Feb 252021
 
 February 25, 2021  Posted by at 9:45 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


Rembrandt van Rijn The flight into Egypt – a night piece 1651

 

Coronavirus Deaths Worldwide Fell By 20% Last Week – WHO (F.)
Researchers Find Emerging COVID-19 Strain in New York (NYP)
COVID Aid Bill Pays Federal Employees With Kids Out Of School Up To $21K (F.)
US Senators Weigh Paring Back Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Aid Plan (R.)
New US Report To Blame Saudi Crown Prince For 2018 Killing Of Khashoggi (NBC)
Swalwell Committee Colleagues Ask FBI For Briefing On China ‘Honey Pot’ (NYP)
Twitter Deletes Dozens of Accounts for “Undermining Faith in NATO” (MPN)
NZ Housing Policy Stand Blows Up The Bond Market (AFR)
Lincoln Project Got $32mn In Free Media Coverage Since Sex Scandal Broke (RT)
House Dems Call for Biden to Give Up Sole Launch Authority for Nukes (NM)
The Greatest Threat to the Planet You’ve Never Heard Of (NC)
California Bill Requires ‘Gender Neutral’ Stores (DW)

 

 

 

 

Anyone seen an explanation?

Coronavirus Deaths Worldwide Fell By 20% Last Week – WHO (F.)

The number of coronavirus-related deaths decreased by 20% worldwide last week compared to the week before, according to an analysis by the World Health Organization, which coincides with a drop in cases and deaths in the United States as well, as it appears the course of both the global and domestic outbreaks of the virus may finally be slowing. Slightly fewer than 66,000 fatalities worldwide were reported last week—the third consecutive week the fatality rate has decreased. The WHO also announced the total number of new cases fell to 2.4 million for the week of Feb. 15 through Feb. 21, representing an 11% dip from the prior week, which marks the sixth consecutive week the global case count has declined.


The U.S. has averaged 68,038 new cases per day over the past seven days, a decrease of nearly 40% compared to the average earlier this month. On Tuesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients in the U.S. dropped below 56,000 for the first time since early November. While there is no disputing the fact that the numbers are trending in the right direction, the emergence of new variants has many health professionals concerned. Three particular variants, B.1.1.7 (first found in the U.K.), B.1.351 (South Africa) and P.1 (Brazil) are the most prevalent at this point.

Read more …

There will be thousands. Get fit. One of the many drawbacks of the vaccines is that the virus will beat them. Too many people are infected worldwide to prevent this.

Researchers Find Emerging COVID-19 Strain in New York (NYP)

A new coronavirus strain that shares some characteristics with the South Africa variant is emerging in New York City, researchers said Wednesday. As of mid-February, the new variant, called B.1.526, was present in about 12 percent of coronavirus samples collected in the Big Apple and surrounding areas, according to researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. In their analysis of publicly available databases, the Columbia researchers did not find a high prevalence of the South Africa or Brazil COVID-19 variants in the region.


“Instead we found high numbers of this home-grown lineage,” Dr. Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, said in a statement. The Columbia study found the new strain shares some similarities to the South Africa strain, which scientists believe can spread more easily than other virus variants. B.1.526 was also described in research published this week by the California Institute of Technology.

Read more …

“Critics call it a personal bailout for bureaucrats.”

COVID Aid Bill Pays Federal Employees With Kids Out Of School Up To $21K (F.)

The U.S. House version of the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021” – a $1.9 trillion emergency aid package to help America recover from the coronavirus pandemic has an extra perk for federal workers: Enhanced paid time off if your child is enrolled in a school that isn’t back to full-time, in-classroom instruction. Critics call it a personal bailout for bureaucrats. It is funded through a new $570 million family leave account exclusively for federal workers. While millions of parents struggle to work from home with kids who are enrolled in shuttered or partially shuttered schools, and millions more left the workforce or lost jobs to care for their at-home children, evidently parents in the federal bureaucracy need their own, personal Covid-19 bailout.

Buried on page 305 of the House bill released late last Friday night (included after the bailout details for states and localities), is a new Treasury Department fund called the “Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund.” $570 million in the new fund is available through September 30. Federal employees caring for others due to Covid-19 are eligible for paid leave. Among those eligible are those who are “unable to work” because they are caring for school-aged children not physically in school full time “due to Covid-19 precautions[.]” The new Fund allows a federal employee “caring for a son or daughter” to qualify for the paid leave, specifically:


“if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, if the school of such son or daughter requires or makes optional a virtual learning instruction model or requires or makes optional a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning instruction models, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to Covid-19 precautions;” Under the bill as currently drafted, full-time federal employees can take up to 600 hours in paid leave until September 30, up to $35 an hour and $1,400 a week. That’s 15 weeks for a 40-hour employee. Part-time and “seasonal” employees are eligible, too, with equivalent hours established by their agency.

Read more …

Find in your thesaurus under “dysfunctional”.

US Senators Weigh Paring Back Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Aid Plan (R.)

U.S. senators on Wednesday were eyeing potentially significant cuts to President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill as they awaited a ruling on whether the measure can include raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Senate parliamentarian was expected to decide soon whether Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposed minimum wage increase is allowable under a rule allowing a simple majority of the 100-member Senate to approve the sweeping relief measure, instead of the chamber’s typical 60-vote majority. The House of Representatives on Friday could pass the bill that would help tackle the heavy human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 500,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.

The Senate is likely to follow up in early March. The measure is Biden’s top legislative priority. Senate Democrats and Republicans were looking at scaling back some of the biggest provisions, including expanded federal unemployment benefits, $1,400 direct payments to Americans and money for state and local governments, according to lawmakers and aides. [..] A new round of stimulus checks could be scaled back to exclude more high earners, the aide said. Several senators, including Democrat Joe Manchin, have said they were looking at a minimum wage increase to $10 to $11 an hour, instead of $15 by 2025, up from the current $7.25.


“I think even though several Democrats have some concerns, that we can still find a basis for agreement,” Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who must juggle demands of progressive and moderate Democrats amid Republican opposition, described a U.S. economy in need of help beyond the nearly $4 trillion provided last year.

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“During the 2020 election campaign, Biden promised to make the Saudis “pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.”

New US Report To Blame Saudi Crown Prince For 2018 Killing Of Khashoggi (NBC)

The Biden administration will release an intelligence report Thursday that concludes that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, three U.S. officials familiar with the matter said. The intelligence assessment, based largely on work by the CIA, is not new — NBC News was among the organizations that confirmed it in 2018. But its public release will mark a significant new chapter in the U.S.-Saudi relationship and a clear break by President Joe Biden with former President Donald Trump’s policy of equivocating about the Saudi state’s role in a brutal murder that was widely condemned by members of Congress, journalists and a U.N. investigator.

Reuters first reported on the declassified intelligence summary scheduled for release Thursday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that Biden would communicate with the Saudi king, rather than his son the crown prince. She said the declassified report was being prepared for release soon. It remains to be seen how releasing the report will affect U.S.-Saudi relations. Biden officials have been engaging with the Saudis since they took office, according to the State Department.


[..] During the 2020 election campaign, Biden promised to make the Saudis “pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.” Biden has ended American support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, but he has not moved to cut off military aid to an important Middle East ally and counterterrorism partner. “The president’s intention, as is the intention of this government, is to recalibrate our engagement with Saudi Arabia,” Psaki said Wednesday.

Read more …

Get him under oath.

Swalwell Committee Colleagues Ask FBI For Briefing On China ‘Honey Pot’ (NYP)

Rep. Eric Swalwell’s Republican colleagues on the House Homeland Security Committee are asking the FBI to brief them on the California Democrat’s relationship with Chinese spy Fang Fang. The GOP legislators say that it’s important to understand Swalwell’s relationship with Fang, who seduced US politicians as part of her work, to protect themselves and national secrets. The 14 Homeland Security Committee Republicans, led by Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC), wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray that “Members of Congress must understand the threats we now face and the extent of damage already done.”

“As our nation faces a growing security threat from the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) attempts to infiltrate and undermine the United States Government, we write to request a full briefing regarding counterintelligence threats to Members of Congress, including information related to Representative Eric Swalwell’s ties to a suspected Chinese intelligence operative,” the legislators wrote. “In light of Fang’s infiltration of Rep. Swalwell’s inner circle, we believe Members of Congress must know the full extend of the CCP’s efforts to target Members of Congress.” The Republicans wrote to Wray, “We must ensure the Committee can safeguard Top Secret information and make an informed decision regarding Rep. Swalwell’s future access to classified information”


Swalwell is a member of both the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees, which entitles him to top-secret information. Most if not all of his GOP colleagues were unaware of his ties to Fang before a bombshell December report. Swalwell received an FBI “defensive briefing” in 2015 on Fang, who is believed to have returned to China to avoid apprehension. His brother and father remained active Facebook friends with her until after her role was publicly reported. Swalwell has refused to say if he had a romantic relationship with Fang, who fundraised for him and allegedly seduced at least two mayors as part of her work.

Read more …

Historians are going to think Twitter was a political party.

Twitter Deletes Dozens of Accounts for “Undermining Faith in NATO” (MPN)

Social media giant Twitter announced yesterday that it has deleted 373 accounts it claims were linked to Russia, Iran, and Armenia. In a blog post entitled “Disclosing networks of state-linked information operations,” it claimed that it had taken the decision to remove 69 Russian accounts primarily because they were “undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.”The move sparked controversy on Twitter itself, with many users joking that their own fealty to NATO was insufficiently zealous. Twitter justified the decision by pointing to its rules regarding the prohibition of state-controlled disinformation networks. Yet it failed to fully explain exactly how it knew these users were in the pay of the Kremlin or under the control of the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei.


Indeed, the supposedly “independent investigation and analysis” team at the Stanford Internet Observatory, to which Twitter contracted out its work, itself has troubling connections to the (U.S.) state. For example, its non-resident fellow Matt Masterton was, until recently, a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security. Indeed, the whole observatory is located within the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, headed by former American Ambassador to Russia (and noted Kremlin hawk) Michael McFaul. Supposed “experts” accuse users of being Russia-linked disinformation agents with great regularity. Ben Nimmo, data journalist and former NATO press officer, falsely asserted that a noted Ukrainian concert pianist and a Welsh pensioner were Kremlin bots. Nimmo was recently announced as Facebook’s chief of intelligence.

Read more …

Bubble.

NZ Housing Policy Stand Blows Up The Bond Market (AFR)

The New Zealand bond market imploded on Thursday as traders raced to price in a better-than-even chance of a rate hike coming as soon as this year, to ensure the central bank meets a shock Ardern government mandate to keep housing affordable. The yield on the 10-year New Zealand government bond soared 18.5 basis points to 1.852 per cent. Australian 10-year government bonds rose in sympathy, trading 11 basis points higher at 1.718 per cent. The New Zealand currency edged down 0.1 per cent to US74.26¢ late in the session, but it’s trading around the highest level since August 2017. The bond market sell-off came after New Zealand’s finance minister, Grant Robertson, declared that the central bank’s remit will now change so that it has to consider housing when making monetary and financial policy decisions.

Specifically, the the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) will have to take into account “government policy relating to more sustainable house prices, while working towards its objectives,” the finance minister said. In effect, that will mean that the RBNZ has to weed out investor property demand, which low rates and easy credit have fuelled. It will need to regularly explain to the government “how it has sought to assess the impacts on housing outcomes”. The finance minister also asked the RBNZ to provide advice on debt-to-income ratios and interest-only mortgages. “The minister’s direction is in tune with our recent advice to the government in which we detailed the many influences on house prices, including the actions of the Reserve Bank,” said RBNZ governor Adrian Orr. Just a day ago, he said the RBNZ had the capacity to deploy negative rates if needed.


The RBNZ is forecasting that house prices will soar to 22 per cent annual growth by mid-year, as New Zealanders turn to the investment they are most familiar with and that has delivered big returns in the past – housing. The central bank slapped new restrictions on the housing market earlier this month, after warning that speculation is helping to fuel huge post-pandemic price gains. The December REINZ house price index rose an eye-watering 17.3 per cent year on year, with prices up 18.1 per cent in Auckland and 16.6 per cent outside Auckland. ANZ New Zealand fixed income strategist David Croy said markets interpreted the government’s move to change the RBNZ’s mandate to include housing as further confirmation that the economy is flying. The market “is simply seeing the government’s move as validation of the good news,” he said.

Read more …

Sinkhole.

Lincoln Project Got $32mn In Free Media Coverage Since Sex Scandal Broke (RT)

Since the Lincoln Project’s co-founder John Weaver was accused of sexually harassing multiple young men, the controversial anti-Trump group has received tens of millions in free media coverage, according to a new analysis. Weaver’s alleged misconduct broke in a story on January 11 in a report from the American Conservative, but Lincoln Project members have still been aplenty on both CNN and MSNBC – two networks that have heavily promoted the organization, run by anti-Trump Republicans, since its inception. According to the new analysis from the conservative Washington Free Beacon, media coverage between January 11 and February 11 for the group is worth a whopping $32 million, based on advertising value estimated by media monitoring service Critical Mention. In that time, there were 40 appearances by founders and advisers – 10 on CNN and 30 on MSNBC.


Earlier this month, Weaver resigned from the group he co-founded after being accused of making unwanted sexual advances on numerous young men, often offering professional advances in exchange for sexual favors. He apologized for sending “inappropriate” messages, but reports since have indicated his behavior was known about by others, including co-founder Steve Schmidt, who has denied such knowledge. Only hours after Weaver’s departure, Schmidt appeared on ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’, where he faced no questions about his fellow co-founder but was grilled about the group’s tens of millions in funding and where it goes. That subject has become yet another controversy for the group, as it has been revealed much of the money was funneled into separate organizations involved with the founders.

Read more …

Pass it to Nancy and Kamala.

House Dems Call for Biden to Give Up Sole Launch Authority for Nukes (NM)

A group of about three dozen Democrats in the House have signed a letter calling for President Joe Biden to give up his sole authority to authorize the launch of nuclear weapons, which was obtained by Politico. “Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks,” reads the letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., according to Politico. “Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment.” The letter continues, “While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so. The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”


The congressman said in a tweet on Wednesday: “ICYMI: I’m calling on @POTUS to install checks & balances in our nuclear command-and-control structure. Past presidents have threatened nuclear attacks on other countries or exhibited concerning behavior that cast doubt on their judgment.” The Democrats suggest several alternatives to the president’s sole authority, including requiring other officials in the presidential line of succession, specifically the vice president and the House Speaker, neither of whom can be removed by the president if they disagree — to concur with a launch order.”

Read more …

Which idiots signed that treaty?

The Greatest Threat to the Planet You’ve Never Heard Of (NC)

On 4 February the German energy giant RWE announced it wassuing the government of the Netherlands. The crime? Proposing to phase out coal from the country’s electricity mix. The company, which is Europe’s biggest emitter of carbon, is demanding €1.4bn in ‘compensation’ from the country for loss of potential earnings, because the Dutch government has banned the burning of coal for electricity from 2030. If this sounds unreasonable, then you might be surprised to learn that this kind of legal action is perfectly normal – and likely to become far more commonplace in the coming years. RWE is suing under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), a little-known international agreement signed without much public debate in 1994.

The treaty binds more than 50 countries, and allows foreign investors in the energy sector to sue governments for decisions that might negatively impact their profits – including climate policies. Governments can be forced to pay huge sums in compensation if they lose an ECT case. On Tuesday, Investigate Europe revealed that the EU, the UK and Switzerland could be forced to pay more than €345bn in ECT lawsuits over climate action in the coming years. This amount, which is more than twice the EU’s annual budget, represents the total value of the fossil fuel infrastructure that is protected by the ECT, and was calculated using data gathered by Global Energy Monitor and Change of Oil International.


With ECT-covered assets worth €141bn (or more than €2,000 per citizen), the UK – which in 2019 became the first major economy to pass a net zero emissions law – is the country most vulnerable to future claims. In 2019 the European Commission called the ECT “outdated” and “no longer sustainable”, and more than 450 climate leaders and scientists and 300 lawmakers from across Europe have called on governments to withdraw from the treaty. But in response, powerful interests have mobilised to not just defend the treaty, but to expand it to new signatory states. These interests include the fossil fuels lobby keen to keep its outsized legal privileges; lawyers who make millions arguing ECT cases; and the Brussels-based ECT Secretariat, which has close ties to both industries and whose survival depends on the treaty’s continuation.

Read more …

That graph is downright scary.

California Bill Requires ‘Gender Neutral’ Stores (DW)

California’s Assembly is slated to consider a new bill requiring department store childrens’ sections to be largely “gender-neutral” in order to combat “prejudice” and “judgment” against gender non-conforming children. “Large retailers that sell toys, clothes, and other children’s items in California would have to devote floor space to merchandise marketed to both boys and girls under a new bill,” Politico reported earlier this week. “Stores would be able to sell the same products they do now as long as they maintain some areas where shoppers can find all toys or clothes, regardless of gender-based marketing, under CA AB2826 (19R) from Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell). It would apply to department stores with 500 or more employees beginning in 2023.”


Lowe told Politico that the idea for the bill, which he also introduced last year to little effect, came from one of his staffers, who claims her daughter wanted an item in the “boys” section but felt slighted because she felt the toy was designated for a male child. “This is an issue of children being able to express themselves without bias,” Lowe told the outlet. “Keeping similar items that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys separated makes it more difficult for the consumer to compare the products and incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate,” the text of the bill notes.

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 122021
 


Ansel Adams The Tetons and the Snake River 1942

 

Cuomo Aide Admits They Hid Nursing Home Data From Feds (NYP)
Kent Covid Variant Mutation Must Be Taken Seriously, Warns UK Scientist (G.)
‘Denier’ Is The Dirty Word Of The Pandemic (Furedi)
Biden Administration Says No Domestic Travel Restrictions Planned (F.)
Twitter Permanently Suspends ‘Project Veritas’ Group (Hill)
Instagram Removes Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Account With 800,000+ Subscribers (RT)
Reckless Rhetoric Is A Reckless Standard For An Impeachment Trial (Turley)
G7 Seen Backing Issuance Of New IMF SDRs (R.)
Markets Are Giddy About Reopening – And That’s The Problem (Pol.)
The Only Way Out of the Death Trap (Rickards)
Why Victoria Nuland Is Dangerous and Should Not Be Confirmed (Antiwar)
Database Of All Ivermectin COVID-19 Studies (C19I)

 

 

A new insight:

 

 

Myopia.

 

 

Remember the hospital ships Trump set to New York? Cuomo didn’t use them. Because it was Trump.

“Cuomo sent 9000 infected patients into nursing homes instead of the USNS Comfort.”

While he be indicted, along with his helpers? I wouldn’t count on it.

Cuomo Aide Admits They Hid Nursing Home Data From Feds (NYP)

Governor Cuomo’s top aide privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the state’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19 — telling them “we froze” out of fear the true numbers would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors, The Post has learned. The stunning admission of a cover-up was made by Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa during a video conference call with state Democratic leaders in which she said the Cuomo administration had rebuffed a legislative request for the tally in August because “right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football,” according to an audio recording of the two-hour-plus meeting.

“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa said. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.” In addition to attacking Cuomo’s fellow Democratic governors, DeRosa said, Trump “directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.” “And basically, we froze,” she told the lawmakers on the call. “Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.” DeRosa added: “That played a very large role into this.”

After dropping the bombshell, DeRosa asked for “a little bit of appreciation of the context” and offered what appears to be the Cuomo administration’s first apology for its handling of nursing homes amid the pandemic. But instead of a mea culpa to the grieving family members of more than 13,000 dead seniors or the critics who say the Health Department spread COVID-19 in the care facilities with a March 25 state Health Department directive that nursing homes admit infected patients, DeRosa tried to make amends with the fellow Democrats for the political inconvenience it caused them. “So we do apologize,” she said. “I do understand the position that you were put in. I know that it is not fair. It was not our intention to put you in that political position with the Republicans.”

Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) immediately rejected DeRosa’s expression of remorse, according to the recording. “I don’t have enough time today to explain all the reasons why I don’t give that any credit at all,” said Gottfried, one of the lawmakers who demanded the death-toll data in August. State Senate Aging Committee Chairwoman Rachel May (D-Syracuse) — who was battered during her re-election bid last year over the issue of nursing-home deaths — also ripped into DeRosa, saying her former opponent had launched another broadside earlier in the day. “And the issue for me, the biggest issue of all is feeling like I needed to defend — or at least not attack — an administration that was appearing to be covering something up,” she said.

Read more …

So start sending out the vitamin D. And boost your ivermectin supplies.

Kent Covid Variant Mutation Must Be Taken Seriously, Warns UK Scientist (G.)

The Kent variant of the coronavirus with a key mutation that enables the South African variant to escape some of the vaccines used against it must be taken very seriously in the UK, according to a leading microbiologist. Prof Ravi Gupta of the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases, who is a member of the government’s scientific advisory body Nervtag, warned that the mutated variant, at the moment causing just 21 known cases, should be treated with as much concern as the South African variant. The Kent variant B117, which spreads twice as fast as the original coronavirus, is now dominant in the UK and is present in many countries around the world.

But Public Health England has identified 21 cases of B117 that also have the E484K mutation: 14 in the Bristol region, four in Greater Manchester and three elsewhere. E484K is the change to the spike protein in South Africa that scientists believe is chiefly responsible for vaccines triggering a lower antibody response to infection. Nervtag (new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group), which is part of the UK Sage committee of scientists, has designated this a “variant of concern”. This key mutation that had now arisen in the UK has been shown to reduce the efficacy of antibodies in many lab studies, said Gupta. So treating it as we would the South African variant itself is sensible, he said.

“Given that we think this one is responsible for a large knock-off of the effects of vaccine efficacy or even immunity, then, I think it’s wise,” he said. E484K is also found in the Brazilian variant, which it is thought may be infecting people who should be immune because they had previously become ill with the original coronavirus – although the evidence is still anecdotal. “Given all these factors, I think it should be taken very seriously,” he said.

Read more …

“The targeting of denial has little to do with the distinct features of any specific issues. It is driven by a mood of intolerance towards those who are sceptical of the received wisdom.”

‘Denier’ Is The Dirty Word Of The Pandemic (Furedi)

Legitimate views about the effectiveness of lockdown are being silenced with accusations of Covid ‘denial’. The misuse of this powerful and emotive word, often associated with the Holocaust, is morally wrong and needs to stop. These days, if you want to shut down critical or dissident views, all you need to do is shout ‘denier’. This morally charged scare word is often hurled at anyone who questions the efficacy of the current lockdown or any of the policies associated with it. Consequently, the term denial is used to delegitimise the view of someone who is sceptical about the lockdown. For some time now, scepticism – an attitude associated with a questioning mind – has been targeted by would-be censors and treated as a marker for insidious behaviour. ‘How climate scepticism turned into something more dangerous’ warns an academic in the Guardian.

The rhetorical strategy of attributing malevolent intent to scepticism is demonstrated by the decision of the Guardian to update its style guide by changing the usage of the term ‘climate sceptic’ to that of ‘climate denier’. With its long-established religious connotation as an expression of heresy, denial communicates an act of mortal sin. This quasi-religious meaning is still conveyed by 21st century moral entrepreneurs. “I have seen Covid denial up close – it was a chilling experience,” writes a commentator. In recent times, the term denial has mutated from its religious connotations to become an all-purpose secular sin. It has emerged as a turbo-charged moral crime because of its association with the Holocaust. [..] This self-conscious exploitation of the Holocaust was illustrated by a journalist for the online magazine Grist, who wanted to see global warming deniers prosecuted like Nazi war criminals.

With the tone of vitriol characteristic of dogmatic inquisitors, he noted that “we should have war crimes trials for these bastards,” adding “some sort of climate Nuremberg.” During the pandemic, the rhetoric of denial has been frequently used to associate people who are sceptical of government policy with the sins of other types of denials. As one commentator explained: “Denial is pernicious and can have dire impacts. Climate change denial leads to lack of action that would preserve a healthy planet. Mask denial leads to increased spread of and mortality from the Covid virus. Denial of sexual abuse leads to horrific instances where an abuser is allowed to persist in their malfeasance for years because those responsible for the institutions in which they operated – schools, churches, companies, scouts, etc) refused to face the terrible reality that existed under their own roofs.”

From this perspective, denial itself, without regard to any specific object is pernicious. The targeting of denial has little to do with the distinct features of any specific issues. It is driven by a mood of intolerance towards those who are sceptical of the received wisdom. The alarmist tone used to rebrand anyone sceptical of a lockdown policy as a denier makes it difficult for many people to openly voice their reservations on the predicament they face. A lockdown sceptic is not simply treated as someone with a different point of view but as a threat to the community. They are also condemned for having blood on their hands. They have “deadly beliefs” which constitute a threat to the survival of a community.

Read more …

Florida just made the whole thing up?!

Biden Administration Says No Domestic Travel Restrictions Planned (F.)

The Biden administration has denied reports that it’s actively considering domestic travel restrictions to slow the spread of new coronavirus variants, telling Reuters Thursday that “no specific decisions are under consideration” after Florida Republicans slammed the suggestion that the White House could restrict travel to the state. An anonymous Biden source told the Miami Herald Wednesday the administration was actively discussing “potential travel restrictions within the United States” as a way to curb emerging coronavirus variants, as the more transmissible variant first detected in the United Kingdom is expected to become the U.S.’s primary strain by March.

Though the official said no particular states were so far being targeted by the potential restrictions and no final decisions had yet been made, the variants are especially prevalent in Florida and California, and the official said “all options are on the table.” Republicans heavily opposed the travel restrictions: in a letter to President Joe Biden quoted by the Herald, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the move would be “an outrageous, authoritarian move that has no basis in law or science.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed the possibility of restrictions at a press conference Thursday, saying it “would purely be a political attack against the people of Florida” and “it’s unclear why they would even try talking about that.”

A White House spokesperson denied the report to Reuters Thursday, saying that while the administration is “continuing to discuss” potential travel recommendations, “To be clear, there have been no decisions made around additional public health measures for domestic travel safety.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing Thursday that while the administration is “always considering what steps are necessary” for public health, “no decisions have been made” regarding any measures that could affect domestic travel considerations.

Read more …

Twitter will go.

