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


Jackson Pollock Male and female 1942

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Polarization, Then a Crash – Michael Hudson (AN)

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

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

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

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

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

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How to spook markets.

Biden To Propose Massive $2 Trillion Stimulus (ZH)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Peaceful protests coming.

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

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


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

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Abominable.

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

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


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

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So what has the Fed done to help?

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

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


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

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

Cancel Yourself (Michael Krieger)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 072021
 


Georgia O’Keeffe Manhattan 1932

 

Both Tortuous and Torturous (Craig Murray)
Judge Keeps Assange In Prison, Despite Ruling Against Extradition (Gosztola)
Trump Pledges ‘Orderly’ Transition After Riot And Biden Win Certification (CNN)
US Gets The Kind Of ‘Democracy’ It Championed Overseas (Malic)
GOP-Led Senate Rejects PA Election Results Challenge (JTN)
Georgia Dems Relied Heavily on Massive Corporate War Chest (MPN)
Everything He Says Or Does Turns Instantly Into A Crime (Turley)
China Says ‘Preparatory Work’ Needed For WHO Visit To Trace Corona Origin (RT)

 

 

Well, that was fun. It was also entirely predictable. There are far too many questions surrounding the US election, even if Trump’s legal teams botched the job of presenting them. You would expect people to swear never to use another voting machine, but nobody does it. The principle is simple: if these machines can be manipulated, they will be. Ditch them.

Of course last night’s events are presented as insurrection, a coup, treason. But come on. 3 people died of medical emergencies, and the one person who was shot was a female Air Force veteran protesting for Trump. No politician was hurt.

There are quite a few pictures of the anti-Kavanaugh crew protesting inside the Capitol in 2018, and none of them are described as depicting a coup. Calm down. And learn: if this is how you are going to run elections, you should not be surprised if these are the reactions you get. Count yourself lucky that they weren’t much worse.

 

 

 

 

Craig Murray’s optimism was hammered. Time for a higher court.

Both Tortuous and Torturous (Craig Murray)

All of Julian’s team were optimistic before this hearing and it seems perverse that, a judgement against extradition having been made, Julian should continue to be held in high security prison pending the US government appeal. He has already been in jail for over 14 months just in the extradition matter, after the expiry of his unprecedentedly harsh sentence for bail-jumping. In effect, having already served that sentence, Julian is now being punished again for the same offence, spending years in extreme prison conditions purely because he once jumped bail, for which he already served the full sentence. The logic of holding Julian now is simply not there, given the current legal position is that he is not being extradited. Furthermore this continuing raising and lowering of his spirits, and never-ending incarceration with no fixed limit, is destroying his fragile health.

Baraitser has played cat and mouse this week. Julian is living his life in conditions both torturous and tortuous. It is ironic to hear Baraitser declare in condemnatory tones, without equivocation, that Julian only entered the Embassy to escape extradition to the USA. This is of course perfectly true. But I remember the many years when the Establishment line, from the government and repeated in several hundred Guardian columns, was that this truth was a fiction. They claimed there was never any intention to extradite to the USA, and actually he was avoiding extradition to Sweden, on allegations that never had any basis and which disappeared like mist when the time actually came. I suppose we should be grateful for at least this much truth in proceedings.

Today’s judgement makes plain that whatever is happening with Monday’s judgement, it is not genuinely motivated by concern for Julian’s health. Yanis Varoufakis yesterday stated that the ultimate aim is still to kill Julian through the penal system. Nothing that happened today would contradict him. The extraordinary figure of only 3 Covid infections in Belmarsh is very hard to believe and contradicts all previous information. Plainly Covid is less of a risk than anywhere else in London, and perhaps we should all break in to improve our isolation and safety. The only explanation that occurs to me is that the vast majority of prisoners are denied access to testing and are therefore not confirmed cases. or that the prison has chosen to give testing results for a single day and chosen to misrepresent the meaning of the statistic.

In fact the point is not central to the bail application, but as a possible example of yet further malfeasance by the Belmarsh medical team, it is particularly intriguing. The decision not to grant bail can be appealed to the High Court. I expect that will happen (there has been no chance yet to consult Julian’s wishes), and happen in about a fortnight.

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“Assange has not seen his family in person since March 2020..”

Judge Keeps Assange In Prison, Despite Ruling Against Extradition (Gosztola)

A British district judge denied bail for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after a hearing in which the prosecution argued he had helped NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “flee justice” and would abscond if released from the Belmarsh high-security prison. “As far as Mr. Assange is concerned, this case has not been won,” Judge Vanessa Baraitser declared. She said the United States government “must be allowed to challenge [her] decision.” Baraitser referred to the lengthy history of the case and how he “jumped bail” and entered the Ecuador Embassy to obtain asylum in 2012. She went on to highlight the “huge support networks” he still has “should he again choose to go to ground,” and Baraitser agreed with the prosecution that WikiLeaks’ assistance of Snowden made Assange a flight risk.

Assange has been confined at Belmarsh since he was arrested and expelled from the Ecuador embassy in April 2019. All along, Judge Vanessa Baraitser agreed with prosecutors that he was a flight risk. “Mr. Assange’s past conduct shows the lengths he is prepared to go to avoid extradition proceedings. If I released him today, he would not return to face these extradition proceedings,” Baraitser declared during a hearing in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was initially intensifying worldwide. In her ruling on bail, despite evidence of a recent outbreak at Belmarsh, the judge maintained that the facility was properly caring for prisoners and Assange would be safe.

Edward Fitzgerald, an attorney for Assange, argued the extradition decision changed any motive Assange would have to flee London before the case was resolved. In fact, the extradition decision came with an order of discharge for Assange. “The logical outcome of the ruling would be he regains liberty at least conditionally,” Fitzgerald stated. Fitzgerald questioned whether the Justice Department is even serious about an appeal, given recent reporting on the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden. Although Fitzgerald indicated Assange would be willing to wear a GPS tracking device while under house arrest, the judge gave no reasoning why this would not be enough to prevent him from absconding before the date of his appeal. Assange has not seen his family in person since March 2020, and Belmarsh has suspended social visits. It is widely recognized that physical contact would alleviate the mental distress that factored into the judge’s decision against extradition.

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“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th..”

Trump Pledges ‘Orderly’ Transition After Riot And Biden Win Certification (CNN)

President Donald Trump publicly acknowledged that he would leave office on January 20 for the first time Thursday, pledging an orderly transfer of power after Congress affirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in the statement, repeating false claims he has made throughout the last two months. “I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.”


Trump, who has refused to concede the election, had on Wednesday egged on supporters who would later storm the US Capitol in an attempt to stop lawmakers from counting the electoral votes. The riot left four people dead — one woman was shot and three others had medical emergencies, according to police — and left some in Trump’s Cabinet holding preliminary talks about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, according to a well-placed GOP source. After a speech filled with lies and misrepresentations that incensed the crowd, Trump returned to the White House to watch a violent crescendo to his constant spreading of misinformation about the electoral process. The mob broke into the Capitol, stormed both the House and Senate floor and Trump supporters could be seen lounging in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. A woman was shot and killed in the chaos. Police have yet to release more details about her death.

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“Ah, but this election wasn’t stolen, they’d say – it was pure as driven snow, “most secure ever,” all the experts who told us for four years the previous one was “hacked by Russia” tell us so!”

US Gets The Kind Of ‘Democracy’ It Championed Overseas (Malic)

A crowd of protesters stormed Congress protesting a presidential election they claimed had been fraudulent. When this happened in Serbia in 2000, the US called it democracy. When it happened in Washington, DC – not so much. Scenes from the US Capitol on Wednesday, as protesters backing President Donald Trump disrupted the joint session of Congress meeting to certify the election of Democrat Joe Biden, looked very much like Belgrade in October 2000. The sight was later repeated in Ukraine – twice, in 2004 and 2014 – Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, and several Central Asian former Soviet republics. On every occasion, the US backed the “people power,” because American NGOs and embassies were supporting what became known as “color revolutions.”

Same thing happened in 2011 with the “Arab Spring” that started in Tunisia and then burned its way across North Africa to the Persian Gulf. In some places it “succeeded,” overthrowing decades-old governments. In others it failed, setting off wars in Libya and Syria and blood on the streets of Bahrain. Again, the US cheered this on as democracy – except for Bahrain, which hosts a major naval base. More recently, the US denounced as illegitimate the presidential elections in Belarus, Bolivia and Venezuela. While Minsk and Caracas managed to resist – and got sanctioned for it – the “democrats” in La Paz were successful for a while, but ended up losing the vote last year.

Way back in 2004, the Guardian wrote approvingly about how the US has created a “slick” operation of “engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience,” developing since Belgrade a “template for winning other people’s elections.” Now the same mainstream media that slavishly followed the State Department line in denouncing elections elsewhere as “rigged” and color revolutions as spontaneous democracy are clutching their pearls when Americans who believe their election was stolen take to the streets and storm their Capitol. Ah, but this election wasn’t stolen, they’d say – it was pure as driven snow, “most secure ever,” all the experts who told us for four years the previous one was “hacked by Russia” tell us so! And Joe Biden won the most votes in history while hardly leaving his basement.

Whether you believe this official narrative about the US election or not doesn’t really matter, however. Partisan myopia simply won’t let people understand the magnitude of what is on display here: utter moral bankruptcy of the entire US political and media establishment.

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Obviously.

GOP-Led Senate Rejects PA Election Results Challenge (JTN)

Both chambers of the U.S. Congress resoundingly rejected an objection to the election results in Arizona. The votes came after protesters breached security and swarmed the U.S. Capitol building earlier on Wednesday. The Senate rejected the objection by a 93-6 vote while the House vote was 303-121, with greater than half of the GOP House conference seeking to reject the state’s electoral slate. Congress reconvened in a joint session to certify the election results in other states. Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks objected to the Nebraska results but did not have a signature from a U.S. senator.


Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry objected to certifying Pennsylvania and had Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley’s signature. Republican lawmakers like Pennsylvania Rep. Glenn Thompson have argued that the state government circumvented the legislature to make last minute changes to election law. The House and Senate then entered into separate sessions to debate the objection. The Senate rejected the challenge to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes with a 92-7 vote.

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The amounts are amazing. Are you sure you want your elections to be for sale?

Georgia Dems Relied Heavily on Massive Corporate War Chest (MPN)

In order to beat GOP incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the Georgia Senate elections, Democrats had to spend big, raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. The two Georgia Senate elections — called today for the Democrats — were easily the most costly in history, amounting to nearly $830 million in total ($468 million for the race between Democrat Joey Ossoff and Republican David Perdue and more than $361 million for the special election between Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock and Republican Kelly Loeffler.

The Democrats’ massive war chest came in no small part from hefty contributions from corporate America. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, tech companies rallied around the Democratic challengers, plying the two campaigns with millions of dollars. Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent organization, was the largest single source of funds, their PACs, shareholders, or employees donating almost $1 million to Ossoff’s campaign alone with other big tech companies cracking his top ten, all with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations from the like of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and AT&T. The rest of the top ten were made up by universities.

The Republican candidates also relied on large corporations for much of their funding. Perdue’s biggest donors included Delta Airlines, Home Depot, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America, while Loeffler was generously supported by oil and chemical giant Koch Industries as well as a number of financial institutions like Ryan LLC and Blackstone Group. However, Democrats decisively outraised their opponents, giving them a critical edge. Ossoff outraised Perdue by $138 million to $89 million while Warnock received $124 million to Loeffler’s $92 million. With over 98% of the votes counted, Warnock has been declared the winner, with 50.6% of the vote. Ossoff, meanwhile, is all but assured of winning as well, and has already declared victory.

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Trump’s Midas touch.

Everything He Says Or Does Turns Instantly Into A Crime (Turley)

For many legal analysts, President Trump remains a type of criminal Midas figure: everything he says or does turns instantly into a crime. This pattern is continuing to the very end of the Trump administration. Within minutes of the leaking of a Saturday call between Trump and Georgia election officials, the same experts were declaring yet another clear crime. The loudest was Andrew Weissmann, whose desire to find a crime to use against Trump appears to be moving from the obsessional to the delusional. Since his departure as the top deputy to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Weissmann (now an MSNBC analyst) seems intent on proving his critics correct about his profound bias against President Trump.

Weissmann recently called for prosecutors to use grand juries to pursue Trump and others in an unrelenting campaign based on unfounded legal theories. Now he is claiming that the president’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is clear evidence of a criminal act. While I clearly come to these questions from the counter perspective of a criminal defense attorney, the claim is legally absurd. When the tape was released, many of us immediately criticized the statement of the president that “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.” However, experts immediately declared this yet another clear criminal act and some people even called for a type of twilight impeachment in the last couple weeks of the Trump administration. Weissmann declared that the tape showed “criminal intent” as well as “proof of his motive and his pattern of similar activity.”

The problem is that Weissmann again left the criminal code and controlling case law behind in his blind pursuit of Trump. As with the obstruction allegations investigated by Mueller and the Ukrainian call that was the basis for Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives, this comes down to a question of intent. While most experts are notably vague on the specific criminal provision, one possibility would be election fraud under 52 U.S. 20511. However, such an interpretation comes to a full stop at intent — a required showing of “knowingly and willfully” acting to subvert voting. The call Trump participated in was a settlement discussion over election challenges with a variety of lawyers present, not some backroom at the Bada Bing club. The entire stated purpose of the challenges was to count what the Trump campaign alleged were uncounted votes that far surpassed the 11,780 deficit.

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We only had one year!

China Says ‘Preparatory Work’ Needed For WHO Visit To Trace Corona Origin (RT)

Beijing has said its health authorities are not yet in a position to receive a delegation from the WHO, after the world health body’s boss said he was “very disappointed” China hasn’t granted entry to Covid experts. Speaking on Wednesday during a regular press briefing, Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said the authorities were still preparing themselves for the visit by the ten World Health Organization (WHO) experts. The WHO disease team was scheduled to visit Wuhan in early January to trace the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have not had their visas issued. “China still overcomes difficulties, accelerates internal preparatory work, and tries its best to create good conditions for international expert groups to come to China to carry out traceability cooperation,” Hua told reporters.

“In order to ensure the smooth progress of the international expert group’s work in China, it is necessary to perform necessary procedures and make relevant specific arrangements.” The spokeswoman claimed that China has always adopted an open, transparent and responsible attitude to promoting international traceability research, and had previously invited a WHO team to visit the country. Hua added that Chinese experts have frequently shared honest evidence with global bodies and they remain in regular communication with the WHO. The comments come as WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “very disappointed” that Beijing had still not authorized the entry of his team of experts.

“Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China. I am very disappointed with this news,” Ghebreyesus said during a virtual news briefing on Tuesday. It was reported that two members of the ten-man team had already commenced their journeys to China on Tuesday before being informed that their visas had not yet been granted.

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 062021
 


Georgia O’Keeffe Street of New York II 1926

 

The Assange Verdict: What Happens Now (Craig Murray)
Will Biden DOJ Pursue Assange Extradition? Outgoing Prosecutor Isn’t Sure (NRP)
2 People Die In Norway Nursing Home Days After Receiving Pfizer Vaccine (RT)
Rate Of Adverse Reactions To COVID Vaccines 50x Higher Than Flu Shot (ZH)
Peru Clashes With Pfizer Over Legal Immunity For Vaccine Side Effects (RT)
Wuhan Coronavirus Infections 10 Times Higher Than Reported (NI)
Australia Says China Should Allow In WHO Covid Investigators (G.)
China Arrests US Lawyer During “Massive Crackdown” In Hong Kong (ZH)
The US Has Lost More Than 110,000 Restaurants (Snyder)
Biden To Tap More Obama Vets To Fill Key National Security Roles
Biden Taps Architect of 2014 Ukraine Coup for State Department (Antiwar)
Catastrophe Is All Around Us (AIER)
More Than 1.5 Billion Face Masks Will Pollute Oceans This Year (NYP)
US Doctor Forgives $650,000 In Medical Bills For Cancer Patients (BBC)

 

 

If Julian Assange’s bail is denied today, that will be a huge disappointment for many people. Craig Murray doesn’t think it will be denied, because the US appeal risks opening can of worms for them.

 

 

Big day for Assange, big day also for Trump?!

 

 

Tulsi Kamala

 

 

Murray remains very optimistic.

The Assange Verdict: What Happens Now (Craig Murray)

I am not sure that at this stage the High Court would accept a new guarantee from the USA that Assange would not be kept in isolation or in a Supermax prison; that would be contrary to the affidavit from Assistant Secretary of State Kromberg and thus would probably be ruled to amount to new evidence. Not to mention that Baraitser heard other evidence that such assurances had been received in the case of Abu Hamza, but had been broken. Hamza is not only kept in total isolation, but as a man with no hands he is deprived of prosthetics that would enable him to brush his teeth, and he has no means of cutting his nails nor assistance to do so, and cannot effectively wipe himself in the toilet. Not only is it hard to see the point of law on which the USA could launch an appeal, it is far from plain that they have a motive to do so.

Baraitser agreed with all the substantive points of argument put forward by the US government. She stated that there was no bar on extradition from the UK for political offences; she agreed that publication of national security material did constitute an offence in the USA under the Espionage Act and would do so in the UK under the Official Secrets Act, with no public interest defence in either jurisdiction; she agreed that encouraging a source to leak classified information is a crime; she agreed Wikileaks’ publications had put lives at risk. On all of these points she dismissed virtually without comment all the defence arguments and evidence. As a US Justice Department spokesman said yesterday: “While we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ultimate decision, we are gratified that the United States prevailed on every point of law raised.

In particular, the court rejected all of Mr Assange’s arguments regarding political motivation, political offence, fair trial, and freedom of speech. We will continue to seek Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States.” That is a fair categorisation of what happened. Appealing a verdict that is such a good result for the United States does not necessarily make sense for the Justice Department. Edward Fitzgerald explained to me yesterday that, if the USA appeals the decision on the health and prison condition grounds, it becomes open to the defence to counter-appeal on all the other grounds, which would be very desirable indeed given the stark implications of Baraitser’s ruling for media freedom. I have always believed that Baraitser would rule as she did on the substantial points, but I have always also believed that those extreme security state arguments would never survive the scrutiny of better judges in a higher court.

Unlike the health ruling, the dispute over Baraitser’s judgement on all the other points does come down to classic errors in law which can successfully be argued on appeal. If the USA does appeal the judgement, it is far more likely that not only will the health grounds be upheld, but also that Baraitser’s positions on extradition for political offences and freedom of the media will be overturned, than it is likely that the US will achieve extradition. They have fourteen days in which to lodge the appeal – now thirteen. An appeal result is in short likely to be humiliating for the USA. It would be much wiser for the US to let sleeping dogs lie. But pride and the wound to the US sense of omnipotence and exceptionalism may drive them to an appeal which, for the reasons given above, I would actually welcome provided Julian is out on bail. Which I expect he shall be shortly.

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Not sure the DOJ has much say in this.

Will Biden DOJ Pursue Assange Extradition? Outgoing Prosecutor Isn’t Sure (NRP)

The federal prosecutor seeking to try WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Espionage Act charges said he’s uncertain about whether the administration of President-elect Joe Biden would continue the extradition effort. Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, pointed out that the Assange case had already consumed years of work by line prosecutors and other officials. A judge in the United Kingdom dealt American prosecutors a blow Monday by rejecting their efforts to transfer Assange to the United States, citing his mental health troubles. The Justice Department pledged that it would appeal — a process that could drag on for months, if not longer. That means the issue of how to handle Assange, accused in one of the largest compromises of classified information in history, will be one of many questions for the new leadership team at the Justice Department.


“It will be very interesting to see what happens with this case,” Terwilliger said. “There’ll be some decisions to be made. Some of this does come down to resources and where you’re going to focus your energies.” For its part, the Biden transition didn’t comment directly on what position it would take in the Assange matter. But a spokesperson pointed out that Biden has called for an independent Justice Department in his administration. Terwilliger spoke to NPR on one of his final days in government service. Later this month, he’s set to join the law firm Vinson & Elkins. Terwilliger, 39, will beef up the firm’s white collar crime practice, after spending his entire career –a dozen years — on the other side of the courtroom as a career prosecutor and political appointee at the Justice Department.

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These reports keep coming in.

2 People Die In Norway Nursing Home Days After Receiving Pfizer Vaccine (RT)

The Norwegian Medicines Agency has announced that two nursing home residents passed away days after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and that an investigation has been launched into the deaths. “We have to assess whether the vaccine is the cause of death, or if it is a coincidence that it happened soon after vaccination,” Medical Director Steiner Madsen said in a statement about the deaths. He also noted that, because people of advanced age are receiving the vaccine first, it is entirely possible the deaths could be coincidental. Around 400 people die every week in Norwegian nursing homes.


The agency, along with the National Institute of Public Health, are looking into the deaths. Reported side effects from the vaccine have been minor and temporary, although there have been reports of allergic reactions in the US and UK among people who had a history of such. Numerous government officials have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, including US Vice President Mike Pence. Vaccinations with the drug began in Norway on December 27.

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That’s a lot.

Rate Of Adverse Reactions To COVID Vaccines 50x Higher Than Flu Shot (ZH)

With reports this morning of another otherwise-healthy patient dying suddenly after receiving her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, many skeptics in both Europe and the US still have serious reservations about the jabs, even as big pharma and their allies in the US and British governments insist that they are 100% safe. Everyone claiming otherwise is not only wrongheaded, but acting in a deliberately malicious manner. This is why commentary like a video posted by DoubleLine’s Jeffrey Gundlach where he questions the sky-high efficacy numbers published after the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech trials has elicited such vehement repudiation.

However, as new questions about efficacy and timing arise, independent journalist Alex Berenson, one of the most prominent skeptics of lockdowns and masks in the US, noted in a twitter thread earlier on Tuesday that the percentage of patients experiencing severe or potentially life-threatening reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines could be much higher than the data collected by the CDC are letting on. The CDC’s VAERS reporting system was set up to track vaccine-related injury, Most patients can expect to experience some kind of adverse reaction, but for the vast majority of patients, symptoms will be relatively mild and clear up within a couple of days.

But amid a rush of reports about patient deaths, Berenson points out that the number of patients seeing serious complications per the number of doses distributed is roughly 50x higher than the rate of ‘adverse’ reactions caused by the flu vaccine. Berenson also speculated that this number might be even higher due to possible delays in updating the CDC’s data sets. This would seemingly confirm rates of adverse reactions seen during clinical trials. What’s more, clinical trials, generally speaking, tend to “UNDERSTATE” unpleasant or unwanted side effects, while they “OVERSTATE” the drug’s efficacy.

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“it is quite clear that they are not responsible for any side effects. If you become an alligator, it’s your problem.”

Peru Clashes With Pfizer Over Legal Immunity For Vaccine Side Effects (RT)

Peru has reached an impasse with Pfizer as it negotiates a deal for a Covid-19 vaccine, the country’s health minister said, citing a conflict over legal immunity for the pharma firm that could undermine Peru’s sovereignty. While officials have remained in “constant contact” with Pfizer since the summer, the talks ran into trouble last month amid “controversy” over some clauses of the agreement, including those linked to pricing and delivery, as well as legal immunities for the pharmaceutical giant in the case its inoculation leads to death or injury, health minister Pilar Mazzetti told lawmakers on Tuesday. “With Pfizer there are some details where there is no agreement,” Mazzetti said, adding “This has to do with prices and the delivery schedule” as well as “the waiving of important elements such as … jurisdictional immunity.”

