Rembrandt van Rijn Old Man Sitting 1631
Trump has long known that it makes no difference what he says or does, everything will be presented in a form that can be used against him anyway. If he says: don’t be afraid of it, the media will tell everyone to be very afraid.
There’s only one exception: if he would start a war. Let’s hope he doesn’t fall into that trap.
US national debt
Media reaction: be afraid! And: don’t let Trump dominate you! Bit late for that now.
President Trump on Monday night released a new video message in which he urged Americans to be cautious but not fear the coronavirus or allow it to consume their lives. “I just left Walter Reed Medical Center and it’s really something very special, the doctors, the nurses, the first responders, and I learned so much about coronavirus,” the president said. “And one thing that’s for certain: Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re gonna beat it. We have the best medical equipment. We have the best medicines, all developed recently.” “I went, I didn’t feel so good. And two days ago, I could’ve left two days ago. Two days ago I felt great, like better than I have in a long time. I said just recently, better than 20 years ago,” Trump said.
“I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. And I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger, but that’s ok. And now I’m better, and maybe I’m immune, I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives. Get out there. Be careful. We have the best medicines in the world and it all happened very shortly and they’re all getting approved. And the vaccines are coming momentarily,” the president said. President Trump on Monday evening departed Walter Reed Medical Center, where he had been staying since Friday evening, and returned to the White House.
Based on what information?
The World Health Organization estimated Monday that roughly 1 in 10 people worldwide have been infected by the novel coronavirus – more than 20 times the number of confirmed cases. The estimate was made by Dr. Michael Ryan, who leads the WHO’s emergencies division, during a session with the group’s 34-member executive board He said that the number was his “best estimates” and that “the vast majority of the world remains at risk.” He also said “many deaths have been averted and many more lives can be protected.” The new estimate from the WHO would indicate that 760 million people worldwide have been infected with the novel virus, a number far surpassing the currently reported 35 million confirmed cases. Ryan also said that the group is getting reports of a surge of cases in Asia and Europe. The doctor cautioned that the world may now be “heading into a difficult period. The disease continued to spread. It is on the rise in many parts of the world.”
Are these people trying to clarify something, or just to confuse me? What of this didn’t we already know?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its coronavirus guidance Monday, acknowledging that it can sometimes spread through airborne particles that can “linger in the air for minutes to hours” and among people who are more than 6 feet apart. The CDC cited published reports that demonstrated “limited, uncommon circumstances where people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the COVID-19-positive person left an area.” “In these instances, transmission occurred in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces that often involved activities that caused heavier breathing, like singing or exercise,” the CDC said in a statement. “Such environments and activities may contribute to the buildup of virus-carrying particles.”
The agency added that it is “much more common” for the virus to spread through larger respiratory droplets that are produced when somebody coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes. People are infected through such droplets mostly when they are in close contact with an infected person, the CDC said. “CDC’s recommendations remain the same based on existing science and after a thorough technical review of the guidance,” the agency said. “People can protect themselves from the virus that causes COVID-19 by staying at least 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth, washing their hands frequently, cleaning touched surfaces often and staying home when sick.” To what degree the coronavirus can spread through airborne particles has been a contentious debate among scientists for months.
Some epidemiologists have charged that the World Health Organization as well as federal regulatory agencies in many countries have been slow to accept that the virus can spread by air. It’s a debate that could have implications for the importance of air filtration in reopening businesses and schools. Dr. Bill Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, said the new guidance is largely in line with what he says the science indicates about the coronavirus spreading through the air. He said in a phone interview after reviewing the new guidance that airborne transmission is something of a “side street” for spread. “Some cars do get through on the side street,” he said. “But the highways of transmission are close in, usually within enclosed spaces and for periods of time longer than 15 minutes with people standing within three to six feet of each other.”
[..] Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist and biodefense expert at the University of Arizona, said the new CDC guidance is “quite good.” She added that “the term airborne means so much to so many people,” and the guidance does a good job of emphasizing that the virus appears to only spread by air in certain environments, such as crowded indoor and poorly ventilated spaces. “We know that these events are occurring, but they’re not the primary driver,” she said in a phone interview. “This is a good reminder that there are environments that are higher risk for airborne transmission and we just need to communicate that.”
Running out the clock. Trump picked the wrong people in many high positions.
