struggling company’s assets before plundering.


“I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn’t just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations. It’s disgusting to put workers at risk by looting. You do it by chipping away at their health benefits and eventually laying them off. There’s a right way and wrong way to do this.” At press time, critics recommended that protestors hold law enforcement accountable by simply purchasing the Minneapolis police department from taxpayers.

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The looters should copy Carl Icahn.

The Hertz Story Isn’t What You Think (Ben Hunt)

On June 30, 2016, Carl Icahn led a restructuring of “Old Hertz”, where the Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation (HERC) was split off from the car rental operations (Hertz Global Holdings). Each became a separate publicly-traded company (Icahn with 39% equity stake in Hertz and a 15% stake in HERC), each installed an Icahn-controlled board (not “controlled” in a legal sense, but controlled sure enough), and each started taking on massive amounts of debt. How much debt? Well, HERC has about $2.1 billion in long-term debt, against an equity market cap of only $830 million (and that’s more than twice what it was at the March lows). The equity position is what we might call a stub … a small piece of the enterprise value of the overall corporation (debt + equity – cash). If you want to understand HERC as an equity investment, you better focus your analysis on that debt position and how the company can support that kind of leverage!


As for the debt levels at Hertz … LOL. Hertz has more than $19 billion in long-term debt, against a market cap that was (at its 2019 peak!) about $2.1 billion. Now there’s a stub for you. It’s hard for me to adequately convey the playground that an insanely levered rental company – whether it rents cars or construction equipment – provides for a financialization genius like Carl Icahn. Between asset depreciation assumptions, cost of capital assumptions, and the ability to securitize or otherwise move assets off your balance sheet … the accounting cookie jar that a rental company gives Icahn is otherworldly. Keep in mind, too, that in 2017 – more than a year after Icahn took control – Hertz was forced to report that management had “identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting.”

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Well, actually, the UE has no mechanism with which to rapidly agree on this.

EU Not In Mood To Follow Donald Trump Into China Conflict (SCMP)

European leaders are in no mood to follow the United States in threatening trade sanctions against China as it moves to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, although foreign ministers will meet on Friday to try to hack out a common position. China’s top legislature on Thursday voted to impose a national security law on Hong Kong, sparking concerns that Beijing will limit the autonomy granted by the “one country, two systems” principle that followed the end of British rule in 1997. The US, Canada, Australia and Britain condemned Beijing’s step, hailing Hong Kong as a “bastion of freedom,” while Britain held open the prospect of citizenship for more Hongkongers if Beijing presses ahead.

But despite growing tensions over the former British colony, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most powerful politician, insisted she still wants the European Union to reach a landmark investment agreement with China this year. And while US President Donald Trump said on Thursday the US would be announcing new US policies on Friday as “we are not happy with China” after his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had already cast doubt on Hong Kong’s continued preferential trading status, the EU stuck to traditional diplomatic expressions of concern. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he had “deep concern” about Thursday’s move.

He has previously insisted Brussels “attaches great importance to the preservation of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy,” but said this week he did not think “sanctions against China are going to be a solution for our problems”. Merkel also said the EU, the world’s biggest trade bloc, needed to maintain a “critical and constructive” dialogue, with trade retaliation not on the agenda when European foreign ministers meet on Friday. “Sanctions are not on the table, our relations with the Chinese are simply too important,” one senior EU diplomat said. The senior EU diplomat added that Hong Kong could be “a game changer” as questions increase about the rule of law in a city of 7 million people that is the base for many European investors in the region.

But the key issue is whether China’s power grab in Hong Kong will weigh on the EU’s investment agreement with China. Germany wants the deal to be concluded at an EU-China summit in the German city of Leipzig in September, although the agreement was already in trouble even before the latest flare-up in Hong Kong. Michael Clauss, Germany’s ambassador to the EU and a former ambassador to China, admitted earlier this month that talks were stuck over market access rights for European companies.

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Europe’s Council on Foreign Relations likes a hard line.

Europe, China, and Hong Kong: New Red Lines Will Be Worth The Cost (EFCR)

Both international and Chinese companies have long benefitted from the framework of ‘one country, two systems’. It has allowed business to take place outside the direct access of Beijing’s tight authoritarian control of people and capital on the mainland. For decades Hong Kong has enjoyed special privileges in international trade and has thus been one of Asia’s most vibrant economic and financial hubs. Beijing’s alteration of the status quo will likely provoke a US response in the form of sanctions against China or the cancellation of Hong Kong’s special economic privileges. The attempt to turn Hong Kong into just another Chinese city will no doubt hurt Chinese businesses and elites, but it will likely hurt Western companies even more, as they have long relied on Hong Kong’s excellent business conditions as an invaluable gateway to the Chinese market.


Amid the global pandemic and rising US-China tensions, the push on Hong Kong was foreseeable, but still somewhat unexpected. The Chinese government has likely judged that now is the perfect time to complete some unfinished business. China is intensifying its patrols and creating new administrative structures in the South China Sea. It has increased sabre-rattling towards Taiwan. And Chinese military forces have reportedly entered into Indian territory along the Sino-Indian border, where stand-offs and limited skirmishes have lately occurred on a more regular basis. While the coronavirus has effectively pressed the pause button on the world economy, China’s policymakers have hit fast-forward on restoring ‘territorial integrity’ and dominance in Asia. For Europe, this comes at the worst possible moment.

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If need be under grave threat.

China Says Wants ‘Peaceful Reunification’ With Taiwan (R.)

The head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on Friday that “one country, two systems” and “peaceful reunification” is the best way to bring China and Taiwan together. Outside attempts by foreign forces to interfere in “reunification” will fail, Liu Jieyi told an event at the Great Hall of the People marking 15 years since China signed into law its Anti-Secession Law. Beijing passed the law in 2005 which authorises the use of force against Taiwan if China judges it to have seceded.

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Two different voices saying the same thing. Agenda much?

Attack On Taiwan An Option To Stop Independence, Top China General (R.)

China will attack Taiwan if there is no other way of stopping it from becoming independent, one of the country’s most senior generals said on Friday, in a rhetorical escalation from China aimed at the democratic island Beijing claims as its own. Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 15th anniversary of the Anti-Secession Law, Li Zuocheng, chief of the Joint Staff Department and member of the Central Military Commission, left the door open to using force. The 2005 law gives the country the legal basis for military action against Taiwan if it secedes or seems about to, making the narrow Taiwan Strait a potential military flashpoint.


“If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or actions,” Li said. “We do not promise to abandon the use of force, and reserve the option to take all necessary measures, to stabilise and control the situation in the Taiwan Strait,” he added. Although China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, it is rare for a top, serving military officer to so explicitly make the threat in a public setting. The comments are especially striking amid international opprobrium over China passing new national security legislation for Chinese-run Hong Kong.

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Five Eyes alliance. They should ban 5G until it’s been properly researched.

Britain Seeks Alliance Of 10 Democracies To Break China’s 5G Monopoly (Sun)

Britain is seeking an international alliance to supply Brits with 5G internet and break China’s monopoly over the network. The Government is driving forward plans for 10 democratic countries to work together and find a new provider for the superfast internet. Ministers want the UK to form a club of nations, dubbed the ‘D10’, to fund technology companies and find a 5G supplier to replace Huawei. The PM approved plans for the Chinese company to build part of the UK’s new internet network in January, despite pressure from MPs and the US government. The D10 club would see G7 nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – join forces with Australia, South Korea and India to find another company to build the 5G network.


The UK has already approached Washington with the plan, the Times has reported. A source told the newspaper: “We need new entrants to the market. That was the reason we ended up having to go along with Huawei at the time.” It comes amid rising tensions between the UK and China, with the Government accusing the Communist state of covering up coronavirus. Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said in March that China “was not clear about the scale, the nature, the infectiousness of this disease.” Nokia and Ericsson are the only two companies in Europe that are currently supplying 5G infrastructure, but it is believed they could not build the network as quickly as Huawei.

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Feels like Vito Corleone taking the Tattaglia family to court.

US Judge Orders 15 Banks To Face Big Investors’ FX Rigging Lawsuit (R.)

A U.S. judge on Thursday said institutional investors, including BlackRock and PIMCO, can pursue much of their lawsuit accusing 15 major banks of rigging prices in the $6.6 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market. U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield in Manhattan said the nearly 1,300 plaintiffs, including many mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, plausibly alleged that the banks conspired to rig currency benchmarks from 2003 to 2013 and profit at their expense. “This is an injury of the type the antitrust laws were intended to prevent,” Schofield wrote in a 40-page decision.


The banks, which sometimes controlled more than 90% of the market, included Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Scotland, Societe Generale, Standard Chartered and UBS or various affiliates. In their complaint, the plaintiffs accused the banks of improperly sharing confidential orders and trading positions, and using chat rooms with such names as “The Cartel,” “The Mafia” and “The Bandits’ Club.” Banks were also accused of using deceptive trading tactics such as “front running,” “banging the close” and “taking out the filth.” [..] The litigation began in November 2018, after the plaintiffs “opted out” of similar nationwide litigation that had resulted in $2.31 billion of settlements with most of the banks.

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Sorry to see this. Finish what you start.

Tulsi Gabbard Drops Defamation Suit Against Hillary Clinton (NYP)

Former presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard dropped her defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, saying the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 presidential election are more important than her legal claims. In court papers filed in Manhattan federal court Wednesday, Gabbard wrote that, while her claims have merit, it’s better to “focus their time and attention on other priorities, including defeating Donald Trump in 2020, rather than righting the wrongs here.” Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii, sued Clinton in January, claiming the former first lady defamed her by calling her a “Russian asset” during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.


