Apr 182021
 


Gustav Klimt Litzlberg am Attersee 1914-15

 

 

A friend sent me a link to this piece today, and I thought I’d share the entire thing instead of just linking to it. There are many questions about the Covid “vaccines”, and they must be asked. As someone said, we simply cannot afford to shut down either questions or dissenting voices. But there are plenty attempts to do just that.

This article was written by a man named Christian Elliot, who appears to be a health nerd/coach and “question asker”, mid-40s, 4 young kids; there’s little else I can tell you about him. Other than he asks the right questions, and they should be answered. Christian’s site is DeconstructingConventional.com.

He uses more space(s) than I usually do, but I don’t feel like going through the whole source code, so here goes:

 

 

Christian Elliot: Here are the reasons I’m opting out of the covid vaccine.


#1: VACCINE MAKERS ARE IMMUNE FROM LIABILITY


The only industry in the world that bears no liability for injuries or deaths resulting from their products, are vaccine makers.


First established in 1986 with the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, and reinforced by the PREP Act, vaccine makers cannot be sued, even if they are shown to be negligent.


The covid-vaccine makers are allowed to create a one-size-fits-all product, with no testing on sub-populations (i.e. people with specific health conditions), and yet they are unwilling to accept any responsibility for any adverse events or deaths their products cause.


If a company is not willing to stand behind their product as safe, especially one they rushed to market and skipped animal trials on, I am not willing to take a chance on their product.


No liability. No trust.


Here’s why…


#2: THE CHECKERED PAST OF THE VACCINE COMPANIES


The four major companies who are making these covid vaccines are/have either:


  1. Never brought a vaccine to market before covid (Moderna and Johnson & Johnson).

  2. Are serial felons (Pfizer, and Astra Zeneca).

  3. Are both (Johnson & Johnson).


Moderna had been trying to “Modernize our RNA” (thus the company name)–for years, but had never successfully brought ANY product to market–how nice for them to get a major cash infusion from the government to keep trying.


In fact, all major vaccine makers (save Moderna) have paid out tens of billions of dollars in damages for other products they brought to market when they knew those products would cause injuries and death–see Vioxx, Bextra, Celebrex, Thalidomide, and Opioids as a few examples.


If drug companies willfully choose to put harmful products in the market, when they can be sued, why would we trust any product where they have NO liability?


In case it hasn’t sunk in, let me reiterate…3 of the 4 covid vaccine makers have been sued for products they brought to market even though they knew injuries and deaths would result.



Let me reiterate this point:


Given the free pass from liability, and the checkered past of these companies, why would we assume that all their vaccines are safe and made completely above board?


Where else in life would we trust someone with that kind of reputation?


To me that makes as much sense as expecting a remorseless, abusive, unfaithful lover to become a different person because a judge said deep down they are a good person.


No. I don’t trust them.


No liability. No trust.


Here’s another reason why I don’t trust them.


#3: THE UGLY HISTORY OF ATTEMPTS TO MAKE CORONAVIRUS VACCINES


There have been many attempts to make viral vaccines in the past that ended in utter failure, which is why we did not have a coronavirus vaccine in 2020.


In the 1960’s, scientists attempted to make an RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) vaccine for infants.


In that study, they skipped animal trials because they weren’t necessary back then.


In the end, the vaccinated infants got much sicker than the unvaccinated infants when exposed to the virus in nature, with 80% of the vaccinated infants requiring hospitalization, and two of them died.


After 2000, scientists made many attempts to create coronavirus vaccines.


For the past 20 years, all ended in failure because the animals in the clinical trials got very sick and many died, just like the children in the 1960’s.


You can read a summary of this history/science here.


Or if you want to read the individual studies you can check out these links:


  • In 2004 attempted vaccine produced hepatitis in ferrets

  • In 2005 mice and civets became sick and more susceptible to coronaviruses after being vaccinated

  • In 2012 the ferrets became sick and died. And in this study mice and ferrets developed lung disease.

  • In 2016 this study also produce lung disease in mice.


The typical pattern in the studies mentioned above is that the children and the animals produced beautiful antibody responses after being vaccinated.


The manufacturers thought they hit the jackpot.


The problem came when the children and animals were exposed to the wild version of the virus.


When that happened, an unexplained phenomenon called Antibody Dependent Enhancement (ADE) also known as Vaccine Enhanced Disease (VED) occurred where the immune system produced a “cytokine storm” (i.e. overwhelmingly attacked the body), and the children/animals died.


Here’s the lingering issue…


The vaccine makers have no data to suggest their rushed vaccines have overcome that problem.


In other words, never before has any attempt to make a coronavirus vaccine been successful, nor has the gene-therapy technology that is mRNA “vaccines” been safely brought to market, but hey, since they had billions of dollars in government funding, I’m sure they figured that out.


Except they don’t know if they have…


#4: THE “DATA GAPS” SUBMITTED TO THE FDA BY THE VACCINE MAKERS


When vaccine makers submitted their papers to the FDA for the Emergency Use Authorization (Note: An EUA is not the same as a full FDA approval), among the many “Data Gaps” they reported was that they have nothing in their trials to suggest they overcame that pesky problem of Vaccine Enhanced Disease.


They simply don’t know–i.e. they have no idea if the vaccines they’ve made will also produce the same cytokine storm (and deaths) as previous attempts at such products.


As Joseph Mercola points out…


Previous attempts to develop an mRNA-based drug using lipid nanoparticles failed and had to be abandoned because when the dose was too low, the drug had no effect, and when dosed too high, the drug became too toxic. An obvious question is: What has changed that now makes this technology safe enough for mass use?”



If that’s not alarming enough, here are other gaps in the data–i.e. there is no data to suggest safety or efficacy regarding:


  • Anyone younger than age 18 or older than age 55

  • Pregnant or lactating mothers

  • Auto-immune conditions

  • Immunocompromised individuals

  • No data on transmission of covid

  • No data on preventing mortality from covid

  • No data on duration of protection from covid


Hard to believe right?


In case you think I’m making this up, or want to see the actual documents sent to the FDA by Pfizer and Moderna for their Emergency Use Authorization, you can check out this, or this respectively. The data gaps can be found starting with page 46 and 48 respectively.


For now let’s turn our eyes to the raw data the vaccine makers used to submit for emergency use authorization.


#5: NO ACCESS TO THE RAW DATA FROM THE TRIALS


Would you like to see the raw data that produced the “90% and 95% effective” claims touted in the news?


Me too…


But they won’t let us see that data.


As pointed out in the BMJ, something about the Pfizer and Moderna efficacy claims smells really funny.


There were “3,410 total cases of suspected, but unconfirmed covid-19 in the overall study population, 1,594 occurred in the vaccine group vs. 1,816 in the placebo group.”


Wait…what?


Did they fail to do science in their scientific study by not verifying a major variable?


Could they not test those “suspected but unconfirmed” cases to find out if they had covid?


Apparently not.


Why not test all 3,410 participants for the sake of accuracy?


Can we only guess they didn’t test because it would mess up their “90-95% effective” claims?


Where’s the FDA?


Would it not be prudent for the FDA, to expect (demand) that the vaccine makers test people who have “covid-like symptoms,” and release their raw data so outside, third-parties could examine how the manufacturers justified the numbers?


I mean it’s only every citizen of the world we’re trying to get to take these experimental products…


Why did the FDA not require that? Isn’t that the entire purpose of the FDA anyway?


Good question.


Foxes guarding the hen house?


Seems like it.


No liability. No trust.


#6: NO LONG-TERM SAFETY TESTING


Obviously, with products that have only been on the market a few months, we have no long-term safety data.


In other words, we have no idea what this product will do in the body months or years from now–for ANY population.


Given all the risks above (risks that ALL pharmaceutical products have), would it not be prudent to wait to see if the worst-case scenarios have indeed been avoided?


Would it not make sense to want to fill those pesky “data gaps” before we try to give this to every man, woman, and child on the planet?


Well…that would make sense, but to have that data, they need to test it on people, which leads me to my next point…


#7: NO INFORMED CONSENT


What most who are taking the vaccine don’t know is that because these products are still in clinical trials, anyone who gets the shot is now part of the clinical trial.


They are part of the experiment.


Those (like me) who do not take it, are part of the control group.


Time will tell how this experiment works out.


But, you may be asking, if the vaccines are causing harm, wouldn’t we be seeing that all over the news?


Surely the FDA would step in and pause the distribution?


Well, if the adverse events reporting system was working, maybe things would be different.


#8: UNDER-REPORTING OF ADVERSE REACTIONS AND DEATH


According to a study done by Harvard (at the commission of our own government), less than 1% of all adverse reactions to vaccines are actually submitted to the National Vaccine Adverse Events Reports System (VAERS) – read page 6 at the link above.


While the problems with VAERS have not been fixed (as you can read about in this letter to the CDC), at the time of this writing VAERS reports over 2,200 deaths from the current covid vaccines, as well as close to 60,000 adverse reactions.


“VAERS data released today showed 50,861 reports of adverse events following COVID vaccines, including 2,249 deaths and 7,726 serious injuries between Dec. 14, 2020 and March 26, 2021.”


And those numbers don’t include (what is currently) 578 cases of Bell’s Palsy.


If those numbers are still only 1% of the total adverse reactions (or .8 to 2% of what this study published recently in the JAMA found), you can do the math, but that equates to somewhere around 110,000 to 220,000 deaths from the vaccines to date, and a ridiculous number of adverse reactions.


Bet you didn’t see that on the news.


That death number would currently still be lower than the 424,000 deaths from medical errors that happen every year (which you probably also don’t hear about), but we are not even six months into the rollout of these vaccines yet.


If you want a deeper dive into the problems with the VAERS reporting system, you can check this out, or check this out.


But then there’s my next point, which could be argued makes these covid vaccines seem pointless…


#9: THE VACCINES DO NOT STOP TRANSMISSION OR INFECTION


Wait, what?


Aren’t these vaccines supposed to be what we’ve been waiting for to “go back to normal”?


Nope.


Why do you think we’re getting all these conflicting messages about needing to practice social distancing and wear masks AFTER we get a vaccine?


The reason is because these vaccines were never designed to stop transmission OR infection.


If you don’t believe me, I refer you again to the papers submitted to the FDA I linked to above.


The primary endpoint (what the vaccines are meant to accomplish) is to lower your symptoms.


Sounds like just about every other drug on the market right?


That’s it…lowering your symptoms is the big payoff we’ve been waiting for.


Does that seem completely pointless to anyone but me?


  1. It can’t stop us from spreading the virus.

  2. It can’t stop the virus from infecting us once we have it.

  3. To get the vaccine is to accept all the risk of these experimental products and the best it might do is lower symptoms?


Heck, there are plenty of other things I can do to lower my symptoms that don’t involve taking what appears to be a really risky product.


Now for the next logical question:


If we’re worried about asymptomatic spreaders, would the vaccine not make it more likely that we are creating asymptomatic spread?


If it indeed reduces symptoms, anyone who gets it might not even know they are sick and thus they are more likely to spread the virus, right?


For what it’s worth, I’ve heard many people say the side effects of the vaccine (especially the second dose) are worse than catching covid.


I can’t make sense of that either.


Take the risk.


Get no protection.


Suffer through the vaccine side-effects.


Keep wearing your mask and social distancing…


And continue to be able to spread the virus.


What?


It gets worse.


#10: PEOPLE ARE CATCHING COVID AFTER BEING FULLY VACCINATED


Talk about a bummer.


You get vaccinated and you still catch covid.



In reality, this phenomenon is probably happening everywhere, but those are the ones making the news now.


Given the reasons above (and what’s below), maybe this doesn’t surprise you, but bummer if you thought the vaccine was a shield to keep you safe.


It’s not.


That was never the point.


If 66% of healthcare workers in L.A. are going to delay or skip the vaccine…maybe they aren’t wowed by the rushed science either.


Maybe they are watching the shady way deaths and cases are being reported…


#11: THE OVERALL DEATH RATE FROM COVID


According to the CDC’s own numbers, covid has a 99.74% survival rate.


Why would I take a risk on a product, that doesn’t stop infection or transmission, to help me overcome a cold that has a .26% chance of killing me–actually in my age range is has about a .1% chance of killing me (and .01% chance of killing my kids), but let’s not split hairs here.


With a bar (death rate) that low, we will be in lockdown every year…i.e. forever.


But wait, what about the 500,000 plus deaths, that’s alarming right?


I’m glad you asked.


#12: THE BLOATED COVID DEATH NUMBERS


Something smells really funny about this one.


Never before in the history of death certificates has our own government changed how deaths are reported.


Why now, are we reporting everyone who dies with covid in their body, as having died of covid, rather than the co-morbidities that actually took their life?


Until covid, all coronaviruses (common colds) were never listed as the primary cause of death when someone died of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, auto-immune conditions, or any other major co-morbidity.


The disease was listed as the cause of death, and a confounding factor like flu or pneumonia was listed on a separate line.


To bloat the number even more, both the W.H.O. and the C.D.C. changed their guidelines such that those who are suspected or probable (but were never confirmed) of having died of covid, are also included in the death numbers.


Seriously?


If we are going to do that then should we not go back and change the numbers of all past cold and flu seasons so we can compare apples to apples when it comes to death rates?


According to the CDCs own numbers, (scroll down to the section “Comorbidities and other conditions”) only 6% of the deaths being attributed to covid are instances where covid seems to be the only issue at hand.


In other words, reduce the death numbers you see on the news by 94% and you have what is likely the real numbers of deaths from just covid.


Even if the former CDC director is correct and covid-19 was a lab-enhanced virus (see Reason #14 below), a .26% death rate is still in line with the viral death rate that circles the planet ever year.


Then there’s this Fauci guy.


I’d really love to trust him, but besides the fact that he hasn’t treated one covid patient…you should probably know…


#13: FAUCI AND SIX OTHERS AT NIAID OWN PATENTS IN THE MODERNA VACCINE


Thanks to the Bayh-Dole Act, government workers are allowed to file patents on any research they do using tax payer funding.


Tony Fauci owns over 1,000 patents (see this video for more details), including patents being used on the Moderna vaccine…which he approved government funding for.


In fact, the NIH (which NIAID is part of) claims joint ownership of Moderna’s vaccine.


Does anyone else see this as a MAJOR conflict of interest, or criminal even?


I say criminal because there’s also this pesky problem that makes me even more distrustful of Fauci, NIAD, and the NIH in general.


#14: FAUCI IS ON THE HOT SEAT FOR ILLEGAL GAIN-OF-FUNCTION RESEARCH


What is “Gain-of-Function” research?


It’s where scientists attempt to make viruses gain functions–i.e. make them more transmissible and deadlier.


Sounds at least a touch unethical, right?


How could that possibly be helpful?


Our government agreed, and banned the practice.


So what did the Fauci-led NIAID do?


They pivoted and outsourced the gain-of-function research (in coronaviruses no less) to China–to the tune of a $600K grant.


You can see more details, including the important timeline of these events in this fantastically well-researched documentary.


Mr. Fauci, you have some explaining to do…and I hope the cameras are recording when you have to defend your actions.


For now, let’s turn our attention back to the virus…


#15: THE VIRUS CONTINUES TO MUTATE


Not only does the virus (like all viruses) continue to mutate, but according to world-renowned vaccine developer Geert Vanden Bossche (who you’ll meet below if you don’t know him) it’s mutating about every 10 hours.


How in the world are we going to keep creating vaccines to keep up with that level of mutation?


We’re not.


Might that also explain why fully vaccinated people are continuing to catch covid?


Why, given that natural immunity has never ultimately failed humanity, do we suddenly not trust it?


Why, if I ask questions like the above, or post links like what you find above, will my thoughts be deleted from all major social media platforms?


That brings me to the next troubling problem I have with these vaccines.


#16: CENSORSHIP…AND THE COMPLETE ABSENCE OF SCIENTIFIC DEBATE


I can’t help but get snarky here, so humor me.


How did you enjoy all those nationally and globally-televised, robust debates put on by public health officials, and broadcast simultaneously on every major news station?


Wasn’t it great hearing from the best minds in medicine, virology, epidemiology, economics, and vaccinology from all over the world as they vigorously and respectfully debated things like:


  • Lockdowns

  • Mask wearing

  • Social-distancing

  • Vaccine efficacy and safety trials

  • How to screen for susceptibility to vaccine injury

  • Therapeutics, (i.e. non-vaccine treatment options)


Wasn’t it great seeing public health officials (who never treated anyone with covid) have their “science” questioned?


Wasn’t it great seeing the FDA panel publicly grill the vaccine makers in prime time as they stood in the hot-seat of tough questions about products of which they have no liability?


Oh, wait…you didn’t see those debates?


No, you didn’t…because they never happened.


What happened instead was heavy-handed censorship of all but one narrative.


Ironically, Mark Zuckerberg can question vaccine safety, but I can’t?


Hypocrite?


When did the first amendment become a suggestion?


It’s the FIRST amendment Mark–the one our founders thought was most important.


With so much at stake, why are we fed only one narrative…shouldn’t many perspectives be heard and professionally debated?


WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO SCIENCE?


What has happened to the scientific method of always challenging our assumptions?


What happened to lively debate in this country, or at least in Western society?


Why did anyone who disagrees with the WHO, or the CDC get censored so heavily?


Is the science of public health a religion now, or is science supposed to be about debate?


If someone says “the science is settled” that’s how I know I’m dealing with someone who is closed minded.


By definition science (especially biological science) is never settled.


If it was, it would be dogma, not science.


OK, before I get too worked up, let me say this…


I WANT TO BE A GOOD CITIZEN


I really do.


If lockdowns work, I want to do my part and stay home.


If masks work, I want to wear them.


If social distancing is effective, I want to comply.


But, if there is evidence they don’t (masks for example), I want to hear that evidence too.


If highly-credentialed scientists have different opinions, I want to know what they think.


I want a chance to hear their arguments and make up my own mind.


I don’t think I’m the smartest person in the world, but I think I can think.


Maybe I’m weird, but if someone is censored, then I REALLY want to hear what they think.


Don’t you?


To all my friends who don’t have a problem with censorship, will you have the same opinion when what you think is censored?


Is censorship not the technique of dictators, tyrants, and greedy, power-hungry people?


Is it not a sign that those who are doing the censoring know it’s the only way they can win?


What if a man who spent his entire life developing vaccines was willing to put his entire reputation on the line and call on all global leaders to immediately stop the covid vaccines because of problems with the science?


What if he pleaded for an open-scientific debate on a global stage?


Would you want to hear what he has to say?


Would you want to see the debate he’s asking for?


#17: THE WORLD’S LEADING VACCINOLOGIST IS SOUNDING THE ALARM…


Here is what may be the biggest reason this covid vaccine doesn’t make sense to me.


When someone who is very pro-vaccine, who has spent his entire professional career overseeing the development of vaccines, is shouting from the mountaintops that we have a major problem, I think the man should be heard.


In case you missed it, and in case you care to watch it, here is Geert Vanden Bossche, explaining:


  1. Why the covid vaccine may be putting so much pressure on the virus that we are accelerating it’s ability to mutate and become more deadly.

  2. Why the covid vaccines may be creating vaccine-resistant viruses (similar to anti-biotic resistant bacteria).

  3. Why, because of previous problems with Antibody Dependent Enhancement, we may be looking at a mass casualty event in the next few months/years.



If you want to see/read about a second, and longer, interview with Vanden Bossche, where he was asked some tough questions, you can check this out.


If half of what he says comes true, these vaccines could be the worst invention of all time.


If you don’t like his science, take it up with him.


I’m just the messenger.


But I can also speak to covid personally.


#18: I ALREADY HAD COVID


I didn’t enjoy it.


It was a nasty cold for two days:


  • Unrelenting butt/low-back aches

  • Very low energy.

  • Low-grade fever.


It was weird not being able to smell anything for a couple days.


A week later, coffee still tasted a little “off.”


But I survived.


Now it appears (as it always has) that I have beautiful, natural, life-long immunity


…not something likely to wear off in a few months if I get the vaccine.


In my body, and my household, covid is over.


In fact, now that I’ve had it, there is evidence the covid vaccine might actually be more dangerous for me.


That is not a risk I’m willing to take.


IN SUMMARY


The above are just my reasons for not wanting the vaccine.


Maybe my reasons make sense to you, maybe they don’t.


Whatever does makes sense to you, hopefully we can still be friends.


I for one think there’s a lot more that we have in common than what separates us.


  • We all want to live in a world of freedom.

  • We all want to do our part to help others and to live well.

  • We all want the right to express our opinions without fearing we’ll be censored or viciously attacked.

  • We all deserve to have the access to the facts so we can make informed decisions.


Agree or disagree with me; I’ll treat you no differently.


You’re a human just as worthy of love and respect as anyone else.


For that I salute you, and I truly wish you all the best.


I hope you found this helpful.


If so, feel free to share.


If not, feel free to (kindly) let me know what didn’t make sense to you and I’d be happy to hear your thoughts too.


Stay curious and stay humble.


 

 

 

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Apr 022021
 
 April 2, 2021  Posted by at 8:44 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  90 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Vue de Notre-Dame de Paris 1945

 

Why Are ‘Experts’ Disagreeing With Each Other Over Covid Vaccine? (Ron Paul)
CDC Real-World Study Confirms Protective Benefits of mRNA Vaccines (CDC)
Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t (NYT)
Quadruple Therapy With Ivermectin Is Effective In Treating COVID-19 (Hindu)
Texas COVID-Positivity-Rate Drops To Record Low After Mask-Mandate Lifted (ZH)
Fewer Than 1 In 5 Britons With Symptoms Gets Tested, Only 2 In 5 Isolate (RT)
Almost Third Of UK Covid Hospital Patients Readmitted Within 4 Months (G.)
GOP Rep. Greene Introduces Bill To Cut Fauci’s $400,000 Salary To Zero (JTN)
Kremlin Responds To Anger Over Ukraine Border Build-Up (ZH)
We‘ll Talk To NATO ‘But Not Just About Ukraine’ – Lavrov (RT)
Analyst Pleads To Leaking Secrets About Drone Program (AP)
The Empire State Building Falls into the Suez Canal (Stoller)
Massive DNA Damage Caused By CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing (GMW)
New Digital Archive Preserves and Protects Indigenous Folk Medicine (Smiths.)

 

 

Reopening
https://twitter.com/i/status/1377756996083011592

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Deaths in Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), since its start in 1990. 2021 is off the charts.”

 

 

Ron Paul is a Doctor of Medicine. Will he be censored too?

Why Are ‘Experts’ Disagreeing With Each Other Over Covid Vaccine? (Ron Paul)

Even the establishment experts seem to be in total disagreement with each other – and often with themselves – over the experimental Covid “vaccine.” Does it prevent the illness? Lessen the illness? Provide lasting immunity? Temporary immunity? Is it safe for all? So many questions, but so few reliable answers.

Read more …

Pfizer’s sales team.

CDC Real-World Study Confirms Protective Benefits of mRNA Vaccines (CDC)

A new CDC study provides strong evidence that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections in real-world conditions among health care personnel, first responders, and other essential workers. These groups are more likely than the general population to be exposed to the virus because of their occupations. The study looked at the effectiveness of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections among 3,950 study participants in six states over a 13-week period from December 14, 2020 to March 13, 2021. Results showed that following the second dose of vaccine (the recommended number of doses), risk of infection was reduced by 90 percent two or more weeks after vaccination.

Following a single dose of either vaccine, the participants’ risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 was reduced by 80 percent two or more weeks after vaccination. It takes about two weeks following each dose of vaccine for the body to produce antibodies that protect against infection. As a result, people are considered “partially vaccinated” two weeks after their first dose of mRNA vaccine and “fully vaccinated” two weeks after their second dose. These new vaccine effectiveness findings are consistent with those from Phase 3 clinical trials conducted with the vaccines before they received Emergency Use Authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration. Those clinical trials evaluated vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 disease, while this study evaluated vaccine effectiveness against infection, including infections that did not result in symptoms.

