May 112021
 


John French Sloan A Woman’s Work 1912

 

57 Top Scientists And Doctors Demand Immediate Stop to ALL Vaccinations (EnV)
Feds Demonizing Covid-19 Treatments In Order To Promote Vaccine (WND)
Norway Health Board Rejects J&J, AZ Vaccines Over Side Effects (RT)
Doctor Warns Allowing Hugs ‘Might Be A Mistake’ (Mirror)
US Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine For 12-15 Year Olds (Y!)
Unthinkable Thoughts (Mitteldorf)
US Gas Stations Running Out Of Fuel (DM)
Free Speech Inc. (Turley)
Chevron’s Prisoner (Bragman)
Civil War Is Brewing In France And You Know It: French Military To Macron (RT)
Agent Orange Complaint vs Monsanto, Dow Chemical Rejected By French Court (RT)

 

 

 

 

Not everyone’s asleep yet.

57 Top Scientists And Doctors Demand Immediate Stop to ALL Vaccinations (EnV)

Vaccines for other coronaviruses have never been approved for humans, and data generated in the development of coronavirus vaccines designed to elicit neutralizing antibodies show that they may worsen COVID-19 disease via antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) and Th2 immunopathology, regardless of the vaccine platform and delivery method [9-11]. Vaccine-driven disease enhancement in animals vaccinated against SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV is known to occur following viral challenge, and has been attributed to immune complexes and Fc-mediated viral capture by macrophages, which augment T-cell activation and inflammation [11-13].

In March 2020, vaccine immunologists and coronavirus experts assessed SARS-CoV-2 vaccine risks based on SARS-CoV-vaccine trials in animal models. The expert group concluded that ADE and immunopathology were a real concern, but stated that their risk was insufficient to delay clinical trials, although continued monitoring would be necessary [14]. While there is no clear evidence of the occurrence of ADE and vaccine-related immunopathology in volunteers immunized with SARS-CoV-2 vaccines [15], safety trials to date have not specifically addressed these serious adverse effects (SAE).

Given that the follow-up of volunteers did not exceed 2-3.5 months after the second dose [16-19], it is unlikely such SAE would have been observed. Despite errors in reporting, it cannot be ignored that even accounting for the number of vaccines administered, according to the US Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System (VAERS), the number of deaths per million vaccine doses administered has increased more than 10-fold. We believe there is an urgent need for open scientific dialogue on vaccine safety in the context of large-scale immunization. In this paper, we describe some of the risks of mass vaccination in the context of phase 3 trial exclusion criteria and discuss the SAE reported in national and regional adverse effect registration systems. We highlight unanswered questions and draw attention to the need for a more cautious approach to mass vaccination.

Read more …

“..the National Institutes of Health issued a guideline recommending physicians not treat COVID-19 until a patient needs oxygen..”

Feds Demonizing Covid-19 Treatments In Order To Promote Vaccine (WND)

“Something has gone off the rails” in the world’s approach to the novel coronavirus pandemic, with health authorities in the U.S. and abroad suppressing safe, cheap and effective treatments while promoting experimental vaccines that have received only emergency use authorization, contends Dr. Peter McCullough. McCullough, a renowned cardiologist who testified to the U.S. Senate last fall on COVID-19 treatments, pointed out in a lengthy interview with Tucker Carlson’s Fox Nation show “Tucker Carlson Today” that the National Institutes of Health issued a guideline recommending physicians not treat COVID-19 until a patient needs oxygen. “This document will go down in history as the most nihilistic medical guidance as Americans are suffering,” said McCullough, the vice chief of internal medicine at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

Asked to explain why such guidance would be issued, McCullough said it could be “fear driven,” but it’s not in his “moral DNA” to “let people die with no treatment.” Around the world, physicians are finding success using treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, but there is no regulatory support in the United States for treating COVID-19 at all, as there would be for any other disease, he said. In November, McCullough was among the physicians who in Senate testimony decried the politicization hydroxychloroquine, invermectin and other treatments. McCullough has 600 peer-reviewed publications to his name. Many have appeared in top-tier journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association and The Lancet.