“Tulsi Gabbard is running for President of the United States, a position Clinton has long coveted, but has not been able to attain,” Gabbard’s Manhattan federal lawsuit read. “In October 2019 — whether out of personal animus, political enmity, or fear of real change within a political party Clinton and her allies have long dominated — Clinton lied about her perceived rival Tulsi Gabbard. She did so publicly, unambiguously, and with obvious malicious intent,” it added. Clinton had refused to walk back comments she made during a 2019 appearance on a podcast, in which she referred to Gabbard as a “favorite of the Russians.” “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far,” Clinton told “Campaign HQ” host and former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.

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Where the real danger resides.

Adam Schiff Alarmingly Close to Handing Trump Dangerous Spying Powers (Timm)

Congress has been embroiled in debate over the potential renewal of three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, the post-9/11 spying bill that has been harshly criticized by civil liberties advocates for almost two decades. At issue in Congress is the fact that Section 215 of the Patriot Act (the provision once secretly reinterpreted by the FISA court to authorize the NSA’s mass phone surveillance program) allows the Trump administration to gather the internet browsing and search histories of Americans without a warrant. Sen. Ron Wyden had proposed an amendment that would require federal authorities to get a probable cause warrant before ever accessing this data.

It seemed like a popular no-brainer: Web browsing and search history is some of the most sensitive content online, and internet privacy has never been a bigger concern to the public. But in a dramatic vote two weeks ago, the Senate roll call on Wyden’s amendment fell just one vote short of the 60-member threshold from passing. With two Democratic caucus members — Bernie Sanders and Patty Murray — missing the vote, the final tally was 59 for and 37 against. The outrage was swift. Even in the Covid-saturated media environment, dozens of news outlets covered the controversy, and the reaction from constituents across the country then came pouring in. Civil liberties organizations immediately mobilized their supporters to contact members of the House, which still must vote on the final bill before it goes to Trump’s desk for a signature.

The pressure worked. Later that same day, Senators voted to pass another amendment that has the potential to reform the secretive FISA court in a significant way. And the House’s privacy advocates felt emboldened to push House leadership to hold a vote on the Wyden amendment during its debate of the Patriot Act bill this week. At the behest of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a bipartisan team of House representatives — led by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Republican Rep. Warren Davidson — negotiated for three days with Schiff on the exact language of the amendment. Lofgren and Davidson wanted an up and down vote on Wyden’s version that failed in the Senate by one vote, but Schiff reportedly resisted. The sides reached a compromise late Tuesday afternoon.

Schiff pushed for a change to the amendment so that warrant protections would only cover “U.S. persons,” a definition that would exclude millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States, including the thousands of DACA recipients, who are at particular risk of surveillance under the Trump administration. Even with the weakened language, Wyden supported the bill, while emphasizing in a statement that the bill’s language meant that if there was any possibility of Trump collecting U.S. persons’ data, then the administration had to get a warrant.

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The judge will get roasted. Nobody agrees with the move.

Law Professionals Support DOJ Decision To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (Hill)

More than two dozen former prosecutors, judges and active trial lawyers filed a brief backing the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to dismiss the case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The bipartisan group of former government attorneys are asking U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan for them to formally file an amicus brief on the case. The group includes former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr and U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). “The issue presented in this case is whether the court has discretion to deny a motion to dismiss to which the defendant consents, as Gen. Flynn has done here. The answer is no,” the attorneys wrote.


Attorney General William Barr requested that the Justice Department drop the charges against Flynn of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia shortly before Trump took office. The attorneys argue that Sullivan does not have the legal right to override the decision from the prosecutor — in this case the DOJ — to dismiss a case they are prosecuting. “There is simply no basis upon which this Court can review and deny the Government’s motion to dismiss, to which the defense has consented,” they wrote. Earlier this month, 16 former Watergate prosecutors also asked Sullivan for permission to weigh in on the case. The attorneys argued that given the DOJ’s decision to dismiss Flynn’s criminal prosecution — despite his 2017 guilty pleas — the department cannot be counted on to give the court a fair and complete presentation of the issues raised by the move.

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History lessons are always good.

Why Did So Many Restaurants Stay Open During the 1918 Pandemic? (Spang)

You’re living in a pandemic. Public health officials recommend new measures every few days: avoid crowds, open windows, wear a mask. Schools close, theaters go dark, even churches shut their doors. But at least the restaurants are open! The year is 1918—maybe not so much like 2020 after all. For years, centuries even, we took restaurants for granted; it is news to most people that they had to be invented (I write about this history in my book The Invention of the Restaurant). As a child, it made sense to me that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin and Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone—as we learned in school, “progress” meant currently familiar technologies had all started at some point in the past. Jonas Salk created a polio vaccine. These people were all famous because they invented a new thing. But that social and cultural forms had a history, that not just individual eateries but the entire category of restaurants might be new at one point and non-existent at another? Go figure.

Now it appears that restaurants may not only have a start date, but an end date as well. Born of Enlightenment medical sensibility (the first restaurateurs sold restorative broths and marketed their products especially to people with “weak and delicate chests”), restaurants as we knew them just six months ago may well be a thing of the past—killed off, or at least radically altered, by the current pandemic. For more than 200 years, restaurants have been public places where people go to be private: to sit at their own tables, have their own conversations, eat their own meals. But even that limited degree of interaction violates the social distancing guidelines widely in place today.

Operating in most cases with small profit margins—this month’s customers pay next month’s rent—few restaurants can afford two weeks (much less months) of forced closure. Estimates are that 75 percent of independently owned restaurants may never re-open. Without them, bakeries, specialty farmers, and wine distributors are likely to be in serious trouble as well. While most authorities in the United States today agreed on restaurants closures as a vital public-health measure, their counterparts during the deadly 1918 influenza epidemic saw things differently. A hundred years ago, it seemed obvious that crowds would form along parade routes, in public parks, at revival or club meetings—but not in restaurants.

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Mar 142020
 

 

“Flattening the Curve” Is A Deadly Delusion (Bach)
Higher Temperatures Affect Survival Of New Coronavirus (Accu)
South Korea’s Drive-Through Testing For Coronavirus Is Fast – And Free (NPR)
Nancy Pelosi, Trump Administration Reach Deal On Coronavirus Aid Package (NYP)
EU Ready To Trigger Crisis Clause Allowing Fiscal Stimulus (BBG)
Big Pharma Prepares To Profit From The Coronavirus (IC)
Apple To Close All Stores Outside Of China (BI)
Bad Coronavirus News Starts To Hit US Auto Dealers (R.)
Next Week’s Primaries To Proceed Despite Coronavirus, Louisiana Delay (R.)
Major US Internet Firms Agree Not To Cancel Service Over Next 60 Days (R.)
FBI’s Russia Collusion Case Fell Apart In January 2017
‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ At DC Museum Of The Bible Are All Forgeries (NatGeo)
It Would Take 50 Million Years To Recover New Zealand’s Lost Bird Species (F.)

 

 

Yay! We’re setting records! Over 10,000 cases in one day, 2,547 of which in Italy, and 451 deaths, with 250 in Italy.

 

Cases 146,327 (+ 10,518 from yesterday’s 135,809)

Deaths 5,443 (+ 453 from yesterday’s 4,990)

 

Something went wrong with my usual snapshot from last night’s Worldometer numbers, so yesterday’s “gains” per country are lost. Apologies.

Trajectories are clear though. Spain is a country to watch, as are Denmark, Norway and Sweden. And Switzerland with 220 new cases today, and and and.

Other than that, economic policies are taking the spotlight, and especially the failures. The question arises: can the west do what it did in WWII, and confiscate production facilities?

Just as abhorrent to US “values”: Tulsi Gabbard and Bush economic adviser Greg Mankiw, separate from each other I think, want the US to give every citizen $1,000 a month to counter the corona fallout.

Can America as a nation unite, or is that ability forever lost? Because: if you give out that $1,000, will you allow your firms, say Big Pharma, to charge exorbitant prices for essentials?

In that same vein, Germany appears ready to abandon its long term fiscal prudence, and to drag Europe along for the ride.

I changed the order of the graphs around a bit, SCMP is getting further behind all the time.

 

From Worldometer (NOTE: mortality rate is back up to 7%!)

 

 

From COVID2019.app: (This site is playing with its formats while expanding, now over 200 global contributors)

 

 

From SCMP: (Note: the SCMP graph was useful when China was the focal point; they are falling behind now)

 

 

 

 

Joshua Bach is a scary dude.

“Flattening the Curve” Is A Deadly Delusion (Bach)

You have all seen a version of this curve of COVID-19 case loads by now:

Or this one:

There are many more. What all these diagrams have in common: They have no numbers on the axes. They don’t give you an idea how many cases it takes to overwhelm the medical system, and over how many days the epidemic will play out. They suggest that currently, the medical system can deal with a large fraction (like maybe 2/3, 1/2 or 1/3) of the cases, but if we implement some mitigation measures, we can get the infections per day down to a level we can deal with. They mean to tell you that we can get away without severe lockdowns as we are currently observing them in China and Italy. Instead, we let the infection burn through the entire population, until we have herd immunity (at 40% to 70%), and just space out the infections over a longer timespan.

These suggestions are dangerously wrong, and if implemented, will lead to incredible suffering and hardship. Let’s try to understand this by putting some numbers on the axes. What is the capacity of the healthcare system? This is a difficult question and cannot be answered in a short post like this. The US has about 924,100 hospital beds (2.8 per 1000 people). California has only 1.8. Countries like Germany have 8. South Korea has 12. (Their hospital system got overloaded nonetheless.) Most of these beds are in use, but we can create more, using improvisation (for instance using hotels and school gyms) and strategic resources of the military, national guard and other organizations.

Based on Chinese data, we can estimate that about 20% of COVID-19 cases are severe and require hospitalization. However, many severe cases will survive if they can be adequately provided for at home (which may include oxygen, IVs and isolation). More important is the number of ICU beds, which by some estimates can be stretched to about a 100,000, and of which about 30,000 may be available. About 5% of all COVID-19 cases need intensive care, and without it, all of them will die. We can also increase the number of ICU beds somewhat, but the equipment that we need to deal with sepsis, kidney, liver and heart failure, severe pneumonia etc. cannot be stretched arbitrarily between them.

