Jun 192021
 


Vincent van Gogh The sower 1888

 

Why Has “Ivermectin” Become a Dirty Word? (Taibbi)
Feds Now See the Need for Funding Antivirals (TSN)
What If The Mainstream Media Had Told The Truth? (PF Whalen)
AstraZeneca Vaccine Not Good Enough to See ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ (NM)
‘I’d Rather Die Actually Living’: Buffalo Bills’ Wide Receiver (G.)
EU Regulator Won’t Impose 50% Efficacy Threshold For Covid-19 Vaccines (RT)
Only 41.9% Of French Nursing Home Workers Vaccinated (RT)
Greece Bioethics Committee To Green-light Mandatory Vaccinations (K.)
Dying Of Covid-19 Has Become Optional In Russia (RT)
Will US Meet Biden’s Vaccine Goal? (ZH)
Chinese Defector’s Identity Confirmed, Was Top Counterintelligence Official (RS)
Democracy Dies at the Washington Post Editorial Board (MPN)
Who Is A “Terrorist” In Biden’s America? (Whitney Webb)
Questions About the FBI’s Role in 1/6 (Greenwald)
Free At Last (Jim Kunstler)

 

 

 

 

Positive test does NOT mean infected with SARS-CoV-2….
It means one or multiple target genes of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, that has never been purely isolated, showed a hit after immense amplification.
But what is SARS-CoV-2 besides a computersimulation?

 

 

Experimental

 

 

Taibbi should ask not only “Why Has “Ivermectin” Become a Dirty Word?” but also “When Has “Ivermectin” Become a Dirty Word?”. And then apologize to his readers for completely missing the story for a year, or at least the half year it’s been since Kory’s Senate testimony -which he talks about- was cancelled.

Why Has “Ivermectin” Become a Dirty Word? (Taibbi)

One of the challenges of the pandemic period is the degree to which science has become intertwined with politics. Arguments about the efficacy of mask use or ventilators, or the viability of repurposed drugs like hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin, or even the pandemic’s origins, were quashed from the jump in the American commercial press, which committed itself to a regime of simplified insta-takes made opposite to Donald Trump’s comments. With a few exceptions, Internet censors generally tracked with this conventional wisdom, which had the effect of moving conspiracy theories and real scientific debates alike far underground. A consequence is that issues like the ivermectin question have ended up in the same public bucket as debates over foreign misinformation, hate speech, and even incitement.

The same Republican Senator YouTube suspended for making statements in support of ivermectin, Ron Johnson, has also been denounced in the press for failing to call the January 6th riots an insurrection, resulting in headlines that blend the two putative offenses. “You have these ideas about the need to censor hate speech, calls for violence, and falsity,” Kory says, “and they’ve put science on the same shelf.” As a result, doctors and organizations that may have little to do with politics but have advocated for ivermectin, from Dr. Tess Lawrie’s British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (BIRD) to California pulmonologist Roger Seheult to many others, have been shut down online with the same unilateral abruptness platforms apply to hate speech or threats.

Dr. Sabine Hazan, a gastroenterologist and CEO of a genetic sequencing laboratory called ProGenaBiome in Ventura, California, was blindsided. She got involved with ivermectin when she was pulling out the stops for Covid-19 patients. “I’m a doctor. My job isn’t to do nothing. If I wanted to do nothing, I’d be selling shampoo,” Hazan says. When patients got really sick, she tried everything, treating off-label with a number of drugs in combination, including ivermectin. Eventually, she ended up taking it upon herself to run clinical trials with repurposed, off-patent drugs like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, fearing that the lack of a profit angle would prevent a major corporate effort in that direction.

“I felt, no one is going to be investigating a cheap solution, so I did it myself,” she says. Some weeks ago, Hazan got up early on a Sunday to present findings to a group of physicians that included Dr. Kylie Wagstaff, one of the physicians in the first in vitro ivermectin study, a family doctor in Zimbabwe named Jackie Stone, and others. She uploaded the talk on YouTube, and “lo and behold, it got taken down. It’s amazing. These are doctors talking. It’s not anyone selling anything.”

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And Trial Site News should not pretend they invented the wheel.

Feds Now See the Need for Funding Antivirals (TSN)

After over a year of TrialSite reporting on the need for early-onset, antiviral-like care for COVID-19, now the U.S. government will launch a mini “moonshot” targeting antivirals necessary not only for viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 but for the inevitable new ones that will surface in the future. Powered by the same players—that is, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) as well as the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)—under the current Executive Branch administration, a new program under Dr. Anthony Fauci’s NIAID called the “Antiviral Program for Pandemics” will target the 90% of cases involving either asymptomatic to mild-to-moderate SARS-CoV-2 infection.

But now with a focus on “sustainable platforms” to discover and develop antivirals, perhaps one of the key players in what’s been a total failure on the part of the federal research apparatus to address affordable repurposed antivirals (other than ensure Gilead could secure billions starting last May), Dr. Anthony Fauci was still able to get his customary quote, emphasizing, “New antivirals that prevent serious COVID-19 illness and death, especially oral drugs that could be taken at home early in the course of disease, would be powerful tools for battling the pandemic and saving lives.”

TrialSite makes the case below that the time to act to save lives with antivirals, especially cost-effective ones, addressing the pandemic was last summer at the latest. The federal money train spent probably north of $20 billion not only to help accelerate vaccines but also several novel experimental therapies with little pragmatic utility during a pandemic where 90% of the cases are asymptomatic to early-onset mild-to-moderate infections, necessitating care over advanced experimentation.

This platform supported the experimentation but implored that the NIH move aggressively with dozens of identified repurposed drugs to consider for treating COVID-19 early on. More on that below. But what the federal bureaucracy has done now is created yet another program where more than likely over-paid bureaucrats will be able to take credit for first and foremost handing lots of money over to biotech and pharmaceutical companies. In this post-free market, crony capitalistic world, one where regulatory capture is the norm, not the exception, this is exactly what happens as the same old cast of characters behind the last efforts are at it all over again.

They will “evaluate, prioritize and advance antiviral candidates to Phase 2” while benefitting from the present day and “expanded contract resources” of the NIH as well as the infrastructure provided by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) to “de-risk” those early pipeline candidates. They’ll spend over $300 million for research and lab support and toss in almost $1 billion for preclinical and clinical evaluation plus nearly $700 million for development and manufacturing via NIAID and BARDA.

Moreover, the feds will now spend up to $1.2 billion to create and support a new group called the Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for Pathogens and Pandemic Concern that seeks to “harness the creativity of the biomedical research community and drive innovative antiviral drug discovery and development.” Seeking to develop “platforms,” the initial target is SARS-Cov-2, although as TrialSite has and will argue, they’re about a year or more late in the game, and unfortunately, the lives lost can’t be changed.

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Whalen has 5 things the media got wrog on Trump. One of them is HCQ.

What If The Mainstream Media Had Told The Truth? (PF Whalen)

2. Hydroxychloroquine Last year at this time it was verboten to even bring up the name of the drug and doing so was enough to get you booted off Twitter or Facebook. President Trump frequently touted hydroxychloroquine’s efficacy in battling COVID, and it was that advocacy which sent the media into conniptions on the subject. If Trump supports the drug, it must be bad. Last week, over a year after most Americans became familiar with the medication, a new study out of New Jersey, the hardest hit state by COVID, shows that if used in conjunction with a regimen of zinc, hydroxychloroquine can give COVID patients upwards of a 200% better survival rate against COVID. Hydroxychloroquine is indeed a miracle drug.

With modern news cycles, our attention spans are merely fractions of what they once were, but we must remember the context with which the attacks on Trump and hydroxychloroquine were being made. The media was whipping up everyone into a full-blown panic with COVID. “It’s highly infectious to the point you can’t go to church or walk around the park. If you get it bad enough to be sent to the hospital, you’re probably going to die. And there’s no cure; we’re doomed.” Meanwhile Trump was right all along, and this treatment was available the whole time. So, what if the media had told us the truth from the beginning with hydroxychloroquine? Patients who died having refused the drug because of the media’s lies need not have perished. How many thousands of patients died because of the media’s deceit? We’ll never know.

Doctors who refrained from administering the drug based on the treachery of so-called experts and the menaces in the media had patients die for no reason other than politics. Again, how many thousands of Americans died because of their fraudulence? We’ll never know. For many patients who survived severe cases of COVID, they will carry the long-term effects of the virus around with them for the rest of their lives. Severe, long-lasting damage to both the lungs and hearts of severe COVID patients is common, and it’s likely many of those folks must now endure shortened life expectancies as a result. There were undoubtedly scores of them, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic, who could have been treated with hydroxychloroquine but weren’t. If the media had told the truth, many of those patients would now be living normal lives.

Roadmap to Recovery
https://twitter.com/i/status/1406046367542169600

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Badlands. No more freedom fighter.

AstraZeneca Vaccine Not Good Enough to See ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ (NM)

Bruce Springsteen is returning to Broadway, though certain people inoculated against COVID-19 will not be allowed to see him. Springsteen’s show, set to run June 26-Sept. 4, will not be open to people who’ve been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the New York Post reported Friday. “At the direction of New York State, Springsteen on Broadway and the St. James Theatre will only be accepting proof of FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson),” the show’s website reads.

People attending the show must be fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved shot to get in. That means at least 14 days after a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccine, or at least 14 days after a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. The Post reported Springsteen said in a statement he wanted to make the 2-hour-plus shows as “personal and intimate as possible.” Some Canadian fans who received the AstraZeneca shot were upset about potentially being denied entrance. “It’s just plain not fair,” said University of Toronto bioethicist Kerry Bowman in Wednesday’s Toronto Star.

“From an ethical point of view, it’s very difficult, because what has happened is people have made their commitment to being vaccinated for their own health and the health of their communities and the world, and people are turning their nose up at it.” The only exceptions to the vaccine policy will be for children under the age of 16 who have had a negative antigen COVID-19 screening within six hours of the show’s start, or a negative nose swab test within 72 hours of the start. Masks were not mentioned on the show’s website, which reminded guests that all seating is “not socially distant.”

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I got my vaccine from God.

‘I’d Rather Die Actually Living’: Buffalo Bills’ Wide Receiver (G.)

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley leaned into the sharp backlash from statements he’s made critical of the coronavirus vaccine on Friday, disclosing that he is not vaccinated and pledging to “live my one life like I want to regardless”. “I will be outside doing what I do,” he wrote in a statement posted to social media. “I’ll be out in the public. If your (sic) scared of me then steer clear, or get vaccinated. Point. Blank. Period. I may die of covid, but I’d rather die actually living. “I have family members whose days are numbered. If they want to come see me and stay at my house then they are coming regardless of protocol. I don’t play for the money anymore. My family has been taken care of. Fine me if you want. My way of living and my values are more important to me than a dollar.


I love my teammates and enjoy playing ball because all the outside bs goes out the window in these moments. I just want to win the Super Bowl and enjoy these relationships that will be created along the way. “I’m not going to take meds for a leg that isn’t broken. I’d rather take my chances with Covid and build up my immunity that way. Eat better. Drink water. Exercise and do what I think is necessary to be a healthy individual. That is MY CHOICE based on MY experiences and what I think is best. I’ll play for free this year to live life how I’ve lived it from day one. If I’m forced into retirement, so be it.” The 32-year old veteran also said that he has spoken with the NFL Players Association about his issues with the NFL’s new virus policies. Beasley said he is not inoculated against Covid-19 and made it clear he did not want to receive the vaccine.

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Feel lucky, punk?

EU Regulator Won’t Impose 50% Efficacy Threshold For Covid-19 Vaccines (RT)

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said it will not bring in a minimum efficacy threshold for Covid-19 vaccines. The comment comes after clinical trials showed Germany’s CureVac jab to be only 47% effective against the virus. CureVac announced data on the efficacy of its jab on Wednesday after it was tested in second- and third-phase trials involving 40,000 people across ten countries. The company suggested variants of the virus may be behind the poor result.


On Thursday, the EMA’s vaccine chief Marco Cavaleri said it was “a bit early to say” after being asked by a journalist about the CureVac results and the threat variants may pose to vaccine efficacy. “We will need to collect all the final data from this clinical trial, and have a good analysis of the outcome throughout different regions, age groups and according to different variants,” he told an EMA briefing. Asked specifically about a 50% efficacy minimum level for vaccines, he added that the EMA had “always felt it was difficult to define upfront a threshold.”

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“He said it could not be the case that there was more vaccine uptake in the general population than there was among care home workers.”

They simply know more.

Only 41.9% Of French Nursing Home Workers Vaccinated (RT)

Public Health France (SpF) has said that less than half of health professionals working in nursing homes are vaccinated against Covid-19 after the health minister called on workers to come forward and get their shot.
In data published on Thursday evening, SpF stated that only 41.9% of people working in nursing homes in France had been fully vaccinated against the deadly Covid-19 virus, despite the country’s vaccination program being nearly six months old, and 55.3% had received one shot. Healthcare workers were among the first in the country to be offered the jab. The health agency had stopped publishing this data for several weeks as it reworked its calculation method. SpF has reportedly realized that the figures were overestimated.


Meanwhile, of the care home residents surveyed, some of society’s most vulnerable people to the Covid-19 virus, only 81.1% were fully vaccinated. SpF estimates that as of June 15, 87.8% had received at least one dose. Earlier on Thursday morning, Health Minister Olivier Veran, speaking on BFM TV, made a “solemn appeal” to caregivers, in particular in nursing home staff, who have not yet been vaccinated. He also threatened to make inoculations compulsory for them. He said it could not be the case that there was more vaccine uptake in the general population than there was among care home workers. As of Wednesday, approximately 46% of France’s population has received at least one shot.

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Desperate for tourists.

Greece Bioethics Committee To Green-light Mandatory Vaccinations (K.)

The National Bioethics Committee is expected to give its approval for the mandatory vaccination of specific social and professional groups, such as health workers, in its report on Friday to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The obligation will apply in the fall once all the opportunities for the voluntary vaccination of citizens have been exhausted over the summer. In the meantime, a “persuasion campaign” will be undertaken to ensure that as many people are vaccinated as possible. Kathimerini understands that the conditions set by the committee before mandatory vaccinations begin include making the process as easy as possible and allowing people to choose the vaccine they want, and to have additional vaccination centers so that people don’t have to travel far to get the vaccine.

What’s more, the committee is set to insist on the need for information campaigns over the summer targeting specific groups, such as health professionals, educators, young people and the elderly who have not yet been vaccinated. Discussions are being held about including statistics that will prove the benefit of the vaccine. Those who refuse to be inoculated will not be fired, but they will be transferred to other divisions that are not in contact with vulnerable citizens, Kathimerini understands. The campaigns are expected to go on air from July onward, and will run for a full two to three months before any final decisions on mandatory vaccination are made.

It is a given, however, that from next autumn vaccinated people will enjoy privileges such as being able to eat in indoor dining areas. Fully vaccinated people will begin enjoying privileges in the coming weeks, as they will be able to head to gyms without a mask and enter indoor cinemas that open at the beginning of July with the demonstration of their certificate without having to upload their self-test results. As of July 1, the fully vaccinated are expected to be excluded from the program of mandatory self-tests.

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More vaccine hesitancy.

Dying Of Covid-19 Has Become Optional In Russia (RT)

In a speech on Tuesday, the head of Russia’s central bank, Elvira Nabiullina, announced that the country’s finances had recovered from the losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. “The economy has recovered to its pre-crisis level, and in many industries it has exceeded it and continues to grow,” she said. This success has been achieved without racking up substantial debts. While Western states plunge deeper into the red with borrowing, Russia’s reserves keep growing. It’s quite an achievement. However, next is the bad news. On the same day as Nabiullina was giving her triumphant speech, Russian statistical agency Rosstat released new figures on coronavirus deaths in the country, indicating that the number of people who died in the country last year was around 340,000 higher than the year prior, before the pandemic.

This means that the country suffered an increase in its mortality rate of 2,328 per million inhabitants, a figure well in excess of most other developed nations. By comparison, the equivalent numbers in the UK and USA stand at 1,275 and 1,535 per million, respectively. The good news and bad news are not unrelated. One of the reasons why Russia’s economy has been able to recover so rapidly from the impact of the virus is that after an initial tough lockdown in spring 2020, the government refused to reimpose the harshest available measures. That saved the economy, but by allowing people to freely mix, it may have enabled the spread of the virus. The economy’s recovery came at a price paid in human lives.

Cynics might accuse the Russian state of putting money before people, but Russia’s large death rate is a result of more than a lax attitude to social mingling. This is shown by a third story coming out of the country this week, with the city of Moscow issuing an order to make vaccination against coronavirus compulsory for all workers who have direct contact with the public. Justifying the move, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin declared, “ultimately, it’s up to everyone to get vaccinated or not.” He added that whether you get the jab is “a personal matter… as long as you sit at home.” But, the politician argued, “when you go out into public places… you become an accomplice of the epidemiological process.”

The reason why Sobyanin has had to issue this order is clear. Residents of his city simply aren’t getting vaccinated. Russia is believed to have administered about 33 million vaccine doses to its 145 million population, a rate of only 23 doses per 100 people. This now lags far behind much of the rest of Europe. The UK, for instance, has administered over 100 doses for every 100 inhabitants (most Covid-19 vaccines require two doses, so a complete vaccination program would require 200 doses). Russia’s vaccination rate is therefore about one-fifth of the UK’s.

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They’ll play with the data.

Will US Meet Biden’s Vaccine Goal? (ZH)

White House officials on Thursday brushed off questions about President Joe Biden’s July 4 vaccine goal, which appears to be in jeopardy due to the current vaccination rate. Asked about the goal during a virtual briefing on Thursday, White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients did not say whether the goal could still be met. “We’ve made tremendous progress. Today, more than 175 million Americans have gotten at least one shot: as I said, 87 percent of seniors, 74 percent of people over the age of 40. And we’re now nearly 2 in 3 adult Americans, hundreds of thousands of people are continuing to get their first shot each day,” he said.

“And we are going to get to 70 percent. And we’re going to continue across the summer months to push beyond 70 percent,” he added. Biden earlier this year said he wanted 7 out of 10 adults to get at least one COVID-19 jab by Independence Day. But the rate of vaccination has fallen sharply, dropping from over 4 million to around 1 million on an average day. Only 184,847 shots were administered on Memorial Day, and several other recent days have seen a figure well under 1 million. Biden also wanted 160 million Americans to be fully vaccinated by July 4. Fully vaccinated refers to a person getting both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna shots or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson, and then two weeks elapsing.