He is the president of the Cardiorenal Society of America, the co-editor of Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine and associate editor of the American Journal of Cardiology and Cardiorenal Medicine. He has led monitoring safety boards in major drug trials. “I have seen things in the last year that I cannot explain as a doctor,” he told Carlson. “Why are other doctors not helping, with a simple [treatment] these patients avoid hospitalization and death?” He noted three cases in which families have had to go to court to force physicians to administer the common antiparasitic drug ivermectin. In each case, the court sided with the family and the patient survived.

[..] Meanwhile, a new peer-reviewed study published by the American Journal of Therapeutics concludes that ivermectin can end the COVID-19 pandemic. Reviewed by a team that includes three top U.S. government senior scientists, the research finds the drug significantly reduces the risk of contracting COVID-19 when used regularly. In February, a study published in the U.S. journal Frontiers of Pharmacology found ivermectin reduces COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths by about 75%. In more than 30 trials around the world, the drug causes “repeated, consistent, large magnitude improvements in clinical outcomes’ at all stages of the disease,” according to the study.

Read more …

Experts contradicting each other is another curious aspect of Covid.

Norway Health Board Rejects J&J, AZ Vaccines Over Side Effects (RT)

The Institute of Public Health in Norway has recommended against the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, adding to a recommendation of permanently avoiding the use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 jab over side effect fears. In a press release on Monday, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) advised the government against the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 jab, following guidance from a government-appointed commission. The committee also supported an earlier recommendation by the NIPH not to use the AstraZeneca shot. “We do not recommend that the vaccines be used in the national vaccination program due to the serious side effects that have been seen,” Lars Vorland, chair of the expert committee, said at a press conference on Monday.

In its statement, NIPH formally published the recommendation not to use the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 jab. “Our goal is to protect as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, to reopen society and get everyday life back. It is therefore a difficult decision to recommend that one of the Covid vaccines not be used actively in the program.” NIPH recommends that the Johnson & Johnson shot be kept in emergency storage in case the vaccine supplies of the mRNA jab should fail. They add that it is particularly suited to being an emergency vaccine, as it only requires one dose and can be stored for a long time.

[..] Health Minister Bent Hoeie told a news conference that “the government will use this as basis for its decision, together with recommendations from the Institute of Public Health, on whether to use these vaccines.” In April, NIPH recommended that the government stop using the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after a lengthy review of the jab. Oslo suspended the vaccine’s use on March 11 following reports of potentially fatal rare blood clots. The blood clotting concerns have already led to limitations in the distribution of the vaccine in multiple countries. Five healthcare workers, all aged between 32 and 54, were hospitalized after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine in Norway. Three of them died.

Read more …

Nowhere near the biggest mistake here.

Doctor Warns Allowing Hugs ‘Might Be A Mistake’ (Mirror)

Dr Hilary Jones had his say on reports Prime Minister Boris Johnson may allow hugging in England from next Monday, with him urging caution. The Good Morning Britain doctor told of the benefits of hugging, but warned there was a greater risk of coronavirus transmission if people started touching everybody. Hilary said that with coronavirus still spreading in the UK and around the world, with new variants detected, it could be a “mistake” to start allowing such close contact. While it is yet to be confirmed, Johnson is tipped to announce hugging will be allowed from Monday May 17 when the lockdown rules change again in England.

With bigger groups allowed to gather outdoors, and groups of six allowed indoors, the allowance of hugging is a late change to the earlier announced new rules. But Dr Hilary urged caution with the news, and told people to be “selective” if they are going to get close to people. Speaking on the show, he described the increased risk of transmission as “quite substantial” with close contact such as hugging. He explained: “If you are in hugging range and you’re touching somebody, and your face is right next to their’s, you are gonna be breathing the breath that they are exhaling.

