Apr 252022
 


Andy Warhol Ingrid Bergman 1984

 

US Announces New Military Aid To Ukraine After Blinken, Austin Visit (DW)
Putin Has ‘Lost Interest’ In Diplomacy (ZH)
NATO Provocation Looms in Ukraine (PK)
Where Will Azov Regroup? (George Webb)
Russia Investigates Media Report on British SAS Special Forces in Ukraine (R.)
EU Says Pay for Russian Gas in Euros to Avoid Breaching Sanctions (R.)
EU’s Borrell: Not Enough Support For Total Embargo On Russian Oil, Gas (R.)
Innate Immune Suppression By SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccinations (SD)
SARS-CoV-2 vAccination Can Elicit a CD8 T-cell Dominant Hepatitis (SD)
Trudeau Government Targets Grain Growers As Worst Emissions Offenders (TNC)
Ratcliffe: Still-classified Documents Will Blow Durham Inquiry Wide Open (WE)
Joe Biden Met With Hunter Biden Business Partner At The White House 19 Times (NYP)
Wikipedia Kills Entry for Hunter Biden’s Investment Company (Turley)
Are Democrats and Joe Biden Up To Their Old Election Tricks? (Devine)
Twitter Board ‘Seriously’ Starts Considering Musk’s Bid Offer (WG)

 

 

Genius IQ test:

fi yuo cna raed tihs yuo hvae a graet mnid too. I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulacity uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt. Yuo’er a gneius too.

Lvoe yuo, Kim

 

 

500,000 people

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, Austin was on the board of Raytheon until recently…

US Announces New Military Aid To Ukraine After Blinken, Austin Visit (DW)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a press conference following a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Russia has been “failing” when it came to its war aims in Ukraine, while Kyiv is “succeeding.” “Russia has sought as its principal aim to totally subjugate to totally subjugate Ukraine,” Blinken said. “That has failed.” Blinken said that Russia’s military was underperforming and its economy was “in shambles” due to sanctions and a mass “exodus” from the country. “A sovereign, independent Ukraine will be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin’s on the scene,” Blinken said, adding that US support for Ukraine will continue until Kyiv sees “final success.” Blinken said that Washington was committed to the return of American diplomats to Ukraine starting next week, and that US President Joe Biden intended to nominate a new ambassador to the country.

[..] The United States will provide Ukraine with $322 million in foreign military financing and has approved a $165 million sale of ammunition to the war-ravaged country. The announcement came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Sunday. It was the highest-level visit by an American delegation since the start of the war. The US officials also pledged further assistance worth $713 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries, with the $322 million earmarked specifically for Kyiv. The new money brings the total amount of US military assistance to Ukraine to $3.7 billion since the invasion, officials said. The two returned overland to Poland after their meeting. While Blinken was returning to Washington, Austin would head to Ramstein in Germany, for a meeting Tuesday of NATO defense ministers and other donor countries.

[..] The European Union is preparing “smart sanctions” against Russian oil imports, the UK newspaper The Times reported. Quoting the European Commission’s executive vice president, Valdis Dombrovskis, the paper reported that the precise details of the oil sanctions had not yet been agreed but could include a gradual phasing-out of Russian oil or imposing tariffs on imports beyond a certain price cap. “We are working on a sixth sanctions package, and one of the issues we are considering is some form of an oil embargo. When we are imposing sanctions, we need to do so in a way that maximizes pressure on Russia while minimizing collateral damage on ourselves,” Dombrovskis said.

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The FT article cited tells me nothing about Putin, but a lot about FT. Not sure Tyler should present it in this way.

Putin Has ‘Lost Interest’ In Diplomacy (ZH)

Vladimir Putin is no longer open to diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine, which suggests he’s focusing on a ‘land-grab’ strategy instead, according to the Financial Times, citing three people briefed on conversations with the Russian President. The Russian president was said to have been seriously considering a peace deal in the wake of several battlefield setbacks last month. Early peace talks faltered following a meeting in Istanbul in late March, after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Kremlin of committing war crimes against civilians in Mariupol and Bucha. According to Putin, peace efforts were at a “dead end,” and was particularly upset over the sinking of the Russian Black Sea flagship, Moskva, according to two of FT’s sources.

“There was hope for a deal. Putin was going back and forth. He needs to find a way to come out of this a winner,” said one source, who added that when the Moskva sank, “Putin was against signing anything. [ . . . ] after the Moskva he doesn’t look like a winner, because it was humiliating.” According to a relatively new narrative, Putin has a ‘distorted’ view of the war due to his own generals, and Russian television, painting a victorious picture – which has led the Russian president to insist that civilians were not targeted during the attacks. “Putin sincerely believes in the nonsense he hears on [Russian] television and he wants to win big,” said one source.

Intermediaries such as Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, European Council president Charles Michel and billionaire Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich have been trying to convince Putin to meet Zelensky in hope they can break the deadlock. Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have placed most other issues on the back burner while trying to thrash out a deal on guarantees for Kyiv’s security if it declares neutrality and abandons its drive to join Nato. But Putin told Michel in a call on Friday that the talks had run aground because Ukraine “put up a wall” and said it “was not the right time” to meet Zelensky, according to a person briefed on that conversation. -FT

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Expect it soon.

NATO Provocation Looms in Ukraine (PK)

Having lost to Moscow’s SMO — along with failed sanctions war — the empire of lies and NATO vassals intend to falsely accuse Russian forces of using chemical, biological and/or tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. On Saturday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova explained the diabolical plot, saying: “Information by the Russian Defense Ministry published today clearly proves” the following: Hegemon USA “in close coordination with (its subservient) NATO (vassals) moved on to a final stage of plotting provocations in Ukraine which should convince the global community that ‘Russia is using poisonous combat substances and biological agents,’ ” adding: Initial plans to make Russia’s economy scream “didn’t work out.”

“Now (the empire of lies) is moving on to involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD)…” “If this happens, there will be uncountable victims.” “And each one of them (will be) on the conscience of (Biden regime) strategists in the White House, the State Department…the Pentagon, (the CIA), and on the conscience, if there is anything left of it, of their puppets in Kiev.” Russia’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) explained the diabolical plot as follows, saying: The empire of lies prepared 3 scenarios: Most probable Scenario No. One: A false flag — what Merriam-Webster calls a “deliberate gross distortion of the truth used especially as a propaganda tactic.” Their use has been a US tradition since at least the mid-19th century. 9/11 was the mother of all US false flags to that time — until all things flu/covid way surpassed its pure evil intent with mass extermination in mind worldwide.

