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)”

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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.

Read more …

 

 

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Nov 272019
 


Margaret Bourke-White Beach Accident, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY 1951

 

The House Will Not Vote On Impeachment. It Will Censure Trump (MoA)
The One Terrific Impeachment Defense The White House Is Not Making (DW)
Obama Privately Said He Would Speak Up To Stop Sanders (Hill)
MSNBC Doesn’t Try To Hide ‘Contempt’ Towards Gabbard (Hill)
China Risks Losing Its Financial Window On The World (G.)
More Than Half Of China’s Banks Fail Central Bank Stress Test (ZH)
Boeing’s Problems Mount As FAA Vows To Ramp Up 737 MAX Oversight (BI)
Is Macron Right? Is NATO, 70, Brain Dead? (Buchanan)
Questions Cloud Story Behind Browder, Magnitsky (Spiegel)
Narrative Managers Faceplant In Hilarious OPCW Scandal Spin Job (CJ)
A Tale of Prince Andrew and Julian Assange (George Galloway)

 

 

Sounds logical. Will logic decide this though? It doesn’t seem to have had much influence so far.

The House Will Not Vote On Impeachment. It Will Censure Trump (MoA)

If more Democratic swing-state representatives defect from the impeachment camp, which seems likely, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a big problem. How can she proceed?
• If the House votes down impeachment Donald Trump wins.
• If the House holds no vote on the issue Donald Trump wins.
• If the House votes for censure Donald Trump will have won on points and the issue will be over.
• If the House votes for impeachment the case goes to the Senate for trial.

The Republican led Senate has two choices:
• It can decide to not open an impeachment trial by simply voting against impeachment. Trump wins.
• It can open a impeachment trial, use it to extensively hurt the Democrats and, in the end, vote against impeachment. Trump wins big time.

Should the House vote for impeachment the Senate is likely to go the second path. During impeachment the whole Senate sits as the High Court. The House of Representatives sends ‘managers’ who act as prosecutors. The chief justice of the U.S. presides. A vote for impeachment at the end of the trial requires a two-third majority. The Republican majority in the Senate could use such a trial to bring disarray into the Democrats’ primary. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet are all senators and Democratic primary candidates. They would probably have to stop campaigning to attend the trials. Another leading Democratic candidate would be a top witness.

The Republican senators would immediately call up a number of people for questioning. These would include Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, his business partner Devon Archer, John Kerry who was Secretary of State when Biden intervened for Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky and of course the CIA spy and (not-)whistleblower Erik Ciaramella. It would also be of interest to hear how deep the former CIA director John Brennan was involved in the issue. The Senators could use the impeachment trial to dig into all the crimes the Democrats under Obama committed in Ukraine. They would concentrate not on the Maidan coup but on the aftermath when the deals were made. There surely is a lot of dirt out there and it is not only Joe Biden’s.

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Free speech.

The One Terrific Impeachment Defense The White House Is Not Making (DW)

As Texans will certainly remember, then-Governor Rick Perry was indicted in 2014 by a grand jury for abusing his official capacity when he threatened to withhold $7.5 million in funding for the Travis County district attorney’s Public Integrity Unit unless the district attorney, who had previously been convicted of drunk driving and subsequently incarcerated, resigned. Sounds a lot like a quid pro quo, no? At the time, the special prosecutor’s operative legal theory required that the First Amendment not protect a governmental actor’s right to threaten taking a lawful action in order to attain a preferred political outcome. If the special prosecutor were wrong, then Governor Perry’s attempted quid pro quo would hardly be illegal at all — it would actually be constitutionally protected speech.

At the time, powerful and ideologically diverse group of attorneys argued that the special prosecutor sought to criminalize constitutionally protected speech. The group included right-leaning legal luminaries such as law school professors Eugene Volokh and former Judge Michael McConnell, as well as former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The group also includes historically liberal-leaning First Amendment scholars, such as Floyd Abrams and Alan Dershowitz. The counsel of record on this notable amicus brief was then-private attorney James C. Ho — for whom, in the interest of full disclosure, I served as a law clerk upon his successful nomination as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The amicus brief argued that “[a] political official has the right to threaten to perform an official act in order to persuade another government official to engage in some other official act.” It continued: “That is not a crime — it is core political speech.” Governor Perry’s quid pro quo with respect to withholding funds from the Travis County district attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, the brief contended, “is protected free expression, and the [g]overnor cannot be prosecuted for it.” The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is the Lone Star State’s highest court for criminal cases, agreed. “[P]ublic servants have a First Amendment right to engage in expression, even threats, regarding their official duties,” the Court held. “Many threats that … public servants make as part of the normal functioning of government” would be criminalized under the special prosecutor’s legal theory, the Court continued.

The Court’s rationale is not even remotely partisan or political; it is pure logic and common sense. Quid pro quos routinely happen in politics as a day-to-day reality of politics. Before issuing his DAPA executive amnesty, President Barack Obama consistently threatened to use his “pen and phone” if Congress did not take the legislative action he desired. Unruly congressmen often have their committee assignments threatened by committee chairmen if they fail to vote in accordance with congressional leadership’s desires. Heck, does anyone think that neither House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) nor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) engages in dozens of quid pro quos on a weekly basis as a rudimentary requirement of executing their chamber-wide leadership jobs?

The Trump impeachment defense should adopt this line of argumentation. How on earth can the president of the United States be impeached for engaging in constitutionally protected speech? How on earth can the president’s deployment of constitutionally protected speech, in the context of foreign policy, amount to an “abuse or violation of some public trust” that merits impeachment less than one year away from a presidential election?

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Oh boy: “..we have a field of very accomplished, very serious and passionate and smart people..”

Obama Privately Said He Would Speak Up To Stop Sanders (Hill)

President Obama privately said he would speak up to stop Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) from becoming the Democratic presidential nominee, Politico reported Tuesday. The former president reportedly said if Sanders held a strong lead in the Democratic primary, he would speak out to prevent him from becoming the nominee. A close adviser to Obama told Politico he could not confirm whether Obama would stand up against Sanders. “He hasn’t said that directly to me,” the adviser said. “The only reason I’m hesitating at all is because, yeah, if Bernie were running away with it, I think maybe we would all have to say something. But I don’t think that’s likely. It’s not happening.”


An Obama spokesperson, when asked about his previous comments on Sanders, referred to the president’s past comments that he would back whomever became the Democratic nominee. “Look, we have a field of very accomplished, very serious and passionate and smart people who have a history of public service, and whoever emerges from the primary process I will work my tail off to make sure that they are the next president,” Obama said earlier this month, according to his spokesperson.

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This must be the weirdest poll graph I’ve ever seen.

MSNBC Doesn’t Try To Hide ‘Contempt’ Towards Gabbard (Hill)

Progressive journalist Michael Tracey claimed Tuesday that MSNBC is has dropped all pretenses for their “contempt” towards Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). The political news contributor said the left-leaning network has treated her fellow 2020 Democratic candidates, including businessman Andrew Yang and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unfairly, but he argued that with Gabbard it, “crosses a certain threshold.” “Fundamentally they’re beholden to whatever the market incentives are and right now it’s within their market interests to depict Tulsi as an infiltrator, as a Trojan horse in the Democratic Party and not deal on the substance with what she’s saying which is why over and over again they tar her as a Russian plant essentially,” Tracey told Hill.TV.


“There’s nobody who can really offer any kind of countervailing view because it’s just not economically advantageous for them at this point,” he added. Tracey pointed to a fiery exchange between Gabbard and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) during last week’s 2020 primary debate as a prime example. During the debate, Harris accused Gabbard of being a conservative media darling and consistently going on Fox News to bash President Obama during his tenure. “I think that it’s unfortunate that we have someone on this stage who is attempting to be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, who, during the Obama administration, spent four years full-time on Fox News criticizing President Obama,” Harris said. Gabbard dismissed the criticism, calling it “ridiculous.”

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I think Hong Kong is a lot more than a “financial window”. It feels like China would be blind without it.

China Risks Losing Its Financial Window On The World (G.)

[..] although the leisure sector may have landed in the rough, the decision by the US Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act could represent a more significant long-term threat to the territory’s economic fortunes. The bill has infuriated Beijing as an “intervention” in its affairs but despite the delicate stage of US-China trade talks, Donald Trump is expected to sign the legislation because of its near-unanimous backing in Congress. The bill means the US would make an annual check that Hong Kong has sufficient autonomy from Beijing to qualify for the special US trading consideration that bolsters its status as a world financial centre. It also gives officials the power to levy sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations in Hong Kong.

