Jan 202021
 


Jean-Léon Gérôme Truth Coming Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind, 1896

 

Can We Stop a Super Coronavirus? (Spiegel)
New COVID Strain Reportedly Emerging Within Brazilian Amazon (ZH)
The New Domestic War On Terror Is Coming (Glenn Greenwald)
Comey Calls For the Republican Party To Be “Burned Down” (Turley)
Baghdad On The Potomac – Welcome To The Blue Zone (Escobar)
Media Cheers DC Under Military Occupation (Tracey)
Biden’s DHS Pick To “Study” Whether To Keep Trump’s Border Wall (PFW) /span>
US Bombs Somalia After Troop Withdrawal (Antiwar)
Pension Funds Plot Move On China’s $16 Trillion Sovereign Bond Market (R.)
Taming The Social Media Monster (K.)
Liberals Traumatized by Agreeing with Mitch McConnell (Borowitz)

 

 

Feeling numb this morning, as I’m sure many of you do. Not only because Trump failed to pardon Julian Assange, though that is a major letdown, but also because it’s more obvious than ever that nothing has changed. The same cabal is either still in power or is returning to it. And now they’re going to clean the US from everyone who rejected them and supported Trump. For clickbait, power and revenge. And I’m a bit tired of reading it all.

 

 

 

 

Tucker Carlson: Mitch McConnell “sent word over to the White House: if you pardon Julian Assange, we are much more likely to convict you in an impeachment trial.”

https://twitter.com/i/status/1351353063433408515

 

 

@KimDotcom
Julian Assange will get his freedom back this year, pardon or not.

 

 

A mutation a week.

Can We Stop a Super Coronavirus? (Spiegel)

Three different new mutants of the novel coronavirus have begun spreading at break-neck speed around the world. They have two things in common: a very specific mutation – and they are far more effective at infecting people than previous versions, with the new variants likely up to 56 percent more infectious. There are also worries that they could prove less susceptible to some vaccines and that people who have already had COVID-19 could get infected again. The cases that have been imported into the country so far demonstrate that it’s likely impossible to seal Germany off from the new variants. It’s probably just a matter of time before the super viruses begin spreading in Germany and Europe. And it’s quite possible that this has already happened.

For a long time, it seemed as if the world knew its enemy – a coronavirus that could be compared with its ancestor SARS and other coronaviruses like MERS. In small steps, we became more familiar with how the disease spreads and what we can do to best protect ourselves. We got to know the virus right down to the last molecule – so well that researchers were able to develop vaccines in record time, promising to help humanity out of the permanent lockdown. We would, it seemed, bring SARS-CoV-2 under control in 2021. Now, though, the virus is mutating – unfortunately in a direction that is likely to lead to many more victims. [..] German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who, as a physicist, has an in-depth understanding of numerical models, is deeply concerned about the current developments.

In recent days, she has been calling ministers, scientists and experts she trusts, asking for suggestions about what to do if the new virus mutants also spread in Germany. She doesn’t share the hope of some that the current lockdown can drive the numbers down any time soon. “Germany is facing eight to 10 very tough weeks,” Merkel said last Tuesday. The next day, during a meeting of her cabinet, Merkel discussed what would have happened had France not barred people from entering the country from Ireland. She said it might have become necessary for Germany to set up controls at the border with France.

[..] But the B.1.351 variant discovered in South Africa and the B.1.1.248 mutant found in Brazil and Japan are no less harmful than their British cousin. On the contrary. They contain another mutation in their genetic material – E484K – which could prove to be very dangerous. It’s likely that it weakens the human immune response – and could even render some of the newly developed vaccines less effective. Pharmaceutical companies are currently testing the efficacy of their vaccines against the new mutants. The mutation N501Y that is common to the new variants is located at a central position of the pathogen: on the spikes that are the source of the coronavirus’ name.

SARS-CoV-2 uses the spike protein’s receptor binding domain to latch on to the host cell and invade it. Scientists believe the mutation makes it easier for the virus to latch on to host cells. Once the new variants have infected the host, the disease proceeds just as it has in previous variants: They aren’t more lethal than the original coronaviruses. That, though, is hardly reassuring: Because the mutants are able to infect so many more people, they are capable of causing more fatalities than would a mutant that made people sicker but which was less contagious.

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“..more infectious, and deadlier..”

New COVID Strain Reportedly Emerging Within Brazilian Amazon (ZH)

As warnings about the hyper-infectious COVID strains first isolated in the UK and South Africa ring out across the US, Europe and, well, the rest of the world, too, at this point, authorities in Brazil fear they may have a new strain on their hands that’s more infectious, and deadlier, than anything the world has seen previously. According to a report published by Brazilian outlet Universo Online, a surge in cases and deaths, particularly among younger patients, in the hard-hit Amazonian city of Manaus (situated in northwestern Brazil, on the banks of the River Negro) has drawn the attention of health professionals working on the front lines of the pandemic in the hard-hit Latin American powerhouse.

Several officials with direct knowledge of the situation told UOL that a new “variant” – a mutated strain of the virus – may be responsible for harsher symptoms, and quicker onset times. But the most alarming shift has been a surge in deaths among younger people, who are dying now in greater numbers than in earlier waves of the outbreak in Manaus, which has long struggled with overburdened health-care resources. According to Manaus death records from the past 30 days cited by ULO, four out of ten deaths during that time involved patients under the age of 60 in the state.

The UOL analyzed the latest data Transparency Portal of the registry offices. There were 710 deaths in the state (since it may still increase), of which 285 were people under 60 years old – or 40.1% of the total. Before that period, this percentage was 36.5%. “Without a doubt many more young people are dying. We are not just talking about a risk group: this is in all age groups, affecting babies, children, teenagers even without comorbidity”, points out the infectologist Silvia Leopoldina, who also works in the state public networks and municipal of Manaus. The doctor says there were changes in the behavior of the disease in the state. “Before, the first symptoms of severity appeared around the tenth day onwards. Now there are patients who, with seven, eight days, are involved in 75% of both lungs.”.

One researcher told ULO that, while he couldn’t say for certain what it is, “something very different” is happening in Manaus right now. “Something very different is happening in Manaus. I don’t know if it is a new strain or if it is something different. But those on the front line are seeing an increase in the severity of the cases,” says infectologist and researcher Noaldo Lucena, who works in popular clinic, home care and public hospitals. The new infection and death numbers are so severe, he says, they go beyond the already known greater contagiousness of the new variant of the virus. “Clearly, we are facing an invisible being that is much more pathogenic and transmissible. Today whole families arrive with the symptoms at the same time, before it was one at a time.”

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Clickbait dreams.

The New Domestic War On Terror Is Coming (Glenn Greenwald)

The last two weeks have ushered in a wave of new domestic police powers and rhetoric in the name of fighting “terrorism” that are carbon copies of many of the worst excesses of the first War on Terror that began nearly twenty years ago. This trend shows no sign of receding as we move farther from the January 6 Capitol riot. The opposite is true: it is intensifying. We have witnessed an orgy of censorship from Silicon Valley monopolies with calls for far more aggressive speech policing, a visibly militarized Washington, D.C. featuring a non-ironically named “Green Zone,” vows from the incoming president and his key allies for a new anti-domestic terrorism bill, and frequent accusations of “sedition,” “treason,” and “terrorism” against members of Congress and citizens.

This is all driven by a radical expansion of the meaning of “incitement to violence.” It is accompanied by viral-on-social-media pleas that one work with the FBI to turn in one’s fellow citizens (See Something, Say Something!) and demands for a new system of domestic surveillance. Underlying all of this are immediate insinuations that anyone questioning any of this must, by virtue of these doubts, harbor sympathy for the Terrorists and their neo-Nazi, white supremacist ideology. Liberals have spent so many years now in a tight alliance with neocons and the CIA that they are making the 2002 version of John Ashcroft look like the President of the (old-school) ACLU. The more honest proponents of this new domestic War on Terror are explicitly admitting that they want to model it on the first one.

A New York Times reporter noted on Monday that a “former intelligence official on PBS NewsHour” said “that the US should think about a ‘9/11 Commission’ for domestic extremism and consider applying some of the lessons from the fight against Al Qaeda here at home.” More amazingly, Gen. Stanley McChrystal — for years head of Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq and the commander of the war in Afghanistan — explicitly compared that war to this new one, speaking to Yahoo News: “I did see a similar dynamic in the evolution of al-Qaida in Iraq, where a whole generation of angry Arab youth with very poor prospects followed a powerful leader who promised to take them back in time to a better place, and he led them to embrace an ideology that justified their violence. This is now happening in America….I think we’re much further along in this radicalization process, and facing a much deeper problem as a country, than most Americans realize.”

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75 million voters. Burn them all down?

Comey Calls For the Republican Party To Be “Burned Down” (Turley)

There is an interesting interview this week with former FBI Director James Comey. He states that he now believes that the infamous alleged “pee tape” may be real and makes other surprising statements while pitching his new book. One statement, however, stood out: “The Republican party needs to be burned down … It’s just not a healthy political organization.” Since the Republican National Committee was targeted with a pipe bomb in the recent riots, some could argue that this is incitement to arson or violence. I would not. I would call it free speech and hyperbole. The question is where the line is drawn given the impeachment of Donald Trump based on his speech and the allegations that others who used such hyperbolic language are actually guilty of incitement.

As I have previously stated, I condemned Trump’s speech in a series of tweets while it was being given and I called for a bipartisan vote of censure over his responsibility in the riots. However, I opposed the use of a snap impeachment by the House and raised concerns over the framing of the article of impeachment as an “incitement to insurrection.” Despite the chorus of legal experts insisting that the speech would constitute a strong case for criminal incitement (and the DC Attorney General said he may charge Trump), I believe such a prosecution would eventually collapse on free speech grounds if based solely on this speech and Trump’s other public statements.

Comey is not alone in the use of such rhetoric in today’s super-heated political environment. We previously discussed how conservatives have pointed to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) calling for people to confront Republican leaders in restaurants; Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) insisted during 2020’s violent protests that “there needs to be unrest in the streets,” while then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said “protesters should not let up” even as many protests were turning violent. They can all legitimately argue that their rhetoric was not meant to be a call for violence, but this is a standard fraught with subjectivity.

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“Only satire is capable of doing poetic justice to what is, de facto, the Potemkin inauguration of a hologram.”

Baghdad On The Potomac – Welcome To The Blue Zone (Escobar)

During the 2000s, I came face to face with Baghdad’s Green Zone multiple times. I always stayed, and worked, in the hyper-volatile Red Zone – as you may check in my 2007 book Red Zone Blues. We knew then that blowback would be inevitable. But still, we could never have imagined such a graphic simulacrum: the Green Zone fully replicated in the heart of imperial D.C. – complete with walls, barbed wire, multiple checkpoints, heavily armed guards. That is even more significant because it ends a full “new world order” geopolitical cycle: the empire started bombing – and cluster bombing – Iraq 30 years ago. Desert Storm was launched in January 17, 1991.

The Blue Zone is now “protected” by a massive 26,000 plus troop surge – way more than Afghanistan and Iraq combined. The Forever Wars – which you may now relieve through my archives – have come back full circle. Just like an ordinary Iraqi was not allowed inside the Green Zone, no ordinary American is allowed inside the Blue Zone. Just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone represent none other than themselves. And just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone are viewed by half of the population in the Red Zone as an occupying force. Only satire is capable of doing poetic justice to what is, de facto, the Potemkin inauguration of a hologram. So welcome to the most popular president in history inaugurated in secret, and fearful of his own, fake, Praetorian Guard. The Global South has seen this grisly show before – in endless reruns. But never as a homegrown Hollywood flick.

Meanwhile, trapped inside the Blue Zone, the White House has been busy compiling an interminable list of accomplishments. Multitudes will go berserk relieving the appalling foreign policy disasters, courtesy of American Psycho Mike Pompeo; debunking the official narrative partially or as a whole; and even agreeing with the odd “accomplishment”. Yet close attention should be paid to a key item: “Colossal Rebuilding of the Military”. This is what is going to play a key role beyond January 20 – as Gen Flynn has been extremely busy showing evidence to the military, at all levels, of how “compromised” is the new Hologram-in-Chief. And then there’s the rolling, never-ending November 3 drama. Blame should be duly apportioned. Impeachment, digital witch hunts, rounding up “domestic terrorists”, that is not enough. “Foreign interference” is a must.

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“..everyone with a brain by now should be able to recognize that the government was never at a greater than 0% risk of being overthrown that day..”

Media Cheers DC Under Military Occupation (Tracey)

Downtown Washington, DC is currently under what essentially amounts to military occupation. Streets are locked down, guarded by Army vehicles and blocked off by huge, garish checkpoints. Vehicular traffic is limited to motorists who can show papers demonstrating that, as one Guardsman told me, they are conducting “legitimate business.” (Apparently this includes Uber drivers and food delivery workers.) According to official estimates, 25,000 military personnel are now deployed to the area — on top of countless federal, state, and local law enforcement agents. Troops roam around carrying rifles with no ammo loaded. If you can manage to navigate on foot to the perimeter of the National Mall, you encounter an enormous fencing apparatus, complete with barbed wire.

Question: does anyone with a media job find this situation to be worthy of some further inquiry? Or in other words, worthy of questioning the premise of why such an extravagantly intensive military presence is allegedly necessary? Is it proportionate to the scale of the purported threat? Has the nature of the threat itself — whatever that might be, exactly — been adequately probed to determine whether it is grounded in reality? Already a bunch of purported threats initially trumpeted across the media with the usual five-alarm-five hysteria have dissipated in short order, so there is perhaps some reason for doubt in that regard. Instead of applying a modicum of skepticism to this gigantic show of military force, much of which appears to be “security theater” in its purest form, our vaunted media is doing little other than cheering it on.

And of course, inflating the threats being cited as justification for it. They can repeat over and over again that what occurred on January 6 at the Capitol was an “attempted coup,” and therefore everything and anything is justified to retaliate, but everyone with a brain by now should be able to recognize that the government was never at a greater than 0% risk of being overthrown that day. Fear-inducing terms like “insurrection,” “domestic terrorism,” “seditious conspiracy,” “armed rebellion,” and others have been marshaled intentionally to inure the public to extreme actions such as the swiftly-executed corporate censorship purge and now, the transformation of the country’s capital into a military fortress.

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Caravans are on their way, programs installed for large scale pardons. In a pandemic.

Biden’s DHS Pick To “Study” Whether To Keep Trump’s Border Wall (PFW) /span>

On the same day Trump extended an emergency declaration at the southern border, Biden’s pick for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, says that he will “study” whether the border wall constructed under the Trump administration will remain in place. “President-elect Biden has committed to stop construction of the border wall. It would be my responsibility to execute on that and I have not looked at the question of what we do with respect to the wall that has already been built,” Mayorkas said Tuesday during his Senate confirmation hearing. “I look forward to studying that question, understanding the costs and benefits of doing so, being open and transparent with you and all members of this committee, sharing my thoughts and considerations and working cooperative with you toward a solution,” he said.

The incoming DHS Sec. says that he plans to work on “harnessing innovation and technology” for future border security as he believes a border wall may not be the most effective way to stop people from entering the country. President-elect Biden has stated that he would not construct “another foot” of border wall between the U.S. and Mexico when he assumes office. “There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration, No. 1,” Biden said in August. “I’m going to make sure that we have border protection, but it’s going to be based on making sure that we use high-tech capacity to deal with it. And at the ports of entry — that’s where all the bad stuff is happening,”

As we highlighted earlier, President Donald Trump on Tuesday extended his declared emergency at the southern border to be in effect until February 2022. The order set in motion funding for the now 453 miles in length southern border wall after congress had folded on devoting money to the project in 2019.

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Back to normal.

US Bombs Somalia After Troop Withdrawal (Antiwar)

After announcing that the troop withdrawal from Somalia was completed on Sunday, the US carried out multiple airstrikes in the African country on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said it launched an airstrike on a compound belonging to al-Shabab and did not report any casualties. On Tuesday, AFRICOM said it carried out two airstrikes in the vicinities of Jamaame and Deb Scinnele, Somalia, that killed three al-Shabab “operatives” with no other reported casualties. AFRICOM usually claims no civilians are killed in its Somalia airstrikes, but whenever journalists or human rights groups make it to the scene of a US airstrike in the country, they tell a much different story.


The airstrikes were likely a message to al-Shabab that despite the troop withdrawal, the US can still carry out airstrikes in Somalia. About 700 US troops were pulled out of Somalia, with many of them being shuffled around East African to neighboring Djibouti and Kenya, where the US drones are based that bomb al-Shabab. President Trump started sending troops to Somalia in 2017 and significantly escalated the drone war by loosening the rules of engagement. In 2020 alone, Trump bombed Somalia more than George W Bush and Barack Obama combined.

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Unintended consequences of ultra-low rates?! Dutch 10-year bond yields are -0.4%, Chinese 3%.

Under these circumstances, how much newly minted stimulus money will disappear into China?

Pension Funds Plot Move On China’s $16 Trillion Sovereign Bond Market (R.)

China’s $16 trillion sovereign debt market is the proverbial elephant in the investment room. But it’s becoming too big to ignore, even for the most risk-averse Western investors. A large, A+ rated market that pays 3% yields, with minimal volatility? It’s looking increasingly alluring for European pension funds swimming in sub-zero bond yields as aging populations stretch their finances. For some, the benefits are beginning to outweigh the political risks, and they are upping allocations to China, or considering doing so, according to Reuters’ interviews with half a dozen firms that advise and manage money for pension funds.


“Not all our clients invest in China’s bond market, but they are all looking into it,” said Sandor Steverink, head of Treasuries at APG, which manages a third of the assets of the 1.5-trillion-euro ($1.8 trillion) Dutch pension industry. Dutch 10-year bond yields are languishing at around -0.4%, spelling losses for any investor who holds them to maturity, a picture reflected across Europe. Such fund interest is a boon for Beijing, which is seeking to internationalize its financial markets and lure big-ticket overseas investors as its once-mighty trade surpluses dwindle. Europe’s pension industry alone is worth $4 trillion. China’s sovereign debt market is the world’s second-largest after the United States. Yet while foreigners own a third of the U.S. Treasury market, they hold just 9.7% of China’s sovereign debt, according to government data.

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“But doesn’t the problem run deeper than that? Does it not lie with the social media firms’ business model, which seeks to monopolize users’ attention to the benefit of their clients who advertise on their platform?”

Taming The Social Media Monster (K.)

Western democracies must win back control of the boundaries of public debate from social media giants, Marietje Schaake suggests in an exclusive interview with Kathimerini. Schaake, a former member of the European Parliament, is now international policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center and international policy fellow at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. She spoke to Kathimerini about outgoing US President Donald Trump, the digital footprint of the European Union, and how public policy can tame the monster that social media has turned into. Trump’s social media ban, Schaake tells the newspaper, “made many people realize the actual power of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms.” The companies’ decision raises “many questions,” she says.

“Why, for example, did they ban the American president but not other international leaders that post very controversial or harmful content?” However, Schaake says, “the real question is not whether this was a good or bad decision, but why we allow privatized governance of our democratic debate.” How can the public sphere reassert control over this debate? “We must first of all demand that these firms be much more transparent with the policies on which their decisions are based. These [policies] cannot be a response to pressure or to outcry coming from their own employees. These policies must hinge on international or European standards regarding the freedom of speech and its limitations; and there must be independent monitoring that will certify the degree to which these companies fulfill their commitments.

“I was struck by the fact that Twitter has since January 8 deactivated more than 70,000 accounts associated with the QAnon [far-right conspiracy] – and that this happened after QAnon had been banned.” According to Schaake, this shows how hard it is to monitor a platform’s content on a rolling basis, as offshoots of banned groups keep coming into being. “The governments of democratic states must have a strong say in this,” says Schaake. “They must clarify what the rule of law means in the digital world and make sure that there are mechanisms in place to enforce it,” she says. She says authorities must have access to algorithmic methodologies and decide on clear sanctions against firms that fail to comply. “Regulatory authorities must have the knowledge, the staff and the resources they need to deal with the armies of lawyers that the companies bring to the table,” she says.

But doesn’t the problem run deeper than that? Does it not lie with the social media firms’ business model, which seeks to monopolize users’ attention to the benefit of their clients who advertise on their platform? Schaake does not challenge the claim. However, she stresses that if the situation has spun out of control, it is “due to a long period of basic inaction on the part of democratic governments, particularly in the US.” Bringing the anarchic landscape under control, she says, presupposes immediate action on a series of fronts: anti-trust policy, protection of privacy, personal data, and so on.

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“..a temporary condition..”

Liberals Traumatized by Agreeing with Mitch McConnell (Borowitz)

Millions of liberals were traumatized on Tuesday when they found themselves in agreement with Mitch McConnell, liberals are reporting. From Santa Monica, California, to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, liberals sought emergency counselling, complaining of a range of symptoms after realizing that they were on the same side as the senator from Kentucky. Carol Foyler, a liberal from Austin, Texas, said that she experienced lightheadedness and nausea after liking a Facebook post that detailed McConnell’s remarks in the Senate. “The room started spinning,” she said. Dr. Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota Medical School said that liberals who are traumatized by agreeing with McConnell should “not be concerned” and should recognize that it is a temporary condition. “They’re not going to wake up tomorrow and start agreeing with Devin Nunes,” he said.

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 192021
 
 January 19, 2021  Posted by at 10:26 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  32 Responses »


Claude Monet The house at Yerres 1876

 

The Zeitgeist Wants What the Zeitgeist Wants (Kustler)
Can Joe Biden Succeed Where Barack Obama Failed? (Sirota)
McConnell, Schumer Close In On Power-Sharing Agreement (CNN)
Critics Reject $1.9 Trillion Biden COVID Plan As ‘Liberal Wishlist’ (JTN)
Hillary, Pelosi Wonder if Trump Spoke to Putin on Day of Capitol Riot (BB)
Kremlin Joins EU Officials In Denouncing Big Tech Censorship (JTN)
Germany Weighs Up Mandatory FFP2 Masks In Shops And On Transport (G.)
Evolution of Antibody Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 (Nature)
Washington State Partners With Starbucks For Vaccine Distribution (F.)
EU-US Relations Under Biden Won’t Be The Same As Before Trump (EN)
Trump Announces 200 Statues To Be Built For ‘American Heroes’ (JTN)
My Letter to President Trump (Joe Lauria)

 

 

The internet, our greatest tool of emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen. The internet is a threat to human civilization.
– Julian Assange

 

 

 

 

“He’ll be great in the war room, I’m sure.”

The Zeitgeist Wants What the Zeitgeist Wants (Kustler)

The hypothetical Biden Administration is shaping up to be something like a four-year-long séance, a conjuring of apparitions wailing out talking points in a darkened room. The actual location of the inaugural event remains a mystery, or even if it will be an event, maybe just a pre-recorded video concoction of Mr. Biden’s greatest hits of 2020. Check and see if he’s wearing the same necktie from beginning to end. If a hologram is inaugurated, does that make the land-mass between Montauk and Santa Barbara a post-structural figment? The “president-elect,” made an ectoplasmic appearance Sunday talking up “science,” the Democrat’s mental life-preserver, and then shuffled offstage in an apparent fog of confusion as the Ritalin wore off. He’ll be great in the war room, I’m sure.

The mystery surrounding DNI John Ratcliffe’s long overdue report on foreign interference in the election cleared up only a little with the release of a letter sent January 8th to the Senate Intelligence Committee. In it, citing a side report from Intel Community Ombudsman Barry Zulauf, Mr. Ratcliffe refers to “undue pressure being brought to bear” on analysts by CIA management to craft their conclusions according to political loyalties. In other words, once again the CIA appears to be playing games with the American people and can’t be trusted. Isn’t that reassuring?

Meanwhile, The New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC have turned into a nonstop gloat-fest anticipating the punishments to be dished out by progressive Wokesterdom against anyone who ever entertained a thought about or uttered the phrase “stolen election.” They can kiss their livelihoods goodbye. Their college degrees will be revoked by such bastions of free thinking as Harvard. Their websites will be liquidated. Senators and congresspersons must be thrown out of their seats. They’ll be reduced to squatting on filthy blankets at the entrance of the Walmart begging for spare change, or hauled off to re-education camps where NPR lawyers with riding crops preside over their therapeutic struggle sessions, beating the wrongthink out of their hides. For Democrats, vengeance is a dish to be served piping hot. Would you like flies with your shit sandwich?

Ha ha ha. CNN doesn’t like competition. “There are people on YouTube for example that have a larger audience than daytime CNN.” Note the link to ISIS ingested into the conversation. Dangerous people.

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Obama is very closely behind Biden.

Can Joe Biden Succeed Where Barack Obama Failed? (Sirota)

Twelve years after Joe Biden was sworn in as the vice president of hope and change, hope is in short supply and the need for change is even more acute. Progressives have a rare opportunity to enact their agenda—but they will need to play the kind of hardball they have backed away from in the past, because Biden continues to send conflicting messages. For every promise of transformational change, he signals a desire to appease a Republican Party intent on destroying his presidency. The stakes could hardly be higher: One out of every thousand Americans has died from a lethal pandemic, with no end yet in sight. The economy is officially still humming along, but millions face eviction, bankruptcy and hunger. Even U.S. democracy is under unprecedented siege by an insurrectionist movement encouraged by the outgoing president and his loyalists in Congress.


The path forward is difficult to envision amid the fog of culture war, political war and the threat of actual, real-life civil war. But it is clear that Biden is at a crossroad and still unsure which way to go. He can follow his boss, Barack Obama, who pursued bipartisanship, comity and compromise—accommodating corporate power. Or he can break toward the path of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who did battle with oligarchy, stood down fascism and welcomed the hatred of the rich. One thing he cannot do is try to go in both directions. The lesson of the Obama administration is that you can have appeasement or transformative progress, but you almost certainly cannot have both.

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The boys are back in power.

McConnell, Schumer Close In On Power-Sharing Agreement (CNN)

The top two Senate leaders are nearing a power-sharing agreement to hash out how the evenly divided chamber will operate, with Democrats in charge of setting the schedule but both parties likely to hold an equal number of seats on Senate committees, according to sources familiar with the talks. The negotiations between Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have been built largely around how the Senate operated the last time the body was split 50-50: When George W. Bush initially became president in 2001. Final details are still being sorted out between the two leaders, sources said.


Similar to those rules, set in January 2001, Schumer and McConnell aides are discussing allowing bills and nominations to advance to the Senate floor even if they are tied during committee votes, something that could become common given that each party is expected to have the same number of seats on committees. Democrats will hold the chairmanships of the committees, giving them power to set the agenda, and Schumer will be granted the title of majority leader since Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will cast tiebreaking votes on the floor. The full chamber still has to ratify these procedures, but that is expected to occur once Schumer and McConnell have finalized their agreement.

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No DC without pork. Tons of it.

Critics Reject $1.9 Trillion Biden COVID Plan As ‘Liberal Wishlist’ (JTN)

Critics of President-Elect Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-related spending plan say the proposal goes far beyond coronavirus relief into subsidizing teachers’ unions and prioritizing taxpayer money to be spent on non-white, non-male-owned businesses rather than taking a color- and gender-blind approach. Biden’s proposal comes in addition to the $900 billion passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last month, and on top of the $2.9 trillion stimulus package passed in the spring of 2020. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-described “democratic socialist” called Biden’s plan just a “first installment.”


In an interview with the “Just the News AM” television program, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) called the plan “another multitrillion dollar liberal wishlist” that she opposed. “I just hope that President-Elect Biden looks to work with Republicans, rather than just really bowing to the far left, the AOC wing of the party where I think there’s gonna be a lot of pressure to do that,” Stefanik said, alluding to the bloc led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Though the Biden plan carves out $70 billion for COVID-related vaccines, therapies and testing (this is on top of the $42 billion passed last month), critics of the plan say that the vast majority of the rest of the funding is more focused on income redistribution to advance long-term Democratic social policies.