Scenario Two: “(C)overt use of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in small volumes.” Least probable Scenario Three: “(O)vert use of (WMDs in) a combat area” with intent to produce mass combatant and civilian casualties. Developed, locked and loaded, Russia’s MOD has clear evidence of the plot, what could happen at any time anywhere in Ukraine where Russia’s SMO is ongoing. Zakharova also explained “shocking details of illegal cooperation between the US and (Kiev) in the field of creating bacteriological weapons” — what’s “been revealed to the world,” adding: “And (knowing the) inevitability detect(ing) their criminal activities,” the empire of lies “began to prepare in advance” to counter indisputable facts when revealed.

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“The key question now will be will the Russians find evidence of bioagents in the weapons cache.”

Where Will Azov Regroup? (George Webb)

When armies are out of ammunition, they usually flee or surrender. When they have a monstrous amount of ammunition, and they still flee, that means things aren’t going well. If you recall, I said Igor Kolomoisky’s Kramatorsk steel plant was the most likely forward operating base for the ethnic cleansing of the Dombas in the last eight years of war. Recently, I was a guest on Canadian television Justice TV where I stated the strategic capture point would be the forward base at Kramatorsk. I turned out to be exactly correct a week ago when the fight did indeed pivot to Kramtorsk. The gigantic ammunition depot was recently captured by the Russians near Kramatorsk soon after this strategic objective was taken. With no place to hide, there is no way to resupply without giving away the ammo dump.

Apparently, the Russian have suspected Balakliya as a weapons depot for a long time, hitting the same location in 2017. The key question now will be will the Russians find evidence of bioagents in the weapons cache. Barbara Cloutier of DTRA and General Cloutier of NATO were suspected of storing bioagents in Azovstal, the Ukrainian Billionaire Ahkmetov’s steel plan to the south. So far, no evidence of bioagents at Balakliya, but we will keep you posted on the Russian findings. We believe there are bioagents secrets still to be revealed in Ukraine with the Cloutiers and NATO. One thing we know for sure, is that top Azov Battalion leaders have fled the country, and they are going somewhere to regroup.

A3OB

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Is NATO getting involved directly?

Russia Investigates Media Report on British SAS Special Forces in Ukraine (R.)

Russia’s top state investigative body said on Saturday it was looking into a Russian media report alleging that sabotage experts from Britain’s SAS special forces have been deployed to western Ukraine. The Special Air Service is an elite military force trained to conduct special operations, surveillance and counter-terrorism. Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency on Saturday quoted a Russian security source as saying about 20 SAS members had been sent to the Lviv region. In a statement, the Investigative Committee said it would follow up the report that they had been sent in “to assist the Ukrainian special services in organizing sabotage on the territory of Ukraine.”


A spokesperson for the British Ministry of Defence said: “We do not comment on Special Forces.” Britain said it sent military trainers to Ukraine earlier this year to instruct local forces in using anti-tank weapons but the British government said on Feb. 17 – a week before Russia’s invasion – that it had pulled out all troops except those needed to protect its ambassador. It was not clear what steps the Investigative Committee planned to take in response to any SAS involvement in Ukraine. But the fact of the investigation into the possible presence of forces from a NATO country is significant, given that Russia has issued warnings to the West not to get in the way of its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

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From the top article: The European Union is preparing “smart sanctions” against Russian oil imports.

Is this the “smart” part of it?

EU Says Pay for Russian Gas in Euros to Avoid Breaching Sanctions (R.)

EU companies may be able to work around Russia’s demand to receive gas payments in roubles without breaching sanctions if they pay in euros or dollars which are then converted into the Russian currency, the European Commission said on Friday. The companies would also need to seek additional conditions on the transactions, such as a statement that they consider their contractual obligations complete once they have deposited the non-Russian currencies. Moscow has warned Europe it risks having gas supplies cut unless it pays in roubles. In March it issued a decree proposing that energy buyers open accounts at Gazprombank to make payments in euros or dollars, which would then be converted to roubles.

The Commission said companies should continue to pay the currency agreed in their contracts with Gazprom – 97% of which are in euros or dollars. “Companies with contracts stipulating payments in euros or dollars should not accede to Russian demands. This would be contrary to the sanctions in place,” a Commission spokesperson said. In an advisory document sent to member states on Thursday, the Commission said Russia’s proposal risked breaching EU sanctions since it would put the effective completion of the purchase – once the payments are converted to roubles – into the hands of the Russian authorities.

However, Moscow’s decree does not necessarily prevent a payment process that would comply with EU sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict, the Commission said. Brussels said in the document that there were options that could allow companies to continue lawfully paying for gas. “EU companies can ask their Russian counterparts to fulfil their contractual obligations in the same manner as before the adoption of the decree, i.e. by depositing the due amount in euros or dollars,” the document said.

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“Russia is Europe’s biggest oil supplier, providing just over a quarter of EU oil imports in 2020..”

EU’s Borrell: Not Enough Support For Total Embargo On Russian Oil, Gas (R.)

There is insufficient support from European Union member states for a complete embargo or punitive tariff on Russian oil and gas imports, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell was quoted as saying by German newspaper Die Welt on Monday. “At the moment, we in the EU do not have a unified position on this question,” Borrell told the newspaper. Oil exports are the Kremlin’s main source of foreign currency and many within the EU have called for an end to oil payments because they effectively finance the war in Ukraine, which Russia calls a “special military operation”. Some EU countries are pushing for a sixth sanctions package on Russia and Brussels is preparing a full impact assessment of an oil ban as part of possible further measures.


Russia is Europe’s biggest oil supplier, providing just over a quarter of EU oil imports in 2020, according to data from the bloc’s statistics office Eurostat. Borrell said the topic will be discussed at the next EU summit due at the end of next month and that he did not expect any decision on the matter before then. “A final proposal for an embargo on oil and gas is not yet on the table,” he said. The EU Commission will probably make proposals for a sixth package of sanctions to the member states this week, Die Welt said, without citing sources.

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“We believe a comprehensive risk/benefit assessment of the mRNA vaccines questions them as positive contributors to public health.”

