We’ve been talking a lot lately at the Automatic Earth about programs to vaccinate children. It’s one more thing that people appear to blindly accept as necessary and beneficial to our societies. While the only consideration really should be how beneficial it is to the children themselves. Most people here, at least, seem to agree on that. But that’s just here.
The US, Germany, Canada, and soon France and Spain all have plans, some already have been rolled out, to carpet bomb the virus by going after their children, and there is no doubt many more countries will follow their example.
Since we know there is no medical reason to do so, we must ask what the ethical and legal aspects tell us. And I can’t find those. How and why can you justify injecting people against something that is no threat to them, with a substance that potentially is a much worse threat?
I dug up a graph again that I posted in April, which spells out the Covid risk for all age groups, including children:
If your chance of survival is 99.99996%, there is no risk. And you don’t need to be inoculated. That would -at best- be equivalent to keeping your kids home 24/7 because you are afraid of what might happen in traffic, or in social life with other kids, or some bogeyman. The risk is never zero, but close enough that we do not act on it, and call it common sense.
The arguments that are usually used are that 1) kids must be jabbed to protect others around them, and 2) that the vaccines have been tested and proven safe. Obviously, 1) is very curious, and never been used before, and 2) is simply a lie: vaccines need years of testing for side effects, not months, and certainly not weeks, as is now the case for the effects on children.
The “testing” is simply that if not too many people drop dead after 5 minutes, well, then it must be safe, as institutions like the European Medicines Agency solemnly declare. Completely ignoring potential long term effects, something that seems essential in mRNA “vaccines” because of their potential effects on fertility etc. We just don’t know, but we should before applying the substances. There’s a reason none of the vaccines have been approved.
As for that alleged safety, this is from the European version of the American VAERS system:
1,5 million adverse reactions, and those are just the ones that have been reported. Now, I don’t know how many people in Europe have been inoculated, but I bet you this is not a 99.99996% success story. The numbers of deaths are not, either.
So I was happy to see some actual common sense reported in a Dutch paper today (Google translated), where the Health Council in the Netherlands injects at least some nuance into the debate. For kids with underlying conditions, like severe obesity or lung- and heart problems, some protection might make sense. I still wouldn’t go with mRNA vaccines, I would use ivermectin instead, but I get the reasoning somewhat.
The Health Council advises the cabinet to vaccinate children from the age of 12 with a medical risk against the corona virus. Vaccinating all children in that age group, as is done in Germany, France and the US, for example, is not yet on the agenda. An opinion on this will follow in a few weeks. The current advice concerns children aged 12 to 17 who are annually invited for the flu shot and children with severe obesity. According to the Health Council, vaccination of these children provides significant health benefits, because they run a high risk of a serious course of Covid-19. According to chairman Bart-Jan Kullberg, that risk is twice as high as in healthy children.
The corona pandemic also indirectly has a major impact on children at medical risk. To avoid the risk of contamination, for example, they do not go to school or social activities. The Health Council also takes this ‘social-emotional impact’ into account. The council cannot estimate the number of children involved. “It concerns, for example, children with a heart or lung disease. There are also many small groups with a rare condition. General practitioners and paediatricians have a good picture of these groups,” says Kullberg.
An advice on vaccinating healthy children will only follow in a few weeks. The vast majority of children do not or hardly get sick after a corona infection. So far, almost 280,000 children in the Netherlands are known to have been infected. Usually they had only mild symptoms, such as a cold and cough. In the age group 0-12 years, 379 children were hospitalized. In the 13-17 age group, there have been 101 since September. A total of three children have died; all three had an underlying condition. Last month, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave the green light for the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children from 12 years of age. More and more countries are also vaccinating all healthy children over the age of 12 to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
Vaccinating children from the age of 12 against the coronavirus can make a significant contribution to curbing the pandemic, OMT chairman Jaap van Dissel already suggested last weekend. According to him, it reduces the reproductive value (R) of the virus in winter by as much as this. about 15 percent. “That can be important to keep the spread low during that period as well.” In Germany, for example, teenagers will be vaccinated from next Monday, in France from mid-June and in Spain from mid-August. The US and Canada have been at it for weeks.
Vaccinating healthy children, who themselves hardly run the risk of becoming seriously ill after a corona infection, requires a ‘broader medical, epidemiological, ethical and legal consideration’, according to the Health Council. “It also depends on the phase of the pandemic,” Kullberg said. Because the number of infections is currently falling sharply and more than a million adults are now vaccinated every week, there is no reason to make that decision hastily, he says.
Now, mind you, that is the same country that admitted depriving children of their freedom, their development, and normal lives, in order to manipulate their parents. Talk about ethics. As I said a few days ago, “Holland closed schools not to protect children, but to make parents stay home. Think about how crazy that is.”
Due to the Dutch corona policy to close schools and thus keep parents at home, children have been used as a means to fight the epidemic. Our cabinet receives that hard slap on the fingers today in the annual worldwide children’s rights report, the KidsRights Index. According to the makers, the Netherlands has set a very bad example internationally, by not even trying to keep schools open safely. With all the consequences that entails for the mental health of our youth. The corona guidelines from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child have also been neglected. Youth has not been given any priority in Dutch policy, it sounds.
Statements by corona minister Hugo de Jonge, dated mid-December 2020, are presented as proof. Then De Jonge indeed mentioned on television as the reason why the cabinet decided to close the schools, that parents with children sitting at home will therefore start working from home more quickly. When parents take their children to school, that is another moment of contact, De Jonge explained at the time. “And we also learned from the first wave, when the schools were also closed, that the fact that primary education does not provide physical education also ensures that parents adhere better to another advice, namely: work from home as much as possible. ”, said the minister at the time.
“Children’s rights have been put in second place by the cabinet during corona time,” Marc Dullaert, founder of the international children’s rights organization KidsRights, now told this site. “They were the ankle bracelet for parents. These had to be kept at home in order to effectively fight the epidemic. At the expense of their mental health.” In the first phase, when everyone was looking for the right approach, this was understandable according to Dullaert. ,,But De Jonge’s statements came at a time when it was really no longer acceptable, in the second phase. And other countries – such as Belgium and Sweden – have done everything they can to keep the schools open, so there were alternatives on the table.”
Staying on topic, I liked this from the Conservative Woman site in Britain, with perhaps the best argument against child vaccination: “The sooner most of us are exposed to it, ideally in childhood, the sooner it will cease to be a major problem..”
All non-corrupted scientific commentators have known from the very start that this pandemic only ends one way: SARS-CoV-2 is going to become an endemic virus. It will always be with us. The sooner most of us are exposed to it, ideally in childhood, the sooner it will cease to be a major problem. High-risk individuals can choose to take a vaccine. Ivermectin and vitamin D can be used to prevent infection and treat confirmed cases. As we have seen, the argument that children must take vaccines so that we can achieve herd immunity is utterly false. Only those completely ignorant of virology and immunology would even attempt to make it. That brings us back to the original argument for vaccinating children against Covid: to protect them from the severe disease.
If this is the only reason to vaccinate children, there is only one calculation that parents should make: Is the risk from Covid greater than the risk from the vaccine? The present Covid vaccines being administered in the West are based on experimental technologies that are being used under emergency use authorisations (EUAs). Full safety studies will not be completed until 2023. The Covid vaccines were all created in the last year and we have no medium-term or long-term data on them. We don’t know if they will have an effect on children’s reproductive organs and fertility. We don’t know if they will produce auto-immune diseases. And we don’t know if they will lead to ADE (antibody-dependent enhancement) upon re-exposure to the virus (causing more severe illness).
We do know that the vaccines produce a range of cardiovascular and neurological events including strokes, myocarditis, pericarditis and paralysis in a significant number of people. In the small US state of Connecticut at least 18 children and young adults have come down with myocarditis, an extremely serious and sometimes fatal condition involving inflammation of the heart muscle (and they’ve only just started vaccinating children there). The Israel Ministry of Health has reported that the incidence of myocarditis for vaccine recipients is between 1 in 3,000 and 1 in 6,000 in young men.
In Canada (population 38 million) only 11 children have died from Covid since the start of the pandemic. In the UK (pop 68 million) 32 children have died. It is nearly certain that all of them had one or more severe comorbidities. The fact is, most children brush off Covid without even knowing they’ve had it. For all intents and purposes, Covid poses zero risk to healthy children.
A number of school leaders have swung into action following the approval of the vaccination of children against Covid (a disease which almost all children aren’t at risk from) using the Pfizer vaccine (trials of which only included 1,134 children). It wasn’t very long ago that the establishment line was: if you don’t get a Covid vaccine, you are selfish. Even the Queen (disappointingly) joined in with this line [..]. But now, adult advisers to the Government suggest that children should be vaccinated not to protect children but to protect…themselves. Professor Anthony Harnden, the Deputy Chairman of the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, says:
‘I think the vast majority of benefit won’t be to children, it will be an indirect benefit to adults in terms of preventing transmission and protecting adults who haven’t been immunised, for whatever reason haven’t responded to the vaccine and therefore that presents quite a lot of ethical dilemmas as to whether you should vaccinate children to protect adults.’ He notes that children themselves are ‘in the main’ not at risk from Covid. Over half of the adult population has been fully vaccinated (with seventy-five per cent having received at least one dose of a vaccine) and Covid deaths, while still exaggerated, have flattened. There is no reason to vaccinate most children and, given the potential side effects, many not to do so. If the Government bottles it on the vaccination of children, it is they who are being selfish.
The reactions to the virus are many times more dangerous than the virus itself. Because the reactions have been amplified by fear. Time to shake it off. But for that to happen, we need politics and media to change, because they’re doing the amplifying. Problem is, fear sells.
We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.
Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.
In the early going of the War on Covid-19, The Science told its soldiers, the doctors, to jam ventilators down patients’ throats. Whoops, that didn’t work so well. The Science told everybody to fuggeddabowt Ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, Zinc, and Vitamin D. The Science told New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to stash Covid-19 infected patients in nursing homes. The Science told everybody don’t bother with masks, then to definitely wear masks, then to maybe not wear masks, then to wear double masks, then to get vaccinated and wear masks. Golly, what to believe? Some people began to think that The Science was full of shit — which is, let’s face it, a dangerous thought, and something which, thank Gawd, Facebook, Twitter, and Google corrected for us.
One thing The Science remained adamant about for a whole year was that Covid-19 did not come from the Wuhan, China, Institute of Virology, where-and-to-which, it just happened, one of the US government’s Knights of The Science, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was funneling US taxpayer-funded grant money for the purpose of doing gain-of-function research on exotic bat corona viruses. Gosh, why would you even do that? (Doesn’t gain of function = make it more deadly?)
Supposedly to gain knowledge so that mankind will be prepared to fight the emergence of deadly bat viruses that somehow manage to sneak into the human population at some future date. These things can happen, you know. We’ve already tangled with bird flu and swine flu, so deadly bat flu could hardly be out of the question. Of course, one of the dangers, when you are playing with deadly respiratory viruses in a lab, is that lab workers might inhale a virus or two and become infected with a specimen that The Science has engineered to be especially troublesome… but that was very unlikely, maintained Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Science Advisor to the President.
Until this month when Dr. Fauci conceded to a Senate Committee that perhaps an investigation was warranted to find out if, perchance, Covid-19 escaped from the Wuhan lab — since, it turns out, the Wuhan lab was such a sloppy-ass operation that its level of safety was comparable to an ordinary dentist’s office. It also turns out, according to a Wall Street Journal report this week, that three Wuhan lab workers did indeed need to be hospitalized in November 2019, which was around the time the bug got loose among the civilians of Wuhan City, while Chinese tourists and workers were still winging around the world on airplanes by the tens of thousands — prompting one to wonder whether, also perchance, this was something that the CCP wanted to happen? ¿Quién sabe?
Now that “safe and effective” vaccines are available against Covid-19, The Science is urging everybody to take it, pronto, and the government is assisting in the distribution and deployment of vaccinations even to the very borderline of coercing citizens into it by turning the “vaccine hesitant” into social pariahs. No restaurant meals or ballgames for you Science-offending trolls! How’s that working? According to Dr. Fauci, and several other Knights of The Science, more than half of the people on their staffs got vaxed voluntarily. More than half! Now that’s a ringing vote of confidence in The Science!
An explosive new study claims that Chinese scientists created COVID-19 in a Wuhan lab, then tried to cover their tracks by reverse-engineering versions of the virus to make it look like it evolved naturally from bats. The paper’s authors, British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr. Birger Sørensen, wrote that they have had ‘prima facie evidence of retro-engineering in China’ for a year – but were ignored by academics and major journals. Dalgleish is a professor of oncology at St George’s University, London, and is best known for his breakthrough creating the first working ‘HIV vaccine’, to treat diagnosed patients and allow them to go off medication for months.
Sørensen, a virologist, is chair of pharmaceutical company, Immunor, which developed a coronavirus vaccine candidate called Biovacc-19. Dalgleish also has share options in the firm. The shocking allegations in the study include accusations of ‘deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data’ at Chinese labs, and it notes the silencing and disappearance of scientists in the communist country who spoke out. The journal article, exclusively obtained by DailyMail.com and slated for publication in the coming days, is set to make waves among the scientific community, as the majority of experts have until recently staunchly denied the origins of COVID-19 were anything other than a natural infection leaping from animals to humans.
While analyzing COVID-19 samples last year in an attempt to create a vaccine, Dalgleish and Sørensen discovered ‘unique fingerprints’ in the virus that they say could only have arisen from manipulation in a laboratory. They said they tried to publish their findings but were rejected by major scientific journals which were at the time resolute that the virus jumped naturally from bats or other animals to humans. Even when former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove spoke out publicly saying the scientists’ theory should be investigated, the idea was dismissed as ‘fake news.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wrote in an academic paper nine years ago that he supported “gain-of-function” research on viruses despite admitting a “remote” possibility that such “important work” could lead to a global pandemic if such a fortified virus escaped from a lab, The Australian newspaper reported on Friday. In October 2012, Fauci wrote a paper for the American Society for Microbiology, in which he said: “In an unlikely but conceivable turn of events, what if that scientist becomes infected with the virus, which leads to an outbreak and ultimately triggers a pandemic? Many ask reasonable questions: given the possibility of such a scenario – however remote – should the initial experiments have been performed and/or published in the first place, and what were the processes involved in this decision?
Scientists working in this field might say – as indeed I have said – that the benefits of such experiments and the resulting knowledge outweigh the risks. It is more likely that a pandemic would occur in nature, and the need to stay ahead of such a threat is a primary reason for performing an experiment that might appear to be risky.” The newspaper’s revelation comes as President Joe Biden announced this week an investigation into whether the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)’s lab in Wuhan, China, where the pandemic first broke out. Fauci, who had dismissed that possibility and insisted the virus had natural transmission from another species to humans, on May 11 reversed himself, saying at a conference that he was “not convinced” of the coronavirus’ natural origins and said authorities needed to learn “exactly what happened.”
[..] in December 2017 Fauci unilaterally reversed an Obama administration 2014 ban on such experiments precisely because of the danger that a leak could cause a pandemic. The Australian quoted former Trump administration officials as saying that no one at the Trump White House knew that Fauci had lifted Obama’s ban. “It kind of just got rammed through,” one official told the newspaper. “I think there’s truth in the narrative that the (National Security Council) staff, the president, the White House chief-of-staff, those people were in the dark that he was switching back on the research.”
German scientists have found out how the broken parts of Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines branded as Covishield in India mutate to trigger blood clots in recipients. Scientists say the vaccine is sent into the cell nucleus instead of surrounding fluid, where parts of it break off and create mutated versions of themselves. The mutated versions then enter the body and trigger the blood clots. Two vaccines, one manufactured by Oxford-AstraZeneca branded as Covishield in India and the other by Johnson & Johnson, have been linked to blood clotting disorders, particularly among women under the age of 50.
Earlier, German scientists found the exact 2 step process how the COVID-19 vaccine causes blood clots in recipients. They describe a series of events that has to happen in the body before the vaccines create these large clots. Now, researchers at Goethe-University of Frankfurt and Ulm University, in Helmholtz, have found the problem which they say lies in the adenovirus vector — a common cold virus used so both vaccines can enter the body. Scientists believe that in some people, the immune system sees the vaccine as a threat and over-produces antibodies to fight it. These lead to the formation of clumps in the blood, which can become deadly if the clots move towards vital organs and cut off supply.
The European Medicines Agency on Friday recommended that the use of the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech be expanded to children ages 12 to 15, a decision that offers younger and less at-risk populations across the continent access to a Covid-19 shot for the first time. The vaccine was the first one granted authorization across the European Union when it was licensed for use in anyone 16 and over in December. So far, about 173 million doses of the shot have been administered in the 27-nation bloc, about three quarters of the total given. “Extending the protection of a safe and effective vaccine in this younger population is an important step forward in the fight against this pandemic,” said Marco Cavaleri, who heads the EMA body that reviewed the vaccine.
The EU regulator had received the necessary data to authorize the vaccine for younger teens and found it to be highly effective against infection, he said. In a study involving 2,000 adolescents in the United States, none of those who received the vaccine got Covid-19, compared with 16 in a control group who received a placebo, said Cavaleri. “The vaccine was well tolerated and the side effect in this age group were very much similar (to) what we’ve seen in young adults and not raising major concern at this point in time,” he added. The EMA decision needs to be rubber-stamped by the European Commission, and individual national regulators must decide whether the vaccine will be administered to children under 16.
The recommendation follows similar decisions by regulators in Canada and the US last month, as rich countries slowly approach their vaccination targets for adults and look to immunize as many people as possible. Researchers will continue to monitor the shot’s long-term protection and safety in the children for another two years.
Most young people — healthy people under the age of 30 — have no symptoms of significance associated with getting infected with Covid-19. They either get a mild head cold that could be mistaken for anything else or no symptoms at all. Obviously, if you don’t know you are sick or think it’s allergies, asthma or whatever because you never run a fever or really are significantly ill you have no reason to get tested, no reason to believe you had it, and no doctor sees you. You do not show up in the data but you did indeed have Covid-19. Some young people get what seems like a flu and very, very few get really sick or die.
If you had Covid, whether you were tested positive or not, you are presumably protected. The science is that the minimum protection is about 84%. This is a minimum number because not everyone who got it and seroconverted silently was known. This study was among health-care workers who obviously have very high risk as they’re around actively sick people all the time, and they were tested regularly so many “silent” infections were caught, where yours probably wouldn’t have been. Further a recent study funded by Fauci’s NIH showed that most people pick up memory of the infection in their bone marrow (incidentally, getting people to volunteer for that had to be quite a trick; the operation to get the marrow to test is quite painful, which is why the size was very small) which means that protection from at least moderate disease is likely to last decades if not your entire remaining life.
In short there is no science that says you should take the shot if you’ve already had Covid. There are plenty of people saying that but they cannot point to any scientific study that shows you actually lose protection from prior infection any faster than you do from the shots themselves. This is why someone who had the measles does not take a measles shot; you’re presumably protected by fighting off the infection. But what if you haven’t had Covid-19? What do you decide if you’re in that 0-25 age group and someone is trying to demand you get the jab, or all your friends are doing it? Isn’t the first question to be asked “how dangerous is it if I say no and get infected, assuming I haven’t been already?” It should be.