“This study shows that our national vaccination efforts are working. The authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines provided early, substantial real-world protection against infection for our nation’s health care personnel, first responders, and other frontline essential workers,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “These findings should offer hope to the millions of Americans receiving COVID-19 vaccines each day and to those who will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated in the weeks ahead. The authorized vaccines are the key tool that will help bring an end to this devastating pandemic.”

Read more …

PCR history.

From New York Times Jan. 22, 2007

Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t (NYT)

Dr. Brooke Herndon, an internist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, could not stop coughing. For two weeks starting in mid-April last year, she coughed, seemingly nonstop, followed by another week when she coughed sporadically, annoying, she said, everyone who worked with her.Before long, Dr. Kathryn Kirkland, an infectious disease specialist at Dartmouth, had a chilling thought: Could she be seeing the start of a whooping cough epidemic? By late April, other health care workers at the hospital were coughing, and severe, intractable coughing is a whooping cough hallmark. And if it was whooping cough, the epidemic had to be contained immediately because the disease could be deadly to babies in the hospital and could lead to pneumonia in the frail and vulnerable adult patients there. It was the start of a bizarre episode at the medical center: the story of the epidemic that wasn’t.

[..] For months, nearly everyone involved thought the medical center had had a huge whooping cough outbreak, with extensive ramifications. Nearly 1,000 health care workers at the hospital in Lebanon, N.H., were given a preliminary test and furloughed from work until their results were in; 142 people, including Dr. Herndon, were told they appeared to have the disease; and thousands were given antibiotics and a vaccine for protection. Hospital beds were taken out of commission, including some in intensive care. Then, about eight months later, health care workers were dumbfounded to receive an e-mail message from the hospital administration informing them that the whole thing was a false alarm. Not a single case of whooping cough was confirmed with the definitive test, growing the bacterium, Bordetella pertussis, in the laboratory. Instead, it appears the health care workers probably were afflicted with ordinary respiratory diseases like the common cold.

[..] “You’re in a little bit of no man’s land,” with the new molecular tests, said Dr. Mark Perkins, an infectious disease specialist and chief scientific officer at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, a nonprofit foundation supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “All bets are off on exact performance.” Of course, that leads to the question of why rely on them at all. “At face value, obviously they shouldn’t be doing it,” Dr. Perl said. But, she said, often when answers are needed and an organism like the pertussis bacterium is finicky and hard to grow in a laboratory, “you don’t have great options.” Waiting to see if the bacteria grow can take weeks, but the quick molecular test can be wrong. “It’s almost like you’re trying to pick the least of two evils,” Dr. Perl said.

At Dartmouth the decision was to use a test, P.C.R., for polymerase chain reaction. It is a molecular test that, until recently, was confined to molecular biology laboratories. “That’s kind of what’s happening,” said Dr. Kathryn Edwards, an infectious disease specialist and professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University. “That’s the reality out there. We are trying to figure out how to use methods that have been the purview of bench scientists. The Dartmouth whooping cough story shows what can ensue.

Read more …

From September 2020.

Quadruple Therapy With Ivermectin Is Effective In Treating COVID-19 (Hindu)

Elaborating on the effective methods being followed for treating COVID-19 across the globe, Shashikanth Manikappa, a specialist cardiac anaesthetist working at Monash Health in Melbourne, Australia, has strongly advised what he termed Quadruple Therapy involving four medicines — Ivermectin, Doxycycline, Zinc and Vitamin D3 — as a preventive as well as treating method. Addressing a media conference in Kalaburagi on Monday, the senior doctor said that the use of Ivermectin would be more effective than that of Hydroxychloroquine which was widely being used worldwide, right from the outbreak of the pandemic.

Referring to a pre-official release of a randomised controlled trial using Ivermectin in three doses in primary contacts of COVID-19, Dr. Manikappa said that 93 % of primary contacts who received Ivermectin did not develop any symptoms and 58 % of primary contacts who did not receive Ivermectin did progress to have symptoms of the pandemic. “Quadruple Therapy includes Ivermectin 12 mg one dose, Doxycycline 100 mg once a day for four days, Zinc 50 mg once a day for four days and Vitamin D3 once a week. Ivermectin, Doxycycline and Zinc are to be repeated every 14 days and Vitamin D3 every week with blood levels monitored. The synergistic effect of these medicine acts to prevent viral multiplication and also stop the virus from entering human cells.

Thomas Borody, an Australian gastroenterologist who is known for curing peptic ulcers with triple antibiotic therapy, has revealed that one block in South America that received Ivermectin combination prophylaxis did not contract coronavirus infection while others did,” he said. On the side effects, Dr. Manikappa said that Ivermectin was being used in 3.7 billion people for intestinal parasites and was found to be safe. “These are not new medicine. They are already in use for treating different ailments and are found to be safe. They can be prescribed by any doctor to control the pandemic,” he said.

Read more …

“The 4.95 percent test positivity rate is the lowest the state has seen since the start of the pandemic.”

Texas COVID-Positivity-Rate Drops To Record Low After Mask-Mandate Lifted (ZH)

For the better part of the past year, the US public was bombarded with “science” how only the wearing of a mask (or two masks, or three masks or more) was the only thing that stood between the Western way of life and Armageddon (despite the periodic emergence of cold, hard data showing no improvement in covid transmission in states that mandated masks vs those that did not, at least until Twitter decided to ban it). Then, one month ago, Texas had had enough and its governor shocked the Faucis of the world – and the White House – when he declared that the mask mandate in the state was officially over. What happened then? Well, in a development that would likely shock Dr. Fauci, newly confirmed Coronavirus cases in Texas plunged to their lowest since June, roughly three weeks after the state lifted its mask mandate and reopened businesses.

Additionally, the 7-day Covid positivity rate dropped to a new recorded low: 4.95%…

Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote in a tweet over the weekend. “Everyone now qualifies for a shot. They are highly recommended to prevent getting Covid but always voluntary.” The 4.95 percent test positivity rate is the lowest the state has seen since the start of the pandemic. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, some 1,900 new virus cases were reported on Sunday, which is the lowest daily number the state has seen since early June. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the seven-day moving average number of cases in Texas dropped to the lowest level since mid-June. According to the CDC, Texas was averaging 3,783 daily cases as of March 27.

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National Health Service’s Test and Trace program costs £37 billion over two years.

Fewer Than 1 In 5 Britons With Symptoms Gets Tested, Only 2 In 5 Isolate (RT)

Only half of Britons know the main symptoms of Covid-19, and most don’t get tested or self-isolate, a new study has shown, raising questions about the UK’s Test and Trace system and placing emergence from the pandemic at risk The large study, exploring the effectiveness of the National Health Service’s Test and Trace program, was published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday. Designed to identify, find and test those who have coronavirus, it has been allocated a massive budget of £37 billion over two years. Researchers at King’s College London, University College London and Public Health England looked at aggregated data from some 37 national online surveys, encompassing more than 75,000 responses from nearly 54,000 people living in the UK.

Only some 51.5% of those surveyed managed to properly identify the symptoms of Covid-19 – which include a cough, high temperature, fever, and loss of sense of smell or taste – that have been “actively promoted to members of the UK public,” the study reads. Moreover, the willingness to get tested should any of those symptoms be experienced turned out to be extremely low, with only 18% of those who reported suffering such symptoms having requested a test to confirm whether they had coronavirus. Such low figures call into question the effectiveness of the whole Test and Trace system, the researchers said, while acknowledging a slight improvement in people’s willingness to follow the rules over time.

With such low rates for symptom recognition, testing, and full self-isolation, the effectiveness of the current form of the UK’s test, trace, and isolate system is limited. Only 43% of respondents said they had adhered to self-isolation. The need to go to work or to leave the house to shop or attend to medical needs other than Covid-19 were among the most common excuses given for breaking the rules. Young people, those on a low income and/or from a working-class background were identified as the ones most likely to break the rules. The researchers suggested targeted messaging and increased financial support as methods by which to improve adherence.

Read more …

“..far from a benign illness..”

Almost Third Of UK Covid Hospital Patients Readmitted Within 4 Months (G.)

Nearly a third of people who have been in hospital suffering from Covid-19 are readmitted for further treatment within four months of being discharged, and one in eight of patients dies in the same period, doctors have found. The striking long-term impact of the disease has prompted doctors to call for ongoing tests and monitoring of former coronavirus patients to detect early signs of organ damage and other complications caused by the virus. While Covid is widely known to cause serious respiratory problems, the virus can also infect and damage other organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys. Researchers at University College London, the Office for National Statistics, and the University of Leicester, compared medical records of nearly 48,000 people who had had hospital treatment for Covid and had been discharged by 31 August 2020, with records from a matched control group of people in the general population.


The records were used to track rates of readmission, of deaths, and of diagnoses for a range of respiratory, heart, kidney, liver and metabolic diseases, such as diabetes. After an average follow-up time of 140 days, nearly a third of the Covid patients who had been discharged from hospital had been readmitted and about one in eight had died, rates considerably higher than seen in the control group. “This is a concern and we need to take it seriously,” said Dr Amitava Banerjee, at the Institute of Health Informatics at University College London. “We show conclusively here that this is very far from a benign illness. We need to monitor post-Covid patients so we can pick up organ impairment early on.”

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Ha ha ha!

GOP Rep. Greene Introduces Bill To Cut Fauci’s $400,000 Salary To Zero (JTN)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Thursday said she is introducing a bill to strip Dr. Anthony Fauci of his government salary. In a press release Greene posted on Twitter, the controversial Georgia Republican said her “Fire Fauci Act” would decrease “Dr. Always Wrong’s pay to $0 and the ‘We Will Not Comply Act’ will ‘prevent discrimination against the unvaccinated.’ ” Greene said the Fire Fauci Act will: • Remind the American public that Dr. Fauci is the highest paid ($434,312) of all 4 million federal employees, including the president. • Cite numerous findings about Dr. Fauci’s evolving and contradictory advice on COVID-19. • Reduce Dr. Fauci’s salary to $0 until a new NIAID administrator is confirmed by the Senate. • Direct the Government Accounting Office to conduct a study about the correspondence, financials, and policy memos inside the NIAID before COVID through the end of this year. This will allow us to see what Fauci and the NIAID knew, when they knew it, what they spent money on, and how the agency responded to the virus.


The bill has little if any chance of passage in the Democrat-controlled House. Fauci has made several seemingly contradictory statements during the pandemic about the virus and related health-safety measures – including one on mask wearing. The annual salary for Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, makes him “the highest paid doctor in the federal government and the highest paid out of all 4 million federal employees,” Forbes reported. In fact, Fauci’s salary is more than the president of the United States’ annual $400,000 pay.

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Who do YOU think is the agressor here?

Kremlin Responds To Anger Over Ukraine Border Build-Up (ZH)

Various reports strongly suggest that over the past week there’s been a significant uptick in shelling and fighting in the war-torn Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. This has served to thrust the over 5-year long crisis back in the media spotlight in the past days, particularly after the US Army ( via US European Command, or EUCOM) raised its Europe threat level to its highest of “potential imminent crisis”. At the same time The New York Times and others are detailing the escalation while alleging ‘Russian aggression’ is fueling the fresh flare-up, which has signaled the collapse of yet another cease-fire. And more alarmingly the reports allege a major build-up of Russian troops and tanks along Ukraine’s eastern border. But even as the NY Times report mused, it’s also likely that the estimated 4,000 regular Russian soldiers there were simply left over from recent scheduled military exercises common during this time of year.


The Kremlin has responded to the slew of reports on Thursday, underscoring that given the troops remain entirely within Russia’s national boundaries, it’s essentially ‘nobody’s business’ where they go. “The Russian Federation transfers the Armed Forces on its soil as it wants to. This should not concern anyone and this is not posing any threat to anyone,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized. Moscow is taking “all the necessary measures to ensure security of its frontiers,” he stressed according to TASS. Peskov added that: “As for the participation of Russian troops in the armed conflict on Ukraine’s soil, the Russian troops have never taken part in it and are not participating now.” He further said: “And we, the European countries and all world states would not like the civil war in Ukraine as a result of provocations and provocative steps by Ukraine’s military to flare up again.”

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“we do not refuse to work, we just don’t want to sit there and hear about Ukraine.”

We‘ll Talk To NATO ‘But Not Just About Ukraine’ – Lavrov (RT)

Moscow has rejected claims that it is unwilling to participate in talks with NATO, arguing instead that it would be eager to hold a summit, but only if it sticks to topics that are actually within the US-led military bloc’s remit. Last week, the faction’s General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, claimed that a breakdown in communication was the fault of one side alone. “Since the summer of 2019, there have been no meetings of the NATO-Russia Council,” he said. “And that’s because Russia has not responded positively to our invitation to convene the Council.” “I regret that, because I think that dialogue is important, especially when times are difficult as they are now, then it is important that we sit down, discuss also difficult issues,” Stoltenberg added.

“I believe in dialogue with Russia partly to strive for a better relationship with [that country].” However, on Wednesday, Moscow hit back at the remarks, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arguing that his country was not opposed to talks with the bloc. “Our colleague Mr Stoltenberg declares that Russia refuses to work in the Russia-NATO Council,” Lavrov said, insisting that “we do not refuse to work, we just don’t want to sit there and hear about Ukraine.” “NATO has nothing to do with Ukraine,” the Minister said, “and yet when they offer to convene the Russia-NATO Council, they always insist that the first question should be about Ukraine. We sat down a couple of times, listened, we all know this.

Therefore, we have proposed to restore contacts between our militaries in order to save complex agreements that we have previously signed.” In February, Stoltenberg said that the ball was in Moscow’s court when it comes to relations with the bloc. “We need to send a clear signal to Russia,” he said. “If they want clashes, we are ready. If they want to co-operate, we will be glad.”

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“Damn, @theintercept got yet another whistleblower pinched. It’s almost like Omidyar is running a sting operation there.”

Analyst Pleads To Leaking Secrets About Drone Program (AP)

A former Air Force intelligence analyst pleaded guilty Wednesday to leaking classified documents to a reporter about military drone strikes against al-Qaida and other terrorist targets. The guilty plea from Daniel Hale, 33, of Nashville, Tennessee, comes just days before he was slated to go on trial in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, for violating the World War I-era Espionage Act. Hale admitted leaking roughly a dozen secret and top-secret documents to a reporter in 2014 and 2015, when he was working for a contractor as an analyst at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). While court papers never specified the recipient of the leak, details about the case make it clear that the documents were given to Jeremy Scahill, a reporter at The Intercept, who used the documents as part of a series of critical reports on how the military conducted drone strikes on foreign targets.


He faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for July 13. The original indictment against Hale states that he reached out to the reporter in April 2013 while still enlisted in the Air Force and assigned to the National Security Agency. The leaks continued after Hale became a private contractor and was assigned to NGA. Hale’s lawyers sought unsuccessfully last year to have the case tossed on First Amendment grounds. They also argued that the case was a selective and vindictive prosecution. Defense lawyers said that while Hale was being punished for leaking information about negative aspects of the drone program, the government seemed unconcerned about anonymous leaks by government officials about successful strikes.

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“And frankly, we should have seen this coming, because a lot of people have been noticing supply chain fragility, even if Thomas Friedman didn’t.”

The Empire State Building Falls into the Suez Canal (Stoller)

Over the last few decades, ships have gotten really really big, four times the size of what they were 25 years ago, what the FT calls “too big to sail.’ The argument behind making such massive boats was efficiency, since you can carry more at a lower cost. The downside of such mega-ships should have been obvious. Ships like this, which are in effect floating islands, are really hard to steer in tight spaces like ports and canals, and if they get stuck, they are difficult to unstick. In other words, the super smart wizard financiers who run global trade made ships that don’t fit in the canals they need to fit into. The rise of mega-ships is paralleled by the consolidation of the shipping industry itself. In 2000, the ten biggest shipping companies had a 12% market share, by 2019 that share had increased to 82%.

This understates the consolidation, because there are alliances among these shippers. The stuck ship is being run by the Taiwanese shipping conglomerate Evergreen, which bought Italian shipping firm Italia Marittima in 1998 and London-based Hatsu in 2002, and is itself part of the OCEAN alliance, which has more than a third of global shipping. Making ships massive, and combining such massive ships into massive shipping monopolies, is a bad way to run global commerce. We’ve already seen significant problems from big shipping lines helping to transmit financial shocks into trade shocks, such as when Korean shipper Hanjin went under and stranded $14 billion of cargo on the ocean while in bankruptcy. It’s also much harder for small producers and retailers to get shipping space, because large shippers want to deal with large clients.

And fewer ports can handle these mega-ships, so such ships induce geographical inequality. Increasingly, we’re not moving ships between cities, we’re moving cities to where the small number of giant shipping lines find it efficient to ship. Dumb big ships owned by monopolies are the result of dumb big ideas, the physical manifestation of what Thomas Friedman was pushing in the 1990s and 2000s with books such as The Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat, the idea that “taking fat out of the system at every joint” was leading towards a more prosperous, peaceful and competitive world. Friedman’s was a finance-friendly perspective, a belief that making us all interdependent with a very thin margin of error would force global cooperation.

Just make ships bigger, went the thinking, until a big boat got stuck in a canal, taking down global supply chains with it. It seems so dumb. And it is. But it’s also reality, because for whatever reason, a lot of powerful people at one point thought Thomas Friedman was a genius. And frankly, we should have seen this coming, because a lot of people have been noticing supply chain fragility, even if Thomas Friedman didn’t.

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Bigger than God.

Massive DNA Damage Caused By CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing (GMW)

New research from Chinese scientists shows that CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing causes massive damage to the genome, much of which would have been missed by the analytical tools used so far. In a previous study, the same authors described a novel DNA sequencing procedure, which they called a “primer-extension-mediated sequencing assay” or PEM-seq. By applying this procedure, they found that DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) brought about by the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing tool could lead to unintended chromosomal translocations and large deletions. In their latest follow-up report, the researchers describe a new computer program, which enabled them to analyse the PEM-seq data to greater depth than previous programs had allowed.

They used this program to analyse real sequence data from their own new experiments, as well as previous ones, following CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in mouse and human cells. In gene editing, while the initial double-strand break made by the DNA “scissors” or gene-editing tool can be targeted to a given location, the subsequent DNA repair that makes the “edit” is performed by the cell’s own repair mechanisms and is not controllable or precise. The researchers analysed the outcomes of the gene edit – and found what they call “tremendous deleterious DSB repair byproducts of CRISPR/Cas9 editing”. The unintended outcomes or genetic errors ranged from unintended small insertions or deletions (indels) to large deletions, plasmid (gene-editing tool delivery vehicle) integrations, and chromosomal translocations.

The researchers wrote, “Our findings provide an extra dimension for genome editing safety besides off-targets” – the well documented unintentional DNA damage at locations of the genome that were not targeted for editing. They added, “Caution should be exercised to avoid not only off-target damages but also deleterious DSB repair byproducts during genome editing.” Worryingly, these unintended deleterious outcomes of gene editing were not overcome even when a high-fidelity CRISPR/Cas tool was used. Furthermore, when components of the DNA repair machinery were inhibited in an attempt to force a specific gene sequence modification outcome (known as SDN-2), this resulted in large deletions, large insertions, and DNA cuts around the start site of genes.

Read more …

Smithsonian. The Archive of Healing lists traditional remedies, procedures and practices from all seven continents.

New Digital Archive Preserves and Protects Indigenous Folk Medicine (Smiths.)

For thousands of years, people around the world have relied on medicinal folklore, herbal treatments and rituals to heal an array of ailments. Now, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have created an online platform featuring hundreds of thousands of these traditional therapies. Spanning seven continents and 200 years, the Archive of Healing draws on such sources as anthropologists’ field notes, scholarly journals, oral histories and folktales. “The whole goal here is to democratize what we think of as healing and knowledge about healing, and take it across cultures in a way that’s respectful and gives attention to intellectual property rights,” says David Shorter, director of the digital archive, in a statement.

As Valentina Di Liscia reports for Hyperallergic, the database is one of the most inclusive catalogues of medicinal folklore in the world. A key goal of the project is preserving Indigenous treatments while ensuring that this knowledge is protected against exploitation by pharmaceutical companies seeking to make a profit. To that end, certain identifying details for plants and recipes are omitted from the archive. Western medicine has, historically, overlooked herbal remedies used by women and Indigenous peoples. As folk herbalist Sade Musa explained for Healthline in 2019, many traditional treatments were passed down orally and, as a result, overlooked in favor of written documentation.

“[C]olonialism built a medical industrial complex through often violent means of cultural suppression, erasure, and exploitation,” noted Heathline. “The rise of the patriarchy also authorized only white male physicians to practice and define medicine for the world.” Former faculty member Wayland Hand launched the UCLA database more than 40 years ago. In 1996, folklorist Michael Owen Jones began digitizing the collection of more than one million notecards—then known as the Archive of Traditional Medicine—after receiving a grant. Speaking with Jeyling Chou of the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s independent student newspaper, in 2005, Jones said, “Folk medicine [includes] the beliefs and practices that we learn and teach in our first-hand interactions with one another in our everyday lives.” He added, “It’s not institutional medicine, it’s not medicine that requires a license.”

Read more …

 

 

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How Earth will look in 250 million years according to plate tectonics theory

 

 

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Mar 302021
 


Edouard Manet Jeanne Duval, Baudelaire’s Mistress, Reclining (Lady with a Fan) 1862

 

Ron DeSantis Vows To Ban Vaccine Passports (Fed.)
UK Now Considering Digital Face-Scanning To Enter Pubs (SN)
CDC Director Chokes Back Tears As She Fearmongers “Impending Doom” (ZH)
Texas COVID Cases Drop to Record Low 3 Weeks After Mask Mandate Lifted (NW)
Dr. Fauci Warns Parents About Children Playing Together Without Masks (NYP)
Canada Suspends Use Of AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine For Those Under 55 (AP)
New Covid Vaccines Needed Globally Within A Year, Say Scientists (G.)
Ivermectin Prophylaxis Leads To 73% Reduction In Covid Infection (NIE)
Global Treaty Needed To Protect States From Pandemics, Say World Leaders (G.)
Dear Joe Scarborough, Let’s Debate Your Network’s Russiagate Coverage (Taibbi)
Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Play Victim When Called Out (Greenwald)
Do You Believe in Magic? (Kunstler)
The Eurozone Weakness: Much More Than Covid (Lacalle)
Financial Capitalism: The Endgame (Ren.)

 

 

 

 

There is a move in Washington towards saying it’s the private sector that wants vaccine passports. “It’s just the markets at work”.

That way the government won’t be blamed, or so they hope. Coming soon to a country near you.

This promises to turn into an epic fight for rights and freedoms.

Ron DeSantis Vows To Ban Vaccine Passports (Fed.)

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis denounced so-called “vaccine passports” in a Monday press conference — a policy currently being tested in New York State and one the Biden administration is reportedly developing, according to The Washington Post. Vaccine passports are digital credentials, a way of proving the carrier has received a COVID-19 immunization before frequenting a venue or traveling. DeSantis said he would take “an executive function” and “emergency function” and urged the state Republican legislature to propose legislation banning vaccine passports. “We always said we wanted to provide [the vaccine] for all but mandate it for none,” DeSantis said.

