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[Markets] Communist China's Silent War Against America Communist China's Silent War Against America Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 23:30

Authored by Bowen Xiao via The Epoch Times,

Stealthily, surreptitiously, and with sweeping precision, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began a decades-long war against America for world domination by utilizing a military strategy known as “unrestricted warfare” that continues today.

Unbeknownst to most of the population, the CCP has infiltrated almost every major avenue of life in the United States - leaving virtually no industry untouched. While this threat has largely existed undetected, the effects it’s had on the nation, as well as its geopolitical consequences, are far-reaching.

Skirting the traditional, direct military confrontation offensives that have become somewhat outdated in modern times, this unconventional strategy has become central to the communist regime’s approach to warfare.

The strategy is highlighted in the 1999 book “Unrestricted Warfare,” authored by two Chinese air force colonels—Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui—and published by the People’s Liberation Army, the armed forces of the CCP. The book, which has been translated into English, is based on the original army documents.

Beijing uses an array of subversive tactics, including, but not limited to, propaganda warfare, culture warfare, memetic warfare, front operations, political infiltration, technological and telecommunications warfare, legal warfare, economic espionage, education espionage, cyberwarfare, and sanctions warfare.

Exploitation, infiltration, and espionage are all recurring themes. The CCP employs all of them to varying degrees simultaneously in multiple sectors of society in order to undermine or influence the United States—its main impediment to global domination.

While some examples are more obvious, such as China’s long history of intellectual property theft and unfair trade practices with the United States, others that use what it calls “soft power” are harder to detect.

One such avenue is its Party-backed Confucius Institutes (CIs) that infiltrate and operate on American college campuses in order to boost CCP’s image. It also aims to push a foreign policy goal of making the regime not only an economic superpower, but also a cultural one.

CIs have attracted attention from lawmakers, national organizations, and the FBI over allegations that the program undermines academic freedom. The CIs have been accused of promoting Chinese communist propaganda under the pretense of promoting the Chinese language and history. There are thousands of CIs over the world and, by one count, at least 75 in America.

Other examples are more blatant, from a former chair of Harvard University’s chemistry department being recently indicted for making false statements about funding he received from China to a Chinese citizen who was found guilty of economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, and conspiracy.

In the latter case, a man identified as 41-year-old Hao Zhang was found to have attempted to steal trade secrets from two U.S. companies “for the benefit of the People’s Republic of China,” according to the Justice Department. Zhang stole information specifically related to the performance of wireless devices.

Economic espionage “is a pervasive threat throughout the United States, particularly to the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, which is the center of innovation and technology,” John F. Bennett, special agent in charge of the San Francisco Division of the FBI, said of the case involving Zhang.

The Thousand Talents Plan, one of the more widely known CCP talent recruitment or “brain gain” programs, encourages theft of intellectual property from U.S. institutions, according to the FBI. By offering competitive salaries, state-of-the-art research facilities, and honorific titles, these programs lure talent from overseas into China, “even if that means stealing proprietary information or violating export controls to do so,” the bureau states.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified in 2018 that the bureau was attempting to view the danger posed by China “as not just a whole-of-government threat, but a whole-of-society threat on their end.” To counter China’s strategy effectively, Wray said the United States must also employ a “whole-of-society response.” 

Walter Lohman, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, said the United States has treated China’s “sensitivities” carefully, yet has received “nothing in return.”

“China’s aggressive behavior over the last 15 years or so has only gotten worse, despite our best efforts,” he told The Epoch Times.

China currently poses the biggest threat to the United States because it is “powerful across the range of indicators, and … is directly threatening so many American interests, like our communication networks, like Taiwan, freedom in Hong Kong, and freedom of the seas,” he said.

The CCP also has aggressively promoted and pushed its telecommunications companies, such as Huawei, and ZTE, as well as Chinese-owned apps like TikTok and Zoom, into the United States and around the world.

Lawmakers and U.S. officials have begun to realize the national security threats these Chinese companies pose. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in June formally designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats, thus banning access to money from the FCC’s $8.3 billion a year Universal Service Fund to buy or modify any equipment or services provided by the suppliers.

One reason behind the decision, as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai notes, is that both companies are closely linked to the CCP and its military apparatus, in that they “are broadly subject to Chinese law obligating them to cooperate with the country’s intelligence services.” Both companies deny this.

Chinese-owned TikTok, which has seen meteoric growth in the United States, also was recently found to be secretly reading users’ clipboard data, although the app now claims that it has fixed the issue. There are similar concerns about Zoom, as researchers found that encryption keys were being transmitted to servers in China.

While the United States is stepping up its efforts to counter threats from Beijing, the communist regime is simultaneously ramping up its own aggressive endeavors through the CCP’s United Front Work Department.

This unit coordinates thousands of groups to carry out foreign political influence operations, suppress dissident movements, gather intelligence, and facilitate the transfer of other countries’ technology to China, according to a June report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Its political influence initiatives target foreign elites, including politicians and business executives, and are often covert in nature, the report said. Overseas Chinese communities are also key targets, with the Party seeking to co-opt and control community groups, business associations, and Chinese-language media.

Alex Joske, author of the report, said that the United Front’s work abroad amounts to an “exportation of the CCP’s political system.” Its effort “undermines social cohesion, exacerbates racial tension, influences politics, harms media integrity, facilitates espionage, and increases unsupervised technology transfer,” the report states.

With these CCP-backed companies, the regime is attempting to exert its influence over the entire globe, not just the United States. Some major programs backed by the regime that also play into its international ambitions are its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its “Made in China 2025? plan.

The CCP, through the BRI, injected billions of dollars into low-income countries in order to build their infrastructure projects. Since 2013, the initiative has launched more than 2,900 projects valued at $3.87 trillion. The BRI has been called a “debt trap” because of Beijing’s predatory lending practices, which leave countries vulnerable to China’s aggressive influence campaigns.

Over the past two decades, China has become a major global lender, with outstanding debt exceeding $5.5 trillion in 2019—more than 6 percent of global gross domestic product, a report by the Institute of International Finance stated.

And the CCP’s “Made in China 2025? industrial plan, which was rolled out in 2015, seeks to make the country a global competitor in 10 tech sectors by 2025. In late 2018, Beijing also began “China Standards 2035” to accelerate efforts to become the leader in burgeoning tech sectors such as big data, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things (IoT).

Meanwhile, a report published in March determined that Beijing was exploiting the global CCP virus pandemic, which first broke out in Wuhan, China, to advance its economic goals and fulfill its wider ambitions.

“Beijing intends to use the global dislocation and downturn to attract foreign investment, to seize strategic market share and resources—especially those that force dependence [on China],” the report by Horizon Advisory, a U.S.-based independent consultancy, states. The group reviewed recent policies and notices announced by Chinese central government agencies, regional governments, and research institutes.

While a growing number of countries are expressing anger and frustration over Beijing’s botched handling of the outbreak, exacerbated by a wide-reaching coverup, backlash is also mounting against its efforts to brand itself as a global leader in combating the pandemic.

Beijing sent a slew of medical experts and supplies such as masks and respirators to countries where they were desperately needed in a bid to improve its image.

But the products it delivered often turned out to be defective, leaving countries no choice but to reject the faulty equipment. The Netherlands, Spain, TurkeyFinland, Britain, and Ireland are just some of the countries that received supplies found to be unusable.

“Authoritative Chinese sources state explicitly that the economic ravages and dislocation that COVID-19 creates give China an opportunity to expand its dominance in global markets and supply chains—both in the real economy and in the virtual domain,” the Horizon Advisory report states. “They also stress that the present crisis will allow Beijing to reverse U.S. efforts to protect its systems, and those of its allies, from China.”

Published:7/11/2020 10:39:31 PM
[Markets] First Federal Execution In 17 Years Halted On Coronavirus Fears First Federal Execution In 17 Years Halted On Coronavirus Fears Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 23:00

A year ago the Department of Justice announced for the first time in nearly two decades the resumption of capital punishment in federal cases, with Attorney General William Barr announcing the process for the execution of five death-row in mates is set to move forward, marking the first federal executions since 2003

The first federal execution in 17 years was to take place on Monday of this next week prior to a federal judge in Indiana halting it. 47-year old Daniel Lee is to die by lethal injection for the 1996 slaying of a family — William Mueller, his wife, Nancy, and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell.

The only execution chamber in the federal prison system, at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute. Via AP

But Chief District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in an unusual ruling has halted the scheduled execution on coronavirus fears. She cited that the families of the victims are too afraid of traveling during the pandemic, as well as the potential risk to elderly family members at the site of the execution given that COVID-19 has especially ravaged prisons and correctional facilities.

The family of the victims filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to get the execution date pushed back:

Earlene Peterson, the mother of Nancy Mueller and grandmother of 8-year-old Sarah Powell, two of the three brutally murdered in 1996, says the coronavirus poses too much of a travel threat for her to leave her home in Hector to go to Indiana.

Right now, Lee is set to be put to death Monday at the federal prison in Terre Haute, but the lawsuit filed Tuesday could change that.

In it, Peterson’s attorney sites multiple health conditions of different family members that could be lethal if one of them contracts coronavirus while traveling to the execution.

Upon the delay, the Justice Department said it would be appealing Magnus-Stinson's ruling to the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

1997 file photo Danny Lee, The Courier via AP.

Two more executions are scheduled at Terre Haute for next week as it's the only federal prison to have an active death chamber. The judge's ruling in the Lee execution does not impact these.

The men awaiting federal death sentences were involved in heinous crimes involving deaths of families and children: "In January 1996, Lee and his accomplice, Chevie Kehoe, burglarized Mueller's house in Tilly and waited for him and his wife and stepdaughter to come home. Lee and Kehoe used a stun rod to incapacitate the victims before taping plastic bags over their heads to asphyxiate them, authorities said."

Prior to stopping federal execution cases in 2003, perhaps the more notorious criminal to be put to death was Timothy McVeigh in 2001, for killing 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing, and further recent death row cases awaiting execution include Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in 2015 for the Boston Marathon bombing, and white supremacist Dylann Roof in 2017 for the Charleston church shooting.

Published:7/11/2020 10:10:07 PM
[Markets] Binney & Sullivan: An Open Letter Challenge To Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey On Censorship Binney & Sullivan: An Open Letter Challenge To Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey On Censorship Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 22:30

Authored by Jason Sullivan and Bill Binney,

Open Letter to Jack Dorsey...

The American People and Social Media

"We seek a free flow of information... we are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values."

– John F. Kennedy, February 1962

Dear Mr. Dorsey,

At the September 5, 2018, U.S. Congressional Hearing in which you gave testimony under oath, you stated, in part:

"Twitter does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules. We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our rules impartially. We do not shadowban anyone based on political ideology. From a simple business perspective and to serve the public conversation, Twitter is incentivized to keep all voices on the platform."

What we now know, thanks to multiple media investigations, is that; not only is Twitter engaged in censorship, but that it also openly weights its decisions by subjective terminology like "highest potential for harm" meant to obscure its motive of silencing any opposition to the mainstream narrative of both political "sides."

At its inception, America was intended to be a free and open society, a land of opportunity where common people could freely express their thoughts and ideas, a place where Americans could practice freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly without fear of persecution. Throughout the history of our great nation, brave men and women have fought and died to protect these God-given inalienable rights. That is why the Founding Fathers wrote protections into the Bill of Rights for the generations to come. Thomas Jefferson insisted on the 1st Amendment, and swore upon an altar of God against all forms of tyranny over the mind of man.

It is the great wisdom and divine vision of our Founding Fathers that is responsible for propelling America's trajectory to become the greatest nation on earth, both admired by those inspired by its idea and feared by those who oppose the light of truth it represents.

President Harry S. Truman said:

"Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear."

Our Founding Fathers drafted the Bill of Rights not to protect popular speech or the popular majority, but to protect the rights of the minority, lest they fall silent and all real social progress cease. By attempting to make polarized views inaccessible, you effectively shut down the discussion of ideas born out of the flaws in the current system, creating a two-sided echo chamber that neither enlightens people nor helps society grow.

It prevents people from engaging in quality discourse over any ideology that subjectively may "offend" people on all sides.

This Orwellian tactic represents the wishes of citizens on either side of the aisle, but perfectly captures the profit-driven motive behind the corporate stance. That no opinion except the popular view of the moment need be allowed. The popular opinion can be shaped by the controlling interests of the corporation that holds the medium hostage. After all, in a world where lines of division are controlled and silenced, new generations of people being immersed in only an ofGicial narrative will have little other recourse for truly free thought.

We understand that social media is not the government and that companies such as Twitter are private entities. Yet at what point does a private body expand beyond using this excuse to shelter themselves from accountability for their provably suspicious behavior, and enter the realm of being a public service used by billions of people the world over?

Twitter is not just a messaging board. After all, it aggregates news, offers content suggestions based on meticulously created algorithms that track a person's every click. It is designed to create and maintain echo chambers and censor out any offending opinions. This creates a dangerous precedent, especially in terms of abusing its power to shape public opinion along controlling party lines actively.

For example, the very powerful Democratic Congressman, Adam Schiff, chair of the Congressional Intelligence Community, wrote a letter to the top social media platforms, urging them to censor discussions of vaccine injuries, which certainly do occur. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out over $4 billion for vaccine injuries since its inception in December 1987. Yes, there are those who, in misplaced zeal, offer opinions less than worthy of note. Still, there should never be a point where a multi-billion dollar corporation steps in and removes people's ability to actively discuss issues like this on either side of the aisle. Healthy discussion, after all, is what leads to progress, spurs forward innovation, and motivates accountability across the board.

President John F. Kennedy said:

"The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweigh the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in ensuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment."

By their very nature, social media platforms have become the dominant platform in the exchange of information and ideas. Technology's inexorable march into the Digital Age has created a connected world, a communications platform without peer or precedent. Whether by design or not, social media has become the largest and most powerful public forum on the planet. As you duly noted in your testimony, Twitter and other platforms have created a true "global public square."

Why would any American-based platforms intentionally design their rules or weight their "community standards" toward one group of views over another, in direct conflict with the protections of the 1st Amendment of the United States? Any "community standard" practices less than or not equal to the 1st Amendment standards would essentially be unAmerican, wouldn't it?

In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized (in a unanimous opinion) that social media platforms are the most important platforms for the exchange of information and ideas. That is why so many people, government officials, human rights agencies, and activists are working around the clock to protect "equal and fair" access to social media for all of the people, even if someone's ideas are unpopular or controversial.

The more profound question then becomes: With evidence mounting to support the fact that censorship not only occurs but often leans toward the moderator's individual biases or those few interests who control the moderator, at what point do we look at the equation and note the collusion that takes shape? What begins to appear out of the murky water of legalese excuses is a distinct pattern of systematic control exercised by a few interests who can weight and shape the landscape of public opinion with a dangerous amount of unchecked power.

The fact is, that for all the excuses put forward, the lies given to not just the American People, but the citizens of the global community at large, the provability of censorship to a startling degree is not only easy to see, but can be identified with cold sets of data, and be recreated and shown to the masses.

Pursuant to the above, I, Jason Sullivan (aka "The Wizard of Twitter"), along with Bill Binney (former NSA Lead Technical Director and developer of its surveillance metadata program Thin Thread) hereby challenge you, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, that your company systematically and aggressively censor "free speech" on your ubiquitous platform concerning the following three criteria.

1. Twitter shadowbans ( including "deboosting" people and hiding their words to more substantial audiences "based on larger political success of their corporate ideology.

2. Twitter censors religious and medical freedoms that subvert human rights. (while promulgating some alarming content that Gits their broader agenda.)

3. Twitter removes and physically deplatforms voices that challenge its views and ideology while lifting similar content; it deems in line with its own goals.

We are intent on proving these facts beyond a shadow of a doubt and are fully prepared to do so.

Mr. Dorsey, please prove us wrong. Please show to the American people and us that you do not shadowban based on political views; you do not censor religious and health freedom views; and you do not censor voices dissonant with your personal views.

Please provide this evidence to the public within seven days. If you would like to discuss how to do that best, please contact us. We look forward to the evidence of testimony before Congress and the President of the United States. We look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely yours,

Jason Sullivan [aka The Wizard of Twitter]

Bill Binney [former NSA Lead Technical Director]

*  *  *

Co-signatories:

Lynnette Hardaway & Rochelle Richardson

aka: Diamond & Silk

Terrence K. Williams

Actor / Comedian / Commentator Extraordinaire

Chris Sullivan 

Founder of the Outback Steakhouse Restaurant Concept - Now Bloomin' Brands

Richard Beard, III 

Principal at RA Beard Company

Dr. Rodney Howard Browne 

Lead Pastor at Revival Ministries International

Dr. Ben Graham 

Pastor and President of Graham Family Films

David J. Harris, Jr. 

Author of Why I Couldn't Stay Silent: One Man's Battle as a Black Conservative

Christina Engelstad & Lyndsey Morris

The Deplorable Choir

Ben & Tina Garrison 

American Political Cartoonists

Zach Vorhies 

Google Whistleblower 

Dr. Tony B. Beizaee

Leadership Council at Republican Jewish Coalition, Special Envoy at America Israel Society

Ty and Charlene Bollinger 

Founders of The Truth About Cancer (TTAC)

Kevin Jenkins

Executive Director, Urban Global Health Alliance

Jason Fyke 

The ongoing lawsuit against Facebook on anti-competitive grounds in the 9th Circuit Court

Dr. Judy A Mikovits 

Ph.D., Author of Plague of Corruption: Restoring Faith in the Promise of Science

Dr. Joseph Mercola 

D.O., F.A.C.N., Founder of Mercola.com

Dr. Sherri J Tenpenny

D.O.

Dr. Andrew Jeremy Wakefield 

MB, BS

Ann Vandersteel

Host of SteelTruth

Dr. Edward F. Fogarty, III, MD

Adjunct Professor, Radiologist, HBOT Specialist

Past President of the International Hyperbaric Medical Foundation

James O. Grundvig

Author & Investigative Journalist

Published:7/11/2020 9:38:15 PM
[Markets] Coronavirus: The Under-40s Dilemma Coronavirus: The Under-40s Dilemma Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 22:00

Last week, Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid made a striking observation, one which threw all coronavirus comparisons to the Spanish Flu, and the coming second wave of the pandemic, in for a loop.

Specifically, Reid cited a paper that influenced market thinking in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic looked at the effect of non-pharmaceutical interventions like social distancing and school closures during the Spanish flu (link here). The paper found that the US cities that implemented these measures tended to have better economic outcomes over the medium term. This offered historical support to the argument that there wasn’t such a big trade-off between economic activity and public health, because you needed to suppress the virus to enable consumers to be more confident and for businesses to operate as normal.

However, a major difference between Spanish flu and Covid-19 was the age distribution of fatalities, as shown in the chart below:

Here is the punchline: for Covid-19, the elderly have been overwhelmingly the worst hit. For the Spanish flu of 1918, the young working-age population were severely affected too. In fact, the death rate from pneumonia and influenza that year among 25-34 year olds in the United States was more than 50% higher than that for 65-74 year olds, "a remarkable difference to Covid-19."

Now, in a follow up observation from Reid, the DB credit strategist points out another coronavirus peculiarity: the fact that the virus leads to virtually no fatalities of people below 45.

As Reid writes, the UK has been one of the worst-hit countries in the world when it comes to fatalities per head from Covid-19. The country has seen around 60,000 excess deaths relative to the previous 5-year average. But given the scale of these numbers, Reid points out a "remarkable fact" that among those aged under around 40, deaths have been roughly the same as for the previous 5-year baseline (using England and Wales data). This backs up previous observations on how age-discriminant Covid-19 has been.

It's not just the UK: in Sweden (pop. 10.25m), where there was no lockdown, huge international criticism of its strategy, and one of the highest fatalities per head in the world – only 70 people under 49 years old have died of Covid-19, out of 5,482 total virus deaths (1.3%) so far. For context, average annual deaths in Sweden over the last 5 years for under-49-year-olds have been 3,417.

And yet, while the coronavirus has lead to virtually no excess deaths in younger age cohorts, it is the younger strata of society that are the most impact by the economic shutdowns that have resulted in tens of millions of unemployed Millennials.

Indeed, as the second DB chart below shows, lockdowns will likely lead to 2020 being the worst year for the UK economy for 310 years.

As Reid provocatively puts it, "younger people will be suffering most from the economic impact of Covid-19 for many years to come, we wonder how history will judge the global response." That said, since the economic crisis resulting from Covid-19 has also unleashed full-blown helicopter money as well as the biggest round of corporate bailouts of insolvent and zombie companies in history, we are confident that the tsunami of global moral hazard - which will leave tens of millions of young workers without a job - will allow central bankers to sleep soundly at night.

Reid's conclusion: "the debate is more nuanced than a 250-word email can capture (e.g. the potential long-term implications of Covid-19 on individual health, the need to protect healthcare systems, etc.), but it’s a good discussion to have."

Alas, the die has already been cast and it is now far too late.

Published:7/11/2020 9:10:01 PM
[Markets] LA Teachers Union Says Schools Can't Reopen Unless Charter Schools Get Shut-Down, Police Defunded LA Teachers Union Says Schools Can't Reopen Unless Charter Schools Get Shut-Down, Police Defunded Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 21:30

Authored by Daniel Payne via JustTheNews.com,

A major teachers union is claiming that the re-opening of schools in its district cannot occur without several substantial policy provisions in place, including a "moratorium" on charter schools and the defunding of local police. 

United Teachers Los Angeles, a 35,000-strong union in the Los Angeles Unified School District, made those demands in a policy paper it released this week. The organization called on local authorities to "keep school campuses closed when the semester begins on Aug. 18."

The union outlined numerous major provisions it says will be necessary to reopen schools again, including sequestering students in small groups throughout the school day, providing students with masks and other forms of protective equipment, and re-designing school layouts in order to facilitate "social distancing." 

Yet the union goes even farther than those requests, calling for "local support" in the form of defunded police departments and the shuttering of charter schools. 

Police violence "is a leading cause of death and trauma for Black people, and is a serious public health and moral issue," the union writes. The document calls on authorities to "shift the astronomical amount of money devoted to policing, to education and other essential needs such as housing and public health."

"Privately operated, publicly funded charter schools," meanwhile, "drain resources from district schools," the union states. The practice of "colocating" charter schools in existing structures, it continues, "adds students to campuses when we need to reduce the number of students to allow for physical distancing."

The union also demands the implementation of a federal Medicare-for-All program, several new state-level taxes on wealthy people, and a "federal bailout" of the school district. 

"The benefits to restarting physical schools must outweigh the risks, especially for our most vulnerable students and school communities," the document continues. 

"As it stands, the only people guaranteed to benefit from the premature physical reopening of schools amidst a rapidly accelerating pandemic are billionaires and the politicians they’ve purchased," it adds. 

Published:7/11/2020 8:50:46 PM
[Markets] China Says Samples Of Imported Salmon Tested Positive For COVID-19 China Says Samples Of Imported Salmon Tested Positive For COVID-19 Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 21:00

We've been paying close attention to Chinese propaganda since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, and six months in now, we must give the CCP credit where credit is due: thanks to the tightly controlled media atmosphere inside the country, the CCP's propaganda machine is mercilessly effective. With the full weight of the state-controlled press behind them, the CCP can manufacture false narratives out of thin air, subtly sowing doubts in the minds of the Chinese people that maybe SARS-CoV-2 didn't originate in China.

Yesterday, we noted a report in the Global Times (one of many English-language outlets controlled by the CCP) relaying a warning from China's embassy in Astana about a deadly pneumonia potentially even more lethal than the coronavirus. More than 1,500 had apparently been confirmed already, and it's feared that more remain unconfirmed - at least, according to the report. Given the sourcing - the story cited China's embassy in the country as its primary source, not the Kazakh public health officials who have been overseeing the coronavirus outbreak.

Immediately, it was clear to us the report was planted as a nudge to the Chinese people to sow doubts about China's role in unleashing the outbreak. Unsurprisingly, the WHO treated the report with deference, saying that while they believed most of these pneumonia cases were caused by SARS-CoV-2, they would look into it nonetheless. 

Of course, every narrative becomes easier to swallow when the people want to believe it. But that's perhaps besides the point.

Much like the Big Apple, China's propaganda machine never sleeps. And on Saturday, Bloomberg signal-boosted local reports claiming that imported shrimp from Ecuador had been found to be carrying traces of the virus which were found in the packaging (apparently, no traces were detected in the shrimp itself).

China said samples of imported shrimp tested positive for the coronavirus, raising questions again over whether the pathogen can spread through food or frozen products.

The virus tested positive on both the inside and outside of the shrimp packaging, said China’s General Administration of Customs. The samples were from three Ecuadorian plants, and imports from those processors will be halted, it said. A leading Ecuadorian shrimp exporter disputed the findings.

"The test result doesn’t mean the virus is contagious, but reflects the loopholes in companies’ food safety regulations,” said Bi Kexin, director of the food import and export safety bureau in the customs department. “Customs will further strengthen control of the origins of imported cold-chain food.”

This isn't the first time the CCP has tried to portray imported seafood as a threat. A few weeks ago, when the first post-lockdown cluster was found in Beijing and traced to a wholesale market in the southwestern parts of the city, officials there said traces of salmon found on a cutting board had tested positive. This triggered a nationwide boycott that led to thousands of tons of imported salmon being thrown in the trash.

Though traces of the virus were apparently found on the packaging, whether those traces may have actually been infectious isn't clear.

At the time, China began mass testing cold food imports at ports, and blocked shipments of meat from plants abroad that reported infections.

But as one Rabobank analyst confirmed to BBG, evidence suggests that it’s extremely unlikely for the virus to be transmitted through food, according to Gorjan Nikolik, Rabobank's director of seafood .

“It’s a typical food scare” he said. “I expect them to be very short-lived.”

By testing seafood so aggressively, this setup effectively guarantees the CCP a steady stream of legitimate 'positive' tests. These reports will induce panic, and hurt local businesses forced to take a loss on their wears, but the CCP doesn't care. The propaganda value is clearly too great.

Understandably, the FDA felt compelled to issue a statement on the issue, and in that statement the agency asserted that there is no evidence that tainted food packaging can transmit the virus (not even to workers at the warehouses that handle the packaging).

The Ecuadorian exporter, who agreed to close down and do a cleaning, helped put into context how minor the sample actually was.

Ecuadorian shrimp exporter Santa Priscila questioned the findings and lamented the blow to the industry’s reputation, saying Chinese officials had refused to provide information on the testing in recent weeks.

"They found one positive non-contagious test ‘inside the wall of the container’ as a result of 227,934 samples taken from the containers, that is 0.0000043%,” Santa Priscila President and founder Santiago Salem said in a statement.

So anybody shipping seafood to markets in China, beware: If there's even a speak of virus RNA on the packaging or in the food that you ship, the CCP will find it, and exploit it for political gain. And if you lose money and your business goes under? Well, my friend, that's just a little something called "counterparty risk".

Published:7/11/2020 8:08:11 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: OPEC and allies set to ease oil output cuts, anticipating demand recovery An alliance of crude producers led by Saudi Arabia is pushing OPEC and its allies to increase oil production starting in August, officials in the group said, amid signs that demand is returning to normal levels following coronavirus-related lockdowns.
Published:7/11/2020 7:41:33 PM
[Markets] When Will The Madness End? When Will The Madness End? Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 20:30

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The American Institute for Economic research,

I was sitting in the green room in a Manhattan television studio on the day that the storm seemed to hit. It was Thursday, March 12, 2020, and I was waiting anxiously for a TV appearance, hoping that the trains wouldn’t shut down before I could leave the city. The trains never did shut but half of everything else did. 

On this day, everyone knew what was coming. There was disease panic in the air, fomented mostly by the media and political figures. A month earlier, the idea of lockdown was unthinkable, but now it seemed like it could happen, at any moment. 

A thin, wise-looking bearded man with Freud-style glasses sat down across from me, having just left the studio. He was there to catch his breath following his interview but he looked deeply troubled. 

“There is fear in the air,” I said, breaking the silence. 

“Madness is all around us. The public is adopting a personality disorder I’ve been treating my whole career.”

“What is it that you do?” I asked. 

I’m a practicing psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety disorders, paranoid delusions, and irrational fear. I’ve been treating this in individuals as a specialist. It’s hard enough to contain these problems in normal times. What’s happening now is a spread of this serious medical condition to the whole population. It can happen with anything but here we see a primal fear of disease turning into mass panic. It seems almost deliberate. It is tragic. Once this starts, it could take years to repair the psychological damage.

I sat there a bit stunned, partially because speaking in such apocalyptic terms was new in those days, and because of the certitude of his opinion. Underlying his brief comments were a presumption that there was nothing particularly unusual about this virus. We’ve evolved with them, and learned to treat them with calm and professionalism. What distinguished the current moment, he was suggesting, was not the virus but the unleashing of a kind of public madness. 

I was an early skeptic of the we-are-all-going-to-die narrative. But even I was unsure if he was correct that the real problem was not physical but mental. In those days, even I was cautious about shaking hands and carrying around sanitizer. I learned later, of course, that plenty of medical professionals had been trying to calm people down for weeks, urging the normal functioning of society rather than panic. It took weeks however even for me to realize that he was right: the main threat society faced was a psychological condition. 

I should have immediately turned to a book that captivated me in high school. It is Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay (1841). I liked reading it because, while it highlighted human folly, it also seemed to indicate that we as a civilization are over that period in history. 

It allowed me to laugh at how ridiculous people were in the past, with sudden panics over long hair and beards, jewelry, witches, the devil, prophecies and sorcery, disease and cures, land speculation, tulips, just about anything. In a surprising number of cases he details, disease plays a role, usually as evidence of a malicious force operating in the world. Once fear reaches a certain threshold, normalcy, rationality, morality, and decency fade and are replaced by shocking stupidity and cruelty. 

He writes:

In reading the history of nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first. We see one nation suddenly seized, from its highest to its lowest members, with a fierce desire of military glory; another as suddenly becoming crazed upon a religious scruple; and neither of them recovering its senses until it has shed rivers of blood and sowed a harvest of groans and tears, to be reaped by its posterity…. Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

After 2005 when the Internet developed into a serious repository for human knowledge, and it became accessible via smartphones and near-universal access, I too was tempted by the idea that we would enter into a new age of enlightenment in which mass frenzies would be quickly stopped by dawning wisdom. 

You can see evidence of my naivete with my April 5, 2020 article: With Knowledge Comes Calm, Rationality, and, Possibly, Openness. My thought then was that the evidence of the extremely discriminatory impact of the virus on plus-70 people with underlying conditions would cause a sudden realization that this virus was behaving like a normal virus. We were not all going to die. We would use rationality and reopen. I recall writing that with a sense of confidence that the media would report the new study and the panic would end. 

I was preposterously wrong, along with my four-month-old feeling that all of this stuff would stop on Monday. The psychiatrist I met in New York was correct: the drug of fear had already invaded the public mind. Once there, it takes a very long time to recover. This is made far worse by politics, which has only fed the beast of fear. This is the most politicized disease in history, and doing so has done nothing to help manage it and much to make it all vastly worse. 

We’ve learned throughout this ordeal that despite our technology, our knowledge, our history of building prosperity and peace, we are no smarter than our ancestors and, by some measures, not as smart as our parents and grandparents. The experience with COVID has caused a mass reversion to the superstitions and panics that sporadically defined the human experience of ages past. 

Eventually, people have and do come to their senses, but it is as Mackay said: people “go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

Published:7/11/2020 7:41:33 PM
[Markets] Trump Admin Tells Minnesota Governor To Get Bent Over $16 Million Aid Request Following Riots Trump Admin Tells Minnesota Governor To Get Bent Over $16 Million Aid Request Following Riots Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 20:00

The Trump administration has denied a request by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (D) for $16 million in federal aid to help rebuild widespread damage in Minneapolis caused by rioters protesting the death of George Floyd.

Late Friday, Walz spokesman Teddy Tschann confirmed that the July 2 federal aid request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was denied.

"The Governor is disappointed that the federal government declined his request for financial support," said Tschann in a statement. "As we navigate one of the most difficult periods in our state’s history, we look for support from our federal government to help us through."

Over 1,500 buildings were damaged by fires, looting and vandalism following Floyd's death on May 25 while in police custody. According to Walz, over $500 million in damages ensued.

Many small businesses and grocery stores, pharmacies and post offices were damaged during the unrest. In his letter to FEMA, Walz said what happened in the Twin Cities after Floyd’s death was the second most destructive incident of civil unrest in U.S. history, after the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.

The Walz administration conducted a preliminary damage assessment that found nearly $16 million of eligible damages related to fires. The federal funds would have been used to reimburse local governments for repairs and debris removal. -Star Tribune

On Thursday, Republican Rep. Tim Emmer (MN) sent a letter to President Trump asking for a "thorough and concurrent review" of how state officials handled the civil unrest so that "every governor, mayor and local official can learn from our experiences."

"If the federal government is expected to assist in the clean-up of these unfortunate weeks, it has an obligation to every American — prior to the release of funding — to fully understand the events which allowed for this level of destruction to occur and ensure it never happens again," wrote Emmer.

"Current damage estimates are now five times their original projections, but the extent of the destruction cannot be calculated solely in dollars and cents," continues Emmer's letter. "Thousands of livelihoods have been permanently disrupted, future economic development plans have been derailed as businesses reconsider investing in and around the Twin Cities, and numerous public lifelines for the community have been cut leaving Minnesotans searching for alternative means of care for their families.

"To date there have been no federal analysis of the actions that were - or were not - taken by local and state officials to prevent one of the most destructive episodes of civil unrest in our nation's history."

Published:7/11/2020 7:08:34 PM
[Markets] Why The Roger Stone Commutation Is Not As Controversial As The Outrage Mob Thinks Why The Roger Stone Commutation Is Not As Controversial As The Outrage Mob Thinks Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 19:30

Authored by Jonathan Turley, op-ed via The Hill,

Washington was sent into vapors of shock and disgust with news of the commutation of Roger Stone. Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin declared it to be “the most corrupt and cronyistic act in all of recent history.” Despite my disagreement with the commutation, that claim is almost quaint. The sordid history of pardons makes it look positively chaste in comparison. Many presidents have found the power of pardons to be an irresistible temptation when it involves family, friends, and political allies.

I have maintained that Stone deserved another trial but not a pardon. As Attorney General William Barr has said, this was a “righteous prosecution” and Stone was correctly convicted and correctly sentenced to 40 months in prison. 

President Trump did not give his confidant a pardon but rather a commutation, so Stone is still a convicted felon. However, Trump should have left this decision to his attorney general. In addition to Stone being a friend and political ally, Trump was implicated in those allegations against Stone. While there was never any evidence linking Trump to the leaking of hacked emails, he has an obvious conflict of interest in the case.

The White House issued a statement that Stone is “a victim of the Russia hoax.” The fact is that Stone is a victim of himself. Years of what he called his “performance art” finally caught up with him when he realized federal prosecutors who were not amused by his antics. Stone defines himself as an “agent provocateur.” He crossed the line when he called witnesses to influence their testimony and gave false answers to investigators.

But criticism of this commutation immediately seemed to be decoupled from any foundation in history or in the Constitution.

Indeed, Toobin also declared, “This is simply not done by American presidents. They do not pardon or commute sentences of people who are close to them or about to go to prison. It just does not happen until this president.”

In reality, the commutation of Stone barely stands out in the old gallery of White House pardons, which are the most consistently and openly abused power in the Constitution. This authority under Article Two is stated in absolute terms, and some presidents have wielded it with absolute abandon.

Thomas Jefferson pardoned Erick Bollman for violations of the Alien and Sedition Act in the hope that he would testify against rival Aaron Burr for treason. Andrew Jackson stopped the execution of George Wilson in favor of a prison sentence, despite the long record Wilson had as a train robber, after powerful friends intervened with Jackson. Wilson surprised everyone by opting to be hanged anyway. However, Wilson could not hold a candle to Ignazio Lupo, one of the most lethal mob hitmen who was needed back in New York during a mafia war. With the bootlegging business hanging in the balance, Warren Harding, who along with his attorney general, Harry Daugherty, was repeatedly accused of selling pardons, decided to pardon Lupo on the condition that he be a “law abiding” free citizen.

Franklin Roosevelt also pardoned political allies, including Conrad Mann, who was a close associate of Kansas City political boss Tom Pendergast. Pendergast made a fortune off illegal alcohol, gambling, and graft, and helped send Harry Truman into office. Truman also misused this power, including pardoning the extremely corrupt George Caldwell, who was a state official who skimmed massive amounts of money off government projects, like a building fund for Louisiana State University.

Richard Nixon was both giver and receiver of controversial pardons. He pardoned Jimmy Hoffa after the Teamsters Union leader had pledged to support his reelection bid. Nixon himself was later pardoned by Gerald Ford, an act many of us view as a mistake. To his credit, Ronald Reagan declined to pardon the Iran Contra affair figures, but his vice president, George Bush, did so after becoming president. Despite his own alleged involvement in that scandal, Bush still pardoned those other Iran Contra figures, such as Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.

Bill Clinton committed some of the worst abuses of this power, including pardons for his brother Roger Clinton and his friend and business partner Susan McDougal. He also pardoned the fugitive financier Marc Rich, who evaded justice by fleeing abroad. Entirely unrepentant, Rich was a major Democratic donor, and Clinton had wiped away his convictions for fraud, tax evasion, racketeering, and illegal dealings with Iran.

Unlike many of these cases, there were legitimate questions raised about the Stone case. The biggest issue was that the foreperson of the trial jury was also actually a Democratic activist and an outspoken critic of Trump and his associates who even wrote publicly about the Stone case. Despite multiple opportunities to do so, she never disclosed her prior statements and actions that would have demonstrated such bias. Judge Amy Berman Jackson shrugged off all that, however, and refused to grant Stone a new trial, denying him the most basic protection in our system.

Moreover, I think both the court and the Justice Department were wrong to push for Stone going to prison at this time, because he meets all of the criteria for an inmate at high risk for exposure to the coronavirus. None of that, however, justifies Trump becoming involved in a commutation, when many of the issues could have been addressed in a legal appeal.

There is lots to criticize in this move without pretending it was a pristine power besmirched by a rogue president. Indeed, Trump should have left the decision to a successor or, at a minimum, to the attorney general. But compared to the other presidents, this commutation is not even a distant contender for “the most corrupt and cronyistic act” of clemency.

Published:7/11/2020 6:37:40 PM
[Markets] Russian Fighter Jets Intercept US Spy Plane Over Sea Of Japan  Russian Fighter Jets Intercept US Spy Plane Over Sea Of Japan  Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 19:00

Russia's defense ministry (MoD) announced that on Saturday its Su-35 and MiG-31 fighter jets intercepted a US spy plain over the Sea of Japan.

"On 11 July, the Russian airspace surveillance identified an air target over the neutral waters of the Sea of ??Japan [East Sea], flying in the direction of the state border of the Russian Federation," the MoD statement said.

Sukhoi Su-35 fighter, file image.

“On July 11, the Russian airspace monitoring system over the neutral waters of the Sea of ??Japan discovered an air target flying towards the state borders of the Russian Federation, and Russian fighters escorted the American reconnaissance plane at a safe distance, and the Russian fighters returned to the airport after the American plane had rotated and moved away from the Russian border,” the statement continued.

The Russian statements identified the American aircraft as an Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance jet.

Over the past two months there's been dozens of intercept incidents between the rival superpowers, but typically not in this location.

Most close encounters have taken place off Alaska's coast, as well as over the Black and Baltic Seas, as well as the Mediterranean near Syria.

Last month there was a rare similar intercept incident over the remote Sea of Okhotsk just off the Russian far east.

Russian media detailed of this latest Sea of Japan incident: "Russian fighter jets escorted the reconnaissance aircraft at a safe distance and returned to the home base after the US aircraft flew away from the Russian border."

The intercepts have been part of a developing tit-for-tat spate of intercepts between the US and Russian militaries over international waters and airspace. 

Published:7/11/2020 6:07:45 PM
[Markets] The Delusion Of A Seamless Reopening Is Being Obliterated The Delusion Of A Seamless Reopening Is Being Obliterated Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 18:30

Authored by Brandon Smith via Birch Gold Group,

During the first wave of pandemic lockdowns, America became a rather surreal place. The initial shock that I witnessed in average people in my area was disturbing. Half the businesses in the region closed and a third of the grocery store shelves were empty. The look in people’s faces was one of bewilderment and fear; their eyes were like saucers, no one was staring into their cell phones as they usually do, and people huddled over their shopping carts like wild dogs protecting a carcass.

Luckily, this tension has subsided, but only because the majority of Americans have been assuming for the past couple months that the pandemic was going to fade away in the summer and that the “reopening” was permanent. Sadly, this is a delusion that is going to bite people in the ass in the next month or two.

In “The Economic Reopening Is A Fake-Out”, published at the end of May, I stated:

"The restrictions will continue in major US population centers while rural areas have mostly opened with much fanfare. The end result of this will be a flood of city dwellers into rural towns looking for relief from more strict lockdown conditions. In about a month, we should expect new viral clusters in places where there was limited transmission. I suggest that before the 4th of July holiday, state governments and the Federal government will be talking about new lockdowns, using the predictable infection spike as an excuse."

I also noted:

Certainly, it appears that most Americans hate the lockdowns. But will they be fooled by the “reopening” into complacency for the next several weeks while the government gets ready to hit them with the next round of restrictions? Will they be so caught off guard they won’t know how to react? Imagine the economic devastation of just one more nationwide lockdown event? It will be carnage, and a lot of hope within the population will be lost.

In “Pandemic And Economic Collapse: The Next 60 Days”, published in April, I predicted:

The extent of the crisis will become much more clear in the next two months to the majority. The result will be civil unrest in the summer, likely followed by extreme poverty levels in the winter. No measure of “reopening” is going to do much to stop the avalanche that has already been started.

My position at the time, on secondary infection spikes in the summer as well as renewed lockdown restrictions, appears to have proven correct. Currently, daily reported infections in the U.S. are at a record 50,000 per day or more and cases are rising in 40 out of 50 states. Many of the new infection clusters are in more rural areas and states that a lot of people thought had dodged the initial wave, including California. There has been a massive rush of home buyers moving to rural and suburban America away from the cities. The great migration has begun.

Subsequently, public anxiety is rising yet again. Protests such as those in Michigan over the lockdowns were overwhelmingly peaceful, yet liberty movement activists were demonized and accused of “inciting violence” and “spreading the virus”. Some groups with left-leaning political agendas used the death of George Floyd to create civil unrest. The mainstream media mostly lavished these groups with praise and refused to acknowledge that they might be spreading the virus.

The double standard is clear, but this is just the beginning.

As I have argued for the past few months, the REAL public crisis will strike when the secondary lockdowns are enforced, either by state governments or the federal government. Make no mistake, these orders are coming. We can already see restriction in some states being implemented, though they refuse yet to call the situation a “lockdown”.

California has recently added 24 counties to its “Covid watchlist”, and most of these counties have added new restrictions, including many non-essential businesses being ordered to remain closed.

The governor of Arizona announced statewide restrictions including business shutdowns, suggesting there may be a reopening at the end of July. If the previous lockdown is any indication, this means the next reopening will probably not happen until early September.

Similar restrictions have been announced in Texas, Florida, Georgia, etc. This is essentially a new shutdown that has not yet been officially labeled a “shutdown”.

So what does this mean for the U.S. economy going forward?

Well, the first lockdowns caused an explosion in unemployment, with 40 million jobs lost on top of around 11 million existing jobless. Beyond that, you can add the 95 million people without work that are no longer counted on the rolls by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only a portion of these jobs were regained when the reopening occurred. According to Shadowstats.com, the real unemployment rate including U-6 measurements is 31% – around the same level as it was during the Great Depression.

So far in 2020 there have been 4,300 major retail store closings, added onto the thousands of businesses already hit in 2019 in what many are calling “The Retail Apocalypse”. Small business closings are harder to gauge at this time, but according to Yelp, over 41% of their listed participants are announcing they are closing for good.

This outcome was easy to predict when it became clear that only 13% to 18% of businesses applying for the small business bailout loans received aid, and half of those businesses were actually large corporations

What happens next? The companies that did survive the first phase lockdowns are now going to get hit again, hard. I expect another 50% of small businesses to either close permanently or announce bankruptcy over this summer and fall. This means a second huge surge in job losses in the service sector.

It’s important to remember that the U.S. economy is 70% service based, and around 50% of total jobs are provided by small businesses. The lockdowns hit both these areas of our system mercilessly. And, with most of the aid from the government bailouts being diverted to major corporations, it’s as if someone was trying to deliberately crush the small business pillar of support for our economy. If you were attempting to drag the U.S. into an economic collapse, the Covid lockdowns are a perfect cover to make this happen.

Another economic threat is the slowdown in the supply chain. There will be renewed shortages in many goods. I have received numerous emails from readers who work in manufacturing, repair and acquisitions of vital parts for major companies who have told me that simple components, such as electronic and industrial parts that are required for factories to produce goods and repair goods, are almost gone. Meaning they are not being produced overseas in places like China, either due to the pandemic or geopolitical conflict. They tell me there is a maximum of two months before these components are completely gone.

