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Ashoka Mody & Euro Economy: Sisyphus Rex

IMF veteran and Princeton professor Ashoka Mody is almost always a must-read on the euro (I reviewed his fine book on the single currency for NR a few years back). With a renewed Eurozone crisis not so much on the horizon as round the corner, and this time focused on Italy, this talk he has just given on a Mercatus podcast is well worth a listen or (there’s a transcript) a read.

It seems wrong to single out anything in this discussion, but perhaps I’d pay closest attention to this:

There is almost a consensus in the academic literature that the Euro did not increase trade among the member states of the Eurozone, but instead, because the Eurozone economies were growing relatively slowly, the bulk of the increase in trade occurred outside the Eurozone, and with China as the dynamo of this period, the global locomotive, the growth in European trade occurred in oodles with China, and especially Germany, which came out of the global financial crisis in 2009 not because of some great wonders they worked in their domestic economy, but because China was such a ready market for Mercedes Benz, BMWs, Audis, machine tools, high speed rail. The Chinese were gobbling this stuff, and the Germans, given their historical advantage in these mechanical industries, were pumping them out. So Germany looked like a wonder country, but really it was because China had this completely insatiable appetite.

And now?

Mody is pessimistic at what lies ahead for Germany — and yet this is at the same time as Germany is being asked to okay jointly issued debt by the Eurozone, debt that it would (effectively) ultimately underwrite . . .

And on the topic of Italian government debt (and not just Italian), Mody throws in some very gloomy data:

Italy is 135% of GDP. Spain and France are 100% of GDP, so three of the big Eurozone countries are not going to be able to do fiscal stimulus of 5, 7, 10% of GDP, which is basically what is going to be needed for this crisis. We’re going to need enormous amount of fiscal stimulus. Maybe Germany will do that. In the US, with this two trillion, they’re already at about 9% of GDP, and I expect that it will go up even more, for a number of reasons, but Italy cannot do anything close to that, or Spain cannot do anything close to that. That raises a huge policy question of how that is going to be dealt with.

Indeed it does.

Meanwhile (via Reuters):

Goldman Sachs said it sees Italy’s deficit at 10% and debt/GDP ratio at 160% in 2020…

Stretching the horizon to the summer, Fitch Rating will update its review on July 10. The agency currently rates Italy at ‘BBB’, two notches above ‘junk’, with a negative outlook like S&P Global.

A union is as strong as its weakest link.

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US Virgin Islands AG asks judge for help in Jeffrey Epstein estate dispute

The US Virgin Islands Attorney General is asking a judge to help her office resolve a dispute with Jeffrey Epstein’s estate over a victims compensation fund.

AG Denise George said in a statement late Tuesday that the dead financier’s estate won’t budge on it’s insistence to that Epstein’s sexual assault victims sign releases to protect other individuals who sexually abused them before they are allowed to collect money from the compensation fund.

George said this would amount to “a misuse of probate funds and an abuse of the probate process, solely to protect persons who are not a part of the Estate.”

George’s office had been in negotiations with the 66-year-old convicted pedophile’s lawyers over how the compensation fund would work. But after reaching an impasse, George is now asking the court to rule on “whether to approve the required release of independently culpable third parties.”

“They’re trying to protect their friends, and it’s not fair to the victims,” George told Vanity Fair in February.

Lawyers for the estate did not immediately return a request for comment.

Epstein committed suicide by hanging in August in a Lower Manhattan jail cell as he was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. He left behind a more-than $634 million fortune.

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Univision and Telemundo IGNORE New Sexual Assault Charge Against Joe Biden

Are the Hispanic networks covering up unfavorable news for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign? That’s what it looks like.

This time, it´s about a sexual harassment accusation against Joe Biden by Tara Reade, a former assistant of then-Senator Biden. It was not until the Spanish-speaking national network Azteca America, published a radio interview with Reade and journalist Katie Harper, that the nation’s Latino audience became aware of the issue.

Here is a excerpt of the interview posted on Harper’s SoundCloud page, which asides from Azteca, was ignored by the Hispanic media.

