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Today’s News: September 21, 2020

World News

Pompeo Announces US Sanctions on Venezuela’s Maduro, Iran’s Ministry of Defence

Sputnik – Late last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that all the UN sanctions against Iran are coming into force and that Washington is ready to punish those UN Security Council members that are against the sanctions.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced new sanctions on the Iranian Defence Ministry and the Islamic Republic’s other officials, involved in the country’s nuclear and missile programmes. 

Pompeo told reporters on Monday that the US specifically slapped sanctions on two individuals who he claimed play an essential role in Iran’s uranium enrichment operations.

“Today, I will take the first action under this new executive order by sanctioning the Iranian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, and Iran’s Defense Industries Organization and its director”, he noted.

Separately, the Secretary of State said that the new US sanctions were imposed against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro over his bolstering ties with Tehran. 

“We’re also sanctioning the previous president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro. For nearly two years, corrupt officials in Tehran had worked with the illegitimate regime in Venezuela to flout the UN arms embargo”, Pompeo said.

US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, for his part, said that the Trump administration has authorised sanctions on states, companies, and individuals who assist Iran in weapons trade.

US Believes Iran Likely To Have Enough Fissile Material For Nuclear Bomb By Year’s End

ZeroHedge – administration is claiming the authority to imposed based on the JCPOA nuclear deal which it backed out of more than two years ago.

Could the stage be set for an October Surprise in the form of a Bush-style preemptive attack on Iran? 

Will we witness a little ‘shock and awe’ in the weeks before November?

But then of course none of this is new territory.

We’ve been told going back to the 1990’s that Iran is always “months” or “weeks” away from acquiring a nuclear bomb. The “clock is ticking” we’ve been assured now for years and even decades. 

Pompeo on Saturday announced the restoration of all sanctions on Iran, following the expiration of a 30-day window for the Islamic Republic to come back into conformity to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

But as even America’s European allies point out, Washington is attempting to uphold ‘snapback’ sanctions based on a deal it pulled out of in May 2018. Undeterred, Pompeo announced the re-implementation of “virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“The United States took this decisive action because, in addition to Iran’s failure to perform its JCPOA commitments, the Security Council failed to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, which had been in place for 13 years,” Pompeo’s statement asserted.

“The Security Council’s inaction would have paved the way for Iran to buy all manner of conventional weapons on Oct. 18. Fortunately for the world, the United States took responsible action to stop this from happening. In accordance with our rights under UNSCR 2231, we initiated the snapback process to restore virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions, including the arms embargo. The world will be safer as a result,” it continued.

Predictably, Iran fired back on Sunday, with President Hassan Rouhani warning that a “crushing response” is coming. 

Underscoring America’s extreme isolation related to the UN arms embargo, which last month the UN Security Council refused to extend even amid a full US push to force the issue, Rouhani said Washington is facing “certain defeat”. This also as Russia and China are among significant powers that will help Iran thwart the US-led blockade.

“America is approaching a certain defeat in its sanctions move … It faced defeat and negative response from the international community. We will never yield to US pressure and Iran will give a crushing response to America’s bullying,” Rouhani said in a televised address according to Reuters. He added:

“America’s maximum pressure against Iran, in its political and legal aspects, has turned into America’s maximum isolation.”

The question remains whether UN member states will ultimately cave to US pressure. Pompeo’s announcement put the UN on notice, saying its members must follow through on the following:

  • Arms embargo.
  • Restrictions on uranium enrichment
  • Bans on ballistic missle testing or development
  • Sanctions on the transfer of missile-related technology.

The US presidential election will be a big determinant of how all of this is resolved, with the Trump administration thus far appearing unrelenting in following its path of ‘maximum pressure’ on the Iranians.

UK Unveils Harsh $13,000 Fine For Breaking Quarantine Amid Covid 2nd Wave

ZeroHedge – The UK witnessed new record coronavirus case numbers reported in a single day since May on Saturday, logging over 4,420 confirmed infections. 

And now authorities are getting desperate, threatening severe law enforcement measures and penalties, with the latest being that those who test positive but refuse to self-quarantine can be hit with a fine up to $13,000 (or 10,000 pounds).

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the country is undergoing an “inevitable” second wave of infections on Friday.

Via The Daily Records

“Obviously, we’re looking carefully at the spread of the pandemic as it evolves over the last few days, and there’s no question, as I’ve said for several weeks now, that we could expect, and we are now seeing, a second wave coming in,” Johnson said.