Twitter Permanently Suspends ‘Project Veritas’ Group (Hill)

Twitter permanently suspended an account belonging to Project Veritas on Thursday, citing repeat violations of the site’s policies against publishing private information. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to The Hill that the main Project Veritas account was permanently suspended, while founder James O’Keefe had his account temporarily locked. Several recent tweets on O’Keefe’s timeline appeared to have been deleted by Thursday afternoon. [..] Founded in 2010, Project Veritas is a right-wing group that routinely published undercover sting videos, some of which have been accused of deceptive editing. Last October the group was criticized after claiming to have uncovered a witness to voter fraud in Minnesota only for the witness to backtrack on his claims days later and accuse Project Veritas operatives of trying to bribe him, according to multiple reports.

The group, which frequently targets Democratic politicians and media organizations, scored a victory last year when an ABC News correspondent was suspended after a Veritas video showed him claiming that the network does not care about newsworthy issues. They have also published videos of a “Good Morning America” anchor complaining about the network ignoring her story on disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. O’Keefe, in an emailed statement, told The Hill that the content in question was a video of Project Veritas members questioning a Facebook executive, Guy Rosen.

“Late last night, Twitter locked Project Veritas’s and my Twitter accounts, claiming we violated Twitter Guidelines by posting a video of our journalists asking questions of Facebook’s Vice President Guy Rosen which Rosen refused to answer. Twitter claimed the video published private information, which is false. Twitter invited Project Veritas to, and we did, appeal that decision with Twitter. In an apparent act of retaliation for daring to question their authority, Twitter responded to our appeal by suspending our account, continuing to tell us that Project Veritas could delete the tweet and have our account reinstated,” said O’Keefe. “This is nothing new from Twitter – just last fall Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted in Congress his company’s decision to block the New York Post was erroneous while still demanding the Post kneel before them by deleting the tweet,” he continued, adding: “Here we go again – Twitter opting to delete news and demand fealty when their decision is dared to be questioned.”

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This is worse than thought police. Cut them down to size.

Instagram Removes Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Account With 800,000+ Subscribers (RT)

Facebook has taken down the Instagram page of former president John F. Kennedy’s nephew – a prominent vaccine critic with 800,000 subscribers. The tech giant has recently stepped up its offensive on what it deems Covid-19 disinfo Kennedy’s Instagram account with its massive following was erased on Wednesday. “We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” Facebook said, confirming the deletion of his hugely popular page. The account was yanked shortly after the Washington Post reported that it had alerted the Facebook-owned social network to Kennedy’s post with the viral clip from “Planet Lockdown.” The video is an interview starring Kennedy’s ally, Catherine Austin Fitts, who served as assistant secretary of housing in the George H.W. Bush administration.


In the clip, which has since been scrapped from YouTube, Facebook, and other established social media, Fitts reportedly argues that the vaccination drive against Covid-19 is a sinister plot masterminded by a global cabal, and that vaccines can change people’s DNA or render them infertile. Kennedy, who was known to be a vocal vaccine skeptic long before the pandemic, reposted the video on December 29. It had reportedly racked up some 900,000 views before it was taken down. He also boasts a sizable 214,000-strong following on Twitter, however his handle there appears to be intact. Kennedy Jr. has drawn stark criticism for his anti-vaccine stance from the mainstream media, with CNN’s Jake Tapper labeling him a “menace” for calling Dr. Anthony Fauci a “very sinister guy who has turned” America over to “Big Pharma.”

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Reckless rhetoric reflects our age of rage.

Reckless Rhetoric Is A Reckless Standard For An Impeachment Trial (Turley)

The Trump team is likely to play back similar language used by Democrats in both houses to “fight” for the country and to “retake” Congress. During Trump’s 2017 inauguration, Democrats denounced his legitimacy as riots broke out in Washington involving violent groups. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) later called on people to confront Republicans in public; Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) insisted during 2020’s violent protests that “there needs to be unrest in the streets.” Then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said “protesters should not let up” even as many protests turned violent or deadly. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has condemned fellow members as effectively traitors and the “enemy within.” She was criticized last year for stating, in the midst of violent protests, that “I just don’t know why there aren’t uprisings all over the country. Maybe there will be.”

All of these Democrats insist they meant peaceful acts — and I believe them. But that is the point: Rioters sought to burn federal buildings or occupy state capitals and, in some cases, seized police stations, sections of cities, even a city hall. Democrats’ words did not cause that violence on the left. Yet, this impeachment trial invites the same or similar words to be interpreted subjectively, based on whether you believe or approve of the speaker. Reckless rhetoric reflects our age of rage. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stood in front of the Supreme Court and, citing two justices by name, declared menacingly: “Hey, Gorsuch. Hey, Kavanaugh — you’ve unleashed a whirlwind. And you’re going to pay the price.” Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) seemed to defend the recent violent takeover of a St. Louis prison by tweeting the words of Martin Luther King that “a riot is the language of the unheard.”

Nor is this limited to Washington: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) defended state Rep. Cynthia Johnson (D) who called for “soldiers” to “make [Trump supporters] pay” for criticizing and harassing her. Fired FBI director James Comey has been given to reckless rhetoric, too. He recently said: “The Republican Party needs to be burned down … It’s just not a healthy political organization.” Likewise, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin declared that “We have to collectively, in essence, burn down the Republican Party. We have to level them because if there are survivors, if there are people who weather this storm, they will do it again.” Since the Republican National Committee was targeted with a pipe bomb on Jan. 6, would that constitute incitement to arson or violence?

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The final step towards oblivion.

G7 Seen Backing Issuance Of New IMF SDRs (R.)

Group of Seven finance ministers are likely to back a new allocation of the International Monetary Fund’s own currency, or special drawing rights, at an online meeting on Friday to help low-income countries, sources said. A new issuance is similar to when a central bank prints money as the new SDRs give each IMF member more reserves to draw on in proportion to their shareholding in the Fund. Officials from the United States, the IMF’s biggest shareholder, have signalled they are open to a new issuance of $500 billion, sources said – a clear shift in position under the administration of new U.S. President Joe Biden. “We expect Friday’s G7 meeting to take decisions on important initiatives, and for France that is the question of a new allocation of IMF special drawing rights,” a French finance ministry source said.


A consensus among the G7 rich nations would pave the way for a broader agreement among G20 countries next month, which could in turn set the stage for a formal decision at the IMF’s annual spring meeting in April. Two sources familiar with the matter said U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had not clearly stated her views on the matter. A third source said Republicans in the U.S. Congress would “have a field day” with the potential boost in funding for China, Iran and Venezuela. Proponents said it would be difficult for countries facing U.S. sanctions to access the cash, however, as they would have to use banks wary of running afoul of Washington. Senior Democratic U.S. senators who back an even larger allocation of 2 trillion SDRs are lobbying U.S. Treasury officials personally to move forward, including through direct calls, a Senate aide said.

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Until the Fed withdraws, there are no markets.

Markets Are Giddy About Reopening – And That’s The Problem (Pol.)

Gas prices are climbing. Home prices are surging. Stock markets keep hitting fresh records as chatroom-driven mania draws in giddy investors. The economy and financial markets appear to be pricing themselves for perfection, betting on rapid vaccinations and a surge of consumer spending later this year that will pull the nation out of its pandemic funk. Serious risks are still lurking just below the surface: Vaccinations could take far longer than expected. New Covid strains could evade vaccines and spur new lockdowns. All of this could trigger falls in stock prices and other assets and stomp on job creation.

But if the dream scenario does arrive, another risk is lurking: A burst of new spending and economic growth coupled with the massive amount of fiscal stimulus in the system — possibly including nearly $2 trillion more under the White House’s latest plan — could lead to a sharp spike in inflation. That would send stocks tumbling and could force the U.S. Federal Reserve to contemplate raising interest rates to cool the economy. The Goldilocks scenario Wall Street and the White House are hoping for includes a successful vaccination effort and enough federal support to keep millions of suffering Americans afloat until then, followed by an economy that runs neither too hot nor too cold. But there is no guarantee Goldilocks will arrive.

“The Biden plan coming on top of last year’s stimulus, the budding increase in union power, the rising risk of import inflation coupled with a ballooning trade deficit, and other data suggest to me that inflation will jump,” said Richard Bernstein of financial firm RBAdvisors. And it could be that all the easy money from the Fed has created dangerous bubbles that could pop, Bernstein warned. “The Fed is providing tons of liquidity, but because banks have been hesitant to lend, the liquidity is trapped in the financial economy and bubbles are forming. Whether it’s Bitcoin, SPACs, Robinhood day traders, or anything similar, it’s clearly not healthy capital formation.”

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“The Fed can call a board meeting, vote on a new policy, walk outside and announce to the world that effective immediately, the price of gold is $5,000 per ounce.”

The Only Way Out of the Death Trap (Rickards)

Economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart carried out a long historical survey going back 800 years, looking at individual countries, or empires in some cases, that have gone broke or defaulted on their debt. They put the danger zone at a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90%. Once it reaches 90%, debt becomes a drag on growth. Meanwhile, we’re looking at deficits of $1 trillion or more, long after the pandemic subsides. In basic terms, the United States is going broke. We’re heading for a sovereign debt crisis. I don’t say that for effect. I’m not looking to scare people or to make a splash. That’s just an honest assessment based on the numbers. Tax cuts won’t bring us out of it, neither can structural changes to the economy. Both would help if done properly, but the problem is simply far too large.

So, an economic time bomb is ticking. Velocity is dropping. Debt is growing while growth is slowing. The explosion will come in the form of asset bubbles bursting and stocks crashing. There’s no way out of the debt death trap. Or is there? There is actually a way out. It’s the only solution left, really. And that’s inflation. Deflation increases the real value of debt. With deflation, the value of money increases, making it more burdensome to pay off debt. This is why debtors hate deflation. And guess who is the world’s largest debtor nation? That’s right, the U.S. On the other hand, inflation decreases the real value of debt. It’s easier to pay down debt because you’re paying back debt with dollars that are less valuable than when you originally borrowed them. But the Fed has failed to produce inflation for over a decade now, despite all the trillions of dollars it’s fabricated.

Then how can the government and the Fed produce inflation now? The solution is to increase the price of gold in order to change inflationary expectations. That will increase money velocity and get the growth engine running again. The Fed could actually cause inflation in about 15 minutes if it used this method. FDR did this to perfection in 1933, and his actions began to dig us out of the Great Depression. Jerome Powell, Biden and his Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen could do it again if they wanted to (assuming they know how, which is probably too much to assume). But how could they increase the gold price to increase money velocity and change inflation expectations? I’ve written about it before, but it bears revisiting, especially since there are newer readers who may be unfamiliar with it. Here’s how they can do it:

The Fed can call a board meeting, vote on a new policy, walk outside and announce to the world that effective immediately, the price of gold is $5,000 per ounce. They could make that new price stick by using the Treasury’s gold in Fort Knox and the major U.S. bank gold dealers to conduct “open market operations” in gold. The Fed will be a buyer if the price hits $4,950 per ounce or less and a seller if the price hits $5,050 per ounce or higher. They will print money when they buy and reduce the money supply when they sell via the banks. The Fed would target the gold price rather than interest rates. The point is to cause a generalized increase in the price level. A rise in the price of gold from $1,900 per ounce to $5,000 per ounce is a massive devaluation of the dollar when measured in the quantity of gold that one dollar can buy.

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She was involved in everything from 2000 on. So much suffering.

Why Victoria Nuland Is Dangerous and Should Not Be Confirmed (Antiwar)

Victoria Nuland exemplifies the neocons who have led US foreign policy from one disaster to another for the past 30 years while evading accountability. It is a bad sign that President Joe Biden has nominated Victoria Nuland for the third highest position at the State Department, Under Secretary for Political Affairs. As a top-level appointee, Victoria Nuland must be confirmed by the US Senate. There is a campaign to Stop her confirmation. The following review of her work shows why Victoria Nuland is incompetent, highly dangerous and should not be confirmed.

Afghanistan and Iraq: From 2000 to 2003, Nuland was US permanent representative to NATO as the Bush administration attacked then invaded Afghanistan. The Afghan government offered to work with the US remove Al Qaeda, but this was rejected. After Al Qaeda was defeated, the US could have left Afghanistan but instead stayed, established semi-permanent bases, split the country, and is still fighting there two decades later. From 2003 to 2005 Nuland was principal foreign policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney who “helped plan and manage the war that toppled Saddam Hussein, including making Bush administration’s case for preemptive military actions based on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.” The foreign policy establishment, with Nuland on the far right, believed that removing Saddam Hussein and installing a US “ally” would be simple. The invasion and continuing occupation have resulted in over a million dead Iraqis, many thousands of dead Americans, hundreds of thousands with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at a cost of 2 to 6 TRILLION dollars.

[..] Victoria Nuland has promoted a foreign policy of intervention through coups, proxy wars, aggression, and ongoing occupations. The policy has been implemented with bloody and disastrous results in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. With consummate hypocrisy she accuses Russia of spreading misinformation in the US, while she openly seeks to put “stress on Putin where he is vulnerable, including among his own citizens.” She wants to “establish permanent bases along NATO’s eastern border and increase the pace and visibility of joint training exercises.”

Victoria Nuland is the queen of chicken hawks, the Lady Macbeth of perpetual war. There are hundreds of thousands of victims from the policies she has promoted. Yet she has not received a scratch. On the contrary, Victoria Nuland probably has profited from a stock portfolio filled with military contractors.Now Victoria Nuland wants to provoke, threaten and “rollback” Russia. A quick look at a map of US military bases shows who is threatening whom. Victoria Nuland is highly dangerous and should not be confirmed.

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Dig in!

Database Of All Ivermectin COVID-19 Studies (C19I)

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Feb 022021
 
 February 2, 2021  Posted by at 10:36 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  27 Responses »


MC Escher Relativity 1953

 

Is Robinhood The Devil in Sheep’s Clothing? (Neville)
Physical Premium To Paper Hits Record As Silver Market Tears In Two (ZH)
Papering Over the Rot (Chris Hedges)
How To Redesign COVID Vaccines So They Protect Against Variants (Nature)
COVID19 Vaccine Developers Ask SEC to Help Keep Price Setting Secret (DP)
The Brazil Variant Is Exposing the World’s Vulnerability (Atl.)
Fauci 180º: Double Masking For Covid-19 Doesn’t ‘Make A Difference’ (JTN)
Oversight Board Reverses Facebook Removal Of HCQ Post (JTN)
The Game is On (Jim Kunstler)
Figures Tied To Past Controversies Increasingly Land Jobs On Team Biden (JTN)
Why You Haven’t Seen A Sit-Down Biden Interview Yet (Pol.)
Hundreds Deported Under Biden, Including Witness To Massacre (AP)
Biden Considers Revoking Trump’s Rights To Be Briefed On Secrets (DM)
Kerry Gifts Wall Street the Green New Deal (Pettifor)
Twitter Suspends Account of Group That Called For Regulating Big Tech (JTN)

 

 

 

 

“Back in Washington, they’ve found a company to crucify who turned out to be even bigger hypocrites than they are. Quite the bi-partisan cause!”

Is Robinhood The Devil in Sheep’s Clothing? (Neville)

Robinhood fancies themselves as commission free trading which is giving normal people free access to the stock market. They are the Facebook of the financial world. You think it’s free, but your data ends up being sold to another big business who profits off of it more than you do. For Zuckerberg, he sells all your data to businesses across the world. For Robinhood, they sell your data to Ken Griffin and other High Frequency Trading shops. You could write a book on the nuances of it, but let’s leave it there for now. As Facebook and (anti)social media grew too large, it has created mass hysterias. Neuroscientist and philosopher, Sam Harris, speaks on his podcast about humans losing sense of their rationality. Because of the constant propaganda being thrown on social media, humans are having a hard time deciphering truths and often create false realities.

Humans end up giving their attention to the most extreme personalities (watch the Tekashi69 Documentary on HBO) and the values of balance and a middle class lifestyle go out the door. In the same way that Facebook has distorted human perception, Robinhood is doing this to capital markets, which might be even scarier. If no one knows the value of things, then how do we attempt to live in a civilized society and trade value for value? Stan Druckenmiller has said that there should be some sort of hurdle rate for investment into the market. Perhaps this is what he saw coming? One of the words that I am shorting over the next five years is ‘scale’. One of the words that will likely replace it is ‘balance’. With balance, you get real growth and real innovation. You accept the fact you are human and fallible while constantly trying to learn from your failures. With scale, you just want to control things as fast as you can at the expense of the herd.

I worked as a trader for 12 years before tapping out and realizing my job was getting eaten alive by algorithms & high-frequency-trading. I tried to out-hustle it, but the incentive to make things cheaper for the end consumer to buy stocks inevitably won. As a free market capitalist, I have to give passive investment, HFT & Robinhood some major props. What they did was brilliant, but I can’t help but ask myself whether we’ve sacrificed social stability in that pursuit of scale. Behind closed doors, I know they are concerned and they can’t unwind what they’ve built. I get messages from Wall Street friends everyday now who can’t openly speak about it, but know how messed up the capital markets are.

With retail equity and call buying at all time records, liquidity could get funky if pay-for-order flow providers pull back at all. CEO’s at Schwab, TD and Virtu will likely try to distance themselves from that model. In the interim, Robinhood will likely do a nice round of mea-culpas with the best PR firms on the market and apologize to everyone about the GameStop situation. The big VC’s on Robinhood’s cap table who are obsessed with scale will make their calls into Washington. Back in Washington, they’ve found a company to crucify who turned out to be even bigger hypocrites than they are. Quite the bi-partisan cause!

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What will be the new normal? Can’t imagine it will be like the old one.

Physical Premium To Paper Hits Record As Silver Market Tears In Two (ZH)

APMEX Statement On Current Market Conditions:

In the last week, we have seen a dramatic shift in Silver demand from our customers. For example, the ratio of ounces sold per day was running about two times earlier in the week and closer to four times the average demand by the end of the week. Once markets closed on Friday, we saw demand hit as much as six times a typical business day and more than 12 times a normal weekend day. Combined with the extremely high demand levels, we are also seeing a surge in new customers. On Saturday alone, we added as many new customers as we usually add in a week.

Any Precious Metal dealer will take a long position in the futures market to protect against spot price exposure when the markets open. We do this because it is our goal not to take a speculative position on metal. The weekends are unique as we are not able to real-time hedge our position. We took an aggressive position this weekend, but clearly could not have predicted the volumes that were seen. We have partnerships around to world that allowed us to cover these long positions, but only to a point. Once we exceeded our comfort levels, we had little choice but to stop the sale of Silver on our website. This was a difficult decision to make and unprecedented in our history.

As we evaluate the markets, it is difficult to know where Silver’s price and demand will go in the coming day and weeks. APMEX is highly capitalized and has more than $150 million in inventory to support demand. We have made strategic decisions to procure additional metal, locking up any metal we can find in the market place. We suspect premiums will rise and rise quickly, as we are seeing significant increases in our costs, when we can even locate the metal. It is also highly likely that we will need an additional day or two to fill orders based on current order counts. The one guarantee we can make to our customers is that you will only be sold metal that is on-site, or we have procured the metal with a firm commitment date from our partners. In markets like this, we feel this is the best approach a retailer can take, as no one can predict product availability.

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“The new wealth comes from a cartel capitalism far more concentrated and far more criminal than any of the cartels built by the old robber barons of the 19th century.”

Papering Over the Rot (Chris Hedges)

The death spiral of the American Empire will not be halted with civility. It will not be halted with the 42 executive orders signed by President Joe Biden, however welcome many are, especially since they can, with a new chief executive, be immediately revoked. It will not be halted by removing Donald Trump, and the crackpot conspiracy theorists, Christian fascists and racists who support him, from social media. It will not be halted by locking up the Proud Boys and the clueless protestors who stormed the Congress on Jan. 6. and took selfies in Vice President Mike Pence’s Senate chair. It will not be halted by restoring the frayed alliances with our European allies or rejoining the World Health Organization or the Paris Climate Agreement.


Mr. Fish

All of these measures are window dressing, masking the root cause of the demise of America — unchecked oligarchic power and greed. The longer wealth is funneled upwards into the hands of a tiny, oligarchic cabal, who put Biden into office and whose interests he assiduously serves, we are doomed. Once an oligarchy seizes power, deforming governing institutions to exclusively serve their narrow interests and turning the citizenry into serfs, there are only two options, as Aristotle pointed out — tyranny or revolution. The staggering concentration of wealth and obscene avarice of the very rich now dwarfs the hedonism and excesses of the world’s most heinous despots and wealthiest capitalists of the past.

In 2015, shortly before he died, Forbes estimated David Rockefeller’s net worth was $3 billion. The Shah of Iran looted an estimated $1 billion from his country. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos amassed between $5 and $10 billion. And the former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was worth about a billion. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are each at $180 billion. The new wealth comes from a cartel capitalism far more concentrated and far more criminal than any of the cartels built by the old robber barons of the 19th century.

It was made possible by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton who, in exchange for corporate money to fund their campaigns and later Clinton’s foundation and post-presidency opulent lifestyle, abolished the regulations that once protected the citizenry from the worst forms of monopoly exploitation. The demolishing of regulations made possible the largest upwards transference of wealth in American history. Whatever you say about Trump, he at least initiated moves to break up Facebook, Google, Amazon and the other Silicon Valley monopolists, none of which will happen under Biden, whose campaign these corporations bankrolled. And that has to be one of the reasons these digital platforms disappeared Trump from social media.

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We’re all hostages to these companies now. No-one talks about boosting your immune system, or getting fitter, natural defenses are not done.

How To Redesign COVID Vaccines So They Protect Against Variants (Nature)

Labs worldwide are racing to understand the threat that emerging coronavirus variants pose for vaccines. But early insights from these studies are mixed and incomplete. A variant identified in late 2020 in South Africa, called 501Y.V2 (also known as variant B.1.351), is among the most worrying. Lab assays have found that it carries mutations that sap the potency of virus-inactivating ‘neutralizing antibodies’ that were made by people who received either the Pfizer or Moderna RNA vaccines. Whether these changes are enough to lower the effectiveness of those vaccines is not clear, says Subbarao. “That is the million-dollar question, because we don’t know how much antibody you need.” Other immune responses that vaccines prompt might help to protect against the effects of variants.

But on 28 January, biotech firm Novavax released data from clinical trials showing that its experimental vaccine, designed to combat the original virus, was about 85% effective against a variant identified in the United Kingdom — but less than 50% effective against 501Y.V2. That drop is concerning, say researchers, because it indicates that 501Y.V2 and other variants like it can cause a significant drop in vaccines’ effectiveness. “I think it’s inevitable for the vaccines to maintain tip-top efficacy, they will need to be updated. The only question is how often and when,” says Paul Bieniasz, a virologist at the Rockefeller University in New York City who co-led one of the neutralizing-antibody studies. Scientists, health officials and vaccine makers are starting to hash this out. Researchers are only beginning to learn how different mutations alter vaccine responses and how evolutionary forces can cause mutations to spread. “I certainly wouldn’t update them now,” says Bieniasz.

One model that COVID vaccine updates could follow is that of seasonal flu vaccines, says Subbarao, who directs the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne. Centres including hers monitor emerging flu strains for genetic changes that might influence vaccines’ effectiveness. Researchers use studies with ferret and human antibodies to determine whether a new flu strain is likely to evade a previous season’s vaccine, and therefore necessitate an update. These reviews are conducted annually for each hemisphere’s flu season, and changes are made only when a vaccine-evading strain is widespread, says Subbarao. “If it’s localized to one region, one country, we wouldn’t change the vaccine for the whole hemisphere.”

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Drug pricing is not the scandal here.

COVID19 Vaccine Developers Ask SEC to Help Keep Price Setting Secret (DP)

When the U.S. government awarded over $10 billion in contracts and advance- purchase commitments to drug companies working on COVID-19 vaccine and treatments, it did not require the recipients of government money to agree to offer their products at fair prices or share intellectual property rights to enable faster production. Now, two of the companies awarded those contracts—Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson—are trying to prevent shareholders from voting on resolutions to require the companies to disclose information about the impact of government funding on vaccine access. The U.S. government has purchased 200 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, for about $20 and $10 per dose, respectively.

The shareholder resolutions, filed by members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a shareholder activism organization, ask those two companies to inform their shareholders how “receipt of public financial support for development and manufacture of products for COVID-19 is being, or will be, taken into account when making decisions that affect access to such products, such as setting prices.” Similar resolutions were also filed at Eli Lilly, Gilead, Merck, and Regeneron. Both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson filed “no action requests” with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in December, asking the agency to rule that the companies can withhold the proposals from shareholders.

In nearly identical filings prepared by the same lawyer, both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson argued that the proposals attempt to “micromanage” the companies “by requesting an intricately detailed report.” Meg Jones-Monteiro, ICCR’s health equity director, called the micromanaging claim “ludicrous.” The claim that investors are trying to “micromanage” the companies comes from an SEC precedent finding that certain “ordinary business operations” should not be subject to shareholder oversight. But Jones-Monteiro argues that the issue of vaccine pricing during pandemics doesn’t fall into this category.

“Anything related to drug pricing has been established as a social policy issue,” Jones-Monteiro told The Daily Poster, meaning it isn’t just ordinary business that doesn’t need any shareholder oversight. She noted that the proposals don’t ask about ordinary pricing decisions or ask for intricate details about pricing algorithms. “We are asking very generally: did you take government funding into account? And how did you take it into account?” Oxfam, an ICCR member who filed the proposed resolution with Johnson & Johnson, wrote in a supporting statement that “JNJ stated publicly that it will distribute a COVID-19 vaccine on a “nonprofit” basis,” adding: “JNJ has not clarified what ‘nonprofit’ means when the government funds a significant portion of the research and development cost.”

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Pretty bad.

The Brazil Variant Is Exposing the World’s Vulnerability (Atl.)

Even in a year of horrendous suffering, what is unfolding in Brazil stands out. In the rainforest city of Manaus, home to 2 million people, bodies are reportedly being dropped into mass graves as quickly as they can be dug. Hospitals have run out of oxygen, and people with potentially treatable cases of COVID-19 are dying of asphyxia. This nature and scale of mortality have not been seen since the first months of the pandemic. This is happening in a very unlikely place. Manaus saw a devastating outbreak last April that similarly overwhelmed systems, infecting the majority of the city. Because the morbidity was so ubiquitous, many scientists believed the population had since developed a high level of immunity that would preclude another devastating wave of infection.