 

]

 

TARA READE: …called me in and said, I want you to take this to Joe, he wants it. He wants you to bring it. Hurry. And I said okay, and it was a gym bag. she said. You know, take the gym bag, she called it, athletic bag. And, you know, she said he was down towards The Capitol. And he’ll meet you. And so I went down, And I was heading down towards there. And he was, at first, talking to someone, I could see him in a different distance and then they went away, and then we were in like the side… it was like the side area. And, um, he just said: “Hey, come here, Tara.” And then I handed him the thing, and he greeted me- remembered my name-. And then, we were alone. And it was the strangest thing. There was no, like, exchange, really- he just had me up against the wall. And, um, I was wearing, like, a skirt, and…you know, business skirt but I wasn’t wearing stockings- it was kind of a hot day that day, and I was wearing heels. And I remember that my legs had been hurting from the marble, you know, of the Capitol, like walk…and I…so I remember that kind of stuff, I remember like…I was wearing a blouse, and he just had me up against the wall, and the wall was cold. And I remember he…it happened all at once. The gym bag, I don’t know where it went. I handed it to him, it was gone, and then his hands were on me and underneath my clothes. And um, yeah…he went…ugh. He went down my skirt but then up inside it. And he, uh…penetrated me. With his fingers, Whatever. And, um…I…he was kissing me at the same time and he was saying something to me. He said several things that I can’t remember everything he said- I remember a couple of things. I remember him saying first, like as he was doing it: “Do you want to

Among Reade’s allegations against Joe Biden, according to  Azteca’s report,  “Reade told Harper that it all started when he was asked to take a gym backpack to Biden. Arriving with Biden, Reade alleges that Biden greeted her by name and immediately gave way to the aggression.” “And then, we were alone. And it was the strangest thing. There was no, like, exchange, really- he just had me up against the wall.” “…and then his hands were on me and underneath my clothes. And um, yeah…he went…ugh. He went down my skirt but then up inside it..”

It is worth noting the difference in the treatment that the main Hispanic media in the United States gave to this accusation about an alleged sexual impropriety by Biden in 1993 -so far, eight women have reported him for improper conduct and sexual harassment – as well as the media´s bombardment, both in Spanish and English, prior to the challenging nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, and the parade of allegations of his sexual abuse against several women.

It seems that for the Hispanic media it is better to ignore these women (What ever happened to the MeToo activists?), or to treat this as a passing thing, in order to give time in the air to Biden’s own apologies for being so “affectionate”.

In 2018, it was touted that every person who accuses another of sexual aggression should be believed. Given the lack of coverage that has been given to the subject (and the coronavirus is no excuse), it seems that the new motto is to believe all those who make the accusations as long as it benefits the media´s political agenda.

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Fed Minutes Reveal Alarm Over Coronavirus Disruptions to Economy, Market

Federal Reserve officials reacted with growing alarm to market disruptions prompted by the spreading coronavirus pandemic in March, prompting them to cut interest rates at two emergency meetings and signal plans to leave them unchanged until the economy recovered from its sudden stop.

The central bank on Wednesday released minutes of those two meetings, held on March 2 and March 15. The central bank cut its benchmark rate by a half percentage point after the first meeting and by a full percentage point to near zero after the…

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Thug wearing medical mask sucker punches NYPD officer from behind — and onlookers cheer for culprit as he runs away

A man wearing a medical mask was caught on cellphone video sucker punching a New York City police officer from behind Tuesday — after which onlookers were heard cheering the attacker as he ran down the Bronx street, the New York Post reported.

What happened?

A small crowd formed near 183rd Street and Davidson Avenue in University Heights to watch the arrest of 27-year-old robbery suspect Yoemdy Castro, law enforcement sources told the paper.

An officer in the clip can be seen on one knee holding Castro to the sidewalk while another officer stood nearby, the Post said — and a man wearing a medical mask, dark glasses, and a baseball cap walked by the scene.

Image source: Twitter video screenshot

That man — 31-year-old Nelson Jimenez — suddenly punched the second officer in the head from behind, sending the cop’s cap flying, after which Jimenez appeared to land at least two other quick punches.

Image source: Twitter video screenshot

The officer then pulled out his taser —

Image source: Twitter video screenshot

— and the suspect high tailed it down the street.