Just 147.7 million people have been fully vaccinated as of June 17. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Sunday, after being asked whether she was concerned the goals wouldn’t be reached, that while the government can provide incentives to get a vaccine, “it is ultimately up to individuals to do that.” “What you’ve seen is that a number of states have met and surpassed that goal, right? Many have not yet. But we’ve started—kicked off this one-month campaign to do everything we can to reach it. And we’ll see where we get. We’ve got some time,” she said.

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“If the stories are true, Dong would be the highest-level defector in the history of the People’s Republic of China.”

Chinese Defector’s Identity Confirmed, Was Top Counterintelligence Official (RS)

We now know the name of the Chinese defector who has been working with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for a few months and what his position within the Chinese military and government was, among other details. Matthew Brazil and Jeff Stein at Spy Talk reported on the “rumor,” and gave the name and background of the rumored defector: “Chinese-language anti-communist media and Twitter are abuzz this week with rumors that a vice minister of State Security, Dong Jingwei defected in mid-February, flying from Hong Kong to the United States with his daughter, Dong Yang. Dong is, or was, a longtime official in China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), also known as the Guoanbu. His publicly available background indicates that he was responsible for the Ministry’s counterintelligence efforts in China, i.e., spy-catching, since being promoted to vice minister in April 2018. If the stories are true, Dong would be the highest-level defector in the history of the People’s Republic of China.”

RedState’s sources confirmed that the defector is, in fact, Dong, that he was in charge of counterintelligence efforts in China, and that he flew to the United States in mid-February, allegedly to visit his daughter at a university in California. When Dong landed in California he contacted DIA officials and told them about his plans to defect and the information he’d brought with him. Dong then “hid in plain sight” for about two weeks before disappearing into DIA custody. According to Spy Talk, Dong’s name came up during the Sino-American Summit held in Alaska in March 2021: “In a tweet on Wednesday, Han [Dr. Han Lianchao, a Chinese defector], citing an unnamed source, alleged that China’s foreign minister Wang Yi and Communist Party foreign affairs boss Yang Jiechi demanded that the Americans return Dong and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken refused.”

RedState’s sources say that Chinese officials did demand that the United States return Dong, but Blinken didn’t exactly refuse; at that time Blinken wasn’t aware that Dong was with the US government, the sources say, and told China that the US didn’t have Dong. It’s only in the last three to four weeks that anyone outside DIA knew about the defector, according to RedState’s sources. Prior to that time, DIA was vetting the information provided and confronting Langley officials with what they’d learned without divulging the source.

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A proud tradition.

Democracy Dies at the Washington Post Editorial Board (MPN)

The Washington Post’s glaring conflicts of interest have of late once again been the subject of scrutiny online, thanks to a new article denouncing a supposed attempt to “soak” billionaires in taxes. Written by star columnist Megan McArdle — who previously argued that Walmart’s wages are too high, that there is nothing wrong with Google’s monopoly, and that the Grenfell Fire was a price worth paying for cheaper buildings — the article claimed that Americans have such class envy that the government would “destroy [billionaires’] fortunes so that the rest of us don’t have to look at them.” Notably, the Post chose to illustrate it with a picture of its owner, Jeff Bezos, making it seem as if it was directly defending his power and wealth, something they have been accused of on more than one occasion.

There was considerable speculation online as to whether Bezos himself wrote the piece, so blatantly in his interest it was. Unfortunately, this sort of speculation has raged ever since the Amazon CEO bought the newspaper in 2013 for $250 million. Being owned by the world’s richest individual does not mean that The Washington Post and its employees are rolling in dough themselves. Far from it: Bezos’ revolution at the newspaper, which has led to both increased pageviews and company value, has been largely based on simply squeezing workers harder than before. In an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review, management acknowledged that Post reporters are pushed to produce almost four times as many stories as their peers at The New York Times.

Furthermore, the Post writes and rewrites the same story but from slightly different angles and with different headlines in order to generate more clicks, and thus more revenue. Thanks to new technology, reporters’ every keystroke is monitored and they are under constant pressure from management not to fall behind. The technique of constant surveillance is not unlike what hyper-exploited Amazon warehouse workers who wear GPS devices or Fitbit watches have to endure.

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Everyone, potentially.

Who Is A “Terrorist” In Biden’s America? (Whitney Webb)

In the latest sign that the US government’s War on Domestic Terror is growing in scope and scale, the White House on Tuesday revealed the nation’s first ever government-wide strategy for confronting domestic terrorism. While cloaked in language about stemming racially motivated violence, the strategy places those deemed “anti-government” or “anti-authority” on a par with racist extremists and charts out policies that could easily be abused to silence or even criminalize online criticism of the government.

[..] In introducing the strategy, the Biden administration cites “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” as a key reason for the new policy and a main justification for the War on Domestic Terror in general. This was most recently demonstrated Tuesday in Attorney General Merrick Garland’s statement announcing this new strategy. However, the document itself puts “anti-government” or “anti-authority” “extremists” in the same category as violent white supremacists in terms of being a threat to the homeland. The strategy’s characterization of such individuals is unsettling. For instance, those who “violently oppose” “all forms of capitalism” or “corporate globalization” are listed under this less-discussed category of “domestic terrorist.”

This highlights how people on the left, many of whom have called for capitalism to be dismantled or replaced in the US in recent years, could easily be targeted in this new “war” that many self-proclaimed leftists are currently supporting. Similarly, “environmentally-motivated extremists,” a category in which groups such as Extinction Rebellion could easily fall, are also included. In addition, the phrasing indicates that it could easily include as “terrorists” those who oppose the World Economic Forum’s vision for global “stakeholder capitalism,” as that form of “capitalism” involves corporations and their main “stakeholders” creating a new global economic and governance system. The WEF’s stakeholder capitalism thus involves both “capitalism” and “corporate globalization.” The strategy also includes those who “take steps to violently resist government authority . . . based on perceived overreach.”

This, of course, creates a dangerous situation in which the government could, purposely or otherwise, implement a policy that is an obvious overreach and/or blatantly unconstitutional and then label those who resist it “domestic terrorists” and deal with them as such—well before the overreach can be challenged in court. Another telling addition to this group of potential “terrorists” is “any other individual or group who engages in violence—or incites imminent violence—in opposition to legislative, regulatory or other actions taken by the government.” Thus, if the government implements a policy that a large swath of the population finds abhorrent, such as launching a new, unpopular war abroad, those deemed to be “inciting” resistance to the action online could be considered domestic terrorists.

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“A laughable conspiracy theory,” chortled The Huffington Post, who has done more to help the FBI find citizens allegedly at the Capitol riot than any local law enforcement agency.”

Questions About the FBI’s Role in 1/6 (Greenwald)

In 2011, Mother Jones published an outstanding, lengthy investigation by reporter Trevor Aaronson, entitled “The Informations,” which asked: “The FBI has built a massive network of spies to prevent another domestic attack. But are they busting terrorist plots—or leading them?” Aaronson covered numerous similar cases for The Intercept where the FBI designed, directed and even funded the terror plots and other criminal rings they then boasted of disrupting. A widely praised TEDTalk by Aaronson, which, in the words of organizers, “reveals a disturbing FBI practice that breeds terrorist plots by exploiting Muslim-Americans with mental health problems,” featured this central claim: “There’s an organization responsible for more terrorism plots in the United States than al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and ISIS combined: The FBI.”

So far from being some warped conspiracy theory, that the FBI purposely targets vulnerable people and infiltrates groups in order to create attacks and direct targets to engage in them is indisputably true, well established, and a commonly reported fact in mainstream liberal media. Exactly that has been happening for decades. Yet the DNC-loyal sector of the corporate media reacted to the Revolver News article and Carlson’s segment which raised these questions as though they were positing something that no sentient being could possibly regard as viable. CNN — which spent years leading its viewers to believe that the Kremlin controlled the U.S. Government through sexual and financial blackmail — published what they labeled a “fact-check” that denounced this as a “haywire theory” that “is nothing more than a conspiratorial web of unproven claims, half-truths and inaccurate drivel about perceived bombshells in court filings.”

As it usually does, The Washington Post — which told Americans that Russians had invaded the U.S. electricity grid and that a huge army of Kremlin-loyal American writers was shaping our discourse — echoed the instant CNN/liberal consensus by mocking it as “Tucker Carlson’s wild, baseless theory,” claiming that “it’s the kind of suggestion journalists in other organizations would quite possibly be fired for if they sought to push it nearly as hard.” The standard liberal blob of HuffPost/ DailyBeast/ BusinessInsider all recited from the herd script. “A laughable conspiracy theory,” chortled The Huffington Post, who has done more to help the FBI find citizens allegedly at the Capitol riot than any local law enforcement agency.

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“But Americans have to do something to make a living,..”

Free At Last (Jim Kunstler)

The biggest question that the authorities want to evade is: if the virus did originate from the Wuhan lab, was it released by accident… or on purpose? The “Joe Biden” government is now forced to, at least, pretend that it will investigate. My guess is: they don’t want to know. It would raise enough subsidiary questions to leave a normal person panting with nausea. For instance: was China trying to soften-up the USA by disabling our economy? And soften us up… for what? Some observers who are hardly dumb or crazy think that China wants to reduce the USA to a vassal nation that can only supply China with food, oil, and other resources.

Sound far-fetched? Maybe. After all, we still have that fleet of submarines armed with multiple-warhead nuclear missiles circulating around the oceans as a kind of insurance policy. But Americans have to do something to make a living, and it sure isn’t going to be mass production of consumer goods, like in the old days. Meanwhile, the infrastructure of the service economy got gutted during the lockdowns — millions of businesses bankrupted, restaurants, yoga studios, concert venues, dog groomers, shops of all kinds, you name it — gone, and a lot of the people who took livelihoods from all that are financially ruined for good.

What’s left? Health care and pharma, two odious rackets preying on the psychological weakness of people so beaten down by adversity that they can only console themselves with junk food, liquor, sexual debauchery, and drugs, and then must beg the health care system to fix them — after which it squashes them to death with outlandish charges for services rendered? Or government, another reprehensible racket, seeking desperately now to control its citizens’ every move while everything it does is not only running wildly out of control, but via the most idiotic, suicidal policies — such as throwing the border with Mexico wide open to all comers, while it pays Americans to not work.

Read more …

 

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May 282021
 


Brassaï Couple on a bench, Paris 1932

 

Suppressing Data On Ivermectin Cost ‘Half A Million Lives’ – Kory (WT)
Inhaled Nanobodies Could Be New Secret Weapon Against Severe Covid (RT)
US Sitting On ‘Raft’ Of Unexamined Virus Intel (ZH)
Fort Detrick Base Is Full Of Suspicions – China (RT)
Rand Paul: “Fauci Cannot Investigate Himself; Get Him Under Oath” (SN)
California Launches Largest US Covid Vaccine Lottery Yet (G.)
Facebook Now Banning Anyone Who Says Virus Wasn’t Created In Wuhan Lab (BBee)
Bezos Weaponizes The Washington Post Homepage (DP)
Biden’s Budget Assumes a Massive Retroactive Capital Gains Tax (Mish)
Socialism for 1% Capitalism 99% (Braund)
CNN Hires Trump As News Anchor To Recover Lost Viewers (BBee)

 

 

Just how crazy is this? You can say that the vaccines are not approved, but not that they haven’t been appropriately tested?

 

 

Hodkinson

 

 

“It’s literally criminal.”

Suppressing Data On Ivermectin Cost ‘Half A Million Lives’ – Kory (WT)

In a recent Zoom call, Dr. Pierre Kory of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance outlined numerous details showing the World Health Organization (WHO) knowingly suppressed data on the effectiveness of ivermectin against the virus in order to benefit the vaccine interests of Big Pharma. “It’s criminal,” Kory said. “It’s literally criminal.” The drug “could have saved half a million lives this year if it had been approved.” The WHO, Kory contends, is simply taking part in the tactics of a time-worn “Disinformation Playbook.” The term was coined by the Union of Concerned Scientists 50 years ago to describe the strategies corporations have developed over decades to “attack science when it goes against their financial interests.”

It consists of five parts:
The Fake – Conduct counterfeit science and try to pass it off as legitimate research.
The Blitz – Harass scientists who speak out with results reviews inconvenient for industry.
The Diversion – Manufacture uncertainty about science where little or none exists.
The Screen – Buy credibility through alliances with academia or professional societies.
The Fix – Manipulate government officials or processes to influence policy inappropriately.

In the full Zoom call, since removed by YouTube but available on Bitchute, Kory describes how the five tactics have been deployed against the scientific findings on ivermectin. One example is the corruption of leading medical journals, whose editors refuse to allow ivermectin studies to advance to peer review. The most egregious institutional participant, however, is the WHO. Kory is the lead author of a scientific review of the studies on ivermectin worldwide, which was published in the May-June edition of The American Journal of Therapeutics. As reported on the FlCCC website, there have been a total of 56 trials involving 469 scientists and 18,447 patients. Of these, 28 were randomized control trials (RCT), the type of trial considered highly authoritative in the medical community.

Together these have shown an 85 percent improvement as a preventative against the disease when taken before exposure. There has been a 78 percent patient improvement when administered early and a 46 percent improvement when delivered late. A 74 percent improvement in mortality was found and a 66 percent improvement across multiple areas in the 28 randomized control trials. Within only 10 days of publication the paper on ivermectin was rated number 13 most-read among the more than 200,000 other scientific publications that appeared during that time, Kory reports. Out of the 17.7 million papers that have been tracked by the rating source since it began, the ivermectin study is already ranked 246.

Read more …

I’ll take ivermectin instead.

Inhaled Nanobodies Could Be New Secret Weapon Against Severe Covid (RT)

In search of ways to complement jabs or to treat patients who can’t be vaccinated, scientists have tested inhalable anti-Covid nanobodies on hamsters, saying they’re effective in fighting the virus by targeting its spike protein. The promising new findings came courtesy of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, marking the first time nanobodies have been tested for inhalation treatment of the coronavirus disease. Nanobodies are similar to monoclonal antibodies, widely used in certain cancer treatments, but are smaller in size and boast a lower cost of production, which may prove key to a global rollout should the treatment gain regulatory approval in future. The researchers previously identified some 8,000 nanobodies which they whittled down to just one highly effective or “ultra potent” version called Nb21, which they then bioengineered to better slot together with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.


Their aerosolized nanobody, named Pittsburgh inhalable Nanobody-21 (PiN-21), is said to have reduced the number of infectious virus particles in the test subject hamsters’ nasal cavities, throats and lungs by a million-fold. “We are very excited and encouraged by our data suggesting that PiN-21 can be highly protective against severe disease and can potentially prevent human-to-human viral transmission,” said co-senior author Yi Shi. The study says that hamsters who inhaled PiN-21 at the time of infection experienced no Covid-19 related weight loss, compared to the control group, which received a placebo and lost 16% of their initial body weight within a week of infection. This would be the equivalent to an adult human losing 20lbs (9kg) in one week, it said. Test subjects who inhaled PiN-21 experienced milder changes in lung structure and severely reduced inflammation following infection than the placebo group.

Read more …

‘an extraordinary amount of computer power’, ‘databases of Chinese communications, the movement of lab workers and the pattern of the outbreak of the disease around the city of Wuhan.”

US Sitting On ‘Raft’ Of Unexamined Virus Intel (ZH)

Hours after President Biden promised to release the ‘full report’ from US Intelligence community’s 90-day examination of where COVID-19 originated – unless there’s something he’s unaware of… …the New York Times reports, there’s things he’s unaware of. Namely, ‘a raft of still-unexamined evidence that required additional computer analysis that might shed light on the mystery,” according to anonymous senior administration officials. In other words, the US government has been sitting on a large collection of intelligence in perhaps the most important investigation into an economy-wrecking global pandemic, as China destroyed evidence and has refused to cooperate with international probes.

According to the report, Biden’s call for the new investigation was in response to the ‘new’ evidence. While officials declined to describe the new evidence, they are hoping to apply ‘an extraordinary amount of computer power’ to analyze what the Times speculates may be ‘databases of Chinese communications, the movement of lab workers and the pattern of the outbreak of the disease around the city of Wuhan.” Biden’s call was also meant to spur American allies and intelligence agencies to scour their own evidence, such as “intercepts, witnesses or biological evidence — as well as hunt for new intelligence,” to assess whether the Chinese government covered up what happened.

Astute readers will note that the NYT substitutes its own facts, framing any lab release as of course “accidental,” and suggesting that Biden only dismissed the lab origin theory “until the Chinese government this week rejected allowing further investigation by the World Health Organization.” In reality, plenty of evidence existed which the entire leftist establishment and their media surrogates flatly branded a ‘debunked conspiracy theory’ after then-President Trump promoted it, while the World Health Organization (WHO) and US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) parroted CCP propaganda that the virus could have only emerged via ‘natural origin’ (as opposed to the Chinese lab manipulating bat coronaviruses in the same city that the pandemic started).

Read more …

Two can play that game.

Fort Detrick Base Is Full Of Suspicions – China (RT)

Beijing has called on the US to provide an explanation for a respiratory disease in northern Virginia and a large-scale outbreak of e-cigarette disease in Wisconsin after Washington launched a new probe into Covid-19’s origins. Speaking on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian asked the US to reflect on its own role in the pandemic and not “dump” responsibility on China alone. Citing the 33 million Covid-19 cases in the US and 600,000 deaths, Zhao asked “How safe is your conscience?” “I also want to emphasize that the Fort Detrick base is full of suspicions. There are more than 200 biological laboratories in the United States spreading around the world. How many secrets are there?”

The spokesman said that there was an unexplained respiratory disease in northern Virginia in July 2019 and a large-scale outbreak of e-cigarette disease in Wisconsin. “When will the US release detailed data and information on relevant cases to the international community? The United States owes an explanation to the international community.” The Maryland-based US Fort Detrick center hosts a biolab which has become a hot topic on China’s Twitter-like Weibo. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to issue a “cease and desist order” to halt operations at the germ lab over safety concerns.

Zhao’s comment comes after US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he was giving intelligence agencies 90 days to pinpoint the origins of Covid-19. Biden said his administration would continue to push China to “participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence.” Reinforcing a statement from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC on Wednesday evening, Zhao called on the US to stop “ignoring facts and science” and refrain from “repeatedly clamoring to reinvestigate China.”

Read more …

Good idea.

Rand Paul: “Fauci Cannot Investigate Himself; Get Him Under Oath” (SN)

Senator Rand Paul, who has spearheaded the renewed push to investigate the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, has called for Dr Fauci to be placed under oath and made to testify about the murky ‘gain of function’ research he was involved with funding at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Paul also urged that Fauci “needs to be excluded from the investigation” because he is too deeply involved in the whole thing. Appearing on Fox News, Paul spoke about the funding that Fauci and the NIH supplied to China. “Well, sure it’s a lot. And there are some reports that it added up to millions over time. But the other thing he said was that there was no gain of function in the application. There are scientists who looked at the application and who absolutely and categorically disagree with him,” Paul noted.

