Mar 032021
 


Jean-Michel Basquiat Irony of the Negro Policeman 1981

 

Texas And Mississippi Drop Covid Restrictions – Even Mask Mandates (F.)
Russian Deputy PM Golikova Predicts ‘Herd Immunity’ By End Of Summer (RT)
Microsoft, LA School District Develop COVID ‘Daily Pass’ App (DC)
Israel Launches Covid-Tracking ‘Freedom Bracelet’ (RT)
Is Europe Open For Summer? All Bets Are Off For US Travelers (F.)
EU’s Faltering COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Triggers Rebellion (G&M)
The Age of Social Murder (Chris Hedges)
Warren’s Wealth Tax Would Cost 100 Richest Americans $78 Billion (Hill)
Andrew Cuomo Is Living To Regret The Deal He Pushed On Letitia James (IC)
Tanden Withdraws Nomination As Biden Budget Chief (Hill)
Remember That GDP = Waste (CHS)
The Goldilocks Stimulus Myth (Varoufakis)
The Opposite of 2008 (Ben Hunt)
Dr. Seuss Didn’t Have ‘A Racist Bone’ In His Body – Stepdaughter (NYP)
There Is No Such Thing as “White” Math (Klainerman)

 

 

“With” COVID.

 

 

Do we all understand why this is inevitable? Abbott’s biggest critic says he “is doing what he does best: leaving Texans to fend for themselves.”

But isn’t what what Texans want? Florida is open, and doing much better than New York, which is closed. Science as a religion does not work.

Texas And Mississippi Drop Covid Restrictions – Even Mask Mandates (F.)

Texas and Mississippi are both dropping their Covid-19 restrictions on businesses and ending their mask mandates, the states’ governors announced Tuesday, the latest in a string of states that have relaxed or dropped restrictions as cases have fallen nationwide despite public health officials strongly urging against it. “It is time to open Texas 100%,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at a press conference Tuesday, saying “all businesses, of any type” can fully open as of next Wednesday. Abbott said increased Covid-19 testing, personal protective equipment and vaccines put the state in a “far better position” than when orders were first issued, and “Texans have mastered the daily habits to avoid getting Covid.”

County judges can impose local restrictions if hospitalizations raise to more than 15% of the region’s hospital bed capacity for seven days straight, Abbott said, but they cannot impose occupancy restrictions of less than 50% and cannot impose penalties against people who don’t wear masks. Gov. Tate Reeves announced Mississippi will also rescind a mask mandate that required them only in certain counties—the state already dropped a statewide mask order in September—and will lift all business restrictions except in schools and a 50% capacity limit for indoor arenas. Though less stringent than some other states, Texas does have social distancing restrictions in place for now for many businesses, such as a 75% capacity limit on indoor dining and gyms and a 50% capacity limit on bars, as well as an order for them to stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m.

Texas is the largest state so far to entirely drop its Covid-19 restrictions, but the state and Mississippi follow Florida and other Republican-led states that have taken similar measures. “Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed to contain Covid. It’s just that now, state mandates are no longer needed,” Abbott said. “At this time, people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.” “Abbott removing a statewide mandate while preaching personal responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID is an abdication of his own personal and professional responsibility to keep Texans safe,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement Tuesday. “By removing all previous state mandates and opening the state to 100 percent, Governor Abbott, who has never taken this pandemic seriously, is doing what he does best: leaving Texans to fend for themselves.”

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I’m still a bit amazed at how the meaning of “herd immunity” seamlessly came to include vaccines.

Russian Deputy PM Golikova Predicts ‘Herd Immunity’ By End Of Summer (RT)

If the current Covid-19 vaccination rates are maintained, there will be collective immunity in Russia by August, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova has predicted, while making it clear the pandemic is still “quite serious.” Speaking in an interview with news network TASS, published Tuesday, Golikova revealed that the government is planning to reach 60 percent collective immunity – one of the prerequisites for removing all pandemic-related restrictions. “In order to determine the final date of achieving collective immunity, we have developed an epidemiological and mathematical model,” Golikova said. “If vaccination is carried out at the same pace as it is now, and the number of vaccination points remains the same, then the country will achieve collective immunity in August 2021.”

The deputy prime minister also noted that the number of detected cases is slowly declining, after a peak in late December. On Tuesday, the official Covid-19 HQ reported 10,565 new daily instances of coronavirus – a steep drop from the 29,935 figure of just over two months ago. “The numbers of new cases of coronavirus infection are still quite serious, although reassuringly decreasing,” she said. “You will remember that we decided to ease measures last May, when we were at just around this point in terms of the number of new cases.” However, Golikova was also careful to note that viral infections spread more in winter and at the beginning of spring, meaning precautions still need to be taken. She also refused to name a date when life in Russia would get back to normal.

“Neither we nor the world has yet accumulated enough experience to understand how long the immune defense lasts,” she explained. “Of course, everyone is now relaxed and believes that Covid is going away. The situation is better now, but the virus is still not going anywhere. You need to take care of yourself and your loved ones.”

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Wow, this is scary: “School staff members dedicated to be ‘Welcomers’ will be at every site to scan the QR code and take your temperature at the entrance.”

Microsoft, LA School District Develop COVID ‘Daily Pass’ App (DC)

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has worked with Microsoft to develop the “Daily Pass” app to monitor coronavirus the vaccination status, health symptoms and temperatures of its students. “Sort of like the golden ticket in ‘Willy Wonka,’ everyone with this pass can easily get into a school building,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said during his weekly update on Sunday, according to Fox News. “Los Angeles Unified has launched a one-stop shop web app built specifically for the District to ensure that we get students, faculty and administrators back to schools and district offices as safely as possible,” read a statement on the school’s website, which included an animated clip about the app.


In the video, a student uses the app in order to gain their “daily pass” to go back to school. The pass includes a daily health check, details about their “weekly” coronavirus test and scheduling for their vaccination once it becomes available. “Students, parents and visitors will access the Daily Pass on any computer, tablet or mobile device at dailypass.lausd.net. Answer the daily health check questions (not more than a two-minute process!),” the LAUSD website reads, describing the process for students. “If the individual has recently tested negative for COVID-19 and completes the online health check, a QR code will be generated for that day and specific site location,” it continues. “School staff members dedicated to be ‘Welcomers’ will be at every site to scan the QR code and take your temperature at the entrance.”

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And so is this. It definitely looks like the opposite of freedom.

Israel Launches Covid-Tracking ‘Freedom Bracelet’ (RT)

Israel has unveiled a coronavirus-tracking bracelet as an alternative to a two-week quarantine for incoming travelers, sparking privacy concerns as a top court moved to curb the Shin Bet spy agency’s role in contact tracing. A pilot program for the tracking bracelet kicked off at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday, where 100 devices were doled out to arriving travelers as a way to avoid a stay at a military-administered quarantine hotel. Instead, those opting for the bracelet system – which features the electronic wristband, a smartphone app and a wall-mounted tracking device – will be free to return home to wait out the two-week isolation period.

While the device will alert authorities if participants venture too far from the wall-mounted tracker, Ordan Trabelsi, the CEO of SuperCom, the company behind the bracelet, said it does not collect any other information, insisting the tech is minimally intrusive. “Nobody is forced to do it, but for those who are interested, it gives them another option: more flexibility,” he said. The pilot project – which Trabelsi has already called to expand to “thousands of units” for “wide-scale use” – may trigger further anxiety given SuperCom’s past work with a number of governments around the world to provide “offender monitoring” services, using its tracking tech to surveil prisoners and detainees. The firm signed a contract last year with a government agency in Wisconsin to offer the same service, and also sells technology used for electronic IDs, voter biometrics and cybersecurity.

As the rollout of the tracking bracelets got underway on Monday, Israel’s top court ruled that the country’s domestic spying agency, the Shin Bet, must rein in its Covid-19 contact-tracing efforts, calling the surveillance “draconian” and a threat to Israeli democracy. While the government has employed the Shin Bet for tracing since last March, the court has repeatedly challenged the practice, finally ruling that the agency may only be used under special circumstances beginning on March 14. “From [that] day on, the use of the Shin Bet will be limited to cases in which a confirmed coronavirus patient was not cooperating in his [epidemiological] investigation, whether intentionally or not, or gave no report of his encounters,” the court said.

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

Is Europe Open For Summer? All Bets Are Off For US Travelers (F.)

There is some optimism in the U.S. that increased vaccination rates, decreasing Covid-19 rates and the rise of health passport schemes could open international travel up for the summer. At a time when EU countries are raising borders, however, all the signs in Europe point to the fact that summer 2021 is still incredibly uncertain for anyone wishing to travel from outside the region. There are extremely conflicting views about summer. On one side, the optimists. Intelligencer gave 9 Reasons To Believe The Worst Of The Pandemic Is Over and The Atlantic quoted Anthony Fauci’s prediction that herd immunity might be reached by August and that Covid-19 cases across the U.S. are declining much more sharply than anticipated, declaring that “the summer of 2021 is shaping up to be historic.”

On the other side are reports that the summer might indeed be historic but for entirely different reasons. The United Nations World Tourism Organization called 2020 the worst year on record for tourism but recently stated that 2021’s prospects had worsened. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, tourist destinations had been hoping for a sorely needed rebound but “with vaccine rollouts delayed in some places and new virus strains appearing, it is looking more likely that international travel could be stalled for years.” Worse still, 41% of experts polled by the UN didn’t think that pre-pandemic levels of tourism would be reached until 2024. It’s a view supported by the International Air Transport Association which said that air travel might only improve by 13% this year and industry insiders who said that it may be that long haul travel doesn’t properly resume until 2023 or 2024.

Many people are pinning hopes on the idea of vaccination passports, coupled with increased vaccination rates, to open up borders by the summer. But as reported by Bloomberg, this is far from sure. As stated by the World Health Organization, no one yet knows how vaccines will stop the spread of Covid-19, nor is it clear how the vaccines will hold up against variant strains. Digital health cards or vaccination/immunity passports are fraught with political and social obstacles, raising issues of equality and discrimination, never mind logistics. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokesperson in Geneva told Bloomberg, “it’s very important for people to understand that at the moment, all we know about the vaccines is that they will very effectively reduce your risk of severe disease. We haven’t seen any evidence yet indicating whether or not they stop transmission.”

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The EU doing what it does best. Be useless.

EU’s Faltering COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Triggers Rebellion (G&M)

The European Union’s vaccine unity has shattered as shortages push a few desperate countries to seek outside supplies and create foreign partnerships. Frustrated by the vaccine shortages, at least four EU countries – Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland – have struck deals to buy Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, or are considering doing so. The Chinese vaccine is also a contender. The Russian and Chinese products have not been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The EU’s vaccine rollout remains stubbornly slow, although the pace has picked up somewhat in recent days. By Tuesday, the 27-country EU – population 450 million – had administered only 33.5 million doses, equivalent to 7.5 per 100 citizens.


[..] In a blow to the EC vaccine strategy, which is overseen by EC president Ursula von der Leyen, Slovakia and Hungary granted emergency approval of the Sputnik vaccine. Slovakia, which currently has the highest number of pandemic deaths per capita over a seven-day period, is to receive two million doses of the Sputnik vaccine. The question is whether one of the EU’s big countries will also break ranks and order outside vaccine supplies. Francesco Galietti, chief executive of the Rome political consultancy Policy Sonar, said that Mario Draghi, Italy’s new prime minister, might be forced to buy the Russian vaccine if Italy’s campaign doesn’t pick up momentum soon. “Draghi will have to carefully assess whether the Western vaccines are enough,” he said in an interview. “He seems to have realized that Italy cannot survive economically if the vaccine is not rolled out before the summer. He knows the importance of tourism to Italy.”

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The larger picture.

The Age of Social Murder (Chris Hedges)

The two million deaths that have resulted from the ruling elite’s mishandling of the global pandemic will be dwarfed by what is to follow. The global catastrophe that awaits us, already baked into the ecosystem from the failure to curb the use of fossil fuels and animal agriculture, presage new, deadlier pandemics, mass migrations of billions of desperate people, plummeting crop yields, mass starvation, and systems collapse. The science that elucidates this social death is known to the ruling elites. The science that warned us of this pandemic, and others that will follow, is known to the ruling elites. The science that shows that a failure to halt carbon emissions will lead to a climate crisis and ultimately the extinction of the human species and most other species is known to the ruling elites. They cannot claim ignorance. Only indifference.

The facts are incontrovertible. Each of the last four decades have been hotter than the last. In 2018, the UN International Panel on Climate Change released a special report on the systemic effects of a 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperatures. It makes for very grim reading. Soaring temperature rises — we are already at a 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.16 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels — are already baked into the system, meaning that even if we stopped all carbon emission today, we still face catastrophe. Anything above a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius will render the earth unhabitable. The Arctic ice along with the Greenland ice sheet are now expected to melt regardless of how much we reduce carbon emissions. A seven-meter (23-foot) rise in sea level, which is what will take place once the ice is gone, means every town and city on a coast at sea level will have to be evacuated.

[..] As the climate crisis worsens, the political constrictions will tighten, making public resistance difficult. We do not live, yet, in the brutal Orwellian state that appears on the horizon, one where all dissidents will suffer the fate of Julian Assange. But this Orwellian state is not far away. This makes it imperative that we act now. The ruling elites, despite the accelerating and tangible ecological collapse, mollify us, either by meaningless gestures or denial. They are the architects of social murder. Social murder, as Friedrich Engels noted in his 1845 book “The Condition of the Working-Class in England,” one of the most important works of social history, is built into the capitalist system. The ruling elites, Engels writes, those that hold “social and political control,” were aware that the harsh working and living conditions during the industrial revolution doomed workers to “an early and unnatural death:”

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Something tells me they can afford it.

Warren’s Wealth Tax Would Cost 100 Richest Americans $78 Billion (Hill)

A new wealth tax proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other progressives on Monday would result in the 100 richest Americans paying over $78 billion in taxes annually, according to analysis by Bloomberg News. The bill, called the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act, would require households with a net worth of more than $50 million to pay 2 percent of their wealth every year. A 1 percent surtax would be added for those with a net worth in excess of $1 billion. That would mean Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, would face an additional $5.4 billion in taxes if the bill were signed into law this year, according to Bloomberg News. Tesla CEO Elon Musk would pay an additional $5.2 billion, Bill Gates would pay $4 billion more and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would see his tax bill increase by about $3 billion.


The legislation, which is unlikely to pass Congress, would affect tax payments starting in 2023. “As Congress develops additional plans to help our economy, the wealth tax should be at the top of the list to help pay for these plans because of the huge amounts of revenue it would generate,” Warren said on Monday when unveiling the new proposal. “This is money that should be invested in child care and early education, K-12, infrastructure, all of which are priorities of President Biden and Democrats in Congress,” she added. “I’m confident lawmakers will catch up to the overwhelming majority of Americans who are demanding more fairness, more change, and who believe it’s time for a wealth tax.” According to Bloomberg News, the 100 richest Americans added $598 billion to their fortunes last year. Warren’s proposed tax would take 13 percent of that added wealth.

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Your daily drip drip.

Andrew Cuomo Is Living To Regret The Deal He Pushed On Letitia James (IC)

In 2003, Letitia “Tish” James shook the New York Democratic political establishment, becoming the first City Council candidate to win office solely as a nominee of the Working Families Party. James spent the next 15 years as an outspoken, independent-minded progressive and a leading voice for the city’s social movements. In 2013, despite being vastly outspent, she won a tight race for New York City public advocate, a stepping stone to mayor. Her close alliance with the city’s grassroots was considered by political observers to be both a benefit and an obstacle. She had people behind her, but she didn’t have money — and moving to the next level required lots of it. When New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was forced to resign amid a #MeToo scandal in 2018, James was quickly discussed as a potential successor. But could she raise the funds?

That’s where Andrew Cuomo came in. The state’s governor, who was seeking his third term, was in the midst of a long-running feud with the organization that was so intimately linked with James’s rise, the WFP. Under pressure from Cuomo, local unions had left the party, taking their clout and financing with them. In April 2018, the WFP came for the king, endorsing activist and actor Cynthia Nixon for the Democratic primary over Cuomo, who vowed to destroy the organization. Cuomo had long treated figures in New York politics — his playground — like kids to be bullied. He turned his attention to James. In May, Cuomo made James an excruciating offer: He would endorse her and open his donor network to her, but it would come at a price. Not only would she have to endorse him, she would have to publicly refuse the support of the WFP.

Ripped from the pages of a cliched mafia screenplay, James would have to prove her loyalty by executing her longtime ally. James was left with two bad options: Accepting Cuomo’s offer was the most likely route to winning the election, but it would come with accusations that she had traded in her trademark independence and social justice values. Rejecting it could cost her the election and make Cuomo into a fatal enemy. James took the deal. The WFP endorsed her anyway, against her public will, while jointly endorsing Zephyr Teachout. The bulk of their spending went toward opposing the most right-leaning candidate, Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents a congressional district upstate.

In the fictional version of these parables, a deal with the devil always ends the same way: The devil always gets his due. But New York politics is not a parable. The story’s new plot twist conforms more closely to a Disney version: Cuomo is getting his due of a different kind, with scrutiny over his failed coronavirus response and an investigation into sexual harassment claims. His fate now rests with Tish James.

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She’s just one of a large group. And she’ll be in the administration anyway.

Tanden Withdraws Nomination As Biden Budget Chief (Hill)

Neera Tanden has withdrawn her nomination to head President Biden’s White House budget office after her prospects of Senate confirmation flamed out.The White House made the announcement on Tuesday evening, capping a tumultuous few weeks surrounding the fight over her nomination. Tanden, who would have been the first woman of color to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), faced scrutiny over mean tweets she had written about Republicans and progressive Democrats alike in her previous role heading the Center for American Progress think tank.“I have accepted Neera Tanden’s request to withdraw her name from nomination for Director of the Office of Management and Budget,” Biden said in a statement.

“I have the utmost respect for her record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel, and I look forward to having her serve in a role in my Administration. She will bring valuable perspective and insight to our work.”Tanden is Biden’s first Cabinet nominee to be withdrawn from consideration, making this an early blow for the president. The White House spent the past two weeks insisting there was a path to confirmation for Tanden and vowed to fight for her, even as her prospects dimmed.Tanden is expected to be appointed to an administration role that does not require Senate confirmation.A handful of names have circulated as potential replacements for Tanden. Shalanda Young, who on Wednesday underwent a confirmation hearing to be the deputy OMB director, is seen as the most likely nominee.

In her controversial tweets, many of which were deleted in recent months, Tanden compared Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to Voldemort and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to a vampire and insinuated that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) benefited from Russian hacking in the 2016 election.In two confirmation hearings, she repeatedly apologized for the tweets and promised to strike a more collegial tone as a member of the administration.Her nomination began to unravel when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) pulled his support, citing the need for comity. In the evenly divided Senate, that left Tanden reliant on support from centrist Republicans such as Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), who also was a target of Tanden’s tweets. That support was not forthcoming.

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As I’ve said 1000 times: Our economies run on waste.

Remember That GDP = Waste (CHS)

We’re told the gross domestic product (GDP) measures growth, but what it really measures is waste: capital, labor and resources that are squandered and then mislabeled “growth” for PR purposes. If we only manage what we measure, then we’re mismanaging our economy by promoting waste as the only metric we measure and incentivize. Forecasts now predict a rousing 6.8% “growth” in 2021 GDP. In other words, the amount of resources and capital being squandered is going parabolic and we love it! 50 million autos and trucks stuck in traffic, burning millions of gallons of fuel while going nowhere? Growth! All that wasted fuel adds to GDP. Everyone who works from home detracts from “growth” since they didn’t waste fuel sitting in traffic jams. That’s bad! Wasting millions of gallons of gasoline is “growth”!

Repaving a little-used road: growth! Never mind the money could have been invested in repairing a heavily traveled road, or adding safe bikeways, etc.–in the current neo-Keynesian system, building bridges to nowhere is “infrastructure growth.” GDP has no mechanism to measure the opportunity costs of squandering capital, labor and resources on investments with marginal or even negative returns. Buying a new refrigerator to replace a broken one that could have been fixed by replacing a $10 sensor: growth! GDP has no mechanism for calculating the utility still remaining in roads, vehicles, buildings, etc. that are replaced–throwing away all the fixed-investment’s remaining utility to buy a new replacement is strongly encouraged because it adds to “growth.”

Planned obsolescence that sends everything on a conveyor belt to the landfill is “growth”– we love the Landfill Economy because all that incredibly needless waste is “growth”! Building and maintaining extraordinarily costly weapons systems that are already obsolete: growth! The gargantuan future costs of interest paid by taxpayers on the debt borrowed to pay for failed weapons systems like the trillion-dollar rathole known as the F-35 aircraft program is not calculated by GDP. The staggering costs of indebting future taxpayers is ignored by GDP– the only thing that counts in GDP is “growth” in spending, no matter how useless. [..] GDP has no mechanism to measure the value of alternatives that use less capital, labor and resources to get the same results.

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How to get it just right.

The Goldilocks Stimulus Myth (Varoufakis)

To see why there can be no “Goldilocks” stimulus that gets the amount “just right,” it helps to engage the critics who argue that the administration’s proposal would overheat the economy and hand the Republicans the midterms. Central to their prediction is their tacit assumption that there is also a Goldilocks interest rate and a corresponding stimulus size that will deliver it. What would render any rate of interest “just right”? First, it would achieve the right balance between available savings and productive investment. Second, it would not unleash a cascade of corporate bankruptcies, bad loans, and a fresh banking crisis. And there’s the rub: It is not at all clear that there is a single interest rate that can do both.

Once upon a time, there was. In the 1950s and early 1960s, under the Bretton Woods system, an interest rate of around 4% did the trick of balancing savings and investment while keeping bank profitability at a level that allowed credit to reproduce itself sustainably. Back then, if investment fell below available savings for too long, and failed to recover despite a reduction in the interest rate, a well-designed government stimulus raised investment back to the level of savings, the rate of interest picked up, and balance was restored. Alas, we no longer live in that kind of world. The reason capitalism no longer works like that is the manner in which the Obama administration, aided and abetted by the Federal Reserve, re-floated the sinking Western banks. The 2008 crisis was as deep and terrible as that of 1929.

As in 1929, sequential bankruptcies, unemployment, and falling prices meant no one was willing to borrow. Interest rates nosedived to zero and capitalism fell into what John Maynard Keynes referred to as the “liquidity trap.” Once at zero, the interest rate could not go much lower without destroying what was left of the banking sector, insurance companies, pension funds, and other financial institutions. The great difference between 1929 and 2008 was that in 2008 the banks were not allowed to fail. One way to save them was a large enough fiscal stimulus. Direct injections of freshly minted money to consumers and firms – to pay off debts and to increase consumption and investment – would have re-floated Main Street and, indirectly, Wall Street. This was the road not taken by the Obama administration.

Instead, the Fed printed trillions of dollars, and the failing banks were re-floated directly. But while the banks were saved, the economy was not freed from the liquidity trap. The banks lent the new money to corporations, but, because their customers were not re-floated, managers were unwilling to risk plowing the money into good jobs, buildings, or machines. Instead, they took it to the stock market, causing the largest-ever disconnect between share prices and the real economy.

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The warnings of inflation are getting louder.

The Opposite of 2008 (Ben Hunt)

In late 2007 I started counting the For Sale signs on the 20 minute drive to work through the neighborhoods of Weston and Westport, CT. I’m not exactly sure why it made my risk antenna start quivering in the first place … honestly, I just like to count things – anything – when I’m doing a repetitive task. Coming into 2008 there were a mid-teen number of For Sale signs on my regular route, up from high single-digits in 2007. By May of 2008 there were 35+ For Sale signs. If there’s a better real-world signal of financial system distress than everyone who takes Metro North from Westport to Grand Central trying to sell their homes all at the same time and finding no buyers … I don’t know what that signal is. The insane amount of housing supply in Wall Street bedroom communities in early 2008 was a crucial datapoint in my figuring out the systemic risks and market ramifications of the Great Financial Crisis.


Last week, for the first time in years, I made the old drive to count the number of For Sale signs. Know how many there were?Zero. And then on Friday I saw this article from the NY Times – Where Have All the Houses Gone? – with these two graphics:I mean … my god.Here’s where I am right now as I try to piece together what the Opposite of 2008 means for markets and real-world.

1) Home price appreciation will not show up in official inflation stats. In fact, given that a) rents are flat to declining, and b) the Fed uses “rent equivalents” as their modeled proxy for housing inputs to cost of living calculations, it’s entirely possible that soaring home prices will end up being a negative contribution to official inflation statistics. This is, of course, absolutely insane, but it’s why we will continue to hear Jay Powell talk about “transitory” inflation that the Fed “just doesn’t see”.

2) Cash-out mortgage refis and HELOCs are going to explode. On Friday, I saw that Rocket Mortgage reported on their quarterly call that refi applications were coming in at their fastest rate ever. As the kids would say, I’m old enough to remember the tailwind that home equity withdrawals provided for … everything … in 2005-2007. This will also “surprise” the Fed.

3) Middle class (ie, home-owning) blue collar labor mobility is dead. If you need to move to find a new job, you’re a renter. You’re not going to be able to buy a home in your new metro area. That really doesn’t matter for white collar labor mobility, because you can work remotely. You don’t have to move to find a new job if you’re a white collar worker. Or if you want to put this in terms of demographics rather than class, this is great for boomers and awful for millennials and Gen Z’ers who want to buy a house and start a family.

4) As for markets … I think it is impossible for the Fed NOT to fall way behind the curve here. I think it is impossible for the Fed NOT to be caught flat-footed here. I think it is impossible for the Fed NOT to underreact for months and then find themselves in a position where they must overreact just to avoid a serious melt-up in real-world prices and pockets of market-world. Could a Covid variant surge tap the deflationary brakes on all this? Absolutely. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen! And even if it does happen, that’s only going to constrict housing supply still more, which is the real driver of these inflationary pressures.

It’s just like 2008, except … the opposite.In 2008, the US housing market – together with a Fed that thought the subprime crisis was “contained” – delivered the mother of all deflationary shocks to the global economy.In 2021, the US housing market – together with a Fed that thinks inflationary pressures are “transitory” – risks delivering the mother of all inflationary shocks.It’s the only question that long-term investors MUST get right. You don’t have to get it right immediately. You don’t have to track and turn with every small movement of its path. But you MUST get this question roughly right: Am I in an inflationary world or a deflationary world? And yes, there’s an ET note on this. Because the Fourth Horseman is inflation.

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Louis-Ferdinand Céline certainly did. But his work is still great literature.

Dr. Seuss Didn’t Have ‘A Racist Bone’ In His Body – Stepdaughter (NYP)

One of Dr. Seuss’ stepdaughters insisted to The Post on Tuesday that the world-famous children’s author was no racist — and that she hopes his six controversial kiddie books yanked from publication will be back. “There wasn’t a racist bone in that man’s body — he was so acutely aware of the world around him and cared so much,’’ Lark Grey Dimond-Cates said of her late, now-embattled stepdad, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel. The company overseeing the legacy of the Dr. Seuss books, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, announced Tuesday that it will stop selling six of his titles because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

Dimond-Cates said DSE, which works with publisher Penguin Random House, informed her Monday about its decision to not continue printing “If I Ran the Zoo,” “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.” “I think in this day and age it’s a wise decision,” she told The Post of the move.“I think this is a world that right now is in pain, and we’ve all got to be very gentle and thoughtful and kind with each other.“This is just very difficult, painful times that we live in,” said Dimond-Cates, a California sculptor, who added that Geisel came into her life when she was in grade school.

“We’re taking that into account and being thoughtful. We don’t want to upset anybody.’’Dimond-Cates’ mother was Geisel’s second wife, Audrey Geisel, and the sculptor also has a sister, another of the author’s stepdaughters, Leagrey Dimond. Dr. Seuss did not have any children of his own. Still, Dimond-Cates said she hopes the six pulled books will eventually go back into print “because his body of work is unique.”

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“The real antiracists will stand up and oppose this nonsense.”

There Is No Such Thing as “White” Math (Klainerman)

In my position as a professor of mathematics at Princeton, I have witnessed the decline of universities and cultural institutions as they have embraced political ideology at the expense of rigorous scholarship. Until recently — this past summer, really — I had naively thought that the STEM disciplines would be spared from this ideological takeover. I was wrong. Attempts to “deconstruct” mathematics, deny its objectivity, accuse it of racial bias, and infuse it with political ideology have become more and more common — perhaps, even, at your child’s elementary school. This phenomenon is part of what has been dubbed “The Great Awokening.” As others have explained powerfully, the ideology incubated in academia, where it indoctrinated plenty of bright minds. It then migrated, through those true believers, into our important cultural, religious and political institutions. Now it is affecting some of the country’s most prominent businesses.

[..] For historical reasons, we often discuss contributions to the field of mathematics from the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians and Arabs and refer to them as distinct entities. They have all contributed through a unique cultural dialogue to the creation of a truly magnificent edifice accessible today to every man and woman on the planet. Though we pay tribute to great historical figures who inform the practice of mathematics, the subject can be taught — and often is — with no reference to the individuals who have contributed to it. In that sense it is uniquely universal. Schools throughout the world teach the same basic body of mathematics. They differ only by the methodology and intensity with which they instruct students.

It is precisely this universality of math — together with the extraordinary ability of American universities to reward hard work and talent — that allowed me, and so many other young scientists and mathematicians, to come to this country and achieve success beyond our wildest dreams. The idea that focusing on getting the “right answer” is now considered among some self-described progressives a form of bias or racism is offensive and extraordinarily dangerous. The entire study of mathematics is based on clearly formulated definitions and statements of fact. If this were not so, bridges would collapse, planes would fall from the sky, and bank transactions would be impossible. The ability of mathematics to provide right answers to well-formulated problems is not something specific to one culture or another; it is really the essence of mathematics.

To claim otherwise is to argue that somehow the math taught in places like Iran, China, India or Nigeria is not genuinely theirs but borrowed or forged from “white supremacy culture.” It is hard to imagine a more ignorant and offensive statement. Finally, and most importantly, the woke approach to mathematics is particularly poisonous to those it pretends to want to help. Let’s start with the reasonable assumption that mathematical talent is equally distributed at birth to children from all socio-economic backgrounds, independent of ethnicity, sex and race. Those born in poor, uneducated families have clear educational disadvantages relative to others. But mathematics can act as a powerful equalizer. Through its set of well-defined, culturally unbiased, unambiguous set of rules, mathematics gives smart kids the potential to be, at least in this respect, on equal footing with all others. They can stand out by simply finding the right answers to questions with objective results.

There is no such thing as “white” mathematics. There is no reason to assume, as the activists do, that minority kids are not capable of mathematics or of finding the “right answers.” And there can be no justification for, in the name of “equity” or anything else, depriving students of the rigorous education that they need to succeed. The real antiracists will stand up and oppose this nonsense.

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 022021
 
 March 2, 2021  Posted by at 10:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  26 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Acrobat 1930

 

“Did You Agree To This? Everybody’s Locked Up” – Edward Snowden (ZH)
Coronavirus Crisis Unlikely To Be Over By The End Of The Year – WHO (G.)
WHO Panel: Hydroxychloroquine Should Not Be Used To Prevent COVID-19 (Hill)
Data On Long Covid In UK Children Is Cause For Concern, Scientists Say (G.)
A Return To Normalcy Seen In November (K.)
Party Like It’s 1984 (Jim Kunstler)
US, EU Set To Impose Sanctions On Russia (NBC)
Duckworth Calls For Russian Bounties Intelligence To Be Declassified (Hill)
Stefan Halper’s Role In Crossfire Hurricane Larger Than Previously Known (ET)
Halper Reports Reveal Wider-Ranging Operation To Spy On Trump Campaign (JTN)
Bernie Sanders Vows To Force Vote On $15 Minimum Wage (Hill)
Joe Biden Says His Hands Are Tied On $15 Minimum Wage. That’s Not True (Sirota)
Finance As Culture (Luttig)
Mob Justice May Be Poetic Justice, But Cuomo Deserves Due Process (Turley)
Cuomo Swears He Always Kept Mask On While Sexually Harassing Women (BBee)
Odyssey Banned for Violence, Sexism; Is this the End of World Classics? (GR)

 

 

Update: as you may notice, we’re experimenting with ads a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word!

“Did You Agree To This? Everybody’s Locked Up” – Edward Snowden (ZH)

A new video montage of recent interviews with former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden exposes how the global COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns – which have been particularly severe and far-reaching in Western countries like the UK, Canada, and in a number of major US cities – coupled with the already immense power of Silicon Valley and its allies in the national security state, has served to keep individuals and entire populations ‘gated off’ from one another. “This is just the beginning,” Snowden warns of these unprecedented times. “All of these things today have consequences which we are not informed about.” “I would say this is sort of unusual… we’re all spread all over the world in different rooms, everybody’s locked up… but for me this is how I’ve always lived.”