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It’s a disease. There’s no cure.

Hillary, Pelosi Wonder if Trump Spoke to Putin on Day of Capitol Riot (BB)

Failed Trump challenger Hillary Clinton said she would “love” to see President Donald Trump’s phone records to see “whether he was talking to Putin the day that the insurgents invaded our Capitol” on January 6, making the remarks during a bonus episode of her podcast You and Me Both released Monday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appeared as the featured guest on the bonus episode and discussed the series of events that occurred on January 6 — the day protesters breached the U.S. Capitol as Congress gathered to certify the electoral vote. Clinton, one of the central champions of the debunked Trump-Russia collusion narrative that dominated the first years of Trump’s presidency, revealed her own suspicion that Trump could have been in contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the day of the protest.

“We learned a lot about our system of government over the last four years with a president who disdains democracy and, as you have said numerous times, has other agendas,” Clinton said. “What they all are, I don’t think we yet know. I hope historically we will find out who he’s beholden to, who pulls his strings. I would love to see his phone records to see whether he was talking to Putin the day that the insurgents invaded our Capitol,” Clinton continued, also placing blame on Trump’s “enablers,” “accomplices,” and “cult members” — a likely reference to his supporters, whom she famously referred to as “deplorables” during her 2016 campaign. “Do you think we need a 9/11-type commission to investigate and report everything that they can pull together and explain what happened?” Clinton asked the speaker, who responded, “I do.”

“To your point of who is he beholden to, as I’ve said over and over, as I said to him in that picture with my blue suit as I was leaving, what I was saying to him as I was pointing, rudely, at him: ‘With you, Mr. President, all roads lead to Putin,’” Pelosi told Clinton, referring to the January 6 events as a “gift to Putin” as he “wants to undermine democracy in our country and throughout the world.” “And these people, unbeknownst to them, maybe, are Putin puppets. They were doing Putin’s business when they did that at the incitement of an insurrection by the president of the United States,” she added.

Hillary Pelosi Putin

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What does Hillary think?

Kremlin Joins EU Officials In Denouncing Big Tech Censorship (JTN)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday joined calls from European Union officials to reign in the censorship power of Big Tech. In a Moscow news conference, Lavrov characterized the tech giants as extra-governmental entities that impose their own rules on public discourse. “Let’s hope that American society will not let its elites use blatant censorship, flagrant infringement of the Constitution and international commitments in its struggle against one other,” Lavrov said in the Jan. 18 news conference. “If it fails to cope with this problem, we all should be ready to face the consequences of such a failure of the American state, and these consequences would be very serious for the global arena.”

Russia’s top diplomat made his comments in the wake of high-profile social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram abolishing accounts belonging to President Donald Trump. Although Facebook and Instagram have restored some elements of the president’s accounts, Twitter has not. The platform leader, Jack Dorsey, has disregarded public outcry against Twitter’s seemingly capricious enforcement of its terms of use, and has upheld the ban against Trump. The social media censorship moves against Trump and others last week brought cries of alarm from the European Commission, which is the executive branch of the European Union. A commission official, Prabhat Agarwal, reportedly spoke out Jan. 11 in a meeting with fellow lawmakers.

“It is no longer acceptable in our view that platforms take some key decisions by themselves alone without any supervision, without any accountability, and without any sort of dialogue or transparency for the kind of decisions that they’re taking,” said Agarwal, who leads a commission e-commerce unit. “Freedom of expression is really a key value in this.” [..] “Recent events, including those in the United States, [pertain] to a situation when half a dozen people who have created their technological empires do not even want to know what rights they have in their countries,” Lavrov said. “They themselves define their rights on the basis of so-called corporate norms and they don’t care a bit about the constitutions of their nations. We have clearly seen this in the United States, and this, of course, causes serious concern.”

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Took just one year.

Germany Weighs Up Mandatory FFP2 Masks In Shops And On Transport (G.)

Germany is weighing up following Austria and Bavaria’s lead in making it compulsory to wear full protective filter masks on public transport and in shops, as the country remains on high alert about the impact of possible coronavirus mutations. The Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, announced on Sunday that wearing single-use filtering facepiece respirator, or FFP2, masks would become mandatory on public transport and in shops from 25 January, as the Alpine state moves to extend its national lockdown until 7 February.

In Germany’s largest and southernmost state, Bavaria, a similar requirement for trains, trams, buses and supermarkets came into force on Monday, though the new rule will not be policed until 24 January and allows for exemptions for bus drivers, ticket inspectors and children under the age of 15. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the heads of the country’s 16 federal states are expected to discuss following the Bavarian blueprint at a summit on Tuesday in spite of a recent reduction of infection rates. A night-time curfew and new remote-working requirements could also accompany an expected extension of the lockdown into February.

When fitted properly, FFP2 masks promise to filter out at least 94% of particles but are also more expensive, usually retailing at between €2 and €5 per mask. If FFP2 masks were made mandatory before suppliers are unable to meet the new demand, prices are expected to rise further. Some virologists warn a new compulsory mask rule could end up being counterproductive. “In theory, the move to more professional masks is welcome,” said Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, a German virologist and Professor of Arbovirology at the University of Hamburg. “But I’d be wary of simply copying the Bavarian model without considering the possible downsides.

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Antibodies evolve along with virus mutations.

Evolution of Antibody Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 (Nature)

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected 78 million individuals and is responsible for over 1.7 million deaths to date. Infection is associated with development of variable levels of antibodies with neutralizing activity that can protect against infection in animal models. Antibody levels decrease with time, but the nature and quality of the memory B cells that would be called upon to produce antibodies upon re-infection has not been examined. Here we report on the humoral memory response in a cohort of 87 individuals assessed at 1.3 and 6.2 months after infection. We find that IgM, and IgG anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor binding domain (RBD) antibody titres decrease significantly with IgA being less affected.


Concurrently, neutralizing activity in plasma decreases by fivefold in pseudotype virus assays. In contrast, the number of RBD-specific memory B cells is unchanged. Memory B cells display clonal turnover after 6.2 months, and the antibodies they express have greater somatic hypermutation, increased potency and resistance to RBD mutations, indicative of continued evolution of the humoral response. Analysis of intestinal biopsies obtained from asymptomatic individuals 4 months after the onset of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), using immunofluorescence, or polymerase chain reaction, revealed persistence of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acids and immunoreactivity in the small bowel of 7 out of 14 volunteers. We conclude that the memory B cell response to SARS-CoV-2 evolves between 1.3 and 6.2 months after infection in a manner that is consistent with antigen persistence.

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Testimony to the lack of organization in the US? Or just Corporatism 2.0?

Washington State Partners With Starbucks For Vaccine Distribution (F.)

As states across the U.S. struggle to administer enough coronavirus vaccines, Washington has picked an unusual partner to help speed up the process: Starbucks. Starbucks, which is based in Seattle, will assign several employees to work on “operational efficiency, scalable modeling and human-centered design expertise and support,” Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday. Starbucks locations will not serve as vaccination sites, but the company said it will use its technology and logistical “expertise” to help with site selection and “optimize vaccination sites with design principles and solutions focused on efficiency to thruput.” Starbucks is part of a larger public-private partnership announced Monday to help Washington’s vaccine distribution, which includes Microsoft for technology assistance, Costco pharmacies for vaccine delivery and local unions to help staff and train volunteer vaccinators.


The goal of the partnership is to boost its distribution efforts, which like many states has been moving slowly amid logistical and supply challenges. States are already partnering with private companies with pharmacies, such as Walmart, Kroger, CVS and Walgreens, for vaccine distribution, but the Starbucks partnership is unique to Washington, and it’s among the first to involve a company without a clear link to healthcare. “Starbucks is not a healthcare company, but we do operate 33,000 stores at scale, serving 100 million customers per week,” said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson at a press conference. “And we have a world-class team of human-centered design engineers who are working under the direction of the state and healthcare providers, like Swedish, Kaiser Permanente and others, with Microsoft and many other businesses to help support the creation of vaccination centers that can scale.”

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Ironically, the banning of Trump by the Silicon Valley Kings will play a large role in these relations.

EU-US Relations Under Biden Won’t Be The Same As Before Trump (EN)

EU-US relations will not return to how they were before Donald Trump came to power, according to the European Commission’s top trade official. Sabine Weyland, the EU’s director-general for trade, was speaking at a videoconference for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration as the US’ 46th president on Wednesday. “There will be no nostalgia. We are not going to go back to the global order of previous days. The world today is not the same as it was ten or even five years ago,” Weyland said. Weyland’s words suggest four years of hostility towards Europe from Donald Trump’s administration have left a mark.


Nevertheless, Brussels is looking for closer cooperation with the US. It wants to focus on core priorities, like fighting the pandemic and its economic fallout, tackling climate change, and finding common ground on digital and trade policies. Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics said that even with Trump out of the picture, American interests are still what counts most in Washington. “The Biden administration somewhat disappointingly is not just going to reverse all the tariffs,” Posen explained. “They will certainly stop escalating them and they will stop some of the more ridiculous tariffs that were put on allies with national security excuses. But there will be some attempt by the Biden administration to extract things in return for reducing the tariffs.”

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Not the Onion.

Trump Announces 200 Statues To Be Built For ‘American Heroes’ (JTN)

President Donald Trump announced the names on Monday of more than 200 statues to be built as part of his plan for a new “National Garden of American Heroes.” He said the new garden will demolish the “reckless attempt to erase our heroes” that occurred during last year’s protests and riots that occurred following the death of George Floyd, according to the Washington Times. The list of names is headlined by author Harper Lee, actor Jimmy Stewart, abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, baseball star Roberto Clemente and explorer Christopher Columbus. “In the peace and harmony of this vast outdoor park, visitors will come and learn the amazing stories of some of the greatest Americans who have ever lived,” Trump said in a new executive order, which lists all of the names.

The announcement came on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Both King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, made Trump’s list. Trump left himself off of the list despite being nominated by several people as part of the selection process, government officials said last year. He first announced the list of names to be honored last summer as Black Lives Matter protests were occurring across the nation and statues recalling American history, such as Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, were being torn down. Trump’s decision to implement this “National Garden of American Heroes” was a counter to the statues of “American heroes” being destroyed and removed last summer.

His original list of 31 names received criticism for being too short and lacking diversity, as it consisted mainly of white men. Trump’s new list is much longer and much more diverse, including Native Americans, women and other minority groups. Whether this idea will be moved forward rests in the hands of President-elect Joe Biden as he takes office this week. He could completely eliminate Trump’s proposed list, alter the list of names or push it forward as is.

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Please.

My Letter to President Trump (Joe Lauria)

Dear President Trump,

You are right in many ways that the news media have become the enemies of the people and the friends of the powerful who treat the people as enemies. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote: “In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government.” The role of the press is to keep powerful officials accountable to the electorate. The one journalist who has achieved this above all in recent years is the Australian Julian Assange. He is languishing in a British prison for exposing the powerful in the interests of the people. It is within your power to set him free. Please pardon him, Mr. President.

Joe Lauria

Tucker Assange Kiriakou

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Dec 262020
 


Salvador Dali Christmas Tree 1959

 

Pfizer’s Vaccine Maximizes Profit, Not The Greater Good (Quelch)
UK Scientists Trial Drug To Prevent Infection That Leads To Covid (G.)
Rolling Out the Vaccine (Dorman)
Pfizer COVID19 Vaccine Causing More Allergic Reactions Than Expected (NYP)
Millions Wake Up To Tougher Restrictions As UK Covid Deaths Pass 70,000 (PA)
Pelosi, Democrats, UniParty and Media Spin Narrative Around COVID Relief (CTH)
Our Upside-Down Postelection World (Hanson)
Georgia Democrats Shatter Fundraising Records (DC)
Full Brexit Trade Deal ‘Goes Beyond Canada-style Accord’ (G.)
Boeing 737 Max Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Failure (ZH)
Christmas Awokenings (Jim Kunstler)

 

 

 

 

“Pfizer has cut deals at high prices with about 20 developed countries. Their government agencies can’t reject the Pfizer vaccine as too expensive because they can’t ask their frontline healthcare workers to wait for a cheaper alternative. They have to act now.”

Pfizer’s Vaccine Maximizes Profit, Not The Greater Good (Quelch)

Pfizer just inked a second deal with the federal government to supply an additional 100 million doses of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine by July 2021. This is on top of Pfizer’s earlier deal for 100 million doses, currently being shipped. At around $20 per dose, Pfizer shareholders will do nicely, and the Pfizer CEO cashed in $5.6 million in stock at the time of the FDA’s emergency use authorization. Pfizer deserves enormous credit for the speed with which its vaccine secured the Food and Drug Administration’s approval. But Pfizer’s vaccine strategy was designed from the outset to maximize shareholder profit, not the greater good. Pfizer set out to be first across the finish line and reap a public relations bonanza. That’s why it pursued an mRNA vaccine, which can be developed and manufactured much faster than traditional vaccines.

But Pfizer’s vaccine has to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius to retain its efficacy. Developing countries do not have and cannot afford such a cold chain. That means Pfizer is off the hook to provide low- or no-cost doses to billions of people in poorer nations. The Moderna vaccine, also an mRNA vaccine, was designed to require normal vaccine refrigeration at around minus 20 degrees Celsius . Note, also, that Pfizer declined U.S. government subsidies to fund its vaccine development. This preserved Pfizer’s negotiating independence, avoided bureaucratic delays and helped Pfizer get to the finish line first. Taking no subsidies enabled Pfizer to deflect any government pressure to make its vaccine available at lower cost.

There’s another problem. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses with 21- and 28-day intervals, respectively, between vaccinations. Typically, this will result in 50 percent slippage; half those who receive the first shot will not return for the second. Some will forget, others will experience side effects, and others will believe wrongly that one jab is good enough. Meanwhile, Britain’s AstraZeneca has developed an equally effective COVID-19 vaccine that requires normal refrigeration and can therefore use existing vaccine supply chains that extend to rural areas. The AstraZeneca vaccine is being sold at $2 per dose versus $20 per dose (that is, $40 per person) for Pfizer’s. AstraZeneca has pledged not to profit from COVID-19 vaccine sales and to waive patent protections. Pfizer has done neither.

Pfizer’s strategy is simple. Be first to market and make a boatload of money by “skimming the cream,” supplying vaccines to those willing to pay. Pfizer has cut deals at high prices with about 20 developed countries. Their government agencies can’t reject the Pfizer vaccine as too expensive because they can’t ask their frontline healthcare workers to wait for a cheaper alternative. They have to act now.

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“Rather than antibodies produced by the body to help fight an infection, AZD7442 uses monoclonal antibodies, which have been created in a laboratory.”

UK Scientists Trial Drug To Prevent Infection That Leads To Covid (G.)

British scientists are trialling a new drug that could prevent someone who has been exposed to coronavirus from going on to develop the disease Covid-19, which experts say could save many lives. The antibody therapy would confer instant immunity against the disease and could be given as an emergency treatment to hospital inpatients and care home residents to help contain outbreaks. People living in households where someone has caught Covid could be injected with the drug to ensure they do not become infected too. It could also be given to university students, among whom the virus has spread rapidly because they live, study and socialise together.

Dr Catherine Houlihan, a virologist at University College London Hospitals NHS trust (UCLH) who is leading a study called Storm Chaser into the drug, said: “If we can prove that this treatment works and prevent people who are exposed to the virus going on to develop Covid-19, it would be an exciting addition to the arsenal of weapons being developed to fight this dreadful virus.,” The drug has been developed by UCLH and AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company that has also, along with Oxford University, created a vaccine that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is expected to approve for use in Britain next week. The team hope the trial shows that the cocktail of antibodies protects against Covid-19 for between six and 12 months. Trial participants are receiving it as two doses, one after the other.

If it is approved, it would be offered to someone who has been exposed to Covid in the previous eight days. It could be available as soon as March or April if it is approved by the medicines regulator after it has reviewed evidence from the study. The trial involves ULCH, several other British hospitals and a network of 100 sites globally. This month University College hospital became the first site in the world to recruit patients into the randomised control trial and give them the jab or a placebo. “To date we have injected 10 participants – staff, students and other people – who were exposed to the virus at home, in a healthcare setting or student halls,” said Houlihan. She and colleagues would closely follow the participants to see which of them develop Covid-19.

The immediate protection that the drug promises could play a vital role in reducing the impact of the virus until everyone has been immunised. The vaccination programme is under way using the Pfizer/BioNTech jab and is expected to take until next summer. NHS England accelerated the vaccine deployment this week after criticism from hospital bosses, GP leaders and the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt that it was taking too long. “The advantage of this medicine is that it gives you immediate antibodies,” Houlihan said. “We could say to trial participants who have been exposed: yes, you can have the vaccine. But we wouldn’t be telling them that would protect them from the disease, because it’s too late by then [because the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines do not confer full immunity for around a month].”

[..] The drug involves a long-acting antibody combination known as AZD7442, which has been developed by AstraZeneca. Rather than antibodies produced by the body to help fight an infection, AZD7442 uses monoclonal antibodies, which have been created in a laboratory. In documents on a clinical trial that AstraZeneca has registered in the US, it explains that it is investigating “the efficacy of AZD7442 for the post-exposure prophylaxis of Covid-19 in adults. The Sars-CoV-2 spike protein contains the virus’s RBD [receptor-binding domain], which enables the virus to bind to receptors on human cells. By targeting this region of the virus’s spike protein, antibodies can block the virus’s attachment to human cells, and therefore is expected to block infection.”

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“Some substantial portion of the early vaccines could be reserved for community trials. A number of communities could be given treatments in which a designated proportion of the population is vaccinated as soon as possible; this portion could be varied (30%, 50%, 70%) so that a variety of treatments could be tested.”

Rolling Out the Vaccine (Dorman)

The vaccines approved by the FDA, along with those approved by other countries like China and Russia, have gone through the fastest possible testing. Tens of thousands of individuals have been placed in control and treatment groups in order to determine two things: to what extent do the vaccines reduce the likelihood of getting infected (efficiency) and how common and severe are the side effects (safety)? Meeting both criteria is sufficient for approval, which is how it should be. But there is another crucial question, to what extent do the vaccines reduce transmission of the virus to others?

The answer does not affect whether these vaccines should be employed, but they do have large consequences for other policies during this phase of the pandemic, such as rules for separation and masking, restrictions on activities and events, resumption of in-person schooling, and how much should be spent on interventions like ventilation overhauls. To the extent that vaccination reduces transmission, other restrictions and investments can be modified as the vaccinated portion of the population increases. Unfortunately, our knowledge of this issue is minimal. We don’t have any published lab results at all, and we are at least months away from meaningful epidemiological data.

A rollout that prioritizes crucial learning could change this. Some substantial portion of the early vaccines could be reserved for community trials. A number of communities could be given treatments in which a designated proportion of the population is vaccinated as soon as possible; this portion could be varied (30%, 50%, 70%) so that a variety of treatments could be tested. Others matched to them by relevant demographic, economic and other variables would be controls and would not receive any vaccines during the trial period. (Note that the lack of blinding at the community level should not be a serious problem as long as unvaccinated individuals in treatment communities are given a convincing placebo.) Everyone living in these communities would be tested regularly. We could then observe differences between community infection rates corresponding to treatment and infer transmission probabilities under real world conditions. It might also be possible to learn how transmission varies across the different viral strains that have emerged. The entire operation could be accomplished within the space of a month or less.

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You have allergies? Stay away.

Pfizer COVID19 Vaccine Causing More Allergic Reactions Than Expected (NYP)

The chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed said the frequency of allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is higher than what would be expected for other jabs, according to a report.Dr. Moncef Slaoui said the last time he was updated on allergic reactions was Tuesday, when there were six cases, and added that the data on COVID-19 immunizations is lagging behind the actual numbers, CNN reported. “That frequency, as it stood yesterday, is superior to what one would expect with other vaccines,” he said. Slaoui said discussions are underway between the vaccine makers and the National Institutes of Health to consider holding clinical trials of vaccines in very allergic populations, such as people who always have to carry anti-allergy medication in an EpiPen.

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January will be bleak.

Millions Wake Up To Tougher Restrictions As UK Covid Deaths Pass 70,000 (PA)

Millions more people will be waking to harsher coronavirus restrictions on Boxing Day when new tier changes come into force in England. New lockdowns are set to be introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland, while restrictions that were eased for Christmas Day in Wales will be reimposed on Saturday. Those in the strict tier 4 in England will increase by 6 million to 24 million people, representing 43% of the population, in response to a more transmissible variant being discovered in the UK. It comes after the government said a further 570 died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Christmas Day, taking the UK’s total deaths within 28 days of a positive test to 70,195. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 86,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.


There were also 32,725 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, bringing to 244,146 the number of positive tests in the past seven days. The new measures were being imposed against a backdrop of increasing infections, hospital admissions and a new more contagious variant in the UK which was announced last week. Areas moving into tier 4 are Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, parts of Essex not yet in the highest tier, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire, with the exception of the New Forest. Tier-4 restrictions include a warning to stay at home, a limit on household mixing to two people outdoors and the forced closure of many shops, hairdressers and gyms.

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“In essence Trump is asking for a stand alone COVID relief bill for $2k/person, then drop the $600/person payment out of the pork-laden COVID relief bill and start that economic relief bill over.”

Pelosi, Democrats, UniParty and Media Spin Narrative Around COVID Relief (CTH)

There has been a great deal of political narrative engineering/fabrication surrounding President Trump’s admonitions to congress about a pork-filled COVID relief package. With a budgetary “shut-down” date looming on Monday, let’s look at the issues. First, there’s no such thing as a federal government “shut-down”; the only thing that happens if with a budgetary date exceeded is “non essential” government employees told to stay home (reference the prior “sequestration” nonsense). Second, the jaw-droppingly tone-deaf and pork-filled scheme of spending within the $900 billion COVID relief package is disconnected from the Omnibus spending bill ($1.5 trillion) that was combined into a single legislative construct for convenience only.

The Omnibus bill (non budget spending/allocation) and the COVID bill can be separated, because they are technically separate bills. President Trump wants congress to re-write the $900 billion COVID bill to provide $2,000 per person instead of $600 per person. In essence Trump is asking for a stand alone COVID relief bill for $2k/person, then drop the $600/person payment out of the pork-laden COVID relief bill and start that economic relief bill over. This is not a hard issue to resolve. The only reason UniParty congress is fighting Trump is because their lobbyist and foreign government bribes are part of the $900 billion and will not pass the scrutiny of public opinion if standing alone.

To try and conflate the issues Pelosi changed on part of the pork-laden COVID bill to $2k/person, without removing all the pork. The GOP voted against that scheme and the media are now claiming that loggerhead derails the omnibus part of the spending “package”. Again, Omnibus is separate from COVID relief. The obtuse arguments are conflated and false. The Omnibus spending bill can be sent to POTUS without the COVID part included. The reason why McConnell and Pelosi want to keep them attached is because the combination makes a 5,500 page mess that hides the pork.

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“Why ask a president whether he is a traitor or a crook when you can focus on his favorite flavor of milkshake or compliment him on his socks?”

Our Upside-Down Postelection World (Hanson)

After Nov. 3, the meaning of some words and concepts abruptly changed. Have you noticed how new realities have replaced old ones? Media cross-examination of the president is now an out-of-date idea. The time for gotcha questions has come and gone. Why ask a president whether he is a traitor or a crook when you can focus on his favorite flavor of milkshake or compliment him on his socks? The old pre-election truth was that new vaccines take years to develop. The new postelection truth is that it’s no big deal to bring out new vaccines in nine months. Impeaching a first-term president after his first midterm election — on a strictly partisan vote, for political reasons other than the Constitution’s “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” — is now a terrible idea.

Worse would be to appoint a special counsel to harass a president on unfounded charges of collusion with China. An even scarier notion would be a conservative dream team of partisan lawyers hounding President Joe Biden — using a 22-month, $40 million blank check. It would be unprofessional for university psychologists and physicians from a distance to diagnose, in pop fashion, the mental faculties of a President Biden. Certainly, there would never be talk about Department of Justice officials contemplating wearing a wire as part of an entrapment scheme to remove a President Biden through the 25th Amendment. That would almost constitute a coup attempt. Almost as bad would be for the holdover FBI director to start “memorializing” his private conversations with Joe Biden on FBI devices. He might then leak such memos to the press — just in case he were to be fired for secretly investigating Biden for “Chinese collusion” and then lying about such a probe.

What happened to the Logan Act? Not long ago it was assumed to be a critically needed guardrail. Wouldn’t it now ensure that presidential transition team members were not calling foreign leaders while Donald Trump is still president? How has it suddenly become a defunct, ossified relic? Leaking classified material would be about the worst thing government officials could do. Imagine if a Trump holdover, burrowed into the new Biden administration, released a transcript of Biden’s private conversations with the Mexican president or the Australian prime minister. Such a breach of trust would be almost as bad as a turncoat anti-Biden mole seeking to resist presidential directives. Imagine if this anonymous staffer were given an op-ed in the New York Tines to claim that a cadre of old-time Democrats were shocked by Biden’s cognitive decline and resisting his directives.

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$100 million for a Senate seat. Inflation much?

Georgia Democrats Shatter Fundraising Records (DC)

Georgia Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock have each raised over $100 million in the past two months, shattering Senate fundraising records and out-raising their respective challengers, Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Their $210 million total was split almost evenly, with Ossoff reporting $106.8 million and Warnock reporting $103.4 million, two totals funded largely by small-dollar donors across the country, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Though outraised, Perdue and Loeffler raised over $130 million in total, reporting $68 and $64.1 million, respectively. All four totals broke the previous Senate fundraising record set by South Carolina challenger Jaime Harrison in the third quarter of 2020 when he reported raising $57 million in his bid against South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.


Ossoff and Warnock have spent $67 and $53 million on television advertisements since the November election, compared to $34 million and $36 million for Perdue and Loeffler. But while the two Democrats have outspent both incumbents, outside GOP groups have erased much of their financial edge, Politico reported. Georgia’s two Senate runoffs have become almost completely nationalized given their stakes. If Democrats flip both seats then they would have 50 seats, just enough for a majority with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote. If Republicans, however, can defend both seats, then they would have a 52-48 Senate majority, which would prevent Democratic control of Congress and the White House and likely block much of President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda once he takes office in January.

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1,246 pages.

Full Brexit Trade Deal ‘Goes Beyond Canada-style Accord’ (G.)

The post-Brexit trade deal agreed by the UK and the European Union goes beyond the bloc’s so-called “Canada-style” trade accord, the BBC has reported, citing a full copy of the agreement. The 1,246-page document, which includes about 800 pages of annexes and footnotes, includes a late compromise on electric cars, the corporation said. The EU had sought to offer tariff-free access only to those British vehicles that are made mostly with European parts. This measure will now be phased in over six years but is less generous than the UK requested. The BBC also reported there is a commitment not to lower standards on the environment, workers’ rights and climate change with mechanisms to enforce it.

However there is also a mutual right to “rebalance” the agreement if there are “significant divergences” in future that are capable of “impacting trade”. The dispensations go beyond standard free-trade agreements such as those between the EU and Canada or Japan, reflecting the UK’s history in the single market which was established in 1993. Johnson had described the agreement, which was reached on Christmas Eve, as a “jumbo” free trade deal along the lines of that between the EU and Canada and urged Britain to move on from the divisions caused by the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The BBC reported that restrictions compensation for unfair subsidies to companies “do not apply” in situations such as natural disasters which will exempt the EU’s large current pandemic support package for aviation, aerospace, climate change and electric cars. Parliament will debate and vote on the deal on Wednesday, a day before the transition period lapses. Downing Street has thus far published only a short summary of the agreement that sets out the shape of the future relationship between the EU and Brussels.

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Make it stop!