Innate Immune Suppression By SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccinations (SD)

Abstract: The mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccines were brought to market in response to the public health crises of Covid-19. The utilization of mRNA vaccines in the context of infectious disease has no precedent. The many alterations in the vaccine mRNA hide the mRNA from cellular defenses and promote a longer biological half-life and high production of spike protein. However, the immune response to the vaccine is very different from that to a SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this paper, we present evidence that vaccination induces a profound impairment in type I interferon signaling, which has diverse adverse consequences to human health.


Immune cells that have taken up the vaccine nanoparticles release into circulation large numbers of exosomes containing spike protein along with critical microRNAs that induce a signaling response in recipient cells at distant sites. We also identify potential profound disturbances in regulatory control of protein synthesis and cancer surveillance. These disturbances potentially have a causal link to neurodegenerative disease, myocarditis, immune thrombocytopenia, Bell’s palsy, liver disease, impaired adaptive immunity, impaired DNA damage response and tumorigenesis. We show evidence from the VAERS database supporting our hypothesis. We believe a comprehensive risk/benefit assessment of the mRNA vaccines questions them as positive contributors to public health.

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Lots of reports of hepatitis in children (and others).

SARS-CoV-2 vAccination Can Elicit a CD8 T-cell Dominant Hepatitis (SD)

Background & Aims: Autoimmune hepatitis episodes have been described following SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination but their pathophysiology remains unclear. Here, we report the case of a 52-year-old male, presenting with bimodal episodes of acute hepatitis, each occurring 2-3 weeks after BNT162b2 mRNA vaccination and sought to identify the underlying immune correlates. The patient received first oral budesonide, relapsed, but achieved remission under systemic steroids.

Methods: Imaging mass cytometry for spatial immune profiling was performed on liver biopsy tissue. Flow cytometry was performed to dissect CD8 T cell phenotypes and identify SARS-CoV-2-specific and EBV-specific T cells longitudinally. Vaccine-induced antibodies were determined by ELISA. Data was correlated with clinical labs.

Results: Analysis of the hepatic tissue revealed an immune infiltrate quantitatively dominated by activated cytotoxic CD8 T cells with panlobular distribution. An enrichment of CD4 T cells, B cells, plasma cells and myeloid cells was also observed compared to controls. The intrahepatic infiltrate showed enrichment for CD8 T cells with SARS-CoV-2-specificity compared to the peripheral blood. Notably, hepatitis severity correlated longitudinally with an activated cytotoxic phenotype of peripheral SARS-CoV-2-specific, but not EBV-specific CD8+ T cells or vaccine-induced immunoglobulins.

Conclusions: COVID19 vaccination can elicit a distinct T cell-dominant immune-mediated hepatitis with a unique pathomechanism associated with vaccination induced antigen-specific tissue-resident immunity requiring systemic immunosuppression.

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With world hunger predicted, impeccable timing.

Trudeau Government Targets Grain Growers As Worst Emissions Offenders (TNC)

A Trudeau government report is putting farmers next on the carbon emissions chopping block, using UN data that accuses Canadian grain growers of producing crops with the highest “emissions intensity” in the world. A new “discussion document” released by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada titled “Reducing emissions arising from the application of fertilizer in Canada’s agriculture sector” singles out wheat, barley and other cereal producers for emission reductions. The report outlines a framework to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2020 climate plan target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the agriculture sector by 30% below 2020 levels within ten years.

“The fertilizer target’s objective is to contribute to lower GHG emissions from the agriculture sector, building on and leveraging public and private programs and initiatives,” Agriculture Canada writes. “The target applies to both direct (following fertilizer application) and indirect (from nitrogen leached from fields and volatilized to the atmosphere as ammonia) emissions from the application of fertilizer.” Agriculture Canada goes on to accuse cereal farmers of having “one of the highest levels of emissions intensity” among exporting countries. The claim refers to data gathered by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that puts Canada at the top of the list. “Available data show that Canadian cereal production likely has one of the highest levels of emissions intensity (amount of GHGs emitted per unit of product) amongst major exporting countries,” Agriculture Canada claims.

“Canada’s emission intensity for cereals in 2017 is higher than those reported for the United States, the European Union and (other regions).” Industry leaders including President of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Gunter Jochum have disputed the federal government’s claim about the greenhouse gas output of farmers. In an interview with True North, Jochum questioned the validity of the data, saying there has yet to be any reliable measurement of emissions on fertilizer use by farmers in Canada. “I would like to know where they got their facts from,” said Jochum. “I believe those facts were entirely made up because in Canada we don’t even have a baseline as to what the true emissions are.”

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“Durham has obtained only a single guilty plea..”

Ratcliffe: Still-classified Documents Will Blow Durham Inquiry Wide Open (WE)

A great deal more Russiagate intelligence remains shrouded from public view and will stun the nation, according to former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. The Trump-era spy chief expounded upon his expectation that there will be many more indictments in special counsel John Durham’s criminal inquiry into the origins and conduct of the Russia investigation. “I expect there to be a lot more indictments to be forthcoming from John Durham besides the ones that have trickled out so far. And that’s based upon documents, some of which — many of which are not yet declassified,” Ratcliffe said during a recent episode of the Charlie Kirk Show.

Ratcliffe, a former Republican congressman from Texas who oversaw the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies in the latter part of the Trump administration, announced in October 2020 that he had handed over nearly 1,000 pages of materials to the Justice Department to assist Durham, who is revealing more secrets as he takes people to court. Durham has two active prosecutions, including a case against the main source for British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier and a case against former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, whose trial is scheduled to begin next month. Durham has obtained only a single guilty plea, which came from former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted to altering an email about a Trump campaign aide under government surveillance.

“The coordinated effort here that took place in 2016 was wide and broad. I think it involved folks in the Clinton campaign, in the Democratic national party, elected officials, media officials, folks that coordinated — intelligence community officials, and on down the line,” Ratcliffe said. “I’m not saying that every single one of those folks have criminal liability or exposure. I’m just saying this was a very coordinated effort and the more and more the public finds out about the things that I’ve seen that remain classified, they’ll be more and more appalled by those efforts in 2016.”

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“I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings..”