“The other evidence that we have is Dr. Shi from the Wuhan lab published a paper that is clearly about gain of function and it that she thanks her group and Dr. Fauci for funding that paper. So there are a lot of contradictions going on,” Paul added. “I think Dr. Fauci should be made to testify under oath about the money that was given to the lab,” Paul said, adding “The good news is yesterday I passed an amendment on the Senate floor that says no more gain of function money can be sent to China.” “The bottom line, he cannot investigate himself. If he was responsible for giving this money. He has every incentive to cover it up and not reveal the truth about it because if the pandemic did come from the lab, he would have great culpability in this,” Paul further emphasised.

The Senator, who continues to receive death threats after being so vocal against Fauci, added that “he can’t be investigating this, nor can any of his people that he picks be investigating this. He needs to be excluded from the investigation.” “This is very important because this could happen again,” Paul warned, adding “I mean, they are experimenting with the SARS virus, which is 15 times more deadly than COVID-19. COVID-19 kills 1%… more than 3 million people. If SARS got out of the lab, that could be 50 million people. This is a very important task ahead of us. We have 11 labs in our country that do this kind of research.”

Read more …

Just how crazy is this? Does anyone find it normal?

California Launches Largest US Covid Vaccine Lottery Yet (G.)

California has become the latest state to offer a vaccine lottery to incentivize getting the coronavirus vaccine – launching the nation’s most valuable single prize draw: $1.5m. The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, announced on Thursday that residents will be eligible for a total of $116.5m in prize money giveaways, a windfall aimed at getting millions more vaccinated before the nation’s most populous state fully reopens next month. The state’s reopening is pegged for 15 June, and on that day a drawing will be held to award 10 vaccinated people the top prize. Another 30 people will win $50,000 each, with those drawings starting 4 June. Anyone 12 and older who has received at least one shot will be eligible. And the next 2 million people who get vaccinated will get $50 gift cards.


The state estimates about 12 million Californians 12 and older have not been vaccinated. About 63% of the 34 million eligible have gotten shots, though the pace has slowed markedly in recent weeks as infection rates have plummeted to record lows. Ohio this week announced the first $1m winner of its “Vax-a-Million” contest, as well as the first child to win a full college scholarship. The scheme saw more than 2.7 million adults register for a chance to win. Colorado and Oregon also offered $1m prizes. New York is raffling 50 full scholarships to children 12 to 17 to public universities and colleges in the state, selecting 10 winners each of the next five Wednesdays. That California is turning to cash prizes to encourage vaccinations marks a major turnaround from earlier this year, when Californians clamored for shots, with some driving or waiting in line for hours to get one.

Read more …

Babylon Bee is on a roll.

Facebook Now Banning Anyone Who Says Virus Wasn’t Created In Wuhan Lab (BBee)

Facebook has updated its community standards today, declaring that anyone who says the COVID-19 virus wasn’t developed in the lab in Wuhan will be banned for sharing fake news. Mark Zuckerberg, may he live forever, announced the change from his royal throne today to a group of reporters gathered in his royal throne room. “Hear ye, hear ye!” Zuckerberg announced. “From henceforth, anyone saying the virus wasn’t created in a lab shall be banned! While previously, those who said the virus was created in a lab were hanged, this royal decree hereby reverses the order, and now, those who deny the obvious truth that it was created in a lab shall be declared anathema and sentenced to die!”


Zuckerberg’s royal scribes then began scrubbing the old rule from the giant Community Standards tablets displayed in the throne room and chiseling the updated rule on top. “So it is written, and so it is done!” announced Zuckerberg. And the people rejoiced and began feasting upon the lamb, and sloths, and carp, and anchovies.

Read more …

Amazon as the great defender of the minimum wage. Gutsy.

Bezos Weaponizes The Washington Post Homepage (DP)

A few years after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post, he said it was because it “is the newspaper in the capital city of the most important country in the world” and “has an incredibly important role to play in this democracy.” Now, with more and more legislators scrutinizing his company’s business practices, his newspaper is playing that role — as an advertising platform in defense of Amazon. On Tuesday, hours after the Washington Post reported that the D.C. attorney general is bringing an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, the front page of the Post’s website was festooned with native ads from Amazon portraying itself as a devoted supporter of a higher federal minimum wage.

The Post ads, which appeared almost like editorial content, are part of a broader campaign by Amazon highlighting its support for a $15 minimum wage. Left unsaid: Amazon only begrudgingly agreed to a higher wage for its own workers after serious public shaming. The company has also continued to bankroll corporate lobbying groups that are leading the fight against a minimum wage hike, and the Washington Post editorial board has campaigned against a $15 wage. Amazon’s ad spending with the newspaper is nothing new: The company has disclosed spending $40.5 million with the Washington Post since 2013 on advertising and digital content, including $8.1 million last year, according to its proxy statements.

The company’s latest ad on the Post homepage was designed to make the tech giant look progressive in advance of the company’s annual meeting on Wednesday and the news that it’s acquiring legendary film studio MGM. If you were casually glancing at the Post page Tuesday, you may not have realized the Amazon language was an advertisement, since portions of it were included in the Washington Post masthead banner. Text boxes in the banner said: “Since 2018, Amazon has paid at least $15/hour. It’s time to raise the $7.25 federal minimum wage.” Corey Quinn, chief cloud economist at The Duckbill Group, noted Tuesday that “these ads aren’t clearly marked as ads, and that crosses a line.”

[..] Of course, as the Washington Post headline noted when Amazon announced it would raise its minimum wage to $15, it did so “following criticism” — most prominently from Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt., who launched a petition to Bezos in August 2018, demanding that he pay his workers “a living wage and improve working conditions at Amazon warehouses all across the country.” Sanders also introduced the “Stop BEZOS Act,” legislation to put a 100-percent tax on government benefits received by workers at large companies, after a report by the New Food Economy found that thousands of Amazon workers were on food stamps.

Read more …

“His budget and tax hikes are headed to the gutter. Beyond infrastructure, it’s unclear if Biden can pass anything.”

Biden’s Budget Assumes a Massive Retroactive Capital Gains Tax (Mish)

Biden seeks to hike the top rate on capital gains to 43.4% from 23.8% for households with income over $1 million. He also wants to make the increase retroactive and force capital gains realization at death as well. The WSJ reports Biden’s Budget Said to Assume Capital-Gains Tax Rate Increase Started in April. • Leaders of six biggest U.S. banks, testified to Congress Thursday warning against a retroactive change. • Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.), wants to maintain a lower tax rate for capital gains than for ordinary income. • Lawmakers from farm states, including Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.) and Rep. Cindy Axne (D., Iowa) have objected to the changes on capital gains at death. Biden wants to make it retroactive so that millionaires cannot accelerate gains now. And he wants to make gains taxable at death to prevent heirs from holding.

In short, Biden wants his tax hikes now and later too. He continues to appease the Progressives. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the budget is sustainable because long-term yields are below the rate of inflation, conveniently held there by the Fed. The budget also assumes no recession for at least another 9 years despite the fact they happen about every 5 years on average. Finally, Biden’s budget not only assumes retroactive tax hikes but those hikes will bring in more money than the nonpartisan congressional budget office assumes. Meanwhile, Enough is Enough, a Democratic Governor Courageously Says “No More Taxes”

There is bipartisan support for about $900 billion in infrastructure spend, far short of the $2.3 trillion Biden seeks. There is no bipartisan support for tax hikes. Moreover, Biden cannot afford to lose a single Democrat Senator on any issue, but the net impact of all his tax and budget proposals suggests he has lost at least 3 Senators. His budget and tax hikes are headed to the gutter. Beyond infrastructure, it’s unclear if Biden can pass anything.

Read more …

“Banks can continue to lend money at interest in order to cover their costs, and make a reasonable profit, but they should not be permitted to create new money at interest..”

Socialism for 1% Capitalism 99% (Braund)

Banks create money by making loans to their customers. This method accounts for around 97 per cent of the money in circulation. Nearly all money is created as debt, repayable at interest. This means that all loans have to be repaid with money also created as debt and loaned at interest. No wonder the economy struggles, when the system of money creation heaps cost upon unnecessary cost. And no wonder the banks generate such enormous profits. This system, known as fractional reserve banking, is an integral part of the nexus of unearned wealth: Banks’ shareholders earn dividends from the super-profits extracted by the process of money creation; banks loan money to their own investment arms to finance speculative activities which undermine the real economy and then pay themselves unwarranted bonuses from the proceeds; and money issued as debt helps drive up asset prices, especially land, through the housing market and the market for commercial property.

Not only does the system of money issue skew the economy in favour of the already wealthy, it places an unnecessary burden on genuine entrepreneurs by charging them for the use of money. Money is not wealth, but it is required to pay for land, labour and capital. Why should enterprising businesspeople pay a premium for the use of money, when without it business is impossible? It gets worse: Through the activities of credit card companies, banks try to cover up their economic misdemeanours by lending money for consumption to those unable to earn enough to get by. This creates an impression that the economy is in good health because people keep spending. In fact, UK personal debt, at £1,452bn is roughly equivalent to the country’s GDP.

If they are to remain in private ownership, banks must be obliged to work under a revised system of full reserve banking: they should only lend money which they can fund from deposits and reserves. If the money supply needs to be increased, new money can be issued through banks by a central authority. Banks can continue to lend money at interest in order to cover their costs, and make a reasonable profit, but they should not be permitted to create new money at interest, and they should be required to compete for business by offering the best possible savings and borrowing rates to their customers. The current system of money issue widens the gap between rich and poor by concentrating its lending for investment on large corporations, while charging the economically excluded exorbitant rates on borrowing for consumption. It conspires against an optimal supply of money by ensuring that the quantity of money in circulation never reflects the amount of wealth being created, thus introducing instability into the economy and driving the damaging cycle of boom and bust.

Read more …

More Babylon Bee.

CNN Hires Trump As News Anchor To Recover Lost Viewers (BBee)

In order to bring back the viewers it’s lost since the 2020 election ended, CNN is rehiring the biggest draw for its audience: former President Trump, who will host all the news segments every night on prime time.
“What we’ve discovered since the election is people only watched our station to see Trump, so we’re hiring him to anchor our programs,” said Bob CNN, owner and founder of the cable news station. “This will finally get our ratings out of the dump.” During his first night on the job, Trump simply yelled about election fraud for two hours. “Very sad, very pathetic, worst-run election in history, maybe ever! Worse than North Korea!” he said to an audience of millions, CNN’s largest in many months.

“Frankly, any ballot cast against me is suspect. You really believe that someone would walk into an election booth and look at me and Sleepy Joe and choose Sleepy Joe? No. Can’t happen. Fake news. Not good. Sad!” After this, the rest of the hosts for the night just yelled about Trump yelling about election fraud. According to Trump, the deal was “the biggest deal in the history of television, maybe ever.” Rumors indicate that Trump was given a majority share in the company, billions of dollars, and unlimited Diet Coke. According to insiders, the headquarters of CNN will also be moved to Mar-a-Lago as part of the deal. After the announcement, CNN’s ratings skyrocketed, and they’re finally outperforming the WNBA, soccer, and Saturday Night Live.

Read more …

 

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Nov 212019
 
 November 21, 2019  Posted by at 1:49 pm Finance, Primers Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  35 Responses »


Salvador Dali Figure at a window 1925

 

Below is a private email I received a few days ago from an Automatic Earth reader and that I would like to share with you.

Watching (some of) the impeachment inquiry this week and last, I again get the same feeling I’ve had for some 4 years now, which is something we all know -metaphorically- from the Godfather.

The Democrats and the Republicans are like two -of the five- families, let’s say the Barzini family and the Tattaglia family (we’ll leave the Corleones be), which are both utterly corrupted and lethal predators, and I wouldn’t want to choose between them. But that’s not made easy.

In this metaphor, the Tattaglia family appears to have both the intelligence services and 95% of the media on their side, which keep telling their readers and viewers that the Barzini family are much worse than the Tattaglia family. That’s what I see when I look at the impeachment inquiry, and the comments in the press surrounding it: they all, the Democrats, the media and the FBI/CIA et al, are trying to convince everyone that Don Barzini is the anti-christ and the Tattaglia family are fine upstanding Americans.

What I have been doing over the past years is to try and restore some balance to that picture. But I still get -perhaps not surprisingly- accused of being a right-wing Trump supporter. Because you’re either with us or with them. And 95% of the press is apparently still not enough; they want me to join in as well.

And yes, maybe I’m stupid, maybe you shouldn’t try to go against such an overwhelming majority of the press. But at the same time, the picture they paint makes no sense to me. And besides, I want the press to give me news, facts, not try to make up my mind for me. I would like to do that myself.

But that’s where the biggest change has occurred. In the past, you could read articles in the New York Times, Guardian or WaPo, and watch CNN, and come away with the impression that you had been provided with news. Today, you no longer can, because all of it is seeped in propaganda.

Still, that’s how the press make their money these days. As I wrote quite some time ago, Trump Sells Better Than Sex. Writing and saying bad things about him is their meal ticket. For four years and change they’ve been insisting that the next story would be the bombshell (talk about a deflated word) that would sink Trump, that it would be The BIG ONE, as I wrote yesterday. And sure enough, all their comments on Gordon Sondland’s testimony yesterday say it again.

This has nothing to do with my opinion of Donald Trump (and perhaps not even theirs), it’s about the process, and how it has changed, likely to a large extent because of the pressure exerted on the old media by internet and social media. Trump is the best thing that ever happened to the old guard’s finances. They willingly gave up on half the American population, because the other half can’t get enough of Orange Man Bad narratives. Looks like a risky gamble, but they were truly desperate. One should wonder if they really want Trump gone, because what then?

As I said, I thought I’d share that mail. The author said it’s okay. I deleted anything that could identify him. And of course I’m curious to know what you think about his words (and mine).

 

 

Hello Ilargi,

I just read Moonraker’s comment about your “right wing talking points”.

This is, once again, tiresome and ridiculous. Just as when people call you a pro-Trump, or whatever similar. Derangement syndrome, or Maoist frenzy, or headless chickens, many descriptive phrases apply to these reactions to anything with a link to common sense.

What amazes me is how unhinged the mainstream view of the world has become. And I am grateful to find a healthy measure of sanity in TAE.

Since 2014 I have been watching a major onslaught of disinformation, starting around Maidan, and later moving into overdrive with Trump. I think the man is a piece of junk, but the mainstream reaction to him has a distinct Orwellian feel (when the progressive ‘Our Values’ crowd starts singing Thank God we have NATO, the CIA, the Deep State… you know your Boeing 737 MAX is flying upside down).

The Narrative about Trump, especially here [in Canada] through our PC media class, is perfect, smooth and shiny, just like a brand new Tesla or a tale you read to your child in bed at night.

Trump may be crazy, I don’t know – but for sure our reaction to him has been erasing our sanity. This [is] both painful and entertaining to watch.

Our collective delusion about anything that matters (Trump, Russia, finance, energy, the rape of our planet, etc.) is IMO the greatest show on Earth. And it is on great display on TAE, including the remarkable Comments section. I have come to love the smell of it in the morning.

So yes Ilargi, please, keep up the good work!

 

 

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Nov 082019
 
 November 8, 2019  Posted by at 8:41 pm Primers Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Salvador Dali Bay of Cadaques 1925

 

Do I really need to reiterate -as I’ve done easily a hundred times- that I don’t think Donald Trump is a great choice to be president of the United States, that when you have a pick of 320 million people there should certainly be a better option? Then again, should I also reiterate that he was elected as president 3 years ago, and that means a lot in the US political system, so much that people who don’t like the outcome of an election should always respect it, lest they do irreparable harm to the system?! Well, hereby.

What got me, with limited interest in politics, going about the elections back in 2015-16 was not Trump, it was the concerted effort by the DNC, the Democratic party in general, US intelligence and the media, to frustrate his run for president. Not because of him, but because of all of them. The media went so overboard that today you cannot read an article by NYT or WaPo, or watch a TV program on CNN or MSNBC, and believe a single word that is said. That, too, has nothing to do with Trump.

It has to do with the control over their readers’ and viewers’ views that they think they have. It has to do with CNN head Jeff Zucker insisting, as Project Veritas showed, that all of his ‘journalists’ focus on impeachment. Because that’s where the money is. CNN, NYT, WaPo have been doing great since they started attacking Trump 24/7. And even when Robert Mueller came up emptier than a black hole, they managed to hide the consequences, keep on dumping on Trump and selling ads and subscriptions up the wazoo.

 

But the latest trend should worry everyone even more. It doesn’t come out of nowhere, it might even be called predictable. We had the Steele dossier, but there wasn’t a secret about who was behind it for very long. There were even a lot of references to the man’s achievements and credibility. We’re still awaiting something similar on Mifsud and Downer, but so far they’re seen as having at least some credibility.

However, all of the above has changed since accusations and allegatiosn against Trump started to be made by, and based on, an anonymous whistleblower, who turned out not to be a whistleblower at all but a CIA operative closely linked to sworn Trump enemies Obama, Biden and Brennan. First time I saw that, I thought: wow, desperation sets in. The usual suspects don’t feel they’re winning. They think they need a backdoor.

And who is to blame them? The Democrats have nobody who could even possibly challenge Trump in a ‘normal’ election. Biden won’t survive Burisma, and that’s far from his only flaw, Warren and Sanders are too left for 2020 America, and they’re actively screwing with Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign, because she threatens to break their link to the military industrial complex, aka the Deep State.

So in comes Mike Bloomberg at a mere 112 years old, because rich old white men always do these things. I predicted the other day to a friend that Hillary would try to join in, but she wouldn’t have a chance in hot hell either; too tainted. She may still do it, though, in 5 years time she’ll be too old.

 

Apparently, though, that one backdoor, the anonymous CIA faultily labeled whistleblower, just won’t do.

Now we have a book, it’s coming out on November 19, and it’s written by, guess who … Anonymous. Who apparently claims to be a White House insider. Something we can’t check. It might as well be Hillary, or Brennan, or Clapper, or anyone in the CIA or DNC who doesn’t mind writing awful stories about Orange Man Bad, as long as they can remain anonymous.

