Jan 112023
 
 January 11, 2023  Posted by at 9:45 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  86 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Ex-slave with long memory, Alabama 1937

 

Zelensky Achieves Unique Results In The Destruction Of Ukraine (Zadorozhnaya)
Wagner Group Claims Full Control Of Soledar (RT)
What Would It Take? (Saker)
A Rift in the Lute? (Batiushka)
G7 Seeks Two Price Caps For Russian Oil Products (RT)
G7 Wants To Force India To Accept Russian Oil Price Cap – Reuters (RT)
The Ukrainian Crisis And Europe – The Opinion Of Experts (Milacic)
Why The CIA Attempted A ‘Maidan Uprising’ In Brazil (Escobar)
Biden’s Classified-Records Headache Is Garland’s Nightmare (Turley)
Biden May Have Taken Secret Documents For His Book (Turley)
We Now Have Evidence Pfizer Committed Fraud (midwesterndoctor)
Excess Deaths In 2022 Among Worst In 50 Years (BBC)

 

 

 

 

Tucker op-ed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you read one thing today… Alyona Zadorozhnaya, translated for the Saker. Devastating.

Zelensky Achieves Unique Results In The Destruction Of Ukraine (Zadorozhnaya)

By the end of 2022, Vladimir Zelensky has achieved unique and in many ways tragic results. He managed to reduce the population of Ukraine to the level of a century ago, put the country in bondage to the West and deprive fellow citizens of the elementary benefits of civilization. What other “successes” could be added to Zelensky’s track record? In 2023, a catastrophic drop in the birth rate is expected in Ukraine. This was stated by the director of the Ptukha Institute of Demography and Social Research, academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Ella Libanova. According to her, by 2030 the population will decrease to 35 million people, and the reduction process has been going on since 1994. At the same time, Libanova assures that 34-35 million people still live in Ukraine.

However, these figures are questionable. The number of refugees who arrived in Russia from the territory of Donbass and Ukraine has already exceeded five million people. In the summer, according to the UN, there were about 6.3 million Ukrainian citizens who left the country in all the European states. Experts are convinced that Libanova gives inflated figures – and already today there are significantly fewer people living in Ukraine than she claims.. “Even before the start of the SVO, it was difficult to understand how many people really live in Ukraine. Official figures were around 40 million people, while in reality there were approximately 33 million people, if not less,” economist Ivan Lizan told the newspaper VZGLYAD. “From 2016 to 2019, Ukrainians were leaders among those who obtained primary residence permits in Poland. Every year, up to 500 thousand people “flowed out” this way. Also, do not forget that a large number of their refugees have recently moved to Europe,” the expert emphasizes.

“Thus, there are at best 25-27 million people left in Ukraine, which is comparable to the population as of the 1920s of the last century. Mostly men remained in the country, because they were simply banned from traveling abroad,” the source notes. “I am sure that these trends will continue in 2023. We will also observe internal migration. In those areas of the front where the situation is heating up, people will run away. As, for example, from the Kiev–controlled part of Donbass, local residents fled to Dnepropetrovsk,” the economist claims. “A terrible situation is developing in the labor market. State employees mostly live on bare salaries. Teachers who are forced to move to other regions of Ukraine due to the proximity of hostilities have enough money only to pay for rented housing,” says Lizan.

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Bakhmut is next.

Wagner Group Claims Full Control Of Soledar (RT)

Units of Wagner Group have taken control of the “entire territory” of Soledar, the head of the private military company Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed on Tuesday evening. Fighting is still going on in the center of town, where an unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers has been encircled. “There is a cauldron in the center of town, where urban fighting is taking place,” Prigozhin said in a statement released to the media. “We’ll announce the number of prisoners tomorrow.” He added that only Wagner “and no other units” had taken part in the storming of Soledar. A video showing two Wagner fighters standing calmly outside the town administration building was released on social media earlier in the day.


Such recordings, usually accompanied with geospatial coordinates, have commonly been used during the conflict to announce territorial control. Named after its salt mines, Soledar had around 10,000 residents before the conflict. The Ukrainian army turned it into a strongpoint after being pushed out of Popasnaya in mid-2022. Russian control over the town creates problems for Kiev’s forces in the embattled bastion of Artyomovsk, which Ukraine has renamed Bakhmut. Prigozhin said last week that his objective was not necessarily to take the towns, but “the destruction of the Ukrainian army and the reduction of its combat potential.” On Sunday, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky acknowledged that the situation in Soledar was “very difficult” and called it “one of the bloodiest spots along the front line,” but vowed that Ukrainian troops would continue to hold “no matter what.”

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“..it appears that 40% of the Ukrainian electrical grid is down forever, since nobody (except Russia) can replace the extremely heavy (and costly) transformers..”

What Would It Take? (Saker)

NATO did “celebrate” the Orthodox Nativity, but in its own way. First, a few headlines:
Remember the truce offered by Russia? It was rejected. Instead we got this:
• Donetsk shelled in first minute of Christmas truce – authorities
• Two Serbs shot in Kosovo Christmas Eve attack
And, just to clarify, NATO uses Serbia as a defenseless victim to show Russia what it can do to its allies, the message being, as Stoble Talbott said, “after Serbia, you are next”, so the link here is strong. NATO did not stop at that, it also continued its policy of persecutions, see these headlines:
• Zelensky sanctions over 100 Russian public figures
• Zelensky deprives Orthodox priests of citizenship – media.
Speaking of issues of freedom of religion, NATO is planning to completely ban the parishes which used to have an autonomous status under the Moscow Patriarchate, which then turned against Moscow and condemned the SMO. But that was not enough, so, just like in NATO occupied Kosovo, the persecution of Orthodox clergy and faithful is both a “feel good” operation for Orthodoxy-haters and a “message” to Moscow. NATO did not stop at that, it also announced yet another military aid package for Banderastan: (no translation needed I suppose)

None of that will be enough to make a difference, but there are many more such “aid” programs being discussed, so NATO wants to continue to draw out this war for as long as possible and fight the Russians down to the last Ukrainian. Not that any of this did any good to “Ze” and his gang: having rejected the Russian truce, the Ukronazis are now loosing the towns of Soledar and Artemovsk (see here for details), which are not only tactical victories for the Russians, but this now threatens the operational defenses of the Ukronazis which will have to fall back on what we could call a “third line of defense” if they want to restabilize the front.


Russia has also continued with her strikes, including an absolutely huge explosion at the NATO base in Ochakovo and a retaliatory attack following the HIMARS strike which killed nearly 100 Russian soldiers. The retaliatory attack was aimed at two barracks in Kramatorsk and, according to the Russian, it killed 600 Ukronazis soldiers. Finally, it appears that 40% of the Ukrainian electrical grid is down forever, since nobody (except Russia) can replace the extremely heavy (and costly) transformers needed to reconnect that grid (now all electrical power is local, with no means to distribute it through the grid).

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“Civil war in the USA. Bankruptcy in the UK. Collapse in Germany. Revolt in France and Southern Europe. Chaos in Eastern Europe. The end of NATO.”

A Rift in the Lute? (Batiushka)

There is no such thing as racial superiority among modern woke Americans, only of moral superiority. This is in fact even more insulting and condescending nonsense, which means the acceptance of ‘our’ values, i.e. ‘freedom and democracy’. Thus, Victorian London imposed the Puritan Englishman as the model for salvation (‘wash more often and your skin will become as white as ours’), whereas ‘liberal’ Washington says ‘wear jeans and trainers, eat at MacDonalds, drink coca cola and watch Disney, and you too will be saved, even though you are the wrong skin colour’. Same old, same old. Among the Victorians there were politicians with personalities: Palmerston, Disraeli and Gladstone, the only one adored by Bulgarians. Of course, the first two were obnoxious imperialists – but they did have personalities.

Among them we can also include the Kurd-gassing Churchill and the Pinochet-loving Thatcher. They were Victorians in their mentality. Racist to the core. But they did have personalities. It seems now that they were the last of the line. After Thatcher came a series of nonentities, the believing in his own delusions Blair and then in 2022 the three geniuses: Johnson, whose name is now a synonym for a buffoon; Truss, who gave the world a new word, a ‘Trussism’, e.g. ‘Peru is the capital of Africa’ or ‘Inflation is overcome by printing more money’; and then there is the Indian banker, sunny Sunak, not quite a billionaire, but well on his way. Say no more.

Such British geniuses should recall that the neocons who run NATO and then think that if they extend their war in the Ukraine and hope to drag it out for a decade or so, that will destroy Russia. Clearly, they live not in the real world, but in a virtual world. The longer it lasts, the greater the damage to the West. This is what they will create: Civil war in the USA. Bankruptcy in the UK. Collapse in Germany. Revolt in France and Southern Europe. Chaos in Eastern Europe. The end of NATO. The trouble is that, as Col. Douglas MacGregor always quotes his Spanish NATO friend as saying: ‘The USA is not another country, it is another planet’. Having been to different parts of the USA four times, visiting from the Old World, I can confirm the words of the Spanish officer.

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Exercise in futility.

G7 Seeks Two Price Caps For Russian Oil Products (RT)

The Group of Seven (G7) coalition will seek to set two price caps on Russian refined products in February, one for products trading at a premium to crude oil and the other for those trading at a discount, a G7 official said, Report informs via Reuters. The coalition – which consists of Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States, plus the 27-nation European Union – introduced a $60 per barrel price cap on Russian crude from Dec. 5, on top of the EU embargo on imports of Russian crude by sea. From Feb. 5, the coalition will also impose price caps on Russian products, such as diesel, kerosene and fuel oil, to further reduce Moscow’s revenue from energy exports and its ability to finance its invasion of Ukraine. But capping Russian oil product prices is more complicated than setting a price limit on crude alone, because there are many oil products and their price often depends on where they are bought, rather than where they are produced, the official said, asking not to be named.

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India is an independent country.

G7 Wants To Force India To Accept Russian Oil Price Cap – Reuters (RT)

The G7 intends to impose two price caps on Russian petroleum products in February that will target refined products trading at a premium to oil and those which are being sold at a discount, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing an unnamed G7 official. Additional restrictions would come on top of the previously agreed upon price ceiling on oil products, such as diesel, kerosene and fuel oil, which is due to come into force on February 5. Late last year, the EU, G7 countries, and Australia introduced a price cap on Russian seaborne oil exports, which bans Western companies from providing insurance and other services to vessels transporting Russian oil unless the cargo is purchased at or below the set price. Imposing a price ceiling on refined products is more complicated than capping crude alone, the official told Reuters, explaining that the price of oil products “often depends on where they are bought, rather than where they are produced.”


Meanwhile, India may also join the Russian oil price cap if crude costs go above $60 per barrel, The Telegraph reported on Tuesday, citing the country’s oil ministry and industry officials. Oil supplies to India, which remained Russia’s top importer for three months in a row as of December, have not been affected by Western sanctions, as the country is buying crude at a discount with prices standing between $53 to $56 per barrel, the outlet said, quoting sources familiar with the matter. Russia supplied a record 1.17 million barrels a day to New Delhi in December, up from November volumes by 24%, according to oil-flow tracking data from energy intelligence company Vortexa. Indian authorities, however, are “weighing options” to slash oil imports from Russia if the EU imposes additional restrictions for nations buying crude from the sanctioned country or if the price crosses the set limit of $60 per barrel, according to the outlet.

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“Treating Ukrainian soldiers in German hospitals is a good sign of humanity. Sending weapons and training soldiers has nothing to do with humanity.”

The Ukrainian Crisis And Europe – The Opinion Of Experts (Milacic)

Since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, we have been bombarded with mass information and opinions about the war and Europe’s attitude towards it. As someone who deals with geopolitics, I carefully followed the conferences and debates of European experts and politicians and their arguments. That is exactly why I would recommend the online conference and debate that was held on January 5th. The information presented in the debate is very interesting for anyone dealing with the Ukrainian crisis and European policy towards the crisis.

Hansjörg MÜLLER (former member of Bundestag from AfD): Training soldiers makes Germany participant of the war. A Bundestag council stated that Russia would be right if attacking Germany in the framework of international law, because Germany started participating in anti-Russian aggression. Treating Ukrainian soldiers in German hospitals is a good sign of humanity. Sending weapons and training soldiers has nothing to do with humanity. It is act of aggression of war. Regarding the peace opposition in Germany: about 40 percent of German citizens do not believe the media propaganda that Russia started the war. Every history has its prehistory. The war did not start 24.2.2022, but six days earlier, when Ukraine started to shell Donbass 10 times more than before.

The prehistory for that is the illegal coup on Maidan, which was financed and operated by the Americans. In Bratislava conference NATO drew a red line where Baltic States, Ukraine and Belarus should be dragged into NATO. All this started in the beginning of the 20th century, when the Anglo-Saxons realised that if the German empire develops further, there will be a power independent of Anglo-Saxon control of seaways, which was the initial spark of the WWI. The ongoing crisis is nothing more than continuation of the ongoing Anglo-Saxon aggression against Germany and Russia for more than 120 years. Land-Lease of 1941 was renewed in 2022. Who provoked this war? It is the Anglo-American weapons industry. There will be no regime change in Russia. The main questions is: who has bigger warehouses and production of weapons. When Russia wins, it will be a change for the new financial system and a big blew for the US.

Patrick POPPEL (geopolitical expert from Austria): Austria is part of the West in this conflict and supporting the interest of NATO. NATO is supporting Ukraine. Austria is a neutral country by constitutional law but in practice not. Also during the pandemics, many politicians worked against the law and the constitution of Austria. People in our government and the media are not neutral. Neutrality is the special weapon of Austria. This neutrality was given to us by Russia, because SovietUnion liberated us. Austria was kept outside NATO and Warsaw Pact and given a constitution of neutrality. Supporting Ukraine is a big mistake because Austria is loosing the reputation of neutral country.

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BRI.

Why The CIA Attempted A ‘Maidan Uprising’ In Brazil (Escobar)

The failed coup in Brazil is the latest CIA stunt, just as the country is forging stronger ties with the east. A former US intelligence official has confirmed that the shambolic Maidan remix staged in Brasilia on 8 January was a CIA operation, and linked it to the recent attempts at color revolution in Iran. On Sunday, alleged supporters of former right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro stormed Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential palace, bypassing flimsy security barricades, climbing on roofs, smashing windows, destroying public property including precious paintings, while calling for a military coup as part of a regime change scheme targeting elected President Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva. According to the US source, the reason for staging the operation – which bears visible signs of hasty planning – now, is that Brazil is set to reassert itself in global geopolitics alongside fellow BRICS states Russia, India, and China.

That suggests CIA planners are avid readers of Credit Suisse strategist Zoltan Pozsar, formerly of the New York Fed. In his ground-breaking 27 December report titled War and Commodity Encumbrance, Pozsar states that “the multipolar world order is being built not by G7 heads of state but by the ‘G7 of the East’ (the BRICS heads of state), which is a G5 really but because of ‘BRICSpansion’, I took the liberty to round up.” He refers here to reports that Algeria, Argentina, Iran have already applied to join the BRICS – or rather its expanded version “BRICS+” – with further interest expressed by Saudi Arabia, Turkiye, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Indonesia. The US source drew a parallel between the CIA’s Maidan in Brazil and a series of recent street demonstrations in Iran instrumentalized by the agency as part of a new color revolution drive: “These CIA operations in Brazil and Iran parallel the operation in Venezuela in 2002 that was highly successful at the start as rioters managed to seize Hugo Chavez.”

Straussian neo-cons placed at the top of the CIA, irrespective of their political affiliation, are livid that the “G7 of the East” – as in the BRICS+ configuration of the near future – are fast moving out of the US dollar orbit. Straussian John Bolton – who has just publicized his interest in running for the US presidency – is now demanding the ouster of Turkey from NATO as the Global South realigns rapidly within new multipolar institutions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his new Chinese counterpart Qin Gang have just announced the merging of the China-driven Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Russia-driven Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). This means that the largest 21st century trade/connectivity/development project – the Chinese New Silk Roads – is now even more complex, and keeps expanding.

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“..some of those experts have rushed to distinguish the two cases and assure us that there really is no comparison..”

Biden’s Classified-Records Headache Is Garland’s Nightmare (Turley)

The Justice Department reportedly is investigating the discovery of 10 classified documents found in an old private office used by President Biden when he served as vice president. The discovery could not come at a worse time for the Justice Department — or a better time for former President Trump. While there are significant differences in the number of the documents involved in each case and the reported response of the Biden and Trump teams, the underlying allegation — removing and retaining classified material — is the same. Moreover, there remain questions that are likely to be pursued by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in the coming weeks. Those questions not only deal with the scope of the alleged violations but the increasingly conflicted and irreconcilable positions of Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding the Biden and Trump investigations.

Biden’s lawyers have said they found the documents just days before the midterm elections and are “cooperating with the National Archives and the Department of Justice regarding the discovery of what appear to be Obama-Biden Administration records.” The White House Counsel’s Office notified the National Archives on Nov. 2 of the discovery as it was closing out a Washington office, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, that Biden used as part of his relationship with the University of Pennsylvania after he left the vice presidency in 2017. That academic appointment itself is considered controversial by some Biden critics. Biden was made an honorary professor from 2017 to 2019 and reportedly paid nearly $1 million for a few visits to the school. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, he was paid $371,159 in 2017 and $540,484 in 2018-2019. He has used the appointment to claim the status of a professor in speeches.

The newly discovered material reportedly includes some top-secret files with the “sensitive compartmented information” designation, also known as TS-SCI, which is used for highly sensitive information obtained from intelligence sources. There is no accusation of false statements or obstruction in this instance, both of which are being investigated in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago matter. However, the incident further highlights AG Garland’s unintelligible position. This controversy will again raise prior cases of knowing or negligent removal of classified material by government officials and the relatively light punishment given in even some of the most egregious cases. After the raid on Mar-a-Lago, experts and pundits went into a frenzy about Trump being given an “orange jumpsuit,” and some insisted that even a misdemeanor conviction should bar him from office. It is not clear if the same view (which I criticized then) will now apply to Biden — but some of those experts have rushed to distinguish the two cases and assure us that there really is no comparison.

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“.. Biden insisted “if I had intended to cheat, would I have been so stupid?” Many are likely to be asking the same question in the weeks ahead.”

Biden May Have Taken Secret Documents For His Book (Turley)

“How that could possibly happen, how anyone could be that irresponsible,” President Biden, struggling to find words to express his revulsion at the very idea of moving classified material to Mar-a-Lago in a “60 Minutes” interview. “And I thought what data was in there that may compromise sources and methods.” So how does Biden explain the roughly dozen documents found sitting in a closet at a private office supplied by the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement? For the moment, he is not saying anything at all. It is easy to understand why. According to reports, the clearly marked classified documents include those at the highly classified “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information” (TS/SCI) level. The documents reportedly include material related to Iran, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. When the documents on such subjects were found at Mar-a-Lago, media experts immediately opined that Donald Trump may have sold material or was endangering national security for a book or vanity.

For two days, Biden has refused to answer questions from reporters as his allies in the media struggle for a spin out of this scandal. His silence is hardly surprising. Biden has always been better at expressing revulsion than responsibility. Time and again, he has literally rushed before cameras to denounce others, often without basis, for alleged crimes. He has not waited for investigations, let alone trials. For instance, when mounted agents were falsely accused of whipping migrants in Texas, the president was there. Even though the whipping story was clearly refuted by the available videotape, Biden rode the wave of media outrage, declaring: “It was horrible what — to see, as you saw — to see people treated like they did: horses nearly running them over and people being strapped. It’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay.” This week, the president appeared on the southern border and held a photo op with border agents. Yet he has never had the decency to apologize to the agents who were cleared of all whipping allegations. Instead, his administration is still seeking to punish them on other grounds.

Biden may have to take responsibility for this debacle, but he faces a potential criminal charge. While Attorney General Merrick Garland has again refused to appoint a special counsel, any acknowledgment of Biden’s knowledge or interaction with the documents could have serious legal ramifications. These documents may have been relevant to his last book. The book, “Promise Me, Dad,” released in November 2017, was marketed as his insider view of America’s relations with countries like Iran and Ukraine: “As vice president, Biden traveled more than a hundred thousand miles that year, across the world, dealing with crises in Ukraine, Central America, and Iraq.” If he worked off these documents, it is impossible to deny the violation — or his hypocrisy in his comments on Mar-a-Lago.

He is now the subject of the same inquiries he raised with CBS’s Scott Pelley: “I thought what data was in there that may compromise sources and methods. By that, I mean, names of people helped or et cetera.” The fact is past cases of the removal or mishandling of classified material have not resulted in major prosecutions. Yet many in the Democratic Party and the media have insisted on criminal charges in the Mar-a-Lago case, including barring Trump from office for even a misdemeanor conviction on unlawful possession. Biden has previously weathered scandals, often by denying culpable intent. When accused of plagiarism, for instance, Biden insisted “if I had intended to cheat, would I have been so stupid?” Many are likely to be asking the same question in the weeks ahead.

Dem top lawyer Aug 2022

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“..although by all reasonable standards, Pfizer and Moderna should be criminally convicted for allowing such a dangerous vaccine on the market (they clearly knew the vaccines had to be dangerous), nothing has been done..”

We Now Have Evidence Pfizer Committed Fraud (midwesterndoctor)

Fraud is a huge allegation to put forward, so since that time we did our best to vet the discovery and sent it out to independent parties who could validate it prior to publishing. Based on the feedback we have received since publishing this, I am no longer sure if one of my allegations holds (that the image being a digital straight line means it was not representative of the actual proteins present) as there was an additional approach to evaluating this we were not aware of at the time of publication. I still believe the central allegation (that the vaccines do not contain what was advertised) holds true and is critically important to understand, but we do not presently have the information to determine if the numerous suspicious characteristics we specifically identified in Pfizer’s western blots could be explained by something besides fraud.

One of the things that is less appreciated about governance is that governments will never have the resources to address every single problem that arises in their territory. Because of this, governments inevitably prioritize addressing problems which would otherwise cause them to lose money, and will prioritize protecting the (typically financial) interests of the upper class who support government officials (e.g., by paying for their election). This has lead to the curious phenomena whereby there are much harsher penalties for institutional level fraud than there are for an institution harming members of the general public. For example, as I have tried to show throughout this Substack, pharmaceutical companies frequently commit egregious harm against consumers and clinical trial participants, but in spite of this, most of our institutions will refuse to prosecute them for this conduct.

Conversely, one of my friends who is a paralegal in the industry has told me that pharmaceutical companies have to be honest with their investors, or they can and will be sued for financial fraud. For this reason, you can get typically get the most accurate information on their products by reviewing what pharmaceutical companies share with their investors. Similarly, although by all reasonable standards, Pfizer and Moderna should be criminally convicted for allowing such a dangerous vaccine on the market (they clearly knew the vaccines had to be dangerous), nothing has been done. However, Brook Jackson is currently pushing through a whistleblower lawsuit against Pfizer which makes the case that Pfizer conducted their clinical trials in a fraudulent manner, and by extension, committed fraud. The sale of the vaccines to the US government was predicated upon their clinical trial data and thus if that data was fraudulent, Pfizer’s sales constitute fraud.

Because fraud has much greater standing in our legal system than harming the general public, Brook’s lawsuit is critically important, and if it succeeds in proving fraud on Pfizer’s end, can collapse this entire vaccination campaign. Likewise, Brook has an even stronger case if a smoking gun were to be present which: 1) Showed that Pfizer beyond a shadow of a doubt intentionally committed fraud. 2) This fraud directly undermined the entire basis for their product. So understandably, we wanted to make sure our allegations were correct before moving forward.

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Does mention the vaccine, but only to insist that couldn’t be it.

Excess Deaths In 2022 Among Worst In 50 Years (BBC)

More than 650,000 deaths were registered in the UK in 2022 – 9% more than 2019. This represents one of the largest excess death levels outside the pandemic in 50 years. Though far below peak pandemic levels, it has prompted questions about why more people are still dying than normal. Data indicates pandemic effects on health and NHS pressures are among the leading explanations. Covid is still killing people, but is involved in fewer deaths now than at the start of the pandemic. Roughly 38,000 deaths involved Covid in 2022 compared with more than 95,000 in 2020. We are still seeing more deaths overall than would be expected based on recent history. The difference in 2022 – compared with 2020 and 2021 – is that Covid deaths were one of several factors, rather than the main explanation for this excess.

So what else might be going on? A number of doctors are blaming the wider crisis in the NHS. At the start of 2022, death rates were looking like they’d returned to pre-pandemic levels. It wasn’t until June that excess deaths really started to rise – just as the number of people waiting for hours on trolleys in English hospitals hit levels normally seen in winter. On 1 January 2023, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine suggested the crisis in urgent care could be causing “300-500 deaths a week”. It is not a figure recognised by NHS England, but it’s roughly what you get if you multiply the number of people waiting long periods in A&E with the extra risk of dying estimated to come with those long waits (of between five and 12 hours).

It is possible to debate the precise numbers, but it’s not controversial to say that your chances are worse if you wait longer for treatment, be that waiting for an ambulance to get to you, being stuck in an ambulance outside a hospital or in A&E. And we are seeing record waits in each of those areas. In November, for example, it took 48 minutes on average for an ambulance in England to respond to a suspected heart attack or stroke, compared to a target of 18 minutes. Some of the excess may be people whose deaths were hastened by the after-effects of a Covid infection. A number of studies have found people are more likely to have heart problems and strokes in the weeks and months after catching Covid, and some of these may not end up being linked to the virus when the death is registered. As well as the impact on the heart of the virus itself, some of this may be contributed to by the fact many people didn’t come in for screenings and non-urgent treatment during the peak of the pandemic, storing up trouble for the future.

[..] The rise in cardiac problems has been pointed to by some online as evidence that Covid vaccines are driving the rise in deaths, but this conclusion is not supported by the data. One type of Covid vaccine has been linked to a small rise in cases of heart inflammation and scarring (pericarditis and myocarditis). But this particular vaccine side-effect was mainly seen in boys and young men, while the excess deaths are highest in older men – aged 50 or more. And these cases are too rare – and mostly not fatal – to account for the excess in deaths.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1612944674322321409

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Bollywood

 

 

 

 

Bowie

 

 

 

 

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Dec 242022
 
 December 24, 2022  Posted by at 10:09 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  27 Responses »


Edvard Munch Christmas in the brothel 1904-05

 

Santa and Satan (Kunstler)
What Should We Make Of The Latest Muppet Show In DC? (Saker)
Kiev Is Mulling Peace Plan, WSJ Reports (RT)
Kremlin Comments On Kiev’s Purported Peace Plan (RT)
US Has Nothing To Lose, Everything To Gain, From Longer Ukraine Conflict (Luk.)
NATO Armies Drained By Ukraine Conflict – Media (RT)
In for a Pound (Schryver)
The US Love For Ukraine Or Hate Against Russia? (Awan)
Russia Sets Its Own Gas Price Cap For EU (RT)
Russia Warns Of Oil Production Cut (RT)
Mass Twitter Suspension Of Accounts Criticizing Zelensky Visit To Congress (PM)
Can China Help Brazil Restart Its Global Soft Power? (Escobar)
United States Attorney Announces Extradition Of SBF To US (SDNY)

 

 

It’s Christmas Eve and all we can talk about is war. The next step once the last Ukrainian dies, as Gonzalo also says, may well be to push Poland forward as the -willing- next proxy. Because the Poles do have the equipment, and the personnel to operate it.

Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Rob Reiner

 

 

Gonzalo Will Poland Be The Next Proxy

 

 

 

 

Pelosi
https://twitter.com/i/status/1606110816540819457

 

 

 

 

Slowak flag

 

 


stationary slit vision

 

 

 

 

Krampus.