Boeing 737 Max Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Failure (ZH)

Last month, commercial flights with Boeing 737 Max jetliners resumed after a 20-month worldwide grounding, following two deadly accidents. Now we’re finding out, weeks later, after the Max was cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to return to the skies safely, an Air Canada Boeing 737-8 Max suffered engine issues during flight. According to Aviation24.be, an Air Canada Boeing 737-8 MAX (registered C-FSNQ) was on a test flight after storage from Marana Pinal, Arizona, to Montreal, Canada, when the incident occurred. Luckily, the aircraft had no passengers and only three crew members.


Engine issues shortly developed after the plane took off. The crew noticed the “left engine had low hydraulic pressure,” said Aviation24.be. Then more complications developed with the aircraft: “The crew and airline dispatch/engineering controllers initially decided to continue to Montreal but the crew received an indication of a fuel imbalance from the left-hand wing and shut the left hand engine down,” said the aviation website. The crew was forced to declare a “PAN-PAN” emergency, meaning the plane was in severe jeopardy and had to divert from its pre-planned flight route and land in Tucson. The incident took place on Dec. 22, according to Aviation24.be.

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“In short, the self-demolition of America was fait accompli.”

Christmas Awokenings (Jim Kunstler)

And so, on Christmas morning, having suffered the night visitations of vexing spirits — or was that just the strange interaction of Zyprexa and Zolpidem — Joe Biden woke up (in a manner of speaking) to find himself transformed. He was no longer dogged by the prospect of being president of the US, but, rather, was convinced he had become the provincial plenipotentiary of a Chinese overseas possession known as Golden Wok West, where CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping can order up any asset for take-out. What a relief, Joe thought, as they brought in his morning meds. Here, now, was a one-horse pony of a different color, Joe mused, chugging down his 5mg of Haldol.

Ol’ Joe went to bed on the blessed silent night fretting that soon he’d have to answer to all those caterwauling losers about to be tossed from their McHouses and apartments after nearly a year of nonpayment. But no, the shabby dwellings would now just become the property of the People’s Liberation Army, as that very fine organization prepared to sort things out in the flea market once known as America.

Was there anything left of value? Wasn’t that a puzzlement? The former so-called Yang-kees had squandered all their laid-up treasure turning their continent into a demolition derby — six-laners lined by muffler shops, chain stores, and fried food shacks — and when all their financial resources were used up, they’d borrowed so much more money that all the certified public accountants who ever lived could not keep up with the compounded interest calculations if they worked double-shifts until the end of time. In short, the self-demolition of America was fait accompli.

Now, all that was left for Joe Biden to do was to sign some paperwork and, maybe three times a week, emerge from his basement to smile and explain to eager members of the inquisitive news media why he preferred General Tso’s Chicken over Hunan Beef. At least that’s how things seemed to shake out in Joe Biden’s brain on Christmas morning as Dr. Jill helped him to the bathroom….

Read more …

 

 

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“If people can’t control their own emotions then they have to start to control other people’s behavior.”
– John Cleese

 

 

 

 

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Dec 032020
 


Walter Langley Never morning wore to evening but some heart did break 1894

 

One In Six Covid-19 Deaths In Vermont Came From A Single Nursing Home (IC)
Possible HHS Pick Shielded Nursing Homes From Liability In COVID Outbreak (DP)
First In Line For Covid Vaccine? Some US Health Care Workers Say No (Y!)
Obama, Bush and Clinton Volunteer To Get Coronavirus Vaccine Publicly (CNN)
10 Fatal Flaws In The Main Test For COVID (RT)
Study Finds 98% Of COVID Patients Still Have Antibodies 6 Months Later (ZH)
Fed and Treasury Urge Congress To Approve More Virus Relief (AP)
Trump Demands Social Media Giants’ Liability Shield Be Scrapped (JTN)
CNN Caught Burying The Post’s Hunter Biden Exposé (NYP)
Congress Passes Bill To Target Foreign Businesses Blocking US Auditors (JTN)
Here Comes the Trucking Boom in the Weirdest Economy Ever (WS)
Assad’s Syria Is Starving Like Saddam’s Iraq (FP)
Humans Waging ‘Suicidal War’ On Nature – UN Chief Antonio Guterres (BBC)

 

 

CNN Democrats’ corona hypocrisy

 

 

“The nursing home has about 90 residents…”

One In Six Covid-19 Deaths In Vermont Came From A Single Nursing Home (IC)

One in six Covid-19 deaths in Vermont have come from a single nursing home, owned by a troubled for-profit chain, Genesis HealthCare. The novel coronavirus began to spread like wildfire in Burlington Health and Rehab in March, leading to 12 deaths in the first wave of the virus. The pandemic arrived just a few weeks after the state’s attorney general, T.J. Donovan, a Democrat, had settled an investigation into the facility for “allegations of neglect that resulted in serious injury to three residents and the death of a fourth.” The nursing home has about 90 residents. Federal nursing home staffing records reveal that registered nurse staffing in the facility failed to meet minimum levels even after the settlement, suggesting that the settlement failed to protect nursing home residents.


Lobbyists for the chain have donated to Donovan’s reelection campaign, as they have for Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, whose administration collaborated with Donovan on the settlement. The Covid-19 outbreaks in these facilities showcase not just the failed national approach to nursing home oversight, but a cozy relationship between state regulators and nursing homes. As another wave of Covid-19 hits the state, a massive outbreak has occurred at another Genesis facility in Rutland, Vermont, with 41 cases. Seven more cases have appeared at another Genesis facility in Berlin, Vermont. Nationwide, over 100,000 residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died from Covid-19, accounting for 40 percent of the total. The new wave of nursing home Covid-19 cases is not unique to Vermont; many other states are again seeing significant outbreaks at their nursing homes.

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Things will be so much better under Biden…

Possible HHS Pick Shielded Nursing Homes From Liability In COVID Outbreak (DP)

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has presided over one of the deadliest COVID outbreaks in the country — and new documents obtained by The Daily Poster detail how she helped nursing home lobbyists shield health care companies from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Now, Raimondo — a former Wall Street executive — is reportedly being considered for the nation’s top health care policy job in the incoming Biden administration. Politico reported last week that Raimondo, who made her name slashing state workers’ pensions, is one of the finalists to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President-elect Joe Biden. Raimondo was also previously considered for Treasury Secretary, according to the American Prospect.

As governor, Raimondo has slammed proposals to expand Medicare to cover everyone. Amid the pandemic in August, her administration approved health insurance companies’ steep premium increases that were criticized by the state’s Democratic attorney general as “unnecessary and ill-advised.” Health insurers have been raking in record profits, with fewer people seeking care because of the pandemic. Raimondo has also pushed for Medicaid cuts that nursing home workers warned would result in unsafe staffing levels — and in April, she issued an executive order sought by health care industry lobbyists that shielded nursing homes from lawsuits when their business decisions injure or kill people. The order was later expanded to shield nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care providers.


While the Biden transition is reportedly considering Raimondo for HHS Secretary, residents and workers in Rhode Island’s nursing homes have faced deadly consequences. Documents obtained by The Daily Poster show that Raimondo quickly responded to lobbyists’ demands for an executive order granting them legal immunity during the pandemic. “What immunity has done is allow nursing homes to act unreasonably without accountability,” one personal injury lawyer told the Providence Journal last month.

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“They failed miserably with PPE (personal protective equipment) and testing and now they want you to be guinea pigs for the vaccine..”

First In Line For Covid Vaccine? Some US Health Care Workers Say No (Y!)

They can move to front of the line for a Covid-19 vaccine if they want, but some US health care workers are skeptical about taking a vaccine that was developed in record time — even as the pandemic rages on. Some want more time, despite assurances from experts that they trust the vaccine vetting process carried out by the US Food and Drug Administration. “I think I would take the vaccine later on, but right now I am a little leery of it,” nurse Yolanda Dodson, 55, told AFP. Dodson works at the Montefiore Hospital in New York City and spent the spring in the heart of the deadly fight against the virus. Vaccine studies so far “look promising but I don’t think there is enough data yet,” Dodson said.

“We have to be grateful to those who are willing to subject themselves to take that risk” to participate in the studies, she said. “It is a very personal decision.” Diana Torres is a nurse at a Manhattan hospital who saw several of her co-workers die of the novel coronavirus this spring. She is particularly suspicious of vaccines rushed for approval under the Trump administration, which she says has handled the entire pandemic like “some sort of joke.” “This is a vaccine that was developed in less than a year and approved under the same administration and government agencies that allowed the virus to spread like a wildfire,” Torres said. “They didn’t have enough time and people to study the vaccine,” she said. “This time around I will pass and watch how it unfolds.”


Data from clinical trials have shown that two vaccines — one developed by Pfizer and BioNtech, the other by Moderna and the US National Institutes of Health — are about 95 percent effective. Normally the FDA requires six months of follow up, but if no adverse reactions appear in the first two months, it is rare to see anything in the next four — and the raging pandemic has altered the risk-benefit calculations. There were 44,000 volunteers in the Pfizer trial, and 30,000 in Moderna’s, and the data was firewalled from the companies and analyzed by experts free from political pressure. Fellow nurses commenting on Torres’s Facebook page seemed just as skeptical. “They failed miserably with PPE (personal protective equipment) and testing and now they want you to be guinea pigs for the vaccine,” one friend wrote.

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So not the health care workers, but the presidents do.

Obama: “I trust this science, and what I don’t trust is getting Covid”

Maybe someone should tell him the vaccine doesn’t protect him from getting COVID. It was never meant to do that.

Obama, Bush and Clinton Volunteer To Get Coronavirus Vaccine Publicly (CNN)

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are volunteering to get their Covid-19 vaccines on camera to promote public confidence in the vaccine’s safety once the US Food and Drug Administration authorizes one. The three most recent former presidents hope an awareness campaign to promote confidence in its safety and effectiveness would be a powerful message as American public health officials try to convince the public to take the vaccine. Freddy Ford, Bush’s chief of staff, told CNN that the 43rd President had reached out to Dr. Anthony Fauci — the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the nation’s top infectious disease expert — and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, to see how he could help promote the vaccine.

“A few weeks ago President Bush asked me to let Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx know that, when the time is right, he wants to do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated,” Ford told CNN. “First, the vaccines need to be deemed safe and administered to the priority populations. Then, President Bush will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera.” Clinton’s press secretary told CNN on Wednesday that he too would be willing to take the vaccine in a public setting in order to promote it. “President Clinton will definitely take a vaccine as soon as available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials. And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same,” Angel Urena said.


Obama, in an interview with SiriusXM host Joe Madison scheduled to air Thursday, said that if Fauci said a coronavirus vaccine is safe, he believes him. “People like Anthony Fauci, who I know, and I’ve worked with, I trust completely,” Obama said. “So, if Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting Covid, absolutely, I’m going to take it. “I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it,” he said. “I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science, and what I don’t trust is getting Covid,” he added. CNN has reached out to representatives for former President Jimmy Carter to see if he would be willing to take the vaccine publicly as well.

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“It’s cheap, fast – and absolutely useless.”

10 Fatal Flaws In The Main Test For COVID (RT)

A peer review from a group of 22 international experts has found 10 “major flaws” in the main protocol for such tests. The report systematically dismantles the original study, called the Corman-Drosten paper, which described a protocol for applying the PCR technique to detecting Covid. The Corman-Drosten paper was published on January, 23, 2020, just a day after being submitted, which would make any peer review process that took place possibly the shortest in history. What is important about it is that the protocol it describes is used in around 70 percent of Covid kits worldwide. It’s cheap, fast – and absolutely useless. Among the fatal flaws that totally invalidate the PCR testing protocol are that the test:

• is non-specific, due to erroneous primer design • is enormously variable • cannot discriminate between the whole virus and viral fragments • has no positive or negative controls • has no standard operating procedure • does not seem to have been properly peer reviewed. Oh dear. One wonders whether anything at all was correct in the paper. But wait – it gets worse. As has been noted previously, no threshold for positivity was ever identified. This is why labs have been running 40 cycles, almost guaranteeing a large number of false positives – up to 97 percent, according to some studies. The cherry on top, though, is that among the authors of the original paper themselves, at least four have severe conflicts of interest. Two of them are members of the editorial board of Eurosurveillance, the sinisterly named journal that published the paper.

And at least three of them are on the payroll of the first companies to perform PCR testing! The 22 members of the consortium that has challenged this shoddy science deserve huge credit. The scientists, from Europe, the USA, and Japan, comprise senior molecular geneticists, biochemists, immunologists, and microbiologists, with many decades of experience between them. They have issued a demand to Eurosurveillance to retract the Corman-Drosten paper, writing: “Considering the scientific and methodological blemishes presented here, we are confident that the editorial board of Eurosurveillance has no other choice but to retract the publication.’’ Talk about putting the pressure on.

It is difficult to overstate the implications of this revelation. Every single thing about the Covid orthodoxy relies on ‘case numbers’, which are largely the results of the now widespread PCR tests. If their results are essentially meaningless, then everything we are being told – and ordered to do by increasingly dictatorial governments – is likely to be incorrect. For instance, one of the authors of the review is Dr Mike Yeadon, who asserts that, in the UK, there is no ‘second wave’ and that the pandemic has been over since June. Having seen the PCR tests so unambiguously debunked, it is hard to see any evidence to the contrary.

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Since the vaccines are useless, maybe getting infected is the only protection available?!

Study Finds 98% Of COVID Patients Still Have Antibodies 6 Months Later (ZH)

In another example of how COVID-19 research has painted a complex, and sometimes conflicting, picture of the virus and the ability of the human immune system to fight it off, a team of researchers at Japan’s Yokohama City University published research showing that antibodies in COVID-19 patients persist for six months or more, even amid a preponderance of reports warning about the risk of reinfection for many particularly vulnerable patients. A Japanese research team said Wednesday that it has detected neutralizing antibodies in 98% of people six months after they were infected with SARS-CoV-2. Another study performed in the UK found that antibodies found evidence that antibody levels start to degrade within six months.


The team, led by Yokohama City University professor Takeharu Yamanaka, is already planning to conduct a follow-up study to see whether these people will still have such antibodies a year after their infections. But in the survey data released Wednesday, researcher checked blood samples from 376 people who had already recovered – the largest study of its type in Japan. The samples were collected six months after the patients were infected. According to a report on the study published by Nippon, Yamanaka said that “in general, people with neutralizing antibodies are believed to carry a low risk of reinfection…This gives some hope” for the effectiveness of the vaccines that are soon to be delivered to the public. As the west prepares to roll out the first wave of COVID-19 vaccinations, scientists will be watching closely for more data to try an ascertain whether COVID-19 can truly be defeated, or whether it might morph into a flu-like seasonal infection.

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Yes, but: horse, barn.

Fed and Treasury Urge Congress To Approve More Virus Relief (AP)

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged Congress to approve COVID-19 relief funds without further delay, though Democrats continued to attack a decision by Mnuchin to allow five Fed lending programs to expire during the pandemic. In his most direct comments so far, Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday that it’s “very important” for Congress to provide economic support. New funding would serve as a “bridge” for the economy to get from the current environment in which virus infections are spiking, to next year when vaccines should be widely available, Powell said.

“We are trying to get as many people across that bridge as we can,” Powell said. Without more assistance, Powell said, people will lose their homes and small businesses will fail. “You could lose parts of the economy,” which would slow any recovery next year, he said. “We are hearing from all over that small businesses are really under pressure,” Powell told lawmakers. For a second day a number of Democratic lawmakers on the committee challenged Mnuchin’s decision to allow five Fed lending programs to expire at the end of this year, contending that his reading of the law was incorrect. They say it’s a political maneuver to hobble the incoming Biden administration financially.

[..] In a rare split with Treasury last month, the Fed issued a statement saying that it believed it was important to continue providing an economic backstop after Mnuchin said he was terminating the programs. Mnuchin has repeatedly insisted that he was just following the CARES Act law. When Powell was asked if he agreed with that interpretation, Powell deferred to Mnuchin. Powell did say Wednesday that the Fed had issued its statement to make it clear that the central bank was committed to providing further support to the economy. “We were concerned that the public might misinterpret (Mnuchin’s action) as the Fed stepping back and thinking our work is done,” Powell said.

Asked what Congress should put in a relief bill that could pass in the lame-duck session this month, Mnuchin said his priority would be an authorization allowing the Treasury to use $140 billion in left-over funds to provide small businesses with a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans.

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Again: Yes, but: horse, barn.

Trump Demands Social Media Giants’ Liability Shield Be Scrapped (JTN)

President Trump said in a Tuesday night tweet that he will veto the National Defense Authorization Act if it does not eliminate Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act. Section 230 protects companies like Twitter from a range of laws and being held liable for what is said on their platform, as long as they don’t attempt to censor or enforce what speech is acceptable and what isn’t. “Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to “Big Tech” (the only companies in America that have it – corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” the president tweeted. “Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand.”


“Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk,” Trump wrote. “Take back America NOW. Thank you!”

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“On no planet is that not news.”

CNN Caught Burying The Post’s Hunter Biden Exposé (NYP)

The collusion of mainstream media and Big Tech to censor The Post’s Hunter Biden story now is laid bare in leaked recordings of CNN’s news meetings from the time. CNN boss Jeff Zucker is heard instructing his staff to downplay the bombshell story which implicated Joe Biden in a shady foreign-influence peddling scheme, according to audio released Tuesday by undercover news outlet Project Veritas. On the morning of Oct. 14, the day we published an e-mail from Hunter’s abandoned laptop in which a top executive from corrupt Ukrainian energy company Burisma thanked Hunter for arranging a meeting with his then-VP father, CNN political director David Chalian is heard telling Zucker and his underlings that the news network would not cover the story.

“Obviously, we’re not going with the New York Post story right now on Hunter Biden,” said Chalian. “We’ll just continue to report out this is the very stuff that the President was impeached over . . . that Senate Committees looked at and found nothing wrong in Joe Biden’s interactions with Ukrainians.” Chalian, who oversees all CNN’s political coverage, was not being straight with his colleagues. This was new evidence reflecting on Joe Biden’s integrity, suggesting that despite repeated denials, he had met with an executive of the company which was paying his wayward son up to $83,000 a month to sit on its board, at a time when Burisma was looking for favors from the US government and he was vice president.


This was the first concrete link between Joe and his family’s shady foreign business deals and there was much more to come over the next few days, all ignored or pooh-poohed by CNN in a naked bid to protect the Biden campaign from legitimate scrutiny. Most of the rest of the media followed suit. Twitter locked the Post account for two weeks and Facebook throttled our audience reach. What made our story all the more compelling that first day was the feeble response from Joe’s campaign. Initially, they said there was no record of any such meeting on his “official schedule” but finally admitted that an “informal” meeting with Burisma may have occurred. On no planet is that not news.

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Makes sense.

Congress Passes Bill To Target Foreign Businesses Blocking US Auditors (JTN)

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday that would boot businesses from China and other foreign countries from U.S. stock exchanges if they failed to give American auditors access to examine financial reports. The legislation would obligate foreign businesses to give access to U.S. auditors to scrutinize financial reports or be in danger of getting barred from trading on an American stock exchange or over-the-counter market. Politico described the bill as an aspect of a larger crackdown regarding Chinese engagement with Wall Street that has been building steam in the U.S. legislature, the White House and the financial industry.


The bill calls for the Securities and Exchange Commission to make rules to block trading the stock of businesses that have barred inspectors for three years in a row, the outlet said. “Communist China is right now using U.S. stock exchanges to exploit American workers and families—people who put their retirement and college savings in public companies,” U.S. Sen. John Kennedy said in a statement. “U.S. policy is letting China flout rules that American companies play by, and it’s dangerous.” During a press conference earlier on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying expressed opposition to the U.S. bill, stating that it demonstrates “the United States applies discriminatory policies to Chinese companies and launches political oppression against them.”

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Odd consequences.

Here Comes the Trucking Boom in the Weirdest Economy Ever (WS)

Boom and bust cycles are guaranteed in this business. And now, this is the Weirdest Economy Ever, powered by the $3 trillion the Fed threw at the markets, and by $3 trillion in government stimulus and bailout spending, and by a huge shift to work-from-home and learning-at-home that required all kinds of spending on laptops, network equipment, office chairs, desks, and, well, hot-tubs, and powered also by huge shifts on what consumers actually spent their money on. Spending shifted from services, such as plane tickets, hotels, gyms, haircuts, manicures, rent (encouraged by eviction bans), and mortgage payments (made possible by forbearance), to stuff.


And ecommerce is booming, and this stuff needs to be transported, much of it from overseas, and so imports are booming, and all this stuff has to then be shipped by truck or rail, and so all heck has broken loose in the container shipping business. Trucking companies, which had cut their equipment orders to the bone during the two-year-long freight recession, are now grappling with the notion of equipment shortages. And starting in September, they started ordering large numbers of class-8 trucks that haul the goods across America, and in November, orders for class 8 trucks exploded to 52,600 orders, according to FTR Transportation Intelligence, matching the prior two historic records of July and August 2018:

“The tremendous volume reflects several large fleets placing their requirement orders for the entirety of 2021 to lock up build slots, which they perceive could be in short supply next year,” FTR said in the note. Truckers are dealing with the current flood of consumer-oriented freight. And they expect the industrial-oriented freight, which is still lagging, to hopefully pick up soon. “Fleets are placing big orders anticipating needing more trucks throughout next year,” FTR said. This boom in orders was triple the number of orders in November last year, the biggest year-over-year percentage gain (199%) in years. This chart of percentage changes from the same month a year earlier also depicts the whiplash-inducing boom-and-bust nature of the industry:

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Huh, what? “..much of Syria’s infrastructure was destroyed by the blind bombing of the regime and its Russian allies..”

Assad’s Syria Is Starving Like Saddam’s Iraq (FP)

Thirty-year-old Ayman fled Damascus, Syria, for Beirut at the beginning of the Syrian civil war. Over the last year, while Lebanon’s economy collapsed and it became harder for him to find work, the conflict back home seemed to be subsiding. So he called several of his friends, all living in regime-controlled territory, to inquire if it was time to return. They were unequivocal. “They said, ‘Stay wherever you are, there’s not even enough to eat here,’” Ayman said, on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. During the nine-year civil war, much of Syria’s infrastructure was destroyed by the blind bombing of the regime and its Russian allies, as well as front-line fighting. Food production, power generation, and other industries fell by the wayside.

Syria’s economy, tethered to Lebanon’s, hobbled on for a while. However, early this year, as Lebanon’s monetary policy unraveled and capital controls were imposed to avoid a run on the banks, billions of dollars of deposits by Syrian businesses were also blocked. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claims Lebanese banks hold at least $20 billion of Syrians’ earnings, which, if they were accessible, would resolve the Syrian economic crisis all at once. The currencies of Lebanon’s neighbors plummeted simultaneously as prices of basic commodities skyrocketed, in Syria by more than 200 percent. Life became hard for the Lebanese, but harder still for war-ravaged Syrians.


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Does he still fly, drive, buy stuff wrapped in plastic? If so, what’s the message here exactly?

Humans Waging ‘Suicidal War’ On Nature – UN Chief Antonio Guterres (BBC)

“Our planet is broken,” the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has warned. Humanity is waging what he describes as a “suicidal” war on the natural world. “Nature always strikes back, and is doing so with gathering force and fury,” he told a BBC special event on the environment. Mr Guterres wants to put tackling climate change at the heart of the UN’s global mission. In a speech entitled State of the Planet, he announced that its “central objective” next year will be to build a global coalition around the need to reduce emissions to net zero. Net zero refers to cutting greenhouse gas emissions as far as possible and balancing any further releases by removing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.

Mr Guterres said that every country, city, financial institution and company “should adopt plans for a transition to net zero emissions by 2050”. In his view, they will also need to take decisive action now to put themselves on the path towards achieving this vision. The objective, said the UN secretary general, will be to cut global emissions by 45% by 2030 compared with 2010 levels. Here’s what Mr Guterres demanded the nations of the world do: • Put a price on carbon • Phase out fossil fuel finance and end fossil fuel subsidies • Shift the tax burden from income to carbon, and from tax payers to polluters • Integrate the goal of carbon neutrality (a similar concept to net zero) into all economic and fiscal policies and decisions


Help those around the world who are already facing the dire impacts of climate change It is an ambitious agenda, as Mr Guterres acknowledged, but he said that radical action is needed now. “The science is clear,” Mr Guterres told the BBC, “unless the world cuts fossil fuel production by 6% every year between now and 2030, things will get worse. Much worse.” Climate policies have yet to rise to the challenge, the UN chief said, adding that “without concerted action, we may be headed for a catastrophic three to five-degree temperature rise this century”. The impact is already being felt around the world. “Apocalyptic fires and floods, cyclones and hurricanes are the new normal,” he warned. “Biodiversity is collapsing. Deserts are spreading. Oceans are choking with plastic waste.”

Read more …

 

 

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Oct 282020
 


Gustav Klimt Pine forest I 1901

 

Last Round-up at the Wokester Corral (Jim Kunstler)
Multi-Organ Impairment In Low-Risk Individuals With Long COVID (medrxiv)
UK Study Finds Evidence Of Waning Antibody Immunity To COVID19 Over Time (R.)
Spanish Doctors In First Walkout In 25 Years To Protest New COVID19 Order (ZH)
White House Watch: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (Rasmussen)
Don’t Believe The Polls – Trump Is Winning (Hill)
Bobulinski Says He Met Joe Biden Twice In Connection With Chinese Venture (JTN)
How The Authenticity of Hunter’s Laptop Became Immaterial (Turley)
Biden Calls Russia #1 Threat But Slammed Romney For Saying It In 2012 (JTN)
Senate Investigates Hunter Biden’s Failure to Register as Foreign Agent (RCI)
The Last Days of the Trumpian Reich (CJ Hopkins)
‘Covid First’ China Is Trumping ‘America First’ In Economic Recovery (Roach)
Banksy’s Foolproof Plan for Dealing With Anyone Who Steals His Art (Y!)
Newly Sworn-In ACB Immediately Orders All Women To Wear Handmaid Outfit (BBee)

 

 

 

 

Kim Dotcom Joe Biden

 

 

“…a free society is obliged to tolerate the expression of disagreeable ideas up to the limit, as the Supreme Court put it, of “crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”

Last Round-up at the Wokester Corral (Jim Kunstler)

I have some questions for former friends who have dumped me on account of my support for Mr. Trump’s re-election — which is mostly a vote to prevent the Democratic Party and its fellow travelers from running the government. On the whole, these former friends are college-educated, mature in experience, and cultured. Some of them are well-acquainted with history, which is to say, they ought to know better than to support the obviously illiberal motives of the political Left. Are you against the principle of free speech? The Democratic Party is. They used to be champions of the First Amendment; now they want to make it conditional on ideas and sentiments they support. Contrary ideas are to be labeled “hate speech,” and suppressed, along with anything that might hurt somebody’s feelings.

How did you come to such a complete misunderstanding of what free speech means? Namely, that a free society is obliged to tolerate the expression of disagreeable ideas up to the limit, as the Supreme Court put it, of “crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” I will answer my own question partially by saying: you have been programmed against free speech by what used to be the very vehicles of it, the newspapers and TV News channels, which have, amazingly, come out against freedom of the press and turned into propaganda outlets for Woke Progressivism and its illiberal agenda — thereby inadvertently committing suicide of the entire profession. We’ve seen this acted-out most vividly just the past week in the social media companies’ efforts to suppress all news of the Biden family’s global business operations, along with The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and other leading news organizations that Americans used to depend on to know what was happening in the nation.

This is especially unforgivable during a national election. Did you support the movement on campus in recent years to shut down events featuring speakers such as Charles Murray (The Bell Curve), Heather Mac Donald of City Journal, Dinesh D’Souza, and many others who represented not-so-Woke ideas that “offended” you? Since when are your feelings so special that they negate the open exchange of ideas in the places that used to be dedicated to it, the universities? Should higher education only entertain ideas that you and your cohorts approve of? What if, in some future, a different cohort gains control of higher education and seeks to exclude your ideas on the grounds that they’re “offensive” (i.e. they just don’t like them)?