On the whole, Brazil has already reported the second-highest death toll in the world (though half that of the United States). As the country headed into summer, the worst was thought to be behind it. Data seemed to support the idea that herd immunity in Manaus was near. In Science this month, researchers mapped the virus’s takeover last year: In April, blood tests found that 4.8 percent of the city’s population had antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. By June, the number was up to 52.5 percent. Since people who get infected do not always test positive for antibodies, the researchers estimated that by June about two-thirds of the city had been infected. By November, the estimate was about 76 percent. In The Lancet this week, a team of Brazilian researchers noted that even if these estimates were off by a large margin, infection on this scale “should confer important population immunity to avoid a larger outbreak.”

Indeed, it seemed to. The city was able to largely reopen and remain open throughout its winter with low levels of COVID-19 cases. Yet now, the nightmare scenario is happening a second time. The situation defies expert expectations about how immunity would help protect the hardest-hit populations. By estimates of leading infectious-disease specialists, such as Anthony Fauci, when roughly 70 to 75 percent of the population is immune, there can still be clusters of cases, but sustaining a large-scale outbreak becomes mathematically impossible. Still somehow, according to The Washington Post, hospitals in Manaus that had thought they were well prepared are now overwhelmed.

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What a clown.

Fauci 180º: Double Masking For Covid-19 Doesn’t ‘Make A Difference’ (JTN)

First he said don’t wear a mask. Then he said wear a mask. Then he said wear two masks. Then he said just wear one mask. Keeping up with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s mask-wearing recommendations is getting tough. Back in March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was emerging, Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, said, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.” “When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is,” the doctor said on CBS News. Of course, we didn’t know much back then, and how to slow the spread has since evolved.

Soon after Fauci made his comments, experts – including those in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention – said Americans should wear masks, citing estimates that 40% or more of those infected were asymptomatic but could still spread the virus. “We were not aware that 40% to 45% of people were asymptomatic, nor were we aware that a substantial proportion of people who get infected get infected from people who are without symptoms. That makes it overwhelmingly important for everyone to wear a mask,” Fauci said in September, noting that “the data now are very, very clear.”

Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who served on President Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force and is now President Biden’s chief medical adviser on COVID-19, said last month that wearing two masks is likely more effective than wearing one. “If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on it, just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” Fauci told NBC News. Then over the weekend, Fauci said: “There are many people who feel, you know, if you want to have an extra little bit of protection, maybe I should put two masks on. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s no data that indicates that that is going to make a difference and that’s the reason why the CDC has not changed the recommendation.”

Read more …

HCQ research has been dead since April, thanks to the Lancet. That’s also when the vaccine trials started.

Oversight Board Reverses Facebook Removal Of HCQ Post (JTN)

Facebook’s independent Oversight Board has reversed the social media platform’s decision to remove an October 2020 post pertaining to the drug hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19. “In October 2020, a user posted a video and accompanying text in French in a public Facebook group related to COVID-19,” the board explained on its website. “The post alleged a scandal at the Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament (the French agency responsible for regulating health products), which refused to authorize hydroxychloroquine combined with azithromycin for use against COVID-19, but authorized and promoted remdesivir. The user criticized the lack of a health strategy in France and stated that “[Didier] Raoult’s cure” is being used elsewhere to save lives.

“The user’s post also questioned what society had to lose by allowing doctors to prescribe in an emergency a “harmless drug” when the first symptoms of COVID-19 appear.” While the person’s post pushed back against a government policy, it did not urge people to obtain or take medicine without a prescription, the board noted. “[The] user was opposing a governmental policy and aimed to change that policy,” the board said in explaining its ruling. “The combination of medicines that the post claims constitute a cure are not available without a prescription in France and the content does not encourage people to buy or take drugs without a prescription. Considering these and other contextual factors, the Board noted that Facebook had not demonstrated the post would rise to the level of imminent harm, as required by its own rule in the Community Standards.”

Facebook also failed to show why it did not opt for a less severe remedy than removing the post from the platform, the panel found. “Given that Facebook has a range of tools to deal with misinformation, such as providing users with additional context, the company failed to demonstrate why it did not choose a less intrusive option than removing the content,” the board explained. The board also determined that the social media giant’s misinformation and imminent harm rule is too vague and recommended that the platform consolidate and clarify its standards on health misinformation in one place.

“The Board also found Facebook’s misinformation and imminent harm rule, which this post is said to have violated, to be inappropriately vague and inconsistent with international human rights standards,” the panel said. “A patchwork of policies found on different parts of Facebook’s website make it difficult for users to understand what content is prohibited. Changes to Facebook’s COVID-19 policies announced in the company’s Newsroom have not always been reflected in its Community Standards, while some of these changes even appear to contradict them.”

Read more …

“It looks like they mean bidness.”

The Game is On (Jim Kunstler)

It’s been fifty years since precious metals enjoyed any official peg with the US dollar, but for five thousand years previously gold and silver were money itself and paper currencies became mere representations of that money. That relationship ended in 1971 when President Nixon closed the “window” that allowed foreign countries to redeem gold in exchange for dollars they accumulated from the commercial trade of goods — and, our dollar being the world’s supreme reserve currency, the rest of the world’s currencies followed.

Despite all efforts since then by banking authorities to denigrate the value and the role of gold and silver in financial affairs, the “barbarous relics” retained a persistent influence in men’s minds because of their intrinsic qualities. These were: the vested energy they represented from mining and refining, their physical durability, portability, and divisibility, their freedom from counterparty obligations, and, especially in modern times, their vital usefulness in electronics and other industrial applications. The latter quality is greatly reinforced by the powerful wish to transition from a fossil fuel economy to an alt-energy economy of solar cells and wind turbines — a wish that probably won’t come true.

And so, as promised by the subreddit vigilantes, the silver price was up around $3 or ten percent in overnight trading going into the week’s Monday open. It looks like they mean bidness. And that could mean many things. The most obvious is a very conscious effort to punish the high hats of Wall Street for years of lawless game-playing that made them ultra-rich and left everybody else in the country impoverished. Some of the vigilantes frankly express the desire to wreck the degenerate banking system altogether, a great purge of evil to restore something like God-fearing accountability, moving toward a fresh and honest re-start of markets and banking. I’m not convinced that we would get any such orderly re-start in the sense that global banking could be reconstructed along pre-2020 lines.

Rather, wrecking the banks in a daisy-chain of shattered obligations would be an express ticket to the Palookaville of neo-medievalism I’ve been warning about, and probably in a sharp, disorderly, violent, and deadly episode of losing everything that has made us civilized. In any case, the country has already prepped itself for some kind of spectacular failure with all the social mind-fuckery of the past four years that eventuated with the empty shell of Joe Biden in the White House, and millions of his supporters swept into an epic hysteria of manufactured moral outrage over pseudo-realities initiated by academic racketeers and then weaponized by our politicians. But the game is on, whether you like it or not. This may be a last opportunity to get your minds right before you lose your country and your future.

Read more …

There are hundreds of them.

Figures Tied To Past Controversies Increasingly Land Jobs On Team Biden (JTN)

Jake Sullivan was one of the most prolific users of Hillary Clinton’s forbidden email server. Now he’s Joe Biden’s national security adviser. Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland previously had ties to Christopher Steele in the Russia scandal. White House domestic adviser Susan Rice once falsely declared the Benghazi terror attack was provoked by an anti-Muslim video and later wrote the famously curious did-it-by-the-books email in the Russia scandal during her last minutes in he Obama administration. And top Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement official Melissa Hodgman is married to Peter Strzok, the fired FBI agent who supervised the discredited Crossfire Hurricane probe into Russia-Trump collusion. As Biden fills out his team, the list of people tied to past scandals and controversy keeps getting bigger.


And the pattern has some prominent Republicans taking note. “If you look at the larger picture, the Russia hoaxers, the people that were pushing this out from the very beginning and lying about it after the fact, they’re all at the top echelons of the Biden administration,” former House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Sunday. During an appearance on Fox News’ Sunday show hosted by Maria Bartiromo, Nunes took issue with Hodgman’s appointment as acting chief of the SEC enforcement division, saying while she “could be a great public servant,” it created the appearance of a Democratic payback to her husband for pursuing Trump. “Looks like Peter Strozk is actually going to get reimbursed for all of his troubles,” Nunes said. “The guy lost his job, but nothing’s happened to him at this point.”

Read more …

Incompetence as a strategic move.

Why You Haven’t Seen A Sit-Down Biden Interview Yet (Pol.)

Joe Biden waited nearly four decades to become the most powerful man in the free world. Now that he is, he’s making himself scarce. Biden is leaning on doctors and health experts to publicly detail his Covid policy. He’s relying on his Cabinet, economic advisers and other high-ranking administration officials to help sell his nearly $2 trillion rescue package. Biden’s press team, meanwhile, is standing in for their boss by blanketing TV programs with pledges to tell the truth even when it’s inconvenient. It’s one of the more arresting shifts after four years of a president who delighted in torturing the media with sudden pronouncements that often surprised and befuddled his own advisers.

“He trusts them, and Americans will trust experts,” John Anzalone, a top Biden adviser and campaign pollster, said of the president’s approach to his team. “Plus,” he added, “Biden is dealing with multiple crises and is a good delegator.” White House aides describe the strategy not so much as delegation but as an concerted effort to restore confidence with a public battered by the contradictory messaging and scorched-earth politics of the Trump years. In just over a week, the White House has booked 80 TV and radio interviews with 20 senior administration officials, members of the Covid-19 response team and Cabinet secretary designates. They’ve had officials on each major network, booking them on every Sunday show in the first week.

And they worked with CNN to have three of the doctors in charge of its Covid-19 response take questions from the public during a coronavirus town hall, said Mariel Sáez, the White House director of broadcast media. Who’s not been booked for any sit-down interviews: Biden. But the president hasn’t exactly been absent either. He appeared for brief ceremonies where he signed executive orders and delivered mostly scripted remarks. He’s taken a handful of questions from the news media. And he’s expected to give a major foreign policy address on Monday amid a planned trip to the State Department, his first visit to a Cabinet agency.

As main protagonists go, Biden’s role has been comparatively limited — a startling contrast to the omnipresent president who preceded him. Donald Trump didn’t so much love the spotlight as he sought to totally consume it. Whether he was sending Twitter screeds at all hours or shouting answers over the ear-splitting blades of his presidential aircraft, Trump craved media attention like no American leader before him.

Read more …

Who built the cages?

Hundreds Deported Under Biden, Including Witness To Massacre (AP)

President Joe Biden’s administration has deported hundreds of immigrants in its early days despite his campaign pledge to stop removing most people in the U.S. illegally at the beginning of his term. A federal judge last week ordered the Biden administration not to enforce a 100-day moratorium on deportations, but the ruling did not require the government to schedule them. In recent days, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported immigrants to at least three countries: 15 people to Jamaica on Thursday and 269 people to Guatemala and Honduras on Friday. More deportation flights were scheduled Monday.

It’s unclear how many of those people are considered national security or public safety threats or had recently crossed the border illegally, the priority under new guidance that the Department of Homeland Security issued to enforcement agencies and that took effect Monday. Some of the people put on the flights may have been expelled — which is a quicker process than deportation — under a public health order that former President Donald Trump invoked during the coronavirus pandemic and that Biden has kept in place. In the border city of El Paso, Texas, immigration authorities on Friday deported a woman who witnessed the 2019 massacre at a Walmart that left 22 people dead.

She had agreed to be a witness against the gunman and has met with the local district attorney’s office, according to her lawyers. Rosa was pulled over Wednesday for a broken brake light, detained based on previous traffic warrants, then transferred to ICE, which deported her before she could reach her attorney, said Melissa Lopez, executive director of the nonprofit Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, which represents her.

Read more …

They want him off the map.

Biden Considers Revoking Trump’s Rights To Be Briefed On Secrets (DM)

The Biden administration is reviewing whether to take away the ability of former President Donald Trump to receive classified security briefings as the former president in the wake of the Capitol riot.White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki punted on the question when asked about a topic that also came up during the transition – but also confirmed Monday the administration was reviewing the matter. ‘This is a good question,’ said Psaki. ‘It’s something that’s obviously under review.’ The review comes as Trump critics demand he be forced to relinquish some of the perks of power that follow a president even after he leaves office. Former presidents get classified briefings by tradition – although not at the very highest levels reserved for the current officeholder.

In Trump’s case, the briefings would go to a former president who failed to attend the inauguration and spent months claiming that he had ‘won.’ Trump’s statement on his impeachment legal team over the weekend referred to him as the ’45th president of the United States.’ Trump has a small staff that has been running out of Mar-a-Lago. Former presidents get a substantial office stipend, and Secret Service protection costing up to $1 million per year. Even Trump’s adult children are getting Secret Service protection for the next six months, ABC News reported this month. If the Senate were to convict Trump of ‘incitement of insurrection’ following his impeachment trial, it could also vote to strip him of his ability to hold future office. It is unclear what current perks, if any, would go away if he were convicted.

Trump caused an uproar during his 2017 meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and former ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak after it was reported he revealed highly classified information about ISIS in Syria to the U.S. adversary. He gave up highly sensitive information from a U.S. ally, reported to be Israel, that resulted in the U.S. having to extract a top-level source inside the Russian government. Trump also once tweeted out what appeared to be a classified photo of an Iranian nuclear installation. Trump said he had the power to declassify material. All that preceded the Capitol riots, which followed Trump telling his supporters to ‘fight’ on the day Congress was counting the Electoral College vote.

Read more …

“Green” has more than one meaning. It’s what the Paris accord is based on.

Kerry Gifts Wall Street the Green New Deal (Pettifor)

Last week the Biden team delivered their first press conference on the Democrat’s much-anticipated Climate Plan. The good news is that Climate Envoy, John Kerry and Advisor, Gina McCarthy are talking about the Climate Plan delivering “Good paying Union Jobs”. All hail to that ambition. The bad news is that this ain’t no Rooseveltian New Deal. Roosevelt confronted Wall St from the get go. His administration systematically drained the Street of power, and made it servant to the economy and ecosystem. Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary could rightly boast: “We moved the financial capital from London and Wall Street right to my desk at the Treasury. (Rauchway, 2017, p. 227)”

John Kerry on behalf of President Biden did the reverse. With breath-taking haste he genuflected to Wall St. by paying homage to the CEO of Blackrock, and then implied the mighty United States government was dependent on Wall St titans to deliver those “Good paying Union Jobs”. Kerry began the press conference by welcoming CEO Larry Fink’s recent letter and “the new awareness among asset managers about the need to be putting resources into this endeavour.” Remember readers, that Larry Fink presides over assets valued at $8.6 trillion. Blackrock’s clients include pension funds, insurance companies, charities, endowment funds and central banks. Tucked into that basket are your pensions, your insurance, your charitable donations – and your taxpayer-backed central bank.

And just this weekend, Gillian Tett of the Financial Times reminded us, in an article titled – Wall St.’s New Mantra: Green is Good – that Blackrock “Exploded in size and power this century by amassing exchange traded funds and “passive’ strategies that automatically track mainstream indices, such as the S&P 500 – which include fossil fuels… to which Blackrock is heavily exposed…” In other words, this private company uses the world’s savings to make massive capital gains from ‘passive’ almost effortless investment strategies. Worse they use their power to accelerate the climate crisis by investing “heavily” in fossil fuels. All that is bad enough. But Blackrock is able to amass their vast, global power because economists and politicians (including ‘the Left’ of the political spectrum) have conceded that power to them.

John Kerry is our witness. After paying homage to CEO Fink, Kerry placed the United States government in the role of humble supplicant – and effectively begged Wall St. to come to the rescue of the Biden Climate Plan. He could not have addressed the Street more plainly: “What the financiers, the big banks, the asset managers, private investors, venture capital, are all discovering is that there is a lot of money to be made in the jobs to be created in these sectors…” Gina McCarthy, National Climate Advisor, drove home the point: “The question won’t be, will the private sector buy into it? The private sector is going to drive it…”

Read more …

“Twitter has silenced JCN and the 30 million small business owners it represents..”

Twitter Suspends Account of Group That Called For Regulating Big Tech (JTN)

Twitter has suspended the account of the Job Creators Network, a nonpartisan group that advocates for small businesses and policies that protect Main Street jobs. According to the group, the social media giant sent them a message late last week saying JCN had violated Twitter’s “rules against platform manipulation and spam.” Company President and CEO Alfredo Ortiz rejects that claim, saying the deplatforming effort is retaliation against JCN for implying that Twitter should be regulated as a utility. “Twitter has silenced JCN and the 30 million small business owners it represents after JCN implied that the tech giant should be regulated as a utility,” Ortiz said in a statement. “Given that JCN’s internal review demonstrates we did not violate Twitter’s terms and conditions, the tech giant’s bold move is likely pure retaliation against us for our position on tech regulations.”


Twitter on Monday did not respond immediately to several attempts to contact the company to learn why JCN, which advocates for lower taxes and progressive policies, had been removed from the site. Last month, Ortiz wrote an op-ed published by RealClearPolitics titled, “Big Tech’s Conservative Purge Changes the Free Speech Debate.” JCN Chief Communications Officer Elaine Parker on Monday told the “John Solomon Reports” podcast the op-ed argued for Washington to begin regulating social media platforms and other tech giants as utilities. “The reason behind that is because it would it would preclude them from excluding services based on political beliefs and ideology,” Parker told host John Solomon. “I mean, when when you’re getting your phone service through AT&T, they don’t care who you vote for, or who you support or what your political background is. They just want to sell you a service … right?”

Read more …

 

 

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“It is my great hope someday, to see science and decision makers rediscover what the ancients have always known. Namely that our highest currency is respect.”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb

 

 

“Strap yourself to a tree with roots.”
– Bob Dylan

 

 

This So Real

 

 

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Jan 152021
 
 January 15, 2021  Posted by at 4:56 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  25 Responses »


Salvador Dalí The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus 1959

 

 

And just like that, Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg belatedly found they had fallen on their own swords, as these were already sticking out of their backs. Let’s see it as poetic justice. They thought they had the power- after all, they’re just private companies!- to restrict Donald Trump’s access to their organizations, and then ban him altogether, only to find that they themselves will now be restricted and perhaps even banned as a result.

They figured since most of the world doesn’t like Trump, it would applaud the moves as much as the US Democratic party does. But most of the world doesn’t. What it sees, what its leaders see, is a threat to everyone else’s freedom of speech, not just Trump’s. Those countries and their leaders have been suspicious of the might of US tech companies for longer, and they will now look elsewhere for social media functionality. It’s no accident that Facebook alone lost some $47 billion in market cap since the Trump ban.

This does not come from Trump supporters. Angela Merkel, not a Trump fun at all, summarizes the worries: “Her spokesman said Monday the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law.” That’s it right there, the heart of the matter: “law”. Twitter and Facebook act as judge, jury and henchman, and that is not legal, not even for private companies.

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Facebook of all places (love the irony): “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not.” “There can be no consent to censorship.” Poland is drafting legislation which would make it illegal for social media companies to remove posts that did not break Polish law. “Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland.”

While Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said: “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.” “How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” AMLO is actively seeking a coalation of countries in the world to counter social media’s recent policies.

It’s quite something that Dorsey and Zuckerberg were/are blind to this. That they were apparently thinking in “American terms” only when banning Trump, and given political sentiments thought they could get away with it, but did not see the broader international implications. Their shareholders will not appreciate that blind spot. The US is not their only market.

 

The first things that will happen now is that the EU will look at measures to curtail social media’s freedoms in its territory. This is not an obvious matter, many of its countries – see Poland’s example- will claim they have their own laws and standards, and they often do, but, if only for internal EU political reasons, that won’t stick.

Social media are important platforms in politics these days. In EU elections, national parties form coalitions with each other, and these then form bigger coalitions (blocs). A candidate for the European Parliament could potentially be banned in one country, while one from another country, but belonging to the same party or bloc, would not. That can’t be, it’s too messy even by EU standards, so legislation will have to be pan-EU.

The funniest thing that might come of this is Facebook and Twitter re-opening Trump’s accounts to appease Merkel et al, but it’s too late. There are plenty EU companies more than eager to fill the void that Silicon Valley would leave behind (or they can order Chinese). And Jack and Mark will not win the world’s trust back in time, they stepped over the line.

Replacing Facebook won’t happen overnight. But if access to it is cut in large parts of the world, it could happen faster than you think. As for Twitter and WhatsApp, oh well, dime a dozen. They can kill Parler, but already large numbers of people are switching over to Signal and Telegram. Can’t kill ’em all, @jack.

Talking of which, did you see the Project Veritas video secretly made by a Twitter employee? This is exactly why Twitter will be restricted and banned. @jack threatening to give many other people the same treatment as Trump is a scary sight for many people across the world, politicians or citizens. You know who’s next? You are next.

 

 

@jack Veritas

 

 

Plenty politicians want to ban people from all manner of things, but they want to be the ones doing the banning, not @jack. But as Merkel observes, banning someone with no basis whatsoever in law is not what anyone should want. In the end, refusing someone access to social media turns into the same thing as refusing them access to a computer. Or, maybe an even better example, to a phone. Things like that happen very rarely, and never to a President of the United States. Ma Bell, Baby Bells, AT&T, maybe that’s the future of Facebook and Twitter. If they’re lucky.

And while we’re at it, we haven’t even mentioned Google yet. Let’s turn them into baby-Googles too. Because the biggest threat that Silicon Valley poses is not that they ban Trump and actively tried to influence a US presidential election (remember Zuckerberg’s $500 million election fund)?

No, the biggest threat is their algorithms used to spy on you and me to “optimize” us as victims clients for their advertizers. That’s why this is not just about Facebook and Twitter, but certainly also about Google. These are virtual monopolies we’re talking about. And while you’re at it, add Apple and Amazon. It’s their ties to intelligence services that make these companies the most threatening. In the US, this is too far advanced to stop now. But in Europe, there may still be a chance.

This is a big fight when it comes to liberty and personal space. And if you don’t fight it now, you’ve already lost. Pay attention please.

 

 

 

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Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

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Jan 152021
 
 January 15, 2021  Posted by at 10:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


Salvador Dalí Living still life 1956

 

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)
Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)
After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)
Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)
Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)
Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)
Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)
Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)
Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)
Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)
Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)
ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)
Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

 

 

I can’t unsee this picture. This is not the only one that has the same angle. The photographer knew what he was doing, and moved till he had it just right.

 

 

 

 

Special Russiagate Counsel needed.

Trump Declassifying Trove Of FBI Memos Exposing Steele’s Motivations (JTN)

Delivering in his final days on one of his last unfulfilled promises, President Trump is declassifying a massive trove of FBI documents showing the Russia collusion story was leaked in the final weeks of the 2016 election in an effort to counteract Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. The memos to be released as early as Friday include FBI interviews and human source evaluation reports for two of the main informants in the Russia case, former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and academic Stefan Halper. The president authorized the release of a foot-high stack of internal FBI and DOJ documents that detail significant flaws in the investigation and provide a detailed timeline of when the FBI first realized the Steele dossier was problematic, multiple government officials told Just the News.

Among the bombshell revelations is an admission by Steele that he violated his confidential human source agreement with the FBI and leaked information from his dossier to the news media in the final weeks of the election because he wanted to counteract new revelations in the Hillary Clinton email scandal that were hurting her election efforts. The former foreign intelligence officer made the confession in a fall 2017 interview with agents. Steele, who was hired by Clinton’s campaign law firm to compile anti-Trump dossiers attempting to link Trump to Russian influence, told agents he had two clients at the time — Clinton and the FBI — and chose the interests of the Democratic candidate over the bureau in leaking.

Steele told the bureau that then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the Clinton email probe in fall 2016 triggered him to leak his dossier details in what he described as a taking-the-gloves-off moment. The FBI interview summary makes clear that Steele, a British citizen, was allegiant to Clinton, did not like Trump and believed a Trump presidency would be negative for his homeland and thus made a decision to meddle in the U.S. election by leaking information to the news media. The leaks, which led to Steele’s termination as an FBI informant, have been known for more than a year, but his motivation for leaking was hidden in the classified documents. His admission that the Russia collusion narrative, later debunked by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was injected into the public as a means of counteracting Clinton’s email scandal corroborates other information obtained by the CIA.

The soon-to-be-released records also expose a tantalizing connection between Steele, his primary source and one of the Democrats’ key impeachment witnesses in the Ukraine scandal, former Trump National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill. Steele divulged to the FBI that he was introduced by Hill to his primary sub-source of information for his anti-Trump dossier and that he later told Hill that the source had provided information for his now infamous memos. [..] The documents also will settle a long-debated question in Washington about whether the FBI’s tactics amounted to spying on the Trump campaign. Tasking instructions the FBI gave to Halper, an academic who long worked as an FBI informant, make clear he was instructed to infiltrate the Trump campaign by posing as someone who wanted to work for the GOP nominee and then targeting campaign advisers to find out what they knew about Trump or his campaign’s ties to Russia.

Solomon

Read more …

“These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years.”

Trump Declassifies ‘Foot-High’ Stack Of Russiagate, Obamagate Documents (ZH)

President Trump has declassified and authorized the release of “more than a foot-high stack of documents” related to the Obama administration’s surveillance and espionage committed against the 2016 Trump campaign, as part of a larger campaign to discredit and undermine the incoming US president. According to journalist and Trump insider John Solomon, the documents would be released as soon as Friday, but no later than Monday. “He has delivered in a big way. More than a foot-high stack of documents he has authorized to be released by the FBI and the DOJ. These are the things that the FBI has tried to keep from the public for 4 years. They have amazing, big picture revelations,” Solomon told Fox News’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” According to Solomon’s website, Just The News, the release will support claims that the entire Russia narrative was created and leaked to the news media to upstage concerns over Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

Read more …

Dorsey and Zuckerberg have hugely overestimated their powers. Their investors will be very unhappy.

After Trump Bans, Facebook, Twitter See Combined $51 Billion In Losses (JTN)

Facebook and Twitter have lost a combined $51 billion in market cap following their bans of President Donald Trump last week as investors balked at the tech giants’ surprise censorship of Trump roughly two weeks before his term was set to end. Facebook bore the overwhelming brunt of the market plunge, according to Business Insider, seeing gargantuan losses of $47.6 billion following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Trump would remain suspended from the social media platform “indefinitely,” until at least after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.


Twitter, meanwhile, saw its market cap plunge by $3.5 billion after it permanently suspended Trump from its servers due to claims that the president was inciting violence among his supporters with his posts. In the week since the bans were announced, users have reportedly been flocking to alternative social media sites, ones that have touted a commitment to censorship-free services in contrast to the heavier hands of the mainstream social media platforms.

@jack Veritas

Read more …

People will contend this is just the Mexican president, and AP even tries to paint him off as a Trump sympathizer. But this is a global issue. Twitter and Facebook will soon be subject to strong regulations, or they will be banned from many countries.

