Mar 302021
 


Edouard Manet Jeanne Duval, Baudelaire’s Mistress, Reclining (Lady with a Fan) 1862

 

Ron DeSantis Vows To Ban Vaccine Passports (Fed.)
UK Now Considering Digital Face-Scanning To Enter Pubs (SN)
CDC Director Chokes Back Tears As She Fearmongers “Impending Doom” (ZH)
Texas COVID Cases Drop to Record Low 3 Weeks After Mask Mandate Lifted (NW)
Dr. Fauci Warns Parents About Children Playing Together Without Masks (NYP)
Canada Suspends Use Of AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine For Those Under 55 (AP)
New Covid Vaccines Needed Globally Within A Year, Say Scientists (G.)
Ivermectin Prophylaxis Leads To 73% Reduction In Covid Infection (NIE)
Global Treaty Needed To Protect States From Pandemics, Say World Leaders (G.)
Dear Joe Scarborough, Let’s Debate Your Network’s Russiagate Coverage (Taibbi)
Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Play Victim When Called Out (Greenwald)
Do You Believe in Magic? (Kunstler)
The Eurozone Weakness: Much More Than Covid (Lacalle)
Financial Capitalism: The Endgame (Ren.)

 

 

 

 

There is a move in Washington towards saying it’s the private sector that wants vaccine passports. “It’s just the markets at work”.

That way the government won’t be blamed, or so they hope. Coming soon to a country near you.

This promises to turn into an epic fight for rights and freedoms.

Ron DeSantis Vows To Ban Vaccine Passports (Fed.)

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis denounced so-called “vaccine passports” in a Monday press conference — a policy currently being tested in New York State and one the Biden administration is reportedly developing, according to The Washington Post. Vaccine passports are digital credentials, a way of proving the carrier has received a COVID-19 immunization before frequenting a venue or traveling. DeSantis said he would take “an executive function” and “emergency function” and urged the state Republican legislature to propose legislation banning vaccine passports. “We always said we wanted to provide [the vaccine] for all but mandate it for none,” DeSantis said.

“While it was advised to take, particularly if you’re vulnerable, we were not going to force you to do it. It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply participate in normal society.” The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Biden administration is working with Big Tech to develop vaccine passport technology. Five administration officials told the media outlet that coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients is leading the operation. In January, 30 international airlines penned a letter to Zients urging the U.S. to implement vaccine passports for all citizens for travel. This followed an executive order by Biden instructing government agencies “to assess the feasibility” of COVID-19 documentation requirements.

[..] The Florida governor said in the press conference that by sometime this week the state will have administered the vaccine to 75 percent of seniors, or 3.5 million individuals. “You want the fox to guard the henhouse? I mean, give me a break,” DeSantis said. “I think this is something that has huge privacy implications. It is not necessary to do. It’s important to be able to do it [get the vaccine], but at the same time, we are not going to have you provide proof of this just to be able to live your life normally.”

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No other country has as many surveillance camera’s as Britain. Let’s add some more.

UK Now Considering Digital Face-Scanning To Enter Pubs (SN)

The UK government is funding companies that are producing technology which will utilize digital face scans to check people’s vaccination status and allow or block them from entering pubs, stadiums and other venues. “Britons could have their faces scanned to allow them to access pubs, gigs and sports events under one government-funded plan being drawn up for vaccine passports,” reports the London Times. Two companies – Mvine and iProov – are working together on the system after being given a £75,000 grant by the government having already worked with the NHS on facial recognition technology in the form of the contact tracing app.

The technology is being proposed as a solution to concerns that presenting vaccination status via an app on a phone will be too slow when multiple people are entering a busy venue. “Whoever is standing on the door of the pub is going to have to scan the certificate, read the name and date of birth, then ask the person for an ID document, check that the name and date of birth on the ID document are the same, squint at the photograph on the ID document and then make sure that the person in front of them is that person,” iProov CEO Andrew Bud said. “To which the answer is, that’s not going to happen.” Bud said that the facial recognition system would reduce this process to a matter of seconds, streamlining the system.

“It speeds the process up and it absolves people of what would otherwise be a very heavy responsibility,” he added. After months of promising that there would be no domestic vaccine passport, every indication is now that the government is going ahead with it. Millions of Brits will refuse to submit to digital face scans to go about their everyday business, but the vast majority are likely to accept it without question, creating a two tier society where those who resist the biosecurity surveillance state will remain in a de facto permanent state of lockdown.

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Some states are not doing well, but overall, does that graph justify panic?

CDC Director Chokes Back Tears As She Fearmongers “Impending Doom” (ZH)

In a stunningly emotional outburst during this morning’s COVID-19 Response press conference, new CDC Director Rochelle Walensky went “off-script” (though if one watches here eyes it appears she is very much reading a script) to warn the public about her “impending doom” following a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations. The seven-day average of hospital admissions with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 increased in 25 states plus the nation’s capital and Puerto Rico last week, compared with same period a week earlier, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data through Saturday.


The most dramatic surge has come in Michigan, with admissions up 50%, to an average of 379 a day. The next-worst momentum was in South Dakota, where daily admissions rose by 40% to an average of 28. “I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Walensky said, appearing to hold back tears. “We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge.” “Right now, I’m scared,” Walesky exclaimed. Here is what Walensky is freaking out about… (could that simply be a rise in testing around Spring Break as responsible Americans check their health before traveling? Or is it remnants of the vaccines being picked up by the RT-PCR tests being run at 35 Ct?)


Source: Bloomberg

Of course, Fauci knows why: “I think the reason we’re seeing this plateauing and the increase that I hope doesn’t turn into a surge is because we are really doing things prematurely right now with regard to opening up.” Walensky implored Americans to mask up, socially distance, etc., etc. as she is worried about a new wave “if rules are lifted” too soon… “I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer,”

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Others states do very well. Wonder why.

Texas COVID Cases Drop to Record Low 3 Weeks After Mask Mandate Lifted (NW)

Coronavirus cases have dropped to a record low in Texas roughly three weeks after the state lifted its mask mandate and reopened businesses. “Today the 7-day Covid positivity rate dropped to a new recorded low: 4.95%. Hospitalizations dropped to a 6 month low. This week we have 1 million 1st vaccines available,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote in a tweet on Sunday. “Everyone now qualifies for a shot. They are highly recommended to prevent getting Covid but always voluntary.” The 4.95 percent test positivity rate is the lowest the state has seen since the start of the pandemic. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, at least 1,900 new virus cases were reported on Sunday, which is the lowest daily number the state has seen since early June.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the seven-day moving average number of cases in Texas dropped to the lowest level since mid-June. According to the CDC, Texas was averaging 3,783 daily cases as of March 27. Abbott’s tweet also notes that hospitalizations dropped to their lowest number in the past six months. According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), 3,104 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals across the state as of Saturday. Data shows that the state has not recorded a number this low since September 19, when there were 3,081 hospitalizations. As of Monday, Texas has reported more than 2.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 47,156 deaths.

Biden Mask Up

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Fauci on masks. Oh well.

Dr. Fauci Warns Parents About Children Playing Together Without Masks (NYP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday warned that vaccinated parents still need to worry about their children becoming infected while playing with other kids. “The children can clearly wind up getting infected,” Fauci told CBS anchor Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” when asked about the risk of kids playing in groups. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that while adults inoculated against COVID-19 don’t always have to wear masks around each other, children — who are not yet eligible for the jab — should wear them around each other.


“When the children go out into the community, you want them to continue to wear masks when they’re interacting with groups or multiple households,” he said. But when asked whether kids can return to camp or playgrounds this summer, Fauci said it was “conceivable that will be possible.” “We now have 3 to 3.5 million vaccinations each day. If we keep up with that pace, invariably, that’s going to drive the rate and the level of infections per day to a much, much lower level,” Fauci said, adding that lower infection rates will enable the country to have a “good degree of flexibility during the summer … with things like camps.”

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“..the fatality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40%..”

Canada Suspends Use Of AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine For Those Under 55 (AP)

Canada on Monday suspended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people under 55 following concerns it might be linked to rare blood clots. The pause was recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization for safety reasons. The Canadian provinces, which administer health in the country, announced the suspension on Monday. “There is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to adults under 55 given the potential risks,” said Dr Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. Deeks said the updated recommendations came amid new data from Europe that suggests the risk of blood clots is now potentially as high as one in 100,000, much higher than the one in one million risk believed before.


She said most of the patients in Europe who developed a rare blood clot after vaccination with AstraZeneca were women under age 55, and the fatality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40%. Dr Joss Reimer of Manitoba’s vaccine implementation taskforce said despite the finding that there was no increase risk of blood clots overall related to AstraZeneca in Europe, a rare but very serious side-effect has been seen primarily in young women in Europe. Reimer said the rare type of blood clot typically happens between four and 20 days after getting the shot and the symptoms can mirror a stroke or a heart attack. “While we still believe the benefits for all ages outweigh the risks I’m not comfortable with ‘probably’. I want to see more data coming out of Europe so I know exactly what this risk-benefit analysis is,” Reimer said.

Read more …

How about ivermectin?

New Covid Vaccines Needed Globally Within A Year, Say Scientists (G.)

The planet could have a year or less before first-generation Covid-19 vaccines are ineffective and modified formulations are needed, according to a survey of epidemiologists, virologists and infectious disease specialists. Scientists have long stressed that a global vaccination effort is needed to satisfactorily neutralise the threat of Covid-19. This is due to the threat of variations of the virus – some more transmissible, deadly and less susceptible to vaccines – that are emerging and percolating. The grim forecast of a year or less comes from two-thirds of respondents, according to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of organisations including Amnesty International, Oxfam, and UNAIDS, who carried out the survey of 77 scientists from 28 countries. Nearly one-third of the respondents indicated that the time-frame was likely nine months or less.

Persistent low vaccine coverage in many countries would make it more likely for vaccine-resistant mutations to appear, said 88% of the respondents, who work across illustrious institutions such as Johns Hopkins, Yale, Imperial College, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Edinburgh. “New mutations arise every day. Sometimes they find a niche that makes them more fit than their predecessors. These lucky variants could transmit more efficiently and potentially evade immune responses to previous strains,” said Gregg Gonsalves, associate professor of epidemiology at Yale University, in a statement. “Unless we vaccinate the world, we leave the playing field open to more and more mutations, which could churn out variants that could evade our current vaccines and require booster shots to deal with them.”

The current crop of vaccines that have received emergency authorisations in different parts of the world is a mix of old and fresh technologies. Of particular interest is the mRNA approach, employed by the companies Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which can be tweaked at speed (within weeks or months) to accommodate new variants – however, manufacturing hiccups are always a potential problem. But crucially, they are unlikely within reach of poorer countries, given that this set of vaccines are far more expensive and have comparatively onerous temperature storage requirements.

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I read the WHO is due to announce its guidance on the use of Ivermectin for Covid. This from India dates from November 2020.

Ivermectin Prophylaxis Leads To 73% Reduction In Covid Infection (NIE)

In a significant finding, two-dose Ivermectin prophylaxis has led to 73 per cent reduction in COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers (HCWs), who are more likely to contract the virus given their nature of job. The findings of the study conducted by AIIMS-Bhubaneswar between September 20 and October 19 is set to give a new dimension to the ongoing research on the behaviour of SARS-CoV2 and prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Ivermectin is one among several potential drugs explored for its therapeutic and preventive role in COVID-19 infection. The study conducted by 12 physicians of AIIMS-BBSR aimed at exploring the association between Ivermectin prophylaxis and development of COVID-19 infection.

The study was conducted on two sets of HCWs. While one set was administered with two doses of Ivermectin in a gap of 72 hours, the other took other prophylaxis. Corresponding author of the study and AIIMS Director Gitanjali Batmanabane said two-dose Ivermectin prophylaxis at a dose of 300 micro gram per one kg body weight with a gap of 72 hours was associated with 73 pc reduction of COVID-19 infection among the HCWs. AIIMS-BBSR has around 4,600 employees of which, over 625 have so far tested positive for novel coronavirus. As many as 372 including doctors, nurses, paramedics and sanitisation workers were considered for the month-long study. The list was prepared by the contact tracing team of the institute as per their exposure to COVID-19, based on WHO risk assessment guidelines.

“Earlier, at least 20 to 25 HCWs were getting infected with the virus daily. After the workers started taking Ivermectin, the number of infection has come down to one or two per day,” Dr Batmanabane said. As per ICMR guidelines, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), vitamin C and other interventions were used by HCWs of AIIMS from April 11 in addition to the appropriate use PPE depending on the place they were posted. However, the uptake was not encouraging on account of known side-effect as large numbers of HCWs were getting infected. “Considering the fact that Ivermectin had been shown to have diverse mechanisms by which it successfully attacks the SARS-CoV-2, we decided to use it. The Ivermectin has a proven safety profile as a safe drug which has been used for many decades. The encouraging results of a study from Egypt prompted us to explore its role as prophylaxis for HCWs,” she said.

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All these “leaders” have failed for an entire year, despite often draconian measures, to stop the pandemic. Now they want more power.

Global Treaty Needed To Protect States From Pandemics, Say World Leaders (G.)

The world needs a global treaty for pandemics to protect states in the wake of Covid-19, akin to the settlement forged after the second world war, Boris Johnson and other world leaders have urged. In a joint article published in newspapers across the world, leaders including the UK prime minister, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, warn that a future global pandemic is an inevitability and that Covid has served as “a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe”. Escalating international tensions over vaccine supplies have led to calls for countries to abandon isolationism and nationalism, and come together to make way for a new era founded on principles like solidarity and cooperation.

The call comes from 24 world leaders, alongside the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and will appear in newspapers including the Telegraph in the UK, Le Monde in France and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany. The leaders describe the pandemic as “the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s” and said that a settlement like the one formed after 1945 is needed to build cross-border cooperation before the next international health crisis. In the joint article, they say: “At that time, following the devastation of two world wars, political leaders came together to forge the multilateral system. The aims were clear: to bring countries together, to dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism, and to address the challenges that could only be achieved together in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, namely peace, prosperity, health and security.”

A treaty on pandemics “should lead to more mutual accountability and shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation within the international system and with its rules and norms”, the leaders go on.

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Death, taxes and RussiaRussia.

Dear Joe Scarborough, Let’s Debate Your Network’s Russiagate Coverage (Taibbi)

Joe begins his rant by insinuating that those who’ve spent time documenting errors on the Russiagate story are maybe on “Russia’s payroll,” which is nothing new for this network, of course, or frankly for the press in general during this time. Implying that anyone who didn’t buy into the moral panic on Russia was a traitor was a fairly constant theme in media and politics in the last four years, with NBC’s smear of Tulsi Gabbard as a “favorite” of “Russia’s propaganda machine” being one of the ethical low points of the era. Why should Joe Scarborough be above the same tactics? The exact quote: “I’m amused by so-called reporters who — I don’t know if they’re useful idiots for Russia, or if they’re on Russia’s payroll … but there are some gifted writers who spend all night and day, trying to dig through, looking for instances where the press screwed up on Russia stories.”


He went on to say that yes, there were instances of mistakes, and some bad mistakes, but “more often than not,” the press got it right. Perhaps this could be a new slogan for the network: “MSNBC. We get it right. More often than not.” The full quote: “If you look at the totality of it, the totality of everything — I mean, yeah, the media screwed up at some points, and sometimes they screwed up badly… But more often than not, they got it right.” Obviously, I won’t presume that he’s talking about me when he mentions “some gifted writers” who may or may not be foreign spies, criticizing networks like his. He could be referring to Aaron Mate, or Glenn Greenwald, perhaps even Erik Wemple of the Washington Post, whose critique of Scarborough’s colleague Rachel Maddow’s Russia coverage was scathing enough.

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Judge and jury.

Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Play Victim When Called Out (Greenwald)

The daily newspaper USA Today is the second-most circulated print newspaper in the United States — more than The New York Times and more than double The Washington Post. Only The Wall Street Journal has higher circulation numbers. On Sunday, the paper published and heavily promoted a repellent article complaining that “defendants accused in the Capitol riot Jan. 6 crowdfund their legal fees online, using popular payment processors and an expanding network of fundraising platforms, despite a crackdown by tech companies.” It provided a road map for snitching on how these private citizens — who are charged with serious felonies by the U.S. Justice Department but as of yet convicted of nothing — are engaged in “a game of cat-and-mouse as they spring from one fundraising tool to another” in order to avoid bans on their ability to raise desperately needed funds to pay their criminal lawyers to mount a vigorous defense.

In other words, the only purpose of the article — headlined: “Insurrection fundraiser: Capitol riot extremists, Trump supporters raise money for lawyer bills online” — was to pressure and shame tech companies to do more to block these criminal defendants from being able to raise funds for their legal fees, and to tattle to tech companies by showing them what techniques these indigent defendants are using to raise money online. The USA Today reporters went far beyond merely reporting how this fundraising was being conducted. They went so far as to tattle to PayPal and other funding sites on two of those defendants, Joe Biggs and Dominic Pezzola, and then boasted of their success in having their accounts terminated: ”

“As of Wednesday afternoon, the Biggs fundraiser was listed as having received $52,201. Pezzola had received $730. Biggs’ campaign disappeared from the site shortly after USA TODAY inquired about it…. Friday, a USA TODAY reporter donated to Pezzola’s fundraiser using Stripe. Stripe told USA TODAY it does not comment on individual users. A USA TODAY reporter was able to make a $1 donation to Pezzola’s fundraiser using Venmo, a payment app owned by PayPal. After being alerted by USA TODAY, Venmo removed the account. Soon a PayPal account took its place. PayPal caught that and removed it, too.”

Wow, what brave and intrepid journalistic work: speaking truth to power and standing up to major power centers by . . . working as little police officers for tech giants to prevent private citizens from being able to afford criminal lawyers. Clear the shelves for the imminent Pulitzer.

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“..whatever energy you actually can marshal to Build Back Better, save it for your town or your local community. ..”

Do You Believe in Magic? (Kunstler)

UBI is the primary feature of that because, in a command economy, production is mostly pretend, so you just have to give people money (for nothing). Remember the old basic operating system of the Soviet Union, stated succinctly as: We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us. Got that? The idea behind “Build Back Better” is to renovate the infrastructure of a hyper-tech economy that actually no longer exists because we are in the contraction phase of an historic pulsation or cycle, leaving us with lots of tech and less production, tending toward zero. Nobody flogging this slogan actually knows what it ought to mean under the circumstances, which is to go with the flow of the reality of this contraction: to downsize, downscale, and re-localize all our activities to bring them back into sync with actual productivity — that is, raising food, making real stuff, and trading it.

Again, it’s the energy dynamic, stupid. To get to that point, we’re going to shed the massive over-burden of financial game-playing that has pretended to represent our economy. That means stock valuations and bond prices will vaporize along with the derivative activities concocted for trading gainfully in these now-phantom representations of capital. If that happens sooner rather than later, we won’t even be able to pretend to Build Back Better the interstate highways, the electric grid, airports, and all the other stuff in the “infrastructure” folder. Indeed, a lot of that would be malinvestment folly now because we’re nearing the end of mass motoring and commercial aviation as we’ve known them.

If we even have electricity twenty-five years from now, it will come from much-reduced grids on a much more regional basis. The bottom line for all this is that pretty soon every corner of the country will be on its own amid quite a bit of social disorder and financial wreckage. So, whatever energy you actually can marshal to Build Back Better, save it for your town or your local community. And remember, all of the attempts by a national government to control these events, and coerce its citizens in the service of that, will only lead to a more ineffectual and impotent national government that nobody has faith in, confirming the fact that you are on your own.

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“..the European Central Bank increasing its balance sheet to 63% of the eurozone GDP vs the Fed at 36%..”

The Eurozone Weakness: Much More Than Covid (Lacalle)

The eurozone’s economic problem do not come from just a slow vaccination, but overly aggressive lockdowns. Between October and November, Europe’s leading economies decided to shut down the economy aggressively to prevent an increase in cases. Despite France’s extremely severe lockdown, one of the most aggressive in the world, daily new confirmed cases per 100 people went from 250 cases at the beginning of October to 522 as of March 26th. Daily new cases rose rapidly and fell in the month of November but have risen steadily since January. In Italy, new cases went from 70 in October to 369 by March 26th. In Germany, from 117 to 179 in the same period. In all of them, daily new cases have steadily risen since bottoming in January even with severe lockdowns.

Shutting down the economy for prolonged periods of time generates long-term side effects in jobs and growth that will likely hurt the recovery and create important social challenges. We cannot forget that the eurozone still had an unemployment rate of 8.3% and more than seven million furloughed jobs at the end of February. Massive stimulus plans have been implemented, with the European Central Bank increasing its balance sheet to 63% of the eurozone GDP vs the Fed at 36%, and money supply growing at a 12% annualized rate in the euro area. Fiscal stimulus is also enormous, with fiscal impulse and liquidity measures ranging between 10% (Spain) to 50% of GDP (Germany) in the main economies.


It is important to note that it is not just how much is spent, but where and when. A significant part of the fiscal stimulus in Spain, France, Italy, and Germany has been targeted at maintaining current government spending, and the measures to support businesses have only been decisive in Germany and France. However, large, and decisive measures to support businesses may fail as prolonged lockdowns lead to an insolvency crisis and inevitably a relevant part of those support mechanisms will zombify the economy, especially as this was an important risk that already existed in the eurozone before Covid-19, according to the Bank of International Settlements.

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“..lots of people earned a lot of money and a lot of people can’t afford living anymore.”

“We’re at the end game because it’s the final bubble. We’ve got the government bond bubble and there won’t be another bubble afterwards.”

Financial Capitalism: The Endgame (Ren.)

In 2008, we had the opportunity, collectively, to reboot a broken financial system so it became fit for purpose. But instead of reconfiguring finance to serve the real economy politicians and central bankers used quantitative easing to buy time which lulled the mainstream media into reporting that everything was back on track. Some people haven’t bought that story. Marc Friederich and Matthias Weik are two economists who didn’t succumb to groupthink after the 2008 crash and now see financial capitalism’s end game. Friedrich explained to Renegade Inc. that the authors’ intention is to help translate the complexity of a financial system by inverting it into a language that everybody understands. Having studied economics, and as children of the dot com bubble, the authors of four best-selling books in Germany, stress the important role sarcasm and dark humour play in their work in respect to making seemingly complex matters accessible to the wider public.

According to Weik, the aim behind mainstream economists’ use of convoluted language is to create a camouflage in order to prevent them from having to explain what their terminology means. “It’s like the language of law spoken in secret phrases whose purpose is to garner public trust”, said Friedrich. But what mainstream economists and politicians haven’t explained is the structural nature of a crisis that hasn’t been remedied since the 2008 crash. Instead, the metaphorical can has been kicked down the road. “We’re at the end game because it’s the final bubble. We’ve got the government bond bubble and there won’t be another bubble afterwards. It will burst because last time China and all the states rescued the world. They won’t save us anymore. We used cheap money like a drug. We just put more and more drugs into the system”, said Weik.

“Economists and politicians have learnt nothing in the last decade, rather they have merely bought time. The banks who created the last financial crisis continue to be the big winners”, says Friedrich. The losers are the working class and underclass who were encouraged to borrow recklessly. And yet it is these latter groups who the American and British press blame for the crisis. According to Friedrich, the catalyst for the crisis was low-interest rates and too much cheap money. “They tried to solve it with even lower interest rates and much more money. The debts have doubled since 2008”, said the economist. In Friedrich’s view, the Fed, ECB and other central banks will try to print more money “like they always do.” “We will definitely see negative interest rates….Since 2008 debts worldwide doubled for private people and for companies even three times more debts than 2008. So this is the final bubble. And the central banks create one bubble after the next one to keep the whole thing running. That’s it.”

“And we all know the patient is dead but nobody is ready to unplug the life support. The aim is to keep the system alive for as long as possible.” Weik added: “Over the past two years real estate prices exploded, the share prices exploded, lots of people earned a lot of money and a lot of people can’t afford living anymore.”

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 112021
 
 February 11, 2021  Posted by at 10:02 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  41 Responses »


Ansel Adams Evening at McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park 1942

 

AstraZeneca Says Vaccine Against New Covid Variant May Take 6-9 Months (G.)
CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Don’t Need To Quarantine If Exposed To Covid (NBC)
Deaths of Elderly Who Recovered From COVID, but Died After Vaccine (Attkisson)
Dershowitz Destroys Democrats’ Impeachment In Under 2 Minutes (WND)
Dershowitz: Trump Defense Must Avoid ‘Trap’ Of Debating Election Fraud (JTN)
‘Feel Our Pain,’ Politicians Demand (Tracey)
The Disarticulation of Pandemic War Propaganda (MPN)
New US Military Base in Northeast Syria Latest of Biden’s Warlike Moves (MPN)
Facebook New Algorithm Will ‘Reduce Political Content’ On News Feeds (JTN)
Former Republican Officials In Talks To Form Anti-Trump Third Party (R.)
Will Corporation-Owned Smart Cities Come To Nevada? (AN)
Yellen Eyes Innovation To Battle Misuse Of Cryptocurrencies (R.)
Assange Prosecution Will Continue Under Biden (Gosztola)
In Mail-In Impeachment Vote, Senate Convicts Trump 8275 To 3 (BBee)

 

 

 

 

COVID numbers in the UK and US crashed at the exact same moment. How is that possible?

 

 

“About Thatcher’s death: Let’s privatise her funeral. Put it out on competitive tender and accept the cheapest bid. That’s what she would have wanted.”
– Ken Loach

 

 

What are your plans until 2022? Forget them.

AstraZeneca Says Vaccine Against New Covid Variant May Take 6-9 Months (G.)

AstraZeneca has said that it could take between six and nine months to produce Covid-19 vaccines that are effective against new variants of the coronavirus. The company’s vaccine, developed jointly with scientists at the University of Oxford, remains effective on at least one variant of the virus first discovered in Kent, England, but preliminary findings in a small-scale trial prompted South Africa to limit its use while it ascertains its efficacy. However, a six-month turnaround for an updated vaccine would represent a vast improvement over traditional vaccine development timelines. The vaccine is particularly important for poorer countries, because the company – unlike some of its rivals such as Pfizer – has pledged to sell it at cost price.