CIA Director Gina Haspel is personally blocking the declassification and release of key Russiagate documents in the hopes that President Donald Trump will lose his re-election bid, multiple senior U.S. officials told The Federalist. The officials said Haspel, who served under former CIA Director John Brennan as the spy agency’s station chief in London in 2016 and 2017, is concerned that the declassification and release of documents detailing what the CIA was doing during the 2016 election and the 2017 transition could embarrass the CIA and potentially even implicate Haspel herself. “Haspel and [FBI Director Christopher] Wray both want Trump to lose, because it’s the only chance they have of keeping their jobs,” one senior intelligence official told The Federalist.
“They’re banking on Biden winning and keeping them where they are.” The Federalist first reported last week that Haspel had emerged as the primary roadblock to declassification of materials showing that the U.S. intelligence community knew prior to the 2016 election that the allegations that Trump colluded with Russia were themselves the products of Russian disinformation. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe released a declassified summary last week that disclosed that Russian intelligence officials were aware that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had planned to smear Trump as a treasonous Russian asset to distract from the Clinton’s e-mail scandal. As part of her operation, Clinton hired a foreign agent who was himself working for a sanctioned Russian oligarch to spread unverified smears against Trump.
One of the key sources of collusion allegations peddled by that foreign agent via the now-infamous Steele dossier was suspected by FBI authorities of being a Russian spy.“It’s far more important for Haspel to block any embarrassment of herself or her agency than to have full transparency and accountability,” another senior intelligence official told The Federalist. “She’s just hoping she can get past the election so the documents will never come out.” “This is not a source protection issue, it’s an embarrassment issue,” the intelligence official added. Officials also accused Haspel of repeatedly lying to the White House about the status of documents that are in the pipeline for declassification and release. These officials said that Haspel has consistently provided baseless excuses for her failure to produce certain documents, falsely claiming that she can’t physically locate documents, or that her agency doesn’t technically own them and therefore cannot release them.
New: refusing to testify by video because of coronavirus.
Former Trump 2016 campaign adviser Carter Page says former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should be subpoenaed to testify Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, after backing out over coronavirus concerns. “Hopefully a subpoena is issued today,” Page told “Just the News AM” host Carrie Sheffield. “It’s now Monday morning, and I hope that is resolved so that he can show up and be held to account and answer for these terrible problems that were created.” McCabe was set to testify before the committee on the FBI’s now-discredited Trump-Russia probe.
However, the committee postponed the hearing over McCabe’s coronavirus concerns, after two GOP members, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), tested positive for the virus in recent days. McCabe’s attorney said the alternative, to testify remotely via video camera, would be too complex and contentious. “I think it’s another example of the complete double standards,” said Page. “So many Trump supporters including myself, were dragged in front of not only the U.S. Senate, which is what’s in question here, but the House.” Page, on whom the FBI illegally eavesdropped, also expressed frustration about being a target in special counsel Robert Mueller’s years-long collusion probe.
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed it was wrong to demand assurances on how justices will vote. In her confirmation hearing in 1993, she refused to give the answer that Blumenthal, Gillibrand, Sanders, Clinton, and others now demand from her potential successor.”
[..] the call for a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees and the packing of the Supreme Court with up to six new members to secure a majority. Both ideas were expressly denounced by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Indeed, to achieve these objectives, the Democratic members will have to tear down the very rule established by Ginsburg in her confirmation hearing. The refusal of Vice President Joe Biden to answer repeated questions about his position on the packing of the Supreme Court is deeply troubling. This is a proposal raised not by the Republicans but his own running mate Kamala Harris and leading Democrats. It would destroy the Supreme Court and voters should know if Biden would consider such an irresponsible act, particularly when he previously denounced it.
The refusal to stand against the proposal is a fundamental failure of leadership. Rather than confront the most extreme elements of his party, Biden has chosen to remain silent on a major issue in this election. Frankly, that is not the Biden that many of us knew from his time in the Senate. He should take a stand against this pernicious idea and defend the institution, as he did in 2019 [..] Subtlety has been a stranger to our politics. This is the age of rage, and there is little room for nuance. That is evident in the intense debate over the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Democrats have dispensed with any pretense in their calls to block her and pack the bench with more justices. What they want is a Supreme Court with litmus test confirmations where Senate votes are conditioned on pledges.