He narrates that so much of our life is “intermediated by the screens.” Increasingly our lives are “intermediated by these screens. We spend less time outside and more and more time staring into glass or through glass to connect with that larger world – something beyond ourselves.”Ultimately he poses the following questions as a warning in the video entitled, “Edward Snowden 2021: The Most VICIOUS HONEST 10 Minutes of your LIFE!”… “Increasingly it feels something distinct from us, something apart from us – something that we are witnessing rather than participating in. Ask yourself: Is this your will? Is this what you want? Did you agree to this? Is this consistent with the vision of the future you want to see?

Snowden continues, “The institutional powers of our day… which have assumed for themselves some mandate – whether to conduct business, whether its to govern the lives of others, whether it’s to make war, .. these institutional powers don’t seem to particularly care about your answer to that question: is this what you wanted? Is this OK? Did you agree to it?” The answer is frequently “you don’t have a choice” as to whether you agree or not… “because they have the gun, they have the baton. And Facebook would say ‘Click OK to continue’ – and if you don’t you can’t do anything…”

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the “virus is very much in control”…

Coronavirus Crisis Unlikely To Be Over By The End Of The Year – WHO (G.)

Despite the spread of Covid-19 being slowed in some countries due to lockdowns and vaccination programs, it is “premature” and “unrealistic” to the think the pandemic will be over by the end of the year, the World Health Organization’s executive director of emergency services has said. Speaking at a press briefing Geneva, Dr Michael Ryan said while vaccinating the most vulnerable people, including healthcare workers, would help remove the “tragedy and fear” from the situation, and would help to ease pressure on hospitals, the “virus is very much in control”. “It will be very premature, and I think unrealistic, to think that we’re going to finish with this virus by the end of the year,” Ryan said.


“If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and not only on hospitalisation, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic.” The number of new global infections rose last week for the first time in almost two months. Reported cases increased in four of the WHO’s six regions: the Americas, Europe, south-east Asia and the eastern Mediterranean. “This is disappointing, but not surprising,” said the director general of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We’re working to better understand these increases in transmission. Some of it appears to be due to relaxing of public health measures, continued circulation of variants, and people letting down their guard.” He said while vaccines would help to save lives, “if countries rely solely on vaccines, they’re making a mistake”.

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Meawhile in Greece…

A Return To Normalcy Seen In November (K.)

Greek authorities’ main concern is now the timeline for a return to normalcy, after a year of the pandemic. The economy cannot withstand many more months of lockdowns and increasing coronavirus fatigue is gripping the population. Experts say the return to normalcy will happen when “herd immunity” is achieved. For that to happen, they say, 70% of the population must be vaccinated. Then, of course, there are questions of how long the immunity lasts, whether the disease will recur, and so on. According to a team of researchers at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki who have developed a Covid-19 risk evaluation model, the vaccination of 70% of the population, and thus herd immunity, will be achieved in November, provided there are 1 million vaccinations per month.


Under this caveat, the percentage of the vaccinated population, now standing at 9%, will reach 30% at the end of May, 38% in June, 46% in July, 54% in August and 62% in September. By the end of May, a “wall of immunity” for the most vulnerable groups – the elderly and those suffering from serious underlying diseases – will have been built, the researchers say. “[The wall] doesn’t mean complete freedom but at least means the likelihood of lockdown becomes remote,” says Dimosthenis Sarigiannis, professor of environmental engineering at Aristotle University.

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Ok, let’s see the trials.

WHO Panel: Hydroxychloroquine Should Not Be Used To Prevent COVID-19 (Hill)

The anti-inflammatory drug hydroxychloroquine should not be used to prevent COVID-19, according to a new recommendation from the World Health Organization. Multiple clinical trials of more than 6,000 people showed the drug had no meaningful effect on death or admissions to the hospital in people who had no prior exposure to COVID-19. The trials showed a “moderate certainty” that not only did hydroxychloroquine have no meaningful effect on laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infection, it also probably increased the risk of adverse effects.


The WHO’s recommendation was published in The BMJ, a medical journal. A WHO expert panel is studying different drugs that could be used to prevent COVID-19 infection, and the hydroxychloroquine recommendation is the first that the panel has published. “The panel considers that this drug is no longer a research priority and that resources should be used to evaluate other more promising drugs to prevent COVID-19,” the WHO said in a statement. The recommendations are meant “to provide trustworthy guidance on the management of COVID-19 and help doctors make better decisions with their patients,” the WHO said.

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No word on how many children are affected. If it’s just five, maybe they should tell us.

Data On Long Covid In UK Children Is Cause For Concern, Scientists Say (G.)

Scientists have warned that emerging data on long Covid in children should not be ignored given the lack of a vaccine for this age group, but cautioned that the evidence describing these enduring symptoms in the young is so far uncertain. Recently published data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has caused worry. The data suggest that 13% of under 11s and about 15% of 12- to 16-year-olds reported at least one symptom five weeks after a confirmed Covid-19 infection. ONS samples households randomly, therefore positive cases do not depend on having had symptoms and being tested.

With schools in England poised to reopen on Monday – Prof Christina Pagel, a member of the Independent Sage committee and director of clinical operational research at University College London – in a Twitter post suggested that although emerging data on long Covid in children was uncertain, it should not be ignored, particularly given there was no licensed vaccine for these age groups, and there probably won’t be until the end of this year or early next year. Although children are relatively less likely to become infected, transmit the virus and be hospitalised, the key question is whether even mild or asymptomatic infection can lead to long Covid in children, said Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London.

[..] Some children are initially asymptomatic or have mild symptoms but then it might be six or seven weeks before they start experiencing long Covid symptoms, which can range from standard post-viral fatigue and headaches to neuropsychiatric symptoms such as seizures, or even skin lesions. At the moment there is no consensus on the scale and impact of long Covid in adults, but emerging data is concerning. For children, the data is even more scarce. Recent reports from hospitals in Sweden and Italy have generated concern, but this data is not from national trials – they are single-centre studies – and include relatively small patient numbers, said Sir Terence Stephenson, a Nuffield professor of child health at University College London.

Stephenson was awarded £1.36m last month to lead a study investigating long Covid in 11- to 17-year-olds. “I don’t have a scientific view on what long Covid is in young people is – because frankly, we don’t know,” he said.

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Of course, steers and cows are easier to push around than bulls, and the technology for transforming bulls into steers — or men in to eunuchs — is not that complex or nuanced..

Party Like It’s 1984 (Jim Kunstler)

Chalk up a fatal blow to The Patriarchy. That avatar of toxic masculinity, Mr. Potato Head has been dumped into the same humid chamber of perdition where the ghosts of Nathan Bedford Forrest, Theodore Bilbo, and Phyllis Schlafly howl and squirm — liberating the billions of potatoes world-wide from the mental prison of binary sexuality. The move by Hasbro (bro? really??) may yet disappoint the legions in Wokesterdom as a-bridge-not-far-enough while they await the debut of Transitioning Potato Head, complete with play hormone syringe and play scalpel, so that the under-six crowd can begin to map out their own gender reassignments without the meddling of Adult 1 and Adult 2, formerly known as Mommy and Daddy.

Was it mere coincidence that the action in Toyland happened the same week that one Rachel Levine was grilled in hir Senate confirmation hearing for the post as Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services? The hearing tilted toward transphobia when Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) asked zie, a little too aggressively, if they were in favor of pubescent children opting for sexual reassignment in opposition to xyr parents. The nominee, who hirself transitioned from “male” to “female” in 2011, answered that transgender medical issues are “complex and nuanced.” True (perhaps). And probably more than a Senator who transitioned from ophthalmologist to politician might appreciate.

Such are the great preoccupations of American leadership in these late days of empire. Are their any “historic firsts” left for Progressives to achieve in the march to a transhuman nirvana? An “undocumented” president? Animal representation in the House and Senate? A-I “entities” qualifying for public office — Governor Smartphone? Let’s face it, the pitiful old school humans in charge of things for so long are making a hash of our affairs. A cash register could probably do a better job as Chairman of the Federal Reserve than the always-waffley Jerome Powell. And a MacBook Pro might make a better president than Joe Biden in the brief daily operational hours before his managers a “call a lid.” We’d have to come up with some new personal pronouns for them, of course.

Pundits and observers-of-the-scene have warned us that all this artificially-generated turmoil over the sex-of-things is but one part of the prelude to a “Great Reset” in which people the world over are to be herded into corrals of ultra-regulated behavior. Of course, steers and cows are easier to push around than bulls, and the technology for transforming bulls into steers — or men in to eunuchs — is not that complex or nuanced. The question is: will enough American men submit to castration, either chemical, financial, political, or literal? Maybe not.

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Oh, cut it out already.

US, EU Set To Impose Sanctions On Russia (NBC)

The U.S. and the European Union are expected to impose coordinated sanctions on Russia as early as Tuesday for the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his arrest and detention that followed, three sources familiar with the planning said. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not otherwise authorized to speak to the media. The sanctions will be the first to target Moscow since Joe Biden became president and opened a comprehensive review of U.S.-Russia policy, including the Kremlin’s actions against Navalny, interference into the U.S. election, the Solar Winds hack and reported bounties offered to Taliban-linked groups to target U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Trump administration declined to take action against Russia for the attempted assassination of Navalny.

The U.S. is expected to use legal authorities to impose sanctions on Russia for its use of a chemical nerve agent against Navalny in August, said a senior administration official, a congressional aide and a Western diplomat. Toxicology tests conducted in Germany, France and Sweden and by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found that Navalny was poisoned with a novel form of the Novichok nerve agent in violation of the international Chemical Weapons Convention. The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the attack. Upon his return to Russia in January, Navalny was arrested and sentenced to more than two years in jail. He has been transferred to a penal colony. The E.U. has taken action against Russia for poisoning Navalny, restricting travel and freezing the assets of six Russians in October, but this week’s sanctions would be the first issued under the E.U.’s new human rights regime.

E.U. Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told the Atlantic Council last week that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had asked the E.U. to coordinate with the U.S. on the new sanctions. The E.U.’s procedural vote to formally adopt the sanctions will close at noon Tuesday Brussels time. “I wouldn’t want to speak to any measures that we may have coming, but suffice it to say that we have coordinated very closely,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday about the cooperation between the U.S and the E.U. Price did not elaborate on the timing of the sanctions but added, “We’ve been working on it as an urgent challenge.” An investigation by U.N. experts released Monday found that the attack against Navalny falls within a wider trend, observed over several decades, of arbitrary killings and attempted killings of Russian citizens and government critics, both within Russia and extraterritorially.

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I said cut it out!

Duckworth Calls For Russian Bounties Intelligence To Be Declassified (Hill)

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Monday called for the Biden administration to declassify intelligence related to reports that the Kremlin offered bounties to Taliban forces for targeting U.S. troops in Afghanistan. “While any intelligence assessment on this matter is understandably sensitive, the American public, and Gold Star Families in particular, have a pressing need to know if there is any truth to these claims,” Duckworth wrote in a letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines first obtained by Politico. “I believe such a finding may be presented while protecting classified information.” The intelligence, first reported last year, was dismissed as a “hoax” by then-President Trump.

Last September, Gen. Frank McKenzie, who oversees U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said the military was still investigating, adding that the report “has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me.” Haines has been tasked with reviewing intelligence on recent Russian activity, including the alleged bounty initiative. In her letter, Duckworth asked for Haines to publish an unclassified report to “provide urgently needed transparency on this grave matter.” Duckworth, a veteran who lost both legs in Iraq, was one of the leading voices calling for action in response to the report last year. In July, she led a letter from Senate Democrats asking to see the then-president’s intelligence briefings relating to the alleged bounties.

“Despite my persistent attempts to bring transparency to these alarming reports, the Trump administration failed to provide an official response to basic questions: did the United States Government or our partners assess the likelihood of the existence of the GRU bounty payment activity, and did the United States Government find evidence indicating correlation or causation between GRU bounty payments and deadly attacks on U.S. troops by Taliban-linked militants?” Duckworth wrote in the letter on Monday, referring to Russia’s secretive military intelligence agency.

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Always thought his role was quite substantial.

Stefan Halper’s Role In Crossfire Hurricane Larger Than Previously Known (ET)

Newly released FBI documents shed light on two meetings between FBI Agent Stephen Somma and FBI source Stefan Halper, providing further insight into the wide scope of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump 2016 presidential campaign—and the active role played by Halper, who acted as a confidential human source (CHS) for the FBI. Although Halper was not considered an official CHS for the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation prior to these meetings, Somma had known Halper since 2011, according to the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report on FISA Abuse. Additionally, Somma had served as Halper’s handler from “2011 through 2016” as part of Somma’s “regular investigative activities.”

The FBI’s meetings with Halper on Aug. 11 and 12, 2016, were done at the proposal of Somma, who said he “lacked a basic understanding” of political campaigns. Somma said that he selected Halper because he knew that Halper had been “affiliated with national political campaigns since the early 1970s” and “might have information about, and potentially may have met, one or more of the Crossfire Hurricane subjects”—Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Somma said that he did not initially tell Halper that there was already an open FBI investigation or who the subjects were, nor, he told the IG, did he tell Halper of the conversation between Papadopoulos and Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, which was the FBI’s claimed reason for opening Crossfire Hurricane.

Somma was proven to be prophetic, as Halper already had direct knowledge of two of the three people considered subjects of Crossfire Hurricane. And Halper would later fashion a meeting in London with Papadopoulos, the one person he didn’t already know. Halper also managed a meeting with Sam Clovis from the Trump campaign. Additionally, based on the FBI documents obtained by Just The News, it appears that Halper was responsible for pushing Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as a “person of interest” to the FBI with what appears to have been a false story that the FBI failed to immediately verify—and then later failed to correct as the story gained traction in the media during a crucial period of the Trump presidency.

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Problem remains: who will investigate the investigators?

Halper Reports Reveal Wider-Ranging Operation To Spy On Trump Campaign (JTN)

Once-secret reports show the FBI effort to spy on the Trump campaign was far wider than previously disclosed, as agents directed an undercover informant to make secret recordings, pressed for intelligence on numerous GOP figures, and sought to find “anyone in the Trump campaign” with ties to Russia who could acquire dirt “damaging to Hillary Clinton.” The now-declassified operational handling reports for FBI confidential human source Stefan Halper — codenamed “Mitch” — provide an unprecedented window both into the tactics used by the bureau to probe the Trump campaign and the wide dragnet that was cast to target numerous high-level officials inside the GOP campaign just weeks before Americans chose their next president in the November 2016 election.

Among the revelations, the memos make clear that: Almost immediately after the FBI opened a Russia collusion probe on July 31, 2016 narrowly focused on the foreign lobbying of a single Trump campaign aide named George Papadopoulos, agents pressed Halper for information on more than a half dozen other figures, including future Attorney General Jeff Sessions, foreign policy adviser Sam Clovis, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, economic adviser Peter Navarro, future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and campaign adviser Carter Page. Halper provided significant exculpatory evidence to the FBI — including transcripts of conversations he recorded of targeted Trump advisers providing statements of innocence — that was never disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that approved a year of surveillance targeting the Trump campaign, and specifically Page.

While current FBI Director Chris Wray has insisted the bureau did not engage in spying on the Trump campaign, Halper’s taskings include many of the tradecraft tactics of espionage, including the creation of a fake cover story (he wanted a job at the Trump campaign), secret recordings, providing background on targets, suggested questions to ask and even contact information for potential targets. But the memos’ most explosive revelations are the sheer breadth of the FBI’s insufficiently predicated dragnet targeting the Trump campaign, and the agents’ clearly stated purpose of thwarting any Trump campaign effort to get dirt from Russia that could hurt his Democratic rival.

“The Crossfire Hurricane investigative team is attempting to determine if anyone in the Trump campaign is in a position to have received information either directly or indirectly from the Russian Federation regarding the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton,” one of the early FBI electronic communications (ECs) from Halper’s undercover work stated. Ordinarily, FBI counterintelligence investigations that target Americans legally must be predicated on specific allegations that narrowly focus the bureau’s spy powers on limited targets to avoid unnecessary infringement of privacy and civil liberties. But the Halper documents reveal a large, unfocused FBI search with little substantiation of alleged wrongdoing, and significant evidence that undermined the core allegations, experts told Just the News.

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Bernie vs Ol’ Joe.

Bernie Sanders Vows To Force Vote On $15 Minimum Wage (Hill)

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says Democrats should “ignore” the recent ruling of the Senate parliamentarian and is vowing to force the Senate to vote this week on an amendment to set the federal minimum wage at $15 an hour. Sanders on Monday declared he would not back down on his signature wage initiative after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled last week that a provision setting the federal minimum wage at $15 an hour would not be eligible under special budget rules Democrats are using to avoid a filibuster while passing their coronavirus relief bill. “My personal view is that the idea that we have a Senate staffer, a high-ranking staffer, deciding whether 30 million Americans get a pay raise or not is nonsensical.


“We have got to make that decision, not a staffer who’s unelected, so my own view is that we should ignore the rulings, the decision of the parliamentarian,” Sanders told reporters. Sanders added, “Given the enormous crises facing this country and the desperation of working families, we have got to as soon as possible end the filibuster.” “We cannot have a minority of members define what the American people want,” he said. Sanders said he will force a vote on an amendment raising the federal minimum wage this week. “To the best of my knowledge, there will be a vote on the minimum wage, and we’ll see what happens,” he said. “I intend to offer the bill that will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and we’ll see how the votes go.” “If we fail in this legislation, I will be back,” he warned. “We are going to keep going. “We are going to raise that minimum wage very shortly to $15 an hour,” he said.

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LBJ did it.

Joe Biden Says His Hands Are Tied On $15 Minimum Wage. That’s Not True (Sirota)

When a Republican is president, Democratic politicians, pundits and activists will tell you that the presidency is an all-powerful office that can do anything it wants. When a Democrat is president, these same politicians, pundits and activists will tell you that the presidency has no power to do anything. In fact, they will tell you a Democratic president cannot even use the bully pulpit and other forms of pressure to try to shift the votes of senators in his own party. A tale from history proves this latter myth is complete garbage – and that tale is newly relevant in today’s supercharged debate over a $15 minimum wage. In that debate so far, we have seen Democratic senators prepare to surrender the $15 minimum wage their party promised by insisting they are powerless in the face of a non-binding advisory opinion of a parliamentarian they can ignore or fire.

That explanation is patently ridiculous and factually false, so Democratic apologists are starting to further justify the surrender by suggesting that even if the party kept a $15 minimum wage in the Covid relief bill, conservative Democrats such as Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema would block it anyway. The White House itself is now falling back on the idea that it doesn’t have the votes to do much of anything, insinuating that Joe Biden – who occupies the world’s most powerful office – somehow has no power to try to change the legislative dynamic. And this spin is being predictably amplified across social media. [..] it is laughable and preposterous to argue that a newly elected president has zero power to even try to shift the dynamic.

And yet, whether you call this all deliberate deception or learned helplessness, this fantastical myth of the Powerless President will inevitably be used to shield Biden from criticism for abandoning his pledge to fight for a $15 minimum wage. The apologism is particularly absurd because unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, who was a relative newcomer to politics, Biden’s major selling point was that he knows “how to make government work”. The guy explicitly pitched himself as the best Democratic presidential candidate by suggesting that in an era of gridlock, he knows how to make the Democratic agenda a reality and Get Things Done™, like master of the Senate Lyndon Baines Johnson. That’s where LBJ himself comes in to destroy the narrative that Democratic presidents in general – and Biden specifically – are inherently helpless.

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Memes “R” Us.

Finance As Culture (Luttig)

In practice, what does financialization look like? We’ve all heard the institutional narrative. The US stock market has nearly tripled in the past 10 years. The FIRE sector (finance, insurance, real estate) now accounts for 20% of US GDP, versus 10% in 1947. S&P buybacks nearly doubled in the 2010s. IPOs grew 2.5x in 2020. But financialization is no longer purely institutional; it has seeped into our culture. A combination of low interest rates, a historic tech bull run, and the resulting torrent of fomo has tethered us to our monitors to watch candlestick charts. The financialization of culture has manifested in two primary ways: lottery culture and equity culture. We’ve always had lottery culture, in which people trade assets hoping to make money without understanding or conviction of their fundamental value.

In the summer of 1929, for example, Joe Kennedy’s shoe shine boy gave him stock tips, signaling the market peak. But lottery culture has exploded in the past few years. Robinhood has achieved its vision of democratizing access to financial markets, boasting over ten million monthly active users and exponential growth. Retail investor trading as a percentage of stock market volume has more than doubled since 2010. When “stocks only go up”, people realize the stock market is a casino with much better payouts. Gamified trading has tethered us to our phones and bank accounts. Through GameStop, even protest became financialized. At the peak of the GameStop saga, millions of Americans owned GME, arming themselves against hedge funds.

This was part protest, part nihilistic hail mary to get rich. The number of subscribers to the wallstreetbets (WSB) subreddit certainly spiked in 2021, but the exponential compounding for years beforehand implies a degree of inevitability. Memes took lottery culture to new heights. Stocks popular among a retail audience, like Apple, have historically traded at higher multiples than others in their category. Tesla accelerated the divergence between retail excitement and fundamentals: TSLA revenue grew 50% over the past two years, but meme culture helped its market cap grow by 12x. GameStop completed the meme-fundamentals duality: investors don’t even pretend that the company’s fundamentals will ever substantiate its market cap.WSB revealed where Robinhood culture was headed all along: a nihilistic lottery. It was historically viewed as a disorganized and degenerate mob, but the mob has evolved into a laser-focused and motivated militia.

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So do the people who died in care homes.

Mob Justice May Be Poetic Justice, But Cuomo Deserves Due Process (Turley)

In 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before at Northwestern University Law School to announce President Obama’s “kill list” policy, under which he reserved the right to unilaterally order the death of any American deemed an imminent threat. After all, Holder explained, “the Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.” The response was as chilling as the message: The audience of judges, lawyers and law students applauded an attorney general who just told them that any of them could be killed tomorrow on the president’s order. Some of us denounced the “kill list” policy, which foreshadowed what has become a campaign against due process. In our hair-triggered culture of Twitter attacks and “canceling” opponents, due process is treated as hopelessly arcane and inconvenient.

Our political discourse must now be tweet-worthy — less than 280 words — and delivered in a news cycle measured in minutes. Due process, like free speech, is rarely valued until its loss becomes personal. Take Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.). Cuomo advanced his political career by positioning himself at the front of every mob pursuing political rivals, as during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. Before hearing the defense of now-Justice Kavanaugh, Cuomo described the allegations against him by Christine Blasey Ford as presumptively true. He not only effectively called Kavanaugh a rapist, without any due process, but demanded that Kavanaugh take a polygraph as a condition to be believed. Cuomo was not alone. Many Democratic leaders insisted that “women must be believed” when raising sexual harassment allegations and declared Kavanaugh guilty before hearing any testimony.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) dismissed due process concerns for Kavanaugh, adding: “When we talk about … due process and justice, it must focus on the victim.” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said Kavanaugh was not entitled to a presumption of innocence and that men should “just shut up” and accept the allegations. Last year, when Lindsey Boylan’s allegations went public, I wrote a column asking if Cuomo would presume himself guilty, absent a polygraph. Now, after Boylan added details of Cuomo’s alleged kissing and propositioning her, many are struggling with his (and their) prior positions against due process. While CNN, MSNBC and other networks blacked-out the story or barely covered it, others — including many on the right — have declared Cuomo to be guilty and dangerous.

Cuomo deserves due process, despite loudly denying it for others. Simply because Boylan made the allegations is not proof of guilt. Both sides have a right to be heard — not a right to be believed solely on their word. Due process allows us to determine who is a victim — not, as AOC suggested, to vindicate one party as the declared victim. [..] Of course, as Gov. Cuomo has learned, one can lead a mob one day only to be pursued by the mob on the next. It would be easy to leave him to the mob and call it poetic justice, but that is not justice of any kind. Cuomo should receive all of the due process he denied to others — not because he deserves it, but because he embodies the costs of ignoring it.

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He’ll be arrested any day now.

Cuomo Swears He Always Kept Mask On While Sexually Harassing Women (BBee)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized this weekend for his long-standing habit of sexually abusing young women he holds power over. And while that all sounds quite bad, Governor Cuomo did make it clear to the public that he always wore a mask and socially distanced during these interactions– a fact that has some folks saying he should get off free. “I have the greatest respect for my employees,” Cuomo explained during a press conference. “Especially the girls—we’ve got a lot of young girls on staff who do a really good job.” Cuomo paused for a moment and seemed to wink at someone offscreen.


“And I can guarantee you right now, sure I might be a sexual predator, but not once did I remove my mask, never once broke the six-foot rule during conversations with my girls– at least in 2020. Isn’t that right, Kelly?” Cuomo went on to explain how some of his sexual jokes may not have landed with the women since they couldn’t see his facial expressions. He also claimed that the women may have misheard him since his words were muffled by his mask and they were standing so far apart. “Do I regret making those comments?” Cuomo asked as he stood up to leave the press conference. “No. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got some strip poker, er– I mean poker, to play.”

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Ban the Bible!

Odyssey Banned for Violence, Sexism; Is this the End of World Classics? (GR)

Odyssey, Homer’s classic of world literature written in the time of Ancient Greece, was recently banned in Lawrence, Massachusetts for portraying ideas that do not conform to modern norms of behavior. The move, reported recently by the Wall Street Journal, appears to stem from a “social justice” movement, created by Twitter users, called #DisruptTexts. Its proponents believe that any world literature that does not portray the norms that they hold today in terms of gender roles, violence and racial equality must be banned in the interest of shaping a new generation that will not be allowed to come into contact with concepts that they consider repugnant — or even just outdated.

Penelope, sitting at her loom patiently for twenty years while hubby Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan War, is not the model of female behavior that teachers who espouse this new type of book banning want their students to emulate. But not only do they not want their students to emulate these behaviors — they want to ban books that contain they want to ban books that portray violence, traditional gender roles and racism, making sure that future generations will never learn about the many adventures of Odysseus and his companions as they made their way across the sea, fought against Troy and wended their way back home after twenty years away.

Books such as this, which provide a treasury of historical references and form the basis of educated peoples’ understanding of the Classical world, naturally contain violent images of battle and strife and portray the social milieu of the day. Until recently, however, teachers would focus on the tremendous literary and historical merit of the world of Homer and other ancient writers, leaving their students to come to their own conclusions as to whether or not they would like to wage warfare or alternatively sit at home weaving while the husband is away at battle.

[..] But the politically-correct rush to judgment, which began in recent years with the banning of American classics such as Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and even more recent works such as How to Kill a Mockingbird — for the use of the n-word — has come back to bite society now that the floodgates have been opened. Originally, the pendulum swung the other way, and it was conservative Americans who were originally guilty of banning books — despite the freedom of speech and expression explicitly enshrined in the Constitution. The first book to be officially banned in America was Thomas Morton’s “New English Canaan,” published in 1637.

A massive, three-volume work, it contained not only Morton’s insightful observations about Native Americans, but also — raising the ire of those who had settled Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay Company — a biting satire of the Puritans. As the centuries went on, it wasn’t just political positions that drew the ire of book banners, it was more often portrayals of sex that attracted the eye of censors and caused works of literature to come under scrutiny. And the list of banned books in America is shamefully long, including Peyton Place,The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Beloved, and The Lord of the Flies.

Read more …

 

 

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Tulsi Syria

 

 

 

 

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Mar 012021
 


Pierre-Auguste Renoir Dance at Bougival 1883

 

Guidelines To Place Children In Solitary Quarantine ‘Cruel Punishment’ (TSun)
Bill Gates Warns Post-Covid Return To Normal Could Take All 2022 (F.)
Brazil Variant May Make Foreign Summer Holidays Impossible, Ministers Told (G.)
Why “New Cases” Are Plummeting (OffG.)
Trump On 2024: ‘I May Decide To Beat Them For A Third Time’ (SAC)
Biden’s Message To Iran: The Battlefield Has Been Inaugurated (Magnier)
Cuomo Cedes Control Of Harassment Probe (JTN)
NY’s Sexual Harassment Working Group Urges Gov. Cuomo To Resign (NYP)
Democrats Demand The Firing Of The Senate Parliamentarian (Turley)
Efforts In Key Battleground States To Return Voting To Pre-2020 Rules (JTN)
China’s Fiscal Risks ‘Extremely Severe’, Former Finance Minister Warns (SCMP)
The Big “Buy & Hype” Bitcoin Casino (Wolf Richter)
Far-Right Platform Gab Has Been Hacked—Including Private Data (Wired)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrative of the state of mind the world has entered. Zero comprehension of complex systems. Everything exists in one dimension only.

Guidelines To Place Children In Solitary Quarantine ‘Cruel Punishment’ (TSun)

Peel Health has issued guidelines to parents instructing them to keep any children who have been sent home because a classmate has tested positive for COVID-19 isolated in a separate room from all other family members for 14 days. The severe guidelines, which apply even to small children who are dismissed from child care, are being criticized by experts as harmful and not supported by science. “This is cruel punishment for a child, especially for younger children, 4-10 years old,” Dr. Susan Richardson, a microbiologist and infectious disease physician who is also a professor emerita at University of Toronto, wrote in an email to the Sun. “Shutting a child off from their parents and siblings for up to 14 days in this manner could produce significant and long-lasting emotional and psychological effects.”

The handout distributed at Peel Region schools explains, “If your child does not have any symptoms: the child must self-isolate, which means stay in a separate room, eat in a separate room apart from others, use a separate bathroom if possible.” The handout also says, “If the child must leave their room, they should wear a mask and stay 2 metres apart from others.” Any other children in the household not only must be both separated from their siblings but also stay home for 14 days. “This does not seem practically possible and is highly likely to cause harm to children who would already be experiencing considerable distress with having to remain at home,” Dr. Tess Clifford, the director of the Psychology Clinic at Queen’s University, said in an email to the Sun.

Clifford said those making decisions about pandemic mitigation measures need to consider the well-being of children across multiple domains of health. “I don’t understand how any health-care professional has moved so far away from the fundamentals of public health and of doing no harm that they would think that basically incarcerating a child in a room for 14 days is in any way justified,” said Dr. Martha Fulford, an infectious diseases physician at Hamilton Health Science who focuses on pediatrics. “This is shocking,” adds Fulford, “especially when you consider this is being proposed for children who are not in any way sick.”

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There is only one truth, and Gates and Fauci control it.

Bill Gates Warns Post-Covid Return To Normal Could Take All 2022 (F.)

Fresh off a third vaccine candidate garnering U.S. regulatory approval, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates called the rapid development of vaccines “a miracle” that should help Americans return to an “almost-normal” way of life as early as fall but also warned that lawmakers aren’t doing enough globally to usher in a full return-to-normal before the end of next year. Speaking to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday, 65-year-old Gates said that autumn should bring about some normalcy for Americans with “basically every school back in session,” some level of occupancy in restaurants and sporting events all once again taking place.

“The big problem is that we’re not doing enough to end the pandemic globally,” Gates warned, adding that vaccines thus far are “just going to rich countries,” which leaves the risk that contagious variants could spread abroad and creep back into the United States. That risk–compounded by the potential wave of reinfections–means a full return to normal “could take all of 2022 unless we do a better job,” Gates said. Additional vaccine factories in nations like India could help curtail the risk of infection abroad and bring about a quicker return to normalcy, Gates suggested, pointing to vaccine-makers AstraZeneca, NovaVax and Johnson & Johnson that are already working on such projects.

Speaking to CNN earlier Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the United States now has three “really good vaccines” that Americans should “have no hesitancy whatsoever to take”–a sentiment Gates echoed of the five candidates approved for distribution in the Western World.

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From a live blog.

Brazil Variant May Make Foreign Summer Holidays Impossible, Ministers Told (G.)

Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the home affairs committee, was on the Today programme this morning saying that ministers have repeatedly been told that the measures currently in place in England may be inadequate. She made the same points in a thread on Twitter last night with accompanying ‘I told you so’ evidence. On the Today programme she made a further point, saying that the latest development illustrated why summer holidays abroad might not be possible this year. When she was asked if she thought the government would have to ban holiday flights over the summer, she replied:


“You’re right, there is a concern about whether the government is raising expectations about summer holidays that they may not be able to meet, because this will depend on the relationship between the spread of these new variants and what happens with the vaccine, and the timetable about things like boosters for the vaccine. And we’ve been advised on the committee by scientists that these border measures, and the strength of these border measures, becomes even more important as domestic cases fall. So as our own cases fall, and as the economy and society opens up, they argue that that’s when you actually need stronger measures at the border, rather than reducing them. The trouble is at the moment the government is encouraging people to think that those summer holidays are all going to be possible and international travel is going to return.”