Santa and Satan (Kunstler)

The Santa we know came from a mashup of ancient pre-Christian Teutonic and Norse folk figures (Wotan, Odin) with the 4th century Greek bishop, St. Nicholas, a humble giver of gifts to children. That evolved in 19th century Anglo-America, with help from Washington Irving, Charles Dickens, and Clement Moore, into the jolly fat man in a fur-lined cloak, chortling merrily amid the platters of roast goose and baskets of sugarplums. And then, of course, the Santa character was retooled and stylized by the big advertising mills of mid-20th century Madison Avenue into the red-suited icon who functioned as a cosmic delivery-man to suburban houses where the little ones dwell, efficiently distributing Red Ryder BB guns and Barbie Dolls from sea to shining sea out of his reindeer-powered express vehicle, circling the entire globe in a single breathless night of glittering snow and shining stars, plangent with countless wishes from little hearts.

Strange to relate, in some corners of Europe, St. Nick acquired a traveling companion named Krampus. The two went from house-to-house in the dark hours of St. Nick’s name-day (Dec. 6) interrogating children as to their conduct. Dark and hirsute with horns, cloven hooves, and a darting red tongue, this monster acted the “bad cop” of the roving pair, badgering the little ones about their naughty or nice doings, and whacking them with a birch rod if he didn’t like their answers. If especially displeased, he stuffed kids into a basket for transport to Hell. A Krampus-like character reemerged in America this pre-Christmas week in the figure of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, who flew halfway around the world in a US government-issue magic sled to meet up with his chum, the new Santa Claus, “Joe Biden,” alleged current president of our land.

Mr. Z, still tricked-out in his wartime olive-green togs and scrufty beard, was here to lecture the boys and girls of Congress about being naughty or nice vis-à-vis “democracy” in his distant land, lately under a siege of angry bears. Ukraine did nothing to make the bears angry, you understand. They just lumbered in from the forest one day and started busting stuff up, as bears will. Ukraine has already received many gifts from Santa’s workshop, formerly known as the USA, toys much more impressive than any Red Ryder BB gun, for sure: howitzers, Javelin missiles, Stinger missiles, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), Phoenix Ghost tactical drones, Switchblade tactical drones, Puma surveillance drones, Vampire anti-drone systems, Mi-17 helicopters, Harpoon coastal defense systems, and much more. (How did Santa fit it all in his sack?)

“Joe Biden” promised another fifty-billions of dollars to Mr. Z’s bear-extermination project, with the further objective of dethroning the king of all bears, the wicked Putin, who glowers at the world from the mouth of his faraway Kremlin Cave. Then, in Congress Wednesday night, before a coast-to-coast TV audience, Mr. Z tuned-up our elected boys and girls in the great House chamber, forked tongue darting, to tell heart-wrenching tales of bear-provoked terror. He played them like the very keys of a harpsichord — a trick he has performed before with an interesting twist on Ukrainian television. The elect of our land stood and cheered, ready to proclaim Ukraine the fifty-first state. Mr. Z stole a smooch from the ruler of Congress, the winsome Ms. Pelosi, and then disappeared in a puff of smoke that left a tang of sulfur wafting on the stale air.


To underscore his seriousness, and using his secret powers, Mr. Z arranged for a bomb-cyclone storm to roar out of the North Pole a few days after his departure to give Americans a little taste of what it’s like to sit in the cold and dark at Christmas time — because the USA is such a blessed land as to have no problems of its own, and needs to be reminded about the sufferings of the less fortunate. And so it goes this Yuletide of 2022 in our charmed and exceptional country. The elves at Clusterfuck Nation wish you all a merry little Christmas!

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“..Russia has been preparing non-stop for a full-scale continental war since at least 2014..”

What Should We Make Of The Latest Muppet Show In DC? (Saker)

Since Dubya and Obama the White House has been occupied by weak and frankly clueless leaders, hence the various interests groups which control DC run “their own foreign policy”. So, like vectors, the various goals and means of the key actors add up to create a “sum vector” which can *look* like “a policy” or “a plan”, but it is no such thing. What is true of the US is even MORE true for NATO. Hence the Poles pulling at their chain like rabid dogs to the horror of the comparatively sane(er) Europeans. I fully agree with Andrei Martyanov – the folks in charge in the West are totally clueless and they have absolutely no idea how to walk away from the mess they created.

The Neocons probably would prefer a worldwide nuclear war to a Russian victory, but non-Neocon actors might not want to die for a sick, narcissistic, gang of ignorant yet self-worshiping thugs. Who will prevail? I have absolutely no idea. I am not sure anybody else knows either. What I do know is that Russia has been preparing non-stop for a full-scale continental war since at least 2014. Defense Minister Shoigu has declared that next year Russia will add five new artillery divisions, eight bomber aviation regiments, one fighter regiment, three motor-rifle divisions, two air-assault divisions, and six army aviation brigades to the Russian armed forces!

And, by the way, these “artillery divisions” will be what is called “high power” brigade/division in Russia, that is to say that they get the very heavy weapons, like 203mm and 240mm self-propelled mortars. Something which the newly recreated First Guards Tank Army (a “Shock Army” in Russian military terminology) would need to further increase its huge firepower power. And did I mention that Russia has fully modernized her nuclear triad and that key weapons factories in Russia are now working for 6 days weeks with 3 shifts working non-stop?

Zel DC

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Kiev and NATO can make any ‘peace plan’ that they know Russia won’t accept.

Kiev Is Mulling Peace Plan, WSJ Reports (RT)

Ukraine may present its vision of peace around the last week in February, near the first anniversary of Russia’s offensive against the country, the Wall Street Journal has reported. The US newspaper, citing European and Ukrainian diplomats, claimed President Vladimir Zelensky and his team are currently working on such a formula. In its article on Thursday, the media outlet alleged that the Ukrainian leadership wants to strengthen its position at the negotiating table by making gains on the battlefield against Russia before unveiling any peace proposals. The topic of peace and how Ukraine sees it was high on the agenda of US President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Zelensky during the latter’s visit to Washington on Wednesday.

However, according to the Washington Post, citing an anonymous senior US official, the discussion was largely “academic,” as the US and Ukraine believe Russia is not interested in any such negotiations at this point. Addressing G20 leaders in Indonesia last month, President Zelensky laid out a ten-point peace plan, which called for, among other things, the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and an “all for all” prisoner swap. The Kremlin, in turn, insisted that Kiev must recognize the “reality on the ground” as a prerequisite for any peace negotiations. In Moscow’s eyes, this reality includes the new status of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions as parts of Russia.

Unnamed Western officials cited by the Wall Street Journal had suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to launch a renewed offensive in the coming months and is not interested in any peace talks before he sees how those efforts pan out. Meanwhile, speaking to journalists on Thursday, the Russian head of state said that Moscow’s “goal is not to ramp up this military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war, that is what we are striving for and will strive for.” Putin noted that the sooner hostilities in Ukraine come to an end, the better, as the “intensification of fighting leads to unnecessary losses.”

The Russian president went on to insist that the Kremlin has never refused to engage in peace talks with Ukraine. He claimed that it is the leadership in Kiev that “has forbidden itself from” going down this road. This is an apparent reference to a decree signed by Zelensky in early October, according to which Ukraine will not negotiate with Moscow as long as Putin remains in power there. The decision came in response to Moscow officially signing agreements with the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, which joined Russia after holding referendums. “One way or another, all armed conflicts end with some negotiations on the diplomatic track,” Putin argued on Thursday. He also expressed hope that those “who are opposing us” realize this as soon as possible.

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“..all that he has said until now did not take into account the reality on the ground..”

Kremlin Comments On Kiev’s Purported Peace Plan (RT)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that Russia considers previous comments made by Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky about the possibility of peace talks as detached from reality. He’d been asked on Friday to comment on media reports about a new peace plan being formulated by the leader’s office. “We are not aware of it,” the official told journalists during a briefing. “We have heard Zelensky’s statements about various steps, a peace plan. But all that he has said until now did not take into account the reality on the ground, which one simply cannot ignore.” The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the Ukrainian government could reveal a new peace proposal sometime in February.

The Ukrainian leadership wants to achieve some battlefield victories first, to strengthen its position, the newspaper’s sources in the governments of the US and Ukraine claimed. Zelensky last month made public what he termed a peace plan for his nation during a speech to the G20 leaders, who were meeting in Indonesia. It involved full withdrawal of Russian troops from all territories that Kiev considers under its sovereignty. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the time that the terms were “unrealistic and inadequate” and that Zelensky’s speech was full of “militant, Russophobic and aggressive rhetoric.”

Zelensky was asked about a “just peace” ending the conflict, during a press-conference in Washington that he held this week alongside US President Joe Biden. He replied that he didn’t know what that term meant, before declaring that no amount of reparations would compensate for the losses of some Ukrainians, who want revenge on “inhumans.” Biden intervened to declare that both he and Zelensky ultimately wanted peace. US policy states a strategic defeat of Russia as a primary goal in the crisis. Russia and Ukraine were on the brink of reaching a ceasefire agreement in early April. But Kiev’s Western backers reportedly declined to support the deal that Kiev brought to the negotiation table. Moscow said the US and its allies derailed the talks so that they could inflict more damage on Russia, disregarding Ukraine’s interests.

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The last Ukrainian.

US Has Nothing To Lose, Everything To Gain, From Longer Ukraine Conflict (Luk.)

Putting aside the pomp, the theatricals designed tug at the heart strings and the rhetorical chatter, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s visit to Washington could indeed be a milestone for the “European security” framework. A recent article by veteran German-American diplomat Henry Kissinger offered a new perspective in that he claimed a neutral status for Ukraine can no longer serve as a subject for negotiation, as the subject is no longer relevant. Ukraine is forming a powerful and capable armed force, actively assisted by the West, primarily the US, so its formal status – whether it’s a member of NATO or not – no longer matters. It is America’s de facto, if not de jure, military ally, in addition to having unique practical experience in a direct large-scale confrontation with Russia. One might add: it is motivated to pursue it.

Elaborating on this thought, it is reasonable to assume that, for the US, it’s even more comfortable for Ukraine to remain outside the formal alliance, as it expands the space for political-military action. There are no legal commitments, the level and scale of support can vary according to the situation at any moment, and the degree of Kiev’s loyalty to Washington as the main guarantor of resources is likely to exceed even that shown by Warsaw or the Baltic states. As will the degree of dependence on external aid. Ukraine, like Poland and the Baltics, is likely to become increasingly distrustful of continental Western Europe, as Kiev will interpret its inevitable internal contradictions as an implicit desire to make peace with Russia.

For the US, this sort of “land-based unsinkable aircraft carrier” will come in handy. Such a trained and loyal satellite, on the one hand beside Russia and on the other pointing towards Western Europe – and Kiev’s narrative that thanks to its efforts, the rest of Europe can live in peace and not under Russian bombs – opens up many opportunities. The territorial configuration of Ukraine in this context is unimportant to Washington. Moreover, the preservation of part of the internationally recognised Ukrainian territory under Russian control cements the conflict, and leaves the rump with a reason to fight on.

For this it should be equipped and trained, but all its wishes don’t necessarily need to be fulfilled. As for preparing its forces, it is crucial, for Washington, to enhance Ukraine’s own capabilities so that any subsequent phases of the confrontation can continue without the direct involvement of US and NATO units. This is a very significant point. The scheme is, in principle, quite rational. There is no guarantee that it will work, because Russia has the power to prevent it (even if, so far, this hasn’t been very visible), but there are few risks for the US. And the notorious European security system – the reform of which was Russia’s key demand a year ago – if it ever comes back on the agenda, it will be under very different circumstances. The old approaches and demands will no longer apply.

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“We are really low… and we’re not even fighting..”

NATO Armies Drained By Ukraine Conflict – Media (RT)

The fighting in Ukraine has “exposed flaws in US strategic planning” and “revealed significant gaps” in the US and NATO military industrial base, the Washington Post reported on Friday. As Kiev’s forces consume more ammunition than the West can produce, the Pentagon seeks to cope by training them to fight more like Americans. “Stocks of many key weapons and munitions are near exhaustion, and wait times for new production of missiles stretches for months and, in some cases, years,” the Post noted, as part of a narrative about how the US has funneled some $20 billion in military aid to Kiev just this year. Only $6 billion of that has been in new weapons contracts, while the rest came from the Pentagon stockpiles.

The US military-industrial complex can make about 14,000 rounds of ammunition for the 155-mm howitzers, the Post quoted US Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, while Ukrainian forces go through about 6,000 a day during heavy fighting. The US military-industrial complex is “in pretty poor shape right now,” Seth Jones of the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) told the Post. “We are really low… and we’re not even fighting,” Jones said, adding that in scenarios where the US is facing China or Russia in a conventional conflict, “we don’t make it past four or five days in a war game before we run out of precision missiles.” Washington’s allies in Europe are in similar shape, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Michal Strnad, owner of a Czech ammunition conglomerate, said Ukraine chews through 40,000 rounds a month, while all of the European NATO members put together can produce 300,000 a year. “European production capacity is grossly inadequate,” Strnad said, adding that it would take up to 15 years to restock at current production rates, if the conflict were to somehow end tomorrow. Moscow has repeatedly warned the US and its allies that shipments of increasingly modern and long-range weapons could lead to a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO, and accused the West of prolonging the conflict and causing civilian deaths in Ukraine. While Western officials have demanded a ramp-up of production for months, recent EU legislation blocked many investments into weapons manufacturing by designating it “not sustainable,” according to the Journal.

Germany is now in the process of funding a factory in Romania that could produce both NATO and Soviet-caliber ammunition for Ukraine. The Pentagon is trying to deal with the problem by training Ukrainian troops to “fight more like Americans” and use different tactics, according to the Post. “I think if we can train larger formations — companies, battalions — on how to employ fires, create conditions for maneuver, and then be able to maneuver like you’ve seen [the US military] maneuver on the battlefield, then I think we’re in a different place. Then you don’t need a million rounds” of artillery, a senior US official – who did not wish to be named – told the outlet.

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“..Russia has unswervingly adhered to the three primary war objectives Putin articulated in his February 24th speech.”

In for a Pound (Schryver)

In his February 21, 2022 speech, Putin meticulously recounted the relevant history of the region dating back multiple centuries, and focused specifically on the events that followed in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In addition to Putin’s history lesson, he makes particular reference to a detailed proposal Russia delivered to the United States and its NATO allies in mid-December 2021 – a proposal that effectively amounted to a “final warning”; a last-ditch effort to avoid war in Ukraine. Consider his words carefully, and particularly in light of how Russia has unswervingly adhered to the three primary war objectives Putin articulated in his February 24th speech.

“Last December, we handed over to our Western partners a draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on security guarantees, as well as a draft agreement on measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation and NATO member states. The United States and NATO responded with general statements. There were kernels of rationality in them as well, but they concerned matters of secondary importance and it all looked like an attempt to drag the issue out and to lead the discussion astray.

We responded to this accordingly and pointed out that we were ready to follow the path of negotiations, provided, however, that all issues are considered as a package that includes Russia’s core proposals which contain three key points. First, to prevent further NATO expansion. Second, to have the Alliance refrain from deploying assault weapon systems on Russian borders. And finally, rolling back the bloc’s military capability and infrastructure in Europe to where they were in 1997, when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed. – Vladimir Putin, Address by the President of the Russian Federation, February 21, 2022” I submit we can confidently assume Putin was as deadly serious on February 21, 2022 as he was on February 24, 2022; that he was not bluffing; that he was resolved to “raise the stakes” commensurate to whatever was required to achieve the objectives he had so carefully articulated.

I submit that his domestic popularity AND the support of his generals correlates closely to the perception that he will not waver from those objectives, and that it has only been the misplaced sense that he might be failing, or at least stumbling, or that he might even pull back from his stated objectives that has resulted in meaningful criticism arising from his domestic supporters, be it in government, the military, or the general public. I further submit that, in my estimation, it is precisely the burgeoning faith that Putin will resolutely pursue and achieve his stated objectives that has resulted in the unprecedented willingness of China, Iran, India, and other geostrategically important Eurasian and Global South nations to not only openly support Russia in this conflict, but to also, in many instances, openly defy imperial decrees forbidding military and commercial relations with Russia.

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“..may keep them engaged for a prolonged time to make Russia suffer economically..”

The US Love For Ukraine Or Hate Against Russia? (Awan)

The US is not sincere with Ukraine nor in love. If the Americans love Ukraine, they might have provided unlimited weapons and advanced weapons to make Ukraine win. But, this is not their intention, not their goals. Actually, they are in hate with Russia and wanted to counter the revival of Russia through Ukraine and may keep them engaged for a prolonged time to make Russia suffer economically. The US put sanctions on Russia to harm it economically. Sanctions proved counterproductive and the Russian economy has not suffered at all. Its trade has remained the same, but, the trading partners have changed, China, India, Pakistan, and many other countries are becoming bigger trading Partners with Russia. Pushing out from the SWIFT banking system has no impact on its financial transactions as China has compensated and provided them with alternates.

It Oil and Gas export has not reduced, and India and China have been importing much more. Furthermore, the increase in Oil and Gas prices in the international market has become supported the Russian economy. On the other hand, Europe has been victimized by the Ukraine war. The Fuel and Food prices have jumped much high. Few European countries are providing subsidies to their citizens but not all of the European countries are rich enough to extend subsidies to their citizens. As a result, many Europeans are suffering. The public in Europe is turning against the Ukraine war and demanding the end of this war immediately. There are protests and agitations in some European capitals and slogans are heard against NATO and withdrawal from NATO.

The current leaders in Europe are bound under the agreement to support NATO and Ukraine’s war. But, it is predicted that in the upcoming some of the political parties may come up with the idea to promise the public to end the war, end NATO support or exiting from NATO, etc., may win the general elections. It is pretty sure that public sentiments will dominate in the next elections and visionary politicians will make bold decisions. There is an awareness in the public that blindly following the US is not the ultimate goal, but, must think about national interests. War in Europe is not desired, no one wants it and the public may reflect their anger at the time of voting. The next elections will be decisive and may change the fate of not only Europe but the whole world. Geopolitics might be changed completely. It is a matter of time only, public sentiments must be respected at all costs.

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“..partially relieves state energy major Gazprom from fulfilling its obligations to its foreign partners..”

Russia Sets Its Own Gas Price Cap For EU (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Thursday that partially relieves state energy major Gazprom from fulfilling its obligations to its foreign partners who hail from countries that have imposed sanctions on Moscow. According to the decree, published on the official government portal, Gazprom and its subsidiaries are prohibited from paying for gas, or for its production and transport, from joint projects with its EU partners in Russia if the amount of payment is higher than the cost established by the Russian government. The decree targets Gazprom’s joint ventures with Germany’s Wintershall and Austria’s OMV. In partnership with the two companies, Gazprom is developing two large natural gas deposits in Russia, the Yuzhno-Russkoye and the Urengoyskoye fields.


The regulation has been introduced retroactively, and so is enforeceable from March 1, 2022, and will be effective until October 1, 2023. The government has been charged with setting a price limit within ten days. Both Germany and Austria are members of the EU, which imposed multiple sanctions against Russia in connection with Ukraine. Head of Wintershall Mario Mehren said in April that Russia had crossed red lines in its partnership with European companies, which means the end of “an era of long and intensive economic cooperation” between Russia and Germany. However, over the summer he said that his company has no plans to quit its joint ventures in the country. OMV has refused to make new investments in Russian projects and has announced plans to review its participation in the Yuzhno-Russkoye field, where it owns a 25% stake. Both companies have yet to comment on Putin’s decree.

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“..right now, we’d rather take a risk of a production cut than stick to the policy of selling in line with the threshold.”

Russia Warns Of Oil Production Cut (RT)

Russia will not sell oil to countries that impose a price cap on its crude exports, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak warned on Friday. According to Novak, Moscow may respond by reducing oil production by 500,000-700,000 barrels a day in early 2023. Russia is the world’s third biggest oil producer and the cuts would equate to roughly 5-6% of the country’s daily output. The G7 and EU’s $60-per-barrel ceiling on Russian seaborne crude came into force on December 5. The measure, along with a ban on EU imports of seaborne Russian flows, is aimed at curbing the Kremlin’s revenues. Russian oil cargoes that are traded above the threshold cannot access some key services from Western companies, including insurance.

“We are ready to partially cut our production early next year,” Novak warned in an interview with the Rossiya-24 TV channel. “We’ll try to find some common ground with our counterparts to prevent such risks. But right now, we’d rather take a risk of a production cut than stick to the policy of selling in line with the threshold.” The official described the potential production drop as “insignificant” [to Russia], reiterating that Moscow will not sell its crude to those who apply the Western price cap. Russian producers are able to reroute their exports to competing markets, including Asia, as the nation’s energy is still in high demand globally, Novak stressed.

On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin told reporters he will sign a decree on the nation’s response to the cap next week, which will feature “preventive measures.” Russia’s full-year oil production in 2022 will probably grow to 535 million tons, equivalent to around 10.74 million barrels per day (bpd), according to Novak. Data shows that in November, the country’s average daily output hit an eight-month high of 10.9 million bpd. Meanwhile, experts have warned that an output cut by Russia could tighten the global energy market as demand in China, the world’s largest oil importer, is forecast to rebound.

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Ukrainian bots?

Mass Twitter Suspension Of Accounts Criticizing Zelensky Visit To Congress (PM)

Zelensky brought his flag and his ask for cash and weapons to Congress during the prime time hours on Wednesday night, much to the fawning of American legislatures. In response, many who are critical of the massive expenditure to Ukraine, and of the US involvement in a war against Russia at all, took to Twitter to express their disdain. They were banned, and many speculated that it was bots who were to blame. Many accounts shared a photo of the two most powerful women in American politics, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who are second and third in line for the presidency respectively, hoisting high the flag of Ukraine in the US Congress while Zelensky spoke to that body. Dozens of accounts were summarily banned after criticizing the visit, Zelensky, the US’ involvement in Ukraine, and the horrifying vision of the Ukrainian flag being raised in Congress.

Zelensky was treated to cheers, a standing ovation, and multiple rounds of applause. The flag being raised above Congress added insult to the injury of Zelensky asking for cash, in addition to his stating outright that no matter what the US was giving him it would not be enough. “I’m now getting reports of tons of accounts that were locked out our tweets that were taken down for posting images of Zelensky’s speech last night and being critical of him Seems to be a mass takedown campaign by Twitter,” Jack Posobiec reported. This after prominent account ALX was suspended pending deletion of his tweet criticizing Ukraine, Pelosi and Harris. Elon Musk replied to Posobiec’s post about ALX, saying that he was looking into it as the “tweet doesn’t violate ToS.”

Posobiec offered “Update, could be a mass-reporting situation by trolls or state actors.” The idea is that the tweets critical of Zelensky could have been the target of a mass-reporting campaign, with the intention of silencing anti-Zelensky sentiment on the platform. Former Trump administration official who served in the State Department and the Department of Defense William Wolfe said he was “back after an entirely arbitrary and unfounded suspension.” He had tweeted out the photo of Harris and Pelosi as well, saying “When we say ‘clown world’ this is what we mean.” For that tweet, he was slapped with a 12 hour ban. The Columbia Bugle simply tweeted the photo with “Bring a check next time,” and that caught a ban. The report from Twitter said the ban was for “Violating our rules against posting or sharing privately produced/distributed intimate media of someone without their express consent.” But of course, the image was a screen shot from the live broadcast of Zelensky speech, and Congress’ shilling for Zelensky, that was broadcast across many channels.

 

 

Tucker clapping

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“..an extraordinary story trespassed by Sisyphean tasks..”

Can China Help Brazil Restart Its Global Soft Power? (Escobar)

The return of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for what will be his third presidential term, starting January 1, 2023, is an extraordinary story trespassed by Sisyphean tasks. All at the same time he will have to fight poverty; reconnect with economic development while redistributing wealth; re-industrialize the nation; and tame environmental pillage. That will force his new government to summon unforeseen creative powers of political and financial persuasion. Even a mediocre, conservative politician such as Geraldo Alckmin, former governor of the wealthiest state of the union, Sao Paulo, and coordinator of the presidential transition, was simply astonished at how four years of the Bolsonaro project let loose a cornucopia of vanished documents, a black hole concerning all sorts of data and inexplicable financial losses.

It’s impossible to ascertain the extent of corruption across the spectrum because simply nothing is in the books: Governmental systems have not been fed since 2020. Alckmin summed it all up: “The Bolsonaro government happened in the Stone Age, where there were no words and numbers.” Now every single public policy will have to be created, or re-created from scratch, and serious mistakes will be inevitable because of lack of data. And we’re not talking about a banana republic – even though the country concerned features plenty of (delicious) bananas. By purchasing power parity (PPP), according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Brazil remains the eighth-ranked economic power in the world even after the Bolsonaro devastation years – behind China, the US, India, Japan, Germany, Russia and Indonesia, and ahead of the UK and France.

A concerted imperial campaign since 2010, duly denounced by WikiLeaks, and implemented by local comprador elites, targeted the Dilma Rousseff presidency – the Brazilian national entrepreneurial champions – and led to Rousseff’s (illegal) impeachment and the jailing of Lula for 580 days on spurious charges (all subsequently dropped), paved the way for Bolsonaro to win the presidency in 2018. Were it not for this accumulation of disasters, Brazil – a natural leader of the Global South – by now might possibly be placed as the fifth-largest geo-economic power in the world.

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No wonder they’re eager to sing.

United States Attorney Announces Extradition Of SBF To US (SDNY)

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the extradition of SAMUEL BANKMAN-FRIED, a/k/a “SBF,” yesterday from the Bahamas.[1] Also unsealed are the guilty pleas of CAROLINE ELLISON, former CEO of Alameda Research, and GARY WANG, co-founder and former Chief Technology Officer of FTX. ELLISON and WANG pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams on December 19, 2022, to charges arising from their participation in schemes to defraud FTX’s customers and investors, and related crimes, and are cooperating with the Government.


U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Last week, we announced charges against Samuel Bankman-Fried for a sweeping fraud scheme that contributed to FTX’s collapse and for a campaign finance scheme that sought to influence public policy in Washington. As I said last week, this investigation is very much ongoing, and it’s moving very quickly. I also said that last week’s announcement would not be our last, and let me be clear once again, neither is today’s.” FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said: “With the pleas announced today, Ms. Ellison and Mr. Wang admitted they were willing participants in schemes to defraud FTX.com’s customers and backers out of their money. The FBI will continue to seek justice for the victims of this case. No matter how fraudsters dress it up or sell the scam, we will continue to make every effort to ensure those responsible for the scheme are held accountable in our criminal justice system.”


Check the date. They pled guilty 11 months ago

CAROLINE ELLISON, 28, is charged with and has pled guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, each of which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; two counts of wire fraud, each of which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. GARY WANG, 29, is charged with and has pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Tucker SBF

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RT
https://twitter.com/i/status/1606347049284165632

 

 

Paramount

 

 


The rainbow starfrontlet (Coeligena iris) is a species of hummingbird in the “brilliants” tribe Heliantheini. Males have a glittering yellow-green forecrown that transitions through golden yellow to blue on the crown

 

 

All time favorite

 

 

 

 

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Jul 072021
 
 July 7, 2021  Posted by at 9:01 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  98 Responses »


Damien Hirst Spiritual Day Blossom 2018

 

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Brazil’s Lower House Allows Breaking Vaccine Patents In Case Of Emergency (RT)
Dershowitz Predicts Charges Against Trump Org’s CFO Will Be Tossed (ZH)
The Wealth Effect Creates Wealth Disparity (WS)

 

 

Someone tweeted this graph and said: early treatment can’t be far off.

 

 

Ioannidis

 

 

Just the fact that they feel they need to re-state it says enough.