Are you in favor of a politicized Department of Justice and CIA? That is what the Democratic Party’s Resistance League deliberately brought about during the 2016 election, and they continue to promote it. Is it okay for bureaucrats to break the law to disable their political adversaries? That was the essence of the RussiaGate ruse. Former employees of those agencies, such as ex-CIA chief John Brennan and Andrew Weissmann, who ran the Mueller investigation, to this day still hype “Russian collusion” falsehoods to deflect attention from their own misdeeds. You let them get away with that.

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201 participants, median age 44, 70% women, large majority not high risk. Only 18% hospitalized. Median time 140 days from first symptom: 99% suffered at least four symptoms. 42% suffered at least ten. In 66%, injuries in at least one organ, in 25% in at least two organs.

Multi-Organ Impairment In Low-Risk Individuals With Long COVID (medrxiv)

Background Severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection has disproportionately affected older individuals and those with underlying medical conditions. Research has focused on short-term outcomes in hospital, and single organ involvement. Consequently, impact of long COVID (persistent symptoms three months post-infection) across multiple organs in low-risk individuals is yet to be assessed.

Methods An ongoing prospective, longitudinal, two-centre, observational study was performed in individuals symptomatic after recovery from acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. Symptoms and organ function (heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen) were assessed by standardised questionnaires (EQ-5D-5L, Dyspnoea-12), blood investigations and quantitative magnetic resonance imaging, defining single and multi-organ impairment by consensus definitions.

Findings Between April and September 2020, 201 individuals (mean age 44 (SD 11.0) years, 70% female, 87% white, 31% healthcare workers) completed assessments following SARS-CoV-2 infection (median 140, IQR 105-160 days after initial symptoms). The prevalence of pre-existing conditions (obesity: 20%, hypertension: 6%; diabetes: 2%; heart disease: 4%) was low, and only 18% of individuals had been hospitalised with COVID-19. Fatigue (98%), muscle aches (88%), breathlessness (87%), and headaches (83%) were the most frequently reported symptoms. Ongoing cardiorespiratory (92%) and gastrointestinal (73%) symptoms were common, and 42% of individuals had ten or more symptoms.

There was evidence of mild organ impairment in heart (32%), lungs (33%), kidneys (12%), liver (10%), pancreas (17%), and spleen (6%). Single (66%) and multi-organ (25%) impairment was observed, and was significantly associated with risk of prior COVID-19 hospitalisation (p<0.05).

Interpretation In a young, low-risk population with ongoing symptoms, almost 70% of individuals have impairment in one or more organs four months after initial symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection. There are implications not only for burden of long COVID but also public health approaches which have assumed low risk in young people with no comorbidities.

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It’s the combination of the article above, and this one, that has me thinking. Both talk about what happens in a 6 month period or longer.

UK Study Finds Evidence Of Waning Antibody Immunity To COVID19 Over Time (R.)

Antibodies against the novel coronavirus declined rapidly in the British population during the summer, a study found on Tuesday, suggesting protection after infection may not be long lasting and raising the prospect of waning immunity in the community. Scientists at Imperial College London have tracked antibody levels in the British population following the first wave of COVID-19 infections in March and April. Their study found that antibody prevalence fell by a quarter, from 6% of the population around the end of June to just 4.4% in September. That raises the prospect of decreasing population immunity ahead of a second wave of infections in recent weeks that has forced local lockdowns and restrictions.

Although immunity to the novel coronavirus is a complex and murky area, and may be assisted by T cells, as well as B cells that can stimulate the quick production of antibodies following re-exposure to the virus, the researchers said the experience of other coronaviruses suggested immunity might not be enduring. “We can see the antibodies and we can see them declining and we know that antibodies on their own are quite protective,” Wendy Barclay, head of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London told reporters. “On the balance of evidence I would say, with what we know for other coronaviruses, it would look as if immunity declines away at the same rate as antibodies decline away, and that this is an indication of waning immunity at the population level.”

Those for whom COVID-19 was confirmed with a gold standard PCR test had a less pronounced decline in antibodies, compared to people who had been asymptomatic and unaware of their original infection. There was no change in the levels of antibodies seen in healthcare workers, possibly due to repeated exposure to the virus. The study backs up findings from similar surveys in Germany which found the vast majority of people didn’t have COVID-19 antibodies, even in hotspots for the disease, and that antibodies might fade in those who do.

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“The order requires doctors and nurses to report to any of a range of assignments that could be handed to them by the government during the state of emergency..”

Spanish Doctors In First Walkout In 25 Years To Protest New COVID19 Order (ZH)

Doctors across Spain have walked out on Tuesday in what media outlets have called the first medical strike to rock the country in 25 years. As the coronavirus pandemic rages across Spain, where the Health Ministry reported another 18,418 new daily cases on Tuesday, doctors are beginning the strike, which was called in defiance of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s latest emergency order, which was implemented on Sunday. The order requires doctors and nurses to report to any of a range of assignments that could be handed to them by the government during the state of emergency, which could be in place for months. Doctors complained that the new law violated their rights, and compromised the standard of care for patients, as doctors would end up working in an area they weren’t specialized in.


The strike will continue indefinitely, with doctors set to continue striking on the last Tuesday of every month until a deal has been reached. For the first time, 200,000 new cases were confirmed in Spain over the previous two weeks, and cases on Tuesday were up 33% compared with the prior week. And over the last 24 hours, another 267 people have died. “The Health Ministry hasn’t even dignified us with a meeting to try and get us to call off the strike,” he told Spanish health journal iSanidad. Spain’s hospitals harbor nearly 16,700 active COVID-19 patients – up more than 600 compared to Monday, with one quarter of all the country’s ICU units used to treat those with an infectious disease.

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The day before, Trump was ahead.

White House Watch: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (Rasmussen)

Democrat Joe Biden has edged back ahead in Rasmussen Reports’ daily White House Watch survey. The latest national telephone and online survey of Likely U.S. Voters shows Biden earning 49% support to President Trump’s 47%. Three percent (3%) like some other candidate, while two percent (2%) are still undecided. Yesterday, Trump was ahead for the first time since mid-September – by a minimal 48% to 47%. The race has been tightening since early in the month.


Rasmussen Reports has been releasing White House Watch weekly on Wednesdays since the beginning of July. But starting this week, White House Watch will be posted daily at 10:30 am Eastern. Trump earns 82% support among Republicans. Biden has 78% of the Democrat vote and leads by three among voters not affiliated with either major party. The survey of 1,500 Likely Voters was conducted October 22 and 25-26, 2020 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

Trump: VOTE

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FYI.

Don’t Believe The Polls – Trump Is Winning (Hill)

We predict that President Trump is going to win the 2020 presidential election — and win big. While the majority of the polls suggest that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is leading, or at best that it’s close, those polls suffer from at least three problems. First, the tone of the questions. There is significant evidence from behavioral psychology that suggests that the way a question is framed predetermines the range of potential answers. In fact, Gallup has found that respondents can answer very differently to questions with the same topic even in the same survey based on the language that’s used. And the use of metaphors can even dwarf the importance of pre-existing differences between Republicans and Democrats.

One of the reasons respondents do that is because of a tendency to give socially desirable answers, which was the case especially during the 2016 election. Most people don’t like confrontation, so the easiest, albeit not necessarily the best, solution is to avoid it. Right now, saying that you’re voting for Trump/Pence is often not the socially desirable answer. In fact, a recent poll by the Cato Institute suggests that nearly two-thirds of Americans say that the political climate is sufficiently harsh that they don’t want to give their genuine opinion about politics.

Second, the sample of respondents. Who responds depends on many factors, including the medium (e.g., landline versus cellphone), the location, the sample size and demographic factors. Moreover, the pool of respondents is not necessarily the same as the pool of likely voters. Even though election polls all contain a margin of error, that margin of error is unreliable if the underlying sample does not reflect the population. Researchers have also identified self-screening as the major contributing factor to the polling failures during the 2016 election cycle. For example, distrust of pollsters also leads to lower response rates for Trump supporters. Rasmussen finds that 17 percent of likely U.S. voters who “strongly approve” of the job President Trump is doing say they are less likely to let others know how they intend to vote in the upcoming election.

By comparison, only 8 percent of those who “strongly disapprove” of the president’s performance say the same. While proper sampling methodology matters more than the size, having a representative sample with enough people still helps considerably. Robert Cahaly of the Trafalgar Group notes how their work to create minimum samples sizes of 1,000 voters, added to their work to doggedly pursue the “quiet Trump voter,” led to Trafalgar being one of the most successful battleground polling firms in the country in 2016. Cahaly explains that “we don’t do a state with less than a thousand. You see these polls, 400, 500, 600 people for a state. I don’t buy that. Your margin of error is far too high.”

Third, the content of the current news cycle. What’s going on in a particular moment in time can influence voter attitudes, particularly in swing states. For example, the recent revelation of Hunter Biden’s hidden emails on his laptop, coupled with the link to his father, has come at an opportune time for the president. Moreover, if the economic recovery continues, the good news may continue putting wind in Trump’s sails.

Leaflet left on reporters’ chairs in Airforce One.

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Crickets in the MSM.

Bobulinski Says He Met Joe Biden Twice In Connection With Chinese Venture (JTN)

In a lengthy interview with Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night, former Biden family business associate Tony Bobulinski accused Joe Biden of a “blatant lie” in denying any familiarity with his son Hunter’s business undertakings, claiming he himself met with Biden on two separate occasions to discuss prospective ventures into Chinese markets. Bobulinski painted a picture of the Democratic presidential nominee as actively aware in broad strokes of plans for the Biden family to enter into a business partnership with Chinese nationals closely tied to the Chinese Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army — yet with Biden himself maintaining enough distance from the operational details in face-to-face encounters to preserve what his brother Jim Biden would characterize as “plausible deniability.”


Biden’s family members, Bobuilnski claimed, were “putting their entire family legacy on the line” in their dealings with the Chinese. “They knew exactly what they were doing,” he said. They were dealing with a Chinese owned enterprise … that had strong financial support and political support from the Chinese Communist Party. That’s how it was presented to me. That’s not my own words. That’s how they presented it to me and read me in on it.” Bobulinski made headlines last week when he claimed to have firsthand evidence of Biden’s involvement in those deals. “I’ve seen Vice President Biden saying he never talked to Hunter about his business,” Bobulinski said in a statement. “I’ve seen firsthand that that’s not true.”

Tucker Bobulinkski

In a largely unbroken 45-minute interview with Carlson on Tuesday, Bobulinski further went on the record, telling the Fox host that he was approached by the Biden family and several associates in 2017 in order to help manage a business venture in China. Bobulinski said he met with Biden at the Milken Institute’s 2017 Global Conference in Los Angeles. “They were wining and dining me to get me more engaged,” he told Carlson. “I didn’t request to meet with Joe,” Bobulinski said. “They requested I meet with Joe.” Bobulinski, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant, said he met with Biden twice in the course of his association with the family. Biden reportedly told Bobulinski to “keep an eye on Hunter and [Biden’s brother] James” during their dealings.


Chinese officials, Bobulinski said, looked at him as “irrelevant,” seeing “the Biden family” as the main focus of their dealings. He claimed that the Bidens received a $5 million no-collateral, no-interest loan from Chinese officials. Bobulinski was motivated to come forward, he told Carlson, after California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff denounced recently leaked emails involving Hunter Biden as “Russian disinformation.” That allegation, Bobulinski told Carlson, also smeared his own family’s name. “I was at the end of the rope,” he said. “I called [Biden associate] Rob Walker. I told him if that statement wasn’t retracted by midnight on Sunday then I was going on record.”

Tucker Bobulinkski 8 Minutes

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“It simply does not matter. It is disinformation because it is simply inconvenient to treat it as real information.”

How The Authenticity of Hunter’s Laptop Became Immaterial (Turley)

Yesterday, former Vice President Joe Biden was again insisting that the scandal involving Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinformation despite the direct refutation of that claim by the FBI. No mainstream reporter bothered to ask the simple question of whether this was his son’s laptop and emails, including emails clearly engaging in an influence peddling scheme and referring to Joe Biden’s knowledge. Instead, media has maintained a consistent and narrow focus. Indeed, in her interview, Leslie Stahl immediately dismissed any “scandal” involving Hunter in an interview with the President on 60 Minutes. It was an open example of what I previously noted in a column: “After all, an allegation is a scandal only if it is damaging. No coverage, no damage, no scandal.”

In her interview with Joe Biden, CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell did not push Biden to simply confirm that the emails were fake or whether he did in fact meet with Hunter’s associates (despite his prior denials). Instead O’Donnell asked: “Do you believe the recent leak of material allegedly from Hunter’s computer is part of a Russian disinformation campaign?” Biden responded with the same answer that has gone unchallenged dozens of times: “From what I’ve read and know the intelligence community warned the president that Giuliani was being fed disinformation from the Russians. And we also know that Putin is trying very hard to spread disinformation about Joe Biden. And so when you put the combination of Russia, Giuliani– the president, together– it’s just what it is. It’s a smear campaign because he has nothing he wants to talk about. What is he running on? What is he running on?”

It did not matter that the answer omitted the key assertion that this was not Hunter’s laptop or emails or that he did not leave the computer with this store. Recently, Washington Post columnist Thomas Rid wrote said the quiet part out loud by telling the media: “We must treat the Hunter Biden leaks as if they were a foreign intelligence operation — even if they probably aren’t.” Let that sink in for a second. It does not matter if these are real emails and not Russian disinformation. They probably are real but should be treated as disinformation even though American intelligence has repeatedly rebutted that claim. It does not even matter that the FBI has seized the computer as evidence in a criminal fraud investigation or that a Biden confidant is now giving his allegations to the FBI under threat of criminal charges if he lies to investigators. It simply does not matter. It is disinformation because it is simply inconvenient to treat it as real information.

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Times change. RussiaRussia has become indispensible.

Biden Calls Russia #1 Threat But Slammed Romney For Saying It In 2012 (JTN)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden recently identified Russia as the number one threat to America but in 2012, when he was vice president, Biden called then-GOP presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney “out of touch” for taking the same position. Biden said Romney views the “world through a Cold War prism that is totally out of touch with the realities of the 21st century.” Biden slammed Romney for referring to Russia as “our number one geopolitical foe,” which was greeted with laughter from members of the audience watching Biden’s address in April 2012. “Governor Romney is mired in a Cold War mindset,” Biden said in a foreign policy speech at New York University in 2012.

Biden referred to Romney’s criticism of Obama’s handling of the New START treaty, which was a nuclear arms control treaty reached with Russia in 2010. “Governor Romney was part of a very small group of Cold War holdovers who never met an arms control treaty that he likes,” he said. “He was way out of the mainstream on this issue, unless you think that’s just political hyperbole.” “He acts like he thinks the Cold War is still on, Russia is still our major adversary,” Biden said in an interview on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” in 2012. “I don’t know where he has been. We have disagreements with Russia, but they’re united with us on Iran. One of only two ways we’re getting material into Afghanistan to our troops is through Russia … if there is an oil shutdown in any way in the Gulf, they’ll consider increasing oil supplies to Europe. This is not 1956.”

In October 2012, Obama mocked Romney’s position on Russia as the top threat to the U.S. during a presidential debate. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” Obama said. In a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday evening, Biden said Russia is the greatest threat to the U.S. “The biggest threat to America right now in terms of breaking up our security and our alliances is Russia,” he said.

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“The email indicates Hunter was familiar with the requirements of the law. It is a crime to knowingly violate FARA. Violations carry a maximum punishment of five years in prison.”

Senate Investigates Hunter Biden’s Failure to Register as Foreign Agent (RCI)

A search of Justice Department databases reveals that Hunter Biden failed to register as a foreign agent while promoting the interests of foreign business partners in Washington, including brokering meetings with his father and other government officials, and RealClear Investigations has learned at least one Senate committee is investigating whether Joe Biden’s son violated federal laws requiring disclosure of such foreign contacts. The Obama administration did not prosecute Hunter Biden for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, despite its much more aggressive pursuit of FARA cases relative to other administrations — including its opening of criminal investigations on no fewer than six Trump campaign advisers in 2016.

One of them, Paul Manafort, ended up in prison in part for failing to publicly disclose his lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian clients and partners. Newly discovered April 2015 emails show Hunter Biden appeared to be helping a Ukrainian energy executive meet with and lobby his father, who was vice president at the time. Hunter, who held a lucrative seat on the board of Ukrainian gas giant Burisma at the time, also sought meetings with State Department officials. None of these contacts was publicly disclosed in government filings, according to a search of both FARA and Lobbying Disclosure Act records, which show Hunter registered as a federal lobbyist in 2001 and stopped filing disclosures in 2008. In contrast, Hunter’s former law partner and fellow lobbyist, William Oldaker, has registered as a foreign agent under FARA. Oldaker is Joe Biden’s longtime campaign lawyer and fundraiser.

At least one Senate committee is actively investigating Hunter’s compliance with the FARA law. Though it has not sent a criminal referral to Justice, RCI has also learned that a public-interest law firm is preparing a complaint to Justice regarding Hunter Biden’s arranging meetings between his foreign contacts and his father when he was vice president. Former investigators and prosecutors say the uneven enforcement of the federal statute smacks of politics. “It’s a double standard, 100%,” said former assistant FBI director Chris Swecker, who led public corruption cases out of Washington. Added Swecker, who also served as a prosecutor: “It’s strange how in this election there is no curiosity whatsoever about foreign influence on a potential president of the United States, especially from this country’s greatest threat — China.”

[..] In a May 2017 email, their mutual business partner, James Biden, sent his nephew Hunter, Bobulinski and other partners a list of friendly American political contacts whom they could exploit to advance the proposed joint venture with their Chinese partners. Among the “key domestic contacts” were: Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who is now Joe Biden’s vice presidential running mate. (FARA records show James Biden has not registered as a foreign agent, either.) In an earlier email that same month, Hunter sought to avoid registering as a foreign agent as part of the venture. “We don’t want to have to register as foreign agents,” he told Bobulinski on May 1, 2017, and suggested setting up a U.S. shell company to work around it. The email indicates Hunter was familiar with the requirements of the law. It is a crime to knowingly violate FARA. Violations carry a maximum punishment of five years in prison.

@RobertPLewis: “I didn’t think the audio from Hunter Biden’s laptop could be worse than the child endangerment pics, but it is. Verbal admission from Hunter that he knew he and his dad were in bed & business with Chinese intelligence. Bruh. That’s treason”

Hunter: F*cking spy chief of China

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“Trump will face some sort of Nuremberg trial, where he will have to answer for mass-murdering six million people with the Coronavirus by taking off his mask on the White House balcony. Hillary Clinton will be appointed … something.”

The Last Days of the Trumpian Reich (CJ Hopkins)

So, according to the corporate media, this is it for Russian-backed Hitler. Game over. The walls are closing in. It’s the last days of the Trumpian Reich. Get those vuvuzelas ready! Yes, apparently, the American people, who were all a bunch of Putin-worshipping, white-supremacist neo-Nazis when they elected Trump in 2016, have come to their senses and are going to deliver a landslide victory to “Slappy” Joe Biden and bring down the curtain on this “Age of Darkness,” or save the world from “racial Orwellianism” or the “bottomless pit of facsism,” or whatever. White supremacy will be defeated and globalization will rise from the ashes! Decency will be restored! Love will trump hate! Black lives will matter!

Slappy and Kamala will immediately fly down and liberate the concentration camps. Trump will face some sort of Nuremberg trial, where he will have to answer for mass-murdering six million people with the Coronavirus by taking off his mask on the White House balcony. Hillary Clinton will be appointed … something. Exuberant liberals will pour into the streets, chanting unintelligible slogans through their designer masks and plastic head bubbles. OK, sure, the global economy will be ruined, and millions of people will be unemployed, and homeless, or will have needlessly died, so that GloboCap could simulate an apocalyptic global plague, and foment racialized civil unrest, and just generally create an atmosphere of confusion, depression, and paranoia, but the War on Populism will finally be over … and GloboCap will start to “Build Back Better!”

OK, it won’t be “better” right away. As our friends at the World Economic Forum note: “Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, the world is off-balance – and it will remain so for years to come. Far from settling into a ‘new normal’, we should expect a Covid19 domino effect, triggering further disruptions – positive as well as negative – over the decade ahead. The wave of civil unrest that spread across America and beyond recently may be one example …” So, all right, maybe not quite the end of the War on Populism, but at least a new stage of it. A chaotic, destructive, violent stage of it, which will require a lot of “emergency measures” and will end up radically transforming the planet into one big pathologized-totalitarian marketplace.

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Stephen Roach knows a thing or two.

‘Covid First’ China Is Trumping ‘America First’ In Economic Recovery (Roach)

Just as China led the world in economic recovery in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008, it is playing a similar role today. Its post-Covid rebound is gathering momentum amid a developed world that remains on shaky ground. Unfortunately, this is a bitter pill for many to swallow – especially in the United States, where demonisation of China has reached epic proportions. The two crises are, of course, different. Wall Street was ground zero for the 2008 crisis, while the Covid-19 pandemic was spawned in the wet markets of Wuhan. But in both cases, China’s crisis-response strategy was far more effective than that deployed by the US. In the five years following the onset of the 2008 crisis, annual real GDP growth in China averaged 8.6 per cent (on a purchasing power parity basis).

While that was slower than the blistering (and unsustainable) 11.6 per cent average pace of the five previous years, it was four times the US economy’s anaemic 2.1 per cent average annual growth over the post-crisis 2010-14 period. China’s pandemic response hints at a comparable outcome in the years ahead. The GDP report for the third quarter of 2020 suggests a rapid return to the pre-Covid trend. The 4.9 per cent year-on-year figure for real GDP growth does not convey a full sense of the self-sustaining recovery that is now emerging in China. Measuring economic growth on a sequential quarterly basis and converting those comparisons to annual rates – the preferred construct of US statisticians and policymakers – provides a much cleaner sense of real-time shifts in the underlying momentum of any economy.

On that basis, China’s real GDP rose at an 11 per cent sequential annual rate in the third quarter, following a 55 per cent post-lockdown surge in the second quarter. The comparison with the US is noteworthy. Both economies experienced comparable contractions during their respective lockdowns, which came one quarter later for the US. China’s 33.8 per cent sequential (annualised) plunge in the first quarter was almost identical to the 31.2 per cent US contraction in the second quarter. Based on incoming high-frequency (monthly) data, the so-called GDPNow estimate of the Atlanta Federal Reserve puts third-quarter sequential real GDP growth in the US at around 35 per cent. While that is a welcome and marked turnaround from the record decline during the lockdown, it is about 20 percentage points short of China’s post-lockdown rebound and still leaves the US economy about 3 per cent below its peak of late 2019.

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“The big problem I had with people removing my street work wasn’t that it was exploiting and stealing from the community — it was because the stolen stuff looked so much better than what I was making in the studio..”

Banksy’s Foolproof Plan for Dealing With Anyone Who Steals His Art (Y!)

Contemporary art is a tricky business. If you’ve collected a painting or sculpture by a modern artist, odds are good that you’ll have some record of the transaction, and some method of verifying that the work you have is both genuine and genuinely obtained. That becomes a bit more complicated when the artist in question — though world-famous — has a penchant for anonymously leaving their work in urban spaces to create impromptu public art. Yes, we’re talking about Banksy, and one of his lesser-known practices which has recently come into sharp relief. Last week, a clip from Antiques Roadshow went viral. It features a man looking to get a small painting by Banksy evaluated. When asked how he’d come by it, the man admit he’d seen it while walking down a street in Brighton one night.

Recognizing it as Banksy’s handiwork, he then removed it from where it had been screwed into place. What follows is a brief and memorable lesson in morality. Pro tip: it’s generally considered poor form to admit to stealing something while being recorded for television. As the show’s host reveals, Banksy has established a virtual portal to authenticate whether specific works of his are both genuine and genuinely obtained — and, as the guy trying to get a painting valued admits, he’d visited the site and been told that the painting could not be validated because it was not obtained legally. Dubbed Pest Control, the service offers an easy-to-use interface to determine a particular work’s validity.

Elsewhere on Pest Control’s site, they offer a more extensive explanation of what they do — namely, issue certificates of authenticity. As for what that means, well — here’s what Pest Control themselves have to say: “The certificate of authenticity (COA) means you can buy, sell or insure a piece of art knowing it’s legitimate and the wheels won’t fall off,” they write. “Pest Control is the only source of COA’s for Banksy. We issue them for paintings, prints, sculptures and other attempts at creativity. We don’t issue them for things like stickers, posters, defaced currency or anything which wasn’t originally intended as a ‘work of art’.” Pest Control also offers a “Keeping It Real” service, which lets prospective buyers of a work by Banksy confirm that the work is, in fact, legitimate.

[..] “The big problem I had with people removing my street work wasn’t that it was exploiting and stealing from the community — it was because the stolen stuff looked so much better than what I was making in the studio,” he told artnet news.

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“All women are now required to bear at least seventeen babies.”

Newly Sworn-In ACB Immediately Orders All Women To Wear Handmaid Outfit (BBee)

After being sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, Amy Coney Barrett immediately issued a decree that all women are to wear red handmaid’s outfits for the rest of their lives. “Execute papal order 66,” she said, her eyes glowing red. “Implement the theocratic state.” Barrett sent out squads of soldiers to round up women and make sure they wear the garment at all times. All women are now required to bear at least seventeen babies. Attendance at Catholic Mass is also mandatory. Those who violate the order will be executed, “no exceptions,” said Barrett. “She can’t do this! This is unconstitutional!” screamed Rachel Maddow as enforcement squads kicked in the doors at MSNBC’s studios and grabbed her for reconditioning as a subservient handmaid. “I warned you! I WARNED ALL OF YOU!” The whole country turning into a Christofascist state seems to be a negative to many, but the nation is quite a bit more peaceful now.

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Jul 242020
 


Vincent van Gogh Branches Of An Almond Tree In Blossom in Red 1890

 

Coronavirus Traveled Nearly 30 Feet At German Slaughterhouse (ZH)
US Clears Way For Drugmakers To Share COVID Antibody Capacity (R.)
Over 30 Million Americans About to Lose $600 in Unemployment Benefits (Mish)
More Than 1,000 People At Twitter Had Ability To Aid Hack Of Accounts (R.)
How the Child Care Crisis Will Distort the Economy for a Generation (Pol.)
Georgia’s Governor And Atlanta’s Mayor Ordered To Mediate Face Mask Fight (R.)
Pompeo Urges More Assertive Approach To ‘Frankenstein’ China (R.)
China’s Three Gorges Dam At The Brink (AC)
Congress Blocks Defunding the Pentagon: What We Could Do With The Money (MPN)
Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Opens As A Mosque For Muslim Prayers (AP)
Disney Postpones ‘Mulan’ Indefinitely, Delays ‘Avatar’ And ‘Star Wars’ (R.)

 

 

No records, nothing terribly spectacular, but the numbers remain elevated. When you look at the daily new cases in the US since mid-June, that’s quite the graph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maté
https://twitter.com/aaronjmate/status/1286504352203644930

 

 

 

 

Slaughterhouses and care homes. What do they have in common?

Coronavirus Traveled Nearly 30 Feet At German Slaughterhouse (ZH)

COVID-19 particles traveled 26 feet across a German slaughterhouse where approximtely 1,500 workers contracted the virus, according to researchers who reconstructed the likely cause of the outbreak at the Toennies Groups slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck. According to Bloomberg, a combination of cold, stale air allowed the virus to spread over such a long distance, raising concerns that the same might happen at meat plants worldwide. And while the virus is significantly less deadly than originally thought, it can lead to significant disruptions, as it takes between two weeks and several months to recover. Some patients still report symptoms, though how contagious they are is yet to be seen.