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As we know.

Why “New Cases” Are Plummeting (OffG.)

The decline started in mid-January, far too early for any vaccination program to have any effect. Many experts said as much: “Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said the falling case numbers can’t be attributed to the COVID-19 vaccine, because not even a tenth of the population has been vaccinated, according to the CDC.” Further, the drop is happening simultaneously in different countries all around the world, and not every country is vaccinating at the same rate or even using the same vaccine. So no, the “vaccines” are not causing the drop. Another suspect is the lockdown, with blaring propaganda stating that all the various government-imposed house arrests and “distancing” measures have finally had an impact. That’s not it either. Sweden, famously, never locked down at all. Yet their “cases” and “Covid related deaths” have been dropping exactly in parallel with the UK:

Clearly, if countries that never locked down are also seeing declines in case numbers, the lockdown cannot be causing them. So what is? Maybe for our answer, we should look at the date the decline started. Observe this graph:

As you can see, the global decline in “Covid deaths” starts in mid-to-late January. What else happened around that time? Well, on January 13th the WHO published a memo regarding the problem of asymptomatic cases being discovered by PCR tests, and suggesting any asymptomatic positive tests be repeated. This followed up their previous memo, instructing labs around the world to use lower cycle thresholds (CT values) for PCR tests, as values over 35 could produce false positives. Essentially, in two memos the WHO ensured future testing would be less likely to produce false positives and made it much harder to be labelled an “asymptomatic case”. In short, logic would suggest we’re not in fact seeing a “decline in Covid cases” or a “decrease in Covid deaths” at all.


What we’re seeing is a decline in perfectly healthy people being labelled “covid cases” based on a false positive from an unreliable testing process. And we’re seeing fewer people dying of pneumonia, cancer or other disease have “Covid19” added to their death certificate based on testing criteria designed to inflate the pandemic.

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Is it getting a bit old, or is that just me?

Trump On 2024: ‘I May Decide To Beat Them For A Third Time’ (SAC)

In his first post-White House appearance, former President Donald Trump ripped into President Joe Biden and stressed the importance of a united GOP to win future elections.. He also dropped hints about his political future at this year’s CPAC. The president told the cheering crowd that he may consider running again in 2024. It was what many in the crowd were hoping to hear as the week’s long CPAC event ended in Orlando, Florida. The 45th president spoke for roughly 90 minutes about immigration, women’s sports, and other Biden policies. “Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history… In just one short month, we have gone from America first to America last,” Trump said.


Trump spoke on COVID lockdowns and the politics surrounding reopening schools. “There’s no reason whatsoever why the vast majority of young Americans should not be back in school immediately,” Trump said. “The only reason that most parents do not have that choice is because Joe Biden sold out America’s children to the teachers’ unions.” He also commented on the 2020 election, saying it was not a fair election and if it had been, it would have had a “very different” result. “This election was rigged. And the Supreme Court didn’t want to do anything about it,” he said. Trump even teased a future for his political career, saying he [thinks] a Republcian will in in the next cycle, and he asked “I wonder who that will be?”

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“Biden’s ill-considered murder of Iraqi soldiers fighting ISIS.”

Biden’s Message To Iran: The Battlefield Has Been Inaugurated (Magnier)

Several F-15’s have launched an attack against multiple targets on the Iraqi-Syrian borders against Iraqi security forces, Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces – PMF), by direct order of President Joe Biden. This is the first military action ordered by the new President and certainly not the last. So far, the US President has followed his predecessor’s steps concerning the sanctions imposed on foreign states and groups. One symbolic exception was the Yemeni Ansar Allah’s delisting from the US terrorist list without lifting the harsh sanctions on food supply, medicine, and oil. Moreover, it is not realistic to consider the US bombing of PMF positions, described by the Pentagon as “Iranian-backed militant groups”, as anything but a direct message directed to Iran in person.

The US is saying that the bombing of the Iraqi security forces means that its military option is on the table and will be used without hesitation against any threat to US interests in the Middle East, particularly those close to Iran. This is a challenge that is certainly not unexpected by Iran, which has vowed to expel all US forces from west Asia following the unlawful assassination of Soleimani. The battlefield has been inaugurated. A few days ago, President Biden contacted the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kahdimi following the rocket attacks against US bases in Kurdistan-Iraq earlier this month. Biden told al-Kadhimi that he would retaliate against the rocket attack. The Iraqi Prime Minister failed to inform the US President that the US forces mandate doesn’t allow the violation of the Iraqi sovereignty neither the bombing of its security forces deployed on the borders to prevent the “Islamic State” (ISIS) movement of the militants’ supply line and potential attacks.

Biden, like his predecessor Donald Trump, ordered the bombing of the most crucial position to Iran and its allies: Albu Kamal – al Qaem crossing. This same crossing was under ISIS control when the assassinated Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani led the attack to liberate it following the US occupation of al-Tanf crossing between Syria and Iraq. This rapid move by Iran angered both Israel and the US, who wished to impose a land siege on Syria to prevent the flow of goods from Iraq and prevent the “Axis of the Resistance” link between Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut.

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Now he’s gone. Pelosi and Biden weigh in.

Cuomo Cedes Control Of Harassment Probe (JTN)

Under fire from dual scandals, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday ceded control of an investigation into whether he sexually harassed female subordinates and admitted for the first time some of his behavior with women “may have been insensitive or too personal.” The reversal by New York’s top Democrat came as senior members of his own party called the allegations against him credible and demanded an independent probe. “The women who have come forward with serious and credible charges against Governor Cuomo deserve to be heard and to be treated with dignity,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Fox News, signaling the fallout from Cuomo’s scandals had stretched beyond Albany to Washington. “The independent investigation must have due process and respect for everyone involved.”

Cuomo on Saturday evening initially appointed a former federal judge to evaluate the sex harassment allegations from two state former workers, Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan. But he reversed course Sunday amid mounting criticism he was trying to control the probe. He ceded to demands that Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, control the inquiry. James said she planned to deputize an outside law firm to conduct “a rigorous and independent investigation.” Cuomo also issued an apology, saying that while he had never inappropriately touched or propositioned anyone he may have engaged in inappropriate comments that felt like flirtation to women.

[..] The Biden White House weighed in on Sunday as well, calling for an independent review. “There should be an independent review looking in to these allegations, and that’s certainly something he supports and we believe should move forward as quickly as possible,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told CNN’s State of the Union. Prominent Democrats, including state Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, had urged Cuomo to follow the state’s tradition and refer the probe to James. “As has become standard practice in the State of New York when allegations relate directly to the Executive, Governor Cuomo should refer the matter to the Attorney General, who should, in turn, appoint an independent investigator,” Nadler said.

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“An anti-sexual-harassment group made up of former state legislative staffers..”

NY’s Sexual Harassment Working Group Urges Gov. Cuomo To Resign (NYP)

An anti-sexual-harassment group made up of former state legislative staffers called on Gov. Cuomo to resign Saturday in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him. “ENOUGH. New York State has now lost the talents and ambition of yet another woman, whose safety and integrity were eliminated to serve a powerful man’s desires. Andrew Cuomo must resign now,” the Sexual Harassment Working Group said in a statement, after ex-Cuomo aide, Charlotte Bennett, accused the governor of behaving inappropriately toward her last year. Bennett, 25, told The New York Times that Cuomo, 63, complained to her about being “lonely” and not being able to hug anyone during the pandemic, before pressing her on who she last hugged.


When she revealed her own history of sexual assault to Cuomo, Bennett claimed his reaction “was something out of a horror movie,” the paper reported. Cuomo allegedly kept repeating to Bennett, “‘You were raped and abused and attacked and assaulted and betrayed,’ over and over again while looking me directly in the eyes … It was like he was testing me,” she told a friend in a text message which was viewed by The Times. Earlier this week, the Sexual Harassment Working Group had called for in investigation of the governor after another former staffer, Lindsey Boylan, accused him of trying to kiss her on the mouth and suggesting a game of “strip poker.” “There must be an immediate independent investigation into Governor Cuomo’s workplace behavior, conducted by an entity over which Cuomo does not have any appointment or supervisory powers,” the group tweeted hours after Boylan came forward.

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“The use of a reconciliation bill was an effort to circumvent the filibuster and allow a majority vote on the hike. However, by using reconciliation, the Democrats triggered the ‘Byrd rule’..”

Democrats Demand The Firing Of The Senate Parliamentarian (Turley)

Democratic members this week attacked Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough after she (correctly) ruled that the inclusion of the $15 minimum wage hike in a reconciliation bill violated Senate rules. The response from Democratic members and many in the blogosphere was withering. Rep. Ilhan Omar called for MacDonough to be fired and others denounced her actions and called the Senate to simply overrule her — and the long-standing rules. It is not just the effort to gut or flip the “Byrd Rule” but vicious attacks on this parliamentarian that is so disconcerting. The use of a reconciliation bill was an effort to circumvent the filibuster and allow a majority vote on the hike. However, by using reconciliation, the Democrats triggered the ‘Byrd rule’ – which limits the type of provisions in the reconciliation process to taxing and spending.

The purpose is to limit an add-ons through reconciliation to measures designed to have a direct impact on the federal budget—barring the use of reconciliation to introduce “extraneous” measures. Otherwise, reconciliations could circumvent the normal legislative process and the filibuster option for the minority. The rule allows a senator to object when a reconciliation bill is brought to the floor through a Point of Order on the bill. After the Byrd Rule is raised, the Senate Parliamentarian informs the Presiding Officer on how to rule and the Presiding office conveys that to the Senate. Senators can then vote to overrule the Presiding Officer but the process protects the minority and the parliamentarian by requiring that a vote to overrule secure a three-fifths majority.

The Parliamentarian’s role is key to a system of orderly legislative process. To simply disregard such rules (and fire those who seek to maintain them) is yet another example of the rage that has replaced reason in our current politics. Byrd was famous for putting the interests of the Senate and the Constitution before his own party. This effort shows increasingly rare such institutional defenders have become in this age of rage. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one of the first to balk at any rules standing in the way of reform: “I think the parliamentarian is verging on, you know, just really intruding in this legislative process in a very concerning way.” I am not really sure what that actually means. Parliamentary rules are the thing that defines the legislative process and guarantees a neutral and ordered process of deliberation and enactment.

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Too many people don’t *want* transparent elections.

Efforts In Key Battleground States To Return Voting To Pre-2020 Rules (JTN)

Significant legislative attempts are underway in multiple U.S. states, including key battleground states, to roll back major changes in voting rules and regulations to various pre-2020 status quo antes. The efforts come after an historically chaotic election process that has left millions of Americans doubtful of election fairness, security, transparency and accountability. Changes to election rules — some of them enacted prior to 2020 and others put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic last year — have included expansive mail-in voting, expanded early voting, relaxation of verification rules, and extensions to ballot receipt deadlines. Those rules likely contributed to a record 158,000,000-plus votes cast in the 2020 election.

But the relaxation of various voting requirements has also led to significant distrust in the election system: Nearly 40% of voters believe that U.S. elections are beset by fraud, while a similar number claim that such concerns haven’t been properly vetted by public authorities. Legislators in numerous states are angling to address some of those concerns by pushing for legislation to shore up what critics claim are the vulnerabilities created by relaxed voting rules. In Georgia — which flipped blue for Biden this year in one of several razor-thin races that went in the Democrat’s favor — the Senate passed a bill that would require voters to submit “photocopies of voter identification documents for absentee ballot applications.”

The bill would do away with the current signature-matching system currently in place for absentee voting. Critics have accused that system of being ripe for fraud and abuse, particularly after the state’s Gov. Brian Kemp agreed to activist demands last year to make it much more onerous for officials to reject disputed signatures. In Pennsylvania — which Trump lost by fewer than 100,000 votes — state lawmakers have signaled an intent to repeal the state’s “no-excuse” mail-in voting system, first implemented in 2019. State Sens. Patrick Stefano and Doug Mastriano last month said in a Senate memorandum that they “intend to introduce legislation repealing the no-excuse mail-in ballot provisions” put in place two years ago via the state’s Act 77.

“By removing the provisions of law that allow for no-excuse mail-in ballots, we can regain some trust in our elections’ integrity,” the senators argued. Stefano has also vowed to repeal Act 77’s “annual mail-in voter list” and to mandate that “only the Pennsylvania Department of State may send applications for mail in ballots to eligible voters.” “By guaranteeing that eligible voters must apply for a mail-in ballot for each election, and that only the Department of State may distribute the applications to apply for mail-in ballots,” he wrote, “we can address much of the confusion and frustration that surrounded our most recent election cycle.”

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“Lou charged that the United States was monetising its budget deficit to transfer its debt burden to the rest of the world..”

China’s Fiscal Risks ‘Extremely Severe’, Former Finance Minister Warns (SCMP)

China’s fiscal situation is “extremely severe with risks and challenges”, former finance minister Lou Jiwei has warned, citing fallout from aggressive US stimulus policies, the global economic slowdown during the pandemic, an ageing Chinese population and mounting domestic local government debt. Lou offered his sharp critique in December but the assessment has only been made public more recently, with just days to go now before China’s political elites meet for their annual legislative session to decide the details of economic policy. Among the big issues will be whether to scale back the fiscal stimulus implemented last year to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and instead focus on curbing rising debt risks.

Beijing is expected to cut back fiscal stimulus even as Washington closes in on approval for an additional US$1.9 trillion in economic stimulus proposed by President Joe Biden. Lou, who served as China’s finance minister from 2013 to 2016, warned that the country’s fiscal revenue was expected to be stuck at “a low level” in the coming five years, with no sign of the government cutting back its spending. “The fiscal difficulties are not only a near-term or short-term issue, but also will be serious in the medium term,” said Lou, who is known for his outspoken views. Lou’s remarks were contained in a speech delivered in December but only published in February by a magazine affiliated with the Ministry of Finance.

Lou charged that the United States was monetising its budget deficit to transfer its debt burden to the rest of the world, especially to developing countries like China. To finance its large and growing budget deficit, the US government has had to issue increasingly large amounts of Treasury bonds. In addition, the Federal Reserve had bought large amounts of those bonds to inject liquidity into the market – so-called quantitative easing – with the additional cash rapidly pushing up the prices of stocks and other financial assets to levels far beyond those justified by economic fundamentals, Lou said.

[..] On Thursday, US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell reaffirmed that the central bank had no plans to tighten monetary policy until it had seen a sustained improvement in employment. He expressed no concern at the prospect of rising inflation and rising asset prices. But Lou warned that the US view was short-sighted. “Once the pandemic has been brought under control and the [global] economy begins to recover, fiscal and monetary policies will make a turn that will impact on global financial stability and the economic growth of various countries,” Lou said. “Emerging market countries are facing a double blow to both their economies and finances, with the economic risk transforming into fiscal and financial risks, raising the risk of a debt crisis.”

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Nice story. Wolf will make some enemies with this.

The Big “Buy & Hype” Bitcoin Casino (Wolf Richter)

So bitcoin is trading at about 57,000 bucks at the moment. Its market cap is over $1 trillion. This glorious moment jogged my memory, so I dug up that old email. Back in August 2012, I was contacted via my website by some guy about bitcoin. At the time, bitcoin was at 10 bucks. He wanted to buy my book and pay with bitcoin. So for the paperback, which sells for about 15 bucks on Amazon, he would have had to fork over 1 and a half bitcoin. So today, the proceeds from the sale of that paperback would be around 85,000 despised fiat dollars. He called bitcoin a “monetary revolution.” He wrote, “There is a large and growing community of bitcoin users, who are migrating away from the dollar and euro, because those currencies are being inflated away to nothing.”

And he said, “The value of a bitcoin has doubled in the last 4 months.” Which is the monetary revolution, apparently, that money keeps doubling every few months. He offered me a deal. If I listed my book on a site called CoinDL, he’d buy my book, and he said he would “recommend it on the bitcoin internet forums.” And then, on my site, I would need to encourage people to buy bitcoin. I would have to post my bitcoin address, ask for donations in bitcoin, etc. to let people know that I was endorsing bitcoin, and that I held bitcoin, so that they too would pile into it. Maybe I could have sold one book to him, plus three more books to some other folks on the internet forums he frequented, four books in total, for six bitcoin in total.

Today, those six bitcoin would have amounted to 342,000 despised fiat dollars. What was striking about the deal he tried to draw me into: He offered to buy my book for bitcoin and help me sell a few more books for bitcoin, and in return I would leverage my site to hype bitcoin to my readers. Ladies and gentlemen, this is exactly how it worked universally, and even today the same principle is in effect, but now big players have jumped into it, and they quietly bought bitcoin, and then they used their global megaphones that the mainstream media amplified for all to see, and they hyped bitcoin, and it’s on the front of the mainstream media, and bitcoin has soared.

Buy and hype. This is the principle on which bitcoin has operated from day one. Everyone getting into it would become a hype artist. And there would be no metric by which its price could be judged. These two factors were the true genius behind bitcoin. So obviously, I didn’t go for the deal. I didn’t need to participate in a “monetary revolution,” where the value doubles in four months. This has nothing to do with monetary anything, but is a form of gambling that relies on ever more new gamblers entering the casino and bidding up the price, with more and more gamblers selling each other the bitcoin, all united in the singular purpose of driving up its price so that everyone could get rich.

Read more …

Gab is not a far right platform. It’s just a platform that doesn’t censor.

Far-Right Platform Gab Has Been Hacked—Including Private Data (Wired)

When Twitter banned Donald Trump and a slew of other far-right users in January, many of them became digital refugees, migrating to sites like Parler and Gab to find a home that wouldn’t moderate their hate speech and disinformation. Days later, Parler was hacked and then dropped by Amazon web hosting, knocking the site offline. Now Gab, which inherited some of Parler’s displaced users, has been badly hacked too. An enormous trove of its contents has been stolen—including what appears to be passwords and private communications. On Sunday night the WikiLeaks-style group Distributed Denial of Secrets is revealing what it calls calling “GabLeaks,” a collection of more than 70 gigabytes of Gab data representing more than 40 million posts.

DDoSecrets says a hacktivist who self-identifies as “JaXpArO and My Little Anonymous Revival Project” siphoned that data out of Gab’s backend databases in an effort to expose the platform’s largely rightwing users. Those Gab patrons, whose numbers have swelled after Parler went offline, include large numbers of Qanon conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, and promoters of former president Donald Trump’s election-stealing conspiracies that resulted in the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. DDoSecrets cofounder Emma Best says that the hacked data includes not only all of Gab’s public posts and profiles—with the exception of any photos or videos uploaded to the site—but also private group and private individual account posts and messages, as well as user passwords and group passwords.

“It contains pretty much everything on Gab, including user data and private posts, everything someone needs to run a nearly complete analysis on Gab users and content,” Best wrote in a text message interview with WIRED. “It’s another gold mine of research for people looking at militias, neo-Nazis, the far right, QAnon and everything surrounding January 6.” DDoSecrets says it’s not publicly releasing the data due to its sensitivity and the vast amounts of private information it contains. Instead the group says it will selectively share it with journalists, social scientists, and researchers. WIRED viewed a sample of the data, and it does appear to contain Gab users’ individual and group profiles—their descriptions and privacy settings—public and private posts, and passwords. Gab CEO Andrew Torba acknowledged the breach in a brief statement Sunday.

Passwords for private groups are unencrypted, which Torba says the platform discloses to users when they create one. Individual user account passwords appear to be cryptographically hashed—a safeguard that may help prevent them from being compromised—but the level of security depends on the hashing scheme used and the strength of the underlying password. Among the users whose hashed passwords appeared to be included in the data were those for Donald Trump, Republican congresswoman and QAnon-conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene, MyPillow CEO and election-conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, and disinformation-spouting radio host Alex Jones. The hacked data also includes a chatlogs.txt file that appears to contain private conversations between the site’s users. That file’s contents begin with an added note from JaXpArO: “FUCK TRUMP. FUCK COLONIZERS & CAPITALISTS. DEATH TO AMERIKKKA.”

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 282021
 
 February 28, 2021  Posted by at 10:21 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  35 Responses »


Dome ceiling at the Ambassadors’ Hall in the Royal Alcazar of Seville, Spain 1427 (click to enlarge)

 

Vaccine Passports Are A Technical And Ethical Minefield (FT)
I’ve Had The Covid Jab – And All It Cost Me Was My Freedom (Hitchens )
First Vaccine To Fully Immunize Against Malaria Builds On RNA Tech (AT)
Czech Leader Asks Putin For Sputnik V Vaccine Without EU Certification (RT)
Biden Says US Will ‘Never’ Accept Russia’s Annexation of Crimea (Antiwar)
Putin, Crusaders, & Barbarians (Escobar)
Second Former Aide Accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo Of Sexual Harassment (NYP)
The Danger of the Administrative State (AIER)
Can The US Become Self-Sufficient In Rare Earth Materials Again? (F.)
India Targets Climate Activists With the Help of Big Tech (Naomi Klein)
Why Bill Gates Is Now The US Biggest Farmland Owner (NYP)
Unmasking Bitcoin Inventor May Send Cryptomarket Into Tailspin – Coinbase (RT)

 

 

 

 

Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.
– Virginia Woolf

 

 

Promising title, missed opportunity.

Vaccine Passports Are A Technical And Ethical Minefield (FT)

Vaccine passports are essentially certificates that link proof of vaccination to the identity of the holder, a potential silver bullet to return to our pre-Covid-19 lives. Before the pandemic, the EU was working on plans for cross-border electronic certificates to replace the paper booklets that many travellers carry. At this week’s EU summit some leaders pressed for further steps towards coronavirus passports. A recent Royal Society report that I led came up with 12 different criteria that would need to be satisfied to make such passports feasible. This is a complex ecosystem that requires an understanding of everything from immunity and infection to technology, ethics and behavioural factors. But the underlying question must be: what would a vaccine passport be used for?

The head of Heathrow airport has called for digital health certificates to reboot international travel. Estonia and Iceland already link e-vaccination certificates to travel and exclusion from quarantine. Greece is pressing the EU to move quickly. There are precedents such as the airline industry group Iata’s travel pass initiative. But would these certificates only be required for international travel or could they be needed for getting a job, attending a football match, or buying some milk? Israel recently introduced a green pass heralded as “the first step back to an almost normal life”. It opens entry to gyms, cinemas, hotels and meets some our technical criteria such as verifiable credentials, portability, (attempts at) security for personal data and interoperability. It is valid for six months after a second dose and for “those who have recovered from coronavirus”.

But this could be problematic. Current vaccines protect against severe disease, but we do not yet know whether they stop transmission, how quickly immunity wanes or if they are compromised by emerging variants. Whether someone who has “recovered” meets immunity criteria remains a question. In addition to an expiry date, we would need the ability to revoke a vaccine passport. Israel’s warning of severe punishment for forgery is another reminder of what could go wrong. There is also the question of mission creep. Recall the UK’s early digital contact tracing app, which raised concerns about privacy, government surveillance and private sector data sharing. Or consider the technical problems with the Tawakkalna app, introduced in Saudi Arabia, which is used for entry into many places but recently froze.

All vaccine passports have the potential to block people from essential goods and services and exclude those who lack identification or do not own or cannot afford a smartphone. The RS criteria for a workable vaccine passport included equity, ethics and non-discrimination. That means we must ask who would we exclude? There is higher vaccine hesitancy among ethnic minorities and the jabs are being rolled out by age. Plus some people are excluded entirely: children, pregnant women and those with allergies.

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Using popular writers to soften resistance? “I’d tried to fight against it but I lost.”?

I’ve Had The Covid Jab – And All It Cost Me Was My Freedom (Peter Hitchens)

So sorry, Your Majesty, but I have had my first Covid vaccination for wholly selfish reasons. I did not do it for the good of others but for my own convenience. And I will have my second for the same purpose. A very important part of my family now lives abroad and I am deeply tired of not being able to see them. I get the strong sense that any sort of travel, and plenty of other things, will be impossible if I don’t have the necessary vaccine certificate. I hope it becomes known as the Blair Passport – as it is largely the warmongering Creature’s idea and people will come to hate it, as they have come to hate so many of his actions. So I have been more or less forced to have an immunisation I would not normally have bothered with.

Don’t, if you are wise, dare call me an ‘anti-vaxxer’. I have, in a long life, been injected against tetanus, smallpox, TB, polio, diphtheria and yellow fever. I’m a fiend for preventive medicine and the precautions I take when I’m in malarial areas are so elaborate my companions laugh at them – from swallowing horrible protective medicines to blasting my hotel room with ultra-strength death sprays to exterminate any possible mosquitoes. These are all terrible diseases and I think it’s wise to do this. And if you think Covid is as dangerous as them, I certainly don’t want to put you off the jab. Indeed, I don’t want to put you off in any way. It’s your business, not mine, and not even the Queen’s. I dislike her growing habit of getting involved in politics and I’d feel the same if she supported any cause I liked.

Of course my selfish injection didn’t hurt. I’m a blood donor (so also please don’t call me selfish), used to far bigger needles in my arm, for a lot longer. But I did feel a pang of regret and loss. For me, the vaccination was a gloomy submission to a new world of excessive safety and regulation. I’d tried to fight against it but I lost. The New Jerusalem, in which we allow the state to boss us around even more, in the name of our own good, is now coming into being.

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Now test it properly. Yes, that takes years, we know.

First Vaccine To Fully Immunize Against Malaria Builds On RNA Tech (AT)

Consistently ranked as one of the leading causes of death around the world, malaria doesn’t have an effective vaccine yet. But researchers have invented a promising new blueprint for one — with properties akin to the novel RNA-based vaccine for COVID-19. Making a vaccine for malaria is challenging because its associated parasite, Plasmodium, contains a protein that inhibits production of memory T-cells, which protect against previously encountered pathogens.

If the body can’t generate these cells, a vaccine is ineffective. But scientists recently tried a new approach using an RNA-based platform. Their design circumvented the sneaky protein, allowed the body to produce the needed T-cells and completely immunized against malaria. The patent application for their novel vaccine, which hasn’t yet been tested on humans, was published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on Feb. 4. “It’s probably the highest level of protection that has been seen in a mouse model,” said Richard Bucala, co-inventor of the new vaccine and a physician and professor at Yale School of Medicine.

The team’s breakthrough could save hundreds of thousands of lives, particularly in developing nations. In 2019 alone, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria and 409,000 deaths worldwide. Of those deaths, 94% were in Africa, with children being the most vulnerable. “It affects societies and populations that have the least amount of resources and expertise to manage these infections well,” Bucala told The Academic Times. “We need new vaccines, and we need more tools.” Novartis Pharmaceuticals and the National Institutes of Health funded the work. GlaxoSmithKline is an assignee on the patent, which if approved, will allow the company to produce the vaccine and make it available to the public.

At present, the only vaccine to prevent malaria is called RTS,S. Approved two years ago, this vaccine is the result of nearly two decades of research, but is only about 30% effective. And after four years, that figure drops to 15%.“It doesn’t work very well,” Bucala said. “And the research studies all have the conclusion that the people who fail to mount a vaccine response, or who get reinfected, have poor memory T-cell responses.”

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“According to data from Johns Hopkins University, its death rate per 100,000 people is currently the worst in the world.”

Czech Leader Asks Putin For Sputnik V Vaccine Without EU Certification (RT)

Czech President Milos Zeman says he has sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking for a Sputnik V vaccine shipment. Zeman said that Prague won’t insist on EU agency approval for use of the jab. Speaking to CNN Prima News on Saturday, Zeman revealed that the letter to the Russian leader was penned in agreement with the country’s PM Andrej Babis. The Czech leader said that he expects Putin to approve the request. “If I am properly informed, this request will be granted,” he told the channel. Zeman noted that the jab will need to be certified by the local regulator, the State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL), before the Russian vaccine can be rolled out. He added that its seal of approval will be “enough” to launch the vaccination campaign.

Zeman’s statement appears to run contrary to that of his top health official, Jan Blatny, who has been health minister since October, representing Babis’ pro-EU Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO) populist party. Earlier this month, Blatny ruled out the possibility of the Czech Republic importing Sputnik V on his watch unless it is first greenlighted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Amid a spike in coronavirus infections, believed to be driven by a new, highly contagious variant, the Czech government extended a state of emergency on Friday, which will now run until March 28. Under the newly extended emergency, the authorities are expected to tighten curbs on the freedom of movement, including the imposition of bans on non-essential travel to other countries.

Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said the sweeping travel ban will be enforced by the military and the police. The restrictions will also see nurseries and schools for disabled children shut their doors, and people will be banned from leaving their municipalities other than for essential purposes. “We have to do it to prevent a total collapse of our hospitals,” Babis said on Friday, warning that if the lockdown is not properly enforced, “the whole world will watch Bergamo in the Czech Republic.” The country, with a population of 10.7 million, has reported some 1.2 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 20,000 fatalities from the virus. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, its death rate per 100,000 people is currently the worst in the world.

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It makes zero difference. You lost.

Biden Says US Will ‘Never’ Accept Russia’s Annexation of Crimea (Antiwar)

President Biden released a statement on Friday marking the seventh anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea where he said the US will “never” accept Russian sovereignty over the peninsula. “The United States continues to stand with Ukraine and its allies and partners today, as it has from the beginning of this conflict,” Biden said. “The United States does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of the peninsula, and we will stand with Ukraine against Russia’s aggressive acts.” Left out of Biden’s statement was the reason for the Russian annexation.


In 2014, the US-orchestrated a coup in Ukraine. The largely ethnic Russian population of Crimea rejected the new nationalist anti-Russian government in Kyiv that even had neo-nazis in its midst. Polls after the annexation show the majority of Crimeans were in favor of joining Russia. The Biden family benefited greatly from the coup. Shortly after the change in government, President Biden’s son Hunter landed a high-paying job on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company. President Biden tapped an architect of the Ukraine coup for a high-level position in the State Department. Victoria Nuland, the wife of neoconservative Robert Kagan, is the nominee to be the under secretary of state for political affairs.

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“Orthodox Christian, thus appealing to swaths of the West; consolidated as major Eurasian power; a military, hypersonic superpower; and boasting unrivaled diplomatic skills, appreciated all across the Global South.”

Putin, Crusaders, & Barbarians (Escobar)

Moscow is painfully aware that the US/NATO “strategy” of containment of Russia is already reaching fever pitch. Again. This past Wednesday, at a very important meeting with the Federal Security Service board, President Putin laid it all out in stark terms: “We are up against the so-called policy of containing Russia. This is not about competition, which is a natural thing for international relations. This is about a consistent and quite aggressive policy aimed at disrupting our development, slowing it down, creating problems along the outer perimeter, triggering domestic instability, undermining the values that unite Russian society, and ultimately to weaken Russia and put it under external control, just the way we are witnessing it transpire in some countries in the post-Soviet space.”

Not without a touch of wickedness, Putin added this was no exaggeration: “In fact, you don’t need to be convinced of this as you yourselves know it perfectly well, perhaps even better than anybody else.” The Kremlin is very much aware “containment” of Russia focuses on its perimeter: Ukraine, Georgia and Central Asia. And the ultimate target remains regime change. Putin’s remarks may also be interpreted as an indirect answer to a section of President Biden’s speech at the Munich Security Conference. According to Biden’s scriptwriters, “Putin seeks to weaken the European project and the NATO alliance because it is much easier for the Kremlin to intimidate individual countries than to negotiate with the united transatlantic community … The Russian authorities want others to think that our system is just as corrupt or even more corrupt.”

A clumsy, direct personal attack against the head of state of a major nuclear power does not exactly qualify as sophisticated diplomacy. At least it glaringly shows how trust between Washington and Moscow is now reduced to less than zero. As much as Biden’s Deep State handlers refuse to see Putin as a worthy negotiating partner, the Kremlin and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have already dismissed Washington as “non-agreement capable.” Once again, this is all about sovereignty. The “unfriendly attitude towards Russia,” as Putin defined it, extends to “other independent, sovereign centers of global development.” Read it as mainly China and Iran. All these three sovereign states happen to be categorized as top “threats” by the US National Security Strategy.

Yet Russia is the real nightmare for the Exceptionalists: Orthodox Christian, thus appealing to swaths of the West; consolidated as major Eurasian power; a military, hypersonic superpower; and boasting unrivaled diplomatic skills, appreciated all across the Global South. In contrast, there’s not much left for the deep state except endlessly demonizing both Russia and China to justify a Western military build-up, the “logic” inbuilt in a new strategic concept named NATO 2030: United for a New Era. The experts behind the concept hailed it as an “implicit” response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s declaring NATO “brain dead.” Well, at least the concept proves Macron was right.

Read more …

Your daily Cuomo drip drip.