Several Democrats have said they will ask Barrett about her view of any challenge to Roe versus Wade, and cases like the pending challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, she faced such demands from Richard Blumenthal and others for her confirmation as a federal appellate judge, and several Democrats voted against her since she did not promise to uphold Roe. In their campaigns last year, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders pledged to nominate only those who would uphold Roe. [..] Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed it was wrong to demand assurances on how justices will vote. In her confirmation hearing in 1993, she refused to give the answer that Blumenthal, Gillibrand, Sanders, Clinton, and others now demand from her potential successor. In calling to protect the legacy of Ginsburg, these politicians have to first tear down the Ginsburg rule.
“..a keening wail of lamentation rings out across the land at Mr. Trump’s possible, dastardly recovery. How dare he! — to paraphrase Saint Greta Thunberg.”
CNN had a whack attack. Brian Stelter was beside himself, hinting that sinister forces had punked the network, and all the other righteous Resistance cadres, and that Mr. Trump could be endangering every federal employee down to the enlisted men posted overseas by venturing from his sickroom. The New York Times went farther afield (of course), declaring that “the murky and shifting narrative of his illness was rewritten again with grim new details.” Nicely put by an outfit that has come to specialize in shifting narratives! And indeed, the new Resistance narrative demands to know just exactly when did the president start to feel ill? Did he, perhaps on-purpose, haul his ailing, hulking, scheming Golem ass into the Cleveland debate venue with the hope of infecting his rival, delicate Ol’ White Joe Biden?
Did he recklessly put at risk the White House staff, dignitaries and luminaries coming and going, their family members, associates, underlings, servants, children? Did he threaten the global order, world peace, the fate of humanity? So now, a keening wail of lamentation rings out across the land at Mr. Trump’s possible, dastardly recovery. How dare he! — to paraphrase Saint Greta Thunberg. 209,000 other Americans died, and not him! What vile and unholy devices got him out of a sure death sentence? No doubt Democratic Party astrologasters and consulting augurers will be searching for clues among the orbiting planets and the spilled organs of sacrificed chickens in the days to come. Perhaps Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) can snare a few of the president’s attending physicians into his House Intel Committee and rev up another impeachment for going against doctors’ orders.
Wouldn’t that be a delectable counter to the looming confirmation process for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement next door in the Senate this month? Over his dead body, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is hinting — a tantalizing prospect, with Covid-19 on the loose. It was Chuck who memorably told Rachel Maddow of MSNBC in 2017 that the Deep State “has six ways from [sic] Sunday at getting back at you.” By my count, they’re well over their allotted six by now. Not only did they all fail, but the seditionists behind them are liable to wind up behind bars before this is all over, perhaps even a few of Senator Schumer’s colleagues.
Many stories developing. A mess overall. Seemingly impossible to regulate on a federal level.
In 2018, Democrats won three of Iowa’s four congressional districts, picked up five seats in the state House, and lost the governor’s race by less than 3 points. The state has only trended more Democratic since, giving the party real hope that its six electoral votes could wind up in the camp of Joe Biden and that its Senate seat, now held by Republican Joni Ernst, could flip to Democrat Theresa Greenfield. It may all hinge, however, on an absentee ballot snafu affecting tens of thousands of voters that the party is scrambling to rectify. In July, the top elections officials in Linn and Johnson counties went ahead and began mailing out absentee-ballot request forms with some voter information already filled in, like names and dates of birth.
Crucially, voters need to know their voter ID number. Most don’t, and Linn County Auditor Joel Miller had the state’s vendor fill it in for them. Republicans protested, and courts sided with the GOP, saying that Miller’s decision to proceed with the mailing violated a “clear directive” from Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate. More than 100,000 absentee ballot requests have already been invalidated in several Iowa counties. In late August, judges ordered two Iowa counties to invalidate at least 64,000 ballot requests, siding with a challenge brought by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the GOP, which have been filing similar lawsuits nationwide.
About 50,000 voters in Linn County and at least 14,000 in Woodbury will be informed that their absentee-ballot requests won’t count and that anyone who still wants to vote by mail in November will have to send in a new form in order to receive their ballot. In a separate case in Johnson County, home to the University of Iowa, more than 92,000 ballot request forms were voided.
The ultimate growth industry.