He referenced case number spikes seen in nearby Spain and France, saying that it’s “absolutely inevitable, I’m afraid, that we would see it in this country.”

The new harsh penalty of the equivalent of a $13,000 fine takes effect by the end of this month, per the AP:

The new rule obliges people to self-isolate if they test positive for the coronavirus or are traced as a close contact. The rule comes into effect on Sept. 28.

The government will help those on lower incomes who face a loss of earnings as a result of self-isolating with a one-time support payment of 500 pounds ($633).

Amid continuing protests in London by Britons fed up with restricted freedoms, including mask and social distancing mandates and security crackdowns, PM Johnson’s latest comments also strongly hinted that a second lockdown is on the table, such as Israel is experiencing.

“I don’t think anybody wants to go into a second lockdown, but clearly when you look at what is happening, you’ve got to wonder whether we need to go further than the rule of six that we brought in on Monday,” Johnson said.

Assange’s Removal From Embassy Was Coordinated on ‘Direct Orders From the US President’, Court Told

Sputnik – Journalist Cassandra Fairbanks has informed the court in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing that Arthur Schwartz, who is known as Donald Trump Jr’s “fixer”, had advance warning of the US indictment against the WikiLeaks publisher.

Julian Assange’s removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy was done so “on direct orders from the [US] president”, according to information provided to American journalist Cassandra Fairbanks. 

Ms Fairbanks’ explosive testimony would appear to support to position that Mr Assange’s prosecution has a political dimension and reflected a shift in the government’s attitude with a change in administration from that of former president Barack Obama.

According to Ms Fairbanks’ witness statement, which was read into the court by the defence in Mr Assange’s extradition hearing on 21 September 2020, she was contacted by Arthur Schwartz, “a wealthy GOP donor who does communications for [former Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell] and works as an informal adviser to Donald Trump Jr”. During this phone call, which Ms Fairbanks recorded, Mr Schwartz was panicking because he believed a Tweet that she published revealed “classified information”.

Ms Fairbanks attempted to calm down Mr Schwartz saying that she didn’t publish classified information and that she merely shared a link to a report from ABC news which described the role that Mr Grenell played in coordinating Mr Assange’s release.

Argentinian President Joins 12 Other World Leaders to Denounce Prosecution of Julian Assange

Sputnik – Over 167 notable ministers, heads of state and parliamentarians have added their names to the growing list of those calling for an end to the prosecution of WikiLeaks publisher and award-winning journalist Julian Assange.

President Alberto Fernández of Argentina and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Moros have joined 11 former presidents from 11 different countries in endorsing an open letter blasting the prosecution of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. The letter describes the 17 Espionage Act charges against Mr Assange as violating “the right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press and the right to know”.

Campaign group Lawyers for Assange organised the letter, which was originally published on 14 August, and had the support of over 189 jurists, lawyers, academics and lawyers associations before this latest set of endorsements. The letter, which is addressed to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson along with other high ranking cabinet members, echoes the assessment of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, saying that:

“The broad and vague nature of the allegations against Julian Assange, and of the offences listed in the indictment, are troubling as many of them concern activities at the core of investigative journalism in Europe and beyond.”

“Extradition on the basis of the indictment would gravely endanger freedom of the press, a cornerstone of European democracies enshrined in Art. 10 [of the European Convention on Human Rights]”, according to the open letter.

It also brings particular attention to the finding by UN torture expert Nils Melzer that Mr Assange showed clear signs of psychological torture and decries the fact that he has been “denied time and facilities to prepare his defence in violation of the principle of equality of arms which is inherent to the presumption of innocence and the rule of law”.

The list of notables also includes former Brazilian presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Roussef, former Colombian president Ernesto Samper, Bolivia’s ex-president Evo Morales Ayma, Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa of Ecuador and former Spanish president José Luis Zapatero. The current and former world leaders are further accompanied by the endorsements of 153 other politicians, diplomats and government ministers from 27 countries around the world.

WHO Thanks Russia for Developing ‘Safe and Effective Sputnik V Vaccine’, Regional Head Says

Sputnik – The first officially registered vaccine against COVID-19, developed by the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, is now undergoing Phase 3 trials involving around 2,000 people around the world.