The greater danger, however, is the higher likelihood of civil unrest. I’ve heard many people suggest that Americans will “never” put up with another round of shutdowns. I think it depends on the state you live in. If you live in places like California, Illinois, New York, or even Florida, the majority of people are going to conform to lockdowns even in the face of financial calamity. Interior states with more conservatives are not as certain. Regardless, I expect at least half the country to be shut down in the next few weeks, and those places that don’t shut down will be accused of “selfishly endangering others”.

As I have said many times since this crisis began, it does not matter how dangerous or deadly a virus is; shutting down the economy is assured destruction and is not an acceptable response.

Of course, certain special interest groups benefit greatly from the increased fear and chaos that economic instability brings. Right now, states like Georgia are pushing to stage the national guard to quell unrest, and I think this will spread to many places in the U.S. over the summer. They know what is coming, and they are worried about people hitting the wall of poverty that is ahead and reacting angrily.

As the globalist Imperial College of London published in March, the plan is for lockdowns to continue on and off for the next 18 months or more. This is not going away, and after the next wave of lockdowns, most Americans are finally going to realize it.

Rather than promoting localized production, independent economies and self-sufficiency, the establishment is going to suggest martial law and medical tyranny as the solution to the pandemic problem. In other words, they will demand total control over the population and the erasure of constitutional liberties in the name of “the greater good”.

These are the same people that downplayed the pandemic at the beginning of the year and refused to stop travel from China until it was too late. They are also the same people (including Dr. Anthony Fauci) who gave the Chinese millions of dollars to play around with the coronavirus at the Level 4 lab in Wuhan, which is the likely source of the current outbreak. I’m not sure why ANYONE would want to give more power to the people that caused the crisis in the first place.

Three factors are working hand-in-hand to undermine U.S. stability and create a rationale for totalitarian controls including the economic crash, civil unrest and the pandemic itself. Understand that preparations to protect yourself and your family must be finalized NOW. There will not be even a minor recovery after the next shutdown.

*  *  *

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Published:7/11/2020 5:41:10 PM
[Markets] Testing, Tracing, Treating - How Asia's Biggest Slum Is Beating The Coronavirus Testing, Tracing, Treating - How Asia's Biggest Slum Is Beating The Coronavirus Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 18:00

As the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India passes 800k, pushing India past Russia and into third place on the ranking of most global cases...

...the country's leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been hard-pressed to come up with a solution, particularly after an economy-crippling shutdown.

Earlier this month, local officials in Mumbai and New Delhi, the country's two hardest-hit areas, launched an effort to perform a 'COVID-19 audit' on the city's inhabitants in an ambitious testing program that would ideally test everyone in the two cities.

Now, local media are reporting that the WHO has praised an effort to contain an outbreak in Mumbai's Dharavi slum, said to be the largest slum in all of Asia, and also one of the densest.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during the WHO's press conference in Geneva on Friday that the situation in Dharavi is an example of how even some of the most intense outbreaks can be brought under control with a proactive strategy.

"And some of these examples are Italy, Spain and South Korea, and even in Dharavi - a densely packed area in the megacity of Mumbai," he had said.

According to local officials, the strategy they used to successfully start suppressing the outbreak relied on proactive testing first and foremost, along with the support of medical professionals and other medical resources focused on the area aside from the tests and the people needed to administer them.

The neighborhood, once deemed a global COVID-19 hotspot, has managed to flatten its curve.

One of the top hospital officials who participated in the effort said that the linchpin of the strategy was going out into the community and proactively testing individuals - especially the most vulnerable -  instead of waiting for patients to come to get tested at a facility.

"Proactive screening helped in early detection, timely treatment and recovery," he said.

When positive cases were found, officials diligently guided the subject to care (if they needed it) or quarantine, then made sure to trace cases back to the point of infection while keeping confirmed patients from spreading it to others.

Across Dharavi, 14,000 people were reportedly tested and 13,000, were placed in institutional quarantine with medical facilities and community kitchen for free," the senior official said. That's across a slum that measures 2.5 square kilometers, with a population density of 2,27,136 people per square kilometer.

Soon, officials noted progress in the data. In April, the doubling rate was 18 days. It was gradually improved to 43 days in May and slowed down to 108 and 430 days in June and July respectively.

As many as 2,359 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Dharavi so far, of which 1,952 patients have recovered from the deadly infection, while there are only 166 active cases at present. However, achieving this monumental feat was not easy for the local authorities, who had to overcome their fair share of challenges.

"At least 80% of Dharavi's population depends on 450 community toilets and the administration had to sanitize and disinfect these toilets several times a day," Dighavkar said.

[...]

"Our approach to tackle the virus was focused on four Ts - tracing, tracking, testing and treating," he said.

Social distancing was next to impossible in Dharavi, where families of eight to 10 people live in 10x10 huts, and travel requires walking through narrow lanes in between the tenement houses.

Doctors and private clinics, as part of proactive screening and fever camps, covered as many as 47,500 houses, while 14,970 people were screened in mobile vans, the official said.

Apart from this, special care was taken for the elderly residents and 8,246 senior citizens were surveyed, he said.

Manpower was a major issue for organizing fever camps and proactive screening in high-risk zones.

"We mobilised all private practitioners. At least 24 private doctors came forward and the civic body provided them with PPE kits, thermal scanners, pulse oxymetres, masks, gloves, and started door-to-door screening in high risk zones and all suspects were identified," he said.

City officials also cleared schools and other buildings to transform them into makeshift hospitals and quarantine units. In just 2 weeks, a 200-bed hospital was devised.

Like the US, India saw a surge in cases after exiting a lengthy lockdown. The lockdown imposed by the Indian government was by all accounts far more strict than what most Americans experienced. Still, the virus has made a comeback, suggesting that lockdowns in India aren't a sustainable way to deal with the problem. But proactive testing sounds like it could certainly go a long way.

Published:7/11/2020 5:07:55 PM
[Markets] The Fed Put Narrative Era The Fed Put Narrative Era Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 17:35

Submitted by The Swam Blog,

For years, I have heard fund managers and economists claiming that “a financial crisis is unlikely as long as central banks intervene”. This postulate has been the foundation of the well-known “Fed put”. Stocks should only go up thanks to monetary policy.

The past ten years have reinforced that conviction, since all the actions of the Fed and the ECB had strong positive impact on risky assets. But, as Tyler Durden would say, “on a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero”.

In fact, if you study economic history, then you are likely to realize that such relationship between money supply and asset prices has no real foundations. Besides, the purchasing power of money theory tells us that increasing money supply can lead to higher prices, but only if the so-called velocity of money does not decrease. Thus, velocity is a key variable. When it comes to investment, it seems that velocity is mostly driven by psychological factors. In other words, if QE has become so bullish for stocks or bonds, it is mainly because people believe that it is.

Therefore, everyone should remember that “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. Not only can the market drop despite the Fed, but it might crash precisely because of such dominant belief.

Intersubjective Markets and Narratives

Intersubjectivity can be thought as a share agreement of meanings between multiple people. According to Yuval Noah Harari, without intersubjective frameworks like religions, governments, money, firms, etc., anatomically modern humans would not be able to form and control large social groups.

Financial markets can also be treated as an intersubjective framework. From that perspective, a market narrative can be defined as a subculture (or ideology) common to multiple investors, sharing a common vision on how markets work and how assets are priced.

Without narratives, there would be no bull or bear markets. Of course, bull markets can be driven by positive news such as earning growth. However, speculative bubbles would make no sense without intersubjectivity. The concept of narratives is the key to understand how markets work and how investor price assets.

The “Fed put” can regarded as the dominant narrative since 2009. And it has become so dominant that Nasdaq stock prices have disconnected from economic fundamentals like they did in 1999.

Fractals and Avalanches

Today, equity markets seem to display a macro-behavior, since almost everyone has turned bullish. Despite a few skeptical folks, even pessimistic investors have resigned themselves to the idea that markets would not drop anymore because of Jerome Powell. In other words, a form of order has emerged (i.e. low entropy), and the market has reached a critical state.

The problem is that such a state is very unstable, and a fast reversal becomes more and more likely. What could be the trigger?  It could be anything like the acceleration of the pandemic, bankruptcies, geopolitical tensions, etc. However, answering this question is not essential.

Indeed, the bubble has been driven by endogenous feedback loops. So, the market can crash without any obvious reason. This is what we observed on US equity markets in 1929, 1987 and 2000. And this is also how ended the bitcoin mania in 2017, and the China A shares rally in 2015.

What we know so far is that a reversal can lead to a significant volatility spike since the apparent order will be suddenly broken.

Hidden Risks Behind the Tech Rally

Some physicists state that the whole boom and bust process can be captured using the so-called log-periodicity power law singularity (LPPLS) model. Whether it is purely theoretical or not, the model indicates that Nasdaq euphoria is likely to terminate by the end of the summer (see It is All About Waves – Tech Stocks and The Log-Periodicity Power Law Singularity Model and We Are Warned – Precisions About the Log-Periodicity Power Law Singularity Model).

Beyond that statistical prediction, it is important to have a look at technicals as the current trend looks quite unsustainable (see Sven Henrich’s chart above) with numerous unfilled gaps below. And while the Nasdaq is breaking records every day, the VIX remains at historically high levels.

At this stage, the question is, what will support the market if the dominant narrative is broken? The Fed has our backs, until it has not. Extreme concentration and short-volatility bets are major risks for equity investors, especially Robinhood retail traders.

As Nassim Nicholas Taleb says, “missing a train is only painful if you run after it”.

Published:7/11/2020 4:37:00 PM
[Markets] Official COVID-19 Statistics Are Missing Something Critical Official COVID-19 Statistics Are Missing Something Critical Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 16:45

Authored by Thomas Smith via Elemental,

Even if you recover from Covid-19, you may not escape unscathed...

At the moment, official record-keeping offers only three options when it comes to Covid-19: infection, recovery, or death. This misses a broad range of other potential outcomes for people who catch the virus — many of them bad.

In medicine, physicians talk about “M&M,” or “Mortality and Morbidity.” Many hospitals even hold closed-door “M&M” conferences, where their providers discuss everything that’s gone wrong with their patients over the last week or month.

Mortality is a pretty straightforward concept. Have patients died from a particular disease process, and if so, how? Were their deaths avoidable? Can the field of medicine learn anything from them which will improve patient care in the future?

Morbidity, though, is a much trickier concept. It includes the complications, health issues, and other negative outcomes (other than death) that a disease causes. Basically, it’s all the ways that a disease can make you unwell, even if it doesn’t actually kill you.

Official statistics capture deaths that occur from Covid-19 reasonably well. Reporting methods are often updated, and epidemiologists have gone back and attempted to quantify Covid-19 deaths that were originally missed. But overall, death counts are a relatively easy metric to apply. Patients are either alive or dead. Knowing the difference is comparatively simple.

But these official statistics miss quite a lot. Specifically, they fail to represent Covid-19 morbidity — the harm that the disease causes, even in people that it doesn’t kill. In terms of measuring the long-term impact of the disease — and accurately evaluating risk — that’s a big problem.

Mounting evidence shows that even if Covid-19 kills less than 1% of patients, it doesn’t necessarily leave the others it infects unharmed. Even those who have “recovered” may have long-term impacts from it.

Morbidity can happen over a long-term period, so it is a harder variable to study and track in the early stages of a pandemic than death. Anecdotal reports and early data, though, show that Covid-19 morbidity may be a very real concern. According to a report in The Atlantic which followed several people with Covid-19 over multiple months, many had long-lasting symptoms and impairments (including headaches and debilitating fatigue) that didn’t resolve when their active infection stopped.

All of these cases were considered “mild” and didn’t result in the use of a ventilator or a stay in the ICU. And they occurred in people from a variety of age groups, not only older adults and the infirm. Yet despite these “low risk” factors, patients were still experiencing major impacts from the disease months after contracting it.

A handful of studies about Covid-19 (as well as scholarship on previous coronaviruses) bears this out. Covid-19 infection can have long-term impacts on the lungs, heart, immune system, and even the brain. These include an increased risk for heart attacks, future respiratory infections (including more severe cases of flu), and neurological impacts like cognitive impairment.

These are in addition to the known risks for hospitalization, especially if a hospitalization results in an ICU stay and might trigger ICU delirium, a condition that can be permanent. Just because you’ve recovered from Covid-19 doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily escaped unscathed — especially if the disease landed you in the hospital.

Even more concerning is emerging data showing that “asymptomatic” Covid-19 infections can cause long-term damage. Recent studies, including one published in Nature Medicine, have found “ground-glass opacities” in the lungs of asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19 — evidence of inflammation which could be causing damage internally, even if the patient feels completely fine.

And although earlier evidence suggested that children are less affected by the disease, the emergence of a new condition, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, suggests that the virus may be having longer-term impacts even on the young. MSIS symptoms can emerge weeks or months after the original infection and can be deadly without prompt treatment.

All these early reports point to the possibility that Covid-19 causes acute infection, but also long-term inflammatory damage. Inflammatory diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. If Covid-19 worsens these conditions — or causes its own long-term inflammatory damage — the result could be millions of additional deaths from heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and the like, especially in already vulnerable populations. These effects of the disease may not be apparent for years or decades.

At the moment, official statistics largely fail to take such ongoing health impacts of the coronavirus into account. Traditional epidemiology does have metrics for morbidity. But they tend to focus on disease prevalence. Once a person’s active infection has passed, they are often no longer followed or counted.

As risk professionals like Nassim Nicholas Taleb have pointed out, the failure to measure Covid-19 morbidity makes it far harder to evaluate the true risk from the pandemic. Simply looking at deaths is not enough. Mortality statistics fail to account for the people who survive the disease but suffer long-term harm — or those who die from its complications long after their initial infection has subsided.

This blindness to morbidity may push populations toward more aggressive reopening, or away from risk-reduction measures like mandating face coverings. If deaths are declining, the picture may appear rosy. But in reality, the disease may be causing irreparable harm to millions of people — just in a way that’s invisible in current statistics.

In an increasingly polarized world, morbidity is an issue that cuts across political lines. Even if your primary goal is to restart the American economy, you should care about Covid-19 morbidity. Chronically sick people often have a hard time working, or the efficiency of their work suffers. Several of the patients profiled in The Atlantic experienced “brain fog” and other neurological effects from the virus, and have found even simple activities like housework and yoga challenging. These patients would almost certainly have a hard time returning to work. To achieve lasting economic recovery with minimal burden from worker illness, Covid-19 morbidity has to be accounted for.

Thankfully, tracking Covid-19 morbidity doesn’t require reinventing the wheel. Medicine and risk management already have a robust tool for measuring the impact (health-wise and financial) of morbidity: the Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY) and its sister statistic, the Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY).

QALYs and DALYs take into account both a person’s life expectancy and their quality of life (defined, broadly, by how much a disease affects their ability to perform daily tasks). Lowered life expectancy affects QALYs, but so do long-term disease effects like the kind we’re beginning to see from Covid-19.

QALYs and DALYs are often used to evaluate new treatments. But there’s no reason QALYs and DALYs couldn’t be applied more broadly, to estimate and measure the disease burden of the Covid-19 pandemic on a given population.

In the early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, QALYs and DALYs could be applied by deciding on an estimate for a “weight factor” measuring the severity of Covid-19’s impact on patients’ health (this is usually done on a scale of 0 for “perfectly healthy” and 1 for “dead”). This weight factor could be set differently for different populations. For example, older people with Covid-19 or those with more preexisting conditions could receive a higher weight factor.

Using demographic data for a particular population (mean age, prevalence of existing diseases, etc.) and these weight factors, an estimate of the impact of Covid-19 morbidity could be established for a population. This could then be multiplied by the number of confirmed infections in the population to arrive at a crude estimate of the overall burden of Covid-19 morbidity.

Accounting for morbidity in this way could have some major impacts on plans for reopening. Regions with highly vulnerable populations (those expected to suffer more morbidity as a result of Covid-19 infections) could reopen more slowly. And those with relatively lower projected morbidity might be emboldened to open more quickly.

As the pandemic continues and more data on the long-term impact of Covid-19 becomes available, weights could be adjusted. If it emerges that certain populations are less vulnerable than expected, their weights could be adjusted downward. If more long-term impacts of Covid-19 infection emerge (like breathing issues in asymptomatic carriers), weight factors could be adjusted upward.

QALYs and DALYs are not perfect metrics. Setting weight factors is inherently subjective, and can reflect biases present in a society. At the early stage of a pandemic, very little data is available, so estimating morbidity is more an art than a science. There are also ethical concerns with QALYs and DALYs since they’re often used to weigh the value of one life against another. QALYs and DALYs can also miss the hard-to-measure impacts of disease, like their impact on mental health.

But given that Covid-19 morbidity is basically invisible in current public health models, measuring morbidity with metrics like QALYs and DALYs would at least be a helpful start. It could begin to give us a way to estimate not only how many people will die from Covid-19, but how many lives will be negatively impacted by the disease.

Measuring morbidity could also provide better treatment and follow-up. Current approaches assume that once an asymptomatic carrier of Covid-19 tests negative, their disease has run its course. Follow-up for these patients is likely to be limited. If it turns out that Covid-19 causes ongoing morbidity in patients who appear healthy, providers could shift toward monitoring them months or years after their infection (looking for evidence of inflammation and lung damage, for example).

On a personal level, if you’ve tested positive for Covid-19 and feel fine now, don’t assume your disease is over. Especially in the longer term, be aware of potential Covid-19 symptoms, and talk with your doctor about testing for any long-term impacts that emerge.

And if you still have symptoms after your Covid-19 test has turned negative, and are told that these are unrelated to the disease, be skeptical. In the grand scheme, very little is known about Covid-19. You may be experiencing lingering effects from your infection, which your doctor should help you address and manage.

Tracking deaths and recoveries is a start. But current approaches to tracking Covid-19 are binary — you’re either positive or negative, alive or dead. To truly measure (and react to) the long-term impacts of the pandemic, we need more nuanced measures.

Specifically, we need a way to measure morbidity. Otherwise, we risk missing impacts of Covid-19 which could have massive, invisible consequences — especially for our most vulnerable.

Published:7/11/2020 4:07:24 PM
[Markets] NewsWatch: S&P 500 earnings set to plunge as the coronavirus batters all sectors — with Wall Street counting on a bounce that may not come The one certainty about the outlook for companies in a COVID-19 world is that second-quarter earnings will be very bad, the worst in over 10 years.
Published:7/11/2020 4:07:24 PM
[Markets] 5 ways to beat the stock market — from a fund manager who’s done this for years These lessons from Amana Growth Fund can make you a better investor.
Published:7/11/2020 3:37:11 PM
[Markets] Nordstrom Tells Landlords To Expect Just Half Their Rent Until January 2021 Nordstrom Tells Landlords To Expect Just Half Their Rent Until January 2021 Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 15:55

Authored by Daphne Howland of RetailDive,

  • Nordstrom June 3 notified landlords of its full-line and off-price Rack stores that it will pay only half the occupancy costs for the remainder of the year, according to a letter from President of Stores Jamie Nordstrom to property owners, which was obtained by Retail Dive. A Nordstrom spokesperson didn't immediately respond to Retail Dive's request for more information or comment.

  • In the letter, the company also said it will use store comps as the basis for any "true up rent payment, up to a full reconciliation should 2020 sales reach 90% of sales made in that location in 2019." The department store said it "will continue to maintain insurance coverage, pay utilities on which we are the account holder, and maintain your building(s) as required by the lease."

  • Separately, Nordstrom on Wednesday confirmed that it's "realigning and reducing our workforce to support our market strategy, including in our corporate support teams." The layoffs are part of a 20% reduction "to non-occupancy related overhead expenses," a spokesperson told Retail Dive in an email, but declined to say how many people are affected. Sourcing Journal last week, citing unnamed sources, said plans are to cut up to 25% of its workforce. Those don't include layoffs at the 16 stores slated for permanent closure, according to that report. In 2019, the retailer employed about 68,000 full- or part-time employees.

 

Dive Insight:

Even as stores reopen in most areas, retailers are scrambling to hold onto as much cash as possible, in order to run a business that is entertaining precious few customers in the middle of a pandemic.

While Nordstrom executives in remarks to analysts in May expressed confidence in their overall strategy, which is to knit together the company's full-price, off-price and Local stores into one retail ecosystem, the pandemic and its economic fallout have interfered with that. The department store in May said first quarter net sales fell 40% year over year, with full-line sales down 36% and off-price sales down 45%. The retailer experienced loss before interest and taxes of $813 million, from EBIT of $77 million a year ago, and swung to a net loss of $521 million, including after-tax COVID-19 charges of $173 million, from net earnings of $37 million a year ago.

"COVID-19 has had a very real impact on Nordstrom, accelerating the importance of our market strategy and capabilities we've invested in for years," the Nordstrom spokesperson said Wednesday, noting the company's recent permanent store closures and executive salary cuts. "Our new operating model helps us serve customers across our business as one company, while enabling us to be more agile and flexible. We'll continue to invest in critical capabilities across technology, data analytics and supply chain to deliver for our customers."

But with its outreach to landlords, the company is flirting with litigation, warns Nick Egelanian, president of retail real estate firm SiteWorks?. Simon Property Group, Brookfield and others in recent weeks have gone to court to force rents out of their retail tenants. Nordstrom's letter was sent out en masse "apparently with no forewarning or prior discussion," Egelanian said.

Along with ominous signs of the depth of Nordstrom's struggles — including the pullback of its fleet and under-merchandising in some locations that Egelanian said has been part of an effort to cut costs and stem losses at those stores — the letter was an inelegant attempt at negotiation, he said.

"Many landlords, apparently unimpressed with the company's slipshod approach to rent reduction and generally less enamored with a company once considered the gold standard in service and apparel retailing, are opposing Nordstrom's action vigorously," he told Retail Dive in an email. In addition to possibly heading to court with its landlords, Nordstrom "has become the subject of wide-spread speculation that it could end up in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization before the story of the pandemic is fully written."

Update:

A Nordstrom spokesperson declined to answer specific questions about the letter from Jamie Nordstrom, but acknowledged that its pandemic-related cost cuts involve pushing back against lease obligations. "As part of our continued efforts to navigate this situation and achieve the expense reductions announced previously, we are modifying our rent payments until January 2021, at which point we'll fully reconcile our payments," the spokesperson said in an email. "We're working closely with our store landlords to find a mutually agreeable path forward."

Published:7/11/2020 3:07:46 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: In This Coronavirus Stock Market Rally, Go APE; Apple, Amazon, Tesla, Netflix In Focus The coronavirus stock market rally is going great, with big-cap techs soaring. Here's what investors need to do now. Published:7/11/2020 2:39:26 PM
[Markets] Trump: Something Big Will Happen With Venezuela & "We'll Be Very Much Involved" Trump: Something Big Will Happen With Venezuela & "We'll Be Very Much Involved" Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 15:30

Currently the United States is looking to seize gasoline aboard the next group of Iranian tankers bound for Venezuela, after the last delivery by five sanctions-busting tankers last month were successful despite being accompanied by similar US threats. 

President Trump on Friday signaled the US is indeed about to "move" on Venezuela and its sanctions thwarting activities with the help of 'rogue states' like Iran. He told the Spanish-language American channel Noticias Telemundo on Friday that—  

“Something will be happening with Venezuela” and that the United States will “be very much involved.”

The president was also asked about the future of election in the country, especially related to US-backed opposition leader and self-styled 'Interim President' Juan Guaido.

Trump said the US would “take care of the people of Venezuela” and ultimately support whoever was legitimately elected. But of course, it remains that the US deems any support to Nicolas Maduro by definition "illegitimate".

The interviewer, Jose Diaz-Balart, asked Trump point-blank: “For you, Venezuela, is it Guaido, is it Maduro, is it U.S. intervention?

Trump said in response: 

“It’s freedom for their people. It’s freedom. Venezuela was a rich country 15 years ago, and it’s been destroyed by two people, but a system, a horrible system. … And something will happen with Venezuela. That’s all I can tell you. Something will be happening with Venezuela.”

And when pressed over precisely through what route this "something big" will occur in Venezuela, Trump responded: 

“We’ll be very much involved.”

“We’re going to take care of the people of Venezuela,” Trump emphasized.

Since last year the president has reportedly been pressing his generals and admirals on enacting some kind of naval blockade off Venezuela's coast.

However, top Pentagon leadership has reportedly been by and large against the idea, citing the impracticability of such an operation, and likelihood of unnecessary escalation without clear overall goals of how far US military force would be willing to go against pro-Maduro forces. 

Washington reportedly does have naval ships in the Caribbean Sea, however, to crack down on what the White House previously described as Maduro's "narco-trafficking" as well as illegal sanctions-busting activities. 

Published:7/11/2020 2:39:26 PM
[Markets] Ex-Jewel Thief Claims Epstein And Ghislaine Maxwell "Forced Him To Watch Pedo Videos Involving US Politicians" Ex-Jewel Thief Claims Epstein And Ghislaine Maxwell "Forced Him To Watch Pedo Videos Involving US Politicians" Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 14:15

An alleged former Jewel thief who says he had group sex with Ghislaine Maxwell but 'drew the line at under-age girls' claims he was forced to watch pedo videos involving 'two high-profile US politicians' and 'two high society figures having a threesome with an under-age girl.'

Whether one believes an anonymous ex-jewel thief's exclusive interview with The Sun is up to the reader. That said, Epstein accuser Maria Farmer claimed there was a 'secret media room' in the dead pedophile's New York mansion which was full of recording equipment.

What's more, former Israeli spy Ari Ben-Menashe - alleged "handler" of Ghislaine's father, Robert Maxwell, told the authors Epstein: Dead Men Tell No Tales, that the Epstein was operating a "complex intelligence operation" at the behest of Mossad, and 'filmed US politicians and power players having sex with underage girls to blackmail them.'

Jumping into the salacious claims by the jewel thief, who goes by the name William Steel, the story begins in the mid-1990s when Steel claims he met Epstein in the "upstairs room at a very high-end diamond dealer, the kind of place where only a few people are allowed in at a time."

“I was there doing what I do. I was meeting my fence.

I saw Jeff with a young girl who looked only about 13 or 14 and he had his hand in the back of her shorts.

“That’s what first got my attention.

“She was so young and he was much older. That’s when I knew that he was dirty.

I had about 200,000 dollars worth of jewellery that I was getting rid of and later I struck up a conversation with him.

“He later said the girl he was with was his niece but I called bulls**t on that, telling him I saw what he was doing with her. -The Sun

At some point later, Steel says he met Ghislaine Maxwell - who he says he had sex with on multiple occasions - and wanted to see how she could use him to help Epstein. Steel says he was trying to do the same thing:

"I wouldn’t say it was a relationship — it was all about what she could use me for to help them. Me being a cocky young guy from New York City, seeing their arrogance and their wealth — I just looked at it as an opportunity to milk them for what I could.

I used to brag about what I was capable of to them."

Steele added that "When I wanted to impress or scare somebody, I’d get my briefcase out and it would have police scanners in it, gloves, lock picks, guns with silencers," adding "I even owned an ultra-thermic torch which would burn a hole into anything in seconds."

"That impressed Ghislaine and Jeff."

SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE:

Steel claims that he saw a parade of underage girls 'coming and going' from Epstein's Palm Beach oceanfront mansion, but that he never participated in pedophilic sex acts.

"I only ever had sex with Maxwell and threesomes with her and other adult females," he said. "I suspected what they were doing with the under-age girls, I knew their routine, so when they tried to get me involved, I said, ‘No, I’m not into that — you’re not getting me on video doing any of that’."

Steel also says Ghislaine is a "nymphomaniac" who would try "everything and anything in bed."

...he was shown footage involving two high-profile US politicians having sex with minors and two high society figures having a threesome with an under-age girl.

Steel — who is not being paid for this interview — also branded Maxwell, 58, who was arrested last week in connection with trafficking young girls, a wild “nymphomaniac” who would try “everything and anything in bed”.

He says: “I was forced to watch their videos because they were trying to impress me.

“They wanted to convince me of their power and who they held in their grip.

They boasted about ‘owning’ powerful people.

Ghislaine was more into showing me those than Jeff.

“When you’re in a situation like that, you have to pretend to be non- judgmental. But it was shocking. -The Sun

"She said to me that she often thought she needed to do something about Epstein, telling me, ‘He is going to be the death of me’" claimed Steel. " So while she protected him and helped him, she was simultaneously plotting against him and trying to distance herself. "

"She knew they could drag each other down," adding "I think she saw herself as the more respectable of the two. She wanted me to do something about Jeff."

Ghislaine allegedly told Steel she had a "Polanski plan," named after disgraced pedophile and film director Roman Polanski, who fled the US after he was charged with the rape of a 13-year-old girl.

"She told me about her Polanski plan where she would flee to France because they couldn’t extradite her," he said, adding "I was surprised to hear she’d been picked up in New Hampshire."

"I want the authorities to know about her plan before her bail hearing."

Steel claims he absconded with evidence - "discs and things they were trying to get rid of," and says he "sent them to the authorities, but I don’t know if they did anything with them."

Why he wouldn't make copies is anyone's guess.

Steel said the pair also asked him to help them find girls — but he refused.

He adds: “Ghislaine was always talking down to people.

“She tried to pull that on me but I told her straight, ‘Don’t speak to me like you speak to your f***ing staff. I’m doing favours for you guys. You’re not talking down to me. I don’t give a f how much money you have’.

“They knew I had connections in various places and they offered me money to bring in girls but I never took them up on any of that.

“They told me, ‘Whatever the girls want, I can help them with their modelling career if they want that or pay for their education, and it’s just massages’.

“And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m pretty sure what your massages turn into’.

“And he would just smirk at me and say that I could have what I wanted.
“I said I didn’t want that, it’s not fair to take advantage of these young girls. It’s not right.

He wanted me to help him with a plan he had to kidnap or pay 100 young girls and take them to an island where he would have sex with them, orgies, use them for blackmail and have babies with them.

“I just told him to shut up. I didn’t even realise he was serious until years later.

“For him, at that time, his focus was getting girls that were not from the United States.

He wanted girls from abroad because he felt they wouldn’t know how the criminal justice system in the US works and would be less likely to report him.

“He said he would help look after their families but I said, ‘I’m not going to help you ruin a teenage girl’s life’. -The Sun

And that, is the rest of the ex-jewel thief's sordid tale.

Published:7/11/2020 1:36:28 PM
[Markets] Safety First Is A Bad Ideology Safety First Is A Bad Ideology Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 13:50

Authored by Diana Thomas and Michael Thomas via The American Institute for Economic Research,

When you walk out of your house, or enter the public street, you are on shared ground, a community space. During the pandemic of 2020, community spaces that are private venues, like Disney, have closed down just as often as community spaces that are public venues, like schools and playgrounds. 

Public and private distinctions do not make a difference. Risk is the key factor to understanding why common spaces are closed and likely to remain so, at least in the way we were used to. In what is called the asymmetric loss function, a decision maker’s cost of a mistake in one direction is many times greater than the cost of error in the other direction. 

Individuals with asymmetric loss functions are extremely risk averse when it comes to potential losses. Individuals often employ asymmetric loss functions in everyday life. For most people being 30 minutes early for a flight, for example, is much less costly than being 30 minutes late. 

But, because people are different, individuals decide for themselves how late they can arrive and risk missing a flight. Things get trickier when decisions regarding risk tolerance are made for common spaces and groups, because one size doesn’t always fit all.

Weighing downside risks too heavily can be socially costly, because some valuable private activities are prohibited. 

Historically and across cultures, individual risk-taking is associated with growth and prosperity while minimizing risk and emphasizing potential social losses is not. In the last several decades, public tolerance of risk has shifted towards lower socially acceptable levels of risk-taking and in the long run, these changes may leave us all worse off.  

In her Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce, Deirdre McCloskey details how attitudes toward risk-taking transformed at about the same time as the birth of capitalism. It was the ability of individuals to take risks and still recover from failure that paved the way for radical experiments. Prior to this, to take a risk and fail was to be labeled a prodigal, if one was thought to have wasted the money, or a projector, if one’s idea failed.

Some of this dishonor would extend to the guilty party’s family as well. As a whole, society’s ethical norms were to avoid risk and as a result, many good ideas which were technically possible stayed as abstract thoughts and not as steps on the road of progress. For McCloskey, this, more than any other explanation, explains the when and how of the birth of the great divergence since all other factors that have been attributed occurred elsewhere in various combinations. 

Risk, therefore, can be expressed as an attitude about the commons more than anything else. If the rules of society protect those who are willing to take risks, this increases risk not only to the risk-takers but also has various effects on others around them regardless of their risk tolerance. There is no escape; the status of risk legally and socially impacts everyone. The risk-taker arrived in English via the French word, entrepreneur, describing the willingness to undertake risk. Jeremy Bentham, in a letter to Adam Smith, colorfully compares risk-taking in business to Marcus Curtius, a Roman martyr described in Livy’s history. Bentham was arguing against Smith’s defense of an interest rate cap, suggesting it would stifle innovation and advantage incumbents. 

We find ourselves at the other end of a collective conversation on risk-taking today. The tolerance of any level of risk is often cast often as a threat. We have justified unprecedented economic losses based on very uncertain risks. Merely mentioning a potential downside seems to carry more weight nowadays than it did in the past. 

Part of this might be due to years of public health rhetoric about externalities; e.g. second-hand smoke, the collective costs associated with obesity, and the health costs of pollution. 

In 2020, the implicit calculation of risk relating to the pandemic would have to be very large to justify the trillions of dollars in terms of economic losses that have been incurred so far, with a cumulative total economic cost that is even higher. We also must account for the human costs of worldwide economic contraction, measured in terms of starvation deaths alone. 

During the current pandemic, two astronauts boarded a previously unmanned rocket and rode it into near earth orbit to meet up with the International Space Station. As a percentage of people injured while attempting this feat, astronauts bear a much larger risk than ocean bathers. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken took this risk which is understood as heroic by a society that is anxious for the technological progress that comes from making space accessible to human exploration. 

In an everyday sort of example, on June 2nd, a 17 year old named Paige Winter was attacked by a shark standing in waist deep water on the coast of North Carolina. A shark attack is precisely the sort of thing we remind people of when they visit beaches, but most of us consider the activity of standing in five-foot-deep water a reasonable risk. This activity is socially understood, currently, as a risk worth taking. The beaches remain open for this sort of activity.

Related specifically to the current pandemic, what message are venture capitalists getting about local businesses; smaller retail shops, restaurants, and venues? The shift from evaluating risk as an individual to collective risk evaluation may ultimately empower local public health officials to return to 2020 measures any time seasonal flu peaks. 

In all of these examples, we understand the role that perceptions play in evaluating risk. The recent willingness to elevate risk as a primary category cannot be understood without a growing concern over liability. The asymmetric loss is not only with respect to individual decisions, but it is a mental habit that administrators also take. 

From your school’s principal to your city’s mayor, to your governor or president. The focus they have is on the potential loss. Not only in terms of legal liability, but also in terms of social response. Every governor knows that they will get very little credit for a situation that is unremarkably safe, but they will get all the credit for rising numbers of deaths and hospitalizations. The calculation almost has to be toward safety. 

What we see, in addition to this, is that some safety measures people are taking do not actually move the needle on risk, but probably increase the risks we expose ourselves as well as others to. Wearing gloves to the grocery store is one discredited example of misguided safety measures. 

The logic of glove wearing requires changing gloves each time you touch a contaminant, and if you cannot do this, then you are far better off washing your hands and using hand sanitizer between washes. 

No one knows, of course, when they have touched a contaminated surface and so gloves give a false sense of security and may increase cross contamination. In this example as in many others, compliance alone doesn’t ensure best practices.

The use of ritualistic safety measures is as effective as a batsman making the sign of the cross on their bat as they step up to the plate. It does confer an important advantage, however, to the decision maker. The longer the list of safety measures a decision maker can point to when inevitably something undesirable happens, the better exonerated they are from popular sentiment. 

In the court of public opinion, the failure to enact more extreme safety protocols is seen as contributory negligence. The concept of due care, which does not hold an individual liable as long as they can show that they have taken due care has almost entirely disappeared. As a result, our leaders are focusing on compliance with popular standards rather than experimenting to find the right standard of safety.

In this environment it becomes excruciatingly difficult to argue for what is lost on the other side of the equation of risk. The implied trade-offs are of no consequence when compared to safety. We lose scientific advancement if the benefits of experimentation, even when it is risky, could not sometimes outweigh the costs—including the low but positive risk of losing astronaut lives. If all but the lowest risks are considered too large to take, then progress is essentially halted. 

In a time where the socially acceptable level of risk-taking is up for debate, we are moving toward too little risk tolerance. The attitude of low risk tolerance was the norm among aristocratic families, monarchies, and totalitarian regimes throughout history. All of these structures were essentially conservative in the worst sense of the word: they could not allow for change because it would threaten the power structure. 

With the birth of capitalism, we tolerated social mobility: both downward and more heroically, upward. The churning of the social space is consistent with a greater toleration of risk. Maybe we haven’t convinced you with regard to public health issues during a pandemic, but at least consider the weight placed on safety the next time you use a satellite connected device, visit a beach, or take an antibiotic.

Published:7/11/2020 1:06:07 PM
[Markets] Phoenix Mayor Lied About Morgues Bringing In 'Refrigerator Trucks' To Store Overflow COVID Bodies Phoenix Mayor Lied About Morgues Bringing In 'Refrigerator Trucks' To Store Overflow COVID Bodies Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 13:26

As the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Maricopa County climbed to new highs late this week, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego appeared on MSNBC Friday morning for an interview with Chuck Todd and Katy Tur to discuss the situation in the state, which has moved to close bars, and rollback other reopening measures to combat the outbreak.

During the interview, Gallego claimed that the county's public health agency had just put in an order for refrigerated trucks because they were running out of space in the morgue.

"Maricopa County, which is our county public health agency, just announced that they're going to be getting refrigerated trucks because the Abrazo health care system has run out of morgue beds," Gallego said.

Hours later, as the mayor's comments started proliferated through the media, representatives for the hospital system called and complained that the mayor's comment wasn't true, despite the fact that she made the claim - seemingly with a high degree of certainty - on a popular cable new show.

Spokesman Keith Jones told azcentral.com that Abrazo hospitals have "adequate morgue space."

Here's the story: Phoenix and the rest of the state have been asked to implement their emergency plans to prepare for possible COVID-19 overloads.

Part of the plan, Jones said, was to proactively make sure there would be enough morgue space. So the hospital system ordered refrigerated storage weeks ago, but they have yet to be deployed.

"At this point, it is not needed," Jones said.

Of course, it's not difficult to imagine why Gallego made such a specious - and, some might argue, alarmist - claim: Democrats in the state believe they need to discredit Gov Doug Ducey's COVID-19 response if they want to succeed in flipping John McCain's old Senate seat, currently occupied by Republican Senator Martha McSally, on Nov. 3. The special election is being held to find a permanent successor to the former presidential candidate and longtime Republican Senator.

For some reason, we couldn't find the video of the interview on YouTube.

Published:7/11/2020 12:35:51 PM
[Markets] Global Outrage As Erdogan Orders Historic Hagia Sophia Church To Reopen As Mosque Global Outrage As Erdogan Orders Historic Hagia Sophia Church To Reopen As Mosque Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 13:00

On Friday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that for the first time in nearly a century the historic Hagia Sophia church would be reopened as a mosque, sparking fury and outrage from Greece, Russia, and other East European predominantly Orthodox Christian countries.

Earlier this week as multiple countries and Christian religious leaders lodged formal protest over the plans, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill warned that “A threat to Hagia Sophia is a threat to the entire Christian civilization.”

Considered an architectural marvel and the top tourist attraction in Turkey, the 6th century building constructed under Byzantine emperor Justinian has been a museum ever since a 1934 presidential decree, which a Turkish court annulled Friday. But it remains the symbolic heart for half the Christian world, namely the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Via Reuters

According to the WSJ:

In a ruling issued Friday via the official Anadolu news agency, the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, canceled a decades-old decision under which Hagia Sophia—originally a Byzantine cathedral then an Ottoman mosque—was transformed into a museum.

Friday’s ruling effectively returned the building to a place of Islamic worship, Turkish law experts said, the status it had after the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, as Istanbul was previously known, in the mid-15th century.

The move is broadly seen as part of Erdogan's continuing program of reversing secularization in politics and the public sphere in favor of a more conservative Islamic face to modern Turkey.

The WSJ underscores that "By returning Hagia Sophia to a home for Muslim prayer, Mr. Erdogan moved closer to fulfilling his longtime pledge of making more room for Islam inside the secular republic, and showed that he still has control over the destiny of Istanbul, even after his ruling party suffered a stinging defeat in last year’s local elections."

Greece slammed the move as an "open provocation to the civilized world" while Orthodox Church leaders decried it as an open attack on the world's 300 million Orthodox adherents. "The nationalism displayed by Erdogan... takes his country back six centuries," Greece's Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said on Friday.

Erdogan however, has interpreted it more simply as a matter of "asserting Turkey's sovereignty" over the site. Turkey argues that it can legally do what it wants with monuments and historic places within its sovereign territory.

Mike Pompeo has even weighed in on the side of the Greek government, urging that it be kept as a museum. “We urge the government of Turkey to continue to maintain the Hagia Sophia as a museum, as an exemplar of its commitment to respect Turkey’s diverse faith traditions and history, and to ensure it remains accessible to all,” the US Secretary of State said within the last weeks.

It's but one more symbolic provocation, albeit a serious one further worsening Greece-Turkey relations, and risking Moscow's wrath as well.

Meanwhile, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople - who represents the Orthodox Church and its some 300 million adherents worldwide, is still in residence in Istanbul. He and his predecessors have been barred from using Hagia Sophia as a place of prayer since the 15th century, though over the years there's been a few provocative instances where Greek clergy were said to have stealthily entered the now museum to "illegally" conduct Christian worship.

Recent protests by Turkish Islamist groups outside Hagia Sophia have witnessed people chanting"Let the chains break and open Hagia Sophia" for Muslim prayers, and now Erdogan is making good on that demand.

Published:7/11/2020 12:11:27 PM
[Markets] "This Is Nuts...Again" - Reducing Risk As Tech Goes 'Full 1999' "This Is Nuts...Again" - Reducing Risk As Tech Goes 'Full 1999' Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 12:30

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Twice In One Year

It is a bit hard to comprehend that twice, in the same year, I would be writing primarily the same article.

In early January, I penned the following:

“When you sit down with your portfolio management team, and the first comment made is ‘this is nuts,’ it’s probably time to think about your overall portfolio risk. On Friday, that was how the investment committee both started and ended – ‘this is nuts.'”

At that time, I tweeted the following chart, which compared the Nasdaq to the S&P 500 index. The bands on both charts are 2-standard deviations of the 200-WEEK moving average. there are a couple of things which should jump out immediately:

  1. The near-vertical price acceleration in the markets has been a historical hallmark of late-stage cycle advances, also known as a “melt-up” phase.

  2. When markets get more than 2-standard deviations above their long-term moving average, reversions to the mean have tended to follow shortly after that. 

That was so 6-months ago.

Here is where we are today.

As I warned then, not only has the price of the Nasdaq gone parabolic, this time it is pushing 3-standard deviations of the 200-dma.

Fundamentally Detached

The divergence is particularly notable when you consider the economic and fundamental differences between now and then. (While we are discussing the Nasdaq, to maintain consistency with previous reports, I am using earnings estimates for the S&P 500 to show the relative change.)

When looking at the acceleration in the price of the Nasdaq, and particularly within the small group of stocks driving that advance, you can begin to fathom our concerns. Furthermore, the divergence between the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 index is emulating the late 90’s. (The horizontal red line is where the ratio was last Friday just for perspective.)

Optimism in the Nasdaq 100 has also reached levels of exuberance seen only once previously in the last 25 years. Yep…the late 90’s.

Yes, “This Is Nuts.” 

For the second time in a single year, we have begun the profit-taking process within our most profitable names. Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Amazon, Costco, PG, and in Communications and Technology ETF’s.

(Note: Taking profits does not mean we sold the entire position. It means we reduced the amount of our holdings to protect our gains.)

As discussed in this week’s #MacroView (below), the “bearish case” does have “teeth” and should not be summarily dismissed. As Doug Kass noted this past Monday:

“Several key labor-intensive industries – education, lodging, entertainment (Broadway events, concerts, movie theaters, sporting events), restaurant, travel, retail, non-residential real estate, etc. – face an existential threat to their core. For these industries, they simply cannot survive the conditions they face. For these gutted industries, we face, at best, an 80% to 85% recovery in the years to come. It should be emphasized that Covid-19 just sped up what was already a secular decline.”

When the market historically becomes this detached from the underlying fundamentals, reversions tend to happen fairly quickly.

