Jun 092021
 


Vittorio Matteo Corcos Conversation in the Jardin du Luxembourg 1892

 

Pfizer Begins Testing Its Covid Vaccine In Children Aged 5-11 (DM)
Moderna CEO: Vaccine Boosters, Flu/Covid Combo Shots Likely For The Future (F.)
India Accuses WHO Chief Scientist of Suppressing Ivermectin Data (ET)
Indian Health Regulator Removes Ivermectin from Its Covid-19 Protocol (NC)
Oh, Once Again Right -Rank Corruption And Lies (Denninger)
Greek Leaders Take Stand On Mandatory Vaccination (K.)
Segregated Dining In NYC (DM)
Beijing’s Useful Idiots (Unherd)
China, Russia to Take Up Korea Issue Together (NW)
Blinken Says 100s of Sanctions Will Remain on Iran Despite Talks (Antiwar)
Federal Prosecutors Subpoena Material From Andrew Cuomo’s Book (DM)
US State Sues To Have Google Declared A Public Utility (Y!)

 

 

McCullough
https://twitter.com/i/status/1402221070061649920

 

 

 

 

Russell Brand
https://twitter.com/i/status/1402239104432193545

 

 

I see nothing but pure evil. It’s too easy to propagandize children. That’s why we protect them.

Pfizer Begins Testing Its Covid Vaccine In Children Aged 5-11 (DM)

Pfizer-BioNTech has entered late-stage clinical trials of their coronavirus vaccine in children between ages five and 11. Just a few weeks after the shot was approved for teens ages 12 to 15 in the U.S., the companies are now testing safety and efficacy on younger children. Around 4,500 participants will be enrolled at nearly 100 clinical trial sites in 26 states, Finland, Poland and Spain, according to a press release. Trials for kids as young as six months to four years old are still in early stages and will expand once the researchers can determine safety. It comes as Moderna Inc’s CEO says he believes his company’s COVID-19 jab should be available for U.S. children as young as age five by fall of this year.

Parents and doctors have been debating about whether or not to inoculate children because they make up just 0.1 percent of all COVID deaths. According to clinicaltrials.gov, Pfizer’s study in younger children will work similarly to the way it did in older children and adults. About half of the ages five-to-11 group will receive two doses 21 days apart and the other half will be given placebo shots. The team will test the safety, tolerability and immune response generated by the vaccine, likely by measuring antibody levels in the young subjects.

[..] In a recent poll, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, parents were asked if they would get their child immunized once a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized and available for their child’s age group. Only about three in 10 parents – 29 percent – of children under 18 said they would get their child vaccinated ‘right away.’ The poll also found 15 percent only plan to vaccinate their children if the school requires it and 19 percent said their child will definitely not be getting vaccinated. What’s more, although children can contract COVID-19 and pass the disease on to others, they tend to not get very ill. More than 3.97 million children have tested positive for the virus as of Tuesday, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Pfizer trial

Read more …

Snake oil.

Moderna CEO: Vaccine Boosters, Flu/Covid Combo Shots Likely For The Future (F.)

As new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to spread around the world, vaccines produced by Moderna, BioNTech/Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson won’t be enough to provide immunity forever, says Stéphane Bancel. Speaking at the Forbes Health In Action Summit, the Moderna CEO says it’s likely booster shots will be needed in the near future, both to bolster waning immunity and to protect against new virus mutations. “First, immunity wanes with time meaning rollover of antibodies you have in your body from the vaccine – all natural infection goes down over time,” he says. “Two is you don’t know which virus you’re going to get infected with down the road, which variant is one of the four areas alpha, beta, gamma, delta, or even a new one that we don’t know of yet. And then it depends on your age and medical condition.”

To make future vaccine shots an easier process, Bancel says, the company is working on developing a booster shot to both reboot pre-existing antibodies as well as “provide new antibodies in your body that will bind specifically to those new mutations.” He also shared that Moderna is working on a booster for seasonal flu that operates with a 90-95% efficacy, and in the long run the company hopes to produce a shot where a single dose can vaccinate against both Covid-19 and the flu.

But while Moderna’s CEO looks at the future, the present still has a long way to go to get enough people vaccinated to reach herd immunity. Tom Polen, CEO and President of Becton, Dickinson and Company said his company received orders for over 2 billion syringes to assist with vaccine demand. “All of the syringes that we provide in the U.S., which are routinely used to deliver a variety of different vaccines and injectable therapies in hospitals, we make in the U.S. and always made in the U.S., so we work with the U.S. government to expand some of that capacity. For example, one of our manufacturing locations in Nebraska who work with the government to install new capacity that’s coming online right now just to scale that up even further to deliver vaccines,” Polen says.

Pfizer vs AZ

Read more …

“..claiming that she was “spreading disinformation and misguiding the people of India, in order to fulfill her agenda” and sought to prevent her from “causing further damage.”

India Accuses WHO Chief Scientist of Suppressing Ivermectin Data (ET)

The Indian Bar Association has taken legal action against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan for her alleged role in spreading disinformation on the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19. The association served a legal notice on Swaminathan on May 25, claiming that she was “spreading disinformation and misguiding the people of India, in order to fulfill her agenda” and sought to prevent her from “causing further damage.” They further say that Swaminathan, in her statements against the use of ivermectin, ignored research and clinical trials from two organizations – the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care (FLCCC) Alliance and the British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (BIRD) – who have presented solid data showing ivermectin prevents and treats COVID-19.

“Dr. Soumya Swaminathan has ignored these studies/reports and has deliberately suppressed the data regarding effectiveness of the drug Ivermectin, with an intent to dissuade the people of India from using Ivermectin,” the plaintiff said in a statement. In a May 10 tweet that has since been deleted after the notice was issued, Swaminathan wrote, “Safety and efficacy are important when using any drug for a new indication. WHO recommends against the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 except within clinical trials.”

Swaminathan made the Twitter post soon after Goa’s health minister announced that every Goa resident 18 and older would be given ivermectin as prevention regardless of their COVID-19 status, as part of the state government’s effort to stop the transmission of the virus. India has been hit hard in the second wave of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic beginning in March 2021. The legal notice calls for a clear response from Swaminathan on a number of key points, and the association said that in the case of a failure to provide a clear response, it reserves the right to initiate prosecution under sections of the Indian Penal Code and Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Read more …

It’s getting hard to know who allows it and who doesn’t anymore.

Indian Health Regulator Removes Ivermectin from Its Covid-19 Protocol (NC)

India’s Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has executed a policy reversal that could have massive implications for the battle against covid-19, not only in India but around the world. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives, are at providing stake. Providing no explanation whatsoever, the DGHS has overhauled its COVID-19 treatment guidelines and removed almost all of the repurposed medicines it had previously recommended for treating asymptomatic and mild cases. They include the antibiotic doxycycline, hydroxychloroquine zinc, ivermectin and even multivitamins. The only medicines that are still recommended for early treatment are cold medicines, antipyretics such as paracetamol and inhaled budesonide.

“No other covid-specific medication [is] required,” say the new guidelines, which also discourage practitioners from prescribing unnecessary tests such as CT scans. “Patients are advised to seek tele consultation; and Covid-19 appropriate behaviour must be observed such as mask, strict hand hygiene and physical distancing… [Patients are also advised to maintain] a healthy diet with proper hydration… [and] to stay connected [with family] and engage in positive talks through phone, video-calls, etc.”

The decision to remove ivermectin, multivitamins and zinc from the treatment guidelines is hard to comprehend given the current state of play in India — unless, of course, you assume After suffering one of the worst covid-19 outbreaks since the pandemic began, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, India is not just flattening the curve, it is crushing it. And the widespread use of ivermectin, a potent anti-viral and anti-inflammatory with an excellent safety profile, appears to have played an instrumental role.

Read more …

“..in the entire class of coronaviruses that includes CoV-2, the CGG-CGG combination has never been found naturally..”

Oh, Once Again Right -Rank Corruption And Lies (Denninger)

“In the case of the gain-of-function supercharge, other sequences could have been spliced into this same site. Instead of a CGG-CGG (known as double CGG) that tells the protein factory to make two arginine amino acids in a row, you’ll obtain equal lethality by splicing any one of 35 of the other two-word combinations for double arginine.” Yep. And here’s the rub – while this is a “preferred” (lowest energy) combination for human cells it is not in other animals. Biology is a thermodynamic process as is everything else in the universe. For instance, your body prefers to burn glucose rather than fats; that is, the process by which ATP is generated prefers glucose or glycogen over lipids (fat.) Why? It’s easier, metabolically. If you are out of glycogen (what glucose is stored as), and those stores are very limited, then your body will burn fats.

In addition you body will not store fat (which also requires energy) until it fills up the glycogen stores for the same reason — it is more efficient. That’s thermodynamics folks — and everything in the universe follows those laws. That which is easier is always preferred over that which is harder, or another way to put it is that all things, absent input, go from higher energy states to lower ones. We call that “entropy” and it’s part and parcel of thermodynamics which tell us that there is no such thing as a free lunch – indeed, you can’t even break even. If the insertion takes place naturally, say through recombination, then one of those 35 other sequences is far more likely to appear; CGG is rarely used in the class of coronaviruses that can recombine with CoV-2.

In fact, in the entire class of coronaviruses that includes CoV-2, the CGG-CGG combination has never been found naturally. That means the common method of viruses picking up new skills, called recombination, cannot operate here. A virus simply cannot pick up a sequence from another virus if that sequence isn’t present in any other virus. I did not know back in early 2020 that there were no other coronaviruses found naturally that had the CGG-CGG pairing. I did know that it was not the preferred coding for that amino acid in other potential candidate source or pass-through animals than humans, and it was on that basis that I put forward early in 2020 that the odds of this virus naturally jumping to humans as a result of infecting other animals was statistically non-existent since recombination in those animals with that pairing was impossible.

Oh sure, anything can happen, but the odds of it happening are basically nil. That was the basis on which I stated that I believed it was a lab leak; no other explanation was logical. But now we know that the most-common means by which viruses mutate, which occurs when one cell is infected by two or more viruses at once (called “recombination”) could not have occurred in humans at all as the viruses must be compatible to do that and all the other coronaviruses lack that sequence. Therefore it could not have happened that way; you can’t exchange for what’s not there. Could it have occurred by just wild random chance instead of recombination? Perhaps. But damned unlikely — like asteroid strike unlikely.

Read more …

A new twist: “Beyond protecting public health, the Constitution in no way recognizes a person’s right to jeopardize another’s life and health..”

From what I hear, resistance to vaccines is high here, as things go, they’ll never get above 50% vaccinated. But tourism!

Greek Leaders Take Stand On Mandatory Vaccination (K.)

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hinted Tuesday that the government could make vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory for healthcare professionals and nursing home carers. Speaking during a debate on a bill on the digital Covid certificate, Mitsotakis said that the government is mulling the mandatory vaccination of workers working in hospitals and clinics, as well as in elderly care units. “The government will make a decision in a sensitive manner, setting public health as a top priority,” he told lawmakers.


Earlier Tuesday, President Katerina Sakellaropoulou also weighed in on the issue of compulsory vaccination during a conversation with the premier at the Presidential Palace, saying that the Constitution does not give anyone the right to put the lives of others at risk. “Beyond protecting public health, the Constitution in no way recognizes a person’s right to jeopardize another’s life and health,” said Sakellaropoulou, previously a high-ranking judge who also served as president of the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court.

Read more …

Politics likes to push the responsibility onto the private sector.

Segregated Dining In NYC (DM)

Some bars and restaurants in New York City have begun segregating diners, creating separate seating areas where vaccinated customers can mingle while the unvaccinated have to remain outdoors or behind plexiglass. It came after bars were last month given the go-ahead by New York State to operate at 100% capacity and remain open until 4am. But while state law now says that vaccinated parties in bars and restaurants do not have to be socially distanced, bars must allow six feet of distancing or appropriate physical barriers for unvaccinated customers. It means that bars are under pressure to demand proof of vaccination to maximize the number of people who can fit inside.

And while the new policies might sound good in theory, they don’t make much sense from a legal, and, in some cases, a health standpoint. State laws do not require proof of vaccination at ‘indoor catered events of 250 or less’, meaning customers could just claim to be vaccinated to get better seats. And even if restaurants and bars could could enforce policies based on who is and who isn’t vaccinated, health experts say being indoors, segregated or not, presents the same risk of infection, particularly for the unvaccinated crowd. The policies seem to be taking different forms at different bars, with some reserving their indoor seating exclusively for the vaccinated in a bid to once again take full advantage of their indoor space.

Llama San in Manhattan’s West Village, for example, is asking that in order to seat its dining room close indoor capacity, diners are asked to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. ‘We believe this will help bring peace of mind to you and your guests to fully enjoy your dining experience with us,’ the restaurant says on its Resy. ‘Similarly, the entirety of our staff has been vaccinated or will provide frequent negative covid tests.’

Read more …

Daszak is everywhere.

Beijing’s Useful Idiots (Unherd)

Only now is acceptance emerging that the science establishment colluded to dismiss the lab leak hypothesis as a conspiracy theory, assisted by prominent experts with clear conflicts of interest, patsy politicians and a pathetic media that mostly failed to do its job. And yet, at the heart of this scandal lie some of the world’s most influential science journals. These should provide a forum for pulsating debate as experts explore and test theories, especially on something as contentious and fascinating as the possible origins of a global pandemic. Instead, some have played a central role in shutting down discussion and discrediting alternative views on the origins, with disastrous consequences for our understanding of events.

Many scientists have been dismayed by their actions. “It is very important to talk about the scientific journals — I think they are partially responsible for the cover-up,” said Virginie Courtier-Orgogozo, a leading French evolutionary biologist and key member of the Paris Group of scientists challenging the established view on these issues. The rejection of the lab leak hypothesis, she argues, in many places was not due to Trump’s intervention but the result of “respectable scientific journals not accepting to discuss the matter”.

The Paris Group, for instance, submitted a letter to The Lancet in early January signed by 14 experts from around the world calling for an open debate, arguing that “the natural origin is not supported by conclusive arguments and that a lab origin cannot be formally discarded”. This does not seem contentious. But it was rejected on the basis it was “not a priority for us”. When the authors queried this decision, it was reassessed and returned without peer review by editor-in-chief Richard Horton with a terse dismissal saying “we have agreed to uphold our original decision to let this go”. The authors ended up publishing their statement on a pre-print site.

Yet this is the same prestigious journal that published a now infamous statement early last year attacking “conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin“. Clearly, this was designed to stifle debate. It was signed by 27 experts but later turned out to have been covertly drafted by Peter Daszak, the British scientist with extensive ties to Wuhan Institute of Virology. To make matters worse, The Lancet then set up a commission on the origins — and incredibly, picked Daszak to chair its 12-person task force, joined by five others who signed that statement dismissing ideas the virus was not a natural occurrence.

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“Biden has signaled no desire to rush into the decades-long dispute.”

China, Russia to Take Up Korea Issue Together (NW)

China and Russia have signaled a greater desire to work together on the issues plaguing the neighboring Korean Peninsula amid uncertainties that continue to surround U.S. President Joe Biden’s approach to the region. A readout published Tuesday by the Chinese Foreign Ministry detailed a conversation the previous day between Special Representative on Korean Peninsula Affairs Liu Xiaoming and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov “to exchange views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula.” “Recognizing the cooperation on the Peninsula issue as a major component of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era,” the statement said, “Liu reaffirmed China’s willingness to enhance communication and coordination with Russia in a joint effort to maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula, and play constructive roles in promoting the political settlement of the Peninsula issue.”

Morgulov “stressed that the two countries’ positions are highly consistent, and the cooperation on the Peninsula issue has been fruitful,” according to the Chinese side. “He also expressed the readiness of his country to strengthen coordination and cooperation with China through bilateral and multilateral channels to move the Peninsula situation to a more positive direction.” The Russian Foreign Ministry also shared an account of the call, during which the two sides were said to have “reaffirmed their mutual disposition to deepen cooperation between Russia and China in the interests of a comprehensive settlement of the problems of this subregion on the basis of existing joint initiatives.”

The exchange comes just over two weeks after Biden hosted South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House for their debut summit. While both leaders have eagerly sought to reemphasize their nations’ longstanding alliance, Moon has appealed to Biden to further a now-frozen peace process launched by his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. Nearly three years after the historic meeting between the two men, Biden inherits a U.S.-North Korea dialogue that has unraveled. Facing an array of domestic crises plaguing the economy, public health and civil society, as well as pressing foreign policy issues involving China, Russia and Iran, Biden has signaled no desire to rush into the decades-long dispute.

Read more …

Deep state.

Blinken Says 100s of Sanctions Will Remain on Iran Despite Talks (Antiwar)

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said even if the US rejoins the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, “hundreds” of sanctions would still remain on Iran, including Trump-era measures. “I would anticipate that, even in the event of a return to compliance with the JCPOA, hundreds of sanctions remain in place, including sanctions imposed by the Trump administration,” Blinken told a Senate hearing. Blinken’s remarks are just his latest bad faith comment about the indirect negotiations between the US and Iran that have been ongoing since April. Because the Biden administration refuses to lift all Trump-era sanctions, the talks are being dragged out.

Blinken and other Biden officials justify their refusal to lift all of Trump’s sanctions by claiming they will only lift measures that are “consistent” with the economic relief Iran expects from the JCPOA. “If they are not inconsistent with the JCPOA, they will remain unless and until Iran’s behavior changes,” Blinken said. The Trump administration imposed an enormous number of sanctions on Iran. Some were implemented over Tehran’s nuclear program, while others were put in place over claims of “terrorism” and alleged human rights violations. From the start of negotiations, the Biden administration has been clear that it is not going to lift all human rights and terror sanctions.

One terror-related measure the Biden administration is reportedly unwilling to lift is the designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a “foreign terrorist organization.” But the IRGC designation is a sweeping measure, as it subjects current and former members of the military organization to US sanctions. Keeping the IRGC designation would likely not be acceptable to Tehran, especially after the June presidential elections, when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected to be replaced by a more hardline candidate.

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“The DOJ is said to be after a host of materials that would have been used during the pitching process to publishers – including various contracts and documents.”

Federal Prosecutors Subpoena Material From Andrew Cuomo’s Book (DM)

The U.S. Department of Justice has subpoenaed material connected to a memoir written by the Democratic governor of New York Andrew Cuomo, as part of an investigation into a possible cover-up of COVID deaths in the state’s nursing homes. Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York are said to have requested communications associated with Cuomo’s book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic. The DOJ is said to be after a host of materials that would have been used during the pitching process to publishers – including various contracts and documents. The subpoenas have been issued as prosecutors continue to probe the the details of the nursing home debacle which was discussed in the memoir.

The governor’s office has been under multiple investigations as to a possible cover-up of the true number of deaths in nursing homes that could be attributed to COVID-19. State officials who helped with the editing of early versions of Cuomo’s book were among the individuals who received subpoenas for materials, The Wall Street Journal reported. It’s thought prosecutors might be interested in book-related materials because they will have captured a real-time snapshot of Cuomo’s work surrounding nursing homes. ‘If reflections memorialized in records and notes are inconsistent with what he was saying publicly or with disclosures to health or government officials, that is potentially problematic,’ said Michael Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor to the Journal.

Republican lawmakers have accused Cuomo’s administration of intentionally manipulating and obscuring the COVID fatality data. The data saw the intentional undercounting of thousands of deaths, in New York’s assisted-living facilities in an attempt to shield the governor from political criticism. Federal prosecutors began a criminal investigation into the governor’s alleged mismanagement of the state’s nursing homes during the pandemic in February. One month earlier, a report from New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office suggested that nursing home deaths were potentially undercounted by as much as half.

Read more …

A start?!

US State Sues To Have Google Declared A Public Utility (Y!)

The state of Ohio on Tuesday filed an unprecedented lawsuit calling on a local court to declare Google as much a public utility as an electric company. Google should be designated a public utility subject to government regulation regarding its search engine and other services, Ohio attorney general Dave Yost contended in the legal filing. Public utilities supply essential goods or services such as water or power, and are often effectively monopolies. “When you own the railroad or the electric company or the cellphone tower, you have to treat everyone the same and give everybody access,” Yost said in a release announcing the suit. Yost accused Google of favoring its own products, websites, and services in search results, putting competitors at a disadvantage. Google said the lawsuit had no basis in fact and that it will defend itself in court.


“AG Yost’s lawsuit would make Google Search results worse and make it harder for small businesses to connect directly with customers,” a company spokesman said in reply to an AFP inquiry. “Ohioans simply don’t want the government to run Google like a gas or electric company.” Ohio late last year was among some three dozen US states that filed a federal lawsuit accusing Google of abusing its market dominance. That case is still pending. France’s competition regulator fined Google 220 million euros ($267 million) on Monday for favoring its own services for placing online ads at the expense of rivals, as US tech giants face growing pressure in Europe and the United States. The penalty is part of a settlement reached after three media groups – News Corp, French daily Le Figaro and Belgium’s Groupe Rossel — accused Google in 2019 of abusing a dominant market position over ad sales for their websites and apps.

Read more …

 

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Magnets

 

 

 

 

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Apr 242021
 


John La Farge Girls Carrying a Canoe, Vaiala in Samoa 1891

 

India COVID Triple-Mutant May Be Much More Deadly, Resistant To Vaccines (ABI)
The West Does Not Have Any Moral High Ground Over China (OpIndia)
No Doctor, You’re Wrong (Denninger)
Big Pharma Employs Army Of Lobbyists To Block Generic Covid-19 Vaccines (IC)
Cuomo Blocks Release Of Covid Nursing Home Data Sent To Feds (NYP)
Putin Invites Zelensky To Moscow For Discussions On ‘Bilateral Relations’ (RT)
Pentagon Deploys More Forces to Afghanistan Over Fears of Taliban (Antiwar)
Biden’s Plan To Create Over 10 Million Well-Paying Jobs With His Clean Energy Initiative
Bitcoin Leads Massive Cryptocurrency Market Sell-off (RT)
Big Banks Charged Billions in Overdraft Fees During Pandemic (Pros.)
The Heroic Congressional Fight to Save the Rich (Taibbi)
Plato, Aristophanes and Aristotle on Money-Lust (Michael Hudson)
Anyone Still Wearing A Mask At This Point Is Probably Just Super Ugly (BBee)

 

 

 

 

“..two triple-mutant varieties..”, an “immune escape variant”.

India COVID Triple-Mutant May Be Much More Deadly, Resistant To Vaccines (ABI)

Scientists found two triple-mutant varieties in patient samples in four states: Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, and Chhattisgarh. Researchers in the country have dubbed it the “Bengal strain” and say it has the potential to be even more infectious than the double-mutant variant. This is because three COVID variants have merged to form a new, possibly deadlier variant. The Times of India spoke to Vinod Scaria, a researcher at the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in India, who said that the triple mutant was also an “immune escape variant” – a strain that helps the virus attach to human cells and hide from the immune system.


He added that it could have evolved from the double-mutant variant – which experts say is likely behind the recent surge of COVID in the country . Sreedhar Chinnaswamy, a researcher from the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in India, told the Times of India that the variant also carried the E484K mutation, a characteristic found in both the South African and Brazilian variants. “In other words, you may not be safe from this variant even if you were previously infected by another strain, or even if you have been vaccinated,” said Chinnaswamy.

Read more …

View from India. Talk about condescending language:

Merkel said, “Of course, we have only allowed India to become such a large pharmaceutical producer in the first place, also from the European side, in the expectation that this should then also be complied with.”

The West Does Not Have Any Moral High Ground Over China (OpIndia)

The United States of America has projected its geopolitical rivalry with China as a great conflict between good and evil, between liberty and tyranny. The USA and other western countries claim to care a great deal about human rights but quite clearly, they do not care enough about the human right to life. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that western emphasis on human rights is one humoungous farce. At a time when India is suffering a tragedy dealing with the pandemic, western countries have chosen to offer sermons and lectures instead of sympathy and support. German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued veiled threats on Thursday. Amidst the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, she said that there are concerns that India will not be able to meet pharmaceutical demands in her country and they will have to ‘rethink’ their policies should that be the case.

Merkel said, “Of course, we have only allowed India to become such a large pharmaceutical producer in the first place, also from the European side, in the expectation that this should then also be complied with. If that is not the case now, we will have to rethink.” But Germany is not the only country that has been making such insensitive remarks. The USA has enforced an embargo on the export of raw materials essential for the production of Covid-19 vaccines, which jeopardised vaccine production in India. CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII), Adar Poonawalla, appealed to the Biden administration to lift the embargo but to no effect. When asked about the matter, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, “We have a special responsibility to the American people.”

“It’s, of course, not only in our interest to see Americans vaccinated, it’s in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated,” he said. “Number one, we have a special responsibility to the American people. Number two, the American people, this country has been hit harder than any other country around the world — more than 550,000 deaths, tens of millions of infections in this country alone,” Price added. The western media, which demonises India over its nationalist concerns, does not see any dichotomy with the approach by the USA and has been remained conspicuously silent over the matter. US concerns are understandable but it is starkly at odds with what it preaches to other countries.

Read more …

Fun with numbers:

“..your base survival rate was not 98% since that presumes you got infected — it was in fact 99.8% like you would survive the year without dying from Covid to start with!”

No Doctor, You’re Wrong (Denninger)

In addition people love to mix relative and absolute risk to deceive people on a regular basis and in every case doing so is a fraud. This was repeatedly done in “selling” the vaccines to the public. You must compare like with like or you’re lying. For example if the risk of death if you do not get the vaccine is 1/50 (2%) and the risk if you DO get the vaccine is 1/500 (0.2%) then while it is true that your risk of dying has been cut by 90% you only had a 2% risk of dying if infected in the first place. That is, you were going to survive 98% of the time; now you will survive 99.8%. That sounds like a fabulous improvement except if only 10% of the people got the infection in a year with no vaccine to start with then your base survival rate was not 98% since that presumes you got infected — it was in fact 99.8% like you would survive the year without dying from Covid to start with!

That is there’s only an 0.2% risk of death that can possibly be improved upon! Thus you must now rate the risk of the vaccine doing evil things to you against the 2/1,000 chance of death, not 2/100 since if you get stabbed that risk is certain where infection is not. But for those who are not morbid isn’t 2/100 — in fact the absolute risk if you are infected and not particularly morbid is, by the CDC, 1/50,000. This is confirmed by the NY Coroner data, which when back-computed winds up in approximately the same place; for statistical purposes they are the same, and that is good because independent confirmation from actual “boots on the ground” in confirmation of a theoretical framework provides assurance that the “best guess” is likely close to reality. Thus I am quite comfortable with that number.

The CDC also says that about 10% of the population (~33 million, approximately) people got Covid-19 in that they “tested positive” for it. I do not believe that number because it is based on PCR testing with extremely high Ct values and we know that results in lots of false positives. But assuming it is correct this means that the actual risk across one year is not 1/50,000 it is 1/500,000 since you’re only 10% likely to have gotten the infection. Again, this is by the CDC data, not my data. Note that if 2/3rds of those “positives” are false then the risk of death for a non-morbid person over a year would be approximately 1/1,250,000. These are vanishingly small odds. The CDC and so-called “experts” are all started out saying that the blood clot risk was 1-in-1,000,000.

Well, that appears to have been blatantly false too as the data on the mRNA shots says it’s far more-likely than that and that it is not confined to the J&J vaccine. As more data comes in it appears that risk is more like 1in 100,000-250,000. That’s a huge change and until it stabilizes, which will take several more months, I have no confidence in any of these figures whatsoever. I remind you that the difference between the jab and infection is that the risk from the jab is assured if you take it while the risk from infection it only occurs if you get the virus, which by the CDC again was 10% over the first year and will fall each year thereafter with successive reductions in those who are not immune either by vaccination or infection.

Read more …

“Currently, only 1 percent of coronavirus vaccines are going to low-income countries..”

Big Pharma Employs Army Of Lobbyists To Block Generic Covid-19 Vaccines (IC)

The pharmaceutical industry is pouring resources into the growing political fight over generic coronavirus vaccines.Newly filed disclosure forms from the first quarter of 2021 show that over 100 lobbyists have been mobilized to contact lawmakers and members of the Biden administration, urging them to oppose a proposed temporary waiver on intellectual property rights by the World Trade Organization that would allow generic vaccines to be produced globally. Pharmaceutical lobbyists working against the proposal include Mike McKay, a key fundraiser for House Democrats, now working on retainer for Pfizer, as well as several former staff members to the U.S. Office of Trade Representative, which oversees negotiations with the WTO.

Several trade groups funded by pharmaceutical firms have also focused closely on defeating the generic proposal, new disclosures show. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the International Intellectual Property Alliance, which all receive drug company money, have dispatched dozens of lobbyists to oppose the initiative.The push has been followed by a number of influential voices taking the side of the drug lobby. Last week, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., released a letter demanding that the administration “oppose any and all efforts aimed at waiving intellectual property rights.” Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chair, has similarly criticized the proposal, echoing many of the arguments of the drug industry.

Currently, only 1 percent of coronavirus vaccines are going to low-income countries, and projections show much of the world’s population may not be vaccinated until 2023 or 2024. In response, a coalition of countries, led by India and South Africa, have petitioned the WTO to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights on coronavirus-related medical products so that generic vaccines can be rapidly manufactured. The waiver requests a suspension of IP enforcement under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, treaty. If granted, local pharmaceutical plants could be granted compulsory licenses to produce coronavirus vaccines without the threat of being sued by the license holder.

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Just get rid of the man.

Cuomo Blocks Release Of Covid Nursing Home Data Sent To Feds (NYP)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office won’t reveal what it told the Justice Department about COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes, rejecting Freedom of Information requests from The Post and other media outlets — claiming in part that doing so would be an “invasion of personal privacy.” “Please be advised that portions of the records that respond to your request are exempt from disclosure pursuant to Public Officers Law § 87(2)(b) because, if disclosed, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,’” Jaclyn Clemmer, the governor’s record access officer, wrote in a denial response to The Post. The Associated Press received a similar denial letter.

Clemmer didn’t explain whose privacy might be invaded, or how. The Post did not request any personal ID information of nursing home residents. She also said the records sought were exempt from public disclosure because the release would “interfere with law enforcement investigations.” The Justice Department last year requested that New York and other states turn over data regarding COVID-19 infections and deaths inside nursing homes. The US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn and the state Assembly Judiciary Committee are also investigating claims that the Cuomo administration intentionally undercounted or lied about the number of nursing home residents killed by COVID.

Federal prosecutors initiated a probe after The Post exclusively revealed in February that Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, privately admitted to state Democratic lawmakers that his administration withheld the total nursing home death toll from COVID-19 from them due to a pending federal probe. Just weeks before, state Attorney General Letitia James issued a stinging report that found Cuomo officials undercounted the COVID-linked deaths of New York’s nursing home residents by 50 percent. Within hours, a defensive state Health Department Commissioner Howard Zucker added thousands to the death toll.

Read more …

Troops gone, Zelensky dismantled, Putin winning.

Putin Invites Zelensky To Moscow For Discussions On ‘Bilateral Relations’ (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has revealed that he is ready to welcome his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky “at any convenient time in Moscow.” The suggestion comes after Kiev offered to meet in war-torn Donbass. Speaking before talks with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday, Putin said Zelensky should first discuss the problems of Donbass with the heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics before speaking with representatives of third countries. He included Russia in this category. “And if we are talking about the development of bilateral relations, then, please, we will receive the president of Ukraine in Moscow at any time convenient for him,” Putin said. “If President Zelensky wants to start restoring relations, Russia will only welcome it.”