The Oklahoma House has passed a bill banning mask mandates in public schools and requirements for students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The bill, SB 658, passed the state House by 76–18 and was sent to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt on May 26. The state Senate had passed the bill by 38–8 a day earlier. “For the sake of children throughout the state, I’m glad this bill is one step closer to becoming law,” Republican state Sen. Rob Standridge said in a statement. “With this legislation, vaccine passports for Oklahoma students will not exist.” Standridge is also one of the authors of the bill. SB 658 would prohibit the boards of education of all public school districts and technology center school districts—including those of higher education—from requiring vaccination against COVID-19 as “a condition of admittance to or attendance of the school or institution.”
It would also prevent vaccine passports or similar documentation from being required. Standridge explained during the session that the COVID-19 vaccine is different from other vaccines that are currently required, like those against diphtheria or tetanus, because it’s “still under emergency use authorization,” News9 reported. SB 658 further forbids implementing a mask mandate for students who haven’t received COVID-19 vaccines. Exceptions include when the governor declares an emergency or after the boards of education consult with their local county health department, but the mask mandate must be reconsidered at each regularly scheduled board meeting.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Friday that bans masks mandates inside Georgia public schools. The order also lifts most existing COVID-19 restrictions in the state. It blocks schools from implementing policies that would require students and staff to wear masks. Students and teachers still can wear masks if they choose, but they would be optional. “Georgians don’t need the government telling them what their children should do,” Kemp tweeted Thursday. Six Cobb County parents who sued the Cobb County School District over the district’s mask mandate have dropped the lawsuit in response to Kemp’s announcement.
Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had a public dispute last summer over Kemp’s order that restricted local governments from issuing face covering rules that were more restrictive than his. Kemp filed a lawsuit against Atlanta officials in July after the city enacted a face mask-wearing mandate when his executive order encouraged but did not require face coverings. Kemp later abandoned the lawsuit and issued an executive order that allowed certain local governments to issue the mandate. The Georgia Department of Public Health reported Friday the lowest COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state since the beginning of the pandemic. State records show 99 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms. According to the state’s daily status report, 9.9% of the tests returned were positive Friday for COVID-19.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has just quietly given American companies the green light to to do whatever it takes to “incentivize” American workers to accept the coronavirus vaccine. As vaccinations continue to slow, and states beef up incentives including lotteries and cash prizes to any adults who agree to get vaccinated who haven’t already, the EEOC has just issued some long-awaited guidance on how far companies can go in pushing workers to be vaccinated. Some companies, including Delta Air Lines, have said they won’t hire anyone who hasn’t already been vaccinated. The updated guidelines say employers may offer incentives for employees to provide documentation showing they have been vaccinated since requesting this proof “is not a disability-related inquiry” or an “unlawful request” under federal anti-discrimination laws.
What’s more, companies who choose to offer the vaccine on-site, or who incentivize employees to get vaccinated elsewhere, can’t offer perks or punishments substantial enough to be “coercive”. The questions, which were by far the most important pieces of the new guidance, were tucked away at the bottom of the update, making the changes an easy thing for reporters to miss before a long holiday weekend.
K.16. Under the ADA, may an employer offer an incentive to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation that they received a vaccination on their own from a pharmacy, public health department, or other health care provider in the community? (5/28/21) Yes. Requesting documentation or other confirmation showing that an employee received a COVID-19 vaccination in the community is not a disability-related inquiry covered by the ADA. Therefore, an employer may offer an incentive to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation of a vaccination received in the community. As noted elsewhere, the employer is required to keep vaccination information confidential pursuant to the ADA.
K.17. Under the ADA, may an employer offer an incentive to employees for voluntarily receiving a vaccination administered by the employer or its agent? (5/28/21) Yes, if any incentive (which includes both rewards and penalties) is not so substantial as to be coercive. Because vaccinations require employees to answer pre-vaccination disability-related screening questions, a very large incentive could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information. As explained in K.16., however, this incentive limitation does not apply if an employer offers an incentive to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation that they received a COVID-19 vaccination on their own from a third-party provider that is not their employer or an agent of their employer.
Employers including Dollar General, Aldi and Instacart have already moved to reward their employees for receiving the Covid-19 vaccine by offering paid time off and cash stipends. And in April, President Joe Biden called on every employer to offer paid time off for workers to recover from potential vaccine side effects.
Bernanke’s successor, Janet Yellen, worked closely with Geithner. Yellen’s successor and current Chairman Jerome Powell had a tight relationship with former President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Now, the dynamic has gotten even more intense. Powell and Yellen, who worked together on the Fed for nearly six years, now run the Fed and Treasury respectively. That’s never happened before, and it’s what has some on the Street nervous that the Fed may be tasked with implementing the White House’s economic program. The Fed has long been considered immune to outside pressures, free to move interest rates and otherwise implement policy in the way it deems most appropriate, outside of political concerns. The fear is that the Powell-Yellen dynamic could change that.
“You have the current Treasury secretary who was the boss of the current Fed chairman not so long ago. There’s obviously a very close relationship there,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group. “They’re still in lockstep. They’re espousing very similar philosophies that go beyond tradition.” Indeed, there’s not much difference between where Powell and Yellen stand on most matters germane to their respective roles. Powell has committed to keep interest rates low until the economy is farther along on the road to recovery, and Yellen has remarked on the pivotal role low rates play so the Biden administration can finance the trillions in spending that it wants. Yellen has been a leading advocate for that muscular fiscal policy, and Powell has said there are economic problems that low interest rates and money printing can’t solve.
But it’s their positions on social issues that have drawn much of the negative attention. The Fed has in the past several months stressed the importance of banks’ planning for climate change-related events. The central bank’s leading advocate for that cause has been Governor Lael Brainard, a close Yellen ally when they served on the Fed together. Along with that, Yellen has been outspoken on the importance of spreading economic benefits evenly at a time when the lowest earners have suffered the worst during the pandemic-era shutdowns. At the same time, the Fed last August changed its mission statement to say it is no longer focused merely on maximizing employment but now has a “a broad-based and inclusive goal” that goes to disparities in how gains are distributed.
“You certainly see some things that at a minimum are very different than how we’ve run things in the past, and it very much gets to the heart of independence in the Fed from overwhelming political influence,” Leuthold’s Paulsen said. “The most egregious departure from the past is the adoption by the Federal Reserve of several which I think many people would consider political goals or a political agenda of the current administration,” he continued. “They’re suddenly going far beyond a macro backstop for the cyclical economy to very much micro-oriented policy implementation.”
A group of parents, along with America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS) and written by Thomas Renz, Esq., filed a motion in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order “to prevent the expansion of the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 vaccines to include children under the age of 16,” according a statement released earlier today. The motion was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama and is directed against Secretary Xavier Becerra and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It consists of numerous plaintiffs representing various interests and backgrounds, including “physicians and the parents of minor children who are alarmed about offering children experimental products that have not undergone long term animal or safety studies.”
“We’ve never seen this level of side effects for any vaccine without the FDA taking action,” stated Dr. Angelina Farella, AFLDS Pediatric Medical Director. “The Rotavirus vaccine was pulled for 15 cases of non-lethal side effects and the Swine Flu vaccine was pulled for 25 deaths. But now, by the CDC’s own data, we are seeing a 12,000 percent increase in deaths with these vaccines and they’re still talking about giving this to our kids.” “Our children should never be the experiment,” she continued. “No additional authorizations or mandates should be granted. We want to preserve the previously established safety standards.” Dr. Farella also cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which confirms “children are at statistically zero risk for COVID-19, making expansion of the EUA for younger children medically unnecessary.”
A one-minute Covid-19 breath test has received provisional authorization in Singapore, where it will be used to test people coming into the country from Malaysia. The National University of Singapore’s Breathonix test – which was developed from “cancer detection technology” – can detect Volatile Organic Compounds in a person’s breath to see if they are healthy or not, researchers say, though the test will also be used alongside more traditional antigen rapid testing. In partnership with the Singapore Ministry of Health, Breathonix will first deploy its testing at the Tuas Checkpoint, which connects Singapore and Malaysia.
Breathonix’s test was previously trialed at Changi Airport, the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, and in Dubai, and the breathalyzer technology is unlikely to cause any cross-contamination, according to its founders. “Our breath test is non-invasive. Users only need to breathe out normally into the disposable mouthpiece provided, so there will not be any discomfort,” Breathonix CEO Dr. Jia Zhunan said. “Cross-contamination is unlikely as the disposable mouthpiece has a one-way valve and a saliva trap to prevent inhalation or saliva from entering the machine.” The test will likely be the fastest in the world upon its rollout and could be a gamechanger in places where fast results are necessary, including airports and borders.
The entire pharmaceutical industry spent just $83 billion on R&D in 2019. That sounds like a lot of money, but it isn’t when you look at the federal budget, even confining it just to Medicare. Indeed, there’s a serious problem here in that most of this spending is on biologics in what is called the “specialty drug” category. These are large-molecule, hard-to-make things that treat complex, rare or chronic conditions. But not too rare: Nobody will spend a billion dollars to develop a drug that only helps a thousand people at best, as the price just to cover the development expense is over a million dollars a person. The bottom line is that the system we have today has incentivized the development of large-molecule, expensive and complex drugs that are ridiculously expensive and aimed at complex and rare conditions — defined as a small body of people, but not too small.
Fall on the wrong side of the “too small” line and you get nothing. Become to easy to look at where someone will take a crack at synthesizing something simple that might work and again you get nothing. Once in a while this winds up in the news or even generates lawsuits but only when it’s a large group impacted, as was the case with Sovaldi. If it wasn’t for the wide prevalence of Hepatitis C, driven by IV drug abuse, nobody would have bothered to chase that and the drug companies know it. In addition there’s a secondary perverse incentive which is that inevitably fatal and rapidly degenerative diseases are targeted preferentially. The reason is safety standards; nobody would tolerate a headache medicine that killed 1 in 1,000 users, but a cancer medicine that does so is acceptable because without treatment you’re going to die for certain, and any chance of living is better than none.
Many drugs and other therapies developed over the last decades have, in fact, been frauds to at least some degree. It is not that they don’t work; most of them do. It is that they displace other working therapies without demonstrating a cost:benefit increment and, in many cases, wind up being more harmful that either the alternative or having no better benefit. But in every case they are more-expensive. The most-outrageous are “re-label” events such as what happened with Albuterol inhalers in which the propellant, but not the active ingredient, was changed and then it was re-patented screwing asthma sufferers out of billions of dollars. What’s happened with Covid-19 is a wildly-blinding illustration of the problems. There was an immediate target for one intervention against Covid-19 – inoculation. But inoculations take ten or more years to develop, and the reason is simply that many of the longer-term side effects take that long to find. Something that results in a negative cross-reaction with the original virus over time or other viruses in the environment cannot, in humans, be “challenge trialed” because the potential outcome is death. So all you can do is look for safety signals over a long period of time in a small number of people.
Yes, you do animal work first to identify potential threats in that realm, but you can’t be exhaustive and many viruses will not infect the animal used for testing, so your ability to screen is limited. In addition there are all manner of other things that show up that are very bad, including autoimmune disorders, and again those almost always take years to develop. Finally there is no way to reasonably do regular blood work and such on large groups; it simply costs too much money. But any such signal generated is important so you want to do those on small groups where intensive laboratory analysis can be done on each and every participant to catch any indication that a problem may be present but not instantly obvious via presented symptoms. You can’t do this across 30,000 people, say much less 150 million. But you can do it across 1,000 people and you damn well should have to for a couple of years as a risk-limiting corral when the eventual result is something you cannot take back if it turns out to be seriously harmful.
For COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), the biodistribution studies in animals were not conducted. The surrogate studies with luciferase and solid-lipid nanoparticles (Pfizer) confirm a biodistribution to the liver and other body tissues beyond the administration site . For Moderna, the biodistribution of mRNA-1647 (encoding CMV genes) formulated in a similar lipid nanoparticulate delivery system confirms a biodistribution beyond the injection site, in particular, the distribution to the lymph nodes, spleen and the eye was noted . However, the detailed tissue-specific distribution of mRNA vaccines encoding SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins (Pfizer or Moderna) is not fully known that can offer invaluable insights into the potential safety of these vaccines in people with pre-existing conditions or those on certain medications.
The detailed biodistribution data including pharmacokinetics of various CoViD vaccines were not conducted by the vaccine manufacturers because the studies demonstrating biodistribution of antigens were considered ‘not required’ by the regulatory authorities on the premise that vaccines work by an immunological response than the classic pharmacological approach. However, such an exemption may barely justify the conventional vaccines such as those incorporating whole inactivated virus, split virion, or the sub-unit vaccines, that directly attracts an immune response post-injection.
On the contrary, modern genetic vaccines work on the premise of gene delivery, therefore, a detailed biodistribution and pharmacokinetic evaluation of the formulated product is invaluable in understanding the potential impact of vaccine encoding gene transfection to various body tissues beyond the site of injection. Vaccines are one of the great discoveries in medicine that has improved life expectancy dramatically. However, if genetic vaccines were to be sustained beyond the CoViD19 pandemic, a tissue targeted approach may be the way forward to limit the antigen (the encoding gene) distribution to the intended tissues only to improve the vaccine safety profile for a global mass public rollout. In comparison, the conventional vaccine approaches (classic non-genetic formulations) have a long history of human use across much wider age groups (infants to elderly) and have an established safety profile despite the current challenges in antigen propagation and large-scale production in a timely manner using conventional methods.
“..will anyone be held responsible for the thousands who died because of the prohibition on safe treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin that have since been shown to be effective against Covid-19? ”
not only did the doom and gloom predicted by the lockdown fanatics fail to materialize, but the steady, seasonal downward trend of the virus toward extinction continued regardless of government action. As we have repeated for a year on the Liberty Report, the virus was going to virus regardless of anything we did about it. And Texas proved it. However, some very important questions remain to be answered as the Covid panic across the United States is finally starting to recede. First, will anyone be held responsible for the thousands who died because of the prohibition on safe treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin that have since been shown to be effective against Covid-19?
As soon as Donald Trump mentioned that hydroxychloroquine might be effective against the virus, the “experts” circled the wagons. It was banned for use, until it later was quietly un-banned. The politicization of medicine is anti-science, anti-human, and anti-American. Will those who needlessly died due to this politicization finally get their justice? Second, though Abbott deserves credit for taking the bold step, shouldn’t he be held accountable for closing the state in the first place? After all, when someone has been punching you in the face and then they stop, do you thank them for letting up or do you ask why they punched you in the first place? Will all the tyrannical rule-by-decree orders across the United States be stricken from the books?
Or will they just be allowed to do this again for any reason they choose? Third, thanks to Senator Rand Paul, we are now all aware of Dr. Fauci’s role in funding gain-of-function research on viruses in China. Will we be able to find out exactly why we are being forced to pay for the mad scientist research into how to create more deadly viruses? Can we opt-out of this funding?
Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said Monday that there is growing circumstantial evidence suggesting that COVID-19 may have originated in a lab and not in nature. CNBC’s “Squawk Box” co-host Rebecca Quick asked Gottlieb what he made of a Wall Street Journal article published Sunday that said three employees at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had sought hospital treatment for flu-like symptoms around the same time COVID-19 began to emerge in China. “I think the challenge right now is that the side of the ledger that supports the thesis that this came from a zoonotic source, from an animal source, hasn’t budged. And the side of the ledger that suggests this could have come out of a lab has continued to grow,” said Gottlieb, who left the FDA in April 2019 and now sits on the board of Pfizer.
“People a year ago who said this probably came from nature, it’s really unlikely it came from a lab, maybe a year ago that kind of a statement made a lot of sense because that was the more likely scenario,” Gottlieb added. He said the source of COVID-19 has yet to be identified and noted that the origins of related diseases were usually identified at this point following the initial outbreak. “It’s not for lack of trying. There has been an exhaustive search,” Gottlieb said of COVID-19. “I don’t think we’re ever going to get to the bottom of this,” he added. “Because unless we have a whistleblower — assuming it did come out of a lab, and I’m not saying it did, but assuming it did — unless we have a whistleblower or a regime change in China, you’re not going to truly find out.”
The news business just can’t stop clowning itself. The latest indignity is an international fact-checking debacle originating, of all places, at a “festival of fact-checking.” The Poynter Institute is perhaps the most respected think tank in our business, an organization seeking to “fortify journalism’s role in a free society,” among other things through its sponsorship of the fact-checking outlet PolitiFact. A few weeks back, it held a virtual convention called the “United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking.” The three-day event featured special guests Christiane Amanpour, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Brian Stelter, and Senator Mark Warner — a lineup of fact “stars” whose ironic energy recalled the USO’s telethon-execution of Terrance and Phillip before the invasion of Canada in South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. Tickets were $50, but if you wanted a “private virtual happy hour” with Stelter, you needed to pay $100 for the “VIP Experience.”
During the confab, PolitiFact’s Katie Sanders asked Fauci, “Are you still confident that [Covid-19] developed naturally?” To which the convivial doctor answered, “No, I’m not convinced of that,” going on to say “we” should continue to investigate all hypotheses about how the pandemic began: Conservatives in particular were quick to point out that Fauci last year said, “Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.” At that time last May, of course, the issue of the pandemic’s origin had already long since been politicized, with Donald Trump’s administration anxious to point a finger at China for causing the disaster. Mike Pompeo went so far as to say there was “enormous evidence” the disease had been created at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Fauci was touted as a hero for pushing back on this and many other things.
Fauci’s new quote about not being “convinced” that Covid-19 has natural origins, however, is part of what’s becoming a rather ostentatious change of heart within officialdom about the viability of the so-called “lab origin” hypothesis. Through 2020, officials and mainstream press shut down most every discussion on that score. Reporters were heavily influenced by a group letter signed by 27 eminent virologists in the Lancet last February in which the authors said they “strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” and also by a Nature Medicine letter last March saying, “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct.”
The consensus was so strong that some well-known voices saw social media accounts suspended or closed for speculating about Covid-19 having a “lab origin.” One of those was University of Hong Kong virologist Dr. Li-Meng Yan, who went on Tucker Carlson’s show last September 15th to say “[Covid-19] is a man-made virus created in the lab.” After that appearance, PolitiFact — Poynter’s PolitiFact — gave the statement its dreaded “Pants on Fire” rating.
A retired New York Times science editor has slammed the mainstream media for ignoring the possibility that coronavirus leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan and accused journalists of falling for ‘Chinese propaganda’ instead of doing their own research. Nicholas Wade, who penned a 1,100-word article examining the link entitled ‘The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?’ earlier this month, took aim at top news outlets in a Fox News interview on Sunday night. He claimed the media mainstream media failed to ‘take off its political glasses’ to investigate the virus’ origins, the facts of which, he said, are being obscured by the Chinese Communist Party.
Wade’s remarks come as more scientists and political officials are coming forward to support the theory that the virus may have been developed in a Chinese laboratory and was covered up – after scoffing at the idea for much of the past year in part because it was pushed by then-President Donald Trump. Among the top officials now speculating that possibility is Dr Anthony Fauci, who recently said he’s ‘not convinced’ the virus formed naturally after repeated statements to the contrary. The case for a lab leak was strengthened on Sunday when a previously-undisclosed US intelligence report revealed three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) sought hospital care in November 2019 – months before China disclosed the COVID-19 outbreak.