A second bill, which the Senate also approved unanimously on Tuesday, would ban the export of certain crowd-control munitions to Hong Kong authorities. George Magnus, the former chief economist of the investment bank UBS and now an associate of the London School of Economics’s IDEAS thinktank, said the legislation was potentially damaging for China. “Hong Kong is China’s financial window on the world, and vice versa. The territory lends China capital, clout and kudos. All of this is now at risk.” The consultancy Capital Economics said the bills highlighted a growing feeling that Hong Kong’s autonomy was “deteriorating” and could persuade some firms to look for new accommodation in east Asia. “The bill itself would not directly reduce the territory’s international status unless other countries follow suit,” Capital said this week.


“But it could lead the large number of foreign firms operating in the city to increasingly focus their energy on other Asian financial centres with less uncertain outlooks.” [..] with most experts agreed that Beijing will not back down and allow Carrie Lam’s government to give concessions to the pro-democracy groups, it is hard to see how the situation can be resolved quickly and pull the economy back from a disastrous, prolonged recession. Dan Harris, a lawyer at the Seattle firm of Harris Bricken who has done business in the region for decades, says the ongoing protests mean Hong Kong as an international financial centre is “no more”. “It’s finished as an international business centre because it was based on trust, safety and the rule of law and that’s all gone. Companies are looking to leave. No one is thinking of moving in,” he said.

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There are bank runs, small ones for now.

More Than Half Of China’s Banks Fail Central Bank Stress Test (ZH)

[..] with less income from lending and without the full suite of funding options available to much larger peers, the interest rates that China’s legion of small banks may have to offer to attract deposits could further undermine their stability. The irony is that to preserve their critical deposit base, small banks have to hike deposit rates even higher to stand out, in the process sapping their own lifeblood and ensuring their self-destruction, or as we dubbed it earlier, China’s own version of Europe’s “doom loop.” Dai Zhifeng, a banking analyst with Zhongtai Securities, told Reuters the funding difficulties risked distorting small banks’ behavior, making failure even more likely: “Lacking core competitiveness, some of them have turned to high-risk, short-sighted operations,” he said, adding that a liquidity crunch was possible at some institutions.


But for a nation with a $40 trillion financial system, double the size of US banks, and well over 4,000 small, medium and massive, state-owned banks, here please recall that the 4 largest banks in the world are now Chinese:• ICBC: $4TN • China Construction: $3.4TN • Agri Bank of China: $3.3TN • Bank of China: $3.1TN … the question how many banks will fail in the near future, is especially relevant not only for China but for the entire world. Luckily, we got an answer from none other than China’s central bank, which on Monday said that China’s banking sector is “showing signs of strain”, with more than 13% of 4,379 lenders now considered “high risk” by the central bank. In other words, take the 5 banks listed above which either suffered a bank run and/or were bailed out or nationalized, and add to them over 500 which are about to suffer the same fate.

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Full control of the process is the only thing the FAA could do. They are co-responsible for the entire crisis.

Boeing’s Problems Mount As FAA Vows To Ramp Up 737 MAX Oversight (BI)

The FAA said on Tuesday that it planned to exercise full control over all aspects of certification of Boeing’s 737 Max, even once the plane returns to commercial service. Relatively routine activities, such as certifying individual airplanes as they roll off the production line — as opposed to certifying the overall type of plane — will be performed by FAA officials, an agency spokesperson told Business Insider. Normally, routine day-to-day activities like certifying individual planes of an already certified type — the issuing of Airworthiness Certificates — which are among the final phases of the manufacturing process, are delegated to the planemaker.

Additionally, the likelihood of the plane being cleared to fly in 2019 was cast into further doubt, as was the possibility of Boeing resuming deliveries of completed planes to airline customers before the plane was fully cleared to reenter commercial service, according to The Air Current, an aviation industry publication. Boeing had stated earlier this month that it expected to resume deliveries in December, and for the plane to be fully cleared to fly again in January. However, it was not clear whether airline customers would accept delivery of the plane while it was not allowed to carry passengers.


“The FAA notified Boeing today that the agency will retain authority over the issuance of Airworthiness Certificates for all newly manufactured 737 MAX aircraft,” the FAA said in a statement. “This action is in line with Administrator Steve Dickson’s commitment that the agency fully controls the approval process for the aircraft’s safe return to service.” [..] “The FAA has not completed its review of the 737 MAX aircraft design changes and associated pilot training. The agency will not approve the aircraft for return to service until it has completed numerous rounds of rigorous testing. The FAA will take all the time it needs,” the agency added.

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NATO is a monster that has taken on a life of its own because of arms manufacturers.

Is Macron Right? Is NATO, 70, Brain Dead? (Buchanan)

During the Cold War, NATO enjoyed the widespread support of Americans and Europeans, and understandably so. The USSR had 20 divisions in Germany, surrounded West Berlin, and occupied the east bank of the Elbe, within striking distance of the Rhine. But that Cold War is long over. Berlin is the united free capital of Germany. The Warsaw Pact has been dissolved. Its member states have all joined NATO. The Soviet Union split apart into 15 nations. Communist Yugoslavia splintered into seven nations. As a fighting faith, communism is dead in Europe. Why then are we Americans still over there?

Since the Cold War, we have doubled the size of NATO. We have brought in the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania but not Finland or Sweden. We have committed ourselves to fight for Slovenia, Croatia, Albania and Montenegro but not Serbia, Bosnia or North Macedonia. Romania and Bulgaria are NATO allies but not Moldova or Belarus. George W. Bush kept us out of the 2008 Russia-Georgia clash over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. And Barack Obama refused to send lethal aid to help Ukraine retrieve Crimea, Luhansk or Donetsk, though Sen. John McCain wanted the United States to jump into both fights. In the House Intel Committee’s impeachment hearings, foreign service officers spoke of “Russian aggression” against our Ukrainian “ally” and our “national security” being in peril in this fight.


But when did Ukraine become an ally of the United States whose territorial wars we must sustain with military aid if not military intervention? When did Kyiv’s control of Crimea and the Donbass become critical to the national security of the United States, when Russia has controlled Ukraine almost without interruption from Catherine the Great in the 18th century to Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 20th century? Among the reasons Trump is president is that he raised provocative questions about NATO and Russia left unaddressed for three decades, as U.S. policy has been on cruise control since the Cold War. And these unanswered questions are deadly serious ones.

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Yes, it takes a group of Germans to probe how Americans fell for Browder. And for their own Deep State, which used the story because RussiaRussia.

Questions Cloud Story Behind Browder, Magnitsky (Spiegel)

There are two versions of what happened to Magnitsky. The more well-known version has all the makings of a conspiracy thriller. It’s been repeated in thousands of articles, TV interviews and in parliamentary hearings. In this version of the story, the man from the Moscow cemetery fought nobly against a corrupt system and was murdered for it. The other version is more complicated. In it, nobody is a hero. The first version has had geopolitical implications. In 2012, the United States passed the Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanctions against Russian officials who were believed to have played a role in his death. The measure was signed into law by then-President Barack Obama after receiving a broad bipartisan majority.

Back then, if there was one thing that politicians on both sides of the aisle could agree on, it was their opposition to a nefarious Russian state. In 2017, Congress passed the Global Magnitsky Act, which enabled the U.S. to impose sanctions against Russia for human rights violations worldwide. The facilitator behind these pieces of legislation is Bill Browder, Magnitsky’s former boss in Moscow. “When he was put to the ultimate test, he became the ultimate hero,” Browder says of Magnitsky. Browder was born in the U.S.. For years, his company, Hermitage Capital Management, was one of the largest foreign investors in Russia. At the time, Browder was an advocate for Russian President Vladimir Putin in the West. That is, until he was prohibited from entering Russia in 2005.

[..] Browder tells a gripping story of how Magnitsky, the whistleblower, is believed to have died. This narrative is his ticket into the political sphere. It’s why he’s received by members of parliament, diplomats and human rights activists alike, often with open arms. They support his push for more legislation because they see it as setting an important precedent: Corrupt regimes all over the world that are violating their citizens’ rights must be held accountable and made to suffer consequences in the form of entry bans and frozen accounts as laid out by the Global Magnitsky Act. The law makes it more difficult, if only slightly, for autocrats to sneer at and ignore human rights.