The Russian leader’s statement comes after Zelensky suggested a summit “anywhere in the Ukrainian Donbass where the war is going on,” earlier this week. “Ukraine and Russia, despite their shared past, look to the future in different ways. We are us. You are you,” Zelensky said. “But this is not necessarily a problem; it is an opportunity. At the very least, an opportunity, before it is too late, to stop the murderous mathematics of future war losses.” [..] the self-declared Donetsk (DNR) and Lugansk People’s Republics (LNR) – are unrecognized by both Russia and Ukraine. However, according to Kiev, they are under the control of the Kremlin, a charge Moscow denies. Following Zelensky’s invite to Putin, the heads of both the DNR and LNR invited the Ukrainian leader to meet and hold talks in Donbass, suggesting he deals directly with them instead.

“I urge you, Mr. Zelensky, not to invite the leaders of third countries to the line of contact, but rather to go there yourself for an honest and open conversation with us,” said Denis Pushilin, the leader in Donetsk.

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They will never leave.

Pentagon Deploys More Forces to Afghanistan Over Fears of Taliban (Antiwar)

The US is deploying additional forces to Afghanistan and the surrounding regions to aid in President Biden’s plan to withdraw all combat troops by September 11th. Since Biden broke the US-Taliban peace deal by extending the withdrawal deadline, attacks against US forces in Afghanistan could start up again after May 1st, the original pull-out deadline. The Pentagon said that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved the deployment of a number of B-52 bombers to Afghanistan, two of which already arrived. Austin also ordered the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to stay in the Gulf region. “It would be foolhardy and imprudent not to assume that there could be resistance and opposition from the Taliban,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday.


On Thursday, the Taliban said it’s “too early” to say if they will start attacking US and NATO forces after May 1st, although the group has warned of “consequences” for Biden’s failure to meet the withdrawal deadline. February 8th marked the first full year that no US troops died in combat in Afghanistan since the war started. President Biden’s decision to extend the withdrawal deadline does little but risk US casualties. President Biden said he wants all troops out of Afghanistan by September 11th, but questions remain over the presence of Pentagon contractors, and US military officials have made clear that they want to maintain the ability to bomb targets in the country.

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Cui bono?

Biden’s Plan To Create Over 10 Million Well-Paying Jobs With His Clean Energy Initiative

President Joe Biden’s proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan is working its way through Congress. Biden’s primary goals are to improve and rebuild the nation’s deteriorating highways, bridges, tunnels, hospitals, airports, water systems, electricity grids and other important structures, while also saving the environment and creating millions of new jobs in the green and clean energy space. Biden is calling for solar and wind industries to become the new leaders of the U.S. economy. A big part of his “Build Back Better” program entails developing a “modern, resilient climate infrastructure and clean energy future that will create millions of good-paying union jobs.”

According to Biden’s green energy jobs plan, there are already three million people in the United States presently employed in the clean energy economy. Wind turbine service technician is No. 1 on the list of the fastest-growing occupations, as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Solar panel installers are in third place. “But, that is only the beginning of what is possible if we harness all of our talent and creativity,” Biden’s plan reads. “If executed strategically, our response to climate change can create more than 10 million well-paying jobs in the United States that will grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class enjoyed by communities across the country, not just in cities along the coasts.”

[..] Here are some of the examples how it will be accomplished. “This target prioritizes American workers. Meeting the 2030 emissions target will create millions of good-paying, middle class, union jobs—line workers who will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines for a clean, modern, resilient grid; workers capping abandoned wells and reclaiming mines and stopping methane leaks; autoworkers building modern, efficient, electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure to support them; engineers and construction workers expanding carbon capture and green hydrogen to forge cleaner steel and cement; and farmers using cutting-edge tools to make American soil the next frontier of carbon innovation.”

“The U.S. can create good-paying jobs and cut emissions and energy costs for families by supporting efficiency upgrades and electrification in buildings through support for job-creating retrofit programs and sustainable affordable housing, wider use of heat pumps and induction stoves, and adoption of modern energy codes for new buildings. The U.S. will also invest in new technologies to reduce emissions associated with construction, including for high-performance electrified buildings.” While new jobs may be added, there are concerns over workers who may lose their livelihoods. CBS News reported, “The oil sector is still the largest employer in the energy field.” Before the pandemic, there were more than 600,000 workers employed in the oil industry. Natural gas, fracking and coal-related positions account for hundreds of thousands of jobs that could be in jeopardy.

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Taxation fears?

Bitcoin Leads Massive Cryptocurrency Market Sell-off (RT)

The cryptocurrency market fell sharply on Friday amid concerns over new taxes that could be unveiled by US President Joe Biden, and after one of Turkey’s largest crypto exchanges went bust. The most popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin, fell below its key psychological threshold of $50,000 on Friday morning. As of 07:05 GMT bitcoin was down nearly 10% percent to trade at around $48,800, according to CoinDesk data. The drop has stalled bitcoin’s enormous rally, and it’s currently heading for the biggest weekly drop since February. The slide also sees bitcoin losing its market dominance. According to the data from price-tracking website CoinGecko, the ratio of bitcoin’s value to the overall crypto market cap has fallen below 50%. Other top crypto assets also took a dive on Friday. Second-largest cryptocurrency ethereum faced similar losses to bitcoin and was trading at $2,215.


The sharp drop came less than 24 hours after the currency hit a new all-time high. Ripple’s XRP saw the biggest drop among the top 10 cryptocurrencies. The third-largest digital currency plunged almost 20%. The drops came hours after reports emerged that President Biden was planning to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. According to the plan, capital gains taxes may be nearly doubled for people earning more than $1 million, triggering concerns that it will affect gains from digital assets. Other bad news weighing on the crypto market happened earlier this week, when Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex abruptly halted its trading operations, while its CEO Faruk Fatih Ozer left the country. The company said that it needed five working days to resume operations, but hundreds of thousands of investors fear that their assets may be lost.

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What kind of society allows this?

Big Banks Charged Billions in Overdraft Fees During Pandemic (Pros.)

Last week, the country’s largest banks announced their quarterly earnings, crushing estimates and expectations nearly across the board. It marked another surprisingly profitable quarter in what’s become quite a run since the coronavirus hit the U.S. over a year ago. Banks, to the surprise of nobody, have been among the first American institutions to recover, and have done so dramatically. Millions of working people lag behind. One of the more unheralded profit centers that has driven that money train is the return of overdraft fees. In the last three months of 2020, 12 of the 15 largest American banks, all of them with consumer-facing banking operations, reaped huge revenue just from slapping overdraft fees on needy and vulnerable Americans during the very worst days of the pandemic.

JPMorgan Chase, for example, made a stunning $1.5 billion in revenue on overdraft alone in 2020, according to recent FDIC filings. During that same period, Bank of America made $1.1 billion in profits, and Wells Fargo made $1.3 billion. The final three months of 2020, when the pandemic was at its most widespread and deadliest, were also the year’s most profitable, with all three of those banks pulling down over $300 million just in overdraft fees. So while Americans suffered through the worst wave of our worst public-health crisis in 100 years, with unemployment sky-high and intermittently lapsed federal benefits, the country’s biggest banks were gouging the poorest Americans for billions of dollars in punitive fees.

“Banks could’ve capped overdraft fees for a certain number of months, or had no fees during the pandemic, but they didn’t want to give up a dollar of overdraft revenue in any formal way,” said Rebecca Borné, senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending. “So what we see now is a return to business as usual, where our largest banks each took over a billion dollars out of the checking accounts of people during one of the worst years in our history. It’s a gobsmacking amount of money.” Overdraft is essentially a forced high-cost payday loan. When a bank customer overdraws their account, they can still pay for whatever put them over the limit, but they are assessed an overdraft fee, typically around $35, for the privilege. That is often imposed on an overdrafted amount of money even much smaller than that, and can be repeated every day that an account remains overdrawn. The other option would be to deny transactions based on nonsufficient funds, but that wouldn’t make the bank any money.

This uniquely profitable part of the banking sector almost exclusively targets the very poor. According to a 2017 study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 5 percent of all accounts have over 20 overdrafts a year, which produce 63.3 percent of all overdraft fees paid by consumers. Another 4.2 percent of bank accounts have over ten overdrafts a year and make up more than 15 percent of fees paid by consumers. Overdraft is a particularly pernicious form of predatory financial activity, functionally more exploitative and expensive than what we call the “alternative” financial sector of payday loans and check-cashing stores. As University of California, Irvine professor Mehrsa Baradaran writes in her book How the Other Half Banks, “If you consider the fee as a payment the customer makes for the extension of credit for the overdrawn amount, a 2008 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) study showed that these fees carry an effective APR in excess of 3,500 percent!”

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“He did it for all the wrong reasons,” says David Sirota of The Daily Poster, “but it was the one progressive thing he ever did.”

The Heroic Congressional Fight to Save the Rich (Taibbi)

Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey, made an inspired plea recently. The Harvard man and Alpha Epsilon Pi brother is a member of the so-called “SALT caucus,” a group of congressfolk threatening to hold up Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill if it doesn’t include a full repeal of a Donald Trump-imposed $10,000 cap on deductions of state and local taxes. “It is high time that Congress reinstates the state and local tax deduction, so we can get more dollars back into the pockets of so many struggling families,” intoned Gottheimer, one of 32 members of the SALT caucus, which includes 8 Republicans. Pressure on Biden to repeal the SALT cap has been amping up, mainly from tri-state Democrats like Gottheimer, fellow New Jerseyan Bill Pascrell, and Tom Suozzi of New York.

“No SALT, no deal!” the trio power-tweeted a few weeks back. Just a few days ago, Gottheimer even came up with a new way to argue the plan, offering to pay for the repeal of the SALT cap by increasing audits. “There is a way to do this by going after what people owe already,” he said. The effort by the “SALT caucus” to hold a $2 trillion relief bill hostage in order to help what they’re calling “struggling families” in the “middle class” is just the latest development in a years-long saga revealing Congress at its phoniest and most shameless. This issue that “means so much to the American people,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is really a niche matter concerning a sliver of the most well-off Americans in a handful of blue states, who were made the target of a political prank of sorts by the Trump administration in 2017.

There are a lot of people who own homes in blue states, could use the deduction, probably don’t think of themselves as rich, and would balk at the idea that repealing the cap would be a luxury giveaway. The story has been framed in the press as more of an everyman issue, and the fact that most of the money at stake involves people at the very top of the curve has been obscured. The start of this story was classic Trump. Looking for ways to help pay for his own monster tax break at the end of 2017, the Donald decided to poke Democrats with a long stick, via the cap on the unlimited state and local tax deduction. “He did it for all the wrong reasons,” says David Sirota of The Daily Poster, “but it was the one progressive thing he ever did.”

Economist Stephen Moore, who advised Trump, called the cap “Death to Democrats.” On October 11th, 2017, Trump explained to an approving Sean Hannity that he, Trump, was just trying to help states with fiscal problems help themselves. Note the loving repetition here of the word, “borrowing”: “You know, you have some really well-run states that have very little borrowing. Some have no borrowing, very little borrowing. And it’s unfair that a state that is well-run is really subsidizing states that have been horribly mismanaged. I won’t use names, but we understand the names. But there are some states that have hundreds of millions and billions of dollars in borrowing.”

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Very long, but hey, from Michael Hudson!

Plato, Aristophanes and Aristotle on Money-Lust (Michael Hudson)

Delphi’s warning that lust for monetary silver (philarguria) was the only thing that could destroy Sparta was echoed by Plato, Socrates and other philosophers accusing wealth addiction of leading to greedy and hubristic behavior that impoverished society at large. Creditors were singled out for reducing debtors to bondage and taking their land. Near the outset of Plato’s Republic (1 at 331c-d, written c. 380 BC), Socrates (who was put to death nearly twenty years earlier, in 399) discusses the morality of repaying debts in circumstances where this would lead to anti-social consequences. Cephalus, a businessman living in the commercial Piraeus district, states the typical ethic that it is fair to pay back what one has borrowed.

Socrates asks if it would be just to return weapons to a man who has become a lunatic. If a madman is intent on murder, Socrates asks, will not returning his weapon to him enable him to commit unjust acts? In view of the likely adverse social consequences, paying back such a creditor would be the wrong thing to do. It all depends on what creditors will do with their returns, and how their actions affect society. Book 8 of the Republicelaborates upon this discussion, describing how wealth leads its owners to act in ways detrimental to society.

In contrast to 20th-century price theory assuming diminishing enjoyment or “marginal utility” for each additional unit of a specific consumer good, Greek philosophy saw monetary wealth as being insatiable, becoming more addictive and compulsive. In Aristophanes’ last play, Ploutos(written in 388), the character Karion observes that one may become over-satiated with food – bread, sweets, cakes, figs and barley – but no one ever has enough wealth. His friend Chremelos (the root of whose name is chrema, exchange value and hence money-wealth) observes:

Give a man a sum of thirteen talents,

and all the more he hungers for sixteen.

Give him sixteen, and he must needs have forty,

or life’s not worth living, so he says. (lines 189- 93)

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“.. if you’re still wearing a mask at this point, let’s be honest: you probably have a very homely face,” said Dr. Vance Ryder, a very handsome doctor not wearing a mask. ”

Anyone Still Wearing A Mask At This Point Is Probably Just Super Ugly (BBee)

A new study found that anyone still wearing a mask at this point is probably just super ugly. The study looked at thousands of Americans still wearing masks and thousands who have long since thrown away all their masks. The findings were conclusive: the vast majority of people who still choose to wear a mask everywhere they go were much uglier than those who are currently blessing the world by letting everyone see their beautiful faces. “Look, the vaccine is out there, numbers are way down, your risk of dying is very, very low — if you’re still wearing a mask at this point, let’s be honest: you probably have a very homely face,” said Dr. Vance Ryder, a very handsome doctor not wearing a mask.


“You might have what we call a ‘face for radio’ in the business, if you know what I’m saying.” “Like, let’s just be honest here. We’re not gonna judge you. If you want to keep wearing the mask because you have a sad, no-good, loser face, fine. No one is going to stop you. Just don’t keep pushing for mask mandates for those who have incredibly good-looking faces.” The study also found that those who no longer wear a mask are tremendous, beautiful, “maybe the best-looking people of all time.”

Read more …

 

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Plagiarism

 


Leonardo 1489


Mars 2021

 

 

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Mar 292021
 


William Eggleston Coupe de Ville, Los Angeles 1964

 

Cargo Ship Blocking The Suez Is Partially Floated – Suez Canal Authority (CNBC)
The Great Unvaxxed (TE Creus)
Pandemic Upsurge Hits Europe Recovery Hopes (Y!)
First Covid Jab Cuts Infection Risk By 62% In England Care Home Residents (G.)
Fauci and Chinese Counterpart Envision Lengthy Covid Restrictions (JTN)
Self-Isolation After Covid Contact Will Be Necessary For ‘Years’ (Ind.)
Madeira Lets In Tourists Who Can Show Covid ‘Vaccine Passport’ (G.)
Congress Demands Tech CEOs Censor Internet Even More Aggressively (Greenwald)
Ray Dalio Warns Bitcoin Ban ‘Likely’ (F.)
One Man Stands In The Way Of Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal Investigation (IC)
In Quest Of A Multipolar Economic World Order (Saker)
Stoltenberg Comes Clean On China “Opportunity” For NATO (SCF)
The Lawyer Who Took On Chevron Marks His 600th Day Under House Arrest (G.)

 

 

Vaccine job interview

 

 

 

 

Full Moon.

Cargo Ship Blocking The Suez Is Partially Floated – Suez Canal Authority (CNBC)

The giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal was partially refloated early Monday, days after the vessel got stuck and brought a vital global trade route to a standstill. A statement by the Suez Canal Authority said the ship, known as the Ever Given, “responded to the pulling and towing maneuvers.” It added that the ship’s course has been corrected by 80% and further maneuvers will resume when the water level rises later in the day. The statement followed an earlier tweet by maritime services company Inchcape, which said the Ever Given was refloated and being secured.

It remains unclear what the condition of the stranded ship is and when the canal would be open to traffic, with Inchcape saying that “more information will follow once they are known.” Efforts to free the mega vessel have lasted for nearly a week. The ship became stuck last Tuesday after running aground while entering the Suez Canal from the Red Sea. Ever Given is one of the largest container ships in the world. It is a 220,000-ton mega ship nearly a quarter-mile long with a 20,000 container capacity. The ship completely blocked the canal that’s home to as much as 12% of the world’s seaborne trade, and caused a traffic jam with hundreds of ships waiting to enter the Suez.

[..] Experts told CNBC that problems caused by the Suez blockage will not immediately ease when the Ever Given is freed. Tim Huxley, director of Mandarin Shipping, said it will take “some time” for traffic that has built up to cross the narrow canal. And when those ships and tankers arrive at their destinations, ports will likely face congestion that will also take time to clear, he added. “You normally have about 50 or so ships a day going through the canal, obviously at the moment it’s about 300 ships backed up … this is an enormous traffic jam, which is at both ends of the canal,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday. “This will take quite awhile for the whole supply chain to get back to normal and that’s gonna have an impact on manufacturers, retailers right across the board,” said Huxley.

Ever Given

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A fantasy.

The Great Unvaxxed (TE Creus)

The vaccine was a resounding success. Yes, there had been a final death rate of 10% among the vaccinated, but this was mostly among the elderly or the already ill, so it was probably not the vaccine’s fault, and if it was, no one could prove it one way or another, and even if they could, well, the vaccine manufacturers were not liable to lawsuits due to the agreements they had made with the various governments. In any case, the pandemic had ended, that was for sure. Of course the masks and the lockdown mandates continued to be enforced; the reason was that while the pandemic had most certainly been defeated, the virus still existed in its natural form somewhere out there, and so it was vital to continue with the safety procedures to avoid any possible resurgence of the disease. So what? People got used to it, as they had gotten used to so many other things before that.

And was wearing a mask in the end much worse than wearing a helmet or a safety belt? Was being forced to stay at home for a few months every year much different than being forced to be at the office working for five days out of the seven in the week? Rules are rules, and those were not as bad as others that had been instituted in the past. But there was something that worried the authorities. While most people had predictably complied with the mandatory vaccination campaign, there were a few groups that had refused them, alleging religious or health reasons, and found refuge in rural communities living off the grid. They had abandoned the use of mobile and network technology and so could not be traced so easily, and, since non-digital cash had been abolished, they appeared to have returned to a form of commerce based in the exchange of physical goods.

At first, the authorities ignored them; most people saw them as a minority of loser hicks, “anti-vaxxers” as they had been called in earlier pre-scientific times, and since it was unlikely that too many among the masses would opt for such a harsh lifestyle away from the comforts of modern urban life, they were not seen as a menace. But what happened, in the end, was that rumours started to appear, even in the cities, about small communities where no one needed to wear masks, and people were dancing and smiling, and food was delicious and natural and people were even – gasp! – falling in love and procreating in natural ways.

Of course this was an obvious and mendacious falsity, but the authorities could not permit such fairy tales to gain acceptance among the people at large. So they started to persecute “the great unvaxxed”, as they called them, or the “free renegades” as they preferred to call themselves. Their communities were dispersed. Their leaders were arrested. Planting organic, unmodified seeds became illegal.

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After a 6-month lockdown, Greece now has higher case numbers than ever.

Pandemic Upsurge Hits Europe Recovery Hopes (Y!)

An upsurge in new coronavirus cases is forcing governments across Europe into new, damaging lockdowns that threaten to delay a much hoped-for return to growth, economists say. The plan was that mass vaccination programmes would turn the tide on the pandemic, allowing locked-down consumers free rein after months penned up at home. Instead the virus has embarked on a third wave which is proving more difficult to bring under control. French President Emmanuel Macron warned Thursday that the European Union would have to do more and beef up its already massive 750 billion euro ($885 billion) virus recovery fund as a result. The EU had made a major effort after the first wave last year, Macron said, but “following the second and third waves… we will no doubt have to add to our response”.

In September, as the economy picked up sharply after a rapid reverse in the first wave, expectations were high that by the middle of this year it would be solidly back on track, thanks especially to the vaccine rollout. Just a couple of weeks ago, European Central Bank head Christine Lagarde was even talking about a “firm rebound in activity in the second half of the year”. Now the EU’s strongest economies — Germany, France and Italy — have reimposed restrictions and the vaccine programme in Europe is mired in a blame game over supplies. Credit insurer Euler Hermes estimates that the EU is now seven weeks adrift of its target to have 70 percent of the population vaccinated by the end of the summer, compared with five weeks in February.

It estimates the delay will cost the bloc’s 27 member states some 123 billion euros this year. “If you compare us with the US, where the outlook is so much more positive, we are falling further behind on the recovery because of this third wave,” said Charlotte de Montpellier, economist with Dutch bank ING. ING now expects eurozone growth of 3.0 percent this year, down more than half a percentage point from its previous estimate. Most of the growth will also come from the third quarter, slightly later too, ING added. Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics, said he does not expect the bloc to return to pre-pandemic activity levels before the second half of 2022, a year behind the US.


As of March 28, covid19 cases in Greece per million people are higher than Germany, the UK and US. Chart shows 7 day rolling average

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“..what you want to do is reduce the total number of people who’ve been infected..”

Is that so? Isn’t it about the number of vulnerable people?

First Covid Jab Cuts Infection Risk By 62% In England Care Home Residents (G.)

A government-funded study of care home residents in England has found that their risk of infection with Covid-19 – either symptomatic or asymptomatic – fell by 62% five weeks after they received their first Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine dose. Those who were infected after having the vaccine may also be less likely to transmit Covid-19, initial findings showed. The study, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, is key, given that most clinical trials and observational studies evaluated the impact of the vaccines on symptomatic infections, but whether the vaccines can reduce asymptomatic infections – which play a crucial role in the spread of the virus – is still unclear. “It’s helpful to look at people who don’t have symptoms because what you want to do is reduce the total number of people who’ve been infected,” noted UCL’s Dr Laura Shallcross, an author of the analysis.

Researchers tracked more than 10,400 care home residents in England (with an average age of 86) between December and March, comparing the number of infections occurring in vaccinated and unvaccinated groups – using data retrieved from routine monthly PCR testing. Both vaccines reduced the risk of infection by about 56% at 28-34 days after the first dose, and 62% at 35-48 days. The effect is maintained for at least seven weeks, the authors concluded in their analysis, which has not yet been peer-reviewed. This data is notable, given older adults with underlying illnesses have largely been excluded from vaccine trials. It also supports the UK’s decision to extend dose intervals beyond what was studied in clinical trials.

[..] In clinical trials, both vaccines were found to be very effective in reducing the risk of severe illness and death. But understanding whether these interventions can thwart the spread of the disease is imperative to public health policy, given vaccinating the world will take a long time, the risk of vaccine-resistant virus variants emerging and percolating, and that vaccines have not yet been proved safe and effective in children.

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“to do that … will take about two or three years time with global collaboration.”

Fauci and Chinese Counterpart Envision Lengthy Covid Restrictions (JTN)

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci on a recent public health panel signaled common ground with a renowned Chinese doctor and public health administrator on the matter of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, with both Fauci and his Chinese counterpart suggesting that those restrictions could continue for many months or even years. Fauci in early March appeared on the virtual panel, titled “The Future of Health,” hosted by the University of Edinburgh. Also present in the meeting was Chinese pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan, who has been at the forefront of China’s response to the pandemic and who has been referred to by national spokeswoman Hua Chunying as “China’s Fauci.”

Zhong has a long career in the Chinese Communist Party hierarchy, having served for years in delegatory positions in both the CCP’s National Congress and its National People’s Congress. He has also served on numerous state research initiatives and is the founder of the state-funded Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases. On the panel, Fauci and Zhong both expressed hopes that COVID-19 restrictions worldwide would continue well into the future. Zhong himself claimed that efforts to develop natural immunity to COVID-19 are inadvisable from a national policy standpoint. “It doesn’t work this way,” he said. “And it’s not realistic, and less scientific, and … inhumane.” Zhong argued that “mass vaccinations” are the “commonsense” approach to engendering herd immunity in the population, but “to do that … will take about two or three years time with global collaboration.”

“I have noticed in other countries,” the doctor said elsewhere, “that actions [are] not so strict enough. So that will be not enough to stop the spreading of [the virus].” Fauci himself echoed those concerns, warning against the danger of what he said was “jump[ing] the gun or do[ing] it too quickly” and seeming to imply that countries should keep COVID-19 measures in place even if they appear to have suppressed the virus within their borders. “It is important to realize,” Fauci claimed, “that variants arise, and if you suppress the virus in one country, but it is allowed to spread uninhibited in other areas of the world, sooner or later, the variants, the new lineages, the mutants, will come back and rekindle the outbreak, even in countries that seem to have it under control. So we still have a considerable amount of task in front of us.”

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Still no mention whatsoever of prophylactics.

Self-Isolation After Covid Contact Will Be Necessary For ‘Years’ (Ind.)

People will have to self-isolate after coming into contact with Covid-19 for many years as the UK learns how to “live with this virus”, a government adviser has warned. Mark Woolhouse, a professor of epidemiology, said the test-and-trace system is here to stay – as are some social distancing measures. He also admitted to being “nervous about a full relaxation in June”, calling the idea of emerging from the lockdown “in one great bound” wide of the mark. “I still suspect that looking forward – and I am talking now right through 2021 and into the years ahead – that we are still going to have to be alert to coronavirus,” Prof Woolhouse said. “There are still going to be situations where we might need to use personal protective equipment, we might well need to do some kind of social distancing, put some kind of biosecurity measures in place.”


It would also be necessary to “maintain our capacity to test and trace, and particularly to isolate people who are infected,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “That final thing is going to remain important for the entire future – that, when we get cases of novel coronavirus, that those people are then going to have to be asked to self-isolate and their contacts.” Prof Woolhouse, who sits on the SPI-M modelling group, which feeds advice into the main Sage body, also said vaccine certificates to enter nightclubs and other venues might be necessary. It’s certainly something we have to consider seriously as part of a wider package of measures that are designed to make our activities safe, he warned. And, on another lockdown, he said: We should regard that as a failure of public health policy if we have to go that route again.

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“..visitors who can show either a vaccination certificate or proof they have recently recovered from the virus…”

Being healthy and strong and having natural immunity has been rendered fully meaningless.

Madeira Lets In Tourists Who Can Show Covid ‘Vaccine Passport’ (G.)

Sara Pedro is sat at a beach-side restaurant with friends. It is her first time dining out in three months. She is in Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal, having left her home city of Lisbon’s strict coronavirus restrictions to take advantage of the more relaxed atmosphere on the Atlantic island and its “green corridor” for visitors who can show either a vaccination certificate or proof they have recently recovered from the virus. “I came to Madeira because in continental Portugal we are under absolute lockdown, so there was a certain fatigue about it,” she says. Sara, who has recovered from Covid-19, entered Madeira without having to take a PCR test, as would typically be required. Instead, she presented a medical certificate proving she has been in contact with the virus.

The island has a 7pm curfew, but in its capital of Funchal the esplanades are full of people having coffee in the sun as customers go in and out of the shops. It’s in stark contrast with the empty streets and closed shopfronts across mainland Portugal, which is still under tough restrictions imposed on 15 January to tackle what was then the world’s worst coronavirus surge. “Obviously, border closures are necessary for extreme situations, but I think it’s time to bet on safe tourism. Why can’t this be done in other European countries?” Sara asks, as a waiter arrives with drinks.

Located off the coast of Morocco and more than 800km from mainland Portugal, Madeira is one of the few places in Europe accepting tourists – and since 18 February it has been operating a green corridor for tourists who have recovered from Covid-19 in the previous 90 days or who have been fully vaccinated against it, in a foretaste of what may be a future of vaccine passports for EU travel. Vaccinated travellers must present an immunisation certificate in English, validated in their home country, that includes their name, date of birth, type of vaccine, and the date (or dates) it was administered. Tourists must also respect the activation period set out in the vaccine’s summary of product characteristics.

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Orwell.

Congress Demands Tech CEOs Censor Internet Even More Aggressively (Greenwald)

Over the course of five-plus hours on Thursday, a House Committee along with two subcommittees badgered three tech CEOs, repeatedly demanding that they censor more political content from their platforms and vowing legislative retaliation if they fail to comply. The hearing — convened by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the two Chairs of its Subcommittees, Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) — was one of the most stunning displays of the growing authoritarian effort in Congress to commandeer the control which these companies wield over political discourse for their own political interests and purposes.

As I noted when I reported last month on the scheduling of this hearing, this was “the third time in less than five months that 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.” The bulk of Thursday’s lengthy hearing consisted of one Democratic member after the next complaining that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have failed in their duties to censor political voices and ideological content that these elected officials regard as adversarial or harmful, accompanied by threats that legislative punishment (including possible revocation of Section 230 immunity) is imminent in order to force compliance (Section 230 is the provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that shields internet companies from liability for content posted by their users).

Republican members largely confined their grievances to the opposite concern: that these social media giants were excessively silencing conservative voices in order to promote a liberal political agenda (that complaint is only partially true: a good amount of online censorship, like growing law enforcement domestic monitoring generally, focuses on all anti-establishment ideologies, not just the right-wing variant). This editorial censoring, many Republicans insisted, rendered the tech companies’ Section 230 immunity obsolete, since they are now acting as publishers rather than mere neutral transmitters of information. Some Republicans did join with Democrats in demanding greater censorship, though typically in the name of protecting children from mental health disorders and predators rather than ideological conformity.

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“My understanding from people who are sort of in government surveillance is yes, they can understand, they can track it.”

Ray Dalio Warns Bitcoin Ban ‘Likely’ (F.)

Bitcoin has soared back after losing ground earlier this week, climbing toward its all-time high price of over $60,000. The bitcoin price hit an all-time high of around $62,000 per bitcoin earlier this month—more than double where it began the year—but has since fallen back, despite Elon Musk’s Tesla bombshell this week. Now, the billionaire founder of the world’s largest hedge fund and legendary investor Ray Dalio has warned he thinks there’s a “good probability” bitcoin will be banned by the U.S. government—comparing it to the 1930’s U.S. gold ban. “Every country treasures its monopoly on controlling the supply and demand,” Bridgewater Associates’s Dalio told Yahoo Finance this week.


“They don’t want other monies to be operating or competing, because things can get out of control. So I think that it would be very likely that you will have it under a certain set of circumstances outlawed the way gold was outlawed.” In the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made gold ownership illegal in the U.S. in an attempt to shore up the Federal Reserve’s gold supplies so the Fed could justify printing more dollars. Dalio pointed to reports of a proposed bitcoin ban in India as potentially laying the groundwork for a more widespread crackdown on bitcoin. “[We] have to see what [reports of a proposed bitcoin ban in India] means,” Dalio said. “Now, can they do it? Yeah. Now we get into the particulars. My understanding from people who are sort of in government surveillance is yes, they can understand, they can track it. They can know who’s dealing with it … I would suspect it would be very hard to hold up against that kind of action.”

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Clique.