‘I think we see a sustained Chinese propaganda effort at work,’ Wade, who served as the staff writer for the Science Times section of the New York Times from 1982 to 2012, told Mark Levin on Life, Liberty & Levin. ‘But, you know, more than that, it was just the blindness, if I could put it that way, of our media — we’re too polarized to see scientific issues for their own sake without putting a political gloss on them,’ he continued. ‘We don’t know for sure: The origin of the virus is just we’ve got these two possible scenarios. But if you look at all the evidence and ask yourself, well, which scenario explains all these facts better on present evidence, it seems, to me at least, that the lab-escape hypothesis explains it a lot better. ‘But it’s a sort of complicated conclusion to arrive at, and I can only assume that the media was blindsided, they didn’t do the work that was necessary.’
Project Veritas has obtained internal documents from Facebook whistleblowers detailing the social media platform’s efforts to censor COVID-19 vaccine concerns. Two of the Facebook insiders have come forward with leaked company documents detailing the Big Tech giant’s plan to curb and police “vaccine hesitancy” (VH) worldwide through surreptitious “comment demotion.” “They’re trying to control this content before it even makes it onto your page before you even see it,” one of the Facebook insiders said to Project Veritas. “If I lose my job, it’s like, what do I do? But that’s less of a concern to me.” The stated goal of the global feature is to “reduce user exposure” to VH comments. Another aim of the program is to “decrease” other engagement of VH comments including “create, likes, reports [and] replies,” according to Project Veritas.
One of the Facebook whistleblowers said the company uses a tier system to rank and determine how comments should be censored or buried. This is all based on how much the statements question or caution against the COVID-19 vaccination. Tier 2, for instance, represents “Indirect Discouragement” of getting vaccinated. User comments such as these would be “suppressed,” Project Veritas reported. Comments that include “shocking stories” that describe what could be true events or facts that can raise safety concerns are demoted. Any of the such that raises concern about coronavirus vaccinations are fair game to be demoted and hidden, according to the source, despite authenticity or capacity to contribute to the public good. “I have to do something,” one of the Facebook insiders said.
It doesn’t matter if the comments are true, factual, or represent reality. The comment is demoted, buried, and hidden from public view if it clashes with the system. “It doesn’t match the narrative,” one source explained. “The narrative being, get the vaccine, the vaccine is good for you. Everyone should get it. And if you don’t, you will be singled out.” One of the insiders, a data center technician, showed documentation detailing an algorithm test being run on 1.5 percent of Facebook and Instagram’s almost 3.8 billion users worldwide. “They’re trying to control this content before it even makes it onto your page before you even see it,” one insider said.
Up to now, there have been two leading approaches. The first is the FCC’s current model for funding internet builds. Many consumers are unaware that the federal government collects roughly $9 billion a year through a tax on their monthly bills for traditional telephone service—both wireless and wireline. The FCC then uses that pot of money, known as the Universal Service Fund, to support internet builds in rural areas and on other efforts to close the digital divide. This model made sense when Congress established it back in 1996. But it is now hopelessly outdated. The dominant platform for communications has shifted from the telephone network to the internet.
Indeed, the revenue base associated with the traditional telephone network has fallen sharply from a peak of around $80 billion in the 2000s to less than $30 billion today as more and more services—including those now offered by Big Tech—are delivered over the internet instead. Yet we continue to rely on that shrinking base of revenues from the telephone network to fund the broadband network. This is like taxing horseshoes to pay for highways. This antiquated system is on the verge of collapse. The FCC has kept it on life support by increasing the tax on consumers’ telephone bills at an accelerating clip. Indeed, that tax recently surged above 30 percent for the first time. This is not sustainable; relying on this model to fund additional infrastructure would strain the system well past its breaking point.
Big Tech has been enjoying a free ride on our internet infrastructure while skipping out on the billions of dollars in costs needed to maintain and build that network. Indeed, one study shows that the online streaming services provided by just five companies—Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Microsoft—account for a whopping 75 percent of all traffic on rural broadband networks. The same study shows that 77-94 percent of total network costs are related to adding capacity or otherwise supporting the delivery of those streaming services. Ordinary Americans, not Big Tech, have been footing the bill for those costs. Yet Big Tech derives tremendous value from these high-speed networks. Indeed, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google generated nearly $1 trillion in revenues in 2020 alone—an almost 20 percent increase over the prior year.
It would take just 0.009 percent of those revenues to eliminate entirely the unsustainable 30 percent tax that currently hits consumers on their monthly bills. Ending this corporate welfare is more than fair. It is consistent with the network compact that has prevailed since the earliest days of the Ma Bell telephone network. Historically, the businesses that derived the greatest benefit from a communications network paid the lion’s share of the costs. For instance, the fees that businesses paid for local and long-distance calls provided the key funding stream to build the traditional telephone network.
There is little doubt that the forced landing of this plane by Belarus, with the clear intention to arrest Protasevich, is illegal under numerous conventions and treaties governing air space. Any forced landing of a jet carries dangers, and safe international air travel would be impossible if countries could force planes flying with permission over their air space to land in order to seize passengers who might be on board. This act by Belarus merits all the condemnation it is receiving. Yet news accounts in the West which are depicting this incident as some sort of unprecedented assault on legal conventions governing air travel and basic decency observed by law-abiding nations are whitewashing history. Attempts from U.S. officials such as Blinken and E.U. bureaucrats in Brussels to cast the Belarusians’ behavior as some sort of rogue deviation unthinkable for any law-respecting democracy are particularly galling and deceitful.
In 2013, the U.S. and key E.U. states pioneered the tactic just used by Lukashenko. They did so as part of a failed scheme to detain and arrest the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. That incident at the time caused global shock and outrage precisely because, eight years ago, it was truly an unprecedented assault on the values and conventions they are now invoking to condemn Belarus. In July of that year, the democratically elected President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, had traveled to Russia for a routine international conference attended by countries which export natural gas. At the time of Morales’ trip, Edward Snowden was in the middle of a bizarre five-week ordeal where he was stranded in the international transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, unable to board a flight to leave Russia or exit the airport to enter Russia.
On June 23, Hong Kong officials rejected a demand from the U.S. Government that they arrest Snowden and hand him over to the U.S. Hong Kong was the city Snowden chose to meet the two journalists he had selected (one of whom was me) because of what he regarded as the city’s noble history of fighting against repression and for independence and free expression. When announcing their refusal to hand over Snowden, Hong Kong officials issued a remarkably defiant, even mocking statement explaining that Snowden had been permitted to leave Hong Kong “on his own accord.” That statement also accused the U.S. of having issued a legally improper and inaccurate extradition demand which they were duty-bound to reject, and then pointedly noted that the real crime requiring investigation was U.S. spying on the populations of the rest of the world.
Snowden thus left Hong Kong that day with the intent to fly to Moscow, then immediately board a flight to Cuba, and then proceed to his ultimate destination in a Latin American country — Bolivia or Ecuador — in order to seek asylum there. But even after then-President Barack Obama denied that the U.S. Government would be “wheeling and dealing” in order to get Snowden into U.S. custody — “I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” he dismissively claimed during a June press conference — the U.S. Government was, in reality, doing everything in its power to prevent Snowden from evading the clutches of the U.S. Government.
Led by then-Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. officials warned every country in both Europe and South America said to be considering shelter for Snowden of grave consequences should they offer asylum to the whistleblower. Threats to Havana caused the Cuban government to rescind its commitment of safe passage they had issued to Snowden’s lawyer. Under Biden’s pressure, Ecuador also reversed itself by proclaiming the safe passage document issued to Snowden was a mistake.
Population Scotland 5.5 million. Covid Deaths over 10 months: 596.
“..vaccinating children is not appropriate at this time because putting even a few children at risk of unknown side effects is not worth the protection it will afford them against a disease they say is not dangerous to children.”
Some 100 medical professionals have expressed opposition to vaccinating children with the coronavirus vaccine and separating between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. “We believe there is no room for vaccinating children at this time [due to] caution, modesty, the understanding that ‘haste is from the devil’; the recognition that we do not understand everything about the virus and the vaccine against it; and the first commandment of medicine: ‘First, do not harm,’” they said in a letter to the Health Ministry on Sunday. They acknowledged that the Pfizer vaccine has prevented serious coronavirus infection and mortality in children. But they said children do not usually experience severe symptoms from the coronavirus, and the long-term possible side effects of the vaccine, even if rare, would only be known after years of study.
It is also unclear how long immunity from the vaccine lasts, which variants it works against, how often booster shots will be needed and what the far-reaching implications of the periodic immunization on the immune system and the evolution of the virus could be, they wrote. The prevailing view among the scientific community is that the vaccine cannot lead to herd immunity, meaning there is no justification for vaccinating children, they added. Some Israeli health officials have said the vaccination campaign has provided Israel with herd immunity in recent weeks. The authors of the letter said vaccinating children is not appropriate at this time because putting even a few children at risk of unknown side effects is not worth the protection it will afford them against a disease they say is not dangerous to children.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has staunchly rejected the use of Covid passports to reopen travel in a meeting of its emergency committee, over concerns that vaccinations alone won’t prevent the transmission of the virus. Reiterating their previously stated position on Monday, the WHO’s Emergency Committee said it opposed the use of proof of vaccination documents as a condition of international travel due to the lack of evidence over the impact of vaccination on the transmission of coronavirus. The WHO’s declaration comes amid alarm from the group over “the persistent inequity in global vaccine distribution”, with the international health body stating that Covid passports would only further promote unequal freedom of movement.
Instead, the WHO has recommended that countries impose quarantine measures for international travellers and introduce “coordinated, time-limited, risk-based and evidence-based approaches for health measures.” Concerns about the inequality that would be caused by the use of Covid passports has been sparked by wealthier nations snapping up vaccines, while poorer countries have been left without enough doses to effectively vaccinate their population. The WHO has described this growing divide between national vaccine rollouts as a “moral outrage” and “catastrophic moral failure”, demanding world leaders support a more equitable distribution of vaccines.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: "It took me a few weeks, March and into April, to get enough data to say okay, you know, we're not doing Fauciism. We're gonna make sure our state's open. We're gonna get the kids back into school, and we'll just focus our protection on elderly people." pic.twitter.com/zFL7KQq4WN
A consistent global approach to the Covid-19 pandemic could bring it under control before the end of the year, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said, despite a record week for Covid-19 infections. “We have the tools to bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months, if we apply them consistently and equitably,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing on Monday. The WHO chief also said the total number of new Covid-19 cases in the past seven days had increased for the eighth consecutive week, with a record 5.2 million infections reported.
“Big numbers can make us numb,” Ghebreyesus said, as he urged people not to forget that each death from the virus is a “tragedy” for families and communities. He also highlighted the “alarming” increase in infections and hospitalizations among those aged 25 to 59, “possibly” due to highly transmissible newer variants and the increased social mixing of younger generations. On Monday, the WHO’s emergency committee gave Ghebreyesus its advice on vaccines, variants, and international travel, among other coronavirus issues. The panel pushed back against Covid vaccine passport schemes, citing a lack of evidence that the jabs prevent transmission as well as ongoing global inequalities when it comes to getting hold of vaccine doses.
Citing “unprecedented risk” from the Covid-19 pandemic, the State Department is urging Americans to reconsider going abroad and is updating its travel advisory to the highest, Level 4 warning for most of the planet. On Monday, Foggy Bottom announced that it will be updating the travel advisory during the week, to “better reflect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) science-based Travel Health Notices,” which will result in the number of places at Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory to increase to “approximately 80% of countries worldwide.” The change does not imply a judgment on the current health situation in any given country, the State Department explained, but an “adjustment” in the travel advisory system to “rely more on CDC’s existing epidemiological assessments” and reflect “logistical factors” such as the availability of testing.
There are currently only 34 countries with a Level 4 travel warning, including war zones such as Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen; US-sanctioned countries like Venezuela, North Korea, Myanmar, Cuba and Russia; coronavirus-stricken Brazil and Argentina, and a number of African countries. The updated guidelines seem to be based on the CDC’s advisory published on Monday. Unvaccinated people are advised to delay or cancel any international travel. Americans who have completed immunization with FDA-approved vaccines are still considered “at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new [Covid-19] variants,” the CDC says.
“The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.”
The British scientist James Lovelock who helped model conditions on Mars for NASA so it would have a better idea how to build the first probes to land there, is still ridiculed for the Gaia hypothesis he developed in the 1970s. He understood that our planet was best not viewed as a very large lump of rock with life-forms living on it, though distinct from it. Rather Earth was as a complete, endlessly complex, delicately balanced living entity. Over billions of years, life had grown more sophisticated, but each species, from the most primitive to the most advanced, was vital to the whole, maintaining a harmony that sustained the diversity. Few listened to Lovelock. Our god-complex got the better of us. And now, as the bees and other insects disappear, everything he warned of decades ago seems far more urgent.
Through our arrogance, we are destroying the conditions for advanced life. If we don’t stop soon, the planet will dispose of us and return to an earlier stage of its evolution. It will begin again, without us, as simple flora and microbes once again begin recreating gradually – measured in aeons – the conditions favourable to higher life forms. But the abusive, mechanistic relationship we have with our planet is mirrored by the one we have with our bodies and our health. Dualism has encouraged us to think of our bodies as fleshy vehicles, which like the metal ones need regular outside intervention, from a service to a respray or an upgrade. The pandemic has only served to underscore these unwholesome tendencies. In part, the medical establishment, like all establishments, has been corrupted by the desire for power and enrichment.
Science is not some pristine discipline, free from real-world pressures. Scientists need funding for research, they have mortgages to pay, and they crave status and career advancement like everyone else. Kamran Abbasi, executive editor of the British Medical Journal, wrote an editorial last November warning of British state corruption that had been unleashed on a grand scale by covid-19. But it was not just politicians responsible. Scientists and health experts had been implicated too: “The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency.” He added: “The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.”
Announcing a series of anti-Russian measures – incorrectly called “sanctions” – last week, President Joe Biden claimed Moscow is engaging in “efforts to undermine the conduct of free and fair democratic elections and democratic institutions in the United States and its allies and partners.” Look, here’s the deal – to borrow a phrase from Biden himself – the only one doing the delegitimizing here are Americans themselves. It wasn’t ‘Russia’ that declared the 2020 election was the “most secure… in American history.” It wasn’t the Kremlin that claimed absolutely nothing had gone wrong with any votes anywhere, and anyone so much as wondering about it was evil and ought to be silenced – it was the corporate media and Biden’s Democrats. And it wasn’t VK or Telegram that rushed to do the silencing, but the very American-owned Facebook, Twitter and Google.
It’s not Russia, either, that’s currently engaged in a push to “reimagine” US politics, elections and the very system of government. That would actually be… Biden and his own party, the Democrats. The 800-page HR1, or “For The People” Act, would fundamentally transform US elections, expanding universal mail-in ballots, mandating automatic voter registration and California-style ballot harvesting, banning voter ID or updating voter rolls, taking from states the authority to draw congressional districts – and if you try challenging it in court, narrowly defines how it can be done to the point where it’s practically impossible. Just to be sure, the Democrats are now proposing to pack – “expand,” in their parlance – the US Supreme Court.
They want to appoint another four justices, and bring the ratio from the current 6:3 in favor of (nominal) ‘conservatives’ to a 7:6 ‘liberal’ majority. Never mind the SCOTUS has been the Nine since 1869, and when FDR – the closest thing to the American Caesar so far – had tried to expand the court in 1937, his own party repudiated him and refused to do so. Don’t forget the initiative to give statehood to Washington, DC – explicitly prohibited by the US Constitution – that would guarantee Democrats two more seats in the Senate. Or the fact that, asked if he would run in 2024, Biden himself said he isn’t really thinking about it and adding, “I have no idea if there will be a Republican Party. Do you?”
A major intercept incident between Russia and US-NATO allied aircraft has occurred over the far northern Barents Sea on Monday. “A Russian fighter jet on Monday reportedly intercepted and escorted US and Norwegian patrol aircraft,” The Hill reports. “The Russian Defense Ministry said the incident over the body of water near Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia involved a MiG-31 fighter jet,” it continued, based on initial reporting by Russia’s state-run RIA news agency. NATO member Norway shares a far northern small section of Arctic border with Russia, thus the region of the Barents Sea has always been a highly sensitive defense sector for the Kremlin, for which it keeps fighter jets at Arctic bases at ‘the ready’.
It comes as tensions are still soaring over Ukraine, and after last week a Russia MiG-31 had intercepted a US spy plane near Russia’s far northeast Kamchatka Peninsula over the Pacific Ocean. Moscow has also recently denounced the US Air Force’s additional longrange bomber presence in Norway, out of which recent missions have flown over the Baltic and North seas in a ‘message’ to Russia.
The US military has deteriorated to the point that the only way it could win a simulated war game in which it was called on to defend Taiwan from a ‘Chinese invasion’ force was by inventing capabilities it does not yet possess. In 2018 and 2019, the US Air Force conducted detailed simulated war games that had its forces square off against those of China. On both occasions, the US was decisively defeated, the first time challenging the Chinese in the South China Sea, and the second time defending Taiwan – which China sees as an integral part of its territory – against a Chinese invasion. In 2020, the US repeated the Taiwan scenario, and won – but only barely. The difference? In both 2018 and 2019, it played with the resources it had on hand.
Last year, it gave itself a host of new technologies and capabilities that are either not in production or aren’t even planned for development. In short, the exercise was as far removed from reality as it could get. The fact is the US can only successfully defend Taiwan from a full-scale Chinese invasion in its dreams. What the current war games underscored is that, as currently configured, equipped, and deployed, the US Air Force lacks the required combination of lethality and sustainability necessary to wage full-scale conventional conflict against a peer-level foe. The mix of aircraft currently in the US Air Force inventory was unable to ‘compete’ in the war game – even the current model of F-35 was excluded as not being up to the task of fighting and surviving against the Chinese military.
[..] Today, with the political decision having been made to depart Afghanistan, and a similar decision being brooded regarding Iraq and its corollary conflict, Syria, the US military is a fundamentally broken institution. It lost its ‘forever wars’ in the Middle East and Southwest Asia by not winning. As such, the senior leadership at the helm of the US military has been conditioned to accept defeat as de rigueur; it comes with the territory, a reality explained away by lying – either to yourself, your superiors, or both. Too many successful careers were created on the backs of lies repackaged as truth, of defeats sold as victories, as deficits portrayed as assets. In many ways, the recently concluded US Air Force war game is a byproduct of this psychosis – an exercise in self-delusion, in which reality is replaced by a fictional world where everything works as planned, even if it does not exist.
The US Air Force cannot wage a successful war against China today. Nor can it do so against Russia. Its ability to sustain a successful air campaign against either Iran or North Korea is likewise questionable. This is the kind of reality that would, in a world where facts mattered, cost a lot of senior people their jobs, in uniform and out. The culpability of this systemic incompetence is so widespread, however, that there can be no serious accounting for what has transpired. Instead, the US Air Force, having been confronted by the reality of its shortcomings, ‘invents’ a victory. In and of itself, this ‘victory’ is meaningless. If China were to invade Taiwan, there is literally nothing short of employing nuclear weapons the US could do to stop it. But by ‘beating’ China using fictional resources, the US Air Force has created a blueprint of procurement that will define its budgetary requests for the next decade.
