Jul 032021
 


Julian Assange turns 50 today, in isolation

 

Polymerase-specific T Cells Expand In Seronegative SARS-CoV-2 Infection (Mxiv)
Clot Death Risk To 18-39s From AZ Vaccine Is 2x Covid Death Risk (IE)
French Senate Considers Mandatory Covid Vaccines For Adults Aged 24-59 (RT)
Bali Swept Up In Indonesia’s Harsh Lockdown Despite 71% Vaccination Rate (RT)
Tech Giants Still Not Coming Clean About Covid-19 Disinformation, Says EU (TC)
Vatican In Push Against Vaccine Scepticism (RT)
“Intellectual Capture?” On YouTube’s Demonetization of Bret Weinstein (Taibbi)
Stumbling Toward Reality (Kunstler)
Natural Resource Drain Created By “Net Zero Emission” Targets (ZH)
Biden Aide Charges “Sabotage” Of Harris (Axios)
New Emails Raise New Allegations of Influence Peddling By Hunter Biden (Turley)
Key Assange Witness Recants – With Zero Corporate Media Coverage (Fair)

 

 

Delta Case Fatality Rate in UK appears 8 times higher among the fully vaccinated than the unvaccinated

 

 

Early intervention

 

 

In the strongest immune systems, T cells kill the virus so fast the body has no time (or reason) to create antibodies. So an antibody test will raise an alarm: there are none! A PCR test will likely show the virus though, even though it’s dead. You can’t win. Both test results will lead to a call for a vaccine.

Polymerase-specific T Cells Expand In Seronegative SARS-CoV-2 Infection (Mxiv)

Individuals with likely exposure to the highly infectious SARS-CoV-2 do not necessarily develop PCR or antibody positivity, suggesting some may clear sub-clinical infection before seroconversion. T cells can contribute to the rapid clearance of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronavirus infections1–5 . We hypothesised that pre-existing memory T cell responses, with cross-protective potential against SARS-CoV-26–12, would expand in vivo to mediate rapid viral control, potentially aborting infection. We studied T cells against the replication transcription complex (RTC) of SARS-CoV-2 since this is transcribed first in the viral life cycle13–15 and should be highly conserved. We measured SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells in a cohort of intensively

monitored healthcare workers (HCW) who remained repeatedly negative by PCR, antibody binding, and neutralisation for SARS-CoV-2 (exposed seronegative, ES). 16-weeks postrecruitment, ES had memory T cells that were stronger and more multispecific than an unexposed pre-pandemic cohort, and more frequently directed against the RTC than the structural protein-dominated responses seen post-detectable infection (matched concurrent cohort). The postulate that HCW with the strongest RTC-specific T cells had an abortive infection was supported by a low-level increase in IFI27 transcript, a robust early innate signature of SARS-CoV-2 infection16.

We showed that the RNA-polymerase within RTC was the largest region of high sequence conservation across human seasonal coronaviruses (HCoV) and was preferentially targeted by T cells from UK and Singapore pre-pandemic cohorts and from ES. RTC epitope-specific T cells capable of cross-recognising HCoV variants were identified in ES. Longitudinal samples from ES and an additional validation cohort, showed pre-existing RNA-polymerase-specific T cells expanded in vivo following SARS-CoV-2 exposure, becoming enriched in the memory response of those with abortive compared to overt infection. In summary, we provide evidence of abortive seronegative SARS-CoV-2 infection with expansion of cross-reactive RTC-specific T cells, highlighting these highly conserved proteins as targets for future vaccines against endemic and emerging Coronaviridae.

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But the benefits still outweigh the risks, says the Irish health body. Who are these people?

Clot Death Risk To 18-39s From AZ Vaccine Is 2x Covid Death Risk (IE)

The HSE has admitted a greater risk of blood clotting in younger people still exists for the AstraZeneca vaccine, but that risk is now outweighed by a need to speed up public vaccination. A new modelling study published in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) medical journal has concluded that the dangers presented to younger people by the AstraZeneca vaccine are greater than the benefits. The study, published in the weekly edition of the Eurosurveillance journal, models four months of a vaccine distribution strategy in France involving Vaxzevria (commonly called AstraZeneca) from May 2021, and concludes that using the vaccine on the entire adult population there would avert 10 deaths from Covid among 18-39-year-olds, but would be associated with 21 deaths from blood clotting in the same age grouping over the same time period.


“Our results highlight the clear benefit of the distribution of Vaxzevria towards the population aged 55 years and older and provide valuable insight for public health decision making,” the study concludes. Last April, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee’s (Niac) recommended that AstraZeneca should only be given to people over the age of 60 in Ireland due to the risk of very rare blood clots and the fact older people are more susceptible to severe Covid infection than their younger counterparts. The move followed a wave of similar decisions across other European health bodies as details of the clotting risk solidified. However, in light of dire projections earlier in the week from Nphet concerning the potential spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19, the HSE announced that from Monday, July 5, all 18-34-year-olds will be able to avail of Janssen vaccines, administered by 750 pharmacies.

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Illegal. Simple.

French Senate Considers Mandatory Covid Vaccines For Adults Aged 24-59 (RT)

The French Senate is considering implementing obligatory vaccinations for those aged 24-59 to help the country weather the anticipated next spike of coronavirus infections in what would be a fourth wave of cases. The body published a report from its Common Mission of Information on Thursday, advocating for mandatory vaccinations of young to middle-aged adults on the grounds it could significantly lower hospitalization rates and deaths. The report issued a stern warning: “act now to limit impact”. The report follows Prime Minister Jean Castex’s announcement on Wednesday that he will consult elected officials and chairmen of parliament on the compulsory vaccination of caregivers, with senators pushing for this to also include 24-59 year olds.


The age group was chosen as over 90% of people infected with Covid are under 60 in France, the Pasteur Institute said. To prevent hospitalization rates rising like last year, the Institute found that among 12-17 year-olds, a 30% vaccination rate was needed, and 70% among 18-59s. A vaccine uptake of 90% for those over 60 was deemed necessary. However, France’s vaccination campaign – which has prioritized those most susceptible to catching Covid, such as healthcare workers and people over 65 – is lagging behind these targets. Among 18-29 year-olds, 15.36% are fully vaccinated. Just under a quarter of those aged 30-49 have been inoculated, while the figure rises to half among 50-64 year olds.

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260 million people stretched out over countless islands. Give them IVM.

Bali Swept Up In Indonesia’s Harsh Lockdown Despite 71% Vaccination Rate (RT)

Hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints have been erected across Indonesia as authorities attempt to enforce a harsh lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, which has surged in the country in recent weeks. “We are setting up [patrols] in 21 locations where typically there are crowds,” Istiono, the head of Indonesia’s national traffic police, who goes by only one name, told reporters on Friday night. “Where there are street stalls and cafes, we will close those streets, maybe from around 6pm until 4am.” The beefed-up patrols and roadblocks will focus on the islands of Java – the country’s most populous, where the national capital of Jakarta is located – as well as Bali, a common tourist destination.

Some 21,000 police officers and soldiers will enforce the new restrictions, according to a police spokesman cited by Reuters. They will also administer random coronavirus tests at checkpoints. The move comes soon after President Joko Widodo declared a new lockdown earlier on Friday, set to last into late July, though it could be extended. The order requires all “non-essential” businesses to shut their doors, while Java- and Bali-based students will have to learn from home if possible. Parks, malls, indoor restaurants and places of worship, among other public spaces, have also been closed.= Some exceptions were made for those who are both vaccinated and test negative for the virus, as they were permitted to travel long-distance in the affected areas.

Indonesia is currently facing one of Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, tallying more than 20,000 cases each day in recent weeks – many believed linked to the Delta variant first observed in India – and that only accounts for those verified by testing. The country has smashed its own daily infection record for the last 12 days, according to Reuters, reporting 25,830 cases on Friday, as well as a high of 539 fatalities. While a national vaccination drive is underway, largely relying on a shot developed by China’s SinoVac, only about 5% of Indonesia’s 260 million-strong population has been fully immunized against the virus, according to figures compiled by Our World in Data. That amounts to about 13.7 million people.

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“They simply cannot police themselves alone.” Orwell.

Tech Giants Still Not Coming Clean About Covid-19 Disinformation, Says EU (TC)

European Union lawmakers have asked tech giants to continue reporting on efforts to combat the spread of vaccine disinformation on their platforms for a further six months. “The continuation of the monitoring programme is necessary as the vaccination campaigns throughout the EU is proceeding with a steady and increasing pace, and the upcoming months will be decisive to reach a high level of vaccination in Member States. It is key that in this important period vaccine hesitancy is not fuelled by harmful disinformation,” the Commission writes today. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, TikTok and Twitter are signed up to make monthly reports as a result of being participants in the bloc’s (non-legally binding) Code of Practice on Disinformation — although, going forward, they’ll be switching to bi-monthly reporting.


Publishing the latest batch of platform reports for April, the Commission said the tech giants have shown they’re unable to police “dangerous lies” by themselves — while continuing to express dissatisfaction at the quality and granularity of the data that is being (voluntarily) provided by platforms vis-à-via how they’re combating online disinformation generally. “These reports show how important it is to be able to effectively monitor the measures put in place by the platforms to reduce disinformation,” said Vera Jourova, the EU’s VP for values and transparency, in a statement. “We decided to extend this programme, because the amount of dangerous lies continues to flood our information space and because it will inform the creation of the new generation Code against disinformation. We need a robust monitoring programme, and clearer indicators to measure impact of actions taken by platforms. They simply cannot police themselves alone.”

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You would think the pope has better thinngs to do?!

Vatican In Push Against Vaccine Scepticism (RT)

The official bioethics academy of the Catholic Church has come forward alongside a host of global medical associations to demand an end to the “myths and disinformation” interfering with the fight against Covid-19. The Pontifical Council of Life (VPCL) and several international physicians’ groups spoke with reporters on Friday in what was described as an “all-out effort” to set straight the disinformation surrounding the vaccine’s place in religious doctrine, insisting the pharmaceutical mixture was not only safe and effective but also ethical under the Catholic faith. While acknowledging that some reluctance to take the jab in “disadvantaged communities” was linked to previous “breaches of trust in medical research” and overall “suspicion” of pharma firms, Friday’s joint statement said a “more pernicious form” of vaccine hesitancy was fueled by “unfounded and misleading claims and myths” and amplified on social media.


“Considered one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine, vaccines play a vital role in the prevention of infectious diseases,” they said. The groups noted the problem becomes even more complex given the vaccine skepticism within many religious groups, and even the medical community, calling for a united front against disinformation among spiritual leaders and healthcare professionals. All relevant stakeholders must exhaust all efforts to confront vaccine hesitancy by sending a clear message about the safety and necessity of vaccines and counteracting vaccine myths and disinformation The statement followed a day-long online seminar sponsored by the VPCL, along with the World Medical Association of France and the German Medical Association.

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Fitting on Assange’s Bday.

“Intellectual Capture?” On YouTube’s Demonetization of Bret Weinstein (Taibbi)

YouTube’s decision with regard to Weinstein and Heying seems part of an overall butterfly effect, as numerous other figures either connected to the topic or to DarkHorse have been censured by various platforms. Weinstein guest Dr. Robert Malone, a former Salk Institute researcher often credited with helping develop mRNA vaccine technology, has been suspended from LinkedIn, and Weinstein guest Dr. Pierre Kory of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) has had his appearances removed by YouTube. Even Satoshi Omura, who won the Nobel Prize in 2015 for his work on ivermectin, reportedly had a video removed by YouTube this week. There are several factors that make the DarkHorse incident different from other major Silicon Valley moderation decisions, including the fact that the content in question doesn’t involve electoral politics, foreign intervention, or incitement.

The main issue is the possible blurring of lines between public and private censorship. When I contacted YouTube about Weinstein two weeks ago, I was told, “In general, we rely on guidance from local and global health authorities (FDA, CDC, WHO, NHS, etc) in developing our COVID-19 misinformation policies.” The question is, how active is that “guidance”? Is YouTube acting in consultation with those bodies in developing those moderation policies? As Weinstein notes, an answer in the affirmative would likely make theirs a true First Amendment problem, with an agency like the CDC not only setting public health policy but also effectively setting guidelines for private discussion about those policies. “If it is in consultation with the government,” he says, “it’s an entirely different issue.”

Asked specifically after Weinstein’s demonetization if the “guidance” included consultation with authorities, YouTube essentially said yes, pointing to previous announcements that they consult other authorities, and adding, “When we develop our policies we consult outside experts and YouTube creators. In the case of our COVID-19 misinformation policies, it would be guidance from local and global health authorities.”

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“Dr. Fauci’s role looks like a species of generic egomania with a top hat of greed (considering his financial interests in vaccines).”

Stumbling Toward Reality (Kunstler)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who answers to the title “The Science” in certain circles, said this week that there are going to be two Americas, the vaxed and the unvaxed. Earth to Dr. Fauci: we are already two Americas: the reality-onboard and the reality-optional. One reality is that vaccines developed at “warp speed” appear to have gnarly side-effects that can outweigh the risk of the disease they’re engineered to protect against. Another reality is that the Delta variant of SARS-Covid-19 is more contagious, but also weaker, less likely to result in hospitalization among the unvaxed. Yet another reality is that the Delta variant also infects the fully-vaccinated. Oh, what to do?

Consider not allowing yourself to be jerked around by US health officials who have trouble keeping their story straight, for instance, Dr. Anthony Fauci (a.k.a. The Science) who, records show, apparently assisted the bio-warfare division of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at the Wuhan lab in the development of a world-beating, gain-of-function bat virus — which, halfway through year-two of its run, seems to be following the usual trajectory of viral epidemics by growing weaker before it disappears altogether. And then we’ll see what happens longer-term among the vaxed, who were subjected to flurries of toxic spike proteins.

It’s the opinion of some — though not myself — that the Covid-19 episode was unleashed upon the world to allow “the elite” to execute a “controlled demolition of the global economy” so as to quash climate change (by reducing carbon emissions), and therefore ensure a brighter future for said elite, while cruelly throwing the rest of the world’s population overboard. Oh, I dunno…. Klaus Schwab and his minions of The Great Reset seem more like hapless control freaks than persons actually able to control anything, least of all the whole world. Dr. Fauci’s role looks like a species of generic egomania with a top hat of greed (considering his financial interests in vaccines). The reality is that the global economy, such as it’s a high-tech industrial economy, is shooting its own wad very nicely without a whole lot of assistance from alleged nefarious parties.

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Green turns sour.

Natural Resource Drain Created By “Net Zero Emission” Targets (ZH)

While the idea of implementing net zero emissions by certain deadlines has sounded great for the companies, countries and states that have set targets, the reality of making it happen is slightly more difficult. That’s what the U.K. is finding out after Natural History Museum Head of Earth Sciences Prof Richard Herrington penned a letter to the Committee on Climate Change on the vast amount of natural resources that will be necessary to make the conversion. The letter was delivered to Baroness Brown, who chairs the Adaption Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change. In addition to noting that the U.K. would need a 20% increase in UK-generated electricity, the release also notes that “to meet UK electric car targets for 2050 we would need to produce just under two times the current total annual world cobalt production, nearly the entire world production of neodymium, three quarters the world’s lithium production and at least half of the world’s copper production.”

The letter reads: “The urgent need to cut CO2 emissions to secure the future of our planet is clear, but there are huge implications for our natural resources not only to produce green technologies like electric cars but keep them charged. “Over the next few decades, global supply of raw materials must drastically change to accommodate not just the UK’s transformation to a low carbon economy, but the whole world’s. Our role as scientists is to provide the evidence for how best to move towards a zero-carbon economy – society needs to understand that there is a raw material cost of going green and that both new research and investment is urgently needed for us to evaluate new ways to source these. This may include potentially considering sources much closer to where the metals are to be used.”

It then points out obvious challenges in meeting the needs of converting all cars and vans to electric vehicles, especially as it relates to cobalt: To replace all UK-based vehicles today with electric vehicles (not including the LGV and HGV fleets), assuming they use the most resource-frugal next-generation NMC 811 batteries, would take 207,900 tonnes cobalt, 264,600 tonnes of lithium carbonate (LCE), at least 7,200 tonnes of neodymium and dysprosium, in addition to 2,362,500 tonnes copper. This represents, just under two times the total annual world cobalt production, nearly the entire world production of neodymium, three quarters the world’s lithium production and at least half of the world’s copper production during 2018. Even ensuring the annual supply of electric vehicles only, from 2035 as pledged, will require the UK to annually import the equivalent of the entire annual cobalt needs of European industry.