“Similar conditions at plants globally are a reason they’ve become virus epicenters, according to the report from groups including the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research. Meat plants from the U.S. to the U.K. and South America have seen the rapid spread of the virus, infecting thousands of employees who often work in close proximity on processing lines. Dozens of workers have died, and labor advocates have said that a lack of social distancing could continue to put people at risk. Outbreaks also forced American meat plants to close earlier this year, sparking some protein shortages”. -Bloomberg

The Tonnies outbreak is believed to have been caused in May by a single employee who infected the rest of their co-workers in the plant’s dismantling area, where temperatures hover around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Adam Grundhoff, co-author of the study, chilly air circulated without frequent changes, combined with a strenuous work environment, helped move virus particles long distances. “It is very likely that these factors generally play a crucial role in the global outbreaks in meat or fish processing plants,” said Grundhoff, a research group leader at the Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology. He added that distances of 1.5 to 3 meters (5 to 10 feet) is insufficient to prevent transmission.

“The Toennies plant — Germany’s largest pork abattoir — reopened last week after a month-long closure and plans to gradually ramp up output. The company, which posted a link to the research report on Twitter, also recently released a 25-point plan detailing measures it’s making to prevent further outbreaks. They include testing employees twice a week, hiring workers directly and overhauling ventilation. The report’s findings show that no factory worldwide was built for such a crisis, and the company has invested in air filters and other mechanisms to protect employees, a Toennies spokesman said by email. -Bloomberg The workers’ housing conditions were not found to play a significant role in the outbreaks.

Read more …

Keep the profit making out of it.

US Clears Way For Drugmakers To Share COVID Antibody Capacity (R.)

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday said it will not stand in the way of efforts by companies, including Eli Lilly and Co and Amgen Inc, to share information to help scale up capacity to manufacture antibody treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. In a letter to Lilly, Amgen, AbCellera Biologics, AstraZeneca Plc, Roche Holding’s Genentech unit and GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the DOJ said demand for monoclonal antibodies targeting COVID-19 is likely to exceed what one firm could produce on its own. The drugmakers are in various stages of developing experimental monoclonal antibodies – manufactured proteins designed to bind to a targeted cell, neutralize it and mark it for destruction by the immune system – for treatment, or even prevention, of COVID-19.


Monoclonal antibodies are among the most common type of biotech medicines, used for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and many other conditions. The DOJ did not include Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc, which expects to have definitive trial results for its dual-antibody treatment by late summer or early fall. The Department of Health and Human Services in June awarded Regeneron a $450 million contract and the company has cleared the way for U.S. manufacturing of its antibody cocktail by moving production of its other products to a plant in Ireland. “Waiting until regulators approve specific treatments before scaling up manufacturing might delay access to these potentially life-saving medicines by many months,” the agency said in its letter.

Read more …

I don’t think they’ll let it happen. But only at the very last minute, or even a step beyond that. It’s not about people, it’s about power.

Over 30 Million Americans About to Lose $600 in Unemployment Benefits (Mish)

How Many Set to Lose $600 Checks? CNBC says More than 25 million Americans are set to lose the $600 unemployment boost next week. The Century Foundation says More than 25 Million Americans Are About to Lose an Essential $600-a-Week Unemployment Insurance Benefit. Forbes says “some 25 million unemployed workers are finishing the last week of the expanded federal unemployment benefits and will soon only receive state unemployment benefits, which average $378 per week.” To determine a better number, let’s review the Department of Labor Guidelines.

Programs which entitle an individual to receive FPUC. This program provides an additional $600 per week to individuals who are collecting regular UC (including Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) and Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX)), as well as the following unemployment compensation programs: • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) • Extended Benefits (EB) • Short-Time Compensation (STC) • Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA) • Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) • Payments under the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program

[..] Republicans, especially Trump, do not want to extend the $600 benefit because many make more being unemployed than they did working. This is what the bickering is all about. The last full week in July ends Saturday July 25 for most state UI programs. And that is when the benefits expire, not July 31. Rubio proposes taking up the lapse in insurance “by the first week in August.” That would be too late.

Read more …

Don’t use Twitter for anything confidential. Easy.

More Than 1,000 People At Twitter Had Ability To Aid Hack Of Accounts (R.)

More than a thousand Twitter employees and contractors as of earlier this year had access to internal tools that could change user account settings and hand control to others, two former employees said, making it hard to defend against the hacking that occurred last week. Twitter Inc and the FBI are investigating the breach that allowed hackers to repeatedly tweet from verified accounts of the likes of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Twitter said on Saturday that the perpetrators “manipulated a small number of employees and used their credentials” to log into tools and turn over access to 45 accounts.


On Wednesday, it said that the hackers could have read direct messages to and from 36 accounts but did not identify the affected users. The former employees familiar with Twitter security practices said that too many people could have done the same thing, more than 1,000 as of earlier in 2020, including some at contractors like Cognizant. “That sounds like there are too many people with access,” said Edward Amoroso, former chief security officer at AT&T. Responsibilities among the staff should have been split up, with access rights limited to those responsibilities and more than one person required to agree to make the most sensitive account changes. “In order to do cyber security right, you can’t forget the boring stuff.”

Read more …

Another matter, like the pandemic preparedness, that has festered for decades, waiting to see the light. Communities should be able to solve this, but not if you make it profit-based.

How the Child Care Crisis Will Distort the Economy for a Generation (Pol.)

Schools across the U.S. are closed because of the coronavirus, and unlikely to reopen safely anytime soon. Parents are exhausted from constant, round-the-clock care while trying to work from home; some have chosen to leave their jobs, or switch to part-time work, just to take care of their kids. And kids themselves are slipping behind academically. Now comes the bad news: We haven’t seen the worst of it yet. When the economist Betsey Stevenson looks at the pandemic-era economic crisis, she sees a long-simmering child care crisis that has suddenly surged to the foreground of people’s lives—and whose true scope we’ve barely begun to reckon with. Its potential to inflict lasting damage to the economy is enormous, and it’s getting short shrift in the recovery plans coming out of Washington.

“The work of recovering from it will not end just because we have a vaccine,” says Stevenson, a labor economist at the University of Michigan and former member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. “We are making choices right now about where we will be as an economy in 20 years, in 30 years, based on what we do with these kids.” Among those most likely to be affected are working mothers, who shoulder an outsize share of child care responsibilities, and have suddenly had far more work dropped in their laps. Women already need to make difficult choices between work advancement and their family roles, which can bring down their incomes over time; Stevenson expects the crisis to make that conflict sharply worse: “The impact of the child care crisis on women’s outcomes is going to be felt over the next decade.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that both parents work in two-thirds of families in which married parents have children — as do the majority of America’s 13.6 million single parents. For all of them, there are major long-term financial repercussions of dropping out of the labor market, even temporarily. “When you talk about upward mobility,” she says, “this puts families on just a completely different trajectory that’s not about losing two or three years of income; it’s about being on a lower earnings trajectory for the rest of your life.”

And for anyone hoping a vaccine will allow a quick, healthy reopening sometime next year, she says: Don’t count on it. “We are letting the whole child care system erode in such a way that it’s not going to be there for us when we are fully ready to go back. You’re seeing child care centers that can’t stay in business. They can’t figure out how to reopen. They can’t keep their employees on staff. They’re letting people go,” Stevenson says. “Once we are ready to have all the jobs come back and we’re really ready to recover, even though we’ll have opened the schools, opened the child care centers, the workers aren’t going to be there, the slots aren’t going to be there.”

Read more …

Apparently nobody is clear on what the law says, or what the plans are, who’s responsible for what.

Georgia’s Governor And Atlanta’s Mayor Ordered To Mediate Face Mask Fight (R.)

A Georgia judge on Thursday ordered the governor and Atlanta’s mayor to enter mediation over the governor’s lawsuit aimed at stopping the city from enforcing its requirement that people wear masks in public during the coronavirus pandemic. Fulton Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick ordered Governor Brian Kemp and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to attend mediation with another judge and try to resolve the dispute before an emergency hearing scheduled in the case for Tuesday. Earlier this month, Kemp, a Republican, barred local leaders from requiring people to wear masks. Even so, several Georgia cities, including Democratic-led Atlanta, Savannah and Athens, defied the governor’s order and kept local mandates in place in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.


Bottoms told reporters that she and Kemp spoke by phone on the matter. “We are both in agreement that masks saves lives,” she said. “Hopefully we can move past this.” The governor’s office filed a lawsuit on July 16 against Bottoms and the Atlanta city council, arguing that local officials lack the legal authority to override Kemp’s orders. “Kemp must be allowed, as the chief executive of this state, to manage a public health emergency without Mayor Bottoms issuing void and unenforceable orders which only serve to confuse the public,” the 16-page complaint read. More than 4 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with the virus, including more than 150,000 cases in Georgia with more than 3,000 fatalities in the state. Kemp has stood apart even from his Republican counterparts on the mask issue. More than half of all states have statewide mask mandates.

Read more …

There are no “freedom-loving nations of the world”. There are only power-lovong politicians. And they’re everywhere.

Pompeo Urges More Assertive Approach To ‘Frankenstein’ China (R.)

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took fresh aim at China on Thursday and said Washington and its allies must use “more creative and assertive ways” to press the Chinese Communist Party to change its ways, calling it the “mission of our time.” Speaking at the Nixon Library in President Richard Nixon’s birthplace in Yorba Linda, California, Pompeo said the former U.S. leader’s worry about what he had done by opening the world to China’s Communist Party in the 1970s had been prophetic. “President Nixon once said he feared he had created a ‘Frankenstein’ by opening the world to the CCP,” Pompeo said. “And here we are.” Nixon, who died in 1994 and was president from 1969-74, opened the way for the establishment of U.S. diplomatic relations with Communist China in 1979 through a series of contacts, including a visit to Beijing in 1972.

In a major speech delivered after Washington’s surprise order this week for China to close its Houston consulate, Pompeo called for an end to “blind engagement” with China and repeated frequently leveled U.S. charges about its unfair trade practices, human rights abuses and efforts to infiltrate American society. He said China’s military had became “stronger and more menacing” and the approach to Beijing should be “distrust and verify,” adapting President Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify” mantra about the Soviet Union in the 1980s. “The truth is that our policies – and those of other free nations – resurrected China’s failing economy, only to see Beijing bite the international hands that were feeding it,” Pompeo said.

“The freedom-loving nations of the world must induce China to change … in more creative and assertive ways, because Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity.” Recalling remarks he made after meeting British leaders in London this week, Pompeo said “maybe it’s time for a new grouping of like-minded nations, a new alliance of democracies,” while adding: “If the free world doesn’t change, Communist China will surely change us.” Pompeo said “securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time,” and America was perfectly positioned to lead it.

Read more …

“..the flood has already raised the water dammed behind the Three Gorges to 50 — fifty — feet higher than the maximum flood level.”

China’s Three Gorges Dam At The Brink (AC)

China’s massive Three Gorges Dam project on the upper Yangtze River is at risk. If that dam breaks, the resulting flooding would be a catastrophe of world-historical proportions. Hundreds of millions of people live along the lower Yangtze River. And the catastrophe wouldn’t simply be confined to China. The lower Yangtze is China’s commercial and industrial heartland — which means it is perhaps the world’s most important economic region. If it is swept away by a torrent, it could easily crater the already weak world economy. The Wall Street Journal‘s Jonathan Cheng [..] says that the flood has already raised the water dammed behind the Three Gorges to 50 — fifty — feet higher than the maximum flood level.


Rain is still falling this week in central China. I am told by a Chinese media follower that the government has just raised the emergency level in five affected provinces — Shanxi, Henan, Shandong, Anhui and Jiangsu — to the highest level below martial law, as part of last-ditch efforts to protect the Three Gorges Dam. The state is releasing water from tributary dams, flooding those provinces even worse than they already have been, because the alternative — a Three Gorges Dam collapse — is unthinkable. The WSJ’s Cheng said that China has had its worst economic year in four decades because of Covid, but if that dam goes, the damage to China’s economy will “dwarf” what Covid has done to it.

Read more …

Thank a war party of your preference.

Congress Blocks Defunding the Pentagon: What We Could Do With The Money (MPN)

The majority of House Democrats joined with the Republican colleagues yesterday in voting down progressive legislation that would have cut the Pentagon budget by 10 percent ($74 billion) and used the money to fund healthcare, housing, and education for the poorest Americans. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, sponsored by Barbara Lee (D–CA) and Mark Pocan (D–WI) was soundly defeated 93-324, with 139 Democrats joining all 185 voting Republicans in rejecting the idea. Despite the defeat, Pocan vowed to continue pushing an anti-war agenda. “We will keep fighting for pro-peace, pro-people budgets until it becomes a reality,” he said.


Democrats who voted against the military budget cuts received over three times the contributions from the defense industry as those who voted for the reduction. Earlier today, the Senate also voted down the proposal. The result will no doubt disappoint the majority of Americans as well. A poll conducted last week by Data for Progress found that 56 percent of the country supported the idea to defund the military and use the money to fight COVID-19 alleviate the growing housing crisis. Democrat-voters supported the plan by 69 to 19 percent, with Republicans also backing it, by 50 to 37 percent. The proposal is hardly a radical shift; the military’s budget has increased by around 20 percent under President Trump alone, reaching near-historic highs.

Read more …

Erdogan is not done by a long shot. The talk of the day in Greece is all about war. BILD in Germany says Merkel called Erdogan two days ago and narrowly prevented Greece firing on Turkish vessels in the Med.

Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Opens As A Mosque For Muslim Prayers (AP)

Hundreds of Muslim faithfuls were making their way to Istanbul’s landmark Hagia Sophia on Friday to take part in the first prayers in 86 years at the structure that once was one of Christendom’s most significant cathedrals, then a mosque and museum before its reconversion into a Muslim place of worship. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to attend the inaugural prayers inside the sixth-century monument along with around 500 dignitaries, as he fulfills what he has described as the “dream of our youth” anchored in Turkey’s Islamic movement. Thousands of men and women, including many who traveled from across Turkey, are set to perform prayers in segregated areas outside Hagia Sophia. Several camped near the structure overnight.

Orthodox church leaders in Greece and the United States, meanwhile, were scheduled to observe “a day of mourning” over the inaugural prayers. Brushing aside international criticism, Erdogan issued a decree restoring the iconic building as a mosque earlier this month, shortly after a Turkish high court ruled that the Hagia Sophia had been illegally made into a museum more than eight decades ago. The structure has since been renamed “The Grand Hagia Sophia Mosque.” The move sparked dismay in Greece, the United States and among Christian churches who had called on Erdogan to maintain it as a museum as a nod to Istanbul’s multi-religious heritage and the structure’s status as a symbol of Christian and Muslim unity. Pope Francis expressed his sadness.

Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque with the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding leader of the secular Turkish republic converted the structure into a museum in 1934. Although an annex to the Hagia Sophia, the Sultan’s pavilion, has been open to prayers since the 1990s, religious and nationalists group in Turkey have long yearned for the nearly 1,500-year-old edifice, which they regard as the legacy of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the conquerer, to be reverted into a mosque.

Read more …

What happened to streaming?

Disney Postpones ‘Mulan’ Indefinitely, Delays ‘Avatar’ And ‘Star Wars’ (R.)

Walt Disney Co on Thursday postponed the debut of its movie “Mulan” indefinitely, dealing a new blow to theater operators that were counting on the live-action epic to help attract audiences during a pandemic. ViacomCBS Inc’s Paramount Pictures also said “Top Gun: Maverick”, the much-awaited sequel to the Tom Cruise-starring “Top Gun”, has been delayed to July 2, 2021 from December 23, 2020. “Mulan” was scheduled to reach theaters in March but its release has been postponed several times as many cinemas remain closed. The film had most recently been set to debut on Aug. 21 and theater operators had hoped it would help spark a late-summer rebound for movie-going.


Disney also said it had delayed the next film installments from two of its biggest franchises, “Avatar” and “Star Wars,” by one year as the novel coronavirus has disrupted production. The “Avatar” sequel is now set to debut in theaters in December 2022, and the next “Star Wars” movie in December 2023. “It’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis,” a Disney representative said. “Today that means pausing our release plans for ‘Mulan’ as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world.” The “Mulan” delay follows Warner Bros decision to postpone the August release of Christopher Nolan thriller “Tenet.” The two films were seen as theaters’ best chance to salvage part of the lucrative summer season.

Read more …

 

 

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Jul 232020
 


Constantin Brancusi Portrait of George 1911

 

 

Last week, Tyler at Zero Hedge ran an article from a site called Adventures in Capitalism, in which the writer (Kuppy?!) lets his light shine on the CIVD19 situation. He concludes that we’re all going to get it, it’s no use resisting, there will never be a vaccine and herd immunity is all we have left to hope for.

And I was thinking: what if he’s -largely- right? What if the utter lack of preparedness and the glaring incompetence we see displayed before our eyes all across the globe has made escape -almost- impossible? Surely at the very least we should prepare for that, too, even if it’s not the only thing we should prepare for.

Not that I’ve strayed much from my original viewpoints, that it’s very dumb to for instance have lengthy discussions about how efficient facemasks and lockdowns are, as long as they’re the only tools you have. But if nobody has a playbook for such things, including the WHO that gets paid millions for exactly that, you do run the risk of making your only tools obsolete.

It’s been a pretty wild year so far what with the spectacle of all the politicians bending like pretzels to avoid being caught unprepared. So many of them have solemnly declared that masks and testing don’t work, simply because they had no access to either. After decades of warnings that a new virus could pop up at any moment.

But you’re right, we now have to look ahead. So first I’ll give you a few “Kuppy” quotes with my comments on them, and we’ll take it from there. Oh, but first this on the morality of a policy aimed at herd immunity, from a BBC piece on the “achievements” of the British gov’t in the virus crisis. “Anthony Costello, professor at University College London and a former director at the WHO, tweeted”:

“Is it ethical to adopt a policy that threatens immediate casualties on the basis of an uncertain future benefit?”

And then we can turn to Kuppy:

You’re Probably Gonna Get It…

[..] had they stopped this thing in Wuhan, we would be right to use a containment approach to COVID-19. Instead, it’s everywhere and despite your personal opinions on the issue, it isn’t going away until most of us get it. There, I said it; you can hide in your basement, but you’re still probably going to get COVID-19. You can quarantine a whole nation; they’ll just get it next year. We are a global economy and this is now a global disease.


Whether you like it or not, the world is going for “herd immunity.” Unfortunately, there is no other viable option; there will be no vaccine, there will be no miracle cure and besides, the virus isn’t even all that dangerous if you are young and healthy. Simply put, COVID-19 won’t flame out until 50 to 80% of us get it (the precise number is open to debate).

I think a lot of people at this point in time would mostly agree with what he says there. But do they oversee the consequences?

Unlike smallpox or polio, there will never be a vaccine (there has never been a COVID vaccine for a variety of reasons)—therefore, as soon as quarantine ends, we’d all begin to spread it again, as there will always be infected humans. Countries that hermetically sealed their borders would not be immune either—they’ve simply deferred infection.

You can quarantine a village in Africa and stop a disease like Ebola that strikes fast and often kills the host. You cannot stop the spread of something that tens of millions of global citizens unknowingly have, while lying dormant for up to three weeks.

More things many would agree with. But will there really always be infected humans, and will they always spread the virus around the entire planet? Is that true? The virus needs new hosts all the time, and if you keep potential hosts sufficiently separated from each other, it can not spread.

We may have a global economy with global citizens, but we’ve seen plenty evidence that what has caused hospitality and travel to plummet has not been lockdowns, but people’s fear of getting infected. Is that irrational, and will you be able to convince them otherwise?

I think it should be obvious that you cannot stop COVID from spreading, at best, you can slow it down so that hospitals do not become overwhelmed. Instead, governments are passing draconian and arbitrary laws that do little to slow the spread, yet destroy businesses and communities.

Hmmm. How exactly would you slow it down without masks and lockdowns? Does it seem like a good idea to bring people together again in offices, elevators, planes, trains, restaurants and bars? Right now it doesn’t appear to make much difference, most people wouldn’t go anyway.

I read today that in the UK, almost half of workers -well, those that still have a job- work from home, whereas that number was 5% before virustime. And now the gov’t wants them all back in the workplace. Think they’ll go as long as the virus is out there?

Millions of jobs, and there come hospitality and travel again, are lost forever. People are afraid. And no, that has little to do with a media fear-porn campaign, though the media are as clueless as the politicians, and it’s a comforting thought to be able to blame them.

[..] putting your head in the sand and hoping COVID-19 goes away is foolish. It is time for everyone to accept the inevitable and figure out what that means for themselves and their countries. The current checker-board approach in the US where each state and even each county takes a different approach—is simply making a mess of things.

People can figure what things may mean without first accepting them as inevitable. Many are doing that right now. But yes, the US has been a mess and still is. It’s too large for a one-size-fits-all approach, especially if that has to be made up on the spot.

But the “leaders”, whether in politics, health care or elsewhere, have a fool-proof take on that: they blame each other. Still, the US debacle is something that has grown over years, decades, it hasn’t suddenly appeared, you just didn’t see it before. And it’s not only the US; the entire rich world has the exact same problem.

Here in Miami Beach; we have a 10pm curfew, we have fines and jail time for not wearing masks in public, bars are closed, restaurants can only have outdoor seating and the beach was closed last weekend. It is not clear what any of these measures actually accomplish if tens of thousands are marching around in protests without masks.

As an aside, the stupidest thing around must be people who wear facemasks outside, unless they’re in close proximity to others. Still, there are gov’ts that demand they do. Closing a beach falls in that same category. Unless people get close together. As for the protests, the most cynical remark I can muster is that at least the rioters cover their faces.

 

 

As I made my rounds at some of my favorite restaurants this week, owners finally broke down the brave façade; they confessed that they’re financially bleeding to death. Dozens of prominent restaurants have already shut their doors for good—some of these restaurants have been around for decades and survived multiple economic cycles. If the laws are consistent, you can manage your business—if the government changes the rules every few days to combat a bad cold, what are you supposed to do?

Darn, Kuppy, you were doing just fine, and now you have to bring up the dead “just a bad cold” idea? Read on. It’s not.

I think it is time for everyone globally to finally admit that COVID-19 is here, that we are powerless to stop its spread and that most of us are going to get it. The focus should be on protecting those who are elderly or compromised from a health standpoint. When you start from that framework, you can then think through the consequences and adapt policy appropriately.

We haven’t protected the elderly and health compromised during the lockdowns. What makes you think we will when things are supposed to “return to normal”? We locked up the elderly in the petri dishes we call carehomes, and we let kids and the poor stew in their own misery.

You think we’ve learned something from that? I think when outbreaks flare up again, as they do right now all over Europe, they’re going to isolate the old and the young again, and let the poor rot some more.

If you hope you can protect everyone from it, you’re going to postpone the inevitable, while destroying the economy. Once again, I don’t know what the right approach is, but I know that what’s being done today is asinine. It’s time for global leaders to wake up.

I’m pretty sure that’s what we call a false dichotomy. Lockdowns don’t destroy economies, the virus, and people’s fears of getting infected, plus seeing their loved ones be infected, does. Opening everything up is not going to change that for the better.

 

From there it’s just a small step for man and giant leap for mankind towards Kuppy’s only solution left: herd immunity. The idea has already been burned to the ground by numerous parties, but since it’s the only thing he has left, let’s humor him, shall we?

Here’s from a recent BBC piece on the topic, which seems sort of based on the notion that it’s all Britain has left as well. Interesting article though, I must say, they tried to make something out of the whole minestrone :

Did ‘Herd Immunity’ Change The Course Of The Outbreak?

“Herd immunity” is a concept describing the point at which a population has developed protection against a disease. There are two ways to do this. Vaccination is one route. But with any new virus it’s impossible to say how long it will take to develop a vaccine, if ever. The other way is for people to catch the disease and build up some form of immunity. If exposed to the virus again, it is assumed they have protection. If most people in a population are protected then the virus cannot spread.

But there are two problems. One is that with a new virus – like this particular coronavirus – it’s not always clear how much protection having had the disease, particularly a mild case, gives you or how long it lasts. And if most of the population catches the disease, many thousands might die. On 13 March, Sir Patrick stated that about 60% of the population would need to become infected for society to have “herd immunity” – effectively some 40 million people in the UK.

“Communities will become immune to it and that’s going to be an important part of controlling this longer term,” he told Sky News. These comments sparked an immediate backlash. Anthony Costello, professor of health and sustainable development at University College London and a former director of maternal and child health at the WHO, tweeted: “Is it ethical to adopt a policy that threatens immediate casualties on the basis of an uncertain future benefit?”

And from Britain we can go seamlessly to Sweden, perceived as the -internationally heralded- poster child of herd immunity policy, though they never officially endorsed it. A group of 25 Swedish doctors and scientists sounds the alarm on the entire approach, and even suggest it is a “secret goal”.

Sweden Hoped Herd Immunity Would Curb COVID19. Don’t Do What We Did. It’s Not Working.

The motives for the Swedish Public Health Agency’s light-touch approach are somewhat of a mystery. Some other countries that initially used this strategy swiftly abandoned it as the death toll began to increase, opting instead for delayed lockdowns. But Sweden has been faithful to its approach.

Why? Gaining herd immunity, where large numbers of the population (preferably younger) are infected and thereby develop immunity, has not been an official goal of the Swedish Public Health Agency. But it has said immunity in the population could help suppress the spread of the disease, and some agency statements suggest it is the secret goal.

Further evidence of this is that the agency insists on mandatory schooling for young children, the importance of testing has been played down for a long time, the agency refused to acknowledge the importance of asymptomatic spread of the virus (concerningly, it has encouraged those in households with COVID-19 infected individuals to go to work and school) and still refuses to recommend masks in public [..]

Several authorities, including the WHO, have condemned herd immunity as a strategy. “It can lead to a very brutal arithmetic that does not put people and life and suffering at the center of that equation,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a press conference in May.

Regardless of whether herd immunity is a goal or a side effect of the Swedish strategy, how has it worked out? Not so well, according to the agency’s own test results. The proportion of Swedes carrying antibodies is estimated to be under 10%, thus nowhere near herd immunity.


And yet, the Swedish death rate is unnerving. Sweden has a death toll greater than the United States: 556 deaths per million inhabitants, compared with 425, as of July 20.

Sweden also has a death toll more than four and a half times greater than that of the other four Nordic countries combined — more than seven times greater per million inhabitants. For a number of weeks, Sweden has been among the top in the world when it comes to current reported deaths per capita. And despite this, the strategy in essence remains the same.

7 months of pandemic without a lockdown, under 10% have antibodies, and the death toll is 7 times that of their neighbors. Something’s not working right?! But Kuppy said it was our only remaining option…

Then again, something that did pique my interest is this very recent development. I could see this concept becoming more potent than any vaccine, if only because as Kuppy rightly notes, there has never been a vaccine for any coronavirus.

New Antibody Mix Could Form ‘Very Potent’ COVID19 Treatment

Researchers have identified a potent cocktail of antibodies that may help doctors treat Covid-19 infections and protect people at risk from falling ill with the disease. The antibodies were collected from patients hospitalised with severe Covid-19, and they could be manufactured at scale by pharmaceutical firms and transfused into the blood to fight the virus or prevent it from taking hold. Scientists at Columbia University in New York screened antibodies from 40 Covid-19 patients and identified 61 types from five individuals that effectively wiped out coronavirus.

Among them were nine that displayed “exquisite potency” for neutralising the pathogen. Tests on cells showed that the antibodies killed off the virus, while experiments with hamsters revealed that an infusion of one of the more potent antibodies protected the animals from disease. “It shut off infectious virus completely in the lung tissue of the hamsters we treated,” said David Ho, a professor of medicine at Columbia who led the research.

[..] Professor Sachdev Sidhu at the University of Toronto also has plans to take neutralising antibodies into clinical trials later this year. “In my opinion, the more antibodies the better, as scaling up antibodies, although standard, still requires time,” he said. “Having multiple options will be good to ensure as many patients as possible can receive the therapies.”