“The WHO greatly appreciates the efforts that the Russian Federation has made to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, namely Sputnik V. Once again I want to thank Russia for its excellent efforts to create a safe and effective vaccine”, Regional Director for Europe at the WHO Hans Kluge said after a meeting with Russian Minister of Health Mikhail Murashko.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87

‘Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,’ Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. said

Fox – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the enigmatic, longtime Supreme Court justice who attained near cult-like status among progressive circles, died Friday at the age of 87 from complications surrounding metastatic pancreatic cancer.

The late Supreme Court justice, who spent more than two decades on the bench in the highest court of the land, is survived by her two children, Jane Carol and James Steven Ginsburg.

“Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. said in a Friday evening statement. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Justice Ginsburg: ‘I Would Not Look to the US Constitution’

DailySignal – Conservatives are often ridiculed for criticizing activist judges who fail to respect the Constitution. We are told that it is not conservative originalists (labeled ignorant and extremist) but rather enlightened liberal judges—with their nuanced understanding of constitutional penumbras—who truly respect the spirit of the Constitution.

Conservatives, however, have good reason to be skeptical of the left’s “respect’’ for the Constitution. Just last week, for example, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told an Egyptian TV station that she would not recommend the U.S. Constitution as model for Egypt’s new government.

The problem, you see, is that the U.S. Constitution is “a rather old constitution.” Ginsburg suggested that Egyptians should look instead to the Constitution of South Africa or perhaps the European Convention on Human Rights. All these are “much more recent than the U.S. Constitution.”

Ginsburg’s comments echo those by Washington University professor David Law, who published a study with Mila Versteeg on the U.S. Constitution’s declining influence worldwide. In an interview, Law unfavorably compared the Constitution to “Windows 3.1”—outdated and unattractive in a world of sleek and sexy modern constitutions. Such obsession with the age of the Constitution is both absurd and irrelevant.

For one, the Constitution is still among the shortest and most elegantly written constitutions in the world. By contrast, South Africa’s constitution is well over 100 pages long, filled with tables, schedules, and such stirring passages as detailed provisions for a Financial and Fiscal Commission: “A. National legislation referred to in subsection (1) must provide for the participation of – a. the Premiers in the compilation of a list envisaged in subsection (1) (b); and b. organized local government in the compilation of a list envisaged in subsection (1) (c).” And you thought the U.S. Constitution was hard to read.

Equally ridiculous is the claim that the Constitution is too antiquated to apply to the modern world. The principles of the Constitution, although first articulated centuries ago, are not tied to the material conditions of a bygone age. They rest on that most solid and enduring of all foundations: human nature. The Constitution itself contains no policy prescriptions. Rather, it is a short, elegantly written document that create a framework for a free people to confront the political questions of their times.

Of course, the real reason progressives swoon over South Africa’s constitution is that it goes far beyond merely establishing a framework for government and guarantees progressive policies—for example, by requiring legislation that prevents pollution and ecological degradation. In other words, the left’s real discontent with the U.S. Constitution is that it does not require Americans to adopt a progressive government and expansive welfare state that provides for every “right” social scientists can justify.

Americans should be very wary of those who would seek to upend the Constitution from the firm grounding in human nature that has allowed it to endure for more than two centuries and would transform it into an instrument devoted to policies of passing whimsy.

5 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Supreme Court rulings to

Fox – Ruth Bader Ginsburg served on the bench of the highest court for over two decades before she passed away Friday from complications of cancer.

She became the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton after a career defined by fighting for women’s reproductive rights, gender equality and other progressive causes. Prior to becoming a judge, she worked as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union and as its General Counsel from 1973–1980.

Over her years on the bench, she’s been part of some notable rulings.

Below is a list of five that includes:

United States v. Virginia

Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion that ended single-sex admission at the Virginia Military Institute. The school argued that women were not suited to train at the academy or endure its education model.

Furthermore, it argued that its exclusive admissions policy was in line with other educational institutions in the state. It cited Mary Baldwin University, a women’s liberal arts college.

The United States filed a lawsuit against the policy, saying it violated the 14th Amendment, which confers citizenship upon anyone born in the U.S.

“Neither the goal of producing citizen soldiers nor VMI’s implementing methodology is inherently unsuitable to women,” Ginsburg wrote. “Surely that goal is great enough to accommodate women, who today count as citizens in our American democracy equal in stature to men.”