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Strange battle going on.

Biden Aide Charges “Sabotage” Of Harris (Axios)

Top White House officials are mobilizing to defend Vice President Kamala Harris amid a gusher of leaks about dysfunction and infighting in her office. Driving the news: White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told Axios in a statement: “The President’s trust and confidence in her is obvious when you see them in the Oval Office together.” Biden senior adviser Cedric Richmond said in an interview late Thursday night: “It’s a whisper campaign designed to sabotage her.” Their responses came after Axios approached the White House with new reporting about growing tensions between West Wing officials and the Harris team, including chief of staff Tina Flournoy.

Some White House officials have been frustrated by a series of missteps from Harris and increasingly public bickering in her orbit, which spilled out in a Politico story on Wednesday. Flournoy’s old boss, former President Bill Clinton, came to her defense with a statement calling her “an extraordinary person. 2024 is the elephant in the room. While Biden aides overwhelmingly believe he’ll be the Democratic nominee, they also know he’d be 81 when seeking re-election. An operation sometimes visibly out of sync with Biden’s — and missteps during a recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, following a scrutinized interview with NBC’s Lester Holt — have reignited questions from Harris’ 2020 primary bid.

Harris would be the presumptive nominee if Biden didn’t run. Administration sources believe it would be nearly impossible to unseat the first Black woman vice president. Yet many Democrats, including some current senior administration officials, are concerned she could not defeat whomever the Republican Party puts up — even if it were Donald Trump. One Democratic operative tells Axios’ Alayna Treene that most Democrats aren’t saying, “‘Oh, no, our heir apparent is f***ing up, what are we gonna do?’ It’s more that people think, ‘Oh, she’s f***ing up, maybe she shouldn’t be the heir apparent.'” Some Democrats close to the White House are increasingly concerned about Harris’s handling of high-profile issues and political tone deafness, and question her ability to maintain the coalition that Biden rode to the White House, sources tell Axios’ Hans Nichols.

Relations between the West Wing and the Vice President’s office are tense. Several administration officials used “shitshow” when describing Harris’ office, and contrast her operation with disciplined, virtually leakproof Biden aides. Some Biden officials view the Harris operation as poorly-managed and staffed with people who don’t have long-term relationships with her. They feel she’s gotten bad advice from her press and communications shop and think it’s telling that she’s already lost two advance aides and a digital director.

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“It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious.”

New Emails Raise New Allegations of Influence Peddling By Hunter Biden (Turley)

The new emails include references to the use of Air Force II by Hunter Biden to pursue the deals — a similar pattern revealed with regard to the China dealings. The emails detail a number of visits to Mexico, including a February 2016 flight on Air Force II with his father. On the plane was his business partner Jeff Cooper, who ran Illinois-based SimmonsCooper. That is one of the largest asbestos litigation firms in the country and Hunter was given 3 percent of Cooper’s venture capital firm Eudora Global, according to emails. President Biden’s brother (who featured in past controversial deals) was also reportedly involved in some of these efforts. These dealings continued into 2018 as Hunter pushed for deals with Slim. One text message from July 24, 2018 reads “Spoke to my dad about ‘Slim ask” and Cooper responds “Oh that sounds SO F’ING GOOD.”

It obviously does not sound quite so good if you are a reporter who has been repeatedly assured by President Biden that he had no knowledge or involvement in any dealings with Hunter. That was previously refuted by various sources. Hunter himself contradicted his father’s repeated denial. Then there are the emails referring to the “Big Guy”, which witnesses say was Joe Biden. Then there is Tony Bobulinski who stated that he personally met with Joe Biden to discuss Hunter’s business dealings. Bobulinski is repeatedly praised by Hunter Biden in the emails and identified as the person in control of transactions for “the family.” He has directly contradicted Joe Biden’s denial of any knowledge or involvement in his son’s dubious dealings.

The new emails contain additional information directly contradicting President Biden. In addition to earlier pictures from golf trips and references to his involvement or knowledge, new material refers to a notable dinner arranged in Washington, D.C. Hunter arranged for then Vice President Biden to have dinner on April 16, 2015 with his Ukrainian, Russian and Kazakhstani business associates. They appropriately chose a private room at Café Milano, a Georgetown restaurant that brags that it is “Where the world’s most powerful people go.” After the dinner, Hunter received an email from Vadym Pozharskyi, an executive with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, to thank him for introducing him to his father: “Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure.”

It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. Presumably, however, this story will result in another run to the nearest ice cream shop for breathless coverage on the current frozen delights of the President.

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Lots of similarities between Assange coverage and that of vaccines.

Key Assange Witness Recants – With Zero Corporate Media Coverage (Fair)

A key witness in the Department of Justice’s case against Julian Assange has admitted that his entire testimony is false, a revelation that could be the death knell for US attempts to prosecute the Wikileaks founder. Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, often known as “Siggi the Hacker,” made the confession to Icelandic outlet Stundin (6/26/21) last weekend. The article details how Thordarson, a convicted felon, pedophile and diagnosed sociopath, used his position to steal money from Wikileaks, and received immunity from prosecution from the FBI in a quid pro quo. Such a blatant and juicy piece of important news should have made worldwide headlines. But, instead, as of Friday, July 2, there has been literally zero coverage of it in corporate media; not one word in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC News, Fox News or NPR.

A search online for either “Assange” or “Thordarson” will elicit zero relevant articles from establishment sources, either US or elsewhere in the Anglosphere, even in tech-focused platforms like the Verge, Wired or Gizmodo. The other major development in the case, according to the Canary (6/30/21), is Jeremy Corbyn delivering a letter from 20 MPs to the prison where Assange is held, demanding the right to visit him and treating him as a political prisoner. The news is not some sort of esoteric knowledge known only to those carefully watching Icelandic affairs. The story trended worldwide on Twitter on the weekend, with a number of prominent accounts or figures like Wikileaks itself, Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald tweeting about it.

Not only that, Thordarson’s confession was well covered by alternative news sites with a tiny fraction of the resources establishment media have (e.g., Consortium News, 6/27/21; World Socialist Web Site, 6/27/21; Canary, 6/30/21). The story led Democracy Now!’s Monday show (6/28/21), which featured an in-depth interview with Assange’s legal advisor, Jennifer Robinson. This distinction once again highlights the gaping chasm between corporate and alternative media, suggesting that certain subjects are simply no-go zones for the former. It is not that the corporate press are completely uninterested in Assange. A number of outlets have covered the news this week that he and his partner Stella Morris are planning to get married (e.g., SBS, 6/27/21; Daily Mail, 6/28/21; Evening Standard, 6/28/21; London Times, 6/29/21). Yet none of these articles mentioned the far more consequential news about Thordarson and how it undermines the entire prosecution of Assange.

Read more …

 

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Dec 122020
 


Laura Gilpin The Rio Grande Yields Its Surplus to the Sea 1947

 

UK Scientists Identify Drugs That May Help Severe COVID Cases (G.)
AstraZeneca To Collaborate With Russia’s Sputnik V On COVID19 Vaccine (RT)
FDA Authorizes Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine For Emergency Use (JTN)
More Than Half Of New York’s Restaurants Are In Danger Of Closing (Eater)
Gov. Cuomo Suspends Indoor Dining In New York City (Fox)
US Supreme Court Rejects Texas Challenge To Election (JTN)
Sometimes Life Really is Like a Bad Dream (Kunstler)
Media, Big Tech Hunter Biden Laptop Story Not A Bug, But A Feature (Malic)
The YouTube Ban Is Un-American, Wrong, and Will Backfire (Taibbi)
Pandemic Exposes Global Fault Lines And How Australia Rose Above Them (SMH)
CBO: Medicare for All Could Cover Everyone for $650 Billion Less Per Year (CD)
Email To Hunter Biden Raises Fresh Questions About His Tax Dealings (NBC)
£350,000 House Taken Off Market After Banksy Paints Mural On It (ArtN)

 

 

 

 

Promising. But I would focus on drugs that prevent infection. Ivermectin.

UK Scientists Identify Drugs That May Help Severe COVID Cases (G.)

The research, by the global Genetics of Mortality in Critical Care (GenOMICC) consortium, compared the DNA of 2,244 critically ill Covid patients from 208 UK intensive care units with the genetic make-up of healthy individuals in a control group. The analysis revealed key differences in five genes, named IFNAR2, TYK2, OAS1, DPP9 and CCR2, which partially explained why the sick patients became critically ill. Having identified the troublesome genes, the team was able to predict what drug treatments were likely to help. One drug that holds promise for future Covid treatment is a rheumatoid arthritis medicine called baricitinib. This reduces the activity of TYK2, which the research suggests will help reduce dangerous levels of inflammation in the lungs. Another is an antibody-based medicine that blocks CCR2 and is in clinical trials for psoriasis.

Beyond calming down the immune system, drugs may help invigorate the body’s ability to fight the virus. Some compounds are known to boost the activity of Ifnar2 and are likely to protect people from serious infections by mimicking proteins released by the immune system to fight viruses. However, these would probably need to be given early on to have a substantial impact, the scientists said. “This is a wonderful breakthrough, really, in understanding what causes the severe disease,” said Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London and a co-author on the study. The findings have been shared with groups around the world who are running clinical trials to assess whether drugs that are already in use for other conditions can help save patients with severe Covid-19 disease.

Baillie said that drugs highlighted by the research should now become the top priority for inclusion in clinical trials. “Making those choices really matters,” he said. “If we choose the right intervention to try next in clinical trials then we’ll find out that it works sooner and that could save tens of thousands of lives.” The study is published in Nature. People with Covid-19 tend to develop symptoms as the virus multiplies in their body, but those who die often succumb to excessive lung inflammation which is driven by the immune system. Doctors running Oxford University’s Recovery trial discovered in the summer that the cheap steroid dexamethasone slashed deaths among patients needing supplemental oxygen by up to a third, by damping down the immune system.

But more drugs are needed to help patients who do not respond to the steroid, Baillie said. “Two-thirds of them are still dying even treated with dexamethasone, so there’s a long way to go in preventing that inflammation, and we really urgently need new targets,” he said.

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“It remains to be seen how the Western media will cover the news that the UK’s flagship formula is turning to the East in a bid to improve its efficacy.”

AstraZeneca To Collaborate With Russia’s Sputnik V On COVID19 Vaccine (RT)

British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has announced a partnership with the team behind the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine to explore the potential of combining its own experimental formula with the pioneering Russian product. The agreement, revealed on Friday morning, came after the Russian scientists took to Twitter to propose that AstraZeneca try the combination. They said it was worth experimenting with the model preferred by Moscow researchers and using two different types of injection, rather than relying on the same one twice, as AstraZeneca has done previously. In a statement to the press, the British company unveiled “a clinical trial programme to assess the safety and immunogenicity of a combination of AZD1222, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and Sputnik V, developed by the Russian Gamaleya Research institute.”

They added that “combinations of different Covid-19 vaccines may be an important step in generating wider protection through a stronger immune response and better accessibility.” Responding to the news, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which financed the Gamaleya Institute’s research, wrote that it was “an example of Russia’s proactive approach: it has not only created one of the world’s most effective vaccines to date against the coronavirus, but is ready to share Sputnik V vectors with those willing to produce vaccines using the two-vector technology.” “This unique example of cooperation between scientists from different countries in jointly fighting coronavirus will play a decisive role in achieving a final victory over the pandemic globally,” Kirill Dmitriev, the fund’s CEO added, saying that Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is already saving people’s lives in Russia today through a large-scale vaccination programme.

“The decision by AstraZeneca to carry out clinical trials using one of two vectors of Sputnik V in order to increase its own vaccine’s efficacy is an important step towards uniting efforts in the fight against the pandemic.” [..] The UK media has previously drawn criticism for its coverage of Sputnik V. Earlier this week, the BBC reported that it had been “rushed out to wary Russians,” while remaining far more positive about the start of immunizations in the country using US pharma giant Pfizer’s vaccine. It remains to be seen how the Western media will cover the news that the UK’s flagship formula is turning to the East in a bid to improve its efficacy.

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Warp speed approval. But more research needs to be done on vitamin D?

FDA Authorizes Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine For Emergency Use (JTN)

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and authorized it for emergency use in the United States. It is the first vaccine to be approved for use in the U.S., and it followed an FDA advisory committee’s endorsement of the shot for people age 16 and older. The vaccine was found to be 95% effective, with only mild side effects. Earlier Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar had said that people could be receiving the vaccine as early as next Monday. It was previously approved for use in the United Kingdom and Canada. President Trump announced the approval on Twitter, thanking all the scientists and medical professionals who participated in the Operation Warp Speed project that gave rise to the fastest vaccine development in history.

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Remember yesterday’s quote:

“..communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted.”

More Than Half Of New York’s Restaurants Are In Danger Of Closing (Eater)

Across the country, restaurants have been decimated by the pandemic. But according to a new survey conducted by the New York State Restaurant Association, in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, New York restaurants are hurting more from the economic crisis in comparison to the industry nationwide. According to the survey — which polled 6,000 restaurant operators, including 238 in New York, over the last two weeks of November – 54 percent of NY restauranteurs say it is likely that they will close in the next six months if another federal relief package does not come through, compared to 37 percent nationwide. Nearly 60 percent of NY operators say they are considering going into hibernation until the pandemic is over, compared to 36 percent nationwide.


The operating landscape has been extremely tough for NYC restaurateurs throughout the pandemic. Restaurants in the city are currently operating at 25 percent indoor capacity with a 10 p.m. nightly curfew, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has warned that indoor dining could be completely banned starting next week. Overall, the National Restaurant Association estimates that one in six restaurants across the country have already permanently shuttered due to the economic crisis amid the pandemic. If the estimate is accurate, that would mean that 8,333 restaurants, including 4,500 establishments in NYC, have permanently shut down so far, according to the New York State Restaurant Association. However, the true number of restaurant closures during the pandemic may not be fully known for years.

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Warped logic:

“Just 1.43% of cases were traced to bars and restaurants. Cuomo said he opted to shutter indoor dining despite the relatively low proportion of cases because it was an area where officials “can actually make a difference..”

Gov. Cuomo Suspends Indoor Dining In New York City (Fox)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced that indoor dining would be shut down again in New York City, even as the state released contract-tracing data which showed bars and restaurants accounted for just 1.43% of COVID-19 cases in the three months ending in November. “Indoor dining will close in New York City starting Monday,” Cuomo announced, citing an increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. “Hospitalizations have not stabilized, and with a rising infection rate and NYC’s density, this means that indoor dining is too high of a risk,” he said. “Takeout, delivery and outdoor dining will continue.” Cuomo released a detailed breakdown of sources of COVID-19 exposure during a press briefing on Friday. The contact-tracing data was derived from a statewide analysis of 46,000 COVID-19 cases from September through November.

Private household and social gatherings were responsible for 73.84% of the cases statewide, while health care delivery accounted for 7.81% of cases and higher education accounted for slight more than 2%. Just 1.43% of cases were traced to bars and restaurants. Cuomo said he opted to shutter indoor dining despite the relatively low proportion of cases because it was an area where officials “can actually make a difference” in reducing COVID-19’s spread. But the decision drew immediate criticism from NYC restaurant groups, who have warned for months that Cuomo’s restrictions would cripple the industry. “While public health and safety must be paramount, Governor Cuomo’s announcement to once again shut down indoor dining in New York City is at odds with the State’s own data that’s been presented as driving these decisions, and it will be the last straw for countless more restaurants and jobs,” the NYC Hospitality Alliance said in a statement.

New York City was one of the hardest-hit areas of the country by the virus, and saw strict lockdowns that shuttered businesses, schools and restaurants. But in recent months the city has been taking baby-step attempts at reopening, with limited indoor dining and a few days of in-person schooling a week at some of the city’s public schools. New York City restaurants, which make up a key pillar of the city’s economy, were permitted to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity on Sept. 30 after months of being shut down, while schools have partially reopened this week after being shut down at the end of November.