“..the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law.”

Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans (AP)

Mexico’s president vowed Thursday to lead an international effort to combat what he considers censorship by social media companies that have blocked or suspended the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration is reaching out to other government to form a common front on the issue. “I can tell you that at the first G20 meeting we have, I am going to make a proposal on this issue,” López Obrador said. “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.” “How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” he asked. Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico is starting to build an international campaign around the issue.


“Given that Mexico, through our president, has spoken out, we immediately made contact with others who think the same,” Ebrard said, noting they had heard from officials in France, Germany, the European Union, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. “The president’s orders are to make contact with all of them, share this concern and work on coming up with a joint proposal,” Ebrard said. “We will see what is proposed.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among those who have publicly criticized the action against Trump. Her spokesman said Monday the German leader found it “problematic” that corporate managers could deny someone access under rules not defined by law. Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, later called for new regulations that would govern the use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the European Union.

Tucker @jack

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“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland..”

Poland Plans To Make Censoring Of Social Media Accounts Illegal (G.)

Polish government officials have denounced the deactivation of Donald Trump’s social media accounts, and said a draft law being readied in Poland will make it illegal for tech companies to take similar actions there. “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not,” wrote the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, on Facebook earlier this week, without directly mentioning Trump. “There can be no consent to censorship.” Morawiecki indirectly compared social media companies taking decisions to remove accounts with Poland’s experience during the communist era. “Censorship of free speech, which is the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now returning in the form of a new, commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently,” he wrote.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which is ideologically aligned with Trump on many issues, has itself been accused of trying to limit freedom of speech in recent years. Some of its members have made a habit of posting anti-LGBT or anti-refugee rhetoric. However, government officials have long claimed that people with rightwing views in Poland and abroad have been the victims of biased decisions by international tech companies. Sebastian Kaleta, secretary of state at Poland’s Ministry of Justice, said Facebook’s decision to remove Trump’s account was hypocritical, politically motivated and “amounts to censorship”. He said the draft law prepared by the justice ministry would make it illegal for social media companies to remove posts that did not break Polish law.

“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland,” Kaleta told Rzeczpospolita newspaper. In recent years, Facebook has moved to block content from far-right Polish organisations and politicians on numerous occasions. The MP Janusz Korwin-Mikke, aligned with the Konfederacja party, was in November shut out of his account, which had 780,000 followers, for what Facebook called repeated violations of community standards. Korwin-Mikke accused Facebook of being run by “fascists and Bolsheviks”.

Under the provisions of the Polish draft law, users would be able to file a court petition to force social media companies to restore removed content if they believed it did not violate Polish law. The court would rule within seven days and the process would be fully electronic. Morawiecki called on the EU to introduce similar regulations. Other European politicians, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, have also expressed unease at the ban on Trump by various social media outlets, and a new EU proposal, the Digital Services Act, envisions tougher regulations on tech companies, including tough fines for failure to block illegal content.

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Just an experiment…

Google Refuses To Answer Questions About Removing Australian News Sites (G.)

Google has refused to answer questions on its secret trial of removing news sites from search results in Australia, with the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, saying the company should focus on paying for news, not blocking it. Google blindsided news consumers and media outlets this week with a trial that removed Australian media outlets such as the ABC, Nine, the Guardian and others from its search results. Users were not informed of the change, or advised how to find news articles when searching, with some reporting they initially believed it was an issue only affecting them.


People affected by the trial can get around the block by searching in a private browser window, such as in incognito mode in Google Chrome. The move by Google came as a Senate committee is reviewing legislation that would force Google and Facebook to negotiate with Australian news media companies for a fair price for displaying local news content. Google has argued strongly against the code since it was first announced last year, by alerting users to the proposed changes in search and in Google Chrome.

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Joe Lauria goes through the law chapter by chapter. Excellent read.

Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Silence Him (Lauria)

The Congressional Republicans who challenged the electoral college results last Wednesday are guilty of one transgression: wasting Congress’ time. There was no way the electoral college votes would be overturned. However those Republicans were completely within their rights to challenge the results and spur debate and a vote in both chambers. To suggest that that Constitutional right constituted incitement or support for the riot is extraordinary overreach. There have been Democratic calls for these Republicans to be unseated and even investigated for possible prosecution. During the impeachment debate on Wednesday, Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler said the rioters’ “accomplices in this House will be held to account.” Numerous corporate donors have said they will no longer contribute to these Republicans’ campaigns.

There is even wild speculation by some Democrats that some Republican members gave Capitol “reconnaissance” tours to the rioters the night before. The New York Times posted photos of all Republican members who challenged the electoral college votes as if they were on a wanted poster. Republican Congressman Jim Jordan in the impeachment debate pointed out that more Democrats in Congress objected to more states’ electoral college results in 2017’s certification than had Republicans last Wednesday. A Republican member responded that Hillary Clinton had conceded, unlike Trump, and that the objections were based on “Russian interference” in that election. He accused the Republicans, with a straight face, of engaging in “conspiracy theories” about a stolen 2020 election.

Such Democratic hypocrisy was underscored on 60 Minutes Sunday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous.” But is he any more “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous” than Democrats who joined Republicans to vote in 2003 to invade and occupy a nation that posed no threat to the United States? How would one describe Pelosi’s response in 2019 when asked why she opposed impeaching George W. Bush for that invasion, a crime of “aggression,” the worst war crime according to the Nuremberg Tribunal? Because of that invasion Bush was still a far worse and more dangerous president than even Trump.

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“..the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.”

Impeachment Is More Dangerous Than Trump (Tracey)

The most apt parallel for the second impeachment of Donald Trump may not be any other of the three previous presidential impeachments, including his own just over a year ago. It may instead be the PATRIOT Act, which was passed in the heated emotional aftermath of the September 11 attacks, with negligible debate afforded to the long-term implications of what Congress was enacting. Reason and deliberation had given way to a collective desire for security and revenge, and thus the most sweeping curtailment of civil liberties in the modern historical record was approved. Those who departed from the swiftly assembled consensus could expect to be denounced as sympathisers to terrorists.

Likewise, if you deign to raise concerns about the implications of this sudden impeachment sequel — or any of the other extraordinary actions taken in the past week, such as an ongoing corporate censorship purge of unprecedented proportions — you can expect to be accused of defending or supporting the “domestic terrorists” who carried out the mob attack on the Capitol. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, rationalised rushing through Wednesday’s impeachment resolution at spell-binding speed — by far the fastest impeachment process ever — on the grounds that Trump posed a “clear and present danger” to the country, and needed to be removed immediately. “Imminent threats” of various stripes also have a long history of being cited to justify sweeping emergency action, such as the invasion of Iraq. Often upon further inspection, the purported “threat” turns out to have been not so “imminent”, or in fact to have never existed at all.

But as rushed as the impeachment was, if the purported emergency conditions were truly so dire as Pelosi maintained, she could have theoretically summoned the House to convene the day after the mob attack and impeach Trump right away. Congress convened the very next day after the attack on Pearl Harbor to declare war on Japan, for example. Instead, Pelosi waited a full week, and gave everyone the weekend off in the interim. Trump, alleged to be in the process of orchestrating a violent “coup”, was allowed to remain in office unimpeded with access to the nuclear codes for seven days. Nonetheless, with a total of two hours of perfunctory debate — and no hearings, fact-finding or meditation on the relevant Constitutional Law considerations — Trump was impeached for the second time. As such, the text of the impeachment article will now be permanently embedded in the fabric of American governance.

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Both sides say Jake Sullivan belongs to the other side.

Liberal Activist Arrested, Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot (JTN)

A progressive activist has been arrested and charged with participating in last week’s U.S. Capitol riot a week after he uploaded footage of the event to YouTube. Utah resident and anti-Trump activist John Sullivan told Just the News last week that he had been present at the riot, including inside the Capitol, “specifically [as] a journalist, just to record the events that were going down.” Yet FBI agent Matthew Foulger alleged in an affidavit on Wednesday that, rather than merely act as a journalist during the riots, Sullivan “knowingly and willfully joined a crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol and impeded, disrupted, and disturbed the orderly conduct of business by the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.”


Foulger in the affidavit said that footage taken by Sullivan at the riot shows the activist accompanying and cheering on the rioting crowd by saying things such as “Let’s go. This shit is ours!” and “Let’s burn this shit down.” Sullivan has been arrested and charged pursuant to the incident, Salt Lake City station Fox 13 reported on Thursday evening. The station said the activist has been charged with “rioting and criminal mischief.”

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The details are terrible, the language is terribly polite.

“Corporate nominees are insulting against the backdrop of complete economic destruction that Americans are grappling with in the pandemic.”

Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are A Missed Opportunity For Change (USAT)

As the 2020 Democratic primaries were heating up last year, then-candidate Joe Biden assured his wealthy campaign donors in Manhattan that “nothing would fundamentally change” for their luxurious standard of living under his presidency. Based on the majority of his Cabinet picks, he wasn’t kidding. Biden will maintain a cozy relationship with corporate America by lubricating the hinges of the ever revolving door of politics. Take Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of State, as an example. In 2017, Blinken transitioned out of the Obama administration and founded a consulting firm called WestExec Advisors. The majority of its staffers — 21 out of 38 — personally donated to Biden’s campaign. WestExec co-founder Michele Flournoy alone raised more than $100,000 for the former vice president.

Was Blinken chosen for the job because he’s best suited, or is Biden trading favors based on campaign fundraisers and donations? Sure, Blinken and Biden have worked together in the past, and that could have factored into his decision. But aside from the transparent “favor for a favor” deal-making taking place in plain sight, Blinken’s opaque work at WestExec Advisors could be rife with conflicts of interest. The firm’s website boasts about selling influence to the White House by stating that its name “is derived from ‘West Executive Avenue,’ the closed street that runs between the West Wing of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It is, quite literally, the road to the Situation Room, and it is the road everyone associated with WestExec Advisors has crossed many times en route to meetings of the highest national security consequences.”

While it’s clear that this consulting firm’s services mostly revolve around helping corporate clients and defense contractors win favorable government treatment, little is known about its client list because its staffers aren’t considered lobbyists. They’re labeled strategic advisers, which means they don’t have to disclose whom they’re working for. As The Intercept noted, the Biden team is squandering an opportunity for reform by sticking to conventional nominees like Avril Haines for director of national intelligence. While serving in the CIA under the Obama administration, Haines was an architect of the disastrous drone program that killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Later, Haines worked as a consultant for WestExec Advisors and Palantir — a controversial data mining firm that has provided the Trump administration intel to perform mass deportations.

Janet Yellen, who has been tapped to serve as Treasury secretary, is another example. When Politico reported that Yellen made $7.2 million in the past two years for giving closed-door speeches to Wall Street firms, Biden supporters brushed it off as nothing more than a misogynistic attack. However, there should be an overwhelming consensus that Americans deserve to know about any lucrative ties politicians and government officials have to bankers and hedge funds.

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By now I think she may be out.

Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland? (Benjamin)

Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her because the U.S. corporate media’s foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden’s pick for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia. Nor do they know that from 2003-2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland. Many have even heard the leaked four-minute audio of her saying “Fuck the EU” during a 2014 phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.

During the infamous call on which Nuland and Pyatt plotted to replace the elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, Nuland expressed her not-so-diplomatic disgust with the European Union for grooming former heavyweight boxer and austerity champ Vitali Klitschko instead of U.S. puppet and NATO booklicker Artseniy Yatseniuk to replace Russia-friendly Yanukovych. The “Fuck the EU” call went viral, as an embarrassed State Department, never denying the call’s authenticity, blamed the Russians for tapping the phone, much as the NSA has tapped the phones of European allies. Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Markel, no one fired Nuland, but her potty mouth upstaged the more serious story: the U.S. plot to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government and America’s responsibility for a civil war that has killed at least 13,000 people and left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe.

In the process, Nuland, her husband Robert Kagan, the co-founder of The Project for a New American Century, and their neocon cronies succeeded in sending U.S.-Russian relations into a dangerous downward spiral from which they have yet to recover. Nuland accomplished this from a relatively junior position as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. How much more trouble could she stir up as the #3 official at Biden’s State Department? We’ll find out soon enough, if the Senate confirms her nomination.

Joe Biden should have learned from Obama’s mistakes that appointments like this matter. In his first term, Obama allowed his hawkish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and military and CIA leaders held over from the Bush administration to ensure that endless war trumped his message of hope and change. Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, ended up presiding over indefinite detentions without charges or trials at Guantanamo Bay; an escalation of drone strikes that killed innocent civilians; a deepening of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan; a self-reinforcing cycle of terrorism and counterterrorism; and disastrous new wars in Libya and Syria.

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Central banks will demand control.

ECB’s Lagarde Calls For Regulating Bitcoin’s “Funny Business” (R.)

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde called on Wednesday for global regulation of Bitcoin, saying the digital currency had been used for money laundering activities in some instances and that any loopholes needed to be closed. Bitcoin has come out of its niche in recent years and is now bought by ordinary people, investment funds and even large corporations. Some have even taken out loans to buy more of the cryptocurrency, whose value has increased almost tenfold since last March. But its largely anonymous nature has raised concerns that it could be used for money laundering and other illegal activities.


“(Bitcoin) is a highly speculative asset, which has conducted some funny business and some interesting and totally reprehensible money laundering activity,” Lagarde said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference. Lagarde did not provide specific examples of money laundering cases but said she understood there had been criminal investigations into illegal activity. She did not elaborate. The cryptocurrency sector is still mostly lightly overseen or unregulated, although global standards on areas such as anti-money laundering (AML) have emerged. She joined a number of regulators from across the world in calling for implementing global rules for cryptocurrencies.

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The WaPo tries more smear, but the story is 100% bogus, and they are forced to correct within hours. Meanwhile, it’s been gleefully quoted by a million outlets all over the globe.

This has been the MO for over 4 years now. Question: what can they do next? Turn on Biden? Where’s my clickbait?

Secret Service Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Bathrooms (G.)

The dying days of the Trump administration have been plagued by yet more scandal in the form of riots, Twitter bans and impeachment. Now the Washington Post has added another: water closet gate. In a multi-bylined article one of America’s top investigative news outlets has chronicled in leg-crossing detail the apparently extreme difficulty that the Secret Service detail assigned to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have had in finding a place to go to the bathroom. According to the Washington Post the president’s daughter and her top White House adviser spouse have apparently exiled the squad of men and women assigned to keep them from harm’s way from using the toilets in their sprawling Washington DC mansion.

“Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job,” the paper reported, citing neighbors and law enforcement official. It quoted one law enforcement official as saying: “It’s the first time I ever heard of a Secret Service detail having to go to these extremes to find a bathroom.” It added that Secret Service members in the couple’s detail who were desperate to relieve themselves had resorted to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the homes of Barack Obama and Vice-President Mike Pence.

The solution to the problem was not a cheap one. Since September 2017, the paper reported, the federal government rented the stricken Secret Service members a basement studio with a bathroom for the purposes of them going to the loo. The cost to taxpayers? Some $3,000 a month. A White House spokesperson denied the couple restricted agents from their home. But the Post stuck by its investigative guns, saying: “That account is disputed by a law enforcement official familiar with the situation, who said the agents were kept out at the family’s request.” The Post’s story is unlikely to endear Washington citizens – or indeed many other Americans – to Ivanka Trump and her husband as they leave office after four high-profile years in Donald Trump’s administration.

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Jan 142021
 
 January 14, 2021  Posted by at 10:12 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


Jackson Pollock Male and female 1942

 

House Votes To Impeach Trump For ‘Insurrection’ (RT)
Twitter CEO Defends Banning Trump But Says It Was A “Dangerous” “Failure” (JTN)
Putin Orders Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 With Sputnik V Jab (RT)
Moderna CEO Says The World Will Have To Live With Covid ‘Forever’ (CNBC)
WHO Team Arrives In Wuhan To Investigate Pandemic Origins (AP)
Two NYC Residents Reported To Have UK COVID-19 Variant (AMNY)
EU Leaders Demand “Standardised” Vaccine Passport For Travel (SN)
Polarization, Then a Crash – Michael Hudson (AN)
Biden To Propose Massive $2 Trillion Stimulus (ZH)
Biden Taps Veteran Interventionist Samantha Power to Head USAID (Antiwar)
As Biden Vows To ‘Defeat The NRA,’ Gun Sales Continue To Soar (JTN)
Former Michigan Gov. Snyder Charged For Flint Water Crisis (JTN)
Unemployment Rate Above 20% For Lowest-Paid Workers – Fed’s Brainard (CNBC)
Cancel Yourself (Michael Krieger)
New Zealand City Closes Busy Road For Weeks To Protect Sea Lions (G.)

 

 

 

 

What would need to be proven in a courtroom, does not in Congress.

House Votes To Impeach Trump For ‘Insurrection’ (RT)

Arguing he incited an “armed rebellion” against the US, the Democrat-dominated House has voted to impeach President Donald Trump again. But with his term expiring in a week, it is unclear when the trial will proceed. After several hours of debate on Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to formally impeach the president over the January 6 unrest at the US Capitol, when a group of Trump supporters broke into the building and interrupted the joint session of Congress meeting to certify Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 US presidential election. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Senate will reconvene on an emergency schedule to conduct the trial, however.

Reports in mainstream US media were conflicted, with some outlets citing anonymous sources to claim that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was eager to do so and help the Democrats get rid of Trump. However, McConnell’s spokesman said on Wednesday he would “not consent” to doing so before January 19, putting the trial into Biden’s term as president. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) told CNN on Sunday that the Democrats might even give Biden a hundred days “to get his agenda off and running” before they send the articles to the Senate. The delays and calculations are at odds with rhetoric coming from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and her impeachment managers, who called Trump a danger to the country and urged his immediate removal.

Democrats have even argued that Trump and anyone supporting him ought to be barred from holding any office under the 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War to punish leaders of the Confederacy. “We know that we face the enemies of the Constitution,” Pelosi said on the House floor on Wednesday. “We know we experienced the insurrection that violated the sanctity of the people’s capital – an attempt to overturn the duly recorded will of the American people. And we know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country. He must go.”

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“..those moves “over the long term … will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet.”

Twitter CEO Defends Banning Trump But Says It Was A “Dangerous” “Failure” (JTN)

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday evening composed a 13-tweet-long thread on the social media platform he leads in which he defended the company’s recent permanent ban of President Donald Trump while still claiming that the ban constituted a “dangerous” “failure.” Dorsey, who helped found the microblogging platform in early 2006, said in the thread that, though banning Trump out of fears that he was promoting violence was “the right decision for Twitter,” an account ban nevertheless “has real and significant ramifications.” “While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation,” Dorsey said. “And a time for us to reflect on our operations and the environment around us.”


In addition to fragmenting the public conversation, Dorsey said, such a ban “sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.” Referring to the recent purge of the social media app Parler from multiple digital platforms, Dorsey argued that those moves “over the long term … will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet.” “Everything we learn in this moment will better our effort, and push us to be what we are: one humanity working together,” Dorsey said in the thread.

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“move from large-scale vaccination to mass vaccination.”

Putin Orders Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 With Sputnik V Jab (RT)

President Vladimir Putin has instructed the Russian government to begin rolling out a coronavirus vaccine for the entire population from next week, with more than 1.5 million people having already received the jab.
In a meeting with ministers on Wednesday, Putin said that the time had come to “move from large-scale vaccination to mass vaccination.” He added that the Sputnik V formula, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was “the best in the world.” While comparisons between different vaccines are hard to draw, given the unique circumstances under which they have been developed, he insisted that “no others demonstrate this level of protection and such a degree of safety.”

However, the president expressed concern over the global fight against Covid-19, saying that “we see across the world, unfortunately, that it is not yet possible to strangle this disease, and we cannot prevent all the negative consequences associated with it.” Responding to the new directive, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova reported that the mass immunization program will begin next week, from 18 January. While 1.5 million people in the country have already received their first jab, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which financed Sputnik V, the list of those eligible was still subject to a number of restrictions.

Doctors, teachers, factory workers, municipal officials and those working in finance and the media were initially offered appointments first. However, there was speculation that, in practice, few checks were put in place before people were given their injection. It is still unclear how the mass-immunization program will be administered, and whether all Russians will be offered shots at once, or staggered based on their age group. Putin added that Sputnik V was particularly well-suited to being made available across the entirety of the world’s largest country because “thank God, our vaccine does not require any unusual conditions for transportation,” and can be stored at ordinary refrigerator temperatures.

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A good thing if you’re a vaccine maker?!

Moderna CEO Says The World Will Have To Live With Covid ‘Forever’ (CNBC)

The CEO of Covid-19 vaccine maker Moderna warned Wednesday that the coronavirus that has brought world economies to a standstill and overwhelmed hospitals will be around “forever.” Public health officials and infectious disease experts have said there is a high likelihood that Covid-19 will become an endemic disease, meaning it will become present in communities at all times, though likely at lower levels than it is now. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel appeared to agree Wednesday that Covid-19 will become endemic, saying “SARS-CoV-2 is not going away.” “We are going to live with this virus, we think, forever,” he said during a panel discussion at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference.


Health officials will have to continuously watch for new variants of the virus, so scientists can produce vaccines to fight them, he said. Researchers in Ohio said Wednesday they’ve discovered two new variants likely originating in the U.S. and that one of them quickly became the dominant strain in Columbus, Ohio, over a three-week period in late December and early January. Pfizer researchers said its vaccine developed with BioNTech appeared to be effective against a key mutation in the U.K. strain as well as a variant found in South Africa. Moderna’s vaccine has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for use in Americans who are 18 years old and older. Additional studies still needed to be completed in children, whose immune systems can respond differently to vaccines than those of adults.

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Two have already been refused entry because of positive PCR tests.

WHO Team Arrives In Wuhan To Investigate Pandemic Origins (AP)

A global team of researchers arrived Thursday in the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic was first detected to conduct a politically sensitive investigation into its origins amid uncertainty about whether Beijing might try to prevent embarrassing discoveries. The 10-member team sent to Wuhan by the World Health Organization was approved by President Xi Jinping’s government after months of diplomatic wrangling that prompted an unusual public complaint by the head of the WHO. Scientists suspect the virus that has killed 1.9 million people since late 2019 jumped to humans from bats or other animals, most likely in China’s southwest. The ruling Communist Party, stung by complaints it allowed the disease to spread, says the virus came from abroad, possibly on imported seafood, but scientists reject that.


CGTN, the English-language channel of state broadcaster CCTV, reported the WHO team’s arrival. The members include virus and other experts from the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam. A government spokesman said this week they will “exchange views” with Chinese scientists but gave no indication whether they would be allowed to gather evidence. They will undergo a two-week quarantine as well as a throat swab test and an antibody test for COVID-19, according to a post on CGTN’s official Weibo account. They are to start working with Chinese experts via video conference while in quarantine. China rejected demands for an international investigation after the Trump administration blamed Beijing for the virus’s spread, which plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s.

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In Holland, with 5,000 new cases on Tuesday, a warning yesterday that in February B.1.1.7 could cause 150,000 new cases per day.

Two NYC Residents Reported To Have UK COVID-19 Variant (AMNY)

Two New York City residents, one from Manhattan and the other from Queens, have contracted the mutated COVID-19 strain that was first identified in the United Kingdom—leading to a second nationwide lockdown of the country—Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. Both people were originally diagnosed in late-December using genetic sequencing — a method used to identify the new strain — which returned results “within the last few hours,” according to city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. Over 30 countries have reported cases of a new COVID variant, known as B.1.1.7, first identified in the UK last fall. In response, several countries have shut their doors to travelers from the United Kingdom in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.


Earlier this week, Washington announced that all international travelers will be required show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight starting Jan. 26 in response to the variant’s spread. But on Wednesday, de Blasio said that the measure fell short of what is needed to control the virus and again called for the federal government to issue a travel ban from Britain. “That’s not good enough,” de Blasio told reporters. “Here is proof positive that someone who was in the UK has brought the variant back here. We need that stopped. All flights from the United Kingdom should be canceled immediately by the federal government.” State officials reported the first case of the new variant on Jan. 4. Since then, officials have reported a total of 12 people in New York state have contracted the B.1.1.7.

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“..so called ‘immunity’ passports “pose extremely high risks in terms of social cohesion, discrimination, exclusion and vulnerability.”

EU Leaders Demand “Standardised” Vaccine Passport For Travel (SN)

EU leaders are demanding that the Commission should ‘standardise’ a vaccine passport across all member countries, and that it should be required for people to travel throughout the area. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has penned a letter to EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, outlining that “Persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel.” The letter calls for a “standardised certificate, which will prove that a person has been successfully vaccinated.” While it stops short at advocating mandatory vaccination, the letter further urges that “It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all member states.”

Mitsotakis has pledged to raise the issue during an upcoming EU summit on January 21, declaring that “there is an urgent need for a high-level EU-wide mobilization to move things forward.” Vaccine passports have previously been touted by the EU, with officials suggesting back in April that visa applicants would also be required to be vaccinated. EU countries including Spain, Estonia, Iceland, and Belgium have all indicated that they are open to some form of vaccine passports, as well as sharing the data across borders. This week, it was also revealed that Denmark is the latest country to announce that it is rolling out a ‘Covid passport’, to allow those who have taken the vaccine to engage in society without any restrictions.

However, the EU’s data protection chief Wojciech Wiewiorowski recently labeled the idea of an immunity passport “extreme” and has repeatedly said it is alarming, and ‘disgusting’. The spectre of so called ‘immunity passports’ is looming globally. Having left the EU, Britain would not be part of any standardised European scheme, however it has now confirmed that it is rolling out vaccine passports, despite previous denials that it would do so. Recently, the government in Ontario, Canada admitted that it is exploring ‘immunity passports’ in conjunction with restrictions on travel and access to social venues for the unvaccinated. Last month, Israel announced that citizens who get the COVID-19 vaccine will be given ‘green passports’ that will enable them to attend venues and eat at restaurants.

A litany of other government and travel industry figures in both the US, Britain and beyond have suggested that ‘COVID passports’ are coming in order for ‘life to get back to normal’. Anna Beduschi, an academic from Exeter University, commented on the potential move toward vaccine passports by EU, noting that it “poses essential questions for the protection of data privacy and human rights.” Beduschi added that the vaccine passports may “create a new distinction between individuals based on their health status, which can then be used to determine the degree of freedoms and rights they may enjoy.” A report compiled last year by AI research body the Ada Lovelace Institute said so called ‘immunity’ passports “pose extremely high risks in terms of social cohesion, discrimination, exclusion and vulnerability.” Sam Grant, campaign manager at the civili liberties advocacy group Liberty has warned that “any form of immunity passport risks creating a two-tier system in which some of us have access to freedoms and support while others are shut out.”