But there’s another version of the Magnitsky saga, one that is more contradictory than Browder’s telling and more difficult to summarize. The legal documents that underpin it fill dozens of binders, not only in Moscow, but also in London and New York. After sifting through thousands of pages, one might begin to wonder: Did the perfidious conspiracy to murder Magnitsky ever really take place? Or is Browder a charlatan whose story the West was too eager to believe?

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Now dig into Bellingcat’s role in MH17.

Narrative Managers Faceplant In Hilarious OPCW Scandal Spin Job (CJ)

Before we begin I should highlight that Bellingcat is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, which according to its own cofounder was set up to do overtly what the CIA had previously been doing covertly, namely orchestrating narrative management geared toward the elimination of governments which refuse to comply with US interests. NED is funded directly by the US government, which means that Bellingcat is funded by the US government via an organization set up to promote imperialist regime change agendas. Bellingcat is also funded by Open Society Foundations, another imperialist narrative management operation.

[..] Bellingcat’s latest phenomenal report on how you’re supposed to think about important geopolitical disputes, titled “Emails And Reading Comprehension: OPCW Douma Coverage Misses Crucial Facts”, addresses the leaked OPCW email which was recently published by WikiLeaks and various other outlets revealing that the OPCW omitted crucial information from its Douma report which indicated that a chemical weapons attack was unlikely to have occurred. I encourage you to go and check out Bellingcat’s new masterpiece for yourself. Don’t worry about giving them clicks; that’s not where they get their money.

The first thing you’ll notice about Bellingcat’s article is that at no point does it even attempt to address the actual inflammatory comments within it, such as the OPCW whistleblower’s assertion that the samples tested where a chlorine gas attack is alleged to have occurred in April 2018 contained levels of chlorinated organic compounds which were so low that it would be unreasonable to claim with any confidence that a chlorine gas attack had occurred at all. The whistleblower writes in the leaked email to the OPCW cabinet chief that the levels “were, in most cases, present only in parts per billion range, as low as 1–2 ppb, which is essentially trace quantities.”

As we discussed previously, early skeptics of the establishment Douma narrative highlighted the bizarre fact that when the OPCW published its Interim Report in July of last year its report contained no information about the levels at which the chlorinated organic chemicals occurred. Chlorinated organic chemicals occur at trace levels in any industrialized area, so they are only indicative of a chlorine gas attack when samples test at high levels. The email said they didn’t. The OPCW omitted this in both its Interim and Final Reports. The whistleblower told journalist Jonathan Steele that the levels found “were comparable to and even lower than those given in the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on recommended permitted levels of trichlorophenol and other COCs in drinking water.”

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You go George.

A Tale of Prince Andrew and Julian Assange (George Galloway)

The grand old Duke of York sleeps tonight on a feather pillow in a royal palace. Julian Assange, the publisher of the century sleeps in the hell of Belmarsh Prison, Britain’s own Guantanamo Bay. The Duke of York lied about the length duration and nature of his relationship with the presumed deceased child-sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Julian Assange told the truth about the high crimes and misdemeanours of the rich and powerful during times of war and peace. The FBI need to speak to the Queen’s favorite son, but no power on earth will be deployed to make him testify about what he might have seen, or even have participated in, at the townhouse in Manhattan, a Sodom and Gomorrah of our times.

The same US Justice system has caused the cruel incarceration of Assange and his Kafkaesque entrapment in an extradition saga which may last for years – if he doesn’t die before it is over as no less than 60 doctors have recently warned he may well do. The US-UK extradition arrangements may be the most unequal treaty ever concluded by Her Majesty’s ministers. In this case the former Blair government Home Secretary David Blunkett, a blind man who could, nonetheless, see exactly what he was doing. In essence extradition from Britain to the US became virtually on request without the slightest need to show just cause. But not vice versa. It would be easier to pull a camel through the eye of a needle than for Britain to extradite a US citizen to face justice in the UK.

I was a member of the British Parliament at the time this treaty was signed. Not that this mattered a jot or tittle. The Treaty was signed during the Summer Recess when no Parliament was sitting and through the exercise of the Royal Prerogative. Only when it was already in operation was I even able to oppose the extradition of its first victims – alleged City of London financial fraudsters, as well as a fitted-up “terrorist” London man Babar Ahmad. Under the old extradition rules neither case could have satisfied the previous requirement to produce prima facia evidence sufficient to persuade a British judge. Under the new Treaty it was easy peasy lemon squeezy. And off they went.

Prince Andrew will face no such ordeal albeit now banished from Royal Circles and effectively reduced to the ranks, his epaulettes ripped off his glittering array of obscure medals turned to scrap metal on his tunic. Although accused of sexual abuse of a teenager and with an admitted close relationship to the alleged procurer of underage female victims, Ghislaine Maxwell, in whose London home it is alleged one of the sexual encounters took place – the US will never require the Prince to give evidence and the UK will never offer him up. Assange, who was falsely accused of rape, has spent virtually the last decade locked up in one form or other of incarceration. And faces up to 175 years of prison time, if successfully extradited.

It is a tale of two cities – Buckingham Palace and Belmarsh Maximum Security Prison. A tale of two individuals – one now a proven liar and one a well attested truth-teller. A tale of two fates. The Prince who became a moral pauper, the other an impecunious journalist who became a moral giant. It is a tale of our times.

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Nov 122019
 


Pablo Picasso Still life with fruit basket 1942

 

Schiff Witness Vindman Testified He Advised Ukrainians to Ignore Trump (GP)
Gabbard Lawyers Demand Retraction Of Clinton’s Russia ‘Defamation’ (Hill)
Alexander Downer: Australia Should Reduce UK Intel Sharing If Corbyn Wins (G.)
Bolivian Coup Comes Less Than a Week After Morales Stopped Lithium Deal (CD)
Russia Accuses Bolivian Opposition Of Unleashing Wave Of Violence (R.)
Correa: Morales Was Forced Out In ‘Coup’, OAS Is ‘A US Instrument’ (RT)
Death Throes of a Party (Kunstler)
White Helmets ‘MI-6 Co-Founder’ Found Dead In Turkey
US Northeast ‘Siberian Express’ Arctic Blast Could Break 200 Records (Ind.)

 

 

As I write this there are many helicopters flying overhead because Xi Jinping is visiting the Akropolis Museum. And of course half the city center is closed.

And really, Vindman told Ukraine to not do what Trump wanted? Do we call that treason or is there a better word? Read the whole article.

Schiff Witness Vindman Testified He Advised Ukrainians to Ignore Trump (GP)

Adam Schiff’s star witness Alexander Vindman testified to the House Intel Committee that he “thought” the President was wrong in his policy with Ukraine. So he later told Ukrainians to ignore the President. Alexander Vindman’s testimony was recently released and it shows an ignorant underling in the NSC who believed the President’s policy in the Ukraine was flawed and because of this Vindman notified a group of ‘Ukrainians’ to ignore the President’s requests. The Conservative Treehouse reported on the release and highlighted some interesting pieces from the testimony. Apparently in his opening remarks young Vindman stated that he believed the President ‘demanded’ something from the Ukrainians. Representative Ratcliff destroyed him on this assertion –


Ratcliffe challenges Vindman to find in the President’s transcript of the call where the President ‘demanded’ anything from the Ukrainian President – Vindman could not name anywhere in the transcript where the President demanded anything and that it was all what Vindman perceived and not based on the law or others interpretations of the meeting. Vindman had concerns about the President’s policy (who is he?) – Congressman Ratcliffe next destroyed the witness Vindman pointing out how Vindman told Ukrainian officials (not detailed in the discussion) to ignore President Trump – a blatant crime committed by the underling –

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This has the potential to get really amusing.

Gabbard Lawyers Demand Retraction Of Clinton’s Russia ‘Defamation’ (Hill)

Lawyers representing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) on Monday called on Hillary Clinton to retract her comments alleging that the 2020 presidential candidate was a favorite candidate of the Russians, accusing the 2016 Democratic nominee of defamation. “Your statement is defamatory, and we demand that you retract it immediately,” Gabbard’s lawyer wrote in a letter, demanding that Clinton verbally retract the comments and post the retraction on Twitter. Clinton made the remarks last month on the “Campaign HQ” podcast. “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her, so far,” Clinton said, without referring to Gabbard by name.