“The virus is transmitted through aerosol droplets, so the risk is much higher.” He went on: “Professor Noakes, she’s part of SAGE, she’s saying that actually she’s worried, and that hugs should be selective. “They should be short, they should be selective… hug your children, hug your grandchildren, not promiscuous hugs we’re not talking about here, not hugging everybody, not getting too close for too long.” Hilary added: “It’s great, hugs actually have a benefit in health in terms of, forget the aerosol transmission of viruses for a moment, there’s all sorts of things that happen.”

Read more …

In the context of the survival rate, this makes no sense.

US Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine For 12-15 Year Olds (Y!)

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 years old. “This is a promising development in our fight against the virus,” said President Joe Biden. “If you are a parent who wants to protect your child, or a teenager who is interested in getting vaccinated, today’s decision is a step closer to that goal.” The FDA previously granted an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to individuals aged 16 and older. “Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.


The FDA said some 1.5 million Covid-19 cases in individuals aged 11 to 17 years old have been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021. The course of the disease is generally milder in children but they can pass it on to older, more vulnerable adults. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said in March that their two-dose vaccine regimen was shown to be safe and highly effective in a trial of 2,260 12 to 15 year olds. Biden last week stressed the importance of expanding vaccinations to 12 to 15 year olds and said the authorities were “ready to move immediately” once the authorization came through. Some 20,000 pharmacies around the country were ready to begin to vaccinate adolescents, he said, and doses will also be shipped to pediatricians.

Read more …

“The most compelling evidence for a laboratory origin of COVID is that coronaviruses don’t have furin cleavage sites, and until last year, this trick has never evolved naturally.”

Unthinkable Thoughts (Mitteldorf)

The spike protein is the part of the virus structure that interfaces with the host cell. SARS 1 and SARS 2 viruses both have spike proteins that bind to a human cell receptor called ACE-2, common in lung cells but also present in other parts of the body. Binding to the cell’s ACE-2 receptor is like the wolf knocking at the door of Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother. “Hello, grandmama. I’m your granddaughter. Please let me in.” The virus is a wolf wearing a red cape and hood, pretends to be an ACE-2 enzyme molecule seeking entrance to the cell.

In order to enter the cell, the virus must break off from the spike protein and leave it at the doorstep, so to speak. This is an important and difficult step, as it turns out. Unique to the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a trick for making the separation. Just at the edge of the protein is a furin cleavage site. Furin is an enzyme that snips protein molecules, and it is common in our bodies, with legitimate metabolic uses. A furin cleavage site is a string of 4 particular amino acids that calls to furin, “hey — come over here. I’m a protein that needs snipping.”

[..] One of the most credible dangers of the spike protein involves fertility. None of the vaccines were tested in pregnant women, and yet many government and other authorities are recommending it as safe for pregnant women. VAERS has reported 174 miscarriages to date after COVID vaccination. VAERS is notoriously underreported. I find the anecdotes less concerning than the fact that no one is taking this seriously, and research is being actively discouraged in the best-respected science journals. There is a credible mechanism, in that the spike protein is partially homologous to syncytin. Syncytin, in fact, was originally a retroviral protein, inserted into the mammalian genome many aeons ago, and evolved over the ages to play an essential role in reproduction, binding the placenta to the fetus.

An immune response that attacks syncytin might be expected to be impose a danger of spontaneous abortion. In any ordinary times, this would be a subject that medical researchers would jump on, with animal tests and field surveys to assess the danger. But these are no ordinary times, and the risk is being dismissed on theoretical grounds without investigation. This is especially suspicious in the context of history: a Gates Foundation vaccination program in 1995 was allegedly promoted to young women, causing infertility. (Yes, I know there are many fact-checkers eager to “debunk” this story, but I don’t find them convincing, and some of these fact-checkers are compromised by Gates funding.) Even doing what the spike protein is supposed to do — tying up ACE2 — can be a problem for our lungs and arteries, which are routinely protected by ACE2.