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“..the city let the landlords keep all of the gains in land value. And they just raised the income taxes and went into debt to pay for the subway.”

Polarization, Then a Crash – Michael Hudson (AN)

[..] ever since the Bronze Age you had the temples and the palaces providing basic needs. Because if you leave this to the private sector, then you’re going to have a situation where the private supplier has a chokehold on the economy and can say: your money or your life. There are certain things that governments are supposed to supply and which industrial capitalism wanted government to supply. Because they didn’t want employers or their employees to have to pay for them. These are a number of things. Governments obviously have to supply military defense. You can’t leave that private people but also healthcare, for instance. The conservative party in England, Benjamin Disraeli said: health is everything; we have to spend on health.

And you don’t want to, in principle, make money off crime. But in America we’re privatizing the penal system, the jail system. So you have increasing pressure on government, on governors, to arrest people, put them in jail especially on drug use, where you can employ them at 10 cents an hour. And lease them out to companies as low priced labor. But most of all, government is supposed to provide the infrastructure: the transportation, the communication, the telephone system. And the idea is that if you leave like cable TV to private suppliers, they are natural monopolies. The idea throughout history from classical Greece and Rome, medieval times in Europe is that natural monopolies should be in the public domain.

Because you don’t want to provide opportunities for monopoly rent. Because monopoly rent, like land rent and natural resource rent, is not a necessary cost to production. You want the necessary cost of production to be the material costs and normal profit. Because obviously you need people to have some incentive to do things. But the incentive is supposed to be normal profit, not super profits, not just a free lunch. And so if you let transportation become privatized, then it is going to cost the workforce much more money to get to work and to get to a job. If you let the oil industry be privatized and the profits from the natural resource, and that’s the patrimony of mineral rights, oil and gas is all going to go to the private financial sector not to be used as the tax base.

And if you have the land rent, essentially if the government, for instance, in New York City, they spent let’s say a billion dollars on extending the second Avenue subway line up along the wealthy Upper East Side. That increased land values for landlords all by about twice the amount by about $2 billion. Because people now were closer to the subway station, they didn’t have to walk. They had better transport. All of this increase in land prices could have financed the extension of the subway and still been able to lower the subway fares for the rest of new Yorkers. Instead, the city let the landlords keep all of the gains in land value. And they just raised the income taxes and went into debt to pay for the subway.

So, you have a privatization of wealth that is not created by landlords, not created by individuals. Certainly the oil companies don’t create the oil in the ground. And the mining companies don’t create the mineral resources. All of these things are given away freely. The United States lets forestry logging companies and mining companies get whatever they can take from the public domain for free instead of getting the results of this publicly owned land to finance the public budget. Taxes in the United States could be drastically reduced on wages and on profits, if you would just tax the unearned monopoly rent, the economic rent that is not necessary for production.

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How to spook markets.

Biden To Propose Massive $2 Trillion Stimulus (ZH)

Last week, Goldman sparked a buying frenzy in the market (and selling in treasuries) when the bank said it expects the Biden admin would unveil a “modest” $750 billion fiscal stimulus plan, including some $300 billion in “stimmy” checks to Americans. However, as bank after bank tried to upstage Goldman and threw around stimulus estimates as high as $1 trillion or even more, the market barely noticed when late this afternoon, incoming Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer reportedly “pressed” (in Bloomberg’s words) Joe Biden to propose more than $1.3 trillion in spending for his initial round of Covid-19 relief.

According to Bloomberg, “the two have discussed Biden’s plans ahead of the president-elect’s announcement on his economic-rebuilding proposals… Biden is set to speak at 7:15 p.m. Thursday to outline “his vaccination and economic rescue legislative package,” his transition team said in a statement.” But if markets ignored the Schumer report, they sure as hell noticed the CNN report which hit just after 9pmET, which prompted traders to take a double take because apparently Schumer “pressed” Biden so hard to expand the next stimulus round, he literally squashed the president-elect, who is now “expected to unveil a major Covid-19 relief package on Thursday and his advisers have recently told allies in Congress to expect a price tag in the ballpark of $2 trillion,” CNN reported citing two people briefed on the deliberations.

The Biden team is taking a “shoot for the moon” approach with the package, one lawmaker in close contact with them told CNN, though they added that the price tag could still change. The proposal, which is just shy of the Democrats’ demand late last year when they sought a $2.2 trillion stimulus, only to agree on a $900 billion enacted last December, “will include sizable direct payments to American families, significant state and local funding – including for coronavirus vaccine distribution and other emergency spending measures – to help those struggling during the pandemic.”

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Why does the US have so many neocon women in high places?

Biden Taps Veteran Interventionist Samantha Power to Head USAID (Antiwar)

On Wednesday, Joe Biden announced that he will nominate Samantha Power to head the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Power served as ambassador to the UN for President Obama from 2013 to 2017. Before that, she worked on Obama’s National Security Council, where she played an instrumental role in pushing for US intervention in Libya in 2011. Power argued in favor of US intervention in Libya under the guise of protecting human rights and preventing genocide. She was joined in her crusade by then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Susan Rice, who served as the UN ambassador at the time. Reports from 2011 say the pressure from Power, Rice, and Clinton is what led Obama to intervene militarily in Libya, even though his other top advisors were against it.

Then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates would later say that in a “51 to 49” decision, Obama decided to bomb Libya. The US-NATO intervention in Libya that led to the brutal murder of former Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi was an absolute disaster. Destabilizing Libya turned the country into a haven for al-Qaeda-linked militants, resulted in targeted killings of black Africans, sparked a refugee crisis in North Africa, and even led to the creation of slave markets. For her efforts in convincing Obama to destroy Libya, Power was promoted. As the US ambassador to the UN, Power advocated for US intervention in Syria and stood by as the Obama administration backed the Saudis in their brutal war against Yemen’s Houthis.

While Powers has since taken a public stance against the war in Yemen, she omitted her early role in supporting the vicious war from her memoir that was published in 2019. In the book, Power defended her decision to intervene in Libya and argued that more intervention in Syria could have prevented some of the war’s atrocities. While it’s not exactly a national security position, Power will have a lot of influence on foreign policy from her future role as the head of USAID. The agency is often used to fund US regime change efforts. For example, in September 2019, USAID announced it would be providing $52 million to Juan Guaido, who the US recognizes as president of Venezuela, despite the fact that Nicolas Maduro holds the office. Earlier in 2019, the US supported Guaido in a failed coup attempt.

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Peaceful protests coming.

As Biden Vows To ‘Defeat The NRA,’ Gun Sales Continue To Soar (JTN)

The FBI’s firearm statistics show that 2020 was a record-breaking year in the firearm industry with a 39.9% increase in FBI firearm background checks. With a worldwide pandemic, a summer of violence in cities across the country, the U.S. presidential election and now the transitioning of administrations, 2020 was no ordinary year. With a total of 39,695,315 completed background checks – up from 28,369,750 in 2019 – the year marked the most firearm checks in history, based on FBI data as far back as 1998. Since 1998, nine out of the top ten highest firearm-check weeks occurred in 2020, with the highest check weeks being in the middle of March and the beginning of June.


December, in the midst of election irregularity claims by Trump, saw the highest month of background checks. At over 7.4 million, Illinois saw the most background checks in the country. The fear of the unknown and what’s to come continue to drive sales through the roof. Since the breaching of the Capitol on Jan. 6, gun stores have seen an increase in sales from a fairly even mix of Republicans and Democrats, according to research from TMZ. Gun shops reported increased sales up 400% this past week compared to the week before, with many stores being sold out of guns and ammunition. As Inauguration Day draws closer, sales could continue to stay high with Biden recently saying he will “defeat the NRA.”

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Abominable.

Former Michigan Gov. Snyder Charged For Flint Water Crisis (JTN)

Former Republican governor of Michigan Rick Snyder has been charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty in connection with an investigation pertaining to the Flint, Michigan water crisis, which received much national attention at the time. The Associated Press reported that, according to the state archivist, there has never before been a sitting or former governor charged with wrongdoing connected to their tenure as Michigan governor. “Flint was in chronic financial trouble in 2014 when a Snyder-appointed manager who was running the majority Black city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a regional pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction,” the outlet noted.


“The corrosive water, however, wasn’t treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes in one of the worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history,” the wire service reported. As reports have shown, such as from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Inspector General, there was plenty of blame to go around. CNN reported that the IG report “strongly criticizes the local, state and federal government’s response to the Flint water crisis in 2015 and 2016.”

Read more …

So what has the Fed done to help?

Unemployment Rate Above 20% For Lowest-Paid Workers – Fed’s Brainard (CNBC)

Unemployment for the lowest-paid workers in the U.S. is above 20%, a figure that Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard said underscores the importance of policy help for the economy. The figure indicates how uneven the recovery has seen since efforts to control the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the biggest quarterly GDP drop since the Great Depression. “The damage from COVID-19 is concentrated among already challenged groups,” Brainard said in a speech Wednesday. “The K-shaped recovery remains highly uneven, with certain sectors and groups experiencing substantial hardship.”


At a time when the national unemployment rate has come down from the pandemic peak of 14.7% to the current 6.7%, Fed economists estimate the jobless rate for the lowest quartile of earners is “likely above 20%,” Brainard said. That comes as the Black unemployment rate is 9.9% and the Hispanic rate is at 9.3% while the rate for Whites is 6%. Fed officials have made “inclusive” employment gains a priority and have adjusted policy to try to make that happen. A new approach will allow inflation to run higher than the central bank’s 2% goal and the unemployment rate to fall beneath what had traditionally been an indicator of higher inflation before the Fed will raise interest rates.

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“We can’t run and hide hoping to be the last one hauled off to the abattoir. It’s time to step up.”

Cancel Yourself (Michael Krieger)

There’s no reason to rehash what happened over the last several days, but the gist of it is that significant components of internet infrastructure were weaponized for ideological and political purposes. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we all knew this day was coming. We just didn’t want to admit it or confront it, because it’s not a comforting or easy thing to admit or confront. But the day has arrived and we’re no longer in a position to ignore it. The most concerning aspect isn’t that it happened, but that it could happen at all. The internet is clearly broken, possibly dying, and if we want to digitally associate freely again at some point in the future, we have no choice but to fix it.

Although I have no team in the parochial political fight, I’ve chosen one in the broader ideological battle. The wielding of such concentrated and unaccountable power over human communication has crossed a very serious line and sets us up for a future world I’m uninterested in participating in. As such, we have no choice but to confront the issue head on. People who think this is about Trump for me are the most ridiculous people. I never voted for him, supported him or took him seriously. While I recognize the role he played in the greater scheme of this massive historical cycle, the best thing that can happen is for him to disappear as a political force and be understood as the spectacle and distraction he was. I’m not here to lecture anyone about who they voted for, but I’m here to connect with people of all political persuasions ready to become serious and admit that a real strategy is needed to address the unaccountable power of the national security state oligarchy. Conventional political avenues are a dead end at this point.

I recognize that tens of millions of frustrated, angry and concerned minds are trying to make sense of it all and reorient themselves. This presents a giant opportunity, but also very real danger. All the emotion being felt currently can be channeled into negative avenues such as violence, aimless spectacles, Trump martyrdom or a futile search for the next political savior guaranteed to disappoint, or it can be channeled in productive ways. That’s why I’m here writing this post at this moment. Enough people are finally motivated to respond, but what really matters is the nature of this response. The dominant aggregate reaction is what will determine the future.

Most of us eagerly, or more likely lazily, embraced the current insipid and dull paradigm in the name of convenience, low prices, and free shipping, but we never stopped to consider the sacrifices made along the way. We swallowed it whole, became comfortable fat and happy, and now the facade’s about to be slowly stripped away unless we bend the knee to an ever narrowing Overton Window of speech and behavior parameters. It begins with social media purges, but it won’t end there. All the special things we sacrificed from the prior era are gone, yet the consequences are here to stay. We can’t run and hide hoping to be the last one hauled off to the abattoir. It’s time to step up.

Read more …

This should be the most normal thing in the world. Instead, it’s news.

New Zealand City Closes Busy Road For Weeks To Protect Sea Lions (G.)

The second largest city on New Zealand’s South Island has closed a popular road for an entire month in order for a sea lion to nest safely with its pup. Dunedin City council said in a Facebook post it would close John Wilson Drive above the city’s St Claire beach for a month to allow “some special residents to use the road safely”. “A New Zealand sea lion and her pup have taken up residence at the golf course next door and are regularly crossing the road to get to the beach,” the council said. “You can still visit the area by foot or bicycle, but please give the sea lions lots of space (at least 20m) … New Zealand sea lions are endangered and one of the rarest sea lion species in the world.”


The harbour city, home to 120,000 people, regularly shuts roads during the summer months to allow wildlife to cross safely, but typically only for a day or two at most. The month-long closure has been applauded by locals, many of whom urged the council the make it permanent to protect vulnerable wildlife. Sea lions are threatened in New Zealand and are often attacked by dogs or chase humans if they get too close. The animals, which can weigh up to 200kg, have been giving birth in and around Dunedin since 1993, and since protection efforts have ramped up – both official and otherwise – the sea lion breeding season has become a fixture of the summer months, with at least 20 pups expected in the city this year.

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 122021
 


Alfred Wertheimer Elvis 1956

 

New Covid “Super Strain” is a Game-Changer for Schools and More (Parramore)
WHO Warns Of ‘Highly Problematic’ New Covid-19 Variants (F.)
An Epidemic of COVID Positive Tests (John Hunt)
Lockdown ‘Ineffective’ Against Spread Of Covid-19, May Even Increase Risk (RT)
French Government “Shocked” at Twitter Banning of Trump (SN)
Twitter Has Suspended More Than 70,000 Accounts Since Friday (ZH)
The Big Tech Backfire (Miller)
We Need a New Media System (Taibbi)
Insurrection Versus Insurrection (Kunstler)
The Rise and Fall of the ‘Steele Dossier’ (Maté)
Assange Is Still In Prison. And America’s Principles Are Still At Stake. (NBC)
50 Countries Commit To Protection Of 30% of Earth’s Land and Oceans (G.)
Economic Failures of the IPCC Process (Steve Keen)
Dutch Officials Seize Ham Sandwiches From British Drivers (G.)
‘Let’s All Remain Peaceful,’ Says Trump In Clear Incitement To Violence (BBee)

 

 

The B.1.1.7 COVID variant is starting to look as scary as the social media giant censorship.

 

 

A call on the US to close its borders to the UK. At present, dozens of flights arrive from London every day.

“I’ve never seen an epi curve like this. The B.1.1.7 variant is spreading like wildfire in the UK and Ireland. If it spreads here, it will make an already-bad situation even worse.”

 

 

Lynn Parramore taks to Phillip Alvelda, a former NASA & DARPA technologist.

New Covid “Super Strain” is a Game-Changer for Schools and More (Parramore)

LP: New, fast-spreading “super strains” are raising a lot of concerns, such as more infection among young people. You’ve been studying the U.K. variant, which has shown up in the United States. What do we need to know?

PA: We saw the U.K. strain coming for some time. All of a sudden there began to be dramatic upticks in infection rates, even without material changes in individual behavior en masse or the abatement measures enacted and observed. England has not been the most Johnny-on-the-spot responder to the coronavirus, and there has been a lot of confusion about what abatement measures should be observed, in which areas, etc. Of the developed nations, the U.S. and the U.K. have struggled the most as societies to communicate, plan and observe reasonable measures that other countries have more successfully applied. The U.K. variant, which has now spread across Europe and into several U.S. states, has what appear to be a couple of important mutations in the spike protein, which allows the virus to attach to the receptors in the lungs. Apparently, the new variant is stickier – better at binding to the receptors. That means that it takes less of the virus to get you sick, or the same viral load gets you sicker.

A big change is that the U.K. variant appears be somewhere between 40 and 70% more infectious. For a person who has this variant, they’re likely to infect 40% to 70% more people. If you think about what we have done to reduce the effectiveness of transmission, getting people to wear masks has been a successful campaign. But some masks are better at protecting people than others. A well-fitted N95 and KN95 masks will filter 95% of the virus particles from coming into your lungs, but there are also terrible masks that don’t protect people much at all. If you average mask-wearing over the population, it seems that the mask mandates reduce the infectiousness of the virus by about 40 to 50%. To put the U.K. variant in perspective, with its faster spread, we are effectively put back to where we once were without masks — even when we’re now wearing masks!

LP: The idea of young people under 20 getting infected at high rates is alarming, though there have been conflicting reports as to why those numbers are higher, such as behavior patterns. What’s your take?

PA: There is no doubt that the U.K. strain is infecting more young people than any prior variants. I think the conflicting reports may have more to do with where that variant is prevalent and where it is not. It would not be true to say that all of the hospitals in the U.K. are being overrun by younger patients. But in those regions where the new variant is prevalent, the hospitalization and case data now show that more than ever before, young people are having almost as many cases and hospitalizations as the older people. That is a substantial change. With older variants, symptoms were usually not bad enough to even bring the kids in to test — and we know there were a lot of asymptomatic carriers that were never tested or acknowledged.

With the new variant, symptoms are bad enough that kids need the testing and they’re being hospitalized. It’s probably premature to speculate on the lethality. There is some hope, for example, that the U.K. variant could be more infectious but less lethal. But we just don’t know. It’s likely going to be weeks before the case trend that is now beginning to translate into the hospitalization trend will translate into the mortality trend. Unfortunately, given what we’ve seen in the past from the virus, it’s our expectation that if the case data is showing more young people infected, and the hospitalization data is showing more of them hospitalized, in a matter of weeks we will see more deaths.

Read more …

They’re talking again about “immunity” provided by vaccines. But have we seen any proof of that?

WHO Warns Of ‘Highly Problematic’ New Covid-19 Variants (F.)

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday issued a dire warning about the new variants of Covid-19 that are emerging across the globe, noting that because those variants can be more contagious, the surge in cases they’re likely to cause could further stress hospitals and health workers already stretched to the brink. During a press briefing Monday, Ghebreyesus said that more contagious variants of the coronavirus “can drive a surge of cases and hospitalizations, which is highly problematic for health workers and hospitals already close to the breaking point.” The added strain on hospitals puts other essential health services at risk, he added, meaning that critical surgeries or procedures may become more difficult because hospital resources are more limited.

While these variants have been found to be more contagious, experts say they don’t appear to cause more severe sickness or increase the risk of death. Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned last week that the U.S. is “close to a worst-case scenario” because of the rapid spread of a new, highly contagious strain of Covid-19. New variants of Covid-19 have been found in the United Kingdom, the United States (where 63 cases have been detected), Canada, South Africa, and Nigeria, among other countries, the CDC says. Japan’s health authorities announced over the weekend that they had detected a new variant of the virus in four travelers from Brazil, Reuters reported.

Scientists are keeping track of new mutations as they emerge and studying how they will impact the effectiveness of vaccines. “I’m quite optimistic that even with these mutations, immunity is not going to suddenly fail on us,” Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, told the healthcare publication STAT. “It might be gradually eroded, but it’s not going to fail on us, at least in the short term.” A recent study from the University of Texas and pharma giant Pfizer found that Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is still effective in protecting against new variants of the virus.

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Excellent analysis: “The more it is used wrongly, the more misinformation ensues.”

An Epidemic of COVID Positive Tests (John Hunt)

How does this same 95% sensitive/95% specific test work in this screening setting? The good news is that this test will likely identify the 5 people out of every 1000 with Relevant Infectious COVID! Yay! The bad news is that, out of every 1000 people, it will also falsely label 50 people as COVID-positive who don’t have Relevant Infectious COVID. Out of 55 people with positive tests in each group of 1000 people, 5 actually have the disease. 50 of the tests are false positives. With a Positive Predictive Value of only 9%, one could say that’s a pretty lousy test. It’s far lousier if you test only people with no symptoms (such as screening a school, jobsite, or college), in whom the up-front likelihood of having Relevant Infectious COVID Disease is substantially lower.

The very same test that is pretty good when testing people who are actually ill or at risk is lousy when screening people who aren’t. In the first scenario (with symptoms), the test is being used correctly for diagnosis. In the second scenario (no symptoms), the test is being used wrongly for screening. A diagnostic test is used to diagnose a patient the doctor thinks has a reasonable chance of having the disease (having symptoms like fever, cough, a snotty nose, and shortness of breath during a viral season). A screening test is used to check for the presence of a disease in a person without symptoms and no heightened risk of having the disease.

A screening test may be appropriate to use when it has very high specificity (99% or more), when the prevalence of the disease in the population is pretty high, and when there is something we can do about the disease if we identify it. However, if the prevalence of a disease is low (as is the case for Relevant Infectious COVID) and the test isn’t adequately specific (as is the case with PCR and rapid antigen tests for the COVID virus), then using such a test as a screening measure in healthy people is forcing the test to be lousy. The more it is used wrongly, the more misinformation ensues. Our health authorities are recommending more testing of asymptomatic people. In other words, they are encouraging the wrong and lousy application of these tests.

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“The proportion of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in nursing homes was often higher” under tough restrictions “rather than under less restrictive measures.”

Lockdown ‘Ineffective’ Against Spread Of Covid-19, May Even Increase Risk (RT)

A Stanford University study claims mandatory stay-at-home orders and business closures have “no clear, significant beneficial effect” on Covid-19 case growth and may even lead to more frequent infections in nursing homes. Researchers at Stanford University in California aimed to assess how tough lockdowns influence the growth in infections as compared to less restrictive measures. They used data from England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and the US, collected during the initial stages of the pandemic in the spring 2020. They compared the data from Sweden and South Korea, two countries that did not introduce tough lockdowns at that time, with that from the other eight countries.

They found that introducing any restrictive non-pharmaceutical interventions’ (NPIs) such as reduced working hours, working from home and social distancing helped curb the rise of infections in nine out of 10 study countries, except for Spain, where the effect was “non-significant.” However, when they compared epidemic spreads in places that implemented less restrictive measures with those opting for a full-blown lockdown they found “no clear, significant beneficial effect” of the latter on the number of cases in any country. The research goes on to suggest that empirical data from the later wave of infections shows that restrictive measures fail to protect vulnerable populations. “The proportion of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in nursing homes was often higher” under tough restrictions “rather than under less restrictive measures.”

It also says that there’s evidence suggesting that “sometimes under more restrictive measures, infections may be more frequent in settings where vulnerable populations reside relative to the general population.” The research admits that lockdowns in early 2020 were justified because the disease was spreading rapidly and overwhelming health systems, and scientists or medics did not know what the mortality data of the virus was. However, it points at the potential harmful health effects of tough restrictions, such as hunger, health services becoming unavailable for non-Covid diseases, domestic abuse and mental health issues, and the effects of these on the economy mean that the benefits of the tough restrictions might be overrated and need to be studied carefully.

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“..social media giants shouldn’t have the power to decide who has the right to free speech…”

French Government “Shocked” at Twitter Banning of Trump (SN)

The French government has echoed Angela Merkel’s sentiment in saying it is “shocked” at Twitter’s banning of President Trump, asserting that Big Tech is a threat to democracy. Junior Minister for European Union Affairs Clement Beaune said the decision to silence Trump proved the need for Big Tech platforms to be tightly regulated. “This should be decided by citizens, not by a CEO,” he told Bloomberg TV on Monday. “There needs to be public regulation of big online platforms.” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also said that “the digital oligarchy” was “one of the threats” to democracy and should be reigned in by the state. As we highlighted earlier, the German government also warned that Big Tech’s deplatforming of Trump set a very dangerous precedent.

Communicating via a spokesman, Chancellor Angela Merkel called the move “problematic,” adding that social media giants shouldn’t have the power to decide who has the right to free speech.

“This fundamental right can be intervened in, but according to the law and within the framework defined by legislators — not according to a decision by the management of social media platforms,” said the statement. While Republicans were completely toothless in their efforts to control Big Tech during Trump’s administration, Poland could be set to pass a law that would fine social media companies $2.2 million a pop for censoring lawful free speech. “In the event of removal or blockage, a complaint can be sent to the platform, which will have 24 hours to consider it. Within 48 hours of the decision, the user will be able to file a petition to the court for the return of access. The court will consider complaints within seven days of receipt and the entire process is to be electronic,” reported Poland In.

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Anyone setting up a better alternative will be crushed.

Twitter Has Suspended More Than 70,000 Accounts Since Friday (ZH)

In a Monday night blog post, Twitter lays out all the latest details of a historic purge that started with the suspension of president Trump and has escalated into the ban of tens of thousands of conservative voices, or as Twitter puts it, “steps taken to protect the conversation on our service from attempts to incite violence, organize attacks, and share deliberately misleading information about the election outcome.” Odd how none of those considerations emerged during the summer when US cities were literally burning as a result of countless violent protests and frequent riots, but we digress. In any case, In twitter’s own delightfully ironic words, “It’s important to be transparent about all of this work as the US Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2021, approaches.” Which is a probably a good idea in the aftermath of the biggest censorship purge in twitter history, one which sent Twitter stock tumbling. So this is what how twitter justifies “the purge”:


We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm. Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday afternoon. And with tens of thousands of accounts suspended (most of them permanently), banned, or merely disappeared, it will hardly be a surprise that according to Tiwtter, “more than 70,000 accounts have been suspended”. What is the justification? “These accounts were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service.”

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“Sunlight has always been the best disinfectant as a way of fighting radicalization.”

The Big Tech Backfire (Miller)

Some are excusing Big Tech’s foray into massive censorship by arguing that these are private companies and can choose who they provide service to. Anyone who has a problem with their behavior, they reason, should just create their own platforms. But that is exactly what Parler did, and it was subsequently crushed. Unfortunately, because Big Tech companies have grown so large and monopolistic, the only real way to have a viable competitor is to create an entirely new internet. Amazon’s hypocritical justification for banning Parler shows that these companies will do basically anything in order to destroy the competition. Amazon claimed that Parler is responsible for the content that it allowed users to publish, which is the exact same argument made by people who wish to remove Section 230 protections for social media companies.

Amazon thus introduced a moral and legal standard for a potential competitor that it would resist tooth and nail if applied to itself. The company notably used Section 230 as a defense in a recent court case to try to avoid liability for selling defective products. It’s worth noting that many conservatives do not believe that social-media companies should do away with all content moderation. The problem is that platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and now Amazon, do not enforce their policies equally. After suspending Trump, Twitter was still hosting virulent anti-Semites, Chinese Communist party propaganda, vaccine conspiracists and antifa glorification accounts like the New York Times. If these companies only enforce policies against accounts with certain political leanings, it will radicalize a base of the population even more.