CDC Insists Benefits Of mRNA Vaccines Still “Clearly Outweigh” Risks (ZH)

With a new round of data out of Israel seemingly confirming what we have been reporting for weeks now, fresh questions are emerging about the efficacy of the mRNA vaccines (those produced by Pfizer and Moderna) and whether they’re truly 90%+ effective, as advertised. As the number of confirmed COVID cases topped 184MM, the Israeli health ministry shared preliminary data appearing to confirm that these vaccines are less effective at preventing infection via the Delta variant. Although the data must still be peer reviewed, the Israelis went so far as to proclaim that the true efficacy number is closer to 64%. To be sure, the vaccines continue to mostly prevent severe infection and death (though they’re only 93% effective at this, less than the 100% number initially touted by their corporate parents).

Now, with President Joe Biden publicly addressing the administration’s ongoing effort to combat COVID as case numbers continue to creep higher in the US, the CDC has chimed in – right on cue – to remind the world that the benefits of everybody taking the vaccine still far outweigh the risks posed by the rare (but sometimes deadly) side effects that have now also been documented. As we reported, the FDA now recognizes that the rare heart inflammation seen in some patients, including members of the military, have been linked to mRNA vaccines. So, with criticism and skepticism directed at the US-made vaccines mounting, the CDC on Tuesday tried its hand at a little damage control.

Per Bloomberg: “The benefits of messenger RNA Covid-19 vaccines clearly outweigh the risks despite heart complications seen in a relatively small number of mostly young men, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 1,200 cases of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart wall, were reported in people who received mRNA vaccines, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Tuesday. But with about 296 million doses of mRNA vaccines having been administered as of June 11, the benefit is clear in all populations, including adolescents and young adults, the researchers reported.”

For the Biden Administration, the stakes have never been higher. COVID cases are rising, and many are blaming Southern and western states with lower vaccination rates as a potential vulnerability that could ignite another wave of COVID.

Tucker life expectancy

Read more …

Reaction? More lockdowns. Which have failed for 18 months now. And what are they trying to achieve? How long can you separate the entire country from the world? Until you reach zero, and then you can open and start all over again?

Ultra-Contagious Lambda Variant Detected In Australia (NZH)

The world’s most transmissible Covid-19 strain has found its way into Australia – with worrying research revealing it may be even more infectious than the Delta variant. The Lambda strain has puzzled World Health Organisation scientists after it spread to nearly 30 countries in the last four weeks. The mutation was originally discovered in Peru and is related to 81 per cent of the country’s cases since April. Peru currently has the highest Covid mortality rate in the world. In Australia, the variant was detected in an overseas traveller who had been in hotel quarantine in New South Wales in April, according to national genomics database AusTrakka. Early research shows it has not spread among the community in Australia.

Lambda has just started to make its way into the community in the UK, with six cases reported on Monday. It is a worrying sign for the UK, which has recently relaxed Covid-19 restrictions after 37 million people received at least one dose of a vaccine. The country had returned to normality in recent weeks, with pubs flooded by revellers enjoying their country’s recent success at Euro 2020. However, these civil liberties could change if the highly transmissible Lambda strain spreads across the community. Professor Pablo Tsukayama of Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, Peru, said the strain has exploded in Peru, suggesting “its rate of transmission is higher than any other variant”. His claims were backed up by a report by Jeff Barrett from London’s Covid-19 Genomics Initiative at the Welcome Sanger Institute.

“Lambda has a unique pattern of seven mutations in the spike protein that the virus uses to infect human cells. Researchers are particularly intrigued by one mutation called L452Q, which is similar to the L452R mutation to contribute to the high infectiousness of the Delta variant,” Barrett told the Financial Times. There is also concerning research that current vaccines are not as effective in neutralising the new strand, according to a report from scientists at the University of Chile in Santiago. “Our data show for the first time that mutations present in the spike protein of the Lambda variant confer escape to neutralising antibodies and increased infectivity,” they wrote in a pre paper report published last week.

Read more …

official Product Information file from the European Medicines Agency

A Thread On Vaccines! (Neary)

Many people have already taken the AstraZeneca vaccine, or want to take it. So I thought I’d read its official Product Information file from the European Medicines Agency. Some might call this “the small print”. Here is what I learned: Firstly, is it safe for children? “The safety and efficacy of Vaxzevria in children and adolescents (less than 18 years of age) have not yet been established. No data are available.” How about people with weak immune symptoms – is it safe for them? “The efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine have not been assessed in immunocompromised individuals, including those receiving immunosuppressant therapy. How long does protection last? The EMA says that ongoing clinical trials will tell us: “The duration of protection afforded by the vaccine is unknown as it is still being determined by ongoing clinical trials.”

How about older people – will the vaccine work for them? Many of them have already taken it, of course. This is what the document says: “Currently available clinical trial data do not allow an estimate of vaccine efficacy in subjects over 55 years of age.” Sounds important! And for pregnant women: “There is limited experience with use of Vaxzevria in pregnant women. Animal reproductive toxicity studies have not been completed. Based upon results from the preliminary study, no effects are expected on development of the fetus.” Again, later in the document: “Animal studies of potential toxicity to reproduction and development have not yet been completed. A preliminary reproductive toxicity study in mice does not show toxicity in dams or foetuses.” Hopefully the animal trials will show it is safe!

How about studies relating to the risk of cancer and genetic mutations? “Neither genotoxicity nor carcinogenicity studies were performed. The components of the vaccine are not expected to have genotoxic potential.” Adverse reactions: – headache (52.7%) – fatigue (53.0%) – muscle pain (43.9%) – malaise (44.4%) – feverishness (33.5%), fever (7.6%), – chills (32.2%) – joint pain (26.6%) – nausea (22.2%). Most reactions were “mild to moderate in severity and usually resolved within a few days” And now the results: In the control group, 3% suffered “Covid” with at least one symptom. In the vaccinated group, 1.2% suffered “Covid” with at least one symptom. None of the vaccinated group were hospitalised by Covid, versus 0.2% of the control group (8 people out of 5,210) It has the medical equivalent of a provisional driving licence: “This medicinal product has been authorised under a so-called ‘conditional approval’ scheme. This means that further evidence on this medicinal product is awaited.”

https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/product-information/vaxzevria-previously-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca-epar-product-information_en.pdf

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“I’ve been contacted by members of our voluntary military who say they will quit if the COVID vaccine is mandated”

Military Members Say They’ll “Quit” If Army Mandates COVID-19 Vaccine (ZH)

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said he was informed by some members of the U.S. military that they would quit if the armed forces mandated a COVID-19 vaccine, coming after a report claimed that Army headquarters told commanders to prepare for mandatory vaccinations in September. “I’ve been contacted by members of our voluntary military who say they will quit if the COVID vaccine is mandated. I introduced HR 3860 to prohibit any mandatory requirement that a member of the Armed Forces receive a vaccination against COVID-19. It now has 24 sponsors,” Massie wrote on Twitter. He didn’t provide more details.

It isn’t clear how the service members could quit or how many would try to do so. Once a member reports to their first duty station, they are obligated to stay within the service of the armed forces. If a service member leaves without approval, they can be declared AWOL, or absent without leave. The Republican lawmaker was referring to a report published by the Army Times over the weekend that detailed an executive order sent by the Department of the Army Headquarters that commands should be prepared to administer COVID-19 vaccines starting as early as Sept. 1. The date is contingent on when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues its full approval of the vaccines. The Army Times reported that it had obtained the directive, HQDA EXORD 225-21, COVID-19 Steady State.

“Commanders will continue COVID-19 vaccination operations and prepare for a directive to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for service members [on or around] 01 September 2021, pending full FDA licensure. Commands will be prepared to provide a backbrief on servicemember vaccination status and way ahead for completion once the vaccine is mandated,” the directive reads. An EXORD is a directive issued by the president to the defense secretary to execute a military operation.

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Didn’t see this about quercetin before. We use it to make sure zinc gets into the cell.

Adjuvant Quercetin Supplementation For Early-Stage COVID-19 Infection (Dove)

The current pandemic, known as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) triggered by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), is provoking devastating health, psychological and financial consequences worldwide.1–3 Although several vaccines have been developed, due to limitation in their manufacturing and distribution capacities, the desired globally “herd immunity” still appears to be a distant mirage. In addition, the constant mutations in SARS-CoV-2 put the effectiveness of these vaccination campaigns at serious risk regardless of its speed.4 The current antivirus agents being used, including hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, lopinavir/ritonavir, have not shown any conclusive benefits.

New possible treatments that are safe, affordable, and worldwide available targeting the SARS-CoV-2 are therefore urgently required.6 SARS-CoV-2 proteases, like 3-chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro), papain-like protease (PLpro), RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, spike (S) protein and human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) are considered possible targets for developing effective anti-COVID-19 drugs.7 Recently, molecular docking studies have suggested the possible binding interaction of quercetin with the 3CLpro, PLpro, and S-hACE2 complex.8–12 Some recent results, obtained by biophysical techniques, appear to support the results of the molecular docking studies.

Quercetin, a flavonol not naturally present in the human body, is the most abundant polyphenol in fruits and vegetable and is widely used as a dietary supplement to boost the immune system and promote a healthy lifestyle. Quercetin is characterized by three crucial properties: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory. The combination of these actions allows quercetin to be a potential candidate to support all unhealthy conditions where oxidative stress, inflammation and immunity are involved.

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That’s not much.

Santa Clara County Revises Official COVID-19 Death Toll Down by 22% (CBS)

On Friday, Santa Clara County health leaders announced a drop in its COVID-19 death toll by nearly a quarter after it refined its approach in reporting the data. The county reported that it had reviewed each COVID-19 fatality and was only counting those whose cause of death was from the virus and not those who tested positive for COVID-19 at the time of death but did not necessarily die from the virus. The new approach meant that the death toll dropped by 22%, specifically from 2,201 to 1,696 deaths. “It is important to go back and do this accounting to see if COVID was actually the cause of death,” said University of California San Francisco Prof. of Medicine and Infectious Disease expert Dr. Monica Gandhi.


“I think that transparent communication is an upside, I mean, in the sense that it’s true that if we did this across the nation, it would bring our death rate lower. A downside of that, could be that people will say, ‘Well, it wasn’t as serious as you said.’” The refined approach in Santa Clara County comes as county officials try to figure out the true impact of the virus on the community. Last month, Alameda County health leaders refined their approach to reporting COVID-19 deaths as well and also registered a drop in that county’s death toll by about a quarter. “In the midst of everything COVID people were sort of putting down that cause of death as COVID,” Gandhi said. “It is important to go back and do this accounting to see if COVID was actually the cause of death.”

Read more …

Why break patents of experimental drugs?

Brazil’s Lower House Allows Breaking Vaccine Patents In Case Of Emergency (RT)

The lower house of the Brazilian Congress has voted for a bill that would legalize the violation of patents for vaccines and medications in the event of a national health emergency. It will now go back to the Senate for approval. On Tuesday, the Chamber of Deputies voted 425 to 15 in favor of PL 12/2021. Sponsored by Aécio Neves da Cunha, a Social Democrat from Minas Gerais, the bill would authorize Congress to issue patent-breaking licenses “in case of a public health emergency,” without the approval of the head of state. President Jair Bolsonaro has opposed the proposal. The bill will now return to the Senate, which will decide whether to approve amendments adopted during Chamber debate. “There is an understanding that the changes… we introduced in the bill will also be incorporated in the Senate, which will maintain the text that we have negotiated here,” Neves said, according to Reuters.


One significant difference from the original is that patent holders will no longer be required to provide biological material to companies licensed to violate intellectual property under the emergency rules. The provision was declared “impractical,” “arbitrary” and in violation of Brazil’s constitutionally guaranteed principle of free enterprise. Another amendment would see IP holders compensated to the tune of 1.5% of the net sales involving the infringed medication or vaccine. The law was hailed by the Brazilian branch the NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The measure “improves the current patent law, authorizing the application of compulsory licensing in a more complete and efficient manner, in this health emergency and others,” said MSF’s Brazilian coordinator Felipe Carvalho.

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“You can’t get a city district attorney indicting somebody for failing to pay federal income taxes when the IRS hasn’t even gone after him..”

Dershowitz Predicts Charges Against Trump Org’s CFO Will Be Tossed (ZH)

Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz says he believes federal tax fraud charges filed in New York City against The Trump Organization’s longtime finance chief will end up being dismissed. “You can’t get a city district attorney indicting somebody for failing to pay federal income taxes when the IRS hasn’t even gone after him,” Dershowitz said in a July 3 interview with Newsmax. “One of the charges, a major charge, is grand larceny against the United States government. “That shows the extent to which they are prepared to stretch existing law and the Constitution to give them authority over federal taxes. It’s absurd.”

On July 1, The Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, were charged in what New York prosecutors called a “sweeping and audacious” tax fraud scheme in which Trump’s company and Weisselberg allegedly cheated the state and city out of taxes by conspiring to pay senior executives off the books by way of fringe benefits, such as apartment rent and car payments. Prosecutor Carey Dunne said in court that the alleged scheme was “orchestrated by the most senior executives” at the firm and got “secret pay raises at the expense of state and federal taxpayers.” Weisselberg and attorneys for The Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty.

Ahead of the unsealing of the criminal indictment on July 1, The Trump Organization criticized Manhattan prosecutors for what they claimed was a partisan criminal investigation designed to hurt Trump politically. In a July 1 statement, The Trump Organization said the probe “is not justice; this is politics.” Dunne pushed back on the claim, saying that “politics has no role in the jury chamber, and I can assure you it had no role here.” Alan Futerfas, a member of The Trump Organization’s defense team, disagreed. “I believe the political forces driving today’s events are just that. It’s political, politically driven, notwithstanding the statements by my colleague at the DA’s office in court today,” Futerfas said.

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The Fed will end the US if the US doesn’t end the Fed first.

The Wealth Effect Creates Wealth Disparity (WS)

“The ‘wealth effect’ is the notion that when households become richer as a result of a rise in asset values, such as corporate stock prices or home values, they spend more and stimulate the broader economy,” the NBER said. And yes, after making about 10% of the population a lot richer and producing immense concentration of wealth at the top 1%, there are some minor trickle-down effects on the rest of the economy. Meanwhile, the already immense wealth disparity in the US between the top 10% and the bottom 50% – or worse still, the top 1% and the bottom 50% – blows out. Turns out, the lower 50% of Americans holds practically no stocks, no bonds, and very little real estate, according to the wealth distribution data from the Federal Reserve.

And these folks cannot benefit at all from the wealth effect. For them, life (such as housing) just gets more expensive as a result of the wealth effect. From the Federal Reserve’s data, as of Q1 2021: – The average household in the richest 10% owns $2.6 million in stocks and $1.2 million in real estate. – The average household in the richest 1% holds $16 million in stocks and $4 million in real estate. – The average household in the bottom 50% holds essentially no stocks, no bonds, and only small amounts of real estate. The wealthiest 1% is where the real concentration of wealth takes place. – The wealthiest 15 US individuals have a combined wealth of $2 trillion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index (June 2021). They benefit more than anyone from the wealth effect.

The Wealth Effect purposefully increases asset prices. But only the top 10% of households have significant amounts in assets. The bottom 50% hold nearly no stocks because they don’t make enough money to put anything aside. Many of these people live from paycheck to paycheck. But the Wealth Effect also makes housing more expensive – both buying and renting – and thereby the bottom 50% disproportionately pay for the Wealth Effect. For the bottom 50%, the Wealth Effect is a negative. This chart is from my Wealth Effect Monitor.

Read more …

 

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The best way to keep a prisoner from escaping is to make sure he never knows he’s in prison.
– Fyodor Dostoevsky

 

 

Best Selfie Ever

 

 

Blinken Assange

 

 

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Apr 162021
 


Edvard Munch Spring in Johan Karl Street 1944

 

Blood Clots As Prevalent With Pfizer, Moderna Vaccine As Astrazeneca (MW)
Risk Of Rare Blood Clotting Higher For Covid-19 Than For Vaccines (Oxford)
EU Commission To End AstraZeneca and J&J Vaccine Contracts At Expiry (R.)
India’s COVID-Vaccine Woes — By The Numbers (Nature)
Brazil’s P1 Coronavirus Variant Mutating, May Become More Dangerous (R.)
Norwegian Experts Recommend Stopping Further Use Of AstraZeneca Vaccine (RT)
Ireland May Delay 2nd Vaccine Doses Amid J&J Delays, AstraZeneca Age Limits (RT)
Poland Starts J&J Covid Vaccine Rollout Amid Objections, Health Concerns (RT)
37 People In Denmark Seek Compensation Over Covid Vaccine Side Effects (RT)
Rapid Covid Testing In England May Be Scaled Back Over False Positives (G.)
Is Boris Lauding Lockdowns Because He’s Planning Another For October? (Clark)
‘Vaccine Passports’ Can’t Be Requirement For Travel, Says EU (F.)

 

 

Another one of those days where there’s just too much news. So I split it up in this Covid Rattle and a Debt Rattle that will follow imminently.

 

 

Despite all the bad news, here’s what I think will happen in much of the northern hemipshere, following this graph from Daniel J. Wilson at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (see Debt Rattle April 13)

 

 

Around June 1, in many countries the viral load will have fallen off a cliff. Summer will be much less dangerous than winter. Makes sense. Whether Covid will return in autumn will depend largely on what we do to make people’s immune systems stronger. Vitamin D plays a large role in that, but so do exercise and healthy food.

 

 

Just as everyone starts banning AstraZeneca, turns out mRNA “vaccines” are just as bad. And just as poorly tested.

Blood Clots As Prevalent With Pfizer, Moderna Vaccine As Astrazeneca (MW)

A study by Oxford University found the number of people who receive blood clots after getting vaccinated with a coronavirus vaccine are about the same for those who get Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as they are for the AstraZeneca vaccine that was produced with the university’s help. According to the study, 4 in 1 million people experience cerebral venous thrombosis after getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, versus 5 in 1 million people for the AstraZeneca vaccine. The risk of getting CVT is much higher for those who get COVID-19 — 39 in a million patients — than it is for those for get vaccinated. AstraZeneca’s vaccine use has been halted or limited in many countries on blood clot concerns.

Read more …

But the report this is based on comes from Oxford, one of the makers of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Risk Of Rare Blood Clotting Higher For Covid-19 Than For Vaccines (Oxford)

Researchers at the University of Oxford have today reported that the risk of the rare blood clotting known as cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) following COVID-19 infection is around 100 times greater than normal, several times higher than it is post-vaccination or following influenza. The study authors, led by Professor Paul Harrison and Dr Maxime Taquet from Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry and the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, counted the number of CVT cases diagnosed in the two weeks following diagnosis of COVID-19, or after the first dose of a vaccine. The then compared these to calculated incidences of CVT following influenza, and the background level in the general population.

They report that CVT is more common after COVID-19 than in any of the comparison groups, with 30% of these cases occurring in the under 30s. Compared to the current COVID-19 vaccines, this risk is between 8-10 times higher, and compared to the baseline, approximately 100 times higher. The breakdown comparison for reported cases of CVT in COVID-19 patients in comparison to CVT cases in those who received a COVID-19 vaccine is:

• In this study of over 500,000 COVID-19 patients, CVT occurred in 39 in a million patients.
• In over 480,000 people receiving a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), CVT occurred in 4 in a million.
• CVT has been reported to occur in about 5 in a million people after first dose of the AZ-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.
• Compared to the mRNA vaccines, the risk of a CVT from COVID-19 is about 10 times greater.
• Compared to the AZ-Oxford vaccine, the risk of a CVT from COVID-19 is about 8 times greater.

However, all comparisons must be interpreted cautiously since data are still accruing. Paul Harrison, Professor of Psychiatry and Head of the Translational Neurobiology Group at the University of Oxford, said: ‘There are concerns about possible associations between vaccines, and CVT, causing governments and regulators to restrict the use of certain vaccines. Yet, one key question remained unknown: ‘What is the risk of CVT following a diagnosis of COVID-19?’. ‘We’ve reached two important conclusions. Firstly, COVID-19 markedly increases the risk of CVT, adding to the list of blood clotting problems this infection causes. Secondly, the COVID-19 risk is higher than we see with the current vaccines, even for those under 30; something that should be taken into account when considering the balances between risks and benefits for vaccination.’

Read more …

Pfizer is winning.

EU Commission To End AstraZeneca and J&J Vaccine Contracts At Expiry (R.)

The EU Commission has decided not to renew COVID-19 vaccine contracts next year with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Italian daily La Stampa reported on Wednesday, citing a source from the Italian health ministry. “The European Commission, in agreement with the leaders of many (EU) countries, has decided that the contracts with the companies that produce (viral vector) vaccines that are valid for the current year will not be renewed at their expiry,” the newspaper reported. It added that Brussels would rather focus on COVID-19 vaccines using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, such as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s.


A spokesman for the EU Commission said it was keeping all options open to be prepared for the next stages of the pandemic, for 2022 and beyond. “We cannot, however, comment on contractual issues,” the spokesman added. Later on Wednesday the President of the European Commission said the EU was in talks with Pfizer and BionTech for a new contract for 1.8 billion doses, confirming a Reuters report from last week. “We need to focus on technologies that have proven their worth. mRNA vaccines are a clear case in point,” she added.

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India is not winning. Wonder what went wrong there. Note: 1.4 billion is a lot of people.

India’s COVID-Vaccine Woes — By The Numbers (Nature)

India, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of vaccines, is facing a COVID-19 vaccine crunch, partly due to an explosion of cases linked to new variants. This spells trouble for many countries relying on Indian-made vaccines supplied through the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative for equitable access to vaccines. On 12 April, India reported 168,912 new COVID-19 cases, its highest daily total yet. It has now had more than 13.5 million confirmed cases in total, overtaking Brazil as the world’s second-worst hit country, behind the United States. “While new variants are surfacing in India, a decline in COVID-appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks and social distancing is adding to their faster spread,” says Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.

By 14 April, more than 111 million people had been vaccinated in the country (see ‘The race to vaccinate’). But in March, fears of vaccine shortages led to the government temporarily halting exports of a version of the University of Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine known as Covishield, which is produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), based in Pune. The SII, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccine components, was expected to provide many of the doses for COVAX. But a fire at a facility in January is part of the reason that it hasn’t yet been able to live up to its production target of 100 million doses per month. Currently it produces between 60 million and 65 million per month.

Last June, AstraZeneca, which is based in Cambridge, UK, announced that it had licensed the SII to supply a total of one billion doses of Covishield for low- and middle-income countries. But only 64 million had been exported before the halt in exports last month, 28 million of which went to COVAX. Earlier this year, chief executive Adar Poonawala said on Twitter that the SII had been directed by the Indian government “to prioritise the huge needs of India and along with that balance the needs of the rest of the world”. India’s battle with a surge in cases could delay planned deliveries of Covishield to 64 lower-income countries through COVAX, according to a 25 March statement by initiative member Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a health partnership based in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Note: this article says: “Studies have shown the P1 variant to be as much as 2.5 times more contagious than the original coronavirus ..”

That makes much more sense than the recent piece that claimed the B117 variant was 67 times more contagious than the original.

Brazil’s P1 Coronavirus Variant Mutating, May Become More Dangerous (R.)

Brazil’s P1 coronavirus variant, behind a deadly COVID-19 surge in the Latin American country that has raised international alarm, is mutating in ways that could make it better able to evade antibodies, according to scientists studying the virus. Research conducted by the public health institute Fiocruz into the variants circulating in Brazil found mutations in the spike region of the virus that is used to enter and infect cells. Those changes, the scientists said, could make the virus more resistant to vaccines – which target the spike protein – with potentially grave implications for the severity of the outbreak in Latin America’s most populous nation.


“We believe it’s another escape mechanism the virus is creating to evade the response of antibodies,” said Felipe Naveca, one of the authors of the study and part of Fiocruz in the Amazon city of Manaus, where the P1 variant is believed to have originated. Naveca said the changes appeared to be similar to the mutations seen in the even more aggressive South African variant, against which studies have shown some vaccines have substantially reduced efficacy. “This is particularly worrying because the virus is continuing to accelerate in its evolution,” he added. Studies have shown the P1 variant to be as much as 2.5 times more contagious than the original coronavirus and more resistant to antibodies.

Read more …

Can you still follow it?

Norwegian Experts Recommend Stopping Further Use Of AstraZeneca Vaccine (RT)

The Institute of Public Health in Norway has recommended that the government stop using the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after a lengthy review of the jab. Oslo suspended its use on March 11.
In a press release on Thursday, the agency said that after considering, in collaboration with external experts, the continued use of the heavily-scrutinized Covid-19 jab, that it would no longer recommend its use. It said more evidence has emerged to suggest there is a link between the jab and very rare cases of potentially fatal blood clots. “Based on this knowledge, we have arrived at a recommendation that the AstraZeneca vaccine be removed from the coronavirus vaccination program in Norway,” Geir Bukholm, director of infection control at the National Institute of Public Health, said in the statement.


The institute noted that Norway has made great strides in vaccinating its elderly and those most at risk of Covid. Therefore, those who are yet to be vaccinated are younger and less at risk from the virus – but are also potentially more prone to thrombotic events linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Those who have already received their first dose of the Anglo-Swedish jab will get a second shot from another vaccine manufacturer, the body stated. Also on Thursday, Health Minister Bent Hoeie said the government would not be drawn into a decision yet. “The government believes that we do not have a good enough basis for drawing a final conclusion that the AstraZeneca vaccine should be removed from the Norwegian vaccination program at this point,” Hoeie told a news conference.

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They must have found a different science.

Ireland May Delay 2nd Vaccine Doses Amid J&J Delays, AstraZeneca Age Limits (RT)

The Irish government has said it is considering whether to space out the administering of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in order to reach more people with a first dose as the country looks to open up from tough restrictions.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Thursday, the Irish deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, said it would make sense to space out the administering of the Pfizer shots, like in the UK, for those under 60 years old and in good health. The current interval between the administration of the two shots is 28 days, but some other countries have extended that to 12 weeks, allowing more people to be partially immunized against coronavirus in a shorter period of time. Research from the UK, before the country approved the Moderna jab, showed that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines greatly reduced the risk of hospitalization from Covid-19 after just one shot.


On Wednesday, Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said a decision on whether to spread the vaccines out would be made within the week. The possible move comes as the EU’s medicines regulator reviews the use of the single-shot J&J vaccine and after Ireland limited the AstraZeneca vaccine to those aged 60 and over. On Tuesday, J&J said it would be delaying shipments to Europe while the vaccine is being reviewed following its suspension in the US; its rollout is yet to start in the EU. Similar technology was used in the development of their vaccines, which have been linked to very rare cases of blood clotting. Meanwhile, the EU announced on Wednesday that the bloc would be receiving an additional 25% of vaccines doses in quarter two from Pfizer.

Read more …

It’s just lovely that every country’s experts reach different conclusions. Great for confidence.

Poland Starts J&J Covid Vaccine Rollout Amid Objections, Health Concerns (RT)

Polish health authorities began rolling out doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday, rejecting the concerns of the majority-Catholic country’s religious community and fears about the side effects of the jab. The government’s vaccine chief, Michal Dworczyk, confirmed the state’s vaccine rollout now included the Johnson & Johnson jab, stating health experts felt the benefits outweighed the side effects and they “have not received signals that there are problems or that patients are refusing [to take it].” Some 120,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have arrived in the country, with the first jabs from the consignment administered on Thursday.


