Jul 142021
 
 July 14, 2021  Posted by at 9:01 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , ,  93 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Courtesan (after Eisen) 1887

 

Natural Infection vs Vaccination: Which Gives More Protection? (INN)
“It Needs To Be Hard For People To Remain Unvaccinated” (Turley)
I Told You It Would Fly Apart. It Is. (Denninger)
Third of England Still Without Any Covid Immunity, Scientist Warns (G.)
UK’s Return To ‘Freedom’ : Masks, Tracking And Vaccine Passports (SN)
UK’s ‘Awful Experiment’ Will Threaten NZ (NR.nz)
UK Covid Vaccines Deaths In 6 Months 4x Higher Than All Others In 11 Years (DE)
Holy Synod Of The Greek Church Recommends “Free Choice” For Vaccinations (KTG)
New York Takes Conservative Approach Counting Virus Deaths (AP)
New ‘Great Game’ Gets Back To Basics (Escobar)

 

 

We have a lot of concerns, and rightly so, about doctors and others who get banned and deleted on (social) media for saying things about Covid, vaccines and more that don’t fit the Trusted News Initiative’s stated goals. But that same treatement of reality also means that everyday people have no idea what is going on in their world. For instance, they have no clue that most people have immune systems that will fight off Covid with ease.

They have been told there are 2 kinds of immunity: from infection or from vaccination. And they believe what they’re told. Natural born immunity is anathema to control. If people know they are not under threat, how do you control them? You have to dumb them down. And then set them against others who have other ideas.

 

 

 

 

Children and Covid
https://twitter.com/i/status/1414252048716124160

 

 

 

 

Who dumbed these people down?

Natural Infection vs Vaccination: Which Gives More Protection? (INN)

Coronavirus patients who recovered from the virus were far less likely to become infected during the latest wave of the pandemic than people who were vaccinated against COVID, according to numbers presented to the Israeli Health Ministry. Health Ministry data on the wave of COVID outbreaks which began this May show that Israelis with immunity from natural infection were far less likely to become infected again in comparison to Israelis who only had immunity via vaccination. More than 7,700 new cases of the virus have been detected during the most recent wave starting in May, but just 72 of the confirmed cases were reported in people who were known to have been infected previously – that is, less than 1% of the new cases.


Roughly 40% of new cases – or more than 3,000 patients – involved people who had been infected despite being vaccinated. With a total of 835,792 Israelis known to have recovered from the virus, the 72 instances of reinfection amount to 0.0086% of people who were already infected with COVID. By contrast, Israelis who were vaccinated were 6.72 times more likely to get infected after the shot than after natural infection, with over 3,000 of the 5,193,499, or 0.0578%, of Israelis who were vaccinated getting infected in the latest wave. According to a report by Channel 13, the disparity has confounded – and divided – Health Ministry experts, with some saying the data proves the higher level of immunity provided by natural infection versus vaccination, while others remained unconvinced.

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This is exactly why there is the Nuremberg code. Exactly.

“It Needs To Be Hard For People To Remain Unvaccinated” (Turley)

Dr. Leana Wen, CNN analyst and Distinguished Fellow at the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute of Health Workforce Equity at George Washington University, has caused a stir due to her recent declaration on CNN that “it needs to be hard for people to remain unvaccinated.” With France implementing a mandatory “health pass” and private companies like Morgan Stanley requiring vaccinations for employees to return to work, we can expect more protests and challenges around the world. Those cases are likely to focus on whether mandatory requirements are based on medical or political imperatives. Wen’s comment is likely to be repeated in many filings as another case of “saying the quiet part out loud.” She appears to advocate measures defined to coerce people to take vaccinations due to the continuing refusal of a sizable number of people.

Wen is a well-known medical analyst and the former head of Planned Parenthood. She is a visiting professor at George Washington University. Wen made clear that health measures should be used to make life hard for people who refuse the vaccine so that they yield to public demands: “[b]asically, we need to make getting vaccinated the easy choice.” In the Washington Post, Wen also called for “Biden to make the case for vaccine requirements.” There is already open pressure from the White House on private companies to require vaccinations. Morgan Stanley responded by doing just that this week. They can likely do so. The most serious challenges could come from those with religious objections. However, even if they are allowed to work remotely, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman stated in July that “If you want to get paid New York rates, you work in New York. None of this, ‘I’m in Colorado…and getting paid like I’m sitting in New York City. Sorry, that doesn’t work.” The message could not be clearer that working remotely will come at a penalty.

The Biden White House is clearly concerned that making vaccines mandatory will cause not just court challenges but a public backlash. However, such mandatory programs have been upheld. As I discussed in a column last year, there is a 1905 case where the Supreme Court upheld a state mandatory vaccination program of school children for small pox in Massachusetts. In Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905), the Court found that such programs are the quintessential state power rather than a federal power. It also held that “every well-ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand.” States are allowed to subject citizens to restraints to protect “general comfort, health, and prosperity of the State.”

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“They really have gone all the way to clown world in DC folks.”

I Told You It Would Fly Apart. It Is. (Denninger)

Now Biden administration officials are telling people that “vaccine hesitancy” is about bringing the Biden Administration down. “It’s being coordinated by people who have platforms and have an interest in bringing down the current administration.” Oh please. You really expect anyone to believe that Trump supporters are going to willingly die to destroy Joe Biden’s administration? If they were really willing to die to ruin Biden’s administration some tiny percentage could simply decide he’s leaving office now. Given that we’re talking about 60 million people who voted for Trump it must be assumed that if even a tiny percentage decided that bitching wasn’t enough one or more would succeed and, of course, likely die. But deliberately contract a deadly virus and choke on your own spit to ruin a sitting President’s administration?

You’re joking, right? They really have gone all the way to clown world in DC folks. The press secretary also pointed out that the administration has, for months, engaged with local community groups and pastors to handle the “door-to-door” sharing of information with neighbors about the vaccine. Conveniently omitting, I’m sure that there are 9,000 death reports in VAERS associated with these shots. Contrast that against the flu shot, which also is given to about 170 million Americans a year — last year’s campaign of 170 million stabs, more or less, was associated with 26 deaths. If these shots are so safe why are 400 times as many people on a per-shot basis dying in close association with taking them?

Why did the FDA just issue a warning about GBS with the J&J vaccine over an associated rate of about 1 in 125,000 shots where the death rate for the shots (associated, again, not proved) of about 1 in 16,000? Last time I checked death is not treatable — GBS is, although sometimes the damage is both life-altering and permanent. Oh, and look at this lie from Politico: “The big misinterpretation that Fox News or whomever else is saying is that they are essentially envisioning a bunch of federal workers knocking on your door, telling you you’ve got to do something that you don’t want to do,” Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said in an interview on Sunday. “That’s absolutely not the case, it’s trusted messengers who are part of the community doing that — not government officials. So that’s where I think the disconnect is.” Oh really?

Well Politico, how long did it take for Fauci to get caught lying about there being no plans to mandate anything that someone doesn’t want to do? “Fauci says vaccines should be mandated at the local level but the federal government will not mandate them.” Oh, so he’ll just try to get others to mandate them but he won’t because HE CAN’T AND HE KNOWS IT. Why would I believe these shots work when the chief advocate got caught lying about his desires and intentions by explicitly advocating for forced shots while at the same time saying that was not the intent? In other news South Carolina’s AG recently sent one of their colleges a rather strict warning: Their plan to treat non-vaccinated students in a punitive way, including masks and weekly testing, is illegal. They backed down.

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That is mathematically impossible.

Third of England Still Without Any Covid Immunity, Scientist Warns (G.)

As ministers proceed with lifting most of England’s restrictions next week, a third of the population is still unprotected from getting infected with Covid, scientists have estimated. There have been about 15 million infections so far (roughly 27% of England’s population), and once partial and full vaccinations are accounted for that leaves approximately 33% of the population still susceptible to being infected with the Delta variant that is now dominant, said Matt Keeling, a professor of populations and disease at the University of Warwick and a member of a Sage subcommittee focused on infectious disease modelling and epidemiology (Spi-M). Roughly half the UK is now fully vaccinated but Covid infections are surging again and hospitalisations are on the rise, driven by the spread of Delta and the lifting of some restrictions.

On Tuesday the UK reported 50 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test, the worst daily toll since early April, and 36,660 new Covid cases. Boris Johnson has confirmed plans to discard almost all restrictions in England next week, including mask-wearing and social distancing mandates, but has urged caution. Whether this unlocking is permanent or temporary will depend on precautions taken by the public and vaccination rates, Sage scientists have said. Suggesting that there would be a jump in cases whenever restrictions were lifted, Johnson on Monday said it would be better to unlock now, with the “natural firebreak” of the school summer holidays, than in the autumn or winter when the NHS will be under greater pressure.

Dr Marc Baguelin, of Imperial College London and a member of Spi-M, said on Tuesday that the modelling indicated there was limited benefit to delaying the reopening. “All that’s going to do is just push things down the line – we would get slightly more vaccination, but it wouldn’t make a huge difference,” he said. But he added: “If we are opening up now, which has been the decision, then it needs to be done gradually and with care.” Other scientists have vehemently opposed the unlocking next week, suggesting the government has decided to achieve herd immunity by in effect letting the virus run wild in young people, which they say will lead to disruptions in NHS care, education and more people getting long Covid.

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The land of fear.

UK’s Return To ‘Freedom’ : Masks, Tracking And Vaccine Passports (SN)

After weeks of denying that vaccine passports would be introduced into everyday domestic life in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday that the government will ask nightclubs, pubs, and anywhere where people gather to adopt the measure ‘as a matter of social responsibility’. The announcement was again completely vague, with little details on exactly what venues will be made to use the NHS COVID app system as “a means of entry,” or how it will be managed and enforced. The only details that were given by ministers are that it will be ‘encouraged’ anywhere where people are “likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household.” So everywhere then.

Government guidelines, published Monday also state that if sufficient measures are not taken to limit infection, the Government will “consider mandating certification in certain venues at a later date.” The announcement also comes on the heels of the government suggesting that while face masks and distancing measures will become optional, businesses and transport companies will be encouraged to make their own policies. In addition, the NHS ‘Test, Trace & Isolate’ system will also remain in place, meaning that people will still be subject to spontaneous house arrest orders. The government documents state that “Test, Trace and Isolate has an important ongoing role in managing the virus and reduces the risk of potentially dangerous variants spreading.”

“The Government expects the Test, Trace and Isolate system will remain necessary through the autumn and winter,” it adds. The guidance also states that “Anyone who tests positive will still need to self-isolate regardless of their vaccination status. Further details will be published in due course and the changes are likely to come into effect later in the summer.” The Prime Minster also stated Monday that the Government will keep Covid data under review “probably, I’m afraid, into next year” adding that he “will not hesitate” to re-impose restrictions if needed. The series of ‘freedom’ announcements has left journalists, business owners, MPs, and the general population asking what exactly they are being freed from.

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New Zealand needs oxygen. Too much nonsense to address.

UK’s ‘Awful Experiment’ Will Threaten NZ (NR.nz)

Recent months have seen a surge of support in the scientific community for the theory that the coronavirus pandemic is a result of gain-of-function experiments in a Wuhan virus lab, although the issue is still hotly contested and far from settled. What most experts can agree on is that the United Kingdom is about to embark on a country-wide experiment in gain-of-function research. By abolishing all public health restrictions with just half of the population fully vaccinated, the UK could produce new variants that evade vaccine-induced immunity. “If you are going to train a virus to escape vaccine-induced immunity, you would do exactly what they’re doing,” Jemma Geoghegan, an evolutionary virologist at the University of Otago, told Newsroom.

“You’re basically providing a training ground for the virus to overcome those selection pressures. You’re allowing the virus to continue to spread. With this moderately immune population and with the Delta variant that has an R0 that’s estimated to be probably five or six, you need a threshold to be much, much, much higher than they currently have.” If the United Kingdom had reached that threshold, then removing restrictions wouldn’t pose an issue because the virus would struggle to spread through a heavily vaccinated population. Now, however, it will be able to spread rapidly through the unvaccinated population and then infect many vaccinated people as well. And the more the virus spreads and reproduces, the more it mutates.

In particular, when it infects vaccinated people, the random mutations which enable it to pierce that vaccine-induced immunity are more likely to stick. It’s simply survival of the fittest. “Delta is not going to be the last variant. The semi-weak selection pressure for a virus, in this big population, it’s not good for the future of the vaccine. I’m sure that there is going to be some evolution of some sort of resistance,” Geoghegan said. That is, while vaccines remain highly effective at reducing severe disease, hospitalisations and deaths from existing variants of the virus, new variants could threaten that. And the United Kingdom’s opening up is more likely to produce those types of variants.

University of Auckland microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles said: “The question is, how much worse is Delta going to get? “They are running a really quite awful experiment.” This doesn’t just endanger New Zealand over the next few months, but in fact threatens to unroll the progress of the vaccine rollout in every country. If new variants reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, that extends the needed threshold for population immunity. And recent modelling from Te Pknaha Matatini found that, for New Zealand at least, a full 97 percent of the population would need to be vaccinated if vaccine efficacy fell to 70 percent and the dominant global variant was highly transmissible. That would make reaching immunity through vaccination alone effectively impossible. It would necessitate ongoing, low-level public health restrictions for an extended period of time, if not indefinitely.

For those countries which are not able to maintain those measures or which have failed to exclude Covid-19 to date, the picture would be even more grim. As British commentator Umair Haque wrote about the UK’s own fate: “A tiny portrait of the future of Britain’s public health goes like this. Restrictions lifted, just as a new wave surges exponentially. Bang — the Delta wave explodes. New variants breed like wildfire. Waves of new variants surge in a Pandemic Storm, if you like — Delta, Lambda, whatever’s next — and recombine into even deadlier ones. “The world shuts its doors. Covid does become a new flu in Britain, an endemic, seasonal illness, only with hundreds of times the mortality and hospitalisation rates of the flu, bringing society to its knees, over and over again. Every winter is a deadly one. Every summer is only the eye of a widening gyre.”

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They’re perfectly safe.

UK Covid Vaccines Deaths In 6 Months 4x Higher Than All Others In 11 Years (DE)

A freedom of information request made to the MHRA has revealed just how deadly the Covid-19 vaccines really are. The request made by Duncan Husband on the 29th May 2021 asked the MHRA to provide a list of all new vaccines in the UK between 2010 and 2020 and to also provide the number of deaths, per vaccine, per month for the same time frame. The MHRA fulfilled the FOI request on the 29th June 2021 and provided a full list of all approved vaccines and a vaccine analysis print for each type of vaccine excluding the Adacel jab which the MHRA claim they do not have any reports on. Unfortunately the provided data does not breakdown into each month as Duncan Husband requested but does provide an overall review over the past decade of the total number of adverse reactions and deaths which are as follows –

The Pediacel vaccine to tackle diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis was granted authorisation by the MHRA on the 3rd December 2010. As of the 8th April 2021 there have been 3013 adverse reactions and 15 deaths reported to the MHRA. The pneumococcal vaccine to tackle pneumonia was granted authorisation by the MHRA on the 20th May 2015. As of the 8th April 2021 there have been 8.238 adverse reactions and 38 deaths reported to the MHRA. The rabies vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline; in which Patrick Vallance has shares, was granted authorisation by the MHRA on the 6th April 2017. As of the 8th April 2021 there have been 2,387 adverse reactions and 1 death reported to the MHRA.

The VIVOTIF vaccine to tackle typhoid fever was granted authorisation by the MHRA on the 25th July 2018 As of the 8th April 2021 there have been 309 adverse reactions and 0 deaths reported to the MHRA. The mejugate vaccines to tackle meningitis were granted authorisation by the MHRA on the 31st March 2015. As of the 8th April 2021 there have been 9,980 adverse reactions and 2 deaths reported to the MHRA. The anthrax vaccine was granted authorisation by the MHRA on the 3rd May 2018. As of the 8th April 2021 there have been 294 adverse reactions and 0 deaths reported to the MHRA. The Hepatitis A vaccine was granted authorisation by the MHRA on the 24th December 2020. As of the 8th April 2021 there have been 848 adverse reactions and 1 death reported to the MHRA. The influenza vaccines, the earliest of which was granted authorisation in 2013, have had 23,068 adverse reactions and 227 deaths reported to the MHRA.

In all there have been 450 deaths among the 236,55 adverse reactions to the Pfizer mRNA vaccine reported to the MHRA Yellow Card scheme as of the 30th June 2021. The AstraZeneca jab has had 960 deaths among 775,940 adverse reactions reported to the MHRA Yellow Card scheme as of the 30th June 2021. There have also been 6 deaths among the 22,191 adverse reactions to the Moderna jab, and 24 deaths among the 2,690 adverse reactions reported where the brand of vaccine was not specified. This means that as of 30th June 2021 the Covid-19 vaccines have caused 1,037,376 adverse reactions and 1,440 deaths, and now they’re coming for your children and want to give booster jabs to the elderly and vulnerable in Autumn.

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The Church as the sole remaining voice of reason. Or are they afraid of the new Covid religion?

Holy Synod Of The Greek Church Recommends “Free Choice” For Vaccinations (KTG)

The Holy Synod of the Greek Church recommended on Tuesday the “free choice” for vaccination against Covid-19, vigilance in prayers” and “frequent participation in worshiping life.” Furthermore, the Holy Synod urged its members to “inform the faithful about the spiritual and regular teaching of the Church in matters of the pandemics.” This was stated in a press release issued after a meeting with the Health Minister and the country’s top epidemiologists Sotiris Tsiodras who asked the high-ranking clergymen to support and strengthen vaccinations in the country.


Neither the conservative minister nor the epidemiologist who also chants during religious services not even the Prime Minister last week could apparently convince the holy fathers to issue a circular urging priests and the faithful to wholehearted support the government’s vaccination program as infections spike. Apparently Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was convinced about the full support of the Greek Church as he urged citizens to “listen to the Church” during his address to the nation on Monday.

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Everyone counts the way that appears most useful to their political ends.

New York Takes Conservative Approach Counting Virus Deaths (AP)

The federal government’s count of the COVID-19 death toll in New York has 11,000 more victims than the tally publicized by the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which has stuck with a far more conservative approach to counting virus deaths. The discrepancy in death counts continued to widen this year, according to an Associated Press review, even as the Democrat has come under fire over allegations that his office purposely obscured the number of deaths of nursing home residents to protect his reputation. New York state’s official death count, presented daily to the public and on the state’s Department of Health website, stood at around 43,000 this week. But the state has provided the federal government with data that shows roughly 54,000 people have died with COVID-19 as a cause or contributing factor listed on their death certificate.

“It’s a little strange,” said Bob Anderson, chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. “They’re providing us with the death certificate information so they have it. I don’t know why they wouldn’t use those numbers.” Such a discrepancy can fuel distrust in government tallies of COVID-19 deaths, while making it harder for individuals to know why others in their community died in the pandemic, experts say. “We need to make sure we get it right, and people understand what the numbers are. And how we’re using them so they can’t be misused by people who have a motive to misuse them,” said Georges Benjamin, a physician and executive director at the American Public Health Association.

The Cuomo administration’s count includes only laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths at hospitals, nursing homes and adult-care facilities. That means its tally excludes people who died at home, hospice, in state prisons or at state-run homes for people living with disabilities. It also excludes people who likely died of COVID-19 but never got a positive test to confirm the diagnosis. Tests were scarce in the early stages of New York’s outbreak. At least 5,000 New York City residents likely died of COVID-19 without a positive test, according to city statistics.

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Don’t be surprised if the US want back into Afghanistan shortly, claiming Taliban threat. Also, don’t be surprised if there’s no way back in.

New ‘Great Game’ Gets Back To Basics (Escobar)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a Central Asian loop all through the week. He’s visiting Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The last two are full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, founded 20 years ago. The SCO heavyweights are of course China and Russia. They are joined by four Central Asian “stans” (all but Turkmenistan), India and Pakistan. Crucially, Afghanistan and Iran are observers, alongside Belarus and Mongolia. And that leads us to what’s happening this Wednesday in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital. The SCO will hold a 3 in 1: meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, and a conference titled “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities.”

At the same table, then, we will have Wang Yi, his very close strategic partner Sergey Lavrov and, most importantly, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar. They’ll be debating trials and tribulations after the hegemon’s withdrawal and the miserable collapse of the myth of NATO “stabilizing” Afghanistan. Let’s game a possible scenario: Wang Yi and Lavrov tell Atmar, in no uncertain terms, that there’s got to be a national reconciliation deal with the Taliban, brokered by Russia-China, with no American interference, including the end of the opium-heroin ratline. Russia-China extract from the Taliban a firm promise that jihadism won’t be allowed to fester. The endgame: loads of productive investment, Afghanistan is incorporated to Belt and Road and – later on – to the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

The SCO’s joint statement on Wednesday will be particularly enlightening, perhaps detailing how the organization plans to coordinate a de facto Afghan peace process farther down the road. In this scenario, the SCO now has the chance to implement what it has been actively discussing for years: that only an Asian solution to the Afghan drama applies. Sun Zhuangzhi, executive director of the Chinese Research Center of the SCO, sums it all up: the organization is capable of coming up with a plan mixing political stability, economic and security development and a road map for infrastructure development projects. The Taliban agree. Spokesman Suhail Shaheen has stressed, “China is a friendly country that we welcome for reconstruction and developing Afghanistan.”

Read more …

 

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Malone Moderna

 

 

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Apr 302021
 


James McNeill Whistler Morning Glories 1869

 

Mental Health Experts Ask Media Not To Create Panic Around Covid-19 (OpIndia)
Stanford Prof: CDC Paved Way For ‘Institutionalization of Hypochondria’ (JTN)
One In Seven Shops Lie Empty After Lockdown (BBC)
EU Disunity Over Vaccine Certificate (K.)
Two Greek Hospitals To Host Clinical Trials Of Israeli Covid-19 Treatment (K.)
Associations Between Body-Mass Index And Covid-19 Severity (Lancet)
Covid-19 Could Cause Strokes Among Young & Healthy People (RT)
Biden’s Address To The Nation Was Little More Than A Magic Carpet Ride (Ritter)
Biden DOJ “Actively Considering” Domestic Terrorism Law (ZH)
Admitting Defeat in Afghanistan: American “State-Building” Fails Again (Clamp)
Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice Concerned About Afghan Troop Withdrawal (Axios)
Giuliani Says FBI Agents Declined To Take Hunter Biden’s Hard Drives (JTN)
Lavrov Calls Out Perfidious Albion in EU Diplomat Spat (SCF)
Lavrov: US-Russia Relations Now Worse Than Cold War (ZH)
Geoengineering: ‘Plan B’ For The Planet (Phys.Org)

 

 

LFD=Lateral Flow Antigen test
John Deeks: The 1st 2 weeks of school testing did find MORE FALSE POSITIVES than TRUE POSITIVES – data are finally public. Proportion false were 62% and 55% in these 2 weeks. Of 2304 positive tests, 1353 were likely false, with 1 positive per 6900 tests done.

 

 

Informed disconsent: Incentivize connection and hugs and sunshine

John Day: Guys, you need MORE transmission in the SUMMER, when everybody tolerates viral illness so much better.

 

 

“The fact that a huge number of people who are infected by COVID-19 recover becomes immaterial. Only images and emotions stay with them.”

Mental Health Experts Ask Media Not To Create Panic Around Covid-19 (OpIndia)

Senior Professor of Psychiatry and the current Director of NIMHANS, Dr. BN Gangadhar along with other esteemed mental health professionals called upon the media to avoid “panic-inducing coverage” through an open letter. The health experts issued an open letter criticising the media for reporting Covid-19 deaths from crematoriums and creating hysteria and panic among the people. The letter goes into detail regarding the various mental health problems a person encounters when bombarded with overtly negative and pessimistic media coverage around the clock. “Mass media has the power to communicate to millions at the same time. When the reach is so huge, every word, every image, and every nuance matters.

However, what we are seeing on our TV screens, mobile screens and newspapers is disconcerting, to put it very mildly.” the letter reads, establishing the responsibility of the mainstream media. The letter criticized the mainstream media’s overtly negative, dower and opportunistic coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic. “Images of bodies burning in cremation grounds, relatives of the deceased wailing inconsolably, emotional outbursts, and hysterical reporters with cameramen swarming over the bereaved who are going through deeply emotional moments – this may help garner eyeballs. But there is a steep price to be paid for such coverage.” the letter goes on. In order to demonstrate their point, the health professionals put forth an illustration in the letter. “Imagine someone has just tested positive for COVID-19.

If they have witnessed the panic-inducing coverage from cremation grounds, it keeps weighing on their minds and their loved ones. The fact that a huge number of people who are infected by COVID-19 recover becomes immaterial. Only images and emotions stay with them.” The mental health doctors emphasized the need for a positive mindset and requested the media to avoid “panic-inducing” coverage. “Yet again, we are not saying that the facts should not be reported. We are saying that hysteria and panic-inducing coverage should be avoided,” the letter makes clear. “As mental health professionals, we can tell you that specific information empowers people and prepares them to face any challenge. But panic weakens them”.

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“It’s not taking care of your kids. It’s not practicing your faith. It’s not doing doing as well as you can in your profession. None of that is as important as avoiding disease.”

Stanford Prof: CDC Paved Way For ‘Institutionalization of Hypochondria’ (JTN)

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance on mask-wearing, advising that Americans who are fully vaccinated may now exercise and attend small outdoor gatherings without a mask. It’s too little, too late, argues Stanford University Professor of Medicine Jay Bhattacharya. The public health agency’s hypervigilant coronavirus response over the past 12-14 months has paved the way for what he calls “the institutionalization of hypochondria” among the American public “This sort of order should have come long ago,” said Bhattacharya during an interview on “Just the News AM.” “I think they’re being entirely too cautious by saying, ‘Okay, only if you’re vaccinated … People who have had the disease before are also immune. Why shouldn’t they be ‘allowed’ to not wear masks?”

There has been “very little evidence of outdoor transmission of the disease to begin with,” added Bhattacharya, coauthor of the Great Barrington Declaration, a manifesto that urges an alternative COVID-19 strategy focused on protecting those at greatest risk while minimizing disruption and damage to the larger society. The statement has been signed by close to 14,000 medical and public health scientists. “[P]ublic health authorities, including the CDC have generated an enormous amount of fear and panic around the disease,” says Bhattacharya. On Tuesday, President Biden, who has been fully vaccinated for many months, wore a mask outside as he walked to the podium to address the press regarding the CDC’s newest guidance. Last week, Biden wore a mask during a virtual climate summit with other world leaders.

Calling masks “a palpable symbol of panic and fear,” Bhattacharya said Biden’s use of a mask in public “even though he has been vaccinated and is immune, sends the entirely wrong signal about the efficacy of vaccination and a whole host of other things.” “We basically have said, look at disease avoidance as the central problem in your life, no matter who you are,” he explained. “It’s not taking care of your kids. It’s not practicing your faith. It’s not doing doing as well as you can in your profession. None of that is as important as avoiding disease. And I think it’s going to be very difficult to undo that.”

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Coming to a town near you. Just wait till stimulus is withdrawn.

One In Seven Shops Lie Empty After Lockdown (BBC)

The number of empty shops has risen again, with one in seven across Britain now vacant, according to new research. All areas saw a rise but the North of England suffered the biggest hit, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said. “After a third national lockdown, it is no surprise that the vacancy rate has continued to soar,” BRC chief Helen Dickinson said. Restrictions came on top of already difficult High Street conditions and further closures are likely, she said. The BRC’s quarterly report, compiled with the Local Data Company, found that in the first three months of 2021, the overall vacancy rate increased to 14.1%, from 13.7% in the previous quarter.


This was 1.9 percentage points higher than in the same point in 2020, and marks three years of increasing vacancy rates, the report said. Shopping centres, whose landlords have been hit hard during lockdown and by the shift to online, saw vacancies increase to 18.4% in the January-March period, from 17.1% in the previous three months. The report said 12% of shopping centre units have been empty for a year or more. Ms Dickinson said: “The forced closure of thousands of shops during the first quarter of 2021 has exacerbated already difficult conditions for the retail industry. We estimate there are around 5,000 fewer stores since the start of the pandemic.”

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“If approved, this provision would exclude Hungary and Slovakia, both of which have used Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.”

EU Disunity Over Vaccine Certificate (K.)

The European Parliament has approved the issuing of a “green passport” for those inoculated against the coronavirus, but its position differs significantly from the Commission’s and the European Council’s. All sides will have to work at full speed if they want the certificate issued before the end of June. The European Parliament’s main demand is that the certificate – which it wants to be renamed “Covid-19 certificate” from the Commission’s “Green Passport” – apply only to people inoculated with the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). If approved, this provision would exclude Hungary and Slovakia, both of which have used Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Hungary has also used China’s Sinopharm vaccine, widely considered of dubious effectiveness. The EMA has not approved either vaccine, so far.

The European Council’s common position is that member-states must have the option to use vaccines not approved by the EMA and adopting the Parliament’s decision could spark a serious clash. The MEPs also want people who carry such a certificate to be exempted from quarantine rules, taking away the decision from the member-states. While the document will primarily be used for travel within the EU, it will be up to each member-state to require it domestically, for example, to admit people in restaurants or cinemas. The MEPs consider lifting the quarantine for certificate holders a crucial issue for the free movement of people within the Schengen Area, a movement guaranteed by the Lisbon Treaty of 2007.

Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, the Socialist rapporteur of the certificate proposition, said the Schengen Area is in a very bad state because of the unilateral restrictions of all sorts on cross-border movement imposed by individual member-states. The Parliament also wants the coronavirus diagnostic tests that allow cross-border movement issued for free.

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“..a new method of transferring a new medicine, based on exosomes, nanoparticles that participate in intracellular activities..”

Two Greek Hospitals To Host Clinical Trials Of Israeli Covid-19 Treatment (K.)

Infectious disease expert and chief scientific adviser on the pandemic, Sotiris Tsiodras, discussed on Thursday the start of the clinical trials in Greece of an Israeli coronavirus treatment in two hospitals. “We are participating in these new trials with great enthusiasm. The study utilizes a new method of transferring a new medicine, based on exosomes, nanoparticles that participate in intracellular activities,” said Tsiodras during a meeting in Athens with Israeli Professor of Medicine Nadir Arber who is responsible for the new drug against Covid-19 developed at the Medical Centre Ichilov in Tel Aviv.


“It is a very promising method according to the data from the clinical trials in Israel. We are moving forward by conducting Phase II trials here in Greece, in which we will evaluate parameters like safety, dosology, and efficacy,” he stated. On his side, Arber said, “we should remain humble and modest – but we are really excited. In fact, I want to point out that I came here in person as I wanted to see the people first and then the facilities. We are talking about great doctors and people who have inspired my confidence.”

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Difficult way to describe a very obvious phenomenon.