 

 

So then you get this kind of thing, This first quote is from the Hill (which may have left their ace reporter John Solomon out to dry, I don’t know, but I only see his articles on his own website these days). And yeah, Rachel Maddow is a real credible source on all things Trump. She only spent 4 whole years shrieking about Russiagate every night until Bob Mueller grossly failed:

Maddow: Anonymous Op-ed Author Details ‘Steady State’ That Kept ‘Wheels From Coming Off The White House W agon’

In a new book, the author of an anonymous New York Times op-ed has described a “steady state” that formed to “keep the wheels from coming off the White House wagon,” according to excepts from the book read by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on her show Thursday. “The early Steady State formed to keep the wheels from coming off the White House wagon,” Maddow read from the excerpts of the book “A Warning.” “When presidential appointees started conferring about their shared concerns with the nation’s chief executive … it was done informally, in weekly phone calls or on the margins of meetings,” Maddow continued, citing the book. Many of the concerns staff members had about the president stemmed from his “inattentiveness” and “impulsiveness.”


[..] “In Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable,” the person wrote last year. “This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state,” they continued at the time. The Post on Thursday also reported on an excerpt of the book in which the anonymous person, billed as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” wrote that officials wake up “in a full-blown panic” due to Trump’s tweets.

And some more from Maddow’s employer, NBC (every “left” news outlet is covering this, obviously):

Anonymous Author Writes Trump’s Decision-Making Is Eroding Over Time

President Donald Trump’s behavior can be so erratic that most top administration officials have pre-written resignation letters ready to submit, an anonymous author claiming to be a senior official in the Trump administration says in a book scheduled to be published this month. To complicate matters, the president’s decision-making abilities are getting worse with time, according to excerpts of “A Warning” that were obtained and read Thursday night on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” The author, described only as “a senior Trump administration official,” is the same person who wrote an op-ed in The New York Times last year headlined, “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.”

The column said “many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” The information is coming from an anonymous source, and NBC News does not know who the writer is nor whether they were in a position to have witnessed what they say transpired. In the book excerpts, the author describes near-daily “five-alarm fire drill” that leads senior officials to cancel plans and race to the White House to intercept Trump before he can enact his latest “wacky or destructive idea.” “Staff throw up the Bat-Signal, calling a snap meeting or a teleconference. ‘He’s about to do something,’ one warns the group, explaining what the president is about to announce.” “‘He can’t do this. We’ll all look like idiots, and he’ll get murdered for it in the press,’ another exclaims. “‘Yeah, well, I’m telling you he’s going to do it unless someone gets to him fast,’ the first warns. ‘Can you cancel your afternoon?'”

[..] In excerpts published separately by The Washington Post, the author likens Trump to “a twelve-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately, indifferent to the planes skidding across the runway and the flights frantically diverting away from the airport.” “I’ve sat and listened in uncomfortable silence as he talks about a woman’s appearance or performance,” according to the Post’s excerpts. “He comments on makeup. He makes jokes about weight. He critiques clothing. He questions the toughness of women in and around his orbit. He uses words like ‘sweetie’ and ‘honey’ to address accomplished professionals. This is precisely the way a boss shouldn’t act in the work environment.”

The image they try to present is very obvious: Trump is crazy. We got there from him not having a chance getting elected, to owing his election to Russia, and now Ukraine, from which he also demanded ‘dirt’ on his ‘main’ political rival Joe Biden, who was never that, and now we have deteriorated into He Is Crazy, and we get that from anonymous whistleblowers and ‘authors’.

Thing is, if you’re allowed to be anonymous, you can be anyone, including Trump’s direct rivals in the 2020 elections, or a CIA officer, you name it. Does this open the window for the GOP to start publishing fake news too? Because that’s what it is, right, when things are said that nobody can verify? It’s not news, it’s partisan propaganda. Why would anyone opposed to Trump want to be anonymous today? It’s not as if the CIA or FBI would come after them, they’re siding with the other party.

 

What is the problem with anonymous CIA ‘whistleblowers’ and authors? That we have no way of verifying what they say. Duh! And believe it or not, in days of old, other than in cases like Deep Throat, US media would never have dreamed of publishing a single word from the CIA not-whistleblower or the guy or gal or entire team (we can’t know) who wrote that book.

Journalistic standards have simply eroded and vanished to a huge extent. And people will say: yes, but Trump, but Orange Man Bad, anything is justified to get rid of him.

And that is very simply not true. The media and politicians and intelligence agencies cannot abandon their standards, developed over many decades, just to get rid of someone they don’t like. That, in the end, is up to the American people to decide, whether you like it or not, in the next election.

This whole anonymous thing feels increasingly like an election item, because the Dems know they have nothing to very little. We get that. But the sanctity of the election process, and of the Office of the President of the United States, must always prevail. Because if it doesn’t you will find yourselves in a state of anarchy. Anonymous accounts that are widely re-covered because that fits a political agenda are a solid step towards that anarchy. Beware.

 

 

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Feb 072019
 


René Magritte The Pleasure Principle (Portrait of Edward James) 1937

 

Led By Donkeys (G.)
Tusk: Special Place In Hell For Brexiteers Without Even Sketch Of A Plan (Ind.)
Corbyn Lays Out Labour’s Terms For Backing May On Brexit (G.)
Not Opposing Brexit Could Lose Labour 45 Seats (G.)
Yellen: Next Fed Move May Be A Rate Cut (CNBC)
Fed’s Quarles Sees 2019 As An ‘Interim’ Year For Bank Stress Tests (R.)
Press Needs More Than Super Bowl Ad To Fix Its Plunging Credibility (ZH)
Homo Credulus (Bowman)
French, German Farmers Must Destroy Crops After GMOs Found In Monsanto Seeds (RT)
The Killing Of Large Species Is Pushing Them Towards Extinction (G.)
Global Warming Could Exceed 1.5ºC Within Five Years (G.)

 

 

50 days to Brexit. Don’t be surprised if that whole country dissolves before our eyes.

Perfect name, good actions.

Led By Donkeys (G.)

At 5.55am, Talgarth Road, one of the major arteries into west London, is just beginning to clog up with early rush-hour traffic. A man named Dave, his white van pulled over into a loading bay, is putting up a billboard poster by the side of the carriageway. The previous one was an advert for Calvin Klein featuring the model Lara Stone. Over the course of 20 minutes, Dave covers Stone up, expertly pasting rectangles of paper over her, using a ladder for the high ones, then sweeping over with his brush. The first rectangle, in the top left corner, contains a headshot of Jacob Rees-Mogg and the beginning of his Twitter handle. As Dave lines up edges, pastes and brushes, and Stone disappears, a quote emerges from Rees-Mogg.

This one wasn’t a tweet; he said it in parliament. “We could have two referendums. As it happens, it might make more sense to have a second referendum after the renegotiation is completed.” There are three other men here, dressed in hoodies, lumberjack shirts and beanies, lurking around and admiring the work. Their work – because Richard, Adam and Chris are three of the four key people behind Led By Donkeys, the remainer guerrilla activists highlighting the hypocrisy and lies of politicians by posting their damning quotes on billboards around the country. Less guerrilla now, actually: they’ve gone legit, this hoarding is paid for. Before, they just took them over.

[..] It all began, as most good ideas do, in the pub. They were talking about the infamous David Cameron tweet – “Britain faces a simple and inescapable choice – stability and strong government with me or chaos with Ed Miliband” – which was doing the rounds again after Theresa May cancelled the vote on her deal in December. And someone said: why don’t they slap it on a billboard, make it the tweet you can’t delete? The next day, on the WhatsApp group, one of them said they had found someone who would print it out for them. They all agreed: “Let’s just fucking do it.” It was cheaper to do five, so they cobbled together four more tweets – from Michael Gove, David Davies, John Redwood and Liam Fox – not really thinking they’d ever put them up. Initial outlay was about 200 quid, plus £90 on a ladder from B&Q.

Read more …

Tusk is an idiot, but he was right when he said thet as both May and Corbyn want to Leave, there is no political leadership for Remain. But the majority of Britons by now want to Remain. Don’t underestimate the danger of this.

Tusk: Special Place In Hell For Brexiteers Without Even Sketch Of A Plan (Ind.)

A war of words has further undermined Theresa May’s mission to Brussels to rescue her Brexit deal, after the EU warned of a “special place in hell” for politicians who botched the project. Downing Street and Tory politicians hit back angrily after the extraordinary attack by Donald Tusk on those who triumphed in the referendum “without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it safely”. The prime minister’s spokesman urged people to ask whether such language was “helpful” – before noting, sarcastically, that was impossible “because he didn’t take any questions”. Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, condemned the comments by Mr Tusk, the European Council president, as “disgraceful” and “spiteful”, saying such behaviour “demeans him”.

Sammy Wilson, Brexit spokesman of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up the Tories in power, went further – branding him a “devilish, trident-wielding, Euro maniac”. But pro-EU Tory Anna Soubry backed him and named Boris Johnson, David Davis and Nigel Farage as among his likely targets, for having “abdicated all responsibility”. The fury overshadowed the tough message for Ms May before she lands in Brussels on Thursday morning – that the EU will never agree to reopening the divorce deal, as she has vowed to do. The prime minister will again demand either an end date for the Irish backstop or an exit mechanism from it for there to be any hope of the Commons passing the deal. Ms May appeared to drop her third option – replacing the backstop with ill-defined “alternative arrangements”, based on unproven technology – to the anger of some Brexiteer Tories.

Read more …

Vote Corbyn, get May.

Corbyn Lays Out Labour’s Terms For Backing May On Brexit (G.)

Jeremy Corbyn has written to the prime minister, offering to throw Labour’s support behind her Brexit deal if she makes five legally binding commitments – including joining a customs union. The Labour leader held private talks with Theresa May last week for the first time since her deal was rejected by a historic margin of 230 votes in January. In a follow-up letter sent on Wednesday, he laid out in the clearest terms yet what commitments he is seeking in exchange for offering Labour support. His intervention will dismay backbench Labour MPs and grassroots activists still hoping he will switch the party’s policy towards demanding a second Brexit referendum – which is not mentioned in the letter.

And it comes as No 10 prepares to publish legislation underpinning workers’ rights, perhaps as early as next week, in an attempt to win support from Labour backbenchers. In his letter, Corbyn calls for the government to rework the political declaration setting the framework for Britain’s future relationship with the EU – and then enshrine these new negotiating objectives in UK law, so that a future Tory leader could not sweep them away after Brexit. He says the changes to the political declaration must include:

• A “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union”, including a say in future trade deals.
• Close alignment with the single market, underpinned by “shared institutions”.
• “Dynamic alignment on rights and protections”, so that UK standards do not fall behind those of the EU.
• Clear commitments on future UK participation in EU agencies and funding programmes.
• Unambiguous agreements on future security arrangements, such as use of the European arrest warrant.

Read more …

Britain can no longer manage with two parties. Same as so many countries.

Not Opposing Brexit Could Lose Labour 45 Seats (G.)

A trade union affiliated with the Labour party has claimed that Jeremy Corbyn’s party could lose an additional 45 seats in a snap election if it fails to take an anti-Brexit position, in a leaked report. The report, drawn up by the transport union TSSA and including extensive polling, was sent to the leftwing pressure group Momentum. It appears to be an attempt to pile pressure on the Labour leader over Brexit. It claims that “Brexit energises Labour remain voters” disproportionately, and warns: “There is no middle way policy which gets support from both sides of the debate.” The Guardian understands that while the report was sent to Momentum, it was not commissioned or requested by the group.

Sources inside the party stressed that there were risks from turning either way on Brexit – and other polls showed a different picture. The document – marked strictly confidential – says: “There can be no disguising the sense of disappointment and disillusionment with Labour if it fails to oppose Brexit and there is every indication that it will be far more damaging to the party’s electoral fortunes than the Iraq war. “Labour would especially lose the support of people below the age of 35, which could make this issue comparable to the impact the tuition fees and involvement in the coalition had on Lib Dem support.” The document starts by pointing out that the TSSA has “supported Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership from the very beginning”.

It says that the party’s supporters view Brexit as a “Tory project”. It adds that four-fifths of them believe the current deal will hurt the British economy and 91.4% of Labour voters do not trust the government to deliver a good Brexit for people such as them.

Read more …

Only in hindsight will Americans see the damage done by these people.

Yellen: Next Fed Move May Be A Rate Cut (CNBC)

The Federal Reserve’s next move may well be an interest rate cut if weakening growth around the world starts infecting the U.S. economy, former central bank Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday. Weakening economies in China and Europe are posing danger to an otherwise strong U.S. economy, Yellen told CNBC’s Steve Liesman during a “Power Lunch” interview. “Of course it’s possible. If global growth really weakens and that spills over to the United States where financial conditions tighten more and we do see a weakening in the U.S. economy, it’s certainly possible that the next move is a cut,” she said. “But both outcomes are possible.” The former central bank head cited “slowing global growth” as the biggest threat to the economy she once watched over. “The data from China has been recently weak, the European data has also come in weaker than expected,” she said.

Read more …

The very last people who should conduct such tests.

Fed’s Quarles Sees 2019 As An ‘Interim’ Year For Bank Stress Tests (R.)

U.S. bank stress tests conducted during an “interim” period this year will help the Federal Reserve decide what permanent changes to make to the closely followed examinations, the Fed’s point person on financial supervision Randal Quarles said on Wednesday. On Tuesday the Fed said it would make its stress testing of large banks more transparent in 2019, providing financial firms significantly more information about how their portfolios would perform under potential economic shocks. The changes respond to long-running bank complaints that the current stress-testing process is cumbersome and opaque. Less complex banks with assets between $100 billion and $250 billion, such as SunTrust Banks and Fifth Third Bancorp, do not have to face 2019 stress tests, as the Fed is moving to a two-year cycle for testing those firms.

“Our challenge now is to preserve the strength of the test, while improving its efficiency, transparency, and integration into the post-crisis regulatory framework,” Federal Reserve Vice Chairman of Supervision Randal Quarles said in remarks prepared for delivery at a Council for Economic Education event in New York. “Our experience with this ‘interim’ year will inform the move to a permanently longer testing cycle – a change that would, of course, be subject to a full notice and comment process.” The 2019 tests also include factoring in a jump to 10 percent unemployment from the current 4 percent rate, as well as elevated stress in corporate loan and commercial real estate markets in the most severe scenario.

Read more …

The press, including WaPo, have changed tactics. They no longer try for a larger audience, they make their existing readers more faithful. More subscribers, much ‘better’ targeted ads.

Press Needs More Than Super Bowl Ad To Fix Its Plunging Credibility (ZH)

Media Bias: While journalists are getting pink slips across the country, the Washington Post decided to dump a boatload of cash for a Super Bowl image ad that tried to portray the news media as national heroes. Here’s a better, and much cheaper, idea to restore the industry’s shattered reputation: Be less blatantly partisan. In the 60-second ad, Tom Hanks intones about the importance of journalists against the backdrop of historic events. Thankfully, during these times, the ad says, “There’s someone to gather the facts. To bring you the story. No matter the cost. Because knowing empowers us. Knowing helps us decide. Knowing keeps us free.” The problem with journalists today, however, is that they aren’t interested in gathering facts or empowering the public with knowledge.

Instead, they are interested mainly in pushing their agenda — a basic failing of the profession brought into high relief over the past two years. The latest IBD/TIPP Poll makes this abundantly clear. The poll asked several questions to gauge the public’s perception of the mainstream news media. What did it find? First, that fully half the country says its trust in the media decreased over the past two years. A tiny 8% say it’s increased. That includes a plurality of independents (49%). Even among Republicans, who’ve long grown accustomed to media bias, 81% say their trust in the press has dropped over the past two years. Geographically, those in the Midwest and the South are mostly likely to say their trust in the press has declined (52% and 57%, respectively) since Trump took office.

Men are far more likely than women (54% vs. 47%). And those with incomes over $75,000 (51% of home distrust the media more) more than lower-income households. These findings alone should be alarming. After all, as any corporate executive knows, you can’t run a successful business when a vast and increasing share of your customer base doesn’t trust the product you are selling. It gets worse. The poll found that more than two-thirds of the public (69%) think the news media “is more concerned with advancing its points of view rather than reporting all the facts.” Only 29% of the public disagrees with that statement. In other words, nearly seven out of 10 adults in the country think the Post ad’s blather about “gathering the facts” is bull. That includes 72% of independents, 95% of Republicans, and — surprisingly enough — 43% of Democrats.

Read more …

And how can the press pull off its tricks? Easy as pie. Edward Bernays and Goebbels.

Homo Credulus (Bowman)

Given the right circumstances… a little programing… and enough time for it all to marinate in his soft, mammalian brain… there is almost nothing Homo Credulus will not learn to embrace. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the historical record; you’ll soon wonder how we ever got this far. Sure, you’ll discover gizmos and flying contraptions… art and agriculture… music and mathematics. You’ll witness spectacular scientific breakthroughs, the number “0” and a man’s footprint on the moon. You’ll also find automobiles with so many cup holders, you won’t know where to holster your oversized 7/11 Big Gulp. But you’ll also scratch you head. Perhaps you’ll even weep. And if you think hard enough, you’ll put a few things to serious question…

“Central banks?” “Modern democracy?” “The Rosie O’Donnell Show?” How has mankind survived such atrocities? Self inflicted, no less! And why, moreover, does he rush so earnestly to repeat and replay his worst mistakes? Don’t be too hard on yourself, Dear Reader. After all, repetition is nothing new… You’ll recall that it was the Greeks who first gave the world democracy – from the Greek, demokratia, literally “Rule by ‘People’”. (And yes, it was those very same Greeks who put their own beloved Socrates to death… by a majority vote of 140-361.) Today, democracy is a cherished tenet of “the West.” It is woven into the civic religion, sewn into the social fabric. Men march off eagerly to fight for it, to proselytize it … and to die in forgotten ditches defending it. At least, that’s what they believe they’re doing. As usual, the poor saps have been duped.

The phrase “Making the world safe for democracy” was actually a marketing slogan, coined back in the 1910s, as a way to sell “The Great War” to America. Weary from their own disastrous Civil War just a few decades earlier, in which hundreds of thousands gave up the ghost, Americans were mostly inward looking at the time. That is to say, they wanted little to do with what they largely saw as a “European affair.” Polls might have indicated no appetite for battle… but the nation’s politicians were nonetheless starved for military misadventure. They sensed big profits abroad, both in manufacturing armaments and making onerous bank loans to foreign lands. Sure, “the nation” would have to fill tank and trench with warm young bodies… but very few soldiers would carry senatorial surnames along with their rifles.

Read more …

Too late already. A deliberate Monsanto policy.