Image source: Twitter video screenshot

Onlookers heard on the video initially sounded surprised by attack — but as they saw Jimenez running away, and officer appearing to pursue, they began to holler and laugh and cheer for the culprit: “Run! Run!”

Several onlookers began hoofing it in the direction of the action:

Image source: Twitter video screenshot

Caught!

Officers later caught and arrested Jimenez in a nearby store, law enforcement sources told the Post. He’s facing a number of charges including assault on a police officer, obstruction of governmental administration, assault, disorderly conduct, and harassment, police told the Post in a follow-up story, adding that Jimenez also was arrested Feb. 27 for harassment at a men’s shelter.

A second officer who responded to the sucker-punch incident also was punched in the head but off camera, sources told the Post. The suspect in that assault — 25-year-old Brandee Isom — was arrested and charged with assault and obstructing governmental administration, sources noted to the paper.

The video of the sucker-punch attack was posted to the Twitter account of the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association. (Content warning: Language):

“NYC people are dying, and suffering as COVID-19 plagues thousands but the same scumbags continue to roam the streets of NYC and attack NYPD cops,” the post read. “Sadly the wrong people are suffering. Welcome to [Mayor Bill] DeBlasio’s NYC.”

How did others react?

“To be clear, this is not disrespect. This is premeditated assault on a uniformed Police Officer … your Police Officer,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted. “Disturbing on many levels, what he should now receive is a conviction for a class D Felony and a lengthy sentence in State Prison. Period.”

Other commenters felt similarly:

  • “Taking swings at the police from behind? In this situation? What is wrong with people?!”
  • “This makes my blood absolutely boil.”
  • “This is sickening!”
  • “Look at all the people laughing and cheering him on. Despicable.”

(H/T: Hot Air)

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Joe Biden Emerges as Frontrunner to Receive Endorsement From Former Boss

Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I., Vt.) decision to end his presidential campaign means former vice president Joe Biden is the last Democrat standing in the 2020 primary.

Sanders’s continued presence in the race did not pose a serious threat to Biden’s prospects. Of far greater concern was the former VP’s consistent inability to form coherent sentences and behave like a functioning adult with normal cognitive abilities.

Even though Sanders’s exit will have little effect on the primary’s outcome, it does at least solidify Biden as the clear frontrunner to win the endorsement of his former boss, Barack Obama. The Netflix producer and former president of the United States has been relatively quiet throughout the Democratic primary, even as most of the candidates implicitly ran against his legacy. Meanwhile, many pundits saw Obama’s conspicuous refusal to endorse Biden as an embarrassing snub indicating a lack of confidence in the former vice president.

That’s not all. Obama reportedly tried to dissuade Biden from running in the first place. “You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t,” Obama told Biden in early 2019, according to the New York Times. There was even speculation that the former president could endorse a rival candidate, such as Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), whom he once described as the “best-looking attorney general” in the country.

Now that Biden is the only candidate still running for president in the Democratic primary, his chances of winning the party’s nomination are very good—at least 51 percent, if not slightly higher. Because Obama is all but certain to endorse the Democratic nominee—absent a change of heart in light of the party’s position on taxing his considerable fortune—that endorsement is, for now, most likely to go to Biden.

That’s great news for Biden, who has spent the last several years trying to convince the American people that Obama wasn’t just his boss in the White House, but also his very good friend. Maybe they’ll finally believe him now. Congrats!

Andrew Stiles is senior writer at the Washington Free Beacon. He can be reached at stiles@freebeacon.com.

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Pope Says Virus Is Nature’s Response to the Climate Crisis

Oh, put a sock in it, Francis.

Pope Francis is certainly not letting a planetary crisis go to waste. He is trying to piggyback the religion of climate change on the back of the coronavirus pandemic.

MSNNews:

“We did not respond to the partial catastrophes. Who now speaks of the fires in Australia, or remembers that 18 months ago a boat could cross the North Pole because the glaciers had all melted? Who speaks now of the floods?” the Pope said.

“I don’t know if these are the revenge of nature, but they are certainly nature’s responses,” he added.

Huh? What? Have the glaciers all melted? Why didn’t you wake me up? That would have been pretty cool to watch.