On Wednesday, a senior official in Poland’s Catholic Church called on its members to reject both the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines over the use of abortion-derived cells in their manufacturing processes. Bishop Jozef Wrobel declared that the church has a “serious moral objection” to the use of vaccines that include cells “derived from aborted foetuses” in the manufacturing process despite the jabs not containing any abortion-related cells in their ingredients. The comments from Poland’s religious authority contradict earlier remarks from Pope Francis, who declared that it is “morally acceptable” to be vaccinated with jabs developed using the aborted cell-linked manufacturing process. Addressing similar concerns to the Polish Catholic Church, the Pope said that having the vaccine does “not constitute formal cooperation” with or support of abortion.

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“..if you have had a serious side effect and there is a temporal connection with the vaccination, then I would encourage you to seeks compensation from us..”

37 People In Denmark Seek Compensation Over Covid Vaccine Side Effects (RT)

Some 37 people in Denmark are requesting compensation over adverse effects they say were suffered after getting a Covid-19 jab. Most of the cases are related to AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which the country has stopped using. A total of 29 people have applied for compensation for side effects believed to be linked to the Swedish-British jab – which was renamed Vaxzevria last month – the Danish Patient Compensation Association said in a statement on Thursday. A further eight people applied for compensation in connection with the coronavirus jab made by Pfizer. The side effects cited in the applications range from mild fever and discomfort to such extreme conditions as paralysis, blood clots, miscarriage, and even death.

In Denmark, patients are eligible for state-sponsored compensations if they suffer rare or severe adverse effects of any medicines. The relatives of patients who have died can also receive compensation. “There are almost no drugs without side effects. That is why we have a safety net in Denmark that picks up the patients who are so unfortunate as to be affected by rare and serious side effects,” the director of Patient Compensation, Karen-Inger Bast, stated. The director also urged other people who might have suffered side effects to come forward with their complaints as well. She warned, though, that the health troubles must be serious in order to receive compensation.

“It is important to say that you do not receive compensation for mild and transient symptoms such as a little fever or pain in the arm. But if you have had a serious side effect and there is a temporal connection with the vaccination, then I would encourage you to seeks compensation from us,” Bast stated. The association’s announcement comes a day after Denmark became the first European country to completely discontinue use of AstraZeneca vaccine, citing “a possible link between very rare cases of unusual blood clots, bleeding, low blood platelets counts” and the shot by the drug maker. “Our overall assessment is there is a real risk of severe side effects associated with using the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca,” Danish Health Authority Director General Soeren Brostroem said.

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Painting rapid tests in a bad light? PCR is crap too, so no testing left?

Rapid Covid Testing In England May Be Scaled Back Over False Positives (G.)

Senior government officials have raised “urgent” concerns about the mass expansion of rapid coronavirus testing, estimating that as few as 2% to 10% of positive results may be accurate in places with low Covid rates, such as London. Boris Johnson last week urged everyone in England to take two rapid-turnaround tests a week in the biggest expansion of the multibillion-pound testing programme to date. However, leaked emails seen by the Guardian show that senior officials are now considering scaling back the widespread testing of people without symptoms, due to a growing number of false positives.

In one email, Ben Dyson, an executive director of strategy at the health department and one of health secretary Matt Hancock’s advisers, stressed the “fairly urgent need for decisions” on “the point at which we stop offering asymptomatic testing”. On 9 April, the day everyone in England was able to order twice-weekly lateral flow device (LFD) tests, Dyson wrote: “As of today, someone who gets a positive LFD result in (say) London has at best a 25% chance of it being a true positive, but if it is a self-reported test potentially as low as 10% (on an optimistic assumption about specificity) or as low as 2% (on a more pessimistic assumption).”

He added that the department’s executive committee, which includes Hancock and the NHS test and trace chief, Dido Harding, would soon need to decide whether requiring people to self-isolate before a confirmatory PCR test “ceases to be reasonable” in low infection areas where there is a high likelihood of a positive result being wrong. The accuracy of rapid coronavirus tests and how they should be deployed have been the focus of months of debate in the UK. The proportion of false positives – people incorrectly told they have the virus – increases when the prevalence of the disease falls. This happens because although the number of true positives is falling, the tests produce roughly the same number of false positives – meaning the proportion of incorrect results becomes greater.

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Is it lockdowns, vaccines or 50% of under-25s already carrying antibodies because the virus was so widespread? Fried of a friend in London says everyone he knows has “already had it”.

Is Boris Lauding Lockdowns Because He’s Planning Another For October? (Clark)

The prime minister’s claim that it was lockdown, and not the vaccine or seasonal factors, which led to the rapid fall in Covid cases and deaths in the UK should set alarm bells ringing very loudly. The Man in Black wanted us to be in no doubt during his interview this week with Sky News: it was the lockdown whatdunit. “It is very, very important for everybody to understand,” Johnson said, “that the reduction in these numbers, in hospitalisations, in deaths, in infections, has not been achieved because of the vaccination programme. “People don’t, I think, appreciate that it’s the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement in the pandemic and in the figures that we’re seeing. And so, yes of course the vaccination programme has helped, but the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown.”

Repeat after Me: “The bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown.. The bulk of the work…” Why is Johnson so keen to downplay the government’s roll-out of a mass vaccination programme and instead big-up lockdown? Some have said it’s because he fears legal challenges for locking us down again in early January and wants to get his defence statement in before the writ. But I think BoJo is looking forwards, not backwards. By stressing ’lockdowns work’ now, he is ‘nudging’ us towards accepting another shutdown of the non-virtual economy in autumn. There are already some pretty strong clues about what might lie ahead. As I’ve noted in previous articles, the extension of furlough has been an excellent guide over the last twelve months for what is going to happen – far better than the smug ‘inside the tent’ pundits who have assured us since last March that things would soon be getting back to normal.

In December, Chancellor Sunak’s extension of furlough until April was the giveaway – no pun intended – that we’d be locked down again in the New Year, and so it proved. On December 18, I correctly predicted the exact date (January 4) that Johnson would announce the new 2021 lockdown. In early March, furlough was extended again, until the end of September, despite the government assuring us all restrictions would be lifted on June 21. This suggests it’s odds-on that some form of restrictions will remain well past that date, because what happens in October? Why, the autumn/winter flu season starts. It would be so easy for Johnson at that point to say “We need another lockdown” to “protect the NHS” from another wave (the ‘third’ or ‘fourth’) or from a “variant of concern” of coronavirus.

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They call it the “Digital Green Certificate” instead. Same difference.

‘Vaccine Passports’ Can’t Be Requirement For Travel, Says EU (F.)

Travel is on the up and up. CBS News Travel Editor, Peter Greenberg reported that U.S. domestic airfares are rapidly increasing, as are hotel rates (not to 2019 levels yet, but certainly rising). Cruise liners are not waiting for CDC permission to set sail from U.S. ports and are instead repositioning cruises to leave from and visit non-U.S. ports (in the Caribbean, for instance). One cruise liner started selling tickets for its 2021/2022 world cruise, at $40,o00 a cabin, and the ship sold out in one day. And of course, there needs to be a way to verify that people are traveling safely without transmitting the virus to one place from another. In the EU, all 27 countries have agreed that coordination is necessary and that this will take the form of a Digital Green Certificate.

Crucially, however, the EU has agreed that people who don’t have this certificate shouldn’t be discriminated against–that’s why it isn’t called a passport or doesn’t have anything called vaccine near the title. Firstly, it’s to be called a Digital Green Certificate, able to be downloaded onto your phones. It’s not called a vaccination passport, because–the EU said Thursday–you don’t need to be vaccinated to get it. You can also get a certificate if you have had Covid-19 (and recovered) and if you have had a negative Covid-19 test before departure. That way, it doesn’t discriminate between those that have been vaccinated and those who haven’t. As reported by The Local, the EU plans to roll it out by mid-June, initially across the 27 EU bloc to citizens and residents, but also eventually to be compatible with non-EU countries.

Eduardo Santander, chief executive officer of the European Travel Commission, an association of national tourism organizations based in Brussels said: “Finally, we have a tangible solution to coordinating and harmonizing travel measures. I think other countries like the U.S. will also come up with their own technological solutions that will be compatible, and after a period of trials this summer, a global standard will be established.” Individual countries will also have a way of setting individual rules within the certificate. For example, Hungary uses Russia’s Sputnik vaccine, which most of the other EU countries do not, and so–under the certificate–they would be able to incorporate the vaccines they each want to use.

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Mar 042021
 


Francisco Goya The Dog 1819-23

 

Biden Slams “Neanderthal-Thinking” Over Texas, Mississippi COVID Policy (ZH)
16 States Are Now Following The Science (Schachtel)
The War on ‘Misinformation’ Claims Two Victims (Pfeiffer)
Brazil’s Covid Outbreak Is Global Threat, Opens Door To Lethal Variants (G.)
Vaccines Tweaked For Covid Variants Fast-Tracked Safely – UK Regulator (G.)
Injuries Reported to CDC After COVID Vaccines Climb by 4,000 in One Week (CHD)
34 Spontaneous Miscarriages, Stillbirths After COVID-19 Vaccination (ET)
Danger of mRNA Vaccines To Elderly: 16 Deaths In Switzerland (GT)
Half Of French Care Home Workers Don’t Trust Vaccine (R.)
Dutch Health Council: “Too Early” For Advice On Vitamin D Against Corona (AD)
Drug Lobby Asks Biden To Punish Countries Pushing For Low-Cost Vaccines (IC)
How the NATO Alliance Is Fighting Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine (Helmer)
Finland Had a Patent-Free COVID-19 Vaccine Nine Months Ago – But.. (Jac.)
Covid-19 Virus Origin: The Mojiang Miners (SPR)
New York Rolls Out ‘Covid Passport’ At Event Venues (RT)
Giving Kids A Break Is The Best Way For Them To ‘Catch Up’ (G.)
Self Harm Claims Among US Teenagers Increased 99% During Pandemic (F.)

 

 

A bit overloaded today, so two separate Rattles. For all non-Covid news, check Debt Rattle March 4 2021.

 

 

 

 

He should perhaps try and keep the country together….

Biden Slams “Neanderthal-Thinking” Over Texas, Mississippi COVID Policy (ZH)

President Biden has slammed Texas and Mississippi for lifting COVID-19 restrictions, calling it “Neanderthal thinking.” “I think it’s a big mistake…It’s critical, critical, critical that they follow the science…” said Biden.
Newly minted CDC Director Rochelle Walensky wants residents of Texas and Mississippi to continue wearing face masks despite the governors there lifting COVID-19 restrictions amid a decline in cases. “I think we, the CDC, have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions,” said Walensky during a White House pandemic briefing in response to a question about reopening Texas. “Every individual is empowered to do the right thing here, regardless of what states decide.”


On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott enraged the left after announcing that the state would lift its mask mandate and reopen businesses next week, while also banning counties from fining or jailing people who disregard local measures. Effective March 10, all businesses will be allowed to open at 100% of capacity, Abbott said during a media briefing in Lubbock on Tuesday. His executive order allows county judges to reinstate anti-virus rules should hospitalizations surge. “Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities; too many small-business owners have struggled to pay their bills,” the Republican governor said. “It is now time to open Texas 100%.”

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…because people see things in different ways:

16 States Are Now Following The Science (Schachtel)

It took an entire year, but lockdowns and mask mandates are officially incredibly unpopular with half of the country, to the point that governors are rapidly making sweeping changes to their year-long COVID-19 policies. Jumping onto the coattails of pro-individual freedom leaders like governors Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) and Kristi Noem (R-SD), the governors of Mississippi and Texas decided Tuesday to announce an end to business restrictions and statewide mask mandates. Both Tate Reeves (R-MS) and Greg Abbott (R-TX), who had long taken a nanny state approach to the COVID-19 crisis, acted almost simultaneously to announce the end of statewide restrictions. The centrally planned solutions to COVID-19 have failed spectacularly, and the American people have taken notice of this reality.

Hundreds of millions have now been through a full year of government-imposed tyranny on both a federal and state level. Whether it was a travel ban, an endless series of lockdowns, mask mandates, countless emergency orders, business closures, and the like, not a single top-down order from the federal or state level did anything productive for the wellbeing of Americans. None of it worked. All of it served as a net negative. The people have noticed. Now that their constituents have had enough, politicians on the Right are fast departing from the COVID tyranny, and attempting to secure what is left of their political aspirations. Abbott and Reeves are not the only GOP governors moving fast in ending the restrictions, several other governors have recently acted to roll them back.

On February 12, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte lifted his statewide mask mandate. On February 8, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds lifted Iowa’s statewide mask mandate along with several other restrictions. On February 22, North Dakota took it a step further. Its legislative body took the bold step in voting to make mask mandates illegal. As of March 2, there are now 16 states that no longer have statewide mask orders. However, across the political divide, there remains no end in sight to the corona madness. Much of the Left continues to embrace and root on endless COVID-19 restrictions, and the hijacking of individual rights in the name of a virus. Governor Gavin Newsom of California took to Twitter in describing the end of restrictions as “absolutely reckless.” It took long enough, but it’s now official: Governors who continue to impose lockdowns and mask mandates are fast becoming as popular as Red Sox fans in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, at least in half of the country.

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Vit. D, ivermectin, HCQ get heavily censored on social media.

The War on ‘Misinformation’ Claims Two Victims (Pfeiffer)

The effort to manage COVID treatment information has its roots, in part, in a sad chapter in American science and journalism: The Trump endorsement last spring of hydroxychloroquine. In an instant, early treatment was turned into a right-wing myth of interest only to Fox News. The rest of the press was merciless in repeating assertions that a reliable pharmaceutical workhorse used for several diseases was dangerous for COVID. Multiple studies have since refuted that and shown effectiveness in early illness, something most people do not know. Dr. Mobeen Syed was among the first last March to explore HCQ’s potential in a YouTube video that went viral and landed him in a love-it/hate-it, right/left firestorm. “I started getting so many threats,” he said, prompting him to take the piece down himself.

After that, however, YouTube itself decided what the 250,000 subscribers to Drbeen Medical Lectures should see, removing videos willy-nilly, it seemed, on Vitamin D, remdesivir and, what others said was frequently censored, ivermectin. Among other examples of this new censorship trend: On Jan. 31, Facebook removed a page called Ivermectin for MDs Team, with 10,200 members from more than 100 countries. The last straw was a post on the Slovak Ministry of Health’s decision to allow use of ivermectin, which Facebook censors “believe is harmful to physical integrity,” the administrator wrote. Facebook also ruled that news of ivermectin approval by a southern state in Brazil violated its standards. Put another way, the social media giant did not like two independent government decisions and thought it knew better.

On Jan. 12, Twitter ruled a tweet by the Brazilian Ministry of Health — 1.2 million followers — was “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information.” Why? It urged people with COVID symptoms to “go to a Health Unit and request early treatment.” More egregious, YouTube recently expunged two videos posted by a U.S. Senate committee on Dr. Kory’s ivermectin testimony. Further, it purged a video in which a scientist discussed his review of ivermectin as part of a project for a World Health Organization-hosted agency called Unitaid. YouTube even removed a video on its censorship of ivermectin. In a hint at how vast the censorship is, Facebook asserted proudly in a Feb. 8 website post that it had “removed more than 12 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram containing misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm.”

Seven of my posts, on an article I wrote with multiple links to the science of ivermectin, were stricken with that label. (I got off on a 14-hour posting ban.) My efforts were fruitless to get Facebook, Twitter or Google, which owns YouTube, to explain the methodology it uses to censor. In a public post, YouTube says it disallows information that “contradicts local health authorities” and the World Health Organization. Twitter maintains it culls “content that is demonstrably false or misleading and may lead to significant risk of harm.” But who actually decides on a video or post? Are algorithms by technicians making the decisions or scientists and doctors? Should government guidelines be the ultimate yardstick when these are evolving — and sometimes wrong?

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“This is about the world. It’s global.”

Brazil’s Covid Outbreak Is Global Threat, Opens Door To Lethal Variants (G.)

Brazil’s rampant coronavirus outbreak has become a global threat that risks spawning new and even more lethal variants, one of the South American country’s top scientists has warned as it suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic. Speaking to the Guardian, Miguel Nicolelis, a Duke University neuroscientist who is tracking the crisis, urged the international community to challenge the Brazilian government over its failure to contain an epidemic that has killed more than a quarter of a million Brazilians – about 10% of the global total. “The world must vehemently speak out over the risks Brazil is posing to the fight against the pandemic,” said Nicolelis, who has spent most of the last year confined to his flat on the westside of São Paulo. “What’s the point in sorting the pandemic out in Europe or the United States, if Brazil continues to be a breeding ground for this virus?”

Nicolelis said the problem was not simply Brazil – whose far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has repeatedly spurned efforts to combat a disease he calls a “little flu” – being “the worst country in the world in its handling of the pandemic”. “It’s that if you allow the virus to proliferate at the levels it is currently proliferating here, you open the door to the occurrence of new mutations and the appearance of even more lethal variants.” Already, one particularly worrying variant (P1) has been traced to Manaus, the largest city in the Brazilian Amazon, which suffered a devastating healthcare breakdown in January after a surge in infections. Six cases of that variant have so far been detected in the UK. “Brazil is an open-air laboratory for the virus to proliferate and eventually create more lethal mutations,” warned Nicolelis. “This is about the world. It’s global.”

The alert came as Brazil hurtled into the most deadly chapter of its year-long Covid crisis, with hospitals around the country collapsing or on the verge of collapse and the average weekly death toll hitting new heights. A record 1,726 fatalities were reported on Tuesday, the highest number since the pandemic began. “It’s a battlefield,” a doctor in the southern city of Porto Alegre told local television after his hospital’s intensive care unit and mortuary ran out of space. Nicolelis said Bolsonaro’s failure to halt the outbreak and launch an adequate vaccination campaign had created a domestic tragedy from which Latin America’s most populous nation was unlikely to emerge until late 2022.

“We’ve now gone past 250,000 deaths and my expectation is that if nothing is done we could have lost 500,000 people here in Brazil by next March. It’s a horrifying and tragic prospect but at this point it’s perfectly possible,” he said, predicting a traumatic month as public and private hospitals buckled. “My forecast is that if the world was appalled by what happened in Bergamo in Italy and what happened in Manaus a few weeks ago, it’s going to be even more shocked by the rest of Brazil if nothing is done.”

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What does that even mean when the first ones were never properly tested?

Vaccines Tweaked For Covid Variants Fast-Tracked Safely – UK Regulator (G.)

Coronavirus vaccines tweaked to deal with variants will be fast-tracked without compromising on safety or effectiveness, the UK’s regulator has said. The approach will be similar to the regulatory process for the modified flu vaccine, to deal with new strains each year, with a brand new approval not required. Scientists have previously said a Covid-19 variant resistant to the current crop of vaccines is likely to emerge at some point, but vaccines can be adapted quickly. The guidance states coronavirus vaccine manufacturers will need to provide robust evidence that the modified jab produces an immune response. However, lengthy clinical studies are deemed not to add to the regulatory understanding of their safety, quality or effectiveness and will not be needed.


The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said researchers are in a better position to measure protection by looking at antibodies in the blood after vaccination, reducing the need to wait and see whether people in a trial become infected with the virus. It said this will “significantly reduce” the length of time it takes for the modified vaccine to be ready. The guidance from the Access Consortium – a group made up of regulatory authorities from the UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore and Switzerland – requires that, as well as evidence on immune response, the modified vaccines must be shown to be safe and of the expected quality. It says data from the original clinical trials and ongoing studies on real-world use in millions of people could be used to support any decision by the regulators.

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Harmless?

Injuries Reported to CDC After COVID Vaccines Climb by 4,000 in One Week (CHD)

The latest data made public by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) on deaths and injuries reported after COVID vaccines are in line with trends that have been emerging since the first data were released in December. Between Dec. 14, 2020 and Feb. 18, 2021, 19,907 reports of adverse events have been reported to VAERS, including 1,095 deaths and 3,767 serious injuries. About a third of the deaths reported occurred within 48 hours of vaccination, and 48% of the people who died became ill within 48 hours of being vaccinated. About 21% of the deaths were cardiac-related. As The Defender reported last month, Dr. J. Patrick Whelan, a pediatric rheumatologist, warned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December that mRNA vaccines like those developed by Pfizer and Moderna could cause inflammation of the brain and heart, and other injuries in ways not assessed in safety trials.

Of the reported deaths, 966 were reported in the U.S. and 129 outside the U.S. The average age of the deceased was 77.8, the youngest was 23. Of those who died, 53% were male, 46% female and 1% of the reports did not include gender. Of those who died, 56% received the Pfizer vaccine, and 43% got the Moderna vaccine. The number of serious adverse events reports increased by 641 this week, to a total of 3,767 between Dec. 14, 2020, and Feb. 18. Adverse reaction reports from the latest CDC data include: • 160 reports of adverse reactions affecting pregnancy, including 47 miscarriages/preterm births • 1,135 anaphylactic reactions, 64% of which were reported after a Pfizer vaccine and 35% after the Moderna vaccine • 257 reports of Bell’s palsy (Pfizer 71%; Moderna: 29%)


By comparison, during the same time period — Dec. 14, 2020 – Feb. 18, 2021 — VAERS received reports of 83 deaths following flu vaccines. According to the VAERS website, “it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established … VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.” VAERS is the primary mechanism in the U.S. for reporting adverse vaccine reactions. Reports submitted to VAERS require further investigation before a determination can be made as to whether the reported adverse event was directly or indirectly caused by the vaccine.

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Or not harmless?

34 Spontaneous Miscarriages, Stillbirths After COVID-19 Vaccination (ET)

Thirty-four cases of pregnant women experiencing spontaneous miscarriages or stillbirths after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine have been submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is a passive reporting system that allows people to submit a report of an adverse event after vaccination and is run by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Research funded by the CDC has shown that fewer than 1 percent of reactions from vaccinations are being reported on VAERS. Reports made to VAERS do not necessarily mean that a vaccine may have caused the event or reaction. Miscarriages are labeled as spontaneous abortions or abortions in the reporting system.

Many cases of spontaneous miscarriages occurred in the first trimester, or the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy, with 25 occurrences after being immunized with a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. While the four cases of stillborns occurred in either the second (weeks 13-27) or third trimester (weeks 28-40). According to Verywell Health, an online resource on health-related issues: “Research suggests that between 10% and 20% of women with a medically confirmed pregnancy will end in miscarriage. Eighty percent of these will occur during the first trimester.”

[..] Dr. Shelley Cole, MD, an OB-GYN and a member of America’s Frontline Doctors, says it’s concerning that a vaccine still in an experimental phase is being recommended to pregnant and lactating women and that science is no longer protecting them. “As an obstetrician-gynecologist, it is a concern,” Cole told The Epoch Times. “We’re [now] throwing science and the scientific medicine method out the window and jeopardizing pregnancies and future pregnancies.” “It concerns me that the CDC says that there are no studies, but it’s okay to get it and you don’t even need to discuss it with your doctor,” Cole added. “I mean this is the opposite of everything that the scientific models and methods, and standard of care has been for a century.”

[..] The politicization of the drug continues to overshadow studies that show hydroxychloroquine is safe and effective in treating COVID-19. According to c19study.com that tracks clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine around the world, all 27 hydroxychloroquine studies on early treatment reported a “positive effect and an estimated reduction of 65 percent in the effect measured (death, hospitalization, etc.)” However, the drug is “not effective when used very late with high doses over a long period.”

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They all go out of their way to claim there is no proof of a direct link between deaths, and “other adverse reactions”, and vaccines. But it’s a bit much.

Danger of mRNA Vaccines To Elderly: 16 Deaths In Switzerland (GT)

The deaths of 16 elderly people in Switzerland after being inoculated with Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines underscore the potential danger of mRNA vaccines to the age group, Chinese vaccine experts said, further calling for caution. At least 16 people died after receiving vaccines in Switzerland, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic) was quoted as saying by Sputnik in a report on Saturday. The agency said it had obtained about 364 suspected adverse drug reactions, with 199 incidents linked to the vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, and 154 to Moderna’s drug, said the report. Swissmedic said the average age of the deaths was 86 and most of them had pre-existing diseases, adding there was no evidence to suggest that the vaccines were the cause of death.


Chinese experts said the incidents should be assessed cautiously to understand whether the deaths were caused by the vaccines or other preexisting conditions in these individuals. Previously, Norway reported 23 deaths in connection with vaccinations, all of whom were over 80 years old. The COVID-19 vaccines from BioNTec/Pfizer and Moderna were used in Norway. A Chinese immunologist who requested anonymity told the Global Times that the large-scale use of mRNA vaccines carries the risk of causing abnormal immune dysfunction, allergy or even death, especially among the elderly and people with underlying diseases. The immunologist suggested individuals with preexisting conditions, the elderly and those with vulnerable immunity not be given vaccines.

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And neither do those in Germany and Switzerland.

Half Of French Care Home Workers Don’t Trust Vaccine (R.)

Around half of health workers in French care homes do not want to be vaccinated, according to the group of experts guiding the state’s vaccine rollout – compared to only 20% of the residents who have not been inoculated. If significant numbers of care home workers do not get the jab, they could transmit the disease to residents who are not vaccinated and at high risk of serious illness, say advocates for the elderly. One reason for the scepticism is that those recommending the vaccine are the same people – the French state – whom care home workers blame for their low pay and tough working conditions, said Malika Belarbi, a care worker and trade union official. “There’s a complete loss of trust,” she said. The issue is not unique to France. In Germany, care home operator BeneVit Group surveyed staff in November and found only 30% wanted to get vaccinated.


Peter Burri, head of ProSenectute, Switzerland’s biggest advocacy group for seniors, said at most half of nursing staff in the medical sector were willing to get inoculated. [..] Regulators around the world have repeatedly said speed will not compromise safety and vaccine developers have said they will not cut corners in testing for safety and efficacy. The quicker results have stemmed from conducting in parallel trials that are usually done in sequence and can take years. Trials for the shots developed by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have shown only temporary side-effects. France’s state drug safety watchdog has said the procedure for approving the vaccines ensures they are safe and that it monitors side-effects and has seen nothing to warrant stopping their use.

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Google translate

“It seems as if we don’t care that people come to the hospital and die in the meantime.”

10 micrograms= 400 IU. Useless.

Dutch Health Council: “Too Early” For Advice On Vitamin D Against Corona (AD)

Based on the current state of science, according to the Health Council, it is “impossible to assess” whether taking vitamin D can contribute to the prevention of corona. “There is still too little useful research available on this,” said the government’s advisory body. According to the advisory board, sufficient research is available into the prevention of other acute respiratory infections. The chance of respiratory infections is about 10 percent lower if you take vitamin D. But the Health Council sees no reason in this to adjust the existing advice for taking vitamin D. Children up to four years old, women over 50 and men over 70 and pregnant women are already advised to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day.

This also applies to people who produce too little vitamin D in the skin because they get little sunlight or have dark skin. According to the Health Council, many people are not aware of the advice to these groups to take vitamin D. The council wants more attention to be paid to this. In October, several professors of immunology, scientists and doctors called on everyone via this site to take vitamin D. According to those experts, the chance that you will contract a corona infection is smaller and if you do become ill, the disease can be less serious. As a result of this attention to a possible role of vitamin D in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, the State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport has asked the Health Council for advice.

However, according to the Health Council, it is “still too early” for an opinion, because there is still too little research of sufficient quality. The scientists are aiming at studies in which vitamin D has been compared with a placebo. At least six such studies are currently underway, the first results of which are expected this spring. Sufficient research is available on vitamin D and the prevention of other acute respiratory infections not related to covid-19. There is some evidence that vitamin D supplements can help prevent these types of respiratory infections, especially in children between the ages of 1 and 16. But the council sees insufficient reason to advise everyone to take preventive vitamin D.