French, German Farmers Must Destroy Crops After GMOs Found In Monsanto Seeds (RT)

French and German farmers have been forced to dig up thousands of hectares of rapeseed fields after authorities found an illegal GMO strain mixed in with the natural seeds they’d bought from Bayer-Monsanto. Authorities discovered the illicit seeds in three separate batches of rapeseed seeds last fall, but the public has only just been notified. While Bayer issued a recall, by the time the farmers learned of it some of the seeds had already been planted, covering 8,000 ha in France and 3,000 ha in Germany. Bayer-Monsanto estimated the number of rogue seeds at just about .005 percent of the total volume of rapeseed seeds sold to both nations under the brand name Dekalb, but each country has a ban on GMO cultivation, with strict penalties for “accidental” contamination of standard crops.

The agrochemical giant refused to estimate the total cost of the GMO contamination, which knocks out not only this season’s crop but also the next season’s, as farmers will be barred from growing rapeseed next year “to avoid re-emergence of the GMO strain,” according to Bayer-Monsanto’s French COO Catherine Lamboley. They offered to compensate farmers €2,000 per hectare, which would work out to about €20 million between both countries. The cause of the contamination is unknown, Lamboley said, claiming the seeds were produced in Argentina “in a GMO-free area” and declaring that the company “has decided to immediately stop all rapeseed production in Argentina.” The rogue GMO seeds were of a variety grown in Canada that is banned in Europe, although imported food made with the modified rapeseed is permitted for human and animal consumption as long as it is adequately labeled.

Read more …

Except those farmed.

The Killing Of Large Species Is Pushing Them Towards Extinction (G.)

The vast majority of the world’s largest species are being pushed towards extinction, with the killing of the heftiest animals for meat and body parts the leading cause of decline, according to a new study. While habitat loss, pollution and other threats pose a significant menace to large species, also known as megafauna, intentional and unintentional trapping, poaching and slaughter is the single biggest factor in their decline, researchers found. An analysis of 362 megafauna species found that 70% of them are in decline, with 59% classed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Direct killing by humans is the leading cause across all classes of animals, the study states.

A range of maladies including intensive agriculture, toxins and invasive competitors are also helping to trigger these declines. This situation adds to the “mounting evidence that humans are poised to cause a sixth mass extinction event”, according to the research, published in Conservation Letters. It adds that “minimizing the direct killing of the world’s largest vertebrates is a priority conservation strategy that might save many of these iconic species and the functions and services they provide.” Humans cause the deaths of large creatures in a variety of ways, from snares that entangle mountain gorillas and the poaching of elephants for ivory to the killing of the Chinese giant salamander, which can grow up to 6ft long and is considered a delicacy in Asia.

Read more …

So what are you going to do about it? Appeal to your politicians?

Global Warming Could Exceed 1.5ºC Within Five Years (G.)

Global warming could temporarily hit 1.5C above pre-industrial levels for the first time between now and 2023, according to a long-term forecast by the Met Office. Meteorologists said there was a 10% chance of a year in which the average temperature rise exceeds 1.5C, which is the lowest of the two Paris agreement targets set for the end of the century. Until now, the hottest year on record was 2016, when the planet warmed 1.11C above pre-industrial levels, but the long-term trend is upward. Man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are adding 0.2C of warming each decade but the incline of temperature charts is jagged due to natural variation: hotter El Niño years zig above the average, while cooler La Ninã years zag below.

In the five-year forecast released on Wednesday, the Met Office highlights the first possibility of a natural El Niño combining with global warming to exceed the 1.5C mark. Dr Doug Smith, Met Office research fellow, said: “A run of temperatures of 1C or above would increase the risk of a temporary excursion above the threshold of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Predictions now suggest around a 10% chance of at least one year between 2019 and 2023 temporarily exceeding 1.5C.” Climatologists stressed this did not mean the world had broken the Paris agreement 80 years ahead of schedule because international temperature targets are based on 30-year averages.

“Exceeding 1.5C in one given year does not mean that the 1.5C goal has been breached and can be redirected towards the bin,” said Joeri Rogelj, a lecturer at the Grantham Institute. “The noise in the annual temperatures should not distract from the long-term trend.”

Read more …

Sep 212018
 


M. C. Escher The Tower of Babel 1928

 

Two thirds of Americans get at least some of their news on social media. Google and Facebook receive well over 70% of US digital advertising revenues. The average daily time spent on social media is 2 hours. Just a few factoids that have at least one thing in common: nothing like them was around 10 years ago, let alone 20. And they depict a change, or set of changes, in our world that will take a long time yet to understand and absorb. Some things just move too fast for us to keep track of, let alone process.

Those of us who were alive before the meteoric rise of the hardware and software of ‘social’ media may be able to relate a little more and better than those who were not, but even that is not a given. There are plenty people over 20, over 30, that make one think: what did you do before you had that magic machine? When you walk down the street talking to some friend, or looking at what your friends wrote on Facebook, do you ever think about what you did in such situations before the machine came into your life?

 


From 10% to 75% in 10 years

 

We’re not going to know what the hardware and software of ‘social’ media will have done to our lives, individually and socially, for a very long time. But in the meantime, their influence will continue to shape our lives. They change our societies, the way we interact with each other, in very profound ways; we just don’t know how profound, or how, period. There can be little question that they change us as individuals too; they change how we communicate, and in such a way that there is no way they don’t also change our very brain structures in the process.

Someone who walks down a street talking to someone else 10, 100, 1000 miles away, or sees messages from such a person come in in virtual real time, experiences things that were not available ever in human history. Our brains must adapt to these changes, or we will be left behind. And while for the over-20, over-30 crowd this takes actual adaptation, for those younger than that it comes quasi pre-cooked: they’ve never known anything else. Still, their brains were formed in completely different times too. Think hunter-gatherers. And that’s just the human part of the brain.

There are too many aspects to this development to cover here. One day someone will write a book, or rather, many someones will write many books, and they will all be different. Some will focus on people’s lives being saved because their smartphones allow them to either receive or send out distress signals. Others will tell stories of teenagers committing suicide after being heckled on ‘social’ media. With yin comes yang. Millions feel better with new-found ‘friends’, and millions suffer from abuse even if they don’t kill themselves.

 

With new media, especially when it goes from 1 to 100 in no time flat, it should be no surprise that the news it delivers changes too. We went from a few dozen TV- and radio stations and newspapers to a few hundred million potential opinions in the US alone. The media are no longer a one-way street. The first effect that has had is that the chasm between news and opinion has narrowed spectacularly. If their readers post their views of what they read and see, journalists feel they have the right to vent their opinions too.

And then these opinions increasingly replace the news itself. The medium is again the message, in a way, a novel kind of way. A hundred million people write things without being restricted by due diligence or other journalistic standards, and we see journalists do that too. They will come up with lies, half-truths, innuendo, false accusations, and moreover will not retract or correct them, except when really hard-pressed. After all, who has the time when you post a hundred+ tweets a day and need to update your Facebook pages too?

Obviously, Donald Trump is an excellent example of the changing media environment. His use of Twitter was a major factor in his election victory. And then his detractors took to Twitter to launch a huge campaign accusing him of collusion with Russia to achieve that victory. They did this moving in lockstep with Bob Mueller’s investigation of that collusion accusation. But almost two years after the election, neither Mueller not the media have provided any evidence of collusion.

That, ironically, is the only thing that is actually true about the entire narrative at this point. Sure, Mueller may still have something left in his back pocket, but if he had solid proof he would have been obliged to present it. Collusion with a foreign government is too serious not to reveal evidence of. Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that in September 2018, Mueller has no such evidence. But what about the thousands of printed articles and the millions of Tweets and Facebook posts claiming collusion that were presented as true?

Funny you asked. What they prove is not collusion, but the changing media landscape. The anti-Trump echo-chamber that I’ve written about many times has been going strong for two years and shows no signs of abating. There are still lots of people posting a hundred (re-)tweets etc. daily who are being read by many others, all of them confirming their biases in a never fulfilled feeding frenzy.

This is not about Trump. And I’m not a Trump supporter. This is instead about the media, and the humongous difference interactivity has made. And about the fact that it hasn’t just added a hundred million voices, it has also altered the way traditional media report the news, in an effort to keep up with those hundred million.

 

The thing here that is about Trump, is that he’s everybody’s favorite meal ticket. He confirms everyone’s opinion, whether for or against him, by the way he uses media. And most importantly, they all make a lot of money off of him. The New York Times and WaPo and MSNBC would be in deep financial trouble without Trump. Like they were before he came along. Polarization of opinions saved them. Well, not the WaPo, Jeff Bezos can afford to run 1000 papers like that and lose money hand over fist. But for the NYT and many others a Trump impeachment would be disastrous. Funny, right?

Another thing that is obvious is that one thing still sells above all others: sex. The smear campaign against Julian Assange has been successful in one way only, and it’s been a smash hit: the rape allegations. Completely false, entirely made up, dragged out as long as possible, and turning millions, especially women, against him.

The accusations against Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh haven’t been around long enough to be discredited. Maybe they will be, maybe they won’t. But read through newspaper articles, watch TV shows, follow Twitter, and you see countless voices already convinced ‘he did it’. And that ‘it’ is often labeled ‘rape’, though that’s not the accusation.

But it’s part of the Anti-Trump train, and the echo-chamber has gone into overdrive once again. Even if everyone understands that a 36-year old accusation must be handled with care. The accusing woman’s lawyer says the FBI must investigate, and everyone says: FBI! FBI!. Conveniently forgetting that the FBI has been far from impartial with regards to Trump, and the White House is not exactly waiting for another FBI role.

What’s wrong with waiting till you know the facts? Why judge a situation you know nothing about other than a woman accuses a man of assault 36 years ago, and doesn’t remember time, location etc.?

 

And that’s the thing all along, isn’t it? That people, both readers and journalists, all 200 million Americans of them, think they have acquired the right to judge any person, any situation they read a few lines about, just because they have purchased a smartphone. A faulty notion fed on a daily basis by the fact there are millions who think just like them.

We may want to rethink the terms ‘social’ media and ‘smart’ phone. They sound good, but they don’t cover the true nature of either. It’s hard to say where all this is going, but the sharply increasing polarization of society is certainly not a good sign. People feeling they have the right to accuse others without knowing facts, people building a Russiagate narrative without evidence, these are not things a society should welcome, whether they’re profitable or not.

Meanwhile, there are two people (there are many more, of course) who were banned from the platforms so many others use to draw baseless conclusions and spout empty accusations. And we miss them both, or we should: Alex Jones and Julian Assange. Have they really used ‘social’ media in worse ways than those 200 million Americans? Or were they banned because millions of Americans were following and reading their non-mainstream views?

We better get a grip on this, and on ourselves, or we won’t get another chance. What we have seen so far is that it’s not that hard to shape people’s opinions in a world with information overload. And that process is about to get a whole lot more intense. Until all you’re left with is the illusion that your opinion is actually your own.

 

 

Apr 212018
 
 April 21, 2018  Posted by at 12:43 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  11 Responses »


Arthur Rothstein Lower Broadway, New York 1941

 

British media report today that Donald Trump may visit the country in late summer. (Renewed) calls for mass protests are everywhere, of course. The Metro news outlet features a picture of a pamphlet that reads No To Racism. No To Trump, that dates from an earlier occasion (Trump was supposed to come several times, but never did).

Now, good luck with those protests, it’s still a free country, in name at least. But boy oh boy, would you guys miss the point. Because as we now all know – or could-, your country is being governed by a group of people who are so racist they make even Trump’s fake tan pale in comparison. If Theresa May is still in office by the time Trump visits, you’re all a bunch of racists.

Both May and her Home Secretary Amber Rudd – and you all know they’re far from alone- look so completely deranged in reports about the Windrush scandal that you will have to get rid of them first, or else shut up about Trump because you will have no moral ground whatsoever left on which to protest his visit.

For those of you who don’t know what Windrush is about, and if you’re British you have no excuse not to know, it’s the name given to a group of people who arrived, on invitation, in Britain between the late 1940s and early 1970s, often as children, and whose legal status in the country is now put in so much doubt that some have already been deported, some are denied health care, and all live in fear. Despite having lived and worked and paid taxes all their lives.

There are many instances of people who have never left Britain for a family visit, some who can’t see their own children because they did go for that visit and weren’t allowed back in, the entire story is so appalling and disastrous it’s hard to read the various reports on it. The common denominator of all of these people? They are black.

 

Windrush: When Even Legal Residents Face Deportation

In the aftermath of World War II, the British government invited thousands of people from Caribbean countries in the British Commonwealth to immigrate to the United Kingdom and help address the war-torn country’s labor shortages. Now, nearly 70 years later, many of those same people, now elderly, are having their legal status in the country questioned and are facing deportation. Though the deportation threats date as far back as October, the crisis burst into wider view this week after Caribbean diplomats representing a dozen Commonwealth nations chastised the U.K. government publicly. “This is about people saying, as they said 70 years ago, ‘Go back home.’ It is not good enough for people who gave their lives to this country to be treated like this,” Guy Hewitt, the high commissioner from Barbados to the U.K., said at a gathering of the diplomats.

As for the Guardian, which claims it broke the story, here’s a question: where were you all those years? As for Theresa May, who when she occupied the Home Office from 2010-2016 and devised all manner of tough-on-immigrants measures that have now spread to people the UK itself invited into its nation: you have to go. You cannot continue to be the face of Britain, because you blemish any and all of your fellow country men and women.

 

 

As for Donald Trump, as much as we would like to engage in constructive criticism of the man and his government, we find we no longer can. The anti-Trump echo-chamber has turned so deafening that any intelligent debate about his policies is being drowned out amid the never ending flow of fake news and half truths and innuendo and empty smears that US media continue to spout. With a brief lull when the bombs fell on Syria.

Thank you, New York Times, WaPo, CNN, MSNBC. Thank you for killing the entire discussion, thank you for killing off journalism. There is a lot to say about Trump, much of it critical, but we can no longer open our mouths. Because we don’t want to be in the same camp as you. Life in the echo chamber has given us vertigo. We had to get out.

And now, what are you going to do? The DNC lawsuit-for-campaign-cash which was launched yesterday against everything Trump, plus Wikileaks, plus everything Russia, may appear to you to be a nice and juicy next episode in your ‘impeach the comb-over’ narrative, but if I were you, I’d be careful. Because the suit creates the ideal ground upon which the empire can strike back.

And the counter suits look a lot stronger. The DNC has nothing on Russia, Wikileaks and most Trump affiliated people and organizations, as the Mueller investigation has shown by now. But Loretta Lynch, the “Pakistani mystery man”, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Comey, McCabe, and many more around Hillary Clinton, that’s a whole different story.

First of all, they haven’t been investigated for well over a year. But can you see Rosenstein now still refusing to appoint a second special counsel and going after anything Democrat? It would cost him his job, and for good reason. And then what will the place of the echo chamber be? What have been your sources on Trump et al over the past, let’s say, 18 months? How are you going to report on your own role? Someone’s going to ask these questions.

And, you know, you do know that at least someone will name Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize if he pulls off ‘pacifying’ North Korea. How will you address that? See, you can’t praise the Donald anymore even if he does achieve things -other than missiles-, and we can’t criticize him anymore for what does indeed go wrong because you monopolized that criticism with your opinionated 24/7 non-news. While claiming to be the serious press.

Trump must be very grateful to you for what you’ve done. Come to think of it, perhaps that second special counsel should look into any payments you have received from Russia. Because nobody has helped Trump more than you have. Except perhaps for the Britons who plan to protest his visit with their racist prime minister.

Why do I feel like most of the world has lost its compass? Like we’re all just aimlessly bobbing around on a sea of meaningless words? You know, Trump territory.

 

 

Jan 292018
 
 January 29, 2018  Posted by at 8:02 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Lucien Hervé The Accuser, Delhi, India 1955

 

Tomorrow we have the State of the Union. Donald Trump will be gloating from ear to ear, but he’ll be subdued – by his standards. Expect perhaps $1 or even $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending to be announced, plus an immigration plan that gives Democrats much of what they want in exchange for some of the things Trump wants, as well as more on trade surpluses and deficits. The Democrats will attempt to turn it into a circus of sorts by bringing guests, and they will fail.

What America needs right now is dialogue, but it’s only moving further away from it. Anything that’s wrong with anything or anyone gets blamed on Trump. By half the population. That’s nice and easy and convenient, but it doesn’t lead anywhere.

This pic, even though it features a very dumb question, says a lot about where the country stands, and it’s not standing pretty. Everybody’s just busy confirming their own opinions 24/7, egged on by networks, newspapers and social media. It’s like Moses split the nation.

 

 

Watched the Trump speech in Davos last week. He made all the points you would expect him to. No scandals, nothing anyone could blame him for. In fact, it’s true that the US economy is doing well, in Trump terms. They’re not my terms, because they laud stock markets that quit being actual markets the moment the Fed and it global brethren killed off price discovery. But in Trump terms a record S&P 500 is all you need to know, alongside low unemployment numbers, even if the latter have everything to do with underpaid shit jobs robbed of all benefits American workers once fought so hard for.

In Trump’s view, that’s a good thing. In mine, it’s a recipe for mayhem. I was watching CNN in the build-up to the speech, and Trump’s denial of the NYT report that he had intended to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller was completely ignored. Like he never said it. At CNN, anonymous sources have -way- more credibility than the president. That’s a bit of a problem.

After the speech, all sorts of people were interviewed, and Joe Stiglitz of Nobel Memorial fame was one of them. He couldn’t muster anything better than that Trump is a bigot, a misogynist and a racist. That’s a terribly poor reaction to a speech like the one we saw and heard -which included not one word that would make any sane person think of these ‘topics’-, certainly from an economist.

 

The 1-year-old Donald Trump presidency has brought us a lot of new things, but none more significant than that Trump has been under investigation since day 1 (and even before that). This sets a dangerous precedent that will resound through US politics for a very long time to come, not least of all because today, one year into the presidency, none of the investigations has resulted in anything tangible, while they continue without a finish line in sight.

The problem with that is that if you can do it with one president, someone will do it with the next one and the next one after that as well. Which does great damage not to Trump, but to the entire US political system, and the Office of the President of the United States in particular. If the office cannot command sufficient respect on Capitol Hill to limit any such investigation to an absolute minimum, in deference to what it represents, why would anyone else, domestically or abroad, show such respect?

Obviously, some people may claim that the situation is unique, simply because it concerns Trump, but that argument doesn’t fly very far, because he was elected president, the culmination of a process that, given the powers endowed upon the office, should be close to sacred in the country. And if the very people (s)he must most closely work with, in the Senate and the House, are willing to subject a newly elected president to endless investigations without producing any results for a whole year, where and what are the limits?

It is at present of course all based on opaque accusations of the Trump campaign working with Russian intelligence to swing America’s election process in favor of the president. But to date, four different committees on Capitol Hill, plus Special Counsel Robert Mueller, have made nothing public that proves any such ‘collusion’. And Mueller’s investigation is not only unlimited in time, it’s also unlimited, in practical terms, in scope: whatever is deemed even possibly, perhaps, linked to collusion with Russia, goes.