The people who are targeted online by Twitter and Facebook’s increasingly wide nets will simply find deeper and darker holes to communicate. Sunlight has always been the best disinfectant as a way of fighting radicalization. Deleting the account of someone with a radical opinion does not stop that person from holding that opinion; in fact, it may cause them to dig in even deeper in retaliation. Meanwhile, people who are unfairly targeted by social media platforms may start to sympathize with the radicals.

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“Drifting apart into two separate tribes, with a separate set of facts and separate realities, with nothing in common except our hostility towards each other and mistrust for the few national institutions that we all still share.”

We Need a New Media System (Taibbi)

The moment a group of people stormed the Capitol building last Wednesday, news companies began the process of sorting and commoditizing information that long ago became standard in American media. Media firms work backward. They first ask, “How does our target demographic want to understand what’s just unfolded?” Then they pick both the words and the facts they want to emphasize. It’s why Fox News uses the term, “Pro-Trump protesters,” while New York and The Atlantic use “Insurrectionists.” It’s why conservative media today is stressing how Apple, Google, and Amazon shut down the “Free Speech” platform Parler over the weekend, while mainstream outlets are emphasizing a new round of potentially armed protests reportedly planned for January 19th or 20th.

What happened last Wednesday was the apotheosis of the Hate Inc. era, when this audience-first model became the primary means of communicating facts to the population. For a hundred reasons dating back to the mid-eighties, from the advent of the Internet to the development of the 24-hour news cycle to the end of the Fairness Doctrine and the Fox-led discovery that news can be sold as character-driven, episodic TV in the manner of soap operas, the concept of a “Just the facts” newscast designed to be consumed by everyone died out. News companies now clean world events like whalers, using every part of the animal, funneling different facts to different consumers based upon calculations about what will bring back the biggest engagement kick.

The Migrant Caravan? Fox slices off comments from a Homeland Security official describing most of the border-crossers as single adults coming for “economic reasons.” The New York Times counters by running a story about how the caravan was deployed as a political issue by a Trump White House staring at poor results in midterm elections. Repeat this info-sifting process a few billion times and this is how we became, as none other than Mitch McConnell put it last week, a country: “Drifting apart into two separate tribes, with a separate set of facts and separate realities, with nothing in common except our hostility towards each other and mistrust for the few national institutions that we all still share.”

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Jim holds on to the last straws.

Insurrection Versus Insurrection (Kunstler)

Mr. Trump is still president, and you’ve probably noticed he has been president for four years to date, which ought to suggest that he holds a great deal of accumulated information about the seditionists who have been playing games with him through all those years. So, two questions might be: how much of that information describes criminal acts by his adversaries — most recently, a deeply suspicious national election based on hackable vote-tabulation computers — and what’s within the president’s power to do something about it? I guess we’ll find out. Or, to state it a little differently, it is impossible that the president does not have barge-loads of information about the people who strove mightily to take him down for four years.

At least two pillars of the Intel Community — the CIA and the FBI — have been actively and visibly working to undermine and gaslight him, but you can be sure that the president knows where the gas has been coming from, and these agencies are not the only sources of dark information in this world. Also consider that not all the employees at these agencies are on the side of sedition. By its work this weekend, starring Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Zuck (Facebook), Tim Cook (Apple), and Jeff Bezos (Amazon and The WashPo), you know exactly what you would be getting with The Resistance taking power in the White House and Congress: unvarnished tyranny. No free speech for you!

They will not permit opposing voices to be heard, especially about the janky election that elevated America’s booby-prize, Joe Biden, to the highest office in the land. Now there’s a charismatic, charming, dynamic, in-charge guy! He’s already doing such a swell job “healing America.” For instance, his declaration Tuesday to give $30-billion to businesses run by “black, brown, and Native American entrepreneurs” (WashPo). Uh, white folks need not apply? Since when are federal disbursements explicitly race-based? What and who, exactly, comprise the committee set up to operate Joe Biden, the hypothetical, holographic President?

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If anything calls for a Special Counsel, it’s Russiagate. But with the Dems back in power, the chances are zero.

The Rise and Fall of the ‘Steele Dossier’ (Maté)

On January 10, 2017, BuzzFeed News published the “Steele dossier,” the collection of DNC-funded reports alleging a high-level conspiracy between Trump and Moscow. The catalyst had come four days earlier, when then–FBI Director Jim Comey personally briefed Trump on the dossier’s existence. Their meeting was then promptly leaked to the media, giving BuzzFeed the news hook to publish the Steele material in full. Despite its outlandish assertions and partisan provenance, Steele’s work product somehow became a road map for Democratic leaders, media outlets, and, most egregiously, intelligence officials carrying out the Russia investigation.

According to Steele, Trump and the Kremlin engaged in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation.” Russia had, Steele alleged, been “cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least five years,” dating back to the time when Trump was merely the host of The Apprentice. Russia, Steele claimed, handed Trump “a regular flow of intelligence,” including on “political rivals.” The conspiracy supposedly escalated during the 2016 campaign, when then–Trump lawyer Michael Cohen slipped into Prague for “secret discussions with Kremlin representatives and associated operators/hackers.”

This purported plot was not just based on mutual nefarious interests but, worse, outright coercion. To keep their asset in line, Steele alleged, the Russians had videotaped Trump hiring and watching prostitutes “perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show,” in a Moscow Ritz-Carlton hotel room. This “kompromat” meant that the leader of the free world was not only a traitor but also a blackmail victim of his Kremlin handlers. If the Steele dossier’s far-fetched claims were not enough reason to dismiss it with ridicule, another obvious marker should have set off alarms. Reading the Steele dossier chronologically, a glaring pattern emerges: Steele has no advance knowledge of anything that later proved to be true, and, just as tellingly, many of his most explosive claims appear only after some approximate prediction has come out in public form.

Despite his supposed high-level sources inside the Kremlin, it was only after Wikileaks published the DNC e-mails in July 2016 that Steele first mentioned them. When Steele made the headline-consuming claim that “the TRUMP team had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue” in exchange for Russian help, he did so only after a meaningless Ukraine-related platform change at the RNC was reported (and mischaracterized) in The Washington Post. When Steele claimed that former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was offered up to a 19 percent stake in the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft if he could get Trump to lift Western sanctions, it was only after the media had reported Page’s visit to Moscow.

In short, far from having access to high-level intelligence, Steele and his “sources” only had access to news outlets and their own imaginations.

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Support that comes way too late.

Assange Is Still In Prison. And America’s Principles Are Still At Stake. (NBC)

The Justice Department’s case against Assange raised serious press freedom concerns from the outset. This is partly because so much of the indictment is devoted to describing activity that journalists engage in routinely — like cultivating government sources, communicating with them confidentially, protecting their identities and publishing classified secrets. In defending the indictment, Justice Department spokespeople have insisted that the case does not implicate press freedom because Assange himself is not a journalist and because WikiLeaks, which Assange founded, is not a media organization. But this defense misses the point. The point is that Assange is being prosecuted for activities that national security journalists engage in every day — and that they need to engage in if they are to serve as a meaningful check on government power.

Of particular concern are three counts in the indictment that charge Assange with having violated the Espionage Act merely by publishing classified information. As the Justice Department knows, publishing government secrets is an important part of what American news organizations do. The Washington Post disclosed classified information when it revealed the CIA’s network of black sites. The New York Times disclosed classified information when it exposed the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program. The truth is that there is no way that American news organizations could report responsibly about war, foreign relations or national security without sometimes disclosing classified information. Max Frankel of The New York Times famously made this point in an affidavit filed 50 years ago in the Pentagon Papers case, and the point is even more true today.

The ruling issued in London on Monday by Judge Vanessa Baraitser will forestall the Justice Department, at least for now, from pursuing Assange’s prosecution in U.S. courts. This is a significant thing. While the indictment certainly has a chilling effect on national security journalism, a successful prosecution of Assange under the Espionage Act would be even more oppressive — indeed, it would likely compel U.S. news organizations to radically curtail some of the most important work they do. The problem with Baraitser’s ruling, from the perspective of press freedom, is that it rejected the extradition request only because of concerns relating to Assange’s mental health and the conditions in which he would be imprisoned were he handed over to the United States. This aspect of Baraitser’s ruling appears to be well supported by the evidence, but, significantly, its protection does not extend beyond Assange.

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Really? The UK goverment will protect the planet? And Prince Charles makes a cameo? Fool me once, shame on you.

50 Countries Commit To Protection Of 30% of Earth’s Land and Oceans (G.)

A coalition of 50 countries has committed to protect almost a third of the planet by 2030 to halt the destruction of the natural world and slow extinctions of wildlife. The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, which includes the UK and countries from six continents, made the pledge to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and oceans before the One Planet summit in Paris on Monday, hosted by the French president, Emmanuel Macron.
Scientists have said human activities are driving the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, and agricultural production, mining and pollution are threatening the healthy functioning of life-sustaining ecosystems crucial to human civilisation.

In the announcement, the HAC said protecting at least 30% of the planet for nature by the end of the decade was crucial to preventing mass extinctions of plants and animals, and ensuring the natural production of clean air and water. The commitment is likely to be the headline target of the “Paris agreement for nature” that will be negotiated at Cop15 in Kunming, China later this year. The HAC said it hoped early commitments from countries such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Pakistan and Canada would ensure it formed the basis of the UN agreement. The UK environment minister Zac Goldsmith said: “We know there is no pathway to tackling climate change that does not involve a massive increase in our efforts to protect and restore nature.

“So as co-host of the next Climate Cop, the UK is absolutely committed to leading the global fight against biodiversity loss and we are proud to act as co-chair of the High Ambition Coalition. “We have an enormous opportunity at this year’s biodiversity conference in China to forge an agreement to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and ocean by 2030. I am hopeful our joint ambition will curb the global decline of the natural environment, so vital to the survival of our planet.”

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A feature not a bug?!

Economic Failures of the IPCC Process (Steve Keen)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the premier international body collating the scientific assessment of climate change, and proposals for mitigation. A joint creation of the United Nations agencies the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), it brings together scientists from myriad disciplines to assess and summarize the current research on climate change, collating knowledge that is then used to inform governments and politicians. The scientists work on a volunteer basis. The IPCC relies upon its member governments and “Observers Organizations” to nominate its volunteer authors. This means that, subject to their willingness to volunteer, the most prestigious individuals specialising in climate change in each discipline become the authors of the relevant IPCC chapter for their discipline.


They then undertake a review of the peer-reviewed literature in their field (and some non-peer-reviewed work, such as government reports) to distil the current state of knowledge about climate change in their discipline. A laborious review process is also followed, so the draft reports of the volunteer experts is reviewed by other experts in each field, to ensure conformity of the report with the discipline’s current perception of climate change. The emphasis upon producing reports which reflect the consensus within a discipline has resulted in numerous charges that the IPCC’s warnings are inherently too conservative. But the main weaknesses with the IPCC’s methodology are firstly that, in economics, it exclusively selects Neoclassical economists, and secondly, because there is no built-in review of one discipline’s findings by another, the conclusions of these Neoclassical economists about the dangers of climate change are reviewed only by other Neoclassical economists. The economic sections of IPCC reports are therefore unchallenged by other disciplines who also contribute to the IPCC’s reports.

Given the extent to which economists dominate the formation of most government policies in almost all fields, and not just strictly economic policy, the otherwise acceptable process by which the IPCC collates human knowledge on climate change has critically weakened, rather than strengthened, human society’s response to climate change. This is because, commencing with “Nobel Laureate” William Nordhaus, the economists who specialise on climate change have falsely trivialized the dangers that climate change poses to human civilization. In his 2018 Nobel Prize lecture, William Nordhaus described a trajectory that would lead to global temperatures peaking at 4°C above pre-industrial levels in 2145 as “optimal” because, according to his calculations, the damages from climate change over time, plus the abatement costs over time, are minimised on this trajectory.


He estimated the discounted cost of the economic damages from unabated climate change — which would see temperatures approach 6°C above pre-industrial levels by 2150 — at $24 trillion, whereas the 4°C trajectory had damages of about $15 trillion and abatement costs of about $3 trillion. Trajectories with lower peak temperatures had higher abatement costs that overwhelmed the benefits. In a subsequent paper, Nordhaus claimed that even a 6°C increase would only reduce global income by only 7.9%, compared to what it would be in the complete absence of global warming.

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“Welcome to Brexit, sir, I’m sorry.”

Dutch Officials Seize Ham Sandwiches From British Drivers (G.)

Dutch TV news has aired footage of customs officers confiscating ham sandwiches from drivers arriving by ferry from the UK under post-Brexit rules banning personal imports of meat and dairy products into the EU. Officials wearing high-visibility jackets are shown explaining to startled car and lorry drivers at the Hook of Holland ferry terminal that since Brexit, “you are no longer allowed to bring certain foods to Europe, like meat, fruit, vegetables, fish, that kind of stuff.” To a bemused driver with several sandwiches wrapped in tin foil who asked if he could maybe surrender the meat and keep just the bread, one customs officer replied: “No, everything will be confiscated. Welcome to Brexit, sir, I’m sorry.”

The ban came into force on New Year’s Day as the Brexit transition period came to an end, with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) saying travellers should “use, consume, or dispose of” prohibited items at or before the border. “From 1 January 2021 you will not be able to bring POAO (products of an animal origin) such as those containing meat or dairy (eg a ham and cheese sandwich) into the EU,” the Defra guidance for commercial drivers states. The European commission says the ban is necessary because meat and dairy products can contain pathogens causing animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth or swine fever and “continue to present a real threat to animal health throughout the union”.

Dutch customs also posted a photograph of foodstuffs ranging from breakfast cereals to oranges that officials had confiscated in the ferry terminal, adding: “Since 1 January, you can’t just bring more food from the UK.” The customs service added: “So prepare yourself if you travel to the Netherlands from the UK and spread the word. This is how we prevent food waste and together ensure that the controls are speeded up.”

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“Let’s all remain peaceful,” he said, which clearly meant, “Go burn down the Capitol Building.”

‘Let’s All Remain Peaceful,’ Says Trump In Clear Incitement To Violence (BBee)

A review of Trump’s statements last week made it clear that he was inciting violence, as he very clearly told people to “remain peaceful” and not carry out any violence. The dangerous cult leader encouraged his followers to protest at the Capitol, but to remain peaceful, which is an obvious instance of inciting violence, according to leading language experts and journalists. “Let’s all remain peaceful,” he said, which clearly meant, “Go burn down the Capitol Building.” “No violence!” added the deranged lunatic, which, according to the New York Times, was a dog whistle for “Minions, attack!” “Go home,” he added, which meant, “Keep pressing the attack! We will not be defeated! Blow stuff up!” At publishing time, Trump had said, “I’ve always encouraged peaceful protesting,” which meant he wanted his followers to go ransack an Arby’s.

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Jan 092021
 
 January 9, 2021  Posted by at 10:20 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Rembrandt Old man with a beard 1630

 

Big Tech Has Proven It’s More Powerful Than Any Government (Buyniski)
Friday Night Massacre: Twitter Purges Trump, Parler Faces Bans (JTN)
Twitter Bans Trump, Citing Risk Of Violent Incitement (AP)
Trump Campaign Banned From Emailing Supporters (GP)
Wednesday’s Other Story (Taibbi)
Railing Against Trump Coup, Biden Appoints Ukraine Coup-Plotter Nuland (MPN)
Rasmussen: Trump’s Approval Rating Rises After DC Protests (NM)
The Capitol Riot Wasn’t A Coup. It Wasn’t Even Close (McMaken)
How Media Flipped Script On Violent Protests After Capitol Riot (JTN)
Trump Sneaks Back On Twitter By Disguising Self As China PR Rep (BBee)

 

 

That was fast. And furious. What a little coordination can do.

 

 

 

 


William Copley Model for American Flag 1961

 

 

“No explanations have been forthcoming as to why the Capitol was largely unguarded during the protests, even though Trump had for weeks been calling on his followers to stage “wild” demonstrations on that day. Nor was it clear why Mayor Muriel Bowser waited so long before sending in police and the military to rein in the chaos. The stage seemed to have been deliberately set for disaster..”

Big Tech Has Proven It’s More Powerful Than Any Government (Buyniski)

Big Tech’s moves to muscle President Donald Trump off social media have been heralded by some as victory. But a corporate-run state with politicians serving as mere figureheads amounts to the very fascism they claim to oppose. The smug, palpable air of ‘mission accomplished’ emanating from Facebook, Twitter and Google in the weeks after the media called November’s election for Democrat Joe Biden has been hard to ignore. Thanks to an iron grip on the political narrative and the heavy-handed suppression of any influential dissenting voices, these insanely wealthy companies and their partners in the media establishment have managed to successfully upend what was left of the US’ democratic process.

In short, they have reason to celebrate, having pulled off the first successful national-level coup-by-media in US history. And better yet — for them at least — having helped the ‘right’ guy win, they won’t have to answer to any bogus charges of Russian collusion this time around. Indeed, no less than the Department of Homeland Security came forward to declare the vote the most secure in US history — a baffling claim at best, given the same officials have spent months insisting foreign infiltration supposedly had democracy hanging by a thread. The epic pearl-clutching that followed Wednesday’s march on the Capitol is almost guaranteed to result in further restrictions on online speech — and as many observers noted, that’s just how Big Tech and Big Brother want it.

No explanations have been forthcoming as to why the Capitol was largely unguarded during the protests, even though Trump had for weeks been calling on his followers to stage “wild” demonstrations on that day. Nor was it clear why Mayor Muriel Bowser waited so long before sending in police and the military to rein in the chaos. The stage seemed to have been deliberately set for disaster, just the sort of spectacle a clever Big Business-Big Tech axis needs to terrify the masses into believing a full-on insurrection is afoot. The only real surprise in Wednesday’s events is that more people weren’t killed — but that’s where the media came in, wielding luridly detailed descriptions and photographing the most bizarrely-attired figures in the group.

Ultimately, the narrative diverges from reality just enough to make its point, fingering social media as the culprit, and duping the average American into supporting further incursions on their First Amendment freedoms. The moral of the story becomes “Stop thinking, before someone gets hurt.”

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They’re pretty thorough, and they’re doing it together.

Friday Night Massacre: Twitter Purges Trump, Parler Faces Bans (JTN)

Tech companies on Friday night made significant moves against conservative presences on their respective servers, with Twitter purging major high-profile conservative accounts including President Donald Trump, who received a permanent ban.. Apple, meanwhile, threatened to blacklist Parler in its app store over the company’s content moderation policies, while Google outright banned the app from its own software-sharing system. Twitter on Friday officially banned Trump from its platform, citing his two recent tweets stating his intent to skip Joe Biden’s inauguration and offering praise to his his millions of supporters, which the company said constituted violations of its “glorification of violence” policy.


“[O]ur determination,” the company wrote, “is that the two Tweets … are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.” Twitter on Friday also banned the accounts of Trump attorney Sidney Powell and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, arguing that the two had spread false information related to the QAnon conspiracy theory and had thus violated the company’s content rules. The alternative social media app Parler, meanwhile — which has billed itself as a free-speech alternative to Twitter’s content moderation policies and which has attracted a growing number of conservative users in recent months — faced major pressure from tech giants Apple and Google to rewrite its content rules.

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Arbitrary rules. No matter what side you’re on, that’s what they are.

Twitter Bans Trump, Citing Risk Of Violent Incitement (AP)

Twitter banned President Donald Trump’s account Friday, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence” following the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Twitter has long given Trump and other world leaders broad exemptions from its rules against personal attacks, hate speech and other behaviors. But in a detailed explanation posted on its blog Friday, the company said recent Trump tweets amounted to glorification of violence when read in the context of the Capitol riot and plans circulating online for future armed protests around the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The social platform has been under growing pressure to take further action against Trump following the Wednesday violence.

On Thursday, Facebook suspended Trump’s account through Jan. 20 and possibly indefinitely. Twitter merely suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours after he posted a video that repeated false claims about election fraud and praised the rioters who stormed the Capitol. Trump’s Twitter persona has long functioned as a mix of policy announcements, often out of the blue; complaints about the media; disparagement of women, minorities and his perceived enemies; and praise for his supporters, replete with exclamation marks, all-caps, and one-word declarations such as “Sad!” He has fired numerous officials on Twitter and his posts, like his speeches at rallies, are a torrent of misinformation. [..]

The official account for the President of the United States, @POTUS, remains live. In fact, Trump, who issued a statement Friday evening that denounced Twitter as an enemy of free speech and floated the idea that he might build his own “platform,” also posted it on the @POTUS account, where it was quickly deleted. Twitter says using another account to evade a suspension is against its rules, and that while it won’t ban government accounts like @POTUS or @WhiteHouse, it will “take action to limit their use.”

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Yes, thorough.

Trump Campaign Banned From Emailing Supporters (GP)

The Trump campaign is now blocked from emailing their millions of supporters after being suspended by their email service provider. The suspension comes shortly after President Donald Trump and his campaign were permanently banned from Twitter. The email service, Campaign Monitor, confirmed the suspension of the account to Financial Times’ Dave Lee. The Nationalist Review reports “the move effectively cuts off communication between his team and his core supporters. What is not clear however, is what other services have banned his team. The Trump campaign sends out a massive amount of emails—33 in January so far. But, it has been 48 hours since the campaign has reached out to its supporters via email, prompting most journalists to speculate that other providers have shut off access as well.”


In a statement, Campaign Monitor claimed that the campaign probably has other methods of sending emails to supporters. “The self-service account associated with the Donald Trump Campaign has been suspended as of today, January 7th, 2021. Typically, political campaigns use multiple email service providers to send campaign, fundraising and other emails,” Campaign Monitor said in a statement about the ban. “Based on the low volume of emails that had been sent from the Campaign Monitor account, this is likely a very small portion of total email activity from the campaign.”

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Julian Assange saw today’s developments coming years ago.

Wednesday’s Other Story (Taibbi)

The rise of Wikileaks introduced an uncontrollable variable into our drift toward authoritarianism. The WMD episode had shown again that our press, the supposed first line of defense against abuses, could not be relied upon. For every expose like Abu Ghraib, there were a hundred stories that either went uncovered or advanced official deceptions. Wikileaks anticipated a future in which the press would not only be pliant accomplices to power in this way, but where information itself would be tightly controlled by governments using far-reaching and probably extralegal new technological concepts, deploying misleading excuses for clampdowns.

One of the first Wikileaks document dumps involved the Thai government’s blacklist of Internet sites, which was billed as a way to stop child pornography but had in fact been used to remove as many as 1200 sites critical of the Thai royal family, among other things. “The Thai system was used to censor Australia reportage about the imprisoned Australian writer Harry Nicolaides,” Assange noted, in 2009. Wikileaks also released the Camp Manual for Guantanamo Bay, which among other things revealed that children as young as 15 were being held, along with 900+ other files about a place essentially closed off to even theoretical press review. Another early dump involved the Minton report, about toxic dumping in the Ivory Coast by the firm Trafigura, which in yet another preview of a future of information control had obtained a court order to prevent The Guardian from printing.

In the 2010 Collateral Murder video, an Apache helicopter crew falsely claims to have encountered a firefight and lights up a Baghdad street, killing a dozen people, including two Reuters employees. Somehow even more disturbing than the killing is the dialogue captured between pilots and base. They’re laughing in parts, saying things like, “Just fuckin’ once you get on ‘em, just open ‘em up,” “All right, hahaha, I hit em,” and “Hey, you shoot, I’ll talk.” For all the talk about the madness of Donald Trump — and I wrote one of those pieces — this was something more dangerous, i.e. institutional insanity.

We were factory-producing sociopathic murder, by air, in a process that would become more depersonalized. As early as 2011 we learned the Pentagon was working on a software-based system for identifying and eliminating targets by drone, in an effort to remove the potentially complicating variable of human conscience. The implications of this are the stuff of sci-fi movies: outsourcing feeling, judgment, and responsibility to machines, which incidentally would eventually use similar software to determine how much about these questions could be disclosed to human audiences.

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Cookies.

Railing Against Trump Coup, Biden Appoints Ukraine Coup-Plotter Nuland (MPN)

Describing it as “one of the darkest days in American history,” President-elect Joe Biden denounced Wednesday’s spectacular assault on the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. as a coup attempt fomented by Donald Trump. “I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming, but that isn’t true. We could see it coming,” the 78-year-old Delawarean said. The last four years we’ve had a president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law, clear in everything he has done. He unleashed an all-out assault on the institutions of our democracy from the outset, and yesterday was but a culmination … of that attack.” “This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It’s chaos,” he added, calling the events an “unprecedented assault” on the very fabric of U.S. democracy.

Yet, almost at the same time as the future president was denouncing Trump’s coup attempt, he was appointing Victoria Nuland — the driving force behind the 2014 insurrection that overthrew the Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych — as his new Under Secretary for Political Affairs. The United States and NATO had been making overtures to Ukraine for some time before the coup, hoping that the country would become the latest post-Soviet state to fall into their fold as they continued to expand eastwards. Yanukovych, however, was in favor of steering Ukraine in a more Russia-friendly direction. The decision spurred demonstrations across the country from pro-E.U. forces. The Obama administration immediately sensed an opportunity, sending Nuland across the world to lead and support the movement, the senior diplomat rallying protestors, and was even photographed handing out cookies in the streets.

While in the West, the revolt was presented as being led by tech-savvy, forward-thinking students. In reality, most of the muscle was supplied by neo-Nazi militias who helped force through Yanukovych’s downfall and continue to hold an oversized role in Ukrainian politics and society. In December, the United States and Ukraine were the only two nations to vote against a United Nations measure (passed 130-2), “combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.” This was done as they felt the resolution could be used to target the Ukrainian government and the U.S.’ continued funding of it. Leaked phone calls show that Nuland and American Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt had long conversations about who should make up the post-coup government.

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Not for long.

Rasmussen: Trump’s Approval Rating Rises After DC Protests (NM)

The Rasmussen poll, one of the most accurate polls of the 2020 election, finds President Trump’s approval is actually rising after Wednesday‘s protests. As Democrats move to impeachment and some establishment Republicans call for the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, the poll finds 48% approve of the President’s job performance. A source close to the polling firm tells Newsmax that the rolling survey saw Trump’s approval soar to 51% on Thursday night. Trump’s approval has been up overall, jumping from 45% just before Christmas. “Americans are disgusted that cities burned for months and Washington and the media did nothing,” our source says, “But they still like Trump.”