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The sides are growing further apart, as the inevitable process continues. Curious. The 18 AGs who signed with Texas are now accused of sedition.

US Supreme Court Rejects Texas Challenge To Election (JTN)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday evening rejected the state of Texas’ challenge to the 2020 election results in four battleground states, extinguishing one of the last remaining hopes for President Trump’s campaign to reverse Joe Biden’s lead in those states. “The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution,” the justices ruled. “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.” Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissenting statement, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. “In my view, we do not have discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction,” Alito wrote. “…I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue.”

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“..yet another seditious conspiracy among the swamplings..”

Sometimes Life Really is Like a Bad Dream (Kunstler)

If you were President DJ Trump, would you suspect that the CIA might be playing dangerous games with you (and by extension, the nation)? Are you aware that China has a 75 percent investment stake in the holding company that now owns Dominion? Are there grounds to suppose that China somehow interfered in the election? With assistance from an eager Democratic Party and the CIA?Would Mr. Trump, of all people, let such a thing stand? Especially considering the evidence that the putative “winner” of the election, Joe Biden, the kid from Scranton, PA, was up to his eyeballs, with the rest of his family, in Chinese funny-money? (Not to mention money from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, and other lands?)

Note: information about this evidence gleaned from Hunter Biden’s forgotten laptop was deliberately suppressed in October by the major newspapers and cable news stations, with help from Facebook, Twitter, and Google, along with a claque of “fifty former and current intel officials” led John Brennan, who denounced the reports from The New York Post in a public letter as “Russian disinformation” — yet another seditious conspiracy among the swamplings. Are you aware that in the weeks since the election there have been unusual movements of US military aircraft around the country, including C-130 “Hercules” troop carrier planes? And that the navy has two carrier groups out along the Pacific Coast and three strung along the Atlantic coast? That’s what I hear. Remember, the president cleaned house at the top of the Pentagon this fall, and probably not for nothing.

Sounds like preparation for something… some extraordinary executive action to prevent the national security risk known as Joe Biden from being sworn-in as president — in the absence of anything else in a strictly constitutional way that would keep that from happening, like a Supreme Court decision that would order the rare passing on of the disputed 2020 election to the House of Representatives for resolution, with a strong statistical likelihood that the body would re-elect Mr. Trump. These are the sorts of things I imagine the Supreme Court justices might be palavering about and weighing over their sherry in the comfortable back room of their august clubhouse. There is, of course, the likelihood that such a momentous decision to send the vote to the House would provoke a violent, batshit crazy response from the Democratic Party’s street warriors, BLM and Antifa — thus the C-130 flights perhaps deploying troops around the country. This time, expect the Black Blocs to get their asses kicked, and swiftly. Expect also a mind-blowing raft of arrests of political celebrities on charges like treason. Does it sound like a bad dream? Yeah, kind of does. But there it is.

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“Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action,” as James Bond author Ian Fleming famously wrote. What would the 1600th time be?”

Media, Big Tech Hunter Biden Laptop Story Not A Bug, But A Feature (Malic)

For the past four years, the mainstream media has pushed the baseless ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory with absolute impunity, because it catered to the narrative by the Democrats about why they lost the 2016 election and served to delegitimize Trump. Every anonymous accusation, from the Steele Dossier and “Russian bounties” in Afghanistan to the Atlantic smear piece about Trump insulting US troops, was treated as gospel truth. Meanwhile, any attempt by the president to push back was denounced as an “attack” on free press. Yet these very same paladins of “our democracy” cheered when the New York Post was censored by Twitter, in an actual attack on free speech.

Never mind that the paper was founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton – whom Democrats now worship as some sort of hero, because of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s musical retcon of history – there was zero collegial solidarity on display. Less than that, even: you had Jake Tapper of CNN “helpfully” advising the Post to delete their “offending” tweet in order to “end the whole thing [in] 15 seconds.” Another CNN megastar, Christiane Amanpour, had once infamously attacked Trump for “delegitimizing the press” and insisted that “an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” But when it came to the Hunter Biden story, Amanpour was perfectly happy to let the New York Post rot in Big Tech jail.

Asked by a Republican guest why she wasn’t actually doing journalism when it came to the Biden laptop, Amanpour indignantly responded “we’re not going to do your work for you.” The Freudian slip suggested Amanpour and CNN were busy doing someone else’s work – and it should be obvious at this point who that is. If you’re still expecting an apology, explanation of soul-searching from the Big Tech and mainstream media, you’re either terminally naive or simply not paying attention. Look at how they’re covering the Hunter Biden story, now that they have no choice. The documents were “made public – but went largely unnoticed” prior to the election, says the Daily Beast, that most mainstream of tabloids.

Notice the passive voice, as if the documents didn’t go “unnoticed” only by their readers, because the Beast and its fellow-travelers deliberately refused to notice them. Mind you, the suppression of the Hunter Biden story is just the most blatant example of media misbehavior. The partisan slant, selective reporting and “fact-checking,” and downright lies by omission are legion at this point. “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action,” as James Bond author Ian Fleming famously wrote. What would the 1600th time be? Now consider that these are the very same media and Big Tech who declared Biden won the election fair and square, while dealing with any claims otherwise in the exact same manner as they did with the Hunter laptop story: label as “disinformation,” facetiously “fact-check” or censor outright.

They apparently believe they can dictate what Americans are allowed to say or think, and even determine reality itself. They believe they can get away with it because most people, even Republicans whining about how this is unfair, continue to implicitly accept this arrangement. After all, it’s one of those“forms to which they are accustomed.” I wouldn’t count on that being the state of affairs much longer, though. There appears to be a growing realization among Trump supporters that “if only the truth is told, everything will sort itself out” is a trope of 1980s Hollywood, and that the axis of mainstream media and Silicon Valley has no ethics beyond power. The end justifies the means, and the only morality is who/whom wields it. What happens to America if this realization reaches critical mass is anybody’s guess. God willing, there won’t be blood. Either way, the Axis of Deceit will have only itself to blame. Newton’s Third Law is as implacable in politics as it is in physics; the longer you trespass against reality, the harder it will push back.

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“..it will start to make sense that Trump voters in Guy Fawkes masks are now roaming the continent like buffalo.”

The YouTube Ban Is Un-American, Wrong, and Will Backfire (Taibbi)

Start with the headline: Supporting the 2020 U.S. Election. YouTube in its company blog can’t even say, “Banning Election Conspiracy Theories.” They have to employ the Orwellian language of politicians — Healthy Forests, Clear Skies, “Supported” Elections — because Google and YouTube are now political actors, who can’t speak plainly any more than a drunk can walk in a straight line. The company wrote Wednesday: “Yesterday was the safe-harbor deadline for the U.S. Presidential election and enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect. Given that, we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election… For example, we will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors.”

This announcement came down at roughly the same time Hunter Biden was announcing that his “tax affairs” were under investigation by the U.S. Attorney in Delaware. Part of that investigation concerned whether or not he had violated tax and money laundering laws in, as CNN put it, “foreign countries, principally China.” Information suggestive of money-laundering and tax issues in China and other countries was in the cache of emails reported in the New York Post story blocked by Twitter and Facebook. [..] How important was that Hunter Biden story? That’s debatable, but the fact that tech companies blocked it, and professional journalists gleefully lied about it, has a direct bearing on YouTube’s decision now to bar Trumpist freakouts over the election results.

If you want a population of people to stop thinking an election was stolen from them, it’s hard to think of a worse method than ordering a news blackout after it’s just been demonstrated that the last major blackout was a fraud. Close your eyes and imagine what would have happened if Facebook and Google had banned 9/11 Truth on the advice of intelligence officials in the Bush years, and it will start to make sense that Trump voters in Guy Fawkes masks are now roaming the continent like buffalo.

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“America will emerge from this coronavirus to discover what its national security experts already know. It has lost its power advantage over China.”

Pandemic Exposes Global Fault Lines And How Australia Rose Above Them (SMH)

Instead of the official projection of a worst-case scenario of 150,000 dead, Australia has suffered 908 deaths in the pandemic to date. Every country, every state faced the same fateful moment of awesome responsibility and awful choice. The pandemic struck the countries of the world like an avenging angel, wreaking havoc on the unready and the uncaring, the slothful and the prideful, and re-ordered the world. After an uncertain start, Australia ultimately made the right choices. Its leaders, yes, but also its people. The pandemic was a severe test of leadership, and of nation-state capability, but also of social cohesion and public culture. The whole of the people had to accept some personal inconvenience for the common good. In successful countries they did; in failed ones they did not.

And the countries that met the public health test had a much better chance of meeting the economic test. Australia’s responses have elevated it into a small elite of competent countries. “Our system has performed impressively and that puts a spring in your step and makes other countries interested in you,” says the director of the Lowy Institute, Michael Fullilove. “And that’s a positive. The prestige of smaller, well governed countries has risen, mainly in our part of the world – Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, South Korea, Australia.” The most dramatic effects have been in the biggest powers. “Nations cohere and flourish on the belief that their institutions can foresee calamity, arrest its impact and restore stability,” Henry Kissinger said in April. “When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, many countries’ institutions will be perceived as having failed.”

One of the foremost, shockingly, is the United States itself. The virus exposed its divided political system as not just an entertaining foible but as a deep national liability. Political division paralysed policy. In many countries politics is regarded as a sport, a game. In a crisis, we now learn, politics literally is a matter of life and death for the people and of national destiny for the country. Even today, nine months on, the US cannot agree to stop the needless mass death nor agree on fiscal policy. With the daily death toll outstripping the 9/11 count, the US Congress remains deadlocked in negotiations for a second economic stimulus. It negotiates, sometimes month to month, sometimes week to week, the funding to “keep the government open”. The asinine has become the norm.

The US President is surrounded by men with guns for his protection. But they cannot defend against bovine stupidity and political obduracy. The President caught the virus. Donald Trump bears responsibility for his negligence. The pandemic spelt the end of his presidency. But he is the inheritor of America’s deepening crisis of overpoliticisation, not its author. America will emerge from this coronavirus to discover what its national security experts already know. It has lost its power advantage over China. They are not equal in every way, but China is now America’s peer. And its rival. The US is a much diminished power.

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Problem solved?!

CBO: Medicare for All Could Cover Everyone for $650 Billion Less Per Year (CD)

The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday released a report examining the costs associated with universal healthcare proposals that are based on Medicare’s fee-for-service program and found that implementing a single-payer health insurance program in the United States would not only guarantee coverage for every person in the country but would also reduce overall healthcare spending nationwide. In the words of researcher Matt Bruenig—founder and president of the progressive think tank People’s Policy Project who called the CBO’s working paper (pdf) on the topic “more exhaustive than any other recent study on the subject”—the new analysis shows that administrative costs under a single-payer healthcare system “will be lower than what even the most rabid Medicare for All supporters have traditionally claimed.”

According to Bruenig, “Modeling the cost of a single-payer program is relatively straightforward. You begin with the status quo healthcare system and then make educated guesses about the following questions: • How many more units of healthcare services will be demanded and supplied when price barriers are removed? • How much more efficient will health insurance administration be after the enrollment and payment systems are radically simplified? • How much money will be saved by reducing the payment rates for healthcare providers and drug companies? In its analysis, the CBO looked at several distinct single-payer designs and determined that four such systems—fully implemented by 2030—would save anywhere from $42 billion to $743 billion that year alone.

Bruenig explained that the CBO option that most closely resembles current Medicare for All proposals is the one based on low payment rates and low cost sharing, which would generate $650 billion in savings in 2030. If one were to add long-term support and services to that option, as many current Medicare for All proposals do, savings would fall to about $300 billion, he noted.

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First they all bury the story, and now even NBC is after Hunter? ¿Qué pasa?

Email To Hunter Biden Raises Fresh Questions About His Tax Dealings (NBC)

Hunter Biden’s former business partner sent him an email in 2017 saying he did not disclose on his tax returns $400,000 in income from the Ukrainian natural gas company where he sat on the board, according to a copy of the email obtained by NBC News. The message from Eric Schwerin, then president of Rosemont Seneca Partners, says Hunter Biden would need to “amend” his 2014 returns to reflect the “unreported” income, according to the copy of the email. “In 2014 you joined the Burisma board and we still need to amend your 2014 returns to reflect the unreported Burisma income,” says the email dated Jan. 16, 2017. The email goes on to note that Hunter Biden, who is now the subject of a federal tax probe, netted more than $1.2 million for the year.


The earnings include the $400,000 from Burisma as well as income from Rosemont Seneca Advisors and a legal firm. The email was made available by Rudy Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello. Costello has said he was given a copy of one of Hunter Biden’s hard drives from the owner of a computer repair shop in Delaware. NBC News did not have access to the full drive. It is not known what, if any, action Hunter Biden took in response to the email. Federal prosecutors in Delaware are scrutinizing Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China as part of a tax probe that began in 2018, according to a source familiar with the inquiry. There’s no indication that his work for the Burisma national gas company is part of the investigation, but the email obtained by NBC News raises fresh questions about Hunter Biden’s tax affairs.

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Was this the steepest street in Britain?

£350,000 House Taken Off Market After Banksy Paints Mural On It (ArtN)

What do you do when your two-bed semi detached house that you are selling for £345,000 becomes the site of a world-famous work of art overnight? That is the conundrum now facing the Makin family whose Bristol home was adorned with a Banksy mural in the early hours of Thursday morning. Alex Makin, whose mother owns the house, tells The Art Newspaper the family is taking the property off the market while it considers its next steps. “The main thing is to try and protect the work because it’s such an iconic piece—a) because it’s Banksy and b) because of the year, it’s Covid-related,” Makin says of the work, which shows an older woman sneezing with such force her dentures have been catapulted out of her mouth. Within hours of the work being painted, Makin had the mural covered with a Perspex sheet.


He adds: “We’re not really sure what we’re going to do at the moment. It would be an amazing thing to keep in the family, but we also want to make sure it is properly protected. It’s been a fairly tough year for my mum, so this feels like a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.” Banksy’s pieces have been known to double the price of a property, while one art market specialist valued this latest piece at £3m-£5m in The Sun newspaper. However, Robert Pain, the client director of Bristol estate agents NEXA, offers a more cautionary valuation. “It’s a conundrum, though a wonderful conundrum to have: everyone wants a Banksy on their wall but does it alter what the bricks and mortar are worth?” he asks. “Ultimately, is it a work of art on brick, potentially worth a million. If so, do you remove it and spend £60,000 rebuilding the wall?”

Read more …

 

 

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Street corner in Athens.

 

 

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Oct 242020
 


Henri Matisse Le Bonheur de Vivre 1906

 

Russian Data Reveals Diabetics Ten Times More Likely To Catch COVID19 (RT)
Kremlin Says US Elections Have Become “Competition In Russophobia” (ZH)
MSM Beat The Bidens To Declare Laptop Leak ‘Russian Disinformation’ (RT)
Millions Of Insurance Plans Were Cancelled Due To Obamacare (JTN)
FBI, GSA Undermined 2016 Transition By Sharing Private Trump Team Records (JTN)
Differences in How Democrats and Republicans Behave on Twitter (Pew)
If Trump Wins, My Profession Is Done: Pollster (RT)
Bleeding Out (Jim Kunstler)
AOC Blasts Republicans For Calling Her AOC (JTN)
YouTube Is Selling So Many Political Ads It Has Run Out Of Videos For Them (ZH)
European Data Considers Coronavirus Risk in Greece Mainly Low to Medium (GR)
Tesla, Ordered To Recall 30,000 Cars In China, Blames ‘Driver Abuse’ (LAT)

 

 

 

 

Tulsi Gabbard Daniel Ellsberg
“A whistleblower cannot get a fair trial”
https://twitter.com/i/status/1319750791641530369

 

 

What’s worse: ..coronavirus could be causing “an entirely new form of diabetes.”

Russian Data Reveals Diabetics Ten Times More Likely To Catch COVID19 (RT)

Diabetics are 10.3 times more likely to develop Covid-19, and their symptoms are more severe and life-threatening, with over a quarter of all infected patients already suffering from the illness as a pre-existing condition. That’s according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, who told officials that coronavirus is especially dangerous for those suffering with the common metabolic disorder. “In patients with diabetes, Covid-19 infection is 10.3 times more common,” Golikova explained. “Patients with diabetes experience the disease more severely, and more frequently develop acute respiratory distress syndrome, as well as respiratory failure, [requiring] artificial ventilation and, unfortunately, [experiencing] higher mortality.”


