Monday 21st of September 2020

at the covids...


'Disaster Capitalism at Its Worst': Report Details Big Oil's Efforts to Cash In on Coronavirus

"Polluters fought hard for kickbacks in the first coronavirus stimulus package and they are undoubtedly up to it again."

by Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Recent lobby filings from major oil and gas paint a picture of "disaster capitalism at its worst."

So declares a report (pdf) released Tuesday by Friends of the Earth (FOE) showing how Big Oil is working to make sure the legislative response to the coronavirus crisis is beneficial to the industry.

"Big Oil is wasting no time exploiting the coronavirus for profit," FOE senior policy analyst Lukas Ross said in a statement.

For the report, the environmental advocacy group analyzed over 100 filings from the first three months of 2020 and found that at least 11 oil and gas companies and industry trade groups reported lobbying on tax issues in the first Covid-19 relief package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Tax cuts were big on the industry's wish list. In addition to efforts by specific oil and gas companies, the report says that major industry associations—The American Petroleum Institute (API), the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), and The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM)—indicated they lobbied "directly around tax issues" in the economic package.

And they were rewarded.

From the report:

At a cost of $13.39 billion to taxpayers, the CARES Act temporarily raises the interest deduction cap for 2019 and 2020 from 30% to 50% of income. Even more expensive, the CARES Act allows net operating losses from 2018, 2019, and 2020 to be deducted against income taxes paid over the last five years—at a cost to taxpayers of $88 billion over the next two years.

Those actions, says the report, "disproportionately benefit companies facing losses and companies with substantial debt burdens—which today describes oil and gas more than any other sector."

Big Oil also lobbied for access to the $454 billion so-called "corporate slush fund" that was included as part of CARES Act. The report notes that fracking trade industry association IPAA specifically lobbied the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) around the CARES Act. A federal agency tasked with regulating banks, the OCC is empowered to waive lending caps for banks.

The industry also lobbied to reduce or suspend the royalty payments fossil fuel companies are required to pay state and federal government for drilling on public lands. One company that engaged in that effort is Murphy Oil. The company "has lobbied directly for offshore royalty relief," says the report.

The oil and gas companies also lobbied for the carbon sequestration tax credit known as 45Q, which has overwhelmingly gone to a small handful of companies. A report released last month following a U.S. Treasury Department Inspector General investigation also found fossil fuel companies improperly claimed nearly $1 billion in the tax credits.

FOE's report shows fossil fuel companies lobbied to keep benefiting from that tax credit. Baker Hughes and Occidental Petroleum lobbied directly for it, while ExxonMobil paid accounting firm Ernest and Young to lobby on its behalf, says the report.

The new publication also outlines steps Congress should take in the next relief bill "to prevent a runaway bailout of the fossil fuel industry," including for lawmakers to repeal the tax breaks Big Oil got in the CARES Act and to let the 45Q tax credit expire.

Congress should also pass new legislation from Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) entitled the Resources for Workforce Investments, not Drilling Act (ReWind Act) to block the fossil fuel industry from taking coronavirus relief funds, adds the report.

"At a time of crisis, we cannot afford to use our public resources to make bad investments in industries that are not only financially risky, but are destroying our planet," Merkley said last week.

FOE's Ross said that the fossil fuel industry can't be allowed to cash in on the Covid-19 crisis.

"Polluters fought hard for kickbacks in the first coronavirus stimulus package and they are undoubtedly up to it again," he said. "As Trump and the GOP continue their crusade to prop up Big Oil, we must stop the fossil fuel industry from snatching more taxpayer money."


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the war on cash...

This is a rush transcript and may contain errors. It will be updated.

Kim Brown: Welcome to The Real News, I’m Kim Brown. Do we have a right to use cash money instead of digital money? This is a question that is being debated in courts around the world. Our guest today is an economist whose appeal made it all the way to the European Supreme Court to determine whether he can pay some of his taxes in cash. Dr. Norbert Haring is studying the formation of the Better Than Cash Alliance to promote the use of digital money, and eventually eliminate cash altogether. It’s an alliance of MasterCard, Visa, Citibank, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And it has already had some success in convincing governments to restrict the use of cash.