Joe Biden Met With Hunter Biden Business Partner At The White House 19 Times (NYP)

Hunter Biden’s closest business partner made at least 19 visits to the White House and other official locations between 2009 and 2015, including a sitdown with then-Vice President Joe Biden in the West Wing. Visitor logs from the White House of former President Barack Obama reviewed by The Post cast further doubt over Joe Biden’s claims that he knew nothing of his son’s dealings. Eric Schwerin met with Vice President Biden on November 17, 2010 in the West Wing, when he was the president of the since-dissolved investment fund Rosemont Seneca Partners. The logs also reveal that Schwerin met with various close aides of both Joe and Jill Biden at key moments in Hunter’s life when he was striking multi-million dollar deals in foreign countries, including China.


Yet President Biden has long insisted he had no involvement in his son’s foreign affairs. “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,” he said in 2019. ”Not everyone gets to meet the Vice President of the United States in the White House. The press should be asking why Hunter Biden’s business associates — like Eric Schwerin — had that privilege and were given access to the Obama White House,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin). “This is additional evidence that Joe Biden lied when he said he never discussed Hunter’s foreign business dealings. It’s well past time for the corporate media to demand the truth from Joe Biden. The corruption of Biden Inc. must be exposed.” Of all Hunter Biden’s business associates, Schwerin had the most intimate access to the vice president’s personal finances.

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For pete’s sake!

Wikipedia Kills Entry for Hunter Biden’s Investment Company (Turley)

Wikipedia editors are under fire this week for removing the entry for Rosemont Seneca Partners, the investment company connected to Hunter Biden and his alleged multimillion dollar influence peddling schemes. The site bizarrely claimed that the company was “not notable.” The timing itself is notable given the new disclosure that Hunter Biden’s business partner, Eric Schwerin, made at least 19 visits to the White House and other official locations between 2009 and 2015. That included a meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden despite Biden’s repeated claim that he knew nothing about his son’s business dealings. Schwerin was the president of Rosemont Seneca. Wikipedia has been accused of raw bias in removing the entry at a time when interest in the company is at its peak, including the possibility of an indictment of Hunter Biden over his financial dealings.

Rosemont Seneca is one of the most searched terms for those trying to understand the background on the Biden business operations. Yet, an editor known only as “Alex” wrote that the company was simply “not notable” — an absurd claim reminiscent of the recent claim by Atlantic Magazine’s writer Anne Applebaum that she did not cover the scandal because it simply was “not interesting.” Alex wrote: “This organization is only mentioned in connection with its famous founders, Hunter Biden and Christopher Heinz.” That itself is an odd statement. It is mentioned as one of the key conduits of alleged influence peddling money. Alex added that “keeping it around” ran the risk of the page becoming “a magnet for conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden.”

Any Wikipedia page could be a magnet for conspiracy theories, including the page on Hunter Biden himself. The fact is that this is a real company with real dealings that are the subject of a real criminal investigation. Indeed, various Republican members have already pledged to conduct investigations into this and other companies if they secure either house of Congress after the midterm elections. So Wikipedia killed it just as a United States Attorney is drilling down on financial dealings of Hunter Biden, including money received from foreign sources through Rosemont Seneca. The bias in the reference to the “conspiracy theories” is glaring. While some clearly misstate the facts of the Hunter Biden dealings (on both sides of the controversy), the central role of the company in these dealings is no conspiracy theory.

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Seems a bit repetitive, perhaps, but there’s a “new” element. Mules. “True the Vote bought three trillion geo-location signals from cellphones that were near drop boxes and also near election nonprofits..”

Are Democrats and Joe Biden Up To Their Old Election Tricks? (Devine)

There were lots of ways Democrats tried to tilt the playing field in their favor, some more successfully than others. Their pals in Big Tech censoring The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop coverage before the election was one triumph. Now pesky evidence is starting to emerge of systematic schemes to subvert the electoral process — which must not be allowed to happen again if we are to restore faith in elections. The most compelling evidence to date has emerged in “2000 Mules,” the upcoming documentary by conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who draws on research by election integrity group True The Vote to expose suspicious ballot harvesting.

Using cellphone geotracking and surveillance video, it shows a network of “mules” in battleground states busily collecting ballots from get-out-the-vote NGOs and stuffing them, a few at a time, into multiple drop boxes in the dead of night. The extent of the operation is jaw-dropping. True the Vote bought three trillion geo-location signals from cellphones that were near drop boxes and also near election nonprofits, from Oct. 1, 2020, through to the election on November 3. In Georgia the end date covered the Jan. 6, 2021, run-off. Then they went searching for “mules,” operatives who picked up ballots from election NGOs — such as Stacey Abrams’ outfit, “Fair Fight Action” — and then carried them to different drop boxes, depositing between three to 10 ballots in each box before moving to the next.

Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, chose the term “mule” because “it felt a lot like a cartel, it felt like trafficking . . . This is in its essence ballot trafficking . . . You have the collectors. You have the stash houses, which are the nonprofits. And then you have the mules that are doing the drops.” Data analyst Gregg Phillips set a threshold for each mule to visit at least 10 drop boxes within a defined area and at least five visits to one or more NGOs. For example, in the Atlanta-metro area they drew a line around 309 drop boxes and bought all the cellphone data of people that had been near those drop boxes and NGOs. That narrowed the search to 2,000 mules.

Then they went looking for public surveillance camera footage of those drop boxes. In all they found 4 million minutes across the country. The results are stunning. When a mule is matched with video, you can see the scheme come to life. A car pulls up at a drop box after midnight. A man gets out, looks around surreptitiously, approaches the box, stuffs in a handful of ballots and hightails it out of there. Then he goes to the next box, again and again. After Dec. 23, 2020, Phipps noticed mules in Georgia started wearing gloves. He pinpoints the change to an indictment for ballot stuffing handed up in Arizona on December 22. “The way the FBI nailed them was fingerprints.” After that, mules started wearing gloves.

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Shareholders complained. They fear losing billions.

Twitter Board ‘Seriously’ Starts Considering Musk’s Bid Offer (WG)

“Never say never,” they say. Well, it doesn’t take time for people to change their minds. Usually, the revelation of a new perspective does the trick. However, at times, external pressure triggers a stance flip. As a matter of fact, something similar has been happening in the Musk-Twitter saga. While it was initially perceived that Musk’s bid to acquire Twitter would not see sunlight, latest developments show that the doors remain to be wide open. Per recent reports, Twitter kicked off deal negotiations with Elon Musk on Sunday after he “wooed” many of the social media company’s shareholders with financing details on his $43 billion acquisition offer. In fact, per Wall Street Journal, they could finalize a deal as soon as this week itself.