“While it was advised to take, particularly if you’re vulnerable, we were not going to force you to do it. It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply participate in normal society.” The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Biden administration is working with Big Tech to develop vaccine passport technology. Five administration officials told the media outlet that coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients is leading the operation. In January, 30 international airlines penned a letter to Zients urging the U.S. to implement vaccine passports for all citizens for travel. This followed an executive order by Biden instructing government agencies “to assess the feasibility” of COVID-19 documentation requirements.

[..] The Florida governor said in the press conference that by sometime this week the state will have administered the vaccine to 75 percent of seniors, or 3.5 million individuals. “You want the fox to guard the henhouse? I mean, give me a break,” DeSantis said. “I think this is something that has huge privacy implications. It is not necessary to do. It’s important to be able to do it [get the vaccine], but at the same time, we are not going to have you provide proof of this just to be able to live your life normally.”

Read more …

No other country has as many surveillance camera’s as Britain. Let’s add some more.

UK Now Considering Digital Face-Scanning To Enter Pubs (SN)

The UK government is funding companies that are producing technology which will utilize digital face scans to check people’s vaccination status and allow or block them from entering pubs, stadiums and other venues. “Britons could have their faces scanned to allow them to access pubs, gigs and sports events under one government-funded plan being drawn up for vaccine passports,” reports the London Times. Two companies – Mvine and iProov – are working together on the system after being given a £75,000 grant by the government having already worked with the NHS on facial recognition technology in the form of the contact tracing app.

The technology is being proposed as a solution to concerns that presenting vaccination status via an app on a phone will be too slow when multiple people are entering a busy venue. “Whoever is standing on the door of the pub is going to have to scan the certificate, read the name and date of birth, then ask the person for an ID document, check that the name and date of birth on the ID document are the same, squint at the photograph on the ID document and then make sure that the person in front of them is that person,” iProov CEO Andrew Bud said. “To which the answer is, that’s not going to happen.” Bud said that the facial recognition system would reduce this process to a matter of seconds, streamlining the system.

“It speeds the process up and it absolves people of what would otherwise be a very heavy responsibility,” he added. After months of promising that there would be no domestic vaccine passport, every indication is now that the government is going ahead with it. Millions of Brits will refuse to submit to digital face scans to go about their everyday business, but the vast majority are likely to accept it without question, creating a two tier society where those who resist the biosecurity surveillance state will remain in a de facto permanent state of lockdown.

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Some states are not doing well, but overall, does that graph justify panic?

CDC Director Chokes Back Tears As She Fearmongers “Impending Doom” (ZH)

In a stunningly emotional outburst during this morning’s COVID-19 Response press conference, new CDC Director Rochelle Walensky went “off-script” (though if one watches here eyes it appears she is very much reading a script) to warn the public about her “impending doom” following a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations. The seven-day average of hospital admissions with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 increased in 25 states plus the nation’s capital and Puerto Rico last week, compared with same period a week earlier, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data through Saturday.


The most dramatic surge has come in Michigan, with admissions up 50%, to an average of 379 a day. The next-worst momentum was in South Dakota, where daily admissions rose by 40% to an average of 28. “I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Walensky said, appearing to hold back tears. “We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge.” “Right now, I’m scared,” Walesky exclaimed. Here is what Walensky is freaking out about… (could that simply be a rise in testing around Spring Break as responsible Americans check their health before traveling? Or is it remnants of the vaccines being picked up by the RT-PCR tests being run at 35 Ct?)


Source: Bloomberg

Of course, Fauci knows why: “I think the reason we’re seeing this plateauing and the increase that I hope doesn’t turn into a surge is because we are really doing things prematurely right now with regard to opening up.” Walensky implored Americans to mask up, socially distance, etc., etc. as she is worried about a new wave “if rules are lifted” too soon… “I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer,”

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Others states do very well. Wonder why.

Texas COVID Cases Drop to Record Low 3 Weeks After Mask Mandate Lifted (NW)

Coronavirus cases have dropped to a record low in Texas roughly three weeks after the state lifted its mask mandate and reopened businesses. “Today the 7-day Covid positivity rate dropped to a new recorded low: 4.95%. Hospitalizations dropped to a 6 month low. This week we have 1 million 1st vaccines available,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote in a tweet on Sunday. “Everyone now qualifies for a shot. They are highly recommended to prevent getting Covid but always voluntary.” The 4.95 percent test positivity rate is the lowest the state has seen since the start of the pandemic. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, at least 1,900 new virus cases were reported on Sunday, which is the lowest daily number the state has seen since early June.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the seven-day moving average number of cases in Texas dropped to the lowest level since mid-June. According to the CDC, Texas was averaging 3,783 daily cases as of March 27. Abbott’s tweet also notes that hospitalizations dropped to their lowest number in the past six months. According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), 3,104 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals across the state as of Saturday. Data shows that the state has not recorded a number this low since September 19, when there were 3,081 hospitalizations. As of Monday, Texas has reported more than 2.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 47,156 deaths.

Biden Mask Up

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Fauci on masks. Oh well.

Dr. Fauci Warns Parents About Children Playing Together Without Masks (NYP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday warned that vaccinated parents still need to worry about their children becoming infected while playing with other kids. “The children can clearly wind up getting infected,” Fauci told CBS anchor Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” when asked about the risk of kids playing in groups. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that while adults inoculated against COVID-19 don’t always have to wear masks around each other, children — who are not yet eligible for the jab — should wear them around each other.


“When the children go out into the community, you want them to continue to wear masks when they’re interacting with groups or multiple households,” he said. But when asked whether kids can return to camp or playgrounds this summer, Fauci said it was “conceivable that will be possible.” “We now have 3 to 3.5 million vaccinations each day. If we keep up with that pace, invariably, that’s going to drive the rate and the level of infections per day to a much, much lower level,” Fauci said, adding that lower infection rates will enable the country to have a “good degree of flexibility during the summer … with things like camps.”

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“..the fatality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40%..”

Canada Suspends Use Of AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine For Those Under 55 (AP)

Canada on Monday suspended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people under 55 following concerns it might be linked to rare blood clots. The pause was recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization for safety reasons. The Canadian provinces, which administer health in the country, announced the suspension on Monday. “There is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to adults under 55 given the potential risks,” said Dr Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. Deeks said the updated recommendations came amid new data from Europe that suggests the risk of blood clots is now potentially as high as one in 100,000, much higher than the one in one million risk believed before.


She said most of the patients in Europe who developed a rare blood clot after vaccination with AstraZeneca were women under age 55, and the fatality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40%. Dr Joss Reimer of Manitoba’s vaccine implementation taskforce said despite the finding that there was no increase risk of blood clots overall related to AstraZeneca in Europe, a rare but very serious side-effect has been seen primarily in young women in Europe. Reimer said the rare type of blood clot typically happens between four and 20 days after getting the shot and the symptoms can mirror a stroke or a heart attack. “While we still believe the benefits for all ages outweigh the risks I’m not comfortable with ‘probably’. I want to see more data coming out of Europe so I know exactly what this risk-benefit analysis is,” Reimer said.

Read more …

How about ivermectin?

New Covid Vaccines Needed Globally Within A Year, Say Scientists (G.)

The planet could have a year or less before first-generation Covid-19 vaccines are ineffective and modified formulations are needed, according to a survey of epidemiologists, virologists and infectious disease specialists. Scientists have long stressed that a global vaccination effort is needed to satisfactorily neutralise the threat of Covid-19. This is due to the threat of variations of the virus – some more transmissible, deadly and less susceptible to vaccines – that are emerging and percolating. The grim forecast of a year or less comes from two-thirds of respondents, according to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of organisations including Amnesty International, Oxfam, and UNAIDS, who carried out the survey of 77 scientists from 28 countries. Nearly one-third of the respondents indicated that the time-frame was likely nine months or less.

Persistent low vaccine coverage in many countries would make it more likely for vaccine-resistant mutations to appear, said 88% of the respondents, who work across illustrious institutions such as Johns Hopkins, Yale, Imperial College, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Edinburgh. “New mutations arise every day. Sometimes they find a niche that makes them more fit than their predecessors. These lucky variants could transmit more efficiently and potentially evade immune responses to previous strains,” said Gregg Gonsalves, associate professor of epidemiology at Yale University, in a statement. “Unless we vaccinate the world, we leave the playing field open to more and more mutations, which could churn out variants that could evade our current vaccines and require booster shots to deal with them.”

The current crop of vaccines that have received emergency authorisations in different parts of the world is a mix of old and fresh technologies. Of particular interest is the mRNA approach, employed by the companies Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which can be tweaked at speed (within weeks or months) to accommodate new variants – however, manufacturing hiccups are always a potential problem. But crucially, they are unlikely within reach of poorer countries, given that this set of vaccines are far more expensive and have comparatively onerous temperature storage requirements.

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I read the WHO is due to announce its guidance on the use of Ivermectin for Covid. This from India dates from November 2020.

Ivermectin Prophylaxis Leads To 73% Reduction In Covid Infection (NIE)

In a significant finding, two-dose Ivermectin prophylaxis has led to 73 per cent reduction in COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers (HCWs), who are more likely to contract the virus given their nature of job. The findings of the study conducted by AIIMS-Bhubaneswar between September 20 and October 19 is set to give a new dimension to the ongoing research on the behaviour of SARS-CoV2 and prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Ivermectin is one among several potential drugs explored for its therapeutic and preventive role in COVID-19 infection. The study conducted by 12 physicians of AIIMS-BBSR aimed at exploring the association between Ivermectin prophylaxis and development of COVID-19 infection.

The study was conducted on two sets of HCWs. While one set was administered with two doses of Ivermectin in a gap of 72 hours, the other took other prophylaxis. Corresponding author of the study and AIIMS Director Gitanjali Batmanabane said two-dose Ivermectin prophylaxis at a dose of 300 micro gram per one kg body weight with a gap of 72 hours was associated with 73 pc reduction of COVID-19 infection among the HCWs. AIIMS-BBSR has around 4,600 employees of which, over 625 have so far tested positive for novel coronavirus. As many as 372 including doctors, nurses, paramedics and sanitisation workers were considered for the month-long study. The list was prepared by the contact tracing team of the institute as per their exposure to COVID-19, based on WHO risk assessment guidelines.

“Earlier, at least 20 to 25 HCWs were getting infected with the virus daily. After the workers started taking Ivermectin, the number of infection has come down to one or two per day,” Dr Batmanabane said. As per ICMR guidelines, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), vitamin C and other interventions were used by HCWs of AIIMS from April 11 in addition to the appropriate use PPE depending on the place they were posted. However, the uptake was not encouraging on account of known side-effect as large numbers of HCWs were getting infected. “Considering the fact that Ivermectin had been shown to have diverse mechanisms by which it successfully attacks the SARS-CoV-2, we decided to use it. The Ivermectin has a proven safety profile as a safe drug which has been used for many decades. The encouraging results of a study from Egypt prompted us to explore its role as prophylaxis for HCWs,” she said.

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All these “leaders” have failed for an entire year, despite often draconian measures, to stop the pandemic. Now they want more power.

Global Treaty Needed To Protect States From Pandemics, Say World Leaders (G.)

The world needs a global treaty for pandemics to protect states in the wake of Covid-19, akin to the settlement forged after the second world war, Boris Johnson and other world leaders have urged. In a joint article published in newspapers across the world, leaders including the UK prime minister, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, warn that a future global pandemic is an inevitability and that Covid has served as “a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe”. Escalating international tensions over vaccine supplies have led to calls for countries to abandon isolationism and nationalism, and come together to make way for a new era founded on principles like solidarity and cooperation.

The call comes from 24 world leaders, alongside the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and will appear in newspapers including the Telegraph in the UK, Le Monde in France and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany. The leaders describe the pandemic as “the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s” and said that a settlement like the one formed after 1945 is needed to build cross-border cooperation before the next international health crisis. In the joint article, they say: “At that time, following the devastation of two world wars, political leaders came together to forge the multilateral system. The aims were clear: to bring countries together, to dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism, and to address the challenges that could only be achieved together in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, namely peace, prosperity, health and security.”

A treaty on pandemics “should lead to more mutual accountability and shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation within the international system and with its rules and norms”, the leaders go on.

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Death, taxes and RussiaRussia.

Dear Joe Scarborough, Let’s Debate Your Network’s Russiagate Coverage (Taibbi)

Joe begins his rant by insinuating that those who’ve spent time documenting errors on the Russiagate story are maybe on “Russia’s payroll,” which is nothing new for this network, of course, or frankly for the press in general during this time. Implying that anyone who didn’t buy into the moral panic on Russia was a traitor was a fairly constant theme in media and politics in the last four years, with NBC’s smear of Tulsi Gabbard as a “favorite” of “Russia’s propaganda machine” being one of the ethical low points of the era. Why should Joe Scarborough be above the same tactics? The exact quote: “I’m amused by so-called reporters who — I don’t know if they’re useful idiots for Russia, or if they’re on Russia’s payroll … but there are some gifted writers who spend all night and day, trying to dig through, looking for instances where the press screwed up on Russia stories.”


He went on to say that yes, there were instances of mistakes, and some bad mistakes, but “more often than not,” the press got it right. Perhaps this could be a new slogan for the network: “MSNBC. We get it right. More often than not.” The full quote: “If you look at the totality of it, the totality of everything — I mean, yeah, the media screwed up at some points, and sometimes they screwed up badly… But more often than not, they got it right.” Obviously, I won’t presume that he’s talking about me when he mentions “some gifted writers” who may or may not be foreign spies, criticizing networks like his. He could be referring to Aaron Mate, or Glenn Greenwald, perhaps even Erik Wemple of the Washington Post, whose critique of Scarborough’s colleague Rachel Maddow’s Russia coverage was scathing enough.

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Judge and jury.

Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Play Victim When Called Out (Greenwald)

The daily newspaper USA Today is the second-most circulated print newspaper in the United States — more than The New York Times and more than double The Washington Post. Only The Wall Street Journal has higher circulation numbers. On Sunday, the paper published and heavily promoted a repellent article complaining that “defendants accused in the Capitol riot Jan. 6 crowdfund their legal fees online, using popular payment processors and an expanding network of fundraising platforms, despite a crackdown by tech companies.” It provided a road map for snitching on how these private citizens — who are charged with serious felonies by the U.S. Justice Department but as of yet convicted of nothing — are engaged in “a game of cat-and-mouse as they spring from one fundraising tool to another” in order to avoid bans on their ability to raise desperately needed funds to pay their criminal lawyers to mount a vigorous defense.

In other words, the only purpose of the article — headlined: “Insurrection fundraiser: Capitol riot extremists, Trump supporters raise money for lawyer bills online” — was to pressure and shame tech companies to do more to block these criminal defendants from being able to raise funds for their legal fees, and to tattle to tech companies by showing them what techniques these indigent defendants are using to raise money online. The USA Today reporters went far beyond merely reporting how this fundraising was being conducted. They went so far as to tattle to PayPal and other funding sites on two of those defendants, Joe Biggs and Dominic Pezzola, and then boasted of their success in having their accounts terminated: ”

“As of Wednesday afternoon, the Biggs fundraiser was listed as having received $52,201. Pezzola had received $730. Biggs’ campaign disappeared from the site shortly after USA TODAY inquired about it…. Friday, a USA TODAY reporter donated to Pezzola’s fundraiser using Stripe. Stripe told USA TODAY it does not comment on individual users. A USA TODAY reporter was able to make a $1 donation to Pezzola’s fundraiser using Venmo, a payment app owned by PayPal. After being alerted by USA TODAY, Venmo removed the account. Soon a PayPal account took its place. PayPal caught that and removed it, too.”

Wow, what brave and intrepid journalistic work: speaking truth to power and standing up to major power centers by . . . working as little police officers for tech giants to prevent private citizens from being able to afford criminal lawyers. Clear the shelves for the imminent Pulitzer.

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“..whatever energy you actually can marshal to Build Back Better, save it for your town or your local community. ..”

Do You Believe in Magic? (Kunstler)

UBI is the primary feature of that because, in a command economy, production is mostly pretend, so you just have to give people money (for nothing). Remember the old basic operating system of the Soviet Union, stated succinctly as: We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us. Got that? The idea behind “Build Back Better” is to renovate the infrastructure of a hyper-tech economy that actually no longer exists because we are in the contraction phase of an historic pulsation or cycle, leaving us with lots of tech and less production, tending toward zero. Nobody flogging this slogan actually knows what it ought to mean under the circumstances, which is to go with the flow of the reality of this contraction: to downsize, downscale, and re-localize all our activities to bring them back into sync with actual productivity — that is, raising food, making real stuff, and trading it.

Again, it’s the energy dynamic, stupid. To get to that point, we’re going to shed the massive over-burden of financial game-playing that has pretended to represent our economy. That means stock valuations and bond prices will vaporize along with the derivative activities concocted for trading gainfully in these now-phantom representations of capital. If that happens sooner rather than later, we won’t even be able to pretend to Build Back Better the interstate highways, the electric grid, airports, and all the other stuff in the “infrastructure” folder. Indeed, a lot of that would be malinvestment folly now because we’re nearing the end of mass motoring and commercial aviation as we’ve known them.

If we even have electricity twenty-five years from now, it will come from much-reduced grids on a much more regional basis. The bottom line for all this is that pretty soon every corner of the country will be on its own amid quite a bit of social disorder and financial wreckage. So, whatever energy you actually can marshal to Build Back Better, save it for your town or your local community. And remember, all of the attempts by a national government to control these events, and coerce its citizens in the service of that, will only lead to a more ineffectual and impotent national government that nobody has faith in, confirming the fact that you are on your own.

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“..the European Central Bank increasing its balance sheet to 63% of the eurozone GDP vs the Fed at 36%..”

The Eurozone Weakness: Much More Than Covid (Lacalle)

The eurozone’s economic problem do not come from just a slow vaccination, but overly aggressive lockdowns. Between October and November, Europe’s leading economies decided to shut down the economy aggressively to prevent an increase in cases. Despite France’s extremely severe lockdown, one of the most aggressive in the world, daily new confirmed cases per 100 people went from 250 cases at the beginning of October to 522 as of March 26th. Daily new cases rose rapidly and fell in the month of November but have risen steadily since January. In Italy, new cases went from 70 in October to 369 by March 26th. In Germany, from 117 to 179 in the same period. In all of them, daily new cases have steadily risen since bottoming in January even with severe lockdowns.

Shutting down the economy for prolonged periods of time generates long-term side effects in jobs and growth that will likely hurt the recovery and create important social challenges. We cannot forget that the eurozone still had an unemployment rate of 8.3% and more than seven million furloughed jobs at the end of February. Massive stimulus plans have been implemented, with the European Central Bank increasing its balance sheet to 63% of the eurozone GDP vs the Fed at 36%, and money supply growing at a 12% annualized rate in the euro area. Fiscal stimulus is also enormous, with fiscal impulse and liquidity measures ranging between 10% (Spain) to 50% of GDP (Germany) in the main economies.


It is important to note that it is not just how much is spent, but where and when. A significant part of the fiscal stimulus in Spain, France, Italy, and Germany has been targeted at maintaining current government spending, and the measures to support businesses have only been decisive in Germany and France. However, large, and decisive measures to support businesses may fail as prolonged lockdowns lead to an insolvency crisis and inevitably a relevant part of those support mechanisms will zombify the economy, especially as this was an important risk that already existed in the eurozone before Covid-19, according to the Bank of International Settlements.

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“..lots of people earned a lot of money and a lot of people can’t afford living anymore.”

“We’re at the end game because it’s the final bubble. We’ve got the government bond bubble and there won’t be another bubble afterwards.”

Financial Capitalism: The Endgame (Ren.)

In 2008, we had the opportunity, collectively, to reboot a broken financial system so it became fit for purpose. But instead of reconfiguring finance to serve the real economy politicians and central bankers used quantitative easing to buy time which lulled the mainstream media into reporting that everything was back on track. Some people haven’t bought that story. Marc Friederich and Matthias Weik are two economists who didn’t succumb to groupthink after the 2008 crash and now see financial capitalism’s end game. Friedrich explained to Renegade Inc. that the authors’ intention is to help translate the complexity of a financial system by inverting it into a language that everybody understands. Having studied economics, and as children of the dot com bubble, the authors of four best-selling books in Germany, stress the important role sarcasm and dark humour play in their work in respect to making seemingly complex matters accessible to the wider public.

According to Weik, the aim behind mainstream economists’ use of convoluted language is to create a camouflage in order to prevent them from having to explain what their terminology means. “It’s like the language of law spoken in secret phrases whose purpose is to garner public trust”, said Friedrich. But what mainstream economists and politicians haven’t explained is the structural nature of a crisis that hasn’t been remedied since the 2008 crash. Instead, the metaphorical can has been kicked down the road. “We’re at the end game because it’s the final bubble. We’ve got the government bond bubble and there won’t be another bubble afterwards. It will burst because last time China and all the states rescued the world. They won’t save us anymore. We used cheap money like a drug. We just put more and more drugs into the system”, said Weik.

“Economists and politicians have learnt nothing in the last decade, rather they have merely bought time. The banks who created the last financial crisis continue to be the big winners”, says Friedrich. The losers are the working class and underclass who were encouraged to borrow recklessly. And yet it is these latter groups who the American and British press blame for the crisis. According to Friedrich, the catalyst for the crisis was low-interest rates and too much cheap money. “They tried to solve it with even lower interest rates and much more money. The debts have doubled since 2008”, said the economist. In Friedrich’s view, the Fed, ECB and other central banks will try to print more money “like they always do.” “We will definitely see negative interest rates….Since 2008 debts worldwide doubled for private people and for companies even three times more debts than 2008. So this is the final bubble. And the central banks create one bubble after the next one to keep the whole thing running. That’s it.”

“And we all know the patient is dead but nobody is ready to unplug the life support. The aim is to keep the system alive for as long as possible.” Weik added: “Over the past two years real estate prices exploded, the share prices exploded, lots of people earned a lot of money and a lot of people can’t afford living anymore.”

Read more …

 

 

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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.

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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Mar 272021
 


Wynn Bullock Child on a Forest Road 1958

 

The Emergency State (Whitehead)
Supreme Court Judge: Covid Restrictions To Last For 10 Years (SN)
Risk of Asymptomatic Spread Minimal. Variants Over-Hyped – Bhattacharya (LDS)
Nation’s First ‘Vaccine Passport’ Coming To New York (NYP)
Former CDC Director Says COVID-19 Escaped From Wuhan Lab (ZH)
Fauci Rejects Ex-CDC director’s Claim That COVID-19 Came From Wuhan Lab (NYP)
Fauci Slammed For Denying The US Is Approaching Herd Immunity (DM)
“Where Am I Here?” (Kunstler)
Hunter Biden Texts Shoot Down Secret Service Denial Over Gun Incident (NYP)
Hunter Biden and Family Join President On Weekend Away (DM)
Fast Food Giant Claims Credit For Killing $15 Minimum Wage (DP)
The Top 10 Percent Through The Ages (AEA)
Suez Canal Crisis: Here Are The Cargoes In The Crossfire (Miller)
The Death of Humor (Matt Taibbi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No government willingly relinquishes power. If we continue down this road, there can be no surprise about what awaits us at the end.”

The Emergency State (Whitehead)

The seeds of this present madness were sown several decades ago when George W. Bush stealthily issued two presidential directives that granted the president the power to unilaterally declare a national emergency, which is loosely defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions. Comprising the country’s Continuity of Government (COG) plan, these directives, which do not need congressional approval, provide a skeletal outline of the actions the president will take in the event of a “national emergency.”

Mind you, that national emergency can take any form, can be manipulated for any purpose, and can be used to justify any end goal—all on the say so of the president. Just what sort of actions the president will take once he declares a national emergency can barely be discerned from the barebones directives. However, one thing is clear: in the event of a national emergency, the COG directives give unchecked executive, legislative and judicial power to the executive branch and its unelected minions. The country would then be subjected to martial law by default, and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would be suspended. The emergency state is now out in the open for all to see. Unfortunately, “we the people” refuse to see what’s before us.