Clinton also said “they” are grooming Gabbard to run as a third-party candidate against the eventual Democratic nominee. A Clinton spokesman later said the former secretary of State had been referring to Republicans with the grooming comment. “It appears you may now be claiming that this statement is about Republicans (not Russians) grooming Gabbard,” Gabbard’s lawyer wrote in the letter. “But this makes no sense in light of what you actually said. After you made the statement linking Congresswoman Gabbard to the Russians, you (through your spokesman) doubled down on it with the Russian nesting dolls remark.”


Gabbard has consistently denied she is interested in a third-party White House bid. The congresswoman has faced repeated criticism for some of her foreign policy views, particularly about American military involvement in Syria.

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Well, well, look what the cat dragged in. Next up is Joseph Mifsud?

Alexander Downer: Australia Should Reduce UK Intel Sharing If Corbyn Wins (G.)

Australia’s former top diplomat in the United Kingdom, Alexander Downer, has intervened in the British election contest, declaring the Morrison government would need to “substantially reduce” intelligence sharing with London in the event Jeremy Corbyn wins on 12 December. In an excoriating assessment of the Labour leader at the National Press Club in Canberra, Downer contended that a Corbyn victory would imperil substantial Australian investments in Britain, and would trigger a reassessment of the “very intimate” security relationship between Canberra and London. Downer is a former leader of the Liberal party in Australia, and was foreign affairs minister in the Howard government for more than a decade. He was appointed after his retirement from politics as high commissioner in London by the Liberal government in Canberra.

[..] Downer’s appearance at Canberra’s National Press Club on Tuesday was billed as a situation report on Brexit, but the former diplomat and foreign affairs minister faced sustained questioning about his participation in the Barr inquiry in the United States. Donald Trump has established the Barr inquiry to discredit the Mueller investigation. The Mueller investigation began after Downer was allegedly told by George Papadopoulos, then a Trump campaign aide, that Russia had obtained damaging information about Hillary Clinton from her emails.


Downer then informed US authorities, which has led to accusations from Trump allies, such as the Senate judiciary committee chairman, Lindsey Graham, about the then high commissioner’s “directed” role in relaying information to US authorities about the Clinton emails. Australia has rejected those accusations. Downer refused to give direct answers to questions about the level of his participation in the Barr inquiry, or whether he now regretted his conversation in a London wine bar with Papadopoulos. He said he did not want to “play into the toxic politics of America” or disrupt the orderly business of the inquiry by providing commentary, although he signalled without saying so directly that he had been interviewed, and was “fully cooperating with the Australian government”.

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Morales had been talking about using the lithium reserves for the Bolivian people for much longer. Word has it that his plane is stuck in Paraguay because countries refuse to allow it in their airspace.

Bolivian Coup Comes Less Than a Week After Morales Stopped Lithium Deal (CD)

The Sunday military coup in Bolivia has put in place a government which appears likely to reverse a decision by just-resigned President Evo Morales to cancel an agreement with a German company for developing lithium deposits in the Latin American country for batteries like those in electric cars. “Bolivia’s lithium belongs to the Bolivian people,” tweeted Washington Monthly contributor David Atkins. “Not to multinational corporate cabals.” The coup, which on Sunday resulted in Morales resigning and going into hiding, was the result of days of protests from right-wing elements angry at the leftist Morales government. Sen. Jeanine Añez, of the center-right party Democratic Unity, is currently the interim president in the unstable post-coup government in advance of elections.

Investment analyst publisher Argus urged investors to keep an eye on the developing situation and noted that gas and oil production from foreign companies in Bolivia had remained steady. The Morales move on Nov. 4 to cancel the December 2018 agreement with Germany’s ACI Systems Alemania (ACISA) came after weeks of protests from residents of the Potosí area. The region has 50% to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats. Among other clients, ACISA provides batteries to Tesla; Tesla’s stock rose Monday after the weekend. As Bloomberg News noted in 2018, that has set the country up to be incredibly important in the next decade:


“Demand for lithium is expected to more than double by 2025. The soft, light mineral is mined mainly in Australia, Chile, and Argentina. Bolivia has plenty—9 million tons that have never been mined commercially, the second-largest amount in the world—but until now there’s been no practical way to mine and sell it.” Morales’ cancellation of the ACISA deal opened the door to either a renegotiation of the agreement with terms delivering more of the profits to the area’s population or the outright nationalization of the Bolivian lithium extraction industry. As Telesur reported in June, the Morales government announced at the time it was “determined to industrialize Bolivia and has invested huge amounts to ensure that lithium is processed within the country to export it only in value-added form, such as in batteries.”

Read more …

Russia’s too quiet lately, on South America and in Syria.

Russia Accuses Bolivian Opposition Of Unleashing Wave Of Violence (R.)

Russia on Monday accused Bolivia’s opposition of unleashing a wave of violence in the South American nation and said it looked like a government push for dialogue had been swept aside by an orchestrated coup. Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Sunday he was resigning to ease violence that has gripped Bolivia since a disputed election, but he stoked fears of more unrest by saying he was the victim of a “coup” and faced arrest. Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement it was alarmed by the events and called on all political forces to show common sense and to act responsibly.

Read more …

The coup against Correa was way more subtle: his deputy Lenin Moreno did the deed.

Correa: Morales Was Forced Out In ‘Coup’, OAS Is ‘A US Instrument’ (RT)

Former leader of Ecuador Rafael Correa said the resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales was the result of a coup d’etat and that events could have ended in worse violence, if the socialist leader had not resigned. “Of course there was a coup d’etat,” Correa told RT Spanish in an exclusive interview on Monday, explaining that such an insubordination of the country’s armed forces “cannot exist in a constitutional state of law” or democracy. “If Evo Morales did not resign, there would have been a bloodbath because there was no public order,” he said. Morales resigned on Sunday at the demands of Bolivia’s military chief, following weeks of protests and only hours after he had promised fresh elections. Morales previously proclaimed he had won the October 20 general election with a 10-point lead, a result which was quickly contested by the opposition, who accused him of tampering with the vote.

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“Everybody over twelve in this land knows that his kid Hunter was on the grift in Ukraine, plain and simple, and that Joe assisted in the operation. Color him toast.”

Death Throes of a Party (Kunstler)

Is it possible that Rep. Adam Schiff was hung out to dry by the devious Ms. Pelosi, feeding his vanity to be a one-man impeachment wrecking crew, knowing that the congressman from Hollywood would utterly blow it? Hmmmmm. Begins to look that way as Mr. Schiff’s House Intel Committee goes public this Wednesday with its soviet-style format on full display. Well, first, why? Why allow this nitwit to stage an ersatz impeachment only to see it fail? Perhaps to cancel the Jacobin menace metastasizing in the Democratic Party and get on with the business of winning the 2020 elections — with old-school candidates hand-picked to end-run the gang of fantasists currently on display.

The House Speaker must sniff the odor of failure in the wind. Joe Biden, smiling cretinously, blunders through the primary venues with a big red “L” plastered on his forehead, often uncertain of what state he’s landed in, or what direction to face the camera. Everybody over twelve in this land knows that his kid Hunter was on the grift in Ukraine, plain and simple, and that Joe assisted in the operation. Color him toast. Elizabeth Warren has been caught lying very publicly twice now, first as a phony Cherokee Indian (for career advancement in academia), and lately claiming falsely that she was canned from a teaching job years ago for being pregnant (with a 2007 tape of her out telling a contradictory story). Of course, that’s just the cherry-on-top of her dazzlingly unsound policy proposals to bankrupt the nation. Doesn’t look like she can reel it all back in and pretend to be a credible person in time for a full-on campaign.


[..] Which brings us back to Rep. Adam Schiff and his monkeyshines in the star chamber of his personal devising. Now that the show goes public, will he haul many of the same characters back into the witness chair to spin out his engineered narrative, without any cross examination allowed, or other felicities of due process? Someone ought to advise him that playing the Robespierre role tends toward an unhappy ending for the player. Especially when Mr. Jordan of Ohio, newly-seated on the Intel Committee, starts barking out points-of-order. I’m even half-wondering if Mr. Durham, the federal attorney, has not already measured up bills of indictment for Mr. Schiff himself, for the phony CIA agent “whistleblower” Eric Ciaramella, the pre-wired IC Inspector General Michael Atkinson, US chargé d’affaires for Ukraine Bill Taylor, and the spectacularly seditious Colonel Vindman, whose antics stand out in this latest coup attempt against the elected president. And then what kind of bag does that leave Ms. Pelosi holding?

Read more …

There have been dozens of changes made to his Wikipedia page in the past day.