The vaccine also does not require very low temperatures during transport, making it cheaper to deliver. Announcing its financial results for 2020 on Thursday, AstraZeneca said: “In collaboration with the University of Oxford, AstraZeneca is focused on adapting C19VAZ to new disease strains if required and hopes to reduce the time needed to reach production at scale to between six to nine months, by utilising existing clinical data and optimising its established supply chain.” AstraZeneca will not incorporate revenues from the vaccine into its financial results, but it said that 2020 performance in its main profit-making business remained strong.

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Pfizer says they don’t know if their vaccine protects you from infections, or those around you. But the CDC now knows better? Or is this true only when wearing 3 masks?

CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Don’t Need To Quarantine If Exposed To Covid (NBC)

People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday in updated guidance on its website. Quarantine is typically recommended for healthy people who have been exposed to the virus. During quarantine, people are asked to isolate from others for one to two weeks to see whether they develop symptoms of Covid-19. By not exposing others, quarantining can help stop the spread of the disease. In the updated guidance, the CDC said such quarantining is not necessary for fully vaccinated people within three months of having received their last doses as long as they do not develop any symptoms.

“Fully vaccinated” means that at least two weeks have passed since a person has received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine. Other recommendations remain in place for fully vaccinated people. They include wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. The guidance says the risk that fully vaccinated people could spread the coronavirus, to others is “still uncertain.” However, “vaccination has been demonstrated to prevent symptomatic Covid-19; symptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission is thought to have a greater role in transmission than purely asymptomatic transmission,” according to the CDC.

The CDC already recommends that people who have had Covid-19 and recovered do not need to quarantine for 90 days after the illness, if newly exposed to someone who is infected; the new guidance for vaccinated people aligns with the earlier recommendations. The guidance “makes sense,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, although he said he was curious about what evidence the CDC was using. Early data from AstraZeneca and Moderna’s Phase 3 clinical trials have suggested that vaccines may slow transmission of the virus, although more work is needed to confirm the findings.

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2 days after 14 infections among fully vaccinated in pensioners’ home in Germany.

Deaths of Elderly Who Recovered From COVID, but Died After Vaccine (Attkisson)

Two small clusters of deaths after COVID-19 vaccination have been reported among nursing homes in Kentucky and Arkansas. In Kentucky, four seniors died the same day of their vaccination on Dec. 30, 2020. Three of the four who passed away reportedly already had had coronavirus prior to getting vaccinated. In Arkansas, four seniors died at a long term care facility about a week after their vaccination. All tested positive for COVID-19 after vaccination. The deaths are reported in a federal database called VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. Deaths after vaccination don’t necessarily mean the vaccine is to blame. Of those receiving coronavirus vaccines, many are elderly and frail, or already suffering from serious illnesses. That makes it difficult to know whether there’s a connection.

According to VAERS reports, the Kentucky deaths occurred on Dec. 30 after vaccinations with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. An ill 88-year-old woman who was “14 + days post covid” was given the Pfizer-BioNTech shot while she was “unresponsive in [her] room.” She died within an hour and a half (914961-1). An 88-year-old who was “15 days post covid” got the shot, was monitored for 15 minutes afterward, and passed away within 90 minutes (914994-1). A third report says an 88-year-old woman who was “14 + days post covid” vomited four minutes after receiving her shot, became short of breath, and passed away that night (915562-1). And an 85-year-old woman vaccinated at 5 p.m. was “found unresponsive” less than two hours later and died shortly after (915682-1). In response to questions about the Kentucky cluster, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said its experts noted “no pattern … among the [Kentucky] cases that would indicate a concern for the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Scientists differ on whether people who have had coronavirus, like the Kentucky patients, should receive the COVID-19 vaccination at all. The CDC insists it’s safe for people who have recovered from COVID-19 to get vaccinated and that there’s no minimum interval recommended between infection and vaccination. “Vaccination should be offered to persons regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19] infection,” it states. But other scientists say vaccinating people who are already considered immune after a natural COVID-19 infection wastes valuable doses of vaccines when there are shortages. And neither Pfizer’s nor Moderna’s studies showed any benefit to vaccinating previously infected patients.

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“No. 1 they have no jurisdiction. No.2 it’s a bill of attainder, No. 3 they’re impeaching him for constitutionally protected speech..”

Dershowitz Destroys Democrats’ Impeachment In Under 2 Minutes (WND)

Famed Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz was on President Trump’ defense team during the first impeachment trial one year ago. And while he’s not a member of the team this time, he’s offering a quick, two-minute argument he says should close the case. “You don’t have to listen to me. Listen to James Madison, who’s the father of the Constitution,” Dershowitz said on “The Charlie Kirk Show” podcast. “He said that impeachment is only for somebody who’s still sitting in office. He said it quite clearly in the Federalist Papers,” Dershowitz said of Madison. “There’s no way around that.” The Harvard professor insisted the text of the Constitution is clear as well.

“It says impeachment is for purposes of removing a president. Once a president is removed you can also vote to disqualify him but disqualification doesn’t stand alone as a remedy,” he said. “If it did, then the Congress would have a roving commission to go through the entire United States and decide who to impeach and who not to impeach, and who to prevent from running for office,” said Dershowitz. “Say the Republicans come up with a young vibrant candidate to run against Biden four years from now. All the Democrats would have to do is impeach him, even though he’s never held office, and just disqualify him from running for office. Or find someone … who had a smaller officer earlier, and they can impeach him,” Dershowitz said.

“That’s not what the Framers had in mind. What the Framers had in mind is not allowing the Senate to put people on trial. That’s called a bill of attainder and a bill of attainder is specifically prohibited by the Constitution.” Dershowitz said there are “so many things wrong with this impeachment.” “No. 1 they have no jurisdiction. No.2 it’s a bill of attainder, No. 3 they’re impeaching him for constitutionally protected speech,” he said. Dershowitz said the impeachment itself “is doing a tremendous amount of damage to our Constitution.”

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“This is not the forum in which any evidence of election fraud is going to be seriously considered,” Kline said. “They have no interest in it…”

Dershowitz: Trump Defense Must Avoid ‘Trap’ Of Debating Election Fraud (JTN)

Key legal allies of former President Trump say his defense team must avoid the “trap” of debating election fraud during his Senate impeachment trial. House impeachment managers Tuesday cited Trump statements challenging the integrity of the 2020 election in arguing that the former president engaged in a “months-long effort to incite” an “insurrection” which culminated on Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob forced its way past police lines into the U.S. Capitol. House Democrats’ move to frame Trump’s electoral fraud claims as incitement in their impeachment narrative created an opening for Trump’s defense to, in effect, put the 2020 election itself on trial before a nationwide viewing audience, as many of his supporters have urged.

Some Trump allies say his electoral fraud case has never received a full public airing due to legal challenges being tossed out on grounds of standing, timeliness and other technical issues rather than on merit. But former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who helped lead the successful defense that gained Trump’s acquittal in the 2020 impeachment trial, said this move would be “a terrible mistake” for Trump. “It’s a trap that the Democrats are trying to set for the Trump lawyers,” Dershowitz told Just the News in an interview Wednesday. “It’s a trap to have them talk about electoral fraud, because if they do, they’ll lose [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell and other senators.” The “absolute trap,” Dershowitz said, “was being set by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who is leading the Democrats’ impeachment case. Raskin studied law under Dershowitz, who called his former student “a smart guy.”

[..] Attorney Phill Kline, a Trump supporter and director of the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society, has litigated many cases involving claims of electoral fraud during the 2020 election. He told Just the News that while he thinks a national conversation about electoral fraud should continue, he doesn’t believe that the impeachment forum is ideal. “This is not the forum in which any evidence of election fraud is going to be seriously considered,” Kline said. “They have no interest in it. They refuse to acknowledge clear facts. And so it’s the wrong audience and the wrong time.” Kline said the Trump defense team should focus on the former president’s First Amendment right to speak openly and raise questions about election fraud. “They have been trying to criminalize thought for some time now,” Kline said. “This is just the fruit of their belief that if you do not think as they do, you’re a threat to the nation.”

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It’s become quite theatrical.

‘Feel Our Pain,’ Politicians Demand (Tracey)

Congress is increasingly not a place where the average member partakes in what’s generally understood as legislative activity, but rather engages in a variety of elaborate self-promotional exercises. The diminishment in the power of average House Members (as opposed to Party leaders who run their respective caucuses like fiefdoms) has been amply documented. One consequence of this trend is that “comms” has become far more of an all-consuming focus for a certain type of Member, particularly those who are most adept at social media. One “comms” strategy that appears highly effective at the moment in generating outsized public attention is extreme, heavily-personalized emotional exuberance.

With the “trauma” of the MAGA goofball mob intrusion still apparently dominating their psyches, members of Congress have taken it as a solemn duty to claim “space” for the “sharing” of their “lived experience” relating to this event. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a true pioneer in importing the rhetoric of therapeutic trauma jargon, already the lingua franca of an ascendant activism-minded cultural and media cohort, into the mainstream of the Democratic Party. At her direction, it will only become more ubiquitous. And given that such rhetoric deliberately inverts the normal epistemology of contested political claims — it’s deemed incumbent on the listener not to critically evaluate the veracity of such claims, but instead uncritically believe them — the new mode of public argument she’s popularizing is likely to prove highly effective, as it inherently forecloses the prospect of any argument at all.

Per this framework, arguments are replaced with subjective assertions that must be presumptively accepted, lest one be guilty of “minimizing” or “belittling” the elected official’s experiences and thus compounding their trauma. Jamie Raskin, the Democrats’ lead impeachment manager, took a page from this playbook during the opening presentation of Donald Trump’s trial Monday, breaking down in tears at one point as he wove a narrative about the terror of January 6 with his own personal turmoil. Raskin’s son died on December 31, and the pain he felt from that experience was integrated seamlessly with the pain that he posited all members of Congress must have felt during the goofball riot.

Of course, everyone who’s not a psychopath would sympathize with Raskin for having lost a son to suicide. But to invoke this tragedy in the context of an impeachment trial has an obvious political intent. The intent was to heighten the emotional resonance of the prosecution’s case for convicting Trump, as according to Raskin, he feared that his daughter might also face untimely death because she happened to be in the Capitol with him on January 6. The more intense the “pain” that can be conveyed to the juror-senators, the more likely they are to vote to convict Trump — or so the calculation seemingly goes.

Fellow impeachment manager David Cicilline charged that every single member of Congress nearly avoided being slaughtered in a mass execution-style attack that day — “They could have killed all of us,” he said — although no real evidence has ever been presented to substantiate this dramatic theory, which seems only to be professed by partisan Democrats. A number of basic facts stemming from the Capitol intrusion which could provide clarity are still mysteriously absent from the public record, such as whether any of the rioters brandished or discharged firearms. You’d think this would be helpful information to know before proclaiming, as Cicilline did, that what occurred was an “armed insurrection.” It would be a very curious “armed insurrection” for no firearms to have been deployed over the course of the “insurrection.”

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“The study Fauci funded at the WIV in 2014 was done so in contravention to the [Obama] moratorium then in effect.”

The Disarticulation of Pandemic War Propaganda (MPN)

A now-deleted fact sheet published by the U.S. State Department on January 15, 2021, claimed that for over a year, “the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has systematically prevented a transparent and thorough investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin.” The official release of that fact sheet focuses on the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV); a controversial research lab in the Hubei province of China which has been the target of well-earned suspicions over its work on bat-borne zoonotic diseases like SARS-CoV-2, better known as the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Missing from the State Department’s missive is the intimate bond that this particular laboratory has to American scientific institutions and to a tight-knit group of individuals with direct links to the U.S. intelligence apparatus and the biodefense establishment. National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci’s funding of gain-of-function (GoF) research in 2014 at the Chinese lab is just one example. The highly polarizing GoF studies, which entail turbo-charging a pathogen’s virulence through the “generation of viruses with properties that do not exist in nature” present considerable biosafety hazards, which led the Obama administration to issue a federal moratorium on GoF research. The study Fauci funded at the WIV in 2014 was done so in contravention to the moratorium then in effect.

Deeper and more disturbing ties to outfits like USAID-funded Ecohealth Alliance have been covered by independent journalists like Same Husseini and others, revealing the WIV’s close relationship to people like David R. Franz – former commander of Fort Detrick, the pre-eminent biowarfare and biodefense facility in the U.S. and the source of the anthrax spores used in the infamous 2001 anthrax attacks. In July 2020, this author carried out an investigation into the nexus between the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), USAID and zoonotic disease research in Asia.

Recently, some of these facts have seeped into mainstream news outlets as the “lab-leak” hypothesis, which suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen escaped from a laboratory in China. Careful to avoid drawing attention to links between American scientific institutions and their Chinese counterparts, a narrative is gathering momentum as the idea of a ‘cover-up’ by Chinese authorities is promulgated on prime time television news magazine shows like “60 Minutes,” which ran an expose the promoted the idea that China is “weaponizing” the pandemic. The narrative is not new and has been lingering in the background since the pandemic was declared.

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“this new center [is being built] with the aim of observing Russian forces..”

New US Military Base in Northeast Syria Latest of Biden’s Warlike Moves (MPN)

The U.S.-government funded outlet Voice of America has confirmed rumors that a new military base is being built in northeastern Syria. A convoy of 40 troop carriers and other vehicles arrived and began setting up shop in the city of Hasakah near the Turkish and Iraqi borders over the weekend. “The U.S. flag is now raised over a building,” said journalist Jindar Berekat, a native of the city, “it is not clear how many American soldiers will be stationed at this location, but their armored military vehicles are here and it looks like they are still constructing parts of it.”

“Many here believe that the building of a U.S. base inside Hasakah could be a response to the growing Russian presence in the city,” a local reporter told Voice of America, “this new center [is being built] with the aim of observing Russian forces in Hasakah.” Russian military units have been present in Syria since 2015, intervening on behalf of the government of Bashar al-Assad. The two foreign superpowers have come close to armed confrontation in Syria many times, including in 2017, when President Trump ordered the bombing of a Russian airbase near the Lebanese border. Already, the American presence has prevented the Russian military from carrying out patrols in northeastern Syria.

While the United States has presented its role in Syria as a counter terrorism operation, Assad’s government has accused it of plundering its resources, “condemn[ing] in the strongest terms the agreement signed between al-Qasd militia (SDF) and an American oil company to steal Syria’s oil under the sponsorship and support of the American administration.” Around 500 American troops have been guarding the country’s oilfields for months, and last summer, Senator Lindsay Graham confirmed that the U.S. had indeed signed a deal with the SDF to “modernize” the country’s oil industry. Damascus considers the agreement “null and void.”

The new base at Hasakah is the latest in a string of actions that suggest the United States wishes to bolster or expand its presence in the war-torn country. Last month, American forces reinforced another base along the M4 highway, which runs from the city of Aleppo through the north of the country and towards the Iraqi border in the east. At the same time, its ally Israel was conducting a series of major airstrikes across the east of the country, reportedly targeting Iranian or pro-Iranian forces.

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Only the good stuff?!

Facebook New Algorithm Will ‘Reduce Political Content’ On News Feeds (JTN)

Facebook announced on Wednesday the social media platform will in the coming weeks start limiting the amount of political content viewers see on their news feeds. The company is aware that “people don’t want political content to take over their News Feed,” Product Management Director Aastha Gupta wrote in a blog post on the site. The change will begin with Facebook temporarily reduce the distribution of political content in News Feed for a small percentage of people in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia this week. Gupta said the process will begin in the U.S. in the coming weeks.


The initial rollout will allow the company to explore different methods of ranking political content prior to its deciding on a permanent solution. Facebook has in recent months and years attempted to reducing political content, include no new political ads in the final week of the 2020 presidential campaign. However, the company and other social media giants have meanwhile faced growing scrutiny of what third-party content they choose to censure or block. “Our goal is to preserve the ability for people to find and interact with political content on Facebook, while respecting each person’s appetite for it at the top of their News Feed,” Gupta said.

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They’ve lost their party. Might as well start another one.

Former Republican Officials In Talks To Form Anti-Trump Third Party (R.)

Dozens of former Republican officials, who view the party as unwilling to stand up to former President Donald Trump and his attempts to undermine U.S. democracy, are in talks to form a center-right breakaway party, four people involved in the discussions told Reuters. The early stage discussions include former elected Republicans, former officials in the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Trump, ex-Republican ambassadors and Republican strategists, the people involved say. More than 120 of them held a Zoom call last Friday to discuss the breakaway group, which would run on a platform of “principled conservatism,” including adherence to the Constitution and the rule of law – ideas those involved say have been trashed by Trump.

The plan would be to run candidates in some races but also to endorse center-right candidates in others, be they Republicans, independents or Democrats, the people say. Evan McMullin, who was chief policy director for the House Republican Conference and ran as an independent in the 2016 presidential election, told Reuters that he co-hosted the Zoom call with former officials concerned about Trump’s grip on Republicans and the nativist turn the party has taken. [..] Call participants said they were particularly dismayed by the fact that more than half of the Republicans in Congress – eight senators and 139 House representatives – voted to block certification of Biden’s election victory just hours after the Capitol siege.

Most Republican senators have also indicated they will not support the conviction of Trump in this week’s Senate impeachment trial. “Large portions of the Republican Party are radicalizing and threatening American democracy,” McMullin told Reuters. “The party needs to recommit to truth, reason and founding ideals or there clearly needs to be something new.”

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Why is the idea of surrendering control of parts of the US to Facebook, Google etc. not shot down on sight?

Will Corporation-Owned Smart Cities Come To Nevada? (AN)

With plans reportedly still moving forward for Blockchains, LLC, to break ground on a Tom Wiscombe Architecture and Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects (EYRC)-designed smart city in Nevada in 2022, Governor Steve Sisolak is looking to give it, and similar developments across the state, the power to form their own governments. According to documents acquired by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sisolak has floated a draft proposal to create “Innovation Zones” across the state in a bid to draw technology companies, and giving them the power to set up their own governments. In exchange for this autonomy, the Nevada state government would forgo the tax abatement or incentive packages typically used to encourage big businesses to relocate.

Sisolak first mentioned the idea during his January 19 State of the State address but later confirmed that a draft bill was in the works on February 4 via Twitter. According to the text reviewed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (subject to change before a final bill is submitted), such an “alternative form of local government” is needed to entice big tech companies, and that over time, the administration of those zones would gradually take over governmental duties from their respective counties. Each zone would be overseen by a three-person board of supervisors, with the company behind the development having the majority of the say in who gets appointed.

It should be noted that the governor’s proposal only extends to companies doing “innovative” work; relating to blockchains, healthcare, robotics, renewable energy research, biometrics, autonomous vehicles, and similar cutting-edge research. Any company applying to set up an Innovation Zone through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development would need to own and be intent on developing at least 50,000 acres not already part of a city or town, $250 million on hand, and a plan to invest at least $1 billion in the area over the next 10 years.


Tom Wiscombe Architecture and EYRC revealed their design for the Blockchains city in 2018, and now the project’s developer may get the power to form its own government there. (Courtesy EYRC Architects and Tom Wiscombe Architecture)

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No. What Yellen eyes is control.

Yellen Eyes Innovation To Battle Misuse Of Cryptocurrencies (R.)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday warned about an “explosion of risk” from digital markets, including the misuse of cryptocurrencies, but said new financial technologies could also help fight crime and reduce inequality. In remarks to a financial sector innovation roundtable, Yellen said such technologies could be used to stem the flow of dark money from organized crime and fight back against hackers, but also to reduce digital gaps in the United States. She said passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act in December would allow the Treasury Department to rework a framework for combating illicit finance that has been largely unchanged since the 1970s.


“The update couldn’t have come at a better time,” Yellen told policymakers, regulators and private sector experts. “We’re living amidst an explosion of risk related to fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing, and data privacy.” The COVID-19 pandemic had triggered more – and more sophisticated – cyberattacks aimed at hospitals, schools, banks, and the government itself, she said. Cryptocurrencies and virtual assets offered promise, but they had also been used to launder the profits of online drug traffickers and to finance terrorism. Innovation in the sector could help address these problems while giving millions of people access to the financial system, she said.

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“..the Biden Justice Department is effectively signaling his administration is not all that serious about press freedom..”

Assange Prosecution Will Continue Under Biden (Gosztola)

The Justice Department under President Joe Biden plans to continue the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that was launched under President Donald Trump. “We continue to seek his extradition,” Justice Department spokesperson Marc Raimondi told Reuters, days before February 12, the deadline for the United States government to submit its “grounds for appeal.” The statement represents a departure from President Barack Obama’s administration, which declined to prosecute Assange. Justice Department officials were reportedly concerned about the threat it would pose to press freedom.

On January 4, British district judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the U.S. government’s extradition request and concluded Assange’s mental condition was “such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America.” She accepted that Assange would likely be imprisoned at a supermax prison in the U.S. under special administrative measures (SAMs) and would find a way to commit suicide. “I am satisfied that, in these harsh conditions, Mr. Assange’s mental health would deteriorate causing him to commit suicide with the ‘single minded determination’ of his autism spectrum disorder.” However, the Biden Justice Department plans to contest the judge’s conclusion that Assange should not be extradited because he would likely commit suicide.

[..] During Biden’s first foreign policy speech on February 4, he proclaimed, “We believe a free press isn’t an adversary; rather, it’s essential. A free press is essential to the health of a democracy.” However, in Trump’s last year in office, he signed a counterintelligence strategy document that lumped in “leaktivists” and “public disclosure organizations,” like WikiLeaks, with Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and terrorist groups, which U.S. security agencies view as “significant threats.” That strategy document, which covers 2020-2022, sharply conflicts with Biden’s assertion that the U.S. government believes the free press is not an adversary. Indeed, it shows U.S. security agencies believe they should monitor, neutralize, and even target dissident media organizations that may employ practices pioneered by WikiLeaks.

While the tone of the new administration may sound more polite toward elite journalists, by refusing to abandon this dangerous political case, the Biden Justice Department is effectively signaling his administration is not all that serious about press freedom and what officials have to say are empty platitudes that should not pacify people aware of what is at stake if Assange is brought to the U.S. and put on trial.

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“The Senate then moved on to other business, passing universal healthcare by a margin of 320,000 to 4.”

In Mail-In Impeachment Vote, Senate Convicts Trump 8275 To 3 (BBee)

In a historic move, the U.S. Senate decided to switch to voting by mail for Trump’s second impeachment trial. After all the votes were counted by an intern in a back room with no cameras, the Senate ruled to convict President Trump of incitement to violence by a vote of 8275 to 3. “Our holy democracy has spoken,” said Senator Chuck Schumer. “Do not ask any questions or you are a blasphemer against the sacred sacredness of our vote. Everyone can go home now!” A couple of troublemaking Senators attempted to overthrow the Constitution by bringing up the point that there are only 100 Senators, making it impossible to arrive at a tally of 8275 to 3, but they were quickly removed from the Senate Chambers and condemned for “attempting to suppress the votes of people of color.” The Senate then moved on to other business, passing universal healthcare by a margin of 320,000 to 4.

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Feb 032021
 
 February 3, 2021  Posted by at 10:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  41 Responses »


Joseph Mallord William Turner Norham Castle, Sunrise 1845

 

Dems Threaten To Exclude Families Crushed By Pandemic (DP)
Senate Approves Budget Process For Passage of $1.9T COVID19 Stimulus (JTN)
Criticism Piles On Cuomo After Week Of Blunders (F.)
France Raises More Questions About AstraZeneca Jab (ZH)
P.2 Coronavirus Variant From Brazil Found In California (LAT)
WHO Team Visits Wuhan Virus Lab At Center Of Speculation (AP)
Will WallStreetBets Send The VIX Soaring Next? (ZH)
White House Reporters Say Biden Team Wanted Questions In Advance (JTN)
Florida Gov. DeSantis, Lawmakers Plan To Take Action On Big Tech (JTN)
Academic Media Censorship Conference Censored by YouTube (MPN)
NYPD Deploys Counter Terrorism Unit To Protect Wall Street (MPN)
Economics’ Failure Over Destruction Of Nature Presents ‘Extreme Risks’ (G.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, c’mon man, he lied about sending out the checks “immediatedly”. At least have the guts to call him on that. You may be on his side, but your credibility is at stake.

Dems Threaten To Exclude Families Crushed By Pandemic (DP)

The nation’s biggest business lobby is pushing Democrats to slash COVID relief checks for middle class families, despite new census data showing that nearly half of those families have lost income because of the pandemic. Top Democrats are now reportedly considering excluding millions of those families from the checks, and President Biden himself has said he is willing to negotiate with Republicans on limiting eligibility for the checks. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent $82 million lobbying in Washington last year, sent a letter to the White House and Congress on Tuesday urging them to consider “targeting any additional stimulus checks based on income, loss of employment, or similar criteria.”

The corporate lobbying group — whose members undoubtedly benefit from a desperate workforce — attempted to twist census data showing broad economic devastation to make the point that families earning more than $50,000 don’t need new survival checks. “While the pandemic induced recession has created near unprecedented levels of hardship, the impact has not been universal,” the Chamber wrote. “The Census Bureau Pulse survey indicates that while a majority of households with less than $50,000 in income have experienced a loss of employment income, a majority of household with more than $50,000 in income — including those between $50,000 and $150,000 — have not experienced any loss in earned income.”

This is a misleading way to frame the census survey results. Recent census data shows that 45 percent of households earning between $50,000 and $150,000 have experienced a loss of employment income since March 2020 — including 48 percent of households earning between $50,000 and $75,000. Nearly a quarter of households earning between $50,000 and $150,000 say they expect to lose employment income over the next four weeks. The Chamber is adding its voice to a chorus of pleas in the Beltway to limit who’s eligible for COVID relief checks. The campaign was first kicked off by discredited austerity economist Larry Summers and columnists at the Washington Post and Bloomberg News, which are owned by billionaires Jeff Bezos and Mike Bloomberg respectively.

President Biden’s COVID relief plan would send full $1,400 survival checks to individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has repeatedly demanded the relief checks be more “targeted.” Senate Republicans on Monday proposed that Congress limit full stimulus checks to individuals earning up to $40,000 and couples earning $80,000 — a move that would deny checks to an additional 80 million people, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

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“Immediately” now has a whole new meaning. See you in summer.

Senate Approves Budget Process For Passage of $1.9T COVID19 Stimulus (JTN)

The Democratic-led Senate voted on Tuesday in favor of starting the budget reconciliation process for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus proposal. The vote on the budget resolution was 50-49 with Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona voting with the Democrats in favor of the resolution. Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey was not present for the vote. The use of budget reconciliation would allow Democrats to pass their coronavirus relief plan without relying on any votes from Republicans.