The most dangerous possibility, suspected but not verified, is that the spike protein causes a prion cascade. Prions are paradoxical pathogens, in that they are misfolded proteins that cause misfolded proteins. Their evolutionary etiology is utterly mysterious, so much so that it took Stanley Prusiner a decade after describing the biology of prions before the scientific community would take prion biochemistry seriously. But prions make potent bioweapons, which laboratories can design outside of natural evolutionary dynamics. The possibility of prion-like structures in the spike protein was noted very early in the pandemic based on a computational study. This recent review combines theoretical, laboratory, and observational evidence to make a case for caution. Once again, I find it disturbing that this possibility is being dismissed on theoretical grounds rather than investigated in the lab and the field.

Read more …

And not just a few of them.

US Gas Stations Running Out Of Fuel (DM)

Gas stations from Florida to Atlanta to Virginia are closing their pumps due to a fuel shortage brought on by the Colonial Pipeline hack – and a state of emergency has been declared by the governor of North Carolina. American Airlines was adding stops to two of its long-haul flights from its Charlotte, North Carolina hub, CNBC reported, as a likely effort to conserve fuel in areas where it could run short. The 5,500 mile Colonial Pipeline was shut down on Friday evening by the company when the ransomware attack was launched – seemingly by Russian-based cybercriminal group, DarkSide. Service was gradually being restored on Monday. At least 12 other companies were also affected by the ransomware attack, Bloomberg reported, and Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, called for those responsible to be executed.

The pipeline supplies 45 per cent of all the East Coast’s fuel needs, including Atlanta’s airport – the world’s busiest, by passenger traffic. The pipeline also serves 90 U.S. military installations and 26 oil refineries. On Monday evening motorists were beginning to report shortages at gas stations. A spokesman for Race Trac, which operates gas stations in the Atlanta area, confirmed the shortage to WSBTV-2. At least two gas stations in Tallahassee, Florida, were completely out of stock, Bloomberg reported. Patrick de Haan, an energy expert who runs the monitoring site Gas Buddy Tracker, said his sources showed five per cent of stations in Virginia running empty. His recommendation to motorists? ‘Conserve, conserve, conserve,’ he said.

The lack of supply could soon hit users across the country in the pocketbook. AAA already predicts that gasoline prices in the Georgia region alone could rise three to seven cents per gallon this week, and said that there also could be ‘limited fuel availability’ in places. ‘This shutdown will have implications on both gasoline supply and price, but the impact will vary regionally,’ said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman for AAA-The Auto Club Group. ‘Areas including Mississippi, Tennessee and the East Coast from Georgia into Delaware are most likely to experience limited fuel availability and prices increases as early as this week.’

[..] DarkSide, which cultivates a Robin Hood image of stealing from corporations and giving a cut to charity, said in a statement posted on the dark web that their only goal was to ‘make money’ and not create problems for society. ‘We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics,’ the statement read. ‘Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society.’ ‘From today we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future.’ Colonial, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia, has not yet said whether it has paid or is negotiating a ransom with the hackers.

Read more …

“..it sometimes seems Facebook wants to be treated like AT&T but act like the DNC.”

Free Speech Inc. (Turley)

After Facebook’s oversight board this week upheld the social media giant’s continuing ban of former President Trump, the response of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) captured the visceral joy of many on the left: She posted a series of laughing emojis. Welcome to Free Speech, Inc.: the Democratic incorporation of free speech built around the a presumption of corporate censorship (for some). Of course, Democrats insist they are not attacking free speech, just combating “disinformation.” After all, they say, private companies have every right to control speech — unless you are, say, a bakery opposed to preparing a cake for a same-sex wedding, or a company contributing to political causes. The current mantra defending Facebook’s corporate speech rights seems strikingly out of sync with years of Democrats and political activists demanding the curtailment of such rights.

When Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado refused on religious grounds to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) denounced the bakery’s claim of free speech: “It was never about a cake — it’s about making sure no one has a license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans.” When the Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that corporations have free speech rights to participate in politics, Warren was appalled. She has long rejected the notion that corporations have the constitutional rights like individuals: “Corporations are not people. People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They cry. They dance. They live. They love. And they die.” Notably, Warren felt that one company (Masterpiece Cakeshop) can be forced to speak while another corporation (Facebook) should be able to stop others from speaking.