An important part of the equation are ventilators. Most of the critically ill COVID-19 cases die of an infection of the lungs that makes it impossible to breathe and even destroys so much tissue that the blood can no longer be sufficiently oxygenated. These patients need intubation and mechanical ventilation to give them a chance of survival, or even an ECMO machine, which oxygenates the blood directly. About 6% of all cases need a ventilator, and if hospitals put all existing ventilators to use, we have 160,000 of them. In addition, the CDC has a strategic stockpile of 8900 ventilators that can be deployed in hospitals that need them. If we take the number of ventilators as a proximate limit on the medical resources, it means we can take care of up to 170,000 critically ill patients at the same time.

How many people will get infected? Without containment, the virus becomes endemic, and leading epidemiologists like Marc Lipsitch (Harvard) and Christian Drosten (Charité Berlin) estimate that between 40% and 70% of the population get infected until we develop some degree of herd immunity. (Unfortunately, we do not know how long this immunity lasts. We already observe multiple strain of COVID-19, and will see many more, due to the large number of carriers.) In a population like the US (327 million), that means between 130 million and 230 million. Let’s assume that 55% of the US population (the middle ground) get infected between March and December, and we are looking at 180 million people.

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Saw that picture with the narrow yellow band before. But of course they still don’t agree on anything.

Higher Temperatures Affect Survival Of New Coronavirus (Accu)

Research from a laboratory-grown copy of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes the COVID-19 illness shows that heat affects the virus and impacts its behavior, a top pathologist said new research has shown. But other infectious disease experts aren’t yet convinced. “In cold environments, there is longer virus survival than warm ones,” Hong Kong University pathology professor John Nicholls told AccuWeather exclusively. Nicholls and colleagues from a team at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, previously produced a study, which was published in February and has yet to be peer-reviewed, noting the effect of heat. Their research is based on one of the world’s first lab-grown copies of SARS-CoV-2.


“Temperature could significantly change COVID-19 transmission,” the authors note in the study. They also pointed out that the “virus is highly sensitive to high temperature.” On March 11, the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. This is the first pandemic in 11 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One recent research paper supported this assertion by pointing out the proximity of the major hotspots. The authors of the study, which was published last week, wrote that COVID-19 “has established significant community spread in cities and regions only along a narrow east-west distribution roughly along the 30-50 North latitude corridor at consistently similar weather patterns (5-11 degrees C [41 to 51 F] and 47-79 percent humidity).”

“Notably, during the same time, COVID-19 failed to spread significantly to countries immediately south of China,” the paper notes. “The number of patients and reported deaths in Southeast Asia is much less when compared to more temperate regions noted … The association between temperature in the cities affected with COVID-19 deserves special attention.” Some have suggested the possibility that weather factors might affect the virus – particularly the intensity and amount of hours of sunshine as well as heat and humidity. “Obviously, the virus is something we’ve never dealt with before, but if we look at other viruses … they all had their peak during the cold season,” said AccuWeather Founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers.

“The statistics all show that they breed and survive longer when it’s cold and dry,” Myers said. “So, when it’s warmer and more humid and there’s a lot of sunshine, the statistics on all of the others show a virus is less lethal, it spreads less efficiently and less effectively among humans.” Dr. Joseph Fair, a virologist, epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist, suggested sunshine is a critical factor in subduing the virus. “It really doesn’t have anything to do with the warmth, but it has to do with the length of the day and the exposure to sunlight, which inactivates the virus through UV light,” Fair [said]. “We expect a dip in infections as we would see with the cold and flu in the spring and summer months.


But, he cautioned, “The science is still out. We can assume this will follow typical other coronavirus cases. We can expect a dip in the summer. But that doesn’t mean that we will be out of the woods … Everyone in the scientific and public health community expects it to be back in the fall and we expect to be in this for quite some time.”


Transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. (NIAID-RML)

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What a nation is capable of when it starts working together.

South Korea’s Drive-Through Testing For Coronavirus Is Fast – And Free (NPR)

If you roll up to a drive-through COVID-19 testing center in South Korea, you might notice that safety procedures extend all the way to your car’s air conditioning. You will be advised to hit the recirculation button so that if you’re sick, you can keep your pathogens to yourself, in your car, and avoid infecting the medical personnel doing the testing. The test takes 10 minutes at most. Results are texted to you, usually the next day. And it’s free — paid for by the government. Drive-through centers have helped South Korea do some of the fastest, most-extensive testing of any country. And while nobody is claiming that South Korea has defeated the outbreak, experts credit the emphasis on testing with reducing case numbers and fatalities.

“I think our approach was right,” says professor Lee Hyukmin of the Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul. “We will continue to see sporadic infections,” he predicts. “But still, the situation in Daegu,” the epicenter of the outbreak, “is being stabilized.” South Korea has about 8,000 infections. Italy and Iran overtook it this week as the countries with the most cases outside of China. South Korea’s new cases have gradually declined since the end of last month. For the first time since Jan. 20, the number of patients released from treatment on Friday, March 13 — 510 — outnumbered the 110 new cases. A nation of 51 million, South Korea has tested about 250,000 people since its outbreak began on Jan. 20, with a daily capacity of 15,000. It has conducted 3,600 tests per million people compared to five per million in the U.S.


South Korea’s aggressive testing may make it unnecessary to impose the sort of lockdowns to which China and Italy have resorted, although health officials insist that all options remain on the table in dealing with the epidemic. “It’s much better to test and then quarantine a specific person than to do a citywide or provincewide lockdown, which in certain ways prevents the virus from leaving the province but actually doesn’t make the province any less likely to have high infection rates,” says Eric Feigl-Ding, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C., and an epidemiologist at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health.

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Just like Tulsi: “Greg Mankiw, a former top economic adviser to President George W. Bush, advocated sending $1,000 checks to everyone as soon as possible.”

Nancy Pelosi, Trump Administration Reach Deal On Coronavirus Aid Package (NYP)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Trump administration reached a last-minute deal Friday on a sweeping coronavirus aid package that will provide free testing for all Americans. The “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” will guarantee free tests for all Americans, including the uninsured, and provide two weeks of paid sick leave for those affected by the health crisis, Pelosi said. It will also provide up to three months of paid family and medical leave and strengthened unemployment Insurance for those facing layoffs amid the health and economic crisis. The aid package will also strengthen food banks, seniors’ meals and the food stamps program, known as SNAP.

Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been locked in feverish negotiations as the crisis rapidly escalated — speaking up to seven times a day — and by Friday morning, senior Democrats were confident the package would pass the House by the end of the day. But the deal appeared to hit a snag when Trump on Friday declared a State of Emergency at the White House Rose Garden and announced he didn’t support the aid package. “We don’t think the Democrats are giving enough,” Trump told reporters. “We are negotiating. We thought we had something, but all of a sudden they didn’t agree to certain things that they agreed to,” he added, without specifying the sticking point.


The president has repeatedly demanded a payroll tax cut be included in the bill, something that has been met with tepid support from within his own administration. “We could have something but we don’t think they are giving enough. They are not doing what is right for the country,” he concluded. Pelosi was bullish about passing the bill on Friday, even though it now languishes until Monday when the Senate returns from a break, calling the health outbreak a “grave and accelerating challenge.” The new bill comes after Trump last week signed into law a separate $8.3 billion in emergency aid for states and local authorities to combat the spread of the virus.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1238516118391791617

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Jim Bianco on Twitter:

“German Gov’t will offer unlimited loans to all companies that want them. Will buy stakes in German Governments. Guaranteed every job in Germany. Said “no on will lose their job over a virus.” They are essentially asking all EU countries to do the same as Germany. Couple this with the Fed trillions, the ECB yesterday , the BOE wed and the BoJ overnight … Everyone is “all-in” to stop the decline. If this does not work, closing mkts might be all that is left.”

EU Ready To Trigger Crisis Clause Allowing Fiscal Stimulus (BBG)

Denmark, Poland and Cyprus tightened their borders to limit the spread of the coronavirus even as European leaders called for more concerted action to contain the economic fallout. Germany, which borders two of those countries, pledged to spend whatever was necessary to protect its economy and the European Commission said it’s ready to green-light widespread spending after a market meltdown and a forecast that the euro zone was headed for recession. With Group of Seven policy makers struggling to forge a united front, the response from national capitals reflects the urgency to avoid the lockdown that hit Italy amid an epidemic that seemed to be spiraling out of control.

In Denmark, only Danes, Danish residents and green card holders will be let in. For everyone else, the country’s borders will be closed until April 14 and people arriving in Denmark will be sent back. “We’re painfully aware that this will have severe consequences,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in Copenhagen on Friday, as she announced borders would close. “We can see how the situation in Italy developed in a catastrophic direction,” she said. “Everything we’re doing is to ensure that we get through this situation in a different way.” Likewise, Cyprus is closing its borders for 15 days to foreigners who don’t live or work on the Mediterranean island, President Nicos Anastasiades said in a televised address.

[..] The ability to travel without border checks has been a fact of life for more than two decades in most of Europe, with passport-free movement arguably the most successful feature of daily life for more than 400 million people in the EU. Officials in Brussels are accepting the new – if temporary – restrictions through gritted teeth. “General travel bans are not seen as being the most effective by the World Health Organization,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm. “Moreover, they have a strong social and economic impact. They disrupt people’s lives and business across the borders.”

Just hours earlier, German officials announced KfW, the state bank, can lend as much as €550 billion to companies to ensure they survive the pandemic and shield their workers from its impact. Switzerland pledged 10 billion francs ($10.5 billion) of aid for its companies. European stocks surged. “This is the bazooka,” Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. “We’re using it to do what is necessary. We’ll check later to see if we need additional smaller weapons.”