Earlier this year, the pandemic swept across the country, killing 100,000 Americans by the spring, shuttering businesses and schools, and forcing people into their homes. It was a great time to be a debt collector. In August, Encore Capital, the largest debt buyer in the country, announced that it had doubled its previous record for earnings in a quarter. It primarily had the CARES Act to thank: The bill delivered hundreds of billions of dollars worth of stimulus checks and bulked-up unemployment benefits to Americans, while easing pressures on them by halting foreclosures, evictions and student loan payments. There was no ban on collections of old credit card bills, Encore’s specialty.
At the same time, the pandemic compelled households to cut spending. Finding themselves with enough money to settle old debts, people responded to collectors’ calls and letters. Debt-buying executives couldn’t help marveling at their good fortune. All this created “a perfect storm from a cash perspective,” the CEO of Portfolio Recovery Associates, Encore’s main competitor, told Wall Street analysts. After its record second quarter, analysts expect Encore to blow past $200 million in profit this year and reward stockholders with 40% earnings growth compared with last year. Portfolio Recovery is set for similar growth. The share prices of both have soared off their early April lows.
[..] In recent months, the only real bad news for debt buyers was that local courts across the country temporarily shut down. Debt collection lawsuits provide a key source of revenue for the companies, a way to extract payment from consumers, typically low-income, who don’t offer it up. But now even that hiccup is over. After a bit of a lull in the spring, Encore and other debt buyers are back at it, filing suits by the thousands every week, according to ProPublica’s analysis of state court filings. In August alone, Encore filed about 1,000 suits in Indiana and over 2,000 suits in the metro Atlanta area. Other debt buyers jumped back in as well. In Chicago, Portfolio Recovery filed over 3,000 suits in July, while LVNV, a major debt buyer privately owned by Sherman Financial Group, filed over 2,700 suits in Maryland in August.
Might as well leave right now.
Social media giant Facebook has decided against appointing a Turkey representative, defying a requirement placed on certain social media platforms by the Turkish government, cyber rights expert Yaman Akdeniz said on Monday. “Facebook has decided not to appoint a Turkey representative in line with (Turkey’s) newly-passed Social Media Law,’’ Akdeniz said on Twitter. In July, Turkish parliament ratified a bill introducing new powers to control social media. The bill was passed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), stipulates that social media companies with more than one million users must appoint a legal representative in Turkey to address the authorities’ concerns over content and includes deadlines for its removal.
Akdeniz said it remains to be seen what the government’s reaction would be, but underlined that the bill was passed by parliament in a period of 10 days without consultation and posed serious problems regarding basic rights and freedoms. Facebook’s refusal to comply with the law would mean they will be faced with “a tiered penalty system,’’ Akdeniz said. “They will be slapped with a penalty of 10 million lira ($1.28 million) in November, followed by 30 million lira in December,’’ he said. “There is a six-month period ahead that leads all the way to the reduction of Internet bandwidth.’’ According to the law, companies could face fines, blocked advertisements or have their bandwidth slashed by up to 90 percent.
Did that coup fail or what?
United Kingdom court has handed the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro a major win today, overturning a previous ruling from a lower court that legitimized the British government’s decision to freeze Venezuelan government gold reserves held in the Bank of England. The English Court of Appeal ruled that the Conservative administration of Boris Johnson’s position that Juan Guaidó is the country’s legitimate ruler was far from equivocal, potentially paving the way for some $1.95 billion of the Central Bank of Venezuela’s gold to be accessed.
Following President Trump’s lead, in July, the U.K. government took the extraordinary step of derecognizing President Maduro in favor of the self-declared Guaidó, despite the fact that for nearly six months, he had not even been a member of his Popular Will party, let alone its leader. The move was labeled “highway robbery” by supporters of the Venezuelan government. A nearly unheard of politician before his ascension to the role of head of the Venezuelan National Assembly (a post given out on a yearly rotational basis among all parties in the institution) in January 2019, Guaidó shocked the country by using his appointment to unilaterally declare himself president of the country. He then led a series of coup attempts throughout 2019 and 2020, the last of which involved paying Trump-linked American mercenaries to shoot their way into the presidential palace.