According to Golikova, 27 percent of all infected patients have diabetes among their comorbidities, and this is often complicated by increased glycemia. As of the start of 2020, 5.1 million people in Russia had a diabetes diagnosis. She noted that the risk is even higher in patients with high blood pressure. Curiously, earlier this week, American Covid-19 patient Mario Buelna experienced exactly the opposite situation – he developed diabetes for the first time, having contracted coronavirus. According to his doctors in Mesa, Arizona, Buelna’s diabetes was triggered by Covid-19. Speaking to London-based news agency Reuters, Dr. Robert Eckel, president of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association, thinks that coronavirus could be causing “an entirely new form of diabetes.”

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“..competition in Russophobia has become a constant in all US electoral processes, regrettably.”

Kremlin Says US Elections Have Become “Competition In Russophobia” (ZH)

This week’s perhaps overly dramatic announcement Wednesday night by the heads of multiple federal agencies – foremost among them Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe – alleging new major efforts by Russia and Iran to interfere in the US presidential election formed a key question and talking point by debate moderator Kristen Welker Thursday night. Welker even referenced as somehow undisputed and settled “truth” the now debunked “Russian bounties” story. Over a month ago the Pentagon and other intelligence heads concluded after an exhaustive investigation that there’s simply no evidence to suggest Russian military intelligence paid Afghan fighters to target Americans.


Russia was certainly paying attention to the debate and was not amused. The Kremlin on Friday blasted what it said was “Russophobia” at the center of the debate. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Friday that “competition in Russophobia has become a constant in all US electoral processes, regrettably.” “We are fully aware of this and can only express regret,” he added as quoted in TASS. “After all, probably, it is the American electorate who is the target audience of these debates, that is, common Americans. It is up to them to decide who won the debate, not us,” the spokesman said. Indeed the American public is by and large likely growing tired of the endless Russia scapegoating too.

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“Joe Biden is supposed to deny and deflect attention from damaging information. He’s a politician, after all – it’s his job. The press is supposed to do the exact opposite.”

MSM Beat The Bidens To Declare Laptop Leak ‘Russian Disinformation’ (RT)

It’s not the media’s job to cover for Joe Biden. Yet the New York Times and its ilk have fallen over themselves to call the damaging leaks “Russian disinformation,” while also awkwardly publishing the FBI’s denial of the claim. As President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden geared up to debate on Thursday night, the cable TV commentariat wondered how Trump would bring up the “laptop from hell.” Recovered from a Delaware repair shop last year and handed to Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, the laptop – which allegedly belonged to Joe’s son, Hunter – contained a tranche of emails that implicated the Biden family in numerous foreign graft schemes, all while Joe was in the White House.

Before the debate kicked off, the New York Times quoted the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) as saying: “No concrete evidence has emerged that the laptop contains Russian disinformation,” and the FBI as seconding this claim. For the Times, it was a dramatic turnaround. Just days earlier, before the FBI and DNI could weigh in, a headline in the nation’s paper of record read, “Is the Trump campaign colluding with Russia again?” Quoting only a Senate Democrat, the Times alleged that Giuliani had been cultivated as an “asset” by the Kremlin, and “any information proffered by Rudy Giuliani is likely compromised.” The Washington Post sang from the same hymn sheet, using the usual anonymous “former officials” to tie Giuliani to Russia.

Even before the media settled on Russia as the culprit, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough called the scandal “made up” and a “hokey story,” while NBC’s Hallie Jackson described it as “dubious” and “questionably sourced.” As the Times and Post rang the Russia alarm last week, neither the FBI nor DNI had commented on the laptop. DNI John Ratcliffe would do so on Monday, and the FBI followed suit a day later. In fact, as these articles hit the presses, the only people who had fingered Russia for the stunt were a collection of Biden’s aides and advisors, who gave no evidence to support their claims. The Biden campaign itself didn’t embrace the Russia excuse until several days later. It’s one thing to cover a candidate sympathetically. It’s another to work as his preemptive press corps. Joe Biden is supposed to deny and deflect attention from damaging information. He’s a politician, after all – it’s his job. The press is supposed to do the exact opposite.

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But Biden can make the claim uncontested that number is zero.

Millions Of Insurance Plans Were Cancelled Due To Obamacare (JTN)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said during Thursday night’s debate that nobody lost their health insurance plans when Obamacare was fully implemented, but millions of individuals had their insurance policies cancelled at the time. A RAND Corporation study estimated that 5.9 million people lost their insurance plans due to Obamacare’s rules and regulations. Obamacare is the 2010 health care law crafted by former President Obama, for whom Biden served as vice president for both of his terms. Obama was heavily criticized at the time for telling Americans that if “you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” which turned out not to be the case. Politifact rated Obama’s promise the “lie of the year” in 2013.

Trump and Biden each were asked Thursday night how they would handle health care policy if the Supreme Court invalidates Obamacare’s individual mandate in the upcoming California v. Texas case. “What I’m going to do is pass Obamacare with a public option. It will become Bidencare. The public option says in fact if you do not have the wherewithal, if you qualify for Medicaid and you do not have the wherewithal in your state to get Medicaid, you’re automatically enrolled, providing competition for insurance companies,” Biden said. Biden rejected the idea that he wants to eliminate private insurance. “Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare. They did not lose their insurance unless they chose they wanted to go to something else,” he said.

In response, Trump said Biden’s health care plan would amount to socialized medicine, given that the federal government would run the public option.

Bernie Biden

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This is the most severe of all. This is also why they complain in advance about Trump not doing a peaceful transition. Because they themselves did not.

FBI, GSA Undermined 2016 Transition By Sharing Private Trump Team Records (JTN)

A Senate report released today claims that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the General Services Administration undermined the Trump transition team in 2016 by sharing private Trump team records in violation of an agreement between that team and the GSA. The majority staff report from both the Senate Committee on Finance and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs claims that officials from both the FBI and Mueller’s office “secretly sought and received access to the private records of Donald J. Trump’s presidential transition team, Trump for America, Inc.”

“They did so,” the report continues, “despite the terms of a memorandum of understanding between the Trump transition team and the General Services Administration…—the executive agency responsible for providing services to both candidates’ transition teams—that those records were the transition team’s private property that would not be retained at the conclusion of the transition.” The report states that officials at the GSA proactively called the FBI and offered to retain Trump transition team records following the controversy surrounding Michael Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser in early 2017. The agency informed neither the White House nor Trump for America of that decision. Those records would eventually make their way to Mueller’s office, the report says.

“At bottom,” the report continues, “the GSA and the FBI undermined the transition process by preserving Trump transition team records contrary to the terms of the memorandum of understanding, hiding that fact from the Trump transition team, and refusing to provide the team with copies of its own records.” “These actions have called into question the GSA’s role as a neutral service provider, and those doubts have consequences,” the report adds. “Future presidential transition teams must have confidence that their use of government resources and facilities for internal communications and deliberations—including key decisions such as nominations, staffing, and significant policy changes—will not expose them to exploitation by third parties, including political opponents.”

Amanda Milius The Plot Against the President

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And guess who gets censored?

Differences in How Democrats and Republicans Behave on Twitter (Pew)

Most U.S. adults on Twitter post only rarely. But a small share of highly active users, most of whom are Democrats, produce the vast majority of tweets. The Center’s analysis finds that just 10% of users produced 92% of all tweets from U.S. adults since last November, and that 69% of these highly prolific users identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents. A number of factors contribute to this phenomenon. Previous Twitter analyses by the Center have found that the platform contains a larger share of Democrats than Republicans. And in addition to being more prevalent on the site in general, the 10% most active Democrats typically produce roughly twice as many tweets in a month (157) as the 10% most active Republicans (79).

Across both parties, those who use Twitter differ in several ways compared with non-users. For instance, Twitter-using Democrats and Republicans alike tend to be younger and have higher levels of educational attainment compared with members of each party who do not use the platform. Although nearly identical shares of Republican Twitter users (60%) and non-users (62%) describe themselves as very or somewhat conservative, Democrats who use Twitter tend to be more liberal than non-users. Some 60% of Democrats on Twitter describe their political leanings as liberal (with 24% saying they are “very” liberal), compared with 43% among those who are not Twitter users (only 12% of whom say they are very liberal).

Beyond posting volume, Democrats and Republicans also differ from each other in their actual behaviors on the platform. For instance, the two accounts followed by the largest share of U.S. adults are much more likely to be followed by users from one party than the other. Former President Barack Obama (@BarackObama) is followed by 42% of Democrats but just 12% of Republicans, while President Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump) is followed by 35% of Republicans and just 13% of Democrats. Many other popular accounts are followed primarily by those who identify as either Democrat or Republican. However, a small number of the most-followed accounts on Twitter (mostly popular celebrities or entertainers) are followed by similar shares of U.S. adults belonging to each party.

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I don’t think so. If it didn’t happen in 2016, why would it now?

If Trump Wins, My Profession Is Done: Pollster (RT)

Polling guru Frank Luntz has admitted that if Donald Trump wins re-election, his “profession is done.” Though polls show Joe Biden in the lead, Luntz and his colleagues are hedging their bets and preparing to be shocked… again Democratic candidate Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump by up to 10 points nationwide. Yet polls can be wrong, and for all the talk of a Biden “landslide” in the media, Trump’s supporters likely remember 2016, when their candidate pulled off a shock victory against Hillary Clinton, despite being given only a seven percent chance of winning by the New York Times two weeks before election day. Should Trump once again dispatch his Democratic challenger, the polling industry is finished, Republican pollster Frank Luntz told Fox News on Thursday.

“Well, I hate to acknowledge it, because that’s my industry,” he told Fox anchor Bret Baier. “But the public will have no faith. No confidence. If Donald Trump surprises people… my profession is done.” Luntz insists that his polling is accurate this time, and that Biden will win. However, undecided voters may be leaning toward Trump. As the two men faced off in the final presidential debate in Tennessee on Thursday night, Luntz organized a focus group of undecided voters. After the showdown, a majority of these voters were leaning toward backing Trump. They described him as “controlled,” “poised,” and “surprisingly presidential,” while Biden was thought of as “vague,” “elusive,” and “defensive.”

Luntz is a longtime critic of Trump, and a recently released email – found on Hunter Biden’s now-infamous laptop – apparently showed him massaging his predictions in favor of Biden back in 2012, when the then-VP was debating Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan. Luntz appeared to confirm the email’s authenticity in a tweet, but denied it was any kind of bombshell, saying he’s known the Biden family since the 1990s. However, if a Biden-friendly pollster, backed by his latest focus group, is publicly opening the door to a potential Trump victory, the election gurus may not be as confident in their figures as they let on.

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“Is Hillary ironing her purple pantsuit up in Chappaqua, awaiting the emergency call from her DNC?”

Bleeding Out (Jim Kunstler)

“The difference between you and me,” Mr. Trump said to the ever more ghostly Joe Biden, fading mentally late in the action on the debate stage, “is that I’m not a politician and you are, and you’re a crooked politician.” Millions watching this spectacle might not have noticed, due to the media’s near-complete blackout of news detailing the Biden family’s adventures in systematic global moneygrubbing, but the Democratic candidate for president has political Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever of credibility, now gushing out of every pore and orifice.

Twitter and Facebook may try to squelch the story, but the evidence is all over the Internet now, like blood on a crime scene, in verifiable emails, texts, Snapchats, memoranda, and bank records that Ol’ White Joe Biden is at the center of a decades-long influence-peddling spree, selling his personal services to China, Russia, Ukraine, and any other country seeking favors in US government policy, and that this slime-trail of grift disqualifies him from holding high office as much as the irreversible rot of his cognitive abilities.

The “Laptop from Hell” affair has twelve more days to play out before the November 3 vote and the Democratic Party is in a terrible jam. Do they ask Mr. Biden to step aside, or do they keep running with him while the barrage of allegations and hard evidence pours down on them like so many mortar rounds on a besieged bunker? It’s obvious now that one way or another, voters are actually being asked to elect Kamala Harris president — but who asked for her? Only the disgraced and disabled head of the ticket, Joe Biden, desperate for a non-white running mate. Elsewise, she was so disliked by voters that she skulked out of the Iowa caucuses, ending her own run. Is Hillary ironing her purple pantsuit up in Chappaqua, awaiting the emergency call from her DNC?

The early 2020 impeachment gambit has finally blown up in the Democrats’ faces, too, as it’s now obvious the phony furor over Mr. Trump’s phone call to Ukraine President Zelensky was ginned up to smother any inquiry into Hunter Biden’s $83,000-a-month services to the Burisma gas company and its crooked chief, Mykola Zlochevsky, with help from then US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and several of her staff, as well as then Secretary of State John Kerry.

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On to more important matters.

AOC Blasts Republicans For Calling Her AOC (JTN)

Her name is a mouthful, so Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became AOC. In fact, she calls herself AOC. “Team AOC is hiring!” she wrote on Twitter in August, for instance. But the first-term Democratic Socialist from New York bristles when Republicans call her AOC, as President Trump did during Thursday night’s debate with Joe Biden. “I wonder if Republicans understand how much they advertise their disrespect of women in debates when they consistently call women members of Congress by nicknames or first names while using titles & last names when referring to men of = stature. Women notice. It conveys a lot,” she wrote on Twitter.

“AOC is a name given to me by community & the people. Y’all can call me AOC. Government colleagues referring to each other in a public or professional context (aka who don’t know me like that) should refer to their peers as ‘Congresswoman,’ ‘Representative,’ etc. Basic respect 101,” she added. Twitterers pointed out that President Trump calls nearly all of his opponents, regardless of gender, by nicknames — some not so nice. Trump calls Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) “Pocahontas” for her false claims that’s she’s Native American. He calls Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Democrat who falsely claimed to have fought in the Vietnam War, “Da Nang Dick.” Jeb Bush was, of course, “Low Energy Jeb.” Then there’s “Crooked Hillary,” “Lyin’ Leakin’James Comey,” “Jeff Flakey,” “Head Clown Chuck Schumer,” and “Mad Maxine Waters.”

So AOC isn’t all that bad, is it? “You do this all the time, referring to ‘Trump’ or ‘Pence,'” Fee Online contributor Brad Polumbo wrote on Twitter. “Just *stop* with the endless self-victimization. It’s pathetic and tiring.” “Yes, names like Crying Chuck Schumer and Crazy Bernie are super sexist,” wrote another. In fact, AOC has another nickname for her and three colleagues — “The Squad,” which includes Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Ilhan Omar, (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). That’s who Trump referred to in Thursday’s debate. “They know nothing about the climate,” Trump said, referring to AOC’s “New Green Deal” environmental plan. “I mean, she’s got a good line of stuff, but she knows nothing about the climate. And they’re all hopping through hoops for AOC plus three. Look, their real plan costs $100 trillion.”

And one Twitterer pointed out that AOC isn’t even a nickname: “AOC is not a nickname, they’re your initials. JFK is also not a nickname. The FBI, again, is not a nickname. You can maybe say that Trump should’ve still used your official title, but Obama was also referenced sans title, and you don’t see him whining about it on Twitter …”

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“..commercial ads have been “anemic”..”

YouTube Is Selling So Many Political Ads It Has Run Out Of Videos For Them (ZH)

While social media makes its best attempt at trying to get Joe Biden elected by censoring stories about his son, YouTube is facing another dilemma: the platform is so inundated with political ads it has nowhere to put them. As advertising campaigns flood the platform, YouTube has “struggled” to place the ads in front of the desired audience for each, according to Bloomberg. Interestingly enough, YouTube is experiencing the shortage most in “critical swing states”, where ad prices have doubled as a result. This, obviously, makes political advertising far more lucrative for Google, who saw ad revenue fall this year and will announcing its earnings next week.

Cat Stern, media director for Lockwood Strategy Lab, a digital campaign agency focused on Democratic candidates and progressive advocacy organizations, told Bloomberg: “There’s a crunch. All political advertisers are buying in the same states, to similar audiences.” YouTube viewers have risen during the pandemic and while commercial ads have been “anemic”, political ads have spiked heading into November 3. In highest demand are the ads that users aren’t allowed to skip through. There are also ad “reservations” for YouTube’s most popular videos that are in high demand. Reid Vineis, vice president of digital at Majority Strategies, a Republican political ad firm, said: “The reserves tend to be gobbled up by well-funded campaigns.”