Senate Republicans have criticized Senate Democrats for proceeding with reconciliation instead of seeking bipartisan input on additional COVID-19 stimulus funds. Large-scale coronavirus relief bills were passed last year with votes from Republicans and Democrats in the GOP-led Senate when former President Trump was in office. GOP senators like John Barrasso of Wyoming said on Tuesday the reconciliation move conflicts with Biden’s message of unity during his inaugural address. Senate Democrats are tying a $15 per hour federal minimum wage to the coronavirus stimulus bill.

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Hiw own brother’s network turns on him. That part is sort of interesting. Other than that, he’s as out of his depth as 95+% of politicians.

Criticism Piles On Cuomo After Week Of Blunders (F.)

Starting with last Thursday’s report from the New York Attorney General’s Office that accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration of underreporting nursing home deaths tied to Covid-19—potentially by as much as 50%—the Democratic governor has consistently found himself at the center of harsh bipartisan criticism over the past week regarding his pandemic leadership. The report renewed outrage over Cuomo’s early policy to send recovering Covid-19 patients back to nursing homes, which the attorney general’s office said may have led to excess deaths—a possibility Cuomo brushed off on Thursday by saying the patients would have died either way, there or in a hospital: “Who cares? 33 [percent]. 28 [percent]. Died in a hospital. Died in a nursing home … they died.”

The report, coupled with Cuomo’s reaction, drew sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle and both state and federal officials, with Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim (Queens) saying there are serious talks underway about stripping Cuomo’s emergency powers, which are in place until April and can be revoked by a joint resolution from the state’s Democrat-controlled Senate and Assembly. “We’ve seen this governor prioritize his ego over the best interests of New Yorkers time and time again,” Democratic state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (Bronx) said Monday. Another round of scrutiny came on Monday after The New York Times reported that at least nine of New York’s senior health officials left their positions in recent months amid a rift between the governor and experts, who he poked at during a Friday news conference, saying: “When I say ‘experts’ in air quotes, it sounds like I’m saying I don’t really trust experts … because I don’t.”

Cuomo was sharply criticized in light of the reporting and his press conference rhetoric, with CNN anchor Jake Tapper labeling Cuomo’s statement “wildly irresponsible” and the network’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta saying he was “really quite stunned,” adding, “If you start to take away the credence of these experts I think that’s really, really harmful, especially now.” When asked about the staff departures, a spokesperson for Cuomo directed Forbes to the governor’s response at a Tuesday press conference, in which he attributed turnover in the New York State Health Department to the “highly stressful, highly challenging, highly exhausting, highly fatiguing” nature of the pandemic.

The governor continued to stir controversy into Tuesday as he spontaneously announced the expansion of vaccine eligibility to NYC restaurant workers after calling demands for this group’s immediate inclusion “a cheap, insincere discussion” a day prior, and as a New York Times report highlighted his announcement about bringing back indoor dining last week had cited misleading data about test positivity rates in the city.

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This piece is actually more about AZ doing its own peer review..

France Raises More Questions About AstraZeneca Jab (ZH)

The latest update on the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID jab was released Tuesday afternoon in a report from the University which offered more insight on exactly when vaccine-induced immunity begins, and how effective the vaccine can be after its first dose and after its second. Unsurprisingly, the data offer a more optimistic read than the batch released by AZ and Oxford the first time around. But they also suggest that the vaccine is actually more effective overall if doctors wait roughly 3 months before inoculating patients with the second dose, which provides support for “current policy” in the UK. However, in the US, the FDA-recommended vaccination dosing schedule is 21 days, which has endured despite logistical problems and other issues that have caused delivery delays in NYC and elsewhere (so much for the consistency of the “science”).

And the new AstraZeneca vaccine might be able to fix all that. According to the research team, the first dose alone offers 76% protection from symptomatic COVID 22 days post-vaccination. But the jab successfully offers sustained protection through a 3-month period, even without receiving the second dose, a data point that has already been transformed into a marketing opportunity by AstraZeneca. Prof Andrew Pollard, Chief Investigator of Oxford Vaccine Trial and co-author of the paper, said in a statement: “These new data provide an important verification of the interim data that was used by more than 25 regulators including the MHRA and EMA to grant the vaccine emergency use authorization.”

“It also supports the policy recommendation made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination & Immunisation for a 12-week prime-boost interval, as they look for the optimal approach to roll out, & reassures us that people are protected from 22 days after a single dose of the vaccine.” The new data, which are culled from cases extended through Dec. 7, purportedly show the optimal window for the second booster dose could be up to 14 weeks. That means it’s less risky to give patients the AstraZeneca shot, because even if there are supply delays, patients won’t be badly harmed. After the second dose, immunity rises to 82.4%, according to data taken from cases throughout the 3-month interval window. The research team offered the data with a 95% confidence interval of 62.7% – 91.7% at 12+ weeks

In another “unprecedented” update, the data suggest the vaccine helps prevent transmission of the virus, with 67% reduction in positive swabs among those vaccinated” “However, overall cases of any PCR+ were reduced by 67% (95%CI 49%, 78%) after a single SD vaccine suggesting the potential for a substantial reduction in transmission,” the authors of the paper wrote. Officials likely hoped the report would help cement public support for the AstraZeneca vaccine, (at least in Europe, its primary market, where it has inked deals for billions of doses). The AZ vaccine is, notably, also less effective than Russia’s “Sputnik V” vaccine, according to data published by the Lancet a few days back.

Unfortunately, its release was timed with more “problematic” comments from French President Emmanuel Macron and the French authorities. Specifically, French health authorities have approved the vaccine, but they have also warned that the AZ-Oxford vaccine should only be given to people aged under 65, after the initial preliminary reports on AZ released late last year suggested some adverse health reactions in older patients.

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Close your borders?!

P.2 Coronavirus Variant From Brazil Found In California (LAT)

A coronavirus variant from Brazil has been detected in a sample from the Bay Area, underscoring the urgency of ramping up inoculation efforts as researchers try to learn whether it, as well as others circulating in California, could undermine the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Researchers at Stanford’s Clinical Virology Laboratory screened nearly 1,000 specimens during the last two weeks and found one case of the Brazilian variant, P.2, said Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, the laboratory’s medical director. They reported the finding to public health authorities on Jan. 25. The researchers also identified four cases of a variant from the U.K., B.1.1.7, that appears to spread more easily, may be more virulent and is already known to be circulating in California, Pinsky said.

And they found that about 29% of the specimens had the L452R mutation, a feature of a homegrown variant that has been increasingly detected across the state and may have helped drive the most recent case surge. “It’s definitely possible that they already contributed to the humongous surge we’ve seen over the last six weeks or so,” said Dr. Edward Jones-Lopez, an infectious diseases expert at USC. “And it could get even worse if these strains are indeed fitter than previous strains and people lower their guard and we are not very logistically efficient in delivering vaccines. “When we put those two factors together, it might still be a rough next two to three months.”

The P.2 variant is distinct from another detected in Brazil, P.1, that was linked to an abrupt resurgence in cases in Manaus that took place after much of the population was already believed to have been infected. But the variants share a mutation that appears to help the virus evade antibodies generated by either a previous infection or vaccine, Pinsky said. And there are at least two examples of people being infected with the P.2 variant after they had been infected by another strain, a feat that has been demonstrated by P.1 and multiple other coronavirus strains. That finding has led researchers to theorize that P.2 may have similar properties as the P.1 variant, he said. “There’s a lot less known about the Brazil P.2 strain, so that’s one to keep an eye on,” he said.

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A carefully orchestrated pantomime.

WHO Team Visits Wuhan Virus Lab At Center Of Speculation (AP)

World Health Organization investigators on Wednesday visited a research center in the Chinese city of Wuhan that has been the subject of speculation about the origins of the coronavirus, with one member saying they’d intended to meet key staff and press them on critical issues. The WHO team’s visit to the Wuhan Institute of Virology was a highlight of their mission to gather data and search for clues as to where the virus originated and how it spread. “We’re looking forward to meeting with all the key people here and asking all the important questions that need to be asked,” zoologist and team member Peter Daszak said, according to footage run by Japanese broadcaster TBS.

Reporters followed the team to the high security facility, but as with past visits, there was little direct access to team members, who have given scant details of their discussions and visits thus far. Uniformed and plainclothes security guards stood watch along the facility’s gated front entrance, but there was no sign of the protective suits team members had donned Tuesday during a visit to an animal disease research center. It wasn’t clear what protective gear was worn inside the institute. The team left after around three hours without speaking to waiting journalists.

Following two weeks in quarantine, the WHO team that includes experts in veterinary medicine, virology, food safety and epidemiology from 10 nations has over the past six days visited hospitals, research institutes and a traditional wet market linked to many of the first cases. Their visit followed months of negotiations as China seeks to retain tight control over information about the outbreak and the investigation into its origins, in what some have seen as an attempt to avoid blame for any missteps in its early response.

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They don’t have that kind of clout yet.

Will WallStreetBets Send The VIX Soaring Next? (ZH)

One week ago, the Reddit crowd – then numbering 2 million users- sparked a historic squeeze among the most shorted Russell 3000 stocks (led by Gamestop) which inflicted hundreds of billions of losses on some hedge funds (while making other hedge funds that much richer), and launched a deleveraging VaR shockwave which forced even non-shorting hedge funds to unwind some of their biggest (and most popular) positions. Then, this Monday, the same Reddit crowd – now having tripled to 7.5 million users – managed to spark the biggest surge in silver prices since the collapse of Lehman, and even though there were not nearly as many shorts here, the move was sizable enough to unleash another major VaR shockwave across markets, and forcing even unlinked assets to selloff amid another degrossing wave.

What the two episodes had in common is that any outlier event – and last week’s “most shorted vs most popular” slamdown was a 7 sigma event, which nobody had anticipated, with Goldman writing that Tuesday “was the worst day for GS HF VIP longs vs GS Most Short in our records (-7.7%)”… stood to unleash a cascading sequence of adverse events due to just one thing: leverage. It’s the record level of leverage in the system that prompted Morgan Stanley’s chief equity strategist to warn that the short-squeeze shake out is not yet over and that the correction is “likely to get worse”:

“Third, the aggressive short squeeze strategies employed by a certain group of investors was the spark. These targeted squeezes forced the leverage to come out of the system starting with hedge fund gross exposures. Initially, it didn’t have much of an effect on the major indices but last week that all changed. The forced reduction of gross leverage via short covering led to a reduction in long exposure and net leverage. Major averages traded lower by 3-5% with many stocks down 10% or more.”

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But that’s just to serve you better…

White House Reporters Say Biden Team Wanted Questions In Advance (JTN)

The Daily Beast on Monday published a rather scathing piece about the new Biden White House and its press operation. “White House Reporters: Biden Team Wanted Our Questions in Advance,” blared the headline. “If you’re a reporter with a tough question for the White House press secretary, Joe Biden’s staff wouldn’t mind knowing about it in advance,” said the lead. “According to three sources with knowledge of the matter, as well as written communications reviewed by The Daily Beast, the new president’s communications staff have already on occasion probed reporters to see what questions they plan on asking new White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki when called upon during briefings.”

Pretty damning report. The Fourth Estate is protected in the Constitution and its job is to demand answers from America’s political leaders, without fear or prejudice. The idea that the media, already viewed as liberal and supportive of Democrats — from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama to Biden to congressional lawmakers — could be colluding with the White House provoked alarm. “The left demands 100 percent loyalty from the press, not the 99 percent they already get,” Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor told Fox News. “In today’s cancel culture, journalists don’t dare be open in their criticism, so that’s why this story is all whispers,” said Gainor.

The Beast’s report drew other questions, though. Was the White House simply trying to find out what reporters were interested in on any given day, or asking for the exact questions they would ask the press secretary in the daily briefing? Citing anonymous sources, the Beast said it was the latter. “[T]he press can’t really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want,” one White House correspondent told the website. “That’s not really a free press at all.” Biden’s press team “did not deny that staffers had solicited questions from reporters,” said the Beast. “But the White House contended that it has tried to foster a better relationship with the press corps than the previous administration, and has tried to reach out to reporters directly in order to avoid appearing to dodge questions during briefings.”

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Censor him!

Florida Gov. DeSantis, Lawmakers Plan To Take Action On Big Tech (JTN)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a Tuesday news conference discussed plans for the Sunshine State to pursue legislation pertaining to big tech companies. “The message is loud and clear: When it comes to elections in Florida, big tech should stay out of it,” Gov. DeSantis said. “We can’t allow Floridans’ privacy to be violated, their voices and even their livelihoods diminished and their elections interfered with.” Among the various moves that the governor and state lawmakers have planned is a fine for deplatforming political candidates during an election. “Under our proposal if a technology company deplatforms a candidate for elected office in Florida during an election, a company will face a daily fine of $100,000 until the candidate’s access to the platform is restored,” he said.


“Further, if a technology company promotes a candidate for office against another, the value of that free promotion must be recorded as a political campaign contribution enforced by the Florida Elections Commission,” he said. The governor, who previously served as a lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives, said that tech businesses will face fines if they utilize “content and user-related algorithms” to boost or depress access to material pertaining to a candidate or cause that is up for a vote. “Florida consumers deserve protection for their privacy,” DeSantis said, noting that “with the help of our legislative partners we’re gonna stand together in support of Floridians and put a stop to big tech’s practice of preying on consumers.”

Tucker De Santis
https://twitter.com/i/status/1356792854647984129

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There you go.

Academic Media Censorship Conference Censored by YouTube (MPN)

An academic critical media literacy conference warning of the dangers of media censorship has, ironically, been censored by YouTube. The Critical Media Literacy Conference of the Americas 2020 took place without incident online over two days in October and featured a number of esteemed speakers and panels discussing issues concerning modern media studies. Weeks later, however, the entire video record of the conference — estimated at around 24 hours of material — disappeared from YouTube. Organizer Nolan Higdon of California State University East Bay, began receiving worried messages from other academics, some of which were shared with MintPress, who had been using the material in their classrooms, noting that it had all mysteriously disappeared.

“At first I thought it was a joke,” said Mickey Huff of Diablo Valley College, California. “My initial reaction was ‘that’s absurd;’ there must have been a mistake or an accident or it must have got swept under somehow. There is no violation, there was no reasoning, there was no warning, there was not an explanation, there was no nothing. The entire channel was just gone,” he told MintPress. Huff is also the director of Project Censored, an organization that sponsored the event. Higdon suspected that it was the content critical of big tech monopolies like Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter that was the reason why the channel was deleted. “Each video was a different panel and every panel had different people from the other ones, so it is not like there was one theme or person or copyrighted content in all of our videos; this seems to be an attack on the conference, not on a singular video,” he said.

The organizers were careful to avoid copyright infringement, with the large majority of their videos in lecture format, essentially a recorded Zoom call. Speakers included some of the best-known names in media studies, with the event sponsored by institutions like Stanford University and UCLA. “This wasn’t a keg party with Parler users: it was an academic conference,” Huff said. These are pioneering figures in critical media literacy scholarship. It’s mind numbing that all of this was just disappeared from YouTube. The irony is writ large…This is part of a potentially algorithmic way of getting rid of more radical positions that criticize establishment media systems, including journalism.”

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Ha ha ha. “The bull was covered in a blue tarp to prevent further vandalism.”

NYPD Deploys Counter Terrorism Unit To Protect Wall Street (MPN)

The Charging Bull statue in Manhattan’s Financial District has become the sight of protests amid a wider financial rebellion happening online. On Friday, a handful of activists were seen in Bowling Green Park, posing with the bull, and holding signs that said “Tax Wall Street Trades.” A thin band of tape was also placed on the statue’s head and rear end, featuring slogans like “Hold the line” and “WSB” — both allusions to the GameStop insurrection against hedge funds organized by Reddit’s “Wall Street Bets” community. A similar fate befell the new Fearless Girl statue, which faces the New York Stock Exchange building. Both the bull and the girl are meant to symbolize the power, bravery and daring of the city’s financial traders.


In response, the New York Police Department (NYPD) mobilized its anti-terrorism unit, sending masked, blad clad police officers wearing armor and carrying assault rifles to protect and secure the area. “The Stock Market has had an interesting week to say the least. We are happy to report that the Wall Street Charging Bull is secure and continues to preside over Bowling Green for the foreseeable future,” it announced. The bull was covered in a blue tarp to prevent further vandalism. The decision to deploy counter-terrorism officers on the streets of Manhattan was not well appreciated, at least judging by replies left on the unit’s official social media pages. “Perfect example of how police exist to protect private property and not people,” was the highest rated response. Other popular replies included, “You brought out the automatic rifles and body armor… for tape,” “Good ad for defunding the police right here,” and, “If this was a shot in a movie, I’d think it was too on the nose.”

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A summit hosted by Boris will not protect the planet, but the rich. It’s like the Paris accord, designed to let them continue to control the topic. And make a lot of money of painting stuff green.

Economics’ Failure Over Destruction Of Nature Presents ‘Extreme Risks’ (G.)

The world is being put at “extreme risk” by the failure of economics to take account of the rapid depletion of the natural world and needs to find new measures of success to avoid a catastrophic breakdown, a landmark review has concluded. Prosperity was coming at a “devastating cost” to the ecosystems that provide humanity with food, water and clean air, said Prof Sir Partha Dasgupta, the Cambridge University economist who conducted the review. Radical global changes to production, consumption, finance and education were urgently needed, he said. The 600-page review was commissioned by the UK Treasury, the first time a national finance ministry has authorised a full assessment of the economic importance of nature. A similar Treasury-sponsored review in 2006 by Nicholas Stern is credited with transforming economic understanding of the climate crisis.

The review said that two UN conferences this year – on biodiversity and climate change – provided opportunities for the international community to rethink an approach that has seen a 40% plunge in the stocks of natural capital per head between 1992 and 2014. “Nature is our home. Good economics demands we manage it better,” said Dasgupta. “Truly sustainable economic growth and development means recognising that our long-term prosperity relies on rebalancing our demand of nature’s goods and services with its capacity to supply them. It also means accounting fully for the impact of our interactions with nature. Covid-19 has shown us what can happen when we don’t do this.” Sir David Attenborough said the review was “immensely important”. In a foreword, he said: “If we continue this damage, whole ecosystems will collapse. That is now a real risk. The review at last puts biodiversity at the core [of economics]. It shows how we can help save the natural world at what may be the last minute, and in doing so, save ourselves.”

The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, who will host the UN climate summit in Glasgow in November, said: “This year is critical in determining whether we can stop and reverse the concerning trend of fast-declining biodiversity. I welcome the review, which makes clear that protecting and enhancing nature needs more than good intentions – it requires concerted, coordinated action.” Humanity’s impact on the natural world is stark, with animal populations having dropped by an average of 68% since 1970 and forest destruction continuing at pace – some scientists think a sixth mass extinction of life is under way and accelerating. Today, just 4% of the world’s mammals are wild, hugely outweighed by humans and their livestock.

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 February 1, 2021  Posted by at 10:21 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  30 Responses »


Balthus Therèse dreaming 1938

 

The Store of Value Generation is Kicking Your Ass (Mark Cuban)
Is Robinhood On The Brink Of Collapse? (GIH)
Silver Prices, Miners Surge As Retail Buyers Pile In (R.)
To The Brink And Back On GameStop (R.)
Melvin Capital Loses 53% In January Over Bet Against GameStop (RT)
Bill Gates, Big Pharma and Entrenching The Vaccine Apartheid (M&G)
France & Germany Threaten AstraZeneca With Legal Action (RT)
GOP Tries To Gut Survival Checks (DP)
Trump Announces New Lawyers To Lead Impeachment Defense Team (JTN)
ExxonMobil and Chevron Held Merger Talks In 2020 (G.)
China Building Digital Silk Road From Asia Through Africa To Europe (RT)
Vitamin B1 Deficiencies Are Plaguing Fish and Birds (Atl.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Wall Street and the agency that governs it, the SEC have become fat and happy. Fat and Happy makes old school slow and resistant to change.”

The Store of Value Generation is Kicking Your Ass (Mark Cuban)

[..] there are a growing number of investors and traders who think that the digital goods and CryptoAsset marketplaces are better than old school physical markets and the stock market and most of them are young. They love the fact that NO ONE has power over them. That there is no central authority and they get the results of their own efforts without some government agency or big company fucking with them. Every negative , consequential financial moment in their collective lives has been the result of some massive entity getting greedy and fucking things up for them. On the flipside, they have also been watching some of their peers gain wealth with Crypto and Digital Assets, most starting with not much capital.

Those peers have also been very vocal about the lack of interference by Old Schoolers with Crpto and Digital Assests and much of those gains have come from all of them doing the same thing, buying and Holding On for Dear Life. They have learned that with digital assets, acting in unison can bring wealth to those who otherwise would not have access to it. That is power and they know it and they are learning how to use it. So what does this have to do with Wall Street Bets (WSB) and $GME and the other stocks they are trading ? Well, it’s pretty obvious that the WSB traders are applying the same principles of the digital/CryptoAsset world to the stock market and they are loving the fact that the old schoolers are hating it.

They know that Wall Street hasn’t changed much in generations. Sure it has gone digital in many respects, but the way the game has been played has not changed. Wall Street is 100pct top down controlled and regulated. Which stock is next in the S&P 500 ? Which is removed ? No one knows, but it is provocative and can change fortunes for investors. SEC decides to use their own in-house Administrative Law Judges and prevent defendants from having their constitutional right to a jury trial ? Yup. You can’t afford to fight them. Tough shit. Big brokerages get to have calls and put out notes to their millions of clients with price targets in hopes of moving markets, but think its wrong for Sub Reddits to do the same ? Yup. The ultimate in stock manipulations, corporate stock buy backs were illegal prior to 1982, till the SEC put a former Broker CEO in charge. Wanna guess what has happened to CEO compensation since then ?

Wall Street and the agency that governs it, the SEC have become fat and happy. Fat and Happy makes old school slow and resistant to change. Very resistant. And obviously very unaware of the change that is happening around them.

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What hat does Robinhood have on?

“For equity brokers who clear their orders properly, there is no reason to limit $GME purchases to one. There is no reason to limit withdrawals..”

Is Robinhood On The Brink Of Collapse? (GIH)

The question remains – is Robinhood running a b-book. For those who are not familiar with OTC brokerage, a b-book is where the losers trade. When you open an account, you get flagged either as a winner or a loser, if you are on the A-Server then your trades flow through to the market, this is known in OTC as “Straight Through Processing” minus a small fee, or the “A-Book.” The “B-Book” or “Broker Book” or “Bad Book” depending on who you ask, is where your trades are placed directly against the broker itself – like spread betting. In this case, the customer losses become the brokers profits, and the reverse. This typically works well for brokers as most retail traders lose. But is Robinhood running a b-book? The answer is we don’t know and would not know, because a b-book broker would never disclose it.

According to public data, this may be a complex convoluted b-book. Citadel not only pays Robinhood for order flow data, Citadel Securities also clears orders for Robinhood. Not only that, Robinhood gets 35% of it’s revenue from Citadel: According to a June report from the Financial Times, $39 million of Robinhood’s revenues from equities and options order flow came from Citadel Securities, a market maker sister firm of Citadel. At the time, this represented more than 35% of the trading platform’s revenues. Which looks like the FXCM trick; Robinhood is not operating a b-book. They clear through Citadel Securities, a market maker, who b-books the trades (goes short basically) by not clearing them. In addition to that, Citadel is heavily invested in Melvin Capital, the hedge fund with a massive short position in $GME.

NOTE: It is not possible to short private equity stock. Robinhood is currently a private company, available on private markets. They claim to have plans for an IPO but so did Refco. If Robinhood’s book is as toxic as it seems, there is no way out for the firm other than to drive the prices of these stocks back down, or to simply reverse the positions which never really existed in the first place. They might want to call b-book mastermind Dror “Drew” Niv who was able to mask his b-booking operation by creating an offshore entity who was the sole counterparty of transactions below a certain size. He’s currently chumming it up with his bros in Greenwich, CT since his firm FXCM has been permanently banned by the NFA.

We aren’t saying that Robinhood is a fraud, we are saying that all the signs are there. For equity brokers who clear their orders properly, there is no reason to limit $GME purchases to one. There is no reason to limit withdrawals, or need ‘liquidity’ for net cap requirements. Running a broker-dealer is not so complicated like an OTC desk, orders match up and it’s all exchange traded. Broker dealers don’t take any risk, at least any meaningful risk. Market makers do. This is the question that we should be asking Vladimir – are you acting as an agent or a principal?

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WallStreetBets is now setting prices?

Silver Prices, Miners Surge As Retail Buyers Pile In (R.)

Silver prices leapt to a five-month high on Monday and small silver miners listed in Australia surged after social media calls to buy the metal and emulate the frenzy that has driven GameStop shares up 1,500% in two weeks. Spot silver rose as much as 7.4% to $28.99 an ounce, the highest since mid-August. Shares in a handful of mining firms such as Argent Minerals, Boab Metals and Investigator Resources leapt more than 15%. Coin-selling websites also reported unprecedented demand and flagged delays in delivering bullion. The moves are the latest example of small-time traders buying en masse, particularly of stocks and other assets that were heavily bet against, resulting in large losses for major investors.


“There is this curious situation now where the Reddit crowd has turned its sights on a bigger whale in terms of trying to catalyse something of a short squeeze in the silver market,” said Kyle Rodda, an analyst at brokerage IG Markets in Melbourne. “The most important factor here is that silver is heavily shorted, the paper market is much, much larger than the underlying commodity can justify,” he said. “There’s a lot of commentary on these platforms to pile in to the miners.” Silver prices are up 15% since Wednesday’s close, around when messages began circulating on forums such as Reddit encouraging users to buy the metal and drive up prices.

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“..the idea to short GameStop had long been a favorite at exclusive “idea dinners”, where fund managers swap their best trades.”

To The Brink And Back On GameStop (R.)

The extent of losses has exposed a big weakness on Wall Street. Analytics firm S3 said GameStop short sellers had mark-to-market losses of nearly $20 billion so far this year. Several hedge fund managers said the idea to short GameStop had long been a favorite at exclusive “idea dinners”, where fund managers swap their best trades. Managers also noted traders, many of whom who work at multi-strategy funds that employ pods of portfolio managers, traders and analysts, often know each other well and may compare notes. Gabe Plotkin’s Melvin Capital, one of the funds gored most by GameStop’s gains, took a $2.75 billion bailout from his one-time mentor Steve Cohen and Citadel’s Ken Griffin. The funds involved have taken a dent: Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management lost roughly 15% in January partly because of its investment in Melvin.