Second Former Aide Accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo Of Sexual Harassment (NYP)

A second woman has accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, according to a new report. Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old former aide to Cuomo, told The New York Times that the governor asked her inappropriate personal questions, told her he was open to relationships with women in their 20s, and left her feeling that he “wanted to sleep with me.” Bennett, who worked as an executive assistant and health-policy adviser, told the Times the interactions took place in the spring, as the coronavirus pandemic flared. Cuomo, 63, never made any physical advances, she said. Still, she described a June meeting in Cuomo’s Albany office, during which he griped about being lonely during the pandemic and whined he “can’t even hug anyone.”

Cuomo, 63, then pressed her: “Who did I last hug,” she said. She tried to dodge the question by saying she missed hugging her parents. “And he was, like, ‘No, I mean like really hugged somebody,’” she said. “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the Times. “And [I] was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.” Bennett, who grew up in Westchester County, is around the same age as Cuomo’s oldest daughters. She said she told the governor how she had once played soccer against one of his girls. When she told Cuomo in May of her experience as a sexual-assault survivor, he seemed fixated by the revelation, she said.

She told a friend via text message: “The way he was repeating, ‘You were raped and abused and attacked and assaulted and betrayed,’ over and over again while looking me directly in the eyes was something out of a horror movie,” according to the Times. “It was like he was testing me.” Cuomo told her he was lonely since his relationship celebrity chef Sandra Lee, his girlfriend of 14 years, ended in 2019. He stressed to her that Lee was “out of the picture,” and referred to “wanting a girlfriend, preferably in the Albany area.” “Age doesn’t matter,” he told her, as he asked about her feelings about age differences in relationships — a conversation she told a friend about at the time, in a text reviewed by the Times.

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It’s not just the state. Hospitals often have more managers and administrators than doctors and nurses.

The Danger of the Administrative State (AIER)

The chilling narrative about the growth of the administrative state, which is essentially the regulatory apparatus of the executive branch, is usually confined to specialist professions. The ever-present danger of a slowly expanding and unaccountable apparatus of bureaucrats that threatens to sap the life out of American society and drown it in a sea of paperwork is typically a concern that only keeps policy wonks and lawyers up at night. Although many lawyers probably celebrate this dystopian vision because they benefit from the compliance fees. The regulatory state not only threatens to make society that much slower and dreary with its excessive onslaught of regulation but it also makes us poorer. Robert Samuelson writes for the Washington Post that

“No one really knows by how much, but “there is ample evidence that regulation has expanded and that this expansion has limited economic growth,” as Ted Gayer and Philip Wallach of the Brookings Institution recently wrote. One study estimates that regulation has shaved 0.8 percent off the U.S. annual growth rate, which — if confirmed by other studies — would be huge.” The regulatory state refers to organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, and all the other three-letter agencies in Washington, DC. If you would like to see how long the list of agencies is, take a look at the Federal Register, to which there are 455.

That number is absolutely mind-boggling and you don’t need a fancy degree in political science like I have to say that society can function without their oversight. A paper by Peter Strauss at Columbia Law School notes that there are currently over 2 million civilians employed in the federal government alone. He notes that for context, “The first Congress to meet once the Constitution was ratified created a Post Office and Departments of War, Navy, Foreign Affairs, and Treasury, each in unique ways suited to its responsibilities; this new government employed few civil servants to manage all its affairs. The first serious count of federal civilian employees, in 1816, reported that they numbered 4,837.”

The drastic expansion of the administrative state has come at a cost to not only our liberty, which is slowly being eroded by a sea of paperwork and regulations, but it also undermines our democracy. According to Article 1 of the Constitution, the legislative branch or Congress is supposed to be the primary law-making body of our government. That is because if there are bad laws or laws society doesn’t like, we can hold people accountable. However, more and more power has been shifted to the executive branch because of the growth of the administrative state. Even the judicial system is losing power to the administrative state after the establishment of a legal doctrine known as Chevron Deference, which binds the court system to defer to the administrative agency’s interpretation of a rule, not the Constitutional interpretation of a sitting judge.

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These things are dirty.

Can The US Become Self-Sufficient In Rare Earth Materials Again? (F.)

The extraction process involves crushing the ore and milling it into granules, followed by some range of mechanical separation processes which might involve using magnetic sorting, gravity separation, or floatation. This is then usually followed by acid leaching, baking, or a solvent extraction step. This is why we don’t like processing it in the U.S. – it creates toxic wastes which have to be dealt with. Sometimes you get radioactive elements with it, like radium and thorium in the waste streams, which makes it even worse. So when we export it to China for processing, we really are exporting a lot of pollution with it.

China is the largest provider in the world today. It has three major ore deposits in Inner Mongolia, Sichuan, and Shangdong Provinces, as well lower grade deposits mainly in Jianxi, Guangdong, Fujian, and Guanxi Provinces in which the rare earths are adsorbed onto the surface of clay minerals. Though these lower-grade “weathered crust elution deposits” have lower concentrations of the actual rare earth elements, they are easier to extract. Dissolving them in salt water or ammonium sulfate solutions, and then precipitating them out with oxalic acid or ammonium bicarbonate – inexpensive chemicals – does the trick. It is a much less expensive process than extracting from ores, which has given Chinese producers a significant cost advantage.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. led the world in research on rare earths, but by the 1980s funding for the chemistry, separation technology, and processing was reduced. Low-pricing from China made U.S. mining and processing uncompetitive, and the Mountain Pass mine was closed in the 1990s, only to be reopened in 2013 after China restricted supplies. Could the U.S. become self-sufficient again? Bokan Mountain, on Prince of Wales Island in southeastern Alaska, is the site of a project by Nova Scotia-based Ucore Rare Metals. The company is trying to extract dysprosium, terbium, and yttrium over the projected 11 – 15 year life of the mine. From the 1950s – 1970s, the area was the location of a uranium mine, so the contaminated soil and waste rock today mark a Superfund site.

NioCorp. is also trying to develop a mine for rare earths and niobium in Elk Creek, Nebraska. In addition to rare earths, it could be one of the world’s largest sources of niobium, a critical ingredient in high temperature alloys used in jet and rocket engines, as well as in low-temperature superconducting wire. Bear Lodge, in the northeast corner of Wyoming, is another prospective mine development. Lynas Corp. and Texas Mineral Resources Corp. are also building processing plants in the U.S. MP Materials also plans to begin domestic processing in 2022.

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They’re everywhere.

India Targets Climate Activists With the Help of Big Tech (Naomi Klein)

The bank of cameras that camped outside Delhi’s sprawling Tihar jail was the sort of media frenzy you would expect to await a prime minister caught in an embezzlement scandal, or perhaps a Bollywood star caught in the wrong bed. Instead, the cameras were waiting for Disha Ravi, a nature-loving 22-year-old vegan climate activist who against all odds has found herself ensnared in an Orwellian legal saga that includes accusations of sedition, incitement, and involvement in an international conspiracy whose elements include (but are not limited to): Indian farmers in revolt, the global pop star Rihanna, supposed plots against yoga and chai, Sikh separatism, and Greta Thunberg. If you think that sounds far-fetched, well, so did the judge who released Ravi after nine days in jail under police interrogation.

Judge Dharmender Rana was supposed to rule on whether Ravi, one of the founders of the Indian chapter of Fridays For Future, the youth climate group started by Thunberg, should continue to be denied bail. He ruled that there was no reason for bail to be denied, which cleared the way for Ravi’s return to her home in Bengaluru (also known as Bangalore) that night. But the judge also felt the need to go much further, to issue a scathing 18-page ruling on the underlying case that has gripped Indian media for weeks, issuing his own personal verdict on the various explanations provided by the Delhi police for why Ravi had been apprehended in the first place. The police’s evidence against the young climate activist is, he wrote, “scanty and sketchy,” and there is not “even an iota” of proof to support the claims of sedition, incitement, or conspiracy that have been leveled against her and at least two other young activists.

Though the international conspiracy case appears to be falling apart, Ravi’s arrest has spotlighted a different kind of collusion, this one between the increasingly oppressive and anti-democratic Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Silicon Valley companies whose tools and platforms have become the primary means for government forces to incite hatred against vulnerable minorities and critics — and for police to ensnare peaceful activists like Ravi in a high-tech digital web. The case against Ravi and her “co-conspirators” hinges entirely on routine uses of well-known digital tools: WhatsApp groups, a collectively edited Google Doc, a private Zoom meeting, and several high-profile tweets, all of which have been weaponized into key pieces of alleged evidence in a state-sponsored and media-amplified activist hunt.

At the same time, these very tools have been used in a coordinated pro-government messaging campaign to turn public sentiment against the young activists and the movement of farmers they came together to support, often in clear violation of the guardrails social media companies claim to have erected to prevent violent incitement on their platforms.

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Gates is all about money.

Why Bill Gates Is Now The US Biggest Farmland Owner (NYP)

Late last year, Eric O’Keefe was researching a mysterious recent purchase of 14,500 acres of prime Washington state farmland. His magazine, The Land Report, tracks major land transactions and produces an annual list of the 100 biggest US landowners. Sales of more than a thousand acres are “blue-moon events,” O’Keefe noted, so this one stood out. And Eastern Washington has some of the richest, most expensive farmland in the country. But the purchaser of record was a small, obscure company in Louisiana. “That immediately set off alarm bells,” O’Keefe says. He assigned his research team to dig a little deeper. Soon they came back with the answer: The Louisiana company was acting on behalf of Cascade Investment LLC, the secretive investment firm that manages most of the huge fortune belonging to Bill Gates.

O’Keefe knew Gates had been acquiring farmland for years, mostly through various Cascade subsidiaries. The mogul’s holdings include large tracts in Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, California, and about a dozen other states. With the Washington state acreage and other recent additions to his portfolio, O’Keefe calculated, Gates now owns at least 242,000 acres of American farmland. “Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, has an alter ego,” O’Keefe wrote: “Farmer Bill, the guy who owns more farmland than anyone else in America.” The Land Report scoop made headlines. Many stories focused on Gates’ longstanding interest in climate change and sustainability and suggested those concerns might be driving the land purchases. Newsweek called him a “sustainable agriculture champion.”

[..] Investment guru Michael Larson, who has worked with Gates since 1994, runs the Washington-based Cascade Investment, as well as supervising the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s nearly $50 billion endowment. “The arrangement is simple,” The Wall Street Journal wrote in a 2014 profile. “Mr. Larson makes money, and Mr. Gates gives it away.” Larson and his team are famously tight-lipped. Cascade employees almost never speak to the press. According to the Journal, they are even discouraged from using Facebook and other social-media platforms. Larson sees to it that Gates’ wealth is sensibly, even conservatively, invested.


He’s the new MacDonald: Bill Gates owns hundreds of thousands of acres across the United States — including 242,000 acres of farmland — making him the country’s top agricultural landholder, according to Eric O’Keefe’s The Land Report. NY Post graphic/Mike Guillen

According to public records, the billionaire’s portfolio includes shares in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, a Coca-Cola bottling company, and the tractor manufacturer Deere & Co., among other non-flashy investments. Larson also makes sure Gates keeps his eggs in a wide variety of baskets. His portfolio is diversified, in other words. And that’s where the land purchases come in. Most of us imagine farmers tilling the soil that has been in their families for generations. But many farmers lease at least some of the land they cultivate. According to Bruce Sherrick, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, about 60 percent of row-crop farmland in the Midwest is leased. The landowners can include investors like Gates.


For investors who know what they’re doing, agricultural land offers financial stability in uncertain times. “Farmland has had a remarkably consistent ability to hedge against inflation,” Sherrick says. And it tends to be “negatively correlated” against other investments, he adds: If the stock market is going down, the return on farmland is likely to be going up. But farmland isn’t easy to buy.

Read more …

“At bitcoin’s current value, Nakamoto’s fortune could exceed $50 billion..”

Unmasking Bitcoin Inventor May Send Cryptomarket Into Tailspin – Coinbase (RT)

The largest US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, which is getting ready to go public, has named bitcoin’s developer, known to the world as Satoshi Nakamoto, as one of the major risks to its business.In its IPO filing sent to the Securities Exchange Commission earlier this week, Coinbase listed Nakamoto, an individual creator or a group of people thought to be behind the creation of the world’s largest cryptocurrency, as one of the recipients of the document. However, the same anonymous inventor could pose a risk to the entire “cryptoeconomy.”


According to the filing, if the identity is revealed or if Nakamoto’s bitcoins are transferred, the prices of the most valued digital coins, bitcoin and ethereum, may deteriorate. The creator, or a group of creators, are believed to hold around 1.1 million bitcoin, which account for around five percent of all bitcoins that can be ever mined. At bitcoin’s current value, Nakamoto’s fortune could exceed $50 billion, making him almost as rich as Chinese entrepreneur and the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma. Since Nakamoto published the white paper titled ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’ in 2008, various theories have emerged about his identity. However, little is still known about him.

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 232021
 
 February 23, 2021  Posted by at 9:58 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  32 Responses »


MC Escher Convex and concave 1955

 

It’s Gene Therapy, Not a Vaccine (Dr. David Martin)
COVID-19 And The New Great Depression- Jim Rickards (Diana)
Michael Burry Warns Weimar Hyperinflation Is Coming (ZH)
Hospitals Across US Report Sharp Drop In New COVID patients (JTN)
Spectacles-Wearers Two To Three Times Less Likely To Get Covid-19 – Study (RT)
The ZeroCovid Movement: Cult Dressed as Science (AIER)
Resign, Andrew Cuomo (Week)
How Wall Street Kills Grandma (DP)
Repentence (Kunstler)
‘Thank You,’ Says MyPillow’s Mike Lindell As He’s Finally Sued By Dominion (RT)
Lawmakers to Cable Providers: Why Do You Carry These News Channels? (Soave)
Building a Bitcoin Prison – Catherine Austin Fitts (USAW)

 

 

 

 

Do read the whole interview. I think I caught the essence.

It’s Gene Therapy, Not a Vaccine (Dr. David Martin)

A viral infection hasn’t been documented in the majority of what is called cases. There is no basis for that conflation other than the manipulation of the public. That’s the first half of the problem. The second half of the problem is that what is being touted as a vaccination, which as you well know when somebody says the word vaccination, the public understanding is that you are being treated with an attenuated or alive virus or a fragment of an attenuated and that the treatment is meant to keep you from getting an infection and it is meant to keep you from transmitting the infection that vaccine in the common definition of a vaccine is meant to do.

The problem is that in the case of Moderna and Pfizer, this is not a vaccine. This is gene therapy. It’s a chemotherapy agent that is gene therapy. It is not a vaccine. What is this doing? It’s sending a strand of synthetic RNA into the human being and is invoking within the human being, the creation of the S1 spike protein, which is a pathogen. It’s a toxin inside of human beings. This is not only not keeping you from getting sick, it’s making your body produce the thing that makes you sick. In that sense, it does sound like a vaccine? No, not at all because a vaccine is supposed to trigger immunity. It’s not supposed to trigger you to make a toxin. That’s how this differs.

It’s not somewhat different. It’s not the same at all. This is a public manipulation of misrepresentation of clinical treatment. It’s not a vaccination. It’s not a prohibiting infection. It’s not a prohibiting transmission device. It’s a means by which your body is conscripted to make the toxin that then allegedly your body somehow gets used to dealing with, but unlike a vaccine, which is to trigger the immune response, this is to trigger the creation of the toxin.

This is not going to stop you from getting Coronavirus. It’s not going to stop you from getting sick. In fact, on the contrary, it will make you sick far more often than the virus itself. How can you say that so definitively? Because the data is nothing but that, for people receiving by the time they got the second shot, 80% of people had one or more clinical presentations of COVID-19, 80% of people who have an infection according to RT-PCR have no symptoms at all. People are getting it more from the “vaccine?” Yes. You will get COVID-19 symptoms from getting the gene therapy passed off as a vaccine. You will get COVID symptoms from that 80% of the time. If you’re exposed to SARS-CoV-2 according to RT-PCR, 80% of the time, you will have no symptoms at all.

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First a pandemic. Then a depression.

“Significant macroeconomic after-effects of the pandemics persist for about 40 years..”

COVID-19 And The New Great Depression- Jim Rickards (Diana)

In a new book by James Rickards, the author explores both the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact. A prolific writer, Economist, and adviser, Mr. Rickards predicts years of economic turbulence ahead. In The New Great Depression, Mr. Rickards sees the pandemic through an historical lens, where crisis presents a gateway between one world and the next. With an eye towards history, he concludes that the Keynes practical definition of a depression fits, and we are now in a new depression that is more far reaching than a mere technical recession. Along the way, the author wades into controversial topics such as China’s role in spreading the virus and the lockdown that ensued (which he calls the biggest policy blunder ever).

Based on the pattern of four influenza pandemics he studied, he positions three scenarios among the most likely patterns to expect in the months ahead. He found that three of the four great pandemics since 1918 have followed scenario 2, which he stated as follows: “Scenario 2 also involves repetitive waves. The difference is that the second wave (arriving in 2021) would be far more lethal than the first wave of 2020, due possibly to a mutation or recombination of genetic material. This pattern was seen in the 1918 Spanish flu, the 1957 Asian flu, and the 2009 swine flu. In all three pandemics, a moderate yet lethal wave began in the spring and subsided by the early summer. Then, in the fall, a larger, super lethal wave of infections arrived.”

The timeframe of this writing was October of last year, so the winter wave we experienced could indeed be the lethal wave predicted. Beyond the virus, the book explores the economic conditions he expects post-pandemic. Mr. Rickards effectively looks at past economic crisis and how they evolved. His conclusions point to a period of economic decline. As is the case across topics, the virus has accelerated issues and trends that existed pre-pandemic – and the economy is no exception. Here is a view of that from the book:

“The best evidence points to slow growth for thirty years. A March 2020 study entitled “Longer Run Economic Consequences of Pandemics” by a Federal Reserve economist and two academics from the University of California, examines the economic impact of pandemics with at least 100,000 deaths, beginning with the Black Death in 1347. The authors conclusion states: “Significant macroeconomic after-effects of the pandemics persist for about 40 years, with real rates of return substantially depressed.”

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Burry basically says the same as Rickards.

Michael Burry Warns Weimar Hyperinflation Is Coming (ZH)

“The life of the inflation in its ripening stage was a paradox which had its own unmistakable characteristics. One was the great wealth, at least of those favored by the boom..Many great fortunes sprang up overnight…The cities, had an aimless and wanton youth””Prices in Germany were steady, and both business and the stock market were booming. The exchange rate of the mark against the dollar and other currencies actually rose for a time, and the mark was momentarily the strongest currency in the world” on inflation’s eve.”Side by side with the wealth were the pockets of poverty. Greater numbers of people remained on the outside of the easy money, looking in but not able to enter. The crime rate soared.”

“Accounts of the time tell of a progressive demoralization which crept over the common people, compounded of their weariness with the breakneck pace, to no visible purpose, and their fears from watching their own precarious positions slip while others grew so conspicuously rich.””Almost any kind of business could make money. Business failures and bankruptcies became few. The boom suspended the normal processes of natural selection by which the nonessential and ineffective otherwise would have been culled out.””Speculation alone, while adding nothing to Germany’s wealth, became one of its largest activities. The fever to join in turning a quick mark infected nearly all classes..Everyone from the elevator operator up was playing the market.”

“The volumes of turnover in securities on the Berlin Bourse became so high that the financial industry could not keep up with the paperwork…and the Bourse was obliged to close several days a week to work off the backlog” “all the marks that existed in the world in the summer of 1922 were not worth enough, by November of 1923, to buy a single newspaper or a tram ticket. That was the spectacular part of the collapse, but most of the real loss in money wealth had been suffered much earlier.” “Throughout these years the structure was quietly building itself up for the blow. Germany’s #inflationcycle ran not for a year but for nine years, representing eight years of gestation and only one year of #collapse.”

Read more …

Nothing to do with a vaccine, or very little. Just 5% or so of Americas have been “vaccinated”.

Hospitals Across US Report Sharp Drop In New COVID patients (JTN)

The number of COVID-19 patients being hospitalized in the U.S. is dropping rapidly, as the infection rate in past weeks has also declined, as the total number of infections in the county nears the 500,000. The number of U.S. patients hospitalized currently is now just below 56,200, the lowest number since early November. The in-patient number declines as the virus death toll is expected to hit 500,000 this week. Expert have given several explanation for the decline and slowing numbers, foremost that more Americans are now vaccinated, especially among the elderly, the most at risk to be hospitalized and die from the virus.


At Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, the number of new coronavirus admits has fallen to about 10-15 a day, which is a decline of about half from early January, according to the director of the hospital’s group that tracks coronavirus hospitalizations. The decline has brought relief to intensive care staffers, having worked on the frontlines of the pandemic now for about a year. “People are smiling. They are optimistic. They’re making plans for the future,” one medical director in New Mexico told the New York Times. In Springfield, Missouri, a medical staff emptied the emergency coronavirus ICU wing that was built last spring. “We have not defeated this disease, but the closing of this unit, at least for now, is a tremendous symbolic victory,” said Steve Edwards, the hospital system’s chief executive.

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No wait. Didn’t we just find that the virus is airborne, and it’s not on surfaces?

And also: people who wear contacts rub their eyes more than those who wear glasses?

Spectacles-Wearers Two To Three Times Less Likely To Get Covid-19 – Study (RT)

Research from India has indicated that people wearing glasses are far less likely to become infected with Covid-19 than those without, which appears to support health advice to wear spectacles instead of contact lenses. Covid-19 can spread in many different ways, and one of those is through germs being spread to the eyes due to touching or rubbing. According to the new study, published at medRxiv.com and not peer-reviewed, people who wear glasses touch their eyes far less and are therefore less likely to spread the virus in this way. Researchers found that, on average, people touch their face 23 times an hour and their eyes three times an hour.


Health officials have advised those wearing contact lenses to switch to glasses during the Covid-19 pandemic to avoid potentially spreading the virus through such constant touching. In the study of 304 adults aged between 10 and 80, two-thirds of them male, 19 percent said they wore glasses. The researchers found this group were two to three times less likely to contract the virus. “Long-term use of spectacles may prevent repeated touching and rubbing of the eyes,” the report said, citing the eyes as possibly a “significant route of infection.” A similar study conducted in China and released last fall theorized that people who are infected with Covid-19 are five times less likely to wear glasses.

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Jury’s out. My main thing with ZeroCovid would be the complete lack of discussing prophylaxis.

The ZeroCovid Movement: Cult Dressed as Science (AIER)

This past year has given rise to some strange and novel methods of disease containment, including lockdowns and mask mandates. It is unsurprising that the natural next step in this progression has been the development of a movement known as “ZeroCovid.” Its growing influence is, perhaps, predictable given that for nearly a year we have been inundated by the views of so-called experts seeking to legitimize their myopic worldview that public health is determined solely by prevention of Covid-19. Rather than acknowledge to a weary public that their approach has been a failure, they are doubling down and attempting to save their reputations by claiming that the problem is not that lockdowns do not work, but that they have not gone far enough.

There is, apparently, some diversity of opinion among the ZeroCovid crowd as to whether the term is to be interpreted literally, as some of its most impassioned and vocal proponents argue, or whether it simply means a more extreme version of the ideology that has dominated societies around the globe for the past year: the belief that suppressing the coronavirus is a singularly important goal, to replace all others and to be pursued with no or only minimal consideration of the effects of doing so. ZeroCovid promoters appear to agree that much stricter border controls, lockdowns, and mask mandates are needed than exist in most nations today. Sam Bowman, one of the most prominent ZeroCoviders, claims for instance that the only way to address the coronavirus problem is with “lockdowns, school closures, travel bans, mass testing, contact tracing, and masks.”

Likewise, former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair’s think-tank has stated that the only way to avoid another lockdown is to bring coronavirus cases to zero. China, Australia and New Zealand are portrayed as successes by ZeroCovid proponents, and prove that suffering now brings with it the promise of eventual freedom. Even Australia and New Zealand, which before 2020 were considered beacons of liberal democracy, have recently been the subject of investigations or inquiries by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The ZeroCovid proponents do not address the reality that China, Australia, and New Zealand have continually had to implement lockdown policies in response to new cases arising even after declaring victory over the virus, and that the latter two are island nations able to effectuate border control in a way that cannot possibly be applied to nations that are geographically proximate to others and in which the virus has already become endemic.

The “Covid Community Action Summit,” a conference held at the end of January, and led and attended by many of ZeroCovid’s main players – needless to say, over Zoom – offers a glimpse into the warped worldview that pervades the ideology. The architect of ZeroCovid, and the first speaker at the Summit, was Yaneer Bar-Yam, an American scientist who specializes in complex systems and quantitative analysis of pandemics and founded the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI). The participants came from a variety of backgrounds: in addition to doctors and scientists, political consultants and communications specialists were in attendance. Many presenters had business interests in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, and those from the United States tended to be affiliated with Democratic Party politics and campaigns.

Read more …

Your daily Cuomo content.

Resign, Andrew Cuomo (Week)

“I want to get things done and be judged by results and by making a positive difference, and I can be obsessive in that pursuit,” boasts New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in his book American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic — the book he (supposedly) wrote himself about how he did such a great job managing the virus. Since that book was published in October, a devastating second wave of infections has struck New York, claiming roughly 13,000 more lives and counting in the state. Now Cuomo is reeling under a barrage of pandemic scandals. It turns out his administration concealed data about coronavirus cases in nursing homes, reportedly for fear of federal prosecution. And stories of his vitriolic abuse and threats directed at other Democratic New York politicians are coming out.

Yet even all that is only the start of Cuomo’s deadly, corrupt incompetence. So in keeping with judging him by his “results,” Cuomo should resign immediately and free New York state from his dismal misrule.The nursing home scandal has been bubbling for nearly a year now. It starts with Cuomo’s inexplicable decision back in March 2020 to order nursing homes to accept recovering COVID-19 cases even if they were still testing positive (instead of setting up some isolated quarantine facility, for instance). A recent Associated Press investigation found that at least 9,056 recovering patients were sent back to nursing homes and long-term care facilities — a number that is 40 percent larger than his administration had previously admitted. This unquestionably worsened the pandemic as it ripped through New York’s elderly population.

But that isn’t the only number Cuomo fudged on nursing homes. New York Attorney General Letitia James investigated the situation, and found that his people may have undercounted the number of deaths associated with nursing homes by 50 percent. Cuomo then admitted that instead of the 8,500 dead they had been reporting, the true number was over 15,000 — or about a third of the state’s total deaths. The scandal really blew up when the New York Post reported comments from Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa (in his book he writes, “she is the quarterback on my team and is responsible for managing all the pieces”), seemingly admitting they had deliberately faked the numbers as part of a cover-up. His officials “froze,” she said, for fear the truth was “going to be used against us” by federal prosecutors.

Read more …

“In all, 70 percent of nursing homes currently operate as for-profit businesses, far more than other healthcare facilities. Only about one quarter of hospitals, for example, are for profit.”

How Wall Street Kills Grandma (DP)

As governors in New York and Florida face political crises over their handling of the pandemic, the scandals have spotlighted how a disproportionate amount of COVID casualties have occurred in the nation’s nursing homes. The situation is a cautionary tale not only about political corruption, but about the consequences of a nursing home infrastructure being run by for-profit corporations — and now a study documents some of the body count. The analysis found that between 2004 and 2016, more than 20,000 Americans perished as a consequence of living in nursing homes run by private equity firms. The data showed that going to a private-equity-owned nursing home significantly “increases the probability of death during the stay and the following 90 days” as compared to nursing homes with a different ownership structure.

The study from University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago and New York University researchers evaluated data from 15,000 nursing homes across the United States, alongside Medicare patient data, to assess the impacts of private equity ownership on patient outcomes. In all, the researchers found that the deaths accounted for “about 160,000 lost life-years.” Private equity firms typically take over existing corporations with borrowed or investor money and then impose cost-cutting measures to maximize revenues — often in preparation for selling off the newly stripped down firms at a profit. In the health care sector, private equity buyouts have been associated with lower staffing levels, more frequent citations for health and safety violations, shortages of supplies like ventilators that are crucial for COVID patients, and other failings tied to the constant imperative to cut costs.

In all, 70 percent of nursing homes currently operate as for-profit businesses, far more than other healthcare facilities. Only about one quarter of hospitals, for example, are for profit. The new study — which updates the researchers’ previous findings — offers clues about why private equity ownership of nursing homes has resulted in higher casualty counts. As the paper noted, private equity-owned nursing homes have lower staffing levels than their counterparts, which is directly correlated with patient outcomes.

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“To what degree are we seeing simple cowardice?”

Repentence (Kunstler)

Ms. Shaw, a divorced mother with two children (and Smith alum, 1993) worked as a Student Support Coordinator in the Department of Residence Life (that is, a dorm counselor). She was asked to denounce herself in staff meetings about “systemic racism,” and complained about it through the proper channels, which only invited more hectoring abuse. In frustration, she finally posted a video on the web to expose the Stalinist bullying that was allowed to infect every corner of campus life at Smith. The admin offered her a cash settlement to shut up and get lost. Ms. Shaw turned it down but resigned anyway in a long letter to Smith President Kathleen McCartney that she made public about the college’s hostile workplace.

How does this happen? Because Wokery above all is about status, and the elite schools exist to confer status on the young people who can get into them, who then move on into an adult life of high-status (high-paying) employment facilitated by their old school connections. In prior times, the elite schools accomplished this by offering a superior education via superior faculty and superior curricula. Lately, the emphasis has shifted to promoting sham moral superiority, because it is a shortcut to gaining power over other people — and nowadays, elitism is no longer about excellence, but just raw power over others. As the Woke hysteria ramped up on campuses across the nation, and the various colleges and U’s started competing to out-do each other in moralistic fanaticism, Smith College vied with its sister schools and the other Ivies for Woke-est of all.

The moral black hole at the center of this vicious nonsense is the spectacular failure of authority of the people who run these institutions. Smith President Kathleen McCartney supported and encouraged the Woke inquisition on her campus. She gets paid the tidy sum of $515,461 a year. Maybe she didn’t want to give that up by taking a principled stand against bad behavior and bad ideas. Maybe she favors the rule of bad ideas and unprincipled behavior? Is she stupid or depraved? And, of course, what about her huge staff of vice-presidents and deans, not to mention the school’s board of trustees? To what degree are we seeing simple cowardice?

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The man must have sold a lot of pillows.

‘Thank You,’ Says MyPillow’s Mike Lindell As He’s Finally Sued By Dominion (RT)

Dominion Voting Systems has filed a lawsuit against MyPillow CEO and vocal Donald Trump supporter Mike Lindell over his election fraud claims, saying “the lie sells pillows.” Lindell is only the latest person to be legally targeted by Dominion over election fraud conspiracy theories. The company filed suit last month against Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, accusing him of pushing election conspiracies to “financially enrich himself.” Dominion is now suing Lindell for defamation, seeking $1.3 billion in damages. “MyPillow’s defamatory marketing campaign – with promo codes like ‘FightforTrump’, ‘45’, ‘Proof’, and ‘QAnon’ – has increased MyPillow sales by 30-40 percent and continues duping people into redirecting their election-lie outrage into pillow purchases,” the lawsuit claims.


Lindell fired back at the lawsuit and said “it’s been cancel culture for MyPillow” as his outspokenness has led to 22 retailers dropping his popular products from their stores. Lindell has alleged the election was rigged in Joe Biden’s favor through Dominion and other voting software systems through not only interviews, but also a two-hour documentary titled ‘Absolute Proof’, which aired earlier this month. He was previously booted from Twitter for his refusal to back down on his election fraud beliefs. “I’m very happy that they finally got that suit filed,” Lindell told CNBC of Dominion’s lawsuit. He previously invited one from the company multiple times and even to sue them earlier this month “for the American people” as a way to keep the discussion about alleged election fraud going. “My message to Dominion is thank you for finally getting this done, because it’ll be back in the limelight now,” Lindell said.

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“..the First Amendment prohibits Congress from infringing on free speech..”

Lawmakers to Cable Providers: Why Do You Carry These News Channels? (Soave)

Today two Democratic members of Congress sent letters to the presidents of Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Dish, and other cable and satellite companies implying that they should either stop carrying Fox News, One America News Network, and Newsmax or pressure them to change their coverage. According to the lawmakers, these conservative channels are responsible for promoting misinformation and political violence. “To our knowledge, the cable, satellite, and over-the-top companies that disseminate these media outlets to American viewers have done nothing in response to the misinformation aired by these outlets,” wrote Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, both of California.

Released in advance of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Wednesday hearing on “Disinformation and Extremism in the Media,” the letter makes clear that some lawmakers do not want television providers to let their customers watch conservative news channels. (Disclaimer: I am interviewed regularly on Fox News and Newsmax.) Eshoo and McNerney ask the companies to explain the “moral and ethical principles” that undergird their decisionmaking with respect to which channels are carried, how many viewers tuned in to these channels during the four weeks before the the Capitol riots on January 6, 2020, and what steps were taken to “monitor, respond to, and reduce the spread of disinformation.” “The committee members also sent the letter to Roku, Amazon, Apple, Google and Hulu, digital companies that distribute cable programming,” reports The New York Times.