He said every country that is capable of doing so “owes it to their population” to manufacture therapeutic antibodies, and that countries should work together to ensure they can be made available to as many patients as possible at affordable cost.

Then again, antibodies do not come without their own risk. There’s always the risk of a cytokine storm in some form or another. No exception in the case of SARS-CoV-2.

Study Sees Harmful Effect Of Coronavirus Antibodies In ICU

Antibodies generated by the immune system to neutralise the novel coronavirus could cause severe harm or even kill the patient, according to a study by Dutch scientists. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is a fork-shaped molecule produced by adaptive immune cells to intercept foreign invaders. Each type of IgG targets a specific type of pathogen.

The IgG for Sars-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19, fights off the virus by binding with the virus’ unique spike protein to reduce its chance of infecting human cells. They usually appear a week or two after the onset of illness, when the symptoms of most critically-ill patients suddenly get worse. A research team led by Professor Menno de Winther from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands said they might have found an important clue that may answer why the IgG appears only when patients are ill enough to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

The scientists found that the blood from Covid-19 patients struggling for their life on ventilators was highly inflammatory. They observed during a series of experiments that it could trigger an overreaction of the immune system, destroy crucial barriers in tissues and cause water and blood to spill over in the lungs.

It looks like it’s high time, in fact it’s long overdue, that we stop calling COVID19 a respiratory disease. The SARS-CoV-2 virus may enter the body through mouth and nose, but once it’s in, the lungs are merely the first organ it reaches. But it’s through the vascular system that it spreads all through the body.

What we see even in patients that have been declared “recovered”, and we see this time and again, is crippling fatigue, lung damage, heart damage, brain damage, nerve damage, multiple organ damage. And, as a recent report spelled out, blood clotting was found in every organ in the body, including veins, during autopsies.

Many “recovered” patients report symptoms, such as debilitating fatigue, that can last for at least months. We simply don’t know for how long, because it’s only been around for 7 months.

These are things to consider when you say we must surrender to the virus and let it run its course. Even if it doesn’t overwhelm a certain area’s health care system today, we may well be left with huge amounts of people who carry its scars, and need medical assistance, for the rest of their lives.

That appears to be the minimum price you’re going to pay for letting the virus run its course. Is that worth it? Well, not for the girl who’s unlucky enough to catch it, I tell you. For society as a whole then? What’s the price we’re willing to pay for keeping a bar open? I don’t have to answer that question, I only have to ask it. But we as societies do need to come up with an answer.

Is large scale infection inevitable, as Kuppy claims? If so, the consequences look dire. But yes, so do more lockdowns. Agreed. Totally. You tell me. What’s the price you’re willing to pay? A closed bar, a facemask in a store, or a friend’s body crippled for life? You tell me.

To wrap this up, a last study, this one conducted in 69 countries across six continents. I don’t think I’ve seen anything over the past 7 months that I find scarier than this. You see, heart surgery is a life saving procedure for many people, who would be gone without it.

So what happens to your health care system if you let half the population catch the virus, and half of those end up with heart damage in one form or another, to one degree or another? And that’s just the heart, that’s not lungs or brain or nerves or blood vessels.

 

“55 per cent of patients had an abnormality. One in seven patients were found to have severe abnormalities..”

More Than Half Of All COVID19 Patients Found To Have Damaged Hearts

An international survey of heart scans in people treated for COVID-19 found that 55 per cent of patients had an abnormality. One in seven patients were found to have severe abnormalities. The study adds further evidence to the emerging picture of COVID-19 as a disease of the vascular system in a significant number of cases, and not always primarily a respiratory disease.

It also suggests that a significant of COVID-19 patients will need to be monitored and assessed for permanent damage to the heart. And it raises questions about the extent to which COVID-19 is a disease you may not fully recover from. The research is from a team at the Centre for Cardiovascular Science, University of Edinburgh, UK. They studied echocardiograms from 1216 patients, aged 52 to 71, 70 per cent of them male.

The patients came from 69 countries across six continents. They were all presumed or confirmed cases of COVID-19 when the echocardiograms were taken (between April 3 and April 20, 2020). An echocardiogram uses ultrasound to show how your heart muscle and valves are working. About three-quarters of the patients (901 of them) had no pre-existing cardiac disease. But 46 per cent of their echocardiograms were abnormal, and 13 per cent were found with severe disease.

According to the study: Left and right ventricular abnormalities were reported in 479 (39 per cent) and 397 (33 per cent) patients, respectively. There was evidence of new myocardial infarction in 36 (three per cent), myocarditis in 35 (three per cent), and takotsubo cardiomyopathy in 19 (two per cent). Sixty percent of the scans were performed in an ICU unit or emergency room. About 54 percent of the patients had severe COVID-19. Abnormalities were often “unheralded or severe, and imaging changed management in one-third of patients.”

Study co-author Marc Dweck, consultant cardiologist at the University of Edinburgh, U.K., said in a statement: “COVID-19 is a complex, multi-system disease which can have profound effects on many parts of the body, including the heart. “Many doctors have been hesitant to order echocardiograms for patients with COVID-19 because it’s an added procedure which involves close contact with patients.

“Our work shows that these scans are important—they improved the treatment for a third of patients who received them.” Dr Dweck continued: “Damage to the heart is known to occur in severe flu, but we were surprised to see so many patients with damage to their heart with COVID-19, and so many patients with severe dysfunction.”

Really, you tell me. But don’t tell me only old people die of it. We’re way past that point. And don’t tell me younger people are not affected. That’s like 19th century wisdom. If you want to argue for herd immunity, by all means, but don’t just blurt out something. Let’s see what you got.

 

I’ve always, as noted before, disliked the wartime, military talk when it comes to this virus, the “we must beat this enemy because it’s out to get us”. This is not the -real- German nazis or the -imaginary- Russians of today. A virus is smaller than you can imagine and it’s not even alive according to science.

But staying with that war talk for a moment, are you sure you want to surrender to it regardless? Or do you want to go with: it’s not that bad, and it’s not that deadly, and those old folk would have died anyway? So open up the bars and everything will be just hunky dory! You sure? Surrender?!

 

 

 

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Thank you.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 222020
 


Ben Shahn for the Farm Security Administration Daughter of Virgil Thaxton, farmer, near Mechanicsburg, Ohio 1938

 

It Has Become Clear Elimination Of The Virus Is The Best Option (Age)
Antibodies From Mild COVID-19 Infections Could Disappear Within A Year (CBS)
Yale Epidemiologist: Hydroxychloroquine Could Save 100,000 Lives (ZH)
Moderna, Merck Won’t Limit Price Of Coronavirus Vaccines To Company Cost (R.)
Our History Is A Battle Against The Microbes (Roser)
N.Y, N.J, Conn. Expand Travel Quarantine To Over Half Of U.S. States
Democrats Cry ‘Foreign Meddling’ In 2020 Election In Letter To FBI (RT)
House Bill Would Require Feds to Identify Themselves (.)
China’s Shipbuilding Industry Continues Leading Position Globally (Xinhua)
Britain Nears Abandoning Brexit Trade Deal Hope (R.)
Passengers Scramble For Limited Seats On Flights To Australia (G.)
Book Sales Hit Record Highs In 2019, But Publishers ‘Now Need Help’ (G.)
Smithsonian: ‘Rationality’ & ‘Hard Work’ Are Racist (RC)
Judicial Watch Sues DOJ/FBI/ODNI for Records of Obama Oval Office Meeting (JW)
Greta Thunberg Gets €1 Million ‘Humanity Prize’ From Oil Tycoon Foundation (RT)

 

 

An Australian hospital doctor writes that the best solution if for the virus to be eliminated from his country. But can that still be done? Is it realistic? Do you really want to isolate yourself from most of the world?

 

 

U.S. records over 1,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day for first time since early June.

And the world passed 15 million cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sidney Powell Hillary should be subpoenaed

 

 

A doctor in Victoria, Australia. The worries are very understandable, and the problem is clear, but as for the solution, is it possible? Realistic? Or just too late?

It Has Become Clear Elimination Of The Virus Is The Best Option (Age)

The hospital where I work has finally had to use its surge plan for COVID-19 patients, devised months ago but which has until now laid dormant. There is still capacity for more patients, but it is not infinite. People are starting to worry. Concerningly, while patient numbers around the state have climbed, staff numbers have fallen. Many front-line healthcare workers have become infected with the virus, forcing them to take time off work. Many more have been forced into mandatory quarantine following close contact with a known case. This is entirely necessary to stop the spread of the virus, but it is a cost we simply cannot afford. Our already-stretched health system is at risk of being stretched beyond its limit.

We have tried to suppress this virus; to keep infection numbers low enough to allow our hospitals to cope, while not actively trying to stamp it out. In Melbourne, it has failed. We may be seeing the beginnings of a similar story in Sydney, with cases slowly climbing. We may yet see it elsewhere. Many have argued for an explicit elimination strategy, acknowledging that while not without its costs, ultimately it is the best choice for our society and economy. As John Daley from the Grattan Institute wrote in March, this would be the “least-bad” option. We know elimination is possible. New Zealand implemented a harsh lockdown early in the pandemic, prompting some to criticise Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for overreacting. Yet they have not seen a single case of community transmission in months.

Life across the ditch is returning to a “new normal”, and people and businesses are starting to plan for the future with a bit more certainty. There is no reason why Australia – and in particular Victoria – couldn’t follow suit. Yet the current six-week lockdown is unlikely to eliminate the virus, according to new analysis in the Medical Journal of Australia. We must either go harder, or go longer. While it is the best option for Australia, elimination has three important drawbacks: its impacts would be disproportionately felt by disadvantaged and marginalised people; it would require a longer, more intense period of initial lockdown; and it would make us dependent on a vaccine. A longer, harsher lockdown in Melbourne – and anywhere the virus begins to take hold again – would be enormously challenging for many, especially those who are disadvantaged, marginalised, or poor.

But so would repeated lockdowns, which are all-but inevitable under a suppression strategy. Better to do it once (or twice, as in Melbourne) and do it properly, rather than wait for infections to rise again in a few months and have to do it all again. If we succeed in ridding ourselves of SARS-CoV-2, we will make ourselves reliant on a vaccine. Until one is found, our borders will have to remain closed. The virus will become endemic in many other countries – countries who, unlike us, no longer have the option of eliminating it. Opening our borders too early would simply be kicking the can down the road. Things are moving faster than we have ever seen in vaccine development, but there is no guarantee we will have a safe and effective product soon – if at all. Until we do, we will be forced to seal ourselves off from countries where the virus remains.

Read more …

And the antibodies that you do have may attack you. Good luck with that vaccine.

Antibodies From Mild COVID-19 Infections Could Disappear Within A Year (CBS)

Antibodies from a mild case of COVID-19 appear to fall dramatically in the first three months after infection, and could disappear within about a year, according to a small study by UCLA researchers. The study, published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested 20 women and 14 men between 21 and 68 years old who recovered from mild cases of COVID-19. Each participant was tested at an average of 36 and 82 days after they initially showed symptoms. The study found that antibodies in these study participants dropped sharply after the first three months, and decreased by roughly half every 73 days.


At that rate, antibodies would disappear within about a year. The UCLA study was a more detailed look into previous reports that suggested antibodies against the novel coronavirus were short-lived, and the first to estimate the rate at which antibodies disappear. The study’s authors said the role of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 is not known, but the findings should prompt caution regarding antibody-based “immunity passports,” the goal of herd immunity, and vaccine durability.

Read more …

One positive report about HCQ after the other.

Yale Epidemiologist: Hydroxychloroquine Could Save 100,000 Lives (ZH)

Yale epidemiology professor Dr. Harvey Risch told Fox News’s “Ingraham Angle” that he thinks hydroxychloroquine could save 75,000 to 100,000 lives if widely used to treat COVID-19, and that it’s unfortunate that a “propaganda war” has been waged on the commonly prescribed drug which is not based on “medical facts.” “There are many doctors that I’ve gotten hostile remarks about saying that all the evidence is bad for it and, in fact, that is not true at all,” Risch said on Monday, adding that he believes the drug should be used as a prophylactic for front-line healthcare workers, as has been done in India. Researchers at the Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan have found that early administration of hydroxychloroquine makes hospitalized patients substantially less likely to die.

“The study, published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, determined that hydroxychloroquine provided a “66 percent hazard ratio reduction,” and hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin a 71 percent reduction, compared with neither treatment. In-hospital mortality was 18.1 percent overall; 13.5 percent with just hydroxychloroquine, 22.4 percent with azithromycin alone, and 26.4 percent with neither drug. “Prospective trials are needed” for further review, the researchers note, even as they concluded: “In this multi-hospital assessment, when controlling for COVID-19 risk factors, treatment with hydroxychloroquine alone and in combination with azithromycin was associated with reduction in COVID-19 associated mortality.” -Fox News

“All the evidence is actually good for it when it is used in outpatient uses. Nevertheless, the only people who actually say that are a whole pile of doctors who are on the front lines treating those patients across the country and they are the ones who are at risk being forced not to do it,” Risch added, arguing that the MSM refuses to cover the benefits of the drug, and is actively silencing those trying to address the efficacy of HCQ.

Read more …

Not only do they seek to profit from the pandemic, their research was funded by … you.

Moderna, Merck Won’t Limit Price Of Coronavirus Vaccines To Company Cost (R.)

Moderna Inc and Merck & Co on Tuesday told a U.S. Congressional panel that they expect to profit from their coronavirus vaccines once approved, amid concerns the vaccines may not be accessible to all. “We will not be selling our vaccine at cost, although it is premature for us as we’re a long way from understanding the cost-basis,” Julie Gerberding, chief patient officer for Merck, told the House of Representatives subcommittee on oversight and investigations in a virtual, off-site hearing. Merck’s has yet to begin human studies of its experimental vaccine, lagging the leading candidates. Executives from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Plc testified that they will price their respective potential vaccines at no profit while the pandemic rages on.

Gerberding and a representative from Moderna did not comment on the price they have in mind for their vaccines at the hearing, which focused on efforts to develop a safe, effective and widely accessible vaccine against COVID-19, which has claimed 600,000 lives globally. Pfizer Inc has said the company intends to make a profit from its potential coronavirus vaccine if approved. However, Pfizer Chief Business Officer John Young, testified: “We recognize that these are extraordinary times and our price will reflect that.” Unlike rivals Moderna and AstraZeneca, Pfizer has not received funding from the United States for its vaccine development.

Lawmakers questioned whether Pfizer had declined government funding so it could price the vaccine at a profit. “We didn’t access federal funding solely for the reason that we wanted to move the vaccine faster to the clinic,” Young said. AstraZeneca said its vaccine would be provided at no profit under its agreement with the United States for allocation of some 300 million doses.

Read more …

Long history thread at the Twitter link.

Our History Is A Battle Against The Microbes (Roser)

Humanity’s history is a continuous battle between us and the microbes. For most of our history we were on the losing side. It wasn’t even close. We were losing very decisively. Billions of children died from infectious diseases. They were the main reason why child mortality was so high: No matter where or when they were born, around half died as children. We looked at the evidence of child mortality in pre-modern times here. The recurring epidemics of influenza, measles, cholera, diphtheria, the bubonic plague, and smallpox also killed large parts of the adult population. Within just a few years the Black Death killed half of Europe’s population. The epidemics – especially of smallpox, but also measles, typhus and other diseases – that the colonialists brought from Europe with them to the Americas killed often an even larger share of the population in many places.

The world today is obviously very different. Infectious diseases are the cause of fewer than 1-in-6 deaths, and as the world made progress against the microbes our lives became much longer. Life expectancy doubled in every world region and the global average is now 73 years. How is it possible that for millennia we were losing the battle against the microbes so awfully and then turned things around in the span of just a few generations? It was science that laid the foundation for our success. 150 years ago nobody knew where diseases came from. Or more precisely, people thought they knew, but they were wrong. The widely accepted idea at the time was the ‘Miasma’ theory of disease. Miasma, the theory held, was a form of “bad air” that causes disease. The word malaria is testament to the idea that ‘mal aria’ – ‘bad air’ in medieval Italian – is the cause of the disease.

Thanks to the work of a number of doctors and chemists in the second half of the 19th century humanity learned that not noxious air, but specific germs cause infectious diseases. The germ theory of disease was the breakthrough in the fight against the microbe. Scientists identified the pathogens that cause the different diseases and thereby laid the foundation for perhaps the most important technical innovation in our fight against them: vaccines. Vaccines protect us from infectious diseases by offering our body a training session for how to fight the germs that cause the disease. “The fundamental idea of a vaccine is deliberate exposure to a relatively harmless or dead version of a germ. The immune system will then recognise and eliminate that germ rapidly if it is encountered again,” as vaccine developer Richard Moxon puts it.

Read more …

Two countries?!

N.Y, N.J, Conn. Expand Travel Quarantine To Over Half Of U.S. States

As the pandemic continues to surge across America, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut expanded their travel quarantine lists for the fourth consecutive week on Tuesday, adding 10 more states for a total of 31. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut require incoming travelers from the 31 states to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival. New states added to the tri-state list on Tuesday are Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington. Minnesota was taken off the list this week, while Delaware returned after being removed last week. The list also includes Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also issued a rule that out-of-state travelers must fill in a form for state officials to verify they are complying with the rules; failure to submit can result in a $2,000 fine and mandatory quarantine. Gov. Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont launched the travel list last month as parts of the country began to see rising case numbers. New York and New Jersey, in particular, were hit hard early on in the pandemic (New York still has the country’s highest number of deaths) and hope the travel limitations will prevent a resurgence from out-of-state travelers. The quarantine applies to states that report 10 or more new cases per 100,000 residents per day or a 10% rise in daily test positivity over a seven-day rolling period.

Read more …

It’s probably the Russians.

Whatever comes out of any investigation between now and November 3, will be blasted as being political. But Trump has been under investigation his entire first term, and that, too, was political, though it will be vehemently denied. Guess we’ll have to say along with the Dems that nobody is above the law, and that goes for them as well.

Democrats Cry ‘Foreign Meddling’ In 2020 Election In Letter To FBI (RT)

A probe into former VP Joe Biden’s dealings in Ukraine is reportedly the ‘foreign interference’ in US elections that prompted Democrats to demand an urgent defensive briefing from the FBI for all members of Congress. “We are gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November,” says a letter by four Democrats on the congressional ‘Gang of Eight’ that deals with intelligence matters. The letter was dated July 13, but was made public on Monday – the deadline the Democrats set for the FBI to schedule the defensive briefings with all members of Congress.

It was signed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-California), and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner (D-Virginia). The fact that it lacked specifics, and was released a week after it was sent to the FBI, raised some eyebrows in Washington. Former acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell tweeted that the ‘Gang of Eight’ and others were briefed “weeks ago” and that the letter amounted to a CYA – short for “cover your a**” – adding, “why the panic now?” One possibility is that it provided a pretext for the Democrats’ presidential nominee Joe Biden to announce on Monday evening that he was putting “the Kremlin and other foreign governments on notice” that he would impose “substantial and lasting costs on those who interfere with American elections” if elected.

According to Politico, who cited “two people familiar with the demand,” the letter is about an investigation led by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) into Biden’s dealings with the former government of Ukraine. The most recent FBI briefing on “foreign influence operations” – back in early April – was also prompted by Johnson’s investigation, as Democrats objected to his efforts to subpoena former Ukrainian official Andrii Telizhenko. Ukrainians themselves have been investigating the role of former president Petro Poroshenko in getting corruption charges dropped against Burisma, a gas company that hired Biden’s son Hunter to nominally sit on its board of directors. Members of parliament and former prosecutors have made a case that Burisma paid Hunter Biden millions of dollars for acting as a de facto shield against prosecution, offering as evidence recordings of what they said were Biden and Poroshenko.

Read more …

Interesting. All of them? And the rioters too?

House Bill Would Require Feds to Identify Themselves (.)

Following a storm of controversy over arrests by federal agents in Portland, Ore., New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Washington, D.C., Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton will be introducing legislation this week that would require federal law enforcement officials to clearly identify themselves, according to a draft bill provided exclusively to The Nation. The bill would require on-duty federal agents to display not just the name of their agency but also the individual agent’s last name and identification number. It would also mandate a new form of oversight for the Justice Department, requiring its inspector general to conduct routine audits to ensure compliance with the legislation. The results of these audits would then be reported to Congress.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) drew scrutiny after federal agents in military fatigues used unmarked vehicles to arrest protesters in Portland. Among these federal agents were members of elite Border Patrol Tactical Units (BORTAC), Custom and Border Protection’s SWAT team equivalent. Despite the mayor of Portland’s demand that federal agents leave the city, DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf refused. “I offered DHS support to help them locally address the situation that’s going on in Portland, and their only response was: please pack up and go home,” he said to Fox News. “That’s just not going to happen on my watch.”

Internal CBP documents obtained by The Nation revealed that these federal agents would be operating indefinitely and in undisclosed locations, with drones “on standby to assist as needed.” The documents describe the DHS’s creation of the Protecting American Communities Task Force in response to President Trump’s executive order “Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Activity.” While this incident was clearly a catalyst for public concern, a spokesperson for Representative Ocasio-Cortez said that her office had been working on this legislation for months.

Provided a copy of the draft legislation, Irvin McCullough, deputy director of legislation at the Government Accountability Project, said, “Lots of lawyers are asking the same thing: Where’s the transparency? Unidentified internal security forces are apprehending American citizens, and accounts allege these apprehension processes are more similar to overseas renditions than traditional arrests. Citizens deserve to know who’s arresting them—or at least what entity—to report any abuses they suffer or witness.”

Read more …

China’s Shipbuilding Industry Continues Leading Position Globally (Xinhua)

China’s shipbuilding industry maintained its leading position globally in the first half of the year (H1) as it held sway in three key aspects, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has said. The completion volume of shipbuilding in China, dropping by 10.6 percent year on year to 17.58 million deadweight tonnes (dwt) in H1, accounted for 37.2 percent of the global market share. New shipbuilding orders, up by 3.4 percent from last year to reach 12.47 million dwt in H1, took up 67.5 percent of the market share worldwide. The volume of holding orders, down by 6.3 percent year on year to 76.54 million dwt in H1, accounted for 48.2 percent of the global market share.

Read more …

Blame COVID.

Britain Nears Abandoning Brexit Trade Deal Hope (R.)

Britain and the European Union will fail to sign a post-Brexit trade deal, with only a few days left before Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s July deadline, The Telegraph reported. The UK government’s assumption is that there will not be a deal, though it remains possible that a “basic” agreement could be reached if the EU gives ground in the autumn, the newspaper said, citing government sources. The government expects it will trade with Europe on World Trade Organisation terms when the transition period ends, the report added.


Britain left the EU on Jan. 31 and its relationship with the bloc is now governed by a transition arrangement that keeps previous rules in place while the two sides negotiate new terms. Negotiators remain deadlocked on fishing rights, the deal’s governance, the European Court of Justice’s role and so-called level playing field guarantees, the newspaper reported. Britain is pursuing trade deals with other countries and setting up its own sanctions regime, and has previously insisted it should not have to sign up to the bloc’s standards.

Read more …

Double the price? Triple?

Passengers Scramble For Limited Seats On Flights To Australia (G.)

International airlines flying into Australia are having to bump passengers, often with little notice, in order to meet strict daily passenger caps set for airports still accepting flights from overseas. The passenger limits introduced to alleviate pressure on quarantine facilities in Australia have meant airports like Brisbane can only accept 70 passengers per day, while services bringing Australians back to Sydney are limited to as few as 30 travellers per flight. While the passenger caps have seen a surge in the cost of airfares into Australia – the cost of a one-way flight from Doha to Sydney on Qatar Airways is $3,729 in economy, a class of seat booked out until 9 August – some economy travellers who are concerned they will be bumped due to their cheaper seats are upgrading to business class tickets.

However airlines including Qatar Airways denied passengers with cheaper tickets would be more likely to be rescheduled, telling the Guardian that passenger lists were based on a range of criteria, including compassionate and medical requests. Originally introduced earlier this month “in order to manage and maintain quarantine arrangements” at hotels, the caps have shrunk from their original limits, now allowing 350 arrivals per day at Sydney, 75 per day at Perth and 70 per day at Brisbane. Melbourne airport remains closed to international visitors, with incoming capacity for Adelaide and Canberra assessed on a case-by-case basis. Between seven to eight international flights are scheduled to land each day at Sydney Airport. However, the cap per flight could increase if some scheduled services do not go ahead.

“The amount allocated to each airline for each flight varies depending on how many flights are operating on each day but within a total daily cap,” a spokeswoman for the federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development said. “Airlines have the ability to request more than their per-flight passenger allocation on a particular day if there is any spare capacity available on that particular day.”

Read more …

You have to love a publication like the Guardian printing a sentence like this, straight-faced:

“In an age of often unreliable sources..”

Book Sales Hit Record Highs In 2019, But Publishers ‘Now Need Help’ (G.)

Book sales in the UK hit record levels in 2019, driven by a surge in audiobook and nonfiction titles, according to new figures released as publishers warn of the huge impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the industry. Book sales rose to £6.3bn in 2019, up 4% on 2018, when sales fell for the first time in five years, and 20% on 2015. According to the latest figures from the Publishers Association (PA), overall print sales were up 3% to £3.5bn in 2019 and digital sales were up 4% to £2.8bn, driven by a 39% increase in audiobook downloads. Digital formats accounted for 44% of the market in 2019, up from 40% in 2015. Strong nonfiction and reference sales, seen in bestsellers such as cookbook Pinch of Nom, Caroline Criado-Perez’s Invisible Women, and Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, saw the sector grow 23.1% to £1bn in 2019, when compared with 2015.

“In an age of often unreliable sources, people are increasingly looking to books for trusted information and are reading nonfiction voraciously across formats,” Hachette chief executive David Shelley told the association. The growth in nonfiction stands in contrast to fiction. Despite the publication of highly anticipated novels such as Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, sales fell to £582m in 2019, down 5.6% when compared with 2015. “Before the coronavirus pandemic, the industry was flourishing, with 2019 being the strongest year in the history of publishing. These robust figures reflect people’s ongoing need and desire for books,” said PA chief executive Stephen Lotinga.

“[The figures] tell a story of pre-Covid success, but they do not reflect the significant challenges that publishers have faced during this pandemic. Despite those difficulties, we know that many people have continued to look to books for solace, enlightenment and entertainment.” Publishers have anticipated declines in revenue of up to 75% as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, with bookshops closed for more than two months, publication dates postponed, orders for books cancelled and author tours called off. One success story was revealed on Tuesday, however, when Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury reported a 28% growth in consumer sales in the four months ending in June 2020. Previously, Bloomsbury had predicted that its print revenues could fall up to 75% due to coronavirus, but print sales actually rose by 9%.

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Yeah, the Smithsonian appears to be woker than the woke.

Smithsonian: ‘Rationality’ & ‘Hard Work’ Are Racist (RC)

In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests over police brutality, interest in “anti-racist” education has exploded among educators and advocates. The case that educators should seek to combat racism seems self-evident. What’s less clear is how the admirable cause of “anti-racism” is fueling, in some corners, the inclination to denounce universal virtues and useful skills as the product of “white culture.” Witness last week’s contretemps at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum, which bills itself as “the only national museum devoted exclusively” to educating the public on these topics, recently debuted the online guide “Talking about Race.”

The guide included a chart cataloguing the “aspects and assumptions” of “white culture” that “have been normalized over time and are now considered standard practices in the United States.” What are these sinister aspects of “white culture,” you ask? Well, according to the Smithsonian, values like “hard work,” “self-reliance,” “be[ing] polite,” and timeliness are all a product of the “white dominant culture.” Indeed, it turns out that conventional grammar, Christianity, the notion that “intent counts” in courts of law, and the scientific method and its emphasis on “objective, rational linear thinking” are all proprietary to “white culture.”