A Very Narrow Market

In our subscriber service (RIAPro – 30-Day Free Trial) we recently added a new service with institutional money manager Jeffrey Marcus of Turning Point Analytics (TPA). One of his latest notes to subscribers drove home the point we are discussing now. To wit:

It seems like we have dodged a bullet, yet a look under the surface reveals a much sicker market.  The relative performance chart below shows that while the S&P 500 is still down 1.88%, but TPA’s BIGTECH Index (the top 8 stock in the NASDAQ 100 by market cap)is up an astonishing 48.99% year to date (YTD).

The table below shows that these 8-stocks represent $8 trillion in market cap, which is 29% of the market cap of the S&P 500 ($27.3 trillion). TPA ran the numbers to see just what effect these 8 stocks have had on an index of 500 stocks. The BIGTECH effect has been to add 8.71% of performance to the S&P 500 YTD.

Just A Handful Of Stocks

At the time of the analysis, the S&P 500 is down 1.88% for the year. Without the BIGTECH stocks, the benchmark would be down 10.5% in 2020.

We have mentioned this before, but a healthy rally is one with broad participation. The current rally is very narrow, historically dependent on less than 2% of the S&P 500 member stocks. Such means the overall performance of the S&P 500 is not representative of the market as a whole. It also means the index performance hinges on a very small group of stocks.

In addition, TPA Canaries in the Coalmine (table below) shows that the 14-day RSI of the ratio of BIGTECH/S&P 500 is also at 70.87. That RSI level denotes that BIGTECH is overbought relative to the S&P 500. At this juncture, one of two things can happen to make the BIGTECH/S&P 500 ratio less overbought:

  1. Stocks other than BIGTECH can rise faster than BIGTECH; or,

  2. BIGTECH can fall. 

Given how much BIGTECH has meant to S&P 500 performance, investors should pray for the former.”

Here is a visual of what Jeff is talking about.

Throughout history, whenever there seems to be a “Can’t Lose Bet” in the financial markets, you are essentially guaranteed to “Lose Money.”

Updating Risk/Reward Ranges

As noted by Sentiment Trader this past week, the CNN Fear/Greed Proxy has turned down recently from very high readings. While this does NOT suggest stocks will crash, it does indicate over the next few weeks returns will likely be more muted with increased volatility.

With this in mind we can update our risk/reward ranges for next week.

As noted last week:

“The rally reversed much of the short-term oversold condition. While the bulls are in control of the market currently, the upside is somewhat limited. However, the downside risks are reduced with the improvement in the technical underpinnings. Such puts the risk/reward dynamics to a more equally balanced, than opportunistic, positioning. As such, risk controls and hedges should remain for now.”

That advice played out well this past week, given daily swings in the market. While the market was up for the week, it has not reclaimed the June highs. As such, the consolidation continues with risk/reward remaining primarily “neutral” with a “negative” bias.

  • -2.6% to breakout level vs. +1.1% previous rally peak. (Neutral)

  • -4.5 to 5.4% to 50 & 200 dma support vs. +4.0% to January peak (Neutral)

  • -7.9% to previous consolidation peak vs. +5.5% to all-time highs. (Negative)

  • -14.2% to previous consolidation lows vs. +5.5% to all-time highs. (Negative)

Reason To Focus On Risk

It seems appropriate to restate something I wrote the last time we saw these types of divergences.

“Our job as investors is to navigate the waters within which we currently sail, not the waters we think we will sail in later. Higher returns come from the management of ‘risks’ rather than the attempt to create returns by chasing markets. Robert Rubin, former Secretary of the Treasury, defined this philosophy when he stated;

‘As I think back over the years, I have been guided by four principles for decision making. First, the only certainty is that there is no certainty. Second, every decision, as a consequence, is a matter of weighing probabilities. Third, despite uncertainty, we must decide and we must act. And lastly, we need to judge decisions not only on the results but also on how we made them.

Most people are in denial about uncertainty. They assume they’re lucky, and that the unpredictable can be reliably forecasted. Such keeps business brisk for palm readers, psychics, and stockbrokers, but it’s a terrible way to deal with uncertainty. If there are no absolutes, all decisions become matters of judging the probability of different outcomes, and the costs and benefits of each. Then, on that basis, you can make a good decision.'”

An Honest Assessment

It should be evident that an honest assessment of uncertainty leads to better decisions. Still, the benefits of Rubin’s approach, and mine, goes beyond that. For starters, although it may seem contradictory, embracing uncertainty reduces risk, while denial increases it. Another benefit of acknowledged uncertainty is it keeps you honest.

“A healthy respect for uncertainty and focus on probability drives you never to be satisfied with your conclusions.  It keeps you moving forward to seek out more information, to question conventional thinking and to continually refine your judgments and understanding that difference between certainty and likelihood can make all the difference.” – Robert Rubin

We must be able to recognize and be responsive to changes in underlying market dynamics. If they change for the worse, we must be aware of the inherent risks in portfolio allocation models. The reality is that we can’t control outcomes. The most we can do is influence the probability of specific outcomes. Such is why we manage risk by investing on probabilities rather than possibilities. 

Such is essential not only to capital preservation but to investment success over time.

Published:7/11/2020 11:36:50 AM
[Markets] Over 500,000 businesses got PPP loans but are listed as retaining zero jobs, Treasury Department data show Missing jobs data on Paycheck Protection Program loan recipients will make accountability a challenge, experts say.
Published:7/11/2020 11:36:50 AM
[Markets] U.S. sees record of 66,000 new COVID-19 infections U.S. sees record of 66,000 new COVID-19 infections Published:7/11/2020 11:11:19 AM
[Markets] Cops Raid Mansion Of St. Louis Couple Who Defended Home From Protesters, Confiscate AR-15 Cops Raid Mansion Of St. Louis Couple Who Defended Home From Protesters, Confiscate AR-15 Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 12:00

St. Louis authorities confiscated an AR-15 used by Mark McCloskey, who made headlines with his wife Patricia last month when they defended their historic mansion from protesters who had broken down a gate to trespass on their private road.

Police executed a search warrant Friday evening at the McCloskey's home, seizing the rifle used in the June 28 incident, according to KSDK. The couple said their attorney was in possession of the pistol Patricia McCloskey brandished during the confrontation. The raid comes two weeks after St. Louis circuit attorney Kimberly Gardner vowed to work with the St. Louis Police Department to conduct an investigation into the incident.

According to the report, there are no charges against the McCloskeys at this time, as the warrant was just for the guns.

As Fox News reports, the McCloskeys appeared on "Hannity" where they said that protesters had returned to their neighborhood on July 3, however they had been tipped off and hired private security before "300 to 500 people" entered their gated community, according to Patricia McCloskey.

"[They said] that they were going to kill us," she said. "They were going to come in there. They were going to burn down the house. They were going to be living in our house after I was dead, and they were pointing to different rooms and said, 'That’s going to be my bedroom and that’s going to be the living room and I’m going to be taking a shower in that room’."

And now they've been disarmed.

Published:7/11/2020 11:11:18 AM
[Markets] NewsWatch: S&P 500 earnings set to plunge as the coronavirus batters all sectors — with Wall Street counting on a bounce that may not come The one certainty about the outlook for companies in a COVID-19 world is that second-quarter earnings will be very bad, the worst in over 10 years.
Published:7/11/2020 11:11:18 AM
[Markets] US Single-Day COVID-19 Cases Top 70k For First Time; In India, Cases Top 800k: Live Updates US Single-Day COVID-19 Cases Top 70k For First Time; In India, Cases Top 800k: Live Updates Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 11:00

The US reported yet another record-breaking single-day number of new coronavirus cases on Friday. And while counts by Johns Hopkins and others put the total at roughly 64k cases, a tally by worldometer put the number of new cases at 71,787, the first time the US has reported more than 70k cases in a day.

Those numbers brought the case total in the US to 3,294,539, while the US also reported another 854 new deaths, bringing the total to 136,735k.

That number marked a fourth day of new deaths trending closer to 1k, a psychologically important level.

Globally, the world recorded 228,000 new cases yesterday, another record high as Brazil and India see cases spiral out of control. That brought the international total to 12,689,741.

Friday's numbers brought the mortality rate in the US to 4.8%, while the number of total cases in the country, home to the world's largest outbreak, still represented roughly a quarter of the global total. Globally, there were 12,689,741 confirmed cases as of Saturday morning on the East Coast of the US.

Meanwhile, in Florida, hospitals confirmed that a total of 7,063 patients were hospitalized with the virus in Florida, according to data released Saturday by a state agency. Miami-Dade County is the state leader with 1,601 patients hospitalized, the most in any single county in the country.

While the Sun Belt outbreaks continue to spiral out of control, we noticed an interesting report out of NYC on Saturday. The NYT recently reported that more than 68% of people tested positive for antibodies at a clinic in Corona, a working-class Queens neighborhood,  while 56% tested positive at another clinic in Jackson Heights, Queens.

That compares with just 13% of people tested in ritzy Cobble Hill, a ritzy Brooklyn neighborhood.

India has registered more than 800,000 Covid-19 cases so far, the country’s health ministry announced Saturday.

It reported a record 27,114 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, bringing the nationwide total to 820,916.

This is the third consecutive day that the country has recorded its highest single-day jump in new coronavirus cases.

As Covid-19 cases continue to soar, Indian cities and states are reimposing strict measures to curb the spread.

On Friday, India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state issued several restrictions in the state for the weekend in a bid to contain the surge, with only essential services operating. At least 515,000 people have recovered from the virus to date, the ministry said.

The South Asian nation has so far tested over 11.3 million samples for coronavirus, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Japan recorded 430 new cases, first time the country has registered more than 400 in a day since April 24, when the countywide emergency order was still in effect. Tokyo contirbted 243 of those, its highest daily jump in new cases yet.

Finally, in Australia, the state of Victoria, home to Melbourne, recorded 216 new coronavirus cases, Premier Daniel Andrews announced Saturday. Of these 186 remain under investigation, while the other 30 have been linked to known outbreaks. The number was down from the 288 cases reported Thursday, the most in a single day in any Australian state. So far, a total of  21,841 cases have been confirmed, along with 995 deaths.

Published:7/11/2020 10:08:06 AM
[Markets] The Threats To The Bullish Thesis Have Grown The Threats To The Bullish Thesis Have Grown Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 10:30

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Since the March lows, the markets have rallied on optimism of a “V-shaped” economic recovery and constant stimulus from the Fed. So far, that has been the right call. However, in recent weeks, the threats to the bullish thesis have grown.

We recently discussed the Fed’s inflation of an asset bubble. The crux of the analysis was the unprecedented amount of monetary stimulus to counter the “pandemic.”

The Fed was able to inflate another asset bubble to restore consumer confidence and stabilize the credit markets. The problem is that since the Fed never unwound their previous policies, current policies will have a more muted long-term effect.

However, this time there are 50+ million unemployed, wage growth is declining, and bankruptcies are on the rise. The Fed’s attempt to inflate another bubble to offset the damage from the deflation of the last bubble, will likely not work.”

In the short-term, the Fed’s actions had the intended outcome by providing “stability” to the financial markets.

The Paradox

What is most imperative for the Fed is those market participants, and consumers “believe” in their actions. With the financial ecosystem more heavily levered than ever, the “instability of stability” remains the most significant risk.

“The ‘stability/instability paradox’ assumes that all players are rational. That assumption implies participants will avoid complete destruction. In other words, all players will act rationally, and no one will push ‘the big red button.’”

The problem the Fed, and Global Central banks, currently face is an inability to extract themselves from ongoing monetary policy measures. After the “Financial Crisis,” the Fed had hoped they would be able to reduce their accommodation as economic growth and inflation returned.

Neither ever happened.

A Diminishing Rate Of Return

Instead, as each year passed, more monetary policy was required just to sustain economic growth. Whenever the Fed tightened policy, economic growth weakened, and financial markets declined. The table shows it takes increasingly larger amounts of QE to create an equivalent increase in asset prices.

As with everything, there is a “diminishing rate of return” on QE over time. Since QE requires more debt to be issued, the consequence is slower economic growth over time.

“The relevance of debt growth versus economic growth is all too evident. Debt issuance initially exploded during the Obama administration. It further accelerated under President Trump, and has taken ever-increasing amounts of debt to generate $1 of economic growth.”

In other words, without debt, there has been no organic economic growth.

Importantly, after a decade of unprecedented monetary policy programs in U.S., the risks in the system have been expanded. It is now imperative that everyone continues to “act rationally.”

By not letting the system correct, letting weak companies fail, and allowing valuations to mean revert, the Fed has trapped itself. Such was a point we discussed previously:

“One way to view this problem is by looking at the Nasdaq 100 versus the S&P 500 index. That ratio is now at the highest level ever.”

These levels of extremes rarely exist for extended periods. It currently seems as if “nothing can stop the bullish market.” However, it is always an unexpected, exogenous event, which pops the bubble.

The Bear Case

My colleague Doug Kass recently penned an interesting post on this issue:

“In aggregate terms, COVID -19 will likely have a sustained impact on the domestic economy. Such will be seen in reduced production and profitability for several years and forever in some industries.

At the core of my concerns:

  • Important Industries Gutted: Several key labor-intensive industries, such as education, lodging, entertainment, restaurant, travel, retail, and non-residential real estate, all face an existential threat. For these industries, they simply cannot survive the conditions they face. For these gutted industries, we face, at best, an 80% to 85% recovery in the years to come. In the case of some of these sectors like retail, Covid-19 only sped up what was already a secular decline. 

  • A Negative Knock-On Effect: Tangential industries, like food and other services surrounding less utilized offices, malls, and other spaces, will also get hit. They, too, face at best, an 80% recovery.

  • Widening Income and Wealth Inequality: The combined unemployment impact will run deep and cause adverse economic ramifications and intensified social imbalances.

  • A Battered Public Sector: With a lower revenue base, the Federal government and municipalities will cut services (and employment).

  • Rising Tax Rates and Redistribution: To fund the revenue shortfall tax rates will steadily increase. Such will exacerbate the disruption described above, and create a less than virtuous cycle.

Negative Impact To Stocks

As Doug also notes, there are substantial impacts to companies individually, which will eventually manifest in lower asset prices.

  • Weak Capital Spending: With a large output gap and higher debt loads ($2.5 trillion of Federal Debt and $16 trillion of non-financial debt), the outlook for capital spending is weak over the next several years.

  • Higher Costs And Lower Profit Margins: The surviving companies in a post-virus world will face higher costs of doing business. 

  • The Competitive Influence of Zombie Companies Exacerbate Lower Profitability: Corporations will face further pressure on profit margins from “zombie companies.” These companies compete aggressively on cost, and take longer to die due to low interest rates and weak loan covenants. 

  • Small Businesses Gutted: The greatest brunt from the pandemic is faced by small businesses that historically account for the largest job creators.

  • The Specter of a Secular Erosion in Unemployment: Permanent job losses will be surprisingly large, ultimately killing consumption. 

  • More Cautious Business Confidence and Spending: The surviving companies were ill-prepared operationally and financially, in early 2020 for the disruptive impact of COVID- 19. Such will force companies to maintain a “buffer” of additional capital (and cash) in the event of another unforeseen event or tragedy. In all likelihood, this will make for less ambitious capital spending and expansion plans relative to the past. 

  • Financial Repression Holds Multiple Risks: A sustained period of low-interest rates, necessary (by some) to offset reduced economic growth, could backfire. Repressing interest rates runs the risk of a pension fund crisis, and intransigence on the part of businesses to expand and may impair the U.S. banking system.

  • A Political Stasis: Political divisiveness and partisanship could intensify – dimming the probability of effective, pro-growth fiscal policy necessary in a low growth economy.

Overly Bullish

When reading through Doug’s list, the immediate response from readers who have a “bullish bias,” is “yeah…but what about the Fed?”

In the short-term, the Fed’s monetary interventions can certainly lift asset prices. As noted in the table above, the biggest “bang for the buck” is when asset markets are profoundly depressed, and negative sentiment is exceptionally high.

Such is not the case currently with retail investors chasing momentum in the markets with reckless disregard of the underlying investment risk. The sharp rise in the Russell 2000 index, as noted by Sentiment Trader, supports this view:

“Below is the percentage of Russell 2000 firms that have negative operating earnings over the trailing-12 months. It just moved above 30%, the most in over a decade. Only twice before in 20 years have such a high proportion of these small companies lost money. Those two periods were in April 2002 and December 2009 through February 2010.”

Furthermore, you have a near-record number of small traders speculating on asset prices through the use of options.

As noted previously, investors are also using 24-month forward estimates to justify overpaying for assets.

But, by nearly any metric, stocks are extremely expensive. There is only so much “future growth” that can be pulled forward. Eventually, “the piper must be paid.”

The Risks Of Being Bullish

At the moment, none of these risks seem to matter.

What is vital to understand none of these issues will “cause” the “bear market.”

They are just the “fuel” that will exacerbate an eventual decline when the right catalyst is applied. Much like a can of gasoline stored in your garage, gas is inert until introducing the proper catalyst (a match.)

Concerning the financial markets, it will most likely not be a resurgence of the virus, weak economic data, or even a dismal earnings season. Such has already been “priced in” by the market. However, as stated, it will require an unexpected, exogenous event to ignite the fuel. At the point, it will become hard to contain the flames.

From an investment standpoint, it is critical to understand the “risk” under which you deploy capital into overvalued and extended assets.

While it may seem like a “no-lose” scenario due to the Fed’s liquidity programs, mean reversions can, and have previously, occurred.

As Doug concluded:

“While the Federal Reserve can provide the necessary ammunition (and liquidity) to stabilize activity briefly – it is unlikely a longer-term solution.

As we pass another Independence Day, the downcast prospects will impact the markets in the coming weeks and months

These are not an ingredient for a “Bull Market” or rising valuations. Instead, the above factors may be an ingredient to:

  1. Increased market volatility.

  2. Increasing economic uncertainty and cautiousness in the C-suite.

  3. An irregular period of growth.

  4. Lower price-earnings ratios.

  5. More social unrest.

The U.S. economy and our financial markets now face a crossroad – they are once again decoupling. The test of economic aspiration and market optimism will come in the years ahead.”

Navigating The Risk

Whenever I write an article that discusses a “bearish view” on the financial markets, readers construe it to mean I am sitting in cash, or short the “bull market.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. As stated over the last few weeks, we are currently “uncomfortably long” the market on our portfolios’ equity side. While we continue to hedge our risks to some degree through our bond, gold, and cash holdings, we are still well exposed to potential downside risks.

Having a thorough understanding of the “risk” is to have better control over long-term outcomes. While it is essential to make money while markets are rising, it is even more critical to control the losses. Spending a bulk of your time getting “back to even” is not a long-term investment strategy.

In January and February of this year, we discussed taking profits in stocks like AAPL, MSFT, AMZN, and others. The reason was not some prediction about the impact of the virus, but rather the gross deviation and extension of these positions from long-term means.

That risk reduction benefited us much when the crash came in March.

On Wednesday, we took profits in AAPL, MSFT, NFLX, and AMZN. (Taking profits does not mean we sold the entire position.)

I don’t know what might cause the next correction, or if there will even be one. But what I do know is that when stocks are this extended, overbought, and deviated above long-term means, bad things tend to happen.

Published:7/11/2020 9:42:11 AM
[Markets] Mark Hulbert: When Wall Street stock analysts scream ‘buy,’ the smart money is already way ahead of them Most brokerage analysts tend to play it safe rather than risk their reputations and jobs, writes Mark Hulbert.
Published:7/11/2020 9:04:31 AM
[Markets] Watch US Armored Convoy Retreat As Syrian Army Threatens Fire In Tense Standoff Watch US Armored Convoy Retreat As Syrian Army Threatens Fire In Tense Standoff Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 09:55

Though long off the media's radar, it remains that a thousand or more US troops are still occupying northeast Syria's oil rich region, provoking multiple recent dangerous "close call" near-clashes with Syrian and Russian troops who are also patrolling a region considered sovereign Syrian soil.

The latest tense encounter this week as a US military convoy came upon a check point manned by Syrian Army soldiers and pro-Assad militia almost resulted in a direct clash.

Video shows Syrian soldiers halting the US-flagged patrol unit, consisting of three armored vehicles, demanding that they turn back. At one point a Syrian soldier even approaches the doors of the lead American vehicle and is seen waiving his Kalashnikov point-blank at the driver side windows (at 3:40 mark below). 

The convoy then promptly initiates a U-turn and heads in the opposite direction, likely given it was clear that the Syrian soldiers were ready to engage.

"Run baby, run!" the cameraman is heard saying. The incident reportedly took place in western Hasakah along the M-4 highway. The Americans were apparently trying to access a key bridge along the strategic road.

Syrian state media outlet SANA published photos of the encounter, claiming it as a victory against the “US occupation in the village of Mansaf Tahtani” which “forced them to return to their illegal bases.”

Imaged published by SANA of the incident.

In of the official photos released by SANA, a Syrian soldier is seen brandishing a rocket-propelled grenade while walking toward the retreating convoy.

It's but another reminder that the war in Syria is far from finally settled, though Assad is in form control of most of the country.

Though brief, there's a rare moment a Syrian soldier points his rifle directly at US troops inside the Army vehicle.

There's clearly still the potential for major war to erupt once again given the significant presence of US forces in Syria's most oil-rich area.

Both Damascus and Moscow have repeatedly demanded all American forces leave Syria immediately, and have at times threatened use of force to make that happen, though to some degree an unspoken 'status quo' has remained, preventing outright gunfights among major powers on the ground.

Published:7/11/2020 9:04:31 AM
[Markets] Seattle Officials Back Defunding Police By 50%, Mull 911 Overhaul Seattle Officials Back Defunding Police By 50%, Mull 911 Overhaul Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 09:20

After four shootings over 10 days in Seattle's cop-less 'autonomous zone' left two teenagers dead last month, the majority of City Council is now backing proposals to defund the police department by 50% and completely overhaul the city's 911 system after an activist group, Decriminalize Seattle, launched a pressure campaign to redirect millions of taxpayer dollars to community organizations.

The change would mean firing approximately 1,000 personnel from the Seattle Police Department.

"The status quo is no longer acceptable," said Council President Lorena Gonzalez in a Thursday statement reproted by KIRO7. "We have to take away the things that no longer and should have never belonged to law enforcement in the first place."

Others on the council, including budget chair Theresa Mosqueda echoed the sentiment during a news conference, saying "I look forward to implementing the proposals outlined by you all."

"When millions of people took to the streets to protest excessive use of force and police violence, they were met with excessive use of force and police violence in Seattle and around the country, proving that it’s not just about a few bad actors."

"It is the institution of policing itself that must be dismantled," she added.

According to the coalition, its plan to reallocate more than $200 million from the Seattle Police Department’s budget would replace current 911 operations with a civilian-controlled system; scaled up community-led solutions; an investment in housing; and a fund for a “community-created roadmap to life without policing.”

“Ensure that young people and our families have access to the sorts of resources, housing, economic and employment opportunity, health care, education, which actually prevent young people and their families from ever entering the school -to -prison pipeline or the prison industrial complex,” Nikkita Oliver of Creative Justice said.

“You want us as visionaries in thinking through community solutions to policing,” Jaelynn Scott with the Black Trans Taskforce said. -KIRO7

"How many victims would not have to be victims?" said K. Wyking Garrett, CEO of Africatown Community Land Trust. "Because when the police show up, there’s already a victim, and there’s already a suspect, who’s also a victim in certain ways."

Police Chief Carmen Best pushed back, telling KIRO7: "I respect Councilmember Mosqueda. I think she is very passionate about what she’s doing, but she also needs to think about the fact that public safety and the budget are intertwined," adding "And we need to make sure we’re doing what’s in the best interests of everybody. It’s really interesting — if anybody recognizes issues of system racism and institutional racism, it’s me."

"I think it’s rash and irrational to make that decision without having a thoughtful conversation with community members," she added. "And I’m hoping that the City Council will rethink the plan to do that — without having a plan for how we’re going to re-envision policing and how it will work."

Published:7/11/2020 8:35:31 AM
[Markets] Comic: Federal Reserve Stimulus Drives Wall Street Towards All-Time Highs By Jesse Cohen Published:7/11/2020 8:09:14 AM
[Markets] Melania Trump Statue Set On Fire In Slovenian Home Town Melania Trump Statue Set On Fire In Slovenian Home Town Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 08:45

On America's Independence Day and a week after President Trump signed an executive order to protect federal monuments from vandalism, a life-sized sculpture of first lady Melania Trump was burned near her hometown of Sevnica, Slovenia. 

Brad Downey, an American Berlin-based artist, told Reuters police contacted him on July 5th about hooligans who torched his sculpture of the first lady. He said the statue was "blackened and disfigured" - and police removed it the next day. 

"I want to know why they did it," Downey said, adding that he would like to interview the arsonist for an upcoming film he is working on. 

Police spokeswoman Alenka Drenik said the investigation "has not been completed yet, so we cannot reveal details due to the interest of further procedures.

The wooden statue of the first lady was unveiled last year - it depicts the first lady as she stood at President Donald Trump's inauguration day - wearing a light blue coat and waving her left hand. 

A resident of Sevnica told Reuters in 2019 that the statue "does not look as beautiful as she normally is." 

Downey told CNN locals had been nothing but "supportive" about the statue. They were really proud of this thing."

Before the virus pandemic, a wooden statue mocking President Trump was burnt in Slovenia's city of Moravce. 

 

 

Published:7/11/2020 8:09:14 AM
[Markets] NewsWatch: The Biden-Sanders climate-change policy pact: 8 key features Presidential candidate Joe Biden has advanced environmental policy recommendations that most analysts find more ambitious than his stance in favor of curbing man-made climate change earlier in his campaign.
Published:7/11/2020 8:09:14 AM
[Markets] Whitney: Looks Like Sweden Was Right After All Whitney: Looks Like Sweden Was Right After All Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 08:10

">Authored by Mike Whitney via The Unz Review,

Why is the media so fixated on Sweden’s coronavirus policy? What difference does it make?

Sweden settled on a policy that they thought was both sustainable and would save as many lives as possible. They weren’t trying to ‘show anyone up’ or ‘prove how smart they were’. They simply took a more traditionalist approach that avoided a full-scale lockdown. That’s all.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? And that’s why Sweden has been so harshly criticized in the media, because they refused to do what everyone else was doing. They refused to adopt a policy that elites now universally support, a policy that scares people into cowering submission. The Swedish model is a threat to that approach because it allows people to maintain their personal freedom even in the midst of a global pandemic. Ruling class elites don’t want that, that is not in their interests. What they want is for the people to meekly accept the rules and conditions that lead to their eventual enslavement. That’s the real objective, complete social control, saving lives has nothing to do with it. Sweden opposed that approach which is why Sweden has to be destroyed. It’s that simple.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with Sweden’s fatality rate, which is higher than some and lower than others. (Sweden has 543 deaths per million, which means roughly 1 death in every 2,000 people.) But like every other country, the vast majority of Swedish fatalities are among people 70 years and older with underlying health conditions. (“90% of the country’s deaths have been among those over 70.”) Sweden was not successful in protecting the people in its elderly care facilities, so large numbers of them were wiped out following the outbreak. Sweden failed in that regard and they’ve admitted they failed. Even so, the failures of implementation do not imply that the policy is wrong. Quite the contrary. Sweden settled on a sustainable policy, that keeps the economy running, preserves an atmosphere of normality, and exposes its young, low-risk people to the infection, thus, moving the population closer to the ultimate goal of “herd immunity”.

[ZH: in Sweden (pop. 10.25m) – where there was no lockdown, huge international criticism of its strategy, and one of the highest fatalities per head in the world – only 70 people under 49 years old have died of Covid-19, out of 5,482 total virus deaths (1.3%) so far. For context, average annual deaths in Sweden over the last 5 years for under-49-year-olds have been 3,417.  ]

Presently, Sweden is very close to reaching herd immunity which is a condition in which the majority have developed antibodies that will help to fend-off similar sars-covid infections in the future. Absent a vaccine, herd immunity is the best that can be hoped for. It ensures that future outbreaks will be less disruptive and less lethal. Take a look at this excerpt from an article at the Off-Guardian which helps to explain what’s really going on:

“Sweden’s health minister understood that the only chance to beat COVID-19 was to get the Swedish population to a Herd Immunity Threshold against COVID-19, and that’s exactly what they have done…

The Herd Immunity Threshold (“HIT”) for COVID-19 is between 10-20%

This fact gets less press than any other. Most people understand the basic concept of herd immunity and the math behind it. In the early days, some public health officials speculated that COVID-19’s HIT was 70%. Obviously, the difference between a HIT of 70% and a HIT of 10-20% is dramatic, and the lower the HIT, the quicker a virus will burn out as it loses the ability to infect more people, which is exactly what COVID-19 is doing everywhere, including the U.S, which is why the death curve above looks the way it looks.

Scientists from Oxford, Virginia Tech, and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, all recently explained the HIT of COVID-19 in this paper:

We searched the literature for estimates of individual variation in propensity to acquire or transmit COVID-19 or other infectious diseases and overlaid the findings as vertical lines in Figure 3. Most CV estimates are comprised between 2 and 4, a range where naturally acquired immunity to SARS-CoV-2 may place populations over the herd immunity threshold once as few as 10-20% of its individuals are immune….

Naturally acquired herd immunity to COVID-19 combined with earnest protection of the vulnerable elderly – especially nursing home and assisted living facility residents — is an eminently reasonable and practical alternative to the dubious panacea of mass compulsory vaccination against the virus.

This strategy was successfully implemented in Malmo, Sweden, which had few COVID-19 deaths by assiduously protecting its elder care homes, while “schools remained open, residents carried on drinking in bars and cafes, and the doors of hairdressers and gyms were open throughout.

One of the most vocal members of the scientific community discussing COVID-19’s HIT is Stanford’s Nobel-laureate Dr. Michael Levitt. Back on May 4, he gave this great interview to the Stanford Daily where he advocated for Sweden’s approach of letting COVID-19 spread naturally through the community until you arrive at HIT. He stated:

If Sweden stops at about 5,000 or 6,000 deaths, we will know that they’ve reached herd immunity, and we didn’t need to do any kind of lockdown. My own feeling is that it will probably stop because of herd immunity. COVID is serious, it’s at least a serious flu. But it’s not going to destroy humanity as people thought.

Guess what? That’s exactly what happened. As of today, 7 weeks after his prediction, Sweden has 5,550 deaths. In this graph, you can see that deaths in Sweden PEAKED when the HIT was halfway to its peak (roughly 7.3%) and by the time the virus hit 14% it was nearly extinguished.”

(“Second wave? Not even close“, JB Handley, The Off-Guardian)

In other words, Sweden is rapidly approaching the endgame which means that restrictions can be dropped entirely and normal life can resume. They will have maintained their dignity and freedom while the rest of the world hid under their beds for months on end. They won’t have to reopen their primary schools because they never shut them down to begin with. Numerous reports indicate that young children are neither at risk nor do they pass the virus to others. Most Americans don’t know this because the propaganda media has omitted the news from their coverage. Here’s a clip from the National Review which helps to explain:

Kari Stefansson, CEO of the Icelandic company deCODE genetics in Reykjavík, studied the spread of COVID-19 in Iceland with Iceland’s Directorate of Health and the National University Hospital. His project has tested 36,500 people; as of this writing,

Children under 10 are less likely to get infected than adults and if they get infected, they are less likely to get seriously ill. What is interesting is that even if children do get infected, they are less likely to transmit the disease to others than adults. We have not found a single instance of a child infecting parents.”

(“Icelandic Study: ‘We Have Not Found a Single Instance of a Child Infecting Parents.’“, National Review)

This is just one of many similar reports from around the world. Most of the schools in Europe have already reopened and lifted restrictions on distancing and masks. Meanwhile, in the US, the reopening of schools has become another contentious political issue pitting Trump against his Democrat adversaries who are willing to sacrifice the lives of schoolchildren to prevent the president from being reelected. It’s a cynical-counterproductive approach that reveals the vindictiveness of the people who support it. In an election year, everything is politics. (Watch Tucker Carlson’s short segment on “Kids cannot afford to stay locked down.“)

Here’s a question for you: Have you ever wondered why the virus sweeps through the population and then seemingly dissipates and dies out? In fact, the virus doesn’t simply die-out, it runs out of people to infect. But how can that be when only 1 of 7 people will ever contract the virus?

The answer is immunity, either natural immunity or built up immunity from other Sars-Covid exposure. Here’s more from the Off Guardian piece:

“Scientists are now showing evidence that up to 81% of us can mount a strong response to COVID-19 without ever having been exposed to it before:

Cross-reactive SARS-CoV-2 T-cell epitopes revealed preexisting T-cell responses in 81% of unexposed individuals, and validation of similarity to common cold human coronaviruses provided a functional basis for postulated heterologous immunity.

This alone could explain WHY the Herd Immunity Threshold (HIT) is so much lower for COVID-19 than some scientists thought originally, when the number being talked about was closer to 70%. Many of us have always been immune!

(“Second wave? Not even close”, JB Handley, The Off-Guardian)

What does it mean?

It means that Fauci and the idiots in the media have been lying to us the whole time. It means that Covid-19 is not a totally new virus for which humans have no natural immunity or built-in protection. Covid is a derivative of other infections which is why the death toll isn’t alot higher. Check this out from the BBC:

“People testing negative for coronavirus antibodies may still have some immunity, a study has suggested. For every person testing positive for antibodies, two were found to have specific T-cells which identify and destroy infected cells. This was seen even in people who had mild or symptomless cases of Covid-19..

This could mean a wider group have some level of immunity to Covid-19 than antibody testing figures, like those published as part of the UK Office for National Statistics Infection Survey, suggest…..And these people should be protected if they are exposed to the virus for a second time.”

(“Coronavirus: Immunity may be more widespread than tests suggest“, BBC)

Now, I realize that there’s some dispute about immunity, but there shouldn’t be. If you contract the virus, you either won’t get it again or you’ll get a much milder case. And if immunity doesn’t exist, then we’re crazy to waste our time trying to develop a vaccine, right?

What the science tells us is that immunity does exist and the reason the vast majority of people didn’t get the infection— is not because they locked themselves indoors and hid behind the sofa– but because they already have partial immunity either from their genetic makeup or from previous exposure to Sars-CoV-2 which was identified in 2002.

It’s worth repeating that the reason everyone was so scared about Covid originally was because it was hyped as a “novel virus”, completely new with no known cure or natural protection. That was a lie that was propagated by Fauci and his dissembling Vaccine Mafia, all of who are responsible for the vast destruction to the US economy, the unprecedented spike in unemployment, and the obliteration of tens of thousands of small businesses.

As the author points out, we should have known from the incident on the Diamond Princess (Cruise Liner) that immunity was far more widespread than previously thought. Readers might recall that only 17% of the people on board tested Covid-positive, “despite an ideal environment for mass spread, implying 83% of the people were somehow protected from the new virus.”

Think about that for a minute. All of the passengers were 60 years old or older, but only 17% caught the virus. Why?

Immunity, that’s why. What else could it be? Cross immunity, natural immunity, or SARS-CoV-2 T-cell immunity. Whatever you want to call it, it exists and it explains why the vast majority of people will not get the highly-contagious Covid no matter what they do.

It’s also worth pointing out that even according to the CDC’s own statistics, the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) is a mere 0.26% whereas “According to the latest immunological and serological studies, the overall lethality of Covid-19 (IFR) is about 0.1% and thus in the range of a strong seasonal influenza (flu).” (“Facts about Covid-19”, Swiss Policy Research)

So the death rate is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 in every 500 (who contract the virus) to 1 in every 1,000. How can any rational person shut down a $21 trillion economy and order 340 million people into quarantine, based on the fact that 1 in every thousand people (mostly old and infirm) might die from an infection?? That was a act of pure, unalloyed Madness for which the American people will pay dearly for years to come. Once again, the US response was crafted by people who were promoting their own narrow political, social and economic agenda, not acting in the interests of the American people. We should expect more from our leaders than this.

So what does all of this say about the sharp spike in Covid positive cases in the south and the chances of a “second wave”?

There’s not going to be a second wave (The massive BLM protests in NY city has not produced any uptick in deaths, because NY has already achieved herd immunity. In contrast, Florida will undoubtedly experience more fatalities because it has not yet reached HIT or the Herd Immunity Threshold. Cases are increasing because younger- low-risk people are circulating more freely and because testing has increased by many orders of magnitude. At the same time, deaths continue to go down.

On Wednesday, US new cases rose to an eye-watering 62,000 in one day while deaths are down 75% from the April peak. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because the pattern has been the same as in countries around the world. The trajectory of infections was mapped out long ago by UK epidemiologist and statistician, William Farr. Take a look:

“Farr shows us that once peak infection has been reached then it will roughly follow the same symmetrical pattern on the downward slope. However, under testing and variations in testing regimes means we have no way of knowing when the peak of infections occurred. In this situation, we should use the data on deaths to predict the peak. There is a predicted time lag from infection to COVID deaths of approximately 21 to 28 days.

Once peak deaths have been reached we should be working on the assumption that the infection has already started falling in the same progressive steps. …

Farr, also illustrated that those who are the most ‘mortal die out’, and in a pandemic are those in most need of shielding….(So, Farr saw the wisdom of the Swedish approach a full 180 years ago!)

In the midst of a pandemic, it is easy to forget Farr’s Law, and think the number infected will just keep rising, it will not. Just as quick as measures were introduced to prevent the spread of infection we need to recognize the point at which to open up society and also the special measures due to ‘density’ that require special considerations. But most of all we must remember the message Farr left us: what goes up must come down.”

(“COVID-19: William Farr’s way out of the Pandemic”, The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine)

What this tells us is that the fatality rate is a more reliable barometer of what is taking place than the spike in new cases. And what the death rates signals is that the virus is on its last legs. We are not seeing the onset of a second wave, but the gradual ending of the first. Also, the fact that tens of thousands of young people are contracting Covid-19 without experiencing any pain or discomfort, confirms that immunity is widespread. This is a very positive development.

Here’s how Dr. John Thomas Littell, MD, who is President of the County Medical Society, and Chief of Staff at the Florida Hospital, summed it up in a letter to the editor of the Orlando Medical News, He said:

“Why did we as a society stop sending our children to schools and camps and sports activities? Why did we stop going to work and church and public parks and beaches? Why did we insist that healthy persons “stay at home” – rather than observing the evidence-based, medically prudent method of identifying those who were sick and isolating them from the rest of the population – advising the sick to “stay at home” and allowing the rest of society to function normally.”

(“Second wave? Not even close”, JB Handley, The Off-Guardian)

Why? Because we were misled by Doctor Fauci and the Vaccine Gestapo, that’s why. In contrast, Sweden shrugged off the dire predictions and fearmongering, and “got it right the first time.”

Hurrah for Sweden!

Published:7/11/2020 7:34:26 AM
[Markets] Market Extra: China’s stock market just jumped 6%. This is a good thing and Westerners should be glad. No, really. The stock-market frenzy that’s gripped China over the past few weeks is probably grounded in economic fundamentals, analysts think, and the government’s response suggests they’ve learned some hard lessons over the past decade - all good news for U.S. investors.
Published:7/11/2020 7:34:26 AM
[Markets] Swiss Mountain Vault Offers Wealthy Elites $500,000 Plots For Storing Valuables  Swiss Mountain Vault Offers Wealthy Elites $500,000 Plots For Storing Valuables  Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 07:35

With world trade collapsed, socio-economic chaos has unfolded across the Western world as central bank money printing and massive fiscal injections by governments might not be enough to ward off the next round of economic declines

The virus pandemic and social unrest in the US has shown just how fragile everything is - as wealthy elites flee metro areas for rural communities. We've shown those with economic mobility, considering the virus-induced recession has crushed tens of millions of folks into financial ruin - are buying underground bunkers so if Western economies plunge deeper into chaos -  they will be protected, from social unrest and or nuclear war with China. 

The wealthy have been the primary asset gathers in the last decade, thanks to central bank policies that has decimated the bottom 90% of Americans, stripped of assets, hence the record wealth inequality - and maybe another reason why people are protesting. 

Now, these wealthy folks have to figure out where they can safely store their post-war Ferraris, expensive artwork, rare wine collections, precious metals, and anything else of value. 

Bloomberg might have found that place, located in Switzerland, where a company is set to embark on a project to build deep underground vaults within a mountain. 

The Brünig Mega Safe Project, the firm heading up the project to build underground vaults in the Swiss Alps, said on its website, "Your treasure chamber in a solid rock massif," adding that, "The secure place for safekeeping your assets and sensitive data."

The vault is expected to be absolutely massive - equivalent to about ten soccer fields, according to board member Hugo Schittenhelm. He said the underground space could "multiply" if needed.

"The Swiss vaults will range from 100 cubic meters (3,531 cubic feet) to 1,000 times that large with heights of up to 90 meters, according to the website. The rock walls ensure a constant relative humidity of 40% and a temperature of 12 degrees Celsius (53.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Prices start at $500,000 and go up from there," said Bloomberg. 

Brünig Mega Safe will be constructed by engineering and underground construction firm, Gasser Felstechnik AG. 

Already, the project has attracted potential clients, including family offices, corporations, art galleries, and high net worth individuals, said Schittenhelm. 

Bloomberg notes the project needs $7.5 million to begin construction, expecting work to start as early as next year - the first vaults are expected to be commercially available 18 months from construction start.

With no V-shaped recovery in the global economy this year - turmoil is expected to last for the next several years as social fabric unravelings will continue in many Western countries, more specifically, in the US - it now might make sense for wealthy folks to start storing valuables in rock valuts before the social-economic implosion worsens. 

Published:7/11/2020 7:04:46 AM
[Markets] Economic Preview: Coronavirus spike in the dog days of summer sap economy of momentum Summer doldrums are taking on a whole new meaning during the coronavirus pandemic. The momentum in the U.S. economy appears to have melted away.
Published:7/11/2020 7:04:46 AM
[Markets] Earnings Outlook: S&P 500 earnings set to plunge as the coronavirus batters all sectors — with Wall Street counting on a bounce that may not come The one certainty about the outlook for companies in a COVID-19 world is that second-quarter earnings will be very bad, the worst in over 10 years.
Published:7/11/2020 6:14:40 AM
[Markets] The Groupthink Pandemic The Groupthink Pandemic Tyler Durden Sat, 07/11/2020 - 07:00

Authored by Kevin Smith via Off-Guardian.org,

Groupthink is all around us. Decision-making in government, in the media and at work. It’s slowly killing the world.

In the background of the most important events, the Covid-19 response and increasing tension and conflict in the world, it might be worth looking through some of this in a bit more detail.

I’ve experienced groupthink working for large organisations, most notably in my last job. We were tasked with investigating and solving complex problems. Some technical expertise helped but was not crucial to the role.

Critical thinking and balancing evidence and differing viewpoints was key.

Yet the organisation decided that this was no longer required and changed the whole operating model to a one-size fits all type of call-centre. This new high-risk approach was recommended to us by the outside consultants Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) who were clueless about our business.

Those of us who were experienced in the role argued that the model wouldn’t work. But the organisation ploughed on regardless. It was obvious from day one that the financials didn’t stack up which they tried to deny and later concealed.

The executive largely ignored our concerns to start but then paid limited lip-service when the wheels started to come off. Anyway, in the end they offered us redundancy while employing fresh university graduates to replace us. As far as I know the place is still in denial and heading down the pan.

Groupthink is described as follows:

Groupthink is a term first used in 1972 by social psychologist Irving L. Janis that refers to a psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group. In many cases, people will set aside their own personal beliefs or adopt the opinion of the rest of the group.

People who are opposed to the decisions or overriding opinion of the group as a whole frequently remain quiet, preferring to keep the peace rather than disrupt the uniformity of the crowd’.

Groupthink is common where group members have similar backgrounds and particularly where that group is placed under stress, resulting in irrational decision outcomes.

These are the main behaviors to watch out for:

  1. Illusions of invulnerability lead members of the group to be overly optimistic and engage in risk-taking.

  2. Unquestioned beliefs lead members to ignore possible moral problems and ignore the consequences of individual and group actions.

  3. Rationalising prevents members from reconsidering their beliefs and causes them to ignore warning signs.

  4. Stereotyping leads members of the in-group to ignore or even demonise out-group members who may oppose or challenge the group’s ideas.

  5. Self-censorship causes people who might have doubts to hide their fears or misgivings.

  6. “Mindguards” act as self-appointed censors to hide problematic information from the group.

  7. Illusions of unanimity lead members to believe that everyone is in agreement and feels the same way.

  8. Direct pressure to conform is often placed on members who pose questions, and those who question the group are often seen as disloyal or traitorous.

There are two further observations I made in the workplace, particularly relevant to groups going through major change or/and a crisis.

Firstly, they tend to swing from the status quo to the complete opposite. In our organisation, we definitely needed some changes and tweaks but we lurched towards a model which was completely unsuitable and unsustainable operationally and financially.

The other thing I noticed was our employers became control freaks. They started to talk down to us and our customers like children. They introduced office slogans such as ‘let’s crack on’ or ‘we’re all in this together’ and deflected from the problems of the disastrous reorganisation towards ‘celebrating diversity’ in the workplace. Critical thinking, creativity and expression were sucked out of the place.

