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Post-Brexit Agrochemical Apocalypse for the UK?

Post-Brexit Agrochemical Apocalypse for the UK?

The British government, regulators and global agrochemical corporations are colluding with each other and are thus engaging in criminal behaviour. That’s the message put forward in a new report written by environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason and sent to the UK Environment Agency. It follows her January 2019 open letter to Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer CropScience, where she made it clear to him that she considers Bayer CropScience and Monsanto criminal corporations.

Her letter to Baumann outlined a cocktail of corporate duplicity, cover-ups and criminality which the public and the environment are paying the price for, not least in terms of the effects of glyphosate. Later in 2019, Mason wrote to Bayer Crop Science shareholders, appealing to them to put human health and nature ahead of profit and to stop funding Bayer.

Mason outlined with supporting evidence how the gradual onset of the global extinction of many species is largely the result of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture. She argued that Monsanto’s (now Bayer) glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide and Bayer’s clothianidin are largely responsible for the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and that the use of glyphosate and neonicotinoid insecticides are wiping out wildlife species across the globe.

In February 2020, Mason wrote the report ‘Bayer Crop Science rules Britain after Brexit – the public and the press are being poisoned by pesticides’. She noted that PM Boris Johnson plans to do a trade deal with the US that could see the gutting of food and environment standards. In a speech setting out his goals for trade after Brexit, Johnson talked up the prospect of an agreement with Washington and downplayed the need for one with Brussels – if the EU insists the UK must stick to its regulatory regime. In other words, he wants to ditch EU regulations.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Intelligence

Intelligence

Sometimes I think I can only do this work properly if I’m angry all the time 24/7. But I don’t want to be angry all the time; what kind of life is that? Still, there are days when I just can’t help it. The British intelligence services (please let find another word for that, so as to not insult actually smart people) came out with a couple anti-Putin press releases today, and there we go again.

We can only guess at what they want this time, whether it to keep the UK’s own “RussiaRussia Putin is Hitler” flame alive, or are they seeking to help their US counterparts to rise from the ashes of their fully discredited years-long Orange Man Bad narratives, but boy, is this nauseating. What’s even worse is that people eat it up like candy.

Guys, this is your own highly paid snoops lying to you -along with your government(s)- like there’s no tomorrow, and you’re just sitting there worrying about wearing a face mask next time you go to a store. Know what that makes you? Sheep. I know y’all still know what those look like, and how they behave. So what’s the attraction?

Here’s BIGLY revelation no. 1 per the BBC. Do note the “almost certain” in both pieces, they need an easy way out if the story doesn’t stick. It also means that obviously they’re not at all certain, they’re just making it up.

Russian Hackers Target COVID19 Vaccine Research

Russian hackers are targeting organisations trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine, a group of national security services has warned. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the hackers “almost certainly” operated as “part of Russian intelligence services”. It said the group used malware to try and steal information relating to Covid-19 vaccine development. NCSC director of operations Paul Chichester said it was “despicable”. The hackers are part of a group called APT29, also known as “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear”.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New UK laws could criminalise journalism

New UK laws could criminalise journalism

 Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II travels to the Opening of Parliament last year. (Photo: EPA-EFE/Facundo Arrizabalaga)  

The British government is pushing ahead with “espionage legislation” that could criminalise the release of public information and impose even stricter controls on the UK media as part of an “epidemic of secrecy”.

British journalists and their sources are facing an unprecedented assault on freedom of speech, including the prospect of criminal prosecution. Threats aimed at whistleblowers and journalists were evident before the coronavirus crisis struck, but went largely unnoticed.

The government’s Queen’s Speech in December included plans for new “espionage legislation”. It stressed the need to combat “hostile state activity” and make the UK “a harder environment for adversaries to operate in” – an indirect reference to the poisoning in Salisbury of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal. 

But it also insisted that the Official Secrets Act, drawn up in 1989, must be “updated” and confirmed that the Law Commission, the body that reviews the law in England and Wales, has been commissioned by the government to do this.

Yet proposals drawn up by the Law Commission to review the Official Secrets Act pose major dangers. Whistleblowers and journalists could be convicted for revealing information about defence, international relations or law enforcement, even if it was unlikely to cause harm. They would make it easier to secure convictions by weakening the existing tests for proving an offence.

Neither would someone revealing danger to the public, abuse of power or serious misconduct be able to argue that they acted in the public interest. In addition, maximum prison sentences on conviction, currently two years under the Official Secrets Act, would be increased.