There are several things that might be said about all this. But the place to start may be by observing just how insidious it is to teach black children to reject intellectual and personal traits that promote personal and civic success — in the U.S. or anywhere else. After all, in what land are students well-served when they’re encouraged not to work hard, make decisions, think rationally, or be polite and on time? Among the extraordinarily accomplished people honored by the museum, those such as Frederick Douglass; Harriet Tubman; Jackie Robinson; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Toni Morrison; John Lewis; Oprah Winfrey; Michael Jordan; Condoleezza Rice; and Barack Obama might be surprised to learn that hard work and rational thinking are somehow alien to black culture.

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104 days till the election?!

Judicial Watch Sues DOJ/FBI/ODNI for Records of Obama Oval Office Meeting (JW)

Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) for all records related to the January 5, 2017, meeting at the Obama Oval Office during which the Steele Dossier and the investigation of General Flynn were discussed (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice and ODNI (No. 1:20-cv-01947)). The Oval Office meeting reportedly included President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, national security adviser Susan Rice, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other Obama administration political and law enforcement officials.

At least two records describing the meeting – a January 20, 2017, memo Rice sent to herself and a set of notes taken by FBI counterespionage chief Peter Strzok – have been declassified and made public. Sally Yates also detailed the meeting to Robert Mueller’s investigation. Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the DOJ, FBI, and ODNI failed to respond to identical May 20, 2020, FOIA requests for: “All records regarding the January 5, 2017, meeting at the White House between former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director James Comey, President Obama, and others. This request includes all records created in preparation for, during, and/or pursuant to the meeting, as well as any and all related records of communication between any official or representative of the Department of Justice and any other individual.”

“Obama’s infamous January 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting is a key moment in the corrupt effort to smear and spy on President Trump and target General Flynn with a malicious prosecution,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “Rather than delay and stonewall, it is urgent the FBI, DOJ, ODNI release all records about this malicious, seditious conspiracy.”

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Greta, go to school, don’t fall for being a marketing ploy.

Greta Thunberg Gets €1 Million ‘Humanity Prize’ From Oil Tycoon Foundation (RT)

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has been awarded the first Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity, in the form of €1 million. Problem is, Gulbenkian was a massive oil industrialist who paved the way for Western states to exploit Iraqi oil. Grand Jury Chair Jorge Sampaio said that “Thunberg has been able to mobilize younger generations for the cause of climate change” and is “one of the most remarkable figures of our days.” He also added that the decision was made by consensus. The Swedish activist, however, declined the opportunity to become a millionaire. Thunberg released an Instagram monologue, accompanied by some ambient spiritual music, in which she said she was “extremely honored” to receive the prize, but pledged to donate the money to various climate causes “as quickly as possible.”

It seems, though, that Thunberg is going to be spending fossil-fuel money to advance her cause. The foundation and the Humanity Prize are named after Calouste Gulbenkian, a British-Armenian oil tycoon who died in 1955. One of the wealthiest people of his era, he was a major shareholder in Royal Dutch Shell, developed many oil companies of his own and is historically credited with being the first person to exploit oil in Iraq, which made the petroleum riches of the Middle East ripe for the taking by the West. “By awarding this Prize, the Foundation highlights its commitment to urgent climate action,” the president of the Gulbenkian Foundation, Isabel Mota, commented.

The irony of an oil magnate of historic proportions financing an anti-oil climate activist, though indirectly, was not lost on the Internet. Both Thunberg’s supporters and detractors caught the humor in her now being sponsored by the money “of the polluters against whom she protests.” The prize money will supposedly be split between projects supporting people enduring the worst of the current “climate catastrophe.” For now, Thunberg mentioned she will donate to causes in countries of the Global South, specifically Brazil’s SOS Amazonia campaign to tackle Covid-19 in the Amazon, and the Stop Ecocide Foundation; each will receive €100,000.

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We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thank you.

 

 

Kanye

 

 

I hear this is the perfect protection. Smoking with a mask on.

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 152020
 


Gas prices, Roosevelt and Wabash, Chicago 1939

 

Study Sees Harmful Effect Of Coronavirus Antibodies In ICU (SCMP)
US Base On Japan’s Okinawa Confirms 36 More Coronavirus Cases (R.)
Fundamentally Unsound (Hussman)
‘Jaw-Dropping’ Global Crash In Children Being Born (BBC)
I Still Believe This Will Be #Ourfinesthour (Ben Hunt)
Bari Weiss: Twitter is Editing the New York Times (ZH)
Eric Weinstein Takes Flamethrower To New York Times (ZH)
Banks Stand To Make $18 Billion In PPP Processing Fees From CARES Act (IC)
Trump Ends Preferential Status For Hong Kong, China Vows Retaliation (R.)
Boeing 737 MAX Cancellations Top 350 Planes In First Half Of 2020 (R.)
Qantas Cancels All International Flights Until March 2021 (ZH)
US Mortgage Delinquencies Suddenly Soar at Record Pace (WS)
Judge Rejects $18.9 Million Harvey Weinstein Sex Abuse Settlement (R.)
Damage to the Soul (Craig Murray)

 

 

We seem to have stopped setting new daily records for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tapper

Sessions

 

 

And why not? Let’s make it more confusing, why don’t we? Most if not all vaccine trials are based on observing increased antibodies.

Study Sees Harmful Effect Of Coronavirus Antibodies In ICU (SCMP)

Antibodies generated by the immune system to neutralise the novel coronavirus could cause severe harm or even kill the patient, according to a study by Dutch scientists. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is a fork-shaped molecule produced by adaptive immune cells to intercept foreign invaders. Each type of IgG targets a specific type of pathogen. The IgG for Sars-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19, fights off the virus by binding with the virus’ unique spike protein to reduce its chance of infecting human cells. They usually appear a week or two after the onset of illness, when the symptoms of most critically-ill patients suddenly get worse.

A research team led by Professor Menno de Winther from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands said they might have found an important clue that may answer why the IgG appears only when patients are ill enough to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). The scientists found that the blood from Covid-19 patients struggling for their life on ventilators was highly inflammatory. They observed during a series of experiments that it could trigger an overreaction of the immune system, destroy crucial barriers in tissues and cause water and blood to spill over in the lungs. When Winther and his colleagues compared the blood from Covid-19 patients to those battling other diseases in the ICU, they discovered that Covid-19 patients had a disproportionately large amount of Sars-CoV-2-specific IgG.

These antibodies “strongly amplify pro-inflammatory response”, they said in a non-peer-reviewed paper posted on preprint platform bioRxiv.org on Monday. When Winther applied the pure form of these antibodies directly to healthy blood and tissue cells, nothing happened. But when combined with a giant immune cell called macrophage, which forms when the body senses an infection, the IgGs caused the macrophages to implode, releasing a large amount of inflammatory molecules known as cytokines, causing “striking” destruction, said the researchers.

[..] A Chinese government epidemiologist based in Shanghai said the Dutch paper confirmed “what we suspected for a long time”. Several studies from China have also found the destructive role played by the macrophages in severely ill patients and proposed potential drugs that could suppress the cytokine storm. But the roles of antibodies could be more complex than what have been described, according to the researcher. For instance, it remains unclear whether vaccine-induced antibodies, which are supposed to contain some highly specific neutralising IgGs, will have the same effect in the very early stage of infection.

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“36 more COVID-19 cases among U.S. military in #OccupiedOkinawa, bringing the current total to 136. This gives the U.S. military a COVID-19 rate 200 times larger than Okinawa Prefecture.”

US Base On Japan’s Okinawa Confirms 36 More Coronavirus Cases (R.)

Authorities have confirmed 36 more coronavirus infections at Camp Hansen on Japan’s Okinawa, taking to 136 the tally at U.S. military bases on the island, Kyodo News said on Wednesday. The outbreak emerged at the weekend, provoking the anger of the prefecture’s governor, who has called into question the U.S. military’s virus prevention measures.

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Small part of a seemingly endless investor piece.

Fundamentally Unsound (Hussman)

My impression is that while the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 is likely due to accessory proteins of the virus that knock down respiratory defenses, the lethality of COVID-19 (the resulting disease) is largely due to infiltration and retention of highly inflammatory blood cells into lung tissue, that then degrade, perforate, and cross through the alveolar-capillary barrier. The result is cell damage to alveoli (the air sacs that the lungs use to exchange oxygen with the blood) and to vascular linings, so that fatality is driven by the combination of oxygen deprivation and thrombosis. This is not the flu. In recent weeks, we’ve seen rapid outbreaks in Florida, Texas, and several other states, largely in the same places where protective measures like distancing and masks were disregarded. This isn’t really a “second wave.” It’s more like the start-stop profile of local outbreaks that was predictable even in February.

The only surprise is that it has involved entire states, because somehow, well-understood features of epidemiology and cell biology have become subjects of wildly ignorant political debate. Having written on the urgency of containment beginning on February 2, when the U.S. had only 5 cases and zero deaths, watching this predictable, slow motion train wreck has been excruciating. It is increasingly clear that the primary mode of transmission for SARS-CoV-2 is exhaled air from infected individuals. There’s some evidence that toilet bowls and hospital floors also act as reservoirs for expelled viral particles, but unless you’re regularly sticking your hands into toilet bowls or wiping them on hospital floors, the most likely way to acquire the virus is from expelled air.

The half-life of suspended (“aerosolized”) particles in a room without much ventilation is over an hour, and while some masks clearly provide better filtration than others, even cloth and bandana-type masks substantially reduce the number and distance of expelled particles. So even the crudest mask will reduce the viral load to others. A good analysis of a super-spreading event in Washington State at a Skagit Valley Chorale rehearsal concluded, “the risk of infection is modulated by ventilation conditions, occupant density, and duration of shared presence with an infectious individual.” Exactly. Yet even taking basic protective measures for oneself and others seems to be a problem. When people imagine that not wearing a mask in an indoor public place is somehow an expression of their “individual freedom,” or that it’s “hurting the economy,” they’re not only endangering everyone else – they’re also ensuring that much more stringent measures will be necessary later in order to avoid mass fatalities.

It’s exactly the weak, dismissive response – especially early on, but then encouraged almost daily – that has put U.S. fatalities ahead of every other country on Earth. Indeed, researchers at Harvard recently estimated that “Between 70% and 99% of the Americans who died from this pandemic might have been saved by measures demonstrated by others to have been feasible.” Meanwhile, across 22 countries, there’s an 80% correlation between non-wearing of masks and number of deaths-per-million. That correlation is higher than for the percentage of elderly and the percentage with high body-mass index. Containment measures are critical when and where transmission rates are high.

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A different world.

‘Jaw-Dropping’ Global Crash In Children Being Born (BBC)

The world is ill-prepared for the global crash in children being born which is set to have a “jaw-dropping” impact on societies, say researchers. Falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century. And 23 nations – including Spain and Japan – are expected to see their populations halve by 2100. Countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born. The fertility rate – the average number of children a woman gives birth to – is falling. If the number falls below approximately 2.1, then the size of the population starts to fall. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime.

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 – and their study, published in the Lancet, projects it will fall below 1.7 by 2100. As a result, the researchers expect the number of people on the planet to peak at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling down to 8.8 billion by the end of the century. [..] Japan’s population is projected to fall from a peak of 128 million in 2017 to less than 53 million by the end of the century. Italy is expected to see an equally dramatic population crash from 61 million to 28 million over the same timeframe.


They are two of 23 countries – which also include Spain, Portugal, Thailand and South Korea – expected to see their population more than halve. “That is jaw-dropping,” Prof Christopher Murray told me. China, currently the most populous nation in the world, is expected to peak at 1.4 billion in four years time before nearly halving to 732 million by 2100. India will take its place. The UK is predicted to peak at 75 million in 2063, and fall to 71 million by 2100.

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“We the People? We the Pack.”

I Still Believe This Will Be #Ourfinesthour (Ben Hunt)

Back in early April, I wrote this about our battle with the coronavirus: “There is no country in the world that mobilizes for war more effectively than the United States. And I know you won’t believe me, but I tell you it is true: This will be #OurFinestHour.” Since then, our leaders have totally botched the Covid-19 war-fighting effort. I mean our leaders at every level of government and of every political stripe, and I mean that it has been spectacularly botched. Covid-19 is now endemic within the United States, meaning that it is neither effectively contained nor effectively mitigated. Meaning that it is uncontrolled and uncontrollable. Meaning that tens of thousands of Americans get sick with this disease every day, and between 500 and 1,000 Americans die. Every day.

It didn’t have to be this way. As I write this note, Germany – a large country with a federal political system and the 4th largest economy in the world – is reporting two Covid-19 deaths today. Two. Japan – an even larger country and even larger economy – is reporting one Covid-19 death today. One. But here’s the thing. Yes, our political leaders have been a horror show. God knows I’ve been railing about them for months. But there’s another awful truth at work here. We the people have failed our nation more than the politicians. In fact, I honestly don’t believe we still have a nation. We have a country, of course, but that’s just an administrative thing … here are the borders, here is your social security number, here are the rules for how we do things.

A nation is both less than a country and much, much more. A nation is the meaning of a country. A nation is the embodiment of We the People. It’s not that I think being an American has no meaning. It has a lot of meaning to me. It has a lot of meaning to many people. It has some meaning to almost everyone. It’s that being an American no longer has a shared meaning. [..] I knew that high-functioning sociopath politicians would continue to do their high-functioning sociopath thing, where with one hand they pump out culture-porn telling us that what really matters is our attitude towards Goya beans or Columbus statues, and with the other hand they pump out TRILLIONS of dollars into a money-laundering scheme we like to call “monetary policy”. All while MILLIONS of Americans are getting sick and MILLIONS of Americans are out of a job and TENS OF THOUSANDS of Americans are dead. I just never thought we would embrace this evil – and that’s what it is – in our heart of hearts.

Now this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

That’s from a poem by Rudyard Kipling. I know he’s been canceled, but I don’t care. I think he’s great.

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I don’t read the New York Times, and don’t know Bari Weiss. From what I see, I don’t believe Weiss is the finest person on the planet. But she confirms why I don’t read the NYT. In early 2016 I noticed them posting 10 mostly flimsy anti-Trump pieces a day, and I thought: I don’t like Trump, but I don’t need you to make up my mind for me, and that’s what you want to do. Question though: why did it take her another 4.5 years?

Bari Weiss: Twitter is Editing the New York Times (ZH)

The internal schism at the New York Times has claimed yet another staffer, as opinion editor Bari Weiss has left the paper and penned a scorching resignation letter denouncing the Times as nothing more than an echo chamber for ‘woke’ activists masquerading as journalists who believe dissent has no place on the platform. “But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else”. -Bari Weiss

As a refresher, the Times newsroom erupted in chaos following the decision to publish an Op-Ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), in which he suggested that the Trump administration should deploy the military to quell violent race-riots gripping the country following the death of a black suspect while in custody of Minneapolis police. An internal schism formed within the Times, with younger ‘woke’ staffers insisting that such ‘wrongthink’ has no place on the platform, while others defended the decision to publish Cotton’s divergent opinion. In the end, the woke mob won; the Times added an editor’s note conveying regret for publishing it – which was accompanied by the resignation of editorial page editor James Bennett (who Weiss writes ‘led the effort’ to reform the paper after the 2016 election).

Which brings us back to Bari Weiss, who came under intense fire by her NYT colleagues after she laid out what was going on in the newsroom in a Twitter thread, which ultimately defended the decision to publish Cotton’s op-ed. In her Tuesday resignation letter, Weiss excoriated the Times. “My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m “writing about the Jews again.” Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers. My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in. There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly “inclusive” one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.” -Bari Weiss

Weiss described the Times as a hostile work environment, and slammed the paper for allowing “this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public.” “Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery,” Weiss writes, adding “But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times.” “Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm.

What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.”

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“That is obviously true but I’m sorry we can’t say that here. It will get me strung up.”

Eric Weinstein Takes Flamethrower To New York Times (ZH)

Eric Weinstein, managing director of Thiel Capital and host of The Portal podcast, has gone scorched earth on the New York Times following the Tuesday resignation of journalist Bari Weiss. Weinstein describes how The Times has morphed into an activist rag – refusing to cover “news” unpaletable to their narrative, while ignoring key questions such as whether Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring was “intelligence related.”

“At that moment Bari Weiss became all that was left of the “Paper of Record.” Why? Because the existence of Black Racists with the power to hunt professors with Baseball Bats and even redefine the word ‘racism’ to make their story impossible to cover ran totally counter-narrative. At some point after 2011, the NYT gradually stopped covering the News and became the News instead. And Bari has been fighting internally from the opinion section to re-establish Journalism inside tbe the NYT. A total reversal of the Chinese Wall that separates news from opinion. This is the paper in 2016 that couldnt be interested in the story that millions of Americans were likely lying to pollsters about Donald Trump. The paper refusing to ask the CIA/FBI if Epstein was Intelligence related.

I have had the honor of trying to support both @bariweiss at the New York Times and @BretWeinstein in their battles simply to stand alone against the internal mob mentality. It is THE story all over the country. Our courageous individuals are being hunted at work for dissenting. Before Bari resigned, I did a podcast with her. It was chilling. I‘d make an innocuous statement of simple fact and ask her about it. She‘d reply “That is obviously true but I’m sorry we can’t say that here. It will get me strung up.” That‘s when I stopped telling her to hang on. So what just happened? Let me put it bluntly: What was left of the New York Times just resigned from the New York Times. The Times canceled itself.

As a separate Hong Kong exists in name only, the New New York Times and affiliated “news” is now the chief threat to our democracy. This is the moment when the passengers who have been becoming increasingly alarmed, start to entertain a new idea: what if the people now in the cockpit are not airline pilots? Well the Twitter Activists at the @nytimes and elsewhere are not journalists. What if those calling for empathy have a specific deadness of empathy? Those calling for justice *are* the unjust? Those calling “Privilege” are the privileged? Those calling for equality seek to oppress us? Those anti-racists are open racists? The progressives seek regress? The journalists are covering up the news?

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Anyone surprised?

Banks Stand To Make $18 Billion In PPP Processing Fees From CARES Act (IC)

Banks will make out with $18 billion in fees for processing small business Paycheck Protection Program relief loans during the pandemic, according to calculations by Amanda Fischer, policy director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a progressive economic think tank. That’s money taken directly out of the overall $640 billion pot of funding Congress allocated to the program it created as part of the CARES Act. “If we did it through a public institution, there would be [more than] $140 billion left,” Fischer noted, as opposed to the $130 billion still up for grabs. The Washington Center for Equitable Growth is releasing an analysis of the government response to the pandemic as soon as this week.

The fees compensate the banks for some of the costs that come with processing loans — call center time to handle business owners’ questions, employee hours spent on processing paperwork for both loan and forgiveness applications — and some of the risk they shoulder if any of the loans they extend end up being fraudulent. But there is no credit risk; if business owners who qualified for PPP loans later default, the Small Business Association takes the hit, not the banks. “Basically it’s free money,” Fischer said. For some banks, this money represents a hefty windfall. New Jersey-based Cross River Bank’s estimated $163 million haul would be more than double its net revenue last year. JPMorgan Chase could make $864 million.

The fact that banks are siphoning money off of the relief program is thanks to the fact that the United States had no existing public infrastructure ready to quickly get money out to struggling businesses when the pandemic hit. Fischer characterized it as “a failure of preparedness,” adding, “We should have invested in better systems.” The Small Business Association, which is running the PPP program, has long been criticized for struggling to process emergency relief quickly during past natural disasters. So when the time came to respond to the coronavirus crisis as fast as possible, the SBA was in no position to do it itself, and Congress mandated that the loans be run through banks instead. There weren’t many other options. “It’s hard to build the plane while you’re flying it,” Fischer said.

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Preferential Status for Hong Kong now equals Preferential Status for China. The US doesn’t have much choice.

It was also fun to read that the WHO team will NOT visit the Wuhan lab.

Trump Ends Preferential Status For Hong Kong, China Vows Retaliation (R.)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law to punish China for what he called “oppressive actions” against the former British colony, prompting Beijing to warn of retaliatory sanctions. Citing China’s decision to enact a new national security law for Hong Kong, Trump signed an executive order that he said would end the preferential economic treatment for the city. “No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies,” he told a news conference. Acting on a Tuesday deadline, he also signed a bill approved by the U.S. Congress to penalize banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement the new security law.


“Today I signed legislation, and an executive order to hold China accountable for its aggressive actions against the people of Hong Kong, Trump said. “Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China,” he added. Under the executive order, U.S. property would be blocked of any person determined to be responsible for or complicit in “actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Hong Kong,” according to the text of the document released by the White House. It also directs officials to “revoke license exceptions for exports to Hong Kong,” and includes revoking special treatment for Hong Kong passport holders.

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A 737 MAX costs $110 million a piece.

Boeing 737 MAX Cancellations Top 350 Planes In First Half Of 2020 (R.)

Boeing customers canceled orders for 355 of its 737 MAX jets in the first half of 2020, the U.S. planemaker said on Tuesday, as the damage done by the jet’s grounding and the coronavirus crisis to the airline industry continued to mount. The planemaker, which has now been striving to get its once best-selling MAX planes back in the air for more than a year after two fatal crashes led to its grounding, said airlines and leasing companies canceled another 60 orders for the jet last month. Deliveries in the first half of the year also sank by 71% to just 70 planes as customers canceled or deferred shipments due to the collapse in air travel from coronavirus-led travel restrictions.


Deliveries are financially important to planemakers because airlines pay most of the purchase price when they actually receive the aircraft. Boeing said it handed over 10 aircraft in June, up from four planes in May, and six jets in April. [..] After adjusting for jets ordered in previous years but unlikely to be delivered currently, Boeing has now lost 784 net orders this year, rising from a loss of 602 net orders as of May end.

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Since Rainman, Qantas has been known for its safety.

Qantas Cancels All International Flights Until March 2021 (ZH)

The prospects for a V-shaped recovery in airlines are looking dim. The latest indication of how slow things are getting back to normal in the industry is Australian-based Qantas Airlines pulling all of its international flights off its website this week. The airline is cancelling routes to New Zealand until September 1 and flights to other international destinations have been cancelled until March 28, 2021 – nearly another year away – according to the Daily Mail. “All international and sale flights have been removed from the website until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic,” a spokesperson for the airline said. “There are some international flights in the system but they are not currently operating.”

Flights are still available through the airline’s partner airlines like Emirates, British Airways and Cathay Pacific. But Qantas wants to prevent new bookings from being made on its own airline. Flights that have already been booked will proceed as planned. The move comes weeks after the airline cut 6,000 jobs, representing 20% of its workforce. The company’s CEO has also predicted that international flights wouldn’t resume until July 2021. “We have never experienced anything like this before – no-one has. All airlines are in the biggest crisis our industry has ever faced,” he said last month. “Revenues have collapsed, entire fleets are grounded and the world biggest carriers are taking extreme action just to survive.”

The decision to halt international flights comes after the airline’s decision to also ground its double decker A380 planes for at least three years and to retire six Boeing 747s. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said in June that Australia’s borders would probably remain closed for another 4 months.

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US housing is under serious threat. That’s a serious theat to the entire banking system. Which will be bailed out.

US Mortgage Delinquencies Suddenly Soar at Record Pace (WS)

OK, it’s actually worse. Mortgages that are in forbearance and have not missed a payment before going into forbearance don’t count as delinquent. They’re reported as “current.” And 8.2% of all mortgages in the US – or 4.1 million loans – are currently in forbearance, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. But if they did not miss a payment before entering forbearance, they don’t count in the suddenly spiking delinquency data. The onslaught of delinquencies came suddenly in April, according to CoreLogic, a property data and analytics company (owner of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index), which released its monthly Loan Performance Insights today. And it came after 27 months in a row of declining delinquency rates. These delinquency rates move in stages – and the early stages are now getting hit:

Transition from “Current” to 30-days past due: In April, the share of all mortgages that were past due, but less than 30 days, soared to 3.4% of all mortgages, the highest in the data going back to 1999. This was up from 0.7% in April last year. During the Housing Bust, this rate peaked in November 2008 at 2%: From 30 to 59 days past due: The rate of these early delinquencies soared to 4.2% of all mortgages, the highest in the data going back to 1999. This was up from 1.7% in April last year. From 60 to 89 days past due: As of April, this stage had not yet been impacted, with the rate remaining relatively low at 0.7% (up from 0.6% in April last year). This stage will jump in the report to be released a month from now when today’s 30-to-59-day delinquencies, that haven’t been cured by then, move into this stage.


Serious delinquencies, 90 days or more past due, including loans in foreclosure: As of April, this stage had not been impacted, and the rate ticked down to 1.2% (from 1.3% in April a year ago). We should see the rate rise in two months and further out. Overall delinquency rate, 30-plus days, jumped to 6.1%, up from 3.6% in April last year. This was the highest overall delinquency rate since January 2016 (on the way down). These delinquency rates are the first real impact seen on the housing market by the worst employment crisis in a lifetime, with over 32 million people claiming state or federal unemployment benefits. There is no way – despite rumors to the contrary – that a housing market sails unscathed through that kind of employment crisis.

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How sick is that US “justice system”? “..it would leave Weinstein’s victims with typical awards of just US$10,000 to US$20,000, while setting aside US$15.2 million for defence costs..”

Judge Rejects $18.9 Million Harvey Weinstein Sex Abuse Settlement (R.)

A US judge on Tuesday rejected a proposed US$18.9 million civil settlement for women who claimed they were subjected to sexual abuse and workplace harassment by the disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein. US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan said the preliminary settlement would be unfair to women who Weinstein raped or sexually abused, because it treated them no different from women who had merely met him. He also criticised a plan to set aside money to help Weinstein and the board of his former studio pay defence costs. “The idea that Harvey Weinstein could get a defence fund ahead of the plaintiffs is obnoxious,” Hellerstein said at a hearing.


A settlement would have resolved class-action litigation by Weinstein accusers, and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit accusing Weinstein, his brother Bob Weinstein and their bankrupt Weinstein Co of maintaining a hostile work environment. Elizabeth Fegan, a lawyer representing nine Weinstein accusers, had argued that “all of the women were in the zone of danger” created by Weinstein, justifying class-action treatment. [..] James’ office will review the decision. “Our office has been fighting tirelessly to provide these brave women with the justice they are owed and will continue,” a spokeswoman said. The settlement drew objections from women who said it would leave Weinstein’s victims with typical awards of just US$10,000 to US$20,000, while setting aside US$15.2 million for defence costs. Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer representing six objectors, said he was pleased Hellerstein “swiftly rejected the one-sided proposal.”

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Talk about a sick justice system.

The format of Craig’s article is a bit hard to rhyme with that of the Debt Rattle. I tried. Do read the whole thing.

‘To have extradition decided on the merits of one indictment when the accused actually faces another is an outrage. To change the indictment long after the hearing is underway and defence evidence has been seen is an outrage. The lack of media outrage is an outrage.’

Damage to the Soul (Craig Murray)

In a truly extraordinary twist, Assange is now being extradited on the basis of an indictment served in the UK, which is substantially different to the actual indictment he now faces in Virginia if extradited. The Assange hearing was adjourned after its first full week, and its resumption has since been delayed by coronavirus. In that first full week, both the prosecution and the defence outlined their legal arguments over the indictment. [..] this is about switching to charges firmly grounded in “hacking”, rather than in publishing leaks about appalling American war crimes. The new indictment is based on the evidence of a “supergrass”, Sigurdur Thordarson, who was acting a a paid informant to the FBI during his contact with Wikileaks.

Thordarson is fond of money and is a serial criminal. He was convicted on 22 December 2014 by Reykjanes District Court in Iceland of stealing over US $40,000 and over 13,000 euro from Wikileaks “Sunshine Press” accounts by forging documents in the name of Julian Assange, and given a two year jail sentence. Thordarson is also a convicted sex offender, and was convicted after being turned in to the police by Julian Assange, who found the evidence – including of offences involving a minor – on Thordarson’s computer. There appears scope to doubt the motives and credentials of the FBI’s supergrass. The FBI have had Thordarson’s “Evidence” against Assange since long before the closing date for submissions in the extradition hearing, which was June 19th 2019.