For the record, you cannot cross the North Pole. Climate scientists are predicting that by 2050, it might be possible to “sail over the North Pole,” but not now, or 18 months ago, or 18 months from now.

The Vatican fact-checkers blew that one.

The theory that life systems on the world are all interconnected is a well-established one. But that doesn’t mean that a virus, originally found in bats, has anything to do with whatever stress is being placed on life on earth because the climate may be changing.

The coronavirus does not live outside the body. It does not interact with any other life form except the human or animal it’s living in. It can survive outside the human body for several days, making it extremely contagious, but it doesn’t interact with the air or water in our surroundings. In short, there is no evidence that climate change had anything to do with the creation or transmission of this virus.

I guess the pope thought he’d be laughed off the stage if he said it was “God’s response” to climate change, or that God is trying to tell us something about climate. But giving sentience to “nature” is appallingly stupid.

The Hill:

“There is an expression in Spanish: ‘God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives,'” the Pope said in an 
interview with The Tablet, a Catholic weekly produced in the United Kingdom, that was published on Wednesday.

In addition to climate change, the pope believes we should take the “opportunity” to consume less and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world.” Why do liberals always see opportunity in disaster, death, and destruction? Why not just see the tragedy and let “opportunity” take care of itself?

 

 

 

 

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$3 million fund to enhance digital libraries across British Columbia

VICTORIA — Libraries across British Columbia are getting $3 million to enhance their digital services.

The Ministry of Education says the one-time investment will permit greater access to online learning and reading resources.

Just under $2 million will be used to support electronic resource licensing and expand online common collections for all public libraries.

The ministry says in a statement the remainder will go directly to B.C.’s 79 public library systems for everything from expanded wireless networks to buying scanners, tablets, microphones, cameras and other equipment.

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Horowitz: Dr. Birx admits to overcounting COVID-19 deaths, as heart attacks mysteriously plummet

Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/Bloomberg | Getty Images

Why would our governing elites be so motivated to overstate the impact of COVID-19 and scare people beyond the unprecedented levels of panic that are already pervasive in this country?

Believe it or not, the coronavirus epidemic does not stop deaths from other causes. While the politicians are shutting down other medical care in this country, they fail to recognize that life and even death go on. Many of us have been concerned that they have been conflating deaths due to coronavirus with deaths of those who have coronavirus but ultimately succumb to other illnesses. In their quest to continue this degree of fascism, plus in the motivation of some hospitals to get more federal relief funds, there is every incentive to code as many deaths as possible as related to COVID-19.

Yesterday, Dr. Deborah Birx finally let the secret out during the daily press conference in response to a reporter’s question. “I think in this country, we’ve taken a very liberal approach to mortality,” said Dr. Birx, who along with Dr. Anthony Fauci has become the face of this push for a national lockdown.

“There are other countries that if you had a pre-existing condition, and let’s say the virus caused you to go to the ICU [intensive care unit] and then have a heart or kidney problem. Some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death.”

“The intent is if someone dies with COVID-19 we are counting that as a COVID-19 death,” concluded Birx.

https://twitter.com/greg_price11/status/1247669966939262977?s=21

Truth be told, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has already indicated that COVID-19 deaths are not being recorded based on definitive confirmation that the virus caused death in a given decedent. “In cases where a definite diagnosis of COVID–19 cannot be made, but it is suspected or likely, it is acceptable to report COVID–19 on a death certificate as ‘probable’ or ‘presumed’,” the CDC advises in its April guidance for recording COVID-19 deaths. “In these instances, certifiers should use their best clinical judgment in determining if a COVID–19 infection was likely.”

When Birx was asked whether such an approach to toxicology could “skew data,” Birx conceded it might be a possibility in parts of the country where testing is not widespread, but not in the hot spots. “I’m pretty confident that in New York City and New Jersey and places that have these large outbreaks and COVID-only hospitals … I can tell you they are testing,” she said.

But so what if they are testing? There’s a difference between someone dying of COVID-19 and someone dying with COVID-19. Typically, an autopsy would be performed to determine the actual cause of death. This is very important in determining the real fatality rate of the virus.