“It is true that one needs the vaccine but it is also true that there are aspects related to aspects of our sovereignty that the country has to protect … it has to do with risk for future generations.” The health chief noted that since most aspects of the negotiations are protected under a confidentiality agreement, she could not offer further detail on the ongoing row, but assured that the talks continue. “We hope that the controversy will be resolved so we will be able to determine when the vaccine will arrive,” she went on. Though the country announced a final deal with Pfizer for nearly 10 million vaccine doses in late November, Mazzetti said the process stalled after some clauses in the agreement required “more in-depth analysis” to determine whether they are compatible with Peruvian law.

The Latin American nation is not the first to voice concerns about legal liability waivers in their talks with the pharma firm, with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro observing last month that “it is quite clear that they are not responsible for any side effects. If you become an alligator, it’s your problem.” Officials in Argentina have raised similar worries. As the liability concerns become a major obstacle for some nations, the World Bank said on Tuesday that it is working with over 100 countries to address the issue, whether through local legislative efforts or other processes. The World Bank Group’s president, David Malpass, also noted that the agency aims to distribute $160 billion in resources by June to help developing countries obtain immunizations and fight the pandemic.

Read more …

Surprised?

Wuhan Coronavirus Infections 10 Times Higher Than Reported (NI)

Roughly half a million residents of Wuhan—the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated—may have been infected with the virus, a figure that is about ten times higher than what was initially reported. The study by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed more than thirty-four thousand people in April, and it eventually discovered that 4.4 percent of those tested were found to be carrying the antibodies for the coronavirus. The presence of antibodies means that individuals, at one point in time, had been carriers of the virus. As of Sunday, Wuhan, which has a population of 11 million, had reported a total of 50,354 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.


The Chinese CDC noted that the study was conducted a month after China “contained the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic.” The study also indicated that the infection rate in Wuhan was significantly higher than in other major cities and provinces. For example, it revealed that only 0.44 percent of Hubei residents were found to be carrying the antibodies. “Exactly how much we have missed we don’t exactly know, but this gives us an idea that we have missed quite a bit,” Ian Mackay, an associated professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, told the South China Morning Post. Song Fujian, of Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in Britain, told the paper that “given the chaotic situation and limited testing capability during the early phase of the epidemic in Wuhan,” the serological survey results might be “more accurate than the reported number of confirmed cases.”

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It’s only been a year.

Australia Says China Should Allow In WHO Covid Investigators (G.)

The Australian government has called on China to allow a visit by World Health Organization experts investigating how the coronavirus pandemic started, insisting the country should grant them visas “without delay”. Canberra raised its concerns on Wednesday over reports that Chinese authorities had blocked the arrival of a WHO team investigating the early cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan. With China arguing the team’s visas had not yet been approved, even as some members of the group were on their way to the country, the development has heightened fears among Australian politicians about whether the WHO mission will be able to uncover answers needed to better prepare the world for the next pandemic.


The Australian foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, said she hoped “that the necessary permissions for the WHO team’s travel to China can be issued without delay”. Speaking after months of rocky relations between the two countries, partly triggered by Australia’s calls for such an investigation, Payne said Australia had “consistently sought transparency in relation to the origins of, and responses to the coronavirus, as have other countries”. “The WHO-convened scientific study is an important part of this work and we look forward to the findings from the international field mission to China,” she said. “During this global pandemic that has affected all countries, international cooperation and partnerships will maximise our ability to respond, and to equip us for the next pandemic.”

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53 arrests reported. Including activists’ lawyers.

China Arrests US Lawyer During “Massive Crackdown” In Hong Kong (ZH)

Update 11:00pm ET: In what would be a shocking development, Bloomberg reports that during its “massive crackdown” purging countless local activists and politicians, the Hong Kong police – i.e. China – has arrested American Lawyer, John Clancey, using as a pretext the National Security Law, which everyone warned China would use as strawman to crack down on Hong Kong citizens and activists. Well, it now appears that the emboldened Beijing – which is delighted by the ascent of pro-China pushover Joe Biden to the White House – is also using that law to arrest American citizens.

H.K. ARRESTS AMERICAN LAWYER JOHN CLANCEY, COLLEAGUE SAYS
CLANCEY ARRESTED UNDER NATIONAL SECURITY LAW: COLLEAGUE

In response, Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sent out a harshly worded tweet, warning China that the “Biden-Harris administration will stand with the people of Hong Kong and against Beijing’s crackdown on democracy.” We eagerly await to see just what the Blinken Biden administration will do, besides tweeting angrily in China’s general direction, to secure release of an American citizen unjustly arrested by Chinese proxies in Hong Kong.

Earlier: “Massive Crackdown”: Hong Kong Police Arrest Dozens Of Politicians & Activists 2021 is less than a week old and already Beijing is ramping up its efforts to suppress what’s left of the pro-democracy opposition in Hong Kong. Right now, China hawks are preoccupied right now by a number of issues: the disappearance of Jack Ma (note: CNBC claims the Alibaba founder is just “laying low”), Beijing’s refusal to allow international investigators inside the Wuhan Institue of Virology and, finally, the CCP’s abusive treatment of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority. Now, less than two months after the last 19 members of the HK LegCo’s pro-democracy opposition quit en masse over Beijing’s demands that they swear a loyalty oath to uphold the new national security law and the supremacy of the CCP, Hong Kong police have rounded up dozens of pro-democracy activists.

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“..more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type — franchise, chain and independent — are in an economic free fall.”

The US Has Lost More Than 110,000 Restaurants (Snyder)

The restaurant industry is in the midst of a complete and total meltdown that is unlike anything that we have ever seen before. If you ask Google how many restaurants there are in the United States, it will tell you that there are 660,755, although that number is a few years old. But for the purposes of this article, that is a good enough estimate. Americans love to eat out, and restaurant workers are some of the hardest working people in the entire country. So it is incredibly sad to see more restaurants constantly going under. In some cases, restaurants that have served their communities for decades are deciding to permanently close their doors. For example, over the weekend Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse in New York City announced that it had finally reached the end of the road…

[..] Unfortunately, Sammy’s is far from alone. In fact, in a recent article that he penned for Fox Business, Adam Piper lamented the fact that more than 100,000 U.S. restaurants have gone out of business during this pandemic… “State and local governments have wielded the coronavirus pandemic as license to steal freedom and opportunity in pursuit of unprecedented omnipotence. Unreasonable, unnecessary and hypocritical actions have forced over 100,000 restaurants to close and endanger countless others.” And according to Bloomberg, the true number of dead restaurants is now over 110,000… “More than 110,000 restaurants have closed permanently or long-term across the country as the industry grapples with the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Just think about that. More than one out of every six restaurants in the U.S. is already gone, and the National Restaurant Association is warning that there will be more carnage in the months ahead because the industry is in “an economic free fall”… “The restaurant industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer,” Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs at the association, said in a letter to Congress. “What these findings make clear is that more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type — franchise, chain and independent — are in an economic free fall.” This is what an economic depression looks like. With tens of thousands of restaurants sitting empty, and with tens of thousands of others not paying rent, the stage has been set for a commercial real estate disaster of unprecedented scope and size.

Of course there are millions of square feet of office space and retail space that are not being productive right now as well. In a recent article, Lee Adler referred to this looming commercial real estate nightmare as “a monster in the room”… “I think that if there’s anything that illustrates the head in the sand problem of the banks, it’s this. Commercial real estate (CRE) finance. There’s a monster in the room. All that empty space. No longer income producing.” For now, big financial institutions are doing their best to hide their coming losses, but according to Adler for certain sectors the losses will simply be unavoidable… “Multifamily will take a haircut but will survive. My guess is that industrial, while overpriced and overvalued, will produce enough income to get by. Office and retail? Kiss it goodbye. It’s done. Over. Kaput.”

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Victoria Nuland is the worst America has to offer.

Biden To Tap More Obama Vets To Fill Key National Security Roles

President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team have begun to fill out top positions on the incoming National Security Council and at the State Department, with key roles like deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of State going to veterans of the Obama administration. At the State Department, longtime diplomat Wendy Sherman will be nominated to serve as Secretary of State-designee Tony Blinken’s deputy, according to two people close to the transition. Sherman previously served as under secretary of State for political affairs in the Obama administration and was a lead negotiator for the Iran deal. Sherman is currently a senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group, the same firm where Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden’s pick to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also worked as a senior counselor.

Another veteran diplomat, Victoria Nuland, will be nominated for the role of under secretary of State for political affairs, one of the people said. Nuland also previously served in the Obama administration, as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. Nuland and Sherman, who entered academia and the think tank world after leaving the Obama administration, have been outspoken critics of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy — particularly his appeasement of Russian President Vladimir Putin. On the National Security Council, former State Department official Jon Finer will be named deputy national security adviser, the people said, reporting up to incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Finer, a former journalist, joined the Obama White House as a fellow in 2009 and served in various roles throughout Obama’s tenure, including as a foreign policy speechwriter for Biden and a senior adviser to then-deputy national security adviser Blinken. Finer had been working in political risk and public policy at the private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which was co-founded by Blinken’s father, since leaving government in 2017. The key NSC role of senior director for European Affairs will go to Amanda Sloat, a Brookings Institution fellow who served as deputy assistant secretary for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean affairs at the State Department in the Obama administration.

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And Nuland’s co-conspirator Geoffrey Pyatt is now US ambassador here in Greece.

Biden Taps Architect of 2014 Ukraine Coup for State Department (Antiwar)

According to a report from Politico, Joe Biden’s transition team is expected to nominate Victoria Nuland to be the under secretary of state for political affairs for the incoming administration’s State Department. Nuland, who is married to neoconservative Robert Kagan, is known for her role in orchestrating the 2014 coup in Ukraine while she was the assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian affairs in the Obama administration. A recording of a phone call between Nuland and then-US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt was leaked and released on YouTube on February 4th, 2014. In the call, Nuland and Pyatt discussed who should replace the government of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was forced to step down on February 22nd, 2014.

The US-backed coup sparked the war in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and led to the Russian annexation of Crimea. Both regions have a majority ethnic-Russian population who rejected the nationalist, anti-Russian post-coup government that even had neo-Nazis in its midst. In a 2020 column for Foreign Affairs titled, “Pinning Down Putin,” Nuland said Russian President Vladimir Putin “seized” on the 2014 coup and other “democratic struggles” to “fuel the perception at home of Russian interests under siege by external enemies.” She also cited the war in the Donbas and annexation of Crimea as examples of Russian aggression, as most in Washington do.

Currently, Nuland is a fellow at the Brookings Institution and works for the Albright Stonebridge Group. She is also a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, a US-taxpayer funded nonprofit that funds “pro-democracy” movements across the world.

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“..the entire litany of brutality to which we’ve been subjected for nearly a year, all summed up in the word lockdown. Dr. Henderson warned against it all…”

Catastrophe Is All Around Us (AIER)

As a naturally optimistic person, it vexes me that the word catastrophe has echoed in my mind since early March 2020. It’s the word the great smallpox eradicator Donald Henderson used in his 2006 prediction of the consequences of lockdown, a word that wasn’t around then. His masterful article addressed the idea of travel restrictions, forced human separation, business and school closings, mask mandates, limits on public gatherings, quarantines, and the entire litany of brutality to which we’ve been subjected for nearly a year, all summed up in the word lockdown. Dr. Henderson warned against it all. This is not how you deal with disease, he said; at a minimum society needs to function so that medical professionals can do their work.

Diseases are managed one person at a time, not with grand central plans. That was the old wisdom in any case. Under the influence of vainglorious modelers, ideological resetters, and politicians hoping to make names for themselves, most of the world tried the lockdown experiment anyway. Here we are nearly a year since I wrote my first article warning that governments presumed themselves to possess the quarantine power. They could use it if they wanted to. I didn’t expect they would. I wrote this piece as a “for your information” public service just to let people know how terrible governments could be.

I had no idea that quarantines would be only the beginning. At this point we know what we did not know then. They are capable – by they I mean even governments in presumably civilized countries with functioning democracies – of the unthinkable, and they are capable of persisting in the unthinkable for an appalling amount of time. Now the lockdowns are our life in the US, unless you are lucky enough to live in Florida, Georgia, South Dakota, South Carolina, and perhaps a few other places. Here in these outposts of what we used to call civilization, life seems normal. Our readers in these states don’t even think about the virus much, and they read my articles and find them overwrought, like I’m describing life on another planet.

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Externalities.

More Than 1.5 Billion Face Masks Will Pollute Oceans This Year (NYP)

More than 1.5 billion disposable face masks will wind up in the world’s oceans this year — polluting the water with tons of plastic and endangering marine wildlife, according to a Hong Kong-based environmental group. A report by OceansAsia cites a global market research report that estimates 52 billion masks were made this year to meet the demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It also says that a “conservative” calculation means at least 3 percent of them will be washed out to sea. “Single-use face masks are made from a variety of meltblown plastics and are difficult to recycle due to both composition and risk of contamination and infection,” the report says.


“These masks enter our oceans when they are littered or otherwise improperly discarded, when waste management systems are inadequate or non-existent, or when these systems become overwhelmed due to increased volumes of waste.” With each mask weighing three to four grams, the situation could lead to 6,800-plus tons of plastic pollution that “will take as long as 450 years to break down,” according to the report. In addition to the harmful effects of micro-plastic and nano-plastic particles, elastic ear loops pose a “possible entanglement risk for wildlife,” the report says. The report cites several examples of marine animals killed by masks, including a “dead bloated pufferfish” found tangled in the loops of a disposable blue mask by volunteers cleaning a Miami beach in August.

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And sometimes you look up from whatever it is you’re doing and suddenly you see life.

US Doctor Forgives $650,000 In Medical Bills For Cancer Patients (BBC)

A US oncologist has wiped out nearly $650,000 worth of debts for 200 cancer patients after realising that many of them were struggling to pay. Dr Omar Atiq closed his cancer treatment centre in Arkansas last year after nearly 30 years in business. He worked with a debt collection firm to gather outstanding payments, but then realised many families had been hit hard financially by the pandemic. Over Christmas, he wrote to patients telling them any debts would be erased. “Over time I realised that there are people who just are unable to pay,” Dr Atiq told ABC’s Good Morning America. “So my wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt. We saw that we could do it and then just went ahead and did it.” Dr Atiq, who is originally from Pakistan, founded the Arkansas Cancer Clinic in Pine Bluff in 1991, providing treatments including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and CAT scans.


He is now a professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock. “We thought there was not a better time to do this than during a pandemic that has decimated homes, people’s lives and businesses and all sorts of stuff,” Dr Atiq said, quoted by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He said the outstanding bills from about 200 patients totalled nearly $650,000 (£480,000). In his Christmas greeting card to patients, he wrote: “The Arkansas Cancer Clinic was proud to serve you as a patient. Although various health insurances pay most of the bills for majority of patients, even the deductibles and co-pays can be burdensome. Unfortunately, that is the way our health care system currently works. The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients. Happy Holidays.”

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 292020
 


Juan Gris Portrait of the artist’s mother 1912

 

WHO Chief Scientist: No Evidence COVID Vaccine Prevents Viral Transmission (ZH)
WHO -Secretly- Changed Their Definition Of “Herd Immunity” (OffG)
UK Variant Linked To High Viral Loads, Neanderthal Gene Offers Protection (R.)
House Passes $2,000 Per American COVID19 Relief Bill Requested By Trump (RT)
Republicans Threaten To Deny $2,000 Checks To Their Own Constituents (DP)
House Overrides Trump’s Veto Of Bill That Blocked Afghanistan Withdrawal (RT)
Bernie Sanders To Delay Defense Veto Override In Bid For $2,000 Checks (Pol.)
McConnell Rushed To Save His Senators, But Left Trump Twisting In The Wind (IC)
Japan Gave Key Intel On China’s Uighur Crackdown To US and Britain (JT)
Trump Admin Bolsters Order Barring US Investment In Chinese Firms (R.)
In Darkness Visible (Jim Kunstler)
The Threat of Authoritarianism in the US is Very Real (Greenwald)

 

 

Entirely useless? Someone better do a risk/reward analysis.

WHO Chief Scientist: No Evidence COVID Vaccine Prevents Viral Transmission (ZH)

Once again, the WHO has stepped in to offer some confusing comments about the coronavirus vaccine, warning that there is “no evidence to be confident shots prevent transmission” and that people who receive the vaccine should continue wearing masks and following all social distancing and travel guidelines. The comments were made by WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan during what appears to have been a virtual press conference held Monday. A clip of the offending line has begun circulating on social media. “At the moment, I don’t believe we have the evidence on any of the vaccines, to be confident that it’s going to prevent people from getting the infection and passing it on,”

WHO chief scientist
https://twitter.com/i/status/1343620091695538179

Of course, a close look at the research released by Pfizer and Moderna shows the studies haven’t actually tested whether the vaccines actually prevent transmission of the virus; the goal of the trials was to see whether vaccinated patients presented with COVID symptoms at a rate that was substantially less frequent than individuals who hadn’t been vaccinated. That’s pretty much it. Though the data might hint at lowering transmission rates, that’s still tbd, apparently. The doctor went on to explain that there’s no evidence to suggest that those who have been vaccinated wouldn’t be a risk if they traveled to a foreign country, say Australia, with relatively low COVID rates.


At this point, it might be helpful for the WHO to produce some kind of clarification that either offers substantially more context to explain this remark. But we suspect they won’t. Why? Well, perhaps because that context might undermine certain government officials’ insistence that there’s absolutely no reason to question the efficacy, and potential side effects (both long-term, and short) tied to the new COVID-19 vaccines.

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“..newspeak doublethink nonsense..”

WHO -Secretly- Changed Their Definition Of “Herd Immunity” (OffG)

The World Health Organization has changed the definition of “herd immunity” on the Covid section of their website, inserting the claim that it is a “concept used in vaccination”, and requires a vaccine to be achieved. Both of these statements are total falsehoods, which is demonstrated by the WHO’s own website back in June, and every dictionary definition of “herd immunity” you can find. To quote the WHO’s own original definition: “Herd immunity is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or a natural immunity developed through previous infection.” This definition was posted on the WHO’s website on June 9th of this year, and conforms with the general usage of the term for generations.


Then, on October 15th, we woke up to find the words on the side of the barn had changed. The definition has been altered to this: “‘Herd immunity’, also known as ‘population immunity’, is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.” No explanation is offered for the change, in fact [no] note of the change is made on the website at all. Indeed all the previous versions of the website have been totally wiped from the wayback machine. A telling thing to do, in and of itself. We’re only aware of the change because screencaps of the original exist:

The new definition, aside from being inaccurate and off-handedly disposing of decades of epidemiological research, is also contradictory. It includes the phrase: “Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.” Which is newspeak doublethink nonsense. The entire point of vaccination IS “exposing” people to the virus. This revised, inaccurate and contradictory definition of “herd immunity” was first expressed in a speech by WHO Director General Thedros Adhanom on October 12th. Within three days that speech had been added, word for word, to the website. And within a month of the change, the UK had approved the first commercial vaccine for Sars-Cov-2 infection.

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Forget the vaccine, I’ll get the Neanderthal gene.

UK Variant Linked To High Viral Loads, Neanderthal Gene Offers Protection (R.)

The highly infectious COVID-19 coronavirus variant that has been circulating in Britain is linked to higher loads of the virus in the blood, according to a research report published on medRxiv on Sunday ahead of peer review. Around 35% of patients infected by the variant form had very high levels of the virus in their samples, compared to 10% of patients without the variant, study leader Michael Kidd of Public Health England and Birmingham University told Reuters. Higher viral loads have been linked with worse COVID-19 outcomes. The tests were conducted at the Birmingham Turnkey Lab. Kidd said additional study was needed to confirm or refute the findings. If confirmed, he hopes scientists will investigate how this particular variant manages to make more copies of itself in infected patients.

[..] A specific form of a protein passed down from Neanderthals protects against severe COVID-19, and medications that boost levels of this protein could potentially help treat the disease, according to a study reported on medRxiv on Thursday ahead of peer review. The protein, called OAS1, is involved in the body’s response to viruses. People with higher levels of the Neanderthal-related form of OAS1 are less susceptible to COVID-19, and if they do become infected, they are at lower risk for hospitalization, intubation and death, the researchers found. “This protective form of OAS1 is present in sub-Saharan Africans but was lost when the ancestors of modern-day Europeans migrated out of Africa. It was then re-introduced into the European population through mating with Neanderthals” who lived more than 40,000 years ago, said coauthor Brent Richards from the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University in Montreal. An earlier study linked a cluster of genes inherited from Neanderthals to higher risks of hospitalization from COVID-19. “These findings further implicate Neanderthal ancestry in COVID-19 severity,” Richards said.

[..] The speed of patients’ antibody production – rather than the volume of antibodies they produce to fight the new coronavirus – determines whether they will survive COVID-19, new data suggest. Researchers who studied more than 200 COVID-19 patients, including 179 who were hospitalized, found those who produced so-called neutralizing antibodies within 14 days of developing symptoms eventually recovered, while those who did not produce neutralizing antibodies until more than 14 days had elapsed developed higher viral loads and more severe disease. “It is unclear why antibodies generated after this time point are unable to promote viral clearance and recovery in COVID-19 patients,” the researchers said in a report posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review. Study leader Akiko Iwasaki of the Yale University School of Medicine tweeted on Saturday, “It’s possible that virus somehow becomes resistant by hiding in inaccessible tissues.” The new findings, she added, suggest therapy with so-called monoclonal antibody drugs – such as those from Regeneron given to U.S. President Donald Trump — is likely to work only if used soon after infection.

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Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act.

House Passes $2,000 Per American COVID19 Relief Bill Requested By Trump (RT)

The US House of Representatives has voted to raise to $2,000 the sum of the one-time direct payment to most Americans, after President Donald Trump demanded it be raised from $600 in the spending bill he signed to avoid shutdown. Dubbed the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act, House Resolution 9051 passed on Monday evening, as lawmakers lined up to cast their own and proxy votes, wearing face masks under rules instituted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California). The procedural vote requiring two-thirds majority succeeded, with 275 votes in favor. The proposal was opposed by 130 Republicans, two Democrats and two 2 independents.


The resolution now goes to the Senate for approval. Trump initially threatened to veto the nearly 6,000-page omnibus-stimulus behemoth, objecting to the $600 amount and other spending measures. On Sunday, he turned around and signed it, but demanded that the House pass a bill increasing the payout to $2,000 per individual and delete some of the other spending provisions, while asking for several other actions from the Senate as well. Democrats have refused to cut any spending, however, and the Republican-led Senate is unlikely to follow through on Trump’s demands.

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“an estimated 42 percent of Kentucky children (live) in renter households (that) were behind on rent and/or did not get enough to eat, and 20 percent of adults with children in the household reported the children weren’t eating enough because they couldn’t afford enough food.”

Republicans Threaten To Deny $2,000 Checks To Their Own Constituents (DP)

Last week, House Democrats attempted to call President Donald Trump’s bluff and increase the COVID relief bill’s survival checks to $2,000. House Republicans blocked the initial maneuver, and may today prevent the legislation from passing. If it does pass, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could kill the bill. The spectacle of Congress continuing to stall $2,000 survival checks during an economic emergency spotlights Donald Trump’s erratic behavior, Democrats’ persistent austerity ideology and the dysfunctionality of a government waiting until the last minute to hammer out 5,000-page emergency legislation in a matter of hours.

Most important, the antics of House Republicans and McConnell illustrate how — despite all of America’s paens to democracy — lawmakers ostensibly elected to represent us will routinely stomp on their own constituents. Of course, constituents are barely part of the media narrative anymore. Indeed, if you read national news, you will almost never see a mention of whom exactly these Republicans are supposed to be representing. For example, you will not see any mention of the fact that, according to research from AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer, the majority of lawmakers in the House Republican Conference come from districts in the bottom two income quintiles — meaning their constituents would particularly benefit from the $2,000 checks.