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How many coups have there been in the past decades that did not involve the CIA?

The Capitol Riot Wasn’t A Coup. It Wasn’t Even Close (McMaken)

On Wednesday, a mob apparently composed of Trump supporters forced its way past US Capitol security guards and briefly moved unrestrained through much of the capitol building. They displayed virtually no organization and no clear goals. Five people reportedly died during the events – one apparently unarmed female protester died of a gunshot wound, three other protesters “suffered medical emergencies” that resulted in their deaths (one crushed, one heart attack, and one stroke); and a police officer died from a blood clot on his brain reportedly triggered while physically engaging with protesters. Yet, the media response has been to act as if the event constituted a coup d’etat. This was “A Very American Coup” according to a headline at The New Republic.

“This is a Coup” insists a writer at Foreign Policy. The Atlantic presented photos purported to be “Scenes From an American Coup.” But this wasn’t a coup, and what happened on Wednesday is conceptually very different from a coup. Coups nearly always are acts committed by elites against the sitting executive power using the tools of the elites. This isn’t at all what happened on Wednesday. A gang of disorganized, powerless mechanics, janitors, and insurance agents running through the capitol isn’t a coup. And if it was a coup attempt, it was so far from anything that might hope to succeed as a coup that it should not be taken seriously as such. So how do we know a coup when we see one?

In their article “Global instances of coups from 1950 to 2010: A new dataset,” authors Jonathan M. Powell and Clayton L. Thyne provide a definition: “A coup attempt includes illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive.” There are two key components of this definition. The first is that it is illegal. Powell and Thyne note this “illegal” qualifier is important to include “because it differentiates coups from political pressure, which is common whenever people have freedom to organize.” In other words, protests, or threats of protest don’t count as coups. Neither do legal efforts such as a vote of no confidence or an impeachment. But an even more critical aspect of Powell’s and Thyne’s definition is that it requires the involvement of elites.

This can be seen in any stereotypical example of a coup d’etat. This generally involves a renegade military detachment, military officers, and others from within the state apparatus who can employ knowledge, skills, influence, coercive tools gained through membership in the regime’s elite circles. The attempted coup in Japan in 1937, for example, was carried out by more than 1,500 officers and men of the Japanese imperial army. They nonetheless failed, likely because they miscalculated the amount of support they enjoyed among other officers. More recently, in the 2009 Honduran coup, the bulk of the Honduran Army turned on the president Manuel Zelaya and sent him into exile. That was a successful coup. More famously, Chile’s 1973 coup was successfully led by Agusto Pinochet, the commander-in-chief of the Army, and this enabled him to shell the Chilean executive palace with military hardware.

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Semantics rule.

How Media Flipped Script On Violent Protests After Capitol Riot (JTN)

The Associated Press, meanwhile, appeared in its coverage of the riot to depart from a new stylistic approach it adopted last year. Informing readers that it would be “us[ing] care” in describing civil unrest, the news organization in September wrote on Twitter: “A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium.” The AP argued that “focusing on rioting and property destruction rather than underlying grievance has been used in the past to stigmatize broad swaths of people protesting against lynching, police brutality or for racial justice, going back to the urban uprisings of the 1960s.”


Suggesting an alternative, the AP wrote: “Unrest is a vaguer, milder and less emotional term for a condition of angry discontent and protest verging on revolt.” The news wire appeared to utilize that standard in its coverage of last summer’s violent demonstrations, when in the late spring it described violent looting, arson, flag-burning and clashes with police as “unrest.” It similarly described as “unrest” sustained chaos in Minneapolis that involved the burning of a police station and multiple other buildings, some of which firefighters were unable to access due to ongoing violence. Yet the Associated Press in multiple stories this week described the Capitol crisis as a “riot,” making it unclear just how the news service applies the standards it appears to have developed in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests last year.

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“Should his ploy fail, Trump says he will next try disguising himself as an Antifa leader.”

Trump Sneaks Back On Twitter By Disguising Self As China PR Rep (BBee)

Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter today, being a crazy fringe extremist who also happens to be the president of the United States. But the ever-clever Trump, always known as the smartest man in the room, has managed to get back on the social network by disguising himself as one Chongald Xrump, PR specialist for the Chinese Communist Party. Trump is reportedly attempting to build a following by tweeting about how good Uighur concentration camps are and how nice the Chinese government is, since those things are not banned under Twitter’s terms of service.

Once he has enough followers, he’ll remove his Asian rice hat and false Fu Manchu mustache and begin tweeting about the rigged election once again. “Hello good sirs, I am here today to tell you how great our concentration camps are! Very clean and humane!” he wrote. The tweet was not flagged for inciting violence or being, you know, the tweet of a communist country that has killed tens of millions of its own citizens. In fact, people who replied and questioned the legitimacy of his tweet were suspended for hate speech. Should his ploy fail, Trump says he will next try disguising himself as an Antifa leader.

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Oct 222020
 


Banksy Show me the Monet 2005 (sold yesterday for $8 million)

 

Laptop Connected To Hunter Biden Linked To FBI Money Laundering Probe (Fox)
Giuliani Responds To Borat Photo (ZH)
Glenn Greenwald Calls Out Hypocrites Covering For Biden On Hunter Stories (NYP)
Time To Mute The President (Turley)
Biden’s Lead Down to Three (Rasmussen)
Poll Shows Trump Support At New High In Tight Race (IBD)
Will Adam Schiff Now Be Banned From Twitter? (Turley)
Republicans To Push Ahead With Supreme Court Pick Despite Dems’ Boycott (R.)
OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma To Plead To 3 Criminal Charges (AP)
Guardian’s Silence Let UK Trample On Assange’s Rights In Darkness (Cook)
Donald Trump Paid Nearly $200,000 In Taxes To China, Report Claims (G.)
Over Half Europe’s Small Firms Fear For Survival (R.)
Million New Yorkers Can’t Afford Food As Hunger Crisis Worsens (ZH)
Experts Recommend Maximizing Social Distance By Attending A Biden Rally (BBee)

 

 

 

 

We don’t know if it’s Hunter doing the laundering, and the FBI won’t tell.

Laptop Connected To Hunter Biden Linked To FBI Money Laundering Probe (Fox)

The FBI’s subpoena of a laptop and hard drive purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden came in connection with a money laundering investigation in late 2019, according to documents obtained by Fox News and verified by multiple federal law enforcement officials who reviewed them. It is unclear, at this point, whether the investigation is ongoing or if it was directly related to Hunter Biden. Multiple federal law enforcement officials, as well as two separate government officials, confirmed the authenticity of these documents, which were signed by FBI Special Agent Joshua Wilson. Wilson did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

One of the documents, obtained by Fox News, was designated as an FBI “Receipt for Property” form, which details the bureau’s interactions with John Paul Mac Isaac, the owner of “The Mac Shop” who reported the laptop’s contents to authorities. The document has a “Case ID” section, which is filled in with a hand-written number: 272D-BA-3065729. According to multiple officials, and the FBI’s website, “272” is the bureau’s classification for money laundering, while “272D” refers to “Money Laundering, Unknown SUA [Specified Unlawful Activity]—White Collar Crime Program,” according to FBI documents. One government official described “272D” as “transnational or blanket.” “BA” indicates the case was opened in the FBI’s Baltimore field office, sources said.

The documents state that the subpoena was carried out in Wilmington, Del., which falls under the jurisdiction of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office. “The FBI cannot open a case without predication, so they believed there was predication for criminal activity,” a government official told Fox News. “This means there was sufficient evidence to believe that there was criminal conduct.” Another document, obtained by Fox News, was a subpoena sent to Isaac to testify before U.S. District Court in Delaware on Dec. 9, 2019. One page of the subpoena shows what appears to be serial numbers for a laptop and hard drive taken into possession. Based on the date of the subpoena, an official told Fox News that the case would have been opened prior to Isaac’s subpoena.

“If a criminal case was opened and subpoenas were issued, that means there is a high likelihood that both the laptop and hard drive contain fruits of criminal activity,” the official said. Fox News first reported on Tuesday evening that the FBI is in possession of the laptop in question. The FBI has declined to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation into the laptop or the emails, as is standard practice.

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Giuliani called New York City police to report the incident on July 7. It was no big story then, but it is now.

Giuliani Responds To Borat Photo (ZH)

Following The Guardian’s full-court-press effort to distract from the disturbing details being exposed about Hunter Biden (and his father), the rest of the activist media jumped on the Giuliani-hand-down-his-pants/Borat story. As the embarrassing story took on a mind of its own among social media and mainstream media types, the former New York Mayor has taken to Twitter to respond and clarify what exactly happened…


“The Borat video is a complete fabrication. I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment. At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar. In fact, the NY Post today reports “it looks to me like an exaggeration through editing.” As soon as I realized it was a set up I called the police, which has been noted in THR article on July 8th. This is an effort to blunt my relentless exposure of the criminality and depravity of Joe Biden and his entire family. Deadline Hollywood reports CAA had a distribution screening in September where there was no mention of the scene holding any importance. We are preparing much bigger dumps off of the hard drive from hell, of which Joe Biden will be unable to defend or hide from. I have the receipts.

If this is all the Deep State has to try and distract from HunterGate, they have a problem (and so far have not denied any of the details that have been exposed). And on the bright side, no Russians were blamed and at least he wasn’t masturbating on a work Zoom call. As TheMindUnleashed’s John Vibes detailed earlier, Rudy Giuliani is among the high profile figures who were pranked for Sasha Baron Cohen’s new Borat sequel, and so far his encounter is the most embarrassing. Cohen and Maria Bakalova, the actress who portrays Borat’s daughter in the film, brought Giuliani into their prank by posing as conservative TV journalists. They conducted an interview with Giuliani where they were extremely agreeable and after the interview, Bakalova went back to a nearby hotel room with him for a drink.


The room was rigged with hidden cameras, which recorded Giuliani apparently untucking his shirt and reaching into his pants. Once he began to reach into his pants, Borat runs into the room and shouts, “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.” Just after the incident, Giuliani called New York City police to report the incident, claiming that he was the victim of a scam or a set up. Giuliani described the encounter to the New York Post, saying that: “This guy comes running in, wearing a crazy, what I would say was a pink transgender outfit. It was a pink bikini, with lace, underneath a translucent mesh top, it looked absurd. He had the beard, bare legs, and wasn’t what I would call distractingly attractive. This person comes in yelling and screaming, and I thought this must be a scam or a shakedown, so I reported it to the police. He then ran away.”

Cernovich

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“The huge scandal to me is the blatant rank-closing and cone of silence — a prohibition — erected *by journalists* around this story to defend Biden.”

Glenn Greenwald Calls Out Hypocrites Covering For Biden On Hunter Stories (NYP)

Glenn Greenwald is an independent-minded man of the left — a Pulitzer-winning journalist who was the main conduit for Edward Snowden’s leaks of US government secrets. He’s faced down government harassment in Brazil, where he now lives and reports. So his thoughts on The Post’s Hunter Biden scoops, and the reaction by other media outlets, are well worth considering. And they’re damning. Tuesday evening, he made these points on Twitter: “Is there a single journalist willing to say with a straight face they believe the emails relating to the Bidens are either fabricated or otherwise fraudulently altered, but the Bidens just aren’t saying so? There has to be some limits to your willingness to go to bat for them.”

“When you report a huge archive, there’s no way to prove the negative that none of it is altered. You investigate & confirm as much as you can, then use your journalistic judgment. The only way you get confirmation is when the subjects of the reporting don’t deny the authenticity.” “When we reported the Snowden archive, we knew it was genuine, but breathed a huge sigh of relief when NSA didn’t claim the docs were fake. The same was true with our Brazil reporting over the last year: publishing private messages from corrupt Bolsonaro officials & prosecutors.” “As a journalist publishing private communications & docs that are incriminating, you know the subjects of the reporting will immediately claim they’re fake *if the[y] are*. Of course they will: that would kill the reporting! There’s a reason the Bidens aren’t claiming they’re fake.”

“I don’t think that the emails — so far — reveal a huge scandal. They so far just establish standard sleaze and DC corruption. The huge scandal to me is the blatant rank-closing and cone of silence — a prohibition — erected *by journalists* around this story to defend Biden.” On Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show that night, he elaborated: “What makes it so much worse is that the reason the Bidens aren’t answering basic questions about this story — basic questions like: Did Hunter Biden drop that laptop off at that repair shop? Are the emails authentic? Do you deny that they are? Do you claim any have been altered or any of them fabricated? Did you in fact meet with Burisma executives as these emails suggest? . . . The reason that they don’t answer any questions is because the media has signaled that they don’t have to. That journalists will be attacked and vilified simply for asking.”

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Hard to believe this guy is serious. What a bizarre new normal we have reached.

Time To Mute The President (Turley)

Peter Greenberger, a former Twitter and Google executive, is calling for the social media accounts of President Donald Trump to be shutdown for the remainder of the election. For those of us who have criticized calls for censorship from Democratic leaders for years, the demand is yet another example of the slippery slope of censorship that awaits this country with increasing regulation of speech on social media. Congressional leaders like House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff have called for labeling and removal of material with some members directly threatening a legislative crackdown. Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for resisting speech monitoring and censorship as a matter of free speech.

Pelosi lashed out that those who want to preserve a free speech zone are “all about making money,” ignoring free speech advocates who have no financial interest in these companies. Joe Biden has demanded that prior Trump criticism of mail-in voting be stripped from the Internet and social media. This is an effort to enlist companies like Twitter and Facebook to regulate political speech. And it is increasing succeeding. The recent move against the Hunter Biden story is an example of how these companies have been used to inhibit access to stories that are harmful to Joe Biden or beneficial to Donald Trump. Yesterday, the FBI reportedly confirmed that it has the Biden laptop and that it does not believe that the material on the laptop is Russian disinformation.

Previously, the Director of National Intelligence criticized Schiff for declaring that the laptop was clearly Russian disinformation and said that Congress has received no such intelligence. Despite the recent abusive act by Twitter, Greenberger is demanding that these companies go even further to ban all access of Trump to social media. Presumably, Greenberger would eventually ban surrogates who convey Trump’s views or comments.CNN considered Greenberger’s proposal credible enough to give him an entire segment with Jake Tapper who observed that the suggestion is pretty “extreme.”

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Deja Vu?

Biden’s Lead Down to Three (Rasmussen)

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, it’s a three-point race. Democrat Joe Biden now leads President Trump 49% to 46% among Likely U.S. Voters, according to Rasmussen Reports’ weekly White House Watch survey. The latest national telephone and online survey finds that two percent (2%) still prefer some other candidate, while another two percent (2%) remain undecided. Two weeks ago, Biden had a 12-point lead. A week ago, he was ahead by eight. This is the first time in a month that Biden’s support has fallen below 50%.


Trump earns 82% support among Republicans. Biden has 79% of the Democrat vote and leads by seven among voters not affiliated with either major party. The Democrat had a double-digit lead among unaffiliateds for the two weeks prior to this. The survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted October 14-15 and 18-20, 2020 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

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This show ain’t done.

Poll Shows Trump Support At New High In Tight Race (IBD)

Today’s Biden vs. Trump poll finds support for President Donald Trump hitting a new high, just a hair below his 2016 vote share. The race against former Vice President Joe Biden appears to have gotten much tighter since the Oct. 12 launch of IBD/TIPP’s daily presidential poll. Republican voters have come home, while Democrats have strayed, but Biden retains an edge among independent voters, IBD/TIPP shows. The latest Biden vs. Trump poll update shows the Democratic challenger leading the Republican incumbent by 2.5 points, 48.5%-46%, in a four-way presidential poll of likely voters. Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen has the support of 2.6%, and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins 0.7%.

Since the IBD/TIPP 2020 Presidential Election Tracking Poll launched Oct. 12, Biden’s support has slipped 3.4 points, from 51.9%. Trump poll numbers have gone the other way, rising 2.6 points to his new high-water mark of 46%. That’s just one-tenth of a point below his 46.1% 2016 vote share. Trump won the 2016 presidential election, despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 2.1 points. Biden’s lead peaked at 8.6 points in IBD/TIPP’s Oct. 13 presidential poll. The race’s tightest point came on Tuesday, Oct. 20, when Biden led by 2.3 points. Biden’s narrower support reflects Trump’s gain, along with more voters who are undecided or decline to say whom they support.

In a head-to-head Biden vs. Trump poll, the Democratic nominee leads by 1.8 points, 48.7%-46.9%, his smallest lead to date. Biden’s support has slipped 4 points since Oct. 12 in the one-on-one matchup, while Trump’s support is up 4.6 points. Biden’s head-to-head lead is slightly narrower because Trump sheds a bit more support to the Libertarian candidate in a four-way race.

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The New York Post Twitter account is still locked, one week after the publication on Hunter’s laptop. The New York Times account is not.

Will Adam Schiff Now Be Banned From Twitter? (Turley)

Just a day after more than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed on to a letter declaring that the recent disclosure of emails from the Hunter Biden laptop is likely Russian disinformation, the FBI reportedly confirmed that the material does not appear to be Russian disinformation. While former officials like John Brennan insisted that the story “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” the FBI appears to have found no such evidence thus far. This followed a similar conclusion from the Director of National Intelligence in response to House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff saying that the story was pure Russian disinformation. The question is whether Twitter and Facebook will now bar access to Schiff’s statements pending further review since the actual intelligence agencies are suggesting that this could be democratic disinformation.

After all, a former Twitter executive is calling for President Trump to be barred from all social media until after the election to prevent “misinformation.” The burden of being a free speech advocate is the the answer is clearly no. Those, like Schiff, who have called for censoring material on the Internet still should benefit from the protections of free speech. From a free speech perspective, it does not matter if the Schiff statement and the letter have “all the classic earmarks of a [Democratic] information operation,” we all benefit from a free and robust discussion of such issues. We do not need these companies to censor or inhibit stories to protect us from misinformation. The letter itself is striking not only in its sweeping conclusion (without actually reviewing the laptop or the emails), but its signatories.

This includes some of those who have been associated with the Russian investigation of the Trump campaign, which was based in part on the Steele dossier. That dossier, funded by the Clinton campaign, was recently found to have been based on information supplied by a known Russian agent. Throughout the campaign, and for many weeks after, the Clinton campaign denied any involvement in the creation of the dossier that was later used to secure a secret surveillance warrant against Trump associates during the Obama administration. Journalists later discovered that the Clinton campaign hid the payments to Fusion as a “legal fees” among the $5.6 million paid to the law firm.

New York Times reporter Ken Vogel at the time said that Clinton lawyer Marc Elias had “vigorously” denied involvement in the anti-Trump dossier. When Vogel tried to report the story, he said, Elias “pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’” Times reporter Maggie Haberman likewise wrote: “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.” Even when Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was questioned by Congress on the matter, he denied any contractual agreement with Fusion GPS. Sitting beside him was Elias, who helped devise contract.

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Still trying to make this news?!

Republicans To Push Ahead With Supreme Court Pick Despite Dems’ Boycott (R.)

U.S. Senate Republicans pledged to go ahead with a vote on Thursday on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, despite Judiciary Committee Democrats pledging to boycott a proceeding that they called “a sham.” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said in a statement on Wednesday that “Judge Barrett deserves a vote and she will receive a vote.” Just hours earlier, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Judiciary Committee Democrats said they would not show up for the vote. They have been urging Republicans to await the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election before advancing a nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the September death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


“Amidst a global pandemic and ongoing election, Republicans are rushing to confirm a Supreme Court Justice to take away health care from millions and execute the extreme and deeply unpopular agenda that they’ve been unable to get through Congress,” the Democrats said. “This has been a sham process from the beginning,” they said, noting that U.S. elections were only 12 days away and that early ballots already were being cast. Graham, who is in a tough re-election campaign in South Carolina, countered, saying in his statement that Barrett “has a judicial disposition that should be the gold standard for all future nominees” to the high court.

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Take all their wealth, and throw them in the slammer.

OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma To Plead To 3 Criminal Charges (AP)

Drugmaker Purdue Pharma, the company behind the powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin that experts say helped touch off an opioid epidemic, will plead guilty to federal criminal charges as part of a settlement of more than $8 billion, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. The deal does not release any of the company’s executives or owners — members of the wealthy Sackler family — from criminal liability, and a criminal investigation is ongoing. Family members said they acted “ethically and lawfully,” but some state attorneys general said the agreement fails to hold the Sacklers accountable. The company will plead guilty to three counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws, the officials said, and the agreement will be detailed in a bankruptcy court filing in federal court.


The Sacklers will lose all control over their company, a move already in the works, and Purdue will become a public benefit company, meaning it will be governed by a trust that has to balance the trust’s interests against those of the American public and public health, officials said. The settlement is the highest-profile display yet of the federal government seeking to hold a major drugmaker responsible for an opioid addiction and overdose crisis linked to more than 470,000 deaths in the country since 2000.

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Today is the tenth anniversary of the Guardian’s publication of the Iraq war logs, leaked by Manning to Assange.

Guardian’s Silence Let UK Trample On Assange’s Rights In Darkness (Cook)

Julian Assange has been hounded out of public life and public view by the UK and US governments for the best part of a decade. Now he languishes in a small, airless cell in Belmarsh high-security prison in London – a victim of arbitrary detention, according to a UN working group, and a victim of psychological torture, according to Nils Melzer, the UN’s expert on torture. If Judge Vanessa Baraitser, presiding in the Central Criminal Court in London, agrees, as she gives every appearance of preparing to do, Assange will be the first journalist to face a terrifying new ordeal – a form of extraordinary rendition to the United States for “espionage” – for having the courage to publish documents that exposed US war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Guardian worked with Assange and Wikileaks on vitally important documents – now at the heart of the US case against Assange – known as the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs. The latter were published exactly a decade ago today. They were a journalistic coup of global significance, and the paper ought to be profoundly proud of its role in bringing them to public attention. During Assange’s extradition hearing, however, the Guardian treated the logs and its past association with Assange and Wikileaks more like a dirty secret it hoped to keep out of sight. Those scoops furnished by Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning enriched the paper financially, and bolstered its standing internationally. They also helped to pave its path into the lucrative US market.


Unlike Assange and Manning, the Guardian has suffered no consequences for publishing the logs. Unlike Assange and Manning, the paper has faced no retribution. While it profited, Assange continues to be made an example of – to deter other journalists from contemplating following in his footsteps.

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More bullshit from the Guardian. More on this later.

This is a bank account from Trump International Hotels Management, not Trump himself. Moreover, this played in 2013-15. Hasn’t been used since 2015, when the project it was opened for failed.

And Trump did pay a lot more taxes than $750, just not “regular” income tax.

Donald Trump Paid Nearly $200,000 In Taxes To China, Report Claims (G.)

Donald Trump maintains a bank account in China where he pursued licensing deals for years, according to a report that could undermine the president’s election campaign claim that he is tough on Beijing. Tax records reviewed by the New York Times showed a previously unreported bank account in China controlled by Trump International Hotels Management. The account paid $188,561 in taxes in China between 2013 and 2015 in connection to potential licensing deals, according the newspaper. Earlier reporting by the Times showed he paid just $750 in US taxes in 2016 and 2017. The recent tax records also showed Trump invested at least $192,000 in five companies charged with pursuing business deals in China. Those companies claimed $97,400 in business expenses, including payments as recently as 2018, the Times reported.

Trump has waged his re-election campaign on his ability to stand up to China on issues from trade to human rights abuses in Xinjiang and political repression in Hong Kong as well as accountability for the spread of Covid-19. Under Trump, ties between China and the US have reached their lowest point in decades. The disclosures also come after Trump accused his opponent, Joe Biden, of being “weak on China” and described the Biden family as “selling out our country” to China. The Trump campaign has run attack ads against Biden’s son for having “inked a billion-dollar deal” with the government-owned Bank of China, allegations that have been not been substantiated.

[..] Trump has previously pursued an office tower project in Guangzhou in southern China that did not come to fruition. AFP reported in 2016 that the Trump Hotel Collection negotiated with the government owned electricity company, State Grid Corporation of China, to brand and manage a major development in Beijing, resulting in a deal worth up to $150 million over 15 years. Negotiations were put on hold after the state-owned enterprise became the focus of a corruption probe. A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Alan Garten told the Times that the company had “opened an account with a Chinese bank having offices in the United States in order to pay the local taxes”. “No deals, transactions or other business activities ever materialized and, since 2015, the office has remained inactive,” he said.

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“In Spain, for example, 83% of the 85,000 businesses that have collapsed since February employ fewer than five workers.”

Over Half Europe’s Small Firms Fear For Survival (R.)

Over half the small and medium-sized companies which together provide jobs for two-thirds of European workers fear for their survival in the coming 12 months, according to a survey released by management consultancy McKinsey on Thursday. The survey was conducted in August, before the current acceleration in new coronavirus cases across Europe that is forcing governments to impose new restrictions on activity and prompting speculation of fresh national lockdowns. The finding comes as warnings multiply of an impending wave of business insolvencies and as the IMF and others urge the region’s governments to double down on state support to help companies weather the coronavirus pandemic.


The McKinsey survey of more than 2,200 companies in five countries – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain – found that 55% expected to shut down by September next year if their revenues remained at current levels. At the current trajectory, one in 10 small and medium-sized companies were expected to file bankruptcy within six months. “This is a substantial burden on the financial sector,” report co-author Zdravko Mladenov said of just one of the knock-on impacts of such a development, which would also send jobless totals surging and stymie wider investment in the economy. [..] Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are defined as those with 250 or fewer employees. In Europe, they employ over 90 million people but their small size makes them vulnerable to cash flow crises. In Spain, for example, 83% of the 85,000 businesses that have collapsed since February employ fewer than five workers.

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It won’t just be New York. I’m talking in Athens about how to prepare.

Million New Yorkers Can’t Afford Food As Hunger Crisis Worsens (ZH)

In the seventh month of the virus pandemic, New York City is still in shambles, with more than half a million residents unemployed as the small business collapse continues. Broadway is closed, Manhattan offices are empty as remote work dominates, violent crime is surging, and an exodus of people from the city has created a perfect storm of economic chaos that will hunt many New Yorkers for years. A byproduct of the virus-induced economic downturn is food and housing insecurity for millions of people in the Tri-state area. Deep economic scarring produced by permanent job loss has left many people in a bind; some working-poor may never recover while others could take years.