Stenberg v. Carhart

Ginsburg cited Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey to argue that a Nebraska law banning partial birth abortion did not seek to protect the lives of women as it was written. Under the law, doctors could lose their medical license for performing the procedure if done so without regard to the health of the expecting mother.

In 2000, the court struck down the law after finding it violated due process.

“A state regulation that ‘has the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus, violates the Constitution,” Ginsburg wrote. “Such an obstacle exists if the State stops a woman from choosing the procedure her doctor reasonably believes will best protect the woman in [the] exercise of [her] constitutional liberty.”

Bush v. Gore

The court decision to end a manual recount of ballots in Florida to decide the outcome of the 2000 presidential election effectively handed the presidency to George W. Bush. The Bush campaign had filed an application to halt a recount while the campaign for Vice President Al Gore sought to keep it going.

Ginsburg famously wrote “I dissent” in remarks to argue her objection to the decision. The phrase was an apparent departure from the tradition of using the term “respectfully.”

Safford Unified School District v. Redding

The Supreme Court ruled that the Fourth Amendment rights of a 13-year-old girl were violated when Arizona school officials subjected her to a strip search. In 2003, an assistant principal at Safford Middle School in Safford, Ariz., instructed the girl to remove her outer clothing after another student accused her of handing out prescription and over-the-counter medication.

A search of her belongings found nothing.

In her opinion, Ginsburg called the treatment of the girl “abusive” and said it was “not reasonable for him to believe that the law permitted it.”

In an interview with USA Today, she expressed frustration with her male colleagues who minimized the girl’s experience.

“They have never been a 13-year-old girl,” she said. “It’s a very sensitive age for a girl. I didn’t think that my colleagues, some of them, quite understood.”

Ledbetter V. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

In 2007, the court ruled 5-4 in favor of the tire giant after a female employee claimed she was paid less than her male counterparts. Lilly Ledbetter attributed the pay disparity to her gender, which violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act, she argued.

Goodyear argued that claims of discrimination should be filed within 180 days of the alleged violation, which had not occurred, meaning Ledbetter could only legally claim 180 days of pay discrimination rather than her nearly two decades of her employment with the company.

In her dissenting opinion, Ginsburg highlighted the issue of pay disparity over long periods of time.

“Pay disparities often occur, as they did in Ledbetter’s case, in small increments; cause to suspect that discrimination is at work develops only over time,” she wrote. “Comparative pay information, moreover, is often hidden from the employee’s view. Employers may keep under wraps the pay differentials maintained among supervisors, no less the reasons for those differentials.

“Her initial readiness to give her employer the benefit of the doubt should not preclude her from later challenging the then current and continuing payment of a wage depressed on account of her sex,” she continued.

Trump fires back after Dems indicate impeachment could be used to block court nominee: ‘If they do that, we win’

The president on ‘Fox & Friends’ said nominating a justice is part of his constitutional duty

Fox – President Trump on Monday claimed he would win the presidential election if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi actually attempted to use impeachment as an option to block his eventual Supreme Court nominee from being confirmed to the seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Over the weekend, after it was announced that Ginsburg had passed away on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., vowed that a Trump nominee to the Supreme Court to fill her vacancy “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

In response, Pelosi, D-Calif., in an interview, would not rule out impeachment as an option to stop a Trump nominee from being confirmed to the bench of the high court by the Senate.

The president, though, during an exclusive interview on “Fox & Friends” Monday morning, said nominating a justice to the high court is part of his constitutional duty.

“I heard if I [nominate], they’re going to impeach me,” Trump said Monday during an exclusive interview with “Fox & Friends.”

“So they’re impeaching me for doing what constitutionally I have to do,” he said. “If they do that, we win all elections.”

The president added that he thinks that if House Democrats move ahead with impeachment of any kind, his “numbers will go up.”

“I think we’ll win the entire election,” he said. “I think we’re going to win back the House, I think we’re going to win the House anyway.”

The president’s comments come after Pelosi, D-Calif., in an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” was asked by George Stephanopoulos about the possibility of using impeachment as an option.

“We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now, but the fact is we have a big challenge in our country,” Pelosi said. “This president has threatened to not even accept the results of the election.”

She added: “Our main goal would be to protect the integrity of the election as we protect the people from the coronavirus.”

Pelosi was pressed again on whether she would employ impeachment tactics, to which she said the Constitution requires that Congress “use every arrow in our quiver.”