And joining us today from Frankfurt, Germany is Dr. Norbert Haring. He’s an economist, also co-founder and co-director of the World Economics Association, the second largest association of economists worldwide. Dr. Haring is a finance journalist, a blogger, and also author of popular books on economics. His latest book translated into English is titled Brave New Money, it was published in 2018. Dr. Haring, thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Norbert Har…: Thank you for having me.

Kim Brown: In your writing, you refer to the biggest success of the Better Than Cash movement, getting Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to abolish large denominations in India in 2016. Can you tell us a bit about that, and what impact did it have on the Indian economy and the inequality within it?

Dr. Norbert Har…: Yeah, I mean, the Better Than Cash Alliance is not really bragging about having done that. In India, they made it seem like it was an idea of the government, but I’ve just found very many clues that there was tight cooperation and Bill Gates, who is a member of the Better Than Cash Alliance with his foundation together with the government, he really talked about having an alliance with the central bank in India, the Reserve Bank of India which is trying to do away with cash. And there’s various personal relationships like the head of the Bill Gates Foundation in India, he used to be at the central bank, and then got that position at the Gates Foundation. The US government, which is also part of the Better Than Cash Alliance has, basically, gotten Modi to become a member of the Better Than Cash Alliance, and there is a whole number of other links to the US, which make it quite clear that that was done together.

And it was quite an assault on the Indian population because Modi just gave them four hours of warning before most of the money would cease to be usable. It was demonetized, they called it. So, you were not allowed to pay with it anymore, all you could do is taking it to the bank. And so, in a country where 90% of all payments are done in cash there was suddenly no cash anymore. And everybody had to line up at the bank for days instead of working, which is a big hardship for people who live from hand to mouth. And, for weeks and even months, it was very hard to sell anything, or to make any money because nobody had cash to pay you, if you were in the informal sector of the economy. So for the informal sector, which is most of the economy in India, it was very bad, and very many people suffered very badly.

Kim Brown: So, doctor, can you talk to us about how the recent coronavirus pandemic is being used to restrict the use of cash? And some argue that, perhaps, we should be going more digital in the age of this pandemic because it will reduce hand-to-hand transmissions of handing over physical currency to a person, but also currency is crawling with germs, and all kinds of things that could possibly get us sick. So, is this not a good idea to transition away from cash at this particular moment?

Dr. Norbert Har…: I have to say that I can understand with some people who have to work out there they feel uneasy about it, but everybody who’s been looking into it is saying, health experts are saying that it’s not really dangerous. And there’s absolutely no indication that this disease is transmitted via cash, but it’s true that the banks and the financial sector, in general, are really using that argument, and they’re putting it on their web pages, they send out mailings where they suggest that cash is dirty, and that you should go digital. But there’s really no basis for that claim. It’s just something they wanted all along. We’re basically part of that drive to get rid of cash because they don’t like cash, it’s a competitor and it costs them money. They don’t make any money if you pay cash. And so, they don’t like it, so they just use that.

Kim Brown: So, one of the main arguments against abolition of cash is that the digital transactions would leave a trail, a digital trail, an electronic trail, and allow governments and other organizations to surveil us, to keep track on our every movement and every purchase. Now, some people might say that, “I don’t have to hide. Or the government may not find me that interesting, so perhaps they won’t be tracking all of my purchases and all my financial transactions.” What is your response to people who say, or who make those arguments?

Dr. Norbert Har…: There’s two things that need to be said. I mean, first of all, they’re right. Most people are not interesting enough for anybody in power to just look into them, they’ll just tailor their advertisements to them. And that’s not really hurting you, but people don’t understand, generally, is how extensive that tracking is. That everything that you do, everything involves little payments, it involves where you are, often with whom you are, what you’re doing, and that’s hour by hour, day by day. And all of that information goes into your bank account, and is storage there for decades the banks have to store it for a very long time. So, basically, your bank account becomes a [inaudible 00:07:01] of your whole life.