As I warned in last week’s article on Archegos and Credit Suisse, investment banks have created a timebomb with the $1.5 quadrillion derivatives monster. A few years ago, the BIS (Bank of International Settlement) in Basel reduced the $1.5 quadrillion to $600 trillion with a pen stroke. But the real gross figure was still $1.5q at the time. According to my sources, the real figure today is probably over $2 quadrillion. A major part of the outstanding derivatives are OTC (over the counter) and hidden in off balance sheet special purpose vehicles. The $30 billion in Archegos derivatives that went up in smoke over a weekend is just the tip of the iceberg. The hedge fund Archegos lost everything and the normal uber-leveraged players Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Nomura etc lost at least $30 billion.
These investment banks are making casino bets that they can’t afford to lose. What their boards and top management don’t realise or understand is that the traders, supported by easily manipulated risk managers, are betting the bank on a daily basis. Most of these ludicrously high bets are in the derivatives market. The management doesn’t understand how they work or what the risks are and the account managers and traders can bet billions on a daily basis with no skin in the game but massive potential upside if nothing goes wrong. But we are now entering an era when things will go wrong. The leverage is just too high and the bets totally out of proportion to the equity. Just take the notorious Deutsche Bank (DB) that has outstanding derivatives of €37 trillion against total equity of €62 billion.
Thus the derivatives position is 600X the equity. Or to put it in a different way, the equity is 0.17% of the outstanding derivatives. So a loss of 0.2% on the derivatives will wipe the share capital and the bank out! Now the DB risk managers will argue that the net derivatives position is just a fraction of the €37 trillion at €20 billion. That is of course nonsense as we saw with Archegos when a few banks let $30 billion over a weekend. Derivatives can only be netted down on the basis that counterparties pay up. But in a real systemic crisis, counterparties will disappear and gross exposure will remain gross. So all that netting doesn’t stand up to real scrutiny. But it is typical for today’s casino banking world when depositors, shareholders and governments take all the downside risk and the management all the upside.
Former police officer Chauvin is charged with Murder 2, Murder 3, and Manslaughter all predicated on varying degrees of intention and recklessness in the death of George Floyd, the internationally acclaimed saint-of-oppressed-peoples who died under Mr. Chauvin’s knee in an indelible video shared ‘round the world last May. The video has the status of a religious icon, portraying, as it seems to, the vivid distillation of the black experience in America: pure, unalloyed, hateful, murderous subjugation. The trouble is what’s not in the indelible picture: Mr. Floyd’s prodigious ingestion of the world’s hardest narcotic, fentanyl, at a level likely to cause death, plus methedrine, plus THC, on top of a 90-percent blockage of a coronary artery, and other cardiopathies, and Covid-19, all according to the official medical examiner.
Also, as it happened in the instance of his arrest, Mr. Floyd was failing to follow police instructions, and acting dangerously deranged — behavior apt to lead to police restraint, under which he died, rest his soul. So, now it will be left to the jury to sort all this out, under the threat of getting “doxed” (having their home addresses disclosed) by the Black Lives Matter org, as well as following the $27-million lawsuit settlement on the Floyd family for “wrongful death” by the Minneapolis City Council before the trial commenced — not exactly a propitious lead-in for a fair outcome. One might even view the public expressions of black opinion leaders and politicians as coercive — but then coercion is the animating spirit of liberal Wokery, the wish and the will to punish at all costs.
In any case, the fine spring weather around the country invites the young and energetic to caper angrily in the streets after a harsh winter of lockdowns. The mobs will turn out, things will burn, businesses will get looted (and destroyed), and people will get hurt. So it will be for two reasons: groups of people follow social scripts and societies give tacit permission for the acting-out of feelings — in this case, feelings of grievance that demand retribution and vengeance. What’s actually at issue here is whether black people in America really want to join with the other ethnic groups present in the land in a national common culture — that is, a consensus about behavior, ceremonies, and manners — or would rather opt out of it, oppose it, or violently destroy what’s left of it.
A study between multiple universities has revisited the link between blood sugar and appetite, and found the relationship is far more complex than previously understood, yielding new insights on how to tame persistent hunger. The researchers examined blood sugar responses and other indicators from 1,070 participants in the UK and the US, sourcing data from the PREDICT (Personalised REsponses to DIetary Composition Trial) nutrition research project. The volunteers ate standardised breakfasts, after which they were free to choose their remaining meals throughout the remainder of the day, observing a fasting window for three hours after breakfast. They continuously wore blood glucose monitors and recorded what and when they ate each day using a phone app, along with their self-reported hunger levels, over the study period of two weeks.
The researchers discovered that dips in blood glucose levels, aka “sugar dips,” were significantly linked with appetite levels and energy intake/calorie consumption. Participants with big blood sugar dips experienced a nine percent increase in appetite, consumed their second meal of the day half an hour sooner, and posted an overall average consumption of 300 calories more throughout the course of the day, than those who didn’t experience these sugar dips. The research shows “great potential for helping people understand and control their weight and long-term health,” says senior author and genetic epidemiologist Ana Valdes from the University of Nottingham. “Many people struggle to lose weight and keep it off, and just a few hundred extra calories every day can add up to several pounds of weight gain over a year.”
He deals with torture victims on a daily basis, so he is not easily shocked by abuses. And yet, he says, he is ‘speechless’ when it comes to the case of Julian Assange. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, has just published a book in German: “Der Fall Julian Assange”, which reconstructs his investigation based on exclusive documents. He tells Il Fatto Quotidiano what he has discovered and what he thinks is likely to happen. What made a Special Rapporteur on Torture work on the Assange case and write a book on it?
“When Julian Assange was still at the embassy in December 2018, his legal team actually reached out to my office. I remember it was just before Christmas, I saw this message pop up on my screen and I swiped it away immediately. I had this intuitive reaction: what does that guy want? He’s a rapist, a narcissist, a hacker, this isn’t serious, so I just discarded it. I have around 15 requests per day, and I can do one, it’s very routine for me to decide quickly, but I remember those negative emotions I had, that I usually don’t have. Three months later his lawyers came back to me in March 2019, and they also sent me Dr. Sondra Crosby’s medical assessment. And I knew Dr. Crosby was a big name as an independent medical expert, who was not associated with Assange activists.
I read these objective assessments by Dr. Crosby, by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, I also read an article by James Goodale the Pentagon Papers man. I realised that I had strong prejudices against Assange, even though it’s my profession as a Human Rights expert to be objective. I started investigating further, scratching the surface of this case. The deeper I got into the case, the more dirt and contradictions came to the light. I also knew that I could not rely on information in the media and in the press, because that’s precisely the source that had deceived me in the first place. To be objective, I had to go visit him in prison, and, to be sure, I took not one medical doctor, but even two medical doctors with me, who are independent from each other and are not employed by the UN; they work as external experts for the International Criminal Court, the International Committee of the Red Cross and so on.
We spent 4 hours with Julian Assange, I spoke to him for one hour, and the forensic expert had one hour for a physical examination, and the psychiatrist did a two-hour psychiatric examination. Each medical examination was done separately from the other, so they wouldn’t influence each other. All three of us at the end compared our conclusions and agreed that he showed all the signs that are typical of victims of psychological torture. I must admit that I didn’t expect such a clear result. I reported back to the involved governments by the end of May. I was convinced Julian Assange had been deliberately persecuted and kept in a legal limbo in Sweden, in the US, in the UK and everywhere to put him under pressure and to make him crack. It was done very publicly, in order to make an example of him, to scare other investigative journalists. The message was: ‘If you expose our dirty secrets, this is what is going to happen to you, and no one can protect you. We can violate your rights every day the way we want and no one can do anything about it.’
[..] When you visited him, he told you: Please, save my life. What does he have in common with other victims of torture? “Torture is used for a wide range of purposes. There is the classic context of interrogations, the other one is torture to intimidate, like when they come to a village and they rape a woman in the village square, in front of everybody, it’s not as much to punish her, as it is to intimidate the population. That’s a very common purpose of torture, even more common than interrogation, and that’s what they are doing with Assange. In a modern democratic society they are not doing it by flogging, but they are doing it using the psychological method, by excluding him from society, by defaming him, by humiliating him in the media, in the press. Think of the witch trials in the 17th century, when those women were stripped naked and paraded around the city and everyone spat at them, that’s a bit what they are doing with Assange.
I see thirty days of more hysterical clickbaiting in your future. Trump’s trip outside Walter Reed may not have been risk-free, but you need to steamroller over his entire medical team at the hospital, and claim they are irresponsible frauds or something like that, to turn it into the murderous rampage that the MSM make it.
Here’s a bit of humor about it from Twitter. Please lighten up a little.
With so-called experts alleging the President is either incapacitated due to his medication or on death’s door due to oxygen levels, alongside Friday’s media speculation that enemies of America could take advantage, Trump’s drive-by was good for US national security.
President Trump could be discharged from Walter Reed Medical Center to finish his COVID-19 treatment from the White House, a doctor announced during a press conference on Sunday. “In response to transient low oxygen levels as Dr. Conley has discussed, we did initiate dexamethasone therapy and he received his first dose of that yesterday. And our plan is to continue that for the time being,” that doctor said. President Trump’s physician Dr. Sean Conley expressed that he wished to “reiterate how pleased we all are with the president’s recovery.” Conley explained that on Friday morning when the president’s “oxygen saturation was transiently dipping below 94 percent,” he suggested that the president take oxygen.
“He was fairly adamant that he didn’t need it. He was not short of breath. He was tired, had the fever, and that was about it,” Conley explained, noting that following approximately a minute of oxygen the president’s levels had risen and that the president remained on the oxygen for around one hour. Conley also said that the president’s oxygen level on Saturday dipped but eventually rose. He noted that the president is not experiencing shortness of breath.
A study of more than a half-million people in India who were exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 suggests that the virus’ continued spread is driven by only a small percentage of those who become infected. Furthermore, children and young adults were found to be potentially much more important to transmitting the virus — especially within households — than previous studies have identified, according to a paper by researchers from the United States and India published Sept. 30 in the journal Science.
Researchers from the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Berkeley, worked with public health officials in the southeast Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to track the infection pathways and mortality rate of 575,071 individuals who were exposed to 84,965 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. It is the largest contact tracing study — which is the process of identifying people who came into contact with an infected person — conducted in the world for any disease.
Lead researcher Ramanan Laxminarayan, a senior research scholar in PEI, said that the paper is the first large study to capture the extraordinary extent to which SARS-CoV-2 hinges on “superspreading,” in which a small percentage of the infected population passes the virus on to more people. The researchers found that 71% of infected individuals did not infect any of their contacts, while a mere 8% of infected individuals accounted for 60% of new infections. “Our study presents the largest empirical demonstration of superspreading that we are aware of in any infectious disease,” Laxminarayan said. “Superspreading events are the rule rather than the exception when one is looking at the spread of COVID-19, both in India and likely in all affected places.”
The findings provide extensive insight into the spread and deadliness of COVID-19 in countries such as India — which has experienced more than 96,000 deaths from the disease — that have a high incidence of resource-limited populations, the researchers reported. They found that coronavirus-related deaths in India occurred, on average, six days after hospitalization compared to an average of 13 days in the United States. Also, deaths from coronavirus in India have been concentrated among people aged 50-64, which is slightly younger than the 60-plus at-risk population in the United States.
The typical reaction to the death of a tyrant — whether by revolutionary violence or natural causes — is not one of grief and sadness but joyous celebration. It is not hard to understand why: when a nation and its oppressed citizenry are finally liberated from the suffocating, savage grip of fascist dictatorship, they feel joy for themselves, their families and the future of their nation. Yet in the U.S., a radically different dynamic is playing out. Over the past several years, but particularly in the months heading into the 2020 election, it has become extremely common for prominent Democrats and their media allies to refer to President Trump as a dictator, a fascist, a tyrant hellbent on destroying U.S. democracy, a genocidal racist, and even a Nazi.
And yet, the overwhelming reaction in those mainstream precincts to the news that the fascist dictator has contracted a potentially lethal virus is to hope and pray that he makes a speedy recovery whereby he can resume his democracy-destroying, genocidal, tyrannical, fascist rule. In March of last year, as CNN put it, “two powerful House Democrats invoked Adolf Hitler’s actions in Germany and the treatment of Jews during World War I and in the 1920s to warn against the direction the US is moving in, with both saying Donald Trump’s presidency presents an unprecedented threat to democracy.” One of the Democratic lawmakers who explicitly invoked Nazism and Hitler as the proper prism to understand Trump’s rule was House Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina.
Just two months ago, Clyburn went back on CNN and warned that Trump was preparing to hold despotic power even if he loses, pronouncing: “I feel very strongly that he is Mussolini, Putin is Hitler.” Yet when Clyburn learned this week that our modern-day Hitler who is on the precipice of ending democracy had contracted a fatal virus, he did not celebrate but instead, for some reason, lamented the news, wishing “the First Family a speedy and complete recovery.” Why would you possibly wish a speedy recovery — rather than a quick demise — to someone you believe is a Hitler-like perpetrator of genocide whose recovery would enable fascism to continue? That seems counter-intuitive and counter-productive.
MSNBC star Rachel Maddow [..] has notoriously spent the last four years manically obsessed with the claim that Trump has such a corrupt relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin that it is the Kremlin, thanks to Trump, which secretly runs the U.S. and is using that power to plot harm to large numbers of Americans by, for instance, seizing the power to cut off their heat in the dead of winter. Maddow was explicitly linking Trump to classic fascism as early as 2015. Yet upon learning that the fascist, Kremlin-controlled, Nazi-like dictator had become ill, Maddow launched a one-woman crusade demanding that her fellow liberals pray earnestly for his recovery. She first posted an extremely effusive tweet: “God bless the president and the first lady. If you pray, please pray for their speedy and complete recovery…”
[..] Whatever else is true, their behavior upon hearing that someone they claim to regard as a genocidal racist fascist tyrant has contracted a fatal virus is extremely unusual when compared to how people throughout history react when learning of similar news. It is worth interrogating what accounts for such a baffling dynamic.
The Supreme Court on Monday will commence a new term with just eight justices following September death of the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, though the void could soon be filled if Senate Republicans confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the high court. Barrett’s confirmation would mark the third Trump appointee to the nine-member court during the president’s less than four years occupying the Oval Office. The Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 . Though the first vacancy arose during President Barack Obama’s tenure, Senate Republicans declined to consider the Democratic president’s nominee Merrick Garland. Then-candidate Trump made the presidential power to appoint Supreme Court nominees a central argument to voters during the 2016 election.
Barrett’s addition to the court would likely provide a significant conservative advantage, allowing the conservative justices to decide cases 5-4 even if the George W. Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts were to side with the court’s three liberal justices. The new term will get underway remotely as the court continues to conduct business via phone amid the coronavirus pandemic, as it began doing at the conclusion of the last term, according to the Associated Press. The public will be able to to hear arguments live. The wire service reported that the cases during the coming two weeks were slated for last spring but were delayed due to the high court shutting down for a period because of the coronavirus. [..] The Supreme Court could play a key role after the Nov. 3 general election if it decides to hear voting-related cases. A dramatic expansion on short notice of mail-in balloting in this cycle is expected to precipitate a flood of election litigation.
It announced the figure in the middle of a public relations statement detailing the measures it was taking to try to keep its employees safe from the virus. The company presented itself as a proactive and responsible business. “As part of this commitment, we’ve decided to publicly share the COVID-19 infection rates among Amazon front-line employees—something few if any companies and no other major retailers have done,” noted its blog post. It also claimed to be carrying out thousands of tests a day on its staff and noted that, despite the large figure of 19,816 cases, that represented a smaller percentage of positive tests than the general population.
However, Amazon did not include any of its third-party delivery contractors in the figures, who number in the many tens of thousands, at least. Nor was there any confirmation on the number of deaths. Amazon also called on other big companies to do as it had done. “We hope sharing this data and our learnings will encourage others to follow, and will prove useful as states make decisions about reopening public facilities and employers consider whether and how to bring people back to work,” they said. “Wide availability of data would allow us to benchmark our progress and share best practices across businesses and industries.”
Yet Amazon’s move may not be as bold and forward-thinking as it might first appear. The company had been widely condemned for its secrecy and refusal to release figures. On Wednesday, NBC News reported that half a million of its employees had begun to crowdsource that same information in order to build up a database to keep themselves safer. Employees also condemned the company for keeping them in the dark about co-worker infections and their lack of response to the pandemic, which included crowding hundreds of people into recreation rooms, thereby exposing them to increased risk.
[..] A lack of funds is certainly not an excuse for the online retail giant, whose business has expanded into supermarkets, cloud computing, and streaming services. The company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, became the world’s richest individual late last year, surpassing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Bezos has seen his net wealth grow by over $73 billion since lockdown began on March 18 and now stands at over $186 billion. That means that, on average, he has added $370 million to his wealth every day of the pandemic.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe recently declassified information indicating the CIA obtained intelligence in 2016 that the Russians believed the Clinton campaign was trying to falsely associate Russia with the so-called hack of DNC computers. CIA Director John Brennan shared the intelligence with President Obama. They knew, in other words, that the DNC was conducting false Russian flag operation against the Trump campaign. The following is an exclusive excerpt from The Russia Lie that tells the amazing story in detail:
On March 19, 2016, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, surrendered his emails to an unknown entity in a “spear phishing” scam. This has been called a “hack,” but it was not. Instead, it was the sort of flim-flam hustle that happens to gullible dupes on the internet. The content of the emails was beyond embarrassing. They showed election fraud and coordination with the media against the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. The DNC and the Clinton campaign needed a cover story. Blaming Russia would be a handy way to deal with the Podesta emails. There was already an existing Russia operation that could easily be retrofitted to this purpose. The problem was that it was nearly impossible to identify the perpetrator in a phishing scheme using computer forensic tools. The only way to associate Putin with the emails was circumstantially.
The DNC retained a company that called itself “CrowdStrike” to provide assistance. CrowdStrike’s chief technology officer and co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is an anti-Putin, Russian expat and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. With the Atlantic Council in 2016, all roads led to Ukraine. The Atlantic Council’s list of significant contributors includes Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk. The Ukrainian energy company that was paying millions to an entity that was funneling large amounts to Hunter Biden months after he was discharged from the US Navy for drug use, Burisma, also appears prominently on the Atlantic Council’s donor list. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Western puppet installed in Ukraine, visited the Atlantic Council’s Washington offices to make a speech weeks after the coup.
Pinchuk was also a big donor (between $10 million and $20 million) to the Clinton Foundation. Back in ’15, the Wall Street Journal published an investigative piece, “Clinton Charity Tapped Foreign Friends.” The piece was about how Ukraine was attempting to influence Clinton by making huge donations through Pinchuk. Foreign interference, anyone? On June 12, 2016, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced: “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton . . . We have emails pending publication.” Two days later, CrowdStrike fed the Washington Post a story, headlined, “Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump.” The improbable tale was that the Russians had hacked the DNC computer servers and got away with some opposition research on Trump. The article quoted Alperovitch of CrowdStrike and the Atlantic Council.