 

The American empire was built, once it had acquired enough geopolitical, financial and military power, on invading countries and turning them into shithouses. It wasn’t and original idea, America wasn’t the first country to do it, but it’s certainly been no. 1 in applying the ‘tactic’ over the past 100 years and change. Which makes it curious that when its own elected president calls some countries shithouses, that is treated like the worst thing anybody could have said anytime in history. And racist too, allegedly.

The entire country was built on racism, and it’s still to his day almost exclusively run by white males. Much of the racism may be hidden by now, but it’s still very much there. Go look at Baltimore, Chicago, Milwaukee, and the long list of black kids killed by white cops. It’s not much use trying to claim that America is over its past. But Trump is singled out as a racist, though it’s unclear what would make him worse than others.

And on Martin Luther King Day, all Democrats and many Republicans fell over each other once again claiming they knew exactly what Dr. King stood for in his days, and what he would have said if he were alive today (the same they thermselves say). They don’t have a clue. The only way to honor MLK is to assume he would have been lightyears ahead of you. To assume he would have condemned all US foreign as well as domestic policy, and the likes of Bill Clinton, both George Bushes, Trump, and even Obama, wouldn’t even have had a remote chance of becoming president.

 

Allegedly Trump never said “shithole countries”, but instead talked about “shithouse countries”. Which would explain why he could say he never used the language he was quoted as having used (“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”) That a private conversation with lawmakers held in the Oval Office was leaked again within no time will not only frustrate Trump to no end, it also paints a dangerous picture of the future of US politics.

What used to be the exclusive domain of police officers and TV series, the catchy line “anything you say can and will be used against you”, no longer applies only to suspected criminals, from here on in it should be read to American presidents too. Trump and his successors will no longer be able to discuss policy in the White House, they must assume everything they say will be in the press within hours if not minutes. That is dangerous.

But let’s dig some more. And ask ourselves what is worse, let alone more racist: turning nations into shithouses or calling them that after the fact. Half the planet was encouraged to speak out in indignation at the use of the term, but where were all those Americans when the bombs and drones were unleashed upon Syria, Libya, Iraq? Where were the media?

Trump singled out Haiti and El Salvador. Two completely different ‘cases’. But also too complete basket cases (another word for shithouse) , compared to their potential. Haiti was the first slave colony to liberate itself, under black rule. That was in 1804, and if you know what Americans’ view of slaves and black people in general was back then, you can imagine how the former no. 1 global sugar producer was treated. By France, the country that had ruled it, but also by America. And you want to claim Haiti is not a shithouse country today? Go to Port-au-Prince and ask people living in the poor part of town how they feel about that.

As for African countries, the Congo is always a good example. The richest nation on the planet when it comes to natural resources, and one of the poorest when it comes to living standards. Long governed by a regime under Belgium’s King Leopold, matched in cruelty only perhaps by Germany in WWII, the Congo is still maintained as a hellhole to this day. So American and European conglomerates can dig up the metals and minerals almost for free. Not a shithole, a hellhole.

No, Trump is not going to solve that, but he didn’t make it what it is either. Generations of Americans did that. Yeah, we understand why they don’t want it named the way Trump has.

Perhaps the best illustration of how convoluted the entire issue quickly became after Trump said shithouse, which then became shithole, is this LA Times article, which starts out with the headline that Americans with African roots ‘should’ all be insulted, but then rapidly devolves into something else altogether, that insults them a lot more: the history of American involvement in their countries. Slavery, occupation, warfare, plunder.

 

For Black Americans, Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Comment Was An Insult To Their Histories

Kimberly Atkins, the Washington bureau chief of the Boston Herald, recently did a DNA test “that pretty much confirmed my heritage is 100% the result of the slave trade,” she wrote in a private message on Twitter. “Eighty-seven percent from western coastal African countries and 13% European, all migrated by way of the American South.”

She traced part of her heritage to an ancestor who fought in the Union during the Civil War to guarantee his freedom and the abolition of the U.S. slave trade. “My ancestors did not come from shithole countries,” she tweeted. “They were neither tired nor poor. They were forcibly brought here to live in a shithole created for them.”

Trump’s singling out of Haiti was particularly frustrating for descendants from the Caribbean nation, coming as the nation mourned the eighth anniversary of an earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of residents.

“Haiti is not unacquainted with racists or white supremacists. We defeated our share of them in 1804 when we became the world’s first black republic,” Haitian American author Edwidge Danticat wrote in a post on Facebook, expressing her frustration that Haitians’ mourning was being diverted by an insult from Trump.

Danticat’s father came to Brooklyn, N.Y., to drive a taxicab “sometimes sixteen hours a day, so that my three brothers (two teachers and an IT specialist) and I could have a better life,” Danticat wrote.

Danticat added: “We are also the country that the United States has invaded several times, preventing us from consistently ruling ourselves. If we are a poor country, then our poverty comes in part from pillage and plunder.”

Clint Smith, a writer and PhD candidate at Harvard University specializing in sociology and education, said that he hoped that at least the president’s remarks would prompt a fuller conversation about past U.S. and European involvement with the countries Trump mentioned — countries still troubled by the legacy of colonial rule and military interventions.

“You can’t understand the economic conditions in which Haiti exists now without understanding the centuries and centuries of direct imperialism and violence and economic exploitation that the country experienced after the Haitian revolution of 1804,” Smith said. “We can’t have a real conversation about what is happening, why Salvadorans are coming here, without discussing how the U.S. contributed to the civil unrest in that country.”

The larger conversation, Smith said, “is not often enough taking into account the way that U.S. policy directly contributed to the condition in which so many of these so-called shitholes are currently existing.”

 

The woman who says “My ancestors did not come from shithole countries” says it best. Before the slave traders came to ship their ancestors to Brazil and later America, their countries were not shithouses. But they did become just that after, and many if not most still are now.

From a less echo chamber-confined point of view, this little thingy is priceless:

 

 

That points to an aspect of all this that we can not ignore: the media. There has a been a profound shirt in that field, and it happened fast, it turned on a dime. The first signs were already there before the Trump presidency, but it’s all been going going gone out of the park since. Media organizations (for lack of a better term) like the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC and CNN were anti-Trump from the get-go, but it was when they found out their attitude was commercially very interesting that they really went for it.

And in a way, that made sense; they all had big problems trying to adapt their business models to the internet age. Then they found that publishing one after another anti-Trump piece brought them tons of new subscribers and advertisement revenue. Also for their internet presence. One stone, two birds.

The problem is that all that revenue and readership comes from one half of America, and excludes the other half. You know beforehand that anything these firms publish about Trump will be biased, and not a little bit. Much of it is based on anonymous sources, not exactly a sign of solid journalism. But it sells. And they have a business to run. We get it.

For those outside of the echo chamber, however, they have become largely unreadable and unwatchable. It’s obvious by now that someone like me, who asks a few questions and doesn’t feel comfortable in an echo chamber, will almost of necessity be ‘accused’ of being a Trump supporter. Absolute nonsense, but that’s echo chambers for you. They’re deafening and they lead to brain damage in case of long term occupancy.

Perhaps even worse are social media, where untold numbers of people revel in the notion that many others think like them, and let that carry them away to ‘heights’ they would never have thought possible. In the case of Trump, many allow themselves to call him names -in writing- they never would have dared use before, but they see echoed back to them on Twitter and Facebook et al.

That their often insults of Trump in effect show their disrespect for America’s political system would never occur to them. It’s an us against them battle, and they feel greatly emboldened by the 24/7 presence of those that are like-minded. It’s entirely unclear where this is going in the future, but it should be obvious it won’t be anywhere pretty.

Neither Bob Mueller nor those 4 committees on Capitol Hill have presented anything of substance as of now, but it’s crystal clear that Donald Trump is not being considered innocent until proven guilty. Which not only goes straight against, and into the heart of, American values and principles of justice, it also doesn’t even begin to address the real problem.

The real problem, and it’s not new at all, is that both US political parties might as well be run by Tony Soprano. The presence inside party leadership of people like Steve Wynn is ridiculous, but so is that of John Podesta. That is undoubtedly blindingly obvious for a vast majority of Americans, but it’s not what they focus on. They focus on Trump instead, on the still contagious obsession with impeaching him, even though many understand that wouldn’t solve any of the underlying issues.

 

And then Trump gets to present great economic numbers tomorrow. The numbers are mostly fake, but they’re the same ones that the echo chamber media also use, so they’ll have to tackle him somewhere else. They’ll come up with something, don’t worry. Their audience will just wait to be fed the usual pre-chewed bite-size fare anyway.

America needs a dialogue. But all it has left is loud, echoing, deafening, monologues. And plenty shithouse counties and cities and neighborhoods within its own borders as well. For which, too, it’s useless to blame Trump. He’s just the logical conclusion of years of blindness, ignorance, greed, stupidity and neglect. All of which, as long as everyone focuses on him, are guaranteed to continue.

Trump is not what’s wrong with America. Rather, what is wrong with America is what has given it Trump. Someone asked God for a sign and He said: here you are.

 

 


Little shithouses for you and me

 

 

Jul 302017
 
 July 30, 2017  Posted by at 8:33 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Debt Rattle July 30 2017


Gertrude Käsebier Young negro woman, Newport, Rhode Island 1902

 

Wall Street Isn’t Ready For A 1,100-Point Tumble In The Dow Industrials (MW)
Dangerous Game: Shorting the VIX (Barron’s)
Zombie Companies Littering Europe May Tie the ECB’s Hands for Years (BBG)
Markets Relax Merrily on a Powerful Time Bomb (WS)
US Economic Resilience Is An Exaggeration (DDMB)
The Quest To Prove Collusion Is Crumbling (WaPo)
What’s The Matter With Democrats – Thomas Frank (IBT)
Decades From Now, They’ll Say He Had “The Tweets” (Jim Kunstler)
Leasehold Tycoon Whose Firms Control 40,000 UK Homes (G.)
Companies Abandon Nearly One Million Hectares of Alberta Oilsands (CP)
EU Accused Of ‘Wilfully Letting Refugees Drown’ In The Mediterranean (Ind.)

 

 

And it never will be.

Wall Street Isn’t Ready For A 1,100-Point Tumble In The Dow Industrials (MW)

The U.S. stock market has been on such a parabolic march higher that Wall Street investors may have forgotten what a typical, sharp downturn feels like. Indeed, much has been made about the lack of volatility. The CBOE Volatility Index otherwise known as the “fear gauge,” had been flirting with its lowest close on record, implying that market expectations for a sharp, sudden fall are near rock bottom, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite Index scale new heights. (The Dow notched a fresh record on Friday to end the week 1.2% higher.) The recent level of complacency permeating the market has pundits talking about the lack of 5% falls in the market—an occurrence that isn’t unusual in a normal market environment. However, a 5% tumble, while normal, isn’t that common either. It has occurred at least 75 times over the course of the blue-chip index’s, according to WSJ Market Data Group, using data going back to 1901.

The Dow, however, hasn’t experienced a 5% decline since 2011, and before that a 5% drop hadn’t happened since 2008, when there were 9 such drops: At this point, with the Dow just 200 points shy of 22,000, a 5% selloff would equate to a 1,100-point, one-day slide in the gauge. Is the market ready for that sort of sudden jolt lower, given the optics of a quadruple-digit downturn and how it might rattle investment psyche? Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, doesn’t think so. “I would say no because we’re out of practice. Your usual standard garden-variety volatility just hasn’t been around, and we haven’t seen it for 12 months,” Hogan told MarketWatch. “Quiet markets have been the norm and not the exception and I think a major pullback is going to feel a whole lot larger for lack of experience and the numbers are larger,” he said.

Even a 2.5% drop in the Dow, adding up a 550-point decline, could be unsettling, market participants said. Those sorts of tumbles are far more frequent, with 564 such moves of that magnitude occurring in the Dow since 1901. The most recent slump of at least 2.5% was on June 24, 2016, when the Dow tumbled about 610 points, or 3.4%, a day after U.K. citizens voted to end the country’s membership in the EU. There were 3 falls for the Dow of at least 2.5% in 2015. Hogan said it is even hard to imagine what the landscape of the market would like in the face of a plunge of the same magnitude of the 1987 crash, when the Dow lost 22.6% of its value, or 508 points, in a single session. “That’s why it is hard for investors to think about it intuitively. We have no muscle memory for it. It’s hard to harken back to 30 years ago. We have been lulled to sleep,” he said.

Read more …

What always happpens when everyone is on the same side of the boat.

Dangerous Game: Shorting the VIX (Barron’s)

As stocks keep dancing around record highs, and the CBOE Volatility Index remains historically low, some investors are preparing for a violent end to one of the world’s most popular trades: shorting volatility. A one-day Standard & Poor’s 500 correction of 3% to 4% could force some funds that short futures on the index, such as the ProShares Short VIX Short-term Future s exchange-traded fund (ticker: SVXY) and the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX ST ETN (XIV), to cover their positions. That could make the VIX skyrocket. If the weighted-average of 30-day VIX futures sharply jumped—say by 80% in one day—it would, in turn, trigger an “acceleration event” that would force more funds to buy back short VIX futures contracts. Some VIX funds could face margin calls.

And a chain reaction would likely explode across the volatility spectrum and ultimately the stock market, pushing down share prices and boosting volatility further. So many institutional investors use strategies that increase portfolio leverage as equity volatility declines that Marko Kolanovic, JPMorgan’s top quantitative strategist, fears the markets are nearing a turning point. “While these strategies include concepts like ‘risk control’, ‘crisis alpha’, etc. in various degrees they rely on selling into market weakness to cut losses. This creates a ‘stop-loss order’ that gets larger in size and closer to the current market price as volatility gets lower,” Kolanovic wrote last week. The S&P 500’s realized volatility–the level that’s materialized already—is the lowest since 1966. That influences expectations for future, or implied, volatility.

In fact, CBOE Volatility Index levels are so meager that relatively small point moves can create big percentage changes, creating a major problem for VIX funds. “The one-day percentage change is a big deal in the VIX complex because the levered and inverse VIX ETFs and ETNs rebalance daily, based on the percentage change, and some of the thresholds for forced [unwinding of positions] are based on the percentage change. This is why lower volatility creates higher risk,” Christopher Metli, a Morgan Stanley quantitative derivatives strategist, recently warned clients.

Read more …

But Draghi gets praised for saving the EU economy. Well, you can’t have it both ways. Decide.

Zombie Companies Littering Europe May Tie the ECB’s Hands for Years (BBG)

Watch out for the zombies. The plethora of companies propped up by the ECB will limit policy makers’ ability to withdraw monetary stimulus that’s been supporting the continent’s bond market since the financial crisis, according to strategists at Bank of America. About 9% of Europe’s biggest companies could be classified as the walking dead, companies that risk collapse if the support dries up, according to the analysts. After the crash of Lehman Brothers sent global markets into a tailspin, a decade of easy-money policies gave breathing room for nations to get their balance sheets in check and allowed for a spirited revival in corporate profits. But as central bankers look to pull back stimulus for fear of overheating, the potentially grim outlook for vulnerable companies may give them pause, according to Bank of America.

“Monetary support in Europe over the last five years has allowed companies with weak profitability to continue to refinance their debt and stave off defaults,” analysts led by Barnaby Martin wrote in a note Monday. “This supports the point that our economists have been making: that the ECB will likely be very slow and patient in removing their extraordinary stimulus over the next year and a half.” The strategists classify zombies as non-financial companies in the Euro Stoxx 600 with interest-coverage ratios – earnings relative to interest expenses – at 1 or less. The thinking goes that companies in this category are particularly vulnerable to rising interest rates. About 6% of European companies had a coverage ratio of less than 1 on the eve of Lehman’s downfall, a %age that fell to as low as 5% in 2013 when the euro-area sovereign debt crisis cooled.

Zombies shot up to as high as 11% in June 2016 before easing in recent months. Energy companies, thanks to weak oil prices, and those based in southern Europe –particularly smaller firms faced with weak profit generation amid feeble growth – make up a disproportionate share of the zombie world, according to Bank of America. To be sure, different metrics tell different stories about the health of corporate leverage, with some investors citing growth projections and yardsticks like net debt to earnings as reasons bond buyers can be more sanguine. But the coverage ratio is particularly useful in projecting how companies can cover debt costs from their earnings as interest costs rise.

Read more …

Leverage kills.

Markets Relax Merrily on a Powerful Time Bomb (WS)

Stock and bond market leverage is everywhere. Some of it is transparent, such as NYSE margin debt which was $539 billion as of the June report. But the hottest form of stock and bond market leverage is opaque, offered by financial firms that usually don’t disclose the totals: securities-based loans (SBLs) — or “shadow margin” because no one knows how much of it there is. But it’s a lot. And it’s booming. These loans can be used for anything – pay for tuition, fix up that kitchen, or fund a vacation. The money is spent, the loan remains. When security prices fall, the problems begin. Finra, the regulator for brokerages, doesn’t track this shadow margin, nor does the SEC. Both, however, have been warning about the risks. No one knows the overall amount of this shadow margin, but some details have been reported:

Morgan Stanley had $36 billion of these loans on its balance sheet as of the end of 2016, up 26% from 2016, and more than twice the amount in 2013. • Bank of America Merrill Lynch had $40 billion in SBLs on the balance sheet at the end of 2016, up 140% from 2010; • UBS and Wells Fargo “also have made billions in such loans, people familiar with those banks” told the Wall Street Journal. Raymond James, Stifel Nicolaus… they’re all doing it. • Fidelity used to fund its own SBLs for its clients, but three years ago partnered with US Bancorp. • Even the little ones are trying to get their slice of the pie: In April, robo-advisory startup Wealthfront, with less than $6 billion, announced that it would offer SBLs to its clients.

And now Goldman Sachs, which has been offering SBLs to its 12,000 super-wealthy clients through its Private Banking unit — accounting “for more than half of the unit’s $29 billion in loans outstanding,” according to the Wall Street Journal — announced on Thursday that this wasn’t enough and that it is partnering with Fidelity Investments to spread these loans far and wide.

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No. It’s an outright lie. Pure make believe.

US Economic Resilience Is An Exaggeration (DDMB)

Are US Federal Reserve stress tests leading economic indicators? That certainly seems to be the case. Just ask Capital One. As of the first quarter, credit card loss provisions at Capital One were above 5%, a six-year high. The company recorded some improvement for the second quarter, yet Fed stress tests of the bank’s overall loan portfolio in a deep downturn show losses topping 12%. That explains Capital One’s “conditional” passing score, a black eye that prompted a reduced share buy-back plan and no increase in its dividend. Most economists today applaud the resilience of the current recovery, which has stretched into its eighth year, the third-longest in postwar history. Resilience and rising household defaults, though, don’t tend to go hand in hand.