This is how freedom dies. We erect our own prison walls, and as our rights dwindle away, we forge our own chains of servitude to the police state. Be warned, however: once you surrender your freedoms to the government—no matter how compelling the reason might be for doing so—you can never get them back. No government willingly relinquishes power. If we continue down this road, there can be no surprise about what awaits us at the end.

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“..scientists skeptical of lockdown policies have been “subjected to an extraordinarily unpleasant campaign of personal abuse”

Supreme Court Judge: Covid Restrictions To Last For 10 Years (SN)

British former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption has warned that “social controls” brought about by the coronavirus pandemic may be kept in place by governments for up to a decade. “It’s politically unrealistic to expect the Government to backtrack now,” commented Sumption, who has been highly critical of the government’s ‘totalitarian’ lockdown policies. The judge compared the reaction to rationing after the Second World War, which went on for nine years, adding that this time “I think it may be even longer.” “An interesting parallel is the continuation of wartime food rationing after the last war. People were in favour of that because they were in favour of social control,” he said during a ‘Sketch notes on’ podcast.

“In the 1951 general election, the Labour party lost its majority entirely because people with five years more experience of social control got fed up with it. Sooner or later that will happen in this country,” he added. Sumption’s warning comes in the wake of Public Health England officials stating that restrictions will remain in place for as long as other countries have not vaccinated everyone, a process likely to take years. England’s chief medical officer also recently asserted that the pandemic restrictions, which have been in place on and off for a year, have “improved life” for some people. Despite promising an end to restrictions in June, the UK government yesterday extended emergency COVID laws until October, with Health minister Matt Hancock refusing to say how long they will remain in place after that.

Lord Sumption also noted during the podcast that scientists skeptical of lockdown policies have been “subjected to an extraordinarily unpleasant campaign of personal abuse”. “I know a lot of people that would prefer not to put their head above the parapet,” He continued, adding “From the very moment I started to make these points I began to get emails from politicians who agreed with what I had to say but that they themselves didn’t dare to speak out. That I think is a very serious state of affairs.” The judge also argued that governments are using the virus politically, noting “They have consistently tried to maintain that the virus is indiscriminate when it is perfectly well-established that it primarily affects people with identifiable vulnerabilities, particularly in the elderly.”

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Professor Jay Bhattacharya is one of the co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration.

Risk of Asymptomatic Spread Minimal. Variants Over-Hyped – Bhattacharya (LDS)

Why have the media, politicians and many scientists sought to panic the populace about SARS-CoV-2 far beyond what the evidence would warrant? The incentives include financial motives, political goals, the desire to protect professional reputations and many other factors. The virus is seasonal and late fall/winter is its season. It is very unlikely, given that this is the case, that the virus will spread very widely during the summer months. It is also the case that a large fraction of the UK population has already been infected or vaccinated and is immune, which will greatly reduce hospitalisation and mortality from the virus in coming months. There are tens of thousands of mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They mutate because the replication mechanisms they induce involve very little error checking. Most of the mutations either do not change the virulence of the virus, or weaken it.

There are a few mutations that provide the virus with a selective advantage in infectivity and may increase its lethality very slightly, though the evidence on this latter point is not solid. We should not be particularly concerned about the variants that have arisen to date. First, prior infection with the wild type virus and vaccination provide protection against severe outcomes arising from reinfection with the mutated virus. Second, though the mutants have taken over the few remaining cases, their rise has coincided with a sharp drop in cases and deaths, even in countries where they have come to dominate. Their selective infectivity advantage has not been enough to cause a resurgence in cases. Third, the age gradient in mortality is the same for the mutant and wild-type virus. Thus a focused protection policy is still warranted. If lockdowns could not stop the less infectious wild type virus, why would we expect them to stop the more infectious mutant virus?

[..] “The scientific evidence now strongly suggests that COVID-19 infected individuals who are asymptomatic are more than an order of magnitude less likely to spread the disease to even close contacts than symptomatic COVID-19 patients. A meta-analysis of 54 studies from around the world found that within households – where none of the safeguards that restaurants are required to apply are typically applied – symptomatic patients passed on the disease to household members in 18 per cent of instances, while asymptomatic patients passed on the disease to household members in 0.7 per cent of instances. A separate, smaller meta-analysis similarly found that asymptomatic patients are much less likely to infect others than symptomatic patients.

Asymptomatic individuals are an order of magnitude less likely to infect others than symptomatic individuals, even in intimate settings such as people living in the same household where people are much less likely to follow social distancing and masking practices that they follow outside the household. Spread of the disease in less intimate settings by asymptomatic individuals – including religious services, in-person restaurant visits, gyms, and other public settings – are likely to be even less likely than in the household.

The evidence that mask mandates work to slow the spread of the disease is very weak. The only randomised evaluation of mask efficacy in preventing Covid infection found very small, statistically insignificant effects [Danish mask study]. And masks are deleterious to the social and educational development of children, especially young children. They are not needed to address the epidemic. In Sweden, for instance, children have been in school maskless almost the whole of the epidemic, with no child Covid deaths and teachers contracting Covid at rates that are lower than the average of other workers.”

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“An individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times.”

Nation’s First ‘Vaccine Passport’ Coming To New York (NYP)

The nation’s very first “vaccine passport” is coming to the Big Apple. The program, dubbed the “Excelsior Pass,” is an app that will allow New Yorkers to prove their vaccination status, or recent history of a negative COVID-19 test, in order to gain entry to events and businesses, Governor Cuomo announced in a news release Friday. “Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app,” the news release explains. “Each Pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination. An individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times.”

The app won’t show any health information when scanned — it’ll only show a green checkmark if the person has been vaccinated or tested negatively or a red “x” if they haven’t. Major venues, such as Madison Square Garden and the Times Union Center in Albany, will begin using the app next week and on April 2, Excelsior Pass will expand to “smaller arts, entertainment and event venues,” Cuomo’s office said. The app, which launched Friday, already works to prove vaccination status or negative test results and can be used to gain access to wedding receptions, which now require negative tests from attendees, and other events above the social gathering limit.

“New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back COVID, and the innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The question of ‘public health or the economy’ has always been a false choice — the answer must be both. As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening.”

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“It’s only an opinion; I’m allowed to have opinions now,” he added.”

Former CDC Director Says COVID-19 Escaped From Wuhan Lab (ZH)

Former CDC Director Robert Redfield says that SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, did not originate from a wet market in Wuhan, China, and instead escaped from a nearby lab which was performing gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses to make them more easily infect humans. “I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human,” Redfield told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta in an interview set to air Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET. “Normally, when a pathogen goes from a zoonot to human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more & more efficient in human to human transmission.” “It’s only an opinion; I’m allowed to have opinions now,” he added.

When asked how he believes the lab was working to make the virus infect humans more efficiently, he said “Let’s just say, I have a coronavirus, and I’m working on it — most of us in the lab are trying to grow virus. We try to make it grow better and better and better and better, so we can do experiments and figure out about it. That’s the way I put it together.” Redfield, a virologist picked by former President Trump to lead the Centers for Disease Control, said he believes that the pandemic began as a localized outbreak in Wuhan in September or October of 2019, earlier than the official timeline, and that it spread to every province in China over the ensuing months.

“And while the rest of the world was told the only initial Covid-19 cases in China had originated from a wet market in Wuhan, Redfield is confident the evidence suggests that was simply not the case. According to Redfield, even his counterpart at the China CDC, Dr. George Gao, was initially left in the dark about the magnitude of the problem until early January. He described a private phone call he had with Gao in early January 2020, when Gao became distraught and started crying after finding “a lot of cases” among individuals who had not been to the wet market. Gao, Redfield says, “came to the conclusion that the cat was out of the bag.” The initial mortality rates in China were somewhere between “5-10%,” Redfield told me. “I’d probably be cryin’ too,” he added. …The United States wasn’t formally notified of the “mysterious cluster of pneumonia patients” until December 31, 2019. Those were critical weeks and months that countries around the world could’ve been preparing. -Dr. Sanjay Gupta via CNN

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“Fauci’s organization sent $7.4 million taxpayer dollars to the Wuhan lab for research including “gain of function” research.”

“In 2019, with the backing of NIAID, the National Institutes of Health committed $3.7 million over six years for research that included some gain-of-function work. The program followed another $3.7 million, 5-year project for collecting and studying bat coronaviruses, which ended in 2019, bringing the total to $7.4 million.”

Fauci Rejects Ex-CDC director’s Claim That COVID-19 Came From Wuhan Lab (NYP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday blew off claims from former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Chinese lab, saying Redfield was merely expressing an “opinion.” During the White House coronavirus briefing, Fauci said the virus that causes COVID-19 was likely already spreading in China weeks before it was detected — which helped it become more contagious. “The alternative explanation … is that this virus was actually circulating in China, likely in Wuhan, for a month or more before they were clinically recognized at the end of December 2019,” Fauci explained. “If that were the case, the virus clearly could’ve adapted itself to a greater efficiency of transmissibility over that period of time up to and at the time it was recognized.”


In a new interview out Friday, Redfield — who oversaw the CDC at the peak of the deadly global pandemic — said it was his “opinion” as a top virologist that SARS-CoV-2 “escaped” from the laboratory in Wuhan. The highly contagious bug is widely accepted to have originated in animals before it adapted to humans. But Redfield said if that were the case, “it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human-to-human transmission.” “I just don’t think this makes biological sense,” he added. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, reiterated Redfield’s comments that he was just expressing an opinion. “So Dr. Redfield was mentioning that he was giving an opinion to a possibility,” Fauci said, “but again, there are other alternatives, others that most people hold by.”

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‘I don’t think it’s healthy for a small group of people to be making all the public health recommendations. It’s good to have multiple voices..’

Fauci Slammed For Denying The US Is Approaching Herd Immunity (DM)

A Johns Hopkins professor has slammed Dr. Anthony Fauci for denying that the United States is approaching herd immunity amid the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Marty Makary, who is also a Fox News contributor, told Brian Kilmeade on Thursday that ‘it’s not healthy for a small group of people’ to be making all the health decisions for Americans. ‘I don’t think it’s healthy for a small group of people to be making all the public health recommendations. It’s good to have multiple voices,’ Makary said. He claims that the low rate of reinfections and high percentages of people showing antibodies indicate that the United States is approaching herd immunity through both vaccinations and natural immunity, which he claims Fauci has ignored.

There have been more than 133 million vaccines administered in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Thursday, there have been 30,076,486 total infections with 546,507 deaths from COVID-19. The Johns Hopkins professor slammed Fauci’s track record throughout the pandemic and for initially missing the mark on how the virus is transmitted, the effectiveness of masks and mitigation. ‘His job is to prepare us for a pandemic and tell us how to manage it. He mostly missed the pandemic for the two months prior, never prepared us, was wrong on masks,’ Makary said. ‘We should have known that but the aerosolized transmission because Sars-CoV-2 behaves like Sars-CoV-1. That was aerosolized droplets as well. He was around for that.’

During the segment, Makary explained why he believed Americans have already started to reach herd immunity. ‘After you get the infection, your body develops antibodies. These are the same antibodies the vaccine is trying to trigger and create,’ Makary said. ‘When you have circulating antibodies, that means have you protection from the infection.’ The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this month that about 38% of Californians had antibodies against the coronavirus, according to figures presented during a virtual meeting hosted by the California Medical Association. During the webinar, researchers said that 45% of people in Los Angeles have these antibodies. The Bay Area and greater Sacramento region each recorded 32% of the population with COVID-19 antibodies.

Makary pointed to this data as evidence that Americans are approaching herd immunity. ‘That’s why infections are down 95% in Los Angeles over the last 10 weeks, their positivity rate is down to 1.6% right now,’ Makary said.

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“As Mr. Biden would say, anyway… I’ve gone on too long about that….”

“Where Am I Here?” (Kunstler)

I don’t know about you, but I was thrilled to hear Joe Biden tell America — with a faraway gleam in those ol’ blue Konstantin Chernenko eyes — that he’s expecting to run for a second term. The prospect must engross him, so effervescent was his campaign of 2020! Like all presidents, he’s learning on-the-job, but he’s already lapping Franklin Roosevelt in the hundred-day dash of executive action, showing those wicked CCP envoys who’s boss (why, they are, of course), and turning the depraved white supremacist state of Texas into a vibrant Honduras del Norte. As Mr. Biden would say, anyway… I’ve gone on too long about that….

Meanwhile, from offstage you could hear the crunch of his handlers chewing their Xanax, knowing that the game was a brain-fart away from disaster. Well, he only wandered away from the podium one time, and he dutifully followed the script. In fact, the script was right there in his hand the entire white-knuckle hour of this debut press conference, and he often appeared to be reading straight off the page. I’m sure he was making a funny when he said he came to the Senate 120 years ago. (Remember the battle over Wm. H Taft’s nomination to be Territorial Governor of the Philippines? And how, in the hearings, then-freshman Senator Ol’ Joe B produced three New Haven doxies who testified about Taft’s “abnormal appetites” during the nominee’s years at Yale?)

Traditionally, presidential press conferences are opportunities to inform the nation where things stand, and to send signals to the other nations (“friend and foe alike” as JFK used to say) about America’s intentions, especially in the nuclear age, with the world so nervously on edge. What did Americans learn from Mr. Biden’s debut? Mainly that an old dog can do some old tricks, follow a script, play the politician, fill a suit, run his mouth, and go through the motions — fulfilling people’s cynical expectation that some trip is being laid on them. Foreign observers will probably note that the executive branch is being run by a politburo more secretive even than the old gang who ran the USSR. No one in this country seems to notice.

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Does this have legs?

Hunter Biden Texts Shoot Down Secret Service Denial Over Gun Incident (NYP)

Hunter Biden sent a text message that said the Secret Service responded after his handgun disappeared in 2018 — contradicting the agency’s assertion that it wasn’t involved, The Post has learned. In a lengthy message sent the following year, President Biden’s son described the situation in detail, saying his former sister-in-law-turned-lover, Hallie Biden, tossed the firearm into a trash bin outside Janssen’s Market, a gourmet grocery store in Wilmington, Del. “She stole the gun out of my trunk lock box and threw it in a garbage can full to the top at Jansens [sic]. Then told me it was my problem to deal with,” Hunter wrote.

“Then when the police the FBI the secret service came on the scene she said she took it from me because she was scared I would harm myself due to my drug and alcohol problem and our volatile relationship and that she was afraid for the kids.” The Jan. 29, 2019, message adds: “Really not joking the cop kept me convinced that Hallie was implying she was scared of me.” In another message, sent closer to the incident, Hunter described the handgun as “my 38.” “Took from lock box of truck and put it IN PapER BAG AND Threw it in trash can at local high end grocer. For no reason,” he wrote on Dec. 6, 2018.

“And I freaked when I saw it was missing 10 minutes after she took it and when she went back to get it after I scared the s–t out of her it was gone which led to state police investigation of me. True story.” Both messages are contained on a hard drive obtained by The Post that holds the contents of a damaged laptop computer that was left at Wilmington repair shop by Hunter in April 2019 and never retrieved.

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Well, look who just popped up. There are no coincidences here. Is it a deflection from the gun story?

Hunter Biden and Family Join President On Weekend Away (DM)

Hunter Biden and his family joined President Joe Biden on Friday as he flew to his home in Delaware for the fourth weekend since taking office. The 51-year-old, his wife Melissa, and their baby son Beau were seen leaving the White House Friday afternoon as they traveled to Wilmington with his father. Hunter held his 12-month-old son in his arms with Melissa close behind him before boarding Marine One from the South Lawn. The Bidens flew to the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland where they then traveled to Wilmington on Air Force One. When Biden landed in Wilmington he spoke to reporters there and was asked about having Baby Beau on board. ‘It’s really great,’ the doting grandfather replied. The family getaway comes just two weeks after the White House press corps criticized the president for his frequent trips home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Press secretary Jen Psaki later defended the commander-in-chief saying: ‘The president lives in Wilmington. It’s his home. That’s where he’s lived for many, many years. ‘And as you know, as any president of the United States does, he takes a private airplane called Air Force One to travel there.’ Hunter was also reported to have been splitting his time between California and Delaware before moving into a family home in Venice earlier this year. The president’s embattled son made headlines once again this week after it was reported the Secret Service tried to intervene in a 2018 police investigation involving Hunter and his then-girlfriend, his brother’s widow Hallie. A report published by Politico revealed Hallie threw a gun she’d found in his car into a grocery store trash can because she thought he was going to kill himself with it.

No one in the Biden family was entitled to Secret Service protection at the time but Politico cites unnamed sources who say that agents from the Secret Service offices in Wilmington and Philadelphia kept an ‘informal’ role in protecting them after Joe left office as Vice President in 2017.

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Nah, the entire honor goes to Slo’ Joe.

Fast Food Giant Claims Credit For Killing $15 Minimum Wage (DP)

The parent company of some of America’s largest fast food chains is claiming credit for convincing Congress to exclude a $15 minimum wage from the recent COVID relief bill, according to internal company documents reviewed by The Daily Poster. The company, which is owned by a private equity firm named after an Ayn Rand character, also says it is now working to thwart new union rights legislation. The company’s boasts come just a few months after a government report found that some of its chains had among the highest percentage of workers relying on food stamps. Inspire Brands — which owns Jimmy Johns, Arby’s, Sonic, and Buffalo Wild Wings, plus recently acquired Dunkin’ Donuts for $11.3 billion in November — on Thursday sent employees and franchisees a review of its government lobbying activity that highlighted its success in keeping the $15 minimum wage out of Democrats’ American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 relief bill President Joe Biden signed earlier this month.

“We were successful in our advocacy efforts to remove the Raise the Wage Act, which would have increased the federal minimum wage to $15 and eliminated the tip credit,” reads the report. Further down, the report notes the company’s ongoing lobbying campaign in the Senate against the PRO Act, which recently passed the House and contains a laundry list of organized labor’s goals, such as eliminating right-to-work laws and banning mandatory company-sponsored meetings that are designed to discourage union activity. “You get the impression that they’re actively spitting in our eye, saying ‘Yes, we worked to suppress wages of our employees and we’re just going to brazenly tell you,’” one Inspire Brands worker told The Daily Poster. “I really do think that a line was crossed. You’re just going to brazenly tell your employees, ‘not only did we work to kill wages, but going forward we’re also going to make sure that the PRO Act doesn’t pass either.’”

During the 2020 campaign, Democrats pledged to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which would boost the wages of 32 million workers nationwide, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). However, efforts to include a $15 minimum wage in Biden’s pandemic aid bill failed after the Senate parliamentarian advised Democrats such a hike should not be passed by budget reconciliation and Vice President Kamala Harris declined to use her authority to override the decision. Inspire Brands’ success in eliminating the minimum wage hike from the bill follows Dunkin’ Brands’ then-CEO Nigel Travis saying in 2015 that a $15 wage would be “absolutely outrageous.” At the time, unions noted that Travis was being paid more than $4,000 every hour.

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We’re back to 1340.

The Top 10 Percent Through The Ages (AEA)

The COVID-19 pandemic may be increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. But how does today’s changing inequality compare to the past? In a paper in the Journal of Economic Literature, author Guido Alfani summarized the efforts of historians whose archival research has greatly increased economists’ knowledge of past wealth holdings. His work helps put today’s wealth polarization in perspective. Alfani’s estimates from the Economic Inequality across Italy and Europe (EINITE) database show that from 1300 to 1800 inequality grew steadily almost everywhere in Europe, with the exception of the century-long decline triggered by the Black Death. Figure 8 from his paper combines the estimates of the period 1300-1800 with estimates of inequality in postindustrial Europe.

The chart shows the average share of wealth held by the richest 10 percent in two separate regions of Europe. The black line is an average of the Sabaudian State (roughly modern Piedmont, Italy), the Florentine State, the Kingdom of Naples, and the Republic of Venice. The grey line is an average for France, the United Kingdom, and Sweden (sourced from Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century). Although the areas of Europe differ before and after 1800, there is a relatively smooth transition between the two series. The rate of growth of the share of the top 10 percent in the period 1810–1910 was nearly the same as the period 1550–1800. Only two episodes interrupted a steady growth in inequality—the Black Death of 1347–52 and the 1914–45 period of the World Wars.


The most fatal pandemic recorded in human history caused the top 10 percent to lose 15–20 percent of the overall wealth. And the global wars caused an even larger drop for the rich, from almost 90 percent in 1910 to 75 percent in 1950. (It is interesting to note that contrary to our perception that our societies are less unequal than those of the past, the share of wealth of the richest 10 percent in 2010 was about the same as it was in 1340.) Alfani goes on to explain that post–Black Death plagues were unable to produce inequality reduction due to institutional adaptation and human agency. This indicates that today’s policymakers do have control over the gap between the haves and the have-nots by designing institutions in a way that protects the general population from excessive greed.

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The video is good. Sound on.

Suez Canal Crisis: Here Are The Cargoes In The Crossfire (Miller)

The “slow boat from China” just got a lot slower. Shipping sentiment toward the Suez Canal grounding of the Ever Given has taken a major turn. Operators are now opting to bypass the traffic jam and take the long detour around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. Ship-positioning data already confirms abrupt turns toward the cape by multiple ships. Container ships such as the HMM Rotterdam, Ever Greet, Maersk Skarstind and Hyundai Prestige; the crude tanker Marlin Santorini; and the liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier Pan Americas, among others, have made beelines toward the cape. If the Ever Given is not refloated at high tide on Sunday, many more detours are expected. There were 237 ships stuck at anchor awaiting canal transits as of Friday, according to Egypt’s Leth Agencies. That’s up sharply from 156 the day before.


Global ocean trade is fluid. The Suez Canal closure doesn’t block cargo. It changes the arrival date. The extent of delays from rerouting depends upon port pairs and vessel speed. A container ship traveling at 17 knots passing India en route from China to Rotterdam would take nine more days on the cape route than using the canal. If its destination was Italy, it would take 13 more days. The double whammy of the canal queue and rerouting delays renders the global shipping network less efficient. The same ship capacity will not move the same cargo volume in the same time frame. This will have a wide range of effects — some bad, some good — for shippers, vessel operators and investors.

To gauge potential consequences, American Shipper analyzed historical data from the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) and obtained more recent data from trade-intelligence companies VesselsValue and Kpler. The SCA data is a year old but shows the long-term trends. American Shipper separated SCA’s cargo data into three categories: containerized volume, dry cargo volume (bulkers and general cargo) and liquid (tanker) volume.

Suez Canal Traffic Update – Audio on

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Review of Killer Cartoons, edited by David Wallis, and White, by Bret Easton Ellis.

The Death of Humor (Matt Taibbi)

The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo won the condemnation of the whole world again, with the following cover:


Why Meghan quit Buckingham: Because I couldn’t breathe anymore.

Reactions ranged from “abhorrent” to “hateful” to “wrong on every level,” with many offering versions of the now-mandatory observation that the magazine is not only bad now, but “has always been disgusting.” This cover is probably an 8 or 9 on the offensiveness scale, and I laughed. It goes after everyone: Queen Elizabeth, depicted as a more deranged version of Derek Chauvin (the stubby leg hairs are a nice touch); Meghan Markle, the princess living in incomparable luxury whose victimhood has become a global pop-culture fixation; and, most of all, the inevitable chorus of outraged commentators who’ll insist they “enjoy good satire as much as the next person” but just can’t abide this particular effort that “goes too far,” it being just a coincidence that none of these people have laughed since grade school and don’t miss it.