Associations Between Body-Mass Index And Covid-19 Severity (Lancet)

Obesity is a major risk factor for adverse outcomes after infection with SARS-CoV-2. We aimed to examine this association, including interactions with demographic and behavioural characteristics, type 2 diabetes, and other health conditions. [..] In this prospective, community-based, cohort study, we used de-identified patient-level data from the QResearch database of general practices in England, UK. We extracted data for patients aged 20 years and older who were registered at a practice eligible for inclusion in the QResearch database between Jan 24, 2020 (date of the first recorded infection in the UK) and April 30, 2020, and with available data on BMI. Data extracted included demographic, clinical, clinical values linked with Public Health England’s database of positive SARS-CoV-2 test results, and death certificates from the Office of National Statistics.


Outcomes, as a proxy measure of severe COVID-19, were admission to hospital, admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), and death due to COVID-19. We used Cox proportional hazard models to estimate the risk of severe COVID-19, sequentially adjusting for demographic characteristics, behavioural factors, and comorbidities. [..] At a BMI of more than 23 kg/m2, we found a linear increase in risk of severe COVID-19 leading to admission to hospital and death, and a linear increase in admission to an ICU across the whole BMI range, which is not attributable to excess risks of related diseases. The relative risk due to increasing BMI is particularly notable people younger than 40 years and of Black ethnicity.

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“..38% of those who had a stroke soon after recovering from Covid-19 did not even know they had the disease”

Covid-19 Could Cause Strokes Among Young & Healthy People (RT)

Scientists from more than 30 countries say they have detected an “unusually high” percentage of young people among patients that were hospitalized with a stroke after having Covid-19, including in asymptomatic form. One in four post-Covid stroke patients is younger than 55, according to the comprehensive international study published in the peer-reviewed journal Stroke. This is considered unusually high, given that normally only between 10% and 15% of stroke patients are aged between 18 and 50. More alarmingly, the researchers say that Covid-19 could trigger a stroke in people who would normally be extremely low risk for having one. “Many patients, especially the younger ones, did not present any traditional risk factor for strokes, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart problems and so on,” said Hebrew University Professor Ronen Leker, one of almost 90 co-authors of the study.

The data show a “connection between the coronavirus and strokes in younger patients, as a result of blockages in larger blood vessels,” Leker told Israeli media. Even patients who had Covid-19 in a mild or asymptomatic form are not shielded from potentially dire consequences, researchers say. In fact, the study, published on April 21, showed that almost 38% of those who had a stroke soon after recovering from Covid-19 did not even know they had the disease. They had no recognizable symptoms of the novel coronavirus, such as cough, fever or shortness of breath. The fact that they had Covid-19 only came to light after they were tested in hospitals, where they were admitted with a stroke. In total, the study’s authors analyzed data on 432 patients provided by 136 different medical centers in 32 countries.

Patients in the study experienced acute ischemic stroke, intracranial hemorrhage, and cerebral venous or sinus thrombosis. At least 71 medical centers also reported that they had at least one patient who had a stroke during Covid-19 hospitalization or soon after it. The phenomenon can be explained by the fact that Covid-19 targets various organs in the body, disrupting their normal function and causing blood clots and other complications, Leker said. “The brain is one of the organs that the coronavirus targets, as well as blood vessels in the brain,” he explained, adding that the disease could also lead to an irregular heart rhythm and the migration of blood clots to the brain.

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“Biden’s presentation was, both literally and figuratively, to an audience of one: Senator Joe Manchin, the conservative Democrat from West Virginia.”

Biden’s Address To The Nation Was Little More Than A Magic Carpet Ride (Ritter)

Roosevelt, however, had the support of Congress firmly under the control of his party, had been elected with overwhelming majorities, and the nation was united in its belief that its president represented their shared values when it came to pulling the country out of the depths of the Great Depression. Biden, on the other hand, is wrestling with a 50-50 Senate and a House where the Democrats have a razor-thin margin that many expect to evaporate come mid-term elections in 2022. Moreover, Biden helms a nation where nearly 50% of the voting public cast their ballots against him. In short, they view Biden as the problem, not the solution, and are more inclined to oppose the kind of changes Biden is seeking for two years, at which time they believe the Republican Party will be able to regain full control of at least one, and possibly both, houses of Congress.

Given the tight political margins that Biden is dealing with (a quick CNN poll of viewers who watched the speech found that only 51% had a favorable opinion of the speech), it comes as no surprise that at the end of the day, Biden’s presentation was, both literally and figuratively, to an audience of one: Senator Joe Manchin, the conservative Democrat from West Virginia. Biden needs Manchin’s support if any of his legislative proposals are to have a chance of becoming law. Unfortunately for Biden, Manchin’s vision of where West Virginia needs to go and how it should get there does not mesh well with Biden’s. The American Families Plan, Biden’s ambitious successor to Roosevelt’s New Deal, is, as presented in the speech, dead on arrival when it comes to Manchin.

To get it to pass the Senate, Biden will need to water it down to such an extent that he may lose others in his own party. The kind of political compromise necessary to pass the kind of sweeping legislation Biden has proposed may have been possible at one time in America’s history, but not today. Biden spoke of “We the People” as a unifying mantra that united him with his audience. But many of “the people” do not support him, and indeed never will. America is a fundamentally divided nation, and nothing in Biden’s speech altered that unfortunate reality. Manchin is but the political manifestation of this divide. In the end, Biden’s address was little more than a reflection of America as it is today, and not the vision of America he sought to project.

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But only white supremacists.

Biden DOJ “Actively Considering” Domestic Terrorism Law (ZH)

“One of the things we’re looking at is would we need new authorities,” said deputy assistant attorney general for the department’s national security division, Brad Wiegmann, during a Thursday House hearing. Weigmann added that while the department has been successful using existing laws to fight domestic terrorism – including bringing charges for offenses involving weapons or explosives violations, hate crimes and arson, there have been more than 430 arrests made in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol “carried out by extremist supporters of then-President Donald Trump” (as Bloomberg puts it). The FBI has warned that domestic violent extremists pose a heightened threat for carrying out attacks in the U.S. in the near future, with white supremacists being the most lethal threat.

Currently, no U.S. law lets the government designate domestic extremists as terrorists or bring specific charges for domestic terrorism. That contrasts with laws to combat international terrorism, which allow the government to designate groups and bring charges for providing those groups with material support. -Bloomberg “The question we’re really wrestling with is, are there gaps,” Weigman told a House Appropriations subcommittee. “Is there some type of conduct that we can envision that we can’t cover or would it be an otherwise benefit in having something else other than what we’re having now?”

Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania – chairman of the subcommittee, said that: “Right-wing extremist attacks and plots have greatly outnumbered those from all other groups combined and caused more deaths as well,” adding “This is a cancer on our country.” Which is weird, because at least 4 members of the Proud Boys were FBI informants who gave the agency information prior to the Jan. 6 ‘insurrection.’ That said, several groups have voiced their opposition to a specific domestic terrorism law – from civil liberties advocates to conservatives – who say that a new law is unnecessary, and could be used to violate the Constitutional rights of US citizens.

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“In Afghanistan, almost 40 million people survive, and manage to navigate through the carnage. They live today as they did in 2001 and 1981, in a state shorn of security, pulverized and cratered.”

Admitting Defeat in Afghanistan: American “State-Building” Fails Again (Clamp)

So Rudyard Kipling’s arithmetic came to pass after all. ‘Strike hard who cares—shoot straight who can/ The odds are on the cheaper man.’ The U.S. has thrown in the towel. Another ‘superpower’ is set to depart Afghanistan. The symbolic date of September 11 is meant to have a ring of finality to it. It should: a trillion dollars later, the United States has failed in all its war aims. Eschewing historical and scholarly knowledge, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was their first mistake. However impelled you feel to invade the fulcrum state, you should always count to ten. Some units entering the country will have passed Gandamak, where a British army was massacred in 1842. Few American soldiers will have noted the landmark.


U.S. withdrawals tend to be attended by even worse conditions than those they found on invading. In Afghanistan, almost 40 million people survive, and manage to navigate through the carnage. They live today as they did in 2001 and 1981, in a state shorn of security, pulverized and cratered. George W. Bush’s stated aims were the destruction of al-Qaeda and the removal of the Taliban from power. That was in 2001, two decades ago. Today, the situation is arguably worse. The Taliban have control of, or are contesting, the majority of the country. al-Qaeda affiliated personnel are still embedded in their ranks. The Kabul government controls perhaps a third of the country’s 407 municipal districts.

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Different parties, same mind.

Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice Concerned About Afghan Troop Withdrawal (Axios)

Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee they’re worried about President Biden’s plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, with Rice suggesting the U.S. may need to go back, Axios has learned. The position puts two former secretaries of State — from the Obama and Bush administrations — at odds with one of Biden’s most significant foreign policy moves to date. The new president has vowed to complete the withdrawal by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack. U.S. forces were sent to Afghanistan by Rice’s then-boss, former President George W. Bush, to destroy havens used by the attack’s organizers. Clinton and Rice offered their reactions during a members-only Zoom call Wednesday, two attendees told Axios.

“We had Secretaries Clinton and Condi Rice Zoom today with the committee,” one committee member told Axios. “A little disagreement on Afghanistan, but they both agreed we’re going to need to sustain a counterterrorism mission somehow outside of that country.” “Condi Rice is like, ‘You know, we’re probably gonna have to go back,'” amid a potential surge in terrorism, the member said. Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the committee, told Axios: “With the potential for an Islamic State, coupled with what they’re going to do to our contractors in Yemen and Afghanistan is, sadly, it’s going to be tragic there and we all see it coming.” Another member of the committee confirmed both Clinton and Rice raised concerns about the potential fallout from a quick removal of all U.S. troops.

Both also expressed concerns about protecting U.S. diplomats on the ground following the withdrawal and what the move will mean for the global war on terrorism. Both Rice and Clinton supported military intervention in the Middle East following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Rice, who was Bush’s national security adviser at the time, helped craft the administration’s wartime response. Then-senator Clinton — considered by many as a military hawk — voted in 2002 to give Bush the authority to go to war, a vote she later said she regretted while on the presidential campaign trail. Clinton also supported surging additional troops to Afghanistan in 2009.

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Hunter could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not be charged.

Giuliani Says FBI Agents Declined To Take Hunter Biden’s Hard Drives (JTN)

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani during an interview on Thursday said that FBI agents who searched his home this week declined to take Hunter Biden’s hard drives. Giuliani said that seven FBI agents showed up early Wednesday morning with a warrant for electronics. He said when he asked them if they wanted to take Hunter Biden’s hard drives, they declined. “Hunter Biden’s hard drives fall within the scope of the subpoena. The subpoena required them to take all electronics, but they decided to leave that behind. And they also were completely content to rely on my word that these were Hunter Biden’s hard drives,” the former mayor told conservative commentator Tucker Carlson during an interview on the Fox News Channel.


Giuliani described the warrant as “completely illegal,” saying that the only way authorities can obtain a search warrant is if they can demonstrate that the individual will destroy or abscond with the evidence. “Well I’ve had it for two years and I haven’t destroyed it. And they also got it from the iCloud,” he said, adding that the warrant was unjustified, unlawful and unconstitutional. Giuliani said that he has “never, ever represented a foreign national.” “The search warrant is purportedly based on one single failure to file for representing a Ukrainian national or official that I never represented,” he said. Giuliani stated that he “never represented a Ukrainian national or official before the United States government. I’ve declined it several times. I’ve had contracts in countries like Ukraine. In the contract is a clause that says I will not engage in lobbying or foreign representation. I don’t do it because I felt it would be too compromising,” he said.

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”..stirring the escalating row between the European Union and Russia in which diplomats are being expelled pell-mell..”

Lavrov Calls Out Perfidious Albion in EU Diplomat Spat (SCF)

The British establishment likes to boast that they “punch above their weight” in terms of influence beyond their territorial size. It’s not hard to see how they manage such a feat. It’s called duplicity, intrigue, lies, and dividing and ruling. Britain is fomenting a diplomatic crisis between the European Union and Russia, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Evidence and precedent indicate Lavrov has his sight well-trained. The British establishment’s notorious ability for machination and intrigue – hence the ancient moniker Perfidious Albion – can be seen as stirring the escalating row between the European Union and Russia in which diplomats are being expelled pell-mell.

This week, Russia ordered the withdrawal of representatives from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia. That came in response to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from those countries. Russia has also ordered home more diplomats from the Czech Republic. Poland and Italy have also been caught up in diplomatic antagonism with Moscow. The row blew up last week when the Czech Republic accused Russian state agents of being responsible for twin explosions on its territory back in 2104. The blasts caused the deaths of two workers at an ammunition depot near the village of Vrbetice close to the border with Slovakia. Until recently, the Czech authorities had concluded that the explosions were an industrial accident. What prompted the Czechs to revise their ideas and to now blame Russia for sabotage is the interpolation of Britain in providing “new information”.

Specifically, it was the MI6-sponsored media group Bellingcat (a so-called private investigatory agency) which appears to have furnished the disinformation which purports to show the involvement of Russian military intelligence (GRU). Incredibly, the British claim their “evidence” shows that two of the GRU agents were also the same individuals who were alleged to have been involved in poisoning the Russian traitor-spy Sergei Skripal in England in 2018. The British claim to have passport information to support their claims, but such methodology is rife with forgery – a black art that the British are all-too skilled at. On leveling the accusation against Russia, the Czech Republic then ordered the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats. Moscow responded angrily, saying that the claims of sabotage were a “dirty fabrication” and pointing out that Prague did not provide any information for verification.

Russia took swift reciprocal action by banishing 20 Czech diplomats from its territory. However, the row continues to flare with the Baltic states entering the fray by banning Russian officials in “solidarity” with the Czech Republic. The move by the Baltic states is predictable as they are supercharged by anti-Russian political sentiment. It’s a case of any excuse for them to inflame relations. The dispute comes at a fraught time when the European Union is discussing imposing more sanctions on Russia over wider concerns about the conflict in Ukraine, the imprisonment of blogger Alexei Navalny and a Russian security crackdown on Navalny’s shadowy Western-backed “opposition” network.

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The US might wish they had a Lavrov.

Lavrov: US-Russia Relations Now Worse Than Cold War (ZH)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that the state of US-Russia relations is now even worse than during the Cold War. His Wednesday comments during a televised interview might be easily dismissed as hyperbole, given there’s not something that’s quite equivalent to the Cuban missile crisis happening right now, but it does accurately convey things in terms of lack of simple communications at a diplomatic level. He said it was the “lack of respect” in the current climate that makes things worse. Lavrov explained Moscow has a desire to normalize ties with Washington but that should the Biden administration refuse respectful dialogue, “we would live in conditions of a ‘Cold War’ or worse.”


“During the Cold War, the tensions were flying high and risky crisis situations often emerged, but there was also a mutual respect,” he said as cited in The Associated Press. “It seems to me there is a deficit of it now.” Whether or not this dangerous trajectory in lack of “respect” and communications will continue is likely to be determined on whether the proposed Biden-Putin summit actually takes place this summer. In the past days there’s been multiple reports from both sides signaling the meeting is in preparation for a European country for mid-June. The latest on Russia’s view on summit progress comes via the AP as follows: “Speaking in an interview with Russian state television, Lavrov noted that Moscow has had a “positive” attitude to U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposal to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but added that Russia still needs to analyze all aspects of the initiative.”

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What cann we do to stop these complete idiots?

Geoengineering: ‘Plan B’ For The Planet (Phys.Org)

Dismissed a decade ago as far-fetched and dangerous, schemes to tame the effects of global warming by engineering the climate have migrated from the margins of policy debates towards centre stage. “Plan A” remains tackling the problem at its source. But the UN’s top climate science body has made it clear that slashing carbon pollution won’t be enough to keep Earth from overheating. That has opened the door to a host of geoengineering schemes, from building underwater walls to shore up an Antarctic glacier the size of Britain to injecting a giant sunscreen into the stratosphere. Here is a menu of “Plan B” geoengineering solutions, along with their potential drawbacks:

Direct CO2 capture Experiments have shown it is possible to suck planet-warming carbon dioxide directly from the air, converting it into fuel pellets or storing it underground. A company backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates launched a pilot facility in Canada in 2015, and another company operates one in Iceland. DRAWBACK: The technology is currently prohibitively expensive and might take decades to operate at scale.

Solar radiation management Unlike other strategies, solar radiation management does not target CO2. The goal is simple: prevent some of the sun’s rays from hitting the planet’s surface, forcing them back up into space. One idea is to inject or spray tiny reflective particles into the stratosphere—possibly with balloons, aircraft or through giant tubes. Nature sometimes does the same: Debris from the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines lowered the planet’s average surface temperature for a year or two afterwards. Sixty-six million years ago, a ten-kilometre wide asteroid strike threw up so much debris that it wiped out land-based dinosaurs built for steamy tropical climes.

In April, a balloon test flight in Sweden for the Harvard-led project SCoPEx, short for “Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment”, was postponed amid concerns over the implications for the environment and people in the country. DRAWBACKS: Even if it works as intended, solar radiation management would do nothing to reduce atmospheric CO2, which is making oceans too acidic. There is also the danger of knock-on consequences, including changes in rainfall patterns, and what scientists call “termination shock”—a sudden warming if the system were to fail.

Read more …

 

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Apr 272021
 
 April 27, 2021  Posted by at 9:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  46 Responses »


Hieronymous Bosch The Haywain Triptych c.1516

 

India’s “Covid Crisis” Has Been Hijacked (DE)
China To Mobilise Its Private Companies To Help India Fight Covid-19 (SCMP)
US To Export AZ Vaccine As India Battles ‘Heartbreaking’ Covid Surge (Y!)
Bill Gates Says No To Sharing Vaccine Formulas With Global Poor (Salon)
Isreali Health Body Report On COVID Vax ‘Deadly’ Impacts (PSI)
Pakistan Deploys Troops To Help Authorities Cope With Covid-19 Infections (RT)
Germany’s New Lockdown Law Sparks Constitutional Court Complaints (RT)
The United States: Hardly A Recovery (Lacalle)
Biden Sees Majority Approval After 100 Days, But The Numbers Don’t Add Up (RT)
Biden’s Stimulus Checks “Wreck Labor Pool” As People Get Paid To Stay Home (ZH)
Joe Biden Declares War on Tax Havens – in Europe, Too (Spiegel)
US Pledges $300mn To Fund Massive Global Anti-China Media Machine (Fowdy)
US Deploying 650 Additional Troops to Afghanistan (Antiwar)
Chinese Experts To Join Fukushima Wastewater Working Group (RT)

 

 

Gun sales rise 35% in Q1 to a record 12,452,319

 

 

Yes, the media inevitably makes a spectacle out of it, fear sells. But even if “on the record breaking day for new infections in India just 0.02% of the population tested positive for Covid-19”, that’s still a lot of people. Who in many places live more closely together than westerners would be comfortable with, an ideal breeding ground for a virus. They wouldn’t be comfortable with a health-care system like India’s either. There are many sides to this story.

India’s “Covid Crisis” Has Been Hijacked (DE)

The Sun newspaper even released a video back at the end of January 2020 which was a compilation of people collapsing on the streets of Wuhan. The headline was ‘DISASTER ZONE – Coronavirus leaves Wuhan a ‘zombieland”. It is only with the benefit of hindsight that we can now be 100% certain this was done to deceive the public and whip up fear. The Guardian newspaper also released an article at the end of January 2020 of which the headline was ‘A man lies dead in the street: the image that captures the Wuhan coronavirus crisis’. How many people have you seen drop dead in your street due to having the alleged Covid-19 disease? We bet the answer is zero. So isn’t it curious to find that after over a year of nobody dropping dead in the street throughout the world, suddenly the public are being told it is happening again in India.

Curious because according to official figures the pandemic is no longer raging throughout the United Kingdom. Curious because according to official figures excess deaths in the UK have now dropped below the five-year average. Curious because authorities will still not grant the British people their former rights and freedoms even though it is no longer justified. So what better way to justify the continuation of medical tyranny than ramping up the fear of a new variant hitting the shores of the United Kingdom. Because make no mistake that is exactly what the authorities and mainstream media are doing right now with the constant propaganda on the “dire” situation in India and the potential threat of the new Indian variant. ‘Why India’s worsening Covid crisis is a dire problem for the world’ – this is another headline to an article released by ‘The Guardian’ newspaper.

Here’s the opening paragraph of the article – “The catastrophe unfolding in India appears to be the worst-case scenario that many feared from the Covid-19 pandemic: unable to find sufficient hospital beds, access to tests, medicines or oxygen, the country of 1.4 billion is sinking beneath the weight of infections.” That very paragraph alone is enough for us to uncover the barefaced lies within the current narrative that is being portrayed in the mainstream media. Let’s start with the fact that India has a population of 1.4 billion people. If we look at the number of daily positive tests for SARS-CoV-2 we can see that on the 24th April 2021, India recorded 349,691 positive tests. This equates to just 0.02% of the entire population of India testing positive for Covid on the 24th April 2021.

The 24th April has also been the highest day on record in India for the number of positive test results for SARS-CoV-2. Yet the mainstream media have said that “the country of 1.4 billion is sinking beneath the weight of infections”. They’re lying. The second thing to take into account is that India, for some strange reason has decided to ramp up its testing, and not just of people with symptoms either. They’re carrying out asymptomatic testing. Which test are they using? The PCR test of course. PCR tests look for genetic matter from the new coronavirus using amplification cycles. However, the number of amplification cycles that was needed to detect genetic matter from the virus, which is referred to as the cycle threshold, typically isn’t included in test results sent to doctors and patients.

Many coronavirus tests have fairly high cycle thresholds, with most set at 40 and some set at 37. That means a number of people who aren’t carrying much of the new coronavirus are still testing positive, even though they may not be contagious. You can read our full breakdown on the PCR test here. This means that there will be a huge number of false positives across India, even despite the fact more tests equals more cases. But we’ll say it again, on the record breaking day for new infections in India just 0.02% of the population tested positive for Covid-19.

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“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced on Saturday that it was waiving import duties on vaccines, oxygen and related equipment.”

Say what?

China To Mobilise Its Private Companies To Help India Fight Covid-19 (SCMP)

China has vowed to encourage its private companies to help India in its battle against a drastic surge in Covid-19 cases which has seen repeated daily global records of new infections and local media reports that patients are dying because of a lack of oxygen supplies. Wang Xiaojian, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in India, said the country had the firm support of China’s government and its people in the fight against the pandemic. “We will encourage and guide Chinese companies to actively cooperate with India to facilitate acquiring medical supplies, and provide support and help according to India’s need,” he said, in an embassy statement on Monday night.

In separate remarks, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China and India were in communication over the pandemic response, and that Beijing would provide materials, if requested by New Delhi. He also called on India’s fellow members of the Quad security alliance – Australia, the US and Japan – to provide assistance to the stricken country. “I hope these nations can jointly provide India and related countries with support and assistance within their capacity to fight the epidemic, and fulfil their due international responsibilities and obligations,” he said. Zhu Yongbiao, a professor of international relations at Lanzhou University, said China’s assistance was likely to include medical equipment, vaccine, prevention and treatment plans, depending on the Indian government’s request and the pandemic situation.

“China may also encourage and support Chinese-funded companies in India to provide assistance through non-governmental ways.” Chinese diplomatic missions to Sri Lanka and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific announced on Twitter that some 800 oxygen concentrators were delivered from Hong Kong to Delhi, with 10,000 more to be delivered in a week, following a statement from the Indian cargo airline SpiceXpress which airlifted the consignment. In a bid to boost supplies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced on Saturday that it was waiving import duties on vaccines, oxygen and related equipment.

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Did the FDA approve authorize it yet?

US To Export AZ Vaccine As India Battles ‘Heartbreaking’ Covid Surge (Y!)

The United States committed Monday to releasing up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, as India grapples with a catastrophic new surge in infections and severe medical shortages, with hospitals overwhelmed and crematoriums at capacity. The South Asian giant of 1.3 billion people recorded 352,991 new infections and 2,812 deaths on Monday – its highest levels since the pandemic began – as its Hindu-nationalist government comes under fire for allowing mass gatherings such as religious festivals and political rallies in recent weeks. But with its health system completely overwhelmed, Western countries are rushing to India’s aid – including the United States, which has come under fire for hoarding supplies including of the AstraZeneca vaccine, as other countries battle sprawling outbreaks.


“U.S. to release 60 million Astra Zeneca doses to other countries as they become available,” tweeted Andy Slavitt, senior advisor to the White House on Covid response. It was not immediately clear how many doses are ready to be shipped or where they will go, with Slavitt adding “at this time there are still very few available.” But President Joe Biden held a telephone call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, pledging his country’s “steadfast support for the people of India who have been impacted by the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.” The United States “is providing a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials and therapeutics,” Biden told Modi, according to a statement.

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“It’s not like there’s some idle vaccine factory, with regulatory approval, that makes magically safe vaccines.”

Uh, yes, there are many such facilities. The WHO has entire lists of them.

Bill Gates Says No To Sharing Vaccine Formulas With Global Poor (Salon)

Bill Gates, one of the world’s richest men and most powerful philanthropists, was the target of criticism from social justice campaigners on Sunday after arguing that lifting patent protections on COVID-19 vaccine technology and sharing recipes with the world to foster a massive ramp up in manufacturing and distribution — despite a growing international call to do exactly that — is a bad idea. Directly asked during an interview with Sky News if he thought it “would be helpful” to have vaccine recipes be shared, Gates quickly answered: “No.” Asked to explain why not, Gates — whose massive fortune as founder of Microsoft relies largely on intellectual property laws that turned his software innovations into tens of billions of dollars in personal wealth — said: “Well, there’s only so many vaccine factories in the world and people are very serious about the safety of vaccines.

“And so moving something that had never been done — moving a vaccine, say, from a [Johnson & Johnson] factory into a factory in India — it’s novel — it’s only because of our grants and expertise that that can happen at all.” The reference is to the Serum factory in India, the largest such institute in the country, which has contracts with AstraZeneca to manufacture their COVID-19 vaccine, known internationally as Covishield. The thing that’s holding “things back” in terms of the global vaccine rollout, continued Gates, “is not intellectual property. It’s not like there’s some idle vaccine factory, with regulatory approval, that makes magically safe vaccines. You know, you’ve got to do the trial on these things. Every manufacturing process needs to be looked at in a very careful way.”

Critical advocates for robust and immediate change to intellectual property protections at the World Trade Organization when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines, however, issued scathing indictments of Gates’ defense of the status quo. Nick Dearden, executive director of Global Justice Now, one of the lead partner groups in an international coalition calling for WTO patent waivers at a crucial meeting of the world body next month, characterized Gates’ remarks — and the ideological framework behind them — as “disgusting.” “Who appointed this billionaire head of global health?” asked Dearden. “Oh yeah, he did.”

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“..a high rate of massive vaginal bleeding, neurological damage, and damage to the skeletal and skin systems [..] Hypercoagulability (infarction), Myocardial infarction, stroke, miscarriages, impaired blood flow to the limbs, pulmonary embolism.”

Isreali Health Body Report On COVID Vax ‘Deadly’ Impacts (PSI)

The Israeli People Committee (IPC), a civilian body made of leading Israeli health experts, has published its April report into the Pfizer vaccine’s side effects.* The findings are catastrophic on every possible level. Their verdict is that “there has never been a vaccine that has harmed as many people.” The report is long and detailed. I will outline just some of the most devastating findings presented in the report. “We received 288 death reports in proximity to vaccination (90% up to 10 days after the vaccination), 64% of those were men.” Yet the report states, “according to data provided by the Ministry of Health, only 45 deaths in Israel were vaccine related.” If the numbers above are sincere then Israel, which claimed to conduct a world experiment, failed to genuinely report on its experiment’s results.

We often hear about blood clots caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine. For instance, we learned this morning about 300 cases of blood clots in of Europe. However, if the IPC’s findings are genuine, then in Israel alone the Pfizer vaccine may be associated with more deaths than AstraZeneca’s in the whole of Europe. “According to Central Bureau of Statistics data during January-February 2021, at the peak of the Israeli mass vaccination campaign, there was a 22% increase in overall mortality in Israel compared with the previous year. In fact, January-February 2021 have been the deadliest months in the last decade, with the highest overall mortality rates compared to corresponding months in the last 10 years.”

The IPC finds that “amongst the 20-29 age group the increase in overall mortality has been most dramatic. In this age group, we detect an increase of 32% in overall mortality in comparison with previous year.” “Statistical analysis of information from the Central Bureau of Statistics, combined with information from the Ministry of Health, leads to the conclusion that the mortality rate amongst the vaccinated is estimated at about 1: 5000 (1: 13000 at ages 20-49, 1: 6000 at ages 50-69, 1: 1600 at ages 70+). According to this estimate, it is possible to estimate the number of deaths in Israel in proximity of the vaccine, as of today, at about 1000-1100 people.” Again, if this statistical analysis is correct then the numbers reported by the Israeli health authorities are misleading by more than 22-fold.

[..] “There is a high correlation between the number of people vaccinated per day and the number of deaths per day, in the range of up to 10 days, in all age groups. Ages 20-49 – a range of 9 days from the date of vaccination to mortality, ages 50-69 – 5 days from the date of vaccination to mortality, ages 70 and up – 3 days from the date of vaccination to mortality.” The IPC also reveals that the “the risk of mortality after the second vaccine is higher than the risk of mortality after the first vaccine.” But death isn’t the only risk to do with vaccination. The IPC reveals that “as of the date of publication of the report, 2066 reports of side effects have accumulated in the Civil Investigation Committee and the data continue to come in.

These reports indicate damage to almost every system in the human body.…Our analysis found a relatively high rate of heart-related injuries, 26% of all cardiac events occurred in young people up to the age of 40, with the most common diagnosis in these cases being Myositis or Pericarditis.” “Also, a high rate of massive vaginal bleeding, neurological damage, and damage to the skeletal and skin systems has been observed. It should be noted that a significant number of reports of side effects are related, directly or indirectly, to Hypercoagulability (infarction), Myocardial infarction, stroke, miscarriages, impaired blood flow to the limbs, pulmonary embolism.”

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Pakistan is like India in many ways.

Pakistan Deploys Troops To Help Authorities Cope With Covid-19 Infections (RT)

As rising Covid-19 infections threaten to collapse Pakistan’s healthcare system, Islamabad has deployed troops across the country, with particular attention to 16 major cities, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. Soldiers “will go to every corner of Pakistan to ensure the protection of citizens,” military spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar told reporters on Monday, adding that the primary purpose of the deployment “is to help civil institutions and law enforcement agencies.” “In this testing time, the Pakistan Army will use all its capabilities to take every possible step for the protection of citizens and their lives.”

According to General Iftikhar, there are presently around 90,000 cases of Covid-19 in the country, with 4,300 people in critical condition, including 570 people on ventilators. Pakistan has been registering around 5,500 cases and 130 deaths per day, similar to the figures during the peak of the first wave in June 2020. Pakistan has around 220 million residents. The rate of positive tests has risen to “dangerous levels” of more than 5% in 51 cities, and even higher in 16 cities that will receive “enhanced deployment” of troops. Among these is the capital Islamabad, as well as Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur and Gujranwala in Punjab; Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh; Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera, Charsadda and Swabi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Quetta in Balochistan; and Muzaffarabad in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Doctors across the country hailed the move, with some even going so far as demanding arrests for those who fail to follow the prescribed measures. “Presently, we need strict enforcement of the precautionary measures as the hospitals, it seems, would soon be overwhelmed by patients,” said Dr. Javid Ali of the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, who called the army deployment the “right step at the right time.”