White Helmets ‘MI-6 Co-Founder’ Found Dead In Turkey (ZH)

The White Helmets, a roughly 3,000 member NGO formally known as the Syrian Civil Defense, was established in Turkey in “late 2012 – early 2013” Le Mesurier trained an initial group of 20 Syrians. The group then received funding from Le Mesurier’s Netherlands-based non-profit group, Mayday Rescue – which is in turn funded by grants from the Dutch, British, Danish and German governments. According to reporter and author Max Blumenthal, the White Helmets received at least $55 million from the British Foreign Office and $23 million from the Agency for International Development. They have also received millions from Qatar, which has backed several extremist groups in Syria including Al Qaeda.

The US has provided at least $32 million to the group – around 1/3 of their total funding – through a USAID scheme orchestrated by the Obama State Department and routed overseas using a Washington D.C. contractor participating in USAID’s Syria regional program, Chemonics. According to their website, the White Helmets have been directly funded by Mayday Rescue, and a company called Chemonics, since 2014. Yet there’s evidence that both of those organizations started supporting the White Helmets back in early 2013, right around the time the White Helmets claim to have formed as self-organized groups. Mayday Rescue, as we said, is funded by the Dutch, British, Danish and German governments. And Chemonics?


They are a Washington, D.C. based contractor that was awarded $128.5 million in January 2013 to support “a peaceful transition to a democratic and stable Syria” as part of USAID’s Syria regional program. At least $32 million has been given directly to the White Helmets as of February 2018. -TruthInMedia Notably, the Trump administration cut US funding to the White Helmets last May, placing them under “active review.” While the White Helmets tout themselves as ‘first responders’, the group has been accused of staging multiple chemical attacks – including an April 7 incident in Duma, Syria which the White House used as a pretext to bomb Syrian government facilities and bases.

Read more …

See? Siberia!!! It’s the Russians again.

US Northeast ‘Siberian Express’ Arctic Blast Could Break 200 Records (Ind.)

An Arctic blast sweeping across the eastern United States was expected to bring below-freezing temperatures and as many as 200 record lows throughout the week, according to the National Weather Service. The unusually cold air mass came from Siberia — a phenomenon called “Siberian Express” — and was predicted to bring historic low temperatures from the Great Plains to the Gulf Coast beginning on Monday and lasting until Wednesday night. The cold front rolled through the upper Midwest on Sunday before heading south towards Texas, where forecasters said temperatures nearly 30 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius) below typical November averages would be felt beginning on Tuesday morning.


[..] The weather service’s Weather Prediction Centre tweeted on Monday morning that the nation’s cold spot was located in Malta, Montana, where the temperature sat at -24 degrees Fahrenheit (-31 degrees Celsius). The centre said earlier that 148 daily record lows were forecast “to be broken, tied, or come within 1 degree between Tuesday and Thursday this week,” while National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Donofrio told the Associated Press that some 200 records may be broken this week nationwide. The January-like temperatures are far from common at this time of year in the southeastern US, though it’s not the first time a Siberian Express brought historic lows to the country. The term was reportedly first coined during the January 1982 cold front with air from Siberian origins, which brought record-lows to many parts of the country.

Read more …

 

Watch this interview and replace every mention of “Jamie Dimon” with “Al Capone” and it works perfectly.

 

 

 

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Top of the page, left and right sidebars. Thank you.

 

 

 

Oct 212019
 
 October 21, 2019  Posted by at 10:11 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Self-portrait with dark felt hat at the easel 1886

 

Recession Likely Years Away Due To Bullish Trump Effect – Shiller (CNBC)
Global Economy Faces $19 Trillion Corporate Debt Timebomb – IMF (G.)
“Toe The Line Or Be Destroyed”: Tulsi Gabbard (ZH)
Will the Democratic Party Exist after 2020 Election? (OffG)
Why 97% Of Congress Get Re-Elected Each Year (F.)
Scottish Court Asked To Delay Ruling On Johnson’s Brexit Extension Request (R.)
Many Firms In China’s Third-Biggest Province Struggle To Pay Debt – S&P (R.)
Chile’s Deadly Weekend Of Fire As Youth Anger Ignites (R.)
Boeing Expresses Regret As Text Messages Plunge Company Into New Crisis (R.)

 

 

If a crisis next year is seen as the only way to derail Trump, don’t be surprised if one is fabricated.

Recession Likely Years Away Due To Bullish Trump Effect – Shiller (CNBC)

Nobel-prize winning economist Robert Shiller believes a recession may be years away due to a bullish Trump effect in the market. According to the Yale University professor, President Donald Trump is creating an environment that’s conducive to strong consumer spending, and it’s a major force that should hold off a recession. “Consumers are hanging in there. You might wonder why that would be at this time so late into the cycle. This is the longest expansion ever. Now, you can say the expansion was partly [President Barack] Obama,” he told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Friday. “But lingering on this long needs an explanation.”


Shiller, a behavioral finance expert who’s out with the new book “Narrative Economics,” believes Americans are still opening their wallets wide based on what President Trump exemplifies: Consumption. “I think that [strong spending] has to do with the inspiration for many people provided by our motivational speaker president who models luxurious living,” said Shiller. Shiller emphasizes there’s still uncertainty and risk surrounding Wall Street. Before the markets can take-off, Shiller stresses President Trump needs to get past the impeachment inquiry. He sees this as the biggest threat to his optimistic forecast.

Read more …

From last week, but pretty timeless.

Global Economy Faces $19 Trillion Corporate Debt Timebomb – IMF (G.)

Low interest rates are encouraging companies to take on a level of debt that risks becoming a $19tn (£15tn) timebomb in the event of another global recession, the International Monetary Fund has said. In its half-yearly update on the state of the world’s financial markets, the IMF said that almost 40% of the corporate debt in eight leading countries – the US, China, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain – would be impossible to service if there was a downturn half as serious as that of a decade ago.

The IMF noted that the stimulus provided by central banks in both developed and developing countries had the side-effect of encouraging firms to borrow more, even though many would have trouble paying it back. Officials at the Washington-based organisation fear that the buildup of debt makes the global financial system highly vulnerable and are telling member states not to repeat the mistake of the early 2000s, when warning signs of a possible market meltdown were ignored.


The IMF said share prices in the US and Japan appeared to be overvalued, while the credit spreads in bond markets – the compensation demanded by investors against risk – seemed to be too low, given the state of the global economy. Tobias Adrian and Fabio Natalucci, two senior IMF officials responsible for the Global Financial Stability Report, said: “A sharp, sudden tightening in financial conditions could unmask these vulnerabilities and put pressures on asset price valuations.” In a blogpost published alongside the GFSR, Adrian and Natalucci noted: “Corporations in eight major economies are taking on more debt and their ability to service it is weakening.

Read more …

Let’s see how nasty Hillary will get.

“Toe The Line Or Be Destroyed”: Tulsi Gabbard (ZH)

Tulsi Gabbard unleashed her latest counterattack to the establishment hit-job against her, after Hillary Clinton suggested she’s an Russian asset. “If you stand up to the rich and powerful elite and the war machine, they will destroy you and discredit your message…,” says Gabbard, who said she’s suffered smears “from day one of this campaign.” In a Sunday tweet accompanied by a video which has nearly 450,000 views on Twitter (and 18,000 on YouTube) as of this writing, Gabbard writes “Hillary & her gang of rich, powerful elite are going after me to send a msg to YOU: “Shut up, toe the line, or be destroyed.” But we, the people, will NOT be silenced.”

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Durham’s probe has just been widened again.

Will the Democratic Party Exist after 2020 Election? (OffG)

As a result of the corrupt foundation of the Russiagate allegations, Attorney General Bob Barr and Special Investigator John Durham appear hot on the trail with law enforcement in Italy as they have apparently scared the bejesus out of what little common sense remains among the Democratic hierarchy as if Barr/Durham might be headed for Obama’s Oval Office. Barr’s earlier comment before the Senate that “spying did occur’ and that ‘it’s a big deal’ when an incumbent administration (ie the Obama Administration) authorizes a counter-Intelligence operation on an opposing candidate (ie Donald Trump) has the Dems in panic-stricken overdrive – and that is what is driving the current Impeachment Inquiry.

With the stark realization that none of the DNC’s favored top tier candidates has the mojo to go the distance, the Democrats have now focused on a July 25th phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in which Trump allegedly ‘pressured’ Zelenskyy to investigate Joe Biden’s relationship with Burisma, the country’s largest natural gas provider. At issue is any hanky panky involving Burisma payments to Rosemont Seneca Partners, an equity firm owned by Joe’s errant son, Hunter, who served on Burisma’s Board for a modest $50,000 a month. Zelenskyy, who defeated the US-endorsed incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in a landslide victory, speaks Russian, was elected to clean up corruption and end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.