Six years ago, after terrorists killed 10 people at Hebdo’s Paris offices in a brutal gun attack, the paper’s writers, editors, and cartoonists were initially celebrated worldwide as martyrs to the cause of free speech and democratic values. In France alone on January 11, 2015, over 3 million people marched in a show of solidarity with the victims, who’d been killed for drawing pictures of the Prophet Muhammad. Protesters also marched in defiance of those who would shoot people for drawing cartoons, especially since this particular group of killers also fatally shot four people at a kosher supermarket in an anti-Semitic attack. For about five minutes, Je Suis Charlie was a rallying cry around the world.

In an early preview of the West’s growing sympathy for eliminating heretics, cracks quickly appeared in the post-massacre defense of Charlie Hebdo. Pope Francis said that if someone “says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch.” Bill Donohoe, head of the American Catholic League, wrote, “Muslims are right to be angry,” and said of Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, “Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive.” New York Times columnist and noted humor expert David Brooks wrote an essay, “I Am Not Charlie Hebdo,” arguing that although “it’s almost always wrong to try to suppress speech,” these French miscreants should be excluded from polite society, and consigned to the “kids’ table,” along with Bill Maher and Ann Coulter.

Humor is dying all over, for obvious reasons. All comedy is subversive and authoritarianism is the fashion. Comics exist to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously, and we live in an age when people believe they have a constitutional right to be taken seriously, even if — especially if — they’re idiots, repeating thoughts they only just heard for the first time minutes ago. Because humor deflates stupid ideas, humorists are denounced in all cultures that worship stupid ideas, like Spain under the Inquisition, Afghanistan under the Taliban, or today’s United States.

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Mar 202021
 
 March 20, 2021  Posted by at 9:01 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  26 Responses »


Gilles Mostaert Sodom and Gomorrah 1597

 

Joe Biden’s Dire Opening Chapter On The World Stage (Kimball)
Biden And Blinken’s Unprovoked Attacks On Russia And China Backfire (Ritter)
SecDef Austin Warns North Korea: US “Ready To Fight Tonight” (ZH)
Moscow Snubs Biden At UN, Only Sends Junior Diplomat To Virtual Summit (RT)
Putin Challenges Biden To Stair-Climbing Contest (BBee)
Erdogan Says Biden Comments On Putin ‘Unacceptable’ (R.)
Erdogan Fires Second Central Bank Chief In 4 Months (ZH)
Fauci Claims Babies, Toddlers Need To Be Vaccinated For Herd Immunity (SN)
Drugmakers Promise Investors They’ll Soon Hike Covid-19 Vaccine Prices
ONS Admits Ignoring Manufacturer Instructions in PCR Testing (LDS)
The ‘Independent’ Report Claiming Uyghur Genocide (CN)
UK Government Borrowing Hits February Record (BBC)
Toxic Chemicals, Plummeting Sperm Counts, Shrinking Penises (Erin Brockovich)

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I am not sure whether air-sickness bags were deployed. It was Alaska, after all, so maybe they just opened the window.”

Joe Biden’s Dire Opening Chapter On The World Stage (Kimball)

Consider, to take a very recent example, the exchange between the United States secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the Chinese director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, known to admirers and lackeys as ‘Tiger Yang’. The venue was Anchorage, Alaska, where Messrs. Blinken and Yang, along with assorted colleagues and retainers, met for a free and frank exchange of views. On the run up to the meeting, Blinken talked tough. ‘This is an important opportunity for us to lay out in very frank terms,’ he said, ‘the many concerns we have with Beijing’s actions and behavior that are challenging the security, prosperity and values of the US and our allies.’ Very frank. It was the first high-level meeting between members of the Biden administration and their Chinese counterparts. To say that it was a public relations disaster for the US is to understate the case.

Blinken and his sidekick, Jake Sullivan, a Hillary Clinton factotum who is now national security adviser, sat down to read China the riot act. It was not a success. Blinken emitted carefully polished clichés about our ‘deep concern’ over Chinas actions with regard to Hong Kong, Taiwan and other hot spots, its bullying of various European countries, and its campaign of cyber attacks against the US. This behavior, said Blinken, consulting that great compendium of diplomatic nostrums he learned in school, threatens ‘the rules-based order that maintains global stability’. I am not sure whether air-sickness bags were deployed. It was Alaska, after all, so maybe they just opened the window. Yang, speaking through a translator, shot back: ‘You can’t blame this problem on somebody else.’ Blinken went on to say that now, under Joe Biden, the United States was ‘back’ (where did it go, Tony?) and was ‘reengaging’ with its allies on the world stage.

Here’s where that short imperative I mentioned came in. The United States, said Yang, in one of the most dismissive diplomatic rejoinders I have ever heard, does not have the ‘qualifications’ to address China ‘from a position of strength’. F, my dear Blinken, you. [..] The Anchorage outrage was not an isolated incident. On the contrary, though it is early days yet in the Biden-Harris (or Harris-Biden) administration, a pattern of contempt for America and its leaders seems to be taking hold. In the course of a ‘what-flavor-is-your-milkshake’ valen- er, interview with George ‘I <3 Hillary’ Stephanopoulos, Biden was asked if he thought Russian president Vladimir Putin was a ‘killer’. He answered yes, in response to which Putin said he wished Biden the best of health and suggested they livestream a debate. Can you imagine what that would be like?

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It’s not fully impossible that they got what they wanted.

Biden And Blinken’s Unprovoked Attacks On Russia And China Backfire (Ritter)

In attacking the moral character of Russia’s president and China’s human rights record, the Biden administration opened the door for a critical examination of America’s own troubled history.President Joe Biden has defined his administration with the mantra of “America is back,” hinting at a return to what he and his supporters believe to be the halcyon days of President Barack Obama’s two-term tenure as president, as well as a sharp departure from the policies and practices of the man who usurped Hillary Clinton’s bite at the presidential apple, Donald Trump. In an effort to “build back better,” as Biden is wont to exclaim, his administration has embraced an ambitious agenda that aggressively seeks to both promote and install America as the world’s indispensable nation.

And yet, in the span of less than 24 hours, the president and his primary foreign policy advisor, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, managed to undermine the very policies they sought to promote through a combination of narcissistic posturing and plain diplomatic incompetence. By labeling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “soulless killer,” Biden put US-Russian relations in their worst posture since the Cold War. And Blinken, during the Biden administration’s initial meeting between the US and China, managed to unleash the ire and rage of Beijing by forgoing any pretense at diplomatic norms and aggressively calling out China on a host of issues which touched upon its sovereignty. The collapse of what passed for a coordinated position of diplomatically confronting both Russia and China has left the US scrambling to navigate through the detritus of its own policy shipwreck.

[..] If Biden and Psaki believed that US-Russian relations would return to square one following Biden’s undiplomatic insult, Putin quickly put that notion to bed. “The US authorities in general seek certain relations with us but only in areas the US is interested in, and on their own terms,” Putin said. “They think that we are just like them but we aren’t. Our genetic, cultural and moral codes are different. However, we know how to protect our interests. We will work with them [the US], but only in areas we are interested in and on terms we find favorable. They will have to take it into account, despite attempts to stop our development, sanctions and insults. We will be guided by our national interests when boosting relations with all countries, including the United States,” he concluded.

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The plan: Biden does Putin, Blinken does China, Austin does North Korea. Coincidence?

SecDef Austin Warns North Korea: US “Ready To Fight Tonight” (ZH)

In an unusually blunt threat and warning even for the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that US forces are ready to “fight tonight” in comments aimed at North Korea after an angry Pyongyang denounced the resumption of joint military exercises between the US and South Korea. “Our force remains ready to fight tonight, and we continue to make progress toward the eventual transition of wartime Operational Control to a [Republic of Korea]-commanded, future Combined Forces Command,” Austin said on Thursday.

He issued the words from Seoul at the tail end of his Asia trip this week alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South Korean leaders. Secretary Blinken had continued his denuclearization of the peninsula message, saying, “We are committed to the denuclearization of North Korea, reducing the broader threat the DPRK poses to the United States and our allies, and improving the lives of all Koreans, including the people of North Korea who continue to suffer widespread and systematic abuses at the hands of their repressive government.”

Pyongyang on Thursday slammed what DPRK first vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui called a “lunatic” and “hostile” policy. The senior North Korean diplomat said of the question of denuclearization talks that there will be no contact with Washington “unless the US rolls back its hostile policy towards the DPRK.” She said further: “Therefore, we will disregard such an attempt of the US in the future, too.” The “new regime” in the US, she added, had only put forward a “lunatic theory of ‘threat from north Korea’ and groundless rhetoric about ‘complete denuclearisation'”. The Biden administration has reportedly been attempting to reach out to the North via various diplomatic channels since mid-February, but to no avail.

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“Russia’s diplomatic mission was the only one that did not send its top figure to greet the American president.”

Moscow Snubs Biden At UN, Only Sends Junior Diplomat To Virtual Summit (RT)

Russia was the only nation that refused to send its top UN representative to talks with US President Joe Biden on Thursday, electing instead to dispatch a junior envoy, as a diplomatic row between Moscow and Washington worsens. President Biden had invited permanent representatives from the United Nations Security Council, on which Moscow has continuous representation, to discuss his country’s “commitment to values-based global leadership.” In addition, the president called for action on crises in regions across the world, including Myanmar, Ethiopia, Syria, and Yemen. However, Dmitry Polyanskiy, second-in-command to Russia’s permanent representative, Vassily Nebenzia, confirmed on Friday that neither had attended the meeting.


Instead, he revealed, Anna Evstigneeva, one of three more junior deputies, had joined the talks with Biden in their place. She reportedly made no remarks. RIA Novosti reports that Russia’s diplomatic mission was the only one that did not send its top figure to greet the American president. The decision comes amid a week in which Biden and his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, have traded barbs in the press. In an explosive interview with ABC earlier this week, Biden was asked whether he thought Putin was a killer. “Mmm hmm, I do,” Biden replied. On Thursday, the Russian leader responded, arguing that judging other countries is often “like looking in a mirror.” “When I was a kid, when we were arguing with each other in the playground, we used to say, ‘Whatever you say [about others] is what you are yourself,’” Putin said.

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“The winner of the contest will gain control of the other country.”

Putin Challenges Biden To Stair-Climbing Contest (BBee)

Vladimir Putin has challenged Joe Biden to a contest of wits, strength, and cunning: a stair-ascending contest. The winner of the contest will gain control of the other country. “Stair-ascending contest, me and you, right now, let’s go,” said Putin as he met with the American president. “He who wins become supreme glorious leader forever of other puny weak man.” Biden agreed to the contest, though it wasn’t clear he knew who this man was or where they were. “3… 2… 1… climb!” shouted the referee before firing off a pistol. Biden got off to a rocky start as he was startled by the gunshot and scurried off in the wrong direction. Putin, meanwhile, just walked up the stairs.


Biden started gaining on him as his handlers corralled him and pointed him in the right direction, but he kept falling over and tumbling down the stairs. It all looked good for Russia until Putin had to stop a few times to sign execution papers for journalists who criticized him, squandering his lead. Finally, Biden jumped in a stair lift and started to close the gap, but it was too little, too late, and Putin emerged at the top of the 30-step staircase victorious. Well, thanks to Biden losing the stair contest, we are now part of Russia. We also just want to say that Vladimir Putin is one fine fellow and a fantastic man, and he deserved to win and we welcome him as our new leader for life.

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Easy.

Erdogan Says Biden Comments On Putin ‘Unacceptable’ (R.)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Joe Biden’s comments about Russia’s Vladimir Putin, in which he said he thought he was a killer, were “unacceptable” and unfitting of a U.S. president. In a TV interview broadcast on Wednesday, Biden said “I do” when asked if he believed Putin was a killer, prompting U.S.-Russia ties to sink to a new low. Putin later responded that “he who said it, did it.” “Mr. Biden’s statements about Mr. Putin are not fitting of a president, and a president coming out and using such remarks against the president of a country like Russia is truly unacceptable, not something that can be stomached,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.


“In my opinion, Mr. Putin has done what is necessary by giving a very, very smart and elegant answer,” he added. Ties between Ankara and Washington, NATO allies, have been strained over a host of issues in recent years including Turkey’s record on human rights and freedoms, its acquisition of Russian defence systems and policy differences in Syria. The United States, which along with other western allies has accused Ankara of straying from NATO and the western bloc, last year imposed sanctions on Turkey over the Russian defences. Turkey called that a “grave mistake”.

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Not so easy. Erdogan still wants to control what he can’t.

Erdogan Fires Second Central Bank Chief In 4 Months (ZH)

On Thursday, moments after the Central Bank of Turkey unexpectedly hiked rates by a whopping 200bps – double the consensus expectation – to 19% from 17%, the highest rate since the country’s panicked scramble to contain the collapse of the Turkish lira during the economic turmoil of 2018, we said that “unfortunately for Turkey – whose economy will now grind to yet another halt – it had no choice: inflation had accelerated for a fifth month in February as oil rallied and the impact of last year’s lira weakness lingered, while capital outflows soared. The upward trend fueled expectations the central bank would try to rein in prices by raising interest rates… but nobody had expected a 200 bps rate hike.”

Also in our kneejerk response to the rate hike decision, we said that the relatively new CBRT head, Agbal, “was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t: on one hand the lira was plunging angering Erdogan, so he had to stabilize it… on the other the only way to do so was by hiking rates, which would anger Erdogan even more.” We also quoted from the CBRT’s decision, noting that the bank has decided “to implement a front-loaded and strong additional monetary tightening,” explicitly stating that this “statement is guaranteed to enrage Turkey’s dictator.” Bottom line: Erdogan would be furious either way.

Finally, we quoted SocGen EM strategist Phoenix Kalen who tried to justify the rate hike with some lofty sleight of logic by saying that “in a challenging context of domestic business and political pressure against further interest rate hikes, the CBRT has stepped up to the plate and delivered a resounding home run to underline its commitment to an inflation-targeting framework.” Kalen then said that the move “will go a long way toward bolstering both retail and foreign investor confidence that the CBRT under Governor Agbal will stay engaged in addressing deterioration in inflation expectations.” While we were impressed with Kalen’s attempt to make 5-D chess out of what was basically total chaos, our take was far more cynical Maybe… or maybe it will just force Erdogan to replace yet another CBRT governor.

Two days later, our cynical view proved correct again, because shortly after midnight on Saturday, and just two days after the larger than expected rate hike, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired the country’s third central bank governor in less than two years and replaced him with a fan of lowering interest rates. Naci Agbal, Turkey’s former finance minister who was appointed central bank chief last November, was fired by Erdogan and was replaced with Sahap Kavcioglu, according to a decree published after midnight on Saturday in the Official Gazette. Agbal’s abrupt termination is a clear retaliation by Erodgan for last week’s unexpectedly big rate hike, one which does not fit within the absurd confines of “Erdoganomics” whereby lower rates are somehow needed to fight inflation.

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How scary would you like it?

Fauci Claims Babies, Toddlers Need To Be Vaccinated For Herd Immunity (SN)

Dr Anthony Fauci has claimed that in order for herd immunity against coronavirus to be reached in the US, children and even babies will have to be vaccinated. Speaking during a Senate hearing, the chief medical adviser to the Biden administration said “I think we should be careful about wedding ourselves to this concept of herd immunity because we really do not know precisely, for this particular virus, what that is.” “We don’t really know what that magical point of herd immunity is, but we do know that if we get the overwhelming population vaccinated, we’re going to be in good shape. We ultimately would like to get and have to get children into that mix,” Fauci added. Appearing later on CBS News, Fauci outlined plans to vaccinate children as young as six month old babies early next year.


On Wednesday, Fauci dismissed concerns that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines could impact children’s genetics. “We’re going to be looking at multiple aspects of safety,” Fauci told reporters, adding “There is really no biological reason at all to indicate or even predict that you would even see any modification of a genetic profile when you’re dealing with mRNA, which has no way of integrating into the genome of a cell.” Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are both currently running tests of their mRNA vaccines in children. Moderna has also revealed that it has a study underway in children under 12 that will eventually include those as young as six month old babies. CDC figures show that of almost 400,000 US deaths counted as from COVID-19, just 93 were children 4-years-old and younger.

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“As this shifts from pandemic to endemic, we think there’s an opportunity here for us..”

Drugmakers Promise Investors They’ll Soon Hike Covid-19 Vaccine Prices (IC)

THE U.S. pharmaceutical firms behind the approved coronavirus vaccines — Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer — have quietly touted plans to raise prices on coronavirus vaccines in the near future and to capitalize on the virus’s lasting presence. While the companies have enjoyed a boost in goodwill from the rush to develop vaccines, drug industry executives have noted, the public is still sensitive to drug pricing and the reputational risk has, so far, curtailed their ability to reap large financial rewards. But that environment, they hope, will change once the pandemic ends: a date that drugmakers themselves reserve the right to declare. Pharmaceutical officials, speaking at recent conferences and on calls with investors, say they expect the virus will linger, morphing from a pandemic into a perennial endemic.

And as Covid-19 mutations continue to spread and booster shots may be required on a regular basis, leaders from the three companies are enthusiastic about cashing in. “As this shifts from pandemic to endemic, we think there’s an opportunity here for us,” said Frank D’Amelio, the chief financial officer for Pfizer, at a conference. Additional factors, such as the need for booster shots, present “a significant opportunity for our vaccine from a demand perspective, from a pricing perspective, given the clinical profile of our vaccine.” Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have also pledged affordability for their vaccines for the duration of the pandemic but have indicated to investors that they plan to return to more “commercial” pricing as early as later this year.

The vaccines are already poised to be some of the most lucrative drugs of all time. The companies are expecting to bring in billions in profit this year alone, and all the major drugmakers with approved coronavirus vaccines received investments and backorders from government agencies. The U.S. government has fully financed the research and development of several coronavirus vaccines, including those produced by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, to the tune of over $2 billion. The U.S. has also provided nearly $2 billion in payments to secure doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which was developed in partnership with BioNTech, a company that received nearly $500 million in development assistance from the German government.

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“..it has been reporting PCR tests as positive when only a single coronavirus gene is detected..”

“Between a quarter and two thirds of positive results were affected..”

ONS Admits Ignoring Manufacturer Instructions in PCR Testing (LDS)

The Office for National Statistics has admitted that in its Covid infection survey it has been reporting PCR tests as positive when only a single coronavirus gene is detected, despite this being contrary to the instructions of the manufacturer that two or more target genes must be found before a positive result can be declared. According to a rapid response in the BMJ this week by Dr Martin Neil, a statistics professor at the University of London, targeting only a single gene in this way massively increases the risk of a false positive because of the possibility of cross-reactivity with other coronaviruses as well as prevalent bacteria or other contamination. Digging into the detail of the methods followed by the lighthouse laboratories which process the tests for the ONS, Professor Neil writes:

“The kit used by the Glasgow and Milton Keynes lighthouse laboratories is the ThermoFisher TaqPath RT-PCR which tests for the presence of three target genes from SARS-COV-2. Despite Corman et al originating the use of PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 genes there is no agreed international standard for SARS-COV-2 testing. Instead, the World Health Organisation (WHO) leaves it up to the manufacturer to determine what genes to use and instructs end users to adhere to the manufacturer instructions for use. The WHO’s emergency use assessment for the ThermoFisher TaqPath kit includes the instruction manual and contained therein is an interpretation algorithm describing an unequivocal requirement that two or more target genes be detected before a positive result can be declared.

The latest revision of ThermoFisher’s instruction manual contains the same algorithm. The WHO have been sufficiently concerned about correct use of RT-PCR kits that on January 20th 2021 they issued a notice for PCR users imploring them to review manufacturer instructions for use carefully and adhere to them fully. The ONS’s report of December 5th 2020 lists SARS-CoV-2 positive results for valid two and three target gene combinations and the report of December 21st does the same, for samples processed by the Glasgow and Milton Keynes lighthouse laboratories. However, it also lists single gene detections as positive results.” Between a quarter and two thirds of positive results were affected, Professor Neil found.

“Over the period reported the maximum weekly percentage of positives on a single gene is 38% for the whole of the UK for the week of February 1st. The overall UK average was 23%. The maximum percentage reported is 65%, in East England in the week beginning October 5th. In Wales it was 50%, in Northern Ireland it is 55% and in Scotland it was 56%. The full data including averages and maxima/minima are given in.”

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We need more questions for this narrative.

The ‘Independent’ Report Claiming Uyghur Genocide (CN)

The report relies most substantially on the “expertise” of Adrian Zenz, the far-right evangelical ideologue, whose “scholarship” on China has been demonstrated to be flawed, riddled with falsehoods and dishonest statistical manipulation. The reliance on the voluminous but demonstrably fraudulent work of Zenz is not surprising, given that the report was financed by the Newlines Institute’s parent organization, the Fairfax University of America (FXUA). FXUA is a disgraced institution that Virginia state regulators moved to shut down in 2019 after finding that its “teachers weren’t qualified to teach their assigned courses”, academic quality was “patently deficient,” and plagiarism was “rampant” and ignored.

Just days before the Newlines Institute published its “expert” report accusing China of genocide, an advisory board to the U.S. Department of Education recommended terminating recognition of FXUA’s accreditor, placing its license in jeopardy. The Newlines report presents no new material on the condition of Uyghur Muslims in China. Instead, it claims to have reviewed all of “the available evidence” and applied “international law to the evidence of the facts on the ground.” Rather than conducting a thorough and comprehensive review of “the available evidence,” the report restricted its survey to a narrow range of flawed pseudo-scholarship along with reports by U.S. government-backed lobbying fronts for the exiled Uyghur separatist movement. It was upon this faulty foundation that the report applies legal analysis related to the UN Genocide Convention.

Newlines’ report relies primarily on the dubious studies of Zenz, the U.S. government propaganda outlet, Radio Free Asia, and claims made by the U.S.-funded separatist network, the World Uyghur Congress. These three sources comprise more than one-third of the references used to construct the factual basis of the document, with Zenz as the most heavily relied upon source – cited on more than 50 occasions. Many of the remaining references cite the work of members of Newlines Institute’s “Uyghur Scholars Working Group,” of which Zenz is a founding member and which is made up of a small group of academics who collaborate with him and support his conclusions.

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Well, well. Get your MMT at the BBC.

UK Government Borrowing Hits February Record (BBC)

Ultimately, if it’s consistently spending much more than it has in the past, the state has to raise more money in taxes. But the key word there is “ultimately”. There is no urgency to repaying the government’s debt. More urgent are the debts of small businesses and poorer households. Ordinary households rightly fear getting into too much debt because if interest rates rise, lenders can close in and deploy lawyers and bailiffs with all the attendant unpleasantness. But it is profoundly wrong and misleading to infer that it’s like that for governments who issue their own sovereign currency. Unlike households, governments controlling their own currency can borrow without limit money that they have freshly created.


They therefore can’t go bankrupt. Because almost all of the money borrowed by the government in this financial year (by issuing gilts) will be owed to another public sector body, the Bank of England, it’s nothing like a household borrowing from a bank. And in fact, as the government tacitly acknowledged in its recent Budget, it makes sense in the midst of an economic contraction for the government to spend more, not less – not least because other parts of the economy (households and businesses) aren’t spending anything like what they normally would. Without the additional government spending the economic contraction would, without a shadow of a doubt, be worse.

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We’ll defeat ourselves yet.

Toxic Chemicals, Plummeting Sperm Counts, Shrinking Penises (Erin Brockovich)


The end of humankind? It may be coming sooner than we think, thanks to hormone-disrupting chemicals that are decimating fertility at an alarming rate around the globe. A new book called Countdown, by Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, finds that sperm counts have dropped almost 60% since 1973. Following the trajectory we are on, Swan’s research suggests sperm counts could reach zero by 2045. Zero. Let that sink in. That would mean no babies. No reproduction. No more humans. Forgive me for asking: why isn’t the UN calling an emergency meeting on this right now? The chemicals to blame for this crisis are found in everything from plastic containers and food wrapping, to waterproof clothes and fragrances in cleaning products, to soaps and shampoos, to electronics and carpeting.