Melvin’s assets slid during the month from around $12.5 billion to $8 billion, a source familiar with the situation said. Maplelane Capital, another fund that bet against GameStop, had lost roughly 45% in January, a person familiar with the fund’s returns said. Even Viking Global Investors, one of the world’s best-performing hedge funds, was off some 7%, people familiar with the returns said. “Being short consensus stocks is just bad business,” said Dinakar Singh, a former Goldman Sachs trader who now runs hedge fund Axon Capital and was not short the stock. “It is great while it is working but when it isn’t anymore one guy’s problem triggers everyone’s headache. It becomes a circular disaster.”

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This is not over.

Melvin Capital Loses 53% In January Over Bet Against GameStop (RT)

Hedge fund Melvin Capital felt the effects of the buying spree spurred by individual buyers from the r/WallStreetBets subreddit account, with the group losing 53 percent in January. Despite the loss, Melvin Capital received fresh cash from investors by the end of January after taking heavy losses due to the unexpected and record stock gains for companies like GameStop, according to a source cited by Reuters. Melvin started January with $12.5 billion in assets, but is closing out the month with $8 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal’s report on the losses. It closed out its short position on GameStop in the wake of the massive surge. Other groups like Citron have also felt the squeeze by betting against GameStop and have closed their short positions with heavy losses.


GameStop became the center of controversy after motivated buyers sought to flood the market and increase its stock price aiming to upset Wall Street hedge funds. Trading at a mere $10 a share in October, GameStop closed out Friday at $325 a share. It has seen a total gain of over 1000 percent this year. Redditors also invested into other surprising companies like AMC leading to a frenzy on Wall Street as longtime investors found themselves trading in a quickly fluctuating and unpredictable market. Traders who bought into GameStop mainly did so through the app Robinhood, which controversially stepped in and halted trading on certain companies and then limited it, claiming this was a move to prevent market manipulation.

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Rania Khalek: “Too bad there’s so much hatred for bill gates over a conspiracy theory that he wants to micro chip us when actually he’s just a billionaire monster trying to cash in on vaccine profits.”

Bill Gates, Big Pharma and Entrenching The Vaccine Apartheid (M&G)

In October 2020, diplomats from South Africa and India approached the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with a revolutionary proposal. Together, the two countries argued that countries should be allowed to ignore any patents related to Covid-19 vaccines, for the duration of the pandemic. In other words: everyone should be allowed to manufacture the vaccine, without penalty. In their official communication, the countries said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.” Just a few weeks later, Pfizer and BioNTech announced the first successful phase three trials for a Covid-19 vaccine, followed swiftly by Moderna and AstraZeneca.

In developing countries, jubilation at the prospect of a swift end to the devastating pandemic turned quickly into fear and anger, as it became clear that vaccines would only be made available to the rich, with little thought to equitable distribution. Canada, the worst offender, has pre-ordered so many vaccines that it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia. The vaccines that have been made available to the developing world are either untested — such as the Chinese and Russian vaccines, for which insufficient clinical trial data has been released — or expensive. South Africa has ordered 1.5-million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but will pay more than double what the EU is paying per dose.

The EU says that it is entitled to a lower price because it invested in the vaccine’s development — nevermind that the AstraZeneca vaccine was literally tested on the bodies of South Africans who volunteered to be part of the clinical trial in Johannesburg. In lower income countries, the situation is even worse. As of 18 January, 39-million vaccine doses had been administered in the world’s 50 richest countries, compared to just 25 individual doses in low-income countries. It appears that South Africa and India were right. Under the current rules, the vaccine cannot be made quickly or cheaply enough to meet global demand, which vaccines are only going to those countries that can afford it. This is a “catastrophic moral failure”, said the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Some activists have described the situation as a “vaccine apartheid”. Nonetheless, the proposal for a patent waiver has been repeatedly rejected at the WTO by wealthier countries including the European Union, the United Kingdom, US and Switzerland; countries which, as Reuters wryly noted, are “all home to major pharmaceutical companies”. They also all enjoy early access to the vaccine. Nor has South Africa and India’s proposal received support from the most influential non-state actor in global public health: Bill Gates. The pandemic has been good to Gates. In 2020, the Microsoft cofounder added $18-billion to his fortune, which now stands at a cool $131-billion (the annual GDP of Ethiopia, a country of 112-million people, is $96-billion). He is the fourth-richest person in the world.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has since its inception in 2000 spent more than $54-billion combating diseases such as polio and malaria and bolstering the health systems of developing countries. It funds everything from governments to civil society organisations to health journalism outlets, which means it has an enormous say in how health policy is shaped and communicated. It also contributes 12% of the WHO’s total budget. But despite Gates’ stated commitment to an equitable distribution of the Covid vaccine, he is refusing to back South Africa and India’s calls for a waiver on patents.

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The wrong fight.

France & Germany Threaten AstraZeneca With Legal Action (RT)

Tensions in a row between AstraZeneca and the EU over vaccine shortages have heightened further as Paris and Berlin said the company should face penalties or even legal action if it turns out it preferred Britons to Europeans. “I am not saying that there is a problem but if there is a problem and that [they] have favored other destinations, other countries – for example the UK – over us then we will defend our interests,” France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune told the French Radio J on Sunday, adding that the company is now facing “serious accusations” and that is not something that Brussels treats “lightly.” The official then said that the British-Swedish vaccine manufacturer could face “penalties or sanctions” if found to have prioritized its British clients over the European ones.


Beaune added that Brussels could punish the company by refusing to order any supplementary doses or imposing penalties “foreseen by the contract.” The EU has struck an advance purchase agreement with AstraZeneca worth €336 million ($407.8 million) but not all of the money has been paid to the company. Beaune admitted that there is an investigation into AstraZeneca that is still ongoing and the Europeans first need “clarity and transparency.” Still, he said, “if there has been a preference granted to the British, then that’s a problem.” A similarly stark rebuke came from Germany, where the Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Die Welt daily that “if it turns out that individual companies are not complying with their obligations, a decision must be made about legal consequences.”

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Biden promised the $2,000 checks “immediately”. Where are they? Why try and blame this on the GOP instead?

GOP Tries To Gut Survival Checks (DP)

A group of Republican senators is pushing to cut the size of the next round of COVID-19 relief checks and significantly limit who’s eligible to receive the payments, as the Biden administration continues to indicate that it would be open to further restricting who’s eligible for survival checks. Last month, President Joe Biden promised that $2,000 checks would “go out the door immediately” if Democrats managed to win the two Georgia senate runoff races and claim control of the Senate. After Democrats pulled off two miracle victories in Georgia, Biden quickly narrowed his pledge to new $1,400 checks, asserting that the $600 checks authorized by Congress in December were a down payment on his plan.


On Sunday, ten moderate Republicans proposed new $1,000 checks instead as part of their own scaled-down coronavirus relief package. Under their proposal, survival checks would go to far fewer Americans than in previous relief bills — only to “families who need assistance the most,” according to a letter they sent to the White House. While the details haven’t been released yet, one Republican involved in the effort, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, told CNN on Sunday that direct payments should only go to individuals earning less than $50,000 and families earning less than $100,000. In previous COVID relief bills, full rounds of survival checks have gone to individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000. Limiting assistance the way Portman described would cut off relief to millions of Americans who have previously received economic impact payments.

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Like the spotlight?

Trump Announces New Lawyers To Lead Impeachment Defense Team (JTN)

Lawyers David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr. will lead former President Trump’s impeachment trial defense team, according to an announcement on Sunday from the Office of Donald J. Trump. The announcement notes that the two attorneys consider the impeachment unconstitutional and that Schoen had already been working with Trump and other advisors to get ready for the approaching Senate trial. “It is an honor to represent the 45th President, Donald J. Trump, and the United States Constitution,” Schoen said in a statement included in the announcement. “I consider it a privilege to represent the 45th President,” Castor said. “The strength of our Constitution is about to be tested like never before in our history. It is strong and resilient. A document written for the ages, and it will triumph over partisanship yet again, and always.” The House of Representatives voted in favor of impeaching Trump earlier this month during the waning days of his term in office.

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110 years after Standard Oil.

ExxonMobil and Chevron Held Merger Talks In 2020 (G.)

The chief executives of American oil companies ExxonMobil and Chevron held preliminary talks in early 2020 to explore combining the two largest US oil producers in what would have been the biggest merger of all time, according to people familiar with the matter. The discussions, which are no longer ongoing, are being seen as having tested the waters for the huge corporate marriage after the coronavirus pandemic shook the world last year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. Such consequential discussions are indicative of the pressure the energy sector’s most dominant companies faced as Covid-19 took hold and crude prices plunged. The talks between Exxon chief executive, Darren Woods, and Chevron CEO, Mike Wirth, were serious enough for legal documents involving certain aspects of the merger discussions to be drafted, one of the sources told Reuters.

[..] The discussions were described as preliminary and although were not ongoing could come back in the future. Such a deal would reunite the two largest descendants of John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil monopoly, which was broken up by US regulators in 1911, and reshaped the oil industry, the Journal reported. A combined company’s market value could top $350bn, creating the world’s second largest oil company by market capitalization and production, second only to Saudi Arabia’s state oil producer, Aramco. Such a big American oil merger could run into regulatory and antitrust hurdles in the new Biden [presidency], which has taken the US back into the Paris climate accords.

Last week Biden signed new environmental orders, saying the climate crisis was an existential threat demanding urgent remedies and introduced his team, including former secretary of state John Kerry as the new US climate global envoy. During the election campaign last October, Biden said he would push the US to “transition away from the oil industry”.

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Huawei.

China Building Digital Silk Road From Asia Through Africa To Europe (RT)

The final stretch of a cross-border fiber optic cable is set to be laid by China in Pakistan to create the Digital Silk Road (DSR), Nikkei Asia reports. The DSR is part of the broader Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The fiber cable will link to the Pakistan East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) submarine cable in the Arabian Sea, to service countries participating in BRI, and Europe. It is currently being laid between Pakistan’s Rawalpindi city and the port cities of Karachi and Gwadar. The $240-million project, which is in partnership with China’s Huawei Technologies, was approved by the government last week.

The laying of sea cable in Pakistan’s territorial waters will begin in March, following government approval this month for Cybernet, a local internet service provider, to construct an Arabian Sea landing station in Karachi. The Mediterranean section of the cable is already being laid, and runs from Egypt to France. The 15,000 kilometer-long cable is expected to go into service later this year. The PEACE cable will provide the shortest direct internet route between participating countries, and will drastically reduce internet data transfer speeds.

It is expected to help reduce Pakistan’s exposure to internet outages from damaged submarine cables by providing an additional route for internet connectivity. According to Eyck Freymann, author of ‘One Belt One Road: Chinese Power Meets the World,’ the BRI is evolving to place less emphasis on traditional heavy infrastructure, and more on high-tech cooperation and digital services. He told Nikkei Asia that “Beijing wants to dominate the physical infrastructure underlying global communications, particularly the internet,” adding: “This will give it an advantage in internationalizing its tech sector and pursuing future tech-related deals with partner countries.”

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“..some unexplained process is compromising the foundation of the Earth’s food web by depleting ecosystems of this critical nutrient.”

Vitamin B1 Deficiencies Are Plaguing Fish and Birds (Atl.)

Disoriented little fish caught the attention of staff members at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Red Bluff, California, in early January 2020. Looking down into the outdoor tanks—called raceways—the facility’s employees noticed that among the dark, olive-colored clouds of live fish, there were occasional slivers of silver from the undersides of tiny fry that were struggling to swim. These small fish would roll onto their sides, sink to the bottom for a moment, spring back upright, swim a few strokes, and then roll over again. Many were dying, too. While a few hundred mortalities daily in a facility containing millions of fish is normal, something was definitely amiss. Daily mortality “was in the thousands, and it didn’t go down,” says Brett Galyean, complex manager at the hatchery.

Galyean and his team had already hatched and released into the raceways between six and seven million fish—about half of Coleman’s annual production—and the prospect of losing many or most of them began to seem very real. Biologists at the California-Nevada Fish Health Center, an on-site lab at the hatchery, which is located on a tributary of the Sacramento River, inspected the fish but couldn’t make a diagnosis. A few samples were sent to the University of California, Davis, for more testing. Around that time, Galyean recalls, other salmon hatcheries in the state began reporting unusually high mortality rates in their fish. Whatever was afflicting Coleman’s salmon was evidently impacting fish across Northern California. Short of better explanations, Galyean and his colleagues grew concerned that a virus was sweeping through their brood.

Grasping for ideas as thousands of fish expired each day, they turned to the internet, where they dug up research on nutritional deficiencies in trout from the Great Lakes, as well as Atlantic salmon on the East Coast. Several decades ago, sick and dying fish in these regions had been found to be deficient in thiamine, or vitamin B1—a basic building block of life, critical to the functioning of cells and in converting food into energy. Encouraged by this finding, biologists at the Fish Health Center ran a trial, submerging about half of the fry in a bath of water and dissolved thiamine powder. It worked like a charm, Galyean says. After several hours, nearly all of the treated fish were behaving normally, while symptoms continued in an untreated control group.

Coleman, as well as the other hatcheries, scaled up the treatment and applied it to more than a million fry. It did the job in the short term, but it didn’t solve the underlying problem. Because the fish acquire thiamine by ingesting it through their food, and females pass nutrients to their eggs, the troubling new condition indicated that something was amiss in the Pacific Ocean—the last place the fish eat before entering fresh water to spawn. Now, California researchers investigating the source of the salmon’s nutritional problems find themselves contributing to an international effort to understand thiamine deficiency, a disorder that seems to be on the rise in marine ecosystems across much of the planet. It’s causing illness and death in birds, fish, invertebrates, and possibly mammals, leading scientists to suspect that some unexplained process is compromising the foundation of the Earth’s food web by depleting ecosystems of this critical nutrient.

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Dec 132020
 


Detail of a fresco from the House of the Tragic Poet, Pompeii, 2nd century BC

 

Sputnik V Likely Provides COVID Immunity For 2 Years, Pfizer For Months (Sp.)
Russian Cooperation Saves British Vaccine (MoA)
No Need For Vaccine This Year: Australia’s Chief Medical Officer (Yu)
Global Economy To Contract By 5.6% This Year Due To Pandemic – UN (RT)
Millions Of Working-Poor Americans Forced To Turn To Food Banks (ZH)
SCOTUS Had One Last Chance To Keep The American Republic Together (Malic)
Reporters Disclosing Embarrassing Comments From Joe Biden (Turley)
How NBC News Helped the Biden Campaign Ruin an Innocent Man (PJM)
Pascrell Seeks To Block 120 House Republicans From Being Seated (Turley)
GOP Megadonor Celebrates His Profits From “Huge Increases In Rents” (DP)
Sweden Considers E-krona Amid Rapid Growth Of Cash-free Transactions (RT)
UK Ministers Warn Supermarkets To Stockpile Food On No-deal Brexit Fears (R.)
Australian MP Calls On Trump To Pardon Assange Before Leaving WH (RT)

 

 

 

 

Now coming to an AstraZeneca place near you.

Sputnik V Likely Provides COVID Immunity For 2 Years, Pfizer For Months (Sp.)

Russia’s vaccine showed efficacy of over 95 percent during Phase III trials. According to Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the organisation that invested in the development of Russia’s inoculation, over 50 countries have already ordered 1.2 billion doses of Sputnik V. The Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, will likely provide immunity from COVID-19 for two years, while the inoculation developed by Pfizer will shield for 4-5 months, said the institute’s director Alexander Gintsburg. Gintsburg emphasised, however, that this data needs to be checked during experiments.

“The method used in Sputnik V was used in the vaccine against Ebola and experimental data has proved that it provides immunity from the disease for a minimum of two years, but it could be more. I don’t know how long Pfizer’s vaccine will protect from infection”, Gintsbur said. The director of Gamaleya Research Institute also said there is a 96 percent chance that people who have received the Sputnik V jab won’t get sick with COVID-19. Only 4 percent of people who got the vaccine might get sick, Gintsburg said, but stressed that this would be a mild case of the disease that will not affect the lungs. Most likely an individual will have a cough, sniffles, and minor temperature.

Both Sputnik and Pfizer vaccines showed efficacy rates of 95 percent. However, two UK National Health Service workers who received the Pfizer inoculation had allergic reactions to the jab, which prompted UK’s health department to issue a warning that people with a history of allergic reactions should not receive Pfizer’s vaccine. Alexander Gintsburg previously said that the Sputnik V vaccine can be used by people with allergies.

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Excellent background.

“The possible reason for 62% efficacy of AstraZeneca’s full dose regiment is that immunity to chimpanzee adenoviral vector from the 1st shot makes 2nd shot not effective. #SputnikV addresses this issue by using two different human adenoviral vectors for two shots (92% efficacy)”

Russian Cooperation Saves British Vaccine (MoA)

In late November Debs is dead and I wrote about the ruthless vaccine competition. The cause were the ambiguous results of the non-profit AstraZeneca vaccine trials which led to delighted criticism from those who prefer commercial vaccine suppliers. The good news today is that cooperation between vaccine developers is still possible and can lead to better results. As Debs had opined: “In the real world that means if the AstraZeneca vaccine is more than 60% efficacious (which is better than any flu vaccine – 95% is new big pharma BS IMO) and has no major side effects (one case of MS tells us nothing for the reason I outlined above), then it will be that or nothing for a sizeable slab of the world’s population. If everyone falls for big pharma’s transparent attempt to stop this possible vaccine in its tracks, prior to testing completion, then that will mean no vaccine for billions of our fellow humans, so rather than joining in the big pharma sabotage, it makes better sense to consider that vaccine more objectively than de Noli, that Harvard minion of corporations seems to do.”

I agreed with that and discussed the most likely reason why the AstraZeneca vaccine did not create a higher efficacy: “The AstraZeneca vaccine uses an adenovirus as ‘vector’ to deliver a DNA sequence that human cells then use to create one specific (but harmless) SARS-CoV-2 protein. The immune system will then learn to attack that protein. Afterwards it should be able to protect against SARS-CoV-2 infections. … In order to safeguard against cases where an already existing immunity to human adenoviruses may impede inoculation AstraZeneca is using a chimpanzee-originated version of an adenovirus as a vector. The Russian Sputnik V vaccine, hyped by Prof. de Noli on RT, uses two doses with different human adenoviruses (Ad-26, Ad-5) as vectors to increase the chance of inoculation.

Other vaccine developers, CanSino Biologics and Johnson & Johnson, are also using adenovirus vectors. Sinopharm’s vaccine uses an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus. AstraZeneca found by chance that its vaccine works best when the first dose is smaller than the second one. Vector immunity can explain why this is the case. A first high dose will create some immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus but also some immunity against the vector virus, the chimpanzee-originated adenovirus. When a first high dose has trained the immune system to fight the vector virus the second ‘booster’ vaccine dose using the same vector will become inefficient. A lower first dose can make sure that the second higher dose is not prematurely defeated by vector immunity but can still do its work.

Unbeknownst to me the Russian developers of the Sputnik V vaccine had come to the same conclusion: Sputnik V @sputnikvaccine – 13:10 UTC · Nov 23, 2020 “The possible reason for 62% efficacy of AstraZeneca’s full dose regiment is that immunity to chimpanzee adenoviral vector from the 1st shot makes 2nd shot not effective. #SputnikV addresses this issue by using two different human adenoviral vectors for two shots (92% efficacy). They had offered AstraZeneca to cooperate with them: Sputnik V @sputnikvaccine – 2:41 PM · Nov 23, 2020 “Sputnik V is happy to share one of its two human adenoviral vectors with @AstraZeneca to increase the efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccine. Using two different vectors for two vaccine shots will result in higher efficacy than using the same vector for two shots.” Today the Sputnik V website announced that AstraZeneca has accepted the proposal. Trials will start immediately.

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How many Australians are still stuck abroad after 11 months?

No Need For Vaccine This Year: Australia’s Chief Medical Officer (Yu)

Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says Australia’s success against coronavirus means, unlike other countries, we can wait for full vaccine approvals. Australia’s top doctor says news of the U.S. drug regulator granting emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine – like the UK and Canada have also recently done – is not necessary in Australia. “We don’t need any vaccine this year,” Kelly told reporters in Canberra on Saturday. “Other countries are in far different state than us and they should be prioritised.” Australia will wait for the Therapeutic Goods Administration—the national drug regulator—to run through its own approvals of the Pfizer vaccine with the expectation it will be distributed in early 2021.


He highlighted the nation’s success at controlling virus transmission. “Today is eighth day in a row we’ve not had any community transmission,” Kelly said. “That’s the first time we’ve been able to say that since February.” This is compared with the fact that Friday was the most deadly day of the virus yet, with more than 13,000 deaths and skyrocketing infections, Kelly said. The emphasis right now is on having an impenetrable hotel quarantine system. “Whilst we’re concentrated on bringing Australians home… we have to make sure absolutely that our hotel quarantine system is the very best it can be,” Kelly said.

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Feels a bit much like guesswork.

Global Economy To Contract By 5.6% This Year Due To Pandemic – UN (RT)

The volume of global trade is set face the sharpest decline since the end of the global financial crisis, falling as much as 5.6 percent this year, the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) predicts. The figure, announced by the agency earlier this week, is more optimistic than its previous forecast, which expected global trade to contract by nine percent year-on-year. The previous largest decline was seen in 2009, when global merchandise trade took a 22-percent nosedive. However, the UNCTAD downgraded its forecast for the service sector, which was hit hard by a steep decline in travel, transport and tourism activity during the pandemic.


The troubled sector is on path to fall by a staggering 15.4 percent to levels last seen in the 1990s, according to nowcasts – data-led projections for the immediate future – from UNCTAD’s 2020 Handbook of Statistics. Even following the previous crisis, services trade was down by less than 10 percent. The pandemic has also transformed business as usual in 2020, the UN agency said, adding that it had to adjust statistics methods to provide up-to-date figures on the economic fallout. “Unlike previous years however, the models that nowcast international trade and GDP had to grapple with some of the most unusual circumstances in living memory,” said UNCTAD’s chief statistician, Steve MacFeely.

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“Feeding America handed out 4.2 billion meals from March through October, the most ever.”

Millions Of Working-Poor Americans Forced To Turn To Food Banks (ZH)

For the first time, millions of Americans waited in food bank lines this year, unlike anything seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. According to AP, as the pandemic rages on, with more than 20 million still claiming unemployment benefits, food banks are dishing out more meals than ever. The one place millions of Americans found themselves this year, as readers may recall, really starting in mid-March, have been food bank lines. We highlighted this phenomenon sweeping across the country as the pandemic wrecked the working poor as they grappled with food insecurity. Among some of the most memorable sights this year, reminiscent of the Depression-era, were mile-long food bank lines.

Huge traffic jams captured by civilian drones documented large lines in San Antonio, Texas to Toledo, Ohio to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Orlando, Florida, where thousands of vehicles carrying hungry people waited for care packages. Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks, was overwhelmed with demand as 20% of the organization’s food banks were at severe risk of running out of food earlier this year Demand at food banks has been so high, that Feeding America handed out 4.2 billion meals from March through October, the most ever. The organization reported a 60% average increase in food bank users during the pandemic – and at least 30% are first-timers. Data from Feeding America showed 181 food banks in its network distributed nearly 57% more food in the third quarter than the same period in 2019.

Estimates from the food bank suggest 1 in 6 Americans, from 35 million in 2019 to more than 50 million by the end of this year, will have food insecurity problems. The problem is worse for children – nearly 1 in 4 will go hungry as the pandemic deeply scarred the economy. Shockingly, Feeding America found that 1 in 5 residents in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana could not put food on the table.

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“The Silicon Valley tech giants, who in the run-up to the election censored and suppressed the story about Joe Biden’s family business deals overseas – that later turned out to be accurate – and slapped “disputed” warnings on Trump’s claims of electoral fraud the way they never did on ‘Russiagate,’ are now openly censoring any notion that 2020 wasn’t perfectly legal. You’re now forbidden to say that. Soon you won’t be allowed to think it.”

SCOTUS Had One Last Chance To Keep The American Republic Together (Malic)

By washing its hands of responsibility to hear the Texas challenge to the 2020 presidential election, the nine Justices of the US Supreme Court may have sealed the country’s fate and made a kinetic civil war much more likely. On Friday, the highest court in the land decided that Texas “lacked standing” to challenge the conduct of elections in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin under Article 3 of the US Constitution. Yet the article in question explicitly states that the SCOTUS will be the original jurisdiction in “Controversies between two or more States; – between a State and Citizens of another State; – between Citizens of different States,” among other things. Contrary to media reports, Texas did not seek to “overturn” the election of Democrat Joe Biden.

The motion filed by Attorney General Ken Paxton very explicitly called for the court to order the state legislatures thereof to seat the electors, as is their constitutional prerogative. Yes, those legislatures are majority Republican, but nothing guaranteed they would actually back President Donald Trump. After all, Georgia has a Republican governor and secretary of state, and both declared the election clean as a whistle, brushing off all evidence of alleged irregularities. The very same media that brayed for the past four years about how the 2016 election was somehow tampered with by Russia – never offering any evidence for that – have declared the 2020 one pure as driven snow, the most secure in history, perfect in every way.

In what was surely a massive coincidence, it even happened to exactly mirror the 2016 result, with Biden getting 306 electoral college votes to Trump’s 232. The Silicon Valley tech giants, who in the run-up to the election censored and suppressed the story about Joe Biden’s family business deals overseas – that later turned out to be accurate – and slapped “disputed” warnings on Trump’s claims of electoral fraud the way they never did on ‘Russiagate,’ are now openly censoring any notion that 2020 wasn’t perfectly legal. You’re now forbidden to say that. Soon you won’t be allowed to think it. In America, the country that invented the constitutional amendment guaranteeing the freedom of speech and thought!