And anytime somebody becomes interested in you, that can be 10 years from now, they can look in and see what you did on any day at any hour that they want to know about, or they have a complete profile. And they might not do that for me, but if I’m one of these people who say, “I don’t care,” I have to be aware that if that happens I’m living in a society where everybody have any power, or any significance is, basically, totally transparent and can be blackmailed by anybody who has the power to look into that. And that’s a lot of people, so everybody can be destroyed, or blackmailed with all that data that’s out there. And that’s just not compatible with democracy and free society.

Kim Brown: And lastly, Dr. Haring, I know that you are involved in a case right now, currently, where you wanted to pay your taxes in cash and, apparently, have been denied from doing so. I understand that the case is ongoing and you’re expecting a hearing in the coming weeks, but could you just summarize why you decided to [inaudible 00:08:18], and why this issue is so important to you?

Dr. Norbert Har…: Well, I care about cash for the reasons that I mentioned, because it’s a guarantor of freedom, and actually it’s in the law. Cash is the legal means of payment, and that means that, especially, the government has to accept it. It’s the government’s money, the bank notes and coins, and they can’t refuse to accept their own money. And that’s in the European Treaty, basically. And in the German laws also. And I just want to draw attention to that, that it’s happening. And I also want to use the fact that it’s in the law to defend my right to use it. And the highest German administrative court, basically, agreed with our line, is that we are right, and it just referred it to the European highest court in order to find out how the German law relates to the European law, and whether anything might change there on the European side. But the ruling in Germany was very favorable.

Kim Brown: All right, well, please keep us updated on the status of your case as, hopefully, you will be victorious in the coming weeks. We’ve been speaking with Dr. Norbert Haring. He’s an economist, a co-founder and co-director of the World Economics Association. He’s also a financial journalist, blogger, and author of popular books. His latest book titled Brave New Money, published 2018, go check it out.

Dr. Haring, thank you so much for joining us. And, again, we hope to hear from you again soon to get updated on what’s going on with your cases. I think this is a very important issue.

Dr. Norbert Har…: Thank you.

Kim Brown: And thank you for watching The Real News network.



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With cash, there is little chance of someone siphoning a percentage... While with cards, shops and customers can be easily gouged by the card suppliers — or scammed... I admit I use cards more often, as the "convenience" is easy, while I make sure I pay the cards IN FULL monthly, leaving no room to be "credit charged"... Yet the cards can carry issuing costs depending on the type of cards...  On one I pay $30 a year on the other $150, but on this one "the points" earned offset this cost three times over... The shopkeepers are the one bearing the brunt, but the cost of credit will be included in the goods purchased anyway. Some tradespeople and some stores will give a discount for cash. They're not cheating the tax department but avoiding paying extra fees to the banks issuing he cards...




See also:

the catholicus' fight against the other coronus...


In this time of great crisis, we Pastors of the Catholic Church, by virtue of our mandate, consider it our sacred duty to make an Appeal to our Brothers in the Episcopate, to the Clergy, to Religious, to the holy People of God and to all men and women of good will. This Appeal has also been undersigned by intellectuals, doctors, lawyers, journalists and professionals who agree with its content, and may be undersigned by those who wish to make it their own.

The facts have shown that, under the pretext of the Covid-19 epidemic, the inalienable rights of citizens have in many cases been violated and their fundamental freedoms, including the exercise of freedom of worship, expression and movement, have been disproportionately and unjustifiably restricted. Public health must not, and cannot, become an alibi for infringing on the rights of millions of people around the world, let alone for depriving the civil authority of its duty to act wisely for the common good. This is particularly true as growing doubts emerge from several quarters about the actual contagiousness, danger and resistance of the virus. Many authoritative voices in the world of science and medicine confirm that the media’s alarmism about Covid-19 appears to be absolutely unjustified.