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Hard to understand why not much more of this is happening globally.

Germany’s New Lockdown Law Sparks Constitutional Court Complaints (RT)

Germany’s new law granting Berlin sweeping powers when it comes to imposing harsh Covid-19 restrictions has sparked a wave of indignation and prompted dozens of complaints filed with the Constitutional Court. A total of 65 complaints have been filed against the so-called Infection Protection Act to date, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe confirmed to the German media. A court spokesman also admitted that the real number of lawsuits could be higher since new ones are filed “all the time” and the court is not always able to process them in time. Some complainants also filed urgent motions asking the court to suspend the law, which came into force just two days ago, until a final decision is made.

Some suits were directed against the entire package of measures envisaged by the new law, while others focused on specific restrictions like the nighttime curfew that many Germans apparently see as unconstitutional. Most claims were reportedly filed by individual complainants, including several German MPs. One of them is Florian Post, a member of the Social Democratic Party – a junior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government coalition. Others include a Green MP, Canan Bayram, and a member of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, whose identity was not revealed. The Liberal Free Democrats also lodged a complaint against the law with the Constitutional Court on Monday afternoon.

The usually business-friendly party argued that the measures imposed by the law, such as the curfew and “other encroachments on fundamental rights,” are disproportionate and sometimes ineffective. It is not known when the court will pass its judgement on the issue. It is also unclear whether the claimants should first reach out to some lower-ranking courts before filing the lawsuits directly in Karlsruhe. The controversial law imposes binding restrictions on all German states and even individual communities as soon as they exceed a seven-day average infection rate of 100 cases per 100,000 people. The rules once again put severe limitations on private and public gatherings, as well as demanding that Germans stay home between 10pm and 5am [..]

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“It seems that governments want to convince us that they have saved the world when the reality is that the misguided lockdowns were the cause of the economic debacle and lifting them is the main cause of the recovery.”

The United States: Hardly A Recovery (Lacalle)

There is an overly optimistic consensus view about the speed and strength of the United States’ recovery that is contradicted by facts. It is true that the United States recovery is stronger than the European or Japanese one, but the macrodata shows that the euphoric messages about aggregate GDP growth are wildly exaggerated. Of course GDP is going to rise fast, with estimates of 6 percent for 2021. It would be alarming if it did not after a massive chain of stimuli of more than 12 percent of GDP in fiscal spending and $7 trillion in Federal Reserve balance sheet expansion. This is a combined stimulus that is almost three times larger than the 2008 crisis one, according to McKinsey. The question is, What is the quality of this recovery?

The answer is: extremely poor. The United States real growth excluding the increase in debt will continue to be exceedingly small. No one can talk about a strong recovery when industry capacity utilization is at 74 percent, massively below the level of 80 percent at which it was before the pandemic. Furthermore, labor force participation rate stands at 61.5 percent, significantly below the precovid level and stalling after bouncing to 62 percent in September. Unemployment may be at 6 percent, but it is still almost twice as large as it was before the pandemic. Continuing jobless claims remain above 3.7 million in April. Weekly jobless claims remain above 500,000 and the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs—state and federal combined—for the week ending March 27 decreased by 1.2 million to 16.9 million.

These figures must be put in the context of the unprecedented spending spree and the monetary stimulus. Yes, the recovery is better than the eurozone’s thanks to a fast and efficient vaccination rollout and the dynamism of the United States business fabric, but the figures show that a relevant amount of the subsequent stimulus plans have simply perpetuated overcapacity, kept zombie firms that had financial issues before covid-19 alive, and bloated the government structural deficit and mandatory spending.

Would the United States economy have recovered as fast as it has without the deficit-spending stimulus plans? Maybe. I believe so because the entire recovery, both in markets and the economy, has been driven by the vaccine news and the process of inoculation. Most of the programs that have been implemented have had a small impact compared to the reopening of the hospitality sector and the vaccinations. The entire economic crisis came from the lockdowns and the virus and the entire recovery is the reopening and the vaccinations.

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“Only Trump, with 42% approval, and Gerald Ford, with 48%, scored lower.”

Biden Sees Majority Approval After 100 Days, But The Numbers Don’t Add Up (RT)

A majority of Americans approve of Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, and the president has been treated to glowing media coverage. But behind the poll numbers might be a different story. Biden’s first 100 days in office have been busy. A slew of executive orders did away with nearly all of Donald Trump’s policies as the Democratic president opened up the country’s Mexican border, launched a bid for gun control and banned key fossil fuel projects. The coronavirus vaccine rollout continues at home, while internationally, Biden has hit Russia with economic sanctions and strained relations with Turkey by recognizing the Armenian genocide.

A majority of Americans agree with his progress thus far, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll published on Sunday, which found that 52% of adults say they approve of the job Biden is doing, while 42% disapprove, a near reversal of Trump’s ratings after his first 100 days. Biden scored highly – 63% – on his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and averagely – 52% – on his management of the US economy. However, 53% of respondents disapproved of his performance on immigration, as unprecedented numbers of illegal immigrants pour across the Mexican border. With the public apparently onside, some mainstream media outlets have taken to celebration. AP, for example, cheered on his efforts to “wrestle the country away from the legacy and agitations of President Donald Trump,” and praised his “unabashedly liberal” agenda.

Biden’s personality was celebrated too. “The temperature is lower. The drama is less. And the persona is fundamentally different,” AP wrote. Behind the media’s praise and the apparently positive poll figures, however, is a different story. Biden’s approval rating may be 10 points above Trump’s at this time in 2017, but it’s the third-lowest since Gallup began tracking approvals during the Harry S. Truman administration. Only Trump, with 42% approval, and Gerald Ford, with 48%, scored lower. [..] the poll oversampled Democrats by nine points. Some 33% of respondents identified as Democrats, 24% as Republicans, and 35% as independents. The remainder were either unsure or identified with minor parties. Previous research has found that political independents generally favor Democrats by four points, so with all of this taken into account, Biden’s true approval rating could be several points lower.

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Maybe the problem is that “entry-level pay” continues for many years in many fields.

Biden’s Stimulus Checks “Wreck Labor Pool” As People Get Paid To Stay Home (ZH)

There are new concerns that President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package is already harming the labor market recovery. While job openings and postings are increasing, there is an issue with the number of applications as labor participation currently stands at 61.4%, with an unemployment rate of 6.2%. People are not applying for jobs as they should be as they collect stimulus checks and enjoy a work-free lifestyle, all on the backs of taxpayers. There are many jobs available in manufacturing, trade and transportation, logistics, and the professional sector. But employers have difficulty sourcing workers. The latest comments from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City provide a chilling insight this month into the labor shortage developing at manufacturing firms across Denver, Oklahoma City, and Omaha:

“Stimulus and increased unemployment money are wrecking the labor pool. Lower-level employees are quitting to make just as much not working.” So, lower-level employees are making more money collecting stimulus checks and other handouts under the Biden administration. This was very similar when former President Trump dished out helicopter money during the early days of the pandemic. What this creates are more bottlenecks for the supply chain as labor becomes scarce. “It is very difficult to handle the increased business with supply chain issues across all materials and finding anyone who wants to work. The federal government has incentivized people to stay home and not be productive.”

Other employers report: “Unemployed workers have no incentive to return to work given the COVID bonus payments.” What this means is that entry-level pay will have to increase to get low-level workers off the couch. This will create more cost pressures for companies that will either be absorbed or pass onto the consumer. The Biden administration effectively destroys the labor market, resulting in significant repercussions for the real economy, such as a labor shortage that could stall the recovery.

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How can Joe avoid hurting his sposors?

Joe Biden Declares War on Tax Havens – in Europe, Too (Spiegel)

If you want to know why a company should have its headquarters in Ireland these days, the best place to ask is IDA Ireland, the government’s foreign direct investment agency based in Dublin. The Emerald Isle, their lobbyists rave, has a “great density of data centers.” It advertises the country’s large pool of young talent with above-average qualifications as well as international and innovative companies, ranging from Microsoft and Facebook to German corporations such as Allianz, Zalando and SAP. But when asked if perhaps the real attraction for investors is the extremely low corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent, the IDA declines to answer. For that, the agency says, it is best to contact Paschal Donohoe, the Irish finance minister and chair of the Eurogroup.

The man currently finds himself facing a problem that has become a concern for all of Europe. Since U.S. President Joe Biden presented his groundbreaking proposal for a global minimum tax on corporate profits, old rifts have ripped open again on the Continent. Whereas large member states such as Germany approve of the move, it would hit smaller EU members like Ireland, the Netherlands and Slovakia hard. For years, they have lured international corporations into their countries with the promise that they will be largely spared from the grasp of the domestic tax authorities. If the U.S. gets its way, that could be the end of it. Numerous EU countries would not only have to reckon with revenue losses in the billions, but also with the loss of corporate headquarters and thousands of jobs.

Countries like France or Italy, on the other hand, would feel vindicated. Out of anger with corporations like Amazon that have barely paid any taxes at all in Europe in recent years, they enacted their own digital taxes – and drew the ire of Donald Trump by doing so. The former U.S. president even threatened retaliatory tariffs on German cars, Italian cheese and French handbags. Now, the U.S. has performed a spectacular about-face – and raised difficult questions for the Europeans: How seriously must pledges from Brussels to fight tax evasion be taken? Would it just be the tax havens that have to reckon with losses or would they also be painful for large exporting countries like Germany? And, more importantly: Will the Europeans manage to find a common line with the U.S. in the tax negotiations that have been going on for years in the OECD club of industrialized nations?

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United States of Propaganda.

US Pledges $300mn To Fund Massive Global Anti-China Media Machine (Fowdy)

Chinese- and Russian-funded journalism is ‘disinformation,’ but when Washington spends millions on ‘independent’ news outlets and buying journalists to get favourable coverage of its policies, it’s called ‘spreading information.’ The US Senate last week passed a bumper anti-China bill titled the “Strategic Competition Act”. Backed by Chuck Schumer (Dem – New York) as one of his biggest priorities since becoming the Majority leader, the 270+ page document contains scores of recommendations and provisions on formalizing America’s “geopolitical competition” against Beijing, including in the fields of military, diplomacy, technology, trade and more. There’s little question it will be passed into law, having already cleared the Senate and with the anti-Chinese sentiment in Washington being routinely bipartisan.

The bill also notably pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in various capacities for media focused initiatives against China. This includes up to $300 million in an openly described effort to spread information on the “negative impact” of China’s $1 trillion-plus Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in participating countries, “anti-Chinese influence” programs, a scheme to “train journalists” with the goal of countering Beijing, and millions more in funding for Radio Free Asia to expand its coverage in the specified languages of Mandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan and Uighur. In short, it’s a mammoth propaganda push.

All the time, we hear so much about “Chinese/Russian propaganda,” “disinformation,” etc, and often its impact is depicted in highly threatening or sensational ways, yet rarely, if ever, is it reported how the west actively and openly engages in psychological warfare with the goal of changing politics and governments in targeted countries, all the while playing the perpetual victim. Here it is in the new US bill in black and white, as clear as crystal, yet few will balk or take notice at the explicitly ambitious effort to attempt to destabilize various regions of China, to promote unrest and, ideally, to “balkanize” the country. This, of course, is not new; it’s what America has always done.

[..] The US has a long history of such psychological warfare, both explicit and implicit. One of the most famous instances is what was revealed as Operation Mockingbird, where the CIA secretly infiltrated the mainstream media at home and abroad, collaborating with journalists to push US foreign-policy interests. Many journalists – including Pulitzer Prize winners – joined the CIA’s payroll, writing fake stories to disseminate the agency’s agitprop, and many were given falsified or fabricated information in support of the CIA’s mission. This was during the Cold War, but the program has never been officially discontinued, and why would it stop today in the wake of a new Cold War with China? The Strategic Competition bill clearly illustrates that Washington places primary importance on dominating the “global discourse” in accordance with its interests, and it is arguably very good at doing this through a multitude of methods.

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“US military leaders also want to maintain the ability to bomb Afghanistan and are eyeing repositioning forces in neighboring countries.”

US Deploying 650 Additional Troops to Afghanistan (Antiwar)

The US is deploying additional forces to Afghanistan over fears of Taliban attacks during the withdrawal process. Pentagon officials told CNN that the US is preparing to send about 650 troops to Afghanistan as part of the extra forces. The officials said the ground troops will mainly come from the US Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment and will be deployed with transport planes and aircraft that can provide air support such as AC-130 gunships. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved sending the Rangers last week along with the deployment of long-range B-52 bombers, two of which have already arrived in Afghanistan. He also ordered the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to stay in the Gulf region.

President Biden put US troops at risk of getting attacked by extending the May 1st deadline that was set by the US-Taliban peace deal. February 8th marked the first full year that no US troops died in combat in Afghanistan since the war started. Last week, the Taliban said it was “too early” to know if they will start attacking US and NATO forces after May 1st. Biden said he will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11th. On Sunday, Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said “local action” to prepare for the withdrawal has started and said the US will gradually hand over military bases to the Afghan government.

While Biden says he plans to leave, the US seems keen to maintain some sort of military presence in Afghanistan. It’s still not clear if contractors working for the Pentagon will leave with US combat troops. The US plans to continue supporting the Afghan military, which is almost entirely reliant on Pentagon contractors to maintain their equipment. US military leaders also want to maintain the ability to bomb Afghanistan and are eyeing repositioning forces in neighboring countries.

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“..the supposedly treated water still contains “dangerous levels of carbon-14,” a radioactive substance that has the “potential to damage human DNA.” The water is also known to contain radioactive tritium.”

Chinese Experts To Join Fukushima Wastewater Working Group (RT)

The Chinese foreign ministry has said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed to Beijing that it will be inviting its experts to join a working group on Japan’s disposal of nuclear waste into the ocean.
Speaking on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Beijing would continue to urge Japan to engage with the international community before dumping more than a million tons of nuclear wastewater from the defunct Fukushima power plant. “China will fully support the organization’s follow-up work, and Japan should earnestly meet the concerns of China and other stakeholders and the international community before launching the discharge of nuclear contaminated water,” Wang stated.


The spokesman said that the IAEA had confirmed to Beijing that it would be inviting Chinese experts to take part in a technical working group on the disposal of the supposedly treated wastewater. “China maintains close communication and coordination with the IAEA in this regard, and the agency is actively preparing for the establishment of related technical working groups,” he added. China and its neighbors have been highly critical of Tokyo after it was announced that wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant would be dumped into the ocean within a couple of years. The safety of the water has been questioned on many occasions despite years of treatment. Last year, Greenpeace reported that the wastewater from the plant was more dangerous than the Japanese government had suggested. The organization’s publication claims the supposedly treated water still contains “dangerous levels of carbon-14,” a radioactive substance that has the “potential to damage human DNA.” The water is also known to contain radioactive tritium.

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Apr 242021
 


John La Farge Girls Carrying a Canoe, Vaiala in Samoa 1891

 

India COVID Triple-Mutant May Be Much More Deadly, Resistant To Vaccines (ABI)
The West Does Not Have Any Moral High Ground Over China (OpIndia)
No Doctor, You’re Wrong (Denninger)
Big Pharma Employs Army Of Lobbyists To Block Generic Covid-19 Vaccines (IC)
Cuomo Blocks Release Of Covid Nursing Home Data Sent To Feds (NYP)
Putin Invites Zelensky To Moscow For Discussions On ‘Bilateral Relations’ (RT)
Pentagon Deploys More Forces to Afghanistan Over Fears of Taliban (Antiwar)
Biden’s Plan To Create Over 10 Million Well-Paying Jobs With His Clean Energy Initiative
Bitcoin Leads Massive Cryptocurrency Market Sell-off (RT)
Big Banks Charged Billions in Overdraft Fees During Pandemic (Pros.)
The Heroic Congressional Fight to Save the Rich (Taibbi)
Plato, Aristophanes and Aristotle on Money-Lust (Michael Hudson)
Anyone Still Wearing A Mask At This Point Is Probably Just Super Ugly (BBee)

 

 

 

 

“..two triple-mutant varieties..”, an “immune escape variant”.

India COVID Triple-Mutant May Be Much More Deadly, Resistant To Vaccines (ABI)

Scientists found two triple-mutant varieties in patient samples in four states: Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, and Chhattisgarh. Researchers in the country have dubbed it the “Bengal strain” and say it has the potential to be even more infectious than the double-mutant variant. This is because three COVID variants have merged to form a new, possibly deadlier variant. The Times of India spoke to Vinod Scaria, a researcher at the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in India, who said that the triple mutant was also an “immune escape variant” – a strain that helps the virus attach to human cells and hide from the immune system.


He added that it could have evolved from the double-mutant variant – which experts say is likely behind the recent surge of COVID in the country . Sreedhar Chinnaswamy, a researcher from the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in India, told the Times of India that the variant also carried the E484K mutation, a characteristic found in both the South African and Brazilian variants. “In other words, you may not be safe from this variant even if you were previously infected by another strain, or even if you have been vaccinated,” said Chinnaswamy.

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View from India. Talk about condescending language:

Merkel said, “Of course, we have only allowed India to become such a large pharmaceutical producer in the first place, also from the European side, in the expectation that this should then also be complied with.”

The West Does Not Have Any Moral High Ground Over China (OpIndia)

The United States of America has projected its geopolitical rivalry with China as a great conflict between good and evil, between liberty and tyranny. The USA and other western countries claim to care a great deal about human rights but quite clearly, they do not care enough about the human right to life. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that western emphasis on human rights is one humoungous farce. At a time when India is suffering a tragedy dealing with the pandemic, western countries have chosen to offer sermons and lectures instead of sympathy and support. German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued veiled threats on Thursday. Amidst the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, she said that there are concerns that India will not be able to meet pharmaceutical demands in her country and they will have to ‘rethink’ their policies should that be the case.

Merkel said, “Of course, we have only allowed India to become such a large pharmaceutical producer in the first place, also from the European side, in the expectation that this should then also be complied with. If that is not the case now, we will have to rethink.” But Germany is not the only country that has been making such insensitive remarks. The USA has enforced an embargo on the export of raw materials essential for the production of Covid-19 vaccines, which jeopardised vaccine production in India. CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII), Adar Poonawalla, appealed to the Biden administration to lift the embargo but to no effect. When asked about the matter, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, “We have a special responsibility to the American people.”

“It’s, of course, not only in our interest to see Americans vaccinated, it’s in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated,” he said. “Number one, we have a special responsibility to the American people. Number two, the American people, this country has been hit harder than any other country around the world — more than 550,000 deaths, tens of millions of infections in this country alone,” Price added. The western media, which demonises India over its nationalist concerns, does not see any dichotomy with the approach by the USA and has been remained conspicuously silent over the matter. US concerns are understandable but it is starkly at odds with what it preaches to other countries.

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Fun with numbers:

“..your base survival rate was not 98% since that presumes you got infected — it was in fact 99.8% like you would survive the year without dying from Covid to start with!”

No Doctor, You’re Wrong (Denninger)

In addition people love to mix relative and absolute risk to deceive people on a regular basis and in every case doing so is a fraud. This was repeatedly done in “selling” the vaccines to the public. You must compare like with like or you’re lying. For example if the risk of death if you do not get the vaccine is 1/50 (2%) and the risk if you DO get the vaccine is 1/500 (0.2%) then while it is true that your risk of dying has been cut by 90% you only had a 2% risk of dying if infected in the first place. That is, you were going to survive 98% of the time; now you will survive 99.8%. That sounds like a fabulous improvement except if only 10% of the people got the infection in a year with no vaccine to start with then your base survival rate was not 98% since that presumes you got infected — it was in fact 99.8% like you would survive the year without dying from Covid to start with!

That is there’s only an 0.2% risk of death that can possibly be improved upon! Thus you must now rate the risk of the vaccine doing evil things to you against the 2/1,000 chance of death, not 2/100 since if you get stabbed that risk is certain where infection is not. But for those who are not morbid isn’t 2/100 — in fact the absolute risk if you are infected and not particularly morbid is, by the CDC, 1/50,000. This is confirmed by the NY Coroner data, which when back-computed winds up in approximately the same place; for statistical purposes they are the same, and that is good because independent confirmation from actual “boots on the ground” in confirmation of a theoretical framework provides assurance that the “best guess” is likely close to reality. Thus I am quite comfortable with that number.

The CDC also says that about 10% of the population (~33 million, approximately) people got Covid-19 in that they “tested positive” for it. I do not believe that number because it is based on PCR testing with extremely high Ct values and we know that results in lots of false positives. But assuming it is correct this means that the actual risk across one year is not 1/50,000 it is 1/500,000 since you’re only 10% likely to have gotten the infection. Again, this is by the CDC data, not my data. Note that if 2/3rds of those “positives” are false then the risk of death for a non-morbid person over a year would be approximately 1/1,250,000. These are vanishingly small odds. The CDC and so-called “experts” are all started out saying that the blood clot risk was 1-in-1,000,000.

Well, that appears to have been blatantly false too as the data on the mRNA shots says it’s far more-likely than that and that it is not confined to the J&J vaccine. As more data comes in it appears that risk is more like 1in 100,000-250,000. That’s a huge change and until it stabilizes, which will take several more months, I have no confidence in any of these figures whatsoever. I remind you that the difference between the jab and infection is that the risk from the jab is assured if you take it while the risk from infection it only occurs if you get the virus, which by the CDC again was 10% over the first year and will fall each year thereafter with successive reductions in those who are not immune either by vaccination or infection.

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“Currently, only 1 percent of coronavirus vaccines are going to low-income countries..”

Big Pharma Employs Army Of Lobbyists To Block Generic Covid-19 Vaccines (IC)

The pharmaceutical industry is pouring resources into the growing political fight over generic coronavirus vaccines.Newly filed disclosure forms from the first quarter of 2021 show that over 100 lobbyists have been mobilized to contact lawmakers and members of the Biden administration, urging them to oppose a proposed temporary waiver on intellectual property rights by the World Trade Organization that would allow generic vaccines to be produced globally. Pharmaceutical lobbyists working against the proposal include Mike McKay, a key fundraiser for House Democrats, now working on retainer for Pfizer, as well as several former staff members to the U.S. Office of Trade Representative, which oversees negotiations with the WTO.

Several trade groups funded by pharmaceutical firms have also focused closely on defeating the generic proposal, new disclosures show. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the International Intellectual Property Alliance, which all receive drug company money, have dispatched dozens of lobbyists to oppose the initiative.The push has been followed by a number of influential voices taking the side of the drug lobby. Last week, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., released a letter demanding that the administration “oppose any and all efforts aimed at waiving intellectual property rights.” Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chair, has similarly criticized the proposal, echoing many of the arguments of the drug industry.

Currently, only 1 percent of coronavirus vaccines are going to low-income countries, and projections show much of the world’s population may not be vaccinated until 2023 or 2024. In response, a coalition of countries, led by India and South Africa, have petitioned the WTO to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights on coronavirus-related medical products so that generic vaccines can be rapidly manufactured. The waiver requests a suspension of IP enforcement under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, treaty. If granted, local pharmaceutical plants could be granted compulsory licenses to produce coronavirus vaccines without the threat of being sued by the license holder.

Read more …

Just get rid of the man.

Cuomo Blocks Release Of Covid Nursing Home Data Sent To Feds (NYP)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office won’t reveal what it told the Justice Department about COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes, rejecting Freedom of Information requests from The Post and other media outlets — claiming in part that doing so would be an “invasion of personal privacy.” “Please be advised that portions of the records that respond to your request are exempt from disclosure pursuant to Public Officers Law § 87(2)(b) because, if disclosed, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,’” Jaclyn Clemmer, the governor’s record access officer, wrote in a denial response to The Post. The Associated Press received a similar denial letter.

Clemmer didn’t explain whose privacy might be invaded, or how. The Post did not request any personal ID information of nursing home residents. She also said the records sought were exempt from public disclosure because the release would “interfere with law enforcement investigations.” The Justice Department last year requested that New York and other states turn over data regarding COVID-19 infections and deaths inside nursing homes. The US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn and the state Assembly Judiciary Committee are also investigating claims that the Cuomo administration intentionally undercounted or lied about the number of nursing home residents killed by COVID.

Federal prosecutors initiated a probe after The Post exclusively revealed in February that Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, privately admitted to state Democratic lawmakers that his administration withheld the total nursing home death toll from COVID-19 from them due to a pending federal probe. Just weeks before, state Attorney General Letitia James issued a stinging report that found Cuomo officials undercounted the COVID-linked deaths of New York’s nursing home residents by 50 percent. Within hours, a defensive state Health Department Commissioner Howard Zucker added thousands to the death toll.

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Troops gone, Zelensky dismantled, Putin winning.

Putin Invites Zelensky To Moscow For Discussions On ‘Bilateral Relations’ (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has revealed that he is ready to welcome his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky “at any convenient time in Moscow.” The suggestion comes after Kiev offered to meet in war-torn Donbass. Speaking before talks with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday, Putin said Zelensky should first discuss the problems of Donbass with the heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics before speaking with representatives of third countries. He included Russia in this category. “And if we are talking about the development of bilateral relations, then, please, we will receive the president of Ukraine in Moscow at any time convenient for him,” Putin said. “If President Zelensky wants to start restoring relations, Russia will only welcome it.”

The Russian leader’s statement comes after Zelensky suggested a summit “anywhere in the Ukrainian Donbass where the war is going on,” earlier this week. “Ukraine and Russia, despite their shared past, look to the future in different ways. We are us. You are you,” Zelensky said. “But this is not necessarily a problem; it is an opportunity. At the very least, an opportunity, before it is too late, to stop the murderous mathematics of future war losses.” [..] the self-declared Donetsk (DNR) and Lugansk People’s Republics (LNR) – are unrecognized by both Russia and Ukraine. However, according to Kiev, they are under the control of the Kremlin, a charge Moscow denies. Following Zelensky’s invite to Putin, the heads of both the DNR and LNR invited the Ukrainian leader to meet and hold talks in Donbass, suggesting he deals directly with them instead.

“I urge you, Mr. Zelensky, not to invite the leaders of third countries to the line of contact, but rather to go there yourself for an honest and open conversation with us,” said Denis Pushilin, the leader in Donetsk.

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They will never leave.

Pentagon Deploys More Forces to Afghanistan Over Fears of Taliban (Antiwar)

The US is deploying additional forces to Afghanistan and the surrounding regions to aid in President Biden’s plan to withdraw all combat troops by September 11th. Since Biden broke the US-Taliban peace deal by extending the withdrawal deadline, attacks against US forces in Afghanistan could start up again after May 1st, the original pull-out deadline. The Pentagon said that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved the deployment of a number of B-52 bombers to Afghanistan, two of which already arrived. Austin also ordered the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to stay in the Gulf region. “It would be foolhardy and imprudent not to assume that there could be resistance and opposition from the Taliban,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday.


On Thursday, the Taliban said it’s “too early” to say if they will start attacking US and NATO forces after May 1st, although the group has warned of “consequences” for Biden’s failure to meet the withdrawal deadline. February 8th marked the first full year that no US troops died in combat in Afghanistan since the war started. President Biden’s decision to extend the withdrawal deadline does little but risk US casualties. President Biden said he wants all troops out of Afghanistan by September 11th, but questions remain over the presence of Pentagon contractors, and US military officials have made clear that they want to maintain the ability to bomb targets in the country.

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Cui bono?

Biden’s Plan To Create Over 10 Million Well-Paying Jobs With His Clean Energy Initiative

President Joe Biden’s proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan is working its way through Congress. Biden’s primary goals are to improve and rebuild the nation’s deteriorating highways, bridges, tunnels, hospitals, airports, water systems, electricity grids and other important structures, while also saving the environment and creating millions of new jobs in the green and clean energy space. Biden is calling for solar and wind industries to become the new leaders of the U.S. economy. A big part of his “Build Back Better” program entails developing a “modern, resilient climate infrastructure and clean energy future that will create millions of good-paying union jobs.”

According to Biden’s green energy jobs plan, there are already three million people in the United States presently employed in the clean energy economy. Wind turbine service technician is No. 1 on the list of the fastest-growing occupations, as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Solar panel installers are in third place. “But, that is only the beginning of what is possible if we harness all of our talent and creativity,” Biden’s plan reads. “If executed strategically, our response to climate change can create more than 10 million well-paying jobs in the United States that will grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class enjoyed by communities across the country, not just in cities along the coasts.”

[..] Here are some of the examples how it will be accomplished. “This target prioritizes American workers. Meeting the 2030 emissions target will create millions of good-paying, middle class, union jobs—line workers who will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines for a clean, modern, resilient grid; workers capping abandoned wells and reclaiming mines and stopping methane leaks; autoworkers building modern, efficient, electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure to support them; engineers and construction workers expanding carbon capture and green hydrogen to forge cleaner steel and cement; and farmers using cutting-edge tools to make American soil the next frontier of carbon innovation.”

“The U.S. can create good-paying jobs and cut emissions and energy costs for families by supporting efficiency upgrades and electrification in buildings through support for job-creating retrofit programs and sustainable affordable housing, wider use of heat pumps and induction stoves, and adoption of modern energy codes for new buildings. The U.S. will also invest in new technologies to reduce emissions associated with construction, including for high-performance electrified buildings.” While new jobs may be added, there are concerns over workers who may lose their livelihoods. CBS News reported, “The oil sector is still the largest employer in the energy field.” Before the pandemic, there were more than 600,000 workers employed in the oil industry. Natural gas, fracking and coal-related positions account for hundreds of thousands of jobs that could be in jeopardy.

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Taxation fears?

Bitcoin Leads Massive Cryptocurrency Market Sell-off (RT)

The cryptocurrency market fell sharply on Friday amid concerns over new taxes that could be unveiled by US President Joe Biden, and after one of Turkey’s largest crypto exchanges went bust. The most popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin, fell below its key psychological threshold of $50,000 on Friday morning. As of 07:05 GMT bitcoin was down nearly 10% percent to trade at around $48,800, according to CoinDesk data. The drop has stalled bitcoin’s enormous rally, and it’s currently heading for the biggest weekly drop since February. The slide also sees bitcoin losing its market dominance. According to the data from price-tracking website CoinGecko, the ratio of bitcoin’s value to the overall crypto market cap has fallen below 50%. Other top crypto assets also took a dive on Friday. Second-largest cryptocurrency ethereum faced similar losses to bitcoin and was trading at $2,215.


The sharp drop came less than 24 hours after the currency hit a new all-time high. Ripple’s XRP saw the biggest drop among the top 10 cryptocurrencies. The third-largest digital currency plunged almost 20%. The drops came hours after reports emerged that President Biden was planning to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. According to the plan, capital gains taxes may be nearly doubled for people earning more than $1 million, triggering concerns that it will affect gains from digital assets. Other bad news weighing on the crypto market happened earlier this week, when Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex abruptly halted its trading operations, while its CEO Faruk Fatih Ozer left the country. The company said that it needed five working days to resume operations, but hundreds of thousands of investors fear that their assets may be lost.

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What kind of society allows this?

Big Banks Charged Billions in Overdraft Fees During Pandemic (Pros.)