Similarly, you will see McConnell depicted only as an all-powerful Republican leader — an omniscient spectre haunting the halls of power, effectively disassociated from time, place and constituency. In this mythology, he is a phantom menace who controls everything but somehow represents nobody. You will not see much mention of the fact that McConnell actually does represent a real, live place — one that illustrates how this standoff is fundamentally a crisis of democratic accountability. McConnell’s role in this debacle cannot be overstated: Had he already signed onto the plan to increase the direct payments in the COVID deal, it would probably be a done deal — but so far he has been reticent, as millions of Americans are struggling to survive.

Among those millions struggling to survive are hundreds of thousands of people in McConnell’s own state of Kentucky — which is one of the poorest in the country. As such, it would particularly benefit from the $2,000 survival checks. As McConnell plays coy in Washington, his state is becoming a Dickensian nightmare. More than 700,000 Kentuckians live below the federal poverty line. During the COVID-19 pandemic, things have become downright dystopian: Louisville’s ABC affiliate recently reported that “an estimated 42 percent of Kentucky children (live) in renter households (that) were behind on rent and/or did not get enough to eat, and 20 percent of adults with children in the household reported the children weren’t eating enough because they couldn’t afford enough food.”

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Bring them home.

House Overrides Trump’s Veto Of Bill That Blocked Afghanistan Withdrawal (RT)

The US House of Representatives has voted for the first time to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a $740 billion annual military spending bill, which he opposed for limiting his ability to bring US troops home. After aligning with Trump to approve raising the coronavirus stimulus payments to $2,000 per American, the House also voted 322- 87 to override Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a $740 billion military spending bill, which passed both chambers of Congress earlier this month.


Trump objected to the NDAA not addressing his concerns about Section 230 and internet platforms, trying to prevent him from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and including a Democrat proposal to rename US military bases named a century ago after Civil War generals who fought for the Confederacy. If the Senate does the same, that would make it the first – and likely the last – veto override of Trump’s administration, as Democrats are joined by a faction of Republicans all too eager to abandon the president. Amid media reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) planned to hold a vote only on the NDAA override and not the increased payments, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) vowed to hold up the vote and block the Senate from going into recess over the New Year holiday.

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How things are connected.

Bernie Sanders To Delay Defense Veto Override In Bid For $2,000 Checks (Pol.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders will filibuster an override of President Donald Trump’s defense bill veto unless the Senate holds a vote on providing $2,000 direct payments to Americans. “McConnell and the Senate want to expedite the override vote and I understand that. But I’m not going to allow that to happen unless there is a vote, no matter how long that takes, on the $2,000 direct payment,” Sanders said in an interview on Monday night. The Vermont independent can’t ultimately stop the veto override vote, but he can delay it until New Year’s Day and make things more difficult for the GOP. The House passed the payment boost sought by Trump and Democratic leaders on Monday evening, and Trump said the Senate has agreed to “start the process” on a stimulus checks vote when he signed the $900 billion relief bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to address the timing of such a vote. Under Senate rules, Sanders has the ability to keep the chamber in during the holiday week and likely mess with the campaign schedules of Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.). Those two face Jan. 5 runoff races for control of the Senate against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who are both campaigning on the $2,000 checks. A source close to Sanders said the Senate races were a factor in his decision — part of a bid to keep Perdue and Loeffler in D.C. and focus the campaign on their position regarding the $2,000 checks. Sanders also threatened to shut down the government earlier this month if the coronavirus relief bill did not include direct payments; ultimately it included checks of up to $600 and the government stayed open, though now Trump wants to go much higher.

Though veto overrides can be filibustered, as Sanders plans to do, it is a rare procedural move because the veto override already requires 67 votes and the filibuster is simply a delay tactic, according to the Congressional Research Service. Sanders said he hopes McConnell allows a vote on the checks on Wednesday. “The American people are desperate, and the Senate has got to do its job before leaving town,” Sanders said. “It would be unconscionable, especially after the House did the right thing, for the Senate to simply leave Washington without voting on this.”

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“McConnell had the option to press the button, and he knew the button would help Trump, yet he didn’t press it.”

McConnell Rushed To Save His Senators, But Left Trump Twisting In The Wind (IC)

One of the enduring mysteries of the 2020 presidential election was Mitch McConnell’s apparent lack of interest in helping to reelect President Donald Trump. From the perspective of the White House, the political press corps, Democrats, and effectively everybody watching the race, there was one major thing they thought would go a long way to delivering four more years for Trump, and that was a major round of stimulus in the weeks before the election, complete with checks destined for voters. Given that a swing of fewer than 100,000 votes in the right states would have flipped the election to Trump, it’s fair to say that such a stimulus could indeed have turned the tide for Trump. Yet McConnell stood in the way. We now know with certainty that the Senate majority leader is well aware of the political value of stimulus checks.

“Kelly and David are getting hammered,” McConnell told his Republican flock, explaining why the party would be agreeing not just to a historic-sized piece of legislation, but also to one that included $600 checks for everybody with under a certain income. “Kelly,” of course, is Kelly Loeffler, the wife of the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, appointed to the Senate to replace the retiring Johnny Isaacson, and “David” is David Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General. Both Loeffler and Perdue are facing runoffs in January, and both have used their perch in the Senate to acquire financial information they used to profit on stock trades. But that’s not why they’re getting hammered. They’re getting hammered over checks. Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have been blasting away for weeks at Perdue and Loeffler for blocking another round of stimulus, and in particular for blocking checks.

And so McConnell bent to political reality, doing what he didn’t want to do in order to keep control of the Senate. But if it was a price he was willing to pay for Kelly and David and control of the Senate, why wouldn’t he pay the same price to keep control of the White House? The option was available to him. Even if Democratic leaders would have preferred to pass the stimulus after the election, their obstruction beforehand would either have been politically untenable or, if held firm, politically suicidal. So McConnell had the option to press the button, and he knew the button would help Trump, yet he didn’t press it. The only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that McConnell did not want to help Trump win.

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Six Eyes?!

Japan Gave Key Intel On China’s Uighur Crackdown To US and Britain (JT)

Japan provided intelligence to the United States and Britain last year showing evidence of China’s forceful detainment of Muslim Uighur minority on condition of keeping the source confidential, a person close to Japan-U.S. relations said Monday. Based on the information, the United States stepped up criticism against China’s alleged crackdown on Uighurs in the Xinjiang autonomous region, the source said. The move shows Japan has already been sharing key intelligence with partners behind the scenes amid calls within the government to join the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance to better respond to increasing threats by North Korea and China. The intelligence-sharing network involves Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.


Britain joined the United States in pressing Beijing over its crackdown on Uighurs, but Japan has only said it “is closely watching the situation with concern.” Japan seeks to maintain friendly ties with China — its largest trading partner — without hurting relations with its top security ally, the United States. Given that Tokyo’s relations with Beijing had been improving, it was preparing for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first visit as a state guest in spring 2020, although the planned visit was later postponed after the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic.

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Interesting to see how this changes after Jan. 20.

Trump Admin Bolsters Order Barring US Investment In Chinese Firms (R.)

The Trump administration on Monday strengthened an executive order barring U.S. investors from buying securities of alleged Chinese military-controlled companies, following disagreement among U.S. agencies about how tough to make the directive. The Treasury Department published guidance clarifying that the executive order, released in November, would apply to investors in exchange-traded funds and index funds as well as subsidiaries of Chinese companies designated as owned or controlled by the Chinese military. The “frequently asked questions” release, posted on the Treasury website on Monday, came after Reuters and other news outlets reported that a debate was raging within the Trump administration over the guidance.


The State Department and the Department of Defense had pushed back against a bid by Treasury Department to water down the executive order, a source said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the announcement “ensures U.S. capital does not contribute to the development and modernization of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) military, intelligence, and security services.” “This should allay concerns that U.S. investors might unknowingly support (Chinese military-controlled companies) via direct, indirect, or other passive investments,” he added. Specifically, some media outlets reported that Treasury was seeking to exclude Chinese companies’ subsidiaries from the scope of the White House directive, which bars new purchases of securities of 35 Chinese companies that Washington alleges are backed by the Chinese military, starting in November 2021.

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“They can hear the tinkle of their lucrative perquisites shattering in the creases of their temporal lobes.”

In Darkness Visible (Jim Kunstler)

The signals from the political establishment to Donald Trump ring pretty clear now: get thee hence, thou big-bottomed orange menace to order and sanctity! Has ever a president been lonelier at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? Lincoln’s “team of rivals” in the drear winter months of 1864 seem downright chummy in retrospect and, of course, poor Richard Nixon stayed swozzled on scotch whiskey during the darkest nights of Watergate, when he reputedly wandered the West Wing halls conversing with portraits of his predecessors. The other power centers of America, especially the news media, insist that there is no evidence of fraud in the recent election and it’s time to get on with the hallowed ceremonies of transition.

The post-Christmas suspense is killing them. Mr. Trump will not be moved to declare that he lost the election — probably for the excellent reason that he really didn’t, if there had been anything like an honest tally of the ballots. They hear murmurings of martial law and the Insurrection Act, and it all sounds to them like an imperial Nightmare on Elm Street. They can hear the tinkle of their lucrative perquisites shattering in the creases of their temporal lobes. It’s said in the alt.media that the president wishes to exhaust all the formal alternatives before possibly moving onto the novelty steps of contesting this final act of the four-year coup against him, which brings us all the way to January 6, when the electoral college slates are toted up in the House chamber, Vice President Pence presiding. One popular fantasy has the Veep tossing out “certified” votes from states where irregularities were starkest in favor of alt.slates submitted by Republican-majority state legislatures — with Hieronymus Bosch-style Antifa chaos to follow all over the land.

Sounds like a low percentage deal to me, but then… what’s actually at stake here? Not to be too melodramatic, but something kind of like a Manchurian Candidate situation. How okay is it, actually, for Joe Biden, with a record of accepting large sums of money from China’s intel apparatus, to move into the Oval Office, especially after they laid the Covid-19 trip on the world? No problemo, the DNC and its vast network of apparatchiks answer. There’s no evidence of Ol’ Joe colluding for pay!

Read more …

“… and Has Nothing To Do With Trump”

The Threat of Authoritarianism in the US is Very Real (Greenwald)

The lockdowns from the pandemic have ushered in a collapse of small businesses across the U.S. that has only further fortified the power of corporate giants. “Billionaires increased their wealth by more than a quarter (27.5%) at the height of the crisis from April to July, just as millions of people around the world lost their jobs or were struggling to get by on government schemes,” reported The Guardian in September. A study from July told part of the story: The combined wealth of the world’s super-rich reached a new peak during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study published by the consulting firm PwC and the Swiss bank UBC on Wednesday. The more than 2,000 billionaires around the world managed to amass fortunes totalling around $10.2 trillion (€8.69 trillion) by July, surpassing the previous record of $8.9 trillion reached in 2017.

Meanwhile, though exact numbers are unknown, “roughly one in five small businesses have closed,” AP notes, adding: “restaurants, bars, beauty shops and other retailers that involve face-to-face contact have been hardest hit at a time when Americans are trying to keep distance from one another.” Employees are now almost completely at the mercy of a handful of corporate giants which are thriving, far more trans-national than with any allegiance to the U.S. A Brookings Institution study this week — entitled “Amazon and Walmart have raked in billions in additional profits during the pandemic, and shared almost none of it with their workers” — found that “the COVID-19 pandemic has generated record profits for America’s biggest companies, as well as immense wealth for their founders and largest shareholders—but next to nothing for workers.”

These COVID “winners” are not the Randian victors in free market capitalism. Quite the contrary, they are the recipients of enormous amounts of largesse from the U.S. Government, which they control through armies of lobbyists and donations and which therefore constantly intervenes in the market for their benefit. This is not free market capitalism rewarding innovative titans, but rather crony capitalism that is abusing the power of the state to crush small competitors, lavish corporate giants with ever more wealth and power, and turn millions of Americans into vassals whose best case scenario is working multiple jobs at low hourly wages with no benefits, few rights, and even fewer options.

[..] What makes this most menacing of all is that the primary beneficiaries of these rapid changes are Silicon Valley giants, at least three of which — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — are now classic monopolies. That the wealth of their primary owners and executives — Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai — has skyrocketed during the pandemic is well-covered, but far more significant is the unprecedented power these companies exert over the dissemination of information and conduct of political debates, to say nothing of the immense data they possess about our lives by virtue of online surveillance.

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 072020
 


René Magritte Promenades d’Euclid 1955

 

WHO Looks At Giving COVID19 To Healthy People To Speed Up Vaccine Trials (G.)
Fears That UK Will Not Cope With Brexit And Covid Vaccine Rollout (G.)
Azar Responds To Biden’s Vaccine Distribution Remark (JTN)
Ratcliffe: Interim Durham Report To Deter Biden From Shutting Down Inquiry (WE)
Water Futures to Start Trading Amid Growing Fears of Scarcity (BBG)
No Escape From Our Techno-Feudal World (Escobar)
Election Day Information Blackout: US Media Is No Friend of the People (SCF)
The Elite Strategy To Divide and Conquer (Curtin)
Toyota Will Not Invest In Electric Cars In UK Until At Least 2034 (G.)
Finding the Truth behind the American Hologram (CoIC)
China Boycott To Hit Australian Wine Hard As Fruit, Vegetable Prices Rise (G.)
Greece Wants EU Arms Embargo On Turkey (K.)

 

 

 

 

California has had a nearly identical case trajectory as Texas.

In TX, schools are open. Businesses are open. People can go for a walk.

 

 

To test vaccines that hardly work and could be very dangerous. It’s taking on Matrix-like proportions.

WHO Looks At Giving COVID19 To Healthy People To Speed Up Vaccine Trials (G.)

The World Health Organization is holding discussions on Monday about the feasibility of trials in which healthy young volunteers are deliberately infected with coronavirus to hasten vaccine development – amid questions over whether they should go ahead given the promising data from the frontrunner vaccine candidates. Some scientists have reservations about exposing volunteers to a virus for which there is no cure, although there are treatments that can help patients. However, proponents argue that the risks of Covid-19 to the young and healthy are minimal, and the benefits to society are high. The WHO advisory group meeting, which will focus on reviewing existing plans for “human challenge trials” and discuss associated technical concerns, will not include groups representing research participants or members of the public.

1Day Sooner, a non-profit organisation advocating for human challenge study volunteers, said it asked to attend the meeting but was turned away. In a statement to the Guardian, the WHO said the meeting was a focused technical consultation with scientific experts, and that such meetings were not usually open to the public but that future meetings could include civil participation. More than a dozen scientific experts are expected to convene as part of the advisory group on Monday, and observers could include representatives of the Wellcome Trust, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the US-based National Institutes of Health and the FDA.

Joshua Morrison, executive director of 1Day Sooner, said: “If the argument is, we’re just giving advice into what the studies should look like – we think research participants should be a part of that. And if the argument is that this [meeting] is completely separate from the ethical side of things, I do think that’s hard to disentangle from the technical concerns.” [..] The UK government has invested about £30m to back a human challenge trial, although ethical approval is pending, and similar studies are being planned in the Netherlands. Enthusiasm for such trials in the United States has reportedly waned since the positive vaccine results poured in last month.

Read more …

“..it is possible that imported equipment necessary for dealing with the pandemic gets caught up in that..”

Fears That UK Will Not Cope With Brexit And Covid Vaccine Rollout (G.)

Well before scientists were sure that a vaccine would be ready for use in the UK by the end of this year, the government regulator – the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – put out an urgent call for help. Its appeal, issued in September, was evidence that even if a vaccine were to be developed and approved soon, things would be far from plain sailing. The call to tender stated: “The MHRA urgently seeks an artificial intelligence (AI) software tool to process the expected high volume of Covid-19 vaccine-adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and ensure that no details from the ADRs’ reaction text are missed. For reasons of extreme urgency under Regulation 32(2)(c) related to the release of a Covid-19 vaccine, MHRA have accelerated the sourcing and implementation of a vaccine specific AI tool…”

The Cabinet Office, which coordinates policy across government departments and their responses to crises, was alerted. A company called Genpact won the £1.5m tender soon after. The MHRA said then that based on previous vaccination campaigns, there would be between 50,000 and 100,000 reports of suspected side effects for every 100 million doses over a six to 12-month period. This weekend there is real hope inside government that an end is in sight to the pandemic. News that the UK had become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, which the MHRA says offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19, has been hailed as a potentially decisive moment.

There are, however, no celebrations in Whitehall. Rather there is much caution, just as there was back in September. It is not only the administrative challenge of vaccinating much of the population safely that is worrying officials, but the prospect of doing so just as the deep mid-winter approaches – a time when NHS staff would, even in a normal year, be run off their feet. This year it is worse, however. The pandemic is still claiming hundreds of lives a day and a Covid-19 third wave may be round the corner, after festive relaxations, to add to intense pressures already on the NHS. And on top of it all, there are the hugely disruptive, and to some extent unknown, effects of Brexit on the UK’s trade and ability to import and export that are about to reveal themselves.

Those concerns also preoccupy an overloaded government machine and Cabinet Office. As Sam Lowe, a former member of the Department for International Trade’s Strategic Trade Advisory Group, now a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, says, there is a possibility that the two issues will intersect and collide, making matters worse. “There are going to be delays at the borders and it is going to take the EU and UK a while to get used to trading under the new system and it is possible that imported equipment necessary for dealing with the pandemic gets caught up in that,” says Lowe.

Read more …

“We do hundreds of millions of vaccinations a year. We’re leveraging the systems that are known and that work here in the United States.”

Azar Responds To Biden’s Vaccine Distribution Remark (JTN)

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar during an interview on Fox News Sunday pushed back against a statement Joe Biden recently made regarding the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. “There is no detailed plan, that we’ve seen anyway, as to how you get the vaccine out of a container into an injection syringe, into somebody’s arm,” Biden said. “With all respect that’s just nonsense,” Azar said in response after the clip of Biden’s statement played during the interview. He went on to push back against Biden’s statement. “We have comprehensive plans from the CDC working with 64 public health jurisdictions across the country as our governors have laid out very detailed plans that we’ve worked with them on,” Azar said.


“We’re leveraging our retail pharmacies, our hospitals, our public health departments, our community health centers. We have the…kits that have the syringes, the diluent, the needles, the PPE to administer.” Azar continued: “This is being micromanaged and controlled by the United States military as well as our incredible private sector. We do hundreds of millions of vaccinations a year. We’re leveraging the systems that are known and that work here in the United States.”

Read more …

“This idea that there was not FISA abuse and it was a bunch of nonsense — look, someone is going to prison over that. It’s just a question now of how wide and how deep it was..”

Ratcliffe: Interim Durham Report To Deter Biden From Shutting Down Inquiry (WE)

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said an interim report from special counsel John Durham should be released as a deterrent against President-elect Joe Biden trying to shut down the federal prosecutor’s inquiry into the Russia investigation. President Trump’s spy chief also told Maria Bartiromo on Fox News’s Sunday Morning Futures that now that the election is over, publicizing Durham’s findings is not a political issue anymore. “I think the American people should know what’s happening in a two-year investigation into this, and I hope that that report will be forthcoming,” Ratcliffe said, adding, “The American people deserve a full accounting, but the special counsel regulations not only require a final report, they allow for interim reports, so I’d like to see an interim report that talks about this from the angle of someone that has not only the intelligence community documents that I have but the law enforcement documents.”

It remains unclear what a Biden administration will do with Durham’s work, but Attorney General William Barr elevating him to special counsel in October provides some protection against a swift dismissal. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and other Democrats have suggested that Biden could end Durham’s inquiry, to which Ratcliffe pointed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuses detailed in Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s lengthy report from late last year. “Chairman Schiff has indicated he thinks that the Durham investigation should end — which is exactly why an interim report is appropriate. It would show whether or not there’s a good-faith basis to continue. It would protect the work that’s been done,” Ratcliffe said.

“So, I would encourage my colleagues over at the Department of Justice and at the FBI and, in particular, now special counsel Durham to consider doing that, so that the American people can get the full accounting that they deserve.” “Look, it’s not a question anymore whether or not there was illegal spying,” he added. “This idea that there was not FISA abuse and it was a bunch of nonsense — look, someone is going to prison over that. It’s just a question now of how wide and how deep it was, and I know John Durham has been investigating that, and I’m confident, and I’ve said that based on what I’ve seen I think there should be additional indictments, I’m not backing off of that, but he’s the prosecutor I’d like to hear from him in an interim report, and I think the American people would agree with me.”

Read more …

I try to never link to paywalled articles. But this is just too crazy. The inevitable outcome will be that those who need their water the most won’t be able to afford it.

Water Futures to Start Trading Amid Growing Fears of Scarcity (BBG)

Water is joining gold, oil and other commodities traded on Wall Street, highlighting worries that the life-sustaining natural resource may become scarce across more of the world. Farmers, hedge funds and municipalities alike will be able to hedge against — or bet on — potential water scarcity starting this week, when CME Group Inc. launches contracts linked to the $1.1 billion California spot water market. According to Chicago-based CME, the futures will help water users manage risk and better align supply and demand. The contracts, a first of their kind in the U.S., were announced in September as heat and wildfires ravaged the U.S. West Coast. They are meant to serve both as a hedge for California’s biggest water consumers against skyrocketing prices and a scarcity gauge for investors worldwide.

“Climate change, droughts, population growth, and pollution are likely to make water scarcity issues and pricing a hot topic for years to come,” said RBC Capital Markets managing director and analyst Deane Dray. “We are definitely going to watch how this new water futures contract develops.” Two billion people now live in nations plagued by water problems, and almost two-thirds of the world could face water shortages in just four years, Tim McCourt, global head of equity index and alternative investment products at CME, said in an interview. “The idea of managing risks associated to water is certainly increased in importance.” The futures will be financially settled, as opposed to requiring the actual physical delivery of water, and are based on the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index started two years ago.

The index sets a weekly benchmark spot price of water rights in California, underpinned by the volume-weighted average of the transaction prices in the state’s five largest and most actively traded water markets. Contracts will include quarterly ones through 2022, with each representing 10 acre-feet of water, equal to roughly 3.26 million gallons. Currently, if a farmer wants to know what water will cost in California six months from now, it’s kind of a “best guess,” Patrick Wolf, senior manager and head of product development at Nasdaq, said in an interview. The futures will allow market participants to see “what is everybody’s best guess,” he said.

Read more …

“Californian ideology”

No Escape From Our Techno-Feudal World (Escobar)

The political economy of the Digital Age remains virtually terra incognita. In Techno-Feudalism , published three months ago in France (no English translation yet), Cedric Durand, an economist at the Sorbonne, provides a crucial, global public service as he sifts through the new Matrix that controls all our lives. Durand places the Digital Age in the larger context of the historical evolution of capitalism to show how the Washington consensus ended up metastasized into the Silicon Valley consensus. In a delightful twist, he brands the new grove as the “Californian ideology”. We’re far away from Jefferson Airplane and the Beach Boys; it’s more like Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” on steroids, complete with IMF-style “structural reforms” emphasizing “flexibilization” of work and outright marketization/financialization of everyday life.

The Digital Age was crucially associated with right-wing ideology from the very start. The incubation was provided by the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF), active from 1993 to 2010 and conveniently funded, among others, by Microsoft, At&T, Disney, Sony, Oracle, Google, and Yahoo. In 1994, PFF held a ground-breaking conference in Atlanta that eventually led to a seminal Magna Carta: literally, Cyberspace and the American Dream: a Magna Carta for the Knowledge Era, published in 1996, during the first Clinton term. Not by accident the magazine Wired was founded, just like PFF, in 1993, instantly becoming the house organ of the “Californian ideology”. Among the authors of the Magna Carta we find futurist Alvin “Future Shock” Toffler and Reagan’s former scientific counselor George Keyworth.