Per Reuters, the company’s decision to engage with Musk does not essentially give the surety that it would accept his $54.20 per share bid. It just means that, the microblogging and social networking platform is now exploring whether or not a sale of the company to Musk is feasible on attractive terms. Well, it wouldn’t be wrong to claim that Musk is a people’s person. Time and again he has voiced out his opinion on n number of subjects on social media. Over the past few days, however, the Tesla exec has has been meeting Twitter shareholders, seeking support for his bid IRL. As a result, many shareholders have reached out to the company after Musk chalked out a detailed financing plan for his bid on Thursday and urged it not to let the opportunity for a deal slip away.


Per Reuters, Musk’s insistence that his bid for Twitter is his “best and final” has emerged as a hurdle in the deal negotiations. The report added, “Nevertheless, Twitter’s board has decided to engage with Musk to gather more information on his ability to complete the deal, and potentially get better terms… The company has not yet decided if it will explore a sale to put pressure on Musk to raise his bid” Here it is also worth noting that the social media giant wants to know more about any active investigations by regulators into Musk that could potentially be a risk to the deal. It is simultaneously also looking into whether regulators in any of the major markets it operates would object to Musk owning the company.

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Rednecks

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mar 202021
 
 March 20, 2021  Posted by at 9:01 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  26 Responses »


Gilles Mostaert Sodom and Gomorrah 1597

 

Joe Biden’s Dire Opening Chapter On The World Stage (Kimball)
Biden And Blinken’s Unprovoked Attacks On Russia And China Backfire (Ritter)
SecDef Austin Warns North Korea: US “Ready To Fight Tonight” (ZH)
Moscow Snubs Biden At UN, Only Sends Junior Diplomat To Virtual Summit (RT)
Putin Challenges Biden To Stair-Climbing Contest (BBee)
Erdogan Says Biden Comments On Putin ‘Unacceptable’ (R.)
Erdogan Fires Second Central Bank Chief In 4 Months (ZH)
Fauci Claims Babies, Toddlers Need To Be Vaccinated For Herd Immunity (SN)
Drugmakers Promise Investors They’ll Soon Hike Covid-19 Vaccine Prices
ONS Admits Ignoring Manufacturer Instructions in PCR Testing (LDS)
The ‘Independent’ Report Claiming Uyghur Genocide (CN)
UK Government Borrowing Hits February Record (BBC)
Toxic Chemicals, Plummeting Sperm Counts, Shrinking Penises (Erin Brockovich)

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I am not sure whether air-sickness bags were deployed. It was Alaska, after all, so maybe they just opened the window.”

Joe Biden’s Dire Opening Chapter On The World Stage (Kimball)

Consider, to take a very recent example, the exchange between the United States secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the Chinese director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, known to admirers and lackeys as ‘Tiger Yang’. The venue was Anchorage, Alaska, where Messrs. Blinken and Yang, along with assorted colleagues and retainers, met for a free and frank exchange of views. On the run up to the meeting, Blinken talked tough. ‘This is an important opportunity for us to lay out in very frank terms,’ he said, ‘the many concerns we have with Beijing’s actions and behavior that are challenging the security, prosperity and values of the US and our allies.’ Very frank. It was the first high-level meeting between members of the Biden administration and their Chinese counterparts. To say that it was a public relations disaster for the US is to understate the case.

Blinken and his sidekick, Jake Sullivan, a Hillary Clinton factotum who is now national security adviser, sat down to read China the riot act. It was not a success. Blinken emitted carefully polished clichés about our ‘deep concern’ over Chinas actions with regard to Hong Kong, Taiwan and other hot spots, its bullying of various European countries, and its campaign of cyber attacks against the US. This behavior, said Blinken, consulting that great compendium of diplomatic nostrums he learned in school, threatens ‘the rules-based order that maintains global stability’. I am not sure whether air-sickness bags were deployed. It was Alaska, after all, so maybe they just opened the window. Yang, speaking through a translator, shot back: ‘You can’t blame this problem on somebody else.’ Blinken went on to say that now, under Joe Biden, the United States was ‘back’ (where did it go, Tony?) and was ‘reengaging’ with its allies on the world stage.

Here’s where that short imperative I mentioned came in. The United States, said Yang, in one of the most dismissive diplomatic rejoinders I have ever heard, does not have the ‘qualifications’ to address China ‘from a position of strength’. F, my dear Blinken, you. [..] The Anchorage outrage was not an isolated incident. On the contrary, though it is early days yet in the Biden-Harris (or Harris-Biden) administration, a pattern of contempt for America and its leaders seems to be taking hold. In the course of a ‘what-flavor-is-your-milkshake’ valen- er, interview with George ‘I <3 Hillary’ Stephanopoulos, Biden was asked if he thought Russian president Vladimir Putin was a ‘killer’. He answered yes, in response to which Putin said he wished Biden the best of health and suggested they livestream a debate. Can you imagine what that would be like?

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It’s not fully impossible that they got what they wanted.

Biden And Blinken’s Unprovoked Attacks On Russia And China Backfire (Ritter)

In attacking the moral character of Russia’s president and China’s human rights record, the Biden administration opened the door for a critical examination of America’s own troubled history.President Joe Biden has defined his administration with the mantra of “America is back,” hinting at a return to what he and his supporters believe to be the halcyon days of President Barack Obama’s two-term tenure as president, as well as a sharp departure from the policies and practices of the man who usurped Hillary Clinton’s bite at the presidential apple, Donald Trump. In an effort to “build back better,” as Biden is wont to exclaim, his administration has embraced an ambitious agenda that aggressively seeks to both promote and install America as the world’s indispensable nation.

And yet, in the span of less than 24 hours, the president and his primary foreign policy advisor, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, managed to undermine the very policies they sought to promote through a combination of narcissistic posturing and plain diplomatic incompetence. By labeling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “soulless killer,” Biden put US-Russian relations in their worst posture since the Cold War. And Blinken, during the Biden administration’s initial meeting between the US and China, managed to unleash the ire and rage of Beijing by forgoing any pretense at diplomatic norms and aggressively calling out China on a host of issues which touched upon its sovereignty. The collapse of what passed for a coordinated position of diplomatically confronting both Russia and China has left the US scrambling to navigate through the detritus of its own policy shipwreck.