Moreover, it would not be a defence to show that the information had already lawfully been made public – unless the information had also been “widely disseminated”. How would that be determined?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – May 11th 2020 – Bond Triggers Tumble

Blain’s Morning Porridge – May 11th 2020 – Bond Triggers Tumble

“When this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you’re going to see some serious…. “

After last night’s Boris announcement on not reopening the economy, it clearly doesn’t need any further explanation.. (US Readers – complex sarcasm alert.)

Over the course of the lockdown, I’ve been brushing up on Quantum Entanglement Theory and almost accidently I’ve created a time machine. I’m not quite sure how it works – so I reckon that qualifies me a job in Whitehall – but I was able to download The Morning Porridge from May 2021….. 

*********************

Blain’s Morning Porridge – May 2021

“Sell in May – oh don’t bother – you are already away…” 

It’s just over a year since 20mm Americans lost their jobs in a single month and United Airline’s failed $2 bln bond issue in the first week of May 2020 became the unstable pebble that triggered the most devasting landslide in financial market history. 

All around the globe, bond investors woke up to their doubts on just how much government QE programmes, miniscule yields, and the value of their collateral of unproductive obsolete economic assets could be. Equity holders caught the whiff of panic – figuring out rising P/E’s in a crashing global economy meant nothing – even if central banks were promising to intervene. Sovereign debt buyers went on immediate strike, citing concerns on debasement, inflation, and the implausible promises being made. 

The result was the most precipitious tumble in history – everyone tried to exit the markets and discovered the truth: “there are many ways to buy, but only one exit marked sell.” 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Tests Positive For COVID-19 As Russia, Hungary Expand Lockdowns: Live Updates

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Tests Positive For COVID-19 As Russia, Hungary Expand Lockdowns: Live Updates

Summary: 

  • Boris Johnson tests positive
  • US stock futures turn lower after 3-day rebound
  • Global case total nears 538k
  • US case total nears 86k, with ~1300 deaths
  • China border closure begins
  • 1 in 10 Americans say they know somebody with the virus
  • South Africa lockdown begins as country confirms first 2 deaths
  • Hong Kong reports 65 new cases, largest daily jump
  • Singapore makes standing too close to somebody else illegal
  • North Korea says 2,280 people still in quarantine
  • All of Russia placed on lockdown
  • Hungary PM announces lockdown plans
  • Israel mobilizes army to enforce lockdowns
  • President Xi, Trump promise to “unite” to fight virus during call

*  *  *

Update (0720ET): Just days after placing his entire country on a strict lockdown, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.

Coronavirus: ‘stay at home and save lives’ says Boris Johnson as UK enters tighter lockdown

“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” Johnson tweeted. “I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this.”

Johnson was tested on the advice of England’s chief medical officer, a spokesman  said.

His symptoms are said to be ‘mild’ and he will continue to run the country while self-isolating, just as Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has done.

  • UK PM JOHNSON HAS MILD SYMPTOMS AND WILL SELF ISOLATE
  •  UK PM JOHNSON WILL STILL BE IN CHARGE OF UK GOVT HANDLING OF CRISIS

In a twitter message, Johnson seems to be doing okay. “We will get through it,” he said in a tweeted video message.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘Vague’ Legislation Gives British Police Powers To Detain “Suspected COVID-19 Carriers”

‘Vague’ Legislation Gives British Police Powers To Detain “Suspected COVID-19 Carriers”

The Covid-19 outbreak is on the verge of hurling the UK into a nationwide lockdown, or maybe at least London for starters.

We warned on Monday that “the UK has missed the critical containment window to implement social distancing policies that would flatten the curve and slowdown infections, suggesting the country could see an exponential rise in Covid-19 cases over the next month.”

And wow, the epidemic curve is exponential (as of March 20, 0900ET, there are 3,269 confirmed cases and 144 deaths across the country):Cumulative Confirmed UK Cases

Dominic Raab gives sense of scale facing Foreign Office from Covid-19

UK Virus Map 

With that being said, we noted on Friday morning that upwards of 10,000 troops stand ready to be deployed if social order deteriorates, mostly because supermarkets are running out of food and the healthcare system is “on the brink of collapse.”

As a direct response to the chaos unfolding, the British government is now giving police, public health and immigration officers the right to arrest any suspected COVID-19 carriers under a new emergency bill, reported RT News.

The 329-page emergency bill was published on Thursday and is part of the government’s efforts to enforce more draconian measures to flatten the curve to slowdown infections.UK Coronavirus Bill 

The bill reads, “public health officer, constables and (in some circumstances) immigration officers with the means to enforce sensible public health restrictions, including returning people to places that they have been required to stay. Where necessary and proportionate, constables and immigration officers will be able to direct individuals to attend, remove them to, or keep them at suitable locations for screening and assessment.”