Democrats and their allies in the media and Silicon Valley were eager to declare the Texas motion “seditious.” One influential House Democrat said any Republican backing the lawsuit was “engaging in rebellion against the United States” and should be stripped of their office under the 14th Amendment, originally written to justify disenfranchising the Confederates after 1865. The irony here is that the Supreme Court could have actually prevented another civil war had it chosen to hear the Texas lawsuit, and then ruled against it on non-pretextual grounds. That, at least, would have sent the message to Trump supporters that the System works, and that they should continue to place their trust in it. There would always be the possibility of a rematch in the 2022 midterms or 2024.

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“I am not sure when it became acceptable for politicians to expressly refuse to state their intentions and policies until after they are elected.”

Reporters Disclosing Embarrassing Comments From Joe Biden (Turley)

We have been discussing the open bias shown by the media in the last four years. It is not clear if we can regain the ground lost for journalism as even journalism professors call for the rejection of objectivity in favor of advocacy. This has included shielding Joe Biden from any challenging questions during the recent election. That includes the news blackout on reporting on the Hunter Biden scandal, the subject of my column today in the Hill. CNN’s April Ryan personifies this trend. Even as the media is facing widespread criticism for burying the Hunter Biden story (and is now doing the same with the Swalwell scandal), Ryan lashed out at confidential sources responsible for leaking a recording of Joe Biden making embarrassing comments about the “defund the police” movement.

Ryan is demanding to know who is responsible for allowing the embarrassing comments to be made public despite her past enthusiastic discussion of such leaks against President Donald Trump. President-elect Biden lashed out at the “defund the police” movement this week in a meeting with civil rights leaders, stating “That’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police. We’re not.” The recording was obtained by The Intercept. What I felt was most notable was that Biden said that he would not share his plans for reforming the police until after the Georgia runoff to avoid any backlash from voters. While NBC paraphrased the quote as Biden warning “about getting ‘too far ahead of ourselves’ with critical Senate runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5,” it was more direct and disturbing than that.

Biden stated: “Just think to yourself and give me advice whether we should do that before Jan. 5th, because that’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police.” It was precisely what Biden did with regard to packing the Supreme Court. He expressly refused to tell voters whether he would support such a plan because it might cost him votes. The key issue in the Georgia runoff is whether, once in control of the Senate, the Democrats would move forward on what are viewed as radical proposals, including sweeping police reforms. Biden’s answer again is not to tell the voters what they have planned. As I mentioned yesterday, I am not sure when it became acceptable for politicians to expressly refuse to state their intentions and policies until after they are elected.

Biden has now twice said that he does not want voters to know in case it might cost votes. There are a host of issues raised by Biden’s remarks, but Ryan lashed out at the use of such tapes, which are standard in journalism; “I asked an incoming White House source was the meeting contentious with civil rights leader and @JoeBiden and the answer was ‘no’. A rights leader at the meeting says @JoeBiden was passionate,” Ryan tweeted. “The question is who taped this meeting and why? What is the agenda?”

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We’re not allowed to find out what went on with Balding and his story.

How NBC News Helped the Biden Campaign Ruin an Innocent Man (PJM)

Hunter Biden was the October Surprise that wasn’t. A report so explosive, so potentially damaging, so dangerous for national security that it should have destroyed Joe Biden’s bid for the White House. In any other election, fleets of investigative reporters would have been unleashed to verify the claims in the report. Instead, in the ultimate expression of Trump Derangement Syndrome, a major media company set out to personally destroy the man who they thought put the report together and thereby discredit the report to the point that the entire media complex in America took turns ridiculing the story instead of investigating it. The results could have dire implications for national security. But hey, at least they got rid of the Bad Orange Man.

The week before Election Day, RedState published a series of articles about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, based on a 64-page report from researchers who combed public records to reveal how compromised the Biden family is to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). You can read Part 1 here. The four-part series lays out deeply disturbing connections between Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, John Kerry, and the CCP. The pro-democracy news outlet Apple Daily, based in Hong Kong, used an earlier 40-page version of the report and was the first to report on its findings. In response, NBC News launched a coordinated attack on one of the publishers of the report, Christopher Balding. This attack had all the appearances of being coordinated with the Biden campaign and it had the effect of benefiting the CCP.

The report goes into intimate detail about the deep connections between the Biden family and the CCP. In fact, Hunter Biden’s company BHR is listed as a subsidiary of the Bank of China, owned by the CCP. Balding, who taught English for several years in China before moving to Vietnam to teach there for a couple of years, appeared on a Facebook Live event for the Oregon Republican Party (ORP) on October 30 to talk about his report. In that event, he said, “Hunter Biden started going to China, the first trips that we picked up were shortly before Biden became vice president in 2008, and there was a steady stream of visits to Beijing over time. I would say it was probably almost once a year to China during that time. He was meeting with individuals and institutions that would ultimately become the investors in the BHR Fund.”

“The first thing to note,” Balding said, “is this appears to significantly predate 2013 going back to probably 2008, that’s when you really see the groundwork being laid for this. I think another thing that is very important to note is that all of the individual institutions that are surrounding everything’s going on here … are very closely linked to the state, whether it is with a quasi-state type of organizations, whether it is state-owned banks, whether it is part of the actual government, everyone that you’re seeing here is very closely linked to the state. A lot of people that you’re seeing are also very closely tied to Chinese organizations that are known by the U.S. government and other governments to be intelligence, their cover institutions for Intel, and until an influence operation, and what I mean by that is China has a lot of very innocuous-sounding institutional or organizational names, you know, one of the ones that pops to mind is the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

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“Such challenges and concerns are brought to the courts where we can have disputes resolved without violence in a constitutional system.”

Pascrell Seeks To Block 120 House Republicans From Being Seated (Turley)

It appears that Rep. Bill Pascrell (D., NJ) has a serious problem with Republicans going to court. We recently discussed Pascrell’s absurd effort to disbar roughly two dozen Republican lawyers for challenging the results of the 2020 election. Now Pascrell is declaring that 120 House Republicans signing a “Friend of the Court brief” (or amicus brief) is tantamount to supporting a rebellion against the United States and that they should be blocked from taking their seats in Congress. I previously denounced Pascrell for his “dangerous form of demagoguery.” This latest call shows the demagoguery has reached a level of utter delusion.

From the outset of the Texas lawsuit, I stated that it was virtually guaranteed to fail on standing. It did fail last night. However, courts are where we take cases alleging such injuries. Tens of millions of American believe that the election was not fair, including many Democratic voters. Roughly 70 percent of Republican voters believe the election was stolen. Such challenges and concerns are brought to the courts where we can have disputes resolved without violence in a constitutional system. Rather than welcome such review, Democrats have launched a scorched earth campaign, including an abusive campaign of harassment and abuse by the Lincoln Project. These efforts notably began shortly after Biden was declared the presumptive winner of the election and before any challenges were actually ruled upon by the courts.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also fueled such reckless rhetoric, declaring that the Republicans are “subverting the Constitution by their reckless and fruitless assault on our democracy which threatens to seriously erode public trust in our most sacred democratic institutions, and to set back our progress on the urgent challenges ahead.” Pascrell’s move against his colleagues mirrors language in the response of Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro calling the Texas lawsuit “seditious.” Seeking judicial review is the antithesis of sedition or rebellion. It is working within our constitutional system for a legal opinion on the merits of a challenge. These litigants have complied with court orders, as has President Trump.

On Twitter, Pascrell declared: “Stated simply, the men and women who would act to tear the United States Government apart cannot serve as Members of the Congress. These lawsuits seeking to obliterate public confidence in our democratic system by invalidating the clear results of the 2020 presidential election undoubtedly attack the text and the spirit of the Constitution, which each Member swears to support and defend.”

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Blackstone.

GOP Megadonor Celebrates His Profits From “Huge Increases In Rents” (DP)

The world’s largest private equity firm has bankrolled campaigns against rent control and been accused by the United Nations of fueling a global housing crisis. Now, as millions are threatened with eviction during the pandemic, Blackstone’s top executive is openly bragging that the firm is making huge profits off of rent increases. At the Goldman Sachs’ Financial Services Conference on December 9, Blackstone’s billionaire CEO Stephen Schwartzman boasted that after the 2008 financial crisis, his firm was able to cash in on the mortgage crisis. At the time, the company was able to buy up foreclosed homes and convert them into rental properties subsequently plagued by accusations of dilapidation and excessive fees — all while it received a big financial boost from the government. Schwartzman, a top Republican donor and close ally of President Trump, indicated his firm is positioning itself for a similar jackpot.


“You always have winners and losers — Blackstone was a huge winner coming out of the global financial crisis and I think something similar is going to happen,” he said. Noting that about half of his private equity firm’s revenues are now from real estate, Schwarzman added: “We’re the largest owner of real estate in the private world. And that asset class has boomed with huge increases in rents, almost no occupancies, [and] rent collections from almost everyone.” Blackstone recently made billions selling off its single-family residential rental business — but in the last year, the company has been buying new stakes in residentialrental properties. In 2018 and 2020, it gave millions to political groups that successfully fought to defeat rent control ballot initiatives in California, where Blackstone has significant real estate investments.

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Is there any paper money left in Sweden?

Sweden Considers E-krona Amid Rapid Growth Of Cash-free Transactions (RT)

Swedish authorities have announced plans for a step-by-step replacement of the traditional krona with a digital equivalent, signaling a potential shift away from paper money in one of the world’s most cashless societies. A detailed review of the possibility was launched earlier this week, and is expected to be completed by the end of November 2022, according to the country’s financial markets minister, Per Bolund. It followed the launch of a pilot Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) earlier this year. The ministry reportedly set up a committee to oversee the review headed by Anna Kinberg Batra, a former chairwoman of the central bank’s finance committee. Sweden is among the world’s pioneers when it comes to integrating a digital currency into a national financial system.


Earlier this year, the Riksbank, the country’s central bank, launched a pilot project to introduce an electronic krona based on the same blockchain technology that underpins digital currencies like bitcoin. The government will officially launch e-krona as soon as the review is completed. “Depending on how a digital currency is designed and which technologies are used, it can have large consequences for the entire financial system,” Bolund told Bloomberg, stressing that “it’s crucial that the digitalized payments market functions safely, and that it’s available to everybody.” The use of paper money in Sweden has significantly declined in recent years, with that trend strongly reinforced during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. The national mobile payment system, Swish, has bolstered the move since it was introduced in 2012 by Sweden’s six largest banks.

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The Brexit stories will increasingly come in fast and furious for the rest of the year.

UK Ministers Warn Supermarkets To Stockpile Food On No-deal Brexit Fears (R.)

British ministers have warned supermarkets to stockpile food amid possibilities of a no-deal Brexit, with shortages feared as talks with the European Union remain deadlocked, The Sunday Times newspaper reported. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to take control of planning if Britain opts for no deal and will chair an exit operations committee to prepare the response, the newspaper reported. Ministers have told suppliers of medicines, medical devices and vaccines to stockpile six weeks’ worth at secure locations in the United Kingdom, the report added.

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How about his own government?

Australian MP Calls On Trump To Pardon Assange Before Leaving WH (RT)

Australian MP George Christensen called on Donald Trump to pardon WikiLeaks founder and fellow Australian citizen Julian Assange while he still can, as it seems to be the US president’s last month in the Oval Office. Christensen – a member of the Liberal National Party who represents Dawson, Queensland – launched a petition this week encouraging the president to pardon the journalist, who faces up to 175 years in prison for publishing classified material. Christensen also appeared on Sky News Australia to make his case. He told the network that Assange “has been a target of the Democrats,” noting that his persecution started under the administration of former president Barack Obama.

“I mean Hillary Clinton hates his guts, obviously, for exposing who the real Hillary was, and you’ve had a war on Assange by the Democrats and the deep state,” he claimed, pointing out that projected president-elect Joe Biden has called Assange a criminal and a “hi-tech terrorist.” The MP argued that a pardon is “one way that Donald Trump can stand up for free speech,” and against the Democratic establishment, and would also allow him to “poke the deep state in the eye.” At the center of the United States’ “great document of democracy that is the United States Constitution” is free speech and freedom of the press, Christensen declared, before concluding, “So I’m hoping that he will pardon Julian Assange. It’s the right thing to do.”

During his Sky News appearance, Christensen also sided with Trump’s allegations of 2020 election voter fraud, claiming that the Democrats have “successfully stolen an election from Donald Trump.” Also on Saturday, Stella Morris, Assange’s partner and the mother of his children, told the Australian government in her own Sky News Australia interview to “pick up the phone and speak to its closest allies” in order to get Assange freed.

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 122020
 


Laura Gilpin The Rio Grande Yields Its Surplus to the Sea 1947

 

UK Scientists Identify Drugs That May Help Severe COVID Cases (G.)
AstraZeneca To Collaborate With Russia’s Sputnik V On COVID19 Vaccine (RT)
FDA Authorizes Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine For Emergency Use (JTN)
More Than Half Of New York’s Restaurants Are In Danger Of Closing (Eater)
Gov. Cuomo Suspends Indoor Dining In New York City (Fox)
US Supreme Court Rejects Texas Challenge To Election (JTN)
Sometimes Life Really is Like a Bad Dream (Kunstler)
Media, Big Tech Hunter Biden Laptop Story Not A Bug, But A Feature (Malic)
The YouTube Ban Is Un-American, Wrong, and Will Backfire (Taibbi)
Pandemic Exposes Global Fault Lines And How Australia Rose Above Them (SMH)
CBO: Medicare for All Could Cover Everyone for $650 Billion Less Per Year (CD)
Email To Hunter Biden Raises Fresh Questions About His Tax Dealings (NBC)
£350,000 House Taken Off Market After Banksy Paints Mural On It (ArtN)

 

 

 

 

Promising. But I would focus on drugs that prevent infection. Ivermectin.

UK Scientists Identify Drugs That May Help Severe COVID Cases (G.)

The research, by the global Genetics of Mortality in Critical Care (GenOMICC) consortium, compared the DNA of 2,244 critically ill Covid patients from 208 UK intensive care units with the genetic make-up of healthy individuals in a control group. The analysis revealed key differences in five genes, named IFNAR2, TYK2, OAS1, DPP9 and CCR2, which partially explained why the sick patients became critically ill. Having identified the troublesome genes, the team was able to predict what drug treatments were likely to help. One drug that holds promise for future Covid treatment is a rheumatoid arthritis medicine called baricitinib. This reduces the activity of TYK2, which the research suggests will help reduce dangerous levels of inflammation in the lungs. Another is an antibody-based medicine that blocks CCR2 and is in clinical trials for psoriasis.

Beyond calming down the immune system, drugs may help invigorate the body’s ability to fight the virus. Some compounds are known to boost the activity of Ifnar2 and are likely to protect people from serious infections by mimicking proteins released by the immune system to fight viruses. However, these would probably need to be given early on to have a substantial impact, the scientists said. “This is a wonderful breakthrough, really, in understanding what causes the severe disease,” said Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London and a co-author on the study. The findings have been shared with groups around the world who are running clinical trials to assess whether drugs that are already in use for other conditions can help save patients with severe Covid-19 disease.

Baillie said that drugs highlighted by the research should now become the top priority for inclusion in clinical trials. “Making those choices really matters,” he said. “If we choose the right intervention to try next in clinical trials then we’ll find out that it works sooner and that could save tens of thousands of lives.” The study is published in Nature. People with Covid-19 tend to develop symptoms as the virus multiplies in their body, but those who die often succumb to excessive lung inflammation which is driven by the immune system. Doctors running Oxford University’s Recovery trial discovered in the summer that the cheap steroid dexamethasone slashed deaths among patients needing supplemental oxygen by up to a third, by damping down the immune system.

But more drugs are needed to help patients who do not respond to the steroid, Baillie said. “Two-thirds of them are still dying even treated with dexamethasone, so there’s a long way to go in preventing that inflammation, and we really urgently need new targets,” he said.

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“It remains to be seen how the Western media will cover the news that the UK’s flagship formula is turning to the East in a bid to improve its efficacy.”

AstraZeneca To Collaborate With Russia’s Sputnik V On COVID19 Vaccine (RT)

British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has announced a partnership with the team behind the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine to explore the potential of combining its own experimental formula with the pioneering Russian product. The agreement, revealed on Friday morning, came after the Russian scientists took to Twitter to propose that AstraZeneca try the combination. They said it was worth experimenting with the model preferred by Moscow researchers and using two different types of injection, rather than relying on the same one twice, as AstraZeneca has done previously. In a statement to the press, the British company unveiled “a clinical trial programme to assess the safety and immunogenicity of a combination of AZD1222, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and Sputnik V, developed by the Russian Gamaleya Research institute.”

They added that “combinations of different Covid-19 vaccines may be an important step in generating wider protection through a stronger immune response and better accessibility.” Responding to the news, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which financed the Gamaleya Institute’s research, wrote that it was “an example of Russia’s proactive approach: it has not only created one of the world’s most effective vaccines to date against the coronavirus, but is ready to share Sputnik V vectors with those willing to produce vaccines using the two-vector technology.” “This unique example of cooperation between scientists from different countries in jointly fighting coronavirus will play a decisive role in achieving a final victory over the pandemic globally,” Kirill Dmitriev, the fund’s CEO added, saying that Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is already saving people’s lives in Russia today through a large-scale vaccination programme.

“The decision by AstraZeneca to carry out clinical trials using one of two vectors of Sputnik V in order to increase its own vaccine’s efficacy is an important step towards uniting efforts in the fight against the pandemic.” [..] The UK media has previously drawn criticism for its coverage of Sputnik V. Earlier this week, the BBC reported that it had been “rushed out to wary Russians,” while remaining far more positive about the start of immunizations in the country using US pharma giant Pfizer’s vaccine. It remains to be seen how the Western media will cover the news that the UK’s flagship formula is turning to the East in a bid to improve its efficacy.

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Warp speed approval. But more research needs to be done on vitamin D?

FDA Authorizes Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine For Emergency Use (JTN)

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and authorized it for emergency use in the United States. It is the first vaccine to be approved for use in the U.S., and it followed an FDA advisory committee’s endorsement of the shot for people age 16 and older. The vaccine was found to be 95% effective, with only mild side effects. Earlier Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar had said that people could be receiving the vaccine as early as next Monday. It was previously approved for use in the United Kingdom and Canada. President Trump announced the approval on Twitter, thanking all the scientists and medical professionals who participated in the Operation Warp Speed project that gave rise to the fastest vaccine development in history.

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Remember yesterday’s quote:

“..communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted.”

More Than Half Of New York’s Restaurants Are In Danger Of Closing (Eater)

Across the country, restaurants have been decimated by the pandemic. But according to a new survey conducted by the New York State Restaurant Association, in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, New York restaurants are hurting more from the economic crisis in comparison to the industry nationwide. According to the survey — which polled 6,000 restaurant operators, including 238 in New York, over the last two weeks of November – 54 percent of NY restauranteurs say it is likely that they will close in the next six months if another federal relief package does not come through, compared to 37 percent nationwide. Nearly 60 percent of NY operators say they are considering going into hibernation until the pandemic is over, compared to 36 percent nationwide.


The operating landscape has been extremely tough for NYC restaurateurs throughout the pandemic. Restaurants in the city are currently operating at 25 percent indoor capacity with a 10 p.m. nightly curfew, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has warned that indoor dining could be completely banned starting next week. Overall, the National Restaurant Association estimates that one in six restaurants across the country have already permanently shuttered due to the economic crisis amid the pandemic. If the estimate is accurate, that would mean that 8,333 restaurants, including 4,500 establishments in NYC, have permanently shut down so far, according to the New York State Restaurant Association. However, the true number of restaurant closures during the pandemic may not be fully known for years.

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Warped logic:

“Just 1.43% of cases were traced to bars and restaurants. Cuomo said he opted to shutter indoor dining despite the relatively low proportion of cases because it was an area where officials “can actually make a difference..”

Gov. Cuomo Suspends Indoor Dining In New York City (Fox)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced that indoor dining would be shut down again in New York City, even as the state released contract-tracing data which showed bars and restaurants accounted for just 1.43% of COVID-19 cases in the three months ending in November. “Indoor dining will close in New York City starting Monday,” Cuomo announced, citing an increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. “Hospitalizations have not stabilized, and with a rising infection rate and NYC’s density, this means that indoor dining is too high of a risk,” he said. “Takeout, delivery and outdoor dining will continue.” Cuomo released a detailed breakdown of sources of COVID-19 exposure during a press briefing on Friday. The contact-tracing data was derived from a statewide analysis of 46,000 COVID-19 cases from September through November.

Private household and social gatherings were responsible for 73.84% of the cases statewide, while health care delivery accounted for 7.81% of cases and higher education accounted for slight more than 2%. Just 1.43% of cases were traced to bars and restaurants. Cuomo said he opted to shutter indoor dining despite the relatively low proportion of cases because it was an area where officials “can actually make a difference” in reducing COVID-19’s spread. But the decision drew immediate criticism from NYC restaurant groups, who have warned for months that Cuomo’s restrictions would cripple the industry. “While public health and safety must be paramount, Governor Cuomo’s announcement to once again shut down indoor dining in New York City is at odds with the State’s own data that’s been presented as driving these decisions, and it will be the last straw for countless more restaurants and jobs,” the NYC Hospitality Alliance said in a statement.

New York City was one of the hardest-hit areas of the country by the virus, and saw strict lockdowns that shuttered businesses, schools and restaurants. But in recent months the city has been taking baby-step attempts at reopening, with limited indoor dining and a few days of in-person schooling a week at some of the city’s public schools. New York City restaurants, which make up a key pillar of the city’s economy, were permitted to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity on Sept. 30 after months of being shut down, while schools have partially reopened this week after being shut down at the end of November.

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The sides are growing further apart, as the inevitable process continues. Curious. The 18 AGs who signed with Texas are now accused of sedition.

US Supreme Court Rejects Texas Challenge To Election (JTN)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday evening rejected the state of Texas’ challenge to the 2020 election results in four battleground states, extinguishing one of the last remaining hopes for President Trump’s campaign to reverse Joe Biden’s lead in those states. “The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution,” the justices ruled. “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.” Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissenting statement, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. “In my view, we do not have discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction,” Alito wrote. “…I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue.”

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“..yet another seditious conspiracy among the swamplings..”

Sometimes Life Really is Like a Bad Dream (Kunstler)

If you were President DJ Trump, would you suspect that the CIA might be playing dangerous games with you (and by extension, the nation)? Are you aware that China has a 75 percent investment stake in the holding company that now owns Dominion? Are there grounds to suppose that China somehow interfered in the election? With assistance from an eager Democratic Party and the CIA?Would Mr. Trump, of all people, let such a thing stand? Especially considering the evidence that the putative “winner” of the election, Joe Biden, the kid from Scranton, PA, was up to his eyeballs, with the rest of his family, in Chinese funny-money? (Not to mention money from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, and other lands?)

Note: information about this evidence gleaned from Hunter Biden’s forgotten laptop was deliberately suppressed in October by the major newspapers and cable news stations, with help from Facebook, Twitter, and Google, along with a claque of “fifty former and current intel officials” led John Brennan, who denounced the reports from The New York Post in a public letter as “Russian disinformation” — yet another seditious conspiracy among the swamplings. Are you aware that in the weeks since the election there have been unusual movements of US military aircraft around the country, including C-130 “Hercules” troop carrier planes? And that the navy has two carrier groups out along the Pacific Coast and three strung along the Atlantic coast? That’s what I hear. Remember, the president cleaned house at the top of the Pentagon this fall, and probably not for nothing.

Sounds like preparation for something… some extraordinary executive action to prevent the national security risk known as Joe Biden from being sworn-in as president — in the absence of anything else in a strictly constitutional way that would keep that from happening, like a Supreme Court decision that would order the rare passing on of the disputed 2020 election to the House of Representatives for resolution, with a strong statistical likelihood that the body would re-elect Mr. Trump. These are the sorts of things I imagine the Supreme Court justices might be palavering about and weighing over their sherry in the comfortable back room of their august clubhouse. There is, of course, the likelihood that such a momentous decision to send the vote to the House would provoke a violent, batshit crazy response from the Democratic Party’s street warriors, BLM and Antifa — thus the C-130 flights perhaps deploying troops around the country. This time, expect the Black Blocs to get their asses kicked, and swiftly. Expect also a mind-blowing raft of arrests of political celebrities on charges like treason. Does it sound like a bad dream? Yeah, kind of does. But there it is.

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“Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action,” as James Bond author Ian Fleming famously wrote. What would the 1600th time be?”

Media, Big Tech Hunter Biden Laptop Story Not A Bug, But A Feature (Malic)

For the past four years, the mainstream media has pushed the baseless ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory with absolute impunity, because it catered to the narrative by the Democrats about why they lost the 2016 election and served to delegitimize Trump. Every anonymous accusation, from the Steele Dossier and “Russian bounties” in Afghanistan to the Atlantic smear piece about Trump insulting US troops, was treated as gospel truth. Meanwhile, any attempt by the president to push back was denounced as an “attack” on free press. Yet these very same paladins of “our democracy” cheered when the New York Post was censored by Twitter, in an actual attack on free speech.

Never mind that the paper was founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton – whom Democrats now worship as some sort of hero, because of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s musical retcon of history – there was zero collegial solidarity on display. Less than that, even: you had Jake Tapper of CNN “helpfully” advising the Post to delete their “offending” tweet in order to “end the whole thing [in] 15 seconds.” Another CNN megastar, Christiane Amanpour, had once infamously attacked Trump for “delegitimizing the press” and insisted that “an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” But when it came to the Hunter Biden story, Amanpour was perfectly happy to let the New York Post rot in Big Tech jail.

Asked by a Republican guest why she wasn’t actually doing journalism when it came to the Biden laptop, Amanpour indignantly responded “we’re not going to do your work for you.” The Freudian slip suggested Amanpour and CNN were busy doing someone else’s work – and it should be obvious at this point who that is. If you’re still expecting an apology, explanation of soul-searching from the Big Tech and mainstream media, you’re either terminally naive or simply not paying attention. Look at how they’re covering the Hunter Biden story, now that they have no choice. The documents were “made public – but went largely unnoticed” prior to the election, says the Daily Beast, that most mainstream of tabloids.

Notice the passive voice, as if the documents didn’t go “unnoticed” only by their readers, because the Beast and its fellow-travelers deliberately refused to notice them. Mind you, the suppression of the Hunter Biden story is just the most blatant example of media misbehavior. The partisan slant, selective reporting and “fact-checking,” and downright lies by omission are legion at this point. “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action,” as James Bond author Ian Fleming famously wrote. What would the 1600th time be? Now consider that these are the very same media and Big Tech who declared Biden won the election fair and square, while dealing with any claims otherwise in the exact same manner as they did with the Hunter laptop story: label as “disinformation,” facetiously “fact-check” or censor outright.