During one of the many sharp exchanges at last week’s presidential debate, Joe Biden flat out denied his son Hunter had any business relationship with the Russian oligarch Yelena Baturina, the billionaire wife of the late Moscow mayor. “Why is it, just out of curiosity, the mayor of Moscow’s wife gave your son three and a half million dollars?” President Trump asked during one flash point. “That is not true,” Biden answered. “Oh really, he didn’t get three and a half million?” Trump persisted a few second later. “It’s totally discredited,” the former vice president snapped back. “Totally discredited.” In fact, Biden’s answer directly conflicts with evidence that the U.S. Senate, the FBI and the U.S. Treasury Department have all gathered.
In their most recent investigative report on Ukraine corruption, the Senate Finance and Homeland Security committees disclosed that Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) that the Treasury Department turned over to Senate investigators show a direct link between Hunter Biden and Baturina. “Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow,” the Senate report declared, identifying a firm that the younger Biden and his business partner Devon Archer had created in 2013 as the recipient of the 2014 payment. “On Feb. 14, 2014, Baturina wired $3.5 million to a Rosemont Seneca Thornton LLC (Rosemont Seneca Thornton) bank account for a ‘Consultancy Agreement DD12.02.2014.'” the Senate report said. “Rosemont Seneca Thornton is an investment firm co-founded by Hunter Biden that was incorporated on May 28, 2013 in Wilmington, Del.
According to The Financial Times, Rosemont Seneca Thornton is a consortium that consists of Rosemont Seneca Partners and the Thornton Group, a Massachusetts-based firm.” The consulting payment was not only flagged because of its source. Its timing was also suspicious for its proximity to unfolding events in Eastern Europe. The payment was made four days before the Maidan revolution successfully ousted Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s Russian-friendly president, and less than two weeks before Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces to invade Ukraine’s Crimea region and annex it. The Treasury reports showed 11 more transactions flowing from Baturina to entities tied to Hunter Biden in 2015.
“Between May 6, 2015 and Dec. 8, 2015, Baturina sent 11 wires in the amount of $391,968.21 to a bank account belonging to BAK USA LLC. Nine of the 11 transactions, totaling $241,797.14 were sent from Baturina’s accounts to a Rosemont Seneca Thornton bank account, which then transferred the money to BAK USA,” the Senate report noted.
The indications that Turkey activated the radars of its Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft systems in order to detect US-made Greek F-16 fighter jets on their return from the Eunomia exercise on August 27 off Cyprus apparently sounded the alarm in Washington about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and reportedly prompted the visits by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Cyprus on September 12 and Greece on September 27-29. The visits highlight how Ankara’s procurement of the S-400s is irking Washington, which has threatened to impose sanctions if the Russian system is activated. According to reports from a section of the Turkish opposition media, a general test of the S-400 systems is planned by Ankara near Sinop on the Black Sea.
Regardless of the decisions that Ankara will take regarding its air defense, last week’s three-day visit by Pompeo, which took him to Thessaloniki and the Souda base on Crete, was seen as very significant. The permanent mooring of the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams at the Souda facility is a strong indication of the US intent to substantially strengthen its presence on the island. The support of a 106,000-ton displacement ship capable of carrying helicopters, UAVs and other systems requires significant changes to the base. The US has been supporting Greece in an ongoing effort since 2016 to further bolster the capabilities of the navy base on Souda.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, has gained support from Republican colleagues in calling for the U.S. government to abandon its criminal cases against Julian Assange and Edward J. Snowden. Along with Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican, she introduced a resolution Friday urging the U.S. to drop all charges and efforts to extradite Mr. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, joined the Democrat days earlier by co-sponsoring a similar resolution asking the U.S. to drop its case against Mr. Snowden, who is also wanted for leaking. Mr. Assange, who launched the WikiLeaks website in 2006, and Mr. Snowden, a former intelligence contractor, each face criminal charges in separate cases related to leaking classified information.
Both men have been charged in federal court in Alexandria, Va., with violating the U.S. Espionage Act, and they face the possibility of hefty prison sentences if put on trial and convicted. Ms. Gabbard, who unsuccessfully sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, argued that Mr. Assange and Mr. Snowden each played a part in exposing government wrongdoing and should be spared. WikiLeaks “published information that exposed lies and abuses of power at the highest levels,” said Ms. Gabbard; Mr. Snowden “bravely expos[ed] massive illegal government surveillance,” she said.
A study from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago discovered that children younger than 5 years with mild to moderate COVID-19 have much higher levels of genetic material for the virus in the nose compared to older children and adults. Findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics, point to the possibility that the youngest children transmit the virus as much as other age groups. The ability of younger children to spread COVID-19 may have been under-recognized given the rapid and sustained closure of schools and daycare during the pandemic.
“We found that children under 5 with COVID-19 have a higher viral load than older children and adults, which may suggest greater transmission, as we see with respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV,” says lead author Taylor Heald-Sargent, MD, PhD, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Lurie Children’s and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This has important public health implications, especially during discussions on the safety of reopening schools and daycare.”
Dr. Heald-Sargent and colleagues analyzed 145 cases of mild to moderate COVID-19 illness within the first week of symptom onset. They compared the viral load in three age groups — children younger than 5 years, children 5-17 years and adults 18-65 years. “Our study was not designed to prove that younger children spread COVID-19 as much as adults, but it is a possibility,” says Dr. Heald-Sargent. “We need to take that into account in efforts to reduce transmission as we continue to learn more about this virus.”
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike warned on Friday that the Japanese capital could declare a state of emergency if the coronavirus situation deteriorated further, after new cases jumped by a record single-day high of 463. “If the situation worsens, Tokyo would have to think about issuing its own state of emergency,” Koike said, imploring residents to follow health guidelines to avoid that happening.
China reported 127 new coronavirus cases on the mainland on July 30, up from 105 the previous day, the country’s health authority said on Friday, the highest daily number since March 5. Of the total, 112 were in the far northwestern region of Xinjiang, up from 96 a day earlier. Another 11 were in Liaoning province in the northeast, up from five the previous day. There were four new imported coronavirus cases on July 30, compared to three a day earlier, while the number of new asymptomatic coronavirus carriers stood at 11, down from 21 on the previous day. China has reported a total of 84,292 coronavirus cases by the end of July 30.
First, they had no masks or tests, so they told the people these were not needed. Then when all neighbors went in lockdown, they had their “intelligent” lockdown. Now they say no masks, but they will “experiment” with mask requirement in busy places. Confuse people enough and they will turn their backs on you. And all this nonsense about wearing masks outside makes people do worse than turn their backs.
Meanwhile cases there are rising again. So much for the flat curve.
This “mask refusal” was based largely on a report from a Norwegian scientist, who as soon as he saw he was quoted, said: my report says no such thing! But it doesn’t really matter: as soon as masks became a political issue, they were lost.
Something I hadn’t seen before: “Mask-wearing may also prompt people to touch their face more frequently”. Haha, No, masks were supposed to PREVENT people from touching their faces, remember?
American public health experts, led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, have struggled over the past couple of months to push a specific narrative on the public: Wearing a mask doesn’t so much protect you from being infected with SARS-CoV-2, but if you are infected, wearing a mask could stop you from passing the virus to someone else. The mainstream media has backed up these assertions with vague references to “science” and “research”, while a coalition of celebrities and progressive activists have tried to tar anybody who doubts this narrative – or, worse, refuses to wear a mask at all times outside their home – as a “denier”. Well, if everybody who is skeptical of the “masks save lives, period” is a “denier”, then how does one explain the Dutch government’s decision to refuse to mandate mask wearing (the only place where masks must be worn in the Netherlands is on public transit).
On Thursday, Reuters reported that the Dutch government had decided the day before that it would not advise the public to wear masks to slow the spread of coronavirus because their effectiveness has not yet been proven. The decision was announced by the Netherlands Minister for Medical Care Tamara van Ark following a review by the country’s National Institute for Health. Following a resurgence in cases over the past week or so, the Dutch government has decided it will instead seek better adherence to social distancing rules. “Because from a medical perspective there is no proven effectiveness of masks, the Cabinet has decided that there will be no national obligation for wearing non-medical masks” Van Ark said.
[..] The Dutch government insists that it’s strictly following the advice of the experts in the so-called Outbreak Management Team, which doesn’t believe in the general use of masks. Dutch virologist Jaap van Dissel from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said Wednesday that masks can lead to a “false sense of security”. When wearing masks, people might not follow other social distancing rules like keeping their distance which also help prevent spread. Mask-wearing may also prompt people to touch their face more frequently, putting them at risk of accidentally infecting themselves while adjusting their masks.
Australia will force U.S. tech giants Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay Australian media outlets for news content in a landmark move to protect independent journalism that will be watched around the world. Australia will become the first country to require Facebook and Google to pay for news content provided by media companies under a royalty-style system that will become law this year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses. It’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection, and a sustainable media landscape,” Frydenberg told reporters in Melbourne. “Nothing less than the future of the Australian media landscape is at stake.”
The move comes as the tech giants fend off calls around the world for greater regulation, and a day after Google and Facebook took a battering for alleged abuse of market power from U.S. lawmakers in a congressional hearing. Following an inquiry into the state of the media market and the power of the U.S. platforms, the Australian government late last year told Facebook and Google to negotiate a voluntary deal with media companies to use their content. Those talks went nowhere and Canberra now says if an agreement cannot reached through arbitration within 45 days the Australian Communications and Media Authority would set legally binding terms on behalf of the government. Google said the regulation ignores “billions of clicks” that it sends to Australian news publishers each year.
On Tuesday afternoon, the White House announced that Kodak – a public company with less than $100 million in market cap, basically a pension fund with a famous brand name attached – would receive $765 million in “loans” from the US government to create a “pharmaceutical start-up” that over a period of 8 YEARS will start making pharmaceutical “supplies”. Whatever the hell that means. This $765 million in non-recourse, non-secured loans for pharmaceutical supply production, given to this micro-cap company with zero experience or expertise in pharmaceutical supply production, comes from the International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), a $60 billion piggy bank established by the Trump administration in 2019 to replace the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).
Yes, “international development” and “overseas investment”. The DFC is an institution that, per its mission statement and Congressional charter via the 2018 Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act, is “focused on promoting inclusive economic growth in the world’s least developed countries.” I mean … I knew things were bad in Rochester, but I didn’t know they were that bad. To dust off an old Epsilon Theory catchphrase: They’re. Not. Even. Pretending. Anymore. Who is “they”? On the corporate-grift side, it’s Kodak Chairman and CEO Jim Continenza, who picked up about 3 million shares and cheap options over the past year. It’s Kodak board member George Karfunkel, of the private equity and banking Zyskind-Karfunkel family, with his 6.4 million shares. It’s Kodak board member Philippe Katz, who owns about 4.3 million shares through at least five shell companies.
Based on yesterday’s closing price of $33.20 for the stock, I figure Jim and George and Philippe have made about $400 million over the past 48 hours. The numbers looked even better when Kodak hit $53 earlier earlier in the day, but easy come, easy go.
The popular U.S. grocery chain Trader Joe’s says it won’t retire the packaging name on some of its international products – including one called Trader José’s – amid a petition to change the names because of their “racist” connotation. “A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to “remove racist packaging from [our] products,” Trader Joe’s said Friday on its website. “Following were inaccurate reports that the petition prompted us to take action. We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions. “We make decisions based on what customers purchase, as well as the feedback we receive from our customers and Crew Members. If we feel there is a need for change, we do not hesitate to take action.”
Trader Joe had suggested earlier this month that it might change the name on some packaging, but apparently held firm amid the poll and a resurgence of so-called “cancel culture,” in which people and entities are being forced to apologize or amend statements or actions deemed racially or culturally insensitive. The Change.org petition was reportedly started by California high school senior Briones Bedell and as of Thursday had roughly 5,000 signatures. Among the other Trader Joe’s packaging names cited on the petition site are Trader Giotto’s and Trader Ming’s.
A U.S. appeals court on Thursday agreed to rehear arguments over whether the judge assigned to the criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, must grant a request to dismiss it. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said it would hold an oral argument in the politically charged criminal case on Aug. 11. In a 2-1 decision on June 24, a three-judge panel of the same court ruled in favor of Flynn and the Trump administration and said U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington had to grant the Justice Department’s motion to clear Flynn. Sullivan asked the full court to reconsider the three-judge panel’s ruling, saying the Justice Department’s dropping of the Flynn case was unprecedented and had to be carefully scrutinized.
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was one of several former Trump aides charged under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Flynn twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s then-ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn then switched lawyers to pursue a new scorched-earth tactic that accused the FBI of setting him up, and asked the judge to dismiss the charge. After the Justice Department took the highly unusual step of seeking to abandon the case against Flynn, Sullivan appointed a retired judge to argue against the Justice Department’s request. Sullivan, represented by his own lawyers, has said he cannot serve as a “rubber stamp” and must carefully review the facts before deciding on the request for dismissal. The D.C. Circuit panel disagreed in June, saying Sullivan was intruding on the Justice Department’s authority to decide which cases it pursues.
This week, a House subcommittee held a high-profile hearing interrogating the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google about their growing market power. But as more congressional Democrats scrutinize corporate America’s monopolistic business practices, their party may end up giving the vice-presidential nomination to a lawmaker who previously expressed misgivings about antitrust enforcement when it comes to Silicon Valley. California Sen. Kamala Harris’ meteoric rise from San Francisco District Attorney to Democratic presidential contender occurred in the span of just over a decade and today, insiders believe she tops Joe Biden’s shortlist for VP.
During the 2020 election, Harris’s record on criminal justice proved too steep a hurdle during her party’s presidential primary just a few short months ago. She was dogged by criticism that as California Attorney General, she had been soft on white-collar crime like mortgage fraud while pursuing low-level offenses like truancy with zeal. Questions also arose about her refusal to act on her staff’s memo that identified what it called “widespread misconduct” at a financial firm run by Steve Mnuchin, who donated to her Senate campaign.
[..] HuffPost procured 1,400 pages of emails which revealed how Harris’ relationships with tech giants had been mutually beneficial. For example, she’d participated in a promotional for Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book about women in power, “Lean In,” which increased her national profile. Sandberg would also become a donor to her 2016 Senate campaign. All told, that year, Harris raked in $214,000 in contributions from the industry. During her 2020 presidential run, Harris was a favorite of big tech, taking large sums from lobbyists for companies like Uber and Facebook. Donors from Apple, Amazon and Google’s parent company Alphabet were collectively among her top contributors.
Harris’ position on the size of tech giants did not substantially change during the campaign. When she was asked by the New York Times in January 2019 if companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google should be broken up, Harris responded: “I believe that the tech companies have got to be regulated in a way that we can ensure and the American consumer can be certain that their privacy is not being compromised.” Pressed by the interviewer to respond directly about the size of the companies, Harris continued to sidestep. “My first priority is going to be that we ensure that privacy is something that is intact and that consumers have the power to make decisions about what happens with their personal information and that it is not being made for them,” she said.
“Nominating Rice as Biden’s VP would virtually ensure her immunity, protecting her from investigation or prosecution during the campaign. [..] Crucially, it would also cut off the investigation at the rung below her, thereby insulating Obama and Biden.
But there is another possible explanation that is worth considering, since it’s at least legally true: Putting Susan Rice on the ticket would protect both Biden and Obama (as well as Rice herself) from the ongoing investigation into the origins of Crossfire Hurricane, the discredited FBI probe of Trump’s ties to Russia. As official reports hinting at the role Obama and Biden may have played in targeting Trump officials were declassified in the spring, Attorney General William Barr said in May that neither were in the sights of John Durham, the U.S. attorney in charge of the investigation. “I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”
Since Barr’s May statement, it has come to light that Obama and Biden were more directly involved in the targeting of incoming Trump officials than was previously publicly known. In late June, FBI notes of January 2017 Oval Office meetings were declassified, showing that both men were not only keeping close watch on the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, but were advising it. A New York Times article from earlier this week promoting Rice’s audition obscured the evidence declassified in the last several months. It noted that Trump has accused Rice “of having participated in an Obama administration plot against” Flynn, and added that “no such effort has been documented.” Rice herself personally documented a meeting in which she, Obama, and Biden decided Flynn’s fate.
Presumably, Barr does not want America to take a step closer to resembling a third-world regime on his watch. And so, in order to avoid the appearance of a politicized investigation of senior Democrats in retaliation for what was in fact a politicized investigation of a Republican administration, neither Obama nor Biden are being investigated. But that does not mean that they are shielded if someone wants to save themselves by pointing further up the chain of command. And Rice left a paper trail that implicates herself, Obama, and Biden.
Nominating Rice as Biden’s VP would virtually ensure her immunity, protecting her from investigation or prosecution during the campaign. In February, Barr issued a memo stating that no investigation of a presidential or vice presidential candidate can be undertaken without his written approval. Because it is nearly inconceivable that Barr would expose himself to this type of scrutiny or risk compromising the election, Rice would be safe. Crucially, it would also cut off the investigation at the rung below her, thereby insulating Obama and Biden.
With President Donald Trump saying he wants to lift stay-at-home novel coronavirus orders and open up parts of the country, more than 45 economists, social scientists, lawyers and ethicists say there’s a growing consensus pointing to a major step necessary to put Americans back to work: dramatically upscaling testing. In a report titled “Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience,” set to be released on Monday, a blue-ribbon panel of thought leaders across the political spectrum called COVID-19 “a profound threat to our democracy, comparable to the Great Depression and World War II.” “It’s a moment for a ‘Can Do America’ to really show up and put itself to work,” Danielle Allen, lead author of the report and a professor at Harvard University’s Edmond J.Safra Center on Ethics, told ABC News.
The report says that ending the quarantine safely will require testing, tracing, and supported isolation, a combination known by the acronym TTSI. “What people need to recognize is that a massively scaled-up testing, tracing and supported isolation system is the alternative to national quarantine,” Allen said. “We all had to learn PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] and we all had to learn about flattening the curve … now we have to learn about TTSI.” Test producers will need to deliver 5 million tests per day by early June to safely open parts of the economy by late July, according to the report. To “fully re-mobilize the economy,” the country will need to see testing grow to 20 million a day, the report suggests. “We acknowledge that even this number may not be high enough,” according to the report.
Some experts, including Nobel laureate economist Paul Romer, who did not assist in the report but has a similar approach, estimate the country may need more than 30 million tests per day. [..] One of the largest biotech firms manufacturing the COVID-19 test, Roche Diagnostics, said it is producing about 400,000 test kits per week. Abbott Laboratories, which has created a 5-minute test, says it plans to boost its production from 50,000 tests per week to 1 million and is also working to distribute about 4 million antibody tests — which shows if someone has recovered from the virus, even people who were never symptomatic — by the end of April and about 20 million per month by the end of June.
According to the bipartisan team who worked on the report, implementing its plan would cost between $100 billion and $300 billion over two years. But Allen suggested comparing the price tag to the astronomical cost the shutdown is accumulating. ”Collective quarantine is costing us $350 billion a month … and we’ve seen the massive unemployment numbers,” Allen told ABC News.
[..] The report details 4 specific phases to reopening the economy and ending the lockdown: Phase 1: (May-June) 40% of the population — including all essential workers (health care workers, firemen, police, sanitation, etc) — will be tested and their contacts traced. Phase 2: (June-July) 70% of the population goes back to work — including workers directly supporting the health sector, such as delivery, service, construction workers, building engineers, maintenance and food workers. The government makes massive infrastructure investments. Phase 3: (July-Aug) 80% of the population is back to work, including those who must work at locations and in offices. Phase 4: (Aug-March) All workers return to work and schools reopen. Continue to take precautions until a vaccine is widely available, but the lockdown is over.