While this occurs, other less-well-funded campaigns have turned to platforms like Hulu and Roku to run their ads. Some states, like Iowa, are usually entirely sold out on YouTube. Tim Cameron, co-founder of FlexPoint Media, said: “A lot of late money that’s coming on board — it’s difficult to find anywhere to put it.” At some points, YouTube has been unable to place up to 75% of the amounts that people are willing to spend. YouTube didn’t comment for Bloomberg’s article, but the article notes that a “code yellow” was assigned to Google’s staff regarding the inability to place ads, meaning Google was increasing the resources it was deploying to try and solve the issue.

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We have a mask mandate now. And a curfew.

European Data Considers Coronavirus Risk in Greece Mainly Low to Medium (GR)

According to data released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on Friday, much of Greece is at a “low” or “medium” risk level for Covid-19. The ECDC records the epidemiological burden across Europe, and classifies either entire countries or regions, depending on their coronavirus risk level. Unlike much of Europe, excluding areas of Central and Northern Europe, which is considered high-risk, much of Greece is at low or medium risk. The regions of Attica, Central Greece, Macedonia, Epirus, are at medium risk, and areas of Central Macedonia belong to the high-risk category. Southern Greece, Eastern Macedonia, and Thrace are all considered very low risk areas.


All European countries, except for Greece, Cyprus, Finland, Estonia, Liechtenstein and Norway, which are considered “stable” by the ECDC, are in a situation of “great epidemiological concern” in terms of the virus. Although the stable countries may report an increase in cases, like Greece, they are still considered to have a relatively low risk level for young and healthy citizens. Older people and those who belong to vulnerable groups in these stable countries are still considered to be of high risk, however. Despite their stable designations, the situation regarding Covid-19 in the six countries should be carefully monitored, as the virus can spread quickly, increasing the countries’ risk level, according to the authorities.

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Best business model: always blame your customers.

Tesla, Ordered To Recall 30,000 Cars In China, Blames ‘Driver Abuse’ (LAT)

Tesla Model S and Model X owners have complained about potentially dangerous flaws with suspension systems at least since 2015. On Friday, the Chinese government took action — and the company responded by blaming the country’s drivers. China’s State Administration for Market Regulation ordered a recall for about 30,000 Model S and Model X vehicles manufactured at Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., plant and exported to China. The affected cars were built from 2013 to 2017. Model S and Model X vehicles sold in the U.S. and Europe were built at the same factory using the same suspension systems. More than 250,000 were sold worldwide. The traffic safety regulator for the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said Friday afternoon it is “aware of the Tesla recall due to suspension problems in China.


At this time, the agency has not received significant complaints related to these issues in the United States. The agency is in contact with Tesla and monitoring the situation closely, and will not hesitate to take action to protect the public against unreasonable risks to safety.” A spokesman declined to say what marks a complaint as significant. [..] in a letter sent by a Tesla attorney to NHTSA on Sept. 4, the company blamed Chinese drivers for the problem, said there was no safety issue, and said it didn’t plan to issue a recall outside China.Tesla owners at the Tesla Motors Club forum have been complaining about suspension issues since at least 2015, complaints that continue to this day. Many report that a ball joint connected to a control arm comes loose.

Read more …

 

 

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“Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter.”

Richard Feynman

 

 

Emotions Trump

 

 

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Aug 162020
 


Michael Andrews Lights VII: A Shadow 1974

 

Clinesmith Was Working For Mueller When He Forged That Email (RS)
Democrats Still Denounce This ‘Investigation Of Investigators’ (Turley)
FBI Misled Congress on Reliability of Steele Dossier (SAC)
CIA Behind Guccifer & Russiagate – Binney (SCF)
Biden Campaign Not Putting Any Surrogates On Sunday Shows Pre-Convention (Fox)
Finance Execs Cheer Selection of Kamala Harris as Dem VP (LI)
Hillary Clinton ‘Ready To Help’ In Biden Administration If Asked (NYP)
Biden Accuser Tara Reade Slams Dems For Bill Clinton Convention Speech (NYP)
Info On Wikileaks, “Hacked Information” Banned Under New YouTube Rules (MPN)
PBOC: China’s Yuan Continues To Grow As An International Currency (SCMP)

 

 

US politics has definitely become the new main topic, replacing COVID. The big picture as we now get it from Durham and various declassified docs is that the biggest scandal in America over the past 4-5 years was not alleged Russian support for Trump that allegedly skewed the 2016 election.

Instead, it is that all of that story, not just some or most of it, but all of it, was fabricated from whole cloth by Trump’s opponents in intelligence, media and the Democratic party. With all of Trump’s all too obvious flaws, they elected to go with a fantasy story. It will all make the coming (or ongoing) election season a hot stew of boiling over spices.

Meanwhile, Biden’s people refuse to let anyone go on the habitual Sunday talk shows, Joe remains in the basement, Kamala will be kept far apart from any journalist who might ask an actual question, and Hillary’s ready to “help”.

Which means that if Biden is withdrawn at some point, as seems likely, the US could be governed by two women so unpopular in their own party they both lost seemingly easy votes. Nobody on that side of the divide appears to care. But in the end it’s not the corporate sponsors or the party bigwigs who do the voting, it’s the people; they just hope they’ve spread enough hatred of Trump to get the votes.

 

 

The usual weekend stumble along numbers. US deaths down to 1,071, good enough to ditch the graph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump Durham

 

 

It’s in the little details…

Clinesmith Was Working For Mueller When He Forged That Email (RS)

One important fact getting overlooked in all the discussion of whether FBI Attorney Kevin Clinesmith’s guilty plea represents the sacrifice of a minor criminal so the ringleaders can escape justice or the beginning of the end for those who were running the show is exactly whose show Clinesmith was a part of when the crime he’s admitted committing occurred. You see, Clinesmith wasn’t working for James Comey on June 19, 2017, the date he altered that CIA email inconveniently identifying Trump’s onetime foreign policy advisor Carter Page as a trusted source. By that point in time, Clinesmith was part of Robert Mueller’s Independent Counsel investigation. And it was Mueller’s crew who made use of the renewed FISA warrant to spy on Page that Clinesmith’s willingness to commit forgery had enabled.

On the recommendation of acting Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, Trump had fired Comey on May 9, 2017. As a consequence, Comey’s second-in-command, Andrew McCabe automatically took over as acting FBI Director till June 7, when Trump appointed Christopher Wray. (Wray was interim director until his Senate confirmation on July 20.) McCabe was in charge for less than a month. But within just 8 days he’d started a second investigation of Trump in addition to the still ongoing Crossfire Hurricane probe of his campaign’s ties to Russia. Despite Trump’s having fired Comey at Rosenstein’s urging and the president’s authority to terminate the director of the FBI for any reason he pleases, McCabe wasted no time in using his boss’s dismissal as a pretext to investigate Trump for obstructing Crossfire Hurricane.

Given the enormity of his new responsibilities after suddenly becoming the head of the FBI and how quickly McCabe rushed to add a second investigation of the President of the United States to them, you’d almost think he must have been planning it before Comey was even fired. Interestingly, McCabe had also helped tip over the very first domino that ultimately led to Robert Mueller’s appointment as independent counsel. Though it hasn’t received nearly enough attention, he played a substantial role in ginning up the phony controversy over whether Jeff Sessions lied to Congress about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his confirmation hearing.

Sessions takes a lot of heat for enabling the Mueller probe by recusing himself. But though there’s no question he made a disastrous error, most people aren’t aware of the stuff going on in the background that almost seems like it could have been designed to make Sessions step aside and put Rosenstein in control. A few months before starting that second investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice by taking Rosenstein’s advice, Andrew “Itchy Finger” McCabe had triggered another criminal investigation of Sessions for lying about his contacts with Kislyak at the request of Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken. The fuss quickly died down and Mueller closed the investigation in January 2018. But the ginned-up controversy did force Sessions to recuse himself; which put Rosenstein in a position to urge Trump to fire Comey; which then put McCabe in the position to start a second investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice for taking Rosenstein’s advice.

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Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Democrats Still Denounce This ‘Investigation Of Investigators’ (Turley)

“Gosh almighty.” Those words from former Vice President Joe Biden sum up plenty about the announced criminal plea by former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith. Of course, Biden was not referring to the implications of the FBI lawyer who lied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for the efforts to continue the surveillance of an adviser to the campaign of Donald Trump. Nor was he referring to growing evidence that the Russia investigation was launched based on false and flawed evidence. Biden was referring to the federal investigation by United States Attorney John Durham that led to the criminal plea by Clinesmith. Like most other Democrats, Biden previously denounced the investigation and the effort to look into criminality. Now that criminality has been found, Democrats and commentators still insist there are no reasons to continue it.

From the start, Democrats overwhelmingly condemned the investigation despite admitting Durham is a respected prosecutor. Leaders like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff deemed the investigation “tainted” and “political.” Biden mocked the very idea of an “investigation of the investigators” and added, “Give me a break. Gosh almighty.” These are the same figures who repeatedly cited plea agreements in the special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller as proof that real crimes were waiting to be found. When the plea by former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn was announced, it was cited as the critical development even though FBI agents said they did not believe Flynn had intentionally lied about his conversations with Russian diplomats.

Many in the media cited the plea by Flynn to disprove the insistence by Trump that the Mueller investigation was a hoax. But they are not citing the plea by Clinesmith to disprove the statement by Biden. Indeed, they have barely covered it. It does not appear to matter that Clinesmith said “viva la resistance” after the 2016 election or that, after claiming he was devastated by the victory of Trump, he lamented that “my god damned name was all over those legal documents investigating his staff.” But several Democrats and commentators maintained there was never a targeting of the campaign before the special counsel appointment. That was untrue. Declassified documents show that an agent was used with a national security briefing of Trump and his aides during the campaign to gather information for the Russia investigation.

Who did the agent report to? Clinesmith and Peter Strzok at the FBI, who infamously referred to his own “insurance” with the chance that Trump might be elected.

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The courts AND Congress.

FBI Misled Congress on Reliability of Steele Dossier (SAC)

Documents recently released by the Senate Intelligence Committee indicate that there were strong doubts about the reliability of the Steele Dossier as early as December 2016. As the FBI and CIA worked together to create an Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) to present to President Barack Obama, those in the CIA camp, according to the now-declassified interviews conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee, worried that the FBI was playing up the Steele Dossier too much. Sen. Lindsey Graham released a statement on the Senate Judiciary Committee website in which he addressed the newly declassified documents: “This document clearly shows that the FBI was continuing to mislead regarding the reliability of the Steele dossier. The FBI did to the Senate Intelligence Committee what the Department of Justice and FBI had previously done to the FISA Court: mischaracterize, mislead and lie.


The characterizations regarding the dossier were completely out of touch with reality in terms of what the Russian sub-source actually said to the FBI. “What does this mean? That Congress, as well as the FISA Court, was lied to about the reliability of the Russian sub-source. I will be asking FBI Director Wray to provide me all the details possible about how the briefing was arranged and who provided it. “Inspector General Horowitz’s team found this briefing document. Inspector General Horowitz and his team deserve great credit for uncovering systematic fraud at the Department of Justice surrounding the Carter Page FISA warrant. I’m also very appreciative of the Department of Justice’s release of the FBI document used to brief the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

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We’ve known this for a long time. But nobody wants to report on it.

CIA Behind Guccifer & Russiagate – Binney (SCF)

William Binney and other independent former U.S. intelligence experts say they can prove the Russiagate narrative is bogus. The proof relies on their forensic analysis of the data released by Guccifer. The analysis of timestamps demonstrates that the download of voluminous data could not have been physically possible based on known standard internet speeds. These independent experts conclude that the data from the Democrat party could not have been hacked, as Guccifer and Russiagaters claim. It could only have been obtained by a leak from inside the party, perhaps by a disgruntled staffer who downloaded the information on to a disc. That is the only feasible way such a huge amount of data could have been released. That means the “Russian hacker” claims are baseless.

Wikileaks, whose founder Julian Assange is currently imprisoned in Britain pending an extradition trial to the U.S. to face espionage charges, has consistently maintained that their source of files was not a hacker, nor did they collude with Russian intelligence. As a matter of principle, Wikileaks does not disclose the identity of its sources, but the organization has indicated it was an insider leak which provided the information on senior Democrat party corruption. William Binney says forensic analysis of the files released by Guccifer shows that the mystery hacker deliberately inserted digital “fingerprints” in order to give the impression that the files came from Russian sources.

It is known from information later disclosed by former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that the CIA has a secretive program – Vault 7 – which is dedicated to false incrimination of cyber attacks to other actors. It seems that the purpose of Guccifer was to create the perception of a connection between Wikileaks and Russian intelligence in order to beef up the Russiagate narrative. “So that suggested [to] us all the evidence was pointing back to CIA as the originator [of] Guccifer 2.0. And that Guccifer 2.0 was inside CIA… I’m pointing to that group as the group that was probably the originator of Guccifer 2.0 and also this fabrication of the entire story of Russiagate,” concludes Binney in his interview with Sputnik news outlet.

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“I don’t understand what’s going on here. This is the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen that you would you know, you’re basically giving a campaign…”

Biden Campaign Not Putting Any Surrogates On Sunday Shows Pre-Convention (Fox)

Chris Wallace – Host of Fox News Sunday & Author of “Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days that Changed the World ” spoke with Fox News Radio’s Guy Benson about the upcoming DNC convention. Wallace spoke to why the Biden campaign isn’t putting any campaign surrogates on any of the Sunday shows the weekend before the DNC convention. Saying,

“So I’ve been doing Sunday shows with conventions. I started on Meet the Press in 1988. I’ve been doing it on and off. For what? What is that? Thirty two years. And and it always happens that the Sunday before the convention. The campaign puts out top officials to preview the convention and to say this is what we’re gonna try to get accomplished. So, you know, we put counting all week on, you know, having a top official from the Biden campaign, the campaign manager, the top pollster, the chief strategist, to talk about what they’re going to talk about during this next week. They are not putting anybody out. And at first I thought, well, maybe it’s because it’s Fox News and they’re boycotting us. No, they’re not putting anybody out on any of the Sunday shows point.

I don’t understand what’s going on here. This is the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen that you would you know, you’re basically giving a campaign. And as I say, it’s a traditional thing. We’re gonna do it for the Republicans a week from Sunday. What are you trying to accomplish this week? And they the Biden campaign isn’t putting anybody out. And this just is of a piece with the the vice president not not doing really any serious interviews, not answering any questions since the rollout. I don’t you know, you can you can try and I understand and has worked pretty well. And he continues to lead with what I’ll call the basement strategy. I don’t think you can hide from now until Election Day. I just I just don’t think it’s possible.”

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This should cause many on the left to not vote for her and Joe. “She’s a great fundraiser”…

Finance Execs Cheer Selection of Kamala Harris as Dem VP (LI)

With the prospect of longtime bank critic and progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren being chosen as Joe Biden’s running mate now officially dead, Wall Street executives are openly applauding the presumptive Democratic nominee’s selection of California Sen. Kamala Harris as a signal that the top of the party’s ticket in November will be sufficiently “moderate” for their liking. Charles Myers, the founder of financial advisory firm Signum, told CNBC after Biden announced the California Democrat as his vice presidential pick that his “clients really wanted to know if Biden was going to stay in the center, and his pick of Harris reinforces that.” “While certain to generate excitement and to invite additional scrutiny of Harris’ record, we see this choice as a net positive for the Biden ticket,” Myers wrote in a note to clients late Tuesday.

“Harris, who generally could be called a centrist, will not push Biden to the left or the right on major policy issues. She will be supportive of Biden and the Democratic Party’s policy platform.” Other Wall Street executives echoed Myers’ assessment in interviews with CNBC, pointing to Harris’ experience as a senator and California Attorney General as well as her fundraising abilities. “I think it’s great,” said Marc Lasry, the CEO of investment firm Avenue Capital Group. “She’s going to help Joe immensely. He picked the perfect partner.” Ray McGuire of Citigroup and Blair Effron of investment firm Centerview Partners also hailed Biden’s choice of Harris as “great.” “She has a strong and active fundraising organization,” said Mike Kempner, founder of corporate public relations firm MWWPR.