They apparently believe they can dictate what Americans are allowed to say or think, and even determine reality itself. They believe they can get away with it because most people, even Republicans whining about how this is unfair, continue to implicitly accept this arrangement. After all, it’s one of those“forms to which they are accustomed.” I wouldn’t count on that being the state of affairs much longer, though. There appears to be a growing realization among Trump supporters that “if only the truth is told, everything will sort itself out” is a trope of 1980s Hollywood, and that the axis of mainstream media and Silicon Valley has no ethics beyond power. The end justifies the means, and the only morality is who/whom wields it. What happens to America if this realization reaches critical mass is anybody’s guess. God willing, there won’t be blood. Either way, the Axis of Deceit will have only itself to blame. Newton’s Third Law is as implacable in politics as it is in physics; the longer you trespass against reality, the harder it will push back.

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“..it will start to make sense that Trump voters in Guy Fawkes masks are now roaming the continent like buffalo.”

The YouTube Ban Is Un-American, Wrong, and Will Backfire (Taibbi)

Start with the headline: Supporting the 2020 U.S. Election. YouTube in its company blog can’t even say, “Banning Election Conspiracy Theories.” They have to employ the Orwellian language of politicians — Healthy Forests, Clear Skies, “Supported” Elections — because Google and YouTube are now political actors, who can’t speak plainly any more than a drunk can walk in a straight line. The company wrote Wednesday: “Yesterday was the safe-harbor deadline for the U.S. Presidential election and enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect. Given that, we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election… For example, we will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors.”

This announcement came down at roughly the same time Hunter Biden was announcing that his “tax affairs” were under investigation by the U.S. Attorney in Delaware. Part of that investigation concerned whether or not he had violated tax and money laundering laws in, as CNN put it, “foreign countries, principally China.” Information suggestive of money-laundering and tax issues in China and other countries was in the cache of emails reported in the New York Post story blocked by Twitter and Facebook. [..] How important was that Hunter Biden story? That’s debatable, but the fact that tech companies blocked it, and professional journalists gleefully lied about it, has a direct bearing on YouTube’s decision now to bar Trumpist freakouts over the election results.

If you want a population of people to stop thinking an election was stolen from them, it’s hard to think of a worse method than ordering a news blackout after it’s just been demonstrated that the last major blackout was a fraud. Close your eyes and imagine what would have happened if Facebook and Google had banned 9/11 Truth on the advice of intelligence officials in the Bush years, and it will start to make sense that Trump voters in Guy Fawkes masks are now roaming the continent like buffalo.

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“America will emerge from this coronavirus to discover what its national security experts already know. It has lost its power advantage over China.”

Pandemic Exposes Global Fault Lines And How Australia Rose Above Them (SMH)

Instead of the official projection of a worst-case scenario of 150,000 dead, Australia has suffered 908 deaths in the pandemic to date. Every country, every state faced the same fateful moment of awesome responsibility and awful choice. The pandemic struck the countries of the world like an avenging angel, wreaking havoc on the unready and the uncaring, the slothful and the prideful, and re-ordered the world. After an uncertain start, Australia ultimately made the right choices. Its leaders, yes, but also its people. The pandemic was a severe test of leadership, and of nation-state capability, but also of social cohesion and public culture. The whole of the people had to accept some personal inconvenience for the common good. In successful countries they did; in failed ones they did not.

And the countries that met the public health test had a much better chance of meeting the economic test. Australia’s responses have elevated it into a small elite of competent countries. “Our system has performed impressively and that puts a spring in your step and makes other countries interested in you,” says the director of the Lowy Institute, Michael Fullilove. “And that’s a positive. The prestige of smaller, well governed countries has risen, mainly in our part of the world – Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, South Korea, Australia.” The most dramatic effects have been in the biggest powers. “Nations cohere and flourish on the belief that their institutions can foresee calamity, arrest its impact and restore stability,” Henry Kissinger said in April. “When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, many countries’ institutions will be perceived as having failed.”

One of the foremost, shockingly, is the United States itself. The virus exposed its divided political system as not just an entertaining foible but as a deep national liability. Political division paralysed policy. In many countries politics is regarded as a sport, a game. In a crisis, we now learn, politics literally is a matter of life and death for the people and of national destiny for the country. Even today, nine months on, the US cannot agree to stop the needless mass death nor agree on fiscal policy. With the daily death toll outstripping the 9/11 count, the US Congress remains deadlocked in negotiations for a second economic stimulus. It negotiates, sometimes month to month, sometimes week to week, the funding to “keep the government open”. The asinine has become the norm.

The US President is surrounded by men with guns for his protection. But they cannot defend against bovine stupidity and political obduracy. The President caught the virus. Donald Trump bears responsibility for his negligence. The pandemic spelt the end of his presidency. But he is the inheritor of America’s deepening crisis of overpoliticisation, not its author. America will emerge from this coronavirus to discover what its national security experts already know. It has lost its power advantage over China. They are not equal in every way, but China is now America’s peer. And its rival. The US is a much diminished power.

Read more …

Problem solved?!

CBO: Medicare for All Could Cover Everyone for $650 Billion Less Per Year (CD)

The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday released a report examining the costs associated with universal healthcare proposals that are based on Medicare’s fee-for-service program and found that implementing a single-payer health insurance program in the United States would not only guarantee coverage for every person in the country but would also reduce overall healthcare spending nationwide. In the words of researcher Matt Bruenig—founder and president of the progressive think tank People’s Policy Project who called the CBO’s working paper (pdf) on the topic “more exhaustive than any other recent study on the subject”—the new analysis shows that administrative costs under a single-payer healthcare system “will be lower than what even the most rabid Medicare for All supporters have traditionally claimed.”

According to Bruenig, “Modeling the cost of a single-payer program is relatively straightforward. You begin with the status quo healthcare system and then make educated guesses about the following questions: • How many more units of healthcare services will be demanded and supplied when price barriers are removed? • How much more efficient will health insurance administration be after the enrollment and payment systems are radically simplified? • How much money will be saved by reducing the payment rates for healthcare providers and drug companies? In its analysis, the CBO looked at several distinct single-payer designs and determined that four such systems—fully implemented by 2030—would save anywhere from $42 billion to $743 billion that year alone.

Bruenig explained that the CBO option that most closely resembles current Medicare for All proposals is the one based on low payment rates and low cost sharing, which would generate $650 billion in savings in 2030. If one were to add long-term support and services to that option, as many current Medicare for All proposals do, savings would fall to about $300 billion, he noted.

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First they all bury the story, and now even NBC is after Hunter? ¿Qué pasa?

Email To Hunter Biden Raises Fresh Questions About His Tax Dealings (NBC)

Hunter Biden’s former business partner sent him an email in 2017 saying he did not disclose on his tax returns $400,000 in income from the Ukrainian natural gas company where he sat on the board, according to a copy of the email obtained by NBC News. The message from Eric Schwerin, then president of Rosemont Seneca Partners, says Hunter Biden would need to “amend” his 2014 returns to reflect the “unreported” income, according to the copy of the email. “In 2014 you joined the Burisma board and we still need to amend your 2014 returns to reflect the unreported Burisma income,” says the email dated Jan. 16, 2017. The email goes on to note that Hunter Biden, who is now the subject of a federal tax probe, netted more than $1.2 million for the year.


The earnings include the $400,000 from Burisma as well as income from Rosemont Seneca Advisors and a legal firm. The email was made available by Rudy Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello. Costello has said he was given a copy of one of Hunter Biden’s hard drives from the owner of a computer repair shop in Delaware. NBC News did not have access to the full drive. It is not known what, if any, action Hunter Biden took in response to the email. Federal prosecutors in Delaware are scrutinizing Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China as part of a tax probe that began in 2018, according to a source familiar with the inquiry. There’s no indication that his work for the Burisma national gas company is part of the investigation, but the email obtained by NBC News raises fresh questions about Hunter Biden’s tax affairs.

Read more …

Was this the steepest street in Britain?

£350,000 House Taken Off Market After Banksy Paints Mural On It (ArtN)

What do you do when your two-bed semi detached house that you are selling for £345,000 becomes the site of a world-famous work of art overnight? That is the conundrum now facing the Makin family whose Bristol home was adorned with a Banksy mural in the early hours of Thursday morning. Alex Makin, whose mother owns the house, tells The Art Newspaper the family is taking the property off the market while it considers its next steps. “The main thing is to try and protect the work because it’s such an iconic piece—a) because it’s Banksy and b) because of the year, it’s Covid-related,” Makin says of the work, which shows an older woman sneezing with such force her dentures have been catapulted out of her mouth. Within hours of the work being painted, Makin had the mural covered with a Perspex sheet.


He adds: “We’re not really sure what we’re going to do at the moment. It would be an amazing thing to keep in the family, but we also want to make sure it is properly protected. It’s been a fairly tough year for my mum, so this feels like a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.” Banksy’s pieces have been known to double the price of a property, while one art market specialist valued this latest piece at £3m-£5m in The Sun newspaper. However, Robert Pain, the client director of Bristol estate agents NEXA, offers a more cautionary valuation. “It’s a conundrum, though a wonderful conundrum to have: everyone wants a Banksy on their wall but does it alter what the bricks and mortar are worth?” he asks. “Ultimately, is it a work of art on brick, potentially worth a million. If so, do you remove it and spend £60,000 rebuilding the wall?”

Read more …

 

 

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Street corner in Athens.

 

 

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Nov 272020
 


Max Ernst Santa Conversazione 1921

 

Total COVID19 Cases In US May Be Eight Times Higher Than Reported (F.)
New Study Highlights Alleged Accounting Error Regarding COVID Deaths (AIER)
Want To Make Your Vax More Effective? Add A Shot Of Sputnik V (RT)
5 More Ways Joe Biden Magically Outperformed Election Norms (Fed.)
The Most Predictable Election Fraud Backlash Ever (Tracey)
Sidney Powell: Poll Workers Altered Large Numbers Of Michigan Ballots (JTN)
DC’s Corrupted Legislative Process (sundance)
Yanis Varoufakis Calls For Black Friday Boycott Of Amazon (G.)
Poland, Hungary Moving Deeper Into Isolation In EU – Senior EU Diplomat (R.)
Trump Must Pardon Snowden & Assange – Tulsi Gabbard (RT)
Assange Partner In Twitter Appeal For Trump To Issue Pardon (ES)

 

 

Close the schools?

 

 

Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch on Cuomo closing churches

 

 

“..nearly 53 million people in the U.S. had been infected with Covid-19 by the end of September.”

Total COVID19 Cases In US May Be Eight Times Higher Than Reported (F.)

The actual number of Covid-19 infections in the U.S. could be about eight times as much as the total reported cases, a model created by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated. The model published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests that nearly 53 million people in the U.S. had been infected with Covid-19 by the end of September. The estimate is around eight times higher than the 7.1 million confirmed cases that had been reported back then. The model tries to account for the fact that most cases of Covid-19 are mild and therefore go unreported. The scientists, however, warned that by the end of September, 84% of the U.S. population had not been infected and was still at risk of catching the disease.


If the trend of unreported cases still holds true as of Thursday, the U.S. — which has 12.5 million confirmed cases — could be approaching 100 million total infections across the country. In October, the World Health Organisation had said that nearly 10% of the world population or nearly 760 million people may have already been infected with Covid-19, despite the fact that only 35 million confirmed cases had been recorded as of that time. “When you count anything, you can’t count it perfectly,” Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, had said back then adding, “But I can assure you that the current numbers are likely an underestimate of the true toll of Covid.” Scientists have also suggested that deaths due to the pandemic have also been severely undercounted, with the CDC stating that the U.S. had recorded nearly 300,000 excess deaths during the pandemic as of October 3. This number was nearly 100,000 deaths more than what had been officially recorded by the states.

Read more …

“These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.”

New Study Highlights Alleged Accounting Error Regarding Covid Deaths (AIER)

It is already well established that Covid-19 is a disease that is most dangerous to those over the age of 65 and who have preexisting conditions. In the United States, there has been an observed 2.1% mortality rate, with elderly individuals making up over half that number. Young and healthy people are not by any significant capacity threatened by Covid-19. One of the most important factors when it comes to Covid-19 is preventing excess death. According to the CDC, “Estimates of excess deaths can provide information about the burden of mortality potentially related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including deaths that are directly or indirectly attributed to COVID-19. Excess deaths are typically defined as the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths in the same time periods.”

Essentially, there is an average number of deaths every year due to a variety of causes that for the most part have remained constant through the years. This includes morbidities such as heart disease, which has long been the leading cause of death, and cancer, which has long plagued our existence. For Covid-19 to be a serious cause of alarm, it would need to significantly increase the number of average deaths. However, according to the study, “These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.” Total deaths in the United States show no significant change and even mirror past trends of seasonal illness.

[..] What is even more interesting if not more alarming is that the spike in recorded Covid-19 deaths seen in 2020 has coincided with a proportional decrease in death from other diseases. Yanni Gu writes “This suggests, according to Briand, that the COVID-19 death toll is misleading. Briand believes that deaths due to heart diseases, respiratory diseases, influenza and pneumonia may instead be recategorized as being due to COVID-19.” Deaths have remained relatively constant, yet reported deaths due to deadly conditions such as heart disease have fallen while reported Covid deaths have risen. This suggests that the current Covid death count is in some capacity relabeled deaths due to other ailments. According to the graph, reported Covid deaths even overtook heart disease as the main cause of death at one point, which should raise suspicion.

Read more …

And why not?

Want To Make Your Vax More Effective? Add A Shot Of Sputnik V (RT)

Responding to the news of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab facing a new set of trials, the developers of the pioneering Russian Sputnik V vaccine have suggested combining the two vaccines to drastically improve AstraZeneca’s efficacy. The idea appeared on the official Twitter page of the Sputnik V vaccine, which is financed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), on Thursday. “We suggest trying a regimen of combining the AZ shot with the #SputnikV human adenoviral vector shot to boost efficacy,” said the message, referring to AstraZeneca’s published trial results.

The offer follows comments from AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot to Bloomberg on Thursday, who admitted the company will have to “do an additional study” before its vaccine is ready, given that its trials have resulted in varying efficacy, depending on the dose. Despite a number of unexplained inconsistencies during the trials, on Monday AstraZeneca said it would seek emergency authorization for its coronavirus vaccine. With the British-Swedish developer rushing to roll out an inoculation, RT on Wednesday compiled a list of seven questions for AstraZeneca, asking the company to dispel doubts about the safety and efficacy of its jab.

Read more …

“Joe Biden achieved the impossible. It’s interesting that many more journalists aren’t pointing that out.”

5 More Ways Joe Biden Magically Outperformed Election Norms (Fed.)

In all the excitement among objective journalists for Joe Biden’s declared victory, reporters are missing how extraordinary the Democrat’s performance was in the 2020 election. It’s not just that the former vice president is on track to become the oldest president in American history, it’s what he managed to accomplish at the polls this year. Candidate Joe Biden was so effective at animating voters in 2020 that he received a record number of votes, more than 15 million more than Barack Obama received in his re-election of 2012. Amazingly, he managed to secure victory while also losing in almost every bellwether county across the country. No presidential candidate has been capable of such electoral jujitsu until now. While Biden underperformed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 totals in every urban county in the United States, he outperformed her in the metropolitan areas of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

Even more surprising, the former VP put up a record haul of votes, despite Democrats’ general failures in local House and state legislative seats across the nation. He accomplished all this after receiving a record low share of the primary vote compared to his Republican opponent heading into the general election. Clearly, these are tremendous and unexpected achievements that would normally receive sophisticated analysis from the journalist class but have somehow gone mostly unmentioned during the celebrations at news studios in New York City and Washington, D.C. The massive national political realignment now taking place may be one source of these surprising upsets. Yet still, to have pulled so many rabbits out of his hat like this, nobody can deny that Biden is a first-rate campaigner and politician, the likes of which America has never before seen.

[..] 5. Biden Overcame Trump’s Commanding Primary Vote
In the past, primary vote totals have been remarkably accurate in predicting general election winners. Political analyst David Chapman highlighted three historical facts before the election. First, no incumbent who has received 75 percent of the total primary vote has lost re-election. Second, President Trump received 94 percent of the primary vote, which is the fourth highest of all time (higher than Dwight Eisenhower, Nixon, Clinton, or Obama). In fact, Trump is only one of five incumbents since 1912 to receive more than 90 percent of the primary vote. Third, Trump set a record for most primary votes received by an incumbent when more than 18 million people turned out for him in 2020 (the previous record, held by Bill Clinton, was half that number). For Biden to prevail in the general election, despite Trump’s historic support in the primaries, turns a century’s worth of prior election data on its head. Joe Biden achieved the impossible. It’s interesting that many more journalists aren’t pointing that out.

Read more …

“..a desperate woman screaming from a balcony at the top of her lungs, “You just gave us Hitler,” before being escorted out by police.”

The Most Predictable Election Fraud Backlash Ever (Tracey)

Anyone who was remotely sentient during the aftermath of the 2016 election should be the furthest thing from surprised that the frenzy of that period has now been replicated in the aftermath of the 2020 election, albeit with a different partisan and temperamental hue. I attended the official meeting of the Electoral College in Harrisburg, PA — December 2016 — and it was quite a mind-melting experience. Once an uneventful formality that hardly anyone except hardcore obsessives even knew was happening, the actual convening of the Electoral College had become an object of national fascination.

Protesters, egged on by Democratic-affiliated advocacy groups and frenetic social media campaigns, had shown up at the State Capitol to berate Pennsylvania’s Republican electors and demand that they not vote to certify the state’s popular vote outcome for Donald Trump — on the ground that Trump had committed “treason,” and therefore posed such a dire national security threat that centuries of precedent should be summarily thrown out the window in order to block his assumption of office. The precise nature of this alleged “treason” was seldom clarified. It sufficed that they’d been given the impression of some nebulously treasonous activity through a series of Intelligence Community leaks, dutifully laundered as always through the corporate media, which by then was in a hair-on-fire tailspin over Trump’s victory.

The bid to interfere in the Electoral College process that year, and deprive Trump of the presidency through extra-legal means, obviously failed. But it gained enough elite support along the way to be highly notable, especially given how extreme the proposed remedy was (simply ignore popular vote outcomes in various states and block Trump on the basis of CIA rumors.) Top media figures, academics, and activists like Peter Beinart, Larry Lessig, Michael Moore, Paul Krugman, and DeRay McKesson joined the haphazard putsch effort. TV stars like Martin Sheen and Bob Odenkirk recorded impassioned video pleas arguing for electors to subvert the expressed will of voters.

John Podesta, the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman whose Gmail account was reputed to have been successfully “phished” by fearsome Russian “hackers,” issued a statement demanding that electors be granted an unheard-of “intelligence briefing” — with the implication for what should be done with that “briefing” information too obvious to need stating outright. The meeting in Harrisburg concluded with the expected affirmation of Trump’s win — followed by a desperate woman screaming from a balcony at the top of her lungs, “You just gave us Hitler,” before being escorted out by police.

Read more …

Wonder what the courts are going to say. The spelling errors don’t make the cases more compelling. But this is not a spelling bee.

Sidney Powell: Poll Workers Altered Large Numbers Of Michigan Ballots (JTN)

Prominent defense attorney Sidney Powell is asking a federal court to block the certification of Michigan’s election results or void the entire election, alleging there was widespread efforts by poll workers in Detroit and elsewhere to falsify, double-count or discard ballots. “Election workers illegally forged, added, removed or otherwise altered information on ballots, the Qualified Voter File and Other Voting Records,” Powell’s lawsuit filed late Wednesday and made public on Thanksgiving Day alleged. The suit named Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the state board of canvassers as defendants, alleging they created an election system on Nov. 3 that enabled widespread fraud and violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

“Defendants’ egregious misconduct has included ignoring legislative mandates concerning mail-in ballots– including the mandate that mail-in ballots be post-marked on or before Election Day — and critically, preventing Plaintiff’s poll watchers from observing the receipt, review, opening, and tabulation of mail-in ballots,” the suit said. “It is necessary to order appropriate relief, including, but not limited to, enjoining the certification of the election results pending a full investigation and court hearing, ordering a recount of the election results, or voiding the election and ordering a new election, to remedy the fraud,” Powell wrote in a lawsuit filed late Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit and made public on Thanksgiving.

Powell’s lawsuit in Michigan carried some similar claims as one she filed at the same time in Atlanta to challenge Georgia’s results. But in the Michigan case, she offered evidence from a large number of witnesses who alleged in Wayne County and the city of Detroit tens of thousands of voting irregularities were witnessed. She charged that Detroit and Wayne County officials took actions “permitting illegal double voting by persons that had voted by absentee ballot and in person; counting ineligible ballots – and in many cases – multiple times; counting ballots without signatures, or without attempting to match signatures, and ballots without postmarks, pursuant to direct instructions from Defendants.”

Read more …

Hardly anybody knows.

DC’s Corrupted Legislative Process (sundance)

CTH often describes the background DC motives with the phrase: “There are Trillions at Stake.” Here we take a look at what that really means, and how DC politics is not quite based on the ideas that frame many reference points. With people taking notice of DC politics for the first time; and with people not as familiar with the purpose of DC politics; we end up within two different references. Perhaps it is valuable to reset the larger frames of reference and provide clarity. Most people think when they vote for a federal politician -a House or Senate representative- they are voting for a person who will go to Washington DC and write or enact legislation. This is the old-fashioned “schoolhouse rock” perspective based on decades past. There is not a single person in congress writing legislation or laws.


In modern politics not a single member of the House of Representatives or Senator writes a law, or puts pen to paper to write out a legislative construct. This simply doesn’t happen. Over the past several decades a system of constructing legislation has taken over Washington DC that more resembles a business operation than a legislative body. Understand this dynamic and you understand how politicians become multi-millionaires on much lesser salaries; and why ‘We The People’ are insignificant and annoying gnats to their business model. Here’s how it works right now. Outside groups, often called “special interest groups”, are entities that represent their interests in legislative constructs.

These groups are often representing foreign governments, Wall Street multinational corporations, banks, financial groups or businesses; or smaller groups of people with a similar connection who come together and form a larger group under an umbrella of interest specific to their affiliation. Sometimes the groups are social interest groups; activists, climate groups, environmental interests etc. The social interest groups are usually non-profit constructs who depend on the expenditures of government to sustain their cause or need. The for-profit groups (mostly business) have a purpose in Washington DC to shape policy, legislation and laws favorable to their interests. They have fully staffed offices just like any business would – only their ‘business‘ is getting legislation for their unique interests. These groups are filled with highly-paid lawyers who represent the interests of the entity and actually write laws and legislation briefs.

Read more …

Bezos just grins.

Yanis Varoufakis Calls For Black Friday Boycott Of Amazon (G.)

The economist Yanis Varoufakis has called for a one-day boycott of Amazon on Black Friday as trade unionists, environmental activists, privacy campaigners and tax justice advocates plan coordinated actions against the company’s sites and supply chain. Amazon’s success during the coronavirus pandemic – at one point the company was reported to be making sales of $11,000 (£8,200) a second – has vastly inflated its share price, increasing the personal wealth of its chief executive, Jeff Bezos, already the world’s richest man, by $70bn. Bloomberg estimates his current wealth to be $187bn. In an online video, Varoufakis asks viewers “not even to visit” Amazon’s website on Black Friday – the retail industry’s most profitable day of the year – which falls on 27 November this year.


“By boycotting Amazon you will be adding your strength to an international coalition of workers and activists,” he said. “Amazon is not a mere company. It is not merely a monopolistic mega-firm. It is far more, and far worse, than that. It is the pillar of a new techno-feudalism.” Under a banner of “make Amazon pay”, Friday’s actions are intended as the start of a campaign against the retailer’s record on workers’ rights, environmental impact, tax avoidance, work with police and immigration authorities, and what activists say are invasions of privacy via its growing range of internet-connected devices. The campaign is co-convened by Progressive International, a global initiative bringing together progressive leftwing groups, politicians and intellectuals, including Varoufakis, Prof Noam Chomsky and Bernie Sanders, and UNI Global, a trade union federation representing 20 million workers including the UK’s GMB union.

Read more …

Their voices don’t count.

Poland, Hungary Moving Deeper Into Isolation In EU – Senior EU Diplomat (R.)

Poland and Hungary are moving deeper into isolation in the 27-nation European Union by blocking the EU’s 2021-2027 budget and recovery fund needed to pull the EU out of a recession caused by the COVIOD-19 pandemic, a senior EU diplomat said on Thursday. Warsaw and Budapest have vetoed the bloc’s 1.8 trillion euro financial package for 2021-2027 because it links access to the money with an obligation to respect the rule of law. Both capitals are under EU investigation for not respecting it. Earlier on Thursday, Polish and Hungarian prime ministers jointly repeated their objection to the rule of law condition, digging in their heels as the bloc seeks to unwind the deadlock. “It is clear that there is absolutely no support for reopening the conditionality mechanism in the European Parliament or in the Council,” the senior diplomat said. “With their statement Poland and Hungary are moving deeper and deeper into isolation,” the diplomat said.

Read more …

“..please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state..”

Trump Must Pardon Snowden & Assange – Tulsi Gabbard (RT)

Outgoing Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has urged President Donald Trump to issue pardons for Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, echoing growing calls to absolve whistleblowers who helped to “expose” the US “deep state.” “Since you’re giving pardons to people, please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state,” Gabbard said in a tweet addressed to the president on Thursday, referring to Snowden and Assange. The request comes less than a day after Trump granted a pardon for former national security adviser Michael Flynn. His case became a central plank in the Trump-Russia “collusion” narrative after he was accused of misleading investigators about contacts with a Russian diplomat following Trump’s election win in 2016.

While the Justice Department moved to have the case thrown out, citing misconduct in the FBI’s probe, a federal judge resisted that effort, prompting the president to intervene on Wednesday. Gabbard, who’s set to leave office at the end of her congressional term, previously introduced a resolution alongside GOP lawmaker Matt Gaetz (Florida) urging the government to drop its charges against Snowden – who was indicted under the World War I-era Espionage Act for his role in leaking classified material revealing illegal mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). Though the antiquated law was originally intended to prosecute foreign spies, it has been repeatedly wielded against journalists and whistleblowers.