How many tests do we need in order to safely relax social-distancing measures, reopen nonessential businesses and schools, and allow large gatherings? According to the Morgan Stanley analyst Matthew Harrison and the Harvard professor Ashish Jha, we should be conducting a minimum of 500,000 tests a day. One of the authors of this article, Paul Romer, has called for the capacity to run 20 million to 30 million tests a day. Even this has been criticized as insufficient for the task of identifying enough of the asymptomatic spreaders to keep the pandemic in check.
Current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention give priority first to hospitalized patients and symptomatic health-care workers, then to high-risk patients, specifically those over 65 and those suffering from other serious health conditions, with COVID-19 symptoms. Under this system, asymptomatic individuals are not tested, even if they had contact with people who tested positive. This is an enormous mistake. If we want to control the spread of COVID-19, the United States must adopt a new testing policy that prioritizes people who, although asymptomatic, may have the virus and infect many others.
We should target four groups. First, all health-care workers and other first responders who directly interact with many people. Second, workers who maintain our supply chains and crucial infrastructure, including grocery-store workers, police officers, public-transit workers, and sanitation personnel. The next group would be potential “super-spreaders”—asymptomatic individuals who could come into contact with many people. This third group would include people in large families and those who must interact with many vulnerable people, such as employees of long-term-care facilities. The fourth group would include all those who are planning to return to the workplace. These are precisely the individuals without symptoms whom the CDC recommends against testing.
[..] To shift the focus of testing away from the sickest patients and toward the people most likely to spread the coronavirus, we will have to conduct millions of tests a day. Millions of health-care workers in the United States are in positions that may expose them to infection: physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, midwives, pharmacists, phlebotomists, hospital cleaners, and others. By one estimate, 3 million people work in grocery stores. To screen everyone in these two groups once a week will require about 1 million tests a day. We currently lack the infrastructure for that. And that is before we add the approximately 800,000 police officers, 290,000 bus drivers, and 60,000 sanitation workers—and patients without any symptoms in the health-care system.
People are starting to understand stuff. It took a pandemic for that.
I never never dreamed that my Russian Roulette argument would be expressed by those against whom I have used it over the past 2 decades. pic.twitter.com/Xih2Vse1Ft
President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that he plans to use the Defense Production Act to increase the nation’s swab production by at least 20 million per month for coronavirus tests. Trump said the administration is close to finalizing a partnership with one manufacturer to produce an additional 10 million swabs per month for coronavirus test kits, which are used to collect specimens from a patient’s throat or nose. Trump said he is preparing to use the Defense Production Act on another manufacturer to increase its swab production by over 20 million per month. Trump did not disclose the names of the manufacturer.
The president previously enacted the Defense Production Act on companies like General Motors and General Electric to manufacturer additional ventilators, although many had already ramped up production. “We’ve had a little difficulty with one so we’re calling in, as in the past you know, we’re calling in the Defense Production Act and we’ll be getting swabs very easily,” Trump said. “Swabs are easy. Ventilators are hard.” Trump’s announcement comes after some governors cited a lack of swabs and reagents as hampering their ability to conduct more coronavirus tests. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that her state could triple the number of tests conducted if the key components were made available.
[..] Earlier on Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence said the administration has “laid a strong foundation for testing for phase one.” He said that there are enough tests for any governor who meets the 14-day criteria of declining case numbers outlined by the White House to move into phase one and begin reopening their state’s economy. Experts have warned, however, against opening the country before widespread testing is available. Some say that as many as 20 to 30 million people per day will need to be tested before the nation can return to a semblance of economic normality. There are currently more than 150,000 tests being conducted per day, Pence said, but that number could “double” once laboratories across the country are activated.
Israel has launched a network of new ‘contactless’ roadside covid-19 testing booths which have zero contact between nurse and patient. The country has offered to share the design, which is relatively cheap and easy to produce, with other countries as part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The booths, produced by healthcare companies together with civilian and military partners, provide an entirely sealed, sterile environment for the medic, and can be quickly disinfected between patients. Tests are carried out using two rubber gloves which are attached to the outer wall with airtight seals. Results are processed in a matter of hours and reported directly via the patient’s electronic health record.
‘After proving itself as a safe and easy way to test patients with minimum risk, the booth we created is sparking national and international interest,’ said Ran Sa’ar, CEO of Maccabi Healthcare Services, one of the firms behind the booth. ‘We would be happy to share the design plans with any health organization worldwide in order to support our shared mission of fighting the covid-19 virus.’ The booth was designed to ensure zero exposure between the patient and the tester. It enables a sterile sampling process from the moment the patient begins the test to the transfer of the sample to the laboratory. The development of the contactless testing centre, which is highly effective yet relatively simple and cheap to manufacture, took less than a week.
The innovative technology has been watched closely by governments around the world struggling to provide safe, effective and fast coronavirus tests on a mass scale to their citizens. Israel has been one of the world leaders in its response to covid-19, enacting lockdown measures early on and introducing technological solutions to help fight the spread of the disease. These have included the use of anti-terror phone tracking technology to trace people who have come into contact with covid patients and tell them to self-isolate before they experience symptoms. In addition, hotels have been repurposed to cater for coronavirus patients, helping alleviate the strain on hospitals. There have been just 140 deaths from covid-19 in the Jewish state, with 12,591 infections and 2,624 recoveries.
Because children don’t get tested at all: “..estimated that 176,190 children in the US had been infected with the virus, based on data showing 74 children admitted to paediatric intensive care units ..”
Paediatric services in the US could be overwhelmed by thousands of sick infants and young children – an overlooked group which has a higher risk of serious illness from Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, according to a new study. While children are at a lower risk of fatality from Covid-19 compared to the elderly, the very young were most at risk of becoming seriously ill and the sheer weight of population numbers in the US meant the need to be prepared for an influx of cases was urgent, the study said. The research was led by Elizabeth Pathak, a population health scientist and president of the US think tank Women’s Institute for Independent Social Inquiry, and warned against a sense of complacency about the impact of the disease on children.
The most conservative estimates considered in the study showed that one in 200 children in the US would be infected with the virus, with 991 severe enough to require hospitalisation. In the most extreme scenario, three out of five US children would be infected, with 118,887 becoming seriously ill. “Severity and case fatality are much lower for children than for elderly persons, and this truth has created a sense of complacency that Covid-19 is not a major concern for children’s health,” according to the study which was published last week in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. “Because there are 74 million children 0 to 17 years old in the United States, the projected number of severe cases could overextend available paediatric hospital care resources under several moderate cumulative paediatric infection proportion scenarios for 2020, despite lower severity of Covid-19 in children than in adults.”
[..] Pathak and her colleagues estimated that 176,190 children in the US had been infected with the virus, based on data showing 74 children admitted to paediatric intensive care units in 19 states in the US, as of April 6. For every admission of a child to an intensive care unit – estimated at 11 per cent of children hospitalised for the virus – the researchers calculated a further 2,381 children were infected with the Covid-19 virus who remained in their local communities. The report cited studies from China which found infants at the highest risk of becoming severely or critically ill with the virus, at 10.6 per cent, followed by 7.3 per cent of severe or critical infection for those aged between one and five, falling to 4.2 per cent among children between six and 15 years old.
The coronavirus could linger in the testicles, making men prone to longer, more severe cases of the illness, according to a new study. Researchers tracked the recovery of 68 patients in Mumbai, India, to study the gender disparity of the virus, which has taken a worse toll on men, according to a preliminary report posted on MedRxix, which hosts unpublished medical research papers that have not been peer reviewed. Dr. Aditi Shastri, an oncologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, and her mother, Dr. Jayanthi Shastri — a microbiologist at the Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Mumbai — said the virus attaches itself to a protein that occurs in high levels in the testicles.
This protein, known as angiotensin converting enzyme 2, or ACE2, is present in the lungs, the gastrointestinal tract and the heart in addition to large quantities in the testicles. But since testicles are walled off from the immune system, the virus could harbor there for longer periods than the rest of the body, according to the study. The mother-daughter researchers said these findings may explain why women bounce back from the virus more quickly than men. They determined that the average amount of time for female patients to be cleared of the virus was four days, while men saw recoveries that on average were two days longer, the report said. “These observations demonstrate that male subjects have delayed viral clearance,” the authors wrote, adding that the testicles may be serving as “reservoirs” for the virus.
World Health Organization officials Monday said they still recommend people not wear face masks unless they are sick with Covid-19 or caring for someone who is sick. “There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit. In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO health emergencies program, said at a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday. “There also is the issue that we have a massive global shortage,” Ryan said about masks and other medical supplies. “Right now the people most at risk from this virus are frontline health workers who are exposed to the virus every second of every day. The thought of them not having masks is horrific.”
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the WHO, also said at Monday’s briefing that it is important “we prioritize the use of masks for those who need it most,” which would be frontline health care workers. “In the community, we do not recommend the use of wearing masks unless you yourself are sick and as a measure to prevent onward spread from you if you are ill,” Van Kerkhove said. “The masks that we recommend are for people who are at home and who are sick and for those individuals who are caring for those people who are home that are sick,” she said. WHO officials warned at a media briefing last week that globally there is a “significant shortage” of medical supplies, including personal protective gear or PPE, for doctors. “We need to be clear,” Van Kerkhove said last week. “The world is facing a significant shortage of PPE for our frontline workers — including masks and gloves and gowns and face shields — and protecting our health care workers must be the top priority for use of this PPE.”
New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo was asked on Sunday whether or not he has faith in President Trump when it comes to handling the Wuhan coronavirus. Gov. Cuomo made it clear that he not only trusts the president but that what Trump and his administration have done was nothing short of a “phenomenal accomplishment.” “What the federal government did working with states was a phenomenal accomplishment,” the governor marveled. “We bent the curve. We flattened the curve. Government did it. People did it, but government facilitates people’s actions, right?”
Gov. Cuomo has consistently praised the president for helping New Yorkers while the state quickly emerged as an international hotspot of the Wuhan coronavirus. Only on the issue of ventilators, when Gov. Cuomo anticipated New York would need some 40,000 ventilators, were the president and the governor at odds. Trump expected the actual number of ventilators New York needed to be much lower, and Trump was right. Instead of 40,000 ventilators, New York needed about 5,000. The state now has so many ventilators they have begun sending them to other states.
“We had to double the hospital capacity in New York State,” Gov. Cumo recalled on Sunday. “That’s what all the experts said. The president brought in the Army Corps of Engineers. They built 2,500 at Javits … It was a phenomenal accomplishment. Close to a thousand people have gone through Javits. Luckily, we didn’t need the 2,500 beds. But all the projections said we did need it and more … so these were just extraordinary efforts and acts of mobilization, and the federal government stepped up and was a great partner, and I’m the first one to say it. We needed help and they were there.”
More than 150 Australian economists on Monday warned the government against easing social distancing rules aimed at halting the spread of the new coronavirus even as the rate of infections slowed to a multi-week low. Australia has so far avoided the high numbers of coronavirus casualties reported around the world after closing its borders and imposing restrictions on public movement. While the measures have slowed the growth in new infections to fewer than 40 new cases a day, the restrictions are expected to push unemployment to a 16-year high of about 10%. With growing calls to ease the restrictions, leading Australian economists issued an open letter to call on the government to prioritise containing the spread of coronavirus.
“We cannot have a functioning economy unless we first comprehensively address the public health crisis,” the group of 157 economists from Australian universities wrote. Australia’s government and central bank have said they will inject A$320 billion ($203 billion) into the country’s economy to try and cushion the economic blow. Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week said there would no easing of Australia’s restrictions for at least four weeks, and several state premiers on Monday urged the public to keep to the social distancing rules. “We’ve all made massive sacrifices, given a lot. We can’t give back all the gains made because of sense of frustration gets the better of us,” Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
Any significant easing of the current limitations would not occur until Australia had increased testing capacity, strengthened contact tracing and readied local responses for further outbreaks, Andrews said. Central to the government’s strategy is a controversial new mobile phone app that will track users’ movements to allow contact tracing in the event of an outbreak of coronavirus. The government said it will need at least 40% of the country’s population to be signed up to make it effective.
Australians shouldn’t worry about rising public debt as the federal government can roll it over indefinitely, a think tank has said. Instead, governments should be encouraged to borrow even more money to protect jobs and boost economic activity. Using public debt to fund investments in critical infrastructure, as well as education and training, would boost the nation’s productive capacity and help it service the debt through stronger economic growth, argues progressive think tank Per Capita. It says the “virtuous circle of public investment leads to higher wages and profits and thus to a broader tax base,” which allows government to either pay down the debt or keep investing in economic productivity.
Per Capita makes the case for sustained government spending in a new report that describes growing fears over how to pay for the government’s coronavirus support measures as “largely misplaced”. Report authors Emma Dawson and Matthew Lloyd-Cape argue this is because the federal budget is not like a household’s, as governments borrow against the productive capacity of the economy, which unlike the working lives of home owners has an infinite lifespan. This means governments never need to pay off their debts completely. All that matters is whether they can meet their repayments.
“Australia will never ‘retire’. It will continue to generate income through productive economic activity,” the authors wrote in the report’s introduction. “Therefore, unlike a household, the federal government can roll its debt over indefinitely, provided the nation’s economic activity continues and Australia’s productive capacity operates to its full potential.” [..] Per Capita points out that Australia’s public debt-to-GDP ratio (roughly 20 per cent) is much lower than other advanced economies’. And although future generations will inherit an economy with higher levels of public debt, Per Capita argues they need not suffer as a result, so long “as we prioritise the maintenance of economic activity to support the jobs and incomes our children need to build a good life”.
Germany’s health minister says the month-long lockdown has brought his country’s coronavirus outbreak under control. Jens Spahn said that since 12 April the number of recovered patients had been consistently higher than the number of new infections. The infection rate has dropped to 0.7 – that is, each infected person passed the virus to fewer than one other. In Germany 3,868 have died of Covid-19 – fewer than in Italy, Spain or France. However, the number of fatalities is still rising in Germany, as is the number of infected health care workers. So far almost 134,000 people have been infected in Germany. The degree of lockdown varies across Germany’s regions – it is tightest in the states of Bavaria and Saarland.
On Wednesday Chancellor Angela Merkel announced tentative steps to start easing the restrictions. Some smaller shops will reopen next week and schools will start reopening in early May, with the focus on students due to sit exams soon. But Mrs Merkel warned there was “little margin for error” and that “caution should be the watchword”. Sports and leisure facilities, as well as cafes and restaurants, will remain closed indefinitely. Germany’s network of diagnostic labs has been praised internationally for having responded rapidly to the pandemic. By early April Germany was doing more than 100,000 swab tests daily, enabling more coronavirus carriers to be traced than in other EU countries. Mr Spahn said that by August, German companies would produce up to 50 million face masks a week for healthcare workers.
Unemployment in Europe could nearly double in the coming months, with up to 59 million jobs at risk from permanent cutbacks as well as reductions in pay and hours because of the coronavirus pandemic, estimates from consultancy McKinsey said. The consulting firm estimated unemployment levels in the 27-member state bloc peaking at 7.6% in 2020 and a return to pre-crisis levels in Q4 2021. But in a worst-case scenario, unemployment could peak in 2021 at 11.2%, with a recovery to 2019 levels by 2024. Euro zone unemployment fell to a 12-year low in February, the month before coronavirus containment measures began to be introduced widely across Europe. The jobless rate was 7.3% in the 19 countries sharing the euro zone, the lowest level since March 2008.
McKinsey said that the levels of impact would vary between demographic groups and industry sectors. “Losing those jobs would not only be a tragedy on an individual level, but would also be very painful from an economic perspective,” McKinsey said in its report. The study highlighted a close link between level of education and the short-term risk for jobs, “potentially exacerbating existing social inequalities.” Half of all jobs at risk are in customer service and sales, food service and builder occupations. In Europe’s wholesale and retail sector, 14.6 millions jobs could be threatened, 8.4 million jobs in accommodation and food and 1.7 million in arts and entertainment.
The S&P 500 index is set to suffer the worst quarter for earnings since the 2008 financial crisis, and it’s likely to get a lot worse because the results due this week will barely show the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 9% of S&P 500 companies reported earnings through Friday and after the first official week of 2020 first-quarter results earnings are on track to decline 14.5% from a year ago, according to John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet. That would be the biggest decline since the 15.7% plunge in the third quarter of 2009. Butters’s projections are based on blended estimates compiled by FactSet, which include actual results and consensus analyst estimates of companies that haven’t reported yet.
The bad news is that actual results have been a lot worse than expected so far, as earnings for the 46 companies that have already reported dropped 32.7%, according to FactSet. Companies have thus far missed earnings-per-share expectations in aggregate by 7.0%, according to Credit Suisse chief U.S. equity strategist Jonathan Golub. That compares with a beat of 5.2% on average over the past three years. The worst is yet to come. The energy and consumer-discretionary sectors are expected to suffer the biggest profit declines, but only one of 27 energy companies and six of 62 consumer discretionary companies have already posted numbers. Energy earnings are projected to decline 64.2% and consumer discretionary earnings are expected to fall 34.7%.
After recovering a chunk of the losses racked up during the worst of the coronavirus-induced selloff last month, the stock market finds itself at a crucial inflection point, writes Alan B. Lancz. “The next 45 days may just become the most critical period in U.S. financial history,” he wrote in a newsletter published Wednesday. “While on average we may face a bear market every 10 years, this one is like no other,” he said. The contrarian money manager, who is a disciple of famed investor Sir John Templeton, said that the timing and execution of the reawakening of the U.S. economy from its dormancy could be one of the biggest factors in determining how the market recovers from COVID-19, which has forced swaths of businesses to shut down to help stem the spread of the deadly contagion [..]
And even if the economic revival is executed flawlessly, the founder of the eponymous Toledo, Ohio-based investment advisory firm said the result will be a so-called U-shaped recovery, where a rebound in business and consumer activity from pre-crisis levels will be long and slow. “Even if we execute properly, the recovery will take time and a best-case scenario is a ‘U’ shaped recovery,” he wrote. “The much talked about ‘V’ shaped recovery is no longer in the equation because of the unprecedented combination of negatives with this crisis,” he said, referring to hope for a recovery that is sharp and fast. The money manager’s comments come as President Donald Trump has underscored his eagerness to restart the economy after a string of bleak reports demonstrate the damage the illness is doing to the health of small and large businesses.
Indeed, a reading on Wednesday of business activity in the New York state area, the New York Empire State Index, dropped to a record low of negative-78.2 in April from negative-21.5 in the previous month. A report on U.S. industrial production fell 5.4% in March, the steepest decline since early 1946, and retail sales in March registered a record 8.7% slump; meanwhile, a reading of confidence among U.S. home builders in April fell to its lowest reading since 2012 and the largest monthly change in the index’s 30-year history.
Crude oil futures fell on Monday, with U.S. futures touching levels not seen since 1999, extending weakness on the back of sliding demand and concerns that U.S. storage facilities will soon fill to the brim amid the coronavirus pandemic. The oil market has been under pressure due to a spate of reports on weak fuel consumption and grim forecasts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the International Energy Agency. The volume of oil held in U.S. storage, especially at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contract, is rising as refiners throttle back activity due to slumping demand. The front-month May WTI contract was down $2.62, or 14%, to $15.65 a barrel by 0142GMT.