Some of them, called PFAS, are known as “forever chemicals”, because they don’t breakdown in the environment or the human body. They just accumulate and accumulate – doing more and more damage, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Now, it seems, humanity is reaching a breaking point. Swan’s book is staggering in its findings. “In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” Swan writes. In addition to that, Swan finds that, on average, a man today will have half of the sperm his grandfather had. “The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,” writes Swan, adding: “It’s a global existential crisis.” That’s not hyperbole. That’s just science.

As if this wasn’t terrifying enough, Swan’s research finds that these chemicals aren’t just dramatically reducing semen quality, they are also shrinking penis size and volume of the testes. This is nothing short of a full-scale emergency for humanity. Swan’s book echoes previous research, which has found that PFAS harms sperm production, disrupts the male hormone and is correlated to a “reduction of semen quality, testicular volume and penile length”. These chemicals are literally confusing our bodies, making them send mix messages and go haywire.

Read more …

 

 

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Mar 122021
 
 March 12, 2021  Posted by at 9:46 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Yellow haystacks (Golden harvest) 1889

 

The New COVID-19 Relief Bill Is Good, But Not Good Enough (Jac.)
The Rights Of The Naturally Immune (AIER)
Fauci Was ‘Blind To The Harms Of The Lockdowns’ That Didn’t Work Anyway (JTN)
Advisory Committee On Pandemic Needs Variety Of Experts, Not Just Doctors (K.)
Generation Threatened As Pandemic Sets Back Childhood Development (Barrons)
Sweden’s Failed Covid Strategy Leaves The Country Deeply Divided (Peroni)
These Seven States Have Dropped All Covid-19 Restrictions (F.)
EU Investigates 30 Reports Of Blood-clotting Linked To AstraZeneca jab (RT)
New York Assembly Speaker Lays Groundwork For Cuomo Impeachment (JTN)
1000s Of Illegal Immigrant Children Penned In ‘Facilities Akin To Jails’ (JTN)
House Price Inflation in CPI is of Course Complete Baloney, But … (WS)
China Is Winning The Great 21st Century Tech War (Chang)
Journalists Start Demanding Substack Censor its Writers (Greenwald)
The Golden Question — Time vs Money (Ren.)

 

 

 

 

BIDEN: “If we do our part… by July 4, there’s a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day… Small groups will be able to get together”

 

 

 

 

“..the party avoided including any measures that might generate significant opposition from powerful corporate lobbies in Washington. ”

The New COVID-19 Relief Bill Is Good, But Not Good Enough (Jac.)

When Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan (ARP) on Friday, he will prove that the Democratic Party is finally willing — at least for a moment — to turn on the money hose and for once aim it not at Wall Street moguls, but instead at the raging wildfire of poverty and desperation incinerating the poor and middle class. That’s the very good news. The bad news is that the party’s COVID-19 relief bill also indicates that Biden might have been serious when he promised a room full of wealthy donors that nothing would fundamentally change about the macro-economy’s structure. Democrats did not use the must-pass bill to make essential, long-term changes to protect Americans against future emergencies. Instead, the party avoided including any measures that might generate significant opposition from powerful corporate lobbies in Washington.

Even worse, the ARP could make it far more difficult to enact structural changes in the health care sector that has been at the center of the pandemic and that helped make our country so uniquely unprepared for such a threat in the first place. To be sure, the package is a necessary rejection of austerity politics that have dominated Democratic politics since Bill Clinton promised in 1996 that “the era of big government is over” and since Joe Biden proudly cast himself as a deficit hawk in juxtaposition to his party’s New Deal tradition. This tectonic shift has been abrupt: When Democrats held a whopping fifty-eight Senate seats during the 2009 recession, Barack Obama listened to austerians like Lawrence Summers and passed a wholly inadequate $787 billion stimulus bill.

By contrast, with Democrats only holding fifty Senate seats amid the COVID crisis, Biden rejected Summers’s and his acolytes, and passed a $1.9 trillion bill.Biden only begrudgingly arrived at his current position. In August 2020, his campaign was telling reporters that “the pantry is going to be bare” and deficits meant “we’re going to be limited” in being able to spend any money at all. Then, in December, the New York Times reported that Biden was urging Democratic lawmakers to accept a COVID-19 aid package that included no direct aid checks at all.

After promising voters in Georgia that $2,000 checks “will go out the door immediately,” Biden quickly downgraded the amount to $1,400. The White House also entertained sharply limiting eligibility for those checks and cutting off payments to forty million Americans who received them in previous bills. (The final legislation wasn’t quite as draconian: it only penalized eleven million people.) The larger shift against this kind of austerity, then, reflects progressive pressure successfully shifting the terms of the budget debate away from the deficit scolds and away from Biden’s own previous ideology.

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Those rights are being vaccinated away. That makes the virus more dangerous.

The Rights Of The Naturally Immune (AIER)

There is an important issue that, in the midst of all the talk of vaccines, has not gotten nearly the attention it deserves: the civil rights of those who have already developed natural immunity to the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that is said to cause Covid. Yesterday, I got the results of the test I took to detect whether I had developed a T-Cell response to the virus. Like the antibody test I took almost 2 months ago, it was positive. These two things would appear to demonstrate that for all intents and purposes my body knew exactly what to do with this virus and that it probably has the equipment to dispose of it again were it, or one of its cousins, to revisit me in the near-to-medium term. And even if one or another related strain were to visit me in that future, studies suggest strongly that the attack would be considerably less virulent than the one I overcame without excessive trouble in December.

In a halfway rational world, what to do going forward in regard to getting a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus would be something I’d discuss with my doctor in the discreet quarters of the examination room. Were it to be offered, I would politely refuse it. And he, seeing the test evidence in my file, would raise no objection. And since the danger to me in the future from the virus is minuscule, and the science has clearly borne out what Fauci and Maria Van Kerkhove of the WHO flatly said was true before someone upstairs got to them—that asymptomatic transmission of respiratory diseases of this type is virtually nonexistent—I’d be free to live my life as I pleased without a mask, and with complete freedom of movement. But instead of this, I am facing enormous pressure to get a vaccine in order to recover my basic rights as a citizen.

And even then, those in charge are saying, I will still have to run around with a completely useless, breath-robbing and personality-canceling mask on my face. And all this for a disease that, even before the introduction of vaccines, gave those infected by it a roughly 997.5 out of 1,000 chance of survival. The civil authorities have decided, in effect, that fully indemnified pharmaceutical companies, whose pasts are obscenely littered with fraud, and the calculated creation of crises in order to up revenues on their products (OxyContin anyone?), have the de facto “right” to force me to take an experimental vaccine that, in the very, very best of circumstances, will only match what my apparently well-functioning body has already given me without any side effects.

And this, while straight out telling me that even if I submit to their government-coerced medical experiment I will probably still not get my full constitutional rights back. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed much more vigorously than has been the case up until now.

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Don’t let a virologist with large ties to Big Pharma run your country for a whole year.

Fauci Was ‘Blind To The Harms Of The Lockdowns’ That Didn’t Work Anyway (JTN)

Stanford University Professor of Medicine Jay Bhattacharya has been arguing for months that coronavirus lockdowns ultimately cause far more harm than good. As a co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration, he has been advocating an alternative to the public health establishment’s comprehensively restrictive COVID-19 mitigation policies — a strategy known as “focused protection,” which would instead tailor protective measures to the elderly and other high-risk groups while minimizing harm to the larger society by allowing those at lower risk to resume a semblance of their normal lives. Now Bhattacharya and the other signatories to the declaration may have received some empirical support from an unlikely source — a little-remarked new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the very epicenter of the pro-lockdown public health establishment.

While the study trumpets its findings of statistical correlations of mask mandates and in-person dining bans with better outcomes for coronavirus case rates and death rates, the positive effects reported were decidedly modest in scale. Bhattacharya, who spoke with Just the News earlier this week, said that despite clear evidence that “lockdowns haven’t worked to stem the pandemic,” he sees a “strange desire to continue the lockdown,” especially in the upper echelons of the federal government. In Bhattacharya’s view, Biden administration chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci and other top public health officials have failed to view the risks to a subset of the U.S. population in the indispensable context of risks to the larger population produced by drastic mitigation policies like socially and economically stultifying lockdowns that blanketed much of the country over the past year.

“Part of the problem for Dr. Fauci,” Bhattacharya said, “is that he is blind to the harms of the lockdown … He seems not to understand that the lockdown creates all kinds of physical problems, psychological problems, harms that I’ve never seen him talk about.” Among the issues to which Bhattacharya alludes are rises in child abuse, depression, and divorce rates. Not to mention the large swaths of the American economy that have been decimated, and countless small businesses that will never reopen. Many of the pandemic restrictions didn’t “actually have any effect on slowing the pandemic or protecting people,” Bhattacharya asserted. “They were just indiscriminate closures that essentially protected the ‘Zoom class’ — the people who could afford to stay at home — while exposing the working class, other poor people and the vulnerable.”

[..] Beyond mask mandates (which he has previously said do not work to slow the spread of the disease) and restaurant closures, though, Bhattacharya says that the “single biggest problem” America is going to see as a result of a year of lockdowns “is the harm to children.” “There’s one estimate that the closure of schools will cause almost five and a half million life years lost to our children,” he said. “That’s because, if you’re less well-educated, you live a less healthy life, you live a less long life, it has this ripple effect that lasts forever.”

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From Greece. Dysfunctional.

Advisory Committee On Pandemic Needs Variety Of Experts, Not Just Doctors (K.)

The existing committee of experts advising the government on the pandemic must reshape to add experts from different research disciplines instead of one to become more efficient, according to a professor on Friday. Manolis Dermitzakis, professor of genetics at the University of Geneva, told Skai television that, in the first wave of the pandemic, the decisions for the committee were simple. It only had to decide whether some activities should open or close, while the public largely complied with the restrictive measures. But the complexity of the situation as the pandemic continued from the summer onwards was so great that a commission which includes only doctors could not function.


Dermitzakis also argued that the panel must have fewer members. “A committee that has 30-40 members and consists only of doctors cannot function,” he said. “It is a moment when we have to say that this committee is tired, perhaps it has passed the point where it can function. Maybe some of its members could continue to be useful, but what is needed is interdisciplinarity, that is, many different experts and a fewer people – five not 30.” Dermitzakis also said he supported the reopening of schools, stores and outdoor eating venues.

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“The number of children who are hungry, isolated, abused, anxious, living in poverty and forced into marriage has increased..”

Generation Threatened As Pandemic Sets Back Childhood Development (Barrons)

Closed schools, surging poverty, forced marriages and depression — after a year of the pandemic, indicators measuring child and adolescent development have all regressed, a setback that heralds lasting stigma for an entire generation, UNICEF has warned. “The number of children who are hungry, isolated, abused, anxious, living in poverty and forced into marriage has increased,” Henrietta Fore, executive director of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, said in a statement released exactly one year since the World Health Organization classified Covid-19 as a pandemic. “Their access to education, socialization and essential services including health, nutrition and protection has decreased. The signs that children will bear the scars of the pandemic for years to come are unmistakable,” Fore said in the statement.


Faced with such “devastating” effects, Fore urged for children to be placed “at the heart of recovery efforts,” particularly by “prioritizing schools in reopening plans.” UNICEF cited a series of worrying figures in support of Fore’s words. While the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the elderly, children and adolescents under 20 make up 13 percent of the 71 million coronavirus cases reported in the 107 countries that provided age-specific data. In developing countries, projections show a 15 percent increase in child poverty. Six to seven million more children could suffer from malnourishment in 2020, an increase of 14 percent that could translate to more than 10,000 additional deaths per month, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

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‘opinion corridor’

Sweden’s Failed Covid Strategy Leaves The Country Deeply Divided (Peroni)

Sweden, a bastion of welfare and one of the countries that scores highest on pretty much anything to do with the wellbeing of its inhabitants, seems to have woken up to a serious identity crisis.The choice to adopt and follow a COVID-19 strategy unlike any other in Europe has recently led to an extreme polarization in an otherwise rather homogenous public debate. Statistics prove beyond a shadow of doubt that the other Scandinavian countries, which enforced much stricter policies, have suffered considerably fewer losses. Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, who firmly opposed face masks and believed that measures should rely only on the Swedish people’s sense of personal responsibility, enjoyed overwhelming support in the early phases of the crisis.

Fan pages, mostly on Facebook, counted tens of thousands of members. His face featured on T-shirts, gadgets and even a tattoo, worn on the arm by one of his proudest admirers. The alluring message that Sweden’s approach was right and everybody else’s self-isolation regime was hopelessly wrong reached well beyond the nation’s borders. In other European countries, staunch critics of lockdowns pointed at footage of happy, bare-faced Swedes hanging out in crowded bars as evidence that the draconian measures imposed elsewhere were an unnecessary violation of civil rights. The Swedish model became a symbol for anti-lockdown and no-mask movements across the world. But now, one year after the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in Scandinavia, the situation has changed dramatically.

Sweden’s Public Health Agency recently announced that several among its key figures have been granted police protection. Tegnell himself is currently enduring massive criticism and even death threats. In one instance, a citizen went so far as to argue that he should be “executed by a firing squad on live state television”. And yet, despite the fact that both King Carl XVI Gustaf and prime minister Stefan Löfven in December publicly acknowledged that the Swedish approach had failed, Tegnell has never retracted anything, let alone made an official apology. Until very recently, an astounding, near total lack of criticism, not only from public opinion but even from major opposition parties, characterised Sweden’s COVID. This might be due to the so-called åsiktskorridor (‘opinion corridor’). This is a Swedish concept meaning that the public debate tends to take place within certain limits, along an established path. Those who disagree, often choose not to speak out. They feel out of tune with the rest of society.

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Inevitable.

These Seven States Have Dropped All Covid-19 Restrictions (F.)

Oklahoma became the latest to lift virtually all Covid-19 restrictions on Thursday, bringing the total number of states that have chosen to fully reopen—despite warnings from public health officials—to seven, with a number of others also moving in that direction.

Oklahoma: Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) said he will be signing an executive order on Friday that will roll back his few remaining coronavirus restrictions, removing limits on events and public gatherings, as well as the state-wide mask mandate (the state averaged 643 cases and 23.9 deaths each day over the past week).

Wyoming: Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced March 8 that the state would repeal its statewide mask mandate and allow “bars, restaurants, theaters and gyms to resume normal operations” on March 16, but stipulated face masks will remain mandatory inside the state’s schools (the state averaged 7,343 cases and 1.3 deaths each day over the past week).

Texas: The largest state to remove all restrictions, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced on March 2 that Texas would be nixing its mask mandate and allowing businesses to reopen “100%” this Wednesday, banning jurisdictions from implementing local mask mandates unless they meet certain hospitalization metrics (the state averaged 4,909 cases and 189.9 deaths each day over the past week).

Mississippi: Gov. Tate Reeves (R) also decided to drop the state’s mask mandate and all Covid-19 restrictions on March 2, with the limits lifted the next day (the state averaged 396 cases and 14.6 deaths each day over the past week).

Montana: Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) announced the end of Montana’s mask mandate on Feb. 12, removing the last of the state’s restrictions, though some local jurisdictions have kept face covering requirements in place (the state averaged 129 cases and 2 deaths each day over the past week).

North Dakota: The state opted not to renew its mask mandate, first enacted in November, when it expired in January 2021, ending North Dakota’s restrictions (the state averaged 78 cases and 0.4 deaths each day over the past week).

Iowa: Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) ended the last of the state’s restrictions, the mask mandate issued in November 2020, in early February (the state averaged 481 cases and 14.4 deaths each day over the past week).

All seven of the states that have fully reopened are run by Republican governors. A number of other states have also significantly rolled back restrictions this month, but haven’t gone as far as the above states in eliminating both statewide mask mandates and limits on businesses. Connecticut and West Virginia, for example, have both lifted limits on most businesses, but kept their mask mandates, with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) noting: “This is not Texas, this is not Mississippi.” South Carolina has dropped some of its mandatory mask requirements, though the state never had a full mandate, and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said he will remove his state’s mask mandate if hospitalizations rates and test positivity is below a certain threshold when it’s set to end on March 31.

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“thromboembolic events.”

EU Investigates 30 Reports Of Blood-clotting Linked To AstraZeneca jab (RT)

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Thursday that it was investigating after two people inoculated from the same batch of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine died from blood clotting and several countries stopped using the jabs. The inquiry comes after Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia all suspended their rollouts of the AstraZeneca vaccine over fears that they may induce blood clotting – known medically as “thromboembolic events.” “There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine,” the EMA said in a statement, adding that its own risk assessment committee was investigating the matter.


As of March 10, there were 30 cases of thromboembolic events reported out of the 5 million people to have received the AstraZeneca jab so far in the European Economic Area, the EMA said in an update on Thursday. The agency also stressed that the vaccine’s “benefits continue to outweigh its risks.” A 60-year-old woman in Denmark died from blood clotting after she received an AstraZeneca jab from batch ABV5300, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported on Thursday. On Wednesday, it was reported that a 49-year-old nurse in Austria who was vaccinated from the same batch died from multiple thrombosis 10 days after her jab. Another woman in Austria was hospitalized with a pulmonary embolism after she received one of the batch’s 1 million doses that were sent to 17 different EU countries.

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Drip.

New York Assembly Speaker Lays Groundwork For Cuomo Impeachment (JTN)

The speaker of New York’s state Assembly has asked that its Judiciary Committee begin an investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which would be the first in moving toward an impeachment of the Democratic governor. Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, during a closed-door meeting strongly recommended launching the probe during a private meeting of select Assembly Democrats, and again during a meeting of the entire party conference, multiple sources told The New York Post. Heastie said the committee should examine the accusations that Cuomo groped and sexually harassed several female aides and his administration’s alleged cover-up of the total number of nursing home deaths from COVID-19, at least one of the sources told the newspaper.

The news report came after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday called for Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, to resign after a sixth woman accused him of sexual misconduct. “It is disgusting to me,” de Blasio said during a press conference. “He can no longer serve as governor. It’s as simple as that. Anna Ruch, a former Biden 2020 campaign worker, told The New York Times this month that the governor made unwanted sexual advances toward her after they met at a wedding in New York City in 2019. She also accused Cuomo, 63, of kissing her without her permission, even as she tried to pull away. Ruch said the encounter left her “confused and shocked and embarrassed.” Another accuser, Charlotte Bennett, a former Cuomo aide, alleges that the governor inquired about her sex life and asked her whether she would be amenable to a relationship with an older man.

And another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo “made inappropriate comments about her appearance, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting and once suggested they play strip poker while aboard his state-owned jet,” the Associated Press reported. Three more women have made similar allegations. The latest woman said the governor groped her last year at the executive mansion after she had called there to do some work. She said she was alone with the governor in the mansion when he “closed the door and allegedly reached under her blouse and began to fondle her,” a source told the Albany Times Union. The incident has not been corroborated.

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Where is the press? Where is AOC?

1000s Of Illegal Immigrant Children Penned In ‘Facilities Akin To Jails’ (JTN)

The Biden administration has reportedly penned thousands of illegal immigrant children in federal facilities following a massive surge of immigration at the southern U.S. border — a striking reversal from the anguished immigration rhetoric of the Biden-Harris campaign, which mourned it as a “national shame” when “children are locked away in overcrowded detention centers and the government seeks to keep them there indefinitely.” Immigration officials are reportedly holding more than 3,200 migrant children, many of them in “facilities akin to jails,” according to the New York Times. Multiple media outlets reported that many of the detained children were being held past the statutory deadline for such detainment, and in shelters that were originally built to house adults.

The detention crisis comes as border patrol agents have been contending with a major surge of illegal immigration activity along the southern border. According to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s most recent statistics, the U.S. Border Patrol logged 285,217 “encounters” at U.S. borders through January of fiscal year 2021. That’s roughly 70% of the total for all of fiscal year 2020 in just three months. The Border Patrol claimed last week that the agency is on track to arrest a “record number” of immigrant sex offenders this year. Agents in Laredo, Texas, meanwhile, have multiple times this month apprehended over one hundred illegal immigrants over short periods of time.

Much of the surge is likely driven by immigrants hoping the Biden administration will show leniency toward immigrants seeking entry into the country and/or asylum. During his presidential campaign, Biden famously criticized the Trump administration’s relatively tough immigration policy, vowing a more compassionate approach to dealing with both legal and illegal immigrants. The current mass detention of child immigrants, on the other hand, presents a sobering challenge to both the Biden administration and to immigration advocates who hoped for a major shift under Biden in how the U.S. deals with illegal entries across the southern border.

Read more …

CPI is of Course Complete Baloney, But

House Price Inflation in CPI is of Course Complete Baloney, But … (WS)

For most Americans, housing costs are the largest item in their budget, ranging from 30% to 60% of their total monthly spending. In its Consumer Price Index (CPI) for February, released yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the costs of homeownership (which the BLS calls “Owner’s equivalent rent of residence”) have increased by just 2.0% from a year ago, and that rents (“rent of primary residence”) have increased by 2.0%. They’re the biggest items among the 211 items in the CPI basket and together account for about one-third of overall CPI. They play a huge role in CPI. So… Rent inflation of 2.0% year-over-year on average across the US might be roughly on target, from what I can see in other rental data. But homeowner’s inflation of just 2.0%, given the skyrocketing home prices? Ludicrous. In its latest release, the Case-Shiller National Home Price index jumped by 10.4%.


This discrepancy between home price increases and the CPI for homeowners – which has for years contributed to understating the overall CPI – is depicted in the chart of the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index (red line) and the CPI for “owner’s equivalent rent of residence” (black line). I set the homeowners CPI at 100 for January 2000 to match the Case-Shiller index, which is set by default at 100 for January 2000. This allows you to see the progression of both indices on the same axis. The “owner’s equivalent rent of residence” accounts for 24.2% of CPI. If it had increased by 10.4%, in line with the Case-Shiller index, instead of 2.0%, the overall CPI would have increased by 2.03 percentage points more. So add the 2.03 percentage points to the reported overall CPI increase of 1.7%. And the thus corrected overall CPI would have shot up by 3.7%!

Read more …

The real WWIII?

China Is Winning The Great 21st Century Tech War (Chang)

At the ongoing “Two Sessions” in Beijing, the Communist Party has publicly told us how it will accomplish its ambitious goal. If the Chinese ruling party succeeds, the rest of the 21st century will be painted only in shades of red. Fortunately, America is beginning to mobilize itself. Americans, however, need to act, immediately. Tech is the real arms race of our era. On March 5, at the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, Premier Li Keqiang announced the 14th Five-Year Plan, which begins this year. China, pursuant to the plan, will increase spending 7% per year to achieve “major breakthroughs” in areas of “frontier technology.” Specifically, the country, will devote resources to artificial intelligence; quantum information; semiconductors; brain science; genomics and biotech; clinical medicine and health; and deep space, deep sea, and deep earth.


Moreover, Beijing is also talking about the Sci-Tech Innovation 2030 Agenda and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035. Officials are silent when it comes to Xi Jinping’s now-notorious Made in China 2025 initiative — the plan is on its face a violation of the country’s trade obligations — but there is no question that the effort remains underway nonetheless. China is going all-in on what Wang Zhigang, the head of the Ministry of Science and Technology, called the development of a “new ecology” for innovation. In that ecology, China has been able to lead the world in important areas, such as “unhackable” quantum communications. Moreover, the country is not far behind — if it is behind at all — in quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

Read more …

Glad I have a platform.