Some might suggest that it makes sense to count these deaths as COVID-19-related because although some of these people were sick with other ailments, they likely died only due to the virus. But we don’t know that to be true. If that were the case, the number of other common morbidities would be stable as coronavirus deaths skyrocket. However, new anecdotal evidence suggests that heart attack fatalities have mysteriously plummeted.

Harlan Krumholz, a doctor at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, wrote in the New York Times earlier this week that his hospital is eerily empty of heart and stroke patients. While some of this is due to the cancellation of elective surgeries, it doesn’t explain the drop in other medical emergencies that are not elective or planned. “What is striking is that many of the emergencies have disappeared,” wrote Dr. Krumholz.

Heart attack and stroke teams, always poised to rush in and save lives, are mostly idle.  This is not just at my hospital. My fellow cardiologists have shared with me that their cardiology consultations have shrunk, except those related to Covid-19. In an informal Twitter poll by @angioplastyorg, an online community of cardiologists, almost half of the respondents reported that they are seeing a 40 percent to 60 percent reduction in admissions for heart attacks; about 20 percent reported more than a 60 percent reduction.

Dr. Krumholz posits that perhaps some patients are dying in silence at home out of fear of coming to the hospital. He explores possible reasons for a reduction in other illnesses, but seems to believe that, if anything, given the anxiety and stress of this crisis, we should be seeing more heart attacks. It’s one thing to expect car accident fatalities to plummet, given how few people are on the roads. But heart attacks?

While Dr. Krumholz’s main point is to warn people not to be deterred from seeking medical care for other emergencies, perhaps he is glossing over another factor. Could it be that some of those mysteriously absent heart attack and stroke patients are really in the COVID-19 cases?

Dr. Krumholz explains that his fellow doctors actually expected to see more heart attacks because “respiratory infections typically increase the risk of heart attacks.”

“Studies suggest that recent respiratory infections can double the risk of a heart attack or stroke,” observes Krumholz. “The risk seems to begin soon after the respiratory infection develops, so any rise in heart attacks or strokes should be evident by now.”

Well, what if I told you that this is actually happening, but these cases are being recorded as COVID-19 deaths, not as heart attacks, simply because the patient died with the virus?

This is what is so sad about our medical elite in America. There is such an eager agenda to use this crisis to restrict liberties and, as California Governor Gavin Newsom revealed, as “an opportunity to reshape the way we do business and how we govern.”

President Eisenhower famously warned against the “military-industrial complex.” However, just as importantly, during his farewell address in 1961, he warned against the scientific-industrial complex. “Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

As we see one “scientific” model after another proven wrong in pursuit of a police state, perhaps it’s time we call BS on the “scientific-technological elite.”

Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.

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‘Smart’ Locks Leak Personal Data

According to a recent report from the FTC, “smart locks” produced by Tapplock are leaking users’ personal information and not delivered the security they promise.

Ars Technica reports that a recent investigation by the FTC has discovered a smart padlock created by the Canadian firm Tapplock Inc., has a number of digital and physical vulnerabilities that leave users at risk.

The lock, which is shaped like a normal padlock but can be opened via the user’s fingerprint or a Bluetooth app, reportedly has a number of issues that have not been disclosed by manufacturers. In fact, the FTC alleges that Tapplock made a number of false claims and advertisements about the device.

“We allege that Tapplock promised that its Internet-connected locks were secure, but in fact the company failed to even test if that claim was true,” Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a written statement. “Tech companies should remember the basics—when you promise security, you need to deliver security.”

Tapplock’s advertisements state that its flagship product the Tapplock One can store up to 500 user fingerprints and can be connected to an “unlimited” number of devices via an app. Tapplock also collects a great deal of personal information on users including usernames, email addresses, profile photos, location history, and the precise location of a user’s lock.

The complaint from the FTC states that Tapplock’s privacy policy promised, “we take reasonable precautions and follow industry best practices to make sure [personal information] is not inappropriately lost, misused, accessed, disclosed, altered, or destroyed.” But that in June of 2018 three separate security researchers identified “critical physical and electronic vulnerabilities” in the locks.

Read more about the FTC’s complaint at Ars Technica here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com