When Facebook barred Trump, Warren declared: “I’m glad that Donald Trump is not going to be on Facebook. Suits me.” House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) also celebrated and added: “Facebook must ban him. Which is to say, forever.” When free speech concerns are raised over corporate censorship, Democrats often drop references to “free speech” violations and instead address “First Amendment” violations. Indeed, when Trump objected to the ban on Twitter as “banning free speech,” a host of media outlets ran stories like: “Fact Check: Did Twitter Violate President Trump’s First Amendment Rights?” Experts like Wayne State University law professor Jonathan Weinberg chimed in that, under the First Amendment, a company “gets to choose who it does business with and who it doesn’t.”

[..] These companies once were viewed as neutral platforms for people to exchange views — people who affirmatively “friend” or invite the views of others. If Big Tech wants to be treated like a telephone company, it must act like a telephone company. We wouldn’t tolerate AT&T interrupting calls to object to some misleading conversation, or cutting the line for those who misinform others. As a neutral platform for communications, telephone companies receive special legal and economic status under our laws. Yet, it sometimes seems Facebook wants to be treated like AT&T but act like the DNC.

Read more …

Donziger’s story is unbelievable.

Chevron’s Prisoner (Bragman)

Donziger was a human rights attorney representing indigenous peoples in Ecuador who brought a lawsuit against Texaco for rainforest pollution in the region. In 2011, Donziger and his clients won a $18 billion judgement against the fuel giant, which had since been bought out by Chevron, one of the largest judgments ever handed down against an oil company, even when that amount was later reduced to $9.5 billion. While the ruling was subsequently upheld by three Ecuadorian courts, Chevron moved its operation out of the country to avoid paying the damages and countersued Donziger in the United States under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Lewis A. Kaplan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), a former corporate lawyer, was assigned to the case and granted Chevron a temporary restraining order against the Ecuador judgment in an effort to block enforcement of it anywhere in the world. During the non-jury trial, former Ecuadorian judge Alberto Guerra, who presided over the case when it was first filed, testified that Donziger and his team had bribed him to ghostwrite the multi-billion dollar judgment against Chevron for presiding judge Nicolas Zambrano. Guerra claimed Zambrano had also been bribed and had offered him a percentage of his take. Guerra would later admit during an international arbitration that he had accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Chevron and recant some details of his testimony.

Despite Guerra’s admission, the tribunal ultimately sided with Chevron, finding that the multi-billion-dollar judgment had still been tainted by fraud and that the claims against the oil giant had been settled and released by the Ecuadorian government years earlier. Kaplan, the U.S. judge, also had ties to the oil company. The Clinton appointee had investments in funds with Chevron holdings, and had previously suggested in deposition hearings from a separate but related case that Chevron could have grounds to file a racketeering suit against Donziger. During the racketeering proceedings, Kaplan described the oil giant as “a company of considerable importance to our economy that employs thousands all over the world, that supplies a group of commodities — gasoline, heating oil, other fuels, and lubricants — on which every one of us depends every single day.”

Relying largely on Guerra’s testimony, Kaplan ruled against Donziger in March 2014, alleging a vast conspiracy and finding that the attorney had acquired the Ecuador judgment through “corrupt means.” A federal appeals court would later uphold Kaplan’s ruling. Donziger was later disbarred from practicing law in New York. After its legal victory, Chevron sought to recoup more than $800,000 in court costs from Donziger. The company’s lawyers demanded possession of the attorney’s personal computer and cell phone, which it claimed were necessary to enforce its monetary judgment against him. Donziger appealed and refused to turn over his electronics, arguing he would be handing over privileged materials.

Kaplan responded by holding Donziger in civil and then criminal contempt of court and slapping him with the largest state sanction in the history of New York courts. The SDNY U.S. Attorney’s office declined to prosecute the case, citing a lack of resources, so in July 2019, Kaplan took the unusual step of turning the contempt case over to attorneys from the major corporate law firm Seward & Kissel LLP to act as special prosecutors. He also selected a colleague, Judge Loretta Preska, to hear the criminal case. As part of the proceedings, Preska sentenced Donziger to his ongoing home confinement in August 2019.