False claims do appear with some frequency on conservative news channels, streaming services, and social media. But they also appear in The New York Times, on CNN, and in other mainstream information outlets. The traditional remedy to misinformation is to file a defamation lawsuit. The federal government does not need to involve itself. On the contrary, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from infringing on free speech—and that includes the freedom of provide companies to decide what kind of speech appears on their platforms. Politicians are not in charge of setting the parameters for acceptable speech on the internet and television. That responsibility devolves to individual companies and individual viewers.

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“The easiest way to build the prison is to get freedom lovers everywhere to build the prison for you.”

Building a Bitcoin Prison – Catherine Austin Fitts (USAW)

Former Assistant Secretary of Housing and investment advisor Catherine Austin Fitts says you have to be careful and fully understand Bitcoin. Fitts explains, “We do know they want to go to an all-digital system with central bank cryptos. The easiest way to build the prison is to get freedom lovers everywhere to build the prison for you. To me, Bitcoin has always been the prototype on the way to building the all-digital crypto system that they would love to put into place. You have $400 trillion in fiat (currency) and it needs a place to go. If you are trying to buy up all the gold, silver and farmland, the last thing you need is competition from retail. They want to shift them into crypto and get them to build the crypto train tracks. In a funny kind of way, it’s brilliant.

There is talk by big banks that Bitcoin could go to $300,000 per unit by the end of the year. Fitts thinks, “This is absolutely possible. This is pure politics. This has nothing to do with economics. How much will the central bankers, who can print as much money as they want, spend to get you into this platform? Your guess is as good as mine. The sky’s the limit as to how much they can spend. Remember, once they decide to bring out the central bank currencies, and they have steadily been regulating the crypto currencies, Bitcoin and everything else, so the day they decide to take this to zero, they can do it. If you are going to invest into cryptos and build our prison for us, what you need to know is this thing could go to $300,000, and it can also go to zero. This is a highly speculative market, and you need to approach it accordingly.”

Fitts warns of a dark future if the central bankers get everything they want. Fitts says, “When they decide to shut down our bank accounts and say you all get on crypto, universal basic income and take that injection or you can’t transact on the financial system, this is instituting a totalitarian system through the financial system. . . . When they shut that trap door, what you need to think about is where are you going to buy food?” In closing, Fitts says, “We are in Never, Never Land. We have two groups in our society: One group that can print money, and the other who can earn money. What we saw last year is the people who could print money declared war on the people who earn money. They basically said we are going to shut down your businesses, and we are going to suck up and take your market share or buy you out with money we print out of thin air. . . . We have no pandemic. What this is is an economic war.”

Read more …

 

 

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“If I prefer cats to dogs, it is because there are no police cats”
– Jean Cocteau

 

 

 

 

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Feb 222021
 
 February 22, 2021  Posted by at 10:22 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Thomas Abercrombie Beirut 1957

 

Biden’s $1.9-Trillion Big Spend Is A Big Bet On MMT (LAT)
Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal May Rise To Federal Level Of Criminal Offense (Fox)
Scalise Requests Data On NY Nursing Home COVID Deaths (SAC)
More New York Politicians Accuse Cuomo Of Threatening Behavior (F.)
Why Do Democrats Pretend Andrew Cuomo Did a Good Job With COVID? (Slate)
Psaki Declines To Say Whether Biden Still Views Cuomo As ‘Gold Standard’ (JTN)
The Battery of American Power Is Running Flat (SCF)
Boeing 777s Grounded Around World After Denver Engine Failure (R.)
Garland Expected To Become Biden’s AG (Hill)
Vitamin D: Doctors Will Further Erode Trust In Experts (Cook)
Canada To Follow Australia, Take On Facebook, Seek Payment For Content (NYP)
Disney Labels ‘The Muppet Show’ As ‘Offensive Content’ (RT)

 

 

It’s Andrew Cuomo day! Why is he still in office? Well, the Dems want the GOP to go after him, so they don’t have to. Biden won’t have anything to do with this hot potato, until and unless he can squeeze political capital out of it. Among lower level Dems, there are too many that Cuomo has collected dirt on – or that are afraid he did.

This may take a while therefore, everyone’s playing a waiting game. And the press drip-drip new stories about Cuomo every day, without condemning him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He’ll be the first to deny it.

Biden’s $1.9-Trillion Big Spend Is A Big Bet On MMT (LAT)

As Stephanie Kelton, former chief economist on the Senate Budget Committee, argues in her bestseller “The Deficit Myth,” the country’s real deficits are in healthcare, jobs, infrastructure, education and the climate. But rather than address those things by spending, writes Kelton, the government proceeds in terror of not “balancing the budget,” falsely believing that an unbalanced budget is the source of inflation. “We run around like a six-foot-tall guy who wanders around perpetually hunched over in a house with eight-foot ceilings because someone convinced him that if he tries to stand up tall he’ll suffer a massive head trauma,” she writes. Jason Furman, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Obama, concurs. “Given low interest rates, the United States actually has even more fiscal room to respond to the crisis today than it did in the financial crisis,” he told me. “We should use that room.”

If the Biden stimulus goes through, and inflation doesn’t skyrocket, the experiment may bear out a new monetary theory. It could be time at last for the nation to stand tall, and unfurl its economy to its full height. Of course, an experiment on such a big scale is unnerving, and Biden is facing substantial criticism for the $1.9-trillion plan. Olivier Blanchard, former chief economist at the IMF, tweeted earlier this month that such a stimulus would not just overheat the economy; it would incinerate it. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers issued a less hyperbolic warning but he brought up the fear: The policy would need to come with an aggressive fiscal policy to keep “inflationary pressures” at bay.

Kelton doesn’t completely disagree. On Twitter, she pointed out that the modern monetary theory she advocates requires Congress to stop talking about budgets and start talking entirely about mitigating inflation, if it comes, by other monetary policy means. You’re going to hear a lot more kvetching about government spending and, geez, $1.9 trillion. But remember, no one pushing Biden’s plan is trying to pave the way for a big, fat inflationary decade, filled with 1970s malaise, austerity measures and agony at the pump. They’re just willing to bet that a nearly $2-trillion stimulus, if the economy is monitored closely enough, will improve infrastructure, education, climate and healthcare, while making employers eager to find workers, which will push up wages and benefits. Which all sounds great. Especially when the checks show up.

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“New York’s willful failure to provide information may itself constitute a criminal offense—particularly if the intent was to thwart a federal investigation—..”

Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal May Rise To Federal Level Of Criminal Offense (Fox)

Legal experts are warning that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s alleged undercounting of nursing-home deaths amid the COVID-19 pandemic may rise to the level of a criminal offense. Cuomo has found himself at the center of a federal investigation into whether his administration sought to hide the true toll of the pandemic. The New York Post reported earlier this month that Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, told lawmakers the administration had withheld the numbers for fear of them being “used against us.” In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, John B. Daukas, who served as acting U.S. attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, wrote that DeRosa’s reported admissions weren’t “merely negligent, but intentional and perhaps criminal.”


Daukas said numerous federal statutes could apply, noting that Cuomo’s administration is accusing of both making false statements to the federal government and trying to thwart an investigation. “Even if it cannot be proved that the Cuomo administration knowingly provided false information to Justice and the (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), New York’s willful failure to provide information may itself constitute a criminal offense—particularly if the intent was to thwart a federal investigation—which, after all, is exactly what Ms. DeRosa reportedly said the administration did,” Daukas wrote. And on Saturday, Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett said DeRosa’s admission to lawmakers – if true – constitutes a potential obstruction of justice charge. Per the federal statute, Jarrett noted, if a government official falsifies or hides evidence to avoid triggering an investigation (or acts out of fear that such a probe may occur) that official is still culpable under the law of obstruction.”

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There’s a shredder working overtime somewhere…

Scalise Requests Data On NY Nursing Home COVID Deaths (SAC)

As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) faces increasing criticism over reports that his administration underreported coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes and a preliminary federal investigation underway, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (La.) renewed his call Friday for Cuomo to provide all data on such deaths, describing his administration’s alleged conduct as an “apparent obstruction of justice”. Scalise, the ranking member of Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, reiterated his call in a press release emailed Friday afternoon by the House Oversight Republicans. The press release cites the February 11 New York Post exposé reporting that Melissa DeRosa, a top Cuomo aide, had privately admitted to Democratic lawmakers that the administration withheld nursing home death data out of fear that it would be “used against us” by federal prosecutors.

On top of that, the release mentioned the report that Cuomo had allegedly threatened a Democratic assemblyman if he didn’t help cover up the nursing home deaths. “This apparent obstruction of justice necessitates an immediate and thorough investigation by Congress especially in light of the recent revelation that you and your Administration engaged in a cover-up aimed at concealing your culpability in New York State’s COVID-19 nursing home crisis,” Scalise wrote. “Recent reporting suggests that your attempts to cover-up the truth and conceal your culpability extend beyond obstruction to threats of retaliation toward anyone who might cross you. This behavior appears to be your modus operandi when anyone attempts to question your ‘leadership.’”

The press release goes on to mention that the subcommittee’s Republicans have repeatedly called for Cuomo to provide information regarding his since-rescinded directive ordering nursing homes and long-term care facilities to admit untested and contagious COVID-19 patients from hospitals. According to the press release, they first asked the governor in June 2020, and subsequent times in July 2020 and last month. [..] In a letter from Scalise to Cuomo attached to the press release, the Louisiana Republican touched on the aforementioned points but also requested transcribed interviews from DeRosa and New York Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker.

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Some are just too pissed off.

More New York Politicians Accuse Cuomo Of Threatening Behavior (F.)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a growing number of allegations he and his subordinates routinely threaten critics, with two New York politicians – a former Democratic congressional candidate and a Republican ex-rival of Cuomo’s – recounting to Forbes their hostile experiences with the governor’s staff. Nate McMurray, a two-time House candidate in Western New York, told Forbes that after criticizing Cuomo for plans to attend a Buffalo Bills game, he received a call from a Cuomo aide on New Years Eve that began “you motherf***er,” before devolving into threats like “you’re done in politics.” McMurray said he took down his tweet after the call because he was “scared” and looking for a job after his run, adding that he’s heard from people in both Cuomo’s staff and the New York legislature about a “pervasive culture of fear that has trickled down from his office.”

“We’ve all been yelled at by someone in that administration,” Marc Molinaro, a Republican county executive in upstate New York who ran against Cuomo in 2018, told Forbes, adding, “It’s unacceptable but how they operate.” Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, tweeted that she was “flooded” with stories from people who said they were “bullied, mistreated, or intimidated” by Cuomo, a statement echoed by former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan, who has previously accused him of harassment. Alessandra Biaggi, a Democratic state senator, told the New Yorker Cuomo once asked her to “tell me again how your grandfather’s career ended,” which she perceived as a threat given that her grandfather, Mario Biaggi, resigned over a corruption scandal – though a Cuomo spokesperson told the New Yorker it was about the “importance of integrity in government.”

Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean tweeted that she was told by someone close to the Cuomo family to “‘Watch my back,’” when she began speaking out against him prolifically over the coronavirus-related deaths of her parents, who were both nursing home residents.

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“..a serially underachieving chief executive playing three-card monte with dead bodies. At this point, Andrew Cuomo could probably shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.”

Why Do Democrats Pretend Andrew Cuomo Did a Good Job With COVID? (Slate)

Most concerningly, Cuomo’s administration admitted this month that it had been excluding nursing home residents who died of COVID but didn’t technically die on the grounds of their facilities from its official count of COVID-related nursing home deaths. Since many such residents died only after being hospitalized, this had the effect of making the state’s nursing home outbreak look thousands of deaths smaller than it actually was. Cuomo’s office appears to have compiled the more comprehensive, accurate data months ago but didn’t release it until the state’s attorney general—who is elected independently of the governor—issued a Jan. 28 report alleging that nursing home deaths had been undercounted.

(It does not look like the discrepancy could have resulted from innocent semantic misunderstandings: A representative of the data team that manages the AARP Public Policy Institute’s Nursing Home COVID-19 dashboard noted to Slate that “CDC guidance for the data we use in our dashboard specifically states that resident deaths are supposed to be counted regardless of the place of death,” while the managing editor of the COVID Tracking Project said its staff is “not currently aware of any other US state or territory that reports deaths associated with nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities in the way that New York did for most of the pandemic.”)

[..] His press conference performances notwithstanding, the facts and evidence show that Cuomo is not someone who cares much about facts and evidence. But his liberal supporters don’t care: A Siena College poll taken after the nursing home scandal broke found that 83 percent of New York Democrats still approve of Cuomo’s handling of COVID, with more than 80 percent also saying specifically that they approve of his work “communicating with the people of New York” and “providing accurate information.”

To hammer home the cognitive dissonance, only 54 percent said he’d done a good job “making public all data about COVID-related deaths of nursing home patients,” which suggests both that 54 percent of New York Democrats are full of it and that a significant portion of the rest of them know Cuomo is full of it but don’t care. To many voters, celebrating the idea of the competent blue-state governor is more important than reckoning with the reality of a serially underachieving chief executive playing three-card monte with dead bodies. At this point, Andrew Cuomo could probably shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.

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Hot potato.

Psaki Declines To Say Whether Biden Still Views Cuomo As ‘Gold Standard’ (JTN)

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during an interview on ABC’s This Week would not provide a direct answer about whether President Biden still considers New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo the “gold standard” on dealing with the coronavirus crisis. Journalist Jonathan Karl posed the question after playing a clip of Biden last year stating that Cuomo has performed “one hell of a job” and describing the governor as “sorta the gold standard.” Cuomo, who has come under fire for his handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic, has faced heightened scrutiny since his top aide Melissa DeRosa revealed the administration held back on answering questions from lawmakers due to concerns about a potential Justice Department investigation.


“Well John, we work with Governor Cuomo just like we work with governors across the country,” Psaki said, noting that Cuomo chairs the National Governors Association and has “an important role in ensuring that we’re coordinating closely in getting assistance out to people of his state and to states across the country.” She said that any matter of investigations would be in the hands of “the appropriate law enforcement authorities to determine how that path is going to move as we look forward. ”But we are going to continue to work with a range of governors, including of course Governor Cuomo because we think the people of New York, the people of states across the country need assistance, not just to get through the pandemic, but to get through this difficult economic time.”

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NATO and Pentagon are Siamese twins.

The Battery of American Power Is Running Flat (SCF)

Historically, the United States relies on NATO as a conduit to project its power and influence over Europe. This was its fundamental objective when NATO was first set up in 1949 at the start of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. In recent decades, NATO has assumed an ever-expanding purpose for American imperial power projection, encompassing not just Western Europe but all of Europe right up to Russia’s borders. NATO has become a vehicle for American hegemonic ambitions holding sway over the Balkans, Caucasia, North Africa and the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. For an organization that nominally originated for maintaining security in the North Atlantic, it sounds rather odd indeed to hear its spokesmen talk now about the need for NATO to confront China.

That oddly expanded global mission reflects the real but unspoken fact that NATO is all about serving American global ambitions. Former President Trump was too ignorant or obsessed with money-grubbing financial costs – “we’re being ripped off” he would repeatedly complain with regard to NATO – to realize the strategic bigger picture of what the alliance is really purposed to serve. Under a new man in the White House – an old-time establishment operative – there is seemingly a more consensual approach with allies. Nevertheless, underlying the liberal lexicon there is the same old mantra of hostility towards Russia and China. Lloyd Austin, the Pentagon chief, told European allies this week that there would have to be “more burden sharing” in order to confront the “threats” allegedly posed by Russia and China.

Biden continued the same theme of confronting Russia and China during his G7 and Munich conferences over the weekend. American hegemonic ambitions required to satisfy its corporate capitalism are dependent on a zero-sum geopolitics. The globe must divided into spheres of influence as in the earlier Cold War decades. There must be antagonism to thwart genuine cooperation which is anathema to American capitalism. Indeed, it can be said that the Cold War never actually ended when the Soviet Union dissolved more three decades ago. America’s imperialist ideology continued under new guises of “fighting terrorism”, “democracy promotion and nation building”, or more recently “great power competition” with Russia and China.

The bottom line is that NATO is more important than ever for enabling Washington’s global power ambitions given the demise of American capitalism and the rise of China and Eurasia. NATO provides a crucial political cover for what would otherwise be seen as naked American imperialism.

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Ha ha ha: “Boeing has recommended grounding..”

Yeah, Boeing’s a very responible corporate citizen…

Boeing 777s Grounded Around World After Denver Engine Failure (R.)

Boeing has recommended grounding more than 120 of its 777 jets worldwide following a catastrophic engine failure on a United Airlines plane in Denver. The company said on Sunday night that airlines using the same type of engine that scattered debris across Denver before making an emergency landing should suspend operations until inspections could be carried out. Flight 328 was flying from Denver International Airport to Honolulu with 231 passengers and 10 crew on board on Saturday when one engine failed shortly after take-off. Police in Broomfield, Colorado posted photos of pieces of debris from the plane near houses and other buildings. There were no reports of any injuries on the ground or among the passengers.

United Airlines said it was temporarily grounding all 24 of its Boeing 777s on active duty, and Japan’s aviation regulator swiftly followed suit, ordering Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) to cease flying 777s that use the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines while it considered whether to take additional measures. Japan said ANA operated 19 of that kind and JAL operated 13. The planes are also used by carriers in South Korea. A spokeswoman for South Korea’s transport ministry, speaking before Boeing’s statement, said it was monitoring the situation but had not yet taken any action. Korean Air Lines said it had 12 of the planes, half of them stored, and it would consult with the manufacturer and regulators and stop flying them to Japan for now.

Boeing said in total 69 of the planes were in service and 59 were in storage, at a time when airlines have grounded planes due to a plunge in demand associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The move comes after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency directive late on Sunday that required immediate or stepped-up inspections of planes similar to the one involved in the Denver incident. “We reviewed all available safety data following yesterday’s incident,” the FAA said in a statement from its administrator, Steve Dickson . “Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes. “This will likely mean that some airplanes will be removed from service”.

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What will happen to Durham and the Hunter files?

Garland Expected To Become Biden’s AG (Hill)

Nearly five years after Senate Republicans refused to grant Merrick Garland a hearing to be confirmed as a justice on the Supreme Court, the appeals court judge is getting his chance to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, this time as President Biden’s choice to be attorney general. In 2016, former President Obama nominated Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not allow a hearing on the nomination, citing the presidential election eight months later. Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the seat on the high court the following year, just more than two months after he was nominated by former President Trump.

Garland is one of the last major Cabinet appointments by Biden, and he is likely to secure confirmation with bipartisan support despite the former Republican blockade on his last nomination. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has said Garland’s experience “makes him well-suited to lead the Department of Justice, and I appreciated his commitment to keep politics out of the Justice Department.” “Unless I hear something new, I expect to support his nomination before the full Senate,” Cornyn added, according to The Associated Press. In opening remarks released Sunday, Garland pledged to address the threat of domestic extremism as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, specifically invoking the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“From 1995 to 1997, I supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the federal government,” Garland’s remarks read. “If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6 — a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.” Biden has pledged that the Justice Department during his tenure will be free of political influence or interference.

The Justice Department has asked for the resignations of all Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys, a somewhat typical move for incoming administrations. But Biden left in place the U.S. attorney in Delaware in charge of investigating the tax affairs of his son Hunter Biden. He is also allowing U.S. Attorney John Durham to continue in his role as a special prosecutor probing the origins of the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, a position appointed by former Attorney General William Barr. [..] Garland currently serves as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

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Jonnathan Cook picks the wrong angle. Vitamin D given to severely ill people is not the story.

Vitamin D: Doctors Will Further Erode Trust In Experts (Cook)

The role of Vitamin D on our general wellbeing and health has come under increasing scrutiny over the past two decades after it was discovered that it is the only vitamin for which there is a receptor in every cell in our body. Long before Covid, researchers had begun to understand that Vitamin D’s role in regulating our immune systems was chronically under-appreciated by most doctors. The medical profession was stuck in a paradigm from the 1950s in which Vitamin D’s use related chiefly to bone health. As a consequence, today’s recommended daily allowances – usually between 400IU and 800IU – were established long ago in accordance with the minimum needed for healthy bones rather than the maximum needed for a healthy immune system.

Today we know that many people in northern latitudes, especially the elderly, are deficient or severely deficient in Vitamin D, even those taking these low-level supplements. In fact, it would be true to say there is a global plague of Vitamin D deficiency, even in many sunny countries where people have lost the habit of spending time outdoors or shield themselves from the sun. The doctors and researchers who have been gradually piecing together the critically important role of Vitamin D are the medical equivalent of the dissident journalists who try to present a realistic picture of what goes on in Israel-Palestine.

Because Big Pharma can make no serious money from Vitamin D, researchers into the sun hormone have struggled to raise funds for their work and have mostly been denied corporate platforms from which to publicise the stunning findings they have made. Until recently, corporate medicine simply ignored most Vitamin D research, relegating it to the supposedly fringe science of “nutrition”, which is why most doctors know little or nothing about it. With the outbreak of Covid, when these Vitamin D studies should finally have come into their own, researchers found themselves shunted further into the margins. Just as journalists, politicians and human rights groups trying to tell you real things about Israel get labelled antisemites, anyone trying to tell you real things about Vitamin D gets labelled a crank, conspiracy theorist or Covid denier.

The desperate need for Covid treatments has not led to intensified interest in Vitamin D among most doctors, even though it is very cheap, almost completely safe even in large doses, and has been shown to help in damping down immune over-reaction of exactly the kind killing Covid patients. Rather, the opportunity for Big Pharma to develop a magic bullet to treat Covid has led to an intensified campaign to discredit Vitamin D research.

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When you threaten sovereign nations, others will notice.

Canada To Follow Australia, Take On Facebook, Seek Payment For Content (NYP)

Canada is poised to take on Facebook, following the example set by Australia, which began a war with the tech giant when the country’s publishers backed proposed legislation demanding payment for their content. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault condemned Facebook’s actions as “highly irresponsible” last week when the social media giant removed all Australian news content from its sites in retaliation. Guilbeault warned that Canada would be next in making sure Facebook paid for news content from Canadian publishers. Guilbeault is charged with drafting legislation in the next few months that would require Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay up. “Canada is at the forefront of this battle … we are really among the first group of countries around the world that are doing this,” Guilbeault told reporters.


Guilbeault said he recently met with government ministers from Australia, Finland, France and Germany to hammer out a common front with respect to Google and Facebook, the Globe and Mail reported.“It was the first ministerial meeting where we jointly started talking about what we want to do together regarding web giants, including fair compensation for media. We believe that there’s real strength in unity on that,” he said, adding that the growing coalition of countries opposed to Facebook and Google could soon reach 15. “I’m a bit curious to see what Facebook’s response will be. Is Facebook going to cut ties with Germany, with France, with Canada, with Australia and other countries that will join? At a certain point, Facebook’s position will be completely untenable.”

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But not for animal cruelty?!

Disney Labels ‘The Muppet Show’ As ‘Offensive Content’ (RT)

Five seasons of ‘The Muppet Show’ appeared on the Disney+ streaming service on Friday night but many viewers were shocked to discover that one of their childhood favorites is now considered “offensive content.” According to a warning from Disney, the show features “stereotypes” and “mistreatment of people or cultures.” “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now,” the roughly 300 billion-dollar corporate giant declared. “Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”


No references are made to what specifically Disney considers to be offensive about the show’s content, though it does depict minorities including Asians and people from the Middle East, as well as featuring a homeless character named “Oscar the grouch” who lives in a trash can. In season five, singer Johnny Cash also performs in front of a confederate flag. “Even the Muppets are now ‘offensive.’ Anyone watching ‘The Muppet Show’ on Disney+ will first see a warning against ‘offensive content.’ It’s time to pack up, seriously,”wrote one baffled Twitter user.

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 February 21, 2021  Posted by at 10:21 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  26 Responses »


Ceiling painting from the palace of Amenhotep III, New Kingdom ca. 1390–1353 B.C.

 

46 Die in Spain Nursing Home After First Pfizer Shot, Second Shots Halted (CB)
Public Health Authorities Blocking Effective Treatment (PCR)
Newsweek ‘Fact Check’ Claims India Vaccine Ban “Mostly False” (SN)
Russia Registers Third Domestically-Created Vaccine Against Covid-19 (RT)
White House ‘Working Directly’ With Big Tech To Censor ‘Vaccine Hesitancy’ (RT)
Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More (Greenwald)
Nursing Home Industry Avoids Scrutiny For Covid-19 Deaths With Lobbying (IC)
For Albany’s Biggest Bully, The Hits Keep Coming (TU)
Lincoln Project Implosion Has Derailed Plan For A Media Empire (VF)
Reuters, BBC, Bellingcat Part Of Covert UK Programs To “Weaken Russia” (GZ)
Texas Blackouts Spark First Lawsuit; AG Vows Probe (ZH)
The Future Of Money Is Gold (Macleod)
Assange’s Lawyers Consider a Cross Appeal (Mercouris)

 

 

 

 

Picked this up. Can’t seem to be able to double check it.

46 Die in Spain Nursing Home After First Pfizer Shot, Second Shots Halted (CB)

The Nuestra Señora del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary) nursing home is reeling due to mass deaths after mRNA inoculations. All residents and workers at the facility received the first dose of Pfizer mRNA in early January, according to Spain mainstream media outlet ABC de Sevilla. Most residents became extremely ill shortly after the shots. It is believed many came down with COVID-19, despite being “vaccinated against it.” The Andalusian Health Service reported that at least 46 residents have died since January. For perspective, Our Lady has a maximum capacity of 145 residents. The Junta de Andalucía (regional government) intervened in early February to curtail the death count. But people continued dying. Spain’s Ministry of Health is now in charge of mitigation.


The Ministry said in a statement: “In view of the imminent risk to public health, and in particular for the [residents] and workers of this center, as the current protocol for disinfection and isolation of positive cases cannot be guaranteed.” The situation remains dire, as at least 28 residents and 12 staff members were COVID-19 positive last week. Health officials halted all further mRNA shots as a result. The Federation of Public Services criticized Our Lady for not taking action sooner. The workers’ union said the response was inadequate after eight people died by January 18. The death count grew to 30 by January 28. Spain is continually in the news related to mRNA shots. Health Minister Salvador Illa said in December that his agency is keeping a database of all citizens who refuse the mRNA. He said the list will be shared with all EU members.

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“What reason is there for people in any country to have confidence in their government and public health authorities?”

Public Health Authorities Blocking Effective Treatment (PCR)

[..] the vaccines themselves have not undergone long-run testing, and many serious reactions and more than 1,000 deaths are associated with the vaccinations. Some scientists are concerned that the untested technology in some of the vaccines will have adverse effects on the immune system and result in a jump in the overall death rate. However, we look at it, we are flying at least partly blind. Why as there is a far superior way to proceed? First, begin with prevention. Vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and NAC are effective and inexpensive immune boosters that ward off infection and reduce the severity of infection. Then turn to cures. Both the HCQ/zinc/antibiotic treatment and the Ivermectin/zinc/antibiotic treatment are proven, safe, and inexpensive.

Yet the evidence has been kept from the public. Even the most knowledgeable experts are deplatformed when they say anything that is in conflict with the vaccination/lockdown agenda. The media are complicit in keeping the public uninformed. Why is this? How does information suppression help deal with an alleged world pandemic? Clearly, it does not help. I have reported many times on the effectiveness of HCQ/zinc. You can use the search feature on this website to locate my reports. Ivermectin has proven to be even more effective than HCQ. Dr. Marc Wathelet, a leading virologist, has brought the evidence for Ivermectin before the government of Belgium. There is no justifiable reason for not using these cures, and there is no justifiable reason for not initiating a prevention program based on supplements, diet, and a more healthy life style.

The failure of governments and health authorities to employ these proven means amounts to premeditated mass murder. The reason people have died from Covid is the refusal to treat and to prevent with known effective means. Instead, governments and health authorities have interfered with doctors and prevented treatment with HCQ and Ivermectin, while using the presstitutes to brainwash the public that these effective and safe treatments are dangerous. The massive disinformation campaign waged against effective prevention and treatment does not come from ignorance and incompetence of public authorities. It comes from the agendas that Covid is being used to advance, agendas whose toll in human life and suffering is unimportant to those whose agendas are being served. What reason is there for people in any country to have confidence in their government and public health authorities?

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“The Newsweek fact check itself is “mostly false.” The fact checkers have been fact checked.”

Newsweek ‘Fact Check’ Claims India Vaccine Ban “Mostly False” (SN)

Newsweek published a “fact check” which labeled claims that India had banned the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as “mostly false” despite admitting in the article that India has in fact temporarily banned the vaccine. Last week, discussion around the issue intensified after it was revealed that Indian health authorities had refused to give permission for the vaccine to be distributed. “On February 3, 2021, India’s Subject Expert Committee (SEC), a panel that advises the nation’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), a national regulatory body focused on pharmaceuticals and devices, ruled that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should not be recommended for an EUA in the country “at this stage,” reports Newsweek.

The report quotes India’s Subject Expert Committee (SEC), which ruled, “The committee noted that incidents of palsy, anaphylaxis and other SAE’s have been reported during post marketing and the causality of the events with the vaccine is being investigated. Further, the firm has not proposed any plan to generate safety and immunogenicity data in Indian population.” In response, after the meeting with the regulator, Pfizer Inc. withdrew its application for the vaccine’s use in India. The Newsweek report admits all this, including but then asserts that that the claim India banned the vaccine is “mostly false.”Indian authorities refused to allow the vaccine to be distributed in India. That’s also known as a “ban”. The ban might be lifted at a future date, but it’s a ban nonetheless.

For Newsweek to claim that this is “mostly false” is completely erroneous. The Newsweek fact check itself is “mostly false.” The fact checkers have been fact checked.

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Three different techniques.

Russia Registers Third Domestically-Created Vaccine Against Covid-19 (RT)

A third Covid-19 vaccine has been registered in Russia, the country’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced on Saturday morning. The drug, dubbed CoviVac, has been developed by the Chumakov Scientific Center in Moscow. The new formula, which has yet to complete phase three trials, uses the most traditional technology out of all of the Russian-made anti-coronavirus solutions. CoviVac is a whole virus vaccine that contains either weakened or deactivated strains of the infection, cultivated specifically for its production. Its developers have previously said that the vast majority of vaccines worldwide have been built on this technology and using it against the Covid-19 pandemic was a viable option.

The pilot batch of 120,000 doses is expected to become available for Russia’s public in mid-March, Mishustin stated. The developers are also seeking to export the vaccine to other countries, following in the footsteps of the Gamaleya Center’s pioneering Sputnik V. The virus sample used to create the vaccine was collected from a Covid-19 patient hospitalized in the Moscow region, the head of Chumakov Center, Aidar Ishmukhametov, revealed back in December. The sample turned out to be both bold and ‘cooperative’ enough to thrive in the laboratory, providing scientists with the material needed to produce the vaccine.

The first coronavirus vaccine registered by Russia, Sputnik V, relies on a unique two-vector human adenovirus technology. Basically, coronavirus particles are inserted into a weakened adenovirus, which is a genetically modified flu virus that cannot reproduce in the human body. It then triggers the required immunity reaction. Sputnik V uses two different adenoviral vectors for the first and second dose and is more effective defense compared to other vaccines that use the same vector for both shots. The second jab, the EpiVacCorona developed by the Siberia-based Vector Institute, uses synthesized particles of the virus instead. They are put into the human body by carrier proteins. Unlike some foreign competitors, all the Russian-made vaccines, including the brand new CoviVac, can be stored in regular refrigerators, which greatly facilitates the logistics and distribution of the shots.

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There is only one religion.

White House ‘Working Directly’ With Big Tech To Censor ‘Vaccine Hesitancy’ (RT)

Joe Biden’s administration is reportedly working directly with Silicon Valley giants to root out ‘misinformation and disinformation’ that hampers US vaccination efforts, indicating hands-on involvement in Big Tech censorship. “Disinformation that causes vaccine hesitancy is going to be a huge obstacle to getting everyone vaccinated and there are no larger players in that than the social media platforms,” a source with direct knowledge about the cooperation told Reuters. “We are talking to them… so they understand the importance of misinformation and disinformation and how they can get rid of it quickly.” The White House previously acknowledged working with tech giants like Facebook and Google on the issue, but direct engagement was not confirmed, Reuters said.


The Biden administration wants digital platforms to suppress content that can result in events like the anti-vaccination protest at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in late January, the source said. The arena has been repurposed as a drive-in mass vaccination site, one of the largest in the US, after being used for Covid-19 testing since May. Police shut it down for about an hour on January 30, after around 50 protesters gathered at the entrance, decrying a “Covid scam” and demanding an end to lockdown in California. The event went off peacefully and was rebuked by state officials, including Governor Gavin Newsom – whom the protesters wanted to be recalled, according to one of the signs they carried.