Last week, the country’s largest banks announced their quarterly earnings, crushing estimates and expectations nearly across the board. It marked another surprisingly profitable quarter in what’s become quite a run since the coronavirus hit the U.S. over a year ago. Banks, to the surprise of nobody, have been among the first American institutions to recover, and have done so dramatically. Millions of working people lag behind. One of the more unheralded profit centers that has driven that money train is the return of overdraft fees. In the last three months of 2020, 12 of the 15 largest American banks, all of them with consumer-facing banking operations, reaped huge revenue just from slapping overdraft fees on needy and vulnerable Americans during the very worst days of the pandemic.

JPMorgan Chase, for example, made a stunning $1.5 billion in revenue on overdraft alone in 2020, according to recent FDIC filings. During that same period, Bank of America made $1.1 billion in profits, and Wells Fargo made $1.3 billion. The final three months of 2020, when the pandemic was at its most widespread and deadliest, were also the year’s most profitable, with all three of those banks pulling down over $300 million just in overdraft fees. So while Americans suffered through the worst wave of our worst public-health crisis in 100 years, with unemployment sky-high and intermittently lapsed federal benefits, the country’s biggest banks were gouging the poorest Americans for billions of dollars in punitive fees.

“Banks could’ve capped overdraft fees for a certain number of months, or had no fees during the pandemic, but they didn’t want to give up a dollar of overdraft revenue in any formal way,” said Rebecca Borné, senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending. “So what we see now is a return to business as usual, where our largest banks each took over a billion dollars out of the checking accounts of people during one of the worst years in our history. It’s a gobsmacking amount of money.” Overdraft is essentially a forced high-cost payday loan. When a bank customer overdraws their account, they can still pay for whatever put them over the limit, but they are assessed an overdraft fee, typically around $35, for the privilege. That is often imposed on an overdrafted amount of money even much smaller than that, and can be repeated every day that an account remains overdrawn. The other option would be to deny transactions based on nonsufficient funds, but that wouldn’t make the bank any money.

This uniquely profitable part of the banking sector almost exclusively targets the very poor. According to a 2017 study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 5 percent of all accounts have over 20 overdrafts a year, which produce 63.3 percent of all overdraft fees paid by consumers. Another 4.2 percent of bank accounts have over ten overdrafts a year and make up more than 15 percent of fees paid by consumers. Overdraft is a particularly pernicious form of predatory financial activity, functionally more exploitative and expensive than what we call the “alternative” financial sector of payday loans and check-cashing stores. As University of California, Irvine professor Mehrsa Baradaran writes in her book How the Other Half Banks, “If you consider the fee as a payment the customer makes for the extension of credit for the overdrawn amount, a 2008 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) study showed that these fees carry an effective APR in excess of 3,500 percent!”

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“He did it for all the wrong reasons,” says David Sirota of The Daily Poster, “but it was the one progressive thing he ever did.”

The Heroic Congressional Fight to Save the Rich (Taibbi)

Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey, made an inspired plea recently. The Harvard man and Alpha Epsilon Pi brother is a member of the so-called “SALT caucus,” a group of congressfolk threatening to hold up Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill if it doesn’t include a full repeal of a Donald Trump-imposed $10,000 cap on deductions of state and local taxes. “It is high time that Congress reinstates the state and local tax deduction, so we can get more dollars back into the pockets of so many struggling families,” intoned Gottheimer, one of 32 members of the SALT caucus, which includes 8 Republicans. Pressure on Biden to repeal the SALT cap has been amping up, mainly from tri-state Democrats like Gottheimer, fellow New Jerseyan Bill Pascrell, and Tom Suozzi of New York.

“No SALT, no deal!” the trio power-tweeted a few weeks back. Just a few days ago, Gottheimer even came up with a new way to argue the plan, offering to pay for the repeal of the SALT cap by increasing audits. “There is a way to do this by going after what people owe already,” he said. The effort by the “SALT caucus” to hold a $2 trillion relief bill hostage in order to help what they’re calling “struggling families” in the “middle class” is just the latest development in a years-long saga revealing Congress at its phoniest and most shameless. This issue that “means so much to the American people,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is really a niche matter concerning a sliver of the most well-off Americans in a handful of blue states, who were made the target of a political prank of sorts by the Trump administration in 2017.

There are a lot of people who own homes in blue states, could use the deduction, probably don’t think of themselves as rich, and would balk at the idea that repealing the cap would be a luxury giveaway. The story has been framed in the press as more of an everyman issue, and the fact that most of the money at stake involves people at the very top of the curve has been obscured. The start of this story was classic Trump. Looking for ways to help pay for his own monster tax break at the end of 2017, the Donald decided to poke Democrats with a long stick, via the cap on the unlimited state and local tax deduction. “He did it for all the wrong reasons,” says David Sirota of The Daily Poster, “but it was the one progressive thing he ever did.”

Economist Stephen Moore, who advised Trump, called the cap “Death to Democrats.” On October 11th, 2017, Trump explained to an approving Sean Hannity that he, Trump, was just trying to help states with fiscal problems help themselves. Note the loving repetition here of the word, “borrowing”: “You know, you have some really well-run states that have very little borrowing. Some have no borrowing, very little borrowing. And it’s unfair that a state that is well-run is really subsidizing states that have been horribly mismanaged. I won’t use names, but we understand the names. But there are some states that have hundreds of millions and billions of dollars in borrowing.”

Read more …

Very long, but hey, from Michael Hudson!

Plato, Aristophanes and Aristotle on Money-Lust (Michael Hudson)

Delphi’s warning that lust for monetary silver (philarguria) was the only thing that could destroy Sparta was echoed by Plato, Socrates and other philosophers accusing wealth addiction of leading to greedy and hubristic behavior that impoverished society at large. Creditors were singled out for reducing debtors to bondage and taking their land. Near the outset of Plato’s Republic (1 at 331c-d, written c. 380 BC), Socrates (who was put to death nearly twenty years earlier, in 399) discusses the morality of repaying debts in circumstances where this would lead to anti-social consequences. Cephalus, a businessman living in the commercial Piraeus district, states the typical ethic that it is fair to pay back what one has borrowed.

Socrates asks if it would be just to return weapons to a man who has become a lunatic. If a madman is intent on murder, Socrates asks, will not returning his weapon to him enable him to commit unjust acts? In view of the likely adverse social consequences, paying back such a creditor would be the wrong thing to do. It all depends on what creditors will do with their returns, and how their actions affect society. Book 8 of the Republicelaborates upon this discussion, describing how wealth leads its owners to act in ways detrimental to society.

In contrast to 20th-century price theory assuming diminishing enjoyment or “marginal utility” for each additional unit of a specific consumer good, Greek philosophy saw monetary wealth as being insatiable, becoming more addictive and compulsive. In Aristophanes’ last play, Ploutos(written in 388), the character Karion observes that one may become over-satiated with food – bread, sweets, cakes, figs and barley – but no one ever has enough wealth. His friend Chremelos (the root of whose name is chrema, exchange value and hence money-wealth) observes:

Give a man a sum of thirteen talents,

and all the more he hungers for sixteen.

Give him sixteen, and he must needs have forty,

or life’s not worth living, so he says. (lines 189- 93)

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“.. if you’re still wearing a mask at this point, let’s be honest: you probably have a very homely face,” said Dr. Vance Ryder, a very handsome doctor not wearing a mask. ”

Anyone Still Wearing A Mask At This Point Is Probably Just Super Ugly (BBee)

A new study found that anyone still wearing a mask at this point is probably just super ugly. The study looked at thousands of Americans still wearing masks and thousands who have long since thrown away all their masks. The findings were conclusive: the vast majority of people who still choose to wear a mask everywhere they go were much uglier than those who are currently blessing the world by letting everyone see their beautiful faces. “Look, the vaccine is out there, numbers are way down, your risk of dying is very, very low — if you’re still wearing a mask at this point, let’s be honest: you probably have a very homely face,” said Dr. Vance Ryder, a very handsome doctor not wearing a mask.


“You might have what we call a ‘face for radio’ in the business, if you know what I’m saying.” “Like, let’s just be honest here. We’re not gonna judge you. If you want to keep wearing the mask because you have a sad, no-good, loser face, fine. No one is going to stop you. Just don’t keep pushing for mask mandates for those who have incredibly good-looking faces.” The study also found that those who no longer wear a mask are tremendous, beautiful, “maybe the best-looking people of all time.”

Read more …

 

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Plagiarism

 


Leonardo 1489


Mars 2021

 

 

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Apr 172021
 


Edvard Munch Spring 1889

 

The Eruption of the Refugee Crisis and the Push for Vaccine Passports (MPN)
And Now Proof: Covid Vaccines Are More Dangerous Than Covid (Denninger)
Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Lockdowns Were A “Huge Mistake” (ET)
De-escalate Before Ukraine Conflict Turns Into Nuclear Holocaust- Gabbard (RT)
How Putin’s “Saber-Rattling” Forced A Biden Summit (ZH)
Russia Blocking Of Black Sea Would Be ‘Unjustified’ – NATO (Y!)
Biden Isn’t Ending The Afghanistan War, He’s Privatizing It (GZ)
Journalists Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Embrace a New One (Greenwald)
Liz Cheney Was Top Peddler Of Debunked ‘Russian Bounties’ Story (ZH)
Rachel Maddow is Bill O’Reilly (Taibbi)
US Corporate Media Is Guilty Of The Exact Same “Interference” As Russia (Tracey)
Joe Biden’s Demonic Phase (Jim Kunstler)
Hunter Biden on Burisma, Don Jr., and Cooking Crack (DB)
Govt’s Won’t Let Bitcoin Take On State-issued Currencies – Jim Rogers (Kitco)
The Echoes Of China’s Financial Crisis Are Being Heard (SMH)

 

 

 

 


A sailboat shielded by clouds, Chios Island, Greece. @avgoustidisermis

 

 

“..the architects of the biosecurity state..”

The Eruption of the Refugee Crisis and the Push for Vaccine Passports (MPN)

The controversy erupted on Twitter even as the 32,000-foot-high plume of smoke from Saint Vincent’s La Soufrière volcano was still rising in the sky. The firestorm on American social media platforms over reports that only those vaccinated against COVID-19 would be allowed to evacuate the eastern Caribbean island sheds light on the architects of the biosecurity state who have descended on Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) to explore the limits of mandatory public health protocols in the midst of a natural disaster now projected to “last months.” Global organizations, NGOs, and members of the scientific community are coordinating emergency response efforts in Saint Vincent. Power outages, no clean water, and continued volcanic eruptions have rendered parts of the island virtually uninhabitable, plunging Vincentians who have managed to escape into a condition of quasi-statelessness where notions of human rights and civil liberties become malleable.

“Refugees are in a position of complete vulnerability,” says Dr. Diego Garcia Ricci, from the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, speaking to MintPress. The constitutional law professor and data privacy expert addressed some of the issues surrounding the plight of refugees as biometric data like retinal scans, fingerprinting and even gender, become a pillar of identity documentation and incipient travel requirements in the wake of the pandemic. “While biometrics can be useful for identification purposes, mistakes do happen,” Garcia Ricci warns. Most at risk from these mistakes, abuse and racial profiling arising out of biometric digital identity systems are those whose need for the ‘state’ is made indispensable by virtue of being rendered stateless. Free agents with no agency are prime targets for global entities like the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which claims to speak for close to 80 million forcibly displaced people.

Vincentians who are unable or refuse to leave the island are likely to be reclassified as “internally displaced persons” or IDPs, another kind of refugee as defined by the UNHCR. Such classifications are part of a vast structure of laws and guidelines enshrined in the archives of supranational state entities like the European Commission and the United Nations, based on the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which establishes international rules governing the treatment and rights of refugees, whose numbers have nearly doubled since 2012, ballooning from 45.2 million “displaced” to 79.5 million as of the last count.

Read more …

“In healthy adults and especially healthy children they should be prohibited outright as they are, on the math, more dangerous than the virus.”

And Now Proof: Covid Vaccines Are More Dangerous Than Covid (Denninger)

I suspected the data would be forthcoming showing this given the VAERS reports and now we have it:

I Using an electro nic health records network we estimated the absolute incidence of cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) in the two weeks following COVID-19 diagnosis (N=513,284), or influenza (N=172,742), or receipt of the BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccines (N=489,871).


The incidence of portal vein thrombosis (PVT) was also assessed in these groups, as well as the baseline CVT incidence over a two-week period. The incidence of CVT after COVID-19 diagnosis was 39.0 per million people (95% CI, 25.2–60.2). This was higher than the CVT incidence after influenza (0.0 per million people, 95% CI 0.0 – 22.2, adjusted RR=6.73, P=.003) or after receiving BNT162b2 or RNA-1273 vaccine (4.1 per million people, 95% CI 1.1 – 14.9, adjusted RR=6.36, P<.001).

Wait a second…. you said the vaccines are more dangerous yet the data says that Covid-19 is ten times as dangerous as the vaccine for the same condition. So how can the title of this article be correct? Simple: For every reported infection somewhere around ten are not reported. Either they’re completely asymptomatic (about 30%) or mild enough that the person in question does not identify it as potentially Covid-19 and thus does not get tested. Yet both of the latter confer immunity just as does a symptomatic case. Further, you’re not guaranteed to get the disease. You are guaranteed to take the risk if you get the shot. Therefore we must adjust for the risk of contracting the disease which is not certain; you may have already had it and not know it and, in addition, you may have cross-reactive immunity.

Therefore the shot is close to or even more-dangerous than the disease. The baseline for approval of any therapy is that it must be much less dangerous than the disease itself. When it comes to vaccines the usual expectation is that it should 100x or more safer to get the shot than the disease, simply on the basis that you are not guaranteed to get the disease irrespective of how bad it is. If the disease is particularly lethal either generally or to you then a risk that is material for the vaccine is acceptable. What’s even worse is that this risk is basically identically in both mRNA and viral-vector (e.g. J&J) formulations; they both cause the same result in the same percentage of recipients, yet the FDA is still allowing the mRNA vaccines to be administered!

Covid-19, in non-morbid (young, but not exclusively so) people, only kills about 1/50,000 times — so if the shot gets you 1/250,000 times it’s a bad risk since a huge percentage of infections are not medically known as they are clinically significant and you are not guaranteed to be infected at all since you may have already had it and not known it or be resistant due to a previous infection with some other coronavirus and thus not at risk of developing clinical disease. These shots are not approvable on the math for other than materially-morbid individuals. In healthy adults and especially healthy children they should be prohibited outright as they are, on the math, more dangerous than the virus.

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“When you have people too scared to go to the emergency room when they’re literally having a heart attack, that didn’t happen in a vacuum..”

Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Lockdowns Were A “Huge Mistake” (ET)

Standing behind the desk in his office in Tallahassee, DeSantis leafed through a folder of praise he’s received from around the nation and across the globe. Hanging on the walls around the relatively small space was a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as well as the uniform the governor wore as the captain of the Yale baseball team. When asked why he chose Lincoln, DeSantis said the president is the best example of a leader who had to make difficult decisions in a time of crisis. When asked why some of the leaders today have continued with lockdowns even with ample evidence of their ineffectiveness, the governor theorized that the people involved have committed too much to the narrative and have made it impossible to change course.

“You have a situation where if you’re in this field, the pandemic, that’s something that you kind of prepare for and you’re ready for. And a lot of these people muffed it,” he said. “When push came to shove, they advocated policies that have not worked against the virus but have been very, very destructive. They are never going to admit they were wrong about anything, unfortunately.” Elected leaders aren’t the only ones to blame, according to the governor. The media and big tech companies played a major role in perpetuating fears about the virus while selectively censoring one side of the mitigation debate. DeSantis said the media and tech giants stood to benefit from the lockdown as people stayed home and consumed their products.

“It was all just to generate the most clicks that they could. And so that was always trying to do the stuff that would inspire the most fear,” DeSantis said. Two weeks after the interview, an undercover video recorded by Project Veritas showed a technical director at CNN talking about the boost the network received due to its pandemic coverage. “It’s fear. Fear really drives numbers,” CNN Technical Director Charlie Chester said. “Fear is the thing that keeps you tuned in.” The fear-mongering worked, DeSantis said, pointing to CDC statistics showing that 4 out of 10 American adults delayed or avoided getting urgent or routine medical treatment in June 2020. The agency’s report said that the pattern may have contributed to the excess deaths reported during that period, due to preventable illnesses and injuries going untreated.

Emergency room doctors had reported that fewer people were coming in with cardiac-related chest pains while more were coming in with late-stage appendicitis, something that is usually caught much earlier. The pandemic has also led to a sharp decrease in cancer screenings and detections. “When you have people too scared to go to the emergency room when they’re literally having a heart attack, that didn’t happen in a vacuum,” DeSantis said.

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“..the American people must decide if they’re willing to go to war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine. If not – the rhetoric must be toned down.”

De-escalate Before Ukraine Conflict Turns Into Nuclear Holocaust- Gabbard (RT)

Unless the world wants to see loved ones “burned alive in a nuclear holocaust,” politicians should cut out the “macho” act and begin to deescalate. That’s according to former US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a US Army veteran. Speaking to Tucker Carlson on Fox News on Thursday, Gabbard said the American people must decide if they’re willing to go to war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine. If not – the rhetoric must be toned down. “Such a war would come at a cost beyond anything we can really imagine,” she told Carlson. “This is something that will directly impact…every single one of your viewers.” “It is a war in which there are no winners,” she added.

The conflict in Donbass started in 2014, when two pro-Russia breakaway republics unilaterally declared independence from Kiev. While a peace deal was agreed upon later that year, both sides regularly report ceasefire violations. Much of the region is now split into the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. According to Kiev, both of the unrecognized states are controlled by Russia, which the Kremlin denies. Moscow says both Donetsk and Lugansk are part of Ukraine. Fears of a full-scale war have been growing in recent weeks. Media reports have revealed a build-up of both Russian manpower and equipment, particularly on the Crimean peninsula and by the eastern Ukrainian frontier. This came after news of increased shelling of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region by Kiev’s forces, and revelations that the Ukrainian Army was increasing its number of troops in the area.

Kiev is supported by the US, which has provided money, equipment and expertise. However, Washington has not given Ukraine the status of a full ally. According to Gabbard, it would be a disaster if a war kicks off in Ukraine. In particular, she highlighted the “thousands of nuclear weapons” Moscow and Washington have aimed at each other, warning that “hundreds of millions” could die and suffer if a war kicks off.

Tulsi Gabbard
https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1383022106779267076

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Uhhh, no. Putin is not eager to meet with Biden, Lavrov et al have made that plenty clear: such ameeting would only be used to make Putin look bad, or worse. And no, it’s not saber-rattling when you respond to 10s of 1000s gathering on your border.

How Putin’s “Saber-Rattling” Forced A Biden Summit (ZH)

[..] given Biden’s recent offer to sit down with Putin for a bilateral summit this summer, which is still on the table, it appears Ukraine’s leadership has been effectively sidelined. As one FT piece underscored this week, Putin’s troop build-up has succeeded in pressuring the Biden administration for a coveted summit to decide the future of Ukraine. “The summit format will also please the Kremlin by effectively cutting Kyiv out of any negotiations, and allow Putin to project the image of two global superpowers deciding the future fate of the conflict,” FT observed. Here’s more from FT… “If Vladimir Putin’s decision to deploy tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine’s border in the past few weeks was driven primarily by a desire to get the west’s attention, he did not have to wait too long for his reward.

Hours after his defense minister on Tuesday admitted Russia had mobilised two armies and three paratroop divisions to positions close to the conflict-wracked frontier, US President Joe Biden phoned the Kremlin with an offer of a bilateral summit: a long sought-after prize for Putin who craves a seat at the world’s highest negotiating table. …Those 50,000 extra soldiers, scores of tanks and other heavy weaponry spooked Kyiv and other European powers, and sparked a hurried response from Nato and the US amid fears over a potential outbreak of fighting between the two countries.” This wasn’t a stand-alone assessment, given also this week BBC came to a similar conclusion.

The BBC commentary underscored that the Russian troop build-up was never ultimately about some kind of hyped “invasion” of Ukraine – as Kiev officials have been shouting – but instead about bringing massive leverage to bear in forcing Biden’s hand. To the chagrin of the West’s Russia hawks, the BBC essentially pointed to a major diplomatic victory and ‘checkmate’ of sorts for the Russian side… The build-up has been impossible to ignore: thousands of Russian troops deployed towards Ukraine; US warships reportedly heading for the Black Sea and Russia’s foreign ministry warning them off “for their own good”. As the hostile rhetoric and military moves around Ukraine have intensified, Western politicians have begun fearing an open invasion and urging Russia’s Vladimir Putin to “de-escalate”.

Russia has refused: the defense ministry this week insisted its moves were in response to “threatening” Nato exercises in Europe. Then Mr Putin got a phone-call from the White House. And then, noted the BBC, Biden suggested a near-future face-to-face summit with Putin, which gives Russia the edge given it was the US side that first proposed it: “In Putin’s game of brinkmanship, Biden blinked first,” argues journalist Konstantin Eggert, after Joe Biden made his first call to the Kremlin and proposed meeting Mr Putin “in the coming months”. It’s just weeks after the US president agreed with an interviewer that Russia’s leader was “a killer”. President Biden’s new move is now a new topic of debate – disaster prevention or a mistaken concession – but in the run-up to a summit, the risk of major military action by Russia certainly fades.

Read more …

Well, the US stated again that it doesn’t recognize the present status of Crimea, maybe that’s enough to make it justified.

Russia Blocking Of Black Sea Would Be ‘Unjustified’ – NATO (Y!)

Russian plans to block parts of the Black Sea would be “unjustified”, NATO said Friday, calling on Moscow “to ensure free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, and allow freedom of navigation”. Russian state media have reported that Moscow intends to close parts of the Black Sea to foreign military and official ships for six months. Such a move could affect access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, which is connected to the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait, on the eastern tip of the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014. The move has triggered concerns in the United States and the European Union.

Russia’s “ongoing militarisation of Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov are further threats to Ukraine’s independence, and undermine the stability of the broader region,” a spokeswoman for NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. Blocking the Black Sea would “be an unjustified move, and part of a broader pattern of destabilising behaviour by Russia,” she added. NATO called on Russia to “de-escalate immediately, stop its pattern of provocations, and respect its international commitments”. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby noted that Russia was justifying plans to block the Black Sea until October on the grounds that it is preparing military exercises.

“Russia has a history of taking aggressive actions against Ukrainian vessels and impeding international maritime transit in the Black Sea, particularly near the Kerch Strait,” he told reporters. “It’s just the latest example of its ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilise Ukraine,” he added, reaffirming Washington’s “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. “We call on Russia to cease its harassment of vessels in the region, and reverse its build-up of forces along Ukraine’s border and occupied Ukraine.”

Read more …

“Over 18,000 Pentagon contractors remain in Afghanistan..”

Biden Isn’t Ending The Afghanistan War, He’s Privatizing It (GZ)

Over 18,000 Pentagon contractors remain in Afghanistan, while official troops number 2,500. Joe Biden will withdraw this smaller group of soldiers while leaving behind US Special Forces, mercenaries, and intelligence operatives — privatizing and downscaling the war, but not ending it.

On April 14, President Joe Biden announced that he would end the U.S.’s longest war and withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Over 6,000 NATO troops will also be withdrawn by that time. “War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” Biden said during his remarks from the White House Treaty Room, the same location from which President George W. Bush had announced the war was beginning in October 2001. “We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan and it’s time to end the forever war.”

Biden’s claim that he is ending the forever war is misleading. As The New York Times reported, the United States would remain after the formal departure of U.S. troops with a “shadowy combination of clandestine Special Operations Forces, Pentagon contractors and covert intelligence operatives.” Their mission will be to “find and attack the most dangerous Qaeda or Islamic state threats, current and former American officials said.” The Times further reported that the United States maintains a constellation of air bases in the Persian Gulf region as well as in Jordan, and a major air headquarters in Qatar, which could provide a launching pad for long-range bomber or armed drone missions into Afghanistan.

Matthew Hoh, a disabled combat veteran who resigned from the State Department in 2009 in protest of the war, stated that a genuine peace process in Afghanistan is “dependent upon foreign forces leaving Afghanistan.” Further, Hoh said that, “Regardless of whether the 3500 acknowledged U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the U.S. military will still be present in the form of thousands of special operations and CIA personnel in and around Afghanistan, through dozens of squadrons of manned attack aircraft and drones stationed on land bases and on aircraft carriers in the region, and by hundreds of cruise missiles on ships and submarines.”

Read more …

Clickbait.

Journalists Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Embrace a New One (Greenwald)

The story appeared — coincidentally or otherwise — just weeks after President Trump announced his plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2020. Pro-war members of Congress from both parties and liberal hawks in corporate media spent weeks weaponizing this story to accuse Trump of appeasing Putin by leaving Afghanistan and being too scared to punish the Kremlin. Cable outlets and the op-ed pages of The New York Times and Washington Post endlessly discussed the grave implications of this Russian treachery and debated which severe retaliation was needed. “This is as bad as it gets,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Then-candidate Joe Biden said Trump’s refusal to punish Russia and his casting doubt on the truth of the story was more proof that Trump’s “entire presidency has been a gift to Putin,” while Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) demanded that, in response, the U.S. put Russians and Afghans “in body bags.”

What was missing from this media orgy of indignation and militaristic demands for retaliation was an iota of questioning of whether the story was, in fact, true. All they had was an anonymous leak from “intelligence officials” — which The New York Times on Thursday admitted came from the CIA — but that was all they needed. That is because the vast majority of the corporate sector of the press lives under one overarching rule: When the CIA or related security state agencies tell American journalists to believe something, we obey unquestioningly, and as a result, whatever assertions are spread by these agencies, no matter how bereft of evidence or shielded by accountability-free anonymity, they instantly transform, in our government-worshipping worldview, into a proven fact — gospel — never to be questioned but only affirmed and then repeated and spread as far and wide as possible.

That has been the dynamic driving the relationship between the corporate press and the CIA for decades, throughout the Cold War and then into the post-9/11 War on Terror and invasion of Iraq. But it has become so much more extreme in the Trump era. As the CIA became one of the leading anti-Trump #Resistance factions — a key player in domestic politics to subvert the presidency of the 45th President regarded by media figures as a Hitler-type menace — the bond between the corporate press and the intelligence community deepened more than ever. It is not an exaggeration to call it a merger: so much so that a parade of former security state officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS and others was hired by these news outlets to deliver the news. The partnership was no longer clandestine but official, out in the open, and proud.

The first goal this story served was to weaponize it in the battle waged by pro-war House Democrats and their neocon GOP allies to stop Trump’s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan. How, they began demanding upon publication of the CIA/NYT story, can we possibly leave Afghanistan when the Russians are trying to kill our troops? Would that not be a reckless abdication to the Kremlin of this country that we own, and would withdrawal not be a reward to Putin after we learned he was engaged in such dastardly plotting to kill our sons and daughters?

Read more …

“Cheney was persistent in pushing the story, much to the frustration of colleagues and even allies on Capitol Hill..”

Liz Cheney Was Top Peddler Of Debunked ‘Russian Bounties’ Story (ZH)

As Democrats seized on a now-debunked New York Times report that the Kremlin placed bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan – blaming President Trump for deliberately downplaying the aggression to appease ‘Lord Putin’ (as the story goes) – Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) punched right, peddling the fabricated bounties story to any and all who would listen, according to The Federalist. Fast forward ten months later, and the Daily Beast reports that a senior administration finally admitted: “The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019 and perhaps earlier. “Low to moderate confidence” is another way of saying “unproven and potentially false, “in part because it relies on detainee reporting,” which is often unreliable.


Yet, Cheney pounced in an effort to undermine then-President Trump, while using the fake news to also lobby for a prolonged military presence in the region as the Trump administration was pulling troops out of Afghanistan. More via The Federalist: “Two days later, Politico, in an article titled, “Cheney takes on Trump,” wrote, “in her latest rebuke of Trump, Cheney openly questioned whether the president was aware of reports that the Russians offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops and demanded the administration take a more aggressive posture toward the Kremlin. Cheney was persistent in pushing the story, much to the frustration of colleagues and even allies on Capitol Hill as she continued an inner-party crusade against the president in an election year from her position as House conference chair.”

Read more …

The rest is behind a Substack paywall.

Rachel Maddow is Bill O’Reilly (Taibbi)

If you’d told me back in 2005, when I first met Rachel Maddow, that the lightning-quick, ultra-smooth broadcaster would someday supplant Bill O’Reilly as the #1 name in cable news, I wouldn’t have been surprised, at all. But I’d have been shocked if you told me she got to the top by being Bill O’Reilly. With Maddow in the lead role, MSNBC has become Fox, but somehow more craven, jingoistic, and shameless. If you don’t believe it, compare their narratives side by side, and see if you can spot a real difference between Bush-era Fox and Maddow’s MNSBC broadcasts from this past week. On February 16, 2001, six months before 9/11, O’Reilly said on Fox, “You know, I don’t take Saddam Hussein all that seriously anymore, as far as a world threat.” He added, “Maybe I’m wrong and naive here. Should we be very frightened of this guy?”

Within two years, O’Reilly reversed course. He launched himself into an incredible 16-year run as the #1-rated star on cable by playing Madame DeFarge for the Bush/Cheney War on Terror. His show became a nighty fireside chat in which citizens tuned in to fulminate over stories of Saddam’s boundless evil, denounce traitorous unbelievers, and engage in McCarthyite interrogations of the insufficiently patriotic. He moved the factual record by himself. On December 6, 2002, he told his audience: “I can’t, in good conscience, tell the American people that I know for sure that [Saddam] has smallpox or anthrax or he’s got nuclear or chemical and that he is ready to use that.” But two months later, on February 17, 2002, he was saying, “According to the U.N., he’s got anthrax, VX gas, ricin, and on and on.”

Two weeks after that, as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted, O’Reilly was saying things like, “This guy we know has anthrax and VX and all this stuff.” He furthermore announced that “Once the war against Saddam Hussein begins, we expect every American to support our military, and if you can’t do that, just shut up,” adding that “Americans, and indeed our allies, who actively work against our military once the war is underway will be considered enemies of the state by me.” By the runup to the invasion, O’Reilly was berating anyone who even tried to suggest the WMD case was not airtight, or had the temerity to suggest that Saddam Hussein was not the equal of Hitler. “Whoa, whoa. It’s not Hitler?” he snapped in one broadcast. “What’s the difference?”

Want to know how seven in ten Americans during the war came to believe that Saddam Hussein was somehow behind 9/11? In part, because people like O’Reilly regularly said things like, “Saddam Hussein… I believe is involved with this World Trade Center and Pentagon bombing,” and “I believe that you’re going to find out that money from Iraq flowed in and helped [9/11] happen.” O’Reilly eventually got around to putting his “spotlight” on anyone who didn’t publicly back the invasion effort. He even took on Pope John Paul II, saying, “And then the pope sits in Rome and says, gee, this is terrible, but does not throw his moral authority behind removing this dictator.”

Read more …

The media has more incentive.