Journalists Start Demanding Substack Censor its Writers (Greenwald)

On Wednesday, I wrote about how corporate journalists, realizing that the public’s increasing contempt for what they do is causing people to turn away in droves, are desperately inventing new tactics to maintain their stranglehold over the dissemination of information and generate captive audiences. That is why journalists have bizarrely transformed from their traditional role as leading free expression defenders into the the most vocal censorship advocates, using their platforms to demand that tech monopolies ban and silence others. That same motive of self-preservation is driving them to equate any criticisms of their work with “harassment,” “abuse” and “violence” — so that it is not just culturally stigmatized but a banning offense, perhaps even literally criminal, to critique their journalism on the ground that any criticism of them places them “in danger.”

Under this rubric they want to construct, they can malign anyone they want, ruin people’s reputations, and unite to generate hatred against their chosen targets, but nobody can even criticize them. Any independent platform or venue that empowers other journalists or just ordinary citizens to do reporting or provide commentary outside of their repressive constraints is viewed by them as threats to be censored and destroyed. Every platform that enables any questioning of their pieties or any irreverent critiques of mainstream journalism — social media sites, YouTube, Patreon, Joe Rogan’s Spotify program — has already been systematically targeted by corporate journalists with censorship demands, often successfully.

Back in November, the media critic Stephen Miller warned: “It’s only a matter of time before the media tech hall monitors turn their attention to Substack.” And ever since, in every interview I have given about the success of Substack and every time I have written about journalist-led censorship campaigns, I have echoed that warning that they would soon turn their united guns on this platform. Miller’s prediction was prompted by a Columbia Journalism Review article entitled “The Substackerati” which claimed that Substack was structurally unfair because “most” of “the most successful people on Substack” are “white and male; several are conservative” and “have already been well-served by existing media power structures.”

All of that was false. The most-read and highest-earning writer on Substack is Heather Cox Richardson, a previously obscure Boston College History Professor who built her own massive readership without ever working at a corporate media outlet. And the writers that article identified in support of its claim — Matt Taibbi, Andrew Sullivan, Matt Yglesias and myself — do not remotely owe our large readerships to “existing media power structures.”

Read more …

“My grandfather would get home from work [and the family]… would sit around the dinner table, and have a conversation”, says Skoyles. “Nobody can be making money from that. Maybe they’d sit and listen to the radio…[which is]…something that’s already been paid for. Nobody can really be making any more money from that.”

The Golden Question — Time vs Money (Ren.)

In a capitalist society the pressure people have to do more, quickly, runs up against a number of problems. As Jan Skoyles acknowledges, the ‘time is money’ paradigm not only inhibits the creative process but, perhaps counter-intuitively, also undermines efficiency: “I think we see that often with governments”, says Skoyles. “They have a four or five year window. They think they have to achieve things quickly [but]…actually nothing’s really achieved in the end….We also have to think about how our time is becoming increasingly an economic activity…Even when we’re in our homes people can be using our time for their own financial gain.” Skoyles illustrates how much more economic value is extracted from the technologically more advanced societies of today compared to the traditional, stable ‘nuclear families’ of the past:

“My grandfather would get home from work [and the family]… would sit around the dinner table, and have a conversation”, says Skoyles. “Nobody can be making money from that. Maybe they’d sit and listen to the radio…[which is]…something that’s already been paid for. Nobody can really be making any more money from that. Now we’ll get home from work, we’ll sit around the table, we’ll hopefully have a conversation, but nine times out of ten someone’s got their phone out.” Consequently, data companies, advertisers, websites and Amazon are all making money [on the back of it]. “You’re constantly being advertised to and listened to and so our time is actually becoming increasingly valuable. But at the same time more and more decisions are being made for us which have a bigger impact”, claims Skoyles.

As the analyst acknowledges, with reference to Brexit, this comes with not only financial but also health costs: “People are stressed — that’s money in itself. So I think ‘time is money’ is definitely becoming more and more of an economic concept than I think it’s ever been.” A capitalist system that’s wrapped up in an ethos in which time and money increasingly overlap and which the notion of being busy is fetishized, imbues a sense of guilt for those who are not busy. Skoyles explains the phenomenon with reference to the ‘new mum’ perspective: “Everyone works more than an eight hour day. But if you had a full time job beforehand and then you go to looking after this little baby and it needs you, the fact that you’re focused on one thing — which to many people that’s the most important job in the world — but.. you feel quite guilty that that’s all you’ve been doing all day.”

Read more …

 

 

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deserve respect. If you
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the right order, you
can nudge the world
a little…

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fed chairs

 

 

 

 

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


Edward Hopper Gloucester Beach, Bass Rocks 1924

 

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

 

 

 

 

Mike Ryan

 

 

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

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

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

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


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

 

Infection Down 75% After First Pfizer Shot (JPost)

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

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

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

Read more …

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

We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April (Makary)

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

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

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

Read more …

More on Dr. Makary.

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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Baby steps, but something.

Ivermectin Reduces Length Of COVID-19 Infection (JPost)

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


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

Read more …

Full study via the link.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

Late to the game?

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

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


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

Read more …

I see Nobel Prize AND Oscar material:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

Covid or No Covid (Kunstler)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just like Twitter, Facebook.

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

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


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

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Chilling. Scorsese.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 162021
 
 February 16, 2021  Posted by at 10:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  31 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Snowy landscape with Arles in the background 1888

 

How to Make COVID Vaccines More Effective: Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (NC)
Aiming For Zero Covid-19: Europe Needs To Take Action (Rep.)
Millions of Texans Left Shivering In Arctic Cold Without Power (NBC)
“Unity” (Jim Kunstler)
Cuomo Blames ‘Politics,’ Fails To Address Nursing Home Cover-Up (NYP)
Democrats Slam ‘Lying’ Cuomo Over COVID-19 Nursing Home ‘Cover-Up’ (NYP)
Bipartisan Support For 9/11-Style Commission To Investigate Capitol Riot (PFW)
How Trump’s Trial Became A Tale Of Constitutional Noir (Turley)
What Comes Next in HNA Group’s Bankruptcy in China (Barron’s)
Fauci Awarded $1m Israeli Prize For ‘Speaking Truth To Power’ (Ind.)
WHO Adviser: Wuhan Lab Probe Was Conducted By ‘Chinese Authorities’ (SAC)
Cancel Culture, Where Liberalism Goes to Die (Chris Hedges)

 

 

CNN is trying to compete with The Onion.

 

 

The obvious.

How to Make COVID Vaccines More Effective: Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (NC)

If we’re going to rely on COVID-19 vaccines to bring an end to the pandemic, we need to maximise their effects. But one thing that risks undermining their protectiveness is nutritional deficiency, particularly in the elderly. Older people have weaker immune responses and are known to respond less well than younger adults to many vaccines, including the seasonal influenza vaccine. This is partly down to frailty, which cannot be easily remedied, but can also be due to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals – known as micronutrients. For the immune system to fight off infection or generate good protection against a disease following vaccination, it needs a variety of micronutrients. This is likely to be just as true for COVID-19 as for other diseases. Given that malnutrition is common among elderly people, raising their vitamin and mineral levels before they get vaccinated could be a way of boosting the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

As the European Food Safety Authority notes, the vitamins A, B6, B9, B12, C and D and the minerals zinc, selenium, iron and copper are all needed for the immune system to function as it should. Each of these micronutrients – as well as vitamin E – has been shown to play multiple roles in supporting immune function and reducing the risk of infection. Research has found a link between having an impaired immune system and having low amounts of many vitamins and minerals. When the immune system isn’t properly fuelled and is impaired, this can then lead to poor vaccine responses. For example, a review of nine studies – together involving 2,367 people – found that individuals deficient in vitamin D were less well protected against two strains of flu after having been vaccinated compared to those who had adequate vitamin D levels.

By contrast, randomised controlled trials of micronutrient supplements (such as vitamin B6, vitamin E, zinc and selenium) in older people have been shown to increase the ability of the immune system to respond to challenges. Furthermore, it appears that to work at its best the immune system needs vitamins C, D and E together with zinc and selenium in excess of amounts that can usually be achieved through diet alone. For example, selenium levels above those typically regarded as optimal have been associated with a better cure rate for COVID-19. Trials in older people have also shown that responses to vaccination are better after actions are taken to improve nutrition.

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Letter published in several European newspapers.

For me, personally, three pillars: “Vaccination, green zones, and test, trace and isolate strategies”, is not enough. Not without boosting people’s health.

Aiming For Zero Covid-19: Europe Needs To Take Action (Rep.)

Vaccination is a critical element for our way out of the pandemic. But the hope to reach herd immunity in Europe by the end of the summer is fading, as the roll-out of vaccines proves to be a major challenge. In addition, the emergence of new variants from Brazil, the UK, and South Africa is a warning signal that we may be confronted with lower protection from vaccines. Furthermore, history demonstrates that vaccination cannot single-handedly control a virus: it needs concerted efforts and a combination of public health measures. A global exit from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 seems unlikely if not impossible. To avoid lockdown cycles as experienced over the past and present year, we need to curb the spread of the virus as soon as possible, and choose the path of sustainable recovery.

The European strategy needs to markedly shift its focus from long-term and nationwide lockdowns due to high numbers of non-traceable community transmission and high death tolls, to having the virus under control. We thus call on politicians and the public to jointly commit to a European elimination strategy that builds on three pillars: Vaccination, green zones, and test, trace and isolate strategies. Importantly, this needs to be accompanied by clear, coherent and transparent communication. We are part of a group of international scientists ranging from epidemiologists, virologists, and mathematicians, to political scientists, and economists who support the strategy, some of whom have recently signed a call in The Lancet. In addition, No Covid – an approach suggested by a group of German scientists – is actively developing tools to render elimination successful.

While controlling the virus across Europe seems to be a daunting task, it can be achieved by defining common public health measures and standards that aim at achieving and then protecting green zones. The smaller the zones and the less mobility between them, the faster the exit can be reached and worst-in-class measures avoided. However, as the zoning needs to be politically and socially acceptable, and locally enforceable, each country should make its own pragmatic choice. For example, Italy could opt for regions, Germany could opt for Landkreise or Länder, and a small country like Lithuania could opt to be considered as one zone. Even more granularly, single cities could be considered a zone if feasible.

A zone is labelled green once the origin of every transmission is known, such that test, trace and isolate strategies can prevent further uncontrolled spreading of the remaining few infections. Green zones can progressively return to normal life: schools, restaurants, tourism and other businesses can fully reopen, and travellers freely move within and between green zones. Once a green zone is established, the priority then shifts from contact-inhibiting measures to avoid the reintroduction of the virus via travel regulations and testing, and the preparedness to implement fast, decisive and targeted containment measures should infections flare up locally again.

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“Midnight electricity price went up by more than 20000% in the past 4 days in Texas.”

Millions of Texans Left Shivering In Arctic Cold Without Power (NBC)

As a record winter storm slammed across the country Monday, millions of people in Texas found themselves shivering in the dark. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the power grid for 26 million customers, called for rolling outages to conserve power as arctic weather froze wind turbines, pushed several power plants offline and drove up demand from home heating systems. Outages affecting more than 2 million people were initially expected to be brief, lasting 15 to 20 minutes, but many Texans reported losing power for hours.


“The blackout just kept on going, and as the night progressed, the temperatures just started getting lower,” said Esteban Ramirez, 19, a college student from Del Rio, west of San Antonio, on the Mexican border. He huddled with his mother and his grandparents on a sofa to stay warm after they lost power at 2:30 a.m. At one point, he said, the temperature outside was 6 degrees. “It was scary,” he said. Power was out except for a couple of brief spurts for most of the day. His pipes froze, cutting off running water to the house, and the dim light made it difficult for his grandfather to get his medication, he said. “It was my first time experiencing something like this,” he said. “I was afraid of not making it through the night.”

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“Address me as Mr. President or President Biden,” Biden said. “I will not, and you can go fuck yourself,” DeSantis said before hanging up.

“Unity” (Jim Kunstler)

This played out dramatically last week in a telephone parley between Mr. Biden and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over the governor’s refusal to lockdown his state. The world-famous Dr. Fauci was also on the call, in which Mr. Biden threatened to curtail American citizens travel to Florida by road and air — since an offshoot of Covid-19 policy has been to drive a huge demographic exodus from economically failing states of New York, Illinois, and California down there. He also threatened to withhold federal funding to Florida and deny the state access to Covid-19 vaccines. Dr. Fauci chimed in, “Governor, do you want to be responsible for reinfecting the nation? Truth is, we don’t even know how effective current vaccines are against the UK strain.”

DeSantis told Dr. Fauci he trusted his own state health authorities over financially incentivized federal officials. The conclusion of the conference call went like this: “How much do you stand to earn from these vaccines, Dr. Fauci? And, Joe, if you continue with this course of action, I will authorize the state National Guard to protect the movement of Floridians,” DeSantis said. “Address me as Mr. President or President Biden,” Biden said. “I will not, and you can go fuck yourself,” DeSantis said before hanging up. Hmmm. Now, that got right to the point, didn’t it? And consider this was not just Citizen Joe Blow mouthing off to alleged President Joe B, but the governor of a populous state. And what if it suggests a trend?

Another obvious and disconcerting irony in that affair was, of course, that Mr. Biden seeks to restrict the movement of people across Florida’s borders for fear of spreading new strains of Covid-19, while he insolently authorizes thousands of illegal aliens to cross our border with Mexico daily, with no testing for the virus. Could Mr. Biden’s intentions look any worse?

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Let him go.

Cuomo Blames ‘Politics,’ Fails To Address Nursing Home Cover-Up (NYP)

An unapologetic Gov. Cuomo doubled down on a litany of past excuses Monday as he blamed “politics” for the spiraling scandal that’s engulfed his administration since The Post revealed his top aide admitted they hid from elected officials and the public the true number of nursing-home residents killed by COVID-19. During a virtual news conference at which he declined to take a question from The Post, Cuomo claimed that “there’s nothing to investigate” regarding the cover-up to which Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa confessed during a video conference call with Democratic lawmakers last week. Cuomo never directly addressed DeRosa’s recorded remarks in which she admitted “we froze” over whether to come clean to the Legislature — or the public — about nursing home deaths in the face of a Justice Department inquiry.

“Because then 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, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa said in the Wednesday evening conference call. Cuomo once again claimed that the state had always reported the number of nursing home residents killed by COVID-19 — even though it only began releasing figures on those who died in hospitals after a damning report last month by state Attorney General Letitia James, a fellow Democrat. As of Saturday, official figures show, 13,407 nursing home residents died of COVID-19, including 4,181 — more than 31 percent — in hospitals. “This past year, there is a toxic political environment and everything is political,” Cuomo said during the news conference in Albany.

[..] Left unsaid was that Cuomo had enough spare time to publish a self-serving memoir, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which made the Times “Best Sellers” list with the help of the self-proclaimed “Cuomosexuals” who turned his daily briefings into must-see TV, also garnering him a special Emmy Award. But Cuomo pushed back against a bipartisan move to strip him of his COVID-19 emergency powers in the wake of DeRosa’s remarks. And Cuomo insisted state pols should have known about the DOJ probe, despite his not telling them, because The Post broke a story about it in October. “Emergency powers have nothing to do with nursing homes,” Cuomo said. Cuomo said legislators “can reverse any action I take.” “They have never reversed a single action,” Cuomo said. “These are public health decisions, not local political decisions.”

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“She implicated all of us in the cover-up.”

Democrats Slam ‘Lying’ Cuomo Over COVID-19 Nursing Home ‘Cover-Up’ (NYP)

Fellow Democratic legislators in New York weren’t buying Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s explanation Monday as to why he refused for months to release a true accounting of nursing home residents who died from the coronavirus. Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), whose uncle died from COVID-19, bluntly said, “all of it is BS” and a cover-up. “They could have given us the information back in May and June of last year. They chose not to,” Kim said, when hearing Cuomo was blaming the DOJ probe for delays in releasing the accurate coronavirus death tally of nursing home residents. Cuomo cited an exclusive Aug.26, 2020 story in The Post that broke the news about the Department of Justice inquiry into his administration’s nursing home admission policy and the undercounting of deaths, claiming Albany legislators should have known about the probe based on that report.


Kim said lawmakers could have passed laws to tighten up accountability and liability in nursing homes to save lives if they had the information sooner. Kim also said Cuomo’s comments Monday don’t square with what top aide Melissa DeRosa told him and other legislators during a private meeting last week, when she said former President Donald Trump made the issue a “political football” and claimed that as an excuse for withholding the nursing home data. The Post first reported on her explosive remarks after obtaining an audio recording of the meeting. “And basically, we froze,” DeRosa said. “She talked about the potential that the information would be weaponized against them. DeRosa needs to be accountable for what she said,” Kim insisted. “She implicated all of us in the cover-up.”

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It’s all still about Trump.

Bipartisan Support For 9/11-Style Commission To Investigate Capitol Riot (PFW)

Bipartisan support for a 9/11-style commission to further investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot has grown bipartisan support with lawmakers urging such a body to get to the root cause of the events that day. “I’d like to know, did the Capitol Hill police inform the House sergeant at arms and the Senate sergeant at arms the day before the attack that they needed more troops?” Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News on Sunday after mentioning he believed there was a preplanned element to the highly publicized actions that took place. “We need to look at did Nancy Pelosi know on January 5 that there was a threat to the Capitol… What did President Trump do after the attack… We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and I want to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time,” he continued.

Graham would add that the preplanned element had no connection to former president Donald Trump’s speech during a rally earlier that day. Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, who unlike Graham, voted to convict the former president during the impeachment trial, also called for a 9/11-style commission, telling ABC over the weekend that “there should be a complete investigation about what happened.” “I think there should be a complete investigation about what happened on Jan. 6. Why was there not more law enforcement, National Guard already mobilized, what was known, who knew it, and when they knew it, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again in the future,” Cassidy said.

On the other side of the aisle, Democrat Senator Dennis Coons also vocalized support for such a commission, telling ABC “there’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear.” “A 9/11 commission is a way that we make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward and that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath president Trump really was,” Coons said on Sunday.

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“We do not afford due process to people simply because we have to. It is like decency, civility and other values. They are not observed because they are mandatory but because they are right.”

How Trump’s Trial Became A Tale Of Constitutional Noir (Turley)

In the 1946 movie “Gilda,” Rita Hayworth delivered perhaps the ultimate film noir line. Looking at her former lover, she declared, “I hate you so much that I would destroy myself to take you down with me.” Hayworth made self-destruction sound positively alluring. That line came to mind as I watched House impeachment managers and Democratic senators systematically discard basic values that once defined fair trials — and American values — under the Constitution. When Donald Trump’s defense counsel objected that he was not afforded due process in the House, the managers shrugged and said due process was not required. When the defense objected that Trump’s Jan. 6 speech was protected under the First Amendment, the House scoffed that free speech is not only inapplicable but “frivolous” in an impeachment.

Nothing, it seems, is so sacred that it cannot be discarded in pursuit of Trump. Over and over, it was made clear that his trial is about the verdict, not about our constitutional values. Even with acquittal all but ensured, there was no room for constitutional niceties like free speech or due process. There was only one issue — the same one that has driven our media and politics for four years: Trump. Through that time, some of us have objected that extreme legal interpretations and biased coverage destroy our legal and journalistic values. It was not done out of love for Trump: I voted against him in two elections and have regularly denounced his actions and rhetoric, including his Jan. 6 speech. However, I cherish our values more than I dislike him.

That is why the second Trump impeachment trial played out with a film noir flourish, featuring the same “lost innocence,” “hard-edged cynicism” and “desperate desire” of that movie genre — most obviously when House managers dismissed any due process in an impeachment proceeding. Indisputably, the House could have held at least a couple days of hearings and still impeached Trump before he left office. It knew the Senate would not hold a trial before the end of his term, so it had until Jan. 20 to impeach him. It did so on Jan. 13. A hearing would have given Trump a formal opportunity to respond to the allegation against him; no one has ever been impeached without such an opportunity. It would have allowed witnesses to be called (including many who already were speaking publicly), to create even a minimal record for the trial.

Yet the House refused, and then declined for more than four weeks to call a dozen witnesses with direct evidence to create a record even after its snap impeachment. So the House could have afforded basic due process but chose not to do so simply because it does not have to. When confronted about this in the Senate, one House manager scoffed at the notion that Trump should be afforded more due process. Representative Ted Lieu said, “Trump is receiving any and all process that he is due.” A chilling answer, since Trump received none in the House. There was a time when denying due process would have been shocking. Even if you believe that due process is not required in an impeachment, it is expected. We do not afford due process to people simply because we have to. It is like decency, civility and other values. They are not observed because they are mandatory but because they are right.

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It’s Xi’s casino now.

What Comes Next in HNA Group’s Bankruptcy in China (Barron’s)

Conglomerate HNA Group encapsulates at least three facets that have defined many overly-acquisitive Chinese firms in recent years. Those include origins in a defined sector with attempts to become a player in dozens of unrelated areas; an appetite for loose credit that backfired when Beijing decided too much was too much; and a meteoric rise and fall from a lack of discipline. Between 2015 and 2017 the then-airline firm’s $40 billion acquisition spree included stakes in the Hilton hotel chain and Deutsche Bank, bringing its total assets to more than $150 billion. It spent $6 billion to acquire California-based electronics firm Ingram Micro.

But debt piled up faster, and creditors and Beijing swooped in, demanding accountability, and forcing a massive asset selloff to pay down its arrears—which as of its last filing, in 2019, were roughly $109 billion. The saga seemed all but over after the Hainan provincial government last year essentially took control of the indebted behemoth, with plans for further asset sales and restructuring. But more bad news came crashing in. The Hainan government investigation concluded some 500 companies connected to HNA may be forced into bankruptcy restructuring, Chinese media outlet Caixin reported. Creditors then filed for HNA itself to be placed into bankruptcy and restructuring.

“HNA Group will comply with the court’s instructions of judicial review in accordance with law, promote the debts disposition actively, support the court to protect the legal rights and interests of creditors in accordance with law, and safeguard our normal business to be operated successfully,” the company said in a statement. HNA’s main creditor and head of the creditor committee is China Development Bank, one of the country’s three cabinet-led policy lenders. The head of the bank from 2013 to 2018, Hu Huaibang, led numerous underwritings for HNA acquisitions during its meteoric rise. Last year, Hu was arrested and charged with “suspected serious violations of discipline”—meaning corruption. How much of that, if any, is related to HNA deals is unclear.

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Yeah, give him another million.

Fauci Awarded $1m Israeli Prize For ‘Speaking Truth To Power’ (Ind.)

Dr Anthony Fauci was among recipients of the Dan David Prize, recognising his career in public health and “speaking truth to power” during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the awards organisation. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the US National Institutes of Health “is the consummate model of leadership and impact in public health,” the awards committee said in a statement. The prize, associated with Tel Aviv University, awards three $1 million prizes for “achievements having an outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact on our world.” Ten per cent of the prize money is set aside for academic scholarships in each winner’s field. [..]


The nation’s leading infectious disease expert emerged as a face of the US response to the public health crisis amid a turbulent and insufficient federal effort under Donald Trump’s administration. After the former president sidelined or removed him from the foreground of the federal response in the final months of his administration, Dr Fauci has returned to the White House under President Joe Biden, who enlisted him as a chief medical adviser. Within hours of the president’s inauguration, Dr Fauci addressed the World Health Organisation to assure the agency that the US will honour its partnership and funding commitments, after Mr Trump antagonised the United Nations group and pledged to isolate the US from its global health efforts.

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This son’t make the WHO happy.