At one point, the contract had fallen as much as 21% to hit a low of $14.47 a barrel, the lowest since March 1999. That contract is expiring on Tuesday, and the June contract CLc2, which is becoming more actively traded, fell $1.28, or 5.1%, to $23.75 a barrel. Brent was also weaker, down 21 cents, or 0.8%, to $27.87 a barrel. The plunge in crude oil prices reflects a glut at the main U.S. storage facilities at Cushing and a big drop in demand, said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney. “It hasn’t reach capacity but the fear is that it will,” he said, adding that once the maximum capacity is reached, producers will have to cut output. Production cuts from OPEC and its allies such as Russia will also kick from May. The group has agreed to reduce output by 9.7 million bpd [..]
The novel coronavirus may have first passed to humans somewhere in southern China months before the outbreak in the city of Wuhan, a new study found, cutting against widely held theories about the origins of the pandemic. Mapping a “network” of coronavirus genomes and tracing mutations over time, a team of researchers led by a Cambridge University geneticist determined the first Covid-19 infection may have come as early as September in a region south of Wuhan, noting the pathogen could have been carried by humans well before it mutated into a more lethal form. “The virus may have mutated into its final ‘human-efficient’ form months ago, but stayed inside a bat or other animal or even human for several months without infecting other individuals,” geneticist Peter Forster told the South China Morning Post.
He leads the ongoing yet to be peer-reviewed research, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. “Then, it started infecting and spreading among humans between September 13 and December 7, generating the network we present in [the study]”. Though the virus is thought to have transmitted from bats to another host animal – pangolins are a popular candidate – and finally to humans, the new findings could overturn prevailing ideas as to precisely how, when and where it made the interspecies leap. Initial theories posited the jump to humans took place at a wet market in Wuhan, but the new study has called that into question, suggesting Covid-19 might have originated south of the central-Chinese city.
“If I am pressed for an answer, I would say the original spread started more likely in southern China than in Wuhan.” Any solid conclusions, however, could only be made after analyzing more bats and other potential host animals, as well as tissue samples from early patients, Forster cautioned. “But it is the best assumption we can make at the moment, pending analysis of further patient samples stored in hospitals during 2019,” the researcher told Newsweek in a separate interview.
Hospitals in Japan are increasingly turning away sick people as the country struggles with surging coronavirus infections and its emergency medical system collapses. In one recent case, an ambulance carrying a man with a fever and difficulty breathing was rejected by 80 hospitals and forced to search for hours for a hospital in downtown Tokyo that would treat him. Another feverish man finally reached a hospital after paramedics unsuccessfully contacted 40 clinics. The Japanese Association for Acute Medicine and the Japanese Society for Emergency Medicine say many hospital emergency rooms are refusing to treat people including those suffering strokes, heart attacks and external injuries.
Japan initially seemed to have controlled the outbreak by going after clusters of infections in specific places, usually enclosed spaces such as clubs, gyms and meeting venues. But the spread of virus outpaced this approach and most new cases are untraceable. The outbreak has highlighted underlying weaknesses in medical care in Japan, which has long been praised for its high quality insurance system and reasonable costs. Apart from a general unwillingness to embrace social distancing, experts fault government incompetence and a widespread shortage of the protective gear and equipment medical workers need to do their jobs. Japan lacks enough hospital beds, medical workers or equipment. Forcing hospitalization of anyone with the virus, even those with mild symptoms, has left hospitals overcrowded and understaffed.
[..] Medical workers are now reusing N95 masks and making their own face shields. The major city of Osaka has sought contributions of unused plastic raincoats for use as hazmat gowns. Abe has appealed to manufacturers to step up production of masks and gowns, ventilators and other supplies. A government virus task force has warned that, in a worst-case scenario where no preventive measures were taken, more than 400,000 could die due to shortages of ventilators and other intensive care equipment. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the government has secured 15,000 ventilators and is getting support of Sony and Toyota Motor Corp. to produce more.
Japanese hospitals also lack ICUs, with only five per 100,000 people, compared to about 30 in Germany, 35 in the U.S. and 12 in Italy, said Osamu Nishida, head of the Japanese Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Italy’s 10% mortality rate, compared to Germany’s 1%, is partly due to the shortage of ICU facilities, Nishida said. “Japan, with ICUs not even half of Italy’s, is expected to face a fatality overshoot very quickly,” he said. Japan has been limiting testing for the coronavirus mainly because of rules requiring any patients to be hospitalized. Surging infections have prompted the Health Ministry to loosen those rules and move patients with milder symptoms to hotels to free up beds for those requiring more care.
For weeks the Florida Department of Corrections refused to address rumors that inmates with coronavirus-like symptoms — or those who had come into contact with symptomatic inmates or staff — were being segregated by the hundreds from the general population. That changed on Friday, when the agency acknowledged that more than 4,500 inmates are being isolated in one way or another as COVID-19, the highly infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has spread throughout the third-largest prison system in the country. As of Friday evening, 45 inmates and 71 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the FDC. Four inmates had died, all of whom had been incarcerated at Blackwater River Correctional Facility, a compound near Pensacola run under contract by the Geo Group.
The medical examiner in Santa Rosa County revealed the deaths. The new data was made public amid a growing chorus of criticism by a handful of lawmakers, including an influential Republican, state Sen. Jeff Brandes, who is vice chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. The department found itself on the defensive this week when those four deaths were revealed not by prison administrators — including its communication staff, which has ignored questions from reporters for several weeks — but by journalists who sought out information from the Santa Rosa County medical examiner. After the first two deaths were reported by the News Service of Florida, confirmation was hastily posted on the department’s website.
New data has added to growing evidence that the number of deaths linked to coronavirus in UK care homes may be far higher than those recorded so far. The National Care Forum (NCF) estimates that more than 4,000 elderly and disabled people have died across all residential and nursing homes. Its report comes amid calls for accurate data on virus-linked deaths. Only 217 such care home deaths have been officially recorded in England and Wales up to 3 April. The NCF, which represents not-for-profit care providers, said its findings highlight significant flaws in the official reporting of coronavirus-related death statistics.
It collected data from care homes looking after more than 30,000 people in the UK, representing 7.4% of those people living in one of the country’s thousands of care settings. It said that, across those specific homes, in the week between 7 April and 13 April, there had been 299 deaths linked to coronavirus. That was treble the figure for the previous week and double that in the whole of the preceding month. If that number was reflected across all residential and nursing homes, NCF estimated there have been 4,040 coronavirus-related deaths in care homes which are not yet included in official figures.
It was just a few days after the ban on visits to his mother’s nursing home in the Swedish city of Uppsala, on 3 April, that Magnus Bondesson started to get worried. “They [the home] opened up for Skype calls and that’s when I saw two employees. I didn’t see any masks and they didn’t have gloves on,” says Bondesson, a start-up founder and app developer. “When I called again a few days later I questioned the person helping out, asking why they didn’t use face masks, and he said they were just following the guidelines.” That same week there were numerous reports in Sweden’s national news media about just how badly the country’s nursing homes were starting to be hit by the coronavirus, with hundreds of cases confirmed at homes in Stockholm, the worst affected region, and infections in homes across the country.
Since then pressure has mounted on the government to explain how, despite a stated aim of protecting the elderly from the risks of Covid-19, a third of fatalities have been people living in care homes. Last week, as figures released by the Public Health Agency of Sweden indicated that 1,333 people had now died of coronavirus, the country’s normally unflappable state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell admitted that the situation in care homes was worrying. “This is our big problem area,” said Tegnell, the brains behind the government’s relatively light-touch strategy, which has seen it ask, rather than order, people to avoid non-essential travel, work from home and stay indoors if they are over 70 or are feeling ill.
The same day prime minister Stefan Löfven said that the country faced a “serious situation” in its old people’s homes, announced efforts to step up protections, and ordered the country’s health inspectorate to investigate. Lena Einhorn, a virologist who has been one of the leading domestic critics of Sweden’s coronavirus policy, told the Observer that the government and the health agency were still resisting the most obvious explanations. “They have to admit that it’s a huge failure, since they have said the whole time that their main aim has been to protect the elderly,” she said. “But what is really strange is that they still do not acknowledge the likely route. They say it’s very unfortunate, that they are investigating, and that it’s a matter of the training personnel, but they will not acknowledge that presymptomatic or asymptomatic spread is a factor.”
The agency’s advice to those managing and working at nursing homes [..] is that they should not wear protective masks or use other protective equipment unless they are dealing with a resident in the home they have reason to suspect is infected. Otherwise the central protective measure in place is that staff should stay home if they detect any symptoms in themselves. “Where I’m working we don’t have face masks at all, and we are working with the most vulnerable people of all,” said one care home worker, who wanted to remain anonymous. “We don’t have hand sanitiser, just soap. That’s it. Everybody’s concerned about it. We are all worried.” “The worst thing is that it is us, the staff, who are taking the infection in to the elderly,” complained one nurse to Swedish public broadcaster SVT. “It’s unbelievable that more of them haven’t been infected.”
To anyone doubting the Covid-19 bailouts will line executives’ pockets, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker says he’ll “find a way around” the rules against it. This after making $150 million while AAL’s stock plummeted 70%. Stock buybacks are the ultimate vehicle of self-enrichment. Consider the following as a ‘case study’ of Wall Street’s legal fraud. Under CEO Doug Parker’s leadership from 2013-2020, American Airlines has seen its stock plummet 70%. When one looks at Parker’s pay awarded vs the company’s three-year average economic profits, his pay-for-performance metrics are abominable. The media worships Parker for his stewardship of AAL during this crisis and reports that, for the past three years, Parker’s salary and bonus were zero.
However, they fail to mention that AAL’s legal Ponzi stock-buyback scheme saw Parker’s 2016-2018 take-home pay rocket to $70.2 million. (According to the FT, Parker’s total award from selling stock since 2013 is $150 million). It’s not bad for Parker, but it’s horrendous for AAL employees, shareholders and American taxpayers who will be stuffed with a $20 billion bailout. Fair? Not on your life. Debt-fuelled stock buybacks and dividend payments are engineered to artificially increase stock prices so that self-interested CEOs like Parker can “earn” higher compensation. Increasing debt creates an illusion of better earnings. However, buybacks cannibalize corporate balance sheets, leaving taxpayers exposed to unlimited “bailouts” when these leveraged bets go wrong.
What’s the difference between rogue hedge fund managers and airline CEOs? Not much, except some airline CEOs have been given golden parachutes to the tune of nearly $17.5 million. So who is enabling these CEOs to line their pockets with taxpayer money? Last summer, the US Federal Reserve released the results of its annual Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR). The CCAR is a bank stress test, which all the banks passed, and after passing the stress test, the Federal Reserve approved $125 billion in share buybacks! Yet, even though the banks all passed the stress test, the Financial Times recently reported that the president and chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (who oversaw TARP during the GFC of 2008) is recommending big US banks raise $200 billion in capital now to act as a buffer against economic shock from the “coronavirus pandemic.” This is a bit like putting on your seatbelt after your airbag has already deployed.
Because the CARES Act was rushed to the floor, members didn’t have all of the information they might have wanted before the vote. After the bill passed, Democratic staffers sent these tax provisions in the CARES Act, sections 2303 and 2304, to the Joint Committee on Taxation, to be scored. They were stunned to learn they would cost $195 billion over ten years. In other words, what seemed like a run-of-the-mill offhand legislative pork provision ended up dwarfing the airline bailout and other main parts of the bill. “The cost of caring for this small slice of the wealthiest one percent is greater than the CARES Act funded for all hospitals in America,” says Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett. “It’s greater than CARES provided for all state and local governments.”
The JCT analysis found that 80% of the benefit of the bill went to just 43,000 taxpayers each earning over $1 million a year. The average tax break for those 43,000 individuals was $1.6 million, an interesting number when one considers the loudness of the controversy over $1,200 relief checks for everyone else. Doggett joined Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in sending a letter to the Trump administration, demanding to know the provenance of these tax breaks. “This irresponsible provision must be repealed,” he says. It’s possible we’ll find out someday whose idea it was to insert those breaks. By then, however, other windfalls from the Covid-19 rescue might have rendered the $195 billion bailout appetizer quaint.
With the Fed’s announcement on April 9th of a $2.3 trillion program that includes purchases of junk bonds, the toolkit for support of the financial economy now encompasses nearly every conceivable official response apart from subsidy of stock markets. The sheer quantity of money raining down on the finance sector appears transformational, a “joyful noise” heard around the world.
Russia on Sunday reported a record rise of 6,060 new coronavirus cases over the previous 24 hours, bringing its nationwide tally to 42,853, the Russian coronavirus crisis response center said. The number of coronavirus cases in Russia began rising sharply this month, although it had reported far fewer infections than many western European countries in the outbreak’s early stages.
Spanish children have been kept indoors since 14 March, under strict measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. Now Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez aims to relax the rule on 27 April so they can “get some fresh air”. Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, who has young children herself, this week pleaded with the government to allow children outside. Spain has seen more than 20,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic and almost 200,000 reported cases. In a televised briefing on Saturday evening, Mr Sánchez said Spain had left behind “the most extreme moments and contained the brutal onslaught of the pandemic”.
But he said he would ask parliament to extend Spain’s state of alarm to 9 May as the achievements made were “still insufficient and above all fragile” and could not be jeopardised by “hasty decisions”. Another 565 deaths were reported on Saturday, well down from the peak of the pandemic, and the government allowed some non-essential workers to resume construction and manufacturing last Monday. However, the main lockdown measures remain in place, with adults only allowed out to visit food shops and pharmacies or work considered essential. Children have been barred from leaving their homes completely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now “actively looking into” results from universal COVID-19 testing at Pine Street Inn homeless shelter. The broad-scale testing took place at the shelter in Boston’s South End a week and a half ago because of a small cluster of cases there. “It was like a double knockout punch. The number of positives was shocking, but the fact that 100 percent of the positives had no symptoms was equally shocking,” said Dr. Jim O’Connell, president of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, which provides medical care at the city’s shelters. O’Connell said that the findings have changed the future of COVID-19 screenings at Boston’s homeless shelters.
“All the screening we were doing before this was based on whether you had a fever above 100.4 and whether you had symptoms,” said O’Connell. “How much of the COVID virus is being passed by people who don’t even know they have it?” The 146 people who tested positive were immediately moved to two different temporary isolation facilities in Boston. According to O’Connell, only one of those patients needed hospital care, and many continue to show no symptoms. “If we did universal testing among the general population, would these numbers be similar?” said Lyndia Downie, president and executive director at the Pine Street Inn.
“I think there are no many asymptomatic people right now. We just don’t know. We don’t have enough data on universal testing to understand how many asymptomatic people are contagious.” Hundreds of tests are now set to be conducted at additional Boston homeless shelters in the coming days. “It tells you, you don’t know who’s at risk. You don’t know what you need to do to contain the virus if you don’t actually have the details or facts,” said Marty Martinez, Boston’s chief of Health and Human Services.
On the third Friday of January a silent and stealthy killer was creeping across the world. Passing from person to person and borne on ships and planes, the coronavirus was already leaving a trail of bodies. The virus had spread from China to six countries and was almost certainly in many others. Sensing the coming danger, the British government briefly went into wartime mode that day, holding a meeting of Cobra, its national crisis committee. But it took just an hour that January 24 lunchtime to brush aside the coronavirus threat. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, bounced out of Whitehall after chairing the meeting and breezily told reporters the risk to the UK public was “low”.
This was despite the publication that day of an alarming study by Chinese doctors in the medical journal, The Lancet. It assessed the lethal potential of the virus, for the first time suggesting it was comparable to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which killed up to 50 million people. Unusually, Boris Johnson had been absent from Cobra. The committee — which includes ministers, intelligence chiefs and military generals — gathers at moments of great peril such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters and other threats to the nation and is normally chaired by the prime minister. Johnson had found time that day, however, to join in a lunar new year dragon eyes ritual as part of Downing Street’s reception for the Chinese community, led by the country’s ambassador.
It was a big day for Johnson and there was a triumphal mood in Downing Street because the withdrawal treaty from the European Union was being signed in the late afternoon. It could have been the defining moment of his premiership — but that was before the world changed. That afternoon his spokesman played down the looming threat from the east and reassured the nation that we were “well prepared for any new diseases”. The confident, almost nonchalant, attitude displayed that day in January would continue for more than a month. Johnson went on to miss four further Cobra meetings on the virus.
As Britain was hit by unprecedented flooding, he completed the EU withdrawal, reshuffled his cabinet and then went away to the grace-and-favour country retreat at Chevening where he spent most of the two weeks over half-term with his pregnant fiancée, Carrie Symonds. It would not be until March 2 — another five weeks — that Johnson would attend a Cobra meeting about the coronavirus. But by then it was almost certainly too late. The virus had sneaked into our airports, our trains, our workplaces and our homes. Britain was on course for one of the worst infections of the most deadly virus to have hit the world in more than a century. Last week, a senior adviser to Downing Street broke ranks and blamed the weeks of complacency on a failure of leadership in cabinet. In particular, the prime minister was singled out. “There’s no way you’re at war if your PM isn’t there,” the adviser said.
6 days ago, in an answer to a Parliamentary Question, the Canadian Deputy Prime Minister said all governments of The Five Eyes were informed by their intelligence agencies in early January of the dangers posed by the coronavirus: https://t.co/tHeIjxVHmH
Doctors and nurses treating Covid-19 patients face shortages of protective full-length gowns for weeks to come, it has emerged, as anger builds over the failure to stockpile the garments. Critical shortages of the gowns have meant that some trusts have already had to make do with the best available alternatives as a result of the shortages, which forced a sudden change in Public Health England (PHE) guidelines on the use of gowns on Friday. Concerns are being raised within the NHS over why the gowns did not form part of the government’s pandemic stockpile. It is understood shortages are already forcing some NHS workers to use the controversial new guidelines, which tell them to wear a plastic apron with coveralls should the specialist fluid-repellent gowns run out. Workers are also advised to reuse washed aprons.
Meanwhile, surgeons are being told by senior colleagues not to put themselves at risk should they be unable to wear a protective gown. Professor Neil Mortensen, from the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said surgeons should not risk their health if fluid-repellent gowns or coveralls could not be used. “We are deeply disturbed by this latest change to personal protective equipment (PPE) guidance, which was issued without consulting expert medical bodies,” he said. “After weeks of working with PHE and our sister medical royal colleges to get PPE guidance right, this risks confusion and variation in practice across the country.”
Health unions warned that staff could begin to refuse to work if they felt the new guidelines put them at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. Sara Gorton, Unison’s head of health, said: “Managers must be truly honest with health workers and their union reps over the weekend. If gowns run out, staff in high-risk areas may well decide that it’s no longer safe for them to work.” Last night, the British Medical Association (BMA) also warned that it would support doctors who refused to work with inadequate PPE. “There are limits to the level of risk staff can be expected to expose themselves and their patients to,” said Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair.