US Corporate Media Is Guilty Of The Exact Same “Interference” As Russia (Tracey)

[..] there was nothing new about the suite of anti-Russia charges promulgated Thursday by the US federal government, and parroted as usual with maximum credulity across the US media ecosystem. The charges were again predicated on the idea that Russian “interference” and/or “influence” is an extremely foreboding test for the survival of US Democracy. Taking bold action, the Treasury Department levied sanctions against a bunch more Russians for their claimed nefarious behavior in carrying out this interference/influence — a fulfillment of Joe Biden’s oft-stated campaign pledge that under his watch, Russia would finally “pay a price” for allegedly engaging in such activities. Donald Trump, it was thought, had been appallingly lax in his resolve to confront this threat; now, a new sheriff is in town.

Leaving aside the question of whether it’s prudent to assume that Janet Yellen is suddenly in possession of a foolproof methodology for attributing the provenance of “cyber operations” to specific foreign individuals and nation-states, it’s worth emphasizing what exactly is being alleged in the statement. The Treasury Department document reads: “Outlets operated by Russian Intelligence Services focus on divisive issues in the United States, denigrate US political candidates, and disseminate false and misleading information.” Noting that these same characteristics could be just as easily applied to US corporate media outlets is so blindingly self-evident as to almost be redundant. Were there not “outlets” during the 2020 election that were “focused” on “denigrating” Donald Trump? Or for that matter, Joe Biden?

Do “divisive issues” not tend to be “focused on” by these same outlets as a basic precept of their core business model? Controversy = clicks/views, which equals revenue. Everyone knows this. Yet when scary Russian outlets are said to employ this same logic in their own content-production enterprises, it magically becomes dangerous enough to justify all manner of punitive government and corporate action. Including but not limited to: censorship purges, tighter regulation of online speech, and, as Biden announced Thursday, sanctions and expulsion of diplomats. “Disseminating false and misleading information”? The entire US media just got caught “disseminating” a fake story about Russians putting bounties on the heads of US soldiers in Afghanistan. If you’re truly concerned about the dissemination of “false and misleading information” having deleterious effects on the health of US political culture, your first target should be CNN.

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“..the US has absolutely nothing to gain from continuing to antagonize Russia..”

Joe Biden’s Demonic Phase (Jim Kunstler)

The lesson there is that the US has absolutely nothing to gain from continuing to antagonize Russia, and that the mentally weak Joe Biden is merely projecting the picture of a weakened and confused USA by keeping it up. Of course, a closer read might be that these hijinks are meant to distract from the more serious and consequential breakdown in relations between the US and China, currently engineered by the blundering team of Sec’y of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who went to Alaska recently to tell the Chinese delegation that they were morally unworthy of conducting trade negotiations, thereby torpedoing the trade negotiations that they went to Alaska to conduct. Smooth move fellas.


Unlike Russia, with its eleven time zones, which actually does not want or need any more territory, China is surely making hegemonic moves all over the place, not just around Hong Kong and Taiwan but in Africa and South America, while it strives to build the world’s largest navy, exports gain-of-function viruses, replaces the US in space exploration, and excels at weaponizing computer science. China’s weaknesses are a lack of sufficient domestic oil supply and food, which its current moves aim to correct. It was on its way to turning the US into a raw materials and food-crop colony when Mr. Trump came along and tried to put a stop to that. And now Ol’ Joe has cancelled that action — after being on the receiving end of Chinese financial largesse in four years out-of-office. Nothing to see there, folks, says Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice, while in possession of Hunter Biden’s laptop, with its trove of incriminating memoranda.

Read more …

Glenn Greenwald: In this interview with @thedailybeast, this statement from Hunter Biden about his emails and laptop is a complete lie. No intelligence agency, let alone all of them, concluded it was a Russian operation, but you wouldn’t know that from the DB article:

Hunter Biden on Burisma, Don Jr., and Cooking Crack (DB)

Jong-Fast asks Biden when he realized that the former president and his son were fixated on him. “That was right around when I started to get sober and clean… It was only then did I realize the level of their obsession because long enough to look up from whatever drink or drug I was just pursuing at the moment. And it seemed like that every word out of the president’s mouth was some kind of demeaning or just horrible insult towards me,” he answers. “Do you think they did it because they wanted you to kill yourself?” Jong-Fast replies. “As a person in recovery, one of the things that I have truly tried to come to grips with is that the world actually does not revolve around me,” Biden says. “I mean, usually it doesn’t. But on this, I feel that it does,” Jong-Fast says.

“I don’t think that they thought that they would necessarily convince anyone not to vote for my dad because I’m an addict. I think there’s far, far too many people—I mean, everyone I know knows someone that they love—that suffer from addiction,” Biden says. “I think that they thought that they would be able to distract my dad enough that he wouldn’t be able to focus on the campaign… But it had the exact opposite effect… They obviously don’t know what it’s like to be a part of a family, at least this family.” Jong-Fast also asks Biden about the leaked emails that caused such a stir at the end of the campaign. He claims he had no idea what she’s talking about. The email from an executive at Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company, thanking Biden for “the opportunity to meet your father and spend some time with him”?

“I truly don’t know the origin of a lot of this stuff,” Biden replies. The email titled “expectations,” which involved details for how much he might get paid by China’s largest private energy company? “I literally don’t know what you’re even referring to. Is it from me?” Biden answers. “You know, I mean, there is a intelligence report from, from all of our intelligence agencies that has come to the conclusion that this was a Russian operation.”

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“This is a good time to be old. ”

Govt’s Won’t Let Bitcoin Take On State-issued Currencies – Jim Rogers (Kitco)

Money will become more and more digitized, according to Jim Rogers, investor, best-selling author, and co-founder of the Quantum Fund, but the question is whether or not non-government issued digital currencies will prevail. “If cryptocurrencies become successful, most governments will outlaw it, because they don’t want to lose their monopoly, every government in the world is working on computer money now, including the U.S. The Chinese are there already. I can’t imagine that the governments are going to say ok, this is our crypto money, or you can use their crypto money, that’s not the way governments work, historically,” Rogers told Michelle Makori, editor-in-chief of Kitco News.

Read more …

“Lai was charged, found guilty of corruption (and bigamy!) and was executed in January.”

The Echoes Of China’s Financial Crisis Are Being Heard (SMH)

In the late 1990s China experienced a massive bad debt crisis – there are estimates that more than half of its state-owned enterprises( SOEs) were insolvent in the mid-1990s – with the non-performing loans within the balance sheets of China’s four major banks thought to be between a quarter and a third of their total assets. The government reacted to the emergence of that destabilising mountain of bad debts by recapitalising the state-owned banks; carving out their non-performing loans and handing them over to four new asset management companies to manage them out of the system over time. Huarong was one of those asset managers, established to acquire and then manage the bad loans made by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

The Huarong predicament and the context of the swelling tide of SOE-related defaults highlight not just dangerously and system-threatening excessive leverage and poor allocation of capital within the heart of China’s economy but significant, indeed egregious, governance failures. Now the company set up to manage bad debts is itself apparently teetering on the verge of bankruptcy due to its own non-performing loans and will either be restructured or fail. While it is not a bank it is a substantial financial institution, with about $340 billion of assets and net assets of about $32 billion. Embarrassingly for the Chinese authorities, although it listed In Hong Kong in 2015, it is a state-controlled enterprise. The Ministry of Finance owns a majority of its shares.

The company got itself into trouble, it seems, by expanding beyond its charter as a manager of banks’ bad debts into quasi banking activities itself; lending to property developers, setting up securities trading businesses and essentially playing in the shadows of the system that the tightly-regulated banks have been forbidden to enter.It was able to do so because its former chairman, Lai Xiaomin, was by his own admission subjected to absolutely no oversight and was able to treat Huarong as his own plaything. When he was arrested in 2018 he admitted taking more than $350 million of “bribes” over the previous decade and was found to have about $50 million of cash stashed in an apartment he called “The Supermarket.” Lai was charged, found guilty of corruption (and bigamy!) and was executed in January.

Read more …

 

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Mandarinfish

 

 

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Apr 162021
 


Dirk de Herder Amstel Bridge, Amsterdam 1946

 

Biden Declares Russia Threat ‘National Emergency’ (Fox)
Kremlin Pledges To Respond In Kind To Any ‘Illegal’ New US Sanctions (R.)
The West’s Sole Prerogative Is Russia Has No Right To Self-Defense (Kovalik)
US Intel Walks Back Claim Russians Put Bounties on American Troops (DB)
Update: Master List Of Official Russia Claims That Proved To Be Bogus (Taibbi)
SecDef Austin Hints at Continued US Military Involvement in Afghanistan (AW)
The Role of Reserve Currencies (Michael Pettis)
The Middle Class Has Finally Been Suckered into the Casino (CHS)
Arts Venue Closures Likely After Long Delay in Federal Grant Program (Dayen)
E-Euro Starts To Take Shape (Dolan)
Twitter Suspends Project Veritas’ James O’keefe After Undercover Scoops (RT)
China’s Economy Grows By A Record 18.3% In Q1; It’s Not Enough (ZH)
Just 3% of World’s Ecosystems Remain Intact (G.)

 

 

Another one of those days where there’s just too much news. So I split it up in this Debt Rattle and this Covid Rattle published before.

Note: I could have called this a Russia Rattle, the US provocations vs Moscow reign supreme. In that vein, it is remarkable (if anything still is at all) that at the exact same moment the “Russian bounties on American soldiers’ lives” narrative is fully debunked, it still serves as the main driver behind the new sanctions on Russia. Facts are just inconvenient details by now, it’s the story that counts.

 

 

Biden court packing

 

 

OPCW

 

 

“Putin So Upset Over Biden’s Killer Comments He Moved 28,222 Russian Troops To Ukraine Border..”

The only thing the Russia sanctions have accomplished is they made Russia stronger, self-sufficient.

Biden Declares Russia Threat ‘National Emergency’ (Fox)

President Biden on Thursday signed an executive order declaring a “national emergency” over the threat from Russia, as his administration slapped new sanctions on the country. The U.S. Department of State said it is expelling 10 officials from Russia’s bilateral mission. “Today, we announced actions to hold the Russian Government to account for the SolarWinds intrusion, reports of bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and attempts to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. The White House also released a letter to Congress stating that the president has issued “an Executive Order declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States posed by specified harmful foreign activities of the Government of the Russian Federation.”

The letter said that Russia had aimed to “undermine the conduct of free and fair democratic elections,” engaged in “malicious cyber-enabled activities,” targeted journalists and dissenters outside of its borders, and violated international law. This, Biden said in the letter, constitutes “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.” Blinken’s statement went into more detail, citing not only the SolarWinds hack that compromised many agencies in the federal government but also the poisoning of top Putin political rival Alexei Navalny. “We remain concerned about Navalny’s health and treatment in prison, and call for his unconditional release,” Blinken said.


Navalny is currently in the custody of the Russian government and reported not to be well. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki previously said that “[t]he Russian government is responsible for his health and well-being.” Blinken also emphasized Thursday, however, “the United States will also seek opportunities for cooperation with Russia, with the goal of building a more stable and predictable relationship consistent with U.S. interests.” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to the Russian state-run media organization TASS, said “[w]e condemn any pursuit of sanctions, we consider them illegal. In any case, the principle of reciprocity in this matter is valid; reciprocity in a way that best serves our interests.”

Read more …

Putin called for the summit first, just not one in person. That Biden did it, is also just a narrative. He calls Putin a killer and declares more sanctions, and only then says: let’s talk. Not going to happen now.

Kremlin Pledges To Respond In Kind To Any ‘Illegal’ New US Sanctions (R.)

The Kremlin said on Thursday it would respond in kind to any new “illegal” new U.S. sanctions on Russia and warned any new measures would reduce the chances of a summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin taking place. People familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday that the United States may announce sanctions on Russia as soon as Thursday for alleged interference in U.S. elections and malicious cyber activity, targeting several individuals and entities. The Kremlin has denied U.S. allegations that Russia tried to meddle in the 2020 U.S. presidential election or that it was behind a cybersecurity breach affecting software made by SolarWinds Corp.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would wait to see what happened on the sanctions front before commenting in detail. But he said the Kremlin’s stance on sanctions and its response to them remained unchanged. “We condemn any intentions to impose sanctions, consider them illegal, and in any case the principle of reciprocity operates in this area,” said Peskov. “Reciprocity so that our own interests are ensured in the best possible way.” Russia did not want relations with Washington to be a case of “one step forward and two steps back,” he added. Biden, in a phone call on Tuesday, proposed a summit with Putin to tackle a raft of disputes and told Moscow to reduce tensions over Ukraine triggered by a Russian military build-up.


The Kremlin has so far responded coolly to the summit idea making clear it will be contingent upon U.S. behavior towards Russia. Peskov said on Thursday that any new U.S. sanctions would not increase the chances of such a summit taking place, but said it would be up to the two presidents to decide on the matter. Putin’s participation in a Biden-backed climate summit remained under discussion, Peskov said. He said the situation around Ukraine remained tense with NATO and U.S. forces still deployed close to Russia’s own borders. It was therefore premature, he said, to talk about de-escalation, despite reports that the United States had canceled the deployment of two of its warships to the Black Sea.

Read more …

“I’ve learned to hate the Russians, all through my whole life; if another war comes, it’s them we must fight. To hate them and fear them, to run and to hide…”

The West’s Sole Prerogative Is Russia Has No Right To Self-Defense (Kovalik)

As tensions increase between Moscow and NATO over a buildup of troops near the Donbass, actually initiated by Ukraine, the West’s apparent position is that Russia has no right to self-defense. That’s been the case for decades. Having grown up in middle America during the waning years of the Cold War, I possessed a not-so-healthy fear of an imminent Soviet invasion or attack. Bob Dylan would capture this type of fear and hysteria in his 1964 song ‘With God on Our Side’, which he ripped off from the Clancy Brothers and Dominic Behan. Dylan’s updated version of ‘The Patriot Game’ declared: “I’ve learned to hate the Russians, all through my whole life; if another war comes, it’s them we must fight. To hate them and fear them, to run and to hide…”

It is quite incredible to me that, nearly 60 years later, with the USSR itself having fallen in the meantime, these words still ring true in the West today. However, the truth is, as I came to find out later in life, it is the Russians who have had much more to fear from us than we have from them. And it is this understanding and indeed empathy for Russia which motivates me now to wish my country would stop its aggressive moves towards that country before it is too late; before we find ourselves involved in another great war in Europe. From the point of view of Russia, it is they who have been under constant threat from the West, certainly from the time of the Napoleonic Wars to the present. It is France which invaded Russia in 1812, with the result being the loss of about 200,000 Russian lives.

The Russians were able to survive and emerge victorious only by burning down three quarters of Moscow to the ground, leaving the French stranded and unable to supply themselves. In 1941, Soviet Russia, abandoned by the UK and the US to its own fate, was invaded by Nazi Germany and laid siege to. Ultimately, the Soviets were able to turn Germany back in the great battle of Stalingrad, but the USSR would lose nearly 27 million lives by the end of the war. While 80 to 90 percent of the German casualties were suffered on the Eastern Front at the hands of the Soviets and Communist Partisans, Russia’s incredible sacrifice in WWII has largely been forgotten and even denied in the West, with the US and the UK now taking credit for the Allied victory.

While Ernest Hemingway remarked – quite rightly – that “Every human being who loves freedom owes to the Red Army more than he will be able to pay in a lifetime,” these words, and the sentiment behind them, have been forgotten in a haze of collective amnesia. Incredibly, Russian President Vladimir Putin was not even invited to the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz on Holocaust Memorial Day – this despite the fact that it was the a Russian regiment from Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod) which liberated the captives of the death camp.

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It served its purpose. And the MSM was all too happy to go along.

US Intel Walks Back Claim Russians Put Bounties on American Troops (DB)

It was a blockbuster story about Russia’s return to the imperial “Great Game” in Afghanistan. The Kremlin had spread money around the longtime central Asian battlefield for militants to kill remaining U.S. forces. It sparked a massive outcry from Democrats and their #resistance amplifiers about the treasonous Russian puppet in the White House whose admiration for Vladimir Putin had endangered American troops. But on Thursday, the Biden administration announced that U.S. intelligence only had “low to moderate” confidence in the story after all. Translated from the jargon of spyworld, that means the intelligence agencies have found the story is, at best, unproven—and possibly untrue.

“The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019 and perhaps earlier,” a senior administration official said. “This information puts a burden on the Russian government to explain its actions and take steps to address this disturbing pattern of behavior,” the official said, indicating that Biden is unprepared to walk the story back fully. Significantly, the Biden team announced a raft of sanctions on Thursday. But those sanctions, targeting Russia’s sovereign debt market, are prompted only by Russia’s interference in the 2020 election and its alleged role in the SolarWinds cyber espionage. (In contrast, Biden administration officials said that their assessment attributing the breach of technology company SolarWinds to hackers from Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service was “high confidence.”)


“We have noted our conclusion of the review that we conducted on the bounties issue and we have conveyed through diplomatic, intelligence, and military channels strong, direct messages on this issue, but we are not specifically tying the actions we are taking today to that matter,” a senior administration official told reporters in reference to the bounty claims. According to the officials on Thursday’s call, the reporting about the alleged “bounties” came from “detainee reporting”–raising the specter that someone told their U.S.-aligned Afghan jailers what they thought was necessary to get out of a cage. Specifically, the official cited “information and evidence of connections to criminal agents in Afghanistan and elements of the Russian government” as sources for the intelligence community’s assessment.

Russian bounties Trump

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Taibbi’s list from last month has been updated with “Bountygate”.

Update: Master List Of Official Russia Claims That Proved To Be Bogus (Taibbi)

Updated 4/15/21 “Bountygate.” In July of 2020, according to “officials briefed on the matter,” the New York Times reported, and the Washington Post “confirmed,” that “a Russian military spy unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan.” It’s impossible to overstate how head over heels the politicians and press alike went with this story. It became instantly election-year fodder, with Kamala Harris saying of Trump, “He let Putin get away with placing bounties on the heads of our troops.” Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth instantly called for hearings into the matter, making the inevitable Russiagate tie-in. “First, Donald Trump encouraged Russia to interfere in our democracy, and they did,” she said. “Now, Russia is secretly paying militants to kill U.S. troops. Trump has known for months but apparently done nothing to stop them.”

The story had a dual impact politically, dealing a blow to Trump throughout the summer of a general election, while also seeming to present a reason not to withdraw from Afghanistan two weeks before Congress voted on the re-authorization of the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) justifying the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. In hindsight, it’s incredible to see how easy it is for military or intelligence officials to impact budgetary or policy matters: just leak a hot story before a key vote. The Daily Beast was one of many news outlets to go full click-farm, with banner headlines like, “Russian ‘Bounties’ Mess is all of Trump’s Scandals Rolled into One” and “Russian Bounties Led to U.S. Troops’ Deaths, Intelligence Officials Believe,” with graphics announcing “BOMBSHELL,” “HOSTILE POWER” and “SHOCK VALUE!”


The Washington Post’s official “fact checker” column gave Trump its dreaded “four Pinocchios” rating for saying, “that’s an issue that many people said was fake news.” In fact, many people did say it was fake news, including Colin Powell, who went on MSNBC to describe the coverage of the story as “hysterical,” adding, “What I know is that our military commanders on the ground did not think that it was as serious a problem as the newspapers were reporting and television was reporting.” Two months after the story came out, an on-the-record military official was less certain:

Roughly seven months after that, on April 15, 2021, a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call that the U.S. now assessed with “low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks against U.S. coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019.” The Beast, one of the chief propagators of the original fairy tale, ran a new story over the graphic, TURNAROUND. “U.S. Intel Walks Back Claim Russians Put Bounties on American Troops,” the headline read, adding, without irony, that “there were reasons to doubt the story at the time.” [..] Does this mean the Russians don’t meddle? Of course not. But we have to learn to separate real stories about foreign intelligence operations with posturing used to target domestic actors while suppressing criticism of domestic politicians. It’s only happened about a hundred times in the last five years — maybe it’s time to start asking for proof in these episodes?

Russian bounties

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We are so surprised.

SecDef Austin Hints at Continued US Military Involvement in Afghanistan (AW)

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Wednesday said the US would continue to support the Afghan government’s military after President Biden withdraws troops from the country and hinted at a possible “counterterrorism” force in the region that could strike targets in Afghanistan. “We will look to continue funding key capabilities such as the Afghan Air Force and Special Mission Wing, and we will seek to continue paying salaries for Afghan Security Forces,” Austin said at a NATO press conference in Brussels. “We will also work closely with them and with our allies to maintain counterterrorism capabilities in the region,” he added. “I think you’ll understand why I won’t get into specific details about where our counterterrorist assets may be positioned,” Austin said when asked where counterterrorism troops could be deployed in the region.


“In terms of our ability to acquire targets and engage them in places where we are not … We have the reach and the ability to in fact do that,” he said, suggesting the US wants to maintain the capability to bomb Afghanistan. The New York Times reported on Thursday on how the US is planning to continue fighting in Afghanistan “from afar.” The report reads: “The Pentagon, American spy agencies and Western allies are refining plans to deploy a less visible but still potent force in the region to prevent the country from again becoming a terrorist base.” Unnamed US officials speaking to the Times floated neighboring Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, as possible locations to reposition forces from Afghanistan.

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Great Twitter thread from Pettis. The entire narrative about the e-yuan being a huge threat to the USD makes very little sense. Nobody wants the e-yuan for the same reason they don’t want the yuan. China has total control.

The Role of Reserve Currencies (Michael Pettis)

Apologies in advance for this very long thread, but as regular readers know, I worry greatly about common misunderstandings of the role of reserve currencies. The author seems to assume that what makes a currency a dominant reserve currency is its low frictional trading costs, which is why, he believes, digital currencies, with China in the lead, will dominate international trade. But while a low frictional trading cost is a necessary condition, it is not nearly sufficient. A quick glance at the role of the US dollar over the past 100 years, the period during which it achieved dominant status, makes this clear: when the world was short of savings relative to its investment needs, during the first fifty years of that period (a period characterized by the global need to rebuild economically from 2 world wars) the US was a permanent net provider of savings to the world.

In the next five decades, however, when the global economy was substantially rebuilt and needed to export excess savings, the US automatically became a permanent net absorber of foreign savings. Of course during this time the US shifted from permanent trade surpluses, when the world needed the US to supply it with food, capital goods and consumer goods, to permanent trade deficits, when the world urgently some place in which to dump excess production of consumer goods. This was no mere coincidence. To me it suggests three things. First, that reserve currency status is a function of a lot more than low-cost trading. In fact given that the cost is already so low, and seems to be in permanent decline anyway, I suspect it doesn’t even matter much any more.


What seems to matter a lot more is the willingness of the reserve-currency country to run large imbalances in response not to its own needs but rather to the needs of the rest of the world. As an excellent CFR resource shows, the US typically absorbs 40-50% of global imbalances, and the Anglophone economies — with similar financial markets all of whom, like the US, punch way above their weights as international reserve currencies — collectively absorb 65-75% of global imbalances. Given that China’s currency (and that of other surplus countries, like Japan) punches so far below it’s weight, it is surprising that anyone would argue that there is no relationship between the international status of a currency and its willingness and ability to absorb global imbalances.

Second, the reason these countries are “willing” to accept major reserve-currency status has more to do with ideology than with economic rationality, driven by, and reinforcing, the disproportionate power of the financial sector on domestic decision-making. Like the UK in the 1920s, they are perhaps too willing to sacrifice the needs of the producer side of their economies in order to maintain the overwhelming power of the financial side. The result, as Matthew Klein and I show in our book, is that these reserve-currency countries have constantly to choose between allowing unemployment to rise or allowing debt to rise. They have mostly chosen the latter.

And third, while China has been promising for nearly two decades that its currency will achieve dominant reserve status within five years or so, in fact the RMB is probably the least important of the top ten currencies given China’s status as the second largest economy and largest trader in the world, and by relevant standards its role has barely improved in the past decade and may even have declined. Why? Because for all over-excited talk about achieving major international status, Beijing has always refused to take the economic steps needed to increase its role in absorbing global imbalances. On the contrary, when Covid-19 created a demand shock in a world already suffering from excess savings and insufficient demand, Beijing had an incredible opportunity to boost the role of the RMB by boosting net domestic demand. Instead it implemented a muscular supply-side response that actually worsened its contribution to global demand imbalances.


In the end I do expect the international status of the US dollar eventually to decline, but not because of the rise of the yen (which, we were told in the 1980s and 1990s, was virtually assured) or of the RMB. Either it will decline because the US decides that it is no longer willing to absorb the huge and rising economic cost of dominant reserve-currency status to its producing sectors and its balance sheet in exchange for the declining geopolitical benefits and to maintain the status and dominance of of its financial sector (which may be the same thing), or it will decline when the cost of maintaining the power of the dollar helps sufficiently undermine the US economy, which has always been the real source of American power. The experience of the UK in the 1920s provides an accelerated vision of how that can happen.

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The middle class got suckered in the moment banks and central banks, Fannie and Freddie, started pumping up housing prices and manipulating mortgage rates. And yeah, now they’re suckered into stocks, because rates are negative, and savings worse than worthless.

The Middle Class Has Finally Been Suckered into the Casino (CHS)

For 12 long years, savers have been eviscerated while gamblers have been ceaselessly backstopped and bailed out by the Fed. In the Fed’s rigged casino, it’s not only rational to make high-risk bets, it’s rational to borrow as much money as you can to increase your stake and leverage your bets–because the Fed has our backs and so every wager on markets lofting higher will pay off. It’s crazy not to max out credit and leverage because the Fed has guaranteed every punter will be a winner. I explained the feedback loop this creates–the more the Fed guarantees markets will never be allowed to decline, the greater the incentives to borrow and leverage ever riskier bets in the Fed’s casino[..]

The middle class has finally surrendered the last of its rational risk-aversion and gone all-in on bets in the Fed’s rigged casino. Big players don’t use margin accounts in brokerages; they have immense lines of credit and tools to leverage their bets. It’s the so-called retail traders who use margin, and so the unprecedented highs in margin debt are evidence that the middle class has gone all-in on bets markets will only loft higher forever. Record inflows into equities adds more evidence that the middle class has been suckered into the Fed’s rigged casino. Why lose money every day in savings and money market accounts when newbie punters are raking in $250,000 a month playing options on Gamestop?

Alas, the majority of this “wealth” is phantom, as revealed by the chart of tangible (real) / intangible (financial) assets. The Fed’s casino prints trillions of dollars and gives them to the biggest gamblers for free, and so the artificial semblance of free money for everyone who gambles is compelling. Unfortunately, the Fed’s casino is only rigged to benefit the Fed’s cronies. Everyone else is suckered in to lose whatever they have. The Fed’s cronies have been impatiently waiting for the suckers to surrender their rational risk aversion and flood into the rigged casino to share in the Fed’s limitless wealth machine: the more you risk, the more you win!

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This could have been in today’s Covid Rattle, I know.

Arts Venue Closures Likely After Long Delay in Federal Grant Program (Dayen)

A critical $16.25 billion grant program to sustain thousands of small creative venues that haven’t been able to open since the pandemic began has yet to deliver a cent of relief four months after passage, due to delays and faulty technology at the Small Business Administration (SBA). A website constructed to take grant applications closed last week after only four hours online, because of constant crashes and an inability to intake documents. It has not been restored and there’s no timetable for its return. The program, based on the landmark Save Our Stages legislation put into last December’s COVID relief bill, was the largest investment in the arts in U.S. history. But the byzantine application process (often requiring over 100 pages of documents) and stubborn lack of payout has music clubs, small museums and movie theaters, and other venues either closing or looking to sell out to larger firms.

“Understandably, landlords can’t last forever,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, communications director with the National Independent Venues Association, a lead driver of Save Our Stages. “Eviction notices are coming. People are like, ‘we can’t do this anymore.’” The situation reinforces the importance of policy implementation, the primary responsibility of the executive branch. SBA has been notorious for decades for failing in its mission to support small businesses, and the changeover in administrations to President Biden has not ameliorated this. A critical Inspector General report released a week ago noted that the grants management office where the program is being run from has only one designated official managing the process; the rest of the staff is on “temporary detail.”


SBA Spokesperson Andrea Roebker, said that the program, known as Shuttered Venues Operating Grants (SVOG), has been “built from the ground up,” and that the agency “is committed to delivering this much-needed relief to these venues, many of which have been closed for extended periods of time.” But in the meantime, venue operators must wait agonizingly, living on borrowed time, borrowed money, and the fear of collapse.

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So far, all the e-currencies look like feeble attemps at suppressing bitcoin. The problem: central banks want full control.

E-Euro Starts To Take Shape (Dolan)

The promised digital euro started to take shape this week and signals from Frankfurt may offer some relief to nervy commercial banks worried about being sidelined by the latest disrupter. With the “hands off” pandemic accelerating the demise of physical cash, and private-sector crypto and stablecoins threatening to invade the space, the pledge last year of a digital euro within five years came before the European Central Bank knew what exactly it would be or how it would function. As nearly every central bank working on digital legal tender suggesting a different model or system, the debate over design has ranged widely over the past 6 months – from digital tokens to a direct central bank accounts or something in between.

But responses from the ECB’s public consultation, released this week, have gone some way to narrowing the options discussed – with the feedback showing a preference for privacy, though not anonymity, and a role for the existing banking system. Although this was just one survey, and the ECB laced it with caveats about how unrepresentative the sample was of euro zone citizens, it may give some clues to the direction of travel. Respondents’ heavy stress on privacy and security appears to be coupled with a preference for the digital euro to exist offline, like a token held in smartphones or digital wallets. What’s more, they seem to want it to exist alongside rather than instead of physical cash and to operate in conjunction with the existing banking system.


That addresses one of the biggest financial stability concerns plaguing plans for digital currencies, already being trialled by the People’s Bank of China and which the U.S. Federal Reserve has called a “high priority project”. Many fear that if a digital currency is effectively a open-ended deposit account directly with the central bank, then its inherent guarantee will see deposits flee commercial banks, especially in a crisis, and undermine the retail banking system. To counter that, ECB board member Fabio Panetta has proposed limiting deposits to households only, and to a maximum of 3,000 euros – effectively penalising holdings in excess of that, and accounts held by companies or investors, with deeply negative interest rates.

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“Section 230 may have protected them before, but it will not protect them from me. The complaint will be filed Monday.”

How much different would Project Veritas’ situation be if it were sympathetic to the Dems?

Twitter Suspends Project Veritas’ James O’keefe After Undercover Scoops (RT)

Twitter has banned Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe for alleged violation of its policies on “platform manipulation and spam,” silencing his account amid a series of undercover scoops on CNN’s propagandist tactics. The social media giant told O’Keefe on Thursday that his account is permanently suspended and will not be reinstated, citing an allegation that he used fake or multiple accounts to manipulate conversations on the platform. Twitter said in a statement to The Hill and other media outlets that “you can’t artificially amplify or disrupt conversations through the use of multiple accounts.” The shutdown came after O’Keefe posted three straight days of scoops in which CNN technical director Charlie Chester is shown on video, talking to an undercover reporter.