Pressures have been building in the background for some time. When adjusted for inflation, credit card usage has grown faster than incomes for 18 months. According to Fed data, that time frame coincides with the upturn in revolving credit, a proxy for credit card debt. In November 2015, outstanding revolving credit crossed above the $900-billion threshold for the first time since December 2009. By May of this year, annual growth was clocking 8.7%. Meanwhile, credit card balances hit $1.02 trillion, the highest level in almost eight years. Whether by choice or force, the aftermath of the financial crisis prompted households to ratchet back their usage of credit cards. As the recovery got underway, frugality prevailed, punctuated by an increase in debit card purchases.

It is thus notable that Bank of America data find debit card usage has weakened in recent years as households grew more comfortable rebuilding their credit card balances. “Confidence” is the term most associated with the rising credit card debt. But it’s fair to ask why confident households would choose to pay so dearly for the privilege. At 15.83%, the average rate on credit card balances is at a record high. It is more likely that households are increasingly tapping their credit cards to cover the cost of necessities, that they are less confident and more anxious about their future finances.

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This should be presented as a major mea culpa by WaPo, but no, it’s not them, it’s “the media” who screwed up. NYT runs similar piece. WIll they all fit through the exit door at the same time?

The Quest To Prove Collusion Is Crumbling (WaPo)

While everyone is fixated on President Trump’s unbecoming and inexplicable assault on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the media has been trying to sneak away from the “Russian collusion” story. That’s right. For all the breathless hype, the on-air furrowed brows and the not-so-veiled hopes that this could be Watergate, Jared Kushner’s statement and testimony before Congress have made Democrats and many in the media come to the realization that the collusion they were counting on just isn’t there. As the date of the Kushner testimony approached, the media thought it was going to advance and refresh the story. But Kushner’s clear, precise and convincing account of what really occurred during the campaign and after the election has left many of President Trump’s loudest enemies trying to quietly back out of the room unnoticed.

Cable news airtime and in-print word count dedicated to the nonexistent collusion story appear to be dwindling. Democrats and their allies in the media seem less eager to talk about it, and when they do, they say something to the effect of “but, but, but … Kushner didn’t answer every question … He wasn’t under oath … There are still more witnesses … What about this or that new gadfly?” They are stammering. And it hasn’t taken long for news producers and editors to realize that the story is fading. At last, the story that never was is not happening. There are a few showstoppers from Kushner’s testimony that make it obvious to any fair-minded, thinking person that there was no collusion with Russia. In his own words, Kushner makes it clear that his actions were innocent but, at times, misguided and ill-conceived.

He plainly states he had “hardly any” contacts with Russians during the campaign and found his June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and the infamous Russian lawyer to be an absolute “waste of time.” Democrats and their allies in the media have exhausted themselves building a scandalous narrative surrounding the Russian lawyer meeting, but according to Kushner, the meeting was so useless that he “actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after [he] had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote ‘Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.”’ Maybe the collusion didn’t take very long, or maybe he realized what the lawyer had to say was a useless farce and he wanted to get on with his day.

Much to the dismay of Trump’s haters, Kushner’s account of events even further proves just how far the media has stretched the collusion story. When the campaign received an official note of congratulations from Russian President Vladimir Putin the day after the election, Kushner had to send Dimitri Simes of the Center for the National Interest an email asking for the name of the Russian ambassador so that he could reach out and confirm the message’s authenticity. So, that’s that. If you can’t remember your handler’s name, you can’t be guilty of nefariously colluding with that person. How much collusion could Kushner have possibly done with someone whom he had so little communication with that he could not remember his name and did not know how to contact him?

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From interview with David Sirota. Party has no future. Get out or go down with it.

What’s The Matter With Democrats – Thomas Frank (IBT)

Basically, I think the Democratic party is in deep trouble. The evidence of that is now plain, I think, to everyone — that they’re in a state of historic wipe-out across the country and in both of Houses of Congress, and of course, they lost the presidency, too… The leadership of the party have persuaded themselves that they don’t really have a problem, that all they have to do is wait for [Donald] Trump to screw up and they’ll waltz right back in, and so they don’t have to do anything different. I think Trump represents the culmination of a long-term shift of working people, working-class people away from the Democratic Party.

[..] The way I look at it is that this is a long-term problem. This is a culmination of a very long-term problem with the Democrats very gradually, but definitely, abandoning the interests of working-class voters, identifying themselves instead with a more affluent group, with the affluent white-collar professionals. It starts in the 1970s with the Democrats removing organized labor from its structural position in the Democratic party, and then it goes up through Bill Clinton getting NAFTA done, the free trade deals that the Democrats have … By the way, in my opinion, free trade or the trade agreements, I should say, was probably the issue that if there was one issue that really did Hillary in, I think that’s what it was: the trade deals under the Clinton administration, Obama sort of dropping the ball on labor’s various issues, doing these incredible favors for Wall Street while he blew off the concerns of union.

[..] Bailouts. The Wall Street bailout was the worst. This was, of course, George W. Bush … No, take a step back further. The deregulation under Clinton. Do you remember, bank deregulation was something that we now think of it as one of the central elements of neoliberalism, but Reagan couldn’t get it done. Reagan tried. They put some dents in Glass Steagall when Reagan was president, but it took a Democrat to really get it done, Bill Clinton, and it wasn’t just blowing up Glass-Steagall. There was this whole series of bank deregulatory measures when he was president. By the end of his term in office, basically, Wall Street was more or less openly identified with the Democratic Party. This is an enormous historical shift…

The Democratic party [used to be] this sworn enemy of Wall Street. Franklin Roosevelt broke up all of these banks, the Glass Steagall Act, put all these banks out of business, and set up the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate these guys, all of these regulatory measures. That’s the Democratic heritage. That’s the legacy of the New Deal. Up until the days of Clinton, that’s really who the Democratic Party was. They had a very populist tone, and they would never identify themselves with Wall Street. Barack Obama comes in, and I was one of these people who thought that he represented a turn back in the other direction and that he would be, very shortly would be, getting tough with Wall Street. He had all the bailouts were underway. He had total authority over these guys, and he didn’t do it. Instead, he appointed all these various Clinton people to come in and manage the bailout situation.

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Like that line.

Decades From Now, They’ll Say He Had “The Tweets” (Jim Kunstler)

I know I’m not the first to point out how Anthony Scaramucci, President Trump’s brand new Communications Director, is suddenly and eerily carrying on like his namesake, the arch-rascal / buffoon of the Old World Commedia dell’Arte in lashing out at his fellow scamps and bozos in the clown school that the White House has become. Of course, these antics only reflect the astounding violent vulgarity of current US culture in general, especially as it recursively re-amplifies itself in the distorting echo chamber of TV. It’s how we roll nowadays – right up the collective butt-hole of history until some fateful event provokes a last frightful purging of our own bullshit. Still, it was rather shocking to hear Scaramucci refer to White House Chief of Staff Rance Priebus as “a fucking paranoid schizophrenic” and Trump ultra-insider Steve Bannon as someone who “enjoys sucking his own cock.”

It’s kind of like Paulie Walnuts of “The Sopranos” wandered into the West Wing of “Veep.” Somebody’s gonna get whacked, and it’ll be a laugh-riot when it happens. We need a little comic relief in these midsummer horse latitudes of the mind as the ill-starred Trump Show appears to enter its ceremonial death dance. There’s also something satisfyingly Napoleonesque about Scaramucci. Here’s a guy who cuts through the odious blubber of US politics right to the bone of things with a flensing blade of profane righteousness. Personally, I’d like to see him take some whacks at a few more deserving targets, and I can even imagine a somewhat farfetched scenario where the little guy shoves Trump out during a concocted national emergency and manages to declare himself First Citizen, or some such innovative title allowing him to run things for a while – say, until the generals toss him out a window.

Or maybe he’ll last less than a week in his current position. I would not be surprised, either, if Mr. Bannon beats little Mooch to death with an Oval Office fireplace poker right in front of the Golden Golem of Greatness himself. The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine – in this case, inexorably toward the restorative medicine of the 25th amendment. There is, after all, that hoary old artifact called the national interest lurking somewhere offstage aside of all this colorful mummery, especially as the Russian Meddling gambit appears to be dribbling away to nothing. It’s more than self-evident that poor Trump is in so far over his head that he’s come down with something like the bends, a debilitating systemic disorder rendering him unfit to execute the powers of office. Decades from now, they’ll say he had “the tweets.”

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You do know you live in a feudal society, right?

Leasehold Tycoon Whose Firms Control 40,000 UK Homes (G.)

He does not appear on any rich list but he has built a property empire that rivals that of the Duke of Westminster. Companies controlled by James Tuttiett, aged 53, have quietly snapped up the freeholds of tens of thousands of houses and flats in almost every city in Britain, which are now at the centre of controversy over spiralling ground rents. The scale of Tuttiett’s property empire has never been previously disclosed. Documents at Companies House reveal that he is frequently the sole director of companies that own the freehold of large-scale developments in Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds, Coventry and London. Leaseholders are obliged to pay ground rents to his company, E&J Estates, that in some cases will soar to £10,000 a year per home.

The government this week proposed a ban on new-build leaseholds, and said ground rents on new apartments should fall towards zero. At the launch of an eight-week consultation, the communities secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “It’s clear that far too many new houses are being built and sold as leaseholds, exploiting homebuyers with unfair agreements and spiralling ground rents.” “Enough is enough. These practices are unjust, unnecessary and need to stop,” said Javid, adding on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that ground rent had been used “as an unjustifiable way to print money”. [..] Research by Guardian Money found an extraordinary web of 85 ground rent companies controlled by Tuttiett, where the freeholds include not just homes but also schools, health clubs and petrol stations.

In 2016 one of these 85 companies, SF Funding Ltd, recorded an £80m increase in the value of its ground rents from the year before, taking them to £267.4m. Tuttiett is the sole director of the company, which has no other employees. The financing of Tuttiett’s property empire is helped by low-interest loans totalling £336m made by an insurance company, Rothesay Life, spun out of Goldman Sachs, in which the US investment bank remains the largest shareholder. Among the Rothesay Life loans made to E&J is one at £128m with a stated interest rate of just 0.95% a year, although it is understood the real rate paid is likely to be higher. The existence of the Rothesay loans opens a back door into Tuttiett’s interests, as Companies House lists all the properties over which Rothesay has a charge.

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Lenders are getting out. But not because they care about the earth.

Companies Abandon Nearly One Million Hectares of Alberta Oilsands (CP)

In another sign the bloom is off the boom for the oilsands, the industry has returned almost one million hectares of northern Alberta exploration leases to the province over the past two years. The total area covered by oilsands leases remained constant at about nine million hectares between 2011 and 2014. But it fell to 8.5 million hectares in 2015 and 8.1 million in 2016, following the crash in world oil prices from over US$100 to under $60 per barrel in 2014. Most of the returned acreage either represents expired or surrendered leases, according to Alberta Energy. Observers were surprised by the size of the lease returns which they attributed to industry cost-cutting and disinterest in spending to develop new prospects when there’s no money to build projects already on the books.

“It costs money to maintain these lands,” said Brad Hayes, president of Petrel Robertson Consulting in Calgary. “You can’t convince shareholders to continue to put that money out if there’s no prospect for success.” Alberta’s oilsands have been getting little respect lately, thanks to the exit of large foreign companies, the province’s hard cap on oilsands emissions, increasing carbon taxes and the stumbling price of crude oil. Its troubles have been welcomed by environmentalists who point out the industry’s outsized impact on air, land and water pollution. “This is good news. It’s a sign that investment dollars are shifting out of carbon-intensive energy,” said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada.

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Feels like all they do is try to create an ever bigger mess. Throw in another €100 million and say: We tried!

EU Accused Of ‘Wilfully Letting Refugees Drown’ In The Mediterranean (Ind.)

Aid workers have accused the EU of “wilfully letting people drown in the Mediterranean” as they face being forced to suspend rescue missions for refugees attempting the world’s deadliest sea crossing. Italy is attempting to impose a code of conduct on NGOs operating ships in the search and rescue zone off the coast of Libya, which is now the main launching point for migrants trying to reach Europe on smugglers’ boats. Humanitarian groups have argued the code will impede their work by banning the transfer of refugees to larger ships, which allows vessels to continue rescues, and forcing them to allow police officers on board. A revised code of conduct is expected to be presented by the Italian interior ministry on Monday, following meetings between officials and NGOs.

The 11-point plan, which has been approved by the European Commission and border agency Frontex, could see any groups refusing to sign up denied access to Italian ports or forbidden from carrying out rescues. They are currently deployed by officials at Rome’s Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC) and charities fear any move to restrict their operations, leaving just Italian coastguard and naval ships, will dramatically reduce rescue capacity during peak season. German charity Sea-Watch announced the deployment of a second rescue vessel in response to the plans, which it called a “desperate reaction” by a country abandoned on the frontline of the refuge crisis by its European allies. “The EU is wilfully letting people drown in the Mediterranean by refusing to create a legal means of safe passage and failing to even provide adequate resources for maritime rescue,” said CEO Axel Grafmanns.

“The NGOs are currently bearing the brunt of the humanitarian crisis and they are being left alone.” Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has staff on two rescue ships, said it was engaging with Italian authorities in an “open and constructive way” over the proposed code but had serious concerns over several clauses. “MSF employees are humanitarian workers, not police officers, and that for reasons of independence they will do what is strictly requested by the law but nothing more so as to protect our independence and neutrality,” a spokesperson said.

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May 162017
 
 May 16, 2017  Posted by at 8:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  1 Response »


Fred Stein Chinatown 1944

 

White House: Report Trump Shared Classified Info With Russians is ‘False’ (RT)
Trump’s Classified Disclosure Is Shocking But Legal (BBG)
The ‘Soft Coup’ of Russia-Gate (Robert Parry)
China’s Silk Road Vision: Cheap Funds, Heavy Debt, Growing Risk (R.)
China Banking Regulator Tightens Rules On WMPs, Flags More Curbs (R.)
New Zealand Housing Market Most at Risk of Bust – Goldman (BBG)
Snowden & Chomsky Lead Calls To Drop DOJ Case Against WikiLeaks (RT)
Large Hedge Funds Moved Out Of Financial Stocks In First Quarter (R.)
Ford To Cut North America, Asia Salaried Workers By 10% (R.)
How High Should Congress Let Flood Insurance Rates Rise? (USAT)
Macron Wins Merkel Backing For Bid To Shake Up Europe (AFP)
Germany Must Decide: Budget Rigour Or Europe’s Future (R.)
The Euro Area – A Simple Model Of Savings, Debt & Private Spending (Terzi)
Greek Economy Pays for Drawn-Out Talks With Return to Recession (BBG)

 

 

And here we are: The WaPo, left with almost zero credibility after so many anti-Trump and anti-Russia opinions more often than not disguised as factual reports, can only find a willing ear anymore inside its echo chamber. As usual, the WaPo article is based on anonymous sources. America is trapped inside it own narrative.

White House: Report Trump Shared Classified Info With Russians is ‘False’ (RT)

Multiple White House officials, including National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, are refuting a Washington Post story claiming that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian officials in the Oval Office last week. But some believe McMaster’s statement contained holes. On Monday evening, National Security Advisor McMaster called a report published earlier in the day by the Washington Post “false.” The report that went viral cited unverifiable sources, unnamed current and former US officials, who claimed that Trump disclosed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak “code-word information” relating to Islamic State during a May 10 meeting in the Oval Office at the White House.

The intelligence was reportedly from “a US partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement” and not authorized to be shared with Russia, US allies or even within much of the US government. “I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” McMaster told reporters outside the White House. Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell also called the story “false” Monday. “The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced,” Powell said. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was also at the meeting, denied the allegation. McMaster told reporters that Trump did discuss civil aviation threats with Lavrov and Kislyak. [..] The Russian Embassy in DC had no comment on the media claim, according to a representative.

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Besides, the WaPo article doesn’t describe anything illegal. But it’ll take a while before that sinks in, if ever.

Trump’s Classified Disclosure Is Shocking But Legal (BBG)

Oh for the days when Donald Trump wasn’t taking the presidential daily brief – and didn’t know highly classified information that he could give to the Russians. But a bit bizarrely, Trump’s reported disclosure of Islamic State plans to two Russian officials during an Oval Office visit last week wasn’t illegal. If anyone else in the government, except possibly the vice president, had revealed such classified information that person would be going to prison. The president, however, has inherent constitutional authority to declassify information at will. And that means the federal laws that criminalize the disclosure of classified secrets don’t apply to him. If this doesn’t make much sense to you, I feel your pain.

To understand the legal structure of classification and declassification requires a brief journey into the constitutional law of separation of powers. That’s not always especially fun. But at this juncture in U.S. history, it’s essential. Not since Richard Nixon’s administration has separation of powers been so central to the fate of the republic. The authority to label facts or documents as classified rests with the president in his capacity as a commander in chief. Or at least that’s what the U.S. Supreme Court said in a 1988 case, Department of the Navy v. Egan. Justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote the opinion, said that the executive’s “authority to classify and control access to information bearing on national security … flows primarily from this constitutional investment of power in the President and exists quite apart from any explicit congressional grant.”

Blackmun’s idea that the president has an inherent right to decide who gets access to classified information seems to imply the converse: that the president has the inherent authority to declassify information, too. Although there’s no case on this point, scholars took that view during the years of the George W. Bush administration, when the president was thought to have declassified some information that was leaked to the news media by White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. It makes sense. If it is up to the president to decide what can’t be disclosed, it should be up to him to decide what can be.

[..] If you’re following closely, you’ll have noticed an anomaly: The president can classify and declassify. But the president can’t send people to prison for disobeying his order. That requires a federal law passed by Congress, and a conviction before a judge. Thus, under the separation of powers, the president has inherent authority to fire his own employees for disclosing classified information, but lacks the power to punish them criminally without Congress and the courts. That law exists: 18 U.S. Code Section 798, if you care to look it up. It makes it a federal crime to communicate “classified information” to an “unauthorized person.” The catch is that the law defines classified information as information determined classified by a U.S. government agency, and similarly defines an unauthorized person as someone not determined authorized by the executive branch. That puts Trump in the clear insofar as he has an inherent authority to declare information unclassified.

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And Robert Parry can tell you why things like that WaPo ‘report’ get so blown up.