“She will be an important and immediate addition to the Biden fundraising effort. She is a fundraising star. Her experience as a prosecutor makes her uniquely qualified to deliver the case against Trump.” Biden’s selection of Harris as his running mate comes months after Wall Street executives and other corporate donors warned the former vice president against picking Warren, a frequent and fierce critic of big banks and advocate for the interests of consumers. “She would be horrible,” one anonymous Wall Street executive and Democratic donor told CNBC in April. A longtime Biden fundraiser said “a lot of the donor base, on board and coming, would prefer almost anyone but Elizabeth.”= Veteran progressive organizer and radio host Jim Hightower suggested nothing about the choice of Harris should be surprising, but said the selection only makes more clear the road ahead for those wanting much bolder social change:

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A country ruled by two highly unpopular women among their own party, Kamala and Hillary. Why do it?

Hillary Clinton ‘Ready To Help’ In Biden Administration If Asked (NYP)

Hillary Clinton could be headed back to D.C. The former 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said she is “ready to help in any way I can” when asked if she would take a job in a Biden administration. “I’m ready to help in any way I can,” Clinton said at the 19th Represents Summit on Thursday. “Because I think this will be a moment where every American — I don’t care what party you are, I don’t care what age, race, gender, I don’t care — every American should want to fix our country … So if you’re asked to serve, you should certainly consider that.” Clinton previously served as Secretary of State under the Obama administration alongside Joe Biden, whom she formally endorsed for president in late April.


Clinton also spoke at the summit, which references the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, in defense of voting by mail for the November election. She criticized President Trump for implementing what she called a “hostile takeover” of the US Postal Service. Clinton added she fears Trump will use the mail service as part of a bid to cast doubt on election results should he lose. “I have every reason to believe that Trump is not going to go silently into the night if he loses,” Clinton said. “He’s going to try to confuse us. He’s going to try to bring all kinds of lawsuits.”

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The Dems live in their own little world.

Biden Accuser Tara Reade Slams Dems For Bill Clinton Convention Speech (NYP)

Why him? That’s what Tara Reade is demanding to know after learning Bill Clinton snagged a prime speaker’s slot at this week’s Democratic National Convention, calling the move “unconscionable.” Reade, who made headlines this year when she accused Joe Biden of shoving her against a wall and forcibly penetrating her with his fingers at a Capitol Hill office building in 1993, slammed party bigwigs for bringing in Bubba. “The Democratic National Committee has made it clear to survivors that they enable and they uphold institutionalized rape culture by allowing Bill Clinton to be a main speaker,” Reade told The Post. She added: “He has a history of sexual misconduct.”

So she wondered why DNC brass would put him on the big stage. “It is unconscionable that Bill Clinton is a main speaker, and this is coming from someone who voted for him. This is coming from a multi-generational Democrat.” Reade said she believes Clinton is a sexual predator. “This is based on talking to two of the survivors and also the court documents that have now been released because of Ghislaine Maxwell.” Clinton infamously palled around with Maxwell’s boss, Jeffrey Epstein. Giving Clinton a forum at the convention will set a “dangerous precedent,” Reade said. “They are holding up the MeToo movement as a shield for the sexual predators they are allowing in the Democratic establishment.”

She added: “I feel that hypocrisy, like sexual assault and sexual harassment, is an equal opportunity offender and it’s a nonpartisan issue. So I think the hypocrisy of the Democratic party is on full display by their speaker line-up for the Democratic national convention.” Biden has repeatedly said women who come forward with allegations of sexual assault should be believed, but he’s vehemently denied Reade’s accusation and said he doesn’t remember her working for him. The fallout from the scandal has left Reade “destitute,” she said. “After I came forward about Joe Biden, I lost everything, my work, my housing everything,” Reade said. “The weaponization of fear and shame to silence survivors has to stop.”

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“Many go to the platform precisely because it offers alternative and more diverse opinions to corporate-dominated radio, print and television. But YouTube is now funneling them back towards those same sources.”

“The emails, Clinton contends, swung the election from her to Trump. If this is the case, the decision to ban all discussion of them would have fundamentally altered the democratic process.”

Info On Wikileaks, “Hacked Information” Banned Under New YouTube Rules (MPN)

Social media giant YouTube announced yesterday a host of new measures it says are aimed at preventing any interference in the upcoming presidential elections. Chief among the list it wrote on its blog, is “removing content that contains hacked information, the disclosure of which may interfere with democratic processes, such as elections and censuses.” An example it gives, would be deleting “videos that contain hacked information about a political candidate.” It also promised to “raise up authoritative voices” when it comes to current events and politics by changing its algorithm to show users more credible channels and “reduce the spread of harmful misinformation and borderline content.” Example channels that produce authoritative content, it tells readers, includes Fox News and CNN. It also noted it would expand information panels underneath videos.

There are a number of reasons this new policy could concern users of its platform. Firstly, the great majority of leaked information — the lifeblood of investigative journalism — is anonymous. Often, like in the cases of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning or Reality Winner, whistleblowers face serious consequences if their names become attached to documents exposing government or corporate malfeasance. But without a name to go with a document, the difference between leaked data and hacked data is impossible to define. Thus, powerful people and organizations could claim data was hacked, rather than leaked, and simply block all discussion of the matter on the platform. Hearing the news, some feared already existing content from investigative journalists would be subject to removal under the new guidelines.

YouTube’s choice of Fox News and CNN as reliable sources might also raise eyebrows in some quarters. According to the latest Reuters Institute Digital News Report, fewer than half of all Americans trust the two networks (Fox at 42 percent and CNN at 47 percent). And a new study from Gallup/Knight Foundation finds that fewer than a third of the country has a favorable view of the media more generally, including only 19 percent of those under thirty (YouTube’s prime demographic). Many go to the platform precisely because it offers alternative and more diverse opinions to corporate-dominated radio, print and television. But YouTube is now funneling them back towards those same sources.

The 2016 presidential election was colored by Wikileaks’ release of the Podesta emails, discussion of which would be banned under YouTube’s new rules. The Hillary Clinton campaign alleges the emails were hacked from Podesta’s computer. The published communications, the authenticity of which is not in doubt, informed the country of the machinations of the Democratic Party, how it tipped the electoral scales in favor of Clinton and against Bernie Sanders in the primary, how Clinton stated to Wall Street that she had a “public” and a “private” position on regulation, insinuating she was lying to the nation, how representatives of Qatar wanted to meet with her husband Bill for “five minutes” to present him with a $1 million check for his birthday, and how her own staff held her in contempt. The emails, Clinton contends, swung the election from her to Trump. If this is the case, the decision to ban all discussion of them would have fundamentally altered the democratic process.

Read more …

Dream on.

PBOC: China’s Yuan Continues To Grow As An International Currency (SCMP)

China’s central bank said it expects more countries to accept the yuan for cross-border payments and settlements amid growing concerns about the country’s high exposure to the US dollar. In its annual report on the internationalisation of the yuan, which was released on Friday, the People’s Bank of China estimated “rapid and robust growth” this year despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Such expansion would help to consolidate the growth momentum seen since the yuan was added to the IMF’s currency basket in 2015. “We expect more market participants will accept yuan as settlement and payment currency,” it said.

China is heavily exposed to the US-led Clearing House Interbank Payment System (CHIPS) and the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which means it is vulnerable to US sanctions, such as those imposed on Iran and Russia. A total of 11 officials from mainland China and Hong Kong were put on a US sanctions list last week, as the rivalry between the world’s two largest economies continues to escalate. China’s state-owned banks with overseas operations could be the next targets if they are found to have business links to the sanctioned officials. The central bank report indicated rapid growth in the internationalisation of the yuan in recent years.

The total value of cross-border yuan payments and receipts by banks on behalf of clients rose 24.1 per cent year on year in 2019 to 19.67 trillion yuan (US$2.83 trillion). The value of global reserves of the yuan rose 1.95 per cent in the year to become the world’s fifth largest, while its share of the foreign exchange trading market was 4.3 per cent. The report also cited a survey conducted by Bank of China that said 69 per cent of the 3,300 foreign industrial and commercial companies polled planned to use or increase their use of the yuan. The yuan internationalisation index, released by Renmin University of China last month, rose 13 per cent last year to 3.03 and is forecast to rise to 5 in the first half of this year. But the currency still trails the US dollar at 50.85 and euro at 26.28.

The central bank said it would continue to remove barriers to cross-border use of the yuan, open up financial markets wider to foreign investors and promote the development of offshore yuan markets. The report highlighted countries involved in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, domestic free-trade zones and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area as having the most potential for growth. It also forecast the rapid expansion of China’s Cross-border Interbank Payment System, which was launched in 2015 and is now used in nearly 100 countries. In 2019, it handled 1.9 million cross-border yuan transactions – an increase of 31 per cent from 2018 – while the total amount involved rose 28 per cent to 33.9 trillion yuan.

Read more …

 

 

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Apr 092018
 


Andreas Feininger Production B-17 heavy bomber 1942

 

Syria and Russia Accuse Israel Of Missile Attack On Syrian Regime Airbase (G.)
Stocks To Retest Correction Lows As Easy Money Disappears – Boockvar (CNBC)
Albert Edwards On The Next Recession: S&P Below 666 (ZH)
Bad Omen for Markets From First Signs of Yield Curve Inversion
Trump’s Trade War Threatens Central Bank ‘Put’ – Deutsche (BBG)
China Is Studying Yuan Devaluation as a Tool in Trade Spat (BBG)
YouTube Illegally Collects Data On Children – Child Protection Groups (G.)
Number Of UK Buy-to-Let Landlords Reaches Record High (Ind.)
Public Backs Fresh Referendum On ‘Final Say’ On Terms Of Brexit Deal (Ind.)
Murderers & Thieves Sold Out America – Gerald Celente (USAW)
Shell Predicted Dangers Of Fossil Fuels And Climate Change In 1980s (Ind.)
Indigenous People Are Being Displaced Again – By Gentrification (Latimore)
Fish Populations In Great Barrier Reef Collapse After Bleaching Events (Ind.)

 

 

I don’t want TAE to be about warfare, but this situation is getting so absurd it’s starting to feel dangerous. Don’t believe the narrative.

Syria and Russia Accuse Israel Of Missile Attack On Syrian Regime Airbase (G.)

Israeli war planes have bombed a Syrian regime airbase east of the city of Homs, the Russian and Syrian military have said. The Russian military said that two Israeli F-15 war planes carried out the strikes from Lebanese air space, and that Syrian air defence systems shot down five of eight missiles fired. Asked about the Russian statement, an Israeli military spokesman said he had no immediate comment. Syrian state TV reported loud explosions near the T-4 airfield in the desert east of Homs in the early hours of Monday. State TV initially reported that the attack was “most likely” American, a claim the Pentagon has denied.

Video footage on social media in Lebanon showed aircraft or missiles flying low over the country, apparently heading east towards Syria. At least 14 people, mostly Iranians or members of Iran-backed groups, were killed, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said. Donald Trump warned on Sunday that the regime and its backers would pay a “high price” for the use of chemical weapons in the attack on rebel-held Douma that killed 42 people, but the Pentagon denied US forces were involved in Monday’s strikes. “However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable,” a Pentagon spokesman said.

Separately, the White House put out an account of a telephone conversation between Trump and Emmanuel Macron, in which the US and French presidents “agreed to exchange information on the nature of the attacks and coordinate a strong, joint response”. Macron has said chemical weapons attacks in Syria would cross a “red line” for France and that French forces would strike if the regime was proven to have been involved. However, the French army denied responsibility for Monday’s attack.

Read more …

When the easy money goes, everything follows.

Stocks To Retest Correction Lows As Easy Money Disappears – Boockvar (CNBC)

He’s a Wall Street bear who sees more monster market moves coming — with the majority of them leaving stocks deep in the red. The Bleakley Advisory Group’s Peter Boockvar warns there’s more trouble brewing, because the era of easy money is ending, thanks to global central banks hiking borrowing costs. And as fears intensify over a trade war, Boockvar expects a solution to the tariff issue will eventually come at the expense of rising rates. “We could get that resumption of higher interest rates which would then concern the markets, and then retest the [S&P 500 Index] 2500-ish type lows,” the firm’s chief investment officer told CNBC’s “Futures Now” last week.

“We’re late cycle in the market. We’re late cycle in the economy, and you have an intensification in a tightening of monetary policy,” he said. Boockvar, a CNBC contributor, blamed the end of quantitative easing in the United States and Europe for increasing sell-off risks. “We’re a step closer to them wanting to take away negative interest rates. But there are still trillions of dollars of global bonds that have negative yielding rates,” he added. “So, it’s this rate environment that I think is becoming more of a headwind. That really is my main concern.” He doesn’t believe the situation will abate any time soon. Boockvar contended the 10-Year Treasury yield will push back toward 3 percent — preventing the S&P 500 from cracking above its Jan. 26 record high anytime soon.

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Barron’s interview with Albert Edwards via ZH, who add a little David Rosenberg intro:

Albert Edwards On The Next Recession: S&P Below 666 (ZH)

The Fed generally tightens rates until something breaks. David Rosenberg points out that since 1950 there have been 13 Fed tightening cycles, and 10 of them ended in recession (while the others have often ended in emerging market blow-ups, like the 1994 Mexican peso crisis). Surging delinquency and charge-off rates for smaller banks suggest the breaking point for the economy may come sooner than the Fed and bulls expect.

What happens to stocks during the next recession? The Federal Reserve managed to short-circuit this derating process. In 2011, when quantitative easing, or QE, really kicked in, equity re-engaged with bond yields and P/Es expanded. Like an artificial stimulant, QE inflated all asset prices away from fundamental value and from where they would otherwise have gone. We haven’t seen the lows in bond yields. In the next recession, bond yields in the U.S. will go negative and converge with those in Germany and Japan. The forward U.S. P/E bottomed at about 10.5 times in March 2009 on trough earnings. That was lower than the previous recession.

In the next recession, I would expect the P/E to bottom at about seven times, a lower low with earnings about 30% lower because of the recession. That would put the S&P lower than the 666 low of the previous crash, versus 2671 Thursday afternoon. If a recession unfolds, easy monetary policy won’t stop the market from collapsing. It will play itself out.

When will the recession hit: The Conference Board’s leading indicators look OK for now. What’s different is that problems in the real economy aren’t being reflected in the stock and bond markets. What we may see is the reverse: The stock market and parts of the credit markets collapse and cause problems in the real economy. If confidence collapses because the equity market collapses, then a recession unfolds.

Will the US be hit harder than Japan and Europe in the next bear market? It should be. Traditionally, if the U.S. goes down 20%, the German Dax, though it is cheaper, would tend to go down a little more. Maybe this time it won’t. Japan is the one market we do like now on a long-term basis, and one of the reasons is the buildup of U.S. corporate debt during these past few years. The big bubble is U.S. corporate debt. In contrast, Japan’s corporate debt is collapsing. Over half of its companies have more cash than debt. When the Fed buys U.S. Treasuries, it pulls down all yields. There has been demand for yield, so investors look at corporate bonds as an alternative. Companies have been very keen to issue them, and they have used the money to buy back stock or as a way to enrich management. This is the way QE has washed through the system here.

Read more …

“..rising expectations of a Fed policy mistake.. We could argue that mistake is 10 years old by now.

Bad Omen for Markets From First Signs of Yield Curve Inversion

The forward curve of a closely watched proxy for the Federal Reserve’s policy rate has slightly inverted, signaling investors are either pricing in a mistake from central bankers or end-of-cycle dynamics, according to JPMorgan Chase. The inversion of the one-month U.S. overnight indexed swap rate implies some expectation of a lower Fed policy rate after the first quarter of 2020, the bank’s strategists including Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, wrote in a note Friday. “An inversion at the front end of the U.S. curve is a significant market development, not least because it occurs rather rarely,” they said. “It is also generally perceived as a bad omen for risky markets.”

The negative market signal comes as investors grapple with higher short term borrowing costs, which have risen in the U.S. to levels unseen since the financial crisis. While the strategists admit it is difficult to discern which of the two explanations for the curve inversion carries more weight, flow data suggests it is more likely to be rising expectations of a Fed policy mistake.