The obvious analogy for all these behaviors is the response to Covid-19 when government ministers were collectively panicked into making extreme decisions on lockdown, using just one preferred source of ‘expertise’.

At the same time, they sidelined dissenters and independent experts who could have offered a calm, rational perspective and a targeted response to Covid-19.

In summing up this thinking and behavior, I’m reminded of these observations from Dr Malcolm Kendrick and Lord Sumption about the response to Covid-19. Dr Kendrick here:

We locked down the population that had virtually zero risk of getting any serious problems from the disease, and then spread it wildly among the highly vulnerable age group. If you had written a plan for making a complete bollocks of things you would have come up with this one”.

And Lord Sumption writing in the Mail on Sunday:

The Prime Minister, who in practice makes most of the decisions, has low political cunning but no governmental skills whatever. He is incapable of studying a complex problem in depth. He thinks as he speaks – in slogans.

These people have no idea what they are doing, because they are unable to think about more than one thing at a time or to look further ahead than the end of their noses.

THE BBC – A CASE-STUDY

A large organisation which has a high opinion of its news service. But of course, the reality is the opposite. There are so many groupthink case-studies but the BBC is as good as any, particularly in terms of making a bollocks of things.

The executives at the BBC and some senior correspondents will no doubt be aware that they run a politicised agenda of bias and misinformation on a grand scale. Outsiders who’ve researched their coverage will recognise this too. But this won’t be obvious to the vast majority of BBC employees, the victims of groupthink.

This came across in some of Andrew Marr’s incredulous reactions to Noam Chomsky’s observations about the media during their interview:

Andrew Marr: How can you know I’m self-censoring?

Noam Chomsky: I’m not saying you’re self-censoring. I’m sure you believe everything you say. But what I’m saying is if you believed something different you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.

I believe the foreign affairs reporting of the BBC is where this problem stands out most. Real expertise and impartiality has been completely absent from any reporting I’ve seen in recent years.

First, while not unusual in this profession, most journalists employed by the BBC will have a degree. Typically, when you look at today’s ‘top’ BBC journalists, many have attended the elite universities which tends to create a culture of like-minded people of similar backgrounds. This has been identified as one cause of creating groupthink.

Also, the younger journalists will be impressionable within the BBC hierarchy to the views and ways of the senior house-hold name journalists.

It’s sometimes said that there aren’t specific rules within the BBC and other media stating what a journalist can and can’t report and write and they generally don’t knowingly mislead. But they will learn almost instinctively to self-censor and operate within a set of unwritten, unspoken rules and a strait-jacket narrative.

The other problem in foreign affairs reporting is that BBC journalists and most others rarely visit the warzones. On Syria, they typically report from Lebanon or Turkey only occasionally venturing into a government or relatively safe terrorist or Kurd held area. So unlike previous conflicts, such as Bosnia where I remember at least a tiny degree of balance, journalists seldom see what is actually going on.

Under the pressure of deadlines they rely on dubious sources such as Al Qaeda terrorists and Bellingcat and pre-determined assumptions which conveniently slot in with the anti-Assad narrative of the BBC and establishment.

Recently, some grave doubts emerged about the OPCW report on the Douma incident, a huge story which has wider implications.

The investigations of Robert Stuart into a likely previously staged incident involving BBC journalists was swept under the carpet. Both matters have been ignored because the BBC have no way or will to refute evidence which goes against their bias.

On the other hand, the BBC are more than happy to provide extensive coverage to more allegations against Russia and Trump from anonymous sources, providing no background or balance within the overall of climate of related allegations which have collapsed or are unproven.

And in recent days the BBC has provided coverage on Hong Kong which looks like it’s come from a script.

It’s well known BBC journalists are silent on malpractice. We saw this with the Jimmy Savile scandal and decades of sexual abuse. This attitude is similar to what I experienced with my employer who were very vocal and proud of their anti-bullying and mental health policies. Yet when the staff were surveyed anonymously, bullying rates were through the roof.

The other obvious signs of groupthink within the BBC, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis, is dumbing-down and its slogan-filled website written as though their readers are idiots.

Another strong theme is a preoccupation with race and diversity, American affairs and general tittle-tattle, to the detriment of more pressing matters such as the longer-term and wider impact of the world’s current problems.

Covid-19 and our response to it is probably the most important event of our lifetime but there’s barely a peep about whether the response is necessary and proportionate. Instead, this totally rational viewpoint is only ever mentioned in the context of BBC articles about Covid-19 ‘conspiracy theories’.

Many of the examples I’ve described neatly fit in with groupthink behaviors and experiences I encountered in a large organisation.

But I think the biggest groupthink problem is with senior BBC journalists. Ultimately their lazy arrogance has trickled down to the newer journalists and so over time, wrong behavior has been normalised throughout.

THE BBC ‘GRANDEES’

A few months ago Huw Edwards made some comments about accusations of bias directed towards the BBC, defending the corporation and journalists. These are some of the specific comments he made which to me showed a complete lack of understanding of the concerns people have.

The BBC is not, to put it politely, run like some newspapers, with an all-powerful proprietor and/or editor making his or her mark on the tone and direction of the coverage […] BBC News is a rather unsettling mix of awkward, contrary and assertive people who (in my very long experience) delight in either ignoring the suggestions of managers or simply telling them where to get off. That’s how it works.”

Around this time, I also recall Edwards arguing on Twitter on the subject and he said that it was ridiculous to say that journalists within the BBC were willfully misleading the public. His Twitter opponent replied that this was not what he had said and was simply stating that the BBC had fallen victim to groupthink. Edwards just couldn’t get his head past this, while continuing to attack and misrepresent BBC critics.

This defensive attitude and stereotyping of critics is classic groupthink behavior in which he, Nick Robinson and others have taken part.

I used to admire John Simpson and in the 1980s he visited Iran post-revolution. He wrote a book of the visit which I enjoyed. But in recent years, he has shown that he doesn’t understand modern geo-politics and like the BBC can only assess it in terms of the ethno-centric British view on the world and our influence.

In this President Putin press conference he asked the most ridiculous question imaginable which confirms he’s lost the plot. His question was about Russian behavior in the world and whether Putin wanted to create a new Cold War.

Putin wiped the floor with him pointing out the hundreds of NATO bases and numerous wars which put Simpson’s aspersions into their rightful place.

Jeremy Bowen is another who has lost his way. I saw a recent report from him from the position of a Christian militia unit fighting terrorists in Syria.

Again, BBC arrogance was on full display. His report made generalised comparisons between him meeting Serbs in Bosnia in the 1990s and these Syrian fighters, clearly indicating that he doesn’t listen and is not interested in Syrian views on western complicity and the White Helmets.

In the usual group-speak he described the Syrian Government ‘the regime’ and Al Qaeda as ‘rebels’. His report simply rubber-stamped the BBC coverage of the whole conflict.

This arrogance is typical of journalists who rely on their past achievements, creating an air of gravitas to impress their audience. The reality is his reporting is based on no substance and outdated and lazy assumptions.

THE MADNESS OF JOHN SWEENEY

Ex-BBC nowadays, John Sweeney’s arrogance is off the scale. These days he spends his time on Twitter attacking lockdown sceptics, like Peter Hitchens accusing him of ‘killing’ his Mail on Sunday column readers with his views on Covid-19 lockdown.

Sweeney is off his trolley but the reality is he probably always was as this clip during his BBC days shows.

This behaviour, extreme as it is, certainly suggests groupthink played a big part somewhere in his career.

AN ILLUSION OF SANITY

BBC Dateline is a current affairs TV panel discussion which I occasionally watched. The panel which changed regularly were seemingly well qualified with foreign writers and journalists which included Russia or Arab affairs experts.

Sitting around that table they gave the impression of people who knew what they were talking about.

However, when you listened carefully to what they were saying, there was very little substance. Their arguments, all based on a simple premise that Russia/Syria are bad, the West is good, tempered with a little occasional criticism of western policy to give the illusion of balance.

Occasionally you would have a more pro-Russia expert on but with the prevailing consensus of the rest of the panel, his or her views would be ridiculed. It got to the point any dissenting panel member started to self-censor to sound more credible, perhaps to remain on the panel. This is the dilemma for any progressively minded BBC guest nowadays.

Peter Hitchens who complains the BBC never invite him on, appeared on Good Morning Britain (GMB) recently. As is normal with many GMB debates, the discussion on Covid-19 descended to retorts and abuse and was simply not the forum for Hitchens to get across his well thought out points on the big picture.

But I don’t think he would have fared any better on the BBC. The BBC create an illusion of civilised, intelligent discussion but the reality is there is no substance, depth or balance. The crucial discussion points about Covid-19 or conflict in the world don’t get a hearing. The premise and the rules are already set in stone before the guests arrive.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There are many reasons why the world is in its current madness and on the brink of serious conflict.

Groupthink in government, the media and the general public is probably a key factor as this represents the thinking culture alongside and below the psychopaths and war criminals who pull the strings.

It’s almost impossible to break this cycle by chipping away at it. But it’s possible a large event connected to Covid-19 or a major war will be the catalyst which might shock us out of our distorted view of reality.

In the meantime, independent commentators and ex-MSM like Peter Hitchens, Anna Brees and Tareq Haddad, are putting their careers on the line and self-interests aside. We can only encourage others employed by the BBC and other media to be brave and do the same.

Certainly, the consequences will be far more disastrous doing nothing and not speaking up.

In the sudden, new founded willingness to demonstrate on the streets perhaps those participating might be better reflecting on who and what the real enemy is.

Party politics, Brexit and Black Lives Matter really don’t matter.

Groupthink, escalating world conflict, All Lives Matter, including Syrians, Libyans, Palestinians and Blacks,(including those outside of US,UK and Europe) together with the post-Covid-19 march to an uncertain ‘new normal’, are the issues which matter right now.

Published:7/11/2020 6:14:40 AM
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[Markets] "I Could Live With That": How The CIA Made Afghanistan Safe For The Opium Trade "I Could Live With That": How The CIA Made Afghanistan Safe For The Opium Trade Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 23:45

Authored by Jeffrey St.Clair via Counterpunch.org,

“I decided I could live with that.”

– Stansfield Turner, Jimmy Carter’s CIA director, on the extreme level of civilian casualties in the CIA’s covert war in Afghanistan.

The first indelible image of the war in Afghanistan for many Americans was probably that of CBS anchorman Dan Rather, wrapped in the voluminous drapery of a mujahedin fighter, looking like a healthy relative of Lawrence of Arabia (albeit with hair that seemed freshly blow-dried, as some viewers were quick to point out). From his secret mountainside “somewhere in the Hindu Kush,” Rather unloaded on his audience a barrowload of nonsense about the conflict. The Soviets, Rather confided portentously, had put a bounty on his head “of many thousands of dollars.” He went on, “It was the best compliment they could have given me. And having a price put on my head was a small price to pay for the truths we told about Afghanistan.”

Every one of these observations turned out to be entirely false. Rather described the government of Hafizullah Amin as a “Moscow-installed puppet regime in Kabul.” But Amin had closer ties to the CIA than he did to the KGB. Rather called the mujahedin the “Afghan freedom fighters … who were engaged in a deeply patriotic fight to the death for home and hearth.” The mujahedin were scarcely fighting for freedom, in any sense Rather would have been comfortable with, but instead to impose one of the most repressive brands of Islamic fundamentalism known to the world, barbarous, ignorant and notably cruel to women.

It was a “fact,” Rather announced, that the Soviets had used chemical weapons against Afghan villagers. This was a claim promoted by the Reagan administration, which charged that the extraordinarily precise number of 3,042 Afghans had been killed by this yellow chemical rain, a substance that had won glorious propaganda victories in its manifestation in Laos a few years earlier, when the yellow rain turned out to be bee feces heavily loaded with pollen. As Frank Brodhead put it in the London Guardian, “Its composition: one part bee feces, plus many parts State Department disinformation mixed with media gullibility.”

Rather claimed that the mujahedin were severely underequipped, doing their best with Kalashnikov rifles taken from dead Soviet soldiers. In fact the mujahedin were extremely well-equipped, being the recipients of CIA-furnished weapons in the most ” “expensive covert war the Agency had ever mounted. They did carry Soviet weapons, but they came courtesy of the CIA. Rather also showed news footage that he claimed was of Soviet bombers strafing defenseless Afghan villages. This footage was staged, with the “Soviet bomber” actually a Pakistani air force plane on a training mission over northwest Pakistan.

CBS claimed to have discovered in Soviet-bombed areas stuffed animals filled with Soviet explosives, designed to blow Afghan children to bits. These booby-trapped toys had in fact been manufactured by the mujahedin for the exclusive purpose of gulling CBS News, as an entertaining article in the New York Post later made clear.

Rather made his heroically filmed way to Yunas Khalis, described as the leader of the Afghan warriors. In tones of awe he normally reserves for hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, Rather recalls in his book, The Camera Never Blinks Twice, “Belief in ‘right’ makes ‘might’ may have been fading in other parts of the world. In Afghanistan it was alive and well, and beating the Soviets.” Khalis was a ruthless butcher, with his troops fondly boasting of their slaughter of 700 prisoners of war. He spent most[…] makes ‘might’ may have been fading in other parts of the world. In Afghanistan it was alive and well, and beating the Soviets.” Khalis was a ruthless butcher, with his troops fondly boasting of their slaughter of 700 prisoners of war. He spent most of his time fighting, but the wars were not primarily with the Soviets. Instead, Khalis battled other Afghan rebel groups, the object of the conflicts being control of poppy fields and the roads and trails from them to his seven heroin labs near his headquarters in the town of Ribat al Ali. Sixty percent of Afghanistan’s opium crop was cultivated in the Helmand Valley, with an irrigation infrastructure underwritten by USAID.

In his dispatches from the front Rather did mention the local opium trade, but in a remarkably disingenuous fashion. “Afghans,” he said, “had turned Darra into a boom town, selling their home-grown opium for the best available weapons, then going back into Afghanistan to fight.”

Now Darra is a town in northwest Pakistan where the CIA had set up a factory to manufacture Soviet-style weapons that it was giving away to all Afghan comers. The weapons factory was run under contract to Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). Much of the opium trucked into Darra from Afghanistan by the mujahedin was sold to the Pakistani governor of the northwest territory, Lieutenant General Fazle Huq. From this opium the heroin was refined in labs in Darra, placed on Pakistani army trucks and transported to Karachi, then shipped to Europe and the United States.

Rather belittled the Carter administration’s reaction to the Soviet-backed coup in 1979, charging that Carter’s response had been tepid and slow in coming. In fact, President Carter had reacted with a range of moves that should have been the envy of the Reagan hawks who, a couple of years later, were belaboring him for being a Cold War wimp. Not only did Carter withdraw the United States from the 1980 Olympics, he slashed grain sales to the Soviet Union, to the great distress of Midwestern farmers; put the SALT II treaty hold; pledged to increase the US defense budget by 5 percent a year until the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan; and unveiled the Carter doctrine of containment in southern Asia, which CIA historian John Ranelagh says led Carter to approve “more secret CIA operations than Reagan later did.”

Carter later confessed in his memoirs that he was more shaken by the invasion of Afghanistan than any other event of his presidency, including the Iranian revolution. Carter was convinced by the CIA that it could be the start of a push by the Soviets toward the Persian Gulf, a scenario that led the president to seriously consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

Three weeks after Soviet tanks rolled into Kabul, Carter’s secretary of defense, Harold Brown, was in Beijing, arranging for a weapons transfer from the Chinese to the CIA-backed Afghani troops mustered in Pakistan. The Chinese, who were generously compensated for the deal, agreed and even consented to send military advisers. Brown worked out a similar arrangement with Egypt to buy $15 million worth of weapons. “The US contacted me,” Anwar Sadat recalled shortly before his assassination. “They told me, ‘Please open your stores for us so that we can give the Afghans the armaments they need to fight.’ And I gave them the armaments. The transport of arms to the Afghans started from Cairo on US planes.”

But few in the Carter administration believed the rebels had any chance of toppling the Soviets. Under most scenarios, the war seemed destined to be a slaughter, with civilians and the rebels paying a heavy price. The objective of the Carter doctrine was more cynical. It was to bleed the Soviets, hoping to entrap them in a Vietnam-style quagmire. The high level of civilian casualties didn’t faze the architects of covert American intervention. “I decided I could live with that,” recalled Carter’s CIA director Stansfield Turner.

Prior to the Soviet invasion, Afghanistan barely registered as a topic of interest for the national press, surfacing in only a handful of annual newspaper stories. In December 1973, when détente was near its zenith, the Wall Street Journal ran a rare front-page story on the country, titled “Do the Russians Covet Afghanistan? If so, It’s Hard to Figure Why.” Reporter Peter Kann, later to become the Journal’s chairman and publisher, wrote that “great power strategists tend to think of Afghanistan as a kind of fulcrum upon which the world balance of power tips. But from close up, Afghanistan tends to look less like a fulcrum or a domino or a steppingstone than like a vast expanse of desert waste with a few fly-ridden bazaars, a fair number of feuding tribes and a lot of miserably poor people.”

After the Soviet Union invaded, this wasteland swiftly acquired the status of a precious geopolitical prize. A Journal editorial following the Soviet takeover said Afghanistan was “more serious than a mere stepping-stone” and, in response, called for stationing of US troops in the Middle East, increased military outlays, expanded covert operations and reinstatement of draft registration. Drew Middleton, then a New York Times Defense Department correspondent, filed a tremulous post-invasion analysis in January 1980: “The conventional wisdom in the Pentagon,” he wrote, “is that in purely military terms, the Russians are in a far better position vis-à-vis the United States than Hitler was against Britain and France in 1939.”

The Pentagon and CIA agitprop machine went into high gear: on January 3, 1980, George Wilson of the Washington Post reported that military leaders hoped the invasion would “help cure the Vietnam “never again’ hangover of the American public.” Newsweek said the “Soviet thrust” represented “a severe threat” to US interests: “Control of Afghanistan would put the Russians within 350 miles of the Arabian Sea, the oil lifeline of the West and Japan. Soviet warplanes based in Afghanistan could cut the lifeline at will.” The New York Times endorsed Carter’s call for increased military spending and supported the Cruise and Trident missile programs, “faster research on the MX or some other mobile land missile,” and the creation of a rapid deployment force for Third World intervention, calling the latter an “investment in diplomacy.”

In sum, Afghanistan proved to be a glorious campaign for both the CIA and Defense Department, a dazzling offensive in which waves of credulous and compliant journalists were dispatched to promulgate the ludicrous proposition that the United States was under military threat. By the time Reagan assumed office, he and his CIA director William Casey saw support for their own stepped-up Afghan plan from an unlikely source, the Democrat-controlled Congress, which was pushing to double spending on the war. “It was a windfall [for the Reagan administration],” a congressional staffer told the Washington Post. “They’d faced so much opposition to covert action in Central America and here comes the Congress helping and throwing money at them, putting money their way and they say, ‘Who are we to say no?’ ”

As the CIA increased its backing of the mujahedin (the CIA budget for Afghanistan finally reached $3.2 billion, the most expensive secret operation in its history) a White House member of the president’s Strategic Council on Drug Abuse, David Musto, informed the administration that the decision to arm the mujahedin would misfire: “I told the Council that we were going into Afghanistan to support the opium growers in their rebellion against the Soviets. Shouldn’t we try to avoid what we’d done in Laos? Shouldn’t we try to pay the growers if they will eradicate their opium production? There was silence.”

After issuing this warning, Musto and a colleague on the council, Joyce Lowinson, continued to question US policy, but found their queries blocked by the CIA and the State Department. Frustrated, they then turned to the New York Times op-ed page and wrote, on May 22, 1980:

“We worry about the growing of opium in Afghanistan or Pakistan by rebel tribesmen who apparently are the chief adversaries of the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Are we erring in befriending these tribes as we did in Laos when Air America (chartered by the Central Intelligence Agency) helped transport crude opium from certain tribal areas?”

But Musto and Lowinson met with silence once again, not only from the administration but from the press. It was heresy to question covert intervention in Afghanistan.

Later in 1980, Hoag Levins, a writer for Philadelphia Magazine, interviewed a man he identified as a “high level” law enforcement official in the Carter administration’s Justice Department and quoted him thus:

You have the administration tiptoeing around this like it’s a land mine. The issue of opium and heroin in Afghanistan is explosive … In the State of the Union speech, the president mentioned drug abuse but he was very careful to avoid mentioning Afghanistan, even though Afghanistan is where things are really happening right now … Why aren’t we taking a more critical look at the arms we are now shipping into gangs of drug runners who are obviously going to use them to increase the efficiency of their drug-smuggling operation?”

The DEA was well aware that the mujahedin rebels were deeply involved in the opium trade. The drug agency’s reports in 1980 showed that Afghan rebel incursions from their Pakistan bases into Soviet-held positions were “determined in part by opium planting and harvest seasons.” The numbers were stark and forbidding. Afghan opium production tripled between 1979 and 1982. There was evidence that by 1981 the Afghan heroin producers had captured 60 percent of the heroin market in Western Europe and the United States (these are UN and DEA figures).

In 1971, during the height of the CIA’s involvement in Laos, there were about 500,000 heroin addicts in the United States. By the mid- to late 1970s this total had fallen to 200,000. But in 1981 with the new flood of Afghan heroin and consequent low prices, the heroin addict population rose to 450,000. In New York City in 1979 alone (the year that the flow of arms to the mujahedin began), heroin-related drug deaths increased by 77 percent. The only publicly acknowledged US casualties on the Afghan battlefields were some Black Muslims who journeyed to the Hindu Kush from the United States to fight on the Prophet’s behalf. But the drug casualties inside the US from the secret CIA war, particularly in the inner cities, numbered in the thousands, plus untold social blight and suffering.

Since the seventeenth century opium poppies have been grown in the so-called Golden Crescent, where the highlands of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran all converge. For nearly four centuries this was an internal market. By the 1950s very little opium was produced in either Afghanistan or Pakistan, with perhaps 2,500 acres in these two countries under cultivation. The fertile growing fields of Afghanistan’s Helmand Valley, by the 1980s under intensive opium poppy cultivation, were covered with vineyards, wheat fields and cotton plantations.

In Iran, the situation was markedly different in the early 1950s. The country, dominated by British and US oil companies and intelligence agencies, was producing 600 tons of opium a year and had 1.3 million opium addicts, second only to China where, at the same moment, the western opium imperialists still held sway. Then, in 1953, Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran’s nationalist equivalent of China’s Sun Yat-sen, won elections and immediately moved to suppress the opium trade. Within a few weeks, US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was calling Mossadegh a madman, and Dulles’s brother Allen, head of the CIA, dispatched Kermit Roosevelt to organize a coup against him. In August 1953 Mossadegh was overthrown, the Shah was installed by the CIA, and the oil and opium fields of Iran were once again in friendly hands. Production continued unabated until the assumption of power in 1979 of the Ayatollah Khomeini, at which point Iran had a very serious opium problem in terms of the addiction of its own population. Unlike the mujahedin chieftains, the Ayatollah was a strict constructionist of Islamic law on the matter of intoxicants: addicts and dealers faced the death penalty. Opium production in Iran dropped drastically.

In Afghanistan in the 1950s and 1960s, the relatively sparse opium trade was controlled by the royal family, headed by King Mohammed Zahir, The large feudal estates all had their opium fields, primarily to feed domestic consumption of the drug. In April 1978 a populist coup overthrew the regime of Mohammed Daoud, who had formed an alliance with the Shah of Iran. The Shah had shoveled money in Daoud’s direction – $2 billion on one report – and the Iranian secret police, the Savak, were imported to train Daoud’s internal security force. The new Afghan government was led by Noor Mohammed Taraki. The Taraki administration moved toward land reform, hence an attack on the opium-growing feudal estates. Taraki went to the UN, where he requested and received loans for crop substitution for the poppy fields.

Taraki also pressed hard against opium production in the border areas held by fundamentalists, since the latter were using opium revenues to finance attacks on the Afghan central government, which they regarded as an unwholesome incarnation of modernity that allowed women to go to school and outlawed arranged marriages and the bride price.

By the spring of 1979 the character of Dan Rather’s heroes, the mujahedin, was also beginning to emerge. The Washington Post reported that the mujahedin liked to “torture their victims by first cutting off their noses, ears and genitals, then removing one slice of skin after another.” Over that year the mujahedin evinced particular animosity toward westerners, killing six West Germans and a Canadian tourist and severely beating a US military attaché. It’s also ironic that in that year the mujahedin were getting money not only from the CIA but from Libya’s Moammar Qaddaffi, who sent $250,000 in their direction.

In the summer of 1979, over six months before the Soviets moved in, the US State Department produced a memorandum making clear how it saw the stakes, no matter how modern-minded Taraki might be, or how feudal the mujahedin: “The United States’ larger interest … would be served by the demise of the Taraki-Amin regime, despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.” The report continued, “The overthrow of the DRA [Democratic Republic of Afghanistan] would show the rest of the world, particularly the Third World, that the Soviets’ view of the socialist course of history as being inevitable is not accurate.”

Hard pressed by conservative forces in Afghanistan, Taraki appealed to the Soviets for help, which they declined to furnish on the grounds that this was exactly what their mutual enemies were waiting for.

In September 1979 Taraki was killed in a coup organized by Afghan military officers. Hafizullah Amin was installed as president. He had impeccable western credentials, having been to Columbia University in New York and the University of Wisconsin. Amin had served as the president of the Afghan Students Association, which had been funded by the Asia Foundation, a CIA pass-through group, or front. After the coup Amin began meeting regularly with US Embassy officials at a time when the US was arming Islamic rebels in Pakistan. Fearing a fundamentalist, US-backed regime pressing against its own border, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in force on December 27, 1979.

Then began the Carter-initiated CIA buildup that so worried White House drug expert David Musto. In a replication of what happened following the CIA-backed coup in Iran, the feudal estates were soon back in opium production and the crop-substitution program ended.

Because Pakistan had a nuclear program, the US had a foreign aid ban on the country. This was soon lifted it as the waging of a proxy war in Afghanistan became prime policy. In fairly short order, without any discernible slowdown in its nuclear program, Pakistan became the third largest recipient of US aid worldwide, right behind Israel and Egypt. Arms poured into Karachi from the US and were shipped up to Peshawar by the National Logistics Cell, a military unit controlled by Pakistan’s secret police, the ISI. From Peshawar those guns that weren’t simply sold to any and all customers (the Iranians got 16 Stinger missiles, one of which was used against a US helicopter in the Gulf) were divvied out by the ISI to the Afghan factions.

Though the US press, Dan Rather to the fore, portrayed the mujahedin as a unified force of freedom fighters, the fact (unsurprising to anyone with an inkling of Afghan history) was that the mujahedin consisted of at least seven warring factions, all battling for territory and control of the opium trade. The ISI gave the bulk of the arms – at one count 60 percent – to a particularly fanatical fundamentalist and woman-hater Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who made his public debut at the University of Kabul by killing a leftist student. In 1972 Hekmatyar fled to Pakistan, where he became an agent of the ISI. He urged his followers to throw acid in the faces of women not wearing the veil, kidnapped rival leaders, and built up his CIA-furnished arsenal against the day the Soviets would leave and the war for the mastery of Afghanistan would truly break out.

Using his weapons to get control of the opium fields, Hekmatyar and his men would urge the peasants, at gun point, to increase production. They would collect the raw opium and bring it back to Hekmatyar’s six heroin factories in the town of Koh-i-Soltan

One of Hekmatyar’s chief rivals in the mujahedin, Mullah Nassim, controlled the opium poppy fields in the Helmand Valley, producing 260 tons of opium a year. His brother, Mohammed Rasul, defended this agricultural enterprise by stating, “We must grow and sell opium to fight our holy war against the Russian nonbelievers.” Despite this well-calculated pronouncement, they spent almost all their time fighting their fellow-believers, using the weapons sent them by the CIA to try to win the advantage in these internecine struggles. In 1989 Hekmatyar launched an assault against Nassim, attempting to take control of the Helmand Valley. Nassim fought him off, but a few months later Hekmatyar successfully engineered Nassim’s assassination when he was holding the post of deputy defense minister in the provisional post-Soviet Afghan government. Hekmatyar now controlled opium growing in the Helmand Valley.

American DEA agents were fully apprised of the drug running of the mujahedin in concert with Pakistani intelligence and military leaders. In 1983 the DEA’s congressional liaison, David Melocik, told a congressional committee, “You can say the rebels make their money off the sale of opium. There’s no doubt about it. These rebels keep their cause going through the sale of opium.” But talk about “the cause” depending on drug sales was nonsense at that particular moment. The CIA was paying for everything regardless. The opium revenues were ending up in offshore accounts in the Habib Bank, one of Pakistan’s largest, and in the accounts of BCCI, founded by Agha Hasan Abedi, who began his banking career at Habib. The CIA was simultaneously using BCCI for its own secret transactions.

The DEA had evidence of over forty heroin syndicates operating in Pakistan in the mid-1980s during the Afghan war, and there was evidence of more than 200 heroin labs operating in northwest Pakistan. Even though Islamabad houses one of the largest DEA offices in Asia, no action was ever taken by the DEA agents against any of these operations. An Interpol officer told the journalist Lawrence Lifschultz,

It is very strange that the Americans, with the size of their resources, and political power they possess in Pakistan, have failed to break a single case. The explanation cannot be found in a lack of adequate police work. They have had some excellent men working in Pakistan.”

But working in the same offices as those DEA agents were five CIA officers who, so one of the DEA agents later told the Washington Post, ordered them to pull back their operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan for the duration of the war.

Those DEA agents were well aware of the drug-tainted profile of a firm the CIA was using to funnel cash to the mujahedin, namely Shakarchi Trading Company. This Lebanese-owned company had been the subject of a long-running DEA investigation into money laundering. One of Shakarchi’s chief clients was Yasir Musullulu, who had once been nabbed attempting to deliver an 8.5-ton shipment of Afghan opium to members of the Gambino crime syndicate in New York City. A DEA memo noted that Shakarchi mingled “the currency of heroin, morphine base, and hashish traffickers with that of jewelers buying gold on the black market and Middle Eastern arms traffickers.”

In May 1984 Vice President George Bush journeyed to Pakistan to confer with General Zia al Huq and other ranking members of the Pakistani regime. At the time, Bush was the head of President Reagan’s National Narcotics Border Interdiction System. In this latter function, one of Bush’s first moves was to expand the role of the CIA in drug operations. He gave the Agency primary responsibility in the use of, and control over, drug informants. The operational head of this task force was retired Admiral Daniel J. Murphy.

Murphy pushed for access to intelligence on drug syndicates but complained that the CIA was forever dragging its feet. “I didn’t win,” he said later to the New York Times. “I didn’t get as much effective participation from the CIA as I wanted.” Another member of the task force put it more bluntly, “The CIA could be of value, but you need a change of values and attitude. I don’t know of a single thing they’ve ever given us that was useful.”

Bush certainly knew well that Pakistan had become the source for most of the high-grade heroin entering Western Europe and the United States and that the generals with whom he was consorting were deeply involved in the drug trade. But the vice president, who proclaimed later that “I will never bargain with drug dealers on US or foreign soil,” used his journey to Pakistan to praise the Zia regime for its unflinching support for the War on Drugs. (Amid such rhetorical excursions he did find time, it has to be said, to extract from Zia a contract to buy $40 million worth of gas turbines made by the General Electric Co.)

Predictably, through the 1980s the Reagan and Bush administrations went to great lengths to pin the blame for the upswing in Pakistani heroin production on the Soviet generals in Kabul. “The regime maintains an absolute indifference to any measures to control poppy,” Reagan’s attorney general Edwin Meese declared during a visit to Islamabad in March 1986. “We strongly believe that there is actually encouragement, at least tacitly, over growing opium poppy.”

Meese knew better. His own Justice Department had been tracking the import of drugs from Pakistan since at least 1982 and was well aware that the trade was controlled by Afghan rebels and the Pakistani military. A few months after Meese’s speech in Pakistan, the US Customs Office nabbed a Pakistani man named Abdul Wali as he tried to unload more than a ton of hash and a smaller amount of heroin into the United States at Port Newark, New Jersey. The Justice Department informed the press that Wali headed a 50,000-member organization in northwest Pakistan – but Deputy Attorney General Claudia Flynn refused to reveal the group’s identity. Another federal official told the Associated Press that Wali was a top leader of the mujahedin.

It was also known to US officials that people on intimate terms with President Zia were making fortunes in the opium trade. The word “fortune” here is no exaggeration, since one such Zia associate had $3 billion in his BCCI accounts. In 1983, a year before George Bush’s visit to Pakistan, one of President Zia’s doctors, a Japanese herbalist named Hisayoshi Maruyama was arrested in Amsterdam packing 17.5 kilos of high-grade heroin manufactured in Pakistan out of Afghan opium. At the time of his arrest he was disguised as a boy scout.

Interrogated by DEA agents after his arrest, Maruyama said that he was just a courier for Mirza Iqbal Baig, a man whom Pakistani customs agents described as “the most active dope dealer in the country.” Baig was on close terms with the Zia family and other ranking officials in the government. He had twice been a target of the DEA, whose agents were told not to pursue investigations of him because of his ties to the Zia government. A top Pakistani lawyer, Said Sani Ahmed, told the BBC that this was standard procedure in Pakistan: “We may have evidence against a particular individual, but still our law-enforcing agencies cannot lay hands on such people, because they are forbidden to act by their superiors. The real culprits have enough money and resources. Frankly, they are enjoying some sort of immunity.”

Baig was one of the tycoons of the Pakistani city of Lahore, owning cinemas, shopping centers, factories and a textile mill. He wasn’t indicted on drug charges until 1992, after the fall of the Zia regime, when a US federal court in Brooklyn indicted him for heroin trafficking. The US finally exerted enough pressure on Pakistan to have him arrested in 1993; as of the spring of 1998 he was in prison in Pakistan.

One of Baig’s partners (as described in Newsweek) in his drug business was Haji Ayub Afridi, a close ally of President Zia, who had served in the Pakistani General Assembly. Afridi lives thirty-five miles outside Peshawar in a large compound sealed off by 20-foot-high walls topped with concertina-wire and with defenses including an anti-aircraft battery and a private army of tribesmen. Afridi was said to be in charge of purchasing raw opium from the Afghan drug lords, while Baig looked after logistics and shipping to Europe and the United States. In 1993 Afridi was alleged to have put out a contract on the life of a DEA agent working in Pakistan.

Another case close to the Zia government involved the arrest on drug charges of Hamid Hasnain, the vice president of Pakistan’s largest financial house, the Habib Bank. Hasnain’s arrest became the centerpiece of a scandal known as the “Pakistani League affair.” The drug ring was investigated by a dogged Norwegian investigator named Olyvind Olsen. On December 13, 1983 Norwegian police seized 3.5 kilos of heroin at Oslo airport in the luggage of a Pakistani named Raza Qureishi. In exchange for a reduced sentence Qureishi agreed to name his suppliers to Olsen, the narcotics investigator. Shortly after his interview with Qureishi, Olsen flew to Islamabad to ferret out the other members of the heroin syndicate. For more than a year Olsen pressured Pakistan’s Federal Investigate Agency (FIA) to arrest the three men Qureishi had fingered: Tahir Butt, Munawaar Hussain, and Hasnain. All were associates of Baig and Zia. It wasn’t until Olsen threatened to publicly condemn the FIA’s conduct that the Agency took any action: finally, on October 25, 1985 the FIA arrested the three men. When the Pakistani agents picked up Hasnain they were assailed with a barrage of threats. Hasnain spoke of “dire consequences” and claimed to be “like a son” to President Zia. Inside Hasnain’s suitcase FIA agents discovered records of the ample bank accounts of President Zia plus those of Zia’s wife and daughter.

Immediately after learning of Hasnain’s arrest, Zia’s wife, who was in Egypt at the time, telephoned the head of the FIA. The president’s wife imperiously demanded the release of her family’s “personal banker.” It turned out that Hasnain not only attended to the secret financial affairs of the presidential family, but also of the senior Pakistani generals, who were skimming money off the arms imports from the CIA and making millions from the opium traffic. A few days after his wife’s call, President Zia himself was on the phone to the FIA, demanding that the investigators explain the circumstances surrounding Hasnain’s arrest. Zia soon arranged for Hasnain to be released on bail pending trial. When Qureishi, the courier, took the stand to testify against Hasnain, the banker and his co-defendant hurled death threats against the witness in open court, prompting a protest from the Norwegian investigator, who threatened to withdraw from the proceedings.

Eventually the judge in the case clamped down, revoking Hasnain’s bail and handing him a stiff prison term after his conviction. But Hasnain was just a relatively small fish who went to prison while guilty generals went free.

“He’s been made a scapegoat,” Munir Bhatti told journalist Lawrence Lifschultz.

“The CIA spoiled the case. The evidence was distorted. There was no justification in letting off the actual culprits who include senior personalities in this country. There was evidence in this case identifying such people.”

Such were the men to whom the CIA was paying $3.2 billion a year to run the Afghan war, and no person better epitomizes this relationship than Lieutenant General Fazle Huq, who oversaw military operations in northwest Pakistan for General Zia, including the arming of the mujahedin who were using the region as a staging area for their raids. It was Huq who ensured that his ally Hekmatyar received the bulk of the CIA arms shipments, and it was also Huq who oversaw and protected the operations of the 200 heroin labs within his jurisdiction. Huq had been identified in 1982 by Interpol as a key player in the Afghan-Pakistani opium trade. The Pakistani opposition leaders referred to Huq as Pakistani’s Noriega. He had been protected from drug investigations by Zia and the CIA and later boasted that with these connections he could get away “with blue murder.”

Like other narco-generals in the Zia regime, Huq was also on close terms with Agha Hassan Abedi, the head of the BCCI. Abedi, Huq and Zia would dine together nearly every month, and conferred several times with Reagan’s CIA director William Casey. Huq had a BCCI account worth $3 million. After Zia was assassinated in 1988 by a bomb planted (probably by senior military officers) in his presidential plane, Huq lost some of his official protection, and he was soon arrested for ordering the murder of a Shi’ite cleric.

After Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was deposed, her replacement Ishaq Khan swiftly released Huq from prison. In 1991 Huq was shot to death, probably in revenge for the cleric’s death. The opium general was given a state funeral, where he was eulogized by Ishaq Khan as “a great soldier and competent administrator who played a commendable role in Pakistan’s national progress.”

Benazir Bhutto had swept to power in 1988 amid fierce vows to clean up Pakistan’s drug-sodden corruption, but it wasn’t long “before her own regime became the focus of serious charges. In 1989 the US Drug Enforcement Agency came across information that Benazir’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, may have been financing large shipments of heroin from Pakistan to Great Britain and the United States. The DEA assigned one of its agents, a man named John Banks, to work undercover in Pakistan. Banks was a former British mercenary who had worked undercover for Scotland Yard in big international drug cases.

While in Pakistan, Banks claims he posed as a member of the Mafia and that he had met with Bhutto and her husband at their home in Sind. Banks further claims that he traveled with Zadari to Islamabad, where he secretly recorded five hours of conversation between Zadari, a Pakistani air force general and a Pakistani banker. The men discussed the logistics of transporting heroin to the US and to Britain: “We talked about how they were going to ship the drugs to America in a metal cutter,” Banks said in 1996. “They told me that the United Kingdom was another area where they had shipped heroin and hashish on a regular basis.” The British Customs Office had also been monitoring Zadari for dope running: “We received intelligence from about three or four sources, about his alleged involvement as a financier,” a retired British customs officer told the Financial Times. “This was all reported to British intelligence.” The customs official says his government failed to act on this report. Similarly, Banks asserts that the CIA halted the DEA’s investigation of Zardari. All this emerged when Bhutto’s government fell for the second time, in 1996, on charges of corruption lodged primarily against Zardari, who is now in prison for his role in the murder of his brother-in-law Murtaza. Zardari also stands accused of embezzling more than $1 billion in government funds.”

In 1991 Nawz Sharif says that while he served as prime minister he was approached by two Pakistani generals – Aslam Beg, chief of staff for the army, and Asad Durrani, head of the ISI – with a plan to fund dozens of covert operations through the sale of heroin. “General Durrani told me, ‘We have a blueprint ready for your approval,’ Sharif explained to Washington Post reporter John Ward Anderson in 1994. “I was totally flabbergasted. Both Beg and Durrani insisted that Pakistan’s name would not be cited at any place because the whole operation would be carried out by trustworthy third parties. Durrani then went on to list a series of covert military operations in desperate need of money.” Sharif said that he rejected the plan, but believes it was put in place when Bhutto resumed power.

The impact of the Afghan war on Pakistan’s addiction rates was even more drastic than the surge in heroin addiction in the US and Europe. Before the CIA program began, there were fewer than 5,000 heroin addicts in Pakistan. By 1996, according to the United Nations, there were more than 1.6 million. The Pakistani representative to the UN Commission on Narcotics, Raoolf Ali Khan, said in 1993 that “there is no branch of government where drug corruption doesn’t pervade.” As an example he pointed to the fact that Pakistan spends only $1.8 million a year on anti-drug efforts, with an allotment of $1,000 to purchase gasoline for its seven trucks.

By 1994 the value of the heroin trade in Pakistan was twice the amount of the government’s budget. A Western diplomat told the Washington Post in that year that “when you get to the stage where narco-traffickers have more money than the government it’s going to take remarkable efforts and remarkable people to turn it around.” The magnitude of commitment required is illustrated by two episodes. In 1991 the largest drug bust in world history occurred on the road from Peshawar to Karachi. Pakistani customs officers seized 3.5 tons of heroin and 44 tons of hashish. Several days later half the hashish and heroin had vanished along with the witnesses. The suspects, four men with ties to Pakistani intelligence, had “mysteriously escaped,” to use the words of a Pakistani customs officer. In 1993 Pakistani border guards seized 8 tons of hashish and 1.7 tons of heroin. When the case was turned over to the Pakistani narcotics control board, the entire staff went on vacation to avoid being involved in the investigation. No one was disciplined or otherwise inconvenienced and the narco-traffickers got off scot free. Even the CIA was eventually forced to admit in a 1994 report to Congress that heroin had become the “life blood of the Pakistani economy and political system.”

In February 1989 Mikhail Gorbachev pulled the Soviet troops out of Afghanistan, and asked the US to agree to an embargo on the provision of weapons to any of the Afghan mujahedin factions, who were preparing for another phase of internecine war for control of the country. President Bush refused, thus ensuring a period of continued misery and horror for most Afghans. The war had already turned half the population into refugees, and seen 3 million wounded and more than a million killed. The proclivities of the mujahedin at this point are illustrated by a couple of anecdotes. The Kabul correspondent of the Far Eastern Economic Review reported in 1989 the mujahedin’s treatment of Soviet prisoners: “One group was killed, skinned and hung up in a butcher’s shop. One captive found himself the center of attraction in a game of buzkashi, that rough-and-tumble form of Afghan polo in which a headless goat is usually the ball. The captive was used instead. Alive. He was literally torn to pieces.” The CIA also had evidence that its freedom fighters had doped up more than 200 Soviet soldiers with heroin and locked them in animal cages where, the Washington Post reported in 1990, they led “lives of indescribable horror.”

In September 1996 the Taliban, fundamentalists nurtured originally in Pakistan as creatures of both the ISI and the CIA, seized power in Kabul, whereupon Mullah Omar, their leader, announced that all laws inconsistent with the Muslim Sharia would be changed. Women would be forced to assume the chador and remain at home, with total segregation of the sexes and women kept out of hospitals, schools and public bathrooms. The CIA continued to support these medieval fanatics who, according to Emma Bonino, the European Union’s commissioner for humanitarian affairs, were committing “gender genocide.”

One law at odds with the Sharia that the Taliban had no apparent interest in changing was the prophet’s injunction against intoxicants. In fact, the Taliban urged its Afghan farmers to increase their production of opium.

One of the Taliban leaders, the “drug czar” Abdul Rashid, noted, “If we try to stop this [opium farming] the people will be against us.”

By the end 1996, according to the UN, Afghan opium production had reached 2,000 metric tons. There were an estimated 200,000 families in Afghanistan working in the opium trade. The Taliban were in control of the 96 percent of all Afghan land in opium cultivation and imposed a tax on opium production and a road toll on trucks carrying the crop.

In 1997 an Afghan opium farmer gave an ironic reply to Jimmy Carter’s brooding on whether to use nuclear weapons as part of a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Amhud Gul told a reporter from the Washington Post, “We are cultivating this [that is, opium] and exporting this as an atom bomb.”

CIA intervention had worked its magic once again. By 1994, Afghanistan, according to the UN drug control program had surpassed Burma as the world’s number one supplier of raw opium.