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Suspect that unlike in WWII, US industry would be allowed to turn huge profits.

Big Pharma Prepares To Profit From The Coronavirus (IC)

As the new coronavirus spreads illness, death, and catastrophe around the world, virtually no economic sector has been spared from harm. Yet amid the mayhem from the global pandemic, one industry is not only surviving, it is profiting handsomely. “Pharmaceutical companies view Covid-19 as a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity,” said Gerald Posner, author of “Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America.” The world needs pharmaceutical products, of course. For the new coronavirus outbreak, in particular, we need treatments and vaccines and, in the U.S., tests. Dozens of companies are now vying to make them.

“They’re all in that race,” said Posner, who described the potential payoffs for winning the race as huge. The global crisis “will potentially be a blockbuster for the industry in terms of sales and profits,” he said, adding that “the worse the pandemic gets, the higher their eventual profit.” The ability to make money off of pharmaceuticals is already uniquely large in the U.S., which lacks the basic price controls other countries have, giving drug companies more freedom over setting prices for their products than anywhere else in the world. During the current crisis, pharmaceutical makers may have even more leeway than usual because of language industry lobbyists inserted into an $8.3 billion coronavirus spending package, passed last week, to maximize their profits from the pandemic.

[..] According to calculations by Axios, drug companies make 63 percent of total health care profits in the U.S. That’s in part because of the success of their lobbying efforts. In 2019, the pharmaceutical industry spent $295 million on lobbying, far more than any other sector in the U.S. That’s almost twice as much as the next biggest spender — the electronics, manufacturing, and equipment sector — and well more than double what oil and gas companies spent on lobbying. The industry also spends lavishly on campaign contributions to both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Throughout the Democratic primary, Joe Biden has led the pack among recipients of contributions from the health care and pharmaceutical industries.

Big Pharma’s spending has positioned the industry well for the current pandemic. While stock markets have plummeted in reaction to the Trump administration’s bungling of the crisis, more than 20 companies working on a vaccine and other products related to the new SARS-CoV-2 virus have largely been spared. Stock prices for the biotech company Moderna, which began recruiting participants for a clinical trial of its new candidate for a coronavirus vaccine two weeks ago, have shot up during that time. On Thursday, a day of general carnage in the stock markets, Eli Lilly’s stock also enjoyed a boost after the company announced that it, too, is joining the effort to come up with a therapy for the new coronavirus. And Gilead Sciences, which is at work on a potential treatment as well, is also thriving.

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1 day (or is it 2?) after re-opening all Chinese stores.

Apple To Close All Stores Outside Of China (BI)

Apple will be temporarily shuttering all stores outside China until March 27, in response to mounting concern over the novel coronavirus, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced on Saturday. Cook also said in a tweet that the company will be committing $15 million to recovery efforts and matching employee donations two-to-one as the coronavirus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19, continues to grip the US. “What we’ve learned together has helped us all develop the best practices that are assisting enormously in our global response,” Cook wrote in a press release. “One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance.” “As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.” The retailer will continue to fulfill purchases made online or through the Apple phone apps.

Read more …

Can you self-isolate in a car?

Bad Coronavirus News Starts To Hit US Auto Dealers (R.)

A relentless barrage of bad news surrounding the coronavirus epidemic has begun to affect customer visits at some U.S. auto dealers and even those businesses that have thrived so far believe a big sales decline is imminent if China’s experience is any guide. Since the coronavirus outbreak began in China last year it has killed more than 5,000 people globally, including 41 so far in the United States, where President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency. The outbreak has caused automakers to shutter plants in Asia and Europe, and the mounting responses in the United States – school closures, pro sports leagues suspending play and other big events canceled – are now being felt by some U.S. dealers. For a sign of what may be in store, analysts said look no further than China, where auto sales plunged 79% last month.


“Sales are definitely falling,” said John Luciano, managing partner with Street Volkswagen in Amarillo, Texas, and chairman of Volkswagen’s national dealer council. “We’re waking up in a different world a little bit more every day.” At Russ Shelton’s Buick GMC dealership in Rochester Hills, Michigan, so far this month customer visits are down 30% while the service department has seen a 40% drop in business due to the outbreak. “When schools close, mothers get worried – and this stops economic activity,” industry consultant and former GM executive Warren Browne said. Cox Automotive now sees negative U.S. economic growth in the second quarter and has withdrawn its forecast for 16.6 million new-vehicle sales in the United States this year.

Read more …

“We’re definitely voting. They voted during the Civil War. We’re gonna vote..”

Next Week’s Primaries To Proceed Despite Coronavirus, Louisiana Delay (R.)

Louisiana on Friday became the first U.S. state to postpone its presidential nominating contest because of the coronavirus pandemic, while four states holding their primaries next week said those elections would go forward as planned. The Southern state said it would reschedule voting in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election because of the outbreak. Officials there said they would postpone their scheduled April 4 primary to June 20 “to best protect the health and safety of Louisiana voters and voting officials,” Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said at a news conference. The four states holding their primaries on Tuesday – Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio – said in a joint statement they would proceed with their contests while taking steps to ensure public safety.

“Americans have participated in elections during challenging times in the past, and, based on the best information we have from public health officials, we are confident that voters in our states can safely and securely cast their ballots in this election, and that otherwise healthy poll workers can and should carry out their patriotic duties on Tuesday,” election officials from the four states said. “We’re definitely voting. They voted during the Civil War. We’re gonna vote,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters on Friday. Louisiana’s move poses a problem for the Democratic Party, which mandates all nominating contests must be held by early June or states risk losing delegates to the party convention in July.


[..] Biden’s attempt to connect with voters via a virtual town hall on Friday was plagued by early technical glitches that delayed its start and made most of his early remarks impossible to understand. The event provided the first glimpse into the challenges of running a virtual campaign. He used his opening remarks to discuss his plan for tackling the coronavirus crisis and pleading for citizens to listen to public health officials and wash their hands. He then turned to virtual attendees for questions and comments. The first person said, “Mr. Biden’s speech was garbled the entire time.”

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Let Washington handle it, make it free.

Major US Internet Firms Agree Not To Cancel Service Over Next 60 Days (R.)

The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that major internet providers – including Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc – agreed not to terminate service for subscribers for the next 60 days if they are unable to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said after calls with more than 50 companies that they also agreed to waive any late fees residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic. They also agreed to open Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs them, the FCC said.

Millions more Americans are expected to work from home as employers and states urge people to telework to reduce the potential to spread the coronavirus outbreak. Others agreeing to take part are Alphabet Inc’s Google Fiber, Charter Communications Inc, CenturyLink Inc, Cox Communications, Sprint Corp, T-Mobile US Inc. “As the coronavirus outbreak spreads and causes a series of disruptions to the economic, educational, medical and civic life of our country, it is imperative that Americans stay connected,” Pai said in a statement. “Broadband will enable them to communicate with their loved ones and doctors, telework, ensure their children can engage in remote learning.”


FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, praised the companies adopting the pledge, but said the FCC should do more. She called on the commission to “provide hotspots for loan for students whose school doors have closed” and should “work with health care providers to ensure connectivity for telehealth services are available for hospitals, doctors, and nurses treating coronavirus patients and those who are quarantined.” Pai also said he had asked providers that offer low-income consumers lower-speed cheaper service to increase speeds and expand eligibility. Comcast said Thursday it was raising its speeds for all its low-income users, while AT&T said it was waiving data caps for consumers that have plans with usage caps.

Read more …

John Solomon promises more. Will there be elections, though?

FBI’s Russia Collusion Case Fell Apart In January 2017 (Solomon)

Flynn’s motion is confirmed by a 2018 letter obtained by Just the News between Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office and defense lawyers. It shows the DOJ exoneration memo was written after Flynn had been interviewed by FBI agents in January 2017 and after the government learned the former Defense Intelligence Agency chief had kept his old agency briefed on his contacts with Russia, something that weighed heavily against the notion he was aiding Moscow.

“According to an internal DOJ memo dated January 30, 2017, after the Jan. 24 interview, the FBI advised that based on the interview the FBI did not believe Flynn was acting as an agent of Russia,” Mueller’s team wrote in the letter. U.S. District Judge Emmett Sullivan so far has concluded that the exoneration of Flynn on the Russia collusion charge wasn’t relevant to his conviction since he pled guilty to a different crime, making a false statement to the FBI. But for the American public, such a revelation is momentous. Less than two weeks into Trump’s presidency the FBI had concluded his national security adviser had not been working as an agent of Russia.

While that was the view of federal law enforcement, the false storyline of Flynn as a Russian stooge was broadcasted across the nation, with leaks of his conversations with a Russian ambassador and other tales, for many more months. In an interview with Just the News and its John Solomon Reports podcast, Powell confirmed she was provided by letter three sentences from the DOJ memo but has been unable to get the full document. “It’s just horrible,” Powell said. “They gave us a little three lines summary of it and the letter and told us it existed but have refused to give us the actual document, which I know means there’s a lot of other information in it that would be helpful to us.” Powell also confirmed that Mueller was fully aware of a letter sent in early January 2017 to Flynn from Britain’s national security adviser raising concerns about Steele’s credibility.

The British government “hand-delivered” a letter to Flynn’s team that “totally disavowed any credibility of Christopher Steele, and would have completely destroyed the Russia collusion narrative,” Powell said. Flynn himself has no memory of receiving the communique, but people around him at the time do and confirmed the existence of the document, Powell explained. Flynn was questioned about it during his debriefings by Mueller’s team, she added. “I was told that a copy of the document would have been given to [then-National Security Adviser] Susan Rice as well,” she added. “So the Obama administration knew full well that the entire Russia collusion mess was a farce.”

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Evangelical humor.

‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ At DC Museum Of The Bible Are All Forgeries (NatGeo)

On the fourth floor of the Museum of the Bible, a sweeping permanent exhibit tells the story of how the ancient scripture became the world’s most popular book. A warmly lit sanctum at the exhibit’s heart reveals some of the museum’s most prized possessions: fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient texts that include the oldest known surviving copies of the Hebrew Bible. But now, the Washington, D.C. museum has confirmed a bitter truth about the fragments’ authenticity. On Friday, independent researchers funded by the Museum of the Bible announced that all 16 of the museum’s Dead Sea Scroll fragments are modern forgeries that duped outside collectors, the museum’s founder, and some of the world’s leading biblical scholars. Officials unveiled the findings at an academic conference hosted by the museum. “The Museum of the Bible is trying to be as transparent as possible,” says CEO Harry Hargrave.


“We’re victims—we’re victims of misrepresentation, we’re victims of fraud.” In a report spanning more than 200 pages, a team of researchers led by art fraud investigator Colette Loll found that while the pieces are probably made of ancient leather, they were inked in modern times and modified to resemble real Dead Sea Scrolls. “These fragments were manipulated with the intent to deceive,” Loll says. The new findings don’t cast doubt on the 100,000 real Dead Sea Scroll fragments, most of which lie in the Shrine of the Book, part of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. However, the report’s findings raise grave questions about the “post-2002” Dead Sea Scroll fragments, a group of some 70 snippets of biblical text that entered the antiquities market in the 2000s. Even before the new report, some scholars believed that most to all of the post-2002 fragments were modern fakes.

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How long does it take to kill 50 million years?

It Would Take 50 Million Years To Recover New Zealand’s Lost Bird Species (F.)

Long before people arrived in New Zealand, it was dominated by multitudes of unique birds. They were absolutely everywhere: big birds, little birds, colorful birds, flightless birds. In the absence of reptilian and mammalian predators, birds evolved to fill every available niche, from giant moas that stood 11 feet tall and weighed as much as 230 kilograms (510 pounds) that were the ecological equivalent of deer and antelopes, to the largest eagle that ever lived, which was New Zealand’s apex predator, functioning similarly to lions and tigers and other big cats. But after humans arrived 700 years ago, it took us only a few hundred years to drive more than half of New Zealand’s bird species into extinction, and more than 30% of the birds that survived our original onslaughts are threatened with extinction today. Nearly two-thirds could be under threat in the future.

Considering these dire circumstances, an international team of scientists wondered how long it might take for New Zealand to recover its full diversity of bird species lost to human actions. According to their recently published study, the researchers estimated this process would take approximately 50 million years (50Ma). Further, they found that, if bird species that are currently threatened are allowed to go extinct, it would take an additional 10Ma for New Zealand to achieve today’s (severely compromised) level of species diversity. “The conservation decisions we make today will have repercussions for millions of years to come”, said the lead author of the study, Luis Valente, a Research Associate at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.


“Some people believe that if you leave nature alone it will quickly recuperate, but the reality is that, at least in New Zealand, nature would need several million years to recover from human actions — and perhaps will never really recover.” New Zealand is home to a collection of odd birds, including the wrybill, a small shorebird whose bill curves sideways; the iconic kiwis, whose feathers resemble fur and which are the only bird species in the world to have nostrils at the tip of their beak; the flightless kakapo, which resembles a large moss-colored owl and is the heaviest parrot alive today; and of course, the kea, which is the world’s only alpine parrot and who is pushing the boundaries of our understanding of how astonishingly clever parrots can be. Despite this modern surfeit of avian biodiversity, it is just a mere whisper of what once lived on New Zealand, which was the result of many millions of years of evolutionary history.

Read more …

 

 

 

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Dec 132019
 


John Vachon Auto of migrant fruit worker at gas station, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Jul 1940

 

A Very Difficult Night (Craig Murray)
Someone Interfered In The UK Election, And It Wasn’t Russia (CJ)
EU Executive Expects Mandate For Talks On Post-Brexit Trade Deal (R.)
The Japanization of the European Union (Jesús Huerta de Soto)
Fed Will Flood Market With Gargantuan $500 Billion To Avoid Repo Crisis (ZH)
Terms Of US-China ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal Will “Never Be Made Public” (ZH)
Tulsi Gabbard Takes No Prisoners In DNC Warfare (LN)
Boeing Scuttles Timeline For 737 MAX Return After CEO Meets With FAA (R.)
Qantas Selects Airbus Over Boeing For World’s Longest Flights (R.)

 

 

Most of my news feeds are focused on just one thing today: the UK elections. Not a particularly intersting issue in my view. But here goes:

Biggest winners: Not Boris Johnson, but Dominic Cummings and the Scots (including the SNP). Johnson has won nothing at all. On the other hand Cummings has again shown he can win elections, and the Scots will show they can too. Johnson will now be without Cummings, and then he is nowhere.

Biggest loser: Not Jeremy Corbyn, but Julian Assange. Had Corbyn won, Assange would be much closer to fair treatment and perhaps freedom. Those doors are closed now. Corbyn lost because Cummings used far advanced new media techniques, while Labour are still canvassing door to door like it’s 1960 or ’70. Yes, Corbyn also lost to smear, but that goes hand in hand with the media techniques. Labour has a lot of catching up to do.

 

Here’s Craig Murray from Scotland:

A Very Difficult Night (Craig Murray)

It is hard to doubt the basic accuracy of that exit poll now the Conservatives have taken the Blyth Valley. If the Conservatives sweep to power in England, then we have to move very early – and I mean within weeks – on Scottish Independence . I am extremely sorry for all my friends in England who have no such escape route from the Conservative Party. I am much more impacted by this result than I have ever been before, because it brings a still more right wing Conservative Party to untrammeled power, and because I genuinely feel the electorate which has swung are fueled by anti-immigrant racism.


I am not vehemently opposed to Brexit itself, funnily enough, but the ending of freedom of movement and single market access I view as crazed xenophobia. I am also unhappy with the campaign itself, which seemed to take media bias to new levels in ways I have documented, particularly from the BBC. We saw the same in 2014, and the entire experience has been a reminder of how difficult to fight any new independence referendum will be. If the SNP takes 50 seats in Scotland I shall be delighted. Scotland is of course a Remain area. I am for the next glass of Lagavulin clinging to the idea that Remain leaning areas in England may cause trouble for the Tories too.

Read more …

A bit very obvious by now, but it’s not about newspapers; they’re just extra.

Someone Interfered In The UK Election, And It Wasn’t Russia (CJ)

As of this writing British exit polls are indicating a landslide victory for the Tories. Numerous other factors went into this result, including most notably a Labour Party ambivalently straddling an irreconcilable divide on the issue of Brexit, but it is also undeniable that the election was affected by a political smear campaign that was entirely unprecedented in scale and vitriol in the history of western democracy. This smear campaign was driven by billionaire-controlled media outlets, along with intelligence and military agencies, as well as state media like the BBC. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been described as the most smeared politician in history, and this is a fair description.

Journalist Matt Kennard recently compiled documentation of dozens of incidents in which former and current spooks and military officials collaborated with plutocratic media institutions to portray Corbyn as a threat to national security. Journalistic accountability advocates like Media Lens and Jonathan Cook have been working for years to compile evidence of the mass media’s attempts to paint Corbyn as everything from a terrorist sympathizer to a Communist to a Russian asset to an IRA supporter to a closet antisemite. Just the other day The Grayzone documented how establishment narrative manager Ben Nimmo was enlisted to unilaterally target Corbyn with a fact-free Russiagate-style conspiracy theory in the lead-up to the election, a psyop that was uncritically circulated by both right-wing outlets like The Telegraph as well as ostensibly “left”-wing outlets like The Guardian.

[..] The historically unprecedented smear campaign that was directed at Corbyn from the right, the far-right, and from within his own party had an effect. Of course it did. If you say this today on social media you’ll get a ton of comments telling you you’re wrong, telling you every vote against Labour was exclusively due to the British people not wanting to live in a Marxist dystopia, telling you it was exclusively because of Brexit, totally denying any possibility that the years of deceitful mass media narrative management that British consciousness was pummelled with day in and day out prior to the election had any impact whatsoever upon its results. Right. Sure guys. Persistent campaigns to deliberately manipulate people’s minds using mass media have no effect on their decisions at all.

Read more …

The talks to deliver Brexit will take forever and may well be Johnson’s Waterloo. Nothing about this has changed overnight. And a hard Brexit was ruled out by the Benn bill. Any attempts at going around it will end up in court again.

EU Executive Expects Mandate For Talks On Post-Brexit Trade Deal (R.)

The European Commission expect European Union leaders on Friday to grant it a mandate for talks with Britain on a future trade agreement, the head of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference. Exit polls showed the Conservative Party of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson winning a clear majority in parliament, which European diplomats said meant there would be no more delays to Britain’s exit form the EU. “We are ready to negotiate whatever is necessary, and it will be important tomorrow to get the mandate for the steps from the council (of EU leaders),” von der Leyen said. “This will be the core of our debate tomorrow,” she said.

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Very long and detailed lecture by de Soto.

The Japanization of the European Union (Jesús Huerta de Soto)

Japan’s public debt is equal to 250 percent of its GDP. That is easy to say, but here in Europe we are criticizing Portugal and Italy, whose indebtedness is between 110 and 130 percent, and Greece, with a figure of 170 percent. That is, these countries are roughly half as indebted as Japan is at 250 percent of GDP. As for the annual deficit in the Japanese public accounts, it is not, for instance, the 3 percent established as a limit in the Eurozone nor even 4 or 5 percent. The annual deficit in the Japanese public accounts is 6 percent, while economic growth has nearly flatlined. In other words, it is a case of clear economic lethargy and very low inflation (which we will discuss later): interest rates around zero or even negative rates, inflation of 1 percent, and seemingly “full” employment (with a very high volume of hidden unemployment and ongoing losses in productivity and competitiveness).