However, the plan ended in complete disaster, with the Americans subsequently sentenced to 20 years of prison time. Guaidó based his claim to power on Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution, which allows a president to be removed if he “abandons his position” or becomes “permanently unavailable to serve” for whatever reason. Maduro, however, had clearly not left his post. Regardless, if he had, Article 233 states that the vice-president would take charge until a new election by universal suffrage was held. Guaidó’s party was not even registered to stand in elections, having boycotted them the year previously under U.S. orders.
They’ve done a lot of harm though.
“Once the majority do it, you really have no choice,” Mr Macfarlane said..”
Former Reserve Bank of Australia governor Ian Macfarlane says cutting interest rates to near zero has not done “any good” and warned ultra-loose monetary policy will have long-term costs for pensioners and insurance companies. In a very rare public critique of the RBA by a former governor, Mr Macfarlane said technology and globalisation were now more powerful forces than interest rates in affecting inflation, but central bankers were reluctant to admit their limitations. “I’ve been disappointed with the recent cuts in interest rates, all of them since about 2015,” Mr Macfarlane said. “The latest round of cutting interest rates and quantitative easing, I myself don’t think they’ve done any good.
“I thought, ‘wow, you didn’t need to do that’ but I don’t think there’s any way my successors could have stood there and said to the world ‘we’re not going to do that, we’re going to do it our way’.” The Australian dollar would have jumped “through the roof” if the RBA refused to follow other central banks cutting interest rates to near-zero, to buy government bonds and deploy other extraordinary monetary stimulus, he said. “Once the majority do it, you really have no choice,” Mr Macfarlane said in long interview on The Jolly Swagman podcast. Mr Macfarlane, RBA governor from 1996 to 2006, said there would be long-term economic costs of prolonged ultra-low interest rates.
“I think the jury is out on monetary policy for another decade or more because there are very big costs to having almost zero interest rates,” he said. “The whole retirement income industry – the pension funds, the superannuation funds, including insurance companies and businesses like that – don’t quite know how to operate with interest rates that are negligible because they’ve never had to do it before.” [..] “Monetary policy hasn’t lost its power, it’s used up all its power and there isn’t any more room.”
Perhaps John should have seen a shrink.
Former software guru and one-time presidential candidate John McAfee has been nabbed in Spain on tax evasion and cryptocurrency fraud, ending his year long stint as a globetrotting fugitive. He now faces extradition to the US. The US Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission both announced charges for McAfee on Monday, hitting the security software founder with 10 counts linked to dodging the IRS and another series of charges for promoting investments in cryptocurrencies without disclosing that he was paid some $23 million to do so. “John McAfee earned millions in income from promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary,” the DOJ said in a statement. “From 2014 to 2018, McAfee allegedly failed to file tax returns, despite receiving considerable income from these sources.”
McAfee was charged on five counts for willful failure to file a tax return, each of which carries a sentence of up to one year in prison, while the other five charges are linked to tax evasion itself, which could each result in up to five years behind bars. Originally filed in June, the newly unsealed indictment does not implicate McAfee’s former software company, which bears his name. The SEC also accused McAfee of promoting “multiple [initial coin offerings] on Twitter” while “pretending to be impartial and independent even though he was paid more than $23 million in digital assets for the promotions.” The complaint also alleges that McAfee and his bodyguard, Jimmy Watson Jr., engaged in a separate scheme to promote cryptocurrencies on Twitter and then sell them off as their price rose. The government did not name the particular currencies in its complaint.
What could have been.
A nurse working at Walter Reed Medical Center checked in on Trump but was shocked to discover his room was empty. She looked out the window, and sure enough, he had tied bedsheets together and escaped. Just then, the nurse noticed a cup of Diet Coke left by the bedside began to ripple and shake. “Oh, no,” she murmured. “Not again!” Looking out the window, she saw a speck on the horizon. A rapidly growing speck. It was Trump, gloriously flying by in an F-22 fighter jet. “Sorry, Pence — but it’s time to buzz the tower!” Trump radioed to his wingman, who flashed him a smile and a thumbs-up. He flew by the hospital and waved to his cheering supporters.
“America!” the president cried as he flew by the ecstatic crowd, though they couldn’t hear him over the roar of the fighter jet’s engines. “I feel the need — the need for speed!” Media condemned the move, saying Trump could very well have spread COVID to every person on the planet with his little stunt, though he was all alone in a tiny cockpit far above the ground.
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