Chester, who reportedly thought he was talking to a Tinder date, told the reporter about CNN’s propagandist efforts to oust President Donald Trump, its fearmongering about Covid-19 to boost ratings and its efforts to make Black Lives Matter look good. O’Keefe’s suspension from Twitter will likely come as good news to CNN, which hasn’t responded to the latest round of Project Veritas stories about the network and has lobbied for competing news outlets to be censored for reporting “misinformation.” O’Keefe issued a statement on Thursday, vowing to sue Twitter for defamation and denying that he operated fake accounts. “This is false, this is defamatory, and they will pay,” he said. “Section 230 may have protected them before, but it will not protect them from me. The complaint will be filed Monday.” He invited supporters to follow him on Telegram.

Veritas
https://twitter.com/i/status/1382848287506583552

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“Guo Shuqing, China’s top banking regulator, said in March that the country was exposed to “bubbles” in international markets and its own real estate sector.”

China’s Economy Grows By A Record 18.3% In Q1; It’s Not Enough (ZH)

China’s economy grew by a record 18.3% in the first three months of 2021, its fastest annual growth rate in history reflecting the weak comparison to the lockdown period in early 2020. However, in keeping with the recent theme of China’s slowing credit impulse, the GDP print wasn’t nearly enough and disappointed markets which were expecting an 18.5% number.

The Chinese slowdown was even more visible in the quarter-on-quarter growth which slowed to just 0.6% from 2.6% in the previous three months – the second lowest quarterly growth rate since the financial crisis with the sole exception of the covid crash quarter a year ago, while the picture in the monthly data dump was mixed at best.

China’s expansion was supported by household consumption, which had previously lagged behind the wider recovery but is expected to play a greater role in driving growth this year. Retail sales beat expectations to add 34.2% in March, rebounding from a period of lockdowns a year earlier. Industrial production also boosted growth, with the metric adding 24.5% in the first quarter and alongside booming exports has helped prop up growth over the past year, it did, however, miss expectations in March and only rose 14.1% year-on-year. The Chinese recovery from the pandemic also helped it dominate global trade, with exports rising every month since June last year. In March, exports added 30% in dollar terms compared with the same month a year earlier.


In light of China’s recent aggressive deleveraging which has pushed China’s CSI300 just shy of dipping below the 200DMA, focus has shifted to the prospect of rate rises, with signs of overheating across parts of the economy despite persistently low consumer price inflation. The government is trying to curb leverage across its property sector, as well as rein in record rates of steel production following a construction boom. Several high-ranking officials have warned about the risks of high asset prices in recent months. Guo Shuqing, China’s top banking regulator, said in March that the country was exposed to “bubbles” in international markets and its own real estate sector.

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Setting your own home on fire after using it as a garbage dump and toilet bowl. Smartest species ever.

Despite 100s of years of science and warnings, we still appear unable to understand our planet is not infinite.

Just 3% of World’s Ecosystems Remain Intact (G.)

Just 3% of the world’s land remains ecologically intact with healthy populations of all its original animals and undisturbed habitat, a study suggests. These fragments of wilderness undamaged by human activities are mainly in parts of the Amazon and Congo tropical forests, east Siberian and northern Canadian forests and tundra, and the Sahara. Invasive alien species including cats, foxes, rabbits, goats and camels have had a major impact on native species in Australia, with the study finding no intact areas left. The researchers suggest reintroducing a small number of important species to some damaged areas, such as elephants or wolves – a move that could restore up to 20% of the world’s land to ecological intactness.

Previous analyses have identified wilderness areas based largely on satellite images and estimated that 20-40% of the Earth’s surface is little affected by humans. However, the scientists behind the new study argue that forests, savannah and tundra can appear intact from above but that, on the ground, vital species are missing. Elephants, for example, spread seeds and create important clearings in forests, while wolves can control populations of deer and elk. The new assessment combines maps of human damage to habitat with maps showing where animals have disappeared from their original ranges or are too few in number to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Some scientists said the new analysis underestimates the intact areas, because the ranges of animals centuries ago are poorly known and the new maps do not take account of the impacts of the climate crisis, which is changing the ranges of species.


It is widely accepted that the world is in a biodiversity crisis, with many wildlife populations – from lions to insects – plunging, mainly due to the destruction of habitat for farming and building. Some scientists think a sixth mass extinction of life on Earth is beginning, with serious consequences for the food, and clean water and air that humanity depends upon. “Much of what we consider as intact habitat is missing species that have been hunted [and poached] by people, or lost because of invasive species or disease,” said Dr Andrew Plumptre, the lead author of the study, from the Key Biodiversity Areas Secretariat in Cambridge, UK. “It’s fairly scary, because it shows how unique places like the Serengeti are, which actually have functioning and fully intact ecosystems. “We’re in the UN decade of ecosystem restoration now, but it is focusing on degraded habitat,” he said. “Let’s also think about restoring species so that we can try and build up these areas where we’ve got ecologically intact ecosystems.”

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A lady playing the piano for an elephant in a river

 

 

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Apr 152021
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Christ In The Storm On The Sea Of Galilee 1633
Stolen from Gardner Museum March 18 1990, the single largest property theft in the world. Never recovered

 

Idiocy: Experimental Vaccines And Spike Proteins (Denninger)
Continued Lockdowns A Ticking Time Bomb To Cause Global Health Crisis Soon (RT)
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Use Will Remain Paused In US Amid Evaluation (G.)
South Africa Covid Variant Found In Another Part Of London (Mirror)
How CO2 Sensors Might Help Us Return To ‘Normal’ (Verge)
Greece To Reopen To US Tourists Next Week – Under Conditions (F.)
US Intel Warns Of ‘Sustained Economic Downturn’, Other Long-Term Threats (ZH)
Democrats To Introduce Bill To Expand Supreme Court From 9 To 13 Justices (NBC)
US To Withdraw From Afghanistan Having Accomplished… Nothing (Ritter)
Putin’s Ukrainian Judo (Dmitry Orlov)
US Cancels Black Sea Deployment Of Two Warships: Turkey (Y!)
Biden To Unveil Russia Sanctions Over SolarWinds Hack, Election Meddling (G.)
Let’s Play The “Pay For” Game (Stephanie Kelton)
The Future Is Carbon Coin (Steve Keen)

 

 

 

 

Tucker Fauci
https://twitter.com/i/status/1382496036510384131

 

 

“..it is gross malpractice by any reasonable definition to refuse to give a patient any sort of treatment on an early basis for a given disease, deliberately doing nothing until the person is on death’s door.”

Idiocy: Experimental Vaccines And Spike Proteins (Denninger)

Do remember that when Covid-19 kills it almost-universally does so with a presentation of clotting in places where it should not occur, and that elevated d-Dimer is a very reliable indication that you’re going to get hammered. This was reported in the first few months of last year and I noted very early on that it was happening, it fully explained why ventilators were worthless since without gas exchange due to clotting you can ram however much oxygen into the lungs and it will do nothing or worse, cause physical damage and embolisms, and that getting to the bottom of that and stopping it when detected was key to management of severe cases that were at risk of becoming fatal. In addition preventing those events through early treatment modalities was obviously essential as once you get into that sort of dysregulation of your body’s systems you’re in trouble and the odds of dying are very high.

The evidence is, by the way, that the mRNA vaccines have a worse safety profile than the J&J shot does. Who remembers the healthy doc who got one of the mRNA shots and had the same thing happen to him? Go look up the death numbers associated with Covid19 vaccines yourself in VAERS. Do remember that VAERS, because it is a voluntary system and the hospitals are incentivized to code anything they can as “Covid-19” because they get paid a bonus for doing so provides great incentive to find some way not to call a vaccine death an actual vaccine death. Nonetheless there are a crap-ton of reports, roughly a hundred times as many as are found for flu shots that we give morbid and otherwise not-in-great-shape people every single year.

The last time I checked dead is dead and the entire point is not to be dead. Further, it is gross malpractice by any reasonable definition to refuse to give a patient any sort of treatment on an early basis for a given disease, deliberately doing nothing until the person is on death’s door. This is only gotten away with legally because in the early days Trump’s HHS secretary invoked an emergency law provision that immunizes hospitals and doctors from lawsuits for anything they do or don’t do in the treatment of Covid-19. Oh and our wonderful, life-affirming President now, Mr. PuddinHead, has not withdrawn that exemption. Why not? Well gee, we can’t cut off the $30,000 “bonus payments” to hospitals for people with Covid, right? I mean all those *******s heroes might get sued for refusing you Ivermectin and Budesonide when you get Covid if that was to be withdrawn and you died.

That would be great horrible and we must keep the death fear going so as to get you to take a jab that might kill you too, and for which they’re also immune if it does. After all there is only tens of billions of dollars each and every year at stake from this pack of lies since they’re already telling us this will be a ritual we shall be expected to partake in every six months or year forever into the future. It ought to be obvious that playing parlor tricks on your body’s cells to produce the “spike protein” — not introducing it directly into your body which is incidentally the actual definition of a vaccine, but tricking your cells to produce it instead (and which has now been magically redefined to count as a “vaccine”) is inherently dangerous.

You’d think that a decade or more of both animal and human trials, with very close follow-up on every single human so-exposed, with all of the data written up and presented to the world in public would be required to know if this sort of malarkey has unknown but severe danger associated with it. Among other risks doing this could result in cells in very unpleasant places (e.g. your heart, spleen, etc.) taking up said “instructions” and being damaged, leading to an immune response in a very bad place that could injure or kill you, or it might lead your body to target your own cells since by definition the cells that take up said “programming” and produce the protein are diseased. If either of those things happen then the very same thing that kills you when Covid goes badly might kill you as a result of the vaccine either immediately or somewhere down the road when challenged either by the original virus — or some other as yet not-identified stimulus.

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“..thanks to the hysteria over overcrowded ICUs, staggering numbers of patients are being denied life-saving treatments for up to one year.”

Continued Lockdowns A Ticking Time Bomb To Cause Global Health Crisis Soon (RT)

By continuing to push for lockdowns to ‘protect hospitals’, authorities worldwide are denying millions of cancer sufferers and other seriously ill people essential treatment. This will lead to many unnecessary deaths.
It is shocking that in 2021, surgeries for cancer and other critical ailments are being delayed. But thanks to the hysteria over overcrowded ICUs, staggering numbers of patients are being denied life-saving treatments for up to one year.
UK media recently reported a drop of around 350,000 urgent cancer referrals between March last year and January this year, compared to the same period in the previous 12 months. A researcher described the situation as a “ticking time bomb.”

There has also been a decrease in surgeries and chemotherapy and radiology treatments, “with 44,000 fewer patients diagnosed with cancer starting treatment.” This problem is not unique to Britain. Canadian provinces face similarly unacceptable numbers of delayed surgeries and treatments. As of April, Ontario has a backlog of 245,367 “medically necessary procedures.” A 60% drop in cancer surgeries was reported when the pandemic struck last March , leaving over 36,000 Ontario cancer patients in agonizing limbo. During stay-at-home orders in 2020, some patients chose to avoid hospitals, either out of worry about becoming ill or through fear of being forcibly estranged from family and loved ones.

But also, then and now, elective surgeries and treatments have been halted under the premise that ICUs are overwhelmed. Ontario recently went into a new lockdown, and with it we saw an increase in alarmist reports of ICUs being crowded. And so elective surgeries have been stopped again. It’s worth bearing in mind that these are not necessarily cosmetic or trivial procedures, but refer to surgeries scheduled in advance, including those to treat cancer. However, some Ontario doctors are now speaking out, providing anecdotal evidence that there are plenty of ICU doctors, and even that most are “underemployed.”

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The vaccine rollouts are a huge mess, as much as everyone tries to present them as successful. That’s what happens if you don’t properly test them first.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Use Will Remain Paused In US Amid Evaluation (G.)

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine will remain in limbo a while longer after US health advisers told the government Wednesday that they need more evidence to decide if a handful of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot – and if so, how big the potential risk really is. The reports are exceedingly rare – six cases out of more than 7m US inoculations with the one-dose vaccine. But the government recommended a pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccinations this week, not long after European regulators declared that such clots are a rare but possible risk with the AstraZeneca vaccine, a shot made in a similar way but not yet approved for use in the US.

At an emergency meeting, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrestled with the fact that the US has enough vaccine alternatives to do without the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for a time, but other countries anxiously awaiting the one-and-done shot may not. One committee member, Dr Grace Lee, was among those who advocated tabling a vote. She echoed concerns about getting more data to better understand the size of the risk and whether it was greater for any particular group of people. “I continue to feel like we’re in a race against time and the variants, but we need to [move forward] in the safest possible way,” said Lee, of Stanford University.

The clots under investigation are highly unusual. They occurred in strange places, in veins that drain blood from the brain, and in people with abnormally low levels of clot-forming platelets. The six cases raised an alarm bell because that number is at least three times more than experts would have expected to see even of more typical brain-drainage clots, said CDC’s Dr Tom Shimabukuro. “What we have here is a picture of clots forming in large vessels where we have low platelets,” Shimabukuro explained. “This usually doesn’t happen,” but it’s similar to European reports with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The clot concerns could undermine public confidence in a vaccine many hoped would help some of the hardest-to-reach populations – in poor countries or in places like homeless shelters in the US. Health officials recommended the Johnson & Johnson timeout in part to make sure doctors know how to recognize and treat the unusual condition. The US set up intensive systems to track the safety of Covid-19 vaccines, knowing that side effects too rare to have occurred in studies of thousands of people could pop up once millions rolled up their sleeves. Shimabukuro said spotting such a rare potential risk amid the nation’s huge vaccine rollout “is an example of a success story for vaccine safety”.

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What’s the big fuss about? Is it just the goverment sowing panic?

South Africa Covid Variant Found In Another Part Of London (Mirror)

Huge queues have formed for newly set up coronavirus testing stations as a case of the South African variant was found in another borough. People living in an area of Barnet, north London, have been asked to take a test following the detection. They join those living in Wandsworth, Lambeth and a part of Southwark, where cases of the mutant strain have been found. A steady stream of people joined the lines at pop-up centres on Clapham Common and in Brockwell Park, near Brixton, in Lambeth, on Wednesday morning. Marshals said they had warned on Tuesday afternoon that waiting times could be up to two hours and were forced to stop people joining the queue early.


Some 44 confirmed cases of the variant have been found in Lambeth and Wandsworth, with a further 30 probable cases identified, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said. The BBC reported that the outbreak appears to have been triggered by an individual who travelled from Africa in February. According to documents seen by the broadcaster, the country involved was not on the red list for mandatory hotel quarantine at that time, but is now. Facilities offering asymptomatic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing have now been deployed at Wandsworth Town Hall, Tooting Leisure Centre and the University of Roehampton, as well as Lambeth Town Hall and Brockwell Park. People aged 11 and over who live, work or travel through those areas are being urged to take a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, on top of twice-weekly rapid testing.


The South Africa variant doesn’t appear to be causing a spike in deaths…in South Africa.

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Hepa filtration systems are the only ones that work vs Covid, from what I understand.

How CO2 Sensors Might Help Us Return To ‘Normal’ (Verge)

One of the things we’ve learned over the past year is to be wary of the air around us — especially indoors. If other people are around, exhaling, they’re filling the space with their breath. If one of those people has COVID-19, they could be filling the space with infectious breath. There’s a way to make indoor spaces safer, though: improving the ventilation to make sure the air doesn’t stay trapped. That way, any potentially infectious particles quickly gust away, instead of lingering for someone else to breathe in. Experts say one way to measure how well-ventilated certain spaces are is by checking how much carbon dioxide is in the air.


People exhale carbon dioxide, so the amount of it in a room gives you an idea of how much of the air is made up of other people’s breath. It’s not a perfect measure of danger — it won’t tell you if there is actually virus around — but it’s a pretty good proxy for how risky a room could be. It’s easy to check a room’s carbon dioxide levels: all you need is a small, portable monitor. To test this idea, the Verge Science team took one of those monitors all around Brooklyn, New York, to check out the ventilation at local grocery stores, bagel shops, and bars. Watch our latest video to see what we found.

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The entire country is closed. Lockdown tourism? You can’t even sit outside, let alone have drinks or dinner.

Greece To Reopen To US Tourists Next Week – Under Conditions (F.)

Greece will reportedly permit visitors from the United States to enter for the first time in more than a year starting next week, a month earlier than the previously announced date of May 14, when the country said it would reopen to international tourists who provide a negative coronavirus test or proof of vaccination. Greece is taking early “baby steps” toward a full reopening by allowing tourists from the U.S., the U.K., Serbia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union into the country starting Monday, tourism ministry officials told The Guardian and Reuters on Wednesday. If citizens of those countries can produce a negative PCR test less than three days old or proof of vaccination, they will be allowed in and permitted to skip the mandatory weeklong quarantine in place, officials said.

The tourists will reportedly be permitted to fly into Greece through airports in nine of the country’s most popular holiday destinations; Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu, according to Reuters. However, travelers would still have to follow the country’s coronavirus restrictions while they’re in Greece—bars and restaurants remain closed for dining in and a nationwide curfew is still in place, though many of the country’s famous archeological sites, like Athens’ Acropolis, have reopened. Under current guidelines, U.S. citizens are barred from entering Greece at all, except in cases of “extreme emergencies,” according to the Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C., while citizens of some countries are allowed in if they self-isolate for a week after arrival.

Tourism makes up a whopping 20% of the economy, making reviving the industry critical for the country. Greece has not permitted Americans to visit since March last year, when Greece went under a lockdown at the onset of the pandemic. While travelers from nearly 30 countries were allowed back in just three months later in July, the government excluded Americans based on the high rate of coronavirus infection in the U.S. The Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C., had no comment about the reported early opening.

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This is not a warning, this is an agenda.

US Intel Warns Of ‘Sustained Economic Downturn’, Other Long-Term Threats (ZH)

According to the Annual Threat Assessment – which comes on the heels of a separate intelligence report last week which offers a grim view of global challenges likely to be faced over the next 20 years – the pandemic is expected to contribute to “humanitarian and economic crises, political unrest, and geopolitical competition,” and will “strain governments and societies.” “The economic fallout from the pandemic is likely to create or worsen instability in at least a few—and perhaps many—countries, as people grow more desperate in the face of interlocking pressures that include sustained economic downturns, job losses, and disrupted supply chains,” the report warns. What’s more, food shortages and ‘uneven access’ to COVID treatments will contribute to humanitarian concerns, while the virus will remain a threat “to populations worldwide until vaccines and therapeutics are widely distributed.”

The report also warns that a new wave of infections earlier this year “may have an even greater economic impact as struggling businesses in hard-hit sectors such as tourism and restaurants fold and governments face increasing budget strains.” In addition to pandemic-related warnings, the report also predicts that Russia and China will continue to hatch covert influence operations (to blame populist victories on?) – and that Iran will continue to violate the 2015 nuclear agreement. According to the report, China “presents a growing influence threat” in the United States, and has been “intensifying efforts to shape the political environment in the United States to promote its policy preferences, mold public discourse, pressure political figures whom Beijing believes oppose its interests, and muffle criticism of China on such issues as religious freedom and the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong.”


The report also warns of domestic extremism – as the threat from foreign terrorist orgs such as ISIS and Al Qaeda has apparently abated. Instead, white supremacy is now the threat – which have led to “at least 26 lethal attacks that killed more than 141 people and for dozens of disrupted plots in the West since 2015.” For the sake of comparison, that’s fewer people killed in six years than the 170 homicides in Chicago, year-to-date, primarily committed by ‘black extremists’ against other ‘black extremists’ so to speak. “While these extremists often see themselves as part of a broader global movement, most attacks have been carried out by individuals or small, independent cells,” the report reads. “Australia, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom consider white racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, including Neo-Nazi groups, to be the fastest growing terrorist threat they face.”

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Politicizing your highest court is always a bad idea.

Democrats To Introduce Bill To Expand Supreme Court From 9 To 13 Justices (NBC)

Congressional Democrats will introduce legislation Thursday to expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices, joining progressive activists pushing to transform the court. The move intensifies a high-stakes ideological fight over the future of the court after President Donald Trump and Republicans appointed three conservative justices in four years, including one who was confirmed days before the 2020 election. The Democratic bill is led by Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee. It is co-sponsored by Reps. Hank Johnson of Georgia and Mondaire Jones of New York.

The Supreme Court can be expanded by an act of Congress, but the legislation is highly unlikely to become law in the near future given Democrats’ slim majorities, which include scores of lawmakers who are not on board with the idea. President Joe Biden has said he is “not a fan” of packing the court. But it represents an undercurrent of progressive fury at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for denying a vote in 2016 to President Barack Obama’s pick to fill a vacancy, citing the approaching election, before confirming Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett the week before the election last year. The anger has taken hold within the Democratic Party, and the new push indicates that it has not dissipated in an era when the party controls the White House and both chambers of Congress.

The lawmakers, who intend to announce the introduction of the bill outside the Supreme Court building, will be joined by progressive activists Aaron Belkin, who leads Take Back the Court; Chris Kang, a co-founder and chief counsel of Demand Justice; and Meagan Hatcher-Mays of Indivisible, according to an advisory notice. All three groups advocate adding justices. “This bill marks a new era where Democrats finally stop conceding the Supreme Court to Republicans,” said Brian Fallon, a former Senate Democratic leadership aide and a co-founder of Demand Justice, who described the court as “broken and in need of reform.”

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CIA.

US To Withdraw From Afghanistan Having Accomplished… Nothing (Ritter)

Biden mirrored the conclusion reached by his predecessor, Donald Trump, that left to their own devices, the US military would never depart from Afghanistan. Biden had made the rejection of the so-called “forever war” in Afghanistan an integral part of his national security strategy, but had been held hostage by conditions that had been put in place regarding the capabilities of the Afghan military and security forces to operate independently, assurances about women’s rights, assurances on the part of the Taliban regarding their relationship with Al-Qaeda, and a desire on the part of many officials – Biden included – that a residual force of US special operations forces based in Afghanistan was required for any lasting peace to be had.

In carrying out a “whole of government” analysis of US objectives in Afghanistan, it became apparent to Biden and his inner circle that by placing conditions on the withdrawal of US troops, the US would never leave Afghanistan. This decision flew in the face of the advice Biden was receiving from the military, which argued that any condition-free withdrawal would doom the Afghan government and military to a Vietnam-like collapse. Biden had also to overcome similar objections on the part of NATO and non-NATO allies of the US who had collectively deployed a 7,000-strong contingent to Afghanistan dedicated to the very training and advisory capacity the US military claimed was essential to the continued survival of the Afghan government.

[..] Biden’s decision was likewise aided by the recent appointment of William Burns, a veteran diplomat, to run the CIA. The CIA has built a virtual empire in Afghanistan, underpinned by a private army of contracted Afghan special forces who operate independently of the Afghan military, reporting instead to the CIA-controlled Afghan intelligence service. This private army represented the logical extension of the intimate and visceral involvement of the CIA in Afghanistan dating back to the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Like the US military, the current CIA leadership was forged in the fires of the Afghan conflict.

Trump’s last CIA director, Gina Haspel, was the personification of this reality, having played a key role in the implementation of both the CIA torture program and the ongoing use of armed drones to kill so-called “high value targets” in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Haspel strongly opposed Trump’s withdrawal plan and worked with the Pentagon to prevent its full implementation. With Haspel gone, and Burns in as director, the CIA’s objections, like those of the US military, have been pushed aside in favor of the domestic political imperative recognized by Biden that whatever national security gains that might be accrued by remaining in Afghanistan could not offset the reality that the American public was tired of a war that never ended, and apparently could not be brought to a successful conclusion.

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“Virtually all of the more capable young men have either left the country to work abroad or have bribed their way out of being drafted.”

Putin’s Ukrainian Judo (Dmitry Orlov)

[..] what’s about to happen now is forecasted to be on a different scale: the Ukrainians are moving heavy armor and troops up to the line of separation while the Russians are moving theirs up to their side of the Ukrainian border, a position from which they can blast any and all Ukrainian troops straight out of the gene pool without so much as setting foot on Ukrainian territory—should they wish to do so. The Russians can justify their military involvement by the need to defend their own citizens: over the past seven years half a million residents in eastern Ukraine have applied for and been granted Russian citizenship. But how exactly can Russia defend its citizens while they are stuck in the crossfire between Russian and Ukrainian forces?

The rationale of defending its citizens led to conflict in the briefly Georgian region of South Ossetia, which started on August 8, 2008 and lasted barely a week, leaving Georgia effectively demilitarized. Russia rolled in, Georgia’s troops ran off, Russia confiscated some of the more dangerous war toys and rolled out. Georgia’s paper warriors and their NATO consultants and Israeli trainers were left wiping each others’ tears. Any suggestion of arming and equipping the Georgians since then has been met with groaning and eye-rolling. Is the upcoming event in eastern Ukraine going to be similar to the swift and relatively painless defanging of Georgia in 2008? Given that the two situations are quite different, it seems foolish to think that the approach to resolving them would be the same.

Is it different this time and is World War III is about to erupt with eastern Ukraine being used as a trigger for this conflagration? Do the various statements made at various times by Vladimir Putin provide a solid enough basis for us to guess at what will happen next? Is there a third, typically, infuriatingly Russian approach to resolving this situation, where Russia wins, nobody dies and everyone in the West is left scratching their heads? The Ukrainian military is much like everything else currently found in the Ukraine—the railway system, the power plants, the pipeline systems, the ports, the factories (the few that are left)—a patched-up hold-over from Soviet times. The troops are mostly unhappy, demoralized conscripts and reservists. Virtually all of the more capable young men have either left the country to work abroad or have bribed their way out of being drafted.

The conscripts sit around getting drunk, doing drugs and periodically taking pot shots into and across the line of separation between Ukrainian-held and separatist-held territories. Most of the casualties they suffer are from drug and alcohol overdoses, weapons accidents, traffic accidents caused by driving drunk and self-harm from faulty weapons. The Ukrainian military is also working on winning a Darwin award for the most casualties caused by stepping on their own land mines. As for the other side, many of the casualties are civilians wounded and killed by constant shelling from the Ukrainian side of the front, which runs quite close to population centers.

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“..a 2014 revolution..”?

US Cancels Black Sea Deployment Of Two Warships: Turkey (Y!)

The United States has cancelled this week’s planned deployment of two warships to the Black Sea, Turkish officials and media said Wednesday, amid high tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Turkish diplomatic sources said the passage of the first ship through the Bosphorus due on Wednesday did not take place. Anadolu state news agency said both deployments, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, have been cancelled with Ankara not yet informed of any possible rescheduling. Last week Turkey announced that it had been informed through diplomatic channels that two US warships “will pass toward the Black Sea” and remain in the region until May 4.


There was no confirmation from Washington either of the planned deployments or of their cancellation. Washington is required to give Ankara at least 15 days notice before sending warships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits under the terms of the 1936 Montreux Convention. The treaty’s terms allow foreign warships to stay in the Black Sea for 21 days. US Navy ships routinely operate in the region in support of Ukraine, which has been fighting Russian-backed forces in its east since a 2014 revolution ousted the pro-Moscow leader in Kiev.

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Don’t eve ask for evidence. It’s secret.

Biden To Unveil Russia Sanctions Over SolarWinds Hack, Election Meddling (G.)

The United States will announce sanctions on Russia as soon as Thursday for alleged election interference and malicious cyber activity, people familiar the matter said. The sanctions, in which 30 entities are expected to be blacklisted, will be tied with orders expelling about 10 Russian officials from the US, one of the people said. The US is also expected to announce aggressive new measures targeting the country’s sovereign debt through restrictions on US financial institutions’ ability to trade such debt, according to another source. The wide-ranging sanctions would come partly in response to a cybersecurity breach affecting software made by SolarWinds Corp that the US government has said was likely orchestrated by Russia. The breach gave hackers access to thousands of companies and government offices that used the company’s products.

[..] The action will add a new chill to the already frosty relations between Washington and Moscow, which has tested the west’s patience with a military build-up near Ukraine. Relations slumped to a new post-cold war low last month when Biden said he thought Russian president Vladimir Putin was a “killer”. Biden has also vowed to take action on reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban militants to kill US troops in Afghanistan. The US also intends to punish Moscow for alleged interference in the 2020 US presidential election. In a report last month, US intelligence agencies said Putin likely directed efforts to try to swing the election to then-president Donald Trump and away from Biden. Microsoft president Brad Smith described the SolarWinds attack, which was identified in December, as “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.”

In a call on Tuesday, Biden told Putin the US would act “firmly” to defend its interests in response to those actions, according to US officials’ accounts of the call. Biden also proposed a meeting with Putin “in a third country” that could allow the leaders to find areas to work together. In the past few weeks, Washington and its Nato allies have been alarmed by a large build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Anticipating the new sanctions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters last week: “The hostility and unpredictability of America’s actions force us in general to be prepared for the worst scenarios.”

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Thread.

Let’s Play The “Pay For” Game (Stephanie Kelton)

Let’s play the “pay for” game. Suppose you want to spend $3-$10 trillion on a Build Back Better agenda. You’ve decided that you’re going to play the “pay for” game, which means you will show where every dollar you plan to spend is going to “come from.” 1/ The whole point is to appear “fiscally responsible,” showing that you can carry out your spending without adding to the deficit. In other words, for every dollar you want to spend INTO the economy, you have a plan to rip a dollar OUT of someone’s hands. 2/ The Biden administration has put forward their plan, which mostly relies on raising taxes on corporations. The president says it will raise more revenue (over 15 yrs) than he is proposing to spend (over 8 yrs). Don’t ask me why.

3/ Along with some other changes, the Biden plan would take the corporate income tax rate from 21% to 28%. Already, a number of Dems are balking at 28% and chattering about going to 25% instead. And, of course, CEOs are fighting back. 4/ If Dems don’t have the votes to go to 28%, then what? Scale down the package? Fight over other ways to raise taxes? The opposition loves it, because they know that the odds of passing anything bold drop precipitously when Dems hold themselves hostage to the “pay for” game. 5/ Is there a way out? Setting aside the MMT solution, which is to stop playing the conventional “pay for” game altogether, why not simply take the IRS Commissioner at his word? Why not make the case that you can spend up to $10 trillion without raising a single tax?

6/ If all you need is stepped up enforcement of EXISTING TAX LAWS, then you can play the “pay for” game even if you can’t get the votes for a slew of tax increases. Maybe I’m wrong and the votes are there. Give it a shot! 7/ Both strategies get you the revenue you think you need, and both reduce inequality. So I guess I’m curious to know whether the administration is digging its heels in on the need to RAISE TAXES or whether they would accept HIGHER REVENUE to play the game. 8/ As I’ve been saying for months, there’s yet another way to play the “pay for” game. Just make the case that the money you spend ‘today’ will come back to you ‘tomorrow.’ Fiscal multiplier and all that. 9/ Alternatively, we could all grow up and stop this nonsense. Admit that taxes don’t “pay for” anything and that all government spending is paid for in one way and one way only—the Federal Reserve credits the appropriate bank accounts. 10/end

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“We need a mechanism which would be popular with the poor—so much so that they would campaign in favour of it, rather than against it. We need a mechanism that hits the big consumers of carbon—the rich—rather than the poor. In short, we need a mechanism that puts the politics first, and lets the economics follow. ”

The Future Is Carbon Coin (Steve Keen)

Economists tell us that environmental problems are caused by the “tragedy of the commons”: because no-one owns the environment, no-one pays when they dump carbon dioxide into it. Their solution is carbon-pricing: put a price on things that generate carbon-dioxide—such as petrol consumption, or coal-fired power stations—and the market will do the rest. Demand for carbon-dioxide-generating products will fall, while the market will invent low-carbon products—such as electric cars, or solar power stations—to replace the high-carbon products that are causing Global Warming. Hey presto, problem solved. However, while the economics sounds OK, the politics are not: attempts to price carbon, or tax products with high carbon content, have led to social revolts.