*  *  *

Note: This story was more than two years in the making. I started reporting it in 1995 for the premier issue of a Portland-based magazine called Serpent’s Tooth: Reporting the Drug War, which was meant to be a cross between Ramparts and Paul Krassner’s The Realist, with plenty of sex ads to pay the bills. In fact, Krassner also wrote a scathingly funny piece for that issue, some ribald tale involving three of his favorite subjects: Bill Clinton, LSD and the virtues of masturbation. Alas, a few weeks before the magazine was ready to go to press, the trust-fund publisher pulled the plug on the entire venture after getting into a brawl with the editorial collective. In my experience, any time there’s an “editorial collective” in charge, the publication is destined for a ventilator, especially when cocaine is involved. So, after spending more than a year working on my big piece on the Afghan war and the opium trade, it was orphaned. Portions of the story later appeared in CounterPunch, the Anderson Valley Advertiser and the Twin Cities weekly, City Pages. And a version of it ended up as a chapter in our book Whiteout: the CIA, Drugs and the Press.

Published:7/10/2020 11:02:50 PM
[Markets] Lifestyles Of The Mega-Rich & Fearful: Inside The Luxury Apocalypse Bunker Lifestyles Of The Mega-Rich & Fearful: Inside The Luxury Apocalypse Bunker Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 23:25

When it comes to doomsday bunkers - we might have found the 'Cadillac' of underground shelters for the superrich to ride out the virus pandemic and social-economic implosion of America. 

It's called the Survival Condo, buried 200 feet underground in the middle of rural Kansas, several hundred miles from Kansas City, is a newly outfitted Cold War nuclear silo that houses underground condos that can survive a 12-kiloton nuclear warhead. 

Condos start at $1 million, plus an extra $2,500 per month condo fee to cover expenses in the bunker, such as food, ammo, electricity, and internet connectivity. 

CNET spoke with Larry Hall, the owner of the Survival Condo, who said the bunker is 15 floors and buried 200 feet underground. 

"Beneath the dome, the cylindrical silo houses a further 14 floors -- the top three floors are where you'll find the mechanical rooms, medical facilities and a food store (complete with a full hydroponics and aquaculture setup), followed beneath by seven levels of residential condos. At the bottom, the final four floors house the classroom and library, a cinema and bar, and a workout room (with a sauna)," CNET said.

 Survival Condo's website lists the facilities top features:

  • Elevator & Stairwell Access throughout the facility.
  • Over 20,000 square foot of floor space in the monolithic dome.
  • Redundant electric sources.
  • Redundant water supply with minimum of 75,000 gallon reserve tanks.
  • Redundant air filtration including Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) filtration.
  • Organic hydroponic and aquaculture food production.
  • General Store.
  • Indoor Pool & Spa, and a complete workout facility.
  • Custom theater.
  • Custom Bar & Lounge.
  • Library & Classroom.
  • Command & Control Center.
  • Medical First Aid Center.
  • Communication Center complete with on-site Internet subset access.
  • Digital weather station.

The facility has a maximum occupancy of 75 people that can survive for about five years. Here are some of the condo features:

  • Full-Floor layout is approximately 1,820 square feet of living space.
  • Half-Floor layout is approximately 900 square feet of living space.
  • Maximum occupancy for full & half floor layouts are 10 and 5 respectively.
  • Full kitchens with High-end stainless appliances.
  • Full Spectrum LED lighting throughout.
  • Kohler fixtures throughout.
  • 50-inch LED TV and home automation system with remote off-site access.
  • Biometric Keyless access.
  • Each unit is fully furnished and professionally decorated.
  • Each unit comes with a five-year food reserve per person.
  • Washer and dryer in each unit.

There's also a shooting range and pool to keep occupants trained for the apocalypse. 

The smallest unit costs around $1 million, with the largest about $3 million. Condos are predominantly owned by wealthy elites: 

"All of our people are self-made millionaires," Hall said. "They're very successful: doctors, engineers, lawyers, international business people... almost all of them have children. And they're concerned about the 'what if' scenario." 

Video: Inside the doomsday bunker 

Somewhere in rural Kansas - millionaires have a luxury bunker where they can ride out the socio-economic implosion of America. Can even withstand a nuclear blast if the president decides to go to war with China. After all, President Trump didn't spend trillions of dollars on the military to look at shiny new hypersonic missiles and fifth-generation fighters at future parades in Washington, D.C. The rich are preparing for the end game - the world has already entered a period of chaos that could persist through the 2020s. 

Published:7/10/2020 10:33:30 PM
[Markets] Kim's Sister Rules Out Further Talks With Trump, Vows Peace As Long As "U.S. Doesn't Touch Us" Kim's Sister Rules Out Further Talks With Trump, Vows Peace As Long As "U.S. Doesn't Touch Us" Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 22:45

It appears the world will not witness any kind of breakthrough Trump-Kim meeting by the end of Trump's first term in office, given that on Friday Kim Jong Un's increasingly powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, had some specific words on the matter.

She said a new Trump-Kim summit is “unlikely” to happen this year but left a remote door open, suggesting “a surprise thing may still happen.”

While this is hardly a surprise given stalled nuclear talks since the end of last year - hopes for any resumption which has since been completely dashed - what is new is her assertion that there will be peace as long as the US “don’t touch us and hurt us, everything will flow as is.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong, via Reuters.

The comments carried by KCNA news agency are a huge change in tune when compared to her coming close to threatening all-out war against the South a month ago.

Pyongyang had ordered a military build-up along the DMZ ostensibly in response to South Korean activists floating 'propaganda balloons' across the border, urging citizens in the North to defect.

Kim Yo Jong said Friday:

“We would like to make it clear that it does not necessarily mean the denuclearisation is not possible,” and added: “But what we mean is that it is not possible at this point of time.”

She emphasized that the US must change its stance and tone toward Pyongyang if Washington hopes for a future breakthrough.

“We do not have the slightest intention to pose a threat to the U.S.... Everything will go smoothly if they leave us alone and make no provocation on us,” she said.

The historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018, via AFP.

Recent rising North-South tensions have been attributed by many analysts to Seoul's failed to materialize assurances that Washington would ease sanctions as part of denuclearization talks. This has further appeared an opportunity for Kim's increasingly visible and powerful sister to flex her authority over the military and next in line to rule. 

In these newest comments she also interestingly mentioned watching footage of July 4th celebrations in America

Bloomberg reports that she expressed curiosity over how the United States celebrates its Independence Day. Bloomberg describes that:

...she received permission from her brother to obtain the DVDs of what she called the “celebratory events” of last week. “I’m trying to personally obtain DVDs on U.S. Independence Day events from now on, and I’ve also gotten approval from the chairman for that,” she said, adding that she’s already watched news reports of the celebrations.

She also expressed good wishes to President Trump, but said the time isn’t right to meet. 

Perhaps this somewhat odd aside regarding the DVDs is meant to spur another 'letter writing type opening' from Trump? Perhaps a "July 4th care package" might be in the works? 

Published:7/10/2020 10:02:12 PM
[Markets] "Defund The Police" Just Means "I'm Rich & White" "Defund The Police" Just Means "I'm Rich & White" Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 22:25

Authored by Karol Markowicz via Spectator,

Wealthy white liberals don't suffer the consequences of their fringe ideologies...

Walk along the leafy streets of any neighborhood in so-called ‘brownstone Brooklyn’, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights, and you’ll see ‘Defund the Police’ in many a home window.

Owners of $3 million dollar brownstones proudly proclaim their agreement with a fringe policy, designed to remove resources from police squads, as a solution to police violence. How exactly less funding for police will result in better policing is unclear, but virtue signaling of the kind that has rich people pushing for fewer resources for poor people doesn’t get tangled up in the details.

The details are specifically grim.

The New York Post reported on Monday that ‘between Monday, June 29, and Sunday, July 5, the city saw 74 shooting incidents with 101 victims’. Those numbers are more than tripled from the same period in 2019.

But the city is largely not gripped in terror. The rise in homelessness and general lawlessness had been a frequent topic of conversation over the last year. The shootings are contained to only a few neighborhoods and the pain is not spread evenly among the residents of the city. And the left has to mostly ignore the crime rate lest their ‘Defund the Police’ pledge starts to look like cruelty.

The issue, of course, is that these shootings are largely happening in majority-black neighborhoods around the five boroughs. Brownsville, Brooklyn has been hit particularly hard. Upper Manhattan. Harlem. Dozens shot, many dead. No shootings have taken place in Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights. The position ‘Defund the Police’ can easily be shorthand for ‘I’m rich’.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio blames the violence on coronavirus and pent up rage.

He’s not wrong, exactly - our continued lockdown is exacerbating the situation - but he’s also ignoring the elephant in the room. The sustained attack on police leads to a force unable to do its job.

People feel unsafe as a result, and that feeling leads to ever more violence. It’s a lesson New York City has learned before. It’s too bad it has to learn it all over again.

If these shootings were happening in the neighborhoods with the ‘Defund the Police’ signs in their windows, they would quickly be replaced with ‘Triple the Police’, and everybody knows it.

But as long as the violence is confined to mostly black areas, rich white liberals are happy to go along with leftist policy goals that don’t affect them. ‘Black Lives Matter’, their signs say. But not always.

Published:7/10/2020 9:31:43 PM
[Markets] Matt Taibbi: "It Was Like Watching Bruce Springsteen And Dionne Warwick Be Pelted With Dogshit For Singing We Are the World" Matt Taibbi: "It Was Like Watching Bruce Springsteen And Dionne Warwick Be Pelted With Dogshit For Singing We Are the World" Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 21:45

Authored by Matt Taibbi

As excerpted from "If it’s Not “Cancel Culture,” What Kind of Culture is it?"

Any attempt to build bridges between the two mindsets falls apart, often spectacularly, as we saw this week in an online fight over free speech that could not possibly have been more comic in its unraveling.

A group of high-profile writers and thinkers, including Pinker, Noam Chomsky, Wynton Marsalis, Salman Rushdie, Gloria Steinem and Anne Appelbaum, signed a letter in Harper’s calling for an end to callouts and cancelations.

“We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom,” the authors wrote, adding, “We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences.”

This Hallmark-card-level inoffensive sentiment naturally inspired peals of outrage across the Internet, mainly directed at a handful of signatories deemed hypocrites for having called for the firings of various persons before.

Then a few signatories withdrew their names when they found out that they would be sharing space on the letterhead with people they disliked.

“I thought I was endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming. I did know Chomsky, Steinem, and Atwood were in, and I thought, good company,” tweeted Jennifer Finney Boylan, adding, “The consequences are mine to bear. I am so sorry.”

Translation: I had no idea my group statement against intellectual monoculture would be signed by people with different views!

In the predictable next development – no dialogue between American intellectuals is complete these days without someone complaining to the boss – Vox writer Emily VanDerWerff declared herself literally threatened by co-worker Matt Yglesias’s decision to sign the statement. The public as well as Vox editors were told:

The letter, signed as it is by several prominent anti-trans voices and containing as many dog whistles towards anti-trans positions as it does, ideally would not have been signed by anybody at Vox… His signature on the letter makes me feel less safe.

Naturally, this declaration impelled Vox co-founder Ezra Klein to take VanDerWerff’s side and publicly denounce the Harper’s letter as a status-defending con.

“A lot of debates that sell themselves as being about free speech are actually about power,” tweeted Klein, clearly referencing his old pal Yglesias. “And there’s a lot of power in being able to claim, and hold, the mantle of free speech defender.” 

This Marxian denunciation of the defense of free speech as cynical capitalist ruse was brought to you by the same Ezra Klein who once worked with Yglesias to help Vox raise $300 million. This was just one of many weirdly petty storylines. Writer Thomas Chatterton Williams, who organized the letter, found himself described as a “mixed race man heavily invested in respectability politics,” once he defended the letter, one of many transparent insults directed toward the letter’s nonwhite signatories by ostensible antiracist voices.

The whole episode was nuts. It was like watching Bruce Springsteen and Dionne Warwick be pelted with dogshit for trying to sing We Are the World.

This being America in the Trump era, where the only art form to enjoy wide acceptance is the verbose monograph written in condemnation of the obvious, the Harper’s fiasco inspired multiple entries in the vast literature decrying the rumored existence of “cancel culture.” The two most common themes of such essays are a) the illiberal left is a Trumpian myth, and b) if the illiberal left does exist, it’s a good thing because all of those people they’re smearing/getting fired deserved it.

In this conception there’s nothing to worry about when a Dean of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell is dismissed for writing “Black Lives Matter, but also, everyone’s life matters” in an email, or when an Indiana University Medical School professor has to apologize for asking students how they would treat a patient who says ‘I can’t breathe!’ in a clinical setting, or when someone is fired for retweeting a study suggesting nonviolent protest is effective. The people affected are always eventually judged to be “bad,” or to have promoted “bad research,” or guilty of making “bad arguments,” etc.

In this case, Current Affairs hastened to remind us that the people signing the Harper’s letter were many varieties of bad! They included Questioners of Politically Correct Culture like “Pinker, Jesse Singal, Zaid Jilani, John McWhorter, Nicholas A. Christakis, Caitlin Flanagan, Jonathan Haidt, and Bari Weiss,” as well as “chess champion and proponent of the bizarre conspiracy theory that the Middle Ages did not happen, Garry Kasparov,” and “right wing blowhards known for being wrong about everything” in David Frum and Francis Fukuyama, as well as – this is my favorite line – “problematic novelists Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, and J.K. Rowling.”

Where on the irony-o-meter does one rate an essay that decries the “right-wing myth” of cancel culture by mass-denouncing a gymnasium full of intellectuals as problematic? 

Continued reading on Matt Taibbi's Substack

Published:7/10/2020 9:01:52 PM
[Markets] The Biden-Sanders climate-change policy pact: 8 key features Presidential candidate Joe Biden has advanced environmental policy recommendations that most analysts find more ambitious than his stance in favor of curbing man-made climate change earlier in his campaign.
Published:7/10/2020 9:01:52 PM
[Markets] Washington Town Resorts To Printing Wooden Currency To Boost COVID Stimulus Spending Washington Town Resorts To Printing Wooden Currency To Boost COVID Stimulus Spending Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 21:25

The last time this small town in Washington State printed local dollars out of wood was in the Great Depression. Now, the town of Tenino, a community of fewer than 2,000 people near Seattle, has fired up the printing presses after 90 years to fight the virus-induced downturn that has decimated the region. 

Tenino residents who can prove economic hardships caused by the virus pandemic are eligible for $300 per month in wooden dollars, subsidized by the local government grant program. So far, the city printed $10,000 of local currency for residents to only be used at businesses in city limits.

Tenino wood dollar 

The currency is not made of cotton/linen material or 0s or 1s on the blockchain - but rather, wood, as this is the latest example of the rise of "micro currencies" in local communities. 

Tenino Mayor Wayne Fournier told The Hustle the wood coins were used during the pandemic to bring back consumption that crashed. 

"We were talking about grants for business, microloans, trying to team up with a bunch of different banks," Fournier said. "The big concern was, 'How do we directly help families and individuals?"

Resident using wood dollar 

And then it dawned on him: "Why not start our currency?"

The plan came together fast. Fournier decided that Tenino would set aside $10k to give out to low-income residents hurt by the pandemic. But instead of using federal dollars, he'd print the money on thin sheets of wood designed exclusively for use in Tenino. His mint? A 130-year-old newspaper printer from a local museum.

Tenino printing press  

Fournier's central idea is pulled straight from Tenino's history. During the Great Depression, the city printed sets of wooden dollars using that exact same 1890 newspaper printer. Within a year, the wooden currency had helped bring the economy back from the dead.

By reinstating the old currency now, Fournier has accidentally become part of a much bigger movement. With businesses worried about keeping the lights on and people scrambling to find spending money, communities have struggled to keep their local economies afloat.

So they've revived an old strategy: When in doubt, print your own money.  - The Hustle 

Not too long ago, we noted a small southern Italian town of Castellino del Biferno, printed their local currency to support the local economy during the pandemic. 

Amid the current recession, bartering has been booming - it was noted back in April that online bartering sites saw a rapid surge in traffic.

And what does this all mean? Well, the Federal Reserve is not in the businesses of saving small communities - they're in the business of stabilizing too-big-to-fail banks and Wall Street hedge funds - which means in a post-corona world, the emergence of local currencies could be coming to a small community near you. 

Google search trend for "microcurrencies" has erupted in recent months. 

Fed up with the status quo? Launch a local micro currency in your small town. 

Published:7/10/2020 8:39:55 PM
[Markets] China Passenger Car Sales Slump 6.5% In June After Dead Cat Bounce In May China Passenger Car Sales Slump 6.5% In June After Dead Cat Bounce In May Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 20:45

Despite endless government incentives and a faux-V-shaped recovery, reality once again seems to be sinking in for China's auto market.

Beijing announced today that the country had sold 1.68 million units in June, according to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA). This marks a 6.5% year over year drop despite May's dead cat bounce, where numbers rose 1.9% from the year prior, mostly due to easy comps. 

The association called the number proof of a "continuing recovery" in the passenger car market, according to Reuters

As was the case in May, luxury automakers outpaced the market while sales of NEV vehicles reached 85,600. Tesla accounted for 23% of the pure battery EV sector in the month and CPCA Secretary-General Cui Dongshu said he expects EV sales to outperform in the second half of 2020. 

These numbers won't come as too big of a surprise for Zero Hedge readers. We noted days ago that sales numbers coming out of June looked as though it would be another slumping month for China. Just days ago, the CPCA said that retail car sales were down 37% YOY for the 4th week of June.

Average daily sales were down to 51,627 during June 22-27, which marked a 6% sequential fall from the same week in May, indicating little respite or improvement from the pressure of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry. PCA blamed "seasonal factors" for the drop, which is a funny way to say "Chinese-borne virus ravaging the entire planet". 

We said days ago:

"This also paints an ugly picture for June's new car sales number, since we reported about 3 weeks ago that the first week in June was also off to an ugly start. In that article, we noted that retail car sales fell 10% year over year - but more importantly 20% from the same period in May - in the first week of June."

This news comes despite better than expected results in May, where sales showed a 12% increase year over year. 

According to The Detroit Bureau, premium and luxury passenger car retail sales led the charge in May, rising 28% last month compared with year-ago results. Luxury vehicles maintained their strength in June.

 

The Chinese government continues to try to spur demand with new policies aimed at enticing buyers. 

Recall, we have recently noted that U.S. auto manufacturers are also teeing up sizeable incentives to get buyers back into showrooms. Europe is following suit, with Volkswagen starting a sales initiative to revive demand, including improved leasing and financing terms. 

Outlook for the year in China remains less-than-optimistic. The CAAM predicts that sales will drop 15% to 25% for the year, depending on whether or not the country is able to further slow the spread of the virus.

    Published:7/10/2020 8:01:29 PM
    [Markets] President Trump commutes longtime ally Roger Stone's prison sentence President Trump commutes longtime ally Roger Stone's prison sentence Published:7/10/2020 7:32:32 PM
    [Markets] Here's What 75 Preppers Learned During The Lockdown Here's What 75 Preppers Learned During The Lockdown Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 20:25

    Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

    The lockdown that recently took place due to the pandemic was like a practice run for a bigger SHTF event. Many of our prepper theories played out and were accurate, while others weren’t as realistic as we thought beforehand.

    People who weren’t preppers already learned a lot about why they would want to be better prepared in the future, but they weren’t the only ones who learned lessons. These preppers took a moment to answer questions about the lessons they learned during the lockdown. (Here’s an article about the things I learned.)

    What did you learn about preparedness during the lockdown?

    Trisha…

    I learned two main things. First, I was very surprised at how strongly the isolation hit me. I am a person who is “energized” by interacting with other people. I knew that already, but I was shocked at how MUCH it affected me. Second, I got a taste of normalcy bias. I kept trying to see ways in which our situation was still “Normal”. As a school teacher of little ones for thirty years, I was pretty much used to switching into action immediately to deal with a crisis and putting my feelings on the back burner. So, I was shocked that it took me a couple of months to “accept” the changes in our lives and start looking for creative ways to make life work and meet our needs.

    Maria…

    I learned it is so important to pay attention to what’s going on and stay ahead of the crowd. My husband and I were able to stock up two weeks before everyone else panicked. I also learned my plan of being stocked up and shopping only for replacements is a great system. For example I have 3 jars of mayo on the shelf, when I open one I put it on the list to purchase next time and replenish. Same with Costco TP. Every time I shop there I grab one package. We didn’t even go through half our stock pile and I was able to leave it for those who really needed it. I also learned to listen to your instincts, inner voice, the spirit, God or whatever you call it. I listened every time and we have made it through very comfortably. Also, look for opportunities to help others prepare. I have gotten several people to prepare seriously because of staying ahead of everyone else. I couldn’t have done what I did with[out] Daisy and her spot on articles. Like I said earlier, they kept me two weeks ahead of the crowd.

    Angela…

    That individuals mental state can be intrusive to yours. For me-it preteen having her 1st period.

    Annabel…

    That things happen really fast. If you act when things happen it is too late. Act now.

    Judith…

    That prepping is far more than one type of crisis. Organization of preps is vitally important ( I am still not where I need to be). Having a list of recipes and items needed helps with how and what to shop for. Alternative sources for cooking, cleaning etc. are important.

    Angela…

    Being in a lockdown during the spring was great. House was cool and could bake. Once it got hot, there was no baking. Need to learn to bake more via the fire, not just cook.

    Maya…

    I had anticipated shortages like food, soap, TP, and PPEs, but I underestimated how short in supply durable consumer goods would be – like the fact that freezers would pretty much become extinct, all gardening supplies, etc. Luckily, I had stockpiled seeds (although this year I brought veggie starts because everything started late this year.) It took until June to get the raised bed kits (industrial area, it’s not safe to grow anything you want to eat in the ground). Canning jars have also become in short supply. I anticipated has shortages, which did not take place – in fact, gas became dirt cheap with nobody able to go anywhere. I did fail to anticipate that the border would be closed for half a year! Living in a border city, I tend to rely on the much cheaper US prices for many things. I really should not have put off dentist and eye appointments, or a haircut! I will get that attended to before the next wave of contamination and lock-downs. I am working now on beefing up food growing and preserving supplies. Desiccants, oxygen absorbers, Mylar bags, food grade buckets, canning lids, canning jars, and food saver bags are all likely to become harder to obtain as food prices rise and more people become aware of how to grow and preserve foods. I am also stocking up on organic fertilizers and indoor growing options. And sprouting seeds – I think I have at least 2 years’ worth of those.

    Tarra…

    Baby items. We have a brand-new great grandchild born on the 4th and an 8-month-old granddaughter. I have always kept some things for when they are here, or the kids need help. We learned when it first hit that formula and diapers go quick.

    Lynda…

    Realized we ATE way more than I thought we would and more than normal, I think. Also, it’s easy to slip into an [depressive] state even when you aren’t prone to depression.

    Chelsea…

    I was truly surprised at how fast everything happened. I learned that people get really angry and do things that defy logic when they are panicking. I remember I kept thinking, “if they do this over hand sanitizer and toilet paper, how crazy are they going to be when it’s food!”. I learned that my preparations allowed me some measure of peace and calm that others didn’t have. It allowed me to enjoy family time at home. I was surprised by how information changed daily. You really didn’t know who or what info to trust. I had to be vigilant in reading sources and reasoning. I learned that people are generally idiots and very selfish. As much as we want to believe people will rise up for the greater good, many won’t. But also, there were many beautiful people out there willing to help anyone who felt scared going to the store. I didn’t see many holes because I truly planned ahead and made trips to the store when needed. I was surprised how quickly people lost their jobs and businesses went under. It really didn’t take much for that to happen. I have become wearier of information released. I don’t t trust it immediately because it will change the next day…which makes it harder to get a handle on the truth of a situation. I learned that when you watch, you will prepare…and we were stocked and self-isolating before the government required it. I learned emotionally preparing is just as important as physical. Mental and emotional resilience is what got us through when we realized this was a marathon and not a sprint.

    Tara…

    I learned not to wait to get something you want or need. I was lucky to get new filters for our Berkey before they ran out. Also, I have wanted a grain mill forever and now I have one ordered but is back order until August. And remember, one is none and two is one rule!

    Shelley…

    Never assume that your job is safe. I’m a L&D nurse at a busy hospital. BUT, I’m per diem, April 8th I was sent home early and have not worked regularly since then. I just now found a travel nurse assignment that fits. I’ll be working both jobs for the time being. My hospital definitely puts profit over patient safety.

    Pat…

    I was surprised how quickly the shut-down of stores, libraries, etc. happened. The notice went out only hours before the shutdown happened so there was little opportunity to get out and pick up the non-essential supplies (books, craft supplies, gardening supplies) that would have made isolation easier. I was/am also surprised by the shifting “news” and medical opinion. First–masks won’t help, then they may help, now they are required. And the fact that prepping quickly became “hoarding”.

    Pam…

    Coffee and tonic water. People in SW Kansas found out that tonic water had quinine in it and bought it like crazy, once it was suggested that malaria drugs would fight the virus.

    Melissa…

    I learned I need a bigger network and plans for the winter. Things I thought I may need, but didn’t buy, I should have- like more masks. If I think maybe, then I should get it then like a pool or kayak cause the reasonable ones are gone. My family depended on me to send them things since they were in a hot spot and store were limited on particular items.

    Melinda…

    I learned to follow my instincts. I did, and I’m thankful, because we were better stocked than we would have been otherwise. Holes – I didn’t have enough TP. I also didn’t anticipate how much I would rely on easy to prepare foods for my kids, such as Mac and cheese cups. It seemed like when everything else was upside down, they really appreciated having a “fun” food.

    Sandy…

    I learned that “Alone Time” is worth more than anything we could’ve bought at the store. With quarantines and self-isolation ‘all in the same house’, it was very difficult at times to remain sane. Normal entertainment was taken advantage of as well and so some of us just sat there dumbfounded when our ‘normally scheduled program’ wasn’t there, or when the next episode of our favorite show wasn’t going to come out until next year sometime. This was different than a power outage, a big snowstorm, or a hurricane… There was very little entertainment, plenty of work that ‘could’ be done, but little to work with. Ultimately, creativity and imagination became my best friend. In lieu of that, I’ve ordered plenty of paper, pencils, new brushes, and canvas.

    Sue…

    I learned that medical emergencies can appear out of the blue. Thanks to early pandemic prep posts here, the oxygen concentrator I got saved my dog during a sudden life-threatening ARDS episode when the vet ER was closed during lockdown and fish mox made all the difference when I developed a tooth abscess until oral surgery was available over a month later. I learned that my success during lockdown was largely because online ordering never stopped, and all utilities were available. Back in February and March, I had prepped for both being shut down and did a good job with that. The fact that they didn’t made our lockdown pretty easy. My house is like a disorganized warehouse now. My focus was getting supplies in and deal with it later. My current and future plans are to organize and work diligently to improve/optimize health.

    Kathy…

    Glasses. Always get your eye exam on time so that you aren’t facing an uncertain future using an outdated prescription. (I still need to get mine updated!)

    What are some holes you found in your preps?

    Kate…

    Reading the articles here on Prep Club kept me ahead of the curve by at least a month, if not 6 weeks. I didn’t hit us hard here on Vancouver Island, but the one thing I did fail with was yeast and baking soda. Never expected that so many would decide to start baking bread, and the baking soda I use mixed with dish soap in place of comet or vim. We were down to our last little box when the local Walmart finally got a shipment in. Also failed with seed potatoes. I had a lot left over from last years harvest, but I wanted to get more. Tried every store and nursery and they were all gone. I always get my seeds in January, so that was not an issue.

    Jenn…

    I didn’t plan adequately for fresh things like milk & eggs (I had powdered milk but more frozen for the shorter term would have been good). I also realized w[ith] the yeast & flour shortage (both of which I had but wanted to preserve my stock of) it was easier & a better use of my resources to buy inexpensive white sandwich bread for curbside pickup rather than bake it.

    Kim…

    I found holes in personal items. My husband and I both were essential so we didn’t get to lock-down but we limited unnecessary travel/trips to the store in the beginning. I found that I had been so busy making sure we had plenty of water, food and tp. I didn’t realize I didn’t stock up on shampoo, soap etc. I have since made sure we have a year’s supply of personal toiletry items.

    Becky Ann…

    I ran out of Dawn and surprisingly coffee

    Anne…

    I will never assume TP will always be available. Or frozen peas, rice, cleaners, pasta, flour, etc. When I see it any of these items, I’m going to go stay ahead of the game and get them consistently. THAT SAID, what will I do differently tomorrow? I will try to anticipate where the next shortage will occur. I need more beans, for sure. I think clothing and shoes may be harder to get at some point.

    Letia…

    Holes was toiletries. I was so concentrated on food. I need to get bug out bags made and set up for us to grab. Honestly y’all have taught me so much! I’m just gonna keep going. Stocking food, bumping up security, bags, canning, growing food.

    Chris…

    Masks were the item I missed in my preps. When I tried to order them before covid even hit here, they were sold out. I refuse to pay 50.00 for 10 so I’ve been slowly buying a box at a time as the price comes down. And I’ve yet to find yeast.

    Angela…

    …not enough extension cords. Old house does not have a lot of 3 prong outlets, which I need for my current extension cords. We do not have a printer. So, schoolwork needed to be printed, adapted and overcome.

    Polly…

    …we had gotten sloppy with replacing some of our frequently used food – peanut butter, popcorn, flour, etc. I also learned it is really, really important to be at least one step ahead of the masses when it comes to supplies. My son-in-law would say, “we need to make sure we have enough (********** )” and I would say, “Got it.” When the info about the virus started to filter through to Ohio, I made a special trip for gloves, hand sanitizer, masks, etc. Within another 2 weeks, you couldn’t find them anywhere, for any price. I couldn’t believe how a mistaken belief (How much toilet paper do you need for a respiratory virus.) caused such craziness. That freaked me out.

    Heather…

    Ask my hubs this question and he said, “you did good”. I plan on getting things like paint and building supplies as they were unavailable. Took contractors almost two months to build my barn because of supply issues.

    StivnSheila…

    Need more chocolate and chips…. and canning supplies.

    Melissa…

    Thermometers. When covid started becoming a household word and it was recommended to check temperatures, I realized my never-been-used thermometer was a dud. My husband had been sick for a week- not covid, but we couldn’t tell if he had a low-grade fever or not. I went to four different stores to find a thermometer- all four stores were sold out! Then, I remembered we had bought three extensive first aid kits- we dug them out, and each had a thermometer. I thought we were prepared, but we weren’t prepared at all for a pandemic.

    Arleene…

    We need more storage space for animal feed. Found that out the hard way when we weren’t able to make our bimonthly run to the feed store.

    Whitney…

    I worked the whole time so not much changed. Holes were toiletries, medical supplies and I need to come up with an alternative energy solution. I need better organization and more room. One major issue is: foot problem (in pt now, may have to still do surgery) has caused me to not get some stuff done. Trying to rectify that slowly before I have to tell the Dr yes or no on the surgery.

    Teresa…

    The only hole in my preps was “entertainment “. We live out in the country so going outside was a great help but, for bad weather days I need more movies and maybe series on DVD. Where we live streaming is not yet optimal, and that is putting it nicely! Books, puzzles, and games are great but, sometimes you just want to watch a good movie.

    Dana…

    My biggest problem was forgetting how much more I would need when my oldest daughter and her 2 toddlers moved back in. I also can’t depend on anyone but me to check out how low the resources are getting.

    Laura…

    Dried yeast was the thing we didn’t have enough of that we missed. Next time I’ll make sure I have enough in sealed tins. I’ll double up on PPE although we still haven’t used it all up. For information two sources were useful… lists posted on here by knowledgeable group members, even in other countries and local info from friends about which shops had what scarce stuff.

    Donna…

    I underestimated how QUICKLY shortages would show up in our rural town. Within HOURS of the first confirmed case of corona virus in our area (still several counties away), sections of the local Walmart were cleaned out and remained that way for weeks. I wish I had stocked more PPE. I had not expected garden supplies to sell out so quickly and remain sold out so long. Many garden supply items are sold out within hours of being stocked on the shelves. The rabbits this year seem to be eating everything. (peppers, marigolds, peas, beans, etc.) Hardware cloth is still difficult to find.

    What will you do differently to prepare for any future lockdown?

    Judi…

    I would stock a lot more liquid hand soap and dish washing liquid. It was truly hard to find hand soap, still is most places. Meat has gotten very expensive. I wish I had my chest freezer full of hamburger instead of turkey, a ham and chicken. I can do more things creatively with hamburger. With everyone home, it’s too hard to keep up with making bread. Hungry little piranhas trying to eat it before it’s even cool enough to slice…lol! Store bought bread to the rescue. These folks can go through a loaf in one lunch, with only 3 of them eating it!

    Max…

    My family was more prepared than needed which provided us confidence and peace of mind. What would I do differently? Buy more gloves. My stock was sized for medical use, not going to the grocery use.

    Alyssa…

    Act on the thoughts and feelings you have immediately, and don’t stop to overthink them. For example: I had the thought back in January to learn how to can ground beef and get a few quarts canned. I didn’t act on that and now ground beef is almost $5 a pound. One thing I feel I did right, is that the month before seeds had sold out, I had already placed my order so I could start things inside. By the time I was ready to plant outside, things were pretty much sold out.

    Diane…

    Watch my mental state. Keep watch on the news, but don’t get obsessed with it. Stay proactive. The only things missing were coffee and hair coloring….Oh! Need more popcorn for when the next wave of social media arguments break out. (j/k) Things we did that really worked: We sat down with my son & his wife and put a game plan together if supply chains got broken. He started an organic farm with dairy goats and chickens. We expanded our garden and made a good contact with a local family ranch. Their business was just gone because the restaurants had shut down, so I helped them figure out some veggie boxes and then promoted on social media. It helped both the people getting high quality fresh veggies and the farm. Now, they’re just flooding me with veggies. My thought was that if things go south, having a farm as a friend was a good thing.

    Allison…

    Food-wise I would buy more frozen fruits and vegetables. My freezer is packed with meat and some quick meals(and frozen pizza for the teenager) I have canned veggies but wanted more variety. Broccoli, cauliflower, and such. Fruit, I needed more apples, bananas, oranges, lemons, and limes. Trying to problem solve the lack of citrus.

    Susan…

    Aside from wishing I’d had more money for padding, about the only thing I plan on stocking more of is chocolate and sweets. It turns out that a Cadbury egg every day is what kept me feeling sane and safe. Weird, and please don’t judge me..(LOL) I think the excessive sugar/carb/fat triggers a serotonin reaction. And yes, I found where I can buy a box of 48 for $25. I did find that I’m reluctant to cook the dried beans I have. I’m not sure why. Lack of experience. Not having recipes. I have many types, and a lot of them, so I should start using them I suppose.

    Erica…

    Adding more food and supplies. I wasn’t planning on having four more people back home so that made me change my game plan a bit. Otherwise, getting more pandemic supplies to carry in all vehicles.

    How will you change your preparedness in general?

    Leigh Ann…

    My husband and I became sick with covid-19 and were pretty much unable to leave the house for almost a month. I thought I had done a decent job of preparing with food storage. But after not going to a store for a month and very limited shopping a couple months before that, I realized I had underestimated how much food we would go through. I also underestimated the amount of paper products, garbage bags, cleaning products etc. We still did OK and I am so glad I had what I had. But I am learning you need a lot more than what you think you do. I had heard and read that before but I think it’s hard to understand exactly what that means until you can see it firsthand.

    Hayley…

    I’ve actually coasted along quite nicely once I got past the initial upset of having my routine messed up, fresh produce was an issue, I’m planning an overhaul of the garden to help supplement that for this winter onward, what I did find odd was my reluctance to start using my stockpile, I was concerned as to how I would replenish it, I’m not sure how I can really overcome that other than having back ups of back ups so if, for example, I manage to work thru my 12 months supply of loo roll I then have other options I can fall back on until I can get more or if it never restocks.

    Sharon…

    We did pretty good overall. We have been long term preppers, dealing with weather related and power outages. We had no problem at all with social distancing because we generally do that anyways. What we learned was how much money we saved by working from home. Almost $500 month on just gas alone in savings was like a wonderful gift. I am thankful my husband has a job that he could do this. What we learned is we HAVE to get out of this rental and buy a place of our own. The fresh stuff we relied on as a staple kept us much healthier. We both gained weight living off of more pantry staples. While I have some pots of salad greens & herbs that’s a far cry from what I usually buy fresh. A garden is a must have for us. We have taken the opportunity to learn a lot of new skills including more medical skills, organizing preps & inventory keeping, planning for the unexpected, learning to slaughter & process a pig in hot weather – totally different than the usual early winter harvest. I learned how fast supplies can become unavailable because of importing of goods. I became aware of how much the media pushes their agenda in whatever direction it wants and is not to be trusted or relied on and how its really feeding the divisions that can easily fuel a civil war. Knowledge and skills are so much more important than having a lot of stuff. In all I think it really impacted our reasons as to why we prep and to step it up a lot more in our time frames from WHAT IF…To WHEN! Where are we going to be??? And giving us a START GETTING READY NOW! kick in the pants.

    Lisa…

    We did pretty well. I don’t know if I’m able to change what I need to which would be to stop helping others. I started pushing family members to start building a stock of hygiene/sanitizing products and I was ignored (I’m sure there were whispers that my tinfoil hat was too tight). Then when they couldn’t find the stuff, I gave out of my stash. I had/have enough but now need to rebuild my stockpile. It was frustrating to be sure! Can I look at my dad or my in-laws and tell them “I told you so”? Well, I did but I still gave them the supplies they needed. But the ‘kids’ (ages 25+), I told them they need to figure it out themselves and sent links on DIY stuff.

    Pam…

    Keeping informed from sources outside msm kept me 3-4 weeks ahead of the crowds, thank you Prep Club. I felt comfortable with my preps when things got bad here in the US. I did find myself reluctant to use my stash. I was able to explain early the need to be ready for lockdown with extended family. In turn, they were better prepared and now know I’m not paranoid. It was surprising to learn how few times I truly need to go anywhere ever.

    Lisa…

    Snacks and quick stuff to eat. I typically don’t keep a lot of it anyway, but with everyone home constantly it was more of an issue. I’m still not quite sure how to impact that without impacting storage and stock rotation issues. Second was a little more emergency or liquid cash…that issue is currently changing. We just were not comfortable with how tight we were personally and for our business. Sometimes that can’t be helped, but we are making a concerted effort to have a little better padded emergency fund. We would have survived, but not as comfortably as we would like.

    Angela…

    …coffee brings me sanity… and a bit of normality. How I look forward to my cup each morning. Part of my routine that never changed.

    Deb…

    I was in the hospital when the whole COVID thing blew wide open. I came home to a disaster. My big fail was not explaining the prep system to hubby (who had previously no interest).

    Colette…

    As full-time farmers we were never really “locked down”. The whole thing made me more aware though. We were well stocked on food and hygiene items, no real holes where supplies are concerned. In all honesty I believe we could go a year+ on total lockdown without going hungry or being dirty, or really doing without anything we really wanted or needed. We raise pretty much everything we eat, and I always keep a surplus stock of seeds. I think I would reconsider my water supply. We are on public water but if it quit running, we have a cistern and access to strip pits. It will just require considerably more work for transport and purification. I would like a solar set up for electricity. And always more means of defending our home and livestock. It’s the same as always, being able to afford those more expensive items.

    Tina…

    I never knew that liquid bleach got weaker over time. You can stockpile it by the gallon, but that does you no good about six months out. I picked up granulated pool shock, which can be reconstituted a tiny bit at a time and make a similar product to bleach, useful in all the same situations, that we’ll use up in tiny batches then make more. Added plus: it’s a small packet that takes up almost no space and lasts indefinitely if stored properly.

    Kathy…

    I need to get to the range more.

    Laurie…

    After having been through several hurricanes and the ’08 crash and having to help family, we’re good.

    Crystal…

    Toilet paper & Clorox wipes are worth more than gold to some people. When tp starts being restocked and the sign says 1 per family you buy it every trip just in case. Friends and family in larger cities don’t stock up and their large stores were out a long time. I thought I might have to start shipping toilet paper. Learning about gardening and buying extra seeds BEFORE it’s time to plant. We weren’t ready for an in-ground garden and used containers. Gardening supplies, including vegetable starts, here went fast (within days) since everyone was stuck at home and didn’t want to go to the bigger cities. Buying a spare freezer mid shutdown was interesting. Home Depot delivery was 4 months wait! Our neighbor is finally getting one they ordered in April. We bought a used one local for $100 thankfully it’s still going…Oh and stock up even more on dry/canned pet foods. We usually buy the biggest bag possible and still needed to order more. Chewy & Walmart online was sold out of most options and our small local store only gets small bags and even that was hit or miss each week. Like toilet paper buy what you can every trip and stock up. Can’t ever have too much as long as it’s sealed and not around mice.

    Barbara…

    Organization. I honestly didn’t know how much I needed of everything. I still don’t have that nailed. And part of that is a place I can store goods so that is can see what I have more easily. Shelves, etc.

    Shelia…

    Had enough TP until just now. But now was able to find some and have restocked. I will now buy every time I go to the store. Seeds: I had heirloom seeds but will begin adding extra to my collection. Never thought as a nurse that I would ever have to worry about having a steady job as I have usually over the past 32 years worked at least 1-2 Full-time jobs (we work 12-hour shifts so can work 2 -FT jobs 3 -12 hr. shifts per week) but with Covid and me now not working in the Emergency Room I found myself not being able to work my job in pre-op surgery due to being shut down. But we are now back up and running at mostly normal schedules. Our garden is supplying fresh fruits and vegetables which is great. Chicken supplying eggs. Masks and cleaning supplies are what I will also stock up on. The pool shock is a great thing I will be checking into.

    Michelle…

    I need to work on stocking up on clothing for my son, as he is still growing. It is harder to come by good used clothes for boys in the size he is in now and forward, but I need to be prepared anyway! I always have had a stash of tp and still have quite a bit but will continue to stock up as needed. I think the hard thing now is the temptation to sit back and not press forward on prepping as much since I have a good stash of food, etc. But one never knows just what tomorrow will bring. I keep getting two pounds of butter every time I am at Aldi, as it’s the limit and it’s the cheapest it’s been in ages ($1.88/pound). I probably have an exorbitant amount of butter in my freezers, but the low price cannot last forever!

    Nicole…

    I need better organization, I have too much stuff and can’t find what I need when I need it!! I didn’t go grocery shopping for over 2 months at a store other than for some random unimportant things, pet food, and fresh produce/milk. I feel that we would be okay for a long time with human things! We do need more pet food, and I’ve bought powdered milk at bulk barn every time I get milk and vacuum-sealed what we would use in a month. I also need Mylar bags and more coffee! And less dog hair would be nice! Oh, and an adult inflatable pool would be awesome! My dryer died in March, so I’ve been doing a load every time a basket is full and hang drying. Getting a huge walnut tree taken down in August since it’s a major allergy issue and blocks the sun and kills all the grass/plants in the back yard, and getting my old deck ripped out. Going to replace with patio stones or concrete since it is home for skunks, rabbits, or rats at different times of their year and I had a major rat problem this winter in my old half of the basement. Also, will be putting in proper insulation to my bedroom crawlspace since it has none and new windows/doors (they are at least 50 years old) have been bought and I will be helping my dad put them in so I can learn how to! These all need to be done before SHTF to make sure I can keep the house comfortable since they are responsible for 30% heat/cooling loss!

    Julie…

    I need better organization, inventory tracking methods, an upright freezer, more shelving in my storage area, and ammo. Need 9mm ammo and it’s impossible to find locally right now.

    Jim…

    Not much changed for me, but my wife had several clients on hiatus out of fear of getting sick.

    Heather…

    I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids. This mantra was said daily. And now with the hubby home going on week 4 it applies to him as well. I need school supplies at home, never saw that one coming. I stay home anyway so that didn’t change, the husband had to work so that was normal. I know I had some short and they were odd ones so those were taken care of.

    Melissa…

    I spent more money than expected! Although I typically buy extra supplies each shopping trip, in February and March with the potential for shelter in place I did some large grocery, ammo and cleaning supply purchasing. Ammo was impossible to find by mid-March, and it’s still very limited on availability in early July. I realized living alone and being furloughed, that after two weeks I craved human interaction. I ended up going to my parents for a week. When initially the lockdown began and there was not clear knowledge of what would happen with the virus, I avoided the stores but after a month caved to get fresh vegetables and fruit, but ironically during that time I also threw away vegetables as I over bought and I didn’t eat or process all of them before they rotted.

    Susan…

    Just trying to save money, get out of debt and looking for another (“essential”) job

    Erin…

    It may seem silly or trivial but purchasing undergarments and clothing. I am in need of some things that need to be tried on before purchase and I won’t be able to do that for the foreseeable future. I have a backup plan, but I procrastinated too much on making these purchases.

    Julia…

    Coming up with more options to supplement easily perishable items. For example, I learned that carton egg whites store very well frozen in the carton and switching to shelf stable nondairy milk lasts much longer than refrigerated. Also, I learned that if I see something, I need to not worry what others thought. In Feb I did a few rather large shopping trips and got a lot of looks/comments, but I didn’t mind. Those supplies were well used, and at that point there were several left for others of they so desired. Also important for me to learn was to prep snack supplies and actual meals, not just staples. My children get very tired of just basics so when I found good deals on shelf stable things they enjoy (granola bars, cereal, packaged Mac, and cheese) I’ve been adding them to my stockpile.