To use a military term, Japan has already used up all its available interventionist ammunition, and not only has it not achieved anything, but the result has been counterproductive and disappointing. Everything that could be tried has been tried, and no palpable goal has been reached. And now the key question is: Why has nothing been achieved? And the answer is clear: because in all these decades, there have been no structural reforms to liberalize the economy, to liberalize the labor market, to introduce deregulation in the midst of suffocating interventionism at all levels, to lower taxes across the board, to reorganize and balance the public accounts, nor even to reduce public spending.

Read more …

Bankers screw up, Fed rescues. If we don’t cut that cycle, things can only get worse. As soon as some of this money would/could stabilize things somewhat, bankers would take more risk again.

Fed Will Flood Market With Gargantuan $500 Billion To Avoid Repo Crisis (ZH)

In previewing today’s Fed statement regarding repurchase operations, on Tuesday Curvature Securities repo expert Scott Skyrm said that he expects the Fed to announce a $50 billion (at least) term operation for Monday December 23 (double the current term ops) and a $50 billion (at least) term operation for Monday, December 30. This prediction was in response to Zoltan Pozsar’s warning that reserve levels are too low and the result would be a market crash that could spark QE4. Well, moments ago the NY Fed did publish it latest weekly “Statement Regarding Repurchase Operations” as expected laying out the Fed’s expected repo operations for the period December 13 – January 14… and it blew Skyrm’s expectations out of the water

According to the statement, the NY Fed will continue to offer two-week term repo operations twice per week, four of which span year end. In addition, the Desk will also offer another longer-maturity term repo operation that spans year end. The amount offered in this operation will be at least $50 billion, just as Skyrm expected. But there was more. Much more. In addition, to prevent a cascading year-end liquidity squeeze, Fed overnight repo operations will continue to be held each day, and just to be safe, the Fed will go to town by substantially expanding their size: On December 31, 2019 and January 2, 2020, the overnight repo offering will increase to at least $150 billion to cover the “turn” in a flood of overnight liquidity.

In addition, on December 30, 2019, the Desk will offer a $75 billion repo that settles on December 31, 2019 and matures on January 2, 2020. And just in case that’s not enough, the NY Fed’s markets desk also added that it “intends to adjust the timing and amounts of repo operations as needed to mitigate the risk of money market pressures that could adversely affect policy implementation, consistent with the directive from the FOMC.” What the Fed means is that in addition to expanding the sizes of its “turn” overnight repos to $150 billion, the Fed will conduct a total of nine term repos covering the year-end turn from Dec 16 to Jan 14, 8 of which will amount to $35BN and the first will be $50BN, for a total injection of a whopping $365 billion in the coming month.

Read more …

Well, we should see it in the tariffs announced?!

Terms Of US-China ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal Will “Never Be Made Public” (ZH)

There was much rejoicing and buying of stocks when Trump tweeted, to much fanfare and bombast early this morning, that he is “Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China. They want it, and so do we!.” Sure enough, just a few hours later, there was a deal. Or was there? Because whereas we now know that the US & China have agreed to a Phase One deal on Paper, and Trump signed off on it… nobody will ever know what’s in the actual deal, even once we pass it! Here’s what we do know: according to Fox Business correspondent Edwards Lawrence, China “verbally agreed to buy $50b in agriculture, but that will not be in writing.” In fact it appears that nothing will be.

Also, the deal supposedly includes intellectual property protections, something the US has been asking for as a core demand. Needless to say, a Chinese IP concession will most certainly not be in writing too. Other parts of the deal include “increased access to the financial services market. There is language where the Chinese agree not to manipulate their currency. There is enforcement written into the agreement. Dec 15th tariffs do not go forward.” Perhaps most important for traders is that this is the end of the overnight “trade deal optimism” rally: phase two of the trade deal will “begin after 2020 elections.” Which means a whole year without Trump tweets that a deal is very close and that China is dying to do it.

Yet for all of the above, here’s the most mindboggling part. Lawrence said that the Chinese have requested that the language of the trade deal will never be made public. That’s right – there is (supposedly) a “deal”, written on paper somewhere, specifying certain terms, and signed by certain US and Chinese presidents. And nobody will ever see what that deal actually states. Effectively, the Phase One trade deal “could” be nothing more than a market manipulating blank piece of paper, and since China has only pledged to do something – which nobody will know as it is not written – and since China has not committed contractually in the court of public opinion, it will have absolutely no incentive to abide by the Phase One “deal”

Read more …

Tulsi, too, needs to focus on “new” media. It’s where people get their news.

Tulsi Gabbard Takes No Prisoners In DNC Warfare (LN)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), the outspoken, independent thinker from Hawaii running for the loftiest perch in the land, has just said “no” to taking the next Democratic presidential primary debate stage. This signals either a surrender or a strategic end-run around the field. Yes, we’ve been down this road before. It is the same sentiment she expressed prior to the last debate; although she threatened to boycott the circus, she did qualify, show up, and rebuke the other candidates and the Democratic Party. Gabbard has been Public Enemy #1 in those circles since. Instead of playing into the cemented narrative, Tulsi, who has not so far reached the conditions imposed for participation in the next round, is not wasting her time.

As the sixth platform for national domination looms, Gabbard tweeted a different plan, saying: “For a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th ‘debate’ — regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls. I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina.” Whether her bold decision is based on not quite reaching the necessary baseline requirements, or because she has had enough of the game playing, Tulsi seems indifferent to striving for inclusion. And we all know Gabbard is not one to tread water in the shallow end of the pool when a good, strong crawl will cover more territory.

[..] The DNC was insistent that its criteria for inclusion have been fair and balanced. Just ask the committee’s spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa, who responded: “This has been the most inclusive debate process with more women and candidates of color participating in more debates than billionaires. We are proud of this historic and diverse field with 20 candidates participating in the first two debates and at least 10 candidates in each debate after that.” What’s ironic is that no people of color – because of the strident stipulations imposed – will be at the Dec. 19 debate hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. PBS is set to broadcast the debate, and most likely, fewer people will watch the event than Gabbard can reach by holding town halls or meet and greets. Perhaps she’s on to something, after all.

Read more …

Both American and Southwest now target April.

Boeing Scuttles Timeline For 737 MAX Return After CEO Meets With FAA (R.)

Boeing on Thursday abandoned its goal of winning approval this month from the Federal Aviation Administration to unground the 737 MAX after Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg met with senior U.S. aviation officials. The announcement came after a congressional hearing on Wednesday in which numerous lawmakers prodded the FAA to take a tougher line with Boeing as it continues to review the plane that has been grounded since March [..] FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said on Wednesday he would not clear the plane to fly before 2020 and disclosed the agency has an ongoing investigation into 737 production issues in Renton, Washington. He added there are nearly a dozen milestones that must be completed before the MAX returns to service.

Approval is not likely until at least February and could be delayed until March, U.S. officials told Reuters. Muilenburg and Boeing’s commercial airplanes chief, Stan Deal, met with Dickson and “committed to addressing all of the FAA’s questions,” the company said, adding it will work to support the agency’s “requirements and their timeline as we work to safely return the Max to service in 2020.” Dickson told Muilenburg, according to an email sent to lawmakers by the FAA, that “Boeing’s focus should be on the quality and timeliness of data submittals for FAA review. He made clear that FAA’s certification requirements must be 100% complete before return to service.”

[..] Separately, American Airlines said on Thursday it was extending cancellations of 737 MAX flights through April 6. American, the largest U.S. airline, had previously canceled about 140 flights a day through March 4 and now expects to resume 737 MAX passenger flights on April 7. Gary Kelly, the CEO of Boeing’s largest 737 MAX customer, Southwest Airlines, said he was “concerned” about what Boeing decides to do with its production line. Southwest was supposed to have 75 MAX jets in service this year and, like other airlines, it has had to cancel routes and scale back growth plans as it operates a slimmer fleet. Kelly said it is “likely” the airline will again need to push back its restart date from March.

Read more …

Losses keep piling up.

Qantas Selects Airbus Over Boeing For World’s Longest Flights (R.)

Australia’s Qantas Airways picked Airbus over Boeing as the preferred supplier for jets capable of the world’s longest commercial flights from Sydney to London, dealing the U.S. planemaker its latest setback this year. The choice of up to 12 A350-1000 planes fitted with an extra fuel tank for flights of up to 21 hours cements Airbus as the leader in ultra-long haul flying globally at a time when Boeing is battling delays on its rival 777X program and a broader corporate crisis following two deadly 737 MAX crashes. The Qantas flights would begin in the first half of 2023, but remain subject to the airline reaching a pay deal with pilots, who would need to extend their duty times to around 23 hours to account for potential delays and switch between flying the A350 and the airline’s current A330 fleet.


A final decision on an order is expected in March, the airline said on Friday. Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the airline “had a lot of confidence” in the market for non-stop services from Sydney to London and to New York based on two years of flying non-stop from Perth to London, where it has achieved a 30% fare premium over one-stop rivals in premium classes. “The A350 is a fantastic aircraft and the deal on the table with Airbus gives us the best possible combination of commercial terms, fuel efficiency, operating cost and customer experience,” he said.

Read more …

 

 

 

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Dec 012019
 


Arthur Rothstein Family leaving South Dakota drought for Oregon Jul 1936

 

Fastest-Growing Debt Category In US Not Student Loans Or Credit Cards (CNBC)
Automakers Offer Record Incentives As Trillion Dollar Auto Bubble Bursts (ZH)
The Fed’s Answer to the Ghastly Monster of its Creation (EP)
Germany Closes All Nuclear Plants, Must Bury Waste For 1 Million Years (CNN)
Spanish Judge To Question Assange Over Ecuador Embassy Spying Claims (El Pais)
‘We’re Working For The Dark Side’: Firm Accused Of Spying On Assange (RT)
Tulsi Gabbard: Wake Up And Smell Our $6.4 Trillion Wars (AC)
OPCW Manipulation Of Douma Report Requires Fresh Look At Skripal Case (MoA)
Prince Andrew Meeting With US Authorities Would Be A ‘Catch-22’ (G.)
Will The Epstein Story Ever be Fully Told? (Rice)
Scott Adams Has Some Ideas for a Calmer Internet (Wired)

 

 

Here, have some money.