A large group of renowned experts expressed all their anger in December about the government’s wait-and-see attitude about vitamin D. More and more studies show, they say that vitamin D can reduce the chance of getting corona and that the infection is milder. . The wait-and-see attitude of governments goes down the wrong way with scientists. It “frustrates”, for example, professor of immunology at Wageningen University Huub Savelkoul. “There are more and more studies showing the benefit of vitamin D. I think it’s a kind of arrogance that the government wants to wait for a meta-study first. It seems as if we don’t care that people come to the hospital and die in the meantime. You should be careful with that comment, but that’s where my frustration is. “”

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Moral standards.

Drug Lobby Asks Biden To Punish Countries Pushing For Low-Cost Vaccines (IC)

President Joe Biden’s administration is being asked to punish Hungary, Colombia, Chile, and other countries for seeking to ramp up the production of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics without express permission from pharmaceutical companies. The sanctions are being urged by the drug industry, which has filed hundreds of pages of documents to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative outlining the alleged threat posed by any effort to challenge “basic intellectual property protections” in the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The drug industry has sharply criticized any attempt to share vaccine patents or the technological knowledge needed to manufacture them, despite global need.

According to one estimate, wealthy countries representing just 16 percent of the world’s population have already secured more than half of all Covid-19 vaccine contracts. And current projections show that much of the middle-income and developing world will not achieve widespread vaccinations for years. Some projections predict that low-income countries such as Mali, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe may not achieve significant levels of vaccination until early 2024. The delay will undoubtedly cost countless lives and risk future, potentially dangerous mutations of the Covid-19 virus. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, initial tests showed, is far less effective against the Covid-19 variant that has spread rapidly through South Africa, for example. A prolonged pandemic will also threaten to extend and exacerbate a global economic downturn.

In response, governments around the world are considering a temporary exemption to traditional intellectual property rights in order to rapidly produce coronavirus treatments at low cost, a demand intensely opposed by American lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry. The push by foreign governments to unilaterally set the price and pace of production of coronavirus vaccines, drug lobbyists with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, or BIO, argued, will place “American jobs and the workers who rely on them at risk, and impede scientific advances from reaching society.”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, another drug lobby group, requested that the Biden administration “pursue a variety of enforcement initiatives” and “use all available tools and leverage to ensure America’s trading partners” do not suspend traditional intellectual property rights in the fight against the coronavirus. BIO and PhRMA represent the largest drug firms in the world, including Pfizer, Gilead Sciences, and Johnson & Johnson. The two groups collectively spent more than $38 million lobbying federal officials last year, and member companies maintain extensive ties to prominent think tanks, lawmakers, and academics active in shaping the policy response to the pandemic.

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“The anonymous familiarity formula is a standard practice for anti-Russian fabrications by FT reporters; Bloomberg and Reuters too.”

How the NATO Alliance Is Fighting Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine (Helmer)

When the organ claiming to be the world’s leading financial newspaper conceals the large price subsidy for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by the NATO allies, in order to accuse Russia of price gouging the poor, you can be sure you are watching an information warfare attack. And when the concealment of the vaccine subsidy operation run by GAVI and COVAX hides the fact that the UK, US, and the Bill Gates (lead image, right) and Melinda Gates Foundation are paying 92% of the $10 billion scheme, then you realise that Covid-19 vaccines are a weapon of war. A war, not only against Russia, but also against China.

GAVI stands for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation. Originally established with $750 million from the Gates Foundation in 1999, it is based in Geneva and Washngton, DC, and directed by an epidemiologist, Seth Berkley (lead image, centre). He’s an American doctor whose previous jobs were also funded by Gates and several NATO governments, and before that by the Rockefeller Foundation.COVAX is an acronym, created by GAVI, to stand for a multinational scheme of financing Covid-19 vaccine development in Europe and the US; then funding sale and distribution of these vaccines to low-income countries around the world. GAVI claims the scheme “is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.” Read more of GAVI’s version here.

Think of COVAX as a bank created by GAVI from money deposited by the NATO governments and either granted or loaned to client government which meet the bank’s eligibility criteria. GAVI’s website publishes a weekly update on what it calls the “Covid-19 vaccine race”. The best known of the 11 vaccines on the GAVI list and marked as medically approved are Moderna, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson (US); AstraZeneca (UK); Pfizer (Germany); Sinovac (China); and Gamaleya’s Sputnik V (Russia). The American and British vaccines are being promoted and funded by the GAVI-COVAX scheme; the Chinese and Russian vaccines are not.

Last Thursday, on February 25, the Financial Times, a Japanese-owned, London-based, and Lebanese-edited publication, claimed the cost price of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to the poorest of African Union (AU) country members was “three times more than the price of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, according to people familiar with the procurement process.” The anonymous familiarity formula is a standard practice for anti-Russian fabrications by FT reporters; Bloomberg and Reuters too.

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“The Finnish vaccine provides a striking case study of the many ways in which the contemporary patent-based funding model has slowed down vaccine development..”

“And typically, the choice is based on what applications they have a patent on, whether it’s the best option or not.”

Finland Had a Patent-Free COVID-19 Vaccine Nine Months Ago – But.. (Jac.)

We felt it was our duty to start developing this type of alternative,” says professor Kalle Saksela, chair of the Department of Virology at the University of Helsinki. “Back in the spring, I still thought that surely some public entity will get involved and start pushing it forward. Turns out that no situation is urgent enough to compel the state to start actively pursuing something like this.” Saksela’s team has had a patent-free COVID-19 vaccine ready since May 2020, which they dubbed “the Linux of vaccines” in a nod to the famous open-source operating system that also originated from Finland. The work is based on publicly available research data and predicated on the principle of sharing all new findings in peer-reviewed journals.

The research team includes some of Finland’s scientific heavyweights, such as Academy professor Seppo Ylä-Herttuala of the A. I. Virtanen Institute, a former president of the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, and academician Kari Alitalo, a foreign associated member of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States. They believe their nasal spray, built on well-established technology and know-how, is safe and highly effective. “It’s a finished product, in the sense that the formulation will no longer change in any way with further testing,” Saksela says. “With what we have, we could inoculate the whole population of Finland tomorrow.” But instead of exploring the potential of intellectual property–free research, Finland, like other Western countries, has continued to follow the default policy of the last several decades: to lean fully on Big Pharma.

In the mainstream narrative, the first-generation COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca are typically presented as an illustration of how markets incentivize and accelerate vital innovation. In reality, the fact that the profit motive is the overriding force shaping medical research has been devastating — particularly in a global pandemic. The Finnish vaccine provides a striking case study of the many ways in which the contemporary patent-based funding model has slowed down vaccine development, and how it currently hampers the possibility of conducting effective mass-inoculation campaigns. [..] “Different biotech firms would slap the spike protein onto some type of delivery mechanism, whether it was RNA technology or something else,” Saksela explains. “And typically, the choice is based on what applications they have a patent on, whether it’s the best option or not.”

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” It can explain most or all of the unusual properties of SARS-CoV-2, including its very strong binding to human ACE2 cell receptors and its rather low mutation rate, even without having to assume “gain of function” research (i.e. genetic engineering) — although the hypothesis doesn’t exclude this, either.”

Covid-19 Virus Origin: The Mojiang Miners (SPR)

Virologist Jonathan Latham and geneticist Allison Wilson have proposed a new hypothesis for the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been known since February that a bat virus called RaTG13, collected by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in 2013, is the closest known relative of SARS-CoV-2. It has been known since May (to some) that RaTG13, previously known as BtCoV/4991, was found in bat feces in a mineshaft near Mojiang in southwest China, after six miners fell ill with Covid19-like pneumonia and three of them eventually died. The WIV itself didn’t disclose this link, however. On the contrary, in a March 2020 interview the famous WIV “bat woman” Shi Zhengli falsely claimed “a fungus” had caused the miners’ illness.

It is also known that RaTG13, despite its 96% similarity, cannot be the direct ancestor of SARS-CoV-2, as natural mutations in the environment would have taken at least several decades. But it has been shown computationally that RaTG13 can already infect human lung cells to some extent. Finally, it is known that the sick Mojiang miners, exhibiting severe Covid19-like pneumonia, were hospitalized for up to four months before being either discharged or dying back in 2012. Latham and Wilson now propose that the Mojiang miners were originally infected by RaTG13 and/or similar coronaviruses during their up to two week stay in the mineshaft inhaling aerosols from bat feces. RaTG13 then turned into SARS-CoV-2 (or a precursor virus) through mutations and/or recombinations in the lungs of the miners during their up to four month stay in the hospital.

Thus the infected lungs of the miners may have served as a ‘human incubator’ enabling RaTG13 to adapt to both the human ACE2 cell receptor and the human immune system in just four months instead of several decades as would have been expected in a natural (animal) environment. The Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2012/2013 received tissue and blood samples of the surviving or dead miners that may already have included SARS-CoV-2 (or a precursor). WIV virologists may then have been waiting five more years, until the completion of their BSL-4 (high security) lab in 2017/2018, before beginning to do research on what is now known as SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 may then have escaped, in autumn 2019, from the WIV lab, perhaps through an infected lab worker or animal cadaver, initiating what is now a global coronavirus pandemic.

This, in short, is the Latham-Wilson Mojiang Miners Passage (MMP) hypothesis. It can explain most or all of the unusual properties of SARS-CoV-2, including its very strong binding to human ACE2 cell receptors and its rather low mutation rate, even without having to assume “gain of function” research (i.e. genetic engineering) — although the hypothesis doesn’t exclude this, either.

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The “Excelsior Pass”… Whenever you see things like this, remember:

“..all we know about the vaccines is that they will very effectively reduce your risk of severe disease. We haven’t seen any evidence yet indicating whether or not they stop transmission.”

New York Rolls Out ‘Covid Passport’ At Event Venues (RT)

New York has launched a new Covid-19 ‘passport’ program at major event venues, with spectators asked to use a phone app to prove they’ve been vaccinated, as mandated under state guidelines, or else be barred entry. The “Excelsior Pass” was tested for a second time at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday during a New York Rangers game, functioning like a mobile boarding pass that conveys attendees’ vaccine and testing status. While it made its debut at the Barclays Center late last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the project in an announcement this week, insisting the data on the pass would be kept “completely confidential.”

“The Excelsior Pass will play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way, allowing us to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal,” he said, stressing that participation is “voluntary” for now. As an alternative to the mobile app, residents can also present a paper version of the pass to gain entry to events, both using a QR code linked to their health information. The code does not pass any sensitive medical data to event venues, but merely alerts when a pass is invalid. While it has only been tried at two locations, the state government hopes to expand the program further after the testing period.

As of February 23, New York’s pandemic restrictions require venues with more than 10,000 seats to ensure all staff and spectators receive either a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of an event, or to prove they’ve been fully vaccinated against the illness. The guidelines also force organizers to “collect contact information from all those in attendance to help inform contact tracing efforts,” though that is done separately from the new Excelsior Pass.

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Maybe you should question the way education is organized in the first place.

Giving Kids A Break Is The Best Way For Them To ‘Catch Up’ (G.)

Across the UK schools are again preparing for a phased or full return of pupils to the classroom. Most weary parents, compassionate teachers and lonely kids will be delighted to see this day come, but concerns remain about the effect that protracted school closures have had on our children and young people. Much of the debate has focused on how to help pupils “catch up” on their “lost learning”. This narrative is profoundly unhelpful and potentially damaging, due to the psychological pressure it places on children and young people. It’s our national obsession with summative assessment that makes children feel that they have “fallen behind” if they haven’t learned certain things at certain times. But in every year group, pupils are at various stages of cognitive, physical and emotional development.

There is no such thing as “behind”, there is only where children are at. Besides, if we truly believe that everyone can be a lifelong learner, then a few months of parents struggling to teach phonics is a brief bump on their educational journey. When I read recently of measures being planned to help children make up for lost school time through extended school days, tutoring and summer schools, my first instinct was that we should do the exact opposite. Pre-Covid research from the US has been referenced in support of extending school days, but studies have not provided evidence of positive impact on attainment. Research by the Education Endowment Foundation has highlighted limited evidence of small group tutoring benefiting learners who are “falling behind” and some small benefits of summer schools.

Whether the small gains seen in these studies could be replicated on a larger scale post-pandemic is as yet untested, and open to debate. Given limited time and resources, rather than hoping for a slight boost in standardised attainment scores, educators and government should focus instead on addressing the immediate impact of the crisis, with an eye to what interventions will help children most in the long term. Emotional wellbeing is fundamental and foundational for academic attainment. A stressed, anxious child will have difficulty learning anything. On the flip side, promoting wellbeing can boost academic outcomes. A meta-analysis of 213 school-based, social and emotional learning programmes demonstrated an 11% boost in results in standardised achievement tests.

The impact of lockdown on child and adolescent mental health and wellbeing is clear from research on previous school closures, within the health service, and in our own experiences as parents. Social isolation has exacerbated disadvantage and pre-existing vulnerability. It’s vital that long-term planning includes improving the availability and accessibility of therapeutic support for those who need it. Right now, we need to emotionally regulate before we educate.

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Is it the school closures, or is it banning them from meeting?

Self Harm Claims Among US Teenagers Increased 99% During Pandemic (F.)

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the mental health of teenagers in the United States, according to an analysis of medical records and insurance claims conducted by non-profit FAIR Health, which found that overdoses, intentional self-harm claims, substance use disorders and claims for depression and anxiety disorders all increased substantially in 2020 compared to the prior year. FAIR Health analyzed data from over 32 billion private healthcare claim records, tracking month-by-month changes from January to November 2020 compared to the same timeframe in 2019. The most significant spikes were discovered early on in the pandemic, as the overall number of insurance claims for mental health issues among young people aged 13-18 in March and April of 2020, as a percentage of all medical claim procedures, was nearly double compared to the prior year.

Specifically, claims related to overdoses among that age group jumped up 119% in April 2020 versus April 2019, while claim reports for generalized anxiety and major depressive disorders rose 94% and 84%, respectively. Claims for intentional self-harm as a percentage of all medical claim rpeorts in the 13-18 age group increased 99.8% during that time frame. According to the study, these claims remained elevated through November. “We know that teenagers already have high rates of mental illness,” Dr. Jess Shatkin of the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center told MedPage Today. “Now [with the pandemic], their parents are starting to struggle, with relationships, jobs, food security. It just ups the ante. We already see vulnerability, and this just makes them more vulnerable.”

While confirmed cases of Covid-19 and related fatalities can clearly be tracked, the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of human beings is not as easily quantifiable. The FAIR Health study’s authors cite infection-related fears, grief, economic instability, and social isolation as contributing factors that have triggered and intensified mental health issues. The numbers in the study align with previously reported data on this subject. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released last summer found that the prevalence of depression in June 2020 was approximately four times higher than in the second quarter of 2019, with anxiety about three times higher as well. Several other studies have also shown that young people have been particularly vulnerable to mental health issues due in large part to school closures, which have left them isolated from friends and teachers.

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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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March 2, 2020:

 

 

 

 

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Jun 072020
 


Banksy June 2020

 

 

Coronavirus Shows Global Consequences Of China’s Local Censorship (SCMP)
More Than 140 Zuckerberg-Funded Scientists Want Facebook To Censor Trump (G.)
Cuba Sets Example With Successful Program To Contain Coronavirus (G.)
Brazil Govt Yanks Virus Death Toll As Data Befuddles Experts (AP)
China Would Make A Coronavirus Vaccine A ‘Global Public Good’ (R.)
FBI Pledge Allegiance to Black Lives Matter, Antifa (CTH)
Banksy: “It’s Not Their Problem, It’s Mine” (PA)
Walmart CEO Pledges $100 Million To Address Systemic Racism (Hill)
For Millennials And Women, The Jobs Report Was Catastrophic (ZH)
‘Never Say Never’ On ECB Buying Shares: Governing Council Member (R.)
Elmer Fudd Will Not Have A Gun In ‘Looney Tunes’ Reboot (Hill)
Mexico To Sit Out Extension Of OPEC+ Oil Output Cuts (R.)
DOJ, 50 State AGs Inn Push To Breakup Google’s Ad-Tech Dominance (ZH)
Judge In Epstein Grand Jury Case Has Ties To People Involved (Julie K. Brown)

 

 

The entire world increasingly retreats into echo chambers deeply buried in trenches, goaded onwards by mass value signaling and gaslighting. It is scary.

 

 

Total global cases surpassed 7,000,000.


Total global deaths surpassed 400,000.

 

 

Worldometer puts global new cases for June 5 at + 128,039.

My count from about 6 am EDT to 6 am EDT is+ 132,816 cases.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 22,836
• Brazil + 30,488
• Russia + 8,984
• India + 10,086
• Pakistan + 4,960
• Chile + 5,246

 

 

Cases 7,004,814 (+ 132,816 from yesterday’s 6,871,728)

Deaths 402,665 (+ 4,002 from yesterday’s 398,663)

 

 

Note: Italy, Spain, France stripped out. They combine for 90,000 deaths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Interesting: other than in purely moral terms, to what degree does censorship hinder the world in finding a response to disasters like pandemics?

Coronavirus Shows Global Consequences Of China’s Local Censorship (SCMP)

China has the world’s highest number of internet users at over 854 million in 2019 according to the country’s Cyberspace Administration. However, its online world is confined within the so-called “Great Firewall”, and everything from criticism of the government to pornography is censored. Technology companies that run China’s social media platforms employ thousands of content moderators as censors and develop algorithms to prevent anything sensitive from being published or to quickly remove it, while foreign websites and social media platforms such Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are blocked.

[..] About 19 posts per 1,000 were removed – almost 700 from 37,226 – when China’s Centres for Disease Control published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 29 that indicated officials knew of human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 earlier than admitted. The authorities had previously claimed there was no evidence of human-to-human spread of the disease “so that’s why this was the top grievance”, Fu said. “There were a lot of people complaining and reacting to that paper.” News of the coronavirus became public on December 30, 2019, after screenshots from doctors’ chat groups warning about an unknown respiratory illness spread online. But police reprimanded some of the doctors who tried to raise the alarm, including Li Wenliang who later died from the disease, prompting a huge outpouring of public grief and anger.

Li’s death on February 7 prompted another spike in censorship with three posts per 1,000 – 117 out of 40,232 – relating to the topic being censored that day. Again, Fu said, what seemed like a low number was explained by the huge amount of posts and the fact that many would not have been detected by Weiboscope because they did not mention Li’s name to avoid the censors. Independent journalists have also been targeted, and two citizen journalists Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin are still missing after they disappeared in February after reporting from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the initial Covid-19 outbreak in China.

Research published in the journal Nature last month estimated that if strong intervention had been taken against Covid-19 in China a week earlier, cases could have been “dramatically reduced” by 66 per cent. Acting three weeks earlier, at the start of January, would have reduced the number of cases by 95 per cent, according to the paper by scientists from China, the United States and Britain. “Early warnings allow governments to take early action,” Fu said. “We find evidence that social media posts including early warnings to the public were censored especially in the early stage of the pandemic.”

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Would they like their own work censored as well? Or just the people they don’t agree with?

More Than 140 Zuckerberg-Funded Scientists Want Facebook To Censor Trump (G.)

More than 140 scientists funded by Mark Zuckerberg have said Facebook should not be letting Donald Trump use the social media platform to “spread both misinformation and incendiary statements”. The researchers, who include more than 60 professors at leading US research institutions and one Nobel laureate, sent the Facebook CEO a letter on Saturday asking him to “consider stricter policies on misinformation and incendiary language that harms people”, especially during the current turmoil over racial injustice. The letter calls the spread of “deliberate misinformation and divisive language” contrary to the researchers’ goals of using technology to prevent and eradicate disease, improve childhood education and reform the criminal justice system.

Their mission “is antithetical to some of the stances that Facebook has been taking, so we’re encouraging them to be more on the side of truth and on the right side of history, as we’ve said in the letter”, said Debora Marks of Harvard Medical School, one of three professors who organized it. The others are Martin Kampmann of the University of California, San Francisco, and Jason Shepherd of the University of Utah. All have grants from a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative program working to prevent, cure and treat neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. They said the letter had more than 160 signatories. Shepherd said about 10% were employees of foundations run by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.


The letter objects specifically to Zuckerberg’s decision not to act on a post by Trump that stated “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. The letter’s authors called the post “a clear statement of inciting violence”.

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“..tens of thousands of family doctors, nurses and medical students to “actively screen” all homes on the island for cases of Covid-19 – every single day.”

Cuba Sets Example With Successful Program To Contain Coronavirus (G.)

The World Health Organization has identified Latin America as the new centre for coronavirus pandemic, but over the last two months, cases in Cuba have fallen. Cubans are now 24 times less likely to catch the virus than Dominicans, 27 times less likely to catch it than Mexicans, and more than 70 times less likely to be infected than Brazilians. Desperate for tourist revenue, Cuba closed its border later than most other countries in the region. But ever since the communist-ruled island shut out the outside world in late March, it has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the virus. The state has commanded tens of thousands of family doctors, nurses and medical students to “actively screen” all homes on the island for cases of Covid-19 – every single day.


That means that from Monday to Sunday, Dr Caballero and her medical students must walk for miles, monitoring the 328 families on her beat. “There’s no other country in the hemisphere that does anything approaching this,” said William Leogrande, professor of government at American University in Washington DC. “The whole organization of their healthcare system is to be in close touch with the population, identify health problems as they emerge, and deal with them immediately. “We know scientifically that quick identification of cases, contact tracing and quarantine are the only way to contain the virus in the absence of a vaccine – and because it begins with prevention, the Cuban health system is perfectly suited to carry out that containment strategy.”

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Johns Hopkins depended on those numbers. Don’t know about Worldometer.

Brazil Govt Yanks Virus Death Toll As Data Befuddles Experts (AP)

Brazil’s government has stopped publishing a running total of coronavirus deaths and infections in an extraordinary move that critics call an attempt to hide the true toll of the disease in Latin America’s largest nation. The Saturday move came after months of criticism from experts saying Brazil’s statistics are woefully deficient, and in some cases manipulated, so it may never be possible to gain a real understanding of the depth of the pandemic in the country. Brazil’s last official numbers showed it had recorded over 34,000 deaths related to the coronavirus, the third-highest number in the world, just ahead of Italy. It reported nearly 615,000 infections, putting it at the second-highest, behind the United States. Brazil, with about 210 million people, is the globe’s seventh most populous nation.

On Friday, the federal Health Ministry took down a website that had showed daily, weekly and monthly figures on infections and deaths in Brazilian states. On Saturday, the site returned but the total numbers of infections for states and the nation were no longer there. The site now shows only the numbers for the previous 24 hours. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted Saturday that disease totals are “not representative” of the country’s current situation. A Bolsonaro ally contended to the newspaper O Globo that at least some states providing figures to the Health Ministry had sent falsified data, implying that they were exaggerating the toll. Carlos Wizard, a businessman expected to assume a high-level post in the Health Ministry, said the federal government would be conducting a review intended to determine a “more accurate” toll.


[..] A council of state health secretaries said it would fight the changes by Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and tried to thwart attempts to impose quarantines, curfews and social distancing, arguing those steps are causing more damage to the economy than the pandemic. “The authoritarian, insensitive, inhumane and unethical attempt to make the COVID-19 deaths invisible will not prosper,” the health secretaries council said Saturday.

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US Senator Scott says they’ll do the opposite, even hinder western attempts at a vaccine.

China Would Make A Coronavirus Vaccine A ‘Global Public Good’ (R.)

China will increase international cooperation if it succeeds in developing a novel coronavirus vaccine, the science and technology minister said on Sunday. China would make a vaccine a “global public good” when it is ready, the minister, Wang Zhigang, told a news conference in Beijing.

[..] China is expending great efforts in the global scramble to develop a vaccine for the new coronaries epidemic that began in its central city of Wuhan, with Chinese researchers conducting five separate clinical trials on humans, or half of all such trials globally, according to the data compiled by the World Health Organization. President Xi Jinping vowed last month at the World Heath Assembly, the WHO’s governing body, that vaccines China’s develops will become a “global public good” once they are ready for use, and it will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.


Developing “a vaccine is still the fundamental strategy in our effort to overcome the new coronavirus,” Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang told a news conference in Beijing. But vaccine development is very difficult and takes time, he said, when asked how China would initially prioritise shots by country when a vaccine is found. “The rigour of vaccine development has been compared by some scientists to a dance involving precise steps and rehearsals,” Wang said.

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How right wing America views the issue. They feel betrayed by the FBI because of Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Lisa Page, Russiagate and the impeachment fiasco.

FBI Pledge Allegiance to Black Lives Matter, Antifa (CTH)

In a display of public unity with ‘The Movement’ writ large, FBI officials took a knee to declare their woke allegiance with the protesting mobs. With that visible display we now have a better understanding of the motives behind a history of FBI failures. Setting aside the optic that some members of the FBI looking more like ‘meal-team-6’, there was always a suspicion the FBI were more concerned about political correctness than actually doing the work of a federal investigative agency. Historically the FBI has failed miserably to stop domestic terror threats; and when the investigative failures are researched there’s usually a prior connection between the attackers and the FBI.

The father of the Orlando Pulse nightclub terrorist, Omar Mateen, was a guy named Seddique Mateen (you might remember seeing him at the Hillary Clinton rally). After Omar killed 49 people it was discovered that Seddique had been an FBI informant for over eleven years (2005 to 2016). Similarly, after the Parkland school shooting, it was discovered the FBI was fully aware of Nikolas Cruz, yet again they had taken no action. The exact same scenario had played out several years earlier when the FBI was warned about the Tsarnaev brothers before the Boston Marathon Bombing 2013 and yet they did nothing to stop it.


The FBI is now a political agency with police powers within the federal government. The activity of Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, James Comey, Andrew McCabe and a host of very familiar names has shown just how important politics is within the institution. Indeed, as we saw in the ridiculous Hillary Clinton investigation, politics was the prism for every decision; and protecting their ideological tribe was the biggest concern within the agency. Understanding the sensitivity behind the FBI to the Muslim community; a sensitivity almost identical to the expressed position of the democrat party apparatus; it should not come as a big surprise to see FBI agents ignoring terror threats and simultaneously taking a knee to show their allegiance with Black Lives Matter.

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The headline the Guardian used for this PA Media piece is “Banksy Supports Black Lives Matter With Latest Artwork”. But he doesn’t, or we don’t know if he does, not from his words. He supports black people, not some movement.

Banksy: “It’s Not Their Problem, It’s Mine” (PA)

Banksy has shown his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, saying “people of colour are being failed by the system”. The graffiti artist wrote in an Instagram post: “At first I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue. But why would I do that? It’s not their problem, it’s mine. “People of colour are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. The faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t, no one will let them in the apartment upstairs. “This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.”

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Walmart supports black people. What a joke that is.

A single Tweet says it all: “Walmart is the largest private employer of Black people in the US, is viciously anti-union, and pays poverty wages..”

Walmart CEO Pledges $100 Million To Address Systemic Racism (Hill)

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon is pledging to donate $100 million over five years to create a new center on racial equity following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died as a result of an arrest by Minneapolis police. In an email to employees Friday, McMillon condemned racial violence and said the company plans to make changes to fight for greater racial equity inside and outside of Walmart. “The global health crisis has tested all of us in recent months, and the racial violence in the U.S.— in particular, the murder of George Floyd — is tragic, painful and unacceptable,” McMillon wrote in the email. The Walmart CEO laid out several initiatives the company will undertake, including making the recruitment, development and support of African Americans inside the company “even more of a priority.”


The company will also invest in improving fairness, equity and justice in society broadly. “We will find the natural overlaps between Walmart’s core business and society’s larger needs that perpetuate racism and discrimination,” McMillon wrote. “Specifically, we’re going to focus the power of Walmart on our nation’s financial, healthcare, education and criminal justice systems.” McMillon said the center focused on racial equity “will seek to advance economic opportunity and healthier living, including issues surrounding the social determinants of health, strengthening workforce development and related educational systems, and support criminal justice reform with an emphasis on examining barriers to opportunity faced by those exiting the system.”