The most colourful, literally, was the Gilet Jaunes movement in France, which started when French President Macron increased the tax rate on petrol. Working-class demonstrators donned the yellow safety vests that all vehicles in France are required to carry, and made the point that this tax was hard on the poor, but easy on the rich. They demonstrated as only the French can do, and Macron scrapped the tax. We need a mechanism that puts the politics first, and lets the economics follow. A “Universal Carbon Credit” (UCC) could be that mechanism. This is the problem with only using prices to attempt to reduce our carbon consumption: while the rich consume far more carbon per head than the poor, increasing the price of carbon affects the poor far more than the rich.

When you’re already barely able to meet your monthly expenses, a higher price for petrol for your car means you can’t afford to drive to work. But when you’re a billionaire, a higher price for avgas won’t make you leave your private jet parked on the tarmac. We need a mechanism which would be popular with the poor—so much so that they would campaign in favour of it, rather than against it. We need a mechanism that hits the big consumers of carbon—the rich—rather than the poor. In short, we need a mechanism that puts the politics first, and lets the economics follow. A “Universal Carbon Credit” (UCC) could be that mechanism. Every adult in a country would receive a UCC, measured in tons of carbon dioxide per year, for the carbon dioxide in their purchases of goods and services.

This allowance would be set, initially, at the level of the average carbon consumption in a country. Given how unequal the distribution of income has become, this average would in fact be well above the amount of carbon consumed by the vast majority of the population—90% or more of the population would not consume that much carbon per year. All goods and services would have their carbon content included, so that as well as running down your wallet when you went shopping, you would run down your UCC. For 90-95% of the population, this would not be a problem: they’d end up with unused UCCs. But the top 5-10% would exhaust their ration, and have to buy unused UCCs from the poor. The richer they were, the more they would have to buy.

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Apr 142021
 


Edgar Degas Leaving the paddock1866
Stolen from Gardner Museum March 18 1990, the single largest art theft in the world. Never recovered

 

Nearly A Quarter Of Registered Covid Deaths Are Not Caused By The Virus (DM)
More Brands Are Putting Money And Clout Behind Covid-19 Vaccine Ads (F.)
Big Pharma Uses Big Tobacco’s Strategy To Defeat Ivermectin (DR)
How Bill Gates Impeded Global Access to Covid Vaccines (TNR)
Russia Accuses US, NATO Of Moving Troops To Its Border (AA)
Biden Urges Russia To De-Escalate Ukraine Tensions In Call With Putin (G.)
Russia Warns US Warships To Stay Far Away From Crimea “For Their Own Good” (ZH)
Biden To Withdraw US Troops From Afghanistan By September 11 (G.)
Joe Biden Is Proceeding With Donald Trump’s Biggest Arms Deal (HuffPo)
The Absentee Vote Logic of the New York Times (RCI)
CNN Staffer Admits Network’s Focus Was To ‘Get Trump Out Of Office’ (Fox)
Crackdown On Cryptocurrencies May Be Coming, Warns Kraken CEO (RT)
Republican Antitrust Bill Would Block All Big Tech Acquisitions (TC)
Mexico’s War on Obesity Sends Junk-Food & Sugary-Drink Giants Scrambling (WS)
Airborne Plastic Pollution ‘Spiralling Around The Globe’ (G.)

 

 

 

 

The indoctrination is so deep that educated people think they’re being objective.
– Noam Chomsky

 

 

We will never ever know the real numbers.

But 50% of under 25s having antibodies doesn’t seem to point to lockdowns as the main “success” factor.

Nearly A Quarter Of Registered Covid Deaths Are Not Caused By The Virus (DM)

Nearly a quarter of registered Covid-19 deaths are now people who are not being killed by the virus, new official figures show as Boris Johnson comes under renewed pressure from Tory backbenchers to end the third lockdown sooner than planned. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that 23 per cent of coronavirus deaths which are registered are now people who have died ‘with’ the disease rather than ‘from’ an infection. This means that the person who has died will have tested positive for Covid-19 at some point, but that the disease was not recorded as the victim’s primary cause of death on their death certificate. Even though just 23 deaths were announced yesterday, the Prime Minister is continuing to resist calls from his own party to lift all coronavirus curbs ahead of schedule as he warned that cases will rise in the coming weeks as people meet with friends and family in pubs and parks.

Outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail reopened on Monday under the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown. Thousands of people rushed to high streets to splurge their cash on drinks, haircuts and clothes as economists predict a mini-boom fuelled by pent-up demand. However, in his downcast interview with Sky News, Mr Johnson even appeared to dismiss the efficacy of the vaccines his government has been busily rolling out this winter, as he claimed the shutdown – not jabs – had reduced the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths. ‘It is very, very important for everybody to understand that the reduction in these numbers – in hospitalisations and in deaths and in infections – has not been achieved by the vaccination programme,’ he said.

‘People don’t, I think, appreciate that it’s the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement in the pandemic and in the figures that we’re seeing. So yes of course the vaccination programme has helped, but the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown.’ Conservative backbenchers led by Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the Covid Research Group of Tory MPs, have mounted a campaign to get the country opened up sooner than planned.

Boris
https://twitter.com/i/status/1381922550154981377

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A giant PR campaign for Pfizer, that’s all it is, paid for by the state.

More Brands Are Putting Money And Clout Behind Covid-19 Vaccine Ads (F.)

As the Covid-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, well known companies ranging from tech giants to beer brands are rolling out public service announcements to encourage people to get their shot. This past week, The Boston Beer Company debuted a new Sam Adams campaign promoting the vaccine featuring the brand’s “Cousin From Boston” character. The ad—created by the advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein and Partners—shows the “Cousin” getting vaccinated by a real healthcare worker at Fenway Park’s mega site. But right before getting his jab, he passes out from his fear of needles and dreams of the day he can once again meet up with friends at a bar. (Sam Adams is also offering $7 toward a celebratory beer to the first 10,000 people to share proof of vaccination with the hashtag #ShotForSam on social media.)

According to GS&P cofounder Jeff Goodby—the legendary creative behind the iconic “Got Milk” campaign and countless Super Bowl ads—humor is a good way to reach younger audiences, especially after a year as emotionally draining as 2020. “You know what humor did for me is it puts this in perspective,’ Goodby says. “It’s just an inoculation. We’ve had a million of them in our lifetime, and this one is actually for the good of the community around you as well as for yourself and I think we tried to get that across. And it leads to a certain liberation and togetherness. And beer of course, is central to togetherness. One of the great things about getting inoculated is you can drink beer with people.” While Sam Adams went with humor, it wasn’t without first testing the ad to make sure it would be well-received, despite the serious nature of the topic, says Boston Beer Company CMO Lesya Lysyj.

Before introducing the “Cousin” last year, Sam Adams had been taking a more serious tone, even before the pandemic began. “We felt like it was important to show him showing it since he’s so relatable,” Lysyj says. “And if that guy can do it, anybody can do it . . . We did feel like you could put yourself in the shoes of this guy.” Sam Adams isn’t alone in its messaging. In fact The Ad Council—a nonprofit with a long history of collaborating with marketers to create PSAs for a variety of causes—has raised more than $50 million to fund Covid-19 PSAs and other related initiatives with a goal of appealing to a wide audience. To promote mask-wearing, it teamed up with Warner Media and the CDC in February for “Mask Up America,” a PSA featuring characters—from Harry Potter to the Joker to hobbits from Lord of the Rings—all wearing face masks in iconic scenes.

And in March, it released a vaccine PSA featuring former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush. Heidi Arthur, the Ad Council’s chief campaign officer, says the Covid-19 vaccine effort is the most complicated initiative undertaken by the organization, which also led polio vaccine efforts in the 1950s. “The amount of change can happen so quickly as the medical community learns more about the efficacy of vaccines and making sure that all of our messages and the content we’re creating is really where the science is because it can get very confusing for people with the flip of a switch,” she says.

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It’s about your money, not your health.

Big Pharma Uses Big Tobacco’s Strategy To Defeat Ivermectin (DR)

The Marlboro Man, as Dr. Mukherjee wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Emperor of All Maladies, was the most successful smoking icon by 1955. Dr. Mukherjee describes how the Tobacco Industry fought back by twisting science against the public, first by arguing that an association does not prove cause and effect, and later by offering to perform the studies. The tobacco scientists argued that lung cancer was caused by genetics: if you were born with cancer genes, you developed cancer, and if you weren’t, you didn’t get it. Cigarettes might be associated with cancer, but they argued that more studies were needed if one were to actually “prove a causal link” between cigarettes and cancer. The actual cause of lung cancer, the tobacco scientists concluded, was faulty genetics and not cigarettes.

To assist with these studies, the generous Big Tobacco even offered to fund the research by founding the Tobacco Industry Research Committee. The TIRC is described further in The Emperor of All Maladies, a book I strongly recommend everyone read. The author writes how this ingenious strategy kept the tobacco companies in business and record-breaking profits for the next 50 years despite causing many millions of lung cancer deaths. Blurring or confusing the facts as a tactic proved remarkably effective. But by far, the craftiest ruse was for the Tobacco Industry to pretend to embrace the research and set up their own studies. Because by controlling the study design, they could control the outcome. The same strategy is now used against the public in this pandemic.

Their first victim was Hydroxychloroquine, which proved easy to discredit given that Donald Trump sounded unhinged in his praise for the drug. Later studies seemed to reinforce the belief that HCQ was ineffective; however when academic misconduct was found, it threatened to expose the effort. Big Pharma successfully distanced itself when the fraudulent articles were retracted and blamed on lone scientists acting by themselves. Dr. Tess Lawrie is a highly-respected and independent research consultant to the World Health Organization and NHS. Her work is routinely relied upon in the formation of International Practice Guidelines. She has found HCQ to have an effect against the coronavirus. Most tellingly, when Dr. Tess Lawrie performed her independent review of the data on Ivermectin, she removed the Fonseca study, which purported to show no benefit against COVID with Ivermectin use.

Dr. Lawrie explained, “They (The Fonseca Group) didn’t find that much of a difference between Ivermectin and the control arm. But the control arm received HCQ. So basically, there’s a comparison between two fairly active treatments.” Dr. Lawrie explained that there were many reasons to consider HCQ active against the virus. Thus, two patient groups were compared in Fonseca, both of which received effective drugs against COVID-19, and this was not considered a valid controlled trial of Ivermectin. Therefore the study was eliminated from the meta-analysis.

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Stay away from Bill.

How Bill Gates Impeded Global Access to Covid Vaccines (TNR)

In April [2020], Bill Gates launched a bold bid to manage the world’s scientific response to the pandemic. Gates’s Covid-19 ACT-Accelerator expressed a status quo vision for organizing the research, development, manufacture, and distribution of treatments and vaccines. Like other Gates-funded institutions in the public health arena, the Accelerator was a public-private partnership based on charity and industry enticements. Crucially, and in contrast to the C-TAP, the Accelerator enshrined Gates’s long-standing commitment to respecting exclusive intellectual property claims. Its implicit arguments—that intellectual property rights won’t present problems for meeting global demand or ensuring equitable access, and that they must be protected, even during a pandemic—carried the enormous weight of Gates’s reputation as a wise, beneficent, and prophetic leader.


How he’s developed and wielded this influence over two decades is one of the more consequential and underappreciated shapers of the failed global response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Entering year two, this response has been defined by a zero-sum vaccination battle that has left much of the world on the losing side. Gates’s marquee Covid-19 initiative started relatively small. Two days before the WHO declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced something called the Therapeutics Accelerator, a joint initiative with Mastercard and the charity group the Wellcome Trust to identify and develop potential treatments for the novel coronavirus. Doubling as a social branding exercise for a giant of global finance, the Accelerator reflected Gates’s familiar formula of corporate philanthropy, which he has applied to everything from malaria to malnutrition.

In retrospect, it was a strong indicator that Gates’s dedication to monopoly medicine would survive the pandemic, even before he and his foundation’s officers began to say so publicly. This was confirmed when a bigger version of the Accelerator was unveiled the following month at the WHO. The Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, or ACT-Accelerator, was Gates’s bid to organize the development and distribution of everything from therapeutics to testing. The biggest and most consequential arm, COVAX, proposed to subsidize vaccine deals with poor countries through donations by, and sales to, richer ones. The goal was always limited: It aimed to provide vaccines for up to 20 percent of the population in low-to-middle-income countries. After that, governments would largely have to compete on the global market like everyone else. It was a partial demand-side solution to what the movement coalescing around a call for a “people’s vaccine” warned would be a dual crisis of supply and access, with intellectual property at the center of both.

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“Over 40,000 people and 15,000 units of military equipment and weapons will be deployed on Russia’s western border in the near future..”

“In the spring of this year, the joint armed forces of NATO began the largest exercise in the last 30 years, Defender Europe 2021..”

Russia Accuses US, NATO Of Moving Troops To Its Border (AA)

The US is moving its troops to Russia’s borders, a top Russian official said on Tuesday. Over 40,000 people and 15,000 units of military equipment and weapons will be deployed on Russia’s western border in the near future, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said in a video conference with other military chiefs in the northern city of Severodvinsk. “In Poland and the Baltic states, US forces are being reinforced … the intensity of aerial reconnaissance has been doubled compared to last year, and the intensity of naval reconnaissance has increased by one-and-a-half times,” he said.


The minister accused the US and its allies of carrying out active military activities “with a clear anti-Russian orientation,” including up to 40 major military training events in Europe every year. “In the spring of this year, the joint armed forces of NATO began the largest exercise in the last 30 years, Defender Europe 2021,” he said. According to Shoygu, Russia redeployed two army and three airborne units to its western border “to counter the threat.”

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This is propaganda theater. It’s very obviously NATO that’s escalating tensions.

Biden Urges Russia To De-Escalate Ukraine Tensions In Call With Putin (G.)

In a phone call with Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden has called on Russia to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine and proposed a summit between the two leaders amid growing concern over a Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s border. The president emphasized the United States’s unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and expressed concern about Russia’s military buildup, the White House said. “President Biden reaffirmed his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia consistent with US interests, and proposed a summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia.” Biden expressed concern about Russia’s military buildup in the Crimea region of Ukraine and on Ukraine’s border, the White House said in a statement.


It said Biden also made clear that the United States will act “firmly” to defend its national interests in response to Russia’s actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference. Biden also proposed holding a summit with Putin in a third country in coming months. The phone call came hours after Nato’s secretary general called on Russia to halt its military buildup around Ukraine, describing it as “unjustified, unexplained and deeply concerning”. Flanked by Ukraine’s foreign minister at a press conference on Tuesday morning, Nato’s Jens Stoltenberg said Russia had moved thousands of combat troops to Ukraine’s borders in “the largest massing of Russian troops since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014”.

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“The trend in the behavior of the Ukrainian side creates the risk of a resumption of full-scale military action.”

Russia Warns US Warships To Stay Far Away From Crimea “For Their Own Good” (ZH)

At a moment the United States appears poised to send its warships near Ukraine as a strong ‘deterrent message’ against Russian forces built up near the east Ukrainian border, Russia on Tuesday warned that US vessels better stay away from Crimea “for their own good”. A Kremlin statement further called the new US deployment into the Black Sea a serious “provocation” which serves no other purpose but to test Russia’s “strength” and “nerves”. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov issued the Tuesday warning as follows: “There is absolutely nothing for American ships to be doing near our shores, this is purely a provocative action. Provocative in the direct sense of the word: they are testing our strength, playing on our nerves. They will not succeed.”

“We warn the United States that it will be better for them to stay far away from Crimea and our Black Sea coast. It will be for their own good,” he added. It was late last week that Turkey’s foreign ministry confirmed that it’s granted permission for US warships to use the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits to enter the Black Sea. The Pentagon has downplayed the deployment by keeping mostly mum about it, only saying that it’s “routine” for US warships to patrol the Black Sea. The Kremlin has warned that it’s Kiev’s own actions and initial troop build-up in and near Donbass that is risking “broader war” in the region. Days ago Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “The trend in the behavior of the Ukrainian side creates the risk of a resumption of full-scale military action.”

Russia’s newest warning that US ships better not come near Crimea likely also have in mind Joe Biden’s first words addressing the long-simmering Ukraine crisis issued early in his presidency. He said in a February 26 statement that the US “will never” recognize Russia’s claims over Crimea: The United States does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of the peninsula, and we will stand with Ukraine against Russia’s aggressive acts. We will continue to work to hold Russia accountable for its abuses and aggression in Ukraine.

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Trump wanted to do it but got obstructed by the Pentagon. So Biden can get all the glory. On 9/11, no less. Oh boy.

“The president has judged that a conditions based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever.”

No, seriously, that’s not about Trump, it’s about Biden. Don’t try to make this up at home, they have professionals to do it for you.

Biden To Withdraw US Troops From Afghanistan By September 11 (G.)

Joe Biden will withdraw all the remaining US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaida terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, a senior administration official has confirmed. The president is expected to make a formal announcement on Wednesday. There are currently about 2,500 US troops in the country, serving alongside 7,000 other foreign troops as part of a Nato coalition. Most, if not all, Nato allies are likely to withdraw in coordination with the US. “We will remain in lockstep with them as we undergo this operation. We went in together, adjusted together and now we will prepare to leave together,” a US official said. The drawdown of US troops will begin by 1 May, the withdrawal deadline the Trump administration agreed with the Taliban last year, and will be completed by the 9/11 anniversary.

“We went to Afghanistan to deliver justice to those who attacked us on September 11th and to disrupt terrorists seeking to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to attack,” a senior administration official said. “We believe we achieved that objective some years ago. We judge the threat against the homeland now emanating from Afghanistan to be at a level that we can address it, without a persistent military footprint in the country and without remaining at war with the Taliban.” The only remaining US military presence after September 11 this year will be security for the US embassy, a task normally carried out by marines. The Biden administration has said it will negotiate with the Afghan government over the precise security arrangements for the diplomatic mission in Kabul.

About 800,000 US soldiers and other military personnel have served at least once in Afghanistan since the US invasion in 2001, launched in the wake of the September 11 attacks. More than 2,300 have been killed, and 20,000 wounded. The US military orthodoxy until recently has been that any withdrawal from Afghanistan would have to be “conditions based”, meaning it was dependent on the security situation and the threat posed by the Taliban to the democratic and social gains of the past 20 years. The senior US official briefing reporters on the decision said: “The president has judged that a conditions based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever.”

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“$23.4 billion in sophisticated weaponry”, but only after commitments to human rights.

Joe Biden Is Proceeding With Donald Trump’s Biggest Arms Deal (HuffPo)

President Joe Biden is advancing controversial Trump-era plans to transfer $23.4 billion in sophisticated weaponry to the United Arab Emirates, a State Department spokesperson told HuffPost on Tuesday – despite concerns from influential lawmakers and progressive activists, as well as the Biden administration’s promise to review the package. The news came amid an ongoing lawsuit by a nonprofit group called the New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs, which echoed criticism of the deal as potentially destabilizing for the Middle East. “While we will not comment on ongoing litigation, we can confirm that that the Administration intends to move forward with these proposed defense sales to the UAE, even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials to ensure we have developed mutual understandings with respect to Emirati obligations before, during, and after delivery,” the spokesperson said.

Last December, nearly all Senate Democrats voted to try and block the sale, citing President Donald Trump’s rushed attempt to push it through and the UAE’s alarming violations of human rights at home and around the region. Biden put the deal – which would give the UAE the F-35 fighter jet, armed drones and associated bombs and missiles — under review shortly after becoming president. The administration has since been vague about that process. The transfers are incredibly complex and will take years to complete, so it was clear that they were not occurring yet. In January, an official told the Wall Street Journal that the UAE sales “were not frozen while they are being examined” – in contrast to Trump-era arms deals for Saudi Arabia, a UAE ally which has also faced growing criticism in Washington.

Still, many observers believed there was an effective pause on the deal and that at some point the administration would offer a public explanation of how it would handle the agreement. Democratic lawmakers and activists, who opposed to the deal because of the UAE’s aggressive activities across the Middle East, wanted to ensure the Biden administration was serious about the review, to the extent of possibly shrinking the package to pressure the Emiratis to respect human rights standards. U.S. officials will continue raising rights and geopolitical concerns with the Emiratis, the State Department spokesperson told HuffPost. “The estimated delivery dates on these sales, if implemented, are scheduled for after 2025 or later. Thus, we anticipate a robust and sustained dialogue with the UAE to [ensure] any defense transfers meet our mutual strategic objectives to build a stronger, interoperable, and more capable security partnership,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

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“..what of the Times’s cautions over decades that the most common sort of election fraud involves absentee voting?”

The Absentee Vote Logic of the New York Times (RCI)

To pass a law limiting the use of absentee ballots, as Georgia recently did, is no longer to choose a side in a legitimate debate over how to balance ballot integrity and ease of voting. Instead, to express concern about the risk of election fraud is seen as being engaged in a different sort of fraud — an illegitimate effort to disenfranchise the poor and minorities. The New York Times has aggressively insisted the last several months that worries over absentee and mail-in ballots, in particular, are dishonest violations of voting rights. Times staff opinion editor Spencer Bokat-Lindell wrote late in October that “[t]he effort to discredit and discourage mail-in voting” was the “culmination of a decades-long disinformation campaign by the Republican Party and others to suppress votes, especially those cast by Black and Latino Americans.”

Spencer Bokat-Lindell: Times opinion editor: Efforts to discredit mail voting are aimed at suppressing votes, “especially those cast by Black and Latino Americans.” Then what of the Times’s cautions over decades that the most common sort of election fraud involves absentee voting? But what of the Times itself, which for over two decades has warned readers that the most common sort of election fraud involves absentee voting? As recently as September, Times reporters Stephanie Saul and Reid Epstein quoted Richard Hasen, who teaches election law at the University of California, Irvine, saying that “[e]lection fraud in the United States is very rare, but the most common type of such fraud in the United States involves absentee ballots.”

In 2018 operatives working for the Republican candidate for North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District seat, falsified absentee ballots. Times reporters Alan Blinder and Michael Wines told readers that the state’s long history of election fraud was “under a spotlight.” They quoted lawyer Bill Gilkeson saying that “absentee ballots” were “where the fraud really happens.” In 2019 Blinder wrote, “The Ninth District controversy ranks among the highest-profile examples of modern election fraud,” one that “underscores how absentee ballots remain susceptible to abuse.”

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What comes below fake news on the scale?

CNN Staffer Admits Network’s Focus Was To ‘Get Trump Out Of Office’ (Fox)

A staffer for CNN spoke candidly to an undercover journalist about the political motivations the network had during the 2020 presidential election, boasting the left-leaning outlet helped defeat former President Donald Trump and even calling his own employer “propaganda.” In the first installment of what’s billed as a three-part #ExposeCNN campaign from the right-wing guerilla news outlet Project Veritas, network technical director Charles Chester shed light on how the network wanted to remove its nemesis from the White House and help now-President Biden. “Look at what we did, we got Trump out,” Chester said in a celebratory tone. “I am 100% going to say it. And I 100% believe it that if it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have got voted out.”

While similar videos are sometimes deceptively edited and taken out of context, many comments made by Chester throughout the video are longer clips that feature him speaking in clear, complete sentences. In a series of sitdowns with an undercover journalist over the past month, Chester — who bragged he was “one step down” from a director — claimed CNN was “creating a story” that questioned Trump’s health that “we didn’t know anything about,” calling it “propaganda” to help remove Trump from office. “Trump was, I don’t know, like shaking his hand or whatever… we brought in like so many medical people to like all tell a story that, like, it was all speculation that he was like neurologically damaged, that he was losing it, he’s unfit to, you know, whatever,” Chester said. “We were creating a story that we didn’t know anything about.”

While Chester claimed CNN wanted to help remove Trump from office, he also said the network wanted to promote the health and fitness of Biden. “We would always show shots of him jogging… him in his aviator shades and like you paint him as a young geriatric,” Chester said of Biden, before dismissing concerns that he wouldn’t make it a full term because he’s a fan of Vice President Kamala Harris. “I think we got him through this term,” Chester said “He’s not going to f—–g die, but I’m OK with that. [Harris] probably could be like a b—-h in like a board meeting and you’d hate her as a boss, but she’s f—–g real and better than what we got regardless.”

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“It would certainly send a message that the government sees this as a superior alternative to their own currency.”

Crackdown On Cryptocurrencies May Be Coming, Warns Kraken CEO (RT)

Governments around the world could start clamping down on the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, according to Jesse Powell, the chief executive of the Kraken exchange. “I think there could be some crackdown,” the CEO told CNBC, adding that regulatory uncertainty around crypto isn’t going away anytime soon. Powell’s words follow a recent anti-money laundering rule proposed by the US government that would require people who hold their cryptocurrencies in a private digital wallet to undergo identity checks if they make transactions of $3,000 or more. “Something like that could really hurt crypto and kind of kill the original use case, which was to just make financial services accessible to everyone,” Powell said.


He expressed hopes that “the US and international regulators don’t take too much of a narrow view on this,” noting that “Some other countries, China especially, are taking crypto very seriously and taking a very long-term view.” The chief executive said he feels the US is more “shortsighted” than other nations and is “susceptible” to the pressures of incumbent legacy businesses – in other words, the banks – that “stand to lose from crypto becoming a big deal.” “I also think it might be too late,” Powell added. “Maybe the genie’s out of the bottle and just trying to ban it at this point would make it more attractive. It would certainly send a message that the government sees this as a superior alternative to their own currency.

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The CIA will stop it. Big Tech=Big Intel.

Republican Antitrust Bill Would Block All Big Tech Acquisitions (TC)

There are about to be a lot of antitrust bills taking aim at Big Tech, and here’s one more. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) rolled out a new bill this week that would take some severe measures to rein in Big Tech’s power, blocking mergers and acquisitions outright. The “Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act” would ban any acquisitions by companies with a market cap of more than $100 billion, including vertical mergers. The bill also proposes changes that would dramatically heighten the financial pain for companies caught engaging in anti-competitive behavior, forcing any company that loses an antirust suit to forfeit profits made through those business practices.

At its core, Hawley’s legislation would snip some of the red tape around antitrust enforcement by amending the Sherman Act, which made monopolies illegal, and the Clayton Act, which expanded the scope of illegal anti-competitive behavior. The idea is to make it easier for the FTC and other regulators to deem a company’s behavior anti-competitive — a key criticism of the outdated antitrust rules that haven’t kept pace with the realities of the tech industry. The bill isn’t likely to get too far in a Democratic Senate, but it’s not insignificant. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who chairs the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee, proposed legislation earlier this year that would also create barriers for dominant companies with a habit of scooping up their competitors. Klobuchar’s own ideas for curtailing Big Tech’s power similarly focus on reforming the antitrust laws that have shaped U.S. business for more than a century.

The Republican bill may have some overlap with Democratic proposals, but it still hits some familiar notes from the Trump era of hyperpartisan Big Tech criticism. Hawley slams “woke mega-corporations” in Silicon Valley for exercising too much power over the information and products that Americans consume. While Democrats naturally don’t share that critique, Hawley’s bill makes it clear that antitrust reform targeting Big Tech is one policy area where both political parties could align on the ends, even if they don’t see eye to eye on the why.

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“In Mexico City, the local government has proposed a law that would ban the sale, delivery and distribution of packaged foods with a high caloric and energy content and sugary drinks to children..”

Mexico’s War on Obesity Sends Junk-Food & Sugary-Drink Giants Scrambling (WS)

Since Mexico’s government has passed one of the strictest food labeling laws on the planet in October last year, all soft drinks cans and bottles, bags of chips and other processed food packages must bear black octagonal labels warning of “EXCESS SUGAR”, “EXCESS CALORIES”, “EXCESS SODIUM” or “EXCESS TRANS FATS” — all in big bold letters that are impossible to miss. Many states have also introduced legislation making it much more difficult for retailers to sell junk food and sugary drinks to children. Evidence from other countries suggests that warning labels can be effective. Chile started requiring them in 2016. It also limited cartoon food packaging, prevented schools from selling unhealthy foods, restricted TV adverts, and banned promotional toys.

Over the next two years, sugary drink sales in Chile plunged by 23%. According to one study, the labels reduced the likelihood of people choosing sugary breakfast cereals by 11% and sugary juices by almost 24%. A nightmare for the companies affected. The prospect of something similar transpiring in Mexico, a country almost seven times larger than Chile and that consumes more processed food than any other country in Latin America, unnerved global food and beverage companies. The United States, EU, Canada and Switzerland, home to some of the world’s biggest food companies, tried to derail the new legislation. But to no avail. The arrival of Covid-19, which has proven to be particularly lethal to people with three comorbidities — obesity, diabetes, and hypertension — has strengthened the government’s case and resolve.

Over a dozen of Mexico’s 36 state governments have banned or are in the process of banning the sales of soft drinks and junk food to children. In Mexico City, the local government has proposed a law that would ban the sale, delivery and distribution of packaged foods with a high caloric and energy content and sugary drinks to children. The law will also ban the presence of soft drink vending machines in schools. Mexico’s Senate also recently passed a law that will compel educational authorities to prohibit the sale of foods with low nutritional value and high caloric content in the vicinity of school facilities while promoting the establishment of healthy food outlets. There are also moves afoot to restrict the advertising of foods high in fat, salt, sugar and saturated fats on children’s television channels.

These moves have raised concerns that the government is overstepping its bounds. The business lobby group Coparmex said that banning the sale of junk food and sugary drinks to minors represents a frontal attack on commercial freedom and freedom of choice. It will also have serious economic consequences for businesses in the retail sector. But those consequences are dwarfed by the economic and health impact of widespread obesity. This is particularly true in the time of Covid when the risk of death from the virus is about 10 times higher in countries where more than half of the population is overweight, according to a report released in March by the World Obesity Federation.

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Either our bodies find a way to incorporate plastics, or we’re doomed.

Airborne Plastic Pollution ‘Spiralling Around The Globe’ (G.)

Microplastic pollution is now “spiralling around the globe”, according to a study of airborne plastic particles. The researchers said human pollution has led to a global plastic cycle, akin to natural processes such as the carbon cycle, with plastic moving through the atmosphere, oceans and land. The result is the “plastification” of the planet, said one scientist. The analysis calls plastic pollution one of the most pressing environmental issues of the 21st century. It indicates that the billions of tonnes of plastic discarded into the oceans and land and being broken down into tiny pieces are being thrown back into the air by road traffic and winds over seas and farmland. People are already known to breathe, drink and eat microplastics and the other research suggests levels of pollution will continue to rise rapidly.