“We have a responsibility,” Pelosi said. “We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. We have a responsibility to meet the needs of the American people.”

She added: “When we weigh the equities of protecting our democracy, it requires us to use every arrow in our quiver.”

The White House on Sunday slammed Pelosi’s suggestion, as a “bizarre and dangerous” power grab.

“The Speaker threatened to impeach the President—again—for simply fulfilling his constitutional obligation,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern told Fox News. “Numerous Democrats are threatening to pack the court and say things like ‘nothing is off the table.’ These are bizarre and dangerous power grabs by Democrats who will stop at nothing to erode the Constitution to enact their radical agenda.”

He added: “President Trump will fulfill his constitutional duty to protect our God given rights and do his part to fill the seat.”

Massive ‘F–k Cuomo and de Blasio’ mural painted on Brooklyn street

For less than 24 hours, an all-caps, block-length message painted in yellow contained the rage of New York City

Fox – For nearly 24 hours this weekend, an all-caps, block-long message painted in yellow on a Brooklyn street contained the rage of New York City: “F–k Cuomo and de Blasio.”

The New York Post reported the shout-out to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was created around 1 a.m. Saturday during an annual block party that also served as a “small business owner protest.”

“A few partygoers got the idea to paint in huge [letters, using] yellow paint with rollers on North 15th, ‘F–k Cuomo and de Blasio,’” an unidentified attendee said Sunday. “The party continued. Everyone took photos. It was a big hit. The crowds cheered, even the cops chuckled.”

The Department of Transportation covered the street art in black around 10 p.m. Saturday.

“They told the partygoers it came from up top and they were told the sign said ‘F–k the police,’” the unidentified attendee reported.

The street art was written in the style of city-sanctioned projects reading “Black Lives Matter” that popped up during summer protests, including one outside of Manhattan’s Trump Tower, which de Blasio was seen personally helping  create and which also has become a vandalism magnet.

Cuomo and de Blasio have been routinely criticized for their leadership during the coronavirus lockdown and economic fallout.

As some U.S. college students party, others blow the whistle

Reuters – Some U.S. college students are doing the once-improbable: blowing the whistle on classmates who break rules aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus.

 At the University of Missouri, one senior is posting photos and videos on a “University of Misery” Twitter account that shows students gathered in large groups at pools, outside bars and other places – few of them wearing masks.

The university has a form on its website where violations of the school’s COVID-19 guidelines can be anonymously reported, but posting on Twitter “adds a different level of accountability,” said the student.

“When it’s up there publicly and people are retweeting it, and the university’s getting tagged over and over – then they have to reply,” said the student, who sometimes posts videos and photos of non-compliance sent by other students and asked for anonymity to avoid backlash.

Christian Basi, spokesman for the University of Missouri, which has about 30,000 students, said there has been good compliance on campus during daytime hours but problems arise once students leave campus.

Jimmy Kimmel Gets FORCED To Recite ‘Black Lives Matter’ Onstage At The Emmys

National File – Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel got publicly bossed around for being white during the awards show broadcast Sunday night, awkwardly going along with a Black Lives Matter-themed presentation by actor Anthony Anderson that crossed the line into anti-white racism. It appears that Kimmel was not prepared for Anderson’s racial diatribe, meekly trying to cut Anderson off based on an agreement they apparently made in rehearsal, but once Anderson got going Kimmel merely played second fiddle. It is also possible that the segment was set up in advance, with Kimmel pretending to be clueless as Anderson railed against the Emmys ceremony itself and also against Vice President Mike Pence. Anderson forced Kimmel to applaud for him, to not “whitesplain” to him to repeatedly recite the words “Black Lives Matter,” and to cede his place on the stage to Anderson. Kimmel, the low-rated leftist ABC late-night host, seemed powerless. The lack of a live audience at the event made the segment even more awkward.

Watch here: 

Economy & Business

Some of the world’s biggest banks including HSBC and Barclays ‘let criminals and fraudsters move dirty money around the globe – in some cases even after being told’ global investigation reveals

Daily Mail – Some of the world’s biggest banks let criminals and fraudsters move dirty money around the world, according to leaked financial dossiers. 

Banking papers detailing $2 trillion in dealings were analysed after being leaked to Buzzfeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which distributed them to 108 news organisations, BBC Panorama said.

HSBC is one of several international banks whose name appears most in the cache of thousands of secret US government documents called the FinCEN files.