Before anyone else, they were already conceptualizing how “cyberspace is a bioelectronic environment which is literally universal”. Their Magna Carta was the privileged road map to explore the new frontier. Also not by accident the intellectual guru of the new frontier was Ayn Rand and her quite primitive dichotomy between “pioneers” and the mob. Rand declared that egotism is good, altruism is evil, and empathy is irrational. When it comes to the new property rights of the new Eldorado, all power should be exercised by the Silicon Valley “pioneers”, a Narcissus bunch in love with their mirror image as superior Randian heroes. In the name of innovation they should be allowed to destroy any established rules, in a Schumpeterian “creative destruction” rampage. That has led to our current environment, where Google, Facebook, Uber, and co. can overstep any legal framework, imposing their innovations like a fait accompli.

Read more …

Problem is, it appears to work.

Election Day Information Blackout: US Media Is No Friend of the People (SCF)

While half of the United States is mesmerized by witness testimony describing the ‘irregularities’ that purportedly occurred in the 2020 presidential contest between the incumbent Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the other half has been left deliberately in the dark by an activist media. It has become almost a cliché to say that the United States is now fiercely divided into parallel universes, alternative realities, otherwise known as the Republican and Democratic camps. One of the primary reasons for this great divide, aside from the obvious ideological differences, is that just one side, that is, the left, predominantly controls the flow of news and social media content. Indeed, the ‘legacy media’ even feels itself bold enough to cast judgment on presidential messages via Twitter in real time.

If ever there was a recipe for disaster, as the most consequential election in recent memory remains up for grabs, this is it. On November 30, Bobby Piton, a mathematician and expert, testified at the Arizona voter fraud hearing where he provided compelling evidence that up to 300,000 “fake people” cast a vote in the contested election of Nov. 3. The data, if correct, was alarming in its implications since it meant the difference between Trump or Biden winning the fiercely contested swing state. Certainly the major media networks, in the interest of safeguarding the voting process and consequentially democracy itself, would be interested in providing its viewers with such news, right? Think again.

Not only was Piton’s riveting testimony sent to the memory hole by all of the ‘legacy’ media networks, but Twitter actually decided to block his account the very next day. Piton was treated as yet another ‘conspiracy theorist’ nutcase who will probably need to enter some sort of re-indoctrination internment camp before he can join polite society again. He certainly won’t be in need of company if the thought police get their way. Just days earlier, the social media platform also suspended the account of Pennsylvania state senator Doug Mastriano, who testified at that state’s election hearing. Twitter later said that Mastriano’s suspension was a “glitch,” which begs the question as to why these technological breakdowns almost always, without fail, target Republicans.

Read more …

“..Come on, this is Hollywood where creative showmen can dazzle our minds with plots so twisted that when you leave the theater you keep wondering what it was all about..”

The Elite Strategy To Divide and Conquer (Curtin)

The Institute for Policy Studies has just released a new analysis showing that since the start of the Covid-19 “pandemic” in mid-March and the subsequent transfer upwards of $5 trillion to the wealthy and largest corporations through the Cares Act, approved 96-0 in the US Senate, 650 US billionaires have gained over a trillion dollars in eight months as the American people have suffered an economic catastrophe. This shift upward of massive wealth under Trump is similar to Obama’s massive 2009 bailout of the banks on the backs of American workers. Both were justified through feats of legerdemain by both political parties, accomplices in the fleecing of regular people, many of whom continue to support the politicians that screw them while telling them they care.

If the Democrats and the Republicans are at war as is often claimed, it is only over who gets the larger part of the spoils. Trump and Biden work for the same bosses, those I call the Umbrella People (those who own and run the country through their intelligence/military/media operatives), who produce and direct the movie that keeps so many Americans on the edge of their seats in the hope that their chosen good guy wins in the end. I am well aware that most people disagree with my analysis. It does seem as if I am wrong and that because the Democrats and their accomplices have spent years attempting to oust Trump through Russia-gate, impeachment, etc. that what seems true is true and Trump is simply a crazy aberration who somehow slipped through the net of establishment control to rule for four years.

To those 146+ million people who voted for Biden and Trump this seems self-evident. But if that is so, why, despite their superficial differences – and Obama’s, Hillary Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s for that matter – have the super-rich gotten richer and richer over the decades and the war on terror continued as the military budget has increased each year and the armament industries and the Wall Street crooks continued to rake in the money at the expense of everyone else? These are a few facts that can’t be disputed. There are many more. So what’s changed under Trump? We are talking about nuances, small changes. A clown with a big mouth versus traditional, “dignified” con men.

If you were writing this script as part of long-term planning and average people were getting disgusted from decades of being screwed and were sick of politicians and their lying ways, wouldn’t you stop the reruns and create a new show? Come on, this is Hollywood where creative showmen can dazzle our minds with plots so twisted that when you leave the theater you keep wondering what it was all about and arguing with your friends about the ending. So create a throwback film where the good guy versus the bad guy was seemingly very clear, and while the system ground on, people would be at each other’s throats over the obvious differences, even while they were fabricated.

Read more …

More Brexit fallout.

Toyota Will Not Invest In Electric Cars In UK Until At Least 2034 (G.)

Toyota will not invest in building battery electric cars in Britain until at least the mid-2030s, dealing a blow to hopes that UK car factories will take a leading role in the move away from fossil fuels. Johan van Zyl, the chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe, said that hybrid cars containing both internal combustion engines and battery-powered motors would be the only option for the next round of investment at the company’s plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire. Production of the Corolla at Burnaston is due to end in 2027, and Toyota has yet to decide to invest in production after that point. That means the first zero-emissions Toyota cars would not be built in the UK until 2034 at the earliest, based on the manufacturer’s usual seven-year product cycles.

At the same time, Toyota is also preparing to launch multiple zero-emission battery electric vehicles to cater for countries with the strictest rules. This includes the UK, where all hybrids will be banned by 2035. Continued production of hybrids with internal combustion engines at Burnaston would be a boon for employment at Toyota’s other UK factory, an engine plant at Deeside. However, in the longer term the future of both plants, and others in the UK such as BMW’s Hams Hall engine plant, could be called into question if they are not favoured for investment in zero-emissions technology. The factory at Burnaston started production of the Corolla hatchback in January 2019, after a £240m investment that was decided in 2017.

At the time, the investment was hailed as a vote of confidence, but future spending will be dependent on Toyota’s assessment of post-Brexit trading conditions. “By 2027, when this Corolla’s life cycle comes to an end, I think it will be not possible to produce a zero-emissions vehicle there,” Van Zyl said. “Therefore it will have to be a hybrid technology vehicle.” Van Zyl also warned that a no-deal Brexit would be harmful for the UK and the EU, with only weeks to go until cross-Channel trade moves to new regulations, which are still under negotiation. Brexit could add to the challenges facing the plant if no deal is agreed and 10% tariffs are imposed on 1 January. Some 90% of Burnaston’s products are exported, meaning they would be hit hard by such tariffs.

Read more …

“..civilization is effectively a heat engine whose power is expressed in the form of economic growth..”

Finding the Truth behind the American Hologram (CoIC)

“Tim Garrett, physicist/professor of atmospheric sciences who hypothesised that civilization is effectively a heat engine whose power is expressed in the form of economic growth, admits that we will never decarbonize.”

It’s rather jarring to see an expert like Tim Garrett, whose work I have followed for many years, come out and say so bluntly that we will not do the steps needed to save ourselves. And the reason is very simple… People will raise hell if their right to pollute and consume is severely curtailed. We see this today with people’s refusal to simply wear a damn mask and do what’s for the greater good in a global pandemic. Now can you imagine the outrage when they are told they have to drastically reduce their living standards to prevent catastrophic climate change, a threat we cannot see but which will nevertheless destroy us in the long run? The reality that humans are causing the climate to warm, with catastrophic consequences, demands radical government intervention in the market as well as collective action on an unprecedented scale.

This has been known for decades and those catastrophic consequences are now coming to fruition, yet we remain a carbon-based, growth-oriented civilization. The later the “peak” the harder the reductions, bearing in mind that it is the area under the lines (cumulative emissions) which ensures a 2°C outcome. The 2020 peak (above) indicates the “unprecedented” 10% reductions trajectory giving only a 50/50 chance of staying under 2°C. Not only do we need to halt future CO2 emissions, but we need to magically extract CO2 already in the atmosphere with technology that does not exist.

Quoting Prof Anderson from last month: “…in 2020 such technologies remain highly speculative, with a few very small laboratory/pilot schemes now operating, with other proposed technologies still in the imagination of academics and tech-entrepreneurs. This faith in utopian technology reflects a deep and systemic bias that has hugely undermined the real scale of the mitigation challenge and misinformed policy makers for many years. Our fate is sealed.

Read more …

“..Prices of summer vegetables, stone fruit, apples, pears, and table grapes are forecast to rise by between 15% and 25%.”

China Boycott To Hit Australian Wine Hard As Fruit, Vegetable Prices Rise (G.)

Australia may be able to divert a “limited amount” of wine to its allies in the UK and the US, but China’s tariffs will probably reduce the value of exports. That is the conclusion of the Department of Agriculture’s Abares commodities report, released on Monday, which lists trade tensions as a dark spot in an otherwise recovering industry. The report also warns that fruit and vegetable prices are expected to rise in Australia due to Covid-19 travel restrictions limiting labour available for harvesting. Prices of summer vegetables, stone fruit, apples, pears, and table grapes are forecast to rise by between 15% and 25%. By some estimates commodity markets exposed to China trade tensions are worth $19bn, with services worth a further $28bn of exports.

The Abares report argues that the causes of trade tensions with China “appear to lie mostly outside commodity markets” although not all rigorous applications of trade law, biosecurity protocols and technical trade rules can be interpreted as an escalation. It notes that growth in exports to China follows its accession to the World Trade Organization and Australia’s free trade deal, but defends Australia’s increasing reliance on China, by arguing the phenomenon is “not unique to Australia” and China is expanding trade with “many other countries”. The report finds that concentration of Australia’s export markets varies, and China’s share ranges from 10% of wheat exports to 79% of wool exports.

Australia’s markets for fibre are “more concentrated in China than other exports” but sectors with recently applied tariffs, including wine and barley, are “much less concentrated”. Wine is predicted to be the biggest loser, with a 28% price fall estimated for wine grapes. The report blames “measures implemented to combat Covid-19” for reduced demand for red wine imports in China, as well as anti-dumping security deposits imposed in late November.

Read more …

The arms industry protests.

Greece Wants EU Arms Embargo On Turkey (K.)

Greece will insist in this week’s European Council on a European Union embargo on selling arms to Turkey. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is also expected to tell his counterparts that the arms they sell to Turkey could be used against EU member-states. Athens’ main concern is Germany’s T-214 submarines. Germany is expected to deliver components of six submarines to Turkey, which will finish building them locally. Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias have repeatedly discussed the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Some countries, notably Germany and Spain, appear unwilling to implement an embargo because of the economic losses they would sustain.

Greece considers these misgivings unfounded, saying such cancellations have happened in the past. A notable precedent is the cancellation of the sale of two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships (helicopter carriers) to Russia after the latter invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014. Russia had ordered the ships in 2010 and France cancelled the order in 2015, selling the two ships instead to Egypt for 1.2 billion euros. The above precedent shows that Germany is capable of selling the T-214 submarines under construction to a third country and avoid financial loss. Germany had also cancelled the sale of a weapons system to Russia – in its case, combat simulators – after the Crimea invasion.

Spain has also provided components for a vessel, a helicopter carrier, currently being built in Istanbul. Spain is one of the countries that uses its economic exposure in Turkey to argue against an arms embargo. The Netherlands, however, with a far longer presence in Turkey and with far greater investments (over $30 billion) – through the presence of multinational firms such as ING Bank, Philips, Shell and Unilever – is one of the major proponents of the EU putting greater pressure upon Turkey to force it to stop its provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean. Not to mention the US Congress’ decision to push for the imposition of sanctions against Turkey over its purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile air defense system.

Read more …

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Oct 162020
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1896

 

Hunter Biden Tried To Cash In Big On Behalf Of Family With Chinese Firm (NYP)
House GOP Asks If FBI Had Hunter Biden Laptop During Trump Impeachment (Fox)
Obama Conference Call Leaked To Burisma: Biden Emails (NYP)
Biden Campaign: VP May Have Had ‘Informal’ Meeting With Burisma Exec (DW)
Twitter, Facebook Protecting Biden After Execs Join Transition Team (ZH)
POTUS Punk vs. Dem Dementia (Escobar)
Facebook, Twitter Cross Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor (IC)
Weissmann Made Rosenstein Take Ownership of Michael Flynn Targeting (sundance)
Antiviral Drug Remdesivir Proves Ineffective In Treating COVID19 – WHO (F.)
WHO Europe Director Says Governments Should Stop Enforcing Lockdowns (PJW)

 

 

We’re in a communication vacuum. or maybe that should read: two separate vacuums. Even townhalls are not townhalls anymore. Everyone’s a liar, and everyone’s a winner.

 

 

 

 

$10 million a year. And then some.

Hunter Biden Tried To Cash In Big On Behalf Of Family With Chinese Firm (NYP)

Hunter Biden pursued lucrative deals involving China’s largest private energy company — including one that he said would be “interesting for me and my family,” emails obtained by The Post show. One email sent to Biden on May 13, 2017, with the subject line “Expectations,” included details of “remuneration packages” for six people involved in an unspecified business venture. Biden was identified as “Chair / Vice Chair depending on agreement with CEFC,” an apparent reference to the former Shanghai-based conglomerate CEFC China Energy Co. His pay was pegged at “850” and the email also noted that “Hunter has some office expectations he will elaborate.”


In addition, the email outlined a “provisional agreement” under which 80 percent of the “equity,” or shares in the new company, would be split equally among four people whose initials correspond to the sender and three recipients, with “H” apparently referring to Biden. The deal also listed “10 Jim” and “10 held by H for the big guy?” Neither Jim nor the “big guy” was identified further. The email’s author, James Gilliar of the international consulting firm J2cR, also noted, “I am happy to raise any detail with Zang if there is [sic] shortfalls ?” “Zang” is an apparent reference to Zang Jian Jun, the former executive director of CEFC China. The email is contained in a trove of data that the owner of a computer repair shop in Delaware said was recovered from a MacBook Pro laptop that was dropped off in April 2019 and never retrieved.

Tucker Burisma

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They did. And nothing happened.

House GOP Asks If FBI Had Hunter Biden Laptop During Trump Impeachment (Fox)

House Republicans are calling on the FBI to reveal whether it was in possession of a laptop that reportedly contained emails by Hunter Biden during the impeachment of President Trump — and claiming the agency committed a “gross error in judgement” if it did not inform the White House. “If the FBI was, in fact, in possession of this evidence and failed to alert the White House to its existence that would have given even more weight to the president’s legal defense, this was a gross error in judgement and a severe violation of trust,” the letter says. The letter was signed by 19 House Republicans, including Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz.; and Jody Hice, R-Ga.

The letter was written after the New York Post published emails suggesting that Hunter Biden introduced his father to a top executive at Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings in 2015 — one year before his father allegedly pressured the country’s government to fire a prosecutor who had launched an investigation into the company. The Post reported that the FBI was in possession of the laptop on which the emails were found in December 2019 — right in the middle of the impeachment of President Trump over remarks he made to the Ukrainian president about Biden’s conduct in the country.

[..] “A large portion of the president’s legal defense case revolved around strong evidence that former Vice President Biden’s son Hunter was peddling his influence to his father to land lucrative jobs overseas that he might not have otherwise been qualified for,” the letter says. The lawmakers ask whether the FBI was in possession of the laptop and drive as documented in the Post, whether it took steps to authenticate the drive and the data, and if anyone at the FBI briefed officials at the Department of Justice or White House after December.

Tucker Enjeti
https://twitter.com/i/status/1316547616239353856

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A Burisma PR firm was listening in on the call. WTF?

Obama Conference Call Leaked To Burisma: Biden Emails (NYP)

The Obama administration let a Democratic p.r. company that worked for Ukrainian energy firm Burisma take part in a conference call about an upcoming visit to Ukraine by then-Vice President Joe Biden, emails obtained by The Post show. An associate at Blue Star Strategies then emailed a memo with minutes of the conference call hosted by the White House to a top Burisma executive, Vadym Pozharskyi, as well as to Joe Biden’s son Hunter and Hunter’s business partner, Devon Archer, both of whom sat on Burisma’s board. The trip, in December 2015, turned out to be the one during which Biden later bragged about forcing Ukrainian officials to fire a state prosecutor who was investigating Burisma by threatening to withhold a $1 billion US loan guarantee.


The memo, sent shortly after the Dec. 2, 2015, call, also “outlined the trip’s agenda and addressed several questions regarding US policy toward Ukraine.” Blue Star has said it began working for Burisma and contacting Ukrainian officials on its behalf in November 2015, and an email shows that on Nov. 18, 2015, Pozharskyi sent the Blue Star contract to Hunter Biden, Archer and Eric Schwerin, president of the Rosemont Seneca Partners investment firm. Hunter Biden and Archer were among RSP’s founders, along with former Secretary of State John Kerry’s stepson, Christopher Heinz, Reuters has reported. “Could you kindly have BS countersign it and forward back to me?” Pozharskyi wrote. “I am kindly asking you to schedule either a conf call or advise us as to the foreseen action plan for November-December 2015, and if anything has been already done by BS, could kindly you ask them to share with us this information?”

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Didn’t you just deny this yesterday?

Biden Campaign: VP May Have Had ‘Informal’ Meeting With Burisma Exec (DW)

The campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden admitted that it’s possible that Biden may have met with an executive for Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, during his time as vice president when his son was a board member of the company. The Biden campaign released a statement condemning reporting from the New York Post that revealed an email alleging that Biden’s son Hunter brokered a meeting between his father and Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to Burisma’s board. The campaign ruled out any official meetings between Pozharskyi and the former vice president but could not say that the two never met.


“We have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told Politico. “Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was decried as ‘not legitimate’ and political by a GOP colleague have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official U.S. policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing. Trump administration officials have attested to these facts under oath.” Despite the strong condemnation, Bates could not say for certain that Vice President Biden and Pozharskyi did not meet in an informal setting, however.

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They always had the power. And now they’re using it. But when Twitter suspended the Trump campaign and blocked the House Judiciary, that may have been a step too far.

Twitter, Facebook Protecting Biden After Execs Join Transition Team (ZH)

As if anyone needed more evidence of Silicon Valley’s overt political bias – just weeks before Twitter and Facebook nuked Biden corruption revelations from their platforms with the intensity of a thousand suns, executives from both companies joined the Biden transition team. [..] Perhaps the selective enforcement of content which is politically harmful to Democrats can be explained by recent hires by the Biden transition team. According to Breitbart, Twitter Public Policy Director Carlos Monje left the social media giant to join Biden’s transition team in September. He will reportedly serve as co-chair of Biden’s infrastructure policy committee, and helped organize a fundraiser for the former VP this week, according to an invitation from Politico.

Monje has worked in the world of presidential transition politics in the past, previously serving as the director of agency review on the team that prepared for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s administration, which failed to take flight. Monje also worked on the Obama administration team’s 2008 national security working group according to his LinkedIn profile. Monje also acted as deputy policy director during Obama’s first run for office and subsequently served as a senior policy advisor and special assistant to the president on the Domestic Policy Council. Monje’s final years in the administration were spent in the Transporation Department before he departed for Twitter. -Breitbart

Meanwhile in October, Biden’s transition team hired Facebook executive Jessica Hertz to its general counsel to deal with ‘ethics’ issues. Notably, Facebook was the first platform to ban the Post article – with former Democrat staffer and Facebook communications team member Andy Stone tweeting that the company would be ‘reducing its distribution.’

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“Evidence shows that on The Walking Dead’s rallies, there are more people from the Biden bus and reporters than flesh-and-blood Dem voters. ”

POTUS Punk vs. Dem Dementia (Escobar)

All manner of polls are circulating like whirling dervishes. Most highlight myriad Dem paths to victory and an inexorable Highway to Hell for Trump. A poll by The Economist gives Joe “Walking Dead” Biden a whopping 91% chance – remember Hillary in 2016? – of winning the Electoral College. A Dem-fueled consensus is emerging that Trump – relentlessly depicted as a deranged, lunatic proto-fascist who’s bad for business worldwide – will dispute results in any Republican-led state which he may narrowly lose, as in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Yet on the campaign trail, it’s a completely different story. Evidence shows that on The Walking Dead’s rallies, there are more people from the Biden bus and reporters than flesh-and-blood Dem voters.

The Biden-Harris campaign, demonstrating its matchless P.R. skills, spins these rallies as campaign secrets. Team Trump’s long-shot strategy seems to have been unveiled by the President himself: “We are going to be counting ballots for the next two years (…) We have the advantage if we go back to Congress. I think it’s 26 to 22 or something because it’s counted one vote per state.” That was a reference to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution: if state electors can’t agree on a president, the decision goes to the House. And then each of the 50 states gets one vote. So picture small GOP-controlled states such as Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming (each with one Republican in the House) having the same weight as California (52 members in the House, 45 of them Democrats.)

Advantage Trump: as it stands, it’s indeed 26 to 22, with two – Pennsylvania and Michigan – basically tied. Internal GOP polls show that while the Biden-Harris campaign is not knocking on any doors, Trump volunteers have actually swarmed no less than 20 million homes in swing states. Combine it with a new Gallup Poll showing that 56% of Americans state they are better off now under Trump than four years ago under Obama/Biden. Call it the return of “It’s the economy, stupid.” The Trafalgar Group – which correctly called the 2106 election – bets that Trump narrowly wins the Electoral College with 275 votes.

JPMorgan’s top quant Marko Kolanovic has exhaustively mapped changes in voter registration to dismiss virtually every poll showing a Dem sweep. This implies that Trump may well end up winning the Holy Trinity: Pennsylvania (20 votes), Florida (29 votes) and North Carolina (15 votes). And to top it off, something more exotic than a black hole eating a star has happened in this October Surprise-laden week: CNN decided to practice real journalism and eviscerated Nancy Pelosi on camera. That may be quite a bad omen for President-in-Waiting Kamala Harris, who very few remember was forged as the heir to the Obama-Pelosi axis in a secret meeting in the Hamptons way back in the summer of 2017.

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@Jack is expected on Capitol Hill next week.

Facebook, Twitter Cross Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor (IC)

In sum, the two Silicon Valley giants, with little explanation, united to prevent the sharing and dissemination of this article. As Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce put it, “Facebook limiting distribution is a bit like if a company that owned newspaper delivery trucks decided not to drive because it didn’t like a story. Does a truck company edit the newspaper? It does now, apparently.” That the first amendment right of free speech is inapplicable to these questions goes without saying. That constitutional guarantee restricts the actions of governments, not private corporations such as Facebook and Twitter. But glibly pointing this out does not come close to resolving this controversy. That actions by gigantic corporations are constitutional does not mean that they are benign.

State censorship is not the only kind of censorship. Private-sector repression of speech and thought, particularly in the internet era, can be as dangerous and consequential. Imagine, for instance, if these two Silicon Valley giants united with Google to declare: henceforth we will ban all content that is critical of President Trump and/or the Republican Party, but will actively promote criticisms of Joe Biden and the Democrats. Would anyone encounter difficultly understanding why such a decree would constitute dangerous corporate censorship? Would Democrats respond to such a policy by simply shrugging it off on the radical libertarian ground that private corporations have the right to do whatever they want? To ask that question is to answer it.