    Karen…

    Definitely keep more cleaning wipes, paper towels and TP on hand (although I’m still good). Get another small chest freezer (I already have one) for frozen veggies, fruits and meat. For over a month I couldn’t find canned or frozen peas anywhere. Masks, definitely. Right now, I know I have a guaranteed job for this coming year, but not sure after. So, I will be saving and possibly converting to some gold and silver coin.

    Jose…

    Going STRAIGHT to my BOL. If the wife doesn’t want to come, cool. Hasta la vista, baby. But I´ll take the kids with me. And the cat. You can keep the dog.

    Lynda…

    The pandemic virus was on my radar late January, early February. We started prepping seriously for the pandemic effect here in Massachusetts. Shopping was done by early March. Our group of friends had multiple planning conversations and we shared our resources and maximized our shopping together. We informed everyone we could. Bread was probably the one item I should have frozen more of.

    Vicki…

    I usually have enough of everything on hand, but when I first started reading about the virus (thank you, Daisy), I quickly bought extra masks, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, disposable gloves, and OTC drugs, as well as extra thermometers. It was all well-stocked at the beginning of the pandemic. The only thing I forgot to stock was yeast, but I’ve since been able to buy 2 one-pound packages online.

    Sheila…

    I’ll never again say “Do I really need more of those (insert whatever)? I already have x amount. No, I won’t get them.” I will get them. And more. And more if I can. Not because I’m a hoarder. Because so many people I know, and love had NONE. And I shared. And they learned that yes, they need to get more of them too. And also, I learned not to ignore that nagging little feeling of “Something’s coming”.

    What about you?

    What did you learn during the lockdown? Did you run out of anything that you thought you have plenty? Was there something unexpected that occurred that you never saw coming?

    Published:7/10/2020 7:32:32 PM
    [Markets] The Illiberalism At The Heart Of Cancel Culture The Illiberalism At The Heart Of Cancel Culture Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 19:45

    Authored by John Lloyd via CAPX

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    In 2018, David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, cancelled a public interview with Steve Bannon, a former senior adviser to President Donald Trump, which he had organised for the magazine’s annual festival. Several staff members had complained and two or three participants in the festival had said they would withdraw if Bannon appeared. Two of the magazine’s most distinguished writers, Malcolm Gladwell and Lawrence Wright, strongly criticised Remnick’s decision: “journalism is about hearing opposing views”, said Wright. Gladwell noted that “If you only invite your friends over, it’s called a dinner party”. The episode was a worrying sign of things to come.

    In 2019, New York Review of Books publisher Rea Hederman – who has a proud history of anti-racism – fired Ian Buruma, editor of the Review for only sixteen months, after pressure from the staff. Buruma’s crime? He had printed an essay – ‘Confessions of a Hashtag’ by Jian Ghomeishi, a former Canadian Broadcasting radio host, who had been accused of violence to around twenty women, but had been recently acquitted in a case brought by some of them. Ghomeishi’s piece, which addressed these accusations, was deemed to be out of step with the spirit of the #MeToo movement. That the next issue of the NYRB was to devote a large amount of space to rebuttal was not enough to save Buruma.

    A G Sulzberger had, in his apprentice journalist years, used relentless coverage to force a Lion’s Club in Narragansett to reverse its decision to bar women, and revealed misconduct in an Oregon sheriff’s office, causing his resignation. He took over as publisher of the New York Times in 2018, the sixth Sulzberger to take that position: he strongly criticised President Trump, in an Oval Office meeting, for calling the Times “treasonous” and rendering journalists’ work more dangerous.

    Then in June 2020, he forced the resignation of James Bennet, editor of the NYT‘s op-ed page. Why? Because they carried an opinion piece by the Republican senator Tom Cotton which argued that demonstrations which turned violent should be met with “an overwhelming show of force” – a phrase that caused outrage among some of the staff. Bennet had been tipped as the future Editor of the New York Times. Now he was out the door.

    In each case, the main actors were men I admired – Hederman and Sulzberger by reputation, Remnick (whom I met when we were both correspondents in Moscow) by his writing and editing. They had faced difficult decisions, made enemies and hard choices. In each case, the men worked for a journal with a history of innovative, no-hold-barred criticism of the powerful.

    And in each case, they had folded because of pressure from the staff  – pressure which stemmed from an article or an event the complainants deemed unsuitable for any audience. For those staff, opinions they dislike are seen as intolerable in a publication on which they work. A red line had been crossed.

    Journalism, in the protesting staffs’ view, must conform to novel, liberal verities, which include the protection of audiences from material seen as hurtful, even dangerous. The view of John Stuart Mill in On Liberty (1859) – “to utter and argue freely, according to conscience”- is now discarded in many parts of the cultural landscape. The sharpening of one’s own convictions by setting them against opposing opinions would now, under this approach, be impossible.

    Part of this may be the phenomenon which Jonathan Swift noted when he wrote that “you cannot reason someone out of something that he or she was not reasoned into”: that views held because fashionable, or approved by one’s circle, or regarded as morally beyond question, are sometimes too shallow to be able to sustain argument. Dogmatic positions adopted with little thought except for signaling virtue often collapse when questioned hard.

    What’s to be done about this? First, the phenomenon itself has to be held up to the light as much as possible. If, as I suspect, much of it is loudly proclaimed but lightly ingested, argument and debate has to be brought to bear. The best argument remains Mill’s: that opinions, many of them having to do with central issues of our time, are too important not to be challenged, worked over, considered anew and either strengthened or weakened – and, in the latter case, either modified or discarded.

    Journalism needs now, more than ever, to build debate and contestation into news media worlds. The challenge is to rediscover the fundamentals of journalism – without which it ceases to be a necessary pillar of democratic, civic societies: in short, journalism needs to rediscover a belief in the fact of facts, and in the plurality of opinion. No liberal would for a moment agree that criticism of President Trump, distasteful to his supporters, should be censored.

    Editors’ mission is to insist that, barring the dangerous extremes, all opinions deserve airing and contesting, just as all facts deserve to be checked and given context. Those in journalism who object to views in their journal, channel or website must accept that the robust clash of beliefs remains a necessary insurance against enforced conformity, and indeed reaction. In a society built on diverse ways of looking at the world, some upset on seeing or reading an account or a conviction which strongly contradicts your own has to be borne, considered and where possible replied to, not shut down.

    A letter signed by prominent writers, scholars and others organized by Harper’s Magazine on July 7 – “On Justice and Open Debate” – noted that “it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms”.

    The concession to staff protests in the great New York titles and the punishments to Buruma and Bennet were “hasty and disproportionate”. These journals stood as examples to others: their example has been weakened. Journalists have been trained to keep an open mind to all events they chronicle, conscious of their complexity: and to listen to and allow space for views which are far from their own. That tradition is not past its useful life.

    John Lloyd is a Contributing Editor to the Financial Times, ex-editor of The New Statesman and a co-founder of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

    Published:7/10/2020 7:01:12 PM
    [Markets] YouTube Removes Video Of Popular EV Owner Explaining Why He Traded His Tesla For A Gas-Powered Car YouTube Removes Video Of Popular EV Owner Explaining Why He Traded His Tesla For A Gas-Powered Car Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 19:25

    Rich Benoit has a YouTube channel that has over 700,000 subscribers and over 80 million views. Business for his channel over the last couple of years was, for all intents and purposes, booming. 

    Benoit made a name for himself with the EV community, attracting a huge subscriber base of electric car enthusiasts due to a number of projects involving Teslas that he would take on. His most recent, according to Vice, was a rebuilt 2013 Tesla S P85. 

    But the YouTube love he was getting changed suddenly when he posted one of his latest projects called: “Why I’m selling my Tesla and going back to Gas.”

    The video was supposed to be an explanation of why Benoit was selling his most recent Tesla project in favor of purchasing a gas-powered car. But the Tesla cult didn't allow the video to air more than a couple of hours. Shortly after posting the video, it was taken down by YouTube for violating Community Guidelines.

    He said at the beginning of the video: “This video is going to be a little bit different. In this episode I’m going to re-building a Tesla Model S. It’s going to be from start to finish in one episode, while I talk over the reasons why I’m switching back to gas. Kind of ironic, isn’t it?”

    On his Twitter, Benoit blamed "Tesla fanboys" for the YouTube ban:

    Benoit also noticed a "high dislike ratio" on his video shortly after it was posted, which he suspects it was the Tesla cult that got his video banned.

    Benoit said: “People clearly did not like the content even though there was no cursing. I've been on YouTube for several years now and I've never had a video pulled, so having a video pulled within five hours after announcing that I'll be replacing my Tesla with a gas powered vehicle doesn't seem like a coincidence.”

    He then appealed the violation with YouTube who re-instated his video. After it was put up a second time, it was again flagged and taken down.

    Benoit has surrendered to the cult and given up: “I have given up yes. It's not worth it me trying for a third time.”

    Published:7/10/2020 6:31:09 PM
    [Markets] "Liberal" NYC Cafe Owner Terrorized By Yuppie Neighbors After Claiming He Voted For Trump "Liberal" NYC Cafe Owner Terrorized By Yuppie Neighbors After Claiming He Voted For Trump Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 18:45

    After helping to legitimize cancel culture by running countless thinkpieces on the subject while its reporters increasingly adopted a strategy of covering these cancel campaigns and publishing opinion pieces written by (mostly minority) authors arguing extremist positions based on what should be a frightening underlying assumption: That every individual who expresses support for the president, or who in any other way breaks with the liberal orthodoxies espoused by the Times and its staff, is worthy of scorn and shame. Even when people like Chris Cooper, clearly a compassionate individual, say that the now-infamous 'Central Park Karen' Amy Cooper has "suffered enough" when he decided not to cooperate with an NYPD investigation into his erstwhile tormentor's transgressions.

    But as the backlash to the 'cancel culture' intensifies, fortunately, media figures like Joe Rogan (with his $100 million Spotify deal) are finding places in the media firmament from where they can safely question cancel culture and the notion that Trump and all his supporters are 'evil demons' without facing a backlash from big tech and the far left. The fact that Rogan has managed to attain such success is a testament to the weariness with the SJW 'cancel culture' and other orthodoxies like "the Patriarchy" and "International White Supremacy" that many millions of Americans, Europeans and others feel. And NYT staffers like Taylor Lorenz and Bari Weiss genuinely believe that Rogan shouldn't be afforded such a platform.

    Clearly, the old-timer editors at the NYT who have been swept aside by the left-wing mob are starting to feel a little remorse, because in today's paper, one of the NYT's top political correspondents, Azi Paybarah, has published a feature about a bar owner in Inwood, a neighborhood situated on the northern tip of Manhattan, far from the roving tourists and spoiled hipsters who populate the city below.

    Thomas Bosco, the owner of the Indian Road Cafe in Upper Manhattan, is by all accounts a good-natured man and a fair employer. When employees can't find child care, he welcomes children to the restaurant and finds a place for them where they can be supervised. His cafe had become a haven for progressives, and when the protests started, Bosco hung a black lives matter flag in the window.

    But when he told a reporter at MSNBC during an interview - he claims he had believed that the comment wasn't going to be aired - that he had voted for President Trump in 2016, the comment unleashed the hounds on him, and he soon found his business and livelihood facing a boycott as angry former patrons - including two drag queens who had hosted bingo nights at the cafe for years - launched a boycott.

    At Indian Road Cafe in Upper Manhattan, a Black Lives Matter sign hangs in a front window. Local writers, artists, musicians and political activists are regulars. And for years, two drag queens have hosted a monthly charity bingo tournament there.

    Many in the surrounding Inwood neighborhood considered it a community hub and a progressive oasis.

    But then the cafe’s owner, Thomas Bosco, said in an MSNBC interview in late spring that he voted for President Trump in 2016 and was likely to do so again.

    The backlash was swift, as you might expect.

    Neighbors railed in the comments on various neighborhood Facebook groups, posting hundreds of angry messages aimed at the cafe — and one another. Some people called for a boycott.

    "How could I be against Trump and all that he stands for and go somewhere and patronize someone who supports this demon?" Douglas Henderson, 62, a lawyer and nearby resident, said in an interview.

    Ironically, Bosco made the appearance during a piece about the difficulties facing American small-business owners during the pandemic. Little did he know that by trying to share his experiences honestly with the public, that he would be made into a target of inchoate rage fanned by the far left.

    According to the NYT, the backlash to Bosco's seemingly innocuous comment "shows how in a highly polarized social media era, a few comments in an interview can reverberate."

    Glennis Aquino-Gil, 37, a resident of Riverdale, in the Bronx, vowed she would never go to Indian Road again.

    Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, who lives nearby, wrote on Facebook: “It’s hard to ever go back.”
    The two drag queens have said they will move their show to a different venue.

    The controversy, coming in the middle of a pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, shows how in a highly polarized social media era, a few comments in an interview can reverberate: Mr. Bosco said the fallout from his TV appearance, in a segment about small business owners and workers, might put him out of business.

    The situation got so out of hand, that Bosco felt he needed to publish an "open letter" to the community explaining his answer. He revealed in the letter that he had voted for the last 4 presidents, and that he considered himself a liberal guy.

    Soon after the TV appearance circulated online, Mr. Bosco posted an open letter to the community — “the community I live in, a community I love, respect, and serve” — defending his answer to the question about Mr. Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    In the appearance, Mr. Bosco said that the president had made missteps, “but at the end of the day, I support him. I support my governor and I support my mayor.” Mr. Bosco then said he voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 and planned to do so again.

    In his open letter, Mr. Bosco wrote that he had “answered honestly and from the heart,” but his response had been presented without context. He said that what was in the video did not include that he had supported the last four presidents and that he had “found many things troubling about our administration."

    "I’m a liberal guy who supports almost every liberal cause I can think of," Mr. Bosco said recently while sitting inside his cafe, empty because of the current ban on indoor dining.

    Though the comments received plenty of good feedback, particularly, we suspect, due to his claim that MSNBC had left out a large part of his answer to that question in a manner that was highly suspect. But many are still angry, and expressing that anger on the Internet, mostly. Whether he realizes it or not, Bosco's apology only made him more of a target since he offered some insight into how editors at NBC News often edit footage with the goal to maximize the 'audience response' (ie outrage).  More outrage, more clicks. That's just how it is.

    But by trying to show how some 'liberal' well-meaning people have voted for Trump, or expressed support for the president, Bosco has made him a target to leftists who will do whatever it takes to preserve the narrative that all Trump voters are racists, and all racists are evil people who deserve to be scorned. Clearly, since Trump is the president, many people in this country don't agree with this viewpoint. Yet, so-called "leaders" like Joe Biden have pandered to the progressive left at every turn.

    In his open letter, Mr. Bosco wrote that he had “answered honestly and from the heart,” but his response had been presented without context. He said that what was in the video did not include that he had supported the last four presidents and that he had “found many things troubling about our administration."

    “I’m a liberal guy who supports almost every liberal cause I can think of,” Mr. Bosco said recently while sitting inside his cafe, empty because of the current ban on indoor dining.

    When a worker did not have child care, Mr. Bosco provided it on site, Mr. Bosco and another employee said. They also said that when a different worker feared being stopped by the police and questioned about his immigration status, Mr. Bosco drove that person to and from the cafe.

    Bosco is known to friends and customers for allowing his restaurant to become a haven for progressives and he often gives back to the community, and goes above and beyond for his workers. But he also told the NYT that he supported both Bernie Sanders and Trump, a concept that sometimes causes leftists to short-circuit with rage when confronted by evidence of the supposed "myth".

    When a worker did not have child care, Mr. Bosco provided it on site, Mr. Bosco and another employee said.

    They also said that when a different worker feared being stopped by the police and questioned about his immigration status, Mr. Bosco drove that person to and from the cafe.

    And on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Mr. Bosco organized a brunch to raise money for an immigrant’s advocacy organization.

    He struggled to explain how he voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 after having supported Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a progressive Democrat, earlier that year. Eventually, he settled on the phrase “small government, big community."

    Now, Mr. Bosco says, he is not sure whom he will support in November.

    “My staff feels like I let them down to a certain extent,” Mr. Bosco said.

    "They feel like when I answered that question, that I didn’t think about them” as employees of the cafe he was representing, he added.

    "And that hurts. I wish I had it back.”

    Back in the day, Bosco's views on politics never mattered. And that would probably still be the case, if it wasn't for the fact that a wave of yuppie gentrifiers have swarmed Inwood looking for "inexpensive" rents and "more space", pushing out the mostly working-class immigrants who had called the neighborhood home.

    One complainant who chimed in online sneered: "does he know where his restaurant is?"

    Mr. Bosco has not made donations to any political campaign, according to city, state and federal records online. And Indian Road is not a chain.

    “Does he know where his restaurant is?” asked Caroline Montero, 29, from nearby Washington Heights. The cafe, which will change its name to Inwood Farm this month, is in a gentrifying area with many immigrants.

    “Where’s your loyalty?” she added, as she sat in a park across the street from the cafe with Ms. Aquino-Gil and another friend. Sipping drinks purchased from a park vendor, all three vowed to no longer patronize the cafe.

    When confronted with the fact that Bosco never donated to Trump, and that he had donated to pro-immigration groups, one neighbor still claimed that didn't outweigh the fact that Trump was trying to "take away her rights".

    “I appreciate that he’s given money to immigrants rights groups and donated to food pantries,” Ms. Llodrá said in an interview. “That’s great. But it doesn’t take away the fact that he voted for someone in 2016 and planned to vote for someone in 2020 who will take away my rights."

    Assuming she's an American citizens...how is he trying to do that, exactly?

    Now, Bosco says he's not sure who to support in November because he feels like he 'let his employees down' by sharing his feelings. But this is just another example of the 'Internet mob mentality' that exists when hyper-progressive NIMBY yuppies see one of their precious orthodoxies being violated. Business owners like Bosco have been in the neighborhood for years, helping to build it into the type of place that out-of-town yuppies might want to live.

    And this is the thanks he gets...

    Published:7/10/2020 6:02:40 PM
    [Markets] FBI Man At The Heart Of Surveillance Abuses Is A Professor Of Spying Ethics FBI Man At The Heart Of Surveillance Abuses Is A Professor Of Spying Ethics Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 18:25

    Submitted by Paul Sperry of RealClearInvestigations

    The unnamed FBI “Supervisory Intelligence Analyst” cited by the Justice Department's watchdog for failing to properly vet the so-called Steele dossier before it was used to justify spying on the Trump campaign teaches a class on the ethics of spying at a small Washington-area college, records show.

    Above, Brian J. Auten, the FBI analyst who vetted applications to spy on Carter Page, has taught a course on spying ethics at Patrick Henry College since 2010

    The senior FBI analyst, Brian J. Auten, has taught the course at Patrick Henry College since 2010, including the 11-month period in 2016 and 2017 when he and a counterintelligence team at FBI headquarters electronically monitored an adviser to the Trump campaign based on false rumors from the dossier and forged evidence.

    Auten, identified by congressional sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, never confirmed the most explosive allegations in the dossier compiled by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, cutting a number of corners in the verification process, Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz pointed out in his December report on FBI abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

    By January 2017, the lead analyst had ample evidence the dossier was bogus. Auten could not get sources who provided information to Steele to support the dossier’s allegations during interviews. And collections from the wiretaps of Trump aide Carter Page failed to reveal any confirmation of the claims. Auten even came across exculpatory evidence indicating Page was not the Russian asset the dossier alleged, but was in fact a CIA asset helping the U.S. spy on Moscow.

    Nonetheless, he and the FBI continued to use the Steele material as a basis for renewing their FISA monitoring of Page, who was never charged with a crime.

    Auten did not respond to requests for comment, and the FBI declined to comment.

    Christopher Steele: The most explosive allegations in the dossier compiled by this ex-British spy were never confirmed by the person responsible for vetting them, FBI analyst Brian Auten.

    In his report, Horowitz wrote that the analyst told his team of inspectors that he did not have any “pains or heartburn” over the accuracy of the Steele reports. As for Steele’s reliability as an FBI informant, Horowitz said, the analyst merely “speculated" that his prior reporting was sound and did not see a need to  “dig into” his handler’s case file, which showed that past tips from Steele had gone uncorroborated and were never used in court.

    According to the IG report, Auten also wasn’t concerned about Steele’s anti-Trump bias or that his work was commissioned by Trump’s political opponent, calling the fact he worked for Hillary Clinton's campaign “immaterial.” Perhaps most disturbing, the analyst withheld the fact that Steele’s main source disavowed key dossier allegations from a memo Auten prepared summarizing a meeting he had with that source.

    Auten appears to have violated his own stated “golden rule” for spying. A 15-year supervisor at the bureau, Auten has written that he teaches students in his national security class at the Purcellville, Va., college that the FBI applies “the least intrusive standard” when it considers surveilling U.S. citizens under investigation to avoid harm to “a subject’s reputation, dignity and privacy.”

    At least three Senate oversight committees are seeking to question Auten about fact-checking lapses, as well as “grossly inaccurate statements” he allegedly made to Horowitz, as part of the committee’s investigation of the FBI’s handling of wiretap warrants the bureau first obtained during the heat of the 2016 presidential race.

    Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz: His team learned from Auten that the FBI analyst had no “pains or heartburn” over the accuracy of the Steele reports. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

    FBI veterans worry Auten’s numerous missteps signal a deeper rot within the bureau beyond top brass who appeared to have an animus toward Donald Trump, such as former FBI Director James Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe, as well as subordinates Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. They fear these main players in the scandal enlisted group-thinking career officials like Auten to ensure an investigative result.

    “Anyone in his position has tremendous access to information and is well-positioned to manipulate information if he wanted to do so,” said Chris Swecker, a 24-year veteran of the FBI who served as assistant director of its criminal investigative division, where he oversaw public corruption cases.

    “Question is, was it deliberate manipulation or just rank incompetence?” he added. “How much was he influenced by McCabe, Page, Strzok and other people we know had a deep inherent bias?”

    Auten is a central, if overlooked, figure in the Horowitz report and the overall FISA abuse scandal, though his identity is hidden in the 478-page IG report, which refers to him throughout only as “Supervisory Intelligence Analyst” or “Supervisory Intel Analyst.” In fact, the 51-year-old analyst shows up at every major juncture in the FISA application process.

    Bruce Ohr (center): FBI analyst Auten met with this Justice official and processed the dirt Ohr fed the FBI from Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS.

    Auten was assigned to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation from its opening in July 2016 and supervised its analytical efforts throughout 2017. He played a key supportive role for the agents preparing the FISA applications, including reviewing the probable-cause section of the applications and providing the agents with information about Steele’s sub-sources noted in the applications. He also helped prepare and review the renewal drafts.

    Auten assisted the case agents in providing information on the reliability of Steele and his sources and reviewing for accuracy their information cited in the body of the applications, as well as all the footnotes. His job was also to fill gaps in the FISA application or bolster weak areas.

    In addition, Auten personally met with Steele and his “primary sub-source,” reportedly a Russian émigré living in the West, as well as former MI6 colleagues of Steele. He also met with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and processed the dirt Ohr fed the FBI from Glenn Simpson, the political opposition research contractor who hired Steele to compile the anti-Trump dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

    Auten was involved in the January 2017 investigation of then-Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to internal emails sent by then-FBI counterintelligence official Strzok.

    Michael Flynn: Auten was involved in the January 2017 investigation of then-Trump National Security Adviser Flynn, according to Peter Strzok emails.

    What’s more, the analyst helped draft a summary of the dossier attached to the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference, which described Steele as “reliable.” Other intelligence analysts argued against incorporating the dossier allegations — including rumors about potentially compromising sexual material — in the body of the report because they viewed them as “internet rumor."

    According to the IG report, "The Supervisory Intel Analyst was one of the FBI's leading experts on Russia.” Auten wrote a book on the Russian nuclear threat during the Cold War, and has taught graduate courses about U.S. and Russian nuclear strategy.

    Still, he could not corroborate any of the allegations of Russian “collusion" in the dossier, which he nonetheless referred to as “Crown material,” as if it were intelligence from America’s closest ally, Britain.

    To the contrary, "According to the Supervisory Intel Analyst, the FBI ultimately determined that some of the allegations contained in Steele's election reporting were inaccurate,” the IG report revealed. Yet the analyst and the case agents he supported continued to rely on his dossier to obtain the warrants to spy on Page -- and by extension, potentially the Trump campaign and presidency -- through incidental collections of emails, text messages and intercepted phone calls.

    Steele Got the Benefit of the Doubt

    According to the IG report, the supervisory intelligence analyst not only failed to corroborate the Steele dossier, but gave Steele the benefit of the doubt every time sources or developments called into question the reliability of his information or his own credibility. In many cases, he acted more as an advocate than a fact-checker, while turning a blind eye to the dossier’s red flags. Examples:

    • When a top Justice national security lawyer initially blocked the Crossfire team’s attempts to obtain a FISA warrant, Auten proactively turned to the dossier to try to push the case over the line. In an email to FBI lawyers, he forwarded an unsubstantiated claim from Steele's Report 94 that Page secretly met with a Kremlin-tied official in July 2016, and asked, "Does this put us at least *that* much closer to a full FISA on [Carter Page]?" (Emphasis in original). 
    • Even though internal FBI emails reveal Auten knew Steele was working for the Clinton campaign by early January 2017, he did not share this information with the Justice lawyer or the FISA court before helping agents reapply for warrants. He told the IG he viewed the potential for political influences on the Steele reporting as “immaterial.”
    • While most of Steele’s past reporting as an informant for the FBI had not been corroborated and had never been used in a criminal proceeding, including his work for an international soccer corruption investigation, Auten wrote that it had in fact been "corroborated and used in criminal proceedings.” His language made it into the FISA renewal applications to help convince the court Steele was still reliable, despite his leaking the FBI’s investigation to media outlet Mother Jones in late October 2016. Auten had merely “speculated” that Steele’s prior reporting was sound without reviewing an internal file documenting his track record.
    • Auten’s notes from a meeting with Steele in early October 2016 reveal that Steele described one of his main dossier sources — identified in the IG report only as "Person 1,” but believed to be Belarusian-American realtor Sergei Millian — as a "boaster" who "may engage in some embellishment.” Yet the IG report noted the analyst "did not provide this description of Person 1 for inclusion in the Carter Page FISA applications despite relying on Person 1's information to establish probable cause in the applications."
    • Auten failed to disclose to the FISA court negative feedback from British intelligence service colleagues of Steele. They told Auten during a visit he made to London in December 2016 that Steele exercised "poor judgment” and pursued as sources "people with political risk but no intel value,” the IG report said.
    • In January 2017, Steele's primary sub-source told Auten that Steele "misstated or exaggerated” information he conveyed to him in multiple sections of the dossier, according to a lengthy summary of the interview by the analyst. For instance, Steele claimed that Kremlin-tied figures offered Page a bribe worth as much as $10 billion in return for lifting U.S. economic sanctions on Russia. "We reviewed the texts [between Steele and the source] and did not find any discussion of a bribe,” the IG report found. Still, Auten let the rumor bleed into the FISA applications.
    • The primary sub-source also told the analyst he did not recall any discussion or mention of WikiLeaks conspiring with Moscow to publish hacked Democratic National Committee emails, or that the Russian leadership and the Trump campaign had a "well-developed conspiracy of cooperation,” as described by Steele in his Report 95. The primary sub-source “did not describe a ‘conspiracy' between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign or state that Carter Page served as an ‘intermediary' between [the campaign] and the Russian government,” the IG found. Yet "all four Carter Page FISA applications relied on Report 95 to support probable cause."
    • In addition, Auten's summary of the primary sub-source cast doubt on the dossier’s allegation that the disclosure of DNC emails to WikiLeaks was made in exchange for a GOP convention platform change regarding Ukraine. Yet this unsubstantiated rumor also found its way into the applications. Confronted by Horowitz’s investigators about all the discrepancies, the analyst offered excuses for Steele. He said that while it was possible that Steele exaggerated or misrepresented information he received from the source, it was also possible the source was lying to the FBI.
    • Even though the primary sub-source’s account contradicted the allegations in Steele’s reporting, the supervisory intel analyst said he did not have any "pains or heartburn" about the accuracy of the Steele reporting.
    • Auten didn’t try to get to the bottom of discrepancies between Steele and his sources until two months after the third and final renewal application was filed. The analyst’s September 2017 interview with Steele revealed clear bias against Trump. According to the FBI's FD-302 summary of the interview, Steele and his London business partner, Christopher Burrows, who was also present, described Trump as their "main opponent" and said that they were "fearful" about the negative impact of the Trump presidency on the relationship between the United States and Britain.
    • The analyst also appeared to mislead, or at least misinform, the FBI’s counterintelligence chief, Bill Priestap, by omitting the primary sub-source’s  claim that Steele “exaggerated" much of the information in the dossier. In late February 2017, Auten sent a two-page memo to Priestap briefing him about his meeting with the source, “but the memorandum did not describe the inconsistencies,” the IG report noted.
    • Finally, recently declassified footnotes in the IG report directly contradict statements provided by Auten in the IG report concerning the potential for Russian disinformation infiltrating Steele’s reporting. The analyst told Horowitz’s team that “he had no information as of June 2017 that Steele’s election reporting source network had been penetrated or compromised [by Russian intelligence].” Yet, in January 2017, the FBI received a report that some of Steele’s reporting “was part of a Russian disinformation campaign” and in February 2017, the FBI received a second report that another part of Steele’s reporting was “the product of [Russian Intelligence Services] infiltrat[ing] a source into the network.”

    Senators Want to Question Auten

    Sen. Ron Johnson: "Deeply troubled by the grossly inaccurate statements by the supervisory intelligence analyst.”

    Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley recently questioned the analyst’s candor and integrity in a letter to the FBI. "We are deeply troubled by the grossly inaccurate statements by the supervisory intelligence analyst,” they wrote.

    The powerful senators have asked the FBI to provide additional records shedding light on what the analyst and other officials knew about Russian disinformation as they were drafting the FISA applications.

    Meanwhile, Auten’s name appears on a list of witnesses Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham recently gained authorization to subpoena to testify before his own panel investigating the FISA abuse scandal. Graham intends to focus on the investigators, including the lead analyst, who interviewed Steele’s primary sub-source in January 2017 and discovered the Steele allegations were nothing more than “bar talk,” as Graham put it in a recent interview, and should never have been used to get a warrant in the first place, to say nothing of renewing the warrant.

    In a Dec. 6 letter to Horowitz, FBI Director Christopher Wray informed the inspector general he had put every employee involved in the 2016-2017 FISA application process through “additional training in ethics.” The mandatory training included “an emphasis on privacy and civil liberties.”

    Wray also assured Horowitz that he was conducting a review of all FBI personnel who had responsibility for the preparation of the FISA warrant applications and would take any appropriate action to deal with them.

    It’s not immediately known if Auten has undergone such a review or has completed the required ethics training. The FBI declined comment.

    “That analyst needs to be investigated internally,” Swecker said.

    Auten appears to have violated the ethics training he provides his students at Patrick Henry College.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham: Auten’s name appears on a list of witnesses the Senate Judiciary  Chairman recently gained authorization to subpoena.

    “When I teach the topic of national security investigations to undergraduates, we cover micro-proportionality, discrimination, and the 'least intrusive standard' via a tweaked version of the Golden Rule — namely, if you were being investigated for a national security issue but you knew yourself to be completely innocent, how would you want someone to investigate you?” Auten wrote in a September 2016 article in Providence magazine, headlined “Just Intelligence, Just Surveillance & the Least Intrusive Standard.” 

    He wrote the six-page paper to answer the question: "Is an intelligence operation, national security investigation or act of surveillance being initiated under the proper authorities for the right purposes? Will an intelligence operation, national security investigation or act of surveillance achieve the good it is meant to? And, in the end, will the expected good be overwhelmed by the resulting harm or damage arising out of the planned operation, investigation or surveillance act?"

    “National security investigations are not ethics-free,” he asserted, advising that a federal investigator should never forget that “the intrusiveness or invasiveness of his tactics places a subject’s reputation, dignity and privacy at risk and has the ability to cause harm.”

    At the same time, Auten said more intrusive methods such as electronic eavesdropping may be justified -- “If it is judged that the threat is severe or the targeted foreign intelligence is of key importance to U.S. interest or survival.” National security “may necessitate collection based on little more than suspicion.” In these cases, he reasoned, the harm to the individual is outweighed by the benefit to society.

    “Surveillance is not life-threatening to the surveilled,” he said.

    However, Page, a U.S. citizen, told RealClearInvestigations that he received "numerous death threats" from people who believed he was a “traitor,” based on leaks to the media that the FBI suspected he was a Russian agent who conspired with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 election.

    Auten also rationalized the risk of “incidental” surveillance of non-targeted individuals, writing: "If the particular act of surveillance is legitimately authorized, and the non-liable subject has not been intentionally targeted, any incidental surveillance of the non-liable subject would be morally licit.”

    A member of the International Intelligence Ethics Association, Auten has lectured since 2010 on “intelligence and statecraft” at Patrick Henry College, where he is an adjunct professor. He also sits on the college’s Strategic Intelligence Advisory Board.

    FBI veterans say the analyst’s lack of rigor raises alarms.

    “I worked with intel analysts all the time working counterintelligence investigations,” said former FBI Special Agent Michael Biasello, a 25-year veteran of the FBI who spent 10 years in counterintelligence. “This analyst’s work product was shoddy, and inasmuch as these FISA affidavits concerned a presidential campaign, the information he provided [to agents] should have been pristine.”

    He suspects Auten was “hand-picked” by Comey or McCabe to work on the sensitive Trump case, which was tightly controlled within FBI headquarters.

    “The Supervisory Intel Analyst must be held accountable now, particularly where his actions were intentional, along with anyone who touched those fraudulent [FISA] affidavits,” Biasello said.

    Published:7/10/2020 5:31:22 PM
    [Markets] This week in Trumponomics Yahoo Finance's Rick Newman joined The Final Round to discuss the state of the US's economic recovery as coronavirus cases surge in parts of the country amid reopenings. Published:7/10/2020 5:04:47 PM
    [Markets] The Fed: Controversial Trump Fed nominee Shelton may move forward as Senate panel sets vote Judy Shelton’s nomination to the Federal Reserve, which had stalled since February, got fresh life on Friday when the Senate Banking Committee announced it would hold a vote on sending her name to the full Senate.
    Published:7/10/2020 5:04:47 PM
    [Markets] Colin Powell Stuns MSNBC Host: Rips "Almost Hysterical" Coverage Of Fake Russia Bounty Story Colin Powell Stuns MSNBC Host: Rips "Almost Hysterical" Coverage Of Fake Russia Bounty Story Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 17:25

    When Colin Powell of all people has to appear on MSNBC to slam fake reporting you know mainstream media has lost the plot.

    In a rare moment, the former Secretary of State under Bush slammed the wall-to-wall coverage of the Russian bounties in Afghanistan story as “almost hysterical”. It's all the more awkard for MSNBC, which had him on the network Thursday to talk about it, given he's one of those 'never Trump' Bush-era officials, who despite a legacy of having fed the world lie after lie to invade Iraq, has since been given "resistance hero" status among liberals.

    Describing that military commanders on the ground didn't give credence to The New York Times claim that Russia's GRU was paying Taliban and other militants to kill American soldiers, Powell said the media “got kind of out of control” in the first days after the initial report weeks ago.

    “I know that our military commanders on the ground did not think that it was as serious a problem as the newspapers were reporting and television was reporting,” Powell told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “It got kind of out of control before we really had an understanding of what had happened. I’m not sure we fully understand now.”

    “It’s our commanders who are going to go deal with this kind of a threat, using intelligence given to them by the intelligence community,” Powell continued. “But that has to be analyzed. It has to be attested. And then you have to go find out who the enemy is. And I think we were on top of that one, but it just got almost hysterical in the first few days.”

    He also deflated the ongoing manufactured atmosphere which seeks to maintain a perpetual Washington hawkish position vis-a-vis Moscow, based on perceived "Russian aggression".

    “I don’t think we’re in a position to go to war with the Russians,” Powell said. “I know Mr. Putin rather well. He’s just figuring out a way to stay in power until 2036. The last thing he’s looking for is a war, and the last thing he’s looking for is a war with the United States of America.”

    Published:7/10/2020 4:30:33 PM
    [Markets] Market Recap: Friday, July 10 Stocks rose Friday, with the Nasdaq Composite hit another record high. This comes after Gilead Sciences announced that its remdesivir treatment reduced the risk of death for COVID-19 patients, based on new data from the company. The Final Round panel breaks down the details. Published:7/10/2020 4:00:10 PM
    [Markets] Ghislaine Maxwell Hires Elite Legal Team To Face US Prosecutors Ghislaine Maxwell Hires Elite Legal Team To Face US Prosecutors Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 16:45

    Accused sex-trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell has hired a fleet of powerhouse attorneys to defend her against federal charges that she procured underage girls as young as 14 for sexual encounters with deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

    According to Bloomberg Law, "Maxwell will confront federal prosecutors with years of experience in New York courts and deep knowledge of the child sex-trafficking allegations surrounding her and her former lover Jeffrey Epstein."

    For her own legal team, Maxwell has assembled the mirror image -- attorneys with years of experience practicing in New York courts and also with deep knowledge of the allegations against her and Epstein.

    Maxwell’s hired two pairs of law partners, one from New York, the other from Denver. The New Yorkers -- Christopher Everdell and Mark Cohen -- were once federal prosecutors while the Denver duo -- Laura Menninger and Jeffrey Pagliuca -- has defended Maxwell in civil lawsuits by Epstein’s victims.

    ...

    Everdell spent more than a decade working for the government, focusing on complex frauds, cybercrime, terrorism and international narcotics cases. In 2014, the Federal Drug Agent Foundation cited Everdell and his team for their work in the investigation and apprehension of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

    Cohen served in the federal prosecutors office in Brooklyn, New York, where he was part of a team that convicted Thomas Pitera, a Bonnano organized-crime family hit man known for dismembering his victims.

    Both former public defenders with experience in sex-crimes cases, Menninger and Pagliuca have represented Maxwell in civil lawsuits by women who claim she helped Epstein recruit them for underage sex, with Maxwell participating in some of the sexual assaults. -Bloomberg Law

    Former Manhattan federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers thinks Maxwell's approach is 'savvy,' and that her attorneys Menninger and Pagliuca "know all the facts, so this seems like a smart strategy."

    Prosecutors say the 58-year-old Maxwell, Epstein's longtime 'madam' according to accusers, spent years as a central figure in his criminal enterprise. Epstein died last August in a New York jail cell in what was officially ruled a suicide.

    Maxwell’s lawyers will have to review millions of pages of evidence the U.S. has collected over the decades. While her lawyers haven’t yet disclosed their legal strategy, they’ll have to confront the allegations as well as the emotional testimony from women who’ve come forward and accused Maxwell of engaging in and enabling their abuse.

    More than a dozen women accused Epstein of abusing them but according to prosecutors, three were victims of both Maxwell and the financier. -Bloomberg Law

    "It’s a very smart for the defense to hire and obtain local counsel who can guide them," said New York criminal defense lawyer Marvyn Kornberg, adding that Everdell and Cohen "know their way around, they know people in the prosecutor’s office and they can, if they want, try to work out a deal. They can operate with knowledge about what’s going on with the other side, which can’t be done as well by lawyers who practice primarily in Colorado."

    Meanwhile, former Cohen colleague Jonathan Sack thinks Maxwell's legal team will be in a good position to form a strategy to counter the DOJ.

    "Mark is a thoughtful lawyer who will know his case, understand it and have a good sense of what the prosecution is doing and what the options are for the defense," said Sack. "He’ll carefully assess the strengths and weaknesses in the government’s case and will have a good feeling for how a jury would view the facts as well as his client."

    Published:7/10/2020 4:00:10 PM
    [Markets] Netflix stock finishes up 8% at record high Netflix stock finishes up 8% at record high Published:7/10/2020 3:30:09 PM
    [Markets] Stocks Finish Up on Virus Treatment Hopes - Nasdaq at Record Stocks end higher as new data from Gilead Sciences tout the effectiveness of the drugmaker's developing coronavirus treatment. Published:7/10/2020 3:30:09 PM
    [Markets] As Long As Mass Media Propaganda Exists, Democracy Is A Sham As Long As Mass Media Propaganda Exists, Democracy Is A Sham Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 16:25

    Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

    A new Reuters/Ipsos poll has reportedly found that a majority of Americans believe the completely discredited narrative that the Russian government paid Taliban-linked fighters to kill the occupying forces of the US and its allies in Afghanistan.

    “A majority of Americans believe that Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan last year amid negotiations to end the war, and more than half want to respond with new economic sanctions against Moscow, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday,” Reuters reports.

    Overall, 60% of Americans said they found reports of Russian bounties on American soldiers to be ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ believable, while 21% said they were not credible and the rest were unsure,” says Reuters.

    Those 21 percent are objectively correct: the story is not credible, and it’s not even close. Gareth Porter shows in The Grayzone how the “Bountygate” narrative is so utterly baseless that even US intelligence agencies have dismissed it, Joe Lauria of Consortium News explains how it doesn’t make any sense on its face, and FAIR’s Alan MacLeod breaks down the appalling journalistic malpractice that went into circulating this incredibly thinly sourced story to the mainstream public.

    The story advances no solid facts or verified information. What it does advance is pre-existing imperialist agendas like remaining in Afghanistan, killing the last of the remaining nuclear deals with Moscow, and manufacturing public support for new Russia sanctions.

    And yet a majority of people believed it, and still believe it.

    The narrative that Russia paid Taliban fighters to kill occupying forces is now regarded as an established fact in many key circles, despite being backed by literally zero facts.

    If people were as objective and adept at critical thinking as we tend to believe we are, the mass media’s unconscionable facilitation of a brazen cold war psyop would by itself have killed off all public trust in the institution of mass news reporting. But people are not as objective and adept at critical thinking as we tend to believe we are. People have many cognitive biases which distort our ability to objectively process information and understand events, including one which causes us to believe something is true just because they’ve heard it said multiple times. This makes us easily susceptible to mass media propaganda, where our encounters with daily news headlines can shape our perception of what’s going on in the world regardless of whether or not those headlines are backed by actual facts.

    This latest poll is a perfect example of how the plutocrat-owned media manipulate public opinion in the interest of establishment agendas using brazen propaganda campaigns, but it is just the most recent example. Over and over and over again we see public perception of what’s going on distorted by lies inserted into their minds by the corporate news media, like when half a year after the invasion of Iraq seven in ten Americans believed Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. All it took to trick them into believing this and supporting the invasion was repeatedly mentioning 9/11 and Saddam in the same breath, despite there never being any evidence whatsoever for any such thing.

    This kind of manipulation is not rare, it is ubiquitous and ongoing. Every single day the plutocratic media are putting ideas in people’s minds which favor the establishment upon which said plutocrats have built their kingdoms, normalizing the insane status quo and manufacturing support for agendas which bolster it. This is not some delusional conspiracy theory, it’s a well-documented fact to which many mainstream journalists have testified.

    As long as this remains the case in our society, democracy cannot exist in any meaningful way. As long as a loose alliance of plutocrats and government operatives are able to consistently manipulate the way a critical mass of people think and vote, then you cannot rightly say that the people are in charge of the fate of their nation. If the majority is consistently in alignment with the plutocrats whose outsized media influence enables them to dominate the public narrative, then voting necessarily reflects the will of those plutocrats, not the people.

    Even if you changed everything else that is wrong with the current system, nothing would change if the plutocratic class retained its ability to manipulate the way people think and vote. You can fix America’s garbage election integrity, end gerrymandering, even get money out of politics, but as long as the plutocratic class is still using its wealth to manipulate public thought in support of its interests, people would keep voting the way they’re manipulated to vote.

    Manipulation is a key ingredient in any long-term abusive relationship, because people don’t tend to stay in abusive situations unless they are manipulated into doing so. This is true whether you’re talking about romantic partnerships, governments, or globe-spanning power structures. We don’t use the power of our numbers to end this abusive relationship where we are at the whim of crushing austerity, exploitative neoliberalism, endless war and rapacious ecocide, because we’re being manipulated into staying.

    And, just like with any other abusive relationship, there comes a time to leave before it’s too late. That time is now. We can begin by expanding awareness of what’s really going on, both inwardly in ourselves and outwardly by sharing truthful information with others. In so doing, we stand a chance at making ourselves impossible to propagandize effectively and using our strength in numbers to force real change.

    *  *  *

    Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics onTwitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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    Published:7/10/2020 3:30:09 PM
    [Markets] Big-Tech Bid, Small-Caps Skid As Gold Hits 9 Year Highs Big-Tech Bid, Small-Caps Skid As Gold Hits 9 Year Highs Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 16:01

    On the week, Nasdaq has soared higher once again, notably divergent from the rest of the markets with Small Caps actually down on the week...

    Which has sent the ratio of Megacap-Tech to Small Caps back near a record high...

    Source: Bloomberg

    Nasdaq is up 8 of the last 9 days and 17 of the last 20 days - this is easy!!!

    Interestingly, today saw the week's performances flip with Small Caps surging as Nasdaq slipped. Markets were sold at the cash open then immediately ramped higher...