The war in the Donbass began as a result of the US State Department’s role in the overthrow of democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. Trump’s first priority on July 25th was Crowd Strike, a cybersecurity firm with links to the HRC campaign which was hired by the DNC to investigate Russian hacking of its server. The Dems have reason to be concerned since it is worth contemplating why the FBI did not legally mandate that the DNC turn its server over to them for an official Federal forensic inspection. One can only speculate…those chickens may be coming home to roost.

Read more …

And why the Democratic party will survive: the funneling of government money to donors.

Why 97% Of Congress Get Re-Elected Each Year (F.)

How is 97 percent of Congress able to get re-elected each year even though only 17 percent of the American people believe our representatives are doing a good job? It’s called an incumbent protection system. Taxpayers have a right to know how it works. Recently, our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com, mashed up the federal checkbook with the congressional campaign donor database. We found powerful members of Congress soliciting campaign donations from federal contractors based in their districts. We followed the money and found a culture of conflict-of-interest.

The confluence of federal money, campaign cash, private employment, investments, prestigious committee appointments, political power, nepotism, and other conflicts are a fact pattern. Furthermore, members of Congress own investment stock in, are employed by, and receive retirement pensions from federal contractors to whom they direct billions of taxpayer dollars. Moreover, members sponsor legislation that affects these contractors. The contractor’s lobbyists then advocate for the legislation that helps the member and the contractor. Oftentimes, the contractor’s lobbyist also donates campaign cash to the member.


[..] Nothing we discovered is illegal. At arms-length, all of the transactions are legal. And that’s the problem. We polled our subscribers and 1,900 people responded: 96 percent thought it was unethical for a member of Congress to solicit campaign donations from federal contractors based in their districts. Furthermore, 92 percent said it was an important or very important issue. The American people get it. Members should refuse to accept campaign donations from federal contractors and their affiliates.

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Ongoing.

Scottish Court Asked To Delay Ruling On Johnson’s Brexit Extension Request (R.)

Anti-Brexit campaigners said they would ask a Scottish court on Monday to delay its ruling on a legal challenge that sought to force Prime Minister Boris Johnson to comply with a law requiring him to request a delay to Brexit. The so-called Benn Act compelled Johnson to write a letter to the EU asking for a Brexit extension if parliament had not approved either a deal or a no-deal exit by Saturday. Johnson had repeatedly said he would not ask for a delay. The group asked the court earlier this month either to issue an order forcing Johnson to ask for a delay or instruct that a letter be sent to the EU on his behalf if he refused to.

Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the EU on Saturday requesting a delay but added another note in which he said he did not want a “deeply corrosive” Brexit extension, prompting some lawmakers to say he was seeking to frustrate the law. Johnson’s plan to put his Brexit withdrawal deal to the UK parliament on Saturday was derailed after lawmakers voted to withhold a decision on the deal, a move that forced him to seek a third postponement of Britain’s departure from the bloc. The exit is currently due to take place on Oct. 31. Scotland’s highest court, the Court of Session, has been waiting to rule on the matter pending developments up to Oct. 19. It is due to consider the challenge again on Monday.


“What I and … the other petitioners have instructed our lawyers to do is to seek a continuation of the case until the end of the week to keep a watching brief over matters,” Scottish National Party lawmaker Joanna Cherry told ITV on Sunday. “We don’t want the focus to be all on the court case. We want the focus to be on what is happening in Brussels, the negotiation for an extension.” Cherry said the way Johnson had gone about sending the letter, without signing it, was “immensely childish” and was “arguably frustrating the purpose of the act”. “The EU … have overlooked the childish tricks and are taking the extension at face value, taking it seriously,” Cherry said. “It will be for the court to comment or otherwise on whether they think what has occurred is a frustration of the act or a contempt of court.”

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There’s the shadow banks again.

Many Firms In China’s Third-Biggest Province Struggle To Pay Debt – S&P (R.)

Many privately held firms in Shandong, China’s third-biggest province by economic output, are struggling to repay short-term debt due to declining industry fundamentals, entangled cross guarantees and ill-managed investments, S&P Global Ratings said. China’s slowing economy and enforcement of environmental protection rules have pressured the profitability and cash flow of Shandong companies in over-capacity sectors including oil refining, petrochemicals, steel, aluminium and textiles, S&P said. “The Shandong economy is skewed toward gritty smoke-stack industries where companies are typically highly leveraged,” said Chang Li, China country specialist for S&P Global Ratings.


“We view the plight of Shandong POEs (privately owned enterprises) as indicative of China’s wider challenge: the difficulty of transitioning to a higher value-added economy, while managing high debt and slowing growth.” Private firms in Shandong are also frequent users of the cross guarantee, which has the potential to send one company’s liquidity problems reverberating through the credit system, the ratings agency said. Reuters reported in February, citing court rulings, that at least 28 private companies in Dongying, a hub for oil refining and heavy industry in Shandong, are seeking to restructure their debts and avoid bankruptcy, mainly due to souring loans that they guaranteed for other firms.

Read more …

Places with mass protests in yesterday’s list: Chile, Ecuador, Lebanon, Barcelona, France, London, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Iraq.

New additions today: Guinea, Bolivia, Algeria, Haiti, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil.

Chile’s Deadly Weekend Of Fire As Youth Anger Ignites (R.)

Chile’s capital Santiago has been singed by fire. In riots sparked by anger over fare hikes, masked and hooded protesters have torched buses, metro stations, supermarkets, banks and the high-rise headquarters of a major energy firm. Around the city, flames and smoke mixed with tear gas and water cannon spray as armed forces mobilized on the streets for the first time in almost 30 years in a country that still shudders at the memory of military rule. Fare-dodging protests largely by school children and students exploded into violent riots on Friday.


Amid the looting, arson and clashes, thousands of residents of rich and poor neighborhoods alike also took to the streets to express a more widespread discontent over rising living costs and patchy public services that is boiling beneath the surface of one of South American’s wealthiest and most liberal economies. The demonstrations spread around the country over the weekend, and there was little sign of tempers cooling. “This is not a simple protest over the rise of metro fares, this is an outpouring for years of oppression that have hit mainly the poorest,” Karina Sepulveda, an anthropology student, told Reuters at a protest in central Santiago on Sunday as she banged a frying pan with a wooden spoon. “The illusion of the model Chile is over. Low wages, lack of healthcare and bad pensions have made people tired.”

Read more …

Fire them all. And then sue them for wrongful death.

Boeing Expresses Regret As Text Messages Plunge Company Into New Crisis (R.)

Boeing Co. said on Sunday that it regrets and understands concerns raised by the release of a former Boeing test pilot’s internal instant messages noting erratic software behaviour two years before deadly crashes of its 737 Max jet. The world’s largest plane maker, plunged into a fresh crisis over the safety of the banned 737 Max after Reuters reported the messages on Friday, also said it was investigating the “circumstances of this exchange” and regretted the difficulties that the release of messages presented for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA on Friday ordered Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg to give an “immediate” explanation for the delay in turning over the “concerning” document, which Boeing discovered some months ago. In the messages from November, 2016, then-chief technical pilot Mark Forkner tells a colleague that what’s known as the MCAS anti-stall system – the same one linked to deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia – was “running rampant” in a flight-simulator session. At another point, he says: “I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly).” The messages prompted a new call in the U.S. Congress for Boeing to shake up its management as it scrambles to rebuild trust and lift an eight-month safety ban of its fastest-selling plane.