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No, Bloomberg, we know that China can’t dump Treasuries. The “end of Chimerica” sounds poetic though.

Trump’s Trade War Threatens Central Bank ‘Put’ – Deutsche (BBG)

A breakdown in the relationship between dollar weakness and Asian central bank intervention poses a risk to Treasuries, stocks and all risky assets, according to Deutsche Bank. Attempts by the Trump administration to clamp down on currency manipulation have limited the ability of central banks across the region to buy U.S. assets when the dollar weakens, and dampen the appreciation of their currencies, strategist Alan Ruskin write in a note Friday. These purchases have historically limited the greenback’s downside and acted as a “put” on Treasury market weakness, he wrote. Such central bank puts are usually associated with successive Federal Reserve chairs willing to support the wider market with loose monetary policy.

While such puts have been a continuous focus for investors, markets now risk overlooking other sources of central bank support that may be slipping as the U.S.’s “synergistic relationship with China,” comes to an end, according to Ruskin. “It is not a coincidence that in this recent period of dollar weakness, Treasury bonds were also soft,” he said. “Historically, foreign central banks of sizable current account surplus countries like China, Taiwan, Korea and Thailand would have been intervening.” According to the strategist, the “end of Chimerica” means American current account deficits are no longer financed to the same degree by Asian central bank reserve recycling of corresponding trade surpluses. That reduction in demand for Treasuries from foreign reserves is coming at a time when U.S. fiscal supply is set to increase dramatically, putting extra pressure on the country’s bond market.

Read more …

This is more likely. Risky for China though, but there must be plans to shore up domestic firms.

China Is Studying Yuan Devaluation as a Tool in Trade Spat (BBG)

China is evaluating the potential impact of a gradual yuan depreciation, people familiar with the matter said, as the country’s leaders weigh their options in a trade spat with U.S. President Donald Trump that has roiled financial markets worldwide. Senior Chinese officials are studying a two-pronged analysis of the yuan that was prepared by the government, the people said. One part of the analysis looks at the effect of using the currency as a tool in trade negotiations with the U.S., while a second part examines what would happen if China depreciates the yuan to offset the impact of any trade deal that curbs exports. The analysis doesn’t mean officials will carry out a devaluation, which would require approval from top leaders, the people said.

The yuan erased early gains on Monday, weakening 0.1 percent to 6.3110 per dollar in onshore trading at 3:32 p.m. local time. While Trump regularly bashed China on the campaign trail for keeping its currency artificially weak, the yuan has gained about 9 percent against the greenback since he took office as China’s economic growth stabilized, the government clamped down on capital outflows and fears of a credit crisis receded. The Chinese currency touched the strongest level since August 2015 last month and has remained steady in recent weeks despite an escalation of trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

While a weaker yuan could help President Xi Jinping shore up China’s export industries in the event of widespread tariffs in the U.S., a devaluation comes with plenty of risks. It would make it easier for Trump to follow through on his threat to brand China a currency manipulator, make it more difficult for Chinese companies to service their mountain of offshore debt, and undermine recent efforts by the government to move toward a more market-oriented exchange rate system. It would also expose China to the risk of local financial-market volatility, something authorities have worked hard to subdue in recent years.

When China unexpectedly devalued the yuan by about 2 percent in August 2015, the move sent shock-waves through global markets. “Is it in their interest to devalue yuan? It’s probably unwise,” said Kevin Lai, chief economist for Asia ex-Japan at Daiwa Capital Markets Hong Kong Ltd. “Because if they use devaluation as a weapon, it could hurt China more than the U.S. The currency stability has helped to create a macro stability. If that’s gone, it could destabilize markets, and things would look like 2015 again.”

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No really, it’s everywhere. What they can do, they will.

YouTube Illegally Collects Data On Children – Child Protection Groups (G.)

A coalition of 23 child advocacy, consumer and privacy groups have filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission alleging that Google is violating child protection laws by collecting personal data of and advertising to those aged under 13. The group, which includes the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), the Center for Digital Democracy and 21 other organisations, alleges that despite Google claiming that YouTube is only for those aged 13 and above, it knows that children under that age use the site. The group states that Google collects personal information on children under 13 such as location, device identifiers and phone numbers and tracks them across different websites and services without first gaining parental consent as required by the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (Coppa).

The coalition urges the FTC to investigate and sanction Google for its alleged violations. “For years, Google has abdicated its responsibility to kids and families by disingenuously claiming YouTube — a site rife with popular cartoons, nursery rhymes, and toy ads — is not for children under 13,” said Josh Golin, executive director of the CCFC. “Google profits immensely by delivering ads to kids and must comply with Coppa. It’s time for the FTC to hold Google accountable for its illegal data collection and advertising practices.”

The group claims that YouTube is the most popular online platform for children in the US, used by about 80% of children aged six to 12 years old. Google has a dedicated app for children called YouTube Kids that was released in 2015 and is designed to show appropriate content and ads to children. It also recently took action to hire thousands of moderators to review content on the wider YouTube after widespread criticism that it allows violent and offensive content to flourish, including disturrbing children’s content and child abuse videos.

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Bizarro housing.

Number Of UK Buy-to-Let Landlords Reaches Record High (Ind.)

The number of buy-to-let investors in the UK rose to a record high of 2.5 million in the latest tax year, new research shows. The increase of 5% on the previous year comes despite the introduction of a host of extra taxes and regulations on the sector. In recent years, the government has brought in a 3% Stamp Duty levy, new stress tests for home loans, and ended mortgage interest tax relief. The number of landlords has increased 27% in the past five years, up from 1.97 million in 2011-12, research by London-focused estate agent Ludlow Thompson found.

Landlords now own an average of 1.8 buy-to-let properties each – a figure that has risen for the fifth consecutive year. The data suggests that landlords continue to see residential property, especially in London, as a strong investment, despite signs that house price growth has stalled or even gone into reverse in some areas in the last year. Investors have seen annual returns of almost 10% since 2000, Ludlow Thompson said. Chairman Stephen Ludlow said the rising number of landlords shows the enduring appeal of investing in buy-to-let. “The long-term picture for the buy-to-let market remains strong,” he said.

Read more …

No chance of a second vote for now. But that may change yet.

Public Backs Fresh Referendum On ‘Final Say’ On Terms Of Brexit Deal (Ind.)

Support is growing for a fresh referendum on the final Brexit deal, according to a new poll showing the public back the idea for the first time. The survey found that 44% of people want a vote on the exit terms secured by Theresa May, amid continued uncertainty over the withdrawal agreement. That is a clear eight points ahead of the 36% who reject a further referendum, the research conducted for the anti-Brexit Best for Britain group showed. The group pointed to evidence that “Brexit is sharpening the British public’s minds” and called for MPs to respond to the people’s growing desire for a “final say”.

The referendum would be held on the details of the deal the prime minister must strike by the autumn – on both the planned transition period and a “framework” for a permanent trade and security relationship. Eloise Todd, Best for Britain’s chief executive, said voters should be allowed to choose between the details of the future on offer outside the EU, or staying inside the bloc. “Now there is a decisive majority in favour of a final say for the people of our country on the terms of Brexit. This poll is a turning point moment,” she said. “The only democratic way to finish this process is to make sure the people of this country – not MPs across Europe – have the final say, giving them an informed choice on the two options available to them: the deal the government brings back and our current terms.

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Celente rants are always good.

Murderers & Thieves Sold Out America – Gerald Celente (USAW)

Renowned trends researcher Gerald Celente says the trade war President Trump is starting against China must be fought for America to survive. Celente explains, “We have lost 3.5 million jobs (to China). Some 70,000 manufacturing plants have closed. Why would anybody be fighting Trump to do a reversal of us being in a merchandise trade deficit of $365 billion? Tell me any two people that would do business with each other and one side takes a huge loss and keeps taking it. . . So, why would people argue and fight and bring down the markets because Trump wants to bring back jobs and readjust a trade deficit that, by any standard, is destroying the nation?” Who’s to blame for the lopsided trade deficits destroying the middle class of America?

Look no further than the politicians and corporations buying them off. Celente charges, “They sold us out. The European companies and the American companies sold us out, and the people fighting Trump are also the big retailers because they’ve got their slave labor making their stuff over there. They bring it back here and mark up the price, and they make more money. If they have to pay our people to do that work, they have to pay them a living wage and they can’t make enough profit. That’s who is fighting us. . You go back to our top trend in 2017, and it was China was going to be the leader in AI (artificial intelligence) now and beyond, and that is exactly what happened. All the corporations have sold us out. . . .The murderers and the thieves sold out America.”

Celente thinks the odds are there will not be a financial crash in 2018 “because they are repatriating all that dough from overseas at a very low tax rate and because of the tax cuts from 35% to 21%. These are the facts. In the first three months of this year, there have been more stock buybacks and mergers and acquisitions activity than ever before in this short period of time because of all that cheap money going back into the corporations. That’s what’s keeping the markets up.”

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Shell’s political power will shield it.

Shell Predicted Dangers Of Fossil Fuels And Climate Change In 1980s (Ind.)

Oil giant Shell was aware of the consequences of climate change, and the role fossil fuels were playing in it, as far back as 1988, documents unearthed by a Dutch news organisation have revealed. They include a calculation that the oil company’s products alone were responsible for 4% of total global carbon emissions in 1984. They also predict that changes to sea levels and weather would be “larger than any that have occurred over the past 12,000 years”. As a result, the documents foresee impacts on living standards, food supplies and other major social, political and economic consequences.

In The Greenhouse Effect, a 1988 internal report by Shell scientists, the authors warned that “by the time the global warming becomes detectable it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even to stabilise the situation”. They also acknowledged that many experts predicted an increase in global temperature would be detectable by the end of the century. They went on to state that a “forward-looking approach by the energy industry is clearly desirable”, adding: “With the very long time scales involved, it would be tempting for society to wait until then before doing anything. “The potential implications for the world are, however, so large that policy options need to be considered much earlier. And the energy industry needs to consider how it should play its part.”

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Money trumps history.

Indigenous People Are Being Displaced Again – By Gentrification (Latimore)

It is symptomatic of the colonial-settler prerogative that has sought to eliminate the offensive presence of the natives from any profitable territory. In 21st-century Australia, the “dispersal” that began with European invasion continues through the gentrification of city suburbs where Indigenous identities persist. In the colonial argot of the 19th century, dispersal euphemistically described a bloody practice of massacre and forced dispossession of First Nations peoples, often performed as punishment for perceived theft, or any other form of resistance to the colonisers more generally. In the early and mid-20th century, blackfullas were forcibly coerced into government reserves most commonly known as “missions”.

The overarching intent of these “protection” policies was to ensure the dissolution of First Nations culture and traditional governance structures, pushing mob to develop from “their former primitive state to the standards of the white man”, as the Aboriginal Protection Board said in 1935. When the missions began to be disbanded after the second world war, it forced significant Indigenous migration from the bush to towns and cities, where we repopulated places like Fitzroy, Brisbane’s West End and particularly Redfern in great numbers. This 1950s policy of “assimilation” was essentially a state-sanctioned experiment to force Indigenous people to give up their beliefs and traditions as they adapted to urban life.

[..] Yet the place of blackfullas in Australia’s cities is under threat. Faced with rapid gentrification and associated rental and ownership price hikes, urban Indigenous populations continue to relocate to the outer suburbs, where cheaper housing is usually located. The trend could be viewed as a contemporary iteration of the dispersals of the past – decidedly less bloody, though equally impelled by capitalistic imperatives.

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Logic.

Fish Populations In Great Barrier Reef Collapse After Bleaching Events (Ind.)

The coral bleaching events that have devastated the Great Barrier Reef in recent years have also taken their toll on the region’s fish population, according to a new study. While rising temperatures on the reef killed nearly all the coral in some sections, the effects on the wider marine community have been less clear. Now, scientists have begun to establish the long-term effects of bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef’s fish population. This work is essential for researchers trying to understand what will happen to coral reef ecosystems as global warming makes mass bleaching events more frequent. “The widespread impacts of heat stress on corals have been the subject of much discussion both within and outside the research community,” said PhD student Laura Richardson of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

“We are learning that some corals are more sensitive to heat stress than others, but reef fishes also vary in their response to these disturbances.” Ms Richardson and her collaborators studied reefs in the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef, where around two-thirds of corals were killed in the 2016 bleaching event that followed a global heatwave. The researchers found there were “winners” and “losers” among the fish species on the reef, but overall there was a significant decline in the variety of species following bleaching. Their results were published in the journal Global Change Biology. “Prior to the 2016 mass bleaching event, we observed significant variation in the number of fish species, total fish abundance and functional diversity among different fish communities,” said co-author Dr Andrew Hoey.

“Six months after the bleaching event, however, this variation was almost entirely lost.” Predictably, the scientists noted that fish with intimate associations with corals suffered severe losses. Butterflyfish, which feed on corals, faced the steepest declines. In response to the looming threat of coral bleaching, scientists have called for “radical interventions” to save the world’s reefs. Some have suggested that more than 90% of corals could die by 2050 at the current rate of global warming.

Read more …

Aug 282017
 
 August 28, 2017  Posted by at 9:01 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Lou Reed New York City 1966

 

Harvey’s Cost Reaches Catastrophe: Only 15% Of Homes Have Flood Insurance (BBG)
Gasoline Surges, Oil Holds Near $48 as Harvey Shuts Refineries (BBG)
Mammoth Flood Disaster in Houston: More Rain Yet to Come (WU)
The Coming Collapse Of China’s Ponzi Scheme Economy (SCMP)
What’s Driving The Growth In US ‘Shadow Banking’ (CBR)
Volatility Makes a Comeback (Rickards)
YouTube “Economically Censors” Ron Paul (ZH)
Should The Rich Be Taxed More? (G.)
The West’s Wealth Is Based On Slavery. Reparations Should Be Paid (G.)
Danone Sends 5,000 Cows to Siberia in Quest for Cheaper Milk (BBG)

 

 

The real tragedy takes place below the surface. Sort of literally. Much more rain to come.

Harvey’s Cost Reaches Catastrophe: Only 15% Of Homes Have Flood Insurance (BBG)

Hurricane Harvey’s second act across southern Texas is turning into an economic catastrophe – with damages likely to stretch into tens of billions of dollars and an unusually large share of victims lacking adequate insurance, according to early estimates. Harvey’s cost could mount to $24 billion when including the impact of relentless flooding on the labor force, power grid, transportation and other elements that support the region’s energy sector, Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research, said by phone on Sunday. That would place it among the top eight hurricanes to ever strike the U.S. “A historic event is currently unfolding in Texas,” Aon wrote in an alert to clients. “It will take weeks until the full scope and magnitude of the damage is realized,” and already it’s clear that “an abnormally high portion of economic damage caused by flooding will not be covered,” the insurance broker said.

[..] Most people with flood insurance buy policies backed by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. As of April, less than one-sixth of homes in Houston’s Harris County had federal coverage, according to Aon. That would leave more than 1 million homes unprotected in the county. Coverage rates are similar in neighboring areas. Many cars also will be totaled. “A lot of these people are going to be in very serious financial situations,” said Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute. “Most people who are living in these areas do not have flood insurance. They may be able to collect some grants from the government, but there are not a lot, usually they’re very limited. There are no-interest to low-interest loans, but you have to pay them back.”

The federal program itself is already struggling with $25 billion of debt. The existing program is set to expire on Sept. 30 and is up for review in Congress, which ends its recess Sept. 5. Costs still will likely soar for insurance companies and their reinsurers, biting into earnings. As Harvey bore down on the coastline Friday, William Blair, a securities firm that tracks the industry, said the storm could theoretically inflict $25 billion of insured losses if it landed as a “large category 3 hurricane.” Policyholder-owned State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance has the largest share in the market for home coverage in Texas, followed by Allstate, which is publicly traded. William Blair estimated that, in that scenario, Allstate could incur $500 million of pretax catastrophe losses, shaving 89 cents off of earnings per share.