To begin with, Twitter and particularly Facebook are no ordinary companies. Facebook, as the owner not just of its massive social media platform but also other key communication services it has gobbled up such as Instagram and WhatsApp, is one of the most powerful companies ever to exist, if not the most powerful. In June, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law launched an investigation into the consolidated power of Facebook and three other companies — Google, Amazon and Apple — and just last week issued a sweeping report which, as Ars Technica explained, found: “Facebook outright “has monopoly power in the market for social networking,” and that power is “firmly entrenched and unlikely to be eroded by competitive pressure” from anyone at all due to “high entry barriers—including strong network effects, high switching costs, and Facebook’s significant data advantage—that discourage direct competition by other firms to offer new products and services.”

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Bit too many screenshots would be needed. See the original.

Weissmann Made Rosenstein Take Ownership of Michael Flynn Targeting (sundance)

On June 3, 2020, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss his role in how Main Justice was operating while Andrew Weissmann’s special counsel was in charge. What he said in that hearing never quite made sense until yesterday. Those who closely followed the arc of the Weissmann/Mueller investigation; and those who joined us in following that investigation; already knew the SCO was in complete control from May 2017 to April 2019. Everything taking place inside the DOJ in the two years of the Mueller/Weissmann probe was completely and unequivocally controlled by the Weissmann team. Few journalists have ever grasped the ramifications of that control.


That control included every release and non-release of information during their two year tenure. However, Rosenstein’s tone when questioned about the scope memos he authorized during the special counsel time-frame was very odd in that June hearing. Rosenstein had a very guilty conscience and it was on full display as he attempted to justify his action. You see, there was always a missing scope memo from October 20, 2017, that no-one in the DOJ ever discussed. The nature of the scope memo was mentioned by Weissmann and Mueller in part of their Russia report; but until yesterday it was hidden. Here is the only mention of the October 20, 2017, scope memo prior to yesterday:

As you can see above the special counsel’s office used that October 20th scope memo to expand their investigative authorities. Specifically the second redacted name is very important because this specific memo authorized Andrew Weissmann to target Michael Flynn Jr as pressure to coerce a guilty plea from Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn a month later. During his apologetic senate testimony Rosenstein told congress he never questioned the authority of the special counsel team and never once questioned their “investigative process“, those are his words. Additionally, Rosenstein testified he signed all the scope memos because he felt it was his “responsibility” to facilitate the SCO needs regardless of what they requested; and every request was considered an “investigative process” by him.


Yesterday the mysteriously avoided October 20, 2017, scope memo was finally released to Catherine Herridge from the Senate Homeland Security Committee (Chairman Ron Johnson). Within the scope memo we can now see exactly what reference point Rosenstein was carrying during his June testimony. The scope memo was written by the special counsel’s office and the last page shows the motive and intent of Weissmann’s crew. Notice the tone and direction of the memo as that aspect also conveys a message; and do not overlook the specific phrase “jointly undertaken activity.” That approach was used by the SCO to target Flynn Jr.:

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“The gains Gilead experienced in the stock market during the pandemic have all but dissipated.”

Antiviral Drug Remdesivir Proves Ineffective In Treating COVID19 – WHO (F.)

The antiviral drug remdesivir had little or no effect in treating patients hospitalized with Covid-19, according to a study that has not yet been peer reviewed, but was coordinated by the World Health Organization and released on Thursday, casting doubt on one of the few promising treatments for the coronavirus. Deeming it “the world’s largest randomized control trial on Covid-19 therapeutics,” the six-month long study of four drugs—remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon—proved “unpromising.” “The main outcomes of mortality, initiation of ventilation and hospitalization duration were not clearly reduced by any study drug,” the study reads. Over 11,000 adults across 30 countries and 405 hospitals were studied to come to these results.


Regimens involving the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine have already been proven ineffective, but remdesivir appeared to be one of the few therapies to prove effective in combating Covid-19 symptoms. The WHO’s results come just a week after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found remdesivir shortened the time of recovery for adults hospitalized with Covid-19. President Trump, who contracted Covid-19 and spent time at Walter Reed hospital upon suffering from symptoms, was administered remdesivir as part of his treatment. Remdesivir is the only specific drug with an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. [..] The gains Gilead experienced in the stock market during the pandemic have all but dissipated. Its price rose as much as 29% since the start of the year before falling 3% below its position in January.

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Contradictory messages are lethal for an organization like the WHO.

WHO Europe Director Says Governments Should Stop Enforcing Lockdowns (PJW)

The World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge says governments should stop enforcing lockdowns, unless as a “last resort,” because the impact on other areas of health and mental well-being is more damaging. In an interview with Euro News, Kluge cautioned against the imposition of more lockdowns unless they are “absolutely necessary.” “He says damage to other health areas, mental health, domestic violence, schools and cancer treatment is too great,” tweeted reporter Darren McCaffrey. Kluge’s warning matches that of the WHO’s special envoy on COVID-19, Dr David Nabarro, who recently told the Spectator in an interview that world leaders should stop imposing lockdowns as a reflex reaction because they are making “poor people an awful lot poorer.”

It also resonates with numerous other experts who have desperately tried to warn governments that lockdowns will end up killing more people than the virus itself, but have been largely ignored. Germany’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Muller, recently warned that COVID-19 lockdowns will result in “one of the biggest” hunger and poverty crises in history. “We expect an additional 400,000 deaths from malaria and HIV this year on the African continent alone,” Muller said, adding that “half a million more will die from tuberculosis.” Muller’s comments arrived months after a leaked study from inside the German Ministry of the Interior revealed that the impact of the country’s lockdown could end up killing more people than the coronavirus due to victims of other serious illnesses not receiving treatment.

Another study found that lockdowns will conservatively “destroy at least seven times more years of human life” than they save. Professor Richard Sullivan also warned that there will be more excess cancer deaths in the UK than total coronavirus deaths due to people’s access to screenings and treatment being restricted as a result of the lockdown. His comments were echoed by Peter Nilsson, a Swedish professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at Lund University, who said, “It’s so important to understand that the deaths of COVID-19 will be far less than the deaths caused by societal lockdown when the economy is ruined.” According to Professor Karol Sikora, an NHS consultant oncologist, there could be 50,000 excess deaths from cancer as a result of routine screenings being suspended during the lockdown in the UK.

Read more …

 

 

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A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
– Saint-Exupéry

 

 

Laura Wolk. Powerful.

 

 

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Oct 122020
 


Fred Stein Nadinola 1944

 

WHO Backflips On Virus Stance By Condemning Lockdowns (News.com.au)
WHO Warns Against COVID19 Lockdowns Due To Economic Damage (NYP)
What Will It Take for Masks and Face Shields to End? (Mercola)
Virus That Causes COVID19 Can Survive Up To 28 Days On Surfaces (AAP)
Focused Protection, Herd Immunity, and Other Deadly Delusions (Gonsalves)
Fauci Says Trump Ad Uses His Words Out Of Context; Campaign Says Not (JTN)
Poll Gives Trump 3 Point Edge Over Biden In Florida (Fox35)
Gov. Whitmer: Michigan Votes Will Not ‘Have Artificial Deadlines’ (Hill)
SpaceX Promises Pentagon One-Hour Weapon Delivery Around The Globe (Fut.)
China’s Steel Problem: Recovery Risks Making Foes Of Trading Partners (SCMP)
New York Times Guild Once Again Demands Censorship Of Colleagues (Greenwald)
If My Family Can, So Can Yours (Michael Flynn, Jr.)
7 Predictions For How 2020 Comes To An End (Bobinski)

 

 

This tweet says it better than I can. And it doesn’t even yet mention the WHO. They and Fauci might as well leave.

RIP in 2020 to the credibility of:

 

 

Trump Bartiromo

 

 

We can safely close down this operation now. Contradicting yourselves in such major matters shreds your credibility and you’ll never get it back. Fauci should know all about that.

WHO Backflips On Virus Stance By Condemning Lockdowns (News.com.au)

The World Health Organisation has backflipped on its original COVID-19 stance after calling for world leaders to stop locking down their countries and economies. Dr. David Nabarro from the WHO appealed to world leaders yesterday, telling them to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the coronavirus. He also claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved. “Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said. “We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr Nabarro told The Spectator.

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.” Dr Nabarro’s main criticism of lockdowns involved the global impact, explaining how poorer economies that had been indirectly affected. “Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays,” he said. “Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. … Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”

Melbourne’s lockdown has been hailed as one of the strictest and longest in the world. In Spain’s lockdown in March, people weren’t allowed to leave the house unless it was to walk their pet. In China, authorities welded doors shut to stop people from leaving their homes. The WHO thinks these steps were largely unnecessary. Instead, Dr Nabarro is advocating for a new approach to containing the virus. “And so, we really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method. Develop better systems for doing it. Work together and learn from each other.”

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It feels like ages ago that I wroteLockdown 2.0 , but it’s only been 5 weeks.

WHO Warns Against COVID19 Lockdowns Due To Economic Damage (NYP)

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.” Nabarro said that there’s significant harm caused by tight restrictions, particularly on the global economy. “Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said. He added that lockdowns have severely impacted countries that rely on tourism. “Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays,” Nabarro told the outlet.


“Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.” The UN agency previously warned countries against lifting lockdowns too soon during the first wave of the virus. “The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses, only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence,” said Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. But Tedros had urged countries to bolster other measures, including widespread testing and contact tracing, so they could safely reopen and avoid future lockdowns. “We need to reach a sustainable situation where we have adequate control of this virus without shutting down our lives entirely, or lurching from lockdown to lockdown — which has a hugely detrimental impact on societies,” he said.

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Bit of a long quote. Joseph Mercola at LewRockwell.com first eviscerates all the vaccine efforts, then gives us a lesson in facemasks.

Note: even N95 masks don’t stop aerosols, but they do stop droplets, so they do have a function. Perfectly fitting them, as required in medical circles, is undoable, but we’re not looking for perfection.

What Will It Take for Masks and Face Shields to End? (Mercola)

According to rotavirus vaccine developer Dr. Paul Offit,1 people will need to continue wearing masks and social distancing for “the next couple of years” even after a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. “People now see vaccines as a magic dust that’s about to be sprinkled over this country and make this all go away. It doesn’t work that way,” Offit told MarketWatch, September 21, 2020. Offit, who sits on the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, said he’s wary of a COVID-19 vaccine that may be rushed to market under pressure from the government. The U.S. Health and Human Services’ Operation Warp Speed has pledged to deliver 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by 2021, if not sooner. However, developing a safe and effective vaccine normally takes years and begins with animal studies.

The COVID-19 vaccines are all being rushed straight into human clinical tests, forgoing lengthy animal trials altogether. Vaccine makers are also being shielded against liability if people are harmed by the experimental vaccines. Early warning signs that something might be amiss have already started emerging. As detailed in “Gates Tries to Justify Side Effects of Fast-Tracked Vaccine,” results6 from Moderna’s Phase 1 human trial revealed 100% of volunteers in the high-dose group suffered systemic side effects. Side effects included fatigue, chills, headache and myalgia (muscle pain); 21% suffered “one or more severe events.” A May 26, 2020, article in STAT news told the harrowing story of Ian Haydon, a healthy 29-year-old participant in Moderna’s vaccine trial who suffered severe side effects requiring hospitalization.

While Haydon recovered from the side effects, which included a raging fever, fainting, nausea, muscle pain and generally feeling “as sick as he’d ever felt,” just imagine what such side effects might do to an elderly person, an infant, young child or someone who is metabolically compromised or has an underlying condition such as a heart problem. For them, the reactions could be far worse and possibly fatal. Disturbingly, in July 2020, it was reported that Moderna’s 100-mcg dose vaccine — despite its 100% side effect ratio after the second dose — would proceed to Phase 3 trial assessment.

Like the Moderna vaccine, the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine also appears to come with a shockingly high rate of side effects. Results from one of its Phase 1/2 studies published August 15, 2020, revealed a clear majority of participants experienced side effects, including fatigue, headache, muscle ache, malaise, chills and feeling feverish. September 6, 2020, AstraZeneca paused its Phase 3 vaccine trial due to a “suspected serious and unexpected adverse reaction” in a British participant. The company did not divulge the nature of the adverse reaction.

 

 

[..] Ohio coronavirus rules issued by Governor Mike DeWine require people to wear masks at outdoor events when 6-foot social distancing is not possible. Not wearing a mask in Ohio is considered a misdemeanor. Penalties for failure to comply can include up to 30 days in jail and a $750 fine. While DeWine said his intent isn’t to arrest people for noncompliance, he failed to veto a bill that would have reduced fines and banned jail time for noncompliance. The fundamental problem with assaulting18 and arresting people for not complying with mask rules is that there’s no evidence to support the idea that masks prevent the spread of the virus. In fact, the science tells us masks cannot block viruses.

SARS-CoV-2 has a diameter between 0.06 and 0.14 microns. Medical N95 masks — which are considered the most effective — can filter particles as small as 0.3 microns. Surgical masks, homemade masks, T-shirts and bandanas are even more porous. At best, a mask may reduce the transmission of large respiratory droplets, but it does nothing to prevent the transmission of aerosolized particulates exhaled by asymptomatic or presymptomatic individuals with COVID-19. Health agencies’ own research show it’s a futile measure that only provides a false sense of security. For example, the WHO’s June 5, 2020, guidance memo on face mask use states “there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID- 19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.”

Similarly, a May 2020 policy review paper published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, concluded that “Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.” This is highly relevant, as the influenza virus is about twice the size of SARS-CoV-2. If masks cannot prevent transmission of influenza, they certainly cannot prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

Read more …

Better get some UV light in your home?!

Virus That Causes COVID19 Can Survive Up To 28 Days On Surfaces (AAP)

Australian scientists have found that the virus that causes Covid-19 can survive for up to 28 days on surfaces such as the glass on mobile phones, stainless steel, vinyl and paper banknotes. The national science agency, the CSIRO, said the research undertaken at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) in Geelong also found that Sars-CoV-2 survived longer at lower temperatures. It said in a statement the virus survived longer on paper banknotes than on plastic banknotes and lasted longer on smooth surfaces rather than porous surfaces such as cotton. However, the experiment was done in a dark area which negates the effects of UV light. Peter Collignon, a professor of infectious diseases at the Australian National University, said this is known to reduce the life of the virus on surfaces.

“It is a factor, and that’s why the outside is probably again safer than inside because UV light is there and the virus can be inactivated on playgrounds and things in the sunshine,” he said. There is also significant uncertainty about exactly how large surfaces play into the transmission of the virus. “[The study] shows you that virus can persist … but if you ask me in the total scheme of things how important I think hands are compared to being close to people who are sick and getting it, I would say 90% of the problem and the transmission is related to being close to people who cough over you or sneeze over you or send you droplets. Probably around 10% of transmission is likely to be just hands and surfaces,” Collignon said. “But I still think it’s a good idea to wash your hands before you touch your face”.

The research, published in the Virology Journal, also found the virus lasted 10 days longer than influenza on some surfaces. Dr Larry Marshall, the chief executive of the CSIRO, said establishing how long the virus survived on surfaces enabled scientists to more accurately predict and prevent its spread, and so protect the community from infection. The deputy director of ACDP, Dr Debbie Eagles, said the results reinforced the need for good practices such as regular hand washing and cleaning surfaces. “At 20C, which is about room temperature, we found that the virus was extremely robust, surviving for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as glass found on mobile phone screens.” Similar experiments for Influenza A found it survived on surfaces for 17 days. Further experiments were carried out at 30C and 40C, with survival times for the Sars-CoV-2 virus decreasing as the temperature increased.

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Not many options remain.

Focused Protection, Herd Immunity, and Other Deadly Delusions (Gonsalves)

The bulk of older Americans are integrated into our communities, living alone or with their spouses or their families. Even if we could make nursing homes into impenetrable fortresses impervious to viral entry, it’s not at all clear how we’d keep the millions of elderly “safe” as they live around, among, and with us. In fact, data from CDC suggests that we haven’t done a good job at all on this, and when virus cases surge in young people, the elderly are next in line for transmission. Another group of people to whom these three august academics give short shrift are the chronically ill in America. The CDC estimates that nearly half of all Americans (47.5 percent) have underlying conditions that predispose them to severe Covid-19 outcomes.

If it is a challenge to think of sequestering the elderly, what do we do with almost half of our fellow Americans who may be at similar enhanced risk of complications and death from Covid-19? Then there are the young. Kulldorff, Bhattacharya, and Gupta would have you believe that young people have little to fear from Covid-19, urging them to resume their normal lives. Yet if you look at hospitalizations for young adults with Covid-19 in a national study, 21 percent required intensive care, 10 percent required mechanical ventilation, and 2.7 percent died. Many of these young people had chronic conditions, which enhanced their risk—and over half of the young people hospitalized in this cohort were Black or Latino.

The herd immunity strategy, whether you call it this or “focused protection” or “age-targeted,” has already been tried without success, notably in Kulldorff’s native country, Sweden, which with less strict measures in places—particularly among the young—ended up with more deaths than its neighbors and didn’t avoid the economic impact of the pandemic, either. Furthermore, Sweden’s robust welfare state and national health care system probably averted even more serious carnage from its approach. In the United States, with our safety net in tatters, and where we don’t have such protections in place, pursuing a herd immunity approach could spell disaster.

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It’s obvious that he finds this awkward, but he did say it. Fauci has contradicted himself a few times too many.

Fauci Says Trump Ad Uses His Words Out Of Context; Campaign Says Not (JTN)

National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci in a statement said that his remarks included in a Trump campaign ad were pulled from their context. “In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate,” he said in the statement after being asked if he had consented to be included in the political advertisement, according to CNN. “The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.”

In the ad, Fauci is shown saying these words: “I can’t imagine that…anybody could be doing more.” The outlet reported that Fauci’s comment was taken from a March Fox News interview. “I’m down at the White House virtually every day with the task force. I’m connected by phone throughout the day and into the night—when I say night I’m talking 12, one, two in the morning—I’m not the only one, there’s a whole group of us that are doing that,” Fauci said in an interview with conservative host Mark Levin that CBS News said is the source of the clip. “It’s every single day. So I can’t imagine that under any circumstances that anybody could be doing more.”


The Trump campaign is standing by its advertisement. “These are Dr. Fauci’s own words,” a spokesperson said in a statement, according to reports. “The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr. Fauci was praising the work of the Trump Administration. The words spoken are accurate, and directly from Dr. Fauci’s mouth. As Dr. Fauci recently testified in the Senate, President Trump took the virus seriously from the beginning, acted quickly, and saved lives.”

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“It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%.”

Poll Gives Trump 3 Point Edge Over Biden In Florida (Fox35)

President Donald Trump is leading former Vice President Joe Biden in Florida, according to a poll conducted this week by InsiderAdvantage. Pollster Matt Towery Sr. said the data shows Trump leading Biden by three points among likely voters in the Sunshine State; however, a significant number of those polled remain undecided at 10%. When asked, “If the election were held today, who would you vote for?” results were as follows: Donald Trump: 46%. Joe Biden: 43%. Jo Jorgenson: 1%. Undecided/No Opinion: 10%. Towery predicted Trump’s 2016 victory on FOX affiliates, just days prior to the election, signaling that many polls were failing to accurately reflect support for the Republican candidate. He also showed Barack Obama winning key battleground states in 2008.


“Once again, based on poor data and or weighting, many of the polls we are seeing simply are not picking up the actual level of support for President Trump,” said Towery, founder of InsiderAdvantage. “What stands out in this poll is that Trump is actually picking up 12% of the African American vote in the Sunshine State.” The survey of 400 likely Florida voters, conducted on October 6-7, involved live calls and interactive voice response calls to both landlines and cell phones. It is weighted for age, race, gender, and political affiliation. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%. Towery said the data also suggests Trump has the advantage in those age 45 and up with nearly 63% of the white vote in Florida but trails Biden 62%-25% among Hispanic voters. “These results are still within the margin of error, so Florida remains up for grabs. But to paint it blue or red on any projected electoral map at this point would be pure folly” said Towery.

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What on earth are Artificial Deadlines?

Gov. Whitmer: Michigan Votes Will Not ‘Have Artificial Deadlines’ (Hill)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said Sunday that the results of the state’s election will not be announced before “artificial deadlines” set by “people with political agendas.” The Michigan governor declined to tell CBS’s “Face The Nation” how long it will take for the state to determine the official results of this year’s election. “Michigan will be able to announce results, but we are not going to have artificial deadlines set by, you know, people with political agendas,” she said. “We’re gonna get this right.” “It will be soon after polls close,” she added. “I’m not gonna put a number on it, but we’re gonna get it right.” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) has said the battleground state that President Trump won in 2016 will not be able to report the election results on Nov. 3.


Election results are expected to be delayed this year as a record number of people complete mail-in ballots to avoid going to polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic. Whitmer also responded to a CBS poll that found half of Trump’s supporters think they should monitor voting places. “We are prepared to make sure this election goes smoothly,” she said. “We’re gonna keep people safe as they go to the polls, and we will not tolerate anyone who’s trying to interfere with someone’s ability to safely vote.” When asked about potential violence on Election Day, Whitmer said, “I’m not worried, but we are preparing to make sure we do everything we can to keep people safe.”

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Like Elon Musk? Here he is.

SpaceX Promises Pentagon One-Hour Weapon Delivery Around The Globe (Fut.)

SpaceX and the Pentagon just signed a contract to jointly develop a new rocket that can launch into space and deliver up to 80 tons of cargo and weaponry anywhere in the world — in just one hour. Tests on the rocket are expected to begin as early as next year, Business Insider reports. It’s expected to shuttle weapons around the world 15 times faster than existing aircraft, like the US C-17 Globemaster. “Think about moving the equivalent of a C-17 payload anywhere on the globe in less than an hour,” General Stephen Lyons, head of US Transportation Command said at a Wednesday conference. The new contract is further evidence that SpaceX is leaning hard into military partnerships.


Earlier this week, the private space company won a contract with the military’s Space Development Agency to manufacture four missile-tracking satellites. Prior to that, the Army approached SpaceX about turning its constellation of Starlink broadband satellites into a new military navigation network, and Space Force officials let slip earlier this year that they were already working closely with SpaceX after awarding the company a contract in August, BI reports. The new weapon delivery system resembles a militarized version of something that SpaceX CEO proposed back in 2017, when he talked about passenger space travel. Back then, Musk proposed launching passengers into space and then quickly landing them back down closer to their destination. The new plan is highly similar, just with weapons rather than people.

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China’s steel problem is gross overproduction.

China’s Steel Problem: Recovery Risks Making Foes Of Trading Partners (SCMP)

As the Covid-19 pandemic damages so many economies around the world, killing jobs and shoving millions of families back into poverty, an uncomfortable and politically challenging possibility is beginning to emerge: certain economies will suffer more sharply than others, and China seems set to recover more quickly and suffer less pain. Managing the political anger this will generate will be one of the biggest diplomatic challenges China will face in 2021. Given Beijing’s blunt-instrument reputation in global diplomacy, this does not augur well. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the steel sector. Rapid recovery in production is already under way inside China – contrasted with deep contractions elsewhere in the world – and is set to escalate the rancour that has raged across the global steel market for decades.

Controversy over China’s surplus capacity and the global impact of exporting its surpluses has fuelled concern in the sector since the mid-1990s. This has made steel one of the most militantly protectionist of all sectors and the subject of more widespread tariff warfare than almost any other sector. China’s steel conundrum – similar to the challenges it faces in coal, cars and a wide range of other industrial products – is by default a world problem, given its size. It leaves its leaders with an awkward dilemma. Even a small mismatch between domestic supply and demand can result in huge ripple effects on global markets – impacts too large for anyone except China to manage.