We have reason to believe, on the basis of official data on the incidence of the epidemic as related to the number of deaths, that there are powers interested in creating panic among the world’s population with the sole aim of permanently imposing unacceptable forms of restriction on freedoms, of controlling people and of tracking their movements. The imposition of these illiberal measures is a disturbing prelude to the realization of a world government beyond all control.

We also believe that in some situations the containment measures that were adopted, including the closure of shops and businesses, have precipitated a crisis that has brought down entire sectors of the economy. This encourages interference by foreign powers and has serious social and political repercussions. Those with governmental responsibility must stop these forms of social engineering, by taking measures to protect their citizens whom they represent, and in whose interests they have a serious obligation to act. Likewise, let them help the family, the cell of society, by not unreasonably penalizing the weak and elderly, forcing them into a painful separation from their loved ones. The criminalization of personal and social relationships must likewise be judged as an unacceptable part of the plan of those who advocate isolating individuals in order to better manipulate and control them.

We ask the scientific community to be vigilant, so that cures for Covid-19 are offered in honesty for the common good. Every effort must be made to ensure that shady business interests do not influence the choices made by government leaders and international bodies. It is unreasonable to penalize those remedies that have proved to be effective, and are often inexpensive, just because one wishes to give priority to treatments or vaccines that are not as good, but which guarantee pharmaceutical companies far greater profits, and exacerbate public health expenditures. Let us also remember, as Pastors, that for Catholics it is morally unacceptable to develop or use vaccines derived from material from aborted fetuses.

We also ask government leaders to ensure that forms of control over people, whether through tracking systems or any other form of location-finding, are rigorously avoided. The fight against Covid-19, however serious, must not be the pretext for supporting the hidden intentions of supranational bodies that have very strong commercial and political interests in this plan. In particular, citizens must be given the opportunity to refuse these restrictions on personal freedom, without any penalty whatsoever being imposed on those who do not wish to use vaccines, contact tracking or any other similar tool. Let us also consider the blatant contradiction of those who pursue policies of drastic population control and at the same time present themselves as the savior of humanity, without any political or social legitimacy. Finally, the political responsibility of those who represent the people can in no way be left to “experts” who can indeed claim a kind of immunity from prosecution, which is disturbing to say the least.

We strongly urge those in the media to commit themselves to providing accurate information and not penalizing dissent by resorting to forms of censorship, as is happening widely on social media, in the press and on television. Providing accurate information requires that room be given to voices that are not aligned with a single way of thinking. This allows citizens to consciously assess the facts, without being heavily influenced by partisan interventions. A democratic and honest debate is the best antidote to the risk of imposing subtle forms of dictatorship, presumably worse than those our society has seen rise and fall in the recent past.

Finally, as Pastors responsible for the flock of Christ, let us remember that the Church firmly asserts her autonomy to govern, worship, and teach. This autonomy and freedom are an innate right that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given her for the pursuit of her proper ends. For this reason, as Pastors we firmly assert the right to decide autonomously on the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, just as we claim absolute autonomy in matters falling within our immediate jurisdiction, such as liturgical norms and ways of administering Communion and the Sacraments. The State has no right to interfere, for any reason whatsoever, in the sovereignty of the Church. Ecclesiastical authorities have never refused to collaborate with the State, but such collaboration does not authorize civil authorities to impose any sort of ban or restriction on public worship or the exercise of priestly ministry. The rights of God and of the faithful are the supreme law of the Church, which she neither intends to, nor can, abdicate. We ask that restrictions on the celebration of public ceremonies be removed.

We should like to invite all people of good will not to shirk their duty to cooperate for the common good, each according to his or her own state and possibilities and in a spirit of fraternal charity. The Church desires such cooperation, but this cannot disregard either a respect for natural law or a guarantee of individual freedoms. The civil duties to which citizens are bound imply the State’s recognition of their rights.