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Trump is so eager to praise the headline numbers that he forgets they are nonsense, and misses the opportunity to tell people to try harder.

For Millennials And Women, The Jobs Report Was Catastrophic (ZH)

There were clear problems with Friday’s “incredible” – as Trump put it – jobs report. First and foremost the BLS’ own admission there was a “survey error” which may have reduced the real unemployment rate by up to 3% as survey-takers mistakenly counted about 4.9 million temporarily laid-off people as employed, then moving through some very aggressive statistical assumption revisions to boost the “birth/death” model, the curious case of millions of “jobs” resurrected temporarily thanks to the PPP program: as recruitment firm LaSalle Network head Tom Gimbel said, today’s jobs report may offer a “false ray of light” because almost all job gains stemmed from furloughed employees kept on the books due to PPP loans (he said he was seeing real weakness in new hiring).


But even if one accepts the report at its face, if one digs beneath the glossy veneer, the details are anything but “incredible” as described by the president. Start with Trump’s “incredible” V-shaped rebound: after the 2.5mm new jobs added, total US employment is basically where it was at the depth of the financial crisis, while 21 million workers find themselves unemployed – this number was 6 million just two months ago. Putting that number in context, with roughly 133 million employed workers, there are a record 102 million Americans who are not in the labor force, of whom 92.7 million don’t even want a job.

Among those who were lucky enough to remain in the work force, millions were shifted from full to part-time.

[..] And here is the catalyst for the next round of social discontent: women unemployment is now far higher than that of men after being roughly the same before covid: how long before accusation of rampant employer sexism are the next big thing?

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Dangerous because clueless. Trying to revive the past, because that’s what got him his job.

‘Never Say Never’ On ECB Buying Shares: Governing Council Member (R.)

“Never say never” on the European Central Bank one day buying shares rather than government or corporate bonds, but it has not discussed the idea yet, ECB Governing Council member Robert Holzmann said in comments published on Sunday. The ECB on Thursday announced a bigger-than-expected expansion of its stimulus package to prop up an economy plunged by the coronavirus pandemic into its worst recession since World War Two. Holzmann took over as head of the Austrian National Bank just last year but has already been outspoken on various issues, calling for the ECB to lower its often-undershot inflation target and warning against negative rates. He also says he initially suggested that Thursday’s decision be put off.


“Never say never. If the need is there, this discussion will definitely have to take place. But currently that discussion does not exist,” Holzmann told newspaper Die Presse when asked if the ECB could start buying shares. On lowering the inflation target from just under 2%, Holzmann said he could still change his stance in a discussion that the ECB has pushed back because of the pandemic. “If it is difficult to get from 1.5% to 1.9%, then in a time of low inflation expectations one can also set oneself a different target, although I myself have not yet formed a final opinion here,” Holzmann said. “The fundamental discussion on ECB strategy has been postponed because of the crisis and should be taken up again as of the summer,” he added.

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How to make guns magically disappear.

Elmer Fudd Will Not Have A Gun In ‘Looney Tunes’ Reboot (Hill)

In a new series based on the beloved “Looney Tunes” cartoons, the classic character Elmer Fudd will no longer carry a gun. The new series “Looney Tunes Cartoons,” which premiered last week on the streaming service HBO Max, will feature the cartoon’s characteristic violence – using sticks of dynamite, booby traps and the iconic anvils and bank safes dropped onto characters, The New York Times reported last week. However, Peter Browngardt, the series executive producer and showrunner, told the outlet, “We’re not doing guns.” “But we can do cartoony violence — TNT, the Acme stuff. All that was kind of grandfathered in,” Browngardt told the outlet.


Elmer Fudd is regularly foiled trying to hunt Bugs Bunny on the show. In the new series, the character will carry a scythe. However, comics artist Johnny Ryan, who worked on the show, noted to the Times that he believes “We’re going through this wave of anti-bullying, everybody needs to be friends, everybody needs to get along.” “‘Looney Tunes’ is pretty much the antithesis of that,” he said. “It’s two characters in conflict, sometimes getting pretty violent.”

https://twitter.com/aaronjmate/status/1269487929463898112

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OPEC+ meets COVID19. That was nnever going to be smooth.

Mexico To Sit Out Extension Of OPEC+ Oil Output Cuts (R.)

Mexico will not join other top oil producers in extending through July output cuts aimed at propping up the price of crude, Energy Minister Rocio Nahle said on Saturday. Made up of OPEC members and allies led by Russia, the group known as OPEC+ agreed in April to cut oil supply by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in May and June to support prices. Under that deal, Mexico pledged to reduce its crude output by 100,000 bpd in May and June, after resisting pressure from other oil producers to make cuts of 400,000 bpd. The cuts had been due to taper to 7.7 million bpd from July to December, but on Saturday, OPEC+ agreed to extend the production cuts until the end of July.


Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has vowed to ramp up the country’s crude oil production, said on Friday that Mexico was not in a position to make additional cuts on top of what it had agreed in April. His energy minister Rocio Nahle confirmed Mexico would not participate in the fresh cuts agreed on Saturday. “There are other countries that extended their cuts to July, in this case we said no, we’ll stick to the agreement that we signed in April,” she told reporters in the eastern state of Veracruz. “There’s no problem.”

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They’re going to frustrate the CIA? I’ll believe it when I see it.

DOJ, 50 State AGs Inn Push To Breakup Google’s Ad-Tech Dominance (ZH)

In what would be a monumental move — and we might ad good for independent media breaking the shackles of the mainstream’s ongoing attempts to police content and punish dissent — Google’s total dominance over online advertising could soon come to an end. CNBC revealed Friday that no less than 50 sate attorneys general have been investigating Google’s business practices as part of a months long probe alongside a parallel DOJ effort, and momentum is gaining toward a looming major antitrust lawsuit against the internet giant. Leading the probe among the states is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who did not comment in Friday’s CNBC report.

Google, however, did respond, with a Google spokesperson rebutting with, “The facts are clear, our digital advertising products compete across a crowded industry with hundreds of rivals and technologies, and have helped lower costs for advertisers and consumers.” President Trump has lately put big tech in the spotlight over allegations of targeted censorship of conservative content, lately signing an executive order which seeks to reduce liability protections of major internet companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google. Independent and alternative voices have also long complained of being demonetized or unfairly targeted for analysis and commentary falling outside of accepted ‘groupthink’.


It remains that the bulk of Google’s some $161 billion in revenue comes via ad sales, with a far smaller amount coming through products the tech giant and its parent company Alphabet Inc. are traditionally known for: software and technology. CNBC summarizes what’s at stake as follows: “Critics have said that Google bundles its ad tools so that rivals can’t afford to match its offerings and that its operation of search results, YouTube, Gmail and other services to hinder ad competition. They also say that Google owns all sides of the “auction exchange” through which ads are sold and bought, giving it an unfair advantage.” But a key legal obstacle the courts would have to consider is the fact that Google’s ad group doesn’t function as a stand alone business, but is made up of Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google Ad Manager.

Read more …

Julie K. Brown at the Miami herald is back. Worse than any fantasy, or book, or movie.

Judge In Epstein Grand Jury Case Has Ties To People Involved (Julie K. Brown)

The Palm Beach judge who has thus far refused to release grand jury records in the Jeffrey Epstein case has both professional and family ties to three of the politicians who have a stake in keeping those records secret, the Miami Herald has learned. Krista Marx, the Palm Beach chief judge who also heads a panel that polices judicial conduct, has potential conflicts of interest involving three prominent players embroiled in the Epstein sex-trafficking saga: State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who has been sued by the Palm Beach Post to release the grand jury records; Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, whose department’s favored treatment of Epstein while he was in the Palm Beach County jail is part of an ongoing state criminal investigation; and ex-State Attorney Barry Krischer, part of the same investigation in connection with his decision not to prosecute Epstein on child-sex charges.

Special prosecutors appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis went to court in January to unseal records of Krischer’s secret 2006 state grand jury presentment in the case. Prosecutors wanted to examine whether Krischer’s office told the panel the full scope of Epstein’s crimes, or whether state prosecutors kept key evidence from the grand jury. The grand jury returned a minor charge of solicitation of prostitution against Epstein, who later managed to negotiate a lenient plea deal, resulting in him serving 13 months in the Palm Beach County Jail, much of at his lavish office in West Palm Beach, thanks to generous work-release provisions.

Last year, following a series of stories in the Miami Herald detailing the machinations behind Epstein’s plea deal, DeSantis ordered a state criminal probe focusing on Krischer’s decision not to prosecute and on Bradshaw’s role in helping Epstein maintain an opulent lifestyle — including having sex with women — while subject to sheriff’s custody on sex charges. But Marx in January rejected the criminal prosecutors’ effort to unseal the grand jury records, calling it a “fishing expedition.’’ Then on Wednesday, she rebuffed a similar request by attorneys representing the Post, who sued Aronberg, and the county clerk, Sharon Bock, for release of the records.

Marx was dismissive of the Post’s lawsuit against Aronberg, who has denied he has custody of the grand jury records; and Bock, who has custody of the records but won’t release them without a court order. Marx, however, did not disclose from the bench that Krischer was her former boss, that her daughter works for Aronberg as an assistant state attorney and that her son works for Bradshaw as a sheriff’s deputy. Marx’s husband, Palm Beach County Judge Joe Marx, has a disclosure on his county web page stating he would recuse himself from any cases that involve his two stepchildren. Krista Marx’s county web page does not have such a disclosure.

Read more …

 

 

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Jun 042020
 


G. G. Bain On beach near Casino, Asbury Park 1911

 

Malaria Drug Touted By Trump Fails To Prevent COVID19 In High Profile Study (R.)
Big HCQ Study the Media Went Nuts Over Turned Out to Be a Scam (RS)
Concerns Mount Over Study Attacking Hydroxychloroquine (JTN)
WHO Set To Resume Hydroxychloroquine Trial In Battle Against COVID19 (R.)
Brazil Sets Record For Daily Coronavirus Deaths, Beating Tuesday (R.)
US Airlines Gain Final Approval To Drop Services To 75 Domestic Airports (R.)
Qantas To Boost Domestic Capacity To 15% Of Normal By End Of June (R.)
What Will it Take to Save the Airlines? (Horan)
Protest Disrupts Hong Kong Legislative Debate Over China Anthem Bill (R.)
HSBC Breaks Silence And Backs National Security Law For Hong Kong (SCMP)
Rosenstein Points Clear Finger At FBI (JTN)
Rosenstein: Trump Did Not Commit ‘A Crime That Warrants Prosecution’ (JTN)
With US In Crisis, Germany Reluctant To Be ‘Leader Of The Free World’ (SCMP)
Nation Feigns Surprise At Government Handout To Rich Homeowners (Chaser)

 

 

Worldometer puts global new cases in past 24 hrs at + 121,413. I counted under 80K yesterday, using their numbers.

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 20,578
• Brazil + 28,663
• Russia + 8,536
• India + 9,572
• Chile + 4,942
• Pakistan + 4,801

 

 

The UK had more COVID19 deaths yesterday than the 27 EU countries combined.

 

 

 

Cases 6,596,501 (+ 122,212 from Saturday’s 6,474,289)

Deaths 388,421 (+ 5,507 from Saturday’s 382,914)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

This just goes on. WIth one study fully discredited, they seamlessly switch to the next. This time HCQ doesn’t kill, but it’s “ineffective”. Ineffective in what? In preventing infection. Only, no-one ever said it would do that. HCQ and zinc combine to prevent the virus, once you are infected, from doing further and grave damage to your body.

That’s all. When used for malaria, the idea never was that HCQ could prevent infection either. Instead, it helps the body fight the pathogen.

Oh, and if you’re Reuters and you think that after all the articles about HCQ, you still must put “Malaria Drug Touted By Trump” in your headline, I’d say you have a very big bias issue.

Malaria Drug Touted By Trump Fails To Prevent COVID19 In High Profile Study (R.)

The malaria drug promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19 was ineffective in preventing infection in people exposed to the coronavirus, according to a widely anticipated clinical trial released on Wednesday. The new trial found no serious side effects or heart problems from use of hydroxychloroquine. Vocal support from Trump kicked off a heated debate and raised expectations for the decades-old drug that could be a cheap and widely available tool in fighting the pandemic that has infected more than 6.4 million people and killed over 382,000 worldwide. In the first major study comparing hydroxychloroquine to a placebo to gauge its effect against the new coronavirus, University of Minnesota researchers tested 821 people who had recently been exposed to the virus or lived in a high-risk household.


It found 11.8% of subjects given hydroxychloroquine developed symptoms compatible with COVID-19, compared with 14.3% who got a placebo. That difference was not statistically significant, meaning the drug was no better than placebo. “Our data is pretty clear that for post exposure, this does not really work,” said Dr. David Boulware, the trial’s lead researcher and an infectious disease physician at the University of Minnesota. Several trials of the drug have been stopped over concerns about its safety for treating COVID-19 that were raised by health regulators and previous less rigorous studies. “I think both sides – one side who is saying ‘this is a dangerous drug’ and the other side that says ‘this works’ – neither is correct,” said Boulware.

Read more …

“How many people who might have been helped by the drug, if used properly early in the process, might be alive had countries and doctors not been so discouraged from using it?”

Big HCQ Study the Media Went Nuts Over Turned Out to Be a Scam (RS)

Hydroxychloroquine is back in the news today after a major study, which was widely touted by the media a few weeks ago, has turned out to be a scam. The study was also used to change coronavirus treatment policies by the World Health Organization. Now, we are learning that that the company that supposedly did the study, and has helped push others, is a front company of some kind. Further, the person who put the data together is not a scientist, but a science fiction author. The studies produced by this company were published by Lancet, a renowned medical journal, and used as evidence to attack Donald Trump with.

Lancet has now issued an “expression of concern,” demanding that the company provide details on their data and methodology. Given what’s already been revealed, you’d think they’d just disown the studies altogether, but I suspect they want to save face. While these studies being frauds is bad, what’s worse is that the media took their message far and wide, literally painting hydroxychloroquine as some kind of death sentence. How many people who might have been helped by the drug, if used properly early in the process, might be alive had countries and doctors not been so discouraged from using it? We may never know the answer to that, though the usual suspects continue to dig in behind their narrative.


This does provide some notion to how flawed the medical journal system is. Why would something like this be published and used to make life and death decisions when Lancet wasn’t even aware of their methodology? It seems rather insane on it’s face.

Read more …

Time to seriously investigate Surgisphere, who funds it?, and while you’re at it, look at how the Lancet dumped its own standards when it published this. The suggestion that a scifi writer and an adult content provider are behind Surgisphere are a bonus.

Concerns Mount Over Study Attacking Hydroxychloroquine (JTN)

Two major medical journals have issued alerts that recent scientific data regarding the drug hydroxychloroquine may have significant flaws, with the two journals claiming “substantive concerns” and “significant scientific questions” have been raised regarding the validity of the cited information. A study published on May 22 in the journal The Lancet by medical data analytics company Surgisphere determined that hydroxychloroquine — a drug repeatedly touted by President Trump as a possible viable treatment for the coronavirus — was “associated with an increased risk of in-hospital mortality” when given to COVID-19 patients. A total of 9,273 patients in the study received some form of hydroxychloroquine treatment. Patients given that drug, the study concluded, are also more likely to experience “de-novo ventricular arrhythmia,” a condition in which the heart beats irregularly.

Those conclusions so alarmed the World Health Organization that it announced at the end of last month that it would be pausing its own hydroxychloroquine trials “while the data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.” Barely a week after that announcement, serious questions are beginning to arise surrounding the study by Surgisphere. The World Health Organization has since resumed its hydroxychloroquine trials. The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, meanwhile, have both signaled concerns over Surgisphere’s data and analytical methods. A breakdown of the alleged problems surrounding the Surgisphere study — as well as questions regarding the company itself — was published late last month by medical student James Todaro at his website “Medicine (Un)Censored,” an aggregator of COVID-19 news that heavily touts the purported benefits of hydroxychloroquine in treating the disease.


Todaro wrote on the website that the Surgisphere study had numerous data issues, including overcounting COVID-19 deaths on the Australian continent as well as the study’s claim that it included in its dataset nearly every single hospitalized COVID-19 patient in North America. The study also “reports patient data from Africa that requires sophisticated patient monitoring technology and electronic medical record systems,” factors Todaro clams are unlikely to be present in sufficiently high numbers in many African hospitals.

Read more …

The WHO is an empty facade.

WHO Set To Resume Hydroxychloroquine Trial In Battle Against COVID19 (R.)

The World Health Organization will resume its trial of hydroxychloroquine for potential use against the coronavirus, its chief said on Wednesday, after those running the study briefly stopped giving it to new patients over health concerns. The U.N. agency last month paused the part of its large study of treatments against COVID-19 in which newly enrolled patients were getting the anti-malarial drug to treat COVID-19 due to fears it increased death rates and irregular heartbeats. The study continued with other medicines. But the WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said its experts had advised the continuation of all trials including hydroxychloroquine, whose highest-profile backer for use against the coronavirus is U.S. President Donald Trump.


“The executive group will communicate with the principal investigators in the trial about resuming the hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial,” Tedros told an online media briefing, referring to WHO’s initiative to hold clinical tests of potential COVID-19 treatments on some 3,500 patients in 35 countries. The WHO’s decision to suspend its trial prompted others to follow suit, including Sanofi, which said on May 29 it was suspending recruitment for its trials. A Sanofi spokesman said the company would review available information and run consultations in the coming days to reassess its position following the WHO’s latest decision on Wednesday. The WHO’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, called for other trials of the drug to proceed. “We owe it to patients to have a definitive answer on whether or not a drug works,” she said, adding that safety monitoring should also continue.

Read more …

Hoe much longer for Bolsonaro?

Brazil Sets Record For Daily Coronavirus Deaths, Beating Tuesday (R.)

Brazil registered a record number of daily deaths from the coronavirus for the second consecutive day, according to Health Ministry data released on Wednesday. The nation recorded 1,349 new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, and 28,633 additional confirmed cases, the data showed. Brazil has now registered 32,548 deaths and 584,016 total confirmed cases.

Read more …

As the country opens up, airlines cut flights. But of course.

US Airlines Gain Final Approval To Drop Services To 75 Domestic Airports (R.)

Fifteen U.S. airlines were granted final government approval on Wednesday to temporarily halt service to 75 domestic airports as travel demand has been crushed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Transportation Department said all airports would continue to be served by at least one air carrier. Despite some objections to a tentative list made public on May 22, the government did not make any changes.The U.S. airline industry has been awarded $25 billion in government payroll assistance grants to help weather the pandemic. While carriers must maintain minimum service levels to receive the assistance, many petitioned to stop service to airports with low passenger demand. The department has previously allowed some airlines to halt service to some airports and rejected other requests.


Both United Airlines and Delta Air Lines won approval to halt flights to 11 airports. Allegiant Air was allowed to halt service to six airports, while JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines gained approval to stop flights to five airports each. U.S. air carriers have said they are collectively burning through more than $10 billion in cash a month as travel demand remains a fraction of prior levels. They have parked more than half of their planes and cut thousands of flights. Cities that Delta can halt service to include Aspen, Colorado; Bangor, Maine; Santa Barbara, California and Flint, Michigan. United can halt service to airports including Chattanooga, Tennessee; Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as well as Key West, Florida.

Read more …

The 15% is a good indication of how long of a battle this will be.

Qantas To Boost Domestic Capacity To 15% Of Normal By End Of June (R.)

Australia’s Qantas Airways and Air New Zealand on Thursday outlined plans for significant boosts to domestic capacity as pandemic-related travel restrictions ease, sending their shares higher. Qantas said it would lift domestic capacity to 15% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of June, up from 5% now. The airline said more flights are likely in July depending on travel demand and further opening of state borders, with the ability to increase to up to 40% of pre-crisis capacity by the end of July. Air New Zealand said it would raise domestic capacity to 55% of normal levels during July and August, up from 20% after a strict nationwide lockdown was lifted in May.


Qantas shares were trading 5% higher at 0240 GMT, while Air New Zealand shares were up 4.8%. Australia and New Zealand have both reported few new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said there was pent-up demand for domestic air travel. “We are already seeing a big increase in customers booking and planning flights in the weeks and months ahead,” he said in a statement.

Read more …

Hubert Horan has 40 years of experience in the management and regulation of transportation companies (primarily airlines). Horan currently has no financial links with any airlines or other industry participants

What Will it Take to Save the Airlines? (Horan)

Coronavirus has created the greatest challenge the airline industry has ever faced. For the large legacy carriers serving intercontinental markets, the threat is comparable to the meteor that caused massive climate change and drove dinosaurs into extinction. While the industry was clearly viable prior to coronavirus, it faced a number of serious competitive and financial issues that will impede efforts to deal with the impact of the coronavirus meteor. The industry requires major, painful restructuring. Baring staggering increases in taxpayer subsidies (beyond the $60 billion already pledged in the US), it is unclear how most (perhaps any) of these carriers survive under current ownership in anything like their current form. None of the needed changes are even being discussed within the industry at this point, and the processes needed to manage the needed restructuring do not currently exist.

Airline economics depend critically on extremely high capacity utilization. Small changes have huge profit leverage. US airlines filled 85% of their seats in 2019 (up from 58% when the industry was deregulated and 70% 20 years ago). Once an airline has committed to the costs of operating a given schedule, almost all of the lost revenue from a shortfall of passengers directly reduces the bottom line. Coronavirus-driven traffic losses have been vastly larger than anyone could have ever imagined. Traffic through TSA checkpoints in US airports was down 96% versus the year before in mid April and 88% in mid-May. While the industry had faced demand shocks in the past (9/11 in the US, various wars, the original SARS outbreak in Asia), none were global in scope, and none were seen as driving permanent declines in demand. Never before has flying on an airplane required accepting serious medical risk.


In a recent poll only 23% of US travelers thought flying on an airplane was safe. While no one knows what will happen, this analysis assumes that there is no widely available vaccine and no reliable way to prove individual immunity during 2020. Perhaps infection rates decline gradually and economic activity gradually increases. Perhaps there are new outbreaks and efforts to reopen the economy are put on hold. Perhaps economic activity declines seriously as companies realize that recent losses are unsustainable, and major new waves of layoffs and bankruptcies occur. But the idea of a rapid, “V-shaped” recovery to the January status quo seems wildly improbable.

Read more …

No Tiananmen square commemoration, but a vote over a bill that would criminalise disrespect of China’s national anthem. Happy days. [UPDATE: the law passed].

Protest Disrupts Hong Kong Legislative Debate Over China Anthem Bill (R.)

Police and firefighters entered Hong Kong’s legislature on Thursday after two pro-democracy lawmakers threw foul-smelling liquid to protest against China’s “murderous” crackdown by Chinese troops in and around Tiananmen Square 31 years ago. Lawmakers Eddie Chu and Ray Chan rushed to the front of the chamber during a debate over a controversial bill that would criminalise disrespect of China’s national anthem, splashing the reeking fluid as guards grappled with them. Police and firefighters later arrived on the scene. “A murderous state stinks forever. What we did today is to remind the world that we should never forgive the Chinese Communist Party for killing its own people 31 years ago,” Chu said later, before he and Chan were removed from the chamber.


A final vote on the bill is expected later on Thursday with people in Hong Kong set to commemorate the bloody 1989 crackdown by lighting candles across the city. For the first time, police have banned an annual vigil to mark the event that is usually held in downtown Victoria Park, citing the coronavirus outbreak. The disruption in the legislature came after pro-establishment lawmakers vetoed most amendments to the anthem bill proposed by democrats. If passed, the bill could punish those who insult the anthem with up to three years jail and/or fines of up to HK$50,000 ($6,450). It states that “all individuals and organisations” should respect and dignify the national anthem and play it and sing it on “appropriate occasions”.

Read more …

You know the oddest thing about this? HSBC backs a law without knowing what’s in it. Not only hasn’t it been released yet, it’s still being drafted.

This is the biggest bank in Europe. Maybe it should no longer be.

HSBC Breaks Silence And Backs National Security Law For Hong Kong (SCMP)

HSBC has broken its silence and offered its support for the national security law that Beijing is drafting for Hong Kong, days after a former city chief who is now a state leader criticised the banking giant for not making its stance on the legislation clear. It posted an article on HSBC China’s WeChat account on Wednesday, with the headline saying the group’s Asia-Pacific CEO had signed a petition supporting the new law. The article noted that the Hong Kong Association of Banks had already issued a statement saying the law would contribute to a stable business environment and raise investor confidence in the city.


“As a key member of the association, HSBC reiterates that under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, it respects and supports all laws that stabilise Hong Kong’s social order and boost the economy to develop prosperously,” it said, referring to the framework under which Beijing governs the city. The HSBC group is headquartered in London. It is the biggest bank in Hong Kong and Europe and is dual-listed in the city and London. China’s top legislature, the National People’s Congress, announced on May 21 that its standing committee would draft a tailor-made national security law for Hong Kong. The law is likely to be passed by August, with Beijing identifying it as a necessity amid anti-government protest violence and perceived external interference. It aims to prevent, stop and punish secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong, but opposition politicians and critics warn it could be used to suppress dissent and erode long-standing freedoms.

Read more …

The Senate questioning is not the main dish. But it’s an okay starter. Let’s see them squirm and turn on each other.

Rosenstein Points Clear Finger At FBI (JTN)

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made clear in his Senate testimony he is no Harry Truman or Janet Reno, two larger-than-life Washington figures from yesteryear who embraced the idea that no matter what went wrong on their watch the bucks stops at the top. During three-plus hours of uncomfortable interrogation by Republicans and Democrats alike, Rosenstein repeatedly tried to blame others – the FBI and its former deputy director Andrew McCabe often – for failures in a Russia probe he personally supervised. Rosenstein testified he would not have signed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting Trump adviser Carter Page for a fourth time in summer 2017 if the FBI had just told him about exculpatory evidence.

He acknowledged the Robert Mueller special counsel probe went on for 18 more months after the FBI knew, by August 2017, that there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. And he claimed the FBI kept him in the dark about the fact that its field agents had recommended closing down an investigation of Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn all the way back in January 2017. McCabe, the former deputy director and acting director of the FBI, “was not fully candid with me,” Rosenstein said in explaining how he could be so in the dark on so many critical Russia probe issues. Rosenstein’s performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday frustrated many of the committee’s members.


“He acted like he wasn’t responsible and, you know, that it was somebody else’s responsibility to verify these facts,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said on Fox News after the testimony. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took Rosenstein to task during the middle of the hearing. “You came into a profoundly politicized world and yet, all of this was allowed to go forward under your leadership,” Cruz said. “That, unfortunately, leads to only two possible conclusions—either you were complicit in the wrongdoing, which I don’t believe was the case, or that your performance of your duties was grossly negligent.” Rosenstein could only muster this in response: “You always wish you could have done more.”

https://twitter.com/i/status/1268238790184894466

Read more …

Question is: did Rosenstein?

Rosenstein: Trump Did Not Commit ‘A Crime That Warrants Prosecution’ (JTN)

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing about the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and denied that he has ever suggested removing President Trump from office using the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “I did not suggest or hint at secretly recording President Trump,” Rosenstein also said during questioning from Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono. The Hawaiian senator blasted the hearing as a ploy to bolster President Trump’s “conspiracy theories and to help the president’s reelection” and said that it “wastes this committee’s time.”

Hirono asked Rosenstein if he concurred with Attorney General Barr’s statement in a letter to Congress, in which Barr wrote that, “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.” “Did Attorney General Barr accurately present your view regarding the obstruction of justice?” Hirono asked.