Fastest-Growing Debt Category In US Not Student Loans Or Credit Cards (CNBC)

It’s the fastest-growing debt category in the country, but if you are thinking student loans or credit cards, you’re wrong. Personal loan balances now exceed $300 billion, as of the second quarter of this year, according to Experian, a whopping 11% yearly increase. For good reason, too, as personal loans can help to consolidate credit card debt, or make funds available for major projects, such as a home remodeling effort. For many of us, the allure is hard to ignore, but personal loans do differ in some key ways from other types of credit you might use, such as credit cards. It’s important to understand the key differences before signing on the dotted line.


As compared to credit cards, personal loan interest rates can vary much more dramatically, according to research by ValuePenguin. In fact, some borrowers with excellent credit may qualify for loans with interest rates as low as 5% or 6% with some lenders. On the other hand, borrowers with poor credit may encounter rates higher than the average credit card, sometimes exceeding 30%. This wide range of interest rates make personal loans more affordable for those with better credit, and may make the most sense for borrowers with excellent credit who can pay off the loan in a timely manner. On the other hand, borrowers with poor or fair credit may face interest rates higher than what they’d otherwise qualify for with a credit card.

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Can we recognize an industry that is dying? Or do we simply refuse?

Automakers Offer Record Incentives As Trillion Dollar Auto Bubble Bursts (ZH)

Early last month, we outlined how automobile sales deteriorated in late summer and prophesized how “this would set the stage for increased incentive spending by carmakers, who will be desperate to clear inventory heading into the end of the year.” It seems that we were right. Automakers are now offering the most discounts on record to entice deadbeat consumers in November, according to a new report from JD Power. The average incentive spending per vehicle is $4,538, an increase of 12% YoY. The previous high for the industry was $4,378 in 4Q17. Inventories for older model-year vehicles have soared in 2H19, forcing automakers to boost incentive spending to clear excess inventory. With the average APR to finance a vehicle around 5.3% for the month, the average transaction price remained above $34,000, down from $179 from last month but up $622 over the year.

As a result of low rates and record-high incentives, consumers spent $40.3 billion on new vehicles in November. This figure is up $2.7 billion from 2018. Thomas King, Senior Vice President of the Data and Analytics Division at JD Power, said, manufacturers will offer even greater incentives through December, and the trend could continue into early 2020. “Incentive spending typically rises by 3-4% in December, which would continue to drive overall spending to unprecedented territory,” King said. King warned: “This [incentive trend] is concerning for the health of the industry when combined with rising sub-prime sales, which are growing at the highest rate since August 2018.”

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“..the bull market in stocks is not a function of a booming economy. Rather, it’s a function of Fed madness. And its existence becomes ever more perilous with each passing day.”

The Fed’s Answer to the Ghastly Monster of its Creation (EP)

The launch angle of the U.S. stock market over the past decade has been steep and relentless. The S&P 500, after bottoming out at 666 on March 6, 2009, has rocketed up over 370 percent. New highs continue to be reached practically every day. Over this stretch, many investors have been conditioned to believe the stock market only goes up. That blindly pumping money into an S&P 500 ETF is the key to investment riches. In good time, this conditioning will be recalibrated with a rude awakening. You can count on it. In the interim, the bull market may continue a bit longer…or it may not. But, to be clear, after a 370 percent run-up, buying the S&P 500 represents a speculation on price. A gamble that the launch angle furthers its steep trajectory. Here’s why…

Over the past decade, the U.S. economy, as measured by nominal GDP, has increased about 50%. This plots a GDP launch angle that is underwhelming when compared to the S&P 500. Corporate earnings have fallen far short of share prices. Hence, the bull market in stocks is not a function of a booming economy. Rather, it’s a function of Fed madness. And its existence becomes ever more perilous with each passing day. Central planners at the Fed – like other major central banks – have taken monetary policy to a state of madness. Zero interest rate policy, negative interest rate policy, quantitative easing, operation twist, quantitative tightening, reserve management, repo market intervention, not-QE, mass-asset purchases, and more.

These schemes have fostered massive growth in public and private debt with nothing but lackluster economic growth to show. What’s more, these schemes have produced massive asset bubbles that have skyrocketed wealth inequality and inflamed countless variants of new populism. Yet the clever fellows at the Fed are blind to the fact that they’re most responsible for fabricating this monster. And now they want to rectify the ghastly deformities of their creation… Earlier this week, for example, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari remarked that: “Monetary policy can play the kind of redistributing role once thought to be the preserve of elected officials.”

How exactly Mickey Mousing with credit markets could attain this objective is unclear. But, like yield curve control (YCC), Kashkari wants to give it a go. These sorts of amorphous meddling operations is how he answers his higher calling. You see, Kashkari’s a man with crazy eyes. But he’s also a man with even crazier ideas. He’s an extreme economic interventionist – and a crackpot. Though he wears his burdens on his sleeve. If you recall, as federal bailout chief, Kashkari functioned as the highly visible hand of the market. When the sky was falling in early-2009, he awoke each morning, put on his pants one leg at a time, drank his coffee, and rapidly funneled Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s $700 billion of TARP funds to the government’s preferred financial institutions.

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No human being can guarantee anything for a million years. It’s a mad mad claim.

Germany Closes All Nuclear Plants, Must Bury Waste For 1 Million Years (CNN)

When it comes to the big questions plaguing the world’s scientists, they don’t get much larger than this. Where do you safely bury more than 28,000 cubic meters – roughly six Big Ben clock towers – of deadly radioactive waste for the next million years? This is the “wicked problem” facing Germany as it closes all of its nuclear power plants in the coming years, according to Professor Miranda Schreurs, part of the team searching for a storage site. Experts are now hunting for somewhere to bury almost 2,000 containers of high-level radioactive waste. The site must be beyond rock-solid, with no groundwater or earthquakes that could cause a leakage. The technological challenges – of transporting the lethal waste, finding a material to encase it, and even communicating its existence to future humans – are huge.


Germany decided to phase out all its nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, amid increasing safety concerns. The seven power stations still in operation today are due to close by 2022. With their closure comes a new challenge — finding a permanent nuclear graveyard by the government’s 2031 deadline. Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy says it aims to find a final repository for highly radioactive waste “which offers the best possible safety and security for a period of a million years.” The country was a “blank map” of potential sites, it added.

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Took 3 months. Normally, a matter of days.

Spanish Judge To Question Assange Over Ecuador Embassy Spying Claims (El Pais)

The British justice system has finally agreed to let a Spanish judge question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a witness in a case involving allegations that a Spanish security firm spied on him while he was living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Judge José de la Mata of Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, will interview the cyber-activist via video link on December 20, said judicial sources. Assange will be transferred from Belmarsh prison in southeast London to Westminster Magistrates Court to answer questions from De la Mata, who is investigating alleged violations of client-attorney privilege between the cyber-activist and his lawyers, and allegations that these conversations were passed on to the CIA.


British civil servants visited Assange in prison last week, asked him whether he agreed to be questioned by De la Mata, and delivered a document listing the events under investigation by the judge, who had issued a European Investigation Order (EIO) in September requesting assistance from British authorities. It has not been easy to secure the UK’s permission to question the Australian cyber-activist. The Spanish judge sent London the EIO on September 25, requesting authorization to interview Assange as part of an investigation into Morales and his company for breach of privacy, violation of client-attorney privilege and illegal arms possession.

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Has the guy been arrested yet?

‘We’re Working For The Dark Side’: Firm Accused Of Spying On Assange (RT)

A private security firm that allegedly spied on Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London bragged about its nefarious activities and ties to US intelligence, according to German public broadcaster NDR. The troubling revelations are part of a criminal complaint filed by NDR against Undercover Global, a Spanish security company contracted by the Ecuadorian government to film and review guests at their embassy in London. The firm is accused of using the commission to carry out a vast spying operation targeting the WikiLeaks co-founder, who sought political asylum in the embassy for seven years before his hosts handed him over to British authorities. The German broadcaster claims to have a huge cache of documents detailing the illegal surveillance operation – which also targeted NDR journalists who visited Assange.


Former employees of Undercover Global said that the company’s CEO, David Morales, didn’t try to hide his ties to the US government. Upon returning from a trip to the United States, Morales allegedly told one of his employees: “From now on, we play in the first league… We are now working for the dark side.” He is said to have traveled up to twice a month to the States to deliver materials taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy. When asked by colleagues who his “American friends” were, Morales reportedly replied: “the US Secret Service.” Incredibly, a lawyer from Undercover Global acknowledged to NDR that the company works with US intelligence agencies – but denied any wrongdoing at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

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“..our wars have killed 801,000 directly and resulted in a multiple of that number dead indirectly..”

Tulsi Gabbard: Wake Up And Smell Our $6.4 Trillion Wars (AC)

The Democratic establishment is increasingly irritated. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, long-shot candidate for president, is attacking her own party for promoting the “deeply destructive” policy of “regime change wars.” Gabbard has even called Hillary Clinton “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party.” [..] Gabbard recognizes that George W. Bush is not the only simpleton warmonger who’s plunged the nation into conflict, causing enormous harm. In the last Democratic presidential debate, she explained that the issue was “personal to me” since she’d “served in a medical unit where every single day, I saw the terribly high, human costs of war.”