Food and housing insecurity will be, or should be, a hot subject as millions in the Tri-state area are suffering ahead of the holidays. Readers may recall in early October, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey warned that more than one million New Jerseyans were expected to suffer food insecurity by the end of the year. Now the problem is becoming more widespread. At least one million New Yorkers are expected, or will soon, experience food insecurity, according to FOX 5 NY. Alexander Rapaport, the executive director of Masbia soup kitchen network, said, “We have done disasters before, but nothing is even close to what we are doing now,” referring to the long lines at food banks across the city is all too common.

Masbia is a nonprofit soup kitchen network and food pantry, with Borough Park and Flatbush locations in Brooklyn and Forest Hills in Queens. Rapaport said there had been a 500% increase in demand. In a separate report, NYT estimates the number of New Yorkers who are going hungry could be upwards of 1.5 million. Denise Allen, a mother who visits one of Masbia’s food banks, said: “I’m on a limited income. I visit every two to three weeks,” said Allen. Rapaport said, “there is so much need. So much so that for the last three days, Rapaport, his staff, and volunteers have been operating around the clock. All three locations are now open 24/7, feeding 1,500 families a day, but it is still not enough.” With demand high for food banks in the city, he said long lines have developed, which forced him to create an entirely new system in what he calls digital food bank lines. “You now have to make an appointment to pick up your box of food,” Rapaport said.

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“We’ve found that Trump rallies are super-spreader events since there’s a ton of people. Biden rallies are great for stopping the virus.”

Experts Recommend Maximizing Social Distance By Attending A Biden Rally (BBee)

Health experts across the globe are recommending a new strategy for maximizing your social distance: attending a Joe Biden rally. Officials say there’s no better place to be miles away from most other humans. “When you attend a Joe Biden rally, you’re very unlikely to get infected, since, you know, there’s no one else there,” said one CDC official. “We’ve found that Trump rallies are super-spreader events since there’s a ton of people. Biden rallies are great for stopping the virus. You just stand in the middle of a field while an old guy shouts from a podium hundreds of feet far away from you.”

“Plus, you can rest and relax. Get away from the busyness of modern life: attend a Biden rally. BIDEN-HARRIS 2020!” The health experts named several alternatives that are also acceptable for maximal social distancing, including attending a Biden boat parade, a Biden car parade, and a Nickelback concert.

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Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1965

 

Hunter Biden Story Is Russian Disinfo: Over 50 Former Intel Officials (Pol.)
The Damage Russiagate Has Done (Patrick Lawrence)
DNI: Hunter Biden Laptop Not Part Of Russian Disinformation Campaign (Turley)
MIT: Twitter Ban ‘Nearly Doubled’ Visibility Of Hunter Biden Laptop Story (DW)
Wikipedia Says Hunter Biden Scandal ‘Debunked’ (RT)
American Gothic Horror (Jim Kunstler)
The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead (NR)
Presidential Debate Commission Will Mute Mics During Final Debate (sundance)
The Politics of Restraint (RCW)
DC Lobbyists See Dollar Signs Under Potential Biden Win (ZH)
“Health Is About More Than Controlling The Virus” (Sky)
Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition About Sex Life Will Be Made Public (NYP)

 

 

Scott Adams

 

 

The damage these people are doing to their country is no longer measurable.

If it was the Russians, Biden could simply deny this is true. He hasn’t.

“Former intel officials sharing their “belief” that factual, embarrassing info about a Democrat candidate — which that candidate does not even deny — is all Russia’s fault has all the classic earmarks of a Russiagate disinformation operation.”


“They say they “want to emphasize…that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement” but that are “just…deeply suspicious” that Russia played a “significant role in this case.”

Hunter Biden Story Is Russian Disinfo: Over 50 Former Intel Officials (Pol.)

More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” The letter, signed on Monday, centers around a batch of documents released by the New York Post last week that purport to tie the Democratic nominee to his son Hunter’s business dealings. Under the banner headline “Biden Secret E-mails,” the Post reported it was given a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who said he got it from a Mac shop owner in Delaware who also alerted the FBI.

While the letter’s signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case” and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin’s hand at work. “If we are right,” they added, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.” Nick Shapiro, a former top aide under CIA director John Brennan, provided POLITICO with the letter on Monday. He noted that “the IC leaders who have signed this letter worked for the past four presidents, including Trump. The real power here however is the number of former, working-level IC officers who want the American people to know that once again the Russians are interfering.”

The former Trump administration officials who signed the letter include Russ Travers, who served as National Counterterrorism Center acting director; Glenn Gerstell, the former NSA general counsel; Rick Ledgett, the former deputy NSA director; Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired CIA senior operations officer; and Cynthia Strand, who served as the CIA’s deputy assistant director for global issues. Former CIA directors or acting directors Brennan, Leon Panetta, Gen. Michael Hayden, John McLaughlin and Michael Morell also signed the letter, along with more than three dozen other intelligence veterans. Several of the former officials on the list have endorsed Biden. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said on Monday that the information on Biden’s laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign,” though the FBI is reportedly conducting an ongoing investigation into whether Russia was involved.

[..] “We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement,” the letter reads. But, it continues, “there are a number of factors that make us suspicious of Russian involvement.” “Such an operation would be consistent with Russian objectives, as outlined publicly and recently by the Intelligence Community, to create political chaos in the United States and to deepen political divisions here but also to undermine the candidacy of former Vice President Biden and thereby help the candidacy of President Trump,” the letter reads.

Trump calls media criminal for not reporting on Joe Biden

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Excellent takedown.

The Damage Russiagate Has Done (Patrick Lawrence)

An inhabitant of Twitterland named “Willow Inski” took to the keyboard on Oct. 11, asking why anyone still accepts official accounts of the crucial theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta in the spring of 2016.

Excellently observed, Willow. And at just the right moment. At this point we are amid a frenzy of what Hannah Arendt called “defactualization” in a 1971 essay she titled “Lying in Politics.” Facts are fragile, Arendt astutely observed, because they can so easily be manipulated to produce a desired image. “It is this fragility,” she wrote, “that makes deception so very easy up to a point, and so tempting.”The latest example of this phenom concerns the emails of Hunter Biden, candidate Joe’s errant son, which persuasively incriminate both in very profitable influence-peddling schemes when Papa was Barack Obama’s veep. Nobody denies the facts as published last week in The New York Post, not even Biden père et fils, but the facts are once again mutilated with assertions that it is another case of the Rrrrrrussians spreading disinformation.

This is what we get after four years of the Russia collusion b.s., otherwise known as Russiagate. Anything goes if implicating Russia solves a political problem for the Democrats and keeps the war machine going for the Pentagon and the national security state. It defers the moment — at some point it will come — when the press is exposed for its radically stupid overinvestment in the Russiagate nonsense. The price America has already begun to pay is very high. Willow’s expression of perplexity comes after an especially lively season of revelations as regards what must count as the largest disinformation op in U.S. history. It is now six months since the Russiagate hoax — and I am fine with President Donald Trump’s term for it — began its final crash into a pile of piffle.

While it remains to be seen whether more evidence of political chicanery is coming, what evidence we already have is more than sufficient to identify Russiagate as the probable criminal fraud it was from the start. I am refreshed that Willow Inski, who describes herself as an “attorney, wife, mother, proud American,” sees through this extravagant ruse. And yet, as she notes, a lot of people don’t. A lot of people are “still taking at face value” all the misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies our newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters have purveyed incessantly for the past four years.

Why is a very large question. All possible answers are disturbing. But here is another big one we get to before that: When we consider together all its many consequences, has Russiagate destroyed what remained of American democracy before illiberal liberals, spooks, law enforcement, and the press colluded to erect the dreadful edifice? Your columnist’s answer rests on the most scrupulously precise definition of Russiagate one can manage: What we have witnessed these past four years is an attempted palace coup against a sitting president. Cold comfort it is that the gang that couldn’t shoot straight bungled the job. It has also created a Democratic default position: When wrongdoing by Democrats is credibly exposed, automatically blame Russia. Among much else, that has led to unnecessary tension with a nuclear power. This damage will long stay with us.

[..] In 1787, when he was our new nation’s minister in Paris, Jefferson wrote home to a friend that “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” We are stuck with a government without newspapers now, given the ties our press has consolidated its ties with political and bureaucratic power in the course of imposing the Russiagate ruse upon us. They only look like newspapers now.


Joe Biden, foreground, and son Hunter during inauguration of President Barack Obama, Jan. 20, 2009. (acaben, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

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Ratcliffe calls Schiff a liar.

DNI: Hunter Biden Laptop Not Part Of Russian Disinformation Campaign (Turley)

Recently, we discussed how House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff stated publicly that the recently disclosed laptop information from Hunter Biden was clearly part of a Russian intelligence operation. This morning, John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence, stated categorically that Hunter Biden’s laptop was not part of a Russian disinformation campaign. What is most notable is that Ratcliffe has stated that Schiff and his Committee were given that conclusion by the intelligence community. The incident has raised lingering criticism of Schiff who previously told the public that he had clear evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia after that allegation was rejected in repeated investigations, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Schiff never produced the incriminating evidence and later it was shown that the widely cited Steele dossier was based on a source who was considered to be a Russian agent. There is ample reason to suspicious about the timing of this disclosure. However, I have written that this serious concern is separate from the question of whether the emails are fabricated. The Biden campaign has not given the most obvious responses to such a scandal. It is important to keep in mind that Hillary Clinton and the DNC were actually hacked by Russian intelligence but the underlying emails were true. Schiff now finds himself, again, in the position of supporting a claim of evidence of Russian collusion. He will have to show that this laptop discovery was engineered by Russian intelligence. If the owner is speaking the truth, the computer was dropped off in April 2019 with the intent to be used in the 2020 campaign.

Ratcliffe stated in an interview that “it’s funny that some of the people that complained the most about intelligence being politicized are the ones politicizing intelligence and unfortunately in this case, it is Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who as you pointed out on Friday said that the intelligence community believes that Hunter Biden’s laptop and e-mails on it are part of some Russian disinformation campaign. Let me be clear, the intelligence community doesn’t believe that because there is no intelligence that supports and we shared no intelligence with chairman Schiff or any other member of Congress that Hunter Biden’s laptop is part of some Russian disinformation campaign. It’s simply not true.”

Ratcliffe accused Schiff of politicizing intelligence and stated “Don’t drag the intelligence community into this. Hunter Biden’s laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign and I think it’s clear the American people know that.” Schiff should explain the basis for his conclusion that this is part of a Russian disinformation campaign. Someone is clearly misrepresenting the intelligence and the public should know the basis for these irreconcilable statements.

Trump dumb bastards

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Streisand.

MIT: Twitter Ban ‘Nearly Doubled’ Visibility Of Hunter Biden Laptop Story (DW)

Twitter’s crackdown on a controversial New York Post story that “purported to show new emails from Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, about his business dealings while Joe Biden was the vice president in the Obama administration,” “nearly doubled” the story’s visibility and triggered the so-called “Streisand Effect,” amplifying the Post’s claims, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a high-profile media intelligence firm. “When Twitter banned, and then unbanned, links to a questionably sourced New York Post article about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, its stated intention was to prevent people from spreading harmful false material as America heads into the final stretch of the election campaign,” MIT’s Technology Review reported Monday.

“But thanks to the cycle of misinformation—and claims from conservatives that social-media platforms are deliberately censoring their views—Twitter managed to do the opposite of what it intended.” In fact, Twitter’s efforts triggered a massive spike in interest in the story. “According to Zignal Labs, a media intelligence firm, shares of the Post article ‘nearly doubled’ after Twitter started suppressing it,” MIT noted. The incident was a real-time example of what Zignal Lab’s calls the “Streisand Effect” — a “social phenomenon that occurs when an attempt to hide, remove or censor information has the unintended consequence of further publicizing that information, often via the Internet,” according to Wikipedia. The name comes from singer Barbra Streisand’s efforts, in 2003, to suppress a photo of her Malibu, California, residence over security concerns.

According to Zignal Labs, the effect was immediate and significant. “Zignal found a surge of shares immediately after Twitter instituted the block, jumping from about 5.5 thousand shares every 15 minutes to about 10 thousand. This doesn’t necessarily mean the block caused the explosion in interest, but the surge corresponds with a series of widely shared tweets from Trump supporters and conservatives accusing the platform of political censorship,” MIT noted Monday. “The New York Post story, which was blocked on Twitter for about a day, was shared 352,200 times on the platform,” they added.

Dobbs, Powell, Fitton, Solomon

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How you get your information.

Wikipedia Says Hunter Biden Scandal ‘Debunked’ (RT)

Allegations of corruption against ex-Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter have apparently been “debunked” and are merely a “conspiracy theory” according to Wikipedia, where editors are battling over the terms.
Hunter Biden was the subject of an explosive report last week as the New York Post published emails alleging that he involved his father in dodgy business dealings in Ukraine and China. While the story is still unfolding, the Wikipedia page for Hunter Biden simply states that “he and his father have been the subjects of debunked right-wing conspiracy theories pushed by [President] Donald Trump and his allies.” The curious framing was highlighted by conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong on Twitter on Tuesday.

Eight sources are listed for this one sentence, intending to support the view that any accusations of corruption against the Democratic presidential candidate and his son have already been proven false. In recent days, Wikipedia editors have been engaged in regular spats about the inclusion of the word “debunked.” The eighth source was added on Sunday by a frequent contributor to Biden’s son’s page, whose username is ‘Soibangla’. A regular editor of American political topics on Wikipedia, Soibangla was previously found tweaking pedophile sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s page, specifically to note that there is “no evidence” that he and former President Bill Clinton were “friends” – despite the ex-commander-in-chief traveling on the disgraced financier’s plane 26 times, according to flight logs.

Curiously, the same Soibangla is one of the top authors on a new Wikipedia page titled, ‘Biden–Ukraine conspiracy theory’. The page was created on October 15, the day after the Post published Hunter’s alleged email history. The article calls the controversy “a series of false allegations” and references an almost identical list of eight sources to back it up. A war over Hunter Biden’s page has been raging since December 2019, when the word ‘debunked’ was initially added in reference to the scandal involving the former VP’s role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who said he was investigating the Burisma gas company where Hunter sat on the board.

It kicked off again on September 30, when user ‘Php2000’ removed ‘debunked’, noting that “Sources state [Hunter Biden] was making 50,000 USD a month as a board member in Ukraine gas company. Hardly ‘debunked.’” Just two minutes later, according to the website’s timeline, editor ‘Billmckern’ reverted the change, adding, “it’s been debunked and we have consensus language here.” Php2000 once again deleted the word, explaining that Hunter Biden making a lot of money in Ukraine was a well-documented fact. “What exactly has been debunked?” they asked. “Read the references,” wrote Billmckern a mere four minutes later, once again restoring the controversial phrasing.

Veritas Big Tech

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“..trailing rather pathetically in the primary elections after being dubbed an old racist by his opponents, and drubbed in Iowa and New Hampshire, Joe somehow managed to sweep the table on Super Tuesday..”

American Gothic Horror (Jim Kunstler)

Now we know why Nancy Pelosi has been running around in a fright mask with her hair on fire, and it’s not just a ghoulish anticipation of Halloween. Her Democratic Party is in extremis. It is shot through with the cancer of falsehood and the wormholes of crime, acquired through decades of playing fast and loose with the machinery of government. Nancy has been informed and she remains stuck in the rage stage of the grief cycle. Somebody sent her a copy of that hard-drive. The thing she feared would not end well is actually turning out worse than she thought. I have a theory about Joe Biden: He didn’t want to run for president. Not one eensy-weensy bit.

He wanted a nice, quiet retirement with his fat government pension plus sundry millions that had somehow found its way into his bank account over the years. He had a fabulous $16-million gentleman’s estate to gambol upon with his beloved grandchildren. The developing brain-fog was actually a comfort, allowing him to forget the rigors of public service and all the tedious gathering of… honoraria, shall we say. But then they came for him…! The Party called. Rather specifically, his old Kemosabe, Barack Obama, called him in for that ominous sit-down and gave him the bad news: Joe, you’ve gotta run. Bernie, Liz, and the rest of those bozos, they won’t keep a lid on it. You’re in this thing as deep as we are and it’s getting a little hairy. You’ve got to do it for the sake of the party, and all our… friends….

And so, Joe Biden was shanghaied into running for president. He was given a bodyguard of news media, including those crucial new additions, the social media, Twitter and Facebook, where, increasingly, information was hubbed for transmission among the voters. They would protect him infallibly from any damaging narratives. In fact, they would generate powerful counter-narratives to keep their adversaries off-balance. If Joe could just roll with it until November 3rd, they could lay all their… problems… to rest, bury all that annoying insinuendo about the hobgoblin Deep State (ha!), and finally breathe easy.

And so, trailing rather pathetically in the primary elections after being dubbed an old racist by his opponents, and drubbed in Iowa and New Hampshire, Joe somehow managed to sweep the table on Super Tuesday — apparently due to the single, magical endorsement of one congressman James Clyburn (SC, 6th District), a narrative that was swallowed like a May River oyster by the credulous all over the land. And thus anointed, Joe retreated to his fabled basement for the whole election season, venturing intermittently into empty parking lots and airplane hangars to offer proof-of-life while a polling disinfo campaign by his media bodyguard vouchsafed his inevitable victory. Looked like a sure thing in September… pack up all my cares and woe… and so forth….

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The pic is on Wisconsin only.

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead (NR)

Much of Trafalgar’s approach focuses on accounting for the so-called social-desirability bias. As Cahaly puts it, that’s when a respondent gives you “an answer that is designed to make the person asking the question be less judgmental of the person who answers it.” Cahaly notes that this phenomenon showed up as long ago as the 1980s, in the so-called Bradley effect, when the African-American mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, underperformed his polling in a gubernatorial race. It has been a hallmark of the Trump era and is one reason other pollsters missed the impending victory of Ron DeSantis over Andrew Gillum in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race. “I’ve got to get past what you want to say in public and get to what you really feel,” Cahaly says. “Because what’s in your heart is going to be what’s on that ballot.”

There are a number of methodological differences in how Trafalgar goes about its work. One is the number of questions on its surveys. “I don’t believe in long questionnaires,” Cahaly says. “I think when you’re calling up Mom or Dad on a school night, and they’re trying to get the kids dinner and get them to bed, and that phone rings at seven o’clock — and they’re supposed to stop what they’re doing and take a 25- to 30-question poll? No way.” Why does that matter? “You end up disproportionately representing the people who will like to talk about politics, which is going to skew toward the very, very conservative and the very, very liberal and the very, very bored, “Cahaly explains. “And the kind of people that win elections are the people in the middle. So I think they miss people in the middle when they do things that way.”

According to Cahaly, most polls are more than 25 questions. He keeps it between seven and nine, so respondents can answer in a matter of minutes. Then there is how the questions are asked. “We do not like to do all live calls,” Cahaly says. This goes back to the social-desirability bias. People with opinions that are unpopular “don’t want to be judged by somebody on the phone that they don’t know.” If this was always true, it’s particularly so now: “They’ve seen all this stuff of people being shamed for their opinion, people losing their jobs.” So Trafalgar mixes up how it contacts people, and especially wants respondents to feel safe in responding.

“We use collection methods of live calls, auto calls, texts, emails, and a couple that we call our proprietary digital technology that we don’t explain, but it’s also digital,” Cahaly says. The point, he continues, is to “really push the anonymous part — this is your anonymous say-so.” Another factor, is that “conservatives are less likely to participate in polls in general,” he says. “We see a five-to-one refusal rate among conservatives.” That means “you’ve got to work very hard to get a fair representation of conservatives, when you do any kind of a survey.”

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So Joe can read his teleprompter and listen to his wires in peace.

Presidential Debate Commission Will Mute Mics During Final Debate (sundance)

In yet another transparent effort to support Joe Biden, the presidential debate commission has announced they will mute microphones during the two minute answer sessions as part of a strategy to assist the promotion of disinformation. (Via New York Post) “The Commission on Presidential Debates has decided to mute microphones to allow each candidate the opportunity for uninterrupted remarks during this week’s final forum. The mute button will be featured at the start of each 15-minute segment during opening comments, according to the commission. After that time, both mics will be turned on without a mute option to enable debate.” The Trump campaign responds:

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Feels like wishful thinking.

The Politics of Restraint (RCW)

During this election season, there is much discussion around the increasing polarization of the American electorate. While these conversations can seem overwrought, there is clear data showing an increasing divide on issues like race relations and the economy. However, on foreign policy, the American people are more united. There is an increasingly shared belief across party lines that the United States needs to end its endless wars and adventurism abroad. Based on a bevy of recent polls and research, American voters will likely reward candidates who support foreign policy restraint, while punishing those who advocate for the maintenance of a failed status quo.

For most of the post-9/11 era, the conventional wisdom reinforced by the political pundits and the consultant class was that foreign policy hawkishness was a political strength. Even politicians such as President Barack Obama, who owed part of his political success to opposing the Iraq War, still felt the need to show hawkishness regarding other military conflicts. The perceived political incentives contributed to Obama ignoring the lessons of the Iraq War and initiating the disastrous intervention in Libya in 2011, along with the failed surge of American forces in Afghanistan from 2009-2012. A lack of significant political accountability by Republicans — who only seemed to try to “out-hawk” Obama — in the 2012 election for these failures reinforced the notion that support for primacy abroad was the politically safe position.

That conventional wisdom reigned into the early days of the 2016 election, but was shattered by two candidates, one during each major party’s primaries. In the Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders gave the presumptive nominee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an unexpectedly strong challenge. Sanders has been a consistent critic of American foreign policy in the Middle East, while Clinton supported the Iraq War and the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. While Sanders did not make foreign policy the centerpiece of his campaign in 2016, his record on those issues further strengthened his appeal with the progressive left, which is traditionally wary of military intervention.

More so than Sanders, Donald Trump completely upended the conventional wisdom around what a candidate needed to say on foreign policy to win. During the 2016 Republican primary, Trump frequently and aggressively criticized America’s wars in the Middle East. During a primary debate in South Carolina, Trump excoriated former President George W. Bush for invading Iraq, and for his administration’s lies about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Prominent Republican pundits criticized Trump’s remarks and claimed that his comments would hurt his chances in South Carolina, a state heavily populated by military service members and veterans who were thought to be more hawkish.

Yet Trump easily won the South Carolina primary and the Republican nomination. During the general election, while by no means portraying himself as a dove, Trump would continue his criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while tying Clinton to America’s broader failures in the Middle East. This messaging likely played a key role in Trump’s 2016 general election victory. According to research conducted by two political scientists following the 2016 election, Trump’s perception as the less interventionist candidate among voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin likely drove his victory in those critical states.

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They’ll win either way.

DC Lobbyists See Dollar Signs Under Potential Biden Win (ZH)

DC lobbyists are licking their chops at the prospect of a Biden win in November, as a flood of new regulations means they’ll have their work cut out for them. “There is a huge amount of planning going on in our client base for what this could look like,” according to Holland & Knight LLP lobbyist, Rich Gold. “It’s highly likely the first six months of 2021 are some of the biggest legislative months I will have in my career in terms of things moving.” Gold represents the American Chemistry Council, education technology provider Zovio, Inc., agriculture giant Corteva and several local governments. According to Bloomberg, K Street lobbyists began planning for major changes when polling began to show former Vice President Biden leading President Trump, as well as the possibility that Democrats would regain control of the Senate.

“Not since 2008, when President George W. Bush was leaving the White House, have lobbyists planned for the possibility of so sweeping a change in Washington’s corridors of power,” writes Bloomberg’s Jennifer Dlouhy and Ben Brody. “The presidential race remains tight in key states and the firms remain vigilant for another Trump victory like the one that caught many by surprise in 2016. But they are hedging their bets and increasingly planning around Biden’s polling lead. One firm is developing dossiers on potential appointees, selling them to clients under the maxim “people are policy.” Another has created flow charts outlining possible committee leadership changes on Capitol Hill. And at least one group has established a war room to brainstorm strategies for countering policy proposals. -Bloomberg

One oil lobbyist told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity that the election would be a “rack-and-stack” exercise when it comes to the multitude of actions the Biden administration could undertake, while a Democratic sweep of the Senate has caused many lobbyists to begin cultivating relationships with moderate Democrats, including Jon Tester of Montana, Kyrsten Sinema of Zrizona, and Joe Machin of West Virginia.

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Headline was about hospitals running out of beds, but the numbers cast doubt on that. The headline I gave is from the mayor of Manchester.

“It’s not unusual for 80% to 85% of ICU beds to be in use at this time of year..” “.. the NHS usually say they’re “at capacity” when they hit 85%, not 100% of beds filled.”

“Health Is About More Than Controlling The Virus” (Sky)

Stalemate seems to remain in negotiations about tougher restrictions for Greater Manchester, as hospitals in the region run low on beds to treat coronavirus patients. [..] data from the Greater Manchester Critical Care Network (GMCCN) suggested some of the region’s 12 hospitals were running out of space on Friday. It also showed the Royal Bolton Hospital was running at 94% capacity .The figures show hospitals across Greater Manchester are operating at an average of 82% capacity. The NHS said in a statement: “We are monitoring the situation with our hospital admissions, overall beds and ITU beds very, very closely.


The figures showed the Stepping Hill Hospital and the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust were operating at full capacity.”It’s not unusual for 80% to 85% of ICU beds to be in use at this time of year and our hospitals work together if there are particular pressures in any one area, to ensure the best care for patients who need the high level of support ICU provides, both for COVID and for other reasons.” A source at the GMCCN told Sky News the NHS usually say they’re “at capacity” when they hit 85%, not 100% of beds filled.

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Will they still label her a “socialite” after reading this, or will she get a new label?

Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition About Sex Life Will Be Made Public (NYP)

A federal appeals court Monday ordered the unsealing of a deposition related to Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex life — after the defense fought tooth and nail to keep it secret. A three-judge panel from the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals issued the brief, two-page ruling after hearing arguments on the matter last week. “We cannot conclude that the District Court abused its discretion in ordering the unsealing of the deposition materials,” the panel wrote. It’s unclear when the documents will be released. The seven-hour, 418-page deposition is from testimony Maxwell gave in April 2016 in a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit filed against her by Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre. In the interview, Maxwell made statements about “consensual, and intimate conduct with other adults,” according to court papers. US District Judge Loretta Preska, who is overseeing the litigation over the release of the materials, had ordered the documents unsealed in July, but Maxwell’s lawyers had appealed the decision.

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Ted Cruz

 

 

 

 

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