China’s commitment to industrialisation and lifting material living standards for its huge population demands massive production of steel, with a perfectly reasonable desire to make as much of the steel as possible inside China. Its sheer scale makes it by far the world’s largest producer, accounting for about 53 per cent of the world’s 1.87 million tonnes of crude steel production in 2019. Its nearest competitors are India, accounting for 6 per cent, and Japan and the United States at around 5 per cent. Its locally made steel is mostly consumed inside China. It imports only a small portion of its consumption needs – mainly high-quality steel for its fast-growing automotive industry – and its market is comparatively self-contained.

With annual production close to 1 billion tonnes, though, it is easy to see how large a global impact China’s steelmakers can have with even a modest overshoot in production. Global overcapacity is estimated at around 500 million tonnes.
The implications of overcapacity on this scale come into focus when you recall that total US production is less than 90 million tonnes and Germany around 40 million.

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“.. for all of its virtues, buzz, spinoffs and a Pulitzer Prize — the 1619 Project has failed.”

New York Times Guild Once Again Demands Censorship Of Colleagues (Greenwald)

The New York Times Guild, the union of employees of the Paper of Record, tweeted a condemnation on Sunday of one of their own colleagues, op-ed columnist Bret Stephens. Their denunciation was marred by humiliating typos and even more so by creepy and authoritarian censorship demands and petulant appeals to management for enforcement of company “rules” against other journalists. To say that this is bizarre behavior from a union of journalists, of all people, is to woefully understate the case. What angered the union today was an op-ed by Stephens on Friday which voiced numerous criticisms of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning “1619 Project,” published last year by the New York Times Magazine and spearheaded by reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones.

One of the Project’s principal arguments was expressed by a now-silently-deleted sentence that introduced it: “that the country’s true birth date” is not 1776, as has long been widely believed, but rather late 1619, when, the article claims, the first African slaves arrived on U.S. soil. Despite its Pulitzer, the “1619 Project” has become a hotly contested political and academic controversy, with the Trump administration seeking to block attempts to integrate its assertions into school curriculums, while numerous scholars of history accuse it of radically distorting historical fact, with some, such as Brown University’s Glenn Loury, calling on the Pulitzer Board to revoke its award. Scholars have also vocally criticized the Times for stealth edits of the article’s key claims long after publication, without even noting to readers that it made these substantive changes let alone explaining why it made them.

In sum, the still-raging political, historical, and journalistic debate over the 1619 Project has become a major controversy. In his Friday column, Stephens addressed the controversy by first noting the Project’s positive contributions and accomplishments, then reviewed in detail the critiques of historians and other scholars of its central claims, and then sided with its critics by arguing that “for all of its virtues, buzz, spinoffs and a Pulitzer Prize — the 1619 Project has failed.”

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From Michael Fynn’s son, who the FBI threatened to go after if Flynn sr. didn’t plead guilty to something he never did.

If My Family Can, So Can Yours (Michael Flynn, Jr.)

“I’ve done lots of work on this topic, so it bothers me. But Rich Lowry has it right: POTUS has to accept that people have already made up their minds about Russiagate, and most just don’t care about it like POTUS does …” -October 10, 2020 tweet by Andy McCarthy. That was it for me. I keep up with the goings-on within the political arena. When I saw this tweet and read the underlying article by Rich Lowry, my reaction was simple. Seriously? It’s amazing to see there are those who claim to be republican and/or conservative still NOT grasp or have zero feel for the pulse of President Donald Trump’s base.

Breaking: The #1 unanswered question since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency is “Why has no one been held accountable in “RussiaGate”? A close second is definitely “Why is there this double standard for people like General Flynn versus Former FBI Assistant Director Andrew McCabe?” These questions have been asked more than any other since 2017. There are a variety of reasons I make this statement but let me offer you the following: Since 2017, my family and I have received MILLIONS of messages through various communication platforms (handwritten letters, texts, direct messages, phone calls, emails, etc). I have personally analyzed and kept track of where these communications originated. Why? I wanted to gauge the geographical locations of the Americans who have reached out to my family expressing the sentiment described above.

Was it from just red states? Oh no. I can say with 100% certainty we’ve received droves of communications not just from every single state in America, but some from supporters around the world. The floor of my father’s basement in Rhode Island (for example) is currently occupied with boxes FULL of handwritten letters from these amazing patriots. And let me tell you, these letters display a common theme. People are SICK of the lack of accountability and sick of the seemingly ignored criminality in RussiaGate. My family and I have been irreparably harmed by the Obama-Biden administration and their soldiers of fraud. My father was framed and forced to plead guilty to something he did not do. The truth of the matter has been held hostage for nearly FOUR YEARS by the likes of current FBI Director Christopher Wray, and current CIA Director Gina Haspel who frankly, in my opinion, should’ve been fired already.

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Some OK stuff, but the more you call Dems “Marxists”, the less I’m iterested.

7 Predictions For How 2020 Comes To An End (Bobinski)

Prediction 1: Trump will win the election in a landslide. I know, the media is telling you the polls are tight, but just look around. Trump rallies are packed to the gills while Biden can’t fill the bleachers at a high school football field. Trump supporters hold huge boat parades while we see NONE for Biden. Trump supporters hold freeway caravans around that country that take up all lanes of a freeway, while an attempted caravan for Biden in Las Vegas drew only 30 people. Just like in 2016, pollsters today are making it look like it’s a close race. This is gaslighting – they’re telling you something that runs directly opposite of what your own eyes are telling you, but they’re expecting you to believe what they say.

Prediction 2: On the evening of November 3, Joe Biden will not concede the election, even though the vote will clearly be for Trump. Hillary Clinton has publicly stated that Joe should not concede, so the seed has been planted in our minds to expect this. And, because we’re expecting it, we won’t be shocked by it.

Prediction 3: Massive mail voter fraud will create confusion and Marxists (e.g. Democrats) will insist that “every vote counts.” They know Americans want to be fair so Marxists will play on that. They will cry and wail and plead that every vote needs to get counted, so they’ll ask for sympathy for voters who didn’t follow confusing new election rules about how to cast their mail-in ballots. That will be their story, but many votes will be fraudulent. As they’ve demonstrated on America’s streets, Marxists don’t care about following laws; they care about power.

Prediction 4: Because of massive mail fraud ballots showing up late, election results WILL be delayed. The deceptive Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook and the clearly biased Jack Dorsey at Twitter have already announced they will flag any posts or tweets that claim a victory for Trump. They KNOW Trump will have more than enough votes to win, but as Zuckerberg already told us, we should expect results to take “DAYS OR EVEN WEEKS.” In other words, Facebook and Twitter are well-aware of the planned mail-in voter fraud, and they’re already providing cover for it. The planned vote count confusion will be dragged out as long as possible. The Marxists’ intention is to keep confusion swirling at least until December 14 in hopes that the electoral college won’t be able to identify a winner. Expect ballots to keep showing up out of nowhere.

Prediction 5: If Marxists cannot keep up the façade until December 14, some states will obfuscate the electoral process by choosing not to follow the rules laid out in the 12th Amendment. In fact, both may happen. Either way, by attempting to throw the electoral college into confusion, Marxists (again, the Democrats) will make a push for the electoral college to be eliminated. Believe me when I say you don’t want this. Students of the Constitution know that if the electoral college is eliminated, the Republic will be gone.

Prediction 6: Expect Nancy Pelosi to be acting all patriotic and concerned about the Constitution during the chaos, but rest assured, it’s a passive-aggressive act. She is among the Marxist vanguard in both houses of Congress orchestrating the whole mess. You will also see some Marxist-friendly governors making a lot of noise.

Prediction 7: While Marxists in Congress are messing with the electoral process, Marxists on the streets (Antifa and BLM) will intensify their violence by burning, looting, and murdering even more than what we’ve seen to this point. There’s already a movement that seeks to lay siege to the White House. Not only do the puppet masters want all the street chaos to distract our attention from what’s going on in the electoral process, the street Marxists see this election as their only chance to either grab power or put up with Trump for four more years. The protestors have been trained to instigate violence, and copy-cat wannabes will want to join in. Street Marxists will view these riots as the fight of their lives: it will get intense.

Read more …

 

 

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Gunnar Ekelöf (translation by W.H. Auden & Leif Sjöberg):

 

 

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Sep 222020
 
 September 22, 2020  Posted by at 9:09 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Ray K. Metzker Marseille 1961

 

Assange’s Removal From Embassy Was on ‘Direct Orders From US President’ (Sp.)
160 Officials From Across The World Call For Assange’s Release (NBC)
A Second UK COVID19 Lockdown Is Doomed To Fail: Brits Won’t Comply (RT)
CDC Stumbles Again, Says COVID19 Guidance Posted ‘In Error’ (NBC)
China, WHO Could Have Helped Prevent Pandemic: Congressional Report (NYP)
Lancet Changes Editorial Policy After HCQ Study Retraction (G.)
Ballot Harvesting Party Will Be Over if Tulsi Gabbard Gets Her Way (NM)
Trump Says Aides Rejected His Request To Adjust Value Of Dollar (R.)
European Bank Stocks Swoon to 1988 Low (WS)
Virgin Islands AG Subpoenas Entirety Of Epstein Flight Logs (RT)
Kennedy’s US-Russia Joint Space Vision Must Be Revived (Ehret)
Activist Warns Left: Trump Might Pick First Black Female Justice (JTN)
Trump Fires Giant Pink Glitter Cannon To Reveal SCOTUS Nominee Gender (BBee)

 

 

1 million global deaths is not far off. Expect a ton of publicity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cassandra is a Trump supporter – but an even stronger Assange supporter- who just proved that the trial is political. Which means Julian cannot under British law be extradited. Or at least that’s what the law says.

Assange’s Removal From Embassy Was on ‘Direct Orders From US President’ (Sp.)

Journalist Cassandra Fairbanks has informed the court in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing that Arthur Schwartz, who is known as Donald Trump Jr’s “fixer”, had advance warning of the US indictment against the WikiLeaks publisher. Julian Assange’s removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy was done so “on direct orders from the [US] president”, according to information provided to American journalist Cassandra Fairbanks. Ms Fairbanks’ explosive testimony would appear to support to position that Mr Assange’s prosecution has a political dimension and reflected a shift in the government’s attitude with a change in administration from that of former president Barack Obama.

According to Ms Fairbanks’ witness statement, which was read into the court by the defence in Mr Assange’s extradition hearing on 21 September 2020, she was contacted by Arthur Schwartz, “a wealthy GOP donor who does communications for [former Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell] and works as an informal adviser to Donald Trump Jr”. During this phone call, which Ms Fairbanks recorded, Mr Schwartz was panicking because he believed a Tweet that she published revealed “classified information”. Ms Fairbanks attempted to calm down Mr Schwartz saying that she didn’t publish classified information and that she merely shared a link to a report from ABC news which described the role that Mr Grenell played in coordinating Mr Assange’s release.

Mr Schwartz was not put at ease by Ms Fairbanks’ assurances and asked her to delete the Tweet. “I don’t want to go to prison” Mr Schwartz told Ms Fairbanks, adding that people are aware of the fact that the two have been communicating with each other and have been seen with each other. Mr Grenell was acting “on the orders from the president” Mr Schwartz can be heard saying during the recorded conversation. “So, you’re going to punish me because he took orders from the president?” he asked Ms Fairbanks who responded that she wasn’t punishing him she was merely retweeting a report by ABC. Mr Schwartz begged Ms Fairbanks to delete the Tweet which she ultimately agreed to do. Ms Fairbanks is a contributor to the Pro-Trump Gateway Pundit news outlet and she notes that she herself “endorsed [Mr Trump’s] presidency over a number of years”.

Her witness statement says that she “believed Schwartz’s statement [that Mr Grenell coordinated Mr Assange’s removal from the embassy] to be correct because his close personal ties to both President Trump and Grenell are well-known”. The statement also says that her interactions with Mr Schwartz, on the subject of Mr Assange and WikiLeaks, first began after she dropped a link to an interview with Mr Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, into “a direct message group [in October 2018] containing multiple people who either worked for President Trump or were close to him in other ways – along with several other reporters and political commentators”. Among those in the group were then US Ambassador to Germany Mr Grenell as well as Mr Schwartz.

After she put the link to the interview into the group chat, Ms Fairbanks’ statement says that she received a phone call from Mr Schwartz who was “very angry”: “[Mr Schwartz] repeatedly insisted that I stop advocating for WikiLeaks and Assange, telling me that ‘a pardon isn’t going to f**king happen.’ He knew very specific details about a future prosecution against Assange that were later made public and that only those very close to the situation then would have been aware of. He told me that it would be the ‘Manning’ case that he would be charged with and that it would not involve the Vault 7 publication or anything to do with the DNC. He also told me that they would be going after Chelsea Manning. I also recollect being told, I believe, that it would not be before Christmas. Both of these predictions came true just months later.”

“Kidnapping a political refugee” from the Ecuadorian Embassy would be “an act of war”, Ms Fairbanks said to Mr Schwartz, to which he apparently responded “not if they let us”.

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Is the mainstream press getting involved now?

160 Officials From Across The World Call For Assange’s Release (NBC)

More than 160 current and former world leaders, lawmakers and diplomats have endorsed a call for the U.K. to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and stop his extradition to the U.S. The signatories of the open letter, addressed to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and several government ministers, included the president of Argentina and two former presidents of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. [..] The letter was first written by the group Lawyers for Assange in August, and then received the support of the international signatories whose names were released on Monday. It laid out several legal reasons why Assange shouldn’t be extradited, including the claim that he wouldn’t face a fair trial in the U.S., and that he would “be exposed to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

His extradition “would gravely endanger freedom of the press,” the letter said. “This demonstrates the growing opposition around the world to U.S. efforts to extradite and prosecute Assange, and the political nature of this case,” Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, told NBC News. Many of the letter’s signatories, which also include Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro and former Ecuadoran leader Rafael Correa, are fierce critics of the U.S. and have previously spoken out against American foreign policy. Last week, Robinson told a London court that Assange was offered a presidential pardon in 2017 by then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Trump associate Charles Johnson if he helped to resolve the “ongoing speculation about Russian involvement” in the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails leaked during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

At the hearing in London on Friday, James Lewis, prosecutor for the U.S. government, said: “The position of the government is we don’t contest these things were said. We obviously do not accept the truth of what was said by others.”

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What you gonna do? Arrest them all and throw them into virus-infected prisons?

A Second UK COVID19 Lockdown Is Doomed To Fail: Brits Won’t Comply (RT)

Now armed with statistics and expert advice, the British public are much better informed about Covid than in March and won’t countenance another lockdown imposed by politicians who have mishandled the pandemic at every turn. A looming second lockdown in the UK, as part of the Government’s haphazard approach to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, is destined to fail for one reason: the revered ‘Blitz spirit’ that we’re all in this together has vanished. Now it’s everyone for themselves. For several days now, there has been talk of another imminent imposition of harsh restrictions on our movement. While the first national lockdown was universally accepted, any follow-up – call it ‘a circuit breaker’ or whatever clever name you like – is going to be a little trickier.

Look at what’s happened in Madrid over the weekend, where a wave of protests hit the Spanish capital with people taking offence at the regional president’s efforts to reduce an infection rate in some areas of more than 1,000 per 100,000 by restricting the movements of 850,000 people. And when Isabel Dìaz Ayuso bluntly suggested it was the “way of life” of the immigrants living in those neighbourhoods that was contributing to the problems, the mob insisted she resign. What for? Trying to keep them safe? Remember, Spain had a draconian three-month lockdown that saw kids shut up indoors over summer, but they recognised they were all in it together and stuck to their guns. Now that spirit has dissolved, as people claim the government is spreading fear and hatred among already marginalised communities. Attention has turned away from battling the pandemic to fighting among themselves.

That easygoing compliance has hardened in the UK as well. We’re not so accepting of the words coming from the familiar Downing Street podium these days. Because we’ve now had months of expert home tutoring by the impressive duo of government scientists Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, whose careful, measured explanations and predictions have driven the real narrative behind the boosterism of the government’s “moonshots” and “world-beating” boasts. Last week it was Boris Johnson telling us it would all be over by Christmas. Now Health Secretary Matt Hancock says maybe not. That kind of ‘he said, she said’ nonsense is a test to anyone’s patience, but you can see where the desperate-to-be-loved PM is coming from. People want a return to normal, even if that ‘normal’ is different to what we are used to, and BoJo is keen to be the one to deliver the good news.

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And Americans won’t comply either, thanks to BS like this.

It is really only yesterday that I said: “Do they still have any credibility left? You know, after Redfield’s “Act for one Man and one Mask”?”

CDC Stumbles Again, Says COVID19 Guidance Posted ‘In Error’ (NBC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday walked back information posted on its website just three days ago, which stated the coronavirus can spread through aerosolized droplets. The CDC now says that Friday’s guidance was posted “in error,” and that new information will be issued shortly. The move is yet another misstep for the nation’s leading public health agency, which recently reversed its guidance for the second time on testing asymptomatic people for the coronavirus. On Friday, an update posted to the CDC’s website stated the virus can be transmitted through tiny, aerosolized droplets that are “produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes.”

That information was already well known, according to infectious disease experts. It was “not surprising or jarring,” Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said. “The scientific community has been raising the alarm about this since February, that airborne spread can happen,” said Joseph Allen, an associate professor in the department of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. So infectious disease experts were perplexed Monday, when the CDC scrubbed that section of the website of any mention of airborne transmission, writing that “a draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website.”

[..] “This is so destructive to this incredibly wonderful agency that we have loved and admired our entire careers,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the school of public health at Brown University, said. “This is amateur hour.” Science evolves and is guided by what doctors and researchers learn over time, but clear messaging is critical to a proper public health response to the virus. “The CDC is like a North Star in terms of guiding this pandemic,” Weatherhead said. “It’s important that there is clear and concise communication so that everybody is on the same page.” “Hopefully we will get communication from the CDC to better understand why they’re walking back on what we already know to be factual,” she added.

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An overly polite headline. It doesn’t include “criminally negligent”.

China, WHO Could Have Helped Prevent Pandemic: Congressional Report (NYP)

The coronavirus pandemic might have been prevented if not for Chinese cover-ups in the early days of the outbreak and the World Health Organization “parroting” Beijing propaganda, according to a damning audit from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The 96-page report — obtained by The Post ahead of its planned Monday release — says the Chinese Communist Party destroyed evidence and buried troubling data, while nationalizing the supply chains and limiting exports of US companies 3M and General Motors, keeping key goods in the country.

“It is beyond doubt that the CCP actively engaged in a cover-up designed to obfuscate data, hide relevant public health information, and suppress doctors and journalists who attempted to warn the world,” reads the report, authored by Republican members of the Democrat-held committee. Had China been more transparent and proactive when the first signs of the burgeoning health crisis emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, the outbreak could have been largely contained — potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide, the pols wrote.

“Research shows the CCP could have reduced the number of cases in China by up to 95 percent had it fulfilled its obligations under international law and responded to the outbreak in a manner consistent with best practices,” the report said, citing a study on Medrxiv, a Yale University-linked online clearinghouse for medical manuscripts. “It is highly likely the ongoing pandemic could have been prevented,” the report said. Instead, on Jan. 1, CCP officials ordered that the Wuhan wet market from which the contagion is believed to have sprung “be closed and sanitized, destroying forensic evidence that may have provided insight into the origins of the outbreak,” the report said.

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It was a classis hit job from the start. And the Lancet bought and swallowed it whole. But HCQ remains banned in many places, so it worked.

Lancet Changes Editorial Policy After HCQ Study Retraction (G.)

One of the world’s leading medical journals, the Lancet, has reformed its editorial policies following a shocking case of apparent research misconduct involving the study of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19. In May, the Lancet published a peer-reviewed study about the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine, which concluded Covid-19 patients who received the drug were dying at higher rates and experiencing more heart-related complications than other virus patients. The large observational study analysed data purported to be from nearly 15,000 patients with Covid-19 who received the drug alone or in combination with antibiotics, comparing this data with 81,000 controls who did not receive the drug.

This data was recorded by hospitals around the world in a database by a US data analytics company known as “Surgisphere”, the Lancet paper said. The findings prompted the World Health Organization to halt its clinical trials of the drug, given the paper’s findings that it was linked with deaths and complications. But days after the paper was published, Guardian Australia revealed issues with the Australian data in the study. Figures on the number of Covid-19 deaths and patients in hospital cited by the authors did not match up with official government and health department data. Senior clinicians involved in Covid-19 research told Guardian Australia they had never heard of the Surgisphere database.

Researchers from other countries identified similar issues with the data from their hospitals, and a further Guardian Australia investigation revealed doubts that the database used by the study authors likely did not even existed. Sapan Desai was a co-author of the paper and founder of the Surgisphere database. Following the revelations, information about Surgisphere was deleted from the internet. It was also revealed that none of the co-authors of the paper had seen the Surgisphere data for themselves, and they said that Desai did not give them access to it even after questions about the paper were raised by Guardian Australia and the research community. The paper’s co-authors, which included a highly respected vascular surgeon, supported the retraction of the paper and distanced themselves from the data.

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Go Tulsi!

Ballot Harvesting Party Will Be Over if Tulsi Gabbard Gets Her Way (NM)

Ballot-harvesting is a voting related practice allowing paid political operatives to collect an unlimited number of ballots, subsequently delivering them into the hands of election officials. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, recently introduced legislation, The Election Fraud Prevention Act, which if passed would effectively slow down or even put a halt to the practice. The legislation could potentially be in effect in time for November’s all-important 2020 presidential election. When Rep. Gabbard made her run for the Oval Office during the Democratic presidential primaries, the public learned that she was a proud member of the Army National Guard, having served in two Mideast deployments. Currently, she is a major in the Army Reserves.


Rep. Gabbard’s proposed legislation, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-IL, would amend a 2002 act, and if passed would deny certain federal payments to states that permit ballot harvesting. This type of reform could go a long way in helping to prevent a particularly heinous kind of corruption of the electoral process. If ballot-harvesting remains in place, or worse, if its use becomes widespread nationally, special interest groups aligned with a particular candidate or political party may be able to manipulate the results of legitimate elections. As Rep. Gabbard noted, “While some states have prohibited vote harvesting, many states lack any regulations that would stop third-parties from fraudulently collecting and mishandling ballots as has occurred in recent elections.”

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‘Sir, we can’t do that. It has to float naturally.’

There are actually people who react to this by saying Trump didn’t know the dollar floats.

Trump Says Aides Rejected His Request To Adjust Value Of Dollar (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said he was rebuffed when he asked officials to adjust the exchange rate of the dollar to counteract what he described as repeated currency manipulation by China of its yuan. Trump told thousands of supporters at a political rally in Dayton, Ohio, that his policies were saving jobs in the political battleground state after years of inaction to confront China’s aggressive behavior in global markets. “I go to my guys, ‘What about doing a little movement on the dollar?’” he said, but they countered that was not possible. “‘Sir, we can’t do that. It has to float naturally.’”

The Republican president, who is seeking reelection to a second term in the Nov. 3 national poll, repeated his claim – which China denies – that Beijing deliberately changes the value of its currency to gain competitive advantage in global markets. China’s central bank has denied intervening to weaken the yuan and lower the cost of its exports to the United States. The yuan has firmed for eight weeks straight against a softening dollar. Trump gave no details on his conversation about tweaking the dollar’s value, and no comment was immediately available from the U.S. Treasury Department, which is expected to release its long-delayed semi-annual currency report in coming weeks.