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Most shutdowns so far are precautionary. But…

Gasoline Surges, Oil Holds Near $48 as Harvey Shuts Refineries (BBG)

Gasoline surged to the highest in two years and oil was steady as flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey inundated refining centers along the Texas coast, shutting more than 10% of U.S. fuel-making capacity. Motor fuel prices rose as much as 6.8%, while oil held gains near $48 a barrel. Harvey, the strongest storm to hit the U.S. since 2004, made landfall as a hurricane Friday, flooding cities and shutting plants able to process some 2.26 million barrels of oil a day. Pipelines were closed, potentially stranding some crude in West Texas and starving New York Harbor of gasoline. Gasoline prices are going to continue to rise this week as we expect another three days of rain in the Houston area,” Andy Lipow, president of consultant Lipow Oil in Houston, said by phone.

“With pipeline operators beginning to shut down their crude oil and refined product infrastructure, I expect to see further curtailment of refinery operations. A spike in gasoline and diesel prices will drag up crude oil prices.” Oil has traded this month in the tightest range since February as investors weigh rising global supply against output cuts by members of OPEC and its allies. As Harvey led to widespread flooding, Shell shut its Deer Park plant, while Magellan Midstream suspended its inbound and outbound refined products and crude pipeline transportation services in the Houston area. Gasoline for September delivery climbed as much as 11.33 cents to $1.7799 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest intraday price for a front-month contract since July 2015.

It traded at $1.7621 at 12:36 p.m. in Hong Kong. West Texas Intermediate oil for October delivery fell 16 cents to $47.71 a barrel after advancing 0.9% on Friday. Brent crude’s premium to WTI widened to the largest in two years with the global benchmark trading at as much as $4.96 above the U.S. marker. Brent for October settlement gained 18 cents, or 0.3%, to $52.59 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

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Waether Underground is probably the best source.

Mammoth Flood Disaster in Houston: More Rain Yet to Come (WU)

Harvey’s winds are expected to remain modest, and it could become a tropical depression at any point, but winds are not the problem here. The NOAA/NWS National Hurricane Center now predicts that Harvey will inch its way into the Gulf of Mexico—though just barely—by Monday night, then arc northeast and make a second landfall just west of Houston on Wednesday. The 12Z GFS and 00Z European model runs agree on a general northward motion for Harvey across eastern Texas, beginning around midweek. At this point it may make little difference whether Harvey stays just inland or moves just offshore, since rainbands would continue to be funneled toward Houston either way. The fine-scale particulars of this outlook may shift over time, but the overall message is consistent: Harvey will be a devastating rainmaking presence in southeast Texas for days to come.

Harvey’s circulation is located in a near-ideal spot for funneling vast amounts of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico toward the upper Texas coast. Here, converging winds at low levels have been concentrating the moisture into north-south-oriented bands of intense thunderstorms with torrential rain. Since Harvey is barely moving, these bands are creeping only slowly eastward as individual cells race north along them—a “training” set-up that is common in major flood events. Mesoscale models, our best guidance for short-term, small-scale behavior of thunderstorms, show little sign of relief for southeast Texas anytime soon. Convection-resolving mesoscale models, which have a tight enough resolution to depict individual thunderstorms, are an invaluable tool in situations like this. The mesoscale nested NAM model predicts that 20” – 30” of additional rainfall is likely through Tuesday across the Houston metro area, with even larger totals at some points.

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Hmm. But what if China manages to unload all its overcapacity on the Belt Road, and makes other countries pay?

The Coming Collapse Of China’s Ponzi Scheme Economy (SCMP)

Friends who have a greater interest than I do in reading the tea leaves in Beijing tell me that the emphasis in relations with Hong Kong from now on will be on one country rather than two systems. I think this phrases things the wrong way. The one country bit was never in issue. What they actually mean to say is that Beijing’s system of state command of the economy will become dominant and Hong Kong’s more freewheeling system will fade away. I don’t think it will happen. In my view human society is so dynamic that no command system can last long in charge of an economy. Attempts at this particular form of hubris inevitably end in either war or financial crisis. For the Soviet Union it was financial crisis. I think the same fate awaits Beijing.

Consider crude steel production, a test-tube example of how command economies get it wrong. In the mainland this stood in June at an all time monthly record of 73 million tonnes, five times the total production in all of Europe. Steel was recently targeted for a reduction in capacity but then a regime of easy money intended to help the industry overcome a difficult period of contraction instead stimulated production. It has happened across the mainland’s rust belt industries. Why is so much steel needed? Simple. It is needed to build more steel mills so as to build more shipyards, ports, railways and bridges so that more ships can be built to carry more iron ore to more ports and thence along more rails and bridges to more steel mills so as to build more shipyards, ports, railways …

What we have here, in short, is a giant Ponzi scheme. In a Ponzi scheme you pay out the winnings of the first entrants with what others later pay into it. As long as it keeps growing everything is fine. When it stops growing it collapses. In this case you justify production with demand based purely on more production. As long as you keep pushing production up everything looks fine. At its peak in 2014 China turned out 30 times more cement than the United States, and the latest production figures are only a smidgen less than 2014’s.

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What do you think? A good sign? It isn’t in China….

What’s Driving The Growth In US ‘Shadow Banking’ (CBR)

In the wake of the 2007–10 financial crisis, there’s been sizeable growth of “shadow banking”— companies without banking charters entering lines of business traditionally associated with deposit-taking banks. Hedge funds that make direct loans to midsize businesses, online mortgage originators, peer-to-peer lending platforms, and payday lenders have all been on the rise. What’s behind this? According to Chicago Booth’s Gregor Matvos, Booth PhD candidate Greg Buchak, Columbia’s Tomasz Piskorski, and Stanford’s Amit Seru, much of the growth is due to regulations that have pushed banks out of traditional lending businesses. The researchers also attribute some growth to online technology that has lowered the barrier to entry in markets where lenders once needed networks of physical branches to have any hope of building business.

The researchers focus on the US residential lending market, the largest consumer loan market in the country—and the market that drew the most attention from regulators after 2008. Between 2007 and 2015, shadow banks nearly tripled their market share, from 14% to 38%. They gained the most in the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage market, which serves lower-quality borrowers and is where shadow banks’ share rose from 20% to 75%. Traditional banks retreated from sectors of the mortgage market where the regulatory burden grew the most, the researchers note. Traditional banks have been particularly hindered by rules that increased monitoring of balance-sheet holdings and constrained what banks could hold in their own accounts.

Their retreat helped shadow banking succeed in the riskier FHA market and in more-traditional, conforming mortgages. The researchers also separated shadow banks into those that did and didn’t originate loans online. During the study period, lenders that originated loans online (fintech lenders) saw market share rise from 4% to 13%—but that remains less than half of the shadow-banking sector.

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Super spikes.

Volatility Makes a Comeback (Rickards)

Volatility has languished near all-time lows for months on end. That’s about to change. For almost a year, one of the most profitable trading strategies has been to sell volatility. Since the election of Donald Trump stocks have been a one-way bet. They almost always go up, and have hit record highs day after day. The strategy of selling volatility has been so profitable that promoters tout it to investors as a source of “steady, low-risk income.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, sellers of volatility have made steady profits the past year. But the strategy is extremely risky and you could lose all of your profits in a single bad day. Think of this strategy as betting your life’s savings on red at a roulette table. If the wheel comes up red, you double your money. But if you keep playing eventually the wheel will come up black and you’ll lose everything.

That’s what it’s like to sell volatility. It feels good for a while, but eventually a black swan appears like the black number on the roulette wheel, and the sellers get wiped out. I focus on the shocks and unexpected events that others don’t see. Right now looks like one of those highly favorable windows when the purchase of volatility is the right move. You could collect huge winnings as the short sellers scramble to cover their bets before they are wiped out completely. The chart below shows a 20-year history of volatility spikes. You can observe long periods of relatively low volatility such as 2004 to 2007, and 2013 to mid-2015, but these are inevitably followed by volatility super-spikes. During these super-spikes the sellers of volatility are crushed, sometimes to the point of bankruptcy because they can’t cover their bets.

The period from mid-2015 to late 2016 saw some brief volatility spikes associated with the Chinese devaluation (August and December 2015), Brexit (June 23, 2016) and the election of Donald Trump (Nov. 8, 2016). But, none of these spikes reached the super-spike levels of 2008 – 2012. In short, we have been on a volatility holiday. Volatility is historically low and has remained so for an unusually long period of time. The sellers of volatility have been collecting “steady income,” yet this is really just a winning streak at the volatility casino. The wheel of fortune is about to turn and luck is about to run out for the sellers. It will soon be time for the buyers of volatility to collect their winnings, big time.

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Sliding scales. One step before large tech is declared utility?!

YouTube “Economically Censors” Ron Paul (ZH)

Former US Congressman Ron Paul has joined a growing list of independent political journalists and commentators who’re being economically punished by YouTube despite producing videos that routinely receive hundreds of thousands of views. In a tweet published Saturday, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange tweeted a screenshot of Paul’s “Liberty Report” page showing that his videos had been labeled “not suitable” for all advertisers by YouTube’s content arbiters. Assange claims that Paul was being punished for speaking out about President Donald Trump’s decision to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan, after Paul published a video on the subject earlier this week. The notion that YouTube would want to economically punish a former US Congressman for sharing his views on US foreign policy – a topic that he is unequivocally qualified to speak about – is absurd.

Furthermore, the “review requested” marking on one of Paul’s videos reveals that they were initially flagged by users before YouTube’s moderators confirmed that the videos were unsuitable for a broad audience. Other political commentators who’ve been censored by YouTube include Paul Joseph Watson and Tim Black – both ostensibly for sharing political views that differ from the mainstream neo-liberal ideology favored by the Silicon Valley elite. Last week, Google – another Alphabet Inc. company – briefly banned Salil Mehta, an adjunct professor at Columbia and Georgetown who teaches probability and data science, from using its service, freezing his accounts without providing an explanation. He was later allowed to return to the service. Conservative journalist Lauren Southern spoke out about YouTube’s drive to stifle politically divergent journalists and commentators during an interview with the Daily Caller.

“I think it would be insane to suggest there’s not an active effort to censor conservative and independent views,” said Southern. “Considering most of Silicon Valley participate in the censorship of alleged ‘hate speech,’ diversity hiring and inclusivity committees. Their entire model is based around a far left outline. There’s no merit hiring, there’s no support of free speech and there certainly is not an equal representation of political views at these companies.” Of course, Google isn’t the only Silicon Valley company that’s enamored with censorship. Facebook has promised to eradicate “fake news,” which, by its definition, includes political content that falls outside of the mainstream. Still, economically punishing a former US Congressman and medical doctor is a new low in Silicon Valley’s campaign to stamp out dissent.

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The most prosperous times of our societies coincide with the highest tax levels for the rich.

Should The Rich Be Taxed More? (G.)

The past four decades have been extremely kind to those at the top. They have seen their incomes grow faster than the rest of the population and hold a far bigger share of wealth in the form of property and financial investments than the rest of the population. Over the years a bigger slice of national income has gone to capital at the expense of labour, and the rich have been the beneficiaries of that, because they are more likely to own shares and expensive houses. The trend has been particularly strong in the US, where labour’s share of income has fallen from a recent peak of 57% at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency to 53% by 2015. The Gini coefficient – a measure of inequality – has been steadily rising since 1970 and is now at levels normally seen in developing rather than advanced economies.

Hatgioannides, Karanassou and Sala seek to take account of these profound changes in the distribution of income and wealth. They do so by dividing the average income tax rate of a particular slice of the US population by the%age of national income commanded by that same group and by their share of wealth. They then look at whether by this measure – the fiscal inequality coefficient – the US tax system has become more or less progressive over time. The findings show quite clearly that it has become less progressive. In terms of income, the poorest 99% of the US population paid nine times as much income tax as the richest 1%, both when John F Kennedy was president in the early 1960s and when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in the 1980 race for the White House. By 2014, they paid 21 times as much.

Similarly, the bottom 99.9% in the US paid 28 times as much tax as the elite 0.1% in the early 1960s and the early 1980s, but by 2014 they were paying 76 times as much. The same trend applies – although it is not pronounced – when income tax is divided by the share of wealth. The bottom 99% paid 22 times as much income tax as the wealthiest 1% in 1980 but were paying 47 times as much in 2014. The bottom 99.9% paid 58 times as much income tax as the top 0.1% before the onset of Reaganomics; by 2014 they were paying 175 times as much. [..] As the authors note, since 1980, economic policy making has been dominated by the idea that deregulation, less generous welfare and tax cuts will stimulate higher investment, higher productivity, higher growth and higher living standards for all. None of this has occurred and, what’s more, the social mobility in the decades after the second world war has been thrown into reverse. The great American dream – the notion that anybody can strike it rich – is dead.

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They won’t be.

The West’s Wealth Is Based On Slavery. Reparations Should Be Paid (G.)

Malcolm X explained that “if you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, that’s not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. The progress comes from healing the wound that the blow made”. Instead of attempting to fix the damage, we are completely unable to progress on issues of equality because countries such as Britain “won’t even admit the knife is there”. It is the height of delusion to think that the impact of slavery ended with emancipation, or that empire was absolved by the charade of independence being bestowed on the former colonies.

[..]It is not just governments that owe a debt; some of the biggest institutions and corporations built their wealth on slavery. Lloyds of London is one of Britain’s most successful companies and its roots lie in insuring the merchant trade in the 17th century. The fact that this was the slave trade has already led to civil action being taken by African Americans in New York. The church, many of the biggest banks, much of the ironworks industry and port cities gorged themselves on the profits from human flesh. It is clear that it would be just to pay reparations, and it is also possible to calculate the amount that Britain and other nations owe. A lot of work has been done in the United States to determine the damages owed to African Americans. The figure owed comes to far more than the “forty acres and a mule” that were promised to some African Americans who fought in the civil war.

The latest calculations from researchers estimates that for unpaid labour, taking into account interest and inflation, African Americans are owed anywhere between $5.9tn and $14.2tn. It would not be prohibitively complicated to work out the debts owed by the western powers, or the companies that enriched themselves off exploitation. The obviousness of the issue is such that a federation of Caribbean countries (Caricom) is now demanding reparations, as is the Movement for Black Lives in America and Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe. In many ways the calls for reparatory justice do not take go far enough. Caricom includes a demand to cancel third world debt, and the Movement for Black Lives for free tuition for African Americans.

Both of these are examples of removing the knife from our backs, rather than healing the wound. Third world debt was an unjust mechanism for maintaining colonial economic control and; allowing free access to a deeply problematic school system will not eradicate the impacts of centuries of oppression. In order to have racial justice we need to hit the reset button and have the west account for the wealth stolen and devastation caused. Nothing short of a massive transfer of wealth from the developed to the underdeveloped world, and to the descendants of slavery and colonialism in the west, can heal the deep wounds inflicted.

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Cows to Qatar, cown to SIberia: the new backpackers?!

Danone Sends 5,000 Cows to Siberia in Quest for Cheaper Milk (BBG)

President Vladimir Putin’s ban on European Union cheese imports has driven up milk prices in Russia by so much that French yogurt maker Danone is transporting almost 5,000 cows to a farm in Siberia to ensure it has an affordable supply. The Holstein cows are traveling as many as 2,800 miles (4,500 kilometers) in trucks from the Netherlands and Germany, boosting the herd on a farm near the city of Tyumen, according to Charlie Cappetti, head of Danone’s Russian unit. That should protect the company from the increase in raw milk prices, which are up 14% this year, he said. “Milk prices have been going up steadily,” Cappetti said in an interview in Moscow. “That puts products such as yogurt under pressure.” While the French dairy company doesn’t normally invest in agriculture, it made an exception for Russia.

After Putin’s ban on dairy imports took hold in 2014, demand for milk surged as local cheesemakers rushed to replace French camembert and Italian pecorino. That has exacerbated the inflationary effects of the ruble’s weakness. Danone invested in the 60-hectare (150-acre) farm with local producer Damate, Cappetti said. The first cows started to provide milk for Danone in May, and a final shipment of cattle is due to arrive in September. “We hope that Russian milk inflation will slow down next year,” the executive said. The difference between supply and demand is narrowing as new milk is coming to the market, including from the Siberian farm. While easing milk inflation may help the Russian dairy market rebound in volume terms, Danone isn’t expecting a fast economic recovery in the country, according to Cappetti. Sales in Russia have been growing in line with inflation in the first half and should rise in 2018, he said.

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