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“..Congress violates the First Amendment when it attempts to require private companies to impose viewpoint-based speech restrictions which the government itself would be constitutionally barred from imposing.”

Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More (Greenwald)

For the third time in less than five months, the U.S. Congress has summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them, with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content from their platforms. On March 25, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will interrogate Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebooks’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai at a hearing which the Committee announced will focus “on misinformation and disinformation plaguing online platforms.” The Committee’s Chair, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the two Chairs of the Subcommittees holding the hearings, Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), said in a joint statement that the impetus was “falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccine” and “debunked claims of election fraud.”

They argued that “these online platforms have allowed misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety,” adding: “This hearing will continue the Committee’s work of holding online platforms accountable for the growing rise of misinformation and disinformation.” House Democrats have made no secret of their ultimate goal with this hearing: to exert control over the content on these online platforms. “Industry self-regulation has failed,” they said, and therefore “we must begin the work of changing incentives driving social media companies to allow and even promote misinformation and disinformation.” In other words, they intend to use state power to influence and coerce these companies to change which content they do and do not allow to be published.

I’ve written and spoken at length over the past several years about the dangers of vesting the power in the state, or in tech monopolies, to determine what is true and false, or what constitutes permissible opinion and what does not. I will not repeat those points here. Instead, the key point raised by these last threats from House Democrats is an often-overlooked one: while the First Amendment does not apply to voluntary choices made by a private company about what speech to allow or prohibit, it does bar the U.S. Government from coercing or threatening such companies to censor. In other words, Congress violates the First Amendment when it attempts to require private companies to impose viewpoint-based speech restrictions which the government itself would be constitutionally barred from imposing.

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Who thinks there will be a thorough probe?

Nursing Home Industry Avoids Scrutiny For Covid-19 Deaths With Lobbying (IC)

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, as the country was being hit by the first wave of the deadly outbreak, New York state, under the leadership Gov. Andrew Cuomo, issued an order directing over 9,000 coronavirus-positive patients be discharged from hospitals into nursing homes. The Cuomo administration claimed that the order was necessary due to the risk of hospitals becoming overwhelmed by Covid-19. In fact, nursing homes tend to have much less effective infection control policies than hospitals, and the order, which likely contributed enormously to the spread of Covid-19 in nursing homes, was reversed in May.

In the meantime, though, the Cuomo administration moved to further protect nursing homes. In April, New York became one of the first states to implement liability relief for nursing home operators, after aggressive lobbying and years of donations from the hospital and nursing home industries. Besides New York, at least 27 other states have implemented liability protections for nursing homes.

Across the country, 161,000 nursing home and other long-term care residents have died from Covid-19, an astonishing 36 percent of the total coronavirus deaths in the U.S., and there have been over 1.2 million cases in nursing homes, meaning about half of all nursing home residents contracted the virus. The Government Accountability Office released a report in May 2020 titled “Infection Control Deficiencies Were Widespread and Persistent in Nursing Homes Prior to COVID-19 Pandemic.” And study after study has shown a connection between nursing home staffing and Covid-19 deaths, from the New York Attorney General’s office to researchers at the University of Chicago to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

[..[ The industry, with its powerful lobby, has escaped significant scrutiny, however. Just two nursing home executives have been indicted for Covid-19 deaths, while the industry showered over $10 million on candidates and political action committees in 2020, according to data collected by the National Institute on Money in Politics. Congress has held just one hearing on Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes, in the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, chaired by progressive Rep. Lloyd Doggett.

And in the CARES Act, passed in March 2020, Congress gave the industry $10 billion through the Provider Relief Fund — with no strings attached for quality or staffing — as the Trump administration reduced nursing home inspections and fines. As a result, “there are some nursing home chains where the chain had more profits in 2020 than in 2019,” said Toby Edelman, an attorney and nursing home resident advocate with the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

Read more …

“You haven’t seen my wrath.” Who, other than raging megalomaniacs, talks that way? Why do we insist on electing such miserable people to positions of power?”

For Albany’s Biggest Bully, The Hits Keep Coming (TU)

Andrew Cuomo’s team insists the governor didn’t threaten Ron Kim, the Queens assemblyman who has been a persistent and effective critic of the governor’s nursing home policies. But nobody who follows state government heard Kim’s story and said, “Gee, that doesn’t sound like Andrew Cuomo.” The alleged threat to “destroy” Kim sounds exactly like the governor. It’s who he is. For a decade, until the pandemic temporarily elevated his reputation, Cuomo was Albany’s leading bully, the secretive, scheming, petty narcissist who used fear and threats to subdue friends and opponents alike. Some perhaps believed such distasteful pugilism was needed to wrestle New York’s anarchic government under control. If nothing else, Cuomo seemed competent. He was reelected, twice, without breaking a sweat.

But now, suddenly, everything is crashing down around him. The searing report released at the end of January by Attorney General Letitia James, the one that castigated the governor for dramatically undercounting nursing home deaths, was a watershed, perhaps because James had been considered a Cuomo ally. It’s been a drumbeat of bad news for the governor ever since. The blows keep coming. You probably know that a state judge said the Cuomo administration illegally ignored Freedom of Information Law requests for truthful nursing home information. You’re aware of the firestorm that erupted when a top Cuomo aide blamed a federal inquiry for the administration’s stonewall.

This week, we learned the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn have launched a new probe into the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic. Lawmakers, increasingly frustrated by the administration’s intense gaslighting, are calling for investigations and threatening to strip the governor’s pandemic power. There’s even impeachment talk. So, Cuomo was in real trouble even before he spent 20 minutes angrily assailing Kim at a press conference Wednesday, an assault that led the assemblyman to talk publicly about frightening threats from a raging governor. I will destroy you!” Cuomo screamed, according to Kim. “You haven’t seen my wrath.” Who, other than raging megalomaniacs, talks that way? Why do we insist on electing such miserable people to positions of power? Why do they get away with behavior that would get anyone else fired?

Read more …

Why does this make me think of Epstein?

Lincoln Project Implosion Has Derailed Plan For A Media Empire (VF)

That executives at the organization—including Steve Schmidt—may have known about allegations against Weaver before they were made public. (Schmidt has denied prior knowledge of the allegations. In a statement, the Lincoln Project said it had been “betrayed and deceived” by Weaver.) If true, the stories, which have blasted through the group with bombshell force, represent a spectacular and horrific denouement. In response, many of the Lincoln Project’s members have fallen back on their favorite mantra: Donald Trump is worse. “You know who would be the happiest man in the world if he knew he’d never have to deal with [Lincoln Project] again? Donald Trump,” tweeted cofounder Stuart Stevens last week. “Pick a side. I’m with [Lincoln Project].” He then urged readers to stand with the group.

“Most effective Super PAC in US history,” Stevens wrote. (In fact, though the Lincoln Project’s viral attack ads racked up millions of views, the videos seemingly didn’t do much to accomplish their stated goal of swaying the GOP electorate. Trump received a larger share of the Republican vote nationally in 2020 than he did in 2016.) Others appeared resigned. “Just shut it down already,” wrote Kurt Bardella, who departed from his position as a senior adviser amid the whirlwind of bad press. George Conway, another since-departed cofounder, likewise tweeted that, at this point, shuttering the PAC is the “right” move. On Thursday, the Lincoln Project announced the formation of a “transition advisory committee” that will support the internal investigation of Weaver, as well as a “Stewardship Report” to outline its finances.

As the organization flounders, its plans for the future have been thrown into doubt. The group’s stars had planned to work for Israeli prime minister hopeful Gideon Sa’ar in his bid against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an election that will be held in March. Sa’ar’s campaign had brought on the Lincoln Project’s Schmidt, Reed Galen, Stevens, and Rick Wilson a few weeks ago in the hopes that the group’s aggressive attack ads would work against Netanyahu, but their relationship has since been dissolved, according to a Tuesday report in the Jerusalem Post. Just before the 2020 election, Axios reported that the Lincoln Project had potential plans for a sprawling media organization—Lincoln Media—and had been approached by “several media and entertainment companies and podcast platforms looking to launch franchises from its brand.”

Those talks reportedly included interest from a TV studio in developing a fiction series; queries from networks about streaming the Lincoln Project’s proprietary show, LPTV; and potentially creating a nonfiction film. The organization had planned to launch a revamped version of its podcast, telling Axios it would be “unveiling new episodes imminently” and expanding its LPTV programming “in the coming weeks.” Those plans are now, presumably, in limbo.

Read more …

The incompetence is baffling.

Reuters, BBC, Bellingcat Part Of Covert UK Programs To “Weaken Russia” (GZ)

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have sponsored Reuters and the BBC to conduct a series of covert programs aimed at promoting regime change inside Russia and undermining its government across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to a series of leaked documents. The leaked materials show the Thomson Reuters Foundation and BBC Media Action participating in a covert information warfare campaign aimed at countering Russia. Working through a shadowy department within the UK FCO known as the Counter Disinformation & Media Development (CDMD), the media organizations operated alongside a collection of intelligence contractors in a secret entity known simply as “the Consortium.”

Through training programs of Russian journalists overseen by Reuters, the British Foreign Office sought to produce an “attitudinal change in the participants,” promoting a “positive impact” on their “perception of the UK.” “These revelations show that when MPs were railing about Russia, British agents were using the BBC and Reuters to deploy precisely the same tactics that politicians and media commentators were accusing Russia of using,” Chris Williamson, a former UK Labour MP who attempted to apply public scrutiny to the CDMD’s covert activities and was stonewalled on national security grounds, told The Grayzone. “The BBC and Reuters portray themselves as an unimpeachable, impartial, and authoritative source of world news,” Williamson continued, “but both are now hugely compromised by these disclosures. Double standards like this just bring establishment politicians and corporate media hacks into further disrepute.”

[..] The Grayzone reported in October 2020 on leaked materials released by Anonymous which exposed a massive propaganda campaign funded by the UK FCO to cultivate support for regime change in Syria. Soon after, the Foreign Office claimed its computer systems had been penetrated by hackers, thus confirming their authenticity. The new leaks illustrate in alarming detail how Reuters and the BBC – two of the largest and most distinguished news organizations in the world – attempted to answer the British foreign ministry’s call for help in improving its “ability to respond and to promote our message across Russia,” and to “counter the Russian government’s narrative.” Among the UK FCO’s stated goals, according to the director of the CDMD, was to “weaken the Russian State’s influence on its near neighbours.”

[..] The UK FCO projects were carried out covertly, and in partnership with purportedly independent, high-profile online media outfits including Bellingcat, Meduza, and the Pussy Riot-founded Mediazona. Bellingcat’s participation apparently included a UK FCO intervention in North Macedonia’s 2019 elections on behalf of the pro-NATO candidate.

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Who will be sued?

Texas Blackouts Spark First Lawsuit; AG Vows Probe (ZH)

A Corpus Christi man has accused the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the state’s primary electric grid, of ignoring repeated warnings that the state’s electric power infrastructure had weaknesses, according to a new lawsuit. In a statement by the Dallas law firm which filed the suit, ERCOT and American Electric Power utility are also accused of causing property damage and business interruptions as last week’s cold snap shattered water pipes and caused widespread power outages to millions of Texans, according to NBCDFW. “This cold weather event and its effects on the Texas energy grid were neither unprecedented, nor unexpected, nor unforeseen,” states the lawsuit, filed by Donald McCarley.

“In fact, similar cold weather events in 1989 and 2011 led to exactly the same type of rolling blackouts that have affected and continue to affect Texas residents and businesses.” The lawsuit also cites a clause in the Texas Constitution which holds that “no person’s property shall be taken, damaged or destroyed for or applied to public use without adequate compensation being made.” “The rolling blackouts ordered by Defendant ERCOT took, damaged, or destroyed Plaintiff’s property without adequate compensation,” the suit claims. “The lawsuit filed Friday in a Nueces County court at law in Corpus Christi alleges the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, manager of the state’s main electric grid, ignored repeated warnings of weaknesses in the state’s electric power infrastructure.” -NBCDFW

“The resulting widespread property damage from blackouts was caused by their negligence and gross negligence. In addition, the disruptions rendered private property unusable and amounted to an illegal `taking’ of private property by the government,” the law firm said in a statement. The lawsuit also claims that utility companies should have winterized their plants and increased generation to meet skyrocketing demand, “but consciously chose not to do so.”

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Not everyone will agree, but this is intriguing: “.. when gold is the basis of all transaction settlements, economies become self-regulating and self-correcting..”

The Future Of Money Is Gold (Macleod)

As a circulating medium, gold and its properly established and exchangeable substitutes have proved to be the most effective lubricant for economic progress. It behoves us to take a moment to understand why this is the case, and why its circulation as money was central to the rapid and unprecedented improvement in living standards in the nineteenth century. People in a community, town, city or even a nation set their own monetary requirements and the level of their trade. Let us assume that in doing so, the general price level differs from that of a neighbouring population. The conditions then exist for an arbitrage to take place, whereby gold payments will flow to the community with the lower prices when economic actors in the community with higher prices take advantage of them.

Price differentials will tend to close to a level that reflects transaction and transport costs, so the purchasing power of gold in the two communities converge. This understanding in classical economics is the basis behind purchasing power parity theory. Additionally, savings in gold will seek out the higher investment returns between the two centres. It is likely that the centre with lower costs will offer the greater attraction to capital flows, but this is less certain. However, the quantities of gold held as savings are always significantly less than the quantities spent in consumption in an economy that uses monetary capital efficiently. The arbitrage takes place both through the trade of goods and also by the deployment of capital exploiting interest rate and opportunity differentials, so that a convergence in both prices and interest rates is achieved.

And what applies between two communities using gold as money applies between them all, so that across all unfettered, free market economies which maximise the benefits of the division of labour, the benefits of gold as money are enjoyed by all. It is therefore easy to see that in a commercial world with effective transport and communications, whatever the local preferences for holding money relative to goods may be, multi-centre arbitrage tends to produce a common price level and a common level for interest rates. These adjustment factors are conducive to trade, not only between communities but between nations. And trade priced and settled in gold is, all else being equal, far more efficient than when individual fiat currencies are involved, because with gold as the common money national boundaries are no longer barriers to payments and trade is truly global.

Given gold’s ubiquity as money, the effect of localised changes in general preferences for holding gold relative to goods can be regarded as minimised. An additional but unrelated factor is the inflation of above-ground stocks of gold through mine supply, but this is broadly offset by population growth. And a substantial element of gold usage is non-monetary, mainly for jewellery, which becomes a flexible source of monetary gold if markets demand it. Technological innovation and improvement in production methods as well as competition all tend in the long run to reduce the general price level of goods and services measured in gold. So, while there is little change in the general level of prices from the money side, there can be a significant reduction in prices over long periods of time from the goods side.

The effect is to enhance the purchasing power of savings, leading to stable, low interest rates and improved living standards for all but the indolent. In summary, when gold is the basis of all transaction settlements, economies become self-regulating and self-correcting. Successful economic activity is rewarded with profits and the opportunity to accumulate wealth. In every respect, government intervention and regulation results in the opposite.

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“If Assange’s lawyers do decide to bring a cross appeal, then the High Court hearing of that and the U.S. appeal will acquire epochal importance.”

Assange’s Lawyers Consider a Cross Appeal (Mercouris)

Julian Assange’s lawyers are considering bringing a cross appeal to the High Court in London disputing parts of District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s Jan. 4 judgment not to extradite Assange to the United States, according to a report by journalist Tareq Haddad. Baraitser refused the U.S. request on narrow grounds, saying Assange’s extradition would put his life and health at risk. But Baraitser sided with the U.S. on every other point of law and fact, making it clear that in the absence of the life and health issues she would have granted the U.S. request. That opens the way for the U.S. government to seek the extradition of other persons, including journalists, who do the same things as Assange did, but who cannot rely on the same life and health issues.

It also means that if the U.S. wins the appeal it filed last Friday in High Court it can try Assange in the U.S. on the Espionage Act charges that went unchallenged by Baraitser. If Assange’s lawyers counter the U.S. appeal with one of their own in the High Court against Baraitser’s upholding of the espionage charges, it would be heard simultaneously with the U.S. appeal. Stella Moris, Assange’s partner, has written that Assange’s lawyers are indeed considering a cross appeal: “The next step in the legal case is that Julian’s legal team will respond to the US grounds for appeal. Julian’s lawyers are hard at work. Julian’s team has asked the High Court to give them more time to consider whether to lodge a cross appeal in order to challenge parts of the ruling where the magistrate did not side with Julian and the press freedom arguments. A cross appeal would provide an opportunity to clear Julian’s name properly.

Although Julian won at the Magistrates’ Court, the magistrate did not side with him on the wider public interest arguments. We wanted a U.K. court to properly quash the extradition and refute the other grounds too. We wanted a finding that the extradition is an attempt to criminalise journalism, not just in the U.S. but in the U.K. and the rest of the world as well; and that the decision to indict Julian was a political act, a violation of the treaty, a violation of his human rights and an abuse of process. Julian’s extradition team is considering all these issues, and whether they can be cross-appealed.”

[..] One should be cautious about the idea of a cross appeal to the High Court on Assange’s behalf. Despite the fact that Baraitser sided with the U.S. government on most of the contentious issues of law and fact in the case, she did in the end refuse the U.S. government’s request for Assange’s extradition. The normal practice in an appeal is to uphold a judgment made in one’s favour, not to challenge it by bringing a cross appeal, which could serve to undermine it. That often means going along with things in the judgment with which one is unhappy.

There is however nothing normal about Assange’s case. As Moris’ comments show, one has to be aware, perhaps more than in almost any other case, of the overriding and even transcendent issues of media freedom and human rights that arise. It may be that Assange’s lawyers will decide that Ainsworth’s comments to the House of Commons in 2003; Davis’s recent comments about parliament’s intentions at the time when the 2003 Extradition Act was passed into law; and any other points of law or fact that carry sufficient weight, justify bringing a cross appeal, despite the attendant risks. If Assange’s lawyers do decide to bring a cross appeal, then the High Court hearing of that and the U.S. appeal will acquire epochal importance.

Assange Facebook

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 202021
 
 February 20, 2021  Posted by at 10:05 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Edward Hopper Gloucester Beach, Bass Rocks 1924

 

Infection Down 75% After First Pfizer Shot (JPost)
We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April (Makary)
Democrats Don’t Believe In Returning To ‘Normal‘ (WE)
Two Variants Have Merged Into Heavily Mutated Coronavirus (New Scientist)
Ivermectin Reduces Length Of COVID-19 Infection (JPost)
German Study: Laboratory Accident Most Likely Cause of COVID Pandemic (SPR)
Johnson & Johnson Submits Its Single-Shot Covid Vaccine To WHO (RT)
Fauci: When I Publicly Disagreed With Trump He Let Terrible Things Happen (T.)
Pfizer-BioNTech Tried To Gouge The EU With $65 Vaccine Doses (RT)
Covid or No Covid (Kunstler)
Swiss To Vote In Referendum On Government’s Covid Restrictions (FT)
China Steps Up Online Controls With New Rule For Bloggers (AP)
The Sound and the Fury of Andrew Cuomo (New Yorker)
The Texas Freeze is a Catastrophe of the Free Market (Galbraith)

 

 

 

 

Mike Ryan

 

 

Saw something in a Dutch paper. Can’t find an English version, and it has no sources. So a Google translate.

This is the first time I see a claim that the Pfizer vaccine prevents the virus from spreading, something the company itself, until recently, said it had no proof for.

What I did find in an AFP article is this, which sort of seems to deny the claim: “Gili Regev-Yochay, co-author of the study [..] said that despite the vaccine being “amazingly effective”, scientists are still studying whether fully vaccinated people can transmit the virus to others. “That is the big, big, question. We are working on it. This is not on this paper and I hope we will have some good news soon..”

The Dutch bit: “People vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are much less likely to transmit the coronavirus. That means the vaccines may not only prevent people from getting sick, but also make them much less likely to infect others, two Israeli studies show. The virus would be 89.4 percent less transmissible in vaccinated people without symptoms. In patients who do have symptoms, that percentage is even higher, at 93.7.


This is stated in a data analysis by Pfizer and the Israeli Ministry of Health.” A separate study also yielded good news. Researchers from the Sheba Medical Center concluded that 7,214 vaccinated hospital workers were much less likely to transmit the virus after 15 to 28 days. This is an 85 percent reduction in infected people with symptoms.

 

Infection Down 75% After First Pfizer Shot (JPost)

Data released by Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer on Friday showed that coronavirus infections were reduced by 75% after the first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. The data, published in the peer-reviewed Lancet medical journal, centered on a study of around 9,000 Sheba healthcare workers, around 7,000 of which received their first dose in January. Sheba’s team found a 75% decrease in all infections and an 85% reduction in symptomatic infections between 15-28 days after vaccination. According to Prof. Gili Regev-Yochay, director of the hospital’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, only 170 people became infected during the two week period. Of those who contracted the virus, 99 showed symptoms. Eighty-nine of the sick were unvaccinated.

“In real life, the data looks at least as good as in the clinical trials,” Regev-Yochay said. “The first dose is even more effective than we thought.” She said the hospital is now completing research on the impact of the second dose, which she said researchers still believe is essential. However, she noted that the research supports the British government’s decision to spread out the time between the first and second shots of the vaccine in order to inoculate more people. “This is the first study assessing effectiveness of a single vaccine dose in real life conditions and shows early effectiveness, even before the second dose was administered,” said Prof. Eyal Leshem, director of Sheba’s Travel & Tropical Medicine department.

Regev-Yochay noted that there was at least one limitation on the data – that hospital workers tend to be under the age of 65 and healthier than the rest of the population, so it is possible that less people got sick or showed symptoms for that reason.

Read more …

“Contingency planning for an open economy by April can deliver hope to those in despair and to those who have made large personal sacrifices.”

We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April (Makary)

Johns Hopkins surgeon, Dr. Marty Makary, penned an Op-ed in the WSJ this morning saying that we will have herd immunity by April. “Experts should level with the public about the good news…” exclaims Makary (who is likely on the verge of getting canceled), as he cites the “miracle” 77% drop in cases over the past 6 weeks and that testing likely only captured about 10% – 25% of infections; he extrapolates that to saying 55% of Americans have natural immunity (and add to that the 15% of Americans that have been vaccinated). Additionally, he cites Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, who believes that 250mm doses of the vaccine will have be delivered to 150mm people by the end of March.

“There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.”[..] “…the consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since Jan. 8 can be explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.”

[..] “Some medical experts privately agreed with my prediction that there may be very little Covid-19 by April but suggested that I not to talk publicly about herd immunity because people might become complacent and fail to take precautions or might decline the vaccine. But scientists shouldn’t try to manipulate the public by hiding the truth. As we encourage everyone to get a vaccine, we also need to reopen schools and society to limit the damage of closures and prolonged isolation. Contingency planning for an open economy by April can deliver hope to those in despair and to those who have made large personal sacrifices.”

Read more …

More on Dr. Makary.

Democrats Don’t Believe In Returning To ‘Normal‘ (WE)

Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. Marty Makary has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, asserting with confidence that the U.S. population will have achieved herd immunity against the coronavirus by April “allowing Americans to resume normal life.” That’s a nice thought, but not so fast, Makary. You’re not under the impression that even when we’re at an astonishingly low rate of infection that life will, on its own will, default to what it was pre-2020, are you? Don’t be so naive. The people calling the shots have made no such promises. They have, in fact, done the opposite. When is the last time anyone has heard the sainted Dr. Anthony Fauci or President Biden or anyone at all in the Democratic Party say anything about resuming “normal life.”? I’ll wait.

Just last month, Fauci said that even with as much as 85% of the population vaccinated by the end of the summer, we could still only expect a “degree of normality.” He said that, of course, in a tone that suggested we should be grateful, but it’s what he said. Biden, just this week, made clear that “normal” isn’t part of his vocabulary. During a town hall-style event, he said that the Christmas season might bring “a very different circumstance, God willing, than we are today.” Once we’re all vaccinated, aren’t you looking forward to our “very different circumstance”? Flat-lining new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 is the immediate goal for everyone, but everyone needs to understand that Democrats have some other things in mind for the pandemic as well.

In Washington, D.C., where I live, we’ve been averaging something like three deaths per day between November and now. The typical person who succumbs to the virus is usually in his mid-70s to mid-80s. New cases are down close to 40% over the last two weeks. And for that, we remain in severe lockdown. Indoor capacity at restaurants, the owners of which have started constructing permanent outdoor seating structures, is limited to 25%. All of our museums are indefinitely closed. There are no clubs, movie theaters, or concert venues in operation. Anyone who believes it’s all going to come roaring back in April is kidding themselves. This is how Democrats believe we should live. They believe it’s better for the planet, but don’t worry, trust them to send you a monthly check to tide you over.

Herd immunity won’t get us back to normal. It will be people who decide they’ll no longer tolerate lockdowns.

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“it carries a mutation making it resistant to some antibodies..”

Two Variants Have Merged Into Heavily Mutated Coronavirus (New Scientist)

Two variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes covid-19 have combined their genomes to form a heavily mutated hybrid version of the virus. The “recombination” event was discovered in a virus sample in California, provoking warnings that we may be poised to enter a new phase of the pandemic. The hybrid virus is the result of recombination of the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant discovered in the UK and the B.1.429 variant that originated in California and which may be responsible for a recent wave of cases in Los Angeles because it carries a mutation making it resistant to some antibodies.

The recombinant was discovered by Bette Korber at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who told a meeting organised by the New York Academy of Sciences on 2 February that she had seen “pretty clear” evidence of it in her database of US viral genomes. If confirmed, the recombinant would be the first to be detected in this pandemic. In December and January, two research groups independently reported that they hadn’t seen any evidence of recombination, even though it has long been expected as it is common in coronaviruses. Unlike regular mutation, where changes accumulate one at a time, which is how variants such as B.1.1.7 arose, recombination can bring together multiple mutations in one go.

Most of the time, these don’t confer any advantage to the virus, but occasionally they do. Recombination can be of major evolutionary importance, according to François Balloux at University College London. It is considered by many to be how SARS-CoV-2 originated. Recombination could lead to the emergence of new and even more dangerous variants, although it isn’t yet clear how much of a threat this first recombination event might pose. Korber has only seen a single recombinant genome among thousands of sequences and it isn’t clear whether the virus is being transmitted from person to person or is just a one-off.

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Baby steps, but something.

Ivermectin Reduces Length Of COVID-19 Infection (JPost)

An Israeli tropical-disease expert says he has new proof that a drug used to fight parasites in third-world countries could help reduce the length of infection for people who contract coronavirus. Prof. Eli Schwartz, founder of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Disease at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, last week completed a clinical trial of the US Food and Drug Administration-approved drug ivermectin, a broad-spectrum antiparasitic agent that has also been shown to fight viruses. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 100 people with mild to moderate cases of the disease who were not hospitalized for the virus. It tested whether ivermectin could shorten the viral shedding period, allowing them to test negative for coronavirus and leave isolation in only a few days.


According to his still unpublished data, Schwartz said the drug was shown to help “cure” people of the virus within just six days. Moreover, the chances of testing negative for coronavirus were three times higher for the group who received ivermectin than the placebo, he told The Jerusalem Post. “From a public-health point of view, the majority of patients with corona are mild cases, and 90% of these people are isolated outside of the hospital,” Schwartz said. “If you have any kind of drug that can shorten the duration of the infectiousness of these patients, that would be dramatic, as then they will not infect others.” Moreover, instead of isolating for a minimum of 10 days and maybe more, this period could be shortened, benefiting the economy. Finally, although Schwartz’s study did not focus on this, he said the results indicate that it is likely if the drug were given at the beginning of one’s illness, it could prevent deterioration and hospitalization.

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Full study via the link.

German Study: Laboratory Accident Most Likely Cause of COVID Pandemic (SPR)

For more than a year, the coronavirus has been causing a worldwide crisis. In a study, nanoscientist Prof. Dr. Roland Wiesendanger has now shed light on the origin of the virus. He concludes that both the number and quality of the circumstantial evidence point to a laboratory accident at the virological institute in the city of Wuhan as the cause of the current pandemic. The study was conducted between January 2020 and December 2020. It is based on an interdisciplinary scientific approach and extensive research using a wide variety of information sources. These include scientific literature, articles in print and online media, and personal communication with international colleagues. It does not provide strictly scientific evidence, but it does provide ample and serious circumstantial evidence:

• Unlike previous coronavirus-related epidemics such as SARS and MERS, to date, well over a year after the outbreak of the current pandemic, no intermediate host animal has been identified that could have facilitated the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 pathogens from bats to humans. Therefore, the zoonotic theory as a possible explanation for the pandemic has no sound scientific basis.

• The SARS-CoV-2 viruses are surprisingly good at coupling to human cell receptors and penetrating human cells. This is made possible by special cell receptor binding domains combined with a special (furin) cleavage site of the coronavirus spike protein. Both properties together were previously unknown in coronaviruses and indicate a non-natural origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen.

• Bats were not offered at the suspected fish market in the center of Wuhan city. However, the Wuhan City Virological Institute has one of the world’s largest collections of bat pathogens, which originated from distant caves in southern Chinese provinces. It is extremely unlikely that bats from this distance of nearly 2,000 km would have naturally made their way to Wuhan, only to cause a global pandemic in close proximity to this virological institute.

• A research group at the Wuhan City Virological Institute has been genetically manipulating coronaviruses for many years with the goal of making them more contagious, dangerous and deadly to humans. This has been documented in the scientific literature by numerous publications.

• Significant safety deficiencies existed at the Wuhan City Virological Institute even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which have been documented.

• There are numerous direct references to a laboratory origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. For example, a young female scientist at the virology institute in Wuhan is believed to have been the first to become infected. There are also numerous indications that as early as October 2019, the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen spread from the virological institute to the city of Wuhan and beyond. Furthermore, there are indications that the virological institute was investigated by the Chinese authorities in the first half of October 2019.

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Late to the game?

Johnson & Johnson Submits Its Single-Shot Covid Vaccine To WHO (RT)

Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson has submitted data on its coronavirus vaccine to the World Health Organization (WHO) as it seeks the agency’s greenlight for emergency use. Unlike other shots, this one comes in a single dose. The emergency-use approval is a prerequisite for the vaccine joining the WHO-led COVAX watchdog program, J&J said in a statement on Friday, revealing it had submitted its paperwork to the UN health body. Unlike vaccine competitors already in the Covid-fighting market, the J&J offering comes in a single-dose form, which would make its distribution considerably easier. Moreover, it can be stored under standard refrigerator temperatures, making it an attractive option for countries with less-developed infrastructure.


While Russia’s Sputnik V, British-Swedish AstraZeneca and China’s CoronaVac vaccines can be stored in regular fridges as well, both of the US jabs by Moderna and Pfizer require extremely low temperatures to prevent spoilage. Pfizer said on Friday, however, that it had sufficient data to show its jab can actually be safely stored in a refrigerator and not the extreme cold currently advised. Johnson and Johnson published data on the late-stage trials of its vaccine last month, with the solution showing a rather modest efficacy of 66 percent. The vaccine was tested across several countries and showed mixed results ranging from 72 percent in the US to merely 57 percent in South Africa. [..] Apart from seeking the WHO’s approval, the J&J vaccine is also expected to enter the US market shortly. The solution is currently under review by the US Food and Drug Administration, with its experts expected to discuss its emergency use authorization next week.

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I see Nobel Prize AND Oscar material:

“By the time Biden took office, the pandemic was raging out of control. ‘Oh my goodness, it was,’ Fauci says. ‘When President Biden walked into the White House we were having 300,000 to 400,000 cases per day, 4,000 deaths per day, and our hospitals were on the brink of being overrun.’”

On Jan 18, the US had 150,695 new cases.
On Jan 19, the US had 176,153 new cases.
On Jan 20, the US had 191.222 new cases.

Fauci: When I Publicly Disagreed With Trump He Let Terrible Things Happen (T.)

He appears surprisingly relaxed given his immense responsibilities at this time of crisis, but then it takes a lot to faze Dr Fauci. The evergreen director of Washington’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has been a medical adviser to seven consecutive US presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan, steering them and his country through outbreaks of Ebola, Sars, Zika, avian flu, swine flu and the threat of biological weapons after 9/11. He was one of the first scientists to spot the lethal new syndrome that was Aids in the early 1980s. He was initially reviled by a gay community outraged at the Reagan administration’s apparent indifference to its decimation, then hailed as a hero after championing its cause.