The ‘Soft Coup’ of Russia-Gate (Robert Parry)

I realize that many Democrats, liberals and progressives hate Donald Trump so much that they believe that any pretext is justified in taking him down, even if that plays into the hands of the neoconservatives and other warmongers. Many people who detest Trump view Russia-gate as the most likely path to achieve Trump’s impeachment, so this desirable end justifies whatever means. Some people have told me that they even believe that it is the responsibility of the major news media, the law enforcement and intelligence communities, and members of Congress to engage in a “soft coup” against Trump – also known as a “constitutional coup” or “deep state coup” – for the “good of the country.”

The argument is that it sometimes falls to these Establishment institutions to “correct” a mistake made by the American voters, in this case, the election of a largely unqualified individual as U.S. president. It is even viewed by some anti-Trump activists as a responsibility of “responsible” journalists, government officials and others to play this “guardian” role, to not simply “resist” Trump but to remove him. There are obvious counter-arguments to this view, particularly that it makes something of a sham of American democracy. It also imposes on journalists a need to violate the ethical responsibility to provide objective reporting, not taking sides in political disputes. But The New York Times and The Washington Post, in particular, have made it clear that they view Trump as a clear and present danger to the American system and thus have cast aside any pretense of neutrality.

The Times justifies its open hostility to the President as part of its duty to protect “the truth”; the Post has adopted a slogan aimed at Trump, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” In other words, America’s two most influential political newspapers are effectively pushing for a “soft coup” under the guise of defending “democracy” and “truth.” But the obvious problem with a “soft coup” is that America’s democratic process, as imperfect as it has been and still is, has held this diverse country together since 1788 with the notable exception of the Civil War. If Americans believe that the Washington elites are removing an elected president – even one as buffoonish as Donald Trump – it could tear apart the fabric of national unity, which is already under extraordinary stress from intense partisanship.

That means that the “soft coup” would have to be carried out under the guise of a serious investigation into something grave enough to justify the President’s removal, a removal that could be accomplished by congressional impeachment, his forced resignation, or the application of Twenty-fifth Amendment, which allows the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to judge a President incapable of continuing in office. That is where Russia-gate comes in. The gauzy allegation that Trump and/or his advisers somehow colluded with Russian intelligence officials to rig the 2016 election would probably clear the threshold for an extreme action like removing a President. And, given the determination of many key figures in the Establishment to get rid of Trump, it should come as no surprise that no one seems to care that no actual government-verified evidence has been revealed publicly to support any of the Russia-gate allegations.

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China wants to own the new Silk Road, and to be the leader. The original one knew neither ownership nor leadership.

China’s Silk Road Vision: Cheap Funds, Heavy Debt, Growing Risk (R.)

Behind China’s trillion-dollar effort to build a modern Silk Road is a lending program of unprecedented breadth, one that will help build ports, roads and rail links, but could also leave some banks and many countries with quite a hangover. At the heart of that splurge are China’s two policy lenders, China Development Bank (CDB) and Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM), which have between them already provided $200 billion in loans throughout Asia, the Middle East and even Africa. They are due to extend at least $55 billion more, according to announcements made during a lavish two-day Belt and Road summit in Beijing, which ends on Monday. Thanks to cheaper funding, CDB and EXIM have helped to unblock what Chinese president Xi Jinping on Sunday called a ‘prominent challenge’ to the Silk Road: the funding bottleneck.

But as the Belt and Road project grows, so do the risks to policy banks, commercial lenders and borrowers, all of whom are tangled in projects with questionable business logic, bankers and analysts say. EXIM, seeking to contain risk, says it has imposed a debt ceiling for each country. CDB says it has applied strict limits on sovereign borrowers’ credit lines and controls the concentration of loans. “For some countries, if we give them too many loans, too much debt, then the sustainability of its debt is questionable,” Sun Ping, vice governor of EXIM, told reporters last week. For now, funds are cheap and plentiful, thanks to Beijing. Belt and Road infrastructure loans so far have been primarily negotiated government to government, with interest rates below those offered by commercial banks and extended repayment schedules, bankers and analysts said.

[..] 47 of China’s 102 central-government-owned conglomerates participated in 1,676 Belt and Road projects, according to government statistics. China Communications Construction alone has notched up $40 billion of contracts and built 10,320 kilometres of road, 95 deepwater ports, 10 airports, 152 bridges and 2,080 railways in Belt and Road countries. China’s central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan is among those to warn that this reliance on cheap loans raises “risks and problems”, starting with moral hazard and unsustainability. China has been caught out before; it is owed $65 billion by Venezuela, now torn by crisis. “The jurisdictions where many of these loans are going are places that would have difficulty getting loans from Western commercial banks – their credit ratings are not very good, or the projects in question often are not commercially viable,” said Jack Yuan at Fitch in Shanghai. “The broader concern is that capital continues to be mis-allocated by Chinese banks.”

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We’ll believe it when the bankruptcies start accumulating.

China Banking Regulator Tightens Rules On WMPs, Flags More Curbs (R.)

China’s banking regulator is tightening disclosure rules on lenders’ wealth management products (WMP) as it tries to track risky lending practices in the shadow banking sector, the latest in a series of steps by Beijing aimed at defusing financial risks. The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said in a notice late on Monday it plans to launch 46 new or revised rules this year, part of which targets risks related to shadowbanking activities. Authorities are trying to better regulate 30 trillion yuan ($4.35 trillion) of WMPs, much of it sitting off-balance sheet in the shadowbanking sector. The WMPS have been used to channel deposits into risky investments, often via many layers of asset management schemes to skirt lending and capital rules.

The CBRC will now require that banks report the underlying assets and liabilities of their WMPs, as well as all layers of investment schemes, on a weekly basis. Previously, banks were required to hand in less detailed information, and on a monthly basis. The new rules – published by a WMP management platform under CBRC – reflect regulators’ desire to have a full picture of banks’ activities, and could slow the growth of WMPs. In March, China’s newly appointment banking regulator Guo Shuqing, vowed to strengthen supervision of the lending sector, underscoring Beijing’s determination to fend off financial risks and push reforms this year. Separately, CBRC unveiled a long list of rules it aims to publish this year, many of these related to risk-management. The rules are to “ensure that (risk) does not become systemic,” CBRC said.

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Useless numbers from Goldman Sachs.

New Zealand Housing Market Most at Risk of Bust – Goldman (BBG)

New Zealand’s housing market is the most over-valued among the so-called G-10 economies and the most at risk of a correction, according to Goldman Sachs. In research published this week, the investment bank said there is about a 40% chance of a housing “bust” in New Zealand over the next two years, which it defines as house prices falling 5% or more after adjustment for inflation. The report looks at housing markets in the G-10 countries – those with the 10 most-traded currencies in the world – and finds they are most elevated in small, open economies such as New Zealand, where house prices have rocketed in recent years. In Auckland, the nation’s largest city, the average price has surged 91% since 2007 to more than NZ$1 million ($688,000).

Goldman compares house-price levels across economies using three standard metrics: the ratio of house prices to rent, the ratio of house prices to household income and house prices adjusted for inflation. “Using an average of these measures, house prices in New Zealand appear the most over-valued, followed by Canada, Sweden, Australia and Norway,” it said. “According to the model, the probability of a housing bust over the next five to eight quarters is the highest in Sweden and New Zealand at 35 to 40%.” A graph in the report shows that New Zealand’s probability of a housing bust is just above 40%, while Sweden’s is just above 35%. The risk of a bust in Australia is about 25%.

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Chelsea Manning is free as of tomorrow.

Snowden & Chomsky Lead Calls To Drop DOJ Case Against WikiLeaks (RT)

Former intelligence officers, journalists and artists are among more than 100 signatories of an open letter calling on President Trump to close the Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks and drop any planned charges against the whistleblower group.
The letter released Monday by the Courage Foundation includes NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and renowned scholar and activist Noah Chomsky among the original signatories. A significant number of former personnel from US intelligence agencies are backing the letter. Among them are former senior NSA officials Thomas Drake, William Binney and Kirk Wiebe. Daniel Ellsberg, the former State and Defense Department official who released top secret Pentagon Papers in 1971 and retired FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel Coleen Rowley also signed the letter.

The plea to President Trump is in response to comments made by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month, in which he confirmed that the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was a “priority” for the US government. Fears are growing that charges including conspiracy, theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act are being considered against members of WikiLeaks. Several artists are also pushing the call for Trump to drop any proposed charges against the whistleblower organization. Among the big names are Oliver Stone, Ken Loach, Pamela Anderson, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and Vivienne Westwood.

The letter acknowledges that the Obama administration prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined and opened a Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks that had no precedent. “It now appears the US is preparing to take the next step — prosecuting publishers who provide the “currency” of free speech, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson,” the document states. “A threat to WikiLeaks’ work — which is publishing information protected under the First Amendment — is a threat to all free journalism. If the DOJ is able to convict a publisher for its journalistic work, all free journalism can be criminalized.”

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They know something you don’t.

Large Hedge Funds Moved Out Of Financial Stocks In First Quarter (R.)

Several big-name hedge fund investors trimmed their stakes in financial companies in the first quarter as hopes for immediate tax cuts and loosening of regulations after President Donald Trump’s victory in November began to fade. Adage Capital Management cut its position in Wells Fargo, which has come under fire for its sales practices, by 3.9 million shares, according to regulatory filings, while John Burbank’s Passport Capital cut its stake in the company by 947,000 shares. Third Point cut its stake in JPMorgan Chase by 28%, to 3.75 million shares, while Suvretta Capital Management sold all of its shares of Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan and Citigroup. Overall, financial companies in the S&P 500 were up 2.1% in the first quarter, compared with 5.5% for the index as a whole.

Financials significantly outperformed the broad market following Trump’s Nov. 8 election. Trump had pledged to do a “big number” on the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which raised banks’ capital requirements and restricted their ability to make speculative bets with customers’ money. The Treasury Department is still filling vacancies and will not be able to complete a review of the law by Trump’s June deadline, sources told Reuters. Quarterly disclosures of hedge fund managers’ stock holdings, in what are known as 13F filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, are one of the few public ways of tracking what the managers are selling and buying. But relying on the filings to develop an investment strategy comes with some risk because the disclosures come out 45 days after the end of each quarter and may not reflect current positions.

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Lean and efficient, and losing sales.

Ford To Cut North America, Asia Salaried Workers By 10% (R.)

Ford plans to shrink its salaried workforce in North America and Asia by about 10% as it works to boost profits and its sliding stock price, a source familiar with the plan told Reuters on Monday. A person briefed on the plan said Ford plans to offer generous early retirement incentives to reduce its salaried headcount by Oct. 1, but does not plan cuts to its hourly workforce or its production. The move could put the U.S. automaker on a collision course with President Donald Trump, who has made boosting auto employment a top priority. Ford has about 30,000 salaried workers in the United States.

The cuts are part of a previously announced plan to slash costs by $3 billion, the person said, as U.S. new vehicles auto sales have shown signs of decline after seven years of consecutive growth since the end of the Great Recession. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday evening that Ford plans to cut 10% of its 200,000-person global workforce, but the person briefed on the plan disputed that figure. The source requested anonymity in order to be able to discuss the matter freely. Ford declined to comment on any job cuts but said it remains focused on its core strategies to “drive profitable growth”. “Reducing costs and becoming as lean and efficient as possible also remain part of that work,” it said in a statement. “We have not announced any new people efficiency actions, nor do we comment on speculation.”

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FEMA rules!

How High Should Congress Let Flood Insurance Rates Rise? (USAT)

Congress is considering dramatic changes to the National Flood Insurance Program, which has a $25 billion debt that its director says cannot be repaid. But as a Sept. 30 deadline looms for the program to be renewed, disagreements remain over how much homeowners should be forced to pay for flood insurance to make the program more solvent. If Congress can’t reach an agreement, a lapse in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s legal authority to write new policies could disrupt real estate sales in flood-prone areas around the country.

Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York are circulating draft legislation to renew the program, but it contains provisions – such as vouchers to help low-income homeowners keep the cost of premiums and fees from getting too high — that are not in a draft that Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee plan to release this week. Disputes also remain over how to address wrongdoing by insurance companies and affiliated contractors in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and last year’s floods in Louisiana, and whether older properties that flood repeatedly should still receive discounts. Many in Congress also want to encourage more private insurers to enter the market, but some warn the government could be left with only the riskiest properties.

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Macron has to focus on France. and will do so until well after Merkel is re-elected. Still, these new views could have prevented Brexit.

Macron Wins Merkel Backing For Bid To Shake Up Europe (AFP)

France’s new President Emmanuel Macron secured backing Monday from key ally Chancellor Angela Merkel for his bid to shake up Europe, despite scepticism in Berlin over his proposed reforms. Travelling to the German capital to meet the veteran leader in his first official trip abroad, Macron used the opportunity to call for a “historic reconstruction” of Europe. During his campaign, Macron had thrown up ideas on reforming the eurozone, noting that the currency bloc cannot go on as it is if it wanted to avoid falling prey to protest and populism. Among reforms he wants to see are setting up a separate budget for the 28-member group, as well as giving it its own parliament and finance minister. But the proposals have sent alarm bells ringing in Berlin, and initial relief about his victory against far-right leader Marine Le Pen had quickly given way to fears about his reform plans.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned that such deep-reaching reforms would require treaty changes, which were “not realistic” at a time when Europe is hit by a surge of anti-euro populism. Saturday’s edition of weekly news magazine Der Spiegel featured a cover picture of Macron with the headline “expensive friend”. But at a joint press conference following their talks, Merkel adopted a conciliatory tone and offered what appeared to be a key concession. “From the German point of view, it’s possible to change the treaty if it makes sense,” she said. “If we can say why, what for, what the point is, then Germany will be ready.” Merkel’s approach underlined her view that it was crucial not only for France, but for Germany, to help Macron succeed – a point that she has repeatedly stressed.

Yet it remains to be seen if her approach would go down well in Germany, which is deeply adverse to shouldering burdens of eurozone laggards. Macron sought to bat away German fears on debt, saying he was opposed to mutualising “old debt” between eurozone countries. However, he signalled readiness to look at sharing future burdens. “I am not a promoter of the mutualisation of old debt” within the eurozone, said Macron after meeting Merkel, adding however that the joint financing of future projects should be considered. Underlining the concerns over Macron’s proposals, Germany’s biggest selling daily Bild warned ahead of the French leader’s meeting with Merkel that before seeking deeper EU integration, “France must once again be at the same level as Germany politically and economically”. “Only then can the EU be reformed or develop deeper integration,” it said.

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Ye olde ‘there is stil time’ delusion: there is still time to make Germany change its stance on the EU, in the same way that there is still time to save the planet. No, there isn’t, if you include the time it will take to turn around what has been the ‘normal’. You need a revolution, not a change.

Germany Must Decide: Budget Rigour Or Europe’s Future (R.)

After Emmanuel Macron’s victory in France’s presidential election, Germany must decide whether it wants to continue its single-minded focus on budget rigour or work with him to ensure the future of the European project, a German diplomat said. In an interview with Reuters hours before the new French president travels to Berlin to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel, Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, pushed back against German politicians who have picked holes in Macron’s ideas for Europe since his election win. Among those are Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has come to personify Berlin’s focus on the “Schwarze Null”, or balanced budget. He has suggested Macron’s plans to create a budget and finance minister for the euro zone are unrealistic.

“My wish is that this issue is not used in the (German) election campaign, but that we have a serious discussion over the question: ‘What is more important to us? The Schwarze Null as a categoric imperative or the future of Europe?'” Ischinger said. “If compromises are necessary and make sense, then I would support compromise rather than categorical imperatives.” Mainstream parties in Germany applauded Macron’s victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen earlier this month. But since then, conservative politicians and media have criticized his plans, suggesting they would lead to a “transfer union” in which German money would be used to pay for uncompetitive member states that are reluctant to reform. Schaeuble has suggested some of Macron’s more ambitious plans would require politically thorny changes to the EU treaty. But Ischinger, a former German ambassador to Britain and the United States, said much could be done on an intergovernmental basis.

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The illusion that the ECB can manage the EU economy.

The Euro Area – A Simple Model Of Savings, Debt & Private Spending (Terzi)

In 2010, with the first casualty (Greece) in the emergency room and the first economic adjustment programme (with financial package) approved, the Eurosystem eventually became an occasional buyer of government debt. Two years later, with three more casualties (Ireland, Portugal, and Spain) and a systemic collapse in sight, the ECB added the newly crafted Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) to its toolbox. This meant that the ECB had formally become ready to be an unlimited, albeit conditional, outright buyer in the secondary market for Eurozone government debts. The introduction of OMTs was the way to restore systemic liquidity buffers in a monetary system that had become unsustainable, while remaining consistent with the monetary financing prohibition laid down in the Treaty.

As events during the crisis unfolded, and depending on the narrative about its causes, several different meanings have been attached to the notion of the Eurozone crisis. This has been seen, alternatively, as the unwinding of intra-euro lending and borrowing, the consequence of private credit bubbles, the product of unsustainable public debt, the failure of inadequately supervised banking and financial institutions, and, most notably, as a double-dip recession followed by an unusually weak expansion combined with a visibly inadequate policy (and political) response. Today, six years after the crisis erupted, and notwithstanding the modified ECB practice that saved the day, the Eurozone is still visibly failing to enact sustainable policies that can effectively restore economic prosperity.

Accordingly, there have been two distinct phases in the Eurozone crisis. Between 2010 and 2012 the monetary union was in jeopardy of undergoing an operational breakdown up until the change in the operational practice in the market for public sector securities, complemented by the banking union reform. Since 2012, the problems have been the continuing sluggishness of the real economy, the acute lack of demand, vulnerability to internal and external shocks, and, ultimately, the risk of a political implosion. While the ECB has successfully reclaimed one indispensable tool to operationally manage the euro, the deflationary bias of the euro area has not gone away. Effectively, Europe’s economic performance has been vastly disappointing ever since the launch of the euro.

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Greece has no way to escape recession, drawn out talks have nothing to do with it.

Greek Economy Pays for Drawn-Out Talks With Return to Recession (BBG)

Greece’s economy returned to recession in the first quarter as delays in concluding talks between the government and its creditors raised the specter of another debt drama. GDP contracted 0.1% in the first three months of the year after shrinking 1.2% in the previous quarter, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said in a statement on Monday. The seasonally adjusted contraction was 0.5% from a year earlier. Talks between creditors on easing the country’s debt load are accelerating after Greece and officials from the IMF and euro-area institutions ended a months-long impasse over the austerity measures the government needs to take. While that’s prompted a rally in Greek stocks and bonds this month, the delay has taken a toll on the economy. That cost led the government to cut its GDP growth forecast for this year to 1.8% from 2.7% on Saturday. The European Commission reduced its estimate to 2.1% last week.

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