The government also can limit social gatherings for the “purpose of preventing, protecting against, controlling” the virus outbreak.

These draconian measures come as a secret government document was leaked earlier this week that said 80% of Britons could be infected, and the virus would not clear out of the country until Spring 2021. 

No Banker Goes To Jail – Former Barclays Executives Acquitted Of Fraud

No Banker Goes To Jail – Former Barclays Executives Acquitted Of Fraud  

Days after Wells Fargo agreed to pay $35 million to settle regulatory claims that its financial advisors pushed clients into risky exchange-traded funds, three former Barclays executives were acquitted of fraud by a London jury after they were accused of paying secret “fees” to Qatar in return for emergency funding during the financial crisis, reported Reuters

In exchange for rescue financing to avoid nationalization of the bank (which would’ve meant shareholders take deep losses and executives loses their bonuses), Roger Jenkins, Tom Kalaris and Richard Boath (the three former Barclays executives) paid £322 million ($423 million) in “fees” to the Qatari sheikh who arranged the financing. To ensure that the deal went through, the executives allegedly conspired to hide these payments from their investors, the British government, and the press. 

We noted several weeks before the first trial began last January, that after more than a decade since the fall of Lehman Brothers, ushering in the financial crisis, and wrecking the finances of tens of millions of middle-class Americans and citizens of other Western nations, “no bank executives have faced criminal penalties – that is, until very recently.”

The three former executives were on the cusp of facing a maximum of 10 years in jail after a 7.5-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) that charged the three in 2017, alleging they paid a “fee” demanded by Qatar in exchange for investing £4 billion ($5.15 billion) in the bank as part of an £11 billion ($14.15 billion) emergency fundraising in 2008. The funding allowed Barclays to avoid nationalization that would’ve been devastating for shareholder value.  

The acquittals of the three executives is another loss for SFO, which failed to win a separate 2018 trial against Barclays for unlawful financial assistance to Qatar in 2008. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK: Google data transfer to USA just the start – “possibilities for abuse are enormous”

UK: Google data transfer to USA just the start – “possibilities for abuse are enormous”

UK digital transfer to USA - "possibilities for abuse are enormous"

By TruePublica: Google is planning to move its British users’ accounts out of the control of European Union privacy regulators, placing them under US jurisdiction instead, the company confirmed on 19 February. The shift, prompted by Britain’s exit from the EU, will leave the sensitive personal information of tens of millions with less protection and within easier reach of British law enforcement. But it won’t end there.

Alphabet Inc’s Google intends to require its British users to acknowledge new terms of service including the new jurisdiction.

Nothing about our services or our approach to privacy will change, including how we collect or process data, and how we respond to law enforcement demands for users’ information,” Google said in an emailed statement. “The protections of the UK GDPR will still apply to these users.” If that was true, they would leave it where it was and not go to the expense. This is just the start of much more to come.

Unsurprisingly, a spokesman declined to answer questions.

Mission creep

The British state is the West’s worst offender for breaches of privacy, mass surveillance and using its secretive 360-degree architecture of civilian supervision and control. For the government, more surveillance and gathered data is better, not worse. But Google’s announcement will be followed by the other big tech firms and digital startups will look upon the UK as an increased opportunity to make money from fewer safeguards.

It was only a two months ago that the Times reported that a leading British trade economist had warned that NHS patient data will be exploited by US technology companies under a trade deal with America. Alan Winters, director of the Trade Policy Observatory at Sussex University, said clauses on data sharing and algorithms that US negotiators want inserted into a deal will be used to capture the value in NHS patient records, estimated at £10 billion a year.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We’re Asking One Question In Assange’s Case: Should Journalists Be Punished For Exposing War Crimes?

We’re Asking One Question In Assange’s Case: Should Journalists Be Punished For Exposing War Crimes?

This is a speech I gave yesterday at a demonstration for Assange with the Socialist Equality Party Australia.

Tomorrow in the UK a judge will start the process of answering a very important question. It’s a question that many of us knew was the heart of this debate back in 2010, ten years ago, when this all started. It’s a question that they have been obfuscating, bloviating, huffily denying, smearing, gaslighting, and distracting from–basically doing anything they can to hide it from view.

It’s a question that they don’t want the public to know that we are answering. A question that goes to the heart of democracy, and to the heart of the role of the fourth estate, journalism. And that question is this:

Should journalists and publishers be punished for exposing US war crimes?

And, ancillary to that question: should we allow them to be punished by the very people who committed those war crimes?