[..] If Biden and Psaki believed that US-Russian relations would return to square one following Biden’s undiplomatic insult, Putin quickly put that notion to bed. “The US authorities in general seek certain relations with us but only in areas the US is interested in, and on their own terms,” Putin said. “They think that we are just like them but we aren’t. Our genetic, cultural and moral codes are different. However, we know how to protect our interests. We will work with them [the US], but only in areas we are interested in and on terms we find favorable. They will have to take it into account, despite attempts to stop our development, sanctions and insults. We will be guided by our national interests when boosting relations with all countries, including the United States,” he concluded.

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The plan: Biden does Putin, Blinken does China, Austin does North Korea. Coincidence?

SecDef Austin Warns North Korea: US “Ready To Fight Tonight” (ZH)

In an unusually blunt threat and warning even for the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that US forces are ready to “fight tonight” in comments aimed at North Korea after an angry Pyongyang denounced the resumption of joint military exercises between the US and South Korea. “Our force remains ready to fight tonight, and we continue to make progress toward the eventual transition of wartime Operational Control to a [Republic of Korea]-commanded, future Combined Forces Command,” Austin said on Thursday.

He issued the words from Seoul at the tail end of his Asia trip this week alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South Korean leaders. Secretary Blinken had continued his denuclearization of the peninsula message, saying, “We are committed to the denuclearization of North Korea, reducing the broader threat the DPRK poses to the United States and our allies, and improving the lives of all Koreans, including the people of North Korea who continue to suffer widespread and systematic abuses at the hands of their repressive government.”

Pyongyang on Thursday slammed what DPRK first vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui called a “lunatic” and “hostile” policy. The senior North Korean diplomat said of the question of denuclearization talks that there will be no contact with Washington “unless the US rolls back its hostile policy towards the DPRK.” She said further: “Therefore, we will disregard such an attempt of the US in the future, too.” The “new regime” in the US, she added, had only put forward a “lunatic theory of ‘threat from north Korea’ and groundless rhetoric about ‘complete denuclearisation'”. The Biden administration has reportedly been attempting to reach out to the North via various diplomatic channels since mid-February, but to no avail.

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“Russia’s diplomatic mission was the only one that did not send its top figure to greet the American president.”

Moscow Snubs Biden At UN, Only Sends Junior Diplomat To Virtual Summit (RT)

Russia was the only nation that refused to send its top UN representative to talks with US President Joe Biden on Thursday, electing instead to dispatch a junior envoy, as a diplomatic row between Moscow and Washington worsens. President Biden had invited permanent representatives from the United Nations Security Council, on which Moscow has continuous representation, to discuss his country’s “commitment to values-based global leadership.” In addition, the president called for action on crises in regions across the world, including Myanmar, Ethiopia, Syria, and Yemen. However, Dmitry Polyanskiy, second-in-command to Russia’s permanent representative, Vassily Nebenzia, confirmed on Friday that neither had attended the meeting.


Instead, he revealed, Anna Evstigneeva, one of three more junior deputies, had joined the talks with Biden in their place. She reportedly made no remarks. RIA Novosti reports that Russia’s diplomatic mission was the only one that did not send its top figure to greet the American president. The decision comes amid a week in which Biden and his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, have traded barbs in the press. In an explosive interview with ABC earlier this week, Biden was asked whether he thought Putin was a killer. “Mmm hmm, I do,” Biden replied. On Thursday, the Russian leader responded, arguing that judging other countries is often “like looking in a mirror.” “When I was a kid, when we were arguing with each other in the playground, we used to say, ‘Whatever you say [about others] is what you are yourself,’” Putin said.

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“The winner of the contest will gain control of the other country.”

Putin Challenges Biden To Stair-Climbing Contest (BBee)

Vladimir Putin has challenged Joe Biden to a contest of wits, strength, and cunning: a stair-ascending contest. The winner of the contest will gain control of the other country. “Stair-ascending contest, me and you, right now, let’s go,” said Putin as he met with the American president. “He who wins become supreme glorious leader forever of other puny weak man.” Biden agreed to the contest, though it wasn’t clear he knew who this man was or where they were. “3… 2… 1… climb!” shouted the referee before firing off a pistol. Biden got off to a rocky start as he was startled by the gunshot and scurried off in the wrong direction. Putin, meanwhile, just walked up the stairs.


Biden started gaining on him as his handlers corralled him and pointed him in the right direction, but he kept falling over and tumbling down the stairs. It all looked good for Russia until Putin had to stop a few times to sign execution papers for journalists who criticized him, squandering his lead. Finally, Biden jumped in a stair lift and started to close the gap, but it was too little, too late, and Putin emerged at the top of the 30-step staircase victorious. Well, thanks to Biden losing the stair contest, we are now part of Russia. We also just want to say that Vladimir Putin is one fine fellow and a fantastic man, and he deserved to win and we welcome him as our new leader for life.

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Easy.

Erdogan Says Biden Comments On Putin ‘Unacceptable’ (R.)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Joe Biden’s comments about Russia’s Vladimir Putin, in which he said he thought he was a killer, were “unacceptable” and unfitting of a U.S. president. In a TV interview broadcast on Wednesday, Biden said “I do” when asked if he believed Putin was a killer, prompting U.S.-Russia ties to sink to a new low. Putin later responded that “he who said it, did it.” “Mr. Biden’s statements about Mr. Putin are not fitting of a president, and a president coming out and using such remarks against the president of a country like Russia is truly unacceptable, not something that can be stomached,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.


“In my opinion, Mr. Putin has done what is necessary by giving a very, very smart and elegant answer,” he added. Ties between Ankara and Washington, NATO allies, have been strained over a host of issues in recent years including Turkey’s record on human rights and freedoms, its acquisition of Russian defence systems and policy differences in Syria. The United States, which along with other western allies has accused Ankara of straying from NATO and the western bloc, last year imposed sanctions on Turkey over the Russian defences. Turkey called that a “grave mistake”.

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Not so easy. Erdogan still wants to control what he can’t.