One Man Stands In The Way Of Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal Investigation (IC)

Over the past two months, two scandals have subsumed the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: the state’s gross mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in the state’s nursing homes, and the governor’s reported harassment of several women around him. But the state attorney general has launched a formal investigation into only one of those scandals. In January, New Yorkers were shocked to learn that the actual Covid-19 death tolls in the state’s nursing homes were as much as 50 percent higher than what had previously been disclosed. The misreporting, which was revealed in a report released by New York Attorney General Tish James on January 28, meant that thousands of deaths may have gone uncounted. And many of these deaths occurred in the early days of the pandemic, as Cuomo told hospitals to send coronavirus-positive patients back to the facilities, leading to rapid spread of the virus.

That scandal gained legs in February when the top aide to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, said that the misreporting was deliberate; Cuomo’s office wanted to throw off an investigation into the state’s handling of nursing homes. “We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, and what we start saying, was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” she said on a conference call with Democratic legislators. But the spotlight quickly turned to a second scandal, as eight women reported inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment by the governor. The sexual harassment allegations, which have attracted the bulk of media coverage, prompted an investigation into Cuomo by James, by referral from Cuomo himself.

And many of the top Democrats in the state have called for Cuomo’s resignation. James has not, however, begun an investigation into the Cuomo administration on its actions last spring, for a bureaucratic reason: She needs a referral from either Cuomo himself or Tom DiNapoli, the state’s low-profile comptroller, who has served since 2007. James has the statutory authority to investigate nursing homes, hence the January 28 report. She does not have the statutory authority to launch an investigation with subpoena power into the Cuomo administration without DiNapoli’s referral. (Theoretically, James could decline to investigate Cuomo’s handling of the nursing home crisis even if she received the referral from DiNapoli, though that seems very unlikely given her willingness to investigate the issue so far.)

A nursing home investigation has the potential to be explosive for a much broader range of actors than just Cuomo, and DiNapoli is himself considering a run for governor. While DiNapoli, a mainstream Democrat who nonetheless has occasionally clashed with Cuomo, is among the Democratic politicians calling for Cuomo’s resignation over sexual harassment claims, so far his office has declined to make a referral.

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Professor Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar discuss the emerging economic world order..

In Quest Of A Multipolar Economic World Order (Saker)

Hudson: 50 years ago, I wrote Super Imperialism about how America dominates the world financially, and gets a free ride. I wrote it, right after America went off gold in 1971, when the Vietnam war – which was responsible for the entire balance-of-payments deficit – forced the country to go off gold. And everybody at that time worried the dollar was going to go down. There’d be hyperinflation. But what happened was something entirely different. Once there was no gold to settle U.S. balance-of-payments deficits, America strong armed its allies to invest in US Treasury bonds, because central banks don’t buy companies. They don’t buy raw materials. All they could buy is other government bonds. So, all of a sudden, the only thing that other people could buy with all the dollars coming in were US Treasury securities.

The securities they bought essentially were to finance yet more war making and the balance-of-payments deficit from war and the 800 military bases America has around the world. The largest customer – I think we discussed this before – was the Defense Department and the CIA. They looked at it as a how-to-do-it book. That was 50 years ago. What I’ve done is not only re-edit the book and add more information that’s come out, but I’ve summarized how the last 50 years has transformed the world. It’s a new kind of imperialism. There was still a view, 50 years ago, that imperialism was purely economic, in the sense that there’s still a rivalry, for instance, between America and China, or America and Europe and other countries.

But I think the world has changed so much in the last 50 years that what we have now is not really so much a conflict between America and China, or America and Russia, but between a financialized economy, run by financial planners allocating resources and government spending and money creation, and an economy run by governments democratic or less democratic, but certainly a mixed economy. Everything that made industrial capitalism rich, everything that made America so strong on the 19th century, through its protective tariffs, through its public infrastructure investment all the way down through world war two and the aftermath, was that we had a mixed economy in America. Europe also had a mixed economy, and in fact, every economy since Babylon has had a mixed economy.

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One small step from “Multipolar Economic World Order” to “Multipolar Global Political Economy”.

Stoltenberg Comes Clean On China “Opportunity” For NATO (SCF)

Jens Stoltenberg and other European leaders have been swooning over the “new chapter” in transatlantic relations under the Biden administration. After four years of dealing with vulgar-mouth Donald Trump and his relentless hectoring over military budgets, some European leaders are sighing with relief at Biden’s seemingly dulcet assurances that “America is back”. Of course people like Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister who has been the civilian head of NATO since 2014, are reliant on pushing a stronger alliance for their comfy livelihoods and no doubt for future sinecures at corporate-funded think-tanks. Stoltenberg is constantly striving to find a new vision and mission for NATO, an organization founded over 70 years ago at the start of the Cold War, and which has been expanding ever since despite the official end of the Cold War three decades ago.

The buzz phrase he uses is to make the alliance “future-proof” – that is to find a permanent pretext for the U.S.-led military organization to continue its existence regardless of real-world security needs. In his interview with Deutsche Welle this week, Stoltenberg commented on the rise of China. He said, inferring something menacing: “China is coming closer to us, investing in our critical infrastructure.” Well maybe that’s because China is the world’s biggest trading partner with the European Union and a major foreign direct investor in European nations which have become bankrupt from decades of neoliberal capitalism and austerity. Stoltenberg went on: “There’s no way we can avoid addressing the security consequences for our regional alliance of the rise of China and the shift in the global balance of power.”

And then the usually cautious, wooden Stoltenberg let it slip: China, he said, provided “a unique opportunity to open a new chapter in the relationship between North America — the United States — and Europe.” Voila! So the real strategic value of China being presented as a “threat” or an “adversary” is to give a new purpose to the U.S.-led NATO bloc which subordinates Europe to Washington’s geopolitical objective of hegemony. The emphasis here is on China “being presented as a threat” and not what the real relationship actually is, that is, one of a vital economic partner. (Same for Russia and its vast energy partnership with Europe.)

The United States in pursuit of global dominance by its corporations and its capitalist order must, by definition, thwart a multipolar global political economy which the rise of China and Russia embody. The fiendish political problem, however, is that Washington and its European surrogates cannot justify such a stance based on the normal and natural relations that exist. For in doing that, they would be seen as obnoxious, unwarranted aggressors. It is imperative therefore to conflate China and Russia as “security threats” to the presumed Western “rules-based order”.

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The Donziger story is almost as crazy as Julian Assange’s.

The Lawyer Who Took On Chevron Marks His 600th Day Under House Arrest (G.)

Many of us will have felt the grip of claustrophobic isolation over the past year, but the lawyer Steven Donziger has experienced an extreme, very personal confinement as a pandemic arrived and then raged around him in New York City. On Sunday, Donziger reached his 600th day of an unprecedented house arrest that has resulted from a sprawling, Kafkaesque legal battle with the oil giant Chevron. Donziger spearheaded a lengthy crusade against the company on behalf of tens of thousands of Indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest whose homes and health were devastated by oil pollution, only to himself become, as he describes it, the victim of a “planned targeting by a corporation to destroy my life”.

Since August 2019, Donziger has been restricted to his elegant Manhattan apartment, a clunky court-mandated monitoring bracelet he calls “the black claw” continuously strapped to his left ankle. He cannot even venture into the hallway, or to pick up his mail. Exempted excursions for medical appointments or major school events for his 14-year-old son require permission days in advance. An indoor bike sits by the front door in lieu of alternative exercise options. “There’s no comparison to quarantine because I can’t even go outside for a walk. If my kid is sick I can’t go to the drug store to get a prescription,” Donziger said. “I never truly understood freedom until I was put in this situation.”

The nights are hardest for Donziger, when he has to struggle to get his jeans off over the boxy tag and lie in bed next to his wife “with the government still there on my ankle”. Each morning he wakes up in angst. A flag reading “SOS Free Steven” sometimes flutters defiantly from the window, but efforts to end the unusually long detention have yet to be granted. “It’s been brutally difficult for him,” said Paul Paz y Miño, associate director of Amazon Watch, a conservation group allied to Donziger. “It’s taken a huge toll on him and his family. Chevron wants the narrative to be that he’s a criminal. The implications of that for the entire environmental movement against oil companies is terrifying.”

[..] The dispute with Chevron centres upon a landmark 2011 decision by the Ecuador courts to order the company pay $9.5bn in damages to people blighted by decades of polluted air and water. Chevron has never paid up, claiming “shocking levels of misconduct” and fraud by Donziger and the Ecuadorian judiciary. But the subsequent web of events that has led to Donziger being detained and stripped of his law license is befuddling even to legal scholars. “Frankly, I scratch my head when I look at this case,” said Larry Catá Backer, a professor of international law at Penn State University. “It is this strange multi-front battle with one extraordinary explosive development after another. It has had this magical quality to enrage everyone involved in it.”

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Mar 212021
 


Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) German artist, philosopher, composer, mystic Cosmic Tree

 

Europe’s Covid-19 Setbacks Risk Another Summer Travel Washout (R.)
Massive Anti-Lockdown Protests Rage Worldwide (ZH)
How Chicago Avoided A Second Wave Of Spanish Flu (Orla Hegarty)
Printing Money in Times of Corona (AC)
FBI Investigating If Cuomo, Aides Lied To DOJ About Nursing Deaths (SAC)
UK Prepares Antitrust Probe Into Facebook (ZH)
Liberals Blame Rightwing ‘Misinformation’ For Our Problems. Get Real (Frank)
How The Censors Won (Michael Tracey)
Federal Judge Alleges Democrats Control Almost All Major News Outlets (ZH)
NYT Used ‘Deceptive Disinformation’ To Smear Project Veritas – Judge (RT)
The IRS Is Letting Rich People Fleece Everyone Else (DP)
Russia Set For Showdown With International Law Over Yukos & Navalny (RT)

 

 

 

 

Germany Deaths
https://twitter.com/i/status/1373207960420253697

 

 

UK has already said: forget about summer travel abroad.

Europe’s Covid-19 Setbacks Risk Another Summer Travel Washout (R.)

Europe’s airlines and travel sector are bracing for a second lost summer, with rebound hopes increasingly challenged by a hobbled Covid-19 vaccine rollout, resurgent infections and new lockdowns. Airline and travel stocks fell on Friday after Paris and much of northern France shut down for a month, days after Italy introduced stiff business and movement curbs for most of the country including Rome and Milan. The setbacks hit recovery prospects for the crucial peak season, whose profits typically tide airlines through winter, when most carriers lose money even in good times. “If there’s no confidence there, demand just doesn’t come back,” said Dublin-based Alton Aviation consultant Leah Ryan, who expects the bad news on vaccines and lockdowns to hurt already weak bookings.

The summer outlook also has been dented by rising infections in Greece and elsewhere, and a suspension of AstraZeneca’s vaccine by a number of European countries over health fears. Several countries announced resumption of use of the AstraZeneca shot this week after the European Medicines Agency said the benefits clearly outweigh its risks. Airlines that have already racked up billions in debt face further strain that some may not survive without fresh funds. British Airways owner IAG raised 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion) in a bond issue on Thursday, saying the cushion would protect it from a drawn-out slump. A patchy stop-start summer may pose fewer difficulties for low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air, which can redeploy planes quickly between routes.

But Ryanair’s home market expects to keep strict travel curbs in place at least throughout June, Irish health official Ronan Glynn said on Thursday, citing the “deteriorating situation internationally” and emerging more contagious virus variants. Ryanair shares traded 4.2% lower on Friday, with IAG down 4% and easyJet and Wizz both down 3.5%. Rebound hopes had driven travel stocks higher over the past month, led by IAG’s 25% gain. While ultra-low cost carriers can take the pain of another summer washout, analysts say, rivals such as easyJet and Virgin Atlantic could face renewed balance-sheet pressures. Air France-KLM is also seeking to raise capital and reduce debt from last year’s 10.4 billion-euro bailout. The Franco-Dutch airline group aims to fly more than 50% of pre-crisis capacity this year, compared with 40%-50% for Lufthansa – targets that could still prove ambitious.

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Much of this stuff is brutal. Police state material.

Massive Anti-Lockdown Protests Rage Worldwide (ZH)

Thousands, and possibly tens-of-thousands of protesters across Europe marched on Saturday against continued government lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions based on questionable science – which have resulted in mass unemployment, destroyed small businesses, stoked widespread depression and mental illness, and cost taxpayers trillions to keep the whole ship from sinking. Protesters in London, Germany, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Japan, Vienna and elsewhere came out for the Worldwide Rally for Freedom. In central London, thousands of anti-lockdown activists were seen walking through Hyde Park, chanting “stand up, take our freedom back!”


In Germany, police used pepper spray on protesters in the city of Kassel, where 15,000 – 20,000 demonstrators showed up, according to the Daily Mail. Some 1,800 officers were placed on standby in Berlin. “Several thousand people gathered at the main protest site on a square in Kessel’s city centre, packed closely together without wearing face masks, an AFP reporter saw. Scuffles erupted when a group of demonstrators tried to break through a police cordon to join up with other protesters, resulting in shoving and prompting officers to use pepper spray.” -Daily Mail.

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Fascinating. Orla Hegarty in Ireland focuses on cleaning the air inside buildings to prevent transmission. Chicago, after a massive campaign, in 1918 re-opened in 6 weeks, no vaccine. Lots of pics from that time here.

Where is the focus on clean air these days?

How Chicago Avoided A Second Wave Of Spanish Flu (Orla Hegarty)

[Thread] Chicago didn’t have a second wave of Spanish Flu.. so what did they do, & how did the city re-open when there was no vaccine? #Ventilation #COVID19 1/ ..here are the public health measures that Chicago took on the autumn of 1918 ‘open window ventilation in all school rooms.. pupils warmly dressed.. daily check on pupils & absentees in schools.. use of masks.. landlords required to heat homes.. ’ 2/ documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri… ..’isolation & quarantine.. home nursing provided (see my thread on home nursing).. churches required to improve ventilation.. 150 city health officers on full time service’ 3/ ..’closure of dance halls, theatres, restaurants in order to keep schools open .. ventilation of public transport.. public health doctors & nurses’ 4/

& then by late October/early November (just 6 weeks into the outbreak) theatres were allowed to reopen, social functions & public meetings resumed 5/ So what was happening to make this re-opening possible? The Chicago Bureau of Sanitation (1911-18 report) 6/ ..who understood airborne disease & spread in buildings ‘the most important factor in prevention is the air that we breath’ ‘buildings merit earnest study & attention in a program of real & effective work in preventing the spread of disease’ 7/ they had boots on the ground, ‘one man for every 100,000 of population’ & a regime of regulating, inspecting, investigating & enforcing ventilation standards in buildings for public health 8/ ..they had very detailed ventilation standards & buildings were inspected.. including measuring air temperature, humidity, velocity, dust particles &.. CO2 (carbon dioxide) monitoring was used to catch inadequate ventilation 9/

& Chicago had a head start on other cities, having been the first to regulate in 1911, & then having targeted improvements every year in picture-houses, street-cars, restaurants, garages etc .. then in September 1918 the Spanish Flu epidemic arrived /10 Chicago had 1,700 street-cars, so ventilation on public transport received a lot of attention.. there were concerns about the cost of improving poor ventilation /11 but The Chicago Bureau of Sanitation prevailed.. 12/ so the Spanish Flu epidemic in Chicago pandemic was fought on the ground with building inspectors.. who measured, targeted & eliminated actual public health risks in actual buildings ‘while the work involved was enormous, the results obtained outweighed the difficulties’ /13

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“Just as there are epidemiological factors to consider in this crisis, there are also economic, social, cultural, political and other health factors at play.”

Printing Money in Times of Corona (AC)

The coronavirus has dominated all of our lives in recent months. Radical paths were taken by politicians in the form of lockdowns to contain the pandemic. But we should recognize that even if the coronavirus is a (major) challenge for us, we always have to keep a holistic view of world events. Just as there are epidemiological factors to consider in this crisis, there are also economic, social, cultural, political and other health factors at play. It is precisely these other factors that are so often forgotten in the panicky reporting, in the constant, manic tracking of the current infection numbers, that we want to take a look at in our series “The Costs of Coronavirus Lockdowns” in the coming weeks.

Monetary policy is the second primary tool, alongside fiscal policy, used by governments to influence economic activity. When a crisis hits, an economy is stimulated either by the state budget – which arises from the taxpayers – or silently through monetary expansion. By either lowering interest rates, issuing government-backed securities, or even purchasing corporate bonds the central banks increase the money supply in the economy. Ever since the beginning of the crisis, the U.S. Federal Reserve has done all of the above. One of the most popular measures of the money supply used by economists is M1. It consists of the most highly liquid assets. In other words, the most easily exchangeable assets are used as payment for goods and services.

As Trading Economics data shows, the Fed has created 39% of all the “dollars” in the economy in 2020. To put it on its head, in 2020 the Fed has created more money than in almost a hundred years of its existence. Monetary policy effectiveness has its boundaries. As good as it might seem at first glance, creating money “out of thin air” doesn’t bring prosperity. It is true, inflation still hasn’t start banging on our doors. But looking no further than the asset prices, we can see that the low inflation rate is masked by the asset price inflation. Even with the sharp drop of the GDP and an unemployment rate that stands more than double the rate before the crisis started, the S&P 500 is more than 10% higher than on the day the pandemic rolled around. This also shows who profits from the economic response to the COVID-19 crisis: those with assets, i.e. those already wealthy anyway.

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We know they did. His aid literally said so.

FBI Investigating If Cuomo, Aides Lied To DOJ About Nursing Deaths (SAC)

The FBI is investigating whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his aides gave false numbers to the DOJ on nursing home deaths in New York state. Lawyers for the aides have been contacted by the FBI and his office has been subpoenaed, as first reported in the New York Times. According to the Times, interviews with aides have included questions on the reporting of COVID deaths in the state. The FBI traveled to some aides’ homes and interviewed others over the phone. A lawyer for Cuomo’s office said the original numbers submitted to the FBI months ago are factual.


“The submission in response to D.O.J.’s August request was truthful and accurate and any suggestion otherwise is demonstrably false,” lawyer Elkan Abramowitz said. The news comes as Cuomo’s first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, told the New Yorker former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is no longer her “hero” because of her reaction to the Cuomo accusations. “These stories are difficult to read,” the former secretary of state said in a March 1 statement, “and the allegations brought forth raise serious questions that the women who have come forward and all New Yorkers deserve answers to.”

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Lots of lawsuits, but…

UK Prepares Antitrust Probe Into Facebook (ZH)

Earlier this week, Rep. Ken Buck, the top Republican on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, said during an antitrust hearing that “Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have reached monopoly status, and their behavior won’t change until Congress acts, the enforcement agencies do their job, and the courts move quickly to rein in their predatory conduct.” On Friday, sources told FT that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is preparing an antitrust investigation into Facebook within the coming months, which is the latest crackdown on Silicon Valley’s big tech dominance. Similar probes were launched into Apple and Google earlier this year. Sources said CMA “would take a sweeping look at the way Facebook allegedly uses customer data to squash rivals in social media and online advertising.”

CMA’s potential investigation into Facebook comes as the government agency recently announced inquiries into Apple’s App Store fees and Google’s privacy settings. CMA expects to follow European Union’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s investigation into Facebook, launched in December. She told lawmakers in Brussels how big tech is increasingly facing more stringent scrutiny around the world. “It’s a sign that the debate on tech dominance has been shifting over the last couple of years,” Vestager said of the US antitrust move. A person close to the CMA said the focus of the upcoming investigation would be on the social media platform’s digital advertising.

Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, vowed to take on Facebook and other big tech companies with a series of antitrust cases. He’ll be working with lawmakers in Brussels to combat big tech. Meanwhile, in the US, Facebook requested a federal judge earlier this month to dismiss landmark antitrust suits against it, claiming that its “innovative free products deliver value” is helpful to users, adding there’s no evidence whatsoever of anti-competitively. The Federal Trade Commission and almost every state have filed lawsuits against the social media platform for its market power abuse after acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp.

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Thomas Frank.

Liberals Blame Rightwing ‘Misinformation’ For Our Problems. Get Real (Frank)

The Republicans didn’t suffer the landslide defeat they deserved last November; the right is still as potent as ever; therefore Trumpist untruth is responsible for the malfunctioning public mind. Under no circumstances was it the result of the Democrats’ own lackluster performance, their refusal to reach out to the alienated millions with some kind of FDR-style vision of social solidarity. Or perhaps this new taste for censorship is an indication of Democratic healthiness. This is a party that has courted professional-managerial elites for decades, and now they have succeeded in winning them over, along with most of the wealthy areas where such people live. Liberals scold and supervise like an offended ruling class because to a certain extent that’s who they are.

More and more, they represent the well-credentialed people who monitor us in the workplace, and more and more do they act like it. What all this censorship talk really is, though, is a declaration of defeat – defeat before the Biden administration has really begun. To give up on free speech is to despair of reason itself. (Misinformation, we read in the New York Times, is impervious to critical thinking.) The people simply cannot be persuaded; something more forceful is in order; they must be guided by we, the enlightened; and the first step in such a program is to shut off America’s many burbling fountains of bad takes.

Let me confess: every time I read one of these stories calling on us to get over free speech or calling on Mark Zuckerberg to press that big red “mute” button on our political opponents, I feel a wave of incredulity sweep over me. Liberals believe in liberty, I tell myself. This can’t really be happening here in the USA. But, folks, it is happening. And the folly of it all is beyond belief. To say that this will give the right an issue to campaign on is almost too obvious. To point out that it will play straight into the right’s class-based grievance-fantasies requires only a little more sophistication. To say that it is a betrayal of everything we were taught liberalism stood for – a betrayal that we will spend years living down – may be too complex a thought for our punditburo to consider, but it is nevertheless true.

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“..journalism which unduly inflames domestic divisions and/or undermines confidence in institutions ipso facto helps Russia..”

How The Censors Won (Michael Tracey)

[..] The star witness in that 2017 hearing, appearing right alongside former National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander, was Thomas Rid. Impressively presented by C-SPAN as a “War Studies Professor” at King’s College London, Rid made a passionate case that the US body politic had been woefully unprepared to contend with an onslaught of what he called “the dark art of disinformation.” [..] the three entities that Rid singled out for condemnation in the testimony — WikiLeaks, Twitter, and “over-eager journalists” — either capitulated to varying degrees in the ensuing years to his demands, or were otherwise neutralized. The founder of WikiLeaks was prosecuted by the US government and currently languishes in UK prison, which removed one of the central threats that so troubled Rid.

Twitter, whose founder once espoused a relatively maximalist conception of free speech (at least compared to other social media companies) drastically changed its philosophy on such issues — embarking on repeat banning sprees, suppressing newsworthy materials falsely classified as “Russian disinformation” just weeks before the 2020 election, and eventually purging the sitting president from the platform. Even more excitingly for Rid, elite journalists’ attitude toward the alleged menace of “disinformation” became increasingly indistinguishable from his own. In the years since that 2017 testimony, it was more and more the journalists themselves who led the charge in demanding censorship to curtail supposed “disinformation,” especially if they could somehow speciously link such “disinformation” to “harassment” and/or “violence.”

And the “over-eagerness” of journalists to report newsworthy information that Rid had condemned was replaced by journalists instead harboring extreme paranoia about being accused of aiding scary foreign influence campaigns — and thereby turning into “unwitting agents” of those scary foreigners. That created a new industry-wide taboo against doing anything which may be perceived as assisting in the dissemination of unjustly “hacked” materials, even if those materials are authentic and expose the malfeasant conduct of powerful officials.

[..] The most telling part of the “Intelligence Community Assessment” was its contention that a key tactic of Russia is “exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.” Variations on this Rid-adjacent theme have frequently percolated in elite discussions of the horrors of “Russian interference” since 2016: the idea that Russia seeks to gain world domination by inflaming domestic divisions in the US and undermining confidence in US institutions, and so journalism which unduly inflames domestic divisions and/or undermines confidence in institutions ipso facto helps Russia.

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“Nearly all television—network and cable—is a Democratic Party trumpet..”

Federal Judge Alleges Democrats Control Almost All Major News Outlets (ZH)

A federal judge this week said that the Democrat Party is close to controlling the press as he detailed what he described as shocking bias against Republicans. D.C. Circuit Court Judge Laurence Silberman outlined his opposition to the Supreme Court’s key decision in 1964 in New York Times v. Sullivan, which has since protected many media outlets from lawsuits. Silberman, a Reagan appointee, wrote that the ruling is “a threat to American Democracy” and must be overturned. “The increased power of the press is so dangerous today because we are very close to one-party control of these institutions. Our court was once concerned about the institutional consolidation of the press leading to a ‘bland and homogenous’ marketplace of ideas. It turns out that ideological consolidation of the press (helped along by economic consolidation) is the far greater threat,” he continued.


“Although the bias against the Republican Party—not just controversial individuals—is rather shocking today, this is not new; it is a long-term, secular trend going back at least to the ’70s. (I do not mean to defend or criticize the behavior of any particular politician). Two of the three most influential papers (at least historically), The New York Times and The Washington Post, are virtually Democratic Party broadsheets. And the news section of The Wall Street Journal leans in the same direction. The orientation of these three papers is followed by The Associated Press and most large papers across the country (such as the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and Boston Globe). Nearly all television—network and cable—is a Democratic Party trumpet. Even the government-supported National Public Radio follows along,” he added.

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Project Veritas hardly ever loses a suit.

NYT Used ‘Deceptive Disinformation’ To Smear Project Veritas – Judge (RT)

A defamation suit from Project Veritas against the New York Times is moving forward, as a judge has ruled the newspaper posed opinion as fact in their coverage of the conservative news outlet. A New York Supreme Court judge handed Veritas, known for its undercover and whistleblowing videos, a big “win” this week, allowing a defamation suit against the paper and two reporters to proceed forward. In the ruling denying a motion to dismiss the suit, the Times was accused of acting with “actual malice” and “reckless disregard” in multiple articles covering a 2020 video report from Veritas on alleged illegal voting practices taking place in Minnesota. It was not the only voter fraud allegation Veritas covered in 2020, with one video expose actually leading to the arrest of a Texas political consultant on charges of election fraud and illegal voting.


In the Minnesota video, multiple people are seen taking part in or discussing ballot harvesting and linking the act to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota). The report alleged ballots were being paid for and even filled out for voters to favor certain candidates. One ballot harvester featured in the video, Liban Osman, has since claimed footage of him was heavily edited and that he was offered money to connect the alleged fraud to Omar – an allegation Project Veritas denied. The five Times articles in question called Veritas’ Minnesota videos deceptive, but Justice Charles Wood determined this was not fact, but rather opinion from reporters Maggie Astor and Tiffany Hsu. “The Articles that are the subject of this action called the Video ‘deceptive,’ but the dictionary definitions of ‘disinformation’ and ‘deceptive’ provided by defendants’ counsel certainly apply to Astor’s and Hsu’s failure to note that they injected their opinions in news articles, as they now claim,” he wrote in his decision.

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“..a 72-percent drop in the number of audits of those making more than $1 million. In all, 98 percent of those making more than $1 million did not face an audit last year.”

The IRS Is Letting Rich People Fleece Everyone Else (DP)

By some estimates, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans manage to avoid paying about a quarter trillion dollars of owed taxes every single year. Now, new government data show that audits of the super-rich and large corporations have hit a new low, leaving billions of dollars of uncollected taxes at precisely a moment when lawmakers say new revenue is needed to fund infrastructure and climate investments. In response, two progressive Democratic lawmakers have authored legislation cracking down on tax evasion. The new Internal Revenue Service figures compiled by Syracuse University researchers show that in the last eight years, there has been a 72-percent drop in the number of audits of those making more than $1 million. In all, 98 percent of those making more than $1 million did not face an audit last year.


Source: Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

Similarly, there has also been a 55-percent drop in the number of audits of America’s largest corporations. In 2012, almost all corporate giants were audited. In 2020, however, almost two thirds of those corporations were not subjected to audits. Amid this decline in scrutiny of the rich, a letter to the Biden administration from 88 progressive groups pointed out: “Since 2011, audit rates for millionaires, who are disproportionately white, have dropped more than twice as much as for taxpayers claiming the (Earned Income Tax Credit), who are disproportionately people of color. Audit coverage is now the heaviest in many low-income majority-Black counties.” The sharp reduction in audits of the rich contributes to the tax gap between the amount of taxes owed and paid.


In 2012, audits of wealthy individuals and large corporations recovered roughly $29 billion of revenue. Eight years later, the far fewer audits recovered less than $7 billion. IRS referrals for criminal prosecution and Justice Department tax convictions have both hit an all-time low. “At a time when Americans face growing economic inequality and financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS is letting billions of dollars in tax revenue slip through its fingers,” wrote Syracuse researchers. “As public attention focuses on how the country can restore faith in our democratic institutions, one area that should not be overlooked is how the nation can better ensure that our income tax laws are fairly and effectively administered.”

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“The requirements of international law and treaties, as well as decisions of international bodies, can act on the territory of Russia only to the extent that they do not entail restrictions on the rights and liberties of man and citizen, and do not contradict our constitution../”

Russia Set For Showdown With International Law Over Yukos & Navalny (RT)

What matters more: Rulings from overseas courts, or laws made by politicians back home? That’s the question Russian officials are weighing up, after a string of court orders they say are at odds with the country’s own principles. An international legal battle over the collapsed Yukos oil empire has been raging for more than a decade in courts across the world, most notably in the Netherlands and the US. A record-breaking $57 billion legal bill now hangs in the balance. Former shareholders in the now-defunct company accuse the Russian government, which regards them as oligarchs acting in bad faith, of “appropriating” its assets and causing it to go bankrupt. Appealing initial decisions by a Dutch tribunal in favor of the claimants, the country’s lawyers have said that judges had failed to take into account Russian laws against corruption and fraud.

According to Russian Justice Minister Konstantin Chuychenko, the case is part of a “legal war” being waged against the country in international courts. “The situation is very difficult and serious,” he said. “Russia must adequately defend itself, and sometimes even attack back.” Quite how the state might strike back became clear in December, when the Constitutional Court, one of its highest judicial bodies, ruled that Moscow should refuse to pay the colossal sum if it loses the latest ongoing appeal over Yukos. The case is being litigated under the terms of the Energy Charter Treaty, which Russia signed up to but never ratified, with foreign courts insisting they still have jurisdiction. The Russian judges claim that entering into the pact and supposedly agreeing to foreign mediation broke a fundamental provision of the country’s constitution.

Specifically, judges said, subjugating national laws to international rulings is against those principles, and therefore, when Boris Yeltsin’s government entered into the treaty in 1994, it did so on an invalid basis. No leader, the court claimed, has the right to trade away the sovereign right of self-determination, or to “challenge the competence” of Russian courts. If the judges in The Hague eventually uphold the decision to hand the multibillion-dollar sum to those who lost cash after the collapse of Yukos, stumping up the funds would therefore be optional, the ruling insists. This decision would effectively cut Moscow free from any obligations to foreign courts under the terms of treaties it might have signed, and acting on it would put the country on a collision course with the West, which could look to take unilateral action to enforce any settlement.

[..] Speaking ahead of a national vote on the constitution last year, President Vladimir Putin set out in no uncertain terms that he views domestic laws as more important than overseas rulings, a position that he shares at times with leaders in the US and China. “I believe that the time has come to make some changes,” he said, “which directly guarantees the priority of the Russian constitution in our legal environment.” “The requirements of international law and treaties, as well as decisions of international bodies, can act on the territory of Russia only to the extent that they do not entail restrictions on the rights and liberties of man and citizen, and do not contradict our constitution,” Putin added.