“We understand entirely the scrutiny this matter is receiving, and are committed to working with investigative authorities and the U.S. Congress as they continue their investigations,” Boeing said in its statement on Sunday. The instant messages prompted harsh reactions from several Democratic lawmakers in Washington, with Representative Peter DeFazio saying, “This is no isolated incident.” “The outrageous instant-message chain between two Boeing employees” suggests “Boeing withheld damning information from the FAA,” Mr. DeFazio, who chairs the U.S. House transportation committee, said on Friday.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 192019
 


Paul Gauguin Schooner and three masters 1886

 

Twitter War Breaks Out Between Tulsi Gabbard And Hillary Clinton (ZH)
Green Party Torches Hillary Clinton For Claiming Jill Stein Is ‘Totally’ a Russian Asset
Quid Pro Nothing: Trump Accusers Don’t Care About The Facts (NYPost Ed.)
The Fatal Loop of Recursivity (Kunstler)
US Energy Secretary Will Not Comply With Democrats’ Impeachment Probe (R.)
Brexit Vote Could Be Delayed After Move By MPs To Prevent No-Deal (Ind.)
Mnuchin Backs Proposal To Double IMF’s Crisis Fund (R.)
Spain Calls In Civil Guard To Outskirts Of Barcelona (R.)
Syria Tells Russia It Will Force Both Turkey And US Out ‘By All Means’ (NW)
Boeing Employees Misled FAA About Key 737 MAX Safety System – Report (CNBC)
Boeing Pilots Detected 737 MAX Glitch 2 Years Before 1st Crash (NPR)
‘Just Don’t Waste’: David Attenborough’s Message To Next Generation (G.)

 

 

Zero Hedge on Twitter: Putin’s diabolical plan to run the same democrat who lost against trump in 2016 is nearly complete.

Tulsi is brilliant here. Her tweets garnered 30k retweets and 100k likes in under two hours and she gained, more than 40,000 Twitter followers more than she gains in an average month.

Still, during and after every single debate, Tulsi was the most searched candidate on Google (even the debate she was banned from). Now with Hillary gifting her this much attention, will she still poll 2% or less? Then you would know what rigging means.

Tulsi is the first female combat veteran in history to run for President, and is still a Major in the Hawaii National Guard. And Hillary accuses her of being a Russian asset, i.e. treason. Real treason.

Michael Tracey: “If Tulsi is being controlled by Russia that’s a National Security Threat because she’s active military. Let’s have Hillary follow through on her batshit rhetoric. Is she alleging that a Major in the National Guard is secretly doing the bidding of Russia?”

Will Tulsi sue Hillary for defamation?

 

Twitter War Breaks Out Between Tulsi Gabbard And Hillary Clinton (ZH)

Democratic presidential candidate and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard – who like Trump was quickly put in the crosshairs of the military industrial complex, the deep state and the pro-war Atlantic Council for her de-interventionist foreign policy – fired back at Hillary Clinton, accusing her of being behind a “concerted campaign” to destroy her reputation and challenged her to stop hiding and enter the 2020 presidential race. Earlier in the day, Hillary Clinton floated a conspiracy theory that the Russians are “grooming” the Hawaii congresswoman to be a third-party candidate in 2020, while claiming 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein is “also” a Russian asset.

“Great! Thank you Hillary Clinton,” Gabbard tweeted late on Friday afternoon. “You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain.” “From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.” Gabbard added. “Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly,” Gabbard called out Clinton, who has dropped hints that she might run again in 2020 as a rematch for her 2016 humiliation.

During this week’s Democratic debate, Gabbard blasted debate co-sponsors CNN and the New York Times for “smearing” her along similar lines. CNN commentator Bakari Sellers called her a “puppet” for the Russian government and the Times reported on her “frequent” mentions in Russian state news media. “Just two days ago, The New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears,” Gabbard said. “This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia — completely despicable.”

Read more …

Green Party isn’t nearly as efficient as Tulsi is.

Green Party Torches Hillary Clinton For Claiming Jill Stein Is ‘Totally’ a Russian Asset

“Brazen Orwellian doublespeak” — that’s what the Green Party is saying in response to Hillary Clinton’s accusation that their 2016 candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, is “totally” a “Russian asset.” “Clinton has spent her entire career as an asset of Wall Street, the police state and war — the real dangers to everyday people in the United States and around the world,” Green Party communications manager Michael O’Neil said in a statement to Rolling Stone on Friday. Clinton, the erstwhile Democratic nominee in 2016, sat down for an interview with former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe earlier this week. Over the course of an hour-long discussion, the former Secretary of State speculated that American antagonists would attempt to influence the 2020 election, as they did in 2016.


She suggested the Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard might be the recipient — witting or not — of help from the Kremlin this time around. (At the Democratic debate on Tuesday, Gabbard called allegations that her candidacy is being boosted by the Russian government “completely despicable.”) Clinton said she wouldn’t be surprised if Gabbard, failing to secure the Democratic nomination, mounted a third party challenge in 2020. [..] “While Clinton would love to intimidate Green Party candidates and voters with baseless smears, her salty neo-McCarthyism will prove to be rocket fuel for the motivation of Greens everywhere in 2020 and beyond,” O’Neil said. Clinton’s spokesman, meanwhile, doubled down on the characterization to CNN on Friday. “If the nesting doll fits, ” Nick Merrill said. “This is not some outlandish claim. This is reality.”

Read more …

New York Post editorial. A counterweight to the 1001 pieces that all interpret Mulvaney the same way.

Quid Pro Nothing: Trump Accusers Don’t Care About The Facts (NYPost Ed.)

Everyone who already thought the case for President Trump’s impeachment was a slam-dunk went berserk Thursday, claiming that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had just admitted to a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Except that what Mulvaney “admitted” is that the administration was doing what it should — pushing a foreign government to cooperate in getting to the bottom of foreign interference in the 2016 campaign. Virtually every media outlet in America — certainly all those that jumped on Mulvaney’s remarks — has spent most of the last three years painting such foreign interference as the blackest possible crime.


In fact, all Mulvaney did was repeat yet again that Trump “was worried about corruption with that nation” — and specifically say those worries extended to cooperation in “the look-back to what happened in 2016.” Asked if Ukraine’s uncertainty about probing those matters was linked to the US holdup of military aid, he said “yes” — clarifying hours later that it wasn’t a quid pro quo. Which it couldn’t be: Ukraine didn’t know about the holdup until weeks after President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call with Trump. Critics complain that one specific issue Trump pushed is a “debunked conspiracy theory.” So what? The Obama administration and several Democratic senators at various times pushed Ukraine to cooperate in probes of possible Trump 2016 wrongdoing that eventually turned out not to exist.

Read more …

“..the final act in the collapse of the USA will be the government choking itself to death on replayed narratives from its own server farms.”

The Fatal Loop of Recursivity (Kunstler)

The stupendous failure of the Mueller Investigation only revealed what can happen when extraordinary bad faith, dishonesty, and incompetence are brought to this project of reinventing “truth” — of who did what and why — while it provoked a counter-industry of detecting its gross falsifications. This dynamic has long been systematically studied and applied by institutions like the so-called “intelligence community,” and has gotten so out-of-hand that its main mission these days appears to be the maximum gaslighting of the nation — for the purpose of its own desperate self-defense.

The “Whistleblower” episode is the latest turn in dishonestly manipulated records, but the most interesting feature of it is that the release of the actual transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call did not affect the “narrative” precooked between the CIA and Adam Schiff’s House Intel Committee. They just blundered on with the story and when major parts of the replay didn’t add up, they retreated to secret sessions in the basement of the US capitol. Perhaps you can see why unleashing the CIA, NSA, and the FBI on political enemies by Mr. Obama and his cohorts has become such a disaster. When that scheme blew up, the intel community went to the mattresses, as the saying goes in Mafia legend and lore.

The “company” found itself at existential risk. Of course, the CIA has long been accused of following an agenda of its own simply because it had the means to do it. It had the manpower, the money, and the equipment to run whatever operations it felt like running, and a history of going its own way out of sheer institutional arrogance, of knowing better than the crackers and clowns elected by the hoi-polloi. The secrecy inherent in its charter was a green light for limitless mischief and some of the agency’s directors showed open contempt for the occupants of the White House. Think: Allen Dulles and William Casey. And lately, Mr. Brennan.

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Pelosi needs to hold that vote. But she won’t. She’d rather go to the Senate based on secret info.

US Energy Secretary Will Not Comply With Democrats’ Impeachment Probe (R.)

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry will not turn over documents to congressional Democrats who had subpoenaed them over his role in Ukraine as part of their impeachment probe into President Donald Trump, a department official said in a letter on Friday. Three U.S. House of Representatives committees subpoenaed Perry on Oct. 10 for any role he played in Trump’s push to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival, former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and his son. In a letter to the three committees, Melissa Burnison, an assistant energy secretary, wrote that the impeachment inquiry had not been properly authorized.