Erdogan Fires Second Central Bank Chief In 4 Months (ZH)

On Thursday, moments after the Central Bank of Turkey unexpectedly hiked rates by a whopping 200bps – double the consensus expectation – to 19% from 17%, the highest rate since the country’s panicked scramble to contain the collapse of the Turkish lira during the economic turmoil of 2018, we said that “unfortunately for Turkey – whose economy will now grind to yet another halt – it had no choice: inflation had accelerated for a fifth month in February as oil rallied and the impact of last year’s lira weakness lingered, while capital outflows soared. The upward trend fueled expectations the central bank would try to rein in prices by raising interest rates… but nobody had expected a 200 bps rate hike.”

Also in our kneejerk response to the rate hike decision, we said that the relatively new CBRT head, Agbal, “was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t: on one hand the lira was plunging angering Erdogan, so he had to stabilize it… on the other the only way to do so was by hiking rates, which would anger Erdogan even more.” We also quoted from the CBRT’s decision, noting that the bank has decided “to implement a front-loaded and strong additional monetary tightening,” explicitly stating that this “statement is guaranteed to enrage Turkey’s dictator.” Bottom line: Erdogan would be furious either way.

Finally, we quoted SocGen EM strategist Phoenix Kalen who tried to justify the rate hike with some lofty sleight of logic by saying that “in a challenging context of domestic business and political pressure against further interest rate hikes, the CBRT has stepped up to the plate and delivered a resounding home run to underline its commitment to an inflation-targeting framework.” Kalen then said that the move “will go a long way toward bolstering both retail and foreign investor confidence that the CBRT under Governor Agbal will stay engaged in addressing deterioration in inflation expectations.” While we were impressed with Kalen’s attempt to make 5-D chess out of what was basically total chaos, our take was far more cynical Maybe… or maybe it will just force Erdogan to replace yet another CBRT governor.

Two days later, our cynical view proved correct again, because shortly after midnight on Saturday, and just two days after the larger than expected rate hike, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired the country’s third central bank governor in less than two years and replaced him with a fan of lowering interest rates. Naci Agbal, Turkey’s former finance minister who was appointed central bank chief last November, was fired by Erdogan and was replaced with Sahap Kavcioglu, according to a decree published after midnight on Saturday in the Official Gazette. Agbal’s abrupt termination is a clear retaliation by Erodgan for last week’s unexpectedly big rate hike, one which does not fit within the absurd confines of “Erdoganomics” whereby lower rates are somehow needed to fight inflation.

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How scary would you like it?

Fauci Claims Babies, Toddlers Need To Be Vaccinated For Herd Immunity (SN)

Dr Anthony Fauci has claimed that in order for herd immunity against coronavirus to be reached in the US, children and even babies will have to be vaccinated. Speaking during a Senate hearing, the chief medical adviser to the Biden administration said “I think we should be careful about wedding ourselves to this concept of herd immunity because we really do not know precisely, for this particular virus, what that is.” “We don’t really know what that magical point of herd immunity is, but we do know that if we get the overwhelming population vaccinated, we’re going to be in good shape. We ultimately would like to get and have to get children into that mix,” Fauci added. Appearing later on CBS News, Fauci outlined plans to vaccinate children as young as six month old babies early next year.


On Wednesday, Fauci dismissed concerns that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines could impact children’s genetics. “We’re going to be looking at multiple aspects of safety,” Fauci told reporters, adding “There is really no biological reason at all to indicate or even predict that you would even see any modification of a genetic profile when you’re dealing with mRNA, which has no way of integrating into the genome of a cell.” Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are both currently running tests of their mRNA vaccines in children. Moderna has also revealed that it has a study underway in children under 12 that will eventually include those as young as six month old babies. CDC figures show that of almost 400,000 US deaths counted as from COVID-19, just 93 were children 4-years-old and younger.

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“As this shifts from pandemic to endemic, we think there’s an opportunity here for us..”

Drugmakers Promise Investors They’ll Soon Hike Covid-19 Vaccine Prices (IC)

THE U.S. pharmaceutical firms behind the approved coronavirus vaccines — Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer — have quietly touted plans to raise prices on coronavirus vaccines in the near future and to capitalize on the virus’s lasting presence. While the companies have enjoyed a boost in goodwill from the rush to develop vaccines, drug industry executives have noted, the public is still sensitive to drug pricing and the reputational risk has, so far, curtailed their ability to reap large financial rewards. But that environment, they hope, will change once the pandemic ends: a date that drugmakers themselves reserve the right to declare. Pharmaceutical officials, speaking at recent conferences and on calls with investors, say they expect the virus will linger, morphing from a pandemic into a perennial endemic.

And as Covid-19 mutations continue to spread and booster shots may be required on a regular basis, leaders from the three companies are enthusiastic about cashing in. “As this shifts from pandemic to endemic, we think there’s an opportunity here for us,” said Frank D’Amelio, the chief financial officer for Pfizer, at a conference. Additional factors, such as the need for booster shots, present “a significant opportunity for our vaccine from a demand perspective, from a pricing perspective, given the clinical profile of our vaccine.” Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have also pledged affordability for their vaccines for the duration of the pandemic but have indicated to investors that they plan to return to more “commercial” pricing as early as later this year.

The vaccines are already poised to be some of the most lucrative drugs of all time. The companies are expecting to bring in billions in profit this year alone, and all the major drugmakers with approved coronavirus vaccines received investments and backorders from government agencies. The U.S. government has fully financed the research and development of several coronavirus vaccines, including those produced by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, to the tune of over $2 billion. The U.S. has also provided nearly $2 billion in payments to secure doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which was developed in partnership with BioNTech, a company that received nearly $500 million in development assistance from the German government.

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“..it has been reporting PCR tests as positive when only a single coronavirus gene is detected..”

“Between a quarter and two thirds of positive results were affected..”

ONS Admits Ignoring Manufacturer Instructions in PCR Testing (LDS)

The Office for National Statistics has admitted that in its Covid infection survey it has been reporting PCR tests as positive when only a single coronavirus gene is detected, despite this being contrary to the instructions of the manufacturer that two or more target genes must be found before a positive result can be declared. According to a rapid response in the BMJ this week by Dr Martin Neil, a statistics professor at the University of London, targeting only a single gene in this way massively increases the risk of a false positive because of the possibility of cross-reactivity with other coronaviruses as well as prevalent bacteria or other contamination. Digging into the detail of the methods followed by the lighthouse laboratories which process the tests for the ONS, Professor Neil writes:

“The kit used by the Glasgow and Milton Keynes lighthouse laboratories is the ThermoFisher TaqPath RT-PCR which tests for the presence of three target genes from SARS-COV-2. Despite Corman et al originating the use of PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 genes there is no agreed international standard for SARS-COV-2 testing. Instead, the World Health Organisation (WHO) leaves it up to the manufacturer to determine what genes to use and instructs end users to adhere to the manufacturer instructions for use. The WHO’s emergency use assessment for the ThermoFisher TaqPath kit includes the instruction manual and contained therein is an interpretation algorithm describing an unequivocal requirement that two or more target genes be detected before a positive result can be declared.