Most recently, during almost all of 2020, he watched in horror as President Trump actively undermined his own government’s battle against the Covid-19 pandemic by holding mass rallies, mocking mask wearers, promoting quack remedies and encouraging his supporters to breach lockdowns. Fauci does not consider this characterisation of Trump’s conduct unfair. ‘No, no, no,’ he says. ‘Unfortunately it’s the truth.’ Donald Trump was initially sceptical of the threat from Covid-19, but Fauci and his fellow scientists did manage to persuade him to back state-by-state lockdowns, and approve social-distancing measures. He also restricted Chinese visitors to the country. By the spring, however, Fauci’s relations with the president had soured as Trump began listening to outsiders with no scientific knowledge and fretting about the damage to the economy and – by extension – his re-election hopes.

Fauci’s challenge was to correct the president’s dangerous falsehoods as diplomatically as possible, often while sharing the stage with him at televised White House briefings, but he says that ‘when it became clear that in order to maintain my integrity and to get the right message [across] I had to publicly disagree with him, he did things – or allowed things to happen – that were terrible. ‘Like he allowed Peter Navarro [Trump’s trade adviser] to write an editorial in USA Today saying that almost everything I’ve ever said was wrong. He allowed the communications department of the White House to send out a list to all of the media, all of the networks, all of the cables, all of the print press, about all of the mistakes I’ve made, which was absolute nonsense because there were no mistakes.’

Trump also began to denigrate Fauci in tweets and press conferences, setting him up as a target for the extreme Right’s hatred. ‘Which I became, to the point that to this day I have to have armed federal agents guarding me all the time,’ Fauci says. And he was not the only target. To his dismay, his wife and three adult daughters were also harassed and threatened. Liberated under President Biden, Fauci can now speak frankly in a way he couldn’t last year. He tells me that in the final two months of his presidency Trump almost completely abandoned his duty to protect the nation from the pandemic. ‘We [the scientists] were trying, but we were acting almost alone, in the sense of without any direction.’

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“..500 million doses would have cost the EU €3 billion more than the annual GDP of Iceland.”

Pfizer-BioNTech Tried To Gouge The EU With $65 Vaccine Doses (RT)

Drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech wanted to charge the EU Commission €54.08 per dose of their Coronavirus vaccine, according to German media reports. The jab would have cost more than 20 times that of a rival shot from AstraZeneca. The prospective price tag was revealed on Thursday by German broadcasters NDR and WDR, and the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. The paper claims that Pfizer and BioNTech submitted a bid to the EU offering 500 million doses at €54.08 ($65.58) per dose, for a total cost of €27 billion ($32.74 billion). At €54.08, the BioNTech vaccine would have cost more than 20 times as much as the rival vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and 500 million doses would have cost the EU €3 billion more than the annual GDP of Iceland.

In comparison, Russia’s ‘Sputnik V’ vaccine was expected to be priced at no more than $10 (€8.26), according to its backers. “I see it as a pursuit of profit that is in no way justified in the current situation of the pandemic,” Wolf Dieter Ludwig, drug chairman of the German Medical Association, told the newspaper. Pfizer-BioNTech has made no profit on the sale of vaccines, according to the Suddeutsche Zeitung, and during negotiations last year reportedly told EU officials that the €54.08 price tag already included “the highest percentage discount” offered to any developed country. The final cost per dose of the vaccine is still unknown, though a document leaked by Belgian MP Eva De Bleeker in December suggested that Pfizer-BioNTech had been bargained down to €12 ($14.55).

Reuters later stated that it had reviewed documents showing the price at €15.50 ($18.79) per dose, “slightly lower than the $19.50 per shot the United States agreed to pay for a first shipment of 100 million doses of the same vaccine.”

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“..$1.5 billion is chump change for the charismatic Elon Musk, whose share of the American GDP can be seen from outer space, like the Great Wall of China.”

Covid or No Covid (Kunstler)

Covid-19 cases are going down fast across the country. If it actually goes away, imagine the giant hole left in the national narrative. No more arguments over lockdowns, kids could go back to school to learn about the scourge of whiteness, and Americans could see each other’s faces again. The “progressives” in power would have to hunt up some new reasons to cancel the bill of rights. That shouldn’t be too difficult for a party adept at making shit up. Right wing extremism would be my bet, even if Antifa and BLM go back to partying in the streets like it’s 2020 when the weather warms up. What won’t go away is the nation’s fantastic economic mess.

In just a few months since Thanksgiving, the financial system has gone through an epic shift, barely noticed by citizens preoccupied with unpaid bills, skipped rents, and empty refrigerators: the stock markets are now based on Bitcoin, which is to say on less than nothing. A whole new dynamic has emerged with publicly-held companies buying the stuff hand-over-fist. An outfit like Tesla, rumored to manufacture electric cars, invested $1.5 billion in the crypto-currency, which has shot up to over $50,000-a-coin in recent weeks. The move was so splendidly shrewd that Tesla’s stock price also shot up, though they don’t make a profit on those cool cars. Of course, $1.5 billion is chump change for the charismatic Elon Musk, whose share of the American GDP can be seen from outer space, like the Great Wall of China.

Other companies are buying Bitcoin on margin, taking advantage of super-low interest rates to make a fast killing. What a great idea! Even better than borrowing to buy back your own company’s stock to jack-up the share value. Don’t be surprised if half of the S & P jumps into the Bitcoin frenzy, bidding it up to six figures. Won’t that do wonders for US productivity and working-class wages? None of that will escape the attention of a “progressive” Congress, which will see a great opportunity to try to compensate for its fiscal profligacy by passing new taxes on “excess wealth” or “windfall profits.” Then, watch the rush-to-the-exits by shareholders in those companies that loaded up on Bitcoin, aggravated by the margin calls on the dough they borrowed to buy the stuff… as well as Bitcoin itself plummeting back to its actual true value: around zero.

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Clincher: the vote is scheduled for “as early as” June.

Swiss To Vote In Referendum On Government’s Covid Restrictions (FT)

Swiss campaigners have triggered a referendum to strip the government of new legal powers to impose lockdowns and curtail public life as the country battles the pandemic. Campaign group Friends of the Constitution on Wednesday handed in a petition of 86,000 signatures collected over the past three months — well in excess of the 50,000 required — to formally initiate a nationwide vote to repeal the 2020 Covid-19 Act under Switzerland’s highly devolved democratic system. The outcome will be legally binding, with a vote scheduled for as early as June. While the pandemic has exposed social and political fractures across Europe over the rights of citizens, in Switzerland — where individuals’ rights are often treated as culturally sacrosanct and government powers are sharply proscribed by law — the strains have become particularly evident.

“In our opinion, the [government] is taking advantage of the pandemic to introduce more control and less democracy,” Christoph Pfluger, a board member of Friends of the Constitution, told the Financial Times. He added: “The long-term problems that will arise from this kind of approach will be grave. We are a movement that says crisis management cannot be done without the will of the sovereign — the people. You cannot govern without the people.” Mr Pfluger said Switzerland would be the first and perhaps the only country to give its citizens a direct vote on coronavirus restrictions. Until late December, Bern’s governing Federal Council had been reluctant to impose restrictions during the second wave of the pandemic.

Staunch opposition from many Swiss to further curbs and dire warnings from several of the country’s most powerful and influential lobbying groups about the economic consequences of another shutdown forestalled action in the run-up to Christmas, even as case numbers rocketed. A poll conducted by Switzerland’s Sotomo Research Institute for state broadcaster SRF in November found that 55 per cent of Swiss were concerned about their individual freedoms being restricted by government measures. The same survey found that even an 11pm curfew for bars and restaurants was considered too restrictive by a third of Swiss respondents.

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Just like Twitter, Facebook.

China Steps Up Online Controls With New Rule For Bloggers (AP)

Ma Xiaolin frequently wrote about current affairs on one of China’s leading microblogging sites, where he has 2 million followers. But recently, he said in a post, the Weibo site called and asked him not to post original content on topics ranging from politics to economic and military issues. “As an international affairs researcher and a columnist, it looks like I can only go the route of entertainment, food and beverage now,” the international relations professor wrote on Jan. 31. Ma, who often posted on developments in the Mideast, is one of many popular influencers working within the constraints of China’s heavily censored web who is finding that their space to speak is shrinking even further with the latest policy changes and a clean-up campaign run by the country’s powerful censors,


Beginning next week, the Cyberspace Administration of China will require bloggers and influencers to have a government-approved credential before they can publish on a wide range of subjects. Some fear that only state media and official propaganda accounts will get permission. While permits have been needed since at least 2017 to write about topics such as political and military affairs, enforcement has not been widespread. The new rules expand that requirement to health, economics, education and judicial matters. “The regulators want to control the entire procedure of information production,” said Titus Chen, an expert in Chinese social media policy at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan.

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Chilling. Scorsese.

The Sound and the Fury of Andrew Cuomo (New Yorker)

Last week, Ron Kim, a Democratic State Assembly member from Queens, was preparing a bath for his three daughters—ages six, four, and two—when he got a call from the governor around 8 p.m. An hour earlier, the New York Post had published leaked details of a Zoom meeting between state Democratic lawmakers and Melissa DeRosa, one of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s closest aides. During the two-hour meeting, DeRosa seemed to confirm a suspicion that a number of lawmakers had had for months: the governor had intentionally withheld from them data confirming that thousands more New York nursing-home residents died from covid-19 than official numbers publicly showed. The lawmakers demanded an explanation, and DeRosa offered them one: last year, the Cuomo administration had been worried that Donald Trump and his Justice Department would use the numbers “against us.” “Basically, we froze,” DeRosa told the Democrats.

Kim, who has been a persistent critic of Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, was in the meeting with DeRosa. A month earlier, he had become the chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Aging, and once the recording of the call leaked, the Post had reached out for comment. Kim told the reporters that, to him, DeRosa’s comments were as bad as they looked—“They were trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence,” he said—a quote that the governor’s office had tried to get Kim to retract. But the quote had stayed in, the story was up, and now the governor was on the phone, fuming. “I will destroy you!” Cuomo screamed, according to notes Kim wrote down after the call—which he shared with me. The governor was so loud that Kim’s wife and daughters grew upset, and Kim stepped out of the bathroom. “You haven’t seen my wrath,” Cuomo told him. “I will go out tomorrow and start telling the world how bad of an Assembly member you are, and you will be finished.”

For Kim, the nursing-home issue was personal as well as political. In April, his uncle Son Kim died, of a suspected case of covid-19, in a nursing home in Queens. He was seventy-eight, and had shaped his nephew’s life. Son Kim had become a dentist at a time when it was almost impossible for a Korean immigrant to set up a dental practice in New York City. He enlisted in the Army, in which he could practice his profession, and eventually sponsored Ron and his family’s visas to the U.S.; in 1987, when Ron was seven, his uncle, a staunch Republican, chose a new American name for him, in honor of President Ronald Reagan. Despite the personal loss, Kim told Cuomo that he’d tried to keep his disagreements about the governor’s pandemic policies on the level of policy. I bit my tongue, Kim said. “I bit my tongue!” Cuomo shot back.

Neither Kim nor his wife slept that night. “I’m trying to calm her down,” Kim told me. Cuomo kept up the pressure through the weekend. That Saturday, Cuomo’s aides and other intermediaries called Kim, trying to get him to talk to the governor. “It’s Lunar New Year—I’m with my family,” Kim told me. “I felt extremely uncomfortable.” Kim believes that Cuomo was trying to silence him. “I realized if I changed course, I’m complicit,” Kim said. “And then, politically, he owns me.” Kim hired a lawyer, to whom he directed any further communications about the issue from the governor’s office. “Ultimately, what he was trying to do was asking me to lie about what I heard,” Kim said, of Cuomo. “It’s like I witnessed a crime, and they’re asking me to say I didn’t witness a crime.”

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“In the aftermath of this debacle, we will return to New Deal-style municipal socialism, or this disaster of power, water, and gas will happen again. Socialism is government, in technical matters, by engineers and others who know their stuff and not by ideologues who do not. Compared to Texas right now, it’s not such a bad prospect.”

The Texas Freeze is a Catastrophe of the Free Market (Galbraith)

Competition would assure bare-bones, lean-and-mean efficiency, and low, low prices most of the time, reflecting the cost of fuel plus the smallest possible profit margin. The role of the state would be minimal – just to manage the common grid, through which power flows from the producer to the consumer. In times of shortage, prices might rise, but then the market would decide; those who did not wish to pay could always flip their switches off. It was a perfect textbook setup, with supply on one side, demand on the other, and a neutral manager in between. True, there were a few loose ends. One is that demand for electricity is what economists call inelastic: it doesn’t respond much to price, but it does respond to changes in the weather, and at such times, of heat or cold, the demand becomes even more inelastic.

Another detail was that in an ordinary market, there can be some play in the relationship between supply and demand. If even a fishmonger does not sell his catch, he can, at the end of the day, cut his price – or even freeze the haddock for the following day. Electricity isn’t like that. Supply has to exactly equal demand every single minute of every single day. If it doesn’t, the entire system can fail. This system, therefore, had three vulnerabilities. First, it created an incentive for cut-throat competition, to provide power in the cheapest possible way, which meant with machinery, wells, meters, pipes, and also windmills that were not insulated against extreme cold – a rarity but not unknown, even in Texas. Second, it left prices free to fluctuate. Third, it assured that when prices rose the most, that would be at exactly those moments when the demand for power was the greatest.

In 2002, under Governor Rick Perry, Texas deregulated its electricity system. After a few years, the electrical free market, managed by a non-profit called ERCOT, was fully-established. Some seventy or so providers eventually sprung up. While a few cities – including Austin – kept their public power, they were nevertheless tied to the state system. The market system could, and did, work out most of the time. Prices rose and fell, and customers who didn’t sign long-term contracts faced some risk. One provider, called Griddy, had a special model: for $9.99 a month you could get your power at whatever the wholesale price was on any given day. That was cheap! Most of the time.

The problem with “most of the time” is that people need electric power all of the time. And Texas’s leaders knew as of 2011, at least, when the state went through a short, severe freeze, that the system was radically unstable in extreme weather. But they did nothing. To do something, they would have had to regulate the system. And they didn’t want to regulate the system, because the providers, a rich source of campaign funding, didn’t want to be regulated and to have to spend on weatherization that was not needed – most of the time. In 2020, even voluntary inspections were suspended, due to Covid-19.

Enter the deep freeze of 2021. Demand went up. Supply went down. Natural gas froze up at the wells, in the pipes, and at the generating plants. Unweatherized windmills also went off-line, a small part of the story. Since Texas is disconnected from the rest of the country, no reserves could be imported, and given the cold everywhere, there would have been none available anyway. There came a point, on Sunday, February 14 or the next day, when demand so outstripped supply that the entire Texas grid came within minutes of a collapse that, we are told, would have taken months to repair.

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Feb 192021
 
 February 19, 2021  Posted by at 9:31 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  53 Responses »


Ito Shinsui Snowy night 1923

 

Mutations Made Coronavirus 8 Times More Infectious Than Original (RT)
Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines Make 3x Less Antibodies vs South African Strain (RT)
130 Countries Have Not Received A Single Covid Vaccine Dose (G.)
Florida Ranks 11th Lowest In Covid Deaths Per Capita Among Seniors (Blaze)
FBI, US Attorney In Brooklyn Probing Cuomo Admin On Nursing Homes (TU)
The Myth of Andrew Cuomo the Competent, Steady Statesman (Jac.)
De Blasio Says Threatening Phone Call To Lawmaker Is ‘Classic Andrew Cuomo’ (F.)
Texas Was “Seconds And Minutes” From Complete Disaster (ZH)
The Failure Of The Texas Power Grid Is Worse Than You Think (Fed.)
Beleaguered Texas Hospitals With No Water Evacuate Patients (Fox4)
The Slippery Slope from Censoring ‘Disinformation’ to Silencing Truth (RI)
Trump’s Former Fixer Cohen Interviewed By Manhattan DA’s Office (R.)
Biden Privately Tells Governors: Minimum Wage Hike Likely Isn’t Happening (Pol.)
Greece in Talks with the UK to Create Tourism Corridor (GR)
Why Vitamin D Probably Still Can’t Cure Covid-19 (Gideon)

 

 

 

 

Our daily good news segment.

Mutations Made Coronavirus 8 Times More Infectious Than Original (RT)

New research has found that a mutation in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, present in variants from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, can make the virus up to eight times more infectious than the original. The new research into the D614G mutation on the spike protein in SARS-CoV-2, present in all the latest variants currently plaguing healthcare systems the world over, was led by researchers at New York University, the New York Genome Center, and Mount Sinai. “Confirming that the mutation leads to more transmissibility may help explain, in part, why the virus has spread so rapidly over the past year,” said Neville Sanjana, assistant professor of biology at NYU, who added that the mutation has reached “near universal prevalence” among the coronavirus variants spreading across the globe.

The Mount Sinai researchers injected a virus with the D614G mutation into human lung, liver, and colon cells and compared it against cells from the original strain detected in Wuhan at the start of the pandemic. They found a whopping eight-fold increase in transmissibility between the two strains, with the mutated spike protein making the virus more resilient to being split by other proteins in the human immune system, highlighting the importance of continued vaccine research and development to combat this hardier version. “…[O]ur experimental data was pretty unambiguous – the D614G variant infects human cells much more efficiently than the wild type,” said Zharko Daniloski, a postdoctoral fellow in Sanjana’s lab at NYU and the study’s co-first author.

Thankfully, however, the mutation has not yet been linked to more intense progression of Covid-19 leading to more severe forms of the disease or an increase in hospitalization. On the other hand, this does pose another issue: the current generation of vaccines were developed based on the original Wuhan-variant spike protein structure, highlighting the need for booster vaccines or even annual vaccination programs to halt the spread of the coronavirus for good.

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More good news.

Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines Make 3x Less Antibodies vs South African Strain (RT)

Vaccines developed by US companies Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are producing fewer antibodies against the coronavirus mutation that has emerged in South Africa, according to studies reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. A lab study jointly conducted by Pfizer/BioNTech and researchers at the University of Texas in Galveston showed that the neutralization of the South African strain “was weaker by approximately two thirds,” but concluded that it was “unclear what effect” that would have on protection the vaccine provided from the disease. This is according to the letter by the researchers published on Wednesday in NEJM, the oldest US medical journal.

Another study conducted by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – whose head, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is the Biden administration’s “coronavirus czar” at the moment – showed “reductions by a factor of 2.7” in the titers of neutralizing antibodies against the variant known as the B.1.351 – and by a factor of 6.4 when pitted against the full range of South African mutations. “Protection against the B.1.351 variant conferred by the mRNA-1273 vaccine remains to be determined,” says the letter from the Moderna/NIAID researchers, also published by NEJM on Wednesday. Moderna said it is working on booster shots if needed. Pfizer and BioNTech are also preparing to develop an update or a booster shot if needed, according to a statement cited by Bloomberg.

In a statement released in January, ahead of the study’s review, they said the performance of their vaccine was “slightly lower” against the South African strain when compared to other mutations, but that “small differences in viral neutralization observed in these studies are unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in the effectiveness of the vaccine.” South Africa has halted the vaccination with Astra Zeneca’s formula after a study showed it didn’t work as well in preventing Covid-19 caused by the mutant strain. President Cyril Ramaphosa took the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Wednesday.

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We’re on a roll.

130 Countries Have Not Received A Single Covid Vaccine Dose (G.)

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has sharply criticised the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of Covid vaccines, saying 10 countries have administered 75% of all vaccinations and demanding a global effort to get all people in every country vaccinated as soon as possible. The UN chief told a high-level meeting of the UN security council on Wednesday that 130 countries had not yet received a single dose of vaccine. “At this critical moment, vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community,” said. Guterres called for an urgent global vaccination plan to bring together those with the power to ensure equitable vaccine distribution – scientists, vaccine producers and those who can fund the effort.

He called on the world’s major economic powers in the Group of 20 to establish an emergency taskforce to establish a plan and coordinate its implementation and financing. He said the taskforce should have the capacity “to mobilise the pharmaceutical companies and key industry and logistics actors”. Guterres said Friday’s meeting of the Group of Seven major industrialised nations – the United States, Germany, Japan, Britain, France, Canada and Italy – “can create the momentum to mobilise the necessary financial resources”. Thirteen ministers addressed the virtual council meeting organised by Britain on improving access to Covid vaccinations, including in conflict areas.

[..] China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, criticised the growing “immunity divide” and called on the world to “come together to reject ‘vaccine nationalism,’ promote fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, and, in particular, make them accessible and affordable for developing countries, including those in conflict”. At the WHO’s request, he said, China will contribute 10m doses of vaccines to Covax “preliminarily”. China has donated vaccines to 53 developing countries including Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan and Palestine, which is a UN observer state. It has also exported vaccines to 22 countries, he said, adding that Beijing has launched research and development cooperation on Covid with more than 10 countries.

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Schools open. No mask mandate. Make of it what you will.

Florida Ranks 11th Lowest In Covid Deaths Per Capita Among Seniors (Blaze)

There’s a reason why the Biden regime is trying to attack Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and create an illusion of a disproportionate viral crisis in the state. With no declared emergency restrictions in place at the state level since last September, the fact that Florida is doing better than the national average completely exposes the lie of lockdown and masks having any effect whatsoever on the fixed natural progression of the virus. Dr. Fauci is suggesting a novel scientific principle – that schools can’t reopen until Congress passes yet another “stimulus” bill. Yet in Florida, schools have been open all year, and the state’s excess deaths for 2020 rank the 16th lowest in the nation, according to a new analysis. What’s more, the Sunshine State, which is regarded as God’s waiting room for seniors, experienced the 11th lowest per capita rate of COVID deaths for seniors in 2020.

A new analysis conducted by RationalGround.com and exclusively obtained by TheBlaze collated CDC excess death data for 49 states (excluding North Carolina, which has incomplete data) and ranked the states from smallest to largest increase in excess deaths from 2019 to 2020. As we have seen in study after study, there is absolutely zero correlation between non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as business and school closures or mask mandates, and a lower rate of excess deaths. According to the CDC’s excess death table, there was a 16.9% national average increase in all-cause mortality in 2020 over 2019.


Given the loose way we count COVID deaths, it will take quite some time to sort out how many of those deaths are due to COVID and how many are due to the panic, anxiety, lockdowns, and missed care, but what is clear is that there is no correlation between the political measures taken by a state and fewer all-cause deaths. Florida, which is the third largest state, has the 16th lowest increase in all-cause deaths, and all of the states that had fewer excess deaths than Florida are much smaller and are mostly states with lower population density. California, on the other hand, ranked No. 40.

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I have no high hopes.

Did CNN just ban one Cuomo from interviewing the other?

FBI, US Attorney In Brooklyn Probing Cuomo Admin On Nursing Homes (TU)

The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn have launched an investigation that is examining, at least in part, the actions of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s coronavirus task force in its handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the pandemic, the Times Union has learned. The probe by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York is apparently in its early stages and is focusing on the work of some of the senior members of the governor’s task force, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter who is not authorized to comment publicly. Last March, as the virus began spreading in New York, Cuomo issued a news release listing the 13 initial members of his coronavirus task force, which has been headed by Linda Lacewell, an attorney and former chief of staff for Cuomo.

Lacewell is the superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services. Other task force members include state health Commissioner Howard Zucker, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa and Beth Garvey, counsel to the governor. “As we publicly said, DOJ (Department of Justice) has been looking into this for months,” said Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor. “We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.” Azzopardi did not disclose whether any members of the administration have been interviewed or if they have been served with any subpoenas. John Marzulli, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, on Wednesday afternoon said he could not “confirm or deny” whether the office has initiated an investigation.

Nearly three weeks after the governor’s task force was announced last year, the state health department issued an order directing nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that they must accept residents who were being discharged from hospitals even if they were still testing positive for the infectious disease, as long as they were able to care for them properly. That directive, which was rescinded less than two months later, has been the focus of a firestorm of criticism directed at Cuomo’s administration, including allegations that the order — which the governor said was based on federal guidance — had contributed to the high number of fatalities of nursing home residents in New York. That assertion was largely dismissed in a report by the Department of Health that was released in July.

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“Even if Cuomo never sinks low enough to lose reelection next year — given his enormous war chest and New York’s horrific campaign finance laws, it’s still an unlikely scenario..”

The Myth of Andrew Cuomo the Competent, Steady Statesman (Jac.)

Even if Cuomo never sinks low enough to lose reelection next year — given his enormous war chest and New York’s horrific campaign finance laws, it’s still an unlikely scenario — he will never again be the governor feted by Ellen and celebrated by self-described “Cuomosexuals.” He’s not getting another Emmy. His moment is over. What happened? In some sense, this has been slow-building. For months, more and more people have been waking up to the fact that the popular, media-created conception of Cuomo was nonsensical. More than 45,000 people have died of COVID-19 in New York State, the second highest absolute death toll in America, just trailing California. (California is more than twice as large, so New York maintains a far higher rate of death.)

Cuomo, like Trump, downplayed the pandemic in its earliest days and issued a shutdown order for New York far too late, defying the opinions of experts and other elected officials. It was the nursing home issue, however, and the subsequently botched vaccine rollout that began to trigger a much-deserved reevaluation of his legacy, which is one of arrogance, secrecy, and failure. Last March, Cuomo ordered nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients who had been discharged from hospitals instead of directing them to large temporary facilities that had a surplus of beds. This decision likely contributed to outbreaks in nursing homes, which the state oversees.

Unlike most other states in America, if not all of them, Cuomo’s New York decided to keep a highly skewed count of nursing home deaths, only tallying those who died while physically in facilities. If you were a nursing home resident who got infected in a home, became sick there, and were transferred to a hospital dying, you were not a part of the official Department of Health tally. Confirming the suspicions of health care experts and many journalists, the state attorney general revealed in a January report that the Department of Health had undercounted nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent. Shortly after, Cuomo was forced to revise the tally far higher, increasing it by more than 60 percent.

Last week, it was revealed that the Cuomo administration had purposefully withheld nursing home data from lawmakers for months out of fear the Department of Justice, under Donald Trump, would investigate. Several legislators have contemplated calling for Cuomo’s impeachment. In a rage, Cuomo called up a leftist assembly member from Queens, Ron Kim, and threatened to “destroy” his career. This is just the news that has grabbed the most headlines. Cuomo is a Clintonian Democrat with a lust for austerity, and he has been quietly slashing and burning New York’s social safety net since the pandemic arrived last year. The City University of New York, which educates a largely working-class and nonwhite student body, has faced severe budget cuts, as have local public schools and social services.

Read more …

The more I read about Cuomo, the more he resembles a character in a Scorsese movie.

De Blasio Says Threatening Phone Call To Lawmaker Is ‘Classic Andrew Cuomo’ (F.)

Compounding a month of bad press for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday morning that he believes the state lawmakers who claimed Cuomo threatened to “destroy” his career after he publicly criticized his administration’s handling of Covid-19 in nursing homes. De Blasio—who has had a publicly contentious relationship with the governor since the start of the coronavirus pandemic—painted Cuomo as a bully during a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” The mayor said he believes New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim’s account of the phone call because “a lot of people in New York State have received those phone calls.”

“It’s a sad thing to say … but that’s classic Andrew Cuomo,” said de Blasio, explaining he’s heard complaints like Kim’s “many, many times.” Representatives for Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes, though the governor’s Senior Advisor Richard Azzopardi released a statement accusing Kim of “lying about his conversation with Governor Cuomo.” “At no time did anyone threaten to ‘destroy’ anyone with their ‘wrath’ nor engage in a ‘coverup,’” said Azzopardi, describing a “long, hostile” relationship between the two men. The comments come a day after revelations that Cuomo’s handling of nursing home death data is now under federal investigation.

“The bullying is nothing new,” said de Blasio. “I believe Ron Kim and it’s very, very sad. No public servant, no person who is telling the truth should be treated that way. But, the threats, the belittling, the demand that someone change their statement right that moment … Many, many times I’ve heard that.” Kim said he received an angry phone call from the governor last week after he publicly accused Cuomo of obstructing justice by withholding data on nursing home deaths. According to Kim, Cuomo threatened that he could “destroy” him if he did not help “cover up” comments made by Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, who stirred controversy earlier this month by suggesting the state had purposefully delayed releasing the full Covid-19 death toll in long-term care facilities because of concerns about a potential federal investigation.

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Something tells me you should go talk to the old time engineers who’ve worked on the grid all their lives. That’s where the stories are, not in politics.

Texas Was “Seconds And Minutes” From Complete Disaster (ZH)

As natural gas fired plants, utility scale wind power and coal plants tripped offline due to the extreme cold brought by the winter storm, the amount of power supplied to the grid to be distributed across the state fell rapidly. At the same time, demand was increasing as consumers and businesses turned up the heat and stayed inside to avoid the weather. “It needed to be addressed immediately,” said Bill Magness, president of ERCOT. “It was seconds and minutes [from possible failure] given the amount of generation that was coming off the system.” With energy prices exploding to record highs, and with demand soaring, grid operators had to “act quickly” to cut the amount of power distributed, Magness said, because if they had waited, “then what happens in that next minute might be that three more [power generation] units come offline, and then you’re sunk.”

Magness said on Wednesday that if operators had not acted in that moment, the state could have suffered blackouts that “could have occurred for months,” and left Texas in an “indeterminately long” crisis. In other words, the millions of households left without power – in some cases for days – were sacrificing for the greater good. So by manually shutting down entire parts of the grid, ERCOT avoided the worst case scenario: one where demand for power overwhelms the supply of power generation available on the grid, causing equipment to catch fire, substations to blow and power lines to go down.

If the grid had gone totally offline, the physical damage to power infrastructure from overwhelming the grid would take months to repair, said Bernadette Johnson, senior vice president of power and renewables at Enverus, an oil and gas software and information company headquartered in Austin. “As chaotic as it was, the whole grid could’ve been in blackout,” she said. “ERCOT is getting a lot of heat, but the fact that it wasn’t worse is because of those grid operators.” If that had occurred, even as power generators recovered from the cold, ERCOT would have been unable to quickly reconnect them back to the grid, Johnson said.

And since nobody can disprove a negative, one just has to take them at their word that dozens of people died so that millions more could live… or something. Grid operators would have needed to slowly and carefully bring generators and customers back online, all the while taking care to not to cause more damage to the grid. It’s a delicate process, Johnson explained, because each part of the puzzle — the generators producing power, the transmission lines that move the power and the customers that use it — must be carefully managed. “It has to balance constantly,” she said. “Once a grid goes down, it’s hard to bring it back online. If you bring on too many customers, then you have another outage.”

Read more …

A disaster long in the making.

The Failure Of The Texas Power Grid Is Worse Than You Think (Fed.)

[..] Yes, some coal plants closed because of freezing temperatures and some natural gas pipelines froze. But as Jason Isaac of the Texas Public Policy Foundation explains in our pages today, the main problem with the Texas power grid isn’t that renewables failed or that fossil fuels failed. It’s that the grid itself has been made unstable by state and federal subsidies that distort the energy market and prevent the buildup of reliable power generation. Subsidies for renewables and fossil fuels have been around for a long time in Texas, supported by both Democrats and Republicans. For as much as Texas has a reputation as a deep-red oil and gas state, it was under Republican Gov. Rick Perry that billions were spent on wind turbines and transmission lines in West Texas, spurred on by massive tax credits for wind producers.

The same thing happened at the federal level when George W. Bush was governor of the state. In the months to come, there will be lengthy and bitter debates about who was responsible for this fiasco. The obvious partisan arguments are already out in the open. If any actual reforms come out of these debates, they will have to begin with an acknowledgment that the way things have been done for decades in Texas has not worked. That much, at least, is now painfully undeniable. For example, goosing the wind and solar industries with billions in tax credits in a state that produces almost a third of America’s fossil fuel energy was perhaps unwise and imprudent.

In hindsight, it looks like cronyism. So do the subsidies for fossil fuels, even if they are not as extravagant as subsidies for renewables. Maybe all of that was a bad idea from the beginning, and maybe it’s time to cut it out. Hardship like what Texas is going through right now can bring clarity. And in the teeth of this winter storm, the entire energy industry, with its high-powered lobbyists and its billions in taxpayer subsidies, is beginning to look like every other elite institution in America: a corrupt and parasitic enterprise whose failures come at the expense of ordinary Americans—in this case, people who are now trying to stay alive in their own homes.

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“Emergency rooms were crowded “due to patients being unable to meet their medical needs at home without electricity..”

Beleaguered Texas Hospitals With No Water Evacuate Patients (Fox4)

After a deadly blast of winter weather overwhelmed the electrical grid and left millions of Texans without power, hospitals in the state are also facing the additional stress of water shortages, crowded emergency rooms and even being forced to evacuate patients. Record-low temperatures damaged infrastructure and pipes, seriously jeopardizing drinking water systems in the Lone Star state. Authorities in Texas ordered 7 million people — a quarter of the population of the nation’s second-largest state — to boil tap water before drinking it. Some hospitals, already contending with COVID-19 patients and vaccine distribution, were also impacted by the winter storm’s havoc on state power grids and utilities. In Austin, hospitals dealt with a loss in water pressure and heat.