WHO Adviser: Wuhan Lab Probe Was Conducted By ‘Chinese Authorities’ (SAC)

World Health Organization adviser Jamie Metzl revealed that the WHO’s investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology was conducted “by Chinese autorities,” during an interview Wednesday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.” The WHO announced earlier this week that the investigation had ended because investigators had found it a “very unlikely” source of the COVID-19 virus. It has been alleged that the virus may have leaked from the lab. Such accidents, however, were dismissed by the WHO as “extremely rare.” It is the global organization’s belief that the virus was first transmitted from animal to human. “Well, the investigation itself was very short. It was two weeks of quarantine and two weeks of meetings, but the actual investigation was done by Chinese authorities.

And so, the W.H.O. investigators were basically receiving reports from the Chinese officials,” Metzl told Ingraham. “And as I see it, the big failure is that they outlined four possible ways that COVID could have begun. One was direct bat to human. Second, bat through an animal intermediate host. Third, through shipping or some kind of frozen food from somewhere else. And four, the accidental lab leak. As you know, Laura, for more than a year, I’ve been one of the leading advocates saying we have to look very, very seriously at option four.”

“But rather than saying, alright, let’s look more deeply at all of those possibilities, the W.H.O. investigators said we should look at the first three, but not at the accidental lab leak,” Metzl said. “And I’m just miffed that this has happened and I think it’s really terrible.” The U.S. State Department in January detailed that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was conducting dangerous research on coronaviruses and couldn’t be ruled out completely as a possible source of the virus outbreak. In fact, the report mentioned that in the fall of 2019, researchers at the lab became sick and exhibited COVID-19-like symptoms. Further, the State Department said the lab was being operated by the Chinese military.

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The Rev. Will Campbell was a wise man.

Cancel Culture, Where Liberalism Goes to Die (Chris Hedges)

The Rev. Will Campbell was forced out of his position as director of religious life at the University of Mississippi in 1956 because of his calls for integration. He escorted Black children through a hostile mob in 1957 to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School. He was the only white person that was invited to be part of the group that founded Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He helped integrate Nashville’s lunch counters and organize the Freedom Rides. But Campbell was also, despite a slew of death threats he received from white segregationists, an unofficial chaplain to the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

He denounced and publicly fought the Klan’s racism, acts of terror and violence and marched with Black civil rights protestors in his native Mississippi, but he steadfastly refused to “cancel” white racists out of his life. He refused to demonize them as less than human. He insisted that this form of racism, while evil, was not as insidious as a capitalist system that perpetuated the economic misery and instability that pushed whites into the ranks of violent, racist organizations. “During the civil rights movement, when we were developing strategies, someone usually said, ‘Call Will Campbell. Check with Will,’” Rep. John Lewis wrote in the introduction to the new edition of Campbell’s memoir Brother to a Dragonfly, one of the most important books I read as a seminarian.

“Will knew that the tragedy of Southern history had fallen on our opponents as well as our allies … on George Wallace and Bull Connor as well as Rosa Parks and Fred Shuttlesworth. He saw that it had created the Ku Klux Klan as well as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. That insight led Will to see racial healing and equity, pursued through courage, love, and faith as the path to spiritual liberation for all.” Jimmy Carter wrote of Campbell that he “tore down the walls that separated white and black Southerners.” And because the Black Panther organizer Fred Hampton was doing the same thing in Chicago, the FBI — which, along with the CIA, is the de facto ally of the liberal elites in their war against Trump and his supporters — assassinated him.

When the town Campbell lived in decided the Klan should not be permitted to have a float in the Fourth of July parade Campbell did not object, as long as the gas and electric company was also barred. It was not only white racists who inflicted suffering on the innocent and the vulnerable, but institutions that place the sanctity of profit before human life. “People can’t pay their gas and electric bills, the heat gets turned off and they freeze and sometimes die, especially if they are elderly,” he said. “This, too, is an act of terrorism.” “Theirs you could see and deal with, and if they broke the law, you could punish them,” he said of the Klan. “But the larger culture that was, and still is, racist to the core is much more difficult to deal with and has a more sinister influence.”

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 152021
 
 February 15, 2021  Posted by at 10:20 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Landscape with snow 1888

 

Israeli Study Finds 94% Drop In Symptomatic COVID Cases With Pfizer Vaccine (R.)
Covid-19: Ivermectin Victim Of Dishonest Attacks (Maudrux)
Politicians, Doctors Keep Ignoring The Research On Vitamin D And Covid (Cook)
Fauci: Stimulus Bill Needs To Be Passed For Schools To Reopen (Hill)
Georgia State Bar Files Grievance Against Lin Wood (DB)
Lin Wood Will Represent Sidney Powell In Dominion Defamation Case (F.)
The New York Times Retracts the Sicknick Story (AmG)
The “For The People Act” Would Make The US a Democracy (IC)
Majority of Americans Say US Democracy Isn’t Thriving (NYP)
A Short Guide to Long, Healthy Life (Mangan)

 

 

 

 

Promising. But a bit hasty for big conclusions, perhaps? Unless you have something you want to sell?!

And then there’s this from the second article: “..if we type Corminaty (Pfizzer vaccine) we have 65,188 declarations, against 46 for Ivermectin..”

Israeli Study Finds 94% Drop In Symptomatic COVID Cases With Pfizer Vaccine (R.)

Israel’s largest healthcare provider on Sunday reported a 94% drop in symptomatic COVID-19 infections among 600,000 people who received two doses of the Pfizer’s vaccine in the country’s biggest study to date. Health maintenance organization (HMO) Clalit, which covers more than half of all Israelis, said the same group was also 92% less likely to develop severe illness from the virus. The comparison was against a group of the same size, with matching medical histories, who had not received the vaccine. “It shows unequivocally that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is extremely effective in the real world a week after the second dose, just as it was found to be in the clinical study,” said Ran Balicer, Clalit’s chief innovation officer.


He added that the data indicates the Pfizer vaccine, which was developed in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech, is even more effective two weeks or more after the second shot. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science, who have been tabulating national data, said on Sunday that a sharp decline in hospitalisation and serious illness identified earlier among the first age group to be vaccinated – aged 60 or older – was seen for the first time in those aged 55 and older. Hospitalisations and serious illness were still rising in younger groups who began vaccinations weeks later. Israel has been conducting a rapid vaccine rollout and its database offers insights into vaccine effectiveness and at what point countries might attain herd immunity.

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From France Soir, Google translated.

“Opinion piece by Dr Gérard Maudrux , after having been president of the Autonomous Retirement Fund for Doctors of France (CARMF) for 18 years, this urologist continues to speak on his blog in Le Quotidien du médecins. Doctor engaged since he supported the request for temporary payment of use for Ivermectin before the Council of State with the assistance of Me Teissedre. He finds himself today summoned before the council of the order to explain himself on his blog. In his debriefing, he explained to us that the doctors were afraid, that they were silent. With his agreement, we reproduce this forum which better reflects his commitment and his freedom of expression. ”

Covid-19: Ivermectin Victim Of Dishonest Attacks (Maudrux)

The latest attacks against Ivermectin dramatically demonstrate the financial issues behind the early and outpatient treatment of Covid, and the way in which the French are being manipulated. Merck opened the ball by denigrating the molecule it produces, and its press release will be put forward by all the newspapers and the authorities (we will see for the ANSM) to justify its non-use. The conflict of interest is however too big, but it will not be put forward: the laboratory is developing 2 products that could bring it big, while Ivermectin, which has fallen into the public domain, no longer brings in anything. If one day Ivermectin becomes THE drug against Sars-Cov-2, billions and billions of losses for the global pharmaceutical industry . With such sums at stake, everything will be done to prevent this from happening.

Predictably, the scenario we saw for Hydroxychloroquine happens again. There is “a worrying lack of safety data in the majority of studies” according to Merck. So I went to the WHO database, Vigibase, which collects data from pharmacovigilance centers such as ANSM in France, from more than 130 countries. In 30 years, 175,208 adverse effects for Aspirin, 159,824 for Paracetamol and 4,614 for Ivermectin. On more than 4 billion doses prescribed over this period, this makes 0.0001%. Since the beginning of the year if we type Corminaty (Pfizzer vaccine) we have 65,188 declarations, against 46 for Ivermectin . So I went to see the publication of our Medicines Safety Agency. In its report of January 11 on the side effects of drugs used for Covid, the ANSM reports 0 declarations for Ivermectin , against 271 for Hydroxychloroquine.

In the 15,143 specialties reimbursed in France, in the world pharmacopoeia, I believe that we can say that there is no drug that has so few side effects. So why deny it when there is no risk and a presumption of effectiveness, while allowing Aspirin and Paracetamol which have 30 to 50 times more side effects and without desired efficacy? If you take 10 tablets of Doliprane, recommended by authorities, you may die from liver necrosis. On the other hand, you can take 50 tablets of Ivermectin 3 days in a row and continue to go about your daily activities without any problem.

In the literature, there are several studies that have tested this toxicity. I have mentioned several times this , 10 times the normal dose, no problem. It is not the only one of this type. Several children with leukemia were treated at 3 times the dose times 15 days, and even 6 months, without side effects. 30 times the dose (10mg / kg) have been tested in dogs with no problem. In this literature, we also note that most of the side effects reported are linked to the release of degradation products from the killed parasites, and for Covid to associated drugs such as Doxycycline.

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Jonathan Cook on the study I quoted David Davis on yesterday. See a lot of people tweeting about the danger of either the study or the substance.

Politicians, Doctors Keep Ignoring The Research On Vitamin D And Covid (Cook)

It is probably not a good idea to write while in the grip of anger. But I am struggling to suppress my emotions about a wasted year, during which politicians and many doctors have ignored a growing body of evidence suggesting that Vitamin D can play a critically important role in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19. It is time to speak out forcefully now that a new, large-scale Spanish study demonstrates not a just a correlation but a causal relationship between high-dose Vitamin D treatment of hospitalised Covid patients and significantly improved outcomes for their health. The pre-print paper in the Lancet shows there was an 80 per cent reduction in admission to intensive care units among hospitalised patients who were treated with large doses of Vitamin D, and a 64 per cent reduction in death.

The possibility of these being chance findings are infinitesimally small, note the researchers. And to boot, the study found no side-effects even when these mega-doses were given short term to the hospitalised patients. Those are astounding figures that deserve to be on front pages, especially at a time when politicians and doctors are uncertain whether they can ever find a single magic-bullet vaccine against Covid as new variants pop up like spring daffodils. If Vitamin D can approximate a cure for many of those hospitalised with Covid, one can infer that it should prove even more effective when used as a prophylactic. Most people in northern latitudes ought to be taking Vitamin D through much of the year in significant doses – well above the current, outdated 400IU recommended by governments like the UK’s.

This new study ought to finally silence the naysayers, though doubtless it won’t. So far it has attracted little media attention. What has been most troubling over the past year is that every time I and others have gently drawn attention to each new study that demonstrated the dramatic benefits of Vitamin D, we were greeted with knee-jerk dismissals that the studies showed only a correlation, not a causal link. That was a deeply irresponsible response, especially in the midst of a global pandemic for which effective treatments are urgently needed. The never-satisfied have engaged in the worst kind of blame-shifting, implicitly maligning medical researchers for the fact that they could only organise small-scale, improvised studies because governments were not supporting and funding the larger-scale research needed to prove conclusively whether Vitamin D was effective.

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The people haven’t got their checks, but schools should?

Fauci: Stimulus Bill Needs To Be Passed For Schools To Reopen (Hill)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said on Sunday that a stimulus bill needed to be passed in order for schools to safely reopen. While appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Fauci spoke with host George Stephanopoulos about how schools could safely reopen, expanding on new guidelines that were recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “It’s the first time that it’s been put down in a document based on scientific observations and data over the last several months to a year, both in the United States and elsewhere. Part of that is to indicate and to suggest strongly that a preference be given to teachers to get vaccinated,” Fauci said, though he added it was possible to reopen schools without having all teachers vaccinated beforehand.


When asked by Stephanopoulos if schools had the resources available to abide by the new CDC guidelines, Fauci said he did not believe so. “I think that the schools really do need more resources and that’s the reason why the national relief act that we’re talking about getting passed — we need that. The schools need more resources.” House committees have begun marking up portions of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, and Democrats have vowed to pass a final bill into law by early next month. However, Fauci on Sunday appeared to be optimistic about reopening schools, a move that he has been supportive of throughout the pandemic, arguing the detriment to young students was too great. “I think it can be done. I mean, obviously it’s not a perfect situation, but it’s really important to get the children back to school in a safest way as possible. Safe for the children, but also safe for the teachers and the other educators,” Fauci said.

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I’ve maintained throughout that we should let the dice roll as they may, and this is where they landed.

Georgia State Bar Files Grievance Against Lin Wood (DB)

MAGA lawyer Lin Wood says he received a 1,600-page grievance from the Georgia State Bar and whined that “they have thrown the kitchen sink at me.” A copy of a Telegram message sent by Wood to his followers—obtained by journalist Stephen Fowler—shows Wood then asked “an Army of Patriots” to dig into the backgrounds of the disciplinary board members so he can try to disqualify them in an effort to stave off disbarment. The grievance begins with a list of lawsuits that Wood filed in an attempt to overturn the election of President Joe Biden, and also includes a lawsuit filed by his former associates in which they allege bizarre and frightening behavior. Wood was recently hired to defend fellow MAGA lawyer Sidney Powell in a million-dollar defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems—a target of her conspiracy theories.

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They get another chance to talk about Venezuela, Cuba and China being involved.

Lin Wood Will Represent Sidney Powell In Dominion Defamation Case (F.)

Conservative attorney L. Lin Wood will join fellow lawyer Sidney Powell’s legal team in a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, even as the pro-Trump lawyer faces the threat of litigation for spreading baseless conspiracy theories about the company’s voting machines. Dominion is suing Powell for spreading a baseless conspiracy theory alleging its voting machines fraudulently flipped votes to Joe Biden. Wood said on Telegram Friday that Powell called him Thursday night and asked him to serve as her lead counsel in the case, adding, “I quickly accepted.” Powell’s attorney Howard Kleinhendler confirmed to Forbes in an email that Wood will be joining the legal team. “Sidney and I will not be intimidated,” Wood wrote, claiming he and Powell “will not go quietly into the night.”

Wood frequently appeared alongside Powell after the election to push the Dominion fraud claims and was involved with her lawsuits aimed at overturning the results of the election. Dominion has sent a letter to Wood warning it may bring a defamation lawsuit against him, asked social media networks to preserve his posts and singled out Wood in its lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani as being particularly “determined to promote” the conspiracy theory against them (the company declined to comment on Wood’s involvement in Powell’s case). “Get ready to rumble, Dominion,” Wood wrote on Telegram. “You made a mistake suing Sidney. You are going to pay a heavy price.”

Wood is facing wide-ranging consequences for spreading conspiracy theories since the election, which included outlandish claims involving former Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. He has been removed from an unrelated Delaware case over his conduct, and attorneys for MSNBC host Joy Reid have asked him to be removed as attorney in a separate defamation case. The Georgia State Bar has also confirmed it is moving forward with an inquiry into Wood’s mental health in light of his post-election behavior, which could result in his license to practice law potentially being revoked.

Wood’s defense of Powell comes after he recently tried to distance himself from her post-election lawsuits in Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona in a court filing in the defamation case against Reid. After the MSNBC host’s attorney pointed to Wood’s appearance with Powell as co-counsel in the suits as a reason for him to be removed from her case, he noted that he was “not counsel of record” in those cases and did not try to seek privileges to argue the case in court. He did acknowledge having a larger involvement in Powell’s Georgia lawsuit.

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Just too crazy. And then they go on as if nothing happened.

The New York Times Retracts the Sicknick Story (AmG)

In a quiet but stunning correction, the New York Times backed away from its original report that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was killed by a Trump supporter wielding a fire extinguisher during the January 6 melee at the Capitol building. Shortly after American Greatness published my column Friday that showed how the Times gradually was backpedaling on its January 8 bombshell, the paper posted this caveat: The paper continued to revise its story within the body of the original January 8 story: “Law enforcement officials initially said Mr. Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher, but weeks later, police sources and investigators were at odds over whether he was hit. Medical experts have said he did not die of blunt force trauma, according to one law enforcement official.”

What’s missing, however, is how the Times first described what happened to Sicknick. “Mr. Sicknick, 42, an officer for the Capitol Police, died on Thursday from brain injuries he sustained after Trump loyalists who overtook the complex struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials.” The account of Sicknick’s death was reported as fact, not speculation or rumor. Further, it appears that the anonymous sources were not law enforcement officials but people “close” to the police department—which means they could have been anyone from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to inveterate liar U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to the Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser.

Not only was the Times’ untrue story about Sicknick’s death accepted as fact by every news media organization from the Wall Street Journal to the Washington Post, political pundits on the NeverTrump Right also regurgitated the narrative that Sicknick was “murdered” as did lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. In an outrageous effort to create more favorable optics before the impeachment trial, House Democrats honored Sicknick in a rare memorial at the Capitol Rotunda on February 3. Joe Biden, in a statement issued after Donald Trump was acquitted Saturday afternoon, repeated the lie about Sicknick. “It was nearly two weeks ago that Jill and I paid our respects to Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who laid in honor in the Rotunda after losing his life protecting the Capitol from a riotous, violent mob on January 6, 2021.”

The Times’ correction might be one reason why Democrats on Saturday reversed their demand to subpoena witnesses. House impeachment managers cited the original January 8 Times’ article as evidence in their impeachment memo: “The insurrectionists killed a Capitol Police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher.” Any arrangement to compel testimony would have provided Trump’s legal team with an opportunity to expose yet another myth in the Democrats’ “incitement” case against the former president.

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Some things just sound too good.

The “For The People Act” Would Make The US a Democracy (IC)

Since the 117th Congress was convened on January 3, over 2,000 bills have been introduced in the House and Senate. But the very first legislation proposed by the Democratic Party majorities in both chambers — making it both H.R.1 and S.1 — is the “For the People Act” of 2021. This is appropriate, because the For the People Act is plausibly the most important legislation considered by Congress in decades. It would change the basic structure of U.S. politics, making it far more small-d democratic. The bill makes illegal essentially all of the anti-enfranchisement tactics perfected by the right over the past decades. It then creates a new infrastructure to permanently bolster the influence of regular people.

The bill’s provisions largely fall into three categories: First, it makes it far easier to vote, both by eliminating barriers and enhancing basic outreach to citizens. Second, it makes everyone’s vote count more equally, especially by reducing gerrymandering. Third, it hugely amplifies the power of small political donors, allowing them to match and possibly swamp the power of big money. There’s a popular, weary American aphorism (often attributed to the anarchist Emma Goldman, although she apparently did not say it): “If voting could change anything, it would be made illegal.” The meaning is always taken to be that voting is pointless. However, the past decades of U.S. politics demonstrate that this saying is accurate — but in fact its meaning is exactly the opposite.

[..] Under the bill, candidates for congressional office could opt into a system that would provide matching funds for small donations. To qualify, the candidate would need to raise $50,000 from at least 1,000 individuals; take no more than $1,000 from any contributor; and spend no more than $50,000 of their own money. In return, all donations to the candidate up to $200 would be matched with public funds at a 6 to 1 ratio. Thus if you gave $10 to someone running for Congress, they would receive that plus another $60, totaling $70. Maryland Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes, the House sponsor of the For the People Act, has explained — based on his own experience and what he’s witnessed of his colleagues’ behavior — how this would change the core incentives for politicians.

Right now, says Sarbanes, it is only worth a candidate’s time to attend a fundraising event if they will receive at least $10,000 in contributions. There’s therefore no point in going to a house party with 30 constituents each ponying up $50 for a total of $1,500. Instead, they’ll head to events organized by D.C. lobbyists, who will each write big checks. But with 6 to 1 matching funds, the same constituent house party would generate $10,500 — $1,500 from individuals, $9,000 from the government (also known as “the people”) — suddenly making it worth a politician’s while. That’s not all, however: Sarbanes points out that from a candidate’s perspective, such an event would actually be more valuable than a K Street fundraiser, because attendees “can vote, they can donate, they can volunteer, they can rope their friends in. You’re creating an active, engaged group of people around your campaign. That can be worth 2 to 3 points, that’s the difference in a close election.”

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You don’t say.

Majority of Americans Say US Democracy Isn’t Thriving (NYP)

Only 16 percent of Americans believe the country’s democracy is thriving, according to a poll conducted after the deadly Capitol riots on Jan. 6. But the vast majority accept that a government by the people is a critically important principle of the United States, the poll said. Fewer than 1 in 6 Americans surveyed by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research said democracy is working well or extremely well. Forty-five percent said they think democracy isn’t functioning properly, and 38 percent said it’s working only somewhat well. About half of those polled think President Donald Trump should be convicted in this week’s Senate impeachment trial for “incitement of insurrection.”

Nearly two-thirds of Americans think the Republican Party is at least partly responsible for the riot by promoting baseless claims of election fraud. The AP-NORC poll also found that Republicans, in particular, have lost faith in the US’s system of government since Trump’s attack on the election results. In October, 68 percent of GOP supporters said democracy was working at least somewhat well. That figure plummeted to only 36 percent in January. Confidence in representative government soared among Democrats during that time, rising from 37 percent to 70 percent. When it came to the 2020 election, about two-thirds of Americans say President Biden was fairly elected, but only a third of Republicans agree.

Seventy percent of Americans polled believe Biden, a Democrat, respects democratic institutions at least a fair amount. However, only 42 percent of Republicans hold that view. Only 38 percent of responders believed Trump had at least fair respect for government institutions. Notably, 27 percent of Republicans said the former president had little or no respect for the government.

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I know, Mangan seems a bit of a poser. But in these times it’s a good idea to be extra healthy.

A Short Guide to Long, Healthy Life (Mangan)

Almost 90 years ago, the scientist Clive McCay made an unusual discovery: when he fed his lab rats less food than they wanted to eat, they lived longer – a lot longer. And they lived in better health, with a more youthful appearance, more energy, and just all-around awesomeness. Since then, this procedure, known as calorie or dietary restriction, has been repeated thousands of times and on many different species of animals (including humans), and in virtually all cases, animals live longer and in better health. (In the case of humans, we obviously can’t cage them and study them for decades to see how long they live; nevertheless, humans who restrict calories have much better health and low risk of chronic disease.)

Scientists have pondered the question as to why calorie restriction extends life, and come up with many possible answers, which need not detain us here, but we do know that it works. There’s one problem though: calorie restriction is difficult. Animals kept in these conditions are hungry all the time. It seems unlikely that many humans would voluntarily adopt such an unpleasant lifestyle. But scientists noticed something else about these animals: since they were so hungry, when they were fed, they ate all their food at once. They then fasted for 24 hours until their next feeding. Maybe fasting was the key?

In the 1990s, the scientist Cynthia Kenyon (who now works in Google’s anti-aging program) made another momentous discovery in aging: by changing a single gene, her lab animals (worms) lived much longer than normal. The single gene change involved insulin, a hormone that in humans is secreted in response to food. Now we’re getting somewhere. Calorie restriction and fasting both lower levels of insulin, and this may be the key to longer life and better health.

Many people have taken up the practice of intermittent fasting, which simply means going without food for some period of time, often 16 hours. (Sleep time counts.) Fasting is a healthy practice, but, like calorie restriction, also seems unlikely to be widely adopted. Can you get the effects of fasting without actually, you know, fasting? There may be a way. Without deep diving into biochemistry and physiology, it appears that most of the benefits of fasting come from just one thing: eating fewer carbohydrates, which are the main nutrient found in foods such as bread, pastries, pasta, rice, potatoes, and sugar. So if someone eats a diet very low in carbohydrates, they may get most or all of the benefits of fasting, or even of calorie restriction.

Read more …

 

 

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