They show that HSBC continued shuttling funds through to accounts in Hong Kong months after it was warned about the Ponzi scheme worth £62 million. 

When HSBC, the UK’s largest bank, closed down the fraudsters’ accounts they had already been drained of the millions.

HSBC said in a statement that ‘all of the information provided by the ICIJ is historical.’

The bank said as of 2012, ‘HSBC embarked on a multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime across more than 60 jurisdictions.’  

Along with HSBC, the other international banks which appeared most often in the documents were JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and Bank of New York Mellon, the ICIJ reported.  

Among the types of transactions highlighted by the report: funds processed by JPMorgan for potentially corrupt individuals and companies in Venezuela, Ukraine and Malaysia; and money linked to a Ukrainian billionaire processed by Deutsche Bank.

One of Vladimir Putin’s closest friends, billionaire Arkady Rotenberg may have used Barclays Bank in London to launder cash and avoid sanctions, the documents suggest. 

In March 2014, Russia was hit with sanctions after the annexation of Crimea.

Rotenberg, a childhood friend of Putin, and his brother Boris were designated ‘members of the Russian leadership’s inner circle,’ by the US Treasury Department.

It is alleged that an account called Advantage Alliance, set up with Barclays in 2008, was used by Rotenberg to transfer funds to buy millions of pounds worth of art in London. 

The leaked dossiers suggest that many of the transactions through the account came after the Rotenberg brothers had been sanctioned.  

Global Debt Is Exploding At A Shocking Rate

ZeroHedge – The primary reason why the global financial system is on the verge of daily collapse, and is only held together with monetary superglue and central bank prayers thanks to now constant intervention of central banks, is because of debt. And, as BofA’s Barnaby Martin succinctly puts it, much more debt is coming since “the legacy of the COVID shock is debt, debt and more debt.” In short: use even more debt to “fix” a debt probem.

So in this world of explosive credit expansion coupled with tumbling economic output where helicopter money has become the norm, central banks – and specifically the ECB – are scaling their QE policies to monetize and absorb much of this debt (relieving the pressure on private investors to buy bonds), more debt “hotspots” mean more vulnerabilities for the global economy.

We won’t preach about the consequences of this debt binge which has catastrophic consequences – we do enough of that already – but below we lay out some of the more stunning facts of global debt levels at the end of Q1 2020 as compiled by the BIS, courtesy of Martin:

  • Global debt/GDP surged to an all-time high in Q1 ’20, with overall debt for the non-financial sector now worth 252% of global GDP. This is up from 241% at the end of 2019, the biggest quarterly jump ever according to BIS data.
  • The chart also confirms that central bank inflation targets are higher, much higher than the “”official 2%: to erase this debt, central banks needs inflation to be in the 10%+ range. Anything below that would require debt defaults instead of inflation to wipe away the debt… and that is unacceptable.
  • This increase reflects the fallout from the first few weeks of the COVID crisis, with most advanced economies implementing total or partial lockdowns in March. Hence, the historical contraction in GDP growth observed worldwide in Q2 and the debt surge from both governments and non-financial corporations will translate into an even bigger rise in the global leverage ratio in Q2 ’20.
  • Pre-existing vulnerabilities have been laid bare by the nature of the COVID shock. While both advanced economies (DM) and emerging markets (EM) have seen their leverage ratios jump, the latter have observed a rapid increase since 2012 (Chart 13). The relatively deeper COVID recession expected for some EM economies – the OECD Sep ‘2020 Economic Outlook sees India and South Africa GDP falling by 10.2% and 11.5%, respectively – will likely magnify the jump in some EM’s leverage ratios.
  • By sectors, governments drove the big uptick in debt/GDP in Q1 ’20. The global sovereign debt-to-GDP ratio has reached 89%, up 10 percentage points, the largest quarterly rise on record.
  • Debt service ratios ticked up, but only marginally, reflective of the tremendous QE support unleashed by central banks this year.

2020 Has Been A “Nightmare Year” For America, And The Economic Fallout Is Just Getting Started

Michael Snyder – Most of us have never experienced a year that has been as tough as 2020 has been for our nation.  It has just been one major crisis after another, and the month of September has brought us even more trouble.  The worst wildfire season in the history of the state of California has been making headlines day after day, and now the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg threatens to escalate the political turmoil in this nation to an entirely new level.  Many had such high hopes for 2020, but at this point this year has been such a disaster that USA Today is calling it “an American nightmare”, and it is difficult to argue with their reasoning…

First the pandemic, which divided us, economically devastated us, and has killed nearly 200,000 of us. Then the racial unrest, erupting at the deaths of more Black Americans at the hands of police: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude.