St. David’s South Austin Medical Center said Wednesday night that it had lost water pressure from the City of Austin. Since water feeds the facility’s boiler, the hospital was also losing heat. Hospital officials were working to evacuate some patients to other area facilities and said they were distributing bottles and jugs of water to patients and employees. Officials added that they were working with the city to secure portable toilets. “Because this is a statewide emergency situation that is also impacting other hospitals within the Austin area, no one hospital currently has the capacity to accept transport of a large number of patients,” said David Huffstutler, CEO of St. David’s South Austin Medical Center.

In southwest Austin, officials with Ascension Seton Southwest Hospital said they too were facing intermittent issues with water pressure, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The hospital was rescheduling elective surgeries to preserve bed capacity and personnel as a result. At Houston Methodist, two of its community hospitals did not have running water but still treated patients, with most non-emergency surgeries and procedures canceled for Thursday and possibly Friday, spokeswoman Gale Smith told the Associated Press. Emergency rooms were crowded “due to patients being unable to meet their medical needs at home without electricity,” Smith said. She added that pipes had burst in Methodist’s hospitals but were being repaired as they happened.

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“Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The Slippery Slope from Censoring ‘Disinformation’ to Silencing Truth (RI)

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – George Orwell. This is the slippery slope that leads to the end of free speech as we once knew it. In a world increasingly automated and filtered through the lens of artificial intelligence, we are finding ourselves at the mercy of inflexible algorithms that dictate the boundaries of our liberties. Once artificial intelligence becomes a fully integrated part of the government bureaucracy, there will be little recourse: we will be subject to the intransigent judgments of techno-rulers. This is how it starts. Martin Niemöller’s warning about the widening net that ensnares us all still applies.

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” In our case, however, it started with the censors who went after extremists spouting so-called “hate speech,” and few spoke out—because they were not extremists and didn’t want to be shamed for being perceived as politically incorrect.

Then the internet censors got involved and went after extremists spouting “disinformation” about stolen elections, the Holocaust, and Hunter Biden, and few spoke out—because they were not extremists and didn’t want to be shunned for appearing to disagree with the majority. By the time the techno-censors went after extremists spouting “misinformation” about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, the censors had developed a system and strategy for silencing the nonconformists. Still, few spoke out. Eventually, “we the people” will be the ones in the crosshairs.At some point or another, depending on how the government and its corporate allies define what constitutes “extremism, “we the people” might all be considered guilty of some thought crime or other. When that time comes, there may be no one left to speak out or speak up in our defense.

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The MSM will be pushing this for all they’re worth.

Trump’s Former Fixer Cohen Interviewed By Manhattan DA’s Office (R.)

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and a newly hired high-profile litigator interviewed Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Thursday, as part of a criminal probe of the former president’s business dealings, said two people familiar with the investigation. The interview came after Mark Pomerantz, who has extensive experience in white-collar and organized crime cases, joined District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s team investigating the Trump family business. Pomerantz started on Feb. 2 as special assistant district attorney, said Danny Frost, a spokesman for Vance. Pomerantz’s hiring is part of a flurry of recent activity in Vance’s investigation, including the issuance in recent days of roughly a dozen new subpoenas, according to the sources.

One of those went to Ladder Capital Finance LLC, a major creditor used by Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, to finance the former president’s commercial real estate holdings, the sources said. Vance’s office has also conducted interviews with Ladder’s staff, one source familiar with the matter said. The district attorney’s office has said little publicly about the probe, but noted in court filings that it was focused on “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct” at the Trump Organization, including alleged falsification of records, and insurance and tax fraud. It is the only known criminal inquiry into Trump’s business practices.

Separately, New York state Attorney General Letitia James is leading a civil probe into whether Trump’s company falsely reported property values to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits. Ladder issued the loans on several of Trump’s big commercial holdings, including a $160 million mortgage on the Trump Building, a skyscraper in Manhattan’s financial district.

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He knew this a long time ago. But dangling the sausage gets votes.

Biden Privately Tells Governors: Minimum Wage Hike Likely Isn’t Happening (Pol.)

When Joe Biden met with a group of mayors and governors last week he bluntly told them to get ready for a legislative defeat: his proposed minimum wage hike was unlikely to happen, he said, at least in the near term. “I really want this in there but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation,” Biden told the group, according to a person in the room. “I’m not going to give up. But right now, we have to prepare for this not making it.” The comments, which were confirmed by two other people familiar with the conversation, were the furthest Biden has gone in conceding the coming axing of the $15-an-hour minimum wage provision from his first major legislative package.


And they suggest that the president is more inclined to manage the fallout of it not being included than to pursue long-shot, political-capital consuming efforts to fight for its insertion. Sitting in the Oval Office with Republican and Democratic elected officials last Friday to advocate for his $1.9 trillion Covid relief package, he didn’t hide his skepticism. “Doesn’t look like we can do it,” he said of the minimum wage hike. For weeks now, the White House has been trying to manage expectations on the feasibility of advancing a $15-an-hour minimum wage provision through a broader “rescue” package. Biden first suggested it might not make it into the final Covid relief bill in an interview with CBS prior to the Super Bowl, noting his belief that the Senate parliamentarian would determine it did not jibe with budgetary rules that allow a bill to pass with just 51 votes in the Senate.

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I still wonder what the legal status is of requiring people be vaccinated with a vaccine whose producer says it doesn’t prevent the spread of the virus. And then on the basis of that, allowing them into your country without testing etc., where they can spread the virus.

If you would let people fly in to an island, and they would stay there, that’s one thing. You could monitor them, trace them. But Greek tourism is based on people traveling a lot, island-hopping etc.

Greece in Talks with the UK to Create Tourism Corridor (GR)

Soon, vaccinated British citizens may be able to travel to Greece without any restrictions whatsoever, according to Greek Minister of Tourism Haris Theoharis. Greece has entered into preliminary discussions with the UK regarding tourism, Theoharis stated, and may allow vaccinated travelers from the UK into the country this summer without being tested for the coronavirus first. Inoculated tourists may also be able to avoid Greece’s mandatory seven-day quarantine once they arrive in the country. Those who have been vaccinated and hope to enter Greece may have to present a vaccine certificate, or vaccine passport, in order to skip the strict anti-virus measures currently in place in the country.

Currently, all those entering Greece must present a negative PCR test for the coronavirus, within 72 hours of their flight, before entry is allowed. In addition to the PCR test, visitors from the UK must also now take a rapid test upon arrival to Greece. Employing nearly one in five Greeks, tourism is one of the most important sectors of the country’s economy. Greece welcomes around 4 million visitors from the UK each year. The Mediterranean country hopes that opening up a tourist corridor with the UK for the summer will bring a much-needed boost to Greece’s economy, which has suffered a great deal due to travel restrictions and strict anti-virus measures. Greek tourism took a giant plunge in the third quarter of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

In total, in the first nine months of last year, the accommodation sector had revenues of only 1.89 billion euros, when last year in the corresponding period revenues were 6.15 billion euros — representing a staggering loss of 4.26 billion euros. When discussing the outlook for Greece’s tourism sector in the summer of 2021, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated to Reuters: “I am a realist, but I am also cautiously optimistic that we will do much better than last year.” The potential deal with the UK may well add to Mitsotakis’ optimism for a successful tourist season this year. The country has already struck a deal with Israel, which will allow vaccinated travelers from the Mediterranean country to enter Greece without coronavirus restrictions.

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Saved this for last because I would like some comments. Did anyone ever state vit. D was a cure for Covid? We sure did not. This epidemiologist appears to take studies on giving people already in hospital large doses of vit. D, to claim it’s useless. This is exactly how HCQ was discredited. But do chime in.

Why Vitamin D Probably Still Can’t Cure Covid-19 (Gideon)

There are many scientific questions that have come up during the pandemic. We’ve investigated the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, looked into school closures, and even checked to see whether spectacles could protect you from getting Covid-19 (the jury is still out on that one). But perhaps the most consistent question that has been asked, over and over again, is whether vitamin D supplements can treat coronavirus effectively. The allure is understandable — vitamin D is cheap, relatively safe, and there’s some evidence that it can help with the common cold, which is often caused by coronaviruses similar to SARS-CoV-2. If it worked, it could make an enormous difference in the lives of people with Covid-19 and at a very low cost.

Sadly, this has inspired endless shoddy studies that have meant that the question of whether vitamin D works for Covid-19 wasn’t answered very well (or at all) the last time I wrote about it in October 2020. This makes the recent headlines all the more understandable. A study was put up on SSRN — a preprint server run by The Lancet — a few weeks ago that purported to show a 60% decrease in mortality for people with Covid-19 who were given calcifediol (a metabolite of vitamin D) compared to a control group given treatment as usual. With such impressive-sounding results, the study soon went viral on Twitter and has been reported in news outlets around the world. If supplements really could prevent 60% of Covid-19 deaths, it would be a research finding that could literally change the course of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, as with most of the previous research, the evidence is much shakier than you might expect given the glowing headlines. Even more than a year into all of this, we still don’t really know if vitamin D does anything for Covid-19 at all.

Read more …

 

 

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#Perseverance has captured the first images of life on Mars.

 

 

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Feb 182021
 
 February 18, 2021  Posted by at 9:51 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  41 Responses »


Ansel Adams Church, Taos, Pueblo 1942

 

Masked Drivers Banned From Wearing Sunglasses & Hats in Saxony (RT)
Facebook Blocks News From Australia – Yes, The Entire Country (CTH)
The Deplatforming Of Australia (Mark Pesce)
Hong Kong Aiming For Legislation To Ban Insulting Public Officials (ZH)
Vaccine Rollout Will Trigger New Covid Variants, Oxford Scientist Warns (RT)
Many Top NBA Players Hesitant To Promote Coronavirus Vaccines (ESPN)
Waitress Fired From NYC Eatery For Not Getting Covid Vaccine (DM)
How Well You Fared With Covid19 Might Be Down To Neanderthal Genes (RT)
Cuomo-gate: A Nixonian Scandal Is Engulfing New York (DP)
Texas Governor Blames Power Outages on Wind, Solar (CD)
Subzero Rates Are Coming to the US and the UK (Lacalle)
Twenty Days Of Infamy: The January 2017 Red Flags The FBI Blew Past (JTN)
VP Harris Gets Two Pinocchios For ‘Starting From Scratch’ Comment (JTN)
‘A Love As Real As Climate Change’: Tucker Carlson About Joe & Jill Biden (RT)

 

 

Perfectly in line with today’s news. Insanity rules. Just find someone to hate.

 

 

Ha ha ha. Brilliant. What people think of. “… general facial features” of the driver must still be visible to the road safety cameras…

Masked Drivers Banned From Wearing Sunglasses & Hats in Saxony (RT)

Drivers must still be identifiable by traffic cameras, even when they follow existing health protocols and wear masks, a new rule in Germany’s eastern region says. According to the Bild newspaper, Saxony became the first region in Germany to ban hats and sunglasses on masked drivers. “Wearing a hat and sunglasses in addition to a mask that covers the face and mouth makes [the driver] unrecognizable. So that’s not allowed,” Saxony’s Interior Minister Roland Woller said. Woller explained that “general facial features” of the driver must still be visible to the road safety cameras.


He added that officials responsible for handing out fines to drivers were advised to handle the new rule on a case-by-case basis. Starting from Monday, people are required to wear masks in vehicles in Saxony if members of more than two households are traveling together. Last month, Germans were mandated to wear medical-grade respirator-type masks on public transport and when going to supermarkets. Simple cloth or homemade masks are not allowed in such cases.

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Will this wake up more politicians?

Facebook Blocks News From Australia – Yes, The Entire Country (CTH)

Australian officials are pushing back against the totalitarian grip of Big Tech. {Go Deep} As a result of investigations into Google and Facebook the Australian government is set to establish fines against tech companies for anti-trust violations. However, some officials are now discussing taking actions that are beyond civil lawsuits, and are now advocating for arrest of company officers for unlawful conduct. The battle lines are being drawn, and in response to the Australian government position on anti-trust Facebook (feeling they are elite and above the law) has now decided to block all news articles from the entire country from their social media platform.


FACEBOOK ANNOUNCEMENT – […] this means people and news organisations in Australia are now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook. Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted. To do this, we are using a combination of technologies to restrict news content and we will have processes to review any content that was inadvertently removed.

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“Does Facebook truly believe that their actions will change the political outcome? Or are they sending a signal to other sovereign powers—such as the EU, India and the USA—that Facebook is itself a sovereign power..”

The Deplatforming Of Australia (Mark Pesce)

Can a whole country be deplatformed? That question confronts all of Australia today, as Facebook (for Facebook, read Mark Zuckerberg, who autocratically controls the social media giant) suddenly went nuclear, blocking all postings from news sites by its Australian users, and blocking those same users from seeing news postings from any source, anywhere in the world. All of this seemingly in response to a law that hasn’t even passed through Parliament. It feels like a dummy spit for the ages, the kind of moment that historians will simply chuckle over—and it is. But there’s much more here: never before in history has any technology firm gone head-to-head with the legitimate democratic apparatus of a highly advanced state. Australia is neither an economic backwater nor new to the Internet. That’s what makes this all a bit terrifying.

The cheek of it: a trillion-dollar social media firm twists a few dials, drops in some barely-functioning algorithms—that blocked NASA and The Betoota Advocate along with the ABC, News, Seven and Nine—and voila! the entire media landscape alters, bringing the nation’s focus to a foreign technology firm that appears to be acting to interrupt the legislative workings of a democratic sovereign power. If Facebook had acted after the bill had passed through Parliament, after the Governor General had given the law royal assent, then, perhaps, it would have seemed somewhat proportionate—just a protection of business interests. Happening now—in the middle of the political process, and seemingly designed to derail that process—it feels a bit more like the Capitol Insurrection: a bit of violent theatre designed to derail another political process.

Does Facebook truly believe that their actions will change the political outcome? Or are they sending a signal to other sovereign powers—such as the EU, India and the USA—that Facebook is itself a sovereign power, and will use that power to assert its own interests? Both of these alternatives feel like a scenario from dystopian science fiction. Yet this is the problem we now find ourselves in with Big Tech. We’ve nurtured these firms with our attention and our dollars, both of which they’ve converted to raw power. And now, when that power has been turned against us, we recognise the true cost of our addictions to our newsfeeds, our community groups—even those status updates from our families. All of it fed a monster, now unleashed, wreaking havoc with Australia’s democratic interests.

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Facebook, Hong Kong, the vaccine industry, what’s the difference?

Hong Kong Aiming For Legislation To Ban Insulting Public Officials (ZH)

Hong Kong’s government is currently in the process of introducing legislation that would prohibit insulting public officials. We can only imagine the insults that were muttered when local citizens read the news from local media. Hong Kong’s Security Bureau is in the midst of leading a study on how the legislation could work and how it would be overseen, according to Bloomberg. Local outlets said, citing Civil Service Secretary Patrick Nip, that the issue was under examination. The legislation would be part of a broader agenda by China to “erode basic freedoms” in Hong Kong. The move would be the biggest to censor free speech in Hong Kong since China’s institution of a law that has been used to combat mass protests in Hong Kong.


Beijing has also implemented a “patriotism test” to weed out pro-Democracy lawmakers. The test prompted mass resignations from opposition members in the Legislative Council last November, Bloomberg notes. Bloomberg also noted that Hong Kong judges and law enforcement are unlikely to challenge any new legislation from Beijing: Earlier this month, Hong Kong’s top court ordered that media tycoon and democracy activist Jimmy Lai remain in jail ahead of his trial on foreign collusion charges, a victory for Beijing that suggested Hong Kong judges were unlikely to challenge the security law. Hong Kong police also separately arrested Lai for assisting in an activist’s attempt to flee to Taiwan, the Oriental Daily reported on Wednesday, without citing anyone. Recall, back in June 2020, Hong Kong passed a law banning insults to China’s National Anthem.

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There are thousands already. If you boost your immune system, that is much less scary.

Vaccine Rollout Will Trigger New Covid Variants, Oxford Scientist Warns (RT)

A senior scientist at Oxford University has warned the global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines will prompt the virus to mutate, driven by “immunological selection” rather than the adaptations we have seen so far. Speaking to the UK Commons Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday, Professor Sir John Bell, Oxford’s regius professor of medicine, said that the Covid-19 mutations observed so far are a result of the virus adapting to be more effective in its new hosts, humans. “Most of the variants we have seen so far represent that kind of adaptation to a new species; it’s a bit like moving into a new apartment, you are shuffling the sofa around and making sure the TV is in the right place,” Bell told colleagues and lawmakers.


“What we will see between now and the end of the year is a number of variants which are driven by immunological selection, largely by the vaccines, and that will add another layer of complexity.” Bell added that a number of variants that currently exist have already demonstrated some “quite profound resistance” to existing immunity, either from previous Covid-19 infection or vaccines, citing people who have been reinfected by the Brazilian and South African strains. Despite this, Bell said there was good news in the fight against Covid-19, in that current vaccines do appear to have an impact on existing variants and are capable of stopping severe disease. “We need to be conscious of the new variants, we need to be ready to make new vaccines if we need them, but I am pretty clear our existing vaccines are going to work to some extent [against known variants],” the Oxford scientist stated.

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“Player apprehensions about receiving the vaccine are consistent with those that also exist in Black communities..”

Many Top NBA Players Hesitant To Promote Coronavirus Vaccines (ESPN)

Many of the NBA’s top players are expressing apprehension about accepting invitations to participate in league-sponsored public service announcements to bolster broader acceptance of the coronavirus vaccine, sources told ESPN. The NBA’s outreach to the agents of many of the league’s elite players — with hopes of getting stars to participate in PSAs to promote the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine — has been met with a tepid response, sources said. Player apprehensions about receiving the vaccine are consistent with those that also exist in Black communities throughout the country, agents and players told ESPN.

Sources describe a number of factors contributing to many players’ reluctance to participate, including uncertainty about taking the vaccine themselves, reluctance to advocate its use for others and resistance to extending favors to a league amid the largely unpopular plans for an All-Star Game. On a call with league general managers on Tuesday, commissioner Adam Silver continued to tell top team executives that the league wouldn’t “jump the line” of the general public to get vaccines, but he suggested an optimistic timeline that included the possibility of late March and early April for the start of player vaccinations, sources said. Nevertheless, that’s considered a fluid timeline, largely meant to reaffirm to teams the need to be prepared for whenever the opportunity to vaccinate players comes from public health officials, sources said.

The NBA shared with teams an expectation of 70 million to 100 million vaccine doses likely distributed by mid-March. In the hours after the call with the league’s GMs, Dr. Anthony Fauci — the nation’s leading infectious disease expert — told CNN that his original hope of April as a target for widespread vaccine availability for those outside of priority groups could be pushed back. “That timeline will probably be prolonged into mid- to late May and early June,” Fauci told CNN.

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“The way I see it, getting the vaccine is for me. It protects me. If I am not getting it, it’s my choice, and I’d only be hurting myself,” she said. The coronavirus vaccines available haven’t been tested on pregnant women, but also haven’t been shown to affect pregnancy and are viewed as generally safe. [..] The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that getting vaccinated is “a personal choice for people who are pregnant..”

Waitress Fired From NYC Eatery For Not Getting Covid Vaccine (DM)

A New York waitress was fired from her job on Monday after she told her bosses at a tavern that she wanted to wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine until she could learn more about its side effects on women who are pregnant. Bonnie Jacobson, 34, said she is not an ‘anti-vaxxer’ but wanted to wait for more research as she recently starting trying to get pregnant with her husband, she told DailyMail.com. Jacobson, who started working at the Red Hook Tavern in August, said the restaurant first sent out an email on February 8 which said: ‘If you choose to get vaccinated, here’s what you need to know.’ That email, reviewed by DailyMail.com, did not tell employees that vaccinations were required.

Jacobson said she told her manager during a staff meeting that she wanted more time to research the vaccine and said her manager initially understood her concerns, telling her she would not be required to get the shot. But the Brooklyn tavern changed its mind days later on February 12 and sent workers and email noting the vaccines were mandatory. Please be advised that we will require that all employees receive the vaccination,’ notes the email. This will be mandatory for all existing employees and any new hires. The exception to this policy will be if your own personal health or disability prohibits you from obtaining this vaccination. We encourage you to consult your healthcare professional to determine if getting a vaccine is right for you.’

Jacobson then emailed her employers on Saturday and said that she did not yet want to get the vaccine, which she said she ‘fully supports.’ ‘I am choosing not to get the vaccine because there just isn’t enough data or research at this point on its effects on fertility,’ she wrote to her boss.

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How do I find out?

How Well You Fared With Covid19 Might Be Down To Neanderthal Genes (RT)

Has Covid-19 floored you? Or did you only suffer mild symptoms? The answer to how your body responds to coronavirus could very well be influenced by the Neanderthal genes you carry, according to researchers in Germany. Svante Paabo and Hugo Zeberg of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have been looking to the genes inherited from our Neanderthal ancestors – and the pair’s studies suggest that our modern-day responses to Covid-19 are part of a genetic lottery played out over 40,000 years. Their latest study suggests that a genetic mutation in genes linked to our ancestral Neanderthal relatives might reduce the risk of severe infection by about 22 percent.

The mutation, which helps fight off RNA viruses, has been found in all Neanderthal DNA samples tested and is present in about 30 percent of samples from people with European and Asian backgrounds today. In September, the pair co-authored another study that looked at a different set of Neanderthal genes found in some 50 percent of Asians and 16 percent of Europeans. People that carried that particular gene sequence were found to be more susceptible to developing serious respiratory problems after contracting Covid-19. Neanderthals are known to have lived alongside – and interbred with – modern humans in Europe and Asia before becoming extinct some 40,000 years ago.

Paabo and Zeberg compared DNA samples from 2,200 people with samples taken from four ancient humans – a 70,000-year-old Neanderthal from Siberia, a 50,000-year-old Neanderthal from Croatia, and two separates samples from Denisova Cave in Siberia, to reach their findings for the most recent study. Previously, they had looked at samples from some 3,000 people for the study published in Nature.

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How is he still in office?

Cuomo-gate: A Nixonian Scandal Is Engulfing New York (DP)

The biggest political scandal in America right now is playing out in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in a lot of trouble — and rightly so. The Democratic governor did not merely wildly mismanage his state’s response to the COVID emergency, while netting himself a lucrative book deal and an Emmy. He did something worse. In the middle of a public health emergency, he used his office to help one of his largest political donors shield itself from legal consequences as 15,000 nursing home residents died from COVID — and then he and his administration underreported that death toll, helping the same donor. The Daily Poster had been covering the story for months before it exploded this week. The scandal is a cautionary tale of hubris, megalomania, and corruption that left a literal mountain of preventable COVID deaths in its wake.

Now we are about to see whether a blue state’s democratic institutions can hold wrongdoers accountable, or whether America’s culture of impunity can once again protect the powerful from facing any consequences at all. Amid a cacophony of demands for Cuomo to resign, the governor and his aides are frantically trying to cover up the basic facts of what happened, and that includes launching a Nixonian campaign of intimidation and retribution against Democratic lawmakers who have for months been sounding the alarm. Two national news outlets today detailed Cuomo’s new campaign of retribution against one lawmaker in his own party who dared to ask questions about constituents and family members who died under Cuomo’s nursing home policies.

Cuomo held a press conference to publicly berate the same Democrat, while another New York news outlet reported that other lawmakers are now facing threats. For months, these legislators’ questions were ignored by a national media that has seemed far more interested in valorizing Cuomo than in reporting inconvenient facts. But those facts are worth reviewing, because they illustrate the direct link between the underreporting of nursing home deaths and the push for corporate immunity. They also spotlight the very real human carnage that can result when an imperious, out-of-control politician is unwilling to engage in any contrition, self-reflection, or reform.

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Whether it’s Cuomo or Abbott, it’s clear that crises expose incompetence.

Texas Governor Blames Power Outages on Wind, Solar (CD)

As millions of Texans struggled desperately to keep warm amid power outages stemming from the devastating winter storm sweeping the nation, the state’s Republican governor late Tuesday blamed solar and wind for the blackouts—despite the fact that Texas relies overwhelmingly on fossil fuels—and claimed the crisis shows that the Green New Deal would be a “deadly deal” for the United States. “Texas is blessed with multiple sources of energy, such natural gas and oil and nuclear, as well as solar and wind,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in an appearance on “Hannity” Tuesday night. “Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10% of our power grid. And that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power in a statewide basis.”

Abbott was far from the first Republican to deploy such blatantly false talking points in response to the ongoing crisis in Texas, which has left at least 10 people dead. But the governor’s decision to appear on Fox News and attack a policy that has not even been implemented as Texans resorted to burning their belongings to keep their children warm was viewed as yet another example of his failed leadership. “Five million Texans are without power tonight and temperatures are below freezing. People will most certainly die tonight because of it,” said Sawyer Hackett, senior adviser to Julián Castro. “But Gov. Abbott had time to go on Sean Hannity to blame the Green New Deal.” Citing an official with the state’s Electric Reliability Council (ERCOT), The Texas Tribune reported that as of Tuesday afternoon “16 gigawatts of renewable energy generation, mostly wind generation, was offline. Nearly double that, 30 gigawatts, had been lost from thermal sources, which includes gas, coal and nuclear energy.”

“Texas is a gas state,” Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Tribune. “Gas is failing in the most spectacular fashion right now.” But that hasn’t stopped Texas Republicans like Abbott and Rep. Dan Crenshaw from attempting to blame frozen wind turbines for outages that could continue for days, endangering lives and coronavirus vaccines. In response to Abbott’s “Hannity” interview, Texas voting rights advocate Charlie Bonner tweeted, “He is lying. People are dying, and he is on Fox News lying to you. We are living in fear and Greg Abbott is playing politics with our lives.” “Greg Abbott doesn’t care if you live or die tonight so take care of each other, my friends,” Bonner added. “We’re living in a failed state.”

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“The financial repression of central banks begins with a misdiagnosis assuming that low growth and below-target inflation is a problem of demand, not of the previous excess..”

Subzero Rates Are Coming to the US and the UK (Lacalle)

Negative rates are the destruction of money, an economic aberration based on the mistakes of many central banks and some of their economists, who all start from a wrong diagnosis: the idea that economic agents do not take more credit or invest more because they choose to save too much and therefore saving must be penalized to stimulate the economy. Excuse the bluntness, but it is a ludicrous idea. Inflation and growth are not low due to excess savings, but because of excess debt, which perpetuates overcapacity with low rates and high liquidity and zombifies the economy by subsidizing the low-productivity and highly indebted sectors and penalizing high productivity with rising and confiscatory taxation.

Historical evidence of negative rates shows that they do not help reduce debt, they incentivize it. They do not strengthen the credit capacity of families: the prices of nonreplicable assets (real estate, etc.) skyrocket because of monetary excess and because the lower cost of debt does not compensate for the greater risk. Investment and credit growth are not subdued because economic agents are ignorant or saving too much, but because they don’t have amnesia. Families and businesses are more cautious in their investment and spending decisions, because they perceive, correctly, that the reality of the economy they see each day does not correspond to the cost and the quantity of money.

It is completely incorrect to think that families and businesses are not investing or spending. They are only spending less than what central planners would want. However, that is not a mistake from the private sector side, but a typical case of central planners’ misguided estimates, which come from using 2001–07 as “base case” of investment and credit demand instead of what those years really were: a bubble. The argument of the central planners is based on an inconsistency: that rates are negative because markets demand them, not because they are imposed by the central bank. If that is the case and the result would be the same, why don’t they let rates float freely? Because it is false.

Think for a moment what type of investment, company, or financial decision is profitable with rates at –0.5 percent but unviable with rates at 1 percent. A time bomb. It is no surprise that investment in bubble-prone sectors is rising with negative rates and that nonreplicable and financial assets are skyrocketing. Instead of strengthening economies, negative rates make governments more dependent on cheap debt. Public debt trades at artificially low yields, and politicians abandon any reformist impulse, preferring to accumulate more debt. The financial repression of central banks begins with a misdiagnosis assuming that low growth and below-target inflation is a problem of demand, not of the previous excess, and ends up perpetuating the bubbles that it sought to solve.

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“Between Jan. 4, 2017 and Jan. 24, 2017, nearly every major assumption of the FBI’s Russia collusion theory was gutted..”

Twenty Days Of Infamy: The January 2017 Red Flags The FBI Blew Past (JTN)

From its earliest moments, the FBI’s Russia collusion probe was always fraught with warning signs. Agents were told Christopher Steele provided faulty information, had likely been compromised by Russian intel disinformation, wanted to defeat Donald Trump, had leaked to the media and was being paid by Hillary Clinton, who herself might be carrying out an epic dirty political trick to vilify Trump with false information to distract from her own scandals. Those intelligence reports alone should have given agents pause. The fact that Steele had been terminated by the FBI as an informant for leaking also should have weighed heavily.

But if ever there were red lights screaming for the FBI to end the counterintelligence probe, they were flashing during a harrowing 20-day window in January 2017 as Barack Obama was leaving office and Trump was coming in. Between Jan. 4, 2017 and Jan. 24, 2017, nearly every major assumption of the FBI’s Russia collusion theory was gutted, according to recently declassified evidence reviewed by Just the News. Months of investigating Trump adviser Mike Flynn had turned up “no derogatory information,” and agents recommended shutting down that part of the inquiry after concluding Flynn wasn’t aiding Moscow. Two separate informant recordings of Trump adviser Carter Page — the target of an ongoing FISA warrant — produced stunning evidence of innocence.

U.S. intelligence had concluded a key allegation in the Steele dossier was Russian disinformation. And Steele’s primary sub-source — whom the FBI assessed was likely tied to Russian intelligence — discounted much of the information attributed to him in the dossier. Even Director James Comey was telling colleagues there wasn’t much corroborated in the dossier. And yet somehow, some way, the FBI accelerated the investigation even though overwhelming evidence showed — as lead investigative agent Peter Strzok would later text his colleague — there was “no big there, there.”

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It doesn’t matter. She will be believed by her fans, and that’s all that counts.

VP Harris Gets Two Pinocchios For ‘Starting From Scratch’ Comment (JTN)

A Washington Post fact check has given a statement made recently by Vice President Kamala Harris a rating of two Pinocchios. “There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations. We were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try and figure it out. And so in many ways, we’re starting from scratch on something that’s been raging for almost an entire year,” Harris said during an interview with Axios. In the Post fact checking piece Glenn Kessler writes that Harris “gets into trouble when she says ‘we’re starting from scratch.’ The Biden administration appears to have had to fill in the blanks of the Trump plan and certainly did speed up the tempo of what the Trump administration envisioned. It has added a federal component and pushed for funding for states,” Kessler wrote.


“Biden administration officials may be proud of what they have accomplished, but they shouldn’t suggest that nothing was in place when they walked in the door. They have built on an existing structure left behind by the Trump team. Harris modified her comment by saying ‘in many ways,’ but that’s not quite enough to avoid Pinocchios,” he wrote. Two Pinocchios is like a rating of “half-true,” according to the Post’s explanation of the Pinocchio Test ratings. “Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. A politician can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people,” the Post says about the two Pinocchio rating.

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Ha ha ha. “His latest comments quickly sparked a liberal uproar on social media, with critics calling the Fox News host “bitter,”“offensive,” and “deranged.”

‘A Love As Real As Climate Change’: Tucker Carlson About Joe & Jill Biden (RT)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has outraged Democrats once again after he appeared to suggest President Joe Biden’s relationship with his wife is a carefully-devised PR campaign, mockingly saying it is “as real as climate change.” Reacting to the glowing coverage celebrating Biden’s public displays of affection with his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, and glee over a supposed return to ‘normalcy’ following chilly public interactions between former President Donald Trump and his wife Melania, Carlson put his own spin on the situation. “Not since Antony dined with Cleopatra at downtown Antioch, before they killed themselves obviously, has a country witnessed a love story as moving and poignant as Jill and Joe’s,” said Carlson sarcastically on his Tuesday show.


“No, ladies and gentlemen, Jill Biden is not Joe’s caretaker. She isn’t his nurse. She’s his fully-equal romantic partner. Together they are like besotted teens, yet at the same time they are the wise and knowing parents of a nation,” he continued. He then implied the public displays of affection were “part of a slick PR campaign devised by cynical consultants,” designed to “hide the president’s senility,” adding that in his view, their love is “as real as climate change.” Carlson has previously shot down concerns about climate change, calling it “systemic racism in the sky” – “You can’t see it, but rest assured it’s everywhere and it’s deadly.” His latest comments quickly sparked a liberal uproar on social media, with critics calling the Fox News host “bitter,”“offensive,” and “deranged.”

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