Snowden himself weighed in later on Thursday, saying he had “seen more calls for pardon this year than in all others combined.” No other issue in our time unites left, right, and center like the struggle to end governments’ abuse of mass surveillance and secrecy. The Libertarian Party echoed the message, noting that Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie has publicly backed the pardons as well, while journalist Glenn Greenwald argued that nothing would “shape Trump’s legacy” better than a reprieve for the two whistleblowers. Snowden approached Greenwald after making off with a massive trove of classified documents in 2013 while working as an NSA subcontractor under Booz Allen Hamilton. Fearing prosecution, he fled the US, hoping to secure asylum in Latin America, but was stranded in Russia after his passport was revoked by US authorities. He has remained there since, where he has been granted permanent residency status after seven years in legal limbo.

Read more …

A cousin of Assange was just freed in Iran. What Australia did for her, they should also do for Juliann.

Assange Partner In Twitter Appeal For Trump To Issue Pardon (ES)

Julian Assange’s partner has appealed to US President Donald Trump to pardon him. Stella Moris used Thanksgiving Day to issue a plea to the president after he pardoned ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn. Ms Moris made a personal plea to Mr Trump through Twitter, saying it was the only channel he seems to value. Including a picture of her and Mr Assange’s two children, she tweeted: “These are Julian’s sons Max and Gabriel. They need their father. Our family needs to be whole again. I beg you, please bring him home for Christmas.” She also said that Mr Assange was a cousin of Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer at Melbourne University who was reportedly released from an Iranian jail yesterday following two years in detention.


On Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release, she said: “Like Julian, Kylie was charged in a bogus espionage case. She was tried in secret and convicted to 10 years. She spent two years in Iran’s most notorious prisons. There has barely been news about her case, other than letters smuggled from prison. “Julian has petitioned Iran’s leaders to release her earlier this year. I told Julian the news over the phone. He wants to express his gratitude to Australian and UK diplomats for securing her freedom.” She that said that 49 inmates and 15 staff on his wing at Belmarsh prison in London had now tested positive for coronavirus, while he has tested negative. Mr Assange is reportedly been let out of quarantine since the outbreak, along with others who have tested negative. A Prison Service spokesman said: “We’ve introduced further safety measures following a number of positive cases.”

Read more …

 

 

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JFK

 

 

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Nov 252020
 
 November 25, 2020  Posted by at 6:41 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  17 Responses »


Willem de Kooning Door to the river 1960

 

 

While I’m trying to read my way into the world of vaccines, not my field at all, I think the logical/philosophical implications should be clear: the model for doing medicine in a global pandemic must of necessity be global cooperation. But we apparently are not capable of that (anymore). Because the pandemic must be mined for profit.

Not so much for the AstraZenaca/Oxford vaccine, which is produced in a not-for-profit capacity, or the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, but certainly for the Pfizer and Moderna ones. We should just refuse those, but we’re -told we are- desperate, and they know it.

So it’s politics and profit that determine the world of vaccines. What a sorrowful state of affairs. And that’s not even the worst of it. Far from it. With vaccines -that we know of- being developed in Cuba (4x), China, Russia (2x), West (multiple), etc., maybe we can have the luxury of choosing the ones that do the least harm?

Well, there’s a trap door hidden somewhere in there. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a whole new (revolutionary!) technique to produce vaccines. Some people even refuse to call them vaccines because of this. Vaccines as we -used to- know them were based on taking a harmless strand of a virus/bacteria and using it to urge your immune system to produce antibodies.

mRNA (messengerRNA) is very different. Here, it’s a synthetic, artificial entity designed to be injected into your cells to provoke certain reactions. And in the case of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccines, it’s basically entirely untested.

They intend to ship out billions of doses of their vaccines, which would essentially create billions of human guinea pigs. The risk is not so much short term, the only thing they would have to provide evidence for, it’s long term, for which they do not. What is that risk? We don’t know, it’s never been tested.

The problem seems obvious: once more people begin to understand this, more people will refuse to be inoculated with these “vaccines”. But then “authorities” will demand you take them to fly/move/just go outside? I don’t see it. What I see is human guinea pigs. And why, if there are other non-mRNA vaccines about to come forward? Money will cure the pandemic? The South China Morning Post had this today:

Pfizer-BioNTech Says Final Analysis Shows Vaccine 95% Effective

A major milestone in the race for a vaccine to counter Covid-19 was reached on Wednesday, when the first vaccine developers to complete phase 3 trials announced results in what has been the fastest vaccine development in history.[..]

Getting enough doses out to the world will take time, coordination and infrastructure. Pfizer and BioNTech have said they could produce 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021. Several hundred million doses are already booked by major economies like the US and EU. Each immunisation requires two doses and there is an additional hurdle – they need to be transported and stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit). All told, leading vaccine makers have projected that some 16 billion doses could be made next year..

Pfizer and BioNTech announced results after their trial reached a planned end point of 170 infections of Covid-19 among their nearly 44,000 participants. Of the cases, 162 were observed in the placebo group, while there were eight cases among those who had received the vaccine candidate, BNT162b2. The efficacy rate of 95 per cent was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics, the companies said. Notably, the observed efficacy for adults over 65 years of age was over 94 per cent, an important marker for a group whose Covid-19 mortality rate far exceeds younger age groups.

But that makes no mention of the development method, or the risks involved. Which could be huge. I mean, it’s fine to say we need a lot of vaccine doses, and fast, but with AstraZeneca promising 2 billion in 2021, and Russia 1 billion, and China 1 billion or so as well, what exactly is the risk/reward ratio here? Why splurge into mRNA vaccines if you don’t have to? Is it just profit driven? When so many people are dying?

 

Here’s a bit from an Automatic Earth comments section yesterday. Commenter “upstateNYer” said:

I’m not yet clear on how “the scientists” made sure this mRNA hijacker will quit forcing my cells to produce stuff once its demands are met. Does anyone here with medical knowledge understand how it’s guaranteed that the mRNA strands don’t get just a bit power hungry and take over more than initially agreed upon?

In reaction to which, commenter Doc Robinson cited a Jerusalem Post article from November 17:

Could mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Be Dangerous In The Long Term?

[..] the fact remains that if Pfizer succeeds – or Moderna, with whom Israel also has a contract – these will be the first-ever messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines brought to market for human patients. In order to receive Food and Drug Administration approval, the companies will have to prove there are no immediate or short-term negative health effects from taking the vaccines. But when the world begins inoculating itself with these completely new and revolutionary vaccines, it will know virtually nothing about their long-term effects.


When Moderna was just finishing its Phase I trial, The Independent wrote about the vaccine and described it this way: “It uses a sequence of genetic RNA material produced in a lab that, when injected into your body, must invade your cells and hijack your cells’ protein-making machinery called ribosomes to produce the viral components that subsequently train your immune system to fight the virus.”

Doc Robinson on the potential risks:

1. the bio-distribution and persistence of the induced immunogen expression
[spreading throughout the body and lasting longer than intended]

2. possible development of auto-reactive antibodies
[potentially leading to auto-immune conditions]

3. toxic effects of any non-native nucleotides and delivery system components.
[such as from nanoparticles and potential allergens like polyethylene glycol (PEG)]

“There is a race to get the public vaccinated, so we are willing to take more risks… But he acknowledged that there are unique and unknown risks to messenger RNA vaccines, including local and systemic inflammatory responses that could lead to autoimmune conditions.


An article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the National Institutes of Health, said other risks include the bio-distribution and persistence of the induced immunogen expression; possible development of auto-reactive antibodies; and toxic effects of any non-native nucleotides and delivery system components.

And then there was this Reuters article from October 29:

Doc Robinson:

The vaccines being developed by Russia, J&J and CanSino use a human adenovirus platform, which is a proven technology used in Ebola vaccines and cancer treatments. The other frontrunners are “based on new, largely unproven technology platforms designed to produce vaccines at speed.” Other vaccine candidates using more conventional approaches won’t have late-stage trial results until sometime in 2021. I am going to avoid mRNA vaccines like the plague, and wait and see whether the conventional approaches produce anything with a good track record and minimal risk.

Next Crop of COVID-19 Vaccine Developers Take More Traditional Route

Many leading candidates now in final-stage testing are based on new, largely unproven technology platforms designed to produce vaccines at speed. They include messenger RNA (mRNA) technology used by Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc with partner BioNTech SE, and inactivated cold virus platforms used by Oxford University/AstraZeneca Plc, Johnson & Johnson and CanSino Biologics, whose vaccine has been approved for military use in China.

Merck & Co in September started testing a COVID-19 vaccine based on a weakened measles virus that delivers genes from the new coronavirus into the body to stimulate an immune response to the coronavirus. Of these, only the technology offered by J&J and CanSino that use [human] cold viruses as vectors to deliver coronavirus genetic material have ever produced a licensed vaccine – for Ebola. [The Russian vaccine also uses this technology.]

The next set of candidates – with late-stage trial results expected in the first half of 2021 – are heavily skewed toward approaches that have produced successful vaccines. Conventional methods include using a killed or inactivated version of the pathogen that causes a disease to provoke an immune response, such as those used to make flu, polio and rabies vaccines. Also more common are protein-based vaccines that use purified pieces of the virus to spur an immune response. Vaccines against whooping cough, or pertussis, and shingles employ this approach.

I don’t know about you, but this scares the heebees out of me. If given the choice, I’d much rather not be a guinea pig for some Big Pharma experiment. There have been in our past very succesful vaccines, and I would maybe list penicilline in that list, but certainly Jonas Salk’s 1955 polio vaccine, off which nobody got rich, and it feels just completely crazy to now exploit a pandemic for profit. It’s just wrong.

Maybe COVID19 is not our biggest problem? Maybe our own mindset is? If we can no longer work with Russia and China on global issues, but we instead turn to large corporations to solve them for us for profit, we have already conceded defeat? Our own defeat?!

I don’t like the smell of this. Be careful out there. Don’t volunteer to be a human guinea pig just so you can fly a plane, or walk outside.

 

 

 

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Nov 252020
 
 November 25, 2020  Posted by at 10:02 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  18 Responses »


Willem de Kooning Police Gazette 1955

 

Over 1 Billion Doses Of Russia’s COVID Vaccine Expected In 2021 (RT)
As A Doctor, People Ask Me If It’s Safe To Take A New Covid Vaccine (RT)
Could mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Be Dangerous In The Long Term? (JP)
Short Term, High-Dose Vitamin D Supplementation For COVID-19 (BMJ)
UPS Stepping Up Dry Ice Production, Freezers For Vaccines (Y!)
Dragon Flies, Eagle Crashes At Geoeconomic Summits (Escobar)
Biden Climate Envoy John Kerry Is A Lifelong Joke (NYP)
Pompeo Spells Out New Normal: All Criticism Of Israel Is ‘Antisemitic’ (Cook)
The Trump Administration May Privatize Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac (MW)
The Five-Day Christmas COVID Bubble: How Will It Work? (G.)

 

 

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on mRNA technique. AstraZeneca/Oxford’s, and Russian vaccine Sputnik V, use traditional technique. They are also much cheaper. AstraZeneca was developed as a not-for-profit. Russia wants theirs to be cheap. But the EU has banned the Russian vaccine, though it could be the best, because: Russia!

AstraZeneca has said they will produce 2 billion vaccine doses in 2021, Russia 1 billion. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have already made people billionaires even before production. Why use mRNA vaccines anyway? Money.

 

 

But RussiaRussia! Hungary wanted to try it, and the EU said: no! Like a global pandemic doesn’t need a global answer.

Over 1 Billion Doses Of Russia’s COVID Vaccine Expected In 2021 (RT)

More than 500 million people will be able to take the pioneering Russian Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus next year. Its developers say the two-shot jab will be sold cheaper than those of its foreign competitors. The drug will be produced not only in Russia but also by “leading foreign pharmaceutical companies” who agreed to cooperation deals with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Talks with additional international partners are underway to further increase production capacity. “Sputnik V will be two or more times cheaper than mRNA vaccines with similar efficacy levels,” RDIF said in a statement.


A single dose of the Russian vaccine is going to cost $10, according to the producer, meaning it will set each person back $20 for two shots – which is still way below the price tags of US biotech firms Pfizer and Moderna, who are eyeing $39 and $50-74 for their vaccines, respectively. Notably, it’s only foreign buyers who would need to pay up, as the Russians will be getting Sputnik V for free. International customers are scheduled to receive first shipments of the vaccine in January. The new data announced by Moscow’s Gamaleya Center, which developed the Sputnik V formula, suggests that its vaccine is 95 percent effective. The result was based on Phase Three clinical trials that involved almost 20,000 volunteers who were administered two shots of the drug.

Read more …

By Malcolm Kendrick, doctor and author who works as a GP in the National Health Service in England.

“We are told that none of the mRNA can get into the nucleus of the cell, where it could become incorporated into the DNA. I hope so. Could it trigger an immune cascade? I hope not.”

As A Doctor, People Ask Me If It’s Safe To Take A New Covid Vaccine (RT)

Now, we have a thing called a messenger RNA vaccine (mRNA). RNA is, effectively, a single strand of DNA – the double helix that sits within our cells and makes up our genetic code. Many viruses are made up of a single strand of RNA, surrounded by a protein sphere. They enter the cell, take over the replication systems, make thousands of copies of themselves, then exit the cell. Sometimes killing the cell as they do so, sometimes exiting more gently. Covid19 (Sars-Cov2) is an RNA virus. Knowing this, rather than attempting to create a weakened virus, which can take years, or break the virus into bits, the vaccine researchers decided to use Sars-Cov2’s RNA against itself. To do this, they isolated the section of RNA which codes for the ‘spike’ protein – which is the thing the virus uses as a ‘key’ to enter cells.

They then worked out how to insert this small section of RNA, messenger RNA, into the cell, where it takes over a part of the protein replication mechanisms that sit inside all cells. They turn the mechanism into a 3D printer, churning out copies of the spike protein. These spike proteins then leave the cell – somehow or other, this bit is unclear. The immune system comes across them, recognises them as ‘alien’ and attacks. In doing so, antibodies are created, and the immune memory system kicks into action. If, later on, a Sars-Cov2 virus gets into the body, the immune system fires up and attacks the remembered spike protein. Hopefully killing the entire virus. This is all, certainly very clever stuff. What, as they say, could possibly go wrong?

The first thing to say is that, with something this new, we don’t really know. It could be that it is absolutely 100 percent safe. We are told that none of the mRNA can get into the nucleus of the cell, where it could become incorporated into the DNA. I hope so. Could it trigger an immune cascade? I hope not. I know that the researchers will be looking very, very, closely at the novel safety issues that could emerge. If they are not, they damned well should be. However, the timelines here are very short. It normally takes many years to create safe and effective vaccines. Here is it happening in, effectively, weeks. The early stage human safety studies have been crammed very tightly together.

In addition, we will also have very little information on such things as whether or not the vaccine actually reduces serious infections or death, as noted by Professor Haseltine in a recent article: “These [vaccine] protocols do not emphasize the most important ramifications of COVID-19 that people are most interested in preventing: overall infection, hospitalization, and death.” Prof. Haseltine also argues that the trials have all been “designed to succeed.” The reality is that we are rushing and rushing. There are very good reasons for this rush, but I advise caution. Should everyone take the vaccine? Probably yes for those at highest risk of serious infection and death, where the potential benefit is high. As for anyone healthy, under the age of sixty, I would wait. As I shall be.

Read more …

mRNA should be tested first for a much longer time.

Could mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Be Dangerous In The Long Term? (JP)

Israelis celebrated on Friday when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the country had signed a deal with Pfizer Inc. to buy its novel coronavirus vaccine. But the fact remains that if Pfizer succeeds – or Moderna, with whom Israel also has a contract – these will be the first-ever messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines brought to market for human patients. In order to receive Food and Drug Administration approval, the companies will have to prove there are no immediate or short-term negative health effects from taking the vaccines. But when the world begins inoculating itself with these completely new and revolutionary vaccines, it will know virtually nothing about their long-term effects.

“There is a race to get the public vaccinated, so we are willing to take more risks,” Tal Brosh, head of the Infectious Disease Unit at Samson Assuta Ashdod Hospital, told The Jerusalem Post. When Moderna was just finishing its Phase I trial, The Independent wrote about the vaccine and described it this way: “It uses a sequence of genetic RNA material produced in a lab that, when injected into your body, must invade your cells and hijack your cells’ protein-making machinery called ribosomes to produce the viral components that subsequently train your immune system to fight the virus.” “In this case, Moderna’s mRNA-1273 is programmed to make your cells produce the coronavirus’ infamous coronavirus spike protein that gives the virus its crown-like appearance (corona is crown in Latin) for which it is named,” wrote The Independent.

Brosh said that this does not mean the vaccine changes people’s genetic code. Rather, he said it is more like a USB device (the mRNA) that is inserted into a computer (your body). It does not impact the hard drive of the computer but runs a certain program. But he acknowledged that there are unique and unknown risks to messenger RNA vaccines, including local and systemic inflammatory responses that could lead to autoimmune conditions. An article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the National Institutes of Health, said other risks include the bio-distribution and persistence of the induced immunogen expression; possible development of auto-reactive antibodies; and toxic effects of any non-native nucleotides and delivery system components.

Brosh compared the mRNA vaccine to traditional vaccines, such as those for influenza, which use an inactivated virus that was destroyed by heat or chemicals to elicit an immune response without infecting the recipient. Others, such as for measles or mumps, use a weakened virus that is unable to hurt you but can still train your immune system to fight it. Oxford University’s AstraZeneca, the Russian’s Sputnik V and the Israel Institute for Biological Research’s Brilife are all based on more traditional technologies.

Read more …

Better than a vaccine?

Short Term, High-Dose Vitamin D Supplementation For COVID-19 (BMJ)

Background Vitamin D has an immunomodulatory role but the effect of therapeutic vitamin D supplementation in SARS-CoV-2 infection is not known.

Aim Effect of high dose, oral cholecalciferol supplementation on SARS-CoV-2 viral clearance.

Design Randomised, placebo-controlled.

Participants Asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 RNA positive vitamin D deficient (25(OH)D<20 ng/ml) individuals.

Intervention Participants were randomised to receive daily 60 000 IU of cholecalciferol (oral nano-liquid droplets) for 7 days with therapeutic target 25(OH)D>50 ng/ml (intervention group) or placebo (control group). Patients requiring invasive ventilation or with significant comorbidities were excluded. 25(OH)D levels were assessed at day 7, and cholecalciferol supplementation was continued for those with 25(OH)D <50 ng/ml in the intervention arm. SARS-CoV-2 RNA and inflammatory markers fibrinogen, D-dimer, procalcitonin and (CRP), ferritin were measured periodically.

Outcome measure Proportion of patients with SARS-CoV-2 RNA negative before day-21 and change in inflammatory markers.

Results Forty SARS-CoV-2 RNA positive individuals were randomised to intervention (n=16) or control (n=24) group. Baseline serum 25(OH)D was 8.6 (7.1 to 13.1) and 9.54 (8.1 to 12.5) ng/ml (p=0.730), in the intervention and control group, respectively. 10 out of 16 patients could achieve 25(OH)D>50 ng/ml by day-7 and another two by day-14 [day-14 25(OH)D levels 51.7 (48.9 to 59.5) ng/ml and 15.2 (12.7 to 19.5) ng/ml (p<0.001) in intervention and control group, respectively]. 10 (62.5%) participants in the intervention group and 5 (20.8%) participants in the control arm (p<0.018) became SARS-CoV-2 RNA negative. Fibrinogen levels significantly decreased with cholecalciferol supplementation (intergroup difference 0.70 ng/ml; P=0.007) unlike other inflammatory biomarkers.

Conclusion Greater proportion of vitamin D-deficient individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection turned SARS-CoV-2 RNA negative with a significant decrease in fibrinogen on high-dose cholecalciferol supplementation.

Read more …

Who’s pushing for this when 3 billion doses of non-nMRA vaccine doses are coming?

UPS Stepping Up Dry Ice Production, Freezers For Vaccines (Y!)

Global shipping giant UPS on Tuesday said it would start making dry ice in the United States and also distribute ultra-cold temperature freezers as it prepares to handle the logistics of shipping Covid-19 vaccines. Facing the world’s largest coronavirus outbreak, the US government’s Operation Warp Speed plans to distribute 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the first week after it’s cleared for emergency use, which could come as soon as December 10. That vaccine requires ultra-cold long-term storage of -70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit), and the company has developed special containers with dry ice to keep it cool for up to 15 days, while other vaccines may also need dry ice in transport.


In a statement, UPS said it had added equipment in its facilities that can produce up to 1,200 pounds of dry ice an hour for the shipping needs of these vaccines, which can be distributed within 24 hours of production to US and Canadian hospitals. “Healthcare facilities in Louisville, Dallas and Ontario will ensure we have the capability to produce dry ice to sufficiently pack and replenish shipments as needed to keep products viable and effective,” Wes Wheeler, president of medical arm UPS Healthcare, said in a statement.

Read more …

QR.

Dragon Flies, Eagle Crashes At Geoeconomic Summits (Escobar)

Four geoeconomic summits compressed in one week tell the story of where we stand in these supremely dystopian times… The (virtual) signing of RCEP in Vietnam was followed by the equally virtual BRICS meeting hosted by Moscow, the APEC meeting hosted by Malaysia, and the G20 this past weekend hosted by Saudi Arabia. Cynics have not failed to note the spectacular theater of the absurd of having the Top 20 – at least in theory – economies discussing what is arguably the turning point in the world-system linked to a beheading-friendly desert oil hacienda with a 7th century mentality.


The Riyadh declaration did its best to lift the somber planetary mood, vowing to deploy “all available policy tools” (no precise details) to contain Covid-19 and heroically “save” the global economy by “advancing” global pandemic preparedness, vaccine development and distribution – in tandem with debt relief – for the Global South. Not a peep about The Great Reset – the Brave New World scheme concocted by Herr Schwab of Davos and fully supported by the IMF, Big Tech, transnational Big Capital interests and the oh so benign Prince Charles. Meanwhile, off the record, G20 sherpas moaned about the lack of real global governance and multiple attacks on multilateralism.

And not a peep as well about the real life vaccine war between the expensive Western candidates – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca – and the much cheaper Russia-China versions – Sputnik V and Sinovac. What seems to be the case is that any agenda – sinister or otherwise – fits the one-size-fits-all vow by the G20 to provide “opportunities of the 21st century for all by empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers.” At the G20, President Xi Jinping did not waste the chance – after RCEP, BRICS and APEC – to once again emphasize China’s priorities: multilateralism, support for WTO reform, ample international cooperation on vaccine research and production.


But then, in tandem with reducing tariffs and facilitating the trade of crucial medical supplies, Xi proposed a global health QR code – a sound way to restore global travel and trade: “While containing the virus, we need to restore the secure and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains.” Predictably, there were howls about neo-Orwellian intrusion, comparing the QR code with the exceptionally misunderstood Chinese credit system. Herr Schwab’s Great Reset in fact proposes something similar, with even more neo-Orwellian overtones, disguised under an innocent “Covid Pass” app, or highly secure “health passport”. What Xi has proposed amounts to just a mutual recognition of health certificates, issued by different nations, based on nucleic acid tests. No gene altering vaccines coupled with nanochips. These QR codes, incorporated to health apps, are already used for domestic travel in China.

Read more …

Kerry is just like Biden. A career sell-out.

“..Biden, having vowed to make fighting climate change a top priority, simply wants someone who’ll look like he’s trying hard — but won’t actually get anything done.”

Biden Climate Envoy John Kerry Is A Lifelong Joke (NYP)

What was Joe Biden thinking for his choice of climate-change ambassador extraordinaire? John Kerry is one of the biggest gasbags in American politics, singlehandedly responsible for massive amounts of terrible emissions. People have been laughing at him since Yale, when “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau was zinging his pretentious, vacuous self-promotion. We look forward to the anti-carbon lectures from a guy who travels the globe on private jets and luxury yachts. Set aside his deer-in-the-headlights loss as the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 2004. He was a joke as secretary of state under President Barack Obama — off on his yacht during Egypt’s 2013 military coup.

He vowed a crushing response when Syria crossed Obama’s infamous “red line” — only to have Obama pull the rug out from under him and agree to let Russia pretend to take Syria’s chemical weapons away instead. Kerry also cluelessly “negotiated” the Iran nuclear deal even as the real talks were being run out of the White House; then he had to pretend to cheer an accord that gave away several points he’d said were non-negotiable, such as truly tough inspection requirements. And he helped craft the 2015 Paris climate accord — a performative non-binding “triumph.”


The Kerry-initiated Israeli-Palestinian peace talks of 2013-14 went absolutely nowhere. He later blasted President Trump over moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, insisting it would cause “an absolute explosion” — when it actually helped bring unprecedented Arab-Israeli rapprochement. The only conclusion you can draw is that Biden, having vowed to make fighting climate change a top priority, simply wants someone who’ll look like he’s trying hard — but won’t actually get anything done.

Read more …

Still crazy.

Pompeo Spells Out New Normal: All Criticism Of Israel Is ‘Antisemitic’ (Cook)

It is tempting to dismiss last week’s statements by Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, equating anti-Zionism with antisemitism and suggesting the global movement to boycott Israel is driven by hatred of Jews, as the last gasp of a dying administration. But that would be foolhardy. Pompeo’s decision to label all but the most tepid criticism of Israel as antisemitism is fully in line with the current redrawing of the limits of western political debate about Israel. To underscore his message, Pompeo issued his statement as he headed to an illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank – the first such official visit by a US secretary of state.


New guidelines announced that in future the US would mark settlement goods as “Made in Israel”, concealing the fact that they are produced in the occupied Palestinian territories. For good measure, Pompeo described the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), widely supported by Palestinians, as a “cancer”. “We will regard the global, anti-Israel BDS campaign as antisemitic,” he added. The state department would identify any individual or group opposed to “doing business in Israel or in any territory controlled by Israel” – that is, in the settlements – “and withdraw US government support”.

Read more …

They should close both down.

The Trump Administration May Privatize Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac (MW)

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been kept in conservatorship limbo for over a decade now. But the Trump administration may move to end that before leaving office in January. In the wake of the government bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the housing-finance giants were placed into conservatorship. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, a new regulator, was created to oversee the two companies’ operations as the companies recovered from the subprime-mortgage crisis and repaid the federal government. In that time, Fannie and Freddie’s shareholders — other than the federal government — have gone without even a single dividend payment. For most of this time, Fannie and Freddie’s profits have been swept to the Treasury Department.