We are all called to assess the current situation in a way consistent with the teaching of the Gospel. This means taking a stand: either with Christ or against Christ. Let us not be intimidated or frightened by those who would have us believe that we are a minority: Good is much more widespread and powerful than the world would have us believe. We are fighting against an invisible enemy that seeks to divide citizens, to separate children from their parents, grandchildren from their grandparents, the faithful from their pastors, students from teachers, and customers from vendors. Let us not allow centuries of Christian civilization to be erased under the pretext of a virus, and an odious technological tyranny to be established, in which nameless and faceless people can decide the fate of the world by confining us to a virtual reality. If this is the plan to which the powers of this earth intend to make us yield, know that Jesus Christ, King and Lord of History, has promised that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail” (Mt 16:18).

Let us entrust government leaders and all those who rule over the fate of nations to Almighty God, that He may enlighten and guide them in this time of great crisis. May they remember that, just as the Lord will judge us Pastors for the flock which he has entrusted to us, so will He also judge government leaders for the peoples whom they have the duty to defend and govern.

With faith, let us beseech the Lord to protect the Church and the world. May the Blessed Virgin, Help of Christians, crush the head of the ancient Serpent and defeat the plans of the children of darkness.

8 May 2020

Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii



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Gus is a rabid atheist: Religion ISN'T the truth...


your mental status...

The national cabinet will consider a new mental health pandemic plan at its meeting on Friday morning, as concern grows about the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The greatest focus will fall on people who are struggling with the mental pressure of the coronavirus, and a boost of support services.

Leaders will also receive an economic update from the heads of Treasury, the Reserve Bank and the superannuation sector watchdog.

Almost 600,000 Australians lost their jobs between March and April.

The jobless rate rose to 6.2 per cent and was accompanied by a record fall in the number of people who either have work or are looking for it.

Another six million workers are now covered by the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme, including many who have been stood down but aren’t officially counted as unemployed.

The meeting comes as the Victorian government is set to publish modelling on Friday that warns that, without decisive action, an extra 370,000 people in the state will seek treatment or be hospitalised in the next three years as a result of mental health problems related to the coronavirus emergency.

It is also feared there will be hundreds more deaths to suicide each year.

Around the country, most states have made the first steps into a three-stage easing of coronavirus restrictions.

NSW has recorded eight new cases of the virus on Friday as pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants open their doors to 10 patrons at a time.

Ten guests are now allowed at weddings in the state, 20 at indoor funerals and up to 30 at outdoor services.

The number of cases in Australia is nearing 7000 with about 6300 of those recovered, while the death toll is 98.

Health experts have offered advice to leaders about how people can safely use public transport and return to workplaces


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Ways to look after your mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic 

This article  is adapted from a piece previously published on Beyond Blue’s website. 

There are a number of different ways that people can manage their wellbeing. 

The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on all facets of society. It’s crucial that people take a practical approach to dealing with COVID-19. 

Try to maintain perspective 

While it is reasonable for people to be concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus, try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts around the world are working hard to contain the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible. 

Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage 

Being exposed to large volumes of negative information can heighten feelings of anxiety. While it’s important to stay informed, you may find it useful to limit your media intake if it is upsetting you or your family. 

Try to maintain a practical and calm approach 

Widespread panic can complicate efforts to manage the outbreak effectively. Do your best to stay calm and follow official advice, particularly around observing good hygiene habits. The Australian Psychological Society has  advice about maintaining positive mental health during the outbreak. 

Try not to make assumptions 

To contribute to a sense of community wellbeing, try to remember that the coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of their nationality or ethnicity and remember that those with the disease have not done anything wrong.


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See also:

covert19... <R> is a fictitious number... in the plots against democracy...


the war on the oldies...

The elderly have already been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, but one Oxford economist thinks that they should shell out to ease the economic burden on the young. He’s since been accused of “scapegoating” the vulnerable.