    Spot the odd market out (Chinese stock speculation re-erupted this week)...

    Source: Bloomberg

    Median US stocks continue to diverge significantly from the handful of megatech stocks driving the Nasdaq ever higher...

    Source: Bloomberg

    Notably Defensives and Cyclicals have rallied tick for tick higher since the European close yesterday - very unusual moving together...

    Source: Bloomberg

    And then there's TSLA - up from $1000 to $1500 in 7 days...

    And who's buying?

    TSLA's now as big as JPMorgan... and TSLA is now bigger than Ford + GM + BMW + Daimler + Volkswagen combined

    Source: Bloomberg

    Treasury yields touched a two month lows today...

    Source: Bloomberg

    Then ripped back higher with 5Y and 2Y unch on the week, the long-end still notably lower (and the curve flatter)...

    Source: Bloomberg

    The Dollar ended lower on the week, chopping around in a tight range...

    Source: Bloomberg

    Cryptos were all higher on the week, led by Ripple...

    Source: Bloomberg

    Copper was the week's high-flier as China erupted in speculative excess. Oil was down...

    Source: Bloomberg

    Big intraweek drop in WTI was bid back above $40...

    Silver held above $19...

    And gold clung to $1800...

    Spot Gold reached back to its highest since 2011...

    Finally, you have to laugh right...

    Bonds ain't buying it...

    Source: Bloomberg

    Because fun-durr-mentals...

    Source: Bloomberg

    Published:7/10/2020 3:10:08 PM
    [Markets] A ‘Hippocratic oath’ for financial advisers? The SEC’s new ‘Regulation Best Interest’ gets mixed reviews. It’s always been hard to get good investment advice and critics say a new SEC rule won’t help.
    Published:7/10/2020 3:10:08 PM
    [Markets] One Bank Admits The Markets Have Never Been More Broken, So Here's What Happens Next One Bank Admits The Markets Have Never Been More Broken, So Here's What Happens Next Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 15:25

    With every passing day, the bizarre freakshow that was once known as the "market" gets even more bizarre.

    And we use the term "market" only in its loosest, legacy sense, one where it represented more than just the centrally-planned intentions of a few central bankers and politicians. Why? Because as BofA's CIO Michael Hartnett reminds us in his latest Flow Show report, the disconnect between macro and markets has never been greater - i.e., they have never been more broken - but that is to be expected for the following three reasons:

    1. Markets rationally being "irrational": government and corporate bonds have been fixed ("nationalized") by central banks, so why would anyone expect markets to connect with macro, why should credit & stocks price rationally.
    2. Markets leading macro: policy makers (see China this week) know higher asset prices necessary condition for macro recovery (Wall St assets are 5.6x size of US GDP)...


      ...V-shape recovery on Wall St leading V-shape recovery on Main St (see PMI's & housing activity); gasoline demand good US mobility signal, up sharply to 9mn barrel/day from spring lows, watch to see if virus again negatively impacts economy.
    3. Markets rationally pricing-in Max Liquidity, Minimal Growth backdrop, as they have done for 10 years; of 3042 stocks in MSCI ACWI currently 2141 >20% below their all-time highs, i.e. in a bear market.

    Also consider this: if the S&P500 (3230 on Jan 1st) was just "tech, health care, Amazon, Google" it would now be 4173 , and if the S&P were "everything else" it would be 2924. No secret here, but US tech outperformance over US banks past 6 months biggest since 1999 tech bubble & 2008 GFC.

    So while markets may be broken - as one would expect in a world where central banks have taken over all price discovery - three key trends remain and are totally unchanged for 2020. Per BofA:

    • Central bank liquidity drives asset prices;
    • Credit prices drive equities;
    • Sellers' strike in credit & tech mirrored by buyers' strike in value stocks & banks.

    Some other observations from BofA's CIO on what was once a "market":

    Cash & gold the big inflow winners in 2020;

    Gold inflows on cumulative basis at all-time high:

    Discounting all-time high in price; largest inflow to China funds ($6.1bn) since Jul'15 (and 2nd inflow largest ever):

    So with stocks now fully mandated and no longer discount the future or respond to fundamentals or news, does this mean that stocks will rise indefinitely until eventually the population burns down the Marriner Eccles building? According to Hartnett the answer is now, and while stocks see bullish drivers of Positioning & Policy into the summer, these will peak just as the autumn begins, at which point bulls will require profits to surprise to upside allowing rally in risk assets to broaden into HY, value stocks, small cap and so on; At the same time, bears will argue that big 2020 underperformance of banks a signal of no economic hope & sinister repeat of 1999 & 2008; According to Hartnett, these are the catalysts required to boost banks:

    1. Vaccine: most likely catalyst for big GDP & EPS upward revisions H2 and flip from growth to value.

    2. Fiscal: 2020 policy stimulus has been massive ($18.5tn of which $10.5tn in fiscal & $8.0tn in monetary = 21% global GDP) (Chart 5) and coordinated (1st time in years monetary & fiscal, like two wheels of a bicycle, moving quickly in same direction working together); banks the natural hedge for fiscal success (key barometer to watch = small business confidence surveys, e.g. NFIB) in stimulating animal spirits.

    3. Politics: rising probability of political "blue wave" i.e. Democrats winning White House, Senate, Congress (latest Oddschecker.com probabilities…Biden win 57%, Real Clear Politics probability…Dem Senate 62%); Table 2 shows annualized returns following 7 out of 21 "blue waves" since 1928...returns, more obviously in bonds, below historic averages after Dem "clean sweep" but outperformance of value over growth more pronounced; "Blue Deal" fiscal stimulus in 2021 via infrastructure, student debt forgiveness, health care spending positive value & banks.

    4. Risk-taking: bank deposits up $2.2tn since end-Feb but bank loans up only $0.5tn vs cash/reserves up $1.3tn and UST+MBS holdings up $0.3tn (Chart 6); bank stocks tied-at-the-hip to interest rates (Chart 7).

    If and when Fed/ECB/BoJ can ever raise interest rates global banks will become the instant leadership; ironically introduction by Fed of Yield Curve Control in Sept may in typical contrarian fashion trigger a rally in banks; but the other irony is that sustained bank performance first requires risk-taking to boost economic growth & interest rate expectations in 2021 & 2022; until then bank stock bulls will focus on China (has led virus, market & macro recovery) & Europe (start of fiscal stimulus).

    Published:7/10/2020 2:32:01 PM
    [Markets] Dow Jones Set To Post Weekly Gain; Netflix Stock Soars To New Highs The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose on today's stock market as Netflix stock jumped to new highs of 555.88 on analyst upgrades. Published:7/10/2020 2:32:00 PM
    [Markets] Real-Time Data Shows That After Peaking In Late June, Consumer Spending Is Now Declining Real-Time Data Shows That After Peaking In Late June, Consumer Spending Is Now Declining Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 14:49

    When we last looked at real-time consumer spending data one month ago, we saw a stunning rebound in Bank of America credit and debit card spending trends, with total card spending ex-autos essentially recovering pre-covid levels by early June.

    No doubt, a big part of this was due to the surge in Personal Income since the start of the current recession, which as we explained earlier was a function of the extremely generous fiscal stimulus which meant that on a per capita basis, claimants received roughly $788/week ($41k annualized) on average, well above the usual amount of roughly $300 in a normal labor environment ($15-$16k annualized).

    Unfortunately, both this massive government handout and this impressive spending spree are now is coming to an end, and as JPM writes, in data through Sunday, July 5, the bank's tracker of spending by a panel of 30 million Chase credit and debit cardholders remains below its recent peak on June 22, and it appears to have flattened out at this lower level as COVID-19 spreads rapidly in some parts of the country.

    What is notable, is that contrary to widespread anecdotes that sunbelt states have led the slowdown in spending, JPM notes that this modest pullback in nationwide spending has not been driven by a sharp pullback concentrated in states where the virus has spread rapidly, but instead by modest pullbacks that are widespread across states. On the other hand, this pattern raises the concern that behavior has not changed enough to stem the spread of the virus in the hardest-hit states.

    To be sure, holidays like July 4 can make it difficult to distinguish signal from noise in high-frequency data, and some methods of calculating over-year-ago spending comparisons have naturally swung dramatically in recent days given the timing of the holiday. But even when looking through these swings, spending has begun to flatten out at a somewhat lower level than the peak seen on June 22.

    JPM also points out that the pullback in spending since late June has been widespread across states. There is some correlation between the spread of the virus over the last two weeks and the pullback in spending, but the correlation has been modest so far. This pattern suggests that there are some cautious consumers in all states who have pulled back on spending as the virus has resumed its spread, but that the rapid spread of the virus in certain states has not produced a significant change in behavior by the entire population in these states.

    To be fair, there are somewhat larger recent declines in spending in buckets likely to be most affected by the spread of the virus. For example, “card-present” (essentially in-person) spending has fallen more in Texas than in New York, and spending by Texas millennials—which had returned to year-ago levels by mid-June— has fallen more than by New York millennials. Still, the bank's economists are most struck by the relatively small differences in changes in behavior across these groups in recent weeks.

    Meanwhile, and as we first pointed out last week, JPM has observed a correlation between spending levels and the subsequent spread of the virus three weeks ago, and it has remained strong over the last three weeks. Indeed, to date the bank finds that states with higher levels of spending—especially card-present restaurant spending—have seen more rapid growth of the virus in subsequent weeks.

    To summarize, JPM has documented two important facts about the interaction between spending and the spread of the virus—higher spending levels have predicted the spread of the virus, but spending levels have not fallen much in the states where the virus has spread most rapidly recently.  These two facts raise the concern that behavior in the hardest-hit states has not changed enough to stem the spread of the virus going forward.

    Still, it is possible that other behavioral changes that we cannot measure could stop the spread. As one example, it is possible that the relationship between restaurant spending and virus spread is just a correlation, and that it could possibly be driven by other behaviors like going to bars or parties which are correlated with restaurant spending. With bars now closed again in Texas, Florida, and southern California, it is possible that the spread of the virus will slow even as restaurant spending remains high. But the facts shown in JPM data do not present much reason for optimism.

    Published:7/10/2020 2:08:13 PM
    [Markets] : Tesla stock gains more than 6%, keeps $1,500 within sights
    Published:7/10/2020 2:08:13 PM
    [Markets] Dow Jones Rallies Despite Possible 737 Max Order Cancellation for Boeing, Dismal Bank Earnings Expected Next Week American Airlines threatened to cancel 737 Max orders, and an analyst expects bank earnings to fall dramatically in the second quarter. Published:7/10/2020 2:08:13 PM
    [Markets] Philip Morris is touting a 'safer' product to replace cigarettes if sales dry up Philip Morris is touting a 'safer' product to replace cigarettes if sales dry up Published:7/10/2020 1:32:24 PM
    [Markets] Dow jumps as Gilead says drug reduces COVID-19 death risk Dr. Alison Haddock,Emergency Medicine Physician and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Baylor University, joins Yahoo Finance’s Zack Guzman to break down the latest coronavirus developments. Published:7/10/2020 1:32:24 PM
    [Markets] Fondling In Plain Sight: Austin Police Under Fire Over Viral Video Of "Routine" Traffic Stop Fondling In Plain Sight: Austin Police Under Fire Over Viral Video Of "Routine" Traffic Stop Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 14:15

    A routine traffic stop has resulted in widespread outrage after an Austin, Texas police officer performed a search of a young woman while a crowd of onlookers filmed the incident.

    Video which appeared online Tuesday resulted in a storm of controversy. While police say the officer acted "appropriately," the woman has accused the officer of sexual assault, given that while he patted her down looking for drugs or weapons he appeared to grope her breasts.

    Police said the woman was taken into custody due to "multiple hazardous traffic violations". A report in Yahoo News/Insider.com describes of the viral video of the incident:

    In the video, which circulated Tuesday, the woman, identified by police as Rosalinda Nuno Trevino, demands a female officer while the officer continues to search the woman in front of a parked police vehicle.

    In a statement published on July 7, the Austin Police Department defended the officer's conduct. It said the officer, who has not been publicly identified, told Trevino that a female officer wasn't available.

    The woman is heard yelling for a female officer to do the pat down, but Austin police said in a later statement that no female officers were present at the time.

    Austin PD said further that protocol was followed, given the presence of an additional officer assisting the arrest and that the pat down was done clearly in front of police cameras and without attempt to conceal the invasive procedure. 

    "He conducted the search in front of a police vehicle where a vehicle camera could document and at least one other officer was present, as required by APD policy," the Austin PD statement reads

    The video further includes an angry crowd onlookers, with one man yelling: 

    'Don't you f***ing touch her like that. Get your f***ing hands off her. Get a female officer in here now she's f***ing being manhandled!'

    Austin police policy states that female searches will be conducted as follows: "Officers will use the backside of their hands and fingers to frisk/search sensitive areas of the opposite gender to include the breast, crotch, and buttocks."

    Police also defended the officer's actions given he informed the young woman that no female police were available and that he was about to perform the search.

    After she's seen angrily lodging a protest and is in visible discomfort, the officer actually slides his hand under her breast a second time, which further enrages the onlookers. There's now widespread calls for the officer's dismissal. 

    Published:7/10/2020 1:32:24 PM
    [Markets] Therese Poletti's Tech Tales: This California legislator is taking on SmileDirectClub Assemblymember Evan Low is not what most people would consider anti-technology. But in the past year, he has become a rare legislator willing to take on the controversial and litigious tele-dentistry company, SmileDirectClub Inc.
    Published:7/10/2020 1:32:24 PM
    [Markets] The Bottom's Falling Out The Bottom's Falling Out Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 13:45

    Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

    Imagine you’re standing across the street from a house that’s on the verge of falling apart, a condemned building, an edifice devoured by rot from bottom to top. Now imagine you see a construction crew arriving to repair it, and they start to fix the roof. You would think that’s not much use if the walls, floor and foundation are just one wolf’s huff and puff away from collapse.

    Still, that is what the world’s central banks are doing today: they “fix” the top by bailing out banks and allege that somehow that will fix the rest of the edifice too. In that same analogy, while central banks prop up banks, governments try to support the walls, by bailing out businesses. Again, while the floors and foundations keep on rotting away. And when the floors cave in, so of course will the walls, just like the roof.

    There may appear to be some logic to all this, but it’s only the “inner logic” of an economic and political ideology that deals exclusively with how things should be, not how they are. Of course it’s nice to have a shiny new roof, and strong walls. But neither have any value if there are no more floors to support them.

    This is what is happening today to our economies and societies. The 2008 crisis wasn’t bad enough to expose the failures of the “inner logic” of the system, but the fallout of COVID19 will be. And it’s not the virus that does it all, or the lockdowns, they merely expose a system that’s been rotting for many years without its floors and foundations ever being repaired.

    (And yes, you’re right, the central banks are not merely fixing the roof, they’re gold-plating it for good measure).

    So you got the Fed team working on the roof and the government team working on the walls, and absolutely nobody working on the floors and foundations. And at some point you’re going to have to ask what these people actually know about building and construction, even about gravity: are they aware that roofs and walls are infinitely more dependent on solid floors than floors are on them?

    Actually, I think they are. They just don’t think it’s possible that the floor may fall out from underneath them (i.e. they deny gravity). But that is what is threatening to happen. Not only in the US, but all over the western world. And if there’s one thing you don’t want to happen to your house, or your economy/society, it’s for the bottom to fall out. Because where will you live?

    Still, with headlines such as

    “More Than Half Of The US Population Is Not Working”,

    “50 Million Americans Have Lost Their Job In Past 6 Weeks”,

    “42 Million Unemployed, 25.5% Unemployment Rate”,

    “52% Of Small Businesses Expect To Be Out Of Business Within Six Months”,

    “53% Of Restaurants Closed Amid Coronavirus Have Shuttered Permanently”,

    “US Retail Apocalypse: Over 25,000 Stores Could Close By Year End”,

    ...and more of the same on the way, we should at least consider the possibility of the bottom falling out, and prepare accordingly.

    It’s one thing to want to save the businesses, but if you have huge amounts of people who can’t afford to buy anything from them, businesses will inevitably fail in huge numbers. If the bottom threatens to fall out, you need to focus on saving the floor and foundations, the people, not the businesses. Nothing to do with socialism or anything like that, but with preserving your society as a going concern.

    The first thing I didn’t quite get, but then again did, was that all the PPP’s and their equivalents, the various global payment protection programs, were aimed at protecting businesses by guaranteeing wages and salaries of their employees. What an odd idea, I thought. After all, if you want to protect wages, there is no reason to do that through a business, you might as well pay the employee directly.

    If you pay the business which must then pay the employee, how would that help or protect that business? By giving off the false impression it can still pay the wages? Of course, if you do pay it through businesses, at least no-one can bring up a theme such as Universal Basic Income, anymore than they can MMT. While you in effect practice both, you can also deny practicing either. Pretty smart, right? Neat!

    But turn this around for a moment. Say the governments pay the wages and salaries. These are the biggest cost for many if not most businesses, certainly the small ones, which are, obviously, the most vulnerable to sudden events like a pandemic and lockdown. So as a government, you take that liability, and that risk, away.

    It would appear that then you can assess much better how viable such a business really is. Because a business that doesn’t have to pay its biggest cost should be able to survive for a few months, even if there’s no revenue coming in, unless it has deeper problems, like -too much- debt. The advantages for everyone are clear: less paperwork for government and business owner, guaranteed wages for employees, and a better view of a business’s financial situation for everyone.

    Not that you should pay employees 100% of their wages, as many countries have. You would only do that if you think the problems will be over soon, but in reality you have no idea if they will be. You need to support the lowest-paid people -because they are the bottom that’s about to fall out- but as you work your way up to higher wages, you start taking off a percentage, rinse and repeat, and end up paying maybe $50,000 to people who made $100,000 (and yes, that goes for government employees too).

    Why would you hand someone, anyone, over $100,000 for not working? Of course there are people with mortgages and car loans that are so elevated that they need more than $100,000 to keep their families alive, but that is a different story. That does not deal with the bottom falling out. For those cases, you need a separate program. Just like you do for businesses that still can’t survive once all their wages have been taken care of by the government.

    Obviously, as Midwest small businessman Bruce Wilds said recently in his guest post here, Small Business Firings to Start, for some businesses showrooms, or inventory, taxes, utilities, can be major liabilities. Again, separate program. Support the bottom, the people, first. Because it’s urgent. Because you risk too many people having too little to survive on. In fact, so many that your businesses come under threat from having no customers left.

    As one of its first measures, Greece, when it went into lockdown, lowered rents for businesses by 40%, without as much as a plan for how to compensate landlords. That’s the spirit. But it’s a spirit few will understand, let alone politicians. In the end, the reality is that most landlords and mortgage lenders will get less money. For a long time. You can try to help everyone out with cheap loans to individuals and businesses to pay off their mortgages, but that’s a just another short term plan, and has nothing to do with long time views.

    And cheap loans won’t save the bottom from falling out. If you put it like that, people will actually understand: you don’t save a failing economy by pouring in cheap money. any more than a lick of paint will save a condemned building.

    But at the same time, that’s all our political systems manage to come up with. While fervently hoping for, counting on, a miraculous recovery, and planning to make the poor pay by raising taxes when we’re “back to normal”. It’s just that there comes a time when the poor have nothing left to pay with, not even for their food. That’s when the bottom falls out.

    To be continued. I have much more to say on this. Like: what to do now?

    Look, it’s quite simple really: if you ask yourself, or your friends, or someone on the street, if they think the economy will recover within a “reasonable” timeframe, most will say yes.

    Conditioned by politicians, by the media, and by their own fear of what will be their fate if it doesn’t. But that is a giant blind spot.

    If half of businesses and half or restaurants are shut for good where ever it is you live, where would that recovery have to come from? Do ask yourself that question, and try not to be afraid of the answer for a moment.

    Published:7/10/2020 1:00:54 PM
    [Markets] Dow Rises as Gilead Spurs Hope for Coronavirus Treatment Stocks are higher as new data from Gilead Sciences tout the effectiveness of the drugmaker's developing coronavirus treatment. Published:7/10/2020 1:00:54 PM
    [Markets] Philip Morris says cigarette sales in many places could end in a decade and they’ve got a ‘safer’ product to replace them Philip Morris is encouraging stakeholders to work with them to move smokers to cigarette alternatives at a time with cigarette consumption is declining.
    Published:7/10/2020 1:00:54 PM
    [Markets] New Pneumonia With "Much Higher Fatality Rate Than COVID" Discovered In Kazakhstan, China Says New Pneumonia With "Much Higher Fatality Rate Than COVID" Discovered In Kazakhstan, China Says Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 13:31

    With a new cluster of cases prompting school closures and Hong Kong, and a team of "independent" WHO investigators beginning their inquiry into the earliest days of the outbreak, is it any surprise that the Beijing propaganda machine is pumping out stories about new and even more deadly pathogens emerging outside China's borders?

    On Thursday, the Global Times reported that a new form of pneumonia had been discovered in Kazakhstan that is even more deadly than SARS-CoV-2. The report was couched in the form of a "travel warning" issued by Beijing's embassy in Astana (yes, we know that's no longer the city's official name).

    According to the report, this new disease, which is of unknown origin, had a "much higher" fatality rate than COVID-19, which has infected more than 50,000 people in the country.

    The Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan on Thursday warned Chinese citizens living in the country of a local pneumonia of unknown cause, which local media reported has a "much higher" fatality rate than COVID-19.

    The unknown pneumonia in Kazakhstan caused 1,772 deaths in the first six months of the year, including 628 people in June alone, including Chinese citizens, the embassy said in a statement on its WeChat platform on Thursday, citing Kazakh media reports.

    Little about this "new pneumonia" is understood, other than the fact that it has no connection to COVID-19, according to the report. The embassy promised to release more information, such as accurate and up-to-date numbers for deaths and infections. As we noted in the passage above, the disease caused 1,772 deaths in the first six months of the year, including 628 people in June alone, according to the embassy.

    No figures were shared about the exact fatality rate, though Kazakhstan's health department is studying this new "virus of this pneumonia" with extreme care.

    The embassy quoted local media as saying that since mid-June, almost 500 people have been infected with the pneumonia in three regions of Kazakhstan.

    Kazakhstan's healthcare minister said on Wednesday that the number of patients sickened by the pneumonia is two to three times more than those who have been infected with COVID-19, Kazakh news agency Kazinform reported.

    The minister said that it plans to publish accurate tallies of confirmed cases as early as next week, noting that while it's not necessary to publish the number, the public needs to know the true situation, Kazinform reported.

    According to official data, the number of pneumonia cases is 2.2 times greater this June than it was in 2019 when there were 1,700 cases, said the English version of the Kazinform report, which lacked details.

    Kazakhstan has reported 51,059 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 264 deaths as of press time, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus resource center.

    "The COVID-19 situation in Kazakhstan is under control," reads a statement sent by an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan to the Global Times on Thursday.

    The ministry's statement didn't respond to questions about the Chinese embassy's warning of the unknown pneumonia.

    In a hilarious move, the Kazakh government has denied the story, according to CNN.

    Even the WHO's Dr. Mike Ryan helped legitimize the Global Times story by confirming that the agency would be looking into the cases, despite the fact that they are likely "mostly COVID-19", as Dr. Ryan said.

    For those who aren't familiar with China's tactics regarding COVID-19, stories like this about other deadly forms of pneumonia being discovered abroad are intended to sow doubt in the minds of China's citizens. What if this new strain of pneumonia that has no connection to mainland China has also been killing tens of thousands of people around the world? What if everything being reported in the Western press actually doesn't tell the whole story?

    It's just another reminder that some of the best propaganda is often subtle.

    Published:7/10/2020 12:32:07 PM
    [Markets] How A $6 Billion Hedge Fund Steamrolled The Competition By Frontrunning The Fed How A $6 Billion Hedge Fund Steamrolled The Competition By Frontrunning The Fed Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 12:44

    Following ten years of dismal performance ("oddly" starting with the outlawing of insider trading platforms known as "expert network"), 2020 has been another dire year for the 2 and 20 crowd, with more hedge funds going of business during the first three months of 2020 than at any other time since 2015 as the coronavirus led to heavy losses and investors pulled out billions in assets.

    Yet in some ways we find it bizarre that so many investing professionals are finding it so difficult to create alpha in this environment, where two strategies continue to work like clockwork.

    The first one, as we first presented here seven years ago, has been doing the opposite of the fund management crowd, and going short the most beloved names, and buying the most shorted names. None other than BofA confirmed what we first said almost a decade ago, namely that "buying the 10 most underweight stocks and selling the 10 most overweight stocks by active funds has generated alpha in the past years with the exception of 2017."

    The other strategy is even simpler: just do what the Fed is doing, and ideally front run it as the world's biggest asset manager Blackrock said it would do going forward, much to the chagrin of expert strategists everywhere whose job has been reduced to simply anticipating what asset class Jerome Powell & Co. will buy next.

    A good example of the latter strategy is the venerable UBS O'Connor hedge fund, which steamrolled most of its peers in the first half with relative-value trades that shorted pandemic-struck stocks while going long bonds, and which as Bloomberg reports "is now pouncing on the market’s next dislocations."

    The $6.1 billion fund - which is UBS asset management's direct investing hedge fund business, and became available to outside investors in June 2000 - gained 11.5% through the end of June, while its relative value peer group lost 5.1% over the period, according to Hedge Fund Research. The fund returned 9% last year.

    How did the UBS fund do so well where others suffered? As Bloomberg explains, the UBS team engaged in classical relative value pair trades, such as selling the stock of an airline while buying its credit. That paid off handsomely once the Federal Reserve backstopped corporate bonds by directly purchasing them in the open market and stoked a rally that’s lifted the credit of the riskiest companies which are foundering in an uneven stock recovery.

    "We aggressively grossed up risk across all our credit strategies as the Fed embarked on its monetary policy support program," Kevin Russell, the New York-based chief investment officer of the UBS O’Connor fund, said in a phone interview. "Trades in credit versus equity in distressed corporates was a significant driver of performance," he said, without detailing returns.

    In other words, all one had to do to generate impressive first half returns was to frontrun the Fed's purchases of bonds.

    What about the second half? According to Bloomberg, the UBS team is focused on risks stemming from the U.S. election. Fund CIO Russell, who ran Citigroup global equity trading desk until 2015, sees the possibility of a Democratic sweep and a regime of higher taxes knocking 10% to 15% off S&P 500 earnings, echoing what Goldman's clients have been concerned about.

    "The U.S. election is a very obvious and large risk that’s standing out there,” Russell said. “That’ll be a big story, probably in September, and that’s what we’re focused on."

    More recently, Russell has been grabbing bonds going cheap on the new-issue market, where the riskiest U.S. companies have borrowed more than ever in June.

    "Routinely we see individual bonds that look very attractive relative to other bonds, and usually it’s just a function of the liquidity and issuance, and it’s been a big source of our returns," the CIO said.

    Published:7/10/2020 12:05:22 PM
    [Markets] Dow Jones Leads Market On Coronavirus Vaccine Hopes, But Nasdaq Dips Into Red The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 200 points Friday afternoon as the stock market got a boost from bullish coronavirus vaccine news. Published:7/10/2020 12:05:22 PM
    [Markets] Coronavirus update: Health officials clamor for U.S. states to pause reopenings Coronavirus update: Health officials clamor for U.S. states to pause reopenings Published:7/10/2020 12:05:22 PM
    [Markets] The extra $600 Americans get in weekly unemployment benefits ends this month — how lawmakers are proposing to replace it Extending the extra $600 could discourage people from returning to work, some lawmakers say.
    Published:7/10/2020 12:05:21 PM
    [Markets] Fed's Kaplan says mask wearing will aid U.S. economy's recovery: Barron's on MW Fed's Kaplan says mask wearing will aid U.S. economy's recovery: Barron's on MW Published:7/10/2020 11:32:26 AM
    [Markets] Dow Jones Rallies 220 Points To Lead Stock Market; Is A Coronavirus Vaccine Near? The Dow Jones Industrial Average extended its gains to 200 points midday as the stock market got a boost from bullish coronavirus vaccine news. Published:7/10/2020 11:32:26 AM
    [Markets] Trump Says 'Phase 2' Trade Deal "Unlikely", Relationship With China "Severely Damaged": Live Updates Trump Says 'Phase 2' Trade Deal "Unlikely", Relationship With China "Severely Damaged": Live Updates Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 12:23

    One day after Democratic nominee Joe Biden tried to shameless ape the president's rhetoric on protecting the American worker, President Trump is once again ratcheting up his rhetoric on China, saying for the first time that a 'Phase 2' trade deal is 'unlikely' due to China's handling of the coronavirues, which has "severely damaged" the bilateral relationship.

    TRUMP SAYS PHASE TWO CHINA TRADE DEAL UNLIKELY AT THIS POINT

    TRUMP: OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHINA IS SEVERELY DAMAGED.

    It's probably safe to assume that 'Phase 1' is now all but dead (though China may or may not continue buying American agricultural commodities and energy products for as long as it wants, or needs, to), which is hardly surprising: skepticism about China holding up its end was high from the beginning, anyway.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Published:7/10/2020 11:32:26 AM
    [Markets] Key Words: With resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Trump signals rift with Fauci: ‘He’s made a lot of mistakes’ Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he has not briefed the president since June 2.
    Published:7/10/2020 11:32:26 AM
    [Markets] Dow's Rebound Strengthens As These Tech Stocks Cool Off; Is AMD Stock A Buy Again? AMD has yet to form a new base. However, watch for the stock to potentially retake a prior buy point of 57.08. Published:7/10/2020 10:58:52 AM
    [Markets] Weekend reads: A breakdown of all the COVID-19 relief programs for consumers Weekend reads: A breakdown of all the COVID-19 relief programs for consumers Published:7/10/2020 10:58:52 AM
    [Markets] Buchanan: The 'New Systemic Racism' That Is Coming Buchanan: The 'New Systemic Racism' That Is Coming Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 11:45

    Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

    Before our Black Lives Matter moment, one had not thought of the NBC networks as shot through with “systemic racism.”

    Yet, what other explanation is there for this week’s draconian personnel decision of NBCUniversal chairman Cesar Conde.

    According to Conde, the white share of NBC’s workforce, now 74% and divided evenly between men and women, will be chopped to 50%.

    Persons of color - Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and multiracial folks — are to rise from the present 26% of NBCUniversal’s workforce to 50%.

    What does this mean?

    White men will be slashed as a share of NBCUniversal’s employees from the present 38% to 25%, — a cut of one-third — and then capped to ensure that people of color and women reach and remain at 50%.

    White men can fall below one-fourth of the workforce, but their numbers will not be permitted to go any higher.

    To impose race and gender quotas like this on the workforce at NBCUniversal — half women, half persons of color — would seem to trample all over the spirit, if not the letter, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Why is Conde doing this?

    “(W)e have a unique responsibility to look like and reflect all of the people of the country we serve,” he says.

    But whence comes this responsibility, the realization of which means active discrimination against new employees because they are the wrong gender or race: i.e, they are unwanted white men?

    America has succeeded as a meritocracy where excellence was rewarded, be it in athletics or academics. Our Olympic teams have triumphed when we send the best we had in every event.

    This egalitarian and ideological revolt against excellence is also arising in Fairfax County, Virginia, at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, which, concedes The Washington Post, “often ranks as the top public high school in the United States.”

    Why does TJ have a problem? Writes the Post reporter, the school is “notorious for failing to admit black and Latino students.”

    Does TJ discriminate in its admissions against Blacks and Hispanics? Is the school a throwback to the old days of “massive resistance”?

    Of 486 students in the freshman class this fall at the school, the number of Black students is tiny, smaller even than the 3% of the class that is Hispanic. Is this yet another example of “white privilege” at work?

    Hardly. Whites make up only 17% of TJ’s incoming class.

    The problem, if it is a problem, is Asian Americans. Three in 4 members of the fall freshman class at TJ are of Asian heritage.

    Why do Asian American kids predominate? Are they being admitted on the basis of their race or ethnicity?

    No, again. Asians are 73% of the incoming class because they excelled on the admissions tests in math, reading and science, and on the essay-writing assignment.

    They won admission to TJ not based on their ethnicity or race but their academic excellence as demonstrated in standardized tests taken by students all over Fairfax and surrounding counties.

    Thomas Jefferson principal Ann Bonitatibus says of her school, “We do not reflect the racial composition” of the Fairfax County Public School System.

    No, it does not. But so what, if Thomas Jefferson ranks among the top STEM schools in the entire United States?

    And Bonitatibus’ comment raises a legitimate question:

    Is it possible to reflect the “racial composition” of Fairfax Country and to remain “the top public high school In the United States”?

    A related issue is up in California. In 1996, in a state referendum, Californians voted 55-45 to embed a colorblind amendment in their state constitution:

    “The State shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

    Clear, coherent and colorblind.

    The Democratic legislature, however, wants to be rid of this amendment as it outlaws the kind of racial and ethnic discrimination in which Sacramento wishes to engage.

    An amendment is on the November ballot to repeal the colorblind amendment and allow California to start discriminating again — in favor of African Americans and Hispanics and against Asians and white men — to alter the present racial balance in state university admissions and the awarding of state contracts.

    If this passes, more Hispanics and Blacks with lower test scores will be admitted to elite state schools like UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley, based on race, and fewer Asians and whites. Practices that were regarded as race discrimination and supposedly outlawed in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 will henceforth be seen as commendable and mandatory.

    There will be racial and ethnic discrimination, as in the days of segregation. Only the color of the beneficiaries and the color of the victims will be reversed.

    And that is the meaning of the BLM revolution, which might be encapsulated: “It’s our turn now!”

    Published:7/10/2020 10:58:52 AM
    [Markets] Goldman Spots An Ominous Turning Point In The US Coronavirus Pandemic Goldman Spots An Ominous Turning Point In The US Coronavirus Pandemic Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 11:25

    Earlier this week we asked if "everyone was wrong" about the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, when we pointed out that despite the surge in new covid-19 cases, which according to Bank of America was largely a function of far more widespread testing, deaths were declining.

    Specifically, we referred to a recent note by Nordea's strategist Andreas Steno Larsen, who was looking at the growing divergence between the number of new covid cases in the US and shrinking number of fatalities, and observed that "we are entering “crunch time” on fatalities since they should start to rise in early July given the lead/lag structure versus new cases."

    As Larsen further predicted, "if fatalities don’t spike early in July, then people will conclude that it’s probably spreading amongst a part of the population that is not as sensitive, or that it is a resulted of increased testing or that the virus has become less deadly as we move into the summer months. Governors in Texas, California and Florida seem to have concluded that the below correlation holds, but the jury is still out."

    His conclusion was that "the next 6-10 days will be crucial."

    With that in mind, we followed up on Larsen's prediction  one week later, and we found that there still no spike in fatalities at either the federal level or state level.

    Which prompted us to ask whether "most experts were wrong that the surge in cases would also lead to a spike in deaths?" We also showed recent data compiled by Deutsche Bank, which could explain the lack of a rise in the mortality rate. As DB's Jim Reid showed, unlike the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, there has been a major difference with the current covid crisis, namely in the age distribution of fatalities:

    As DB further pointed out, for Covid-19, the elderly have been overwhelmingly the worst hit. For the Spanish flu of 1918, the young working-age population were severely affected too. In fact, the death rate from pneumonia and influenza that year among 25-34 year olds in the United States was more than 50% higher than that for 65-74 year olds, "a remarkable difference to Covid-19."

    So was it the case that the latest wave of covid was simply far less dangerous than the Spanish Flu, or were we merely counting the chickens early? After all, as Larsen said 10 days ago, the crunch time could take as much as 10 days to emerge.

    Fast forwarding to today, in a troubling observation that suggests we may have indeed been premature with our optimistic assessment, Goldman's writes that on Thursday confirmed cases in the US increased by 63K, the largest daily increase observed in the country so far. More concerning, however, is that while new fatalities have not begun to climb substantially at the country-level, some states with high rates of case growth have started to see an acceleration in deaths, which as shown below, is Goldman's Chart of the Day.

    Still, as even Goldman concedes, the increase in new fatalities has not been as rapid as that of new cases, and just like BofA, Goldman adds that "This likely reflects, at least partially, greater testing, which has captured more low-risk cases and, perhaps, more high-risk cases at earlier stages of infection, resulting in a longer lag between confirmed cases and deaths."

    In a separate ominous observation, Goldman also notes that hospitalizations are rising nationally as well, and COVID-19 patients now occupy 7.4% of hospital beds nationwide, up 2% compared to two weeks ago. As the bank further details, "patients receiving treatment for COVID-19 in Arizona hospitals now occupy nearly a quarter of total capacity. In Texas, and Florida, COVID-19 patient occupancy is still doubling about every two weeks. In each of these three states new case growth is still high and accelerating. In Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, South Carolina, and Alabama, COVID-19 patients occupy at least 10% of total hospital capacity while available capacity is already quite low. Prevalence of symptoms and cases are still increasing in each of these states."

    Still, putting the rise in hospitalizations in context, even Arizona - the most severely impacted state - still has another 20% to go before it catches up to where NY and NJ were at their peak.

    Bottom line: it is still too early to rule out that the ongoing increase in cases across the US won't necessarily translate into higher deaths.

    Published:7/10/2020 10:28:42 AM
    [Markets] U.S. stocks eke out early gains in wake of Gilead’s remdesivir update U.S. stocks eke out early gains in wake of Gilead’s remdesivir update Published:7/10/2020 10:01:14 AM
    [Markets] Chinese Virologist Flees Hong Kong, Accuses Beijing Of COVID-19 Cover-Up Chinese Virologist Flees Hong Kong, Accuses Beijing Of COVID-19 Cover-Up Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 10:48

    A highly respected Chinese virologist has fled Hong Kong and says that the Chinese government knew about COVID-19 long before they claim they did, and that her supervisors - some of the top experts in the field - ignored research she was conducting at the onset of the pandemic which she says could have saved lives, according to an exclusive interview with Fox News.

    Dr. Li-Meng Yan, who specialized in virology and immunology at the Hong Kong School of Public Health, fled Hong Kong on April 28 on a Cathay Pacific flight to the United States, knowing that if she were caught she could be jailed or "disappeared."

    She adds that they likely had an obligation to tell the world, given their status as a World Health Organization reference laboratory specializing in influenza viruses and pandemics, especially as the virus began spreading in the early days of 2020.

    Yan, now in hiding, claims the government in the country where she was born is trying to shred her reputation and accuses government goons of choreographing a cyber-attack against her in hopes of keeping her quiet.

    Yan believes her life is in danger. She fears she can never go back to her home and lives with the hard truth that she’ll likely never see her friends or family there again.

    Still, she says, the risk is worth it. -Fox News

    "The reason I came to the U.S. is because I deliver the message of the truth of COVID," Yan told Fox from an undisclosed location.

    Yan says she was one of the first scientists in the world to study COVID-19 (aside from Wuhan researchers, perhaps) after he supervisor, Dr. Leo Poon, asked her to look into "the odd cluster of SARS-like cases coming out of mainland China at the end of December 2019," according to the report.

    "The China government refused to let overseas experts, including ones in Hong Kong, do research in China," she said. "So I turned to my friends to get more information."

    Yan's mainland colleagues - one of whom worked at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, allegedly told Yan on December 31 that the virus was transmissible between humans long before the CCP or the WHO reversed course and admitted this was possible. After she told her boss of this, "he just nodded," she says.

    Days after her CCP contacts told her about human-to-human transmission, the WHO put out a statement on January 9 saying: "According to Chinese authorities, the virus in question can cause severe illness in some patients and does not transmit readily between people... There is limited information to determine the overall risk of this reported cluster."

    The cover-up

    Yan said that discussion between colleagues in China about the disease took a sharp turn after "doctors and researchers who had been openly discussing the virus suddenly clammed up." Contacts in Wuhan went completely dark and others warned not to ask them about the virus - telling Yan "We can't talk about it, but we need to wear masks."

    "There are many, many patients who don't get treatment on time and diagnosis on time," said Yan, adding "Hospital doctors are scared, but they cannot talk. CDC staff are scared."

    She said she reported her findings to her supervisor again on Jan. 16 but that's when he allegedly told her "to keep silent, and be careful."

    "As he warned me before, 'Don't touch the red line,'" Yan said referring to the government. "We will get in trouble and we'll be disappeared."

    She also claims the co-director of a WHO-affiliated lab, Professor Malik Peiris, knew but didn't do anything about it.

    Peiris also did not respond to requests for comment. The WHO website lists Peiris as an "adviser" on the WHO International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Pneumonia due to the Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV.

    Yan was frustrated, but not surprised -Fox News

    "I already know that would happen because I know the corruption among this kind of international organization like the WHO to China government, and to China Communist Party," said Yan. "So basically... I accept it but I don't want this misleading information to spread to the world."

    WHO denies that Professor Malik Peiris directly works for the organization, telling Fox in a statement "Professor Malik Peiris is an infectious disease expert who has been on WHO missions and expert groups - as are many people eminent in their fields," adding "That does not make him a WHO staff member, nor does he represent WHO."

    Read the rest of the report here.

    Meanwhile, a local Beijing resident says the CCP is covering up new virus cases in a local neighborhood, according to the Epoch Times:

    Two people who live in the Liuyi residential compound, located in the city’s Daxing district, were recently found to be infected with the CCP virus, according to a resident named Ms. Li, who is familiar with local virus outbreak information.

    The entire compound, which is home to roughly 1,000 residents, was locked down after the new cases were discovered, on July 4; only one small gate remains open for grocery deliveries, she said. 

    However, the Beijing municipal health commission hasn’t reported any confirmed patients from the Liuyi compound in recent days. 

    Li shared with The Epoch Times a government list of local businesses and residential complexes that were mandated to conduct systematic disinfection and nucleic acid testing, including a total of 43 locations in Beijing.

    However, under the Daxing district category on the list, the Liuyi residential compound was missing, which Li believes is because Beijing authorities purposely sought to conceal the new infections. -Epoch Times

    Why would China go to such great lengths to cover up a naturally occurring outbreak of an ultra-virulent coronavirus that they insist wasn't created in one of their labs?

    Published:7/10/2020 10:01:14 AM
    [Markets] Retire Better: Does age matter for a presidential candidate? Yes, but it’s only part of the picture The one thing Biden, Trump — and you — must do to stay mentally sharp
    Published:7/10/2020 10:01:14 AM
    [Markets] Dow Moves Higher as Gilead Spurs Hope for Coronavirus Treatment Stocks were mixed as new data from Gilead Sciences tout the effectiveness of the drugmaker's developing coronavirus treatment. Published:7/10/2020 10:01:14 AM
    [Markets] Stock Market News for Jul 10, 2020 Wall Street closed mixed on Thursday growing concerns about the second wave of the coronavirus dented investors' confidence. Published:7/10/2020 9:29:13 AM
    [Markets] Weekend Sip: Post Malone joins the celebrity rosé bandwagon The pop star is the latest boldface name to offer the pink sipper.
    Published:7/10/2020 9:29:12 AM
    [Markets] Fed's Balance Sheet Posts Biggest Weekly Drop In Over 11 Years Fed's Balance Sheet Posts Biggest Weekly Drop In Over 11 Years Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 10:25

    After three months of unprecedented gains, which saw an increase of $3 trillion to $7.2 trillion, the Fed's balance sheet has posted its fourth consecutive weekly decline since the start of the corona crisis according to the latest H.4.1 statement.

    The drop in the week ended July 8 amounted to $88.3 billion, surpassing the steep drop recorded three week earlier, and was the biggest weekly drop since May 2009.

    However, as has been the case in the past three weeks, the drop in the balance sheet was not due to a reversal or even slowdown in QE which continues almost every single day, with the Fed adding another $18.2 billion in Treasurys even as the settlement calendar and prepays meant the amount of MBS was unchanged at $1.911 trillion (don't worry, the Fed is also buying about $4.5BN in MBS every day), but once again due to a decline in liquidity swaps, which shrank by $46.3 billion to $179.1 billion, after a $49.5 billion drop in the week prior and $77.5 billion the week before that.

    The amount of outstanding repo agreements also declined for a second consecutive week by a substantial $61 billion, after a $9 billion decline in the week prior, as financial conditions are clearly starting to tighten.

    As shown in the chart below, the total amount outstanding in the swap lines, designed to ease a surge in demand for U.S. currency in the participating banks’ jurisdictions during the early weeks of the crisis, was the lowest since early April.

    Coupled with other indications of shrinking demand for the Fed’s bevy of emergency liquidity facilities, the reduction in currency swap line usage is for many analysts a sign that global financial markets are returning to near-normal after being upended by the coronavirus outbreak in February and March. “We expect a more rapid decline over the coming months as the majority of the swaps will roll off,” Citigroup economists wrote in a recent note.

    The flipside is that it also means that the system is once again seeing a shrinkage in the circulation of the world's reserve currency, an explicit tightening in financial conditions, and the adverse global impact of any macroshock will be substantially greater when one hits in the coming weeks.