Conservatorship was not intended to be a permanent thing. In April 2019, Vice President Mike Pence’s former chief economist, Mark Calabria, was confirmed as the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the main regulator overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Since assuming that post, Calabria has moved to lay the groundwork needed to get the two companies out of conservatorship. But with President Trump’s loss in the elections earlier this month, a wrench was thrown in those plans. Former Vice President Joe Biden is unlikely to be in any hurry to move Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of their current arrangement. Faced with that reality, Calabria appears to be considering a plan to move Fannie and Freddie out of conservatorship before the inauguration, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.


Depending on how the exit is orchestrated, it could have a major impact on the housing finance ecosystem. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not mortgage lenders — they buy and securitize mortgage loans, providing a crucial inflow of capital. All told, nearly half of all mortgages created in the first quarter of 2020 (47%) were backed by Fannie and Freddie, according to data from Inside Mortgage Finance and the Urban Institute. “Director Calabria has previously been quoted as saying that he believed the GSEs would be able to successfully exit the conservatorship sometime in 2022,” said Rick Sharga, a mortgage industry veteran and executive vice president at real-estate analytics firm RealtyTrac. “Accelerating the exit by at least a year seems ambitious at best, and risky at worst, given the critical role Fannie and Freddie play in providing mortgage market liquidity and stability.”

Read more …

Look, people know you’re just making it up. You’re inviting unrest.

The Five-Day Christmas COVID Bubble: How Will It Work? (G.)

The government has announced that up to three households will be able to mix indoors and stay with each other overnight from 23 to 27 December under loosened coronavirus restrictions across the UK. But how exactly will these new “Christmas bubbles” work?

Can I eat out with my Christmas bubble? No. In a blow to pubs and restaurants, and families who like to avoid the piles of washing-up, separate households in a Christmas bubble will not be able to meet up in hospitality venues. Restrictions on these venues – which will vary depending on which tier they are placed in from 2 December – will remain in place over the festive period. However, members of a Christmas bubble can meet at home, in places of worship and in outdoor public places including gardens. You can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you are staying in.

Is there a limit on the number of people who can meet up as part of a bubble? There is no maximum size for a Christmas bubble, so you don’t need to worry if you and those you join with live in large households. This means three households of two people each – a total of six people – are allowed to meet, just as three households of, say, six people each – a total of 18 people – are also allowed to meet.

If I’m already in a bubble with another household, do we count as one household or two for the new Christmas rules? Under the rules, a support bubble will count as one household when Christmas bubbles are being formed. In England, support bubbles have been permitted for a number of months throughout Covid restrictions, allowing a household with one adult to join with another household. Those in a support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight and visit public places together. This means that, technically, if three support bubbles – each comprising two separate households – were to join together in a Christmas bubble, six households would be able to meet.

Can I join more than one Christmas bubble? No, the bubbles have to be exclusive, and they cannot change over the five-day period – so pick your households carefully. This means that you can’t mix with two households on Christmas Day, and then a different two households on Boxing Day. However, children whose parents are separated will be able to move between two Christmas bubbles so they’re able to celebrate with both parents.

Do I need to socially distance from the people in my Christmas bubble? Bubble members will not be required to social distance while they are together, so they can hug or kiss under the mistletoe. However, people are advised to exercise caution if there are vulnerable people involved in their bubble. “This virus is not going to grant a Christmas truce,” Boris Johnson said on Monday.

Read more …

 

 

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Nov 242020
 
 November 24, 2020  Posted by at 10:08 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Claude Monet Impression Sunrise 1872

 

What Could be Better Than a Drug That Can Stop Covid? (CP)
Successful Not-for-Profit Oxford Vaccine Threatens Big Pharma Profit (MPN)
Oxford Covid Vaccine Hit 90% Success Rate Thanks To Dosing Error (G.)
Analyst Warns AstraZeneca Vaccine Efficacy “Embellished” (ZH)
Trump Tells GSA To Allow Biden Transition To Proceed (ZH)
President-Elect Biden Is A Machiavellian’s Dream (GM)
The Germans Are Back! (CJ Hopkins)
Home Alone Thanksgiving (Jim Kunstler)
Bond Defaults Show Bailouts Over For China’s State-Owned Enterprises (Caixin)
OED Says 2020 Has Too Many Potential Words Of The Year (G.)
Work From Home Until April If Possible, PM Tells England’s Workers (G.)
Walmart Thanks Government For Completely Obliterating Small Business (BBee)

 

 

 

 

 

 

“How could some be making billions off the horror that’s killing millions?”

What Could be Better Than a Drug That Can Stop Covid? (CP)

Who doesn’t like a race? A grand global race, like the competition to run the first mile under four minutes. Or the race to scale the world’s highest mountain. Or be the first to walk on the moon. Now we find ourselves in a race of much greater import: the dash to develop an effective vaccine for Covid-19. The world now watches with that fabled bated breath. Pfizer, a Big Pharma behemoth, is running neck-in-neck with Moderna, a lavishly funded corporate upstart. Pfizer, first to announce trial results, reports 90 percent effectiveness rates for its pandemic-stopper. Moderna, not to be outdone, reports 95 percent success rates. We actually hit that brass ring, too, retorts Pfizer. And ours even works with older people! What a race! How exciting! More to the point: How lucrative!

This race is minting billionaires. The founder of Pfizer’s partner company, BioNTech, achieved billionaire status earlier this year. Earlier this month, that founder and his two top investors saw their personal fortunes leap a combined $2 billion. At Moderna, three top players, including the CEO Stéphane Bancel, have become billionaires so far this year. Various other pharmaceutical industry movers and shakers — like the hedge fund behind Vaxart, a San Francisco concern — have made hundreds of millions. “Every day, Americans wake up and make sacrifices during this pandemic,” says Ben Wakana, the executive director at Patients for Affordable Drugs. “Drug companies see this as a payday.” The headlines that trumpet coronavirus boondoggles have become, in effect, the rain on our yes-we-now-have-a-vaccine! parade.

How could some be making billions off the horror that’s killing millions? The biggest tragedy of all: Things don’t have to be this way. Over a half-century ago, we conquered polio, and no one became fabulously rich in the process. We could have done the same with Covid-19.

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Was the AstraZeneca stock price under presssure yesterday because investors figured this out?

Successful Not-for-Profit Oxford Vaccine Threatens Big Pharma Profit (MPN)

The world is abuzz today after a team of medical researchers from Oxford University in the United Kingdom announced that advanced trials of their experimental coronavirus vaccine were a roaring success, with the vaccine possibly being rolled out before Christmas. Testing was done on 24,000 volunteers in the U.K, Brazil, and South Africa, with an average effectiveness of over 70%. However, when the vaccine was administered as a half dose, then patients were later given a full one, effectiveness increased to 90%. Encouragingly, there were no serious side effects registered among any of the volunteers, none of whom had to go to the hospital as a result of being immunized. The U.K. government has already ordered 100 million doses.

Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the experiment, was delighted, stating that: “These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 percent effective, and if this dosing regimen is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply. Today’s announcement is only possible thanks to the many volunteers in our trial, and the hard working and talented team of researchers based around the world.”

Even better news is that the Oxford team developed the breakthrough vaccine with the explicit intention of supplying it around the world on a not-for-profit basis, meaning that the poorest nations on the planet will not have to worry about being shut out of a cure due to lack of funds. This was certainly not the case with other solutions developed by the likes of Moderna or Pfizer. Indeed, the world’s richest countries had already bought up the majority of their COVID-19 vaccines, whose secrets were being closely guarded, rather than shared widely to help the rest of humanity.

Large scale manufacturing of the vaccine has already begun in ten countries, according to a press release from the University of Oxford. “Today marks an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic. This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,” said Pascal Soriot of AstraZeneca, a bioresearch company that partnered with the 924-year-old educational institution on development and testing. “Furthermore, the vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval.”

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“Scientists said they still could not fully explain why the half dose gave better protection, but said it may be that it triggers the immune system differently.”

Oxford Covid Vaccine Hit 90% Success Rate Thanks To Dosing Error (G.)

The Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine trials reached 90% efficacy by accident thanks to the “serendipity” of an error that led to some participants receiving half doses, it has emerged. On Monday scientists revealed that the Oxford vaccine had an overall efficacy of 70%, but could be around 90% effective when administered as a half dose followed by a full dose a month later. “The reason we had the half dose is serendipity,” said Mene Pangalos, executive vice-president of biopharmaceuticals research and development at AstraZeneca. When university researchers were distributing the vaccine at the end of April, around the start of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s partnership, they noticed expected side effects such as fatigue, headaches or arm aches were milder than expected.

“So we went back and checked … and we found out that they had underpredicted the dose of the vaccine by half,” said Pangalos. Instead of restarting the trial, he said researchers decided to continue with the half dose and administer the full dose booster shot at the scheduled time. About 3,000 people were given the half dose and then a full dose four weeks later, with data showing 90% were protected. In the larger group, who were given two full doses also four weeks apart, efficacy was 62%. Scientists said they still could not fully explain why the half dose gave better protection, but said it may be that it triggers the immune system differently.

Prof Sarah Gilbert from Oxford University, who led the research, said: “It could be that by giving a small amount of the vaccine to start with and following up with a big amount, that’s a better way of kicking the immune system into action and giving us the strongest immune response and the most effective immune response.”

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How wrong was this analyst?

Analyst Warns AstraZeneca Vaccine Efficacy “Embellished” (ZH)

AstraZeneca’s announcement that its adenovirus-vector vaccine is roughly 70% effective (which followed an announcement claiming the vaccine is safe and effective in the elderly) failed to impress investors, as Astrazeneca shares tumbled on the news in premarket. But AZ shares took a second leg lower on Monday when a health-care analyst dropped some damning commentary that has caught the market’s attention. SVB Leerink analyst George Porges said Monday that the company is likely to be roundly criticized for publishing its results without enough data on safety and other factors. The vaccine’s (known formally as ChAdOx1) safety disclosure simply stated that “no serious safety events related to the vaccine have been confirmed”, as well as for its results, which the company “tried to embellish” by highlighting a reported 90% efficacy in the relatively small sub-set of subjects in the study who received the modified initial vaccination followed by the “full dose” four weeks later.

Porges believes that this product will never be licensed in the US due to the design of the company’s trials, which don’t appear to match the FDA’s minimum criteria, and the occurrence of severe safety events that resulted in the extended clinical hold on enrollment in the US (remember when the US put the AZ-Oxford trial recruitment on hold for a month). The findings, according to Porges, confound his original thesis that “all spike protein vaccines are created equal”, which is manifestly not the case now. This raises questions about other adenovirus-vector vaccines, including the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

On the other hand, Porges said “we remain optimistic about the outlook for adjuvanted protein sub unit vaccines such as those in development at Novavax and GSK/SNY, and these engineered synthetic virus vaccines may have a role long term in boosting, but it appears that the occurrence of pre-existing or post-vaccination immunity to the vector has a significant dampening effect on the efficacy of the vaccines (and may confer risk as well) and for this reason we believe these products are likely to be regarded as relatively marginal suppliers in the COVID vaccine market of the future.”

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“Murphy also said that she had received “threats online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets..”

Trump Tells GSA To Allow Biden Transition To Proceed (ZH)

In what is the closest words yet to a concession, President Trump agreed to let GSA proceed with the Biden administration transition. In a pair of tweets, Trump noted: “I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country. She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA.” Trump added that while the election litigation battle continues… “Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!” … He will allow the transition to proceed: “Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”

[..] Trump’s tweets follow a letter from Emily Murphy (see below), the General Services Administration chief, in which she told Biden that “because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, I have determined that you may access the post-election resources and services described in Section 3 of the Act upon request,” which includes some $6.3 million in funding and other government resources, as well as access to current agency officials and briefing books. The biggest change now is that the Biden transition team will be able to flood federal agencies with officials focused on preparing the way for his administration. They will have access to agency staff and briefing books assembled earlier this year.

Until today’s GSA letter, the Biden transition team had worked informally to establish a new administration, including assembling a coronavirus task force and consulting with public health officials outside of the federal government, mimicking the approach former Vice President Dick Cheney took during the disputed 2000 election. In the letter, Murphy also said that she had received “threats online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely.” She added that she was not “directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official” into the making or timing of a decision on the presidential transition.

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“This country, for what it is, takes itself too seriously. Have you ever considered the possibility that America has always been a joke? I’m sure most historians have.”

President-Elect Biden Is A Machiavellian’s Dream (GM)

Though I did not put this in writing, not from responsibility but just out of cowardice, I did go around telling people IRL that my preferred outcome was “it looks like Trump wins, then it looks like Biden steals it from him.” Some mistook this for an “accelerationist” stance. It was only Machiavellian. I would also tell Trumpists that I was “so pro-Trump, I wrap all the way around to pro-Biden.” This did not raise many hackles and was also quite true. In any case I am delighted to hail, perhaps prematurely but I doubt it, the election of this elder statesman, this American Nestor, always a bridesmaid and now a bride, “China” Joe Biden. If the big guy ever needs to pull an Augustus, he knows who to call. (President-elect Biden has in fact kissed my own mother, not in a sexual way I think. My stepfather, a former Biden staffer from the ‘80s, is a gentleman of honor. So I hear only good things about America’s new cynosure. His teeth sure are looking great.)

It is useless to speculate on the details of a Philadelphia election. One need only say the words, “Philadelphia election,” and anyone on or near the grave of Mark Twain will experience a little earthquake. Has Philadelphia ever had a free and fair election? (This country, for what it is, takes itself too seriously. Have you ever considered the possibility that America has always been a joke? I’m sure most historians have.) The fundamental purpose of a democratic election is to test the strength of the sides in a civil conflict, without anyone actually getting hurt. The majority wins because the strongest side would win. Better to measure that by counting heads, than knocking heads; and counting heads produces a reasonable guess as to who would win a head-knocking contest. Same outcome, fewer concussions: a Pareto optimization.

But this guess is much better if it actually measures humans who are both willing and able to walk down the street and show up. Anyone who cannot show up at the booth is unlikely to show up for the civil war. This is one of many reasons that an in-person election is a more accurate election. (If voters could be qualified by physique, it would be even more accurate.) My sense is that in many urban communities, voting by proxy in some sense is the norm. The people whose names are on the ballots really exist; and almost all of them actually did support China Joe. Or at least, preferred him. The extent to which they perform any tangible political action, including physically going to the booth, is very low; so is their engagement with the political system. They do not watch much CNN.

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”..these protesters were all “Corona Deniers,” “far-right extremists,” “conspiracy theorists,” “anti-vaxxers,” “neo-Nazis,” and so on, so they probably got what they deserved.”

The Germans Are Back! (CJ Hopkins)

Break out the Wagner, folks…the Germans are back! No, not the warm, fuzzy, pussified, peace-loving, post-war Germans … the Germans! You know the ones I mean. The “I didn’t know where the trains were going” Germans. The “I was just following orders” Germans. The other Germans. Yeah…those Germans. In case you missed it, on November 18, the German parliament passed a law, the so-called “Infection Protection Act” (“Das Infektionsschutzgesetz” in German) formally granting the government the authority to issue whatever edicts it wants under the guise of protecting the public health.

The government has been doing this anyway — ordering lockdowns, curfews, travel bans, banning demonstrations, raiding homes and businesses, ordering everyone to wear medical masks, harassing and arresting dissidents, etc. — but now it has been “legitimized” by the Bundestag, enshrined into law, and presumably stamped with one of those intricate official stamps that German bureaucrats like to stamp things with. Now, this “Infection Protection Act,” which was rushed through the parliament, is not in any way comparable to the “Enabling Act of 1933,” which formally granted the government the authority to issue whatever edicts it wanted under the guise of remedying the distress of the people.

Yes, I realize that sounds quite similar, but, according to the government and the German media, there is absolutely no equivalence whatsoever, and anyone who suggests there is is “a far-right AfD extremist,” “a neo-Nazi conspiracy theorist,” or “an anti-vax esotericist,” or whatever. As the Protection Act was being legitimized (i.e., the current one, not the one in 1933), tens of thousands of anti-totalitarian protesters gathered in the streets, many of them carrying copies of the Grundgesetz (i.e., the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany), which the parliament had just abrogated. They were met by thousands of riot police, who declared the demonstration “illegal” (because many of the protesters were not wearing masks), beat up and arrested hundreds of them, and then hosed down the rest with water cannons.

The German media — which are totally objective, and not at all like Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda in the Nazi era — dutifully reminded the German public that these protesters were all “Corona Deniers,” “far-right extremists,” “conspiracy theorists,” “anti-vaxxers,” “neo-Nazis,” and so on, so they probably got what they deserved.

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“We’ll dare to have seven at the table here, and therefore not have to eat some reincarnation of turkey for three weeks afterward.”

Home Alone Thanksgiving (Jim Kunstler)

One result of these final innings in the contest will be the delegitimizing of Ol’ White Joe Biden as president, should his forces finally prevail. Half of America will not only refuse to buy it, but it will incite a counter-resistance on the right as determined as Hillary’s pussyhat brigades and bureaucrat activists of the post-2016 era, and possibly more bloodthirsty, especially if the left makes a move to confiscate guns. The prospect of Joe Biden functioning as president is a joke, anyway. Have you forgotten his non-campaign campaign? The empty parking lots with the white circles? The pitiful gaffes? And lurking in this fog of war is the all that odious monkey business selling influence abroad involving crack-head son Hunter and the rest of the Biden family. Think that’s going away?

What you’d actually get with a Biden “victory” is a Deep State junta of malicious, coercive, and vengeance-crazed characters such as John Brennan, Andrew Weissmann, Nancy Pelosi, Susan Rice, and Adam Schiff, with Barack Obama hovering somewhere backstage, commanding this-and-that — even if President Ole White Joe is shoved aside on account of mental incompetence, leaving Kamala Harris in the Oval Office to giggle through the next four years while she orchestrates junior-high-school style mean girl campaigns against the enemies of Wokesterism. The DC “blob” has demonstrated that it doesn’t need no steenkin’ president to work its wicked will.

Meanwhile, have a lovely Home Alone Thanksgiving, if you are dutifully following the orders of Governors Cuomo, Pritzker, Whitmer, Murphy, and Newsom. We’ll dare to have seven at the table here, and therefore not have to eat some reincarnation of turkey for three weeks afterward. As a holiday bonus, I leave you with a little burlesque submitted by a reader wishing to remain anonymous for your amusement, as follows….

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Wonder why Xi is allowing it.

Bond Defaults Show Bailouts Over For China’s State-Owned Enterprises (Caixin)

“This might be a historic credit crisis,” a debt investor told Caixin, referring to a recent series of bond defaults by state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The bond market veteran’s employer holds AAA-rated bonds of two state-owned defaulters in the crisis: Brilliance Auto Group Holdings Co., a Shenyang-based automaker with links to BMW AG, and Yongcheng Coal and Electricity Holding Group Co. Ltd., a major coal mining company in Henan province. He has been trudging between Shenyang in the northeast and Zhengzhou in central China trying to collect the debts. Both bond issuers are profit-making companies backed by local governments, so their defaults caught investors off guard and set off a chain reaction affecting other debt issuers and local government financing vehicles.

Such bondholders counted on government bailouts to reduce the risk of default by SOEs. But amid a national policy change to shift risk to markets, local governments have been unresponsive. They are now coming under criticism for allowing SOEs to default and avoiding their own responsibility for debt taken on by government-backed businesses. “Default by SOEs is not a terrible thing,” one bond market participant said. “What we fear is that the government allows SOEs to evade repayment of debts in the name of marketized default.” Now the biggest challenge for the government is how to push forward the marketization restructuring of SOEs while avoiding local credit collapses that could spark a domino effect and weigh on the economic recovery.

Since China launched a massive deleveraging campaign in 2015 to curb excessive borrowing by local governments, financial institutions and businesses, private companies’ credit risks have been relatively fully exposed. That means even a large wave of defaults by private companies wouldn’t disturb the market. But the risks related to borrowing by SOEs have been largely an iceberg under the water, a senior bond market participant said. “Once the SOEs default their debt, it would turn the market upside down,” he said. The sell-off of corporate bonds triggered by the defaults of Brilliance Auto and Yongcheng has caused 60 billion yuan ($9.15 billion) of losses for bond investors, according to one brokerage estimate.

Many energy companies canceled or delayed bond issuance plans over the past two weeks. A coal mining enterprise in Shanxi had to pay a 5% coupon rate for an ultra-short-term bond issued Nov. 18, 1.1 percentage points higher than an earlier bond from the same issuer. As the default rate for Chinese private companies rose sharply to 5.34% in 2018 from 1.83% in 2017, defaults by SOEs amounted to only 0.02%, according to a calculation by Huatai Securities.”The deleveraging is like a storm that has drenched everyone,” one fund manager said. “How can only private firms get wet while SOEs get away with it?”

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New riches.

OED Says 2020 Has Too Many Potential Words Of The Year (G.)

For the first time, the Oxford English Dictionary has chosen not to name a word of the year, describing 2020 as “a year which cannot be neatly accommodated in one single word”. Instead, from “unmute” to “mail-in”, and from “coronavirus” to “lockdown”, the eminent reference work has announced its “words of an ‘unprecedented’ year”. On Monday, the dictionary said that there were too many words to sum up the events of 2020. Tracking its vast corpus of more than 11bn words found in web-based news, blogs and other text sources, its lexicographers revealed what the dictionary described as “seismic shifts in language data and precipitous frequency rises in new coinage” over the past 12 months.

Coronavirus, one of its words of the year, is a term that dates back to the 1960s, although it was previously mainly used by scientists. By March this year it was one of the most frequently used nouns in the English language. “Covid-19”, first recorded on 11 February in a report by the World Health Organization, quickly overtook coronavirus in frequency of use, noted the dictionary. One of the year’s most remarkable linguistic developments, according to the OED, has been the extent to which scientific terms have entered general discourse, as we have all become armchair epidemiologists, with most of us now familiar with the term “R number”. “Before 2020 this was a term known mainly to epidemiologists; now non-experts routinely talk about ‘getting the R down’ or ‘bringing R below 1’.

Other terms that have become much more common in everyday discourse this year include ‘flatten the curve’ and ‘community transmission’,” said the dictionary. Use of the phrase “following the science”, it added, has increased in frequency more than 1,000% compared with 2019. Other coronavirus-related language cited by the OED includes “pandemic”, which has seen usage increase by more than 57,000% this year, as well as “circuit breaker”, “lockdown”, “shelter-in-place”, “bubbles”, “face masks” and “key workers”. The revolution in working habits has also affected language, with both “remote” and “remotely” seeing more than 300% growth in use since March. “On mute” and “unmute” have seen 500% rises since March, while the portmanteaus “workation” and “staycation” increased by 500% and 380% respectively.

Other news events have also been reflected in language. In the early months of 2020, there were peaks in usage of “impeachment” and “acquittal”, and “mail-in” has seen an increase of 3,000%. Use of “Black Lives Matter” and “BLM” also surged, as did the term “QAnon”, up by 5,716% on last year. The phrase “conspiracy theory”, meanwhile, has almost doubled in usage between October 2019 and October 2020. Use of “Brexit”, however, has dropped by 80% this year.

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The impact on society, communities will be huge. A Great Reset.

Work From Home Until April If Possible, PM Tells England’s Workers (G.)

The government has told all workers in England they should work from home if possible until April 2021 as part of a move to a stricter tier system that is likely to be a further blow to businesses reliant on commuters in city centres. Boris Johnson on Monday confirmed that under every tier of new restrictions, workers in England who can work from home should continue to do so. The rules under the new three-tier system will last until at least the end of March if voted through by parliament. The government’s 64-page Covid-19 winter plan suggested that working from home was one of the three key areas highlighted by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). The other policies apparently suggested by Sage included closing pubs that do not serve food in tier 2 areas and closing all hospitality venues in tier 3 areas.

The guidance said: “The previous tiered system had an impact on viral transmission, but Sage advised that stronger measures would be needed in some areas to prevent the epidemic from growing. The tiers therefore need to be strengthened to keep the virus under control.” England’s larger cities, such as Birmingham, Leeds, London and Manchester, and Scottish cities such as Glasgow have lagged behind their smaller counterparts in recovering from lockdowns because of their reliance on workers, according to the Centre for Cities, thinktank. Smaller cities are more reliant on leisure footfall, a disadvantage in normal times that has been flipped on its head by the pandemic. Paul Swinney, director of policy and research at the thinktank, said: “The prospect of them having to hang on to April may mean when city centre workers go back, their favourite restaurant or coffee bar may not be there.”

Central London has been particularly hard hit because of the vast number of people who previously commuted into it from other parts of the city or beyond. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, told the Observer on Sunday that there was “potentially an existential threat to central London as we know it” because of the curbs on office workers. The City of London Corporation, the governing body of the Square Mile, which also advocates for the financial services sector, said UK ministers needed to provide a plan for a return to offices before a vaccine. “What we also urgently need from the government is a clear plan to allow office workers to return to Covid-secure workplaces in order to get as much of the economy operating as possible,” said Catherine McGuinness, the corporation’s policy chair. “This is vital to protect livelihoods.”

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Not even funny anymore.

Walmart Thanks Government For Completely Obliterating Small Business (BBee)

In an open letter addressed to state officials, Walmart leadership expressed gratefulness to the government for inflating their sales and stock price while completely pulverizing their small business competition. “Yeah, we know 2020 has been tough for the little people,” said one board member while shoveling piles of cash into his vault. “But it’s been super great for us! No longer do we have to worry about the baker down the street or the family-owned hardware store next door taking away some of our business. The government just blew them up! We didn’t even ask them to! Can you believe it? What luck!”


According to reports, Americans are really looking forward to giving all their business solely to giant mega-corporations like Walmart, Amazon, and McDonald’s until all local culture has disappeared. “This is my dream come true!” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “Within 10 years, everyone will be wearing the same identical futuristic grey jumpsuit and eating Amazon-issued food cubes, just like in the movies! That will be so cool.” Sources indicate most powerful corporations are advocating at least one more year of lockdowns to make sure small business competition stays dead. “We have to make sure those uppity business owners never threaten us again,” said Bezos while sitting in a massive chair and stroking a white cat.

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