[..] Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered the country to release jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny. The anti-corruption activist is serving time in prison after being found guilty of breaching the terms of a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for fraud. In a statement, the Strasbourg-based court said “a Chamber of Seven judges of the Court decided… to indicate to the Government of Russia… to release the applicant. This measure shall apply with immediate effect.” However, the country’s Justice Ministry rejected the calls outright, saying that they were “unenforceable” and unprecedented for a number of reasons. “Firstly, this is a clear and gross interference in the activities of the judiciary of a sovereign state. Secondly, this demand is unreasonable and unlawful, since… it does not include a single rule of law that would allow the court to make such a decision.”

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 192021
 
 March 19, 2021  Posted by at 8:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  35 Responses »


Camille Corot Study for “The Destruction of Sodom” 1843

 

Biden’s Tough-Guy Flexing At ‘Soulless Killer’ Putin Would Be Funny If.. (RT)
Putin Challenges Biden To A Live Public ‘Discussion’ (JTN)
Biden ‘Clearly Doesn’t Want Good Relations’ With Russia – Kremlin (RT)
A Brief List Of Official Russia Claims That Proved To Be Bogus (Taibbi)
Journalists Yesterday Spread a Significant Lie All Over Twitter (Greenwald)
US and China Publicly Rebuke Each Other In First Major Talks Of Biden Era (G.)
Covid Spiking In Over A Dozen States—Most With High Vaccination Rates (F.)
Norwegian Scientists Say AstraZeneca DID Cause Blood Clots (RT)
Your Unvaccinated Kid Is Like a Vaccinated Grandma (Oster)
How The US Military Subverted The Afghan Peace Agreement (GZ)
FBI Now Probing Cuomo’s Corporate Immunity Law (DO)
Without Trump, Is A “Depression In Television” Coming? (Taibbi)
Building or Unbuilding America? (Nomi Prins)
Growth Of US Homelessness During 2020 Was Devastating – HUD (NPR)

 

 

 

 

My thought exactly. He made the whole thing up. Or rather, someone did it for him.

Biden’s Tough-Guy Flexing At ‘Soulless Killer’ Putin Would Be Funny If.. (RT)

[..] the likelihood of the Biden-Putin meeting occurring as described by Joe Biden is slim to none. When Biden made his trip to the Kremlin in 2011, he was fronting for the Obama administration’s “reset” with Russia. There was no opportunity, or need, for Biden’s faux machismo. The two men did meet, but as part of delegations discussing the possibility for improving relations. Not only would Biden’s insulting verbal flexing have been wildly inappropriate and inconsistent with the larger policy objectives of his visit, but it ran counter to his own feelings, expressed at the time, about Russia. “Russia has the best engineers in the world,” Biden said in a press conference after his meeting with Putin (who was serving as Russia’s prime minister, not president, at the time.) “Russia has intellectual capital. Russia is a great nation.”

These are not words one utters after telling a Russian leader in private that he has “no soul.” Biden’s struggle with the truth is well known, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that he possibly made up a meeting with Putin. Biden has been caught plagiarizing a speech delivered by former British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, lied about his academic record and accomplishments, and manufactured from whole cloth a narrative that has him participating in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Biden’s lies all have one goal in common: to make him out to be that which he is not. So, too, his apparent lie about calling Putin soulless. Biden is desperate to be a ‘tough guy’. But for that reputation to stick vis-à-vis Putin, there had to be a ‘showdown’ moment, where the good guy faced off against the bad guy and called him out.

Since no such event exists, Biden had to make one up. And, like most of his lies, Biden repeats them long enough and often enough that they take on a life of their own, embraced as fact by unquestioning journalists. In his interview with Stephanopoulos, Biden raised the findings of the DNI report, and his conversation with Putin. “He will pay a price. We had a long talk, he and I. I know him relatively well and the conversation started off [like this]: I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.’”

Biden does not know Putin well at all. If he did, he would know that the last thing that would give the Russian leader pause were the fanciful tough-guy posturing of a geriatric president. There is little doubt that the Biden administration will impose additional sanctions against Russia in the days and weeks to come, citing the report as justification. There is also little doubt that these sanctions will have no impact whatsoever on the policies and practices of the Russian government. But that is not the point. Biden is not flexing for the benefit of Putin. His audience is the American people, and part and parcel of a coordinated campaign designed to drive home his mantra that “America is back.”

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Biden’s too busy.

Putin Challenges Biden To A Live Public ‘Discussion’ (JTN)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that he and American President Joe Biden engage in a live public “discussion.” The Russian leader’s proposal comes after Biden, when asked earlier this week during an ABC News interview whether he believes Putin is a killer, responded that he does believe that. A U.S. intelligence report indicates that Putin authorized influence operations related to the 2020 U.S. election, and during the interview Biden said that Putin “will pay a price.” Biden said that he told Putin: “If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.”

The intelligence report states in part: “We assess that Russian President Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.” “I’ve just thought of this now,” the Russian president told a Russian state television reporter, according to ABC News. “I want to propose to President Biden to continue our discussion, but on the condition that we do it basically live, as it’s called. Without any delays and directly in an open, direct discussion. It seems to me that would be interesting for the people of Russia and for the people of the United States.”

Putin suggested that the “discussion” with Biden could be held on Friday or Monday: “I don’t want to put this off for long. I want to go the taiga this weekend to relax a little,” Putin said. “So we could do it tomorrow or Monday. We are ready at any time convenient for the American side.” When asked during Thursday’s press briefing if the idea is one that the administration would consider, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told the reporter she would need to “get back to you if that is something we are entertaining,” and noted that Biden will be busy in Georgia on Friday.

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Recalling your ambassador is a serious step.

Biden ‘Clearly Doesn’t Want Good Relations’ With Russia – Kremlin (RT)

The Kremlin has claimed that comments from American President Joe Biden, in which he said he believes his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to be a “killer,” is proof Washington isn’t serious about relations with the country. Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was no precedent for the remarks in the history of the two nations. “These are very bad statements by the US president,” he added. “He clearly doesn’t want to establish a relationship with our country, and we will proceed on that basis.” In the TV interview with ABC, which aired on Wednesday, Biden was asked by chief anchor George Stephanopoulos whether he thought Putin was “a killer.” “Mmm hmm, I do,” he replied.

He added that he had warned the Russian leader that the US would take action if it found evidence of Moscow meddling in the country’s 2020 presidential election. “He will pay a price,” Biden said. “We had a long talk, he and I… I know him relatively well. And the conversation started off, I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.’” A joint report by Washington’s spy agencies, published the day before, alleged that Russia was behind a campaign to “denigrate” Biden’s reputation during the campaign. The Kremlin has blasted the allegations, insisting it had not engaged in political smears against any candidates.

On Wednesday evening, Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, was recalled to Moscow for talks on the future of ties with Washington. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that consultations were needed “to analyze what to do and where to head in the context of relations with the US.” The remarks have sparked a wave of criticism from Russian officials. The speaker of the country’s parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, added his voice to those claiming the remarks were indicative of a diplomatic rift. The top politician argued that “this is a tantrum that comes from powerlessness. Putin is our president, attacking him is an attack on our country.”

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“We’ve spent the last five years watching as anonymous officials make major Russia-related claims, only to have those evidence-free claims fizzle.”

A Brief List Of Official Russia Claims That Proved To Be Bogus (Taibbi)

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released a much-hyped, much-cited new report on “Foreign Threats to the 2020 Elections.” The key conclusion: “We assess that Russian President Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, [and] undermining public confidence in the electoral process…” The report added Ukrainian legislator Andrey Derkach, described as having “ties” to “Russia’s intelligence services,” and Konstantin Kilimnik, a “Russian influence agent” (whatever that means), used “prominent U.S. persons” and “media conduits” to “launder their narratives” to American audiences.

The “narratives” included “misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden” (note they didn’t use the word “false”). They added a small caveat at the end: “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.” As Glenn Greenwald already pointed out, the “launder their narratives” passage was wolfed down by our intelligence services’ own “media conduits” here at home, and regurgitated as proof that the “Hunter Biden laptop story came from the Kremlin,” even though the report didn’t mention the laptop story at all. Exactly one prominent reporter, Chris Hayes, had the decency to admit this after advancing the claim initially. With regard to the broader assessment: how many times are we going to do this? We’ve spent the last five years watching as anonymous officials make major Russia-related claims, only to have those evidence-free claims fizzle.

From the much-ballyhooed “changed RNC platform” story (Robert Mueller found no evidence the changed Republican platform was “undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia”), to the notion that Julian Assange was engaged in a conspiracy with the Russians (Mueller found no evidence for this either), to Michael Cohen’s alleged secret meetings in Prague with Russian conspirators (“not true,” the FBI flatly concluded) to the story that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress (“not accurate,” said Mueller), to wild stories about Paul Manafort meeting Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, to a “bombshell” tale about Trump foreknowledge of Wikileaks releases that blew up in CNN’s face in spectacular fashion, reporters for years chased unsubstantiated claims instead of waiting to see what they were based upon.

The latest report’s chief conclusions are assessments about Derkach and Kilimnik, information that the whole world knew before this report was released. Hell, even Rudy Giuliani, whose meeting with Derkach is supposedly the big scandal here, admitted there was a “50/50 chance” the guy was a Russian spy. Kilimnik meanwhile has now been characterized as having “ties” to Russian intelligence (Mueller), and as a “Russian intelligence officer” (Senate Intelligence Committee), and is now back to being a mere “influence agent.” If he is Russian intelligence, then John McCain’s International Republican Institute (where Kilimnik worked), as well as embassies in Kiev and Moscow (where Kilimnik regularly gave information, according to the New York Times), have a lot of explaining to do.

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“..these career spies and propagandists, led by Obama CIA Director and serial liar John Brennan..”

Journalists Yesterday Spread a Significant Lie All Over Twitter (Greenwald)

Journalists with the largest and most influential media outlets disseminated an outright and quite significant lie on Tuesday to hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, on Twitter. While some of them were shamed into acknowledging the falsity of their claim, many refused to, causing it to continue to spread up until this very moment. It is well worth examining how they function because this is how they deceive the public again and again, and it is why public trust in their pronouncements has justifiably plummeted. The lie they told involved claims of Russian involvement in the procurement of Hunter Biden’s laptop. In the weeks leading up to the 2020 election, The New York Post obtained that laptop and published a series of articles about the Biden family’s business dealings in Ukraine, China and elsewhere.

In response, Twitter banned the posting of any links to that reporting and locked The Post out of its Twitter account for close to two weeks, while Facebook, through a long-time Democratic operative, announced that it would algorithmically suppress the reporting. The excuse used by those social media companies for censoring this reporting was the same invoked by media outlets to justify their refusal to report the contents of these documents: namely, that the materials were “Russian disinformation.” That claim of “Russian disinformation” was concocted by a group of several dozen former CIA officials and other operatives of the intelligence community devoted to defeating Trump.

Immediately after The Post published its first story about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine that traded on his influence with his father, these career spies and propagandists, led by Obama CIA Director and serial liar John Brennan, published a letter asserting that the appearance of these Biden documents “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” News outlets uncritically hyped this claim as fact even though these security state operatives themselves admitted: “We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails…are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement — just that our experience makes us deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case.” Even though this claim came from trained liars who, with uncharacteristic candor, acknowledged that they did not “have evidence” for their claim, media outlets uncritically ratified this assertion.

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Blinken got his ass handed to him.

US and China Publicly Rebuke Each Other In First Major Talks Of Biden Era (G.)

The United States and China have clashed over human rights during their first face-to-face high-level talks since Joe Biden took office, with one senior Chinese official urging the US to address “deep-seated” issues such as racism, and accusing his American counterparts of “condescension”.Any hopes that the meeting, in Anchorage, would reset bilateral ties after years of tensions over trade and cyber security during Donald Trump’s presidency evaporated when US secretary of state Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan opened their meeting with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and state councillor Wang Yi.

After Blinken referred to rising global concern over Beijing’s human rights record, Yang said: “We hope that United States will do better on human rights. The fact is that there are many problems within the United States regarding human rights, which is admitted by the US itself,” he said in a 15-minute speech that appeared to irritate Blinken. He added that US human rights issues were “deep-seated … they did not just emerge over the past four years, such as Black Lives Matter”. In his opening remarks Blinken had said world leaders had voiced “deep satisfaction” that the US was re-engaging with the international community after four years of Trump’s “America First” doctrine. “I’m also hearing deep concern about some of the actions your government is taking.”

Blinken, who added he had heard similar sentiments during his visits this week to Japan and South Korea, said the Biden administration and its allies were united in pushing back against China’s increasing authoritarianism and assertiveness at home and abroad. In response, Yang angrily demanded that the US stop pushing its own version of democracy at a time when it was dealing with discontent among its own population. “We believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image and to stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world,” he said. “Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States.” “China will not accept unwarranted accusations from the US side,” Yang said, adding that recent developments had plunged relations “into a period of unprecedented difficulty” that “has damaged the interests of our two peoples.”

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Get healthy.

Covid Spiking In Over A Dozen States—Most With High Vaccination Rates (F.)

Coronavirus cases are again spiking in 13 U.S. states, according to an analysis of trends over the past week, including some states among the highest in vaccination rates as health experts warn more contagious variants of Covid-19 will soon dominate the United States. An Axios analysis found Michigan by far leading the way in new cases, with the 7-day rolling average spiking by more than 53%. Michigan is above the U.S. average in terms of vaccination rate, according to Johns Hopkins University, but cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations are all on the rise. State health officials have placed the blame on highly contagious new variants now spreading in the state, as health experts caution national vaccination efforts are a race against the contagious strains.

Other states among the highest in vaccination rates, including West Virginia, Maine and Montana are also dealing with case spikes. Only two of the states with rising cases—Mississippi and New Hampshire—are below the U.S. average in terms of vaccination rate, according to Johns Hopkins. Top health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, have said a variant that originated in the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by the end of the month. That strain is believed to be some 56% more contagious and perhaps twice as deadly than the existing dominant strain in the United States. Health experts say the country is continuing to move in the right direction as a whole, with the vaccine effort hopefully ending the pandemic this year.

But what had been a rapid national case decline starting in January has slowed significantly over the past few weeks, with the U.S. continuing to average over 50,000 new cases a day, a plateau level Fauci said “concerns me.” Top health officials and President Joe Biden are also advising against expansive reopening measures that states are putting into effect, including some that have decided to lift mask mandates.

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“The clotting in those patients was triggered by a very specific “strong immune response” likely caused as a result of the AstraZeneca jab..”

Norwegian Scientists Say AstraZeneca DID Cause Blood Clots (RT)

Norwegian scientists have linked the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots – a condition seen in some people that led countries around the world to halt its use. But British and Dutch medics say there’s no evidence for such a link. “The cause of our patients’ condition has now been found,” Pal Andre Holme, the head of a research group at the Oslo University Hospital, told Norway’s VG media outlet. He was referring to the cases of three health workers under the age of 50 who suffered from severe blood clotting after receiving the AstraZeneca jab. One of the medics then died on Monday. The clotting in those patients was triggered by a very specific “strong immune response” likely caused as a result of the AstraZeneca jab, Holme explained.

In collaboration with the University Hospital of North Norway, Holme’s team detected specific antibodies that “activate” platelets and in some cases can lead to blood clots. Asked by VG if the vaccine was the “most likely” cause of this specific immune response, Holme said he believes “there is no other thing” in the history of the three individual patients which would generate such a response. None of the three patients had a history of similar health issues before, he said. I am pretty sure it is these antibodies that are the cause and I see no other reason than that it is the vaccine that triggers them.

The professor still admitted that such side effects are likely to be very rare since “we are talking about very specific antibodies.” Norway halted the use of the AstraZeneca jab in its vaccination campaign alongside many other European nations. Some 120,000 Norwegians already received the jabs produced by the British-Swedish company. According to Norwegian media, “very few” serious side effects were reported by those vaccinated to date. [..] Norwegian scientists revealed the results of their analysis just as the British medical regulator, MHRA, said that it found no evidence that could prove the link between the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clotting.

“This type of blood clot can occur naturally in people who have not been vaccinated, as well as in those suffering from COVID-19,” the MHRA CEO, Dr. June Raine, said in a statement, adding that her agency’s “thorough and careful review” showed that blood clots in veins of affected persons are occurring just as often as they would “in the absence of vaccination.”

Read more …

But you still want to vaccinate all kids?

Your Unvaccinated Kid Is Like a Vaccinated Grandma (Oster)

Different vaccines yield different results, but all of the vaccines approved by the FDA (Pfizer-BioNTech’s, Moderna’s, and Johnson & Johnson’s) are very effective, which is why the CDC has indicated that vaccinated individuals can interact unmasked with other vaccinated individuals. It hasn’t yet commented on flying, but I’m guessing the CDC will relax its flying advisories for vaccinated individuals in the next few weeks. It will continue to recommend masks, for the sake of protecting the unvaccinated population, because the science on transmission by the vaccinated is still hazy. Now think about your child. The CDC has published some risk assessments by age. For comparison’s sake, I’ll phrase the findings the way I would the results of a vaccine trial:

Being a child aged 5 to 17 is 99.9 percent protective against the risk of death and 98 percent protective against hospitalization. For children 0 to 4, these numbers are 99.9 percent (death) and 96 percent (hospitalization). The central goal of vaccination is preventing serious illness and death. From this standpoint, being a child is a really great vaccine. Your unvaccinated first grader appears to have about as much protection from serious illness as a vaccinated grandmother. Comparisons are more difficult when it comes to the risk of any infection at all. An Israeli study undergoing peer review found that the Pfizer vaccine reduces infection in asymptomatic cases by about 90 percent, and in symptomatic cases by almost 94 percent.

Child case counts haven’t been well documented, in part because asymptomatic infection appears to be so common among kids. However, the available data suggest that children are less likely than adults to contract the coronavirus, but more likely to contract it than a vaccinated grandmother. (Below, I’ll address the latest thinking on variants, and research on the possible long-term effects of less-than-serious infections, which remains murky, and controversial.) This news may feel a little mixed: Yes, kids are protected from serious illness, just like their vaccinated grandparents, but they are not as protected from contracting the virus at all. Here is where the concept of herd immunity comes in to save the summer. If the Israeli Pfizer study is anywhere near right, then case rates will fall once a large share of adults are vaccinated. They are likely to fall a lot as the virus finds fewer and fewer receptive hosts.

Read more …

Must have war.

How The US Military Subverted The Afghan Peace Agreement (GZ)

In an exclusive interview with The Grayzone Col. Douglas Macgregor, a former senior advisor to the Acting Secretary of Defense, revealed that President Donald Trump shocked the US military only days after the election last November by signing a presidential order calling for the withdrawal of all remaining US troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. As Macgregor explained to The Grayzone, the order to withdraw was met with intense pressure from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark M. Milley, which caused the president to capitulate. Trump agreed to withdraw only half of the 5,000 remaining troops in the country. Neither Trump’s order nor the pressure from the JCS Chairman was reported by the national media at the time.


The president’s surrender represented the Pentagon’s latest victory in a year-long campaign to sabotage the US-Taliban peace agreement signed in February 2020. Military and DOD leaders thus extended the disastrous and unpopular 20-year US war in Afghanistan into the administration of President Joseph Biden. The subversion of the peace agreement with the Taliban initiated by the US military leadership in Washington and Afghanistan began almost as soon as Trump’s personal envoy Zalmay Khalilzad negotiated a tentative deal in November 2019. The campaign to undermine presidential authority was actively supported by then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

Read more …

“Critics say that the immunity law removed a key deterrent to corporate malfeasance, and victims and their families were subsequently stripped of their legal rights.”

FBI Now Probing Cuomo’s Corporate Immunity Law (DO)

Federal law enforcement officials are scrutinizing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial move to help his donor shield nursing home executives from legal consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report. The probe follows a Daily Poster investigative series detailing how one of Cuomo’s biggest donors, the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) — a lobby group that represents hospital systems and nursing home operators — said it “drafted and aggressively advocated for” the corporate immunity provision. Cuomo’s administration quietly inserted the measure into his state’s budget as thousands lay dying from COVID-19 in New York nursing homes.

Critics say that the immunity law removed a key deterrent to corporate malfeasance, and victims and their families were subsequently stripped of their legal rights. Cuomo’s original executive order shielding front line health care workers from lawsuits was widely reported, but not the governor’s separate budget language extending immunity to hospital and nursing home corporations’ executives and board members. On Thursday, THE CITY disclosed that federal investigators looking into Cuomo’s handling of nursing home policy are now specifically asking questions about the immunity provision. The New York news outlet reports:

“FBI investigators probing the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic last spring are seeking information about a state budget provision that gave operators legal immunity, THE CITY has learned. In recent weeks, FBI officials have been looking to interview members of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staff and other state officials about the eleventh-hour addition to the state budget last March, according to three people familiar with the matter. The measure granted nursing homes and hospitals broad legal protections against lawsuits and criminal liability for care provided to residents and patients during the pandemic. FBI officials started to make house calls this month, showing up at people’s residences and leaving business cards, according to the three sources. Investigators’ questions have focused primarily on the nursing home immunity provision and how it “got in the state budget,” said one legislative source, who did not want to be named because of the ongoing probe.”

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Not coming, but already here.

Without Trump, Is A “Depression In Television” Coming? (Taibbi)

[..] the Democratic Party’s response to Trump — which involved multiple efforts to remove him, premised on the idea that every day he spent in the Oval Office was an existential threat to humanity — allowed stations to turn every day of the Trump years into a baby-down-a-well story (the baby was democracy). Between the Mueller investigation, two impeachments, the Kavanaugh confirmation, multiple border crises, the “Treason in Helsinki” fiasco, and a hundred other tales, every day could be pitched as a drop-everything emergency. Add the partisan rooting angle, and you had ratings gold. Imagine three or four dozen Super Bowls a year, each one played in the middle of a category 5 hurricane, and you come close to grasping the magnitude of the gift that Donald Trump was to MSNBC, Fox, and CNN.

Six or seven years ago, it was common to see CNN or MSNBC fall outside the top 20 rated cable networks, below titans like Disney, USA, TBS, and the History Channel. By 2020, the three top networks on cable — not just news networks, but overall — were Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. The fact that news ate away so much of the market share of the entertainment business in the Trump years raises questions about what exactly we were watching. Jump in your Dr. Who police box and go back to 2014, the last year Trump was not a major political figure. The cable news genre had what Variety described as an “overall down year.” It was a particularly grim time for CNN and MSNBC:

Total Primetime Viewers, 2014 Change
Fox News 1.779 million (even)
MSNBC 600,000 (down 8%)
CNN 528,000 (down 8%)
HLN 337,000 (down 16%)

CNN exemplified the pre-Trump dilemma. In 2011, the network’s average primetime viewership was 689,000. That dropped to 670,000 in 2012, and the year after that, in 2013, it fell all the way to 568,000, a 20-year low. Imagine the pucker factor at Time Warner the next year, when CNN’s entire 8-11 p.m. programming slate dropped 8% off that 20-year dip. 2013 was CNN’s first year under the management of Jeff Zucker, whose career arc leading into the Trump years was a dazzling study in failing upward. He was named head of NBC Entertainment in 2000, and rode the successes of a handful of shows — including, notably, The Apprentice — into a job as CEO of NBC Universal, where he presided over one of the most disastrous tenures of any TV executive in history. Under his leadership, NBC dropped to fourth behind ABC, CBS, and Fox, amid catastrophic decisions like trying to move Jay Leno into primetime.

When Zucker moved to CNN, he trumpeted a new plan to save the news. This is from Politico in 2013: “Zucker has told staff he wants to “broaden the definition of what news is,” meaning more sports, more entertainment, more human interest stories — and, at times, less politics.” That didn’t work out so well in 2014, though to be fair to Zucker, the ratings narrative started reversing at least somewhat before Trump jumped on the scene. But the first giant leap forward for the business as a whole came in 2015, when CNN’s average primetime audience soared to 730,000, a 30% increase, in significant part because it hosted two Republican debates starring Trump.

The news business had never seen anything like the Trump effect. The first Republican debate on Fox drew 25 million viewers and was the most-watched non-sports event in the history of cable, while the second debate drew 23 million and was merely the top show in the history of CNN. Taking note of all this was Trump himself, whose poll numbers were dipping a bit at the end of 2015. Some were predicting his demise. To this, Trump snapped, “I’m not a masochist,” and promised he’d pull out if his numbers worsened. However, he said, if he did, “There’d be a major collapse of television ratings,” adding a poisonous prediction: “It would become a depression in television.”

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“The cost of what we need but haven’t done to modernize our infrastructure has expanded to $5.6 trillion over the last 20 years ($3 trillion in the last decade alone)”

Building or Unbuilding America? (Nomi Prins)

During the Trump years, the phrase “Infrastructure Week” rang out as a sort of Groundhog Day-style punchline. What began in June 2017 as a failed effort by The Donald’s White House and a Republican Senate to focus on the desperately needed rebuilding of American infrastructure morphed into a meme and a running joke in Washington. Despite the focus in recent years on President Trump’s failure to do anything for the country’s crumbling infrastructure, here’s a sad reality: considered over a longer period of time, Washington’s political failure to fund the repairing, modernizing, or in some cases simply the building of that national infrastructure has proven a remarkably bipartisan “effort.”

After all, the same grand unfulfilled ambitions for infrastructure were part and parcel of the Obama White House from 2009 on and could well typify the Biden years, if Congress doesn’t get its act together (or the filibuster doesn’t go down in flames). The disastrous electric grid power outages that occurred during the recent deep freeze in Texas are but the latest example of the pressing need for infrastructure upgrades and investments of every sort. If nothing is done, more people will suffer, more jobs will be lost, and the economy will face drastic consequences. Since the mid-twentieth century, when most of this country’s modern infrastructure systems were first established, the population has doubled. Not only are American roads, airports, electric grids, waterways, railways and more distinctly outdated, but today’s crucial telecommunications sector hasn’t ever been subjected to a comprehensive broadband strategy.

Worse yet, what’s known as America’s “infrastructure gap” only continues to widen. The cost of what we need but haven’t done to modernize our infrastructure has expanded to $5.6 trillion over the last 20 years ($3 trillion in the last decade alone), according to a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Some estimates now even run as high as $7 trillion. In other words, as old infrastructure deteriorates and new infrastructure and technology are needed, the cost of addressing this ongoing problem only escalates. Currently, there is a $1-trillion backlog of (yet unapproved) deferred-maintenance funding floating around Capitol Hill. Without action in the reasonable future, certain kinds of American infrastructure could, like that Texas energy grid, soon be deemed unsafe.

Read more …

Make the right to housing a law.

Growth Of US Homelessness During 2020 Was Devastating – HUD (NPR)

The nation’s homeless population grew last year for the fourth year in a row. On a single night in January 2020, there were more than 580,000 individuals who were homeless in the United States, a 2% increase from the year before. The numbers, released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Thursday, do not reflect the impact of the pandemic. “And we know the pandemic has only made the homelessness crisis worse,” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a video message accompanying the report. She called the numbers “devastating” and said the nation has a “moral responsibility to end homelessness.” Among the report’s more sobering findings: homelessness among veterans and families did not improve for the first time in many years.


Also, more than 106,000 children were homeless during the once-a-year count, conducted in most communities across the nation. While the majority of homeless children were in shelters or transitional housing, almost 11,000 were living outside. As has been the case for years, a disproportionate share of those experiencing homelessness were Black — about 39% of the total, though African Americans make up about 13% of the nation’s overall population. Twenty-three percent of those who were homeless last year identified as Hispanic or Latino. California was home to the largest number of people experiencing homelessness — 161,548 — according to the 2020 count. A quarter of all homeless individuals in the United States were living in either New York City or Los Angeles. For the first time since the government began doing the annual count, the number of single adults living outside — 209,413 — exceeded the number of individuals living in shelters — 199,478.

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 172021
 


Vincent van Gogh Peach trees in blossom 1888

 

Russia Stoked Ukraine Allegations To Undermine Biden – US Intel (Pol.)
Big Media Outlets “Independently Confirm” Each Other’s Falsehoods (Greenwald)
US Admits Waging InfoWar Against Russia’s Sputnik Vaccine (ZH)
Biden Gets Away With Exactly What Cuomo Is Accused Of (Emmons)
Pandemic Blunder (Hirschhorn)
New Covid-19 Variant Found In Brittany May Not Show Up In Regular Tests (RT)
Why We All MUST Reject Vaccine Passports (Krainer)
Wall Street Is Greenwashing The Financial World (Fancy)
US Joins India And China In Ramping Up Coal Usage (ZH)
Courts Close In On Gig Economy Firms Globally (G.)
Getting Hyperinflation Right (Dmitry Orlov)

 

 

 

 

This stuff must stop, but it won’t. These idiots are endangering the entire world. And that wanking rodent Schiff pops up again too.

Russia Stoked Ukraine Allegations To Undermine Biden – US Intel (Pol.)

Russia tried again last year to help then-President Donald Trump win the White House, the U.S. intelligence community said Tuesday in a long-awaited postmortem — adding that a “primary” tactic in that effort was the spreading of corruption allegations involving Democratic challenge Joe Biden and Ukraine. But the effort fell short of the Kremlin-backed efforts to assist Trump in his 2016 contest against Hillary Clinton, the spy community wrote in its unclassified assessment of foreign threats to the 2020 U.S. federal elections. And the agencies found no attempts by foreign countries to change vote tallies or final results.

“We assess that Russian President [Vladimir] Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the U.S.,” the assessment said. “The primary effort,” the document added, “revolved around a narrative-that Russian actors began spreading as early as 2014-alleging corrupt ties between President Biden, his family, and other US officials and Ukraine.” It said Russia’s intelligence services “relied on Ukraine-linked proxies and these proxies’ networks-including their US contacts-to spread this narrative.”


Unlike in 2016, however, “we did not see persistent Russian cyber efforts to gain access to election infrastructure,” added the document, issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Iran, meanwhile, waged a “covert influence campaign intended to undercut” Trump’s reelection bid without directly promoting his rivals in order to “undermine public confidence in the election process” and “sow division and exacerbate societal tensions” in the country. “We assess that Supreme Leader Khamenei authorized the campaign and Iran’s military and intelligence services implemented it using overt and covert messaging and cyber operations,” the examination states. The agencies found no efforts by China to interfere in the election, although one intelligence official maintained in a minority opinion that Beijing “took at least some steps to undermine” Trump’s chances, “primarily through social media and official public statements and media.”

Schiff

Read more …

Russia Russia Russia Russia Russia

Big Media Outlets “Independently Confirm” Each Other’s Falsehoods (Greenwald)

For a few weeks following the issuance of the Mueller report, Democrats and media figures gamely attempted to deny that it obliterated the conspiracy theories to which they had relentlessly subjected the country for the prior four years. How could they do otherwise? They staked their entire reputations and the trust of their audience on having this be true. To avoid their day of reckoning, they would hype ancillary events such as Paul Manafort’s conviction on unrelated financial crimes or Michael Flynn’s guilty plea for a minor and dubious charge (for which even Mueller recommended no prison time) or Roger Stone’s various process charges to insist that there was still a grain of truth to their multifaceted geopolitical fairy tale seemingly lifted straight from a Tom Clancy Cold War thriller about the world’s two largest nuclear powers.