Is that something that we want for our world, ongoing? Because our answer to this question is going to shape our society, our civilization, for generations to come.

There is no coming back from this for a very long time should the answer be, “Yes! Yes, it’s fine, war criminals should go ahead and punish journalists for publishing true facts about their war crimes.”

If we allow the answer to be yes, then we’re stuck with the endless stupid wars that everyone wants done with, from Melbourne to Kabul, from Sydney to Syria–right across the world people are done with these stupid wars for profit.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK Warns Coronavirus Is “Imminent Threat” After Suspected “Super Spreader” Returns From Singapore

UK Warns Coronavirus Is “Imminent Threat” After Suspected “Super Spreader” Returns From Singapore

Monday was supposed to mark the official ‘return to work’ for many companies around China. That hasn’t exactly panned out…


China is going back to work.


…though the image presented by state controlled media was somewhat more optimistic.


Along with many other Chinese cities, Monday marked the first working day in Shanghai after the long Spring festival break. The flow of commuters and traffic amid the #coronavirus outbreak increased significantly compared to previous days. http://bit.ly/31FfYFe  #NCP


Still, western media reported that “millions” returned to work on Monday, even if large swaths of the Chinese economy remained shut down, CNN reports. However, many will be working from home if possible. The total number of cases worldwide has now topped 40,000, while the death toll has hit 910, according to the most up-to-date data from the SCMP:

But even as workers started to log back in, or even returned to the office in some rare cases, nearly 100 more were declared dead from the outbreak, a daily record. Meanwhile, as we noted last night, the WHO – which previously had aggressively kowtowed to Beijing – said the number of cases outside China could be  “just the tip of the iceberg,” according to Reuters.

Across mainland China, 3,062 new infections were confirmed on Sunday, bringing the total number to 40,171, according to the National Health Commission (NHC).

Wu Fan, vice-dean of Shanghai Fudan University Medical school, said there was hope the spread might soon reach a turning point.

“The situation is stabilising,” she told a briefing when asked about the spread in Shanghai, which has had nearly 300 cases and one death.

But WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking in Geneva, said there had been “concerning instances” of transmission from people who had not been to China.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

International Group Of Doctors Warns Assange Will “Die In Prison” Without Urgent Medical Care

International Group Of Doctors Warns Assange Will “Die In Prison” Without Urgent Medical Care

With Washington fighting tooth-and-nail to extradite him from the UK, the notion that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange might die in prison is looking increasingly probable. At this point, it’s more a matter of when: A few weeks, or a few decades.

Assange’s health has reportedly deteriorated to such a terrifying degree that a group of 60 doctors have written an open letter warning that they fear the renegade journalist could soon die in a British jail if he doesn’t receive more intensive medical care, the Guardianreports. 

In the “open” letter (which was nevertheless still addressed to British Home Secretary Priti Patel), the doctors called for Assange to be moved to a university teaching hospital from his current digs at the Belmarsh Prison on southeast London.

The doctors based their assessment of Assange’s health on the “harrowing eyewitness accounts” of his Oct. 21 court appearance in London and a Nov. 1 report by Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, who has repeatedly issued warnings about Assange’s treatment by the British. In his November report, Melzer said warned that Assange’s “continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life.”

In the letter – which stretched to 16 pages – the doctors expressed “serious concerns” about Assange’s mental and physical health.

“We write this open letter, as medical doctors, to express our serious concerns about the physical and mental health of Julian Assange,” the letter read.

They expressed doubts about his ability to withstand the full extradition hearing, which is presently set for February.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Assange Is The Only One To Abide By The Law

Assange Is The Only One To Abide By The Law

Salvador Dali Self portrait  1921

On October 21 2019, Brexit became an entirely irrelevant issue. Or perhaps we should say it had already become that, but on that date it was exposed for all to see that it was. The parading into a courtroom of Julian Assange in London was all the evidence one could need that the UK government breaks its own laws as well as numerous international laws, with impunity. But that is not how the media reported on it, if it did at all.

And so, the core issue behind Brexit, i.e. who makes Britain’s laws, turned to nothing. If your government breaks its own laws all the time, what does it matter where those laws are made? They are meaningless anyway. Whether they come from Brussels or London make no difference if the government and judicial system don’t abide by them. Those million men marches for a Final Say look totally ridiculous once that reality sinks in.

I can’t get the picture of Julian Assange as he looked on Monday out of my head. I’ve written so much about him, tried so hard to find support for him, and now to see him withered away and perhaps not strong enough to see the end of his own extradition hearing is heartbreaking. So let’s go through the whole thing again; it’s not like I could write about anything else right now. I was thinking again yesterday about a song I used in an earlier article about Julian, I Fought the Law.