[..] Trump in May reversed course and backed a “strong dollar” after years of railing against the dollar’s relative strength as a factor harming U.S. competitiveness. The Treasury Department in January dropped its designation of China as a “currency manipulator”, days before U.S. and Chinese officials signed the Phase 1 trade deal, saying Beijing had agreed to refrain from competitive devaluation.

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How many arrests so far?

European Bank Stocks Swoon to 1988 Low (WS)

The Stoxx 600 Banks index, which covers major European banks, slumped 5.7% on Monday, to close at 81.1, just a smidgen above the multi-decade low, of 79, set in March. The last time before March that the index was below today’s level was in February 1988, during the sell-off that followed Black Monday in October 1987, when it also slumped as low as 79. The index has collapsed by 85% since its peak in May 2007, after having quadrupled over the preceding 12 years. Here are the wondrous European bank stocks going back to 2007:

Not even the promise of more industry consolidation, facilitated by shotgun mergers of big, struggling banks with smaller struggling banks, has stemmed the slide of Europe’s banking shares. Three weeks ago, Spain’s third largest lender, CaixaBank, announced plans to buy majority state-owned Bankia, with money largely provided by the State, to form what will be Spain’s largest domestic bank. Spain’s MSCI rose only slightly in response and is now lower than it was. Today, it wasn’t just banking stocks that had a rough day. European stocks overall were down by 3.9%, as concerns grow over a second wave of the coronavirus. But banks were particularly hard hit.


One reason for the rout was the release of a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on lenders that had facilitated $2 trillion in suspicious transactions. HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of New York Mellon, were implicated. Over almost two decades, the five banks had “enrich[ed] themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins,” the report said.

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I wouldn’t put any money on her actually getting them. Unredacted. National security, don’t you know.

Virgin Islands AG Subpoenas Entirety Of Epstein Flight Logs (RT)

The US Virgin Islands Attorney General has subpoenaed 21 years’ worth of deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s flight logs, reportedly striking fear in the hearts of high-profile passengers not yet exposed as Lolita Express riders. Passenger logs for Epstein’s four helicopters and three planes have been subpoenaed by Virgin Islands AG Denise George, who recently sued the disgraced financier’s estate for 22 counts including human trafficking, child abuse, neglect, prostitution, aggravated rape, and forced labor, according to a Sunday report by the UK Mirror. In addition to the passenger lists, George has requisitioned “complaints or reports of potentially suspicious conduct” and any “personal notes” the pilots made while flying Epstein’s alleged harem of underage girls around the world.

She also wants the names and contact information of anyone who worked for the pilots – or who “integrated with or observed” Epstein and his passengers. Epstein pilot David Rodgers previously provided a passenger log in 2009 tying dozens of politicians, actors, and other celebrities to the infamous sex offender – including former US President Bill Clinton, actor Kevin Spacey, and model Naomi Campbell. However, lawyers for Epstein’s alleged victims have argued that list did not include flights by Epstein’s chief pilot, Larry Visoski, who allegedly worked for him for over 25 years. “The records that have been subpoenaed will make the ones Rodgers provided look like a Post-It note,” a source told the Mirror over the weekend, claiming that George’s subpoena had triggered a “panic among many of the rich and famous.”

Epstein’s private plane, nicknamed the Lolita Express, counted among its passengers such luminaries as the UK’s Prince Andrew, celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz, actor Chris Tucker, Harvard economist Larry Summers, Hyatt hotel mogul Tom Pritzker, and model agency manager Jean-Luc Brunel along with Campbell, Spacey, and Clinton (who the logs show flew with Epstein over two dozen times). However, the passengers who enjoyed his other aircraft have not been made public – yet. George has also subpoenaed more than 10 banks – including JPMorgan, Citibank, and Deutsche Bank – in her quest to get to the bottom of the financial edifice Epstein built up before he died. The financial institutions have been ordered to submit documents related to some 30 corporations, trusts, and nonprofit entities tied to the predatory playboy.

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How did we ever get from Kennedy to Russiagate?

Kennedy’s US-Russia Joint Space Vision Must Be Revived (Ehret)

September 20th marked the anniversary of the last speech John F Kennedy delivered to the United Nations’ General Assembly. This event bears more relevance upon our present crisis than most people could possibly imagine. This is true not only because it is wise to pay homage to great ideas of the past which lesser souls allowed to slip away and get buried under the sands of time, but also because history provides many of the solutions to seemingly impossible problems in our own time. During his short speech, Kennedy outlined the very same fundamental obstacles to survival faced by our own world 57 years later: “The spectre of nuclear annihilation looming overhead, poverty and the evils of colonialism staining humanity on earth, and the dominance of destructive modes of thinking which have prevented honest dialogue between the west and east who have so many common interests and yet have been blocked from acting upon them for want of creativity, understanding and faith.”

Although it is far too rarely displayed in history, great leaders (those who are beholden to their consciences) recognize that there are solutions to every problem. From Plato to Cicero to Confucius and Christ in ancient times or Thomas More, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln, and Kennedy in our modern age, these rare but vitally important individuals demonstrate through their words and deeds that when the dominant social rules of the game prevent those necessary and possible solutions from manifesting, then only one course of action becomes possible: Change the rules of the game. The martyred Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin eloquently touched on this truth in 1992 shaking the hands with Yasser Arafat and advancing a two-state solution saying: “The future belongs to those who have the courage to change their axioms.”

Such was the case of John F. Kennedy who recognized early on in his short-lived presidency that the geopolitical “closed system” thinking dominant among the military and foreign policy experts of the west held only the seeds for humanity’s destruction. In his speech of September 20, 1963, Kennedy revisited a theme which he first unveiled on the day of his inaugural address in 1961: A joint U.S.-USSR space program to transform the rules of the Cold War and usher in a new creative age of reason, win-win cooperation and boundless discoveries. In his 1961 inaugural speech, Kennedy ushered in the theme that would animate his next three years saying:

“Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce. Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah–to “undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free.” Ten days later, Kennedy re-iterated this idea during his first state of the Union inviting Russia “to join with U.S. in developing… a new communication satellite program in preparation for probing the distant planets of Mars and Venus, probes which may someday unlock the deepest secrets of the universe”.

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Wait a minute. That was my line.

Activist Warns Left: Trump Might Pick First Black Female Justice (JTN)

An activist group formally launched the “She Will Rise” campaign Monday to call for an African American female judge to be nominated to the Supreme Court. A supporter of the group, Nikole Hannah-Jones, who authored The New York Times’ 1619 Project, warned that President Trump might be the president who picks the first black female justice following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “I think this is a case of be careful what you wish for because it’s certainly possible that Trump could appoint a black women but it’s also very possible it could be just as cynical as it was when the second black Supreme Court justice became Clearance Thomas,” she said during a discussion organized by the nonprofit advocacy group Demand Justice.


“You can certainly find a black woman who is extremely conservative; who is a strict constructionist; who is going to align with the most conservative people on the court and that again will be a hollow victory. In some ways, again, that is a very cynical choice because it puts black people in the position of having to argue against the first black woman to go on the bench because the first black woman is not someone who we feel will actually serve our communities well so yeah, that’s possible,” she also said. Trump said this past weekend that he would nominate a female to fill Ginsburg’s seat. Some African American male judges appear on Trump’s public shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominee, but there are currently no African American female judges included. A hispanic female and male judge are on his list.

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And then finally there’s the good news, courtesy of the Babylon Bee.

Trump Fires Giant Pink Glitter Cannon To Reveal SCOTUS Nominee Gender (BBee)

It was a festive occasion, as gender reveals often are, and a crowd brimming with excitement gathered outside the White House to find out from President Trump what gender the nominee for Supreme Court Justice would be. “Oh I sure hope it’s a boy!” yelled one man. “No way! It has to be a girl!” yelled a nearby woman. However, some unhappy citizens gathered in the crowd only to protest how primitive and cis-heteronormative a gender reveal party for a Supreme Court Justice is. “This is so backwards,” yelled local non-binary furry queen-king Yoox Bellavix. “The nominee hasn’t even been questioned by the Senate to determine what gender they identify with! Gender is not the same as biological sex! We need hearings now!”


Trump suddenly appeared on the White House lawn and greeted all the gathered crowd with a wide beaming smile like that of an expectant father. “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen and Democrats and Fake News media! I am very happy, so very happy, I don’t even remember the last time I was this happy, to announce the gender of our nominee to fill the seat!” he said. The crowd erupted in joyous applause as the Secret Service rolled out a giant wheeled cannon similar to a civil war artillery piece and pulled the trigger to send an enormous cloud of pink glitter into the air. “Of course it’s a girl! It’s a girl!” Trump said as he made an hourglass curve gesture with his hands. “Tremendous. Thank you very much!”

At publishing time, all the assembled media figures stood completely covered in pink glitter. The White House lawn is also entirely covered. The EPA estimates it could take up to 12 years for the pristine swamp environment of the White House lawn to return to normal.

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Aug 282020
 
 August 28, 2020  Posted by at 9:51 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Frans Hals Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer 1626 (stolen 3rd time yesterday)

 

Pelosi Says There Shouldn’t Be Any Debates Between Biden And Trump (Hill)
Trump Denounces Riots, Cancel Culture, Failed Political Class In Speech (RT)
61 Million Americans Have Stopped Commuting (ZH)
WHO Skips Wuhan During China Trip; “Sat In Beijing For Three Weeks” (ZH)
US Imposes Sanctions On Russian Institute That Developed COVID19 Vaccine (GZ)
Germany Imposes Fine For All Non-Mask Wearers In New National Crackdown (ZH)
The Fed Policies Have Become Part Of The Problem (ZH)
Subprime Mortgages Fall Massively Delinquent (WS)
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Longest-Serving PM, Resigns Due To Health Issues (RT)
Laura Ravages Louisiana Coast With Wind Speeds Not Seen In A Century (Hill)

 

 

260,000 reads for yesterday’s Are The Tables Starting To Turn? on Zero Hedge alone so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy’s 80, and she’s losing again, in her final battle. When saying things like this, she will be seen by many people as a sore loser. Not by those who follow her anyway and anywhere, but by the undecideds. The polls say her party is losing those people. And she’s right, Biden will be hammered, but running away is not a viable option.

Most of all, if you ask me, Biden and Pelosi just look like very old and bitter people. Look at Biden!

Pelosi Says There Shouldn’t Be Any Debates Between Biden And Trump (Hill)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday she doesn’t think there should be any presidential debates ahead of the November election, arguing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden shouldn’t “legitimize” a discussion with President Trump.“I don’t think that there should be any debates,” Pelosi told reporters. “I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody has any association with truth, evidence, data and facts.”“I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States,” she added.


“I think that he’ll probably act in a way that is beneath the dignity of the presidency,” she said, citing what she called his “disgraceful” actions during the 2016 debates with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “He does that every day,” she added. “But I think he will also belittle what the debates are supposed to be about.” Instead, Pelosi proposed that the candidates take separate stages and answer questions about their policies in a “conversation with the American people” instead of “an exercise in skulduggery.” But she acknowledged that the Biden campaign “thinks in a different way about this.”

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Take from RT. I’m pretty sure CNN’s take is slightly different.

Trump Denounces Riots, Cancel Culture, Failed Political Class In Speech (RT)

Speaking at the finale of the Republican National Convention, President Donald Trump doubled down on American exceptionalism and once again painted himself as an outsider fighting the Democrats and the entrenched establishment. The speech went on for over an hour, much longer than Joe Biden’s address a week ago at the Democratic convention. But whereas Biden spoke in an empty auditorium in Milwaukee, Trump spoke outside the White House, in the wilting heat of late summer in Washington, DC – and in front of more than a thousand people. In the absence of a formal party platform, Trump defined the Republican position for 2020 as undoing the damage done by the establishment; defending law and order from mobs and anarchy; fighting ‘cancel culture’ and making American great(er) again.

Though the tone of it was uneven – at times a campaign rally, at other times sounding like a State of the Union – and Trump was visibly running out of steam by the end, the underlying message was crystal clear. Time and again, Trump hammered Biden and the Democrats on the difference between their accomplishments during decades in power, and his over just one term. “We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years.” Trump painted Biden and the Democrats as globalists beholden to China economically, destroying American jobs and industries, opening the borders and starting endless foreign wars – which he was trying to end.

“How can Joe Biden claim to be an ally of the light, when his own party can’t even keep the lights on?” Trump joked, bringing up last week’s power outages in California – but it was also a dig at the theme of Biden’s speech last week, and the efforts by the media to accuse Republicans of being “dark and divisive.” “At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies, or two agendas,” Trump said. “This election will decide whether we save the American dream or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny.” Democrats, Trump argued, see America as a wicked nation that must be punished for its sins, with giving them power as the only path to redemption. Yet Republicans – and most Americans, he argued – look to god for salvation, not politicians.

[..] Throughout, Trump cast himself as the outsider who left behind his comfortable life to battle the “failed political class” in Washington. He has done so with mixed success, dealing with brutal political intrigue, hostile media, endless lawfare, congressional gridlock, the ‘Russiagate’ probe and even an impeachment. But as he himself quipped, pointing to the White House, “we’re here and they’re not.” Even after four years of that, and an hour in the brutal heat of an August evening, Trump seemed ready, even eager, for more. Democrats may have believed the media and the polls to think this election was in the bag, but it isn’t – not by a long shot.

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I’m trying! I am! I’m trying to feel stupid for thinking that it’s great we finally found a way to make people NOT drive a car an hour+ every day that is 20x their weight and uses less than 10% of the energy effectively that moves it forward. I’m trying to feel stupid because, I know, the economy!

61 Million Americans Have Stopped Commuting (ZH)

A new survey from ValuePenguin.com, commissioned by LendingTree, found 61 million Americans have stopped commuting to work due to the virus-induced recession. The reduction of motor vehicles on highways will result in deep economic scarring across the entire economy. “The coronavirus has upended nearly every aspect of life in the United States, and Americans’ driving behavior and commutes are no exception. ValuePenguin surveyed drivers to see how their habits have changed. We found a large number of drivers are no longer commuting to the office, whether because they are working from home or have lost employment due to COVID-19.” -ValuePenguin. The survey found three in 10 respondents with motor vehicles are no longer making the daily commute to work in a post-COVID-19 world:


“About three in 10 consumers with a motor vehicle said they no longer have a commute due to COVID-19, either because they’re working from home (19%) or they temporarily or permanently lost their jobs (10%). On the other hand, 26% are back to their daily commute as of August, including essential workers (17%) and those whose employers reopened their offices (9%). (The remainder don’t have commutes either because they worked from home prior to the pandemic, or they were not working prior to the pandemic.)” -ValuePenguin [..] The decline in travel has resulted in respondents making fewer trips to the gas pump. Almost a third said they’re driving every day, compared to 50% of drivers pre-pandemic. The number of respondents who fill up their tanks every week dropped by 26% in August versus before the pandemic.

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Can we close them down now, finally? I get the point behind having a global health organization, but this is not that point. The WHO should have loudly denounced not being able to access Wuhan a long time ago.

WHO Skips Wuhan During China Trip; “Sat In Beijing For Three Weeks” (ZH)

A delegation from the World Health Organization tasked with investigating the origins of COVID-19 failed to go to Wuhan, China – ‘ground zero’ for the pandemic, and instead “sat in Beijing for three weeks” according to a senior US official, who told the Financial Times that Western governments are skeptical over China’s commitment to identifying the origins of the pandemic. “Any chance of finding a smoking gun is now gone,” the official continued. Though we’re not sure what any team of investigators would find after China blocked international epidemiologists for eight months after the outbreak began. Australian MP Dave Sharma told the Times: “The international community is right to have serious concerns about the rigour and independence of the WHO’s early response to this pandemic, and its seeming wish to avoid offending China.

“If this allegation is proven, it is another disturbing incident of the WHO — which is charged with safeguarding global public health — putting the political sensitivities of a member state above the public health interests of the world, in the critical early stages of this pandemic. We are all now bearing the immense costs of such a policy.” The WHO, meanwhile, says that the three-week visit was ‘merely laying the groundwork in advance of a full international mission,’ but gave no indication when this might happen. “After initially bristling at calls from Australia, the US and other countries for a probe into the outbreak, which has claimed more than 800,000 lives, Chinese president Xi Jinping in May endorsed a WHO-led inquiry.

But the WHO resolution “to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population” — which was backed by more than 130 countries — has been dogged by concerns over transparency and access.” -Financial Times. “A two-person WHO team has recently concluded its three-week assignment in China to lay the groundwork for an investigation into the source of the virus. This was in advance of the full mission, therefore, there are no ‘results of the WHO’s recent mission’ to share.”” said the UN agency in a statement last week.

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Like Russia cares. But shouldn’t we seek cooperation in things like this?

US Imposes Sanctions On Russian Institute That Developed COVID19 Vaccine (GZ)

The Russian government announced this August that it had registered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine, called Sputnik V. Sputnik V was developed by the Russian Health Ministry’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. This scientific facility created the vaccine in a joint research project with the Russian Defense Ministry’s 48th Central Research Institute. On August 27, the US Commerce Department imposed sanctions on Russia’s 48th Central Research Institute, blacklisting the scientific body. While Russia took a state-led approach to create a coronavirus vaccine, the Trump administration announced a “public-private partnership” in May.


The program, called “Operation Warp Speed,” saw the US government dole out billions of tax dollars to Big Pharma companies. The Trump administration awarded massive contracts to private corporations like Novavax, Pfizer, and Moderna, while Trump reportedly offered “large sums of money” for exclusive rights to a vaccine being developed by a German firm so it could be sold for profit. But the US public-private partnership was unable to develop a vaccine before foreign countries with government-led research efforts did. Besides Russia, a state-owned Chinese company says its vaccine will be ready by the end of 2020, while Cuba is doing clinical trials for a vaccine of its own.

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It would really help to know what this mask mandate entails. Does it include people outside? In their own homes? These are important details.

Germany Imposes Fine For All Non-Mask Wearers In New National Crackdown (ZH)

It should surprise nobody that this happens first within the EU. While much of the world takes to mask-wearing more out of a social and health consciousness “most people are on board” type attitude, the government of Germany has announced fines as punishment for people not wearing them. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced during a virtual meeting Thursday with state governors that almost the entire country will be under a 50 euros minimum ($59) fine for breaching the national mask mandate. After the meeting it was announced that all federal states except the east’s Saxony-Anhalt agreed on setting a minimum fine. In her comments Merkel also urged Germans to stay home “wherever it is possible” and avoid traveling to “hot spots” like the United States. Berlin also agreed to impose a strict limiting on gatherings.


Not only have many major public events been canceled outright, but police are enforcing a ban on private parties of more than 25 persons. Large public events will not return until 2021. The new stringent measures including the mask fines go into effect by the end of the day Thursday. This also as most German schools are now back in session, though there’s been a handful of closures due to new coronavirus cases. It’s part of a broader initiative proposed by German health officials to crackdown on people flouting social distancing measures amid the pandemic, even though in recent weeks authorities say coronavirus clusters are due mainly to incoming vacationers. Germany’s confirmed COVID-19 numbers have been on the whole relatively low compared to other Western nations, at about 240,000 out of a population of 83 million.

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You sure it shouldn’t read they ARE the problem?

The Fed Policies Have Become Part Of The Problem (ZH)

In one of the most overt criticism of the Fed we have read to date, [Rabobank’s Philip] Marey writes that “while the Fed’s step to make the inflation target “more” symmetric may benefit the wages of the average American somewhere beyond 2022, it does not really address the deeper problem with the role the Fed is playing in the US economy. It could be argued that the Fed’s policies have become part of the problem, instead of the solution.” And, as the Rabobank strategist suggests, “at least this should be a topic for debate in the FOMC, instead of talking a whole year about whether to use an average or not.”

To this all we would add is that the Fed should take a long, hard look at its prefered metric of core PCE: as we have repeatedly explained in recent years, the Fed continues to purposefully undercount inflation, and on top of that, it now has openly said it will disregard the politically palatable core PCE/CPI number just so it can continue blowing an asset bubble of epic proportions. It was Marey’s conclusion however that was the piece de resistance:

“The much deeper problem for the US economy is the asymmetric impact of Fed policies on households and businesses. The Fed’s monetary and regulatory policies have contributed to a form of capitalism where the rewards are going to the 1% and the risks are borne by the 99%. The current crisis response has made it painfully clear again that the Fed’s policies benefit high income individuals and large corporations, while small businesses and low income individuals bear the burden. While the Fed likes to see itself as part of the solution to America’s economic problems, it should ask itself whether it is also part of these problems.”

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The amounts of leverage everywhere in the system makes a price decline of 10-20% an absolute catastrophy.

Subprime Mortgages Fall Massively Delinquent (WS)

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) prides itself in insuring subprime mortgages with, as it says, “low down payments,” “low closing costs,” and “easy credit qualifying” – all true. Of its active portfolio of 8 million mortgages that it insures, 17% were delinquent in July, the highest rate in FHA history. In many metros, the delinquency rates of FHA mortgages are above 20%; and in two metros, the delinquency rates exceed 27%. The delinquency rates include mortgages that were delinquent and then entered a forbearance agreement with the lender, where the lender agreed to not pursue its rights due to nonpayment of the mortgage.

During the term of forbearance – six months, under the CARES Act, extendable by another six months – the borrower isn’t making payments, but the missed interest and principal payments are added to the mortgage balance and will need to be paid somehow. A FICO credit score below 620 is considered “subprime.” The FHA insures mortgages of borrowers with credit scores well below that. • If the borrower has a credit score of at least 580, the FHA will accept down payments of only 3.5%. • If the FICO score is below 580, no problem, but then down payment is 10%. Many of the people whose mortgages the FHA insures have lost their jobs or had had their hours or work reduced. In terms of the lenders, the good thing is that they don’t carry the risk. The FHA and thereby the taxpayer carry the risk.

In terms of the taxpayer, the good thing is that home prices have risen in many markets in recent years, and are rising there right now, and that many fallen-behind homeowners can sell their home and pay off the defaulted mortgage with the proceeds from the sale, and maybe have a little cash left over. And if the home goes into foreclosure because the proceeds wouldn’t have been enough to pay off the mortgage, the losses would be relatively small. The widespread home price declines that occurred during the subprime crisis of Housing Bust have not happened yet. And that’s why at the moment no one is panicking about these sky-high delinquency rates. But when millions of homeowners cannot make the mortgage payments and have to put these millions of homes on the market – forced sellers – they trigger a sudden surge of supply of homes for sale, and the entire supply-and-demand equation, and thereby the pricing environment, are going to change.

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No more Abenomics would be a plus.

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Longest-Serving PM, Resigns Due To Health Issues (RT)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who led Japan for eight consecutive years, has said he is stepping down hours after he informed his ruling coalition that he was suffering from health issues. Explaining his decision earlier in the day, Shinzo Abe said he feared the illness would affect his decision-making. “I will not be able to make proper judgments due to illness,” the outgoing premier clarified, as quoted by Kyodo news agency. Abe has been suffering from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory chronic disease, for many years. The prime minister himself revealed that his condition started to worsen around the middle of the last month, possibly prompting him to consider stepping down.


Moving on, Abe apologized “from the bottom of my heart” to his fellow countrymen, adding that he didn’t want his resignation to cause trouble for Japan’s domestic politics. With his eyes getting misty, the prime minister said it is now up to the Japanese to judge his legacy. He noted that his administration had created four million jobs while keeping the economy going. Meanwhile, local media reported that he will continue to serve as prime minister until a new leader is chosen, thus avoiding the need to appoint an acting premier. Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is reportedly set to arrange a leadership election next Thursday.

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Seems to have been okay so far?!