But even they knew this was just a temporary survival strategy and that it was unsustainable for the long term. That the crux of the scandal all along was that key Trump allies if not the President himself would be indicted and imprisoned for having conspired with the Russians was too glaring to make people forget about it. That was why former CIA Director John Brennan assured the MSNBC audience in March — just weeks before Mueller closed his investigation with no conspiracy crimes alleged — that it was impossible that the investigation could close without first indicting Trump’s children and other key White House aides on what Brennan correctly said was the whole point of the scandal from the start: “criminal conspiracy involving the Russians . . . . whether or not U.S. persons were actively collaborating, colluding, cooperating, involved in a conspiracy with them or not.”


Brennan strongly insinuated that among those likely to be indicted for criminally conspiring with the Russians were those “from the Trump family.” As we all know, literally none of that happened. Not only were Trump family members not indicted by Mueller on charges of “criminal conspiracy involving the Russians,” no Americans were. Brennan believed there was no way that the Mueller investigation could end without that happening because that was the whole point of the scandal from the start. To explain why it had not happened up to that point after eighteen months of investigation by Mueller’s subpoena-armed and very zealous team of prosecutors, Brennan invented a theory that they were waiting to do that as the final act because they knew they would be fired by Trump once it happened. But it never happened because Mueller found no evidence to prove that it did.


The Advocate, Mar. 10, 2017

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“Combatting malignant influence in the Americas…”

Who’s the actual malignant influence?

US Admits Waging InfoWar Against Russia’s Sputnik Vaccine (ZH)

The Kremlin on Tuesday called out what’s it’s dubbed the “unprecedented” propaganda war against Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. The words were issued by spokesman Dmitry Peskov in response to widespread allegations that the Untied States is actively trying to dissuade its allies from purchasing the Russian-produced vaccine. This despite the emerging scientific consensus that’s found it to be at least 91% effective while further preventing inoculated persons from becoming severely ill. The Kremlin is responding to newly emerged proof that the US intervened with the largest country in South America, Brazil.


The Washington Post details that “Buried deep in the dry, 72-page annual report of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lay a startling admission: U.S. health officials under President Donald Trump worked to convince Brazil to reject Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.” Brazil has long stood as the second highest COVID-19 infected country in the world behind the US, with over 11.5 confirmed infections so far (with the US now approaching the 30 million mark). Here’s the key controversial section from the 71-page document. The section is entitled “Combatting malignant influence in the Americas”…

“Examples include using OGA’s Health Attache office to persuade Brazil to reject the Russian COVID-19 vaccine,” the government report spelled out explicitly. Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since claimed it never received directives or “consultations” such as are described in the report from the US, with a statement saying, “the Embassy of Brazil in Washington has not received consultations or actions from United States authorities or companies regarding the possible purchase, by Brazil, of the Russian vaccine against Covid-19.” Kremlin spokesman Peskov in his comments didn’t name the allegations specifically but only denounced generally that “In many countries the scale of pressure is quite unprecedented… such selfish attempts to force countries to abandon any vaccines have no prospects.

Read more …

“Cuomo is not liked and, now, not useful. If Biden becomes similarly expendable in the future, he may finally face the same kind of treatment.”

Biden Gets Away With Exactly What Cuomo Is Accused Of (Emmons)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been accused of unwanted touching and sexual harassment. President Joe Biden has been accused of everything from creepily sniffing women’s hair to sexual assault. Yet Biden is the one who gets the folksy treatment, perceived as merely touchy-feely, while Cuomo, despite his status as prince of the pandemic press conference, could be facing the end of his career. Prominent Democrats have called for the governor’s resignation over the scandal. Seven women now say they experienced unwanted touching at the governor’s hands. Cuomo claims he never did it, and apologized for making anyone feel bad. By his own admission, Cuomo may be a little handsy. He’s said that “You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people . . . it is my usual and customary way of greeting.”

The public is meant to believe that it’s simply part of his charm. Contrast this to Biden in 2019, who said “I’m not sorry for any of my intentions, I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done. I have never been disrespectful intentionally or a man or a woman. So that’s not the reputation I’ve had since I was in high school for God’s sake.” Cuomo apologized and he’s going down. Biden refused to apologize, and he’s practically sanctified. “Social norms are changing. I understand that,” Biden said, “and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”

But has he? He barely gave a glance at Tara Reade’s accusations, never mind the myriad other women who stepped forward to say that Biden made them uneasy either with touching or his penchant for sniffing. The charges against Biden are well-documented, but it’s Cuomo that’s in the hot seat, and Biden chilling in the Oval. A take down of Biden over sexual harassment charges is simply not politically expedient. But for Democrats, Cuomo has got to go. While they are loath to admit it, the outcry over the sexual harassment scandal is likely about something else. Cuomo is embarrassing for Democrats who praised him during the COVID-19 outbreak. An investigation by the attorney general’s office found that not only did the Cuomo administration undercount nursing home deaths by up to 50 percent, they did so on purpose in order to avoid political fallout.

The Democrats who are intent on hounding Cuomo out of office do not want the political fallout of the nursing home deaths. It’s easier to hold Cuomo’s hands to the fire over these allegations of unwanted touching than it is to deal with the intentional cover-up of elder deaths, in which they may find themselves to have been complicit. In short, Cuomo is not liked and, now, not useful. If Biden becomes similarly expendable in the future, he may finally face the same kind of treatment.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1371660114629849094

Read more …

Hirschhorn reached out to me after I published VandenBossche’s piece. I haven’t read his book -yet-. The video seems interesting.

Pandemic Blunder (Hirschhorn)

A huge amount of data and information not covered by mainstream media are in Pandemic Blunder that tells the story of how over 300,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 unnecessarily because the government has blocked early home treatment and prevention.  With 500,000 COVID deaths, learning about safe and effective early home treatment/prevention more important than ever. About the Book: Pandemic Blunder contains considerable medical information and data to support a number of proven safe, cheap generic medicines and protocols that knock out the coronavirus when given early. Read about the pioneering, courageous doctors who have been using innovative approaches to prevent their COVID patients from needing hospital care and facing death.

The book includes many expert opinions from doctors who support the view that 70 to 80 percent of COVID deaths could have been prevented—and still can be. Don’t be victimized by disinformation and propaganda from leftist media. Learn how corrupt forces are aiming to make billions of dollars from expensive medicines and vaccines, and how hundreds of thousands of deaths could have—and should have—been prevented! Pandemic blunder is defined as the failure of the United States public health system and federal agencies to support and promote early home/outpatient treatment for the COVID-19 pandemic disease. 

Considerable medical information and data convincingly show that when given early a number of proven safe, cheap generic medicines and protocols knock out the coronavirus. Early means within the first few days of getting symptoms or a positive test. Some pioneering and courageous doctors have been using innovative approaches to prevent their covid patients from needing hospital care and facing death. Many expert views of doctors support the view that 70 percent to 80 percent of covid deaths could have been prevented – and still can for future victims of the disease.  Learn how hundreds of thousands of deaths could have and should have been prevented.

This book does more than describe the pandemic blunder, particularly in terms of the influence of Dr. Anthony Fauci. It can help Americans protect their lives by not being victimized by disinformation and propaganda from leftist media.  Pandemic management has failed because of corrupt forces aiming to make billions of dollars from expensive medicines and vaccines. There has been a widespread dereliction of duty on the part of many local, state, and federal government officials.

Read more …

The virus is endemic. New variants will keep emerging.

New Covid-19 Variant Found In Brittany May Not Show Up In Regular Tests (RT)

France’s health ministry has warned that a new variant of Covid-19 found in the country’s north may evade conventional PCR testing, but initial analysis suggests it is not more contagious or deadly. On Monday, the Directorate General of Health (DGS) said in a press release that a new Covid-19 variant was being investigated after genomic sequencing confirmed the existence of 8 cases at a single hospital, where the new strain had been identified but had initially not shown up after PCR tests. The DGS said the new variant does not appear to be more contagious or deadly, although this is a very early assessment.


The statement adds that the virus appears to have evaded RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test results on nasopharyngeal samples. Instead, the diagnosis had to be made “by serology or by performing RT-PCR on deep respiratory samples.” The statement concludes by noting that the local authorities and prefectures are stepping up measures to curb the transmission of the virus, “as a precaution.” Measures include “speeding up vaccination, reminding people of the importance of social distancing and limiting gatherings.” In a message to healthcare professionals, the DGS said analysis carried out by the Pasteur Institute had revealed the new variant was “carrying nine mutations in the region encoding the S protein but also in other viral regions.”

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Freedom.

Why We All MUST Reject Vaccine Passports (Krainer)

The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is really fear.
– Mohandas Gandhi


To ‘normalize’ vaccine passports, the idea is increasingly being discussed in the media as we trudge on through the umpteenth version of lockdowns. On Saturday (13 March 2021) I got accosted by the police in Cap d’Ail (south of France) for the offense of taking my kids out in the sun without having a justificatif. I have long lost track of the ever changing rules and shifting logic, but I didn’t feel like arguing. The police were just doing their jobs, enforcing shitty rules that harass and antagonize people. For example, I would have been allowed to be where I was if it were a working day, but since it was Saturday, it was verboten. The objective of such rules is nothing to do with public health; they are intended to exasperate us all to the point where we yield to the indignity of vaccine passports when they are rolled out, just so we can live our lives and be left in peace.

Alexis de Tocqueville understood the nature of this dumb, slow march of bankers’ tyranny. In “Democracy in America” (1835) he predicted that the society would fall into a new kind of servitude which, “covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules,” which “does not tyrannise but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes and stupefies people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the sheppard.” De Tocqeville’s book was published mere two years after President Andrew Jackson ended the Second Bank of the United States, and the struggles between the bankers and the society was very pertinent to his observations.


The small complicated rules are a sinister trap and it is imperative that we not fall into it. Even if we are ready to yield on vaccines and vaccine passports to end our present predicament, our children and grandchildren will have to live with the consequences of our compromises. We therefore have no right to decline this struggle.

Read more …

Former chief investment officer of Sustainable Investing at BlackRock

Wall Street Is Greenwashing The Financial World (Fancy)

The financial services industry is duping the American public with its pro-environment, sustainable investing practices. This multitrillion dollar arena of socially conscious investing is being presented as something it’s not. In essence, Wall Street is greenwashing the economic system and, in the process, creating a deadly distraction. I should know; I was at the heart of it. As the former chief investment officer of Sustainable Investing at BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world with $8.7 trillion in assets, I led the charge to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) into our global investments. In fact, our messaging helped mainstream the concept that pursuing social good was also good for the bottom line. Sadly, that’s all it is, a hopeful idea. In truth, sustainable investing boils down to little more than marketing hype, PR spin and disingenuous promises from the investment community.

In many instances across the industry, existing mutual funds are cynically rebranded as “green” — with no discernible change to the fund itself or its underlying strategies — simply for the sake of appearances and marketing purposes. In other cases, ESG products contain irresponsible companies such as petroleum majors and other large polluters like “fast fashion” manufacturing to boost the fund’s performance. There are even portfolio managers who actively mine ESG data to bet against environmentally responsible companies in the name of profit, a short-selling strategy. Risk managers are focused on protecting their investment portfolios from potential damages done by a worsening climate rather than helping prevent that damage from occurring in the first place.


As disheartening as this reality is, claiming to be environmentally responsible is profitable. Last year alone, ESG mutual funds and exchange-traded funds nearly doubled. The investment community understandably reacted to this with cheers. But those cheers were only for fund managers and their bottom lines. No matter what they tout as green investing, portfolio managers are legally bound (as well as financially incentivized) to do nothing that compromises profits. To advance real change in the environment simply doesn’t yield the same return.

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Green New Deal.

US Joins India And China In Ramping Up Coal Usage (ZH)

Major users of coal across the world are set to ramp up their usage of the fossil fuel in coming months. Power plants in the U.S. are expected to consume 16% more coal this year than in 2020 and another 3% on top of that in 2022. China and India also have “no plans to cut back” their use of burning the fossil fueld. In fact, “it’ll almost be as if the pandemic-induced drop in emissions never happened,” Bloomberg reports. Inevitably, this will result in higher emissions, which stands at stark odds with the climate initiatives that President Joe Biden ran on. Amanda Levin, policy analyst at the New York-based National Resources Defense Council said: “We’re going to see a really marked increase in emissions with coal consumption at U.S. power plants returning almost to 2019 levels.”

She says that changes to mitigate usage could happen quickly if Biden implements his planned green-energy policies. In the U.S., the ramp comes as a result of both costlier natural gas, and a broad re-opening from the pandemic. For India and China, the steady use is indicative of growing demand, despite the fact that both countries are trying to use wind and solar, as well. China’s power consumption, for example, has grown, despite the country reducing coal’s share in the nation’s energy makeup. President Biden’s upcoming infrastructure bill is expected to include plans to “fulfill his campaign pledges on climate change, making the U.S. best poised to salvage progress in reducing global emissions,” Bloomberg reports. In China, President Xi Jinping has committed to net-zero emissions by 2060.

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It will be a long fight.

Courts Close In On Gig Economy Firms Globally (G.)

Gig economy companies, including Uber and Deliveroo, have faced at least 40 major legal challenges around the world as delivery drivers and riders try to improve their rights. The analysis of 39 employment cases, and seven linked cases on matters such as competition law, covers legal action in 20 countries including Australia, Chile, Brazil, South Korea, Canada and across Europe. The cases have been brought by gig economy workers seeking access to basic rights, such as minimum wages and sick pay. Put together by the International Lawyers Assisting Workers Network of more than 600 lawyers from at least 70 countries, the report highlights a string of court rulings in favour of drivers including in Italy, where authorities have fined Uber Eats, Glovo, Just Eat, and Deliveroo €733m (£628m) for misclassifying 60,000 couriers. That case is being appealed against.

A court in Spain ruled last year that drivers for food delivery firm Glovo were employees and the government in Madrid has since announced legislation confirming delivery riders’ status as salaried staff. In South Korea, a driver working via the Tada van hailing app was also ruled to be an employee. Last month, the UK supreme court dismissed Uber’s appeal against a landmark employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers with access to the minimum wage and paid holidays. On Tuesday night, Uber announced it will guarantee its 70,000 UK drivers a minimum hourly wage, holiday pay and pensions, in a dramatic u-turn which could put pressure on other gig economy firms to change tack.


Jeff Vogt, at the Washington DC based Solidarity Center workers rights group, said there was a clear trend towards recognising improved rights and employment status for those working for gig economy companies dealing with food delivery and taxi hire. “The courts are closing in on them,” he said. However, the report also warns that not all claims are successful and states must act to enforce the regulations as gig economy firms use their considerable resources to defend their practices. Tactics include contracts with mandatory arbitration clauses, which fend off legal action by forcing those with a grievance to pay costly administration and filing fees in the preliminary stages. This has proved a particular problem in the US.

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”..we have the technology to make hyperinflation safe, comfortable, convenient and fun for the whole family!”

Getting Hyperinflation Right (Dmitry Orlov)

The sheer mechanics of hyperinflation—of printing and issuing ever more notes, repeatedly exchanging older, increasingly worthless notes for newer ones, making payments using cartloads and wagonloads of cash—become increasingly burdensome. When it takes an entire suitcase of cash to pay for a pack of cigarettes or a bar of soap, soap and cigarettes themselves become a makeshift form of currency. Hyperinflation is most unpopular with people who insist on storing their savings in the form of cash. In response, they turn to buying up and hoarding other things, causing shortages and further driving up prices. But all of these problems can now be solved because we have the technology to make hyperinflation safe, comfortable, convenient and fun for the whole family!

However, this requires a change in mindset and a different approach to money. To start with, we need to recognize that money is not a physical quantity. It is dimensionless because it can only be measured relative to other currencies. Unlike any physical quantity, it is measured with infinite precision; any physical measurement, be it in kilograms, cubic meters or kilowatt-hours, has to have error bars on it to be meaningful, while monetary quantities, no matter how large, are precise down to the last penny. It is circularly defined: money derives its value from things that can be purchased with it, and these things in turn derive their price from the value of money.


Although money can be given a physical representation in the form of coins or paper currency, its essential nature is ephemeral, nonphysical and intangible. In essence, money only exists as pure thought in the minds of people who are involved in its exchange. Its physical embodiments are just theatrical props. Its reality is conceptual, similar to that of the irrational number π, which can also be given a physical representation—as, say, a one-meter-diameter circle carved in stone that has a circumference of π meters—but that would be pointless. Just as π is ubiquitous in mathematics, money is ubiquitous in economics.

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Mar 142021
 
 March 14, 2021  Posted by at 9:44 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  34 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Woman sitting in a armchair 1910

 

One Year Into ‘15 Days To Flatten The Curve’ (Marsden)
Will Kids Ever Forgive Us For Depriving Them Of Their Childhood? (Bridge)
Lockdown Ending Could Trigger Anxiety For Many, Say UK Charities (G.)
Study: Vaccines DO Help To Stop Coronavirus Transmission – By 30% (RT)
Free Speech: And… It’s Gone (Luongo)
Police Round Up Women Mourning London Kidnapping-murder Victim (RT)
If You Thought The Right To Protest Was Inalienable, Then Think Again (Malik)
100+ People To Be Charged In Storming Of US Capitol (RT)
Prosecutors Find No Evidence Of Wide-Ranging Conspiracy To Storm Capitol (RT)
Bandaging The Corpse (Chris Hedges)
The Cannibalization Is Complete: Only Inedible Zombies Remain (CHS)
Cuomo Staffers Have Stopped Showing Up To Work (NYP)
The War In Ukraine May Soon Resume (MoA)
Children Packed Into Border Patrol Tent For Days On End (AP)
CNN Hemorrhages Viewers Post-Trump (RT)
The ‘American Dream’ Of Upward Mobility Is Broken (G.)

 

 

The US goes to Daylight Saving Time today, but Europe not until March 28. I know they do this only to confuse me, and it works. Every single time.

 

 

I am not vaccinated, but I do identify as vaccinated.

 

 

 

 

“The handiwork of government bureaucrats, the form aimed to fit each allowable activity in our daily lives into a neat little box.”

One Year Into ‘15 Days To Flatten The Curve’ (Marsden)

In the 12 months since states first started ordering citizens to stay at home under the pretext of Covid, we’ve come a long way. Particularly in our understanding of how illiberal our politicians can be and how supine we are.
One year ago, at noon on Tuesday, March 17, France went into total lockdown for the first time. Until then, Covid-19 was something of which we were faintly aware – background noise in our daily lives that was mostly relegated to Wuhan, China. But we all had that one moment when we realized that it was about to hit home hard. In my case, that instant came two days before the lockdown, when the local outdoor pool posted a sign on the door drastically reducing the total user capacity to just 100, right before closing entirely the following day.

On March 16, French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation to announce what he described as temporary measures, to be implemented for at least 15 days. Only essential trips outside the home would be allowed. Period. Case closed. All in the interests of protecting the French healthcare system, the long-suffering victim of perennial government cutbacks, from being forced onto life-support as it tends to be nearly every year during flu season. The government’s drastic actions successfully convinced many citizens at the outset of the lockdown that the coronavirus must be on par with the plague. Macron opened the first few paragraphs of his national address with the phrase, “We are at war.” Yet even the government didn’t really know what it was dealing with at that point or how to handle it.

The fear mongering was, however, sufficient for people to panic and to accept whatever restrictions the authorities wanted to impose on them. “Stay home, save lives” and “15 days to flatten the curve” became the primary propaganda catchphrases. Then emerged the now-infamous French self-authorization form, mocked around the world. (It wasn’t until the second lockdown or the first or second nightly curfew that more people realized that they could really just tick off anything that they wanted since there was no real way for the authorities to verify claims, and that, in practice, police weren’t too interested in policing people for the “crime” of simply being on the streets.) The handiwork of government bureaucrats, the form aimed to fit each allowable activity in our daily lives into a neat little box.

One box for an hour of exercise, once a day, within a 1km radius from the home. One for a grocery run. One for a doctor’s visit. Public transport was reduced to a trickle as everyone was ordered to work from home with the exception of a limited list of workers that the government defined as essential. The term “essential worker” itself is offensive, particularly coming from government authorities whose income is a direct result of taxes imposed on the hard work of those it apparently considers unessential. The other irony is that when only the most essential workers as defined by the government were permitted by the state to do their jobs – the grocery store clerks, the maintenance workers and repairmen, the nurses and caregivers – it became clear how little their pay reflected their true value to society as defined by the government.

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Will they know the difference?

Will Kids Ever Forgive Us For Depriving Them Of Their Childhood? (Bridge)

Critics of lockdowns & school closures to halt Covid-19 have compared the effects to child abuse. And now that new data points to some deeply disturbing long-term psychological damage, it looks like they were right. Abiding by the new age medical maxim that commands ‘everyone stop living so that you don’t die’ is no way to live. Yet that is exactly how millions of youngsters have been forced to cope with a disease that poses, in the overwhelming majority of cases, no more of a health risk to them than riding a bicycle or crossing an intersection. And while socially isolating the youth may have spared a minuscule fraction from contracting coronavirus, the total impact such measures have had on the mental wellbeing of this demographic has been a disastrous tradeoff.

The results from the most inhumane experiment ever conducted on human beings are in, and we should all be ashamed of ourselves for letting it happen. In a white paper published by the nonprofit FAIR Health, the consequences of lockdowns on the mental health of American students reveal what many people already know: “School closures, having to learn remotely and isolating from friends due to social distancing have been sources of stress and loneliness.” The real shocker, however, is how that statement plays out in real life. In March and April 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, mental health claims among this young demographic exploded 97.0 percent and 103.5 percent, respectively, compared to the same months in 2019.

To break it down even further, there was a dramatic surge in cases involving “intentional self-harm” using a handgun, sharp object and even smashing a vehicle, as the more popular examples. The rate of incidence for such destructive behaviors amid 13-18 year olds jumped 90.71 percent in March 2020 compared to March 2019. The increase was even greater when comparing April 2020 to April 2019, almost doubling (99.83 percent). August 2020 was particularly active in the northeast sector of the country, showing a surge of 333.93 percent. Similarly major increases were found among the 19-22 age category, although not quite as pronounced as the 13-18 group.

Another sign that young Americans have suffered undue psychological distress during the pandemic is observable from the rate of overdoses and substance abuse. For those between the ages of 13-18, overdoses increased 94.91 percent in March 2020 and 119.31 percent in April 2020 over the same periods the year before. Meanwhile, substance use disorders surged in March (64.64 percent) and April (62.69 percent) 2020, compared to 2019.

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Growacet.

Lockdown Ending Could Trigger Anxiety For Many, Say UK Charities (G.)

The lifting of lockdown restrictions and the subsequent return to schools, workplaces and social events could trigger heightened levels of stress and anxiety for many people, UK mental health charities and experts have said. They say some, particularly those with mental health concerns, will be worried or anxious about the readjustment required by the lifting of lockdown restrictions as set out in the government’s gradual roadmap for reopening England. Dr Tine Van Bortel, a senior research associate in public health at the University of Cambridge, said: “Lockdown has given people with mental health conditions like anxiety and PTSD permission to stay at home, and knowing that at some point you’ll have to go out again can actually trigger stress and anxiety.”

Rosie Weatherley, an information content manager at Mind, said: “Some of us might have found there were some unexpected plus points to lockdown – and therefore feel uneasy or anxious at the prospect of it being lifted. For example, we may be worried about ‘normality’ resuming, or not wanting to return to a faster pace with busier daily lives, and less downtime to ourselves.” She said it was “really important” for government and employers to provide empathy and support for those who need it “beyond lockdown lifting”. From 29 March, outdoor gatherings of up to six people, or two households if this is larger, will be able to meet in parks or gardens, and 21 June is the prospective date on which all legal limits on mixing could be removed.


Laura Peters, the head of advice and information at Rethink Mental Illness, welcomed the relaxing of restrictions and the subsequent reduction in social isolation, but said: “It’s important not to assume that everyone’s in the same boat. Everyone will have a different set of circumstances to navigate as restrictions start to ease, and it’s a natural human response to feel anxious in certain situations or during times of uncertainty.” Even among groups such as young people who are broadly optimistic about lockdown ending, concerns remain. A YoungMinds survey conducted in January found that while 79% of young people agreed that their mental health would start to improve when most restrictions were lifted, some were concerned that the end of the lockdown would happen too quickly and result in further lockdowns in future. “Again and again, young people said they felt like they were experiencing ‘Groundhog Day’, and above all they wish for an end to a cycle of freedoms followed by restrictions,” says the report.

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That’s less than vitamin D?!

Study: Vaccines DO Help To Stop Coronavirus Transmission – By 30% (RT)

A new study has found that Covid-19 vaccines stop people passing the virus on to others. The study is one of several with similar findings, and may pave the way for scientists to support the introduction of ‘vaccine passports.’ A preprint study posted on Friday has found that family members of vaccinated British healthcare workers were around 30 percent less likely to catch Covid-19 than those of unvaccinated workers. Though a reduction of 30 percent may seem minor, the study pointed out that these family members were also at risk of catching the virus outside the home, making the figure an “underestimate of the ‘true’ effect of vaccination on transmission.” We provide the first direct evidence that vaccinating individuals working in high-exposure settings reduces the risk to their close contacts – members of their households.

The study was carried out by researchers at a number of top UK universities and institutions, including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Imperial College NHS Trust and the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine of University of Edinburgh. Elsewhere, Israeli researchers have also found that US drugmaker Pfizer’s vaccine is 94 percent effective against asymptomatic transmission of the virus, while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently loosened its guidelines for people who’ve taken the jab, returning what the press termed “limited freedoms” to this group. However, health officials in the US have insisted that masking and social distancing are here for the long term, regardless of the efficacy of vaccines.


White House adviser Anthony Fauci last month stated that face coverings may be required until 2022, declaring that “there are things, even if you’re vaccinated, that you’re not going to be able to do in society.” The World Health Organization declared last month that “there are still critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission,” in a statement advising against the introduction of so-called ‘vaccine passports’ for air travel. This advice is set to be revised in May, and the latest findings from the UK and Israel could bolster the argument for proof of vaccination as a prerequisite for international travel. Devi Sridhar, a professor of public health at Edinburgh University, predicted that the UK study will pave the way for “aviation & international mobility [safely opening] up with testing & vaccine passports,” but added that doing so would raise “major ethical issues.”

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It’s become a joke.

Free Speech: And… It’s Gone (Luongo)

It’s no surprise to me that the war against speech is accelerating. There’s desperation in the air everywhere. From the barricading of the U.S. Capitol since January 6th to the shrill calls for continued lockdowns over a virus mostly behind us, we see those with power lashing out trying to hold on to it. And it’s no more obvious than in the lockdowns on speech. In the past week we’ve seen another major assault on Twitter-alternative Gab. A massive attack on its security architecture handing out the passwords and information of millions of users to the dark web. Then Texas Governor Greg Abbott, you know the guy who let millions of Texans freeze last month rather than order the coal-fired plants brought online in defiance of the DoE, piles on calling Gab “anti-semetic.”

Abbott’s just doing what he’s paid to do, serve everyone but Texas. Gab CEO Andrew Torba then informed us that the attacks on Gab are far deeper than even a putz like Abbott’s. The relentless pressure to cut his company off from the doing business continues, with bank after bank refusing to do business with them. Torba’s invoking Operation Chokepoint is important here. It reminds us that Biden is a cypher put in place to restore Obama to the White House as functional president. Honestly, taking a step back, is this at all rational? All Torba and Gab want to do is operate a social media platform that conforms, ruthlessly, to the first amendment. Nothing more, nothing less.


It’s not like Gab is funded by foreign intelligence services spreading obvious agitprop and propaganda. No, sorry, that’s the job of the mainstream media and Twitter. I thought if we didn’t like the treatment we got on Twitter we could go ‘build our own’ and that would be fine. Separate but equal, freedom of and from association and all that. But, no, any competition that doesn’t adhere to the current orthodoxy of what constitutes ‘acceptable speech’ is now no longer tolerated. Free Speech is not an option. It’s an obvious coordinated assault from every angle to extend ‘cancel culture’ into a cultural revolution. Because it’s not enough to hound people whose opinions you don’t like from the public square, they have to be beaten out of society entirely, even if the means employed to do so are patently hypocritical.

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“The irony of it is so explicit – are you going to drag women off the street for protesting about a woman being dragged off the street?”

Police Round Up Women Mourning London Kidnapping-murder Victim (RT)

A London vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard — held in defiance of a police order amid the Covid-19 pandemic – turned ugly after large numbers of officers arrived and tried to clear people from the area.
Several organizers of Saturday’s vigil at Clapham Common were reportedly arrested, and footage from the scene showed clashes with police. One clip posted on Twitter shows several women standing on the edge of a bandstand where police congregated, including one holding a sign that says, “We aren’t safe in our homes.” Four women are then grabbed from behind by officers, pulled back and arrested after several people in the crowd try unsuccessfully to pull them back.


One of those women was shown face down on the ground being handcuffed by police in a photo posted by actor and political activist Guillaume Rivaud. Talk show host George Galloway, a former member of Parliament, called the shot a “fatal photograph” for Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick. Home Secretary Priti Patel said she has asked Metropolitan Police for a “full report” on what happened at the vigil, according to Sky News. One clip from the scene shows police being booed and shouted at by the crowd after they stepped onto the bandstand around 6:30 p.m. The March 3 kidnapping and murder of Everard, allegedly by a London police constable, became a rallying cry over the dangers to women on UK streets. Green Party politician Baroness Jenny Jones went so far as to suggest imposing a 6 p.m. curfew on all men.

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“There is a specific section on “imposing conditions on one-person protests…”

If You Thought The Right To Protest Was Inalienable, Then Think Again (Malik)

The next time you take part in protest, don’t shout too loudly, don’t get in anybody’s way and don’t cause a commotion. Best to sit quietly in a corner and whisper your grievances. That certainly would be what many governments would like. Authoritarian regimes, from Myanmar to Saudi Arabia and from Belarus to China, try to impose such curbs by brute force. Democratic nations rely more on “consent”. Consent, however, is a slippery beast, spawned from a process of constant negotiation and renegotiation between the authorities and a multitude of public voices. The pandemic has created a public health emergency requiring constraints on our rights and unprecedented levels of policing. By and large, the authorities have gained the consent of the British public to impose such restrictions.

The question now is how far an exceptional year has shifted our sense of what is acceptable and to what we will consent. One straw in the wind was the attempt by the Metropolitan police to shut down the Reclaim These Streets march on Saturday evening following the death of Sarah Everard. The police stance felt not just astonishingly ham-fisted in the wake of her death, given the public mood and the debate about the right of women to walk the streets safely and without restrictions. It also felt like the latest attempt by the authorities to take advantage of the pandemic to reset the balance of what is acceptable policing. Another straw in the wind is the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, published last week, to no fanfare, and about which there has been little discussion.

It’s a monstrosity of a bill. Its 296 pages cover everything from making it harder to prosecute police for dangerous driving to new regulations about unauthorised encampments (which appear to be aimed at the Traveller community), from setting minimum sentences for drug trafficking to encouraging the use of British sign language interpreters in courts. At the heart of it, though, is an assault on the ability of people to protest. The government has made clear that the proposed law is the product of a desire to curtail the kinds of protests we saw last summer with Black Lives Matter, on the one hand, and Extinction Rebellion, on the other. The home secretary, Priti Patel, has long expressed her distaste for the Black Lives Matter protests.