Compare her perspective to that of the ivory tower warriors of Right and Left, ever ready to send others off to fight not so grand crusades. The best estimate of the costs of the post-9/11 wars comes from the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. The Institute says that $6.4 trillion will be spent through 2020. They estimate that our wars have killed 801,000 directly and resulted in a multiple of that number dead indirectly. More than 335,000 civilians have died—and that’s an extremely conservative guess. Some 21 million people have been forced from their homes. Yet the terrorism risk has only grown, with the U.S. military involved in counter-terrorism in 80 nations. Obviously, without American involvement there would still be conflicts.

Some counter-terrorism activities would be necessary even if the U.S. was not constantly swatting geopolitical wasps’ nests. Nevertheless, it was Washington that started or joined these unnecessary wars (e.g., Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen) and expanded necessary wars well beyond their legitimate purposes (Afghanistan). As a result, American policymakers bear responsibility for much of the carnage. The Department of Defense is responsible for close to half of the estimated expenditures. About $1.4 trillion goes to care for veterans. Homeland security and interest on security expenditures take roughly $1 trillion each. And $131 million goes to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which have overspent on projects that have delivered little.

More than 7,000 American military personnel and nearly 8,000 American contractors have died. About 1,500 Western allied troops and 11,000 Syrians fighting ISIS have been killed. The Watson Institute figures that as many as 336,000 civilians have died, but that uses the very conservative numbers provided by the Iraq Body Count. The IBC counts 207,000 documented civilian deaths but admits that doubling the estimate would probably yield a more accurate figure. Two other respected surveys put the number of deaths in Iraq alone at nearly 700,000 and more than a million, though those figures have been contested. More than a thousand aid workers and journalists have died, as well as up to 260,000 opposition fighters. Iraq is the costliest conflict overall, with as many as 308,000 dead (or 515,000 from doubling the IBC count). Syria cost 180,000 lives, Afghanistan 157,000, Yemen 90,000, and Pakistan 66,000.

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“..a psycho agent 25 times stronger than LSD..”

OPCW Manipulation Of Douma Report Requires Fresh Look At Skripal Case (MoA)

The OPCW had send blood samples from the Skripals to the Spiez laboratory in Switzerland which found BZ, a psycho agent 25 times stronger than LSD. The OPCW hid this fact in its reports. An attack with BZ on the Skripals would be consistent with the observed symptoms that bystanders had described. The Skripals were indeed hallucinating and behaved very strangly with Sergei Skipal lifting his arms up to the sky while sitting on a bench. Exposure to BZ would also explain the Skripals’ survival. The OPCW explained the BZ find by claiming that it had mixed BZ into the probe to test the laboratory. Something which it said it regularly does. At that time I still believed in the OPCW and found that explanation reasonable:

“The OPCW responded to Russian question about the BZ and high rate of A-234 in the Spiez Laboratory probe and report. OPCW said today that it was a control probe to test the laboratory. Such probes are regularly slipped under the real probes to make sure that the laboratories the OPCW uses are able to do their job and do not manipulate their results. That explanation is reasonable. I guess we can close the BZ theories and go back to food poisoning as the most likely cause of the Skripals’ illness.” In light of the OPCW management manipulation or suppression of the reports of its own specialists for the purpose of attributing the Douma incident to the Syrian government I have to change my opinion. I hereby retract my earlier acceptance of the OPCW’s explanation in the Skripal case.

As we now know that the OPCW management manipulates reports at will we can no longer accept the ‘control probe’ excuse without further explanations or evidence. Here is what seems to have happened. The OPCW did not send a control sample to Spiez to test the laboratory. It sent the original samples from the Skripals. Spiez found BZ and reported that back to the OPCW. The OPCW suppressed the Spiez results in its own reports. Somehow Russia got wind of the Spiez results and exposed the manipulation. Acceptance that the Skripals had been ‘buzzed’, not ‘novi-shocked’ is central to the Skripal case. It makes the whole Skripal case as a British operation to prevent the repatriation of Sergei Skripal to Russia much more plausible.

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They can’t even serve him with a subpoena because his staff would shield him. Time for the Queen to do the right thing. Or abdicate.

Prince Andrew Meeting With US Authorities Would Be A ‘Catch-22’ (G.)

Prince Andrew is not charged with wrongdoing but with the BBC airing an interview with Giuffre on 2 December the controversy is only likely to ramp up. [..] If Prince Andrew were lawfully served with a subpoena – be it for a grand jury, or a trial or deposition – generally speaking, he will need to comply. However, it is far more difficult to serve him outside the US. “Due to the heightened measures of security that surround the royal family, it certainly is far more difficult to walk up to a member of the royal family and serve them a subpoena as you would a private citizen,” Weinstein said. While there are rules about how to serve subpoenas on a foreign national on US soil, such as surprising them at points of entry, diplomatic immunity and his being a high-profile royal could further complicate the issue.

Rebecca Roiphe, a New York Law School professor and former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, said there could be legal risks in Prince Andrew cooperating depending on his potential involvement with Epstein’s activities. “If he was peripherally involved in that, if he has information about others, I would say absolutely any attorney would take him in to cooperate,” Roiphe said. “The problem is, if he faces serious exposure and he’s a target of that information, most attorneys would not have him explain everything he knows – it really depends.” Mary Ellen O’Toole, who was formerly an FBI profiler deeply involved in finding the Unabomber killer, said that if Prince Andrew could provide information that would further the investigation and clear him at the same time, it “probably would be very helpful to him” to come forward.

O’Toole said the utility in cooperating with authorities largely depends on how he would handle the situation and that the pitfalls of such an interview were real as being untruthful with authorities can flout laws against making false statements, leading to further legal problems stemming from the interviews themselves. “I think it would be considered an adversarial situation – I don’t know how prepared he would be,” said O’Toole, who now directs the forensic science department at George Mason University in Virginia. “Sometimes people come in and say things that get them jammed up. “It is a catch-22 situation for him,” O’Toole said.

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Hell no.

Will The Epstein Story Ever be Fully Told? (Rice)

Every person named in court documents or press reports as allegedly or possibly having sex with an underaged girl or young woman at Epstein’s bequest has denied the allegations. Which begs the question: Who’s telling the truth and who’s lying? To form an opinion on this central question, authorities would presumably need to interview anyone with possible knowledge of alleged sexual or criminal acts. Investigators could then seek information that either corroborates or impeaches each person’s account. However, evidence is growing that the protocol in a typical “he-said, she-said” investigation is not being followed in the Epstein case. Instead, authorities may have simply accepted as truth the statements of denial issued by powerful public figures.

True or not, many Americans believe the Department of “Justice” will not prosecute (perhaps even question) scores of individuals who may have broken U.S. laws and who may have been victims of a disturbing blackmail operation. Perhaps authorities have concluded it’s better to not know. Perhaps they realize if they interview one suspected “John,” they’ll have to interview every potential “John.” if this number ends up being massive, and includes a Who’s Who of our society, important illusions about society’s leaders and our system of justice could be shattered. At its core, the Epstein case will reveal whether government prosecutors and investigators possess the courage and integrity to expose sordid truths about some of the wealthiest, most-connected, powerful people in the world, and perhaps reveal embarrassing truths about our government.

Americans might soon learn what objective is more important to Justice Department officials: Protecting the rich and powerful from the consequences of their behavior, or confirming that a system of justice grounded in trust can still be trusted. Sadly, many Americans are convinced authorities will not do the right thing. However, in proving skeptics wrong, authorities would accomplish at least four objectives, all noble. They would punish the guilty. They would provide justice to victims too long ignored. They would deter future Epsteins and future “Johns,” especially those unaccustomed to being held accountable for their actions. And, perhaps most importantly, they would allow a ray of sunshine to pierce the shadow of cynicism that’s spread across our country.

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“..the “48-hour rule,” states that everyone should be given a grace period of a couple of days to retract any controversial statement they’ve made..”

“..the “20-year rule,” which states that everyone should be automatically forgiven for any mistakes they made more than two decades ago—with the exception of certain serious crimes..”

Scott Adams Has Some Ideas for a Calmer Internet (Wired)

After expressing support for Donald Trump in 2016, Dilbert creator Scott Adams estimates that he lost about 30 percent of his income and 75 percent of his friends. He says that that level of political polarization has created a climate of genuine fear. “People will come up, and they’ll usually whisper—or they’ll lower their voice, because they don’t want to be heard—and they’ll say, ‘I really like what you’re doing on your Periscope, and the stuff you’re saying about Trump,’” Adams says in Episode 389 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “They’re actually afraid to say it out loud. They literally whisper it to me in public places.” Adams blames the current climate on social media and a clickbait business model that rewards sensationalism over fact-based reporting.

Since the technology is here to stay, he says we’re going to need new societal norms to help foster a calmer, more constructive political discourse. “When society changes, every now and then you need a new rule of manners,” he says. “So for example, when cell phones were invented, you needed a new set of rules about where can you use them and can you do it in a restaurant, etc. And social media has gotten so hot, I thought maybe we need a few new rules.” He lays out two such rules in his new book, Loserthink. His first proposal, which he calls the “48-hour rule,” states that everyone should be given a grace period of a couple of days to retract any controversial statement they’ve made, no questions asked. “We live in a better world if we accept people’s clarifications and we accept their apologies, no matter whether we think—internally—it’s insincere,” he says.

His other idea is the “20-year rule,” which states that everyone should be automatically forgiven for any mistakes they made more than two decades ago—with the exception of certain serious crimes. It used to be the case that people’s thoughtless remarks and embarrassing gaffes would naturally fade into obscurity, but social media has created a situation where it’s easy to endlessly dredge up a person’s worst moments. “We’re not the same people that we were 20 years ago,” Adams says. “We’ve learned a bunch, our context has changed. If you’re doing all the right stuff, you’re getting smarter and kinder and wiser as you’re getting older. So being blamed for something you did 20 years ago is effectively being blamed for something a stranger did, because you’re just not that person anymore.”

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