That they now feel the need to deploy this rather desperate stuff is a good sign of how they feel the extradition hearing has gone so far, as an indicator of the prospects of a successful prosecution in the USA. [..] Then, to our amazement, the prosecution did not put forward the new indictment at the procedural hearing at all. To avoid these problems, it appears they are content to allow the extradition hearing to go ahead on the old indictment, when that is not in fact the indictment which awaits Assange in the United States. This is utterly outrageous. The prosecution will argue that the actual espionage charges themselves have not changed. But it is the indictment which forms the basis of the extradition hearing and the different indictment which would form the basis of any US prosecution.

Read more …

 

 

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May 272020
 


G. G. Bain Metropolitan Opera baritone Giuseppe De Luca, New York 1920

 

Despite The Hype, Gilead’s Remdesivir Will Do Nothing To End The Coronavirus Pandemic (Lerner)
WHO Expects Hydroxychloroquine Safety Findings By Mid-June (R.)
Antibody Tests For COVID19 Wrong Up To Half The Time – CDC (CNN)
Coronavirus Cases Are On The Rise In 20 US States (R.) .
Coronavirus Uses Same Strategy As HIV To Dodge Immune Response (SCMP)
China’s Top Virus Warrior ‘Shocked’ By US Coronavirus Death Toll (SCMP)
Neglected Residents, Rotten Food, Cockroaches Found At Canada Care Homes (G.)
Cuomo Gave Immunity to Nursing-Home Execs After Big Campaign Donations (Sirota)
How Hong Kong Avoided A Single Coronavirus Death In Care Homes (Ind.)
Coronavirus Lockdowns Prompt Raft Of Lawsuits Against States (USAT)
Twitter Is Completely Stifling Free Speech – Trump (JTN)
Japan Eyes Fresh $1.1 Trillion Stimulus To Combat Pandemic Pain (R.)
Macron Wants France To Be Europe’s Top Clean Car Producer (R.)
The FBI Documents That Put Barack Obama In The Obamagate Narrative (Solomon)

 

 

• 100,000 deaths broached in the US.

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 19,582
• Brazil + 17,838
• Russia + 8,915
• UK 4,938
• India + 6,604
• Peru + 5,772

 

 

 

 

 

We’re back to “normal” numbers: about 100,000 new cases and 4,500 new deaths.

Cases 5,709,518 (+ 99,864 from yesterday’s 5,609,654)

Deaths 352,750 (+ 4,428 from yesterday’s 348,322)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close- Note: see bottom 2: Pakistan passed Belgium in cases, but has 5 deaths per million pop. vs Belgium’s 806.

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Capitalism at its peak.

Despite The Hype, Gilead’s Remdesivir Will Do Nothing To End The Coronavirus Pandemic (Lerner)

Desperation for the limited supply of remdesivir is so great that Virginia will hold a lottery to determine which of the almost 1,500 severely ill patients in the state will be able to get its several hundred donated doses of the drug. In Minnesota, state officials have come up with an action plan to allocate their supply of the Covid-19 treatment, which calls for designating “triage officers” who will randomly choose among equally eligible patients. And in Alabama, physicians on a coronavirus task force set up by the governor will determine which patients get remdesivir. Some hospitals there will receive just a single course of treatment. Still, Alabama’s state health officer, Dr. Scott Harris, recently offered his thanks to Gilead, the drug’s manufacturer, which donated some 940,000 vials of the drug to the federal government that are being distributed by state health departments.

“Although the total supply of remdesivir is limited, we are grateful that hospitalized COVID-19 patients with severe disease in Alabama can receive this potentially lifesaving medication,” said Harris. It is amid these feelings of scarcity and indebtedness that Gilead is setting the price for its antiviral medicine. The company, which has already arranged for distribution of remdesivir in 127 countries, is expected to begin selling it commercially as soon as June. And while a 10-day course of the drug, which was developed as a potential Ebola treatment with at least $79 million in U.S. government funding, costs only about $10 to produce, according to an estimate by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, its market price is expected to be several hundred times that amount.

Still, price gouging isn’t what has many scientists upset about remdesivir. It’s the fact that the coronavirus drug that has boosted hopes and sent Gilead’s stock price (and according to some analysts, the entire stock market) soaring doesn’t seem to do much for coronavirus patients. said William Haseltine, a scientist who has spent decades studying viruses and helped lead the U.S. government response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. “It is comparable to Tamiflu and maybe not even as good,” Haseltine added, referring to another antiviral drug that has been available by prescription for 20 years and is expected to be sold over the counter in the coming months.

Haseltine, who founded the divisions of biochemical pharmacology and human retrovirology at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, pointed out that Gilead hasn’t released data showing remdesivir’s effect on viral load in people with Covid-19. Meanwhile, the only available information on how the drug affects the amount of the coronavirus in patients, a Chinese study of the drug published in The Lancet, showed that the drug did not lower the viral load. “That’s why I call it the fuzzy-wuzzy drug,” said Haseltine. “When the Chinese tried to find the antiviral effect, it wasn’t there.” Instead, the excitement about remdesivir is based largely on a study sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that showed people taking the drug had a faster recovery than those who didn’t take it: 11 days on average compared to 15 for those taking a placebo.

An article published on May 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine showed mild improvement in hospitalized patients that took remdesivir, though the drug didn’t appear to be of any help to the sickest patients, who needed to receive high-flow oxygen through ventilators or other means. Nor did the drug significantly improve a patient’s chance of surviving Covid-19. Nevertheless, at an April 29 Oval Office press conference with President Donald Trump, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci declared that preliminary results from that trial proved that “a drug can block this virus.” Since then, remdesivir has been positioned as our savior and Gilead as its benevolent dispenser.

While some patients and their families have spent the past few weeks frantically trying to procure remdesivir, another Covid-19 treatment has been quietly been shown to be more effective. Although neither option appears to be the much-needed cure for Covid-19, a three-drug regimen offered a greater reduction in the time it took patients to recover than remdesivir did. People who took the combination of interferon beta-1b, lopinavir-ritonavir, and ribavirin got better in seven days as opposed to 12 days for those who didn’t take it. Critically, the treatment has another leg up on Gilead’s: It clearly reduced the amount of the coronavirus in patients who took it, according to a study published in The Lancet on May 8.

Yet so far there has been no stampede of patients demanding the new regimen or lotteries to mete out the doses, which may be due at least in part to the fact that the treatment hasn’t been the subject of a major marketing campaign. It’s worth noting that each of the three drugs in the new combination is generic, or no longer under patent, which means that no company stands to profit significantly from its use.

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We’d want to see all the other research from the past 65 years as well, please.

WHO Expects Hydroxychloroquine Safety Findings By Mid-June (R.)

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday promised a swift review of data on hydroxychloroquine, probably by mid-June, after safety concerns prompted the group to suspend the malaria drug’s use in a large trial on COVID-19 patients. U.S. President Donald Trump and others have pushed hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment, but the WHO on Monday called time after the British journal The Lancet reported patients getting hydroxychloroquine had increased death rates and irregular heartbeats. “A final decision on the harm, benefit or lack of benefit of hydroxychloroquine will be made once the evidence has been reviewed,” the body said. “It is expected by mid-June.”


Those already in a 17-country study, called Solidarity, of thousands of patients who have started hydroxychloroquine can finish their treatment, the WHO said. Newly enrolled patients will get other treatments being evaluated, including Gilead Science’s remdesivir and AbbVie’s Kaletra/Aluvia. Separate hydroxychloroquine trials, including a 440-patient U.S. study by Swiss drugmaker Novartis, are continuing enrollment. Novartis and rival Sanofi have pledged donations of tens of millions of doses of the drug, also used in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, for COVID-19. Novartis said The Lancet study, while covering 100,000 people, was “observational” and could not demonstrate a causal link between hydroxychloroquine and side effects. “We need randomised, controlled clinical trials to clearly understand efficacy and safety,” a Novartis spokesman said.

Read more …

You can’t do accurate testing for antibodies if too small a segment of a population is infected.

Antibody Tests For COVID19 Wrong Up To Half The Time – CDC (CNN)

Antibody tests used to determine if people have been infected in the past with Covid-19 might be wrong up to half the time, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in new guidance posted on its website. Antibody tests, often called serologic tests, look for evidence of an immune response to infection. “Antibodies in some persons can be detected within the first week of illness onset,” the CDC says. They are not accurate enough to use to make important policy decisions, the CDC said. “Serologic test results should not be used to make decisions about grouping persons residing in or being admitted to congregate settings, such as schools, dormitories, or correctional facilities,” the CDC says.

“Serologic test results should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace.” Health officials or health care providers who are using antibody tests need to use the most accurate test they can find and might need to test people twice, the CDC said in the new guidance. “In most of the country, including areas that have been heavily impacted, the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibody is expected to be low, ranging from less than 5% to 25%, so that testing at this point might result in relatively more false positive results and fewer false-negative results,” the CDC said.

[..] The CDC explains why testing can be wrong so often. A lot has to do with how common the virus is in the population being tested. “For example, in a population where the prevalence is 5%, a test with 90% sensitivity and 95% specificity will yield a positive predictive value of 49%. In other words, less than half of those testing positive will truly have antibodies,” the CDC said. “Alternatively, the same test in a population with an antibody prevalence exceeding 52% will yield a positive predictive greater than 95%, meaning that less than one in 20 people testing positive will have a false positive test result.”

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While just 15 have seen cases fall for 14 days.

Coronavirus Cases Are On The Rise In 20 US States (R.) .

Twenty U.S. states reported an increase in new cases of COVID-19 for the week ended May 24, up from 13 states in the prior week, as the death toll from the novel coronavirus approaches 100,000, according to a Reuters analysis. Alabama had the biggest weekly increase at 28%, Missouri’s new cases rose 27% and North Carolina’s rose 26%, according to the analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak. New cases in Georgia, one of the first states to reopen, rose 21% after two weeks of declines. The state attributed the increase to a backlog of test results and more testing. Nationally, new cases of COVID-19 fell 0.8% for the week ended May 24, compared with a decline of 8% in the prior week.


All 50 states have now at least partially reopened, raising fears among some health officials of a second wave of outbreaks. The increase in cases could also be due to more testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended states wait for their daily number of new COVID-19 cases to fall for 14 days before easing social distancing restrictions. As of May 24, 15 states had met that criteria, up from 13 in the prior week, according to the Reuters analysis. Washington state, where the U.S. outbreak started, has the longest streak with cases falling for eight weeks in a row, followed by Hawaii at seven weeks and Pennsylvania and New York at six weeks.

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Viruses don’t use strategies. That’s just another absurdity provoked by all the war comparisons. How can you be at war with something that’s not even considered alive? You might as well declare war on a rock or a mountain, or the sky, the ocean.

The vast majority of people alive in the west today have no first hand experience of war, and neither do the politicians who speak to them in terms of war. What makes them feel comfortable with the language, then? Is it Hollywood?

Coronavirus Uses Same Strategy As HIV To Dodge Immune Response (SCMP)

The novel coronavirus uses the same strategy to evade attack from the human immune system as HIV, according to a new study by Chinese scientists. Both viruses remove marker molecules on the surface of an infected cell that are used by the immune system to identify invaders, the researchers said in a non-peer reviewed paper posted on preprint website bioRxiv.org on Sunday. They warned that this commonality could mean Sars-CoV-2, the clinical name for the virus, could be around for some time, like HIV. Virologist Zhang Hui and a team from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou also said their discovery added weight to clinical observations that the coronavirus was showing “some characteristics of viruses causing chronic infection”.


Their research involved collecting killer T cells from five patients who had recently recovered from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Those immune cells are generated by people after they are infected with Sars-CoV-2 – their job is to find and destroy the virus. But the killer T cells used in the study were not effective at eliminating the virus in infected cells. When the scientists took a closer look they found that a molecule known as major histocompatibility complex, or MHC, was missing. The molecule is an identification tag usually present in the membrane of a healthy cell, or in sick cells infected by other coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or Sars. It changes with infections, alerting the immune system whether a cell is healthy or infected by a virus.

Coronavirus spread would dramatically drop if 80% of a population wore masks – AI researcher

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Zhong Nanshan again, who said in late January that the epidemic in Wuhan would be over in 10 days. That was spoken as a Beijing mouthpiece, and that’s what he still is.

China’s Top Virus Warrior ‘Shocked’ By US Coronavirus Death Toll (SCMP)

The US death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has shocked the scientist leading the fight against the disease in China, with the respiratory disease expert attributing the magnitude of American fatalities to a failure by policymakers to heed scientists’ advice. More than 1.66 million Covid-19 infections have been reported in the US, with 98,226 people dying from the disease – the highest number of deaths for any country. In all, 5.49 million people have been infected globally and more than 340,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. “Seventeen years ago, the Sars epidemic was handled so well in the US, completely differently from the situation now,” said Zhong Nanshan, director of the National Clinical Research Centre for Respiratory Disease and the leader of a team of scientists advising the government.

“You can say that [the US] carried out very extensive screening or more screening than other countries … But the heavy casualties still shocked me,” he said in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post. Zhong said his counterparts in the US told him that the American system was ill-prepared for the epidemic, despite the country’s high level of medical care, equipment and facilities. He said this was similar to the early response in Wuhan – the central Chinese city where the outbreak was first identified – when many medical personnel were infected and died. But the main problem in the US was the failure to listen to medical experts, he said. As a result, US President Donald Trump “underestimated the disease’s infectious power as well as its harmful nature. He thought it was a big flu.

US officials also did not listen to medical experts’ views concerning the reopening of the economy, he said. “Opening the economy quickly can be risky. I think they should follow the rules of science and reopen the economy step by step,” Zhong said. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has cautioned against businesses reopening too soon because of the threat of a second wave of infections. Fauci, who is the government’s top medical specialist, has said repeatedly that “the virus will decide when the country is to open back up”.

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Do explain, Justin. Tell us how you do not see elderly people as disposable. See, there’s no way you never saw a single complaint before the virus came.

Neglected Residents, Rotten Food, Cockroaches Found At Canada Care Homes (G.)

Canadian troops deployed to long-term care homes overwhelmed by coronavirus outbreaks found neglected and malnourished residents, rotten food and insect infestations, and a blatant disregard for critical safety protocol, according to a bombshell report from the country’s armed forces. Military medics were dispatched to long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario in late April, with aim of blunting Covid-19 outbreaks among vulnerable populations. Soldiers deployed to five of Ontario’s worst-hit care homes encountered rotten food, cockroaches and residents in soiled diapers, according to the report published on Tuesday. At one facility, residents had not been bathed in weeks. At another, staff made “derogatory or inappropriate comments directed at residents’”.

Neglect of resident hygiene and health, often leading to infection, was documented at all facilities. At one point, “patients [were] observed crying for help with staff not responding for 30 mins to over two hours,” the report said. [..] Long-term care homes in Canada, many of which are privately run, have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, with residents making up nearly eight out of 10 Covid-19-related deaths across the country. The damage has been felt most acutely in Ontario and Quebec, which have the vast majority of the country’s coronavirus cases and fatalities. An estimated 225 people died at the five homes where the military was assisting in Ontario.

The report chronicled widespread “burnout” among staff, a number of whom hadn’t seen family in weeks. The military also found numerous examples of staff showing little knowledge of how to properly wear personal protective equipment when dealing with coronavirus cases. [..] Meanwhile, the Canadian military said today that some 36 members working in long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec have become sick with Covid-19.

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Peak America.

Cuomo Gave Immunity to Nursing-Home Execs After Big Campaign Donations (Sirota)

In 2018, hospitals, nursing homes, and their lobbyists gave $2.3 million to New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s political apparatus. Now health care executives are getting immunity for their deadly negligence during the coronavirus pandemic. Critics say New York’s liability shield is linked to higher nursing-home death rates during the pandemic.

As Governor Andrew Cuomo faced a spirited challenge in his bid to win New York’s 2018 Democratic primary, his political apparatus got a last-minute boost: a powerful health care industry group suddenly poured more than $1 million into a Democratic committee backing his campaign. Less than two years after that flood of cash from the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), Cuomo signed legislation last month quietly shielding hospital and nursing-home executives from the threat of lawsuits stemming from the coronavirus outbreak. The provision, inserted into an annual budget bill by Cuomo’s aides, created one of the nation’s most explicit immunity protections for health care industry officials, according to legal experts.

Critics say Cuomo removed a key deterrent against nursing home and hospital corporations cutting corners in ways that jeopardize lives. As those critics now try to repeal the provision during this final week of Albany’s legislative session, they assert that data prove such immunity is correlating to higher nursing-home death rates during the pandemic — both in New York and in other states enacting similar immunity policies. New York has become one of the globe’s major pandemic hot spots — and the epicenter of the state’s outbreak has been nursing homes, where more than five thousand New Yorkers have died, according to Associated Press data.

Those deaths have occurred as Cuomo’s critics say he has taken a hands-off approach to regulating the health care industry interests that helped bankroll his election campaign. In March, Cuomo’s administration issued an order that allowed nursing homes to readmit sick patients without testing them for COVID-19. Amid allegations of undercounted casualties, the governor also pushed back against pressure to have state regulators more stringently record and report death rates in nursing homes. And then came Cuomo’s annual budget — which included a little-noticed passage shielding corporate officials who run New York hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities from liability for COVID-related deaths and injuries.

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You think we’ll listen now, listen more, listen better? I predict yes, we will. For two whole weeks.

How Hong Kong Avoided A Single Coronavirus Death In Care Homes (Ind.)

Coronavirus has ravaged care homes across Europe and America, killing tens of thousands, but in Hong Kong, not a single resident in care has even contracted Covid-19. Its apparent success offers vital lessons – ones that the city learned the hard way almost two decades ago. In Sweden and Belgium, care home residents make up roughly half of each country’s Covid-19 deaths. In Spain alone, almost 18,000 nursing home residents have died from the virus, El País estimates. And in England and Wales, more than 90 per cent of those who have died from the coronavirus have been people over the age of 65, including 12,500 care home residents, according to the Office for National Statistics.

No one would have been surprised if Hong Kong suffered from a major Covid-19 epidemic. It shares a border with mainland China, which is crossed by hundreds of thousands of people every day. Most of the city’s tourists come from the mainland, accounting for tens of millions of visitors every year. In early February, Hong Kong had its first death from coronavirus – only the second death outside of mainland China. But to this day, there have been only four Covid-19 deaths in Hong Kong, a city of 7.5 million. This is not the first time Hong Kong has faced a novel coronavirus. In 2003, six years after the former British colony was handed back to China, it became the epicentre of the SARS outbreak: 299 people died, accounting for almost 40 per cent of the global death toll. The disease had first appeared the year before in Guangdong, the Chinese province that borders Hong Kong.

As is the case with Covid-19, the elderly were the most susceptible to SARS, and similar to the UK, about a fifth of Hong Kong’s population is over the age of 65. By the epidemic’s end, 54 nursing homes had had cases of SARS. Two nursing home workers died. It was not a trauma the industry would quickly forget. “The nightmare of SARS is still on everyone’s minds, so [care homes] were really afraid,” Prof Terry Lum, the head of the department of social work and social administration at the University of Hong Kong, told The Independent. “We had learned a very painful lesson,” he continued, “and since then the nursing homes had been preparing for another outbreak.” Seventeen years after SARS, Hong Kong’s nursing homes were taking no chances.

On 21 January, an infected tourist from Wuhan crossed the border into Hong Kong, becoming the city’s first case. Four days later, the government announced that it would be enacting the emergency phase of its infectious disease protocol. Because of Hong Kong’s collective memory of SARS, individuals, organisations and businesses did not need to wait for instructions from the government. Nursing homes enacted their own measures, Prof Lum recounted. They began limiting the length of workers’ leaves, in order to prevent them from taking weekend trips to mainland China and possibly bringing the virus back. When nursing homes were instructed to take the temperature of all visitors, they took it one step further: they banned visitors altogether, effectively closing off their residents from the outside world by the end of January. There were still only 13 confirmed cases in Hong Kong at the time.

Read more …

Send your kid to law school. That’s where the money is.

Coronavirus Lockdowns Prompt Raft Of Lawsuits Against States (USAT)

Camping in Scarborough, Maine. Gathering for church in Chincoteague, Virginia. Or just grabbing a burger at Poopy’s Pub and Grub in Savanna, Illinois. Each of these activities became the subject of a federal lawsuit, as residents, businesses and even lawmakers challenged state shutdown orders designed to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. The cases test where the lines are safely drawn, as governors balance protecting public health against individual liberties. Governors say strict rules save lives, but critics who are forced to stay home or shutter their businesses called the steps “draconian” or compared them to “house arrest.” The lawsuits come as President Donald Trump has become increasingly vocal in criticism of state restrictions, encouraged protests at state capitols and urged churches to reopen despite restrictions.

More than 1,300 state and federal lawsuits have been filed over COVID-19, including 240 dealing with civil rights, as of Friday, according to Hunton Andrews Kurth, a law firm tracking the cases. USA TODAY reviewed more than 80 lawsuits that often dealt with conditions at prisons and nursing homes, voting rights, and university tuition. USA TODAY focused on legal challenges to restrictions such as stay-at-home orders and business closures, and also whether abortion or church services can be limited during the pandemic, to gauge which orders were being challenged and how states were responding. The eventual rulings could redefine the balance between state police powers and constitutional rights that advocates contend are too important to sacrifice even temporarily.

Abortions are time sensitive. Buyers want guns during times of crisis. And parishioners seek solace at church. Other lawsuits test whether rules go beyond legislative authorities by requiring people to isolate themselves, stay apart in public and wear masks. “I tend to think there will be some new law made only because there are new scenarios that courts haven’t encountered before,” said Polly Price, a law professor at Emory University. “What they’re balancing is the scientific basis for a particular measure and the state’s need for it, in the face of uncertainty, to protect the public health.”

Read more …

CNN and the WaPo as fact-checkers. Oh boy.

No matter what else happens, Twitter just volunteered to go from being a platform to being a publisher. That has consequences.

Twitter Is Completely Stifling Free Speech – Trump (JTN)

President Trump on Tuesday night lambasted Twitter because the company slapped a message on two of his tweets that linked to a page disputing the accuracy of his posts. “@Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election. They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post,” the president tweeted. “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!” he added in another tweet. Twitter labeled two of Trump’s tweets in which he warned that mail-in voting is ripe for fraud—he specifically warned that absue would be committed in California. Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month signed an executive order for every registered voter to receive mail-in ballots for the November 2020 general election.

“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one,” President Trump tweeted in a two-tweet series. “That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!” Twitter plastered a message on both of Trump’s tweets that says “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” That message links to a page that pushes back against the president’s assertions.

“On Tuesday, President Trump made a series of claims about potential voter fraud after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an effort to expand mail-in voting in California during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the page says. “These claims are unsubstantiated, according to CNN, Washington Post and others. Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud.”

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Something tells me it will never be enough.

Japan Eyes Fresh $1.1 Trillion Stimulus To Combat Pandemic Pain (R.)

Japan will compile a fresh stimulus package worth $1.1 trillion that will include a sizable amount of direct spending to cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic, a draft of the budget obtained by Reuters showed on Wednesday. The stimulus, which will be funded partly by a second extra budget, will be on top of a $1.1 trillion package already rolled out last month, putting the total amount Japan spends to combat the virus fallout at 234 trillion yen – roughly 40% of Japan’s GDP. The government’s 117 trillion yen ($1.1 trillion) in fresh stimulus, to be compiled on Wednesday, will include 33 trillion yen in direct spending, the draft showed.


To fund the costs, Japan will issue an additional 31.9 trillion yen in government bonds under the second supplementary budget for the current fiscal year ending in March 2021, according to the draft. “We must protect business and employment by any means in the face of the tough road ahead. We must also take all necessary measures to prepare for another wave of epidemic,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a meeting with ruling party lawmakers on Wednesday. Government officials have said the new package will include steps such as an increased medical spending, aid to firms struggling to pay rent, support for students who lost part-time jobs, and more subsidies to companies hit by slumping sales. In the second extra budget, the government will also set aside 10 trillion yen in reserves that can be tapped for emergency spending, the draft showed.

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Macron comes close to giving away cars for free to save the planet.

Macron Wants France To Be Europe’s Top Clean Car Producer (R.)

President Emmanuel Macron announced an 8 billion euro ($8.8 billion) plan on Tuesday to make France the top producer of clean vehicles in Europe and urged French carmakers to make vehicles in their own country. French car plants are only just starting to rev up production after the coronavirus lockdown, which hit the auto sector badly, and Macron wants to accelerate the transition to electric cars to help revive the industry. “We need a motivational goal: make France Europe’s top producer of clean vehicles by bringing output (up) to more than one million electric and hybrid cars per year over the next five years,” Macron told a news conference. To achieve that goal, he said France would increase the state bonus for consumers buying electric cars to €7,000 euros ($7,690) from €6,000.


But to help dealerships sell the 400,000 vehicles left unsold because of the lockdown, Macron said people buying a traditional car would also receive a €3,000 bonus under a scheme that would apply to three-quarters of households. “Our fellow citizens need to buy more vehicles, and in particular clean ones. Not in two, five or 10 years – now,” Macron said following a visit to a Valeo car parts factory in northern France. No car model currently produced in France should be manufactured abroad, he said. Renault, which produces its Zoe electric model in France, had pledged to make a future Renault-Nissan electric engine in France and not in Asia, as initially envisaged, he said.

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It’ll be an extreme election season. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.

The FBI Documents That Put Barack Obama In The Obamagate Narrative (Solomon)

Just 17 days before President Trump took office in January 2017, then-FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok texted bureau lawyer Lisa Page, his mistress, to express concern about sharing sensitive Russia probe evidence with the departing Obama White House. Strzok had just engaged in a conversation with his boss, then-FBI Assistant Director William Priestap, about evidence from the investigation of incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, codenamed Crossfire Razor, or “CR” for short. The evidence in question were so-called “tech cuts” from intercepted conversations between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, according to the texts and interviews with officials familiar with the conversations.

[..] The text messages, which were never released to the public by the FBI but were provided to this reporter in September 2018, have taken on much more significance to both federal and congressional investigators in recent weeks as the Justice Department has requested that Flynn’s conviction be thrown out and his charges of lying to the FBI about Kislyak dismissed. U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen of Missouri (special prosecutor for DOJ), the FBI inspection division, three Senate committees and House Republicans are all investigating the handling of Flynn’s case and whether any crimes were committed or political influence exerted.

The investigators are trying to determine whether Obama’s well-known disdain for Flynn, a career military intelligence officer, influenced the decision by the FBI leadership to reject its own agent’s recommendation to shut down a probe of Flynn in January 2017 and instead pursue an interview where agents might catch him in a lie. They also want to know whether the conversation about the Presidential Daily Briefings involved Flynn and “reporting” the FBI had gathered by early January 2017 showing the incoming national security adviser was neither a counterintelligence nor a criminal threat. “The evidence connecting President Obama to the Flynn operation is getting stronger,” one investigator with direct knowledge told me.

“The bureau knew it did not have evidence to justify that Flynn was either a criminal or counterintelligence threat and should have shut the case down. But the perception that Obama and his team would not be happy with that outcome may have driven the FBI to keep the probe open without justification and to pivot to an interview that left some agents worried involved entrapment or a perjury trap.” The investigator said more interviews will need to be done to determine exactly what role Obama’s perception of Flynn played in the FBI’s decision making. Recently declassified evidence show a total of 39 outgoing Obama administration officials sought to unmask Flynn’s name in intelligence interviews between Election Day 2016 and Inauguration Day 2017, signaling a keen interest in Flynn’s overseas calls.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1265258033392820228

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And a bit of Dominic Cummings at the end.

If Boris loses the Daily Mail in this fashion, what can he do?

 

 

 

 

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