The official policy paper on the new bill begins with quotes from Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, on how the Extinction Rebellion actions demonstrated the need for new laws “to deal with protests where people are not primarily violent or seriously disorderly” but do cause disruption. The 1986 Public Order Act already allows police to impose restrictions on a demonstration if they believe it could create “serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community”. The new bill extends these reasons for curbing protests: the police can curtail a demonstration if they believe “the noise” it makes is disrupting the “activities of an organisation” or has a “relevant impact on persons in the vicinity”. It does not matter how small or large a protest is. There is a specific section on “imposing conditions on one-person protests”.

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Not one firearm was confiscated. Not one shot was fired.

100+ People To Be Charged In Storming Of US Capitol (RT)

At least another hundred people connected to the January 6 storming of the US Capitol are expected to be charged with a variety of crimes, according to prosecutors. “The investigation continues and the government expects that at least one hundred additional individuals will be charged,” claimed the prosecutors in court filings first reported by Fox News on Friday, noting that 300 people have already been charged and that the Justice Department is also “investigating conspiratorial activity” that may have taken place before the riot. They added that the investigation and subsequent prosecution “will likely be one of the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence.”

Crimes being investigated allegedly include trespassing, violent conduct, assault against police officers, the theft and destruction of government property, civil disorder, conspiracy, and “firearms offenses,” among others. The court filings also claimed that over 900 search warrants have been conducted around the country since the incident, and that over 15,000 hours of footage has been compiled as evidence. Supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol on January 6, just two weeks before the inauguration of President Joe Biden, to protest Trump’s electoral defeat. One Capitol Police officer and four protesters died during the incident, and many others were injured.


The Biden administration used the storming of the Capitol to post thousands of National Guard soldiers in Washington, DC – where they have been positioned for over two months, despite a lack of violent activity in the area – and have requested to keep the soldiers there through late May, despite the National Guard Association calling it “completely inappropriate at best” and “illegal at worst.”

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“..the plan envisaged fending off possible left-wing violence, not storming the Capitol, his defense said.”

Prosecutors Find No Evidence Of Wide-Ranging Conspiracy To Storm Capitol (RT)

A US judge has ordered the release of retired Navy officer Kenneth Caldwell, accused of being part of an Oath Keepers militia plot to invade the Capitol, pending trial, as no evidence to back the conspiracy claims has turned up. Judge Amit Mehta said that Caldwell did not enter the Capitol building, nor was there direct evidence of him trying to force his way in. “There are no text messages, communications by him, that speak to entering a building or trying to enter the building. And ultimately, he did not enter the building,” Mehta said, as he ordered the 65-year-old’s release from jail. Because he did not breach the Capitol grounds, he was “differently situated” from his alleged co-conspirators, the judge said, ordering Caldwell to remain at his Berryville, Virginia home under GPS monitoring.

This conspiracy case is so far the biggest in the investigation into the January 6 riot, in which a crowd of Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and disrupted the counting of electoral votes cast in the presidential election. The conspiracy charges against Caldwell were among the first to be brought in connection with the events in Washington, DC. At Friday’s hearing, Caldwell’s attorney, David Fischer, pointed out that the prosecutors still have to provide evidence that the alleged sinister plan to infiltrate the Capitol actually existed. While admitting that no evidence was unearthed to support the conspiracy charges, federal prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy insisted that the militia was prepared to resort to violence.

“The bottom line from the government’s perspective is they were prepared to do violence in whatever ways they needed to,” Rakoczy, who was part of the Mueller probe into the debunked theory that former President Donald Trump colluded with Russia, said, according to Politico. Nevertheless, she admitted that prosecutors “do not have, at this point, someone explicitly saying, ‘Our plan is to storm the Capitol to stop certification,’” referring to nine alleged Oath Keepers who had been charged in February with a wide-ranging conspiracy “to commit an offense against the United States, namely, to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding” as well as entering the Capitol to that effect.

Caldwell was initially described by the media as the leader of the militia. His attorney later argued that Caldwell had never been a member of the group, and although he was involved in the Oath Keepers’ preparations for January 6, the plan envisaged fending off possible left-wing violence, not storming the Capitol, his defense said.

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”Much of this money will be instantly gobbled up by landlords, lenders, medical providers, and credit card companies.”

Bandaging The Corpse (Chris Hedges)

The established ruling elites know there is a crisis. They agreed, at least temporarily, to throw money at it with the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 bill known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP). But the ARP will not alter the structural inequities, either by raising the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour or imposing taxes and regulations on corporations or the billionaire class that has seen its wealth increase by a staggering $1.1 trillion since the start of the pandemic. The health system will remain privatized, meaning the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations will reap a windfall of tens of billions of dollars with the ARP – and this when they are already making record profits. The endless wars in the Middle East, and the bloated military budget that funds them, will remain sacrosanct.

Wall Street and the predatory global speculators that profit from the massive levels of debt peonage imposed on an underpaid working class and loot the US Treasury in our casino capitalism will continue to funnel money upwards into the hands of a tiny, oligarchic cabal. There will be no campaign finance reform to end our system of legalized bribery. The giant tech monopolies will remain intact. The fossil fuel companies will continue to ravage the ecosystem. The militarized police, censorship imposed by digital media platforms, vast prison system, harsher and harsher laws aimed at curbing domestic terrorism and dissent, and wholesale government surveillance will be, as they were before, the primary instruments of state control.


This act will, at best, provide a momentary respite from the country’s death spiral, sending out one-time checks of $1,400 to 280 million Americans, extending $300 weekly unemployment benefits until the end of August, and distributing $3,600 through a tax credit for children under the age of six and $3,000 per child aged six to 17 starting on July 1. Much of this money will be instantly gobbled up by landlords, lenders, medical providers, and credit card companies. The act does, to its credit, bail out some one million unionized workers poised to lose their pensions, and hands $31.2 billion in aid to Native communities, some of the poorest in the nation. But what happens to the majority of Americans, who get government support for only a few months? What are they supposed to do when the checks stop arriving at the end of the year? Will the federal government orchestrate another massive relief package? I doubt it. We will be back where we started.

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“..a starving cannibal grabs a staggering zombie corporation to devour and the zombie instantly turns to dust.”

The Cannibalization Is Complete: Only Inedible Zombies Remain (CHS)

Setting aside the fictional flood of zombie movies for a moment, we find the real-world horror is the cannibalization of our economy, a cannibalization that is now complete. Every organic source of prosperity and productivity has been captured and consumed, hidden behind the convenient curtains of central bank intervention, “market forces” (hahaha), financialization and fiscal stimulus. All that’s left now are zombies feeding off the offal of stimulus. Sadly for the cannibals who’ve feasted so well for decades, zombies are inedible. So now the cannibals are starving. Poor cannibals! Once the stimulus runs out, no more zombies. Poor zombies!

The cannibals feasted on $50 trillion in earnings stripped from the bones of the workforce (Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018, RAND Corporation) and trillions more in fraud and financial gimmickry. And when the cannibals had consumed the bottom 90%, they moved on and devoured the next 5%. That left only the top 5%, which they needed to keep alive to maintain the curtains masking their ghoulish destruction. But after gorging on trillions for so long, the cannibals appetites can never be sated, so they ambushed their loyal toadies, apologists, lackeys, apparatchiks and sycophants of the top 4.9% and ate them, too, but a bit more stealthily because they still needed an army of toadies to do their dirty work.


The top 4.9% have been transformed into zombies so stealthily they still believe they’re in charge and wealthy–hahaha, the jokes on you! With nobody left to devour, the cannibals turned to their last resort: the Federal Reserve. Please print us up some more bodies to feast on, Federal Reserve. We demand it. We want it, we need it, we’re starving. Alas, the Fed can print currency to inflate speculative bubbles, but it can’t print real flesh for the cannibals. All the Fed can do is finance stimulus offal to feed the zombies. Sorry, cannibals, there’s nothing left to consume. There’s only inedible zombies kept alive by the Fed. There’s some sort of karmic irony in this, it seems: a starving cannibal grabs a staggering zombie corporation to devour and the zombie instantly turns to dust.

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Drip every day drip.

Cuomo Staffers Have Stopped Showing Up To Work (NYP)

Disillusioned staffers are abandoning embattled Gov. Cuomo, sources said. “I hear that most people aren’t even coming into work, and the offices at the Capitol are empty,” said one well-placed insider in touch with staffers in recent days.“He’ll fight and fight and fight, but the staffers I’ve talked to are ready for him to hang up the gloves. Everyone feels like there is an inevitable conclusion — I mean at some point will Biden call on him to step down? They [staffers] just want this torture to stop.”Rebellion in the ranks deepened as Cuomo on Friday defiantly refused to step aside and blamed “cancel culture” for his downfall.


“I feel a level of rage toward this fake tough guy,” seethed a second source, an ex-aide. “The guy thinks he’s the toughest, the hardest working, he’s the smartest. The truth is, he’s anything but. He’s the weakest, he’s the dumbest, and he’s the most shallow of them all. He is genuinely a very small man who pretends to be big.” The former aide said many staffers are not coming into the executive offices, but choosing to work remotely or at vaccine sites instead. They are increasingly worried their careers are in jeopardy, just as they were beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel after working around the clock for months during the pandemic. “Sometimes you have an ability to claim to be out in the field,” the ex-aide said.

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What job did they give Victoria Nuland in the end?

The War In Ukraine May Soon Resume (MoA)

Several Russia watchers – Patrick Armstrong, Andrei Martyanov and Andrei Raevsky – are musing about a renewed attack by the government of Ukraine on its eastern Donbass region. The Donbass separated in 2014 after the U.S. driven coup in Kiev installed an anti-Russian government which then waged a war on its ethnic Russian east. There have been a number of reports about heavy Ukrainian equipment moving east and other hints of military preparations. Russia has seen enough such signs to issue a strong warning: “I would like to warn the Kiev regime and the hotheads that are serving it or manipulating it against further de-escalation and attempts to implement a forceful scenario in Donbass,” [Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova] said, commenting on the statement of head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Contact Group for settlement in Donbass Leonid Kravchuk on some “radical steps” of Kiev if Russia refuses to recognize itself as a conflict side in eastern Ukraine.”

Zakharova recalled that the Minsk Agreements clearly outline the conflict sides in Donbass as Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. “The unwillingness of Ukrainian negotiators to recognize this fact and their refusal to find agreements with Donbass is the reason that hinders the establishment of long-lasting peace in the region,” the diplomat noted.” The main catalyst for such a war is the sorry state of the government in Kiev. The country is in in the midst of a constitutional crisis: “[T]he Constitutional Court of Ukraine (CCU) recently plunged the country into one of its deepest crises in its 30-year history. Specifically, on October 27, 2020, the Court declared that the main elements of Ukraine’s anti-corruption legislation, adopted between 2014 and 2020, were unconstitutional. In response, President Zelensky introduced legislation calling for the early termination of all Constitutional Court judges. Later, in December, he suspended the chairman of the Court for two months.”


“The result was widespread chaos in Ukraine’s political system. Zelensky’s actions were of questionable legality and provoked harsh criticism from all political sides. The ramifications of the Court’s decision include the cancellation of over 100 pending corruption investigations, a development that potentially could endanger future EU-Ukraine trade and economic cooperation Ukraine under the 2014 Association Agreement.” After the 2014 Euromaidan coup an ‘independent’ National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) was created to oversee the investigation and prosecution of corrupt state officials. The NABU has since been used by the U.S. embassy to bring criminal cases against those oligarchs it dislikes and to cover for those it likes. The constitutional court found that NABU is a criminal investigation agency outside the control of the executive branch which is a contradiction to the Ukrainian constitution.

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AOC!

Children Packed Into Border Patrol Tent For Days On End (AP)

Hundreds of immigrant children and teenagers have been detained at a Border Patrol tent facility in packed conditions, with some sleeping on the floor because there aren’t enough mats, according to nonprofit lawyers who conduct oversight of immigrant detention centers. The lawyers interviewed more than a dozen children Thursday in Donna, Texas, where the Border Patrol is holding more than 1,000 people. Some of the youths told the lawyers they had been at the facility for a week or longer, despite the agency’s three-day limit for detaining children. Many said they haven’t been allowed to phone their parents or other relatives who may be wondering where they are. Despite concerns about the coronavirus, the children are kept so closely together that they can touch the person next to them, the lawyers said.


Some have to wait five days or more to shower, and there isn’t always soap available, just shampoo, according to the lawyers. President Joe Biden’s administration denied the lawyers access to the tent facility. During the administration of former President Donald Trump, attorney visits to Border Patrol stations revealed severe problems, including dozens of children held at one rural station without adequate food, water, or soap. “It is pretty surprising that the administration talks about the importance of transparency and then won’t let the attorneys for children set eyes on where they’re staying,” said Leecia Welch of the National Center for Youth Law, one of the lawyers. “I find that very disappointing.” Although none of the children reported situations as severe as during the Trump era, Welch said the lawyers “weren’t able to lay eyes on any of it to see for ourselves, so we’re just piecing together what they said.”

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This must worry them. Cuomo will get some viewers, but they need more.

CNN Hemorrhages Viewers Post-Trump (RT)

CNN host Brian Stelter has analyzed the ratings losses of niche network Newsmax in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s exit from office, but his own team is taking the biggest viewership hit among major cable outlets. A report this week by Variety Intelligence Platform (VIP) showed that three of CNN’s primetime shows were the biggest ratings losers between November 30-December 4, when Trump was still in office, and March 1-5. Programs hosted by Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper, and Don Lemon posted declines in viewership of 29%, 32%, and 33% respectively between the two periods, VIP’s data showed. As Stelter acknowledged in his article on the post-election ratings decline at Newsmax, “news ratings rise and fall like tides.”

But among mainstream media outlets, CNN is clearly falling the hardest after losing the so-called ‘Trump Bump’ in ratings. The fourth- and fifth-biggest decliners measured by VIP were both MSNBC shows – hosted by Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Hayes – which lost 18% and 17% of their audiences, respectively. Lemon’s CNN show nearly doubled their losses with a 33% drop. In contrast, no other primetime show lost more than 12%, and Fox’s Tucker Carlson posted a ratings decline of just 4.8%. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was second-best in minimizing losses, at 9.1%. The final days of Trump’s presidency were perhaps the best of times for CNN. From the November 3 election through President Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration, CNN was the most-watched cable news network, with an average of 1.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings.


Fox, the long-time leader, dropped behind both CNN and MSNBC, averaging 1.5 million viewers. But the ranks quickly changed with Trump safely removed to Florida and the public’s appetite for Orange Man Bad conspiracies waning. Fox said it returned to No. 1 in primetime in February, while CNN lost nearly half of its audience. The losses grew after Trump’s impeachment trial ended in acquittal on February 13. When Biden gave a primetime speech on Thursday, nearly 4.1 million viewers watched it on Fox, compared with 2.9 million on MSNBC and 2.6 million on CNN. CNN is averaging 897,000 viewers in March, which Stelter pointed out is way more than Newsmax’s 152,000. But it’s about half the audience that CNN had between Election Day and Inauguration Day. Fox is once again far ahead, at 1.32 million.

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It’s been turned into a joke.

The ‘American Dream’ Of Upward Mobility Is Broken (G.)

The US has long prided itself as being an exceptionally fluid society with respect to social class and economic mobility. The American Dream holds that anyone who works hard can achieve economic success – perhaps even rise from rags to riches. Underlying this belief is the assumption of abundant opportunity and meritocracy. Arriving immigrants often believe they have come to a land of opportunity, with a level playing field allowing for advancement and success. Those who fail to do so tend to blame themselves. Yet according to recent research, the United States has far less mobility and equality of opportunity today than the European Union or other OECD countries.

First, the amount of economic advantage passed down from one generation to the next is much higher in the US. Approximately 50% of a father’s income position is inherited by his son. In contrast, the amount in Norway or Canada is less than 20%. What about rising from rags to riches? In the US, 8% of children raised in the bottom 20% of the income distribution are able to climb to the top 20% as adults, while the figure in Denmark is nearly double at 15%. Equality of opportunity is also much less viable in the US than in other OECD countries. American life expectancy varies by up to 20 years depending on the zip code of residence. Quality of education also differs widely depending on the wealth of the neighborhood that families reside in.


And the chances of being victimized by a crime, exposed to environmental toxins or having unmet healthcare needs is far greater for America’s poor than those impoverished in all other OECD countries. One of the reasons for lower US mobility is that the ladder of opportunity has become much harder to climb – because the rungs of the ladder have grown further apart. This is evidenced by the rising levels of income and wealth inequality. Currently, those in the top 20% of the income distribution earn nearly nine times more than those in the bottom 20%. This difference is far greater than in the European Union or the United Kingdom. Wealth inequality is even more skewed. In the United States, the top 5% of the population own three-quarters of the entire financial wealth of the country, while the bottom 60% possess less than 1%.

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Mar 132021
 
 March 13, 2021  Posted by at 9:41 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  31 Responses »


Times Square, New York 1954

 

DeSantis to Biden: Thought of Reinstating COVID-19 Restrictions ‘Insane’ (Hill)
Lockdowns Wrecked Democracy around the World (AIER)
3 Million Masks Used Globally Every Minute: Environmental Catastrophe (JTN)
More Countries Suspend AstraZeneca Coronavirus Vaccine (USN)
US And Pacific Partners To Flood Asia With Vaccines (Pol.)
EU’s Green Pass Will Only Be Valid With EMA-Approved COVID Vaccinations (EN)
Europe’s COVID Vaccine Rollout Faces Even More Delays (ZH)
Previews of Coming Attractions (Kunstler)
OPCW Chief Must ‘Find The Courage To Address’ Douma Coverup Allegations (RT)
Andrew Cuomo’s Hilarious ‘Cancel Culture’ Excuse (NYP)
The Sovietization of the American Press (Taibbi)
Criticizing Public Figures is Not Harassment or Abuse (Greenwald)
A Green New Deal Is More Expensive Than Joe Biden Realizes (Mises)
Boris Johnson Says UK ‘Legally’ Obtained Elgin Marbles, Won’t Return Them (RT)

 

 

The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I’ll make it
– James Baldwin

 

 

UK: By end of January 88% of over 80s had been vaccinated. By end of February 95% of over 80s had been vaccinated. In that time, 75,000 over 80s died. 75% of them had been vaccinated by the time they died.

 

 

 

 

“We’re gonna continue doing what works, but under no circumstances would we entertain anything of the sort.”

DeSantis to Biden: Thought of Reinstating COVID-19 Restrictions ‘Insane’ (Hill)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Friday blasted President Biden’s warning that the U.S. could need to reinstate certain coronavirus restrictions if the public does not stay “vigilant” about defeating COVID-19. “To even contemplate doing any type of lockdown, honestly it’s insane,” DeSantis said during a press conference in Florida, touting the state’s efforts to administer vaccines to the elderly and other populations. “That’s not gonna happen in the state of Florida,” the governor continued, referring to reinstating restrictions. “We’re gonna continue doing what works, but under no circumstances would we entertain anything of the sort.”


Biden has repeatedly vowed to not lock down the country but warned in a prime-time address Thursday night that some restrictions may have to be revisited if current downward trends change and the virus resurges. He emphasized, though, that his administration is focused on helping the nation return to normal. “Even if we devote every resource we have, beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity,” Biden said. “And national unity isn’t just how politics and politicians vote in Washington, what the loudest voices say on cable or online. Unity is what we do as fellow Americans. Because if we don’t say vigilant and the conditions change, then we may have to reinstate restrictions to get back on track.” “And, please, we don’t want to do that again,” he added.

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“The logic of these policies is that we must be locked down for ever simply because the world is a dangerous place.”

Lockdowns Wrecked Democracy around the World (AIER)

While the number of fatalities attributed to Covid-19 is carefully tracked by governments, few people have recognized how pandemic-spurred crackdowns have devastated democracy around the world. Emergency proclamations have entitled presidents and other government officials to seize vast new powers previously forbidden to them. Government bureaucrats became a new priesthood that could sanctify unlimited sacrifices merely by invoking dubious statistical extrapolations of future perils. In October, Freedom House issued a report, Democracy under Lockdown – The Impact of COVID-19 on Global Freedom, which warned that since the pandemic started, “the condition of democracy and human rights has worsened in 80 countries.”

Sarah Repucci, co-author of the report, warned that “governments’ responses to the pandemic are eroding the pillars of democracy around the world.” Abuses of power have been propelled by a presumption that government officials are entitled to all the power they claim to need to keep people safe. When the pandemic arrived in America, governors in many states responded by dropping the equivalent of a Reverse Neutron Bomb – something which destroys the economy while supposedly leaving human beings unharmed. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo set the standard when he effectively declared that he was entitled to inflict any burden on his state’s residents to “save just one life.” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer prohibited anyone from leaving their home to visit family or friends.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti banned people from walking or bicycling outside. More than ten million jobs were lost thanks to lockdowns, a major reason why life expectancy in the United States last year had its sharpest plunge since World War Two. Australia imposed some of the most heavy-handed restrictions. In August, the state of Victoria dictated an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for the Melbourne area and prohibited people from venturing more than three miles from their residence. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews decreed: “Where you slept last night is where you’ll need to stay for the next six weeks.” Melbourne has been hit by repeated lockdowns since then. Britain unleashed some of the most absurd restrictions. In June, it prohibited couples who live in different homes from having sex indoors. The Independent (U.K.) noted, “People who have sex outside can be punished under pre-existing laws on outraging public decency and indecent exposure.”

Steve Watson reported in January for Summit News that British cabinet ministers “ have privately debated preventing people from talking to each other in the street and in supermarkets, and even preventing people from leaving home more than once per week, and introducing curfews.” British vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi fretted, “I’m worried about some of the pictures I’ve seen of social interactions in parks, if you have to exercise you can go out for exercise only.” Apparently, a national vow of silence is necessary to fight Covid. Summit News noted, “Police are also demanding new powers to force entry into the homes of suspected lockdown violators.” Former British Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption complained last month, “Foreign travel is being prohibited, turning us into a hermit island on the basis we cannot know what mutations may be lurking out there. The logic of these policies is that we must be locked down for ever simply because the world is a dangerous place.”

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“129 billion face masks [are] being used globally every month” to achieve, according to the CDC, a 1.32% reduction in virus spread.

3 Million Masks Used Globally Every Minute: Environmental Catastrophe (JTN)

Researchers are warning that heavy mask usage over the course of the coronavirus pandemic could be contributing to a looming environmental disaster, with millions of masks being used every minute and many of them polluting local ecosystems in the process. Researchers in the U.S. and Denmark estimated in a study in Frontiers in Environmental Science that “an astounding 129 billion face masks [are] being used globally every month,” a number that works out to three million every minute. “Most are disposable face masks made from plastic microfibers,” the researchers note.


With mask usage skyrocketing to unprecedented highs over the past year due to beliefs that masks can help stop the spread of COVID-19, the scientists note that “there is no official guidance on mask recycle, making it more likely to be disposed of as solid waste.” “When not properly collected and managed, masks can be transported from land into freshwater and marine environments by surface run-off, river flows, oceanic currents, wind, and animals,” they warn. The researchers note that, due to the likelihood of COVID-19 becoming an endemic disease among the global population, “It is imperative to launch coordinated efforts from environmental scientists, medical agencies, and solid waste managing organizations, and the general public to minimize the negative impacts of disposal mask, and eventually prevent it from becoming another too-big-to- handle problem.”

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Bad PR.

More Countries Suspend AstraZeneca Coronavirus Vaccine (USN)

Bulgaria and Thailand join a growing list of countries that are pausing the vaccine’s rollout over health concerns, including Denmark, Iceland and Norway. Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha canceled plans to publicly receive the vaccine and Thai officials have delayed the vaccine rollout while they consider the issue of any potential link between the vaccine and adverse outcomes, Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, a senior member of Thailand’s vaccine committee, said in a news conference on Friday. Officials say they will wait for the results of investigations in Denmark, which paused the vaccine’s use for two weeks, and by health organizations in Europe before making any further decisions. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has asked the European Medicines Agency to dismiss doubts about the vaccine’s safety before resuming vaccinations in the country.


“I have temporarily suspended the administration of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in Bulgaria until a written statement came from the European Medicines Agency that it is safe,” he said. “Until all doubts are dropped and experts do not guarantee that it does not pose a risk to humans, the immunization with this vaccine in our country will be stopped.” Despite the pause in some countries, Germany will continue to immunize its residents with the vaccine. “We are planning to continue vaccinating with AstraZeneca, just like an overall majority of other European countries,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Thursday. The United Kingdom, Spain, France and the Netherlands have all also said they will continue using the vaccine.

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This feels very incompetent.

US And Pacific Partners To Flood Asia With Vaccines (Pol.)

A new vaccine partnership agreed between the United States, Japan, India and Australia plans to flood Asian and Pacific island nations with “at least” 1 billion Covid vaccine doses by 2022. There’s of course a political strategy behind the humanitarianism — to outflank Chinese influence across Asia. The rhetoric is lofty: “It is the Indo-Pacific that will now shape the destiny of our world in the 21st century,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a video message launching the partnership. The early focus of the Quad alliance on “positive sum cooperation” and “public goods provision” would be a difficult narrative for China to counter, said Andrew Small, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Asia program, who suggested this might provide a model for American alliance-building during the Biden administration.

The centerpiece of the Quad Vaccine Partnership is an Indian production drive to deliver the billion extra doses by the end of 2022, building on what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called India’s “formidable vaccine production capacity.” But the Quad is joining the global vaccine diplomacy game late — China and Russia have been striking deals and delivering donated doses to more than 50 countries largely shunned by Western vaccine makers. The Quad partnership launching as a set of goals without an implementation plan — leaders promised to set up an expert group to manage the partnership — there’s a lot of catching up to do. The Quad will also need to navigate carefully with COVAX, which has begun delivering the first 300 million of a planned 2 billion doses to mostly low and middle-income countries.

While the Quad partners are all members of COVAX and insist they will work cooperatively with the project, delivering the billion extra doses may be more complicated than simply boosting Indian capacity. Officials from the World Health Organization and the Serum Institute of India have warned that an existing U.S. ban on exporting raw materials for vaccines is straining COVAX’s ability to quickly deliver the doses it has promised the world.

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Nobody wants to understand how scary this is. Freedom is a basic right.

EU’s Green Pass Will Only Be Valid With EMA-Approved COVID Vaccinations (EN)

An EU source has told Euronews that the Green Pass proposal, to be put forward on March 17th to aid free movement within the bloc, will only be valid with EMA-approved vaccinations. Why? Because the vaccinations from unapproved companies will not be covered by the EU liability clause and quality control. The source reported that EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders made it clear that member states were free to get their citizens vaccinated by other products, but they would not be allocated a licensed travel certificate unless their jab had been from an approved company, of which there are currently four. Pfizer/BioNtech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson&Johnson.

The duration of the digital green certificate should be limited to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU source said, adding that tests and quarantine will continue to be the enablers of free movement. Thus, vaccination does not become a pre-condition for free movement. The certificate will be available in digital and paper-based format. Reynders indicated Thursday that data protection and possible discrimination remained key concerns for the European Commission working on a proposal for a COVID-19 travel certificate. But Friday’s leak shows that there is a focus on vaccination selection. Reynders is aiming to fast-track the proposal at the European Parliament, leading to a “binding instrument” for all member states before the summer.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said it would be technically possible to develop a “green pass” within about three months using data indicating whether a person has been vaccinated, tested negative, or is immune after contracting the disease, but that many political issues must first be resolved. The certificates could help smooth a return to air travel and possibly avoid another disastrous summer holiday season, as the tourism industry and broader economies suffer from restrictions. Southern European countries dependent on tourism, like Greece, Spain and Portugal, support such a system, but their northern EU partners, like Germany, have reservations over whether such certificates would work.

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There will be many more of these issues.

Europe’s COVID Vaccine Rollout Faces Even More Delays (ZH)

Earlier today, a smattering of European nations halted vaccinations for at least some AstraZeneca COVID vaccine jabs amid an investigation into whether the jabs contributed to dangerous blood clots that led to at least one death. And as if this wasn’t a big enough problem for one day, Bloomberg reports that manufacturing issues are plaguing AstraZeneca’s manufacturing facilities, creating more obstacles to distribution. And now European governments are bracing for further delays. Good thing Italy refused to send that one shipment of jabs to Australia. Here’s more from Bloomberg:

“European Union governments are bracing for further possible delays in the distribution of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid vaccine after a warning from the European Commission that the manufacturer remains a problem, according to a diplomatic note seen by Bloomberg. Astra Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said last month the company would look at tapping international supply chains to make up for some of the shortfall, including production in the U.S. It’s revised its delivery schedule multiple times, most recently committing to 40 million doses this quarter and 180 million in the second from an earlier goal of about 280 million across both periods. But at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday, diplomats were told by senior EU officials that Astra continues to be “problematic.” They also heard that Johnson & Johnson, which could get market authorization from the European Medicines Agency on Thursday, has yet to provide a delivery schedule for its vaccine.”

As a result, Brussels said Thursday it plans to extend its vaccine export control mechanism to the end of June from mid-March, citing “persistent delays” in some deliveries. On the US side, President Joe Biden just ordered another 100MM jabs from JNJ, and it’s possible more might be on the way, limiting the supply available for absorption by Germany, France and the other 25 EU members. “On J&J, the EU had said in January that under the contract, the company would fill and finish a portion of its EU supply in the U.S., prompting concerns among some governments. The EU said at the time that it didn’t expect this to impact deliveries. This week the commission told diplomats that it was looking into the possibility of finding some of that fill-finish capacity in other third countries as it wasn’t readily available in the EU, according to the note of the meeting.”:

In what could be a silver lining, a UK study published Thursday showed the Novovax jab was found to offer 100% protection from “severe” COVID. At this point, the US will soon be facing a glut of supply, so Europe’s problem will likely clear up once the next round of vaccines are approved in the US.

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“Mostly what did not fly is the idea that the Covid-19 virus can still be used as a cattle-prod for herding citizens into feedlots of compliance — Americans are buffalos, not steers. ”

Previews of Coming Attractions (Kunstler)

How reassured were you by Joe Biden’s speech to the nation Thursday night? The more his managers pretend that he’s in charge of anything, the more unlikely it actually seems. So, they wound him up — Adderall would be my guess, to fortify the attention span — and rolled him out like the mummy of Amenhotep III, and one could just imagine the leaders of this-and-that foreign nation cringing (or cackling) in their seats to see this embodiment of collapsing America go through his spiritless ritual motions. Mostly what did not fly is the idea that the Covid-19 virus can still be used as a cattle-prod for herding citizens into feedlots of compliance — Americans are buffalos, not steers.

They are determined now to take care of business, and the main business of people with any initiative will be to rig up some sort of gainful occupation while the lumbering old systems break down. They will do it despite orders to operate at fifty percent capacity, or close at nine o’clock, or be handcuffed by rinky-dink regulations. They’ll have to get creative to figure out ways around all the official impediments to making a living. This group of the not-yet-undead will resist further attempts to restrict their liberty and to steal the fruits of their own enterprise to pay for other people’s failures or lack of enterprise. The federal government is one system visibly working to destroy itself with epic giveaways of money it pretends to command and the Covid-19 Stimulus bill will only accelerate its loss of credibility.