Now the extreme weather. For only the second time in history, the National Hurricane Center has moved into the Greek alphabet for storm names. This season’s wildfires are bigger, deadlier and more frequent than in years past. In the West, people can’t breathe.

And now a member of the U.S. Supreme Court has died with about a month and a half to go until we get to election day.

The shocking death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has stunned the entire country, and I will share my analysis on where things could go from here on The Most Important News later tonight.

In this article, I want to focus on the economic impact that all of this chaos is having.

Since the pandemic first started, more than 60 million Americans have filed new claims for unemployment benefits, and that is a threshold that has never been crossed before in all of our history.

And we have also seen businesses shut down at a pace that is hard to fully grasp.  If you can believe it, more than 160,000 businesses listed on Yelp say “that they have closed”

Yelp on Wednesday released its latest Economic Impact Report, revealing business closures across the U.S. are increasing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic toll.

As of Aug, 31, 163,735 businesses have indicated on Yelp that they have closed. That’s down from the 180,000 that closed at the very beginning of the pandemic. However, it actually shows a 23% increase in the number of closures since mid-July.

I was most alarmed by that last sentence.

Things were supposed to be getting a lot better by now, but instead we have seen “a 23% increase in the number of closures since mid-July”.

That is not good.

And the percentage of businesses on Yelp that are indicating that their closures are “permanent” just keeps rising


Dangerous “forever chemicals” found in at least 500 drinking water wells across California

NaturalNews – Some 500 drinking water wells across California, which serve about nine million residents, are contaminated with toxic substances, dubbed “forever chemicals,” according to a recent report from The Big Wobble.

While that figure might appear small, research shows that contaminants in the water can accumulate inside bodies, interrupting important biological processes and triggering the onset of several chronic diseases.

Residents from Pleasanton, in particular, a suburb just 30 miles north of California’s tech hub, San Jose, were shocked to learn that their town made it to the state’s top 10 list of towns with dangerous drinking water.

Pleasanton has relied on groundwater for tap water but stopped using one of its wells just last fall after state-mandated testing showed that it could contain unsafe levels of chemicals considered harmful to humans.

The chemicals, identified as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are a group of man-made chemicals manufactured to produce things like non-stick pans, grease-resistant paper and water-resistant clothing.

These chemicals are also notorious for their strong resistance to degradation, so much so that scientists estimate it could take millennia for these chemicals to break down, hence the moniker “forever chemicals.”

But although these chemicals cannot – or should not – be found in nature, improper disposal has resulted in the contaminants turning up in soil, seeping into groundwater supplies or being carried through the air.

Exposure to toxic chemicals could lead to a host of health problems

Because PFAS are notorious for accumulating in tissues, it’s possible that their health impacts are great, said Jill Buck, a Pleasanton resident and the chief executive officer of the Go Green Initiative. But more than being possible, extensive studies found that exposure to the said chemicals can have devastating consequences.

Contaminants might contribute to cancer risk

The chemicals are also linked to a heightened risk of certain cancers. In 2019, Linda Birnbaum, a toxicologist and the former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), made headlines when she said that PFAS cause multiple health problems in people, including cancer.

Regulating toxic chemicals – or not

Certain PFAS chemicals are no longer maunfactured in the US following phase-outs and state-mandated testing of water supplies, where the chemicals can often be found. That being said, PFAS are still present in consumer goods imported into the US. (Related: Fast food wrappers loaded with toxic, polluting chemicals.)

Moreover, the chemicals are still not regulated despite state-mandated testing of water supplies and federal health advisories. “It’s not regulated in food packaging, it’s not regulated when it goes up into the air, it’s not regulated when it gets dumped into the wastewater, it’s not regulated as a hazardous waste,” said Kyle.

But even with little federal guidance, states are taking measures to curb possible contamination and protect residents. California, for instance, started state-mandated testing of drinking water wells in 2019. Should the PFAS levels in the water be dangerous for public health, both residents and local governments are alerted.

Local water officials in California are also looking into new filtering technologies to keep dangerous chemicals from contaminating water supplies.

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