    Meanwhile, with the S&P500 closely tracking the Fed's balance sheet in the past three months, which has served as the only factor behind the rebound in the market and the modest boost to the economy by monetizing the $3 trillion in new debt issued recently, the latest weekly drop coincides with the period of heightened volatility in the past four weeks.

    The shrinkage comes at a time when the Fed's monthly liquidity injection has been tapered to approximately $120 billion, which suggests that while the balance sheet is likely to resume growing in the next week, it will be at a more gradual pace.

    It also means that for the stock market to move substantially from this point on - since the market is now fully disconnected from fundamentals and is simply a derivative of endogenous liquidity and fund flow - Powell will need to find another justification to expand the Fed's QE aggressively, as discussed in "JPMorgan Spots A Big Problem For Stocks." Something like - for example - a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic...

    Finally, those keeping track of how much corporate bonds the Fed has bought, the latest total for the Fed's Corporate Credit Facilities LLC which includes purchases of both ETFs and corporate bonds, the Fed disclosed that as of July 8, there was $10.4 billion in book value of holdings (the Fed does not break out how many actual bonds it has bought vs ETFs), an increase of $754 million from the $9.7 billion a week prior. Which means that the Fed is now buying around $150MM in corporate bonds and/or ETFs every single day, a sharp drop from the roughly $300MM/week it was buying just one month ago.

     

     

    Published:7/10/2020 9:29:12 AM
    [Markets] Novogratz On Gold & The Fed's Fairy Tale World Novogratz On Gold & The Fed's Fairy Tale World Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 10:07

    Via Global Macro Monitor,

    Great interview with Michael Novogratz, Galaxy Digital founder, CEO, and chairman.  He sounds exactly likey the global macro heads at GMM. 

    His money quotes from the July 8th CNBC interview should sound very familiar to our readers.

    • Macro set-up is so perfect for something like gold... central banks around the world keep printing money…more money, more money, more money

    • Gold is going to take old highs and keep going... we are just starting this move

    • We are in the irrational exuberance zone in the market but it’s hard to figure out where that stops

    • Get on the airplane just make sure you are in a seat closest to the exit.

    • We are in a bubble

    • I think Biden is going to win by a landslide

    • He [Biden] is going to jack up capital gains taxes to ordinary income... that won’t be good for the stock market... but they are going to pump in liquidity

    • We are early in the cycle

    • We are in a fairy tale world because the Fed is giving you so much money

    • The real economy has issues

    • Disposable income is up on the year, not down, which makes no sense

    • My friends are getting richer than I am...

    Watch the full clip below

    Published:7/10/2020 9:20:48 AM
    [Markets] Restructuring Harley-Davidson is no longer a sell: Barron's on MarketWatch Restructuring Harley-Davidson is no longer a sell: Barron's on MarketWatch Published:7/10/2020 9:20:48 AM
    [Markets] Stocks Fluctuate as Gilead Says Virus Treatment Reduces Mortality Risk Stocks fluctuate Friday as new data from Gilead Sciences touts the effectiveness of the drugmaker's developing coronavirus treatment. Published:7/10/2020 8:58:45 AM
    [Markets] Ford Employees Ask Company To Stop Building Police Vehicles Ford Employees Ask Company To Stop Building Police Vehicles Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 09:47

    A cadre of Ford employees have banded together to ask the automaker to stop building and selling police vehicles for the first time in 70 years.

    According to automotive website Jalopnik, approximately 100 employees support a letter to CEO Jim Hackett and Chairman Bill Ford asking for the change.

    According to a tip in the Jalopnik inbox, a number of Black Ford employees came together to raise concern about their employer’s manufacture of police vehicles. (We have since received clarification that the letter was written composed by a group of Black and white Ford employees.) Ford wouldn’t be the first company to come under scrutiny for making equipment for law enforcement, as folks around the country are raising flags about who gets contracts to produce what for use by police. From small players like bike companies — such as Trek, who makes police bikes — to behemoths like Amazon and its facial-recognition technology a number of companies are facing pressure now, and Ford certainly isn’t the first company with internal revolt. -Jalopnik

    According to Jakopnik's source, Hackett "quickly rejected the idea of Ford halting sales of police vehicles."

    Ford makes around two-thirds of police vehicles in the US. While the Crown Victoria interceptor was discontinued in 2011, the company makes tons of Explorers, F-150s, Transits, Fusions and Expeditions for law enforcement purposes. As one might suspect, the company gets tons of free publicity from the program - not all of it positive, especially in recent weeks amid national protests  over the death of George Floyd after a white police Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes.

    Because Ford essentially owns the police market, and because police departments are not going to switch to bikes and scooters anytime soon the automaker probably isn’t in a hurry to jump out of the police car business, even if it wouldn’t send them on a path to bankruptcy. -Jalopnik

    Below is alleged text of the letter:

    On June 1st, you communicated to the company your commitment to “lead from the front and fully commit to creating the fair, just and inclusive culture that our employees deserve.” We thank you for your leadership on this initiative. We also appreciate and fully support your statement against “superficial actions,” and we write to push for real action by Ford Motor Company to address our role in the structures that perpetuate racism in society.

    On May 25th, 2020 George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis Police, alongside a Ford Police Interceptor. Days later, police officers drove Ford Police Interceptors into crowds of protesters in New York City and Los Angeles. During these past weeks, our vehicles have been used to deploy chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Convention.

    Throughout our history, the vehicles that Ford employees design and build have been used as accessories to police brutality and oppression. We know that while many join, support, or supply law enforcement with good intentions, these racist policing practices that plague our society are historic and systemic—a history and system perpetuated by Ford for over 70 years—ever since Ford introduced the first-ever police package in 1950. As an undeniable part of that history and system, we are long overdue to “think and act differently” on our role in racism.

    Read the rest of the report here.

    Published:7/10/2020 8:58:45 AM
    [Markets] Social Capital: A mostly white Federal Reserve can’t fix our diverse economic problems The Federal Reserve has a chronic white male problem that is going to make it harder for the institution to help lead the country at a historic moment of crisis that, by definition, requires a strong diversity of views.
    Published:7/10/2020 8:58:45 AM
    [Markets] 5 Best Large-Cap Energy Stocks for the Second Half of 2020 Stocks like ExxonMobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) should carry you through in a turbulent year for oil. Published:7/10/2020 8:33:54 AM
    [Markets] Stock-market futures gain strength after Gilead remdesivir statement Stock-market futures gain strength after Gilead remdesivir statement Published:7/10/2020 8:33:54 AM
    [Markets] The World Shifts The World Shifts Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 09:26

    Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com,

    “Carthago delenda est”

    Did you feel the world wobble last night?  

    As Washington imposes sanctions on top level Chinese officals over ethnic abuse in Xinjiang, and waits for Trump to sign “autonomy” action over Hong Kong targeting officials over the new security law, we are now even closer to the inevitable showdown between Rome and Carthage.

    The implications are going to be enormous… This story is accelerating very quickly… thing are “occurring” faster than we think…

    My spidey senses are a-tingle.. 

    Trying to fathom out why markets are so strong, ongoing coronavirus and economic breakdowns, how politics are so ineffective, and how fragile and vulnerable sentiment might be to sudden and swift shifts in the narrative, is somewhat exhausting. While the markets are focused on the earnings season (beginning Monday), the ongoing supply chain problems -like car factories being shuttered because they can’t get parts, and the likelihood of further stimulus.. the news out of Asia makes me suspect the real world has just become massively less stable.

    At the tactical level, the outbreak of cold-war hostilities and the threat of sanctions on banks in Hong Kong is yet another nail in the decaying corpse of HSBC.  If the former colony is de-dollarised, and banks are stopped from clearing the greenback, it will trigger enormous shifts across Asia. It will raise the prospect of a complete rift between the US and China as banks are forced to make a choice: they can’t serve two masters.. the dollar or Beijing.

    At the strategic level.. who knows.. Plus for Europe? After the coronavirus.. a full scale Cold War? Or maybe its going to be a good thing.. a wedge between China and the West driving new innovation and economic growth? Who knows… more on this later... 

    I was expecting to see Asia’s financial business shift to Singapore, but talking to chums out there it seems the City State is trying to keep itself neutral. Apparently, it’s making it harder for Western financiers to obtain residency status and discouraging firms from moving Hong Kong operations lock, stock and barrel to the city, demanding they hire locals instead. Perversely, the major beneficiary of Hong Kong’s inevitable decline is likely to be Tokyo.  Which… will be great news for London.. 

    *  *  *

    However, the main issue for me this morning is… I was in the Pub last night

    Fantastic, but my head hurts...  

    There is nothing quite so wonderful as solving all the problems of the globe over an excellent tomahawk steak, too much red wine, and bantering with mates – despite the landlady’s very best efforts to keep us all socially distanced. So please excuse if this morning’s porridge meanders somewhat. It would be fair to say there is a pink elephant on the balcony in front of me this morning…. 

    How stimulating human company is. 

    A good friend from the City had joined us for the evening. He’s a chap who has eschewed trying to guess where stocks are headed next, and invested his time, effort and considerable intellect in working out how tech and big data can solve the issue of generating alpha for funds. 

    I completely understood everything right up till the third or fourth bottle of most excellent claret mysteriously emptied itself. As I said… Hamble’s King and Queen is a very good pub.. but the glass of Kraken rum for the road was definitely a mistake..  

    This morning…. Not so good…

    I do remember we tried to solve the problem of the NHS. 

    My contention is we can make the NHS so much better through the application of tech. I suggested, and grandly gesticulated my solution.. If we all owned our medical data – stored on our phones, or even a sub-cutaneous chip, and kept that information updated with the results of every test, blood sample and readings from our wearable tech, then medical AI would quickly be able to work out what our symptoms mean and instead of clinicians searching for the needle in haystack of what might be wrong with us…. The AI would be able to suggest immediately the cause. 

    Imagine if the same AI was able to learn from the data from all us… we’d very quickly have a focused, targeted, effective NHS. We’d be able to sort the logistical mess the NHS has become as a result of too many layers of bureaucracy, and invest more money in direct medical resources in terms of doctors, nurses and therapists, targeted treatments, and understand more fully the efficacy of drugs and therapies.. 

    Edward laughed at me. 

    Apparently, we already have the capacity to do most of it. The problem is governments asked/allowed big tech to collate the data. Now Google owns it. They’ve already written the algorithms to predict our health. They expect to be able to monetise it. 

    If we want to solve the world by the implementation of big data…. How much are we willing to pay the Tech behemoths to buy our own data back…?

    As the wine poured… we went on to solving the issues of supply chains, automation and 3 D printing. Sure, it will be simple to refocus production back to nation states. It would already be cheaper to make widgets locally, but to do so we need more programmers and engineers.. and since most Generation Z’s expect, nay demand, highly paid jobs in cupcake design and applied wokeness… that’s potentially a problem.. 

    I could continue… but by the time we concluded our symposium… my brain was pretty full… I might have to have a snooze later this morning… 

    Published:7/10/2020 8:33:54 AM
    [Markets] Stocks Spike On Yet Another Remdesivir Press Release Stocks Spike On Yet Another Remdesivir Press Release Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 08:54

    Shortly after PPI disappointed and Fed's Kaplan warned of dis-inflation, the markets spiked higher apparently on the heels of yet another press release by Gilead claiming a 62% reduction in mortality rates vs 'standard care' with its Remdesivir COVID treatment.  

    While the news looks encouraging, Gilead caveats it all further down in the pres release:

    "This comparative analysis provides valuable additional information regarding the benefit of remdesivir compared with standard of care alone,” said Susan Olender, MD, Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “While not as vigorous as a randomized controlled trial, this analysis importantly draws from a real-world setting and serves as an important adjunct to clinical trial data, adding to our collective understanding of this virus and reflecting the extraordinary pace of the ongoing pandemic.”

    While he welcomed the results as an encouraging development, Dr. Scott Gottlieb noted that we're not there yet, and that most of these new findings have been gleaned from a "retrospective analysis" of phase III data that had already been released.

    So just like Moderna before it, Gilead is learning how to squeeze every last drop of market success from its study data.

    And as shares of the pharma giant spike...

    ...we can't help but wonder: is it time for Gilead to embark on a secondary offering?

    Read the full press release below:

    FOSTER CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) today announced additional data on remdesivir, an investigational antiviral for the treatment of COVID-19, adding to the available body of knowledge on treatment outcomes with remdesivir. The data are being presented at the Virtual COVID-19 Conference as part of the 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020: Virtual) and include a comparative analysis of the Phase 3 SIMPLE-Severe trial and a real-world retrospective cohort of patients with severe COVID-19. In this analysis, remdesivir was associated with an improvement in clinical recovery and a 62 percent reduction in the risk of mortality compared with standard of care – an important finding that requires confirmation in prospective clinical trials.

    Separate subgroup analyses from the Phase 3 SIMPLE-Severe trial, including an evaluation of the safety and efficacy of remdesivir across different racial and ethnic patient subgroups treated in the United States, found that traditionally marginalized racial or ethnic groups treated with remdesivir in this study experienced similar clinical outcomes as the overall patient population in the study.

    Gilead is also presenting new analyses of the company’s compassionate use program, which demonstrated that 83 percent of pediatric patients (n=77) and 92 percent of pregnant and postpartum women (n=86) with a broad spectrum of disease severity recovered by Day 28. No new safety signals were identified with remdesivir across these populations. To further the understanding of these results in individual patient cases, Gilead recently announced the initiation of a global, open-label Phase 2/3 trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of remdesivir in pediatric patients from birth to less than 18 years of age. Gilead is also collaborating on a study for pregnant women.

    Due to the current public health emergency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for remdesivir for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19; please see below for additional important warnings and information about the authorized use of remdesivir in the United States. In the United States, remdesivir is an investigational drug that has not been approved by the FDA, and the safety and efficacy of remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 has not been established.

    “We are working to broaden our understanding of the full utility of remdesivir. To address the urgency of the continuing pandemic, we are sharing data with the research community as quickly as possible with the goal of providing transparent and timely updates on new developments with remdesivir,” said Merdad Parsey, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer, Gilead Sciences.

    "These data presented at the Virtual COVID-19 Conference shed additional light on the use of remdesivir in specific patient populations, including those that may be susceptible to higher rates of COVID-19 infection, as well as others that are particularly vulnerable, including children and pregnant and postpartum women."

    Comparative Analysis of Phase 3 SIMPLE-Severe Study and Real-World Retrospective Cohort of Patients Diagnosed with Severe COVID-19

    Receiving Standard of Care

    This comparative pre-planned analysis included 312 patients treated in the Phase 3 SIMPLE-Severe study and a separate real-world retrospective cohort of 818 patients with similar baseline characteristics and disease severity who received standard of care treatment in the same time period as the SIMPLE-Severe study. Patients were primarily located in North America (92 percent, remdesivir cohort vs. 91 percent, standard-of-care cohort), Europe (5 percent vs. 7 percent) and Asia (3 percent vs. 2 percent). The analysis demonstrated that remdesivir treatment was associated with significantly improved clinical recovery and a 62 percent reduction in the risk of mortality compared to standard of care. Findings from the comparative analysis showed that 74.4 percent of remdesivir-treated patients recovered by Day 14 versus 59.0 percent of patients receiving standard of care; recovery was defined as improvement in clinical status based on a 7-point ordinal scale. The mortality rate for patients treated with remdesivir in the analysis was 7.6 percent at Day 14 compared with 12.5 percent among patients not taking remdesivir (adjusted odds ratio 0.38, 95% confidence interval 0.22-0.68, p=0.001).

    “This comparative analysis provides valuable additional information regarding the benefit of remdesivir compared with standard of care alone,” said Susan Olender, MD, Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “While not as vigorous as a randomized controlled trial, this analysis importantly draws from a real-world setting and serves as an important adjunct to clinical trial data, adding to our collective understanding of this virus and reflecting the extraordinary pace of the ongoing pandemic."

    The results of this comparative analysis add to the previously presented National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in hospitalized patients with COVID-19, which showed that remdesivir shortened time to recovery by an average of four days as compared to placebo (11 vs. 15 days; p<0.001). In the NIAID study, patients taking remdesivir trended toward lower mortality compared with those in the placebo group, but this result did not reach statistical significance (7.1 percent vs. 11.9 percent at Day 14; p=0.07).

    Analyses from the Phase 3 SIMPLE-Severe Study

    The Phase 3 SIMPLE-Severe trial evaluated the safety and efficacy of 5-day and 10-day dosing durations of remdesivir administered intravenously in hospitalized patients with severe manifestations of COVID-19. The initial phase of the study randomized 397 patients in a 1:1 ratio to receive either a 5-day or a 10-day treatment course of remdesivir in addition to standard of care. The results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine in May. An expansion phase of the study was added to enroll up to 5,600 additional patients, including those on mechanical ventilation; results from the expansion phase are pending.
    Additional new data on the safety and efficacy of remdesivir presented at the Virtual COVID-19 Conference feature subgroup analyses, including race and ethnicity of patients treated in the United States, and global baseline characteristics associated with improved clinical status, and concomitant use of hydroxychloroquine.

    In this study, 229 patients were enrolled at trial sites in the United States; clinical improvement was defined as a = 2-point improvement on a 7-point ordinal scale. Among these patients, rates of clinical improvement at Day 14 were 84 percent in African American patients (n=43), 76 percent in Hispanic white (HW) patients (n=17), 67 percent in Asian patients (n=18), 67 percent in non-Hispanic white (NHW) patients (n=119) and 63 percent in patients who did not identify with any of these groups (n=32). Key efficacy and safety results with remdesivir treatment across race and ethnicity in the United States are included in the following table.


    Among the 397 patients who received remdesivir treatment globally, Black race, age under 65 years, treatment outside of Italy and requirement of only low-flow oxygen support or room air at baseline were factors significantly associated with clinical improvement of at least two points at Day 14.

    Following the availability of in vitro data demonstrating chloroquine inhibits the antiviral activity of remdesivir in a dose-dependent manner, Gilead conducted an analysis of clinical outcomes with patients who were treated with both remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine concomitantly, versus patients who were treated with remdesivir and who did not receive concomitant hydroxychloroquine. Through a median follow-up of 14 days, the rates and likelihood of recovery were lower in patients who received concomitant hydroxychloroquine compared with patients treated with remdesivir who did not receive hydroxychloroquine (57 percent vs. 69 percent, covariate-adjusted HR [95% CI] 0.61 [0.45, 0.83], p=0.002). Concomitant hydroxychloroquine use was not associated with increased mortality in the 14-day analysis window. The analysis also showed that patients in the concomitant hydroxychloroquine group experienced overall higher rates of adverse events. After adjusting for baseline variables, this difference was significant for Grade 3-4 adverse events.

    Additional Data from Gilead’s Compassionate Use Program for Remdesivir

    Gilead has previously reported the safety and efficacy results in 53 patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 who were receiving remdesivir treatment as part of the company’s compassionate use program. Additional analyses from the compassionate use program are being presented at the conference, including data on the use of remdesivir in pediatric patients and in pregnant and postpartum women. In these analyses, recovery was defined as improvement to room air for patients who required oxygen support at baseline, and discharge for those not requiring oxygen support at baseline.

    An analysis of 77 pediatric patients treated with remdesivir in the compassionate use program demonstrated that the vast majority improved in clinical status by Day 28, with 73 percent discharged from the hospital. By Day 28, 12 percent remained hospitalized but on ambient air and four percent had died. Of the 39 pediatric patients who required invasive mechanical ventilation at baseline, 80 percent of these critically ill patients recovered; of the 38 patients not requiring invasive ventilation, 87 percent recovered.

    Among the 86 pregnant and postpartum women treated with remdesivir in the compassionate use program (median age of 33), 96 percent of pregnant and 89 percent of postpartum women achieved improvement in oxygen support levels. Pregnant and postpartum women who had more severe illness at baseline achieved similarly high rates of clinical recovery, at 93 percent and 89 percent, respectively. Pregnant women not on invasive oxygen support at baseline had the shortest median time to recovery (5 days), and both pregnant and postpartum women on invasive ventilation at baseline had similar median times to recovery (13 days). No new safety signals were identified; the most common AEs were due to underlying disease and most laboratory abnormalities were Grades 1–2.

    About Remdesivir

    Remdesivir is an antiviral product that is being studied in multiple ongoing international clinical trials. In recognition of the current public health emergency and based on available clinical data, the approval status of remdesivir varies by country. In countries where remdesivir has not been approved by the regional health authority, remdesivir is an investigational drug, and the safety and efficacy of remdesivir have not been established.

    Important Information about Remdesivir in the United States

    In the United States, remdesivir (GS-5734™) is authorized for use under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) only for the treatment of patients with suspected or laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe COVID-19. Severe disease is defined as patients with an oxygen saturation (SpO2) = 94% on room air or requiring supplemental oxygen or requiring mechanical ventilation or requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Remdesivir is authorized for adult or pediatric patients who are admitted to a hospital and for whom use of an IV agent is clinically appropriate, as remdesivir must be administered intravenously.

    Remdesivir is an investigational drug that has not been approved by the FDA for any use, and the safety and efficacy of remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 have not been established. This authorization is temporary and may be revoked, and does not take the place of the formal new drug application submission, review and approval process. For information about the authorized use of remdesivir and mandatory requirements of the EUA in the U.S., please review the Fact Sheets and FDA Letter of Authorization available at www.gilead.com/remdesivir.

    There are limited clinical data available for remdesivir. Serious and unexpected adverse events may occur that have not been previously reported with remdesivir use. Hypersensitivity reactions, including infusion-related and anaphylactic reactions, have been observed during and following administration of remdesivir. The use of remdesivir is contraindicated in patients with known hypersensitivity to remdesivir. Transaminase elevations have been observed in healthy volunteers and patients with COVID-19 in clinical trials who received remdesivir. Patients should have appropriate clinical and laboratory monitoring to aid in early detection of any potential adverse events. Monitor renal and hepatic function prior to initiating and daily during therapy with remdesivir; additionally monitor serum chemistries and hematology daily during therapy. Do not initiate remdesivir in patients with ALT =5x ULN or with an eGFR <30 mL/min. The decision to continue or discontinue remdesivir therapy after development of an adverse event should be made based on the clinical risk/benefit assessment for the individual patient.

    Due to a risk of reduced antiviral activity, coadministration of remdesivir and chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine sulfate is not recommended.

    Healthcare providers and/or their designee are responsible for mandatory FDA MedWatch reporting of all medication errors and serious adverse events or deaths occurring during remdesivir treatment and considered to be potentially attributable to remdesivir. These events must be reported within 7 calendar days from the onset of the event. MedWatch adverse event reports can be submitted to FDA online at www.fda.gov/medwatch or by calling 1-800-FDA-1088.

    * * *

    Source: Gilead Sciences

    Published:7/10/2020 8:08:50 AM
    [Markets] Gilead up in premarket as it says it's presented new remdesivir data Gilead up in premarket as it says it's presented new remdesivir data Published:7/10/2020 8:08:50 AM
    [Markets] Economic Report: Wholesale prices drop in June, U.S. inflation still low due to the coronavirus pandemic The wholesale cost of U.S. goods and services fell in June, reflecting depressed demand in the economy caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
    Published:7/10/2020 8:08:49 AM
    [Markets] World Suffers 3rd Straight Record Jump In New COVID-19 Cases As US Sees Disturbing Spike In Deaths: Live Updates World Suffers 3rd Straight Record Jump In New COVID-19 Cases As US Sees Disturbing Spike In Deaths: Live Updates Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 08:23

    Summary:

    • World suffers 3rd straight record jump in COVID-19 cases
    • US sees deaths top 800 for third straight day
    • US reports 2nd straight record jump
    • Philippines reports daily record
    • Ariz Gov orders indoor dining at max 50% capacity
    • Texas Gov warns outbreak going to get worse, pleads with people to wear masks

    * * *

    The market's torrid recovery rally has encountered some more resistance this week as a massive retail-driven market bubble in China and a resurgence of US deaths linked to COVID-19 (most of which are occurring in the Sun Belt) has stoked fears that we might have finally arrived at the top of another down-slope as the reality of massively inflated valuations accompanied by the inevitable return to lockdown, as the deaths that former FDA head Scott Gottlieb has warned about during his morning appearances on CNBC finally begin to emerge.

    Investors appeared to focus on the number of deaths reported on Thursday, which eclipsed 800 for the third day in a row, pushing the 7-day average to levels that we haven't seen since early June.

    According to Reuters, the US reported 60,565 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a record-breaking tally for the second day in a row. There was, as usual, some disagreement on the numbers, as AFP tweeted that the record sum reported yesterday was higher than 65,000, citing Johns Hopkins data.

    Globally, we saw 227,038 new cases yesterday, the third consecutive record.

    Those numbers were mostly driven by the "Big 4" states - Texas, Florida, California, Arizona - as Florida reported a record 120 deaths, as we reported yesterday, and California had 136 new deaths, just below the record sum it reported the day before, according to the tally. Texas reported a record number of new cases north of 10k.

    But almost equally as depressing are the multiplying signs that the outbreak is spreading to other states in the Midwest and South which haven't seen the level of spread as the most troubled Sun Belt states.

    Even outside the nation’s three most populous states, cases are rising. Alabama, Montana and Wisconsin saw their biggest single-day increases yet on Thursday. Viral spread is climbing in 41 out of 50 states, according to a Reuters analysis of data collected over the past 2 weeks.

    As Bloomberg reported, the Sun Belt states are seeing their highest levels of deaths yet (though most are nowhere near the mortality rates seen in New York earlier this year). Still, the virus is overrunning hospitals and exhausting supplies.

    Yesterday, AZ Gov Doug Ducey announced measures including increasing testing capacity (testing across the country has continued to expand, though in many sun belt states, it hasn't been nearly fast enough to prevent hours-long lines) and limiting dine-in capacity to 50%.

    In Mississippi, where many lawmakers are resisting wearing masks, 26 of them tested positive, including the leaders of both legislative chambers.

    "We’re not in a good situation. That may be a little too gentle. Probably what I really think is not fit to print," said Jaline Gerardin, an expert in disease modeling and an assistant professor of preventive medicine in epidemiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "I’m very worried."

    Ariz. has seen a 50% jump in the number of new cases reported daily over the last three weeks. Governor Ducey said Thursday: "We have had a brutal June."

    Meanwhile, more Republican governors are pleading with the public to take steps like wearing masks when in public. In Kentucky, which is now reporting at least 200 or so new cases a day, Gov Andy Beshear said he would order mask-wearing statewide beginning 5pmET.

    Of course, the US isn't the only country struggling with a disturbing resurgence. In Asia, Tokyo, Hong Kong, the Philippines (which reported another single day record of new cases earlier on Friday) and Indonesia are all struggling with new clusters (or outbreaks that never really went away).

    Just look at those curves (source: BBG):

    Published:7/10/2020 7:33:20 AM
    [Markets] Spotify Experiencing Global Outage; 1000s Of Users Report App Crashing Immediately After Launch Spotify Experiencing Global Outage; 1000s Of Users Report App Crashing Immediately After Launch Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 07:24

    Popular music-streaming service Spotify is currently struggling with a global outage that is impacting almost all of its markets in Europe, along with the American northeast, and parts of Australia and South America.

    Complaints about the outage spiked around 7amET.

    Here's the latest outage map courtesy of downdetector.com.

    Published:7/10/2020 6:29:17 AM
    [Markets] Steve Cohen Bids $2BN, J-Rod Bids $1.7BN As Battle For Control Of The Mets Enters Final Round Steve Cohen Bids $2BN, J-Rod Bids $1.7BN As Battle For Control Of The Mets Enters Final Round Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 06:43

    After his $2.6 billion bid for the legendary Queens-based baseball franchise the Mets fell apart last year, hedge fund titan Steve Cohen has returned with a $2 billion bid, leading a pack of bidders that also includes a group led by former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez and his wife, Jennifer Lopez.

    As part of his bid, Cohen has also promised to pay an additional $2 billion to acquire the TV network SNY

    Sources say that the J-Rod bid of $1.7 billion should be enough to keep them in the running, allowing their group a chance to work up a counter. Their group also reportedly includes Florida Panthers owner and HFT pioneer Vincent Viola, who reportedly contributed $200 million.

    Several others also offered bids before the Thursday deadline, including the bid that came in from Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer, per the New York Post.

    The tabloid added that if Cohen wants the team, he will likely need to pay about $250 million more than his nearest rival to lock in his offer after he walked away from the $2.6 billion deal in February. That's a pretty stiff barrier for most in these hard times, but so long as J-Pow keeps the liquidity taps flowing, we suspect Cohen will manage.

    Though, to be sure, it's widely believed that Mets COO Jeff Wilpon would prefer to sell team to the J-Rod group if their offer is close to the best bid at the end of the process.

    Then again, after telling an audience at the end of March that the bottom for stocks might not yet be in - "markets don't come back in a straight line" - we'll need to wait for that next 13-F to get a better picture, though since Cohen re-entered the business, his new vehicle, Point72 has also had at least a couple big scores.

     

     

     

     

     

    Published:7/10/2020 6:07:23 AM
    [Markets] Need to Know: Why one strategist is wondering whether the trade of a lifetime is on its last legs ‘If you start getting inflation in the system, the whole landscape begins to changes,’ says one strategist.
    Published:7/10/2020 6:07:23 AM
    [Markets] Dow Futures Lower As Coronavirus Resurgence Tests Global Recovery; Bonds Rally as Investors Spurn Risk Markets U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for the sixth consecutive day, with fatalities rising in Florida, Texas and California, as the pandemic continues its resurgence through the world's largest economy. Published:7/10/2020 6:07:23 AM
    [Markets] Voucher or not, Brits overwhelmingly say they’re reluctant to eat out The U.K.’s new incentive to get people to eat out at restaurants and bolster the beleaguered hospitality industry is confronting a hard reality — consumers are still unwilling to confront the coronavirus pandemic.
    Published:7/10/2020 5:03:11 AM
    [Markets] War Footing: Egypt Answers Turkish Naval Drills With Own Large Exercise On Libyan Border War Footing: Egypt Answers Turkish Naval Drills With Own Large Exercise On Libyan Border Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 05:00

    Via AlMasdarNews.com,

    The Egyptian media announced that the Egyptian Army is preparing to implement a military large scale maneuver near the Libyan border called “Decisive 2020”, which is a response to Turkey’s announcement of a new naval exercise in the Mediterranean aimed as a 'message' to Egypt.

    The Egyptian channel “Cairo and People” (Al-Qahira w Al-Nas) said in a post on Twitter, that the Egyptian armed forces, with their main branches, are carrying out the Decisive 2020 maneuver at the western border, and this means that the maneuvers are close to Libya.

    Egyptian Army file image

    The Egyptian military maneuvers come one day after the Turkish naval forces announced that they will hold huge naval exercises off the Libyan coast during the coming period.

    Turkish media quoted the Turkish Navy as saying that the expected maneuvers would be called “Naftex”, and would take place off the Libyan coast in 3 different regions, and each would bear a special name, which is “Barbaros”, “Targot Rais” and “Chaka Bay”.

    Turkish media revealed that these maneuvers will take place imminently, and that they are training in anticipation of war in the eastern Mediterranean, in addition to what has been described as the escalating tensions in Libya in the recent period.

    The Jerusalem Post explains:

    Turkey has increased its military intervention in Libya in recent months, sending ships off the coast, planes to bring weapons, mercenaries and armed drones to the country.This is ostensibly to support the government in Tripoli which is fighting a civil war against forces in eastern Libya.

    But it is actually part of Turkey’s desire for a greater role in energy exploration in the Mediterranean and aimed at weakening Egyptian-backed opposition forces. In response Egypt’s president hinted during a tour of a massive military base on Saturday, that Egypt might intervene.

    Egypt and Turkey currently back the two opposing parties in Libya, with the latter directly involved in ground operations inside the country.

    Published:7/10/2020 4:27:00 AM
    [Markets] Dow Jones Futures Signal Coronavirus Market Rally Losses As Shanghai Win Streak Ends, Covid Cases Soar Dow futures fell as Covid cases soar and the Shanghai composite ended a win streak. The coronavirus market rally has been a stock picker's paradise. Published:7/10/2020 4:27:00 AM
    [Markets] Walgreens to cut over 4,000 jobs at Boots on a dark day for U.K. jobs Boots, John Lewis, and the U.K. arm of Burger King all announced job cuts on Thursday as companies count the damage of lockdown measures.
    Published:7/10/2020 4:27:00 AM
    [Markets] Greyhound owner says Trump rhetoric caused less immigration, forcing $156 million write-down President Trump’s comments on immigration, including about building a wall between Mexico and the U.S., contributed to a £124 million write-off at intercity coach operator Greyhound.
    Published:7/10/2020 3:57:11 AM
    [Markets] Dow Jones Futures Fall As China Win Streak Ends; Coronavirus Market Rally Is Stock Picker's Paradise Dow Jones futures fell Friday as the Shanghai composite ended a win streak. The coronavirus market rally is a stock picker's paradise. Published:7/10/2020 3:57:11 AM
    [Markets] Malawi Has The Most Expensive Mobile Internet In The World (India's Cheapest) Malawi Has The Most Expensive Mobile Internet In The World (India's Cheapest) Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 04:15

    What Does 1GB of Mobile Data Cost in Every Country?

    Billions of people around the world rely on their mobile phones every day.

    Even in a saturated market, mobile networks have continued to expand their reach. In the last five years alone, almost one billion additional people have gained access to mobile data services.

    However, despite the growing prevalence of these networks worldwide, Visual Capitalist's Carmen Ang notes that the cost of gaining access can vary greatly from country to country—particularly when it comes to the price of mobile data.

    Today’s chart uses figures from Cable.co.uk to showcase the average cost of one gigabyte (GB) of mobile data in 155 different countries and jurisdictions. Despite the vast global reach of the mobile economy, it’s clear it still has a long way to go to reach true accessibility.

    Discrepancies in Mobile Data Costs

    Researchers have identified several key elements that help explain the cost variation for mobile data between countries:

    1. Existing infrastructure (or lack thereof): This might seem counterintuitive, but most mobile networks rely on a fixed-line connection. As a result, countries with existing infrastructure are able to offer mobile plans with more data, at a cheaper price. This is the case for India and Italy. Countries with minimal or no infrastructure rely on more costly connection alternatives like satellites, and the cost typically gets passed down to the consumer.

    2. Reliance on mobile data: When mobile data is the primary source of internet in a particular region, adoption can become nearly universal. This high demand typically leads to an increase in competing providers, which in turn lowers the cost. Kyrgyzstan is a good example of this.

    3. Low data consumption: Countries with poor infrastructure tend to use less data. With mobile plans that offer smaller data limits, the overall average cost per GB tends to skew higher. Countries like Malawi and Benin are examples of this phenomenon.

    4. Average income of consumer: Relatively wealthy nations tend to charge more for mobile services since the population can generally afford to pay more, and the cost of operating a network is higher. This is apparent in countries like Canada or Germany.

    The Cheapest Countries for 1 GB of Data

    Even among the cheapest countries for mobile data, the cost variation is significant. Here’s a look at the top five cheapest countries for 1 GB of data:

    India ranks the cheapest at $0.09 per GB, a 65% decrease in price compared to the country’s average cost in 2019.

    Why is data so cheap in India? A significant factor is the country’s intense market competition, driven by Reliance Jio—a telecom company owned by Reliance Industries, one of the largest conglomerates in India. Reliance Jio launched in 2016, offering customers free trial periods and plans for less than a $1 a month. This forced other providers to drop their pricing, driving down the overall cost of data in the region.

    Because these prices are likely unsustainable for the long term, India’s cheaper-than-usual prices may soon come to an end.

    Another country worth highlighting is Kyrgyzstan, which ranks as the third cheapest at $0.21 per GB, ahead of Italy and Ukraine. This ranking is surprising, given the country’s minimal fixed-line infrastructure and large rural population. Researchers suspect the low cost is a result of Kyrgyzstan’s heavy reliance on mobile data as the population’s primary source of internet.

    The Most Expensive Countries for 1 GB of Data

    On the other end of the spectrum, here are the top five most expensive countries for one gigabyte of mobile data:

    A striking trend worth noting is that four out of five of the most expensive countries for mobile data are in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

    A significant factor behind the high cost of data in SSA is its lack of infrastructure. With overburdened networks, the data bundles offered in the region are generally smaller. This drives up the average cost per GB when compared to countries with unlimited packages.

    Another element that contributes to SSA’s high costs is its lack of market competition. In countries with multiple competing networks, such as Nigeria, the cost of data skews lower.

    The Full Breakdown

    The below table has a full list of all 155 countries and jurisdictions included in the data set. It helps demonstrate the stark contrast in the cost of mobile data between the most expensive and cheapest countries globally.

    Interestingly, the highest average cost is 30,000% more than the cheapest average price.

    The Technology Gap

    Will we reach a point of equal accessibility across the globe, or will the technology gap between countries continue to widen?

    With 5G networks on the rise, just seven countries are expected to make up the majority of 5G related investments. Time will tell what this means for adoption worldwide.

    Published:7/10/2020 3:32:10 AM
    [Markets] Blain: There's A "Massively Larger Problem" In UK Homeownership Blain: There's A "Massively Larger Problem" In UK Homeownership Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 03:30

    Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com,

    “All Political lives end in tragedy..”

    They do say four little words can end any political career: “doesn’t he look tired?” 

    The biggest mistake in Politics is to imagine it’s simply a game about popularity – it’s about effectiveness. Watch politics in action as consummate crowd pleaser like Boris Johnson makes a hash of it. He’s still great on the set piece annihilation of political lightweights like the current Labour leader at Question Time – but that’s a skill that has little use outside a parliamentary setting. Its not effective. When it comes to actually packaging effective government, and communicating his plans and strategies to the public, Boris has overpromised and underdelivered, while looking ill and ill-prepared. 

    In contrast, Rishi Sunak is doing a startling and refreshingly competent job as Chancellor. He has none of Boris’ parliamentary theatrical baggage. None of the awkward poorly delivered jokes, and he doesn’t need to dress like a dishevelled clown to garner the attention of the crowd.  Yesterday’s stimulus package was another example of effective action – part of a swiftly assembled and adaptable approach to address the pandemic’s economic damage. 

    It might look like Sunak is chucking the kitchen sink at the problem, but it also looks considered, pragmatic and effective. Step by step, Sunak is delivering the stimulus/rescue packages the economy requires to weather the virus. And he’s doing it well. How is this political new kid is coming up with genuinely smart initiatives? I am sure his treasury advisors deserve credit. 

    It’s worth thinking about a moment… 

    Sunak’s predecessor, ex-banker Sajid Javid was forced to resign because Boris’ consigliere, Dominic Cummings, demanded complete control of all his advisors. So how is Boris doing such a poor job when Sunak is doing so well – and Cummings is supposedly pulling all the strings? Perhaps Sunak is making such a decent go of the UK economy because Boris is still struggling to recover from the virus, and Cummings has been constrained by the consequences of his lockdown holiday back home in Durham? Or maybe the Boris/Cummings axis ain’t that great a combination after all? 

    Sunak appears to be thriving because of the crisis, while it’s making Boris’ limitations more and more obvious every day. I’m told Sunak is impressing his fellow Conservative MPs. His stock is rising, while Boris’ star is descending. Watch that space.

    Yesterday Sunak delivered a £30 bln kick-start package of measures to stimulate activity this summer. He gives a very strong impression he stands ready and able to do more – if the economy is still struggling in March when the stamp-duty holiday ends, then he won’t reimpose it..

    A £1000 bonus to companies for each worker they un-furlough and keep on payroll will help stem a sudden loss of jobs later this year when furlough ends. Cutting VAT on hospitality and tourism, and the “eat out to help out” discount in August will make a terrible year merely bad for the sector – which employs a million people. 

    Of course, I am willing to do my bit for the economy – in August I’m going to run weekly sailing days for clients. We’ll go for a sail, then go support the Solent economy via a “proper” lunch in the vicinity – Cowes, Hamble or Yarmouth! Let me know if you fancy a day out… and it’s a zero-cost option for compliance purposes, as you will be buying me lunch! (And.. remember… it will be half-price!)

    The cut in stamp duty to zero for anything under £500,000 is an interesting decision. It will boost transaction flow and boost confidence. The surest way to make an economic crisis worse in the UK is to associate it with a fall in house prices. 

    However, there is a massively larger problem in home ownership.

    UK homes are expensive. Millions of Millennials and Gen Zs are being forced to rent because they can’t get on the housing ladder. But here’s the rub - they can afford to pay rents, which are invariably much higher than mortgage payments would be! 

    The problem isn’t that houses aren’t affordable – the market failure is there is just no mortgage financing available! Mortgage lenders are stuck to the same 3 times salary and 80% LTV formula they used when interest rates were 12%! Traditional mortgage lending is going the way of the horse-drawn carriage.

    We need a completely new approach to home ownership – which is something I’m working on now with some very credible partners. 

    The lender will fund co-ownership where they own up to 95% of the property. The amount the borrower needs is effectively paid off as rent, and is set by what the borrower can realistically afford – and its a much higher multiple than mortgage backed purchases can offer. The deal is structured so the borrower doesn’t face a negative equity trap, but does pay an inflation linked “rent”. The borrower isn’t limited to only choosing homes from a pre-set stock, and treats the home as their own. If they want to increase their ownership stake or sell, they can. The deal offers investors a steady inflation linked return secured on the underlying property. 

    If the co-ownership deal sounds interesting – please give me a shout. Historically UK residential property has always been a strongly performing asset. 

    Meanwhile, there are a couple of issues with Sunak’s lavish spending plans. Yesterday I had a journalist wondering just how the country can possibly afford the upwards of £400 bln of pandemic packages. He’s expecting gilt yields to soar to double digits and sterling to collapse.

    Why? 

    The Bank of England is just as capable of yield curve control as any other central banks. Everyone is in same boat – QE Infinity is going to keep rates low. Problems could emerge in terms of FX if, as a nation, our credibility is absolutely blown… Inflation remains an issue – QE has created massive inflation in financial assets, but the risk the real economy remains deflationary – although we are keeping a weather eye on any signs of inflation returning. 

    The second issue is just how much fraud has been going on around all the bailout/support packages. Its clearly been significant. It might be “timely” for the government to accelerate a couple of cases quickly to court and give the perps a show-trial with some pretty harsh sentences handed down. 

    Last week a chum of mine was made redundant from his job running European M&A for an Indian conglomerate. He’s going to turn whistleblower. His Indian bosses, who have a few business interests in the UK, told him to go apply for each and every UK bailout package there was to get money from the government. My chum explained to him the money wasn’t on offer for the billionaire owner to repatriate back to India, but to support UK businesses and employment. The boss-man lost his rag, and my chum lost his job.

    Published:7/10/2020 2:33:25 AM
    [Markets] Virus Unrest Turns Violent As Serbs Protest Being "Lied To For Political Ends" Virus Unrest Turns Violent As Serbs Protest Being "Lied To For Political Ends" Tyler Durden Fri, 07/10/2020 - 02:45

    Social unrest has rocked Belgrade and other cities in Serbia this week in response to President Aleksandar Vucic's reintroduction of government-curfews over surging coronavirus cases.

    Serbian police fired tear gas and were dressed head to toe in riot gear, as demonstrators, mostly young people, assaulted police on Tuesday and Wednesday. The New York Times said the unrest was some of the first in Europe since the pandemic began - also indicating the severity of the unrest was worst since the rule of Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s. 

    July 8 Belgrade riot chaos. h/t Reuters 

    Young Serbs quickly took the streets on Tuesday after Vucic announced Belgrade would be placed under a new order restricting movement in the region for three days to mitigate the spread of the second coronavirus wave. Many were infuriated by the re-implementation of the lockdown after coming out of some of the strictest ones in Europe to allow the general election last week.

    "We don't mind staying home for another three days — that wasn't the problem," said Dragana Grncarski, 45, who has been protesting this week. 

    "However, they're playing with our minds and with the truth," Grncarski added. "When it suits them to do elections, there is no corona. They organized football matches and tennis matches, and because of that we have a situation where the hospitals are full."

    "Citizens have been constantly deceived and lied to for political ends," said Tena Prelec, a political expert on Southeast Europe at the University of Oxford.

    Jelena Vasiljevic, an expert on Balkan unrest at the University of Belgrade, said the expiration of the lockdowns for election purposes - then re-implementation of the lockdowns took the population "from one extreme to another." 

    Vasiljevic said the "excessive use of force" by the government to combat rioters hasn't been seen since the days of "Milosevic in 1996 or 1997." Milosevic led Serbia through the Balkan Wars and was later charged for war crimes. 

    Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin was convinced the demonstration against the re-implementation of the lockdowns in Belgrade and other cities were "carefully planned" - and aimed at igniting a civil war. 

    "We have terrible violence on the streets, we have an attempt at a coup, we have an attempt to seize power by force and an attempt to provoke a civil war in Serbia. It cannot be described and explained differently. There is no reason, there is no reason to set fire to the Assembly, to set fire to the City Hall in Novi Sad, to attack the police, to beat people on the streets, to endanger life and to endanger the property of Serbian citizens ," said Vulin, a guest on the show Novo jutro on TV Pink, was asked to comment on the events in the previous two evenings.