“Senator I do not believe that the evidence collected by the special counsel warrants prosecution of the president, that is correct,” Rosenstein replied. The senator pressed the issue of the letter again and asked Rosenstein if he concurred “that there was no obstruction of justice involved?” Rosenstein responded to the senator, reiterating his previous response: “Yes, I do not believe that the president committed a crime that warrants prosecution. And that’s the issue that we review as prosecutors.”

Read more …

People read this as if it’s something serious. But the US hasn’t led the world in many decades. The leader of the free world doesn’t bomb Syria, Libya, Iraq.

With US In Crisis, Germany Reluctant To Be ‘Leader Of The Free World’ (SCMP)

Germans have long viewed the United States as a protector of human rights and democracy around the globe, the undisputed leader of the free world. But many have recoiled in horror at America’s chaos in the last week since the killing of black man George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, which US president Donald Trump threatened to end with military force. The demonstrations have resonated in Germany, a deeply pacifist nation for which military force is anathema. Thousands have protested in front of the US embassy in Berlin and elsewhere, as demonstrations against racism and US police brutality spread in other countries including Britain, France and Australia.

The eruption of violence across the United States, coupled with the disorder in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic there, has fed into angst in Berlin and other capitals that the United States has lost its way and could be inexorably abdicating its status as leader of the free world. That could create an ominous vacuum that neither Germany nor the European Union is equipped to handle or eager to fill. “Germany is not the leader of the free world,” Juergen Hardt, the head of foreign policy affairs in parliament for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, told South China Morning Post, flatly making clear that Europe’s leading nation has no such aspirations.


“There are certainly signs that America is losing the unity and virtues that long made it so strong,” the close Merkel ally and unabashed supporter of tight and trusted transatlantic relations added with a heavy heart. “The whole world always had the faith that America could resolve its issues in the end. You always had a sense that they’d figure it out at some point. That’s why there’s always been such enormous confidence in the United States. There are doubts growing about that now.”

Read more …

“The news has come as a great surprise to Liberal Minister Peter Dutton, who had completely forgotten he owned nine houses when he helped make the decision. ”

Nation Feigns Surprise At Government Handout To Rich Homeowners (Chaser)

The nation has put on its best surprised face today, upon learning that the Liberal government has chosen to give the next round of stimulus money to rich homeowners, in order to help them increase the values on their properties. “Wow never saw that coming,” sighed one Australian today. “I’ve always said the one industry that really needs propping up in this country is the housing market. Absolutely nobody there is getting rich off that already. Glad we could give those battlers a hand up.” The news has come as a great surprise to Liberal Minister Peter Dutton, who had completely forgotten he owned nine houses when he helped make the decision.


“Gosh, the government wants to give thousands of dollars to me, a struggling home owner?” blushed Dutton. “Why this is even better than that handout to child care owners a few months back, which coincidentally also benefited me. Good golly, what are the odds.” Asked what they had planned for the thousands of entertainment industry and tourism industry workers who were currently now entering their third month of unemployment, the government said they already had plans underway to retrain them as real estate agents, to help boost the country’s much more needy housing industry.

Read more …

 

 

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History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.

– Seamus Heaney

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jun 032020
 


DPC ‘On the beach, Palm Beach’ 1905

 

New Zealand Could Return To Normal Life As Early As Next Week (R.)
Coronavirus May Be a Blood Vessel Disease, Which Explains Everything (M.)
Charting Sweden’s Disastrous No-Lockdown Strategy (Ind.)
Brazil Sets Another Record For Daily Coronavirus Deaths (R.)
Greece Suspends Qatar Flights After 12 On One Plane Test Positive (K.)
Handheld High-Intensity UV Lamp Could Kill Coronavirus Once And For All (RT)
Lancet Issues Major Disclaimer On Anti-HCQ Study (ZH)
The Great Unequalizer (El-Erian/Spence)
Food Bank Parcels For Scottish Children ‘At Record High’ (BBC)
What The Flynn Transcripts Do Not Contain: A Crime (Turley)
The 10 Most Important Questions For Rod Rosenstein (Solomon)
Jerry Nadler Moves To Cut Bill Barr’s Budget By $50 Million (R.)
Will Italy Be The Next Country To Leave the EU? (Antonopoulos)
Where Did Policing Go Wrong? (Taibbi)
Police Didn’t Spend Millions On Tank Just To Let Protests Stay Peaceful (Onion)

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 21,608
• Brazil + 28,832
• Russia + 8,952
• India + 8,272
• Peru + 4,845
• Pakistan + 4,065

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number of cases seems extremely low at less than 80K vs well over 100K for the past week.

Cases 6,474,289 (+ 79,973 from Saturday’s 6,394,316)

Deaths 382,914 (+ 4,948 from Saturday’s 377,966)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

While 99% of the rest of the world stumbles on with no end in sight.

New Zealand Could Return To Normal Life As Early As Next Week (R.)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday she could lift all social distancing measures to return the country to normal life, bar the international border closure, as early as next week. Ardern will decide on Monday whether the country is ready to shift to alert level 1, more than two months after she imposed a strict level 4 lockdown, shutting most businesses and forcing people to stay home, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Arden said waiting until Monday would allow her to see if recent changes, like the removal of restrictions on the number of people in bars and at social gatherings, had led to a rise in cases. “If it hasn’t, then we will be in a good position to move,” she said during a televised news conference.


Under level 1 there is no requirement for physical distancing or limits on the number of people allowed in places like bars, clubs, churches, and sports venues, she said. However, there would be one major change from pre-pandemic normality, with no immediate plans to reopen New Zealand’s border. New Zealand recorded no new cases of coronavirus for a 12th consecutive day on Wednesday and has just one active case. Ardern’s decision to swiftly impose one of the harshest lockdowns in the world has been credited with constraining the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand, which has reported a total of 1,504 cases and 22 deaths.

Read more …

Nothing explains everything, but the angle remains interesting.

Coronavirus May Be a Blood Vessel Disease, Which Explains Everything (M.)

In April, blood clots emerged as one of the many mysterious symptoms attributed to Covid-19, a disease that had initially been thought to largely affect the lungs in the form of pneumonia. Quickly after came reports of young people dying due to coronavirus-related strokes. Next it was Covid toes — painful red or purple digits. What do all of these symptoms have in common? An impairment in blood circulation. Add in the fact that 40% of deaths from Covid-19 are related to cardiovascular complications, and the disease starts to look like a vascular infection instead of a purely respiratory one. Months into the pandemic, there is now a growing body of evidence to support the theory that the novel coronavirus can infect blood vessels, which could explain not only the high prevalence of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks, but also provide an answer for the diverse set of head-to-toe symptoms that have emerged.

“All these Covid-associated complications were a mystery. We see blood clotting, we see kidney damage, we see inflammation of the heart, we see stroke, we see encephalitis [swelling of the brain],” says William Li, MD, president of the Angiogenesis Foundation. “A whole myriad of seemingly unconnected phenomena that you do not normally see with SARS or H1N1 or, frankly, most infectious diseases.” “If you start to put all of the data together that’s emerging, it turns out that this virus is probably a vasculotropic virus, meaning that it affects the [blood vessels],” says Mandeep Mehra, MD, medical director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Center.

In a paper published in April in the scientific journal The Lancet, Mehra and a team of scientists discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can infect the endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels. Endothelial cells protect the cardiovascular system, and they release proteins that influence everything from blood clotting to the immune response. In the paper, the scientists showed damage to endothelial cells in the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and intestines in people with Covid-19. “The concept that’s emerging is that this is not a respiratory illness alone, this is a respiratory illness to start with, but it is actually a vascular illness that kills people through its involvement of the vasculature,” says Mehra.

SARS-CoV-2 is thought to enter the body through ACE2 receptors present on the surface of cells that line the respiratory tract in the nose and throat. Once in the lungs, the virus appears to move from the alveoli, the air sacs in the lung, into the blood vessels, which are also rich in ACE2 receptors. “[The virus] enters the lung, it destroys the lung tissue, and people start coughing. The destruction of the lung tissue breaks open some blood vessels,” Mehra explains. “Then it starts to infect endothelial cell after endothelial cell, creates a local immune response, and inflames the endothelium.”

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“The rolling seven-day average for new confirmed deaths per million people in Sweden is now nearly twice that of the US..”

Charting Sweden’s Disastrous No-Lockdown Strategy (Ind.)

Sweden has taken the ignominious title of the country with the world’s highest death rate from Covid-19. The title, which was was briefly held by the UK late last month, comes after Swedish officials decided to ignore the lockdown advice of countless health experts and kept the country largely open during the pandemic. The number of deaths per capita in Sweden is now more than four-times that of its Nordic neighbours. And while its death toll of around 4,500 is a fraction of other badly affected countries like the US (105,000) and the UK (38,000), it is the death rate that reveals the true impact of Sweden’s no-lockdown approach. The rolling seven-day average for new confirmed deaths per million people in Sweden is now nearly twice that of the US, and more than five-times that of France, which had the highest death rate in the world in April.

France imposed a strict lockdown, similar to those of Italy and Spain, in an attempt to contain severe outbreaks of the deadly virus. These lockdowns have proven to be an extremely effective strategy in the fight against coronavirus, with death rates dropping drastically in all of the countries that imposed them. Countries that pre-empted large-scale outbreaks with early lockdowns, such as New Zealand, appear to have almost entirely eliminated the virus.

Yet while social distancing, PPE advice and other containment measures have helped slow the spread in Sweden, a lack of lockdown means the country’s infection rate shows no sign of falling. When Sweden is compared to other Nordic countries, the scale of the country’s coronavirus crisis seems even more pronounced.

Sweden’s hope has been to achieve herd immunity, whereby enough of the population has been infected that coronavirus can no longer spread widely. Yet studies in May suggest that Sweden is nowhere near the threshold needed to realise this. Experts claim that at least 60 per cent of the population would need to have Covid-19 antibodies before herd immunity is reached. The government had hoped for 20 per cent immunity by the end of May, but instead only 7.3 per cent have it. This is lower than most countries that enforced lockdowns, including the UK and US, yet with still no lockdown in place, the full impact for Sweden may still a long way from being realised.

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Rockin’ on.

Brazil Sets Another Record For Daily Coronavirus Deaths (R.)

Brazil registered another record number of novel coronavirus deaths over the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Tuesday evening, as the pandemic in Latin America’s largest country shows no signs of slowing down. The nation registered 28,936 additional cases of the novel coronavirus, the ministry said, and 1,262 deaths. There are now 555,383 total confirmed coronavirus cases in Brazil and 31,199 coronavirus deaths. The fresh record comes as some Brazilian leaders, including right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, continue to belittle the virus, warning that the economic fallout from quarantine measures will be worse than the virus itself.


“We lament all deaths, but it’s everyone’s destiny,” Bolsonaro said in front of the presidential residence in Brasilia earlier on Tuesday. Even in states and cities where leaders had previously instituted lockdown orders, authorities have been rapidly loosening restrictions in recent days, despite the number of daily new cases continuing to grow in most regions.

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I don’t get why they let them in in the first place. Qatar entered the top 20 of most cases/infections over the past few days, with over 60,000 cases. Thing is, only 2.8 million people live there. For the US, with 117x more people, that would come down to over 7 million cases. Granted, Qatar reports only 43 total deaths. But how credible is that?

Greece Suspends Qatar Flights After 12 On One Plane Test Positive (K.)

Greece on Tuesday announced they were suspending flights to and from Qatar until mid-June, after 12 out of 91 passengers in a Qatar Airways flight that landed in Athens on Monday tested positive for the coronavirus. Nine of the infected passengers are Pakistani nationals, coming from the city of Gujrat, who have a Greek residence permit, two are Greek nationals coming from Australia and one person is a Japanese national and member of a Greek-Japanese family, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection said in a press release.


All passengers in the flight from Doha to Athens’ International Airport were tested and quarantined in hotels until they got their results back, in line with the current health protocols. Those infected will remain in the hotels for two weeks, while those who tested negative will have to stay for seven days as they are considered close high and low risk contacts, the authority said. Health officers will repeat the tests on the passengers who tested negative after a week.


Timeline of Greece measures

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As billions are thrown at everything everywhere, these people have an entire $90,000 in seed funding.

Handheld High-Intensity UV Lamp Could Kill Coronavirus Once And For All (RT)

We may have a powerful new weapon in the war against Covid-19, as a scientific breakthrough has paved the way for personal, handheld devices that emit high-intensity ultraviolet (UV) light capable of killing the coronavirus. Chemical or UV exposure are the most common methods of sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces from bacteria and viruses. In the latter case, there need to be sufficiently high levels of UV radiation – 200 to 300 nanometers – to kill the unwanted bugs. Such devices do exist at present, but are prohibitively expensive, use discharge lamps that contain mercury, are bulky and short-lived, and require a large amount of power to function. Not exactly ideal for scaling up to rid the world of Covid-19.

However, using theoretical modeling of a range of materials, researchers at Penn State, the University of Minnesota and two Japanese universities believe they have found the holy grail of transparent conductors, which could allow for cheap, easy-to-produce LEDs that emit UV light at a high enough intensity to kill coronavirus. Computer, smartphone and lighting manufacturers have often grappled with finding transparent electrode materials that function in the visible light spectrum, let alone the ultraviolet spectrum. But the researchers have settled on a substance called strontium niobate as the potential game-changer material.

“While our first motivation in developing UV transparent conductors was to build an economic solution for water disinfection, we now realize that this breakthrough discovery potentially offers a solution to deactivate Covid-19 in aerosols that might be distributed in the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems of buildings,” one of the researchers, Joseph Roth, a doctoral candidate in materials science and engineering at Penn State, explains. The researchers have secured $90,000 in seed funding to determine the ‘Goldilocks zone’ for UV intensity and exposure time to eradicate airborne viruses.

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The Lancet looks unprofessional.

Lancet Issues Major Disclaimer On Anti-HCQ Study (ZH)

The Lancet has issued a major disclaimer regarding a study which prompted the World Health Organization to halt global trials of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), an anti-Malaria drug currently being used around the world to treat COVID-19. As we noted last week, major data discrepancies have called the entire study into question – though the lead author says it does not change the study’s findings that patients who received HCQ died at higher rates and experienced more cardiac complications than without. Until the data has been audited, The Lancet issued the following “expression of concern” regarding the study.


“Important scientific questions have been raised about data reported in the paper by Mandeep Mehra et al,” reads the “expression of concern” from The Lancet. “Although an independent audit of the provenance and validity of the data has been commissioned by the authors not affiliated with Surgisphere and is ongoing, with results expected very shortly, we are issuing an Expression of Concern to alert readers to the fact that serious scientific questions have been brought to our attention. We will update this notice as soon as we have further information.” -The Lancet

Of course, this is yet more evidence of the manufactured disinformation surrounding HCQ that Richard Moss, MD, (via AmericanThinker.com) exposes below… I took hydroxychloroquine for two years. A long time ago as a visiting cancer surgeon in Asia, in Thailand, Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. From 1987 to 1990. Malaria is rife there. I took it for prophylaxis, 400 milligrams once a week for two years. Never had any trouble. It was inexpensive and effective. [..] Chloroquine, the precursor of HCQ, was invented by Bayer in 1934. Hydroxychloroquine was developed during World War II as a safer, synthetic alternative and approved for medical use in the U.S. in 1955.


The World Health Organization considers it an essential medicine, among the safest and most effective medicines, a staple of any healthcare system. In 2017, US doctors prescribed it 5 million times, the 128th most commonly prescribed drug in the country. There have been hundreds of millions of prescriptions worldwide since its inception. It is one of the cheapest and best drugs in the world and has saved millions of lives. Doctors also prescribe it for Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis patients who may consume it for their lifetimes with few or no ill effects. Then something happened to this wonder drug.

[..] It began when President Trump discussed it as a possible treatment for COVID-19 on March 19, 2020. The gates of hell burst forth on May 18 when Trump casually announced that he was taking it, prescribed by his physician. Attacks on Trump and this otherwise harmless little molecule poured in. The heretofore respected, commonly used, and highly effective medicinal became a major threat to life, a nefarious and wicked chemical that could alter critical heart rhythms, resulting in sudden cataclysmic death for unsuspecting innocents. Trump, more than irresponsible, was evil incarnate for daring to even mention it. While at it, the salivating media trotted out the canard about Trump’s nonrecommendation for injecting Clorox and Lysol or drinking fish-tank cleaner to combat COVID. It was Charlottesville all over again.


[..] the media agonized over, of all things, the prolongation of the now infamous “QT interval,” and the risk of sudden cardiac death. The FDA and NIH piled on, piously demanding randomized, controlled, double-blind studies before physicians prescribed HCQ. No one mentioned that the risk of cardiac arrest was far higher from watching the Superbowl. Nor did the media declare that HCQ and chloroquine have been used throughout the world for half a century, making them among the most widely prescribed drugs in history with not a single reported case of “arrhythmic death” according to the sainted WHO and the American College of Cardiology.

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When the rich warn about society.

The Great Unequalizer (El-Erian/Spence)

As parts of the United States begin to open up after months of coronavirus lockdown, hope is rising that some semblance of economic normalcy could be on the near-term horizon. That hope could still be dashed by lingering health, business, and consumer uncertainties, any of which could slow recovery. But for the least fortunate segments of the population, more economic pain is a virtual certainty. Far from the “great equalizer” that some initially dubbed the pandemic, COVID-19 has walloped the U.S. economy in a way that exacerbated inequalities in income, wealth, and opportunity. Absent a timely policy response, this negative trend could begin to reinforce itself, as one debilitating setback for the disadvantaged increases the odds of another.

The data are stark and alarming, and they will get worse before they get better. GDP is set to contract by 30 percent or more this quarter. More than 40 million workers, or roughly a quarter of the U.S. labor force, have filed jobless claims in the last three months. The unemployment rate is likely to approach—and could even exceed—the 25 percent record set during the Great Depression. And all this despite an enormous fiscal and monetary policy relief effort that cost nearly $6 trillion, or 28 percent of U.S. GDP in 2019. The distributional features of the job and income losses are even more concerning. According to a recent survey by the Federal Reserve, 39 percent of workers in households with annual incomes below $40,000 have been laid off or furloughed.

Women have been hit especially hard, as have minorities: of the 20.5 million jobs that vanished in April, 55 percent belonged to women, pushing the unemployment rate for women to 15 percent and the rate for African American women and Hispanic women to 16.4 percent and 20.2 percent, respectively. There is no question that the pandemic has been an unequal opportunity unemployer. Those whose jobs have withstood the shock of COVID-19 are disproportionately in relatively high-paying professions that can accommodate work-from-home arrangements. According to researchers at the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute, roughly one-third of U.S. jobs can be done remotely, but there are enormous discrepancies by sector—discrepancies that widen further when adjusted for earnings. Whereas 76 percent of (mostly well-paid) finance and insurance jobs can be done from home, for example, the same is true for just three percent of (mostly low-paid) food and service sector jobs.

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The effects of the unequalizer.

Food Bank Parcels For Scottish Children ‘At Record High’ (BBC)

Food banks in Scotland say they have recorded the largest ever increase in emergency food parcels going to children during the pandemic. The Trussell Trust – which runs 83% of the country’s network – reported total deliveries were up 47% in April compared to the same period in 2019. This included a 62% increase in parcels going to children. The trust is now calling for the government to give help to low-income families, including a £250 lump sum. It also wants an extension of cash payments for children eligible for free school meals until schools reopen in August. The Scottish government said it had committed £350m of additional funding “to support those most at risk”.


A spokesman said it was also supporting over 175,000 children with access to free school meals. More than 100 organisations have signed up to a coalition urging the Scottish and UK governments to help “as widespread concern mounts for children’s wellbeing”. The group includes the Trussell Trust, the / Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) in Scotland and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). They want the UK government to introduce a/ temporary/ Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme. The charities say this would “ensure/ everyone has/ enough money in their pocket for essentials during this crisis”.

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There was never a reason for the FBI to investigate Flynn. When they did anyway, they found nothing. And still here we are 40-odd months later, and he’s still not been cleared. People are going to pay for this.

What The Flynn Transcripts Do Not Contain: A Crime (Turley)

“Remember … Ambassador, you’re not talking to a diplomat, you’re talking to a soldier.” When President Trump’s incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn, said those words to then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, he also spoke to American intelligence agents listening in on the call. For three years, congressional Democrats have assured us Flynn’s calls to Kislyak were so disturbing that they set off alarms in the closing days of the Obama administration. They were right. The newly released transcripts of Flynn’s calls are deeply disturbing — not for their evidence of criminality or collusion but for the total absence of such evidence. The transcripts, declassified Friday, strongly support new investigations by both the Justice Department and by Congress, starting with next week’s Senate testimony by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

It turns out Flynn’s calls are not just predictable but even commendable at points. When the Obama administration hit the Russians with sanctions just before leaving office, the incoming Trump administration sought to avoid a major conflict at the very start of its term. Flynn asked the Russian to focus on “common enemies” in order to seek cooperation in the Middle East. The calls covered a variety of issues, including the sanctions. What was not discussed was any quid pro quo or anything untoward or unlawful. Flynn stated what was already known to be Trump policy in seeking a new path with Russia. Flynn did not offer to remove sanctions but, rather, encouraged the Russians to respond in a reciprocal, commensurate manner if they felt they had to respond.

The calls, and Flynn’s identity, were leaked by as many as nine officials as the Obama administration left office — a serious federal crime, given their classified status. The most chilling aspect of the transcripts, however, is the lack of anything chilling in the calls themselves. Flynn is direct with Kislyak in trying to tone down the rhetoric and avoid retaliatory moves. He told Kislyak, “l am a very practical guy, and it’s about solutions. It’s about very practical solutions that we’re — that we need to come up with here.” Flynn said he understood the Russians might wish to retaliate for the Obama sanctions but encouraged them not to escalate the conflict just as the Trump administration took office.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1268006146423623683

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Lindsey Graham has a reputation of scaring away from major questions. But he won’t be able to stop this anymore.

The 10 Most Important Questions For Rod Rosenstein (Solomon)

Two years ago, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein chafed when asked whether congressional Republicans might have legitimate reason to suspect the factual underpinnings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants that targeted Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the Russia probe. Seeming a bit perturbed, Rosenstein launched into a mini-lecture on how much care and work went into FISA applications at the FBI and Justice Department. “There’s a lot of talk about FISA applications. Many people I’ve seen talk about it seem not to recognize that a FISA application is actually a warrant, just like a search warrant. In order to get a FISA warrant, you need an affidavit signed by a career law enforcement officer who swears the information is true … And if it is wrong, that person is going to face consequences,” Rosenstein asserted.

[..] On Wednesday, when he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rosenstein is likely to strike a humbler tone in the face of overwhelming evidence that the FBI-executed FISAs have been chronically flawed, including in the Russia case he supervised. “Even the best law enforcement officers make mistakes, and some engage in willful misconduct,” Rosenstein said in a statement issued ahead of his appearance. “Independent law enforcement investigations, judicial review and congressional oversight are important checks on the discretion of agents and prosecutors.” [..] Here are the 10 most important questions those senators are likely to set out to answer:

  1. Did Rosenstein read the FISA warrant renewal he signed in summer 2017 against Page, review any evidence supporting it, or ask the FBI any questions about the case before affixing his signature?
  2. Does the former No. 2 DOJ official now believe the FISA was so flawed that it should never have been submitted to the court? Does he regret signing it?
  3. Given what he now knows about flaws with the Steele dossier and FBI probe, would Rosenstein have appointed Robert Mueller as the Russia Special Counsel if given a do-over?
  4. Did Rosenstein engage in a conversation with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in 2017 about wearing a wire on President Trump as part of a plot to remove the 45th president from office under the 25th Amendment?
  5. Who drafted and provided the supporting materials that Rosenstein used to create the scope of investigation memos that guided Mueller’s probe?
  6. Does Rosenstein have any concerns about the conduct of fired FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe as he looks back on their tenure and in light of the new evidence that has surfaced?
  7. When did Rosenstein learn that the CIA had identified Page as one of its assets — ruling out he was a Russian spy — and that information in Steele’s dossier used in the FISA warrant had been debunked or linked to Russian disinformation?
  8. Does Rosenstein believe the FISA court was intentionally misled, or can the glaring missteps be explained by bureaucratic bungling?
  9. What culpability does Rosenstein assign to himself for the failures in the Russia case he supervised, and what other people does he blame?
  10. Does the former deputy attorney general believe anyone in the Russia case should face criminal charges?

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Everything Nadler touches turns to failure. This will be no exception.

Jerry Nadler Moves To Cut Bill Barr’s Budget By $50 Million (R.)

The Democrat who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee said on Tuesday he will introduce legislation this week to cut $50 million in funding from Attorney General William Barr’s personal office. New York Representative Jerrold Nadler said he would move to reduce funding for Barr’s personal office as a response to what he called “continued defiance of Congress and improper politicization of the Department of Justice.” Nadler said he was making this move and others in the wake of Barr’s refusal to appear before his committee. Passing such a cut would require approval of both the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate.


“We do not take these actions lightly or with any sense of joy. We have both a duty and a moral obligation to protect the rule of law in our country, and we intend to do just that,” Nadler said. He complained that although Barr “could not find the time to testify” before his committee because of the coronavirus pandemic, the attorney general “took the time to tour the peaceful protests at Lafayette Park just minutes before riot police fired tear gas into the crowd.” A Justice Department spokesman said the Department informed the committee it would consider scheduling a committee appearance by Barr after the expiration at the end of June of current guidance requiring White House approval for such testimony. He added the Department also might be willing to discuss possible testimony by Barr’s deputy at a “a mutually agreeable date.”

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The pic is the cover of a Dutch magazine that says: “Not a nickel extra to Southern Europe”.

Will Italy Be The Next Country To Leave the EU? (Antonopoulos)

On May 27, the political movement Italia Libera submitted a constitutional bill to the Supreme Court of Cassation demanding a referendum for Italy to leave the EU. After years of discussions, the foundation stone was laid for Italians to debate whether they want to remain in the EU or follow the United Kingdom out of the bloc. The draft bill presented by Italia Libera to the Supreme Court of Cassation is entitled “Call for a referendum on the withdrawal of the state from the European Union.” Effectively, Italia Libera has demonstrated that it is possible to follow an institutional path to allow citizens to decide whether they want to remain in the EU or not – and for those who want to leave, now is the best time considering the massive decline in popularity for the bloc after their abandonment of Italy when it was at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are many positive aspects to the EU, most notably the free movement of people and a coordinated effort to fight crime through Europol, but these multilateral agreements can exist without a European Parliament and domineering institutions based in Brussels and Strasbourg. As Toppi explained, Italy imagined the EU to be “a community of peoples and not of bankers.” It is for this reason that they announced the bill on the same day an unprecedented European Union Recovery Fund became official. This fund was only established because of the backlash received due to the bloc’s initial disinterest in assisting already struggling economies of the EU that were being further devastated financially by the pandemic.

With widespread southern European dissatisfaction with how the EU abandoned its supposed liberal ideals, particularly Germany, in favour of serving inward self-interests, bloc leaders are now playing catch up. President of the European Commission and Angela Merkel’s right-hand man in previous German governments, Ursula Von Der Leyen, and the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, who was also a former member of the Troika of bankers, announced the unprecedented measures to assist Europe through its financial woes. This time they promised real aid that would not completely decimate state structures and entire economies like what happened to Greece, Spain, Portugal, and to a lesser extent Italy, for the entirety of the 2010’s.