“Even if the inquiry was validly authorized, much of the information sought in the subpoena appears to consist of confidential Executive Branch communications that are potentially protected by executive privilege,” said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters. “However, the Department remains committed to working with Congress on matters of mutual importance conducted in accordance with proper authorizations and procedures,” it said. The energy department’s response follows the lead of the White House, which has said it would refuse to cooperate with an “illegitimate, unconstitutional” congressional impeachment inquiry.

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Big day, but very unclear what the result will be.

Brexit Vote Could Be Delayed After Move By MPs To Prevent No-Deal (Ind.)

Boris Johnson’s hopes of finally obtaining parliament’s consent on Saturday for a historic deal to take the UK out of the European Union look set to be thwarted by an extraordinary bid by MPs to delay the crucial “meaningful vote”. Ahead of the highly unusual weekend sitting of the Commons, the prime minister was pulling out all the stops to secure the 320 votes he needs to claim victory in what was expected to be a razor-edge ballot, with the balance held by wavering Labour MPs, hardline ERG “Spartans” and expelled Tory rebels. But an amendment to his motion tabled by exiled Conservative Oliver Letwin threatens to withhold MPs’ approval until the full legislation to implement the deal is put into law.

With Labour expected to back the amendment, it seems almost certain to pass if selected for debate by Commons speaker John Bercow. The move – designed to avoid no-deal Brexit if the legislation is amended by Brexiteers or fails to complete its passage through parliament by Halloween – would force Mr Johnson to request an extension from Brussels beyond 31 October and could delay the meaningful vote for weeks. Although Downing Street indicated it would still push Mr Johnson’s motion to a vote in the hope of a symbolic win, success for the Letwin amendment would deny him the chance to claim he has parliament’s support for the last-minute deal struck with EU leaders on Thursday.

And if the motion fails, he could then face a non-binding vote on a second referendum put forward by Labour backbenchers Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson with the aim of demonstrating that a majority in the Commons back a public ballot on any future change to the relationship between the UK and EU.

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The IMF is running out of money.

Mnuchin Backs Proposal To Double IMF’s Crisis Fund (R.)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday said he welcomes a proposal to double the size of the International Monetary Fund’s $250 billion crisis lending fund as part of a deal to maintain overall IMF resources. Mnuchin, in a statement to the IMF’s steering committee, said he backed the funding increase to ensure the global lender remained adequately resourced to respond to potential crises over the medium term. He also called for various reforms to streamline the fund’s costs, modernize salaries and benefits, and adopt a more independent, centralized risk management system.

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Large scale often violent demos taking place today that I’ve indentified, not including the climate ones because they’re not big enough except incidentally (I did include London because they banned protests):

Chili, Ecuador, Lebanon, Barcelona, France, London, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong.

I must have missed some. Do add. There appears to be a trend here.

Spain Calls In Civil Guard To Outskirts Of Barcelona (R.)

The Spanish Interior Ministry said on Friday it had given the go ahead for civil guard police reinforcements to be sent to the outskirts of Barcelona following five days of sometimes violent protests over the jailing of pro-separatist leaders. No further details were immediately available. Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska told reporters on Thursday he planned to send security reinforcements to Barcelona to help maintain order in the city and also to let police already there get some rest.

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How far ahead has Putin planned?

Syria Tells Russia It Will Force Both Turkey And US Out ‘By All Means’ (NW)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has informed a visiting Russian delegation that his country was prepared to force out any uninvited guests, especially the armed forces of Turkey and the United States, which themselves recently fell on opposing ends of an eight-year civil war. Assad met Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin and other visiting officials from Moscow to discuss “the situation in Syria, especially the Jazeera region”—referring to the country’s northeast, across the Euphrates river—”and the Turkish aggression against it,” according to the Syrian leader’s office.


Last week, Turkey mobilized Syrian rebels to storm the region and defeat Kurdish forces that participated in the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) but were viewed as terrorists by Ankara. “The current and future stage must be focused on stopping the aggression, and the withdrawal of all Turkish, American and other illegal forces from all Syrian territories, considering them occupation forces according to international law and conventions,” Assad said. “The Syrian people have the right to resist them by all means available.”

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Two Boeing reports that appear to lay the blame with employees and pilots.

Boeing Employees Misled FAA About Key 737 MAX Safety System – Report (CNBC)

Boeing shares slipped Friday after a Reuters report said instant messages from 2016 suggest that employees misled the Federal Aviation Administration about a key safety system on the 737 Max, the plane that has been grounded since mid-March after two fatal crashes. The FAA turned over the instant messages to U.S. lawmakers and the Department of Transportation Inspector General, the FAA said in a statement. The FAA says Boeing discovered the messages “some months ago” and the flight regulatory agency finds the document “concerning.” “The FAA is also disappointed that Boeing did not bring this document to our attention immediately upon its discovery,” the agency said. “The FAA is reviewing this information to determine what action is appropriate.”


The document was shared with lawmakers investigating the plane’s certification, the FAA added. Boeing shares were down more than 4% in midday trading, shaving 107 points off the Dow Jones Industrial Average. FAA’s statement that Boeing knew about the document earlier, comes amid mounting pressure on Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg. The company’s board removed Muilenburg as chairman last week, saying the division of the two roles will help him focus on bringing the plane back to service.

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But in the end it’s all about huge cost-saving operations in the face of Airbus competition. Not employees and pilots, but upper echelons.

Boeing Pilots Detected 737 MAX Glitch 2 Years Before 1st Crash (NPR)

New evidence indicates that Boeing pilots knew about “egregious” problems with the 737 Max airplane three years ago, but federal regulators were not told about them. Investigators say the plane’s new flight control system, called MCAS, is at least partially to blame for 737 Max crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia this year that killed 346 people. Acting on data from a single, faulty angle-of-attack sensor, MCAS repeatedly forced both planes into nosedives as the pilots struggled, but failed to regain control. The pilots in the Lion Air plane that crashed in Indonesia last October did not know MCAS existed, as Boeing did not disclose any information about it in pilot manuals or in training material.

Newly revealed instant messages sent between Boeing’s then-chief technical pilot for the 737, Mark Forkner, and another technical pilot, Patrik Gustavsson, in November 2016 indicate that Forkner experienced similar problems with MCAS during a test session in a flight simulator. In a transcript obtained by NPR, Forkner writes that “there are still some real fundamental issues” with the system that he says Boeing engineers and test pilots “claim that they are aware of.” As the two pilots banter back and forth in the messages, Forkner says the system is “running rampant in the sim on me,” then adding, “I’m leveling off at like 4000 ft, 230 knots and the plane is trimming itself like crazy.”

Forkner calls the problem “egregious” and writes that he had “basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)” before experiencing the glitch, when he had told the FAA that MCAS was safe and did not need to be included in pilot manuals. Later emails, also newly disclosed, show Forkner still telling the FAA that MCAS didn’t need to be covered in the manuals. “If you read the whole chat, it is obvious that there was no ‘lie,’ ” Forkner’s lawyer, David Gerger, told news services by email on Friday. “The simulator was not reading right and had to be fixed to fly like the real plane. Mark’s career — at Air Force, at FAA, and at Boeing — was about safety. And based on everything he knew, he absolutely thought this plane was safe.”

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How are the kids going to ‘not waste’? The societies they grow up in are geared towards maximizing waste. They have to be completely retrofitted. But I don’t see you mentioning that. What I see is “don’t waste paper”.

‘Just Don’t Waste’: David Attenborough’s Message To Next Generation (G.)

David Attenborough has delivered a heartfelt message to children around the world on how they can help save the planet: “Live the way you want to live but just don’t waste.” At the first screening of the BBC’s forthcoming blockbuster nature series, Seven Worlds, One Planet, the 93-year-old offered his advice to a five-year-old in the London audience. The boy was overwhelmed by nerves when handed the microphone, so his father asked his question on his behalf: “What can he do to save the planet?” “You can do more and more and more the longer you live, but the best motto to think about is not waste things,” Attenborough replied. “Don’t waste electricity, don’t waste paper, don’t waste food. Live the way you want to live but just don’t waste. Look after the natural world, and the animals in it, and the plants in it too. This is their planet as well as ours. Don’t waste them.”


A rapt audience of children in India and South Africa joined the event by videolink and lined up to ask Attenborough questions and wave posters. At Mumbai’s packed Royal Opera House, placards read “Sir David please come to India please” and “Sir David can I please come on a shoot with you?” One asked Attenborough which animal he had found most difficult to document during his 70-year career. “I nominate going to look for mountain gorillas for the first time,” he said. “That was an unforgettable time and more successful than we could possibly have hoped … but it was a long time ago.”

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