Read more …

Macron can’t just brush this off.

Civil War Is Brewing In France And You Know It: French Military To Macron (RT)

A group of active French military personnel has published a new open letter to the country’s president Emmanuel Macron, warning him of a “civil war” brewing in the country after all the “concessions” he’s made to Islamism. The letter, published in the conservative Valeurs Actuelles magazine late on Sunday, strikes a similar tone to the message published by the same outlet last month. Unlike the previous one, which was signed by 25 retired generals and active-duty soldiers, the new letter is anonymous and is open for signing by the general public. As of noon on Monday, it had attracted over 100,000 signatures. The authors of the letter have described themselves as active-duty French soldiers, belonging to the younger generation of the military that saw actual combat over the past years.

“We are what the newspapers have called ‘the fire generation.’ Men and women, active soldiers, of all armies and of all ranks, of all opinions, we all love our country. These are our only claims to fame. And while we cannot, by law, express ourselves with our face uncovered, it is equally impossible for us to stay silent,” the letter reads. The letter accuses President Macron of making “concessions” to Islamism on French soil, while the country’s military has been spilling its blood to fight against it in “Afghanistan, Mali, the Central African Republic or elsewhere.”

The authors have also indicated that at least some of them have taken part in the domestic Operation Sentinelle, launched after the devastating 2015 Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks, and witnessed certain ethno-religious communities in France completely detached from the rest of the country. For such communities “France means nothing but an object of sarcasm, contempt or even hatred,” the letter reads. Like the previous letter, this new one warns the republic’s authorities of an impending “civil war,” with the very existence of France being at stake. “Once again, civil war is brewing in France and you know it perfectly well,” the letter reads.

Read more …

“..the court said it did not have jurisdiction to rule over America’s wartime activities in Vietnam”

Agent Orange Complaint vs Monsanto, Dow Chemical Rejected By French Court (RT)

A Paris court has rejected a 2014 complaint brought against 14 companies involved in the production and sale of Agent Orange to the US during the Vietnam War, declaring it does not have jurisdiction to rule over the matter. The lawsuit in the French court was filed by French-Vietnamese former journalist Tran To Nga. She accused the companies – among them Monsanto and Dow Chemical – of being culpable for the injuries caused to her, her children, and others, as well as for damage to the environment. However, the case was rejected on Monday, after the court said it did not have jurisdiction to rule over America’s wartime activities in Vietnam, halting the suit seven years after it was filed.

Tran, who covered the conflict, has been supported by non-governmental organizations in her quest to hold companies responsible for manufacturing Agent Orange and providing it to the US military. Those accused in the lawsuit have denied any responsibility for the damage caused in Vietnam, arguing that they cannot be blamed for how the American military used the chemical. Had Tran been successful, the case would have set a legal precedent for millions of Vietnamese civilian victims to have claimed compensation for health effects caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Currently, only American, Australian, and Korean military veterans who were exposed to the chemical have been awarded compensation, with America’s Agent Orange Settlement Fund having paid out claims to 52,000 former service members or their survivors, averaging at around $3,800 each.

Agent Orange was deployed across Vietnam by American forces from 1961 to 1971. During a brutal chemical warfare campaign against Viet Cong guerilla fighters, 12 million gallons of herbicide were used to defoliate the ecosystem, thereby exposing the enemy and destroy crops. The Red Cross of Vietnam estimates that around a million people are disabled or suffer from health problems as the result of their exposure to the chemical. Dioxin, a highly toxic element of Agent Orange, has been linked to birth defects, cancers, and other deadly diseases.

Read more …

 

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“The drop CNN is experiencing is profound. On Friday, not one program broke 900K total viewers. Prime averaged less than 800K overall.

For comparison, the network averaged 2.74 million viewers in January, so we’re talking about more than two-thirds of the audience – gone.”

 

 

 


©AlanMcFadyen

 

 

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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

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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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