A $1,400 check won’t “solve” the problem of someone a year behind on mortgage payments or rent. It sure won’t solve the problems of their creditors and landlords. And if you think shortchanging that class of people is a good idea, you’re beating a path straight to the death of credit per se, and then of our money, the dollar, which is based on credit. Taxpayers are not so stupid that they’ll fail to notice who is being asked to bail out bankrupt states, irresponsible cities, and pension funds and there’s going to be trouble over that. The trouble will express itself both in political strife and in the further decay of the relationship between work and wealth. It means a collapsing standard of living for most people. Turning the one-shot $1,400 into a monthly Guaranteed Basic Income can only be a short-term shuck-and-jive when a loaf of bread goes from $5 to $15 to $50 — which can happen easily, and quickly, too, as lots of “free” money chases crashing productivity. Wait for it.

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And take Bellingcat down with it please.

OPCW Chief Must ‘Find The Courage To Address’ Douma Coverup Allegations (RT)

The scandal surrounding alleged manipulation of scientific data in the chemical weapons watchdog the OPCW, ignored by both the organization and the mainstream media, is only getting worse with time, a pro-whistleblower group said. A new statement from whistleblower-supporting organization the Courage Foundation complains that the leadership of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has failed to properly address accusations of a coverup involving the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria in April 2018. Instead it tried to “side-step the issue” entirely by targeting directly and apparently indirectly the whistleblowers who brought their concerns about the integrity of the OPCW’s investigation of the incident into public view.

The statement was signed by almost 30 public figures, including author Noam Chomsky, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, journalist and filmmaker John Pilger, and musician and activist Roger Waters. The list also includes multiple scientists, including four former OPCW inspectors, as well as the organization’s founding director, Jose Bustani. “We believe that the interests of the OPCW are best served by the Director General [Fernando Arias] providing a transparent and neutral forum in which the concerns of all the investigators can be heard as well as ensuring that a fully objective and scientific investigation is completed,” the group said.

Arias should “find the courage to address the problems within his organization relating to this investigation and ensure States Parties and the United Nations are informed accordingly. In this way we hope and believe that the credibility and integrity of the OPCW can be restored.” The Douma incident happened in a jihadist-controlled neighbourhood of Damascus, which was on the cusp of being captured by the Syrian government forces at the time. The predominant narrative about it in the Western media was that the Syrian army deployed chlorine gas by dropping canisters from a helicopter, killing scores of civilians as a result. The US, the UK and France launched barrages of missiles at Syrian government targets days later in retaliation for the purported atrocity.

Tucker OPCW
https://twitter.com/i/status/1370571845267681280

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I think Cuomo is going to fight till the end. That’s his mindset.

Andrew Cuomo’s Hilarious ‘Cancel Culture’ Excuse (NYP)

In keeping with his obstinate posture of denial and deflection, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has come up with a new excuse for his woes: cancel culture. Yes, Albany’s tyrant, accused now by seven women of sexual harassment, the target of a federal investigation into underreporting COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, asked to resign by the majority of New York house Democrats and the National Organization for Women, abandoned by the New York Times, New York magazine and other house organs of the left-leaning media, subject of a just-opened police investigation in Albany — yes, Andrew Cuomo is simply a victim of the woke mob (e.g. crazy, hysterical ladies). “People know the difference between playing to politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth,” Cuomo said Friday afternoon.

This is as laughable as his brother Chris’s claim last week that to cover his brother’s scandals would be journalistically unethical — despite Chris hosting Andrew on CNN constantly during the pandemic’s height. “Politicians who don’t know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and an opinion are, in my opinion, reckless and dangerous,” Cuomo said. “The people of New York should not have confidence in a politician who takes an opinion without knowing any facts or substance.” Says the man who demanded Eric Schneiderman immediately resign after abuse claims, no investigation necessary. Says the man who insisted that Brett Kavanaugh needed to take a lie detector test.

Clearly, Andrew Cuomo still considers himself America’s hero. Remember “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” — the quickie book he wrote in the middle of this nightmare, New York among the worst-hit in the country, pocketing a reported seven-figure advance despite dead bodies stacked in unrefrigerated trucks and buried in mass graves here? Square that circle.

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“He checks almost every box as a comic subject..”

The Sovietization of the American Press (Taibbi)

The most Soviet of the recent efforts didn’t have a classically Soviet headline. “Comedians are struggling to parody Biden. Let’s hope this doesn’t last,” read the Washington Post opinion piece by Richard Zoglin, arguing that Biden is the first president in generations who might be “impervious to impressionists.” Zoglin contended Biden is “impregnable” to parody, his voice being too “devoid of obvious quirks,” his manner too “muted and self-effacing” to offer comedians much to work with. [..] Forget that the “impregnable to parody” pol spent the last campaign year jamming fingers in the sternums of voters, challenging them to pushup contests, calling them “lying dog-faced pony soldiers,” and forgetting what state he was in. Biden, on the day Zoglin ran his piece, couldn’t remember the name of his Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and referred to the Department of Defense as “that outfit over there”:

It doesn’t take much looking to find comedians like James Adomian and Anthony Atamaniuk ab-libbing riffs on Biden with ease. He checks almost every box as a comic subject, saying inappropriate things, engaging in wacky Inspector Clouseau-style physical stunts (like biting his wife’s finger), and switching back and forth between outbursts of splenetic certainty and total cluelessness. The parody doesn’t even have to be mean — you could make it endearing cluelessness. But to say nothing’s there to work with is bananas. The first 50 days of Biden’s administration have been a surprise on multiple fronts. The breadth of his stimulus suggests a real change from the Obama years, while hints that this administration wants to pick a unionization fight with Amazon go against every tendency of Clintonian politics.

But it’s hard to know what much of it means, because coverage of Biden increasingly resembles official press releases, often featuring embarrassing, Soviet-style contortions. When Biden decided not to punish Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi on the grounds that the “cost” of “breaching the relationship with one of America’s key Arab allies” was too high, the New York Times headline read: “Biden Won’t Penalize Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi’s Killing, Fearing Relations Breach.” When Donald Trump made the same calculation, saying he couldn’t cut ties because “the world is a very dangerous place” and “our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the paper joined most of the rest of the press corps in howling in outrage.

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Some strange people at the Paper of Record.

Criticizing Public Figures is Not Harassment or Abuse (Greenwald)

One of the Paper of Record’s star reporters, Taylor Lorenz, has been much discussed of late. That is so for three reasons. The first is that the thirty-six-year-old tech and culture reporter has helped innovate a new kind of reportorial beat that seems to have a couple of purposes. She publishes articles exploring in great detail the online culture of teenagers and very young adults, which, as a father of two young Tik-Tok-using children, I have found occasionally and mildly interesting. She also seeks to catch famous and non-famous people alike using bad words or being in close digital proximity to bad people so that she can alert the rest of the world to these important findings. It is natural that journalists who pioneer a new form of reporting this way are going to be discussed.

The second reason Lorenz is the topic of recent discussion is that she has been repeatedly caught fabricating claims about influential people, and attempting to ruin the reputations and lives of decidedly non-famous people. In the last six weeks alone, she twice publicly lied about Netscape founder Marc Andreessen: once claiming he used the word “retarded” in a Clubhouse room in which she was lurking (he had not) and then accusing him of plotting with a white nationalist in a different Clubhouse room to attack her (he, in fact, had said nothing).

She also often uses her large, powerful public platform to malign private citizens without any power or public standing by accusing them of harboring bad beliefs and/or associating with others who do. (She is currently being sued by a citizen named Arya Toufanian, who claims Lorenz has used her private Twitter account to destroy her reputation and business, particularly with a tweet that Lorenz kept pinned at the top of her Twitter page for eight months, while several other non-public figures complain that Lorenz has “reported” on their non-public activities). It is to be expected that a New York Times journalist who gets caught lying as she did against Andreessen and trying to destroy the reputations of non-public figures will be a topic of conversation.

The third reason this New York Times reporter is receiving attention is because she has become a leading advocate and symbol for a toxic tactic now frequently used by wealthy and influential public figures (like her) to delegitimize criticisms and even render off-limits any attempt to hold them accountable. Specifically, she and her media allies constantly conflate criticisms of people like them with “harassment,” “abuse” and even “violence.” That is what Lorenz did on Tuesday when she co-opted International Women’s Day to announce that “it is not an exaggeration to say that the harassment and smear campaign I have had to endure over the past year has destroyed my life.” She began her story by proclaiming: “For international women’s day please consider supporting women enduring online harassment.” She finished it with this: “No one should have to go through this.”

Notably, there was no mention, by her or her many media defenders, of the lives she has harmed or otherwise deleteriously affected with her massive journalistic platform. That is deliberate. Under this formulation, if you criticize the ways Lorenz uses her very influential media perch — including by pointing out that she probably should stop fabricating accusations against people and monitoring the private acts of non-public people — then you are guilty of harassing a “young woman” and inflicting emotional pain and violence on her (it’s quite a bizarre dynamic, best left to psychologists, how her supporters insist on infantilizing this fully grown, close-to-middle-aged successful journalist by talking about her as if she’s a fragile high school junior; it’s particularly creepy when her good male Allies speak of her this way).

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The Green New Deal is for people who don’t understand energy. Or economics.

A Green New Deal Is More Expensive Than Joe Biden Realizes (Mises)

The concept of “net energy” illustrates why replacing fossil fuels with large-scale renewable energy is often counterproductive. In Carbon Shift, a 2009 book discussing peak oil and climate change, David Hughes summarizes it like this: “A two-megawatt windmill contains 260 tonnes of steel requiring 170 tonnes of coking coal and 300 tonnes of iron ore, all mined, transported and produced by hydrocarbons. The question is: how long must a windmill generate energy before it creates more energy than it took to build it? At a good wind site, the energy payback day could be in three years or less; in a poor location, energy payback may be never. That is, a windmill could spin until it falls apart and never generate as much energy as was invested in building it.”

This life-cycle accounting of “energy return on energy invested” (EROEI) succinctly describes multiple stages of intermediate capital within a hydrocarbon-based structure of production. Hughes also hints at the basic questions facing all entrepreneurs—namely, where they should place their investments and how they should configure heterogeneous capital to recoup up-front costs plus some profit or “windfall.” Wind turbines and solar panels do enjoy a wide market in off-grid applications, such as remote farm properties and on oceangoing sailboats, where the abundance of wind and scarcity of petroleum products makes the investment a no-brainer. In sunny parts of the country, solar has reached “grid parity.”

States like Texas, however, have failed to heed considerations of both net energy and supply and demand in installing massive wind farms at great taxpayer expense where fossil fuels would be far cheaper and more reliable. Lacking price signals, the central planner is blind to the economic consequences of his grand designs. The president revealed his ignorance of the technological and economic problem at hand when he stated matter of factly, “We know what to do, we’ve just got to do it.” On the contrary, we have no idea how to create a nonpolluting electrical grid without emitting much more carbon in the process than we otherwise would have.

[..] The Green New Deal is, if anything, a formula for a new dark age. Texas’s recent power outages show the difficulty of the task facing grid managers. There, an attempt to prematurely transition to unreliable wind energy exacerbated the strain on the grid when turbines froze at the crucial moment when they were most needed. The grid managers failed to keep a maintain a sufficient buffer, even without the additional mandate of ensuring the creation of new green jobs and mitigating the discriminatory effects of climate change. It is ironic that a state and nation so rich in natural energy resources would be leading the charge to cancel fossil fuels in favor of technology that has never been proven effective, or even environmentally friendly, at a large scale.

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The Greeks should refuse to be bullied. “I legally bought them from Nazis” is nonsense.

Boris Johnson Says UK ‘Legally’ Obtained Elgin Marbles, Won’t Return Them (RT)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dashed Athens’ hopes of getting back the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles by saying that the British Museum remains their “rightful” owner following “legal” acquisition in the 19th century. The ancient sculptures that once adorned the famed fifth century BC Parthenon temple in Athens were “legally acquired” by the British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, Johnson told the Greek newspaper Ta Nea on Friday. The UK prime minister left no room for the idea of returning the ancient works of art to Greece, saying that although he “understands” the “strong feelings” of the Greeks, he still considers the commissioners of the British Museum in London to be “the rightful owners” of the Elgin Marbles.


“The British government has a firm and long-standing position” on the issue, Johnson – himself a former student of Classical Philology and Philosophy at Oxford, who once called Homer “the greatest writer of all time” and named ancient Greek statesman, Pericles, his “hero” – told Ta Nea. The row between London and Athens over the fate of the sculptures constituting roughly a half of the 160-meter frieze of the ancient temple has come to the fore in the context of post-Brexit trade negotiations between the UK and the EU. The EU demanded the return of “unlawfully removed cultural objects” while London, which quickly linked the demand to the Marbles, said they were “not up for discussion.” The sculptures were taken from Greece, which was under Ottoman Turkish rule at that time, under an agreement Elgin struck with the Ottomans. The Greeks argue they were “stolen” while the British Museum insists it was a “legal contract.”

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 102021
 
 March 10, 2021  Posted by at 10:04 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  38 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Pink peach trees (Souvenir de mauve) 1888

 

Lockdowns the ‘Biggest Public Health Mistake We’ve Ever Made’ (NW)
Coronavirus Variants To Evolve, Escape Current Generation Of Vaccines (RT)
Growing Covid Inequality Virus To Fuel Popular Rebellions Across The World (RT)
In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab (Pol.)
Incompetence and Corruption Allegations Blight Germany’s Handling Of Covid (RT)
Covid Has Exposed Dire Position Of England’s Local Councils (G.)
The Best Way to Rob a Bank (Ben Hunt)
European Parliament Lifts Immunity Of Catalonia MEPs (RT)
Cuomo Gave Bond Deals To His Wall Street Donors (IBT)
Twitter Sues Texas AG (ZH)
Massive Secret UK Propaganda Campaign in Former Soviet Republics (MPN)
White House Won’t Admit Biden’s Dealing With A Border Crisis (RT)
Secret Service Agent Saves Biden As Reporter Tries To Ask A Question (BBee)
OECD Believes Biden Stimulus Will Boost World GDP (ZH)
The Biden Blitz Is Coming (Pol.)

 

 

Giant iceberg.

 

 

 

 

 

I know I wrote a year ago that lockdowns work. But obviously, that was not about year-long ones. A few weeks when nothing is clear about a virus makes sense. What happens now does not.

“The lockdowns are trickle down epidemiology.”

Lockdowns the ‘Biggest Public Health Mistake We’ve Ever Made’ (NW)

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor at Stanford University Medical School, recently said that COVID-19 lockdowns are the “biggest public health mistake we’ve ever made…The harm to people is catastrophic.” Several U.S. states have started to ease their COVID-19 restrictions over the past few weeks. Bhattacharya, who made the comments during an interview with the Daily Clout, co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration, a petition that calls for the end of COVID-19 lockdowns, claiming that they are “producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.” As of Monday, the Great Barrington Declaration has received signatures from over 13,000 medical and public health scientists, more than 41,000 medical practitioners and at least 754,399 “concerned citizens.”

During the interview last month, Bhattacharya said that the declaration comes from “two basic facts.” “One is that people who are older have a much higher risk from dying from COVID than people who are younger…and that’s a really important fact because we know who his most vulnerable, it’s people that are older. So the first plank of the Great Barrington Declaration: let’s protect the vulnerable,” Bhattacharya said. “The other idea is that the lockdowns themselves impose great harm on people. Lockdowns are not a natural normal way to live.” He continued, “it’s also not very equal. People who are poor face much more hardship from the lockdowns than people who are rich.”

In an email sent to Newsweek, Bhattacharya wrote: “I stand behind my comment that the lockdowns are the single worst public health mistake in the last 100 years. We will be counting the catastrophic health and psychological harms, imposed on nearly every poor person on the face of the earth, for a generation. At the same time, they have not served to control the epidemic in the places where they have been most vigorously imposed. In the US, they have – at best – protected the “non-essential” class from COVID, while exposing the essential working class to the disease. The lockdowns are trickle down epidemiology.”

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Get healthy. Now.

Coronavirus Variants To Evolve, Escape Current Generation Of Vaccines (RT)

A new study examining the efficacy of current generation of vaccines against the UK and South Africa variants of SARS-CoV-2 makes for sobering reading, and raises the specter of widespread reinfection. The study, published in Nature on March 8, warns that the current generation of vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments may lose the arms race against the coronavirus, raising the daunting, open-ended possibility of reinfection unless vaccine rollout is greatly expedited worldwide to prevent further mutations. The study’s findings are currently being borne out amid the latest results concerning the Novavax vaccine, which reported a 90 percent efficacy rate against the UK variant but only 49.4 percent efficacy in combating the South African variant.

“Our study and the new clinical trial data show that the virus is traveling in a direction that is causing it to escape from our current vaccines and therapies that are directed against the viral spike,” says the study’s lead author, David Ho. Ho warned that, with continuing “rampant spread” of the virus in certain areas of the globe, humanity “may be condemned to chasing after the evolving SARS-CoV-2 continually, as we have long done for influenza virus.” He called for redoubled mitigation efforts in concert with expedited vaccine rollouts, arguing that time is of the essence when it comes to eradicating the threat posed by the coronavirus permanently, rather than allowing it to mutate and linger indefinitely.

Ho and his team found that antibodies in recipients of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines were less effective at neutralizing the UK and South African variants, with a two-fold drop in efficacy in the case of the former, and up to an 8.5-fold drop in neutralizing activity with the latter. “The drop in neutralizing activity against the South Africa variant is appreciable, and we’re now seeing, based on the Novavax results, that this is causing a reduction in protective efficacy,” Ho says.

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“As we come out of our lockdowns blinking in the light of our empty and boarded up town centres, global civil unrest seems inevitable.”

Growing Covid Inequality Virus To Fuel Popular Rebellions Across The World (RT)

As the gap between rich and poor rapidly worsens during the pandemic, you can detect a surge in support for revolutions and remedies. But instead of truly tackling the underlying problems, governments will react with repression. There’s a sense of some relief in the UK that the Covid-19 year of lockdowns, illness and industrial-scale death tolls that have seen our health care services overwhelmed may finally be coming to an end. Even a Tory-hating cynic like me has to grudgingly admit that the country’s vaccination programme has been a success. The sheer numbers of people getting the jab – 20m-plus as of the start of this week – has been impressive. It has started to open debates about possible summer holidays, travelling to see family, even going to festivals and gigs – a welcome silver lining. But the rhetoric coming from the government that better times are on the way is just political BS. The hope of a brighter future is misplaced.

There are some dark storm clouds of reality moving in at a fast pace that may well be more deadly that the virus: the spectres of growing global inequality, of widespread poverty and mass unemployment, and of the vast majority of us being under the control of an emboldened elite that through the pandemic has increased its wealth, power and political influence. Research shows that those who were already rich have increased that wealth exponentially, while those who were at the bottom have sunk even lower. An Oxfam report earlier this year showed not only that wealth inequality was deepening and becoming more entrenched, but also that policies enacted by governments around the world have resulted in giving even more billions to the super-rich while denuding the poorest.

[..] As we come out of our lockdowns blinking in the light of our empty and boarded up town centres, global civil unrest seems inevitable. Studies have shown that when inequality worsens, revolutionary fervour grows and states become unstable and unsafe. We can see the first rumblings, from anger in Poland, riots in the Netherlands, to protests in Denmark, Belgium and France and sporadic demonstrations in other countries. How far will it go lies in the hands of governments. In past times of hardship, governments have used the welfare state as a prop to keep their populations from the edge of starvation and away from full-blown insurrection. But most are running out of road this time. They’ve hugely increased borrowing to keep a semblance of their economies going during the shutdowns, and have little room for maneuver.

After the banking crash of 2008, most governments slashed and burned their welfare states to bail out the bankers and now do not have that crutch. Governments all over the globe are going to have to make tough choices. Are they going to genuinely confront the growing wealth inequality, which they know destabilizes democracies as the social contract is compromised and broken?

Read more …

“..the name of the laboratory was familiar. Its research on bat viruses had already drawn the attention of U.S. diplomats and officials at the Beijing Embassy in late 2017..”

In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab (Pol.)

On January 15, in its last days, President Donald Trump’s State Department put out a statement with serious claims about the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. The statement said the U.S. intelligence community had evidence that several researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory were sick with Covid-like symptoms in autumn 2019—implying the Chinese government had hidden crucial information about the outbreak for months—and that the WIV lab, despite “presenting itself as a civilian institution,” was conducting secret research projects with the Chinese military. The State Department alleged a Chinese government cover-up and asserted that “Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one.”

The exact origin of the new coronavirus remains a mystery to this day, but the search for answers is not just about assigning blame. Unless the source is located, the true path of the virus can’t be traced, and scientists can’t properly study the best ways to prevent future outbreaks. The original Chinese government story, that the pandemic spread from a seafood market in Wuhan, was the first and therefore most widely accepted theory. But cracks in that theory slowly emerged throughout the late winter and spring of 2020. The first known case of Covid-19 in Wuhan, it was revealed in February, had no connection to the market. The Chinese government closed the market in January and sanitized it before proper samples could be taken. It wouldn’t be until May that the Chinese Centers for Disease Control disavowed the market theory, admitting it had no idea how the outbreak began, but by then it had become the story of record, in China and internationally.

In the spring of 2020, inside the U.S. government, some officials began to see and collect evidence of a different, perhaps more troubling theory—that the outbreak had a connection to one of the laboratories in Wuhan, among them the WIV, a world leading center of research on bat coronaviruses. To some inside the government, the name of the laboratory was familiar. Its research on bat viruses had already drawn the attention of U.S. diplomats and officials at the Beijing Embassy in late 2017, prompting them to alert Washington that the lab’s own scientists had reported “a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory.” But their cables to Washington were ignored.

When I published the warnings from these cables in April 2020, they added fuel to a debate that had already gone from a scientific and forensic question to a hot-button political issue, as the previously internal U.S. government debate over the lab’s possible connection spilled into public view. The next day, Trump said he was “investigating,” and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Beijing to “come clean” about the origin of the outbreak. Two weeks later, Pompeo said there was “enormous evidence” pointing to the lab, but he didn’t provide any of said evidence. As Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s relationship unraveled and administration officials openly blamed the Wuhan lab, the U.S.-China relationship only went further downhill.

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“..he was paid €600,000 for lobbying a mask supplier..”

Incompetence and Corruption Allegations Blight Germany’s Handling Of Covid (RT)

Allegations of German politicians at the highest level of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government profiteering from the pandemic have rocked a nation sick of lockdown restrictions, struggling with a stubborn Covid-19 infection rate and a shambolic vaccine rollout. A leading figure in Germany’s largest opposition party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), Euro MP Gunnar Beck, fears the corruption could go deeper, telling me, “While two of Mrs. Merkel’s allies have been found out and resigned from their parties so far, the odds are there are significantly more involved in this corrupt behaviour.”

German magazine Der Spiegel is reporting that up to a dozen MPs might be involved in the face-masks-for-kickbacks scandal where two key MPs were allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of euros in exchange for facilitating lucrative government contracts. Beck said the environment for corruption became apparent at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak. “There was an acute shortage of face masks and other relevant equipment in Germany and predominantly foreign companies were looking to shift production and take advantage of that situation,” he said. “They were looking for quick and smooth access to government deals and it appears that some MPs provided such access in return for significant financial gain that was straightforwardly unlawful.

“So not only do we have incompetence that led to a shortage of protective equipment in the first place, it seems we have incontrovertible evidence of widespread corruption. Incompetent and corrupt; those are the two adjectives that characterise the German government’s whole approach to the coronavirus crisis.” The two politicians embroiled in the scandal have quit not only their parliamentary posts but their political parties as well, with the Christian Democrats’ (CDU) Nikolas Loebel, 34, announcing that he was to quit politics altogether, leaving his parliamentary seat, a post on the Foreign Affairs Committee and his party with immediate effect.

Resigning, Loebel said: “I take responsibility for my actions and draw the necessary political consequences.” He had admitted that a firm he ran earned €250,000 commission from face mask sales. Georg Nuesslein, a 51-year-old MP with Christian Socialist Union (CSU) the sister party of Merkel’s CDU has denied charges stemming from an inquiry into alleged bribery after accusations were made that he was paid €600,000 for lobbying a mask supplier during the first wave of the pandemic.

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This we will see all over the world. Local governments have lost far too much revenue.

Covid Has Exposed Dire Position Of England’s Local Councils (G.)

The pandemic has a habit of bringing hidden social crises into the open. Now it reveals the precarious position of local government, the provider of vital services from care homes to public health and bin collection, which has helped keep the show on the road in the UK’s biggest national emergency since the second world war. The National Audit Office (NAO) account of the near implosion of England’s local councils during Covid is sobering: only by the government’s swift, if grudging, injection of billions of pounds of emergency cash into council coffers over recent months did ministers avert what the auditors call “system-wide financial failure”.

The watchdog rightly praises ministers for this: the consequences of scores of local authorities having to declare bankruptcy in the middle of lockdown are frightening. But it makes two other points: first, that 10 years of austerity made municipal finances structurally fragile; and second, that councils’ budget crisis isn’t over. It makes clear successive Tory governments not only dismantled the town hall roof but failed to fix it by the time hurricane Covid blew in. Council spending was cut by a third, rising demand for social care was ignored and council budgets made reliant on the whims of local income, whether council tax or car parking charges.

Grand, longstanding government plans to reform local government and social care funding failed to materialise. For years, councils patched up their threadbare budgets by using up financial reserves and cutting frontline services. The more ambitious borrowed billions to spend on risky office and retail investments. So when Covid arrived, council spending rocketed, income crashed and many found they had little in the way of rainy-day cash reserves. As the NAO puts it: “Funding reductions … means that authorities’ finances were potentially more vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic that they would have been otherwise.”

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… is to own a bank. Greensill is a pretty unbelievable story.

The Best Way to Rob a Bank (Ben Hunt)

Is this a Madoff Moment for the unicorn market? Honestly, if you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have told you that a Madoff Moment was impossible in our narrative-consumed, speak-no-evil market world of 2021. Now I’m not sure. We’ll see, but I think this has legs. By all rights, Greensill – the eponymously named investment bank started by former Citigroup and Morgan Stanley banker Lex Greensill in 2011 – should have been shot between the eyes in 2019. That’s when their “supply-chain finance” loans, in this case to the steel and energy companies of the UK’s “Savior of Steel”, Sanjeev Gupta, blew up Swiss asset manager GAM’s $11 billion flagship fund, the Absolute Return Bond Fund (ARBF).

It’s a story as old as capital markets … Greensill lent Gupta a lot of money, Greensill wined and dined and private jetted ARBF portfolio manager Tim Haywood, and so naturally Haywood bought as much of the Greensill-originated loans as humanly possible, topping out at 12% of ARBF NAV. LOL. The loans, of course, were not as they seem, Gupta’s companies were nowhere near as solid as they were represented, and GAM ended up firing Haywood and seeing their stock price crater. The GAM CEO got fired, lots of people lost lots of money … end of the road for Greensill, right? Nope. Enter Masayoshi Son, CEO of Softbank, who ended up putting $1.5 billion into Greensill in 2019 through Softbank and then another $1.5 billion into Greensill through the Vision Fund, becoming Greensill’s largest investor and diluting the prior largest investor – General Atlantic – from a 15% to a 7% position. And then the fun begins.

Since that 2019 rescue, Greensill has lent billions of dollars to Softbank and General Atlantic affiliates (mostly Softbank, but GA looks plenty stinky here), loans that were then bought by Credit Suisse funds and laundered by Greensill’s German bank subsidiary. Now when I say ‘laundered’, I don’t mean that metaphorically. The German banking and markets regulator, BaFin, has suspended Greensill’s banking license and referred the case for criminal prosecution.

Here’s an example of how the scam worked. Again, it’s a story as old as capital markets. In early 2020, Greensill lent Softbank portfolio company Katerra $435 million. The company ran into … errr … operational difficulties, and Softbank ponied up $200 million in additional capital last December. For its part, Greensill wrote off the $435 million loan in exchange for … again, wait for it … 5% of common equity. LOL. The $9 billion valuation for Katerra (I am not making this up) was determined by Softbank, of course, and so the Greensill German bank subsidiary reported on its balance sheet that all was well. A $435 million senior loan, secured by trade receivables, was exchanged for a 5% equity position in a bankrupt company, with no loss reported. Seems fair! As always, the best way to rob a bank is to own a bank.

Read more …

This doesn’t smell right.

European Parliament Lifts Immunity Of Catalonia MEPs (RT)

The European Parliament has voted to strip MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comin and Clara Ponsati of immunity, paving the way for their extradition to Spain over their roles in the outlawed 2017 Catalonia independence referendum. The three politicians were elected to the European Parliament in 2019, after having fled Spain two years earlier to avoid arrest warrants for sedition, after they helped to organize and run the 2017 independence referendum in Catalonia, despite it being banned by Spain’s central government. Spain had asked the European Parliament to vote to strip the three politicians of immunity last year but that vote had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Puigdemont lost his immunity in a 400-248 vote, while Comin and Ponsati lost their protection in a 404 to 247 ballot, confirming a recommendation that was made by a European parliament committee last month. The committee’s report had laid out how the three individuals should lose their protection against the charges filed by Spain, as the crimes they are accused of committing occurred before they took office and was unrelated to their work as MEPs. The three individuals will now be at risk of being extradited back to Spain to face charges, with the countries they are currently seeking refuge in left to decide whether to fulfil the judicial request from Spain. Puigdemont, the former president of Catalonia, and Comin, the region’s former education minister, both reside in Belgium, while Ponsati, the ex-health minister, is currently living in Scotland.

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Drip.

Cuomo Gave Bond Deals To His Wall Street Donors (IBT)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has since 2012 taken in more than $131,000 in campaign contributions from three major financial firms that were then tapped by his administration to manage state bond work, according to an International Business Times review of campaign finance documents and state bond prospectuses. The Democratic governor accepted the money — and his officials handed out the government business without competitive bids — despite federal rules that bar campaign contributors from receiving taxpayer-financed state bond work. Last week, Cuomo officials designated the three banks that contributed the campaign funds — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America — as the dealers for a $33 million bond issue, enabling the firms to reap lucrative fees.

That came on top of the Cuomo administration assigning the firms to manage a $68 million bond issue last fall, even as federal law enforcement officials were investigating allegations that New York lawmakers were doing favors for political donors. Federal rules bar states from awarding bond work to parties who have donated to gubernatorial campaigns within the last two years (more than $86,000 of the campaign cash from the firms flowed to Cuomo in the last two years). The rules aim to prevent financial firms from gaining influence over officials who have the power to select which firms receive the lucrative bond business. The rules explicitly seek to stop financial companies from circumventing those strictures: They prohibit firms from channeling contributions to bond overseers through PACs, which are giant pools of money distributed to multiple campaign war chests.

“The pay-to-play rules are very clear,” said Craig Holman, an ethics expert at the watchdog group Public Citizen. “If Andrew Cuomo’s receiving any money from a PAC controlled by a municipal dealer, he’d be in violation of pay-to-play rules.”

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Split it up into baby Twiiters.

Twitter Sues Texas AG (ZH)

Twitter has filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, claiming that he used his office to retaliate against the social media giant for banning former President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol, according to the Associated Press. Following Trump’s banishment by several left-leaning companies, Paxton announced that his office was investigating Twitter, Apple, Google and Amazon for what he called “the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President.” He made several document requests related to their content moderation policies, as well as internal communications. Twitter demands that the court effectively halt Paxton’s investigation.