That is how the vast majority of people will see his case, that he fought the law and the law caught up with him. But that’s not at all what’s been happening. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – October 21st 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge  – October 21st 2019 

“If you wake up on a Casper mattress, work out with a Peloton before breakfast, Uber to your desk at a WeWork, order DoorDash for lunch, take a Lyft home, and get dinner through Postmates, you’ve interacted with seven companies that will collectively lose nearly $14 billion this year.”

It’s a big week for markets with the ECB meeting, some critical Q3 stock numbers and a host of things to worry about in terms of economic releases and the continuing slowing of the Chinese economy. Its all critical stuff for the bond market – which I reckon is a ticking time-bomb. But more about that later… For stock markets, the quote this morning sums it up – the mood is changing: forget the disruptive tech unicorns and focus on fundamentals. But, first up we really can’t ignore the Brexit mess in the UK.  Saturday’s SNAFU gives investors another chance to load up on Sterling.  At some point Brexit will be fixed.  It might be messy. 

Brexxxxxxiiiiitttt….. 

I am sure foreign readers are wondering how the Mother of All Parliaments is making such a Horlicks of the Brexit negotiations.  It really doesn’t look good does it?   On the other hand, it does show the vibrancy of our political process, and the fact individuals can force it to change. It’s just a shame so many of these individuals seen to be self-seeking egotistical numpties of the worst kind – but even Oliver Letwin has a mother that probably loves him.  

The reason Brexit is so messy is simple. It boils down to weak government – which is a recent thing here in the UK. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Elites “Going Rogue” Suggests The Global Neoliberal Architecture Is Collapsing

Elites “Going Rogue” Suggests The Global Neoliberal Architecture Is Collapsing

Listen carefully. That is the sound of going rogue – and bond yields further through the floor.

Yesterday UK PM Boris Johnson announced he is going to prorogue–or close–Parliament, meaning that when MPs come back to sit next week they will only do so briefly, and will then not return until 14 October, when there will be a new Queen’s Speech to launch BoJo’s slate of legislation as the new PM. So far, so technical. Yet what this effectively means is that there will be a very narrow window next week, and then a slightly larger one in the final two weeks of October, for Parliament to act to prevent Hard Brexit on Halloween.

This is explosive and unprecedented stuff, politically. The British constitution is largely unwritten and so allows wiggle room, and the government insists they have checked the legality of all they are proposing; nonetheless, as the press and opposition note, it smells awful. This is clearly a case of Erskine May (the ‘parliamentary bible’ that looks and sounds like it belongs in a Harry Potter tale) turning into Erskine Maybe or Erskine Might.

Indeed, BoJo is being accused of a “coup”, a “constitutional outrage”, an “abomination”, and of being a “tinpot dictator”, though this being the UK, perhaps that should be “teapot”; but there is not just tea but a genuinely revolutionary atmosphere brewing. Bob Kerslake, former head of the civil service, is quoted in the Guardian as stating:

We are reaching the point where the civil service must consider putting its stewardship of the country ahead of service to the government of the day.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Bank’s ‘Stress’ Tests

THE BANK’S ‘STRESS’ TESTS

MY REPORT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND’S LATEST (NOVEMBER 2018) STRESS TESTS WAS PUBLISHED BY THE ADAM SMITH INSTITUTE ON AUGUST 3RD.

The purpose of the stress tests is, in essence, to persuade us that the banking system is in good shape on the basis of a make-believe exercise which purports to show what might happen in the event of a supposed severe stress scenario as modelled by a central bank with a dodgy model and a vested interest in showing that the banking system is in great shape thanks to its own wise policies.

We are expected to believe that the central bank has managed to rebuild the banking system despite enormous pressure placed on it by the institutions it regulates, whose principal objective is to run down their capital ratios (or equivalently, maximise their leverage) in order to boost their returns on equity and resulting short-term profits, and never mind the systemic risks and associated costs imposed on everyone else or the damage their high leverage did in the Global Financial Crisis.

These latest Bank of England’s stress tests were published in the Bank’s November 2018 Financial Stability Report, the core message of which was that the UK banking system was doing just great, but that a No-Deal Brexit would be a disaster. Wrong on both counts.

I will focus here on the first issue, the state of the banking system.

In essence, the Bank paints a reassuring picture of bank resilience. The message is that the UK banking system is now so strong that it could sail through another crisis that is more severe than the last one and still be in good shape. How do we know this? Because the stress tests tell us, claims the Bank. However, the truth is that the Bank’s stress tests are useless at detecting bank fragility.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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