Laura Ravages Louisiana Coast With Wind Speeds Not Seen In A Century (Hill)

Hurricane Laura made landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane early Thursday morning packing 150 mile-per-hour winds and bringing a storm surge with the potential to inundate coastal areas of western Louisiana to the Texas border with up to 20 feet of water. Laura made landfall around 1 a.m. near Cameron, La. The 400-person community is more than 30 miles east of the Texas border. Around 7 a.m. CDT, the storm was centered near Leesville, La., roughly 100 miles north of the Gulf Coast. The storm ties with a hurricane from more than 160 years ago as the strongest storm to hit the region. A hurricane called “Last Island” made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds in 1856, according to CNN.


Laura weakened to a Category 2 hurricane after making landfall but still packs sustained winds of more than 100 mph and will continue to produce heavy rain and flash flooding that are not expected to recede for several days. Government officials had warned people to find safety and get out of harm’s way as the storm approached. More 500,000 people in the storm’s path in coastal Texas and Louisiana were under evacuation orders, although as many as 150 people in Cameron Parish, where the hurricane came ashore, ignored the orders and were unreachable as of Thursday morning, according to The Associated Press. “This is a time for all of us to be praying for the best, while we’re prepared for the worst. God bless you and your families,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) tweeted just before the storm made landfall.

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Jul 292020
 


Fresco from the Minoan Palace in Knossos, Crete, Greece. 16th century B C.

 

Coronavirus To Spread In One Big Wave and Won’t Go Away – WHO (RT)
WHO Says Keeping Borders Shut To Thwart COVID-19 Not “Sustainable” (CBS)
Six US States See Record COVID19 Deaths, Latinos Hit Hard In California (R.)
Hong Kong Warns City On Verge Of Large Coronavirus Outbreak (R.)
China’s Surging Crude Imports Mask Weakness In The Rest Of Asia (R.)
OPEC Prepares For An Age Of Dwindling Demand (R.)
Big Tech CEOs To Defend Their Companies By Listing Competitors (R.)
“People Have Too Much Money To Play With” (BBG)
It Is Time to Abandon Dollar Hegemony (Foriegn Affairs)
DOJ Could Pursue Treason Charges Over Russia Probe Misconduct – Steube (JTN)
Ghislaine Maxwell Fights To Keep Nude Photos And Sexualised Videos Secret (RT)
Assange Spied On Like ‘In A Film,’ Lawyer Says (Rap)
It’s Not Assange Who Should Be Facing Prosecution (Can.)

 

 

I was watching some of the Bill Barr hearing yesterday, bewildered by the lack of manners exhibited. Not because I’m a Trump or Bill Barr fan, but come on, this is Congress, and if you can’t show respect for the US Attorney General, no matter how much you may dislike him, you’re not showing respect for the House you’re sitting in, or its history, or its meaning for the country.

Several of the Representatives didn’t start with a question, but began by telling Barr what a despicable human being he is, something that only makes sense if you aim it at the camera’s, then at last asked questions and refused to let him answer them.

 

 

 

New cases for the world and US remain somewhat subdued, but the US new daily deaths number is the highest since May 27. Let’s hope that is an anomaly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have the same problem as Ben Hunt. Very much so.

 

 

Byron York

 

 

Not seasonal. That took only 7 months.

Coronavirus To Spread In One Big Wave and Won’t Go Away – WHO (RT)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has quashed hopes that the coronavirus might simply disappear over the summer. It urged the world to instead brace itself for “one big wave” of infections. WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris told reporters via conference call that, contrary to some expectations, the coronavirus will not wane during warmer seasons like the flu would. People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and… this one is behaving differently. Harris warned that there will be “one big wave” of coronavirus infections that will “go up and down a bit,” instead of several distinct waves one after another. “The best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something lapping at your feet,” she said.


Many European countries have been gradually lifting or relaxing their quarantine restrictions since May. Because there is still no vaccine, the governments are calibrating their Covid-19 response while bracing for a potential second wave of the infection. Asian countries, like China and South Korea, as well as several US states were forced to re-impose some of the lockdown measures after infection rates went up again and new coronavirus hotspots were discovered. Harris reiterated the call to slow the spread of the virus by avoiding mass gatherings. This has proven to be challenging in recent months due to recurring large-scale anti-racism and police brutality protests in a number of Western countries.

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Here’s looking at you, Jacinda Ardern?!

WHO Says Keeping Borders Shut To Thwart COVID-19 Not “Sustainable” (CBS)

Keeping borders closed to halt the spread of COVID-19 is unsustainable, the World Health Organization said Monday, urging countries to adopt comprehensive strategies based on local knowledge of where the virus is spreading. Border closures and travel restrictions remain an important part of many countries’ strategy to combat the novel coronavirus. At the same time, rising cases in a range of countries in Europe and elsewhere that had loosened measures after appearing to get their outbreaks under control have spurred discussions of possible fresh border closures. But the UN health body warned that such measures cannot be kept up indefinitely, and are also only useful when combined with a wide range of other measures to detect and break chains of transmission.

“Continuing to keep international borders sealed is not necessarily a sustainable strategy for the world’s economy, for the world’s poor, or for anybody else,” Michael Ryan, WHO emergencies director, told journalists in a virtual briefing. “It is going to be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders shut for the foreseeable future,” he said, pointing out that “economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume.” He acknowledged that when it comes to COVID-19, it is impossible to have a “global one size fits all policy” because outbreaks are developing differently in different countries. While countries with rampant community transmission may need to use the blunt instrument of lockdowns to gain control of the situation, others should be burrowing down to get a clear overview of where and how the virus is spreading at a local level.

They should be prepared to tighten or loosen measures accordingly, he said, warning against “releasing pressure” on the virus, which has killed some 650,000 people and infected 16.3 million worldwide.”Release pressure on the virus and the numbers can creep back up.” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said that instead of expecting drastic measures to keep the virus in check, people need to adapt their behaviours for the long haul. “What we’re going to have to figure out… is what our new normal looks like?” she told reporters. “Our new normal includes physical distancing from others, (and) wearing masks where appropriate,” she said. “Our new normal includes us knowing where this virus is each and every day, where we live, where we work, where we want to travel.”

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Wonder what the situation will be in one week, two weeks.

Six US States See Record COVID19 Deaths, Latinos Hit Hard In California (R.)

A half-dozen U.S. states in the South and West reported one-day records for coronavirus deaths on Tuesday and cases in Texas passed the 400,000 mark as California health officials said Latinos made up more than half its cases. Arkansas, California, Florida, Montana, Oregon and Texas each reported record spikes in fatalities. In the United States more than 1,300 lives were lost nation wide on Tuesday, the biggest one-day increase since May, according to a Reuters tally. California health officials said Latinos, who make up just over a third of the most populous U.S. state, account for 56% of COVID-19 infections and 46% of deaths. Cases are soaring in the Central Valley agricultural region, with its heavily Latino population, overwhelming hospitals. The state on Tuesday reported 171 deaths.


Florida saw 191 coronavirus deaths in the prior 24 hours, the state health department said. Texas added more than 6,000 new cases on Monday, pushing its total to 401,477, according to a Reuters tally. Only three other states – California, Florida and New York – have more than 400,000 total cases. The four are the most populous U.S. states. California and Texas both reported decreases in overall hospitalizations as Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top U.S. infectious diseases expert, saw signs the surge could be peaking in the South and West while other areas were on the cusp of new outbreaks. Fauci said early indications showed the percentage of positive coronavirus tests rising in Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky.

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Panic over low numbers.

Hong Kong Warns City On Verge Of Large Coronavirus Outbreak (R.)

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has warned the city is on the brink of a large-scale outbreak of the coronavirus and urged people to stay indoors as much as possible as strict new measures to curb the disease’s spread take effect on Wednesday. The new regulations ban gatherings of more than two people, close dining in restaurants and make the wearing of face masks mandatory in public places, including outdoors. These are the toughest measures introduced in the city since the outbreak. The government has also tightened testing and quarantine arrangements for sea and air crew members, effective on Wednesday.


“We are on the verge of a large-scale community outbreak, which may lead to a collapse of our hospital system and cost lives, especially of the elderly,” Lam said in a statement late on Tuesday. “In order to protect our loved ones, our healthcare staff and Hong Kong, I appeal to you to follow strictly the social distancing measures and stay at home as far as possible.” The new measures, which will be in place for at least seven days, were announced on Monday after the global financial hub saw a spike in locally transmitted cases over the past three weeks. On Tuesday, Hong Kong reported 106 new coronavirus cases, including 98 that were locally transmitted. Since late January, more than 2,880 people have been infected in the former British colony, 23 of whom have died.

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Imports of vast quantities of oil that was bought in April means China’s buying a whole lot less now. And their storage is rapidly filling up.

China’s Surging Crude Imports Mask Weakness In The Rest Of Asia (R.)

The ongoing flood of crude oil into China is obscuring the fact that demand in the rest of Asia remains weak, and that countries in the world’s top-consuming region didn’t join China is stocking up when prices slumped. China’s crude imports set consecutive records in May and June, and will remain at high levels in July and likely August too, as the massive volumes of oil bought during a brief price war in April enter the country. China imported 12.9 million barrels per day (bpd) in June, eclipsing the prior all-time high of 11.3 million bpd in May, according to official data. Imports for July may set a new record high, with Refinitiv Oil Research estimating 13.04 million bpd will be offloaded in the month.

Tracking China’s imports has been made more tricky by the sheer volume of tankers heading to, or waiting at, ports. Delays in discharging cargoes mean that August’s figures may get a bit of a boost from the earlier buying spree. Crude prices plunged to the lowest in 17 years in late April after Saudi Arabia and Russia, the leading producers in the group known as OPEC+, disagreed on whether to extend and deepen output cuts in a bid to support prices. The Saudis said they would sell as much oil as they could, and the sheer volume of oil being made available, coupled with the economic hit from the spreading novel coronavirus pandemic, saw benchmark Brent futures drop as low as $15.98 a barrel on April 22, some 78% down from this year’s peak of $71.75 in early January.

While the price war didn’t persist, with OPEC+ agreeing to extend and deepen output cuts, it did last long enough to give refiners an opportunity to stock up with bargain-basement crude. However, it appears that only Chinese refiners took up the offer, and perhaps trading houses with access to storage tanks, with many Asian buyers apparently more worried about the demand hit from the coronavirus than they were tempted by the low crude prices.

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OPEC, the whole structure of it, is not made for downsizing. It won’t survive it.

OPEC Prepares For An Age Of Dwindling Demand (R.)

The coronavirus crisis may have triggered the long-anticipated tipping point in oil demand and it is focusing minds in OPEC. The pandemic drove down daily crude consumption by as much as a third earlier this year, at a time when the rise of electric vehicles and a shift to renewable energy sources were already prompting downward revisions in forecasts for long-term oil demand. It has prompted some officials in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, oil’s most powerful proponent since it was founded 60 years ago, to ask whether this year’s dramatic demand destruction heralds a permanent shift and how best to manage supplies if the age of oil is drawing to a close.

“People are waking up to a new reality and trying to work their heads around it all,” an industry source close to OPEC told Reuters, adding the “possibility exists in the minds of all the key players” that consumption might never fully recover. Reuters interviewed seven current and former officials or other sources involved in OPEC, most of whom asked not to be named. They said this year’s crisis that sent oil below $16 a barrel had prompted OPEC and its 13 members to question long-held views on the demand growth outlook. Just 12 years ago, OPEC states were flush with cash when oil peaked above $145 a barrel as demand surged. Now it faces a dramatic adjustment if consumption starts a permanent decline. The group will need to manage even more closely its cooperation with other producers, such as Russia, to maximise falling revenues and will have to work to ensure relations inside the group are not frayed by any fratricidal dash to defend market share in a shrinking businesses.

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Their only real line is they compete with each other.

Nothing will happen, though, because they all work with and for US intelligence.

Big Tech CEOs To Defend Their Companies By Listing Competitors (R.)

The chief executives of four of the world’s largest tech companies, Amazon.com, Facebook, Apple and Alphabet’s Google , plan to argue in a congressional hearing on antitrust on Wednesday that they face intense competition from each other and from other rivals. The testimony from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Tim Cook, which was released Tuesday, portrays four chief executives who are looking over their shoulders at competitors who could render them obsolete. Pichai argued that search – which Google dominates by most metrics – was broader than just typing a query into Google, and said he remained concerned about being relevant as people turn to Twitter, Pinterest or other websites for information.

“We know Google’s continued success is not guaranteed. Google operates in highly competitive and dynamic global markets, in which prices are free or falling, and products are constantly improving,” Pichai said in the prepared remarks. The four will testify reut.rs/2DhrEFT to a panel of lawmakers investigating how their business practices and data gathering have hurt smaller rivals as they seek to retain their dominance, or expand. In his remarks, Bezos said Amazon occupies a small share of the overall retail market and competes with retailers like Walmart (WMT.N), which is twice its size. He also said the coronavirus pandemic boosted e-commerce businesses across the spectrum and not just Amazon.

Bezos also lays out how small sellers have succeeded on Amazon’s third-party marketplace, a practice that has come under scrutiny from lawmakers. In his prepared testimony, Zuckerberg argued that Facebook competes against other companies appearing at the hearing and against others globally. Zuckerberg will also defend Facebook’s acquisitions by saying the social media platform helped companies like WhatsApp and Instagram grow. Both are owned by Facebook. He will also remind lawmakers of the competitive threat U.S. tech companies face from China, saying that China is building its “own version of the internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries.”

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Investing in bankrupt companies. Thanks, Jay Powell.

“People Have Too Much Money To Play With” (BBG)

The warning to shareholders of newly bankrupt Ascena Retail Group Inc. could hardly have been more direct. There it is, in black-and-white, on page 5 of the court declaration filed by Ascena’s most senior official just hours into the case: “Existing common equity in Ascena will be canceled.” Full stop. Creditors will take ownership of the retail chain, which Ascena also made plain. So how did stock investors respond? By bidding up the shares just shy of 120%, on off-the-charts volume. It was a similar story for bankrupt Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. The airborne Wi-Fi service jumped more than 50% on July 24 after its court filing, despite warning shareholders earlier in July that they stood to lose everything to creditors in a Chapter 11 case.


And it hearkens back to Hertz Global Holdings Inc., whose stock became Example A of post-bankruptcy rallies. The persistent mania for busted companies baffles financial advisers. “What’s going on here? I really couldn’t tell you; it’s not something I would ever recommend to anyone,” said George Gagliardi at Coromandel Wealth Management in Lexington, Massachusetts. “People have too much money to play with,” said Dennis Nolte, an adviser at Florida’s Seacoast Investment Services. “Most of these traders won’t be around when the bankruptcy proceedings are complete. Just turn the light off when you leave the room, if the lights aren’t turned off by the utility company because there’s no money to pay the bill.”

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Bet you didn’t think the Council on Foreign Relations would come with this.

It Is Time to Abandon Dollar Hegemony (Foriegn Affairs)

In the 1960s, French Finance Minister Valéry Giscard d’Estaing complained that the dominance of the U.S. dollar gave the United States an “exorbitant privilege” to borrow cheaply from the rest of the world and live beyond its means. U.S. allies and adversaries alike have often echoed the gripe since. But the exorbitant privilege also entails exorbitant burdens that weigh on U.S. trade competitiveness and employment and that are likely to grow heavier and more destabilizing as the United States’ share of the global economy shrinks. The benefits of dollar primacy accrue mainly to financial institutions and big businesses, but the costs are generally borne by workers.

For this reason, continued dollar hegemony threatens to deepen inequality as well as political polarization in the United States. Dollar hegemony isn’t foreordained. For years, analysts have warned that China and other powers might decide to abandon the dollar and diversify their currency reserves for economic or strategic reasons. To date, there is little reason to think that global demand for dollars is drying up. But there is another way the United States could lose its status as issuer of the world’s dominant reserve currency: it could voluntarily abandon dollar hegemony because the domestic economic and political costs have grown too high.

The United States has already abandoned multilateral and security commitments during the administration of President Donald Trump—prompting international relations scholars to debate whether the country is abandoning hegemony in a broader strategic sense. The United States could abandon its commitment to dollar hegemony in a similar way: even if much of the rest of the world wants the United States to maintain the dollar’s role as a reserve currency—just as much of the world wants the United States to continue to provide security—Washington could decide that it can no longer afford to do so. It is an idea that has received surprisingly little discussion in policy circles, but it could benefit the United States and ultimately, the rest of the world.

The dollar’s dominance stems from the demand for it around the world. Foreign capital flows into the United States because it is a safe place to put money and because there are few other alternatives. These capital inflows dwarf those needed to finance trade many times over, and they cause the United States to run a large current account deficit. In other words, the United States is not so much living beyond its means as accommodating the world’s excess capital. Dollar hegemony also has domestic distributional consequences—that is, it creates winners and losers within the United States. The main winners are the banks that act as the intermediaries and recipients of the capital inflows and that exercise excessive influence over U.S economic policy. The losers are the manufacturers and the workers they employ. Demand for the dollar pushes up its value, which makes U.S. exports more expensive and curtails demand for them abroad, thus leading to earnings and job losses in manufacturing.

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Treason sounds big, any charge in that direction would suffice. Problem is, they have only 3 months left.

DOJ Could Pursue Treason Charges Over Russia Probe Misconduct – Steube (JTN)

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., sharply rebuked the FBI and suggested that the Department of Justice could potentially pursue charges of treason in connection with conduct related to the Trump-Russia investigation. “If it’s not clear to you now, it should be abundantly clear when these indictments start coming out for individuals involved in this through the Durham probe, that … this was a politicized, weaponized FBI at the highest level that was solely trying to take down a presidential campaign and then an incumbent president once he got sworn in—and that should scare every American,” Steube said during an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast.


The Florida Republican, an Army veteran who has worked as an Airborne Infantry Officer and JAG Corps Officer, said that he believes “the level to which this agency and these individuals were trying to thwart an incoming president, to me, is treasonous.” The congressman believes the DOJ should be able to pursue charges of lying to Congress—he also said that there should be consequences for “misrepresentations” before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Steube said that the FBI’s reputation has been severely damaged. “We’re not talking about individual agents operating in field offices across the country. We’re talking about the leadership of the FBI operating the FBI in a way that they’re deceiving the FISA Court, that they’re surveilling on American citizens for political purposes. And it completely discredited an agency that was once esteemed throughout law enforcement,” the congressman noted.

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First reaction: yes, sure, gag the victims.

Ironically, though, if the material IS widely distributed it may help Maxwell in trying to have the case thrown out.

Ghislaine Maxwell Fights To Keep Nude Photos And Sexualised Videos Secret (RT)

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, accused of grooming underage girls for pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, has requested a gag order against prosecutors to keep evidence including naked photos and ‘sexualised’ videos private. Maxwell, 58, was arrested earlier in July and is scheduled to be tried for sex-trafficking offenses in a Manhattan federal court in July next year. She has pleaded not guilty to charges that she’d groomed and aided the abuse by Epstein of at least three girls throughout the 1990s. Court documents show that Maxwell’s lawyers want to keep the evidence, which they describe as “highly confidential information” and including “nude, partially-nude, or otherwise sexualised images, videos or depictions of individuals” private, to prevent it appearing online and potentially impacting a series of civil lawsuits leveled against her by survivors of Epstein’s abuse.


“There is a substantial concern that these individuals will seek to use discovery materials to support their civil cases and future public statements,” Maxwell’s attorney Christian Everdell, the prosecutor who brought Mexican drug cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to justice, explained. The proposed order, submitted Monday, is somewhat routine in sex-abuse cases but prosecutors have refused the request that witnesses and lawyers in the trial would be subject to any gag orders, and are expected to reply officially later on Tuesday. “The defense believes that potential government witnesses and their counsel should be subject to the same restrictions as the defense concerning appropriate use of the discovery materials – namely, if these individuals are given access to discovery materials during trial preparation, they may not use those materials for any purpose other than preparing for trial in the criminal case, and may not post those materials on the Internet,” the affidavit said.

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Two cases came before a court on the 27th. One on London, and one in Madrid. Spying on clients and their attorneys, spying on a president, it should be enough to have the entire case vs Assange thrown out.

Assange Spied On Like ‘In A Film,’ Lawyer Says (Rap)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was spied on while holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London like “in a film,” his lawyer Baltasar Garzon said Monday, July 27, after testifying at a top Spanish court probing the allegations. Assange, who is in a British prison after being removed from the embassy last year, filed a lawsuit against private Spanish security firm Undercover Global, accusing it of spying on him and passing the information to the United States. The company was in charge of providing security at the embassy during the bulk of the seven years which the 49-year-old Australian spent inside the building.

Garzon, a prominent former Spanish judge, said he had seen images taken inside of the embassy of Assange talking to his lawyers which were allegedly recorded by the company. “This is scandalous, we think this only happens in spy movies but this is not a spy movie because someone’s life is at stake,” he told reporters after testifying at Spain’s National Court in Madrid. Assange has accused the firm of gathering information on him through video cameras and hidden microphones, copying identity documents and monitoring visitors’ mobile phones, and then passing the information to the US intelligence services. The lawsuit is key to Assange’s efforts to fight an extradition request by the US Justice Department which wants to put him on trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

Garzon said Assange’s legal team has provided British courts with information about the alleged spying because it has “a direct impact on the extradition and shows, in our view, that Julian Assange was the target of political persecution.” Assange’s extradition hearing will take place on September 7. Spain’s National Court in June opened an investigation into a complaint by Ecuador’s ex-president Rafael Correa that Undercover Global also spied on him. Correa accuses the firm, which provided him with security services until 2019, of “monitoring and taking photos” of his meetings with Garzon, who made global headlines in 1998 when former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London.

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The law has been rendered meaningless. Therefore, so have the courts that are tasked with upholding it. That is not a trifle matter.

It’s Not Assange Who Should Be Facing Prosecution (Can.)

On 27 July two court hearings took place – one in the UK, the other in Spain. Both concerned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. From their proceedings, it became clear that it’s not Assange who should be facing prosecution, but the current office holder of the US presidency and his associates. At the 27 July ‘administrative hearing’ at Westminster magistrates court, Judge Vanessa Baraitser stated that the prosecution had failed to present its latest ‘superseding indictment‘. That superseding indictment was first made public on 24 June, just prior to the last court hearing, though the prosecution failed to submit the document to that hearing too. Defence lawyer Edward Fitzgerald made it clear to the court that he was concerned the prosecution might still try to present the superseding indictment later, so as to delay the extradition hearings. He argued:

“We are concerned about a fresh request being made at this stage with the potential consequence of derailing proceedings and that the US attorney-general is doing this for political reasons.” Indeed, prosecution barrister Joel Smith refused to comply with any timeline to serve the superseding indictment. However, Baraitser told Smith that the deadline to submit the superseding indictment had passed. Controversially, the superseding indictment provided testimony from known (but unnamed) FBI informants, both of whom have criminal convictions and were engaged in entrapment operations. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the prosecution did not formally present a copy of the superseding indictment to the court. What the judge did not address, however, is that by publishing the superseding indictment on the internet, the US department of justice may have prejudiced the case against Assange – and that could be grounds for dismissal of all charges.

Meanwhile in Spain, the prosecution of David Morales, who is charged with organising the surveillance of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, proceeds, with testimony from former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who is representing Assange. Morales, via his company UC Global, is also accused of providing that surveillance to US intelligence services. Assange lawyer Geoffrey Robertson commented that the surveillance constituted a “serious crime in European law”. Also monitored were meetings between Assange and some of his other lawyers, including Melinda Taylor, Jennifer Robinson, and Garzón. Surveillance also included logging of visitors, such as Gareth Peirce, another of Assange’s lawyers, as well as a seven-hour session between Assange and his legal team on 19 June 2016.

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