“Paxton made clear that he will use the full weight of his office, including his expansive investigatory powers, to retaliate against Twitter for having made editorial decisions with which he disagrees,” wrote Twitter’s lawyers in the suit filed in a Northern California court. Twitter’s counterpunch comes as states, in addition to federal lawmakers and governments outside the U.S., are cracking down on tech companies they see as having amassed too much power in the past decade. This includes antitrust and anti-monopoly regulation, internet privacy laws as well as attempts to regulate how platforms like Twitter, Facebook and others moderate their sites.

In December, Paxton led 10 Republican attorneys general in suing Google for allegedly running an illegal digital-advertising monopoly in cahoots with Facebook. GOP politicians in roughly two dozen states have also introduced bills that would allow for civil lawsuits against platforms for what they call the “censorship” of posts. Almost always, this means what they view as the censorship of conservative or Christian religious viewpoints. -Associated Press Paxton cited the First Amendment while launching his investigation, claiming that tech companies’ deplatforming of Trump “chills free speech” and “wholly silences” his detractors.

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Bellingcat.

Massive Secret UK Propaganda Campaign in Former Soviet Republics (MPN)

Standing against the scorching blue backdrop at the EU podium in late 2017, then British Prime Minister Theresa May mendaciously promised to “counter [Russian] disinformation” in all the former Soviet republics of Eastern Europe, Eurasia and the Baltics by pledging €110 Million ($130 Million) over five years to fight the Kremlin’s influence in the region. A massive data leak published by the Anonymous hacktivist group this past February has revealed how some of that money was used to create and disseminate disinformation, alternate narratives and effectuate the outright manipulation of media by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) through a number of partnerships with stalwart disinformation outfits like Bellingcat, established information warfare specialist firms like the Zinc Network among dozens more that were working in secret with the governmental entity responsible for promoting British interests around the world.

Several different operations dedicated to a specific region or country have been discovered so far, as reporters sift through the trove of documents. Highly sophisticated and disturbingly insidious propaganda campaigns to influence society, mold perceptions about Russia, and affect political outcomes were carried out by teams of Western media organizations, consultants, paid assets, and operatives from the Baltics to the shores of the Mediterranean. The Open Information Partnership (OIP), as one of these far-reaching operations is named, received funding from the FCDO, according to RT, of at least £10 Million and was comprised of 44 partners, among which the aforementioned Bellingcat and Zinc, were joined by the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab and London-based NGO Media Diversity Institute and others.

Billed as a “diverse network of organisations and individuals united in our determination to expose and counter disinformation,” OIP’s partners had their agents strewn across Central and Eastern Europe to deliver on the scope of work delineated in its contracts with the FCDO, which would determine what locations to target at any given moment. North Macedonia was selected early on and Zinc initiated the operation by identifying the largest media outlet in the country, MOST Network. The information warfare outfit and OIP partners approached DFRLab and Bellingcat to offer a two-week course on “cyber security training, mentoring on digital forensics, open source investigation and media ethics.”

Although the documents don’t provide specific dates, it is inferred that the 2019 election in North Macedonia was what moved the FCDO to prioritize it at that time, given the choice between pro-EU and pro-Russia candidates. A recent RT exposé revealed disinformation efforts by the UK that predate May’s speech by at least a year, targeting ethnic Russians in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. A 2016 request for proposal issued by the FCDO seeks contractors to “provide overt innovative soft power interventions that will foster better links between the United Kingdom and individuals in the Baltic States whose primary language is Russian.”

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“.. if illegal crossing attempts continue at the rate they’ve been going in the last four months, the final tally by the end of this fiscal year will surpass 2018, 2019, and 2020 combined.”

White House Won’t Admit Biden’s Dealing With A Border Crisis (RT)

The fruits of Joe Biden’s border policies are already apparent: a tripling of children detained at the border, and crossings set to hit record levels. Yet the administration refuses to acknowledge it has a crisis on its hands. The number of unaccompanied migrant children detained along the southern US border has tripled in the last two weeks to more than 3,250, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. These children are filling the same Customs and Border Patrol facilities that Biden himself called “inhumane” during his 2020 campaign, and the “overflow shelters” opened by the Biden administration are nearing capacity. On top of the surge in child arrivals, agents encountered 78,000 migrants attempting to cross the border in January, the highest number for that month in more than a decade.

John Modlin, the interim chief in charge of the Border Patrol’s Tucson, Arizona sector, told Sinclair reporter Sharyl Attkisson on Sunday that if illegal crossing attempts continue at the rate they’ve been going in the last four months, the final tally by the end of this fiscal year will surpass 2018, 2019, and 2020 combined. This uptick in illegal immigration has been directly linked to Biden’s near-total reversal of former president Donald Trump’s tougher border policies. Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy was eliminated by executive order, and migrants awaiting their asylum claims in Mexico have now begun heading north to the US. Biden has also modified Trump’s policy of turning back all border crossers during the Covid-19 pandemic, carving out an exception for under-18s, hence the surge in unaccompanied minors highlighted by the New York Times.

Among his flurry of executive orders overturning Trump’s border policies, Biden resurrected the so-called ‘Catch and Release’ program, an Obama-era policy suspended by Trump, under which migrants apprehended at the border would be released in the US, on the condition that they later show up for an immigration court hearing. Unsurprisingly, few ever do, and even those who play by the rules face a wait time of up to 689 days. Critics claim that ‘Catch and Release’ effectively invites migrants to make the journey to the US, and Biden has faced criticism even from within his own party for reinstating the policy. “I don’t think, quite frankly, the Biden administration was aware of what’s happening on the ground here,” Texas State Senator Juan Hinojosa told The Hill on Sunday. “The Border Patrol is overwhelmed, they’re throwing their hands up because they don’t know what to do.”

Psaki

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“My training kicked in and I leapt into action. I’m just happy I was able to make a difference.”

Secret Service Agent Saves Biden As Reporter Tries To Ask A Question (BBee)

In an extraordinary act of bravery and heroism, a Secret Service agent dove in front of Biden to block a question from a pesky reporter. As Biden slowly stepped out of his vehicle, a nosy reporter rudely attempted to ask him intrusive questions about things that were none of her business. “Nooooooooooo!” said agent James Carter as the CBS reporter raised her hand to ask a completely inappropriate question– possibly about the Middle East, or executive orders. Carter ran up to the president, arms outstretched, and dove through the air to shield the president from the incoming query.


“It’s like everything went into slow motion,” said Agent Carter. “My training kicked in and I leapt into action. I’m just happy I was able to make a difference.” Carter took the entire force of the blow from the incoming question before collapsing to the ground. “Hey– lookie there, they fly now!” said President Biden. “Hey there young man, would you mind not flying in front of me while I exit my vehicle? I have to get to the Oval Office in time for Matlock.” The Secret Service agent sustained minor injuries but is grateful to have saved the president from a reporter’s unwelcome question. “Just doing my job,” he said.

Read more …

Moar.

OECD Believes Biden Stimulus Will Boost World GDP (ZH)

A global economic recovery is coming in hotter and faster than previously anticipated by the OECD as President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus program will boost not just the domestic economy but the world. The Paris-based organization upgraded its outlook for global growth on Tuesday in a note titled “The need for speed: faster vaccine rollout critical to stronger recovery,” where it explains global output could surge above pre-pandemic levels by the second half of 2021 as vaccine rollouts and stimulus aid the recovery but warned of unevenness. In Europe, measures to boost output will result in slower growth, with the OECD lowering France and Italy’s outlook this year. It also warned accommodative policies should not be prematurely tightened.

OECD estimates global GDP growth will print around 5.6% this year, an upward revision of more than one percentage point since its December 2020 report. Laurence Boone, the OECD’s chief economist, told the Financial Times that the stimulus bill – known as the American Rescue Plan – will add one percentage point to global economic growth in 2021. There are consequences to governments and monetary authorities across the planet printing like there was no tomorrow – that is – a sharp rise in inflation expectations are putting pressure on central banks to adopt some form of the yield curve control to cap the long end of the curve. It has also added to a violent shift from growth to value, where the once favored tech stocks have lost their luster, such as TSLA, NFLX, and AMZN, as investors pivot to value companies like XOM.

Boone doesn’t believe the stimulus package will increase domestic inflation to dangerous levels because “there is a lot of slack in US labor markets,” she said. “The amazing fiscal support everywhere means that we have preserved the economic fabric across OECD countries. Even in emerging markets, we’ve seen amazing policy support,” Boone said.

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Babylon Bee outdone by Politico. “A sales job”. Indeed.

The Biden Blitz Is Coming (Pol.)

President Joe Biden spent the first months of his presidency hunkered down as he worked on getting more vaccines into people’s arms and a massive bill to deal with the pandemic to his desk. With that $1.9 trillion legislation set to clear Congress and the pace of vaccinations picking up, the White House is preparing to embark on a new, far more public-facing phase. Biden is scheduled to deliver his first prime-time address as president Thursday, which will focus on the Covid crisis. Later this month, he’ll hold the first press conference of his young presidency. He’s committed to making a still-unscheduled address to Congress. And officials are busy preparing for a sprawling sales campaign designed to draw attention to the benefits of the Covid-relief package. Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and others will hit the road to tout, among other things: the $1,400 checks, how billions of dollars in the bill will reopen schools, and the investments being made in increasing the numbers of vaccinations.

“There are a lot of people who use the term ‘victory lap’ in a derogatory way. I’ve already heard people saying that Biden is about to take a victory lap. Well, that’s a lot of crap,” said House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), a close Biden ally. “One of the—if not the biggest—mistakes that Obama made, in my opinion, was getting the Recovery Act done and not explaining to people what he had done.” Biden and top administration officials acknowledged they’ll have to do more to ensure the benefits of their package sink into the public’s consciousness. And they’ve spent weeks carefully planning how best to begin their efforts while much of the country remains consumed by the pandemic. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that once the American Rescue Plan is signed, “We will need to do some work and use our best voices.”

Part of the White House strategy before the Covid package passed was aimed at avoiding the kinds of storyline distractions that Biden can sometimes create in less guarded moments. That’s one reason the White House so far has avoided putting Biden in front of reporters for more in-depth questioning. The upcoming sales job will require Biden to assume a new posture: fewer scripted events and private dealings with lawmakers, more interactions with the press and appearances before the public. That will give the president opportunities to make more emotional appeals, such as highlighting older family members finally being able to get together with their grandchildren.

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 082021
 
 March 8, 2021  Posted by at 10:06 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  27 Responses »


Grete Stern Sueño No. 27: No destiñe con el agua 1951

 

CDC: Face Masks Have Negligible Impact On Coronavirus Numbers (OAN)
Stay-at-Home Policy Is A Case Of Exception Fallacy (Nature)
World On Brink Of Fourth Wave Of Coronavirus (Hill)
Dutch Virologist Asks Cabinet For More Guts: “Open Terraces And Gyms” (P.)
Pressure To Reopen Greek Society Mounts As Virus Holds (K.)
Leaving UK Now Requires A ‘Special Validation To Travel’ (Calder)
Swiss Voters Support ‘Burqa Ban’ (RT)
Biden’s Historic Victory For America – No Thanks To GOP (CNN)
5 Women Now Accuse Cuomo Of Inappropriate Behavior (NYP)
New York State Senate’s Top Democrat Calls On Cuomo To Resign (F.)
Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal May Trigger Domino Effect (Sp.)
Approaching Zero Velocity! (CI)
Forget $15 an Hour — the Minimum Wage Should Be $24 (IC)

 

 

Something I’ve noted a few times: the changing definition of herd immunity. Pretty blatant.

 

 

 

The report is here. Sometimes I feel these reports are written with the express intent to confuse. Entirely different conclusions of course ensue.

CDC: Face Masks Have Negligible Impact On Coronavirus Numbers (OAN)

The CDC has admitted face masks do little to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amid mounting pressure to lift mask mandates across the U.S. In a new study, the CDC found face masks had a negligible impact on coronavirus numbers that didn’t exceed statistical margins of error. The study found that between March and December 2020, face mask orders reduced infection rates by 1.5 percent over the rolling periods of two months each. The masks were 0.5 percent effective in the first 20 days of the mandates and less than 2 percent effective after 100 days. The CDC added it still recommends wearing face masks, although it admitted such mandates do not make any statistical difference. In the meantime, some states across the nation have slowly returned to normalcy by putting an end to mask mandates.

Read more …

Nature, not the least, also has some questions.

Stay-at-Home Policy Is A Case Of Exception Fallacy (Nature)

A recent mathematical model has suggested that staying at home did not play a dominant role in reducing COVID-19 transmission. The second wave of cases in Europe, in regions that were considered as COVID-19 controlled, may raise some concerns. Our objective was to assess the association between staying at home (%) and the reduction/increase in the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in several regions in the world. In this ecological study, data from www.google.com/covid19/mobility/, ourworldindata.org and covid.saude.gov.br were combined. Countries with >100 deaths and with a Healthcare Access and Quality Index of ≥ 67 were included.


Data were preprocessed and analyzed using the difference between number of deaths/million between 2 regions and the difference between the percentage of staying at home. The analysis was performed using linear regression with special attention to residual analysis. After preprocessing the data, 87 regions around the world were included, yielding 3741 pairwise comparisons for linear regression analysis. Only 63 (1.6%) comparisons were significant. With our results, we were not able to explain if COVID-19 mortality is reduced by staying at home in ~98% of the comparisons after epidemiological weeks 9 to 34.

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But the WHO stays the panic course.

World On Brink Of Fourth Wave Of Coronavirus (Hill)

A year after the frightening beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the world stands on the brink of a fourth wave of infection as nations race to vaccinate their populations and stave off a new surge in hospitalizations and deaths. Total reported cases rose across the globe in the last week of February after six weeks of decline, driven in part by new, more virulent variants that transmit between people at startlingly higher rates than the initial strains out of Wuhan, China, and northern Italy. “This is disappointing, but not surprising,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters last week. “This is a global crisis that requires a consistent and coordinated global response.”

The United States recorded about 66,000 new cases a day over the last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), down 73 percent from the apex reached in early January and similar to levels of transmission from October. But the precipitous decline of late January and early February has plateaued in recent days, raising fears that a new wave is just around the corner. “We could not have made a more wonderful environment for this virus to take off than we have right now,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Prevention at the University of Minnesota. “We are not driving this tiger, we’re riding it. And the first time we may be able to drive it is with widespread use of the vaccine, and we’re not there yet.”

A total of 107 million doses of the three vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration have been shipped to states across the nation, according to CDC data. About 53 million people have received at least one dose, 16 percent of the population, while 27 million have received two doses. The first doses of the one-shot vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson were administered last week. Globally, 115 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed, a quarter — 28.7 million — in the United States. The 518,000 Americans who have died represents about 20 percent of the global death toll. The latest data from the CDC shows 41,000 are still hospitalized.

[..] Some models show an increase in cases just around the corner. One model maintained by the PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia shows reproduction rates — the measure of how many people are infected by someone who has the virus — rising in three quarters of the counties surveyed. States in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest showed higher transmission rates last week. Several states have loosened restrictions on businesses and gatherings imposed over the summer, even though infections continue at higher levels today than when those mandates were initially put in place. “You’re seeing a lot of states loosening mask restrictions at a point where they’re having more cases per day than they had over the summer when they put the mask restrictions in place,” said Rich Besser, a former CDC director who now runs the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “That just doesn’t make sense.”

Read more …

A heathen pagan virologist? What’s next?

Dutch Virologist Asks Cabinet For More Guts: “Open Terraces And Gyms” (P.)

Wanted: more risk, more guts with the corona approach. “Not every relaxation should be seen as a step closer to the abyss.” Louis Kroes is not alone in pushing for a less restrictive policy in the corona crisis. But within the world of virologists and epidemiologists, where the emphasis is usually on reducing the number of infections, arguments that criticize the current lockdown are not really common. Nevertheless, as professor of clinical virology (Leiden University Medical Center), Kroes sees room for relaxation. If the omens do not deceive, he will again be disappointed by the cabinet on Monday, which finds the figures in terms of infections and hospital admissions still too worrying. It confirms Kroes’s idea that a “zero-risk policy” is being pursued, in which every corona death is one too many.

“You shouldn’t look for just maximizing this security. You are also not going to stop motorized traffic because there are road deaths every year. A zero-risk policy for IC occupancy is not realistic. ” The alarming forecasts by the RIVM about the British variant of the coronavirus, which in reality has less drastic consequences, confirm in Kroes’ eyes that policymakers and their advisers always assume the worst case. Under that pressure, the Dutch are locked up at home after nine in the evening. According to Kroes, the cabinet assumes “extremely gloomy scenarios with” large margins of uncertainty “. “The simple idea is then: better safe than sorry; just assume the worst case, then it can only be better than expected. But that is also risky.

Because in addition to the group of vulnerable people at risk from the corona virus, there are also the interests of millions of Dutch people who are at risk due to the stringent corona approach. Their health suffers from passivity, for entrepreneurs income is at stake, for pupils and students their future, people become lonely. You have to take those risks into account. ” Kroes therefore believes that the margin that he believes there is for easing should be maximized. “I understand the principles of the policy. In the first wave, with the doom of ICU flooding, I found the lockdown understandable. But that extreme scenario is no longer clearly visible. That does not happen overnight either. That is no reason to go to great lengths to contain the pandemic. ”

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Greece can no longer afford the policies that failed so miserably, which they will never admit. Like all other governments. No, it’s the new variants, it’s the young people, it’s general behavior.

I think this is not an incident, but our overall approach to healthcare. We don’t encourage people to be healthy, we don’t prevent illness, we treat them only when they are already sick. Is this just a GDP thing, or does it go deeper?

Pressure To Reopen Greek Society Mounts As Virus Holds (K.)

With health officials unable at the moment to predict when the viral load in Attica and other badly affected areas will start to subside, the government is striving to chart the way forward under pressure from the heavy economic and social toll exacted by successive lockdowns. What is clear is that the ominous daily rates of hospitalizations, intubations and deaths make any plans for the resumption of retail on March 16, immediately after Clean Monday, highly unlikely. Bearing this in mind, the most optimistic scenario for the government foresees the opening of retail stores with limits to the numbers of customers per square meter by the end of the March. This scenario also provides for the opening of restaurants, but only with outdoor seating, some time in April.

What’s more, with the completion of the first round of vaccinations in May, it is hoped that it will be possible to return to some form of normalcy for the economy. Any decision taken will depend on the resilience of the national health system and not so much on the infection rate, which is growing among younger age groups and is likely to continue in the foreseeable future though it is not, however, expected to burden hospitals to a large degree. Although the current restrictive measures are not very different form the ones last March – with the exception that more economic activities are now allowed – they have failed to yield the desired results for two main reasons.

Firstly, because a sense of fatigue has set in among the public, which has also impacted inspection mechanisms. A second reason that has been postulated is that, compared to last March, fear of the coronavirus has subsided, especially among younger people. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ aides say that the rationale behind not adopting a tough general lockdown and why an attempt will be made to open retail and then catering is that the financial costs of supporting workers and businesses affected by the existing constraints are already untenable. The 2021 budget provided €7.5 billion for support measures. However, the relevant budget has already reached €11.5 billion. At the same time, only from the suspension of the operation of the retail trade, the state is losing about €1.1 to €1.2 billion per month in revenues.

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“Americans who wish to travel to North Korea are obliged to do just that.”

Leaving UK Now Requires A ‘Special Validation To Travel’ (Calder)

Imagine being told you must have a “special validation to travel”. Americans who wish to travel to North Korea are obliged to do just that. Prospective visitors, says the US State Department, must also “discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets, funeral wishes, etc” and “draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries”. That’s enough to make you lose the will to travel. Which is exactly what the UK’s home secretary had in mind when she decided to impose a special validation to travel on anyone seeking to leave the country. “There are still too many people coming in and out of our country each day,” Priti Patel told parliament in January.

UK residents are entitled to return home, making the inbound portion of that “too many” difficult to suppress – though deterrents such as the prospect of hotel quarantine are working some magic. Instead, the home secretary set about increasing controls on anyone seeking to leave the UK. She decided to impose a requirement for a “Declaration to Travel” – a very British version of that “special validation”. With just 58 hours remaining before it became a criminal offence even to turn up at an airport, railway station or ferry port without a completed form, the document was finally published. It does not involve a side order of custody of children, funeral wishes and a last will and testament – though given the increasingly draconian travel restrictions put in place by the government, I wouldn’t have put it past them.

Ms Patel calls the Declaration to Travel “a necessary step to protect the public and our world-class vaccination programme”. I call it the antithesis of the “Global Britain” for which we are expected to strive after Brexit – as well as an unnecessary and alarming extension of the government’s powers. The four UK nations share a perfectly powerful law at present: stay at home, and venture outside only if you can claim exemption such as caring, shopping for essentials, exercise or education. Heading for an airport and hoping to board a plane somewhere warmer (and possibly less in tune with North Korea) is most definitely not on the list of excuses for being out of the house.

Read more …

Brilliant. The Swiss ban face coverings just when their own laws make them mandatory.

Swiss Voters Support ‘Burqa Ban’ (RT)

Covering your face in public for non-medical reasons will become illegal in Switzerland after a proposal dubbed a “burqa ban” was accepted by a narrow margin of voters in a binding national referendum on Sunday.
Supporters of the “burqa ban” have prevailed in the Alpine country, with 51.2 percent being in favor and 48.8 percent being against, official data showed after votes were counted. In line with the Swiss system of direct democracy, the country’s constitution will now be amended to forbid face coverings in public places for all but three specific reasons. The legislation, which had been promoted by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) since 2016, did not mention Islam directly and was claimed by proponents to be aimed at preventing violent rioters from hiding their identities.


It was nonetheless dubbed the “burqa ban” by the media and politicians due to also restricting the face coverings worn by Muslim women. Back in 2009, the SVP initiated a referendum on preventing the construction of new minarets in Switzerland, and also won that vote. There are several exceptions to the “burqa ban” – it allows the covering of one’s face for security, climate, or health reasons. As such, it wouldn’t contradict the anti-coronavirus measures that oblige Swiss citizens to wear face masks in public places, on public transport, and in indoor workspaces. Muslim women would also be allowed to don burqas and niqabs in places of worship. By greenlighting the ban, Switzerland has joined France, where full-face veils in public were outlawed in 2011, and such countries as Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Bulgaria, where full or partial bans on face coverings are currently in place. Two Swiss cantons had already introduced similar restrictions on burqas some years back.

Read more …

Meanwhile, in CNN’s parallel universe, there’s apparently also a parallel president….

Biden’s Historic Victory For America – No Thanks To GOP (CNN)

President Joe Biden is on the cusp of a major legislative victory. If all goes according to plan and the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is signed into law, Biden will have scored an early triumph in his presidency. The Covid-19 relief bill will provide a wide range of benefits, from direct payments to American families, money for vaccine development and distribution, small business relief, more substantial subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, a child tax credit, a higher Earned Income Tax Credit, federal funds for state and local governments and much more. Given the scale and scope of this measure, it is an accomplishment that will cement Biden’s historic role in overseeing the country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite last minute concessions to appease moderate Democrats on Friday night, as journalist Ezra Klein tweeted, “This still looks like the most ambitious and progressive economic package Congress has passed in my lifetime. It will do more to cut poverty, and push full employment, than anything else I’ve covered.” So far, it looks like Biden has learned some important lessons on how to deal with the modern Republican Party. After Biden watched congressional Republicans obstruct the agenda of his former boss, Barack Obama, he saw Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, whose presidency was capped off with a violent insurrection against Congress, expose the radicalization of the GOP.

[..] There were certainly defeats along the way. The amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 failed. On Friday night, Senate Democrats finally won over Sen. Joe Manchin — a moderate Democrat who threatened to derail the relief bill — by dropping the bid to increase unemployment benefits from $300 a week to $400. To satisfy moderate Democrats, Biden had also agreed to narrow the income eligibility for the $1400 stimulus checks, cutting off couples who earn more than $160,000 a year or individuals who earn more than $80,000 a year. But most of the package has remained intact. While Biden was certainly open to Republican support, he did not cater to their demands in the elusive hope that they would join him.

Read more …

Drip drip.

5 Women Now Accuse Cuomo Of Inappropriate Behavior (NYP)

Two more women came forward Saturday to accuse Gov. Cuomo of sexually harassing behavior, including a former press aide who describes struggling to free herself from his repeated hugs, and a young assistant who now says he left her feeling like “just a skirt.” Former press aide Karen Hinton endured a “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate” embrace from Cuomo in a dimly lit Los Angeles hotel room in December 2000, she told the Washington Post. The married Hinton pulled away, but “he pulls me back for another intimate embrace,” she told the paper. “I thought at that moment it could lead to a kiss, it could lead to other things, so I just pull away again, and I leave.” At the time, Cuomo led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A current rep for Cuomo strongly denied Hinton’s allegation to the newspaper, claiming “this did not happen.”


Hinton’s claims are made all the more startling given that her husband is lobbyist Howard Glaser, a longtime Cuomo ally and confidante who worked as his director of state operations and senior policy advisor until 2014. The other new accuser, Ana Liss, a policy and operations aide who worked for the governor from 2013 to 2015, said he’d behaved inappropriately while on the job in Albany. The governor called her “sweetheart” and asked if she had a boyfriend, Liss recalled to the Wall Street Journal. Liss said Cuomo touched her on her lower back during an event, once kissed her hand and asked her if she was dating. “It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” she told the newspaper. Liss is the third former state employee and fourth woman overall to accuse the governor of varying degrees of sexual harassment. Hinton brings the total of accusers to five.

Read more …

“Cuomo Says There’s ‘No Way’ He’ll Resign After Fifth Accuser Comes Forward”

New York State Senate’s Top Democrat Calls On Cuomo To Resign (F.)

The top-ranking democrats who lead New York’s State Senate and State Assembly both signaled Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) should resign following a wave of new allegations from two of the governor’s former aides. New York State Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement Sunday afternoon that Cuomo “must resign” for “the good of the state,” adding: “Everyday there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government. State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) said soon after that he shared the sentiment of Stewart-Cousins “regarding the governor’s ability to continue to lead this state.” “We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York,” Heastie said.

These statements from the top-ranking democrats come hours after Cuomo, speaking to reporters on a phone call prompted by the new allegations from two former aides (compounding allegations from three other women over the past few weeks), reiterated that he has no plans to resign. “I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” Cuomo said during a Sunday afternoon phone presser, asking the public to wait until the New York Attorney General’s office finishes its investigation into the claims. Cuomo called the new allegations from Karen Hinton—one of the governor’s former press aides—that he called her to his hotel room and acted inappropriately toward her after a work event in 2000 “not true,” labeling Hinton a “long-time political adversary of mine.”

Responding to separate allegations from Anna Liss, another former aide, who said she felt patronized and diminished by the governor, recounting questions about her love life, Cuomo kissing her hand and touching her lower back at a reception, Cuomo said he would often engage in “friendly banter” with staff, but did not have malicious intent.

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“As a member of one of New York’s best known political dynasties, Cuomo is a protected species..”

“I personally find it difficult to imagine such a deeply entrenched political animal of the swamp variety facing any serious repercussion..”

Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal May Trigger Domino Effect (Sp.)

Andrew Cuomo has found himself in a heap of trouble over long-term care facility residents’ COVID-related deaths and sexual harassment allegations. Although Cuomo is not going to resign, his cases may have repercussions for his political future and hit Democratic governors who issued similar nursing home orders during the pandemic. On 5 March, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose time in office has recently been mired by two separate scandals, was stripped of emergency powers by the Democratic-dominated state legislature. The same day, the Democratic majority’s leader in New York’s state Senate said that the governor should resign if “any further people” come forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct.

Five women have made sexual harassment or bullying claims against Cuomo so far. NY Attorney General Letitia James has requested that the governor and his staff preserve all records that may be relevant to the sexual harassment probe. A day earlier, The New York Times broke that top members of Gov. Cuomo’s COVID-19 taskforce rewrote a report from the state’s health department to hide the real number of deaths among nursing home residents last June. The FBI and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are investigating the governor’s handling of nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to an 18 February ABC News report. Although Cuomo has repeatedly tried to downplay both scandals, he has nevertheless hired Elkan Abramowitz, a prominent criminal defence lawyer and former federal prosecutor, to represent his office in the investigation into New York’s misreporting of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents.

Hiring a prominent criminal defence attorney is an indication that Governor Cuomo is taking the growing scandal seriously, suggests Jason Goodman, US investigative journalist and Crowdsource the Truth founder. “So far, no significant information about the probe has been revealed to the public beyond the fact that it is underway or at least being contemplated”, Goodman says. “It is difficult to say at this point what federal prosecutors may do or what determinations may be made”. Still, one needs to keep in mind that previously Andrew Cuomo served as the state’s attorney general, the secretary of housing and urban development, and campaign manager for his own father’s gubernatorial campaign, so he likely knows or has worked with many of those who would be investigating him, according to Goodman.

“I personally find it difficult to imagine such a deeply entrenched political animal of the swamp variety facing any serious repercussions”, the journalist remarks. Previously, Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst who exposed General Electric’s massive financial discrepancies in 2008, raised serious questions about Cuomo’s non-profit, Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged, but no investigation has come about, Goodman recalls. “As a member of one of New York’s best known political dynasties, Cuomo is a protected species”, the journalist adds.

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Money ain’t moving anywhere.

Approaching Zero Velocity! (CI)

Since its creation in 1913, The Federal Reserve has helped obliterate the purchasing power of the US Dollar.

And just wait for Biden’s $1.9 trillion in government spending (the first of many) to hit the economy.


Now you can see why investors seek out gold, silver, Bitcoin and other sources of protection from The Federal Reserve.

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Inequality explained.

Forget $15 an Hour — the Minimum Wage Should Be $24 (IC)

The coronavirus pandemic relief bill passed by the House of Representatives this week would raise the federal minimum wage in steps until it reached $15 an hour in 2025. But an increase in the minimum wage has been removed from the Senate’s legislation. At least for now, it is stuck at $7.25. This is bad enough in itself, but even worse is that almost no Americans understand how low we’ve allowed our aspirations to become. Our country’s productivity gains in recent decades should have translated into a minimum wage today of $24 an hour — and by 2025, it should be almost $30. This may sound preposterous. But in fact, U.S. society was once on a path to this destination. We simply chose to step off that path.

From both a moral and practical perspective, the minimum wage should go up in step with the productivity of the U.S. economy — that is, our ever-increasing ability to create more wealth with the same amount of work. Morally, as a country grows richer, everyone should share in the increased wealth. Practically, companies that sell things need lots of people with the money to buy them. We know that this can work because it already did. During the 30 years from the establishment of a minimum wage in 1938 to 1968, Congress repeatedly upped the minimum wage so that it did in fact go up hand in hand with U.S. productivity. By the end of that period, it was worth the equivalent of $12 per hour today.

Since 1968, American productivity has substantially increased. Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, points out that if the minimum wage had gone up at the same rate, it would now be over $24. At that level, as Baker says, a couple who both worked full time at minimum-wage jobs would take home $96,000 a year. Baker also calculates that by 2025, rising productivity would bring the minimum wage close to $30 an hour. But instead we’ve gone in the other direction. After the late 1960s, Congress stopped raising the minimum wage in step with productivity. Instead, over the past 50 years, Congress has allowed the minimum wage to plummet in real terms. That is, minimum-wage workers of the past were actually paid more than minimum-wage workers make today — even though today’s workers live in a much richer society.

Indeed, since 1950, the hourly minimum wage has almost never been lower than it is now. Of course, 1950 is literally a lifetime ago, and the U.S. is now a completely different country. Our per capita GDP is now four times greater.

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