The scientists said this “raises questions on the impact of accumulating plastics in the atmosphere on human health. The inhalation of particles can be irritating to lung tissue and lead to serious diseases.” Prof Natalie Mahowald, at Cornell University in the US and part of the research team, said: “What we’re seeing right now is the accumulation of mismanaged plastics just going up. Some people think it’s going to increase by tenfold [per decade]. “But maybe we could solve this before it becomes a huge problem, if we manage our plastics better, before they accumulate in the environment and swirl around everywhere.” She said clearing up ocean plastic could help reduce the amount that gets thrown back up into the atmosphere, and that more biodegradable plastics could be part of the solution.

The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined airborne microplastics, which have been far less studied than plastic in oceans and rivers. The team had more than 300 samples of airborne microplastics from 11 sites across the western US, the best dataset available globally. These were the basis for atmospheric modelling that estimated the contribution from different sources, the first such study to do so. Virtually none of the airborne microplastics came directly from plastic being discarded in cities and towns, the scientists found, but were the result of road traffic and winds across oceans and farmland whipping up plastic particles already in the environment. “We thought population centres would be a much better source, obviously, but it just didn’t work out that way,” Mahowald said. “Resuspension [of microplastics] makes the most sense with this set of data.”

[..] Microplastic pollution has been detected across the planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans. The revelation in December of small plastic particles in human placentas was described by scientists as “a matter of great concern”.

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Mick Jagger’s take on Covid. Easy Sleazy. With Dave Grohl.

 

 

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Nov 132020
 


Pablo Picasso Les femmes d’Alger 1955

 

PA Court: Secretary Of State Lacked Authority To Change Voting Deadline (Fox)
Michigan State Senators Request Full Election Audit (ET)
Trump’s New Pentagon Sets Up Clash Over Afghanistan Pullout (Pol.)
Trump Could Be Banned From Twitter After He Leaves Office (Ind.)
Obama: ‘Americans Spooked By Black Man In White House’ (JTN)
This Is What Happens To Us When The Great Global Reset Comes (Kitco)
Three-Quarters Of England’s Care Workers Earn Below ‘Real’ Living Wage (G.)
Unemployment Fiasco in Europe Is Kept out of Official Rates (WS)
Introduction to The New Economics: A Manifesto (Steve Keen)
Watch This! (Dmitry Orlov)

 

 

Prof Appel Dominion

 

 

 

 

Limited impact.

PA Court: Secretary Of State Lacked Authority To Change Voting Deadline (Fox)

A Pennsylvania judge ruled in favor of the Trump campaign Thursday, ordering that the state may not count ballots where the voters needed to provide proof of identification and failed to do so by Nov. 9. State law said that voters have until six days after the election — this year that was Nov. 9 — to cure problems regarding a lack of proof of identification. After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that mail-in ballots could be accepted three days after Election Day, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar submitted guidance that said proof of identification could be provided up until Nov. 12, which is six days from the ballot acceptance deadline. That guidance was issued two days before Election Day.


“[T]he Court concludes that Respondent Kathy Boockvar, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Commonwealth, lacked statutory authority to issue the November 1, 2020, guidance to Respondents County Boards of Elections insofar as that guidance purported to change the deadline … for certain electors to verify proof of identification,” Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt said in a court order. This was in line with the Trump campaign’s argument, which was that there was no basis in the state’s law to extend the identification deadline, and that Boockvar did not have the power to unilaterally change it. The court had previously ordered that all ballots where voters provided proof of identification between Nov. 10 and 12 should be segregated until a ruling was issued determining what should be done with them.

Matt Gaetz: Dead people don’t always vote. But when they do, they prefer to vote by mail.

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“Every citizen deserves to have faith in the integrity of the election process and its outcome..”

Michigan State Senators Request Full Election Audit (ET)

At least two Michigan Republican state senators have requested a full election audit, asking the Michigan secretary of state’s office for a full recount before the election results are certified, according to a letter they sent to her office on Thursday. State senators Lana Theis and Tom Barrett wrote that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and canvassers that are reviewing allegations of irregularities and voter fraud made in lawsuits filed by President Donald Trump’s campaign. They are requesting a “full audit” of the election, saying it needs to be done before the state certifies the election results. “Every citizen deserves to have faith in the integrity of the election process and its outcome,” they said in letters.

“It is our responsibility, as elected public servants, to assure the people of Michigan of the process’s integrity through complete transparency and the faithful investigation of any allegations of wrongdoing, fraud, or abuse.” Their letters made reference to allegations made by Trump’s legal team, claims of witnesses about irregularities at polls, and a glitch that switched 6,000 votes from a Republican official to a Democratic official in Antrim County that was later corrected and acknowledged by the secretary of state’s office, although the Michigan GOP said the same software – Dominion Voting Systems – was used in dozens of other counties.

“The erroneous reporting of unofficial results from Antrim county was a result of accidental error on the part of the Antrim County Clerk. The equipment and software did not malfunction and all ballots were properly tabulated. However, the clerk accidentally did not update the software used to collect voting machine data and report unofficial results,” Benson said in a statement last week about Antrim County’s election results. Other allegations from the two lawmakers include ineligible ballots being counted, poll workers being told to backdate ballots, counting the same ballots several times, and other claims.

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The shameless backlash against bringing the troops home is stunning.

Trump’s New Pentagon Sets Up Clash Over Afghanistan Pullout (Pol.)

President Donald Trump’s decapitation strike on the Pentagon this week is raising fears that the U.S. will accelerate the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, putting newly installed leaders on a collision course with top generals and others who are urging a more deliberate drawdown. Current and former administration officials say Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper Monday in part over his opposition to accelerating troop drawdowns worldwide, and especially in Afghanistan. The upheaval accelerated on Tuesday with the resignation of three high-level civilians and the installation of loyalists who are expected to ram through Trump’s agenda, and continued on Wednesday when retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, an outspoken critic of the war in Afghanistan, was brought on as senior adviser to new acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller.

Any move to accelerate withdrawals would set up a clash with the nation’s top generals and other civilians, who have argued publicly against leaving Afghanistan too quickly while the security situation remains volatile. It would also complicate President-elect Joe Biden’s pledge to leave a small number of troops in the country to guard against terror attacks.

“A precipitous and what appears to be near total withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan — not on a conditions-based approach advocated by our military, political and intelligence leadership but rather on an old campaign promise by President Trump now carried out by hyperpartisan Trump loyalists installed in a last-minute purge of DoD — is both reckless and will not make America safer,” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired CIA senior operations officer. Concerns are also growing within the national security community that the personnel churn portends other major policy shifts, such as military actions abroad and in the U.S. Yet current and former administration officials believe the moves were more about rewarding allies and punishing those who resisted the president’s agenda than they were about major changes in direction.

Read more …

And the New York Times will stop writing about him?

Trump Could Be Banned From Twitter After He Leaves Office (Ind.)

Donald Trump will no longer be protected by Twitter’s public interest guidelines when he leaves office in January, meaning he will be suspended or banned if he continues to break the platform’s rules. Twitter’s policy regarding public figures, which was formalised last year, means only “current or potential member of a local, state, national, or supra-national governmental or legislative body” receive special treatment . The US President’s Twitter account was flagged more than a dozen times in the days following the election for posting misinformation and misleading claims about the election. Several prominent Democrats called for Twitter to suspend Mr Trump’s account until all states finish counting the votes, however the platform’s public interest guidelines prevent it from being suspended or removed.


After his lead in several key states began to dwindle to challenger Joe Biden, Mr Trump attempted to undermine the electoral process by calling for a halt to the counting of mail-in ballots. “They are trying to STEAL the Election,” he tweeted. Democratic Congressman David Cicilline described Mr Trump’s tweets as a “threat to democracy”, while fellow congressman Gerry Connolly tweeted, “This is pure disinformation.” Warnings placed on Mr Trump’s tweets meant they were not immediately visible on his timeline and engagement with the tweets was restricted. One warning explained: “Some or all of the content shared in this tweet is disputed and might be misleading about how to participate in an election or another civic process.” The rate of violations would typically lead to an account suspension, either temporarily or permanently. However, public figures are protected by a “public-interest exception” policy.

Read more …

Not by his politics?

Oh well, Barry has a new book out.

Obama: ‘Americans Spooked By Black Man In White House’ (JTN)

Just before President George W. Bush left the White House after two terms, he declared he wouldn’t be weighing in with thoughts on his successor, following the model of his father, George H.W. Bush. But Barack Obama made no such pledge. And now, just days after the 2020 election, the 44th president is hawking a new book so get ready to hear a lot more from him. Obama, the first biracial man to be elected president, makes an incendiary charge in his book, “A Promise Land,” which comes out Tuesday. President Trump, he claims, “promised an elixir for the racial anxiety” of “millions of Americans spooked by a black man in the White House.”

Those Americans – whom Obama implies appear racist – were prey to “the dark spirits that had long been lurking on the edges of the modern Republican party – xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, paranoid conspiracy theories, an antipathy toward black and brown folks.” Obama continues: “It was as if my very presence in the White House had triggered a deep-seated panic, a sense that the natural order had been disrupted. Which is exactly what Donald Trump understood when he started peddling assertions that I had not been born in the United States and was thus an illegitimate president.” Obama writes that “he came to regard Trump’s media ubiquity and characteristic shamelessness as merely an exaggerated version of the Republican Party’s attempts to appeal to White Americans’ anxieties about the first Black president – a sentiment he said ‘had migrated from the fringe of GOP politics to the center – an emotional, almost visceral, reaction to my presidency, distinct from any differences in policy or ideology,'” CNN reported.

The 768-page memoir is reportedly just volume one of his latest memoirs. Obama also writes about his shortcomings, like his failure to pass immigration reform, which he called “a bitter pill to swallow.” But he said his agenda was always correct, though voters swept out a slew of Democrats in the 2010 midterm election, two years into his presidency. “As far as I was concerned, the election didn’t prove our agenda had been wrong,” Obama writes of 2010. “It just proved that … I’d failed to rally the nation, as FDR had once done, behind what I knew to be right. Which to me was just as damning.”

Read more …

“..we have created so much debt and this is a worldwide phenomenon, so we can’t have normal interest rates anymore”

This Is What Happens To Us When The Great Global Reset Comes (Kitco)

We’re in the end game of a dollar-based system, and a new monetary system will emerge with gold as the anchor, said Willem Middelkoop, founder of the the Commodity Discovery Fund. “We’re in a rough period. It doesn’t matter which president will be next, he can only avoid a deep depression by printing trillions and trillions. As an investor, we concentrate on that part of the story,” he said. Fixing the fundamental problems in our economy, including excessive debt, will require more than just a continuation of past policies. “I think we have created so much debt and this is a worldwide phenomenon, so we can’t have normal interest rates anymore. We have seen the IMF coming out with a statement last week saying that we need a new Bretton Woods moment,” he said.


“We had a cover on Time magazine calling for the Great Reset. We had the World Economic Forum calling for a Great Reset. I wrote a book on the topic, published in 2014, it was called The Big Reset.” A new global system will require an overhaul of many monetary pillars that we currently have, Middelkoop noted. “We need a debt restructuring. IMF and the United Nations have been quite clear about that; we need debt restructuring first for the poor countries but later for the rich countries, we all have too much debt on our books. We need to find a new anchor for the world monetary system,” he said. Until then, trillions more in stimulus will be issued by governments around the world to avoid a global depression like that of the 1930’s, Middelkoop said.

Read more …

Without COVID, this would have gotten zero attention.

Three-Quarters Of England’s Care Workers Earn Below ‘Real’ Living Wage (G.)

Almost three-quarters of frontline care workers in England are earning below the “real” living wage, which experts say is the bare minimum to allow families basics such as a secondhand car and a week’s annual UK self-catering holiday, research has revealed. The proportion of care workers below the threshold is even higher in northern areas, where care homes have been hit hardest by Covid-19. In the north-east, 82% of care staff earned less than the England-wide real living wage of £9.50 per hour, while the proportion was 78% in the north-west. One care worker in Lancashire earning £8.72 per hour who recently had her pay cut told the Guardian some colleagues have been using food banks.

The figures apply to more than 832,000 frontline care workers, more than 600,000 of whom are earning below the minimum thresholds. In Hillingdon, the borough that contains Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip parliamentary constituency, more than 3,000 care workers earn so little that if they are the main breadwinner in a family of four with their partner on similar wages, they could not afford the £112 a week they require for food, according to analysis by Loughborough University that underpins real living wage calculation. When Johnson was London mayor he supported the London living wage campaign as “making economic sense”.

The figures were calculated by the Living Wage Foundation and come amid growing calls for reform of the social care sector to create parity with the NHS, where all nurses earn above the threshold. On Thursday, Jeremy Hunt, the chairman of the Commons health and social care committee, called for a 10-year funding plan for social care akin to the national consensus that established the NHS in 1948. New polling revealed 82% of the public now back government investment in social care to fund a pay rise for care workers according to new polling by Survation for Citizens UK.

Read more …

But what are the true rates?

Unemployment Fiasco in Europe Is Kept out of Official Rates (WS)

In Europe, people who are furloughed are paid under government programs via their employers. Many of these programs have been created during the Pandemic. In theory, these people still have jobs. In practice, they’re not working, or are working heavily reduced hours. But they do not count as “unemployed” and are not reflected in the “unemployment” numbers. So throughout the Pandemic, the official unemployment rates barely ticked up, compared to the last crisis, and remain low for the EU era, despite tens of millions of people who’d stopped working due to the lockdowns (chart via Eurostat):

The UK adopted a sweeping job retention program at the beginning of its last lockdown. Each government pays companies, who in turn pay employees between 60% and 84% of their monthly wage. In some cases, the workers work fewer hours for less pay; in others, they don’t work at all. The workers take a hit to their income but their jobs remain intact, at least for the duration of the program. Under the UK program, businesses can claim 80% of a staff member’s regular monthly salary, up to a maximum of £2,500. The money must be passed on to the employee and can also be topped up by the employer.


But the unemployment rate has begun to rise as people come off furlough, and those whose jobs disappeared entered official unemployment. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.8% in the three months to September, from 4.5% in Q2 and from 3.9% a year earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In London, the unemployment rate surged by 1.2 percentage points from the previous quarter, to 6%. It was the largest quarterly increase in unemployment since the ONS started tracking the data in 1992.

Read more …

“I’m writing a book for Polity Press entitled The New Economics: A Manifesto. It has a long way to go, but this is the reasonably complete first chapter.”

Introduction to The New Economics: A Manifesto (Steve Keen)

Even before the Covid-19 crisis began, the global economy was not in good shape, and nor was economic theory. The biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression began late in first decade of the 21st century. Called the “Global Financial Crisis” (GFC) in most of the world and the “Great Recession” in the USA, it saw unemployment explode from 4.6% of the US workforce in early 2007 to 10% in late 2009. Inflation turn into deflation— inflation of 5.6% in mid-2008 fell to minus 2% per year in mid-2009—and the stock market collapsed, with the S&P500 Index falling from 1500 in mid-2007 to under 750 in early 2009. The economy recovered very slowly after then, under the influence of an unprecedented range of government interventions, from the “cash for clunkers” scheme that encouraged consumers to dump old cars and buy new ones, to “Quantitative Easing”, where the Federal Reserve purchased a trillion-dollars-worth of bonds from the financial sector every year, in an attempt to stimulate the economy by making the wealthy wealthier.

This crisis surprised both the policy economists who advise governments on economic policy, and the academic who develop the theories and write the textbooks that train the vast majority of new economists. They had expected a continuation of the boom conditions that had preceded the crisis, and they in fact believed that crises could not occur. In his Presidential Address to the American Economic Association in January 2003, Nobel Prize winner Robert Lucas declared that crises like the Great Depression could never occur again because “Macroeconomics … has succeeded: Its central problem of depression prevention has been solved, for all practical purposes, and has in fact been solved for many decades. (Lucas 2003 , p. 1 ; emphasis added). Just two months before the crisis began, the Chief Economist of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the world’s premier economic policy body, declared that “the current economic situation is in many ways better than what we have experienced in years”, and predicted that “sustained growth in OECD economies would be underpinned by strong job creation and falling unemployment.” (Cotis 2007 , p. 7; emphases added)

How could they be so wrong? Economists could be excused for this failure to see the Great Recession coming if the crisis were something like Covid-19, when a new pathogen suddenly emerged out of China. That such a plague would occur was predicted as long ago as 1995 (Garrett 1995). But predicting when the pathogen would emerge, let alone what its characteristics would be, was clearly impossible. However, the epicentre of the Great Recession was the US financial system itself: the crisis came from inside the economy, rather than from outside. Surely there were warning signs? As Queen Elizabeth herself put it when she attended a briefing at the London School of Economics in 2008, “If these things were so large, how come everyone missed them?”

Read more …

Good to see Dmitry!

Watch This! (Dmitry Orlov)

I first realized that the USA was going to follow the general trajectory of the USSR back in 1995. I also immediately realized that the USSR was rather well prepared for collapse whereas the USA was about to be blindsided by it, and so, as a public service, I thought I should warn people. “And a fat lot of good that did!” some of you might immediately exclaim. [..] And so I had my “Eureka!” moment in 1995, and a decade later, in 2005, I went public with my observations. I got a surprisingly sympathetic response from some particularly enlightened people (even if they said so themselves). And now, a quarter of a century after my initial insight, as the US enters national bankruptcy and institutional collapse, the whole world is being treated to an end-of-empire spectacular election extravaganza starring none other than the consummate showman and impresario extraordinaire Donald Trump.

He used to run beauty pageants, while this one is more of an ugliness pageant, but then beauty is rare and always fades while ugliness is commonplace and usually just gets uglier, making it a much safer bet. And so let’s accept it as a parting present to the world from a vanishing nation that gave us horror flicks, reality television and three-ring circuses with sideshow freaks. Within the sweeping panoramic tableau of the 2020 election, Trump (our hero) appears bathed in a golden sunset glow of nostalgia for lost American greatness which he forever promises to rekindle. Rest assured, Trump or no Trump, America will never be great again. But Trump’s magic halo extends out from his resplendent orange cranial plumage and enfolds all those who pine for the lost Pax Americana and fear and loathe what America is fast becoming—which is, to put it bluntly, a holding tank for degenerates of every stripe presided over by a freak show.

They pine for a time when men were manly and women womanly, when secretaries were flattered when their bosses took time away from their busy schedules to rub up against them, and when everyone was either a WASP, or worked hard on trying to look and act like one, or kept to their assigned station in life and knew better than to get too uppity. Arrayed against our fearless orange-hued leader, who at 74 is no spring chicken himself, is a ghoulish gaggle of geriatric gerontocrats. There is Joe Biden, 77, whose brain ran away and joined a circus some years ago but who imagines himself to be president-elect, or senator, or vice-president, or something. Having spent eight years lurking in the shadows as Obama’s VP, Biden is as fit to lead as a pig is kosher after rubbing its side against a corner of a synagogue. To assist Biden in his dodderings there is his party-appointed nanny, Kamala Harris, a mere slip of a girl at 56.

Also haunting the balcony of the American mausoleum is Nancy Pelosi, 80, who still runs the House of Representatives even though proper employment for her at this point would be up on a pole keeping the birds off the corn. There is also Bernie Sanders, 79, a sad pagliaccio whose permanent role in the political Commedia dell’Arte that the Democratic Party stages every four years is to simulate democracy by cheerleading crowds of young imbeciles in Act I, to feign death after falling off his pogo stick in Act II, and to stagger to his feet, wave and smile for the curtain call. Last but not least, there is the horrid harpy Hillary Clinton, who is relatively young at 73 but whose putrid smell and cadaverous, ghastly visage are not longer fit for public display except in most delicately contrived circumstances. Hidden even further backstage is the suppurating cadaver of George Soros who, at 90, is still pulling the strings and wreaking havoc in the US and around the world.

Read more …

 

 

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What makes us fragile is that institutions cannot have the same virtues (honor, truthfulness, courage, loyalty, tenacity) as individuals.
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb in The Bed of Procrustes

 

 

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Nov 122020
 
 November 12, 2020  Posted by at 7:28 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Dans l’atelier 1954

 

 

“There is nothing in Afghanistan worth the life of a single American soldier.”

– Douglas Macgregor

 

I’m having a bit of a problem finding the right format for this essay. I want to highlight a whole number of quotes, but I also would like you to read the original setting they came from. Please bear with me.

CNN: “A Pentagon spokesman confirmed Wednesday that retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor “will be serving as a Senior Advisor to the Acting Secretary of Defense. Mr. MacGregor’s decades of military experience will be used to assist in the continued implementation of the President’s national security priorities.”

Also CNN: “Macgregor once advocated for the use of lethal force against unarmed migrants [..] and has made a litany of racist comments.”

I must admit even my encyclopedic brain had never heard of Macgregor, and I’m sure most of you hadn’t either, but I’m taking a liking to the man. “The use of lethal force against unarmed migrants” sounds bogus off the bat, that’s “Putin eats babies” territory, and accusing someone of “a litany of racist comments” without naming even one, doesn’t do it for me either.

And even then. The man wants to bring US troops home. Oh wait, but that’s why you accuse him of all these unsubstantiated “facts”. Gotcha. What I do know is for instance this Nov 6 2019 interview Macgregor did with Tucker Carlson, in which he sounds like a reasonable yet worried man. And while opinions may differ on how big of a threat drug cartels may be to the US, his view appears to have its merit.

 

 

Macgregor Nov 6 2019 interview with Tucker Carlson
https://twitter.com/i/status/1192276635426279424

 

 

But then the press come in. We can’t have troop withdrawals (though a vast majority of Americans wants to bring the troops home). So let’s start by labeling Macgregor “divisive”. What does that mean? That he doesn’t agree with “official” military policy. What is that policy? Warmongering. Keeping troops in Afghanistan for 18 years. If Biden ever becomes president, will he bow to that policy and start sending US troops back in?

This here is from Axios. And all I can think is: what ever happened to journalism? My comments below.

Divisive Pentagon Hire May Rush Troop Withdrawals Before Trump’s Exit

President Trump’s newly installed acting Pentagon chief is bringing on a senior adviser in a sign the administration wants to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East before the end of his presidency in January, three people familiar with the move told Axios. A senior administration official says a wave of firings at the Pentagon and the hiring of Ret. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor is in part a settling of Trump’s personal scores — but senior White House officials also have made clear “they want them more publicly to talk about getting out of Afghanistan by the end of the year.” Trump, who ran in 2016 on a promise to bring U.S. troops home, is frustrated with the slow pace of withdrawing troops from the Middle East, another senior administration official said.

The president has told advisers on numerous occasions he wants troops home from Afghanistan by Christmas.In a 2019 interview with Fox’s Tucker Carlson, Macgregor said he would advise the president to get out of Afghanistan “as soon as possible,” including removing the U.S. embassy from Kabul, and that talking to the Taliban was unnecessary. Macgregor also said the U.S. needs to pull its troops out of Syria immediately and America had no national interest there. He said, “We need to listen very carefully to the Iranians … find out what their interests are and look for areas where we can cooperate” and that the U.S. needs to “turn the operational control of the [Korean] Peninsula militarily over to President Moon and the Koreans.”

The Pentagon, in a statement to Axios, confirmed Macgregor has been hired as a senior adviser to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. It said Macgregor’s “decades of military experience will be used to assist in the continued implementation of the President’s national security priorities.” Since Joe Biden became president-elect, Trump has refused to concede the race — but he’s also moved rapidly this week to fire top officials in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership. That includes Mark Esper, as well as the former Defense secretary’s chief of staff and other high-level officials in charge of intelligence and policy. He is replacing them with those perceived as loyal to him.

Macgregor, a decorated combat veteran, is a Trump loyalist and regular Fox News commentator. He’s known for his questioning of conventional Army leadership and decision-making , including strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his extreme rhetoric about Muslims and undocumented immigrants. He was passed over earlier this year for the Pentagon’s top policy job amid reports Esper had concerns about him.

 

 

Let’s see:

the hiring of Ret. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor is in part a settling of Trump’s personal scores

Personal scores as in how and what? As in not wanting to accept his own failed effort to bring the troops home, the effort that’s been frustrated for four years running now? And that he may be trying to correct as we speak?

Trump, who ran in 2016 on a promise to bring U.S. troops home, is frustrated with the slow pace of withdrawing troops from the Middle East

Of being frustrated by being frustrated with the pace at which his orders and wishes as commander in chief have been executed?

The president has told advisers on numerous occasions he wants troops home from Afghanistan by Christmas.

How, pray tell, is that not a good thing? Why on earth would you want to present it as such? Asking for 320 million friends.

Since Joe Biden became president-elect, Trump has refused to concede the race

Biden is not the president-elect. Not one single state has so far certified its election results. It is bogus and you know it. Cut the nonsense. You have no clothes on.

He’s known for his questioning of conventional Army leadership and decision-making

Isn’t that part of a healthy process, that you question “official” policies which put the lives of young Americans at risk, that you do that every single moment of every single day, because those lives are precious and valuable? In my book, this is a big plus for the man. As it should be for every single American.

He was passed over earlier this year for the Pentagon’s top policy job amid reports Esper had concerns about him.

And that’s why Esper is gone. He was one more wrong choice Trump was led into. And yeah, Trump shares the blame for that.

 

 

Moving on to CNN’s comment on the Macgregor nomination. Mostly the same as that from Axios, with some added BS. Again, my comments below:

Trump Administration Installs Advocate For Quick Afghanistan Withdrawal At Pentagon

An ardent opponent of the US military’s presence in Afghanistan who once called for the use of lethal force against illegal immigrants and has made a litany of racist comments has been made a senior adviser at the Pentagon. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed Wednesday that retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor “will be serving as a Senior Advisor to the Acting Secretary of Defense. Mr. MacGregor’s decades of military experience will be used to assist in the continued implementation of the President’s national security priorities.” Macgregor’s appointment is the latest in a series of sweeping changes at the Pentagon that has put defense officials on edge and fueled a growing sense of alarm among military and civilian officials, who are concerned about what could come next.

Four senior Pentagon officials have been fired or have resigned since Monday, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper who was fired in a tweet by President Donald Trump, Esper’s chief of staff and the top officials overseeing policy and intelligence. The moves will likely only add to the sense of chaos within the Pentagon following Trump’s firing of Esper, which came two days after his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, was projected as the winner of the presidential election — a conclusion that Trump has refused to accept. Esper was replaced by Christopher Miller, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Those who assumed new roles included controversial retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, who moved into the Pentagon’s top policy role, taking over the duties of James Anderson, who resigned Tuesday, according to another US defense official. Macgregor has been a vocal opponent of the US military’s mission in Afghanistan and has called for a total withdrawal of US troops and the American Embassy despite the continued presence of terrorist groups there.

Knowledgeable sources told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday that the White House-directed purge at the Defense Department may have been motivated by the fact Esper and his team were pushing back on a premature withdrawal from Afghanistan that would be carried out before the required conditions on the ground were met, and other pending security issues.

US military officials have long stressed that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is conditions based, with those conditions including the Taliban’s breaking its ties to al Qaeda and making progress in peace talks with the Afghan government, two conditions that have yet to be met. But despite the lack of progress, the Trump administration has already substantially reduced US troops in the country by more than 50%, bringing the number of US military personnel there down to about 4,500, the lowest levels since the earliest days of the post 9/11 campaign.

Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, has advocated for a more accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan irrespective of conditions on the ground, something made more feasible by the installation of White House loyalists in senior defense posts. He has also called for an immediate end to the US military effort in Syria, where a small number of US troops back the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against ISIS.

Macgregor once advocated for the use of lethal force against unarmed migrants to deter illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America. He was nominated by Trump this summer to be the ambassador to Germany but faced fierce opposition for his remarks uncovered by CNN’s KFILE. KFILE reviewed dozens of radio and television interviews with Macgregor and found he often demonized immigrants and refugees. He warned Mexican cartels were “driving millions of Mexicans with no education, no skills and the wrong culture into the United States, placing them essentially as wards of the American people.” He repeatedly advocated instituting martial law at the US-Mexico border and to “shoot people” if necessary.

He has also called for an immediate end to the US military effort in Syria, where a small number of US troops back the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against ISIS. He also said that Eastern Ukrainians are “Russians” on the Russian state-controlled TV network RT in 2014 after Russia tried to annex Crimea and began an ongoing war with Ukraine over the territory — positions not supported by the European Union and United States.


He lamented that the US government intervened against Serbian forces, who engaged in ethnic cleansing and war crimes, during the Kosovo War in the 1990s to “put, essentially, a Muslim drug mafia in charge of that country.”

Yeah, Bill Clinton’s intervention in former Yugoslavia was a highlight of US politics and intervention for the good of all mankind.

 

 

Again, let’s see:

An ardent opponent of the US military’s presence in Afghanistan who once called for the use of lethal force against illegal immigrants and has made a litany of racist comments

Pretty sure he was talking about the cartels, not unarmed people. But yeah, prove me wrong. And let’s see some of those racist comments.

Macgregor has been a vocal opponent of the US military’s mission in Afghanistan and has called for a total withdrawal of US troops and the American Embassy despite the continued presence of terrorist groups there.

Oh, get a life. It’s been 18 years and dick all has been accomplished. The country has always only ever been the CIA’s opium factory, providing the funds for its most secretive operations. You will find it in the thesaurus under “bottomless pit”.

the White House-directed purge at the Defense Department may have been motivated by the fact Esper and his team were pushing back on a premature withdrawal from Afghanistan

Again, yes, exactly. Why would a president leave someone in place whose policies contradict his own, who refuses to follow his orders?

US military officials have long stressed that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is conditions based

Yeah, sure, and who decides what those conditions are? They themselves do. But there is still only one commander in chief.

despite the lack of progress, the Trump administration has already substantially reduced US troops in the country by more than 50%

That is, the progress towards the military’s “conditions”, not the progress towards their commander-in-chief’s goal of bringing the troops home.

Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, has advocated for a more accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan irrespective of conditions on the ground

Like him already.

Macgregor once advocated for the use of lethal force against unarmed migrants to deter illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America.

That’s quite a slanderous accusation if you have no examples. All I’ve seen is his comments on drug cartels who push people into the US.

He also said that Eastern Ukrainians are “Russians”

Oh, now we’re getting into Russiagate. How convenient. Why don’t we ask the Eastern Ukrainians themselves how they feel, or, you know, look at their history?

He lamented that the US government intervened against Serbian forces, who engaged in ethnic cleansing and war crimes, during the Kosovo War in the 1990s to “put, essentially, a Muslim drug mafia in charge of that country.”

And just like that, he’s right again. Coincidence, or you think maybe he understands more than you do, and has more knowledge of the whole shebang? You know, being a 30-year veteran an all that? Or would you rather put your faith into a “journalist” at Axios or CNN?

Me, personally, I think about the families of the US troops stationed in the Middle East, and who want nothing more than to have their young loved ones home for Christmas. Alive and in one piece. Douglas Macgregor and Donald Trump may yet make that happen. But you have bigger interests and vistas in mind, you want to say?

 

 

 

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Tucker Macgregor Afghanistan
https://twitter.com/i/status/1326630978824007681

Macgregor Tucker May 1 2018

 

 

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