From a mosque in Banbury, taxi drivers left out of work during the lockdown are picking up an unusual fare: hundreds of doughballs and garlic dip that had been destined for local pizza restaurants and are now being diverted to people’s homes. Yasmin Kaduji, who runs Banbury Community Fridge is one of thousands of people working overtime across the UK to get meals to three million people thought to be going hungry due to the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, at the same time British farmers are warning they have been forced to throw millions of gallons of milk down the drain because it no longer has a buyer, cheesemakers are binning artisan cheese and meat processors have an overabundance of sirloin, rib-eye steaks and prime roasting joints. Supply and demand are severely misaligned.
While supermarket stocks have returned closer to normal after being plundered last month, more deep-rooted problems lay ahead for Britain’s food supplies which are set to come under increasing strain as lockdown is extended for at least another three weeks and could go on for much longer. The problem is not that there is not enough food but that the well-established routes that supply it have been upended so abruptly. When we saw empty shelves last month, the primary cause was not inconsiderate stockpilers, as some government ministers claimed, but the fact that a massive part of the food industry had been shut down overnight without a plan in place for how hundreds of millions of meals would be redirected.
Tim Lang, professor of food policy, at London’s City University, argues that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the fragility of our food system; a system which stretches out over thousands of miles, dozens of countries, and is reliant on migrant labour and air freight. That system has been reshaped, according to Professor Lang’s analysis, largely to suit the interests of nine companies which sell 90 per cent of the food we buy. Supermarkets have been happy to rely on sprawling supply chains that are left exposed during a crisis, as long as the price is right and the product sells. This, along with a “dangerously complacent” government, has left the UK vulnerable in the current situation, Professor Lang argues.
In just four years—from 1347 to 1351—between a third and a half of the population of Europe died. That would be world-shaking enough in itself, but it also completely rewrote the social order. Before the Black Death, European society had for centuries been structured around what we’d later call feudalism: to over-simplify massively, the system by which poorer people would work for richer ones in exchange for access to their land, and put up with having no freedom of movement because otherwise they didn’t eat. But when plague caused the population to collapse, food and land prices plummeted, too. Land without workers turned out to be worthless, so the lords found themselves competing for labourers. Despite assorted ruling class efforts to overcome the laws of supply and demand, wages rose, and keeping peasants tied to particular scraps of land proved impossible.
The Black Death didn’t just kill people. It probably killed feudalism, too. It’s too early to know how coronavirus might reshape 21st-century society. But we can certainly speculate. Perhaps, as large chunks of the workforce simultaneously shift to working from home for the first time, it’ll kill the idea that you need to be in the office to get stuff done. If it turns out that employees will do their work even if they’re not literally in their managers’ line of sight, bosses could finally shake their addiction to presenteeism. That could have all sorts of unpredictable knock-on effects: less pressure on transport networks, lower emissions, even relief for overheated housing markets as people discover they can live further from work. Or perhaps it could drive an increase in mothers’ participation in the workforce: more flexible office culture, after all, would make it easier to combine work with caring responsibilities.
[..] Now that a fear of financial ruin might drive sick, contagious people to work when they should be in isolation, perhaps we can go back to talking about the state as the enabler of our freedoms rather than the barrier to them. Or perhaps it won’t: where this will take us, we just don’t know, and your guess is as good as mine. But pandemics have been reshaping the world in unpredictable ways throughout history. If this crisis is even a fraction as serious as it seems, don’t be surprised if the world afterwards looks very unlike the world before.
Salvador Dali Remorse, or Sphinx Embedded In Sand 1931
Any image of a dead child is always harrowing, for everyone but the most deranged psychopaths among us. If the child has drowned while seeking a better life it is possibly worse. The public reaction of politicians to such images, which varies from doing very little, or nothing, to solve the issues that have led to a child drowning, to trying to make cheap political gains from the image, must be the worst.
On September 2 2015, this photo of Syrian Kurdish 2 year-old Alan Kurdi, lifeless on a beach near Bodrum, Turkey, went viral. Almost 4 years later, all Europe has done is try to hide the problems that led to his death, by handing Turkey billions of euros to keep refugees inside that country. And still today conditions in Lesbos, Greece are appalling. Hardly a thing has changed.
Improvements to the situation that lead to Alan Kurdi’s death, within Syria itself, have had very little to do with European efforts. Russia had a much bigger role in that. And Syria is not the only source, or place, of troubles and refugees. Libya has turned into an open air slave market thanks to US and EU “efforts” under Obama. And Iraq is not exactly a land of milk and honey either. Or Afghanistan.
And then this week another picture of a drowned child made the frontpages -and more. That child, too, drowned due to a situation that has a long history: the US seeking to turn Central America into a dirt-poor, chaotic and unsafe environment that local people desperately want to escape. Same difference. And again, in the US and EU it is used as propaganda material.
So who do you blame for this? Trump of course. Who also gets the blame for the conditions in which children are held at the US-Mexico border, in “cages”. A disaster that caused Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to stage a scene in which she cried her heart out while looking at an empty parking lot in an expensive dress.
The truth is, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. The people who are on AOC’s side of the divide will never see the reports on her faking the scene, that’s how segregated America has become. The “appropriate media” will convey the “appropriate” message” to the “appropriate audience”. Chuck Schumer even took the photograph to Capitol Hill for some quick and easy points.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: "President Trump, I want you to look at this photo. These are not drug dealers or vagrants or criminals. They are people simply fleeing a horrible situation in their home country for a better life." pic.twitter.com/zGJIWy3JQ0
What Schumer et al do not mention was that the “cages” AOC -ostensibly- cried about were built by the Obama government, i.e. Schumer’s own party. And there’s a few other things he conveniently left out. Like the fact that the horrible situations in their home countries that these people face are caused by the US itself, including Democrats like Schumer.
But first, some of the press on June 26, when the pictures came out:
The searing photograph of the sad discovery of their bodies on Monday, captured by journalist Julia Le Duc and published by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, highlights the perils faced by mostly Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty and hoping for asylum in the United States. According to Le Duc’s reporting for La Jornada, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria.
He set her on the U.S. bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away. The account was based on remarks by Ávalos to police at the scene — “amid tears” and “screams” — Le Duc told The Associated Press.
That border did not become “grim” overnight, it has been exactly that for many years. We have proof of that. But first, more easy points.
The Democratic presidential candidates rushed to condemn the “inhumane” situation on the US border with Mexico – with some directly blaming Donald Trump – after a picture of a Salvadoran father and his toddler daughter found dead in the Rio Grande shocked the nation. The photograph, which emerged on Tuesday night, showed Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, 26, and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria laying facedown near Matamoros, Mexico, on the bank of the river that marks the US border – reopening a fierce debate about the scale of the crisis.
The picture, by journalist Julia Le Duc, has drawn comparisons to the 2015 image of three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Jurdi, who drowned off Kos in Greece – sparking a significant moment in the European debate over migrants and refugees. Beto O’Rourke said: “Trump is responsible for these deaths.” Writing on Twitter, the former Texas congressman added: “As his administration refuses to follow our laws – preventing refugees from presenting themselves for asylum at our ports of entry – they cause families to cross between ports, ensuring greater suffering & death. At the expense of our humanity, not to the benefit of our safety.”
Fellow 2020 hopeful senator Kamala Harris condemned the picture as “a stain on our moral conscience”. She wrote: “These families seeking asylum are often fleeing extreme violence. And what happens when they arrive? Trump says, ‘Go back to where you came from.’ That is inhumane. Children are dying.” Corey Booker, New Jersey senator and 2020 candidate, also blamed the president. “We should not look away. These are the consequences of Donald Trump’s inhumane and immoral immigration policy. This is being done in our name,” he tweeted.
These people don’t appear to have any knowledge of their own history, their own party. Either that or they’re flat-out lying. Kamala Harris: “..what happens when they arrive? Trump says, ‘Go back to where you came from.’ That is inhumane. Children are dying.” Here Kamala, Corey, Beto, take a listen to what Obama said in both 2007 and again in 2014. Take your time, we’ll wait:
While it’s impossible to quantify misery, and we should not even try, perhaps the closest we can get to doing it anyway is by looking at the number of people who have died at the US Southwest border. And if you can do that over an entire 20-year period, you at least have some indication.
And what do we see? The number of deaths under Trump is not high at all, at least in relative terms. Every death is one too many, true enough. But still. Since 2000, there was only one year, 2015, in which there were fewer deaths than in the two Trump years, 2017 and 2018.
Here’s a more detailed version of this (click for larger pic in new tab):
But yes, I know how much people love to hate Trump and his administration, and often for good reason too. But this whole thing appears to be about issues that existed during the previous Obama administration- and W. Bush- just as much, if not more. When Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi already were where they are now: in positions of -real- power. So you know, what do you do when they try and blame Trump for the very things they were complicit in?
And then there’s Salvini in Italy refusing entry to a ship filled with refugees. Which pretty much says he’s trying to force captains to break age-old maritime law (or the Law of the Sea, admiralty?!). And you can say he’s an idiot for doing it, and he is, but he is also telling the EU that Italy can’t accept 10 times more refugees than other EU nations just because it happens to have a coastline.
And sure Salvini is a belligerent fool, and so is Trump, but if you want to understand what happens you can’t stop at blaming only them. It’s tempting but it’s also far too easy. Even the Dalai Lama said people should stay in their own countries. But also that they should receive help from the west. Which for many decades have only been terrorizing them. This is as true in Africa as it is in Central America.
Arguably, all we need to do to stop children like Alan Kurdi and Valeria from drowning at border crossings is to make their home countries safe from our own criminal and deathly activities. But that’s not going to be easy. I read this piece today from think tanking US professors Mark Hannah and Stephen Wertheim, and it doesn’t even make sense beyond the initial message:
The last two presidents, Obama and Trump, were unlikely aspirants to the office partly because they bucked national-security orthodoxy, blasting Middle East wars and the political class that started them. Obama and Trump won their elections partly for the same reason. Once in office, however, they struggled to deliver. Endless war continues; diplomacy is in tatters; Americans suffer from underinvestment where they live and work; and the greatest threats, like climate change, loom larger across the globe. In 2020, the candidate who not only identifies these problems, but offers real solutions, will benefit.
Problem is, the Democrats are a radically pro-war party, just like the Republicans. The writers silently admit this by not naming one Democrat who is anti-war, and by not at all naming the one presidential candidate who is, Tulsi Gabbard. Which makes one suspect that they and their backers are not so much anti-war as they are anti-Trump, but since many Americans are anti-war these days, they see it as a possibly winning platform.
Given that Wertheim is a co-founder with George Soros and the Koch brothers of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, none of this is surprising. They just want the power back, and if that takes promising no more forever war during an election campaign, hey, that’s fine with them. And then once the election’s done, they can go back to their merry ways of inciting wars. They might as well claim they’re going to save us from climate change too.
The solution to the problem of children -and adults- drowning at border crossings is dead -pun intended- simple. Stop bombing people, stop interfering in their countries altogether, stop strangling them with economic sanctions. Implementing these very easy policies, though, is far from simple. And so the problem keeps growing.
The most important take-away from all this is that the problem is not Salvini or Trump, but the EU and US, the entire “body politic” of both. Where left and right are on the same side, that of power and money, and their ‘differences’ are mere distractions that serve to entertain their audiences. And the media whipping up a blind hatred of everything Salvini or Trump, is not going to make this world a better place.
Left and right alike dance to the tunes of the arms industries and other large corporations, which profit from chaos and misery, both in ‘powerless’ countries and at home. We’re stuck with “progressives” who have no meaningful link to progress and conservatives whose very last idea seems to be to conserve anything of value.
But be critical of the left and you’re labeled right wing, and vise versa. We live in a modern version of a segregated society, not progressing anywhere and not conserving a single thing on its way there.
We need to do better, much better, if we are to prevent the next child from drowning.
Henry Bacon Fisherfolk returning with their nets, Étretat 1890
Let’s try a different angle. How about the world through the eyes of children’s? I don’t want to dwell on John McCain, too many people already do today, but I would suggest that your thoughts and prayers are with the souls of the hundreds of thousands of children that died because McCain advocated bombing them. Or, indeed, 50-odd years ago, were bombed by him personally. I wanted to leave him be altogether, don’t kick a man when he’s down, but I can’t get the image out of my head of him singing “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran”.
To remember that, perhaps the most vile and infamous thing he’s ever done (it’s in the top ten), and then see someone like Ocasio-Cortez say he was an “unparalleled example of human decency”, it’s almost comedy. But not as funny as when in the 2008 campaign the woman in the red dress asked him if Obama was an Arab, and he responded: “No, ma’am. No, ma’am. He’s a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign is all about”.
That is full-blown hilarious. And hardly a soul caught it, which makes it many times worse. It made him a decent man in the eyes of Americans to defend Obama by declaring that Arabs are per definition neither decent nor family men. Yeah, well, you might as well bomb them all then. But enough about McCain: it’s about the children, and their souls, not his.
The Pope is visiting Ireland this weekend. There is really just one subject on people’s minds, even though the ‘leaders’ say this is one of Ireland’s biggest events in 40 years. What’s on their minds is -child- sex abuse by Catholic clergy. And it’s been -and probably still is- rampant in the country. Like it’s been everywhere the Catholic church is an important force. Which is in many countries, there are 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. The man claimed he was begging for God’s forgiveness. Not sure that will do it, there, Francis.
The Roman Catholic religion, and the Church, are fronts for the world’s biggest business empire, a multinational at least 1500 years older than the next one, Holland’s VOC -which existed maybe 100 years-. It has played power politics for longer than anyone else, all over the world. Its real estate portfolio alone is worth more than many a country. For that matter, it effectively owns many a country.
There would have to be a huge outcry over the child abuse before there could ever be an investigation. Multiple popes have promised exactly such investigations, and nothing has happened. It would upset the business model too much. And most faithful still believe their priests are decent men, anyway. Yes, there’s that word again, ‘decent’.
If a priest can no longer be maintained in a specific church because he’s been too obvious, too perverted and too greedy, he simply gets transferred to another parish. They’ve been doing this for 1,500 years, they got it down. And when things heat up, they beg god for forgiveness. While the Church gets ever richer.
At a 2% annual growth rate, wealth doubles every 34-35 years. The Catholic Church has been at it for 1,500. Do your math. Or look at it this way: real estate prices have been surging over the past few decades. And that’s the Vatican’s main industry. Anyone want to venture a guess at how much money they have made?
The Vatican is a facade hiding behind a facade hiding behind… Francis Ford Coppola tried tackling the topic in The Godfather III, but he was only mildly successful and not many people believed his portrayal. But, again, this is not about the Pope playing Kabuki theater like all his predecessors, it’s about the children.
In the US, some 500 children are still separated from their parents, if they’re still in the country. Haven’t heard much from Judge Dana Sabraw, according to whose ruling they should have been reunited weeks ago. Where is the Judge? Where are the children?
At the same time, we learn that about 52% of Americans under 18 -i.e. children, some 40 million of them- live in households that depend on some form of welfare. And Americans want to chide European nations for being ‘socialist’. That’s humor too.
But again, it’s about the children. How can they ever reach their potential if there’s a constant cloud of financial worry hanging over their heads, if many of them still don’t enough to eat, if much of what they eat is junk food, which is full of glyphosate to boot, and if it takes $100,000 or so in debt just to get a degree?
And that’s just the kids at home. Abroad, Americans treat children even a lot worse than they do their own. With the shining example of John McCain in mind, they have supplied the Saudi’s with much of the weaponry needed to murder many thousands more children in Yemen. 1.2 million human beings are estimated to have died in Iraq alone. Thanks John. That’s what, half a million children there alone?
In Greece, numbers came out this week that said the number of refugees on the islands is presently 16,000, vs 10,000 a year ago. And yes, many of them are children. Still in overcrowded camps, nothing has changed. It’s like the Catholic Church’s promising investigations. Nothing ever happens. Nobody cares. Well, nobody who has the power to make things happen.
The politicians all think about their careers. If it helps them in the next election to help refugees, children, countries, they will. If not, not. In the case of Greece, people are waking up to what actually happened to this country. Just too late. Matthew Klein wrote in Barron’s:
There was no political will in 2010 to spend hundreds of billions of euros to bail out Dutch, French, and German banks. To Greece’s eternal misfortune, however, there was enough “solidarity” to launder that Northern European bank bailout through the Greek government.
What does that have to do with children? Apart from the thousands of refugee children stranded on Greek islands and the mainland, Greek children themselves often no longer have access to sufficient food, healthcare, education, no matter how hard parents and others try. But at least Germany and Holland et al can boast about their growing economies.
We’re getting this wrong, we’re getting it all upside down. Children are not objects to treat and use to further political and corporate agendas. They are the future. Abuse them, maim them, kill them, under-feed them, under-educate them, and you end up with a screwed-up, abusive, underfed and under-educated world.
In that report about US children living in welfare dependent households there’s an interesting number: while 52.1% of under-18’s live in such a household, only 18.8% of over 75’s do. In other words, wealth is heavily skewed towards baby boomers and older. And that is somewhat defensible, since people need money for retirement, but it’s not if it means condemning others to food stamps.
This paints the portrait of a broken society, and -predictably- the weakest are the victims. Children. But the most heartbreaking, even if that is a hard point to make when we’ve already seen how many have been bombed, comes from Nauru, Australia’s ‘private’ prison island for refugees. As Australians think about how much their property has surged in price this week, their government(s) are responsible -in their name- for this:
A girl suffering “resignation syndrome” and who is refusing all food and water has been ordered off Nauru by an Australian court, as a succession of critically ill children are brought from the island. At least three children have left the island since Thursday, and reports from island sources say at least three more children, as young as 12, are “on FFR” – food and fluid refusal.
The current crisis on the island is overwhelming medical staff, who are referring dozens of children for transfer off the island, only to have their decisions rebuffed by Australian Border Force officials on the island or department of home affairs bureaucrats in Canberra. Two children were moved off the island with their families on Thursday.
Early on Friday morning, a 14-year-old refugee boy suffering a major depressive disorder and severe muscle wastage after not getting out of bed for four months, was flown directly from Nauru to Brisbane with his family. There are concerns, doctors say, he may never be able to walk normally again.
Later on Friday, in the federal court, Justice Tom Thawley ordered another girl – given the designation EIV18 by the court – to be moved to Australia for urgent medical treatment. Court orders prevent publication of the girl’s age – other than the fact she is a child – her name or country of origin. [..] The girl has been inside the supported accommodation area of the regional processing centre for three weeks, and has been refusing food and water for much of that time.
Before she, too, fell into acute depression and “resignation syndrome”, and refused to eat or drink anything, she had been one of the brightest and most articulate of the refugee children on Nauru. “Before she got sick, she was the best-performing student,” a source familiar with the girl and her condition told the Guardian. “She had a dream to be a doctor in Australia and to help others. Now, she is on food-and-fluid refusal and begging to die as death is better than Nauru.”
Can you be a worse human being than John McCain was? It’s not easy. But some people are still trying. Hard to fathom how Australians can be so silent about this. Where are the protests in the streets of Melbourne and Sydney?
Caring only about your own children while throwing the rest away with the bathwater is neither feasible nor viable. You’re bringing up children destined to fight and hate each other. For no reason that I can see at all. Do you enjoy the world of John McCain, where children were bombed for 50 years in two dozen or so countries? Or do you think that’s not such a good idea?
McCain could succeed only because his country, and the world around him, failed. Don’t set up your children, and all children, to fail in the same way he did.