The Governor of the Bank of Italy expects a 13% drop in GDP in 2020, and for this reason Toppi emphasized that Italy does not need any further indebtedness which will increasingly put Italy in the hands of international speculators. However, Italians remember that Lagarde announced on March 13, just as coronavirus was truly beginning to overwhelm hospitals, that the pandemic was an Italian problem only. This was the catalyst that saw ordinary Italians begin to remove EU flags from public display and replace them with Russian and Chinese flags in gratitude to the significant assistance that these two countries gave to Italy when it was abandoned by Brussels and Berlin.

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Cultures that have existed for centuries.

Where Did Policing Go Wrong? (Taibbi)

Watching all the terrible news in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, it’s been hard not to think about Eric Garner. The cases have so many similarities. Once again, an unarmed African-American man in his forties has been asphyxiated in broad daylight by a police officer with a history of abuse complaints. He and his fellow officers ignore cries of “I can’t breathe,” and keep subduing their target even after he stops moving, unconcerned that he’s being filmed. Five years ago, while sketching the outline for a book about the Garner case called I Can’t Breathe, my editor suggested I take on a larger question.

Why, he asked, do we even have police? After all, the history of policing in our country, especially as it pertains to minority neighborhoods, has always rested upon dubious justifications. The early American police forces evolved out of slave patrols in the South, and “progressed” to enforce the Black Codes from the Civil War period and beyond, on to Jim Crow through the late sixties if not longer. In an explicit way, American policing has almost always been concerned on some level with enforcing racial separatism. Because Jim Crow police were upholding a way of life, the actual laws they were given to enforce were deliberately vague, designed to be easily used as pretexts for controlling the movements of black people.

They were charged with punishing “idleness” or “impudence,” and encouraged to enforce a range of vagrancy laws, including such offenses as “rambling without a job” and “leading an idle, profligate, or immoral course of life.” I ended up not taking on that question, focusing on the hard-enough question of what had led two young, amped-up policemen to choke the life out of a harmless father and street character like Garner. I was more interested in those police than all police, and part of me – the white part, probably – thought the answer to the question of why we need police at all was at least somewhat self-evident.

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“I mean, the city wouldn’t buy a teacher a pencil and then tell them not to use it, right?

Police Didn’t Spend Millions On Tank Just To Let Protests Stay Peaceful (Onion)

In response to concerns that law enforcement officers were escalating violence in the nationwide George Floyd uprisings, Los Angeles Police Department officials announced Tuesday that they didn’t spend millions on an awesome tank just to let protests stay peaceful. “We got the city to drop, like, $10 million on this sick tank and you expect we’ll just let people stand there chanting?” said LAPD chief Michael Moore, adding there was “no way in hell” that the department would let something like peaceful demonstrations stop them from making use of the vehicle’s “totally tricked-out” weapons system, armor, and ability to ram through virtually everything in its path.


“I mean, the city wouldn’t buy a teacher a pencil and then tell them not to use it, right? This is the kind of hardware you just can’t let sit gathering dust—same with the grenade launchers, drones, and tear gas. We have whole storage bays full of projectiles and we’re supposed to just not use them? Get real. They wouldn’t give us all this killer stuff if we weren’t supposed to have a little fun.” LAPD officials added that the city’s residents deserved to witness the full scope of all the badass shit their tax dollars could do.

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May 262020
 


G. G. Bain Temporary footpath, Manhattan Bridge 1908

 

8,000 Additional Deaths In Mexican Capital As Coronavirus Rages – Study (R.)
Brazil Surpasses US In Daily Coronavirus Death Toll (R.)
WHO Halts Hydroxychloroquine Trial For Coronavirus Amid Safety Fears (G.)
Tail Risk Of Contagious Diseases – Cirillo/Taleb (Nature)
44% of Republicans Think Bill Gates Will Use Vaccine To Implant Microchip (BI)
China’s Coronavirus Campaign Offers Glimpse Into Surveillance System (R.)
Chinese City To Score And Rank Its Residents Based On Health, Lifestyle (CNN)
PBOC Lowers RRR For China Financial Institutions To 9.4% (Xinhua)
Hong Kong Homebuyers Walk Away, Forfeit $1.5 Million In Deposits (SCMP)
Why Joe Biden Can Do No Wrong (Turley)
The Unspooling (Kunstler)
Bill Barr Calls Action of Mueller and Rosenstein “Abhorrent” (CTH)
Michael Moore Film Planet of the Humans Removed From YouTube (G.)
Time for a Selective Debt Jubilee (Willem Buiter)
Debt, Liberty and “Acts of God” (Michael Hudson)

 

New cases in:

• US + 19,790
• Brazil + 11,456
• Russia + 8,946
• India + 6,589
• Chile + 4,895

 

 

 

 

Note: only 1,300 deaths worldwide in 24 hours?!

Cases 5,609,654 (+ 88,909 from yesterday’s 5,520,745)

Deaths 348,322 (+ 1,300 from yesterday’s 347,022)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Few certainties, but important research, that every country and city should do.

8,000 Additional Deaths In Mexican Capital As Coronavirus Rages – Study (R.)

Mexico’s capital registered 8,072 more deaths in the first five months this year than the average from the same period over the past four years, an analysis by independent researchers showed on Monday, suggesting a possible surge due to the coronavirus. Health officials have reported 1,655 deaths from the virus in Mexico City, out of 7,394 deaths nationwide. They have also acknowledged that the true death toll is higher, but difficult to estimate due to a low testing rate. Software developer Mario Romero Zavala and economic consultant Laurianne Despeghel, whose analysis was published in Mexican magazine Nexos, tallied 39,173 fatalities this year through May 20 by extracting data from Mexico City’s online database of death certificates.


Over the prior four years, they calculated just 31,101 deaths on average during the same period, using the same database. Mexico City’s official count of deaths from the coronavirus represents just over 20% of the study’s “excess mortality” – a term used by epidemiologists to estimate the increase in deaths, versus normal conditions, attributable to a public health crisis. Excess mortality is difficult to calculate in Mexico because the most recent data on fatalities from the national statistics institute is from 2018. Despeghel said the analysis was only a first step to measuring the virus’ impact. “While studying excess deaths allows us to identify a higher mortality rate during the COVID-19 crisis, it is not sufficient to attribute it directly or solely to the virus,” she said.

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But the US will come roaring back. Note that Sweden is in second place after the UK over the past week.

Brazil Surpasses US In Daily Coronavirus Death Toll (R.)

Brazil daily coronavirus deaths were higher than fatalities in the United States for the first time over the last 24 hours, according to the country’s Health Ministry. Brazil registered 807 deaths over the last 24 hours, whereas 620 died in the United States. Brazil has the second worst outbreak in the world, with 374,898 cases, behind the U.S. with 1.637 million cases. Total deaths in the U.S. has reached 97,971, according to Reuters tally compared with Brazil at 23,473.

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I kid you not, they call it a “solidarity trial”. Do keep providing it for malaria and lupus, but, because of ONE article in the Lancet, not for COVID19.

WHO Halts Hydroxychloroquine Trial For Coronavirus Amid Safety Fears (G.)

The World Health Organization has said it will temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine — the malaria drug Donald Trump said he is taking as a precaution — from its global study into experimental coronavirus treatments after safety concerns. The WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in light of a paper published last week in the Lancet that showed people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems than those who were not, it would pause the hydroxychloroquine arm of its solidarity global clinical trial. “The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the solidarity trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board,” Tedros said on Monday. “The other arms of the trial are continuing,”

He said the concern related only to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for Covid-19, adding that the drugs were accepted treatments for people with malaria and auto-immune diseases. Other treatments in the WHO’s solidarity trial, including the experimental drug remdesivir and an HIV combination therapy, are still being pursued. Hydroxychloroquine has been licensed for use in the US since the mid-1950s and is listed by the WHO as an essential medicine. There are numerous trials under way of the two drugs against coronavirus but neither is a proven treatment. The US National Institutes of Health is also running a clinical trial to establish whether the drug, administered with the antibiotic azithromycin, can prevent hospital admissions and death from Covid-19.

A controversial French doctor who has promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for coronavirus said on Monday he stood by his belief the drugs could help patients recover. He also rejected the Lancet study of the records of 96,000 patients across hundreds of hospitals. “How can a messy study done with ‘big data’ change what we see?”, Prof Didier Raoult asked in a video posted on the website of his infectious diseases hospital in Marseille. “Here we have had 4,000 people go through our hospital, you don’t think I’m going to change because there are people who do ‘big data’, which is a kind of completely delusional fantasy,” he said.

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Every decision maker should take an in-depth crash course in risk.

Tail Risk Of Contagious Diseases – Cirillo/Taleb (Nature)

The central point we wish to convey is the following: the more fat-tailed a statistical distribution, the more the ‘tail wags the dog’. That is to say, more statistical information resides in the extremes and less in the ‘bulk’—the events of high frequency—where it becomes almost noise. Under fat tails, the law of large numbers works slowly, and moments—even when they exist—may become uninformative and unreliable5. All this makes EVT the most effective and robust approach for risk management purposes, even with relatively small datasets like ours. The presence of a fat right tail in the distribution of pandemic fatalities has the following policy implications, useful in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


First, it should be evident that it is not appropriate to compare fatalities from multiplicative infectious diseases (fat-tailed, like a Pareto distribution) to those from car accidents, heart attacks or falls from ladders (thin-tailed, like a Gaussian). This remains a common (and costly) error in policy making, and in both the decision sciences and the journalistic literature. Some research papers even criticise the wider public’s ‘paranoia’ with respect to pandemics, not appreciating that such a paranoia is merely responsible (and realistic) risk management in front of potentially destructive events. The main problem is that those articles—often relied upon for policy making—consistently use the wrong thin-tailed distributions, underestimating tail risk, so that every conservative or preventative reaction is bound to be considered an overreaction.

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Have you seen Bill Gates lately? That’s the guy that all these tough -formerly- Americans are so afraid of.

Are these people still using Microsoft software, further enriching Gates?

44% of Republicans Think Bill Gates Will Use Vaccine To Implant Microchip (BI)

A new survey by Yahoo News and YouGov has found that 44% of Republicans believe that Bill Gates will use the COVID-19 vaccination to implant a location-tracking microchip into the vaccine recipient, a conspiracy theory that has gained traction among fringe groups and conservative pundits. The survey also found that 26% of Republicans do not believe the false microchip vaccine narrative, while 31% remained undecided on the topic. Half of the people surveyed who use Fox News as their main source of TV news also believe the debunked theory. However, the poll also noted that 19% of Democrats, 24% of Independents, and 15% of people who use MSNBC as their source of TV news also believe the microchipping myth.


For the survey, YouGov conducted an online interview of a “nationally representative” group of 1,640 US adults who were a part of YouGov’s opt-in panel between May 20 and 21. There is about a 3% margin of error. An earlier Yahoo News and YouGov poll also found that only 55% of Americans surveyed would want the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available. The rest were either unsure (26%) or did not plan on receiving the vaccine (19%). President Donald Trump has said that he is “very confident” that a coronavirus vaccine will be ready by the end of the year, while experts have predicted that the vaccine development could take up to 12 to 18 months to prepare.

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You’re right, maybe this is all Bill Gates too. Maybe he bought the Forbidden City.

China’s Coronavirus Campaign Offers Glimpse Into Surveillance System (R.)

The coronavirus outbreak in China has given unprecedented glimpses into how an extensive system of surveillance cameras works, as monitoring stations are rebranded epidemic “war rooms” helping to check people’s movements and stifle the disease. China is trying to build one of the world’s most sophisticated surveillance technology networks, with hundreds of millions of cameras in public places and increasing use of techniques such as smartphone monitoring and facial recognition. This year, cities and villages across the country have used the system for what the government has labelled “an all-out people’s war on coronavirus”.

While authorities have primarily used mobile location data and ID-linked tracing apps to flag people coming back from abroad for quarantine, the camera surveillance system has played a crucial role, according to officials, state media and residents. The network has been used to trace the contacts of people confirmed as infected with the virus, and to punish businesses and individuals flouting restrictions. “This is a war situation,” said a civil servant surnamed Wang in Tianjin city, who was involved in tracing thousands of people linked to a coronavirus cluster at a department store. “We must adopt war-time thinking.” Despite the hi-tech ambitions of the system, it is heavily dependent on a lot of people watching footage on screens. Known as “grid members”, they sit in monitoring rooms or squint over smart-phone feeds from the networks of cameras.

“This type of surveillance is far more human driven than it is tech driven, said James Leibold, associate Professor at Australia’s La Trobe University, who researched similar systems in China’s far-west Xinjiang. State media, officials and local governments have given accounts of the system in action in the campaign against the coronavirus. In Donghan village in Hubei, the province where the coronavirus emerged late last year, grid member Liu Ganhe saw six villagers gathering without masks, so he called the authorities. “Village cadres rushed to the scene to disperse the crowd and educate the people,” media said, praising the “wartime restrictions” the system was able to enforce.

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There are really people who could see this happening in the west?!

Chinese City To Score And Rank Its Residents Based On Health, Lifestyle (CNN)

Imagine a smartphone app that has access to your medical records and assigns you a daily score based on your preconditions, recent checkups and lifestyle habits — how much you’ve drunk, smoked, exercised and slept on any given day can all affect your points total, boosting or lowering your ranking. That “health score” will be embedded in a digital QR code accessible on your phone, ready to be scanned whenever needed. This is what the city government of Hangzhou in eastern China has envisioned for its more than 10 million residents, inspired by a “health code” system it adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic to profile people based on their risk of infection.

Across the globe, governments have stepped up the collection of personal data in their fight against the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 345,000 people and infected close to 5.5 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. But there are also fears that some of these extraordinary measures could be here to stay even after the public health crisis is over, posing a long-term threat to privacy. That concern was amplified among Hangzhou residents when their municipal government announced Friday that it was planning to make permanent a version of the “health code” app used during the pandemic.

Since February, the Chinese government has used a color-based “health code” system to control people’s movements and curb the spread of the coronavirus. The automatically generated quick response codes, commonly abbreviated to QR codes, are assigned to citizens on their smartphones as an indicator of their health status. The color of these codes — in red, amber or green — decides whether users can leave home, use public transport and enter public places. The health codes can also serve as a tracker for people’s movements, as residents have their QR codes scanned as they enter public places. Once a confirmed case is diagnosed, authorities are able to quickly trace where the patient has been and identify people who have been in contact with that individual.

Hangzhou, a coastal city about a hundred miles southwest of Shanghai, was among the first cities to use the health code system to decide which citizens should go into quarantine. But now, the city government says it wants the “health code” to be “normalized” — meaning it could be here to stay well beyond the pandemic.

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Two years ago, the reserve requirement ratio was 14.2%, now it’s 9.4%. But Chinese banks haven’t shed risk. So this is dangerous. The RRR, simplified, is a gauge of the bad debt they hold, and I bet you it’s way more than 9.4%.

PBOC Lowers RRR For China Financial Institutions To 9.4% (Xinhua)

The average reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for financial institutions stood at 9.4 percent on May 15, down 5.2 percentage points from the beginning of 2018, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said. The PBOC has lowered the RRR 12 times since 2018, releasing about 8 trillion yuan (about 1.12 trillion U.S. dollars) in long-term funds to bolster the real economy. Of the total, four RRR cuts in 2018 released 3.65 trillion yuan, five RRR cuts in 2019 released 2.7 trillion yuan and three RRR cuts in the first five months this year released 1.75 trillion yuan. The RRR cuts have led to the contraction of the balance sheet of the PBOC, but this will not cause the tightening of money supply and is contrary to the balance sheet reduction of the central banks of the developed economies such as the U.S. Federal Reserve to reduce the bond holdings, the PBOC said.


The contraction has a strong expansion effect and the main reason is that lowering the RRR means commercial banks will have less money locked up by the central bank and more money for free use, the PBOC said. The RRR cuts have helped meet the liquidity demand of the banking system, boost support for small businesses, cut the social financing cost, promote the market-oriented and law-based debt-to-equity swaps, the central bank said. The cuts have encouraged the rural financial institutions to serve local entities, supported the epidemic prevention and control as well as enterprise work resumption, and played a positive role in bolstering the real economy, the PBOC said.

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The protests will pick up again.

Hong Kong Homebuyers Walk Away, Forfeit $1.5 Million In Deposits (SCMP)

Nineteen Hong Kong homebuyers who put down deposits for flats at the height of a market rally around June 2018 have walked away from their purchases, forfeiting as much as HK$11.83 million (US$1.53 million) and HK$12.4 million in two instances over the past month. Nine buyers walked away from Hong Kong developer K Wah International’s Solaria project in Tai Po district, forfeiting the HK$11.83 million on Friday, according to the project’s Register of Transactions. The second instance, of 10 forfeitures, was reported from Solaria on April 29. Altogether, more than 100 homebuyers have walked away from their purchases so far this year, according to reports.


Hong Kong’s economy has taken a battering since the heydays of June 2018. The year-long US-China trade war, the city’s anti-government protests and the novel coronavirus outbreak have all taken their toll, pushing the city’s economy into recession over two quarters of economic contraction. The proposed introduction of a new national security law by Beijing, announced at “Two Sessions” last week, has added to the turmoil by sparking fears about market stability.
Centa-City Leading Index, Centaline’s timelier price index for used homes, has declined about 5 per cent between June 2018 and now. It has dropped about 6.8 per cent since June 2019.

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What exactly is the game? Is CNN supporting Trump?

Why Joe Biden Can Do No Wrong (Turley)

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on special dispensation given Joe Biden by members of Congress, commentators, and the media. We previously discussed the muted media response to false legal comments from President Barack Obama and other Obama officials on the Flynn case. The pattern of media avoidance is more glaring with recent Biden controversies. Notably, the column ran when Biden gave his interview on the radio show “The Breakfast Club” that “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” This weekend, I was critical of segments on CNN and NBC’s Meet the Press which quoted Biden but cut off the line where he falsely claimed to have received multiple endorsements from the NAACP.


CNN’s John King derisively referred to controversy as something people are “trying to make hay” out of and then played the interview. However, CNN clipped the tape to leave out the next line where Biden declared “The NAACP has endorsed me every time I’ve run. Come on, take a look at my record.” Despite that invitation to look at his record, CNN and other media routinely cut out the false statement and also omitted any discussion of the false claim linked to the NAACP. On a story about Biden’s claim that all black voters must vote for him (or not be truly black), it would seem material that he also falsely claimed endorsements from the leading organization in the African American community. However, it was routinely omitted from the tape and Biden has not been asked to respond to the rebuttal from the NAACP. It is precisely the type of crafting of the coverage to confine damage for Biden that is discussed in the column.

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Once Emmet Sullivan gives in, Michael Flynn will be free to speak.

The Unspooling (Kunstler)

What “the Resistance” really fears more than anything is General Michael Flynn’s mouth. He’s been under a judicial gag order since his case went before Judge Emmet Sullivan’s federal district court. Understandably, Gen. Flynn wasn’t eager to complicate his unjust plight with a contempt citation. Judge Sullivan’s recent shenanigans have one object: to keep that gag order in force as long as possible. The moment Judge Sullivan confirms the DOJ’s move to dismiss the charges, as he is duty-bound to do, General Flynn will be free to offer his views to the public. That might be inconvenient in an election season.

I’m sure he has a lot to say. Gen. Flynn was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency for two years (2012 – 2014) under Barack Obama, and he knows a ton about every crooked operation Mr. Obama presided over, including the Benghazi fiasco, the Ukraine regime change op, and especially Mr. Obama’s hijacking of the NSA supercomputer surveillance database known as “the Hammer,” which was set up originally to track terrorists and then used by DNI James Clapper and CIA chief John Brennan to spy on Americans, most particularly Mr. Obama’s political adversaries. It’s rumored that Mr. Obama took the database with him when he left the White House, and it is said to contain great gouts of usefully damning information about just about everyone in government, including senators, congressmen, and Supreme Court justices.

Gen. Flynn became an antagonist to Obama & Co. when he objected to the nuclear deal they were cooking up with Iran and when he spoke out against the CIA’s 2013 Timber Sycamore op to arm and give money to Isis terrorists opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Obama canned Gen. Flynn in 2014. What really sealed Gen. Flynn’s fate was when he started publicly complaining about the politicization of John Brennan’s CIA. The New York Times quoted him saying, “They’ve lost sight of who they actually work for. They work for the American people. They don’t work for the president of the United States. Frankly, it’s become a very political organization.”

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There’s a major battle coming, but I don’t see Bill Barr playing a major role in it.

Bill Barr Calls Action of Mueller and Rosenstein “Abhorrent” (CTH)

For well over a year we’ve been saying AG Bill Barr’s biggest challenge is not investigating the soft-coup but rather managing through what We The People are already aware of. With that in mind; and with congress moving to put former DAG Rod Rosenstein and former Special Counsel Robert Mueller under a microscope; it is interesting to note AG Bill Barr recently conceding his two friends were corrupt.

[Transcript] …”Now what happened to the president – and I’ve said this many times – what happened to the president in the 2016 election; and throughout the first two years of his administration was abhorrent. It was a grave injustice and it was unprecedented in American history.” “The law enforcement and intelligence apparatus of this country were involved in advancing a false and utterly baseless Russian-collusion narrative against the president.” The proper investigative and prosecutive standards of the Dept of Justice were abused, in my view, in order to reach a particular result.” ~ (AG Barr, May 18, 2020)

How can AG Barr say the DOJ/FBI conduct during the first two years of the administration “was abhorrent” without specifically implying his two friends, Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein were complicit in the “grave injustice” he outlines? It is interesting that no media (of any disposition) has ever questioned AG Barr about Rosenstein and Mueller considering his words that outline their behavior as abhorrent.

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4 seconds.

Note: it’s not a Michael Moore film, his name was used only for publicity. And now the detractors use it too. Is that wise?

Michael Moore Film Planet of the Humans Removed From YouTube (G.)

YouTube has taken down the controversial Michael Moore-produced documentary Planet of the Humans in response to a copyright infringement claim by a British environmental photographer. The movie, which has been condemned as inaccurate and misleading by climate scientists and activists, allegedly includes a clip used without the permission of the owner Toby Smith, who does not approve of the context in which his material is being used. In response, the filmmakers denied violating fair usage rules and accused their critics of politically motivated censorship. Smith filed the complaint to YouTube on 23 May after discovering Planet of the Humans used several seconds of footage from his Rare Earthenware project detailing the journey of rare earth minerals from Inner Mongolia.

Smith, who has previously worked on energy and environmental issues, said he did not want his work associated with something he disagreed with. “I went directly to YouTube rather than approaching the filmmakers because I wasn’t interested in negotiation. I don’t support the documentary, I don’t agree with its message and I don’t like the misleading use of facts in its narrative.” Planet of the Humans director Jeff Gibbs said he was working with YouTube to resolve the issue and have the film back up as soon as possible. He said in a statement: “This attempt to take down our film and prevent the public from seeing it is a blatant act of censorship by political critics of Planet of the Humans. It is a misuse of copyright law to shut down a film that has opened a serious conversation about how parts of the environmental movement have gotten into bed with Wall Street and so-called “green capitalists.” There is absolutely no copyright violation in my film. This is just another attempt by the film’s opponents to subvert the right to free speech.”

Planet of the Humans, which has been seen by more than 8 million people since it was launched online last month, describes itself as a “full-frontal assault” on the sacred cows of the environmental movement. Veteran climate campaigners and thinkers, such as Bill McKibben and George Monbiot, have pointed out factual errors, outdated footage and promotion of myths about renewable energy propagated by the fossil fuel industry. Many are dismayed that Moore – who built his reputation as a left-wing filmmaker and supporter of civil rights – should produce a work endorsed by climate sceptics and right-wing thinktanks. Several have signed a letter urging the removal of what they called a “shockingly misleading and absurd” documentary. Climate scientist Michael Mann said the filmmakers “have done a grave disservice to us and the planet” with distortions, half-truths and lies.

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Buiter is your typical career insider. His opinions are pretty useless.

Time for a Selective Debt Jubilee (Willem Buiter)

Across most advanced economies, much of the additional private debt accumulated during the crisis will likely end up being owned by public entities, including central banks, and most of it will never be repaid. To protect their independence and political legitimacy, central banks should not act as fiscal principals. And yet, in the case of small and medium-size enterprises, it is simply obvious that COVID-19-related debt will have to be forgiven. The national Treasury will need to compensate the central bank for any losses it incurs.For publicly traded companies the debt held by public creditors should be turned into equity, in the form of non-voting preference shares, which would minimize the impression that the pandemic had inaugurated a new era of central planning.

Again, the national Treasury will have to indemnify the central bank for any losses it incurs. An equitization option should be attached to all newly issued public debt. The resulting equity instruments could represent claims on part of the government’s primary budget surplus, or their interest rates could be linked to GDP growth. But poorer countries will not have this option. According to the Brookings Institution, emerging markets and developing countries already owe about $11 trillion in external debt and face $3.9 trillion in debt-service costs this year. In April, the World Bank and the IMF offered a modicum of debt relief to many of these countries, and the G20 agreed to a temporary payment standstill for official debt, which paved the way for hundreds of private creditors to do the same.

Yet these forms of assistance offer too little, too late. The fact is that most of these debts never should have been issued in the first place. Grants are the proper way to transfer resources to low-income countries. After World War II, the Marshall Plan involved only grants; today, the case for “corona grants” to low-income countries could hardly be stronger. Under the IMF and the World Bank’s 1996 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, some 36 countries received full or partial debt relief. It is time to return to that idea, starting with a comprehensive round of debt forgiveness for the world’s poorest countries. This selective jubilee should include debts owed to the IMF, the World Bank, other multilateral lenders, national sovereigns, official bodies like state-owned enterprises, and private creditors.

Debt is a dangerous instrument. For far too long, the world has used it to avoid awkward but unavoidable decisions. In the midst of an unprecedented global crisis, something will have to give.

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I don’t think many people understand how bad the situation will be during and after the virus. Recovery and return to normal are pretty much empty terms now.

Debt, Liberty and “Acts of God” (Michael Hudson)

Western civilization distinguishes itself from its predecessors in the way it has responded to “acts of God” disrupting the means of support and leaving debts in their wake. The great question always has been who will lose under such conditions. Will it be debtors and renters at the bottom of the economic scale, or creditors and landlords at the top? This age-old confrontation between creditors and debtors, landlords and tenants over how to deal with the unpaid debts and back rents is at the economic heart of today’s 2020 coronavirus pandemic that has left large and small businesses, farms, restaurants and neighborhood stores – along with their employees who have been laid off – unable to pay the rents, mortgages, other debt service and taxes that have accrued.

For thousands of years ancient economies operated on credit during the crop year, with payment falling due when the harvest was in – typically on the threshing floor. Normally this cycle provided a flow of crops and corvée labor to the palace and covered the cultivator’s spending during the crop year, with interest owed only when payment was late. But bad harvests, military conflict or simply the normal hardships of life occasionally prevented this buildup of debt from being paid, threatening citizens with bondage to their creditors or loss of their land rights. Mesopotamian palaces had to decide who would bear the loss when drought, flooding, infestation, disease or military attack disrupted economic activity and prevented the settlement of debts, rents and taxes.

Recognizing that this was an unavoidable fact of life, rulers proclaimed amnesties for taxes and the various debts that were incurred during the crop year. These acts saved smallholders from having to work off their debts by personal bondage and ultimately to lose their land. Classical antiquity, and indeed subsequent Western civilization, rejected such Clean Slates to restore social balance. Since Roman times it has become normal for creditors to use social misfortune as an opportunity to gain property and income at the expense of families falling into debt. In the absence of kings or democratic civic regimes protecting debtor rights and liberty, pro-creditor laws obliged debtors to lose their land or other means of livelihood to foreclosing creditors, sell it under distress conditions and fall into bondage to work off their debts, becoming clients or quasi-serfs to their creditors without hope of recovering their former free status.

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