“Young people benefit the least from the lockdown measures, because they are less susceptible to the virus,”economist and professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve told Belgian news channel VRT on Thursday. “The older generation should realize that young people are sacrificing themselves, both economically and in terms of mental health.”

To even the score, the 41-year-old Oxford professor – who heads the prestigious university’s ‘Wellbeing Research Center’ – proposed a tax on the elderly, possibly a once-off payment. However, he did not mention the age from which his tax would kick in, or what would be done in the case of elderly people who couldn’t afford such a levy.

The economic and mental health problems highlighted by De Neve are real. As governments the world over scramble to bail out their floundering economies, Belgium’s debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to cross 100 percent this year, along with Cyprus, France, Portugal, and Spain. European unemployment is projected to double in the coming months, according to one estimate, while the World Health Organization’s mental health department warned on Wednesday of an upsurge in mental illnesses as a result of the pandemic and lockdown measures.

However, from a health standpoint, the elderly have disproportionately borne the brunt of the deadly illness. As of last month, nursing homes accounted for nearly half of all coronavirus-related deaths in Belgium. Similar figures have been reported in Italy, Spain, France and Ireland. 



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Most of the oldies had spent their last savings on cruises where they went to die... The others hid their loot in places that could never be found... They would not reveal the place, even under torture or the inquisition, as they can't remember... That is the privilege of dementia...

the old coronavirus from russia...

Open eyes, hollow cheeks, a face torn by dread - Edvard Munch’s painting, "The Scream,” is an icon of horror.

Some experts believe its central figure is meant to be in the grips of an illness. The first version of the painting dates back to 1893, when the Russian flu had just spread around the world. The pandemic began in Central Asia in May of 1889. It spread to China, Russia and Europe via trade routes. The epidemic reached New York in December, arrived in Montreal in January of 1890, then made its way to South America, Australia, Borneo. Its symptoms included severe fever, headache, aching limbs and fatigue. An estimated 1 million people died worldwide.

The epidemic is widely believed to have been caused by a flu virus, but researchers working with Marc Van Ranst of the University of Leuven in Belgium have a different theory. They believe the pandemic was caused by a pathogen with the abbreviated name of HCoV-OC43. HCoV-OC43 is a coronavirus.

Genetic studies suggest that the pathogen jumped from cattle to people before – much like today’s SARS-CoV-2 – setting off a health crisis. Interestingly, HCoV-OC43 is still around today, as one of seven coronaviruses that can infect humans. But the killer has been tamed: These days, the virus causes only a mild cold.


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protection for labs...


By Peter Andrews, Irish science journalist and writer based in London. He has a background in the life sciences, and graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in genetics.

A senior executive for pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has confirmed that his company cannot face legal action for any potential side effects caused by its Covid vaccine. Those affected will have no legal recourse.

AstraZeneca is one of 25 pharmaceutical companies worldwide already testing their Covid vaccines on humans, in preparation for injecting hundreds of millions of people. These are flush times for Britain’s largest pharmaceutical company, worth something in the order of £70 million [sic —billions?]. They have just reported bumper profits of $12.6 billion in the last six months alone.

But despite its healthy balance sheet, AstraZeneca is unwilling to be held responsible for any potential side effects of its ‘hopeful’ vaccine candidate. In other words, the company is completely protected, or indemnified, against lawsuits from people who are injected with their vaccine and experience negative effects, regardless of how severe or long-lasting they are.

The firm’s lawyers have demanded that clauses to that effect be put in their contracts with the countries AstraZeneca has agreed to supply with its Covid vaccine. The company says that, without such guarantees of indemnity, they would not be incentivised to produce the drug. And it seems most of the countries have ceded to this demand.

Done in the national interest?

Ruud Dobber, a senior AstraZeneca executive, told Reuters “In the contracts we have in place, we are asking for indemnification. For most countries it is acceptable to take that risk on their shoulders because it is in their national interest’’. For “national interest,” read “government interest.” Whether what is happening is good for the actual people of vaccinated countries is, to put it very mildly, an open question.



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