The latest revision of ThermoFisher’s instruction manual contains the same algorithm. The WHO have been sufficiently concerned about correct use of RT-PCR kits that on January 20th 2021 they issued a notice for PCR users imploring them to review manufacturer instructions for use carefully and adhere to them fully. The ONS’s report of December 5th 2020 lists SARS-CoV-2 positive results for valid two and three target gene combinations and the report of December 21st does the same, for samples processed by the Glasgow and Milton Keynes lighthouse laboratories. However, it also lists single gene detections as positive results.” Between a quarter and two thirds of positive results were affected, Professor Neil found.

“Over the period reported the maximum weekly percentage of positives on a single gene is 38% for the whole of the UK for the week of February 1st. The overall UK average was 23%. The maximum percentage reported is 65%, in East England in the week beginning October 5th. In Wales it was 50%, in Northern Ireland it is 55% and in Scotland it was 56%. The full data including averages and maxima/minima are given in.”

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We need more questions for this narrative.

The ‘Independent’ Report Claiming Uyghur Genocide (CN)

The report relies most substantially on the “expertise” of Adrian Zenz, the far-right evangelical ideologue, whose “scholarship” on China has been demonstrated to be flawed, riddled with falsehoods and dishonest statistical manipulation. The reliance on the voluminous but demonstrably fraudulent work of Zenz is not surprising, given that the report was financed by the Newlines Institute’s parent organization, the Fairfax University of America (FXUA). FXUA is a disgraced institution that Virginia state regulators moved to shut down in 2019 after finding that its “teachers weren’t qualified to teach their assigned courses”, academic quality was “patently deficient,” and plagiarism was “rampant” and ignored.

Just days before the Newlines Institute published its “expert” report accusing China of genocide, an advisory board to the U.S. Department of Education recommended terminating recognition of FXUA’s accreditor, placing its license in jeopardy. The Newlines report presents no new material on the condition of Uyghur Muslims in China. Instead, it claims to have reviewed all of “the available evidence” and applied “international law to the evidence of the facts on the ground.” Rather than conducting a thorough and comprehensive review of “the available evidence,” the report restricted its survey to a narrow range of flawed pseudo-scholarship along with reports by U.S. government-backed lobbying fronts for the exiled Uyghur separatist movement. It was upon this faulty foundation that the report applies legal analysis related to the UN Genocide Convention.

Newlines’ report relies primarily on the dubious studies of Zenz, the U.S. government propaganda outlet, Radio Free Asia, and claims made by the U.S.-funded separatist network, the World Uyghur Congress. These three sources comprise more than one-third of the references used to construct the factual basis of the document, with Zenz as the most heavily relied upon source – cited on more than 50 occasions. Many of the remaining references cite the work of members of Newlines Institute’s “Uyghur Scholars Working Group,” of which Zenz is a founding member and which is made up of a small group of academics who collaborate with him and support his conclusions.

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Well, well. Get your MMT at the BBC.

UK Government Borrowing Hits February Record (BBC)

Ultimately, if it’s consistently spending much more than it has in the past, the state has to raise more money in taxes. But the key word there is “ultimately”. There is no urgency to repaying the government’s debt. More urgent are the debts of small businesses and poorer households. Ordinary households rightly fear getting into too much debt because if interest rates rise, lenders can close in and deploy lawyers and bailiffs with all the attendant unpleasantness. But it is profoundly wrong and misleading to infer that it’s like that for governments who issue their own sovereign currency. Unlike households, governments controlling their own currency can borrow without limit money that they have freshly created.


They therefore can’t go bankrupt. Because almost all of the money borrowed by the government in this financial year (by issuing gilts) will be owed to another public sector body, the Bank of England, it’s nothing like a household borrowing from a bank. And in fact, as the government tacitly acknowledged in its recent Budget, it makes sense in the midst of an economic contraction for the government to spend more, not less – not least because other parts of the economy (households and businesses) aren’t spending anything like what they normally would. Without the additional government spending the economic contraction would, without a shadow of a doubt, be worse.

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We’ll defeat ourselves yet.

Toxic Chemicals, Plummeting Sperm Counts, Shrinking Penises (Erin Brockovich)


The end of humankind? It may be coming sooner than we think, thanks to hormone-disrupting chemicals that are decimating fertility at an alarming rate around the globe. A new book called Countdown, by Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, finds that sperm counts have dropped almost 60% since 1973. Following the trajectory we are on, Swan’s research suggests sperm counts could reach zero by 2045. Zero. Let that sink in. That would mean no babies. No reproduction. No more humans. Forgive me for asking: why isn’t the UN calling an emergency meeting on this right now? The chemicals to blame for this crisis are found in everything from plastic containers and food wrapping, to waterproof clothes and fragrances in cleaning products, to soaps and shampoos, to electronics and carpeting.

Some of them, called PFAS, are known as “forever chemicals”, because they don’t breakdown in the environment or the human body. They just accumulate and accumulate – doing more and more damage, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Now, it seems, humanity is reaching a breaking point. Swan’s book is staggering in its findings. “In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” Swan writes. In addition to that, Swan finds that, on average, a man today will have half of the sperm his grandfather had. “The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,” writes Swan, adding: “It’s a global existential crisis.” That’s not hyperbole. That’s just science.

As if this wasn’t terrifying enough, Swan’s research finds that these chemicals aren’t just dramatically reducing semen quality, they are also shrinking penis size and volume of the testes. This is nothing short of a full-scale emergency for humanity. Swan’s book echoes previous research, which has found that PFAS harms sperm production, disrupts the male hormone and is correlated to a “reduction of semen quality, testicular volume and penile length”. These chemicals are literally confusing our bodies, making them send mix messages and go haywire.

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